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.]

Ursula K. Le Guin Stamp Will Be Issued July 27

The Ursula K. Le Guin commemorative Forever stamp announced at the start of the year will become available on July 27.

Its appearance will be celebrated by a First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony on that date in Portland, Oregon. The outdoor ceremony in the Evan H. Roberts Sculpture Mall of the Portland Art Museum will be held “rain or shine” says the USPS. Those planning to attend in person are asked to RSVP here. Alternatively, people can view a short pre-recorded introduction of the stamp on the Postal Service’s Facebook and Twitter pages, available on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 1 p.m. PST.

The 33rd stamp in the Literary Arts series honors Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018), who “expanded the scope of literature through novels and short stories that increased critical and popular appreciation of science fiction and fantasy.” The stamp features a portrait of Le Guin based on a 2006 photograph. The background shows a scene from her landmark 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, in which an envoy from Earth named Genly Ai escapes from a prison camp across the wintry planet of Gethen with Estraven, a disgraced Gethenian politician. 

The artist for the stamp is Donato Giancola, a three-time Hugo winner who also was named a Spectrum Awards Grandmaster in 2019.

The stamp is valid for 3-ounce mail, currently costs 95¢, and a sheet of 20 can be pre-ordered here for $19.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark. Collectors can get the first-day-of-issue postmark in two ways.

(1) The Postal Service offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the USA Philatelic catalog and online at usps.com/shop

(2) The USPS gives customers 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office™ or at The Postal Store® website at usps.com/shop. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

FDOI – Ursula K. Le Guin Stamp
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by November 27, 2021.

European Astrobiology Institute Opens Kickstarter to Fund “Life Beyond Us” Anthology

The European Astrobiology Institute and the European Science Foundation are creating Life Beyond Us: An Original Anthology Of Sf Stories And Science Essays with many well-known SF writers to promote the understanding of science through summer schools, workshops, and outreach projects. Each story is accompanied by an essay (by scientists working on the origins of life, habitability, and life detection) to outline the actual science explored in that story. More than just another anthology, it’s a tool for science education.

To fund publication of the anthology, a Kickstarter is running currently and will end on May 12, 2021. The Kickstarter link is here.

When the Kickstarter funds, it will include stories by Eugen Bacon, Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, Tobias S. Buckell, Eric Choi, Julie E. Czerneda, Tessa Fisher, Simone Heller, Valentin Ivanov, Mary Robinette Kowal, Geoffrey A. Landis, Rich Larson, Premee Mohamed, G. David Nordley, Malka Older, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Tomáš Petrásek, Arula Ratnakar, DA Xiaolin Spires, Bogi Takács, and Peter Watts. The anthology will be edited by Julie Nováková, Lucas K. Law, and Susan Forest.

Rewards available for project backers include experiences not available elsewhere:

  • A virtual tour of the Very Large Telescope (Atacama Desert, Chile)
  • A virtual tour of an astrobiology lab doing microbe research (Extraterrestrial Oceans Habitability Lab)
  • A music and astrobiology show
  • Helping to design Julie Czerneda’s alien for her next SF novel
  • A fun astrobiology talk for your classroom or club
  • Conversations with some of the big name authors
  • Tuckerizations, swag, Zoom AMAs, and story critiques

European Astrobiology Institute plans to release the book in September 2022: fitting, given that European Space Agency’s rover Rosalind Franklin will be launched to travel to Mars that month.

There are special editions such as the Limited Hardcover (illustrated case-laminated cover, dust jacket, and signed) and Patron Editions (illustrated case-laminated cover, dust jacket, and signed). The Limited Edition and Patron Editions are adorned by interior artwork consisting of 19th century naturalist Ernst Haeckel’s beautiful and mesmerizing illustrations of life on Earth, often stranger than most aliens we can imagine. (Click for larger images.)

For further information, plus a bonus interview with SF author Dr. Gregory Benford, see this update .

What comes to your mind first when you say “astrobiology”?

Benford: Exoplanets in SF, plus cosmology…

Can you hint at what’s your story going to be about?

Benford: Life in the outer solar system.

Is there any place in the universe you’d love to see – where and why? 

Benford: Galactic center! I’ve written papers about the vast magnetic structures there and the black hole vicinity.

The Life Beyond Us Kickstarter will last until May 12, 2021. The pledges have already passed the 62% level. 

[Based on a press release.]

Snag Tights Offer
A Fantasy Range

By James Bacon: Fans love clothing that is related to SFnal elements, and I have a number of garments that I adore, wear too much and are absolutely wearing my fandom on my sleeve, literally. So when I saw this, I was like — that is VERY cool — some thought has occurred here, in a similar artistic fashion as one might find with Fountain Pen Inks.

Offered in 80 denier opaque and a ‘marl’ effect, it looks like a product that may be of interest to Filers and fans.

A deeper look at Snag Tights indicates that they have a good set of standards, the company website speaks to being inclusive, affordable, sustainable and pay fair wages, as well as welcoming affiliates.

Brie Read started the business in 2019 but it now has a huge following, believes in user generated content and is herself a size acceptence advocate. An interview earlier this year appeared on the Joy of Marketing“Brie Read from Snag Tights on building a business and a community”.

Read was born in Saudi Arabia and moved around the world as a youngster but went to University of Dundee studying computer science and psychology, and has settled in Scotland as it “feels like home”.

Hollywood Icons Go on the Block December 18

Heritage Auction’s next Hollywood Auction on December 18 will feature Margaret Hamilton’s “Wicked Witch of the West” screen-worn flying hat from The Wizard of Oz. Among the other goodies you can bid on are —

  • Elizabeth Taylor “Cleopatra” lavender gown and headdress from Cleopatra (1963).
  • Marlon Brando “Fletcher Christian” Royal Navy officer uniform from Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).
  • Original Lucasfilm-sanctioned “Darth Vader” promotional costume for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi
  • Frank Darabont personal 3-sheet poster from Planet of the Apes signed by Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall and James Whitmore.
  • Ultra-heavy “Thor” Mjölnir hammer used by all the Avengers in the “worthy test” sequence in Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Moe Howard’s (70+) page handwritten manuscript for his autobiography Moe Howard and the Three Stooges.
  • Robert Keeshan’s iconic “Captain Kangaroo” jacket from Captain Kangaroo
  • Lou Ferrigno “The Hulk” screen worn costume on custom display from The Incredible Hulk
  • Kevin Costner “Mariner” costume ensemble from Waterworld
  • Director Barry Sonnenfeld’s annotated shooting script from The Addams Family.

Plus the Michael Keaton original “Batman” cowl and display from Batman Returns.

Also the helmet worn by actor Michael Ansara in the “Soldier” episode of Outer Limits. (Which John King Tarpinian assures me was also worn by Robin Williams in an episode of Mork and Mindy.)

Or maybe you’d like to exchange a pile of dollars for these cubits from Battlestar Galactica.

And I’m sure we all remember Apocalypse Kong – don’t we?

Finally, for your listening pleasure, a recording of a Star Trek score — but which episode? Perhaps “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the third episode which aired two days after the date on the box.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Fireside Editor Apologizes for “Auditory Blackface” by Narrator of Essay in November Issue

Fireside Magazine has come under intense criticism because in the audio recording of one of its essays the white voice actor used an offensive stereotype of the American southern Black accent in his narration. 

“Da Art of Speculatin’” by Dr. Regina N. Bradley was offered as a free-read article accompanied by a free-to-listen audio of the text.

Fireside editor Pablo Defendini has since taken the audio down. The essay itself, discussing the influence of the Southern hip hop group OutKast, is still available at Fireside.

Dr. Bradley (@redclayscholar on Twitter) tweeted these grievances about how her work was treated, illustrated by a sound bite from the now removed audio:

There have been many responses and expressions of empathy, including —

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Daniel José Older

N. K. Jemisin

Roxane Gay

Mikki Kendall

Fireside editor Pablo Defendini tweeted apologies (thread starts here) which were incorporated in his longer write-up “Regarding our audio recordings” explaining what happened. A major revelation is that he didn’t listen to the audio before putting it online,

Earlier today we published an essay about OutKast by Dr. Regina Bradley. This is an essay written by a Black woman, about Black musicians, and edited by a Black man. I hired a white man to narrate the audio version of the essay, and that narrator decided to use an offensive stereotype of the American southern Black accent in his narration. This basically amounted to auditory blackface, in the worst tradition of racist minstrelsy. So why did I publish it? Frankly, I didn’t listen to it before I posted it. More on that, and on the other errors I made, in a second, because this is the context, not an excuse.

There is no excuse for having published it. I apologize for having done so. Specifically, I apologize to Dr. Bradley for having undermined her work, to Maurice Broaddus for having stained the otherwise outstanding issue of Fireside Quarterly that he edited, and to Chelle Parker, our copyeditor, for having put them in the line of fire for this, when they had no visibility into the audio production process or ability to prevent this from having happened.

On Twitter he emphasized:

Just to be explicitly clear: I’m the only one who manages the audio production process—this was entirely my doing, and no one else who works on Fireside had a chance to hear the audio, much less rectify. This is all absolutely my fault, no one else’s.

The work was done by voice actor Kevin Rineer, who tweeted his own apologies but has since taken down his account. Here are screencaps:

Rineer’s video says in part:

I know that it was completely inappropriate for me to have recorded especially with that accent. It was almost the same as if you tied a blindfold to a high school quarterback and expected him to make the game winning throw. It was horrible disgusting and a complete miss that’s what i meant by the the analogy there… My actions though were disgusting inappropriate and for that I do apologize

Yet it’s hard to reconcile the person capable of the self-flagellation of this apology with the one who made the original choice he did about his performance.

[Update: Rineer now has also closed his YouTube account. The video formerly linked here is no longer available.]

Defendini underscored his own failure to review the audio:

Apart from the inappropriate choice of narrator, I also didn’t provide any pertinent direction at the outset of the engagement. Normally, when I hire voice talent for narration, I send them some notes about the pieces I want them to narrate, pointing out special considerations, or particular pronunciations of tricky or uncommon terms. I failed to do that here.

I also failed to check each recording when I took delivery of them. I was pressed for time and trying to get work out the door, and I did not take the time to review the finished recordings. As many have correctly pointed out, it takes two seconds of listening to the recording to realize that this one was deeply, deeply problematic. I did not do so — I just moved the files along — and the result is that I allowed an extremely hurtful racist caricature to be published on Fireside’s website.

While it may not have been intentional, intent doesn’t matter. The harm caused is real. And this particular type of harm — in this particular moment in history — is extra fucked up. All I can do at this point is apologize, try to fix it, ensure it doesn’t happen again, and try to make up for it.

Because Kevin Rineer voiced the recordings for all the stories in the current issue of Fireside Quarterly, Defendini has pulled them all and will have them re-recorded.

And he will be making other changes to the production process:

  1. Starting with the Winter 2021 issue of Fireside Quarterly, which ships on January 1st, all stories will be narrated by individual narrators as opposed to by one narrator for an entire issue’s worth of stories.
  2. Starting with the Winter 2021 issue, I’ll send the final audio of each story to its author, in the same way we send them proofs of the print issue before it goes to press.
  3. Starting with the Spring issue of Fireside Quarterly, I’ll consult with the editor of each issue on the choice of narrator for each story before we hire anyone.

Defendini closed his post with further self-criticism and intent to make amends:

Finally, my personal neglect allowed racist violence to be perpetrated on a Black author, which makes me not just complicit in anti-Black racism, but racist as well. I have to grapple with that, and make amends. I’m not sure exactly how, yet, but some kind of concrete reparation is absolutely called for. I’m speaking with various folks who have reached out (and who I’ve reached out to as well), in order to figure out what that looks like.

This letter is the beginning of the process of making amends. I know that words don’t mean much without action to back them up. I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that nothing like this happens again.

Some writers commented that there needs to be a change in editor, Kate Dollarhyde, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, and Sarah Gailey, who indicated the issues raised today are not the only ones besetting Fireside: