Aydrea Walden Will Be SFWA Nebula Awards Toastmaster

Aydrea Walden

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) has named Aydrea Walden as the toastmaster for the 55th Annual Nebula Awards on May 30, an online ceremony.

Walden has written for the series Yin Yang Yo! and created, written, and starred in the Webby-nominated series Black Girl in a Big Dress.  She has worked in the animation department on the films The CroodsHome, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Walden also performs, appearing in her one woman show, The Oreo Experience: A Total Whitey Trapped in a Black Chick’s Body, the short film Sci-Fi 60, and an episode of The Mandalorian.

The Nebula Awards will be presented during the 2020 Nebula Conference Online during a live streamed ceremony at 8 p.m. Eastern on May 30. The conference, which will run from May 29-31, includes panels, solo presentations, conference mentorships, workshops, forums, chats, and virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by John Scalzi). A portion of the funds raised for the conference will go to assist SFWA members financially affected by COVID-19. 

New Baen Friday Night Live Reading Series

READING SERIES. Baen Books has launched a weekly author reading series to be conducted at 8 p.m. Eastern every Friday, hosted by editor Christopher Ruocchio via Zoom and Facebook LIVE.

On April 10 the guest will be Steven Barnes, reading from Starborn & Godsons, the third volume in the acclaimed Legacy of Heorot series that he co-authored with Larry Niven and the late Jerry Pournelle.

Following the reading, Barnes will take questions from the audience.

TRAVELING ROADSHOW. Additionally, Baen will be hosting a live version of their Travelling Roadshow, a showcase of all our upcoming titles—with special attention paid to the original cover art, Baen’s free ebook library, extensive study guides, and more—featuring several of their authors. Audience interaction is encouraged, and there will be free books awarded. The Roadshow will air in two parts, one on April 11 at 4 p.m. Eastern, and the next on April 18 at 4 p.m. Eastern.

All Baen Livestreaming can be found on the Baen Books Facebook page.

AudioFile Magazine’s Best New
Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks Spring 2020

From AudioFile Magazine, a sampler of new and classic sff audiobooks for fans to listen to this spring.

QUALITYLAND by Marc-Uwe Kling | read by Patricia Rodriguez | (Earphones Award Winner)

Narrator Patricia Rodriguez delivers a sensational performance of this dystopian satire in which the most successful company in the world uses algorithms to predict and deliver what you want before you even know you want it. When Peter Jobless receives a product he most definitely doesn’t want, he commences an elaborate plan to return it with the help of his band of robotic misfits….

DEATH’S MANTLE by Harmon Cooper | read by Andrea Parsneau | (Earphones Award Winner)

The “death” who comes for Lucien has been helping people pass over for more than 300 years. Narrator Andrea Parsneau portrays him as an old, tired, and somewhat feeble man. In contrast, although Lucien has outlived his doctors’ estimate of his life expectancy by two and half times, Parsneau makes him seem vital and feisty when he tries fending off death by drawing a gun on him. When he becomes Old Death’s successor, Parsneau imbues Lucien with a passion for discovering his powers and limitations….

TIME’S CHILDREN Islevale, Book 1  by D.B. Jackson | read by Helen Keeley | (Earphones Award Winner)

Narrator Helen Keeley follows the journey of 15-year old Tobias as he makes the transition from novitiate to walker in the sovereign’s court of Daerjen. At the behest of the sovereign, walkers travel back in time at a cost of one year off their lives for each year they travel back and forth….

THE SEEP by Chana Porter | read by Shakina Nayfack | (Earphones Award Winner)

Shakina Nayfack’s warm, potent tones highlight the deeply personal and humane side of Porter’s profound, ethereal alien-invasion story. The Seep has overhauled the world, allowing expanded consciousness and endless new experiences. Trina Fasthorse Goldberg-Oneka, a 50-year-old trans artist, cannot embrace this reality as others have, and when her wife leaves to become a child again, her world begins to unravel….

THE LIGHT OF ALL THAT FALLS  by James Islington | read by Michael Kramer | (Earphones Award Winner)

Michael Kramer narrates the epic conclusion to an epic fantasy trilogy. Four friends are led by the troubled Caeden to the northern border of Andarra to confront evil forces. As this story twists and weaves through time, morality shifts, and the cost of survival mounts. Kramer’s gravelly voice engages listeners with his masterful cadence and reflective tone….

THE KILLING FOG: The Grave Kingdom, Book 1  by Jeff Wheeler | read by Emily Woo Zeller

Narrator Emily Woo Zeller provides a spellbinding performance as she takes listeners on a young woman’s journey to achieve her own destiny and fulfill a legendary prophecy. Zeller embodies Bingmei, who fights to save humanity from despair and destruction while, at the same time, vacillating over whether to please her ancestors or her heart….

SFWA Unveils an Innovative “Virtual” Nebula Conference

Registration is now open for the transformed professional development conference.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), today unveiled the virtual home for SFWA’s 2020 Nebula Conference Online and showcased features of the upcoming professional development conference for science fiction and fantasy writers.

“We have been offering a streaming extension of the Nebulas for the past two years, with a long-term plan for more. With this new platform, not only will we be able to include people who would not otherwise be able to attend the Nebula Conference, but we’ll also be able to offer year-round opportunities for education and outreach.” the president of SFWA, Mary Robinette Kowal says.

The Conference, Transformed: This year’s transformed Nebula Conference will be held entirely online and will include two live tracks of live-streamed panels such as “Being a Creative in 2020: Building Community, Visibility, and Audience in a Virtual World”; “Blades and Badasses: Disability and Swordwork,” and “Writing Middle Grade with This Year’s Norton Award Nominee”  along with a third self-guided track of pre-recorded presentations which attendees can view at their leisure. 

SFWA’s successful conference mentorship program will also continue this year with one-on-one video conversations between early-career writers and established authors. Supporting content including writing workshops, forums, chats, and virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by bestselling author and former SFWA president John Scalzi) will round out the weekend.

The 2020 Nebula Conference Online will be held from May 29-31. Registration, which includes three days of online panels with real-time interaction, an annual subscription to archived content, and a one-year subscription to SFWA’s quarterly magazine the Bulletin, will be $150.

Kowal says that “SFWA’s vision for this year’s conference is for attendees to feel elevated through the content, enjoy a sense of community with their peers, and have an opportunity for celebration. We hope this year’s conference will replicate the informative, exciting, and social experience that the Nebula Conference has always offered, while being more accessible than ever before, and welcoming attendees from around the world who may never have had the chance to attend previously.”

The annual culmination of the conference is the Nebula Awards ceremony, a gala event in which SFWA members award the 2019 Nebula Awards® to the best works of science fiction and fantasy of the year. This year’s event will also take place virtually, and will be live-streamed to conference attendees and the public alike, on May 30th at 8:00 PM ET.

Taking a New Direction: With today’s announcement, SFWA officially launched the 2020 Nebula Conference Online registration page, an online entry point for conference attendees that shares the aesthetic of the conference while the full conference experience is finalized.

This year’s transformed Nebula Conference comes in response to public health measures addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, which have limited in-person gatherings and instituted physical distancing policies across the United States.  

For the first time, part of the proceeds from this year’s conference will go to SFWA’s “Where The Need Is Greatest” fund to provide grants to members to address the financial difficulties experienced by many of SFWA’s members as a result of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19. In addition, SFWA’s Emergency Medical Fund is available for members who have unexpected medical bills that interfere with their ability to write.

“We are all aware of the hardships that our members have experienced — and will continue to experience — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kowal said. “It’s our hope that the 2020 Nebula Conference Online will continue to be a valuable resource for everyone who can attend, member and non-member alike, while also raising much-needed funds to help those in our community that have been hardest hit by the disease and its repercussions.”

New Look, New Feel: Visitors to the 2020 Nebula Conference Online landing page will notice the refreshed and redesigned SFWA logo, the work of SFWA’s new art director, Lauren Raye Snow. The new look and feel for SFWA’s logo is part of a planned refresh for the organization’s publications, web sites, and visual assets. The new look will extend across all parts of the 2020 Nebula Conference Online materials, and is inspired by the fantastic visual aesthetic of early 20th century graphic arts. 

Snow says, “I’m excited by the opportunity to reclaim and explore a classic domain with culturally expansive motifs, characters, and messages.” 

Intended to be timeless, invoking both the WPA’s National Parks posters and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Space Tourism project: the update captures the best of that pioneering spirit as 2020 launches SFWA into the future.

Visit the 2020 Nebula Conference Online Registration Page.

[From a press release.]

Media Birthday Party, 3/31

By Cat Eldridge.

  • March 31, 1995 Tank Girl premiered. Based on the British comic book created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett (who also illustrated it), the movie starred Lori Petty as Tank Girl along along with Naomi Watts, Ice-T and Malcolm McDowell. It was directed by Rachel Talalay who was responsible for Ghost in The Machine, and directed a lot of new era Doctor Who episodes.  Critics at the time used words like tiresome and amateurish to describe it though one found it funnier than Batman Forever. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent 63% rating. 
  • March 31, 1987 — The Max Headroom series premiered on ABC. This is the America version of Max Headroom as the British version was Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future which is essentially identical to the initial origin episode of the American series. Matt Frewer as Max Headroom and Edison Carter; Amanda Pays as Theora Jones; and W. Morgan Sheppard as Blank Reg, would reprise their characters from the British film. It ran from April of 1985 to March of 1987.  A spin-off series, a talk show featuring Max was recorded, The Original Max Talking Headroom Show, this time in New York. It aired on Cinemax between the two seasons and lasted six episodes. 
  • March 31, 2009 Dragonquest premiered. It was directed by Mark Atkins, and produced by David Michael, Latt David Rimawi and Paul Bales. It stars Marc Singer, best remembered for his roles in the Beastmaster film franchise, along with Jason Connery and Brian Thompson.   It bears absolutely no relation to either the novel of that name by Anne McCaffrey, nor to the Dragon Quest RPG series. On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience reviewers definitely do not like it as they give it a 6% rating. 
  • March 31, 1999 The Matrix premiered. It written and directed by the Wachowskis.  It starred Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano and Hugo Weaving. It was the first film in the Matrix franchise. It would finish second to Galaxy Quest in the Long Form Dramatic Presentation Hugo voting at Chicon 2000.  It’s considered one of the best SF films of all time, and it currently has a rating of 85% among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • March 31, 1987 Steel Dawn premiered. It was directed by Lance Hool. It starred Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi. The working title of the film, reflecting its mix of science fiction and western, was Desert Warrior. Doug Legler, best known as director of the Dragonheart sequel Dragonheart: A New Beginning, was the writer. Though made on a shoestring comparatively speaking, it still lost millions, and critics founds it boring. Currently it has a 34% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

SFWA Names New Managing Editor, Art Director, and Volunteer Coordinator

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has added three staff members: Kevin Wabaunsee has been named as the new SFWA Managing Editor, Lauren Raye Snow has been named as the new SFWA Art Director, and Beth Dawkins has been named the new SFWA Volunteer Coordinator.

The Managing Editor will support the Editor-in-Chief in overseeing the reorganization and production of SFWA’s publications and communications channels. The Art Director will oversee all visual aspects of SFWA, including graphics, branding, and design. The Volunteer Coordinator will work across the organization to ensure that members who want to offer their time and services are placed where they are needed most.

Kevin Wabaunsee

Wabaunsee is a speculative fiction writer and editor. He is a Prairie Band Potawatomi, a Chicagoan, and a former newspaper reporter. Wabaunsee is a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop and an associate editor at Escape Pod. His short fiction has been published by Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, and PseudoPod. In addition to his SF/F work, Wabaunsee has more than 10 years of experience as an editor, publications manager, and communications director, primarily working in higher education and research communications.

SFWA President, Mary Robinette Kowal said, “I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a more organized, soothing person as Kevin. Watching processes come into place that make SFWA’s communication more efficient has been wonderful.”

As Managing Editor, Wabaunsee will assist Editor-in-Chief Michi Trota in providing oversight and executing production of the SFWA publications and communications that help shape and maintain the organization’s reputation. This critical position is responsible to help facilitate SFWA’s goals and mission statement of informing, supporting, promoting, defending and advocating for its members.

“I’ve long admired SFWA and the work it does on behalf of the science-fiction and fantasy community. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to join Michi Trota, Mary Robinette Kowal, and SFWA’s board and staff in helping to produce SFWA’s publications and sharing them with the world,” Wabaunsee said.

Lauren Raye Snow

Snow is a designer, illustrator, and arts activist from South Texas. Over the course of her career, she has served as Creative Director for multiple nonprofits and justice movement campaigns. In her personal work, she is inspired by the Symbolists and the Pre-Raphaelites, by the Catholic and Indigenous religious icons of her native South Texas, as well as speculative works of wonder, horror, romance, and beauty in literature and music.

“I have long wanted to have an art director for SFWA to create a cohesive look to the organization’s publications and web presences. Earlier this year, I had asked John Picacio, for a recommendation for a volunteer to do some graphic work for the Nebulas conference. In the first meeting with Lauren, I knew that we had found someone exceptional. When I proposed expanding her role to art director, everyone on the team gave an enthusiastic ‘yes’.” Kowal says.

As Art Director, Snow will provide direction and coordination regarding graphics, art, and other visual elements among SFWA’s multiple channels and content streams. This new position will help strengthen SFWA’s visual cohesiveness.

“I am delighted to serve as SFWA’s new Art Director,” Snow says. “My love for genre fiction runs deep. My father, himself an astronomer by trade and lifelong genre fan, read me Tolkien at bedtime; I spent many an afternoon wandering the halls of the offices of the Planetarium where he worked, marveling at the glowing murals of constellations and playing with his large plastic replica of Ridley Scott’s Alien. To take on the role of Art Director for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America is a dream come true. I can’t wait to work with the SFWA team to bring some fantastical beauty into being.”

Beth Dawkins

Dawkins is a long-time volunteer for SFWA herself, working with the organization at Nebula Conferences and Worldcons, as well as helping out behind the scenes. Her fiction has been published in Flame Tree’s Heroic Fantasy Short Stories, Apex Magazine, If This Goes On, and Analog. She lives in Northeast GA with her partner and two dogs.

“The strength of any service organization comes from its volunteers. SFWA has no shortage of people in the community who want to help. To link them to the work, we needed someone who was organized and responsive to a constantly changing landscape. Beth Dawkins has been doing tireless work matching volunteers to opportunities and we are very fortunate to have her.” said Kowal.

As Volunteer Coordinator, Dawkins will work with members throughout the organization to catalog the need for volunteers and to match up potential volunteers with the jobs and tasks that need to be done. SFWA runs on its volunteers and Dawkins will ensure that it can continue to function and grow.

“I have always believed in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It is a pleasure to connect people with one another and continue to help grow our community,” Dawkins said.

[Based on a press release.]

View Siam Sinfonietta Performances Free

The Siam Sinfonietta’s Somtow Sucharitkul tells how to view archival recordings of their performances free online.

Since our concerts are all postponed for a while, I’ve thought up a way to continue to bring classical music into the homes of our friends who are self-quarantined or otherwise unable to go out much while the crisis is going on. We’ve opened up our archive of thousands of hours of twenty years of concerts and created a 24/7 online TV station, OperaSiamTV.com.

We’re putting up something new every day at 8 pm our time, and rerunning it at times appropriate for our friends in other time zones. One of the concerts we’re sharing is our 2018 “Star Wars” concert where our kids played music from every “Star Wars” film that had appeared up to that time. The concert will be streamed at 8 p.m. Thai Time on Tuesday, then 12 a.m., 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Wednesday — I THINK there’s a 14 hour difference so it would be 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Tuesday for our friends in L.A. So — do let people know about it.

We do “scheduled” program 4 times a day (sometimes 3 if it’s a lengthy opera) and the rest of the time we play a selection of pieces from our archive on a rotating roster. Lot of cool stuff on this week — The Rite of Spring for instance. I’ll send you a note whenever I program something of interest to the SF community, like a fantasy-oriented opera.

Read more about Somtow’s Star Wars concert here.

2020 Nebula Conference
Going Virtual

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal sent a message to members about the fate of the 2020 Nebula Conference after the Los Angeles Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills started issuing cancellation notices today. The organization had intended to make a statement on March 31, but now has gone ahead and shared an overview of their plans.

ONLINE CONFERENCE. From May 29-31, there will be a live and interactive online event. “The team has been working on this for several weeks because we anticipated that holding an in-person event this year would be irresponsible.”

Our goal is to create the essence of the Nebula Conference, even though the form has changed. Our vision is for attendees to feel elevated through the content, enjoy a sense of community with their peers, and have an opportunity for celebration.

…The Nebula Conference will include panels, solo presentations, conference mentorships, workshops, forums, chats, and virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by John Scalzi).

… The online conference registration will be $150, which includes three days of online panels with real-time interaction, an annual subscription to archived content, and a one-year subscription to the Bulletin. People who have already registered will have the option to defer to the L.A. conference in 2021, donate to help with COVID-19 assistance, or receive a full refund.

NEBULA AWARDS. The Nebula Awards ceremony will stream live at 8 p.m. Eastern on May 30th.

PLATFORM DEMO. Kowal told members:

On March 31st, we’ll have a demonstration of the online Nebula Conference. We are very excited by this platform because it will allow us to do online classes and host virtual book tours for our members going forward.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. Starting in April, the SFWA Board will be offering grants of up to $1,000 for SFWA members financially affected by COVID-19. Donations are requested.

If you would like to donate now to help with SFWA sponsored COVID-19 relief, visit https://www.sfwa.org/donate and select “Where The Need Is Greatest,” which the board can redirect to our relief efforts.

MORE INFORMATION ON THE WAY. The message ends —

The team has been working very hard for a March 31st release of this information and is not yet ready to process refunds or transfers. Please wait until we formally roll out our plans on March 31st before contacting the office with questions. 

Over the next week, we will be reaching out to our team of volunteers, program participants, and Nebula finalists with more information about what these changes mean to them and how they will be able to participate in the transformed conference.

The Portal to Meredithia

By Daniel Dern: Items:

• Happily, I’d picked up my library reserve for NESFA’s Zenna Henderson: Ingathering collection earlier in the week… before the library shut its doors for who knows who long. (The same announcement indicated our library would be closed to patrons for a to-be-determined time. Will they auto-extend overdue books that can’t normally be renewed? Or are staff still working, so we’re expected to drop ’em through the book slot?)

• Portals to (and from) Narnia, Fillory, Earth-616 (Marvel’s core universe, IIRC), and (DC) Earth-5 are closed except for emergencies. Any villian or other bad (big, small or just right) planning to cackle maniacally must be wearing approved safety face masks. Special masks for wolves and other snouted beings available.

• Even if you haven’t already been watching DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (on CW, available free via their app, etc.)

— Last week’s S4Ep6, “Mr Parkers Neighborhood,” has a great extended homage to Mr Rogers, in the last 3rd, IIRC. The trailer has only a small bit, get the episode (and speed through to it, if need be),

— This week’s S5Epp7: “Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness” hunts for Shakespeare, amidst their usual hijinks. For trailer, see “’DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’? You Might Want to Sit Down for This: Marc Guggenheim’s Already Teasing Arrowverse’s NEXT Crossover”

— Two weeks ago, S4Ep5, included Gengis Khan, so, unsurprisingly, at one point, one of the Legends cries out, “Khaaaaaaaan!”

• In a recent episode of The Magicians, another helpful use of media-familiar characters…(roughly) “OK, since I know you’ve see Loopers, you know all the dangers of trying to change the past.”