Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Hears from Amazon; GoFundMe Is Successful

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

The GoFundMe launched after Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki reported Amazon KDP shut down his account and took his royalties raised $5,568 in one day. In the meantime, his author page and books have since been restored on Amazon.com.

Jason Sanford, who organized the fundraiser said in an update:

Thanks again to everyone who donated to support Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki! We have wrapped up the fundraising campaign. The science fiction and fantasy genre has some amazing people in our fandom, as proved by this campaign funding in less than 24 hours.

Because the campaign was successful, Ekpeki will soon release both the Kindle edition of the Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology and the Bridging Worlds anthology for free download. He’ll also be sharing more info on his dealings with Amazon during all this.

As Amazon proved in their horrible dealings with Ekpeki, it is far too easy for companies to cut the access authors, editors and SF/F fans around the world need to fully take part in our genre. No company should have a monopoly on who can be a SF/F lover and fan!

Sanford’s comments are also available in a Twitter thread here

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki says he received a phone call from someone at Amazon who saw his social media campaign and that this is the explanation he was given about the shutdown:

Update on Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and His Amazon Account

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s Amazon author page is live again and his books are for sale there, however, he reports that the royalties in his account have not yet been restored.

This development occurred after Jason Sanford had launched a “Fundraiser for Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki” at GoFundMe. Sanford says:

The GoFundMe has raised $3,926 of its $5,000 goal as of this writing. Sanford gave this summary of events at the time it was launched:

Amazon recently shut down the publishing account of Nigerian author and editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki for supposed violations of their terms and conditions. Amazon refused to say what exactly the violations were and also insisted they would keep the over $2,000 in royalties from the sales of Ekpeki’s books, including The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology.

The money lost through this meant Ekpeki was unable to pay a number of authors for publishing their work, and was also out his costs for both this anthology and the upcoming Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology, which could/will no longer be released through Amazon..

Once funding is achieved, Ekpeki will release both the Kindle edition of the Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology and the entire Bridging Worlds anthology for free download. The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction is the first ever year’s best anthology focusing on African speculative fiction and contains works from 29 Black and African writers of speculative fiction from both Africa and the diaspora.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Calls Out Amazon KDP For Shutting Down His Account

[Here’s another instance of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) terminating a writer’s account and impounding their royalties – and this one hits closer to home. A week ago the Scroll covered what three romance authors said happened to them (see #1 here), and today award-winning Nigerian sff author Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki reported his own crushing setback. His Facebook post is signal-boosted here with his permission.]

By Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: An account of how Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing stole my royalties and kicked me off their platform for no sensible, coherent reason. It’s more comprehensive on this Twitter thread.

But if you prefer to read it here…

Published the 1st ever Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology in October last year. Amazon said I couldn’t get royalties for it till January this year. Then on December 31st they rushed to shut my account down, just before we crossed over into the new year.

While fireworks were going out they were busy getting in one last evil for the year, to steal my royalties, over $2000 last I checked. Preorders and sales for 3 months. Proceeds for all the work, hype, all gone. For these stupid, inexplicable, senseless reasons.

[They say] I have multiple accounts/my account is related to one that was terminated. Wait, which one is it? Do I have multiple accounts or is my account related? Or is it both? My account is related to one that was terminated for violating their terms. What does that even mean?

How do accounts get related? Did account Zeus come down from Olympus to impregnate the aunties of my account and so the kids of those accounts are now related to mine? What does it even mean? If other account does something violatey what’s it got to do with me? Are they saying I have multiple accounts? Like I opened multiple accounts with the same email? Is that even possible? And if not then how do they know other accounts are “related” to me. Or, not to be paranoid, what if it’s someone opening similar accounts for this very reason?

All these I ask, and they hit me with the all these we-shall-find-out-in-the-next-episode response. Cuz it’s holidays. They can’t respond to me some days before the end of the year and some days after. But they terminated the account in the middle of the festivities, on holidays.

You aren’t online to respond. But you were able to terminate the account? Okay. So I ask all the same, they eventually get back to me. Which is basically saying whatever man, f*ck off. It doesn’t answer my questions. If anything it shows they are bullsh!tting. They are “confident”.

What does that even mean? You are confident so your confidence means you can take my money? People take money on confidence now? That how it works? Can I go to the bank and be confident the money there is all mine and take it all? For my confidence. Huh?

My money for all the expenses I’m trying to recoup, covers, author payments, etc, gone. & it’s not even all my money. Didn’t crowdfund it. And no way I can afford to pay 28 writers, 1c per word reprint rate alone. So now I’m owing someone I promised to repay once royalties kick in.

I’m owing some of the writers too cuz I couldn’t pay every1 yet, even with my silent partner whom I promised half the profits after cost, chipping in. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get dragged by them, or my writer friends I haven’t paid yet, and end up on Writers Beware.

I’ll be doing a fundraiser to try to recoup some of the money, for costs and payment and then I’ll make the anthology free. Even if just the kindle version. I think I should, to ensure this anthology continues to see the light of day which it surely must. And sort the finances.

I’ll be doing the same for the Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology which I have made expenses on as well but which I can’t now publish as I don’t and can’t have an Amazon account. And that’s 98 percent of self-pub I can do tbh, of my profits too. So a fundraiser and free books.

Either that or fight a global, gigantic monopoly run by a cliche billionaire villain. This is the end of Jembefola Press. I know I’m usually slow. It took a while, but I think I get the message finally. I won’t be publishing anymore. At least not while I’m on the continent.

I don’t think I’m supposed to. The obstacles I’ve faced on the path to this are indicating that. Firstly navigating payment and publishing at all, getting shut out of platforms when I put in the region I’m from, having to pretend to be from the US or somewhere in the West.

Using services that mimic US bank accounts, Having to essentially, even literally lie I’m American, being unable to use PayPal, or the usual payment methods. This isn’t even the first time I was banned. 1st was from Draft2Digital for being Nigerian https://t.co/KTJhpt22kl

A serious ass company didn’t know Nigerians use VPN now cuz of Twitter ban? The most populous nation on the African continent.

Next it was Smashwords. Tried to smash my words & make me give them away for free. Well I will now. If I even can. https://t.co/V6Fi9wj0P9

Amazon was a chore to figure out and finally use. But it wasn’t the 1st time their platforms were being used to sabotage me. Shortly after publishing, racists who target works by Black authors were review bombing me on Goodreads. https://t.co/UgFRygD5zR

SFWA helped with the review bombing saga. But that was a process. And a stressful one I didn’t need in the middle of publishing, editing, organizing panels, my own writing. I almost didn’t bother. Like many folks I’m sure never bother with all this https://t.co/yExz75m7jt

And we never know or hear about those ones who didn’t bother. But always wonder why aren’t there so many African writers, why aren’t they winning awards, active on the scene, big, writing a lot, writing door stoppers, many books series. This is why. This and more.

They’re busy, spending their time and energy complaining about things like this. Trying to deal with payment systems that lock us out, funding methods that don’t also cater to us, racists systems, racist people trying to review bomb us. And this is just what is directly hostile.

You can see it’s a bit. So yea, I get the message loud and clear. Ya’ll can have your publishing industry back, for now. I know I’m the average pain loving writer. Yayyy my one million rejections. But sometimes it’s just too much. Make I rest. It’s too much because…

This right here isn’t even a fraction of what you experience coming from here. Being a disabled African writing and publishing from the continent. If I want to quantify it, it’s 0.00000 recurring % of what goes down. People think marginalized writers get points for activism.

Truth is, lots of the struggle is never really shown. Cuz it’s too ugly, personal & unfit for public consumption. Meanwhile I type “Does GoFundMe…” and the rest shows …work in Nigeria? Folks been curious. And no It doesn’t. I’ll let you all know when I figure out a platform.

1632 Universe Milestone – Submissions Open for Grantville Gazette #100

Congratulations to the Grantville Gazette – the March issue will be their 100th. Editor Walt Boyes says, “We are really excited that we have come so far. Starting with 1632, Eric Flint’s ‘standalone’ novel, we have now over 6 million words in print or in electronic form and have published 40+ novels from Baen Books and from Ring of Fire Press. We have had more than 200 authors write in the series, many of whom sold us their first professional publication.” The Grantville Gazette is a SFWA-approved venue that pays eight cents per word.

In honor of issue 100, Boyes has put out his —  

CALL FOR STORIES FOR GRANTVILLE GAZETTE 100!

The next issue of the Grantville Gazette is number 100, March 2022. That’s a remarkable feat in genre publishing, and specifically for an online magazine that is dedicated to a single series: the 1632 Universe.

So, for Gazette 100, we are issuing a call for stories. The topic is “Tales of the CoC” and should be within the bounds of the 1632 Universe and have something to do with the Committees of Correspondence, the CoCs.

Stories must not exceed 5000 words. Payment is 8 cents per word. Stories are due not later than midnight January 31, 2021.

If you have questions, please contact Bjorn Hasseler (bjorn@1632.org) or Walt Boyes (walt@waltboyes.com).

Uncanny Magazine Issue 44 Launches January 4

The 44th issue of Uncanny Magazine, winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on January 4, 2022. 

Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 44th issue of their five-time Hugo Award-winning online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Uncanny Magazine. Stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. As always, Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture, along with a Parsec Award-winning monthly podcast featuring a story, poem, and interview from that issue. 

All of Uncanny Magazine’s content will be available in eBook versions on the day of release from Weightless Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. Subscriptions are always available through Amazon Kindle and Weightless Books.

The free online content will be released in 2 stages — half on day of release and half on February 1. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 44 Table of Contents:

Cover

  • Shuffling The Cards by Galen Dara

Editorials

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
  • “The One Body Problem” by Meg Elison

Fiction

  • “The Night Dance” by Leah Cypess (1/4)
  • “The Calcified Heart of Saint Ignace Battiste” by Christopher Caldwell (1/4)
  • “Ribbons” by Natalia Theodoridou (1/4)
  • “The Haunting of Dr. Claudius Winterson” by Sarah Monette (2/1)
  • “Lily, the Immortal” by Kylie Lee Baker (2/1)
  • “Hundred-Handed One” by Wen-yi Lee (2/1)
  • “How to Safely Store Your Magical Artifacts After Saving the World” by Tina Connolly (2/1)

Reprint

  • “The Clockwork Penguin Dreamed of Stars” by Caroline M. Yoachim (1/4)

Nonfiction

  • Midnight Mass Talks Too Much but Still Manages to Compel” by Alex Jennings (1/4)
  • “The Future in the Flesh: Why Cyberpunk Can’t Forget the Body” by Lincoln Michel (1/4)
  • “Even After Death: An Essay in Questions” by Shingai Njeri Kagunda (2/1)
  • Gone with the Clones: How Confederate Soft Power Twisted the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy” by Louis Evans (2/1)

Poetry

  • “Crustacean on Land” by Mehnaz Sahibzada (1/4)
  • “The House Snakes” by Sonya Taaffe (1/4)
  • “a sinkhole invites a street to consider its future” by Dominik Parisien (2/1)
  • “Weaver Girl Dream” by Lisabelle Tay (2/1)

Interviews

  • Christopher Caldwell Interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (1/4)
  • Sarah Monette Interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (2/1)

Podcasts

  • Episode 44A (1/4): Editors’ Introduction, “The Night Dance” by Leah Cypess, as read by Erika Ensign, “The House Snakes” by Sonya Taaffe, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Leah Cypess.
  • Episode 44B (2/1): Editors’ Introduction, “Lily, the Immortal” by Kylie Lee Baker, as read by Matt Peters, “Weaver Girl Dream” by Lisabelle Tay, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Kylie Lee Baker.

Return of the Jedi Among 25 Films Added to National Film Registry

Sf and fantasy films Star Wars Episode VI — Return of the Jedi, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, WALLE, and horror movies A Nightmare on Elm Street, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? are on the list of 25 movies inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress this year. Also, Hellbound Train, which includes some fantastic elements. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the selections today.

Films Selected for the 2021 National Film Registry
(chronological order)

  1. Ringling Brothers Parade Film (1902)
  2. Jubilo (1919)
  3. The Flying Ace (1926)
  4. Hellbound Train (1930)
  5. Flowers and Trees (1932)
  6. Strangers on a Train (1951)
  7. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
  8. Evergreen (1965)
  9. Requiem-29 (1970)
  10. The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971)
  11. Pink Flamingos (1972)
  12. Sounder (1972)
  13. The Long Goodbye (1973)
  14. Cooley High (1975)
  15. Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)
  16. Chicana (1979)
  17. The Wobblies (1979)
  18. Star Wars Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983)
  19. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  20. Stop Making Sense (1984)
  21. Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987)
  22. The Watermelon Woman (1996)
  23. Selena (1997)
  24. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  25. WALLE (2008)

Selected for their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to preserve the nation’s film heritage, the newest selections include epic trilogies, major roles for Jennifer Lopez and Cicely Tyson, extraordinary animated features, comedy and music, and films that took on racially-motivated violence against people of color decades ago. The selections bring the number of films in the registry to 825, representing a portion of the 1.7 million films in the Library’s collections.

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will host a television special Friday, December 17, starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern to screen a selection of motion pictures named to the registry this year. Hayden will join TCM host and film historian Jacqueline Stewart, who is chair of the National Film Preservation Board, to discuss the films. Also, select titles from 30 years of the National Film Registry are freely available online in the National Screening Room.

A few films selected for the registry drew significant public support this year through online nominations. The original Star Wars trilogy’s third release from “a galaxy far, far away” in 1983 drew the most public votes for Star Wars Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.

“Little did I know when I started writing a tale about good, evil, friendship and the Force, it would become a lifelong journey of creativity, imagination and innovation for so many,” said filmmaker George Lucas. “A great honor of learning ‘Return of the Jedi’ has been included in the National Film Registry is knowing the original trilogy of the Star Wars Saga will be preserved in full as nominated by the public, safeguarded as part of our shared American Cinema heritage by our nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, the Library of Congress, and the National Film Preservation Board.”

The kickoff to another epic trilogy of films, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring from 2001, based on the beloved stories of J.R.R. Tolkien, also earned strong public support.

“In 1951, Professor Tolkien expressed the wish that ‘… other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama…’ might one day come to the world of middle-earth. And they did — actors and artists, composers and musicians, linguists and digital wizards — a myriad of talent came together to bring his vast work of imagination to life on the screen,” said the filmmaking team of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. “It is a great honor to have ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ selected this year by the National Film Registry. We are proud to be part of an archive that celebrates and preserves the art of visual storytelling, for generations to come.” 

Two innovative animated features from different eras also join the registry this year. Disney’s Flowers and Trees, which was released in the dark days of the Great Depression in 1932, showcased the magic of cinema with birds singing and trees in full color. It was the first three-strip Technicolor film shown to the public and set a new standard.

Some 76 years later, Pixar Animation Studios would release a unique masterpiece with 2008’s WALLE, combining animation, science fiction, an ecological cautionary tale and a charming robot love story. The film would go on to win the Oscar for Outstanding Animated Feature.

“Hellbound Train, a silent film from 1930, is a staunchly Christian film, made by the evangelical couple of James and Eloyce Gist. Until recently, it was an overlooked milestone in Black cinema and now joins the registry. Its obvious plot — the Gists were amateur filmmakers, using untrained actors — was to scare sinners straight. It was played in churches and fairgrounds to accompany the Gists’ sermons.

It depicts a train with each car dedicated to particular sins — dancing, drinking, adultery — being conducted by Satan himself. The print was painstakingly reassembled from more than 100 reels of 16mm at the Library by filmmaker S. Torriano Berry, preserving this early example of guerilla filmmaking carried out with a missionary zeal.

In 2013, the Library released a report that determined 70 percent of the nation’s silent feature films have been lost forever and only 14 percent exist in their original format. 

Each year the Librarian of Congress names to the National Film Registry 25 motion pictures that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The films must be at least 10 years old. More information about the National Film Registry can be found at loc.gov/film.

The Librarian makes the annual registry selections after conferring with the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board and a cadre of Library specialists. Also considered were more than 6,100 titles nominated by the public. Nominations for next year will be accepted through Aug. 15, 2022, at loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/nominate/.

The press release’s commentary on the six films named in the lede follows the jump.

Continue reading

Apex Magazine’s International Futurists Issue

Apex Magazine issue 128, focused on international futurists, is guest-edited by Francesco Verso, Italian author and publisher.

Issue 128 contains the following short stories, essays, reviews, and interviews:

EDITORIAL

  • From the Sense of Wonder to the Sense of Wander by Francesco Verso

ORIGINAL FICTION

  • Soil of Our Home, Storm of Our Lives by Renan Bernardo (dark sf)
  • Robin’s Last Song by Nina Munteanu (dark sf)
  • Godmother by Cheryl S. Ntumy (SF)
  • The synchronism of touch by Gabriela Damián Miravete (weird fantasy)
  • Dreamports by Tlotlo Tsamaase (sf-horror)
  • Sams?ra in a Teacup by Lavanya Lakshminarayan (dark sf)

CLASSIC FICTION

  • Aethra by Michalis Manolios
  • Francine (draft for the September lecture) by Maria Antònia Martí Escayol

NONFICTION

  • Highlighting Trends in Indian SF in the Twenty-first Century by Tarun K. Saint

REVIEWS

  • Words for Thought: Short Fiction Review by A.C. Wise

INTERVIEWS

  • An Interview with Author Renan Bernardo by Marissa van Uden
  • An Interview with Author Nina Munteanu by Rebecca E. Treasure
  • An Interview with Artist Chiara Topo by Jason Sizemore, Editor-in-Chief

National Library of New Zealand Reconsiders Agreement with Internet Archive

The National Library of New Zealand, which had announced plans to ship more than 400,000 books they are de-listing from their Overseas Published Collections catalogs to the Internet Archive for digitization and inclusion in its Open Library, now is reconisdering “in light of concerns raised by the various interested parties, including issues associated with copyright.” The National Library will not export any of the OPC until it “consider[s] its next steps.”

The decision follows warnings issued by SFWA and The Authors Guild to members that they had until December 1 to opt out of digitization if their books were among those being transferred.

The Authors Guild reports that in November authors held a protest in Wellington calling for the library to respect copyright. And the New Zealand Society of Authors and the Publishers Association have filed a petition with New Zealand’s Attorney General to investigate the legality of the partnership between the National Library and the Internet Archive.

National Librarian Te Pouhuaki Rachel Esson said in a press release that the National Library has listened to multiple views and worked hard to support New Zealanders’ ongoing access to books from the Overseas Published Collections.

“We are aiming to balance our duty to all New Zealanders with the concerns of our valued book sector colleagues and will continue to build relationships with them,” says Ms Esson.

Ms Esson also says, “It is part of the National Library’s mission to remove barriers to knowledge, ensure New Zealanders have the skills to create knowledge and preserve knowledge for future generations. We are taking some time to look at all available options that align with our collection plans, while preserving author and publisher interests.”

When the project first began mid-2018 it appeared likely that books remaining at the end of the process would face secure destruction. The National Library continues to work to avoid this outcome.

SFWA says its Legal Affairs committee “will continue to follow further developments closely.”

Clarion West’s 2022 In-Person Summer Workshop Will Take Applications Starting December 1

Clarion West returns to an in-person workshop next year. The Clarion West 2022 Six-Week Summer Workshop will take place June 19 – July 30, 2022 in Seattle. Applications open December 1, 2021.

The panel of the instructors for the 2022 Six-Week Summer Workshop will be:

Clarion West is able to provide full and partial scholarships to a significant number of applicants, thanks to a generous community of donors and sponsors.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on February 10. Information about how to apply is here. The application fee is $35 from December 1 to January 31; it will increase to $60 on February 1.

Founded in 1971, Clarion West holds a six-week workshop each summer geared toward helping writers of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, and horror) at the beginnings of their professional careers. Each workshop is limited to 18 students, and each week features a different instructor, a highly regarded author or editor offering a unique perspective on the field. Applicants and students come from everywhere in the world, and graduates frequently go on to professional success. In addition to changing to an ADA accessible facility in 2022, Clarion West has been working with a team of alumni and instructors to evolve our workshop culture and create protocols towards equity, empowerment, and innovation.

[Based on a press release.]

Superman: “The World of Tomorrow” Reborn

Scene from “Around the World with Superman”

By Steve Vertlieb: I nearly fell off my chair when I listened to the music played (or “under scored”) during this promotional clip comparing High Society with The Philadelphia Story produced by Turner Classic Movies for a Fandango theatrical release of the 1956 MGM musical.

I’d guess that you’d have to be from my age bracket or generation in order to recognize this wonderfully lovely scoring, but I was delightfully astonished to hear it once more, and I’m dying to know who decided to utilize it, where they found it, and why they chose to use it.

Its title is “The World of Tomorrow,” and it’s from a particular style or thematic genre called “British Light Music.” For people of my generation, however, this particular piece of background scoring was a part of television source music utilized throughout the early-to-mid-Fifties, and emanated from what was known as the “Francis, Day and Hunter” collection of recordings. That library of cues was later restored and is, apparently, still available through “KPM Music” for industrial use.

Composed by Jack Beaver and conducted by Sidney Torch, this haunting theme was used on countless TV series of the period but, in particular, The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves and, most memorably, from a beloved episode of the television series entitled “Around The World With Superman,” airing originally on March 13, 1954, in which a blind child enters a contest to win a flight around the world, carried tenderly in the arms of Superman, as well as during the touching conclusion of “The Dog Who Knew Superman,” first airing on November 14, 1953, as Clark Kent surrenders the little dog that he loves in order to protect his dual identity.

These episodes, which aired in late 1953 and early 1954, are from the second season of the classic television series, and were both directed by Thomas Carr. It’s a truly lovely piece of music that somehow defined this impressionable period of my youth, and has miraculously been rescued from literal obscurity from nearly seventy years ago. Watch and Listen. This IS truly Television History!