SFWA’s Nebula Awards Showcase 55 Released

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) spotlights outstanding science fiction and fantasy with the release of the Nebula Awards Showcase 55. The latest volume in a series published annually since 1966 reprints finalists and winners for the 2019 Nebula Awards as voted by SFWA’s full, senior, and associate members.

This volume’s guest editor is Catherynne M. Valente, author of over forty works of science fiction and fantasy, and winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Lambda, Otherwise, Sturgeon, and Locus Awards.

Valente remarks, “The array of nominated works span just about every corner of the genre as it stood in 2019, an incredible spectrum of voices, perspectives, styles, and tales. I’m thrilled to have been able to help in bringing them together to show the truth—which is that we are living, right now, in a new Golden Age of Science Fiction.” 

The anthology retails for $9.99 in ebook format on most online platforms, including Amazon, Apple, and Kobo, with more retailers coming soon. 

As part of the celebration of the Nebula Award winners, SFWA has partnered with audio-first entertainment studio Podium Audio to adapt, produce, and distribute the Nebula Awards Showcase 55 in audio format as well. Publication of the audio version will be announced at a later date.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “The Best of Twines, the Worst of Rhymes: A Tale of Two C++ies (or, Why Game Writing Is Bad and Great)” by Seth Dickinson
  • “Queering Chaos” by Foz Meadows
  • “Lois McMaster Bujold and Being a Grand Master” by LaShawn Wanak
  • “Give the Family My Love” by A. T. Greenblatt*
  • “The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power” by Karen Osborne
  • “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing” by Shiv Ramdas
  • “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island” by Nibedita Sen
  • “A Catalog of Storms” by Fran Wilde
  • “How the Trick Is Done” by A.C. Wise
  • “A Strange Uncertain Light” by G. V. Anderson
  • “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carrol
  • “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal
  • “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “Carpe Glitter” by Cat Rambo*
  • “The Archronology of Love” by Caroline M. Yoachim
  • Excerpt: A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker*
  • Excerpt: Riverland by Fran Wilde*
  • Excerpt: “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” by Ted Chiang
  • Excerpt: “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” by P. Djèlí Clark
  • Excerpt: “This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone*
  • Excerpt: “Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water” by Vylar Kaftan
  • Excerpt: “The Deep” by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes
  • Excerpt: “Catfish Lullaby” by A.C. Wise

[Based on a press release.]

Star Trek Day 2021 Livestream September 8

Star Trek Day 2021, a free live-streamed celebration of Star Trek, begins Wednesday, September 8 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific/ 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

Live from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California, Star Trek Day will feature back-to-back in-person conversations with cast members and creative minds from the Star Trek Universe, “legacy moments” with iconic cast, and other announcements and reveals.

Mica Burton and Wil Wheaton

The event will be hosted by Wil Wheaton and Mica Burton. Wheaton commented on his blog:

I’ve read the entire script, and I’m about to leave for rehearsal, so I know most of the OMGAREYOUSERIOUS stuff that will be revealed. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I will tell you that if you love Star Trek the way I love Star Trek, you won’t want to miss it.

Mica Burton is LeVar Burton’s daughter, an actor and cosplayer who is well known to fans of D&D webseries Critical Role and the Overwatch League. 

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Uncanny Magazine Welcomes New Nonfiction Editor, Senior Assistant Editor, and Assistant Editor

Uncanny Magazine has named Meg Elison as their new Nonfiction Editor. She takes over from Elsa Sjunneson, who stepped down after Uncanny Magazine Issue 42 to focus on other career opportunities.

Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her debut, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick award. She is a Hugo, Nebula, and Otherwise awards finalist. In 2020, she published her first collection, Big Girl with PM Press, containing the Locus Award-winning novelette, The Pill. Elison’s first young adult novel, Find Layla was published in 2020 by Skyscape. Her thriller, Number One Fan, will be released by Mira Books in 2022.

Uncanny Magazine co-Editor-in-Chief/co-Publisher Lynne M. Thomas noted:

After an exhaustive search with a deep pool of applicants, Uncanny Magazine has chosen Meg Elison as the new Uncanny Magazine Nonfiction Editor. We were extremely impressed with Meg’s experience, preparedness, communication style, and vision for the position. We are certain that she will continue Uncanny’s tradition of publishing provocative, thoughtful, passionate essays.

Uncanny Magazine has also announced the promotion of current Assistant Editor Naomi Day to the newly created position of Senior Assistant Editor. Naomi started as Uncanny Magazine’s Assistant Editor with issue 37.

Naomi Day is a queer Black woman who primarily writes short Afro-centric futurist fiction, and her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review and The Seventh Wave. She is part of the Clarion West class of 2020/22.

Finally, Monte Lin will be the new Uncanny Magazine Assistant Editor. Lin edits and plays tabletop roleplaying games and writes short stories. Clarion West got him to write about dying universes, dreaming mountains, and singularities made of anxieties. He can be found tweeting Doctor Who news, Asian American diaspora discourse, and his board game losses at @Monte_Lin.

[Based on a press release.]

Consequences as an Engine of Storytelling: A Guest Post by Robert Repino

Robert Repino grew up in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. After serving in the Peace Corps, he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. He lives in New York and works as an editor for Oxford University Press. His fiction includes short stories in The Literary Review and Hobart, as well as the middle grade series Spark and the League of Ursus. His latest book is Malefactor concludes the War with No Name series, and follows the novels D’Arc and Mort(e) and the novella Culdesac.


By Robert Repino: Like most sentient creatures, I’m a fan of the John Wick movies. The magnetic anti-hero and the simple revenge plot have sustained my interest for three movies and counting. Somehow, the series has avoided the same mediocrity and self-parody that has plagued so many other franchises that have reached a third installment. I’m looking at you Superman III, Spider-Man 3, Jaws 3-[fucking]-D, and Batman Forever (which should have been the title of the fourth one—think about it). Miraculously, John Wick: Chapter 3 succeeds where those films failed.

After watching the film, my friends and I got some drinks at a nearby bar. There, I found myself repeating a single word from the movie: “Consequences.” Wick utters this word whenever one of the characters points out that his past may have finally caught up with him. Since I like to drive jokes into the ground, I began to say “Consequences” in response to everything that night, in a poor imitation of Wick’s scratchy voice. Why did we need to buy another round? “Consequences.” Why should someone else pick up the tab? “Consequences.” And maybe I should call out sick tomorrow? “Consequences.”

“Okay, stop,” my friends eventually said. “It’s annoying.”

I recently completed the third installment in my own series. It’s titled Malefactor, and it concludes the War With No Name, which tells the story of a global war between humans and sentient animals. One of the main characters is a lot like Wick: a trained killer who is trying (and often failing) to live a normal life. He also happens to be a talking cat. Anyway, while writing that third novel, I came to appreciate Wick’s oft-repeated mantra. There is a simple lesson here: If you want to breathe new life into your story, you must explore the consequences of your hero’s actions. Make them dire and complicated. Force the character to second guess their decisions. Challenge the reader to reinterpret what they took for granted in the previous installments.

And sure, the mistakes your character makes should come back to haunt them. But what about the good things they did? The things that, on first glance, made them heroic? Like winning a war, or rescuing a love interest, or defeating a villain who was the epitome of evil? The negative consequences of those actions can be even more revealing. They add texture to the world. They can expose blind spots for your character. And, ultimately, provide an opportunity for growth.

Take, for example, two Star Trek movies. I’m thinking of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek: Insurrection. In both films, the crew of the Enterprise disobeys orders and essentially commits an act of treason. The Search for Spock is generally considered a solid entry in the series, though not great; to be fair, it had big shoes to fill after the success of Wrath of Khan. Insurrection, on the other hand, is almost universally panned, in part because it regurgitates the plot of a terrible episode of The Next Generation. However you rank these movies, let’s just agree that Search for Spock is the better of the two. And I think I know why. What truly separates these two films is (say it with me): “Consequences.”

In The Search for Spock, Captain Kirk sacrifices everything to save his friend. After rescuing Spock and returning him to his home planet, the seemingly invincible Kirk has been completely humbled. His son is dead. His ship has been destroyed. He’s on the run from the law. When Spock’s father Sarek points out all that Kirk has lost, Kirk responds, “If I hadn’t tried, the cost would have been my soul.” The subsequent movie deals with the fallout of these events. In The Voyage Home, the Enterprise crew now operates a commandeered Klingon vessel; Spock is still slowly recovering from his resurrection; and Kirk sees an opportunity to save Earth, and maybe get their old jobs back (if they don’t end up in prison).

Given the success of these earlier films, I had high expectations for Insurrection. The very title promised some major consequences. After watching the trailer, I wondered, is Captain Jean-Luc Picard, of all people, going to fire on a Federation ship? Is he going to sacrifice someone to save the rest of the crew? Is he going to question the colonialism and paternalism of the Federation? The answers turned out to be no, no, and no, respectively. In this simplistic plot, the bad guys are bad, so Picard fights back and blows them up. Yes, there is an overly dramatic scene in which Picard removes his captain’s insignia, thereby turning his back on everything he believes. But after the villain gets vaporized in a big explosion, Picard and his crew set a course for Earth as if nothing has happened. No one seems worried about being court-martialed for disobeying direct orders from Starfleet Command. Even stranger, Picard tells his new love interest—a woman who supposedly showed him how to live a fuller life—that he’ll visit her soon. Spoiler: he doesn’t, and she’s never mentioned again. Everything wraps up like a routine episode of the show.

When you’re slogging through the years-long process of writing a sequel, the temptation to simply do things bigger and more badass, while telling yourself that your characters have undergone some transformation as a result, is so great. To avoid that, I tried to stay focused on the main characters, and the consequences of their decisions from the previous books. First, there’s Mort(e), a housecat turned warrior, who is traumatized by the conflict with the humans. Then there’s D’Arc, Mort(e)’s canine companion, who is as eager to explore the world as Mort(e) is to retreat from it. In book two, she does just that, leaving Mort(e) to wonder what he could have done to convince her to stay.

By the time they are reunited in Malefactor, so much has changed. Mort(e)’s sacrifices have doomed him, while D’Arc’s decision to run off on her own has completely backfired. So, while Mort(e) is trying to appreciate life while he still has it, D’Arc finds herself adopting Mort(e)’s psychological armor as a way of protecting herself from the horrors of the world that he tried to warn her about. The consequences run so deep enough that the characters find themselves becoming something they didn’t want to be. “I was trying to avoid becoming like you,” D’Arc tells Mort(e) after they find each other. “How did that work out?” he asks bitterly.

I guess it remains to be seen how successful I was. But I’ll trust John Wick on this one. If you’ve gotten really deep into a series—either reading it or writing it—I encourage you to ask the hard questions. What are the consequences? Can any set of actions be purely good or purely bad? And how should the consequences force the characters to grow, adapt, and change? The best series will grapple with these questions, embracing the messiness and madness of the human experience.


ABOUT MALEFACTOR

Over a decade has passed since the ant queen began her apocalyptic war with the humans. In the aftermath, she leaves behind a strange legacy: a race of uplifted animals, the queen’s conscripts in the war effort, now trying to make their way in the world they destroyed. While the conflict has left deep scars, it has also allowed both sides to demonstrate feats of courage and compassion that were never possible before. And now, after years of bloodshed, the survivors have a fleeting chance to build a lasting peace.

But peace always comes with a price. The holy city of Hosanna—where animals and humans form a joint government—finds itself surrounded by wolves who are determined to retake the land. A powerful matriarch has united the rival wolf packs, using a terrible power harnessed from the Queen herself.

Soon, the looming violence pulls in those who sought to escape. The war hero Mort(e) suspects a plot to destroy Hosanna from within, and recruits a team of unlikely allies to investigate. Falkirk, captain of the airship Vesuvius, must choose between treason and loyalty to save the city. And D’Arc, sailing aboard the al-Rihla, learns that the wolves may have triggered a new cycle of life for the Colony, bringing a final reckoning to animal and human alike. Once reunited, the three outcasts begin a journey into wolf territory to face the last remnant of the queen’s empire. But while destiny has drawn them together, it may destroy them as well, for even love, courage, and honor may not be enough to stop the forces of destruction set to be unleashed on the world.

ROBERT REPINO ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Uncanny Magazine Issue 42 Launches September 7

The 41st issue of Uncanny Magazine  winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on September 7.

Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 42nd 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 October 5. 

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

Uncanny Magazine Issue 42 Table of Contents:

Cover

  • The Sun Temple by Julie Dillon

Editorials

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
  • “Imagining Futures: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” by Elsa Sjunneson

Fiction

  • “Mulberry and Owl” by Aliette de Bodard (9/7)
  • “On a Branch Floating Down the River, a Wren Is Singing” by Betsy Aoki (9/7)
  • “Onward” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (9/7)
  • “If the Martians Have Magic” by P. Djèlí Clark (10/5)
  • “Down in the Aspen Hollow” by Kristiana Willsey (10/5)
  • “Six Fictions About Unicorns” by Rachael K. Jones (10/5)
  • “The Giants of the Violet Sea” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (10/5)

Nonfiction

  • “Suddenly Sci-Fi: When Real Life Turns Unreal” by Sarah Kuhn (9/7)
  • “Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor Is a Space Unicorn (And We’re Going to Miss Her When She’s Gone)” by Tansy Rayner Roberts (9/7)
  • “Expanding Our Empathy Sphere Using F&SF, a History” by Ada Palmer (10/5)
  • “Humour, Genre & the One True Quest for a Missing Pillar” by Shiv Ramdas (10/5)

Poetry

  • “amorous advice for the ocean-oriented” by Chiara Situmorang (9/7)
  • “The Captain Flies” by Avi Silver (9/7)
  • “Áhàméfùla” by Uche Ogbuji (10/5)
  • “Map-Making” by Kristian Macaron (10/5)

Interviews

  • Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (9/7)
  • Eugenia Triantafyllou interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (10/5)

Podcasts

  • Episode 42A (9/7): Editors’ Introduction, “Mulberry and Owl” by Aliette de Bodard, as read by Joy Piedmont, “The Captain Flies” by Avi Silver, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Aliette de Bodard.
  • Episode 42B (10/5): Editors’ Introduction, “If the Martians Have Magic” by P. Djèlí Clark, as read by Matt Peters, “Map-Making” by Kristian Macaron, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing P. Djèlí Clark.

#DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force Comments on Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit Against Disney

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force has called on Disney to respect Scarlett Johansson’s professional and artistic work on the film Black Widow. They say in a new press release: “The first way to respect Ms. Johansson is to pay her properly and not use unethical contractual maneuvers to avoid payment. This is not the first time the Task Force has seen Disney attempt such twisting of contractual language.”  

The #DisneyMustPay Task Force is working to ensure that contracts are honored for all creators. This includes writers, actors, illustrators, and other artists. The Task Force contends, “Disney has a pattern of behavior that forces creators to jump through unnecessary and tedious hoops to receive their agreed-upon payments. They continue finding new ways to avoid paying people for their creativity and honoring their contracts. Disney must pay all creators for their work, and the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is leading the way to make sure that happens.”

Background on the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force: The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force identifies and guides authors and other creators who might be owed money. Disney is refusing to cooperate with the Joint Task Force to identify affected authors and other creators. The Task Force was formed by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) and includes the Authors GuildHorror Writers AssociationInternational Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller WritersMystery Writers of America National Writers UnionNovelists, Inc., Romance Writers of AmericaSisters in Crime (SinC),  Writers Guild of America West (WGAW), and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). Individual writers on the Task Force are Neil GaimanLee GoldbergMary Robinette KowalChuck Wendig, and Tess Gerritsen

The#DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force makes sure writers’ and other creators’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between them, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns. Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.

[Based on a press release.]

Celebrating Sean Connery
On His Birthday

By Steve Vertlieb: Remembering Sir Sean Connery, born August 25th, 1930, whose larger than life cinematic exploits, and joyous masculinity brought exhilaration, vibrant sexuality, and swashbuckling romance to the motion picture screen and who left us, sadly, on October 31st of last year.

Sean Connery, the iconic actor and super star whose irresistible presence on the motion screen happily dominated our lives for nearly sixty years died at age ninety. Few actors of his or any other generation possessed the wit, charisma, and staggering masculinity that this remarkably gifted actor brought to the screen. With the probable exception of Cary Grant, with whom Connery shared male dominance and magnetism, no other actor before or since has attracted both men and women with his nearly startling sexuality.

Born August 25, 1930, Connery achieved international recognition with his smoldering portrayal of Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Dr. No in 1962. Although he’d appeared in relatively minor parts in a variety of television and movie roles, it was his remarkable major screen debut as James Bond in 1962 that instantaneously, and deservedly, elevated him to super star status.

Connery followed his singular appearance as “Bond … James Bond” in Dr. No with six additional star turns as the invulnerable secret agent in From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (the definitive Bond thriller in 1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and, finally, in Never Say Never Again, (1983) whose clever title noted the irony of his having said repeatedly that he’d never play the part again. Having played Bond in seven motion pictures, Connery established himself as the definitive characterization of Fleming’s deadly British agent.

After this last performance as the impeccably tailored spy, Connery defied critics who’d complained about his being a single dimensional actor, by joyously emerging as one of the finest character actors of our time. In such films as Darby O’Gill and The Little People for Disney (1959), Marnie for Alfred Hitchcock (1964), The Hill (1965), The Anderson Tapes (1971), and Zardoz (1974), Connery proved to his critics that he was, indeed, a gifted, dangerously provocative performer.

Six of his most joyous, exquisitely layered performances followed in the years that lay before him. As the irascible, inherently masculine “Raisuli” in the enormously entertaining John Milius film The Wind And The Lion, Connery’s striking individuality quite literally lit the screen with his colorful interpretation as the leader of a noble Arab tribe, timed imaginatively by Jerry Goldsmith’s electrifying musical score.

As the sadly proud, yet vulnerable Robin Hood in Robin And Marian (1976), Connery showed rare sensitivity and elegance as the aging warrior whose difficulty transitioning from young rebel to graceful elder champion wove poetic lyricism to the legend of Robin, accompanied by composer John Barry’s wistfully romantic themes.

For John Huston’s epic 1975 film translation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, the actor delivered one of his most delicious, multi-textured performances as a loveable rogue whose innocent aspirations to royalty, and desire to achieve something greater in his lifetime, leads to dire, unexpected consequences beyond his boyish vision, dreams, and hope filled enthusiasm.

In The Untouchables (1987) for director Brian De Palma, Sean Connery’s Oscar winning performance as “Malone,” the simple cop on the beat whose street intelligence and long tenured wisdom helped Eliot Ness bring down Capone, would at long last silence the critics who had cynically predicted his rapid departure and absence from the screen after leaving the lucrative “Bond” franchise.

For Steven Spielberg, Connery would deliver his most wonderful portrayal, perhaps, as the colorful, cantankerous Professor Henry Jones as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1987), elevating another beloved franchise to sublime levels of joyous delight and perfection. Connery’s comedic gifts and unexpected pathos turned this third entry of the iconic film series into its most beloved chapter.

For First Knight (1995), a highly romanticized screen version of the Arthurian legend, Connery was at his most regal in his performance as literature’s legendary King Arthur. Bringing both nobility and grace to a classic role that only he, in suave maturity, could deliver, Connery once again brought quiet dignity and eloquence to the image of expiring royalty in the face of danger and finality.

Sean Connery has left us, but his indelible face and distinctive voice shall remain forever burned into the haunting imagery of the motion picture screen. We came alive in the sweet mirror of your artistry. Rest Well, Sir Sean. May angels sing you to your rest on this melancholy anniversary of your birth.

Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival Announces 2021 Lineup

The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival has unveiled the lineup for its ninth annual season. It will be a hybrid event. With theaters safely opened for screenings, the live portion of the festival will run exclusively at the Producers Club Theaters in Midtown Manhattan  on Friday, September 17th and Saturday, September 18th. The festival will stream virtually on Sunday, September 19th. Passes are available here.

Events include film screenings featuring 120 official selections, post-film discussions, virtual reality, and screenplay and graphic novel competitions. As a platform for exploring the evolution of science and technology, the festival showcases a variety of themes associated with independent storytelling.

“There is nothing like the thrill of a live festival,” said Daniel Abella, the founder and director of the event. “Our city has always been a beacon of life with a high concentration on art and film, and we are excited to once again be here in-person. We believe the festival will offer a ray of hope for those seeking inspiration out of the darkness we’ve all been through, because there is no better way to achieve that than viewing the extraordinary work of filmmakers who explore science fiction through the prism of their cultures and beliefs. This festival is a testament to their contributions and to the support of our wonderful audience.”

This year’s lineup consists of 6 features, 95 shorts, 16 screenplay and graphic novel entries, 3 virtual reality demonstrations, and spans 21 countries.

The opening night film will be the World Premiere of Noah Mucci’s Lunamancer about a scientist, armed with only his faith and a crowbar, who enters battle with an otherworldly entity for the soul of his sister. Other highlights on September 17th include the short film DAWN directed by Nona Catusanu, Katherine Castro, and Liza Gipsova about a woman living in the waning days of a post-apocalyptic world, and Samuel Krebs’ The Whooper Returns, a feature film that blends horror with costume performance art when estranged siblings must defend their haunted childhood home from a sinister band of cosplayers.

Alongside a slate of interactive VR, The Last Starship from renowned producer Eric Haywood about a group of survivors who must relocate to a new world, and Between Waves from Virginia Abramovich about a woman who searches for her missing lover through parallel dimensions, will both bow on September 18th.

Then, Martin Guigui’s The Unhealer will serve as the closing night presentation. The feature follows a bullied teen who exacts revenge against his tormentors by using his powers to reverse any attempted physical harm onto his aggressors.

Titles on September 19th include Franz, an animated short from Tom Geibel-Lane about the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, Carlo Ballauri’s The Recycling Man which depicts a boy immobilized in a wheelchair who spies on his neighbors from across a courtyard, and No One’s Listening, a timely film directed by Juan Carlos Castaneda about two dark-skinned immigrants whose execution by a gang of white countrymen is intervened by a ghostly deaf woman with supernatural powers. The experimental documentary Origin of the Species by Abigail Child will explore the realities of android development, while Naeri Do’s TRANS about a girl who conducts an electrical baptism to become a transhuman, will close out the virtual event.

Citing PKD’s foresight of world events, many official selections reflect the ongoing circumstances of COVID-19. “There is no doubt that we entered the PKD universe with the pandemic,” said Abella. “A number of films have either anticipated the pandemic or show its consequences. What makes our festival so unique is that we’ve always looked for films that served as warnings, which is exactly what much of PKD’s work is about. As opposed to other sci-fi writers whose stories usually take place in the far future, PKD focused on the near future. He embraced vigilance and critical thinking and offered us ways to resolve our dilemmas.”

The September 18th screening of PROJECT-19 directed by Randy Scott Slavin, is among several films that drew inspiration from the global crisis. That film about a six-year-old engineering genius made use of its confined surroundings as it was filmed at the height of quarantine with the participation of the director’s family. On September 19th, the festival will present Lockdown: The Doctor Who Fans’ Survival Guide directed by Roger Christopher Stevens and hosted by Sophie Aldred, which shows the uniquely personal videos of fans of the popular BBC series and how they coped during the many months of isolation. Then, a character in Russ Emanuel’s Routine shakes up her monotonous lifestyle during quarantine when she runs out of coffee and will do anything to get her hands on another cup, while Sara Caldwell and Walter Gorey’s Glitch explores the chilling ramifications of a single mother’s new assignment while working from home.

For the second year in a row, the festival will hold its science fiction, supernatural, and sci-fi prototyping screenplay competition. “We are looking at scripts that focus on the nuts and bolts of creating an entire sci-fi world,” said Abella, who wants to show festival-goers the precision and accuracy necessary to the craft of screenwriting. “Rather than just prioritizing high concept premises, each of these screenplays deal with originality, characterization, and psychological dimensions on a more granular scale. It is important to note that when telling a good story, the smallest of details truly do matter.” In addition, the festival will introduce a graphic novel category and allow fans to experience even more exceptional narrative styles. “Graphic novels are at the intersection of multiple skills because they include storytelling, illustration, and design,” he said. “As a great starting point to show one’s work, we hope that this medium encourages more writers to become involved in the filmmaking process.”

As life continues to be as unpredictable as ever, the festival remains committed to showcasing various forms of media that emphasize the importance of sci-fi and its lessons for humanity. “Our most challenging moments can be our most fertile as well,” said Abella. “We have come face-to-face with the most basic human conditions and through our shared experiences, the time has come to grow and rebuild our community to be as strong as it has ever been.”

The festival film schedule follows the jump.

[Based on a press release.]

Continue reading

Frequently Answered Questions: The Last Dangerous Visions

The following summary is drawn solely from information J. Michael Straczynski has shared with Facebook readers, or has written in unlocked Patreon posts. Additional information, not included here, is available to subscribers of JMS’ Patreon.

HOW WILL THE BOOK FIND A PUBLISHER?

The plan is to take it out to auction in September, and it’s usually about a year before a book goes through all the steps in proofing, printing and the like, so my guess — and that’s all it is at this point pending the sale — would be late Summer/early Fall 2022. But that’s nothing official. (Facebook)  

WHY DID JMS SET THE BOOK’S WORDCOUNT AT 112K?

There were never a million words, at one point it was 700K, but then about half or more were withdrawn by the authors, so now we’re down to 250-300K, and from that it was essential to find the best of the best in order to make sure that this achieved publication that would draw attention to Harlan’s legacy and the work of those writers. This isn’t a weight competition, it’s not about 50 words, it’s about the best words.

Do you want to see 112K words by some of the best writers in the field finally being published? Or do you not want any of them to be seen in anything resembling a proper publication? Because that’s the choice. Pick one.

And all of the stories not being used in TLDV are released and free to be published elsewhere, so there’s no bottleneck at this end.

…The first DV was published in 1967, the second in ’71, and the Year’s Best anthology you mention was published in 1984, when it was not that difficult to get large anthologies in the SF genre out there. In 2021, the field has contracted, and it’s *very* difficult to go for much more of a word-count than we have here for an anthology, especially since the market for anthos is generally considered very weak. We’ve been quietly discussing this with several publishers and that number is actually slightly beyond the hard ceiling they suggested. That being said: the final manuscript definitely contains the very best of the very best…the book is *solid* and the stories are genuinely remarkable and timeless. (Facebook)

WILL HARLAN ELLISON’S INTRODUCTIONS BE IN THE BOOK?

Anything/everything Harlan wrote for TLDV will be included. (Facebook)  

WILL TIM KIRK’S ARTWORK BE IN THE BOOK?

Previously unseen artwork by the phenomenal Tim Kirk commissioned for the original volume to go with these stories will also be included in this volume. (“On Finishing The Last Dangerous Visions”)

WHICH AUTHORS HAVE NEW STORIES ACQUIRED BY JMS FOR THE BOOK?

Three authors who will have a new story in LDV have been named. The first one is —

As noted, several high-profile writers have stepped up to show support for TLDV by offering to contribute stories. The first was announced Monday exclusively to those on Patreon, and can now be conveyed here: the amazing NEIL GAIMAN!

And the other two —

Also: I’d like to announce another significant contemporary writer who has decided to lend his name to THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS by contributing a story: CORY DOCTOROW, who is known as not just an amazing writer but a pioneer in the realm of electronic rights and privacy and a scholar of the internet.

And of the original writers who contributed stories, “Rundown” by the highly regarded SF and fantasy writer John Morressy has been selected to be included in this volume.

WHICH PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED WRITER HAD A STORY ACCEPTED FOR TLDV?

There was a one-day submission window for unpublished writers who wanted to have a story accepted for LDV (Patreon). Only one story would be accepted. JMS has named the author of the chosen story —

  • Kayo Hartenbaum

So though the competition was stiff, the thoughtfulness of the story, the inventiveness of the way in which it was told, and the story’s ability to grab and hold the attention of the reader lifted it out of the ordinary and made it something that definitely belonged in the pages of The Last Dangerous Visions.

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Coast to Coast! WGA West and WGA, East Join #DisneyMustPay Task Force

Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) are joining the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force. The Task Force’s goals are to ensure that all writers who are owed royalties and/or statements for their media-tie in work are identified and that Disney and other companies honor their contractual obligations to those writers after acquiring the companies that originally hired the writers. 

“We’re seeing the abuses of consolidation negatively affect all creative people in the entertainment business,” said WGAW President David A. Goodman, “and as we are an organization devoted to protecting writers, making sure that their contracts are enforced and that they are fairly compensated for their work, supporting this task force as an absolute necessity.”

WGAE President Beau Willimon said, “As a union fighting for the rights of people who craft stories, we believe these writers deserve to share in the value created by their work.  Their battle is our battle.”

“WGA West and WGA, East are bringing more firepower to the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Task Force Chair. “They are legendary in their passion, commitment, and success in protecting the rights of writers. And they know a thing or two about doing battle in Hollywood and New York.”

The Task Force has made progress, notably ensuring that three well-known media tie-in authors have been paid and attaining the cooperation of BOOM! Studios in identifying affected authors. However, over a dozen additional authors are still in negotiations with Disney. Many of them, especially ones with lesser-known names, find communications with Disney repeatedly stalled until pressure is again applied by the Task Force and its supporters. 

Fans, fellow writers, and the creative community need to continue to post on social media showing their support so the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force can help writers. Thanks to their support, the message is reaching Disney and related organizations to alert them to the work they need to do to honor their contractual obligations. 

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force, formed by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA), includes the Authors GuildHorror Writers AssociationInternational Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller WritersMystery Writers of America National Writers UnionNovelists, Inc., Romance Writers of AmericaSisters in Crime (SinC), and now, Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). Individual writers on the Task Force include Neil Gaiman, Lee Goldberg, Mary Robinette Kowal, Chuck Wendig, and Tess Gerritsen. The Task Force identifies and guides authors who might be owed money.Disney is refusing to cooperate with the Task Force to identify affected authors. 

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force makes sure writers’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between the authors, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns. 

Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.

[From a press release.]