2018 Cybils Awards

The 2018 Cybils winners (Children’s and Young Adults Bloggers’ Literary Awards) were announced on February 14.

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Here are the results from the speculative fiction categories.

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

The Witch Boy
by Molly Knox Ostertag
GRAPHIX

Aster, a thirteen-year-old boy living in a secluded community with strict magical rules, longs to learn practices that are forbidden to boys. Rich, believable characters support this appealing tale of breaking free from traditional gender roles. Ostertag has created a fully-realized magical world that will leave middle-grade and teen readers clamoring for more.

Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by Jessica Townsend
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Beth Mitchell

Morrigan has grown up believing she is cursed. Then, on her eleventh birthday, her luck changes when she’s whisked off to the magical city of Nevermoor, and invited to compete to be a member of the Wundrous society.   Readers will assume she makes it through the trials, but Morrigan’s low self-esteem means she herself is doubtful, and so it’s not just her external triumph that makes readers cheer for her.  Thought the good vs. evil plot might seem familiar, there are plent of unique twists.  The zany world of Nevermoor is wildly original, and the characters are vivid and three-dimensional. Fantasy-loving kids will be hooked by this memorable, magical story, and want the next book right away!

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Tess of the Road
by Rachel Hartman
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Caitlin

In Tess of the Road, author Rachel Hartman masterfully employs the classic fantasy quest format as a metaphor for Tess’s emotional journey towards healing and self-acceptance. The ‘road novel’ is a familiar trope, but Tess’s journey is full of unexpected bends in the road: difficult family relationships, guilt over past mistakes, trouble accepting help from others.

As an epic fantasy, it’s easy to expect stakes that are larger than life: good vs. evil, the fate of the universe. Where Tess is different is that she wrestles with struggles we all face daily–including how to push through other people’s ideas about you to get to the heart of who you really are. She’s a relatable main character, and readers will find themselves rooting for her to overcome her flaws.

This novel is action-packed, yet also richly layered. It has humor and suspense as well as depth and subtlety, as Tess sorts through complex issues that will resonate with readers and engage them in her quest for self-understanding and self-acceptance.

 [Via Locus Online.]

Stan and Ollie: A Review

By Steve Vertlieb: Stan And Ollie is truly one of the loveliest films that it has been my privilege to see in years. This sweet, gentle portrait of the screen’s indisputably greatest comedy team is often hilarious, yet heartbreaking in its unflinching portrait of two incandescent souls who lit up motion picture theaters with their impeccable artistry. John C. Reilly is astonishing as Oliver Hardy, known affectionately as “Babe” to those closest to him. His transformation and performance are deeply touching, focusing on the portly actor’s frailty, gambling addiction, and quiet dignity as the years begin to evaporate his strength and vitality. This is clearly the performance of his career. Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel, the creative force behind the team’s hilarity and success, is gently brilliant in his depiction of a comedic genius struggling to keep the team alive as their gradual descent from fame and from youth has begun taking its inevitable toll.

Their respective wives are their seeming opposites. Ida Kitaeva Laurel (Nina Arianda) is a shrill, domineering woman whose physical stature and brash personality loudly overshadow her outwardly meek husband. Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) is closer to Stan in demeanor, yet married to the gregarious “Babe” Hardy. Dedicated to preserving her beloved husband’s failing health and happiness, Lucille is the anchor who must rescue Ollie from his own excesses. Ida and Lucille are as different as Stan and Ollie, providing a striking, if bizarre, reflection and mirror image of their respective spouse’s personalities. Danny Huston in another of his menacing performances as Hal Roach, and Rufus Jones as the ruthless promoter who imports the boys to England in the latter years of their careers are, perhaps, symbolic of the crass tastes of a fickle public who have, in so cavalier a fashion, discarded the once beloved comedy team to the ash heap of fame and fortune.

Jeff Pope’s deeply melancholy screenplay, based upon Laurel and Hardy: The British Tours by A.J. Marriot, begins with the duo’s career high as they battle for release from their contract with Hal Roach, then effortlessly segues into their declining years as entertainers when the world and their once loyal fans have all but forgotten them. Laurel, who wrote all of the team’s classic comedy dialogue and routines, brings his ailing partner to England to revive their popularity with a proposed new film based upon the legend of Robin Hood. Sadly, the film never materialized, but a dream sequence in which Stan and Ollie re-create the first meeting of Robin and Friar Tuck is genuinely hilarious.

Rolfe Kent’s musical score brings sweet clarity to the failed dreams and quiet frustration, endured proudly by the embattled, fallen comic warriors, while Laurie Rose’s muted colors and cinematography lend historical accuracy to a bleak, heart aching descent from fame, popularity, and grace.

Directed with affection, and dignity by Jon S. Baird, this Sony Classics release is a tender, sweetly compassionate look at the greatest comedy team in motion picture history … after the adulation and parade had passed them by. Their growing sadness as the reality of age, health, and sad obscurity conspires to consume their devotion to one another ultimately masks a consummate love story that these gentle souls shared. Stan And Ollie is, at its considerable heart, a love story … a fragile take on the rigors and aftermath of fame, and the ultimate redemption of two beautiful human souls whose lasting dignity, respect, and affection for one another comprised the artistry, charm and enduring magic that was … and is … Stan And Ollie.

SFF Stamps of 2018

The US Postal Service put out a bumper crop of stamps of interest to fans in 2018. Here’s a roundup:

“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”

For nearly 50 years, this call has summoned the beloved animated Great Dane wherever help is needed.

Here’s Scooby-Doo!—brought to you by the U.S. Postal Service®. This Forever® stamp issuance highlights the popular canine sleuth and his new Scooby-Doo DOO GOOD Campaign. (Issued 7/14/2018.)

In 2018, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates dragons, the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia. (Issued 8/9/2018)

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates magic, an art form that has entertained America for centuries. This sheet of 20 stamps features digital illustrations of five classic illusions: a rabbit in a top hat (production), a fortune teller using a crystal ball (prediction), a woman floating in the air (levitation), an empty bird cage (vanishing), and a bird emerging from a flower (transformation). (Issued 8/7/2018)

America’s first woman in space, Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012), inspired the nation as a pioneering astronaut, brilliant physicist, and dedicated educator. (Stamp issued 5/23/2018)

Designed to pique the curiosity of the viewer, each stamp features a collage of face, symbols, drawings, and numbers that represent the complexity and interconnectedness of the STEM disciplines. (Issued 4/6/2018)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian and John Hertz for the story.]

Review: Stan & Ollie

By John King Tarpinian: Loved the movie. Within ten minutes I stopped seeing the actors playing Stan & Ollie and just saw Stan & Ollie. Their last performances were in Ireland, taking place in 1953. That is when Ray Bradbury saw them perform on the stage.

For me, the only distraction was that the actress who played Oliver Hardy’s wife also played Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter.  She could have altered her voice in some way because it stuck out like a sore thumb.

According to the Bradbury scholar, Phil Nichols, who received his PhD on Ray’s films, “…some scenes were shot just a couple of miles from where I live. Remember the inn they arrive at (the first hotel they check into)? That’s part of the ‘Black Country Living Museum’, just down the road from here. There was also a montage sequence showing an old trolleybus, a fish & chip shop, and some rows of shops – all of these are in the Museum. I think they filmed there for a couple of days.”

By no coincidence, my favorite Ray Bradbury short story is “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair”. (Found in the Toynbee Convector anthology) Ray has written other stories involving the boys, as ghosts and also in outer space.

2019 Razzie Award Nominees

The nominations for the 39th annual Razzie Awards to recognize the worst films of the year were announced today, a day before the Oscar nominees come out. There are genre works in several categories.

The 39th Annual Razzie Awards ceremony will be February 23, the night before the 91st Academy Awards.

Worst Picture

  • Gotti
  • The Happytime Murders
  • Holmes & Watson
  • Robin Hood
  • Winchester

Worst Actress

  • Jennifer Garner / Peppermint
  • Amber Heard / London Fields
  • Melissa McCarthy / The Happytime Murders and Life of the Party
  • Helen Mirren / Winchester
  • Amanda Seyfried / The Clapper  

Worst Actor

  • Johnny Depp (Voice Only) / Sherlock Gnomes
  • Will Ferrell / Holmes & Watson
  • John Travolta / Gotti
  • Donald J. Trump (As Himself) / Death of a Nation and Fahrenheit 11/9    
  • Bruce Willis / Death Wish 

Worst Supporting Actor

  • Jamie Foxx / Robin Hood
  • Ludacris (Voice Only)/ Show Dogs
  • Joel McHale / The Happytime Murders
  • John C. Reilly / Holmes & Watson
  • Justice Smith / Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 

Worst Supporting Actress

  • Kellyanne Conway (As Herself) / Fahrenheit 11/9
  • Marcia Gay Harden / Fifty Shades Freed
  • Kelly Preston / Gotti
  • Jaz Sinclair / Slender Man
  • Melania Trump (As Herself) / Fahrenheit 11/9

Worst Screen Combo

  • Any Two Actors or Puppets (Especially in Those Creepy Sex Scenes) / The Happytime Murders
  • Johnny Depp & His Fast-Fading Film Career (He’s doing voices for cartoons, fer kripesakes!) / Sherlock Gnomes
  • Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly (Trashing Two of Literature’s Most Beloved Characters) / Holmes & Watson
  • Kelly Preston & John Travolta (Getting BATTLEFIELD EARTH type Reviews!) / Gotti
  • Donald J. Trump & His Self Perpetuating Pettiness / Death of a Nation & Fahrenheit 11/9 

Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel

  • Death of a Nation (remake of Hillary’s America…)
  • Death Wish
  • Holmes & Watson
  • The Meg (rip-off of Jaws)
  • Robin Hood  

Worst Director

  • Etan Cohen / Holmes & Watson
  • Kevin Connolly / Gotti
  • James Foley / Fifty Shades Freed
  • Brian Henson / The Happytime Murders
  • The Spierig Brothers (Michael and Peter) / Winchester

Worst Screenplay

  • Death of a Nation, Written by Dinesh D’Souza & Bruce Schooley
  • Fifty Shades Freed, Screenplay by Niall Leonard, from the Novel by E.L. James  
  • Gotti, Screenplay by Leo Rossi and Lem Dobbs
  • The Happytime Murders, Screenplay by Todd Berger, Story by Berger and Dee Austin Robinson  
  • Winchester, Written by Tom Vaughan and The Spierig Brothers  

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge for the story.]

Stackpole Resigns from GAMA Board

Michael A. Stackpole has resigned as an Emeritus Director of the Game Manufacturers Association. He published his resignation letter on his blog January 6:

To the GAMA Board,

It is my great pleasure to have been part of the gaming industry since 1972 when I first discovered it. In 1977 I sold my first article, in 1978 I sold my first game design and in 1979 began working for Flying Buffalo, Inc.. In 1985 I was able to go freelance and since that time I have made my living through creative arts including game design and game based fiction. My work has been honored with Origins awards, and in 1993 I received the GAMA Meritorious Service award, and was a first ballot inductee into the Academy of Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame. I have worked long enough in this industry to have survived many of the companies for whom I worked, and have continued to enjoy fruitful associations with what companies remain.

A long time ago, to honor the industry which gave me my start, I made a personal pledge to serve it however I could. I have been a long time volunteer. I have been an advocate for gaming in perilous times. With Loren Wiseman’s help, in the late 1980s and early 1990s I successfully led the fight against the religious right and their attempts to censor and abolish the games we create, enjoy and share. I still take pride in gamers reporting to me that The Pulling Report enabled them to fight back against anti-game bigotry even to this day. Though the work is difficult, I have been pleased to continue the fight as part of the Industry Watch Committee of GAMA.

The greatest privilege I have had is to serve on the Board of Directors, initially for three years as an elected member, and the last eleven as an Emeritus member. I feel the Emeritus role on the board is a crucial one, since board turnover requires a repository of knowledge so we can avoid the pitfalls of past mistakes, and maintain the benefits of what we have learned in past times.

I regret that I must now tender my resignation from that post.

I have not reached this decision based on any political divide within the Board. I have come to it because the Board is broken. Since June, the board has had more meetings than ever before, and has done less than ever before. In one recent meeting, it took the board 45 minutes to word a resolution empowering a committee to hire a lawyer to negotiate with another lawyer. Three-quarters of an hour, in a meeting scheduled for two hours, which stretched to four.

The board is broken when the organization’s membership indicates its will; and then the board commissions a poll to second guess the membership’s will. When that poll comes back confirming what the membership wants, the board hires a lawyer to tell them they can ignore the membership. 

The board is broken when it, having previously enjoyed robust and detailed discussions about GAMA harassment policies, down to the minutia of the structuring of an investigative team to be in place at our shows, chooses only to censure an officer who physically assaulted a female security guard.

The board is broken when, in wishing to discuss me in email, without my being aware of the chain, they actually send it to a list which includes me. (Thought I’d let you know about that so you didn’t think your emails were leaked to me.)

This is not a decision reached easily, and one that comes with profound sadness. During my time in the industry, I have seen incredible change for the better, and an incredible resilience to recover from all manner of disasters—economic, social and board-generated. I have great belief that the gaming industry will survive and thrive in the future. It is bigger than any one person, or a board. It can be defined only by the pleasure and joy it brings everyone it touches, and, therefore, will be eternal.

My resignation is effective 3 PM, 5 January 2019

Michael A. Stackpole

The Game Manufacturers Association has been down a very rocky road this past year:

[Thanks to BravoLimaPoppa3 for the story.]

2019 Golden Globe Awards


The winners of the 76th annual Golden Globes were announced January 6.

Two genre finalists won Golden Globes. The Best Motion Picture Animated category was won by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, and recognition for the Best Original Score Motion Picture went to Justin Hurwitz for First Man.

The categories with finalists of genre interested are listed below along with the winners. See all 25 categories here.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

  • “Black Panther”
  • “BlacKkKlansman”
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” — WINNER
  • “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • “A Star Is Born”

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • “Crazy Rich Asians”
  • “The Favourite”
  • “Green Book” — WINNER
  • “Mary Poppins Returns”
  • “Vice”

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
  • Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) — WINNER
  • Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)
  • Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
  • Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Christian Bale (“Vice”) — WINNER
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
  • Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
  • Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
  • John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

  • Amy Adams (“Vice”)
  • Claire Foy (“First Man”)
  • Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) — WINNER
  • Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
  • Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”)

Best Motion Picture – Animated

  • “Incredibles 2”
  • “Isle of Dogs”
  • “Mirai”
  • “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
  • “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” — WINNER

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
  • Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
  • Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
  • Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”) — WINNER
  • Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  • “All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
  • “Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
  • “Requiem For a Private War” (“A Private War”)
  • “Revelation’ (“Boy Erased”)
  • “Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”) — WINNER

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

  • Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
  • Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
  • Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”) — WINNER
  • Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
  • Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • “Barry” (HBO)
  • “The Good Place” (NBC)
  • “Kidding” (Showtime)
  • “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix) WINNER
  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”)
  • Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”)
  • Alison Brie (“Glow”)
  • Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) WINNER
  • Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
  • Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”) — WINNER
  • Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
  • Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
  • Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

New Year Honours List 2019

Authors Margaret Atwood and Philip Pullman are two of many genre figures on the United Kingdom’s New Year Honours List for 2019 [PDF file] published December 28.

There is also Michael Palin, launched to fame with the Monty Python troupe; Christopher Nolan, director of numerous sff films like Inception, The Dark Knight, and Interstellar (though I expect 2017’s WWII historical Dunkirk had something to do with the honor); Thandie Newton, whose latest hit is Westworlds; and Sophie Okonedo, an actress with many Doctor Who credits, along with film appearances in Aeon Flux and Martian Child.

ORDER OF ST MICHAEL AND ST GEORGE

KCMG

Michael Edward PALIN CBE FRGS, Comedian, Actor, Writer and Television Presenter. For services to travel, culture and geography

Knights Bachelor

Philip Nicholas Outram PULLMAN CBE, Author. For services to Literature.

ORDER OF THE COMPANIONS OF HONOUR

Dr Margaret Eleanor ATWOOD, Canadian Author. For services to literature

ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE

CBE

Christopher Edward NOLAN, Director and Filmmaker. For services to film

ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE

Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Melanie Thandiwe NEWTON Actress. For services to Film and charity. (Thandie Newton)

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Sophie OKONEDO OBE Actress. For services to Drama.

2018 Additions to National Film Registry

Three films of genre interest — Snow White, The Shining, and Jurassic Park — are among the 25 works added this year: “Library of Congress National Film Registry Turns 30”.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today the annual selection of 25 of America’s most influential motion pictures to be inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage.

…Among this year’s selections are Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 thriller “Rebecca”; film noir classics “Leave Her to Heaven” (1945) and “The Lady From Shanghai” (1947), which was directed by Orson Welles; Disney’s 1950 animation “Cinderella”; “Days of Wine and Roses,” Blake Edwards’ uncompromising commentary about alcoholism (1962); James L. Brooks’ 1987 treatise on the tumultuous world of television news, “Broadcast News” and Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking 1993 tale about the rebirth of dinosaurs, “Jurassic Park.”

Two contemporary Western dramas headline this year’s list: the 1961 “One-Eyed Jacks,” Marlon Brando’s only directorial endeavor, and Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed “Brokeback Mountain.” Released in 2005,“Brokeback Mountain” also has the distinction of becoming the newest film on the registry while the 1891 “Newark Athlete” is the oldest.

The Librarian makes the annual registry selections after conferring with the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) and a cadre of Library specialists. Also considered were more than 6,300 titles nominated by the public.  Nominations for next year will be accepted through the fall at loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/nominate/.

The citations for the three genre films are quoted below. The complete list is available here.

  • Cinderella (1950)

It would take the enchanted magic of Walt Disney andhis extraordinary team to revitalize a story as old as Cinderella. Yet, in1950, Disney and his animators did just that with this version of the classic tale. Sparkling songs, high-production value and bright voice performances have made this film a classic from its premiere. Though often told and repeated across all types of media, Disney’s lovely take has become the definitive version of this classic story about a girl, a prince and a single glass slipper. Breathtaking animation fills every scene, including what was reportedly Walt Disney’s favorite of all Disney animation sequences: the fairy godmother transforming Cinderella’s “rags” into an exquisite gown and glass slippers.

  • Jurassic Park (1993)

The concept of people somehow existing in the age of dinosaurs (or dinosaurs somehow existing in the age of people) has been explored in film and on television numerous times.  No treatment, however, has ever been done with more skill, flair or popcorn-chomping excitement than this 1993 blockbuster. Set on a remote island where a man’s toying with evolution has run amok, this Steven Spielberg classic ranks as the epitome of the summer blockbuster. “Jurassic Park” was the top public vote-getter this year.

  • The Shining (1980)

Director Stanley Kubrick’s take on Stephen King’s terrifying novel has only grown in esteem through the years. The film is inventive in visual style, symbolism and narrative as only a Kubrick film can be. Long but multi-layered, “The Shining” contains stunning visuals — rivers of blood cascading down deserted hotel hallways, disturbing snowy mazes and a mysterious set of appearing and disappearing twins — with iconic performances by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. 

Brave New Words Award 2019 Accepting Submissions

Starburst Magazine is taking submissions for its 2019 Brave New Words books prize through February 16.

The Brave New Words Award is for “someone who produces break-out literature that is new and bold,” say the organizers. “We are looking to highlight exciting work that breaks new ground in the field of Cult Entertainment.”

Editors, writers, publishers, and bloggers can be nominated. Works produced in the UK (or online) in 2018 are eligible. A shortlist will be announced early 2019.

The Award ceremony will be at Edge Lit,the UK’s premiere indie book event. Edge Lit is an annual UK based genre event. It will be held at the Derby Quad, UK, on July 13, 2019. Guest of honour is Tim Lebbon.

Last year’s award winner was Margrét Helgadóttir for her work as editor of Pacific Monsters, published by Fox Spirit Books.  Pacific Monsters brought together genre voices from that region of the world into one volume.

The panel of judges include genre critics and media professionals. The head judge is Starburst Magazine’s Literary Editor, Ed Fortune.

There is no submission fee for the Brave New Words award, nor is there a limit on the number of titles that can be submitted.

The guidelines remind entrants —

Please bear in in mind that STARBURST is a magazine grounded in the field of Cult Entertainment and we are always highlighting indie and cutting-edge media.

The award goes to an individual, not a specific work, so we are looking for examples that most define the creators output.  We want full works: a complete novel or anthology or an example of the writer’s essays. For editors, we are looking specifically at works the editor has curated. We will require one copy of the work in physical or electronic form. If the work makes it to the shortlist, we may require an up to five additional copies. We prefer electronic submissions in all cases.

The email address is ed.fortune@starburstmagazine.com (marked BNW Awards) and the address to send physical publications is: BRAVE NEW WORDS AWARD SUBMISSIONS c/o STARBURST Magazine, P.O. Box 4508, Manchester, M61 0GY, U.K.

Physical submissions must be clearly marked as intended for the award – mark the package and include a note with each copy.