Pixel Scroll 9/8/21 HR Pixeling Stuff! Whose Your File When Things Get Rough

(1) ABOUT TIME. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has one he’s sure the panel will like. Can that actually happen?

This month, the Old Hugo Finalist the Young People read was Samuel R. Delany’s “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, which was first published in New Worlds, #185 December 1968. Despite my track record of guessing wrong about what older SFF will appeal to younger people, I am pretty confident about this one. Not only did “Time” win both the Nebula and the Hugo in its category, but Delany’s fiction is objectively popular. The Bantam edition of Delany’s crowd-pleasing Dhalgren, for example, went through 19 editions and sold over a million copies. Success in this matter is therefore utterly assured…. 

(2) WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW. “Edgar Allan Poe Needs a Friend” – and apparently found one – as explained by Matthew Redmond at Lapham’s Quarterly.

Type “Edgar Allan Poe” into your preferred image search engine, brace for impact, and press Enter. Instantly you hit a wall of chalk-white faces, each conveying a mixture of despair, dyspepsia, grief, wonderment, and wounded pride. Some are actual daguerreotypes, while the rest are fan art or movie stills inspired by those antique likenesses. In every case, one has the distinct feeling that misery could not ask for better company. This is Poe.

Now try searching “Poe Osgood portrait” instead. What comes up this time is a face totally different from those in the previous set. It can’t be the same person. There is color in his cheeks and light in his eyes, and his brow looks quite unburdened. The expression registers as neither menacing nor miserable, but magnanimous. This too is Poe.

It is Samuel Stillman Osgood’s more human version of the poet, novelist, and critic that interests us here. That the portrait has become emblematic of a close friendship between Poe and Frances Osgood, the artist’s wife, makes it still more surprising, because Poe is not supposed to have had friends…. 

(3) SAD POOPERS. Camestros Felapton, in Debarkle chapter 63, charts “What the Evil League of Evil (and Friends) Did Next”.

… In an apparent bid to make the historiography of the Debarkle easier, multiple members of 2014’s Evil League of Evil banded together to publish an anthology entitled “Forbidden Thoughts”. The title, evocative of Harlan Ellison’s never fully completed Dangerous Visions anthologies, was predicated on the idea that the last bastion of transgressive ideas in speculative fiction is reactionary conservatism….

(4) STONE SOUP. In “Building Beyond: Mycorrhizal Networking”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Casey Lucas and Arkady Martine to work on the writing prompt:

City planners in this civilization rely on fungus to help them do their jobs.

(5) THE END IS NEAR. Leonardo DiCaprio is part of a celebrity ensemble cast in Don’t Look Up, which tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth. On Netflix on December 24.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1966 – Fifty-five years ago on NBC, Star Trek premiered. Roddenberry had pitched a brief treatment to Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions, producers of Mission: Impossible, three years previously, calling it “a Wagon Train to the stars”. I won’t go into details here as y’all know them all too well but will note that it would spawn eleven television series to date, thirteen films, and numerous books, games, and more toys than you can possibly keep count. The series won two Hugos, one at NyCon 3 for “The Menagerie”, and another at Baycon for “The City on the Edge of Forever”.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 8, 1925 — Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Amusingly he was involved in a number of folk tale productions in various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom ThumbMother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
  • Born September 8, 1937 — Archie Goodwin. Comics writer and editor with a very long career. He was the writer and editor of the horror Creepy and Eerie anthologies, the first writer on the Iron Man series, wrote comic book adaptations for Marvel of the two Star Wars sequels and edited the Star Wars line for them. For DC, he edited Starman which Robinson said he was inspiration for. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 8, 1945 — Willard Huyck, 76. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas, first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before being the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatos Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm.  
  • Born September 8, 1952 — Linda D. Addison, 69. First Black winner of the Stoker Award which she has won five times. Amazingly, The first two awards were for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial. All five of her Awards were for poetry collections. She does write more than poetry as her story, “Shadow Dreams”, was published in the Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda anthology.
  • Born September 8, 1954 — Mark Lindsay Chapman, 67. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The LegacyBram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy, The New Adventures of Superman, The Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
  • Born September 8, 1965 — Matt Ruff, 56. I think that his Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? And of course there the adaptation of Lovecraft Country which I’ve not seen as I don’t have HBO. He won an Otherwise Award for Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, and an Endeavour Award for The Lovecraft Country.
  • Born September 8, 1966 — Gordon Van Gelder, 55. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, with the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form at Nippon 3 and at Devention 3.  He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. 
  • Born September 8, 1975 — C. Robert Cargill, 46. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards winning Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script.

(8) TRAILER PARK. A new DCEU animated film trailer: “Injustice”.

Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice finds an alternate world gone mad – where The Joker has duped Superman into killing Lois Lane, sending the Man of Steel on a deadly rampage. Unhinged, Superman decides to take control of the Earth for humanity’s own good. Determined to stop him, Batman creates a team of like-minded, freedom-fighting heroes. But when Super Heroes go to war, can the world survive?

(9) FOUR EXCUSES. Mostly not genre, but Stephen Colbert’s “Excuses Song” could be like a national anthem for introverts.

Stephen, Jon and the Stay Human band recorded this hot new jam guaranteed to make you dance, and give you some foolproof excuses to get out of social obligations this Fall.

(10) STEVE POPS BACK IN. My daughter grew up watching Blue’s Clues. Which means I watched, too. So while I don’t know about her, I needed this! “So about that time Steve went off to college…”

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles” on YouTube, Fandom Games says this steampunk series “has almost nothing to do with what actually goes on in a courtroom” and featrues Sherlock Holmes as “an arrogant moron.”  “So strap on that katana and get ready to make objections!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi Wins Women’s Prize for Fiction

Piranesi by Susannah Clarke, art by David Mann
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, art by David Mann

British writer Susanna Clarke won the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction on September 8 for her fantasy novel Piranesi.

Clarke was awarded the 30,000-pound ($41,000) award for her second novel, which was published 16 years after her first, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, became a Hugo and World Fantasy Award winner. Piranesi likewise is nominated for both awards this year.

Novelist Bernardine Evaristo, who chaired the Women’s Prize judging panel, said Clarke had “created a world beyond our wildest imagination that also tells us something profound about what it is to be human.”

Clarke was one of two British authors among six finalists for the prize, founded in 1996 and open to female English-language writers from around the world.

This year’s other finalists were

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  • How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
  • Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

[Thanks to David Brain for the story.]

2021 Deutscher Science Fiction Preis

By Cora Buhlert: The winners of the 2021 Deutscher Science Fiction Preis have been announced. 

BEST GERMAN LANGUAGE SHORT STORY

  • “Wagners Stimme” (Wagner’s Voice) by Carsten Schmitt, in Wie künstlich ist Intelligenz? (How artificial is intelligence?), edited by Klaus N. Frick, publisher: Plan9

Klaus N. Frick is also the current editor of the Perry Rhodan series. I sometimes chat with him on Twitter.

BEST GERMAN LANGUAGE NOVEL

  • Die Sprache der Blumen (The Language of Flowers) by Sven Haupt, publisher: Mystic Verlag

Here’s an interesting addendum regarding the winners of the Deutscher Science Fiction Preis.

It is a well-known problem that the gender ratio of winners of the two major German SF awards (Deutscher Science Fiction Preis and Kurd Laßwitz Preis) is seriously skewed.

German writer, fan and conrunner Norbert Fiks has created a graphic of winners of the two awards in the fiction categories since 1980, showing just how skewed the gender ratio really is.

[“Frauenanteil” translates “Proportion of women.”]

Norbert Fiks also created this graphic, which is even more depressing. Because marked in orange are the awards that a single author, Andreas Eschbach, a male writer, has won:

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.]

Pixel Scroll 9/7/21 I’ve Scrolled Through The Desert In A File With No Name

(1) TROPE THE LIGHT FANTASTIC. The Nerds of Color had the opportunity to interview Denis Villeneuve. Their headline asks “Is ‘Dune’ Truly a White-Savior Story?”, however, there is much more to the interview than the part relating to the title, excerpted here:

There is a storytelling trope called the White Savior where a Caucasian will go into a foreign land and act as a rescuer or messianic figure to the indigenous people there. And Herbert’s work has been criticized for falling into that trope. So how do you contemporize the story to avoid falling into the problematic areas that trope may potentially present?

That’s a very important question. And it’s why I thought Dune was, the way I was reading it, a critique of that [trope]. It’s not a celebration of a savior. It’s a condemnation and criticism of that idea of a savior. Of someone that will come and tell another operation how to be and what to believe… it’s a criticism. That’s the way I feel it’s relevant and can be seen contemporary. And that’s what I’ll say about that. Frankly it’s the opposite [of that trope].

(2) DISCON III RATE HIKE SEPT. 15. DisCon III membership prices go up on September 15. Purchase your Attending, Virtual, or Supporting Worldcon membership now.

(3) NYRSF READINGS. Michael Bishop will feature in the New York Review of Science Fiction readings series on September 9. The program will livestream from the NYRSF Readings Facebook page at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) CAR TUNES. Bob Gale finally got his wish. “In ‘Back to The Future: The Musical,’ the Car Is the Star of the Show” – and the New York Times has the story.

During a recent performance of “Back to the Future: The Musical,” at the Adelphi Theater here, the audience couldn’t stop cheering.

They cheered a preshow announcement asking everyone to turn off their cellphones, “since they weren’t invented in 1985,” the year the original movie was released. They cheered when Marty McFly, the show’s main character (played by Olly Dobson), skateboarded onstage in an orange body warmer. And they cheered, again, when he started singing, surrounded by break dancers and women in aerobics getup to complete the 1980s vibe.

But the loudest applause came about 20 minutes in. After three loud bangs and a flash of light, a DeLorean car seemed to magically appear in the middle of the stage, lights bouncing off its steel bodywork and gull-wing doors.

The audience went wild.

Bob Gale, who co-wrote the original movie with Robert Zemeckis and wrote the musical’s book, said in a telephone interview that he always knew the car would be vital to the show’s success. “We knew if we pulled it off, it was going to make the audience go nuts,” he said.

He added he had been working on making that happen for over 15 years. 

(5) GAME ON. The “Montegrappa Winter Is Here Limited Edition Fountain Pen” is marked down to $4,400! Hmm, shall I buy it, or do my laundry for the next 220 months?

Made under license to HBO, Montegrappa’s new Game of Thrones pen, Winter is Here, pays homage to the mysterious forces from north of The Wall.

Using the ancient jeweller’s art of lost wax casting, Montegrappa has created half pen, half objet d’art.

Three-dimensional effigies of the Night King and White Walker form a sterling silver superstructure that encases a body of shiny lines celluloid. The figure of Viserion wraps around the cap, and the dragon’s head with a tongue of ice coming out of its mouth acts as an innovative pocket clip. Enamelled, crystal blue flames encircle the base of the cap, while semi-precious apatite stones emulate the cold, mysterious eyes unique to beings of the North.

(6) MOUNTAIN CLIMBER. James Davis Nicoll devises “Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book” at Tor.com.

Anyone can apply logic, taste, and methodical research to the problem of selecting which limited subset of the vast number of books available one is to read. Conversely, one can half-ass one’s way through Mt. Tsundoku using methods of dubious reliability. Don’t believe me? Here are five methods I have used, each more ludicrous than the one before….

(7) FREE MARS EVENT. Explore Mars, Inc., is holding a free S2021 Humans to Mars Summit (H2M 2021) on September 13–15. It will be a virtual event, however, Explore Mars plans to also conduct some in-person elements in Washington, D.C. Register here.

The topics include:

  • Planet of Robots: Recent Milestones and Discoveries on Mars
  • Artemis to Mars: Utilizing the Moon to sending Humanity to Mars
  • How Space Exploration Improves Life on Earth
  • Making it on Mars: 3-D Printing and Other Critical Technologies
  • Building a Space Workforce: Inspiring and Motivating Preprofessional     and Early Professionals
  • EVA Suits and Surface Operations
  • Nuclear Propulsion and Surface Power
  • Robotic Support: Prior, During, and After Crewed Missions to Mars
  • How Can Space Exploration Expand Inclusiveness and Diversity?

(8) BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. A Livejournal post from Elizabeth Bear for public sharing: “if memories were all i sang i’d rather drive a truck”.

Just wanted to let everybody know that my surgical consult is on Thursday afternoon, and I expect to be scheduled rapidly for surgery after that. If that goes well then I can look forward to a month off to heal and then radiation. If it goes poorly, alas, it’s probably straight into chemo but right now that is considered unlikely.

Scott can’t come in to the consult with me because plague. I’m going to ask if I can record it.

Got my You Are A Cancer Patient Now covid booster which was surprisingly emotional. Cue crying in a CVS. Could be worse… so glad I’m not doing this last year….

(9) WALL OF FAME. “Muppets creator Jim Henson’s London home gets blue plaque” reports The Guardian.  

Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, has been honoured with a blue plaque at his former London home.

The US puppeteer, acclaimed for his work on Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock and as director of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, lived at 50 Downshire Hill in Hampstead from 1979….

…His son Brian, who is chairman of the board at The Jim Henson Company, said: “My father moved to London to make The Muppet Show, and then chose to stay because he was so impressed by the UK’s many gifted artists and performers….

(10) TONY SELBY (1938-2021). Actor Tony Selby died September 5 after contracting Covid-19. His genre work included Doctor Who and Ace of Wands.

…In a different vein – and sporting a beard – Selby was one of Doctor Who fans’ favourite guest stars. He played Sabalom Glitz, the selfish mercenary from the planet Salostopus who forms uneasy alliances with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy’s incarnations of the Time Lord in two adventures, the series-long story The Trial of a Time Lord (1986) and Dragonfire (1987). The unbroadcast back story for the second revealed that Glitz had taken the virginity of the doctor’s young companion Ace (Sophie Aldred).

Alongside guest roles as crooks in various television series, the actor played Sam Maxstead, reformed convict and assistant to the magician who uses his real supernatural powers to fight evildoers, in the first two runs (1970-71) of the children’s fantasy series Ace of Wands….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1974 – Forty-seven years ago this night, the Land of the Lost series premiered on NBC. (It went into syndication for the last two seasons.) It was created by Sid and Marty Krofft and (though uncredited during the series) also by David Gerrold, and produced by the Kroffts who were previously known for H.R. Pufnstuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. (I actually remember the former. Particularly the theme song which is earworming its way into my brain now.) Starring Spencer Milligan, Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman, Phillip Paley, and Ron Harper, it ran for three seasons and forty-three half hour episodes. A number of SF writers wrote scripts including  Ben Bova, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon and Norman Spinrad.  The Kroffts continue to claim that they are working on an updated remake to the series and that this time it will be an hour-long series.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 7, 1921 — Donald William Heiney. Under the pseudonym of MacDonald Harris, which he used for all of his fiction, wrote one of the better modern set novels using the Minotaur myth, Bull Fever. His time travel novel, Screenplay, where the protagonist ends up in a film noir 1920s Hollywood is also well crafted. Most of his work is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 7, 1924 — Gerry de la Ree. He published fanzines such as Sun Spots ran for 29 issues from the that Thirties through the Forties, and as editor, he published such work as The Book of Virgil FinlayA Hannes Bok Sketchbook, and Clark Ashton Smith – Artist. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 7, 1955 — Mira Furlan. Damn, another early death among that cast. She’s best known for her role as the Minbari Ambassador Delenn on the entire run of Babylon 5, and also as Danielle Rousseau on Lost, a series I did not watch. (and have absolutely no interest in doing so.) She’s reunited with Bill Mumy and Bruce Boxleitner at least briefly in a Canadian SF series called Space Command. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 7, 1956 — Mark Dawidziak, 65. A Kolchak: Night Stalker fan of the first degree. He has written The Night Stalker Companion: A 30th Anniversary Tribute, Kolchak: The Night Stalker ChroniclesKolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook and The Kolchak Papers: Grave Secret. To my knowledge, he’s not written a word about the rebooted Night Stalker series. Proving he’s a man of discriminating taste. 
  • Born September 7, 1960 — Susan Palwick, 61. She won the Rhysling Award for “The Neighbor’s Wife,” the Crawford Award for best first novel with Her Flying in Place, and the Alex Award for her second novel, The Necessary Beggar. Impressive as she’s not at all prolific. All Worlds are Real, her latest collection, was nominated for the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award. She was one of the editors of New York Review of Science Fiction which was nominated for the Best Semiprozine Hugo at Noreascon 3. 
  • Born September 7, 1966 — Toby Jones, 55. He appeared in “Amy’s Choice,” an Eleventh  Doctor story, as the Dream Lord. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he voiced Dobby the house elf. And in Finding Neverland, Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s bo’sun. Guess what work that film was based on. Finally I’ll note that he was using motion capture as Aristides Silk in The Adventures of Tintin. 
  • Born September 7, 1973 — Alex Kurtzman, 48. Ok, a number of sites claim he single-handedly destroyed Trek as the fanboys knew it. So why their hatred for him? Mind you I’m more interested that he and Roberto Orci created the superb Fringe series, and that alone redeems him for me. And I’m fascinated that he was Executive Producer on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess!
  • Born September 7, 1974 — Noah Huntley, 47. He has appeared in films such as 28 Days LaterThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (excellent film), Snow White and the Huntsman (great film), Event Horizon (surely you’ve something else to do) and Dracula Untold (well, not so great). He’s Gawain in The Mists of Avalon series which I refuse to watch, and shows up as Donovan Osborn in the CW series Pandora which, I’m not kidding, which gets a Rotten Tomatoes zero percent audience rating. Ouch. Anyone here seen it? 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) IF ONLY IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE. It’s a good thing the writers didn’t wait – reality has already overtaken the future predicted in this 2006 movie: “The oral history of ‘Idiocracy,’ Mike Judge’s time travel triumph” at Inverse.

Mike Judge’s science fiction satire imagined what the United States might look like in the year 2505. From his perspective, that meant:

A population made stupid by advertising

A brash president who used to be a wrestler

Crocs dominating the footwear landscape

Society seems doomed until a 21st-century everyman (Luke Wilson) gets frozen by the military and wakes up 500 years later, making him the smartest person in America and the only man who can save it.

Beset by a low budget and little-to-no-advertising support from 20th Century Fox, Idiocracy almost didn’t happen at all. The fact that it exists is a miracle. The fact that it managed to accurately predict the future is just a bonus, though Judge loves to downplay his prescience….

JUDGE: I started talking to other writers; Etan Cohen was over at my house and I told him about the idea and the next day he said, “I really like that idea. I was thinking there could be a fart museum.” I thought, “Maybe his head’s in the right place for this.”

ETAN COHEN (CO-WRITER): It was great because there wasn’t a rush. It was a luxury to have that much time to generate the idea….

COHEN: One of the great things about the movie was it was very cathartic because you could just drive around and if anything got you angry it could go right in the movie….

(15) ANOTHER BITE OF THE POISONED APPLE. Two more authors think it’s not too late to mock the spirit of the times. Canadian authors Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock have produced a new installment in their cult-classic graphic novel series, The Silent Invasion, coming out from NBM Publishing on October 19.

Dark Matter is the latest installment in the graphic novel series which began 35 years ago. The series originally focused on the paranoia and conspiracy theories in the 1950s including UFOs, alien abductions and invasions — both alien and communist. The current book continues with an emphasis on brainwashing by religious cults that may be in league with a secretive cabal of industrialists, military authorities and scientists, who may have the assistance of alien overseers . 

The Silent Invasion is a visually striking series drawn in a bold and expressionistic European-influenced black and white style . However, Dark Matter is a complex, compelling and sometimes humorous tale filled with numerous twists and turns. 

Referring to the current political atmosphere filled with rampant conspiracy theories, writer Larry Hancock, said, “If there is any time for a good dose of paranoia that doesn’t take itself seriously, it’s now.” 

Co-author and illustrator Michael Cherkas added, “I’ve always been fascinated by the phenomenon of UFO sightings, aliens abductions and conspiracies. It’s interesting that this sort of “magical thinking” is no longer confined to the fringe element. It’s now part of the mainstream.” 

(16) STOLEN AND FOUND. Suggest brings us “The Wild Story Of Nicolas Cage’s Issue Of The First Superman Comic”.

Nicolas Cage’s love of comic books is fairly well known. The star of Ghost Rider and Kick-Ass once owned the legendary Action Comics No. 1, featuring the first appearance of Superman. What happened to this specific issue is quite wild, and the story even features a connection to the hit A&E series Storage Wars. Here’s what happened….

I can’t resist an item that mentions Storage Wars — my friend Elst Weinstein appeared as an expert in the show’s first season.

(17) SCARY LEGO SPECIAL. There can be more terrifying things than stepping on them barefoot — “LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales debuts Disney+ trailer” at SYFY Wire.

Marvel isn’t the only one capable of exploring alternate realities within established canon. The official trailer for the LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales special (coming to Disney+ early next month) teases a trio of stories that put a fresh — and borderline What If…? — twist on beloved characters and storylines.

Set on the volcanic planet of Mustafar, Terrifying Tales follows Poe Dameron (Jake Green), BB-8, and plucky mechanic Dean (Raphael Alejandro) as they’re treated to a hair-raising tour of Vader’s old castle. One of the most foreboding locations in the Star Wars mythos, the castle is being turned into a galactic tourist attraction by Graballa the Hutt (Dana Snyder)….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Shang-chi Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, has the producer take out the “Marvel Movies checklist” to find that Shang-Chi does have “a big messy CGI Battle,” ‘color-coded energy blasts,” and a hero who takes off his shirt to reveal sic-pack abs.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

2020 Otherwise Award

The 2020 Otherwise Award winner is Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki for “Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon” (in Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Donald Oghenechovwe, Aurelia Leo, 2020). This novella was a unanimous favorite of the jury. [Note: The winner’s name is given first as it appears in his social media, then also as it appears on the cover of the anthology.]

Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald

The Otherwise Award (formerly known as the Tiptree Award) honors stories that expose the many ways we experience gender in this world and others.

About the winner: “Ife-Iyoku” is set in a post-apocalyptic world devastated by nuclear war. Survivors gather in Ife-Iyoku, the spiritual capital of Africa’s ancient Oyo Empire, where they are altered in fantastic ways by its magic and power.

In their statement about about this year’s award, the jury writes:

“What could have easily slipped into a stereotypical depiction and affirmation of patriarchal norms among African societies presents itself instead as the struggle of a community in the context of colonialism and colonization, a context that pits the impetus for communal survival against the dictate toward individuality. What does it look like to have gender roles enlisted in the pursuit of a community’s survival against larger, aggressive, unreasoning entities? How does the threat of annihilation further entrench that social schema?”

The jury found much to praise:

“A story that contains everything that‘Ife-Iyoku’ contains could easily have burst at the seams, but one of this work’s most stunning and impressive qualities is its cohesion. In the exciting cinematic opening, a team of psychically gifted hunters battles a mutant, winged, lava-breathing dinosaur. Over the next few chapters, the complex web of the community, its history, its divisions, and its context in the world are revealed, leading us to a situation that shows the disruptive power of a single woman’s choices, and her insistence on self-determination. Not once did it feel like the story’s many themes and aspects existed in isolation. That the story, as much as it holds within it, reads as a seamless piece is a testament to the craft on display.”


About the Honor List: In addition to selecting the winners, each year’s jury chooses an Otherwise Award Honor List. The Honor List is a strong part of the award’s identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list. 

 This year, the jury noted overlapping themes that stood out in the winning work and the Honor List. Like “Ife-Iyoku,” many of the honor-listed stories treat gender in the context of intersectionality — showing how racialized, national, and ethnic identity, as well as disability, affect gendered experience. Several stories grapple with how the world experience of trans men, trans women, nonbinary people, and other embodied entities is affected by the different paths that they walk.

A number of stories deal with queer elders, demonstrating that age does not stop a person from growing, healing, hurting, or being lost and in need of re-forging community and place. Exile was another theme that came up repeatedly, with characters who have been cast out of their homelands and must find a way to construct new kinds of home, with their chosen communities. 

Often, this sense of exile is compounded by environmental destruction, the multi-generational legacy of industrial production and agricultural waste. In these stories, the environment isn’t just a force “out there”—it affects people’s bodies, both physical and political, as well as their social roles. These stories depict people who can wring rain out of the air, build floating cities, transform themselves into clouds of gas, merge with machines, and transcend the world altogether. Human identities do not end where our skin meets the air, but instead are part of ecosystems. And when those ecosystems are under attack, so are we.

Many of the Otherwise honorees grapple with this idea by showing how human bodies are permeable to the environment. This is especially apparent when it comes to characters whose bodies have been rebuilt to function as weapons or hyper-productive workers—a literalization of the ways that patriarchy and capitalism demand that we refashion ourselves as things-to-be-used rather than people. 

The notes on each work in the Honor List are excerpted and edited from comments by members of this year’s jury.

Honor List: 

  • Anya Johanna DeNiro’s City of a Thousand Feelings(novella, Aqueduct Press), a swooping poetic allegory, takes us with trans exiles into battle as they try to enter a city of dreams and wonders, only to be turned away by militant patriarchal villains. Relationships form under pressure, lapse, and are taken up again years later, as the protagonists hide in exile or continue to fight in wars. Finally, new generations are born with new goals, creating their own amazing city, built on the work of the elders who fought so hard to make a world where that was possible. Deeply moving.
  • Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” (short story, Clarkesworld Magazine), which extols the triumphant gender/sex-messiness of the protagonist’s transition into a military weapon, exposes the ways that the military industrial complex can co-opt some of our deepest human social structures to weave our identity construction into components of a bigger machine, a military force. With beauty, depth, and sensitivity, Fall describes Barb’s gendered precision, feelings, fierceness, and relationships built on the trust developed in battle. It is a love story in the mil-sf tradition, one where its heroes, whose identities are tied to war, begin to question the ethics behind that war.  
  • Amy Griswold’s “Custom Options Available” (short story, Fireside Magazine) explores mechanization and gender-modelling in a joyous romp. A retired mining robot chooses gender and sexuality configurations, then cruises for partners. The protagonist then starts to uncover feelings and preferences that they didn’t choose, including a fierce desire for freedom and self-determination. 
  • Sim Kern’s Depart, Depart!(novel, Stelliform Press)follows Noah, whose escape from climate disaster in Houston to a refugee camp further north is complicated by more specific needs for safety and key resources as a young trans man. Luckily, he has a ghostly ancestor for an ally, and a wealth of ethno-familial history to lean on as he navigates his distinct instant of a struggle for a sense of home, belonging, and acceptance that stretches back eons. 
  • R.B. Lemberg’s The Four Profound Weaves (novella, Tachyon Publications) explores the intertwined lives of genderfluid and trans elders who live in a world that hovers between dreams and ancient history. It centers on a nameless man, exiled from his home for moving between genders. He’s on a quest to find an old friend, Benesret, who has the power to weave textiles that embody the four “profound” human experiences of hope, change, wanderlust, and death. Haunting and delightful by turns, the story explores a world of nomads and city-states, magic and art, youth and age, and ultimately what it means to remain friends even as the world and our identities shift like desert sands.
  • Chana Porter’s The Seep(novella, Soho Press), set in San Francisco in homage to Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing, takes a somewhat bitter, leather-jacket-wearing butch dyke protagonist into a post-singularity future where alien nanobots ingested as a drug make almost everyone super happy. Her search for meaning and connection takes place within a community indifferently giving up specific embodied histories, to become whoever and whatever they wish with seemingly no adverse consequences, while she questions whether identity can have meaning without its histories. 
  • Maria Romasco Moore’s “The Moon Room” (short story, Kaleidotrope) brings us into a glittering, but gritty, urban world of drag bars and clandestine identities as seen through the eyes of an alien. Trained from a young age to hide her true nature, she takes photographs of drag queens and revels in their ability to be seen—while the pressures of hiding her polymorphous body drives her to drink and blackouts. Luckily, queer joy saves her from a life of hiding—and she’s finally able to come out as the beauty she is. 
  • Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea (novel, Candlewick Press) is an exciting, complex story about a young nonbinary pirate and an aristocratic young woman figuring out who they are in the face of danger. Unable to return to their homelands, pursued by nasty colonizers, they form an alliance that grows into a fierce and wonderful romance. We can’t wait to return to the world of The Mermaid to learn more about these delightful characters, their cool magic system, and the ways they might start to resist a tyrannical empire! 

Award Ceremony: A virtual award ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 30, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Details on how to join us will be posted at the beginning of October on the website for A Room of One’s Own Bookstore, which is hosting the event. 

The winner will receive $1000 in prize money, a specially commissioned piece of original artwork, and (as always) chocolate.

Recommendations and more: Each year, a jury selects the Otherwise Award winner and Honor List. The 2020 jury members were Liz Henry (chair), Chesya Burke, M.L. Clarke, Annalee Newitz, and Tochi Onyebuchi.

The Otherwise Award invites everyone to recommend works for the Award. Please submit recommendations via the recommendation page of the Otherwise Award website. On the website, you can also donate to help fund the award and read more about past winners and works the Award has honored.

In addition to presenting the Otherwise Award annually, the Award Council presents two annual $500 fellowships to provide support and recognition for the new voices who are making visible the forces that are changing our view of gender today. Applications for Otherwise Fellowships are currently open. Deadline for applications is October 31. Apply here

The Otherwise Award began in 1991 as The James Tiptree, Jr. Award, named after Alice Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. By her choice of a masculine pen name, Sheldon helped break down the imaginary barrier between “women’s writing” and “men’s writing.” In 2019, the Award’s governing body, the Motherboard, decided, in response to community concerns, to rename the Award. The Tiptree Award became the Otherwise Award. (For more on the reasons behind the change, visit the history section of the Award’s website.) 

The Otherwise Award, under any name, is an award with an attitude. As a political statement, as a means of involving people at the grassroots level, as an excuse to eat cookies, and as an attempt to strike the proper ironic note, the award has been financed through bake sales held at science fiction conventions across the United States, as well as in Britain and Australia. Fundraising efforts have included auctions conducted by Ellen Klages and Sumana Harihareswara, the sale of T-shirts and aprons created by collage artist and silk screener Freddie Baer and others, and the publication of four anthologies of award winners and honor-listed stories. Most of these anthologies, along with other publications, can be purchased through the Otherwise Award store.

[Based on a press release.]

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Bonus Fit

Melanie Stormm

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

NEEDLESS TO SAY, NEIL GAIMAN WAS THERE

Hello, All. Melanie here. So I did it. I reached out to Writer X directly and the good news is, she appears to be in good physical condition? No bad news. I’m just confused is all. For one, does she think that I am a figment of Gladys’ imagination? Or an alter-ego?

I’m going to ignore her goad because I figure I probably deserve it. In the meanwhile, Gladys is rapidly become one of the most interesting people I’ve ever been mistaken for.


From: Melanie Stormm

Subject: I’m not who you think I am

Dear Writer X,

You might be surprised to see this unfamiliar name in your inbox, but I wanted to reach out and make sure you were alright.

I have a small, semi-large confession. I’m not Gladys but I’ve been receiving your emails for the last month and a half and also possibly sharing them with the whole world. My name is Melanie and I—and possibly a few others—would like to know if you are alright and if you’ve made any progress in your draft?

Writing is hard work, frequently emotionally exhausting, but worthwhile. I applaud your persistence. Whatever your response to this revelation, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and hope you’ll consider continuing to share your progress with me…um, with us.

Best wishes,

Melanie

…and the Whole World.

p.s. The contents of your draft have been kept private.


Subject: Re: I’m not who you think I am

Dear Gladys,

I now understand mostly everything there is to know about Puhjyna. However, I have no idea what she is doing in this story.

Do you think it’s okay to introduce her as a new character in book five?

By the way, I ran into your younger sister, Blanche, at Mr. Morgan’s Food Emporium and Things Nicely Priced and she said something very surprising to me.

She said your cousin, Luellayou know, the cousin YOU TOLD ME was terminally ill??? She said Luella was in EXCELLENT HEALTH and recently won the New Hampshire All State Synchronous Sky Diving Championship.

Blanche had no idea why I was under the impression that there was anything wrong with Luella at all. She said you and Luella went to Croatia to talk some man into bequeathing you with his beanie baby and pog collection from the 90s. What have I told you about those beanie babies, Gladys??? Don’t you remember what happened to you in Boise??? Beanie babies are going to be the death of you again!!!

Needless to say, I’m not surprised at all that you are also a person named Melanie and that you have been using my unique voice to attract the attention of the world. Fortunately for you, I’m feeling very benign and a little sore after my weekend and I give you my permission enlighten my future readers of my efforts. Please add this to your list of duties after you get caught up on my latest pages, which I’m changing, but you still should read them. 

I’m getting closer and closer to releasing an epic saga of fantasy books that will CHANGE THE WORLD, Gladys. I know this is true because I have seen Neil Gaiman.

Again.

I saw him again.

I’m not talking about the time I saw him outside the bathroom at BAM.

This time I saw him in a mail truck, but I’ll explain later.

You’re probably wondering why I am a little late in sending you an update. I’m feeling very relaxed following my weekend at the park and thought I would take a day to just seep in all my newfound knowledge about Puhjyna.

I’ve decided that Puhjyna is not an alien investigator but an alien COMMUNICATOR. She receives messages from alien life sort of like Deanna Troi but she supports herself by working at a diner near the airport that I’m loosely basing off our town diner, The Landing Pad. Do you know any alien-communicating telepaths? Can you check at your discord server for me please? I need to do more research!!!

That UFO Communications and Far Far Right Gun Group was a nothing burger.

At dusk, I went to the far far right of the park and must’ve driven past all the pavilions there at least five times. They told me to look for a bunch of people in camo tactical gear with AR15s and a confederate flag with the state of New Hampshire on the front but they were NOWHERE to be found.

Finally I parked my car by the duck pond and decided to poke around in the trees behind the pavilions to see if they might be back there.

There weren’t any UFO investigators back there, Gladys, but there were these little brown capped mushrooms everywhere. Tiny little things with these cute little brown umbrella tops and spindly little stems. Adorable really. I took one look at them and I knew they were safe to eat.

Anyway, no sooner had I clambered through the trees looking for New Hampshire confederate flags, I began to hear all this strange hooting and screeching so of course I had to go see what that was.

And I would have caught up to it but one of my heels was ensnared in this strange white goo beneath a bunch of tree roots. I had to take a few minutes to sit down and scrape all the gunk off with some twigs and, while I was doing this, I felt this strong vibration. It was as though I was in front of massive speakers at a stadium concert and I could feel the sound but couldn’t hear it. My ribs were buzzing under my jacket. My jawbones rattled and my teeth tickled in their sockets. What do you think that was, Gladys?

I didn’t have any time to figure it out because then I went half-blind. Flashing, roving lights swung like beacons through the tops of the trees. They were ridiculous. I had no idea where they were coming from, my best guess was that it was a bunch of sky-divers with flares. Again and again these lights swung back and forth over the forest, blanching all the pines with white, blazing light. Cleaning my shoe became as easy as it would be to thread a needle in a strobe light.

That’s when whomever else was in the woods starting setting off semi-automatic fire works. Stupid New Hampshire with the stupid fireworks. Either that, or there was a gun range very very very nearby.

Come to think of it the whole wood started to stink of gunpowder.

I’m going to have to file a complaint with the park rangers. By the time the soundless humming and the lights and the shooting stopped, all the weird hooting stopped, too. It was suddenly quiet and still. My jawbone stopped quivering. My ribs stopped vibrating. Everything in the woods had stopped vibrating and all there was was this hushed dark, like all the breath had gone from the wood and I was just sitting there on a stump in the dark having forgotten which way I came from with nothing but mushrooms, white gluey stuff, and tree roots as far as the eye could see.

Needless to say, I didn’t learn a thing about aliens.

I was also terribly lost. It was much darker than it had been when I’d gone into the woods and after all the blinding light, I was now in foggy dark. I sat there, shivering and uncannily cold trying to hear any sounds of a highway or picnickers or anything that could suggest which way my car was. I knew I needed to get out of there.

That’s when I heard footsteps. Not of a bear or a deer. But something on two legs. Several somethings. They were all stepping at the same time, picking over the ground with one leg. And then with the other. Not a single step out of place. My heart was a golf ball lodged in my esophagus. The deliberate crunch of their feet closed around me and I was finally able to make out these vague shapes in the gray between the trees. They were people. People with long flowing hair. They came closer and closer and I tried to say something but I felt my tongue was held by invisible fingers. As soon as words came in my mind, it felt like someone was scooping them up and tearing them away from me.

One person stepped ahead of the others. She came where I could see her; blue hair flowing down all the way past her knees. White bandage tape covered her mouth. She held out her hand and waggled her fingers slowly for me to follow her. I looked around me at the others, they, too, had that white bandage tape over their mouths, some with stains. I could feel their round eyes looking at me from the trees more than I could see them. But I could see the eyes of the person with the blue hair and, to my mind now, I think she must have been wearing novelty contacts. Her eyes were orange and glimmery as tigers-eye with no pupils to speak of. I wanted to ask her if she knew the way back to the pavilions. I knew that wherever she wanted to lead me, I should not follow, that if I went with her, I would join the ones with the bandaged mouths. But my voice was caught in my throat, my tongue swollen and sticky, and I found I could not run. All I could hope was that she would lead me clear of the trees enough so that I could make a break for the road.

I must have walked with the bandaged souls for a half hour, Gladys. The scent of pine sap in the last of summer heat filled my nose. I clambered over root and rock, trying to stay close to my guide because the branches and bugs seemed to recoil from her presence while I was clawed and bitten. Where I had been cold, I now was hot and breathless. After a small eternity, I found myself with great relief in the midst of a rolling grassy slope with the shrinking moon overhead but as lost as I had been in the forest. What more, Gladys, there were others here. I couldn’t make them out at first in the shadows, but soon I began to perceive the shapes of about twenty more people. But these ones had antlers like deer, and when we got closer I saw that they were dressed like deer, with pelts flapping over their human hands and feet, standing on two legs, stained bandages over their mouths.

Before I could cry out, the deer people and the long-haired people flung their arms into the air and capered in a circle around me. They waved their arms and began a strange dance, one foot crossing over the others, making no sound—not even to breathe, but for their feet rustling in the grass. They danced as though they each could hear some invisible music and I felt myself suspended like a buoy in a black sea of dawning horror. All I could do was plead my legs to bolt for the pavilions, but I looked and I looked with no sight of the pavilions or the duck pond in any direction.

Without warning, all of the dancers stopped, arms hanging in the air. The people dressed like deer removed the pelts covering the bottom halves of their deer costumes so that all their nethers were sitting out for the world to see, an endless shadow mass of shadowy hair. Then, the long-haired flowing ones did the same, stripping skirts and trousers from their bodies and flinging them aside and I stood there in a circle of round, staring eyes and private parts and thought, “Well, this could be fun.”

Needless to say, Gladys, when the park ranger found me in the morning I was much more relaxed although I still haven’t managed to find my shoes.

I had to drive barefoot all the way home and that’s when I saw the mail truck and Neil Gaiman was sitting in the passenger seat. He waved. Real slow like. Do you think he is stalking me for my Modern City Fantasy story???

I’ve decided Puhjyna isn’t from the Nyther regions. That name sounds too much like the Dresden Files. I don’t want to be compared to Jim Butcher.

Will send new pages next week, now that I know I don’t need to worry about Puhjyna until book five!!!

If you see Neil Gaiman say nothing to him!!!!!

xox

X

Pixel Scroll 9/6/21 I Fought The Laws Of Newton, Thermodynamics, Robotics And Grammar, And All But One Of Them Laws Won

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Ellen Klages and Mari Ness via livestream on Wednesday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Link to come.

Ellen Klages

Ellen Klages is the author of three acclaimed MG novels: The Green Glass Sea, White Sands, Red Menace, and Out of Left Field, which won the New-York Historical Society’s Children’s History Book Prize.  Her adult short fiction — fantasy and some SF — has been translated into a dozen languages and been nominated for or won multiple genre awards. Ellen lives in San Francisco, in a small house full of strange and wondrous things.

Mari Ness

Mari Ness has published short fiction and poetry in Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Uncanny, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Fireside, Apex, Diabolical PlotsStrange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction. Her poetry novella, Through Immortal Shadows Singing, is available from Papaveria Press, and an essay collection, Resistance and Transformation: On Fairy Tales, from Aqueduct Press.  She lives in central Florida under the direct supervision of two magnificent cats.

(2) COUNTING THE DOLLAR SIGNS FOR 2020 COMICS. Comichron has published its “Industry-wide Comics and Graphic Novel Sales for 2020”. Lots of stats and graphs at the link.

Combined comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in the pandemic year of 2020, according to a new joint estimate by ICv2‘s Milton Griepp and Comichron‘s John Jackson Miller. Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.28 billion in 2020, a 6% increase over sales in 2019. The increase was due to strong sales of graphic novels online and in mass merchants and strong digital sales, which overcame big declines in comic and book store sales.

“The challenges of retailing in the pandemic had profound impacts on the market, including the acceleration of trends that have been in place for years,” Griepp said of the 2020 estimates. “The book channel increased its share dramatically vs. comic stores, and graphic novels increased their share vs. periodical comics, while digital sales were turbocharged.”

Numlock News also did a Q&A with the person who oversees the report: “John Jackson Miller on the huge growth of the comic book industry – by Walter Hickey”.

Comichron and your partners at ICV2 released your 2020 comic book sales report. It was a really surprising and very complex year in comics, very tumultuous to say the least, but the number was up year-over-year.

That’s right. Part of the key is it depends on where do you work in the business, what the business looked like, because not every part of the business was under the same constraints. The graphic novel part of the market, and, in particular, the young adult part of the market typified by books like Dog Man, these are all part of the book channel which never really shut down, those books continue to circulate and the best selling kids graphic novels had the additional advantage that the Walmarts of the world that are kind of like the music industry where they only stocks the hits.

Places like that, which had been declared essential services, which never shut down and had small selections of graphic novels, they continue to sell all through the pandemic and there’s a dynamic that happens where the best sellers became really best sellers. You have that part of the market, which was continuously running. Digital is a sector that has kind of, I don’t want to say stagnated, but it had reached its level a few years ago and had not really gone anywhere. But during the pandemic, there’s a stretch there where the physical comics aren’t coming out, people can’t get to the comic shops, and also you have some of the major publishers basically going direct to video.

They basically took their poor selling titles and didn’t even go to press at all with them, but they went directly to digital on those. That’s supplemented that part of the market and so we have a significant increase in digital downloads, the comics you can pay for and actually get to keep, as opposed to the subscription model comics that are digital. Then the direct market, which, for the first quarter of 2020 was doing fine, it was ahead for the year and then we have in succession, a few things that happened. We had DC’s printer Transcontinental had to close temporarily. Diamond, the exclusive distributor for at the time all of the major publishers, it judged that it needed to pause as well, because there were going to be comics piling up at stores that weren’t open….

(3) EVERYTHING’S UP TO DATE IN KANSAS CITY. Fanac.org has added video of the “MidAmeriCon (1976) Worldcon – Hugo and other Awards, with Bob Tucker & Pat Cadigan”.

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. In this recording, Toastmaster Bob Tucker orchestrates a relatively compact ceremony, nevertheless with time and space for a little fannish humor, with the assistance of Pat Cadigan. The evening includes the awarding of the E. Everett Evans Big Heart Award, and a heartfelt presentation by Lester Del Rey of the First Fandom award given to Harry Bates. Ben Bova and Joe Haldeman are among the Hugo recipients accepting awards. The recording is a little damaged in places, but very watchable. Video and video restoration provided by David Dyer-Bennet and the Video Archeology Project.

(4) RU12? BBC Culture expounds on “The 100-year-old fiction that predicted today”.

One day in 1920, the Czech writer Karel Capek sought the advice of his older brother Josef, a painter. Karel was writing a play about artificial workers but he was struggling for a name. “I’d call them laborators, but it seems to me somewhat stilted,” he told Josef, who was hard at work on a canvas. “Call them robots then,” replied Josef, a paintbrush in his mouth. At the same time in Petrograd (formerly St Petersburg), a Russian writer named Yevgeny Zamyatin was writing a novel whose hi-tech future dictatorship would eventually prove as influential as ?apek’s robots.

Both works are celebrating a joint centenary, albeit a slippery one. Capek (pronounced Chap-ek) published his play, RUR, in 1920 but it wasn’t performed for the first time until January 2021. And although Zamyatin submitted the manuscript of his novel, We, in 1921, it was mostly written earlier and published later. Nonetheless, 1921 has become their shared birth date and thus the year that gave us both the robot and the mechanised dystopia – two concepts of which, it seems, we will never tire. As Capek wrote in 1920, “Some of the future can always be read in the palms of the present”….

(5) FRANK HERBERT Q&A. From Seventies video archives: “DUNE Author Frank Herbert on Environmentalism”.

Frank Herbert, author of the ‘Dune’ series, discusses environmentalism in this 1977 interview with WTTW’s John Callaway.

(6) JUDITH HANNA. Fanzine fan Judith Hanna died September 6 of cancer. She is survived by her husband, Joseph Nicholas. The Australian-born Hanna was a member of the Sydney University Tolkien Society. She emigrated to the UK in the early Eighties. She was a member of the Australia in ’83 bid committee. Hanna wrote for many fanzines, and with Nicholas published Fuck The Tories, which won the Nova Award in 1990.She was a reviewer for Vector and Paperback Inferno, among others. Her fanwriting was selected for Fanthology ’88, Fanthology ’89, and Fanthology ’93.  

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1953 – Sixty-eight years ago on this date, the first Science Fiction Achievement Awards, which would be nicknamed the Hugo Awards, are presented during the 11th World Science Fiction Convention. This Worldcon was informally known as Philcon II. Isaac Asimov was the Toastmaster that year. Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man won for Best Novel, The award for Best Professional Magazine went to Astounding Science Fiction as edited by John W. Campbell, Jr., Hanes Bok was voted Best Cover Artist, Virgil Finlay won for Best Interior Illustrator, Willy Ley won it for Excellence in Fact Articles, the Best New SF Author was Philip José Farmer and #1 Fan Personality was Forrest J Ackerman. 

(8) TODAY’S DAY.

  • September 6 – Read A Book Day

Sumiko Saulson says this is how “HWA Celebrates Read a Book Day”:

September 6 is National Read a Book Day, one day a year that is set aside to encourage all of us to curl up with a good book. The Horror Writers Association would like to take this time out to honor and celebrate the international horror writing community, and the book lovers all over the world who love to read the scary books we write.

Many of us have bookshelves filled with tomes of terrifying tale and bone chilling anthologies of monstrosities of every kind. But when it comes to books, we’re sure you will agree that there is really no such thing as too much of a good thing.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 6, 1904 — Groff Conklin. He edited some forty anthologies of genre fiction starting with The Best of Science Fiction fromCrown Publishers in 1946 to Seven Trips Through Time and Space on Fawcett Gold in 1968. The contents are a mix of the obscure and well-known as Heinlein, Niven, Simak, Dahl, Sturgeon, Lovecraft and Bradbury show up here. He was nominated at NyCon II  for Best Book Reviewer which Damon Knight won (there’s a category that got dropped later), and was nominated at Millennium Philcon for a Retro Hugo that went to John W. Campbell Jr. Exactly one of his anthologies, Great Stories of Space Travel, is available at the usual suspects. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 6, 1943 — Roger Waters, 78. Ok, I might well be stretching it just a bit in saying that Pink Floyd is genre. Ok, The Wall isdefinitely genre I’d say. And quite possibly also The Division Bell with its themes of communication as well. Or maybe I just wanted to say Happy Birthday Roger! 
  • Born September 6, 1953 — Elizabeth Massie, 68. Ellen Datlow, who’s now doing the most excellent Year’s Best Horror anthology series, was the horror and dark fantasy editor for the multiple Hugo Award winning Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror where she selected Massie’s “Stephen” for the fourth edition. A horror writer by trade, Massie’s also dipped deeper into the genre by writing a female Phantom graphic novel, Julie Walker Is The Phantom in Race Against Death! and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Power of Persuasion novel. Massie is also a two-time Bram Stoker Award winner.
  • Born September 6, 1953 — Patti Yasutake, 68. She’s best remembered  for her portrayal of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa in the Trek universe where she had a recurring role on Next Generation and showed up as well in Star Trek Generations and Star Trek First Contact. In doing these Birthdays, I consulted a number of sites. Several of them declared that her character ended her time as a Doctor. Not true but it made for a nice if fictional coda on her story. She was cast as a doctor in episodes of several other non-genre series.
  • Born September 6, 1972 — China Miéville, 49. My favorite novels by him? The City & The City which won a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 is the one I’ve re-read the most followed closely by Kraken. Scariest by him? Oh, that’d King Rat by a long shot. And I’ll admit the dialect he used in Un Lun Dun frustrated me enough that I gave up on it. I’ll hold strongly that the New Crobuzon series doesn’t date as well as some of his other fiction does. Now his writing on the Dial H sort of horror series for DC was fantastic in all ways that word means.
  • Born September 6, 1972 — Idris Elba, 49. He was Heimdall in the Thor franchise, as well as the Avengers franchise. First genre role was as Captain Janek in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and later he was in Pacific Rim as Stacker Pentecost. He’s the Big Bad as Krall in Star Trek: Beyond. His latest genre role was as Robert DuBois / Bloodsport in last Suicide Squad film.
  • Born September 6, 1976 — Robin Atkin Downes, 45. Though he’s made his living being a voice actor in myriad video games and animated series, one of his first acting roles was as the rogue telepath Byron on Babylon 5. He later shows up as the Demon of Illusion in the “Chick Flick” episode of Charmed and he’s got an uncredited though apparently known role as Pockla in the “Dead End” episiode of Angel. He does the voice of Edward in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and he‘s Angelo on the 2016 Suicide Squad. (There’s a small place in a database Hell for film makers who make films with the same name.) 
  • Born September 6, 1976 — Naomie Harris, 45. She’s Eve Moneypenny in SkyfallSpectre and the still forthcoming No Time to Die. This was the first time Moneypenny had a first name. She also appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Tia Dalma. And lastly I’ll note she played Elizabeth Lavenza in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the National Theatre. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) GET YOUR KICKS IN YEAR ’66. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus tells us how things went at this year’s (1966) Worldcon in Cleveland: “[September 6, 1966] The Greatest (SF) show on Earth! (1966 Worldcon and Hugo Awards)”.

There are many science fiction conventions in the United States, from New York’s Lunacon to Westercon, held in San Diego this year!  But the granddaddy of them all is the annual Worldcon, which travels from city to city as various fan groups are able to submit a winning bid to the con’s members.

This year, Cleveland won the honor, and so the convention representing the three cities of Cleveland, Cincinatti, and Detroit was appropriately called “Tricon.”  More than 800 fen (plural of fan, natch) descended upon the Sheraton-Cleveland (the historic “Renaissance”) hotel for a long weekend of fun and fannery.  Even the best rooms at this ancient hotel were tiny, and several complained of dusty closets.  Luckily, we spent little time in our rooms!…

(12) IN A HOLE IN ITALY THERE LIVED A HOBBIT. Dream comes true: “‘What is this if not magic?’ The Italian man living as a hobbit” reports The Guardian.

Nicolas Gentile, a 37-year-old Italian pastry chef, did not just want to pretend to be a hobbit – he wanted to live like one. First, he bought a piece of land in the countryside of Bucchianico, near the town of Chieti in Abruzzo, where he and his wife started building their personal Shire from JRR Tolkien’s fictional Middle-earth.

Then, on 27 August, alongside a group of friends and Lord of the Rings fans dressed as an elf, a dwarf, a hobbit, a sorcerer and humans, he walked more than 120 miles (200km) from Chieti to Naples, crossing mountains and rivers, to throw the “One Ring”, a central plot element of The Lord of the Rings saga, into the volcano crater of Mount Vesuvius….

… In Bucchianico, the festival of the Banderesi is organised every year. It is one of the oldest festivals in Europe – celebrated for almost 500 years and in which people wear medieval clothes, sing songs, dance and prepare typical local dishes.

“Those are hobbit clothes,” says Gentile. ‘‘I realised that I have always lived in the Shire. The only thing missing was to become aware of it and build a village….”

(13) URBAN VISION. CNN covers somebody else’s idea of living the dream: “Plans for $400-billion new city in the American desert unveiled”.

The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it.

Now, he just needs somewhere to build it — and $400 billion in funding.

The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert. The ambitious 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a purportedly drought-resistant water system. A so-called “15-minute city design” will allow residents to access their workplaces, schools and amenities within a quarter-hour commute of their homes.

Although planners are still scouting for locations, possible targets include Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas and the Appalachian region, according to the project’s official website….

(14) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. Captain Toy has posted Michael Crawford’s “Review and photos of Captain Picard First Contact Star Trek sixth scale action figure”.

…We don’t get a ton of extras this time, but we get a couple key features.

He comes wearing a set of relaxed hands, and there’s a set of fists and two sets of specific gripping hands you can swap in. These are designed to work with the other accessories, and their sculpts are just about perfect for the purpose.

He also has the phaser and tricorder, specific in design to the film. I mentioned the fantastic details earlier, but it’s worth talking about again. If you have good enough eyes, you’ll be able to read the screen on the tricorder.

The tricorder has the same two piece design as the earlier releases, with a strong magnet that holds the top and bottom together. This is a fantastic design, allowing the tricorder to be open or closed without any hinge that would be obvious or easy to break.

They also use magnets to hold the tricorder and phaser holsters to the uniform. This is a design carried over from QMX, but they do it better, with stronger magnets that are pretty much invisible to the eye….

(15) STUNNING. NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day – description below. And here’s a key to everything that appears in the photo.

Firefly Milky Way over Russia
Image Credit & Copyright: Anton Komlev

Explanation: It started with a pine tree. The idea was to photograph a statuesque pine in front of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. And the plan, carried out two months ago, was successful — they both appear prominently. But the resulting 3-frame panorama captured much more. Colorful stars, for example, dot the distant background, with bright Altair visible on the upper left. The planet Saturn, a bit closer, was captured just over the horizon on the far left. Just beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, seen in the upper right, an Earth-orbiting satellite was caught leaving a streak during the 25-second exposure. The Earth’s atmosphere itself was surprisingly visible — as green airglow across the image top. Finally, just by chance, there was a firefly. Do you see it? Near the image bottom, the firefly blinked in yellow several times as it fluttered before the rolling hills above Milogradovka River in Primorsky KraiRussia.

(16) SEND IN YOUR MEDIA TO RODDENBERRY TRIBUTE. “’Star Trek’ Creator Gene Roddenberry To Be Honored With ‘Boldly Go’ Campaign”Deadline has the story.

The family foundation for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is launching a month-long campaign on Wednesday to inspire hope for the next 100 years.

In partnership with Paramount+ satellite company Planet and Academy Award-winning technology company OTOY, the campaign (“Boldly Go”) is part of the celebration of the legacy of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in what would have been his centennial year.

The campaign will launch at Paramount+’s red carpet event on September 8, featuring Star Trek actors LeVar Burton, George Takei, Patrick Stewart, and others. Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry, founder of the Roddenberry Foundation and president of Roddenberry Entertainment, will appear on a panel about Star Trek’s legacy. The celebration will be live streamed for free at StarTrek.com/Day starting at 8:30 PM ET.

The “Boldly Go” campaign will call on Star Trek fans and citizens around the world to submit photos and videos describing their hopes for the next 100 years….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Youtuber LadyKnightTheBrave’sThrough The Gate: A Stargate SG-1 Retrospective.

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, N., Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

This Is Horror Awards 2020

This Is Horror, the UK website, has announced the winners of the This Is Horror Awards 2020.

NOVEL OF THE YEAR

Winner: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Runner-up: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

NOVELLA OF THE YEAR

Winner: Crossroads by Laurel Hightower
Runner-up: Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

SHORT STORY COLLECTION OF THE YEAR

Winner: Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies by John Langan
Runner-up: Velocities by Kathe Koja

ANTHOLOGY OF THE YEAR

Winner: Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors, edited by Doug Murano and Michael Bailey
Runner-up: Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror, edited by Samantha Kolesnik

FICTION MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR

Winner: Nightmare Magazine
Runner-up: The Dark

PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Undertow Publications
Runner-up: Death’s Head Press

FICTION PODCAST OF THE YEAR

Winner: The Other Stories (Hawk & Cleaver)
Runner-up: NIGHTLIGHT: A Horror Fiction Podcast

NONFICTION PODCAST OF THE YEAR

Winner: Ink Heist
Runner-up: Post Mortem with Mick Garris

COVER ART OF THE YEAR

Winner: Todd Keisling for Arterial Bloom, edited by Mercedes M. Yardley
Runner-up: Mike Davis for grotesquerie by Richard Gavin

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixth

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

NO EMAIL FROM WRITER X THIS WEEK!

Hello All, Melanie here. I’m sorry to disappoint. I haven’t received an email from Writer X this week. This was a real let down for me; I’ve kind of gotten used to reading her emails. For a moment I wondered if she’s finally learned that her emails weren’t getting to Gladys, but given the content of her last few messages, I’m starting to worry more for her safety—although I’m not sure how she’s actually in danger. Besides that UFO Communications and Far Far Right Gun Group.

I like to assume they have good reasons for requiring her dental records and “various possible forms of identification.”

Probably she’s alright and has just corrected the email error. I’ve tried looking her up some other way, but short of this account on Pinterest, I can’t seem to find her. I’ve also tried looking up articles online to see if there’s any reported incident of chicken feathers covering a neighborhood and that was a wider and deeper rabbit hole than I’d imagined.

It’s not that I found a lot about chickens leaving their feathers all over a neighborhood. For that, I only found this link: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/missing-chicken-lots-of-feathers-but-no-blood.815571/

Rather, I discovered that there are about a hundred thousand small newspapers for towns in the U.S. which is maybe a sign that there’s some hope for our democracy. Most of them have a paywall, which means this is a dead end.

Kinda makes me hope she gets that book written so that maybe it gets published and I can find her again. I couldn’t help it, I opened her file and I have to say the chapter she shared really wasn’t that bad. Almost Dresden Files but with a lot of pink and a passage of confounding length about moonlight on the city of ChaalChaal.

I’m really hoping we hear something from her. If I get anything from her, I’ll be sure to pass it on right away but, barring reaching out to her directly, we might just have to face the fact that she’s fixed the error and is disappearing out of our lives.

For a little while, it was nice to read of someone else having a worst time with writing than I am.

Cross your fingers and toes and hug the nearest writer to you, even if it’s yourself.

…Do you think I should email her?