(1) WISCON CALLS FOR HELP. Kit Stubbs, Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization, and WisCon 2022 co-chair, has written a long post – “Let’s Save WisCon!” – explaining that to survive the con needs an infusion of volunteers, and to raise a substantial amount of money (primarily because of commitments in its hotel contract).
…WisCon’s roots are grounded in white feminism, and WisCon continues to struggle with racism and with finding ways to center attendees of color who have been harmed. The Town Hall marks a key point in our antiracist work to bring WisCon, particularly as experienced by our attendees and volunteers of color, into better alignment with our values—even if this means that white attendees will have to sit with discomfort.
Working towards a more antiracist con is just one of the major challenges that we face. Unless we, the WisCon community, also take significant action this year in terms of finances and our volunteer pool, within the next few years we will no longer be able to run WisCon.
Why? What’s going on?
Right now, in addition to pushing harder on antiracism, WisCon is facing big challenges on two other fronts: money and labor.
- We don’t have enough funds to pay for what happens if we don’t fill our contracted block of hotel rooms, and we can’t afford to cancel the hotel contract. We need about $76k in additional income to our general fund by the end of WisCon 2022 to put the con back on solid financial footing. Thanks to a generous donor, the first $5k we raise will be matched. Donate now to double the power of your donation!
- We are in a volunteer shortage crisis. It takes a LOT of people to make WisCon happen, and we lack dozens of volunteers in key positions.
- The Board of SF3 (WisCon’s parent nonprofit) and WisCon organizers are already starting to work on these challenges. There are many things, both large and small, that you can do to help!…
(2) OMICRON VS. DISCON. The Worldcon is two weeks away, so it’s of great concern to people planning to travel to the con that Biden administration officials are considering stricter testing requirements for all travelers to the U.S. amid omicron variant concerns: “Stricter coronavirus testing being weighed for all travelers to U.S.” reports the Washington Post.
The Biden administration is preparing stricter testing requirements for all travelers entering the United States, including returning Americans, to curb the spread of the potentially dangerous omicron variant, according to three federal health officials.
As part of an enhanced winter covid strategy Biden is expected to announce Thursday, U.S. officials will require everyone entering the country to be tested one day before boarding flights, regardless of their vaccination status or country of departure. Administration officials are also considering a requirement that all travelers get retested within three to five days of arrival.
In addition, they are debating a controversial proposal to require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to self-quarantine for seven days, even if their test results are negative. Those who flout the requirements might be subject to fines and penalties, the first time such penalties would be linked to testing and quarantine measures for travelers in the United States.
The two testing measures are detailed in a draft public health order written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is under review by officials at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the White House. The self quarantine-related measures are not in that draft but could be added later if the proposals win broader sign-off, said the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the order has not been finalized….
(3) DISCON III ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP PURCHASE DEADLINE. Meanwhile, DisCon III advises that people can pre-register for an Attending membership in the 2021 Worldcon up until December 8. After that, Attending memberships must be purchased in person at the Omni Shoreham.
Virtual and Supporting memberships will still be available to buy online after December 8th, right up to and during the convention.
The convention is hybrid with ten tracks of programming available for Virtual members, including concerts and the Hugo Awards ceremony. In-person Day Passes will be available on-site at the Registration Desk for those who cannot attend all five days. Complete membership information can be found here.
(4) 2023 SITE SELECTION DEADLINES. Be aware of the deadline that applies to whichever method you plan to use to vote in 2023 Worldcon Site Selection.
- Paper ballots sent via mail must be received by December 7.
- Emailed ballots (in one of the accepted formats, such as PDF) must be received by noon EDT December 14.
- Voting continues in person at DisCon III until 6 PM EST on Friday, December 17, 2021.
(5) DISCON III GETS GOOGLE GRANT FOR PANEL CAPTIONING. DisCon III chair Mary Robinette Kowal underscored yesterday’s announcement about the availability of ASL and CART captions for the convention’s panel programs and events:
(6) SFF IN INDIA. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, books columnist Nilanjana Roy, a mainstream novelist who has tried to write fantasy, discusses the rise of sf and fantasy in India.
I recently asked Samit Basu, an old friend and the author of 10 books, including the wildly popular Gameworld trilogy, about the boom in Indian SFF, especially dystopian fiction. Indian SFF writers have one thing in common with their better-known Chinese peers, Basu explained. ‘You can’t really talk about present-day society in an analytical or critical manner without some risk,’ he said, ‘but you can use technological and social metaphors to talk about the present in genre fiction.”…
…In this climate, SFF offers writers such as Praywag Akbar, whose 2017 novel Leila —which is set in the 2040s and features cities where communities are segregated by high walls–a little more leeway. The legal scholar created an equally compelling dystopia in his 2020 novel, The Wall: his protagonist Mithila steps into a world of failed revolutions where, briefly, ‘none could tell the difference between rebel and citizen.’ The story continues in a second volume called The Horizon, which was published this month.
(7) CRYPTO CRIME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an article by Cristina Criddle behind a paywall in the Financial Times.
Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets by artists including Sir Anish Kapoor and David Bailey have been photographed and turned into non-fungible tokens and sold for millions of pounds without their consent.
Curator Ben Moore took photographs of some of the helmets from a project called Art Wars, created by more than 300 artists since 2013, and sold for them for cryptocurrency as NFTs on the trading platform OpenSea yesterday.
More than 1,000 ethereum (L 5m) had been transferred since the collection of 1,138 images was put on sale yesterday. One NFT attributed to Kapoor sold for 1,000 ethereum. Another work attributed to Bailey sold for 120 ethereum.
(8) SCHEDULE YOUR SMOFFING. SMOFcon Europe takes place December 3-5 in Lisboa, Portugal, and the convention’s Programme is now online.
(9) MARRIAGE IS WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER. “Shatner beams down to Brunswick Trekkies’ wedding” at CentralMaine.com.
Region 10 School Board member Jim Grant and Amy Wells Grant were married in Ticonderoga, New York about two weeks ago, on a replica of the set “Star Trek.” Among those in attendance — the original Capt. Kirk.
…Positioned behind an altar that served as a prop on the original Star Trek set, Shatner delivered some opening remarks, and then recited his original lines from a 55-year-old wedding ceremony scene featured in the episode “Star Trek: The Balance of Terror.”
“Since the days of the first wooden vessels, all shipmasters have had one happy privilege, and that is uniting two people in the bonds of matrimony,” said Shatner, reading from the script. “And so, we are gathered here today with you, James, and you, Amy, in a sight of your fellows, in accordance with our laws and our many beliefs so that you may pledge your love to one another. Please kiss the bride.”…
(10) BIGGEST B.O. In case you’re curious, Yahoo! has a list of “The 10 highest-grossing movies of all time at the worldwide box office” (not adjusted for inflation.)
We turned to Box Office Mojo for its data on worldwide box office grosses to determine the top 10 highest-grossing movies in the world. Aside from Disney movies, the list also includes entries in Universal franchises like “Fast and Furious” and “Jurassic World.”…
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2004 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Seventeen years ago at Noreascon 4, Neal Gaiman wins the Short Story Hugo for “A Study in Emerald” which neatly merged the Holmesian and Cthulhu Mythos. It was first published in the Shadows Over Baker Street anthology as edited by John Pelan and Michael Reaves. Other nominated works were “Paying It Forward” by Michael A. Burstein, “Robots Don’t Cry” by Mike Resnick, “Four Short Novels” by Joe Haldeman and “The Tale of the Golden Eagle” by David D. Levine. You can read it at Gaiman’s site in its original wonderfulness here.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 30, 1835 — Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work, The Mysterious Stranger, in which Satan might be visiting us, went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. Anyone here who’s read it? (Died 1910.)
- Born November 30, 1906 — John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as is his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. (Died 1977.)
- Born November 30, 1945 — Billy Drago. Best remembered, I think, as the evil John Bly in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. series. He was certainly booked in a lot of genre roles as he has appearances in Cyborg 2, Sci-Fighters, Supernatural and X-Files. He also played the demon Barbas in the original and definitely best Charmed series. He also was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, a film I’m sure no one was begging for. He was in the Masters of Horror “Imprint” episode, which Showtime pulled due to “disturbing content” which you can read about here. (Died 2019.)
- Born November 30, 1950 — Chris Claremont, 71. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty-year run on Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator owned series with DC publishing it. And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist. Anyone ever encountered these?
- Born November 30, 1955 — Kevin Conroy, 66. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series which is my Batman. Justice League Action saw him reprise that role with the other characters often noting his stoic personality. I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. Bruce Timm likes his work in the Batman 75th Anniversary Short Batman: Strange Days (here) which is interesting as he only says one word though he grunts nicely. (CE)
- Born November 30, 1955 — Andy Robertson. A fan and editor who worked as an assistant editor on Interzone and contributed myriad reviews and interviews. He published some fiction and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, featuring tales set in Hodgson’s world, and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands Volume 2: Nightmares of the Fall. Alas, they never made into digital editions. (Died 2014.)
- Born November 30, 1957 — Martin Morse Wooster, 64. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door. He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16. A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews. He has been turning them out ever since. In 1975, he was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. He has contributed to File 770 since 1978 – the first year it was published.
(13) NEW COMICS SUBSCRIPTION PLATFORM. “A New Publishing Platform for Comic Books Will Give Creators a Greater Stake” – the New York Times tells how.
Many comic book characters anchor global franchises, but their creators — or the writers and artists who helped make them popular — have not always shared in that success. Zestworld, a new subscription-based platform that is set to be introduced in early 2022, is hoping to change that.
Zestworld will allow comic book writers and artists to present new work and reap the benefits — and help monetize their creations if they are made into collectibles or adapted for TV, movies or other media. The creators will be stockholders in the company.
“In setting out to build this, we started with the problem statement that this industry is broken for creators; and it’s broken in publishing and TV and film; it’s also broken in events and collectibles,” Chris Giliberti, the founder and chief executive officer of Zestworld, said during a recent telephone interview. “We wanted to build something that’s useful across all areas of their business — anywhere they generate income.”
One investor in Zestworld is the venture capitalist firm Seven Seven Six, which was founded by Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit….
(14) WITH EVERY WORD, SHE DROPS KNOWLEDGE. Cat Rambo’s new book You Sexy Thing is out this month! She spent a few minutes with Rapid Transmission’s Joseph Hurtgen and talked about her writing process, working with an editor, and her love for gaming: “Cat Rambo: You Sexy Thing”.
How has your work as an editor, including your time at Fantasy Magazine, informed your writing?
Certainly editing has made me a better writer, more attentive to the nuances of comma placement and sentence structure. But it’s also made the way I work with editors different, I think, or at least helped me advance more quickly to the point where I understand what a difference a good editor can make, and how awesome an ally they can be in producing something that you’re really proud of. For example, I had a story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction earlier this year, “Crazy Beautiful,” that I absolutely love, and it was C.C. Finlay’s excellent edits that took it to the next level, in my opinion, including a major change that involved removing the vast majority of the quotes from art critics that I’d included and leaving only the Bob Ross quote that starts it off. Similarly, with You Sexy Thing, my editor, Chris Morgan caught all sorts of little snags and played a major part in making it the smooth read that it is (I think!)…
(15) TOPOLOGIC BOOKSTORES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Hard to believe some of these aren’t (just) CGI. Either way, some are good candidates for my Zoom background library: “The world’s wackiest bookstore? Inside the amazing new Shenzhen Zhongshuge shop in China” – photos at Daily Mail Online.
Designer Li Xiang’s own website tells what it all symbolizes: “Shenzhen Zhongshuge”. (There’s also a large gallery of photos.)
…When I received the design assignment for Zhongshuge in Shenzhen last year, I had led the designs for several completed Zhongshuge across China. In the process of researching the cultural background of this city, I realized that I could design a space which could become a symbol of Shenzhen itself as an inclusive and vibrant city of migrants, paying tribute to all those who have struggled to make history in this city.
Thus, this retail space, which seems to have grown out of a giant art installation, was born. Straddling the earth and sky, it is examined as an otherworldly presence that creates a subtle experience of unease mixed with familiarity, making the space a proposition posing silent questions to the viewers….
(16) ARE THE SCARES THERE? The New York Times ponders the cultural question “When Is a Horror Movie Not a Horror Movie?”
A few days before Halloween, the @NetflixFilm Twitter account put out a call: “What movie isn’t technically a horror movie but feels like a horror movie to you?” Included was a photo of a freaky-eyed Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”
Twitter being Twitter, some of the responses were flip, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Cats.” But there were also heavy hitters like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Parasite.” Children’s films, including “Pinocchio” and “Bambi,” made the cut. It just goes to show, horror is what scares you, not me.
Horror has always been an elastic and regenerative genre. It lifts from and melds with just about every type of cinema: comedy, sci-fi, action, romance, fantasy, documentary. Its flexibility extends as far back as the monstrous love story in “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and as current as the blood-drenched melodrama of “Malignant.”
But how do you know if you’re watching a horror movie when there’s no killer or monster, exorcism or blood? It’s a decades-old question that’s being asked about new films that blur the line between a movie with horror and a horror movie….
(17) WHAT’S THAT I SMELL? Aubtu introduces us to “Luxurious Perfumes Inspired By Disney Villains That Are Extremely Breathtaking”. (However, these appear to be designs, not products available for sale.)
…Today, we are honored to introduce to you some amazing artworks of Ruby Spark – a talented young artist who specializes in drawing and illustrating. Obsessed with the beautiful costumes of Disney villains, Ruby came up with a brilliant idea of designing perfume bottles based on these iconic outfits, and they are all not surprisingly extremely gorgeous and fascinating!
#3 Yzma from “The Emperor’s New Groove”
(18) I NEVER DRINK…WINE. Could there be something you don’t know in this list of “20 Surprising Facts About ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’” from Mental Floss?
8. COPPOLA HIRED EIKO ISHIOKA UNDER THE EDICT THAT “THE COSTUMES ARE THE SETS.”
According to Coppola, the original amount budgeted for sets in Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a massive chunk of the film’s total cost—so much so that he worried he’d go over budget if he actually stuck to the elaborate set designs his original production designer planned. So, he hired different production designers, scaled down the sets, and brought in legendary art director Eiko Ishioka to transform his vision of Dracula into something different.
With Ishioka, who later admitted she’d never seen a Dracula film before working on Coppola’s project, the director crafted a philosophy that “the costumes are the sets,” putting all the focus on his actors and what they were wearing, with the sets themselves acting as mere backdrops for the performances. Inspired by everything from insects to symbolist painters to The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (which is homaged in Dracula’s final costume of the film), Ishioka set about crafting everything from a dress centered on snakes for Lucy Westenra to an insect-like straightjacket for Renfield. For Dracula’s first appearance as a vampire, she also ditched the classic cape in favor of a long, flowing crimson robe, which remains one of the film’s most famous visuals.
Ishioka won the Academy Award for costume design in 1993 for her work on Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This trailer from How It Should Have Ended about Venom; Let There Be Carnage (with guest stars Spider-Man, Deadpool, and Baby Shark) dropped today/
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nicholas Shectman, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Joseph Hurtgen, James Bacon, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, with dual credit to Daniel Dern for a similar suggestion.]