(1) COZY HORROR? In the November 12 Financial Times, columnist Nilanjana Roy explains why she likes “Black Mirror” — “’Black Mirror’ and ghost stories of a digital dystopia”. (* Article is behind a paywall, but you can get to it by Googling the name of the columnist.)
Black Mirror starts by riffing on the modern fear of living in a digital, immersive world. It’s ironic that fans will watch episodes where a young boy is surveilled through his webcam by unrevealed stalkers, with inevitable grim results, then take to their smartphones or Twitter to declare that they want to get away from their phones and get offline.
But, huddled in a razai quilt with the air purifier on full blast, with a cup of ginger tea by my side, I realize I don’t watch Black Mirror to have my worst fears confirmed. I watch it to be reassured.”
(2) THE FANNISH INQUISITION. Smofcon 34 has asked existing and prospective Worldcon and NASFiC bidders to complete a questionnaire – some responses are already available online.
- Worldcon 75 (Helsinki)
- Worldcon 76 (San José)
- Northamericon ’17 (San Juan NASFIC)
- Dublin 2019
- New Zealand 2020
- Boston 2020 Christmas Worldcon Bid
- Boston 2021
- Chicago 2022
- France 2023
- UK 2024
- DC 2024
(3) THE BOUNDARIES OF EMPATHY. Ann Leckie says there was really nothing special about Nazis — “On Monsters”.
Here’s the thing–the Nazis? Those concentration camp guards, the people who dug and filled in mass graves, led prisoners to gas chambers, all of that? They were not inhuman monsters. They were human beings, and they weren’t most of them that different from anyone you might meet on your morning walk, or in the grocery store.
I know it’s really super uncomfortable to look around you and realize that–that your neighbors, or even you, yourself, might, given circumstances, commit such atrocities. Your mind flinches from it, you don’t want to even think about it. It can’t be. You know that you’re a good person! Your neighbors and co-workers are so nice and polite and decent. You can’t even imagine it, so there must have been something special, something particularly different about the people who enthusiastically embraced Hitler.
I’m here to tell you there wasn’t.
(4) QUESTIONING AND COMMON GROUND. Cat Rambo inserts a page from Maslow in her response to recent events, and shares her plan for moving forward: “Nattering Social Justice Cook: Stay the Course”
One of the phenomena that led to the weirdness of the recent election is the use of binary thought, a basic Us vs. Them that does not allow for the fact that human beings are significantly more complicated than a single yes/no statement. I see it being embraced even more strongly now – by both the Left and the Right.
The world is more complicated than that. To fall into that trap is to let yourself be controlled by whoever wields the media around you the most effectively. You must think, you must question. You must figure out where your common ground is and how to use it. This is not the time to be silent. This is a time when how you live and act and speak is more important than it ever has been.
So. Here’s what I’m doing.
- I’m listening to the voices that haven’t been listened to and amplifying their message wherever I can. Recommending a wide and interesting range of works for the SFWA Recommended Reading List. Reading across the board and making sure I look for new, interesting, diverse stuff – and then spreading the word of it. I’m nominating and voting for awards and taking the time to leave reviews when I can.
- As a teacher, the most important thing I can do is try to show my students how an artist lives and works. Why it’s important to confront and acknowledge one’s own flaws so you understand them in others. How to be a good human, one that is responsible, ethical, open to the world. Feminism is more important now than ever, and being one publicly in a way that redeems the bizarre media stereotypes that have been imposed upon it is crucial to generations to come.
And there’s more!
(5) FIRST FEMALE ISS COMMANDER RETURNS TO SPACE. Astronaut Peggy Whitson wrote a few more entries in the history books this morning: “Watch the first female commander of the space station blast off today”.
Whitson became the first female commander of the International Space Station in 2007, and at 3:20 EST today, she’ll ride a Soyuz rocket alongside cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, to take her place as commander of Expedition 51 on the International Space Station. She’s also set to become the oldest woman in space, at 56 years of age.
In a CBS News interview from 2008, following an extremely hard reentry of Expedition 16, Whitson—today holding the title of NASA’s most experienced female astronaut, with nearly 377 days logged in space and six space walks totaling 39 hours 46 minutes—said of her many records that “no one should be counting,” but until we’re beyond the point of having to count, she’s happy to be a role model. “It seems odd to me to think of myself that way, but I hope that I can inspire someone to do something they maybe didn’t think they could.”
(6) SPOOLING OUT. The inaugural Rewind Con, a new celebrity convention held this month in Chicago, probably took a bath according to a Nerd & Tie report, “Rewind Con Was Apparently a Total Mess”.
We’ve been following this con behind the scenes for quite some time, mostly because they rescheduled the even from September to November earlier this year. The schedule change was due to a switch in venues, and originally they put out a statement which directly stated that it was because the convention had grown too much — although they would later take that back and put out a slightly more vague one blaming “multiple factors with the original venue.”
…We don’t have exact figures, but people present have estimated numbers anywhere between one and three thousand attendees. And while any of those would be a respectable number for a first year convention, when you consider Rewind Con had between fifty and sixty guests (most of whom likely asked for pretty sizable guarantees) this event must have been a massive financial disaster. The only way the organizers could have paid those guarantees is if the money came directly out of owner Jaymie Lashaway’s pocket.
We’ve also seen reports of people who paid for the $300 VIP Passes not receiving what was promised, tons of reports of staff mismanagement, issues with paid photo ops, and a complete inability to put on a good show.
(7) MIND MELD. Shana DuBois populated the latest Mind Meld with the editors and authors of the recently released anthology The Starlit Wood from Saga Press.They were asked “to chat about fairy tales and their influence on modern-day storytelling.” The participants are Navah Wolfe, Dominik Parisien, Margo Lanagan, Kat Howard, Stephen Graham Jones, Aliette de Bodard, Charlie Jane Anders, Jeffrey Ford, Theodora Goss, and Daryl Gregory.
(8) FULL FATHOM FIVE-SEVEN-FIVE. With two five-syllable verses, the traditional haiku is arguably a poetic form tailor-made for Filers. Therefore I want you all to know Fantasy Literature has kicked off its “Third Annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest”. Leave entries in the comments. The rules don’t state a deadline for entering.
(9) BRADBURY’S NATIONAL BOOK AWARD MEDAL. Sixteen years ago this month Ray Bradbury gave an acceptance speech when the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation conferred its Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters on him.
This is incredible. This is quite amazing because who you’re honoring tonight is not only myself but the ghost of a lot of your favorite writers. And I wouldn’t be here except that they spoke to me in the library. The library’s been the center of my life. I never made it to college. I started going to the library when I graduated from high school. I went to the library every day for three or four days a week for 10 years and I graduated from the library when I was 28.
(10) UNDER THE HAMMER. Heritage Auctions published the top bids from its recently-completed Space Exploration Auction #6167.
We are proud to announce that, as of this writing, total sales are $744,923 with a 98% sell-through rate both by lot and value. Of 729 total bidders, 226 were successful in winning 515 lots. It’s interesting to note that 296 of these 515 lots were won by bidders on Heritage Live! If you’re not using this amazing online bidding platform, you should definitely check it out. Eight lots vied for the honor of top price realized:
- Lot 50102 Apollo 13 Flown and Crew-Signed Checklist $42,500
- Lot 50145 Skylab: Rare NASA Contractor’s Model, 1/48 Scale $42,500
- Lot 50038 Alan Bean Original 1984 Painting “Test Drive” $42,500
- Lot 50064 Apollo 11 Flown Quarantine Cover $40,000
- Lot 50037 Alan Bean Original 2005 Painting “Our World At My Fingertips” $38,750
- Lot 50119 Apollo 14 LM Flown and Surface Carried Tool $37,500
- Lot 50132 Apollo 17 Flown Robbins Medal, Serial Number 62 $37,500
- Lot 50065 Apollo 11 Flown Robbins Medal, Serial Number 64 $35,000
(11) SUNBURST SEEKS SHORTS. The Sunburst Awards, recognizing “Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic,” is looking for submissions to be considered in its short story award category. Short stories published in magazines, anthologies or collections, or online all qualify.
Canadian authors: It’s free to submit, and your publishers may not have already done so.
Publishers: If you have submitted a collection for the novel length award already, please send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know which of the stories included qualify (see below) for the short story award. You may submit stories which qualify from magazines or anthologies you have published as well. To submit these, please upload the individual story files from the link on our website.
The Sunburst Awards will consider short fiction (up to 7,500 words.) for the short story award. Submissions are made electronically using a submission system for short form works and must be in either Word document or pdf format only. You will be asked to provide details of where the work was originally published along with the date and story length. All works must have been previously published in 2016. *See additional criteria on our website.
*Please include only one story per upload file.
*Do not submit a complete magazine or anthology.
*Non paying markets qualify.
*Short stories have only one year of eligibility.
*There is no administrative fee for short form submissions.
*Deadline for submissions is Midnight Eastern Standard Time on January 31, 2017.
(12) BYRON, SELL HIGH. At the SFWA Blog, Rosalind Moran talks about the appeal of broody men: “Brood For Thought: On The Enduring Appeal Of The Moody Male Lead”.
The moody male lead is widespread throughout all genres, but it can be difficult to see why anybody would want to spend time with him. He’s brooding, exceedingly individualistic, melancholic, and disposed to hanging around outdoors during thunderstorms for no good reason beyond cultivating his mystique. Furthermore, despite possessing attributes such as introspection, sophistication in some form, and intelligence, he is also typically rather unpleasant.
So what’s underpinning his enduring presence and appeal in fiction?
(13) A WRETCHED HIVE OF SCUM AND VILLANY…AND LOVE. Turns out Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford weren’t the only ones getting busy on the set of Star Wars. Stephen Colbert had a Star Wars affair, too
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chip Hitchcock.]