(1) IT COULD BE A REAL PLACE. Nadia Maddy hopes people will look beyond their headspace for the answer to “Where Is Your Wakanda?”
Where is your Wakanda? Wakanda is real but have you found it? Is it really in East Africa or is it in Central Africa? Perhaps its in Nigeria? What do you think?
(2) LE GUIN WINS A PEN AWARD. PEN America held its 2018 Literary Awards ceremony on February 20 at New York University reports Publishers Weekly — “Long Soldier, Zhang, Le Guin Win At 2018 PEN Literary Awards”.
[Ursula K.] Le Guin won the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for No Time to Spare. The author’s son, Theo [accepted the] award on behalf of the late Ursula K. Le Guin.
(3) A SINGAPORE FIRST – AND SECOND. The Straits Times interviews “Two Singaporeans on Nebula awards shortlist”, J.Y. Yang and Vina Jie-Min Prasad.
Yang, a science communications officer, recalls: “When I was growing up, I would print out a list of the works that had won the Hugo and Nebula and try to make my way through them. I would never have imagined that one day I would be a finalist. I’m so proud to be one of the Singaporeans on the list, it’s just fantastic.”
Prasad, 27, a full-time writer, started submitting to science-fiction magazines only last year, but has already been shortlisted twice. “I’m overwhelmed and really honoured,” she says.
She is up for Best Novelette for A Series Of Steaks, about two women in Nanjing who forge quality beef – inspired by the real-life counterfeit food industry – and Best Short Story for Fandom For Robots, in which a sentient robot discovers Japanese anime and starts writing fan fiction.
(4) AT YOUR SERVICE. For anyone who wants paper Hugo and Retro-Hugo ballots, there’s now a way to print them.
Worldcon 76 has published PDFs of the paper nominating ballots for the 2018 Hugo Awards/Award for Best Young Adult Book/John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and for the 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards.
- 2018 Hugo/YA Book/Campbell Award Ballot
- 2018 Ballot Instructions
- 1943 Retro-Hugo Ballot
- 1943 Ballot Instructions
(5) NOMMO NOMINATIONS OPEN. Members of the African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS) have until March 31 to nominate works for the 2018 Nommo Awards. The awards will be presented at the Ake Arts and Book Festival in November 2018.
(6) BUZZWORDKILL. In The Atlantic, Bruce Sterling commands people to “Stop Saying ‘Smart Cities'” – “Digital stardust won’t magically make future cities more affordable or resilient.”
The term “smart city” is interesting yet not important, because nobody defines it. “Smart” is a snazzy political label used by a modern alliance of leftist urbanites and tech industrialists. To deem yourself “smart” is to make the NIMBYites and market-force people look stupid.
Smart-city devotees all over this world will agree that London is particularly smart. Why? London is a huge, ungainly beast whose cartwheeling urban life is in cranky, irrational disarray. London is a god-awful urban mess, but London does have some of the best international smart-city conferences.
London also has a large urban-management bureaucracy who emit the proper smart-city buzzwords and have even invented some themselves. The language of Smart City is always Global Business English, no matter what town you’re in.
(7) IN TRAINING. Lightspeed Magazine interviews Carmen Maria Machado about her learning experiences.
I know that you also went to the Clarion science fiction writers workshop. I wonder if you could contrast Iowa and Clarion a little bit?
Clarion is not an MFA program. Clarion is a six-week, insane, exhausting boot camp. It’s a totally different process. The MFA program is more moderate, in the sense that it’s happening over the course of several years. I don’t know really how to compare them. The workshop style is really different. Genre places tend to use the system where everybody goes around in a circle and says their piece and then is silent.
The Milford system?
Oh yeah, the Milford. Which, actually, I do not like that workshop system, but that is the way it’s done at Clarion. It was done that way when I went to Sycamore Hill. That’s just the sort of tradition. Whereas, in my MFA program, it was more of a style of people talking and responding to each other in real time, which I prefer. It’s hard to compare Clarion and Iowa. They’re just inherently really different in terms of what you’re getting out of them. What I got out of Iowa was two years of funded time to work on my own shit, which was amazing and really wonderful. What I got out of Clarion was this really bombastic, high-intensity, octane-fueled, genre extravaganza where I barely slept. I was writing a lot of stuff, some of which was really terrible, and some of which was pretty good, and workshopping non-stop and barely sleeping. They’re really different programs.
(8) IF YOU CAN SAY SOMETHING NICE. Marshall Ryan Maresca helps sff readers pay attention to some people who are doing it the right way in “On My Mind: Building Community”.
So, this past weekend I was at Boskone, and it was a wonderful time, as I was reminded what an amazing community we have in SF/Fantasy Literature. There are some amazing people in this business, who are filled with wisdom and warmth and kindness. I had the great fortune of sharing the signing table with Mary Robinette Kowal, who all of these attributes in abundance. We, as a community, are blessed to have her in it.
Sadly, this past week, I’ve also been reminded that we have a way to go, and there are some people who thrive in being terrible, and making things unpleasant for those around them. And that behavior, sadly, gets them notoriety. They get talked about, which serves their ends. I won’t give them the time of day.
Because the people who are wonderful, who do great work and are good people– they’re the ones who deserve notoriety. They’re the ones who should get notice and have their names mentioned over and over. So here is a large list of great people who deserve your attention…..
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- John King Tarpinian says Brevity found a way to make a joke at the expense of two actors who’ve played Captain Kirk.
(10) STORY AMPLIFIED. Yesterday’s Scroll linked to the latest release in Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s Future Tense Fiction series, “Mother of Invention” by Nnedi Okorafor. Joey Eschrich notes that it was published along with a response essay by Internet of Things expert Stacey Higginbotham, focusing on the smart home technology in the story.
“A Snow, A Flood, A Fire” by Jamie Berrout (published in Strange Horizons, 01/2018 )
What It Is: Coming in a special issue of Strange Horizons featuring transgender and nonbinary authors, “A Snow, A Flood, A Fire” stars Lupita, a trans woman stuck in an awful job as a security guard at a museum, hoping that she can work her way out of mistakes she made when she was younger and her world was imploding. The changing nature of employment, learning algorithms, employer greed and entitlement, and the dream of economic mobility all collide in a plot that kept the reading experience for me fast and tight and devastating. (And for fans of this story, I also recommend checking out “Dream Job” in January’s Terraform SF, which also explores themes of employment and the traps of late capitalism).
Why I Love It: Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but stories exploring the future of employment and capitalism seem to be on the rise. For me, it’s a constant reminder of the realities of growing up and entering the workforce in a time where so many things that previous generations take for granted are in shambles or completely gone. Retirement contributions, healthcare, vacation, sick leave, debt forgiveness—the present isn’t exactly a cheery place for many hoping to live and maybe reach for that dream of comfort, security, and autonomy. …
[Via Earl Grey Editing Services.]
(12) BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER, MORE! At Featured Futures, Jason has posted an “Expanded Collated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, Links)” which begins its additional coverage with Ellen Datlow’s freshly announced The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten.
By request, this is an expanded edition of Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!). That post collates and links to the stories selected by Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan. This will add Afsharirad, Best American SF&F, Datlow, and Guran.
(13) SIGNAGE. Culver City, CA’s Ripped Bodice Bookstore gives fair warning:
This sign is my greatest professional accomplishment pic.twitter.com/uytWrydmuu
— The Ripped Bodice (@TheRippedBodice) February 18, 2018
(14) PASSING THE BUCKING BRONCO. Something else we know that ain’t so: “Why The Last ‘Wild’ Horses Really Aren’t”.
A Mongolian horse that has long been hailed as the last truly wild horse species in existence isn’t really all that wild.
It turns out that Przewalski’s horses are actually feral descendants of the first horses that humans are known to have domesticated, around 5,500 years ago.
What’s more, the modern horses that people ride today cannot be traced to those early steeds. That means humans must have tamed wild horses once again later on, somewhere else, but no one knows where or when.
(15) CAVE DWELLERS. If the pics remind you of a kindergarten project, remember your kids didn’t have to be the first people to ever have the idea: “Neanderthals were capable of making art”.
Contrary to the traditional view of them as brutes, it turns out that Neanderthals were artists.
A study in Science journal suggests they made cave drawings in Spain that pre-date the arrival of modern humans in Europe by 20,000 years.
They also appear to have used painted sea shells as jewellery.
Art was previously thought to be a behaviour unique to our species (Homo sapiens) and far beyond our evolutionary cousins.
The cave paintings include stencilled impressions of Neanderthal hands, geometric patterns and red circles.
(16) YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS STORY IS LEADING. The people who built Stonehenge didn’t get to enjoy it for long: “Ancient Britons ‘replaced’ by newcomers”.
Prof Reich told BBC News: “Archaeologists ever since the Second World War have been very sceptical about proposals of large-scale movements of people in prehistory. But what the genetics are showing – with the clearest example now in Britain at Beaker times – is that these large-scale migrations occurred, even after the spread of agriculture.”
The genetic data, from hundreds of ancient British genomes, reveals that the Beakers were a distinct population from the Neolithic British. After their arrival on the island, Beaker genes appear to swamp those of the native farmers.
Prof Reich added: “The previous inhabitants had just put up the big stones at Stonehenge, which became a national place of pilgrimage as reflected by goods brought from the far corners of Britain.”
He added: “The sophisticated ancient peoples who built that monument and ones like it could not have known that within a short period of time their descendants would be gone and their lands overrun.”
(17) DON’T MISS THIS NON-GENRE LINK. The Hollywood Reporter interviewed the surviving cast and writers for “‘MAS*H’ Oral History: Untold Stories From One of TV’s Most Important Shows”.
(18) NO ARMY CAN STOP AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. Adam-Troy Castro offered this subtle suggestion on Facebook:
Let’s run an International Science Fiction Asshole Convention.
People who want to go to conventions or to award ceremonies in order to be disruptive assholes — all while filling thousands of pages of blog posts with their fiendish snickering about the trouble they intend and how much it will bother everyone else — will finally have their annual event, where they can hand out awards to honor The Year’s Biggest Asshole, The Year’s Biggest Dickweed, the Year’s Most Appalling Runner-Up, as well as the Award for Best Newcomer (which at the Hugos are named after a luminary with J, W, and C as initials, and can be done here as well, albeit in different order).
Steve Davidson has volunteered to do the con’s Souvenir Book. In fact, he’s not even going to wait for the convention to be founded —
I’m soliciting articles for this, lol. Someone want to write a history of the (what was it, the ISFC?) from its founding to the present?
Anyone want to do short profiles of award winners from the past?
(19) JUST WAITING TO BE FOUND. Annalee Newitz tells about the “8,000-year-old heads on spikes found in a remote Swedish lake” at Ars Technica. Warning – the article is full of grisly medical commentary.
In east-central Sweden, workers demolishing a railway that crossed the Motala Ström River discovered something bizarre. For roughly 7,500 years, a shallow, swampy lake in the area had hidden a pile of stones that contained the skeletal remains of at least 10 people and weapons made of stone and antler. They also found the bones of bears, deer, boar, and a badger. Two of the human skulls were mounted on pointed stakes.
Thousands of years ago, this semi-submerged burial ground must have been an imposing sight for the small settlements located nearby. A pile of rocks rose above the water, covered in weapons, wooden structures, and the grisly remains of fearsome animals—as well as the skulls of some carefully chosen people. Now dubbed “Kanaljorden,” the archaeological site has finally begun to yield some secrets about the people who created it. In a recent article for Antiquity, Stockholm University archaeologist Sara Gummesson and her colleagues explain what the evidence reveals about how this ritual site was used.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Chip Hitchcock, Kendall, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]