(1) MEET YOUR BEST FAN WRITER FINALISTS. With the deadline imminent, Alasdair Stuart has condensed the overview into a very full lid: “The Full Lid 2020 Hugo Awards Best Fan Writers Spotlight”.
In a special issue produced with the full cooperation and permission of the Fan Writer finalists, I spotlight all of them and give details of the remarkable body of work these six people produce. Special thanks in particular to Sarah Gailey for writing the piece on me.
(2) HUGO VOTING DEADLINE. Hugo voting closes on Wednesday, July 22 at 23:59 PDT (UTC-7). In New Zealand that’s Thursday, July 23 at 18:59 NZST (UTC+12).
(3) PAINT YOUR DRAGON. “Where am I goin’? / I don’t know / Where am I headin’? / I ain’t certain…” Camestros Felapton says it’s “Still not my job to fix the Dragon Awards” but he can’t help himself — the post makes several suggestions for improvement. Even more fascinating is this observation.
… Impact: Goodreads Awards get far more votes, Hugos and Nebulas have more impact, even the Locus awards generate more buzz and media coverage, the Clark’s have more critical clout and so on. Four sets of awards in and even Baen Books don’t play up their Dragon Award wins much on books covers or general marketing. For example, here is Brad flippin’ Torgersen’s bio on Amazon…
… Note: Analog AnLab Reader’s Choice, Writers of the Future, Nebula, Campbell and Hugo Awards are all listed but not the Dragons. Brad’s Dragon Award win simply isn’t used to promote Brad either in general or on his books, aside from his personal blogs and Facebook.
(4) COMIC-CON SOUVENIR BOOK. SDCC let everyone know that “Comic-Con’s 2020 Souvenir Book Available Now” is a free download. Use this link [PDF file – 260 pages]. There’s a tremendous amount of material about Ray Bradbury – don’t miss out!
What’s in this year’s Souvenir Book? Artist William Stout—famed for his illustrations and murals depicting dinosaurs, and his comics and movie poster work—once again graces the Souvenir Book with one of his incredible covers, this one saluting the centennial of famed author Ray Bradbury, one of Comic-Con’s most beloved guests over the years. Stout is also one of the very few people to have attended every Comic-Con, as a special “Cover Story” feature reveals in this year’s book. Learn the “Easter Eggs” Bill worked into this cover, plus his process of creating this amazing illustration, along with his past association with Bradbury.
In addition, the Souvenir Book also celebrates the following anniversaries:
• Ray Harryhausen Centennial—The 100th birthday of the stop-motion animation legend
• 75th Anniversary of EC Comics—They brought us Tales from the Crypt and MAD magazine
• 75th Anniversary of Moomin—The world-wide comics sensation for all ages
• 50th Anniversary of Conan in Comics—Robert E. Howard’s barbarian conquered comics starting in 1970
• 50th Anniversary of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World—The King of Comics moved to DC in 1970 and created a whole new world of characters
• 50th Anniversary of Last Gasp—The pioneer underground comix publisher and distributor
• Plus the Proverbial “Much More”—Comic-Con Museum, 2019 Award Winners, and the “In Memoriam” section
(5) ANALOGY. At Tablet, Andrew Fox remembers “How the prolific writer Barry N. Malzberg showed me my passion was just Judaism in a spacesuit” in “My Science Fiction Rabbi”.
Science fiction is just Judaism in a spacesuit.
If the statement strikes you as ridiculous, consider the evidence. Both cultures began life on the margins, the domain of small and mocked minorities who looked at the world from the outside and who survived by adhering to their own intricate traditions. Both cultures are, first and foremost, an exercise in “what if,” Judaism forever looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and having its adherents pray daily for the rebuilding of the Temple, and science fiction imagining the life that lies just at the cusp of the possible. And both cultures stand at risk of being loved out of existence, embraced mightily by the mainstream, sailing precariously between the Scylla of assimilation and the Charybdis of dilution….
(6) SNOOP TREK. Although I missed this in 2018, ScienceFiction.com says the story is coming around again: “‘Unbelievable!!!!!’ Produced By Snoop Dogg Stars 40 Former ‘Star Trek’ Cast Members And A Puppet”.
…‘Unbelievable!!!!!’ is “a Sci-Fi Parody Adventure which follows the crazy exploits of four off-beat astronauts (one is a marionette) who travel to the Moon on a rescue mission to determine the fate of two Space Agency comrades who have not been heard from in several days. The individuals they find at the Lunar Base are not whom they appear to be and nearly succeed in killing our heroes. Soon the astronauts find themselves trying to save the Earth from an invasion of Killer Plant Aliens!!”
Indie Rights CEO Linda Nelson announced via a statement:
“Indie Rights is so excited to be featuring UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! at Virtual Cannes. We’ll be screening the film for international buyers on June 24th. Snoop Dogg and Star Trek fans will love this plant-based, inter-galactic parody.”
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- July 20, 1952 — The Shadow’s “The Curse of the Emerald Scarab” first was broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System with the sponsor being Wildroot Company Inc. It was written by J.G. Leighton, and starred Bret Morrison as The Shadow / Lamont Cranston, and Gertrude Warner as Margo Lane. The Announcer was Sandy Becker. We would love to tell all about it including where to hear it, but like nearly sixty percent of The Shadow radio broadcasts, they were lost as Mutual thought of these was broadcast once and done. There were 677 episodes aired over 18 seasons, so a lot did survive.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born July 20, 1906 – Bill Danner. Arrived in the mid-1940s. From the mid-1950s his hand-set letterpress fanzine Stefantasy (Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction, often shortened to stef, + fantasy) ran 44 years. Other fanzines A Dangerous Thing, Lark, Pull No Punches. Active in FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n) and VAPA (Vanguard Am. Pr. Ass’n). (Died 2000) [JH]
- Born July 20, 1924 — Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017.) (CE)
- Born July 20, 1930 — Sally Ann Howes, 90. Best remembered as being Truly Scrumptious on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in Brigadoon. Though more genre adjacent than genre, I’ll note her playing Anna Leonowens In The King & I as Ricardo Montalbán played the lead role. (CE)
- Born July 20, 1931 — Donald Moffitt. Author of the Baroness thriller series, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise, but not quite. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. (Did 2014.) (CE)
- Born July 20, 1938 — Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, 82. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers beside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Now she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh, and she showed up recently in Dr. Who during the Era of the Eleventh Doctor as Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode. (CE)
- Born July 20, 1942 — Richard Delap. Canadian fanzine writer who wrote for Granfalloon and Yandro. He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice but lost to Harry Warner, Jr. at St.Louiscon, and Wilson Tucker at Heicon ‘70. Edited Delap’s F&SF Review (1975-1978), published by Fred Patten – both had been prolific reviewers for Geis’ Science Fiction Review, who tried to make a go of their own semiprozine.Delap was a co-editor of The Essential Harlan Ellison. He died of AIDS complications just after it was published. (Died 1987.) (Died 1987.) (CE)
- Born July 20, 1943 – Bill Bowers. Best known for his fanzine Outworlds (three FAAn – Fan Activity Achievement – Awards); also Xenolith; Double:Bill with Bill Mallardi. Won TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) in a tie with Roy Tackett; withdrew. Chaired Corflu 4 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Fan Guest of Honor at IguanaCon II the 36th Worldcon (some use Roman numerals, some don’t). Early adopter of offset printing. Fond of lists. (Died 2006) [JH]
- Born July 20, 1947 – Mike Gilbert. Two dozen covers, eighty interiors, for books, fanzines, prozines. Here is Victory on Janus. Here is the Feb 70 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Here is the Noreascon Program Book (29th Worldcon). Here is the Mar 71 Worlds of If. Here is the Dec 74 Analog. Here is Breaking Point. Here is an interior for Granfalloon 7 – part of a Mike Gilbert portfolio. (Died 2000) [JH]
- Born July 20, 1949 – Guy Lillian, 71. Publications for Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 21, Archon 36, Con*Stellation XXII. Rebel Award and Rubble Award. Won DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) with wife Rose Marie, trip report The Antipodal Route; thereafter The Panoramic Route (to Anticipation the 67th Worldcon), The Aboriginal Route (to Aussiecon 4 the 68th Worldcon). Current fanzines Challenger, Spartacus (politics), The Zine Dump (reviews). [JH]
- Born July 20, 1955 – Susan Dexter, 65. Ten novels, six shorter stories; a dozen maps and interiors. Chalk paintings, see here (at her Website). Covers for some of her own books, like this (SD did a pastel, Teddy Black finished). Weaver and hand-spinner, as shown in this photo. [JH]
- Born July 20, 1959 – Martha Soukup, 61. Thirty short stories, translated into Croatian, French, German; Nebula for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”; collection, The Arbitrary Placement of Walls. Poetry in Asimov’s, Star*Line. Essays, reviews, in Aboriginal, Fantasy Review, NY Review of SF, SF Age. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Where Tinkerbell ended up, clapping will not do her any good. The Far Side.
(10) A GENRE FOR THE TIMES. Mayurika Chakravoty tells how “Science fiction explores the interconnectedness revealed by the coronavirus pandemic” at The Conversation.
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, a theory widely shared on social media suggested that a science fiction text, Dean Koontz’s 1981 science fiction novel, The Eyes of Darkness, had predicted the coronavirus pandemic with uncanny precision. COVID-19 has held the entire world hostage, producing a resemblance to the post-apocalyptic world depicted in many science fiction texts. Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s classic 2003 novel Oryx and Crake refers to a time when “there was a lot of dismay out there, and not enough ambulances” — a prediction of our current predicament.
However, the connection between science fiction and pandemics runs deeper. They are linked by a perception of globality, what sociologist Roland Robertson defines as “the consciousness of the world as a whole.”
Globality in science fiction
In his 1992 survey of the history of telecommunications, How the World Was One, Arthur C. Clarke alludes to the famed historian Alfred Toynbee’s lecture entitled “The Unification of the World.” Delivered at the University of London in 1947, Toynbee envisions a “single planetary society” and notes how “despite all the linguistic, religious and cultural barriers that still sunder nations and divide them into yet smaller tribes, the unification of the world has passed the point of no return.”
Science fiction writers have, indeed, always embraced globality. In interplanetary texts, humans of all nations, races and genders have to come together as one people in the face of alien invasions. Facing an interplanetary encounter, bellicose nations have to reluctantly eschew political rivalries and collaborate on a global scale, as in Denis Villeneuve’s 2018 film, Arrival.
(11) MARTIAN ODYSSEY. “UAE Joins Growing List Of Nations That Have Sent Spacecraft To Mars”.
It seems everyone is interested in Mars these days.
For decades, sending probes to the red planet was the exclusive purview of the United States and the Soviet Union, and later Russia. But in 1998, Japan made an attempt, which ended in failure, followed by the European Space Agency, then China (also unsuccessful) in 2011, and two years later, India.
Now, the United Arab Emirates has sent one, too: an orbiter named Hope. It’s the country’s first interplanetary space shot.
“The UAE is now a member of the club and we will learn more and we will engage more and we’ll continue developing our space exploration program,” UAE Space Agency chief Mohammed Al Ahbabi told a joint online news conference at Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, where the $200 million mission lifted off at 5:58 p.m. ET Sunday, riding a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket after nearly a week of weather delays.
Approximately an hour after launch, Hope, or “Amal” in Arabic, separated from its housing and deployed its solar panels. It will spend the next seven months on its journey to Mars.
…The orbital probe is designed to gather comprehensive data about the thin atmosphere of Mars.
“The purpose was not only to get to Mars by 2021 and have valid scientific data coming out of the mission that is unique in nature and no other mission has captured before,” Sarah Al Amiri, deputy project manager and science lead for the Emirates Mars Mission, said earlier. “But more importantly, it was about developing the capabilities and capacity of engineers in the country.”
(12) HELPING … HAND? “LED for face mask wearers to help lip-readers” – BBC video.
An LED device for face mask wearers to help people lip-read has been created by a disability campaigner.
Dan Watts, from Hull, has created a voice activated LED that responds to the sound of the wearer’s voice.
It was inspired by games designer Tyler Glaiel, who originally came up with the idea.
(13) BEWARE SPOILERS. SYFY Wire calls these “The 10 Most Shocking, Wtf Twilight Zone Twist Endings”. And you know people have had a long time to think about it… Number Eight is –
“The Masks” (Season 5)
Mardi Gras gets The Twilight Zone treatment, with a dash of Knives Out, as very wealthy, very terminally-ill man invites his greedy family over to settle his affairs. He insists that they all don grotesque masks that match their uniquely terrible personality traits — if they don’t, they won’t see a dime of their inheritance.
You can probably guess where this is going, when the family members take off their masks… One of the most disturbing endings in the history of the show.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to Fil 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]