(1) JEMISIN PROMOTES INDIES. “N.K. Jemisin Named 2019 Indies First Spokesperson” – Shelf Awareness has the story.
Science fiction and fantasy author N.K. Jemisin will be the spokesperson this year for Indies First, the campaign supporting independent bookstores that takes place on Small Business Saturday, which this year is November 30, Bookselling This Week reported.
Jemisin the first author in history to win three consecutive Hugo Awards for Best Novel, all for her Broken Earth trilogy. She is also the winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Sense of Gender Award for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first volume in her Inheritance Trilogy. She is published by Hachette’s Orbit imprint.
In November 2018, Jemisin published How Long ’til Black Future Month?, a collection of short stories that, BTW said, “sharply examine modern society with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.” The paperback edition was published on Tuesday.
Jemisin has already created a video, in which she encourages viewers to visit their local indie on November 30, the seventh annual Indies First Day. Appropriately the video was filmed at the Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, N.Y.
(2) SELECTED RETRO STATS. Pending the appearance of the full 1944 Retro-Hugo voting statistics, Nicholas Whyte offers lots of illuminating observations in his “Retro Hugo summary”. For example –
Best Fan Writer, where Forrest J. Ackerman beat Wilson “Bob” Tucker by 18 votes.
Best Fanzine, where Le Zombie beat Futurian War Digest by 23 votes, after several rounds of very close eliminations.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, where Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman beat I Walked With a Zombie by 25 votes
(3) PRACTICAL SFF. “Sci-fi as a potent political tool: How popular fiction shapes policy debates” – analysis in Asian Correspondent.
IN 2017, Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel proposed all leaders be required to read science fiction to help them understand the past and future of science and technology as well as how new innovations might affect human society.
Similarly, in 2015, his predecessor Ian Chubb said science teachers could learn a thing or two from the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory about making science fun.
This isn’t just Australian contrarianism. Britain’s former science minister Malcolm Wicks suggested in 2007 that teachers use scenes from Doctor Who and Star Wars to kickstart discussion in science classrooms.
Just last year American vulcanologist Jess Phoenix ran for Congress on a platform of linking science-based environmental action to the values of the Star Trek universe.
It may seem outlandish to talk about real science and popular fiction in the same sentence, and doing so frequently creates clickbait headlines, but there’s surprising depth to this connection….
(4) WITH GROWING HORROR. Rob Latham remembers the powerful impact of his first encounter with Dennis Etchison’s fiction in an article at LA Review of Books: “Grim Hints and Nervous Portents: On Dennis Etchison”.
…I can still remember, with piercing clarity, my first experience of reading Etchison’s work. Indeed, I can even recall precisely the place and time: a stifling summer night in 1983, in a two-room apartment in Lake Worth, Florida, with insects buzzing at the screen and the fan cranked up high. The book was the 1982 Scream Press edition of The Dark Country, the author’s first collection, and I passed from the clutching terror of “It Only Comes Out at Night,” in which a driver slowly realizes he is being tracked by a killer, to the creepy elusiveness of “The Nighthawk,” whose young heroine comes to suspect that her brother may be a shapeshifting monster, to the unremitting grimness of the title story, wherein a pack of nihilistic expats in Mexico fritter away their days and their sanity, in a sustained, breathless epiphany.
It is hard to say why Etchison connected with me so powerfully on a visceral level. Perhaps Karl Edward Wagner offers a hint, in his introduction to the next Scream Press collection, Red Dreams (1984): “Etchison’s nightmares and fears are intensely personal, and his genius is to make us realize that we share them.”
(5) BEST SF. Paul Tassi advances his 7 picks for “The Best Science Fiction Books of All Time” at Forbes. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is one of them.
Science fiction is my favorite literary genre by far—I’ve written five sci-fi books myself—so making this list was going to be difficult. I ended up going with some of my favorites, while weighing against the larger scale of some of these novels and their impact on the genre overall.
There are some truly massive series in here, as well as all-time greats that any literary fan should read, regardless of their favorite genre. Here are some of the best science fiction books of all time:
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
August 15, 1939 — The Wizard of Oz premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, in Hollywood, on this day.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 15, 1858 — E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on more than sixty books of children’s literature including the Five Children Universe series. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organization later affiliated to the Labour Party. (Died 1924.)
- Born August 15, 1906 — William Sloane. Best known for his novel To Walk The Night which Boucher, King and Bloch all highly praise. Indeed, the latter includes it on his list of favorite horror novels. It and the Edge of Running Water were published together as The Rim of Morning in the early Sixties and it was reissued recently with an introduction by King. (Died 1974.)
- Born August 15, 1932— Robert L. Forward. Physicist and SF writer whose eleven novels I find are often great on ideas and quite thin on character development. Dragon’s Egg is fascinating as a first contact novel, and Saturn Rukh is another first contact novel that’s just as interesting. (Died 2002.)
- Born August 15, 1933 — Bjo Trimble, 86. Her intro to fandom was TASFiC, the 1952 Worldcon. She would be active in LASFS in the late 1950s onward and has been involved in more fanzines than I can comfortably list here. Of course, many of us know her from Trek especially the successful campaign for a third season. She’s responsible for the Star Trek Concordance, an amazing work even by today’s standards. And yes, I read it and loved it. She shows up (uncredited) as a crew member in the Recreation Deck scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Bjo and her husband John Trimble were the Fan Guests of Honor at the 60th Worldcon, ConJose.
- Born August 15, 1934 — Darrell K. Sweet. Illlustrator who was best-known for providing cover art for genre novels, in which capacity he was nominated for a Hugo award in 1983. He was Illustrator GoH at 71st Worldcon, LoneStarCon III. He was also a guest of honor at Tuckercon in 2007, at the 2010 World Fantasy Convention in 2010, and LepreCon in 2011. (Died 2011.)
- Born August 15, 1943 — Barbara Bouchet, 76. Yes, I’ve a weakness for performers who’ve shown up on the original Trek. She plays Kelinda in “By Any Other Name”. She also appeared in Casino Royale as Miss Moneypenny, and is Ava Vestok in Agent for H.A.R.M. which sounds like someone was unsuccessfully emulating The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It will be lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Born August 15, 1945 — Nigel Terry. King Arthur in Excalibur. Now there’s a bloody telling of the Arthurian myth. He’s General Cobb in the Doctor Who episode “The Doctor’s Daughter” which occurs during the time of the Tenth Doctor, and on the Highlander series as Gabriel Piton in the “Eye of the Beholder” episode. He even played Harold Latimer in “The Greek Interpreter” on Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2015.)
- Born August 15, 1957 — David Henry Hwang, 62. Writer of 1000 Airplanes on the Roof which is a melodrama in one act by Philip Glass with projections by Jerome Sirlin. The opera premiered on July 15, 1988, at the Vienna Airport in Hangar #3. The initial performance featured vocals by Linda Ronstadt.
- Born August 15, 1958 — Stephen Haffner, 61. Proprietor of Haffner Press which appears to be largely a mystery and genre reprint endeavor though he’s published such original anthologies as Edmond Hamilton & Leigh Brackett Day, October 16, 2010 and the non-fiction work Thirty-Five Years of the Jack Williamson Lectureship which he did with Patric Caldwell.
- Born August 15, 1972 — Ben Affleck, 47. Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League which I’ll admit I’ve not watched. IMDB claims he shows up in a uncredited spot in Suicide Squad as well. He’s Matt Murdock aka The Daredevil in Daredevil which I have seen — it’s pretty crappy. He’s actually in Field of Dreams, too, as a fan on the stands in Fenway though he’s not credited.
(8) CATCHING UP WITH OBAMA. A bit of sff shows up on Barack Obama’s summer reading list —
(9) CHOOSE YOUR OWN HORROR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SYFY Wire: “Alexandre Aja to helm choose-your-own-adventure horror flick from Hill House writers”.
Amidst all the big-budget mega-blockbusters this summer, Alexandre Aja managed to carve out a respectable performance from his horror flick Crawl, your timeless tale of human vs. alligator vs. hurricane.
Now, the director behind High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, and Piranha 3D is staying firmly in his horror lane as he’s signed on to make a haunted house feature for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. But unlike most horror movies that get a theatrical release, this one will ditch its linear story and instead embrace a sprawling ‘choose your own adventure’ narrative (one seemingly unrelated to any of the actual Choose Your Own Adventure series of books).
Mike Kennedy says, “In my opinion the true horror is all of the theatergoers using the special voting app on their smartphones continuously during the movie. You know half of them will be live-tweeting the movie and the other half getting update after update after update from the ones’ tweeting.”
(10) IS IT MORE BLESSED TO GIVE? “Someone left old TVs outside 50 homes in Virginia while wearing a TV on his head. No one knows why.” — The Washington Post has video.
It was kind of like Christmas — except it was August, the only presents were vintage television sets, and Santa had a TV on his head.
Residents of more than 50 households in Henrico County, Va., woke up this weekend to find old-style TVs outside their doorsteps, said Matt Pecka, a lieutenant with the local police department. Pecka said police began receiving reports about the TVs early Sunday. By the morning, their phones were clogged with calls.
…The givers had TVs instead of faces.
The videos reveal at least one of the deliverymen: a man dressed in a blue jumpsuit, black gloves and what appear to be brown hiking-style boots. He wears a TV set on his shoulders, positioned so it obscures his face…
(11) ROMAN SORCERER’S TOOLKIT. According to the art website Hyperallergic, archaeologists at Pompeii have discovered a wooden box full of sorcerer’s implements. They believe that the box was owned by a Roman sorceress. “A ‘Sorcerer’s Treasure Trove’ Uncovered in Pompeii”
The sorcery items include crystals, amber and amethyst stones, buttons made of bones, amulets, dolls, bells, phallic amulets, fists, human figurines, and a miniature human skull. A glass bead depicts the head of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility. Another glass amulet features a dancing satyr.
“The high quality of the amber and glass pastes and the engraving of the figures confirm the importance of the domus owner,” Osanna continued. But since none of the objects in this “sorcerer’s treasure trove” was made of gold, a material favored by Pompeii’s elites, they most likely belonged to a servant or a slave rather than the owner of the house, Osanna assessed in an interview with the Italian news agency ANSA .
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Contrarius, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern with an assist from Anna Nimmhaus.]