Pixel Scroll 8/26/20 Down To Starseeds And STEM Again

(1) ROFCON 2020. Eric Flint and Ring of Fire Press will host the inaugural Ring of Fire Con (RoFCon I), a virtual convention, from September 11-13, with panels, guests, and signing opportunities. Attendance is free – register at the link.

Among the guests attending will be: Steven Barnes, David Brin, DJ Butler, Eric Flint, Charles Gannon, Cecelia Holland, Tom Kidd, Mercedes Lackey, Jody Lynn Nye, Christopher Ruocchio, Tom Smith, David Weber, and Toni Weisskopf.

Walt Boyes, Editor, Grantville Gazette and Ring of Fire Press adds:

Not only do we have a great guest list, but we are also teaching marketing for authors, how to get published, and recruiting new authors. We have dealt with issues of race, sex, gender, and nationality and prejudice around the world. We are looking for authors to write in the 1632 Universe who are non-traditional. We encourage women, LGBTQ+, and Persons of Color to look at writing for us. We publish bimonthly, The Grantville Gazette, which is a SFWA approved venue that pays SFWA professional rates.

(2) BRADBURY CENTENNIAL RECORDING STILL PLAYING. You can hear last Saturday’s Ray Bradbury Read-A-Thon of Fahrenheit 451 anytime through September 5.

Readers from across the United States will join William Shatner (actor), Neil Gaiman (author), Marlon James (author), Marjorie Liu (author), P. Djèlí Clark (author), Dr. Brenda Greene (author), Alley Mills Bean (actress), James Reynolds (actor), Tananarive Due (author), and Steven Barnes (author) to bring this relevant work to social media. Susan Orlean (author) provides an afterword. 

(3) ONLINE BRADBURY EXHIBIT. The South Pasadena Public Library provides a virtual tour of its Bradbury holdings in “Ray Bradbury: Celebrating 100 Years”.

…Bradbury, in his later years, was a frequent visitor to South Pasadena. In fact, Bradbury chose the South Pasadena Public Library as the location of his 90th Birthday Celebration. In 2010 South Pasadena City Council declared August 22nd Ray Bradbury Day….

In 2013 the South Pasadena Public Library named the conference room in honor of the late Ray Bradbury, for his work as lifelong advocate for public libraries. The Ray Bradbury Conference Room currently hosts a collection of Bradbury books and artifacts, including ephemera, photographs, artwork, and first edition prints. On the walls of the Conference Room hang a brick from Ray Bradbury’s home in Los Angeles (now demolished) and a portion of drywall from Bradbury’s home office, where much of his writing was conducted….

(4) 2020 HINDSIGHT. Few fans really expect science fiction writers to predict the future. But what about mainstream authors who can’t even predict the present? Consider this Amazon customer review of Honeysuckle Season by Mary Ellen Taylor.

This novel is set in Virginia during two time periods: the early 1940’s, and the summer of 2020. Chapters alternate between the two time periods. The story was enjoyable, but every time I came to a chapter set in 2020, I asked myself, “when is the author going to say something about Covid-19?” The answer is — never. I found that very disturbing and distracting. The author apparently wrote the book before the pandemic, and made the assumption that summer 2020 would be just like other summers, with large wedding parties, no social distancing, etc. Bad assumption.

(5) WORLDCON PUBLICATION ARCHIVE. Fanac.org is making the move to a different interface for accessing Worldcon Publications. (And it looks very good!)

If you’ve been paying attention to recent newsletters and flashes, Mark Olson has put together a new, easier-to-love format for Worldcon pubs. All the worldcon pubs are searchable PDFs and you’ll also find bidding material, and even ephemera. You can find it all at http://fanac.org/conpubs/Worldcon/.

The format and the link for photos and audio stay the same for now, and over the next few days (or maybe weeks) we will migrate completely to the new approach. For a little while, worldcon pubs may be available the old way as well, but one by one those will be cleared out. If you have any worldcon pubs bookmarked, then please be aware that those bookmarks will not be valid for too much longer. All hail Mark Olson, king of the Worldcon pubs! And most seriously, a heartfelt thanks to Mark from a webmaster who really didn’t want to start coding again. (Aug 22)

(6) EVERMORE ASKS FOR HELP. Yesterday’s Scroll reported Utah’s Evermore Park is in financial straits. The owners have launched a GoFundMe appeal: “Helping Evermore Park Through COVID-19”. It’s raised $13,693 of the $100,000 goal in the first 24 hours.

Evermore Park is small business in Pleasant Grove, Utah that creates an immersive experience that exists purely to allow everyone who enters to discover their own imagination. We aim to tell unique stories that inspire, educate, and allow guests to escape–even just for a little while–to a world that allows you to be the hero. We need your help to keep this project going during COVID-19.

We opened our doors in September of 2018. From the moment the doors were officially opened, we have been creating magic and allowing guests to interact with our characters and park in ways that few other businesses have even come close to attempting…. 

(7) POST-APOCALYPTIC HOLLYWOOD. “A World Like This Deserves Contempt: Adapting Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog in Bright Lights Film Journal is Stephen Harris’ fine-grained and thoroughly disturbing study of the story’s evolution to a film by L.Q. Jones.

…Alternately humorous, disturbing, satiric, violent, tender, vicious, somber, fantastic, and familiar, A Boy and His Dog and its adaptations have become the most referenced and influential landmarks of a sub-genre that has often been disregarded as escapist, clichéd, and one-dimensional. In order to understand how the text became so important, the history of Ellison’s original story and its film adaptation must be traced and explicated. In this article, I will compare and contrast Ellison’s definitive novella, L. Q. Jones’s early screenplay draft, and his final film adaptation and its promotional campaign to show how content is transformed, often radically, once it leaves the hands of its creator, and how certain differences in these texts come to exist. 

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 26, 1953 War of The Worlds premiered. It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson with narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The Martian war machines were designed by Al Nozaki, and the sizzling sound effect would be used again as the first Trek phaser sound. (You know what novel it was adapted from.) The film was both a critical and box office success with its earnings making it the top SF film of the year. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 26, 1901 – Earle Bergey.  A hundred sixty covers for us, a handful of interiors; much more, thousands all told, adventure, aviation, detective, sports, Western.  He was a prominent – hmm – “pin-up” artist; but look at this cover for Zane Grey’s Spirit of the Border.  This famous cover for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes may arouse – ahem – indignation now, but is very funny if you’ve actually read the book, and if I may, suggests – sorry – the question “Who’s exploiting whom?” and the realization that we heterosexual men have more to be ashamed of than we thought.  He could also do this.  (Died 1952) [JH]
  • Born August 26, 1904 Christopher Isherwood. I’ll first note, though not genre, that he wrote Goodbye to Berlin, the semi-autobiographical novel which was the inspiration for Cabaret. Genre wise, he co-wrote Frankenstein: The True Story with Don Bachardy, The Mortmere Stories with Edward Upward, and one short story in the Thirties, “I am Waiting”. (Died 1986.) (CE) 
  • Born August 26, 1904 Peter Lorre. I think his first foray into genre was in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea film as Comm. Lucius Emery though he was in Americanized version of Casino Royale which an early Fifties episode of the Climax! series as Le Chiffre. (James Bond was called Jimmy. Shudder!) Other genre roles were in Tales of Terror as Montresor in “The Black Cat” story, The Raven as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo and The Comedy of Terrors as Felix Grille. (Died 1964.) (CE)
  • Born August 26, 1911 Otto Oscar Binder. He’s  best remembered as the co-creator with Al Plastino of Supergirl and for his many scripts for Captain Marvel Adventures and other stories involving the entire Marvel Family. He was extremely prolific in the comic book industry and is credited with writing over four thousand stories across a variety of publishers under his own name. He also wrote novels, one of which was The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker, one of the series created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby. (Died 1974.) (CE)
  • Born August 26, 1911 – Gerald Kersh.  He has been described as “hammering out twenty novels, twenty collections of short stories and thousands of articles”.  Harlan Ellison wrote, “you will find yourself in the presence of a talent so immense and compelling, that you will understand how grateful and humble I felt merely to have been permitted to associate myself with his name as editor.”  The Secret Masters is ours, as are a hundred seventy shorter stories.  (Died 1968) [JH]
  • Born August 26, 1926 – Thomas Clareson, Ph.D.  Edited Extrapolation 1960-1987; essayist, correspondent, there and elsewhere, AnalogThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionNY Rev SFRiverside Quarterly.  Bibliographic studies, critical anthologies.  First President of the SF Research Ass’n; its Clareson Award, named for him, began 1995.  Pilgrim Award.  Robert Silverberg’s Many Trapdoors may be the title of the year for 1992.  (Died 1993) [JH]
  • Born August 26, 1949 – Fred Levy Haskell, 71.  Involved at the start, therefore a Floundering Father of Minn-stf (stf from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction, pronounced “stef” or “stiff”, the latter funnier since false) though he later said he was out getting a sandwich at the time.  Fanziner, chaired Corflu 6 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable).  Fan Guest of Honor at LepreCon 4, Archon7 (which for years I’ve been saying should be pronounced Arch on, but what do I know?), Minicon 22.  Note his two-part unhyphenated surname.  Recently, see here.  [JH]
  • Born August 26, 1949 Sheila E Gilbert, 71. Co-editor-in-chief and publisher of DAW Books with Elizabeth R (Betsy) Wollheim. For her work there, she has also shared the Chesley Awards for best art director with Wollheim twice, and has received Hugos by herself for Best Professional Editor (Long Form). (CE)
  • Born August 26, 1958 Wanda De Jesus, 62. She’s Estevez in Robocop 2, a film that had its moments but rarely, and she has two other film genre roles, Lexie Moore in Captain Nuke and the Bomber Boys, and Akooshay in Ghosts of Mars. Series wise, she has a number of one-offs including Babylon 5Tales from The DarksideSeaQuest DSVHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and voicing a character on one of the Spider-Man series. (CE) 
  • Born August 26, 1965 – Elizabeth Isaacs, 55.  Four novels for us.  Runs an authors’ group Writers, Etc. going between writers and motion pictures.  Master’s degree magna cum laude (and Phi Beta Kappa) from Austin Peay State U., studied classical opera.  Ranks Great Expectations about the same as The Time Machine, both below Nineteen Eighty-Four; fear not, all three below Blueberries for Sal.  [JH]
  • Born August 26, 1970 Melissa McCarthy, 50. Yes, I know she was in the rebooted Ghostbusters. Fanboys across the net are still wetting their pants about that film. I’m much more interested in Super Intelligence in which she is playing a character that has an AI who has decided to take over her life. It reminds me somewhat of Naomi Kritzer’s Hugo Award winning “Cat Pictures Please” premise.  (And we are not talking about The Happytime Murders in which she was involved.) (CE) 
  • Born August 26, 1993 – Nancy Yi Fan, 27.  First novel at age 12, NY Times Best Seller.  Oprah Winfrey said this showed NYF was smart, which misses the point, but Errors in the direction of the enemy are to be lightly judged.  A prequel and sequel followed.  Her pets, suitably, are birds.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) MUSIC FOR THE SPHERES. Pitchfork invites readers to “Meet the Man Who Used Kraftwerk, Fela Kuti, and Other Fascinating Music to Try to Lure Aliens to Earth”.

When NASA launched the Voyager spacecrafts to explore the cosmos in 1977, they sent along the Golden Record—and with it, music from around the world—as a snapshot of humanity, should intelligent lifeforms ever find it. But what if the aliens tuned in to the radio instead?

From 1971 to 1998, a man named John Shepherd probed that hypothetical question with astonishing dedication. Aiming for interstellar contact, he beamed everything from reggae to Steve Reich straight from his grandparents’ living room in rural Michigan, broadcasting between six to eight hours every day. He then expanded his operation—called Project STRAT—into a separate building on his grandparents’ property, complete with scientific equipment of his own design. Though Shepherd eventually ended the radio arm of Project STRAT due to the high cost of maintenance, he is now the subject of a touching new short film, John Was Trying to Contact Aliens, which recently arrived on Netflix

(12) CANON CAN NOT. Aidan Moher seeks to obliterate the very idea — “Personal Canons: There Is No Universal Canon”.

I am not the same person I was yesterday, and tomorrow I will be a new me.

Over time, my personal SFF canon has changed and evolved as I’ve grown older, discovered new writers, and pushed myself into corners of the genre that I would never have experienced if not for my involvement in the broad and diverse SFF community. As time flows, we’re changed by our experiences, our values adapt to encompass new thoughts and emotions, and so canon is always evolving to envelop who we are becoming….

Even canon lists generally accepted at the time they’re published become defunct just a few years later, and, as the genre adapts, new works draw on new influences. Just go look at some old lists of “SFF canon” from earlier decades, or even 11 years ago on the web. I haven’t even heard of half those books, let alone read them. If SFF canon looks like a reading list for a History of Science Fiction 101 course, it’s missing the point of how the genre is a conversation with itself and the outside world of politics, sociology, and humanity.

As DongWon Song said, “The idea of the canon is outdated, colonialist, racist, sexist, and anti-queer. It’s easy to say that this is only true because old stuff is colonialist, racist, sexist, and anti-queer, but that’s a bullshit cop out.”

There is no universal SFF canon.

(13) SOUTH ASIAN SFF. “What South Asian sci-fi can tell us about our world” is an unsigned 2019 article attributed to the Asian News Network.

My first encounter with a work of desi science fiction was very much by accident.

During my undergraduate studies at the English department at Karachi University, while idly browsing through a professor’s personal collection on her desk, I came across Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s Sultana’s Dream, a English-language short story set in a feminist utopian world written by a Bengali Muslim woman in 20th century colonial India.

Up until then, my study of literature had been mostly white, mostly male authors, an unsurprising fact when we take into account the (Western) literary canon’s inherent whiteness and maleness, as well as the institutional history of English departments as tools of the colonial project — teaching works of English literature in the British Empire’s overseas colonies was originally part of the overarching goal of “civilising the natives.” In the words of 19th century British politician Thomas Macaulay, “a single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia” (gotta love that British sense of entitlement and arrogance).

… This dismissal of the genres of science fiction and fantasy (SFF) as low-brow, trashy or pulp or, at the very least, unimportant, is not just a desi stance, although it might be a bit more pronounced here. The snobbish attitude towards SFF has historically been prevalent in academic and literary circles (although things seem to be changing in the West now), even as popular culture is filled with beloved works of science fiction and fantasy films and television shows.

But the dismissal of the SFF genre, or the broader umbrella of speculative fiction, has excluded from the South Asian literary discourse a rich tradition of desi works of science fiction and fantasy, as well as the fascinating speculative fiction words being written by contemporary South Asian writers today. This makes conversations about South Asian literature woefully homogenous and, frankly, much more uninteresting than they might otherwise be.

(14) LUCRATIVE FAILURES. Sarah A. Hoyt, who often has bad things to say about traditional publishing, added some more today in “Docking Author’s Tails” at Mad Genius Club.

…But why would publishers want properties that aren’t selling that well? Why not just give the IP back, after they set the book up to fail? Why set the book up to fail at all?

Ah.  Because of the long tail.  In the era of ebooks, which you don’t need to store in warehouses, and which you can have out in unlimited numbers with no additional cost, the more books you have in your catalogue, no matter how little each of them sells, the more money you make.

Say you have 50k books in your catalogue, some of them so old you’re interpreting ebook rights from penumbras and emanations, and each sells two copies a month, and makes you $4 apiece….  You’re getting a very healthy income.

Heck, it’s better than having a mega bestseller.  Because a mega bestseller might get uppity and sue. But if each of those books is making under $5 a month, chances are you don’t even need to send out a statement.

Honestly, ponzi scheme architects go in awe of traditional publishers in the era of ebooks.

And, you know, when I realized that, everything fell into place: why careers keep getting shorter and shorter. Why, even with indie competition, writers are treated worse and worse.  Why some publishers are buying the things they are (well, you know, if you don’t mean each book to make a lot of money, you might as well promote your comrades. Besides, they need publishing credits, so they can get teaching jobs.)

Is my insight necessarily true?  I don’t know. It fits my experience and that of other midlisters. And — if the older authors I heard are right — it explains why bother setting books up to fail.

(15) THIS SCOTTISH DINOSAUR DID NOT HAVE A KILT. “Dinosaur fossil dating back 166 million years found by academic on remote Scottish island”Yahoo! News has the story.

A stegosaurian fossil dating back 166 million years was stumbled upon by an academic as she ran along a remote island beach, proving dinosaurs roamed further in Scotland than first thought.

Scientists say the 19-inch fossil found on the Isle of Eigg is “hugely significant” as it is the first unearthed outside the Isle of Skye, a neighbouring island in the Inner Hebrides.

The object is believed to be the limb bone of a stegosaurian dinosaur, such as a stegosaurus, which are known for their plate-backed appearance and herbivore diet…

(16) WON’T WALK AWAY FROM THIS ONE. “Tenet:  Behind The Scenes” on YouTube is a promotional feature that lets people know that when a 747 crashes into a building in the film, it’s an actual 747.

John David Washington is the new Protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s original sci-fi action spectacle “Tenet.”

Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.

[Thank to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Dan’l Danehy-Oakes, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Walt Boyes, rcade, David Doering, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

54 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/26/20 Down To Starseeds And STEM Again

  1. (9) Otto Oscar Binder was also half of Eando Binder (with his brother Earl) – they wrote the Adam Link stories.

  2. 14) LUCRATIVE FAILURES

    On her blog, Hoyt says of the Baen published novel In question that her “statements don’t indicate that it sold a copy every two weeks (the minimum to stay on shelves) across the US. “

    So anyone ever hear of this as an actual reality? I know that there are books that don’t sell a hundred copies a year that some bookstores carry as they are very expensive and have low unit sales. I doubt some of the speciality genre publications sell a hundred copies a year no matter how great the book is.

  3. (4) I guess they have no idea how long it takes to get from finished manuscript to actual published book. (Usually 9 months to a year.)
    Who had “2020 pandemic” on their 2019 bingo card?

  4. It was twenty years ago or so
    Sgt. Pixel taught the band to scroll

    (9) Peter Lorre, before Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, was in The Beast with Five Fingers and Mad Love (both Horror), and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

  5. Is my insight necessarily true? I don’t know.

    I don’t know whether I should appreciate Hoyt’s honesty or lose my mind that she could cap off a bunch of over-the-top claims about traditional publishing with a acknowledgement everything she just said was bullshit.

  6. rcade says I don’t know whether I should appreciate Hoyt’s honesty or lose my mind that she could cap off a bunch of over-the-top claims about traditional publishing with a acknowledgement everything she just said was bullshit.

    It suggests not at all surprisingly that her grasp of reality isn’t any better than any other Puppy. it’s never that there’s no market for their fiction, but it always somebody’s else’s fault that the books don’t sell. So is born yet another conspiracy against one of them.

  7. (14) Why some publishers are buying the things they are (well, you know, if you don’t mean each book to make a lot of money, you might as well promote your comrades. Besides, they need publishing credits, so they can get teaching jobs.)

    So I guess according to Hoyt all publishers are in the business to lose money.

    And I see she’s still pushing her bizarre theory about genre writers and academia.

  8. 14) I actually read almost every sentence of that–she’s much better at actual fiction than this kind–and am amazed that after that pile of conclusions made on the basis of facts not in evidence and contrary to common sense, the last sentence of the essay still had something worthwhile to say.

    It sure wasn’t worth the trip, though.

    I happen to have the second Shifters book right here at hand, having picked it up at a junk store recently. I enjoyed what I got read of Darkship Thieves while I had it in hand and was willing to give this a shot. It’s not bad, but it’s not exceptional and it is a bit jumbled. I’ve had a hard time sorting out the characters as they’re rapidly introduced.

    I think if she had that 50K and a mule she’s been dreaming of, she’d be best advised to spend it on neither buying the rights nor hiring accountants and lawyers. Buy writing time.

    (I do find it charming that her couple in this book isn’t having mad sex at every opportunity, but is instead waiting. It was done in an ugly manner in the last Orson Scott Card book I read, a nasty little tidbit called Treasure Box. This reads human and humane, certainly by comparison and I think by its own lights.)

  9. 12) I find the “Canon from 10 years ago” list linked there interesting– because while that was when I was just discovering fan communities I was pretty well-read in speculative fiction at the time and while I’ve heard of everyone in it, I’ve only read a couple of them (and those many years later). Which is really interesting from a “there is no canon” standpoint, because I was reading when that list was current, so it’s not just about “canon lists get outdated.”

    14) I’ve seen Kristine Rusch express similar sentiments on publishers except with much more straightforward framing; not having any direct experience with publishers myself I’ve never been sure how much stock to put in it.

  10. Kit Harding @ 12) of the first 46, I’ve read 13 and DNF’d The Master and Margarita, I suspect because of either bad timing or the translation. I think that’s a little higher than I’d get if I went through the whole list. I sympathize with the kid who doesn’t recognize much of it at all.

    @14) “not having any direct experience with publishers myself I’ve never been sure how much stock to put in it.”

    I think Hoyt is right to share with V. I. Lenin an obsession with cui bono? It’s just that her answer is generally “????”, which is then followed by “Profit!” If she had any sort of number sense, she could assemble a hypothetical example, of how her presumed scam actually turns a profit. Instead, she asserts a couple of claims and is done with it.

    So I don’t find her facially credible and feel no need to look deeper. You can’t shine shit.

  11. 0) I understood that reference.

    9) Those who like Cabaret may also enjoy Babylon Berlin, currently 3 seasons all on Netflix. Features a paternoster,

    @John A Arkansawyer: No, but you can dump glitter on it.

  12. (12): I think, before everyone goes off on explaining whether or not there is a canon and whether or not it matters whether or not there is a canon, we agree on the definition of canon that we are referencing, or at least agree to agree that some of us are using different definitions when we discuss it:

    Dictionary.com has several likely usages:

    1.the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art:
    2.a fundamental principle or general rule:
    3.a standard; criterion:
    4.any comprehensive list of books within a field.
    5.the works of an author that have been accepted as authentic:
    6.established or agreed-upon constraints governing the background narrative, setting, storyline, characters, etc., in a particular fictional world:

    (there are others that don’t directly apply).

    I suspect that Aiden was using 1,2,3, and not 4 in rejecting “canon”.

    He writes: “If SFF canon looks like a reading list for a History of Science Fiction 101 course, it’s missing the point of how the genre is a conversation with itself and the outside world of politics, sociology, and humanity.”

    It’s a continuing conversation. Those History of SF 101 books talked to the authors who are found on the SF 102 list, which were received by the authors found on the SF 201 list. Maybe that conversation took place outside of most folks hearing, but they still took place.

    It seems that most folks who are reacting to the concept of “canon” have chosen to receive the “the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art” definition, as if recognizing that older works contributed to the conversation is also somehow saying that new works must adhere to the rules of canon those works established.

    But the argument that older works were, say, “post colonial BS” and therefore can’t establish or be included in an SF canon completely ignores the fact that at least some contemporary SF, in rejecting post-colonial narratives is in conversation with those older works through the very act of rejection.

    I prefer the definition found in 4. A comprehensive list of books in the field, from the proto to the not-yet-released contemporary. No individual can read them all or even be aware of them all, but they all form part of the continuum and clearly, one is better read and more knowledgeable about the field the more widely read, both in breadth and historical depth one is.

  13. 12) ““If SFF canon looks like a reading list for a History of Science Fiction 101 course, it’s missing the point of how the genre is a conversation with itself and the outside world of politics, sociology, and humanity.” Isn’t that true of literature as a whole?

  14. 4) The current Doctor Who Eighth Doctor audio drama series Stranded is about the Doctor being stranded in London 2020. The first set came out this June, but was written and recorded in 2019. The Doctor owns a house; when one of his companions suggests he ought to get it insured, the Doctor says something like, “What on Earth could go wrong in 2020?” That line was dated before anyone even heard it!

  15. Kudos to Mark Olson for the Worldcon archive at fanac.org! Easy to browse and a trove of material to explore. My first awareness of worldcon would have been Seacon 79, because Charlie Seelig had flown there and wrote a detailed con report for CUSFuSsing. That’s when I realized that fan writing can be whatever you want it to be, from pedestrian to absolute gonzo journalism. Fanac and Dave Langford’s Ansible pubs both have some great writing archived, if you dig around in there. Thanks to Joe and Mark for keeping this going.
    .

  16. Steve Mollmann notes The current Doctor Who Eighth Doctor audio drama series Stranded is about the Doctor being stranded in London 2020. The first set came out this June, but was written and recorded in 2019. The Doctor owns a house; when one of his companions suggests he ought to get it insured, the Doctor says something like, “What on Earth could go wrong in 2020?” That line was dated before anyone even heard it!

    I’ve never assume that Whovian prime universe is our universe. As they’ve established that it’s a multiverse, I’ve treated it as its own unique universe. At right angles so to speak to ours.

  17. @Cat Oh yeah, I agree. It’s not like all our children were mind-controlled in the late 2000s! But it was an incredibly jarring line to hear. I wonder if future installments of the series (which I think will all be recorded in or after lockdown) will work in COVID, or if they’ll just quietly ignore it.

  18. @Steve Davidson Re: (12),

    Since even the definition, the purpose, of an ‘SFF canon’ is rather vague / undecided / up for debate, it seems to me that the only reasonable conclusion is ‘there isn’t one’ – or, as (12), points out, there’s not one universal one, though there may be many different ones by different people at different times and with different audiences in mind.

    But the word ‘canon’ really implies that there is some authority behind it – something that says ‘this is the list’. So then an important question becomes, what are the criteria for inclusion in, and indeed, for exclusion from this list? Who gets to decide?

    And that in a way tends to show itself in what people want to achieve with such a list. Some people seem to want to say “these works are Canon, and you must agree or else you aren’t properly educated / not a Real Fan / don’t understand history / …”, i.e., they try to use ‘canon’ for gatekeeping purposes; others say “this is a useful list of works if you want to learn some specific things about how we ended up where we are” which seems superficially similar, but is much more about suggesting and informing, while still accepting that not everyone has to agree, and that you can still be a Real Fan even if you’ve read not a single thing on the list.

    Though in the end, to me, a ‘SFF Canon’ sounds like a futuristic high-end camera … or perhaps the ‘Iconograph’ as seen in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld?

  19. (9) Otto Binder… back when I was growing up, we lived, mmm, four or six blocks from him, at the ragged edge of my paper and Unicef card routes. Had I but known who he was, author wise (I’d read a few Eando Binder Adam Link, Robot stories by then, I’m sure, but that zorkmid didn’t drop — and if comic books were including author credits back then, I was glazing past them), I surely would have fanboyed over — although I don’t know to what end. His daughter Mary was in my year/class; alas, she died in a car accident in (early?) high school. I barely knew her, but her death shook our school for a few months.

  20. In other news, Westercon 20201‘s hotel block has gone live. I have optimistically made my room and plane reservations.

  21. Steve Mollmann says to me: Oh yeah, I agree. It’s not like all our children were mind-controlled in the late 2000s! But it was an incredibly jarring line to hear. I wonder if future installments of the series (which I think will all be recorded in or after lockdown) will work in COVID, or if they’ll just quietly ignore it.

    Well the lead time on those dramas can be as much as three years between writing time and release date (though not always), so a lot of the forthcoming stories likely won’t mention it. The August issue of Doctor Who Monthly has nothing how the Pandemic has effected the Whovian community which surprises as their Cons got canceled as well, and it’s delayed the forthcoming season.

  22. @Steve Mollmann: …written and recorded in 2019. The Doctor owns a house; when one of his companions suggests he ought to get it insured, the Doctor says something like, “What on Earth could go wrong in 2020?” That line was dated before anyone even heard it!

    Without knowing anything about the writers or their sense of humor, I’d be 99% sure that that was an intentional joke, based on an assumption that something probably would happen in 2020— or that if it didn’t, people would find that notable as well which would make the line funny in a different way. I mean, everyone’s aware of how the last several years have gone. If I was robbed on Monday, left at the altar on Tuesday, evicted on Wednesday, and struck by lightning on Thursday… and then on Thursday, still smoldering from the lightning, I said “At least it’s impossible for anything to go wrong on Friday!”, that’d be pretty clearly a joke regardless of how Friday really ends up going and it’d be odd to call it “dated”.

  23. @PhilRM

    So I guess according to Hoyt all publishers are in the business to lose money.

    Im always amazed how little the conservative right knows about capitalism.

  24. @Eli, nah the gist of the play is that the Doctor has been stranded in a time and place where there won’t be anything interesting happening, and so how does he deal with that? (I do agree that it seems optimistic on the part of the writers to think that the UK in 2020 would somehow be a calm experience even if there wasn’t a pandemic!)

  25. peer says wonderingly Im always amazed how little the conservative right knows about capitalism.

    They think that private companies can’t make money unless their books are selling well. If their books aren’t doing this, the market is obviously bad overall and therefore the publisher is losing money. Or if the market is good and they’re not getting fat checks, the publisher is cheating them.

    A Memory Called Empire is 3,072 on the list of Amazon book rankings; Hoyt’s highest rating, and it’s a Baen book (Darkship Thieves) ranks 686,636. I seriously doubt it sells even a handful of the latter a year.

  26. Cat: “The August issue of Doctor Who Monthly has nothing how the Pandemic has effected the Whovian community which surprises as their Cons got canceled as well, and it’s delayed the forthcoming season.”

    The previous issues covered the tweetalongs that started up as fans were under lockdowns and there was coverage of cons being canceled. So in August it’s now same-old, same-old as the previous months.

  27. I was reading recently about Otto Binder’s life. The death of his 14-year-old daughter is incredibly sad. One thing he did to try and start a new chapter in his life was to leave comics and DC and return to science fiction, where he had some success and several old books came back into print.

    It’s a shame you didn’t know who he was back then, Daniel. Reminds me of all the times Jack Kirby and Harvey Kurtzman came to the Dallas Fantasy Fair in my youth and I didn’t meet them or go to their panels.

  28. Kathryn Sullivan says The previous issues covered the tweetalongs that started up as fans were under lockdowns and there was coverage of cons being canceled. So in August it’s now same-old, same-old as the previous months.

    Now that you mentioned them, I remember the Tweetings. The new issue is absolutely devoid of adverts for cons or media shows of any sort.

  29. (14) i’m more interested in the specific accusation that SH makes early on in her article. Specifically, that publishers are committing routine low level theft against authors. She adduces an anecdote or two but concedes that beyond gossip she has little evidence. I for one would not be even slightly surprised to find out that this set of large corporations have been screwing over authors routinely and over a long period of time.

  30. Before widespread computerization, keeping track of when lesser-selling books earned out their advances, and then starting paying royalties took some work, which an understaffed publisher might be tempted to avoid. But now, you’d think it would take positive effort to engage in such fraud (of failing to pay royalties).

  31. @rcade sed

    It’s a shame you didn’t know who [Otto Binder] was back then, Daniel.

    Agree. Of course, I also didn’t know that another classmate, Nancy Elder’s, dad was cartoonist/artist Will Elder.

  32. David Shallcross says Before widespread computerization, keeping track of when lesser-selling books earned out their advances, and then starting paying royalties took some work, which an understaffed publisher might be tempted to avoid. But now, you’d think it would take positive effort to engage in such fraud (of failing to pay royalties).

    Simpler explanation would be that Hoyt never earned out her advance, therefore no royalties were due her. Remember that the highest ranked Baen book by her is currently 686,636 In Amazon sales rankings. That doesn’t suggest it’s bringing in much for revenues.

  33. (9) Otto Binder, along with Al Plastino, created the Legion of Super-Heroes for DC, as well as Brainiac and Supergirl. He was also a guest at GenCon X, the one held in the Playboy Convention Center and Club in Lake Geneva, WI, where he was listed in the program as being on a panel with Fritz Leiber and Harry Otto Fischer.

  34. Those who like Cabaret may also enjoy Babylon Berlin, currently 3 seasons all on Netflix. Features a paternoster,

    If you enjoy Babylon Berlin, make sure to read the novels by Volker Kutscher the series is based on, because they’re so much better and more accurate than the TV show.

    The paternoster featured in Bablyon Berlin is located at the Schöneberg townhall, since the old Berlin police headquarters was destroyed in WWII, paternoster and all. The Schöneberg townhall may be familiar to some people here, because John F. Kennedy held his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in front of this building. The square outside the Schöneberg townhall now bears Kennedy’s name. The name was officially changed a few days after he was killed and inofficially (with students taping over the old name) on the night of the murder.

  35. A Hugo question for y’all. A Case of Conscience by James Blish won a Hugo at Detention when it was first published and later on a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4. Is this unusual?

  36. @Cat: A Case of Conscience was published in two forms. The whole novel won the Hugo; the original novella won the Retro. Weird, though.

  37. Andrew (not Werdna) adds context, useful indeed: A Case of Conscience was published in two forms. The whole novel won the Hugo; the original novella won the Retro. Weird, though.

    Ahhh I didn’t catch that. Thanks fir the clarification. It’s still a bit weird as you note. I wonder just how different the two versions are.

    Now playing: UB40’s “Rat in The Kitchen”

  38. @Cat: The only other similar example I know of (though I might easily be missing some) is that the Foundation Trilogy won a Hugo for “Best All-Time Series” (a special Hugo) and both “Foundation” (the short work) and “The Mule” won Retros.

  39. Andrew (not Werdna) goes on The only other similar example I know of (though I might easily be missing some) is that the Foundation Trilogy won a Hugo for “Best All-Time Series” (a special Hugo) and both “Foundation” (the short work) and “The Mule” won Retros.

    I didn’t think it was that common. As I thought the Retros were for works that previously hadn’t been awarded a Hugo, I was puzzled.

    Now playing: Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders in the Sky”

  40. @Cat: If I recall right, the published novel had two sections: the first was basically identical to the novella published under that title; and the second was a sequel of about equivalent length.

  41. David Goldfarb says said:
    @Cat: If I recall right, the published novel had two sections: the first was basically identical to the novella published under that title; and the second was a sequel of about equivalent length.

    Interesting. I never realized that the novel was really two novels.

    Now watching: an early episode of Midsomer Murders

  42. I said a while back that I would get the 2020 novel The Second Star by Alma Alexander and read it, and I did. Here are my thoughts:

    This is a story of two starship crews, one lost more than 200 years ago, and the recent mission which brings the lost crew back home. There is some science fiction as the basis for the story, but it’s really a philosophical exploration. This book is very much in dialogue with Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, wrestling with questions of ethics and promises and faith, and readers who appreciated The Sparrow will find much here to ponder and savor.

    There are numerous references to contemporary pop culture which I found frankly unbelievable 250 years out, and which kept throwing me out of the story. And there was a really glaring continuity problem with the first star being an instantaneous explosion rather than a months-long burning display. Those who are expecting more science fiction in a story, or who do not care for religion in their SF, may wish to pass on this one. (Full disclosure: I frankly hated The Sparrow, and if the synopsis had indicated that this was more of the same, I would not have read it.)

    I read Alexander’s 2015 novel AbductiCon, and really enjoyed it — I highly recommend it for fans who go to fan-run conventions.

  43. Daniel Keyes has James Blish beat.

    “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes – Winner 1960 Hugo for Short Fiction

    The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon (U. S. Steel Hour #8.13) [CBS, 1961] Teleplay by Jame Yaffe; based on the short story “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes – Nominated 1962 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation

    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes [Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966] – Nominated for 1967 Best novel

    Charly (1968) [ABC Pictures/Selmer] Directed by Ralph Nelson; Screenplay by Stirling Silliphant; based on the short story and novel Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – Nominated for 1969 Best Dramatic Presentation

  44. Simpler explanation would be that Hoyt never earned out her advance, therefore no royalties were due her. Remember that the highest ranked Baen book by her is currently 686,636 In Amazon sales rankings. That doesn’t suggest it’s bringing in much for revenues

    I agree. If she truly feels cheated, she cpuld always demand an audit. Since some of my games are published via Bloomsbury, I can comfortably assume that book deals work like game deals and, yes, its usually very transparent. And if not (I know of one case involving a subcontract in a different country) its relativly easy to get real numbers. So I call BS on Hoyt.
    She certainly thought she would earn more, but barring a hit its unlikely she will.

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