(1) NEW VINTAGES. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll says he’s “Testing to see if the issue was sf or old sf” by mixing in more recent work like “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight”.
During Phase II, one story in four will be modern (post-2000). I am curious if modern stories appeal to my readers more than the classic ones have.
First up is Xia Jia’s A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight.
Xia Jia is a popular Chinese SF author. Her work has recently begun to be translated into English, in large part due to the efforts of Ken Liu. A teacher and a writer, she describes her idiosyncratic mix of hard and soft science fiction “porridge SF”. I’ve been very impressed by the work of hers that I have been lucky enough to read. Will my young readers be similarly impressed?
A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight can be read here.
(2) JUDITH MOFFETT. Kevin McVeigh wrote this post to celebrate the author’s 75th birthday (August 30): “What Have the Aliens Ever Done For Us? Some thoughts on Judith Moffett’s Holy Ground Trilogy”
Judith Moffett’s Holy Ground Trilogy describes events following aliens called the Hefn coming to Earth and attempting to stop humans destroying the planet. “This book is the record of what happened to some of us because the Hefn came.” writes the character Nancy Sandford in the prologue section of The Ragged World entitled ‘The Hefn on Earth’.
This deliberately simplistic description obscures a salient point. The Holy Ground Trilogy has aliens throughout, they play many significant roles, and yet the trilogy is not really about the Aliens. It is about relationships. Deeply embedded in Moffett’s work are analyses of religion, sexuality and environmentalism. The personal is political amidst issues of human to human relationships, and human engagement with the planet.
(3) NIKULTURNY. If there’s one thing The Traveler at Galactic Journey can’t abide, it’s the 1960s Analog. He compares the way Campbell puts together an issue with how food is sold in the Soviet Union: “[August 30, 1962] Flawed set (September 1962 Analog)”.
Maybe you want a kilo of fresh beef, but you can only get it with two cans of pressed meat, a kilo of hamburger meat, and a kilo of frozen vegetables. Well, why not? But when it arrives, the vegetables are freezer burned and the hamburger is green on the inside. At least you got the beef and the SPAM, right?
The science fiction digest, Analog, is much the same. For the past few years, the general pattern has been for the magazine to include a serial of high quality, and the rest of the space larded out with substandard shorts and ridiculous “science” articles on crackpot topics.
So enjoy your September 1962 Analog — it’s what you ordered…and a lot more that you didn’t…
(4) VOICE. N.K. Jemisin’s Ask Me Anything from August 30 is available to read on Reddit.
[–]droppedstitches 9 points10 points11 points 11 hours ago (2 children)
Hello! (Yay, I’ve finally made it to an ama on time!) I absolutely LOVED the broken earth trilogy, thank you so much for that. It really blew my mind and made me think, question so much – as a story, as well as an incredibly masterful piece of writing. Thank you!
My question is about the second person narrative : what made you use it? What impact did you want it to have on the reader? Any tips/guidelines for using second person as opposed to first or third person?
anotherjemisin[S] 15 points16 points17 points 10 hours ago (1 child)
I used second person because it felt right for the story. The impact I hoped for was simultaneously a sense of detachment that would replicate Essun’s level of disassociation (I was trying to convey her PTSD) and a level of intimacy that second seems to handle well. No special tips, other than noting that it’s gonna feel weird at first because most of us don’t use second on the regular. You get used to it, though.
(5) PROMISE FULFILLED. Joe Sherry reviews the third novel in Jemisin’s trilogy at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book] The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin”.
The Stone Sky is a novel in conversation with the two Hugo Award winning novels which precede it, it is a novel in conversation the fantasy genre as a whole, and it is a novel in conversation with the culture in which it was written. That’s a lot for one novel to take on, but N.K. Jemisin is more than up to the task. The first two volumes of The Broken Earth trilogy set the bar so incredibly high that it would take a remarkable novel to even approach that level, let alone meet it. The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate were masterworks. Jemisin has set an impossible standard for herself, but her control in telling one unified story shows off the skill of an author at the height of her powers. The Stone Sky more than lives up to the promise and standard of those first two Broken Earth novels. Each novel in The Broken Earth requires a moment of centering, a moment to process and figure what sort of story Jemisin is telling – because even though this it truly a cohesive whole, each novel has its own distinct and tight focus setting it apart.
(6) TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK. Matthew Jacobson profiles Salt Lake City Comic Con organizers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg for The Spectrum in “Kings of Con: The men behind Utah’s biggest pop culture event”. Due to a gag order, they weren’t able to say much about the SDCC lawsuit:
In July, a California federal judge, in response to all the bad publicity San Diego Comic-Con has received over lawsuit, issued a suppression order that prevents both the San Diego and Salt Lake Comic Con producers from making certain statements regarding the ongoing litigation.
Neither Brandenburg nor Farr would comment on the case beyond two statements.
“We think they have a great event,” Brandenburg said. “We just don’t agree with them on the ownership of ‘comic con.'”
He added: “Bless their hearts.”
(7) DRAGON AWARDS. The anonymous “Red Panda Fraction” sent out a tweetstorm criticizing how the Dragon Awards are run.
— redpandafraction (@redpndafraction) August 31, 2017
They also tweeted a set of voting recommendations for every category at the very last minute before the deadline.
(8) THE MUSIC GOES ROUND AND ROUND. The Wrap’s Ryan Gajewski, in “‘Simpsons’ Producers Say Fired Composer Alf Clausen Will Still Have ‘Ongoing Role’”, reports that Alf Clausen, who has done the music for all the episodes of The Simpsons for the past 27 years except for the Main Title by Danny Elfman, has been sacked because the show’s producers “wanted to go in a different direction,” although the producers assert he will still be involved in some unspecified way.
(9) PRINCE JVSTIN HAS BEEN BOINGED. When Paul Weimer weighed in on the topic of fantasy maps, he caught the eye of a writer for Boing Boing: “Fantasy maps deemed terrible, or fine, depending”.
(10) GEE, THANKS MOM! And Mother Jones thought Camestros Felapton’s “Respect the Parallelogram” tweetstorm was so tasty they decided to gobble the whole thing.
(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA
The novel The Cyborg, written by ex-Air Force pilot and NASA public relations man Martin Caidin, served as the inspiration for The Six Million Dollar Man TV series
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
- August 31, 1979 — Time After Time was released.
- August 31, 2007 — Rob Zombie’s Halloween premieres.
(13) ANIMAL CRACKERS. Echo Ishii continues exploring old sff TV shows in “SF OBSCURE: BeastMaster”.
BeastMaster the TV series ran from 1999-2002 for three seasons. It’s listed as an American/Canadian/Australian series. It was broadcast on Canadian TV initially and filmed mainly in Australia. I’m not clear who owns it. It was loosely based on the 1982 movie The Beastmaster . (Which also has some low budget sequels)
The series centers around Dar (David Goddard) who can talk to animals and protects them as well as saving villagers from various threats. His has a friend Tao (Jackson Rain) a healer whom he travels with. They are later joined by Arina (Marjean Holden) a warrior. Marjean Holden later played the medical doctor on the Babylon 5 spin-off series Crusade.
(14) ON CONVENTION SAFETY. Catherynne Valente wrote a series of Tweets about a bad experience while in Poland for a con (but not at the con itself) which begins here —
A thread about convention safety & sexual harassment. Now, it starts off harrowing, but ends w/something important & positive. Stick with me
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) August 31, 2017
(15) MIND MELD. At the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Shana DuBois asks her panelists: “Q: What book have you loved that explore the connection between society and technology, and how did it influence how your worldview?” On hand to answer are Carrie Patel, Devan Sagliani, Karin Lowachee, Stephanie Diaz, Tom Doyle, Patrick Tomlinson, Marissa Lingen, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Rahul Kanakia.
The book that I think beautifully explores the connection between science/technology and society is Cyteen by CJ Cherryh. I loved this book immediately and it is still one of my favorite works of literature of all time. I read it as a teenager when I was just truly figuring out how I was going to pursue writing professionally and it opened my mind to what science fiction could be. I hadn’t read a lot of adult SF at that point and I became enthralled by the layers of storytelling: through complex characters, politics, questions of ethics and morality, an examination of power and ego and psychology, the confluence of genetics and programming…all with the backdrop of a fascinating future society that spanned star systems. Maybe most directly, Cyteen is a perfect example of how to tell an intimate, intricate story on a human level while entwining it in large concepts. Since I was still a teenager when I read it, her depiction of politics and its connection with developing technologies in society opened my eyes and stayed with me. The ethical boundaries of science and research she explored stayed with me. The fragility and strength of people’s psyches stayed with me. So much of what was in that novel informed how I approached my own writing and the real world going forward, in the very least because I felt just a little more informed about how such societal and psychological complexities might work with the impact of controversial scientific exploration.
(16) HEAR THE WAIL ON THE RAIL. Take a break from eating pumpkin-flavored Kit-Kat bars and head down to Griffith Park to celebrate Halloween aboard the Ghost Train at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum: “Ghost Train: Beloved Griffith Park Ride Returns”.
Ever hopped aboard one of the family-fun trains overseen by Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum? We’re talking about the not-full-sized, but full-sized-on-fun engines that chugga-chugga at Griffith Park. If you know these trains, you likely know about the group’s popular Ghost Train, a seasonal happening that rolls just ahead of Halloween.
(17) WHAT’S THE BUZZ? The Telegraph reports “All-female Lord of The Flies remake faces backlash as it ‘misses the point’ and ‘women wouldn’t act like that'”.
Feminist writer Roxane Gay commented that “the plot of that book wouldn’t happen with all women”.
In the book, boys stranded on a desert island try to create order and peace while they wait to be rescued, but they eventually turn to violence and murder.
Some have said the book is about “toxic masculinity” and therefore would not make sense with a female cast.
(18) AGENTS OF CHANGE. Chloe Bennet, who stars in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., says she had to change her birth name of Chloe Wang in order to get work: “Marvel star slates ‘racist’ Hollywood over name change”. She goes on to praise Ed Skrein’s withdrawal from the Hellboy reboot
Chloe, who plays a secret agent, has previously explained how her name change led to a more successful career almost immediately.
“Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked,” she told The Daily Beast last year. “So that’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works.”
The actress has since created RUN (Represent Us Now) a group which campaigns for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to be better represented in Hollywood.
(19) EXPANSE. Aaron Pound reviews Cibola Burn at Dreaming About Other Worlds.
Full review: Cibola Burn is the fourth book in the Expanse series, and as such it depicts the next step in the extended story that has been threaded through the books: The first attempt to colonize one of the new planets made accessible by the ring gates that resulted from the alien protomolecule’s actions in the first three books. Or rather, this book is about two competing efforts to colonize one of the new planets, because if anything has been made clear in the previous books, when the denizens of Corey’s universe have been faced with inscrutable alien technology, they make sure to bring their petty human conflicts with them when they try to deal with it. Consequently, when presented with more than thirteen hundred new solar systems to explore, humanity almost immediately falls to fighting over a single one.
(20) A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT. Steve J. Wright has assigned himself the quest of reading and blogging about Vox Day’s epic fantasy novel A Throne of Bones and has written half-a-dozen posts this past week. The first is: A Throne of Bones by “Vox Day” – Preamble, on Managing Expectations. Wright doesn’t think much of the writer either as a storyteller or a technician, and all the posts come at the book at an angle similar to this passage in the third post, A Throne of Bones – Chapter 1:
Well. Basically, in this chapter, Beale is managing to do a little with a lot – his style continues to be ponderous, awkward and clunky, nothing very much happens, and the deficiencies of style lead to the failure of his attempts at characterization – Corvus is clearly meant to be a super-competent military commander, but his laboured and over-long dialogue make him come across as a pompous old windbag instead.
I think that’s the trap – Wright is giving a solid, honest review of something he doesn’t find very interesting. And it’s contagious. When a fanwriter feels contempt for the material he’s discussing, the only way to win is to treat it humorously, because otherwise an audience finds it wearing to keep reading someone taking a superior point of view.
(21) WHEN YOU CAN’T TELL IF IT’S FAKE NEWS. Hard Drive’s headline reads: “Disney Announces Young Aunt Beru Spinoff Film”.
Disney shocked fans today by announcing that it is working on a new entry in the Star Wars franchise that will tell the backstory of Luke Skywalker’s fallen mother figure, Aunt Beru.
“The people have spoken, and they’ve said ‘Give me as many of these films as humanly possible,’” said director Ellen Hodge. “So that’s what they’re going to get. Aunt Beru: A Star Wars Story will show what an ass kicking farmer’s wife Beru was before the tragic events in A New Hope.”
The site where this parody news is posted declares, “Hard Drive is the most ethical gaming journalism on the internet.” Ah — there’s my clue.
(22) YOU CAN TAKE THIS TO THE BANK. Now here’s some gen-u-wine Disney/Star Wars news: “‘Science and Star Wars’ Web Series Launches in September”.
Science and Star Wars is a series that explores, explains, and demonstrates parallels between the Lucasfilm sci-fi epic and real-world scientific breakthroughs the saga has inspired. The IBM-sponsored series, hosted by Anthony Carboni, will feature IBM researchers, science experts, guest stars, and IBM’s Watson artificial-intelligence platform. It will run exclusively on Facebook through the Facebook Anthology branded-content program.
(23) LORD OF THE INVENTORY. I was paging through Think Geek’s Tolkien merchandise and came across a gold-plated tungsten carbide One Ring. Next time I get married, one of those for sure!
But I couldn’t buy a Hobbit Map of Middle Earth even if I wanted to – they’re Out of Stock! (Haven’t these people been reading Alex Acks?)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Aaron Pound, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Jon Del Arroz, and IanP for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]