(1) THE SQUEEZE IS ON. NPR’s Morning Edition explores why “Critics Oppose Penguin Random House Acquiring Simon & Schuster”.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
It is the blockbuster that has the literary world talking – the potential merger of the huge Simon & Schuster with Penguin Random House, the largest publishing company in the country. But the Authors Guild, the world’s largest organization for writers, have released a statement opposing the deal. Laura Zats is a literary agent and the host of the podcast “Print Run,” and she joins us now to explain why the joining of these two companies might be a cause for concern….
ZATS: Well, I think the big thing to understand is that it’s not just that they’re going to have so much of a market share. But what happens when a single company has a market share is that there’s less competition for who can publish the books, which is really bad for agents – which is what I am – and really bad for writers.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How so?
ZATS: There are a – as an agent, I submit to a lot of different imprints, a lot of different editors. And, currently, for example, when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, you could go to auction with those. You could submit, and you could drive up advances, and you could get better terms and – for your writers.
(2) DREAMHAVEN UPDATE. Greg Ketter can still use help, as he noted in a message to a recent donor to the DreamHaven Restoration GoFundMe. (See the November 9 story “DreamHaven Books Owner and Employee Robbed, Beaten”.)
Thank you so much for thinking of us when there are so many people hurting these days. It’s nice to know people are concerned for us. It has been a rough year with the riot/break-in, Covid shutdowns, the assault and robbery, but, all-in-all, we’re in much better shape than most. At least we’re still here.
The easiest ways to help are either ordering books from our website or there is a GoFundMe campaign under “DreamHaven Restoration”. I actually thought it had ended but when we had the robbery a number of new donations showed up and made me cry all over again. I’m not used to asking for or accepting help. But I have learned to be terribly grateful for it once it’s offered.
(3) A HORROR MENTOR. A lot is explained in Odyssey Podcast #133 featuring JG Faherty.
A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG is the author of seven novels, ten novellas, and more than seventy-five short stories, and he’s been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time). He writes adult and YA horror, science fiction, dark fantasy, and paranormal romance, and his works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness.
Since 2011, JG has been a Board Trustee for the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and a Mentor. He launched their Young Adult program, and also their Library & Literacy program, which he still runs. Recently, he co-founded the HWA’s Summer Scares reading initiative in conjunction with Becky Spratford and several library organization, and he teaches local teen writing programs at libraries. In 2019, he was recognized with the Mentor of the Year Award by the HWA.
As a child, his favorite playground was a seventeenth-century cemetery, which many people feel explains a lot.
(4) TWO COMPANIONS OUT. Io9 learned that “Doctor Who’s Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh Are Leaving the Show”.
…Whittaker also confirmed the news, saying she was “devastated” to lose Cole and Walsh as costars: “On a personal note, absolutely devastated. Both of them had to carry me to my trailer. I haven’t cried like that for such a long time. Brad couldn’t cope with it at all. Tosin was like, ‘I really can’t cope with you getting this upset.’”
As of now, it’s unclear whether Doctor Who will return to its more traditional pattern of “one Doctor, one companion,” or if new cast members will be added to the series. But for now, it will be a sad but sweet goodbye to one of the show’s greatest father-son teams. Doctor Who’s “Revolution of the Daleks” arrives on January 1, 2021. In addition, the series is entering production for its 13th season, which is set to have eight episodes.
(5) TOP FIVE. Here are The Guardian’s “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2020”. Some are definitely less jolly than others.
by Alex Pheby, Galley Beggar
The Gormenghastly city of Mordew is built on living mud – we discover it’s God’s body, not quite dead – that teems with grotesque and fantastical life. Pheby’s protagonist Nathan rises from the slums to meet a special destiny. It may sound like a cliched storyline, but the relentless inventiveness and verve of Pheby’s imagination make this book stand alone. Startling, baroque, sometimes revolting – but always amazing.
(6) THEY’RE DOOMED. Does James Davis Nicoll have more pitch ideas than Ryan George? I think so… “Four Stories That Subvert the Cosy Catastrophe Genre” at Tor.com.
Given our recent discussion of such tales, I should note that I quite dislike one particular subset of lifeboat stories: the ones in which a small group of plucky pioneers somehow escape the dying Earth and reach a new world they can call their own. But in the meantime, the unlucky masses who could not make their way onto the flotilla die with their homeworld.
Why this distaste? Well…
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- 2000 — Twenty years ago, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling would win the World Fantasy Award for their Silver Birch, Blood Moon anthology, the fifth in their Fairy Tale series. (Datlow would later garner a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.) If you’re familiar with the work they did with the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Anthology series, then you know what to expect here. It’s fine Autumnal reading from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Delia Sherman, Nola Hopkinson, Patricia McKillip and many, many more exemplary writers. Tom Canty provided the cover illustration here as he did for so many of their anthologies. All of the Fairy Tale series are now available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born November 30, 1667 – Jonathan Swift. Timeless for Gulliver’s Travels – because cutting the sharp nasty parts makes it seem a children’s book? Because readers think it satirizes those stupid people over there? Anyway, great. Other work also worth reading. (Died 1745) [JH]
- Born November 30, 1893 – E. Everett Evans. “Triple E” was so big-hearted and so actively that he was loved by fans and pros, large and small. Four novels, two dozen shorter stories; The Planet Mappers won the annual Boys’ Clubs of America award for most enjoyable book. Helped found the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fed’n), served a term as its President, founding editor of The Nat’l Fantasy Fan. Co-edited Le Zombie with Tucker – what a combination. Chaired the first Westercon. The Big Heart (our highest service award) established at his death, for years bore his name. (Died 1958) [JH]
- Born November 30, 1906 — John Dickson Carr,. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as is his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. (Died 1977.) (CE)
- Born November 30, 1937 — Ridley Scott, 83. Alien: Covenant which did surprisingly well at the Box Office and has a sixty-five rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes is his most recent genre work of note but he’s got a long and distinguished list that includes the most excellent Blade Runner, Alien, the 1984 Apple advert, Exodus: Gods and Kings , Legend, Prometheus and yes, Robin Hood. I’ve watched Blade Runner sans the narration and I’ll say I still do prefer the original version. (CE)
- Born November 30, 1944 – Susan Gubar, Ph.D., age 76. Leading feminist interested in SF among much else. Several important essays, some with Susan Gilbert; their Norton Anthology of Literature by Women put them among Ms. magazine’s Women of the Year. Recently, see SG’s “C.L. Moore and the Conventions of Women’s SF”. Sandrof Life Achievement Award. [JH]
- Born November 30, 1945 — Billy Drago. Best remember I think as the evil John Bly in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. He was certainly booked a lot in genre roles as he has appearances in Cyborg 2, Sci-Fighters, Supernatural and X-Files. He also played the demon Barbas in the original Charmed series. And he was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, a film I’m sure no one was begging for. Finally, I note that he was in the Masters of Horror “Imprint” episode, which Showtime pulled due to “disturbing content” which you can read about here. (Died 2019.) (CE)
- Born November 30, 1947 — David Mamet, 73. Playwright with an interesting genre history. He wrote and produced Frog Prince based off that folktale, and later did a contemporary version of the Faust legend. Not to forget the comic weirdness of The Revenge of the Space Pandas, or Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock. (CE)
- Born November 30, 1952 – Jill Eastlake, F.N., age 68. She and her husband Donald E. Eastlake III are Founding Fellows of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 15. Guest of Honor at Rivercon IX. Reliable, responsible at many tasks. Her help with costuming earned her the Int’l Costumers Guild Life Achievement Award. For one Worldcon she telephoned me about judging the Masquerade (our onstage competition); she was the Masq Director; I said “Sure, Jill.” She said “I want you for one of my Workmanship Judges.” I said “Jill, I’m not competent to do that.” She said “Which one of us is running this Masquerade, you or me?” I think that was the year I crawled underneath two monsters to see how their pipe-frames were fastened. The other judges said I was okay. [JH]
- Born November 30, 1955 — Andy Robertson. A fan and editor who worked as an assistant editor on Interzone and contributed myriad reviews and interviews. He published some fiction and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, featuring tales set in Hodgson’s world, and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands Volume 2: Nightmares of the Fall. Alas they were never made into digital editions. (Died 2014.) (CE)
- Born November 30, 1955 — Kevin Conroy, 65. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series which is my Batman. Justice League Action saw him reprise that role with the other characters often noting his stoic personality. I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. Bruce Timm likes his work in the Batman 75th Anniversary Short Batman: Strange Days which is interesting as he only says one word though he grunts nicely. (CE)
- Born November 30, 1957 – Martin Morse Wooster, age 63. Articulate critic and commenter, often seen here and in Banana Wings, Fantasy Review, Interzone, Mimosa, NY Review of SF, Quantum, SF Book Review, SF Commentary, SF Review, Thrust. Contributor to e.g. Magill’s Guide to SF. Outside our field, see e.g. Angry Classrooms, Empty Minds. [JH]
- Born November 30, 1982 – Zach Fehst, age 38. American Magic was a Library Journal Summer Best Book. Outside our field, has traveled to three dozen countries, hosted Discovery Channel’s Ultimate Guide to the Awesome; plays electric mandolin, skis on snow and sand. “Sometimes when I’m feeling hopeless I ask myself what someone with hope would do, and try to do that.” [JH
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- If only my typos were as amusing as the inspiration for today’s Bizarro.
- The Argyle Sweater has a celebrated jumping pun.
(10) DOONESBURY. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna uses the occasion of Doonesbury’s 50th anniversary to interview Garry Trudeau about the ten greatest strips of the past 50 years. “As ‘Doonesbury’ turns 50, Garry Trudeau picks his 10 defining strips”. On the list is —
PALM BEACH CARD CONTROVERSY (June 21, 1985)
A Palm Beach, Fla., ordinance requires low-wage service employees to register with police and carry ID cards.
Trudeau: The legendary Mary McGrory told me that in all her years of writing columns, she wasn’t sure a single one of them had changed anything. That’s not a bar that cartoonists generally set for themselves, but in the case of my story arc about racist Palm Beach pass cards, the strip did have an impact. Exposure of the apartheid-like ordinance proved so embarrassing to Florida that the state legislature passed a law banning it. It was called the “Doonesbury Bill,” and the governor sent me the signing pen. Still, that’s the exception. Most of the time, expecting satire to make a difference is purely aspirational.
(11) FLAME ON. Hero Within offers a “Comic Con Scented Candle”. Don’t you think everybody on your gift list deserves one?
Are you missing the sights, sounds and experiences of comic cons? How about the smell? To reflect the worst year ever, the world’s worst product of 2020, the Comic Con Scented Candle. Our Hero Within scientist* secretly spent 2019 at conventions collecting the essence of fans and distilled this blend of body odor, old comic books and stale hot dogs into a horrible candle. While not for the faint of heart, it will remind you of being surrounded by a thousand sweaty fans. Makes for a perfect gift but a terrible candle. Order at your own risk.
(12) YOUR CULTURAL COMMENTATOR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] If Bertold Bretcht’s Threepenny Opera were in Klingon, we’d have the song:
“Mek’Leth The Knife”
(13) DOGGING IT. “In the Footprints of the Hound: Why The Hound of the Baskervilles Still Haunts” on CrimeReads, sf writer James Lovegrove, author of the Holmes pastiche The Beast Of The Stapletons explains why The Hound Of The Baskervilles remains one of the scariest novels ever written.
…Yet, as Sherlock Holmes’s closest brush with the supernatural, The Hound of the Baskervilles demonstrates that the Great Detective’s powers are equal to any task, even combating forces that are seemingly beyond our ken. The Hound itself is no common blackmailer or thief or assassin. It is a thing of nightmares, so frightening that the sight of it alone can induce a fatal heart attack in one victim and send another hurtling to his death off a rocky outcrop while fleeing it. It is designed to scare not just characters in the novel but readers too, and when Holmes and Watson at last overcome it, and the artifice behind it stands revealed, our fears are not entirely allayed. This is no Scooby-Doo unmasking moment, when we can laugh as we understand that there was nothing to be afraid of, that the horror was all in our minds. We can’t help but remember that the Hound was trained, and tricked out in phosphorescent paint, and kept half-starved by its owner, for no reason other than to terrify and pursue and kill. It is an embodiment of evil. It is Stapleton’s jealousy, resentment and cruelty made flesh, a canine avatar of avarice.
(14) READ THREE. Camestros Felapton makes me want to read this book! “Review: City of Brass by by S.A. Chakraborty”.
…I’m a bit late starting S.A. Chakraborty’s 2017 fantasy series or, on the otherhand, I’m just in time as the third part of what is now a trilogy was published this year. The novel follows Nahri from Cairo to the magical city of Daevabad where a second point-of-view character awaits, the djinn prince Ali. Pious and idealistic, Ali is second in line to the throne but is torn between his familial duty and his concern for the shafit under-class of the city — the half-human/half-djinn people who are treated unjustly by ruling families. Nor is this the only fracture point in the city….
(15) SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. Archie McPhee calls your attention to the “Lucky Yodelling Christmas Pickle Ornament”, an insidious technology that even Philip K. Dick forgot to predict.
This Yodelling Pickle Ornament yodels when you walk past. That means it’s either a bright, cheerful reminder of pickles and Christmas or an alarm that lets you know when snoopers are investigating their presents. Either way, you need one!
(16) ANOTHER POINTY THING. Damn, they’re breaking out all over the place! “Utah monolith sighting followed in Romania by similar mystery metal object” – SYFY Wire has he latest.
Only days after the now-famous first metal monolith was discovered hiding out in the Utah desert, another gleaming slab has now been spotted lurking near an ancient archaeological site in Romania. Early reports don’t reveal much, but British tabloid Daily Mail led the charge today in revealing an early look at the newly-discovered 13-foot obelisk, which reportedly was found on Nov. 26 near an ancient Dacian fortress.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The New Mutants Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that The New Mutants is a film where one mutant’s chief personality trait is his love of doing dishes and the mutants are in a school “run by one woman with zero security guards.”
[Thanks to Elspeth Kovar, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman,StephenfromOttawa, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]