Pixel Scroll 8/9/21 The Wards Are All In Place, But The Junes Are Busting Out All Over

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matt Kressel will have Karen Lord & A.C. Wise on the line August 18.

The YouTube livestream starts August 18 at 7 pm. EDT. Link to come – will be posted here.

  • KAREN LORD

Barbadian writer Karen Lord is the award-winning author of Redemption in IndigoThe Best of All Possible WorldsThe Galaxy Game, and Unraveling, and the editor of the anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean.

A.C. WISE

A.C. Wise is a multiple-award finalist for her science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction. Her debut novel, Wendy, Darling, was published by Titan Books in June 2021. Born and raised in Montreal, she currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her spouse, two adorable corgis, and a small cat who is clearly in charge of everyone.

(2) IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU TIPTOE. James Davis Nicoll identifies “Five Strategies for Sneaking Stealthy Space Hijinks Into SF” at Tor.com.

No doubt you are all so familiar with the reasons why stealth in space is very difficult to carry off that I need not explain… Here are five methods authors have used.

1: Ignore the science

This is perhaps the most popular solution, occasionally venturing into vigorous denial. After all, in a genre where such fundamentals such as relativity can be handwaved away for narrative convenience, why not simply handwave stealth in space and go full speed ahead?

An example that comes to mind is Chris Roberson’s 2008 novel The Dragon’s Nine Sons which sets a China that never suffered the Century of Humiliation against a malevolent Mexic Empire. The rivalry extends into the Solar System, which provides the pretext for a reprise of The Dirty Dozen…IN SPACE! Also, IN AN ALTERNATE HISTORY! Stealth being a key part of sneaking up on an enemy base, Roberson deals with the issue by ignoring it. Indeed, detecting other space craft, even ones at very short range, appears so difficult that it may be best to assume space is entirely filled with a very dense fog….

(3) DRINKING WITH AUTHORS. Joshua Palmatier’s interview series continues: “Drinking With Authors: Marshall Ryan Maresca” – an unlocked Patreon post and YouTube video.

It’s another “Drinking With Authors” interview! This time with Marshall Ryan Maresca. He’s best known for his twelve book set of interconnected trilogies called the “Maradaine Saga,” but he’s here today to talk about a standalone novel called THE VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION. Join us as we discuss what we’re drinking, his latest novel (go buy it right now!), and worldbuilding! And don’t miss his worldbuilding podcast. Enjoy!

(4) VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. The Odyssey Writing Workshop blog interviews “Graduate Arley Sorg”.

Arley Sorg is co-editor-in-chief at Fantasy Magazine, senior editor at Locus Magazine, associate editor at both Lightspeed and Nightmare Magazines, and a columnist for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction…. 

As Co-Editor-in-Chief of Fantasy Magazine and Senior Editor of Locus Magazine, you have the opportunity to read a lot of fiction. Where do you see short fiction going in the next ten years?

I see short fiction as the place where real experimentation happens. Not just in terms of form (which can sometimes be “gimmick” or “trend”) but also in terms of meaning, subject, content. Right now we are seeing more inclusivity. I hope that in ten years a lot of the narratives that are essentially arguments for the basic human rights of different kinds of people, or the beginnings of inclusivity of perspectives, shift baseline assumptions. This will allow a progression of stories from there.

The concerns of some stories are outside the lived experiences of some editors. They may not understand how good a story is because they don’t understand what the story is actually saying. Hopefully in ten years the things that many editors don’t get and need explained will be more broadly absorbed—and, the demographics of editors and publishers will be more diverse—again, allowing the conversations to progress.

I think there will be more experimentation in form, as well—including things I can’t predict. We see stories based on video games, messaging, Twitter. There’s interactive fiction, platforms that attempt different ways to make this work, including phone apps. Accessibility will be part of the key to proliferation, and technological shifts can open the way for new ideas. In the past, there were stories experimenting with hyperlinks. Maybe in the future there will be hybrids of text and audio, or other kinds of sensory input.

At the same time, the core elements that hit people in the feels seem to be somewhat timeless… so I think more “traditional” story structures will probably still be around….

(5) BRAM STOKER WINNER RETURNS. Lipstick Asylum is the next novel by Nzondi (pronounced En-Zon-Dee), an American urban fantasy and horror writer whose Oware Mosaic won a 2020 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Young Adult fiction.

The Scream Teens are hired to raise the dead as the necro-tainment for a zombie cruise, and the eighteen-year-old animator, Cozy Coleman, is bitten by a shapeshifting she-wolf. To Cozy’s surprise, she survives and with the aid of her friends, helps the government stop a human-extinction virus from spreading. Unfortunately, Cozy uncovers a secret so haunting, that her death is only the beginning of her problems.

Omnium Gatherum will release the book September 10.

(6) STICKING WITH IT. First Fandom Experience pieces together “Early Chicago Fandom, In Pictures” with a bit of detective work.

…The fanzine survived for nine issues, the last appearing in late Spring 1937. While some individual club members remained active, others pursued diverse interests. The Binder brothers relocated to New York to promote their writing careers. Fortunately for history, the final Fourteen Leaflet gives us a rare pictorial glimpse of early fandom.

Prior to the wider availability of lithography, photographs in fanzines required the inclusion of actual photo prints. This was beyond the capability and budget of most amateur publishers. In the rare instances where this was undertaken, it was common for the prints to be glued to a page. If the page has managed to survive, very often the glue has not. This decreases the likelihood that the photo continues to travel with the page.

In their fanzine’s 1937 swansong, Dellenback and his cohort undertook to publish nineteen separate photographs, all tiny prints attached to a single page…. 

(7) SPOTS DANCING BEFORE YOUR EYES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Karen Heller looks at Boston Dynamics’s doglike robot Spot and asks several experts (including Ed Finn of Arizona State’s Center for Science and the Imagination) if being doglike would influence the public’s acceptance of robots. “Spot is the $74,500 robot dog of our dystopian dreams”.

…Why is a robotic dog frightening to so many? Possibly because the Venn diagram intersection of robots and dogs remains whippet slim. Humans are irrational about both. Also, entirely reductive. Robots = Terrifying. Dogs = Goodness incarnate.

Dr. Frankenstein’s creature, a monster of man’s own making, is more than 200 years old, a response to the threat of the industrial revolution that machines might well replace us, making human existence seem utterly disposable and meaningless. The term “robot” is a century old, dating to Czech writer Karel Capek’s science-fiction play “R.U.R.,” in English short for “Rossum’s Universal Robots.”

How does the drama end? Not well.

Robots in our collective imagination have tended towardmenace, rapacious will and allegiance to none. With few exceptions (C-3PO, R2-D2, the Jetsons’ aproned Rosey), robots in popular culturetend to be Terminators possessed with the soul of HAL 9000.

Whereas our affection for dogs is overly sentimental, resulting in a fathomless ocean of slobbery drool. We never fear dogs will replace us. We believe they’re here to comfort and adore us unconditionally, despite what some have done to mail carriers. Spot challenges us to hold two opposing thoughts in one $74,500 place….

Heller also steered me to this video from June, in which Boston Dynamics celebrated being taken over by Hyundai Motor.

(8) BRIANT OBIT. The International Costumers Guild reports Bruce Briant has died. He was involved in the UCSD science fiction club in the Eighties. An active convention masquerader, he was part of the group that took Best in (Novice) Class at the 1993 Worldcon for “Chess: The Elegant Game of War,” and Best Journeyman at the 1995 Westercon with “Superhero Wedding,” and part of the vast group that won a Retro Master Award at the 1996 Worldcon for “The Wedding on Klovia,” just to name three appearances. He was Dean of the Costume Colleges of 1996 and 1997.

(9) TODAY’S DAY.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1996 – On this date in 1996, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. as it was stylised on screen premiered fifteen years after Escape from New York came out. It was co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter, also co-written by Debra Hill who  produced it with Kurt Russell, with Russell again starring as Snake Plissken. It also co-stars Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach, Bruce Campbell, and Pam Grier.  Reception was definitely a lot more mixed than Escape from New York with most critics thinking the script was uneven, the film bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a thirty nine percent rating as opposed to seventy seven percent for the first film.  Carpenter has said that, “Escape from L.A. is better than the first movie. Ten times better.” He might be the only one that holds that view.  

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 9, 1914 Tove Jansson. Swedish-speaking Finnish artist wrote the Moomin books for children, starting in 1945 with Småtrollen och den stora översvämninge (The Moomins and the Great Flood). Over the next decades, there would a total of nineteen books. Currently Moominvalley, the new animated series is playing, on Netflix. And Terry Pratchett in “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” credits her for him becoming a fiction writer. (Died 2001.)
  • Born August 9, 1920 Jack Speer. He is without doubt was one of the founders of fandom and perhaps the first true fan historian having Up to Now: A History of Science Fiction Fandom covering up to 1939 as well as the first Fancyclopedia in 1944. Filking and costume parties are also widely credited to him as well.  Mike has a proper remembrance here. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 9, 1927 Daniel Keyes. Flowers for Algernon was a novel that I read in my teens. Two of the teachers decided that SF was to be the assigned texts for that school year and that was one of them. I don’t now remember if I liked it or not (A Clockwork Orange was another text they assigned along with something by Heinlein that I don’t remember) nor have I ever seen Charly. I see he has three other genre novels, none that I’ve heard of. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 9, 1944 Sam Elliott, 77. Weirdly, the source for this Birthday thought he’d only been in one genre role, General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross in the 2003 Hulk film, but he’s got many other roles as well. His first was Duke in Westworld followed by being Luke Peck in Time Bandits, Flik Whistler in The Thing and Lock in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’s the Phantom Rider in Ghost Rider and Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass. His latest genre is as the lead in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot as Calvin Barr. Not even vaguely genre adjacent, but he’s in the exemplary Tombstone as Virgil Earp.
  • Born August 9, 1947 John Varley, 74. One of those authors that I’ve been meaning to read more of. I read both The Ophiuchi Hotline and Titan, the first novels respectively in his Eight Worlds and the Gaea Trilogy series, but didn’t go further. (See books, too many to read.) If you’ve read beyond the first novels, how are they as series? Worth pursuing now?
  • Born August 9, 1954 Victor Koman, 67. Three time winner of the Prometheus Award, his short stories have appeared in such publications as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Galaxy and Fred Olen Ray’s Weird Menace. Kings of The High Frontier which won of those Prometheus Awards also was on the long list for a Nebula. 
  • Born August 9, 1956 Adam Nimoy, 65. Son of Leonard Nimoy and the actress Sandra Zober. His wife is Terry Farrell.  He’s directed episodes of Babylon 5Next GenerationThe Outer Limits (he directed his father in the “I, Robot” episode), and Sliders. He’s responsible for For the Love of Spock, the documentary about his father. 
  • Born August 9, 1968 Gillian Anderson, 53. The ever-skeptical (well, most of the time) Special Agent Dana Scully on X-Files. she played Media on the now cancelled American Gods. And she played Kate Flynn in Robot Overlords. Did you know she’s co-authored a X-File-ish trilogy, The EarthEnd Saga, with Jeff Rovin? 

(12) KEEP SOMEONE’S MT. TSUNDOKU FROM ERUPTING. Newcon Press publisher Ian Whates is running a “Make Room! Make Room! Sale” through August 15. Here’s why —

I’m hoping Helen and I can beg a small favour.

You see, once upon a time I had a library. It was my pride and joy, with a lifetime’s collection of books proudly displayed…

Then I became a publisher.

My collection is now largely inaccessible, hidden behind walls of cartons containing NewCon Press books. With over 150 titles and counting to our credit, the library has burst its seams, and stock has started to amass ominously in my office. I fear that soon we may not be able to reach the computer to work, or indeed the door…

In a desperate attempt to avert this disaster and reclaim our home, we have launched our biggest ever sale; for the next week, prices have been slashed on over 80 titles, including signed limited edition hardbacks and paperbacks, with prices starting as low as £1.00. In some instances we have plenty of stock remaining, in others just a few copies; when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Any assistance you could provide in boosting word of the sale on social media, blogs, etc, would be greatly appreciated…

Thank you. This has been a public service announcement on behalf of a beleaguered independent publisher.

(13) MARK BOOK. If not for his career as a steamboat pilot, that might have become his name instead. The Mark Twain House will host “Clemens Conversations: Mark Twain in the Margins” on Wednesday August 11 at 3 PM EDT. Register here.

Mark Twain had a lifelong habit of writing in the margins of the books he read – and it did not always matter whether the book actually belonged to him. He commented acerbically on the authors and their work – “by an ass” was a favorite phrase – and made other, longer comments that tell us about the man and his thoughts. His marginalia are his “conversations” with the books he was reading, and there are many examples of this in the library collection of The Mark Twain House & Museum.

(14) WAILING. Verlyn Klinkenborg recites a “Requiem for a Heavyweight” at The New York Review of Books. Most of the article is behind a paywall – sorry.

…Were those two whales, mother and calf, aware of us? Yes, I’d say, though surely without the elation we humans felt. Just how they might have been aware of us—what awareness might look like in a whale—is an undecided question having to do with cetacean physiology and the complexities of the aquatic environment, including its acoustic properties. (The most discernible thing about us may have been the thrum of our motor.) How human awareness works is also an undecided question, and not only because the price we often pay for consciousness is inattention. Since that encounter in Mozambique, I’ve found myself wondering: What happens when creatures from separate species become aware of each other? Is there something there, something shared or shaped between them? Or do their sensoriums simply overlap—like car alarms setting each other off—in isolation, without reciprocity?…

(15) IF YOU COOK IT THEY WILL COME. “Guy Fieri, Chevy sell Apple Pie Hot Dog at MLB Field of Dreams” reports The Takeout. Will those hot dogs be made from pork?I’ve been to Dyersville, and driving to the ballpark I remember passing a pen filled with hogs that looked the size of Volkswagens, so it would only be appropriate if the meat was local.

This Thursday, a very special and long-awaited baseball game will take place: the MLB at Field of Dreams. The White Sox will play the Yankees at the filming location for the 1989 film Field Of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, a site that still draws a strong contingent of tourists each year. While it will count as a home game for Chicago, this will be the first Major League Baseball game ever to be played in the state of Iowa, and a momentous milestone like that calls for a momentous ballpark snack for spectators to gnaw on from their shiny new stadium seats built just for the occasion. Enter Guy Fieri, Chevrolet, and the (Fieri-tastic) Apple Pie Hot Dog.

According to a press release sent to The Takeout, the Apple Pie Hot Dog is a play on an old Chevrolet ad from 1975, which heralds a bunch of comically patriotic imagery: baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet “go together in the good old U.S.A.,” asserts the jingle.

They better have Doc Graham standing by, too, in case any of those hot dogs go down the wrong way.

(16) REAL FUNKO POP. How long has there been Funko Soda?

(17) TRAILER TIME. Netflix will air JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure STONE OCEAN in December.

2011, United States, Florida — When Jolyne Cujoh and her boyfriend get in an accident while out on a drive, she is framed for the crime and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Will she ever be free from this prison — this stone ocean? The final battle in the century-spanning, intertwining fate of the Joestar family and DIO begins!

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Paul Di Filippo, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Fantasy Magazine Returns

John Joseph Adams is bringing back Fantasy Magazine. The first new issue of Fantasy will publish in November 2020 and will join sister-magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare under the same publishing umbrella. Henceforth the publishing company that publishes all three magazines will be known as Adamant Press.

Adams has named Arley Sorg and Christie Yant as co-editors-in-chief and will continue in his role as publisher. Yant will also serve as co-publisher of Fantasy—and of the other two magazines.

Arley Sorg is an associate editor at Locus Magazine, where he’s been on staff since 2014. He joined the Lightspeed family in 2014 to work on the Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue, starting as a slush reader. He eventually worked his way up to associate editor at both Lightspeed and Nightmare. He also reviews books for LocusLightspeed, and Cascadia Subduction Zone and is an interviewer for Clarkesworld Magazine.

Christie Yant worked as an assistant editor for Lightspeed Magazine from its launch in 2010 through 2015, and, in 2014 she edited the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue of Lightspeed, which won the British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. In 2019 she co-edited (with Hugh Howey and Gary Whitta) Resist: Tales From a Future Worth Fighting Against, an anthology benefiting the ACLU, and co-edited The Dystopia Triptych series of anthologies (with Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams). She is also a consulting editor for Tor.com’s line of novellas, and her own fiction has appeared in best of the year anthologies.

Yant and Sorg’s creative vision includes being “a welcoming market eager to find new voices.” They will be open to submissions July 1-7 and, going forward, will be open the first week of every month (1st – 7th). Visit fantasy-magazine.com/guidelines for more information.

Fantasy Magazine’s format will differ slightly from its sister-magazines with its inclusion of flash fiction and poetry.  Like Nightmare and LightspeedFantasy will be publishing each issue in ebook format (and offering subscription options) as well as making the contents of the magazine online for free. The forthcoming issue with Yant and Sorg as co-editors will be the first new Fantasy issue in four years.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 12/3/19 The Three Things Fans Collected Most, The Pixel, File And Holy Scroll

(1) NAVIGATING THE MAZES. Clarkesworld’s Arley Sorg interviews Juliette Wade — “Caste in Blood”.

The Mazes of Power copy calls it “sociological science fiction.” What does this mean exactly, and how does this term apply to Mazes? What are a few of your favorite sociological science fiction novels and how are they similar or different from Mazes?

Sociological science fiction, sometimes also called social science fiction, is science fiction that sets its major focus on society and its impact rather than on other elements like gadgets, technologies, or frontiers. This is not to say that those other things are not involved! The term definitely applies to Mazes of Power, which features a complex caste system with seven different levels, each of which has its own vocation, ideals, manners, and culture. Members of the castes struggle to cope with the expectations of their caste identities just as people in our world struggle with the identities that are placed on them. My favorite past work of sociological science fiction is Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which was one of the works that inspired me to explore characters’ culturally grounded judgments and flout readers’ underlying expectations. (The other major work that had the same effect was not science fiction, but the diary of Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book.) I also consider Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch series an example of sociological science fiction, though it’s more typically categorized as space opera. I love how Leckie keeps her focus tight and examines characters’ social and cultural expectations even as she works with the larger politics of the Radchaai Empire.

(2) UNCOMMON SENSES. Ad Age made me want to see it – perhaps you will too: “This adorable Star Wars-themed ad has an ending we didn’t see coming”.

The spot, created by Wunderman Thompson Philippines, depicts a pair of kids working on a mysterious building project. We see them going around town collecting items such as a tire, cardboard, plastic toys and tinsel, as well as a whole bunch of mobile phones, but it isn’t clear exactly what they are doing. (One thing is for sure — these kids are more creative and enterprising than the pair in the Apple holiday ad and their parents, rather than trying to keep them quiet with an iPad, are quite happy for them to wander on railway lines by themselves.) 

Finally, they invite a friend into their home to watch “Star Wars” in the special 4D viewing experience they’ve rigged up — and there’s an even more heartwarming twist that we definitely weren’t expecting. The final reveal is that the friend is actually deaf and they’ve created the whole thing just for her to be able to experience the movie without sound.

(3) GETTING SQUEEZED. In a guest post for According to Hoyt, Leigh Kimmel says dealer’s think it doesn’t look that good from ground level — “The Economy Seen from the Dealers’ Room Floor by Leigh Kimmel”.

…Overall, the figures show a troubling picture that squares with reports I’m hearing from a number of other convention dealers. Some of the decline in sales and profitability can be ascribed to a saturation of the convention market as more and more promoters, especially for-profit companies who have the financial reach to rent large venues and sign large numbers of high-ticket media guests, move into the business. Whereas a decade ago there might be only one or two conventions each year in a region, now there are often a dozen or more. Furthermore, very few of these conventions are old-school fan-run science fiction conventions where the membership can hang out with the guests of honor at the con suite. Instead, more and more of them are focused primarily on media celebrities and formal encounters with them, to the point that attendees (a significant difference in terminology) spend as much or more time and money on getting autographs and photo-ops with the celebrities as they do on buying things from the dealers and artists in the vendor hall.

Because these extremely celebrity-focused shows (often referred to as “autograph mills”) draw such large crowds, they can sound like great possibilities to a dealer accustomed to lower-key shows. However, they often prove to be a double whammy to the unsuspecting dealer’s bottom line: not only are the large crowds not spending on the dealers’ wares, but the large crowds are also used to justify much higher booth costs to vendors, leaving the vendor with a much higher break-even point….

(4) GOING TO THE WELLS AGAIN. Steve J. Wright reviews The War of the Worlds, the three-part TV adaptation recently shown on the BBC in “Martians Go Home”.

…Harness takes that time to create and expand on the characters, who are mostly just names in the novel – in fact, the narrator and his wife aren’t even named.  The domestic situation of George (Rafe Spall) and Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson) is drawn from H.G. Wells’s own turbulent personal life; the adaptation also codes astronomer Ogilvy (barely more than a name in the book) as gay, which attracted some criticism from the usual suspects…. One twerp apparently complained that the story was being made “too political”, which, since the book was written as a massive up-yours to colonial imperialism by one of the twentieth century’s foremost socialist pundits, makes me wonder what he was expecting.  (Again, because contemporary Victorian-Edwardian political references aren’t necessarily accessible to the modern audience, the adaptation takes the time to make the anti-colonial message explicit.)

(5) MCU LIVES ON. Marvel dropped the Black Widow teaser trailer yesterday.

(6) IN MEDIA RES. The BBC says origins are just short flashbacks in “Black Widow: Seven talking points from the new trailer”.

The character first appeared in 2010’s Iron Man 2, and has since then been a significant figure in the Marvel cinematic universe.

The new film, starring Scarlett Johansson, isn’t an origin story, but it does come before the events of the last two Avengers movies, Infinity War and Endgame.

It may not be out until May, but while we wait here’s seven talking points from Tuesday’s new trailer.

1) Just like Budapest!

The opening shot of the Hungarian capital Budapest teases that we’ll finally uncover more about an event briefly mentioned in the first Avengers movie back in 2012.

In that film, during the intensity of the battle of New York, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow – firing off gun shots – casually says to Hawkeye: “Just like Budapest, all over again.”

Hawkeye responds: “You and I remember Budapest very differently!”

It’s a reference that has intrigued and excited fans ever since. But there is a complicating factor. This movie is set after, not before The Avengers. It actually follows the events of Captain America: Civil War. So is Budapest here a flashback, or is Black Widow revisiting it after traumatic events in the past?

(6) DEVISING LANGUAGE. Juliette Wade’s Dive into Worldbuilding recently featured “S. Qiouyi Lu and As Dark as Hunger”. View the video or read the synopsis – or both! Toward the end they also discuss whether there should be a Hugo award for translations.

… In “As Dark as Hunger,” the main character lives a simple humble life fishing, but then her former lover comes to the village. Her lover wants to hunt mermaids, because people pay handsomely for them, but to find a humane way of doing it that won’t kill them. S. told us that part of this conflict came from the conflicted feelings they have about shark fin soup. It’s a celebratory dish, but cruel because it kills sharks.

S. told us that they struggle with xenophobia in the US, where there is an anti-China climate. They want to be able to defend their personhood without feeling obligated to defend Chinese politics they don’t approve of.

In the story, there is a contrast between the village and the city. The village is downstream from the city, which pollutes its water. Talented people seek opportunity in the city, and children and the elderly are left behind. The city drains away the village’s people. The main character has an ethical objection to hunting mermaids, but she does want a better life than the stinking river.

One of the major themes of the story is diaspora, of being removed from the motherland. While, in this story world, foxes can shapeshift back and forth many times, mermaids can only shapeshift from tail to legs once, and then can’t change back. Their children are human. This is a metaphor for immigration and assimilation. One of the main character’s ancestors made this change in order to keep her descendants from being hunted, but in so doing, closed a door that could not be re-opened.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 3, 2000Frank Herbert’s Dune three-part series premiered on the SciFi Channel. Directed by John Harrison, its cast starred Alec Newman as Paul Atreides, William Hurt as Duke Leto, and Saskia Reeves as Jessica. The first Dune miniseries and this sequel are two of the three highest-rated programs ever to be broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel. Weirdly, it has no viewer rating at Rotten Tomatoes, but has a very healthy 71% rating among critics there. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 3, 1918 Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had 3 children. She was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whalen, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 3, 1922 Donald Tuck. Australian fan and writer of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968 which he revised twice. SFE in the form of a lure says “among the most extensive produced since the pioneering work of Everett F. Bleiler.” It earned him A Special Hugo at Chicon III. Back in time, he found other fans in Hobart where he lived and they produced the first Tasmanian fanzine, Profan which had just three issues between April and September 1941. Bertram Chandler who visited the couple frequently honored Hobart by naming one of the spaceship bases in his novels after it. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 3, 1937 Morgan Llewelyn, 82. Ok, so what have I read by her… The Horse Goddess is wonderful as is Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas and Lion of Ireland which I read a long time ago because the now closed Brian Born Pub had just opened here and I was interested in his story. I later booked uilleann piper Paddy Keenan there…
  • Born December 3, 1948 Ozzy Osbourne, 71. Yes, he has a history in SFF films — most of it is in voicing characters though he did show up as himself in the recent Ghostbusters film. His first appearance in our genre was as himself (“Famous Rock Star“) along with Simmons in Trick or Treat (also known as Ragman and Death at 33 RPM. He’s the voice of The Vicar in Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters Of The Herd Kind, and Fawn in Gnomeo & Juliet and Sherlock Gnomes
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 61. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an  editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here.
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 59. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear which by being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated  for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she that bad in it? Last latest genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing. 
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 51. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Doom Patrol  series that that airs on DC Universe.
  • Born December 3, 1969 John Kenneth Muir, 50. I really adore niche non-fiction writers with genre focus. He did write a novel, Space: 1999: The Forsaken, but horror is his passion as he’s written Horror Films of the 1970s, Horror Films of the 1980s and Horror Films of the 1990s, all on Macfarland. He’s also authored A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television which covers the classic Who and yet more horror in Horror Films of the 1990s.
  • Born December 3, 1980 Jenna Lee Dewan, 39. She portrayed Freya Beauchamp on the Witches of East End and played Lucy Lane in The CW version of Supergirl. She’s Tamara, complete with bloody axe, in the horror film Tamara. She’s Sophia Loomis in the unsold Dark Shadows pilot. It was commissioned by The WB and produced in 2004, but not picked up for a series. You can see that pilot here.
  • Born December 3, 1985 Amanda Seyfried, 34. She plays Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds here playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis in In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s living Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • xkcd helps you figure out if it’s Christmas yet.

(10) MORE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. NPR’s Book Concierge filters the year’s titles into many categories, such as the Best Geek Books of the Year and Best Genre Books of the Year. Chip Hitchcock tried out the links and forwarded them with a note on his experience: “Thanks to recommendations from Filers and others, I’ve read 13/63 of the genre books, including 1 I’d disrecommend and 2 I’d recommend only with serious caveats. I’ve read only 1 of the 15 geek books not on the genre list — I know I should read more nonfiction….”

(11) CHINESE SF. Alexandra Alter tells New York Times Magazine readers “Why Is Chinese Sci-Fi Everywhere Now? Ken Liu Knows”. The profile extensively covers Liu’s work as a translator and curator as well as his own fiction, and repeatedly probes the constraints on Chinese sff at home.

…“The political climate inside China has shifted drastically from when I first started doing this,” Liu says. “It’s gotten much harder for me to talk about the work of Chinese authors without putting them in an awkward position or causing them trouble.” Liu usually travels to China at least once a year to network and meet new writers, and has attended the Chinese Nebula and Galaxy Awards, the country’s most well known science-fiction prizes. But this year he was denied a long-term visa, without explanation, prompting him to cancel his planned trip.

In another alarming setback, when his American publisher tried to send copies of his recent translations to writers in China, the shipments failed to arrive. It was unclear whether the books were seized or simply disappeared into a bureaucratic black hole. Liu finally managed to get copies distributed through visiting Chinese friends, each of whom carried a few copies back in their suitcases. In April, when I met Liu at the Museum of Chinese in America, he seemed irritated by the cumbersome workaround, which he called “preposterous.”

But later, when I asked if he felt he was being blacklisted by the Chinese government because of his translation work, Liu deflected and declined to speculate. “I don’t want to magnify the problem,” Liu told me, as we sat in a cafe a few blocks from the museum. “If the authors want to say something daring, then I will honor that, but I’m not going to impose my own politics on them. There’s a lot of room to say what you want to say if you leave things ambiguous.”

 (12) HELP THE PKD AWARD. Gordon Van Gelder says to raise money for the award there is an annual Philip K. Dick Award auction at World Fantasy Convention. This year, they had too many books to put all of them up for bids at the con, so the’re holding a score of auctions on eBay. Many signed books.

(13) UNKISSED TOADS ASSEMBLE. Amanda S. Green, who also writes under the name Sam Schall, says her friend Sarah A. Hoyt used her larger platform to recommend one of Schall’s works – an imprimatur which still didn’t deter some negative comments left by people who hadn’t even read the book: “A Cyber-Monday Promo and a Few Thoughts”.

…No matter how hard you try to write the best book possible, find the best cover you can and present your work in the best shape, someone is always going to hate. I learned long ago from a dear friend the dangers of reading reviews on Amazon, etc. All too often the person writing it never read the book or only read far enough to be offended. I was reminded of that this morning.

That same friend shared a link to the book. I made the mistake of checking the comments. Let’s say my first response was to beat my head against the desk. One person said not to read it because it was a book about a woman written by a male. Yep. I suddenly have a penis. You see, this person never bothered to look beyond the cover. They didn’t follow the link to Amazon and see not only the pen name listed but my real name as well. But, because they read the blurb on the page where the link was listed and saw “Sam Schall”, they just knew it had to be bad — and probably written by a white male deep into the patriarchy (okay, they didn’t quite say that last part but it was pretty clear).

Others hated the cover. That’s fine. That’s their right. The thing is, it does cue the genre and that is the important thing.

Then there was the one (or maybe two) who had a few words to say about how it is basically stupid to think there will be women in the military in fighting roles. Yep, they went there.

And here’s the thing. Each and every one of them were condemning the book without reading it. They were making judgments based solely on what they saw in the blurb and on the cover. Again, that’s their right. But it is also my right to point and laugh (or beat my head against the table).

(14) GENRE AND GENDER FLUID. The Lily’s Lena Felton says we should not be surprised: “A ‘Star Wars’ actor came out as ‘gender fluid.’ Women have been using sci-fi to explore gender and sexuality for centuries.”

Lisa Yaszek, a professor of science fiction studies at Georgia Tech, describes the feminist appeal of science fiction like this: “We can imagine spaces that radically break from our own world and from what we know or at least believe to be scientifically or socially true about sex and gender.”

The conversation around science fiction and gender recently broke out on the national stage, when Esquire published an interview with 82-year-old Billy Dee Williams, who’s best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980). He’ll be reprising the role for the first time since 1983 in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which comes out Dec. 20.

In his Esquire interview, Williams said he uses both “him” and “her” pronouns. “I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine,” he said. “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

The moment was seized on by fans, with many applauding Williams’s “gender fluid” approach. But the discussion of gender in the context of “Star Wars” isn’t new; last year, Donald Glover, who played the same character in 2018’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” said he had a non-binary approach to his Lando, too.

(15) PICKING UP THE PIECES. Pixel-sized pieces at that — “Chandrayaan-2: Indian helps Nasa find Moon probe debris”.

Nasa says one of its satellites has found the debris of India’s Moon rover which crashed on the lunar surface in September.

The space agency released a picture showing the site of the rover’s impact and the “associated debris field”.

Nasa has credited an Indian engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian, with helping locate the site of the debris.

Mr Subramanian examined a Nasa picture and located the first debris about 750m north-west of the crash site.

…”We had the images from Nasa [of] the lander’s last location. We knew approximately where it crashed. So I searched pixel-by-pixel around that impact area,” the 33-year-old Chennai-based engineer told BBC Tamil.

Mr Subramanian said he had always “been interested in space” and had watched the July launch of the rocket.

(16) CRAWL OF THE WILD. “Raiders Of The Lost Crops: Scientists Race Against Time To Save Genetic Diversity”NPR has the story.

Call it a tale of science and derring-do. An international team of researchers has spent six years fanning across the globe, gathering thousands of samples of wild relatives of crops. Their goal: to preserve genetic diversity that could help key crops survive in the face of climate change. At times, the work put these scientists in some pretty extreme situations.

Just ask Hannes Dempewolf. Two years ago, the plant geneticist found himself in a rainforest in Nepal, at the foot of the Himalayas. He was riding on the back of an elephant to avoid snakes on the ground — and to scare away any tigers that might be lurking about. Then all of a sudden came an attack from above.

“There were leeches dropping on us from all directions,” Dempewolf recalls — “bloodsucking leeches.”

Now, this is far from where he thought he’d be when he got his Ph.D. But as a senior scientist and head of global initiatives at the Crop Trust, Dempewolf has been overseeing an ambitious international collaboration. More than 100 scientists in 25 countries have been venturing out to collect wild relatives of domesticated crops — like lentils, potatoes, chickpeas and rice — that people rely on around the world. The Crop Trust has just released a report detailing the results of this massive effort, which secured more than 4,600 seed samples of 371 wild relatives of key domesticated crops that the world relies on.

(17) THE TOK ISN’T CLICKING. More trouble for the PRC-based service: “TikTok suppressed disabled users’ videos”.

Videos made by disabled users were deliberately prevented from going viral on TikTok by the firm’s moderators, the app has acknowledged.

The social network said the policy was introduced to reduce the amount of cyber-bullying on its platform, but added that it now recognised the approach had been flawed.

The measure was exposed by the German digital rights news site Netzpolitik.

Disability rights campaigners said the strategy had been “bizarre”.

And the BBC adds: “TikTok sent US user data to China, lawsuit claims”.

Video-sharing app TikTok has been hit with a class action lawsuit in the US that claims it transferred “vast quantities” of user data to China.

The lawsuit accuses the company of “surreptitiously” taking content without user consent.

Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok has built up a keen US fan base.

TikTok, which is thought to have about half a billion active users worldwide, has previously said it does not store US data on Chinese servers.

However, the platform is facing mounting pressure in North America over data collection and censorship concerns.

(18) TUNING IN. DJ Baby Yoda?

[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Steve Davidson, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Vicki Rosenzweig.]