This year is the tenth anniversary of Ben Aaronovitch’s first Peter Grant novel, Rivers Of London. The series has since expanded into numerous novels, novellas and comics, sold more than two million copies worldwide, and been translated into 14 languages.
Titan Comics is announcing a new addition to the series, Monday Monday: Rivers of London #1, with a cover by star artist Veronica Fish.
The synopsis for this new series reads:
What starts as a routine undercover operation to break up an organized teenage pickpocket gang turns into something far more sinister. A werewolf is on the loose and will stop at nothing to avoid capture! It’s up to Peter Grant and his cohort of chums to hunt the deadly lycanthrope and bring him to justice.
Monday, Monday will see Aaronovitch joined once again by the creative talents of Doctor Who Script Editor and fellow series writer Andrew Cartmel.
Issue #1 of this new arc will debut with a range of variant covers to collect, including artwork by Veronica Fish (Sabrina, Spider-Woman), V. V. Glass (2000AD), and Jose Maria Beroy. See the cover art and sample interior pages following the jump.
The prize, which first ran in 2020 and is founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year and will be working with publishers from across the industry.
The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity, and project managed by Sarah Shaffi.
Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour aims to find new talent writing in the SFF space, from magical realism and space operas to dystopia and more. The winner will receive a prize of £4,000, the runner-up £2,000 and up to six additional shortlisted authors will each receive £800. All shortlisted writers, the runner-up and the winner will also receive mentoring from one of the prize’s publishing partners.
The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for The Principle of Moments, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released in 2022.
Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour opens for submissions from unpublished writers of colour based in the UK at 09:00 on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 and closes at 23:59 GMT on Friday, June 25, 2021.
Ben Aaronovitch, founder of the prize and author of the Rivers of London books, said:
It was really great to have been introduced to so many talented people in the initial award; so many brilliant writers of colour, writing such a dazzling variety of incredible stories. My only regret was that we couldn’t have a great big awards ceremony just so I could meet them in person. We’ll have to do something about that.
I’m extremely excited that this year we’re expanding our reach by working with more UK publishers, agents, bookshops, librarians and anyone else we think can help spread the word and share their expertise with these upcoming writers. I’d always hoped that the award would widen its scope but the speed with which this has happened has been gratifying.
Last year’s winner, Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson, has got a well-deserved publishing deal, and we are determined to build on that to ensure that the breadth of talent revealed amongst the runners up will make their own impact on the publishing world.
There’s still a long way to go before UK publishing is the meritocracy it aspires to be but I’m hoping that Future Worlds Prize can be a small step in the right direction.”
Adjoa Andoh said:
As a black actor and award-winning audiobook narrator of sci fi and speculative fiction, it has been my great joy to see more and more authors of colour follow in the mighty footsteps of Octavia Butler, diving into other worlds to reflect on this world, drawing their readers into adventure, danger and mystery to spectacular effect.
With Future Worlds Prize our hope is to further increase the pool of writers of colour choosing to work in this genre, by encouraging those on the journey to first publication to bring their work to us, to apply for this prize, receive expert support and advice and flourish in their chosen field to the great benefit of all of the readership.
Sarah Shaffi said: “As a lover of science fiction and fantasy books, I’ve always craved more stories told by a richer variety of voices. I’m excited to see the breadth and depth of work we’ll receive, and I encourage authors of colour writing in this area to not be shy, and to get their novels and short stories in to us.”
The prize is continuing its partnership with Gollancz, and is also this year working with all Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor for the first time, with more publishing partners to be announced in due course.
Marcus Gipps, publisher at Gollancz said: “As a founding partner in the inaugural prize, Gollancz was thrilled to be part of such an important and vital initiative. We are excited to work with SFF publishers across the market to continue to break down barriers to access and make this the biggest possible prize with the broadest reach. We look forward to many years of collaboration.”
Anna Jackson, publisher at Orbit, said: “We’re proud to be the UK publisher of some of SFF’s most popular and award-winning writers of colour, but we’re very aware that there’s still a significant need for progress to be made in terms of representation within the genre. That’s why we’re delighted to be able to support this fantastic award which aims to discover and champion more underrepresented voices within SFF.”
Bella Pagan from Tor said: “On behalf of Pan Macmillan and Tor, I am absolutely delighted to be involved in this important and relevant award. I hope this will lead to real opportunities for authors from more diverse backgrounds.”
Ben Aaronovitch was a screenwriter for Doctor Who and a bookseller at Waterstones. He now writes full time, and every book in his Rivers of London series has been a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller. He is published in 14 languages and has sold more than 2 million copies around the world. Aaronovitch is also a trustee on the board of Cityread London and is a long-time supporter of Nigeria’s premiere arts and cultural festival, The Aké Festival. He still lives in London, the city he likes to refer to as ‘the capital of the world’.
Cityread is a registered charity that promotes reading for pleasure and supports public libraries. Previous Cityread initiatives include Cityread London, an annual month-long literature festival delivered in partnership with library services in all 32 London boroughs plus Luton, Reading and. Launched in 2012, it ran for eight years and featured books including Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, and Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik.
(1) WHERE THE BLOOD STILL PULSES – SO TO SPEAK. R.S. Benedict’s article for Blood Knife“How Horror Makes Itself Ungovernable” says that horror alone resists the corporatization of geek culture.
…Geek culture—comic books, video games, sci-fi, fantasy—is mainstream now, squeezing out mysteries, dramas, and period pieces at the box office.
…This is nothing to be celebrated. This is not victory. The mainstreaming of geek culture is artistic gentrification, a way for moneyed interests to wrest control of culture from the creatives who built it and crowd out any voice with something new or subversive to say. Sci-fi, which once gave us visions of the future, and fantasy, which once nurtured our imaginations, have been hijacked to sell imperialism and soda pop. The invaders have won; our loved ones have been replaced by pod people.
Only one speculative genre has managed to escape the Disneyfication process and retain something resembling a soul: horror….
(2) THE TRUTH, OR SOMETHING, IS OUT THERE. The news got George Takei’s attention.
According to retired Israeli general and current professor Haim Eshed, the answer is yes, but this has been kept a secret because “humanity isn’t ready.”
Speaking in an interview to Yediot Aharonot, Eshed – who served as the head of Israel’s space security program for nearly 30 years and is a three-time recipient of the Israel Security Award – explained that Israel and the US have both been dealing with aliens for years.
And this by no means refers to immigrants, with Eshed clarifying the existence of a “Galactic Federation.”
The 87-year-old former space security chief gave further descriptions about exactly what sort of agreements have been made between the aliens and the US, which ostensibly have been made because they wish to research and understand “the fabric of the universe.” This cooperation includes a secret underground base on Mars, where there are American and alien representatives.
If true, this would coincide with US President Donald Trump’s creation of the Space Force as the fifth branch of the US armed forces, though it is unclear how long this sort of relationship, if any, has been going on between the US and its reported extraterrestrial allies.
But Eshed insists that Trump is aware of them, and that he was “on the verge” of disclosing their existence. However, the Galactic Federation reportedly stopped him from doing so, saying they wished to prevent mass hysteria since they felt humanity needed to “evolve and reach a stage where we will… understand what space and spaceships are,” Yediot Aharonot reported.
As for why he’s chosen to reveal this information now, Eshed explained that the timing was simply due to how much the academic landscape has changed, and how respected he is in academia.
“If I had come up with what I’m saying today five years ago, I would have been hospitalized,” he explained to Yediot.
Of course, the timing may also have something to do with the release of Eshed’s newest book, The Universe Beyond the Horizon – conversations with Professor Haim Eshed. And considering all the year’s travails, I liked this reaction —
(3) FELLOWSHIP OF THE PREQUEL. In the “Silmarillion Seminar”, hosted at The Tolkien Professor, a bunch of academics sit down and talk about the Silmarillion chapter by chapter:
Despite its challenging learning curve, The Silmarillion is an amazing set of stories. Some of these stories may be even more profound and more moving than The Lord of the Rings. What’s more, once you know The Silmarillion, you will begin to understand The Lord of the Rings in a whole new way.
In the Silmarillion Seminar, listeners will be reading through the book slowly and carefully, at the pace of about a chapter a week, and gathering together to have an online audio discussion with the Tolkien Professor about each chapter. Each session will be recorded and posted here on this page. Hopefully, you will pick up your copy of the book and give this truly incredible book another chance.
(4) IN A BEGINNING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] OK, now here’s a book I want to read (and have just library-reserved)…
A year or two or three ago, I went to an interesting lecture at Harvard on the origins of alphabets. It was interesting… but it didn’t address my question, and, when either in the Q&A session at the end or while we were milling afterwards, I asked about the origin of alphabetic order, to which I was told, more or less, IIRC, that was a different question. Fair ’nuff.
So, I just saw this review in our paper edition of the December 6 New York Times’ Book Review section (tho, per the URL, I see it ran online back in late October): A Place For Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by Judith Flanders.
A few paragraphs into reading the review, I made a note (snapped a pic using my phone) and have reserved-requested it through/from my local library.
(5) YOUNG PEOPLE. Young People Read Old SFF reaches the second-to-last story in the Rediscovery collection from Journey Press, “Cornie on the Walls” Sydney van Scyoc. What does James Davis Nicoll’s panel think about this 1963 entry?
Sydney J. van Scyoc was mainly active in the 1960s through the 1980s. Although new short pieces appear as late as 2005, her most recent novel was 1991’s Deepwater Dreams. I haven’t read Deepwater because van Scyoc occupied a blindspot in my collecting. Having read this example of her work, I’ve taken to picking up her novels when I see them. Finding time to read them has thus far eluded me.
But were my Young People as enthusiastic? Let’s find out….
230,000 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, Ciudad de Cielo is filled with almost every vice and foible known to humanity. This is a paradise for bent private cop Nicola “Nikki Fixx” Freeman, because it offers many ways for a high-ranking Seguridad officer to siphon off some extra wealth for herself. The system works, as long as nobody gets too greedy and everyone remembers that there are limits to the crimes to which the authorities can turn a blind eye….
(7) GHOSTS IN THE BIG APPLE. The NY Ghost Story Festival can be viewed free on YouTube.
Night One: Thursday December 10, 2020 7PM EST
Guests are Gwendolyn Kiste, Hysop Mulero and Rudi Dornemann
Night Two: Saturday December 10, 2020 7PM EST
Guests Sarah Langan, Lee Thomas, and Douglas Wynne
When the year grows old and December’s daylight departs too soon it is time to fill the dark nights with stories of ghosts and the supernatural.
Welcome to The New York Ghost Story Festival. An annual event of ghost story readings and discussion hosted by Daniel Braum. Featuring authors of the uncanny, strange and fantastic from New York and around the globe.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
November 1995 — “Two Tales of Korval,” the very first stories in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Adventures in the Liaden Universe series was published by SR in a very limited sixty copies. There was two stories here, “To Cut an Edge” and “A Day at The Races”, plus “A Partial Liaden Glossary”. More printings would follow. Both stories are in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 1 which is available from the usual digital suspects.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 7, 1873 – Willa Cather. A dozen stories for us, besides the work of her fame like O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, One of Ours. Pulitzer Prize. Fellow, Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences. Nat’l Inst. Arts & Letters gold medal for fiction. Nat’l Women’s Hall of Fame. New York Writers Hall of Fame. (Died 1947) [JH]
Born December 8, 1886 – Heywood Broun. Sportswriter, drama critic, columnist, editor; co-founded the Newspaper Guild. One of the Algonquin Round Table. Often wrote against racism, censorship, persecution of people for their beliefs. A novel and three shorter stories for us, much other work. (Died 1939) [JH]
Born December 7, 1915 — Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo this year for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Why not? Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) And yes, she competed The Empire Strikes Back script just before she died. Is that the actual shooting script? (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born December 7, 1947 – Anne Fine, O.B.E., age 73. Three novels, four shorter stories for us; seventy children’s books, eight adults’. Two Carnegie Medals, two Whitbread Awards, The GuardianAward. Children’s Laureate (U.K., awarded every two years). Fellow, Royal Soc. Literature. Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. [JH]
Born December 7, 1949 — Tom Waits, 71. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli. (CE)
Born December 7, 1953 — Madeleine E Robins, 67. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Luckstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born December 7, 1957 – Terri Blackstock, age 63. Six novels for us; forty others. Carol Award. Two NY Times best-sellers. “I still print things out and mark all over the hard copies after each draft. Under glass, I have pictures of my characters, with important stats about them, such as their ages, so I can refer to them often.” [JH]
Born December 7, 1973 — Kelly Barnhill, 47. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award. (CE)
Born December 7, 1980 – Satô Yûya, age 40. (Surname first, Japanese style.) Mishima Yukio Prize. A dozen novels, as many shorter stories. “Same as Always” closes the just-released Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories. [JH]
Born December 7, 1984 – Walter Dinjos. This just-emerging Nigerian had a dozen stories in e.g. Abyss & Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Galaxy’s Edge. (Died 2018) [JH]
(10) ROLLING ON THE RIVERS. You Rivers of London fans might want to know about Ben Aaronovitch’s Titan Comics series, the latest title being Rivers of London Volume 8: The Fey and the Furious. (Writers: Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel. Artist: Lee Sullivan.)
Trouble never lies far from the race track. When a flash car belonging to a young boy racer from England washes up in the Netherlands with a bagload of unusual cargo, it’s evident there is more than meets the eye happening at street races held in an Essex car park. Enter Detective Inspector Peter Grant. Fresh from suspension, he takes to the track in his orange ‘asbo’ Ford Focus to try and infiltrate the big leagues. But Peter soon finds himself sucked back into an Otherworld – a real-life fairyland!
They’ve also diagrammed where the comics fit into the overall series. (Click for slightly larger version.)
(11) PANDEMIC HEROES. “Real Nurses, Real Stories” describes The Vitals, a comic Marvel produced in collaboration with the Allegheny Health Network based on true stories of nurses fighting the pandemic. Read the comic here — The Vitals: True Nurse Stories (2020). (I’ll start typing again in a moment, right now I have something in my eye…)
(12) ALIEN COMICS ON THE WAY. Marvel Comics earlier announced plans for all-new comics set in the iconic world of the Alien franchise. The first of these will arrive March 2021 with ALIEN #1, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, art by Salvador Larroca, and cover by InHyuk Lee.
ALIEN #1 will be a thrilling addition to the incredible legacy that began with the groundbreaking 1979 film. Featuring both new and classic characters from Earth and beyond, this bold take on the Alien mythology will entertain both longtime fans and newcomers to the legendary horror/science-fiction saga.
The new story will feature a Weyland-Yutani mercenary named Gabriel Cruz as he battles a deadly new breed of xenomorph with the survival of his child hanging in the balance.
Francis Hamit is the last guy you would expect to write an anti-war play. He is an Army brat who served four years in the U.S. Army Security Agency during the Vietnam War and had a tour there himself.
“I mostly write about two things,” he says, “Soldiers and spies. My background is in Military Intelligence and I try to stay current with how the American military has changed in the decades since the Vietnam War ended. For many of those who were it there, it never did, because American society turned on us and blamed us for losing the war and every bad thing that happened there. We were all accused of being drug addicts and war criminals, and that legacy has passed to subsequent generations of American soldiers. Most Americans no longer know us, nor do they want to. We are there on the front lines, but everyone else is at the Mall.”
MEMORIAL DAY is a two act, one set, seven character play set in a small town or city neighborhood someplace in the USA. Anywhere between Alabama and Alaska. One of the men was an Army Ranger on D-Day in World War Two. Part of the so-called “Greatest Generation”. The others came later. The bar is owned by a Vietnam veteran, a draftee who one day got into a situation that earned him the Medal of Honor. He doesn’t know what to do with the fame that comes with that award, and resists efforts by other to exploit it. He will not even march in the town’s annual Memorial Day parade. Anyone who ever lived in a small town will find these folks relatable.
Peter Jackson recently revisited Middle-Earth to remaster his Lord of the Ringsand Hobbit trilogies in 4K Ultra HD. The undertaking allowed the celebrated director to go back to the original films (for example, The Fellowship of the Ring turns 20?! next December) and update their visual effects with modern tools. But don’t worry, this isn’t a Star Wars Special Editions-type situation of a director going back in and adding a bunch of stuff that wasn’t there originally.
“Visual effects technology has advanced a lot in 20 years and when they became ultra-crisp and sharp with the 4K process, we realized that some of the shots were not holding up too well. So, we got the opportunity to go back and remove and paint out any imperfections,” Jackson explains in a new video posted by Warner Bros. “I should make it clear: we didn’t upgrade or enhance any of the effects shots. They’re exactly the same as you’re used to seeing them, except they do look as if they were done today rather than 20 years ago.”
In doing so, he was also able to make both trilogies feel like one seamless unit, despite the fact that The Hobbit adaptations were shot years later and at a much higher frame rate. “They now feel like it’s one big, long film, telling the same story and looking and sounding the same,” Jackson added.
What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?
Not enough folks know what a great book “Kindred,” by Octavia E. Butler, is. It’s kind of tricky to describe but somehow it all works — it’s about race relations and there’s time travel and romance. It’s powerful.
Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
I love historical fiction with a touch of romance — writers like Lee Smith or Diana Gabaldon. I avoid horror.
The future died in 1999. Ever since, we’ve been trapped in the eternal present—waiting for the other shoe to drop.
For two decades, we’ve fought the same wars, watched the police murder the same people, voted for the same duopoly, and paid for the same IPs in books, movies, and video games. I’m typing this at the close of A.D. 2020—the year I waited for all my life, the way some Christians wait for the Second Coming.
2020, the year forever associated with media like R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk 2020 (2nd ed., 1992). Each day I wake in 2020 and look around to see myself surrounded by the ash and shadows of the spent neon future of my youth.
For those of you who were not there or don’t remember, it’s difficult to explain the ways in which the 1990s were different from today. There are two key aspects of that final decade of the 20th century that you must keep in mind:
It was the last decade in the West in which the analog took precedence over the digital in all fields.
People felt as if we were witnessing the first rays of a 21st-century dawn, one that promised humanity better living through technology.
[Thanks to Cliff, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, R.S. Benedict, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]
The part time project manager position pays £5075 flat fee for 29 days work across one year. Full requirements and details about how apply are here. Applications close November 30.
Here is the job description:
Science Fiction & Fantasy Award for unpublished Writers of Colour – 2021
Project manager Job description and person specification
We are seeking to hire an experienced part-time freelance Project Manager to develop and deliver a new award for unpublished Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Colour. year, eight unpublished writers received prize money totalling £10,000 (£4000 winner; £2000 runner up; £800 x 6 shortlisted) and mentoring. The Project Manager will be responsible for overseeing the renaming of the award, partnership building, management of and reporting to the project team, advisory group and judging panel, and the timely delivery and evaluation of the 2021 award.
The award is sponsored by Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Rivers of London series, and administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity. The Project Manager will be managed by Andy Ryan, chief executive of Cityread, and Anne Hall, PA to Ben Aaronovitch.
Gollancz and Ben Aaronovitch announced the eight shortlisted titles for the inaugural Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award on May 7.
The award was launched in October 2019 when Gollancz, the UK’s oldest sff imprint, teamed up with bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, who founded and funded the award, to champion under-represented voices in science fiction, fantasy and horror after stats showed less than 1% of the genres’ books come from British BAME authors. (BAME is used in the UK to refer to black, Asian and minority ethnic people.)
The shortlisted stories are:
“Blood of the Wolf” by Jaya Martin
“Kali’s Call” by Dolly Garland
“Nowhere more Changeable than the Mortal Heart” by Ewen Ma
“Seeds of Heaven” by Victor Ogana
“The Principles of Moments” by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson
“The Reeves’ Guild” by Kyla Jardine
“The Scent of Cloves” by Dan Buchanan
“The Shape of the World” by Amy Borg
There were 220 entries for the prize. The shortlist will be judged by actress Adjoa Andoh, New York Times bestselling author Dhonielle Clayton, founder of Illumicrate subscription box Daphne Tonge, Gollancz’s senior commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom and Abi Fellows, literary agent at The Good Agency.
The prizes include:
£4,000 for the overall winner alongside a critique and year-long mentoring programme with Gollancz commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom.
Second place: £2,000 and a critique of their work
Five runners-up will receive £800 and a Gollancz goodie bag.
Nielsen’s results for science fiction and fantasy published in 2019 show almost double the amount of BAME British authors published in this genre but as the numbers were so small to start with, this only increases the authors represented from five to nine. These include authors such as: Tade Thompson, whose book Rosewater won 2019’s Clarke Award; physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili with Sunfall, his first foray into sci-fi; and the second book from Zen Cho, who has won both the British Fantasy Award and a Hugo Award. Even with this increase, BAME authors are still less than 3% of British authors published in sci-fi and fantasy, lagging far behind the representation of authors of colour in the American market.
The winner and runners up will be announced at a ceremony in July, details to be confirmed.
(1) MURDERBOT READING TOMORROW. The New York Review of Books will host online a “Martha Wells Book Launch Party” on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. EDT
On the eagerly awaited occasion of the publication of “Network Effect,” Martha Wells’ fifth “Murderbot” story and the first full-length novel in the series, Ms. Wells will read from her work and then be interviewed by guest host/curator Amy Goldschlager.
(2) SHUFFLE AND REDEAL. At the Wild Cards blog, Bradley Denton thinks it’s time for Howard Waldrop to tell the current generation all about how “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway” (which I think of as “Jetboy’s Last Adventure”) became the series’ origin story — “Fifty Minutes Over Manchaca (now Menchaca) Road!”
…HW: Of course! And another is – You’ll recall in “The Annotated Jetboy,” where I talk about Danny Deck writing the biography of Jetboy? Danny Deck is the hero of Larry McMurtry’s novel All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers. And of course he writes Godot Is My Co-Pilot: A Life of Jetboy.
…Anyway, I was gonna do the Jetboy story about the A-bomb for Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and either Lew or Bud (sf authors Lewis Shiner and Walton “Bud” Simons, both Austin-based at the time, like Howard), I can’t remember which, said, “You should talk to George. George and that bunch in New Mexico have been playing a superhero role-playing game, and they’ve spent so much time and money on it that they’re trying to find a way to turn it into a book. You oughta tell him about this Jetboy thing, because it sounds like something that would fit in there.” If it was Lew I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Bud, and if it was Bud I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Lew. One or the other of ‘em knew more about it than the other one did, right?
See, I didn’t even know about this. George hadn’t mentioned it to me in a letter or anything. So I wrote to George, and I said, “I’ve got a story that might fit with whatever goddamn thing you’re doing. You should tell me about it.”
So he sent me the prototype Cut and Shuffle, which was all about what was going on in the Wild Cards world before anyone else even knew what it was. And I said, “Yeah, that sounds about right, I can work with that. But your timeline is all wrong.” See, they were gonna start it in the 1980s, with the world having gone on for thirty years.
BD: Oh, so they weren’t initially going to do an origin story? They were going to jump into the world of Wild Cards three decades on?
HW: Right, exactly. I said, “That’s all wrong! You gotta tell how all this came about!” So I got them to tell me all the stuff about Dr. Tachyon, and the virus, and the whole thing, y’know. And I stuck it sideways into the Jetboy/A-bomb story, and sent it to George.
And of course George says, “When we send you stuff, you should read it! You got all this stuff wrong!” I said, “Ah, that’s your job! You can fix that!”
(3) ANIMAL CROSSING BANK FRAUD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a front-page article by Leo Lewis and Robin Wigglesworth in the April 29 Financial Times.
“Savers at Nintendo’s the Bank of Nook are being driven to speculate on turnips and tarantulas, as the most popular video game of the coronavirus era mimics central bankers by making steep cuts in interest rates…
The estimate 12m players of the Japanese gaming group’s cartoon fantasy ANIMAL CROSSING were informed last week about the move, in which the Bank of Nook slashed the interest on savings from 0.5 percent to just 0.05 percent: 1,9m bells, the in-game currency, can be bought online for about $1…
…It did not take long, however, for players to spot that they could defraud the game’s bank by depositing large sums in savings accounts and then ‘time travelling’ by tweaking the console’s internal clock. The bank duly paid decades of interest, making rapid bell millionaires. People familiar with the practice said the Bank of Nook rate cut was an effort to curb the practice. Nintendo has made no official comment on the matter.”
Fans of Edward Cullen, the brooding vampire hero from Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling “Twilight” series, will have something fresh to bite into this summer.
Ms. Meyer announced on Monday that “Midnight Sun,” the new novel in her vampire romance series, will be published on Aug. 4, more than a decade after the original story concluded.
“I thought seriously about delaying this announcement until things were back to normal,” Ms. Meyer said in a statement. “However, that felt wrong, considering how long those who are eager for this book have already waited.”…
This free intermediate level writing course includes essays, practicals, and 13 video presentations featuring Writers of the Future judges: David Farland, Tim Powers, and Orson Scott Card.
By the end of the workshop, you should have a short story completed. If you are qualified (see the rules here), you can enter your story in the Writers of the Future Contest. The twelve annual winners will be flown out to Hollywood for the week-long live workshop with a full roster of Contest judges and publishing professionals teaching as well as giving you their advice on how to make it as professional writers.
Enter your email address to start the course. You will also receive Writers of the Future newsletters with writing tips and special offers. You can unsubscribe at any time.
(6) 2020 PULITZER PRIZES. Columbia University today announced the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board.
There was no genre work among the winners, although 2020 Fiction winner Colson Whitehead has won before for the sff novel Underground Railraod (2017). Indeed, Whitehead now is just the fourth author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice. The others are Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner and John Updike. (The winners in journalism are at the link.)
LETTERS AND DRAMA
Fiction “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
Drama “A Strange Loop” by Michael R. Jackson
History “Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America” by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)
Biography “Sontag: Her Life and Work” by Benjamin Moser (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Poetry “The Tradition” by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
General Nonfiction “The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care” by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America” by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)
Music “The Central Park Five” by Anthony Davis, premiered by Long Beach Opera on June 15, 2019
While many people are observing May 4 as Star Wars Day by saying “may the fourth be with you,” local Star Trek fan Lisa Donnelly has opted to instead just say “happy holidays.”
“Star Wars doesn’t have a monopoly on holidays that take place on May 4, you know,” said Donnelly. “There’s National Bird Day, Latvian Independence Day, and one of the non-canonical dates for Star Trek’s Federation Day is right around the corner on May 8. Those days deserve just as much recognition as some manufactured holiday celebrating a science fantasy movie series for kids.”….
The origin of the phrase is thought to date back to May 4, 1979. On this day, Conservatives in the United Kingdom published a newspaper advertisement to congratulate their candidate, Margaret Thatcher, for taking the Prime Minister’s office. The advertisement said “May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations”.
(8) NEW STAR WARS MOVIE. Naturally, this is also the logical day for announcing the franchise’s new project. Lisa Richwine, in the Yahoo! News story “Taika Waititi to direct and co-write a new ‘Star Wars’ movie with ‘1917’ screenwriter” says that Disney announced a bunch of Star Wars-related projects on StarWars Day, most notably that Taika Waititi will direct a new Star Wars and co-write it with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, nominated for an Oscar for her work on 1917.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 4, 1962 — The Twilight Zone aired “The Dummy”. It was written by: Rod Serling from an unpublished story by Lee Polk. It was directed by Abner Biberman and produced by Buck Houghton. It starred Cliff Robertson, Frank Sutton and George Murdock. An average ventriloquist finds he has a not-so-average and quite horrifying dummy. The plot here would later influence many other series including Batman: The Animated Series with their own terrifying animated apparent dummy.
You’re watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet ‘Willie.’ In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 4, 1909 — Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula-like figure, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull faced Bombers and fInally the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
Born May 4, 1913 — John Broome. DC writer during the Golden Age. He’s responsible for the creation of an amazing number of characters including The Phantom Stranger, Per Degaton (with artist Irwin Hansen), Captain Comet and Elongated Man (with Carmine Infantino), Atomic Knight and one of my favorite characters, Detective Chimp. DCUniverse streaming app has his work on The Flash starting on issue #133 and the entire early Fifities run of Mystery in Space that he wrote as well. (Died 1999.)
Born May 4, 1920 — Phyllis Miller. She co-wrote several children’s books with Andre Norton, House of Shadows and Seven Spells to Sunday. Ride the Green Dragon, a mystery, is at best genre adjacent but it too was done with Norton. (Died 2001.)
Born May 4, 1942 — CN Manlove, 78. His major work is Modern Fantasy: Five Studies which compares the work of Kingsley, MacDonald, Lewis, Tolkien and Peake. Other works include Science Fiction: Ten Explorations, The Impulse of Fantasy Literature and From Alice to Harry Potter: Children’s Fantasy in England.
Born May 4, 1943 — Erwin Strauss, 77. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of early cons and published an APA, the Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Tell me about him.
Born May 4, 1956 — Murray McArthur, 63. He first shows on Doctor Who in “The Girl Who Died”, a Twelfth Doctor story before being The Broken Man on The Game of Thrones. He also shows up as a stagehand in the historical drama Finding Neverland before playing Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Born May 4, 1914 — James Bacon. He was in all five films in the Planet of the Apes franchise, the only actor to do so. He portrayed an ape in each of the films with the exception of Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which he played a human, General Faulkner. This was the only film of the ‘Ape’ series in which he was credited. He also showed in Roddenberry’s Planet Earth as Partha. (Died 2010.)
Born May 4, 1977 — Gail Carriger, 43. Ahhhh such lovely mannerpunk she writes! I think I first noticed her with the start of the Finishing School series which she started off with Etiquette & Espionage some six years ago. Moirai Cook does a delightful job of the audiobooks so I recommend that you check them out. I also love the two novellas in her Supernatural Society series as well.
Nick Frost and Simon Pegg’s UK-based production company, Stolen Picture, has optioned the rights to Ben Aaronovitch’s best-selling novel series Rivers of London.
Aaronovitch is currently working on the adaption of the first novel, also named Rivers of London. He will also serve as an Executive Producer on the series alongside Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Stolen Picture CEO, Miles Ketley.
A Sunday Times best-seller, Rivers of London was first published in 2011, earning Aaronovitch a nomination in the New Writer of The Year category at the National Book Awards in 2011 and has spawned a popular graphic novel series. Each subsequent novel has also charted in the Sunday Times Top Ten Best-Seller list.
The crime/supernatural crossover follows the adventures of Peter Grant, a young mixed race police officer who, following an encounter with a ghost finds himself working for The Folly, a secret Scotland Yard department that deals with supernatural crime. The Times described Rivers of London as “an incredibly fast-moving magical joyride for grown-ups”.The Rivers of London franchise has been published in more than 15 languages and, to date, has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
“Nick Frost and Simon Pegg asked me if I wanted to make Rivers of London with them – you think I was going to say no? Stolen Picture have a reputation for making creator led TV with the minimum of corporate bollocks and the maximum of fun. It’s an opportunity I would be bonkers to say no to” says Ben Aaronovitch.
[Mark] Hamill will portray an ancient vampire in Jemaine Clement‘s FX series What We Do in the Shadows and EW has your first look at the character — fangs and all. The episode titled “On the Run,” set to air May 13, will introduce a vengeful enemy from Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) past who appears without warning to settle a personal debt. This causes Laszlo to flee his home and go into hiding.
…I should be clear and up front about something: I may be a somewhat biased reviewer in a regard, but not in the way that you might think. You see, good reader, I am a relation but not a direct descendant of Charles Dickens, so that a novel where his literary creation escapes into the real world was and is always one I would be extremely interested in. I’ve read and been interested in Dickens’ work from a young age. His work has always been part of my life.
I can happily report that this novel is extremely literate and considerate with the work of Dickens, what it means and where it comes from. The novel feels like the author’s own coming to terms with Dickens’ work in a real and palpable way, as well as Victoriana and Edwardiana in a real and palpable way.
Susan and Kitty are schooling you on the Top 10 Fictional Schools in pop culture. From prestigious prep academies to borderline lethal boarding schools, which esteemed educational institutions will make the grade?
For example —
2. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Located at 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester County, New York, this school for mutants has gone by many names- Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Youngsters, the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, X-Haven, and most currently the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach.
This school provides a safe place for young mutants to receive education both in traditional schooling and also the control and understanding of their powers. Kitty Pryde is currently the headmistress. The school motto is “Mutatis Mutandis” meaning “once the necessary changes have been made”.
Scientists have discovered a microbe that completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria.
The team in Kenya and the UK say the finding has “enormous potential” to control the disease.
Malaria is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes, so protecting them could in turn protect people.
The researchers are now investigating whether they can release infected mosquitoes into the wild, or use spores to suppress the disease.
…”The data we have so far suggest it is 100% blockage, it’s a very severe blockage of malaria,” Dr Jeremy Herren, from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya told the BBC.
He added: “It will come as a quite a surprise. I think people will find that a real big breakthrough.”
…General Mills took to Instagram to reveal its newest creation. As described on the packaging, the cereal consists of sweetened corn puffs with marshmallows. All of the green marshmallows are in the shape of The Child’s head, which is reason enough to give this bite a shot, if you ask us.
[Thanks to JJ, Darrah Chavey, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
(1) FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND. Vaught Contemporary Ballet once again will perform Dune, The Ballet on November 2 at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, which is outside Baltimore.
Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, is widely recognized as the best selling science fiction novel of all time. It’s exploration of politics, religion, sexism, and ecology against an interstellar backdrop, allows the reader a reflection on the human condition in the modern era. Herbert’s Fremen of Arrakis provide a counterpoint to a culture consumed by avarice – the desire for melange.
Join us as we interpret this classic science fiction story through the art of ballet. Movement will be on full display in its varied definitions as we follow Paul Atreides in his rise to power as both royalty and the prophet of the Fremen.
The Baltimore Sun previewed another performance this summer:
…Katie Vaught of Vaught Contemporary Ballet has choreographed a piece that follows Paul through his many tribulations. It will feature parts of the soundtrack from David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation scored by Toto, as well as tracks from 2013 documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune.” Though it is meant to stand alone as a ballet and to be accessible to anyone, those who have read the novel will understand the plotline clearly and pick up on references to the book.
(2) NEOLOGOS. Slate’s Laura Spinney, in “Tongue
Twisters”, shows why “Invented
languages—or conlangs—have a scientific and cultural impact far beyond Klingon.”
The recent proliferation of conlangs has been driven by the internet, as resources became more accessible and people who were initially ashamed of a nerdy pastime discovered like-minded others and came together in online communities. That in turn meant that producers of sci-fi movies and TV series knew where to turn when they wanted a now obligatory alien-sounding conlang built, and some conlangers—like David Peterson, the inventor of Game of Thrones’ Dothraki—have turned professional. There is another category of conlangers, however, who couple their love of linguistic creativity with serious scientific investigation.
The highly anticipated movie “The Rise of Skywalker” (in theaters Dec. 20) promises major battles between good guys and bad, but before that the new novel “Resistance Reborn” (Del Rey Books, out Nov. 5) acts as an important bridge between films. It picks up immediately after “Last Jedi.” Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac in the movies) has been tasked to reunite with his Black Squadron, while Leia is aboard the Millennium Falcon trying desperately to reach their allies.
Writing Leia “was an honor and a gift,” says author Rebecca Roanhorse, adding that the late Carrie Fisher‘s heroine “was really my way into the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Her continued leadership and strength in the face of loss and grief was a great inspiration for understanding not only her character but Poe, Finn and Rey, as well.
“I remember the first time I wrote, ‘Leia said’ or ‘Leia laughed.’ I definitely got a bit choked up. That’s when this fantastic journey all became real.”…
While many Expanded Universe novels exist at the edges of the Star Wars galaxy, Resistance Reborn feels like a vital next step in the saga. While the Resistance’s dire position was made patently obvious at the end of The Last Jedi, Roanhorse hammers the point home: the movement is down to its last people, and if they’re found, they’ll be snuffed out completely by the First Order’s stormtroopers. While the odds are certainly against them, the narrative feels like an inherently optimistic one, despite it all. (You know how these rebels react to being told the odds.) It feels particularly pressingly relevant in our world of 2019, a time when mass protests against oppressive governments are raging in the streets of Chile and Hong Kong.
Dear Auntie Deborah: Help! My characters have gone amok and won’t follow the plot of my book! What can I do to whip them into shape?
— A Frustrated Author
Dear Frustrated: The short (but brutal) answer is that your characters behave the way you created them. Their histories, personalities, goals, and motivations are all part of that creation. So if you — like so many of us! — find your characters resisting the demands of the plot or going off on their own adventures, it’s time to take a step back and delve deeper into what’s on the page and what’s in your creative imagination that isn’t explicit but nonetheless exerts a powerful influence over the character’s behavior….
If you binge read or watch something, it will seep into the writing you are producing at the moment, which may or may not be a good thing.
Carpe Glitter by Cat
Rambo was released by Meerkat Press on
What do you do when someone else’s past forces itself on your own life? Sorting through the piles left behind by a grandmother who was both a stage magician and a hoarder, Persephone Aim finds a magical artifact from World War II that has shaped her family history. Faced with her mother’s desperate attempt to take the artifact for herself, Persephone must decide whether to hold onto the past—or use it to reshape her future.
[JH]: “Late Returns” is sort of a soft, sentimental fantasy, and I think that’s probably my favorite in the collection too, that and “You Are Released.”
I do think I think you’re right that there’s a wider, wider range of genres. I was actually surprised at how much Bradbury is in the book. I didn’t realize it until I was writing the introduction and going through the stories. But “By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain” feels a little bit like a rip on Bradbury’s classic tale “The Fog Horn,” about a prehistoric monster falling in love with a lighthouse. “Faun” is about men who go to a farmhouse in Maine who slip through a tiny door and enter a Narnia-like world called Palomino, full of orcs and trolls and fauns. They’ve gone their ton to shoot Fauns and to shoot orcs, and bring home ahead, you know, a trophy head for the wall. That story has a little bit of C.S. Lewis and a little bit of Hemingway in it. But a lot of Bradbury, a lot of “Sound of Thunder.”
(7) RIVERS OF LONDON GRAPHIC NOVEL. Titan Comics will
release Rivers of London: Action at a Distance, a 112-page graphic
novel, on November 13. Authors: Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch; Artists: Brian
Williamson, Stefani Renne; Cover artist: Anna Dittmann.
A new story in the bestselling cops-and-wizards series Rivers Of London, from chart-topping author Ben Aaronovitch! Uncover the secret World War II history of Peter Grant’s fan-favorite mentor, the mysterious Nightingale. When a serial killer with strange powers arrives on the streets of London, an old soldier remembers the man who mastered the occult at the height of World War II!
October 30, 1938 — The broadcast of Orson Welles’ radio drama, War of the Worlds, caused a national panic.
October 30, 1974 — Invasion From Inner Earth premiered. The film, also known as Hell Fire and They, starred Paul Bentzen and Debbi Pick. It has an audience rating of 0% at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 30, 1896 — Ruth Gordon. You’ll likely best remember her as Minnie Castevet in Rosemary’s Baby. (Trust me, you don’t need to see Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby.) she’s quite excellent as Cecilia Weiss in The Great Houdini, and that pretty much sums up her genre work save Voyage of the Rock Aliens which keeps giving the giggles. Serious giggles. (Died 1985.)
Born October 30, 1923 — William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek, he was Trelane and in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He had one-offs in the Six-Million Dollar Man, Wild Wild West and The Next Step Beyond. (Died 2011.)
Born October 30, 1951 — Harry Hamlin. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island.
Born October 30, 1972 — Jessica Hynes, 47. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nature” and “ The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and “Drop Dead” episodes.
Born October 30, 1980 — Sarah Carter, 39. She’s known for her recurring role as Alicia Baker in Smallville, and Maggie in Falling Skies. She was on The Flash in a recurring role as Grace Gibbons who was The Cicada.
Born October 30, 1981 — Fiona Dourif, 37. Her longest running SFF role is as Bart Curlish in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. She’s played Nica Pierce in two of the Chucky horror films, and she’s Good Leader Tavis on The Purge, an ongoing horror series.
In his debut feature (made for Roger Corman’s American International Pictures), Peter Bogdanovich brilliantly cast Boris Karloff (who owed Corman two days of shooting from a previous project) as a worn-out horror film icon only a few steps removed from his real life persona. He then split the narrative with a seemingly unrelated story about a clean-cut young man (inspired by real life mass murderer Charles Whitman) who randomly embarks upon a mass shooting spree. Eventually, the dual narratives do intersect, resulting in a profoundly disturbing statement about the nature of idealized horror versus the banality of the real thing. In the decades since, Targets has grown even more prescient and unnerving.
Halloween is just days away — and with “Joker” smashing box-office records, it seems inevitable that throngs of film fans will dress as killer clowns for the festivities that await.
But in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy, anti-government protests have stretched on for four months, the mask of the Joker holds greater weight — and reveals a divide between some protesters who see themselves reflected in him, and others who are horrified at the comparison.
[…] Viewers on social media point out that both Gotham and Hong Kong are home to groups of discontented people who feel abandoned by their government and a rich elite. In the movie, Gotham citizens and police officers fight in a subway station, an eerie echo of such scuffles in Hong Kong’s own stations. At the end of the film, rioters vandalize parts of the city, with what appears to be smoke or gas drifting through the air — similar to the tear gas, graffiti and smashed glass that have become routine in Hong Kong.
[…] Despite their best efforts, however, these Joker fans are not making headway within the protest movement — rather, many more are trying to distance themselves from the film. Posts that draw these comparisons are often heavily downvoted, with comments urging the community not to aspire towards the Joker.
[…] “Please don’t make the Joker into a leader of the resistance,” the post read. “(The movie) is really good. But at this moment, it is dangerous, and the danger lies in the fact that people may interpret it intentionally or unintentionally into the current situation in Hong Kong.”
…Unless you’re specifically looking to write an allegory, you have to actively avoid making your species and characters allegorical or symbols or stand-ins for something. It’s rather patronizing at best and can get offensive at worst. (FYI, we’re not dealing with allegory in this post.)
(14) MILESTONE. Right on schedule…
(15) GETTING READY FOR THE HOLIDAY. Jeff VanderMeer is
crowdsourcing costume ideas.
Now, you’ve probably already dressed as Harry, Ron, and/or Hermione for at least one Halloween celebration, so it’s time to really up your fandom game. As a lifelong Potterhead and Seventeen‘s official HP expert, I am uniquely qualified to help you on this magical Halloween-related journey.
Scientists have pinpointed the homeland of all humans alive today to a region south of the Zambezi River.
The area is now dominated by salt pans, but was once home to an enormous lake, which may have been our ancestral heartland 200,000 years ago.
Our ancestors settled for 70,000 years, until the local climate changed, researchers have proposed.
They began to move on as fertile green corridors opened up, paving the way for future migrations out of Africa.
“It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago,” said Prof Vanessa Hayes, a geneticist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
“What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John A Arkansawyer, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Rich Horton.]
(1) CHANGES TO NY TIMES BESTSELLER LISTS. Publishers
Weekly reports “‘NYT’
Shifts Its Lists Again”. Mass market paperbacks and graphic books will
be tracked again, and middle grade paperback and YA paperback lists will debut.
After cutting the mass market paperback and graphic novel/manga lists in 2017, the Times‘ Best Sellers team will again track mass market paperback sales, as well as debut a combined list for graphic books, which will include fiction, nonfiction, children’s, adults, and manga. Two new monthly children’s lists, middle grade paperback and young adult paperback, will debut as well. (The Times retired its middle grade e-book and young adult e-book lists in 2017.) In addition, the Times will cut its science and sports lists, explaining that “the titles on those lists are frequently represented on current nonfiction lists.” The changes are effective October 2 online and October 20 in print.
The Times has already cut back its print lists on the combined print/e-book and print hardcover lists to 10 titles, from 15, although the online lists will continue to show 15 titles. A representative of the paper said that the change “was made for design reasons, specifically to improve the readability of the lists in print.”
Barbara Krasnoff is the author of over 35 short stories, including “Sabbath Wine,” which was a finalist for the Nebula Award, and recently published a mosaic novel titled The History of Soul 2065. She’s also responsible for a series of captioned photos that can be found under the hashtag #TheirBackstories.
Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of the Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp and its sequel, Latchkey. Her next novel, Firebreak, is due out from Saga in 2020. She can be found online at nicolekornherstace.com or on Twitter @wirewalking.
The event begins 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just
off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)
New York, NY.
(3) SUNDAY IN THE PARK. Last Sunday at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Andrew Porter took this photo of the Dell Magazines booth which was hosted by Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams and her daughter.
(4) NEW AWARD PROMOTES DIVERSE SFF. Gollancz
and author Ben Aaronovitch are launching a writing prize championing under-represented voices in science fiction,
fantasy and horror after stats showed less than 1% of the genres’ books
come from British BAME authors. (BAME is used in the UK to refer to black, Asian and minority ethnic
Submissions for the
Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award will
be taken from October 1, 2019 until January 31, 2020 — 5,000
to 10,000 words consisting of either a self-contained short story or the
opening of a novel that fits into the scifi, fantasy or horror genres
The prizes include:
£4,000 for the overall winner alongside a critique and year-long mentoring programme with Gollancz commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom.
Second place: £2,000 and a critique of their work
Five runners-up will receive £800 and a Gollancz goodie bag.
Gollancz publisher Anne Clarke said:
The current lack of representation in science fiction and fantasy is no secret and it has to change. As modern speculative fiction publishers, we at Gollancz have a responsibility not just to say our doors are open, but to actively seek out and support writers whose backgrounds and experience have historically been – and still are – under-represented in our genre. I hope this award will encourage writers who have perhaps not always felt welcome in the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing and I’m looking forward to discovering exciting new writing talent within the submissions.
It’s Hollywood logic to try bleed more money from a stone. Whenever there’s a successful franchise, it’s natural for studios to stay safe and invest in more of the same product and produce as many sequels, prequels, TV shows, and reboots of the property. However, every so often, Tinseltown fails to catch lighting in a bottle a second time. Not every movie deserves 815 more iterations of the same story.
the middle of the list is —
Long before DCEU fans bemoaned the current DC movies, they were (rightfully) bailing on another one. Somehow, DC was able to zap all of the fun and sultriness out of Selina Kyle for the long-gestating Catwoman movie, which starred Oscar winner Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, and Benjamin Bratt. All in all, not a bad trio. So what went wrong?
First, the entire origins of a cat burglar/vixen are heaved out the window and replaced with an Egyptian Cat Mythology. That mythology would have worked if it was a little more thought out and the movie itself wasn’t just an excuse to feature the gorgeous Berry in as little clothing as possible.
…Steampunk is not exactly something you would associate with Papenburg, even though the steamship MV Liemba a.k.a. Graf Goetzen, which starred in The African Queen as the German gunboat Königin Luise, was built here in 1913. Therefore, I was very surprised to learn that Papenburg not only has an active Steampunk community, but also hosts Steamfest, a Steampunk festival which took place for the second time in 2019. And since Papenburg is only about 114 kilometres away, I of course decided to pay Steamfest a visit.
Magic as revenge, retaliation, or retribution is the theme of many of September’s best short speculative fiction stories. There are some new authors on this list alongside some very well-known names, yet no matter where they are career-wise, the stories they’ve written have left a mark on this world. Here are some of the ten best science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories I read in September.
The contributing authors include Kameron Hurley, Mur
Lafferty Patrice Sarath, Wendy Wagner, Julie C Day, Paul Jessup, Jamie Mason,
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Ross Lockhart, Karen Bovenmyer, with open submissions to
It used to be if someone wanted to mug you, they had to look you in the face and make a threat. Not anymore. Hackers can wipe a bank account without ever having to risk drawing blood. Bad people use technology for personal gain. Nothing’s new about that. What is new is the ways technology opens up opportunities for exploitation.
New technology is coming on-line all the time, creating new opportunities for creative criminals and dissidents. Stolen elections, companies held hostage by hackers, and acts of terror have all been committed with technology that didn’t exist a few short years ago.
Join leading edge speculative fiction authors on an exciting walk into darkness where people and machines plunder, cheat, kill, and steal in ways we can’t even imagine with tools that may not even exist, yet. But, they’re coming.
(9) SATIRE ON TWO WHEELS. Remember Knight
Rider? Well, here’s David Hasselhoff in Moped Rider…
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 27, 1958 — In Italy, The Day the Sky Exploded (Italian: La morte viene dallo spazio, “Death Comes From Space”. It is known as the first Italian SF film, predating even the SF films of Antonio Margheriti.
September 27, 1979 — Buck Rogers in the 25th Century began its regular first season (after the airing of the film) with an episode called “Planet of the Slave Girls”.
September 27, 2002 — Joss Whedon’s Fireflypremiered on Fox TV. It was cancelled after eleven of the fourteen produced episodes were aired. Eventually it concluded in a film called Serenity which Will Shetterly reviewed here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 27, 1902 — Henry Farrell. Novelist and screenwriter, best known as the author of the “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” story which was made into a film of the same name starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. (Died 2006.)
Born September 27, 1932 — Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd as he appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd”” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion”. I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd. He also had one-offs on I-Spy, Munsters, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but not confirmed he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
Born September 27, 1934 — Wilford Brimley, 85. His first genre role is as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cacoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
Born September 27, 1947 — Meat Loaf, 72. He has a tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And I’d argue some of his music videos are genre stories in their own right. He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes, more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the Crypt, The Outer Limits, Monsters, Masters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars.
Born September 27, 1950 — Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, 69. He’d be on the Birthday Honors list if he’d only been Zylyn in Space Rangers which lasted only six episodes. Damn. But he’s also shown up on Babylon 5, the premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Superboy, Alien Nation, the Australian version of Mission: Impossible, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Stargate SG-1, Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Librarians, voicing characters on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Rebels. He’s currently got two main roles going, the first being Nobusuke Tagomi in The Man in The High Castle, the other being Hiroki Watanabe in Lost in Space.
Born September 27, 1956 — Sheila Williams, 63. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction last fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor in 2011 and 2012. With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s Robots, Isaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing.
Born September 27, 1972 — Gwyneth Paltrow, 47. Yes, she is Pepper Potts in the Marvel Universe film franchise but her first genre role was as a young Wendy Darling in Hook. And she shows up in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow asPolly Perkins, a reporter for The Chronicle.
(12) ROCKET ROYALTY. In Olav Rokne’s post “Many
Princes; One Crown” at the Hugo Book Club Blog, readers are
reminded of the challenges in voting on works translated to English, beginning
with a recent Retro-Hugo winner.
…But the case of The Little Prince is more comparable to that of the first translated work to appear on a Hugo Ballot: the 1963 novel Sylva, which was written by French war hero Vercors (A.K.A. Jean Bruller). No translator is mentioned on the dust jacket of the book. And until this summer, when the record was updated at our request, the official Hugo Awards site did not list the name of the translator, Rita Barisse. The Wikipedia entry for the Hugo Awards, and several other publications continue to neglect Barisse’s contribution to the work….
(13) LAFFERTY AWARENESS. Shelf Awareness checks in
with the author of Lies My
Teacher Told Me in
with… James W. Loewen”. R.A. Lafferty gets a big shout-out:
Book you’re an evangelist for:
The only historical novel I recommend without reservation: Okla Hannali by R.A. Lafferty. Even though by a white author, I credit it as a Choctaw history of the 19th century, in the form of a biography of a fictional Choctaw leader who was born in Mississippi around 1801 and died in Oklahoma in 1900. I realize such a statement creates all sorts of problems for me–expropriation of Native knowledge, white arrogance, etc. My only defense is the work itself. I have no idea how Lafferty, otherwise known for science fiction, learned so much about Choctaws (and white folks), but every time I have checked out any fact in Okla Hannali, no matter how small, Lafferty got it right. And what a read! Only a little over 200 pages long, but an epic, nevertheless.
(14) ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT THINGS. David Gerrold contends
art and the artist should be regarded separately in his public
So let’s say that I point out that the owners of a specific fast-food chain have donated a lot of money to anti-LGBTQ+ causes.
This is not an invitation to say:
“The food is terrible.”
Let’s say that I point out that a particular actor has said some unsavory things about politics. This is not an invitation to say,
“She can’t act anyway.”
Or maybe a well-known author has said something egregiously stupid. That’s not an invitation to say,
You are on a runaway trolley. On one track are five people who have not yet seen The Good Place and don’t intend to, and who will die if you don’t move the lever. On the other track is one person who, like you, is caught up and can discuss the show with you. What do you do?
(16) PENN AND POURNELLE. There’s a pair of names you wouldn’t
put in the same sentence – unless you’re Tedium’s Ernie Smith. In “All
Penn, No Teller” he recalls when Penn Jillette was “a sometimes-rebellious big-name computer magazine
columnist in the ’90s.”
…Now, tech writing of this era doesn’t have the pedigree of, say, good music journalism in the 1970s. Certainly, there were good tech writers during this time, particularly free-wheeling voices like fellow moonlighter Jerry Pournelle of Byte, hard-nosed insiders like journeyman scribe John C. Dvorak and the long-anonymous Robert X. Cringely, and well-considered newspaper voices of reason like syndicated columnist Kim Komando and the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg.
But Jillette was something different. He was already famous—certainly more famous than Pournelle, an established science-fiction author, thanks to being a regular fixture on television during much of his career and starring in a legendary Run-DMC music video—and he likely did not need a nationally distributed computer magazine column to make a living. Jillette simply liked computers and knew a lot about them, which meant that he could rant about the details of an Autoexec.bat file just as easily as he can about politics. He gave the tech writing form something of an edge, while maintaining the freewheeling nature established by fellow pre-blogging voices like Pournelle….
“Caltech scientists have discovered a new species of worm thriving in the extreme environment of Mono Lake. This new species, temporarily dubbed Auanema sp., has three different sexes, can survive 500 times the lethal human dose of arsenic, and carries its young inside its body like a kangaroo.”
Terry Hunt sent the link in with a note: “I was
irresistibly reminded of Vonda N. McIntyre’s story ‘Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand’ and its novel expansion Dreamsnake.”
(18) LOOKING FOR ET IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD. The Beyond Center
presented the 2019 Eugene Shoemaker Memorial Lecture with James Benford on
Abstract: A recently discovered group of nearby co-orbital objects is an attractive location for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) to locate for observing Earth. Near-Earth objects provide an ideal way to watching our world from a secure natural object that provides resources an ETI might need: materials, a firm anchor, concealment. These co-orbital objects have been little studied by astronomy and not at all by SETI or planetary radar observations. I describe the objects found thus far and propose both passive and active observations of them by optical and radio listening, radar imaging and launching probes. We might also broadcast to them.
The future: The fully realized version of Shapeshifter would be a “mothercraft” lander that carries a collection of 12 mini robots (“cobots”) to the surface, acts as the main power source, and uses a suite of scientific instruments that can directly analyze samples. The cobots could work together to carry and move the mothercraft to different areas. They would be able to operate individually or as one cohesive unit, in order to adapt to a variety of terrains and environments.
For example, the cobots would be able to separate and fly out in different directions or together as a flock, link up together like a barrel of monkeys in order to explore narrow caves and caverns, or even float on or swim in liquid.
(22) SURVIVE BY A WHISKER. Gato Roboto
a video game designed to let you channel your inner feline.
Pounce inside of your cozy armored mech and set off on a dangerous trek through an alien underworld full of irritable creatures and treacherous obstacles in a valiant effort to save your stranded captain and his crashed spaceship. Tiptoe outside the friendly confines of your technological marvel and follow your feline instincts through tight tunnels and mysterious waterways to scavenge for new weapons and gear. Adventure awaits the most curious of cats in Gato Roboto!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Terry Hunt, Nina Shepardson,Cliff, Rob Thornton,
Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna NImmhaus.]
Hampus Eckerman shares a wide-awake cat in front of a wide variety of paperbacks:
Here’s Vlad, not sleeping and about 10 seconds from wrecking havoc among the SF-books I’m trying to pack for my Australia trip. Among 5-6 ended up on the floor and the dreaded toothbrush nemesis was defeated once again.
Photos of your felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com