SFWA’s Kate Wilhelm Solstice Awards Go to Ben Bova, Rachel Caine, and Jarvis Sheffield

Kate Wilhelm’s Solstice Award (2008).

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) announced today that Ben Bova, Rachel Caine, and Jarvis Sheffield will be honored with the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award at the 56th Annual SFWA Nebula Awards®. Bova and Caine are posthumous honorees, having died in 2020.

The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award is given by SFWA for distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community. Bova, Caine, and Sheffield join the ranks of previous Solstice Award winners, including Octavia E. Butler, James Tiptree, Jr., and Carl Sagan. The awards will be presented at the 56th Nebula Awards®, the weekend of June 4–6, 2021.

Ben Bova

Ben Bova

A prolific and award-winning author, Ben Bova took over the editorial chair for Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact following the death of John W. Campbell and helmed the magazine for seven years. He established Omni Magazine in 1978, where he served as editorial director and provided a new market for short science fiction. Bova’s work ranged beyond the genre; he is the only SFWA president who also served as president of the National Space Society. Bova is a recipient of the Solstice Award for his long history of editorial work, including his efforts to nurture new authors and to advance the use of science in science fiction.

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal remarked, “Ben Bova was so deeply immersed in science fiction that having his name on a project was a stamp of quality, be that as an editor or as a writer. More than that, Ben was kind. He knew how hard breaking into the field was and created new opportunities for early career writers.”

Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine was the bestselling author of several fantasy, science fiction, and thriller series. She was dedicated to supporting newer authors, not only financially, but also mentoring them to successful careers. Caine was a champion of independent bookstores and classrooms, aiming to ensure that teachers had the tools needed to educate their students and that independent bookstores could remain in business in the face of corporate competition. Even after her passing, Caine’s dedication to supporting others continued, including directing donations in her memory toward SFWA’s Emergency Medical Fund and the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Institute.

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal noted, “Rachel Caine was a prolific and wonderful writer, but also dedicated herself to using her platform to lift up others. From mentoring to fundraising efforts, Rachel was always there for the community.”

Jarvis Sheffield

Jarvis Sheffield

Jarvis Sheffield has a long history of working to help diversify the science fiction community, among authors and fans. He helped establish and manage the Diversity Track at Dragon Con as the track’s director. He is also the founder of the Black Science Fiction Society and has served as the editor for Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Sheffield’s work has helped strengthen and expand the scope of science fiction by welcoming Black authors into the field and providing them venues to express their voices in the speculative fiction community.

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal said, “The work that Jarvis Sheffield has been doing through the Black Science Fiction Society has created a dedicated home for promoting Black SF. The knowledge that he’s shared about independent publishing has created a path for many authors to do an end-run around the roadblocks created by systemic biases within traditional publishing. Many of the voices we celebrate today came into the field because of his efforts to create a safe space.”

The 56th Nebula Awards® will take place during the 2021 Nebula Conference Online, an annual professional development conference organized by SFWA for aspiring and established members of the speculative fiction industry. Registration is $125 and may be purchased at events.sfwa.org.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 12/15/20 All These Pixels Are Yours. Except Europa. Attempt No Scrolling There

(1) INTRODUCING BUTLER TO NEW READERS. Elizabeth Connor describes the work of “repackaging the Patternist Series for the Mother of Afrofuturism” in “How to Give Octavia Butler the Covers She Deserves” at Literary Hub.

…After some back and forth—and plenty of discussion with the editor acting as mediator—we determined that by elegant, they likely meant more stylized human forms in more sophisticated poses, as well as a textural or brushy quality to the art (as there had been on the Parable books), that lent an air of being hand-drawn rather than machine-made. As for dynamic, we soon understood that the symmetry of the earliest comps was what the agent and estate were reacting against. By simply breaking the vertical axis and giving each cover a certain degree of asymmetry—even as the figures revolved around a central “moon” shape that remained static—they felt much more alive. The designer came back with revisions and, in relatively quick succession, Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind had approved covers…

(2) DIFFERENT WISDOM. At the SFWA Blog, Sunny Moraine says “Explicit Sex Scenes and the Work of Stories” are far from mutually exclusive.

The origins of this piece lie in an annoyed Twitter thread I posted, in response to a tweet (possibly joking, I don’t know) to the effect of “movies shouldn’t have sex scenes in them, we’re past that now”. 

The origins of my annoyance go back a lot further. 

I’ve been writing explicit sex pretty much since I began writing. Like many of us, I got my start in fanfiction, and while fanfiction’s reputation for being heavily smut-focused isn’t entirely deserved, it isn’t entirely undeserved, either. Which is rather the point, because given that I started out writing a lot of explicit sex, I learned quite early just how much story-work one can do with a well-written sex scene. Especially a very explicit one, without a judicious fade-to-black or Vaseline on the camera lens. 

I want to be clear about something: I am not claiming ultimate authority over what a “good” sex scene consists of. Sex scenes, like sex itself, are highly subjective and personal, and different people will find that different things resonate. 

That said, my opinion is that a good sex scene is usually sexy, and one of the best ways to be sexy is to go deep into not only the physical descriptions of what’s happening, but also what’s going through these characters’ heads as they’re doing the sex. 

Which is one of the places where we get into the work explicit sex can do in a story, and in a way really no other kind of scene can manage in precisely this way….

(3) GETTING THE WORD OUT AND THE DOLLARS IN. James Van Pelt shares “The Frustrations (and the Surprising Successes) of Marketing Your Book” at Black Gate.

…Marketing is easy. Effective marketing that actually sells books, however, is hard. My son works for Facebook, so he helped me with an advertising campaign on the platform. We had a $250 budget for one of my collections, The Experience Arcade and Other Stories. One of the ads reached 1,900 readers. 103 people clicked on it. We did sell books, but not enough to pay back our investment. We found the same pattern to be true on the other books we promoted on Facebook….

(4) ON THE PINNACLE. The Hugo Book Club Blog surveys the top sff awards and why they are in “The Award For Best Award”.

… There are in fact enough award systems to warrant the effort of analysis to help decide which awards are worth paying attention to. Of course, dichotomous and divisive “success or failure” judgments are less useful than comparing how they’re organized and speculating about what might contribute to a robust and respected award. Examining the growing pains of recently created awards and thinking about why several smaller awards have managed to establish long-term relevance can also be helpful….

(5) SFRA. The Fall 2020 issue of the Science Fiction Research Association’s SFRA Review is available to download. Many articles and reviews, including an update from Rachel Cordasco about SF in Translation.

(6) WITH OR WITHOUT CHIPS. “’Scenarios of disruption’: Sci-fi writers asked to help guard France” – Australia’s The Age has the story,

Attacks from floating pirate states and hackers on soldiers with neural implants are just two scenarios dreamed up by a “Red Team” of 10 leading science fiction writers tasked with helping the French army anticipate future threats to national security.

“Astonish us, shake us up, take us out of our habits and comfort zone,” Florence Parly, the French defence minister, told the writers at a Defence Innovation Forum this month.

Many of the “scenarios of disruption” that they have been asked to imagine to challenge military planners are to remain top secret to avoid giving ideas to potential enemies. They were asked to stick to potential threats between 2030 and 2060….

(7) SWATTING A NEW FIREFLY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] One for the “wishful thinking” file. Questionably sourced rumors are bouncing around the internet about a Disney+ Firefly reboot. As much as I would love to believe this, I gotta express significant skepticism.  Adam Whitehead does a pretty good job of analyzing why this rumour likely ain’t true at The Wertzone: “RUMOUR: FIREFLY reboot under consideration for Disney+”.

… I find this rumour dubious for multiple reasons. The first is that Firefly‘s fanbase remains, despite the passage of almost twenty years, both voluble and passionate. Rebooting the show from scratch and dropping the previous actors and continuity would go down very badly. The second is that Firefly‘s universe was designed from scratch to be slightly more morally murky and complex, and that’s part of the show’s appeal. Making it more PG (or PG-13, if you’re in the USA) seems pointless. …

(8) NEW ALLEGATION AGAINST FLEGAL. Artist Sovereign has attached a three-page statement to her tweet: “Trigger warning: Sexual harassment / 1FW. I am speaking up about the harassment I received from Sam Flegal of One Fantastic Week. I’ve been quiet long enough and there are too many that still deserve an apology.”

(9) SEPTEMBER SONG. The date for a Chicago pulp collectors’ event is sliding later in 2021: “Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention Announces Rescheduled 2021 Dates of September 9 – 12, 2021”. Full details at the link. Doug Ellis begins —

As 2020 draws to a close, we’re feeling pretty confident that we will be able to hold our show in 2021.  However, given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the timing on the various vaccines, we became increasingly concerned that it would not be feasible or prudent to hold our show as originally scheduled from April 15-18, 2021.

We can now announce that we’ve reached an agreement with our hotel (the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois) to reschedule the convention to September 9-12, 2021. The location of the convention remains the same….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY

1984 — The Winter 1984 issue of the Missouri Review which was undated had Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Trouble with the Cotton People”, the very first of her Kesh stories that would become part of her Always Coming Home novel which was first published by Harper & Row the following year. Nominated for the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award, it would lose out to Barry Hugart’s Bridge of Birds. Library of America published the Always Coming Home: Author’s Expanded Edition last year. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 15, 1923 Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.) (CE) 
  • Born December 15, 1935 – Alma Jo Williams.  Five dozen reviews in SF Review.  Raised horses; earned a washin-ryu black belt; forty years at Cornell in the Baker Institute for Animal Health.  Of the 1984 Dune movie she said “The photography is gorgeous, the music appropriate, the special effects … well integrated….  The metamorphosed Guild navigators are laughable….  the evil of the Harkonnens was caricatured…. Only Sting, as Feyd, projected … subtle nastiness”.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born December 15, 1937 John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing as is Tik-Tok which won a BSFA and Bugs as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. (Died 2000.) (CE) 
  • Born December 15, 1944 – Ru Emerson, age 76.  Two dozen novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Under another name she has two recipes in Serve It Forth.  Sings, plays guitar, flies stunt kites, a little Irish hardshoe.  [JH]
  • Born December 15, 1944 – John Guidry, age 76.  Chaired DeepSouthCon 9 & 11, Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon.  Founded ERB-apa (Edgar Rice Burroughs fans).  Rebel Award.  Fan Guest of Honor at DSC 53.  [JH]
  • Born December 15, 1945 – Steve Vertlieb, age 75.  Often seen here.  Mr. James H. Burns gave him this tribute on his 70th, with photos and links.  [JH]
  • Born December 15, 1951 David Bischoff. He actually started his career writing out for Perry Rhodan. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story, and he’s continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison.  He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born December 15, 1953  Robert Charles Wilson, 67. He won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award  for the novelette “The Cartesian Theater” and Prix Aurora Awards for the novels Blind Lake and Darwinia. Impressive indeed. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. (CE) 
  • Born December 15, 1953 – J.M. DeMatteis, age 67.  Like many comics stars, has done substantial work for both DC and Marvel, including television.  Eisner Award.  Wrote Abadazad for CrossGen, then when Disney acquired it, three Abadazad books.  One novel.  One album from his years as a musician.  [JH]
  • Born December 15, 1954 Alex Cox, 66. Ahhh the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And did you know that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam? And as we know he directed a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago! (CE) 
  • Born December 15, 1958 – Leslie Smith, age 62.  Co-chaired Ditto 7 (fanziners’ con; named for a brand of spirit-duplicator machine).  Fanzine, Duprass (see Cat’s Cradle) with Linda Bushyager.  [JH]
  • Born December 15, 1981 Krysten Ritter, 39. She played Jessica Jones on the series of that name and was in The Defenders as well. She had a recurring role in the Veronica Mars series which a lot of a lot is us adore (it’s one of the series that Charles de Lint and his wife MaryAnn Hartis are avid followers of, and they contributed to the film Kickstarter) and I supposed it’s sort of genre adjacent, isn’t it? (Do not analyze that sentence.) She’s been in a number of horror flicks as well, but nothing I groked.  (CE)
  • Born December 15, 1982 Charlie Cox, 38. He played the role of Matt Murdock / Daredevil in Netflix’s Daredevil and The Defenders, was Tristan Thorn Thorn in Stardust based off the Gaiman novel and Dennis Bridger in the remake of A for Andromeda. (CE)

(12) SF AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS. FutureCon will stream a panel about “Capitalism and workers’ rights on Science Fiction” on Saturday, December 19 at 12 p.m. (noon US Eastern Time). Participants will be Alec Nevala-Lee (USA), Alexey Dodsworth, (Brazil) Fabio Fernandes (Brazil, host), Jorge Baradit (Chile), Marie Vibbert (USA), and Olav Rokne (Canada).

(13) PAWS IN THE ACTION. Sean D talks about a “gorgeous novella” at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [Book]: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo”.

It’s hard to pen a story in which the lines are blurred but the narrative is always clear. Ambiguity and warring perspectives can hurricane into incomprehensible pandemonium. However, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain manages to have characters who not only inhabit both the bodies of animals and humans, but have characters performing oral storytelling that’s just as fluid. What kept me engaged wasn’t rigidity and linearity, but a narrative voice that always had control with a grip greater than any rigidity….

(14) A SFF LOOK AT POLICING. No Police = Know Future edited by James Beamon is available in both print and electronic formats from publisher Amazing Stories and online book outlets.

When the concept of defunding the police (a concept we believe really means re-examining and reforming the concept of policing), arose during this year’s protests, we saw a perfect opportunity to put those beliefs into practice.

James Beamon, our editor, put it this way in his solicitation:

“After the brutal murder of George Floyd by the police, the world responded in righteous protest, with cries of “Black Lives Matter.” The police responded to these calls in large part with even more brutality, with video after video emerging that showed an assault on the public. And more cries came forth, with calls to defund the police.

But what’s that mean?

Science Fiction writers, this is your call to arms. Give us your potential (and hopefully positive) futures that involve alternatives to modern day policing. We want stories that replace the police entirely, dramatically reform them, or create parallel systems to refocus policing. We’re also seeking alternate concepts of rehabilitation and punishment as well, more emphasis on the carrot. In a world where police are perpetually brandishing their batons, I think we’ve all seen enough sticks.”

The stories collected in this volume –

  • Ryan Priest – Pro Bono Detectives
  • Lettie Prell – Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities
  • Jared Oliver Adams – All the Mister Rogerses From Bethel A.M.E.
  • P.T. MacKim – Well Regulated
  • Minister Faust – Freeze Police
  • Stewart C. Baker – Maricourt’s Waters Quiet and Deep
  • Ira Naymen – When the Call Comes In
  • Holly Schofield – One Bad Apple
  • Brontë Christopher Wieland – Apogee, Effigy, Storm
  • Jewelle Gomez – A More Perfect Union
  • Anatoly Belilovsky – Tax Day

(15) IN GENERAL. Paul Weimer finds much to like here: “Microreview [book]: Machine by Elizabeth Bear” at Nerds of a Feather.

… Bear calls out in the acknowledgements the inspiration for Core General that was to me delightfully obvious but perhaps newer readers to SF might not be aware of. James White’s Sector General stories and novels describe the adventures of a hospital in space, and Bear’s Core General is clearly a spiritual successor and heir to White’s ideas. Bear of course brings her own sensibilities and ideas to a Hospital in Space but the bones of the homage are there, and the social mores and ideas of White’s novels are updated for modern sensibilities.  This is also done a bit explicitly within the novel itself, as corpsicles found on Big Rock Candy Mountain have some rather archaic, primitive, frankly offensive and un-Synarchy-like ideas about many things. There is a culture clash and some real conflict between Jens and the rest of the Synarchy with Helen, the AI of Big Rock Candy Mountain, and the crew of the ship that they manage to unfreeze and revive….

(16) THE NEXT RIGHT STUFF. “NASA Names Artemis Team of Astronauts Eligible for Early Moon Missions” – the names and brief bios are at the link.

NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its corps to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next astronaut missions on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

…The astronauts on the Artemis Team come from a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise, and experience. The agency’s modern lunar exploration program will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.

NASA will announce flight assignments for astronauts later, pulling from the Artemis Team. Additional Artemis Team members, including international partner astronauts, will join this group, as needed….

(17) ROCKING THE MARKET. In “Making A Point With Moon Rocks” on National Review Online, Texas Tech economist Alexander William Salter says that NASA’s contracts to acquire moon rocks (or what is technically “lunar regolith”) is “a clever strategy to nudge space policy in a pro-commerce direction” since the purchases would show that private property can be created on the Moon, a position left ambiguous in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

.. NASA’s purchase of moon dirt is a clever strategic move to nudge space policy in a pro-commerce direction. The United States government isn’t violating Article II [of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty], because it’s not appropriating real estate. And it’s not violating Article VI, since it’s up to Congress to determine the extent of monitoring and policing duties. What the NASA program does is create a test case for first harvesting, and then selling, outer-space resources. As David Henderson and I have argued, “Given the vagueness of international space law on property rights, the precedents created by national space law will have a decisive role in shaping the future space environment. Hence, NASA’s actions can support a pro-business turn not just for the United States, but also for the international community as a whole.” …

(18) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. From Fast Company: “What toys from the past can tell us about how we predict the future”.

… What if those predictions actually ended up affecting how the future unfolds, like self-fulfilling prophecies? It’s a question plaguing futurists, and now a project is trying to illustrate the problem by showing how things created in the past have colored the present. The simplest examples—items that truly shape the minds of our next generations—come in the form of children’s toys.

The Museum of Future History’s first exhibition, Toying With Tomorrow: Playthings That Anticipated the Here and Now, is curated by experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats and timed to debut at the UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) High-Level Futures Literacy Summit.

The idea was sparked by a growing concern among futurists, Keats says, that we have been “colonizing the future” with visions and predictions of what it will bring, and that those visions limit the opportunities or possibilities of those future generations. But this can be an abstract concept to grasp.

“What we needed was some way in which people could recognize the phenomenon in their own lives, and they could use that as a means by which to consider what sorts of predictions they make, what sort of impact those predictions might have going forward—individually as well as collectively in a society,” Keats explains. “Toys have a very direct way in which they influence the future through the children who play with them.”…

(19) WW84. “Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins share Wonder Woman 1984 opening scene at red carpet” and SYFY Wire is there.

It’s one thing to watch Diana grow up slowly — something Wonder Woman fans delighting in witnessing as star Gal Gadot lassoed a new generation of hearts in director Patty Jenkins’ 2017 blockbuster. But it’s something else entirely to watch our Amazon hero surge from past to present at lightning speed — leaping out of her idyllic childhood and into the mean city streets — in the butt-kickin’ romp that welcomes viewers to the opening moments of Wonder Woman 1984….

(20) SPACELANES. [Item by Daniel Dern.]  Via Slashdot: “Astronomers Discover Cosmic ‘Superhighways’ For Fast Travel Through the Solar System”. Not faster than light, more like “a faster lane on the service road” IMHO.

Invisible structures generated by gravitational interactions in the Solar System have created a “space superhighway” network, astronomers have discovered. ScienceAlert reports:By applying analyses to both observational and simulation data, a team of researchers led by Natasa Todorovic of Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia observed that these superhighways consist of a series of connected arches inside these invisible structures, called space manifolds — and each planet generates its own manifolds, together creating what the researchers have called “a true celestial autobahn.” This network can transport objects from Jupiter to Neptune in a matter of decades, rather than the much longer timescales, on the order of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, normally found in the Solar System….

(21) MORE ABOUT BEN BOVA. The New York Times ran Ben Bova’s obituary. To accompany that note, here are a couple of Andrew Porter’s photos of Bova (sent direct to 770, not from the NYT.)

…Ben Bova was a hard-science guy — and a passionate space program booster — and his visions of the future encompassed a dizzying array of technological advances (and resulting horrors or delights), including cloning, sex in space, climate change, the nuclear arms race, Martian colonies and the search for extraterrestrials. In newspaper articles, short stories and more than 100 books, he explored these and other knotty human problems….

(22) BOVA FINDS. And let Tor.com contributor James Davis Nicoll tell you about “Five SFF Authors Discovered by Ben Bova”. The second of these is —

John M. Ford’s first professionally published story was “This, Too, We Reconcile,” published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, May 1976. In it, a telepath is hired to read the mind of a martyr to determine if the dead man saw anything of the afterlife as he died and if so, what that afterlife is like. Rather alarmingly, the telepath is the second person hired for the job, his predecessor having committed suicide immediately after reading the martyr’s mind. This has all the earmarks of a task from which one should flee posthaste, but unluckily for our protagonist, his diligence outweighs his prudence.

This is admittedly a minor Ford, which may explain why it was never collected in either of the two Ford collections, From the End of the Twentieth Century (1997), and Heat of Fusion and Other Stories (2004). Nor has it been included in any anthology of which I am aware. Still, Bova saw enough in the story to help launch a career that lasted until Ford’s untimely death in 2006.

(23) HONESTY IS THE FUNNIEST POLICY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.]In “Honest Game Trailers: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” on YouTube, Fandom Games says even though you’re not playing Peter Parker, you can still fly through a very well-detailed New York City and (virtually) cause billions in property damage!

Also dropping today: In “Honest Trailers: Lost” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies sum up the six-season series by saying the characters asked so many questions in the show “The creators got tired of answering them” and that there was so much psychodrama “the writers room needed therapy.”

Fun fact:  the reason why the flight that crashed in show was Oceanic Airlines Flight 646 was that was the flight in the action film Executive Decision.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, Olav Rokne, Steve Davidson, Doug Ellis, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 12/2/20 The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized

(1) FLIGHT WORN ART. Artist Gregory Manchess tells how he designed the Dragon Crew One patch – and how he got the gig in the first place: “Mission Patch: Crew One” at Muddy Colors.

…Through a convoluted process of attending conventions and patiently waiting for the right timing, I’d met an astronaut who is a fan of science fiction. Kjell Lindgren, the year before, had opened the envelope to read one of the winners for the World Science Fiction convention in 2016. . .while floating in zero g at the space station.

The following year, Kjell (pronounced ‘Chell’) attended the WSF convention in Helsinki, which I attended, and I got to meet him. A year after that, I ran into him again at the same convention in Texas. I asked him about his next flight up and joked that I’d like to come along. He asked if I knew how to handle a robotic arm and I said, “Man, I can handle a brush. How could that be any harder?” I think he actually did a spit take on that one.

Then I asked him, seriously, who was doing their mission patch. Several conversations later, I found myself on a Skype call with Kjell, the mission commander, Mike “Hopper” Hopkins, and mission pilot, Victor “Ike” Glover.

One never knows when an opportunity may arise that can be taken advantage of. My timing was right and my enthusiasm authentic. A deadly combination for winning over clients….

(2) THE IMAGINATION DESK. The latest episode of the Center for Science and the Imagination’s podcast The Imagination Desk features an interview with science fiction author, editor, and researcher Regina Kanyu Wang. Here are direct links to the podcast, on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn

Regina Kanyu Wang is a science fiction writer, researcher, and critic from Shanghai. She is now based at the University of Oslo, where she is part of the CoFUTURES project. In this conversation, we talk about the Chinese science fiction scene, its fan culture, and gender politics in the genre, as well as insights on Regina’s own recent writing—including how she builds nuance and complexity into her portrayals of AI and other technologies.

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Priya Sharma and Justin C. Key on Wednesday, December 16, at 7 p.m. in a livestreamed event on YouTube. Link forthcoming. Listen to their podcast of readings here.

  • Priya Sharma

Priya Sharma is a short story writer whose collection All the Fabulous Beasts won a British Fantasy Award and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her first novella Ormeshadow from Tor won a Shirley Jackson Award. When she’s not writing she works as a doctor in the UK.

  • Justin C. Key


Justin C. Key is a speculative fiction writer and psychiatrist. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Crossed Genres. His novella, Spider King, will be released by Serial Box in early 2021. He’s currently working on a near-future novel inspired by his medical training. He lives in Los Angeles.

(4) DON’T BEAM UP THE PLAGUE. “Captain Kirk calls out Alberta for not adopting federal tracing app” – Edmonton’s City News has the story.

It appears Captain Kirk is a fan of the federal COVID-19 tracing up and a critic of Alberta’s decision not to adopt it.

Canadian icon William Shatner, who played the famous Star Trek character, voiced his opinion on Twitter Wednesday, promoting the COVIDAlert app.

“Now you just need to get Alberta on board,” said Shatner. “I’ve heard that certain people have an issue with the app because they have their own app.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada responded to the tweet, thanking Shatner for promoting contact tracing.

(5) SEA SQUARED. Being a successful writer is a dream come true. Or is that a nightmare? “Jeff VanderMeer on the Saga of The Festival of the Freshwater Squid” at LitHub.

…The Ambergris books received a ton of critical acclaim, well beyond what one might expect for fictions centered around squid and mushroom people. They also sold well enough that a non-rabid, fairly polite fan base sprouted up around Ambergris.

In short, I wrote about the fantastical Festival of the Freshwater Squid for years without anything particularly odd happening. What did happen tended to fall into one of three categories.

Category the first. Dried squid. Tons of it. Acres of it. More dried squid than there are undried squid. Every year, without fail, people sent me dried squid in the mail. Never the same people, I must add, so this was not a stalkery situation, but merely an issue of proper methods of disposal. I don’t actually like to eat squid because having become an amateur squidologist, I know just how intelligent squid are and how likely it is that they would rule over us if they lived fifty years instead of two to four. But, of course, it’s the thought that counts, and the thought of receiving bags and bags of dried squid for the rest of my life might’ve been disturbing, but it was also a testament to the power of Ambergris. (Ironically, I never received any ambergris in the mail.)…

(6) THREE MORE FOR YOUR TBR. Because why would you only read the first book after seeing this pitch? “Kelly Link: Why You Should Read This Classic Trilogy” in LitHub.

…At the heart of the Deptford Trilogy is a set of mysteries. There is the question of whether the woman struck in the head by the snowball may or may not be, afterward and as a consequence, a saint capable of raising the dead and other miracles. Tied to this is the question of the peculiar death of a man named Boy Staunton. At the end of Fifth Business, a clue is offered by a Brazen Head, which floats above a stage. “He was killed by the usual cabal,” it says. But the cabal of characters here and in Fifth Business’s sequels is anything other than usual. It is, in fact, an extraordinary cabal and unlike any you are likely to encounter in novels less bold in their scope. Davies has the scalpel-like acuity of a mystery novel sleuth who has been invited to attend a birthday party and for his own entertainment proceeds to pin down the secret desires, transgressions, and petty misdeeds of each guest. In fact, part of the strangeness and originality of Fifth Business is that, in the moment where a clue is offered by the Brazen Head, it becomes apparent that we are reading a mystery novel in reverse order. First, we are given a leisurely and pleasurable introduction to a cast of disreputable, eccentric characters along with their motivations, opportunities, and confessions. Then, as the book draws to its end, we arrive with a jolt at the moment when a body is discovered under the most perplexing circumstances. Afterward, rather than being given a solution, we are briskly shown out of the novel by its narrator.

(7) PRESERVE TOLKIEN’S HOME. The stars are aligning to make sure one of Tolkien’s homes meets a better fate than, say, Ray Bradbury’s. The goal is to establish a literary center there: “Lord of the Rings Cast Reunite to Buy $6 Million Home of Author J.R.R. Tolkien” reports People. The Tolkien Estate is not involved.

Lord of the Rings stars Sir Ian McKellen and John Rhys-Davies are embarking on another epic adventure.

Rather than crossing Middle Earth to battle the evil forces of Sauron, however, the British actors have joined a fellowship to save 20 Northmoor Road, the Oxford house in which J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, in advance of it being put on the market by realtors Breckon & Breckon.

The initiative, called Project Northmoor, starts crowdfunding on December 2 and hopes to raise $6 million to purchase the home and create a literary center in honor of Tolkien. It is also supported by The Hobbit star, Martin Freeman.

…”This is just an opportunity that can’t be ignored,” John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli and voiced Treebeard in the films, tells PEOPLE from his self-isolation in a New Zealand hotel.

“If people are still reading in 1,000 years, Tolkien will be regarded as one of the great myth-makers of Britain and it will be evident within a matter of years that not to secure this place would have been such an act of arrogance and ignorance and folly on our part.”

The donation site is here: “Project Northmoor – Save Tolkien’s Home”.

J.R.R. and Edith Tolkien moved into 20 Northmoor Road with their young family in 1930. Over the next 17 crucial years the house was the heart of the Tolkien home. It was here that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, which he had begun as a bedtime story for his children, and followed that with another unexpected journey. That book became The Lord of the Rings.

(8) KEAYS-BYRNE OBIT. Boing Boing reports “Hugh Keays-Byrne, of Mad Max fame, dead at 73”

(9) MORE ABOUT BOVA. Ben Bova’s son commemorated his late father in this Facebook profile: “Ben Bova, by his son. Benjamin William Bova”.

… Widely read, Dr. Bova would delight in reciting entire poems of, say, Rudyard Kipling, or the songs of Cole Porter on occasion. He would acknowledge the most esoteric pun or obscure reference with a groan or a wry grin. He could – as he often did during writing breaks – with pen and sans eraser, complete entire New York Times crossword puzzles in the time it takes to finish a lunch cup of yoghurt. Words were his tools; his memory and imagination, his toolbox. And his two pointing fingers – he never used his entire set of fingers to write, the hammers that pounded first the typewriter keys and then, when it was invented, the home computer to conceive and mold a good story….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1995 – Twenty-five years ago Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Forgiveness Day,” published in the November 1994 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, would win the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The other nominees were Maureen F. McHugh’s “Nekropolis” and Michael Bishop’s “Cri de Coeur”.  It would also win a Locus Award for Best Novella. It was last published in The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin on Saga Press which is available in print and digital editions.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 2, 1913 – Jerry Sohl.  Fourteen novels, two dozen shorter stories for us, other work including television, film, a chess book and a bridge book.  Title of posthumous collection Filet of Sohl not his fault.  (Died 2002)  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1914 Ray Walston. Best remembered, of course, for playing the lead in My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby. Before that, played the Devil in Damn Yankees. His later genre appearances would include The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleSix Million Dollar ManGalaxy of TerrorAmazing Stories, PopeyeFriday the 13th: The Series and Addams Family Reunion.   He would appear in The Incredible Hulk (in which David Banner was played by Bill Bixby) as Jasper the Magician in an episode called “My Favorite Magician”. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1929 – Lael Littke, age 91.  Two novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; she has published forty books, six dozen shorter stories, including Ellery Queen’sLadies Home JournalSeventeen.  “The trick is to recognize a good idea when it sweeps by.”  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1937 – Brian Lumley, age 83.  Eight Cthulhu novels, a score of shorter stories (“My guys fight back.  Also, they like to have a laugh along the way”); two dozen more novels including Necroscope best-sellers, ten dozen more shorter stories, three dozen poems.  World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1946 David Macaulay, 74. British-born American illustrator and writer who is genre adjacent I’d say. Creator of such cool works as CathedralThe New Way Things Work which has he updated for the computer technology age, and I really like one of latest works, Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World. (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1946 Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale “The Feather of Finist the Falcon”. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other writer such as Mecedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman.   I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that is she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and  Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf.  Neat lady who died far too soon. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man twenty years ago: “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech”  (Died 2012.) (CE)
  • Born December 2, 1952 OR Melling, 68. One of her favorite authors is Alan Garner whose The Owl Service is a frequent read of hers she tells me. As for novels by her that I’d recommend, the Chronicles of Faerie series is quite excellent. For more adult fare, her People of the Great Journey is quite good. (CE)
  • Born December 2, 1954 – Laura Underwood, age 66.  Nine novels, eighty shorter stories.  Here is her cover for Bradley Sinor’s Dark & Stormy Nights.  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1968 Lucy Liu, 52. She was Joan Watson on Elementary in its impressive seven-year run. Her other genre role, and it’s been long running, has been voicing Tinkermist in the Disney Fairies animated franchise. I kid you not. She’s had a few genre one-offs on The X-FilesHercules: The Legendary Journeys and the Rise: Blood Hunter film, but not much overall haughty she did show up in Luke Cage. (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1971 Frank Cho, 49. Writer and illustrator, best remembered  as creator of the let excellent  Liberty Meadows series as well as work on HulkMighty Avengers and Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel Comics, and Jungle Girl for Dynamite Entertainment. I recommend the Frank Cho Art Book from Delcourt as being a superb look at his work. CE)
  • Born December 2, 1976 – Kate Milford, age 44.  Eight novels, another due next February.  Has read A Canticle for LeibowitzPoems of Ambrose Bierce, Borges’ Ficciones, and Serve It Forth.  She very frankly says “I update this site sometimes.”  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1980 – Leander Deeny, age 40.  One novel by this man whom someone wants us to know was in the BBC series Merlin and the Captain America film The First Avenger.  He likes whisky, cookery, falconry, and another thing I keep forgetting.  [JH]

(12) ALIEN REAL ESTATE. “Netflix Reveals What Mysterious ‘Alien Worlds’ May Look Like” – let the Daily Beast fill you in.

Netflix is brimming with outlandish out-of-this-world genre fare, but the streaming giant’s latest docuseries, Alien Worlds, puts the science back in science fiction. Imagining what life might be like on distant planets, producer Nigel Paterson’s four-episode endeavor utilizes what we know about biology and civilization on Earth to speculate about extraterrestrial existence—a mix of knowledge and conjecture that’s echoed by its form, which marries nature documentary footage from around the globe with inventive CGI panoramas of bizarre landscapes and creatures. The result is a fantastical—and fascinating—intergalactic version of Planet Earth.

In light of that structure, it’s only natural that Alien Worlds (premiering Dec. 2) boasts its own David Attenborough-like narrator: acclaimed English actress Sophie Okonedo, who imparts surprising and enlightening facts about Earth’s varied ecosystems—and surmises about what that could mean for life elsewhere—with sonorous, import-laden gravity….

(13) RETURN OF THE TOASTMAKER. Food Network ran a listicle about the “12 Best Star Wars Kitchen Tools”. This is the kind of thing we’re talking about – aren’t you glad these helmets are good for something?

Star Wars Storm Trooper Toaster

$49.95 

WILLIAMS SONOMA

We’re willing to bet that this is the fiercest toaster you’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s shaped like a Stormtrooper’s helmet, but that doesn’t stop it from perfectly preparing your toast. The slots are extra-wide in order to accommodate different types of bread, and features a removable crumb tray for easy cleaning.

(14) CREDENTIAL HEALTH CHECK. Michael Toman sent this link with a reassuring note: “Nope, I’m definitely NOT suggesting ‘Cats Throw Up on SF’ as a new photo contest category for File 770!” Anyway, it’s Mental Floss’ fault that we’re wondering “Why Do Cats Throw Up So Often?”

And y’know, maybe I’ll forego putting an excerpt here.

(15) A MATCH MADE IN HELL. Ryan Reynolds calls it “A Love Story for the ages. Or at least this age.”

(16) I’M PIXELING MY SCROLL FOR THE MISTY MOUNTAINS. Another reason to remember today’s date, on December 2, 1971 Led Zeppelin released ”Misty Mountain Hop” as a single in the US.

The most common interpretation of the song’s title involves a reference to the Misty Mountains in J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit.

(17) BOMBS AWAY. While tuned in to tonight’s Jeopardy, Andrew Porter saw these efforts to score during Final Jeopardy:

Novel Characters.

Answer: This character from an 1851 novel “was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge.”

Wrong questions: “Who is Frankenstein?” “Who is The Count of Monte Cristo?”

Correct question: “Who is Captain Ahab?”

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life” on YouTube is a short film, written and directed by Peter Capaldi, that was originally broadcast on BBC Scotland in 1993.  The film, starring Richard E. Grant as Kafka, really is a variation on Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, and earned Capaldi an Oscar for Best Short Film–Live Action in 1995.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Arnie Fenner, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Alan Baumler, Olav Rokne, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, Dann, Steve Davidson, Sean Wallace, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Ben Bova (1932-2020)

Author and Hugo-winning editor Ben Bova died November 29 at the age of 88. Family member Kathryn Brusco announced the cause of death was COVID-19 related pneumonia and a stroke. Tor.com’s Andrew Liptak also confirmed the death with a second source (“Legendary Science Fiction Author Ben Bova Has Passed at the Age of 88“.)

Bova’s first professional sf sale was a Winston juvenile, The Star Conquerors (1959), and his first published short fiction was bought by Cele Goldsmith at Amazing – “A Long Way Back” (1961). During the Sixties he had nearly two dozen more novels and stories published.

He made several sales to Analog before meeting editor John W. Campbell, Jr. face-to-face at a Worldcon in Washington, D.C. After shaking his hand, Campbell provocatively said: “This is 1963. No democracy has ever lasted longer than 50 years, so this is obviously the last year of America’s democracy.”

Another story sold to Campbell, “Brillo” (1970), co-authored with Harlan Ellison, was his first story to be up for an award, a Hugo nominee. (And ten years later they won a judgment against ABC and Paramount, makers of Future Cop, for plagiarizing their idea.)

Bova also served as the science advisor for the Canadian television series Ellison created, The Starlost. Appalled by the production, Ellison assigned his credit to “Cordwainer Bird,” and Bova resigned but didn’t have the “contractual right to remove his name from the credits.” His novel The Starcrossed, is loosely based on those experiences.

Ben Bova studied journalism at Temple University in the Fifties, paying his way through by working as a copyboy at the Philadelphia Inquirer on a shift that started at 6 p.m. and went until 3 a.m. He learned “the basics of writing news copy are simple enough: be clear and deliver on time.”

He acquired his interest in science from visiting the Fels Planetarium, part of Philadelphia’s science museum, the Franklin Institute. “I never took a formal college course in science; I learned from the director of the Planetarium, I.M. Levitt, who became a lifelong friend and mentor.”

In 1956 he was hired by Glenn L. Martin Co. and worked on Project Vanguard, having marketed himself to recruiters as “someone who could understand what the engineers were doing and translate it into copy that the general public could understand.” In the 1960s he worked for the Avco Everett Research Laboratory.

When John W. Campbell, Jr. suddenly died in 1971, Bova was offered the job of editing Analog Science Fiction magazine. “It was like being drafted to run for president. You’re terribly afraid you’re not up to the task, but you can’t refuse to step up to it.” He eventually asked the publisher’s executive who had hired him why he was picked for the job, when much better-known science-fiction writers had been considered. The executive answered that he had made it a point to read the work of each person up for the job. “Ben,” he said, “you were the only one I could understand!”

Bova made Analog, already the prozine with the largest circulation, even more successful. His accomplishments included publishing Spider Robinson’s first sale, a Callahan’s Bar story, and during his tenure acquiring many Hugo-winning stories, among them Larry Niven’s “The Hole Man” and ”Borderland of Sol”, Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake, George R.R. Martin’s “A Song for Lya,” The Forever War and “Tricentennial” by Joe Haldeman, “Home Is the Hangman” by Roger Zelazny, “Eyes of Amber” by Joan D. Vinge, and more. He was the winner of the first Best Professional Editor Hugo (1973), and collected five more while at the helm of the magazine.

He left Analog in 1978 to edit Omni, holding that post until 1982.

During Bova’s career he wrote over 120 fiction and nonfiction books. His novel, Titan, part of The Grand Tour series, won the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2007. Another in the series was Jupiter —

Bova served as President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) from 1990 to 1992. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal paid tribute: “I am devastated that our community has lost Ben Bova. He was so welcoming to new writers and embodied the philosophy of paying it forward.”

He also held the position of President Emeritus of the National Space Society

Bova taught science fiction at Harvard University and at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, where he has also directed film courses. He received his doctorate in education in 1996 from California Coast University.

He was Worldcon Author Guest of Honor at Chicon 2000. He was awarded the Robert A. Heinlein Award in 2008 for his work in science fiction.

Bova was married three times. He had a son and a daughter with his first wife, Rose. They divorced in 1974. That same year he married Barbara, and their marriage lasted 35 years, until her death in 2009. In 2013, he married Rashida Loya.

Pixel Scroll 6/3/18 And The Gates Scrolled Open. “It’s Old Filer; Pixel Means Friend”

(1) OVERCOMER. Robyn Bennis provides “A Debut Author’s Guide to Social Anxiety”.

….If, on the other hand, the above feels like a gross exaggeration of your social anxiety, then perhaps I do have a handful of weird old tips for you.

Perhaps the most important thing is to have someone on your side. I am extremely lucky to have talented and fearless people who want me to succeed, and it has helped immeasurably. Now, this may seem like a bit of a paradox. Social anxiety can make recruiting your friends not just a Herculean task, but a mild imposition on them, and therefore an impossible request. “How can I make such a request,” you say, “as worthless and unworthy as I am? My friend surely has better things to do—like staring into space or streaming the complete run of She’s the Sheriff. I can’t let them waste their time on me.”

To get over this, the first thing you have to do is acknowledge that your brain is lying to you. I mean, Suzanne Somers is great and all, but that show just doesn’t hold up. Good acting can only go so far in saving such a horrible premise.

Oh, and your brain is also lying about your worthlessness. You are worthy and deserving of the help of others. But seriously, who the hell thought that show was a good idea?

(2) THE BOVA ERA. Do my eyes deceive me, a kind word for Analog? Well, not about just any issue — James Davis Nicoll reviews the Special Women’s Issue from June 1977 in “Nothing Without a Woman or a Girl”. (So, perhaps Galactic Journey will say something kind about the magazine in another 14 years?)

I have excoriated Ben Bova’s fiction in the past, but I have nothing but admiration for his work as editor for Analog. While Disco-Era Analog might seem a bit stodgy to modern eyes, at the time Bova was a breath of fresh air. Rather than settle for being a second-rate Campbell, he did his best to be a first-rate Bova. He recruited new authors, many of whom differed (excitingly) from Analog’s Old Guard. He also bought more stories by women than did his predecessor1. While some old guard objected to Bova’s direction, enough readers enjoyed it to give him a remarkable six Best Editor Hugo Awards, as well as one nomination for the same category….

Eyes of Amber won the Hugo. The Screwfly Solution won a Nebula. Two major awards for stories from one issue is remarkable. Other stories, such as the Tellure, may not have won accolades but were memorable enough for me to remember as soon as I laid eye on them. All things considered, this was a pretty awesome read to be my third ever issue of Analog. It’s no surprise that Bova was nominated for a Hugo on the basis of his 1977 work.

(3) ON THE TABLE. E.D.E. Bell lists five vegan foods to try:

…In my mind, whenever someone asks what could be vegan about fantasy, it proves to me that they’ve never been a vegan reading fantasy. In addition to a lot of the violence and war in the genre (it’s usually a central component, even outside of grimdark), the best scenes feature someone riding their steed in a fine leather vest to grab a hock of ham. I’m not even sure I know what hocks are, but I have concluded they are key to the development of fantasy heroes. So, you know, my fiction is just focused a bit differently. In fact, I think that diversity and exploration is what fantasy is all about.

I’m not here to get into all of that, though. I’m here to talk about one of Cat’s and my favorite subjects: yummy food. Now, I’m not an authority on gourmet cuisine. Go to a vegan restaurant or check out many amazing online vegan chefs for that. (I’m particularly fond of Richa Hingle.) Hey, I’m not even a great cook. But I haven’t eaten meat in almost a quarter century, so I can definitely speak to “what we eat.” Don’t worry. This is just a quick blog to spark some ideas. But if you don’t mind eating plants, here are five simple foods you could give a spin….

(4) WHERE RIVERS AND FANS MEET. The 2018 Confluence will be held at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel from July 27-29, with Guest of Honor Catherynne M. Valente and special music guest S.J “Sooj” Tucker.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first Confluence, although it is not the 30th Confluence (they had to skip 1999 and 2013).

(5) TOURISTS. Stormtroopers and other Imperial military personnel dropped in to see the sf exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of History today. (Photo by John King Tarpinian.)

(6) HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY

  • Born June 2, 1920 — Bob Madle, one of only two surviving attendees of the very first Worldcon. It’s possible Bob is the oldest living SF fan.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) PIONEER FILK. Rob Hansen has added what appears to be the earliest filking fanzine produced in the UK to his THEN fanhistory site: “Songs From Space (1957)”.

Presented here is what appears to be the earliest filking fanzine published in the UK, which is dated August 1957. It was published by Eric Bentcliffe, reworked lyrics were by Sandy Sandfield, and artwork by Eddie Jones.

The final song, Space Club Drag, is inspired by The Space Club, a clubroom for London fandom that Helen Winick had tried to establish around the turn of the year.

(9) OPENING IN JUNE. Parade’s Lambeth Hochwald, in “Incredibles 2: The 10 Most Incredible Reasons We Love the Parr Family”, interviews the cast and writer/director Brad Bird, who says that the two Incredibles films “major in family and minor in superheroes.”

The most incredible family of superheroes is back. The Parrs, the lovable, fearless family of five we first met in 2004 in The Incredibles, will return for another animated adventure when Disney-Pixar’s Incredibles 2 arrives in theaters June 15.

And although 14 years have passed, it’s like the clock has barely ticked at all: The new movie picks up seconds after the first one ended, with the same cast of characters. Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) hurtles back into superhero work, while her husband, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), remains behind as a stay-at-home dad with the couple’s three kids, teenage Violet (Sarah Vowell), adolescent Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack.

(10) CONCAROLINAS. David Weber told his Facebook followers the terms under which he agreed to be a ConCarolinas special guest next year.

I have been in contact with Jada at ConCarolinas by Messenger, and she tells me that they will be making a live announcement at closing ceremonies, with the video to be on their Facebook group, which will make clear that going forward they will be inviting guests they feel are genre-related and that as a convention which has never taken a political stance they will not tolerate being told that guests must lean one way or another or that guests are uninvitable because of their political stances. They will expect anyone who attends to be able to be in a room with another person who disagrees with him/her and be civil to one another. They will also not be beholden to bullies or trolls and will not disinvite guests after such attacks. They will also mention what happened to John, and state that the mutual decision for him not to attend was wrong and that they apologize to John for the hurt and the frustration that was caused by their decision and for the fact that their initial statement did not make it clear that HE was the one being harassed and bullied by vile, unfounded allegations (which went so far as to drag his wife into the fire) and threats to harass him at the con which would have turned a regional con into a battleground. On that basis, I have agreed to attend the con as a special guest next year.

Weber also says the convention will give him a contract about his appearance.

Weber wrote at length about his expectations yesterday, concluding —

People, the object is to fix the problem, not to pile on (from either side) and not for anybody to issue masochistic mea culpas. But there is a point at which grown-ups have to begin the “fix the problem” conversation by acknowledging that they screwed up and publicly apologizing to the object of their screwing up. To be blunt, ConCarolinas owes John Ringo a public apology for not making clear who was the victim and strongly condemning the hatemongers who attacked him AS HATEMONGERS.

Coming from Weber, that is perhaps not a surprising characterization of those who had issues with Ringo’s selection as a special guest.

The ConCarolinas chair delivered the statement she negotiated with Weber this afternoon at closing ceremonies – here is the video.

Weber’s reaction to the video is:

At the moment, I am VERY satisfied. I’m sure that some people are going to wish that there’d been more self-flagellation and public contrition, but she was reading a prepared statement that she wanted to be sure got every point covered. Under the circumstances, I think this is a positive admission of the mistakes that were made, an apology to John, a proper characterization of the vileness of the allegations thundered against him, and a very decent starting point to move forward. And speaking as someone who’s had to eat a little crow in public himself upon occasion, I know how hard it is — especially coming back after the fact — to apologize in a case like this.

(11) FAN OVERBOARD. Honor Harrington fandom has been experiencing some rough sailing. Longtime volunteer Tom Coonradt announced his retirement as the Senior Master Chief Petty Officer of the Royal Manticoran Navy due to a conflict with leadership.

…It is with a very heavy heart that I say this.

It is my opinion that John Roberts is the worst possible fit for a first space lord this, or any, Organization could have.

Since before John Roberts became first space lord he has treated me with disdain, condescension, and disrespect. And I know I am not the only one. Culminating with a public outburst at a respected member of this organization at Manticon.

John Roberts refuses to communicate with me in writing, he says because he communicates poorly in writing. My concern is that there is ZERO accountability there. There is no recording of a spoken conversation that can keep a first space lord honest. He has out rightly and in writing (ironically) refused to discuss anything with me at all in writing, even if it is a simple message of “I want to talk to you about this topic, when can I call you?” I had on the phone, only a few short weeks ago, given him several possible solutions to our communication issue. When I thought we had reached a compromise, the only thing he sent me, ironically enough, is the new policy on how to replace the SMCPON. One he refused to discuss further with me after I gave my impressions.

He has no ability to be flexible, and in fact will refuse to listen or even acknowledge any advice, idea or criticism that he doesn’t agree with….

The group’s website defines The First Space Lord as the Senior Executive Vice President of The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, Inc.

The full text of Coonradt’s statement can be found attached to a comment on this post.

(12) DEPT. OF HARD TO KEEP SFF AHEAD OF REALITY. At TechCrunch “‘Upgrade’ director Leigh Whannell talks low-budget worldbuilding”.

TechCrunch: It’s interesting that it came from your imagination, because in some ways it feels very prescient. We had our own robotics event a couple of weeks ago and one of the big moments onstage was someone in a wheelchair who was able to take a few steps thanks to an exoskeleton.

Whannell: So the exoskeleton that helps people with paralysis walk and move, this movie is the internalized version of that, where it goes one step further and there’s nothing exterior. It’s a chip.

It has been interesting to watch the world catch up to my script. Because when I wrote the first draft of this script, automated cars and smart kitchens were still science fiction. And in the ensuing years, they’ve become ubiquitous. I mean, my wife’s car parks itself and talks to her. And my daughter thinks it’s perfectly normal to have a voice talking to her in the kitchen, and she asks it to play songs and it does. So in a way I feel like I’m living in the world of the movie I wrote all those years ago.

(13) PARVUS IS OPEN. Colin Coyle of Parvus Press says they are open for novel and novella submissions until July 15. See details on the publisher’s website under Submissions.

Coyle also notes that their Kickstarter for If This Goes On edited by Cat Rambo has raised $6,074 of its $10,000 goal in the first four days.

(14) DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIOUS HINTS. Here’s your first clue:

(15) HEARTS OF TABAT. Marion Deeds reviews Cat Rambo’s Hearts of Tabat at Fantasy Literature.

…On the surface, Hearts of Tabat might be a slightly satirical comedy-of-manners, but the Beasts are growing restless and rebellious, and something (or someone) is trying to siphon away the magic that protects the land. When, abruptly, Bella Kanto is accused of sorcery and exiled, it is clear something is very wrong.

Rambo’s world is beautifully described, complex and plausible. Good people are complicated, and aren’t always good. Sebastiano works daily with the Beasts, seeing their natures, yet spouts standard bigoted lines about how they can’t be accorded the same rights as humans. Adelina’s infatuation with Eloquence causes her to ignore her own better judgment. Eloquence himself is charming and seductive, but we see a different side of him at home with his sisters.

A large part of the Tabat society is religion. The Trade Gods and the Moon Temples, with their different belief systems, are depicted convincingly. The effects of poverty are not romanticized. Frankly, Obedience has it so bad at home that when she is abducted along with a magic student I can only think that’s going to be a step up for her….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Cat Rambo, Jack Lint, Rich Lynch, Colin Coyle, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Lunacon 2017 Names Guests of Honor

The Guests of Honor at Lunacon 2017 will be Writer Ben Bova and Fan Roberta Rogow. In addition, the convention will feature the Boogie Knights as Musical Guests.

  • Ben Bova is the author of some 124 works of science fact and fiction, including the John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning novel Titan (2007, part of the Grand Tour series. He has also written the Exiles and Kinsman series. Bova is a six-time Hugo Award winner as Best Professional Editor for Analog, where he succeeded the legendary John W. Campbell, Jr. He went on to be editor of Omni Magazine. A scientist as well as a science writer, in the 1950s, Dr. Bova predicted a U.S. – Soviet Space Race and was involved in Project Vanguard as a technical writer during the early days of the U.S. Space Program. Additionally, he is a past president of both the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America. Other honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, the Robert A. Heinlein Award, as well as the Lunarians’ Isaac Asimov Memorial Award. His latest novels (both available from Tor Books) are Power Surge and Death Wave.
  • Roberta Rogow is an omnifan. While perhaps best-known to Lunacon attendees as a filk singer-songwriter – where her achievements earned her induction into the Filk Hall of Fame – she was also a trailblazer in Star Trek Fandom, publishing some of its earliest fanzines and contributing fan-fiction to the genre. Additionally, she is a costumer (her most memorable efforts are “Art Show” and “Bag Lady of Gor”) and a dealer in many convention Dealers’ Rooms. Branching out professionally, she is the author of Futurespeak, a dictionary of sf, fannish and media terms, and of speculative fiction and historical murder mysteries, notably a series featuring Oxford don Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and a young Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, and, more recently, a series set in an alternate North America ruled by Spain, the latest of which is Mischief in Manatas. She was also our Toastmistress at Lunacon 2002.
  • The Boogie Knights are a wildly popular, fan favorite filk group from Maryland who, since 1982, and with a varying membership, have been performing “songs of daring-do with nary a hey nonny nonny,” parodies of everything from commercial jingles to TV and movie themes, and from golden oldies to the latest top-40 songs, all done with a wicked humorous medieval or fantasy twist. Their newest CD, Wasted Days and Wasted Knights, is available via CD Baby.

John W. Upton, the Lunacon 2017 Chair, will also be inviting an Artist Guest of Honor.

Lunacon 2017 will be held on the weekend of April 7 – 9, 2017 at the Westchester Marriott Hotel in Tarrytown.

Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012)

Ernest Borgnine, actor, died July 8, aged 95. He won an Oscar for the lead role in Marty (1955). His genre roles included The Devil’s Rain (1975), The Ghost of Flight 401 (tv movie, 1978), The Black Hole (1979), Escape From New York and Deadly Blessing (both 1981), Airwolf (1983) and Alice in Wonderland (1985). Twice his career path crossed Harlan Ellison’s, when Borgnine was cast in The Oscar (1966, script by Ellison) and in the short-lived tv series Future Cop (1976-77) — a show whose makers Ellison and Ben Bova famously sued for plagiarism.

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]

Bova Column on SF Conventions

Ben Bova  devotes his latest column for the Naples News to science fiction conventions.

For example, some years ago in a hotel far, far away (it was in St. Louis, actually) the hotel staff took one look at the fans arriving for their convention and decided to treat them like scum. Service was worse than dismal. The hotel even shut down the elevators at midnight, which stranded late-night revelers in the lobby. I was among them and got into a fist fight (mild mannered me!) with a young elevator operator who refused to take a group of us to the floors where our rooms were located.

Within a week after that convention closed, several national aerospace organizations canceled their plans to hold meetings at that hotel; the hotel’s insurance carrier tripled the hotel’s rates, and a few other inconveniences were rained upon the hotel’s management and staff.

…Not the least being the installation of self-service elevator controls. The Chase-Park Plaza’s elevator operators were out of a job by 1974 when I was there for the Popular Culture Association convention.

[Via Tony Lewis on Smofs.]

John Schoenherr (1935-2010)

When I became an avid sf reader in the late 1960s every prozine on the local library shelves was digest-sized and there wasn’t a hint that the case had ever been any different.

Then I met LASFSian Ed Cox and saw his pulp magazine collection, filled with perfectly preserved copies of Thrilling Wonder, the pages inside still looking as white as the day the magazine appeared on the newsstand.

Another friend impressed me even more with the news that my favorite prozine had experimented with a large format during WWII — collectors called them “bedsheet Astoundings” — and had briefly revived the format (as Analog) just a few years before. I found them for sale in used bookstores and soon owned a copy of the most dramatic prozine cover ever, John Schoenherr’s depiction of a sandworm for the March 1965 Analog.

Now the artist has passed away at the age of 74. He died April 8. His son Ian mourned him, saying:

He was a man of many talents and I can’t say what he was best at, but he was, among countless other things, a great artist, a great husband to my mother for almost 50 years, and a great dad to my sister and me.

For science fiction fans the physical passing of John Schoenherr will represent perhaps the third time we’ve mourned his loss, because of the times he’s left the sf magazine field. The first came in the late 1960s when he stopped doing covers for Analog. John W. Campbell said in a 1967 letter: “We’re losing him now; we can’t match Reader’s Digest’s $3000 offers — nor the book illustration rates the big publishing houses give him. The man is good.”

However, following Campbell’s death in 1971, Ben Bova became editor of Analog and Schoenherr resumed working for the magazine. He produced 22 more covers in the next six years. That association ended again when Bova moved to Omni. Also, around that time Schoenherr began to focus on wildlife painting.

He would win a Caldecott Medal in 1988 for his work in Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon.

Schoenherr’s death has prompted some fans to wonder why an artist whose sf work was so esteemed practically never won awards and was never Worldcon guest of honor. John W. Campbell, in that same 1967 letter, bluntly answered: “Jack Schoenherr, probably the best artist science fiction ever had, got one Hugo once. He never attended a convention, never did any artwork for the fan magazines, never made personal friends.”

He did not court fandom, which may be all the answer needed. But he did make personal friends elsewhere as Carl Zimmer testifies in his reminiscence for Discover: “Everyone always joked that Jack was a great bear. It wasn’t just his ursine cast that earned him that name; it was also his combination of grouchiness and loyalty.”

In Jeopardy with John W. Campbell

Ben Bova listed the people he credits for helping him make it as a professional writer in an article for the Naples News:

No writer stands alone. We all owe our success, such as it is, to those who taught us, inspired us, helped us understand and persevere.

Editor John W. Campbell figures prominently in that list. Bova sold him several stories before meeting him face-to-face at a Worldcon in Washington, D.C. After shaking his hand, Campbell provocatively said: “This is 1963. No democracy has ever lasted longer than 50 years, so this is obviously the last year of America’s democracy.”

Bova dredged his memory to come up with the Jeopardy!-style question that matched Campbell’s bold declaration. And he guessed right. Can you? Click the link to check your answer.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]