[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 2020 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,
50 of the novellas published in 2017,
38 of the novellas published in 2018,
57 of the 2019 novellas,
and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas from my library, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 59!
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.
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 I 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 are listed in two sections below. The first section, those with cover art, are the ones I have read, and they include mini-reviews by me. These are in approximate order from most-favorite to least-favorite (but bear in mind that after around the first dozen listed, there was not a large degree of difference in preference among most of the remainder, with the exception of a handful at the bottom). The second section is those novellas I haven’t read, in alphabetical order by title.
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. Some short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included, and in a couple of cases, novelettes which were long enough to be in the Hugo Novella tolerance were also included.
Please feel free to post comments about 2020 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your File 770 comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
If you see something that looks like gibberish, it is text that has been ROT-13’ed to avoid spoilers. (Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)
…Next up are these Vampire Milk Chocolate Kisses that might look like your classic Hershey’s Kisses (with adorable bat foil) but when you bite in, they’re stuffed with a strawberry creme filling fit for a vampire. You get the strawberry flavor before you even bite in, which I loved. They taste like a chocolate-covered strawberry but, like, way easier to eat.
…In addition to new candies, you’ll also find some old faves on shelves this fall like Reese’s Pumpkins, mini Pumpkin Pie Kit Kats, Hershey’s Glow-In-The-Dark minis, and milk chocolate Monster Kisses with adorable themed foils. All of these will start rolling out in stores as the holiday gets closer which gives you plenty of time to coordinate a Halloween costume around your favorite candy.
…We regret to announce that after consultation with our convention hotel, the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois, we have determined that it is not possible to hold our convention this year due to COVID-19. The next Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is scheduled for April 16-18, 2021 at the same location.
…The 2020 show would have been our 20th, and we had plans to make it our best yet. We’ll take this extra time to work on making what will now be our 20th show (albeit in 2021) even better!
The FanX® staff, much like the attendees, looks forward to all our events all year long. We never fathomed we would be in such a state of uncertainty for this year’s event because of a global pandemic. With the recent rise of Utah’s COVID-19 cases, the possibility of having the event this September and meeting again with our FanX family is looking bleak. Unless we see a significant reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the next couple of weeks, we do not feel it is in the best interest of the community and the attendees for us to continue with the plan to have the event this year. Keeping the safety of everyone at the event is always our top priority.
…In the case that we are able to have FanX® in September 2020, we are preparing to have plenty of safety features in effect and are working with health professionals to take as many safety precautions as possible. We are still preparing details of what this might look like for attendees, and we will continue to monitor COVID-19 best practices at that time for events.
(4) ON WITH THE SHOW. “‘Batwoman’ Casts Javicia Leslie as New Series Lead” – Variety has the details. Leslie, who was on God Friended Me for two seasons, will replace Ruby Rose on “Batwoman” but showrunner Caroline Dries says that Rose’s character, Kate Kane, will not be killed off on the show.
“Batwoman” has found its new series lead, with Javicia Leslie set to step into the cape and cowl for the show’s upcoming second season on The CW.
“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said.
Leslie will portray a new character on the show named Ryan Wilder. She is described as likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane (previously played by Ruby Rose), the woman who wore the Batsuit before her….
… Bogi’s writing is a positive challenge that asks people to reconsider the scope of works that they engage with. “Positive” in the sense that it is driven by creative output and the advocacy for creators of speculative fiction rather than the sense of simply being ‘feel-good’ or avoiding pointing out the ingrained prejudices and issues within the wider SF&F community.
(7) GAIMAN PANEL LIVESTREAM. The 2020 Auckland Writers Festival went virtual and is running a Winter Series of livestreamed panels. On Sunday, July 12, Episode 11 will feature:
English master storyteller Neil Gaiman with his latest, ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’, author and curator Kolokesa Uaf? M?hina-Tuai discussing ‘Crafting Aotearoa’ and Canadian writer and artist Leanne Shapton with ‘Guestbook: Ghost Stories’.
(8) BRADBURY’S PSEUDONYMS. First Fandom Experience fills readers in about “The Making Of ‘The Earliest Bradbury’”, their recently published volume of his earliest writing as a science fiction fan.
… However, developing a comprehensive list of Bradbury’s fanzine contributions required intensive effort by the FFE team and others.
Fortunately, there was a clear starting point: the first and most numerous of Bradbury’s fanzine appearances are found in the club organ of the Los Angeles Science Fiction League (LASFL), Imagination! This title ran for thirteen issues from October 1937 — the same month that Bradbury joined the group — to October 1938. The FFE archive includes a full set of these rare issues, and we read them exhaustively to find anything written by or referring to Bradbury.
This seemingly straightforward task soon revealed a key challenge: Bradbury and other members of the LASFL frequently published under a variety of pseudonyms. We puzzled over a number of articles that might have been penned by Bradbury, but sported whimsical bylines like “D. Lerium Tremaine” and “Kno Knuth Ing.” (A previous blog post discusses our early attempts to sort this out.)…
Today, Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, author of the Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the likely future Booker Prize-winning novel The Mirror and the Light, turns 68.
But you probably knew that. What you might not have known was that Mantel was the film critic for the UK’s The Spectator for four years, between 1987 and 1991, during which time she reviewed many films, including Overboard (“God bless us all. And send us better films next week.”), The Accused (“Economy is commendable, but a woman in all her complexity cannot be represented by a pair of outsize shoulder-pads.”), and Fatal Attraction (“A quite unremarkable film in most ways, with its B-movie conceits, cliché-strewn screenplay and derivative effects.”).
She also reviewed RoboCop—and rather enjoyed it:
“F—— me!” cry the criminals, as RoboCop blasts them into the hereafter. Rapists, robbers, terrorists are minced before our eyes. Villains are blown apart, defenestrated, melted down into pools of toxic waste. “You have the right to an attorney,” the courteous robot voice reminds them, as he tosses them through plate glass. The pace is frenetic. The noise level is amazing. You absolutely cannot lose interest; every moment something explodes….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
Forty-three years ago in the Bananas literary zine which was edited by Emma Tennant and published by Blond & Briggs, Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves“ was first printed. (A novelette by J.G. Ballard, “The Dead Time”, and a short story by John Sladek, “After Flaubert” comprised the rest of the zine.) Three years later, it was included in Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories collection. It would win a BSFA Award for Best Media as it would become a film of that name written by Angela Carter and Neil Jordan which starred Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Rea and David Warner. It is quite often produced as a theatre piece in the U.K. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 8, 1906 — Walter Sande. He’s best remembered for being on Red Planet Mars, The War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars, but he also showed up playing a heavy in such serials as The Green Hornets Strikes Again! and Sky Raiders, the latter being at least genre adjacent. He’s had a recurring role as Col. Crockett on The Wild, Wild West, and one-offs on Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lost in Space and Bewitched. (Died 1971.) (CE)
Born July 8, 1925 – Lou Feck. Forty covers, a few interiors. Here is Rogue in Space. Here is Cinnabar. Here is On Wings of Song. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born July 8, 1930 – George Young. Program Book and publicity for Detention (17th Worldcon). His head was under the first propeller beanie, made (i.e. the beanie) by Ray Nelson, inspiring on another evolutionary track Beanie Boy of Beanie and Cecil; here’s RN telling the story to Darrell Schweitzer. See photos of and by GY via the FANAC.org index. [JH]
Born July 8, 1934 – Merv Binns. Co-founded Melbourne SF Group, founded Melbourne Fantasy Film Group; ran first Australian SF bookshop Space Age Books; Guest of Honour [note spelling] at 9th Australian nat’l SF convention (“natcon”), 13th, 44th; at 2nd New Zealand natcon; chaired Cinecon, SF film convention. Big Heart (our highest service award). Ditmar, Chandler, Infinity, McNamara Awards. Fanzines Australian SF News, Out of the Bin. (Died 2020) [JH]
Born July 8, 1944 — Jeffrey Tambor, 76. I first encountered him on Max Headroom as Murray, Edison’s editor. Later on, and yes, I sat through that film, he’s Mayor Augustus Maywho in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Finally, I’ll note he was in both of the only true Hellboy films playing Tom Manning, director of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. (CE)
Born July 8, 1944 — Glen Cook, 76. With the exception of the new novel which I need to read, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. (CE)
Born July 8, 1945 – D. West. First-rate fanartist. See here (cover for Chunga), here (Inca), here (Banana Wings); a hundred fifty interiors in his consummately sour style. Here’s Randy Byers’ tribute (some harsh language, some fanzine slang). (Died 2015) [JH]
Born July 8, 1953 – Mark Blackman, 67. Chaired Lunacon 38. Illustrated (with Greg Costikyan) the New York Conspiracy’s Hymnal. I met him in TAPS (the Terrean Amateur Press Ass’n), later in person. Reports from New York, like this; can often be found in WOOF. [JH]
Born July 8, 1954 — Ellen Klages, 66. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my boutique favorite publisher of fantasy. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award is also really great. (CE)
Born July 8, 1970 — Ekaterina Sedia, 50. Her Heart of Iron novel is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow as well. It’s worth noting that both iBooks and Kindle list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilfill Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. They’re quite superb it turns out as is Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy anthology she edited which won a World Fantasy Award. (CE)
Born July 8, 1978 — George Mann, 42. Writer and editor. He’s edited a number of anthologies including the first three volumes of Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. Among my favourite books by him are his Newbury & Hobbes series, plus his excellent Doctor Who work. (CE)
Born July 8, 1978 – Erin Morgenstern, 42.New York Times Best-Seller The Night Circus won Alex and Locus Awards; 127 editions in 21 languages. The Starless Sea came next. Does Nat’l Novel Writing Month which indeed produced Circus; “I’m grateful to Chris Baty for coming up with such an outlandish idea and also he has very good taste in wine.” Otherwise she drinks Sidecars without sugar. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
You know what a bear does in the woods. Heathcliff shows what an alien does in the woods.
(13) SLAP HAPPY. [Item by Dann.] I came across this one and thought it might be of interest. Sasha Wood’s Casually Comics channel on YouTube offers a frequently fun and detailed look into various comics. This episode from last year covers the ubiquitous meme where Batman slaps Robin. Sasha does an entertaining dive into the alternative universe that was the World’s Finest series.
I have found Sasha’s approach to be well balanced, informative, and fun. A little signal boost in her direction would be a good thingTM.
(14) FLYING BY. Cat Rambo will be teaching “Principles for Pantsers” online on Saturday, August 1, 1-3 PM Pacific time. Registration and scholarship info at the link.
Some people outline. Others don’t. There’s plenty of advice on how to do the former, but those who practice the latter sometimes feel that they’re floundering, and no one’s providing any principles. Working with my own process as well as that of students, clients, and mentees, I’ve come up with twelve principles that you can apply, post-pantsing, in order to start moving from chaos to order.
Join Cat Rambo for a workshop in which they teach you how to pants successfully.
Merriam-Webster raised the hackles of stodgy grammarians last week when it affirmed the lexical veracity of “irregardless.”
The word’s definition, when reading it, would seem to be: without without regard.
“Irregardless is included in our dictionary because it has been in widespread and near-constant use since 1795,” the dictionary’s staff wrote in a “Words of the Week” roundup on Friday. “We do not make the English language, we merely record it.”
(16) WHY WAIT? Robert Zubrin says that an Artemis flight around the moon is possible this year: ““Artemis 8” using Dragon” in The Space Review.
A mission equivalent to Apollo 8—call it “Artemis 8”—could be done, potentially as soon as this year, using Dragon, Falcon Heavy, and Falcon 9.
The basic plan is to launch a crew to low Earth orbit in Dragon using a Falcon 9. Then launch a Falcon Heavy, and rendezvous in LEO with its upper stage, which will still contain plenty of propellant. The Falcon Heavy upper stage is then used to send the Dragon on Trans Lunar Injection (TLI), and potentially Lunar Orbit Capture (LOC) and Trans Earth Injection (TEI) as well.
Russia’s secret police on Tuesday arrested a respected former reporter who worked in recent months as an adviser to the head of the country’s space agency, accusing him of treason for passing secrets to a NATO country.
Life News, a tabloid news site with close ties to the security apparatus, posted a video of the former reporter, Ivan I. Safronov, being bundled off a leafy Moscow street into a gray van by plainclothes officers of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the domestic arm of what was known in Soviet times as the K.G.B.
The F.S.B. said that Mr. Safronov was suspected of working for the intelligence service of an unspecified NATO country, passing on “classified information about military-technical cooperation, defense and the security of the Russian Federation.”
What information that could be, however, was unclear. Mr. Safronov only started working at the space agency, Roscosmos, in May. Before that, he worked for more than a decade as a well-regarded journalist for Kommersant and then Vedomosti, both privately owned business newspapers with no obvious access to state secrets.
New evidence has been found for epic prehistoric voyages between the Americas and eastern Polynesia.
DNA analysis suggests there was mixing between Native Americans and Polynesians around AD 1200.
The extent of potential contacts between the regions has been a hotly contested area for decades.
In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl made a journey by raft from South America to Polynesia to demonstrate the voyage was possible.
Until now, proponents of Native American and Polynesian interaction reasoned that some common cultural elements, such as a similar word used for a common crop, hinted that the two populations had mingled before Europeans settled in South America.
Opponents pointed to studies with differing conclusions and the fact that the two groups were separated by thousands of kilometres of open ocean.
Alexander Ioannidis from Stanford University in California and his international colleagues analysed genetic data from more than 800 living indigenous inhabitants of coastal South America and French Polynesia.
… Penguin Random House hasn’t revealed a plot for the novel, but presumably, it’ll pick up the adventures of Wade, Aech, and Art3mis now that they’re in charge of the OASIS, and will come with plenty of nerd references.
However, Liptak was no fan of Ernest Cline’s most recent book, Armada, as he reminded his Reading List audience by reposting his review titled “Ernie Cline’s Armada Fucking Sucks”.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Truly, Madly, Cheaply! British B-Movies” on YouTube is a very entertaining 2008 BBC documentary presented by Matthew Sweet about the B movies produced in Britain from the 1930s to the 1970s. These films were in all sorts of genres, and ones in the 1930s gave Merle Oberon and Sir John Mills some of their first parts, but sf and fantasy films are discussed, including Devil Girl From Mars, Trog, and Konga. Also discussed is the 1973 film Psychomania (also known as The Death Wheelers), a zombie biker movie so bad that star Nicky Henson, interviewed by Sweet, said, “I can’t believe I’m talking to you about this film nearly 40 years later.” (Psychomania was also the final film of George Sanders.)
[Thanks to Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Dann, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
The Otherwise Award (formerly known as the Tiptree Award) celebrates science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of speculative narrative that expand and explore the understanding of gender. The jury that selects the Award’s winner and the Honor List is encouraged to take an expansive view of “science fiction and fantasy” and to seek out works that have a broad, intersectional, trans-inclusive understanding of gender in the context of race, class, nationality, disability, and more.
The winner of the Otherwise Award will receive $1000 in prize money, a specially commissioned piece of original artwork, and (as always) chocolate.
About the Winner
“Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater is beautiful, complicated, magical, challenging, and sometimes vividly cruel,” writes juror Edmond Y. Chang. “Told from multiple, overlapping, and often conflicted perspectives, the novel tells the story of Ada, who is caught between worlds, trying to navigate family, education, migration and immigration, Catholicism and Igbo spirituality, and what it means to be a self, a person. The novel does not shy away from explorations of gender nonconformity (particularly for people of color), sexuality, toxic masculinity, race, mental illness, and trauma. There are no easy paths or answers for Ada (or the reader), and therefore the novel imagines alternative, even radical forms of identity and most importantly survival. I will continue to think about Freshwater for a long, long time, adding it to my constellation of gorgeously intense stories like Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring, and Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy.”
On a more personal note, juror Bogi Takács. writes: “Sometimes a work comes that says something you carry in yourself as intimately as flesh and bones, but you’ve never seen reflected in fiction; speculative or otherwise. For me, Freshwater by Igbo and Tamil author Akwaeke Emezi was one of those works, straining against the constraints of Western literary genres and bursting them in a luminous display of strength…. Freshwater gives me hope, room to grow into myself as a reader, and a sense of relation that emerges across continents and traditions; with all our commonalities and differences.”
The finalsts for the 32nd Annual Lambda
Literary Awards were announced March 10. The finalists were selected by a panel
of over 60 literary professionals from more than 1,000 book submissions from
over 300 publishers.
The winners will be announced June 8 in New York City
Isabel Fall’s short story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” in the January Clarkesworld, the subject of intense discussion on Twitter this week, was removed from the magazine’s website today at the author’s request.
Editor Neil Clarke tweeted:
The story remains available to read at the Wayback Machine.
This roundup illustrates the sources of the discussion
within the sff community, and points to some of the more frequently cross-referenced
IS THE STORY TRANSPHOBIC?
D Franklin challenges numerous passages as transphobic. Thread starts here.
D Franklin agrees the story should have been pulled. Thread starts here.
Another critic of the story as transphobic makes a detailed case
for that viewpoint here.
Lynn E. O’Connacht communicates that “there’s a pretty big difference between “this story makes me uncomfortable’ and ‘this story caused me harm’”. Thread starts here.
Bogi Takács sheds light on some matters that drive the reception of this story and works by and about other minorities.
Phoebe North supports the story and author in “An Open Letter” at Medium, an autobiographical essay that concludes:
Whatever you decide to do with your story, Isabel, thank you for writing your story. Thank you for making me feel seen and heard. We don’t get a lot of ourselves in fiction. We often only get scraps. This was more than that. A mirror.
Berry Grass believes the story has shortcomings, but aligns more with those who consider it to be thought-provoking. Thread starts here.
Carmen Maria Machado wrote a long, thoughtful thread about provocative stories in the context of art and literature, but while I was editing this together she locked her tweets to all but followers so those are not available to quote.
Malcolm F. Cross criticizes the story as having shortcomings as MilSF, too, but marks out more territory on the art vs. harm map. Thread starts here.
Warren Adams-Ockrassa’s thread seems to say that whatever the writer’s goal was, they should have handled it differently. Starts here.
PULLING THE STORY.
Cat Rambo is sorry the story was pulled. Thread starts here.
One of several eye-opening comments on Rambo’s thread:
ROLE OF AN EDITOR.
Setsu U finds the discussion about the story connects with many questions and concerns they are responsible for as an editor. Thread starts here.
Several people have been circulating screenshots of a statement that’s represented as giving background about the story and author. I have neither found the source of the original post, nor confirmation that it is from a Clarkesworld spokesperson, so I am not posting these but you can find a copy here.
Alexandra Erin on why she won’t read the story. Thread starts here.
Cheryl Morgan says she hasn’t read the story, however, offered advice for holding the discussion. Thread starts here. Some of her points are —
There’s extended discussion at Metafilter. As a whole, I thought I learned more just by searching “Clarkesworld” on Twitter.
(1) A CLOCKWORK REWIND. After Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932), he wrote a book of essays about issues raised in the novel, Brave New World Revisited (1958). Anthony Burgess planned to do the same for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) in A Clockwork Condition. Burgess evidently decided he was a better novelist than a philosopher and never published his 200-page typescript, which now has been rediscovered by The Anthony Burgess Foundation: “Unseen Clockwork Orange ‘follow-up’ by Anthony Burgess unearthed”.
A previously unseen manuscript for a follow-up to writer Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in his archive.
A Clockwork Condition, which runs to 200 pages, is a collection of Burgess’ thoughts on the human condition and develops the themes from his 1962 book.
The novel told the story of the state’s attempt to cure a teenage delinquent.
The unfinished non-fiction follow-up is described as “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography”….
He then published a short autobiographical novel tackling some of the same themes, The Clockwork Testament, in 1974.
On Friday, the Design Museum in London launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which will include material from his Clockwork Orange film.
Cosplay: A History is a deluxe upcoming release from Saga Press celebrating the colorful kingdom of cosplay being compiled by writer/historian Andrew Liptak…
Inspiration to craft this upcoming book came from his interest in the history of the 501st Legion. At the same time, he was working closely with The Verge colleague Bryan Bishop and realized that costumers working today occupy a fascinating place between the intersection of fandom, entertainment, and technology.
Liptak’s own press release says –
Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company brokered the deal with Joe Monti of Saga Press. The initial goal as it stands right now is to have it turned in by next March, with it to hit stores in 2021. I’ll be doing quite a bit of research and writing in the coming months, and expect to see more about cosplay as I write.
The book is going to cover the broad history of cosplay and the state of the field. I’m looking at a lot of things: renaissance fairs, masquerade balls at science fiction conventions, groups like the 501st Legion, 405th Infantry Division, historical reenactors, protestors, and more.
The goal is to talk about why people dress up in costumes, and how they interact with the story that they’re reimagining. It’s a wonderful popular culture phenomenon, and there’s a lot to delve into with the intersections of fandom, the making and entertainment communities, and technology.
SWAMP THING follows Abby Arcane as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe. Based on the DC characters originally written and drawn by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.
(4) SF CONCATENATION. The summer edition of the SF2 Concatenation is now up, with its seasonal summary of SF news as well as a survey of
the primary research journals, for science philes, plus forthcoming SF/F and
non-fiction book releases from the major British Isles SF imprints.
And the regular articles include film charts and Gaia
for this season, another in the series of scientist-turned-SF-authors inspiring
scientists, a swathe of standalone fiction and non-fiction reviews. The next
seasonal edition will appear in September.
The cable network has given a series order to an animated Trek show from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman and Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman. The untitled, CG-animated series will follow a group of teenagers who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.
(8) MORE ON MCINTYRE. Kate
Schaefer sent a roundup of time-sensitive Vonda McIntyre news.
Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington.
Doors will open at 1:45, an event will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.
After short introductory remarks, we’ll have a microphone to pass around so that folks can share brief reminiscences of Vonda.
Also — Jeanne Gomoll and Stephanie Ann Smith are still collecting memories of Vonda for a tribute book to be distributed both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. Send your memories to Jeanne at email@example.com before May 11.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 25, 1897 — Fletcher Pratt. Pratt is best known for his collaborations with de Camp, the most well-known of which is the Harold Shea series which is collected as The Complete Enchanter. His solo fantasy novels The Well of the Unicorn and The Blue Star are also superb. Pratt established the literary dining club known as the Trap Door Spiders in 1944. The club would later fictionalized as the Black Widowers in a series of mystery stories by Asimov. Pratt would be fictionalized in one story, “To the Barest”, as the Widowers’ founder, Ralph Ottur. (Died 1956.)
Born April 25, 1925 — Richard Deming. Ok, I think that all of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, or in this case the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, in the digest-sized Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, were listed under the house name of Robert Hart Davis. Deming was only one of a very long list of writers (I know of Richard Curtis, Richard Deming, I. G. Edmonds, John Jakes, Frank Belknap Long, Dennis Lynds, Talmage Powell, Bill Pronzini, Charles Ventura and Harry Whittington) that were the writers who penned novellas in the twin U.N.C.L.E. series. (Died 1983.)
Born April 25, 1929 — Robert A. Collins. Scholar of science fiction who founded the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. Editor of the Fantasy Newsletter & Fantasy Review from 1978 to 1987, and editor of the IAFA Newsletter from 1988 to 1993. Editor, The Scope of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the First International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film and Modes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twelfth Annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2009.)
Born April 25, 1939 — Rex Miller. Horror writer with a hand in many pies, bloody ones at that. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) The Chaingang series featured Daniel Bunkowski, a half-ton killing-machine. Definitely genre. He contributed to some thirty anthologies including Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic Horror, Frankenstein: The Monster Wakes, Dick Tracy: The Secret Files and The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams. (Died 2005.)
Born April 25, 1950 — Peter Jurasik, 69. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his sins. (Yes spoiler.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5 — Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film.
Born April 25, 1952 — Peter Lauritson, 67. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Star Trek films.
Born April 25, 1969 — Gina Torres, 50. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And, of course, Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine?
(10) ACONYTE. Asmodee is a leading global games
publisher and distributor. Its game brands include Catan, Ticket to Ride,
Pandemic, Arkham Horror, and Legend of the Five Rings. More recent
hits have included the innovative fantasy card game KeyForge and the
co-operative zombie survival missions of Dead of Winter.
Entertainment has created their own fiction imprint — Aconyte, it will be
publishing novels based on many of Asmodee’s best game properties. Aconyte are
also actively pursuing licenses for third-party tie-in fiction, with the first
of these at the contract stage. Aconyte will start a monthly publication
schedule from early summer 2020, producing paperbacks and ebooks for the US, UK
and export trade.
To helm the imprint, Asmodee has appointed Marc Gascoigne, lately
publisher & MD of award-winning global scifi imprint Angry Robot. He’s hired
assistant editor, Lottie Llewelyn-Wells, and publishing coordinator, Nick
Tyler, to join him in new offices in Nottingham.
…But if this moment in pop culture started around 10 years ago, it’s coming to some sort of peak now, as two massively beloved pop culture properties reach endpoints. And there’s a definite finality to it. Here’s the curious thing about this moment: So much of this geek culture apotheosis revolves around the question of which of our favorite fictional characters are going to die. Call it geekpocalypse now….
(12) PAST ITS PEAK. From Wisecrack
— “Harry Potter & The Plague of
Twitter: Why JK Rowling Should Leave Harry Alone.”
JK Rowling has been regularly updating the Harry Potter lore; not through more books, not through movies, but through twitter. Fans voraciously consume extra-textual canon on works like Harry Potter, Star Wars and much more. But does this desire for an all-encompassing knowledge of how fictional worlds tell us something about our own anxieties? In this Wisecrack Edition, we’ll dive in to the works of philosopher Martin Heidegger to discover why people are so consumed by the desire to understand the nitty gritty details of fictional worlds, and to how it reflects an essential element of our humanity.
I don’t have strong feelings about Marie Kondo and her theories of decluttering. I know a number of people who have found her “does this object spark joy” way of relating to stuff to be meaningful and if feeling overwhelmed by too many possessions is an issue for you then it might be just what the doctor ordered. I have no problem with Kondo giving this advice, take it or leave it…
I did, however, have some opinions on the Electric Lit article defending Kondo and decrying “bookishness.” The background is that in an episode of Kondo’s TV series she suggested that people get rid of books that do not “spark joy” and book lovers began to write think pieces about whether or not books are clutter. Some people had strong feelings on the subject.
Book buying, and book writing, have long been feminine activities. As I have pointed out here a number of times, in Victorian England female authors outsold their male counterparts, but their works were not deemed worthy of serious study and the memory of many once influential women has not found its way down to us. (A number of scholars are now trying to recover these “lost” works and bring them to our attention.) Books by women or which women appreciated have consistently been written off as fluffy, sentimental, non-intellectual and unimportant. If Egginton is correct, women were not only major consumers of popular literature, they were also creating “serious” libraries and archives to rival men’s, but their efforts, like their books, were denigrated.
It is interesting then to see a feminist writer contrasting the masculine “highly discriminating form of curated library collection” with the feminine “highly personalized, almost fannish, engagement with books.” Then following this with an argument that the feminized form of consumption led to the emotional engagement with middlebrow literature that book blogs now celebrate.
…Is it at all possible a century of being judged by the cleanliness of their homes, being told that this was more important than their intellects, and that their taste in literature is trivial might have colored their reactions to an authority suggesting their books might be clutter?
(14) COMING TO A BOIL. Here’s
the new poster for GeyserCon, the 40th
New Zealand National Convention happening in another six weeks:
(15) OUR MARCHING ORDERS.
Hugo Picks”, Timothy the Talking Cat’s recommendations bear all the marks
of a slate – because he put them there.
I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a slate. Vote for each of these in this order or else.
Physicists are drawing nearer to answering a long-standing mystery of the Universe: how long a neutron lives. Neutrons are electrically neutral particles the nucleus of atoms.
Some neutrons are not bound up in atoms; these free-floating neutrons decay radioactively into other particles in minutes. But physicists can’t agree on precisely how long it takes a neutron to die. Using one laboratory approach, they measure the average neutron lifetime as 14 minutes 39 seconds. Using a different approach, they get 8 seconds longer!
Pinpointing the lifetime of a neutron is important for understanding how much hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed in the first few minutes after the Universe was born 13.8 billion years ago.
The observations were made by the Chinese scholar Xie Zhaozhe (1567–1624)…
Obviously this account is extremely useful for writers of fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know if the (vast) Chinese literature contains any other first-person accounts of dragons, much less ones recorded by such a careful and specific observer. I’m pretty sure there are no good first-person descriptions from the other end of Eurasia.
Then there’s the question of what Xie Zhaozhe “actually” saw….
SFWA Grand Master Joe Haldeman takes Brian and Ken behind the scenes of his storied career in an exclusive interview. Among other conversation topics…
How “I of Newton” went from the page to The Twilight Zone
The unusual origins of Hugo Award–winning short story “Tricentennial”
Getting The Forever War published (and bootlegging the stage production)
Details about Joe’s new novel in the works (!!!)
(19) MAD, I TELL YOU. A
TED-Ed presentation written and
narrated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “Titan
of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.”
Dive into the stories of horror savant H.P. Lovecraft, whose fantastical tales, such as “The Call of Cthulhu,” created a new era of Gothic horror
Arcane books of forbidden lore, disturbing secrets in the family bloodline, and terrors so unspeakable the very thought of them might drive you mad. These have become standard elements in modern horror stories. But they were largely popularized by a single author: H.P. Lovecraft, whose name has become synonymous with the terror he inspired. Silvia Moreno-García dissects the “Lovecraftian” legacy.
Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Liptak, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA,
Doctor Science, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, John A
Arkansawyer, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Congressional hopeful Dean Phillips, a Democrat running in Minnesota, says Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen is so detached from his home district, he’s practically impossible to find.
(2) STORMY WEATHER. Mur Lafferty’s Hugo win (with Matt Wallace) for Ditch Diggers was not completely washed out by Hurricane Florence, but the news did get bumped to fifth place in her latest post at The Murverse Mothership (where you can also see a photo of her wearing a chicken hat at the Hugo Losers Party).
Florence: We are fine. Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina and South Carolina last weekend, and wandered slowly through the state, dumping lots and lots of rain. The flooding was catastrophic. Oddly enough, when we thought our area would get hit with the eye, the storm turned and moved south of us, then turned north. We got wind, rain, Fiona’s school lost a big tree, but our area is largely unscathed. We did have some excitement yesterday when the last tail end of the storm whipped around and smacked us, letting Durham get a taste of the flooding and tornadoes that the rest of the state has suffered, but that didn’t last too long. If you can give to hurricane relief to help the eastern part of the state, please do.
(3) OBSERVATIONS ABOUT SF IN FRENCH. Matthew Rettino reports on “Congrès Boréal 2018: Differences between Anglophone and Francophone SF” at Archaeologies of the Weird, including the panel “L’imaginaire a-t-il une langue? Différence culturelle dans l’imaginaire anglophone et francophone” (“Does the imagination have a language? Cultural differences in the anglophone and francophone imaginary.”)
…One interesting idea that arose: language does not inherently carry the values of a society. Rather, culture does. The different traumas and schisms that define a society do have a much greater influence on national literature. For example, Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem, remarked one of the panelists, is marked by the impact of the Cultural Revolution in China. This echoes how French SF is marked by the policy of laïcité (state secularism), the origins of which go back to the French Revolution. There did seem to be truth to this observation, given how French-language SF is in a sense more “secular” in its embrace of violent and sexual themes that would religious people shiver. On the other hand, anglophone SF retains a more “puritanical” attitude in the literature it produces and censors, particularly in the United States.
This being said, certain attitudes to the French language itself do influence French SF. Patrick Senecal pointed out later in the discussion that French-language editors have a tendency to homogenize the different registers of the language, leading to less linguistic diversity. When editing dialogue, French publishers often edit out regional dialect in favour of “le Français internationale.” The result is a banal, grammatically correct French, where all characters sound the same. These editing decisions do not accommodate the regional French spoken in certain regions of Québec, for example, which leads to a more monovocal (as opposed to polyvocal) body of literature. This is not just unappealing; it’s unrealistic and unrepresentative of how French is actually spoken. As Senecal quipped, “Il n’y a personne qui parle comme Radio Canada!”
Elon Musk unveiled a new design for SpaceX’s BFR rocket on Thursday, and he’s taking inspiration from a famous series of Belgian comics. The CEO confirmed on Twitter that the new design “intentionally” bears resemblance to the vehicles depicted in The Adventures of Tintin, the whimsical series that depicts Tintin and his friends embarking on far-flung trips to find new stories.
…The redesign shared with the moon announcement bears similarities to rockets as featured in Hergé’s comic series. The 1950 comic Destination Moon shows a red-and-yellow checkered rocket with three giant fins on the base, elevating the rocket above the ground, which Tintin and his friends use to visit the moon and explore a secret government project.
– If you are a humanities professor, you say something that is clearly pleasure-reading, but at least vaguely cerebral. Witty mysteries about British academics are good, or the sort of science fiction that doesn’t have aliens on the cover.
– If you work in tech support, you are allowed to read the kind of books with aliens on the cover.
“Nitty-gritty stuff like this is super important when you’re sitting on an Earth moving 70,000 mph around a star that is moving 450,000 mph around a galaxy center,” Grant Tremblay, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Gizmodo.
…The ICRF-3 […] places the center of the reference frame at the Solar System’s center of mass, and is oriented based on the position of distant bright radio sources called quasars. Those measurements were made using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), essentially a method of using the entire Earth as a telescope, collecting data from multiple radio telescopes and combining them to get the highest-resolution image possible.
This most recent frame derives from measurements of 4,536 quasars, all between 100 million and 10 billion light-years away. […] The most recent edition also takes the motion of our own Milky Way galaxy into account for the first time, according to a press release from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam.
I even remember the first conversation I had with my dad about being a Mexicanx recipient. He was initially wary, doubting a stranger on the internet would give away something like that. I explained the situation and mentioned John’s name. “¡Si! ¡John es un monstruo de la ciencia ficción!” Translation note: If I tried to literally translate what my dad meant to say, it would sound as if John was a monster. My dad meant it more as “He is HUGE in the science fiction world.” Bottom line, he knew more about John than me.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
September 18, 1964 – The Addams Family premiered on television.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 18 – Lynn Abbey, 70. Author best known for her Thieves World fiction though her first works for was for TSR games including stories set in the Forgotten Realms and the Dark Sun games. Daughter of the Bright Moon was edited by Gordon R. Dickson and I’ll let someone here tell that story.
Born September 18 – Caitlin Kittredge, 34. Author of the Black London urban fantasy series featuring Jack Winter and Pete Caldecott which I think is one is the finest such series ever done. Also wrote the Iron Codex, Nocturne City and Hellhound Chronicle series. Currently writer on Witchblade series.
(10) W76 PANEL RESOURCES. Bogi Takács has released notes prepared for use when appearing on two panels at Worldcon 76.
I promised the writeups of my notes for Worldcon 2018 panels! The first one is for Queer Joy. I am honestly not sure which of these works I actually mentioned on the panel, these were my advance notes and I just tidied them up and hyperlinked them.
[At the post are lists of works under each of these categories — ]
Presents oppression / discrimination and/or suffering, but also joy:
Recent-ish anthologies with related material (not all stories might be related):
More grim SFF which is still queer-inclusive and queer people are not persecuted in-universe:
These are my advance notes, but I also mentioned on the panel how queer families seem to be non-multigenerational in SFF, and we had a fairly lengthy discussion about that. So I tried to add which of the works buckle that trend.
(11) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED A WRITER. The latest Brandon Sanderson newsletter talks about constructing his office – which is epic, just like his books. (See photos at the link.)
I always like to include something about my life in these newsletters—something unrelated to the books. So today, I thought I’d post some updates on my office, which we’re building in the empty lot beside my house.
I’m building it underground, because…well, what else would you expect from a fantasy novelist? It’s been an interesting process, since the city really has no idea what to do with someone like me. I call it my Underground Supervillain Lair, something that the suburbs in Utah really aren’t that equipped to deal with. But, after some work, we’ve gotten permissions. Peter has been taking pictures of it.
First, we dug out a huge pit. I don’t go halfway on underground lairs—so we’re doing 20-foot ceilings. The kids had a wonderful time digging in this hole, and I’m convinced they’d have loved it if we never put anything in it.
After signing a six-figure deal with Tor Books, author Mary Robinette Kowal will expand to her Lady Astronaut series over the next several years with two new novels, The Relentless Moon and The Derivative Base, as well as a standalone sci-fi murder mystery novel, The Spare Man. The new Lady Astronaut titles will join this summer’s fantastic The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, which followed pilot and mathematician Elma York through an alternate history 1950s space race aimed at sending humanity to off-world colonies after an extinction-level asteroid strike on Earth. The Relentless Moon is expected to drop in 2020, with The Spare Man to follow in 2021, and The Derivative Base in 2022.
Both novels are set in the “punch-card-punk” world that Kowal established in her 2013 novelette, “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.” The Calculating Stars begins in 1953, as the asteroid lands off of Washington, DC, devastating the US East Coast. York and her colleagues quickly realize that the incident has started a chain reaction that will change the climate of the Earth in decades, making it inhospitable to human life. In response, a coalition of nations forms the International Aerospace Coalition (IAC), which works to first reach space, and then figure out how to live there.
Tanith Lee’s classic duology Don’t Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine is set on a desert world hostile to unprotected life. Not that this matters, because all of its human inhabitants live in one of three domed cities: Four BEE, Four BAA, and Four BOO. Within those cities, virtually every need and desire is met. Even death is only a momentary inconvenience before one is incarnated in a new designer body.
The nameless protagonist, offered material paradise, commits the unforgivable sin of realizing that while the options offered are pleasant, none of them are meaningful. That realization is the border between life in paradise and life in a cossetted hell. Unfortunately for our hero, the Powers That Be in the three cities are determined to maintain the status quo of their cozy societies, keeping them just as they are…which means crushing (by any means necessary) any pesky aspirations for personal fulfillment.
Soon, the theater classes led to his first auditions, which eventually landed him his first film gig, “A Product of Me,” at age 7. In the years since, Owen has been in eight more movies, most notably acting opposite A-list stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in the comedies “Daddy’s Home” and “Daddy’s Home 2.”
On September 6th, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) made the decision to temporarily vacate the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico as a precautionary measure while addressing a security issue. The facility closed down in an orderly fashion and is now re-opening. The residents that vacated their homes will be returning to the site, and all employees will return to work this week.
AURA has been cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak. During this time, we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.
The decision to vacate was based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat. AURA determined that moving the small number of on-site staff and residents off the mountain was the most prudent and effective action to ensure their safety.
In light of recent developments in the investigation, we have determined there is no risk to staff, and Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th. Given the significant amount of publicity the temporary closure has generated, and the consequent expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the site, we are temporarily engaging a security service while the facility returns to a normal working environment.
We recognize that the lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some. However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take.
(16) CAN’T SAY THAT. Ryan George discovers “Being a Motivational Speaker in the MCU Sucks.”
[Thanks to JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Michael J. Walsh, Alan Baumler, Andrew Liptak, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
One of the UK’s leading female astronomers is to donate her £2.3m winnings from a major science prize she was awarded.
The sum will go to fund women, under-represented ethnic minority and refugee students to become physics researchers.
Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has been awarded a Breakthrough Prize for the discovery of radio pulsars.
This was also the subject of the physics Nobel in 1974, but her male collaborators received the award.
The Breakthrough award also recognises her scientific leadership.
Prof Bell Burnell believes that under-represented groups – who will benefit from the donation – will bring new ideas to the field.
“I don’t want or need the money myself and it seemed to me that this was perhaps the best use I could put to it,” she told BBC News.
Prof Bell Burnell’s story has been both an inspiration and motivation for many female scientists. As a research student when pulsars were discovered, she was not included in the Nobel prize citation – despite having been the first to observe and analyse the astronomical objects (a type of neutron star that emits a beam of radiation).
She now says she wants to use her prize money to counter what she describes as the “unconscious bias” that she believes still occurs in physics research jobs.
The discovery was so dramatic it was awarded the Nobel prize in 1974. But while Hewish was named as a winner, Bell Burnell was not. The decision drew vocal criticism from the British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, but Bell Burnell has not complained.
“I feel I’ve done very well out of not getting a Nobel prize,” she said. “If you get a Nobel prize you have this fantastic week and then nobody gives you anything else. If you don’t get a Nobel prize you get everything that moves. Almost every year there’s been some sort of party because I’ve got another award. That’s much more fun.”
(2) INCLUSION. There is a discussion taking place over the submissions call for Artemis Rising, and what is an effective inclusive phrasing.
Artemis Rising is an annual month-long event across all four Escape Artists podcasts, highlighting women in genre fiction, a demographic that has been underrepresented until recent years. This showcase helps to address that historical imbalance and correct the impression, which continues to persist in some social circles, that women cannot write excellent genre fiction.
…Prior to 2018, we specifically included the term “non-binary” in our Artemis Rising submission calls. English is flawed in its ability to accurately represent the breadth of human genders, and as such the language we use is always evolving. We respect the feedback that we’ve received regarding our use of “non-binary” as a catch-all: that it erroneously tilts the perception of non-binary people in a feminine direction. Non-binary authors who identify as women are welcome and encouraged to participate. An author’s gender and its expression are theirs alone to determine.
I have noticed a trend where more and more venues change their phrasing to “women + nonbinary” only to then revert back to “women only” after a period of time. This can be very difficult for nonbinary authors they published in the meanwhile who are not women. (Including, occasionally, me.)
I used to say that “women + nonbinary” can be acceptable as a phrasing, even if not ideal. In the light of this recent trend, I changed my mind and no longer recommend such calls for submission. Nonbinary people can be and often are very rapidly erased from such phrasings…
I tend to recommend “marginalized genders / sexes.” This includes all trans and intersex people, while also including cis non-intersex women. It also includes nonbinary people in general….
There follows (at the linked post) a really interesting and informative FAQ that analyzes a lot of issues involved in the choice of wording. Takács cautions,
This is not the be-all-end-all of nonbinary inclusion in calls for submissions, just my thoughts as someone who is a writer and editor who gets asked all these questions frequently.
Escape Artists’ S.B. Divya , in “Letter to SF”, commented on the issues – here is an excerpt:
…So instead, this is me inviting you to have a conversation. All I ask is that you give me the benefit of your doubt. I know I’m relatively new to this industry so you have no reason to trust me, but please give a chance. I’ll try to keep the rest of this as brief and minimal as necessary to help you know where I’m coming from.
Please note: this is all from me, not representing anyone else at Escape Artists, Escape Pod, or the Artemis Rising project.
I was the one who pushed back on “marginalized genders” when we began discussing this year’s Artemis Rising submissions call back in spring.
I will remove myself from Artemis Rising because I can’t comfortably be part of that conversation anymore. In avoiding my negative emotional triggers, I ended up hurting others, and I don’t want to inflict any more pain on the world. I apologize to everyone affected by this.
I find the word marginalized deeply problematic on a personal level. I lived several years in a high school of 1500 students where I could count the number of Asians on one hand. It was not a good time in my life. Being marginalized is something that was done to me in the past. Inhabiting the margins – or not – is something I actively choose today….
Thank you for your thoughts! I appreciate you taking the time to write them out. I think I have already said everything I meant to say in my blog post (including alternatives to "marginalized" too) and replies to it, so for the time being I am sitting back a bit –
Thank you for the work that you do in this arena. I think it could be productive to have a round table discussion with others on how to achieve representation in a more intersectional context, i.e., not only gender, and where this leaves special submission calls.
Rachel K. Jones, a former Escape Artists editor who helped start the annual Artemis Rising cycle, also responded to the discussion. Her Twitter thread starts here.
There are often real safety issues with sharing your identity. Family safety. Employment. Ability to get health insurance. If you’re nodding along as you read this, you know what it means to do the calculus on a call for submissions and come up on the side of sitting it out.
(3) FAREWELL TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET. Richard Bruton has closed the Forbidden Planet blog, noted here because Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon wrote a hundred posts for them over the years. Bruton explained:
Well, you might have heard, you might have not, but as from this week, the FPI Blog shall be no more. The online side of things at FPI is changing, and the blog simply isn’t part of the future sadly. But, it’s been a wonderful thing while it lasted, a decade plus of incredible comics coverage, serving the UK comics scene as only a few others have really done over the years.
Yep, from this weekend, the blog is being shuttered. Alas.
I started here in 2007 (with this post in fact), a couple of years after the blog itself had started. Initially, it was meant to be the place for a few reviews. It swiftly became a lot more than that. And now, after over 6,000 posts from me, it’s time to say goodnight.
(4) FOURTH MURDERBOT. There’s an excerpt available, however, I resisted reading it because I’ve already got the book pre-ordered and don’t want to spoil my own enjoyment. That won’t be an obstacle for some of you, and will be a treat for others who have not discovered Wells’ series before now –
Since then, WashingCon has grown in attendance and variety of activities. The library is open for anyone to check out something that looks interesting, with volunteers on hand to teach rules to beginners. A gamer might sit down to play with friends, but it’s also typical to just ask random passersby if they’d like to join.
“It’s an easy icebreaker,” says Dave Chalker, a local board-game designer who’s attended all three WashingCons. “You get to meet people throughout the course of the game, and you might even stay together as a group to play a new game together. That side of it is just so casual and welcoming.”
The convention also hosts panel discussions on subjects like inclusivity and diversity in gaming, as well as how to make a living as a designer. (That one’s hosted by Chalker.) There are tournaments for popular games like Pandemic, Codenames and Settlers of Catan.
The Dave Chalker quoted here is the son of Jack and Eva Whitley Chalker.
(6) FOLLYCON. Peter Tyers’ report of this year’s Eastercon is posted at SF Concatenation – “Follycon 2018”.
Follycon 2018 was held at the Majestic Hotel in the Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate. In some ways it was a convention of two halves: the convention catering, which left a lot to be desired (for reasons described later), and the convention itself, which was most enjoyable and very successful.
…The Opening Ceremony was straight after lunch and we were introduced to the committee and the Guests of Honour: Kim Stanley Robinson (author), Nnedi Okorafor (author), Kieron Gillen (graphic novelist and games enthusiast), and Christina Lake (author and fan), who were much in evidence over the weekend. Stan Robinson gave several talks and covered the life and times of John Muir (including his influence on California and the creation of Yosemite National Park), Galileo and the Scientific Method, generally recalled his previous visits to our shores, and answered many questions from the audience. Nnedi Okorafor was interviewed by Tade Thompson and she was relaxed and forthcoming, covering her intended career as a professional tennis player, curtailed by illness, and how she turned to writing. She also gave a couple of readings and a kaffeeklatsch though her writer’s schedule meant that sometimes she had to retire to her room and meet a few deadlines (lookout for her name on output from the world of Marvel Comics, especially Black Panther stories)….
(7) SPIDER-GEDDON. I thought the artwork for the new Spider-Geddon comics series was impressive:
REVENGE OF THE SPIDER-VERSE! Marvel is excited to celebrate SPIDER-GEDDON from Christos Gage and Jorge Molina with a spectacular, brand-new connecting variant cover by superstar artist InHyuk Lee.
Unlike the variant covers that will accompany SPIDER-GEDDON’s debut, this stellar cover connects all six issues, including the prelude #0 issue, celebrating the multitude of Spideys that appear in the story – from old favorites to new favorites to the newest member of the Spider-Man family, Peter Parker from the world of Marvel’s Spider-Man!
Featuring new villains and old villains, shocking deaths and shocking returns, and all the Spider characters you can fit into one larger-than-life tale, this is a Marvel Spider-Event not to be missed! Don’t miss the opportunity to dive into this fresh new adventure October 10th, when SPIDER-GEDDON #1 hits comic shops!
(8) FRASER OBIT. Liz Fraser (1930-2018): British actress, died September 6, aged 88. Television appearances include The Avengers (one episode, 1966, playing an actress hired to impersonate Emma Peel), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1970). Featured in four Carry on movies.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
September 6, 1956 – Fire Maidens from Outer Space premiered.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 6 — China Miéville, 46. — Bas-Lag series, myriad stand-alone novels including o I really like, Kraken and The City & The City, plus I’ll single out Embassytown, Un Lun Dun and The Last Days of New Paris which is the only work by him I never finished. He won a Hugo for The City & The City. He’s wrote scripts for Hellblazer, Justice League and Dial H.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump — Would you like to know what bugs time travelers more than anything?
Needless to say, when I look at a cat, I see a clearly superior being. But what do cats think when they look at us? Well, according to some experts, cats might think humans are cats, too. Bigger, clumsier cats, sure — but cats nonetheless.
According to John Bradshaw, an expert on cat behavior and author of a bestselling book on cat science, there’s plenty of evidence that points to the fact that cats see humans as nothing more than fellow cats. In an interview with National Geographic, Bradshaw stated, “We’ve yet to discover anything about cat behavior that suggests they have a separate box they put us in when they’re socializing with us. They obviously know we’re bigger than them, but they don’t seem to have adapted their social behavior much.”
The British-built Aeolus satellite has begun firing its laser down on Earth to map the planet’s winds.
It is a big moment for the European Space Agency mission, the technology for which took 16 years to develop.
Launched two weeks ago from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, Aeolus is now undergoing three months of testing.
(14) WORD USE FREQUENCY. Fanzine fans have spent decades trying to identify the authors of various hoax and anonymous publications using techniques like this – and failing spectacularly (just going by my own track record of what I’ve gotten away with…)This Twitter thread, which starts here, gathered some entertaining responses.
What is the word choice that would give you away as the author of an anonymous op-ed?
(15) ABOUT THAT MOON FLAG NONSCENE NONSENSE. Homer Hickam, author of the memoir Rocket Boys, which was made into the film October Sky, has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post about the controversy over the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man not having the scene where Armstrong unfurls a flag on the moon. Hickam says the issue of the flag on the moon wasn’t a big deal in 1969 and he plans to see the movie because First Man is based on a book he thinks is an excellent biography of Neil Armstrong: “The new Neil Armstrong movie is about more than the lunar flag-planting”.
…Author James R. Hansen worked hard to reveal a man who comes across in the book as a kind of techno-Atticus Finch — someone who never says outright what he believes but demonstrates it through his actions.
I suspect this vision of Armstrong affected the filmmakers. No one ever saw Armstrong do a fist-pump; he just didn’t do that kind of thing. Raising the flag on the moon might be perceived as that kind of gesture and therefore jar the flow of a film trying to uncover the inner workings of a man who spent a lifetime keeping his emotions in check. Although I personally would have included the flag-raising — it was a moment of rare lightheartedness between Neil and Buzz — I understand from experience the decisions that writers and directors sometimes make to fit their vision of their characters, even ones based on real people….
This year we’re excited to introduce TWO new flavors of candy canes. We’ve got Clamdy Canes that taste like sweet clams, and Mac & Cheese Candy Canes that taste like that little packet of cheese powder that comes with instant macaroni and cheese. Savory candy canes are an inevitable wave of the future; you might as well switch now and avoid the rush. Don’t forget to order Pickle Candy Canes now! They sell out every year.
(17) ZOMBIES IN YOUR STOCKING. Here’s the Anna and the Apocalypse Official Trailer. “This year’s feel-good Christmas hit!” exclaims one possibly-already-zombified critic. Based on Ryan McHenry’s 2011 short Zombie Musical.
Music. Christmas. Zombies. Watch the official trailer for Anna and the Apocalypse and see why critics are calling it “Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land”! In theaters this holiday season.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Smith, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Bacon, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]
When Worldcon 76 program participants were sent their schedules over the weekend such controversy resulted that the schedule was taken offline this morning, Chair Kevin Roche issued an apology, and the committee now is reviewing the participant bios, asking to hear from Hugo nominees who haven’t been put on the program and, presumably, filling the vacancies left by writers who have now dropped out.
Three issues drawing the most fire in social media have been —
Respect for people’s chosen pronouns (and related concerns about LGBTQAI+ and POC participation);
Whether new writers are being accepted onto programming (with skepticism fueled by the realization that several newer writers who are Hugo nominees are not on the program); and
Dissatisfaction with responses by the Worldcon 76 program division.
Lighting off the social media cycle was Hugo nominee Bogi Takács’ call for an apology after seeing eir bio in the program database. (The thread starts here.)
I would very much appreciate a public apology from @worldcon2018 for rewriting my bio to change my name and my gender.
I have never, ever used "he" pronouns.
After many similar exclusionary actions, this is the last straw, I am honestly not sure I can safely attend. pic.twitter.com/agazsY1rmV
Unfortunately, Roche’s general apology was preceded by another one based on some wrong information, leading to this exchange:
Okay, the baldfaced lies are getting ridiculous at this point. There is literally no publicly published bio of Bogi's on the internet that uses he/him pronouns. Your team did not pull an incorrect bio, they pulled a correct one and then DELIBERATELY EDITED IT TO MISGENDER BOGI.
— ?Nibedita Sen, smol potato @ Readercon ? (@her_nibsen) July 23, 2018
I was told in good faith by my head of Program this. She believed this. I am continuing to investigate.
And how exactly is an apology from the chair of the convention "Not Official"?
If this is your reasoning @worldcon2018 you can take me off your programming right fucking now. I don’t want to be there if a fucking HUGO NOMINATION isn’t enough for a new/marginalized writer to be considered of value. pic.twitter.com/MaqdOfGD0m
Do not put this on us. Or the many NON finalists who asked to be included on programming and were summarily turned away bc programming was “full”. A community is not just made out of a handful of people FFS. https://t.co/FpnIgEdxjU
Just a data point but: I’m up for a 3rd Hugo & San Jose will be my 3rd Worldcon but this is the 1ST TIME I’ve ever been included on programming. And that 1st Worldcon? I was attending as the 1st Filipina Hugo finalist but no programming for me til now so ?????? pic.twitter.com/O9dgMf56w3
Before going further I want to acknowledge that @worldcon2018’s chair has posted an apology & a commitment to investigate the issues—but I really want to know how this happened, & how to prevent it from happening again.
For the record, the email Program Division Head Christine Doyle sent to program participants yesterday said in part:
We had over 2000 people ask to be on the program, and unfortunately there was no way to accommodate everyone. Similarly, we had over 2000 program items submitted, with lots of duplication in some areas, and we couldn’t schedule them all.
We realized that many people didn’t receive our initial communications, because they were either blocked without us getting notice (i.e., earthlink), or filtered into the promotions bin (gmail).
We may contact some people for headshots and bios. If the headshot and/or bio that we have for you is not to your liking, please contact us with suggested edits or replacements. A note about names: for consistency and fairness, we are not using any prefixes (honorifics) or suffixes for your name unless it changes who you are (Sr/Jr/III). That said, we fully expect all of those details to be in the bios. Let us know if we need to edit the bio to get this included.
The present controversy has cost Worldcon 76 some of its best-known participants.
N.K. Jemisin dropped out of Worldcon 76 programming:
FYI for all — I've withdrawn from @worldcon2018 programming, which frees up 2 hours for (hopefully) #ownvoices panels, etc.
A Twitter thread on the recent contretemps at Worldcon 76, where many newer writers (including some Hugo finalists) were not represented on the initial programming slate
Including this comment:
5. With this year's Worldcon, we're having discussion about who gets to be seen on programming. As someone now who is *definitely* seen, I think it's important that we continue to pay it forward — to give new voices, new people and new perspectives a literal seat at the table.
There are program items I cannot step out of (specifically the memorial panel for Harlan Ellison), but I have written to the Worldcon Committee and asked them to cancel my reading and slot in a Hugo nominee or a person of color or a woman into that spot instead.
I will be taking a second look at a couple other panel assignments as well.
David D. Levine also offered to vacate his place on Worldcon 76 program.
I haven't yet reached the point of canceling my @worldcon2018 participation, but I would gladly give up my panels if that's what it takes to get marginalized authors a seat on the podium.
I directed the Program Division to take down the preliminary program information that was released yesterday evening. There were too many errors and problems in it to leave it up.
I am sorry we slighted and angered so many of the people we are gathering to meet, honor, and celebrate. This was a mistake, our mistake. We were trying to build a program reflecting the diversity of fandom and respectful of intersectionality. I am heartbroken that we failed so completely.
We are tearing the program apart and starting over. It was intended to be a reflection of the cultures, passions, and experiences of Worldcon membership, with room for both new voices and old. What we released yesterday failed to do that; we must do better.
Many of you have offered to help us do a better job. Thank you. We cannot accept all those offers, but yes, we will be turning to some of you to help us do it better this time.
We will continue to reach out to the Hugo Finalists we have missed connections with, to ensure any who wish to be on the program will have a place on it.
Chair, Worldcon 76 in San Jose
An additional complaint about how the bios seem to have been created:
I'm just here to have a good time and maybe get some Taco Bell. Like, my public website has a bio and lots of art already there for use? *sigh*
— Fictograph | grace p fong @ Worldcon (@fictograph) July 23, 2018
More dissatisfaction about program from two Hugo nominees.
So, I'm a Hugo nominee, I've been a finalist for the Eugie Foster and Theodore Sturgeon Award (twice), won the Asimov's & AnLab Reader's award multiple times, and @worldcon2018 has put me on exactly one programming item: a kaffeeklatch the last day, an hour after hotel checkout.
I really want to see everyone in their favorite convention duds, have amazing conversations, know that folks are being treated well and uplifted, enjoying themselves. I want it to be everyone’s best night. And it is shaping up very much not to be.
So, this is one of those posts that’s going to be mystifying to a lot of people but make perfect sense to others. It’s a busy day and I don’t have the time or wherewithal to go into the background. The short version is: WorldCon 76 is fudging up quite badly in how it treats attendees, up to and including finalists for its crown jewel Hugo Award. Multiple genderqueer, non-binary, and non-conforming members have spoken up about feeling unsafe and disrespected, and WorldCon’s safety team is not inspiring a lot of confidence.
Accordingly, I am taking one of my standing offers at WisCon and expanding and formalizing it for the larger WorldCon: I am forming a Queer Rapid Response Team. Before the convention next month, I will set up an automated channel that will text any messages onward to everybody on the team. The idea is that if anybody in the family needs an escort, needs a friendly face, needs emotional support, or whatever, we can form up on them like queer Voltron.
Congratulations to Lammy winners Carmen Maria Machado (Lesbian Fiction), Bogi Takács (Transgender Fiction), Emil Ferris (LGBTQ Graphic Novels), and Annalee Newitz (LGBTQ SF/F/Horror). The awards were presented the 30th Annual Lambda Literary Award ceremony on June 4.
The Lammys celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing.
The winners in categories which had nominees of genre interest are reported below. The full list of 23 category winners is available on Twitter.