Agner Wins NESFA 2019-2020 Short Story Contest

The results of the 2019-2020 NESFA® Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest were announced at Boskone 57 on February 16, 2020.

The contest “encourages amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.”

Steve Lee says, “We got submissions from all around the world, including one in Russian (which we sent back for an English translation).”

Winner:

  • “Stick in the Mud” by Mary Alexandra Agner

First Runner-Up:

  • “Hope Chest” by Sarah Day

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Author of the Dreams of an Outer God” by Jonathan Bronico
  • “Deathtree” by Kit Harding
  • “The Gravity of Grace” by Carina Bissett

First readers: James Boggie, Ann Crimmins, David G. Grubbs, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kerpan, Suford Lewis, and Kelsey Pouk.

Final round judges: Elaine Isaak, Tony Lewis, and Kim Stanley Robinson

Cats Sleep on SFF: Boskone

Lis Carey gives credit to where it’s due to a “cat-sized critter”:

Dora wishes the sf world to know that this past weekend, she did her part for the cause, working the NESFA sales table at Boskone for a whole hour. She was shocked to discover that this involved allowing people she’d never sniffed before to carry away books.


Photos of other cats (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

Andrew Porter’s Boskone 57 Photo Gallery

Andrew Porter had writers, dealers and artists in his sights at this year’s Boskone. (Thanks to George R. Morgan for identifying the subjects.)

  • Ben Yalow and Michael Walsh
  • Brad “Chumley” Verter and Joe Berlant 
  • Sally Kobee of Larry Smith Books 
  • Stan “the Man” Musial, uh, Robinson
  • British artist Jim Burns – NESFA Press Guest  
  • Boskone artist GoH Eric Wilkerson 
  • Holly Black YA Fiction Guest 
  • Brad “Chum” Verter
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • First Fandom Experience guys; right is David Ritter, on left, son Daniel Ritter, both chums/creators of The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom-Volume one the 1930s, available at Boskone 57
  • Bunch of early fans; page from the Ritters’ book (note name directory to left of photo)
  • Robert Wiener
  • L-R  William Hayashi, Mark Olson, Alexander Jablakov, Kim Stanley Robinson “The Consequences of Actually Finding Life on Mars” Panel
  • Tor paid for this cake

Boskone 2020 Report

Kim Stanley Robinson

By Daniel Dern. Boskone 57, Feb 14-16, 2020.

The temperature ranged from chilly (it is winter) to downright frosty (12? Saturday morning, maybe up to 20? by 9:45AM when we walked the overpass from our hotel to the con), but on the other hand, no snow, rain, or weather public-transit shutdowns (all of which have happened to Boston-in-winter cons).

Boskone 57’s Featured Guests were:

  • GUEST OF HONOR: Kim Stanley Robinson
  • YOUNG ADULT FICTION GUEST: Holly Black
  • OFFICIAL ARTIST: Eric Wilkerson
  • MUSICAL GUEST: Cheshire Moon
  • HAL CLEMENT SCIENCE SPEAKER: Jon Singer
  • NESFA PRESS GUEST: Jim Burns

The 150+ program participants also included a mix of established and new writers, artists, editors and agents, along with well-known fans, e.g. (citing mostly people I know/names I recognize), Ellen Asher, Joshua Bilmes, Holly Black, Ginger Buchanan, Jeff Carver, John Chu, C.S.E. Cooney, Andrea Martinez Corbin, Josh Dahi, Julie C. Day, Bob Devney, Paul Di Filippo, Vincent Docherty, Debra Doyle, Tom Easton, Bob Eggleston, Esther Friesner, Craig Shaw Gardner, Greer Gilman, Max Gladstone, Anabel Graetz, Charlaine Harris, Grady Hendrix, Carlos Hernandez, Sarah Jean Horwitz, Jim Infantino, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Dan Kimmel, Mur Lafferty, Kelly Link, James D. Macdonald, Darlene Marshall, Beth Meacham, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Julie C. Rios, Cameron Roberson, Erin Roberts, Joseph Siclari, Allen M. Steele, Michael Swanwick, Christine Taylor-Butler, Erin Underwood, Martha Wells, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Brianna Wu, Frank Wu.

(Some that, sadly, were listed but had to cancel included Bruce Coville, Steve Davidson, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Suzanne Palmer, Adi Rule, and Jane Yolen.)

While there was no File770 meet-up (that I was aware of), I spotted/chatted briefly with a few Filers (hardly surprisingly, of course).

FYI, NESFA Press had brand-new books available at Boskone 57:

I’ve just done purchase requests to my local library for these. Take that, Mount To-Be-Read!

A SATISFYING PROGRAM. This year’s program has lots of good stuff — for several time slots I saw three or even four that I wanted to go to. I could easily have spent the entire con doing nothing but program items, with brief breaks for food, schmoozing, and strolling the Dealer’s Area and the Art Show, of course).

In “Great Novels That Don’t Work”, Grady Hendrix, Allen M. Steele, Bracken MacLeod, Michael Swanwick and Brianna Wu talked about the problems of various sf works, from plot to “one unforgivable step.” I missed the first few minutes of this session, I’d love to hear/watch a recording of the whole thing.

Panel – Great Novels That Don’t Work: Bracken MacLeod, Brianna Wu, Allen M. Steele, Grady Hendrix, Michael Swanwick

“Business of Being a Writer” tracks are a staple at many cons, instructively essential for beginners, and often entertaining for all. (Particularly the “horror stories/don’t do’s.”) In “Editing from Agent, to Editor, to Publisher”, Melanie Meadors, Joshua Bilmes, Beth Meacham, John Kessel and James D. Macdonald examined the “manuscript’s journey” of read/rewrite/edit/revise from author through beta readers, copy editors, proof readers and other stations.

Panel – Editing from Agent, to Editor, to Publisher: Melanie Meadors, John Kessel, James D. Macdonald, Beth Meacham, Joshua Bilmes

I went to several readings, including Daniel Kimmel, reading a not-yet-published time travel story involving a character from his second sf novel (which you don’t have to have read to enjoy the story), Max Gladstone, and James Patrick Kelly, plus kaffeeklatsches with Esther Friesner and with Tor editor Beth Meacham.

TRIVIA PURSUIT! One of my favorite items at Boskones is the Trivia For Chocolate game show run by Mark and Priscilla Olson and Jim Mann, where us audience members strive to be the first (or loudest) to yell out enough of the right answers to sf trivia questions, with, per the name of the game, points being awarded using those thin rectangular green-wrapped chocolate Thin Mints (and only uneaten ones are count for your final tally).

For example, in “First Lines” — “The baloney weighed the raven down.” (“N Svar Naq Cevingr Cynpr, Crgre F Orntyr” — as I was yelling out the answer mid, ahem, weigh.)

I usually place in the enumerated winners short list (see my Boskone 56 report.

This isn’t the kind of content you can cram for, and I’m not sure you could even study for it — certainly not time-effectively. The only way is to have consumed sf&f voluminously — and remembering the relevant details.

The not-so-secrets to doing well in TRIVIA FOR CHOCOLATE include location (front or second row), luck, low memory-to-mouth latency, chutzpah and having consumed sf (including f, and h) omnivorously for years-to-decades.

This year, to my happy surprise, I came in first, by a 14-point spread against tied-for-seconds Karen von Haam (who, I’m pretty sure, was the person on my right snagging answers right and left for the open several minutes), and the always-impressively-knowledgeable-about-really-obscure-stuff Bob Devney.

(I donated all but two of my winnings to the Narnia Coat Check Closet. ’nuff et!)

Panel – Illustrating Children’s Books: Christopher Paniccia, Ruth Sanderson, Ingrid Kallick, Cat Scully

MY SESSIONS. I was on four items this year.

“Journalism in Speculative Fiction”, along with Clea Simon, Darlene Marshall, and Dan Moren. Here’s the session description:

From Wells and Orwell to Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, and Annalee Newitz, there’s a long tradition of reporters becoming writers of SF/F/H. Our veteran newshounds report on what a background in journalism can bring to genre work. Are you already accustomed to research, deadlines, and low wages? Does the drive to get the facts mean it’s harder to make stuff up? Can reporters be written as good genre characters? While pounding out a hot story, must you wear a fedora?

This could easily have filled a day-long symposium. Heck, I could (preferably with at least 20 minutes advance notice to web-refresh my brain) have done an hour just on Mark Twain. (“Connecticut Yankee,” “Captain Stormfield…” “The Mysterious Stranger,” etc.) Lots of great stuff was said, by all panelists — let’s do this one again!

I also did a reading, a workshop on learning magic tricks and becoming a magician (my handout including reading list available on request), and, in DragonsLair, my young-kids-oriented magic show (heavy on the funny props and bad jokes).

And, as nearly-always, I spent some time walking around taking photos.

Looking ahead, here’s the Featured Guests currently scheduled for Boskone 58, February 12-14 2021:

  • Guest of Honor: Joe Abercrombie
  • Official Artist: Julie Dillon
  • Special guest: Tamsyn Muir
  • Musical Guest: Marc Gunn
  • NESFA Press Guest: Ursula Vernon
  • Hal Clement Science Speaker: Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready (Launch Pad Astronomy)

Photo gallery follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 2/17/20 From Rishathra With Love

(1) NOT FAR FROM THE TREE. Apple TV+ has dropped the Amazing Stories — Official Trailer. The show debuts March 6 on the Apple TV app – if you have an Apple TV+ subscription: Amazing Stories.

From visionary executive producers Steven Spielberg and Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, this reimagining of the classic anthology series transports everyday characters into worlds of wonder, possibility, and imagination

(2) IN THE AUDIENCE AT BOSKONE. Filer Mlex posted a report about the sessions he attended at this weekend’s “Boskone 2020”.

Fairy Tales from the Dark Side

Theodora Goss started off this session by noting that she spent some years of her childhood in Budapest and that she takes particular interest in the fairy tales of Hungary, with their typical strong heroines. She went on to say that fairies vary quite a lot, not only in different cultural traditions, but depending on the date and conditions where they were formed. Victorians had their small flower fairies, for example, and subtle messages could be presented in the form of fairy tales about feminism or other social and political movements. Think of the women brewing eels, bats, herbs, and potions. The fairy represents the human encounter with the magical other.

Isabel Yap noted that Fillipino fairies do not play by human rules. They are not so clearly anthropomorphized and might often turn into fish, or other creatures. These fairy tales might be quite violent, and the fairies are not on our side.

(3) LISTENING TO A CULTURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There is something of a theme taking place in British culture this spring.

Second Sleep

First we had The Second Sleep by Robert Harris which then became BBC Radio 4’s book at bed time last month (and still downloadable in 15 minute episodes. Here the end of the world was IT related (not really a spoiler as it is hypothesized in first few chapters).

Then on the non-fiction front a vaguely respected Brit senior politician (i.e. pre-Boris /Trump) is to have a book published next month warning that our IT society has no fall-back back-up system in place. This book uses an SF novelette interspersed with factual comment and explanation to elucidate such things as Black Swan events among much else.

And finally, back at the BBC, Radio 4 has just launched another season of its SFnal Dangerous Visions the first episode of 4 is ‘Blackout’ and concerns what happens when the internet (hence power as the grid is web managed) crashes…

Be thankful you can still read this post….

Dangerous Visions

(4) VISUALIZING THE CULTURE. I don’t know how I missed this — The Culture: Notes and Drawings by Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod is set for a November 26 release date.

Iain M. Banks, the modern master of SF, created many original drawings detailing the universe of his bestselling Culture novels. Now these illustrations – many of them annotated – are being published for the very first time in a book that celebrates Banks’s grand vision, with additional notes and material by Banks’s longtime friend and fellow SF author Ken MacLeod. It is an essential addition to the collection of any Iain M. Banks fan.

(5) CROWDFUNDING. Apex Publications has launched a Kickstarter to raise $20,000 to publish Invisible Threads: Cutting the Binds That Hold Us edited by Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner.

No matter who you are or where you come from, there are boundaries and barriers that dictate what you can do, where you can go, and who you can become. Invisible threads running through society, pulling you this way or that, tripping you when you try to better yourself, ensnaring and holding you back.  Invisible Threads is an anthology of dark sci-fi, fantasy, and horror stories that examine these barriers.

Confirmed authors include Alix Harrow, Andi Buchanan, Maurice Broaddus, Fran Wilde, Chesya Burke, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Stephanie Malia Morris, Jordan Kurella, K.T. Bryski, ZZ Claybourne, A.C. Buchanan, Damien Angelica Walters, Beth Dawkins, Geoffrey Girard, Sabrina Vourvoulias, A.C. Wise, and Michael Wehunt. We plan to hold an open submissions call should we fund.

(6) EVEN IF IT IS JOSHI. The John Hay Library at Brown University invites applications for its 2020-2021 S.T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship for research relating to H.P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs. The application deadline is March 13, 2020.

The Hay Library is home to the largest collection of H. P. Lovecraft materials in the world, and also holds the archives of Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, Manly Wade Wellman, Analog magazine, Caitlín Kiernan, and others. The Joshi Fellowship, established by The Aeroflex Foundation and Hippocampus Press, is intended to promote scholarly research using the world-renowned resources on H. P. Lovecraft, science fiction, and horror at the John Hay Library (projects do not need to relate to Lovecraft directly). The Fellowship provides a monthly stipend of $2,500 for up to two months of research at the library between July 2020 and June 2021. The fellowship is open to students, faculty, librarians, artists, and independent scholars.

(7) DOOM IN BLOOM. In “The Pleasure (Reading) of Impending Doom” at CrimeReads, Tosca Lee recommends novels by Ben H. Winters, William Fortschen, A.G. Riddle if you want to read novels about global apocalypses.

As a lifelong lover of a good doomsday story, I’ve always considered the tenacity and resourcefulness of the human spirit to be the category’s major appeal—along with the it-could-really-happen scary plausibility and ingenious “prepping” specifics, of course. But it wasn’t until I started writing my apocalyptic thriller, The Line Between, that the real charm of the genre became apparent to me. 

I’d recently married a single father and become an insta-mom to four. Life was busy and crowded with details. But as I began to plot my literary cataclysm, the chaos of daily life—work, bills, school schedules, errands, house stuff, holidays, political noise, grocery lists, social media, bucket lists, and those ever-elusive last ten pounds—fell away in the face of a story with a single goal: survival. Suddenly, that looming list of to-dos doesn’t seem so insurmountable—or even important—compared to savoring time with those we love while we’re all here on earth together.

(8) NAKAHARA OBIT. Kellye Nakahara, best known for her work on M*A*S*H but who also had several genre roles, died February 17. Consequence of Sound paid tribute: “R.I.P. Kellye Nakahara, M*A*S*H Actress Dies at 72”.

…Nakahara portrayed Nurse Kellye Yamato for 167 episodes of the hit show (according to IMDb). It would go on to be her largest and most memorable role. She followed it up with bit parts in television series such as At Ease, Hunter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and with film roles in Clue (the cook, Mrs. Ho), Black Day Blue Night (as Fat Mama), and Eddie Murphy’s version of Doctor Dolittle (credited as Beagle Woman).

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 17, 1959 The Cosmic Man premiered. It produced by Robert A. Terry and directed by Herbert S. Greene. The film stars John Carradine, Bruce Bennett and Angela Greene. The film was shot quickly, primarily on a hotel lobby set, and in Griffith Park in L.A., where the Griffith Observatory was used as stand-in for the Pacific Institute of Technology. At least in Los Angeles, it played on a double bill with House on Haunted Hill. With the notable exception of Variety who really didn’t like it, most critics at the time found it to be a pleasant, fun experience. The audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes does not reflect that — it has a 0% rating from the very few, only thirty four, who’ve given it a score. You can see it here.
  • February 17, 1966 — On this day in Dublin, The Projected Man premiered. It was directed by Ian Curteis from a script by Peter Bryan, John C. Cooper, and Frank Quattrocchi, and starred Bryant Haliday, Mary Peach, Norman Wooland, Ronald Allen, and Derek Farr. Universal Studios released it on a double bill with Terror Island. Critics noted the monster’s resemblance to that of one in The Fly but those involved here denied that film inspired the look of the creature in this movie. It was featured in a ninth season episode of  Mystery Science Theater 3000, and currently the audience over at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 3% rating. You can see it here.

February 17, 1966 — In the United Kingdom, Episode Twenty-one of the first season of The Thunderbirds,  “The Duchess Assignment”, aired. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and. filmed by their production company. The electronic marionette puppetry which they called Supermarionation  was combined with scale-model special effects sequences.  It was the fifth such project by their company. You can see this episode of the Thunderbirds here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 17, 1903 Kenne Duncan. He’s got a number of genre credits starting with the 1938 Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars serial where he was the Airdrome Captain. He’d play Ram Singh, the butler to the Spider, in The Spider’s Web and The Spider Returns serials, and he’d be Lt. Lacy in the 1939 Buck Rogers serial. Several years later, he’d be Cheney Hencheman Barnett in The Adventures of Captain Marvel serial. You can see him in the first chapter of Spider’s Web serial here. (Died 1972.)
  • Born February 17, 1912 Andre  Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. I remember them with some fondness quite some decades after reading them. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 17, 1920 Curt Swan. He’s the artist most associated with Superman during the Silver Age, and he produced hundreds of covers and stories from the Fifties through the Eighties. He would be let go in the DC reorganization of the Eighties with his last work as a regular artist on Superman being the 1986 story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” that was written by Alan Moore. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 17, 1930 Ruth Rendell. I’ve read and enjoyed some of her mysteries down the decade but am not familiar at all with the three listed as genre by ISFDB (The Killing Doll, The Tree of Hands and The Bridesmaid). Who of you is familiar with these? (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 17, 1931 Johnny Hart. The creator of B.C. and The Wizard of Id. (Brant Pant was the other creator of the latter strip.)  He certainly wasn’t without controversy as this strip attests. (Died 2007.)
  • Born February 17, 1954 Don Coscarelli, 66. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person
  • Born February 17, 1971 Denise Richards, 49. Her first genre role was as Tammy in Tammy and the T-Rex (really don’t ask). Her next role was the one she’s known for as Carmen Ibañez in Starship Troopers. She’ll be a few years later Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, the eighteenth Bond film. She’s been announced as playing Victoria Darw in the still to be scheduled Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove.
  • Born February 17, 1974 Jerry O’Connell, 46. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind the broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisJustice League Dark, The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman to great, chilling effect. The latter film is kickass excellent. 

(11) SH-BOOM. High Seas Trading Co. has reason to brag about its “Outer Space” design:

The Hawaiian Shirt that the Astronauts wore on Aloha Friday on the International Space Station.This space themed Hawaiian shirt is out of this world.

(12) FRESH LID. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid for 14th February 2020” maps the abstractions of nautical horror with Underwater and The Lighthouse, take a look at the amazing Parasite and shows him learning to Hack the Panic!

Signal Boost this week is Mockery Manor ,Mike UnderwoodKevin Petker‘s Princess World is live on Kickstarter from next week. Be sure to check it outRosarium are currently crowdfunding ‘Hellraiser meets Black History Month’ graphic novel, Box of Bones.. Gordon B. White‘s splendidly titled anthology As Summer’s Mask Slips, and Other Disruptions just got a starred PW review!!

Finally Tracacy Barnett’s current project, This Thing We Started is crowdfunding now. They’ve also recommended Descent into Midnight, launching on Saturday and VERY much my sort of thing.

(13) SPATIAL DELIVERY. James Davis Nicoll found copies of “Five SF Stories About Teleportation Systems Gone Awry” at Tor.com. At least.

In Thomas Disch’s 1967 novel Echo Round His Bones, Nathan Hansard is transmitted to America’s Camp Jackson Mars via teleporter. This is a routine operation…or so it is believed. Wrongly. Hansard is surprised to discover himself somewhere other than Mars. Teleportation creates phantom duplicates on Earth, living ghosts dependent on the phantom duplicates of supplies sent to Mars. Food is in short supply, but no matter. Some of Hansard’s predecessors have solved the problem in a straightforward manner: by eating their fellow phantoms….

But if they eat The Phantom, who will remain to leave comments on Lela Buis’ blog?

(14) EASY DOES IT. So, more like smushing together mudpies? “New Horizons spacecraft ‘alters theory of planet formation'”.

Scientists say they have “decisively” overturned the prevailing theory for how planets in our Solar System formed.

The established view is that material violently crashed together to form ever larger clumps until they became worlds.

New results suggest the process was less catastrophic – with matter gently clumping together instead.

The study appears in Science journal and has been presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle.

…The claim arises from detailed study of an object in the outer reaches of the Solar System. Named Arrokoth, the object is more than six billion km from the Sun in a region called the Kuiper belt. It is a pristine remnant of planet formation in action as the Solar System emerged 4.6 billion years ago, with two bodies combining to form a larger one.

Scientists obtained high-resolution pictures of Arrokoth when Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft flew close to it just over a year ago. It gave scientists their first opportunity to test which of the two competing theories was correct: did the two components crash together or was there gentle contact?

The analysis by Dr Stern and his team could find no evidence of violent impact. The researchers found no stress fractures, nor was there any flattening, indicating that the objects were squashed together gently.

(15) HIGH FLIGHT. BBC is there: “Virgin Galactic: Unity rocket ship moves to operational base”.

Sir Richard Branson has moved his rocket plane from its development base in California to what will be its operational centre in New Mexico.

The transfer of the Unity vehicle and its mothership, Eve, to the Spaceport America complex signals the start of final testing.

Sir Richard’s Virgin Galactic company is now close to beginning commercial service.

More than 600 individuals have paid deposits to ride Unity to over 80km.

The trip will enable them to experience a few minutes of weightlessness around the top of the rocket ship’s climb.

Already almost 100 Virgin Galactic staff have moved to the southern New Mexico spaceport to prepare it – and themselves – for operations.

Unity will now perform a series of test flights above the desert.

Some of these will see it dropped from altitude to simply glide back to the runway. Others will involve firing its rocket motor to power skyward.

(16) WHAT A CAST. Does a show about Skeletor and He-Man deserve this array of talent? “Mark Hamill and Lena Heady Lead Expansive Voice Cast for Kevin Smith’s ‘Masters of the Universe’ Series”.

Netflix and Mattel TV announced an expansive voice cast for its upcoming “Masters of the Universe” series from Kevin Smith. The cast is led by Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn and Chris Wood as Prince Adam aka He-Man.

The new series, “Masters of the Universe: Revelations,” will focus on the unresolved storylines of the original 1982 TV series, picking up many of the characters’ journeys where they left off decades ago.

In addition to those three, the cast also includes Sarah Michelle Gellar (Teela), Liam Cunningham (Man-At-Arms), Stephen Root (Cringer), Diedrich Bader (King Randor/Trap Jaw), Griffin Newman (Orko), Tiffany Smith (Andra), Henry Rollins (Tri-Klops), Susan Eisenberg (Sorceress), Alicia Silverstone (Queen Marlena), Justin Long (Roboto), Jason Mewes (Stinkor), Phil LaMarr (He-Ro), Tony Todd (Scare Glow), Cree Summer (Priestess), Kevin Michael Richardson (Beast Man), Kevin Conroy (Mer-Man) and Harley Quinn Smith (Ileena).

(17) INSPECTOR SPOT-ET. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Spot may not be designed to follow the Three Laws (yet?), but it is starting to protect humans by taking over certain hazardous and/or mind-numbingly repetitive jobs. Of course, some people would argue that it’s also starting to threaten humans by taking over certain hazardous and/or mind-numbingly repetitive jobs. SYFY Wire: “Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog gets a job working an offshore oil rig”.

See Spot walk. See Spot sit. See Spot roll over. See Spot run onto a Norwegian oil rig to sniff out lethal gas leaks!

Boston Dynamics’ next-generation robotic device, affectionately nicknamed Spot, will soon be embarking on a new test mission aboard an offshore oil rig for petroleum product producer Aker BP and AI software company Cognite. The newly announced project will be rolled out to test a number of advanced robots and drones on Aker BP’s Skarv installation in the Norwegian Sea later this year.

[…] “Our vision is to digitalize all our operations from cradle to grave in order to increase productivity, enhance quality, and improve the safety of our employees,” Aker BP’s CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik said in a press release. “Exploring the potential of robotics offshore underpin our digital journey.”

(18) COLLECTIBLE ROBOT. Michael Crawford provides a review and photos of Wal-Mart’s “Robby the Robot Forbidden Planet action figure” at Captain Toy.

Sculpting – ****
The sculpt isn’t particularly detailed, but the original robot had a lot of smooth surfaces.

What sets this guy apart is all the individual pieces that went into making him, particularly inside and attached to the dome. Check out the levers and doo-dads which would spin and turn and clack along as he spoke and moved, demonstrating the very analog way we looked at robots back then. You could almost see the zeroes and ones flitting through his mechanical brain. Of course none of the interior dome pieces on this figure move, but the detail work is quite impressive for this price point.

The body recreates the original look quite well, although the proportions are a smidge off. Still, at a solid 14″ tall, he’s about the right height and scale to fit in great with other sixth scale figures, including the old Lost In Space characters.

(19) FRENCH VIDEO OF THE DAY. (A) Vous Regardez Un Film on Vimeo is a cartoon by Jon Boutin about the drudgery of going to the office.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Mlex, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who scores a Rishathra hat trick.]

NESFA Presents Skylark, Gaughan Awards at Boskone 57

The New England Science Fiction Association honored the winners of two annual awards at Boskone 57 on February 15.

SKYLARK AWARD

  • Betsy Wollheim

The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the Skylark) is presented annually by NESFA® to some person, who, in the opinion of the membership, has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late “Doc” Smith well-loved by those who knew him.

Betsy Wollheim, Skylark Award winner

GAUGHAN AWARD

  • Iris Compiet

The Gaughan Award honors the memory of Jack Gaughan, a long-time friend of fandom and one of the finest SF artists of the 20th century. Because Jack felt it was important to encourage and recognize new blood in the field, The New England Science Fiction Association, Inc., presents the Gaughan Award annually to an emerging artist (an artist who has become a professional within the past five years) chosen by a panel of judges.

Judges: Patrick Wilshire, Maryanne Plumridge, and Stephen Hickman.

Iris Compiet, Gaughan Award winner

Pixel Scroll 2/11/20 I Saw A File Drinking A Pixel Colada At Trader Vic’s. Its Scroll Was Perfect

(1) SIGNS OF THE TIMES. A GoFundMe asks donors to “Help fund ASL Interpreters for Boskone”.

Boskone has a deaf attendee who would like to attend and providing ASL Interpreters is not in our budget.  They have contracted to get their own ASL Interpreters at the cost of about $1200 for the one day they are attending. We are creating a GoFundMe to raise money, to first give to them to pay for the Interpreters, and second (if we raise more than this year’s Interpreters cost) to start a fund for future years should Interpreters be necessary again.  

They’ve raised $573 of their $1200 goal as of this writing.

(2) NEXT RESNICK COLLECTION. UFO Publishing will soon be releasing a Mike Resnick collection of Harry the Book stories titled The Hex is In: The Fast Life and Fantastic Times of Harry the Book: “Introducing: The Hex is In”

This book will collect, for the first time, all fifteen Harry the Book stories Mike has written. These stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies and magazines spanning a decade. Several of them were only published in the United Kingdom, and one has never been published anywhere at all.

…Harry the Book yarns are humorous fantasy set in the alternate version of New York where magic is real and fantastical creatures are commonplace. In fact, this is a shared setting with Mike’s Stalking the Unicorn series.

Harry the Book is a bookie who takes bets on everything from horse races to dancing contests to political campaigns. And — always — the hex is in. Unscrupulous magicians meddle with the odds forcing Harry and his motley crew (which includes a four-hundred-pound flunky, a six-foot-ten zombie, and a lovelorn wizard) to scramble, dealing with the consequences.

These stories are written in a unique voice–meant to emulate and pay tribute to Damon Runyon (author of Guys and Dolls and other stories). Runyon was the bard of the New York underbelly of the early 20th century, celebrating the hustlers, gamblers, and gangsters of the era.

…Carol Resnick, Mike’s wife who is a Runyon fan and for whom Mike wrote these stories, will pen the introduction.

(3) MORE REASONS TO VISIT THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT. Mythcon 51, the gathering of the Mythopoeic Society, will be held July 31-August 3 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The theme will be The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien —

This year’s Mythcon theme provides multiple opportunities to explore the Other in fantasy and mythopoeic literature. Tolkien spoke in “On Fairy-stories” of “the desire to visit, free as a fish, the deep sea; or the longing for the noiseless, gracious, economical flight of a bird.” We invite discussion about the types of fantasy that are more likely to put us into contact with the alien, such as time portal fantasy and space travel fantasy. In addition to Inklings, some writers who deal particularly well with the truly alien who might be explored include Lovecraft, Gaiman, Le Guin, Tepper, and others….

Rivera Sun is the Author Guest of Honor:

Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Roots of Resistance, and other novels. Her young adult fantasy series, the Ari Ara Series, has been widely acclaimed by teachers, parents, and peace activists for its blending of fantasy and adventure with social justice issues….
Rivera Sun’s essays have been published in hundreds of journals nationwide. She is a frequent speaker and presenter at schools, colleges and universities, where The Dandelion Insurrection has been taught in literature and political science courses. Rivera Sun is also the editor of Nonviolence News, an activist, and a trainer in making change with nonviolence. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice and have appeared in journals nationwide. She lives in an Earthship house in New Mexico.

David Bratman is the Scholar Guest of Honor:

His earliest contribution to the field was the first-ever published Tale of Years for the First Age, right after The Silmarillion was published. Since then he’s published articles with titles like “Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from The Lord of the Rings,” “Hobbit Names Aren’t from Kentucky,” and “Liquid Tolkien” (on Tolkien and music). He’s been co-editor of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review since 2013, and has written or edited its annual “Year’s Work in Tolkien Studies” since 2004. David edited The Masques of Amen House by Charles Williams and contributed the bio-bibliographical appendix on the Inklings to Diana Pavlac Glyer’s The Company They Keep.

(4) HIGH FASHION WHELAN. Forbes reveals“How Famed Science Fiction Artist Michael Whelan’s Art Wound Up In Louis Vuitton’s New Campaign” .

French fashion house Louis Vuitton made headlines last week with an eye-catching campaign for its Pre-Fall 2020 collection: A star-studden homage to pulpy genre paperbacks from the 1980s. In it, Léa Seydoux is menanced by a giant spider, Samara Weaving deals with a valentine from a werewolf, and Jaden Smith stares down a robot apocalypse.

The titles for the fake paperbacks were made up for the lookbook, but the art was not. It’s from veteran illustrators, and much of it was used on the covers of actual books from the same era.

(5) POSTAGE DUE. Atlas Obscura extols “The Joy of Collecting Stamps From Countries That Don’t Really Exist”.

The postage stamp looks like a postage stamp is supposed to look… But it’s not a postage stamp, not really, because its country of origin is Sealand—a metal platform about the size of a tennis court, off the English coast. Sealand is one of the quirky, strangely numerous states known as “micronations,” or self-proclaimed polities with no legal recognition. Some of them, to simulate legitimacy or at least make a little money, have issued their own flags, passports, coins, and yes, postage stamps.

Laura Steward, curator of public art at the University of Chicago, who organized an exhibition at the 2020 Outsider Art Fair in New York of stamps from micronations and other dubiously defined places, believes that these tiny squares are more than a toss-off: They’re art, proof of imagination, and rather sophisticated bids for public recognition….

What’s the micronation stamp with the most interesting story?

I’m drawn to Celestia, the Nation of Celestial Space. James Thomas Mangan, founder of Celestia, registered the acquisition of “outer space” with the Recorder of Deeds and Titles in Cook County, Illinois, on January 1, 1949. Magnan laid claim to outer space to prevent any one country from establishing hegemony there. Later in 1949, he banned all atmospheric nuclear tests, and notified the United Nations of his decision.

(6) KELLY OBIT. Paula Kelly, the actress, singer and dancer who starred in the film version of Sweet Charity and earned an Emmy nomination for her turn on Night Court, died February 9. She was 76. Kelly’s genre appearances included The Andromeda Strain (1971), and Soylent Green (1973). Kelly was married to British director Donald Chaffey (One Million Years B.C.) from 1985 until his death in 1990.

(7) MCLARTY OBIT. Ron McLarty, the character actor who also became a published author thanks to a rave from Stephen King, died February 8 at the age of 72, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I remember him as Detective Frank Belson in Spenser for Hire. His first onscreen role came in The Sentinel (1977). He also was in Kevin Costner’s The Postman (1997). However, it’s his audiobook work that really drew him into the orbit of genre

McLarty was a leading audiobook narrator; since the 1990s, his 100-plus credits included work for such authors as King, Danielle Steel, David Baldacci, Anne Rice, Richard Russo, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Scott Turow and George W. Bush.

In 2001, McLarty persuaded the small company Recorded Books to produce his third novel, The Memory of Running, directly onto tape as an audiobook. (The actor also narrated what is believed to be the first recorded audiobook of an unpublished novel.)

King heard it and loved the story — about a 43-year-old man who, after his parents die, takes a cross-country road trip on an old Raleigh bicycle to find his sister’s body — and in 2003 devoted one of his “The Pop of King” columns in Entertainment Weekly to it, calling Memory “the best book you can’t read.”

The endorsement sparked a bidding war among publishers that led to McLarty getting a reported $2 million from Penguin that included rights to release the novel in 2004 (and later two others) in the traditional way….

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 11, 1970 — Hammer Films’ Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed premiered. Directed by Terrence Fisher, it starred Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones, Veronica Carlson and Simon Ward. It was the fifth Hammer film that featured Baron Frankenstein. The screenplay was by Bert Batt, with the story written by Anthony Nelson Keys and Bert Batt.  Critics thought it was one of the better Hammer films in quite some time, and it holds a sixty eight percent rating among the nearly three thousand who rated it over at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.
  • February 11, 1991 – Today is the 29th broadcast anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Clues” that Filer Bruce D. Arthurs wrote. (“Story by” Bruce, final teleplay credit shared with Joe Menosky.)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 11, 1887 Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. Russian writer of Polish extraction who John Clute likes a lot. His works are translated into English by Joanne Trumbull. Clute describe his short stories as “the extravagances of Absurdist SF and the generic opportunism of Fantastika”. And miracle of all miracles, he’s available at the usual digital sources including The Letter Killers Club which sounds amazing. (Died 1950.)
  • Born February 11, 1908 Tevis Clyde Smith, Jr. He did several short stories with a Robert E. Howard, “Diogenes of Today”, “Eighttoes makes a play” and “ Red Blades of Black Cathay”. Donald M.Grant would publish them together in the Red Blades of Black Cathay collection. The title story originally appeared in Oriental Stories, an offshoot of Weird Tales. (Died 1984.)
  • Born February 11, 1910 L. T. C. Rolt. English writer whose enthusiasm for heritage railways is writ large in his 1948 Sleep No More collection of supernatural horror stories which tend to be set in rural railways. (Simon R. Green may be influenced by him in his Ghost Finders series which often uses these railways as a setting.)  Some of these stories were adapted as radio dramas.  Sleep No More isavailable from Kindle. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 11, 1915 Pat Welsh. She was the voice of E.T. in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She was also the voice of Boushh in Return of the Jedi who Lucas hired because of her raspy voice which he thought gave the character an ambiguous voice. Those two films and Waterloo Bridge, a Forties film, are her entire acting career. (Died 1995.)
  • Born February 11, 1926 Leslie  Nielsen. I know the comic, bumbling fool who delighted generations of film goers. But his first starring role was as Commander John J. Adams in one of the finest SF films of all time Forbidden Planet. I am most decidedly not a fan of his later films but I think he’s brilliant here. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 11, 1920 Daniel F. Galouye. His work appeared in Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction In the Fifties and Sixties. He also wrote five novels including Simulacron-3 which was made into Roland Emmerich’s Thirteenth Floor. His first novel, Dark Universe was nominated for a Hugo but came in second at Chicon III to Stranger in a Strange Land. (Died 1976.)
  • Born February 11, 1939 Jane Yolen, 81. She loves dark chocolate and I send her some from time to time. She wrote me into a novel as a character, an ethnomusicologist in One-Armed Queen to be precise in exchange for finding her a fairytale collection she wanted. Don’t remember now what it was other than it was very old and very rare. My favorite book by her is The Wild Hunt, and I love that she financed the production of Boiled in Lead’s Antler Dance which her son Adam Stemple was lead vocalist on. 
  • Born February 11, 1948 Robert Reginald. He’s here because of two Phantom Detective novels he wrote late in his career which are mostly popcorn literature. (The Phantom Detective series started in 1936 so he used the Robert Wallace house name.) He has two series of some length, the Nova Europa Fantasy Saga and War of Two Worlds. Much of what he wrote is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 11, 1950 Alain Bergeron, 70. He received an Aurora Award for Best Short Story for “Les Crabes de Vénus regardent le ciel” published In Solaris number 73, and a Sideways Award for Alternate History for  “Le huitième registre” (translated in English as “The Eighth Register” by Howard Scott). 
  • Born February 11, 1953 Wayne Hammond, 67. He’s married to fellow Tolkien scholar Christina Scull. Together they’ve done some of the finest work on him that’s been done including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s CompanionThe Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book and The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide

(10) MIGNOGNA STILL AROUND. At Nerd and Tie, Trae Dorn tells about “Kitchener Comic Con and Creating a Hostile Convention Culture”.

Most of organized fandom spent 2019 getting on board with the idea that maybe inviting Vic Mignogna to your convention is a bad idea. The whisper network about the once prolific voice actor finally went public as several women came forward with their stories of harassment. Most conventions decided Mignogna was not remotely worth the hassle (finally), and the vast majority of his appearances were cancelled.

It’s important to note that not all of them of were.

You see, there are still a number of conventions that think it’s a good idea to invite a man with that many allegations of harassment against them in their doors….

One of those conventions is Kitchener, Ontario’s Kitchener Comic Con. …

(11) PROXIMITY TO THE CORONA. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.]  It is well known that Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother is alive and well in China what with new mobile users having to have their face scanned and geo-positioned etc.  Now the State has turned this into an app that it is claimed can help keep people safe from coronavirus: “China launches coronavirus ‘close contact detector’ app”.

China has launched an app that allows people to check whether they have been at risk of catching the coronavirus.

The ‘close contact detector’ tells users if they have been near a person who has been confirmed or suspected of having the virus.

People identified as being at risk are advised to stay at home and inform local health authorities.

(12) THE NAMING OF VIRUSES. It’s a difficult matter: “Coronavirus officially named Covid-19, says WHO”.

The World Health Organization says the official name for the new coronavirus will be Covid-2019.

“We now have a name for the disease and it’s Covid-19,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

It comes after the death toll from the virus passed 1,000. Tens of thousands of people have been infected.

The word coronavirus refers to the group of viruses it belongs to, rather than the latest strain.

Researchers have been calling for an official name to avoid confusion and stigmatisation.

“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” the WHO chief said.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks”

(13) HERE COMES THE SUN. “Polar Express: New Spacecraft Will Explore Elusive Parts Of The Sun”.

Until now, all the pictures of the sun have been straight-on head shots. Soon, scientists will be getting a profile.

NASA and the European Space Agency are set to launch a joint mission on Sunday to provide the first-ever look at the sun’s poles. Previous images have all been taken from approximately the same angle, roughly in line with the star’s equator.

…After the NASA/ESA probe called Solar Orbiter takes off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, it’ll use Venus and Earth’s gravity to propel itself outside that equatorial plane where all the planets in our solar system orbit the sun. Orbiter eventually will be able to look down onto the poles of the sun.

There are many reasons why scientists want to know more about the sun’s poles. They think the poles might be driving some important aspects of space weather throughout the solar system, which can impact spacecraft and even humans on Earth. “It has real world effects on our satellites, our GPS, our power grid and things like that,” McComas says.

BBC adds some details: “Solar Orbiter: Sun mission blasts off”.

Europe’s audacious Solar Orbiter probe has lifted off on its quest to study the Sun from close quarters.

The €1.5bn (£1.3bn) mission is packed with cameras and sensors that should reveal remarkable new insights on the workings of our star.

Scientists want to better understand what drives its dynamic behaviour.

The spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas rocket, which lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 04:03 GMT (23:03 local time Sunday).

The Sun will occasionally eject billions of tonnes of matter and entangled magnetic fields that can disrupt activity at Earth.

The worst of these storms will trip the electronics on satellites, interfere with radio communications and even knock over power grids.

Researchers hope the knowledge gained from Solar Orbiter (SolO) will improve the models used to forecast the worst of the outbursts.

(14) MOON SHOT. NPR listens to the skeptics: “A Moon Landing In 2024? NASA Says It’ll Happen; Others Say: No Way”.

NASA is at a critical juncture in its push to get people back to the moon by 2024, with key decisions expected within weeks.

This effort to meet an ambitious deadline set by the Trump administration last year faces widespread skepticism in the aerospace community, even as the new head of human spaceflight at NASA insists that it can succeed.No one has been to the moon since 1972, even though, back in 2004, then-President George W. Bush laid out several goals for NASA, including a “return to the moon by 2020 as the launching point for missions beyond.”

…In March of 2019, however, Vice President Pence announced that “it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years.”

That would mean a remarkable speedup for NASA, which had been working toward a moon landing in 2028. In September, a member of Congress asked Ken Bowersox, who was the acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, how confident he was that the U. S. would have boots on the moon by this new, earlier deadline.

“How confident?” Bowersox replied. “I wouldn’t bet my oldest child’s upcoming birthday present or anything like that.”

(15) ARSENAL OF THE FUTURE. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, pays a visit to Modern Props.

Star Trek! Men in Black! Blade Runner! Starship Troopers! Name your favorite sci-fi movie or TV show of the last forty years, and Modern Props has probably made some of the coolest things in it!

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Michael Toman, Karl-Johan Norén, Alex Shvartsman, Lynn Maudlin, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

NESFA 2019-2020 Short Story Competition Taking Entries

The 2019-2020 NESFA Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest is accepting entries through September 30. The contest “encourages amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.” The complete guidelines are here.

Ineligible are writers who have been paid more than $1000 for their writing from any source, and/or have published a novel or multiple shorter works adding up to more than 40,000 words in any paying publication.

A qualifying story must have strong science fiction or fantasy elements and must be shorter than 7,500 words. Stories must be original works of fiction, submitted by their authors. No reprints, or fan fiction. …There is no entry fee. Please submit only one entry per author.

The winner will be announced at Boskone 57 in February 14–16, 2020 and receive a certificate of achievement, three NESFA Press books, and a free membership in one of the next two Boskones (their choice). Runners-up will receive a certificate, and two NESFA Press books. Honorable mentions will receive a certificate and one NESFA Press book.

Boskone 56: Fun, Plus Adding Foothills To My Mount To-Be-Read

Boskone 56 Pocket Program

By Daniel Dern: Boskone 56, held Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Boston’s Westin Waterfront Hotel, was a fun con — good guests, fun interesting sessions, good readings… and good (for Boston winter) weather — bearably cold, and no snow or rain coming down or on the streets or walkways.

(Some of us still have memories of 2015’s Boskone when the MBTA (locally aka “the T”) pre-emptively announced, mid-Saturday, that due to the impending blizzard, they were shutting down the T starting 7PM Saturday, through Sunday.)

GoH’s for Boskone 56 were:

  • Guest of Honor: Elizabeth Hand
  • Special Guest: Christopher Golden
  • Official Artist: Jim Burns
  • Young Adult Fiction Guest: Cindy Pon
  • Hal Clement Science Speaker: Vandana Singh

(Burns, unfortunately, was unable to make it, due to a last-minute emergency; however, his art was still on display.)

Burns art, from Boskone 56 main web page

Boskone always gets a good bunch of writers, artists, editors and other sf pros. This year’s 150+ program participants included (drawing mostly on people I know/names I recognize) Ellen Asher, James Cambias, John Chu,  Brenda W. Clough, John Clute, Br. Guy Consolmagno, C. S. E. Cooney, Bruce Coville, Vincent Docherty, Sarah Beth Durst, Kate Elliot, Greer Gillman, KJ Kabza,  James Patrick Kelly, Justin Key, Dan Kimmel, Mur Lafferty, Patrick & Teresa  Nielsen Hayden, Errick Nunnally, Suzanne Palmer, Julia Rios, Erin Roberts, Michael Swanwick,  Catherynne M. Valente, Jane Yolen, and Brianna Wu.

(Side note: I just came back from the library with the 2018 “Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy” edited by Rich Horton – and there’s a good handful of authors whose names might not have recognized a week ago, but, thanks to Boskone, I recognize many more names and know I saw several panelize/read.)

Headcount of as 11AM Sunday, according to the con’s Helmuth newsletter, came in at 1,382 total members, 1,061 “warm body count,” and 270 “at-the-door” registrations — pretty consistent with the past few years’ numbers.

There was, as always, no shortage of things to do.

Program items spanned classic through current sf/fantasy people, titles and topics, from the serious through silly, plus a range of media-oriented discussions including comics, Star Wars, and Star Trek, along with a number of sessions aimed at new authors and artists. Plus readings, kaffeeklatsches, and a room for movies/anime and other videos, also filking, board-gaming, the Art Show, the Dealers Room, noshing in the Con Suite area (which was, sadly, due to new hotel regulations, limited only to individual-portion-packaged, no-refrigeration-needed snacks’n’such). And a few evening parties, plus NESFA’s Saturday evening chocoholics-delight schmorgasbord.

And the non-program items like “meet new people, schmooze with friends” and “be a volunteer.”

Boskone’s Friday afternoon sessions were free — a nice way to help let potential first-timers get a sense of the con (particularly, I suspect, for people who have never attended a con). (ReaderCon has been doing this, too, for the past several years, with its Thursday evening programming.) Free-to-public panel topics included “The new Dr. Who,” gaming tournament demos/rules/Q&A, “Welcome to Boskone,” “Laundering Your Fairy Tales,” along with media/TV-themed sessions, and useful panels for new writers.

The art show had good stuff to look at (I’ve used up my quota of wall space, so I’m just looking, these days), although it seemed slightly smaller than last year.

Art-show-wise, of particular interest: this year’s ~40-piece Special Exhibit: From the Collection of Joe Siclari and Edie Stern which included art by Hannes Bok, Chesley Bonestell, Margaret Brundage, Vincent Di Fate, Leo and Diane Dillon, and Ed Emsh.

Art collage from Boskone 56 website.

The Dealers Room was mostly booksellers, including publishers and groups like Broad Universe, along with a handful of single-author tables. (My bookshelf space is, like my wall space, mostly full, although I did buy a few books… plus snarfing up about a foot of read-and-pass-on magazines and books from the Free Books table.)

Still, between books and magazines, I had no trouble spending thirty or forty bucks on additions to my Mount To-Be-Read (referring, of course, to that pile of books, often near the bed). Of course, by the end of the con, I had a vision of foothills forming around my Mount TBR of yet more books and authors to pursue, hopefully as library borrows.

(The late Morris Keesan once remarked (possibly at one of the monthly RISFA-North sf fan gatherings), when somebody mentioned to him their stack of TBR’s, he responded, more or less, “Stack? I’ve got a bookshelf.”)

Everyone I chatted with was having fun — schmoozing with friends, going to sessions, getting autographs, more schmoozing, etc.

Me, I had fun.

  • One of the things I did this year was go to more readings, including well-known’s like Jane Yolen, John Chu, Fran Wilder and Bruce Coville, as well as some newer and lesser-known authors and groups of authors. All were good, and helped add to my “authors and books to look for” list.
  • Also, kaffeeklatsches, in particular, Jane Yolen and (her son) Adam Stemple), and Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. (I still wish Boskone could find a less noisy space for the ‘klatches rather than the public area in between the Art Show and the “Con Suite” space.)
  • I got a Press ribbon, to point at as I was taking pictures.
  • I wasn’t originally on the program (not a complaint, I’ve had my “turn at bat” at Boskone plenty of times, in main and DragonsLair programming), but while I was buying my membership, I inquired at Program Ops, and was given an empty-as-of-then slot in the Readings track. (I had come prepared with a handful of my short-short stories.)
  • Equally nice, when I went to see if there were any open slots for the Flash Fiction Slam competition — with points deducted if you run over three minutes — I discovered I was already signed up! So I read my newest shortie, “Vampire, T.Rex Bite Robot, Chomp! Gnash! Ouch!”

One of my favorite Boskone Program Items is Mark & Priscilla Olson’s “Trivia For Chocolate” contest — SF trivia, of course, from way back when through current stuff, where speed matters as much as correctness, with the green-rectangle chocolate Thin Mints used as point counters totaled up at the end (emptied wrappers don’t count).

This year, I tied with Bob Devney for 4th place, with 23 points. Karen von Haam thirded with 30 points, Kimball Rudeen came in second with 35, and Rich Horton ate all our lunches with 60 points.

A quick browse through past Helmuths (“Helmith”?) confirms my sense that Devney and I often place in the top five, e.g.:

  • Boskone 55: Bob Devney 52, Daniel Dern 44, Tim Liebe 27. Peter Turi 23.
  • Boskone 54: Kim Rudeen 65, Tom Galloway 45, Jordin Kare 45, Bob Devney 32, Daniel Dern 29.
  • (Boskone 53: I wasn’t there.)
  • Boskone 52: Kimball Rudeen 51, Karen Von Hamm 44, Bob Devney 16, Naomi Hinchen 15, Daniel Dern 12.
  • Boskone 50: Bob Devney 54, Athena Martin 30, Zev Sero & Peter Trei: 16
  • Boskone 49: Jordin Kare 69, Bob Devney 48, Christopher Davis 40, Daniel Dern 35, Team of Burton, Klein-Burton, Wall & Moore 30.

Plus, schmoozing.

Like I said, a fun weekend.

Daniel’s photos of Boskone 56 follow the jump.

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Pixel Scroll 2/17/19 May The Pixels Be Always In Your Favor

(1) GRRM BOUND FOR BELFAST. TitanCon EuroCon 2019 has announced their first Guest of Honour, George R. R. Martin.

Science fiction, fantasy and horror writer George R.R. Martin began his SFF career in comics, writing letters to the Stan Lee-written Fantastic Four and Avengers in the mid-1960s, and published his first novel in 1977. A multiple winner of the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, Martin was already critically acclaimed for his novels Fevre Dream, Dying of the Light and Tuf Voyaging, and his work on the Wild Cards superhero anthology series, when released his game-changing fantasy novel A Game of Thrones in 1996….

George was instrumental in TitanCon’s creation, as you can read about in our TitanCon History page, and appeared at our first pre-con Moot. So it is only fitting that he returns to Belfast to see our take on EuroCon!

TitanCon has announced two other participants as well —

We are also proud to present our, for the first time ever, Toastmutant!

Pat Cadigan and Peadar Ó Guilín have agreed to achieve some sort of symbiosis and appear as our Toastmutant – as if there was ever any doubt that we wanted, nay needed, them both? We hope it wont be too messy! We know they are going to be wonderful hosts, and Pat will turn the party out, whilst minding Peadar and helping him curb his cannibalistic tendencies.

(2) OOPS! ChiZine Publications suffered a little bit of a disaster this weekend at Boskone:

Brett and Sandra are at Boskone 56 right now. Our entire stock of books was mistakenly put out on the freebie table.

If you grabbed a book from or see someone with a CZP, CHITEEN, or CHIGRAPHIC book, please tell them to return them to us at our dealer’s table, location A5. Or you can just come and pay for it! We are reasonably priced!

They later posted some good news:

We are quite overcome. Thank you to all the fans, readers and everyone at Boskone 56… A bunch of our missing books (that were mistakenly put out on the freebie table) were returned! We have recovered almost a full third. So our dealer’s table no longer looks so sparse. Come by and see our wares!

(3) CINEMA AUDIO SOCIETY AWARDS. Given February 16, the 2019 Cinema Audio Society Award winners were light on sff. The only genre winner was:

MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED
Isle of Dogs
Original Dialogue Mixer: Darrin Moore
Re-recording Mixer: Christopher Scarabosio
Re-recording Mixer: Wayne Lemmer
Scoring Mixer: Xavier Forcioli
Scoring Mixer: Simon Rhodes
Foley Mixer: Peter Persaud, CAS

(4) BLACK PANTHER. Kenneth Turan, the LA Times’ revered film critic, presents his case: “Oscars: Why ‘Black Panther’ deserves to win best picture”.

…Nowhere is it written, though voters sometimes act as if it is, that the Oscars are an elitist award for which mass-appeal movies need not apply. In a sane world, intelligently satisfying an enormous audience should be one of the things the Oscars are all about.

The key word there is “intelligently,” and if you’ve watched more than your share of superhero movies, you know that quality is often in short supply in a genre dominated by business-as-usual boilerplate.

Coogler (who cowrote with Joe Robert Cole) ensured that “Black Panther” would be an exception, in part by retaining his core creative team of collaborators, including composer Ludwig Goransson and production designer Hannah Beachler (both Oscar-nominated) as well as editor Michael P. Shawver and cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

Adding costume designer Ruth E. Carter (also nominated, for the third time in a distinguished career) was icing on the cake….

(5) COMPETING MARVELS. Adam Lance Garcia, in “The Twisted Story of How We Wound Up With Two Captain Marvel Movies (And Why One is Named SHAZAM!)” on Yahoo! Entertainment, discusses the backstory of how C.C. Beck and Bill Parker created Captain Marvel for Fawcett Comics in 1940, how National Comics sued Fawcett claiming that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman, how Fawcett killed Captain Marvel as a result of the lawsuit, and how Marvel resurrected the name for a different character in the late 1960s, forcing DC to rename the character Shazam! when they revived it in 1972.

First we need to rewind to 1938, when Superman created the superhero genre overnight, and comic book publishers, eager to get into the burgeoning superhero market, began creating countless flash-in-the-pan heroes in an attempt to recapture the magic of Superman.

Heroes such as Major Victory, Stardust the Super Wizard and Air-Male and Stampy — yes, these are all real — would only last a few issues before being tossed into the dustbin of comics history.

But in 1939, writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck created a hero that, for a time, would become the most popular superhero in the world.

His name? Captain Marvel….

(6) TRAILER SPOOF. Not only does this Captain have a split personality, she can’t remember one of them…

In this animated parody of the Captain Marvel movie trailer, the titular Capitano gets her mission to eliminate Skrulls confused with her personal hatred of senior citizens, Talos reveals what a true megastar he is and Nick Fury refuses to throw the first cat-punch. Let’s war party!

(7) IDEAS. Andrew Liptak, in the February 17 edition of Wordplay, tells what he’s looking for at conventions:

…Cons can sometimes be frustrating (your milage will vary from con to con), but I’ve been finding these sorts of events excellent for networking within the SF/F field, but not so much for getting anything productive out of them when it comes to the panels and programming. My standing advice for authors — if you’re looking for inspiration / advice / information that will be useful to you as a writer — is to hit up industry conventions and conferences instead. My trip to the West Point Modern War Institute’s conference last fall generated more useful ideas and talking points than I’ve gotten at places like Boskone or ReaderCon. I did get one solid idea for a story out of one panel, and I’m going to try and write that up this week… 

(8) EXTENDED DOOM. Here’s a long-version trailer for DC’s Doom Patrol, which DCUniverse began airing on February 15.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 17, 1912 Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 17, 1930 Ruth Rendell. whose full name of Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (née Grasemann) is quite wonderful. I know her only as an English author of very superb thrillers and somewhat disturbing murder mysteries but ISFDB lists her as doing horror as well to my surprise in the form as three novels, to wit The Killing DollThe Tree of Hands and The Bridesmaid, plus a not inconsiderable amount of short fiction that is fantasy no doubt. She was also the editor of A Warning to the Curious: The Ghost Stories of M.R. James. (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 17, 1939 Kathy Keeton. Founder and publisher of Omni. It was founded by her and her partner and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse. It would publish a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” “and “Johnny Mnemonic” and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” to name a few of the stories that appeared there. (Died 1997.)
  • Born February 17, 1947 Bruce Gillespie, 72. He’s one of the major Australian SF fans and is best known for his long-running fanzine SF Commentary. Over the years, he’s published The Metaphysical ReviewSteam Engine Time and is currently putting out Treasure. He was fan guest of honour at Aussiecon 3, the 57th Worldcon held in Melbourne in 1999.
  • Born February 17, 1954 Don Coscarelli, 65. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person.
  • Born February 17 1974, — Jerry O’Connell, 45. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind the broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisJustice League Dark, The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman. The latter film is kickass excellent. 
  • Born February 17, 1979 Dominic Purcell, 40. Best known as Mick Rory / Heat Wave in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, as well as Dracula from Blade: Trinity. He was lead as Tim Manfrey in Primeval where I’m assuming the giant croc ate him. Was that a spoiler? Oh well. Blood Creek, previously known as Creek and Town Creek — marketing woes? — has him as Victor Alan Marshall mixing with the occult and Nazis. Lastly I’ve got him on Beastmaster as Kelb in a recurring role.

(10) I’M SORRY, I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. “Maine farm’s bid to save ‘Game of Thrones’ goats imperiled by crackdown on semen” was a headline in the Bangor Daily News this week. The story involves efforts to sustain an endangered breed of goats. One of them was eaten by a dragon on Game of Thrones, but that was a CGI dragon and not really why they’re endangered….

Much of the semen comes from goats in Johanna Thorvaldsdottir’s flock on her farm, Haafell, in Borgarnes, Iceland. Thorvaldsdottir owns the world’s largest flock of Icelandic goats, with 208 in total. Her goats were the lucky flock featured in the 2014 “Game of Thrones” episode.

(11) HAVE AN APPLE, DEARIE? Paste Magazine delights readers with news that “Colleen Doran Adapts Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples for Dark Horse Comics”.

Today, we bring Gaiman fans even more glad tidings: “Snow, Glass, Apples”, Gaiman’s chilling retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, will join Dark Horse’s growing stable of Gaiman adaptations courtesy of The Sandman contributor Colleen Doran, who previously adapted and illustrated Gaiman’s Troll Bridge.

In typically topsy-turvy Gaiman fashion, Snow, Glass, Apples portrays a not-so-evil queen desperately trying to stop her wicked step-daughter’s “happily” ever after that was never supposed to be. Stopping ever after, however, is no small task…

(12) PLUS CA CHANGE. Despite tons of changes going on, Forbes contributor Mark Hughes thinks the DC Extended Universe is going great (“Why The Future Of DCEU Movies Looks Brighter Than Ever”). The article is long enough to strain the attention span of even those who haven’t been Twitterized, but maintains an almost uniformly positive view throughout. Some of the additions and changes below to the DC movie universe are recent and some date back a few months, but the stuff addressed in Hughes’ article includes:

  • An Aquaman spinoff, The Trench, has been announced
  • The Aquaman sequel has signed a screenwriter
  • Wonder Woman 1984 was delayed from the original mooted date, leaving only Shazam! and Joker on the 2019 slate for the DCEU
  • The Flash is still in preproduction with no start date announced
  • James Gunn—after being booted from working on the Marvel Cinematic Universe—has been hired in the DCEU
  • The next Suicide Squad movie will be a “soft reboot” rather than a sequel and will drop Harley Quinn
  • There seems to be no future for the Jared Leto version of Joker (from Suicide Squad) so don’t expect Leto to share the screen with Margot Robbie (at least in the DCEU)
  • Superman probably will not take to the screen for the next few years; a Supergirl movie is up next in that corner of the DCEU—circa 2021
  • After losing one writer-director-actor (Ben Affleck), The Batman movie has a writer-director (Matt Reeves) on board, but the script is still being polished
  • Rumors are ongoing about New Gods and Green Lantern Corps projects, but nothing is firm on either (especially the latter)
  • Tons of other potential projects are mentioned, but they’re even more speculative

(13) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]NPR: “Ph.D. Student Breaks Down Electron Physics Into A Swinging Musical” (The title is slightly misleading in that it’s about formation of Cooper pairs, superconductivity, and even delves a little into quantum computing).

It took [PhD candidate] Senarath Yapa six weeks to choreograph and write the songs for “Superconductivity: The Musical!” — a three-act swing dance depicting the social lives of electrons. The video is based on his master’s thesis, which he completed while pursuing his degree at the University of Victoria in Canada.

[…] “Superconductivity relies on lone electrons pairing up when cooled below a certain temperature,” Senarath Yapa told Science. “Once I began to think of electrons as unsociable people who suddenly become joyful once paired up, imagining them as dancers was a no-brainer!”

(14) BOOK FUNNIES. This kind of listicle can be tedious; or it can illuminate basic truths. Well, OK, not basic, but a lot of truths (“21 A+ Jokes About Books That Will Make You Snort-Laugh”). Many in Buzzfeed’s collection of tweets about books relate to genre works; many others are simply relatable.

(15) PHONE HOME. ScienceAlert.com says “An Asteroid Will Block Our Brightest Star on Monday, And Astronomers Need Your Help”.

An occultation of Sirius (by an asteroid named Jürgenstock) will be observable in parts of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean Monday 18 February and some astronomers are asking for your help. (Note the this projected path of the occultation is a major shift from that reported at the time the ScienceAlert article was written. That earlier prediction crossed a large swath of North America.)

Full instructions for how to help can be found in a post in this post by Bill Merline and David Dunham.

(16) IS THIS COOL, OR WHAT? Put me down for “What?” This idea definitely fits my notion of “counter-intutive” — “Elon Musk Says SpaceX Is Developing a Complex ‘Bleeding’ Heavy-Metal Rocket Ship”.

The spaceship is designed to be refueled in low-Earth orbit in order to propel 100 passengers and more than 100 tons of cargo at a time to Mars.

But the success or failure of the launch system – and by extension Musk’s plan to back up the human race – may boil down to the viability of two major and recent design changes, which Musk has described as “radical” and “delightfully counterintuitive.”

One change involves building the spaceship from stainless-steel alloysinstead of carbon-fibre composites.

But the most surprising shift, according to aerospace-industry experts, is the way Starship will try to keep itself from burning up in the atmospheres of Mars and Earth.

Instead of relying on of thousands of heavy ceramic tiles to shield Starship from heat, as NASA did with its space shuttle, Musk says the spaceship will “bleed” rocket fuel through tiny pores to cool itself down.

In theory, putting liquid between Starship’s steel skin and the scorching-hot plasma generated while it plows through atmospheric gases would prevent the ship’s destruction

(17) HELP ME OBI-WAN SHOE-NOBI. Time to upgrade your kicks? Maybe this is what you’re looking for (DorkSideOfTheForce: “Inkkas Star Wars New Rebel Footwear Collection is now available”). They’re available in a wide range of unisex sizes, but apparently not in various widths. Most styles are slip ons, but there are also lace ups including some high tops.

These are the shoes you are looking for. The Inkkas new Star Wars Rebel Collection has arrived with characters such as Princess Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca.

Available for both men and women the new Star Wars Rebel Collection by Inkkas is here! Take your pick from boots, to high tops, and slip-on shoes representing both the Rebellion and The Empire….

Who run the world? Girls. Who run the universe? Also, girls. Obviously. The Future is FEMALE, y’all, and these tough and brilliant characters are all the reminder that we need to stand up and fight for what matters.

*bleep bloop bleep bloop* We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, R2-D2! That heroic droid always knows exactly what to say. In case you need some translation help: this shoe features a clean and striking representation of one of our favorite characters on a sleek, slim slip on shoe.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Sophie Jones, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ Chip Hitchcock, Mlex, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]