Brandon Sanderson WFC 2020 Interview Highlights

Here are selections from the Brandon Sanderson Interview conducted by Dave Doering at World Fantasy Con 2020 on Saturday, October 31.


  • Brandon Sanderson’s first published novel, Elantris, came out from Tor in 2005. Tor also published six books in his Mistborn series, and the first three in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. Five books in his middle-grade Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series were released by Starscape. Brandon was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Since then his work has included the Reckoners trilogy, and the Skyward series. He also hosts the Hugo Award-winning Writing Excuses podcast with Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, and others.
  • Dave Doering is the founder of Life, the Universe, and Everything, a conference held annually in Utah. He also started the Leading Edge magazine at BYU. He works as a business and technical writer. 

DAVE: As we start our session today, Brandon, I wanted to borrow the approach from inside the Actor’s Studio and ask some general questions that I find fun:

What is your favorite word?

BRANDON: My favorite word changes. The word I overuse is maladroitly. Fans picked up on this early. Now my pet word is probably “miasma” or “inchoate”. I really love the word inchoate. But my editors tell me that’s a “once a book” word. 

DAVE: What turns you on?

BRANDON: Writing a new story.

DAVE: What turns you off?

BRANDON: Fish sticks. I really hate fish sticks.

DAVE: What’s your favorite curse word?

BRANDON: I don’t really curse, so I don’t really have any. However, when I was working on Mystborn, my 14-year-old sister went through it and crossed out all the curse words. (I was using “damn” and “hell”.) I didn’t consider those curse words but she was “ARR!”

She wrote in replacement suggestions for me to use. One was where I called a character a “damn fool”. She suggested i call him a “bone-doggey-head” instead. So that’s my favorite curse word since then. My 14-year-old sister suggestion: “Bone doggey head”. (That did not end up in the final manuscript, by the way.)

DAVE: What career would you follow now if you weren’t a writer?

BRANDON: If I weren’t a writer, I would hope I would have found some type of creative field to work in. Because doing something new each day and filling an empty page, making order from the chaos, is very, very excting and engaging to me.

Most realistically? I would have ended up as a professor. Because I do like academia. I do like teaching. If the writing hadn’t taken off that would have been one of the few careers open to me in what I was doing.

The thing is: I doubt if I would been able to make it because being in academia and gaining a tenure-track position today, particularly in the Arts, is really hard. There’s a lot of competition for those few places. What I am writing is Popular Fiction, and I don’t think I could have gotten off at any institution with a tenure-track position. I’d probably be some type of adjunct and live hand-to-mouth.

DAVE: In the next hundred years or so, when you leave this world, what do you hope that Robert Jordan will say to you at the great AfterCon? (And hoepfully not, “Well, Brandon, how DOES the Stormlight Saga end?!”)

BRANDON: I am hoping he says, “Good job!” “Good job but not as good as I could have done but you didn’t embarrass me kid!”

DAVE:  What’s the latest on your movies and TV series?

BRANDON: Good question. About three years ago, I sold a lot of things in Hollywood. This was kind of to a group I was hoping would be able to get them made. And as has always happened with me, nothing really ended up happening. I have gotten most of those rights back and I’m kind of sitting on them, trying to decide what I want to do.

There is nothing that is particularly close right now. I still have some of my things sold in Hollywood, but I’m starting to sit on the mall and just trying to assess what it is I want to do.

Hollywood’s an interesting place. I’ll tell you my favorite Hollywood story. Right when I was brand new, I sold my Middle Grade Evil Librarian series. My agent came and said, “Hey, somebody wants to buy this in Hollywood.” I’m like, What??  I didn’t know that anyone would be interested. This was before the first book had come out.

But Lemony Snicket was big at that point so I guess they were looking for things like that. So DreamWorks Animation optioned this in my second or third year that I had gone pro. They paid like $35,000 which at that point was what I was living on. (I was not making a ton for my books.) So that was really an unexpected bonus. I was perfectly happy to sell those rights and I still think of it as a great experience because, well, that’s what I lived on.

What they did was take several different properties and be working on  them–kind of with competing teams within DreamWorks Animation. They would bring them to Jeffrey Katzenberg and the heads of the studio. The teams would do these pitches, and Katzenberg would say yes or no, greenlight or no. It was not unusual that it took them two to three years to get everything ready. So they did all this.

They flew me out to DreamWorks. I got to go tour and see the storyboards they’re coming up with and all these things. Eventually our big day came where they took the screenplay and storyboard, all this stuff, in to pitch to Katzenberg. I was waiting with bated breath at my phone. Eventually the phone call came in. I picked it up and the first words out of his mouth were “Great news Brandon!”. I’m like, oh, they liked the pitch. They said yes, Katzenberg said this is probably the best screenplay he’s ever read. I’m like, wow.

Jeffrey Katzenberg has been in the business a long, long, long time. So my story is one of the best screenplays he ever read. Then I said, “I guess we’re greenlit then.” He says “Actually, no. He passed on the project. It’s dead in the water. We’re not renewing the option.”

I’m like, wait, what, what, how?? How is this good news? He loved the screenplay. If he loved the screenplay, why is he not making the movie?

They explained that he thought it felt like it was more of a live action than an animated one. So even though he really loved it and everything, they were passing. This is just kind of what happens.

I’ve found in Hollywood, nobody wants to give you bad news. Nobody really takes a lot of time to inform the author of what’s going on.  You hear well, well down the line ” Great news. It’s dead” quite a bit. That’s what educated me about what happens in Hollywood.

DAVE: So at what moment, Brandon, did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

BRANDON: It was later than a lot of people. A lot of my friends were writing when they were two years old. With me, I became a writer when I was in my late teens. What happened is I had had a great teacher.

It was in Middle School –the eighth grade. My teacher’s name was Miss Raider [?], by the way. True story. My English teacher got me reading fantasy novels. Before that, I was not a big reader. She had picked up on the fact that I was reading below my grade level. She convinced me to try reading a book. It was by Barbara Hambly–Dragonsbane.  I fell in love with books. I actually remember going to the school library and flipping through the things in the card catalog. (All the books in the school library were alphabetized in the card catalog. You could look up books by author or by title. (Okay, this was a long time ago.)

I read Dragonsbane and I just loved it. I’m like, Is there anything else like this?? Well, if there’s anything else like this, maybe it’ll have dragon in the title. So I went to the card catalog and I found Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey next to it. And I’m like, Well, I guess I’ll try this one. I dove headfirst into reading all the fantasy books I could get my hands on.

Over the next couple of years, I really fell in love with reading this genre. I started to think “maybe this is what I want to do”. It was because these stories just made me feel powerful emotions. I’m not a guy that generally is very emotional. Even as a high school student, I was not very emotional. But these stories really said something to me. And I wanted to learn how writers did that. How they made me feel like I was in this other place and experiencing all these things. So I started my first book, probably when I was 16, or 17. (I never finished that one.) I started another one after a year of college at 19. That one I did finish. And I just kept going. I wrote 13 before I eventually sold one.

DAVE: Well, congratulations. Did that take you, what?, about three weeks of writing?

BRANDON: Ha, ha! You assume I am a very fast writer. But I am really not a very fast writer. People misunderstand this, I’m just very consistent.

I write around 2000 words a day. But I only get to work four days a week these days because I have to spend one of my days on things like publicity and interviews. Working on other projects for the blog and things like that. So four days a week I write around 8000 words–about eight to ten thousand a week. I may be slightly faster than average. But I’m not horribly fast. I’m just I just keep doing it. And I I tend to enjoy it. So that’s what happens:

I just do that really consistently. That’s the secret to my success.

DAVE: That’s interesting. I’ve heard stories of you getting on the plane in Los Angeles and arriving in Australia with a completed novel.

BRANDON: Yeah, people love to tell those stories. I’ll tell you part of why those stories started up. Early in my career after I started publishing, it’s very common to turn in a book and a publisher would sit on it for two years or so to get all the editing done.

For instance, my first book I turned in the first draft in April of 2003. It came out like May or June of 2005, right? That was a very common. That’s a very common release schedule in traditional publishing. When I started to take off, my book sales starting to go up, my publisher started to say, “Wait, why are we sitting on this Brandon Sanderson book? Why not publish it now? So it’ll affect our bottom line now? And it’ll look really good to all, you know, the investors and the higher ups?”

Suddenly, all these books that I had been sitting on, like, I’d have three books waiting for publication, they started publishing them just several months apart from one another. So there was a period in my career when it looked like I was writing 300,000 word novels every three months because they suddenly were publishing everything really quick. We kind of got to the end of those. From then on my schedule’s been about a book a year.

So from that I got quite the reputation for being very fast. But most of that was my publishers rearranging of schedules in order to have Brandon Sanderson books coming out sooner.

DAVE: I’m curious about your early life in Nebraska. What did you carry away from Nebraska that has influenced you as a writer?

BRANDON: It’s hard to say honestly. I can point to Utah a little bit more since I moved out here in college. I went with a friend of mine who is a photographer down in southern Utah. A lot of people can pick out the southern Utah influence on things like the Stormlight Archive, which takes place in some chasms that feel very much like Little Wildhorse from Southern Utah, but I did I grew up my I I went to high school I was I didn’t move to Utah till I went to college.

I spent all of my my younger years in Nebraska. It was a really nice place to grow up. I had great teachers. I had good friends. Everyone’s really nice in the Midwest.

I still miss some of the Nebraska stuff. My favorite fast food found only in Nebraska is runza [a dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings]. I do miss that.

I don’t miss the weather. Nebraska’s weather is not something to crow about. Let’s just say it’s hot and muggy in the summers and it’s cold and blizzarding full of snow in the winters. I much prefer it out here [in Utah] for that. You know, I always like Nebraska, if it had at least mild winters and mild summers. You should have to have that trade off. You have these terrible winters? Shouldn’t you have to be able to have mild summers, but nope.

The biggest lasting influence that I had really great literacy professionals and teachers all through high school and college who are just really good at helping encourage learning in students. I thank them and I have sent them some books, because I really do owe a lot to those teachers.

DAVE: You spent two years in Korea. How has that experience impacted your writing?

BRANDON: That’s a really good question. For those who don’t know, I was serving a mission with my church. I lived in Korea, learned the language and things there for two years. Number One, the linguistics had a big effect on me. I’d studied French all through high school, but there’s nothing like going and living and having to immerse and learn the language to actually teach you.

I remember going to France when I was in my junior year of high school. I was thinking “Man, I’ll be able to speak speak to everyone.” My French was so terrible, I couldn’t. I could barely ask people to pass the baguette. It was just awful.

Living in Korea, I didn’t have that choice. I was there for two years, not for two weeks (like I had been in France). Really getting into another language and learning to speak it, particularly one that has some grammar that’s very different from English, was super handy for me. Just kind of changing the way I looked at the world, learning another culture and living in another country. One that just has different social mores and things was really handy for me when I wanted to look at developing fantasy cultures. Not that I base them on Korean or Korea but the ideas, it’s like first hand experience of how different cultures can be.

It was instrumental in helping me when I researched to make a new culture. I think I have a much stronger foundation for understanding some of these elements than I would have had if I hadn’t lived in another country for two years. There is a lot from my studies, (I went on to have a Korean minor in college), that does end up in my books specifically from Korea.

DAVE: How has your faith then impacted you as a writer?

BRANDON: Many know I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (I spent those two years in Korea as a missionary.) My faith makes me want to treat people’s belief systems with respect. (Nothing bothers me more than finding a book where there’s somebody that is like me, only to find that they exist to be proven wrong by the narrative.)

I kind of made the decision that because I’m so interested in all this, I’ve got to be really careful that I’m presenting other people’s belief systems or other people’s humanism, as well as I would want myself and the way I think depicted in stories, it is fascinating to me the various ways that people interact with Deity, or with with religion.

I explore the world through writing. My goal is not to go in and try to teach anything specific. My goal is to go in and to really explore who a character is, and what they believe, and why. Why they believe what they do.

DAVE: How did you make the transition then to become a writer?

BRANDON: My mother had convinced me to go to college as a chemistry major. Now my mother’s a very smart woman. She graduated top of her class in Accounting. In that era, she was the only woman in most of her accounting classes.

But she thinks like an accountant, and becoming a novelist was not necessarily a thing that seemed to add up to her on her balance sheets. She’s like, you know, if you want to be a writer, you should go become a doctor. Doctors have lots of free time, they always going golfing. So you could write books instead. So I went, and I was a chemistry major my freshman year at college. I did not enjoy it. They were there to do exactly what they did to me to ask: “Are you really sure this is what you want to do? Because this is what your days will be full of, if you major in this. So whoever designed those classes did exactly the right thing. They said, “Hey, chemistry in college is not chemistry in high school. Chemists become a chemist as a job.”

A doctor is what my mom wanted me to be but you know, there’s a whole lot of things involved in this that you got to be okay with. I washed out of that real quick and said, “No, my true love is writing, why am I here? Why am I spending all this time on these classes? I need to be a novelist.”

Korea was two years where I got to leave all that behind. Kiind of focus on something else for a while and really think about who I am, what I wanted to be, where I wanted to be. It was really great for that because it had me working pretty hard. That’s what life is like on the mission. We tend to get up early. That was a good regimentation for me. (I tend to have a bit of an artistic personality, which means that I could sleep in and maybe never get to my work.)

I came home from that and said, “You know what? I’m just gonna apply this to becoming a writer. I’m young, I’m stupid, everyone says it’s going to be a bad career choice. But I might as well do it when I’m young. I know that I’m pretty far behind a lot of other people who want to be writers, because I didn’t start until I was in my late teens. So I’m just going to work harder than them.” That’s why I started writing those books. That’s why I wrote so many, as I said. I got to give this a shot. So the next 10 years or so were just me working a graveyard shift at a hotel, writing books, and trying to figure out how to become a novelist.

DAVE: Why did you choose fantasy over science fiction? Your early science is very engaging and very compelling. So why Fantasy?

BRANDON: Why did I choose fantasy? When I first started writing, I did try a bunch of different genres. I had had good advice, which I think still is good advice, to try to write broadly, and do a lot of different things early in your practicing career. To really see if you can settle on what it is that you love to do. I’ve had many friends who thought they were one type of writer and then found their voice and in different genre entirely.

I wrote my first five books. Two of them were epic fantasies. They were basically the same book with a sequel, right? I just decided it’s long enough. I’ll end it now. Even though it wasn’t the ending. This happens to a lot of first time novels. I’d write the sequel and then I wrote a comedy, kind of a Bob Asprin’s-style comedy. I wrote a cyberpunk. I wrote a space opera. I just like doing that big survey, surveying the different genres. I did settle on fantasy as the thing I wanted to do.

There are a couple reasons for this. Number one, it was my first love as a reader. It is the thing that if I were going to pick a book, just off the show randomly, chances are good that you would find it is an epic fantasy book. That’s just the number of books that I owned of that genre were much more so what I really, really loved. It was an exciting time to be a fantasy fan, right? Because epic fantasy in particular can be argued as a little newer than science fiction. I feel like a lot of the innovations that were happening during the Silver Age of science fiction were happening in fantasy when I was a young man reading the genre in the 70s. When we started to see things like Sword of Shannara, it’s when we saw Dungeons and Dragons, it’s when we saw Star Wars. (We won’t get into the Star Wars “is it fantasy or science fiction?” argument here. But there are definitely fantastical things in that.)

I felt like as a reader, I was seeing new things all the time. There was more space in the fantasy genre to innovate than there was in science fiction. It’s part of what made me really excited. What I really like are and my first love are, these epic fantasy stories told in worlds that feel like science fiction worlds, that have the use of science fiction, some good old fashioned science fiction, world building, and extrapolation. They have these magic systems that stand with one foot in the fantastic and one foot in the scientific.

The books I’m writing are the handshake between the two sides. That is what I love, that is where I found my voice. That made me really excited to be writing these stories. I still enjoy science fiction quite a bit, I have written my fair share of it. But one of the things is I don’t feel like I read widely enough in science fiction, to really be leading a conversation. Anything I write in science fiction is not leading the conversation. Certainly, I hope that I’m doing things that are fun, interesting, exciting, and innovating. But I just cannot lead that discussion.

I can lead a discussion on where fantasy is going, right? I can be one of the people on the forefront of exploring what the genre can do. Because I have the background and the current reading knowledge to really add to that conversation in a way I just can’t in Science Fiction.

DAVE: Your ability to carry on this conversation with readers is on a global basis. I remember vividly your story of doing a book signing in the Middle East where maybe differently dressed fans stood in line to get you to sign your books. Different culture, but the same love of your works. How does an American fantasy writer have this appeal worldwide?

BRANDON: I think that stories have an appeal worldwide. One of the great powers of storytelling is it brings us together. It helps us see inside the mind of someone very different from ourselves. And that is, that is what you know, that’s why a lot of us writes why I writes why I read. I want to get inside this other person’s head, I want to see the the world that they create, and they want to, you know, be part of their life in a small way. And that’s why I think one of the reasons we love books.

DAVE: How do you balance your writing with your family life?

BRANDON:  You know, this is something I don’t think we talk enough about in the genre, or in the business of writing, I should say. It’s not impossible to have a regular life as a novelist. You don’t leave your work at work when you’re a novelist. I have a friend who likes to quip it’s great being self employed, you only have to work half days, and you get to decide which 12 hours that is. That is really an astute comment. Because you could write, as an author, 16 hours a day. You could write more than 16 hours a day, as the story sometimes will not leave you alone. This is part of what is exciting about the genre.

But it’s also very dangerous side about the business. It’s very dangerous because it is easy to ignore the other things in your life when you are a writer. I do think that there’s a much higher chance of authors having problems with substance abuse and some of these things, and self-medication, certain mental health issues and things like that among novelists. I can totally see why.

To illustrate an example of this. I remember when I was newly married. I went out with some author friends and my wife. I thought we had this wonderful dinner where we are talking all about the stories we’re working on. After dinner, I said to my wife, “Wasn’t that a wonderful dinner?” She says, “Well, you didn’t look at me once during dinner, I felt like I was invisible.”

This is very common among writers–to treat the people around them like they’re invisible. This is a big danger, I think. It was something that I had to realize I was doing. When I got into the storytelling mode, which happened a lot and still happens a lot, everything else faded. People felt ignored, justifiably, because they were getting ignored. I had to set up some strict boundaries in my life.

I recommend that, that writers or creative professionals or anyone who has a job that is very difficult to leave at work. Have some conversations with their loved ones about this. And what we kind of talked about is I realized I needed to, from a certain part of the day, I needed to wall that off from writing. I had to be like, I can’t write from from 5:30pm until 9:30, at night. That time can’t be used for writing, I had to take it off the table. I’ll spend time with my family if my family’s around. I had to just turn this into a firewall of time that is for family and not for anything else. By putting that firm structure in place, it’s actually been really good for my writing.

The thing we don’t acknowledge is: it’s really easy to burn out. In this business, it’s really easy to let those 16-hour days pile on top of one another. To the point that you get sick and tired and physically ill and start hating the thing that you once loved. It’s not good for us that we do this. By walling off a section has really been good for centering my life and for making sure that I turned into a slow and steady writer and not a mad, serious writer. Doing writing all the time. If my family’s not home, I can’t write during that time. It’s important for me that that not be writing time. I could read, I can do other things. But I cannot work on a book.

It’s really, really important we have these conversations. My wife said, “you know, one of the things I’ve noticed that you need is when you’re writing, you need to be left completely alone. This is very common for writers that a small interruption, when you’re in the zone, can mean big ramifications for how much you’re able to get done during that time. We need to be distraction-free.” She kind of became the guardian of my time. “I’m gonna make sure that Brandon is not interrupted during the times when he needs to be writing. And Brandon’s going to make sure that the times that he doesn’t need to be writing, that this time is for family and it is actually family time.”

It’s been really, really healthy.

For me, I usually only write five to eight hours a day. I do two four-hour sessions. Usually I’m getting up at around 12 or 1. I’m working till about five. I then get ready, take a shower, and spend 5:30 to 9:30 with my family. Around 10 o’clock, I go back to work till about 2am. As long as I’m hitting my word count goals at about 2, I’m free to go do something else. Play a video game, read a book, whatever. Usually by then, two four-hour sessions, I’m feeling mostly that my mind has been plumbed. There is nothing left to do.

If I’m really into something, I’ll take those two hours and I’ll keep going. So I have those two hours wiggle room that I can add more time if I want to in the day. Sometimes, I’ll add on a Saturday if I’m behind on a deadline. But it’s been really healthy for me. And what I find is, you know, people think that I’m a really fast writer, but by having this structure in my life, I don’t burn out. I’m very consistent, and I am able to keep doing this thing that I really truly love without having a lot of the side effects that could be dangerous and destructive.

DAVE: When do you find time in that brief 8-hour workday to do editing?

BRANDON: If I am editing a book, it is the main thing that I am doing. If I am not creating 2000 new words each day, I am in revision mode. In terms of words a day, it depends on how difficulat the draft is I am working on. A final polish is a bit easier than, for instance, the Alpha Read draft where I am making major changes based on editorial feedback on the book.

I can revise or edit between 8000 and 15000 words a day in the 8-hour workday if I am not doing significant changes. 15000 is when I am making small tweeks as I go along in  polishing and things like that.

DAVE: Let’s look at some general questions from the audience. Who’s your favorite character in your works?

BRANDON: I will borrow from Robert Jordan on this one. He always answered this question this way (or at least when I have heard him answer this in several interviews): “Whomever I am writing at the moment!”

I really like that answer, so I am going to steal it, because it is true. Whatever you are writing at the moment, whichever character you are writing at the moment, you need to see the world as they see it. You need to see it and be excited about writing about them. I try to make sure that is the case.

DAVE: Who do you turn to for input on worldbuilding? How do you avoid being distracted by all their input?

BRANDON: I turn to my writing group first. They are a group of friends and collegues that I have been sharing my work with since the early 90s. They know me as well as anyone does. They are very good at not pulling punches. That’s my initial group.

As for becoming distracted–it’s Discipline. I give myself a certain amount of time to write the book I am working on right now and focus on it. This rather than spreading my attention around on all the potential thiings I could be doing.

That focus was very important for me to learn. It’s part of what held me back early on from getting published. I did not have that focus early in my career. I was not willing to dedicate the time to polishing an individual work. Enough so that it was publishable. I would always move on to the next thing.

Certainly I had enough focus to finish the first draft, but not enough to finish the book. I find I need about five good drafts to make a book publishable and that I am proud of. If I don’t get four or five drafts it’s not going to be there.

Cats Sleep on SFF: Starsight

Simon Bisson pushes the envelope in his contribution to the series. (And who doesn’t?)

Well, not exactly sleeping, as our two recent arrivals, the literary calico Maine Coons Lyra and Phryne, are very very active indeed…

And not entirely sff, as Bisson reveals:

Here’s Lyra sitting on a book starring her sister’s namesake Phryne Fisher. Quite advanced reading for a four-month-old!


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

Pixel Scroll 7/24/20 Khrushchev’s Due At Tralfamadore. File 770, Where Are You?

(1) COMIC-CON STREAM IS LEGAL, GETS BLOCKED ANYWAY. “Cartoon Network and Star Trek Panels at San Diego Comic-Con Were Blocked by Youtube’s ContentID” – which reminded The Digital Reader of what happened to the Hugo Awards livestream in 2012.

Alas, no one was paying attention to Youtube’s ContentID copyright bot yesterday until after it shut down a couple officially sponsored livestreams from San Diego Comic-con. The first to get the boot was a Star Trek panel, and then a couple hours later Cartoon Network’s panel was also cut off.

Here’s why this is newsworthy: Both of these panels were blocked by Youtube the networks were streaming content that belonged to the networks.

Ars Technica reported “CBS’ overzealous copyright bots hit Star Trek virtual Comic-Con panel”

ViacomCBS kicked things off today with an hour-long panel showing off its slew of current and upcoming Star Trek projects: DiscoveryPicardLower Decks, and Strange New Worlds.

The panel included the cast and producers of Discovery doing a read-through of the first act of the season 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” The “enhanced” read-through included sound effects, effects shots, and storyboard images meant to bolster the actors as they delivered lines from their living rooms and home offices.

Even if the presentation didn’t look like a real episode of Discovery to the home viewer, it apparently sounded close enough: after the Star Trek Universe virtual panel began viewers began to lose access to the stream. In place of the video, YouTube displayed a content ID warning reading: “Video unavailable: This video contains content from CBS CID, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

After being blacked out for about 20 minutes, the panel was restored, and the recording of the virtual panel has no gaps in playback.

The Digital Reader reminded everyone: 

This is not the first time that livestreams have been blocked when they were legally using content; I am reminded of the  Worldcon awards dinner livestream that was shut down because someone played a Doctor Who clip. The video had been provided by the BBC (the show had won an award that year) but apparently no one told Ustream’s bot.

(2) TIME IS DRAGON ALONG. The Dragon Award nominations closed July 17, so what better day for their site to make its first post in over a year? Er, wait, it’s July 24! Makes a good reason to call it “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 1”:

…Now in its sixth year, the Dragon Con hosted Dragon Awards has proven to be the defining “must” list for the greatest in genre novels, media, comics, and games. While the world is locked inside, members and fans have turned to past award winners to build their reading lists.

We reached out to eight winners and asked them to talk about their award-winning novels, their other works, the Dragon Awards ceremony, and what they have coming up that they would like to share….

This is your chance say as much as you want right now to tell all the fans what they should know about you as a person and author, your work, and your career.

…Harry Turtledove: It’s all L. Sprague de Camp’s fault. I found his Lest Darkness Fall in a secondhand bookstore when I was about 15, and started trying to find out how much he was making up (very little) and how much was real (most). And so, after flunking out of Caltech the end of my freshman year (calculus was much tougher than I was), I wound up studying Byzantine history at UCLA. I got my PhD in 1977. If I hadn’t found that book then, I wouldn’t have written most of what I’ve written. I would have written something–I already had the bug–but it wouldn’t be alternate history. I wouldn’t be married to my wife; I met her when I was teaching at UCLA while my professor had a guest appointment in Greece. I wouldn’t have the kids and grandkids I have. I wouldn’t be living where I’m living. Other than that, it didn’t change my life a bit. Imagining me without reading Lest Darkness Fall is alternate history on the micro-historical level.

(3) FAN RESOURCES. Congratulations to Fanac.org for reaching new milestones in preserving fanhistory.

FANAC by the Numbers. Numbers can be misleading, but they do give us some idea of the progress we are making in documenting our fan history. As of today, we have 11,526 fanzine issues consisting of more than 179,423 pages. This is up from the 10,000 fanzine issues and 150,000 pages reported in our April update. Our YouTube channel is now at 621 subscribers, and 90,356 views, up from last time’s 500 and 75,000. Fancyclopedia 3 has exceeded 32,000 items.

(4) TIED UP AT THE DOCK. Next year’s JoCo Cruise, technically a Jonathan Coulton fan cruise but really a week-long ocean cruise of all sorts of nerdery, science fiction fandom, and boardgaming, has been postponed a year to March 5-12, 2022. John Scalzi, a regular participant, also wrote a post about the announcement.

(5) COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT UPDATE. Publishers Weekly reports on the defendants’ appeal in the media: “Internet Archive to Publishers: Drop ‘Needless’ Copyright Lawsuit and Work with Us”

During a 30-minute Zoom press conference on July 22, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle urged the four major publishers suing over the organization’s book scanning efforts to consider settling the dispute in the boardroom rather than the courtroom.

“Librarians, publishers, authors, all of us should be working together during this pandemic to help teachers, parents, and especially students,” Kahle implored. “I call on the executives of Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House to come together with us to help solve the challenging problems of access to knowledge during this pandemic, and to please drop this needless lawsuit.”

Kahle’s remarks came as part of a panel, which featured a range of speakers explaining and defending the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the legal theory under which the Internet Archive has scanned and is making available for borrowing a library of some 1.4 million mostly 20th century books….

But the practice of CDL has long rankled author and publisher groups—and those tensions came to a head in late March when the IA unilaterally announced its now closed National Emergency Library initiative, which temporarily removed access restrictions for its scans of books, making the books available for multiple users to borrow during the Covid-19 outbreak. On June 1, Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In a press release announcing the suit, executives at the Association of American Publishers said the Internet Archive’s scanning program was not a public service, but an attempt “to bludgeon the legal framework that governs copyright investments and transactions in the modern world,” and compared it to the “largest known book pirate sites in the world.”..

(6) GEEK PARTNERSHIP SOCIETY FUNDRAISER. At least four Minneapolis-St. Paul conventions call the Geek Partnership Society’s office space home, and a host of other groups use it, too (listed below). The facility may not be able to afford to stay open, and after three weeks the GPS GoFundMe has raised only $13,010 of its $40,000 goal.

Geek Partnership Society may not be able to honor the terms of its lease and could face permanent closure if funds cannot be raised by end of July, 2020.

Please act now to support our facility, our community programs, and the resources we strive to provide to all geeks in the Twin Cities. 

So, what happened?

-Clubs and individuals canceled their rentals  of GPS’s venue spaces as people complied with sheltering orders and tried to maintain social distance.

-GPS Charity Auction events that we rely on for income were canceled as local conventions were canceled or postponed.

-Some of our large annual contributors are also having financial difficulties. because their conventions were postponed/cancelled for 2020. 

What needs to happen now?

We need your help to keep GPS running through the end of the year. This will provide the time needed to plan a more flexible revenue model going into 2021. Our goal is to raise $40,000.

The GPS blog has more information: “GoFundme Launched – Save Your Geek Partnership Society”.

Here are some groups and programs who rely on GPS’ support.

  • Crafty Geek / Make It Sew
  • Creative Night, the Group!
  • Echo Base Lightsaber Building Club
  • Geek Physique
  • Geeks Read Book Club
  • GPS Photography Club
  • GPS Movie Appreciation Posse
  • Tsuinshi Anime Club
  • United Geeks of Gaming
  • Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party (community wide)
  • Geek presence at Art-A-Whirl
  • Holiday Emporium
  • Scavenger Hunt

(7) THE REDISCOVERED COUNTRY. 1000 Women in Horror author says book could have been ten times longer”: Entertainment Weekly interviews author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. 

The history of the horror genre is routinely told via the careers of male directors such as James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, George Romero, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven. Author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas‘ just-published book 1000 Women in Horror: 1895-2018, takes a very different approach, showcasing the contributions of women directors and actors as well as those who have toiled, often unsung, in other capacities. “When we think of women in horror, we default to Janet Leigh or Texas Chain Saw Massacre, those really iconic images from horror films,” says Heller-Nicholas, who has previously written books on Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45.  “We think of terror as being embodied through women’s bodies — screaming and running. I really wanted to explode that a little bit and say the person at the editing deck might be a woman, the person in the director’s chair might be a woman, the cinematographer might be a woman. If we move outside of the ‘single male genius’ who else is working on this stuff? And it turns out there’s actually some pretty amazing people, and some of them are women. There’s a lot more going on that women embody in horror than screaming. Not that there’s anything wrong with screaming. It’s hard work!”

Heller-Nicholas was inspired to have 1895 be the chronological starting point for her collection of mini-biographies after seeing a film from that year titled The Execution of Mary Stuart. “It’s a very very early example of special effects,” says the writer. “It’s Mary going up to the guillotine and having her head chopped off and her head being picked up, that’s the end of the film. I was first drawn to this because Mary is played by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ I was fascinated by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ Seemingly it’s a woman, but she’s defined through her relationship to a man. But I did some digging around and apparently it was actually played by a man. There was something about it, a little it of playfulness and the idea that gender and identity is slippery even in 1895.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 24, 1952 Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom serial premiered. This was a fifteen-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Columbia Pictures, based on the Blackhawk comic book, first published by Quality Comics, but later owned by DC Comics. The latter company would re-use the name in several versions of the group. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet (as Spencer Bennet) Fred F. Sears and produced by Sam Katzman. It was written by George H. Plympton, Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe. It starred Kirk Alyn, Carol Forman and John Crawford. Despite being very well received, the Blackhawk serial was the last film serial shown on air flights. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 24, 1802 – Alexandre Dumas.  Published work amounts to over 100,000 pages, translated into a hundred languages, inspiring two hundred motion pictures.  Born on Haiti (as it now is); father, a general and the son of a marquis; grandmother, a black slave; Dumas, the name he used, was hers.  His Nutcracker, a version of Hoffmann’s, is the basis of Tchaikovsky’s.  The Wolf-Leader, an early werewolf novel; The Marriages of Father Olifus, just (2017) re-translated as The Man Who Married a MermaidThe Count of Monte Cristo, a root of The Stars My Destination.  (Died 1870) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1878 – Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany.  Chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland.  Fifty Tales of Pegana with its own history, geography, gods.  Ten dozen unlikely tales told by Joseph Jorkins to anyone buying him a whiskey at their club.  Clute and Langford say D’s prose has muscular delicacy.  In Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise Blaine and D’Invilliers recite D’s poetry.  Translated into Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish.  (Died 1957) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1895 Robert Graves. Poet, mythologist, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book which Yolen quotes from in The Wild Hunt), two volumes called The Greek MythsSeven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list, and more short fiction than really bears thinking about. (Died 1985.) (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1916 – John D. MacDonald.  While the score of books (I warned you about these puns) featuring salvage consultant Travis McGee and his friend Meyer are favorites of many, JDM is here for three SF novels, five dozen shorter stories, he wrote until the end.  Wine of the Dreamers has been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish; its title if not already meaning something else might name fan activity or SF – or if not unfair to nondrinkers.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1936 Phyllis Douglas. She also appeared in two episodes of the Trek series in “The Galileo Seven” and “The Way to Eden”  and in a two-parter of  Batman (“The Joker’s Last Laugh“ and “The Joker’s Epitaph”) where she was Josie. She was in an uncredited role in Atlantis: The Lost Continent, and her very first role was at age two in Gone with The Wind. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1936 Mark Goddard, 84. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1945 – Gordon Eklund, 75.  Some are fans, some are pros, some are both; GE won a Nebula co-authoring with Greg Benford, another: they have written two novels (including If the Stars Are Gods, expanded from the novelette), half a dozen shorter stories, together.  Three decades after Stars GE won a FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Award as Best Fanwriter.  Twenty novels, six dozen shorter stories, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, including two early Star Trek novels, of which one has a Dyson sphere.  Recent collection, Stalking the Sun.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1946 – Tom Barber, 74.  Three dozen covers for books and magazines, a dozen interiors.  Here is the May 79 Galileo.  Here is The Men in the Jungle (in German as The Brotherhood of Pain).  Here is the Mar 76 Amazinghere is the Mar 19; the magazine itself is well-named.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1950 – Bob Fowke, 70.  Two dozen covers, a dozen interiors.  Here is The Golden Apples of the Sun.  Here is Connoisseur’s SF.  Here is King Creature, Come.  Here is La flamme des cités perdues; not all who wander are lost, but here is The Lost Star.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1951 Lynda Carter, 69. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1959 – Zdrvaka Evtimova, 61.  Author and translator.  Nine short stories for us in or translated into English, much more outside our field.  Besides Bulgaria and Anglophonia, published in France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Vietnam – two dozen countries.  Six Bulgarian awards.  Member of the Bulgarian Writers’ Union and the UK Writers’ League.  See her here (Contemporary Bulgarian Writers; in English, with a photo, book covers and excerpts, links to online stories in English).  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1964 Colleen Doran, 56. Comics artist and writer. She’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder WomanLegion of SuperheroesTeen Titans, “Troll Bridge”:by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1981 Summer Glau, 39.  An impressive run in genre roles as she was River Tam in the Firefly series and of course the Serenity film, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. (CE)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows that somebody needs a manual for first contact. (Fist contact?)
  • And ever is heard a discouraging word — Dilbert shows it’s tough to be a beginning writer.

(11) PILING ON. James Davis Nicoll finds “Five More Massive Works of SFF to Add to Your Must-Read Pile”.

Are we having fun with the lockdown yet? Some of you may live, like me, in a region where our pal COVID-19 seems to be under control—or you may be trapped in some dire realm where it is not. Yet, for even those of us who are momentarily spared, respite may prove temporary—it’s always best to stay safe and plan for the possibility of continued isolation. That suggests that it would be prudent to add to your personal Mount Tsundoku, preferably with tomes weighty enough to keep one occupied through weeks of isolation and tedium.  Omnibuses could be the very thing!  Below are five examples…

(12) READ SANDERSON CHAPTERS. As they’ve done with previous books in the Stormlight Archive, Tor.com will be releasing one chapter from Brandon Sanderson’s upcoming novel Rhythm of War each week from now through its release in November. “Read Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: Prologue and Chapter One”.

(13) REAL PERSEVERANCE. In The Guardian, Alison Flood interviews Brandon Sanderson, who discusses the long struggle he had to become a successful fantasy novelist. “Brandon Sanderson: ‘After a dozen rejected novels, you think maybe this isn’t for you'”.

Watching the numbers tick up on Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter is a remarkable way to pass the time. The fantasy author initially set out to raise $250,000 (£198,500) to release a 10th anniversary, leather-bound edition of his doorstopper novel, The Way of Kings. In less than 10 minutes, it became the most-funded publishing project of all time when it topped $1m. With 15 days still to go, he’s raised more than $5.6m. All this for a book that was just one of 13 Sanderson wrote before he’d even landed a publishing deal.

Most writers have novels that never see the light of day. But 13? That’s serious dedication. The books were written over a decade while Sanderson was working as a night clerk at a hotel – a job chosen specifically because as long as he stayed awake, his bosses didn’t mind if he wrote between midnight and 5am. But publishers kept telling him that his epic fantasies were too long, that he should try being darker or “more like George RR Martin” (it was the late 90s, and A Song of Ice and Fire was topping bestseller charts). His attempts to write grittier books were terrible, he says, so he became “kind of depressed”….

(14) PRESSED OWN AND OVERFLOWING. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid 24th July 2020opens with a tour of duty with Matt Wallace’s Savage Legion. TheSin Du Jour author has turned in his first epic fantasy novel and it’s fiercely intelligent, uniquely perceptive and exactly what the genre needs.

After that, I take a look at the March trilogy of graphic novels. Covering the life of Rep. John Lewis, they’re engrossing, pragmatic, inspiring and horrific. They’re also by some distance some of the best graphic storytelling I’ve ever read.

Our interstitials this week feature the men of The Witcher doing things. Well, attempting things. Well, in the case of baking, being present while it notionally occurs…

This week’s playout is a unique and wonderful version of The Cure’s The Lovecats by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Enjoy! I did.

The Full Lid is published every Friday at 5pm BST. It’s free, and you can find both sign up links and an archive of the last six months at the link above.

(15) KING REVIEWS BEUKES. [Item by Rob Thornton] In the upcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review, Stephen King has great things to say about Lauren Beukes’ post-apocalyptic novel “Afterland,” which is described by King as “science fiction” at one point and a “neo-noir” at another. Everybody gets into the naming game: “Stephen King on Lauren Beukes’s ‘Splendid’ New Thriller”.

…The flap copy on my advance edition declares that “Afterland” is a “high-concept feminist thriller that Lauren Beukes fans have been waiting for.” It is a thriller, I grant you that, and feminist in the sense that most of the men have been erased by a flu virus that develops into prostate cancer, but Beukes is too wise and story-oriented to wham away at ideas that have been thoroughly explored, sometimes at tedious length, on cable news and social media. She lets her tale do the talking, and the results are quite splendid.

This is your basic neo-noir, coast-to-coast chase novel, and Beukes, who is from South Africa, sees America with the fresh eyes of an outsider. …

(16) UNHAPPY HOLIDAYS. “Blocked Busters: Disney Pushes 17 Movie Release Dates” – NPR assesses the damage.

When Warner Brothers pulled Christopher Nolan’s $200-million thriller, Tenet, from its release schedule earlier this week, industry analysts expected a domino effect, and Disney announced this afternoon that the first 17 dominos have fallen.

The Mouse House’s live-action remake of Mulan, the last big-budget Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for August, is now “unset,” on the company’s release schedule.

And the studio has pushed back or cancelled the release of another 16 Disney and Fox films, in a ripple-effect that will affect movie releases for years.

One Searchlight film, The Personal History of David Copperfield, is still scheduled for summer, though pushed back two weeks to August 28. But such other Fox films as Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie remake Death on the Nile, and the supernatural thriller film The Empty Man have been delayed to later in the fall, while Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which was to have opened in October, has been postponed indefinitely.

Other films, including Ridley Scott’s historical thriller The Last Duel, and the supernatural horror film Antlers have been moved to 2021.

And in perhaps the most telling shift, three Star Wars pictures and four Avatar sequels, originally scheduled to alternate as Christmas releases starting next year, have all been moved back a full year, meaning the pandemic will affect film releases through Christmas of 2028.

(17) GOOSEBUMPS. Not the series, the Harvard study: “Getting to the bottom of goosebumps”

Harvard scientists find that the same cell types that cause goosebumps are responsible for controlling hair growth

If you’ve ever wondered why we get goosebumps, you’re in good company — so did Charles Darwin, who mused about them in his writings on evolution. Goosebumps might protect animals with thick fur from the cold, but we humans don’t seem to benefit from the reaction much — so why has it been preserved during evolution all this time?

In a new study, Harvard University scientists have discovered the reason: the cell types that cause goosebumps are also important for regulating the stem cells that regenerate the hair follicle and hair. Underneath the skin, the muscle that contracts to create goosebumps is necessary to bridge the sympathetic nerve’s connection to hair follicle stem cells. The sympathetic nerve reacts to cold by contracting the muscle and causing goosebumps in the short term, and by driving hair follicle stem cell activation and new hair growth over the long term.

Published in the journal Cell, these findings in mice give researchers a better understanding of how different cell types interact to link stem cell activity with changes in the outside environment.

(18) FIAT LUX. CNN delivers “11 billion years of history in one map: Astrophysicists reveal largest 3D model of the universe ever created”.

A global consortium of astrophysicists have created the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, a project 20 years in the making that researchers say helps better explain the history of the cosmos.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a project involving hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions worldwide, collected decades of data and mapped the universe with telescopes. With these measurements, spanning more than 2 million galaxies and quasars formed over 11 billion years, scientists can now better understand how the universe developed.

“We know both the ancient history of the Universe and its recent expansion history fairly well, but there’s a troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years,” cosmologist Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah, who led the team that announced the SDSS findings on Sunday.

“For five years, we have worked to fill in that gap, and we are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade,” Dawson said in a statement.

[Thanks to Nina Shepardson, Errolwi, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Josh Hesse, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Cally Soukup, James Davis Nicoll, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

World Fantasy Convention 2020 Adds Brandon Sanderson to Guest Lineup

Brandon Sanderson

World Fantasy Convention 2020 has named Brandon Sanderson, author of many NYT bestselling books, including the Mistborn® trilogy and the recently released Starsight, as one of the convention’s special guests. WFC 2020 will take place October 29–November 1 in Salt Lake City. Sanderson lives and works in Utah.

“We’re delighted to be able to highlight the accomplishments of one of Utah’s many talented authors,” said Ginny Smith, convention co-chairperson. “Mr. Sanderson has made a significant contribution to the fantasy genre, and we’re pleased to honor him.”

Sanderson’s books are regulars on the New York Times bestseller list, and many are international bestsellers as well. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s groundbreaking The Wheel of Time series, which celebrated its thirty-year anniversary earlier this month. Sanderson’s work has been published in more than twenty-five languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

He joins previously announced author guests C.J. Cherryh, Stephen Gallagher, Cindy Pon and Stephen Graham Jones, plus editor Anne Groell, artist David Cherry, and toastmasters Tracy and Laura Hickman.

Pixel Scroll 12/31/19 God Stalk Ye Merry Gentle Kzin

(1) PREACH IT! As the decade comes to an end, Cat Rambo comments on the writers driving the changes she aspires to keep pace with — “The New Rude Masters of Fantasy & Science Fiction – and Romance”.  One segment addresses “The Weaponization of Civility” —

As I’ve said, one cudgel used in this fight is a demand for civility, and I’m seeing it raised again in the debate surrounding the RWA ejecting Courtney Milan for speaking up. Courtesy becomes weaponized, a way of silencing. A way of forcing others to wait for the conversational turn that never gets ceded. Note Silverberg calling Jemisin’s speech “graceless and vulgar” and Spinrad weighing in to call Ng “swinish.” I cannot help but think that these men are less upset by what was said, than that it was not delivered with the deference that they felt Campbell, a proxy for themselves, deserved.

Hegemonic structures replicate themselves, continually pretending to reinvent and innovate but doing so in the same old forms. Traditional publishing is as prone to this as any other social structure. Indie writers get treated as though they were the nouveau riche, obsessed with money, when many of them are actually making a living at writing in a way our forebears—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Gilman—would have totally approved of. The truth is being a New York Times best-selling author doesn’t mean one is rolling around on moneypiles like Scrooge McDuck unless you’re part of a very very small group. For things to truly change, publishing must bring in new voices and not just allow them, but encourage them to speak.

Those voices are a diverse group, but one thing they often share is a lack of economic privilege, the sort that allows one to work as an unpaid intern, or pay for the grad school that gives one time enough to write or resources for focusing on craft rather than survival. That’s part of the undercurrent in those cries about vulgarity: an unease with people who haven’t undergone the same social shaping features, who may not have been signed off on by society with a standardized degree. To ignore the ways otherness has been used to justify discouraging those others is to be complicit in that act of silencing. And that, I would argue, is about as rude as it gets.

(2) SHORT STORY MARKET. Heather Rose Jones’ Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast will be open for short story submissions for audio publication during the month of January 2020.

Stories should be set in an identifiable pre-1900 time and place but may include fantastic elements that are either consistent with the setting or with the literature of that setting. And, of course, stories should center on a female character whose primary emotional orientation within the context of the story is toward other women.

Payment is the current SWFA rate of $0.08 per word. For full details, see the “Call for Submissions”.

(3) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. At Dragonmount: A Wheel of Time Community, JenniferL gets the logs rolling with “How Wheel of Time can Win a Hugo Award”.

Wheel of Time’s last chance

Despite its popularity and far-reaching impact on the fantasy genre, Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time have never won a Hugo Award. 

In 2014 the entire WoT series was nominated for (but did not win) the “Best Novel” award. The “Best Series” category did not exist at the time. WoT’s nomination caused a controversial stir, as some people didn’t feel it was appropriate to consider the entire 15-book Wheel of Time series as one single work. This helped prompt the World Science Fiction Society, which awards the Hugos, to add a new category in 2017, the “Best Series” award. 

At the time, it didn’t mean much for The Wheel of Time, but it did enable several other long-running and popular series (including Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive) to be recognized with nominations and awards. 

And now The Wheel of Time will have one more chance to potentially earn a Hugo Award. 

Earlier this year, in 2019, Brandon Sanderson published “A Fire Within the Ways”, a short story that was included in the Unfettered III anthology from Grim Oaks Press. This written sequence contained a lng set of “deleted scenes” from A Memory of Light. With Harriet’s permission, the scenes were lightly edited and submitted for publication in the Unfettered III anthology, with proceeds going to support health care needs for writers in need.  According to the WSFS bylaws, any new installment to a written series, regardless of length, makes The Wheel of Time eligible for the Best Series award. Therefore, A Fire Within the Ways makes WoT eligible for the first–and likely only–time.

(4) AUSTRALIAN FIRES CLAIM FAN’S HOME. BBC has been reporting all day on the fate of the Australian resort town of Mallacoota as the east Victoria bush fires overtook it. Moshe Feder reports, “I just heard from Carey Handfield that longtime fan Don Ashby has lost his home to the fire.”

(5) CHANGE BACK FROM YOUR DECADE. Andrew Liptak’s “Reading List, December 30th, 2019” sums up the decade in 8 news stories.

…Plus, I think that there’s a better way to look at the decade: how did science fiction and fantasy storytelling change in the last ten years? Why? After consulting with a number of authors, editors, and agents, it’s clear that the entertainment industry and SF/F have experienced major changes in the last ten years, from the introduction of streaming services, to Disney’s franchise domination, gender and politics within SF/F, self-publishing, and a growing acceptance of SF/F content within mainstream culture. This list is broken down into those categories, with a representative example or two from each section.

Here’s how the decade changed in 8 stories.

(6) FUTURE TENSE. Slate has put up a list of the sff stories they published this year as part of the Future Tense Fiction series: “All of the Sci-Fi Stories We Published This Year”.

Future Tense started experimenting with publishing science fiction in 2016 and 2017, but we really invested in it in 2018, publishing one story each month. That year was capped off by Annalee Newitz’s quirky and urgent “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis,” which won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of the year. Our hope was that these glimpses into possible futures could provide a thought-provoking parallel to our coverage of emerging technology, policy, and society today, inviting us to imagine how the decisions we’re making today might shape the way we live tomorrow, illuminating key decision points and issues that we might not be giving enough attention.

(7) MEN IN THE RED. “The greatest work of science fiction I’ve ever been involved with – my Men in Black profit statement” — “1997 hit ‘Men In Black’ is still yet to make a profit says screenwriter”.

Men In Black, the 1997 sci-fi comedy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, remains in the red despite making $589 million (£448 million) at the global box office over 20 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, that translates to $944 million (£718 million) in 2019 money, not taking into account extra ticket prices for 3D or IMAX.

This is according to the film’s screenwriter Ed Solomon, who adapted Lowell Cunningham’s comic book seriews for Sony Pictures, who then turned it into a mega-blockbuster with a $90 million (£68 million) budget that spawned three sequels and an animated series, not to mention shifting piles of merchandise.

Solomon, who also wrote all three Bill & Ted films, Now You See Me, and Charlie’s Angels (2000), shared on Twitter that he had received his “Men In Black profit statement” from the studio over the festive period which said that the film had lost “6x what it lost last period”, linking back to a previous tweet from June this year that said the film was “STILL in the red”….

(8) MEAD OBIT. In sadder news, Syd Mead, an artist who worked on Blade Runner, Aliens, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, has passed away. Variety has the story.

…Mead started his design career in the auto, electronics and steel industries working for Ford Motor Co., Sony, U.S. Steel and Phillips Electronics. He then transitioned to film. His career began as a production illustrator working with director Robert Wise (“West Side Story”) to create Earth’s nemesis V’Ger in the 1979 “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

He continued fusing technology with creativity, bringing to life some of the biggest films in science fiction. In 1982, he served as a visual futurist on “Blade Runner,” before collaborating as a conceptional artist with director Steven Lisberger  on the 1982 “Tron.”

He explained his inspiration for “Blade Runner” to Curbed in 2015, “For a city in 2019, which isn’t that far from now, I used the model of Western cities like New York or Chicago that were laid out after the invention of mass transit and automobiles, with grids and linear transport. I thought, we’re at 2,500 feet now, let’s boost it to 3,000 feet, and then pretend the city has an upper city and lower city. The street level becomes the basement, and decent people just don’t want to go there. In my mind, all the tall buildings have a sky lobby, and nobody goes below the 30th floor, and that’s the way life would be organized,” Mead said.

(9) INNES OBIT. Neil Innes, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Rutles and in collaboration with Monty Python, has died at the age of 75.

…A spokesperson for the Innes family said he had not been suffering from any illness and had passed away unexpectedly on Sunday night.

…In the 1970s, Innes became closely associated with British comedy collective Monty Python, contributing sketches and songs like Knights of the Round Table and Brave Sir Robin, as well as appearing in their classic films The Holy Grail and Life of Brian.

He wrote and performed sketches for their final TV series in 1974 after John Cleese temporarily left, and was one of only two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer, alongside The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

A film about Innes called The Seventh Python was made in 2008.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 31, 1958 The Crawling Eye premiered. In the U.K, it was called The Trollenberg Terror. Directed by Quentin Lawrence, it stars Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, and Janet Munro. Les Bowiec who worked on Submarine X-1 did the special effects. The film is considered to be one of the inspirations for Carpenter’s The Fog. Critics found it to be inoffensive and over at Rotten Tomatoes, it currently a thirty percent rating among reviewers. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 31, 1937 Anthony Hopkins, 82. I think one of his most impressive roles was as Richard in The Lion in Winter but we can’t even call that genre adjacent, can we? He was, during that period, also King Claudius in Hamlet. I’ll say playing Ian McCandless in Freejack is his true genre role, and being Professor Abraham Van Helsing In Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a plum of a genre role. It’s a better role than he as Odin has the MCU film franchise. What else have I missed that I should note? 
  • Born December 31, 1943 Ben Kingsley, 76. Speaking of Kipling, he voiced Bagherra in the live action adaptation that Disney did of The Jungle Book. He was also in Iron Man 3 as Trevor Slattery, a casting not well received. He’s The Hood in Thunderbirds (directed by Frakes btw), Charles Hatton in A Sound of Thunder and Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third of three great popcorn films.
  • Born December 31, 1945 Connie Willis, 74. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even me, someone who isn’t generally impressed as you know by Awards! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there.
  • Born December 31, 1945 Barbara Carrera, 74. She is known for being the SPECTRE assassin Fatima Blush in Never Say Never Again, and as Maria in The Island of Dr. Moreau. And she was Victoria Spencer in the really awful Embryo, a film that that over five hundred review reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a sixteen percent rating. 
  • Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 70. Let’s start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which yes , I know it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories for them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor there, something she’s also done at Nightmare MagazineOmni, the hard copy magazine and online, and Subterranean Magazine. 
  • Born December 31, 1953 Jane Badler,  66. I first encountered her on the Australian-produced Mission Impossible where she played Shannon Reed for the two seasons of that superb series. She’s apparently best known as Diana, the main antagonist on V, but I never saw any of that series being overseas at the time. She shows up in the classic Fantasy Island, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution.
  • Born December 31, 1958 Bebe Neuwirth, 61. She’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four, but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself is apparently still ongoing. 
  • Born December 31, 1959 Val Kilmer,  60. Lead role in Batman Forever where I fought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the not terribly we’ll conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh, that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone.
  • Born December 31, 1971 Camilla Larsson, 48. Therese in the first series of Real Humans on Swedish television. She was Jenny in the Mormors magiska vind series which is definitely genre given it’s got a ghost and pirate parrots in it! 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio warns us that pocket universes can pop up unexpectedly.
  • Scroll down to the third cartoon – a classic from The Far Side as cops deduce what killed these cats…

(13) THE LONELINESS OF GENERAL HUX. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Nobody really understands the motivations of General Hux in the most recent Star Wars movie, so Slate Magazine’s Dan Kois (@DanKois) gets into Hux’ head with excerpts from the General’s private diaries: “The Lost Diaries of General Hux”. The results are laugh-out-loud funny: 

Kylo Ren loves making little comments about Starkiller Base. “I sense a great regret in your heart about the failure of your planet-sized death machine,” he says. It hurts my feelings. I spent years managing that project, prime years of my career, and I only got to blow up one star system before the whole thing was destroyed. Which, incidentally, was the fault of those horrid contractors, not me. I can’t complain to Ren, obviously. I wish there was someone I could talk to! I ordered a therapist droid from the medical bay but Snoke had them all reprogrammed to say “Your problems are inconsequential, focus only on crushing the Resistance.” No one knows how to reboot them. It’s too bad—therapy is supposed to be covered in the medical plan, and a lot of our nameless young stormtroopers could stand to talk things out about their kidnapping, parents being killed, etc.

(14) BACKSTAGE. NPR’s Petra Mayer finds out that “‘Harry Potter And The Cursed Child’ Makes Its Magic The Old-Fashioned Way”.

When the creators of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were working on adapting the wizarding world for the stage, they knew a lot of people have seen the Harry Potter movies. And they didn’t want to reproduce the things most people have already seen.

The result is a spectacle that relies much more on human-powered magic than special effects trickery. And the show’s creators have documented that process in a lavish new coffee-table book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey. So I went on my own journey, backstage at the current Broadway production, to see how that magic is made.

Around and under the stage of Manhattan’s Lyric Theater, there’s a warren of corridors and staircases so complex you almost expect to pop out in Hogsmeade. But instead, I end up in a rubber-floored workout room where today’s cast is warming up for the show, directed by movement captain James Brown III (who also plays the magisterially surly Bane the Centaur).

It’s pretty intense. There’s yoga, stretching, and some hard-core calisthenics. Grunts and groans ripple around the room as Brown leads everyone through their paces. This isn’t usual for a Broadway show, but then not that many shows are this physical. The actors in Cursed Child create effects that would have been done digitally onscreen with their own bodies, and with the help of some special crew members.

(15) PAST GAS. BBC posted its collection of “The best space images of 2019”.

With some blockbuster space missions under way, 2019 saw some amazing images beamed back to Earth from around the Solar System. Meanwhile, some of our most powerful telescopes were trained on the Universe’s most fascinating targets. Here are a few of the best.

Up in the clouds

Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has been sending back stunning images of Jupiter’s clouds since it arrived in orbit around the giant planet in 2016. This amazing, colour-enhanced view shows patterns that look like they were created by paper marbling. The picture was compiled from four separate images taken by the spacecraft on 29 May.

(16) FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE. Oscar and Grammy-winning film composer Hans Zimmer wrote the theme music for the BBC podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon. He shares how Nasa’s historic Apollo 11 mission influenced his work in the BBC video “Hans Zimmer: What inspired 13 Minutes to the Moon’s music?”

“The problem is when you write about space, [as] we all know, there is no sound in space.”

Click the link to hear the full theme music from 13 Minutes to the Moon.

(17) UNDEAD SUPERHEROES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The LARGE majority of this list had me mentally screaming, “Noooooooo.“ In my very loudest mental voice. I’ve left out the reasons cited for wanting to bring each of them back in reproducing the list below. It’s kinder that way. CBR.com lists “10 Saturday Morning Cartoon Superheroes That Need To Be Resurrected”

Saturday morning cartoons. Before the advent of 24-hour cartoon networks and streaming services, this was the only way for kids to get their fill of both animated fare and sugary cereals. It was a Golden Age filled with characters that ran or drove past the same scene several times, animals that talked, and scrappy puppies that saved older cartoon franchises.

In the 1960s and 70s, it was also the place where superheroes came to life. Not only familiar ones like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. But also ones created for that precious five hours of time on Saturday’s. Some would continue on beyond this era. Others would vanish around the same time they premiered. Yet, they all have a space in our dusty and aging hearts. To honor these pioneers, here are 10 Saturday morning cartoon superheroes that need to be resurrected.

10 Captain Caveman

9 Superstretch and Microwoman

8 Frankenstein, Jr.

7 Web Woman

6 The Galaxy Trio

5 Freedom Force

4 Blue Falcon

3 Super President

2 Birdman

1 Space Ghost

(18) THIS IS THE CARD YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Baby Yoda’s trading card — “Star Wars: The Mandalorian TOPPS NOW” — you have only five days left to order it.

TOPPS NOW celebrates the greatest moments… as they happen!

(19) CLEVER COMMERCIAL. “Not genre but will put a smile on your face,” promises John King Tarpinian.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, N., Heather Rose Jones, Nina Shepardson, Chip Hitchcock, Moshe Feder, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2019 Dragon Award Winners

The 2019 Dragon Awards ceremony was held September 1 – here are the winners.

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad R. Torgersen

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • House of Assassins by Larry Correia

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • Uncompromising Honor by David Weber

Best Alternate History Novel

  • Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

Best Horror Novel

  • Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Best Comic Book

  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

Best Graphic Novel

  • X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis by Ed Piskor

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • Good Omens, Amazon Prime

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Avengers: Endgame by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Red Dead Redemption 2 by Rockstar Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Harry Potter: Wizards Unite by Niantic, WB Games San Francisco

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Betrayal Legacy by Avalon Hill Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • Call of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlathotep Slipcase Set by Chaosium Inc.

OTHER AWARDS

These other awards were also announced during the ceremony.

EUGIE FOSTER AWARD

THE HANK REINHARDT FANDOM AWARD

  • Edward deGruy

(Spelling of name may not be correct – it was not shown on screen.) The Hank Reinhardt Georgia Fandom Award is presented for outstanding contributions to the genre by a Georgia writer, artist, or fan.

THE JULIE AWARD

  • George Perez

In 1998, Dragon Con established the Julie Award presented annually in tribute to the legendary Julie Schwartz. The Julie Award is bestowed for universal achievement spanning multiple genres, selected each year by our esteemed panel of industry professionals.

Thanks to Red Panda Fraction and Ray Radlein for livetweeting the results.

Pixel Scroll 4/12/19 Been A Scroll Title. Twice.

(1) STAR WARS TRAILER UNVEILED AT CHICAGO CON. The Hollywood Reporter was at the Star Wars Celebration when the Episode IX trailer was screened.

After a year’s worth of speculation, emcee Colbert, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and filmmaker J.J. Abrams unveiled the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to a packed (and raucous) crowd at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on Friday.

Among the big reveals is that Emperor Palpatine, the villain played by Ian McDiarmid in the previous two trilogies and thought to be dead, is back — as his laugh is heard at the end of the teaser. McDiarmid also walked out onstage after the trailer and ordered it to be replayed.

Earlier in the panel, Abrams made what might have been a reference to Palpatine, though he didn’t name him.

“This movie, in addition to being the end of three trilogies, it also has to work as its own movie,” said Abrams. “It’s about this new generation and what they’ve inherited, the light and the dark, and asking the question as they face the greatest evil, are they prepared? Are they ready?”

(2) 949. Maybe C-3PO deserves a new number, and not just the strange typo Fansided gives him while declaring “Anthony Daniels is the G.O.A.T. of the Star Wars films”

Daniels is one of the few characters who has appeared in all nine of the Star Wars films, which is a remarkable feat that should be celebrated among the Star Wars universe.

In fact, it was fitting that Daniels would be the first cast member introduced at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago along with R2-D2, the other character to grace every single film. When you think of 3-CPO, you often think of Daniels, and without his unique take on this iconic character, 3-CPO wouldn’t be the beloved character he is today.

(3) PRIEST HONORED. GenCon 2019 has announced Cherie Priest as its Author Guest of Honor.

Gen Con, the largest and longest-running tabletop gaming convention in North America, has named Locus Award-winning and Hugo Award-nominated author Cherie Priest as the event’s 2019 Author Guest of Honor. Ms. Priest will take part in several events as part of the convention’s Writer’s Symposium program, including book signings and appearances.

(4) LOOKS LIKE HECK. NPR’s Chris Klimek’s reaction to Hellboy: “Hell, no!”

Hellboy, despite its colon-free title, is actually the fifth movie starring the good-guy demon hero (if you count the two animated films that featured the same cast as the live-action films made by monsteur auteur Guillermo del Toro in 2004 and 2008) and it’s even more exhausting than this sentence.

Pity. The blue-collar, crimson-skinned agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense — basically a more inclusive version of the Men in Black, with a more casual dress code — is a marvelous character on the page. And because filmmaker del Toro has at least as much affection for 1930s serials and monster movies and European folklore as cartoonist Mike Mignola (Hellboy’s creator) does, his two adaptations of Mignola’s comics were revered. But like most del Toro films they were only moderate box office successes, and the profligate profitability of Marvel movies in the subsequent decade (Hellboy is a creator-owned specimen of IP, outside the Disney megalith) demanded that someone try to tap that rich vein again.

Englishman Neil Marshall would appear to be a sterling candidate: He made a trio of well-regarded low-budget genre flicks and directed two episodes of Game of Thrones, including “Blackwater,” which featured the climactic battle of the series’ second season. The chaotic, repetitive movie he’s given us here calls into question not just his competence but his taste….

(5) NIGHTFIRE BLAZES TO LIFE. “Tom Doherty Associates Announces Nightfire, a New Horror Imprint”Tor.com has the story.

Tom Doherty Associates (TDA) President and Publisher Fritz Foy announced today the creation of NIGHTFIRE, a new horror imprint that will join Tor, Forge, Tor Teen & Starscape, and Tor.com Publishing as part of Tom Doherty Associates.

Foy will be Publisher, and TDA will add dedicated staff in editorial, as well as supplemental staff in marketing and publicity. Under the Nightfire imprint, editors will acquire and publish across the breadth of the genre­—from short story collections to novellas and novels, from standalone works to series, from dark fantasy to the supernatural, from originals to reprints of lost modern classics. In addition to publishing books across all formats (print, audio, and ebook), Nightfire’s releases will also include podcasts, graphic novels, and other media.

(6) FINISHING SCHOOL. Jeff Somers brilliantly envisions “How 15 of Your Favorite Authors Might Finish George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Brandon Sanderson
After reviewing George R.R. Martin’s notes, Sanderson announces it will take not two but six more books to finish the story properly. After delivering four 1,000-page tomes, Sanderson himself passes away (buried under a pile of 3,500 manuscript pages for the ninth book in the Stormlight Archive) with the story still incomplete. It is the year 2049. The final two books are completed by Christopher Paolini, working from Sanderson’s notes on Martin’s outlines, and are beamed directly into people’s brains via the NookVR brain uplink.

(7) QUIDDITCH REVISIONISM. Emily Giambalvo in the Washington Post profiles the University of Maryland Quidditch team, currently ranked No. 1 and headed to the national Quidditch Cup in Round Rock, Texas this weekend.  But only a quarter of the quidditch players have read Harry Potter and capes and bristles on the “brooms” are now banned (platers compete with PVC pipes between their legs). “Crab cakes and quidditch: That’s what Maryland does”.

The Maryland quidditch team has a 27-3 record and is ranked No. 1 in the country, but it still exists in relative obscurity. Fellow students walk by the practice without adjusting their pace, but they keep their heads turned toward the training. Sometimes onlookers pull out their phones, capturing what seems like a strange combination between playful chaos and a serious sport.

(8) A LITTLE REVIEW. NPR’s Linda Holmes finds Little: A Wrong-Body Comedy That Can’t Get Comfortable”

Marsai Martin is a star.

If you’ve seen her as Diane, the younger daughter on ABC’s Black-ish, you might already know. Diane is wise, wily, funny and a step ahead of her twin brother, Jack. And while scripts work wonders, you cannot create a character like Diane around an actress who wasn’t yet ten years old when she was cast in the role unless the actress in question has the chops for it. Martin’s first starring role in a film comes in Little, where she holds the screen opposite comedy powerhouses Issa Rae and Regina Hall. What’s more, everyone involved in promoting the movie says it was her idea — which she pitched when she was ten. Now, at 14, she’s an executive producer on the film.

…Unfortunately, the film needs more comedy and more consistency in the comedy it has. When it’s funny, it’s really funny, but it’s not funny frequently enough….

(9) TIME TREKKERS. YouTuber Steve Shives tries to determine “Who Is Actually Star Trek’s Most Reckless Time Traveler?”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 12, 1884 Bob Olsen. He wrote stories for Amazing Stories, from 1927 to 1936, many of them said to be of humorous inclination. He was one of the first writers to use the phrase ‘space marine’ in a two-story Captain Brink sequence consisting of “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” (November 1932 Amazing) and “The Space Marines and the Slavers” (December 1936 Amazing). I’m fairly sure thathe wrote no novels and less than twenty-four short stories. I do know that severe arthritis curtailed his writing career in 1940. (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 12, 1915 Emil Petaja. An author whose career spanned seven decades who really should be remembered as much for his social circles that included early on as H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and August Derleth which later expanded to include Anthony Boucher, Frank M. Robinson, Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Robert A. Heinlein.  It should not be overlooked that he did write seven novels and around forty short stories during his career with the stories appearing in Weird TalesFantasy and Science FictionFantastic Adventures, Worlds of Tomorrow,  Future Science Fiction Stories and other venues as well. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 12, 1936 Charles Napier. Well let’s meet Adam on the Trek episode of “The Way to Eden”. Oh, that’s a horrible outfit he’s wearing. Let’s see if he had better genre roles… well he was on Mission: Impossible twice in truly anonymous roles, likewise he played two minor characters on The Incredible Hulk and he did get a character with a meaningful name (General Denning) on Deep Space 9. I surprised to learn that he was General Hardcastle in Superman and Justice League Unlimited series, and also voiced Agent Zed for the entire run of the Men in Black animated series. (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 12, 1958 Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, 61. A LA-resident con-running fan. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons, frequently in the art shows. She is has been a member of the Dorsai Irregulars. She is married to fellow fan Jerome Scott. Works for NASA where she writes such papers as ‘Measurements of Integration Gain for the Cospas-Sarsat System from Geosynchronous Satellites’.
  • Born April 12, 1971 Shannen Doherty, 48. Prue Halliwell on Charmed. (Watched the first, I think, four seasons. Lost interest at that point.) Her first genre role was voicing a mouse, Teresa Brisby to be exact on The Secret of NIMH. She was Cate Parker in Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys — a film that can’t possibly be as bad as its name, can it? Though I’m willing to bet that Borgore & Sikdope: Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse, an Internet short film, in which she is a News Anchor is every bit as bad as its title! 
  • Born April 12, 1979 Claire Danes, 40. Best known genre role is Kate Brewster in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  Also was Yvaine in Stardust, a film that’s not even close to its source material. 
  • Born April 12, 1979 Jennifer Morrison, 40. Emma Swan in the Once Upon a Time series, and Winona Kirk, mother of James T. Kirk in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. She also paid her horror dues in Urban Legends: Final Cut as Amy Mayfield, the student videographer whose film goes terribly wrong. I’m intrigued to see that she’s the voice actor for the role of Selina Kyle / Catwoman in the forthcoming Batman: Hush, a film that needs a R rating to be told properly. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Ziggy makes an out of this world real estate deal.

(12) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. Popular Mechanics feels “Cave Paintings Suggest Ancient Humans Understood the Stars Much Better Than We Thought”.

Studying cave paintings from Turkey, Spain, France, and Germany, researchers have come to the conclusion that humanity’s ancient ancestors were smarter than previously given credit for. These famed paintings were not simply decorative, a new study says—they represent a complex understanding of astronomy predating Greek civilization.

And the paper their article is based on is just fascinating – the PDF is here: “Decoding European Palaeolithic art: Extremely ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes”.

(13) BLACK HOLE PHOTO CREDIT. The Washington Post sets the record straight in “Trolls hijacked a scientist’s image to attack Katie Bouman. They picked the wrong astrophysicist.”

…Identical memes quickly spread across Twitter, where one typical response was, “Andrew Chael did 90% of the work. Where’s his credit?”

But those claims are flat-out wrong, Chael said. He certainly didn’t write “850,000 lines of code,” a false number likely pulled from GitHub, a Web-based coding service. And while he was the primary author of one piece of software that worked on imaging the black hole, the team used multiple different approaches to avoid bias. His work was important, but Bouman’s was also vital as she helped stitch together all the teams, Chael said.

“Katie was a huge part of our collaboration at every step,” Chael said.

In truth, singling out any one scientist in a massive, cross-disciplinary group effort like the Event Horizon Telescope’s project is bound to create misapprehensions. Many who shared an equally viral image of Bouman clutching her hands in joy at the sight of the black hole came away wrongly believing she was the sole person responsible for the discovery, an idea the postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has tried to correct.

(14) TILT THE TABLE, LUKE. Polygon reports “Entire Star Wars Pinball collection coming to Switch, with new modes”.

All 19 tables of Zen Studios’ Star Wars Pinball are coming to Nintendo Switch, with a vertical play mode that takes advantage of the Switch screen’s dimensions when held sideways.

In addition to being sold through the Nintendo eShop, Star Wars Pinball will also get a physical edition release, a first ever for a Zen pinball suite. Star Wars Pinball will launch for Switch on Sept. 13, 2019, the studio/publisher announced today in advance of this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration.

(15) REDFEARN. StokerCon UK, to be held April 16-19, 2020 in Scarborough, has announced its Editor Guest of Honour:

Gillian Redfearn is the Hugo Award-nominated Deputy Publisher of Gollancz, the world’s oldest Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint.

Within five months of joining the Gollancz team as editorial assistant she had commissioned the bestselling First Law trilogy from Joe Abercrombie, swiftly followed by acquiring the UK rights to Patrick Rothfuss’ novels. When she became Editorial Director for the imprint in 2014 she was selected as a Bookseller Rising Star, and two years later Gollancz was shortlisted for best imprint in the Bookseller Awards.

Throughout her career Redfearn has worked across the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres, with bestselling and award winning authors including Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, Aliette de Bodard, Joe Hill, Charlaine Harris, Joanne Harris, Sarah Pinborough, Brandon Sanderson, Alastair Reynolds and Chris Wooding, among many others.

(16) PKD’S LAST BOOK. Electric Lit’s Kristopher Jansma, in “Philip K. Dick’s Unfinished Novel Was a Faustian Fever Dream “, says “the sci-fi author died before he could write ‘The Owl in Daylight,’ but he described trippy plot ideas about aliens, music, and Disneyland.”

On January 10, 1982, the science fiction author Philip K. Dick sat down for an interview with journalist and friend Gwen Lee to discuss The Owl in Daylight, a novel that he’d been composing in his mind since May of the previous year. He wouldn’t finish—or even really begin—the book before his death from a stroke a few weeks later, but the novel he outlined to Lee has had as strange an afterlife as Dick himself.

(17) THEY LOST ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter monitored tonight’s Jeopardy! outrage —

Answer: The director of the 2018 version of this 1953 classic said, Yes, books were harmed in the making of this motion picture.

Wrong Question: “What is Burn After Reading”?

(18) WHAT DO THEY KNOW. Heresy! “Coffee not essential for life, Swiss government says”.

The Swiss government wants to put an end to its emergency stockpile of coffee after declaring that it is “not essential” for human survival.

Switzerland began storing emergency reserves of coffee between World War One and World War Two in preparation for potential shortages.

It continued in subsequent decades to combat shortages sparked by war, natural disasters or epidemics.

It now hopes to end the practice by late 2022. But opposition is mounting.

It currently has 15,300 tonnes saved up – that’s enough to last the country three months.

(19) EARLY LEARNING. “Artists draw on Scotland’s Neolithic past” to teach people how to build their own timber circles. Should they be interested, that is…

Artists have drawn on Scotland’s Neolithic past to create a series of new illustrations.

The artwork, which includes a tribe and a guide to building a ceremonial timber circle, is for a free education pack called The First Foresters.

It has been created by Forestry and Land Scotland, formerly Forestry Commission Scotland, and Archaeology Scotland.

The artists were guided by European Neolithic artefacts for their drawings.

…”Alan produced the bulk of the illustrations, including a fantastic image of a decaying timber circle being enclosed by an earthen henge, and a fabulous ‘how to build a timber circle’ instruction sheet.

(20) GUNS & WHAMMO. Apropos of recent discussions here, Evan Allgood shows you what “Poorly Researched Men’s Fiction” looks like, at McSweeney’s.

I had a whole gaggle of 100-point bucks in my sights, sleeping peacefully on their feet, like cows. The way they were lined up, I could take down the whole clan in a single shot of gun, clean through their magnificent oversized brains. That’d be enough (deer) meat to last Nora and the baby through the harsh Amarillo winter. I shifted my weight in my hidey spot, snapping a twig and pouring more pepper on the fire by muttering, “God dammit all to hell.” But like any hunting man worth his salt, I was wearing camouflage — that swirly brown-and-green stuff you sometimes see on bandanas. The deers, famously self-assured creatures, didn’t budge. They were awake now, munching happily on some squirrels they’d killed for food, the carnivores. But now they were the squirrels in this equation, which felt somehow ironic….

(21) UNAIRED. You can see a four-minute clip from an unaired Star Trek pilot filmed in 16mm.

The original print from Star Trek’s 2nd pilot was never aired in this format. Had different opening narration, credits, had acts 1 thru 4 like an old quinn martin show and had scenes cut from aired version and different end credits and music. The original 16mm print is now stored in the Smithsonian

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

2018 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ: 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, and 46 of the novellas published in 2017 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

The result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza and the 2017 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able to do Hugo nominations for the novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

The success and popularity of novellas in the last 4 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Tor.com, Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, Book Smugglers, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Tachyon bringing out a multitude of works, along with the traditional magazines Asimov’s, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Analog – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2018 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)

Read more…

Pixel Scroll 9/18/18 When Lessa Told Me To Do It, I Succumbed To Weyr Pressure

(1) BIGFOOT’S POLITICAL OPINIONS. Registration is required to read Adweek’s article “Bigfoot Tries to Get Footage of an Elusive Congressman in This Enjoyably Odd Political Ad”. Fortunately, the commercial itself is available at YouTube.

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!”

(4) BELGIAN INFLUENCE ON SPACE PROGRAM. “Elon Musk Says SpaceX’s BFR Design Is Inspired by Tintin Comics”Inverse has the story.

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.

(5) THE ACADEMY. At Quills, Fretful Porpentine’s new discourse is: “On the performativity of ‘What have you been reading lately?’” Here’s the kind of thing college professors are supposed to say when asked what they have been reading:

– 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.

(6) YOU ARE HERE. A new version of a reference frame for the universe is being released (Gizmodo: “Where Are We in Space? Astronomers Update Their Celestial Frame of Reference”). The third International Celestial Reference Frame is based with (0,0,0) at the center of mass of the Solar System, with the axes fixed in relation to a number of distant quasars.

“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.

(7) MEXICANX INITIATIVE. The second installment of Hector Gonzalez’ report — “My Road to Worldcon 76. Part 2: Who the hell is John Picacio?”

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:

Queer Families

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.

Contemporary work…

(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.

(12) PUNCH-CARD-PUNK. Mary Robinette Kowal is writing two new lady astronaut novels. Andrew Liptak interviews the author for The Verge“Return to an alternate history space race with two new Lady Astronaut novels”

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.

(13) WHEN PERFECTION ISN’T ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE. James Davis Nicoll discusses “Six Stories That Find the Drama in Utopian Settings” at Tor.com.

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.

(14) YOUNG VETERAN ACTOR. Sandie Angulo Chen in the Washington Post interviews seventh-grader Owen Vaccaro, star of The House With a Clock in Its Walls, about how he became an actor and what it was like to work on the film: “Sports didn’t interest Owen Vaccaro, but a theater class sparked a passion for acting”

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.”

(15) BACK LOOKING FOR SUNSPOTS. In a September 16 press release (“AURA Statement about the Status of the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico”), the sponsoring organizations (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and the National Science Foundation) have released some information on the mysterious closure of the Sunspot Solar Observatory.

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.]

Pixel Scroll 8/27/18 Pixelbot Murderscrolls

(1) ON THE GROUND AT WORLDCON 76. Raven Oak’s trip report about Worldcon 76 includes a fun photo of astronaut Kjell Lindgren posing with fans costumed (so I believe) as the GalaxyQuest alien crew members.

Kjell thanked me and said he was an astronaut because of science fiction authors like me. He read lots of sci-fi books as a kid, which made him dream of going into space. He signed the back of one of my coloring book pages, the one featuring Bay-zar from my sci-fi novella Class-M Exile.

Lots of good photos of hall costumes, too.

(2) RETRO HUGOS OF 1943. Chair Kevin Roche sent along a better photo of the Retro-Hugo award base he designed for Worldcon 76.

The block is solid cherry, in honor of the orchards once common in San Jose (cherries were still one of the top cash crops in the Valley of Heart’s Delight in the early 40s).  The backplane is a laser-etched image I created of our SJ Galactic Tower, which is itself an homage to the historic San Jose Electric Tower, erected in 1881 and making San Jose the first electrified downtown west of the Rockies (the historic tower, alas, collapsed in 1915. I have photos from 1910 showing buses driving under the tower where it stood over the intersection of Market and Santa Clara Streets.)

(3) CHILDHOOD’S BEGINNING. James Davis Nicoll gives his opinions about “SF Books That Did Not Belong in the Kids’ Section of the Library” at Tor.com. He’s talking about his childhood, however, not whatever the current situation may be.

How Norman Spinrad’s The Men in the Jungle, which features drugs, violence, and infanticide, made it into the children’s section, I don’t know. Is there anything by Spinrad that is child-friendly? That was indeed a traumatizing book to encounter when I was prepared for something more along the lines of Blast-off at Woomera. If I think about that Spinrad book now (even though I am older and somewhat hardened) I still feel queasy.

(4) CAMPAIGN TRAIL WOES. Congressional candidate Brianna Wu was quoted in the New York Times campaign coverage: “For Female Candidates, Harassment and Threats Come Every Day”.

A different kind of normalization happens at the other end of the spectrum, where the harassment is so vicious and constant that it overwhelms the ability to react.

As an independent video game developer in 2014, Brianna Wu was the subject of abuse during GamerGate, when women involved in gaming were targeted for harassment.

Now a Democrat running for Congress in Massachusetts, Ms. Wu, 41, said death and rape threats came so routinely that she had ceased to feel much in response. Even when people threw objects through her window. Even when they vandalized her husband’s car. Even when they emailed paparazzi-like photos of her in her own home.

“I often look at it and I’m like: ‘I know I should be feeling something right now. I know I should be feeling scared or angry or stressed.’ And it’s at a point where I can’t feel anything anymore,” Ms. Wu said. “It’s almost like fear is a muscle that is so overtaxed, it can just do nothing else in my body.”

Many said it was a point of principle not to be intimidated into silence. Others said their political ideals were simply more important.

“For good reason, there’s never any shortage of telling stories about women being harassed on the campaign trail,” Ms. Wu said. “But I cannot communicate to you strongly enough: Over all, this job is fun. This job is exhausting, but this job is amazing.”

(5) ANOTHER BORDER ISSUE. Some artists on their way to a Dungeons & Dragons concept push were stopped from entering the US because their Electronic System for Travel Authorization waiver was not accepted as they expected.

According to the government website about the ESTA program –

ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions.

(6) VOTING WISDOM. Brandon Sanderson delivers a brief conreport and some classy advice in “Worldcon Wrap-up and Dragon Awards”.

The Hugo Awards ceremony was a delight. We didn’t win the Best Series award, but to be honest, at only three books into the Stormlight series it might have been a little preemptive to give it any awards. We’ll see how things go as the series progresses. Many congrats to Lois McMaster Bujold (the winner), who is a favorite around the Dragonsteel offices. She’s a fantastic writer, well worthy of the award.

Oathbringer still has one shot at an award, the Dragon Award, given out at Dragon Con. This is a newer award, one I’m not as familiar with, but man…the award itself is gorgeous. (Seriously, you guys should go have a look at the thing.)

…As always, however, I strongly urge you to be a thoughtful voter when it comes to awards. Don’t vote for Oathbringer just because I wrote it—only do so if you think this book, in specific, deserves the award. And there are some other excellent nominees, so if you enjoyed one of those more, then vote for it!

(7) IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD. P.N. Elrod hopes people can help, especially those who like Elrod’s Patreon and Facebook entertainment.

Crap. Having a blubbing panic meltdown. In a month my rent goes up by 63 bucks. At this point I don’t have even half the rent for September. I’m facing the ugly reality of eviction.

The complex offered to get me into a different apartment with slightly lower rent, but that means moving. (Bureaucracy Stuff.) I can’t afford that, either, and most of all, I do not have the strength or mobility to move again. I just don’t. I am sick. I am tired.

The ONLY thing I can think of at this point to prevent that is to increase subscriptions to my Patreon page. Right now, that income isn’t enough to cover my bills, so some go unpaid until and unless I sell books from my library.

(8) VOX FEATURES JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin guested on the latest episode of Vox’s podcast The Ezra Klein Show. You can access it at “N.K. Jemisin recommends stories from fellow groundbreaking sci-fi authors” — which lists two recommendations from her:

While Jemisin finds it hard to recommend books, she does offer up two recommendations from fellow award-winning female science fiction authors.

1) The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells
Jemisin is “a giant fan” of Martha Wells’s Murderbot series, an “adorable little set of almost old-school science fiction.” The titular Murderbot is a rogue cyborg who works tirelessly to protect humans from themselves, though it would rather be watching soap operas. The latest novella in the series, Exit Strategy, will be released on October 2.

2) Unexpected Stories by Octavia Butler
Groundbreaking science fiction author Octavia Butler died in 2006, but two of her stories were found posthumously and published as an e-book. One of the stories in the volume, “Childfinder,” was commissioned by writer Harlan Ellison to be included in a never-published anthology.

The podcast is available direct from Apple iTunes as well as many other sources.

(9) BALL OBIT. K.C. Ball died of a fatal heart attack on August 26 reports the SFWA Blog: “In Memoriam: K.C. Ball”.

…Ball attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2010 and Launch Pad in 2011.  She served as the publisher and editor of 10Flash Quarterly, an on-line flash fiction magazine.  She also won the Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writer Award….

Cat Rambo’s tribute is here.

And now she’s gone, fallen to another heart attack, and she never really got the chance to “break out” the way many writers do, which is through hard work, and soldiering on through rejection, and most of all playing the long game. If you want to read some of her kick-ass work, here’s the collection I edited, Snapshots from a Black Hole and Other Oddities.

I’m so sorry not to able to hear your voice any more, K.C. I hope your journey continues on, and that it’s as marvelous as you were.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 27 – Frank Kelly Freas, who won many Best Professional Artist Hugos, and drew Mad Magazine covers once upon a time.

[compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 27, 1929 – Ira Levin. Author of many novels including The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby which of course became films.
  • Born August 27 – Paul Reubens, 66. Genre work includes GothamBatman:The Brave and the Bold, Tron: Uprising Star Wars Rebels and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Is Pee-wee’s Playhouse genre?
  • Born August 27 – Alex PenaVega 30. Spy Kids film franchise and apparently a Spy Kids tv series as well, also The Tomorrow People, Sin City: A Dame To Live For and The Clockwork Girl, an animated film where love conquers all differences.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) COLSON WHITEHEAD HONORED. “Writers with ties to Brooklyn named NYS author and poet” – the Brooklyn Eagle has the story.

Two renowned writers with Brooklyn ties have been appointed as the state’s official author and poet by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Colson Whitehead, Brooklyn resident for more than a dozen years, has been named New York’s 12th state author.

Alicia Ostriker, born in Brooklyn, has been named New York’s 11th state poet. Cuomo said the award recognizes their work “and the impact it has had on the people of New York and beyond.”

During their two-year terms the state laureates promote and encourage fiction writing and poetry throughout New York by giving public readings and talks.

(13) GATEKEEPING. I haven’t spent much time covering its peregrinations here, but in Camestros Felapton’s view, “’Comicsgate’ is the crappiest ‘gate’”.

The main focus of the campaign has actually been crowd-funding for comics by a rightwing creator, not all of whom use the term “Comicsgate” (Vox Day, for example, has been a bit more equivocal about the term because he thinks all these people should be joining his petty empire). So we have a ‘campaign’ that is just a collaboration of outrage marketing techniques following the standard Scrappy-Doo model: be as loud and as obnoxious as possible and then when people react, claim to be being persecuted.

(14) RAH IN CONTEXT. Charles Stross has a whole rant about what RAH was actually about, versus what his emulators seem to think he was about: “Dread of Heinleinism”.

…But here’s the thing: as often as not, when you pick up a Heinlein tribute novel by a male boomer author, you’re getting a classic example of the second artist effect.

Heinlein, when he wasn’t cranking out 50K word short tie-in novels for the Boy Scouts of America, was actually trying to write about topics for which he (as a straight white male Californian who grew up from 1907-1930) had no developed vocabulary because such things simply weren’t talked about in Polite Society. Unlike most of his peers, he at least tried to look outside the box he grew up in. (A naturist and member of the Free Love movement in the 1920s, he hung out with Thelemites back when they were beyond the pale, and was considered too politically subversive to be called up for active duty in the US Navy during WW2.) But when he tried to look too far outside his zone of enculturation, Heinlein often got things horribly wrong. Writing before second-wave feminism (never mind third- or fourth-), he ended up producing Podkayne of Mars. Trying to examine the systemic racism of mid-20th century US society without being plugged into the internal dialog of the civil rights movement resulted in the execrable Farnham’s Freehold. But at least he was trying to engage, unlike many of his contemporaries (the cohort of authors fostered by John W. Campbell, SF editor extraordinaire and all-around horrible bigot). And sometimes he nailed his targets: “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” as an attack on colonialism, for example (alas, it has mostly been claimed by the libertarian right), “Starship Troopers” with its slyly embedded messages that racial integration is the future and women are allowed to be starship captains (think how subversive this was in the mid-to-late 1950s when he was writing it).

(15) ROCKET MAN. In the wake of yesterday’s report that 10% of Hugo novel winners are named Robert, and someone else’s observation that being named Robinson helped, too, Soon Lee composed this filk:

So here’s to you Robert Robinson
Hugo loves you more than you will know,
Wo wo wo
Awards you heaps Robert Robinson
Rockets coming out your ears all day
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey

Then Cath could only exorcise the earworm by finishing the verse –

Hide your rockets in the hiding place where no cat ever goes
Put them on your bookcase with your cupcakes
It’s a little secret just the Robinsons’ affair
Most of all you’ve got to hide it from the pups

Sitting in the green room on a Sunday afternoon
Feasting from the finalists’ cheese plate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When Hugo’s got to choose
There’s no way that you can lose

Where have you gone, John Picacio
A Worldcon turns its lonely eyes to you
Wu wu wu
What’s that you say, Robert Robinson?
Diversity shall never go away

(16) SUBTRACTION. Robert/Rob/Bob may be a statistically lucky name for a Hugo nominee, however, the odds won’t soon be improving in the astronaut program. Ars Technica has the info that, “For the first time in 50 years, a NASA astronaut candidate has resigned” — one of a class of 12:

A little more than a year ago, NASA introduced its newest class of 12 astronaut candidates. These talented men and women were chosen from a deep pool of 18,300 applicants, and after two years of training they were to join the space agency’s corps for possible assignment on missions to the International Space Station, lunar orbit, or possibly the surface of the Moon.

However, one of those 12 astronauts, Robb Kulin, will not be among them. On Monday, NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean confirmed to Ars that Kulin had resigned his employment at NASA, effective August 31, “for personal reasons.”

(17) NAUGHTY GOOGLE. Fingerpointing: “Google is irresponsible claims Fortnite’s chief in bug row”. “Bug row” – there’s the Queen’s English for you.

The leader of the firm behind the hit game Fortnite has accused Google of being “irresponsible” in the way it revealed a flaw affecting the Android version of the title.

On Friday, Google made public that hackers could hijack the game’s installation software to load malware.

The installer is needed because Epic Games has bypassed Google’s app store to avoid giving it a cut of sales.

Epic’s chief executive said Google should have delayed sharing the news.

(18) BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE. Beyond the Sky trailer (2018). The movie is coming to theaters this September.

Chris Norton has been hearing about alien abductions his entire life but, in his gut, he knows they are not real. Setting out to disprove the alien abduction phenomenon once and for all, he attends a UFO convention to meet alleged abductees and reveal the truth behind their experiences. It is only when he meets Emily, who claims to have been abducted every seven years on her birthday, that Chris realizes there may be more to these claims than meets the eye. With Emily’s 28th birthday only days away, Chris helps her to uncover the truth as they come face to face with the reality that we are not alone.

CAST: Ryan Carnes, Jordan Hinson, Peter Stormare, Dee Wallace, Martin Sensmeier, Don Stark

 

(19) AN INTERPLANETARY ROMANCE. The restored 1910 Italian silent film Matrimonio interplanetario (“Marriage on the Moon”) is now online. Its antique delights include a very strange space launch facility that looks suspiciously like a samovar or maybe an espresso machine.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén , Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]