Best-selling authors and Splatterpunk Award founders Wrath James White and Brian Keene have announced the nominees for the 2021 Splatterpunk Awards, honoring superior achievement for works published in 2020 in the sub-genres of Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror.
The nominees are recommended by readers, fans and peers. The nominees are as follows.
1. Pandemonium by Ryan Harding and Lucas Mangum (Death’s Head Press) 2. Tome by Ross Jeffery (The Writing Collective) 3. Dust by Chris Miller (Death’s Head Press) 4. Slaughter Box by Carver Pike (Self-Published) 5. Gone To See The River Man by Kristopher Triana (Cemetery Dance Publications) 6. They All Died Screaming by Kristopher Triana (Blood Bound Books) 7. The Magpie Coffin by Wile E. Young (Death’s Head Press)
1. The Slob by Aron Beauregard (Self-Published) * 2. Bella’s Boys by Thomas R. Clark (Stitched Smile Publications) 3. Juniper by Ross Jeffery (The Writing Collective) 4. Red Station by Kenzie Jennings (Death’s Head Press) 5. True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik (Grindhouse Press) 6. The Night Silver River Run Red by Christine Morgan (Death’s Head Press) 7. How Much 2 by Matt Shaw (Self-Published)
BEST SHORT STORY
1. “The Incident at Barrow Farm” by M. Ennenbach (from Cerberus Rising, Self-Published) 2. “Full Moon Shindig” by Patrick C. Harrison III (from Visceral: Collected Flesh, Death’s Head Press) 3. “Phylum” by Tom Over (from The Comfort Zone and Other Safe Spaces, NihilismRevised) 4. “Footsteps” by Janine Pipe (from Diabolica Britannica, Keith Anthony Baird) 5. “Next In Line” by Susan Snyder (from Devour the Earth, Madness Heart Press) 6. “My Body” by Wesley Southard (from Midnight In the Pentagram, Silver Shamrock Publishing) 7. “The God In The Hills” by Jon Steffens (from The God In the Hills, Filthy Loot Press)
1. War of Dictates by John Baltisberger (Death’s Head Press) 2. Cerberus Rising by M. Ennenbach, Chris Miller and Patrick C. Harrison III (Self-Published) ** 3. The Essential Sick Stuff by Ronald Kelly (Silver Shamrock Publishing) 4. Rhapsody In Red by Peter Molnar (Stitched Smile Publications) 5. Visceral: Collected Flesh by Christine Morgan and Patrick C. Harrison III (Death’s Head Press) *** 6. The Comfort Zone and Other Safe Spaces by Tom Over (NihilismRevised) 7. Blood Relations by Kristopher Triana (Grindhouse Press)
1. Chew On This edited by Robert Essig (Blood Bound Books) 2. Brewtality edited by K. Trap Jones (The Evil Cookie Publishing) 3. Welcome To the Splatter Club edited by K. Trap Jones (Blood Bound Books) 4. Worst Laid Plans edited by Samantha Kolesnik (Grindhouse Press) 5. Crash Code edited by Quinn Parker (Blood Bound Books) 6. If I Die Before I Wake Vol. 3: Tales of Deadly Women and Retribution edited by R.E. Sargent and Steven Pajak (Sinister Smile Press) 7. Psi-Wars: Classified Cases of Psychic Phenomena edited by Joshua Viola (Hex Publishers)
* Qualifies due to being significantly revised from its original edition.
** Qualifies as a collection, rather than an anthology.
*** Qualifies as a collection, rather than an anthology.
A panel of judges composed of professionals, critics and scholars in the field will now begin the process of reading each nominated work, and selecting a winner for each category. Winners will be announced at KillerCon, taking place in Austin, Texas this August. If national health concerns prevent a physical convention, then the winners will be announced in an online ceremony instead.
In addition to the winners, author and editor John Skipp will receive the annual J. F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award honoring his significant contributions to the sub-genres of Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror. Previous recipients are David J. Schow, David G. Barnett and Edward Lee.
The administrators added these notes of interest regarding this year’s awards:
While each category normally has five nominees (six if there is a tie), press will note that each category for this year contains seven. That is due to the overwhelming response in recommendations from the public this year. More new readers were engaged with Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror in 2020, leading to an increase in public response. As such, Wrath and Brian decided to extend the nominees to seven for each category, to better serve the community.
Building on a trend we pointed out in 2019, this year saw a continued significant increase in the number of women and authors who identify as female writing Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror. The recommendation process evidenced readers and fans mentioning a number of new female voices.
Splatter Westerns (which combine elements of Splatterpunk or Extreme Horror with the traditional Western genre) were clearly a favorite among readers in 2020, as evidenced both in the nominees and in the recommendations.
(1) ALL THAT JAZZ. Elle M. has a fascinating commentary on the difference between worldbuilding and lore. Thread starts here. A few quotes follow —
They also use the author of Harry Potter as a compelling example of where lore gets injected at the expense of worldbuilding.
(2) TRENDY PLACES. Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup blog is hosting “Building Beyond,” an “ongoing series about accessible worldbuilding. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary — or even purposeful. Anyone can do it. To prove that, let’s talk to both a writer and a non-writer about a worldbuilding prompt.” For “Building Beyond: Robot Dating”, editor Brian J. White and writer Suzanne Walker imagine where they’ve gone on a date with a giant robot.
Gailey’s dry synopsis should make you very curious to read the post:
…Brian’s date is the foundation of a story about a robot who is learning to live in the world, and who just so happens to be inhabiting a city of decadences. Suzanne’s date is the beginning of a world in which robots and humans regularly go out together, and frogs have learned to cater to the complicated ecosystem of needs that arise in such relationships.
Constance Grady: I have a hard time working out exactly how I feel about volume two of this trilogy. Harrow the Ninth is a trickier book than Gideon the Ninth, in the same way that bitchy, conniving Harrow is a trickier protagonist than sweet basic jock Gideon.
First of all, there’s the problem of tone. Gideon mined enormous amounts of tension and humor out of the contrast between its lurid goth world and Gideon’s straightforward “it looks like a sword, I want to fight it” worldview and her dirty jokes. That’s part of what helps puncture the grandiosity of Muir’s worldbuilding and keep everything feeling accessible and human-scale, no matter how complicated the mythology might be.
But Harrowhark worships all the lurid skeletal nonsense around her with a religious intensity, and she considers boning jokes prurient. So the easy laughter of the first volume fades away: The jokes are meaner in Harrow than they were in Gideon, and darker….
(4) MRS. PEEL, WE’RE NEEDED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the January 23 Financial Times, Peter Aspden writes about the 60th anniversary of British TV series The Avengers, which was first broadcast in January 1960.
The plots (of The Avengers), in the meantime, got crazier. In 1967’s ‘Epic,’ from the fifth season, Peel is kidnapped by a Teutonic film director named ZZ von Schnerk, who is filming a movie called The Destruction Of Emma Peel, for which he needs to kill her in real, or reel, life. The self-referntiality was off the scale, now. ‘Gloat all you like, but I am the star of his picture, says captive Peel to the villiainous director, and anyone interested in meta-texts.
Like so many of the fashions of the 1960s, Rigg only lasted a couple of seasons. She left to star in her own Bond Film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which she showed that her range extended further than understated self-mockery (in fairness, she had also already played Cordelia opposite Paul Scofield’s Lear) by providing one of the franchise’s few genuinely heartbreaking endings. Peel’s farewell to Steed was itself a rare poignant moment, a peck on the cheek with a final piece of womanly advice: ‘Always keep your bowler on it times of stress. And watch out for diabolical masterminds.’
(5) SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] Nominations are open for the 2021 Splatterpunk Awards through February 14. Brian Keene and Wrath James White have been experiencing….ummm…difficulties in getting valid nominations. Someone nominated HP Lovecraft who, being dead, is ineligible. Also, he hasn’t published anything new in the last year. Also, also, he hasn’t published anything that is close to being Splatterpunk.
Midnight Pals over on Twitter has the theoretic exchange where Brian and Wrath try to explain how this is supposed to work. (I’m pretty sure that Dean Koontz didn’t nominate HP Lovecraft.)
The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the 2021 Killercon Convention, taking place in Austin, Texas.
In addition to the Splatterpunk Awards, author John Skipp will receive this year’s J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field.
…Try as I might, I have great difficulty thinking of this novel as a science-fiction story. It could be conceived of as a psychological thriller, but no one dies except a mouse. It is deeply psychological and delves as far into the brain as anyone can get right now, accepting Freudian analysis as routine, while it is Jung’s “individuation” that the main character, Charlie Gordon, seeks without a guide except for his reading.
…I recommend this book, no matter its genre, and hope that anyone who reads it finds him- or herself touched by the plight of both those who are “exceptional” on the low end and those “exceptional” on the high end.
What will you see in it?
I see five stars.
(7) TAPPING INTO TED WHITE. Fanac.org posted a second installment of Ted White’s livestreamed interview, conducted by John D. Berry.
Ted White has been a science fiction fan for over 70 years, as well as an artist, fanzine editor and publisher, professional writer, editor and jazz critic. Interviewer John D. Berry has known Ted for more than 50 years.
In part 2 of the January 23, 2021 interview, Ted talks about how he began writing professional science fiction, and the influence of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Carr, Bob Tucker and others. There are anecdotes of the New York Fanoclasts and of how the bid for the 1967 NyCon3 came about.
Ted discusses “The Club House” column in Amazing Stories, responsible for bringing many into fandom in the early 1970s, and speaks of his many fanzine collaborations, along with challenges along the way. This Zoom interview was very well received by all the attendees, who clamored for more. Look for the next part of the interview.
…Pitched as humorous, adult-orientated animated series in the Star Trek universe, the series creator is Mike McMahan, a lead writer from Rick and Morty. However, the show’s humour is both less crude and less imaginative than that show, indeed overall it pitches itself at ‘amusing’ rather than ‘funny’. The obvious comparison is with The Orville, rather than Galaxy Quest or John Scalzi’s Redshirts….
Issue #5 features writing from games critic Emma Kostopolus, on the space opera game Mass Effect 3 (2012), and writer and educator Malik Toms, on John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet (1984), as well as a piece from me about the collection Scotland in Space (2019).
(10) MEMORY LANE.
2000 — Twenty one years ago at Chicon 2000, Galaxy Quest, a DreamWorks film, would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It would edge out The Matrix (which lost by just three votes), The Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich and The Iron Giant. It was directed by Dean Parisot. Screenwriters David Howard and Robert Gordon worked off the story by David Howard. It’s considered by many Trekkies to the best Trek film ever made.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 28, 1820 – Vilhelm Pedersen. First illustrator of Hans Christian Andersen; a hundred twenty-five in the five-volume 1849 edition. Indispensable like Tenniel’s for Lewis Carroll. Here is “The Top and Ball”. Here is “The Flying Trunk”. Here is “Hyldemor”. Here is “Thumbelina”. (Died 1859) [JH]
Born January 28, 1834 – Sabine Baring-Gould. Anglican priest, author of fiction, folklorist. Grandfather of the Holmes scholar. Wrote “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (music by Sir Arthur Sullivan). This edition including Curious Myths of the Middle Ages and Were-wolves appeared recently. (Died 1924) [JH]
Born January 28, 1929 — Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born January 28, 1931 – Komatsu Sakyô. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Leading Japanese SF author. Most famous for Japan Sinks. Two shorter stories in this collection. Author Guest of Honor at Nippon2007 the 65th Worldcon – of which, incidentally, you can see my report here (PDF). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 28, 1957 – Joanne Findon, Ph.D., age 64. Assistant Professor of English at Trent Univ. (Peterborough, Ontario). Two novels for us. “I blame my two lifelong passions – writing fiction and studying the past – on … Lloyd Alexander.” More here. [JH]
Born January 28, 1959 — Frank Darabont, 62. Early on, he was mostly a screenwriter for horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Blob and The Fly II, allminor horror films. As a director, he’s much better known as he’s done, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist. He also developed and executive-produced the first season of The Walking Dead. He also wrote Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that I like a lot. (CE)
Born January 28, 1981 — Elijah Wood, 40. His first genre role is as Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman In Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed. He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb’s superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. (CE)
Born January 28, 1985 — Tom Hopper, 36. His principal genre role was on the BBC Merlin series as Sir Percival. He also shows up in Doctor Who playing Jeff during the “The Eleventh Hour” episode which would be during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. He’s also Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy which is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. (CE)
Born January 28, 1986 – Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, age 35. This historic champion track & field athlete has recently written half a dozen children’s fantasies with Elen Caldecott, may the name be for a good omen. Here’s the latest I know of. [JH]
Born January 28, 1998 — Ariel Winter, 23. Voice actress whose shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!, DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
At xkcd Randall Munroe has a couple more installments on his living in a scaled world series:
The poll will be open from January 11 to February 8, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!
A snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of the poll!
(14) CON CALLS ON FANS FOR HELP. “Otakon Discusses Future, Asks for Donations” reports the Anime News Network. Their 2021 event is scheduled to be held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. from August 6 to 8. Last year’s Otakon was cancelled.
Otakorp president Brooke Zerrlaut announced in a newsletter on Thursday that the organization is requesting donations for the first time. The Otakon convention’s staff are continuing to evaluate plans for 2021 and noted that the event may “potentially close” permanently.
The newsletter explained that Otakorp, a volunteer-run non-profit organization, runs the annual Otakon convention dedicated to Asian culture. Because of the cancelation of Otakon 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is in a “precarious position.”
The makers of the new Vimeo documentary, The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner, have trained their lens on an elusive horror and fantasy writer with a cult following. Besides the stories of supernatural and psychological terror collected in In a Lonely Place (1983) and Why Not You and I? (1987), Wagner spun tales about Kane, a hero sometimes compared to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, who wanders and fights his way through a fantasy realm peopled with brigands, thieves, sorcerers, monks, and shapeshifters. This body of work exceeds the better-known Conan mythos in its sexuality and violence, tropes that Wagner used with uneven results.
Wagner was also a longtime editor of the Year’s Best Horror Stories series, showcasing the work of Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Brian Lumley, Elizabeth Hand, David J. Schow, T.E.D. Klein, Charles L. Grant, Dennis Etchison, and dozens of others in the field. A few of these scribes appear in The Last Wolf, with especially vivid remembrances coming from Campbell and Etchison. Peter Straub, who wrote a foreword to In a Lonely Place, also has a lot to say.
…The sources interviewed in The Last Wolf render a portrait of an ambitious youth who collected paperbacks, became well known to the staff of a used bookshop in Knoxville through constant visits, and liked to freak out his nephews with spooky tales as they lay in their beds by an open window. While still in high school, Wagner meets a charming young woman, Barbara Mott, on a double date. He later marries her. His career enters high gear in the 1970s as he churns out stories, but not novels, and he stays busy writing and editing through the 1980s and 1990s, almost right up to his death.
“The Fourth Seal” is about a scientist looking to cure cancer. Wagner became the victim of something comparable its destructiveness. The Last Wolf doesn’t skirt around the plunge into alcoholism that drew growing concern on the part of Wagner’s peers in the weird field and led to the end of his marriage. Some of the recollections are hard to take.
Our Author of the Month for February is the American Science Fiction writer Octavia E. Butler.
In her many sometimes interlocking works Butler asks questions about race, gender and, pre-eminently, hierarchy in startling ways, and to offer equally startling versions of possible futures, often dystopian, that are uncannily like the present. This is extraordinary writing, written against the grain of gender and race prejudice and against the grain of Butler’s own persistent writer’s block.
Start with her masterpiece Kindred. We’re next to certain you won’t stop there.
(17) A GLIMPSE OF SF HISTORY. Samuel R. Delany reminisced about Judith Merril in a Facebook post.
Judith Merrill [sic] (Boston, 21 Jan 1923—Toronto, 12 Sept 1997), was—for the last years of her life, one of my best friends in the science fiction world, and thus, like all of her friends, to me she was “Judy” and I—to her—was “Chip.” We could never quite agree about where we met. During the time I was sharing a room with my friend, Bob Aarenberg, at the St. Marks Arms, on West 113th St., in NYC, and in our upstairs neighbor Randy Garrett took me to a party in Greenwich Village, where I met her and talked with her quite a while. But a few years later, she had no memory of that meeting. But as a kid I’d read her collaborations with C. M. [K]ornbluth (the Gunner Cade books), and thoroughly enjoyed them; I’d read a handful full of her stories—”Only a Mother,” which I felt was okay, but also “Dead Center” which I felt was much stronger (and still do after several rereadings of both and others)—but the writings of hers that meant most to me was her critical work….
…The Simultaneous Times Newsletter started when the pandemic lockdowns started. Usually I’m at my bookstore six days a week, and since we specialize in science fiction, most of my conversations center around the genre. Immediately I began to miss the conversations and my customers, so I started the newsletter as a way to stay connected with science fiction fans. Since then it has just grown. But we still give free subscriptions. I thought people would prefer to get a letter in the mail over receiving an email.
What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, e-mail newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?
Several members of my team, including myself, have a background in radio. When we all started talking about starting a podcast we decided that we wanted to produce the program the way that radio shows were produced in the past. Really take the radio arts approach instead of going with modern trends in podcasting. Since then we’ve even teamed up with the radio station KZZH 96.7 in Northern California, so our program did end up on the air.
The Newsletter is print because I wanted to put something physical in people’s hands, especially during this time of not being able to see each other. That being said, I have started to put the back issues on our website, so the archive is available to everyone
(20) IT’S PEOPLE! Shiv Ramdas comments on a trending topic. Thread starts here.
(21) THE SINS OF STARSHIP TROOPERS. [Item by Dann.] The guys at Cinema Sins have “Everything Wrong With Starship Troopers in 19 Minutes or Less”. (Parenthetically, I’m not looking for the 5,681st iteration of “The book is better than the movie” or the 12,259th iteration of “Verhoeven never read the book!”. I like ’em both for different reasons. And the Cinema Sins guys are great.)
…In recent years, Amazon’s e-books market has nurtured a flourishing cottage industry of self-published romance and erotic literature –and the Trump years have inspired many to put pen to paper. The most successful authors (most write under pseudonyms) are known for their prolific publication, thesaurus-aided descriptions of the human anatomy, and responsiveness to current events.
The surreality of the past four years was particularly generative of their creative juices. With the Trump era now drawn to a chaotic close, we decided to review four of the most memorable entries in this niche literary genre.
I’m strangely drawn to the title “My Antifa Lover”, although slightly disappointed that Conroy opted to review Chuck Tingle’s Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Physical Manifestation Of Tromp’s [sic] Twitter Ban That Should’ve Come Years Sooner But Fine Now That It’s Here High Five rather than the frankly superior Domald Tromp [sic] Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Russian T-Rex Who Also Peed On His Butt And Then Blackmailed Him With The Videos Of His Butt Getting Peed On. No, I have no idea how the internet got us here either, really.
I feel compelled to note that the reviewer gave Tingle’s work 5/5.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the 1780s, a charismatic healer caused a stir in Paris. An amusing video about the history of Mesmer’s methods and how he influenced medicine in the late 18th Century. Vox recalls The phony health craze that inspired hypnotism”.
Scientific progress in the 18th century in Europe, a period known as the “Age of Enlightenment,” was demystifying the universe with breakthroughs in chemistry, physics, and philosophy. But medical practices were still relying on centuries-old treatments, like leeching and bloodletting, which were painful and often ineffective. So when Franz Anton Mesmer, a charismatic physician from Vienna, began “healing” people in Paris using an alternative therapeutic practice he called “animal magnetism,” it got a lot of attention. Mesmer claimed that an invisible magnetic fluid was the life force that connected all things and that he had the power to regulate it to restore health in his patients. He was a celebrity figure until the King of France, Louis XVI, commissioned a group of leading scientists to investigate his methods in 1784. Benjamin Franklin headed the commission, and they debunked the existence of the magnetic fluid in the first-known blind experiment. Mesmer was ruined, but “mesmerism” didn’t end there. The report also acknowledged that Mesmer’s methods were making his patients feel better, which they attributed to the power of the human imagination. This experiment ultimately laid the groundwork for our understanding of the placebo effect and inspired an evolution of Mesmer’s practice into something more recognizable today: hypnotism.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, Joey Eschrich, Rob Thornton, Michael J. Walsh, PhilRM, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer, who has ridden the fourth horse once before.]
When ChiZine Publications announced six new titles for Fall/Winter 2020 on September 21, the attention drawn to their website led to the discovery CZP is still promoting itself with testimonials by authors who repudiated them a year ago.
Here’s a screencap from the site’s About CZP page quoting Gabino Iglesias:
The Horror Show with Brian Keene is ending with next week’s episode the host announced today in “Curtain Call”. He’s still going to do some video interviews with authors on YouTube, but the podcast is ending.
..I’ll focus ONLY on giving them a platform, rather than a format where they have to share the spotlight with whatever terrible fucking thing happened in the industry that week…
Keene feels that doing a podcast with the premise of The Horror Show – delivering news of the field – requires spending time on some painful disclosures.
If you’re going to do a show that — at least in part — focuses on fairly presenting news that impacts the horror genre and industry — then you’re going to have to give oxygen to some of that poisonous stuff. And when you give oxygen to the poisonous stuff, it slowly takes your own oxygen away.
Here lately, I’m having trouble breathing.
(And yes, it occurs to me that “I can’t breathe” has very particular connotations in our society right now, so let me take this as an opportunity to reiterate that Black Lives Fucking Matter, and if you disagree with me, that’s okay. Stop buying my books).
At times in 2020 Keene was required to report about people he knew well, like Borderlands Books owner Alan Beatts, and author Matt Hayward. And in June a single episode of his podcast covered allegations against 10 different individuals in the comic book, horror, science fiction, book fields involving everything from sexual coercion to sexual assault.
Keene says he continues to enjoy “giving a platform to other voices and shining a spotlight on the genre’s history. …Those things don’t take away my oxygen.” So he will be transferring the interviews planned for The Horror Show with Gabino Iglesias, Stephen Graham Jones, Cina Pelayo, Tim Waggoner, Wesley Southard, and Somer Canon, to his YouTube channel.
(1) MARVEL’S VOICES EXPANDS. This November, Marvel celebrates Indigenous history with a landmark special, Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1, written and drawn by some of the industry’s most renowned Indigenous talent along with talents making their Marvel Comics debut.
Celebrated writer and artist Jeffrey Veregge, who just wrapped up his exhibition Jeffrey Veregge: Of Gods and Heroes at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, is leading this book alongside a team of acclaimed creators to explore the legacy and experiences of Marvel’s incredible cast of Indigenous characters.
Hugo, Nebula, and Locus-award winning Black/Ohkay Owingeh writer Rebecca Roanhorse and Tongva artist Weshoyot Alvitre tell an Echotale like none before as she is set to play a critical role in Marvel Comics. Geoscientist and Lipan Apache writer Darcie Little Badger joins acclaimed Whitefish Lake First Nation artist Kyle Charles for a Dani Moonstarstory where she will face the crucial question of what her Indigenous heritage means in the new era of mutantkind. And Bram Stoker-winning horror writer Stephen Graham Jones of the Blackfeet Nation teams up with Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation artist David Cutler to revisit one of the darkest spots of X-Men history!
(2) BRIAN KEENE SPOTLIGHTS HAYWARD ALLEGATIONS. Soon after Brian Keene posted “Behind Closed Doors” supplementing his podcast’s report of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct within the industry, he and Mary SanGiovanni were alerted to yet another situation involving allegations that author Matt Hayward sent inappropriate communications to several women.
…We believe the women. We believe writer and book reviewer Cassie ‘Lets Get Galactic’, who has stepped forward. And we believe those who have not stepped forward.
We have known Matt for several years. He and his wife Anna have been guests in our home. Anna’s publishing company, Poltergeist Press, has published books by both of us. We consider them dear friends.
Approximately one year ago, Matt sent a series of inappropriate messages to Mary. Matt has acknowledged this and apologized for it. Mary accepted the apology because Matt was inebriated when the messages were sent, and he was going through a rough time emotionally, having just experienced the death of his best friend. Brian followed Mary’s lead, and in the time since, Mary has received no further inappropriate messages from Matt. Cassie’s account tells a similar story, as do the accounts of those women who have not shared their experience publicly. There is a pattern of behavior.
Again, we believe the women. And we apologize for the hurt that someone we are close to has caused you….
Since that time, several of us have spoke with Anna Mulbach, wife of Matt Hayward. She wishes to continue publishing Russian language translations. The financial stability of that line impacts the livelihood of many Russian citizens, including translators and investors. The success the line has had so far is a testimony to Anna. I wish to encourage that. Further, the fact that this successful foreign-language publisher is run and operated by a woman is something else I wish to encourage, because it’s something our industry desperately needs more of.
Anna has assured me that Matt will not be involved in any aspect of the Russian-language operation, including production or design.
With all that in mind, I have decided to continue working with Anna for Russian-language translations….
…After that was announced. Rights for Dissonant Harmonies were reverted, and Bev Vincent and I sold it elsewhere. Geoff Cooper wanted some time to consider the reversion clause for Shades, since he is not plugged in to the business and wanted to talk to people and determine the facts before signing it. Then Anna Hayward of Poltergeist press announced that she was shutting down the company.
A few weeks later, Anna contacted several of us and indicated that she would like to keep the Russian language imprint open. It was her company — not Matt’s. She assured us that Matt would not be involved in any way with the production.
And so Jeff Strand, myself, and Mary SanGiovanni released a third statement last month, which can be read here.
This will be my final statement, because quite frankly, I am sick of talking about this.
This statement is my own. I do not speak for Mary SanGiovanni (whose own final statement can be read here). I do not speak for Robert Ford, Bev Vincent, Jeff Strand, Wrath James White, Edward Lee, John Boden, Wesley Southard, Tim Meyer, Ronald Kelly or anyone else who has been impacted by this clusterfuck.
This statement will include foul language. It will include my personal opinions.
My personal opinions follow:
1. I support the victims. I have always supported the victims. Anyone who has listened to The Horror Show for the last 6 years knows that I support the victims. Anybody who has been following my career since 1996 knows that I support the victims. I was the first person to report on the then-whispered allegations involving Ed Kramer. I had my then budding-career threatened for doing so. I gave zero fucks then and I give zero fucks now. I will always support the victims. I myself am a victim, and several of the people most important in my life have been victims.
If you do not believe that I support the victims, then I respect your decision. Stop buying my books and listening to my podcasts.
2. I support and believe the victims in this case. I have seen people intimating online that the most vocal victim, Cassie, “made this all up” and others saying that she and the other victims “just want their 15 minutes of fame”. I don’t believe that. But I’ll tell you what, motherfuckers…lets buy into your conspiracy theory for a minute. Let’s say Cassie made it all up for 15 minutes of fame.
Mary SanGiovanni didn’t make it up. I know. I’ve seen the evidence. And Mary’s got an accomplished 20-year career. She doesn’t need fifteen minutes of fame. I believe Mary SanGiovanni. I believe Cassie. And I believe the other women who came forward.
If my belief in these women bothers you, then I respect your decision. Stop buying my books and listening to my podcasts.
(And to the fat fuck who looks like a dropout from Juggalo college and keeps repeating this “15 minutes of fame” bullshit, I’m not going to name you here, because you don’t deserve even a second of fame)….
Halloween is inevitably going to look a bit different this year with a number of highly-anticipated events canceled already, including Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, and Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure.
But fear not, the spooky holiday traditions will still be upheld in Costa Mesa thanks to this drive-through haunted house experience. Urban Legends of Southern California will conjure up all SoCal’s most terrifying urban legends, cursed souls and monsters that have haunted residents for generations. Whether it’s the mysterious winds that howl through the streets or the unnatural presences that make your hairs stand up, familiar stories will be brought to life through a series thrills.
Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you’ll arrive in your vehicle at your allocated timeslot. From there, you’ll be guided through a journey of immersive scenes, dazzling special effects, and live performances. It’s bound to get your pulse racing as you scramble to lock your car door. You won’t have to worry about monsters getting to close though, they’ll be wearing masks and social-distancing at all times…
…See, for example, discussions about where to place The Fifth Season and Gideon the Ninth. Both works have elements generally associated with science fiction, as well as elements traditionally associated with fantasy. Hard classification will fail because the assumption that things are only one thing at a time is wrong. Utterly wrong.
[sarcasm] I am certain that having explained this so clearly, there will never be another argument on such matters. [/sarcasm]
(5) DYSTOPIAN LIFE IMITATES DYSTOPIAN ART. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In 2019, UK high school student Jessica Johnson won the Orwell Youth Prize for writing a short story depicting computer systems that undermine lower-income students by adjusting grades downwards. This spring, in response to COVID-shortened school years, the government of the UK implemented a computer system that “projected” students’ grades forward based on assumptions on how they were doing — and it adjusted the grades of low-income students downwards. Jessica Johnson was one of the students adversely affected by the computer error. “Student who wrote story about biased algorithm has results downgraded” in The Guardian.
She says: “I based [the story] on the educational inequality I already saw. I just exaggerated that inequality and added the algorithm. But I really didn’t think it would come true as quick as it did!”
DAVID GREENE, HOST: George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” turns 75 this week. The book is now considered a classic, but NPR’s Petra Mayer reminds us that it almost wasn’t published at all.
…MAYER: Orwell biographer D.J. Taylor says the 6-year-old nephew of one of Orwell’s friends read it…
D J TAYLOR: …And reported back via his uncle that he loved it because it didn’t contain any difficult words.
MAYER: But “Animal Farm” is a dark, upsetting book. The pigs take over, and bit by bit, they grow more cruel and murderous, masking each new outrage in revolutionary rhetoric. By the end, drinking liquor, snapping whips and gambling with the neighborhood farmers, they’re indistinguishable from the humans they originally overthrew.
Broadly, “Animal Farm” is a fable about tyranny, but specifically, it’s a satire on the Soviet revolution and how it led to Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror. So why tell such a painful story in such a childish manner? D.J. Taylor says that Orwell was influenced by “Gulliver’s Travels” and French fables. But also, at the time he was writing “Animal Farm,” he and his first wife, Eileen, were adopting a child. So not only did he have kids on his mind…
TAYLOR: The era in which he wrote for the 10 years previous, cinema screens had been full of cartoon animals. You know, it was the great age of the Disney cartoon.
MAYER: It was, in fact, turned into a cartoon a few years after he died, but it almost wasn’t a book at all. Orwell was shopping “Animal Farm” to publishers in 1944 when the Allied victory in World War II was far from assured. Again, D.J. Taylor.
TAYLOR: So this is effectively a satire of Stalin, who was then – even America regarded as avuncular Uncle Joe, you know, our great ally in the fight against Nazism.
MAYER: No one wanted to take a potshot at Uncle Joe. It took more than a year and multiple publishers, but “Animal Farm” finally came out in the U.K. in 1945, and it was a massive hit. Its success enabled Orwell to write his masterwork, “1984.” When people use the adjective Orwellian today, they’re almost invariably talking about “1984.”
Brad Listi: That’s interesting. It’s interesting to think of it that way. I feel like when we go to read something, we’re trying to feel something, or hoping to at least. And if somebody can scare the shit out of you, that’s a feeling.
Stephen Graham Jones: It is. Horror can change your behavior. It can make you turn off the lights in your house in a different sequence at eleven o’clock at night. It can make you edge along the wall to get to your bed instead of just walking brazenly across the middle of your bedroom floor. I love that horror puts you on a string like that. It turns into a puppet, a puppet not necessarily of the the writer, but a puppet of your own terror and your own dread. I think that’s beautiful.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 19, 2007 — Highlander: The Source premiered. The final film of the story that spanned both the film and television series, it saw the return of Adrian Paul reprising his character of Duncan MacLeod from Highlander: The Series and the fourth film, Highlander: Endgame. He also produced along with Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer while Brett Leonard directed. The screenplay was Mark Bradley and Steven Kelvin Watkins from the story by the former. Reception was universally negative if not downright hostile with it being the first film in the series not to get a widescreen distribution. SciFi Channel instead aired it. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a richly deserved 19% rating. (CE)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 19, 1894 – H.W. Wesso. After covers for Amazing, painted every Astounding cover under W. Clayton (Jan 30 – Mar 33; H. Bates ed.), then more, also Astonishing, Marvel, Strange Tales, Thrilling, five dozen in all; eight hundred interiors. Here is the Jan 30 Amazing. Here is the Jan 38 Astounding. Here is an interior from a 1930s Astounding; I haven’t found the date more exactly, can you? Here is an interior from the Jan 41 Thrilling. Again I recommend Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds. (Died 1948) [JH]
Born August 19, 1921 — Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed, his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born August 19, 1930 — D.G. Compton, 90. SWFA Author Emeritus whose The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award. The Unsleeping Eye, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe in the U.K., was filmed as Death Watch which the Audience Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes actually like giving it a 60% rating. His two Alec Jordan near-future police stories are superb. Nearly everything he wrote of a genre nature is available from the usual digital suspects save Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, the Sandpaper Sides of Used Matchboxes, and Something That Might Have Been Castor Oil. (CE)
Born August 19, 1938 — Richard N. Farmer. Author of Islandia Revisited, a sequel to Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia. No idea it was if authorized but I’m betting it wasn’t as it’s not in print in either print or digital editions currently. (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born August 19, 1938 –Diana Muldaur, 81. Student of Stella Adler. First woman President of the Acad. Television Arts & Sciences. Two Star Trek appearances (original series), later Katherine Pulaski, M.D., in The Next Generation. Voiced another physician in animated Batman (1992-1994). One appearance in The Hulk (1979). Don’t blame CE for omitting her, these things are hard. [JH]
Born August 18, 1945 – Roseanne di Fate. Teacher, mostly of nursery school, another hard thing; last position at Vassar, my grandmother’s college. Andrew Porter did a biography of R & Vincent in Algol 21 (Tim Kirk artwork! Bester interview of Heinlein! Benford on knowledge! Brunner on the art & craft of SF! Lupoff book reviews!). OGH’s appreciation here. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born August 19, 1947 – Dwain Kaiser. Active fan in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Used-book shop owner; had several, all called Magic Door; at his death he was operating his fourth, in Pomona (L.A area). Founded a Las Vegas SF Society, thus repaying Arnie Katz, one of whose fanzines (with Lenny Bailes) let DK know there was such a thing as fandom. Published many zines and took part in apas. OGH’s appreciation here; you will want to know more, but this is the best I can do for now. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born August 19, 1950 — Jill St. John, 70. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. (CE)
Born August 19, 1952 — Jonathan Frakes, 68. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in Next Gen though I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series which had at least five Trek actors doing voice work. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at cons as Captain America. He has directed more than 70 television episodes, including episodes of five Trek series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Librarians and The Orville. (CE)
Born August 19, 1961 – Randy Smith, 59. Wrote up the Hugo Awards Ceremony for the ConJosé Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon). Long helpful in the San Francisco area, currently a director of SFSFC (San Francisco SF Cons, the non-profit that hosted the 51st, 60th, 76th Worldcons; Westercon 53, 64, 66; and like that) and now tired but not exhausted having chaired its liaison committee for the 78th Worldcon we just virtually had. Relations with John Blaker a model of ecumenism (which, should they read this, they will blushingly try to disclaim). [JH]
Born August 19, 1988 – Veronica Roth, 32. Six novels, a dozen shorter stories. Divergent a NY Times Best Seller; it and first sequel sold five million copies before film version of Divergent released. Her gaze upon the world, says John Clute, is cuttingly sharp; she is said to be reading the Bible; “cuttingly sharp” could be said of Isaiah, though he did not give us dystopias; beyond that is beyond my pay grade. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Ziggy shows that wile you can fool some of the people all of the time, you can’t fool the bird.
(11) FOLLOW THE MONEY. In “The Big Idea: Thomas Levenson” at Whatever, the author of Money for Nothing tells about the famous figure who unexpectedly had to learn the hard way that what goes up must come down.
…Then it happened again. Deep into that story, I came across this: a stray mention that [Isaac] Newton had lost £20,000–roughly four million dollars in 21st century money–in a financial scam that happened exactly three centuries ago this year, an event called the South Sea Bubble. Afterwards, he told his niece that he could “calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of the people.”
That’s where Money for Nothing got its start: wondering why the smartest man of his day, someone who could surely do the math to expose the flaw in the South Sea scheme, got it so badly and expensively wrong. The book that’s finally here has traveled from that starting point to a much bigger and (I hope) more fascinating narrative: how the wild ferment in ideas and ambitions in Britain in the late seventeenth century that we now call the scientific revolution created a culture of number and measurement that mattered in the daily life of those who lived through it. From there, and how, as the Bubble played out, that disaster produced something very new: the modern financial capitalism that still plays out in all our lives, with all its wealth and woe….
(12) GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE.
Back in the Seventies there was a San Diego fan who had his van painted as the Enterprise’s shuttlecraft. The guy went by the name of “James T. Kirk” which I guarantee you doesn’t make it any easier for me to search for a photo.
…The Oort cloud is the most distant region in the solar system, residing much farther than the outer planets and the Kuiper Belt. Unlike the Kuiper Belt, which is shaped like a donut, the Oort cloud is a massive and thick spherical shell that envelopes the entire solar system. The inner Oort cloud starts at around 1,000 AU from the Sun (in which 1 AU is the average distance from Earth to the Sun), while its outer edge stops at around 100,000 AU.
This region of space is filled with billions, possibly trillions, of rocky and icy objects left over from the formation of the solar system. According to the new paper, the overabundance of material presumed to exist in the outer Oort cloud is the result of our Sun’s early stint as a binary system.
To date, computers trying to simulate the formation of the solar system have failed to reproduce the proportion of objects seen in the outer realms of the Oort cloud and the scattered disc—a specific population of trans-Neptunian objects outside of the Kuiper Belt. As a result, the origin of the outer Oort cloud is “an unsolved mystery,” according to the paper, authored by astronomers Avi Loeb and Amir Siraj from the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian.
The new paper presents an elegant solution to the overpopulation problem: a second sun.
“A stellar companion to the Sun would increase the chance of trapping objects from the birth cluster of the Sun,” wrote Loeb in an email. “The Sun and its companion act as a fishing net that traps objects gravitationally as they pass near one of the two stars and lose energy by kicking it slightly.”
Besides the typical holidays that call for extravagant food spreads and homemade meals, there are tons of national food days that should be on your radar. They don’t all require a celebration but if you’re ever looking for an excuse to have a themed dinner or to drink a certain liquor by the truck load—you should keep some of these days in mind.
A pair of these fall on April 2 — National Burrito Day, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day – which shouldn’t inconvenience exotic burrito connoisseur John Scalzi.
(15) CORDWAINER BIRD OF A DIFFERENT FEATHER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Burke’s Law S01E06 Who Killed Alex Debbs?” on YouTube is a 1963 episode of Burke’s Law written by Harlan Ellison. Ellison fans recall that he used the name “Cordwainer Bird” for work he disowned. Well, this episode is about the murder of Alex Debbs, founder of Debonair, a magazine vaguely like Playboy. The joke editor of the magazine is….Cordwainer Bird, and Bird is played by Sammy Davis Jr.! Bird’s appearance begins after the 16-minute mark. Burgess Meredith also appears as a very nearsighted cartoonist.
The image of a penguin might bring to mind an endless march across windswept ice. The reality of penguins is a bit different, says Grant Ballard of Point Blue Conservation Science.
GRANT BALLARD: There’s actually only two species of penguin that really love ice.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Only two species. Many others live in warmer waters.
BALLARD: So an emperor penguin could conceivably be dealing with something like minus 70 degrees or even colder than that, especially with wind chill. But a Galapagos penguin is encountering temperatures that are around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
KELLY: So how did penguins evolve with such different lifestyles? A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has some answers.
RAURIE BOWIE: We’ve been able to resolve several long-standing questions about penguin evolution, in particular where penguins originated.
FADEL: Rauri Bowie of UC Berkeley is an author on that study. He says there’s been a long debate about where the first penguins evolved. Was it Antarctica or farther north in New Zealand, as others have suggested?
KELLY: Well, armed with genetic evidence from 18 species of modern-day penguins, his team has an answer.
BOWIE: Which turned out to be along the coast of Australia and New Zealand and nearby islands of the South Pacific.
KELLY: They say that happened around 22 million years ago.
FADEL: From there, the penguins surfed on a circular current at the bottom of the world.
…KELLY: If there is one thing the paper makes clear, it’s that the evolution of penguins is far from black and white.
(17) WASHED UP ON THE SHORES OF THE INTERNET. During my search for neglected Scroll titles today I rediscovered this gem by Will R. from 2015.
Just scroll right down and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this vile hive, aboard this tiny ship.
The Esk were mighty pixeled fen, the Blogger brave and sure, the Filers ticked the box that day, for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.
Discussion started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the filking of the fearless crew the comments would be lost. The comments would be lost.
The ship’s now lodged for good inside this Highly trafficked file, with Gilligan, the Blogger too, The reverend and the SMOFs, the wombat red, the dissenters and the grinning fan, here in Gilligan’s File.
(Ending verse) So this is the tale of our castaways, they’ll be here for a long, long time. They’ll have to make the best of things, it’s an uphill climb.
The first Esk and the Blogger too will do their very best, to make the others comfortable With their sordid rhetoric.
No threads, no lights, no time travel, not a single luxury. They’ll have to see what they can grow, like NASA’s Mark Watney.
So join us here each day my friends, you’re sure to get a smile, from countless dumbstruck Trufen brave… here in Gilligan’s File!
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Colbert tells Late Show viewers, “You Owe Kevin Costner An Apology For ‘The Postman.’” The parting shot is a corker.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Brian Keene, James Davis Nicoll, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Danny Sichel, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]
Best-selling authors and Splatterpunk Awards founders Wrath James White and Brian Keene announced the winners of the 2020 Splatterpunk Awards on August 8 during the virtual KillerCon. The awards honor superior achievement for works published in 2019 in the sub-genres of Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror. An image of the award trophy, which might be a little strong for young viewers, is here.
Lakehouse Infernal by Christine Morgan (Deadite Press)
One For the Road by Wesley Southard (Deadite Press)
BEST SHORT STORY
“Angelbait” by Ryan Harding (from The Big Book of Blasphemy, Necro Publications)
Dirty Rotten Hippies and Other Stories by Bryan Smith (Grindhouse Press)
And Hell Followed, edited by Jarod Barbee and Patrick C. Harrison III (Death’s Head Press)
J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award
Edward Lee, author and editor
Honoring his significant contributions to the sub-genres of Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror. Previous recipients are David J. Schow and David G. Barnett.
HBO is celebrating Comic-Con@Home with a first look at Season 2 of His Dark Materials. During today’s virtual panel for the show, HBO unveiled the trailer for the upcoming season of the drama, which introduces some fresh faces.
The YouTube description adds –
His Dark Materials stars Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, the first season follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets Will, a determined and courageous boy. Together, they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living?—?and the dead?—?in their hands.
(3) COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE? A second trailer for Bill & Ted Face the Music. Available On Demand and in theaters September 1.
(4) SCARES THAT CARE. Brian Keene and friends have done a few 24-hour telethons to raise funds for Scares That Care. The most recent event was canceled due to Covid.
They are opting to do a virtual fundraiser on August 1st. It’s only 13 hours, but it looks like it will be packed with lots of interesting panels. See the FAQ and schedule at the Scares That Care Virtual Charity Event link. Say, they get the same kind of questions as the Worldcon!
Q: I’m a celebrity who works in the horror genre. Why wasn’t I included in programming? A: We tried to accommodate as many horror professionals as we could, but unlike our physical Scares That Care Weekend charity events, we are limited by the technological restrictions and time constraints of this virtual event. However, you can still help the cause by sharing the event with your fans and encouraging them to donate.
If you want to sell books during a pandemic, it turns out that one of the best places to do it is within easy reach of eggs, milk and diapers.
When the coronavirus forced the United States into lockdown this spring, stores like Walmart and Target, which were labeled essential, remained open. So when anxious consumers were stocking up on beans and pasta, they were also grabbing workbooks, paperbacks and novels — and the book sales at those stores shot up.
“They sell groceries, they sell toilet paper, they sell everything people need during this time, and they’re open,” said Suzanne Herz, the publisher of Vintage/Anchor. “If you’re in there and you’re doing your big shop and you walk down the aisle and go, ‘Oh, we’re bored, and we need a book or a puzzle,’ there it is.”
Big-box stores do not generally break out how much they sell of particular products, but people across the publishing industry say that sales increased at these stores significantly, with perhaps the greatest bump at Target. In some cases there, according to publishing executives, book sales tripled or quadrupled.
Dennis Abboud is the chief executive of ReaderLink, a book distributor that serves more than 80,000 retail stores, including big-box and pharmacy chains. He said that in the first week of April, his company’s sales were 34 percent higher than the same period the year before.
“With the shelter in place, people were looking for things to do,” he said. “Workbooks, activity books and just general reading material saw a big increase.”
…And then the other reason we’re never sure how much we should talk about it is because rolling this information out in numbers can sort of feel like it’s…IDK. Attempting to lay on a guilt trip, or something, which is honestly not the goal! Because, like…there are always reasons people aren’t gonna buy a book! It’s not their genre! They don’t have any spare money right now! They already have a copy! There’s a million reasons! So talking about this is never meant to make people feel badly for not buying a book right now! Okay? Okay! 🙂
So let’s talk about numbers. Newsletter numbers, specifically, because the people who have chosen to be on my newsletter are my captive audience, and presumably are the most likely to buy any given book. (Join my newsletter! :))
Right now I have about 1630 newsletter subscribers, and in any given month, about 100 people—7% of the subscribers—buy the book I’m promoting that month. That’s pretty reliable.
(7) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Even God Has a Place Called Home” by Ray Mwihaki, a story about environmental health, witchcraft, technophilia, and transcendence.
On Monday, July 27 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, they wll host another virtual event on Zoom, with Ray and science fiction author Christopher Rowe.
(8) CLARKE AWARD LOWDOWN. On Five Books, Cal Flyn interviews Arthur C. Clarke Award director Tom Hunter about this year’s nominees for the prize: “The Best Science Fiction of 2020”.
…In terms of who the audiences are for these books, on the one hand, if you like science fiction, you’ll find much to enjoy here but if you haven’t really tried the genre before, or if you might have been put off, I’d stress that these are all books published in 2019, for a 2020 prize, so they’re very contemporary-feeling in terms of their characterisation, quality of prose, plotting and so forth. You can definitely trace their lineage through the different eras of science fiction as it has evolved as a genre, and all of these books interrogate and tease and play with that tradition in different ways, but are also respectful of it. That’s the difference between, say—insert name of mainstream author—who has discovered a science fiction concept and written a book about it, then does a press tour where they try and convince you they’ve somehow invented robots, or space travel or parallel universes, or whatever. You know: ‘Before me science fiction was just cowboys in space, but my book is about real futures…’
… In his rendering of the 2001 story, Clarke may be marginally more emollient than Kubrick when it comes to assessing humanity’s chances of genuine uplift at the hands of a transcendent superbeing, but compared with contemporary in-house American SF visions of the future, both novel and film are baths of cold water.
Both were tortuously understood by many genre viewers as optimistic paeans to technological progress, with a bit of hoo-ha at the end; and Clarke himself never directly contradicted Kubrick’s dramatic rendering of his own exceedingly measured presentation of his clear message—also articulated in Childhood’s End, and hinted at strongly in Rendezvous with Rama—that as a species we may simply not quite measure up.
But this calm magisterial verdict, couched smilingly, mattered little to his own career, even when understood correctly. The huge success of 2001 had both made him rich and transformed him into a world gure; an addressable, venerated guru whose declarations on the shape-of-things-to-come were now given to the world at large. The best of this nonfiction work was collected years later as Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (1999), a huge volume whose title perfectly sums up the coign of vantage from which he wrote: which is to say, as though from the future itself, from somewhere on the far side of the slingshot ending….
(10) MORE UK FANHISTORY ONLINE. Rob Hansen has expanded THEN’s 1961 coverage of the SF Club of London. And “I’ve also added a link to a report by George Locke on the 1960 Minicon in Kettering. I didn’t think any report beyond a couple of sentences in Skyrack existed for that con so I was quite surprised to stumble across it.” Scroll down to 1960s section for links on the THEN index.
At the dawn of “The Muppet Show” in the late 1970s, a visit to the Muppet Labs consisted of watching its nebbishy proprietor, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, demonstrate misbegotten inventions like an exploding hat or a self-destructing necktie with a brief burst of pyrotechnics, a canned explosion sound and a puff of smoke.
Today, a return visit to those labs on the Disney+ series “Muppets Now” features Honeydew and his agitated assistant, Beaker, using a homemade device called the Infern-O-Matic to reduce everyday items — a carton of eggs, a wall clock, a guitar — to smoldering piles of ashes.
If this scene from “Muppets Now” feels manic and combustible — and even a bit familiar — that is by design: as Leigh Slaughter, vice president of the Muppets Studio, explained recently, she and her colleagues are hopeful that this series will conjure up “that true Muppet anarchy — that complete chaos.”
She added: “If they’re going to take on real-world science, we thought, we have to burn things. We have to drop things. We have to blow things up.”
“Muppets Now,” a six-episode series that debuts on July 31, is both Disney’s attempt to bring those familiar, fuzzy faces to its streaming service and a parody of internet content. Its segments feature characters like Miss Piggy and the Swedish Chef in rapid-fire comedy sketches that lampoon popular online formats.
The new series also strives to reconnect the Muppets with the disorderly sensibility they embodied in the era of “The Muppet Show” and get back to basics after other recent efforts to reboot the characters fizzled out.
“The thinking is to stop trying so hard to be like everybody else and just be the Muppets,” said Bill Barretta, a veteran Muppet performer and an executive producer of “Muppets Now.” “Let’s celebrate the fact that they all have to deal with each other and just be silly and play and entertain again.”
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 23, 1995 — The Outer Limits aired “I, Robot”. This is a remake of the November 14th, 1964 episode that aired during the second season of the original Twilight Zone. This is not based on Asimov’s “ I, Robot” but rather on a short story by Eando Binder that ran in the January 1939 issue of Amazing Stories. The script was by Alison Lea Bingeman who also wrote episodes of Robocop, Flash Gordon, Forever Knight, Beyond Reality and The Lost World at that time. Adam Nimoy was the director and Leonard Nimoy, his father, was in it as he been the earlier production playing a different character. (CE)
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 23, 1889 – Yuri Annenkov. Illustrator, portraitist, theater and cinema designer. Zamyatin said he “has a keen awareness of the extraordinary rush and dynamism of our epoch.” Here is a Synthetic landscape. Here is the photographer M.A. Sherling. Here is Zamyatin. Here is a frog costume. Here is Miydodir, an animated washstand that eventually makes the boy at left wash. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born July 23, 1910 — Ruthie Tompson, 110. An animator and artist. Her first job was the ink and paints, uncredited, on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was involved in every animated from film Disney for three decades, stating with Pinocchio (Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form). Some she was an animator on, some she was admin on. She worked on Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, too. (CE)
Born July 23, 1914 – Virgil Finlay. Pioneering illustrator. Hugo for that in the first year we gave them; five Retrospective Hugos. First sale, the Dec 1935 Weird Tales; probably 2,600 works of graphic art; fifty poems, mostly published after his death. Here is a cover for The Stars Are Ours. Here is the Dec 56 Galaxy. Some of his marvelous monochrome: The Crystal Man; “Flight to Forever”; I haven’t identified this, can you? SF Hall of Fame. First Fandom Hall of Fame. See the Donald Grant and the Gerry de la Ree collections. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born July 23, 1926 — Eunice Sudak, 94. Novelizer of three early Sixties Roger Corman films: Tales of Terror, The Raven and X, the latter based of The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. She wrote a lot of other novelizations but they weren’t even genre adjacent.(CE)
Found Fandom July 23, 1937 – Cyril M. Kornbluth. Wikipedia says July 2 is his birthday — 1940 Who’s Who in Fandomsays July 23 is the date he discovered fandom. I certainly read and liked The Space Merchants and The Syndic which are the two I remember reading these years on. Given his very early death, he wrote an impressive amount of fiction, particularly short fiction which Wildside Press has all of n a single publication, available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1958.) (CE)
Born July 23, 1947 – Gardner Dozois. Three novels, five dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian. Two Nebulas. Editor of Asimov’s 1984-2004; two dozen Asimov’s anthologies, many with Sheila Williams. Four years editing Best SF Stories of the Year, thirty-five of The Year’s Best SF (no, I shan’t explain, and I shan’t tell the jelly-bean story, either). Four dozen more anthologies; one Nebula Showcase. Fifteen Hugos as Best Pro Editor; one as Best Pro Editor, Short Form. Skylark Award. SF Hall of Fame. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born July 23, 1948 – Lew Wolkoff, 72. Long-time laborer in fanhistory and the workings of our conventions. Some highlights: co-chaired ArtKane IV, an art-focussed con in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1979; assembled Phoxphyre, a fanzine anthology of the 1936 Philadelphia convention, with reminiscences by Baltadonis, Goudket, Kyle, Madle, Newton, Pohl, Train, 1983; Program Book appreciation of Barbi Johnson, a Guest of Honor at Lunacon 26, 1983; helped design the base for the 1951 Retro-Hugo trophy, 2001; chaired PSFS (Philadelphia SF Soc.) Young Writers’ Contest, 2018; got 120 audiotapes of Philcon proceedings to the SF Oral History Ass’n; founded, or purported to found, the SF Union of Unpublished Authors (“ess-eff-double-U-ay”, i.e. taking off SFWA the SF Writers of America). [JH]
Born July 23, 1949 – Eric Ladd, 71. Twenty covers for us. Here is The Falling Torch. Here is Convergent Series. First suggested to Bob Eggleton that BE should exhibit in our Art Shows. [JH]
Born July 23, 1954 – Astrid Bear, 66. One of the great entries in our Masquerade costume competitions was The Bat and the Bitten, Karen Anderson and her daughter Astrid at the 27th Worldcon. In 1983 Astrid married Greg Bear; they have two children. Here is AB at the 76th Worldcon on a panel discussing the 26th (L to R, Astrid, Tom Whitmore, Mary Morman, Ginjer Buchanan, Suzanne Tompkins, Gay Haldeman). For the 71st, since Jay Lake whom she and all of us loved had contrived to obtain whole-genome sequencing, and AB had become a fiber artist, she made Jay Lake Genome Scarves in time to give him one, as you can see here. Fanzine, Gallimaufry. It’s not true that this book is about her. [JH]
Born July 23, 1970 — Charisma Carpenter, 50. She’s best remembered as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. She was also Kyra on Charmed and Kendall Casablancason Veronica Mars. She was Sydney Hart in Mail Order Monster and Beth Sullivan in the direct to video Josh Kirby… Time Warrior! Franchise. (CE)
Born July 23, 1982 — Tom Mison, 38. He is best-known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which crosses-over into Bones. Currently he’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to that he Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. (CE)
(14) COMICS SECTION.
Fresh from his Hugo voter reading, Dann writes, “In light of Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night, I thought this xkcd might be useful. Check out the mouse-over/alt text.”
(15) WORLDCON TIME OUT OF JOINT. Bill Higgins started out teasing David Levine about CoNZealand’s July 16 “Wild Cards” panel, then his imagination ran away with him:
For years, Luigi’s kindhearted nature and well-meaning oafishness have endeared him to millions of fans who were willing to look past his lengthy history of incompetence. But it seems like the iconic Nintendo character might have just passed the point of no return: The big guy in green apparently left his space heater plugged in for three days straight, and now the entire Paper Mario kingdom has burned to the ground….
(17) STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. CBS All-Access dropped a clip today.
Get an exclusive look at a hilarious scene from the upcoming series premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks, an all-new animated comedy featuring the voices of stars Jack Quaid (Ensign Brad Boimler) and Tawny Newsome (Ensign Beckett Mariner).
A heavy-lift Long March-5 roared off a launch pad on Hainan Island Thursday, carrying China’s hopes for its first successful Mars mission – an ambitious project to send an orbiter, lander and rover to the red planet in one shot.
If everything goes according to plan, Tianwen-1 will be China’s first successful mission to Mars, after a previous attempt failed in 2011 — gaining it membership in an elite club including only the U.S. and Russia, of nations who have successfully landed on the planet. (Even so, the Soviet Union’s Mars 3 lander, which touched down in 1971, transmitted for mere seconds before contact was lost.)
…The goals of the mission are to map surface geology, examine soil characteristics and water distribution, measure the Martian ionosphere and climate and study the planet’s magnetic and gravitational fields.
China has launched its first rover mission to Mars.
The six-wheeled robot, encapsulated in a protective probe, was lifted off Earth by a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island at 12:40 local time (04:40 GMT).
It should arrive in orbit around the Red Planet in February.
Called Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven”, the rover won’t actually try to land on the surface for a further two to three months.
This wait-and-see strategy was used successfully by the American Viking landers in the 1970s. It will allow engineers to assess the atmospheric conditions on Mars before attempting what will be a hazardous descent.
…The targeted touchdown location for the Chinese mission will be a flat plain within the Utopia impact basin just north of Mars’ equator. The rover will study the region’s geology – at, and just below, the surface.
Tianwen-1 looks a lot like Nasa’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers from the 2000s. It weighs some 240kg and is powered by fold-out solar panels.
A tall mast carries cameras to take pictures and aid navigation; five additional instruments will help assess the mineralogy of local rocks and look for any water-ice.
This surface investigation is really only half the mission, however, because the cruise ship that is shepherding the rover to Mars will also study the planet from orbit, using a suite of seven remote-sensing instruments.
The UK and US have accused Russia of launching a weapon-like projectile from a satellite in space.
In a statement, the head of the UK’s space directorate said: “We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon.”
The statement said actions like this “threaten the peaceful use of space”.
The US has previously raised concerns about this Russian satellite.
In his statement, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, head of the UK’s space directorate, said: “Actions like this threaten the peaceful use of space and risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends.
“We call on Russia to avoid any further such testing. We also urge Russia to continue to work constructively with the UK and other partners to encourage responsible behaviour in space.”
A popular mobile game has been taken offline in mainland China for “rectification work”, after netizens discovered its musical director had written a song containing Morse code with a hidden Hong Kong pro-democracy message.
According to China’s Global Times newspaper, the Cytus II musical rhythm game, produced by Taiwan’s Rayark Games, has been removed from China’s mainland app stores.
This was done after netizens discovered a controversial song by Hong Kong musical director ICE, real name Wilson Lam, on his Soundcloud account.
The piece, Telegraph 1344 7609 2575, was actually posted on his page in March, but after netizens discovered it contained in Morse code the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”, many in the mainland called for him to be sacked.
(22) RIGHT OUT FROM UNDER YOU. Floors that can scare you – a gallery of wild images at Imgur.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games’ Honest Game Trailers: SpongeBob Square Pants–Rehydrated on YouTube says that “children and extremely inebriated adults” will enjoy this new version of a classic SpongeBob SquarePants game featuring “Rube Goldberg machines that require a Ph.D. in SpongeBob to complete.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Dann, Joey Eschrich, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
Deeply disturbing charges from two women about being abused by Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands Books, were aired by The Horror Show With Brian Keene on July 2.
Content warning for physical and sexual assault, and incest.
The charges were initially shared by Sarah Read on June 20, when she tweeted a screencap of the account posted by Beatts’ ex-girlfriend on Facebook. (The source post either is not public, or has since been removed.)
“Alan Beatts is the owner of Borderlands Books in San Francisco and my ex-boyfriend. He grabbed me by the hair and threatened to kill me with a knife to my throat. He tried his damndest to rape DoveStep Beatts. I know there are others he assaulted and abused. It feels weird to ask for people not to support an indie bookstore right now, but please don’t support Borderlands Books,”
Keene also spoke to Alan Beatts in an off-the-record conversation – disclosing that Beatts is someone he had a 20-year professional and personal relationship with, that he is not only “intricately tied to,” but is the subject of an entire chapter in Keene’s recently-published memoir End of the Road.
Keene said on the podcast: “This is the one that broke me, folks. …All I can say is I’m sorry to everyone involved. …I will not be doing any more signings at Borderlands Books.”
Author Christopher Golden tweeted a link to Keene’s podcast with the comment that these allegations are “stomach-turning” and that “I love the store but as long as he’s connected to it, I couldn’t support them.”
And the store’s Events calendar indicates several virtual items which had been scheduled for this week have been called off, with only the explanation — “Due to unforseen circumstances, this event has been cancelled.” This includes virtual appearances by Katherine Addison, Jo Walton, Mike Chen, Kelly McWilliams, Kate Elliott, and Mary Robinette Kowal.
(1) PUBLISHER CUTS TIES WITH MYKE COLE. Angry Robot, which published their first Myke Cole book, Sixteenth Watch, in March, says they won’t be bringing out any more.
Cole previously had a trilogy published by Tor, and another series by Ace.
Cole also has been dropped by his agent.
Vault Comics canceled Hundred Wolves, where Myke Cole was the writer. The series was set to begin in September.
Cole apologized for his behavior, and reiterated an apology from 2018 — and then said he was “exiting…the public square…for the foreseeable future.”
(2) THE ROOM WHERE IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN. Foz Meadows suggests ways to understand and navigate the sff social scene. Thread is compiled at Threadreader.
Foz kicks off with this tweet –
— but spends more time on issues like these:
(3) THE PROMISE OF ANGER IS AN ILLUSION. Alexandra Erin also discusses ethical ideas that may be helpful in deciding how to handle social situations: “More In Sorrow Than In Anger”. Tagline: “On what we choose to do when all our sins are remembered.”
This is not the piece I had planned on writing this week. While I cannot ignore national politics or world events, the professional community of which I am a part – that of the science fiction and fantasy literary profession – has been imbroiled with a wave of revelations of misconduct by some of the big fish in our small ponds of convention circuits, mentor programs, and what passes for royalty and nobility in our petty fiefdoms.
… At some points in our lives, all of us will find ourselves in a situation where the next thing we do will either make others very sad or very angry.
Sometimes this will be entirely outside your control. Sometimes you are placed in a situation through no fault of your own where nothing you do will make others happy, and in fact anything you do will likely leave them unhappy.
This is not about those times.
This is about the times when you do something, or are party to something, or fail to prevent something that is hurtful and harmful to others. Maybe you didn’t see it that way. Maybe you didn’t intend to do anything wrong.
But it’s true nonetheless that you’ve caused damage and now the question is what to do about it. What to say about it. Where to go next.
(4) WORD PICTURE. Catherynne M. Valente offered a way of looking at recent developments.
Since June 15, 2020, when artist/writer Cameron Stewart was widely accused of abusing his clout to prey on aspiring teenage comic book creators, the industry has continued to be rocked by allegations of other prominent figures sexually harassing, assaulting, or coercing their colleagues. Other creators have also begun to speak out about general sexism in the industry.
This list of recent allegations will continue to be updated….
(6) KEENE’S COMMENTS. In last night’s episode of The Horror Show With Brian Keene, he said the show’s team was aware of 10 cases of allegations involving everything from sexual coercion to sexual assault that have been made “against ten different individuals in the comic book, horror, science fiction, book-selling, convention organizer, and cosplay sectors of our industry — all of which had publicly come to light in the last 7 days.”
When Keene followed up the podcast today with a public Patreon post, “Behind Closed Doors”, he said the number is up to 17.
…When we started out, we were lifted up by those who came before us. Now, we spend a good part of each day lifting up those who are following our trail. But while we may be able to speak with some authority on the quality of that person’s writing or art or directorial abilities, and while we may speak to them via email or phone or social media — at the end of the day, we don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors.
…Ignorance is not an excuse. But I do believe that we as creators, in the process of lifting up others and celebrating others, must always remember that we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And if those doors are opened and we see what goes on, and it is harmful to individuals or to our greater community, then we have a duty to speak out about it and our association with that person going forward, as I did with Chandler.
I believe we can separate the art from the artist. I also believe we can separate the artist from their associations. I believe that once their associations come to light, we should take a moment — just a moment — and look at it with some nuance. If the artist was associated with something like Stormfront, and was secretly posting hate-screeds, okay, yeah, fuck that person right in the ear. But there’s a big difference between that and Tweeting, “Hey, check out this other author’s book.”
We as creators have a responsibility when it comes to our platforms and our reach. If we’ve lifted up an artist who is later alleged to have done something harmful to individuals in our community, or to the community itself, I think it is our absolute duty to speak on that candidly and honestly and urgently. And that can be difficult. I think the most heartbreaking thing about Kelly Sue DeConnick’s two videos regarding the Warren Ellis allegations is not what she says — but what she doesn’t say. The hurt and bewilderment that is there in her expression. The pain left unvoiced. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to speak out like that, but she was right to do so. To not address it, after years of Ellis lifting her up to his audience and she (in all fairness) lifting him up to her audience, would have been a disservice to the larger community.
Due to allegations made against one of our members, on Wednesday evening, June 24, 2020, the Board of Directors of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) voted to suspend the membership of the accused member, pending the outcome of our investigation. Mystery Writers of America takes the safety of our members at industry events, whether sponsored by MWA or not, very seriously and will continue to work towards a goal of making every event safe for everyone who attends. We are currently working with our legal advisors on developing a more comprehensive code of conduct, which will be completed and made public shortly.
Eight of 10 board members and the executive director have resigned from International Thriller Writers, a professional association which has faced widespread criticism for its responses to the Black Lives Matters protests and an author’s allegations she was harassed during a writers conference.
Criticism of the ITW emerged last week when novelist Laurie Chandlar announced on Twitter that she had stepped down from her position as Debut Author Chair.
“I and another female author brought serious concerns to the ITW board regarding a male author’s behavior at an industry event. They were summarily and callously dismissed,” Chandlar wrote. “For years I’ve heard of women being harassed, groped, and cornered at industry events. And even with serious complaints involving a police report, it seems some leaders have preferred over the years to just sweep it all under the rug.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 26, 1905 – Lynd Ward. His striking Gods’ Man, a novel in woodcuts, has no words; an artist sells his soul for a magic paintbrush, which seemed a good idea, but ha ha; there’s a Dover edition; the title alludes to Plautus’ Bacchides Act IV sc. 2, “Whom the gods favor, dies young”. LW did a fine illustrated edition of Frankenstein; won the Caldecott Medal; with wife May McNeer, other notable work, e.g. Prince Bantam about Yoshitsune and Benkei who although historical people are also the stuff of legend. Here is another LW image. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born June 26, 1910 – Elsie Wollheim. One of the original Futurians. Wife and then widow of Donald A. Wollheim, co-founded DAW Books with him and succeeded him at his death. Guest of Honor at WisCon 5, Lunacon 26, DeepSouthCon 33, L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon (some use Roman numerals, some don’t) chaired by Our Gracious Host. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born June 26, 1929 – Milton Glaser, 91. Graphic designer. Made the logograph for DC Comics; also I [heart] NY which, since I’ve lived there, I invite you to consider as possible fantasy, but I loved it, anyway. Two dozen covers for us. Here is A Canticle for Leibowitz. Here is The Man Who Called Himself Poe. Here is a Bob Dylan poster. [JH]
Born June 26, 1929 – Wally Weber, 91. Of Seattle and Huntsville. Co-edited Cry of the Nameless when it won the Hugo for Best Fanzine; chaired the 19th Worldcon; TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate. [JH]
Born June 26, 1936 – Nancy Willard, Ph.D. Wrote Things Invisible to See, four more; four shorter stories; poetry; two or three score other things of which we might claim many; Pish, Posh, said Hieronymous Bosch and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice illustrated by the Dillons; Newbery Medal for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born June 26, 1987 – Zoraida Córdova, 33. Eight novels, of which one is Star Wars and so is a shorter story (in From a Certain Point of View). Having been reared in Queens she naturally writes about Brooklyn Brujas. Co-hosts a podcast Deadline City. [JH]
(10) MUPPETS NOW. The forthcoming Disney+ Muppets show starts July 31.
So the Grateful Dead are launching a deodorant brand, which is not particularly on-brand. It’s true – when you think of the Dead, you don’t right away think fresh scent. But the line is handmade, small-batch and vegan. The fragrances have names like skull and roses and sunshine, overtones of lavender and rose and blood orange and bergamot, respectively. All this meaning your armpits can now glow with the gold of sunshine.
You could help the Curiosity rover navigate Mars by flipping through photos of the red planet’s rocky landscape and labeling what you see.
NASA is asking volunteers to help sort through and label thousands of photographs taken by the rover. The labels, gathered through the AI4MARS program, will help the rover pick a path to reach its next scientific target. The labels will contribute to a machine learning project to help the rover’s path planners pick smooth routes, after years of sharp terrain wore down the rover’s treads, Elizabeth Howell reports for Space.
… Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in 2012. In theory, choosing clear, smooth paths could help extend Curiosity’s useful time on Mars. But by 2017, there was damage on the rover’s zigzagged treads, threatening their ability to carry its four-ton mass. That’s after only driving about 14 miles throughout its mission so far. According to a statement, it can take four to five hours for a team of rover planners to figure out where Curiosity should drive and how it should get there.
The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Netflix over its upcoming film Enola Holmes,arguing that the movie’s depiction of public domain character Sherlock Holmes having emotions and respecting women violates Doyle’s copyright.
Enola Holmes is based on a series of novels by Nancy Springer starring a newly created teenage sister of the famous detective. They feature many elements from Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and most of these elements aren’t covered by copyright, thanks to a series of courtrulings in the early 2010s. Details from 10 stories, however, are still owned by Doyle’s estate. The estate argues that Springer’s books — and by extension Netflix’s adaptation — draw key elements from those stories. It’s suing not only Netflix, but Springer, her publisher Penguin Random House, and the film’s production company for unspecified financial damages.
We’re interested in works of genre fiction (adult and YA crossover only) whose themes include race, gender, and building an equitable society; illness, pandemics, and the post-apocalypse; superheroes and supervillains outside of comics and graphic novels; and witchy dark fantasy. Pitches on other SFF trends are welcome, as is information on series openers/finales. New titles only, please; no reprints. Pub dates: Sept. 2020–Feb. 2021.
… The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday announced that its classic ride Splash Mountain would be “completely reimagined,” amid scrutiny over the ride’s roots in the racist 1946 film “Song of the South.”
The ride will be redesigned to draw from the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” the first Disney animated movie to feature a Black princess. According to Disney, the redesign has been in the works for over a year, though no concrete timeline for its construction and relaunch has been announced. The new ride’s storyline will pick up after Princess Tiana and Louis’ final kiss in the film, and feature music from the movie as the pair prepare for a Mardi Gras performance….
As the industry grapples with how to reopen for production safely, one movie is proceeding with a lead actress who is immune to COVID-19 — because she’s a robot named Erica.
Bondit Capital Media, which financed titles such as To the Bone and the Oscar nominated Loving Vincent, Belgium-based Happy Moon Productions and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media have committed to back b, a $70 million science fiction film which producers say will be the first to rely on an artificially intelligent actor.
Based on a story by visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze, who also produces through Life Entertainment, b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed (Erica) escape.
Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, who created Erica in real life as part of their study of robotics, also taught her to act, applying the principles of method acting to artificial intelligence, according to Khoze….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Howard The Duck Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains why Howard The Duck made no sense.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Dan B., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]
(1) PRESSING IN. Cat Rambo’s video “Why Small Press Books Don’t Almost Always Suck” challenges negativity about small presses with examples from her own career.
Cat talks about some of the small press books she’s appeared in or worked with, and what she likes about them
So far as I can tell she doesn’t identify any particular person as holding this opinion. But it might be more than a coincidence that a few weeks back Nick Mamatas wrote a column for LitReactor titled “Why Are Small Presses Almost Always So Awful?”
(2) IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. [Item by Dann.] Regarding Archive.org, Brian Keene has gone through the process of figuring out how to get his works removed from the National Emergency Library. To make it easier for other authors, he supplied the process in The Horror Show with Brian Keene – episode 259.
The subject line should read “National Emergency Library Removal Request”
Authors need to include the URL(s) from within the National Emergency Library so they will know which work(s) they need to remove.
It’s kind of crappy to force authors to jump through hoops to prevent copyright infringement, but I guess it’s better to have hoops available than to just ignore the infringement and drive on as if nothing is wrong.
…You’ve read quite a number of short stories over the years as an editor. For writers looking to improve their understanding of how short stories work, how would you suggest critically reading stories with an eye to improvement and understanding? Are there particular elements critical readers should look for?
This is a great question. Years ago I heard of an author who retyped a famous story to figure out what the author was doing. I don’t think the writer has to go that far, but critical reading is essential. Pick a favorite story that wowed you and read it a few times. Take notes. Look for the foreshadowing. Look for the metaphors and the similes. Pay attention to the arc. Pay attention to every clue. A professional author rarely wastes a word in a work of short fiction. It takes practice to pick up on most of the details the first time through a tale, but it’s a lot easier to see these details once you know what’s coming.
(4) NOT A DESIRABLE CHAPTER. Publishers Weekly reports on the troubles of a major book printer: “LSC Files Chapter 11”
LSC Communications announced this morning that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The filing has been expected for several months as the country’s largest book printer—and one of its largest printers overall—has struggled under the weight of its failed merger with Quad Graphics and the outbreak of the new coronavirus. LSC’s subsidiaries in Mexico and Canada are not included in the filing, and will continue to operate normally.
LSC said it has received commitments for $100 million in debtor-in-possession financing from certain of its revolving lenders, subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions. If approved by the bankruptcy court, LSC said, the new financing, combined with cash on hand and generated through its ongoing operations, “is expected to be sufficient to support the company’s operational and restructuring needs.”
Since LSC’s deal with Quad was called off last summer following objections from the Justice Department, the company has worked to streamline its business, a process that has included closing eight facilities and signing new contracts, noted Thomas Quinlan III, LSC chairman, president, and CEO. Quinlan added that a review of its operations determined that the best way forward was to pursue a restructuring of its financial structure.
Publishers were dealt an unhappy surprise last week when Quad unexpectedly closed its book printing facilities, sending publishers scrambling to find a replacement. Quad did not respond to requests for comment from PW on whether it had plans to re-open the book plants.
The closure comes at a time when the loss of printing capacity is one of the many concerns publishers are facing because of the new coronavirus outbreak. Overall, most printers are printing, although on different schedules as they adjust to state policies, staffing, and types of books.
Quad put its book printing business up for sale last fall following the collapse of its proposed merger with the country’s largest book printer, LSC Communications, after the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit. Quad has yet to respond to requests for comment from PW on whether it has found a buyer, but to date, none has been announced.
LSC, meanwhile, is continuing to operate, though it is dealing with its own financial challenges.
(5) WORLD FANTASY AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN. The World Fantasy Convention chairs still plan to hold their con in Salt Lake City from October 29-November 1.
WFC 2020 is still six months away. Every day brings new developments and, we sincerely hope, progress toward controlling and conquering the virus. We have every hope that the current crisis will be over long before 29 October. Besides our own continuing discussions and plans, we’re monitoring the efforts of other conferences and similar gatherings, and will adapt all measures that make sense to keep our membership safe. We know this is a difficult time, and everyone’s plans are in a state of flux. Be assured we have no plans to raise membership rates during this worldwide emergency.
Members of the 2018, 2019, or 2020 World Fantasy Conventions may nominate books, stories, and individuals for the 2020 World Fantasy Award between how and May 31. Voting instructions here.
(6) THE LOOK OF DUNE. Vanity Fair posted on Instagram the first photos of Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s production of Dune.
(7) FERRELL OBIT. Former OMNI editor Henry Keith Ferrell (1953-2020) died of an apparent heart attack while fixing his roof, before the storm currently sweeping up the East Coast. He is survived by his wife, Martha, and son, Alec, who made the announcement on Ferrell’s website.
…Graduating from Raleigh’s Sanderson High in 1971, he attended the Residential College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he met Martha Sparrow — a woman of equal beauty and intellect — at a Halloween party in the basement of Guilford dormitory. His face covered in wax, she overheard him mentioning the name “Lawrence Talbot” and she got the reference, having no idea what Keith looked like. On their first date, they ditched a French play to go see King Kong instead. They fell in love, moved off campus, and started their lives together. They were married on July 20, 1974, and would remain together for almost 47 years.
…Now a family man, Keith set out on his career in publishing, first at Walnut Circle Press as a print salesman, then as editor of trade magazine The Professional Upholsterer, onward to feature writer of COMPUTE! Magazine, where he was at the forefront of reporting on the burgeoning home computing industry throughout its emergence as a household staple. All the while, he raised his son and loved his wife, planted many gardens, and wrote and wrote and wrote.
From 1983 through 1987, Keith published four critically-acclaimed biographies of legendary writers for young adults through M. Evans and Company: H.G. Wells: First Citizen of the Future; Ernest Hemingway: The Search for Courage; George Orwell: The Political Pen; and John Steinbeck: The Voice of the Land. These were the first of many printed works to bear his name in the byline.
In 1990, COMPUTE! was acquired by General Media out of New York City, and Keith was recruited and ultimately served as Editor-in-Chief of OMNI Magazine, the preeminent science and technology publication of the day — a career-defining accomplishment. During his tenure at OMNI, Keith worked with (and edited) many of the heroes of his youth and forged friendships across the fields of anthropology, gaming, evolutionary studies, telecommunications, and writers of all stripes. Keith stewarded OMNI as a vehicle for the vanguard of cutting-edge technology and futurism until its final issue…
He wrote until his dying day, which turned out to be April 11, 2020, at 2:32pm. His heart gave out after fixing a hole in his roof, but finished the job before doing so….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 13, 2012 — Lockout premiered. Also known as MS One: Maximum Security, It directed by James Mather and Stephen Saint Leger, and written by Mather, Saint Leger, and Luc Besson. It was both Mather’s and Saint Leger’s feature directorial debuts. The film stars Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, and Peter Stormare. It did poorly at the box and critics were not fond of it either; it holds a 46% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. So why write up here? Because John Carpenter successfully sued the film’s makers in the French courts for the film having plagiarized both Escape from New York and Escape from L.A.., a verdict held upon appeal.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 13, 1923 — Mari Blanchard. Remembered best as B-movie femme fatale, she did a number of genre films including Abbott and Costello Go to Mars where she was Queen Allura, She Devil where she had the lead role of Kyra Zelas and Twice-Told Tales, a Vincent Price horror film where she had a not major role as Sylvia Ward. (Died 1970.)
Born April 13, 1931 — Beverley Cross. English screenwriter responsible for an amazing trio of films, to wit namely Jason And The Argonauts, Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger and Clash Of The Titans. He also wrote the screenplay for The Long Ships which is at genre adjacent. (Died 1998.)
Born April 13, 1949 — Teddy Harvia, 71. Winner of the Hugo for Fan Artist an amazing four times starting in 1991 at Chicon IV, then in 1995 at Intersection, next in 2001 at the Millennium Philcon and last at in 2002 at ConJosé. He was honored with the Rebel Award by the Southern Fandom Confederation in 1997 at that year’s DeepSouthCon
Born April 13, 1951 — Peter Davison, 69. The Fifth Doctor and one that I came to be very fond of unlike the one that followed him. And he put a lot of gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish.
Born April 13, 1954 — Michael Cassutt, 66. Producer, screenwriter, and author. His TV resume includes notable work for the animated Dungeons & Dragons, Max Headroom, The Outer Limits, Beauty and The Beast, SeaQuest, Farscape and The Twilight Zone. He’s also written a number of genre works including the Heaven’s Shadow series that was co-written with David S. Goyer.
Born April 13, 1959 — Brian Thomsen. He was an American science fiction editor, author and anthologist. Founding editor of the Questar Science Fiction line for which he was a Nolacon II Hugo finalist in the Best Professional Editor category. I’ve read and will recommend The American Fantasy Tradition which he did, and likewise Masters of Fantasy which was co-edited with Bill Fawcett. I see he helped Julius Schwartz put together his autobiography, Man of Two Worlds. (Died 2008.)
Born April 13, 1950 — Ron Perlman, 70. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Hellboy: Blood and Iron and the Redcap short). Still by far the best Hellboy. He’s got a long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates as Zeno was followed quickly by the role of Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and Angel De La Guardia in the Mexican horror film Cronos. Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff notes to that correctly. No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. (Having not rewatched for fear of the Suck Fairy having come down hard on it.) At the time, I thought it was the the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him even still more amazing.
Born April 13, 1960 — Michel Faber, 60. Dutch born author of three genre novels, Under the Skin, The Book of Strange New Things and D: A Tale of Two Worlds. He was a finalist for the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Book of Strange New Things.
(11) THERE’S NOTHING HALFWAY ABOUT THE IOWA WAY. Shaenon K. Garrity tweeted, “The Iowa Digital Library has a collection of sci-fi fanzines from the 1930s and 1940s, and my entertainment needs through the rest of the pandemic are taken care of.” Thread starts here.
…This year, however, I’m largely happy with the Best Related Work finalists. Joanna Russ by Gwyneth Jones, The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, by Farah Mendlesohn are exactly the sort of finalists I want to see in this category. All three were also on my longlist, two of them were on my ballot.
Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood by J. Michael Straczynski was not on my ballot, but is a highly deserving finalist, since autobiographies of people of genre relevance have always been a part of Best Related Work – see also the recent nominations for Carrie Fisher’s and Zoe Quinn’s respective autobiographies….
(13) LOOKING FOR A JOB IN WASHINGTON. If Lou Antonelli doesn’t get voted in as SFWA director-at-large, he’s got a fallback position. Lou has declared himself a Libertarian candidate for Congress in Texas’ 4th District. Ballotpedia shows he’s up against a Republican incumbent.
Brianna Wu is running for Congress as a Democrat in a Boston-area district once again. It would be an interesting coincidence if they were both on the floor of the House to start the 2021 term.
A village in Indonesia has reportedly taken to using volunteers dressed as ghosts to try to scare people into social distancing over the coronavirus.
Kepuh village, on Java Island, started deploying the patrols at night last month.
In Indonesian folklore, ghostly figures known as “pocong” are said to represent the trapped souls of the dead.
Indonesia so far has about 4,500 cases and 400 confirmed virus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
But there are fears, according to experts, that the true scale of the infection across the country is much worse.
According to Reuters news agency staff who travelled to see the pocong in action, the unusual tactic initially had the opposite effect to that intended – with people coming out to try to spot the volunteers.
But locals say matters have improved since the team began deploying unexpectedly.
“Since the pocong appeared, parents and children have not left their homes,” resident Karno Supadmo told Reuters. “And people will not gather or stay on the streets after evening prayers.”
Pubs, like other public venues, look set to stay shut for the foreseeable future. But what’s going to happen to the contents of their cellars?
Fifty million pints – give or take.
That’s the amount of beer expected to go unused in barrels if pubs remain closed into the summer because of coronavirus. Publicans are currently unable to sell their lagers, ales and ciders – save for takeaways and home deliveries.
“It’s a very sad waste of all the work and talent that goes into producing great beer,” says Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra). “People won’t get to drink it and all those resources have been used up for nothing.”
Mr Stainer estimates the UK’s 39,000 pubs have, on average, 15 barrels in their cellar at any given time. Most are kegs containing 11 gallons (88 pints) each – although many real ales come in nine-gallon (72-pint) casks. The best-before dates on pasteurised beer – including most lagers – are usually three to four months after delivery.
Those for real ales and other unpasteurised beer are usually set at six to nine weeks.
So most stock could go to waste if social distancing measures remain in place for several months.
Eighty years ago, moviegoers discovered exactly what happens when you wish upon a star when Walt Disney’s second animated feature, Pinocchio, premiered in theaters on Feb. 23, 1940. Flush with cash from the enormous success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney gambled his studio’s future on an adaptation of Italian author Corlo Collodi’s 19th century story of a walking, talking marionette who longs to be a real boy. At the time, the gamble didn’t entirely succeed: While Pinocchio received instant critical acclaim, it didn’t attract the same crowds that turned out in droves to see Snow White….
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Wong Ping’s Fables 2” on Vimeo tells the story of the cow who became rich and the rabbit who wanted to be a judge.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Dann, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]