The British Science Fiction Association announced the BSFA Awards 2020 winners on April 4.
The BSFA Awards have been presented annually since 1970. The awards are voted on by members of the British Science Fiction Association and by the members of the year’s Eastercon, the national science fiction convention, held since 1955.
Iain Clarke, Shipbuilding Over the Clyde, Art for Glasgow in 2024 WorldCon bid.
Best Short Fiction (under 40,000 words)
Ida Keogh, ‘Infinite Tea in the Demara Cafe’, Londoncentric, Newcon Press. Edited by Ian Whates.
Adam Roberts, It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of?, Elliot & Thompson.
Time travel is never only about the science, rather, the impossibilities.
The science and whimsy of time travel are infinite, complex, and lovely, but I love time travel stories because the quest of traversing Time can explore how possibilities and probabilities shape the person we are in the Present, the person we become in the Future. Fate is more fluid than it would like us to believe.
There are three reasons I love time travel stories. First, it’s a form of storytelling that transcends genre; next, the rules of the time machine or loop are creative and crucial; finally, no matter the plot, Time as a player forces the character to confront the infinity of their impact….
I was looking forward to reading the comedian’s new story collection, “Nothing Like I Imagined.” So I typed Kaling’s name into the Libby app used by my public library to loan e-books. But “The Office” star’s latest was nowhere to be found.
What gives? In 2020, Kaling switched to a new publisher: Amazon. Turns out, the tech giant has also become a publishing powerhouse — and it won’t sell downloadable versions of its more than 10,000 e-books or tens of thousands of audiobooks to libraries. That’s right, for a decade, the company that killed bookstores has been starving the reading institution that cares for kids, the needy and the curious. And that’s turned into a mission-critical problem during a pandemic that cut off physical access to libraries and left a lot of people unable to afford books on their own.
Many Americans now recognize that a few tech companies increasingly dominate our lives. But it’s sometimes hard to put your finger on exactly why that’s a problem. The case of the vanishing e-books shows how tech monopolies hurt us not just as consumers, but as citizens….
(3) BUTLER’S AND OTHERS’ LITERARY ESTATES. The Writers’ Room on NPR discusses “The State Of Literary Estates” with panelists Merrilee Heifetz, literary executor, the Octavia Butler Estate, and former agent for Octavia Butler; Blake Hazard, trustee, F. Scott Fitzgerald Estate and Zelda Fitzgerald Estate; great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald; and Miranda Doyle, intellectual freedom chair, Oregon Association of School Libraries; district librarian, Lake Oswego School District.
Much has been made recently of the literary estate of Dr. Seuss choosing to discontinue printing several of his books due to racist imagery and stereotyping in several titles.
Some right-wing news outlets have decried the decision as an example of cancel culture, despite the estate making the decision independently. Seuss’ story isn’t particularly novel, either. Roald Dahl’s books for children have also been criticized for racist language and the author’s anti-Semitism. At the end of 2020, the Dahl family released a statement in which they apologized for “lasting and understandable hurt” caused by his anti-Semitic comments.
Many online and in the news are continuing to discuss the best way to handle problematic content in significant pieces of art from the past. But others are asking fundamental questions: What’s the purpose of a literary estate? And what’s their role in managing the legacy of an artist or author?
(4) CHINA THEME ISSUE. The British Science Fiction Association’s Vector 293 (Spring 2021) is devoted to the theme of Chinese SF, and is produced in collaboration with guest editors Yen Ooi and Regina Kanyu Wang. “Yen Ooi introduces the issue as well as many of its recurring concepts, such as techno-orientalism. Regina Kanyu Wang takes us through the history of women writing SF in China….” And much more.
…Many people have asked me why I wrote a science fiction novel instead of discussing the issue of environmental pollution in a documentary literature, if I wanted to talk about it. But for me, science fiction has a metaphorical role that cannot be found elsewhere. It can transcend the limits of the “present” and incorporate literary symbols that are applicable to all cultures in all countries concerning the imagination of the future. Thus, in science fiction, environmental issues can be generalised to a broader social context, and readers are more willing to consider how their personal actions can affect our environment, or the work and lives of garbage workers they have never met….
I set out to remind myself about fictional books within books and, researching, discovered how much has been said already about the cursed and forbidden ones. The characters of my novel, The Absolute Book, think about some of these in the course of the story—Lovecraft’s Necronomicon or, in Robert Chambers’ short story collection The King in Yellow, the eponymous play said to drive all who encounter it insane. I wanted to suggest that the Firestarter of The Absolute Book—an ancient scroll box which has survived so many library fires that scholars have begun to imagine it starts them—is cursed in some way. I also wanted to suggest the possibility that the Firestarter might in fact be blessed and revelatory….
(6) GRRM, DEVELOPMENT HELLION. George R.R. Martin has what seems like a pretty exhaustive list of all of his current media projects in his most recent post in “Coming…Eventually…Maybe” at Not A Blog. (This excerpt covers only part of them.)
…I am not quite sure why all these stories seem to be breaking now. The SANDKINGS project has been underway for more than a year (Covid obviously shut things down) and IN THE LOST LANDS for something like six years. We also have an animated feature of THE ICE DRAGON in development at Warner’s (as it happens I wrote “Sandkings” and “The Ice Dragon” within a couple weeks of each other, during a Christmas break from my job teaching college in Dubuque, Iowa — that was a good break).
And that’s just in the feature sphere. In television, as seen here, I am working with Kalinda Vazquez on a pilot for Roger Zelazny’s ROADMARKS, and I am part of the terrific team that is trying to bring Nnedi Okorafor’s WHO FEARS DEATH to series on HBO….
(7) BAILIE OBIT. South African-born character actor David Bailie died March 5 at the age of 83. On TV he played “Dask” in the 1977 Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death, and also appeared in Blake’s 7. In movies, he played the mute pirate Cotton in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. His other film credits include The Creeping Flesh (with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing), Son Of Dracula (1973), Legend Of The Werewolf (also with Cushing), The Beyond (2017), The House That Jack Built and In The Trap. Bailie reprised his Doctor Who role as Dask in the Kaldor City audio drama series, and he was in Big Finish Productions audio dramas playing the “Celestial Toymaker”. Bailie also was a professional photographer, specializing in portrait photography.
…The people he painted were real, though. Like Sorenson in “Bright Future,” many lived in or near Stockbridge. William J. Obanhein, the police chief in Stockbridge, posed for Rockwell several times (though he was better known as “Officer Obie” in Arlo Guthrie’s Vietnam-era ballad “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” because he had arrested Guthrie for littering)….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 11, 1971 — On this day in 1971, THX 1138 premiered. It was the first feature film from George Lucas. It was produced by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Lucas and Walter Murch. It starred Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence. A novelization by Ben Bova was published. The film was not a box office success though critics generally loved it and it developed a cult following after Star Wars released, and it holds a ninety percent rating among the audience at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 11, 1921 — F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fan magazine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife with The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part dedicated to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement which is odd as he published a number of novels after that decision came into effect. (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born March 11, 1952 — Douglas Adams. I’ve have read the book and listened to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes there was. Shudder! The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and escapes my understanding its charms. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.) (CE)
Born March 11, 1963 — Alex Kingston, 58. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. She was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila, and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks, and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way. She’s been continuing her River Song character over at Big Finish. (CE)
Born March 11, 1967 — John Barrowman, 54. Best genre role without doubt is as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood. He reprised the role for Big Finish audiobooks and there’s one that I highly recommend which is the full cast Golden Age production with all the original cast. You’ll find a link to my review here. I see he’s been busy in the Arrowverse playing three different characters in the form of Malcolm Merlyn / Dark Archer / Ra’s al Ghul. He’s also had a long history in theatre, so he’s been in Beauty and the Beast as The Beast / The Prince, Jack and The Bean Stalk as Jack, Aladdinas, well, Aladdinand Cinderella as, errrr, Buttons. (CE)
Born March 11, 1989 — Anton Yelchin. Best known for playing played Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really he did. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born March 11, 1914 – Francis Towner Laney. Active fan in the late 1940s, he left telling us all why in Ah! Sweet Idiocy! (1948). He answered FIAWOL (“Fandom is a way of life”) with FIJAGH (“Fandom is just a [gosh-darned] hobby”); we took things too seriously, he took 130 pages to say; we were a lot of fuggheads, a term he coined, cuttingly, disputably, memorably. (Died 1958) [JH]
Born March 11, 1925 – Christopher Anvil. Twoscore stories about the Federation of Humanity; another dozen about Pandora’s Planet; another nine about War with the Outs; fourscore others; half a dozen collections; two novels; comical, daredevilish, moving. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born March 11, 1953 – Judith Silverthorne, age 68. Six novels for us; nonfiction e.g. Ingrained about pioneer Saskatchewan woodworkers 1870-1930. Two Moonbeam Awards. [JH]
Born March 11, 1964 – Libba Bray, age 57. Nine novels, half a dozen shorter stories. A Great and Terrible Beauty a NY Times Best-Seller. Printz Award for Going Bovine. [JH]
Born March 11, 1970 – Nicole Murphy, age 51. Seven novels, two anthologies, 15 shorter stories. Wrote up Artist Guest of Honour Shaun Tan for the Aussiecon 4 Programme Book (68th Worldcon). Chaired Conflux 4, co-chaired 9. [JH]
Born March 11, 1971 – Jonas Karlsson, age 50. Actor (Guldbagge Award) and author; three novels so far available in English. Born in Salem, the one in Stockholm County, Sweden, not the one in Essex County, Massachusetts. Played Mats, which Swedish-speakers do not rhyme with “Do cats eat bats?”, in Bang Bang Orangutang, a Swedish film which is not SF but who couldn’t love the title? which rhymes in Swedish too. [JH]
9. Jesse Eisenberg (DCEU) — Okay, I’m going to lose some of you right away, so let’s get this over with. I dislike all of Zack Snyder’s movies, especially those with Superman in them. But the worst part of his very bad Superman movies is, without question, Jesse Eisenberg’s take on Lex Luthor. There’s potential here to update Lex from an early 20th-century mad scientist to a 21st-century villain like Mark Zuckerberg. But Eisenberg’s jittery, manic take is all irritating style and no substance, coming off as the perfect embodiment of the phrase “a dumb person’s idea of a smart person.”
3. BEFORE CRITICIZING PROPAGANDA IN NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, GEORGE ORWELL WORKED AS A PROPAGANDIST.
During World War II, Orwell worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation. His role with the BBC Empire Service involved creating and supervising programming that the nation would feed to Indian networks to encourage a pro-Allies sentiment and spark volunteering.
4. GEORGE ORWELL MODELED ROOM 101 AFTER AN OFFICE AT THE BBC.
Nineteen Eighty-Four’s most horrifying setting is Room 101, the Ministry of Love’s torture chamber in which victims are exposed to their worst nightmares. What readers might not know is that Orwell modeled the chilling locale on an actual room.
As a propagandist, Orwell knew that much of what the BBC said had to be approved by the Ministry of Information, possibly in the BBC’s Room 101. He probably drew the name of his nightmare room from there. Curious about what the dreadful room looked like? The room has since been demolished, but in 2003 artist Rachel Whiteread created a plaster cast of the room.
… The section on Cahokia (A.D. 1050 to 1350) — located in what is now Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis — offers an unexpected reason for a city’s emergence. Many people link cities with capitalism and trade. Cahokia’s 30-meter-tall pyramids, 20-hectare plazas and a population (at the time) bigger than Paris suggest that spiritual revival can also build a major metropolis. Cahokia and Angkor, which reached its peak from A.D. 800 to 1431 in what is now Cambodia, also show how cities can form when power gets concentrated in a few influential people.
Through touring such diverse cities, Newitz shows that the move to urban life isn’t just a setup for a hero of a story. It’s a common setup for many ancient cultures….
Sciopods, Blemyae, and the Green Children of Woolpit: “Aliens” in the Catholic Imagination, Premodern Era Michael F. Flynn
What Has Outer Space to Do with Christ? John C. Wright
Catholic Questions in Science Fiction and Fantasy Tim Powers
I was honored to be asked to pen an essay titled “What Has Outer Space To Do with Christ?” for this volume. The burning question of whether soulless and dispassionate Vulcans can be baptized is not necessarily addressed, but questions of like magnitude are.
However, as is only to be expected, Mike Flynn’s essay on Sciopods and Blemyae is the more interesting. It is the first I ever heard about the Green Children of Woolpit — and if you have not heard these names before, prepare to be fascinated.
…In the new study, the researchers used high-resolution CT scans of ear structures in five Neanderthals, 10 modern Homo sapiens and nine early hominids from Sima de los Huesos, an archaeological site in what is now Spain, who lived before Neanderthals.
The team created 3-D models of these ear structures and ran the measurements through a software model to calculate the sound power transmission, which describes the way sound energy moves from the environment into the ear canal and winds its way toward the cochlea — essentially how much of the sound energy ultimately makes it to your inner ear.
The researchers used this metric to calculate the occupied bandwidth, which reflects the range of frequencies in which at least 90 percent of the sound power reaches the inner ear — the “sweet spot” of hearing, according to Dr. Quam. This sweet spot is the range we hear best in, where our ears are most tuned to sound.
The study found the Neanderthal ear’s sweet spot extended toward frequencies of 3 to 5 kHz, which are specifically dedicated to consonant production. The researchers believe this optimization toward consonants could be a key sign that Neanderthals had verbal language.
“The use of consonants distinguishes human language from mammalian communication, which is almost completely vowels,” Dr. Quam said. “Like grunts, howls, shrieks.”
In fact, the study found Neanderthals’ sweet spot was the same as modern human hearing, whereas the early hominids from Sima de los Huesos had a hearing range somewhere between chimpanzees and modern humans….
This Wednesday, when guest host Niecy Nash removed the Snail’s stovepipe chapeau and Kermit’s adorable little green noggin popped out of a foxhole in the costume’s back, viewers were united in their excitement and delight over this meta, puppet-within-a-puppet, Russian-doll-like moment. (There was a pair of decidedly less adorable actual Russian Dolls who also performed on Wednesday’s premiere, but I’ll get to them later.) Judge Ken Jeong even declared Kermit the “most famous guest ever” to compete on the show, and — sorry Lil Wayne, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Tony Hawk, et al — Ken wasn’t wrong. Kermit is an icon… and, as it turns out, he’s not a bad Daryl Hall impressionist either.
Sadly, while Kermit the Snail gave a charming and not-at-all-sluggish performance, as he told Niecy: “It’s not easy being green, but sometimes it’s even harder being a snail!”…
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Rich Lynch.] “Right Up Our Alley” — not exactly genre, but it caught the attention of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. The video footage is not CGI.
[Thanks to Dan B., Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, PJ Evans, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Rich Lynch, John Hertz, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]
The BSFA Awards have been presented annually since 1970. The awards are voted on by members of the British Science Fiction Association and by the members of the year’s Eastercon, the national science fiction convention, held since 1955. The winners will be announced at this year’s Eastercon, ConFusion, which will be held online 2-5th April 2021,
Iain Clarke, Shipbuilding Over the Clyde, Art for Glasgow in 2024 WorldCon bid.
Fangorn, Covers of Robot Dreams series.
Ruby Gloom, Cover of Nikhil Singh’s Club Ded, Luna Press Publishing.
Sinjin Li, Cover of Eli Lee’s, A Strange and Brilliant Light, Jo Fletcher Books.
Nani Walker, Four Black Lives Matter Murals in AR. Using drone photogrammetry, Nani Sahra Walker produced 3-D models of four Black Lives Matter murals as memorials to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others killed by police. Published by the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with RYOT and reported by Dorany Pineda.
Anne Charnock, ‘All I Asked For’, Fictions, Healthcare and Care Re-Imagined. Edited by Keith Brookes, at Future Care Capital.
Dilman Dila, ‘Red_Bati’, Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, AURELIA LEO. Edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.
Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, ‘Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon’, Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, AURELIA LEO. Edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.
Ida Keogh, ‘Infinite Tea in the Demara Cafe’, Londoncentric, Newcon Press. Edited by Ian Whates.
Tobi Ogundiran, ‘Isn’t Your Daughter Such a Doll’, Shoreline of Infinity.
Francesca T Barbini (ed.), Ties That Bind: Love in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Luna Press.
Paul Kincaid, The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest, Gylphi Press.
Andrew Milner and J.R. Burgmann, Science Fiction and Climate Change, Liverpool University Press.’
Adam Roberts, It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of?, Elliot & Thompson.
Jo Lindsay Walton, ‘Estranged Entrepreneurs’, Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction.
Jo Walton, ‘Books in Which No Bad Things Happen’, Tor.com.
Note: The two non-fiction nominees with similar names, Jo Walton and Jo Lindsay Walton, are two different people.
Tiffani Angus, Threading the Labyrinth, Unsung Stories.
Susanna Clarke, Piranesi, Bloomsbury.
M. John Harrison, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, Gollancz.
N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became, Orbit.
Gareth L. Powell, Light of Impossible Stars, Titan Books.
Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, Orbit.
Nikhil Singh, Club Ded, Luna Press.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Doors of Eden, Tor.
Liz Williams, Comet Weather, Newcon Press.
Nick Wood, Water Must Fall, Newcon Press.
There was a multiple tie for fifth place this year. The committee decided that instead of abbreviating the shortlist, all nominees would be included.
British Science Fiction Association members will have from January 18 until February 5 to help choose the BSFA Awards shortlists for works published in 2020. The voting form is available to BSFA members here.
In the first round, members nominated a longlist of 46 novels, 43 works of short fiction, 19 items of nonfiction, and 27 artworks.
Once voters have determined the shortlist, BSFA members and members of the British national science fiction convention Eastercon will vote for the winners.
The full longlists are as follows:
88 Names by Matt Ruff (HarperCollins)
Afterland by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books)
Analogue/Virtual by Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Hachette)
Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow (Tor)
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis (St Martin’s Press)
Beneath The Rising by Premee Mohamed (Solaris)
Bridge 108 by Anne Charnock (47North)
Burn by Patrick Ness (Quill Tree)
Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu (Simon & Schuster)
Club Ded by Nikhil Singh (Luna Press)
Comet Weather by Liz Williams (NewCon)
Dark Angels Rising by Ian Whates (Newcon Press)
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata (Granta)
Fearless by Allen Stroud (Flame Tree Publishing)
Ghost Species by James Bradley (Hodder & Stoughton)
Greensmith by Aliya Whiteley (Unsung Stories)
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com)
Ivory’s Story by Eugen Bacon (NewCon Press)
King of the Rising by Kacen Callender (Orbit)
Light of Impossible Stars by Gareth L. Powell (Titan)
Liquid Crystal Nightingale by Eeleen Lee (Abaddon)
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (Oneworld)
Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston (Tor.com)
Mordew by Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar)
Network Effect by Martha Wells (Tor.com)
Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen (Orbit)
Noumenon Ultra by Marina J. Lostetter (Harper Voyager)
People of the Canyons by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear (Forge Books)
Picard: Last Best Hope by Una McCormack (Simon & Schuster)
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
Saints of Salvation by Peter F Hamilton (Del Rey)
Saving Lucia by Anna Vaught (Bluemoose)
Space Station Down by Ben Bova & Doug Beason (Tor Books)
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang (Head of Zeus)
The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey (Orbit)
The Breach by M.T. Hill (Titan)
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit)
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)
The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
The Evidence by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
The God Game by Danny Tobey (St. Martin’s Press)
The Last Human by Zack Jordan (Del Rey)
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (Oneworld)
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Hachette)
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Saga)
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Silence by Don DeLillo (Picador)
The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez (Titan)
Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus (Unsung Stories)
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (Tor)
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott (Tor)
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell (Sceptre)
War of the Maps by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)
Water Must Fall by Nick Wood (NewCon Press)
A Voyage to Queensthroat by Anya Johanna DeNiro (Strange Horizons)
All I Asked For by Anne Charnock (Future Care Capital)
All Your Bases, Yada-Yada by Paula Hammond (Third_Flatiron)
Always Forever Today, Andrew Hook (Frequencies of Existence)
Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super, by A.T. Greenblatt (UncannyMagazine)
Carnival by Milton Davis (Hadithi and the State of Black Speculative Fiction)
Cofiwch Aberystwyth by Val Nolan (Interzone, TTA Press)
Convergence in Chorus Architecture by Dare Segun Falowo (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora)
Devil’s Road by Gary Gibson (NewCon)
Fairy Tales for Robots by Sofia Samatar (Made to Order)
Firewalkers by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)
Flight by Claire Wrenwood (Tor.com)
Fog and Pearls at the King’s Cross Junction by Aliya Whiteley (LondonCentric)
Georgie in the Sun by Natalia Theodoridou (UncannyMagazine)
Give Me My Wings by Eneasz Brodski (Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses)
Grubane by Karl Drinkwater (Organic Apocalypse)
Honeybones by Georgina Bruce (TTA Press)
Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Oghenechovwe Ekpeki (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora)
In the Storm, a Fire by Andrew Dana Hudson and Jay Springett (And Lately, The Sun)
Infinite Tea in the Demara Cafe by Ida Keogh (LondonCentric)
Isn’t Your Daughter Such a Doll by Tobi Ogundiran (Shoreline of Infinity)
Ivory’s Story by Eugen M. Bacon (NewCon)
Make America Great Again by Val Nolan (Interzone, TTA Press)
Mist Songs of Delhi by Sid Jain (PodCastle)
Odette by Zen Cho (Shoreline of Infinity)
Paper Hearts by Justina Robson (NewCon)
Placed into Abyss (Mise en Abyse) by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com)
Rat and Finch are Friends, by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Strange Horizons)
Red_Bati by Dilman Dila (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora)
Rocket Man by Louis Evans (Interzone, TTA Press)
Saving Simon by Allen Stroud (Forgotten Sidekicks, Kristell Ink)
Selkie Summer by Ken McLeod (NewCon)
Seven Days in Geocenter by Yu Yu (no publisher information)
Seven Dreams of a Valley by Prashanth Srivatsa (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Sin Eater by Ian R. MacLeod (Made to Order)
Singularity by Davide Mana (Shoreline of Infinity)
Soaring, the World on their Shoulders by Cécile Cristofari (Interzone, TTA Press)
SoulShine by Koji A. Dae (Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses)
The Abduction of Europe, Andrew Hook, in Frequencies of Existence (NewCon)
The Continuity by Philip Berry (And Lately, The Sun)
The Good Shepherd by Stewart Hotson (LondonCentric)
The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald (Tor.com)
The Road to Woop Woop by Eugen Bacon (The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories)
The Roman Road by Vajra Chandrasekera (Fireside)
The Thirteenth Floor by Robert Bagnall (Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses)
The Torch by Samantha Walton (Gutter Magazine)
The Translator, at Low Tide by Vajra Chandrasekera (Clarkesworld Magazine)
The Unclean by Nuzo Onoh (Dominion: An Anthology of Black Speculative Fiction)
Time’s Own Gravity by Alexander Glass (Interzone, TTA Press)
To Set at Twilight in a Land of Reeds by Natalia Theodoridou (Clarkesworld Magazine)
Warsuit by Gary Gibson (Interzone, TTA Press)
We are Still Here by Anya Ow (Shoreline of Infinity)
We Will Become as Monsters by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Future Fire)
Yellow and the Perception of Reality by Maureen McHugh (Tor.com)
You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh (DC Comics)
You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South (Fsg Originals)
Art for Glasgow in 2024 WorldCon bid by Iain Clarke (Shipbuilding Over the Clyde)
Cityscape by Myriam Wares
Cover of Aliya Whiteley’s Greensmith
Cover of Dark River by Rym Kechacha
Cover of Eli Li’s A Strange and Brilliant Light by Sinjin Li
Cover of Hag: Forgotten Tales Retold
Cover of Hao Jingfang’s Vagabonds
Cover of Ian Whates’s Dark Angels Rising by Jim Burns
Cover of Judge DreddMegazine #426 by Tim Napper
Cover of Juliana Rew’s (ed.) Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses by Keely Rew
Cover of M. John Harrison’s The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by Micaela Alcaino
Cover of Mary South’s You Will Never Be Forgotten by Jamie Keenan
Cover of Nature 22 October 2020 by Paul Klee (‘Vaccine Design’)
Cover of Neal Asher’s Lockdown Tales by Vincent Sammy
Cover of Nick Wood’s Water Must Fall by Vincent Sammy
Cover of Nikhil Singh’s Club Ded by Ruby Gloom
Cover of Patrick Ness’s Burn by Alejandro Colucci
Cover of Robot Dreams series by Fangorn (NewCon)
Cover of Sayaka Murata’s Earthlings
Cover of Shoreline of Infinity 17 by Siobhan McDonald
Cover of Shoreline of Infinity 18 by Jackie Duckworth
Cover of Shoreline of Infinity 19 by Stephen Daly
Cover of Storm Constantine and Wendy Darling’s (eds) Para Mort by Ruby
Cover of The Breach by M.T. Hill
Four Black Lives Matter murals from LA rendered in VR/AR by multiple artists
Illustration for Val Nolan’s ‘Make America Great Again’ by Richard Wagner
Ponte La Mascara! by Noe Leyva (interior art for Cortex Prime RPG rulebook)
Samraaji Skyhavens by Steven Sanders (interior art for Terra Oblivion RPG rulebook, p. 42)
Shing Yin Khor’s series of famous artworks re-created in Animal Crossing.
At the Brink: Electronic Literature, Technology, and the Peripheral Imagination at the Atlantic Edge by Anne Karhio (Electronic Book Review)
Beachcombing: And other oddments by David Langford (Ansible Editions)
Big Echo Interviews ed. Robert G Penner (Big Echo)
‘Books in Which No Bad Things Happen’ by Jo Walton (Tor.com)
Diseases of the Head: Essays on the Horrors of Speculative Philosophy ed. Matt Rosen (Punctum)
‘Estranged Entrepreneurs’ by Jo Lindsay Walton (Foundation)
‘How Science Fiction Imagined the 2020s’ by Tim Maughan (OneZero)
‘How the Federation Overcame its Shipbuilding Gap for the defense of Coppelius in Star Trek: Picard‘ by Claude Berube (NavyCon)
It’s the End of the World: But what are we afraid of? by Adam Roberts (Elliott & Thompson)
‘Review of M. John Harrison’s Settling the World‘ by Martin Petto (Strange Horizons)
Science Fiction and Climate Change by Andrew Milner and JR Burgmann (Liverpool University Press)
‘The 2020 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist’ by Nandini Ramachandran (Strange Horizons)
The Jonbar Point: Essays from SF Horizons by Brian Aldiss, with an introduction by Christopher Priest (Ansible Editions)
The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest by Paul Kincaid (Gylphi)
Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction ed. Francesca T. Barbini (Luna Press)
‘Zones of Possibility: Science Fiction and the Coronavirus’ by Rob Latham (Los Angeles Review of Books)
Clocking in at a streamlined 1120 pages, Ash tells the tale of 15th century mercenary Ash, a woman whose Europe is both very much like and very much different from our own. A natural soldier, she is drawn into the effort to defend a disunited Europe from the Visigoth army that threatens the continent. Visigoth-ruled Carthage has numbers and a seemingly magical technology the Europeans cannot match. Key to the invader’s success: the Faris, a woman guided by mysterious Voices…a woman who could be Ash’s twin.
(2) INSTANT TSUNDOKU. Paul Weimer presents “Mind Meld: The 101 and the 201 of SFF” at Nerds of a Feather. The feature involves asking people a genre-related question and sharing their responses. Answering this time are Marissa Lingen, Megan O’Keefe, Alix Harrow, Adri Joy, Marina Berlin, Lisa McCurrach, Melissa Caruso, Andrew Hiller, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Keena Roberts, J Kathleen Cheney, Elizabeth Fitz, Camestros Felapton, Catherine Lundoff, Sophia McDougall, and Julie Czerneda. His question is:
Some readers are looking for entry points into fantasy and pointing them at a book rich in the conversation and assumed tropes can throw them right out of it again. Other readers want more than a basic experience but are frustrated with novels that retread the same basics over and over.
So I’d like for you to recommend me *two* books:
1. A 101 SFF book that someone who may have seen Lord of the Rings but never cracked open an SFF book might fruitfully read. 2. A 201 SFF book for someone looking for a deeper, richer experience, rewarding their previous reading in genre.
(3) NEW ZEALAND GOING TO TOP ALERT LEVEL. Of concern for
those hoping the 2020 Worldcon might still be held this summer, New Zealand’s Prime Minister announced yesterday
that the nation has gone to Level 3 status, and tomorrow they will be going to
Level 4 status for at least 4 weeks.
New Zealand has 102 confirmed cases of coronavirus and is now at alert level 3 – and will move to level four for likely at least four weeks from Wednesday.
Alert level 3 means the risk of the potentially deadly virus not being contained and there will either be community transmission of the virus or multiple clusters breaking out.
Level 4 means people are instructed to stay at home, schools and universities closed, as well as non-essential businesses, major reprioritisation of health services, and severely limited travel.
Essential services will be open at all alert levels, but level level 3 means limited travel in areas with clusters of Covid-19 cases, affected educational facilities closed, mass gatherings cancelled, public venues closed (such as libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks), some non-essential businesses closed, and non face-to-face primary care consultations, with non-elective services and procedures in hospitals deferred.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just told the nation “we are all now preparing as a nation to go into self-isolation in the same way we have seen other countries do. Staying at home is essential”.
That would give the health system a chance to cope, she said.
(4) LAFFERTY FANS DISAPPOINTED. Laffcon, a one-day event
about the works of R.A. Lafferty that had been scheduled for June 8 in Lawenceville,
New Jersey has been postponed
until June 2021.
As you may know, Kate Hatcher passed away early in March after battling pneumonia (http://file770.com/kate-hatcher-1974-2020/). She left behind her partner, Ben Hatcher, and a daughter with health issues, Ireland. Various people have asked if there is anything we could do for Ben and Ireland. Well, John Hertz called me yesterday and said Ben and Ireland really could use some money, especially in the next month, while Ben tries to straighten out the finances and government payments to Ireland. Since John is not on the Internet, the suggestion was that I create a GoFundMe and send the money to Ben Hatcher. I am doing so. As I did for the Boskone ASL Fund, I will make up the GoFundMe fees (up to the asking amount) in addition to my personal contribution so that Ben and Ireland get the full amount that people are donating. As suggested by John Hertz, I will send Ben a money order on about March 31st with what is raised to that point and then follow up with additional funds as appropriate (perhaps weekly). If anyone wants to check the veracity of this, please feel free to contact John Hertz; if you don’t have his phone number, I can give it to you.
(6) FAN FAVORITES. The nerd folk duo doubleclicks will livestream interviews with two sff authors this week. (Times
shown are PDT.)
TUESDAY: 11am: Interview with Hugo Award-Winning author Becky Chambers, author of the Wayfarers Series, which we’ve read about 2 dozen times. The second book has an AI in it whose story makes me feel one million things. Becky’s latest book is To Be Taught, If Fortunate and is also completely lovely!!
THURSDAY: 11am: interview with Hugo Award-Winning author Martha Wells, author of the Murderbot Diaries, which we’ve also read about 2 dozen times. This series is about a “robot” who just wants to binge tv shows and protect people and the books are so funny and real and emotional.
(7) A CHAPTER
IN GENRE HISTORY. Joel Cunningham,
the person who started the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog,
tells the story of the site, which closed last
December after five
years. Thread starts here. He’s got a new job at Lifehacker.
(8) NOSTALGIA AVAILABLE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] An Ontario guy set up a site with all sorts of old
broadcasts and bits and pieces many locals grew up with. Did you know that in
1972, Dan Ackroyd voiced the call
sign for a TV station? They also have Judith
Merril’s post-show discussions of Doctor Who episodes from 1980, old
commercials, stuff from the Buffalo TV stations … a lovely rabbit hole to
slither down: Retrontario.com.
(9) PLAGUE INVADES THE LOCKED TOMB. Bad news for those
awaiting the sequel to one of last year’s most talked about sff books. Tamsyn
Muir told readers today —
William Gibson writes visionary stories — in his early work, he imagined an information superhighway long before the Web existed. But in a dozen novels over the last 35 years, Gibson has stalked closer and closer to the present.
His latest, Agency, has a complicated plot that jumps between the far future and the immediate present; Gibson says his favorite type of science fiction requires time and effort to understand. “My greatest pleasure in reading books by other people is to be dropped into a completely baffling scenario,” he says, “and to experience something very genuinely akin to culture shock when first visiting a new culture.”
Gibson imagined that sort of culture shock back in 1982 when he coined the word “cyberspace” in a short story. Two years later he popularized the term in his first novel, Neuromancer, about a washed up hacker hired for one last job.
…”He said once that he was wrong about cyberspace,” says author Lev Grossman, “and the internet when he first conceived it, he thought it was a place that we would all leave the world and go to. Whereas in fact, it came here.”
Grossman is a former book critic for Time magazine and author of the fantasy bestseller, The Magicians. “You have an artificial intelligence that is everywhere. It’s in all your devices. You’re looking through it as a lens to see the rest of the world. It’s an extraordinary vision of how computers will become aware, and become the thing that mediates between us and reality.”
But Gibson himself thinks the future of artificial intelligence will require human sensibility to take it to the next level. “Over the past few years, I’ve more and more frequently encountered people saying that the real change-bringer might not be something, an intelligence that we build from the ground up, but something like an uploaded healing consciousness that we then augment with the sort of artificial intelligence we already have.”
All the names take inspiration from J.K. Rowling’s fictional world; from ‘espresso patronum’, to ‘butter brew’, to ‘brew that must not be named’, there are flavours for every Potterhead.
The ‘espresso patronum’ coffee blend is, as you may have guessed, an espresso blend, promising to provide a smooth and chocolatey cup of coffee with a slightly fruity finish. The ‘butter brew’ coffee on the other hand, is a sweeter butterscotch flavour brew, taking inspiration from the beer the wizards drink at Hogsmede pub. More information about the other coffee flavours on their website.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 23, 1962 — The third season episode of Twilight Zone entitled “Person or Persons Unknown” first aired. Written by Charles Beaumont Who wrote a number of other classic episodes in this series such as “The Howling Man” and “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, he also was the scriptwriter for such films as 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and Queen of Outer Space. The premise of his script is simple: upon awaking from a bender, his protagonist find no one recognises him. Richard Long is David Andrew Gurney and the supporting cast are quite fine in their roles as well.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 23, 1882 — Charles Montague Shaw. His most remembered role came in 1936 as Professor Norton in the quite popular Undersea Kingdom serial. It was done in response to the Flash Gordon serial then being played. Ironically, he would appear several year later in the Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars serial as the Clay King. (Died 1968.)
Born March 23, 1904 — H. Beam Piper. I am reasonably sure that the first thing I read and enjoyed by him was Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen followed by Little Fuzzy and related works which are damn fun reading. Has anyone here read Scalzi’s Fuzzy novel? (Died 1964.)
Born March 23, 1934 — Neil Barron. Certainly best known for Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction which actually is still a damn fine read which is unusual for this sort of material. If memory thirty years on serves me right, his Fantasy Literature and Horror Literature guides were quite good too. (Died 2010.)
Born March 23, 1937 — Carl Yoke, 83. One of those academics that I stumbled upon when I was looking for information on Zelazny. His 1979 study of him, Roger Zelazny, is quite excellent, as is his essay, “Roger Zelazny’s Bold New Mythologies” which is to be in Tom Staicar’s Critical Encounters II: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction. He also wrote “What a Piece of Work is a Man: Mechanical Gods in the Fiction of Roger Zelazny” which you’ll find in Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy, one of those serious academic volumes no one really reads for the most part. Yoke does have two genre stories to his credit, they’re called The Michael Holland Stories.
Born March 23, 1952 — Kim Stanley Robinson, 68. If the Mars trilogy was the only work that he’d written, he’d rank among the best genre writers ever. But then he went and wrote the outstanding Three Californias Trilogy. I won’t say everything he writes I consider top-flight, the Science in the Capital series just didn’t appeal to me. His best one-off novels I think are without argument (ha!) The Years of Rice and Salt and New York 2140. I should note he has won myriad Awards including the Hugo Award for Best Novel, BSFA Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. And the Heinlein Society gave him their Robert A. Heinlein Award for his entire body of work!
Born March 23, 1958 — John Whitbourn, 62. Writer of a number novels and short stories focusing on an alternative history set in a Catholic universe. It reminds me a bit of Keith Robert’s Pavane but much more detailed. A Dangerous Energy in which Elizabeth I never ascends the throne leads off his series. If that’s not to your taste, Frankenstein’s Legion’s is a sheer delight of Steampunk riffing off Mary Shelley‘s tale. He’s available at the usual digital suspects.
Born March 23, 1959 — Maureen Kincaid Speller, 61. British reviewer and essayist who has been nominated for Hugos for Best Semiprozine and Best Fan Writer. She’s had an extensive career with her writing showing up in Matrix, Steam Engine Time, The Gate and Vector (all of which she either edited or co-edited), Barbed Wire Kisses, Fire & Hemlock, Local Fanomena, Red Shift, Interzone and The BSFA Review. Other than a brief collection by BSFA, And Another Thing … A Collection of Reviews and Criticism by Maureen Kincaid Speller, her work has not yet been collected.
Born March 23, 1977 — Joanna Page, 43. It’s not the longest of genre resumes but it’s an interesting one. First, she’s Ann Crook in From Hell from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Next up is appearing in yet another version of The Lost World. (I think there’s there a legal contract requiring one be made every so often.) And finally she’s Queen Elizabeth I in The Day of The Doctor.
(14) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarroanswers the question, “What’s Heaven to a chicken?”
Bleeding Cool has been informed by multiple senior industry figures that Diamond Comic Distributors is requesting that no more product be shipped to any of its warehouse until further notice. Product already in its warehouses will be distributed, such that it can, but after that they will be distributing no more comics, magazine, books, toys, games, or any other product until further notice….
… Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week. Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease….
“People in the rest of the world might not have known much at the time, but it was all people cared about in China,” says the artist, who has family in Wuhan. “I followed the news closely and experienced a lot of emotions.”
To channel those emotions creatively, she took a humorous tone with the comic “Quarantine Makes Life Better,” which depicted a faux-news report of characters coping with stay-at-home life.
Disney’s latest Pixar film, Onward, opened in theaters just two weeks ago, but the company is already making it available for digital purchase tonight, making it the latest current release to quickly migrate to video-on-demand platforms as the novel coronavirus’ spread wipes out traditional movie theater attendance.
The film, which follows the adventures of two elf brothers voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, will be available to purchase on digital platforms for $19.99 beginning at 8 p.m. ET, Disney said this morning.
In 1987, my sister was halfway through reading me “The Princess Bride” when she went off to college. The day she left, I cried myself to sleep — and then, after I got my bearings again, I read the rest of the book on my own. So this has always been a comfort read for me: a fairy tale that acknowledges that life isn’t fair (“It’s just fairer than death, that’s all”) yet still manages to make you feel that the good guys might win, that justice will be served, that there’s a point to it all. If you only know the (fantastic) film, pick the book up, too — it’s just as much of a delight. —Celeste Ng’s most recent book is “Little Fires Everywhere.”
East Antarctic’s Denman Canyon is the deepest land gorge on Earth, reaching 3,500m below sea-level.
It’s also filled top to bottom with ice, which US space agency (Nasa) scientists reveal in a new report has a significant vulnerability to melting.
Retreating and thinning sections of the glacier suggest it is being eroded by encroaching warm ocean water.
Denman is one to watch for the future. If its ice were hollowed out, it would raise the global sea surface by 1.5m.
…Most people recognise the shores around the Dead Sea in the Middle East to have the lowest visible land surface elevation on Earth, at some 430m below sea level. But the base of the gorge occupied by Denman Glacier on the edge of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) actually reaches eight times as deep.
This was only recently established, and it has made Denman a location of renewed scientific interest.
…A cousin to the sling is the accelerator, a (presumably firmly bolted down) device which uses some force other than centripetal to accelerate payloads. Such devices have some obvious limits (namely, power supply, heat management, and the trade-off between accelerations low enough not to crush the payload and final velocities high enough to be useful). They also have advantages, not least of which is not having to haul a gigawatt-plus power supply off-planet and across space. Accelerators of various kinds go way back in science fiction, at least as far as Jules Vernes’ From the Earth to the Moon, whose Baltimore Gun Club delivers a living payload past the Moon using a very, very large gun. No, larger than that.
Various flavours of accelerators show up all through SF. One of the more striking examples is Michael Swanwick’s Vacuum Flowers, whose “transit rings” manipulate space-time to accelerate payloads to high speeds without the payloads feeling the forces involved. I wonder if this was inspired by Robert Forward’s Guidelines to Antigravity…
Humans may not be directly related to fish (except maybe Abe Sapien or that creature from The Shape of Water), but the fossil of an extinct fish known as Elpisostege watsoni was a breakthrough for a research team from Flinders University in Australia and Universite de Quebec a Rimouski in Canada. This literal fish out of water had fingers, as in actual finger bones, in its pectoral fins. Its 380-million-year-old skeleton revealed how vertebrate fingers evolved from fins — and how prehistoric fish morphed into tetrapods.
(24) ANCIENT PILOT. William Shatner was Archie Goodwin in
this adaptation of Nero Wolfe.
An unsold, 1959 pilot for a proposed NERO WOLFE TV series starring Kurt Kasznar as Nero Wolfe and William Shatner as Archie Goodwin. The theme was composed by Alex North. Rumor has it there are two additional unsold pilots with this cast out there somewhere.
(25) VULCAN LIVES. John Prine’s “Lonesome Friends of Science” is
news to me!
“This song here is an epic. This tells you about the
humiliation of the planet Pluto, when it was told it was no longer a planet,
the romantic escapades of the Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama, and the end of the
world as we know it. All in a little over four minutes.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse
Wooster, Nancy Lebovitz, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, rcade, Joe
Siclari, Mike Kennedy, Ben Bird Person, Darrah Chavey, Iphinome, Michael J.
Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contirebiting editor of the day Brian Z.]