R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War has won the 2019 Compton Crook Award for Best Debut
Novel presented by the Baltimore Science
Members of BSFS chose The
Poppy War by reading and rating debut novels published between Nov 1, 2017
and October 31, 2018. First, members selected six finalists and then gave The
Poppy War their highest rating. The other finalists were:
• S.A. Chakraborty – The City of Brass
• Rebecca Roanhorse – Trail of Lightning
• Rena Rossner – Sisters of the Winter Wood
• Lauren Teffeau – Implanted
• Nick Clark Windo – The Feed
BSFS will award R. F. Kuang with a check for
$1,000 and an invitation to be the Compton Crook Guest at Balticon (the BSFS annual
convention) for two years. This year Balticon will be held May 24-27, 2019 at
the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. Baltimore, Maryland.
BSFS has presented the Compton Crook Award for
best first novel in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres since 1983.
Past winners have included Donald Kingsbury, Elizabeth Moon, Michael Flynn, Wen
Spencer, Maria Snyder, Naomi Novik, Paolo Bacigalupi, Myke Cole, Charles
Gannon, and Ada Palmer. Last year’s winner was Nicky Drayden for Prey of
Kuang may be the youngest winner of the award. She
started writing The Poppy War while still a student at Georgetown
University and was only 22 when Harper Voyager published it. The sequel, The
Dragon Republic, will be published this summer.
BSFS named the Compton Crook Award in memory of
Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who wrote
under the name Stephen Tall, after his death in 1981. Professor Crook, an
active member of BSFS, was a staunch champion of new works in the speculative
BSFS is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable,
literary and educational organization, dedicated to the promotion of, and an
appreciation for, science fiction in all of its many forms. BSFS was launched
on January 5, 1963 and has been holding its convention, Balticon, since 1967.
The Baltimore Science
Fiction Society (BSFS) released the names of the six finalists for its 2019
Compton Crook Award for best first novel in the science fiction, fantasy, and
horror genres. The finalists are:
• S.A. Chakraborty – The City of Brass
• R. F. Kuang – The
• Rebecca Roanhorse – Trail of Lightning
• Rena Rossner – Sisters
of the Winter Wood
• Lauren Teffeau – Implanted
• Nick Clark Windo – The
The award includes a framed award document and, for the novel’s author, a check for $1,000 and an invitation to be the Compton Crook Guest at Balticon (the BSFS annual convention) for two years. This year Balticon will be held May 24-27, 2019 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. Baltimore, Maryland.
Members of BSFS selected the finalists by reading and rating debut novels published between Nov 1, 2017 and October 31, 2018. The finalist round of reading and rating will close April 13 and the winner will be notified on Sunday, April 14 and announced to the public on Monday, April 15th.
The Baltimore Science
Fiction Society (BSFS) has been giving out the Compton Crook Award for best
first novel since 1983. Past winners have included Donald Kingsbury, Elizabeth
Moon, Michael Flynn, Wen Spencer, Maria Snyder, Naomi Novik, Paolo Bacigalupi,
Myke Cole, Charles Gannon, and Ada Palmer. Last year’s winner was Nicky Drayden
for Prey of Gods.
The Award was named in
memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who
wrote under the name Stephen Tall, and who died in 1981. Professor Crook was
active for many years in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and was a
staunch champion of new works in the fields eligible for the award.
BSFS is a 501(c)(3),
non-profit, charitable, literary and educational organization, dedicated to the
promotion of, and an appreciation for, science fiction in all of its many
forms. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society was launched on January 5, 1963
and has been holding Balticon since 1967.
Doctor Who series 11 just came to an end – but fans will have quite a long wait until the next full selection of adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends.
The BBC have confirmed longstanding rumours that the sci-fi series won’t be back on screens for a full series in 2019, with the twelfth season of the revived series instead airing in “early” 2020.
(2) DECK THE DALEK. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society completed decorating their Dalek at the end of the December business meeting, as they have done every year since 2001. Dale Arnold says –
Andrew Bergstrom made this lifesize Dalek for a playat Balticon 35 in 2001 and it was too nice to throw away…so we started decorating it for the holidays and have done so on with new decorations addedto the mix every year.
As a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop, you’ll be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting individually with students. What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers?
I don’t think there’s anything I’d raise to that level, but I do often recommend that developing writers and editors volunteer as slush readers somewhere. The experience gives you insight into the common mistakes most writers are makingand the distance you might need to start recognizing them in your own work.You’ll also see the current trends and get a good sense of your own place inthe field. I’ve yet to meet a slush reader who hasn’t underestimated their skill level. The rule for writers is to quit when you stop learning. Potential editors should keep going a few more months, just to see if they can hack the experience when it becomes routine.
Bonus advice: If you are still seeking your first sale, every editor I know wears their “discoveries” as a badge of honor. Saying “I am previously unpublished” in a cover letter is not a bad thing. When you do sell your first story, make sure the purchasing editor knows.
This December, Inverse is counting down the 20 best science moments seen in science fiction this year, whether it be on the big screen or small, in books, on stage or in the immersive worlds of video games. Our science and entertainment writers have teamed up for this year-end series to show how real-life science has been memorably —though not always accurately! — portrayed in the culture. Watch this space for more additions all month long.
Poké Balls have been a key part of the Pokémon experience, from the original GameBoy games to the recently-released Pokémon: Let’s Go, which even works with a specially-designed Poké Ball Plus accessory that lets you simulate the experience. And yet we still have no idea how Snorlax (a giant fat cat-like creature that’s 6’11” and weighs around 1014 pounds) fits inside a metal object roughly the size of a baseball.
The canonical — and nonsensical — pseudoscientific explanation is that Poké Balls shoot out a beam that converts the Pokémon into a form of energy. Sounds fun, right? Except it’s not. The only known way to legitimately convert matter into energy is through nuclear fusion. Even in that process, less than 1 percent of the matter is converted into energy, and the reaction is so volatile that it causes massive explosions.
(5) ODDEST TITLE. The winner of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is Joy of Waterboiling by Christina Scheffenacker. The Bookseller, which sponsors the prize, noted that “for the first time in the 40-year life of the world’s most prestigious literary gong, a foreign-language tome” has won. Published in Austria by Asche Verlag, the book is eligible for the prize despite being in German because its title is in English.
(6) THESE BOOTS AREN’T MADE FOR TALKIN’. Was there ever anybody more impressed with Harlan Ellison than himself? Perhaps Gay Talese. Now available on YouTube is Harlan’s version of this legendary pop culture confrontation: “Harlan Ellison on Esquire’s ‘Frank Sinatra Has a Cold’ by Gay Talese.”
An excerpt and unused interview from the feature doc “‘Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris” by director Raymond DeFelitta (2007) || RIP Harlan Ellison
(7) CASTING CALL. Dublin2019 will be staging “Jophan!,” Erwin Strauss’ musical adaptation of the great classic of Irish fanwriting, The Enchanted Duplicator by Walt Willis and Bob Shaw, a fannish parody of John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”
Strauss is reaching out to the community for people interested in participating, either on stage, or in the orchestra pit, or wherever. There is no travel budget, so participants will have to already be planning to be attending Dublin 2019. Contact Strauss or the Dublin Theatre team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It looks like Netflix is reviving another groundbreaking anime for its ever-expanding platform.
The streaming giant just announced Ghost in theShell: SAC_2045, which is set to premiere sometime in 2020. Based on Masamune Shirow’s classic manga Ghost in the Shell, which premiered back in 1989, it explores themes of consciousness and individuality through the lens of artificial intelligence.
In this special lecture, we are very pleased to welcome Sir Roger Penrose back to the Clarke Center to explore how Hawking Points –Stephen Hawking’s prediction of glowing black holes– explain the nature of how our universe was formed and if there are others like it.
Sir Roger Penrose, the celebrated mathematician and physicist, is an Emeritus Professor at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford and winner of the Copley Medal and the Wolf Prize in Physics — which he shared with Stephen Hawking. He has made profound contributions in geometry, blackhole singularities, the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity, the structure of space-time, the nature of consciousness and the origin of our Universe.
Friday, December 14, 2018 — 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Kavli Auditorium, Tata Hall forthe Sciences, Division of Physical Sciences & the Clarke Center, UC San Diego. RSVP required; pleaseRSVP here
(10) TESSER OBIT. [Item by Mark Blackman.] Gary c Tesser (1952-2018). NY fan Gary c Tesser (small “c” with no period to be demure) died on Saturday night, December 8, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
He was one of the first 2 people in SF Fandom I met (in September 1970; he was recruiting for the Brooklyn College SF & Fantasy Society) and introduced me to apas (notably TAPS) and to Lunarians, of which he later (in the early ’90s) became President. He was my closest friend for many years. Dubbed “Captain Doom” and self-dubbed “The Plucky Red Ace”, he was a fannish legend, his habitual lateness (“the Tesser Effect”) and unique sense of logic were the inspiration for a slew of “Tesser Stories.”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 9, 1848 – Joel Chandler Harris. American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist who is best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. Yes he’s white and the stories are about the ‘Brer Rabbit’ stories from the African-American oral tradition but he’s widely accepted by all about having done these stories justice. James Weldon Johnson called them “the greatest body of folklore America has produced.” (Died 1908.)
Born December 9, 1900 – Margaret Brundage. Illustrator and painter. Working in pastels on illustration board, she created most of the covers for Weird Tales between 1933 and 1938. Her work is collected in The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pin-UpArt. She was one of the very few women artist in the industry, a fact not known as she signed her work as M. Brundage. (Died 1976.)
Born December 9, 1934 – Judi Dench, 84. M in the Bond films GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude faerie.
Born December 9, 1953 – John Malkovitch, 65. I was pondering if I was going to include him then decide that Being John Malkovich which won him a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor was enough for me to include him. What a strange role that is! He also shows up in the dreadful Jonah Hex film and played Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach in the Crossbones series.These are selective highlights.
The genre titles listed are classic works that have endured on bookshelves for decades, if not centuries.
Isn’t in interesting (?) that of these titles that have demonstrated longevity, continued relevance (and, as a side note, continued sales that dwarf just about everything else) each and every one ofthem is not only “science fiction”, but each and every one of them is social commentary? “Political messaging in fiction” as somehave called it?
Not trying to resurrect a dead horse here, but it’s interesting nonetheless that SF’s enduring works — the classics — are all united in this way.
I gravitate towards certain SF sub-genres, such as stories featuring relativistic travel. I’ve encountered a fair number of such sub-genrebooks in which it is clear that the authors did not, emphatically NOT, understand relativity. This article features novels in which authors have wrestled with Mr. Einstein and lost three falls out of three.
As you know, there are two essential foundations of relativity.The first is that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. The second is that the speed of light is invariant regardless of one’s frame of reference. Every single SF novel in which reference is made to time as measured by the ship as “subjective” and time measured by the Earth “objective” is wrong: everyone’s clocks are right, even if they don’t agree with each other.
Some examples: Anderson likes to wax poetic on technical details. He spends a full two pages describing what could have been handled with this sentence: “I used a neutrino beam to contact the Jovians; nothing else could penetrate their giant planet’s hellish radiation belts or the tens of thousands of thick atmosphere.”
This second annual virtual anthology of the year’s best speculative fiction differs in four primary ways from last year’s Web’s Best Science Fiction #1 (2017 Stories) and Web’s Best Fantasy #1 (2017 Stories). Rather than restricting my coverage to web magazines as in 2017, I added coverage of several 2018 print magazines which created a much larger pool of stories to choose from. Thus, the word count for the “best” stories has increased from 140,000 to 250,000 words. Further, those words were evenly divided between two volumes of science fictional and fantastic stories but have now been combined into a single volume with three sections of uneven story and word counts. Finally, because of some of this, I renamed it to Year’s Best Short Science Fiction and Fantasy.
What hasn’t changed is the principle of selecting (to repeat the first introduction’s quote of the late Gardner Dozois) “only those stories that honestly and forcibly struck me as being the best published during that year, with no consideration for log-rolling, friendship, fashion, politics, or any other kind of outside influence.” And there’s still the same qualification to that: for variety’s sake, if multiple stories are by the same author or have strikingly similar elements, I try to select only one. Similarly, I’ve attempted to sequence the stories for a varied reading experience rather than any other principle.
You’ve provided cover illustrations for some of Heinlein’s works before — how did working on this edition stack up to those works?
The main difference is that I had quite a bit more time on each of my previous illustrations to refine and finish the paintings, which were done just for book cover images.
A cover is like a small movie poster, designed to compete with literally hundreds of similar tiny posters for the attention of potential buyers in bookstores. On the other hand, illustrations for the interior of a book should be approached a bit differently. They can be more quiet and thoughtful in their presentation, in terms of color mood and content, which is relative in the case of a book like Starship Troopers, naturally.
The goat pics turnout to be about more than making people go “awwwwww.”
The caprine fashionistas are featured on a calendar, the sales of which have benefited local organizations in Varanasi, India, where most of the images were taken.
Christy Sommers, who takes the photos, first noticed the cuteness that is clothed goats in 2010, while living in a village in northwestern Bangladesh as a Fulbright scholar studying rural primary education. Now she considers the project as adding “net happiness” to the world and helping to share a little slice of life from parts of the world that Americans don’t often get to see.
(21) THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY. Netflix dropped a trailer. The show airs February 15.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dale Arnold, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Jason, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, Alan Baumler, Steve Davidson, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society, sponsors of Balticon, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention is saddened to hear of the postponement of Universal FanCon as we had hoped to meet many fans at the fan table we had arranged at the convention. Because fandom is family we have decided to offer the following assistance to registered Universal FanCon attendees.
On Friday, April 27, 2018 we will host an impromptu social for Universal Fan Con registrants from 6:00pm till 9:00pm (or when folks want to leave) at the BSFS Building. Further Universal Fan Con registrants in Baltimore for the weekend are also invited to our Anime Social, Book Discussion and general Social Meeting on Saturday, April 28th and the Tabletop Role-Playing Game Event on April 29th all at the BSFS Building. Check our website at www.bsfs.org for details and directions.
In addition, this one time, we are breaking with our traditional policy of never offering discounts on Balticon membership. (Balticon will be held May 25-28, 2018) We can not change the online registration program at this late date, but anyone showing up at Balticon and buying a membership at the door will receive a 30% discount off the membership if they show printed proof they were registered at Universal Fan Con. Proof can be a receipt from Universal Fan Con, or a credit card statement showing payment etc…
Further, although we have the same number of dealers tables already sold as last year’s Balticon the dealers room manager will reduce the isle width back to the width used every year except last year to allow a few more tables. Any dealer not already in at Balticon, with printed proof of paying for a table at Universal Fan Con, will receive a 30% discount on our normal dealers table rate if space is available. For Universal Fan Con artists (with printed proof) wanting to exhibit at our art show, if they are not already exhibiting at Balticon, they will receive a 30% discount off art show hanging fees. (space available) Program participants can also ask to be on program and we will try, but time is getting short to fit more onto the schedule. To learn about participating in Balticon, Universal Fan Con registrants should check our website at www.balticon.org We hope these actions will help until Universal Fan Con can reschedule their event.
[This statement from the BSFS Board of Directors was submitted by BSFS President Dale Arnold.]
The 2018 Compton Crook / Stephen Tall Award nominees have been announced. The award is given by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy novel published during the previous year by an author new to the genre. The winner will be revealed at Balticon 51’s opening ceremonies on May 25.
The nominees are:
Nicky Drayden for The Prey of Gods published 6/13/2017 by Harper Voyager with ISBN-13: 978-0062493033
Elan Mastai for All Our Wrong Todays published 2/7/2017 by Dutton with ISBN-13: 978-1101985137
Robyn Bennis for The Guns Above: A Signal Airship Novel published 5/2/2017 by Macmillan with ISBN-13: 978-0765388766
Karin Tidbeck for Amatka published 6/27/2017 by Vintage with ISBN-13: 978-1101973950
Vic James for Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts) published 2/14/2017 by Del Rey with ISBN-13: 978-0425284155
Theodora Goss for The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club) published 6/20/2017 by Saga Press (Simon & Schuster) with ISBN-13: 978-1481466509
Cat Sparks for Lotus Blue published 3/7/2017 by Tabs with ISBN-13: 978-1940456706
Voting members of BSFS have until the end of April to send their votes to ComptonCrook@bsfs.org and remember only valid voting members of BSFS, not just Balticon members, can vote for this stage of the Crook Award. Final voting for the Award closes at the end of April and the winner will be announced soon thereafter. Congratulations to all of these fine authors.
More information on Balticon, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention, can be found at www.balticon.org
Past Compton Crook Award winners information can be found here.
Neal Stephenson, science fiction and futurist author, is the 2018 winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award. The award is bestowed for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space. This award is in recognition of Stephenson’s body of work, including his 15 novels and many non-fiction articles.
The award will be presented on the evening of Friday, May 25 at opening ceremonies during Balticon 52, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention. Stephenson will not be able to attend due to prior scheduled international travel. Accepting for Stephenson will be his editor, Jennifer Brehl of William Morrow an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Balticon and the Robert A. Heinlein Award are both managed and sponsored by The Baltimore Science Fiction Society. A grant from the Heinlein Society funds half of the costs associated with the award.
The Robert A. Heinlein Award is a sterling silver medallion bearing the image of Robert A. Heinlein, as depicted by artist Arlin Robbins. The medallion is matched with a red-white-blue lanyard. In addition, the winner receives two lapel pins for use when a large medallion is impractical, and a plaque describing the award, suitable for home or office wall display.
The Robert A. Heinlein Award selection committee consists of science fiction writers and was founded by Dr. Yoji Kondo, a long-time friend of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. Members of the original committee were approved by Virginia Heinlein. The current Chairman of the Selection Committee is Michael F. Flynn.
Virginia Heinlein authorized multiple awards in memory of her husband, including the Heinlein Prize, which is fully funded by Virginia Heinlein’s estate, and a National Space Society award for volunteer projects.
More information on the Robert A. Heinlein Award, including past winners, can be found here.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society announced that Balticon 51 Guest of Honor, Eric Flint, will not be able to travel to the con due to health constraints; he will, however, be attending some sessions via video teleconference.
Author and musician Steven Brust, the author of the Draegara fantasy novels, the Incrementalists secret-history series, To Reign In Hell, and Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grill will be coming to Balticon 51 as a Special Guest. A lot to look forward to — Brust’s resume reads: “I’m the author of twenty-six novels and one solo record. I’m an enthusiastic amateur drummer, guitarist, banjo player, and poker player.”
The 1632 MiniCon is still a go. While series creator Flint will be missing, all of the other contributors to the 1632 universe are still coming to Balticon 51, so the 1632 programming will carry on.
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer is the winner of the 2017 Compton Crook Award. The award is presented by the members of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society for the best first novel in the genre published during the previous year.
A check for $1,000 and a commemorative plaque will be presented to Palmer during Balticon 51’s Opening Ceremonies on May 26.
The award is named in memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who wrote under the name Stephen Tall, and who died in 1981. The award has been presented since 1983 and is also known as the Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Award.
More information on author Ada Palmer can be found at her website. An excerpt from the winning novel can be read here.
Arabella of Mars (the Adventures of Arabella Ashby) by David D. Levine, Tor Books
Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan, HarperTeen
Sleeping Giants (The Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel, Del Rey
Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota, Book 1) by Ada Palmer, Tor Books
Sleep State Interrupt by T.C. Weber, See Sharp Press
The award winner will be announced in May at Balticon 51.
The Compton Crook Award is presented by BSFS to the best first novel by an individual (no collaborations) published each year in the field of Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror. Selection is made by vote of the BSFS membership. The winner gets $1,000 and a commemorative plaque.
The Award is named for science fiction author Compton Crook (d. 1981), who wrote under the nom de plume Stephen Tall. The award has been given since 1983.