[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
(1) DARK MARK WALKED BACK? Christine Feehan tweeted another
update, saying that she “asked my trademark lawyer to withdraw all of the
current single word applications that have been filed and are causing so much distress.”
The statement, screencapped below, has been greeted with a mix of approval and skepticism
– see comments in the thread which starts here.
(2) MULAN. A second trailer for Disney’s Mulan dropped
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
… The Doctor Who and Broadchurch star is fronting the eight-part drama, which is produced by Slim Film + Television.
Following an outrageous bet, Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, played by rising French actor Ibrahim Koma, take on the legendary journey of circumnavigating the globe in just 80 days, swiftly joined by aspiring journalist Abigail Fix, played by The Crown’s Leonie Benesch, who seizes the chance to report on this extraordinary story.
Baltimore’s Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, where the famed 19th-century author and literary critic lived during the 1830s, has been named a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries, a nationwide advocacy group and division of the American Library Association.
The Poe House will be Maryland’s first Literary Landmark, but not the first involving Poe. Philadelphia’s Edgar Allan Poe House, one of several places the author called home while living in Philly, was added to the list in 1988. And a stuffed Grip, Charles Dickens’ pet raven and the inspiration (so many believe) for Poe’s poem (the one Baltimore named its NFL team after), resides in the Rare Books Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. It was named to the list in 1999.
The national registry of Literary Landmarks, begun in 1986, singles out sites and objects with special literary significance….
(5) EREWHON LIT SALON. Carlos
Hernandez and C.S.E. Cooney will be the readers at the Erewhon Literary Salon
on December 12. The event takes place in the
office of Erewhon Books in the Flatiron/NoMad district of Manhattan. For
full information and policies, and to
RSVP, click here. Event address
and information will be emailed to those who have RSVPed a few days before the
CARLOS HERNANDEZ is the author of over 40 SFF short stories, poems, and works of drama. His critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria came out in 2016 from Rosarium, and his middle-grade novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe was published by Disney Hyperion in 2019. Carlos is a CUNY professor of English and a game designer and enthusiast. Look for Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe in May 5, 2020.
C.S.E. COONEY is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories. Her work includes the Tor novella Desdemona and the Deep, three albums: Alecto! Alecto!, The Headless Bride, and Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir, and a poetry collection: How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes, which features her Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride.” Her short fiction can be found in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Sword and Sonnet anthology, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and elsewhere.
…There are more tricks available, but every solution boils down to three things: make sense, make it matter, and make it clear.
“Make sense” means that whatever you do needs to feel true. The disruption to the available speculative elements needs to be either baked into the world, or clearly explained, so that it doesn’t feel like the exception is just there to allow the story to be told (even though that’s totally why you did it)…
(7) RETRO LANDS IN
HOUSTON. The late Fritz Leiber won a Retro Hugo at Dublin 2019 –
it’s now safely ensiled at the University of Houston Libraries:
(8) WEINER OBIT. Canadian sff writer Andrew Weiner, whose
first published story was “Empire of the Sun” in Again, Dangerous Visions (1972),
died December 3. The family obituary is here.
He wrote three novels, Station Gehenna (1987), Getting Near the End (2000),
Among the Missing (2002), and many shorter
works. The first of his several short story collections was Distant Signals
and Other Stories (1990)
of Science Fiction’s John Clute says, ” Craftsmanlike,
witty and quietly substantial, Weiner never gained a reputation befitting his
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 5, 1954 – The Shadow radio show aired “Murder by Proxy”. Starring Bret Morrison as The Shadow (Lamont Cranston) Gertrude Warner as Margot Lane. The script was by Judith Bublick and David Bublick, who contributed many scripts during the last two years it was on the air. (This “Murder by Proxy” is not the same script as an earlier show of the same name.)
December 5, 1956 — Man Beast premiered. It was directed and produced by Jerry Warren. It starred Rock Madison and Asa Maynor. The film was distributed in the States as a double feature with Prehistoric Women. Critics generally intensely disliked, and it has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes.
December 5, 1980 — Flash Gordon premiered. Directed by Mike Hodges and produced by Dino De Laurentiis of Dune fame, it starred Sam Jones, Max von Sydow and Melody Anderson. Most critics sort of liked it although Clute at ESF definitely did not. It holds an 80% rating among viewers at Rotten Tomatoes and it did exceedingly well at the Box Office.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. (Died 1976.)
Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney . With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950) and Mary Poppins (1964), the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT). (Died 1966.)
Born December 5, 1921 — Alvy Moore. He shows up first in a genre role uncredited as Zippy in The War of the Worlds. (He was also uncredited in The Girls of Pleasure Island that same year.) He’s again uncredited, as a scientist this time, in The Invisible Boy (aka S.O.S Spaceship) and The Gnome-Mobile saw his continue that streak as a Gas Mechanic. The Brotherhood of Satan saw him get a credit role as did The Witchmaker, both all budget horror films. He’s listed as having co-written and produced, along with LQ Jones, A Boy and His Dog, the Ellison originated film. (Died 1997.)
Born December 5, 1936 — James Lee Burke, 83. This is one of the listings by ISFDB that has me going “Eh?” as to it being genre. The Dave Robicheaux series has no SFF elements in it and despite the title, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, neither does that novel. The character makes it clear that it’s likely he’s hallucinating. Great novel.
Born December 5, 1943 — Roger Robinson, 76. Owner of Beccon publications, a British small-press publisher specializing in SF and filk. He’s looked at filk (On the Filk Road), reviews (Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 by Gary K Wolfe), fiction (Elizabeth Hand’s Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol) and Fred Smith’s Once There was a Magazine ~~, a look at Unknown Magazine).
Born December 5, 1951 — Susan Palermo-Piscatello. SF Site in its obit said that she was “was active in fandom in the early 1970s, taking pictures that appeared in The Monster Times and working for the company that brought Japanese monster films, including Battle for the Planets and Time of the Apes to the US. She was among the first bartenders at CBGB and was in the band Cheap Perfume. She had recently returned to fandom after several years of gafiation.” (Died 2011.)
Born December 5, 1954 — Elizabeth R. Wollheim, 65. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction. DAW is, despite being headquartered at Penguin Random House, a small private company, owned exclusively by its publishers.
Born December 5, 1971 — Kali Rocha, 48. She is best remembered for her recurring role on Buffy as Anya’s vengeance demon friend, Halfrek, and as William the Bloody’s love interest, Cecily. She appeared with fellow Buffy alum Emma Caulfield in TiMER. And she’s in Space Station 76 which has remarkably good reviews.
Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 46. Her fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Born December 5, 1980 — Gabriel Luna, 39. He plays Robbie Reyes who is the Ghost Rider rather perfectly in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Much better I’d say than Nick Cage did in the films. He was also Terminator Rev-9 in Terminator: Dark Fate, and he did voice work for the BlackSite: Area 51 video game.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Lio finds it impossible to escape the long reach of Disney.
(12) PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS. In “A
Tube Map of SF&F Genres” Camestros Felapton has designed an irresistibly
amusing representation of the field.
As with any London Tube style map, distance on the map has no connection with distance in reality. Position is about how to make everything fit. I feel like it needs more stops on the big pink Fantasy circle line. Green stops allow you to change services to mainstream rail lines. Purple stops allow you to change to the horror tram services.
There is a foot tunnel between Cyber Punk and Steam Punk.
(13) A CHRISTMAS SUGGESTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] What to get the SF fan who has
nearly everything? SF²; Concatenation has a seasonal suggestion in their
advance-post (ahead of their spring edition) — Joel
Levy’s latest non-fiction: From Science Fiction to Science Fact: How
writers of the past invented our present, a colorful exploration of the
science fiction visions that came to be technological realities.
has recently been published under two different titles, one for each side of
the Pond. It is published in N. America as Reality Ahead of Schedule: How
Science Fiction Inspires Science Fact.
Packed with full
color illustrations and well researched, it is an ideal gift for fans of all
persuasion (or even a Christmas present to themselves). SF²; Concatenation
From Science Fiction to Science Fact may not be an encyclopaedic work, but there is sufficient here (and it is structured to be navigable) that those who personally like to study SF, as opposed to simply consuming it, will find this quite useful as a reference work of pointers. It will also be a welcome addition to any SF aficionado’s bookshelf if not coffee table. Here, the production values are high.
(14) IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE CW. [Item by Daniel
Dern.] Why (some of us) love the WB tv series
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow…
…because they do goofy great.
(15) GAHAN WILSON ON NPR. A nice snippet from a 1986 interview with Gahan Wilson from Fresh Air on NPR was replayed December 2 to commemorate Gahan after his recent passing. “The linked webpage has a transcript for those who do not wish to listen to the audio,” says Tom Boswell-Healey. “I think the audio is worthwhile as it contains Gahan’s verbal effects.”
GROSS: When you came to New York with your portfolio of cartoons and tried to sell them to magazines, was it hard to get in initially?
WILSON: Very. Very, yeah because I’m still regarded as sort of far-out in some circles, and at that point, I was really, really far out. And I mean, I was really bizarre. They – what I’d – what had happened to me was this singularly frustrating scene where the editors would say, look at this stuff, and they’d laugh at it hysterically and just think it was marvelous and compliment me on – this is – kid, you’re really great. This is great stuff, kid, but our readers would never understand it. And then they would hand it back to me. And that was my big block, was that they figured that I was beyond the – those jerks out there.
GROSS: Could you maybe describe a couple of those early cartoons?
WILSON: Oh, sure. Let’s see. There’s this fellow, and he’s in a cannibal pot. He’s being cooked. And he has a evil look on his face, and he has a bottle of poison, and he’s pouring the poison, and the water is being cooked in. And that was one. And then let me see – oh, they were – there was one where there’s this little kid, and he’s with his father, and they’re in a snowstorm. And there’s this dead bird on the snowbank with his feet in the air, and the little kid’s pointing at it. And he says look, Daddy – the first robin.
An unprecedented mission to venture close to the sun has revealed a strange region of space filled with rapidly flipping magnetic fields and rogue plasma waves.
These surprises are among just some of the first observations by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which blasted off last year to get up-close-and-personal with our nearest star.
Scientists say the findings, described in a series of reports in the journal Nature, could help explain long-standing mysteries — like why the sun’s extended atmosphere is hotter than its surface.
They also could help scientists better understand and predict solar storms that might disrupt vital artificial satellites that orbit our planet.
…From Earth, during a total solar eclipse, it’s easy to see the sun’s corona, an aura of plasma that is the sun’s outer atmosphere. The Parker Solar Probe is designed to plow through the corona with instruments that measure magnetic fields, plasma, and energetic particles.
All of this lets researchers explore the origin of the solar wind, charged particles that continually spew out of the sun.
It turns out that close to the sun, the wind seems to get sped up by powerful, rogue waves that move through the magnetic field, says Kasper.
“We’d see suddenly a spike in flow, where in just a couple seconds the solar wind would start flowing 300,000 miles an hour faster,” he says.
A newly discovered planet offers new insights into the Solar System after the Sun reaches the end of its life in 5-6 billion years.
Astronomers observed a giant planet orbiting a white dwarf, the small, dense objects some stars become once they have exhausted their nuclear fuel.
It’s the first direct evidence planets can survive the cataclysmic process that creates a white dwarf.
Details of the discovery appear in the journal Nature.
The Solar System as we know it won’t be around forever. In about six billion years, the Sun, a medium-size yellow star, will have puffed up to about two hundred times its current size. In this phase, our parent star will be known as a Red Giant.
As it expands, it will swallow and destroy the Earth before collapsing into a small core – the white dwarf.
Researchers discovered a white dwarf that lies 2,000 light-years away had a giant planet thought to be about the size of Neptune (though it could be larger) in orbit around it.
“The white dwarf we’re looking at is about 30,000 Kelvin, or 30,000C. So if we compare the Sun, the Sun is 6,000 – almost five times as hot. This means it’s going to be producing a lot more UV radiation than the Sun,” said Dr Christopher Manser, from the University of Warwick.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborvilleis getting into the spirit with a snowy present-filled makeover of Giddy Park, a social hub where plant and zombie players can mingle and duke it out. Alongside update 1.03, PopCap went ahead and booked Sir Patrick Stewart to recite a festive poem.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John
King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie, Tom Boswell- Healey,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
I’d love to write a lot of inspirational entries about still being alive but Buffy the Vampire Slayer was right when she said, ‘The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.’ It’s also the busiest. I’ve been so busy continuing to be alive, I haven’t had time to wax rhapsodic about continuing to be alive.
That my sound sarcastic but in truth, I wish I could. I wish I could tell you that every glitch and inconvenience, every little (and not so little) ache and pain, every boring chore and utterly grey day is a reminder that it’s still great to be alive and to know that I’m going to be alive for some indefinite period of time.
Cancer and I have reached a stand-off that puts it in the background of my life. In fact, it’s so much in the background that I really do forget I have it.
This is a collection of memories, a spontaneous burst of creative works, a celebration of Mexicanx creators and fans, and a documentation of something that started with passion and a vision and grew into so much more.
The Mexicanx Initiative, started by Worldcon 76 Artist Guest of Honor, John Picacio, and sponsored by many wonderful and caring members of the Worldcon community, brought 42 Mexican and Mexican-American people to San Jose, California in August of 2018 to attend Worldcon 76.
Stories, essays, food, poems, art, and so much more were born of this experience….
In the introduction to How Long ‘til Black Future Month?, you write that short stories presented a way for you to work out techniques and consider perspectives without the commitment of a novel. What else do short stories offer you that the novel doesn’t?
Really, that’s the main thing. You’re still putting a pretty hefty mental commitment into making a short story. Even though it’s relatively brief, you still have to come up with a world that’s coherent. I find short stories almost as difficult to write as novels, it’s just less time-consuming. Short stories are hard for me. That’s why the collection is something like fifteen years worth of short stories. They asked me to write several new ones for the collection and I was just like, Not likely to happen. In fact, I can really only write them when I’m between novels because they take away from whatever energy I’m trying to pour into a novel.
I have the distinct joy to hand off the role of editor to Elora Gatts, recently of PodCastle. She is a keen and insightful reader and I can’t wait to read the stories she picks for the zine.
(5) A FUTURE WITHOUT HER. Wow. No sooner did she introduce The Verge’s “Better Worlds” than she was out.
media is cutthroat etc. but it feels absolutely wild to see the verge promoting their flashy, v cool new project on the same day that the editor of said project reveals she's been laid off by the verge? we are an industry of sociopaths pic.twitter.com/9vFwxScat4
(6) NYRSF’S TWELFTHMONTH. With the aid of C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez, the New York Review of SF Readings Series maintains its tradition of having families perform at the December gathering.
The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series provides performances from some of the best writers in science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, etc. The series usually takes place the first Tuesday of every month,
C.S.E. Cooney lives and writes in the Borough of Queens. She is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, a Rhysling Award-winning poet, and the author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories (Mythic Delirium 2015). Her recent short fiction can be found in Sword and Sonnet, an anthology of battle poets, and in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Carlos Hernandez is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and most recently, as part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney Hyperion, the novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019). By day, Carlos is an associate professor of English at the City University of New York, with appointments at BMCC and the Graduate Center, and a game designer and enthusiast. Catch him on Twitter @writeteachplay.
The event takes place December 11 at the Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7
(7) THE HUMANITY BUREAU. A dystopian thriller set in the year 2030 that sees the world in a permanent state of economic recession and facing serious environmental problems as a result of global warming. The film, starring, Nicolas Cage, Sarah Lind, and Jakob Davies, [correction] was released in April 2018.
(8) NEW CAR SPELL. When John Scalzi went to shift to a higher gear he discovered he’d already used his quota.
(I did check the online MINI store to see if there was a replacement there. There was not, or at least not for this model, with a manual. SO, I think that triggers the "whole new replacement model" clause.)
Born December 7, 1945 – Clive Russell. Currently Brynden Tully in Game of Thrones. Other genre roles include but are not limited to Helfdane in The 13th Warrior (a retelling of Beowulf), Mr. Vandemar in the Neverwhere series, Lancelot’s Father in King Arthur, Bayard in the Merlin series, Maqueen in the 2010 remake of the classic 1941 film The Wolfman, and Tyr in Thor: The Dark World.
Born December 7, 1945 – W.D. Richter. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
Born December 7, 1965 – Jeffrey Wright. Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace which I rather liked, Beetee in The Hunger Games films which I’ve not seen, and played the real-life Sidney Bechet in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a series I adored.
Born December 7, 1978 – Kristofer Hivju. His first genre role was as Jonas in The Thing, based on the John W. Campbell novella Who Goes There?, and it is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter. He next shows up as an unnamed security chief in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. He’s currently Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones.
Born December 7, 1979 – Jennifer Carpenter. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to Awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…
Born December 7, 1989 – Nicholas Hoult. His first genre role was as Eusebios in Clash of the Titans which was a 2010 remake of of the 1981 film of the same name. He went on to play The Beast aka Hank McCoy in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse. Other roles included that of Jack in Jack the Giant Slayer, followed by a role in Mad Max: Fury Road as Nux, and he’s slated to be in the forthcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
John Krasinski knew he had a potential hit on his hands when he attended a test screening for “A Quiet Place.” A horror movie about a family battling largely unseen creatures who attack at the slightest noise, the film transpires with no verbal dialogue: The characters communicate with American Sign Language, or through meaningful glances and gestures. This wasn’t Krasinski’s first effort as a director; still, he and his wife, Emily Blunt — who play the parents in “A Quiet Place” — weren’t sure audiences would accept a genre picture that harked back to cinema’s silent roots more than its special effects-driven present.
From 1958 to 1962, illustrator and futurist Arthur Radebaugh thrilled newspaper readers with his weekly syndicated visions of the future, in a Sunday strip enticingly called “Closer Than We Think”.
Radebaugh was a commercial illustrator in Detroit when he began experimenting with imagery—fantastical skyscrapers and futuristic, streamlined cars—that he later described as “halfway between science fiction and designs for modern living.” Radebaugh’s career took a downward turn in the mid-1950s, as photography began to usurp illustrations in the advertising world. But he found a new outlet for his visions when he began illustrating a syndicated Sunday comic strip, “Closer Than We Think,” which debuted on January 12, 1958—just months after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik—with a portrayal of a “Satellite Space Station.” …
15. Electronic Home Library
The media library of the future was going to be rich and varied. But there’s something a bit off about this prediction from 1959. Maybe it’s the film canisters lining the shelves. Or maybe it’s the 3D-TV sans glasses that Pop is watching. Or maybe it’s the fact that Mother is reading a book on the ceiling in what looks like the most uncomfortable way to read a book of all time.
(12) TREK BEHIND THE SCENES. Titan Comics has released Star Trek: Epic Episodes, a special collection of the best of Star Trek Magazine focusing on the stunning 2-part episodes and landmark episodes of both Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Presenting cast and crew interviews, guides, behind the scenes exclusives and revelations on the making of everyone’s favorite epic episodes
(13) SPEAK, MEMORY.
This is how bad my attention span is today: a) I email myself my current novel draft, as one of my many reiterative backups b) wait three seconds c) an email sound d) excitement as I wonder who emailed me, and then I check, and OH YEAH it was me, three fucking seconds ago
In the space of weeks, Marvel went from proudly announcing a new Darth Vader miniseries at New York Comic Con to scrapping the whole thing entirely. Now, less than a month later, they’ve already found a replacement.
Marvel has announced—via the official Star Wars website—Vader: Dark Visions, a new limited miniseries that will launch in March. That’s just two months after the Chuck-Wendig-penned Shadow of Vader miniseries was set to originally debut. Instead, days after its announcement in October, Marvel fired the writer from the project three issues in, with Wendig citing internal concern at the publisher over his political commentary on social media as a primary reason for his exit.
Empire of Sand is an immersive and compulsively readable epic fantasy that draws on traditions and cultures and milieus, the Mughal Empire, a culture and heritage hitherto rarely seen in the Western fantasy tradition.
This week’s books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles” —
Frank Babics: The Reality Trip and Other Implausibilities by Robert Silverberg
Les Blatt: Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh
Elgin Bleecker: Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop
Brian Busby: Maclean’s, December 1918, edited by Thomas B. Costain (and featuring Robert Service’s poem “The Wife”)
Alice Chang: All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi
Martin Edwards: On Suspicion by “David Fletcher” (Dulan Barber)
Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics: December 1973 and the best of ’73
Will Errickson: Winter Wolves by Earle Westcott
Curtis Evans: Scared to Death and Death in the Round by Anne Morice
Paul Fraser: New Worlds, June 1965, edited by Michael Moorcock and Langdon Jones
Barry Gardner: Beggar’s Choice by Jerry Kennealy
John Grant: The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich; A Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh; The House by the Lock by A. M. Williamson
James Wallace Harris: Friday by Robert Heinlein
Rich Horton: Where I Wasn’t Going (aka Challenge the Hellmaker) by Walt and Leigh Richmond; Absolute Uncertainty (and other stories) by Lucy Sussex; some short fiction by John Crowley
Jerry House: Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines by Ray Bradbury
Kate Jackson: Courtier to Death by “Anthony Gilbert” (Lucy Malleson); Murder by Matchlight by E. C. R. Lorac
Tracy K: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger
Colman Keane; The First Short Story Collection by “Anonymous-9” (Elaine Ash)
George Kelley: The Great SF Stories 4 edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
Joe Kenney: Glimpses by Lewis Shiner
Margot Kinberg: The Invisible Onesby Stef Penney
Rob Kitchin: Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
B.V. Lawson: Five Passengers from Lisbon by Mignon G. Eberhart
Evan Lewis: Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard by L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin; Carmine Infantino et al.: “Charlie Chan: The Hit and Run Murder Case” (Charlie Chan, June/July 1948)
Jonathan Lewis: The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
Steve Lewis: Behold, Here’s Poison by Georgette Heyer; Blood Shot by Sara Paretsky; “Double Dare” by Robert Silverberg (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1956); “The Silver Mask Murders” by Erle Stanley Gardner (Detective Fiction Weekly, 23 November 1935)
Mike Lind: The Moving Target by “Ross Macdonald” (Kenneth Millar)
Gideon Marcus: Gamma, July 1963, edited by Charles Fritch
Todd Mason: some 1963 and 1973 fantasy magazines: Gamma, July 1963, edited by Charles Fritch; Magazine of Horror, August 1963, edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes; Fantastic, September 1973, edited by Ted White; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1973, edited by Edward Ferman; The Haunt of Horror, August 1973, edited by Gerard F. Conway
Francis M. Nevins: Q.E.D., Hell-Gate Tides and Dead End Street by [Emma] Lee Thayer
John F. Norris: Death at the Wheel by Vernon Loder
John O’Neill: The Fungus by “Harry Adam Knight” (John Brosnan and Leroy Kettle, in this case)
Matt Paust: Death of a Dissident by Stuart Kaminsky
James Reasoner: A Day Which Will Live in Infamy edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg
Richard Robinson: Stakeout on Page Street by Joe Gores
Gerard Saylor: The Zealot by Simon Scarrow
Jack Seabrook: “And the Desert Shall Blossom” by Loren D. Good (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 1958)
Steven H. Silver: “The Tweener” by Leigh Brackett; “Worlds within Worlds” by Roger Dee; “The Power of Kings” by John DeCles; “Intaglio” by Kurt R. A. Giambastiani; “In the Bosom of His Family” by John Dalmas; “Death in Transit” by Jerry Sohl; “Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction” by Jo Walton
Kerrie Smith: The Honourable Thiefby Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
Kevin Tipple: Snowjob by Ted Wood
“TomCat”: The Strawstack Murder Case by Kirke Mechem
Danielle Torres: Singing in Tune with Time: Stories and Poems About Ageingedited by Elizabeth Cairns
Prashant Trikannad: Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
David Vineyard: The Darkness at Windon Manor by “Max Brand” (Frederick Faust)
A.J. Wright: the work of W. C./William Chambers Morrow
Matthew Wuertz: Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1954, edited by H. L. Gold
Extraordinary ensemble includes the hero metal Cirrus X3 Art Deco-styled “flame” rocket pack with leather harness and buckles, glove with built-in ignition trigger, signature leather jacket, fireproof stunt jodhpur pants, and a production made signature Rocketeer helmet.
Hark! The herald pixels scroll
“The comment section’s free of trolls!
Double fifths and sevens filed
Dog and shoggoth reconciled.”
Joyful, all you Filers rise,
For new books are on half-price;
When a typo you proclaim
Of libations appertain.
Hark! The herald pixels file,
Rotating the WABAC dial,
“From Mount Tsundoku’s overlook
I see cats sitting on my books.”
And I’m told Anna Nimmhaus has been singing:
Oh my little pixel scroll,
I’ll comment to you.
You were my first love,
And you’ll be my fifth love,
You won’t lack for egoboo,
I’ll comment to you.
In this whole world
Each day one scroll’s unfurled,
Let me help it unfurl.
I’ll comment to you.
Possibly inspired by the Shirelles’ hit song “Soldier Boy” (F. Green & L. Dixon, 1962)
(20) CALL ME WHATSISNAME. Could it be… Moby Dick in space? In theaters December 14.
When a deep space fishing vessel is robbed by a gang of pirates, the Captain (Holt McCallany) makes a daring decision to go after a rare and nearly extinct species. On the hunt, his obsession propels them further into space and danger as the crew spins into a downward spiral of mutiny and betrayal.
[Thanks to Paul Di Filippo, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
In ten years, BCS has published over 550 stories and 225 audio podcasts; the magazine or its stories have been finalists for seven Hugo Awards, nine World Fantasy Awards, three Nebula Awards, and numerous other short fiction, magazine, and podcast awards.
The evening’s host will be Scott H. Andrews. Featured authors will be: Fran Wilde, Martin Cahill, Seth Dickinson, Jonathan Edelstein, Rose Lemberg (read by C.S.E. Cooney), & Aliette de Bodard (read by Scott H. Andrews)
Scott H. Andrews
Scott H. Andrews
Scott H. Andrews is a writer, editor, chemistry lecturer, musician, woodworker, and connoisseur of stouts. His literary short fiction has won a $1,000 prize from the Briar Cliff Review, and his genre short fiction has appeared in Ann VanderMeer’s Weird Tales and in On Spec. He is editor-in-chief and publisher of the four-time Hugo Award-finalist fantasy e-zine Beneath Ceaseless Skies and its five-time Parsec Award finalist podcast. Scott lives in Virginia with his wife, two cats, 11 guitars, a dozen overflowing bookcases, and hundreds of beer bottles from all over the world.
Fran Wilde. Photo by Bryan Derballa
Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. She can also tie a bunch of sailing knots, set gemstones, and program digital minions. Her novels and short stories have been finalists for three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and two Hugo Awards, and include her Andre Norton- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel Updraft, its sequels Cloudbound, and Horizon, and the Nebula-, Hugo-, and Locus-nominated novelette The Jewel and Her Lapidary. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. Her poetry has appeared in The Marlboro Review, Articulate, and Poetry Baltimore. She holds an MFA in poetry and an MA in information architecture and interaction design. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and at FranWilde.net.
Martin Cahill is a writer working in Manhattan and living in Astoria, Queens. He is a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Writers’ Workshop and a member of the New York City based writing group, Altered Fluid. He has had fiction published in Fireside Fiction, Nightmare, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, and Lightspeed. Martin also writes non-fiction reviews, articles, and essays for Book Riot, Tor.com, the Barnes & Noble Sci-fi and Fantasy Blog, and Strange Horizons.
Seth Dickinson’s debut novel The Traitor Baru Cormorant (2015), a hard fantasy expansion of a 2011 short story in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, is about a brilliant young woman who sets out to gain power to subvert an empire from within. It won praise from Publishers Weekly and NPR, and its sequel, The Monster Baru Cormorant, is forthcoming in October 2018. Seth’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and nearly every other major science fiction and fantasy market. He’s a lapsed student of social neuroscience, where he studied the role of racial bias in police shootings, and the writer of much of the lore and fictional flavor for Bungie Studios’ smash hit Destiny. In his spare time he works on the collaborative space opera Blue Planet: War in Heaven.
Jonathan Edelstein is forty-six years old, married with cat, and living in New York City. His work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Lacuna Journal, and multiple times in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and he blogs occasionally at haibane.info/author/jonnaomi/. He counts Ursula Le Guin and Bernard Cornwell among his inspirations, and when he isn’t writing, he practices law and hopes someday to get it right.
Rose Lemberg is a queer immigrant from Eastern Europe. Their work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Interfictions, Uncanny, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, and multiple times in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among other venues, and their story “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies was a finalist for the Nebula Awards. Rose co-edits Stone Telling, a magazine of boundary-crossing poetry, with Shweta Narayan. They have edited Here, We Cross, an anthology of queer and gender-fluid speculative poetry from Stone Telling and The Moment of Change, an anthology of feminist speculative poetry. You can find Rose at roselemberg.net and @roselemberg, including links to their page on Patreon, where they post about Birdverse, the world in which their BCS stories and others take place. Rose Lemberg’s work will be read by C.S.E. Cooney.
C.S.E. Cooney is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning short fiction collection Bone Swans: Stories.
Aliette de Bodard
Aliette de Bodard
Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories which have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective, a murder mystery set on a space station in a Vietnamese Galactic empire and inspired by the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist) and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns. Visit her at aliettedebodard.com for writing process and Franco-Vietnamese cooking. Aliette de Bodard’s work will be read by Scott H. Andrews.
Jim Freund is Producer and Executive Curator of The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings.
Tuesday, October 2nd
Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7
The Brooklyn Commons Café
388 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.)
The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series provides performances from some of the best writers in science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, etc. The series usually takes place the first Tuesday of every month.
Only after seeing Star Wars did I begin reading literary science fiction and discover that the film not only wasn’t overly original, but that George Lucas had borrowed his themes and motifs from a number of genre sources. Among these was what is likely the first space opera as readers would recognize the genre, The Skylark of Space by E. E. “Doc” Smith, published in Amazing Stories in 1928.
There are a number of earlier stories which can lay claim to being space operas, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ highly influential Barsoom series, featuring his famous hero John Carter of Mars. But E.E. Smith introduced something different with Skylark: true interstellar travel and space ships combined with adventures on other planets. He continued this trend with his influential Lensman series of stories.
He also introduced mediocre writing and poor science, with the space engine at the center of his Skylark adventures powered by copper which is magically transformed when connected to an unknown “element X.” But if the heart of the ship’s space drive made no sense, the heart of the story resonated with readers. They ate it up.
As did other authors, who began playing in the space opera sandbox of stars, mixing romance with the clash of civilizations and interstellar drama and action. Authors such as Leigh Brackett (known as the “Queen of Space Opera”) and C. L. Moore filled the pulp magazines with these exciting stories. As did A. E. van Vogt, who published the well-known novel The World of Null-A. Even Isaac Asimov space opera’ed away with his extremely influential Foundation series. These space operas and many more set the stage for the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
(2) FLINT ON THE COVER. An excerpt from his interview in the December issue of Locus, “Eric Flint: Remaking History”, has been posted at Locus Online.
‘‘I’ve been a full-time author since the end of 1999. I never had a job that lasted more than five years. I thought about it the other day. Of course, I’m 69, so I don’t know that anybody would want to hire me as a machinist. If I wanted to go back to work in a factory, I couldn’t put together a résumé because most of the places I’ve worked have gone out of business. It’s ironic for me, being a writer, but that’s partly because I stayed on topic. Jim Baen once said to me, ‘You know, I’m surprised. For a commie, you haven’t made any career mistakes.’ I said, ‘Jim, it’s because I’m never caught off-guard when capitalism lives down to my expectations.’ I’ll give him credit: he laughed. He thought that was funny. I’ve had a very successful career.
‘‘Andre Norton’s prose is pedestrian, and I hear her rough drafts were even worse, and she needed a lot of editing. Nevertheless, she had one of the most successful careers in the field, because she was a terrific storyteller. I like to think that I write better than that, but, like her, I’m first and foremost a storyteller. I can teach the craft of writing, but what I cannot do is tell someone how to make a good story. I have a good friend, a photographer, and he used to be a professional for years. It’s not his eyesight – he’s got terrible eyesight. It’s just that he can look at something, and I’ll see exactly the same thing he’s looking at, but he can see that if you framed it this way, it’d be a great picture. I can’t see the frame. That’s what a storyteller does, is frame a sequence of events in such a way that there’s a point to it, it makes sense, and you go somewhere with it. I don’t know how you teach that.”
(3) GRAPHIC NOVELS. Comixology has put together its list of 50 Essential Graphic Novels which, coincidentally, they would love to sell you.
Miyazaki has tried to retire – reportedly at least six times – but it appears he is not finished telling his stories. Since last year he has been working on a short film called Boro the Caterpillar, based on a story in development for two decades.
Last month he said it would be turned into a full-length film, which may only be released in 2021 – he will be 80 years old by then.
When she was in third grade, Claire Cooney wrote her first musical. When she was in sixth grade, she wrote her first novel.
When she was 33, she was nominated for a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America-sponsored Nebula Award for her first novella, “The Bone Swans of Amandale.”
In October the soon-to-be 35-year-old Westerly resident earned another feather for her colorful cap. She won the 2016 World Fantasy Award for “Bone Swans: Stories,” in the Best Short Story Collection category.
“I had no expectation of winning so I didn’t prepare any comments,” said Cooney, whose stories take readers on fantastical journeys through reimagined fairy tales and myths. “I just sat there saying ‘No way’ … until my friends started screaming.”
MLB promotions are always a joy, but the Minors are where the most unique promotions are going to be. Teams routinely honor ’90s cartoons, give away weird bobbleheads and have the best and strangest between-innings contests.
But even in the world of zany promotions, we still must separate the wheat from the chaff. These were 10 of our favorite promotions from the last year….
Altoona Curve – Jar Jar Binks jerseys
Given that “Star Wars” might be the most successful and profitable film franchise of all-time (somehow more than Space Jam), it makes sense that plenty of teams at both the Minor and Major League level host nights devoted to the space opera. But only the Altoona Curve, the Double-A affiliate of the Pirates, were willing to look back at that cruelly overlooked and maligned character: Jar Jar Binks.
Episode 11 of the Ray Harryhausen Podcast sees us interview Alan Friswell, the Foundation’s official conservator, about the work he has carried out in maintaining Ray’s models for future generations.
Listen to Alan speak about how he ended up working with Ray, and the amazing models which he has restored over the years, including most recently the original latex model of ‘Gwangi!’
(9) MTV FOR MILLENNIALS. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Swann reports that MTV is rebroadcasting Clone High, a 2003 cartoon about “historical figures resurrected as part of a government experiment (that) return to high school” because it’s part of a plan to bring back any show that appeals to cord-cutting Millennials who liked to watch cartoons as kids. The show was one of the first projects of Chris Miller, who went on to co-create The Lego Movie and The Last Man on Earth — “Feeding the nostalgia beast: MTV and other networks bring back their vintage shows”.
Abraham Lincoln spent the entire summer growing out his sideburns in the hopes of impressing Cleopatra, but it was a goth-styled Joan of Arc who yearned for his attention at John F. Kennedy’s back-to-school kegger.
Such was the plot of the pilot for “Clone High,” an animated teen comedy series whose premise was so absurd — historical figures cloned as part of a government experiment return to high school — that it could have only been produced by MTV in 2003. The network was experimenting in its attempt to find a follow-up to “Daria,” which also championed teen misfits and social outcasts. But “Clone High” never caught on; it was canceled after just 13 episodes.
“It was just like the kookiest idea ever, but that show was gone, lost,” says Erik Flannigan, executive vice president of music and multiplatform strategy for MTV. He’d all but forgotten about its existence until meeting Chris Miller, the series’ co-creator (better known as co-director of “The Lego Movie”) when their children attended the same kindergarten in Los Angeles. Around the same time, MTV was undertaking a massive archiving project, working with the data management company Iron Mountain to digitize its assets, eventually spurring Flannigan and his colleagues to launch a new network centered entirely on old content.
(10) A LITTLE SUNDAY MAGIC. Chris Pratt (Star-Lord) entertained with this card trick on The Graham Norton Show.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
Apex Magazine Issue 86 features original stories by Jennifer Giesbrecht (“Lazarus and the Amazing Kid Phoenix”) and Christopher Shultz (“Starpower”), plus a reprint by C.S.E. Cooney (“The Big Bah-Ha”).
The poetry is by David Jibson, Rodney Gomez, Jon Olson, and Chris Phillips.
Michael A. Burstein supplied the nonfiction feature “Star Trek: The Official Guide to Our Universe: Interview with Andrew Fazekas.”
There are interviews with Jennifer Giesbrecht and cover artist Sunny Ray.
The entire issue will be released over the month on the Apex Magazine website– see the release dates below — or can be purchased for only $2.99 as a nicely formatted eBook. Subscriptions are also available direct from Apex, Weightless Books, and Amazon.
This month’s podcast will be delayed until July 12. Episode #37 will be the first with new producer and narrator, Mahvesh Murad, and will feature “Lazarus and the Amazing Kid Phoenix” by Jennifer Giesbrecht.
By Mark L. Blackman: On the still-wintry-cold evening of Tuesday, April 5 the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series, heading into the “home stretch” of its 25th Anniversary Season, hosted a launch party for the anthology Clockwork Phoenix 5 at its venue The Commons Café in Brooklyn. Guest-emcee was Mike Allen, editor of the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, as well as of Mythic Delirium magazine and, in addition, a Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award finalist and winner of three Rhysling Awards for poetry. The occasion featured readings from seven(!) of the contributors to the volume. (A beautiful, full-color program spotlighting the anthology and the septet of readers was crafted by Series producer/executive curator Jim Freund.)
The festivities opened with the customary welcome from Freund, longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy. The show broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 am and worldwide at wbai.org, and for a time afterwards may be heard on-demand as well as an RSS feed for podcasts. Additionally, the Readings stream live via Livestream – this evening was, in essence, a broadcast – where they remain archived for a period of time, and may be accessed by going to Livestream.com and searching for NYRSF. (Here is the link to tonight’s Readings.)
The Readings Series, Freund reminded us, is supported entirely by donations. They are free, but there is a suggested contribution of $7.) Next month’s event, on May 3, he announced, will be a play, a project by Andrea Hairston and Pan Morigan; and on June 7 a gala will celebrate Space & Time Magazine’s 50th anniversary, with Gordon Linzner and Hildy Silverman. He concluded by thanking Terence Taylor, the Series’ technical director, and the Café’s landlady, Melissa Ennen. The Café, he noted, now has a special menu for us as well as table service, and directed attention to its menu. Not remarked on was the change in décor, the room’s long tables replaced by small, two-person round tables. This would prove difficult in a full house. Finally, Freund turned hosting duties over to Mike Allen.
Tonight was not only a launch party for Clockwork Phoenix 5, said Allen, but its actual all-over-the-world launch day. He described how great it was to edit the anthologies, and how proud he was that the fantastic stories don’t easily fit in commercial categories. They have an offbeat feel and a powerful emotional impact. Those in Clockwork Phoenix 5 explore the intersection between love and death. All five volumes, indicated Allen, were for sale here. He nodded to the volume’s cover artist, Paula Arwen Owen (she too should be asked to autograph the book, he said), before introducing the first reader in what Freund had quipped was “a cast of thousands.”
Brooklynite Rob Cameron paused from “working on his Buddha-like glow” to read “Squeeze.” The narrator, in the throes of lost love, encounters a ghost-child on the #7 train (much of the audience was familiar with the 7, which runs between Mid-Manhattan and Flushing, Queens) that only he and an African woman with one arm (and a phantom limb) can see.
Next to read was South Asian fantasy writer Shveta Thakrar. In her charming story, “By Thread of Night and Starlight Needle,” a twin brother and sister consult a plain-speaking witch, their requests revealing both their similarity and their differences. The tale included footnotes, perhaps indicating how influential Terry Pratchett was.
The third reader was Barbara Krasnoff, a very familiar face at the NYRSF Readings, another Brooklynite, and, in Allen’s words, “a repeat offender,” having appeared also in Clockwork Phoenix 2 and 4. Having read from her story, “Sabbath Wine,” here just two months earlier, she opted for sharing a different portion of it. In the story, set in Brownsville, Brooklyn in 1920, a pre-adolescent Jewish girl befriends a black boy, who tells her that he’s dead, and invites him to her home for a full-ceremonial Sabbath dinner. Her loving father, who has abandoned religion for radicalism, nevertheless gives in to her entreaty and goes off to obtain the titular kosher wine, a task complicated by it being the Prohibition Era and the local rabbi being only all-too-aware of his irreligiosity. Needless to say, the two argue, and her father seeks out the boy’s father, a bootlegger. (Some of us recall the story’s heartrending ending.)
During the intermission, there was a raffle drawing with the first two prizes a grab bag from Mythic Delirium and the grand prize “a real doozy,” all five volumes of Clockwork Phoenix.
Resuming, Allen introduced the next reader, Sonya Taaffe, a short fiction writer and award-winning poet. (It is noteworthy that several of the guests were poets. Taaffe’s biography also notes that she once named a Kuiper Belt Object.) In “The Trinitite Golem,” J. Robert Oppenheimer, who had headed the Manhattan Project, here already under surveillance by the FBI and on the verge of losing his security clearance, is visited by the titular creature who asks him to “undo” him.
A.C. Wise was another “a repeat offender,” having been represented also in Clockwork Phoenix 4, and is the author of the recently published debut collection The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again. Her offering, “A Guide to Birds by Song (After Death),” was beautiful and eerie, as a woman tries to understand her lover’s suicide through her typed manuscript. “Absence shapes the world around it.”
The final reading of the evening was a “fun” collaboration between C.S.E Cooney, a Nebula Award nominee for “Bone Swans” and, like Allen, a Rhysling Award-winning poet (for “The Sea King’s Second Bride”), and Carlos Hernandez, author of the short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria. The two met at Readercon a couple of years ago and their story, “The Book of May,” began as a Facebook dare. In a series of e-mail exchanges with her old D&D buddy (with Cooney and Hernandez enlivening their respective parts), a young woman with a brain tumor muses about what type of tree she wants to become after death, an oak?, a sugar maple? Amid the underlying sadness there were shifts to hysterical, laugh-out-loud bits that brilliantly illuminated the protagonists’ deep friendship.
Allen returned to the podium to be presented by Freund with a suitably decorated apple cake for him and the readers. (For the audience, it was, as someone near me quipped, “Let them watch cake.”)
As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, while the Café saw to “wining, dining and other worldly needs.”
It was a record-breaking crowd of about 90 – the Series biggest turnout ever – and not all were readers or even contributors to Clockwork Phoenix. Included among the audience were (to name a small few) Melissa C. Beckman, Richard Bowes, Amy Goldschlager (filling in as ticket-taker for Barbara), Lynn Cohen Koehler, Ellen Kushner, John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Gordon Linzner, James Ryan, Delia Sherman and Terence Taylor. Afterward, many stuck around to schmooze, and some adjourned to the Café.
The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings 25th Anniversary Season continues April 5 with a half dozen contributing authors and the editor of Clockwork Phoenix 5. The location is The Commons Café at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Doors open 6:30 p.m. $7 suggested donation.
Mike Allen is editor of Mythic Delirium magazine and the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, and author of the short story collections Unseamingand The Spider Tapestries. He is a Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award finalist and winner of three Rhysling Awards for poetry. Allen posts about his writing exploits at Descent Into Light.
Writer Cameron Roberson (Cam Rob) of Brooklyn SF Writers group & Kaleidocast 02/28/16
Rob Cameron is an elementary school teacher and writer living in Brooklyn. When he’s not writing stories, organizing events for the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers, or producing the Kaleidocast, BSFW’s audio magazine podcast, he is rock climbing, dragon boating, and working on his Buddha-like glow.
C.S.E. Cooney (csecooney.com) is the author of Bone Swans: Stories (Mythic Delirium 2015), the title story of which is a Nebula Award nominee and will feature in Paula Guran’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas. She is the author of the Dark Breakers series, Jack o’ the Hills, The Witch in the Almond Tree, and a poetry collection called How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes, which includes her Rhysling Award-winning poem “The Sea King’s Second Bride.”
Carlos Hernandez is the author of the short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria. He’s also a college professor and a game designer interested in new media and new narrative forms.
Barbara Krasnoff has sold over 30 pieces of short fiction to a wide variety of publications and is working on a novel. Barbara is also the author of a YA non-fiction book, Robots: Reel to Real, and is currently Sr. Reviews Editor for Computerworld. She is a member of the NYC writers group Tabula Rasa, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her website is BrooklynWriter.com.
Sonya Taaffe’s short fiction and award-winning poetry has appeared in multiple venues, including The Humanity of Monsters, Genius Loci, and Dreams from the Witch House. Her most recent collection is Ghost Signs (Aqueduct Press). She is currently senior poetry editor for Strange Horizons and once named a Kuiper belt object.
Shveta Thakrar’s work can be found in Flash Fiction Online, Interfictions Online, Clockwork Phoenix 5, Mythic Delirium,Uncanny, Faerie, Strange Horizons, Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, and Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories.
A.C. Wise‘s fiction has appeared in Clockwork Phoenix 4, Clarkesworld, and Shimmer, among other places. Her debut collection, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again, was published by Lethe Press in October 2015. Find her online at acwise.net.