2019 WSFA Small Press Award Taking Submissions

The Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association (WSFA) has announced that the submission period for the 2019 WSFA Small Press Award is open. Entries will be taken through April 7, 2019.

The WSFA Small Press Award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2018). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association and presented at their annual convention, Capclave, held on October 18-20, 2019.

Submissions should be sent to admin@wsfasmallpressaward.org

See The Rules webpage for details.

Pixel Scroll 10/30/18 Steamy Pixels – Coming From The Scrolling Heat

(1) HERE’S ONE ROLE YOU CAN’T PLAY AT RPG.NET. The RPG.net Forum Administrator has declared a “New Ban: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration”.

The following policy announcement is the result of over a year of serious debate by the moderation team. The decision is as close to unanimous as we ever get. It will not be the subject of further debate. We have fully considered the downsides and ultimately decided we have to stay true to our values. We will not pretend that evil isn’t evil, or that it becomes a legitimate difference of political opinion if you put a suit and tie on it.

We are banning support of Donald Trump or his administration on the RPGnet forums. This is because his public comments, policies, and the makeup of his administration are so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable. We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both. Below will be an outline of the policy and a very incomplete set of citations.

We have a community here that we’ve built carefully over time, and support for elected hate groups aren’t welcome here. We can’t save the world, but we can protect and care for the small patch that is this board.

Policy outline:

1. We are banning support of the administration of President Trump. You can still post on RPG.net even if you do in fact support the administration — you just can’t talk about it here.
2. We are absolutely not endorsing the Democrats nor are we banning all Republicans.
3. We are certainly not banning conservative politics, or anything on the spectrum of reasonable political viewpoints. We assert that hate groups and intolerance are categorically different from other types of political positions, and that confusing the two legitimizes bigotry and hatred.
4. We are not going to have a purge — we will not be banning people for past support. Though if your profile picture is yourself in a MAGA hat, this might be a good time to change it.
5. We will not permit witch-hunts, progressive loyalty-testing, or attempting to bait another into admitting support for President Trump in order to get them banned. The mod staff will deal harshly with attempts to weaponize this policy.
6. It is not open season on conservatives, and revenge fantasies against Trump and Trump supporters are still against the rules.

There is a lot of reaction on Twitter. My favorite is:

Bounding Into Comics’ John F. Trent says it’s hypocrisy: “Popular Forum RPG.Net Bans Posts Supporting President Trump”.

…They also try to state they won’t be targeting Republicans and conservatives, but have openly banned support for the duly elected Republican administration. That sure sounds like targeting of conservatives and Republicans. They actively banned support for them!

Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg favors the decision.

I don’t personally frequent many online forums like this. But in the almost two years since Trump’s inauguration, I can’t recall seeing any other website introduce a policy that takes such a specific, strong stance Trump-related discussion.

It’s a welcome breath of fresh air, frankly. As the current administration finds new lows to sink to virtually every day — just a few days ago, Trump blamed the horrific synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on that congregation’s lack of a security presence — people and interests should be taking a stand like this.

(2) SPACE FORCE DRESS REHEARSAL. Harrison Smith tells Washington Post readers how “We crashed a science-fiction writers convention to ask about Trump’s ‘Space Force’”.

So on a Saturday in late September, I dropped in on some 400 mostly gray-haired sci-fi enthusiasts gathered inside the Hilton hotel in Rockville for Capclave, the annual convention of the Washington Science Fiction Association, to ask them what they thought of the president’s plans. The convention, one of the oldest of its kind in the country, is a staid contrast to Comic-Con, where attendees are more likely to dress in costume. Capclave tends to draw more bookish, serious-minded writers and fans. The convention’s motto: “Where reading is not extinct.”

“Science fiction is a rehearsal literature, not a predictive literature. We take ideas and rehearse what they might be like in the future,” said Nancy Kress of Seattle, who has won a Hugo Award, one of science fiction’s top honors. Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey” with director Stanley Kubrick, dreamed up communications satellites in a 1945 magazine article. “Star Trek” envisioned the flip phone. “We don’t know what the future holds any more than anybody else,” Kress told me. “We can, however, see that certain things are coming.”

… John G. Hemry, a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy who was wearing a Hawaiian-style “Incredibles” shirt, envisions the Space Force evolving into an interstellar armada that functions not unlike a 19th-century navy: long days of cramped, lonely travel in a hostile medium (space, the new water) followed by sudden close-quarters engagements.

In Hemry’s “Lost Fleet” series (he writes under the name Jack Campbell), the fighting “ships” are trailed by “fast fleet auxiliaries,” mobile factories making weapons and fuel cells that enable them to travel one- or two-tenths the speed of light….

(3) HOW MANY BITS IN A BITE? From The Irish Times: “Central Bank commemorates ‘Dracula’ with €15 collector coin”.

Just in time for Halloween, the Central Bank has launched a commemorative €15 Bram Stoker Dracula collector coin.

The silver proof coin commemorates the life of the Dublin-born author and his famous novel Dracula, which was published in 1897 and became world-renowned after an American film adaptation starring Bela Lugosi opened in 1931.

(4) NEITHER DEAD OR ALIVE. Olga Polomoshnova explores “Wraiths the writhen” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

…Two of these meanings can be applied to the Nazgûl. To begin with, Sauron’s most terrible servants can be identified with ghosts. We know that they were formerly great kings and lords of Men, but ensnared by Sauron and the Nine Rings of Power, they fell under the dominion of their own Rings and Sauron’s One Ring. Thus, through using their Nine and becoming thralls to the One, once mighty Men faded into ghostlike figures invisible in the Seen world, but visible in the realm of the Unseen….

(5) BABY BOOMER. On Facebook, Joe Haldeman remembers why a little chemistry knowledge is a dangerous thing.

An odd footnote to the home chemistry riff . . . I was a school patrol boy in grade school, I guess sixth grade, and got along pretty well with the old lady — maybe thirty — who supervised us. Her own kid got in trouble with his (HUGE — forty-dollar!) chemistry set, making pyrotechnics, and to punish him, she gave the set away to me. She had removed the chemicals that she knew were dangerous, but MWAH HA HA she didn’t know as much chemistry as little old me!

Of course if you know what you’re doing, you can make pretty good explosives out of chemicals available at the hardware store….

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 30, 1959The Wasp Woman hit theatres.
  • October 30, 1938 — The broadcast of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theare radio drama, “War of the Worlds,” caused a national panic.

(7) MARS ATTACKS…NEW JERSEY. ABC News celebrates the anniversary of the legendary broadcast: “It’s been 80 years since Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast terrified the nation”.

The year is 1938. The cost of a gallon of gas is 10 cents. Franklin D. Roosevelt is president. The primary medium of entertainment is the radio, and it caused panic in the eastern United States after listeners mistook a fictional broadcast called “War of the Worlds” as an actual news report.

On Oct. 30, 1938, future actor and filmmaker Orson Welles narrated the show’s prologue for an audience believed to be in the millions. “War of the Worlds” was the Halloween episode for the radio drama series “The Mercury Theatre on the Air.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin,” the broadcast began. “Martians have landed in New Jersey!”

 

(8) NOTH BY NORTHWEST. CinemaBlend applauds “The Wild Way Doctor Who Used Law And Order Vet Chris Noth”.

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Doctor Who episode “Arachnids In The UK.” Read at your own risk!

Doctor Who has had plenty of notable guest stars names guest star in the past, and its writers are often aces at creating the perfect roles for the temporary talent. “Arachnids In The UK” carried on that tradition by utilizing former Law & Order and Sex And The City star Chris Noth in some wild ways.

(9) TOP BOOKS OF THE FIFTIES. Bradbury, Tolkien, and Ayn Rand make Emily Temple’s list — “A Century of Reading: The 10 Books That Defined the 1950s” at Literary Hub.

(10) GREATEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILMS. A few genre items on BBC’s list of “The 100 greatest foreign-language films”. Chip Hitchcock says, “I count 5-7 depending on where the lines are drawn (is Crouching Tiger standard? is Pan’s Labyrinth all hallucination?), but there could be more as I don’t recognize all of the titles.”

…And as the poll exists to salute the extraordinary diversity and richness of films from all around the world, we wanted to ensure that its voters were from all around the world, too. The 209 critics who took part are from 43 different countries and speak a total of 41 languages – a range that sets our poll apart from any other.

The result: 100 films from 67 different directors, from 24 countries, and in 19 languages. French can claim to be the international language of acclaimed cinema: 27 of the highest-rated films were in French, followed by 12 in Mandarin, and 11 each in Italian and Japanese. At the other end of the scale, several languages were represented by just one film, such as Belarusian (Come and See), Romanian (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), and Wolof (Touki Bouki)….

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ. With an assist on the first by OGH.]

  • October 30, 1919 – Walt Willis, Fanwriter. He was the center of Irish Fandom. With Bob Shaw he wrote The Enchanted Duplicator (1954). He won a 1958 Hugo Award as Outstanding Actifan. Willis was MagiCon’s Fan Guest of Honor in 1992. His fanzine Slant was published on letterpress; its successor Hyphen on mimeograph. He wrote a column, “The Harp That Once or Twice,” for Lee Hoffman’s Quandry. The “WAW with the Crew in ’52” fund brought him from Belfast for the TASFiC (Tenth Anniversary Science Fiction Convention, “Chicon II”), which showed the way for the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund. He published two trip reports, “Willis Discovers America” before he left, and “The Harp Stateside” after he returned. His fanwriting was collected in The Willis Papers (Ted Johnstone & George Fields eds. 1961), the climactic 600-page 28th issue of Richard Bergeron’s Warhoon (1980), and Fanorama (Robert Lichtman ed. 1998). In 1969 he published a mundane book, The Improbable Irish, under the name Walter Bryan.
  • Born October 30, 1923 – William Campbell, Actor who appeared in two Star Trek episodes, as the god-child in “The Squire of Gothos” and as Koloth in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, a role which he reprised in an episode of Deep Space Nine. He appeared in several horror films including Blood Bath, Night of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age.
  • Born October 30, 1947 – Tim Kirk, 71, Artist, Illustrator, and Fan. As a student, he was a prolific contributor of artwork to fanzines, and he won the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award five times, and was a finalist three times, between 1969 and 1977. He provided art for dozens of fanzines, magazines, and books, and hundreds of interior illustrations. In 1975, he was a finalist for the Best Professional Artist, and he was finalist for the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist every year between 1975 and 1978. Professionally, he worked as a designer and Imagineer for Walt Disney, and as an illustrator for Hallmark Cards. His thesis project consisted of a series of paintings for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; 13 of these were published by Ballantine Books as the 1975 Tolkien Calendar. He runs a design firm in the Los Angeles area, and sits on the advisory board of Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.
  • October 30, 1951 – P. Craig Russell, 67. Comic illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. Next up was mainstream work at DC. I think his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin, was amazing. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He then segued into working on several of Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects, including a Coraline graphic novel. Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
  • Born October 30, 1963 – Michael Beach, 55, Actor and Producer who has been in numerous genre films, including Aquaman, the Red Dawn remake, The Abyss, Deep Blue Sea 2, Insidious Chapter 2, and the upcoming movies Superintelligence and Rim of the World. He had recurring roles in Stargate: Atlantis and The 100, and has had guest parts in episodes of Scorpion and Knight Rider 2010.
  • Born October 30, 1972 – Tammy Coxen, 46, Fan from Michigan who has been chair of numerous conventions, including Mystery God ConFusion, Astronomical ConFusion, ConFusion and Her Friends, Midwest Construction 2, and Detcon1, the 2014 NASFiC, as well as serving on the concoms for a large number of Worldcons. For more than 12 years, she has run Tammy’s Tastings, a business which provides cocktail and mixology classes, personal cheffing, private bartending, food workshops and tasting events for individuals, groups, and corporate clients, and she is a regular commentator on Michigan Radio’s Stateside program, discussing drinks with a Michigan twist.
  • Born October 30, 1989 – Sarah Carter, 29, Actor from Canada who starred in the series Falling Skies, for which she received two Saturn nominations. Other genre appearances include the films Killing Zelda Sparks, Mindstorm, Final Destination 2, Skinwalkers, DOA: Dead or Alive, and Red Mist, and guest roles in episodes of Smallville, The Twilight Zone, Dark Angel, Wolf Lake, Wishmaster 3, and The Immortal.

(12) CAPTAIN TVIDEO. Via Buzz Dixon I learned that Heritage Auctions is offering the entire “Captain TVideo” MAD magazine parody drawn by the legendary Jack Davis. Click on the images for incredible hi-res scans.

(13) SAILING THROUGH SPACE. At National Geographic, “‘The Science Guy’ explains a solar-powered space sail”.

In contrast, the momentum of light is a concept outside our ordinary experience: When you’re out in the sun, you don’t feel that sunlight can push you around. The force of light, a single photon in particular, is tiny—so on Earth the sunlight pressure, as it’s called, is overwhelmed by the other forces and pressures you encounter, such as friction and gravity.

What if we could harness the energy of a tremendous number of photons and we had nothing holding us back? There’s only one place we know of to get away from all the friction and gravity: outer space.

(14) BIGGER IDEA. “Civil engineer proposes statue of mythical giant to prop up Wales bridge”The Guardian has the story.

The Welsh government says it will consider a proposal to prop up a new £130m bridge across the Menai Strait with a mythical Welsh giant.

Civil engineer Benji Poulton, from Bangor in north-west Wales, came up with the idea after dismissing the existing designs for a new bridge between Gwynedd and Anglesey as “underwhelming”.

His design replaces the central support with a giant statue of Bendigeidfran (Brân the Blessed), who went over to Ireland to wage war against the king, Matholwch.

According to the legend, the Irish soldiers retreated over the River Shannon and burnt all the bridges. Bendigeidfran lay over the river, uttering “A fo ben, bid bont.” (“He who would be a leader, let him be a bridge” – now a popular Welsh proverb.)

(15) FLEET OF FOOT. At Smithsonian.com, Steven Tammariello reports on DNA tests carried out on Seabiscuit, and how they may give clues to his late-blooming races success (“Scientists Extract DNA From Seabiscuit’s Hooves To Figure Out How He Was So Fast”).

Eighty years ago, the horse famously trounced Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Did genetics make him an unlikely success?

Seabiscuit was not an impressive-looking horse. He was considered quite lazy, preferring to eat and sleep in his stall rather than exercise. He’d been written off by most of the racing industry after losing his first 17 races. But Seabiscuit eventually became one of the most beloved thoroughbred champions of all time – voted 1938 Horse of the Year after winning his legendary match race as an underdog against Triple Crown winner War Admiral in 1938.

…A few years back, Jacqueline Cooper from the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation got in touch. She wanted to genetically test a fifth-generation descendant of Seabiscuit [and] asked if any genetic information about Seabiscuit could be obtained […]. But since Seabiscuit was so far back in the pedigree, our lab really couldn’t be sure which of [the descendent’s] genes came from his famous great-great-great grandsire. It would only work if comparison tissue from Seabiscuit still existed – an unlikely proposition since he died in 1947 and is buried in an undisclosed grave at Ridgewood Ranch in Northern California.

…It turned out that Seabiscuit’s silvered hooves – think of a baby’s booties coated in metal – were on display at the California Thoroughbred Foundation

(16) TRASH SPOTTING. BBC says another experiment is in progress — “RemoveDebris: UK satellite tracks ‘space junk'”.

British-led mission to test techniques to clear up space junk has initiated its second experiment.

The RemoveDebris satellite ejected a small object on Sunday and then tracked it using a camera and laser system.

This vision-based navigation (VBN) technology essentially tells a pursuing spacecraft how its target is behaving – how it’s moving and even tumbling.

It would provide the information to safely approach the object ready for capture.

(17) J IS FOR JACK O’LANTERN. LAist insists “JPL Carves Better Pumpkins Than You Ever Will”. Photos and GIFs (I’ll spare you the latter – they drive Filers crazy.)

NASA’s engineers may spend their days designing parts for spacecrafts, but once a year, they get a chance to break out of geek and unleash their creativity. Think Pimp My Pumpkin — by some of the best scientific brains in the business.

The competition is fierce. After weeks of planning, designing and dreaming, they’re given one hour to create their pumpkin extravaganzas. Then the struggle for creative supremacy begins. Loud music. Flashing lights. Battling spaceships, animated moon discoveries, ET on his flying bike, Cookie Monster and Manuel of Disney’s Coco playing guitar.

(18) TIMELESS TREAT. Pottery analysis shows cocoa has been cultivated for millennia: “Chocolate: Origins of delicacy pushed back in time”.

Chocolate has been a delicacy for much longer than previously thought.

Botanical evidence shows the plant from which chocolate is made was first grown for food more than 5,000 years ago in the Amazon rainforest.

Chemical residues found on ancient pottery suggest cocoa was used as a food, drink or medicine by indigenous people living in what is now Ecuador.

Until now it was thought that chocolate originated much later and in Central rather than South America.

“The plant was first used at least 1,500 years earlier than we had previous evidence for,” said Prof Michael Blake of the department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, a co-researcher on the study.

(19) LIVING AT HIGH ALTITUDE. BBC finds “Climate change is ‘escalator to extinction’ for mountain birds”.

Scientists have produced new evidence that climate change is driving tropical bird species who live near a mountain top to extinction.

Researchers have long predicted many creatures will seek to escape a warmer world by moving towards higher ground.

However, those living at the highest levels cannot go any higher, and have been forecast to decline.

This study found that eight bird species that once lived near a Peruvian mountain peak have now disappeared.

(20) IHOP GOES GREEN. A signal boost from Food & Wine: “IHOP Adds Official ‘Grinch’ Menu Items for the Holidays”.

IHOP is adding several Grinch-related menu items in a promotion themed on the upcoming animated movie The Grinch (with the title role voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The movie opens 9 November. The Grinch menu at IHOP will be available through the end of the year.

[Thanks to JJ, Carl Slaughter, BravoLimaPoppa3, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day microtherion.]

2016 WSFA Small Press Award Finalists

wsfa LOGOThe Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) announced the finalists for the 2016 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction on August 9:

  • “The Art of Deception,” by Stephanie Burgis in Insert Title Here, ed. by Tehani Wessely, published by Fablecroft Publishing, (April 2015);
  • “Burn Her,” by Tanith Lee in Dancing Through The Fire, ed. by Ian Randal Strock, published by Fantastic Books (September 2015);
  • “Cat Pictures Please,” by Naomi Kritzer, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, (January 2015);
  • “The Empress in Her Glory,” by Robert Reed, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, (April 2015);
  • “The Haunting of Apollo A7LB,” by Hannu Rajaniemi in Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction published by Tachyon Publications, (May 2015);
  • “Headspace,” by Beth Cato in Cats In Space, ed. by Elektra Hammond, published by Paper Golem LLC, (December 2015);
  • “Leashing the Muse,” by Larry Hodges, published in Space and Time Magazine, ed. by Hildy Silverman, (May 2015);
  • “Leftovers,” by Leona Wisoker in Cats In Space, ed. by Elektra Hammond, published by Paper Golem LLC, (December 2015);
  • “Today I Am Paul,” by Martin L. Shoemaker, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, (August 2015).

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.  The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2015). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the hWashington Science Fiction Associaton and will be presented at their annual convention, Capclave, held this year on October 7-9, 2016 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Pixel Scroll 6/12/16 But I Still Haven’t Scrolled Where the Pixels Are

(1) MAGIC STACKS. The Oxford University Press Blog gives “6 reasons why the Hogwarts library is the true hero of the Harry Potter books”.

…Alas, when our letter-bearing owl rudely pulls a no-show, accepting one’s muggle status is a hard pill to swallow. But, as today is Magic Day, we’ve decided to temporarily shelve our disappointment, and pay tribute to our favourite Hogwarts hotspot. Undoubtedly, the unsung hero of the Harry Potter series, we’re referring to a place with more answers than Albus, better looks than Lockhart, and even more mystery than Mad-Eye Moody. This is why we love the Hogwarts library…

It has screaming books.

Though, deep down, we’re rooting for Harry to succeed in his endeavours, given his complete disregard for the rules, we can’t help but feel a certain amount of satisfaction when one of his plans goes awry. As far as we’re concerned, any young scallywag who presumes to enter the restricted section of the Hogwarts library in the dead of night, without even attaining a teacher’s note of approval, deserves to happen upon a screaming book. On this particular occasion, we commend the library for thwarting this little rascal’s rebellious plans.

(2) THE PEEPS LOOK UP. Jim C. Hines has a gallery of 80+ photos taken at the recently completed Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop.

Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready

Jim C. Hines

(3) PRICE POINTS. Fynbospress has another skull session for indie authors: “How much for the print book?”

How much should you charge for your print book?

The answer is: it depends. First, are you planning on getting wide sales of your print book, or is it just there to make your ebook page look more professional, and more of a bargain?

This is a serious question: indie pub is still small press pub (just one-author houses), and can get into libraries and brick and mortar shops. It just takes more work, and usually more lead time between finishing the books and publishing them. In some genres, especially nonfiction segments where a large portion of the revenue is from talks and print books sold at same, the print version is more important than the ebook price.

(4) NEXT YEAR’S CAPCLAVE. Elizabeth Twitchell, Chair of Capclave 2017, announced a GoH today — Neil Clarke, of Clarkesworld.

Clarkesworld Magazine’s work in promoting speculative short fiction makes him a perfect fit to join another Capclave guest, Ken Liu, as the con celebrates 10 years of the WSFA Small Press Award. The con will be held October 6-8, 2017 at the Gaithersburg Hilton.

(5) RAY HARRYAUSEN. He’s a fast worker.

(6) INSIDE JOB. “Charmed: Fairy Tale Reform School Book 2” by Jen Calonita (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman) at Fantasy Book Critic.

ANALYSIS: Flunked, the first book of the Fairy Tale Reform School series, was a fast, fun children’s novel. It followed the life of a young thief (Gilly Cobbler) who was caught and sent away to Fairy Tale Reform School. Fairy Tale Reform School is designed to help fairy tale character right their wrongs and learn how to become productive members of their respective fairy tales. After all, not everyone can be the hero, villain, or princess; some people do have to be the baker, cobbler, or famer.

Now, Charmed is the second book of the series and picks up shortly where Flunked left off. Alva (our big bad for the series and is a version of the evil fairy queen from Sleeping Beauty) has been locked up. Meanwhile Gilly Cobbler, who was once an overlooked young thief who is trying to reform herself, is now considered a hero for what she did in Flunked, but all is not well.

(7) NO PLACE LIKE HOME – BREW. Martin Morse Wooster is back.

NHCmedalI’ve just returned from three days in Baltimore with home brewers.  I have always maintained that home brewers are the people most like fans who are not fans.  The National Homebrewers Conference has a con suite during the day, known as “Social Club” where people can sit and drink home-brew. They have a masquerade, except it’s called “club night,” and the competition is between clubs, whose members dress up in costumes (Vikings and pirates were popular this year) and serve free beer.

There were two developments this year that made the convention more like a sf con than in the past.

  1.  The name of the convention has formally been changed from “National Homebrewers Conference” to “Homebrewcon.”
  2.  The home brewers have discovered silly badge ribbons.  They haven’t gotten to the level of a Worldcon where you can get a generalissimo-sized stack of ribbons, but I saw at least two or three silly ribbons on some badges next to the serious ones for being a judge or being on the organizing committee.  I never noticed anyone with more than four ribbons.

I also learned of the demise of one of the convention’s quirkier traditions.  They used to give a prize, known as the Golden Urinal or “Pissoir D’Or”, to the club whose members brought the most number of kegs to the convention. In 2013, the Barley Legal Club of southern New Jersey (note to people from New Jersey–they’re “near exit 4”) showed up with 200 kegs and the trophy was retired.  They brought the urinal to the convention, and I can now say I have drunk from the Golden Urinal on three occasions.  And yes, it is a urinal painted gold.

Next year’s Homebrewcon will be from June 15-17 in Minneapolis.

(8) KASEY LANSDALE. Wynona’s opening act at the Canyon Club on June 17 is Joe R. Lansdale’s baby girl.

Kasey Lansdale and her father Joe Lansdale.

Kasey Lansdale and her father Joe Lansdale.

Now, WYNONNA and her band The Big Noise, led by her husband/drummer/prodcer, Cactus Moser, have released their debut full-length album to critical acclaim. Rolling Stone’s Stephen L. Betts raved, “Wynonna & The Big Noise brings a raw, unvarnished approach to the album’s dozen tracks, which run the gamut from gutsy blues to sweet, Seventies-inspired country-pop…. Wynonna’s legions of country fans will feel right at home.” Get ready, Agoura Hills, cause WYNONNA & The Big Noise are taking it on the road – and make their debut appearance on The Canyon stage.

Opening sets by ‘Michael-Ann’ and ‘Kasey Lansdale’

(9) INDY 5. “John Williams Will Score Indiana Jones 5 & Star Wars: Episode VIII” guarantees ComingSoon.

Last night, the American Film Institute held a red carpet event honoring legendary film composer John Williams (Jaws, Harry Potter, Superman) with a lifetime achievement award. The 84-year-old Williams, whose work on all four Indiana Jones films as well as all seven Star Wars Saga films are career-defining, took the opportunity to assure the world he would be back for Lucasfilm‘s next installments of both franchises.

“If I can do it, I certainly will,” Williams confirmed to Variety of his commitment to do the music for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII, currently in the home stretch of filming. “I told Kathy Kennedy I’m happy to do it, but the real reason is, I didn’t want anybody else writing music for Daisy Ridley.”

Meantime, during an interview with Empire Magazine about his new movie The BFG, Spielberg confirmed a MacGuffin has been selected for Indy 5:

“(Steven Spielberg) shows us videos of the BFG’s recording session on his iPhone, looks forward to INDIANA JONES V: “We have a McGuffin, that’s all I can say”. 

It is extremely exciting news that Indy 5 has possibly found its central MacGuffin. While Spielberg did not give details, the MacGuffin will likely be revealed as a title is decided upon. The previous Indiana Jones films either had the MacGuffin within the title or had a hint to the identity of the fabled object.

The MacGuffins are often supernatural in nature and possess incredible power. They also often reflect personally on Indy in regards to some facet of their nature. There have been three MacGuffins thus far, two of them being based on Judeo-Christian mythology. Crystal skull was the only one not to be directly religious. The nature of the MacGuffin may be hinted at once we learn more about the plot.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 12, 1968 Rosemary’s Baby, seen for the first time on this day. Did you know: Rosemary’s baby was born in June 1966 (6/66).
  • June 12, 1981 — Ray Harryhausen’s last effects work appears in Clash of the Titans.
  • June 12, 1987 Predator was released.  The alien’s blood was a mixture of KY Jelly and the goop from inside green glow-sticks.

(11) SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM. The 1960-1961 season of Twilight Zone is finished, and The Traveler at Galactic Journey has the verdict – “[June 11, 1961] Until we meet again…. (Twilight Zone Second Season wrap up)”.

When Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone debuted in October 1959, it was a fresh breeze across “the vast wasteland” of television.  Superior writing, brilliant cinematography, fine scoring, and, of course, consistently good acting earned its creator a deserved Emmy last year.

The show’s sophomore season had a high expectation to meet, and it didn’t quite.  That said, it was still head and shoulders above its competitors (Roald Dahl’s Way Out, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, etc.) The last two episodes of this year’s batch were par for the course: decent, but not outstanding…

In this Twilight Zone episode, one of the men was talking about how good his cigarettes tasted, and I thought for a moment he was going to break into an advertisement.  Of course that didn’t come until the end — when Rod Serling recommended Oasis cigarettes “for the freshest of tastes”….

(12) INFLUENCE AND COLLABORATION. Spark My Muse with Lisa DeLay – “Eps 65: The Myth of the ‘Lone Genius’ – CS Lewis expert Dr. Diana Glyer”. Here are some of the show notes from the half-hour podcast:

MIN 1:30

Diana’s first introduction into the world of Tolkien.

2:30

Wondering what the conversations of Lewis and Tolkien were like and how they influenced each other.

Our conversations become the spark for creative breakthrough.

(That’s a cool quote from Diana and you can Tweet it just by clicking it. It’s like Elfin magic!)

3:30

No one had researched and written about their relationship of collaboration and influence from the inside–like a fly on the wall.

5:30

How we think about literary influence and collaboration. Process influence versus product influence.

The role of creative input and question-asking during the initial period of creative inspiration.

MIN 7:30

Looking at dairies and primary documents and drafts and the detective work of Diana’s book “The Company They Keep”.

(13) A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and, best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” — Walt Disney

(14) A GREAT BOOKSTORE IS CLOSING. Marc Scott Zicree, “Mr. Sci-Fi,” prowls the aisles at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop as he explains tells you why books — and bookstores — are important.

(15) WHEN ANOTHER BOOKSTORE CLOSED. Ray Bradbury’s last visit to Acres of Books.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day LunarG.]

Pixel Scroll 4/10/16 Filers, Scrollers, Pixelmen, Lend Me Your Ears; I Come To Bury Hugo, Not To Praise Him

(1) HARRY AND THE PIRATES. Your average author can only wish they got this level of service. Reuters has the story — “Defense Against the Dark Arts: UK spies guarded against Harry Potter leak”.

Usually concerned with top secret matters affecting national security, Britain’s eavesdropping spy agency GCHQ was also on the lookout for leaks of a yet-to-be-published Harry Potter book, its publisher has revealed.

Shortly before the publication of one of the volumes in J.K. Rowling’s seven-part wizarding saga, with millions of fans worldwide at a fever pitch of anticipation, publisher Nigel Newton received an unexpected phone call.

“I remember the British spy eavesdropping station GCHQ rang me up and said ‘we’ve detected an early copy of this book on the Internet’,” Newton told Australia’s ABC Radio in an interview last week that gained attention in Britain on Sunday.

“I got him to read a page to our editor and she said ‘no, that’s a fake’,” said Newton, founder and chief executive of Potter publishing house Bloomsbury, describing the spies as “good guys”.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: “We do not comment on our defense against the dark arts.”

(2) MORE EAVESDROPPING. R. A. MacAvoy lets us listen in on her “Conversations with People Who Aren’t There”.

The reason I was convinced my imaginary conversations were universal to the human condition was simply my embarrassment knowing that, since I had constructed my verbal respondents, when we had a difference of opinion – a necessarily frequent happening – I always won the debate.  This, in itself, was so much a stacking of the deck, or loading of the dice of the disagreement, I would hate for anyone to know I was doing it.  It was so much like playing chess with one’s self and cheating.  And I assumed everyone else on the planet felt as I did about it, and so, from an attempt not to appear the scoundrel I was, I kept my mouth shut (for once) about the existence of this wild and crazy inner life.  I was certain any other person would do the same.  So I have continued, for approximately sixty years, to live this way, mumbling to myself or to the non-human creatures about me, or even the furniture. And thinking every other soul did also.

It was only perhaps a week ago I asked Ron whether he did not spend his hours as I did.  I expected him to answer “Of course,” or simply smile knowingly and shrug.  Instead he looked at me intently and said “No. Not so often.”

This was quite a surprise.  It was, in fact, a re-set of my expectations.  The human condition was not entirely as I had thought it was.  Not for all these years.

So I must re-evaluate my life of inner debate.  I have not just been rigging the game of internal conversation.  It seems I invented the game before I rigged it.  My ego-centricity is far more overwhelming than I thought.  I am not proud of myself.

Nonetheless, there have been some interesting conversations over the years.  If I must take the blame for doing the thing, I can at least describe how I have done it.

The most common repeated dialogue I have is with any film or television actor who pronounces words in a way I disagree with.  Of course I am arguing with the character, not the real actor, but as no one is there, it doesn’t matter.

(3) CAPCLAVE 2017. WSFA has announced that Ken Liu will be a Capclave GoH in 2017.

(4) LOVELY ROOM, SLIGHT DRAFT. Supposedly this happened — “Tim Peake Leaves TripAdvisor Review For The International Space Statuion’s New ‘Space Hotel’” — although neither Steven H Silver nor I have been able to find it on the actual TripAdvisor site.

Bigelow Aerospace is trialling a new “space hotel” this week, attaching their new inflatable hotel room to the side of the International Space Station to test the possibility of having a holiday resort in Earth’s orbit.

The inflatable “BEAM” module is made of a top secret material that may make holidaying in space a reality, but first it’s being tested aboard the ISS.

Not one to ignore a chance at giving his two cents to the people on terra firma, British astronaut Tim Peake has left a review for the “space hotel” on TripAdvisor.

(5) KEPLER IN TROUBLE? From NASA — “Mission Manager Update: Kepler Spacecraft in Emergency Mode”.

During a scheduled contact on Thursday, April 7, mission operations engineers discovered that the Kepler spacecraft was in Emergency Mode (EM). EM is the lowest operational mode and is fuel intensive. Recovering from EM is the team’s priority at this time.

The mission has declared a spacecraft emergency, which provides priority access to ground-based communications at the agency’s Deep Space Network.

Initial indications are that Kepler entered EM approximately 36 hours ago, before mission operations began the maneuver to orient the spacecraft to point toward the center of the Milky Way for the K2 mission’s microlensing observing campaign.

The spacecraft is nearly 75 million miles from Earth, making the communication slow. Even at the speed of light, it takes 13 minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back.

The last regular contact with the spacecraft was on April. 4.  The spacecraft was in good health and operating as expected.

(6) HOW MUCH IS THAT NOVEL IN THE WINDOW? Fynbospress has an intriguing post about indie book pricing at Mad Genius Club – “Know your reader demographics: Pricing”

2. The discount crowd ($0.99 – $5.99) Believe it or not, this is a different group from the Free Crowd. There’s plenty of overlap, but it’s a different crowd. Unlike the hardcore free-only, the 99 cent crowd will buy books cheap. If they’re long-term broke, they’re likely to use some of the tools to track your sales and only buy when the price drops. These are the people who keep all the used bookstores in business. At this price point, you’re competing with used paperbacks from McKay’s Powell’s, Amazon… you are NOT competing with new books from B&N or Book a Million.

How big is this market? I don’t know if there’s a way to tell – certainly it hasn’t been measured. But it’s been large enough to support thousands of used book stores across the US alone (much less the charity shops in the UK), and to propel low-pricing indie authors into millions sold.

You can develop fans here. If you stay in this price range, they’ll buy everything you put out the moment they discover it. (Not the same thing as the moment you release it, and that’s why a mailing list / social media presence / targeted advertising is a good thing.) You can also use this range to tempt people into impulse buying your works, in conjunction with targeted advertising.

(7) TO THE FINNISH. Today’s book review on NPR: “Frodo, Bilbo, Kullervo: Tolkien’s Finnish Adventure”.

In 1913, the 21-year-old Ronald Tolkien should have been studying for his exams. He was halfway through his Classics degree — the subject all the best students did at Oxford in those days. Getting admitted to Oxford on a scholarship was a great opportunity for young Ronald, an orphan who had always struggled to stay out of poverty. A Classics degree would have set him up for almost any career he chose. But he wasn’t studying. Instead, he was trying to teach himself Finnish.

Why would a brilliant student with so much at stake let himself go astray at such a crucial time? There were two reasons: love and the Kalevala.

Tolkien’s twin obsessions at the time were his future wife, Edith Bratt, and the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland.

(8) CLASSIC ZINE BIDS FAREWELL. Steven H Silver is retiring his fanzine Argentus, a three-time Hugo nominee.

I’ve decided that Argentus is no longer being published.  I had planned on doing an issue last year (and didn’t) and then wrapping it up this year, but with chairing three conventions in 11 months, Worldcon programming, surgery, and life in general, I don’t see it happening this year either.  If I do another fanzine, it will be a different creature.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 10, 1953: Feature length, full color, 3-D movie premiered in NYC:  House of Wax starring Vincent Price.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • April 10, 1929: One of the all-time greats, Max von Sydow, is born in Sweden.
  • Born April 10, 19?? — James H. Burns, prolific File 770 columnist.
  • Born April 10, 1953 — David Langford, Ansible editor.

(12) DISTILLED WRITING ADVICE. Lit Reactor has compiled “22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing”. The most contrarian comes from G. K. Chesterton: “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”

(13) FESTIVAL OF BOOKS. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books wrapped up on Sunday.

Mercedes Lackey was on hand.

Not sf, but I’m a fan!

A Sabaa Tahir quote —

(14) AWESOME ANIMATION. Official music video for Jane Bordeaux’s ‘Ma’agalim’. In a forgotten old penny arcade, a wooden doll is stuck in place and time.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, JJ, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Capclave Remembers Jay Lake With Hawaiian Shirt Day

The late Jay Lake will be honored with a Hawaiian Shirt Day next weekend on October 11 during Capclave in Gaithersburg, MD.

People who join in the occasion by wearing their favorite Hawaiian shirt are encouraged to promenade in the Con Suite starting at 9 a.m.

The committee noted —

We were extremely saddened by Jay Lake’s death in June at the age of 49, after a long battle with cancer. Jay wrote over 300 short stories and nine novels and won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction in 2004. He approached his illness with fierce determination, blogging about the experience, and finding ways to express what was happening to him with humor and courage, in order to demystify the experience for others. We are honoring Jay with a Hawaiian Shirt Day on Saturday.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

Dozois, Martin and Waldrop on Video

At Capclave 2013 Howard Waldrop, George R. R. Martin, and Gardner Dozois spent two hours talking among themselves on a panel.

According to Howard this is the first time all three have done this, although various members of the trio have paired off in the past.

Here is the video.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

BSFS Writing Contest Now Open

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Amateur Writing Contest will be taking entries through June 15. Full details are here.

The winner receives a $250 prize, second place, $100, and third place, $50. The top five entries also get free memberships in Balticon.

The Amateur Writing Contest is limited to those who are (1) 18 or over, (2)Maryland residents or currently students at a Maryland two- or four-year college. Disqualified from the competition are SFWA members and those who have been published in a professional science fiction/fantasy magazine.

Entries must be between a minimum of 1,000 and a maximum of 5,500 words. No reprints. Only one entry per person allowed. Formatting requirements are on the contest website. There is no entry fee.

The winner will be announced at Capclave on October 12. The winning story will be published in the Balticon convention guide and the author will be invited to do a reading at the con.

Those who are too young to enter this competition may be interested in the Jack L. Chalker Young Writer’s Contest.

And aspiring poets should check out the Balticon Poetry Contest.

Shape of Capclaves to Come

Capclave, a Washington D.C. area sf & fantasy con, has announced its Guests of Honor for both 2011 and 2012.

At Capclave 2011 the GoHs will be author Carrie Vaughn, known for her Kitty Norville series; and author, poet, and editor Catherynne Valente, author of the Hugo-nominee Palimpsest and Deathless.

The 2012 GoHs will be John Scalzi, SFWA President, proprietor of the renowned blog, Whatever, and author of the Old Man’s War series; and Nick Mamatas, editor of Viz Media’s line of translated Japanese novels and author of Move Under Ground and Northern Gothic

Capclave 2011 will take place at Washington DC North Hilton in Gaithersburg, Maryland on October 14- 16, 2011. Two signed limited edition WSFA Press books by 2011’s Guests of Honor Carrie Vaughn and Catherynne Valente will be available at the con. Straying from the Path by Carrie Vaughn will collect ten of her favorite hard-to-classify stories covering the full range of speculative fiction. Jay Lake is providing the introduction. Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente takes on the folklore of artificial intelligence. A limited run of 500 signed copies will go on sale for $20 each.

Members of Capclave 2011 can pre-order the books for $20 at www.capclave.org from the Registration tab. After the convention, remaining books will be available to the general public for $25. 

The full press release follows the jump.

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