Pixel Scroll 11/17/20 When You Get Caught Between The Moon And New Scroll City, The Best That You Can Do Is File In Love

(1) VIRTUAL PHILCON. Philcon 2020 will be taking place online the weekend of Friday November 20 through Sunday, November 22, 2020. It’s free. Information about how people can participate and navigate in Philcon using Zoom and Discord can be found at www.philcon.org and at https://konopas.philcon.org/#info

There will be no charge for joining Philcon 2020. It will be necessary to sign up for each program item, which may be done even while the program item is underway  The program schedule is set, subject to changes, and can be reviewed at https://konopas.philcon.org/

There will be five program tracks, a reading track, a filk and music track and social gatherings in Zoom and Discord.

The massive Filk program begins at 11 a.m. Friday. Concerts, open filk and a songwriting contest will run day and night until Sunday night.

The panels, readings and workshops start at 5:30 p.m. Literary panels cover topics for fans and writers. Science and technology, fandom, media, anime, gaming all have substantial coverage.

There are currently plans for 157 program items.

For those of you who knew and loved Hugh Casey, we will be holding a memorial get-together on Saturday at 5:30.

We hope to have an in person Philcon back at the Cherry Hill Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 2021. The dates will be November 19 to 21, 2021.

(2) VIRTUAL CONTRAFLOW/DEEPSOUTHCON. Also this coming weekend, on November 21 there will be a free one-day virtual 2020 DSC/SFC CONference put on by the CONtraflow committee.

As most of you already know, we had to postpone our 2020 convention due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While we were able to work out most of those details for a Convention next year, we are not able to postpone an actual Deep South Con. In lieu of what would have been our event this year, we would like to offer to the Fen at the Southern Fandom Confederation a virtual day of the community, creativity, and fun the Fans of the Southern Louisiana region can offer with a small taste of a virtual CONtraflow’s 2020 Deep South Con. We are calling it The 2020 DSC/SFC CONference. 

This one-day event will be completely virtual and totally free and begins at 10 am Saturday November 21.  It is an invitation for you to join us on ZOOM for panels on some of your favorite topics: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Film, TV, SMOF subculture, and much more. 

…We will also be hosting a virtual Southern Fandom Confederation meeting, gaming on the Discord Platform (including the annual DSC Hearts event) and evening programming.  Again, all the events are free- but since it is free, the space/seats are limited.  Interested Fans should be sure to drop us an email at http://www.contraflowscifi.org or find/message us on Facebook to make sure there are seats still available before November 20.  Also, while the event will be free, CONtraflow will be selling 2021 memberships during the day for the absolute lowest price that weekend on Eventbrite.com

We will also have a donation page available for those who’d just like to help out since we have expenses accrued for 2020, even without holding a convention, and the costs of this weekend’s CONference….

(3) CARNEGIE MEDALS SHORTLIST. The six shortlist titles for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence — three each for the fiction and nonfiction medals — were announced on November 17. The winners will be named online on Thursday, February 4, 2021.  

I believe none of these are genre, but you may still be interested.

FICTION FINALISTS

  • A BurningMegha Majumdar (Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Deacon King KongJames McBride (Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Homeland Elegies — Ayad Akhtar (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

NONFICTION FINALISTS

(4) THE BIG PICTURE. Kaaron Warren told Facebook followers her novel The Grief Hole has scored a development grant to be made into a movie. “Imagine Sol Evictus in real life…and all those ghosts.”

It’s one of seven projects to be supported by Screen Canberra.

THE GRIEF HOLE– Fiction Feature Film – Development loan Writers: Joshua Koske, Kaaron Warren When an embattled social worker with the ability to see how people die discovers her cousin’s suicide was influenced by a seductive and powerful celebrity, she must overcome her own personal tragedies and work with other gifted individuals to put a stop to his reign of terror before they become the next in a long line of willing victims.

Two of the other announced projects are also of genre interest:

PARANORMAL BLACKTIVITY Writers: Benny Eggmolesse, Jacob Keed, Nakyua Gorrie, Romina Accurso Producers: Benny Eggmolesse, Joe Weatherstone, Catherine Nabauer and Scott Wilson Development Loan, TV Series (horror) Rival siblings must team up to investigate bloody murders, strange disappearances and super weird stuff they suspect are caused by ancient Aboriginal monsters, woken by an imbalance in the natural world.

GIRL ON THE MOON – Television Series Fiction – Development loan Writers: Georgina Jenkins, Sue McPherson In 2069, Aboriginal Australian girl Luna (17), the only child ever born on the Moon, dreams of travelling to Earth to connect with her unknown father and her culture. But she knows her weak Moonling body would never survive. Luna is about to discover she is more powerful than any Earthling.

(5) CAREER WISDOM. “Questions for: David Burnett” – the former Gollancz publisher — at BookBrunch [PDF file.]

Who has been the most influential person in your career?

There have been a few, including Paul Elek [of Paul Elek Publishers]. He taught me to go out there and find authors and projects and pictures when you have small resources (in his case, it was a crushing bank overdraft). Liz Calder was the greatest. Victor Gollancz was a publishing genius and one man tornado. He could dine on sardines if the going got difficult, otherwise it was the Savoy Grill.

(6) PANIC IN THE YEAR TWO-OH-TWO-ZERO. I usually don’t get my cancel culture news from Mad Genius Club, but here is Amanda S. Green with two scoops concerning The Mandalorian: “A Swab, A Huh? And A You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me”.

…But I do think we will see more pressure from the Left to try to delist our work if it doesn’t meet the cause du jour. We’ve already seen how Target overreacted to a single tweet about a book and removed it from its shelves last week. It’s apologized and, iirc, returned the book. But this knee-jerk reaction to the woke crowd is more than a little disturbing.

The idiocy seems to grow with each week that passes. Just this month, Baby Yoda was “cancelled” by the woke crowd because he dared eat the eggs of a sentient being. How dare this “Child” do that! Bad Baby Yoda.

But that’s not the only scene from The Mandalorian to catch the eye of the woke crowd this month. In a more recent episode, cries of outrage were heard through the interwebz because of a character’s armor. 

Boobz armor is bad according to Anita Sarkeesian.

Why do I think she’d have been outraged if the lady Mando armor was exactly the same as Mando’s was? After all, then they could be accused of trying to erase the female form. 

But, but, but it’s not “real”, as one commenter points out. No shit, Sherlock. It’s a fucking show. It’s fiction. Not that the Sarkeesians of the world care as long as they can show their woke card.

And, yes, they will come for those writers they feel aren’t giving out the right message–especially those more successful than they are. And that presents a danger to all of us. Will the venues we’ve been using to sell our books remain open to us in their current forms or will we have to start tailoring our books to their demands?

(7) VICTORY AT SEA. Harry Turtledove, dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”by Publishers Weekly, has written a number of classics in the subgenre, including How Few Remain, The Guns of the South and The Man with the Iron Heart. His new novel Salamis was released November 11.

Salamis is the fifth (standalone) novel in Harry Turtledove’s critically acclaimed Hellenic Traders universe, detailing the adventures of two cousins, Menedemos and Sostratos, who work as seaborne traders following the death of Alexander the Great. This time the stage is one of the greatest sea battles ever fought in ancient times; the Battle of Salamis of 306 BC.

The small, free, and independent polis of Rhodes is trying to stay neutral between the local great powers, each ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s marshals: Asia Minor, controlled by one-eyed Antigonos, and Egypt, under the rule of Ptolemaios.

As tensions between the great powers escalate, Menedemos and Sostratos are trying to resolve their own problems, oblivious to the fact that one of the greatest navel fleets in ancient history is about to set sail. Ptolemaios, needing shipping to carry weapons for the army he intends to land, coerces Menedemos into bringing their ship, the Aphrodite, along as part of his expeditionary force. And so, very much against their will, Menedemos and Sostratos become small parts of one of the ancient world’s most significant naval battles.

Turtledove uses his study of history (with a Ph.D in Byzantine history) to create alternate worlds in intricate detail, crafting enthralling adventures that have garnered him high critical praise as well as making him one of the most successful bestselling authors in alternate history.

(8) YOUNG AUTHORS’ CLUB. SFFAudio tweeted a graphic of this story by 13-year-old Philip K. Dick published in a Berkeley paper in 1942.

(9) ZACK’S CUT. HBO Max dropped a trailer for what is now called Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 17, 1915 – Raymond F. Jones.  Sixteen novels, six dozen shorter stories.  Son of the Stars was I think the first science fiction I read, at about age 8.  Also I like “The Person from Porlock” – which Groff Conklin, one of our finest anthologists, put in his Treasury, one of our finest anthologies.  RFJ entitled a story “I Tell You Three Times” a year before Heinlein put that Hunting of the Snark allusion in The Rolling Stones.  When I agree with Clute and Nicholls it’s a frabjous day – oops, wrong Carroll poem: RFJ wrote “solid, well-crafted … adventures … in a … transparent style…. one of the carriers of the voice of SF.”  (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1925 Rock Hudson. Best known genre role was as Col. John Wilder in The Martian Chronicles series off the Ray Bradbury work. He also played President Thomas McKenna in the World War III miniseries which you may or may not consider SF. That’s it. He was by the way yet another of the uncredited guest performers on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (Died 1985.)  (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1936 – John Trimble, 84.  He and wife Bjo (the software won’t show the caret over her j, an Esperantism indicating the pronunciation “bee-joe”), two of our great fans, are also omnifans: fanwriting, fanart, clubs, costuming, conventions, Star Trek, our neighbor the Society for Creative Anachronism.  I’ve been Master of Ceremonies for our onstage costume competition the Masquerade, a wondrous and sometimes terrifying task; JT was MC for possibly the greatest, certainly the longest, at L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon: over a hundred entries: you couldn’t leave, the next one would be even better: two-thirds through, when a voice cried “How many more, John??” he answered I won’t tell you.  I can’t quite remember this panel, but it was fun.  JT chaired Westercon 23 and an Equicon; he & Bjo were Guests of Honor at Westercons 66 & 70, at the 13th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas; in the photo, JT & BT with daughter Kat), at ConJosé the 60th Worldcon.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1952 Robin McKinley, 68. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version  of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are SunshineChalice and Dragonhaven.  Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015, they lived together in Hampshire, England where she still lives. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed! (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1954 –Kevin E. Johnson, 66.  A hundred forty covers, a few interiors; one short story.  Here is Gods of Riverworld.  Here is Firebird.  Here is The Toynbee Convector.  Here is Throne of Fools.  Here is Ciara’s Song.  Artist Guest of Honor at RustyCon 2, Valleycon 11.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1956 – Rebecca Moesta, 64.  Half a dozen novels, three shorter stories; thirty more novels, half a dozen more shorter stories, two pop-up books, with husband Kevin Anderson.  Interviewed together in SF Chronicle 224, Shimmer 4.  The only continent they have not visited together – yet – is Antarctica.  Devout gadgetologist.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1965 Sophie Marceau, 54. Elektra King, the villain opposing our hero In The World Is Not Enough, the 19th Bond Film. Also Eloïse d’Artagnan in Revenge of the Musketeers, Hippolyta in that version of A Midsummer Night’s DreamandLisa / Belphegor in Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre. She’s also one of the voice actors in Nature is Speaking, a Gaian series. (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 54. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The AuthorityBatmanCaptain AmericaDaredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series which has been rumored to in developed as a tv series. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well done. He’s a member of the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan. (CE)
  • Born November 17, 1976 – Shawna Yang Ryan, 44.  Four novels for us, one other.  Fulbright scholar.  Ass’n for Asian American Studies Best Book Award in Creative Writing, Elliot Cades Emerging Writer Award, American Book Award.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1978 Tom Ellis, 42. Currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the rather excellent Lucifer series created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg from The Sandman series. It’s quite good. Also had roles in Doctor Who as Tom Milligan in the Ten Doctor story, “Last of the Time Lords”, Once Upon a TimeMessiahThe Strain and Merlin. (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 37. He is the author of the most excellent Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books EragonEldestBrisingr, and Inheritance. Several years ago, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published. A film version of the first novel came out sometime ago but I’ve not seen it. And his first SF novel, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, was just published. (CE)
  • Born November 17, 1993 – Andrew Melvin, 27.  Sixteen short stories so far; they are all horrid – I mean, literally – and so collected in Horror Tales; see this cover.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro is there to witness Dracula’s day in court.

(12) URBAN SPACEMAN. Sprudge invites you to “Meet Covidisor, A Practical COVID Helmet That Lets You Drink Coffee”.

…But what the Covidisor has that puts it head and shoulders above the Air is a special swivel-mounted port on the front of the face shield that allows the wearer to consume any beverages via a straw. No longer will you have to make your face available to the outside world in order to enjoy that extra hot no foam latte. At last we can be safe, and caffeinated.

Available in eight different color options for the hard hat, the Covidisor retails for $275. And if you’re not sold on it yet, this snazzy music video by Vedra might change your mind. They’re walking all over a plague-ridden NYC, singing and wearing the Covidisor and just having the time of their life as though everything is fine. Everything is going to be fine…with Covidisor.

(13) SUPERMAN DOCUMENTARY MINI-REVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Amazing Story of Superman on YouTube is a 2006 documentary, directed by Kevin Burns and narrated by Kevin Spacey, about Superman from Siegel and Shuster’s creation through Superman Returns.  It wouldn’t surprise me if this was originally a bonus feature for the Superman Returns DVD, because there’s too much of a hard sell for both that movie and “Smallville” which makes both productions out to be imaginative masterpieces, even though Superman Returns is average and “Smallville” got pretty soapy pretty quickly.  But there’s lots of interesting Superman stuff in it, such as the photos of Superman from the 1939 World’s Fair, ads for Superman Bread from the 1940s, and commercials from around 2004 with Jerry Seinfeld and an animated Superman.  The most interesting discovery is that after George Reeves killed himself in 1959, the people behind the Superman TV show did a pilot for The Adventures of Super Pup with characters in animal suits.  This of course went nowhere.  I still think it’s worth watching provided you know you’re getting a hard sell for about a third of the film.

Forrest J. Ackerman is in it briefly explaining what fanzines are and how Siegel and Shuster got their start in sf fandom.

(14) SPACEX ISS MISSION SUCCESSFUL. “SpaceX capsule with 4 astronauts reaches space station”WDRB has the story.

SpaceX’s newly launched capsule with four astronauts arrived Monday at the International Space Station, their new home until spring.

The Dragon capsule pulled up and docked late Monday night, following a 27-hour, completely automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The linkup occurred 262 miles (422 kilometers) above Idaho.

“Oh, what a good voice to hear,” space station astronaut Kate Rubins called out when the Dragon’s commander, Mike Hopkins, first made radio contact….

(15) WHERE NO GREEN TOY HAS GONE BEFORE. “‘Star Wars’ Fans Notice An Adorable Addition To The New Space Station Crew”Yahoo! News has details.

…Eagle-eyed “Star Wars” fans spotted an adorable addition to the crew that launched into space on Sunday: The Child, better known as Baby Yoda.

The four astronauts onboard used a plush toy of the beloved character from the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” to determine whether they had reached zero gravity:

(16) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Songbird takes place in week 215 of the national lockdown, where people quarantined under Covid-23 have to be placed in camps.  Good times!  Produced by Michael Bay.

(17) ACQUISITION. Publishers Lunch reports:

Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw’s THE DEAD TAKE THE A TRAIN, about a freelance psychic operative tracking an ever-morphing supernatural serial killer in New York City, to Diana Gill at Nightfire, with Kelly Lonesome editing, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown for Kadrey, and by Michael Curry at Donald Maass Literary Agency for Khaw.

(18) ITTY BITTY TEENY WEENY BACTERIAL SPACE MINERS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The New York Times reports “These Microbes May Help Future Martians and Moon People Mine Metals”. (May be paywalled.)

An experiment aboard the space station showed that bacteria were effective at extracting rare earth elements from rocks.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Toy Story 4” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the fourth Toy Story movie has Keanu Reeves in it because we all love Keanu Reeves and has “many beloved character actors getting paid only to say ‘Woody’ or ‘Buzz.'”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Gary Feldbaum, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 1/18/20 The Previous Title Appears to Be Accurate

(1) THE FOREVER FRANCHISE. Dave Itzkoff wonders “Can ‘Star Trek’ Chart a Way Forward?” in New York Times Magazine.

Michael Chabon’s job used to consist of writing novels, earning literary acclaim and receiving the occasional prestigious award. But this past June he was racing around the soundstages here at “Star Trek: Picard,” where he was working as an executive producer.

Chabon, a 56-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner, strode through hallways decorated with timelines that chronicled the fictional histories of alien empires and stepped onto the set of a futuristic spacecraft. He giggled to himself as he toyed with some of the fake technology, occasionally exclaiming “Engage!,” and flashed a thumbs-up across the room to the “Picard” star Patrick Stewart as he rehearsed a scene.

These were all welcome perks in Chabon’s new line of work. But what drew him to “Star Trek” as a fan in his teens and kept him invested as a producer, he said, was an underlying message about humanity that was hopeful within reason.

“It’s not saying human beings are basically wonderful and if we just learn to agree, all our problems will go away,” he explained. “It takes work. It takes effort.”

…“If you feel that each piece is handcrafted with care, then I think people really appreciate it,” said Alex Kurtzman, an executive producer of the many new “Star Trek” series. “If you feel like a universe is being shoved down your throat for speed and dollars, there’s no faster way to lose an audience.”

(2) OPENING THE DOOR TO BOOK BANNING. PEN America protests that “Proposed Book Banning Bill in Missouri Could Imprison Librarians”.

 … The bill — the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act or House Bill 2044 — aims to add several provisions to the state’s funding law for public libraries. These new provisions establish “parental library review boards” that would evaluate whether any library materials constitute “age-inappropriate sexual material.” Members of these five-member boards, who would be elected at a town meeting by a simple majority of voters, are empowered to determine whether material is appropriate, including by evaluating its literary merit. Public librarians are explicitly barred by the statute from serving on such review boards, even if they are from the community.

“This is a shockingly transparent attempt to legalize book banning in the state of Missouri,” said James Tager, deputy director of Free Expression Research and Policy at PEN America. “This act is clearly aimed at empowering small groups of parents to appoint themselves as censors over their state’s public libraries. Books wrestling with sexual themes, books uplifting LGBTQIA+ characters, books addressing issues such as sexual assault—all of these books are potentially on the chopping block if this bill is passed.”

Under the act, the boards would hold public hearings to receive suggestions as to possible inappropriate books, and would have the authority to order the library to remove any such material from access by minors. Any public library who allows minors access to such “age-inappropriate materials” would have their funding stripped, and librarians who refuse to comply with the act can be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.

(3) KGB. Ellen Datlow posted her photos from the January 15 KGB readings where Richard Kadrey read from his new novel The Grand Dark and Cassandra Khaw read from her forthcoming novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth.

Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey 1
Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey

(4) PANTSER. At Whatever, “The Big Idea: Simon Jimenez” begins with a confession:

I wrote no encyclopedia and I drew no map before I began writing The Vanished Birds. I laid the track as the train chugged forward and hoped I wouldn’t be outpaced and run over. Of course I was. I wince now as I think back on all the soft resets and double-backs and total rethinks and rewrites I had to do. I’d blame this all on the fact that it was my first book and I didn’t know what I was doing, but that wouldn’t be the truth. This is how I tend to go about all things. Without a plan and screaming in freefall.

(5) WITCHER APPECIATION SOCIETY. On YouTube, Paste’s Allison Keene and Josh Jackson celebrate the new fantasy series from Netflix.

(6) COP ON THE CORNER. “Nine years later, Detroit’s RoboCop statue is finally ready for installation”Curbed Detroit has the story.

It started with a successful Kickstarter campaign. A mere nine years later, the RoboCop statue is nearly done.

The campaign, launched by the community arts nonprofit Imagination Station in March 2011, received $67,436 in donations.

In an update from December 31, 2019, the team showcased photos to scores of eager backers of the enormous, bronze, nearly finished statue. “Here are a last few teaser pics of Robo in the positioning and welding process before his final form is unveiled later this winter, with installation details to follow,” wrote Brandon Walley of the Imagination Station.

The last touches include installing its head and adding a gray patina, now only visible on a breastplate. Once finished around March, the recreation of the original Peter Weller costume will stand 11 feet tall.

(7) RETRO RESEARCH. Cora Buhlert has posted two more reviews of 1945 Retro Hugo eligible works, namely “The Big and the Little” a.k.a. “The Merchant Princes” by Isaac Asimov, which is the second Foundation story of 1944, and “Guard in the Dark”, a horror story by Allison V. Harding.

She’s also posted a roundup of links to other reviews of eligible 1944 works, including several reviews by Steve J. Wright:  “Retro Review Links for January 15, 2020”.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 18, 1952 Tales of Tomorrow’s Frankenstein first aired on ABC. It would be the sixteenth episode of the first season of the series. It was directed by Don Medford. The episode starred Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of Frankenstein’s monster and John Newland in the role of Victor Frankenstein. Lon Chaney, Jr. Is credited here as Lon Chaney as he was in all his later work. He’s no stranger to playing the Monster as he played the role of the monster in the Universal Pictures Ghost of Frankenstein a decade earlier. You can watch it here.
  • January 18, 1959 Cage of Doom premiered in the United Kingdom. (It would be called Terror from the Year 5000 in the States.) it’s credits were long, so have patience when we say that it was by produced by Robert J. Gurney Jr., Samuel Z. Arkoff, James H. Nicholson, and Gene Searchinger. It was directed by Robert J. Gurney Jr., and starred Ward Costello, Joyce Holden, John Stratton, Salome Jens, and Fred Herrick. The story was actually based on an actually SFF story that ran in in the April 1957 issue of Fantastic, Henry Slesar’s “Bottle Baby”. It is not credited as such however. It’s not a great film and hence it got featured in the eighth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are sure it’s not good giving it a Zero percent approval rating though we caution only a little over a hundred cared enough to express a view. You can watch it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Talking fat bears obsessed with honey. Bouncing tigers, err, tiggers. Morose, well, what is he? It’s certainly genre. And though it isn’t remotely genre, I wholeheartedly recommend Milne’s The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1920 Constance Moore. She gets Birthday Honors for being in the 1939 movie serial Buck Rogers in which she was Wilma Deering, the only female character in the serial.  Were there ever other female main cast characters in Buck Rogers?(Died 2005.)
  • Born January 18, 1932 Robert Anton Wilson. Conspiracy nut or SF writer? Or both. I think I first encountered him in something Geis wrote about him in SFR in the Eighties. Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy is just weird and might or might not be a sequel to The Illuminatus! Trilogy. But the absolutely weirdest thing he did I think is an interview titled Robert Anton Wilson On Finnegans Wake and Joseph Campbell. Yes, he frothed at the mouth on Campbell and Joyce! (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 87. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur with Sean Connery, and one of the worst with that also starred Sean Connery, Zardoz. He also directed the rather nifty The Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelising.
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 18, 1943 Paul Freeman, 77. Best remembered I’d say for being the evil René Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He also played Professor Moriarty in Without a Clue which had Michael Caine as Holmes and Kingsley as Watson.
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennett, 67. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Alll of the Liavek anthologies are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug. 
  • Born January 18, 1964 Jane Horrocks, 56. Her first SFF video role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in The Witches, scripted off the Roald Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) JUGGLING THE BOOKS. “Majipoor – Les Objets Volants” took inspiration from a Robert Silverberg novel to create this stage act.

Majipoor is a fantastic journey through juggling and object manipulation, an exploration of objects and bodies, individuals and community.

The show is freely inspired from Robert Silverberg’s 1980 novel «Lord Valentine’s Castle». This is the story of an identity winning back, a route surrounded by exotic landscapes on giant planet Majipoor, along with a juggling company of intelligent four-handed being called Skandars.

(12) WATER LOSS ON MARS GREATER THAN THOUGHT. Science reports that water is easily transported high into the atmosphere during storms and lost. This takes place even during the dusty season. “Stormy water on Mars: The distribution and saturation of atmospheric water during the dusty season”.

Mars once hosted abundant water on its surface but subsequently lost most of it to space. Small amounts of water vapor are still present in the atmosphere, which can escape if they reach sufficiently high altitudes. Fedorova et al. used data from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter spacecraft to determine the distribution of water in Mars’ atmosphere and investigate how it varies over seasons. Water vapor is sometimes heavily saturated, and its distribution is affected by the planet’s large dust storms. Water can efficiently reach the upper atmosphere when Mars is in the warmest part of its orbit, and this behavior may have controlled the overall rate at which Mars lost its water.

(13) VERY OLD BIRDS OF A FEATHER. SYFY Wire also reports on the distant past: “This new dinosaur just called it: even feathered dinos were nothing like birds”.

Some dinosaurs looked like birds. Some prehistoric birds looked like dinosaurs, and some birds that are still around echo dinosaurs. That doesn’t mean feathers and wings always make a bird—or a dinosaur.

Wulong bohaiensis was a small feathered therapod that lived 120 million years ago in what is now China, going twice as far back as T. rex. The dinosaur species this creature is most closely related to is (another star of Jurassic Park) the Velociraptor. “Wulong” translates to “dancing dragon,” and the fantastic specimen, which is preserved so well that even some of its feathers are frozen in time, is not only dragon-like, but also birdlike. The thing is that the bones and feathers revealed this newly unearthed dino to be a juvenile who went through different growing pains than birds….

(14) TIS MANY A SLIP. Popsugar thinks “Disney’s New Space Mountain Mug Is Light Years Ahead of Everything Else in My Kitchen Cabinet”.

Official blog Oh My Disney recently announced the upcoming arrival of Space Mountain mugs at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in honor of the high-speed roller coaster’s 45th anniversary.

(15) RELATIVELY WRONG. This week Andrew Porter saw another wrong question on Jeopardy! Can you believe it?

Final Jeopardy: Children’s Literature

Answer: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Max Planck’s Quantum Theory inspired this book that won a 1963 Newberry Medal.

Wrong question: “What is ‘The Fault in Our Stars’?”

Correct question: “What is ‘A Wrinkle in Time’?”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Terry Pratchett: Back in Black” on Vimeo is a 2018 documentary about Sir Terry’s life from BBC Scotland. (Vimeo setting requires it be watched at their site.)

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Cora Buhlert, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 1/8/20 That’s Only A Bit More Than Thirty Books A Day

(1) EXPELLIARMUS. No wands, no dragon? Who snitched? “Community board says no to ‘Harry Potter’ dragon landing in Flatiron District” reports Crain’s New York Business.

The enchanted world of Harry Potter has crashed broomstick-first into the less magical world of New York City land-use review. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that members of Manhattan’s Community Board 5 are objecting to parts of the plan from Warner Bros. to open a Harry Potter–themed exhibit and store in a landmarked building in the Flatiron District. The studio has proposed opening a roughly 20,000-square-foot store called Wizarding World at 935 Broadway, the former home of upscale furniture brand Restoration Hardware. 

Crain’s first reported in September that Warner Bros. had reached a deal with the building’s landlord, Shefa Land Corp., for the store. 

Design firm Studio Superette unveiled plans for the store at the hearing Tuesday. The design calls for adding a fiberglass dragon with a clock, two backlit Harry Potter signs and six flagpoles, designed to look like wands, to the building’s facade, the Journal reported. 

The changes require approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which refers such requests to community boards for a recommendation before making a decision. 

Members of the community board’s landmarks committee said the design ideas represent “inappropriate signage,” according to the Journal, and voted unanimously to recommend against approval. 

The full community board will vote on the proposal later this month before sending its recommendation to the city landmarks commission, according to the report. 

(2) A SHOCK. Steve Stiles, one of fandom’s all-time most popular artists, revealed sad news on Facebook saying, “So the word is: I’ve got a few months, more or less.”

(3) ANLAB. Analog invites readers to name their favorites by filling out the Analytical Laboratory Readers’ Award Ballot by February 1, 2020.

(4) NO MORE FEUDIN’, FUSSIN’, AND FIGHTIN’. David Gerrold’s explanation why he didn’t write a rant is certainly no less interesting than if he’d indulged the impulse. He begins —

I was going to write a rant about how writers should be supportive of each other.

Then I realized …

I’m naive. ….

(5) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw on Wednesday, January 15, 7:00 p.m.at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York).

Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim dark urban fantasy series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and is in production as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include The Grand Dark, The Everything Box, Hollywood Dead, and Butcher Bird. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s currently partnered with Winterlight Productions for his original horror screenplay, Dark West

Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is a scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Her fiction has been nominated for the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award, and her game writing has won a German Game Award. You can find her short stories in places like F&SF, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. Her novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out from Nightfire, the new Tor horror imprint in 2021.

(6) CANADA READS. The Canada Reads 2020 The longlist has a few genre entries. The listed books speak to the theme: “One book to bring Canada into focus.”

We’re looking at Canada’s 2020 vision. How do we move forward together? These books inspire readers to think twice about the lens through which they see themselves and Canada.

The final five books will be revealed on January 22.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 8, 1958Teenage Monster premiered and you can see the trailer here. It was produced and directed by Jacques R. Marquette, and starred Anne Gwynne (who was a scream queen in the Forties but past her prime now) and Stuart Wade. It played as double bill with The Brain from Planet Arous which is a story unto Itself.If you saw it on television, It was called Meteor Monster. We can find reviews of it at the time (not unusual) and It has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. The Fifties is littered with similar films. 
  • January 8, 1967 It’s About Time aired “To Catch A Thief.”  It’s here today because we’ve never heard of this series before. It was created by Sherwood Schwartz, and used sets, props and the music bits from his other television series shooting at the time, Gilligan’s Island. Its cast was Frank Aletter, Jack Mullaney, Imogene Coca, Joe E. Ross, Cliff Norton and Mike Mazurki.  It lasted but one season and twenty six episodes, considerably shorter than his other show did. This futuristic spaceman meet cavemen comedy bombed  in the ratings after the first few episodes. 
  • January 8, 2006 – The BBC’s Hyperdrive enjoyed its premiere. The series  was written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, directed by John Henderson and produced by Alex Walsh-Taylor. The cast was Nick Frost, Kevin Eldon,  Miranda Hart, Stephen Evans, Dan Antopolski and Petra Massey. BBC ran it for two seasons and twelve episode. It’s a comedy with a decidedly scatological and crude sexual bent.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 8, 1908 William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who first appeared when Doctor Who firstaired on November 23, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
  • Born January 8, 1925 Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty-one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire tv career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. And yes you can see him here as Flash Gordon. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 8, 1941 Boris Vallejo, 79. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
  • Born January 8, 1942 Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode?  He also guest starred in Futurama and had  a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 8, 1947 David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger, an erotic and kinky film worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI AgentPhillip Jeffries, which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series.  He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel. Ok, what did I am leaving y’all to mention? (Died 2016.)
  • Born January 8, 1956 Jack Womack, 64. Ok, I was trying to remember what I’d read by him. I realized it was his excellent Ambient novel when it first came out and that I hadn’t kept up with his later writings. So what do y’all think of his later novels? I know, he stopped witting essentially a generation ago except for his Flying Saucers Are Real! non-fiction release. Non-fiction?
  • Born January 8, 1977 Amber Benson, 43. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
  • Born January 8, 1979 Sarah Polley, 41. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh, she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The MovieExistenzNo Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the DeadBeowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range jokes about studying fantastic beasts in Oz.

(10) ROBOCOP ISN’T WHAT HE USED TO BE. Metro (U.K.) says this happened in the Los Angeles area — “Police robot told woman to go away after she tried to report crime – then sang a song”.

…Cogo Guebara rushed over to the motorized police officer and pushed its emergency alert button on seeing the brawl break out in Salt Lake Park, Los Angeles, last month. But instead of offering assistance, the egg-shaped robot, whose official name is HP RoboCop, barked at Guebara to ‘Step out of the way’. To add insult to injury, the high-tech device then rolled away while humming an ‘intergalactic tune’, pausing periodically to say ‘Please keep the park clean.’

The explanation turned out to be disgustingly simple:

Local Police Chief Cosme Lozano says the robots, which cost between $60,000 and $70,000 a year to lease, are still in a trial phase and that their alert buttons have not yet been activated.

(11) GHOSTLY ACCOMODATIONS. Kevin Standlee of the 2021 Westercon in Tonopah wants you to know —  

This is neither the closest hotel to the Tonopah Convention Center nor the largest of the hotels in Tonopah, but for some reason it seems to get a lot of interest.

Read more about it here: “A Haunted Clown Themed Hotel Next To a Graveyard, Would You Stay?”

(12) FANTASTIC NATURE. “Natural History Museum will showcase ‘fantastic beasts'” – BBC shows how the museum will complement and compete with Rowling. The show will run for seven months before heading out on an international tour.

It’s one of the more remarkable specimens taken into London’s Natural History Museum. It’s certainly one of the most “fantastic”.

The horn comes from an Erumpent, a fictional beast created in the mind of author JK Rowling.

It’s going to feature in a major new exhibition at the South Kensington institution this spring, in which the extraordinary creatures of the Harry Potter universe are used to shine a light on some of the “magical” animals that exist in the real world.

The NHM is describing the show as its most ambitious to date.

…The exhibition will put 50 specimens from the museum’s world famous collections next to props from the Potter movies. Interactive displays will compare and contrast different animals.

“You’ll recall the Erumpent’s mating dance from Fantastic Beasts. We’ll be making comparisons with the peacock spider, which has its own extraordinary movements that it uses to attract a mate,” explained the NHM executive.

(13) ROBOTS ON DISPLAY. Through February 9, the Dundee branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum is having an exhibit called “Hello, Robot:  Design Between Human and Machine”, which has many, many robots. 

From the robots we know and love, to the robot in your pocket, explore the fascinating future of robots at work, at home and in the blurring boundaries between human and machine.

With new technological developments being made every day, it has never been more important to explore our relationships with robotics.

Explore the influence of robots through four galleries that draw you into a conversation with simple but thought-provoking questions.

Trace our fascination with the science and fiction of robots before delving into an evolving world of industry and work. Consider the role of robots as companions and helpers and explore what the future may hold as we find new ways to tackle social and environmental problems. Would you live in a robot? And can they make us better than nature intended?

(14) DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH. Accordnig to NME, “Fox is considering a revival of Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’”.

Michael Thorn, Fox’s president of entertainment, shared his thoughts on the matter with The Wrap. “Any time we look at one of our classic titles, if there’s a way to reinvent it for today so it’s as resonant now as the original was, and is, to the fans, we’re wide open,” he said.

“I loved ‘Firefly,’ personally, and I watched every episode. I didn’t work on it, but I loved the show. It had come up before, but we had ‘The Orville’ on the air and it didn’t make sense for us to have, as a broadcast network who is very targeted, to have two space franchises on our air.”

The Orville now airs on Hulu, but [Firefly executive producer Tim Minnear] is allegedly currently tied up with a number of other projects.

(15) BABY, IT’S OLD OUTSIDE. “Vast ‘star nursery’ region found in our galaxy” – BBC has the story.

Astronomers have discovered a vast structure in our galaxy, made up of many interconnected “nurseries” where stars are born.

The long, thin filament of gas is a whopping 9,000 light-years long and 400 light-years wide.

It lies around 500 light-years from our Sun, which is relatively close by in astronomical distances.

…An international team analysed data from the European Gaia space telescope, which was launched in 2013.

The monolithic structure has been dubbed the Radcliffe Wave, in honour of Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“What we’ve observed is the largest coherent gas structure we know of in the galaxy, organized not in a ring but in a massive, undulating filament,” said co-author Joao Alves, from the University of Vienna, Austria, and Harvard.

…Co-author Prof Alyssa Goodman, from Harvard, commented: “We were completely shocked when we first realised how long and straight the Radcliffe Wave is, looking down on it from above in 3D.”

(16) FIGURES. “Batman, Wonder Woman, Paddington and Bugs Bunny Join New Statues in London’s Leicester Square” – photos and more info at Bleeding Cool.

‘Scenes in the Square’ is a new installation at London’s Leicester Square next month that will include eight dynamic statues – which means they will be integrated into the existing landscape of the Square, rather than actually move or anything. Regarded as the home of cinema in Britain, Leicester Square has had a statue of Charlie Chaplin for many years. From February 27th, he will be joined by statues of Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny, Gene Kelly, Mary Poppins, Batman, Mr Bean, Paddington and Wonder Woman, sculpted by David Field.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Hampus Eckerman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes o File 770 contributing editor of the day rgl.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/19 I Have Pixeled The Scroll Less Tickboxed, And That Has Made All The DIfference

(1) TIPTREE BIOGRAPHER WEIGHS IN. Julie Phillips, author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, shared her research about the death of Tiptree and her husband. Thread starts here.

(2) STOKERCON UK ADDS GUEST. Mick Garris will be StokerCon UK’s media guest of honor in 2020.

STOKERCON UK—the Horror Writers Association’s fifth annual celebration of horror and dark fantasy in creative media and the first to be held outside of North America—is delighted to welcome award-winning American film-maker MICK GARRIS as its latest Guest of Honour.

Mick Garris began writing fiction at the age of twelve. By the time he was in high school, he was writing music and film journalism for various local and national publications, and during college, edited and published his own pop culture magazine. Steven Spielberg hired Mick as story editor on the AMAZING STORIES TV series for NBC, where he wrote or co-wrote ten of the forty-four episodes. Since then, he has written or co-scripted a number of feature films and teleplays (*BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, THE FLY II, HOCUS POCUS, CRITTERS 2 and NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES, amongst many others).

As a director and producer, he has worked in a wide range of media, including feature films (CRITTERS 2, SLEEPWALKERS, RIDING THE BULLET, NIGHTMARE CINEMA); made-for-TV movies (QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY, VIRTUAL OBSESSION, DESPERATION); cable movies and series (PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and its spin-off RAVENSWOOD, WITCHES OF EAST END, SHADOWHUNTERS, DEAD OF SUMMER, ONCE UPON A TIME); network mini-series (THE STAND, THE SHINING, BAG OF BONES); series pilots (THE OTHERS, LOST IN OZ) and series (SHE-WOLF OF LONDON). He is also the creator and executive producer of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR anthology series, as well as creator of the NBC series, FEAR ITSELF.

Mick is known for his highly-rated podcast, POST MORTEM WITH MICK GARRIS, where he sits down with some of the most revered film-makers in the horror and fantasy genre for one-on-one discussions, including the likes of Stephen King, John Carpenter, Roger Corman, Walter Hill, Neil Gaiman, and many others….

(3) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. John Coxon has posted his report: “Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon”. Lots of in-depth talk about facilities, parties and program.

Finally, let’s talk parties. These were so much better than Loncon 3 and Helsinki, and represent the first party scene outside a US Worldcon that I’ve thought really worked. The model of having programme rooms by day become party rooms by night worked well, and in general it was a fun time. There was a failure mode — the queue to get a drink in the Glasgow in 2024 party was as big as the room, making it difficult to actually enjoy the party after you’d got your drink through no fault of the organisers — but most parties were a good mixture of people, pleasant to spend time in, and had interesting drinks and snacks (although the expense of having to use conference centre catering meant these often ran out quite early). Having the bar just down one floor meant that if you got bored of the parties you could head back, and vice versa. This felt nicer than the fan village in Loncon 3 mostly because that space was one, gigantic space with no nooks or crannies, which to me fails to capture what’s nice about drinking at Eastercon, i.e. the ability to find a little niche and settle with friends, or go from niche to niche changing context. Dublin very much captured that feeling, and the nightlife felt much, much more like a giant Eastercon than it did at Loncon 3. I liked that the bar was named in honour of Martin Hoare, who died shortly before the convention.

(4) AUTOPSYING THE ART BOOK CATEGORY. 2019 Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte’s extensive analysis of “A Hugo Award for Best Art Book: the 2019 experiment”, on his blog From the Heart of Europe, includes this statistical summary:

So, we unleashed it along with the other Hugo and Retro Hugo categories in January, and tallied the results after nominations closed in May. Participation at nominations stage was frankly disappointing.

  • Best Art Book had the lowest participation at nominations stage of any 2019 category (248 voters compared to the next lowest two: 290 for Best Fan Artist and 297 for Best Fanzine).
  • It had the lowest number of nominees (78, compared to the next lowest two: 91 for Best Semiprozine and 102 for Best Fanzine).
  • The top finalist in the category had the lowest number of votes for a top finalist in any category (51, compared to the next lowest two: 70 for the top finalist in Best Fan Writer and 72 for the top finalist in Best Fancast).
  • The lowest-placed finalist had the second lowest number of votes for the lowest-placed finalist in any category (28, ahead of 25 for the lowest-placed finalist in Best Fan Artist but behind 33 for the lowest-placed finalist in Best Graphic Story).
  • The sixteenth-ranked nominee had the second lowest number of votes for any category (6, compared to 5 for Best Fan Artist and 8 for Best Fanzine).
  • The count for Best Fan Artist had the second lowest number of rounds of any category (36, ahead of 31 for Best Fanzine, behind 43 for Best Semiprozine).
  • The votes cast for the top 16 nominees were 51, 47, 47, 39, 30, 28, 25, 24, 24, 19, 15, 12, 12, 10, 8 and 6.

(5) WFC 2019 ROOMS. This year’s World Fantasy Con committee reminded everyone time is fleeting – click here for room reservations.

As a reminder, the World Fantasy Convention 2019 hotel discount block closes on September 30! You can reserve a hotel room at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel for $149 (plus taxes & fees) by visiting our Venue page below, and clicking on the “Book Your Room Now” rate.

(6) HUGO LOSERS PARTY. Beyond the File 770 comments section, there have been trenchant responses to George R.R. Martin’s post about the party.

Alex Acks writes, “I didn’t feel personally belittled until this moment: George’s Hugo Losers Party explanation”.

There are a few things in particular I’d like to respond to in George’s epic non-apology.

I do not know that anything I can say will appease those who did not get into the party… but I can at least explain what happened, and why.

We’re writers. Words and word choice matter, and we’re not going to pretend otherwise. I do not need to be appeased like a tantrummy child, and I don’t appreciate the implication. I wanted an apology for those of us left out in the cold.

I actually do appreciate the explanation of the communication issues, of how things got so messy. The party is a large undertaking. It’s also George’s party, and as I have stated before, he can invite who he bloody well pleases. I also do appreciate this:

We knew the capacity of the floor we were renting well in advance, and worried whether the 450 limit would be a problem for us.   The possibility was there, we all saw that.    But there was no easy answer, so in the end we decided to go ahead as planned in the hopes that things would work out.   The final decision was mine.   It was the wrong decision.

Which is then rather deflated by:

A number of the louder Twitterers have stated SOMETIMES IN SCREAMING CAPS that it is simplicity itself to calculate the number of attendees at a party.   That makes me suspect that none of them have ever organized one, at least not one as big as the Hugo Losers Party.

Feel free to name me if you have a problem with me. I certainly used screaming caps because I was, I would hope understandably, upset…

Renay, part of the team that creates Lady Business, this year’s Best Fanzine Hugo winner, took issue with the entire post, of course, especially objecting to this phrase:

Also, whereas in the past categories like fanzine and semiprozines only had one editor, and therefore one nominee (Andy Porter for ALGOL, DIck Geis for ALIEN CRITIC, Charlie Brown for LOCUS, Mike Glyer for FILE 770, etc.), now most of them seem to be edited by four, five, or seven people, all of whom expect rockets and nominee invitations.

Thread stars here.

Alexandra Erin makes extensive comments beginning here.

Kat Tanaka Okopnik, who experienced the inconvenience of waiting to get into the party, shared observations on Facebook.

We (waiting outside) had no idea the buses weren’t supplied by GRRM. It added to the consternation.

It was raining intermittently, the buses had left, and there as no shelter and no seating. Most of us were willing to stand, although it was cold and most of us were not prepared for standing outside — femme party clothes don’t prioritize weatherproofness. We asked for seats for people who needed not to be standing.

…I’m writing this account in hopes of adding to the aggregate narrative about the night, and with the expectation that having more facts and viewpoints available affects the way someone might think of the events and choices that lead to them. GRRM’s generosity is legendary, but it’s true that we shouldn’t expect it to be bottomless. I thank him for both his hospitality and for the accounting he has shared with us giving insight into his planning process.

Lastly, someone slipped a joke onto the internet!

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1875 Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Now I’d not necessarily disagree or agree wth that statement but I would note that he has largely fallen out of public notice once again. (Died 1950.)
  • Born September 1, 1936 Gene Colan. He co-created with Stan Lee the Falcon, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics. He created Carol Danvers, who would become Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, and was featured in Captain Marvel. With Marv Wolfman, he created Blade. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 1, 1941 Elen Willard, 78. She’s best known for her portrayal of the character Ione Sykes in “The Grave” episode  of The Twilight Zone. You can rent it on iTunes or Amazon. She also shows up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘s “The Jingle Bells Affair”. 
  • Born September 1, 1942 C. J. Cherryh, 77. I certainly think the Hugo Award winning Downbelow Station and Cyteen are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners.
  • Born September 1, 1943 Erwin Strauss, 76. A noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician who born in Washington, D.C. He frequently is known by the nickname Filthy Pierre. He’s is the creator of the Voodoo message board system once used at cons such as Worldcon, WisCon and Arisia. 
  • Born September 1, 1951 Donald G. Keller, 68. He co-edited The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman which I highly recommend. He is a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and he’s member of the editorial board of Slayage, the online Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies.
  • Born September 1, 1952 Brad Linaweaver. Mike’s remembrance post is here. (Died 2019.)
  • Born September 1, 1952 Timothy Zahn, 68. Apparently he’s known more these days for the Thrawn series of Star Wars novels.
  • Born September 1, 1964 Martha Wells, 55. She’s has won a Nebula Award, a Locus Award, and two Hugo Awards. Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Dairies are amazing reading? 
  • Born September 1, 1967 Steve Pemberton, 52. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in Gormenghast and Harmony in Good Omens.

(8) BIRTHDAY PARTY IN PROGRESS. [Item by Standback.] Cassandra Khaw’s “Birthday Microfiction” has been exploding all over Twitter and it’s fantastic. You can see lots and lots and LOTS of people throwing their hat into the ring here.

Lots of great ones, large and small. My favorite so far is Marissa Lingen’s “hardest experience in a magic ollege major” thread; they’re on-point and fantastic.

Some excellent ones that could use some more prompts:

* A continuing story, @fromankyra:

* Strange dubbed TV, Laura Blackwell:

* Imaginary TV shows, Evelyn Chirson:

…and, I’m doing one too, if you want to hear how your themed birthday party is going to pan out.

It’s a lot of fun

(9) SPOOKY HISTORY. ‘Tis the season to remember who made it up — “Have You Ever Heard of a Halloween Tree?”

It can be speculated that the Halloween tree got its start from the 1972 fantasy novel by Ray Bradbury. In the novel, eight boys are out trick-or-treating on Halloween night when they realize their friend Pipkin has been taken away. The trick-or-treaters find their way through time, wandering through Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greek, and Ancient Roman cultures, Celtic Druidism, the Notre Dame in Medieval Paris, and finally the Day of the Dead in Mexico. As the friends travel through time, they learn the origins of Halloween and in the end, the Halloween Tree, filled with jack-o-lanterns, serves as a spooky metaphor for all the different cultures and how they celebrate Halloween.

(10) HONK IF YOU LOVE GAMING. “A gaming company is releasing something called “Untitled Goose Game” and people are losing their honking minds”CNN has the story.

If you have ever wanted to be a “horrible goose” House House’s new video game Untitled Goose Game, may be for you.

The Australian gaming company released a honking new trailer for the game that has been in the works for three years and comes out on September 20.

And there are options. You can be a goose on your Nintendo Switch, Mac or PC and terrorize the citizens of a village.

(11) PRIORITIES. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid for August 30, 2019 talks about what it’s like to not win a Hugo, and what’s worse than losing —

That is an amazing set of winners! Especially delighted to see Zen Cho, Jeanette Ng, Becky Chambers and Mary Robinette Kowal recognized. That being said. there are times when Hugo voters can, intentionally or not, be cruel. Two of them hit this year.

Charles Payseur getting fewer votes than No Award is indefensible. Charles is a dynamo who, along with colleagues like Maria Haskins, has made short fiction reviewing viable and vital and in doing so has aided the entire field. The industry needs him, it doesn’t need to insult him. I hope next year that’s rectified.

Didi Chanoch‘s thread here covers the ground concerning Gardner Dozois’ posthumous Hugo brilliantly. All I’ll add is this: the voters didn’t recognize the 13 years E Catherine Tobler and Shimmer put into making the industry better. That’s a massive shame.

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. According to Vox: “Brain-reading tech is coming. The law is not ready to protect us.”

Over the past few weeks, Facebook and Elon Musk’s Neuralink have announced that they’re building tech to read your mind — literally.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company is funding research on brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that can pick up thoughts directly from your neurons and translate them into words. The researchers say they’ve already built an algorithm that can decode words from brain activity in real time.

And Musk’s company has created flexible “threads” that can be implanted into a brain and could one day allow you to control your smartphone or computer with just your thoughts. Musk wants to start testing in humans by the end of next year.

Other companies such as Kernel, Emotiv, and Neurosky are also working on brain tech. They say they’re building it for ethical purposes, like helping people with paralysis control their devices.

This might sound like science fiction, but it’s already begun to change people’s lives. Over the past dozen years, a number of paralyzed patients have received brain implants that allow them to move a computer cursor or control robotic arms. Implants that can read thoughts are still years away from commercial availability, but research in the field is moving faster than most people realize.

Your brain, the final privacy frontier, may not be private much longer.

(13) TODAY’S OTHER THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Ars Technica: “How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron”.

As guards were going so far as to check inside NFL fans’ wallets as part of routine security measures before a recent preseason game at Levi’s Stadium, a different form of surveillance was taking place on the inside of the San Francisco 49ers’ one-year-old, $1.3 billion home here in Silicon Valley.

We’re not talking about facial recognition devices, police body cams, or other security measures likely zeroing in on fans. Instead, employees from San Jose-based Zebra Technologies had recently finished scanning the NFL uniforms of the 49ers and of their opponents—the Dallas Cowboys. All of a sudden, an on-the-field de facto surveillance society was instantly created when Zebra techies activated nickel-sized Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chips that were fastened inside players’ shoulder pads. Every movement of every player now could be monitored within an accuracy level of all but a few inches…

(14) THREE YEARS BEFORE 1984. Andrew Strombeck looks back at “The Year of the Werewolf” at LA Review of Books and asks what it tells us about our current moment.

Why all the lycanthropy? The werewolf was an apt figure for 1981, a moment when prominent commentators worried that many Americans had become too self-focused. Tom Wolfe had first advanced the argument in 1976, dubbing the 1970s the “me” decade, wherein Americans, under the lingering influence of the counterculture, were spending way too much time cultivating their bodies and minds. Christopher Lasch’s 1979 The Culture of Narcissism was so popular that Lasch was invited to the White House, where his ideas would influence Jimmy Carter’s 1979 “crisis of confidence” speech. Linking the OPEC embargo, Watergate, and a declining economy, Carter told Americans “too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption,” turning away from the broad project of American productivity that characterized the postwar years. By “self-indulgence,” Carter was referring to the human potential movement, a combination of therapeutic techniques, meditation, swinging, and yoga. Lasch blamed these cultures for the baffling emotional, economic, and social violence that seemed everywhere: in rising divorce rates, widespread unemployment, and the destruction of the inner city.

(15) EAST OF JAVA. BBC looks back at the “Game of Thrones makers on that coffee cup blunder and season eight”.

The Game of Thrones creators said they would be “very far from the internet” when the final episode of the show aired, and it seems they were true to their word.

It’s been more than three months and David Benioff and DB Weiss have just given their first interview addressing Game of Thrones’ controversial eighth season.

While Japan’s Star Channel didn’t ask about the nearly 2 million people that have signed a petition calling for the final season to be re-made, they did bring up that coffee cup – the one left in a scene in front of Daenerys Targaryen.

David Benioff called it their “Persian rug”.

(16) DRAGON AWARDS TRIVIA. The ceremony ran opposite Doctor Who companion Catherine Tate’s appearance and 58 other items starting at 5:30 p.m. per the list in the online schedule.

[Thanks to Standback, Jeffrey Smith, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Contrarius, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/18 There’s Thirteen Hundred And Fifty-Two Pixel Scrollers In Fileville

(1) PLAYING IT STRAIGHT? Rowling’s retrospective characterization of Dumbledore will not be in evidence in the next Fantastic Beasts movie — “‘Fantastic Beasts’ Sequel Will Avoid Dumbledore’s Gay Sexuality, Director David Yates Confirms”.

Any “Fantastic Beasts” fans hoping the “Harry Potter” universe would finally be ready to explore Dumbledore’s sexuality in the upcoming “The Crimes of Grindelwald” will surely be disappointed, as director David Yates has confirmed that J.K. Rowling’s screenplay mostly avoids the topic. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Yates said the movie does not explicitly include any reference to Dumbledore being gay, despite the fact that Rowling has spoken in the past about the wizard’s sexuality and his romance with the titular Grindelwald.

“Not explicitly,” Yates said when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”

(2) RIDGE RUNNER. From Yahoo! — “Curiosity’s sweeping Mars panorama shows how far it’s come”.

NASA annotated Curiosity’s entire trip showing how it went from its initial landing site to Yellowknife Bay, then on to Darwin, Cooperstown and the Kimberly. From there, it hit Namid Dune, ducked and weaved through Murray Buttes, checked out Ireson Hill, crossed the Bagnold Dunes and landed at Vera Rubin Ridge. The image background shows mountains that form Gale Crater’s ridge, and the foreground lower portions of Mount Sharp, which sits in the middle of the 96-mile wide crater.

The rover had used its nuclear-powered motor to climb 1,073 feet when it took the shot on the northwestern ridge of lower Mount Sharp.

(3) IN AN INTERNET FAR, FAR AWAY. Scott Lynch adds realism to Star Wars.

(4) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Cassandra Khaw and Peternelle van Arsdale on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street — just off 2nd Ave, upstairs – New York.)

Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is the author of the Persons Non Grata series, the Rupert Wong books, and spends a lot of time worrying about those who buy her backlist because they enjoyed Bearly a Lady, her frothy paranormal rom-com. She writes video games for a living, and won an award for doing so. Her short fiction can be found in places like Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and more.

Peternelle van Arsdale

Peternelle van Arsdale is the author of the young adult novel, The Beast Is an Animal, a dark fairy tale, it’s been described as “a swift and compelling read” and “a psychologically intense fantasy” and is being developed by Amazon Studios for a feature film produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free. Her essays have been published by LitHub, Hypable.com, and Culturefly. She’s currently at work on her second novel, also a dark fairy tale, which will be published in March 2019. A former executive editor in the book industry, she is now an independent editorial consultant.

(5) SABRINA RETURNING. Another comic-based series is getting rebooted: “Sabrina the Teenage Witch Netflix release date, cast, trailer: When will the show air?”

Netflix confirmed in September of last year that a remake of the classic 90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch was in the works.

The streaming company has now confirmed the title of the forthcoming show will be Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, who is also leading the Sabrina reboot, posted on Twitter: “Gotta catch up to #Riverdale… A long way to go, but the PATH OF NIGHT begins here…”

His words now confirm the name of the first episode of the new TV show, which is based on the Archie Comics series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

The story of half-witch half-mortal Sabrina Spellman (played by Melissa Joan Hart in the sitcom) is originally from the Archie Comics, like the Netflix original show Riverdale.

The popularity of Riverdale prompted Netflix bosses to consider creating another show from the Archie Comics and so this dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft exclusive to the streaming site was born.

The new version of the fondly remembered character will be played by Mad Men actress Kiernan Shipka.

…Netflix has not yet announced a release date. Filming is set to begin in February and wrap up in October, meaning that we could be looking at a release date some time in 2019.

(6) SWEDISH BNF HOSPITALIZED. SF Journalen reports 2005 Worldcon fan GoH Lars Olov Strandberg suffered a stroke:

Sverifandom’s Grand Old Man, Lars-Olov Strandberg, HOSPITALISED AFTER STROKE. Lars-Olov, now 89 years, was fan GoH of the 2005 Worldcon. A pillar of Swedish fandom since mid-1950’s. Sadly, reports are bad: he’s half-paralysed, can’t communicate.

See Strandberg’s online photo archive at Fanac.org.

Lars-Olov Strandberg was born in 1929 and became active in fandom in 1956, when he attended the first Swedish convention, the Luncon. Lars-Olov was one of the founders of the Scandinavian SF Association (SFSF), and served on the organization’s board of directors for decades afterward. He also served as chairman of the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation after it came into being in the late 1970s.

A very active convention fan, Lars-Olov served as treasurer for most Stockholm conventions, starting with the 1965 Stockon, and continuing throughout the decades of the 1970s and 1980s. He became known internationally from his travels to Worldcons, British Eastercons, and continental European SF conventions. This was facilitated by his profession, as head of life insurance investment training with Sweden’s largest insurance corporation.

According to John-Henri Holmberg, Strandberg was “Sweden’s combination of E. E. Evans, Howard DeVore, and Forry Ackerman: a soft-spoken, self-effacing man whose devotion without any doubt guaranteed the survival of the SFSF.”

(7) RICK RIORDAN PRESENTS. The cover of Yoon Ha Lee’s upcoming middle-grade book has been revealed.

(8) BALLARD CONSIDERED. John Dodds previews what you’ll learn from a study of an opaque SFF author — “Book Review: J. G. Ballard (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) by D. Harlan Wilson” at Amazing Stories.

The popular idea is that “Empire of the Sun” (the Spielberg film that brought Ballard’s work to a wider audience) is an autobiography is false. It is, as Wilson explains, a fictionalised autobiography. And neither are the Ballardian protagonists in some of the novels purely autobiographical. They serve a purpose in the complex machinery of the author’s unique, mainly strange, often deeply obscure and incomprehensible books.

I found the section about his most experimental novel, “The Atrocity Exhibition”, both fascinating and reassuring. Reassuring, in that I felt I did not understand the novel at all when I read in in my early 20s and because Wilson affirms that it more or less defies explanation, though he is very clear about the themes therein. I still remember being completely hooked by the cut-up technique (also beloved of William Burroughs, though Ballard’s approach is very different). I came away from that chapter in this book feeling that it was okay not to understand completely, but also enriched by the author’s commentary on its themes, ideas and exposition.

(9) HINDS OBIT. Author Kathryn Hinds died on January 30:

Kathryn Hinds is a prolific author whose short stories and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. Her most recent works are The Healer’s Choice,  a feminist fantasy novel  published by Dark Oak Press, and The Forty, a collaboration with photographer Fox Gradin and author James Palmer that re-envisions the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Kathryn’s first poetry collection, Candle, Thread, and Flute, came out from Luna Station Press in 2013. That year also saw the release of her six-book series Creatures of Fantasy (Cavendish Square), which brought her total number of nonfiction books for children and young adults to fifty. Her current works in progress include a sequel to The Healer’s Choice along with a novel in verse and a collection of steampunk short stories. Kathryn did graduate work in comparative literature and medieval studies at the City University of New York and is now a lecturer in the English Department of the University of North Georgia. She has lived in Dahlonega, Georgia, since 1995.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 31, 1971 — Apollo 14 departs for the moon.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian enjoyed the horrible literary pun in Brevity.

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Newsweek says get ready — “Earth’s Magnetic Poles Show Signs They’re About to Flip—Exposing Humans to Radiation and Planet-Wide Blackouts”.

Historically, Earth’s North and South magnetic poles have flipped every 200,000 or 300,000 years—except right now, they haven’t flipped successfully for about 780,000 years. But the planet’s magnetic field is at long last showing signs of shifting. Although there’s no way to know yet for sure, it could be gearing up to flip once more, according to Undark Magazine. And that possibility is raising new speculation about what that means for planetary life.

Our planet’s magnetic field protects us from lethal levels of radiation from phenomena like solar rays. The dangerous particles never hit us directly, because upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere the magnetic field deflects them and forces them to move around, according to NASA. So the prospect of that field weakening, which it does when it’s getting ready to flip, is worrisome: It would leave us without sufficient protection.

(13) COLD FACTS. The Planetary Society’s monthly video – “Space Robots in Antarctica” – The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo.

While Picardo speaks to Astronauts and fans on a Star Trek cruise ship, one of our other board members, Dr. Britney Schmidt toughs it out at the South Pole to research how one day robots could work underwater on ice moons.

 

(14) OFF WITH HER HEAD. Here’s a freaky story —

Guests at Disney‘s California Adventure reported getting an unexpected scare when Ursula the sea witch’s head fell off — and she kept singing.

 

(15) SCREENWRITING. Withoutabox has opened the 4th annual ScreenCraft Sci-Fi and Fantasy Screenplay Contest. Full details at the link:

We’re thrilled to announce our 2018 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay Contest! Whether you’re writing a contained science fiction drama or an epic fantasy saga, we want to read your feature film script. The jury is out of this world — with judges who love sci-fi movies — from top companies including 20th Century Fox, Sony and Lionsgate! Don’t miss the industry’s #1 sci-fi & fantasy feature screenplay contest.

…ScreenCraft runs a suite of screenwriting competitions that have a long history of getting writers repped and working. The secret is that ScreenCraft actually determines the winners with judges who work in the particular genre or space – real industry executives (not just readers). The winners get actual meetings with actual executives, so that a relationship forms beyond just a great script.

Judges
Hollywood’s #1 Sci-fi & Fantasy Screenplay Contest jury includes executives from Sony, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate:

Jonathan Wu
Development Executive at 20th Century Fox, the studio behind AVATAR, X-MEN, ANOTHER EARTH, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, PROMETHEUS, PREDATORS and more!

Steven Douglas-Craig
Executive Assistant at Sony Pictures, the studio behind PASSENGERS, GHOSTBUSTERS, MEN IN BLACK, RESIDENT EVIL and SPIDER-MAN.

Meredith Wieck
Development Executive at Lionsgate, the studio behind TWILIGHT, HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT.

(16) IN THE MARKET. Unsung Stories is open for submissions from January 29 to February 26.

Speculative fiction. That means anything not mundane: fantasy; science fiction; horror; weird fiction; magical realism; etc. Complete novels of 40K + words to be considered for print publication.

We are also interested in exploring the potential of shorter fictions that challenge the definition of the traditional novel; sets of novellas or novelettes, interlinked short fictions and the like.

Full details at the link. This is the publisher of The Arrival of Missives, the novella by Aliya Whiteley.

(17) CALL FOR PAPERS. The organisers of the (Un)Ethical Futures conference, held in Melbourne last December, invite contributions for a special themed issue of Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique and an edited essay collection, provisionally titled (Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction. — “CfP: (Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction”

Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2018.

We are interested in submissions that explore the ethical dimensions of utopia, dystopia and science fiction (sf). This focus on ethics allows for a range of topics, including environmental ethics and climate change, human bioethics, animal ethics, the ethical use of technology, ethics of alterity and otherness, as well as related issues of social justice. We welcome submissions that bring these ethical considerations into dialogue with speculative fiction across different genres and modes, from sf about the near or distant future, to alternative histories about better or worse presents, to stories about utopian or dystopian societies. Possible areas of engagement include, but are not limited to:

  • Environmental ethics in speculative climate fiction (“cli-fi”)
  • The treatment or representation of animals, artificial intelligence, aliens or other posthuman or non-human entities in utopia, dystopia and sf
  • Utopian and dystopian dimensions of Indigenous literatures and traditions
  • Postcolonial and critical race theory studies of utopia, dystopia and sf
  • The ethics of alterity and ethical responses to otherness in speculative fiction
  • Politics, activism, social justice and ethics in sf and its fan communities
  • Bioethical issues in sf, including biopunk and cyberpunk subgenres
  • Feminist and queer theory engagement with utopia, dystopia and sf
  • Philosophy, ethics and the utopian impulse

Colloquy is an open access, peer-reviewed journal published by the Literary and Cultural Studies Graduate Research Program at Monash University. We publish scholarly work and creative writing from emerging and established researchers in literary and cultural studies, critical theory, continental philosophy, film and television studies, communications and media studies, and performance studies.

(18) CANNED ANYWAY. An investigation found that the “Worker Who Sent Hawaii False Alert Thought Missile Attack Was Imminent”:

A false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii was sent on Jan. 13 because an emergency worker believed there really was a missile threat, according to a preliminary investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

The report finds that the false alert was not the result of a worker choosing the wrong alert by accident from a drop-down menu, but rather because the worker misunderstood a drill as a true emergency. The drill incorrectly included the language “This is not a drill.”

The top two civilian officials at Hawaii Emergency Management Agency announced their resignations Wednesday, Reuters reports, and the employee who issued the alert was fired. In addition, the agency’s military director told the wire service, a midlevel manager is being suspended.

(19) THE VERDICT. The BBC says “Black Panther reaction is in… and it’s good news”:

It’s not out until 13 February but reviewers got to see the film at its premiere on Monday night.

Here’s a taster of the reaction so far (and we’ll try to avoid any spoilers):

The LA Times’ Trevell Anderson described it as “a love letter about blackness”.

Freelance film writer Rebecca Theodore-Vachon said Black Panther “was everything I wanted and more”.

Fandango’s managing editor, Erik Davis, agreed.

(20) ALMOST BLACK PANTHER. Wesley Snipes started out as a dancer and fully intended to play Black Panther wearing nothing but a leotard. Maybe with some little cat ears on it. The project was never made: “Wesley Snipes Reveals Untold Story Behind His ‘Black Panther’ Film” in The Hollywood Reporter.

“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa,” Snipes tells THR. “It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before.”

Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther was revolutionary as the first African superhero in mainstream comics. The king and kick-butt protector of Wakanda had it all: brawn, brains, wealth and advanced technologies.

Snipes was hooked in an instant when he and his then manager, Doug Robertson, were approached by Marvel for the project. Feeling that Africa, save for the unique animal population, was too commonly shown in film as a depressing, desolate land, Snipes yearned to show its beauty and lush history.

…Recalling the costume idea leaves Snipes in hysterics.

“Actually, I figured it would be a leotard,” he says. “A leotard with maybe some little cat ears on it. I would have to be in shape and just be straight bodied up. I never imagined anything more than a leotard at the time, which I didn’t have a problem with because I started out as a dancer.”

(21) LEGOVERSARY. Lego celebrated its birthday is the most appropriate way —

Building toy giant Lego marked its 60th anniversary by constructing a 10-foot-tall version of a Lego brick from 133,000 smaller Lego bricks.

The company posted a time-lapse video to YouTube showing “Master Builders” at Lego’s U.S. headquarters in Enfield, Conn., using 133,000 Lego bricks to build a massive version of its classic “2×4” Lego brick.

The brick, which weighs 1,200 pounds, took about 350 hours to build, Lego said.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, Cat Eldridge, JJ, ULTRAGOTHA, Standback, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Brian Z., Carl Slaughter, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

2017 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last couple of 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 and 35 of the novellas published in 2016 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

Last year, the result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able 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 decided to do it again this year.

The success of Tor’s novella line seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, and Book Smugglers jumping on the bandwagon, as well as the Big 3 magazines and the online fiction venues – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. Toward the end, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis.

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 in such a case, and to discover that, indeed, 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). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2017 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

Read more…

Pixel Scroll 11/2/17 Contraterrenean Homesick Blues

(1) LEWIS & CLARKING AROUND. Charles Payseur, in “MAPPING SHORT SF/F: Part 2: Fun Short SFF” at Nerds of a Feather, leads readers through a highly interesting survey of where to find the fun stories in sff.

Fun. For some people, fun evokes childhood and a certain kind of carefree energy. For others, it means something more like excitement and adventure and novelty. Mapping fun short SFF is something of a challenge, not because I cannot point to works that I’d consider fun, but because fun is a weirdly nebulous term that, like most things, I probably define oddly in terms of genre. But, as that what I’m seeking to do in this series, I’ll do my best.

To me, fun as a genre operates a lot like horror does. It’s not so much about elements of world building or how the piece conveys message. It’s not about theme or about any one style. When I say it operates a lot like horror, what I mean is that they both are built around a feeling. Horror as a genre is defined (or at least I define it) by its ability to evoke fear and unease in the reader. Whether the story seeks to do that through gore or violence, or through atmosphere and suspense, doesn’t matter so much, because it’s all horror. Similarly, for a story to be fun, it has to be about evoking an emotion. Instead of fear, though, I’d say that fun is about joy. To me, fun SFF stories are those that seek to make the reader feel joyous. Which, given the times, is both an incredibly difficult and important mission….

(2) URBAN UPHEAVAL. James Davis Nicoll presents: “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works Featuring Notable Cities Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. The list includes —

(3) PAGES OF RAGE. Cat Rambo is taking submissions for “If This Goes On”

This project is born of rage and sorrow and hope. Rage at the way America has been stolen and how those thieves have been eating away at its infrastructure. Sorrow at the lives being destroyed in the sorrow as well as for the earth as its protections are stripped away by a kleptocratic and corrupt regime. Sorrow for the way words themselves have been distorted and twisted away from truth.

And hope. Because humans continue to progress and evolve, even though that climb is a rocky one and we slide back sometimes. We seem to have done so recently. And so this anthology, an attempt to rally, to inspire, and to awaken. Some stories will despair, but others will have the light we seek, lamps to light the path and show the pitfalls as we continue upwards.

This anthology is part of my resistance. I hope it will be part of yours as well.

The publisher says:

The anthology will contain up to thirty original stories including contributions from Steven Barnes, Andy Duncan, Chris Kluwe, Alexandra Renwick, and E. Lily Yu. Release is planned for 2018 mid-term election season in order to maximize engagement and encourage readers to take the long view when heading to the polls.

(4) ADDITION TO HUGO VOTING HISTORY. Kevin Standlee announces another gap has been filled-in.

We have updated the 1951 Retro-Hugo Award history page by adding the nominating and final ballot statistics for that year.

(5) CAN’T MAKE UP MY MIND. Four days left to answer Adam-Troy Castro’s poll question –

(6) CONSTRUCTION CREW. Jeffe Kennedy tells how she tapped the SFWA Forums for useful help in “Building Worlds with SFWA” at the SFWA Blog.

Still, when I went to self-publish a whole new series, to be safe as possible and avoid any trouble, I wanted it to be very clearly an entirely different world. The “easy” way to do that, I decided, was to give this world two moons. It also fit in thematically with the magic system I had in mind, as well as the partnership between enemies that formed the core of the story.

One big problem: I’m a biologist, not an astrophysicist (or whatever discipline this sort of thing falls under) and I had zero clue how the presence of two moons would affect the world.

So, I asked on the SFWA forums! I did not expect what I got: an immediate, detailed deluge of information from how the moons themselves would look, to their phases and orbits, to their effects on the tides, etc. It was amazing and I used almost all of it. By the end of the series—I’m up to four books now—I might indeed use every bit.

(7) EXTIRPATE! Did you know “Dalek operator” is a job? Or that one of them is unemployed today? And that he issued a little F-you on the way out the door? The Gallifrey Times has the story: “Nicholas Pegg fired after including a cryptic offensive message in DWM”.

Nicholas Pegg is known to fans as one of the main Dalek operators since 2005, but he has also been the man behind the entertaining Wotcha column on the final page of Doctor Who Magazine. But not anymore. It was first pointed out in the Mirror that Pegg, under the pen name The Watcher, left a cryptic message in his column in issue #518 of DWM.

If you take the first letter of every sentence, it spells out: Panini and BBC Worldwide are c*nts.

Panini are the publishers of the magazine, while the BBC distributes the TV series.

There is even a clue at the end, as Pegg himself writes, “If you look hard enough, there is always something hidden in plain sight.”

A BBC Worldwide spokesman told the Mirror:

“The matter was raised with the publisher who has dismissed the writer.”

It was also revealed that Pegg was not expected to be involved in Series 11.

It’s unknown why he included this attack…

(8) ON DISPLAY. In the foyer of San Francisco Airport’s Terminal 2 is a display of famous writers’ typewriters, including the one used by Orson Welles, another belonging to Tennessee Williams, and Ray Bradbury’s own, below. The photographer warns that the exhibit is in the secure area of the terminal, so you can’t casually wander through the airport to see it.

(9) NEXT TREK. Popular Mechanics asked “8 Sci-Fi Writers on Where Star Trek Should Go Next” – Kameron Hurley, Mur Lafferty, Christopher Brown, Rob  Boffard, Genevieve Valentine, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Annalee Newitz, and Charles Yu.

By Mur Lafferty, author of Six Wakes

I’ve always been fascinated by the transporter and the various capabilities it has. The fact that the transporter saves a limited-time backup of every person it transports was only touched on a few times in any of the series. This makes sense; there are too many ways it could be abused as a Deus Ex Machina fix for half the problems they come across in the series. (Oh, Tasha got killed by a black goo? It’s OK, we saved her DNA and can print you a new one right away, Captain!)

Still, putting aside the difficulties surrounding the aging and dead actors, the ultimate Star Trek show would be for a Ferengi-financed hacker to gain access to the transporter traces of every member of every Star Trek show and bring them all back.

The new Star Trek crew would be assigned the many-season rescue of each character from all the other shows. The characters would be mixed up and scattered around the universe. For example, the Klingons would be having gladiatorial battles with Kirk and Picard to finally settle the greatest debate to plague my generation. (Team Picard all the way.)

There would be a side romantic plot with Troi, Worf, every version of Dax, and Alexander living on Risa. Speaking of Alexander, all the kids, Nog, Jake, Alexander, Molly, and young Wesley, could have a Risa-based Stand By Me-kind of adventure. Riker and Bashir could be stranded on an all-male planet where no one is impressed by them. Bones and Data could have an Odd Couple/Buddy Cop kind of adventure. I can see The Doctor, Crusher, Bashir, Pulaski, and Phlox in their own ER-type story.

I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s always a good idea to limit your tech when you make it “oh dear God, that thing is too powerful!” But it’s also a possibility to make a compelling plot about the abuse of said powerful machine when it’s put in the hands of an incompetent, or a villain.

(10) BANGING WITH WHEATON AND NEWHEART. Although I lost interest in Big Bang Theory awhile ago, I may have to watch this episode:

(11) CASH IN POINT. There could be a Twilight Zone reboot coming to CBS All-Access.

CBS has announced a new Twilight Zone anthology series from Get Out director Jordan Peele, over 50 years after the iconic scifi series ended its initial run. This comes about five years after the studio tried and failed to reboot the series with X-Men director Bryan Singer, and in the wake of Bioshock creator Ken Levine’s stalled attempt to revive the franchise as an interactive movie or series. Right now, it’s not clear whether Peele’s show has already been picked up for a series, or if the project is simply in development.

(12) D POTTER OBIT. Bay Area fanzine fan D Potter passed away in her Oakland apartment (probably on October 25) reports Sue Rae Rosenfeld on Facebook.

Fancyclopedia lists the amateur press associations she was active in over the years:

Apa-nu, A Women’s APA, APA-Q, Myriad, Mixed Company (of which he has been OE), Spinoff, MISHAP, ALPS, FAPA, Intercourse. She was a co-founder and OE of ALPS [The Amateur Long-Playing Society.]

She was Fan GoH of Balticon 16 in 1982.

(13) COMICS SECTION

  • Darrah Chavey would never drop a bad pun like “the umpire strikes back,” but I would: it came to mind when I saw his linked installment of Pearls Before Swine.
  • Rich Lynch found a rare Bradbury joke in Mutts!

(14) KSR. Kim Stanley Robinson is interviewed by José Luis de Vicente for CCCBlab: “Angry Optimism in a Drowned World: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson”.

In New York 2140, I wanted sea level rise to be significant enough to make Lower Manhattan like a Venice, to be a kind of giant symbol of the current situation with climate change. For that reason I pushed it out to the year 2140, which is 120 years from now. For reasons of plausibility: it takes that long to get that much of a sea level rise, which is what I wanted for telling my story.

The truth is that we are actually already at that moment of climate change and crisis. The political project that my novel discusses really ought to be enacted now, not 120 years from now. In the real world, what we’ve got is a necessity for our economic system to take damage to the ecosystem into account, and pay for that damage.

The way that we create energy and the way that we move around on this planet both have to be de-carbonized. That has to be, if not profitable, affordable. Humans need to be paid for that work because it’s a rather massive project. It’s not that it’s technologically difficult (we already have the solar panels, the electric cars, we have the technical problems more or less solved in prototype) but the mass deployment of those is a huge human project, equivalent of everybody gathering together to fight World War II. Everybody agrees that, yes, this is important enough that people’s careers, lives, be devoted to the swapping out of the infrastructure and the creation of a de-carbonized, sustainable, physical plan for the rest of civilization.

Well, this isn’t the way capitalism works, as currently configured; this isn’t profitable. The market doesn’t like it. By the market I mean – what I think everybody means, but doesn’t admit – capital, accumulated capital, and where it wants to put itself next. And where it wants to put itself next is at the highest rate of return, so that if it’s a 7% return to invest in vacation homes on the coast of Spain, and it’s only a 6% rate of return to build a new clean power plant out in the empty highlands of Spain, the available capital of this planet will send that money and investment and human work into vacation homes on the coast of Spain rather than the power plants. It’s just the way it is and there is no control over that except for nation-state governments, each one looking at its own responsibility and power and feeling in competition with others, not wanting to lose its differential advantage. So, If Spain were to do a certain amount for its country, but was sacrificing relative to international capital or to other countries, then it would be losing the battle for competitive advantage in the capitalist system.

(15) MARKET NEWS. The submissions window will soon close for Glass & Gardens: Solarpunk Summers:

GLASS & GARDENS: SOLARPUNK SUMMERS

Anthologist: SarenaUlibarri

Open for Submissions: August 15, 2017 – November 15, 2017

Expected Publication: Summer 2018

Story Length: up to 8,000 words

Payment: $0.01 per word + contributor copy Solarpunk is a type of eco-conscious science fiction that imagines an optimistic future founded on renewable energies. It might take place in a wind-powered skyscraper or on a solar-powered robotic farm, in a bustling green-roofed metropolis or in a small but tech-saavy desert village. Often coupled with an art nouveau aesthetic, and always inclusive and diverse, solarpunk stories show the ways we have adapted to climate change, or the ways we have overcome it….

(16) HALLOWEEN LEFTOVERS. Hate to think I almost missed this – let’s start with the intro from Nerdist, “Wayne Brady Sings “Thriller” Like a 1930s Jazz Song”.

The video starts with a nod to Cab Calloway and jumps right into the upbeat cover and ’cause this is “Thiller” (Thriller night!), PMJ even brought on a few tap dancers in order to pay homage to the iconic dance moves from the original video. They even worked in some Charleston moves for good measure. Is it weird that we’d want to see all the dancing in the original video with this era-specific spin?

 

(17) HANGOUT AND LEARN. Cat Rambo announces two upcoming online classes:

Sunday, November 5, 9:30-11:30 AM, Pacific time.

Tell, don’t show. Dump your information. Write in second person. Write in passive voice. Use adverbs. To heck with suspense.

Rules mark what’s difficult, not what’s impossible. There’s a whole range of exciting storytelling possibilities beyond them. Not every story needs to be in second person, but when it’s the right voice for the right story, it can be magic. The right information dump, written perfectly, can become a dazzling gymnastic feat of beauty, fascination, or humor.

Sunday, December 17, 9:30-11:30 AM, Pacific time.

There’s an art to food writing. Anyone who has read a professional restaurant review can tell you that. We react viscerally to descriptions of food. Our mouths water, our minds color with tastes we can almost experience. In fiction, this can be used to enrich world-building, and to further blur the lines between the reader and the text.

Join Cat and award-winning game writer, author, tech journalist Cassandra Khaw for a session where we will discuss food writing, the sensualities of taste, how to incorporate and interpret our understanding of food, and how all this can be used to shape one’s stories.

(18) INDUSTRY ROLE. Here’s a thread on what sensitivity readers actually do.

(19) TO SERVE FAN. John C. Wright has taken up the quest of reading in their order of publication the Conan stories of Robert E Howard. This necessarily (?) required a fling at Damon Knight for belittling Howard in an early 1950s magazine piece (which you can find in the 1956 collection, In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction).

Here, for example, is a quote from the loathsome Damon Knight. If the reader is surprised I use so harsh a word for this well-known figure in science fiction, please reflect that he is not well known for any creative writing, only for his ludicrous claim to be a critic…

…We need not dwell long here in the chamberpot of Mr. Knight’s performance as a critic. I am content with noting that there is not a word of actual criticism anywhere in the passage. It is merely a stream of insults against Robert E Howard, as everything from unintelligent to maniacal to emotionally crippled to sick, with occasional flippant insults against Mr. Howard’s fans and admirers, not to mention studied insults against other luminaries of the field.

The ”not well known” fiction of Damon Knight includes his frequently-anthologized “To Serve Man,” the basis for a famous episode of The Twilight Zone and a 2001 Retro Hugo winner. His criticism was recognized with a 1956 Hugo for Best Reviewer. Surely someone who has accepted as many Hugo nominations as Wright respects the imprimatur of the Hugo Award. No, really.

(20) BIG MONTH FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Marvel has declared a Thanksgiving feast for Guardians of the Galaxy fans, serving up multiple comics about the team, and Rocket and Groot individually.

Week of 11/6

 

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1

A NEW ERA OF COSMIC ADVENTURE BEGINS HERE! Double ships every month! The Guardians of the Galaxy have taken off into space once more, on their biggest and weirdest misadventures yet! Kicking things off with the biggest heist they’ve ever tried, we join Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and company as they blast their way through the galaxy, the peacekeepers of the Nova Corps hot on their tails. And once they find themselves caught in a war between The Collector and The Grandmaster, there will hardly be time to explain why Groot can’t grow any bigger, what Gamora is searching for or why Drax has sworn off violence! But don’t worry, we will — with a new twice-monthly schedule, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy has space for ALL your Marvel Cosmic needs!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MISSION BREAKOUT #1

The Collector’s many-worlds-famous collection is opening its doors to the public — and you won’t believe the star attraction. Only the Guardians can break through Taneleer Tivan’s security and BREAK OUT! The Marvel Universe story of Disney’s newest, raddest ride!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MOTHER ENTROPY #1

The Guardians owe everyone on Knowhere money, so they’re forced to do a job for the local police. But that gets them running afoul of Pip the Troll and a mysterious entity known only as Mother Entropy. And that’s when the fun begins.

Week of 11/13

ROCKET #1

GET READY FOR A LIFE OF SPACECRIME! It’s a dirty universe out there, even when you’re not regularly mistaken for trash-foraging vermin. And it’s about to get dirtier. He thought his paws were clean, that he was on the up-and-up. But then an old flame swam back into his life, and he was back in the game… the heist game. If you need a safe cracked, a vault busted or a score taken…ask for Rocket. Just don’t call him a raccoon.

Week of 11/27 

I AM GROOT #1

GROOT IN HIS OWN SERIES, SMALLER AND BETTER THAN EVER! When the Guardians of the Galaxy get caught in a wormhole, a smaller-than-normal Groot is separated billions of light-years away from the team. Falling to a planet below, Groot discovers he is on an entirely alien and unknown world full of strange creatures and societies. Seriously underdeveloped and with nobody who can understand him, Groot will need to make the journey to the center of this world and find the way back to his family!

(21) ENTRY LEVEL. TIME Magazine tells “How Much You Can Earn in the Comic Book Industry — From Artist to CEO”.

Marvel and DC Comics are once again facing off in an epic box-office duel this month, with the release of Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League — two superhero films that, of course, have their roots in the comic book industry. Print isn’t dead to this world — the industry makes $800 million-a-year annually and employs tens of thousands to do so.

So how do you get started in this type of career? And more importantly, what does it pay?

Like any career in the arts, you can get started in the industry by going to school to and majoring in something that translates well into this world, like animation, sequential art, or illustration. Marvel artist Irene Strychalski recently told attendees of New York Comic Con she majored in sequential art and minored in animation at Savannah College of Art and Design. Other schools that comic book artists seem to gravitate towards include Ringling College of Art and Design and Rhode Island School of Design. However, if you don’t want the college experience, the Kubert School is a trade school in Dover, N.J. that offers a three-year training program.

I think Vox Day plans on skipping all these steps.

(22) ARCHEOLOGY. “I’m ready for my closeup”: new tech discoveries: “‘Big void’ identified in Khufu’s Great Pyramid at Giza”.

It is not known why the cavity exists or indeed if it holds anything of value because it is not obviously accessible.

Japanese and French scientists made the announcement after two years of study at the famous pyramid complex.

They have been using a technique called muography, which can sense density changes inside large rock structures.

The Great Pyramid, or Khufu’s Pyramid, was constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu between 2509 and 2483 BC.

(NPR also covers, but their diagram isn’t as readable: “Scientists Say They’ve Found Hidden Space In Great Pyramid Of Giza”

(23) THINK NICK FURY. Samuel L. Jackson talks Game of Throne newcomers through the basics as only he can.  “The first thing you need to know about this world is…no, not dragons…**** those dragons!  Focus!”

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Stephen Burridge, Carl Slaughter, Cat Rambo, Rich Lynch, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Darrah Chavey, and Tasha Turner for some of these stories,. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

2016 Novellapalooza

Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But last year, I made a concerted effort to read a good sampling of works in the shorter fiction categories. I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

This sort of comprehensive survey of the category was an entirely new experience for me. I found some real gems – several of them utterly unexpected – and perhaps for the first time, I really felt as though I was able to do nominations for the novella category in an informed way. So I decided to do it again this year.

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 in such a case, and to discover that, indeed, 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). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. I’ve opined on a few of these previously on File770, so I’ve put those at the end, so as to not give them an unfair amount of bandwidth.

Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2016 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)


Cold-Forged Flame, by Marie Brennan (aka Bryn Neuenschwander) (excerpt)

coldforgedflameTor.com, edited by Miriam Weinberg

cover art by Sam Weber, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A woman comes to consciousness with a bloody animal sacrifice laid out before her. She realizes that she is bound to the shaman who did the sacrifice, by a geas that will force her to follow his command: to bring back “blood from the cauldron of the Lhian”. Never mind that he doesn’t tell her who or what the Lhian is, or where the cauldron is located: she doesn’t even know who she herself is – and he won’t tell her that either, because he says it’s safer if she doesn’t remember.

What I thought: I really, really liked this. It features a strong but flawed female character, and avoids or subverts a lot of the quest tropes. This is definitely on my longlist for next year’s Hugo nominations – and I’ll be seeking out some of Brennan’s other works, as well. There’s a sequel, Lightning in the Blood, coming out in April 2017.

Filer Comments:

  • Mark-kitteh: For a character who has no idea who she is, she’s strangely compelling, and the story itself is more adventure and (self) discovery than hack-and-slash, although there’s a bit of that too. It’s about 20,000 words, so fairly short for a novella, and it feels like a fully expanded short rather than a compressed novel, but that’s no bad thing – the story is complete by the end, although I suspect sequels are possible, and some intriguing bits of worldbuilding have been revealed.
  • Arifel: probably the best novella I’ve read this year – intriguing, well paced fantasy with a great main character and world building that I can’t wait to read more of.
  • kathodus: I noticed it on my Kindle when I had just a little time to read, decided to check it out, and remembered that it was recommended as being a tightly written story with good action and characterization, because that’s what it was. I think there is another novella or something written within this world, and I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Patchwerk, by David Tallerman (excerpt)

patchwerkTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Tommy Arnold, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: The inventor of an extremely powerful device, realizing that it could be used as a horrible weapon by people with sinister intentions, is trying to smuggle it out of the country in the cargo hold of an airship. But of course, an evil person who wants the weapon is on the ship as well – and knows way more about it than they should, because of a betrayal from the inventor’s past. This is the story of their confrontation, and the battle for control of the powerful device.

What I thought: Halfway through this story, I was really excited. I really liked where it was going, and how the author was taking it there. But the ending didn’t quite live up to my expectations; I’m not sure why, perhaps it seemed a little too pat. Nevertheless, I still think it is a very good story, and it’s on my Hugo nomination longlist.


Downfall of the Gods, by K.J. Parker (aka Tom Holt) (excerpt)

downfallofthegodsSubterranean Press, editor unknown

cover art by Vincent Chong, design by Desert Isle Design

Synopsis: A spoiled, petulant goddess who refuses to forgive the man who murdered her favorite musician-poet is overridden by her all-powerful father, who orders her to forgive him anyway. So she decides that her forgiveness will be given only if the man asking for it is able to complete a heroic task: to bring back the musician from the dead.

What I thought: I have more than a passing familiarity with, and appreciation for, Greek and Roman mythology, and this story combines elements of those liberally, and with some inventiveness and snarky humor. Parker’s The Last Witness was my favorite of the thirty-one 2015 novellas I read, and this story makes it clear that his skill in that one was not a one-off or an accident. This is on my Hugo nomination longlist. (Caveat: Readers who expect faithfulness to classical mythology will be disappointed.)


The Devil You Know, by K.J. Parker (aka Tom Holt) (excerpt)

thedevilyouknowTor.com, edited by Jonathan Strahan

cover art by Jon Foster, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care. But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the person making the bargain is not only the greatest philosopher, but also the greatest liar, trickster, and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust. He’s almost certainly up to something… but what?

What I thought: I ended up going back a couple of days later and reading the second half of the book (which is approx 120 pg total) again, because the twists are a bit involved and intricate, and it requires a suspension of disbelief to put oneself into the world as it’s been built here. It’s a clever story, but for some reason it did not wow me in the same way as The Last Witness or Downfall of the Gods.

Filer Comments:

  • GiantPanda: great version of Faust. Goes on my Hugo longlist
  • Arifel: Readable and satisfying but not spectacular.
  • alexvdl: Thought it was a pretty good thought experiment, well in my favored “bureacracy porn” milieu. I didn’t realize before I picked it up that it was the sequel to Blue and Gold, but that was just an added bonus.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson (excerpt)

thedreamquestofvellittboeTor.com, edited by Jonathan Strahan

cover art by Victo Ngai, design by Christine Foltzer

map by Serena Malyon

Synopsis: An older instructor at a women’s college in the Dreamlands must go on a journey to retrieve a young student who has run away with her lover to the waking world; failure would likely mean the vast destruction of the college, the country in which it is located, and all the people there. The protagonist, on their journey through strange lands populated by unfathomable monsters, is joined by a mysterious and possibly magical SJW credential: Following her into [the ship’s cabin], the cat assumed immediate possession of a yak-wool scarf she tossed for a moment upon the bunk. “I need that, cat,” she warned, but it only curled tighter and gazed up with bright eyes. In the end, the scarf remained there for the rest of the voyage.

What I thought: The plot in this story is rather incidental; it’s there to provide a vehicle for the evocative, beautifully-descriptive prose. The inspiration for this story was The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, and it’s my understanding that big Lovecraft fans will especially enjoy it. I’m not one, and I found it enjoyable but not earth-shaking. A strong main character and the aforementioned prose make it well worth the read.

Filer Comments:

  • lurkertype: Great characters, good world-building, and some passages I had to reread for their beauty. Does not need familiarity with Lovecraft to work, but that would probably add another dimension (heh). Lives up to HPL by having somewhat archaic words I had to look up – you can gather the idea in context, but there were some pretty cool nouns I didn’t know in there. Needless to say, not with the HPL racism and sexism.
  • Mark-kitteh: I have to say it’s a setting idea that just grabbed me from the start… It’s very much a travelogue, and has some of the issues that come along with that – is this just a list of places she goes at authorial fiat? – but I think the character and the charm of the setting really pulls you along, and the stakes get built up nicely. I’m not sure how much you’d need to know Lovecraft’s dreamlands to appreciate it – I certainly found the mythos elements enriched it – and I think the ending wasn’t quite as strong as it might have been, but overall I enjoyed it. (Content note: two mentions of rape, in the sense of mentioning it has or could happen, not in the sense of featuring it in any way)
  • Rob Thornton: as a big fan of the original Lovecraft story, overall I found Kij Johnson’s take on the meh side. The story is good and the prose is good, but when the tale is placed in Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, Johnson is up against a standard that is hard to beat. I have really enjoyed Kij’s other works, though, so I look forward to whatever she does next.
  • Arifel: while all the Lovecraft went completely over my head I enjoyed the world and the plot (older woman explores world, roles for older women in sexist societies) and there were no obvious triggers
  • kathodus: The second trek through Lovecraftia written from the point of view of someone who would have been invisible or reviled in Lovecraft’s writing. This one didn’t have a Lovecraftian atmosphere – it was working within his world, but not working with his vibe. I like what the author did with the gods. And there’s a cat. Or two. But I think just one.

Lustlocked, by Matt Wallace [Sin du Jour #2] (excerpt)

lustlockedTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photo by Getty Images, design by Peter Lutgen

This volume also contains the prequel novelette “Small Wars”, which was published on Tor.com in January 2016.

Synopsis: The gang at Sin du Jour catering has been contracted for a really, really big job: the wedding of the Goblin King’s son and his fiancée. And the challenge is immense: prepare pairs of numerous courses, in identical-looking forms, to suit both goblin and human gastronomics. But of course, no catering plan survives contact with the diners… the big question is whether the Sin du Jour crew will survive the ensuing catastrophe – and if they do, how will they escape the Goblin King’s wrath?

What I thought: I found the first entry in this series, last year’s Envy of Angels, to be an unexpected, clever, slyly witty delight. This is a worthy follow-up – and the author manages to weave his supernatural worldbuilding in with the real world so deftly that the reader can almost believe it’s all really true.

Filer Comments:

  • Mark-kitteh: I thought Lustlocked didn’t play out quite as well as Envy of Angels, although it does feature an excellent take on goblins with a very interesting choice of goblin king…

Pride’s Spell, by Matt Wallace [Sin du Jour #3] (excerpt)

pridesspellTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photo by Getty Images, design by Peter Lutgen

Synopsis: The Sin du Jour Catering Company finds itself unexpectedly double-booked for events on both the East and West Coasts. So the experienced members of the team stay in NYC to put on a gala dinner for a convention, and the boss takes the newest crew members and the pastry chef extraordinaire out to Hollywood for a movie premiere party. But there’s just one thing that none of them have been told: this time around, they’re all intended to be surprise additions to the menu…

What I thought: This is another fun romp, with some new villains, as well as the reappearance of some old villains – and an unexpected hero. I have to say that I love the author’s imaginative cuisine, with dishes concocted from some pretty unusual ingredients. If you liked the previous entries in this series, you’ll enjoy this one, too.


The Jewel and Her Lapidary, by Fran Wilde (excerpt)

thejewelandherlapidaryTor.com, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

cover art by Tommy Arnold, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): The kingdom has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and Lapidaries, the people bound to singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished… but now the Jeweled Court has been betrayed. As screaming raiders sweep down from the mountains, the last princess and the last lapidary of the Valley will have to summon up strength that they’ve never known.

What I thought: There’s a whole lot of ‘splaining about how the jewel magic and lapidaries are supposed to work mixed in with the story, and I think that the plot and action suffer extensively due to that. There is the strong germ of a good story idea here; it’s just too bad that the execution gets so bogged down in the infodumping. I’d like to see the author rework this into a really enjoyable novel. (And I have to say that the cover is one of my favorites from 2016.)

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: This is short – a long novelette rather than a novella, even – but very well put together and definitely worth a read. Only disappointment was that Sima is not actually an aged-up Toph Beifong as the cover seemed to indicate.
  • Mark-kitteh: Not quite as good as recent highlights like Forest of Memory or Every Heart a Doorway, but still a worthwhile entry… It’s a fascinating setting and magic idea, and I suppose that Wilde could either have stopped for a 10,000 word exposition on how it all works or start the story with a crisis in media res and hope that the idea comes through. Obviously she goes for the latter, and although it’s not 100% successful it’s definitely the right choice for a novella. I kept wanting a bit more clarity on how the jewels worked, but as I didn’t want her to stop the story for some As You Know Bob I can’t really complain too much.

The Emperor’s Railroad, by Guy Haley [The Dreaming Cities #1] (excerpt)

theemperorsrailroadTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Chris McGrath, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A young boy and his mother struggle to reach a relative in a faraway town after everyone else in their own village in a post-apocalypic U.S. is destroyed by zombies. They are lucky enough to meet up with a Knight who protects them on their journey (for a sizable fee, of course), against zombies and “angels of God” (from what appears to be a dubious religion).

 

 

 


The Ghoul King, by Guy Haley [The Dreaming Cities #2]  (excerpt)

theghoulkingTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Chris McGrath, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A healer is interrogated by the authorities about his role in an illegal attempt to retrieve lost and forgotten technology from a dead city – an attempt which, of course, also includes the aforesaid Knight. This time, in addition to zombies, angels, and a whole passel of religious talk, there are “ghouls” – a higher form of zombie which has retained some thinking faculties and is thus a far more threatening adversary.

What I thought: I swear, all zombie stories should be required to include a plausible origin story in order to be published (at least Seanan McGuire, bless her, managed a capital job of that). All of the other zombie stories I’ve read seem to have been written by South Park’s gnomes:

Step 1: Normal world

Step 2: ?????

Step 3: ZOMBIES!!!

While the post-apocalyptic worldbuilding is somewhat interesting, I have to admit that I never found these stories particularly gripping or compelling, and I found the religious aspect simply tiresome. And since they’re told from the point-of-view of someone other than the Knight, I felt as though I never really got to see enough of him to feel invested in him. There are hints that the angels are not really angels, but something more interesting – but at this point, I’m not interested enough to read the third story to find out. Rating: 2 Mehs. YMMV.


Runtime, by S. B. Divya (aka Divya Srinivasan Breed) (excerpt)

runtimeTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Juan Pablo Roldan, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A young person who has taught themselves computer engineering since they were a child enters a speed-and-endurance race against well-equipped, well-funded professionals, supported only by home-built-and-programmed cybernetic augments. The prize money for placing in the top 5 would mean being able to earn full personhood, for themselves and for their siblings, and a future livelihood. But on the brink of victory, they are faced with a terrible ethical choice.

What I thought: I loved this short, fast-paced novella. Even in the short length, the author does a good job of creating a complex, nuanced main character. I’m going to be avidly watching for more stories by this author.

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: I had a couple of worldbuilding nitpicks (mostly the idea that young people are undergoing gender neutralising surgery as a fashion trend…) but overall I found this well worth my time.
  • Arifel: [story] does have some gender dysphoria and dysfunctional parent child relationships

Dreams and Slumbers, by Seanan McGuire [October Daye]

dreamsandslumbers(included with the novel Once Broken Faith)

DAW Books, edited by Sheila Gilbert

cover art by Chris McGrath, design by G-Force

map by Priscilla Spencer

Synopsis: After the conclave is over, Queen Arden Windermere in the Mists has a choice to make, and no one to help her make it. This is the story of Arden’s attempts to awaken her elf-shot brother, Nolan, from his 100-year sleep. At first, Arden believes that all she has to do is give him the cure, but it’s not that simple, because in addition to being elf-shot, Nolan was poisoned – and once he’s given the cure for elf-shot, he will die of the poison. Can Arden find an antidote to the poison? And does she really want to wake him up, when she will have to face him with the fact that she has not yet really established herself, or accomplished anything, as Queen?

What I thought: I thought that this was a great coda to Once Broken Faith, and a great addition to the October Daye universe. It gives the reader insight into, and further character development of, peripheral characters in the series. But like Once Broken Faith, it’s really only going to have a good meaning and impact for those who’ve read the novels in the October Daye universe.

Having said that, the October Daye universe is on my 2016 Hugo Best Series shortlist.


Down and Out in Purgatory, by Tim Powers (Kindle sample)

downandoutinpurgatorySubterranean Press, editor unknown

cover art by Dave McKean, design by Desert Isle Design

Synopsis: Years ago, one of the guys in the college gang married the girl in the gang – then later on, murdered her. Another one of the gang, who was in love with her, has sworn revenge and spent the last 6 years looking for the killer. A PI finally finds him – in the morgue, having died happy at his Malibu estate with a drink in his hand and his latest girlfriend in his bed. The protagonist thinks the killer got off way too easy, and decides to get the assistance of a practitioner of the occult in achieving revenge in the afterlife.

What I thought: I read Salvage and Demolition a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it, so I had high hopes for this. I thought it was good, but it didn’t quite get to “great” for me. I would have liked to have gotten to see a little more of what was behind the protagonist’s life history and motivations. Worth reading.


The Drowning Eyes, by Emily Foster (excerpt)

thedrowningeyesTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Cynthia Sheppard, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: Tazir captains a ship in a world where Windspeakers shape the weather to help ships along their routes – for a price. But now the world is threatened by reavers on Dragon Ships who leave only destruction in their wake. Tazir and her crew take on a wealthy young female passenger and leave port in time to escape the Dragon Ships – but who is the mysterious young woman, and why is she having terrible nightmares?

What I thought:  I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would based on the synopsis. It does some nice character development and worldbuilding without having to resort to infodumping (it’s what I wish The Jewel and Her Lapidary would have been), and the plot does not follow a predictable path. This is on my Hugo Novella longlist.

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: This might have been a bit too subtle for me as there were a lot of dynamics between the different crew members and between Tazir and Shina that didn’t really come through for me until right at the end, but I still enjoyed.
  • Mark-kitteh: I thought it was going to get rather cliched but the middle section had some good characters and an interesting ambiguity about how the Windspeakers get created (although it was a theme that The Fifth Season looked at much better). Unfortunately I didn’t think it stuck the ending at all.

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (excerpt)

theballadofblacktomTor.com, edited by Ellen Datlow

cover art by Robert Hunt

Synopsis: The protagonist of the story is a young black man living in Harlem, who survives in New York City and supports his ailing father by engaging in petty scams and cons – enduring constant harassment and abuse from police and other white people. Despite his utter lack of singing and guitar-playing ability, he is hired by a mysterious old man to provide background music at a very unusual house party.

What I thought: This novella is a response, written by a black man, to H.P. Lovecraft’s most notoriously racist story, The Horror at Red Hook. I think that fans of Lovecraft will enjoy the way it deconstructs and re-writes HPL’s racism into a uniquely black perspective. Even though Lovecraft, Horror, and Weird really aren’t my thing, I found it interesting and worth reading.

Filer Comments:

  • emgrasso: checks a lot of boxes for Lovecraftiana, but I don’t think it really works as a whole. The sections where the story had atmosphere that worked instead of feeling like it was just going through the motions weren’t the Lovecraftian ones. And even outside the supposedly spooky stuff, there was an important plot point regarding a “shocking” straight razor that fell flat for me – what else would a poor black man in the 1920s have shaved with?
  • Bonnie McDaniel: The story suffers, in my view, from an unnecessary POV shift about halfway through. It would have made for a tighter focus and characterization if the author had stuck to the original POV character throughout, although as the story unfolded, that would have resulted in going to some pretty dark places. This one would also have been better at a greater length, I think. As it is, it’s okay, but nowhere near the fantastic Lovecraft Country.

Everything Belongs to the Future, by Laurie Penny (excerpt)

everythingbelongstothefutureTor.com, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

cover photo by Oleksiy Maksymenko, design by FORT

Synopsis: In the near future, the wealthy and talented benefit from vastly-extended lifespans due to a revolutionary drug. A group of futuristic underground Robin Hoods are doing their best to see that the “ordinary” people have the chance to enjoy some of those benefits. But there’s a Judas in their midst: one who has neither their goals, nor their best interests, in mind…

What I thought: Oh, wow. This is a powerful story of “haves” versus “have nots”, of deceit versus informed consent, of cowardice and heroism, of betrayal and retribution and remorse and repentance. I do not recommend reading this when spoon levels are low – but I definitely recommend reading it. This is my first choice for Hugo Best Novella.


Brushwork, by Aliya Whiteley (read online)

brushworkGigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith

Synopsis: In a climate-devastated future world, crops are grown in biodomes by workers privileged enough to be allowed to escape the horrible conditions outside, and the fresh fruits and vegetables are sold to those who are wealthy enough to afford them. But the “have-not”s outside the domes have a plan for changing the status quo.

What I thought: This is an incredibly uncomfortable story to read right now, because the main theme is echoed repeatedly throughout the narrative: just how willing will people be, to make the moral and ethical compromises which throw their co-humans “under the bus” – as long as they think that they themselves will benefit? Just how large does the possibility of personal reward have to be, before human beings will choose to be complicit in sacrificing others — and then to look the other way when the inevitable happens? This is a moving and powerful story, and it is on my Hugo Novella longlist.

Filer Comments:

  • Dawn Incognito: Post-apocalyptic UK hitting on the gulf between generations and haves vs. have-nots.
  • Cassy B.: thanks for the pointer to it. Powerful story.

The Arrival of Missives, by Aliya Whiteley (excerpt)

thearrivalofmissivesUnsung Stories, edited by George Sandison

cover art by Jana Heidersdorf, design by Martin Cox

Synopsis: A young woman, on the cusp of adulthood after World War I, learns that she has a much larger destiny than even her own high aspirations – but if she follows that destiny, it will mean giving up her own hopes and plans. On May Day, on the village green, she will have to make a choice that will affect her life forever… and change worlds.

What I thought: Well, Brushwork is indeed a powerful story – but I was absolutely blown away by this one. I’m still thinking about it, days later. This is a story about free will, and the choices we make, and the fact that no matter what choice we make, there will often be a cost – to ourselves, or to someone else. This book will speak to anyone who has ever had to sacrifice something life-changingly important to themselves in order place priority on what’s best for someone else (I would describe its theme as “The Lady Astronaut from Mars on speed”). Right now the e-book is still rather expensive, but I encourage everyone to try to get access to it, if it’s not affordable, through the library, a loan from a friend (the kindle version is loanable), or a purchase. I think you will be very glad you did. This is definitely going on my Hugo Novella ballot.


The Warren, by Brian Evenson (excerpt)

thewarrenTor.com, edited by Ann VanderMeer

cover art by Victor Mosquera, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one – or many – but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X. He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be. But when he discovers the existence of another – above ground, outside the protection of the Warren – X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.

What I thought: I was really looking forward to reading this, based on the jacket copy. I’ve read at least 32 of the Tor.com novellas now, and although I liked some of them a lot, and some of them not so much, this is the first one where I’ve actually wondered why it got published. I think that there are a few seeds of a good story here – but that it’s seriously undercooked and full of been-done-before. It’s like a mashup of Wool, Flowers for Algernon, and Impostor. Not recommended, at least by me.

Filer Comments:

  • Mark-kitteh: I think this novella gives you fair warning when it begins with a dedication to Gene Wolfe. Someone called X has awoken in a place they know is called the warren. They seem to think they have been created, and that they have the memories of their predecessors, who were also created. They know the hostile conditions will kill them soon, and they’d like to create themselves a successor, but they can’t, and the computer they can talk to is failing and unhelpful. Events occur which start to explain what might be going on, and then I turned the page to see “About the Author” staring at me, and I didn’t really know what it had all been about. If someone else reads this and says it was a wonderful multi-layered narrative then I’ll totally believe them, but I was tired and I just went huh?

A Window Into Time, by Peter F. Hamilton (excerpt) (e-book only)

awindowintotimeawindowintotimeusDel Rey / Pan Books, edited by Bella Pagan

cover art by Kathleen Lynch, using images from CHAINFOTO24/Shutterstock (buildings) and ovi 801/Shutterstock (clock)

Synopsis: A 13-year-old boy with an eidetic memory (and probably a strong streak of Asperger’s) remembers everything he’s ever seen, heard, or experienced. And suddenly, he’s remembering flashes of someone else’s memories. How? And why? And will he be able to figure it out in time to save another person’s life?

What I thought: I liked this better than I thought I would, given the YA protagonist. I would say that it probably provides some good insights into the thought processes of someone who is in the Asperger’s spectrum. The author nails the ending, I think, but it didn’t quite wow me enough for me to consider it for Hugo nomination.

 

 

 

 

 

 


This Census-Taker, by China Miéville (excerpt)

thiscensustakerDel Rey, edited by Mark Tavani

cover photo by Wusheng Wang, design by David G. Stevenson

Synopsis: A little boy living in a cottage high above the nearby town witnesses his father killing his mother – or does he? At any rate, she’s gone – and his father is becoming progressively more angry, irrational, and abusive. But then a stranger comes to town – a stranger who sees that something is wrong, and who may be in a position to help.

What I thought: Readers who are looking for any sort of explanation – any sort at all! – will likely be very frustrated with this story. It offers lots of provocative descriptions, and tantalizing hints and clues, but nothing whatsoever of any real explanation or resolution. It’s an interesting read, but in the end, in order for me to love it, I needed a little more than the story was willing to provide. Readers who are okay with unsolved mysteries may find a lot here about which to think and speculate.

Filer Comments:

  • Dawn Incognito: Challenging. Mysterious, haunting, and occasionally brutal. If you’re familiar with Miéville this should not be surprising. There are many questions, and I’m sure many clues, but no easy answers. I may reread shortly to see what I can pick up that made no sense the first time through. The narrative shifts, mostly first-person with the odd second- and third-. Possibly a distancing mechanism from the traumatic events the narrator is going through. Possibly something else. I’m not sure I “got” it. I’m not sure I will. But it will stay with me for some time. Worth the challenge, I think.
  • Bartimaeus: Weird, creepy tale of a small town with sinister secrets lurking under the surface. This story has many intriguing enigmas and a very unreliable narrator. For starters, did his mother kill his father, or his father kill his mother? Miéville’s prose is just hypnotic here, and I love the atmosphere he builds. Though the ending doesn’t reveal all the answers, it is very tantalizing. (I suspect this aspect won’t work for everyone). I really loved this and will probably re-read it sometime.
  • More rot-13 discussion in this thread
  • Vasha: A good essay on This Census-Taker by Daniel Maidman (to be read only after the book).

The Last Days of New Paris, by China Miéville (excerpt)

thelastdaysofnewparisthelastdaysofnewparissubeditionDel Rey / Subterranean Press, edited by Mark Tavani

Del Rey cover photo by Claudia Carlsen, design by David G. Stevenson

Subterranean Press cover art by Vincent Chong, design by Desert Isle Design

Synopsis: In 1941, an “S-blast” is set off in Nazi-occupied Paris. Nine years later, a Surrealism expert who is a member of the Resistance movement lives a hellish existence in a city overrun with living Surrealist entities, and demons conjured by the Nazis in an attempt to fight back.

What I thought: This story definitely falls into the category of The New Weird. As with Bellitt Voe, the plot here (such as it is) is merely a vehicle for the vivid imagery and nonsensical occurrences. Readers who are fans of Lovecraft, or Surrealism, or VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, may very well enjoy this. I have a college minor in French language, history, and culture, I love Paris, and I have a bit of amateur art education, so hoped that I would enjoy New Paris more than I did. I found the Area X books interesting in a “but a little bit of this goes a loooooong way” sense – and after those, apparently little of my appetite for such things was left over for this story.

There is a “Notes” section, keyed by page number, describing the origin of each of the Surrealist manifestations. Readers may wish to flip back to this each time one appears in the story, as I think it will enhance the appreciation of the imagery. Simultaneous access to Google to look up the referenced images would probably enhance appreciation, as well.

I would say that this is definitely a “Marmite” story – readers will likely either love it or hate it. My reaction was “meh – I’ve got another book sitting here that I’d really rather read”.

Filer Comments:

  • Rob Thornton: It’s a magic realist book about Surrealism and WWII, but the first 50 pages or so felt like a drag. Mieville is usally a crackerjack prose writer but something is missing here. Maybe it’s because I dearly love Lisa Goldstein’s The Dream Years (which is similar in some ways). But I’ll try it again.

Forest of Memory, by Mary Robinette Kowal (excerpt)

forestofmemoryTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Victo Ngai, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: This story is a recounting of an experience in a near-future time when everyone is wired into the net all the time, by someone who hunts down antiquities and documentation of rare experiences and sells them to collectors for a living. The protagonist gets kidnapped, and cut off from the net, and forced to deal with her kidnappers.

What I thought: Trigger Warning for ALL THE TYPOS. This is an integral part of the premise for the story, but it annoyed the hell out of me and kept kicking me out of it. I really liked the premise of the story, and I thought that it showed a lot of promise, but it just didn’t go far enough to satisfy me. I’m hoping that she’ll develop it into a novel (if she does, I’ll just have to figure out how to deal with the typo angst).

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: The worldbuilding in this is subtle and believable and its very readable but ultimately didn’t feel like a finished story to me.
  • Mark-kitteh: this is a really interesting and elegant story… There’s perhaps not that much to the story, but MRK really digs into her theme and fills the whole story with it. One thing though – there’s a gimmick in which the story is being typed on an antique typewriter, and so there are typos and so on. Sent me mad.
  • Cat Eldridge: Forest of Memory was originally part of the METAtroplis series, so it feels like a part of something bigger because it was. I found that that since there was a shared universe framework, some of the stories really didn’t work if you hadn’t read the stories preceding a given story.

Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold [World of the Five Gods, Penric #2] (Kindle sample)

penricandtheshaman

penricandtheshamansubeditionSpectrum Literary Agency (2016) / Subterranean Press (February 2017), editor unknown

Spectrum cover art “Grindelwald” by Jakob Samuel Weibel (1771-1846)

Subterranean Press cover art by Lauren St. Onge

Synopsis: This sequel picks up 4 years after Penric’s Demon left off: with Penric gradually adjusting to the 12-personality demon which inhabits his psyche (and with the demon adjusting to him). There’s the mystery of a murder and a missing man – and Penric is tasked to solve both.

What I thought: It’s a testament to Bujold’s supreme skill that this story, like its predecessor, is just so quietly awesome. The conflicts are, for the most part, subdued – but no less impactful for that. Penric is a flawed but wonderful character who is easy to care about – and his quiet, thoughtful approach, tempered with a wry humor, makes a really nice contrast to the all-too-common over-the-top superhero protagonist.

Filer Comments:

  • lurkertype: I read Penric and the Shaman when it came out in June and quite liked it. I like the earlier part of that world (The Hallowed Hunt, Penric’s Demon) more than the later part. I like the Five Gods.
  • Lee Whiteside: A worthy follow up to the first novella.
  • Mark-kitteh: +1 on Penric and the Shaman – she took it in an interesting direction, I thought.
  • ULTRAGOTHA: Penric and the Shaman is very, very good, too.
  • Greg Hullender: I just read and reviewed Penric and the Shaman and gave it five stars… I think this novella is very readable even for someone who didn’t read Penric’s Demon.
  • Cheryl S.: I also just read Penric and the Shaman. It was good and I liked it, but it was too creamy smooth for me to really like it. I think she’s such a good writer, but not in the least showy and sometimes I find that less than interesting, even if all the parts work well. I wonder if the reason her longer stuff works better is because then the accumulation of her talent and skill is more noticeable?

Penric’s Mission, by Lois McMaster Bujold [World of the Five Gods, Penric #3] (Kindle sample)

penricsmissionSpectrum Literary Agency, editor unknown

cover art “View of Ragusa” by Emil Jakob Schindler (1842 – 1892)

Synopsis: Penric has been sent on an undercover mission to another country, to recruit a highly-skilled general who has offered to aid in their own military endeavors. But immediately upon disembarking from his ship, Penric is taken captive by the King’s forces and thrown into a black hole in the prison. What’s more, the general himself has been imprisoned. Penric must somehow find a way to retrieve the situation – balancing duty with personal obligation – with the help of the general’s highly-intelligent sister.

What I thought: Penric has come into his own at this point. He has assimilated well with his demon and its dozen different personalities, and has learned how to use their knowledge and powers to enhance his own intelligence and capabilities. As with the previous stories, Penric’s mission here is to try to reconcile doing his official job with doing what he personally feels is right – and like the previous stories, this one makes the reader feel quietly satisfied and uplifted by the ending. Caveat: this one ends in a bit of a “what happens now?” place, and readers who find that frustrating may wish to wait until the fourth story is released.

Filer Comments:

  • ULTRAGOTHA: unlike the other two novellas, this one ends in a place that cries for another story *right now*. Bujold is writing these novellas fairly quickly (at lightning speed, for her) so I’m hopeful maybe next year?
  • Greg Hullender: While it doesn’t have the plot sophistication of Penric’s Demon or Penric and the Shaman, the writing is excellent, and the story is pure fun.
  • Nickp: Based on the title, I was half-expecting (and half hoping for) Penric’s expedition to convert the Roknari to Quintarianism. But not that kind of mission. Pseudo-Byzantine Empire was fun, anyway.
  • robinareid: it’s pure joy and love and happiness on all levels.

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire [Wayward Children] (excerpt)

everyheartadoorwayTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photos by Colin Anderson (forest), Martin Barraud (doorway), design by FORT

Synopsis: This is a dark, bittersweet story about the children who fall into fantasy worlds where they become heroes, and then find themselves lost and unable to cope when they are returned to the “real” world. An adult who was one of those children brings as many troubled children as she can find and save to her boarding house, an environment where they can be among others who understand and empathize with their pain.

What I thought: Damn that Seanan McGuire, damn her! Every time I read the backcover synopsis for one of her stories, I think, “Well, that doesn’t sound as though I’d much enjoy it” – and then I read it and enjoy it immensely. On my novella list for next year’s Hugos right now. TW for graphic mutilation scenes. A prequel, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, will be published in June 2017.

Filer Comments:

  • emgrasso: short but intense, with a main viewpoint character I really appreciated and a wonderful ending. I’m very glad there will be more stories in that universe.
  • Snodberry Fields: it was good. If you have enjoyed other works by Seanan McGuire you should read this too. The world building and characterization was first class! I just loved reading about these people. I cannot imagine that his will not be on my ballot next year.
  • Ryan H: I’m going to second Every Heart a Doorway. Anyone who is interested in identity and representation in books needs to give this a read. Oh, and is also a fantastic story!
  • Kyra: Pros: The characters and concepts are great, absolutely on the level of what I consider her best books. It gets recommended by me here on the strength of these. Cons: The plot; it was (in large part) a murder mystery where the perpetrator was completely obvious to me right away. I know she can write a mystery where that isn’t the case, Indexing certainly didn’t have an obvious villain, so I’m not sure why it happened here.
  • robinareid: thought Every Heart a Doorway AMAZING, especially the ending which was a lovely twist on conventional ending of that genre.
  • Vasha: Every Heart a Doorway is simply beautiful… the overriding mood of the story is wistfulness, and it’s perfectly captured… The main characters are tremendously appealing (yes, even the amoral mad scientist); they are a group of clever misfits who support each other fiercely, although recognizing that they can’t provide a true home for each other… It’s a short novella, and it’s just the perfect length. I don’t think anything needed to be added to flesh out its themes and characters; it says what it had to say and ends on the right note.
  • Mark-kitteh: I found it interesting that there was some overlap in concept with Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass, although the execution was from different angles. Each story must have been written without being aware of the other. What I liked about the earlier story was that the concept seemed so clever and natural that I was surprised I’d never seen it treated quite that way before, and then another version comes along!
  • Doctor Science: A great premise, beautifully creepy prose, and not the expected ending. My only problem: it’s a murder mystery, and it fails what I call The John Donne Test (“Any man’s death diminishes me”). The Test is: Is there a second murder? If there is, you fail, boom. If it’s a mystery story without *any* murder, you get an A.
  • Arifel: a good read but not the mind blowing tale I was hoping for from the premise.
  • Chris S.: this is really really good. I was surprised by the depth and complexity which got folded into such a short book. (click on hyperlink for rot-13 comment) She could have spun this out to trilogy length, but I think it’d have lost the impact at that length.
  • Greg Hullender: Although there are a lot of characters, they’re so well drawn that I never mixed them up, and I cared about all the key ones. The plot is multithreaded and works itself out perfectly. And the ending is moving.
  • Lowell Gilbert: I actually thought the ending was a bit predictable to be effecting. McGuire had written herself into a bit of a corner where there were a limited number of ways out. Still a great book, though.
  • Stephen Granade: I’ll be the nth person gushing over Every Heart a Doorway. Eerie, effecting, and in turns frightening and uplifting.
  • Bruce Baugh: has a remarkably good portrayal of a trans boy as one of the main characters. I live with a high degree of dysphoria myself and found much to recognize in his portrayal, and several trans friends have been recommending it independently of each other.
  • Kendall: it was very good – I recommend it! The audiobook narrator was quite good. I enjoyed the world building and characters, especially, and also the plot; it was a well-rounded story. It made a great stand-alone

These novellas are also on my list to read, but have not yet arrived at my library:

A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson [Sorcerer of the Wildeeps #2] (related short fiction with character background)

atasteofhoneyTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Tommy Arnold, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind gay romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

Set in the same world as, but not really a sequel to, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps.


The Lost Child of Lychford, by Paul Cornell [Witches of Lychford #2] (excerpt)

thelostchildoflychfordTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photo by Getty Images, design by FORT

Synopsis (jacket copy): It’s December in the English village of Lychford – the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another. Which means it’s Lizzie’s first Christmas as Reverend of St. Martin’s. Which means more stress, more expectation, more scrutiny by the congregation. Which means… well, business as usual, really.

Until the apparition of a small boy finds its way to Lizzie in the church. Is he a ghost? A vision? Something else? Whatever the truth, our trio of witches (they don’t approve of “coven”) are about to face their toughest battle, yet!


Hammers on Bone, by Cassandra Khaw [Persons Non Grata #1] (excerpt)

hammersonboneTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Jeffrey Alan Love, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable.

He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demons, and broken them in his teeth.

As Persons investigates the horrible McKinsey, he realizes that he carries something far darker. He’s infected with an alien presence, and he’s spreading that monstrosity far and wide. Luckily Persons is no stranger to the occult, being an ancient and magical intelligence himself. The question is whether the private dick can take down the abusive stepdad without releasing the holds on his own horrifying potential.

A sequel, A Song for Quiet, is due out in August 2017.


Project Clio, by Stephen Baxter (Kindle sample)

projectclioP.S. Publishing, editor unknown

cover art by Ilan Sheady

Synopsis (jacket copy): For the last decade we really have been waging a secret war against super-villains. It’s just as well the general public are too common-sense to believe any of it…

It’s 1969. Astronauts have just landed on the moon. In Britain, Harold Wilson is Prime Minister. And the Avengers are on TV. Detective Sergeant Clare Seeley, juggling work and family commitments, is aware of peculiar goings-on at the heart of the concrete-jungle new town that is her patch…

Agnes Doyle, brilliant computer scientist and unwilling precognitive, is about to be plunged into a lethally perilous situation…

The Sergeant and Lucy Pennyweather, gaudy swinging-London adventurers, are drawn to a peculiar conspiracy surrounding a pirate radio ship…

Henry Messen, veteran of the First World War and a special forces operative in the Second under the cover of a bumbling Home Guard officer, is on the track of a fugitive Nazi engineer with a very strange secret…

And Thelma Bennet, head of Project Clio the Cross-Agency League of Intelligence Operatives – is closing in on a global threat.

It’s 1969. Not as you know it. The way you always thought it was.


The Days of Tao, by Wesley Chu [Tao #4] (Kindle sample)

thedaysoftaothedaysoftaosubeditionAngry Robot / Subterranean Press, editor unknown

Angry Robot cover art by Argh! Nottingham

Subterranean Press cover art by Galen Dara, designer unknown

Synopsis (jacket copy): Cameron Tan wouldn’t have even been in Greece if he hadn’t gotten a ‘D’ in Art History. Instead of spending the summer after college completing his training as a Prophus operative, he’s doing a study abroad program in Greece, enjoying a normal life – spending time with friends and getting teased about his crush on a classmate.

Then the emergency notification comes in: a Prophus agent with vital information needs immediate extraction, and Cameron is the only agent on the ground, responsible for getting the other agent and data out of the country. The Prophus are relying on him to uncomplicate things.

Easy.

Easy, except the rival Genjix have declared all-out war against the Prophus, which means Greece is about to be a very dangerous place. And the agent isn’t the only person relying on Cameron to get them safely out of the country – his friends from the study abroad program are, too. Cameron knows a good agent would leave them to fend for themselves. He also knows a good person wouldn’t. Suddenly, things aren’t easy at all.


The Burning Light, by Bradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler (excerpt)

theburninglightTor.com, edited by Justin Landon

cover art by Richard Anderson, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leavings its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She’ll end the threat or die trying.

A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She’s special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But, Chu is getting close and Zola can’t hide forever.