The annual Darrell Awards support Midsouth Literacy by recognizing the best published Science Fiction, Fantasy and/or Horror. Due to the pandemic, the 2019 and 2020 editions of MidSouthCon were canceled, so the administrators asked fans to consider today’s announcement to be the presentation of the 2020 Darrell Awards.
BEST MIDSOUTH NOVEL 2020
Above the Ether by Eric Barnes
First Runner-Up — Carl Perkins Cadillac by John G. Hartness
BEST MIDSOUTH YOUNG ADULT NOVEL 2020
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
First Runner-Up — The Diminished and The Enchanted by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
BEST MIDSOUTH NOVELLA 2020
Shoot First by Larry Hoy and William Alan Webb
BEST MIDSOUTH SHORT STORY 2020
Killing Him by Carolyn McSparren (as published in Mayhem in Memphis)
First Runner-Up — The Game by H. David Blalock (as publishedin Tales of the Interstellar Bartenders Guild)
Additional Short Story Finalist — Robert J. Krog for Roxy Socksy and Herika Raymer for Critters (both published in Tales of the Interstellar Bartenders Guild).
(2) MIDSOUTHCON CANCELLED. MidSouthCon has been “postponed until 2021”, which is to say cancelled. The administrator of the Darrell Awards gave an update now that the presentation can’t take place there.
What About the 2020 Darrell Awards?
First, they will be given.
Second, the Winners and Runners-up and other Finalists will be announced here and on other social media.
Third, the details of how and when for the above will be decided by the Jury shortly.
As you may be aware, Governor Charlie Baker recently announced a ban on all gatherings of 250 people or more in Massachusetts. This ban is set with no current end date, until the governor announces otherwise. With Anime Boston 2020 scheduled for less than four weeks from now, it is highly likely this ban will still be in place. Given the uncertainty around these new circumstances, we have no choice but to cancel Anime Boston 2020….
(4) PLAN FOR LEFTY AWARDS. The Left Coast Crime mystery convention was brought to an abrupt end on Thursday when the coronavirus outbreak caused local San Diego health officials to restrict gatherings. The event’s Lefty Awards would have been voted on by members at the con. Now con committee member Stan Ulrich says they’re working on an alternative plan.
As you may know, we vote with paper ballots, and of course the voting period was unexpectedly cut short within a 2-hour period, due to conflicting and poorly-worded San Diego edicts.
We told the assembled folks at the last event, where about 200 attendees were in the room, that we will not be counting the paper ballots that had been cast, but rather would conduct an online vote by all registrants to this convention.
I don’t know when that will take place, but I’d hope we can do it very soon. We have many issues to deal with, ones we don’t even know about yet, so it will depend on when I can find the time to concentrate on getting it done right. But for now, my intention is to get the e-ballots out in the next few days, after we get home to Santa Fe, and set the system up.
Early this week, before it occurred to me that leaving the house to break bread might not be the wisest thing to do considering the times in which we live, I headed to Silver Spring, Maryland for lunch with Michael Dirda at All Set restaurant. Luckily, you won’t have to risk contagion from the coronavirus to take a seat at the table and eavesdrop on our conversation.
Michael is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post Book World with a special love for genre fiction. He’s the author of the memoir An Open Book, plus four collections of essays: Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book and Classics for Pleasure. Since 2002, he’s been a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and his book On Conan Doyle was awarded the 2012 Edgar Award in the Best Critical/Biographical category. He’s currently at work on The Great Age of Storytelling, an appreciation of British popular fiction of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
We discussed the convention at which he thought he was about to be punched out by Harlan Ellison, the book he wants to write but which he realizes he could probably never publish, how discovering E. F. Bleiler’s Guide to Supernatural Fiction opened a whole new world for him, whether he faced judgment from his peers for believing Georgette Heyer is as important as George Eliot, why he wants to be buried with a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, how Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins is like a Proustian madeleine, the way he navigates the tricky act of reviewing the fiction of friends, the word he used which annoyed Gene Wolfe, and much more.
Hockey-masked Jason has been creeping into everyone’s nightmares since making his killing debut in the ’80s, and later resurfacing for some more bloodshed in the early 21st century as well. While he’s been keeping a curiously low profile recently, this year Jason appeared in Japan in the lead-up to Friday the 13th, giving a surprise press conference to inform everyone that the coronavirus would be impinging on this year’s activities.
It started out as a project in an online forum and turned into the best-selling video game of all time, but now Minecraft is being used for something even its creator would not have dreamt of.
The iconic game based around placing Lego-like blocks with more than 145 million players each month has been turned into a hub of free speech.
A virtual library has been meticulously created to host articles written by journalists which were censored online.
Work by Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed by Saudi agents in 2018, can be read among the plethora of books in the library.
Minecraft has declined to comment.
The project was created by non-profit organisation Reporters Without Borders, which seeks to defend the freedom of information worldwide, and the Minecraft library itself was built by design studio Blockworks.
Christian Mihr, executive director of Reporters Without Borders Germany, told the BBC that Minecraft was good for the project as he believes it is not seen as a threat by governments which censor their media.
“We chose Minecraft because of its reach,” he said. “It is available in every country. The game is not censored like some other games which are under suspicion of being political.
(8) WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ BABIES. [Item by Mike
Kennedy.] GeekMom isn’t shy about sharing this opinion. My advice is to not
click through to the article unless you’re prepared to read about several major
bummer outcomes for these fictional tykes. “Stop With the Superhero Babies! It Never Works”.
This is going to sound callous, but I wish creators would stop adding superhero babies to their stories.
Because I hate it when the big two superhero comic companies introduce babies and young children into their stories.
Do I have anything against little kids and babies? No.
Do I think good stories of superhero parents can be told? Yes.
Do I think that’s ever been done on a consistent basis at DC and Marvel?
There are only a few fates available for babies or little kids with superhero parents in comics.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 14, 1994 — Robocop: The Series premiered. It stars Richard Eden as the title character. A Canadian produced and directed series, it lacks the graphic violence and intent of Robocop and Robocop 2 that preceded it, and adds a lot more humor. You can see the two-hour pilot episode here. It was adapted from the unused RoboCop 2 script, Corporate Wars which was from the writers of the first RoboCop film, Edward and Michael Miner.
March 14, 1995 — Cyborg Cop II premiered. It’s directed by Sam Firstenberg as written by Jon Stevens and Firstenberg. It’s obviously the sequel to Cyborg Cop, and stars David Bradley, Morgan Hunter, Jill Pierce, and Victor Melleney. Needless to say, a Cyborg Cop IIII film followed. You can see it here. Unlike Robocop: The Series, it is R rated, so you’ll need to sign in to prove you of an an appropriate age.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 14, 1869 — Algernon Blackwood. Writer of some of the best of the best horror and ghost stories ever done according to the research I just did. Most critics including Joshi say his two best stories are “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”. The novel that gets recommended is The Centaur. If you’re interested in reading him, he’s readily available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1951.)
Born March 14, 1918 — Mildred Clingerman. Most of her stories were published in the Fifties in F&SF whenBoucher was Editor. Boucher included “The Wild Wood” by her in the seventh volume of The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction and dedicated the book to her, calling her the “most serendipitous of discoveries.” A Cupful of Space and The Clingerman Files, neither available as a digital publication, contain all of her stories. (Died 1997.)
Born March 14, 1948 — Valerie Martin, 72. Her novel Mary Reilly is the retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of a servant in the doctor’s house. It is a film of the same name with John Malkovich in the lead role. It was nominated for Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.
Born March 14, 1957 — Tad Williams, 63. Author of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Otherland series, and Shadowmarch series as well as the most excellent Tailchaser’s Song and The War of the Flowers.
Born March 14, 1964 — Julia Ecklar, 56. She’s the Astounding Award–winning author for The Kobayashi Maru which is available in English and German ebook editions. She’s also a filk musician who recorded numerous albums in the Off Centaur label in the early 1980s, including Horse-Tamer’s Daughter, Minus Ten and Counting, and Genesis.
Born March 14, 1971 — Rebecca Roanhorse, 49. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won both a Nebula and a Hugo as best short story. She also won the 2018 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her novel Trail of Lightning was also a Nebula and Hugo nominee.
Born March 14, 1974 — Grace Park, 46. Boomer on the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. She’s been on a fair amount of genre over the years with her first acting role being the Virtual Avatar in the “Bits of Love” episode of Outer Limits. After that, she shows up on Secret Agent Man, This Immortal, The Outer Limits again, Star Gate SG-1, Andromeda, and oddly enough, Battlestar Galactica in a number roles other than her main one. I’m sure one of you can explain the latter.
Born March 14, 1978 — Butcher Billy, 42. Brazilian artist and graphic designer known for his art pieces and illustration series based on popular culture. Though ISFDB only lists his Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded and Jurassic Park piece, he’s active right to the present as he did artwork based on Black Mirrior which in turn led him to being commissioned to do work for the series by series creator Charlie Brooker.
(12) HIGH CAPACITY. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid 13th March 2020” has a
report from planet-forming vessel The Future about their
recent…Dalek…unpleasantness. Plus —
We’ve also got a detailed look at new James Bond sourcebook Bond Vs Bond, an offer of help for anyone whose projects are marooned due to the ever receding tide of events, an update on where I’m at right now and my favorite Kids in the Hall sketches! Which may not be the ones you think…
Elsewhere, Kat Kourbeti is one of my favorite people and she’s just started a writing/commentary/media newsletter. If you like The Lid you’ll love Honest to Blog. Finally, Liberty is a constellation of podcasts and comics. It’s one of my personal high watermarks for cyberpunk/urban SF and they’ve just lost some listeners due to a server migration. Treat yourself and go check them out.
Harry Connolly’s Twenty Palaces series protagonist Ray Lilly would have been right at home in a hardboiled crime novel. In the weird horror setting in which he lives, Ray’s combination of criminal smarts, blind loyalty, and diminished executive function led him to dabble in the Dark Arts. Unlike most fools who flirt with inadvertently letting extradimensional predators into our world, Ray is given a chance to make amends for his bad judgement. Indeed, he’s not given any choice: Ray will spend the rest of his life fighting the horrors he enabled.
The novel coronavirus has assailed more than 100 countries, infecting over 121,000 people and causing over 4,300 deaths. And while the outbreak sparked in China, Europe has not been spared: Italy is on lockdown, cases are escalating in Spain and France, and German leaders are bracing for nearly 70% of the country’s population to contract the illness. Tourist haunts, shops, universities, and entire towns are deserted.
But the mounting fear of this contagion didn’t stop people in western France from setting a Guinness World Record on March 7.
Some 3,500 people dressed up as Smurfs — in blue and white outfits, with painted faces, and toting the characters’ trademark pointed hats — gathered in the town of Landerneau. Their goal was to set a record for the largest-ever gathering of the blue, human-like Belgian comic characters.
The astronauts and cosmonauts on board the International Space Station have brought with them a host of bacteria from Earth. How do they keep them from creating havoc?
By 1998, after 12 years in orbit, Russian space station Mir was showing its age. Power cuts were frequent, the computers unreliable and the climate control system was leaking. But when the crew began a study to assess the types of microbes they were sharing their living space with, even they were surprised at what they found.
Opening an inspection panel, they discovered several globules of murky water – each around the size of a football. Later analysis revealed the water was teeming with bacteria, fungi and mites. Even more concerning were the colonies of organisms attacking the rubberised seals around the space station windows and the acid-excreting bugs slowly eating the electrical cabling.
When each Mir module launched from Earth it was near-pristine, assembled in clean rooms by engineers wearing masks and protective clothing. All the unwanted life now living on the station had been carried into orbit by the multinational group of men and women who subsequently occupied the orbiting laboratory.
We share our lives, and bodies, with microbes. From the bacteria lining our gut, to the microscopic mites nibbling at our dead skin, it’s estimated that more than half the cells in our body aren’t human. Most of these microbes are not only harmless but essential, enabling us to digest food and fend off disease. Everywhere we go, we take our microbiome with us and – just like humans – it’s learning to adapt to life in space….
Her research is timely. By November this year, the ISS will have been occupied continuously for 20 years. After the experience of Mir, biologists have been concerned about what else might be living on board and particularly any microbes that might endanger the station, or worse, the astronauts.
(16) SOUL TRAILER. Disney and Pixar’s Soul, in
theaters June 19.
Joe Gardner is a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22, who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.
With little in the way of excitement with the box office delay of Mulan and likely Black Widow, Disney decided to give fans something to be exciting about by releasing Frozen 2 to Disney+ three months ahead of schedule starting Sunday. It was originally set to release June 26.
The film will also arrive on Disney Plus in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday, March 17.
In a statement, new Disney CEO Bob Chapek said “the themes of perseverance and the importance of family are messages that are incredibly relevant during this time, and we are pleased to be able to share this heartwarming story early with our Disney+ subscribers to enjoy at home on any device.”
(18) MAN TROUBLE. Andrew Porter was tuned into Jeopardy!
the other night when contestants collided with this topic:
Category: Male Writers
Answer: “Me, Alex. Him, this serial novelist who oldest WWII correspondent in South Pacific theatre at age 66”
Wrong question: “Who is Michener?”
Right question: “Who is Edgar Rice Burroughs?”
(19) BETTER THAN JURASSIC PARK. “Blood
sucking insect stuck in amber with dinosaur DNA is nothing. Whole dinosaur
skull preserved in Amber – now you’re talking.” — John Hammond.
In this week’s Nature: “Tiny fossil sheds light on miniaturization of birds”. Tagline “A tiny skull trapped in 99-million-year-old amber suggests that some of the earliest birds evolved to become miniature. The fossil illustrates how ancient amber can act as a window into the distant past.”
Dinosaurs were big, whereas birds — which evolved from dinosaurs — are small. This variation is of great importance, because body size affects lifespan, food requirements, sensory capabilities and many other fundamental aspects of biology. The smallest dinosaurs weighed hundreds of grams, but the smallest living bird, the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), weighs only 2 grams. How did this difference come about, and why? In a paper in Nature, Xing et al. describe the tiny, fossilized, bird-like skull of a previously unknown species, which they name Oculudentavis khaungraae. The discovery suggests that miniature body sizes in birds evolved earlier than previously recognized, and might provide insights into the evolutionary process of miniaturization.
(20) STARGIRL. Here’s the extended version of the Stargirl
trailer. Stargirl debuts Monday, May
11 on DC Universe. It will debut on The CW the next day, Tuesday, May 12.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Eric Wong, Chip Hitchcock, John King
Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]
The annual Darrell Awards support Midsouth Literacy by
recognizing the best published Science Fiction, Fantasy and/or Horror in Short
Story, Novella, Novel, Young Adult & Other Media formats. The 2020 Darrell Awards finalists are:
The annual Darrell Awards support Midsouth Literacy by recognizing
the best published Science Fiction, Fantasy and/or Horror in Short Story,
Novella, Novel, Young Adult & Other Media formats. The 2019
Darrell Awards finalists are:
Best Midsouth Novel
John E. Siers — In the Service of Luna
Frank Tuttle — Every Wind of Change
Best Midsouth Novella
Kevin Andrew Murphy – Find the Lady (appearing in Mississippi Roll, a Wild Cards shared-world novel)
William Alan Webb – The Hairy Man (set in his post-apocalypse series)
Best Midsouth Other Media
Matthew Maala — Amazing Grace (Season 3, Episode 14, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow tv series)
Mark Powers — Dog Men (the first 6 issues in this comic book series set in Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files universe)
Best Midsouth Short Story
Lee Ann Story — “Family Circle” (appearing in End of the World Potluck)
Sheree Renee Thomas — “Teddy Bump” (appearing in Fiyah Lit Mag, issue 7)
Frank Tuttle — “Knob Hill Haunt” (a free-standing Mama Hogg story in the Markhat universe)
The Darrell Awards are named in honor of the memory of Dr. Darrell C. Richardson, who was instrumental in getting the Memphis SF Association off the ground.
2019 Darrell Awards will be presented at MidSouthCon in Memphis on March 16.
(1) A DOG STORY. The Verge has released the latest installment in its multimedia
science fiction project about hope, Better Worlds. Don’t tell me – John Scalzi wrote a
story about a Sad Puppy?
Today, we published one of the original short stories that we’re most excited about, “A Model Dog,” from prolific science fiction writer and Hugo Award-winner John Scalzi. Scalzi is a familiar name to most science fiction readers, best known for his novels Old Man’s War, Redshirts, The Collapsing Empire, and, most recently, The Consuming Fire.
In Scalzi’s hilarious new story story “A Model Dog” and the video adaptation from animator Joel Plosz, an eccentric tech billionaire’s frivolous project to “engineer a solution” to a dying dog takes a surprising and heartwarming turn.
It does seem like this type of experimentation would have a downstream effect. I know Neil deGrasse Tyson is fond of saying that going to space brought with it a number of other things you wouldn’t expect.
Absolutely. It’s the whole Velcro effect. You go into space, so you had to invent Velcro. It’s weird when you think about it. I’m not necessarily a proponent of the idea that you do a big thing because you get a few small, ancillary things out of it because it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get anything out of it. But it’s certainly not wrong. Anything you do is going to have failures and spinoffs and dead ends. But those failures, spinoffs, and dead ends aren’t necessarily things that are going to be bad or useless. It might be an unexpected thing. You do see this. A guy wanting to make a more powerful adhesive ended up creating the sticky note at 3M. Even if something doesn’t work the way you expect it to, you still get something beneficial out of it. And, to some extent, that’s what this story also nets: they aimed for one thing, and they ended up getting another.
I really hadn’t thought about the issue this year. I suppose my feeling is that one year of telling people what to do with their vote is enough. I’m not officially taking myself out of the running, but I don’t expect to be nominated again. If it does come up, I’ll decide what to do then.
(3) AMERICAN GODS. The
epic war of the gods begins when American
Gods premieres March 10 on STARZ.
It gives us great pleasure to announce that the winner is TROY L. WIGGINS, who was chosen for his outstanding contributions to Midsouth literacy, both as a writer of SF/F/H short stories and for his role in founding Fiyah Lit Mag, a relatively-new SF/F/H magazine (now in its third year).
Mr. Wiggins joins 16 previous inductees, including Nancy Collins, Eric Flint, Justin Cronin, Howard Waldrop, and a dozen more worthies.
There’s more information on the Coger Memorial Hall of Fame
Here is the entire list of what Virgin Money will cover:
by a sharknado
by a 100 ft tall Stay Puft marshmallow man
by a world terraforming engine (ie: Superman)
caused being pursued by a Giant from a cloud-based castle
trampled by Godzilla
by Decepticon (ie: Transformers)
by heat ray from Martian tripods
by the Loch Ness monster
Being given the cruciatus curse
by Lord Voldemort
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
21, 1972 — NYC hosted the first Star Trek Convention.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 21, 1923 – Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the Hearth, Gunner Cade, Outpost Mars and The Tomorrow People of which the last three were with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote twenty six stories which can be found in The Best of Judith Merril. She was an editor as well of both anthologies and magazines. Her magazine editorship was as Judy Zissman and was Science*Fiction in 1946 and Temper! In 1945 and 1947. May I comment that ISFDB notes Temper! has a header of The Magazine of Social Protest which given its date may make it the earliest SJW citation known in our genre? Oh and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She was also a much lauded Books Editor there at the same time. Yes, I know she had a complicated personal life but that’s not for here. (Died 1997.)
Born January 21, 1924 — Dean Fredericks. Actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in the television series of the same name which aired from 1958–1959 on NBC. His first genre role is in Them! followed by appearances in The Disembodied and the lead in The Phantom Planet. (Died 1999.)
Born January 21, 1956 – Diana Pavlac Glyer, 63. Academic whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She has a number of published works to date with two of interest to us, Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings and The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. The third in case you’re wondering is Clay in the Potter’s Hands.
Born January 21, 1956 – Geena Davis, 63. Her first genre was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife In The Fly followed by her by widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail In Earth Girls Are Easy. She next plays Morgan Adams in the theatrical bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise. She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten episode FOX sequel to the film.
Born January 21, 1958 – Michael Wincott, 61. Guy of Gisbourne In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was his first genre role. Oh well. He did much better playing the truly evil Top Dollar in The Crow next, and his Comte de Rochefort in the 1993 The Three Musketeers wasn’t that bad. He played Philo Grant in Strange Days, and was Captain Frank Elgyn In Alien Resurrection. His latest film role was as Dr. Osmond In Ghost in the Shell. He shows up as the Old Bill character in the “The Original” and “Contrapasso” episodes of Westworld.
Born January 21, 1970 – Ken Leung, 49. Best known for playing Miles Straume in Lost, Admiral Statura in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Kid Omega in X-Men: The Last Stand. His latest role is as Karnak, a member of the Inhumans on the series Inhumans. His first genre appearance was I think was as Syatyoo-Sama in A.I. and he later has a recurring role on Person of Interest, a show where AIs play a prominent role.
Lucas could have made a fortune with custom editions if he’d followed the advice implicit in this classic FoxTrot.
(11) REACTIONARY COMPS. Laura B. McGrath, in “Comping White” at LA Review of Books, makes the case that a publishing industry technique for projecting a book’s success, comp titles, is biased against people of color, and further, tends to neutralize the effect of having more people of color working behind the scenes.
…Instead, I decided to study the most important data that no one outside of publishing has ever heard of: Comp Titles. “Comps are king in this business,” an editor told me. (She works for a major house, and spoke under the condition of anonymity.) Comps, short for “comparable” or “comparative” titles, are the basis of all acquisitions. By predicting profits and losses, comps help editors determine if they should acquire a book or not. Comps are a sort of gatekeeper, determining what — and who — gets access to the marketplace.
The logic is straightforward: Book A (a new title) is similar to Book B (an already published title). Because Book B sold so many copies and made so much money, we can assume that Book A will also sell so many copies and make so much money. Based on these projections, editors determine if they should pre-empt, bid, or pass on a title, and how much they should pay in an author advance. Above all, comps are conservative. They manage expectations, and are designed to predict as safe a bet as possible. They are built on the idea that if it worked before, it will work again…
And if there’s no comp to be found? If a book hasn’t ever “worked” because it hasn’t ever happened? If the target audience for a book isn’t considered big or significant enough to warrant the investment? “If you can’t find any comps,” one editor explained, grimacing, “It’s not a good sign.” While intended to be an instructive description (“this book is like that book”), some editors suggested that comps have become prescriptive (“this book should be like that book”) and restrictive (“…or we can’t publish it”).
The mysterious “Planet Nine,” which is theorized to be 10 times larger than Earth and lies somewhere in the outer reaches of our solar system, might not be a planet at all, says a new study.
It may really be a gigantic disk made up of smaller objects lying just beyond Neptune exerting the same gravitational force as a super-Earth-sized planet, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge and the American University of Beirut.
(13) IN A HOLE IN THE
GROUND THERE LIVED A MARTIAN COLONIST. Dwayne Day reviews season 2 of National
Geographic’s Mars in “Mars:
Bringer of ennui (Part 1)” at The
The first season, consisting of six episodes, featured some excellent and insightful documentary segments and commentary, but the drama segments, which were closely tied to the documentary stories, were grim and depressing. Now, two years later, season two has aired. Unfortunately, that same dynamic was repeated: often stunning documentary segments and intelligent commentary interspersed with tedious and uninspiring drama. If National Geographic has a message about the human exploration of Mars, it is that nobody will have any fun.
The interconnectedness of Europe has a long history, as we’re reminded when we explore the roots of the English language – roots that stretch back to the 5th Century. Anglo-Saxon England “was connected to the world beyond its shores through a lively exchange of books, goods, ideas,” argues the Medieval historian Mary Wellesley, describing a new exhibition at the British Library in London – Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War – that charts the genesis of England.
“Something like 80% of all surviving Old English verse survives in four physical books… for the first time in recorded history they are all together,” she tells BBC Culture. “The period that is represented by Old English is about 600 years, which is like between us and back to Chaucer… imagine if there were only four physical books that survived from that period, what would that say about our literature?”
The trolls and orcs in The Lord of the Rings films aren’t real. The dragons and dire wolves on the hit television show Game of Thrones are simulated. The dinosaurs that rampaged through a string of Jurassic Park films don’t exist outside a computer. Or do they?
These days, it can be hard to tell from the screen, given that computer-generated characters in films and video games now seem so realistic down to every tooth and claw. The realism comes from the long and fruitful interaction between science and the cinema that can be traced back to the pioneering work more than a century ago of the photographer Eadweard Muybridge (the eccentric spelling of his first name was a deliberate homage to Anglo-Saxon style).
The blending of cinematic and scientific techniques continues today. In a paper in this week’s Nature, researchers describe how they used animation techniques to reconstruct the motion of a long-extinct animal….
(18) LOOKING FOR A LAIR. A new trailer for SHAZAM! — in theaters April 5.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Liptak, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
Nyarlathotep is now facing one of the greatest threats in Its presidency so far. I should know, I clock in to kneel at Its feet upon the Altar of Despair every day.
In the year-and-a-half since the Black Pharaoh replaced the Oval Office with a literal blood fountain throne, I’ve watched as the hits keep on coming. The executive cabinet is wracked with scandal, ordinary citizens who signed the cultist oath are making good on their grave pacts, and, of course, the entirety of the country’s water supply is now teeming with pulsating eggs from some kind of inter-dimensional parasite. It’s easy to look at these kinds of headlines, to read these sorts of leaked stories from the desiccated Capitol Hill, and see an unsustainable administration. Rumors of reversal incantations are beginning to make the rounds, and if our Commander-in-Chief is not careful, It could find Itself cast back among the stars beyond the universe. The past few weeks, in particular, have seen our President certainly live up to our campaign slogan “I See All, and It Shall Burn.”…
(2) FOR THE RECORD. On the second night of the 2018 Creative Arts Awards no Emmys were given for works of genre interest, which made it hard to do a post about them….
Like many SF/F fans across the intersections of LGBTQ+ identities, I’m constantly on the lookout for good fiction that reflects something of my own experience. In seeking lists that recommend or simply catalogue such works, I’ve found many that, while well-intended, tend to mash an enormous body of work together without considering how authors actually deal with the content. This means that quite often, bigoted portrayals are set right next to works that feature positive representation, or else work that is as gay as possible will be set next to work with only the briefest passing mention of “non-normative” sexuality.
This raises some potentially thorny questions: How should we approach the idea of canon, in this particular set of circumstances? What should we look for when we compile lists of LGBTQ+ speculative fiction? What are we compiling for? Do we consider any mention at all? Focus mainly on positive representation? What about historical context and works by authors who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community?
(7) WRITING CLASS HIGHLIGHTS. Connect with Cat Rambo’s livetweeted highlights from last weekend’s classes at the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers:
Rachel Swirsky talking about Breaking the Rules: thread starts here.
Rachel Swirsky’s Ideas Are Everywhere class: thread starts here.
Fran Wilde’s Fantastic Worldbuilding class: thread starts here.
If you’ve read David R. Bunch, there’s a good chance it’s because of Harlan Ellison. The famed author (and renowned grouch of popular culture) selected not one, but two short stories by the little-known writer for his landmark 1967 New Wave sci-fi collection, Dangerous Visions—the only contributor to have more than one piece included. As a result, “Incident In Moderan” and “The Escaping” are where most people’s awareness of Bunch begins—and ends. He published hundreds of short stories in his life, but mostly in small digests, obscure literary magazines, and even fanzines. No definitive bibliography exists; his last published work (a book of poetry) was from 18 years ago, and neither of his two collections of fiction have been in print for decades.
That changes with the publication of Moderan, the latest entry in NYRB Classics’ series, and a fascinating testament to Bunch’s strange talent….
(9) TODAY’S TRIVIA
Andre Delambre, The Fly, 1958 —
“Take television. What happens? A string of electrons – sound and picture impulses – are transmitted through wires into the air. The TV camera is the disintegrater. Your set [the reintegrater] unscrambles or integrates the electrons back into pictures and sound…the disintegrator/will completely change life as we know it. Think what it’ll mean. Food. Anything. Even humans will go through one of these devices. No need for cars or railways or airplanes, even spaceships. We’ll just set up matter transcieving devices throughout the world, and later the universe. They will never be a need or famine. Surpluses can be sent instantaneously at almost no cost anywhere. Humanity need never fear or want again.”
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
September 10, 1993 — The X-Files premiered
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 10 – Thelma J. Shinn, 76. Author of Worlds Within Women, Myth and Mythmaking in Fantastic Literature by Women and Women Shapeshifters: Transforming the Contemporary Novel.
Born September 10 — Nancy A. Collins, 59. Ok, I consider her Sonja Blue punk vampire series which ran I think to nearly a baker’s dozen works starting in the early 90s to be one of the best of that genre, easily the equal of the Blade comic series. She also did more than a smattering of short fiction, essays and reviews as well.
Born September 10 – Victoria Strauss, 63. An author of nine fantasy novels largely in the Stone and the Way of Arata series. Has written myriad reviews for both print and website venues.
Born September 10 – Pat Cadigan, 65. Writer whose work has been described as cyberpunkish. Won a Hugo for “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” in the Novelette category. Garnered the Arthur C. Clarke Award for her novels Synners and Fools. Tea from an Empty Cup is my favorite work by her.
Cadigan won a Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2013 for “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi.,” which has also won a Seiun Award. She had previously won a World Fantasy Award in the Non-Professional category for co-editing the fanzine Shayol with Arnie Fenner. She won two Arthur C. Clarke Awards for her novels Synners and Fools. In 1979, her story “Death from Exposure” won the coveted Balrog Award. In 2006, Cadigan received the third (and most recent) Richard Evans Memorial Prize, given to genre authors who were considered insufficiently recognized for their excellence. Cadigan served as the Toastmaster for MidAmericon II, the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City.
In the centre of the small downtown, on the banks of the San Juan River, sit three conspicuous, geodesic greenhouses, each 42ft (13m) in diameter. They stand in stark contrast to the old-timey buildings on the road above. All will house gardens, but each has a different mission.
(17) POWER OF THE MIND. Defense One’s story “It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm” tells how a communication interface directly connected to a human brain can control up to three drones. The serious implications extend well beyond the defense industry to potential help for the locationally challenged as well as those with artificial limbs.
Dann appreciated that the above link was followed in his RSS feed by a Dilbert comic that suggests there are some folks who might be beyond help.
(18) PAYING ATTENTION, In “The stunning artworks made of light”, the BBC reports on an interactive digital museum where each display of chandelieresque lights etc. changes according to the people in the room.
“The museum itself is one artwork,” Takashi Kudo of teamLab tells BBC Culture. The Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless is a 10,000 sq m (107,639 sq ft) digital art space in Tokyo, Japan, where everything is controlled by computers, right down to the electronic tickets. The museum is made up of 60 individual artworks, but as the name, Borderless, suggests, the place is meant to be experienced as a whole, rather than as a series of individual pieces.
Made up of 520 computers and 470 projectors, the museum is inspired by the concept of interactivity and the art responds to movement as visitors walk through the space. In this piece, Forest of Lamps, the lights react to a person’s presence. If there is more than one person in the room, the lights will change based on both of their movements, and the process continues the more people you add. Kudo explains that having multiple people experiencing an artwork at one time, and becoming a part of it, means the experience is enhanced for all.
(19) DOES ANYBODY REALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?[Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a new scientific paper in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (“Universal method for robust detection of circadian state from gene expression”) Dr Rosemary Braun, et al., claim to have developed a new and simpler method to measure a person’s circadian rhythm. The paper is broken down in simpler terms in Popular Science (“This new blood test can figure out what time it is inside your cells”). The existing method requires numerous blood draws so that melatonin in the blood can be measured over time. The new method requires only two blood draws—a number of different markers are measured to determine the level of expression of different genes. Popular Science author Kat Eschner writes:
…To create this test, researchers trained [an] algorithm to look for chemical evidence of about 40 specific genes in the blood samples. They picked those 40 by analyzing a much larger dataset and finding the ones that express at specific times.
According to the research, the algorithm works regardless of whether the patient is sick or well. That’s significant because gene expression—the way your genes activate, prompting the production of chemicals and helping your body to function—is changed by things as simple as how much sleep you get.
…The researchers found something unexpected—the genes that are the best predictors of body clock aren’t all “what we could call the core clock genes,” Braun says. “A lot of them are genes that are related to other biological processes, but they’re regulated by the clock. They’re regulated so tightly by the clock that observing them becomes a good marker for the clock itself.”
Kalashnikov Concern, a Russian manufacturer known for the AK-47 assault rifle, is thinking pretty big these days when it comes to new defense machines. The company unveiled a concept for a bipedal battle robot this week and all I can think about are the two-legged AT-STs from Star Wars.
The Kalashnikov creation seems to be solidly in the concept realm right now. It looks like its main job is to just stand there and look cool.
It has a couple of grabby arms and hands reminiscent of the Power Loader suit from Aliens and a large cabin at the top where presumably a human driver would sit to control the machine. It looks a bit top-heavy and not quite as lithe as an AT-ST.
…And this year, we’re celebrating the 200th birthday of one of the most famous scary stories of all time: Frankenstein — so a few months ago, we asked you to nominate your favorite horror novels and stories, and then we assembled an expert panel of judges to take your 7000 nominations and turn them into a final, curated list of 100 spine-tingling favorites for all kinds of readers. Want to scar your children for life? We can help. Want to dig into the dark, slimy roots of horror? We’ve got you covered.
As with our other reader polls, this isn’t meant to be a ranked or comprehensive list — there are a few books you won’t see on it despite their popularity — some didn’t stand the test of time, some just didn’t catch our readers’ interest, and in some cases our judges would prefer you see the movie instead. (So no Jaws, sorry.) And there are a few titles that aren’t strictly horror, but at least have a toe in the dark water, or are commenting about horrific things, so our judges felt they deserved a place on the list.
One thing you won’t see on the list is any work from this year’s judges, Stephen Graham Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Tananarive Due and Grady Hendrix….
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lee.]
The annual Darrell Awards support Midsouth Literacy by recognizing the best published Science Fiction, Fantasy and/or Horror in Short Story, Novella, Novel, Young Adult & Other Media formats.
Best Midsouth Novel
Winner – Land of Wolves by T. J. Turner
First Runner-Up – Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan
Finalist – Seek and Destroy by William C. Dietz
Best Midsouth Novella
Winner – A Night at the Quay by William A. Webb (as seen in Sharp Steel and High Adventure: Volume 3)
First Runner-Up – Luminaria by John Horner Jacob (as seen in Apex Magazine # 94)
Best Midsouth Young Adult Work
Winner – Coney Island Book of the Dead by Sheila Martin
Best Midsouth Short Story
Winner – From Hair to Eternity by Phyllis Appleby (as seen in Malice in Memphis: Elmwood Stories)
First Runner-Up – Black Like Them by Troy L. Wiggins (as seen in Fireside Magazine)
Finalist – A Very Worthy Human Being by Richard Powell (as seen in Malice in Memphis: Elmwood Stories)
The related Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award is given to an author who has made exceptional contributions to Midsouth Literacy by having published a substantial body of work that is or would have been eligible for the Darrell Award.
Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award
Robin Burks, for her extraordinary contributions to Midsouth literacy, more specifically her trilogy (Zeus, Inc; The Curse of Hekate; and The Return of the Titans)
The annual Darrell Awards support Midsouth Literacy by recognizing the best published Science Fiction, Fantasy and/or Horror in Short Story, Novella, Novel, Young Adult & Other Media formats. The 2018 Darrell Awards finalists are:
William C. Dietz – Seek and Destroy
Nick Rowan – Wild Hunt
TJ Turner – Land of Wolves
Sheila Martin – Coney Island Book of the Dead
John Hornor Jacobs – Luminaria
William Alan Webb – A Night at the Quay
Phyllis Appleby – From Hair to Eternity
Richard Powell – A Very Worthy Human Being
Troy L. Wiggins – Black Like Them
The related Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award is given to an author who has made exceptional contributions to Midsouth Literacy by having published a substantial body of work that is or would have been eligible for the Darrell Award.
The award jury announced that Robin Burks is their 2018 inductee to the Coger Hall of Fame for her three novel series (Zeus, Inc.; The Curse of Hekate; and Return of the Titans).
I am beyond thrilled to get this recognition and only hate that I cannot attend the subsequent banquet because of a previous commitment. I am so honored, though, and excited about this newest development in my writing career. It’s also the kick in the pants I need to keep writing and to keep working on the final edits to Madame Vampire.
The awards will be presented at MidSouthCon in Memphis, TN on Saturday March 10.
The Darrell Awards jury has announced its picks for the shortlist of Best Published Midsouth Science Fiction, Fantasy, and/or Horror of 2015. Created in 1996, the awards are named after Dr. Darrell C. Richardson, founding member of Memphis Science Fiction Association (MSFA).
When Dragons Sleep by Steven Glen Baird
Lincoln’s Bodyguard by T. J. Turner
The Darker Carnival by Frank Tuttle
Young Adult Works
The Old Blood by Tim Bohn
All The Turns of Light by Frank Tuttle
“Zedhead” by Victor Lorthos
“The Ones Who Remember” by Robert J. Krog
“Memphis BBQ” by Cat Rambo
“Sentry” by Herika R. Raymer
In a fourth category, the jury has named an outright winner:
Best Midsouth SF/F/H Novella
Brielle and the Alien Geek by Jessica Coulter Smith.
And the jury has chosen the recipient of an annual memorial award.
Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award
Aaron Christopher Drown
Aaron Christopher Drown
For his outstanding body of work, including many excellent short stories.
The 2016 Darrell Awards will be presented at MidSouthCon 34 on March 19.