(1) TOP SHELF. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog shares some interesting insights: “Interview: Guest Lecturer David Farland”.
You write under Dave Wolverton for science fiction stories and David Farland for fantasy stories. How did you decide on using two names for your fiction? When would you advise writers to use pseudonyms?
“Wolverton” is a cool enough name for a writer, but so often my books ended up on the bottom shelf. I thought only garden gnomes walking through the store were likely to find them. In fact, research done by Campbell’s Soups showed that 92% of people won’t stoop over to get their favorite soup from the bottom shelf. So think about it. Does that mean that 92% of my readers were being lost?
Maybe I wasn’t losing quite that many, but I think it makes a difference.
So, why change your name?
Change it if it is too close to another famous author’s name. For example, if you’re named Steve King, change your name.
Change it if it’s unpronounceable or offensive. I used to have a good friend whose last name was Shnitz. I’d change it.
Change it if it’s too long to fit on a cover. My real name, at nine letters, was a tad too long.
Change it if you’re writing to vastly different audiences. I used to know a writer who wrote erotica under one name but wrote for Christian audiences under another. He actually used more than twenty pseudonyms since he wrote for a lot of different magazines.
Basically, I try to put pride in my work, not my name. My writer’s name is just a marketing tool, not my identity.
(2) OUR ONLY HOPE. Eric Gansworth may or may not spoil The Mandalorian in “Mute Force: Why #NativeTwitter Couldn’t Stop Talking About Baby Yoda” at Literary Hub – read at your own risk!
… Several generations later, my family prefers social media. Even members who hate technology have Twitter accounts and they share. Because traditional Indian arts rely on the supply and demand of in-person sales, our forms often include fresh subjects. Nephews send me links to Pacific Northwest superheroes and Star Wars, dubbed into Dine (Navajo). If Tuscarora or Onondaga did this, I’d be all over the effort. I’ve memorized an inappropriate percentage of Star Wars dialogue, and I spoke Tuscarora decently as a kid. The infrastructure is there in my head. I have a kid’s love for Star Wars, less embarrassed than a lot of middle-aged men. I’ve owned a beaded Batman belt-buckle for over half my life. The adult half.
Star Wars is a lens Indians have readily adopted. I love the weird visual pun of a white Rez Dog rocking an orange Stormtrooper pauldron. I also understand the brilliance of the Dine language dub. We recently lost our last Tuscarora continuous fluent speaker, in his nineties. Younger people long studied with him, but now that door is closed. We understand Princess Leia seeking Obi-Wan Kenobi. Her Only Hope was an elder’s endurance. Now that ours is gone, our language fragments float in space like Alderaan, destroyed by the Empire’s weapon, the oo-nih-SEH`rheh Gih-heh. Is it too late to reassemble and master those fragments? If someone started scrolling through my phone pics, could I tell them in Tuscarora that it’s not the droid they’re looking for? Could we laugh?
I love that Twitter doesn’t require an account. Lurking, I stumbled upon #NativeTwitter. Like many Rez gatherings, it has undercurrents of just deadly grousing and gossip, sick burns and sometimes out and out raw belligerence and trolling people who should know better. But as often, it’s an auger for indigenous sweet spots. I’ve regularly seen beginning beadwork artists ask for and receive help. It gives me hope, but not enough to create an account. I know my limitations, or some of them, anyway….
(3) THE MCKELLEN CONNECTION. We linked to David Steffen’s introductory “Universal Transitive Headcanon (UTH)” which explains the concept. Today he put up the first post applying the concept: “UTH #1: The Story of Gandalf and Magneto” at Diabolical Plots. Steffen says, “I could not be more delighted with how it turned out.”
… It is no wonder, then, that even after saving most of the then-known world from the evil power of Sauron yet again, that Gandalf would become embittered and, not only take on an entirely new persona of Eric Lensherr/Magneto (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, etc), but turn his back on his prior methods and many of the people he had fought to protect….
(4) READ MORE ABOUT PHYLLIS EISENSTEIN. Bill Higgins notes, “Phyllis and her husband Alex have been good friends to me for over forty years. I wrote a little over at Making Light. She had friends everywhere across the SF world, I believe, and she leaves behind a large empty space in Chicago fandom.”
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- December 14, 1984 — On his day in 1984, Dune premiered. It was directed by David Lynch and produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis, the screenplay was by David Lynch from the Hugo Award winning novel by Frank Herbert. It starred Francesca Annis, Linda Hunt, Sting, Kyle MacLachlan and a cast of thousands. It did spectacularly poorly at the box office and was treated rather badly by critics. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes however give a quite spectacular sixty six percent rating. It would place in fourth in Hugo voting at AussieCon Two (1985) with 2010: Odyssey Two winning that year.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born December 14, 1869 – Elphinstone Dayrell. His Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria (1910; he was then District Commissioner) published forty tales, many fantastic; the text, with its introduction by Andrew Lang, is here; most reprinted 2019 with much else in African Myths & Tales. (Died 1917) [JH]
- Born December 14, 1916 — Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has been made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story which recently was made into a series. I see that’s she’s written quite a bit of genre short fiction — has anyone here read it? (Died 1965.) (CE)
- Born December 14, 1920 — Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books particularly her historical fiction which involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.) (CE)
- Born December 14, 1939 – John Baxter, age 83. Four novels, a dozen shorter stories; two Pacific Book of SF anthologies; film (including SF in the Cinema and biographies of e.g. Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini), television; four volumes of memoirs; letters, essays in Australian SF Review, Relapse (which I wish had kept the title Prolapse, but what do I know?), Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary, Trap Door, Xero. [JH]
- Born December 14, 1946 – Jenny Sullivan, Ph.D., age 74. A score of books for us, a dozen others, with Welsh themes, some in both Welsh and English. Chilton Bursary. Two Tir na n-Og Awards. Returns to visit Wales from her current home in Brittany. Would you like to know about a Magic Apostrophe? Do you think a girl your age named Astarte Perkins might make a good friend? [JH]
- Born December 14, 1959 — Debbie Lee Carrington. Actress who was an ardent advocate for performers with disabilities. She was the performer inside the Howard the Duck costume, a Martian rebel named Thumbelina in Total Recall, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (and in the TV movies that followed, a Drone in Invaders from Mars, Little Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons, an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns and a Chucky double in Curse of Chucky. (Died 2018.) (CE)
- Born December 14, 1960 — Don Franklin, 60. He’s best known for his roles in seaQuest DSV as Commander Jonathan Ford, Seven Days as Captain Craig Donovan, and as one of The Young Riders as Noah Dixon). No, the last isn’t remotely genre but it was a great role. (CE)
- Born December 14, 1964 — Rebecca Gibney, 56. She was of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and was also in King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes mini-series. She also had one- offs in Time Trax, Farscape and The Lost World, all of which were produced either in Australia or New Zealand, convenient as she’s New Zealand born and resident. (CE)
- Born December 14, 1966 — Sarah Zettel, 54. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start. (CE)
- Born December 14, 1967 – Ewa Bialolecka, age 53. (The software won’t show some characters in her name; it should have a kreska ukosna “stroke” through each l – so they’re like English w – and an ogonek “little tail” on the e – so it’s nasal; the w is like English v, the c is like English ts.) Two novels, a dozen shorter stories. Two Zajdel Awards. Also stuffed creatures, stained glass, drawings, jewelry; see her at DeviantArt. [JH]
- Born December 14, 1979 – Samit Basu, age 41. A dozen novels, a few shorter stories; comics; film. Turbulence and sequel Resistance much applauded e.g. in Wired. Here is a 2017 interview. [JH]
- Born December 13, 1980 – Ma Boyong, age 40. A dozen novels; also a columnist and blogger. The First Emperor’s Games is about the first Emperor of China: what if he could play video games like Risk (yes, based on the board game) or Angry Birds? It, The City of Silence, and The Mark Twain Robots are available in English. People’s Literature Prize (2010). [JH]
(7) COMICS SECTION.
- Not Pulp Covers hosts an artist’s conception of an accident between Santa and a UFO.
(8) INDIE GONE WILD. This is the kind of thing I’d expect to see at Mad Genius Club.
(9) MAKER. Here is a Swede who built his own Warhammer space marine 2.7 meters tall – see the video at SVT Nyheter (and read about him if you know Swedish.)
He previously built a panzerbear from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials – video and a full report in Swedish here.
(10) ELIGIBILITY BUNDLE. When I checked this “Round-up of Awards Posts by F&SF Writers, Editors, and Publishers for 2020” there were almost 150 author links.
(11) EXOCOMPLEXO. Tickets are available for “Cool Worlds: The Search for Exoplanets Livestream” on December 18 hosted by the American Museum of Natural History.
Can rocky planets around small stars hold onto their atmospheres? Are super-Earths habitable?
Laura Kreidberg, exoplanet atmosphere specialist and director of the APEx Department at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, reviews the latest controversies and recent discoveries of exoplanet research.
Exoplanet detection may be old news—over 4,000 have been discovered to date—but the new frontier lies in unraveling the composition of exoplanet atmospheres, their number of moons, and whether they hold the potential for life. In this month’s Frontiers Lecture, investigate how researchers approach these questions and the scientific processes and evidence supporting their hypotheses.
(12) DAILY DISASTER. And at Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll’s equation is “More Planets, More Problems: The Pessimist’s Guide to Galactic Expansion”.
Suppose for the sake of argument the Kepler data is correct when it suggests there are as many as three hundred million (300,000,000!) potentially life-bearing worlds orbiting sunlike stars in our Milky Way. Suppose we win the jackpot and they are all Earthlike enough for us to occupy. Suppose further some grand unified polity spans the whole of the Milky Way, in the manner of Asimov’s Galactic Empire. Among the many implications is the fact that the Ministry of Oh Crap What Now would have to deal with rare natural events relatively frequently. No doubt stressful for our overworked functionaries, but a godsend for SF authors with an appetite for thrilling peril….
(13) AUNT MAN. Gizmodo’s James Whitbrook knows why they look familiar: “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: ABC’s Zelda and Hilda Return”.
Sabrina’s aunts are back! But…they’re not the aunts that this Sabrina is familiar with.
Netflix has just dropped a majorly tease-y clip from the upcoming final season of Chilling Adventures, in which Sabrina, unsure of just where she actually seems to be, finds herself meeting her “new” Aunts…except, well, they’re her old aunts.
(14) PSA. The Monster Movie Music blog has created another text-and-stills post from an old film: “DON’T BE AFRAID / Growing Up In the Early Fifties”.
Strangely enough, I found this one on Something Weird’s MONSTERS CRASH THE PAJAMA PARTY Spook Show Madness compilation DVD.
It’s about kids and their fears, and how to conquer them, a public service short produced by Encyclopedia Britannia Films that was probably shown to 4th graders back in the day….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. It’s from 2018, but Whitney Avalon’s Aladdin “Friend Like Me” Mary Poppins style is news to me.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, David Steffen, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Bill Higgins, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus inspired by Bill with an assist from OGH.]