Pixel Scroll 8/14/20 An Unexpected Afternoon Nap

(1) BIG MONEY IS WATCHING. NPR shows how “Fortnite Uses Apple’s Own ‘1984’ Ad Against It In Dispute Over Payments” — includes both videos for comparison.

Epic Games, the video game developer behind the mega popular online game Fortnite, just posted a video criticizing Apple for removing the game from its App Store. Using imagery directly referencing Apple’s own iconic “1984” ad, Epic Games’s video (titled “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”) positions Apple as a soulless corporate entity, shouting from a screen and demanding obedience from a black and white crowd. That is, until a woman in color shows up, and throws a Fortnite axe at the screen and shatters it. The following copy reads, “Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming ‘1984.’”

Epic Games (also being a corporate entity themselves) is making this charge over money. The company introduced a direct payment option within Fortnite to bypass Apple’s 30% fee on in-app purchases. In retaliation, Apple pulled the popular game from its app store. Epic Games responded with both this video, as well as an antitrust lawsuit, alleging that Apple takes anti-competitive actions in order to “unlawfully maintain its monopoly.”

In a statement to The Verge, Apple said that Epic had benefited from the App Store’s ecosystem for years.

“The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users.”

It’s unclear, really, what George Orwell has to do with any of this.

(2) SFF LIMERICKS SOUGHT. Fantasy Literature has opened their “Ninth Annual Speculative Fiction Limerick Contest”.

Your task is to create an original limerick that has something to do with speculative fiction. It could be about a character, a series, an author, or whatever fits the theme. Here are the rules for creating a good limerick (quoting from this source). 

…The author of the limerick we like best wins a book from our stacks or a FanLit T-shirt (sizes avail are S – XL). If you live outside the US, we’ll send a $7 Amazon gift card.

(3) FANS IN THE NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Abha Bhattarai has an article on the online Washington Post titled “Grocery workers say morale is at an all-time low: ‘They don’t even treat us like humans anymore’” in which the title quote comes from Fox Wingate, a 24-year-old who works at Safeway.

I have known Fox since he was a baby.  His parents, Charles Wingate and Melissa Williamson, are long-time members of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society and hosted meetings three times a year until the pandemic.

“At the beginning they valorized what was deemed a dead-end job, but four months later they don’t even treat us like humans anymore,” said Fox Wingate, 24, who works at a Safeway in Maryland.

(4) NEW ZEALAND PUMPS THE BRAKES. Variety explores “What New Zealand’s COVID-19 Curveball Means For Its Booming Hollywood Productions”.

…“Everyone was very gung-ho,” adds the film’s production designer Grant Major of his first day back on set. “We all loved the film, actors and director, so were pumped to get going and do the best job we could.”

That can-do attitude is what will likely tide the industry over despite Tuesday’s late-night announcement that the country will enter a three-day lockdown, which went into effect at midday Wednesday local time. The measures came after Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern confirmed four members of an Auckland family tested positive for COVID-19, acquiring the virus from an unknown source. The cases ended the nation’s 102-day streak of having no new community infections (cases have been limited to the strictly-quarantined border).

While New Zealand dropped to level one — the lowest of a four-level alert system — on June 8, the Auckland region is now on level three restrictions until Friday, meaning residents are asked to work from home, only interact with people in their household “bubble,” and practice social distancing and mask-wearing in public. Filming can continue if strict health and safety protocols are followed.

Several international productions were in pre-production in Auckland at the time of the announcement, including “LOTR,” Robert Downey Jr.’s “Sweet Tooth,” anime adaptation “Cowboy Bebop” and “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” directed by Peter Farrelly. The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) tells Variety that the Auckland projects are now continuing with pre-production, but working from home.

The remainder of the country — including Wellington, where the “Avatar” sequels are filming — has been placed in level two, which encourages mask-wearing and social distancing and allows social gatherings of up to 100 people. Large-scale productions such as “Avatar” can continue under level two screen production rules, such as physical distancing among crew and following recommendations for scenes involving intimacy or fighting….

(5) CHANGES ON THE WAY. “Avatar 2 Will Change Movies Forever” on YouTube is a video from ScreenRant that explains one reason why Avatar 2 is taking so long is that James Cameron is working on a way of shooting motion-capture scenes underwater and may also be coming up with a way to see 3D effects without special glasses.

(6) DEFINING SF. Adam Roberts, in “How I Define Science Fiction” on Neotext says that he defines science fiction by showing the bone and a spaceship from 2001 and that much of the sense of wonder from sf can’t be rationally explained in a definition. However, he also supplies the thousand words that a picture is reputed to be worth. Because, as someone said, “This f***ing job is not that f***ing easy!”   

In those occasions when people ask me to define science fiction, I reference the above. Probably the most famous jump-cut in cinema. You already know the context, so I don’t need to spell it out for you: millions of years BC, an apeman throws a bone into the sky. It flies upward. The camera pans with it, following it a little shakily into the blue sky. The bone reaches its apogee and, just as it starts to fall back down, Kubrick cuts to a shot of a spaceship in orbit in AD 2001.

Now, this seems to me an extremely beautiful and affecting thing, a moment both powerful and eloquent even though I’m not sure I could lay out, in consecutive and rational prose, precisely why I find it so powerful or precisely what it loquates. It is, I suppose, something ‘about’ technology, about the way humans use tools, our habit of intrusively (indeed, violently) interacting with our environments, about the splendor but also the limitation of such tools, the way even a spaceship is, at its core, a primitive sort of human prosthesis. But when you start explaining the cut in those terms you become conscious that you are losing something, missing some key aspect to what makes it work so well.

It works, in other words, not by a process of rational extrapolation, but rather metaphorically. I mean something particular when I say that, and I explain what I mean in detail below; but for now, and to be clear—I’m suggesting this moment actualizes the vertical ‘leap’ from the known to the unexpected that is the structure of metaphor, rather than the horizontal connection from element to logically extrapolated element that is the structure of metonymy. Kubrick’s cut is more like a poetic image than a scientific proposition;——and there you have it, in a nutshell, my definition of science fiction. This genre I love is more like a poetic image than it is a scientific proposition.

Now, if my interlocutor needs more, and if the picture doesn’t make my point, I might add something Samuel Delany-ish: about how science fiction is a fundamentally metaphorical literature because it sets out to represent the world without reproducing it….

(7) RICHARD POWERS SET TO MUSIC. Tomorrow night: “Scott Robinson with Richard Powers: Sat 8/15 at Me, Myself & Eye”.

This Saturday August 15 at 8 PM, multi-instrumentalist phenomenon Scott Robinson will be improvising music to the work of one of his heroes, Richard Powers, whose work graces the covers of all of Scott’s ScienSonic Laboratories releases (which can be seen at www.sciensonic.net). Scott will be sharing from his personal collection of Powers’ work, along with other pieces — some unpublished. These paintings are shown with the kind permission of the artist’s estate. In a nod to the series’ name, for this performance Scott has chosen only works containing an eye!

(8) GOOD THING OR BAD? It’ll be inexpensive, anyway: “AMC to offer 15-cent tickets on first day of reopening”AP News has the story.

AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, will reopen in the U.S. on Aug. 20 with retro ticket prices of 15 cents per movie.

AMC Entertainment, which owns the chain, said Thursday that it expects to open the doors to more than 100 cinemas — or about a sixth of its nationwide locations — on Aug. 20 with throwback pricing for a day.

AMC theaters have reopened in numerous international countries but have remained shuttered in the U.S. since March. The chain touted the reopening as “Movies in 2020 at 1920 Prices.”

After several false starts due to a summer rise in coronavirus cases throughout much of the U.S., widespread moviegoing is currently set to resume in late August. Regal Cinemas, the second largest chain, is to reopen some U.S. locations on Aug. 21.

During its opening-day promotion, AMC will show catalog films, including “Ghostbusters,” “Black Panther,” “Back to the Future” and “Grease.” Those older films will continue to play afterward for $5.

AMC confirmed that Disney’s much-delayed “New Mutants” will debut in theaters Aug. 28, with Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” to follow Sept. 3. Warner Bros. is planning to release “Tenet” a week earlier internationally, including in Canada. A handful of smaller new releases are also planned for late August, including “Unhinged,” a thriller from Solstice Studios with Russell Crowe; and Armando Iannucci’s “Personal History of David Copperfield,” from Disney’s Fox Searchlight.

AMC said Thursday is expects about two thirds of its theaters will be open in time for “Tenet.” Several states, including California and New York, are yet to allow movie theaters to reopen.

(9) A SHORT HISTORY WITHOUT TIME. Elisa Gabbert, author of The Unreality of Memory and Other Essays, interrogates “The Unreality of Time” in The Paris Review.

…[John] McTaggart does not use “unreality” in the same way I do, to describe a quality of seeming unrealness in some­thing I assume to be real. Instead, his paper sets out to prove that time literally does not exist. “I believe that time is unreal,” he writes. The paper is interesting (“Time only belongs to the existent” … “The only way in which time can be real is by existing”) but not convincing.

McTaggart’s argument hinges in part on his claim that perception is “qualitatively different” from either memory or anticipation—this is the difference between past, pres­ent, and future, the way we apprehend events in time. Direct perceptions are those that fall within the “specious present,” a term coined by E.?R. Clay and further devel­oped by William James (a fan of Bergson’s). “Everything is observed in a specious present,” McTaggart writes, “but nothing, not even the observations themselves, can ever be in a specious present.” It’s illusory—the events are fixed, and there is nothing magically different about “the pres­ent” as a point on a timeline. This leads to an irresolvable contradiction, to his mind.

Bergson, for his part, believed that memory and percep­tion were the same, that they occur simultaneously: “The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devour­ing the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.” He thought this explained the phenomenon of déjà vu—when you feel something is happening that you’ve experi­enced before, it’s because a glitch has allowed you to notice the memory forming in real time. The memory—le souvenir du présent—is attached not to a particular moment in the past but to the past in general. It has a past-­like feeling; with that comes an impression one knows the future.

(10) LET THE RECORD REFLECT. This typo is from the Loncon 3 (2014 Worldcon) Souvenir Book.

Nobody’s copyediting (outside of File 770’s own) has ever challenged the record left by the ConDiego NASFiC of 1990. Neither a fine speech by pro GoH Samuel Delany, an excellent Masquerade, a well-stocked Dealer’s Room, a top-quality Press Relations department, nor a successful Regency Dance, could divert the avalanche of sentiment which quickly made ConDiego a byword for haphazard convention-running. Not after fans were handed a typo-riddled Program Book which misspelled the hotel’s name, the guests of honors’ names and even the con’s own name – that in headline type: ConDigeo.

(11) BOOK ANNIVERSARY.

  • August 1998 — Delia Sherman and Terri Windling released The Essential Bordertown anthology. (The first one, Elsewhere, would garner a World Fantasy Award.)  A follow-up on the three earlier Borderlands anthologies, it featured such writers as Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Terri Windling doing a Rough Guide of sorts to Bordertown along stories from the likes of Patrica McKillip, Micole Sudbeg, Ellen Steiber , Felicity Savage and Charles de Lint. It would be successful enough that Welcome to Bordertown would come a decade later though the publisher would shift from Tor to Random House. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 14, 1929 Richard Carpenter. Responsible for the simply superb Robin of Sherwood series. He also created Catweazle, the children’s series about an unfortunate wizard from the 11th century who is accidentally transported to the present day. And he was an actor who appeared in such shows as the Sixties Sherlock Holmes series, The Terrornauts film and the Out of the Unknown series as well. (Died 2012.) (CE)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin, 80. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis. (CE) 
  • Born August 14, 1932 – Lee Hoffman.  Among our finest fanwriters, and a fanartist who showed with her “lil peepul” that in fandom too – although I never asked her about Buckminster Fuller – one can do more with less.  Had she only done her fanzine Quandry (note spelling; she was also responsible for the famous typo poctsarcd) it would, as the saying goes, have been enough for us.  She also brought forth Science Fiction Five-Yearly, published on time for sixty years, in whose last issue I was proud to be, and on the back cover, even.  Also four novels for us, a dozen shorter stories; among much else a superb Western The Valdez Horses, winning a Spur Award.  At first she appeared only by mail; after we eventually learned she was not male, she was sometimes known as Lee Hoffwoman.  Fan Guest of Honor at Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born August 14, 1940 – Meade Frierson III.  President, Southern Fandom Confederation 1970-1983.  SF on Radio.  Active in Myriad and SFPA (Southern Fandom Press Alliance).  Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon IV, Balticon 11, Coastcon 1978 (with wife Penny).  Rebel Award.  (Died 2001) [JH]
  • Born August 13, 1949 – Pat York.  A dozen short stories.  “Moonfuture Incorporated” in the teachers’ guide Explorer (J. Czerneda ed. 2005); “You Wandered Off Like a Foolish Child to Break Your Heart and Mine” in the Nebula Awards Showcase 2002.  Poem “A Faerie’s Tale” in the 1998 Rhysling Anthology.  Cory Doctorow’s appreciation here.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 70. Ok, setting aside long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB notes a SF link  that deserve noting. In the March 1991 Warp as published by the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, he had a cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor”. (CE)
  • Born August 14, 1962 – Tim Earls, 58.  Set and concept designer, visual effects art director, for Babylon 5 and Crusade; then VoyagerMission Impossible IIISerenity.  An Earth Alliance Olympus Class Corvette (B5here.  Design for the Borg Central Plexus in “Unimatrix Zero” (Voyagerhere.  Some Serenity sketches here.  IMDb (Internet Movie Database) bio here.  [JH]
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga, 55. Writer, producer and creator for the Next GenVoyagerEnterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes than anyone else with one hundred and nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Hugo Award at Intersection for excellence in SF writing, along with Ronald D. Moore. (CE)
  • Born August 14, 1966 Halle Berry, 54. Her first genre role was not as I thought Miss Stone in The Flintstones but a minor role in a forgotten SF series called They Came from Outer Space. This was followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchiseand Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as the lead in Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas. (CE)
  • Born August 14, 1973 Jamie Sives, 47. First, he played Captain Reynolds in a Tenth Doctor story, “Tooth and Claw” where the Doctor encounters Queen Victoria and saves her from a werewolf. Great tale! Second, he had a recurring role as Jory Cassel on A Games of Thrones. His fate like so many there is tragic. And third, he was was Valhalla Rising which is a decidedly oddDanish financed Viking magic realism film. (CE) 
  • Born August 14, 1974 – Raphael Lacoste, 46.  A score of covers, half a dozen interiors; games, films.  Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed for Ubisoft.  Here is The Windup Girl.  Here is Shadow Run.  Here is “Nanthis City”.  Here is “Wind Towers”.  Artbooks WorldsLignes.  Two VES (Visual Effects Society) Awards.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 14, 1981 – Karen Healey, 39.  Five novels, as many shorter stories; ten essays in Strange Horizons.  “I wanted to be an astronaut, or possibly a dinosaur-hunting cowgirl…. I was a bit vague on the concept of extinction….  we moved to Oamaru, where my mother’s family has lived for five generations … good for white people in New Zealand … ridiculous in comparison to one’s family being there for a thousand years….  I had this vague idea of becoming a lawyer…. it turned out being a lawyer is not a lot of fun arguing with people and shouting OBJECTION but a lot of boring and distressing paperwork….  applied to the JET [Japan Exchange & Teaching] Programme (even though I had failed second-year Japanese) and went to Japan to teach English for two years…. currently training to be a high school teacher… and, of course, being a novelist.”  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) MAYBE THE MAP IS THE TERRITORY AFTER ALL.  In The Paris Review, Ivan Brunetti considers “Comics as Place”.

Most comics focus on the actions of a figure, and the narrative develops by following that figure as it moves through its environment, or as it is commonly referred to by cartoonists, who have the often tedious, time-consuming task of actually drawing it, the background. One widely used cartoonist’s trick is to draw/establish the setting clearly and then assiduously avoid having to redraw it in subsequent panels, or at least diminish the number of background details as the sequence progresses. After all, once this setting/background has seeped into the reader’s brain, the reader can and will fill in the gaps. Moreover, sometimes drawing the background would only clutter the composition and distract the reader from the emotional core of the narrative, and so the background might judiciously disappear altogether, having outlived its graphic usefulness, until the next shift in scene.

Robert Crumb’s 1979 “A Short History of America” upends all of the above. It is a small miracle of concision and grace, consisting of a mere twelve panels that span across four pages (of three horizontal panels each) and roughly a hundred and fifty years of history….

(15) FIGHTING FOR WHO YOU LOVE. In the Washington Post, Helena Andrews-Dyer interviews Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors, who explains how he interpreted the series’ heroic lead and discusses his other work in The Last Black Man In San Francisco and Da 5 Bloods. “Jonathan Majors is your new American hero”.

The hero’s journey is a circuitous one. After setting out into the great unknown, battling monsters and men, our protagonist inevitably winds up at Point A again, ready to slay whatever Big Bad sent them packing in the first place.

That’s a familiar road for Jonathan Majors, the 30-year-old actor who’s quickly becoming that guy — the one you can’t stop seeing in .?.?. well, everything.He started acting because of a fight in middle school; he had a bunch of big emotions and a blocked vent. Now, a decade and a half later, in his first leading role, Majors is playing the kind of hero his younger self (and the boys he used to “cut up with”) could’ve used. Someone who’s learned how to harness his hard-earned rage for good.

(16) ON FIYAH. Stephanie Alford’s “REVIEW: FIYAH LIT MAGAZINE #13 – OZZIE M. GARTRELL” is short, but more than enough to mak you want to read the story.

In 7,900 words Ozzie M. Gartrell’s The Transition of  OSOOSI  gives us a cyberpunk story of an audacious idea to eradicate bigotry.

(17) HEADS WILL ROLL. Camestros Felapton makes it to the finish line — “I finished the Wolf Hall trilogy” – and shares an insightful review.

…The Tudor period looms large in English national mythology of greatness and Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I are two of the most fictionalised and dramatised British monarchs (Queen Victoria being the third but Elizabeth II is getting higher in the charts I’d imagine). Although I often read Booker prize winners, when Wolf Hall won I was originally uninterested. Another book about Henry and Anne Boleyn? Is there seriously anything new to say about all that? Turns out there was a lot of new things to say about it, and by employing a story people know at least in sketch form, Mantel could focus on an aspect that makes the Tudor period fascinating.

(18) SUPERVERSIVE WAKES. The Superversive SF blog will become active again, led by columnists L. Jagi Lamplighter-Wright and John C. Wright.

It has been some time since we have had regular posts on this site, but, God willing, that is all about to change!

In the coming months, we hope to have more posts about Superversive Matters, but we also hope to unveil two new regular columns. I will announce the second column separately, but, before we can begin, the first column needs a name!

The column is to be stories, observations, and insights about the meeting of life and our genres—writing with children; writing with cats (a whole subject in itself!); sharing your favorite books, shows, and movies with offspring, parents, friends; and other stories of the intersection of reality and fantasy (or science fiction.)

The purpose is to share light and fun stories, as well as poignant or bittersweet ones, about our life and experience as readers and writers of science fiction and fantasy—stories that remind us of our shared experience as human beings as well as our joy in the wonder of our wonderful genre.

The Superversive Press shut down in January (item 13). Since then the blog has mainly been signal boosting authors’ buy-my-book posts.

(19) PALS WHO BITE. NPR learned “Everyone Needs A Buddy. Even Sharks”.

Sharks are often maligned as Hollywood monsters, the lone wolves lurking in the deep, hunting for prey. (Cue Jaws theme song).

But that caricature of sharks is increasingly out of step with what scientists are learning about the animals. Instead, they say, some species of sharks are social creatures who return day after day to a group of the same fellow sharks.

“They form these spatially structured social groups where they hang out with the same individuals over multiple years,” says Yannis Papastamatiou, who runs the Predator Ecology and Conservation Lab at Florida International University.

Papastamatiou’s team studied gray reef sharks populating the waters off Palmyra Atoll, a sunken island ringed by coral reefs, in the central Pacific Ocean between the Hawaiian Islands and Fiji. They attached small location transmitters to 41 sharks, which allowed them to track the animals’ movements around the reef. They also outfitted two sharks with small video cameras on their fins, to get what Papastamatiou calls a shark’s-eye view of their daily lives.

After tracking the sharks for four years, the researchers found that the same groupings of sharks — ranging from a couple up to as many as 20 — frequently returned to the same parts of the reef over and over again. They also found that some of the groups stuck together for the duration of the study — longer than previous studies have observed.

(20) HEY, THAT’S A FALSE COLOR! NASA believes the Red Planet is really quite green when considered in the proper light: “NASA’s MAVEN Observes Martian Night Sky Pulsing in Ultraviolet Light”.

Mars’ nightside atmosphere glows and pulsates in this data animation from MAVEN spacecraft observations. Green-to-white false color shows the enhanced brightenings on Mars’ ultraviolet “nightglow” measured by MAVEN’s Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph at about 70 kilometers (approximately 40 miles) altitude. A simulated view of the Mars globe is added digitally for context, with ice caps visible at the poles. Three nightglow brightenings occur over one Mars rotation, the first much brighter than the other two. All three brightenings occur shortly after sunset, appearing on the left of this view of the night side of the planet. The pulsations are caused by downwards winds which enhance the chemical reaction creating nitric oxide which causes the glow. Months of data were averaged to identify these patterns, indicating they repeat nightly.

(21) IT’S NOT JUST THE PANDEMIC. The Critic sadly anticipates “The demise of the second-hand bookshop” for several reasons.

In 1973, Graham Greene wrote an introduction to a bookselling friend’s memoir. As Greene was one of the most respected writers of his day, this was no small gesture, but the author was also a committed bibliophile. The book dealer and biographer John Baxter’s memoir A Pound of Paper contains treasurable glimpses of Greene deliberately signing obscure copies of his works in far-off locations, in the certain knowledge that these items would become hugely sought-after rarities, and he remains one of the few serious literary figures who also understood the glamour and romance of the bookselling trade. In his introduction, he openly acknowledged this, writing ‘Secondhand booksellers are the most friendly and most eccentric of all the characters I have known. If I had not been a writer, theirs would have been the profession I would most happily have chosen.’

If Greene was alive today, he would look at his beloved second-hand and antiquarian bookshops with an air of sorrow, leavened with a touch of bewilderment. The recent news that one of Charing Cross’s most famous booksellers, Francis Edwards, was to close after 150 years, maintaining only a presence in Hay-on-Wye, was greeted without the anguish that it might have been otherwise….

(22) MOTHRA CHOW. “First-Ever Godzilla Museum Now Open In Japan”ScreenRant checked out everything, including the thematic food.

The first museum dedicated to Godzilla is open in Japan for a limited time. TOHO launched its official English Godzilla website back in May 2019, complete with a “Monsterpedia” for the kaiju’s friends and foes. One can never overstate the pop culture impact of the Godzilla series. Although the King of the Monsters wasn’t the first giant monster on the big screen, he would headline a long-running franchise, the longest of any movie series to date.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is how the character changed over time. He went from being a grim allegory for the nuclear bomb to a Japan-saving hero, not unlike Ultraman. As a franchise, Godzilla has ventured into multimedia. He has battled the Avengers in a Marvel comic and even received his own version of Jenga. For a limited time, fans can enjoy the franchise in a museum format.

(23) MEET THE PARENTS OF THE YEAR.

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Points for sneaking Newton’s third law in there.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Cliff, John Hertz, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credt goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Tradition! Tradition! NYRSF Readings’ Annual Family Night Again Features Kushner & Sherman

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Monday, December 12, 2016, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series continued its tradition of celebrating the December Holidays Season with “Family Night,” featuring one of its favorite families, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (in their eighth, by my count, December appearance). Also traditional was the December guest host. (Her anonymity here is due to her outside professional concerns.)

The event, held at the Series’ venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café (in the outskirts of Downtown Brooklyn – dare we call it “Bordertown?”), opened with a welcome from its Executive Curator, Jim Freund, who is otherwise the longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (the show broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 a.m.) He cautioned the gathering that the readings were being Livestreamed (this later surprised Kushner, who’d expected only to be “seen” on radio), and thanked those who had donated (the readings are nominally free, with a suggested donation of $7) as they help the Series continue (there is a rental fee for the space).

Moving into 2017, upcoming readers will be:

  • Tuesday, January 10th, Phenderson Djeli Clark and Shan Chakraborty, with guest curator Rob Cameron (who was running the cameras and whose nom de video-wiz is Cam Rob);
  • Friday, February 10th, James Morrow and Jack Womack;
  • Tuesday, March 7th, we’ll all be getting Older, siblings Malka Older and (the elder Older) Daniel José Older (also getting older, these jokes; guest curator Amy Goldschlager had earlier called it Family Night II);
  • Saturday, April 1st (despite the date, not an April Fool’s joke), the Series will host a 75th birthday gathering for Samuel R. (Chip) Delany
  • May 2nd, Goldschlager returns as host for an evening with the Serial Box podcasters (Max Gladstone, et al.).

Family Night came about, said the evening’s guest host, because December is traditionally a family time; since then, the theme has grown from the readers to encompass the audience regulars, who have become a family of sorts (Kushner soon after referred to “the NYRSF Holiday Reading family”), and stated that it was “an honor to be part of it.”  Tonight’s readers, she concluded, were “a very special pair of writers, spouses and people,” and introduced the first reader.

delia-sherman

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman is the author of, among other works, the Prometheus and Andre Norton Award-winning The Freedom Maze, The Evil Wizard Smallbone and The Fall of the Kings (written with Kushner). Prefacing her reading, she promised a selection that wouldn’t “bring blushes to young cheeks.”  (Ellen’s offering, however, “will bring blushes to many cheeks.”) With that caveat, she read from Chapter 2 of The Evil Wizard Smallbone. On a cold December night in Maine, Nick, a runaway lost in the woods, stumbles into the Victorian mansion of the titular evil wizard – it even says “Evil Wizard” on his business card, and moreover he is the proprietor of Evil Wizard Books. Smallbone declares that Nick (whom he calls Foxkin) is his apprentice and promptly puts him to work around his house, farm and shop. The boy finds it magically impossible to run off, and, when he talks back, discovers to his dismay that he has, it seems, spent most of a week (and missed Christmas) turned into a spider. The evil wizard’s brusqueness was a source of much humor.

During the intermission, a raffle was held (for those who’d donated), with the prizes being a “rare” set of press-on tattoos from the online serial program Tremontaine (pronounced, we learned, “Trem-on-ten,” not “-taine”), a “Live, Laugh and Love” mug, and the copy of The Evil Wizard Smallbone from which Sherman had just read; all raffle winners also received a pencil commemorating Ellen’s and Delia’s 20th anniversary. (That the tickets drawn were consecutive, and one winner was the guest curator, might have prompted cries of “rigged” from someone who shall not be named.)

ellen-kushner

Ellen Kushner

The second reader of the evening, Ellen Kushner, is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning Thomas the Rhymer, the children’s book The Golden Dreydl (adapted by her) as The Klezmer Nutcracker), and the much-loved novels and related short stories in the Riverside series, which has been called a “fantasy of manners” and “mannerpunk,” alternating wit, intrigue, sex, swordplay and chocolate. Swordspoint (an audiobook of which won an Audie Award) introduced readers to the setting, and was visited again in The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of the Kings (written with Sherman), and an online collaborative prequel to Swordspoint, called Tremontaine, with the e-publisher Serial Box (SerialBox.com; season two premiered this past October). In addition, Kushner co-edited (with Holly Black) Welcome to Bordertown, a revival of the original urban fantasy shared world series created by Terri Windling.

The story from which she read, “When I was a Highwayman,” is brand new and slated to appear in The Book of Swords, edited by Gardner Dozois. Set in Riverside, 4-5 years before Swordspoint and 12 years after Tremontaine, it is a standalone that she hoped is comprehensible to non-readers of the Riverside series. (The series is not written in order, and Kushner has gone back to prequels and sequels to fill in and expand on incidents; at times this may be limiting.) Here the young swordsman-for-hire Richard St. Vier (who serves as narrator) is in partnership with the grifter Jessamyn. When work for them dries up – she’s recovering from a terminated pregnancy and the nobles for whom he performs in demonstration bouts of swordplay or as a bodyguard at weddings are in the country for the summer – and they’re running out of things to pawn or sell, he’s talked into accompanying two lowlife acquaintances as they waylay traveling nobles. (His sword is to be the incentive to “stand and deliver.”) Unfortunately, he foregoes a mask and their very first robbery victim turns out to be a young nobleman with whom he’s quite intimately acquainted. Laughter was frequent and out loud (I’m uncertain about occurrences of cheeks blushing).

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, while at another table, books by Sherman and Kushner were for sale and autograph.

The capacity crowd of about 60 included Melissa C. Beckman, Richard Bowes, Rob Cameron (running tech), Randee Dawn (whose Christmas lights skirt was appropriate as well for the Festival of Lights), Amy Goldschlager, Lynn Cohen Koehler, Barbara Krasnoff (managing the door), Josh Kronengold, Lisa Padol, James Ryan, Terence Taylor, Gay Terry, Leah Withers and Claire Wolf Smith. Afterward, people milled around, socialized and grabbed a bite at the Café.

Fantastic Fiction at the KGB Bar Opens the Year With Readings by Delia Sherman and Ilana C. Meyer

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Wednesday, January 20, the Fantastic Fiction Readings Series hosted readings by authors Delia Sherman and Ilana C. Myer in the Red Room of the KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village. The room, up a steep set of stairs to the 2nd floor, filled up quickly.

The Series, co-hosted by Mathew Kressel (author of King of Shards) and award-winning editor Ellen Datlow, has, for over a decade, on the third Wednesday of the month, presented readings (always free) both by established science fiction and fantasy writers and by new voices in the genre.

After flitting around photographing the crowd (the photos are posted here), Ellen welcomed the audience, then sadly reported the news that Tor senior editor David Hartwell had fallen the day before, suffering massive head injuries and a brain hemorrhage from which he was not expected to recover. (Soon after, he did pass.) This month’s readings are dedicated to him, she said. She then announced upcoming readings in the Series: On February 17, the readers will be Carola Dibbell and Gemma Files; on March 16, Rio Youers and David Nickle; and on April 20, Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch. She then introduced the first reader of the evening.

Ilana C. Myer is the author of the just-published Last Song Before Night, an epic fantasy about poets and dark enchantments. She read from the still-in-progress sequel to her debut novel, tentatively titled Fire Dance. In the scene offered, Ned (Lord Alterra), a court poet, has come to a neighboring kingdom to investigate dark magic. An audience with the queen leads to an assignation where they play “the game of kings” – no, not that, chess. (He’s surprised too.) Unfortunately, while it was engaging, her selection was brief and did not allow us a sense of who the main character was or a glimpse of the story’s larger plot.

After a break, Matt thanked the Bar, and urged the crowd to support it (there’s no cover charge, he reminded) by buying drinks, even soft drinks, then introduced the evening’s concluding reader.

Delia Sherman is the author – or “the cause” – of numerous short stories and novels, including the Norton Award-winning The Freedom Maze and the upcoming novel, The Evil Wizard Smallbone (from which I heard her read at December’s NY Review of SF reading).  She entertained us with an excerpt from her novella “The Great Detective,” which is coming out from Tor.com in February, reading “with a Welsh accent, where warranted.” “The game is afoot” in a foggy, steampunk London, as Welsh baronet and inventor Sir Arthur Cwmlech, accompanied by his apprentice Tacy Gof and Angharad Cwmlech, a literal “ghost in the machine” (an English Civil War era spirit inhabiting an automaton), consults Mycroft Holmes about the theft of his “illogic engine,” which would imbue mechanicals with more humanlike qualities. Holmes has his own automaton, a “reasoning machine” that resembles him closely enough “almost” to be his younger brother, though, of course, is thinner. (We know his methods.)

At the back of the room, copies of Last Song Before Night and books by Sherman were for sale by the Word bookstore of Brooklyn and (this is new) Jersey City. Much of the audience hung around for a while afterward, then headed out for dinner.

NYRSF Readings Annual Family Night Features Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, and a Menorah

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, December 8 the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series continued its tradition of celebrating the December Holidays Season with “Family Night,” featuring one of its favorite families, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (for their seventh December happening).

On the Series’ Facebook page, in response to a query, producer/executive curator Jim Freund explained what makes it Family Night.  “Delia and Ellen are family to each other – a married couple. Also virtual family to so many of us at the Reading Series and the sf community.  And further the fiction is family-friendly – no disclaimers necessary for sensitive ears.” Also in keeping with custom, their reading was guest-hosted once more by the Reading Series’ third curator (1994-96; longtime attendees know who), its “Jon Pertwee,” as it were.  (Her anonymity here is due to her outside professional concerns.

The festive event, held at the Series’ current venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café (in Downtownish Brooklyn and “located near more public transportation than Times Square”), kicked off as usual with a welcome from Jim Freund, who is otherwise the longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (the show broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 am and worldwide at wbai.org, and for a time afterwards may be heard on-demand as well as an RSS feed for podcasts) and Podcast Editor and Host for the Hugo Award-winning Lightspeed Magazine.  The Kickstarter campaign to fund the Series, he reported, has not yet gotten under way (stand by, as broadcasters say), and he relayed news of the recent death of his WBAI colleague Simon Loekle (who had participated in the Series, including a memorably chilling rendition of Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” – and yes, the “l” is pronounced).

Continuing, he trumpeted upcoming readings in the Series’ 25th season: on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 the readers will be Terence Taylor (sf/fantasy writer as well as the Series’ video producer – and no, he won’t run an extension cord from the booth – Freund will handle the equipment) and Maria Dahvana Headley; and on Groundhog Day (Tuesday, 2 February), Barbara Krasnoff and Richard Bowes. Jumping ahead, April’s event will be a launch for Clockwork Phoenix 5, and May’s a play by Andrea Hairston.  Finally, Jim invited the audience to grab dinner during the intermission or after the readings at the Café, which has added hot items to its menu, then turned hosting duties over to the guest-curator (this place was, she declared, the Series’ “nicest home venue”), who introduced the evening’s first reader.

In Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner introduced readers to the much-honored and much-loved Riverside series, which has been called a “fantasy of manners” and “mannerpunk,” alternating wit, intrigue, swordplay and chocolate. The audiobook, which she narrated, won both an Audie and Audiofile Earphones Award, but, she confessed, she felt a bit odd reading, having heard professionals perform her work. She did, though, have to invent an accent for one character, then coach one actor in it.  (Later, in conversation, she revealed how instead of attempting an accent during this reading, she achieved the effect with syntax, intonation and consonant emphasis.)

Tremontaine, from which she read selections of its first chapter, “Arrivals,” is a prequel to Swordspoint, set some 15 years earlier.  One “arrival” is literal, discussion between the Duke and Duchess Tremontaine about the birth of the baby who will be the future Alec Campion, the Mad Duke Tremontaine. Another is farmgirl Micah, who, on family advice, has cut her hair and is passing as a boy, and has, we see, hidden talents as a geometer.  A third viewpoint character, Ixkaab Balam (aka Kaab), a trader, has just come to Riverside, a place full of thieves, “very bad women,” swordsmen, and poor people who like a bit of flash and dazzle (and singing – Ellen sang a few bars of a woman’s song), and almost immediately challenges a local who has insulted her people, her mother and her outfit.  (The reading was inadvertently enlivened further by Kushner’s pages getting dropped and scattered.)

In a Q&A, Kushner clarified that Tremontaine was a 13-weekly episode (in the current season) serial released Wednesday mornings (the seventh ran the next day) in text and audio (she recommended getting both) from SerialBox.com.  (The serial would not break for Christmas or New Year’s, leading Ellen to proclaim that it was a perfect escape from dull holiday family gatherings – “Tremontaine is even more fucked-up than your family.”)  Chapter 1 is available online for free, the rest cost money.  Episodes have been written also by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese (who was present) and Patty Bryant.  Freund noted that Riverside has always been sort of a shared universe; The Fall of the Kings was written with Delia Sherman.  Well, said Kushner, it’s not wide-open, but “curated,” a collaborative serial.  She also noted that her dress and the host’s were based on the Riverside cityscape, the latter a design by Kathleen Jennings.

During the intermission, a raffle was held for a bottle of the exceedingly rare Tremontaine Pale Ale (shhh, another label had been soaked off and replaced by one with one of Jennings’ cover designs), a copy of Kushner’s The Golden Dreydl, a Jewish take on The Nutcracker (appropriate as it was Chanukah), and an inscribed (and kissed) copy of the manuscript from which Delia Sherman would be reading. In a true Chanukah miracle (topping that extra-burning oil), I won the third prize.  Then, speaking of which, as it was the third night of the Festival of Lights, Ellen presided over the ceremonial lighting of a Chanukah menorah (three candles plus the “servant” candle) and a brief blessing.  The host then introduced the second reader of the evening.

Delia Sherman is the author of, among other works, the Prometheus and Andre Norton Award-winning The Freedom Maze (from which she has read at previous NYRSF Readings), a time-travel historical set in antebellum Louisiana.  This time she read excerpts from Chapters 3-5 of The Evil Wizard Smallbone (which, she announced to the crowd’s disappointment, won’t be out until November 2016), appropriately (and giving equal time to the other December holiday) scenes set at Christmas.  We are first introduced to the eponymous 300-year-old proprietor of Evil Wizard Books and founder of the idyllic (at least on the surface), coastal town of Smallbone Cove in adults’ (“Covers”) uncomfortable answers to a young girl’s awkward questions about Zachariah Smallbone’s evil and magic.  Then we meet the (evil) wizard as he puts a boy, Nick, a runaway who had sought refuge, to work around his house and shop.  Nick (whom Smallbone calls Foxkin), having spent part of a week (and missing Christmas) turned into a spider (he’s better now), and finding it magically impossible to run off, undertakes a succession of chores.  (Is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in his future?)

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, while at an adjoining table, books by Sherman and Kushner were for sale and autograph.  The capacity crowd of about 65 included Melissa C. Beckman, Richard Bowes, Chris Claremont, Randee Dawn, Beth Fleisher,  Barbara Krasnoff, Josh Kronengold, John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Gordon Linzner, Racheline Maltese, Lisa Padol, Max Schmid, Terence Taylor, Leah Withers, and, of course, Claire Wolf Smith.  Afterward, people milled around, socialized and grabbed a bite.

[See photos from the event in a public post on Ellen Kushner’s Facebook page.]

2015 Audie Award Finalists

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) has announced the 2015 Audie Awards finalists. The Audies are given in 30 categories for spoken word entertainment.

Here follow the genre category finalists, and other categories containing names of interest to genre fans.

AUDIO DRAMA

  • Anne Manx and the Blood Chase; by Larry Weiner; Narrated by Claudia Christian, Moira Kelly, Patricia Tallman, with full cast; RRCA
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles; by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adapted by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright; Narrated by Geoffrey Arend, Wilson Bethel, Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Henri Lubatti, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson; L.A. Theatre Works
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire; by Brandon Sanderson; Narrated by Terence Aselford, Kimberly Gilbert, David Jourdan and a full cast; Graphic Audio® A Movie in Your Mind®
  • The Swords of Riverside; by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman; Narrated by Ellen Kushner, Barbara Rosenblat, Katherine Kellgren, Dion Graham, Simon Jones, et al.; SueMedia Productions for Neil Gaiman / ACX
  • Under Drake’s Flag; by G.A. Henty; Narrated by Brian Blessed; Heirloom Audio Productions

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES 8-12

  • The Graveyard Book; by Neil Gaiman; Narrated by Derek Jacobi, Neil Gaiman, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt; HarperAudio
  • The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw; by Christopher Healy; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; HarperAudio
  • How to Catch a Bogle; by Catherine Jinks; Narrated by Mandy Williams; Listening Library
  • A Snicker of Magic; by Natalie Lloyd; Narrated by Cassandra Morris; Scholastic Audio
  • Unstoppable Octobia May; by Sharon G. Flake; Narrated by Bahni Turpin; Scholastic Audio

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES UP TO 8

  • Deep in the Swamp; by Donna M. Bateman; Narrated by Tom Chapin; Live Oak Media
  • Follow, Follow; by Marilyn Singer; Narrated by Marilyn Singer & Joe Morton; Live Oak Media
  • H.O.R.S.E.; by Christopher Myers; Narrated by Christopher Myers and Dion Graham; Live Oak Media
  • Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; by Patricia Hruby Powell; Narrated by Lizan Mitchell; Recorded Books
  • This Is Not My Hat; by Jon Klassen; Narrated by John Keating; Weston Woods
  • Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter; by Beatrix Potter; Narrated by Katherine Kellgren; Tantor Media

FANTASY

  • Cress; by Marissa Meyer; Narrated by Rebecca Soler; Macmillan Audio
  • The Emperor’s Blades; by Brian Staveley; Narrated by Simon Vance; Brilliance Publishing
  • Hawk; by Steven Brust; Narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark; Audible, Inc.
  • The Queen of the Tearling; by Erika Johansen; Narrated by Katherine Kellgren; HarperAudio
  • Words of Radiance; by Brandon Sanderson; Narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer; Macmillan Audio

MULTI–VOICED PERFORMANCE

  • The Anatomy Lesson; by Nina Siegal; Narrated by Adam Alexi-Malle, Peter Altschuler, Emma Jayne Appleyard, Hannah Curtis, Gildart Jackson, Bruce Mann, Steve West; Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Graveyard Book; by Neil Gaiman; Narrated by Derek Jacobi, Neil Gaiman, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt; HarperAudio
  • Land of Love and Drowning; by Tiphanie Yanique; Narrated by Cherise Boothe, Korey Jackson, Rachel Leslie, Myra Lucretia Taylor; Recorded Books
  • A Long Time Gone; by Karen White; Narrated by Susan Bennett, Jennifer Ikeda, and Pilar Witherspoon; Recorded Books
  • The Sixteenth of June; by Maya Lang; Narrated by Julia Whelan, Will Damron, and MacLeod Andrews; Brilliance Publishing
  • Stars: Original Stories Based on the Songs of Janis Ian; by Janis Ian (editor), Mike Resnick; Narrated by Janis Ian, Emily Rankin, Gabrielle du Cuir, John Rubinstein, Kathe Mazur, Kristoffer Tabori, Paul Boehmer, Sile Bermingham, Stefan Rudnicki and Susan Hanfield; Audible, Inc.

PARANORMAL

  • Damoren; by Seth Skorkowsky; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Audible, Inc.
  • The Girl with All the Gifts; by M.R. Carey; Narrated by Finty Williams; Hachette Audio
  • Pleasure of a Dark Prince; by Kresley Cole; Narrated by Robert Petkoff; Simon & Schuster
  • A Second Chance; by Jodi Taylor; Narrated by Zara Ramm; Audible, Inc.
  • Suffer the Children; by Craig Dilouie; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Tantor Media
  • Yesterday’s Gone, Season One; by Sean Platt, David Wright; Narrated by R.C. Bray, Chris Patton, Brian Holsopple, Ray Chase, Maxwell Glick, Tamara Marston; Podium Publishing

SCIENCE FICTION

  • The Beam: Season 1; by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant; Narrated by Johnny Heller, Tara Sands, Ralph Lister, Ray Chase, R.C. Bray, Jeffrey Kafer, Chris Patton, Eric Martin, Brian Holsopple, Rachel Fulginiti, Stephen Bowlby, and Emily Woo Zeller; Podium Publishing
  • Dark Eden; by Chris Beckett; Narrated by Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, Hannah Curtis, Robert Hook, Bruce Mann, Nicholas Guy Smith, and Heather Wilds; Penguin Random House Audio
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August; by Claire North; Narrated by Peter Kenny; Hachette Audio
  • Lock In; by John Scalzi; Narrated by Wil Wheaton, Amber Benson, and a full cast; Audible, Inc.
  • The Martian; by Andy Weir; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Podium Publishing

SHORT STORIES/COLLECTIONS

  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher; by Hilary Mantel; Narrated by Jane Carr; Macmillan Audio
  • Dangerous Women; by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois; Narrated by Claudia Black, Scott Brick, Karen Dotrice, Jonathan Frakes, Iain Glen, Janis Ian, Stana Katic, Inna Korobkina, Jenna Lamia, Lee Meriwether, Emily Rankin, Maggi-Meg Reed, Fred Sanders, Allan Scott-Douglas, Sophie Turner, Harriet Walter, Jake Weber; Penguin Random House Audio
  • Faceoff; Edited by David Baldacci. Written by Linwood Barclay, Steve Berry, Lee Child, Lincoln Child, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Linda Fairstein, Joseph Finder, Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, Peter James, Raymond Khoury, Dennis Lehane, John Lescroart, Steve Martini, T. Jefferson Parker, Douglas Preston, Ian Rankin, James Rollins, M. J. Rose, John Sandford, R.L. Stine, F. Paul Wilson; Narrated by Dylan Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jeremy Bobb, Daniel Gerroll, January LaVoy, with David Baldacci; Simon & Schuster
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths; by Bernard Evslin; Narrated by Todd Haberkorn; Graymalkin Media
  • The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories; by R. A. Salvatore; Narrated by Dan Harmon, Danny Pudi, Al Yankovic, Felicia Day, Greg Gurnberg, Melissa Rauch, Michael Chiklis, Sean Astin, Tom Felton, David Duchovny, Ice T, and Wil Wheaton; Audible, Inc.
  • The Wily O’Reilly: Irish Country Stories; by Patrick Taylor; Narrated by John Keating; Macmillan Audio

SOLO NARRATION — MALE

  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson; Narrated by Richard Armitage; Audible, Inc.
  • The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw; by Christopher Healy; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; HarperAudio
  • The Martian; by Andy Weir; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Podium Publishing
  • Mr. Mercedes; by Stephen King; Narrated by Will Patton; Simon & Schuster
  • The Other Story; by Tatiana de Rosnay; Narrated by Simon Vance; Macmillan Audio
  • Radiance of Tomorrow; by Ishmael Beah; Narrated by Dion Graham; Macmillan Audio

THRILLER/SUSPENSE

  • The Avengers, Lost Episodes Vol 1: Hot Snow; Adapted by John Dorney; Narrated by Various; Big Finish Productions
  • Dead Six; by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; Audible, Inc.
  • In the Morning I’ll Be Gone; by Adrian McKinty; Narrated by Gerard Doyle; Blackstone Audio Inc.
  • The Lost Key; by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison; Narrated by Renee Raudman and MacLeod Andrews; Brilliance Publishing
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead; by Michael Koryta; Narrated by Robert Petkoff; Hachette Audio
  • Wayfaring Stranger; by James Lee Burke; Narrated by Will Patton; Simon & Schuster

Finalists for two special awards, Distinguished Achievement in Production and Audiobook of the Year will be announced in April. The winners will be announced May 28.

NYRSF Readings Returns to Brooklyn for Annual “Family Night” Featuring Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, December 2 the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series celebrated the December Holidays Season by continuing its tradition (its seventh commemoration) of “Family Night” with one of its favorite families, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (for their sixth December happening). Also in keeping with custom, their reading was guest-hosted once more by the NYRSF Reading Series’ third curator (longtime attendees know who). In a departure, though, the event was held for the second time at the Commons Brooklyn, an event-hosting space a manageable hike from the Barclays Center, rather than at its usual venue, the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art. (At least one attendee showed up instead at the Gallery.)

The Reading Series’ executive curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (which broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 am), as well as host of the Hugo-winning Lightspeed Magazine Podcast, welcomed all and announced that the Series will return to the SGDA on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, presenting Sarah Pinsker and Daniel José Older. Future readings are likely to revisit the Commons; the building, incidentally, houses the management of WBAI and is expected to become the broadcast space early next year. Freund turned hosting duties over to the guest-curator, who introduced the evening’s first reader.

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman is author of the Prometheus and Andre Norton Award-winning The Freedom Maze (from which she has read at previous NYRSF Readings), a time-travel historical set in antebellum Louisiana, as well as other stories and novels for both younger readers and adults, including Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove, The Fall of the Kings (with Ellen Kushner), Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. The selection she shared, “Sacred Harp,” originally was published in Horns of Elfland (which she co-edited) and appears in her recent collection of short fiction, Young Woman in a Garden (despite the title it is decidedly not Young Adult), which made Publishers Weekly’s list of Best SF of 2014. The story is about a sacred harp or shape note choir, centering on Gretchen, an unsympathetic narrator (not usual for Sherman) who, frustratingly and increasingly pissed-off, leads her singers in hymns until, miraculously, the earthly meets the heavenly. The reading evoked a number of chuckles and made the audience want to hear the music. For those unfamiliar with shape note singing, Kushner stepped in to lead a chorus of “Babylon Has Fallen.” In a question-and-answer, Sherman replied that she does not write while listening to music, though ambient noise is ok and she has written in cafés. In contrast, Kushner writes in silence, or to listening to music whose words she doesn’t understand, and “she does not like to write in cafés.” Sherman noted that she had to teach herself how to write YA (Young Adult). “I don’t have an inner teenager. I have an inner 10-year-old and an inner 25-year-old.”

After a short recess, during which a raffle was held for a copy of the audiobook of The Freedom Maze and the manuscript from which Ellen Kushner would be reading, Wolf Smith introduced the second reader of the evening.

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner is an award-winning novelist (Thomas the Rhymer), editor (she recently co-edited Welcome to Bordertown), audiobook performer (her audiobook of Swordspoint, which she narrated, won both a 2012 Audie and Audiofile Earphones Award), klezmer devotee (The Golden Dreydl: a Klezmer “Nutcracker”), co-writer of the historical/feminist/magic realist/shtetl radio musical drama The Witches of Lublin, and public radio personality (longtime host of the public radio show Sound & Spirit); additionally, she recently served as guest host for Fantasy Magazine‘s Women Destroy Fantasy podcasts.

Notably, she is also the creator of the “mannerpunk” cult novel Swordspoint, and its follow-ups the Nebula Award-nominated The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of the Kings (as noted, written with Delia Sherman) and related short stories; her offering was from the next novel in the series, still a work in progress, tentatively titled City Year. (The term refers to a ritual of highborn young ladies, and, she revealed, a source was a guide for debutantes written a century ago; also, some “flavor” of their interplay was inspired by Little Women.)

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner

She read several charming and entertaining scenes featuring 15-year-old Jessica Campion, the bastard daughter of the Mad Duke Tremontaine by the actress known as the Black Rose, and Lily Martin, a girl of the same age who works in a Riverside tavern and wants to be a stage actress (plus ça change), who form a relationship, along with a scene with Alec Campion, the Mad Duke, and his swordsman Richard St Vier. In response to a question, Kushner said that she had no plans to write the oft-cited, legendary play The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death.

The guest-host returned to the front of the room to close out the evening.

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, and refreshments (cider, cheese and crackers, and tangerines). At another table, books by Sherman and Kushner were for sale and autograph.

The capacity crowd, exceeding 50, included Randee Dawn, Karen Heuler, Barbara Krasnoff, Josh Kronengold, John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Lisa Padol, Robert Rodriquez, James Ryan and Susan Ratisher Ryan. Following the stacking of the chairs, the guests and about 20 members of the audience adjourned to a nearby bar and grill.

Kushner and Sherman at NYRSF Reading 12/2

The New York Review of SF Readings continues its annual tradition of Family Night with Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner on December 2.

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman’s most recent short stories have appeared in the young adult anthology Steampunk! and in Ellen Datlow’s Naked City. She’s written three novels for adults: Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove, and The Fall of the Kings (with Ellen Kushner).She’s now turned her hand to novels for younger readers. Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen are both set in the magical world of New York Between.  The Freedom Maze is a time-travel historical about antebellum Louisiana which won the 2012 Prometheus Award and the Andre Norton Award. Her recent collection of short fiction, Young Woman in a Garden, has appeared on PW’s list of Best SF of 2014.

She has worked as a contributing editor for Tor Books and has co-edited the fantasy anthology The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Donald G. Keller, as well as The Essential Bordertown with Terri Windling, as well as two anthologies of interstitial fiction, Interfictions 1, with Theodora Goss and Interfictions 2, with Christopher Barzak. When she’s not writing, Sherman is teaching, editing, knitting, and cooking. Although she’s frequently on the road, she actually lives in a rambling apartment in New York City with partner Ellen Kushner and far too many pieces of paper.

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner’s cult classic novel Swordspoint introduced readers to the setting to which she has since returned in The Privilege of the Sword (Locus Award, Nebula nominee), The Fall of the Kings (written with Delia Sherman), and a growing handful of related short stories.  She recently recorded all three novels in audiobook form for Neil Gaiman Presents/Audible.com, and Swordspoint won both a 2012 Audie and Audiofile Earphones Award.  With Holly Black, she co-edited Welcome to Bordertown, a revival of the original urban fantasy shared world series created by Terri Windling, and oversaw the 2013 Brilliance Audio audiobook production with original music by Drew Miller of Boiled in Lead.

A co-founder of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, Ellen Kushner was also the longtime host of the national public radio show Sound & Spirit, and created several one-woman shows for it, including The Klezmer Nutcracker, which she then adapted for New York’s Vital Theater. She is currently working on a new novel in the Swordspoint?series. She recently served as guest host for Fantasy Magazine’s Women Destroy Fantasy podcasts. She lives in New York City with Delia Sherman. They have no cats, and she does not like to write in cafes. She loves to read aloud.

The NYRSF Readings will take place Tuesday, December 2 at The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue. Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7

The full press release follows the jump.

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NYRSF Readings for 12/2

The New York Review of SF Readings continues its annual tradition of Family Night with Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner on December 2, made all the more irresistible by live performances of selections from all three audiobooks in the Riverside series. [Name removed by request of author] will guest host.

The evening will include some of the original score to the series by Nathanael Tronerud, plus SFX from SueMedia. Kushner and Sherman will narrate their own work, accompanied by some of the original cast of the “illuminated” audiobooks.

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman’s most recent short stories appeared in the young adult anthology Steampunk! and in Ellen Datlow’s Naked City. Her novels for younger readers, Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen are set in the magical world of New York Between. And her time-travel historical novel The Freedom Maze about antebellum Louisiana won the 2012 Prometheus Award and Andre Norton Award.  When she’s not writing, Sherman is teaching, editing, knitting, and cooking. When not on the road (one of her favorite places to be), she lives in a rambling apartment in New York City with partner Ellen Kushner and far too many pieces of paper.

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner is a novelist, performer and public radio personality.  Her award-winning novels include the “mannerpunk” cult classic Swordspoint and Thomas the Rhymer. Kushner’s The Golden Dreydl: a Klezmer ‘Nutcracker’ has been produced as a CD (with the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra), a picture book, and onstage by New York’s Vital Theatre. She is the longtime host of the public radio show “Sound & Spirit.”

[Name removed by request of author] served as the third curator of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series from 1994 to 1996. Besides spending time in the science fiction publishing world, she has worked in a few different law-related fields, currently specializing in international reinsurance contracts at a large insurance company. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.

Sue Zizza

Sue Zizza

Sue Zizza is the owner of SueMedia. In 2012, Sue created the ‘illuminated style’ of audiobooks for the novel Swordspoint, which won the 2013 Audie Award for Audio Drama and is featured as part of Neil Gaiman Presents at Audible.com. She also teaches audio arts and sound production at New York University’s Kanbar Institute for Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts and is a Radio Producer for CUNY-TV and Radio in New York City where she is developing new plays for the radio.

David Shinn

David Shinn

David Shinn is a sound designer/engineer and foley (SFX) artist for stage and studio productions. His most recent projects have all received Audie Nominations and numerous other awards. From 1998 until 2006 he co-produced the nationally syndicated Radio Works series that was heard on more than 70 stations coast-to-coast.

Barbara Rosenblat

Barbara Rosenblat

Barbara Rosenblat has been described as “the Meryl Streep of audiobooks” by the NY Times. She is a multi-Audie Award winning and Golden Voice narrator whose extraordinary range of accents and characterizations in a distinguished body of work (more than 400 titles to date) makes her one of the most sought after and beloved narrators of audiobooks in the country. In the gaming world her voice can be heard in Grand Theft Auto. Currently she is a featured cast member on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.

Katherine Kellgren

Katherine Kellgren

Katherine Kellgren is a multi-Audie Award winning Golden Voice Narrator who is an audiobook fan favorite because of her no-holds-barred portrayals of characters like the irrepressible Jacky Faber (and motley company) in adventures like The Wake of the Lorelei Lee and The Mark of the Golden Dragon.

The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series on December 2 opens its doors at 6:30 p.m. Suggested donation $7. Location and other details in the full press release which follows the jump.

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NYRSF Readings for 12/4

The New York Review of SF readings for December 4 continue an annual tradition of having a family reading with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, and [Name removed by request of author] as host.

Delia Sherman writes stories and novels for younger readers and adults. Her most recent short stories have appeared in the young adult anthology Steampunk! and in Ellen Datlow’s Naked City.

Ellen Kushner is a novelist, performer and public radio personality.  Her award-winning novels include the “mannerpunk” cult classic Swordspoint and Thomas the Rhymer.  With Holly Black, she recently co-edited Welcome to Bordertown, a revival of the original urban fantasy shared world series created by Terri Windling. Kushner is the longtime host of the public radio show “Sound & Spirit.” Audiobook recordings of her first two “Riverside” novels, Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword, featuring Kushner as narrator, were released this year by Neil Gaiman Presents for Audible.com.

The full press release follows the jump.

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