Erle Korshak (1923-2021)

Erle Korshak, one of the last two surviving attendees of the first Worldcon in 1939, died August 25.

With Korshak’s death, Bob Madle is the sole surviving attendee of the first Worldcon.

Front: Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne Top: V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle Koeshak, Ray Bradbury at Coney Island, 7/4/1939, during the first Worldcon held in New York.

Korshak’s first encounter with science fiction was in 1934 as an 11-year-old, following up his good friend Mark Reinsberg’s interest in the stories Astounding was publishing. In 1939, he created Moonstruck Press with the ambition of compiling a bibliography of every fantasy book published to that time. 

Korshak also was part of the leadership triumvirate that brought the second Worldcon to Chicago in 1940. Reinsberg was chair, Korshak secretary, and Bob Tucker treasurer. Korshak presided over the opening day of the con, when Reinsberg fell ill.

A Buck Rogers-themed header from the Chicon program book. Supplied by the John F. Dille Co.

Korshak was going to be one of the guests of honor at the 2022 Worldcon, Chicon 8. Convention chair Helen Montgomery said, “We were so happy to be able to call and ask him to join us. Erle was so excited to be our Guest of Honor, and told us so in every conversation we had with him since then.”

Erle Korshak auctioning at Pacificon, 1946.

During World War II he served in the U.S. Army, enlisting in 1942 a month after he turned 19. He later graduated from law school, as did others in Chicago’s influential Korshak family. He became a successful lawyer and businessman in California and Nevada. (A diagram of the family tree is here.)

In the Fifties, Korshak helped found Shasta: Publishers together with T.E. Dikty and Mark Reinsberg, one of the earliest sf specialty presses. They initially planned only to publish Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature (1948). However, the Library of Congress reviewed the copy they received, calling it “a lasting contribution to the American arts in the field of the humanities,” Korshak told interviewers. “Every library in America bought the book, the checklist. We couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden we’re selling these things — and it was expensive, because six dollars was big money in those days.” They sold out the first edition, and then did a second edition. “So now [Dikty]and I are looking at each other and saying hey, this is a great feeling, why don’t we publish some more books?” They began reprinting famous pulp sf works in hardcover. Some of Shasta’s best-known books were Who Goes There? (1948) by John W. Campbell, Jr.; The Man Who Sold the Moon (1950) by Robert A. Heinlein; Sidewise in Time (1950) by Murray Leinster; and The Demolished Man (1953) by Alfred Bester. Shasta operated from 1947-1957. And in 2009, Korshak and his son Stephen revived the imprint as “Shasta-Phoenix” to publish collections of classic sf art.

When Shasta originally went out of business, Erle dropped out of organized fandom for three decades. He resumed attending conventions in the Eighties, beginning with the 1986 Worldcon where his friend Ray Bradbury was guest of honor.

He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996.

At the Chicago 7 Worldcon of 2012, Erle Korshak was interviewed onstage by John Scalzi. Asked by Scalzi how many people came to the first Chicago Worldcon, Korshak said 129, and Scalzi gestured to the front of the Grand Ballroom, “About the first two rows here.”

Erle Korshak being interviewed at Chicon 7 in 2012. Photo by Keith Stokes.

Chicon 8’s announcement of Korshak’s death says he will still be celebrated next year:

Our plans to honor Erle will not change. We will continue to plan to celebrate his amazing life and his contributions to fandom, from the early days of Worldcon to starting Shasta Publishing to his career as an attorney and his love of art which he passed on to his children.

Erle Korshak photo from the Chicon 8 website.

A slideshow of additional photos of Erle Korshak taken by Andrew Porter.

Pixel Scroll 5/7/21 Anything You Can Grok, I Can Grok Better

(1) DOING MINISTRY WORK. Crooked Timber  is having an extended forum on Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry For The Future: Below are the posts that have been made so far as part of “The Ministry for the Future seminar”.

Over the next ten days, we’re running a seminar on Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent novel about climate change and how our political and economic system might have to change to stop it, The Ministry for the Future. We’re happy to be able to do this – it’s an important book. Since it came out, it’s had an enormously enthusiastic reception (see e.g. Barack Obama and Ezra Klein). What we want to do in this seminar is not to celebrate it further (although it certainly deserves celebration) but to help it do its work in the world. So we’ve asked a number of people to respond to the book, by arguing it through and, as needs be, arguing with it. Soon after the seminar finishes, we will publish a reply piece by Stan, and then make the seminar generally available under a Creative Commons license. As the pieces are published, I will update this post to provide hyperlinks, to make it easier for people to keep track.

And Adam Roberts didn’t want to be left out – in comments he linked to his review of the book at Sibilant Fricative: “Kim Stanley Robinson, ‘The Ministry for the Future’”.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dine with award-winning writer Aliette de Bodard in episode 144 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast. Edelman adds, ”And unless my anxiety overwhelms me, next week, I’ll record the first face to face episode in 14 months … with a fully vaccinated guest over takeout at a picnic table in a public park.”

Aliette de Bodard

It’s time to head off for a Vietnamese meal with the amazing Aliette de Bodard, who’s currently both a Hugo Award and Ignyte Award finalist for her story “The Inaccessibility of Heaven,” published last year in Uncanny.

She’s the author of the Hugo-Award-nominated series The Universe of Xuya, set in a galactic empire born out of Vietnamese history and culture. She’s also written the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in an alternate Paris devastated by a magical war, which includes The House of Shattered WingsThe House of Binding Thorns, and the The House of Sundering Flames.

Her short fiction has appeared in UncannyBeneath Ceaseless SkiesLightspeedSubterraneanTor.com, and other magazines. She’s won three Nebula Awards, a Locus Award, a European Science Fiction Association Achievement Award, and four British Science Fiction Association Awards, in addition to being a finalist for the Hugo and Sturgeon Award. She was a double Hugo finalist in 2019 for Best Series and Best Novella, and was also a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2009.

We discussed how best to deal with imposter syndrome, the way the pandemic contributed to her completing a long-unfinished story, the phone call which sparked her to focus on more personal stories, when she realized she was building universes rather than single stories, how anger over Revenge of the Sith gave her insight into the kinds of universes she did and didn’t want to build, why the Shadow and Bone TV adaptation wasn’t the escapist entertainment she hoped it would be, how writers can fight back against the cliches popular culture puts in our heads, whether writers can control the effects of their stories when they have no idea what individual readers might bring to them, how best to use anger appropriately, the importance of a story’s final line, what she wishes she’d known about writing rules when she began, and much more.

(3) A MODEL FAN. Part 2 of Fanac.org’s Zoom session interview with Erle and Steve Korshak is now online. Erle is nearly 98. (Part 1 is here,)

Erle Korshak, founder of the legendary Shasta Publishers, instrumental in the second Worldcon in 1940 (Chicon I), very likely the first SF bookseller, and a Guest of Honor at Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon), sat with his son, Stephen, and fan historian Joe Siclari for a dive into his 80+ year SF fan career (April 2021). Part 2 of his interview is replete with entertaining anecdotes of well known fans and pros in the field such as Aldous Huxley, Charlie Hornig, and Bob Tucker. Erle recounts a sweet tale of Frank R. Paul drawing on stencil, and a charming story of how he himself came to be the model for the Hubert Rogers cover for Heinlein’s “Revolt in 2100”. You’ll also hear convention stories, art stories and more. Best of all, Erle paints a clear picture of what science fiction fandom was like in the early, early days.

(4) COSTUMERS’ IDEAS ABOUT BEST PRACTICES. Another of Fanac.org’s many recent additions is the Kennedy Masquerade Compendium – even in 1981, they thought it was time to stop reinventing the wheel every year.

…It occurred to me, among others, that more input by costumers would be a GOOD THING. Further, that assembling a consensus of opinion on various aspects of costuming and of Masquerade operation could be a help to future Masquerade Committees. With this in mind, I composed a few tentative rules and sent them out to those costumers whose addresses were in my book, asking for comments, criticisms, and suggestions. Some of the rules were deliberately provocative; and they did indeed provoke the production of enough material for another letter, and then another another. From the answers received, and from some personal discussions, I arrived at this present set of Guidelines. Not everything here is agreed to by every person who contributed, but I have tried to make sure that each suggestion is supported by enough experienced costumers to represent a respectable body of opinion….

(5) HAND-TO-BUTTON COMBAT. ScreenRant presents “The 10 Most Bizarre Weapons In Sci-Fi Movies, Ranked”.

…Science-fiction and technology go hand in hand, with one influencing the other over the years. This had led to both fantastical imaginings and real-world applications. Sci-fi movies usually showcase this relationship using advanced spaceships, robots, and of course, weapons….

8. L.O.O.K.E.R. GUN

Michael Crichton’s Looker was an attempt at holding a mirror up to society’s obsession with media and beauty, while also presenting a mystery about a series of murders of recent plastic surgery patients. Looker was one of the first films to use computer-generated images to create a realistic human character.

The film also featured a truly odd weapon of choice for the killer, which was a gun that emitted pulses of light to hypnotize/blind its victims/give the bearer the illusion of invisibility. The gun was named the Light Ocular-Oriented Kinetic Emotive Responses, or L.O.O.K.E.R Gun, which means its vague purpose may be secondary to making the acronym work with the title of the film.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • May 7, 1933 — On this day in 1933, King Kong premiered. It was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay was written by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose from an idea by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. Critics mostly loved it, the box office was quite amazing and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an astonishing ninety eighty percent approval rating. It has been ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the fourth greatest horror film of all time.  You can watch it here as it’s very much in the public domain. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 7, 1861 – Rabindranath Tagore.  Five stories, two poems for us available in English.  Composer, painter, philosopher, playwright, poet, social reformer.  First lyricist to win the Nobel Prize.  Two thousand songs; two chosen as national anthems.  Still largely unknown outside Bengal; try this.  (Died 1941) [JH]
  • Born May 7, 1915 Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories.  His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of they would publish was under pseudonyms.  During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.) (CE) 
  • Born May 7, 1918 – Walt Liebscher.  Fanziner best known for Chanticleer.  Harry Warner applauded “the incredible things Liebscher did with typewriter art.  He specialized in little faces with subtle expressions….  The contents page was frequently a dazzling display of inventive borders and separating lines.  Variety was imparted to some pages simply by running down one margin a repeated motif created from various characters”; here is C7 (PDF).  A score of short stories, half a dozen poems.  Correspondent of The Alien CriticAstounding, Fantasy AdvertiserVoice of the Imagi-NationLe Zombie.  Fan Guest of Honor  at Ambercon 2, Archon 6.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  (Died 1985) [JH]
  • Born May 7, 1923 Anne Baxter. The Batman series had a way of attracting the most interesting performers and she was no exception as she ended playing two roles there, first Zelda and then she had the extended recurring role of Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. Other genre roles were limited I think to an appearance as Irene Adler in the Peter Cushing Sherlock Holmes film The Masks of Death. (Died 1985.) (CE) 
  • Born May 7, 1931 – Gene Wolfe.  Thirty novels, two hundred thirty stories, forty poems.  Correspondent of AlgolThe Alien CriticFantasy NewsletterNY Rev of SFSF ChronicleSF CommentarySF Review, Speculation.  Interviewed in ClarkesworldGalaxy’s EdgeInterzoneScheherazadeSolarisStarShipSofaThrustUnivers (so spelled, it’s French), Vector.  Two Nebulas, five World Fantasy Awards including Lifetime Achievement, Campbell Memorial Award, Skylark, Rhysling, British SF Ass’n and British Fantasy Awards, SF Hall of Fame, SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Grand Master. Guest of Honor at AutoClave 1, Baycon ’82, DucKon VIII, Balticon 40, Chambanacon 45-47, Aussiecon Two the 43rd Worldcon.  I can’t omit “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories”, “The Death of Doctor Island”, “The Doctor of Death Island”, “Death of the Island Doctor”.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born May 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola, 82. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a redhead who was seriously into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of his include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled “Rip Van Winkle”, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one here has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael JacksonMary Shelley’s FrankensteinJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2. (CE)
  • Born May 7, 1940 Angela Carter. She’s best remembered for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories where she took fairy tales and made them very adult in tone. Personally I’d recommend The Curious Room insteadas it contains her original screenplays for the BSFA winning The Company of Wolves which starred Angela Lansbury and The Magic Toyshop films, both of which were based on her own original stories. Though not even genre adjacent, her Wise Children is a brilliant, if unsettling look at the theatre world. (Died 1992.) (CE)
  • Born May 7, 1943 – Ned Dameron, age 78.  Fifty covers, twoscore interiors.  Here is Trumpet 12.  Here is Showboat World.  Here (and here) is Sailing to Byzantium.  Here is the Nolacon II Hugo trophy (46th Worldcon).  Here are facing interior pages from Charlie the Choo-Choo.  [JH]
  • Born May 7, 1951 Gary Westfahl, 70. SF reviewer for the LA Times,  the unfortunately defunct Internet Review of Science Fiction, and Locus Online. Editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders; author of Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy (with George Slusser) and A Sense-of-Wonderful Century: Explorations of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films. (CE)
  • Born May 7, 1966 – Rachel Ann Nunes, age 55.  A dozen novels for us (some under another name), half a dozen shorter stories, three dozen books all told.  She says she’s “married, mostly grown up, and has seven kids, so life at her house can be very interesting (and loud)….  Her only rule about writing is never to eat chocolate at the computer.”  [JH]
  • Born May 7, 1982 – Bec McMaster, age 39.  Two dozen novels.  She says, “raised on myth and legend … offered her younger siblings to the goblin king many a time.  Unfortunately, he did not accept.”  Has read Jane Eyre, five-sixths of the Lymond ChroniclesPride and PrejudiceRomeo and JulietThe Count of Monte Cristo.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

The Far Side has a clever Star Trek joke.

(9) BLACK CARTOONISTS. Never-before-collected comics from Chicago’s Black press: It’s Life as I See It curated by Dan Nadel and published by the New York Review Comics.

Between the 1940s and 1980s, Chicago’s Black press—from The Chicago Defender to the Negro Digest to self-published pamphlets—was home to some of the best cartoonists in America. Kept out of the pages of white-owned newspapers, Black cartoonists found space to address the joys, the horrors, and the everyday realities of Black life in America. From Jay Jackson’s anti-racist time travel adventure serial Bungleton Green, to Morrie Turner’s radical mixed-race strip Dinky Fellas, to the Afrofuturist comics of Yaoundé Olu and Turtel Onli, to National Book Award–winning novelist Charles Johnson’s blistering and deeply funny gag cartoons, this is work that has for far too long been excluded and overlooked. Also featuring the work of Tom Floyd, Seitu Hayden, Jackie Ormes, and Grass Green, this anthology accompanies the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s exhibition Chicago Comics: 1960 to Now, and is an essential addition to the history of American comics.

(10) WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS. For-profit conrunner Creation Entertainment is revving up an anniversary celebration: “Creation Entertainment’s 55-Year Mission Convention in Las Vegas”. It will take place August 11-15.

The year 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of Creation Entertainment, the 55th Anniversary of Star Trek, the 20th Anniversary of our convention in Las Vegas, Gene Roddenberry’s 100th birthday year and William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy’s 90th birthday years. It’s the perfect time to celebrate and no city is better than Las Vegas to do just that!

With over 100 celebrity guests, we’ll have multiple tracks of non-stop programming, contests, music, cosplay and surprises, plus partying galore. We’ll immerse our attendees into the positive and loving atmosphere with thousands of other fans, as we all celebrate Gene Roddenberry’s legacy.

(11) PRIVATE ASTRONAUTS. “NASA, Axiom Space to Host Media Briefing on Private Astronaut Mission” says a NASA press release.

NASA and Axiom Space have signed a mission order for the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station and will host a teleconference with media at 11 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 10, to discuss more details about the mission.

NASA has opened up the space station for commercial activities, including private astronaut missions, as part of its plan to develop a robust and competitive economy in low-Earth orbit. NASA’s needs in low-Earth orbit – such as human research, technology development, and in-flight crew testing – will continue after the retirement of the International Space Station. Commercial industry will help meet these needs by providing destinations and transportation capabilities to continue these services as part of a broader low-Earth orbit economy. Enabling private astronaut missions to the station is an important step to stimulate demand for commercial human spaceflight services so that NASA can be one of many customers in low-Earth orbit.

The spaceflight, named Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), is scheduled to launch no earlier than January 2022 for an eight-day mission aboard the orbiting complex. The Axiom Space crew will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida…

(12) A FULLY-OPERATIONAL PLAYTHING. Eric Diaz, in “Kick Off Summer with a Giant Inflatable Death Star Beach Ball” at Nerdist, says that Star Wars fans will want to take this Giant Inflatable beach ball and kick it around the pool, pretending that Stormtroopers inside are flailing because of the powers of the Force!l

…Just think of all the fun you’ll have, imagining the stormtroopers inside. Each rolling around and hitting their dumb helmets on the walls. And all while kicking this Death Star across the park. Or better yet, throw it in your backyard pool. It’s just like when Death Star II crashes on the planet Kef Bir, the ocean moon of Endor. However you decide to play with it, or even just display that big sucker, it sure feels like the past year owes us all a giant inflatable battle station of our own….

(13) UP ALL NIGHT. Netflix dropped a trailer for Awake, a future where people can’t sleep. Airs June 9.

Chaos ensues after a global event wipes out all electronics and takes away humankind’s ability to sleep. But Jill (Gina Rodriguez), an ex-soldier with a troubled past, may hold the key to a cure in the form of her own daughter.

(14) RESCUED ROMERO FILM.  Another trailer dropped for The Amusement Park, a film George Romero directed in 1973 which has been suppressed until now, that has been released on Shudder.

An elderly gentleman goes for what he assumes will be an ordinary day at the amusement park, only to find himself in the middle of a hellish nightmare instead. Shot by George A. Romero between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, The Amusement Park is a bleak, haunting allegory where the attractions and distractions of an amusement park stand in for the many abuses that the elderly face in society. 4K digital restoration commissioned by the George A. Romero Foundation and carried out by IndieCollect.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/16/21 I Am Just A Filer, Though My Pixel’s Seldom Scrolled

(1) CONTRACT GUIDES NOW OPEN ACCESS. The Authors Guild has released its Model Book Contract to the public for the first time. They have also produced a separate Literary Translation Model Contract for U.S. translators and literary agents.

“We updated the Model Trade Book Contract last year right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We never could have predicted just how deleterious the crisis would be on working writers, with 71.4 percent of authors reporting losing, on average, 49 percent of their regular pre-pandemic income, based on our latest member survey,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild. “Given this situation, we have been exploring various ways to help ease the lives and careers of professional writers, which is why the Authors Guild Council recently voted to remove the Model Trade Book Contract from behind our member paywall and make it freely accessible for all writers, publishers and anyone interested in book contracts. We hope that publishers will look to its terms in creating their own or adopt it, and we want authors around the globe to have access to it so they can understand what terms and issues they should be aware of before signing any book deal.”

(2) THEY’RE BACK. “Wakandans Featurette/Marvel Studio’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” on YouTube is a trailer from Disney+ that announces that Wakandans have shown up in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.

(3) SPFBO. Mark Lawrence has announced that he will be starting the next Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off on June 1st.  They need another blogger/reviewer.

(4) FINALS EXAM. Cora Buhlert has 2,000 well-chosen words to share on the subject: “Some Thoughts on the 2021 Hugo Finalists”.

… When the Best Series Hugo was proposed, the argument was that a lot of popular and long-running series are overlooked by the Hugos – or the Nebulas for that matter – because the individual novels don’t stand alone very well and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

However in practice, such series, no matter how popular, are rarely nominated. Particularly The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is notable by its absence, even though the Best Series Hugo seems tailor-made for this series.

Instead, the Best Series ballot tends to consist of trilogies by authors Hugo voters like and where individual volumes have often made the ballot before as well as of works set in the same wold that form a series if you squint really hard. I guess most Hugo voters simply aren’t series readers.

That said, the actual Best Series ballot looks pretty good this year. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells is a hugely popular series where prettty much every installment has either been a finalist or would have been, if Martha Wells hadn’t withdrawn two Murderbot novellas from consideration in 2019. It’s also a great series….

(5) HAVE YOU RED IT TOO? The Heinlein Society has a good reason for suggesting that you watch this trailer and note what books the kids are reading at about 28 seconds.

(6) IT’S JUST TAKING A KIP. Meanwhile, back at the Red Planet, NASA’s InSight lander is “in crisis”: “NASA’s InSight Mars Lander to Hibernate so Batteries Don’t Die” at Business Insider.

… Unlike other sites where NASA has sent rovers and landers — including the landing spot of the new Perseverance rover and its Mars helicopter — powerful gusts of wind have not been sweeping Elysium Planitia. These winds, called “cleaning events,” are needed to blow the red Martian dust off the solar panels of NASA’s robots. Without their help, a thick layer of dust has accumulated on InSight, and it’s struggling to absorb sunlight.InSight’s solar panels were producing just 27% of their energy capacity in February, when winter was arriving in Elysium Planitia. So NASA decided to start incrementally turning off different instruments on the lander. Soon the robot will go into “hibernation mode,” shutting down all functions that aren’t necessary for its survival.

By pausing its scientific operations, the lander should be able to save enough power to keep its systems warm through the frigid Martian nights, when temperatures can drop to negative-130 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The amount of power available over the next few months will really be driven by the weather,” Chuck Scott, InSight’s project manager, said in a statement.

InSight is still in good condition — it’s even using its robotic arm — but an out-of-season storm could cause a power failure. If the lander’s batteries die, it might never recover.

“We would be hopeful that we’d be able to bring it back to life, especially if it’s not asleep or dead for a long period of time,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator, told Insider. “But that would be a dicey situation.”

(7) THE HOLE NINE YARDS. Let James Davis Nicoll tell you about “Five Books That Use Wormholes to Plug Plot Holes” at Tor.com. First on the list –

Starman Jones by Robert Heinlein (1953)

This novel long predates the heyday of wormholes; it doesn’t even use the phrase. But it uses spacetime anomalies, which are just like wormholes. With one exception: they don’t just have an entrance and an exit. They can take you all sorts of interesting places if you enter the anomaly with the wrong approach vector. A small error calculating the vector and a hapless ship could find itself light-millennia off-course, with no clear idea how to get home. No prizes for guessing if this happens to the Asgard, the very ship on which the eponymous Starman Jones is serving. Nor is this worst that will happen to the unfortunate castaways.

(8) MCCRORY OBIT. Actress Helen McCrory, OBE, (1968-2021) died April 16 reports GEEKchocolate.

We are hugely saddened to hear of the death of the wonderful Helen McCrory, known to us as Rosanna Calvierri’s in Doctor Who’s Vampires of Venice, but with a resume which stretched from Interview with the Vampire, Charlotte Gray, The Count of Monte Cristo, Skyfall, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, a recurring role in Harry Potter as Narcissa Malfoy, and a long stint as Polly Grey on Peaky Blinders, as well as two appearances as Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.

(9) FELIX SILLIA OBIT. The actor who played Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, Felix Sillia, has died at the age of 84 reports SYFY Wire.

In addition to playing Cousin Itt, Silla’s other best-known roles include playing the robot Twiki / Odee-x on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and an evil miniature “Hitler” in 1975’s The Black Bird. He also had smaller parts in much-loved movies, such as playing an Ewok on Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Dink in Spaceballs. He also worked as a stuntman on E.T. the Extra-TerrestrialPoltergeistIndiana Jones and the Temple of DoomHoward the Duck, and Batman Returns.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 16, 1955 –On this day in 1955, Science Fiction Theatre aired “Time Is Just A Place” as the second episode of the first season.  It’s from Jack Finey’s “Such Interesting Neighbors” (published in Collier’s, 1951) which would later form the basis of the March 20, 1987 adaptation of the story under its original title for Amazing Stories. The story is that neighbors are increasingly suspicious of the inventions of Mr. Heller, who claims to be an inventor, who uses a robotic vacuum cleaner and a flashlight that beams x-rays. It starred Don DeFore, Warren Stevens and Marie Windsor.  You can watch it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 16, 1891 – Dorothy Lathrop.  Illustrator and author.  Historically a lot of good fantasy has been written for children; folks who appreciate fantasy know to look there.  DL illustrated twoscore books, writing nine herself, also nonfiction.  Rachel Field’s Hitty, illustrated by DL, won RF a Newbery Medal; DL’s illustrations for Helen Fish’s Animals of the Bible won DL a Caldecott Medal.  Here is DL’s cover for an ed’n of The Little Mermaid.  Here is a dandelion soldier.  Here is an interior for Mopsa the Fairy.  This is from DL’s Fairy Circus.  Here is Across the Night Sky.  Here is a 2011 appreciation with another score of pictures.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born April 16, 1921 Peter Ustinov. He had a number of genre appearances such as being in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard, in the animated Robin Hood by voicing both  Prince John and King Richard, as simply The Old Man In Logan’s Run, Truck Driver In The Great Muppet Caper, and in Alice in Wonderland as The Walrus. He wrote The Old Man and Mr. Smith: A Fable which is clearly genre. Genre adjacent (well sort of), he played Hercule Poirot twice. (Died 2004.) (CE) 
  • Born April 16, 1922 Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being some. (Died 1995.) (CE) 
  • Born April 16, 1922 John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both an excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo finishing sixth in the balloting at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.) (CE) 
  • Born April 16, 1953 – J. Neil Schulman.  Four novels, half a dozen shorter stories; collection Nasty, Brutish, and Short Stories (speaking of Hobbes’ Leviathan, I used to joke that the tiger should have been Calvin, and the boy Hobbes because he was nasty, brutish, and short); “Profiles in Silver” for The Twilight Zone; two Prometheus Awards.  I can’t remember ever agreeing with him, but I miss him.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born April 16, 1954 Ellen Barkin, 65. Usually I don’t do a birthday listing for just a few genre appearances but I make an exception for those performers who appeared in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Barking played Penny Priddy in that film and that was her only genre appearance other than playing Kathleen in the Into The West film about Irish Travellers and a very special horse named Tír na nÓg. (CE)
  • Born April 16, 1962 Kathryn Cramer, 59. Writer, editor, and literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well.  They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website — Kathryncramer.com. (CE)
  • Born April 16, 1970 – Brandon McKinney, age 51.  Here is a fine cover for John Whitman’s novelization Star Wars.  Here is a cover for JW’s Phantom Menace.  Interiors for both.  Here is Batman, here is Robin.  Here is Spider-Man.  Here is Bruce Lee in The Dragon Rises.  Also Elfquest; see here.  [JH]
  • Born April 16, 1975 Sean Maher, 46. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of  animated DAC films, to wit  Son of BatmanBatman vs. Robin,,Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen TitansTeen Titans: The Judas Contract and Batman: Hush. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. (CE)
  • Born April 16, 1978 – Amy Ruttan, age 43.  Four novels for us; two dozen others.  “Half the fun of writing historicals and being swept away in a different time period is the research….  let someone else you trust have a look over your work.  You’ll be surprised what you as an author won’t pick out.”  [JH]
  • Born April 16, 1983 – Thomas Olde Heuvelt, age 38.  Too little (say I) of his work has been translated from Dutch into English.  “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” was and won a Hugo, which may be some encouragement.  Six novels, sixteen shorter stories; one novel, five shorter stories in English so far.  Three Paul Harland prizes.  [JH]
  • Born April 16, 1990 – Kusano Gengen, age 31.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Only three stories yet translated into English; one is “Last and First Idol” – yes, alluding to Olaf Stapledon – which won a Seiun, and is the lead story in a 2018 collection with the other two.  KG drew a thousand words from Jonathan Clements, of which I’ll quote a few about “Idol”: “Described by one of the Hayakawa Sci-Fi Contest [which “Idol” won – JH] panelists as ‘stupid’, and by an employee of his own publisher as ‘abysmal’, Kusano’s work of recursive SF provocatively combines the breathless, vapid prose of a teenage school story with the portentous, epic concerns of Space Opera, turning each into a wry commentary on the pomposity of the other.”  Meanwhile Kusano-san went off to Hokkaidô University for a Ph.D.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) IMAGINARY PAPERS ON YOUR DOORSTEP. The Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination today published the 6th issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.  

This issue features writing from media scholar Lisa Yin Han, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, and learning sciences researcher Ruth Wylie.

Here is a link for subscribing to future issues.

 (14) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has scheduled three more FanHistory Project Zoom Sessions. To attend, send an RSVP to fanac@fanac.org in order to receive a link. 

  • April 17, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London –  Early Star Trek Fandom, with Ruth Berman and Devra Langsam.  

Stories and anecdotes from Ruth and Devra about their entry into fandom, about the origins of Star Trek fandom, and how they came to publish T-Negative and  Spockanallia. For those of us that came into fandom later, here’s a chance to hear how Star Trek was received in general fandom, how Trek fandom got started, who the BNFs were and what they were they like.  How did the first Trek fanzines and Trek conventions affect fandom, and how did Trek fandom grow  and become its own thing. 

  • April 27, Tuesday – 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT,  9PM London. An Interview with Erle Korshak by Joe Siclari. 

Erle Korshak is one of our remaining FIrst Fans (inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996) and a Guest of Honor at Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon). Erle was an organizer of the first Chicon,  the 1940 Worldcon, and was one of the Worldcon auctioneers for many years. He started Shasta Publishers, one of the first successful specialty SF publishers.  He was also involved with early SF movies. In this session, fan historian Joe Siclari  will interview Erle and his son Steve about early fandom, early conventions (including Worldcons), Shasta, and both Erle and Steve’s continuing interest in illustration art. Note: this is a midweek session. 

  • May 22, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – An Interview with Bjo and John Trimble. 

Bjo and John Trimble have had an enormous impact on fandom from the 1950s onward. They’ve pubbed their ish, and some of the zines are available on FANAC.org. Bjo created the convention art show as we know it today (pre-pandemic) with Project Art Show, and published PAS-tell to share info with interested fans everywhere. In LASFS,  Bjo had a large role in reviving a flagging LASFS in the late 50s. Her most famous contribution was the successful Save Star Trek campaign which resulted in a 3rd year of the original series. Bjo was one of the organziers of Los Angeles fandom’s film making endeavors.  John is a co-founder of the LASFS clubzine, De Profundis and an editor of Shangri-L’Affaires. Bjo and John were Fan Guests of Honor at ConJose (2002), and were nominated twice for Best Fanzine Hugos. Bjo was nominated for Best Fan Artist Hugo. In this interview, expect stories and anecdotes of Los Angeles fandom, how the art show came to be, Save Star Trek and more. 

(15) BEAMING INTO YOUR HOME. Stay tuned as Galactic Journey boldly goes through 1966!

(16) BIG BUCKS. Smaug’s dead, so they can’t borrow it from him.“Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Costs $465 Million for Just Season 1” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings television show is going to cost all the gold in the Lonely Mountain.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Amazon will spend roughly NZ$650 million — $465 million in U.S. dollars — for just the first season of the show.

That’s far above previous reported estimates that pegged the fantasy drama as costing an already record-breaking $500 million for multiple seasons of the show.

“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone,” Stuart Nash, New Zealand minister for economic development and tourism, told Morning Report“This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”

The figures were released as part of as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act and initially reported by the New Zealand outlet Stuff. The documents also confirmed the studio’s plan to film potentially five seasons in New Zealand — as well as possible, as-yet-unannounced spinoff series.

By comparison, HBO’s Game of Thrones cost roughly $100 million to produce per season, with its per-episode cost starting at around $6 million for season one and eventually rising to around $15 million per episode in season eight….

(17) THE TRAIN TO NOWHERE. Mashable’s reviewer Belen Edwards says “’Infinity Train’ Season 4 is a strong end to a show that deserved more”.

… However, part of the beauty of Infinity Train has always been its conciseness. The animated series takes on an anthology format. Each season follows a different passenger on the titular train, where each car holds a new world. Passengers are assigned a glowing green number that goes down as they learn more lessons and work to resolve the problems in their life. When their numbers reach zero, they can exit the train. Each season is only 10 episodes long, and at 11 minutes each they pack in an astounding amount of character development and heart. …

(18) KING OF THE MOVIES. There will be an online “Dollar Baby film festival” hosted by Vancouver’s Baker Street Cinema of unreleased Stephen King movies from April 23-25. Full details at the link.  

Hosted by Canadian film production company Barker Street Cinema, the virtual festival, called STEPHEN KING RULES, will screen 25 submissions by filmmakers from all over the world, many of which have never been seen by a global audience before.

Since 1977, the Master of Horror – Stephen King – has allowed emerging filmmakers to adapt his previously unproduced short stories into films that may help launch their careers through what is called the Dollar Baby Deal. Barker Street’s STEPHEN KING RULES Dollar Baby Film Festival will showcase an exciting line-up of these independent movies, including interviews and panel discussions with the filmmakers themselves….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Dann, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, N., Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Bill, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day MixMat and Cliff with an assist from Jack Lint and Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 3/30/17 Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Scroll

(1) WAX TREK. The Orange County Register’s Keith Sharon should get a Pulitzer Prize for the first line of his article “$80,000 later, why this trio gave up their ‘Star Trek’ wax figures, Enterprise replica”:

Mr. Spock’s head cooled in a wooden crate for 10 years before someone noticed something was wrong.

Equally good is the rest of the article — about the fate of the wax Star Trek crew since the defunct Movieland Wax Museum sold its exhibits in 2006.

Steve and Lori had 24 hours to decide whether they wanted to pay about $40,000 for Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, Dr. McCoy, Chekov and Scott. Or they could buy just one, or just a few.

They went to Don Jose’s restaurant and had margaritas over dinner. They knew other people wanted to buy the individuals in the crew. One guy wanted to put Spock in a bar. Another guy wanted to put Captain Kirk in his house. So they decided to buy them all, to keep the crew together. They made it their mission to save the crew of the Enterprise.

“Let’s protect them,” Steve told Lori.

“We took them home and put them in our dining room,” Lori said.

That’s when it got weird. Steve couldn’t stand the life-like eyes looking at him all the time.

“We put paper bags over their heads,” Steve said.

 

Steve Greenthal puts on the head of his Captain Kirk wax figure at the Fullerton Airport before donating them to the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The figures were purchased when the Movieland Wax Museum went out of business. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

(2) NOT ENOUGH HAMMER. Ursula K. Le Guin reviews Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology for The Guardian and finds it very well-written but wanting in some ways:

Gaiman plays down the extreme strangeness of some of the material and defuses its bleakness by a degree of self-satire. There is a good deal of humour in the stories, the kind most children like – seeing a braggart take a pratfall, watching the cunning little fellow outwit the big dumb bully. Gaiman handles this splendidly. Yet I wonder if he tries too hard to tame something intractably feral, to domesticate a troll.

… What finally left me feeling dissatisfied is, paradoxically, the pleasant, ingratiating way in which he tells it. These gods are not only mortal, they’re a bit banal. They talk a great deal, in a conversational tone that descends sometimes to smart-ass repartee. This chattiness will be familiar to an audience accustomed to animated film and graphic narrative, which have grown heavy with dialogue, and in which disrespect is generally treated as a virtue. But it trivialises, and I felt sometimes that this vigorous, robust, good-natured version of the mythos gives us everything but the very essence of it, the heart.

(3) FROM BUFFY TO BATGIRL. Joss Whedon is in talks to do a Batgirl movie says The Hollywood Reporter.

Whedon is in negotiations to write, direct and produce a Batgirl stand-alone movie for Warner Bros., adding another heroine to the studio’s DC cinematic universe.

Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich will oversee the project, along with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns….

Batgirl will be the second female superhero stand-alone in Warner Bros. DCU (Wonder Woman will hit theaters on June 2). Whedon has long been credited as a pioneering voice for female-focused genre fare, having created the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer two decades ago.

(4) DIETZ ESTATE SALE. Over 300 sf/f collectible books and other items from Frank Dietz’ are for sale on eBay. Dietz passed away in 2013.

He was chairman of the first 14 Lunacons, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 2007 Lunacon. His activities as “Station Luna,” an effort to record the proceedings of many World SF Conventions, continued for many years. He recorded events at the 1951 Worldcon in New Orleans.

(5) WOTF IN TOWN. Ron Collins reports on Day 2 of the annual Writers of the Future Workshop.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” Andrew Peery told me during a break after the opening session. He meant it in a good way. Peery, from North Carolina, is the 4th quarter first prize winner. The group had just walked through the Author Services Hall of Writers and been given a presentation of past judges throughout the contest’s history. People here have asked me how things have changed in the 18 years since my last visit. One thing that’s different is that the list of judges has gotten a little longer and a little more prominent. It’s very cool to think about.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the purpose of the workshop.

“Our goal in this workshop is to help you train yourself to be a professional writer,” Dave Farland said in his opening remarks. He and Tim [Powers] then covered several topics, focusing on things like how to develop writerly habits, how stories are structured, and how to create and use suspense. And that was just before lunch. Along the way the two of them did a little brotherly bickering about the speed with this things should be done. “If you’re here, we already know you’re good,” Dave said. “But now we want to help you think about producing that good work more quickly.” Tim, followed that up with: “My first drafts take forever and are never any good.” Then he explained why that was just fine by him. I’ve seen that before, but, yeah, it holds up on second viewing! It’s always great to see how creativity is different for two such high-caliber artists.

Other authors have written about Day 1 and Day 3.

(6) EGYPT IN SF. Tim Powers was recently interviewed by Rachel Connor and described his preparation.

Rachel: I was first introduced to your work when I read The Anubis Gates, a historical fiction with time-travel, Victorian corruption and ancient Egyptian folklore. Can you tell us a little about your approach to historical fiction? What is it about a certain period of time that intrigues you?

Tim: A novel for me generally starts with something I stumble across in recreational non-fiction reading. I’ll notice some peculiarity — like Edison working on a phone to talk to dead people with, or Albert Einstein going to a séance — and I’ll start to wonder if a story might not be built around what I’m reading.

If I come across another oddity or two — like Edison’s last breath being preserved in a test tube in a museum in Michigan, or Einstein turning out to have had a secret daughter who disappears from history in 1902 — I’ll decide that this isn’t recreational reading after all, but research for a book.

For The Anubis Gates, it was a note in one of Lord Byron’s letters. He said that several people had recognized him in London at a particular date in 1810, when at that time he was in fact in Turkey, very sick with a fever.

I wondered how he might have a doppelganger, and started reading all about Byron, and his doctor in Turkey, and London at the time, looking for clues

(7) EVERY JOT AND TITTLE. Tom Easton and Michael Burstein’s collaborative short story Sofer Pete” has been published in Nature

The visitors were crowded against one wall of bookcases, facing a large table on which was stretched a long piece of parchment. An inkwell filled with black ink sat off to the side. A hand holding a traditional goose-quill pen moved over the parchment, leaving rows of Hebrew characters behind it more quickly than a human hand ever could.

Because the hand did not belong to a human. The gleaming metal hand belonged to a humanoid robot seated on the other side of the table. Its name was Pete.

(8) THANKS DAD! Most people know Joe Hill’s father is Stephen King. Here’s what happened when young Joe turned to him for advice….

(9) “EVERY WINDOW’S A SEAT”. How much will people pay to be in space for a few minutes? “Jeff Bezos just revealed a mock-up of the spacecraft his rocket company will use to take tourists into space”.

Each launch will rocket a handful of wealthy tourists more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth on a roughly 11-minute trip.

Near the top of a high arc, the rocket will detach from the space capsule, which will fall toward the ground, granting passengers about four minutes of weightlessness and letting them take in an incredible view of the fringes of our planet’s outer atmosphere.

(10) GHOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST. The BBC says the animated Ghost in the Shell was good, but the live-action is better.

The Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell isn’t just one of the most acclaimed science-fiction cartoons ever made, it’s one of the most acclaimed science-fiction films, full stop. Conceptually and visually breathtaking, Mamoru Oshii’s cyberpunk detective flick bridged the gap between analogue blockbusters and digital ones, between Blade Runner and The Terminator, with their cyborgs and androids, and The Matrix and Avatar, with their body-swaps and virtual realities. The makers of The Matrix, in particular, were happy to acknowledge that they were following in Oshii’s future-noir footsteps.

The question is, then, is it worth bothering with a belated live-action version? Considering that the cartoon is now a cult classic, and that several other films have taken its innovations and run with them, can a mega-budget Hollywood remake have anything of its own to offer? The answer to both questions is a definite yes.

(11) RELAUNCH. First reuse of a SpaceX recoverable boosterNPR reports:

SpaceX launched a communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket stage that has already been to space and back. SpaceX is betting that this kind of recycling will lower its costs and revolutionize space flight.

(12) NOT FIVE? At the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog, Corinna Lawson shares the four rules that tell her “How to Know When It’s Okay to Read a Series out of Order”.

  1. When the character arcs are resolved by book’s end

In Sins of Empire, there are three leads, and all set out on emotional journeys that are fully resolved by book’s end.

Meanwhile, ASoIaF readers are still waiting to see what happens via-à-vis Jamie Lannister’s redemption arc, whether the Khaleesi will ever seize her birthright, if Tyrion’s suffering will amount to anything, or if Jon Snow will ever stop flailing about and realize who and what he is.

In Bujold’s The Warrior’s Apprentice, a young man who dreams of being a soldier finds more than he bargained for, and, at the end, his journey has a resolution, despite a fair dozen books that follow.

But Bishop’s Others, series, well, readers have been waiting for four books to see what happens with Simon and Meg, and though their patience is rewarded, it took four other books to get there.

(13) REVIEW HAIKU. Aaron Pound begins with a 17-syllable plot summary, then goes on to tell why he loved Kelly Sue DeConnick’s graphic story Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike.

Full review: I must confess that I obtained this book almost solely because it was written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and at this point I am pretty much willing to at least take a look at anything she writes. Pretty Deadly not only met the high expectations I have for work from DeConnick, it exceeded them. This is, quite bluntly, mythic storytelling that manages to be both epic in scale and simultaneously intensely personal. Told via a combination of tight and brilliant writing from DeConnick and stunningly beautiful and evocative artwork from Emma Rios, this story presents a violent and visceral enigma shrouded in mystery wrapped up in magic, gunfights, and swordplay.

(14) THREE SHALL BE THE NUMBER THOU SHALT COUNT. This is a public service announcement from N.K. Jemisin.

(15) KORSHAK COLLECTION. An exhibit from “The Korshak Collection: Illustrations of Imaginative Literature” will be on display April 10-May 16 at the Albin O Kuhn Library and Gallery on the University of Maryland Baltimore County campus. The collection, now owned by Stephen Korshak, was started by his father Erle Korshak, past Worldcon chair and founder of the imprint Shasta Publishers, and has its own impressive website.

Truly a vision of the fantastic, this exhibition is an amazing exploration of both illustrative art and the evolution of the visual landscape of science fiction and fantasy literature. Featuring work by both American and European artists and spanning more than a century, these vivid illustrations bring to life adventures, beings, and worlds conjured in novels such as Don Quixote, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Tarzan, and pulp magazines including Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Fantastic Adventures, and Wonder Stories. Accomplishing far more than simply guiding readers in their explorations of new and sometimes bizarre realms, the range and impact of these illustrations is far-reaching.

The exhibition will also include books, pulp magazines, and other items drawn from UMBC’s Rosenfeld Collection, revealing how the illustrations in the Korshak Collection were meant to appear when encountered as artifacts of material culture.

(16) BEYOND ORWELL. The 2084 Kickstarter has funded. The collection —

features 11 stories from leading science fiction writers who were all asked the same question – what will our world look like 67 years from now? The anthology features new and exclusive stories from:

Jeff Noon, Christopher Priest, James Smythe, Lavie Tidhar, Aliya Whiteley, David Hutchinson, Cassandra Khaw, Desirina Boskovich, Anne Charnock, Ian Hocking, and Oliver Langmead.

(17) BOOKS WERE SOLD. This is John Scalzi’s executive summary of The Collapsing Empire’s first week:

So, in sum: Top selling science fiction hardcover in the US, second-best-selling audio book in the US, my highest debut on the USA Today bestseller list, and a TV deal.

That’s a pretty good week, y’all.

Fuller details at the post.

(18) JURY CALL. The Shadow Clarke Jury continues to review its Clarke Award picks.

I put this novel on my shadow shortlist after reading the opening chapters on Amazon, because I was fascinated by the premise: the seemingly inexplicable overnight irruption of masses of full-grown trees into our familiar world. I said, when I explained my choices, that I was intrigued because it reminded me somewhat of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, in which the world is transformed, first by meteors, which cause mass blindness, and then by the apparently coordinated escape of the triffids, seizing the opportunities afforded by this new blindness. I was curious to see how much The Trees might be in conversation with Triffids more than half a century on.

De Abaitua wrote one of the most complex and difficult novels from 2015, If Then, and I still find myself wondering about it at random times. I was so taken by that strange novel about an algorithmic society in decay—a novel that feels so uneven on the surface, yet so complete in substance—I couldn’t articulate my thoughts well enough to write a decent review. Since then, The Destructives has been on my “most anticipateds” list. Placed on a Clarke award shortlist only once before, for The Red Men in 2008, de Abaitua was unaccountably left off the list for If Then in 2016. The Destructives is the latest piece in this abstract thematic series and, given its scope, it seems primed to make up for last year’s Clarke snub.

Any work of fiction is a formal exercise in the controlled release and withholding of information. What is withheld and for how long is a key element in how we read the work and even how we classify it. To give an obvious example, in a detective story in the classical mode it is essential that the identity of the killer is withheld until the last page, the structure of the novel is therefore dictated by the need to steadily release information that leads towards this conclusion without actually pre-empting it. How successful the novel is depends upon the skill with which this information is managed. If too much is given away so that readers can guess whodunnit too early, the work is adjudged a failure; similarly, if too little is revealed so that the denouement comes out of the blue, it is seen as a cheat and again the work fails.

In a recent article for the Guardian, ‘How to build a feminist utopia’, Naomi Alderman briefly sets out some pragmatic measures for helping pave the way to a world in which genitals, hormones and gender identification don’t matter because ‘everyone gets to be both vulnerable and tough, aggressive and nurturing, effortlessly confident and inclusively consensus-building, compassionate and dominant’. Among suggestions such as trying to establish equal parenting as the norm and teaching boys to be able to express their emotions, she also proposes teaching every girl self-defence at school from the age of five to sixteen. In effect, this is what happens in The Power when it becomes apparent that a generation of teenage girls across the world have developed the capacity to emit electric shocks. The only difference is that this doesn’t just allow the girls to defend themselves against male violence but instead enables them to become the aggressors.

(19) STATUARY GRIPE. Copied to Twitter, a grumpy letter to the editor from a “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” type about a proposed Terry Pratchett statue.

(20) TV IS COMING. HBO’s latest series promo, Game of Thrones Season 7: Long Walk.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, rcade, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, David K.M.Klaus, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Dave Kyle Remembered in Photos

Andrew Porter shared these photos of Dave Kyle taken at various Worldcons over the decades. All but the first were taken by Porter himself.

Here is Dave at NyCon II, sitting with bow tie and dark glasses; Larry Shaw at podium, John Campbell and Robert Silverberg to Kyle's left. Porter says, "Not my photo; I was 10 years old."

Here is Dave chairing NyCon II: seated with bow tie and dark glasses; Larry Shaw at podium, John Campbell and Robert Silverberg to Kyle’s left. Porter says, “Not my photo; I was 10 years old.”

Sidney Coleman, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Sidney Coleman, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Walter A. Willis, left, James White, center, and Dave Kyle in 1987. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Walter A. Willis, left, James White, center, and Dave Kyle in 1987. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Lloyd Eshbach, left, Dave Kyle, center, and Erle Korshak at the 1988 New Orleans Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Lloyd Eshbach, left, Dave Kyle, center, and Erle Korshak at the 1988 New Orleans Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Dave Kyle avd Chuck Harris at the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Dave Kyle and Chuck Harris at the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Rich Lynch and Dave Kyle at ConFrancisco in 1993. Photo and copyright © Andrew Porter

Rich Lynch and Dave Kyle at ConFrancisco in 1993. Photo and copyright © Andrew Porter

Andrew Porter wrote about Dave Kyle’s passing:

Yesterday, I saw Dave at Bill and Mary Burns’s End-of-Summer party in Hempstead, Long Island, NY, where he was very frail, but his mind remained sharp and clear. I’m happy to say that many of his fan friends, some of whom he’s known for many decades, were there to greet him and have long talks with him.

Dave was one of science fiction fandom’s very few remaining links (with perhaps only Robert A. Madle and Erle M. Korshak) to pre-World War II fandom, and to the very first World SF Convention. His passing diminishes the field, and pulls the curtain a little tighter between those living today, and the world and fandom as it was.