(1) LET THERE BE LIGHT. Besides the Le Guin stamp coming out this year, the United States Post office has announced they will release a series of stamps highlighting images of the Sun captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
…The 20-stamp set features ten images that celebrate the science behind NASA’s ongoing exploration of our nearest star. The images display common events on the Sun, such as solar flares, sunspots and coronal loops. SDO has kept a constant eye on the Sun for over a decade. Outfitted with equipment to capture images of the Sun in multiple wavelengths of visible, ultraviolet, and extreme ultraviolet light, SDO has gathered hundreds of millions of images during its tenure to help scientists learn about how our star works and how its constantly churning magnetic fields create the solar activity we see.
(2) IN DEMAND. How many Hugo winners have AO3’s problem? “People Are Reading So Much Fanfiction It’s Crashing the Biggest Fanfic Website” – Vice has the story. (Well, I used to have that problem, however, it only took 15 people doing a certain thing for it to happen, and now that it’s fixed I don’t need to raise my hand.)
Over the weekend fanfiction website Archive of our Own went down, to the dismay of fanfic readers everywhere. While it’s not the result of any one fic, despite what some fans thought, it’s a reflection of how much the pandemic has changed our fanfiction reading habits.
Archive of our Own is a website to archive transformative works, also known as fanfiction. Fanfiction uses the fictional boundaries of someone else’s fiction in order to tell new stories with those characters and in those universes. While fanfiction is mostly associated with lovesick, teenage Twilight fans who insert themselves into their favorite novels, fanfiction and the associated cultural force of fandom has become the default view of what it means to be a fan. For some fans, especially in particularly online fandoms, reading fanfiction and reacting to it is a huge part of how they express their fandom. Over time, Archive of Our Own has been recognized as both a very popular website and a culturally important one, eventually winning a Hugo Award for best related work.
Over the weekend, Archive of Our Own went down, much to the surprise and chagrin of people who were in the middle of their fics. The beleaguered posting from people who were hoping to relax with the two new chapters of fanfiction like the Mandalorian fic “Rough Day” were funny enough. I only knew about the outage because Kotaku writer Ash Parrish was lamenting that she’d planned an entire night of relaxing with fanfiction, only for the site to go down….
(3) DISCON III. K. Tempest Bradford had one of the more thorough critical responses to Colette H. Fozard’s post about resigning as DisCon III co-chair. Thread starts here.
(4) RENAME THE SPACE FORCE? Once reports circulated that the Biden administration will retire the “Operation Warp Speed” name for its push to vaccinate Americans for the coronavirus, Twitter answered with a suggestion to also eliminate the Space Force name – or the military branch itself.
C. Stuart Hardwick, Analog writer and six-time Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award finalist, offered this defense.
(5) NEW TABLET. Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green, in “The ReMarkable Tablet–First Impressions”, reviews a tool that some writers will find helpful.
After watching the tablet make its way from Hong Kong to various states around the country before reaching the DFW area, I finally have my ReMarkable tablet….
… I’m one of those writers who has to resort to pen and paper from time to time to work through plot problems, etc. I’ve been using my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 2 when I’ve reached that point, taking advantage of the handwriting to text apps. It worked but it never really “felt” right. I knew I wasn’t putting pen to paper. That, in turn, kept reminding me all I needed to do was open an app or the internet and . . . shiny!
The ReMarkable is an e-ink tablet. It doesn’t have a web browser. There are no games. It is a productivity tool only. You can set up folders and notebooks and take notes or draw. You can convert your notes to text. Using the desktop or phone app, you can sync your work between your tablet and your other devices. You can also email your work to yourself or someone else….
(6) A DIVE INTO THE TANK. Cora Buhlert has her second installment of “Fanzine Spotlight: The Drink Tank”.
Today’s featured fanzine is The Drink Tank, a seven-time Hugo finalist (if I’ve counted correctly) and Hugo winner for Best Fanzine in 2011.
And now I’d like to welcome Christopher J. Garcia of The Drink Tank.
Tell us about your site or zine.
I started doing The Drink Tank is in 2005. That series ended in 2015, and I took a 3 year break and started back up with two new co-editors. The concept this time around is that we take a different theme for every issue. Some aren’t SFF, like our issues on The Tower of London or Musicals, but many are, like our look at Science Fiction Comics and Universal Monsters. Our issues range anywhere from 12 to 50-ish pages and tend to be from a wide-range of writers and artists. We’ve been lucky enough to get some amazing material from some amazing people.
(7) WILL GET PAID. SF critic Paul Kincaid shares some good news — he got results after contacting a publisher that had announced a volume containing a reprint of his essay which they did not have permission to use.
It looks like the saga of the Routledge volume is drifting towards a conclusion. Routledge have offered me compensation, which I have accepted. And it looks like a couple of science fiction journals at least are reconsidering their policy on copyright, which is the real principle of the thing. But we do need to be wary about copyright on our essays and reviews from now on.
(8) AURORA AWARDS. The Eligibility Lists for the Auroras are now open for submissions from members of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association.
To view works already submitted, you can view our public eligibility listings. Keep in mind that these will change throughout the eligibility submission period.
You need to be logged in to submit works to the eligibility lists.
If you do do not wish to vote in the Aurora Awards but wish to submit works to the Eligibility lists, please contact us to request a non-voting account.
Eligibility closes February 28, 2021.
(9) CONSTANTINE OBIT. British sff author Storm Constantine (1956-2021) died January 14 at the age of 64. She was primarily known for her Wraeththu series. The author of over 30 published novels and non-fiction books, Constantine’s novel Scenting Hallowed Blood was a British Fantasy Award finalist in 1997. Her story “Priest of Hands” was a nominee for the British SF Association Award in 1993, and “The Oracle Lips” was shortlisted for the Otherwise Award in 1998. Constantine also headed Immanion Press, an independent publishing company she founded in 2003.
(10) RICHMAN OBIT. Many, many genre roles. He was even the Voice of God once —“Peter Mark Richman Dies: Versatile Actor For Broadway, Film, TV Was 93” – Deadline remembers:
Peter Mark Richman… died [Jan 14] in Woodland Hills, Calif. of natural causes. He was 93. Born on April 16th, 1927. …film roles in …Friday the 13th Part 8. In television, … over 500 guest star appearances on such shows as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Fantasy Island, and Star Trek the Next Generation.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- January 15, 1995 — Star Trek: Voyager premiered on UPN. It originally aired from January 1995 to May 2001 on UPN, lasting for one hundred seventy-two episodes over seven seasons. The fifth series in the Star Trek franchise, it served as the fourth sequel to Star Trek: The Original Series. Voyager would be the first Trek series to feature a female captain, Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), as the lead character. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a seventy-seven percent rating overall. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born January 15, 1860 – Eleanor Hull. Co-founder of the Irish Texts Society, honorary secretary thirty years. President, Irish Literary Society. Eight books, some ours e.g. Folklore of the British Isles. Hard to say how much the tale of Cuchulain is fantasy; anyway, see here. (Died 1935) [JH]
- Born January 15, 1913 — Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, but I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed because it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.) (CE)
- Born January 15, 1928 — Joanne Linville, 93. She played the Romulan commander in Trek’s “The Enterprise Incident” episode. She previously starred in the Twilight Zone’s “The Passersby”, and been in two episodes of One Step Beyond as Aunt Mina in “The Dead Part of the House” episode and as Karen Wadsworth in the “A Moment of Hate” episode. She’d have later one-offs on The Invaders, I-Spy and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.(CE)
- Born January 15, 1935 — Robert Silverberg, 86. I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. So what should I have read by him that I haven’t? (CE)
- Born January 15, 1944 — Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if I find sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read his Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.) (CE)
- Born January 15, 1945 — Ron Bounds, 76. A fan who was one of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees. He chaired Loscon 2. He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well. Played the barbarian alongside Jerry Jacks in the immortal Worldcon masquerade entry “Fafhrd & the Gay (sic) Mouser”. (CE)
- Born January 15, 1963 – Bruce Schneier, Ph.D., age 58. He was in Minneapa during its last years, as in a way was I through the Minneapa – APA-L combination (can an apa belong to another apa? why not? of course Tom Digby thought this up). With Karen Cooper he co-authored the Minicon 34 Restaurant Guide, which placed 5th for the Best-Related-Book Hugo. Eventually his interest, and expertise, in electronic security dominated. [JH]
- Born January 15, 1965 — James Nesbitt, 56. Best genre role was as Tom Jackman and Hyde in Jekyll which was written by Steven Moffat. He’s also appeared in Fairy Tales, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man and Outcast. Yes, I know he played Bofur in the Hobbit films. I still consider Jekyll his better by far genre role. (CE)
- Born January 15, 1974 – Shaun Tan, age 47. A score of short stories; mostly known for visual art. Six dozen covers, two hundred interiors. Guest of Honor at Swancon 2004, at Aussiecon 4 the 68th Worldcon. Five Ditmars, two Hugos, one Oscar. Lindgren Award. Greenaway Medal. Here is Lost and Found. Here is The Arrival. Here is City of Birds. Here is Moonfish. Here is The Bird King. Here is A Bear and Her Lawyer. [JH]
- Born January 15, 1986 – Rosamund Hodge, age 35. Seven novels, as many shorter stories. Interviewed in Lightspeed. Has read The Yellow Wallpaper, The Man Born to Be King, Fuenteovejuna, As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, The Divine Comedy, Hide Me Among the Graves, four by Trollope, two by Hambly, one by Heyer (and it’s A Civil Contract, yay). [JH]
- Born January 15, 1989 – Kaveh Akbar, Ph.D., age 32. Two Pushcart Prizes. Levis Reading Prize. Zacharis First Book Award. Medwick Award. Poetry Editor of The Nation. Some of his poetry seems ours; anyway, strange. Here is “The Perfect Poem”. [JH]
- Born January 15, 1999 – Arula Ratnakar, age 21. Two short stories for us, but rather than give you a thousand words I recommend seeing her at Portfolio Lounge. [JH]
(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. It’s time to savor spanakopita with writer/editor Nick Mamatas in Episode 136 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Nick has published fiction in genre publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction and Tor.com, literary journals including New Haven Review and subTERRAIN, and anthologies such as Hint Fiction and Best American Mystery Stories 2013. His fiction and editorial work has been nominated for the Bram Stoker award five times, the Hugo Award twice, the World Fantasy Award twice, and the Shirley Jackson, International Horror Guild, and Locus Awards.
His novels include Under My Roof, The Damned Highway (cowritten with Brian Keene), Love is the Law, The Last Weekend, and I Am Providence, while his fiction has been collected in You Might Sleep, The Nickronomicon, most recently, The People’s Republic of Everything. His writing guide Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life has prevented many a beginning writer from, well, starving, and I suspect also convinced a few to seek a different line of work. Upcoming in 2021, Solaris will be publishing his novel The Second Shooter, and The Planetbreakers Son will appear as part of the Outspoken Authors series from PM Press.
We discussed why there’s a generational divide when it comes to what potential readers might think his upcoming novel The Second Shooter is about, our joint Brooklyn heritage and history with professional wrestling, why he threw away the first dozen stories he wrote, the reason Marvel Comics was always better than DC, his encounters with the famed monologuist Brother Theodore, the first bad book he ever read, the way having been a journalist helps him collaborate without killing his co-writers, why work for hire assignments can be difficult, how we feel about our refusal to pick a genre lane, and much more.
(14) MEMORY LANE.
- 1996 – Twenty-five years ago at L.A. Con III in Anaheim where Connie Willis was the Toastmaster, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age as published by Bantam Spectra the previous year wins the Hugo for Best Novel. The other nominated novels were The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer, The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter, Brightness Reef by David Brin and Remake by Connie Willis. It would also be chosen by Locus as their Best SF Novel of the Year, and garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award as well. It was nominated for a number of other Awards as well.
(15) VAMOOSING THROUGH THE VACUUM. James Davis Nicoll brings us “Five Thrilling SF Stories About Patrolling Space” at Tor.com.
After a painstaking process that apparently consisted of determining from which movie/comic books they wanted to lift a name, members of the US Space Force have officially been dubbed “Guardians.” Whether this is in reference to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy or the interfering blue dome-heads from Green Lantern is unclear. Either way, please enjoy five exciting stories about space patrols patrolling… SPACE!
(16) TOMORROW PRIZE. “Celebrity Guests Read Stellar Sci-Fi by Young Writers” is an online event happening January 16 to raise awareness for The Tomorrow Prize teen sci-fi writing competition. Runs 11:00am – 12:00pm PST. FREE (donation requested). RSVP for the link: B5events.com.
Celebrity guests return to B5 Events for a reading of original sci-fi by young writers! These stories — all finalists of The Tomorrow Prize for short sci-fi competition — are riveting. They’ll make you laugh and they’ll break your heart and you’ll love them all.
The Tomorrow Prize was founded in 2014 to inspire the next generation of sci-fi writing talent and motivate teens to explore today’s pressing issues through the sci-fi lens. The Tomorrow Prize 2021 entry deadline is February 1.
(17) PLAYING THE LOTTERY. “Home inventor accidentally multiplies cat in New York Lottery ad” – Campaign US has the story. Video at the link.
McCann New York’s creative spot dreams up a hilarious invention gone wrong.
New York Lottery brought the laughs in a hilarious new spot featuring an inventor, who unveils a clunky contraption in his garage called “The Multiplier.” His wife tries to get him to play the Lottery X Series scratch off card instead, where he can multiply his winnings. But the man, enthralled by his invention, accidentally clones the family cat, Professor Bunsen. Oops.
(18) REFUGE 31. The Faith in Imagination Series is a three-part series being produced by Refuge 31. The first part, already released, is The Fantasy Makers. The second part is forthcoming, The Science Fiction Makers: Rousseau, Lewis and L’Engle. “This feature documentary examines the unique story of the Christian Science-Fiction sub-genre and three writers that played a role in its emergence.” Diana Pavlac Glyer, one of the scholars interviewed for the documentary, appears in this trailer.
(19) THE GREEN GIRL. That there is a documentary about actress Susan Oliver may be news to you, too, even if it was released in 2014: “The Green Girl Official Trailer (2014)”. She was a qualified commercial jet pilot and a television director as well as an actor. She died of colorectal cancer at age 58.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, James Davis Nicoll, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]