(1) SHOULD GEORGIA BILL HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR DRAGON CON? Georgia has passed a controversial voting bill reports CNN. Some think Dragon Con should take a stance, a few say they won’t attend while the law is in effect.
The new law imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.
“It’s like the Christmas tree of goodies for voter suppression,” Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan said on the Senate floor as lawmakers prepared to vote on the nearly 100-page bill Thursday.
Republicans cast the measure, dubbed The Election Integrity Act of 2021, as necessary to boost confidence in elections after the 2020 election saw Trump make repeated, unsubstantiated claims of fraud.
By Thursday evening, a lawsuit challenging the new law had already been filed by a trio of voting rights groups: the New Georgia Project, the Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise Inc.
Editor Walt Boyes raised some possible implications for Dragon Con, held annually in Atlanta, in the following statement sent for publication. (Boyes adds: “I am speaking for myself, not for Ring of Fire Press, and I haven’t talked to anybody at Dragon Con.”)
In the last 24 hours, the Republicans of the state of Georgia passed a draconian set of voter restrictions, the like of which has not been seen since the Jim Crow laws. It is clear why they have restricted voting, even to the point of making giving water to people on line to vote illegal. They know that the Republican Party cannot win in a standup fair contest and they are trying one more thing to stack the deck against black and brown voters and progressives of all stripes.
If Dragon Con has any respect for democracy, I would hope they would use their huge footprint and buying power to suggest that the State Legislature rethink their voter restrictions, and if the Legislature doesn’t, Dragon Con should leave Georgia. This is a major, essential moral choice.
Several people have tweeted comparable thoughts:
It would be interesting to learn whether Dragon Con leadership has influence beyond the purely economic that could be brought to bear on the situation. As to their economic leverage, looking at the communications Dragon Con has been putting out, they’re still in suspense whether they can do an in-person con in 2021. If social media pressures the committee to pre-emptively threaten not told hold an event that’s already in jeopardy, then what happens next?
(2) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. N.K. Jemisin shared a joyful milestone with Twitter followers:
(3) CORY DOCTOROW ON AUDIO RIGHTS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the current issue of Locus, the premier trade journal/news magazine/site for the sf, fantasy & horror etc. book-etc. industry, this interesting article on why Cory eschewed Amazon for his audiobooking: “Cory Doctorow: Free Markets”. He “buries the news lede” ~12 paragraphs down:
…2020 was a hard year, but for me, it had a bright spot: In September, I launched and executed the most successful audiobook crowdfunding campaign in history. I made $267,613. In the space of a month, I went from worried about my family’s finances to completely secure about our ability to pay our mortgage and taxes and add a good chunk to our retirement accounts. It was an extraordinary month.
But I wish I hadn’t had to do it….
(4) ECCLESTON, THAT’S WHO. Nerdist sets the frame for the “New Trailer for Christopher Eccleston’s Return to DOCTOR WHO” – audio adventures from Big Finish.
Even though 16 years have come and gone since Eccleston regenerated into David Tennant, he doesn’t sound like he’s aged a day. Good for a Time Lord, to be honest. There’s still the excitement, the swagger, the kind of dopey optimism hiding deep trauma that was present in 2005. We only had an all-too brief 13 episodes with the Ninth Doctor, but with Big Finish’s Ninth Doctor Adventures line, he’s basically going to double that….
(5) GOLDEN AGAIN. [Item by rcade.] In “Cyborg Ghosts, Space Dragon Boats, and the Deep Roots of Chinese Sci-Fi” at Sixth Tone, the translator and writer Xueting Christine Ni argues that Chinese science fiction has entered another golden age:
During China’s first two sci-fi booms, in the 1950s and 1970s, respectively, writers tended to focus on technological utopias and issues such as international politics, scientific ethics, and extraterrestrial encounters. Currently, however, we can see a general movement in the arts, whether conscious or not, to reestablish a link with China’s cultural heritage. …
After decades of looking primarily to Western writers for inspiration, whether Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, or William Gibson, Chinese authors’ fascination with the interaction between old customs and new technology reflects a society-wide revival of interest in Chinese traditional culture and cultural pride.
… But when kehuan authors connect their work to these traditions, they’re not simply reveling in the past — China’s bookshelves are already groaning under the weight of all the works dedicated to that particular pastime. Rather they’re acknowledging that China and its people are still intrinsically linked to its traditions and its history, and that collective experience and belief will remain important in the future. Whether this heritage is a net positive or negative depends on how it is used: Some writers see in it the potential for exploitation, while others choose to portray the past as the key to saving our shared humanity.
(6) BREAKTHROUGH IN HUNGARIAN WEIRD. [Item by Bence Pintér.] Horror small press Valancourt Books is going to publish a short story collection by the best Hungarian horror/weird author and screenwriter Attila Veres. Veres first published his dark, grotesque, and darkly humorous short stories at Lovecraftian fanzine The Black Aether. After this he debuted at professional publisher Agave Books in 2017 with the weird apocalyptic novel Odakint sötétebb, which became an overnight sensation. In 2018 he followed this up a short story collection, Éjféli iskolák, which is widely read outside usual genre circles also. His short story ‘The Time Remaining’ was included in The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories anthology in 2020.
Horror and weird is a novelty in Hungary, especially books which are dealing with Hungarian realities. Veres started the trend with his deeply imaginative, frightening and personal stories, in which political questions are often there in the background. In these short stories Hungary is reflected in a distorted, often shattered mirror, portrayed with a touch of black humor.
(You can read more about his books in English here: “Discover The Old Continent: Ninety Remarkable European Speculative Books From The Last Decade”.)
The collection will be published by Valancourt in 2022, and it will include ten stories: seven will be translated from Éjféli iskolák, and there will be three new ones from his next collection. This is also huge news for Hungarian speculative fiction generally, since this will be the first Hungarian speculative book (I know about) to be published in translation in the US since…ever? (I say this with a nod to Hugo winner Bogi Takács – who writes mostly in English.) I hope this will start a trend!
The original announcement is here on Facebook.
(7) RETURN OF HARLEY QUINN. Warner Bros. Pictures dropped a restricted trailer for The Suicide Squad. View it on YouTube.
(8) THE RELEVANCE OF DOOMSDAY BOOK. The NoCo Optimist profiles a local literary lion: “Renowned science fiction author and Greeley resident, Connie Willis, sees ‘Doomsday Book’ come to life amid pandemic”.
… The funny thing is, she loves history, even more than science fiction. As a result, she’s read shelves of books. That’s why, in “Doomsday Book,” you have an assistant in modern times who worries about the college running out of orange juice as people come down with a mysterious and deadly infection, and an old woman in the 1300s who believes the plague is a punishment from God, and a group of bell ringers from America who are more worried about their rights to perform being taken away under a quarantine than keeping others safe.
Does all this sound familiar?
People, in other words, worry about dumb things as the world collapses around them, Willis said. There are many examples of that in “Doomsday Book,” even though she wrote the book in 1992, when people would think “pandemic” was the name of yet another grunge band inspired by Nirvana….
(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to “Bite into BBQ with Zig Zag Claybourne” in Episode 141 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
My guest this time around is Zig Zag Claybourne, the author of The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan and its sequel Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe. His other works include By All Our Violent Guides, Neon Lights, In the Quiet Spaces, and the short story collection Historical Inaccuracies. His fiction and essays have appeared in in Apex, Galaxy’s Edge, GigaNotosaurus, Strange Horizons, and other venues.
We discussed how creators can self-define their success to avoid jealousy and despair, why he’s always preferred Marvel to DC, how he’d annoy his family with his love of the original Star Trek, the two professors who showed him he could be a writer, why the title is the soul of a story, the most important pointer he received after reaching out to romance writer Beverley Jenkins for advice, why he does some of his best writing in the bathtub, how dialogue reveals character, whether his wild duology will ever become a trilogy, how to survive toxic fandoms, and much more.
(10) BEVERLY CLEARY OBIT. The great children’s book author Beverly Cleary died March 25 at the age of 104 reports HarperCollins.
… By the third grade she had conquered reading and spent much of her childhood with books from the public library. A teacher suggested that she should write for boys and girls when she grew up, and the idea appealed to her. But after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley (where a dormitory is named in her honor) she specialized in librarianship at the University of Washington, Seattle (which today honors her contribution to Northwest literature with the Beverly Cleary Endowed Chair for Children and Youth Services).
Her early dream of writing for children was rekindled when “a little boy faced me rather ferociously across the circulation desk and said: ‘Where are the books about kids like us?’” Henry Huggins, his dog, Ribsy, and the gang on Klickitat Street, including Beezus and her younger sister, Ramona, were an instant success with young readers. The awards came later, beginning with a Newbery Honor in 1978 for Ramona and Her Father and one in 1982 for Ramona Quimby, Age 8. She received the 1984 John Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw, which was inspired by letters she’d received from children.
Mrs. Cleary has also been honored with the American Library Association’s 1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the Catholic Library Association’s 1980 Regina Medal, and the University of Southern Mississippi’s 1982 Silver Medallion, all presented in recognition of her lasting contribution to children’s literature. In addition, Mrs. Cleary was the 1984 United States author nominee for the prestigious international Hans Christian Andersen Award.
In 2000, to honor her invaluable contributions to children’s literature, Beverly Cleary was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress; in addition, she was awarded the 2003 National Medal of Art from the National Endowment for the Arts….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- March 26, 1989 — On this day in 1989, Quantum Leap premiered. Created by Donald P. Bellisario (Tales of The Golden Monkey, AirWolf), it starred Scott Bakula as the time-travelling Sam Beckett and Dean Stockwell as his holographic contact from the future, Admiral Al Calavicci. The series would air on NBC for five seasons gaining a large following after a mediocre start. It has a stellar 97% rating by the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born March 26, 1850 — Edward Bellamy. Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is really the only work that he’s remembered for today. It’s interesting if more than a bit stilted in its language style. He wrote two other largely forgotten works, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. (Died 1898.) (CE)
- Born March 26, 1907 – Betty MacDonald. So well known for The Egg and I that e.g. Los Angeles had an omelette-restaurant-and-art-gallery called “The Egg and the Eye”. For us, two dozen stories about a magical Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle; as a boy I thought them jolly fun, re-reading later I saw they were about bad children who through magic got their comeuppance. (Died 1958) [JH]
- Born March 26, 1928 – G. Harry Stine. Two dozen novels, a score of shorter stories; two dozen “Science Fact” columns in Analog, ten dozen of “The Alternate View”; essays, letters, reviews there and in Destinies, Far Frontiers, Omni. Nonfiction e.g. Rocket Power and Space Flight, Handbook of Model Rocketry, The Third Industrial Revolution, Halfway to Anywhere. Founded Nat’l Ass’n of Rocketry. Chaired Nat’l Fire Protection Ass’n Technical Committee on Pyrotechnics. (Died 1997)
- Born March 26, 1929 – David Lake. Ten novels, eight shorter stories. Ditmar Award. Guest of Honour at Quasarcon. Introduction to Oxford Univ. Press ed’n of Wells’ First Men in the Moon. Often seen in Foundation, SF Commentary. (Died 2016) [JH]
- Born March 26, 1931 — Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer Limits, Night Gallery and Get Smart. And then there’s the matter of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” which due to a copyright claim I can’t show you him performing. (Died 2015.) (CE)
- Born March 26, 1945 – Rachel Holmen, age 76. Editor at Locus; at Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. “Quilter, knitter, folk musician/singer … bad gardener … girl geek … used to be part of TeamB.” [JH]
- Born March 26, 1950 — K. W. Jeter, 71. Farewell Horizontal may or may not be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Though I generally loathe such things, Morlock Night, his sequel to The Time Machine , is well-worth reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions please. (CE)
- Born March 26, 1952 – Gary Mattingly, age 69. Co-founded Kansas City SF Society. First President of Metro Detroit SF Society, Inc., sponsor of AutoClave; co-chaired AutoClave 1. Co-chaired Ditto 2 (Ditto, a brand of spirit duplicator). Special Guest at Corflu 4 (corflu = mimeograph correction fluid). AutoClave, so far as I know, the first fanziners’ con; Ditto, Corflu followed. [JH]
- Born March 26, 1953 — Christopher Fowler, 68. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though explicitly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects (some such as Seventy Seven Clocks are definitely genre) but all are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him which I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror. (CE)
- Born March 26, 1979 – A. Igoni Barrett, age 42. One novel for us. Outside our field, two collections of shorter stories. Won BBC World Service short-story competition. Charles Dickens Award. “My best ideas come from south of my head. So whatever a reader asserts I was doing in my stories is probably right. Or possibly wrong. Each day I keep discovering myself in others’ reading of my work…. The only thing I set out to do was to show my head that I could write from my gut.” [JH]
- Born March 26, 1985 — Keira Knightley, 36. To my surprise and this definitely shows I’m not a Star Wars geek, she was Sabé, The Decoy Queen., in The Phantom Menace. Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann. I saw her as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note was as The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy! (CE)
(13) ADLER. File 770 will be the penultimate stop on Titan Comics’ Adler blog tour next week. Adler is written by Lavie Tidhar.
(14) DOORS OF PERCEPTION. Michael Dirda tells Washington Post readers: “Muriel Jaeger, a trailblazing science fiction author, deserves a new look”.
Somewhat surprisingly, London’s venerable British Library has emerged as a major player in the reissuing of early-20th-century popular fiction. After immense success with a line of Golden Age mysteries, it recently added imprints devoted to classic weird tales, women’s novels from before World War II and early science fiction. The BL’s trade paperbacks are uniformly handsome, well printed, augmented with illuminating introductions and priced around $12.50. Some titles are issued in the United States by Poisoned Pen Press, while the others can be ordered online or through your favorite bookstore. Nearly all are worth seeking out.
Consider, for example, “The Question Mark” and “The Man With Six Senses,” both by Muriel Jaeger. Originally published in 1926 and 1927 by Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press, the two novels are H.G. Wellsian works of technological, political and social extrapolation. The first depicts a socialist utopia of the 22nd century, and the second tracks the life of a flawed “superman” and the effect of his powers on himself and those closest to him. In both, action is subordinated to argument, as the characters converse about society, class, sex and marriage, religious belief and human evolution….
(15) BRUTAL HUMOR. From The Onion: “Woman Relieved She No Longer Has To Support Closed Bookstore”. (Too short to excerpt.)
(16) IT BUGS HIM. Leonard Maltin covers a nonfiction film with fannish appeal: “Curiosity Is The Key”.
… Attack of the Murder Hornets sounds like the title of a cheesy 1950s science-fiction film. It is, instead, a droll documentary about a very real threat to the Pacific Northwest that could have spelled disaster for the already depleted bee population of North America. Michael Paul Stephenson, whose resume includes Girlfriend’s Day and Best Worst Movie keeps a straight face, so to speak, as he documents the discovery of these winged invaders by a working-class beekeeper and his family, who count on the revenue they derive from home-made honey to supplement their monthly budget. They join a motley band of government scientists, researchers, and do-gooders to form a posse that is determined to locate and eradicate these murderous insects from Japan. All the participants are earnest, some a bit quirky, but Stephenson allows us to judge them for ourselves as this amusing, low-key suspense yarn unfolds….
(17) JENNINGS WINS KAYMAR AWARD. The National Fantasy Fan Federation announced that Bob Jennings was unanimously voted as winner of the Kaymar Award.
Three cheers for Bob! The Kaymar Award is traditionally given in April every year, supposedly because the N3F was organized in the month of April. We’re a bit early for once. The selection is made by a committee, consisting of previous winners who are still in the club, from nominations submitted by members. The award, unlike other awards in fandom, can be awarded only once. It is not given for talent or for popularity, but for work — work for the benefit of the club and its members. The award is a memorial to K. Martin Carlson [1904-1986], who originated, maintained, and financed it for 25 years. Carlson was a long-time N3F member who held many positions in the club, including club historian. He went by the fan name of Kaymar.
(18) BE THE GAME. The Verge’s Sam Byford shares the experience of visiting Universal Studios Japan’s new park-within-a-park: “Super Nintendo World review: sensory overload”.
… The experience of stepping through the pipe and into Super Nintendo World is honestly amazing. The architecture is so complete, and your view of it so well-directed, that it really does feel like you stepped into another world. I love that the designers went for a blocky, 2D-esque style for much of the environment — it would have been easy to go with something more conventional given that there are now a lot of 3D Mario games, but this approach is much more evocative. Rather than attempt to replicate a particular Mario game, the mashed-up style just screams “Nintendo.”
… The Mario Kart ride is the most ambitious attraction I’ve ever seen at a theme park. It’s essentially an AR action game set on a go-kart track, where you’re drifting through the virtual course and firing virtual shells at virtual opponents — as the kart moves through the track in real life.
The ride is located inside a re-creation of Bowser’s castle, with lots of well-crafted Mario Kart paraphernalia to look at as you line up. (The queue was fast-moving on my visit and took about half an hour in total, though I imagine wait times will be a lot longer when the park is at full capacity.) Inside you’re given a plastic Mario hat that fits onto your head with an adjustable disc, a little like a PlayStation VR headset….
(19) DRAGON A TRAILER. In “Honest Trailers: Raya & The Last Dragon” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the film has nothing to do with the 1985 kung-fu cheesefest The Last Dragon, and that the film has an evil baby “who feels like an exchange student from the Boss Baby franchise” and a waterfall that seems so real “it looks like a water deepfake. If I were real water, I’d be worried!”
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A 2016 post from Petapixel about a video on Vimeo: “This Animation Was Created Using Old Photos from the Early 1900s”. I may have run this remarkable short at the time, but it’s making the rounds again and will be new to some of you.
Here’s an amazing short film titled “The Old New World” by photographer and animator Alexey Zakharov of Moscow, Russia. Zakharov found old photos of US cities from the early 1900s and brought them to life.
The photos show New York, Boston, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore between 1900 and 1940, and were obtained from the website Shorpy.
It’s a “photo-based animation project” that offers a “travel back in time with a little steampunk time machine,” Zakharov says. “The main part of this video was made with camera projection based on photos.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, rcade, Bence Pintér, Walt Boyes, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, PJ Evans, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]