(1) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Ann Leckie’s train delivered her to Chicago on time for Nebula Weekend, unlike last year when she was delayed by a bacon-related catastrophe.
Gonna try the train to Chicago again. Everybody cross your fingers there aren't any trucks full of bacon between here and there this year.
— Ann Leckie ? (@ann_leckie) May 11, 2016
Coming into Chicago Union Station Soon! The bacon was afraid to meet me this year.
— Ann Leckie ? (@ann_leckie) May 11, 2016
(2) FREE ALLEGED BOOK. Timothy the Talking Cat’s amanuensis Camestros Felapton reports:
Now available from Smashwords, until they decide it is too embarrassing even for them, There Will Be Walrus First Volume V.
Crafted from the finest pixels and using exquisite fonts and typographical metadata, There Will Be Walrus is the ground breaking anthology series from Cattimothy House – the world’s leading publisher of feline edited military science fiction anthologies.
The book comes with additional bonus content and includes features such as:
Spelling and punctuation are used throughout and in many cases radical new and exciting approaches have been taken. Copy-editing has been applied at industry standards as found in top flight Hugo nominated publishers such as Castalia House or Baen Books.
(3) ZINES ONLINE. The University of New Brunswick Library has posted complete scans of a number of classic old fanzines from their collection, Algol, Luna, Amra, Mimosa, four issues of Tom Reamy’s Trumpet, the earliest issues of Locus, and others. Click here.
(4) BETTY OR VERONICA? CW has given series orders to Greg Berlanti’s live-action Archie Comics series Riverdale. Entertainment Weekly says it will look like this:
Set in present-day and based on the iconic Archie Comics characters, Riverdale is a surprising and subversive take on Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will write and executive-produce with Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and Jon Goldwater. Cole Sprouse, Ashleigh Murray, Luke Perry, Madelaine Petsch, Marisol Nichols, and Mädchen Amick will also star.
(5) I COME NOT TO PRAISE THEM. ABC has axed The Muppets. Entertainment Weekly ran its obituary.
The comedy series lasted one 16-episode season on the network after launching to tremendous buzz last fall.
The beloved franchise was given a modern-day, adult-themed makeover by producers Bob Kushell (Anger Management) and Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory). The show also some criticism for trying to make the classic family characters more contemporary, including focusing on their love lives. Midway through the season run, falling ratings prompted ABC to make a major change behind the scenes, replacing showrunner Kushell with Kristin Newman (Galavant), who pledged to bring “joy” to the series. Yet the changes didn’t alter the show’s fate.
(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman has posted Episode 8 of his podcast Eating the Fantastic, in which he dines and dialogs with dual guests, Lynne Hansen, and Jeff Strand.
Lynne is a horror novelist turned filmmaker whose recent short, Chomp, received 21 nominations at a variety of film festivals, winning 7 times, including the Fright Meter Awards Best Short Horror Film of 2015, and Jeff Strand is not only the author of the wonderfully titled horror novels I Have a Bad Feeling About This and The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever (and many others)—he’ll also be the emcee Saturday for the Stoker Awards banquet.
Next episode of Eating the Fantastic, which will go live in approximately two weeks, will feature Maria Alexander, whose debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel
(7) WOMEN FEATURED AT GENCON. Anna Kreider points out “GenCon’s Featured Presenters are 52% female, and that’s a huge deal”.
[Before I start – full disclosure, I am one of the Industry Insider Featured Presenters for this year’s GenCon. So I’m sure that there are those who will say that me writing this post is self-serving arrogance and/or egomania, but whatever.]
The GenCon Industry Insider Featured Presenters for 2016 have been announced, and holy shit is this year’s lineup amazing! Seriously, take a look:
That’s right, folks. There are 13 female IIFPs and only 12 men. This means there are MORE WOMEN THAN MEN, and that is a HUGE FUCKING DEAL, because that is a HUGE amount of change in a really short period of time. To prove it, let’s look at the numbers:
- This year’s lineup is 52% female! (13 out of 25)
- Just five years ago, the lineup was a meager 6.25% female (1 out of 16)
- The current number of female IIFPs has more than tripled in only two years. In 2014, there were only 4 out of 25 (16%)!
(8) MEDICAL UPDATE. It was announced on his blog that Darwyn Cooke is being treated for cancer.
It is with tremendous sadness that we announce Darwyn is now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer. His brother Dennis and I, along with our families appreciate the outpouring of support we have received. We ask for privacy as we go through this very difficult time
(9) BLOG LAUNCH KEEPS UP MOMENTUM. Our Words’ rollout includes Sarah Chorn’s list of future plans
Anyway, things I envision for this website, so you know what to expect in the near future-ish:
1. I am continuing the guest posts. I love them. I think they are interesting, and I love getting diverse perspectives about many, many facets of disabilities in the genre.
2. I have a few interviews out. Yay! And I really want to keep interviews going.
3. I have a few giveaways in the works.
4. I have launched the book club, which I really, really want to take off.
5. I am currently working on doing a series of questions and answers. The idea behind this actually came from a few convention panels I was on, focusing on the topic of disabilities in the genre. After each panel, a host of authors would stand up and ask a ton of very good, very important questions about writing disabilities. So I figured maybe I can try to bring something like that to my website. I’m not exactly sure the format yet, but the idea is that I will get questions about writing disabilities from people who wish to ask said questions, and then I will send those questions to a few disabled genre authors to answer in a panel sort of format. That will take time to figure out, but it will happen eventually.
6. I have received a handful of books this week to review for this website, so start expecting book reviews.
7. I am trying to drum up a bunch of people willing to write about accessibility issues at conventions. There was some noise about this topic last year, but con season is upon us, and I’d like to get some people over here who are willing to write about it. We need to make some more noise about this. It is so important. 8. I am working on getting some people who are willing to write/do regular features over here.
(10) DAN WELLS. Our Words reposted “Dan Wells on Writing Mental Illness”, which originally appeared on SF Signal in 2015.
One in five people in America has a mental illness. One in twenty has a mental illness so serious it inhibits their ability to function. Look around the room you’re in: do you know who they are? Do you know how to help them? Maybe that one in five is you: do you know how to help yourself? The most depressing statistic of all is that no, none of us do. In 2015, Americans with mental illness are more likely to be in prison than in therapy. As a nation and as a culture we are absolutely terrible at recognizing, treating, and coping with mental illness. This needs to change.
(11) JAY LAKE. Our Words has also republished “Jay Lake on Writing With Cancer”, which the late author wrote for Bookworm Blues in 2012.
Cancer is not a disability in the usual sense of that term. It’s not even really a chronic disease, like lupus or MS. Rather, it’s an acute disease which can recur on an overlapping basis until one is cured or killed. Some cancers, such as indolent forms of prostate cancer or lymphoma, can be lived with until one dies of other causes. Other cancers such as pancreatic cancer can move like wildfire, with a patient lifespan measured in weeks or months from diagnosis to death.
My cancer falls somewhere in the mid range between the two. And though I wouldn’t think to claim it as a disability in either the social or legal senses of that term, it has a lot in common with disabilities.
Cancer has affected my writing in two basic ways. First, the disruptions of treatment. Second, the shifts in my own thoughts and inner life as I respond to the distorting presence of the disease in my life.
The treatments are brutal. Surgeries are rough, but they’re fairly time constrained. I’ve had four, a major resection of my sigmoid colon, a minor resection of my left lung, and two major resections of my liver. In each case, I spent three to six days in the hospital, followed by several weeks at home in a fairly serious recovery mode. I was back to writing within a month every time. These days, when I contemplate future surgery (far more likely than not, given the odds of recurrence for my cancer cohort), I budget a month of time lost and all it good.
(12) FIND YOUR OWN INKLINGS. Rachel Motte tells “Why C.S. Lewis Would Want You to Join a Writing Group” at Catholic Stand.
When J.R.R. Tolkien retired from his post at the University of Oxford in 1959, he intended to spend his new-found free time finishing The Silmarillion. Though this book is less well-known than his Lord of the Rings, Tolkien considered it his real work—the work he’d spent decades trying to get back to.
One can easily imagine the newly retired professor, still in his tweeds, bent over his desk, glad to at last avoid the professional obligations that had long kept him from the literary project he loved best. Instead, writes Inklings scholar Diana Pavlac Glyer, he found that the increased solitude hampered his ability to move forward with his favorite project. Glyer explains,
He quickly became overwhelmed by the task. He found himself easily distracted, and he spent his days writing letters or playing solitaire… Tolkien had become increasingly isolated, and as a result, he found himself unable to write. (Diana Pavlac Glyer, Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, p. 117)
You probably think of writing as a solitary activity—and, to some extent, you are right. “Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world,” notes Annie Dillard in The Writing Life. “One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.”
In the best of circumstances, however, that’s not where the story ends. Although we’re right to think of writing as partly a solitary activity, it’s also true that writers—like other artists—benefit from meeting regularly with other creative people.
(13) CRITICAL THEORY. “Russell Letson reviews Judith Merril” at Locus Online.
The Merril Theory of Lit’ry Criticism: Judith Merril’s Nonfiction, Judith Merril (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-093-6, $22.00, 348pp, tp) March 2016.
…Her critical work was more practical than theoretical, but nonetheless systematic and precise. She was a commentator who was also a practitioner, an analyst who was also a fan, with a broad-church sensibility that could not disentangle SF from the cultures that surrounded it.
In The Merril Theory of Lit’ry Criticism, editor Ritch Calvin has gathered and condensed thirteen years’ worth of material into a single volume that includes the introductions and ‘‘summation’’ essays from her long-running series of annual ‘‘Best SF’’ anthologies; book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; and a single long, reflective essay written for the Science Fiction Research Association’s journal Extrapolation. The chronological arrangement allows us to follow Merril as she explores the shape and extent of the modern fantastic, locates particular writers and works in that geography, and develops an aesthetic and historical-social framework for making judgments. (The full texts of all the items are available as an e-book, which is nearly twice as long as the print version. Omitted material consists mainly of individual story introductions from the annual anthologies.) …
(14) LAST YEAR, WHEN WE WERE YOUNG. Matt interviews Andrew J. McKiernan at Smash Dragons.
The title story for your collection is a fascinating tale about survival amidst a strange and very disturbing apocalypse. I’m curious, how did this particular story come about? Where did you draw your inspiration from?
Like pretty much every story I write, it starts with a title. That’s where I thought Last Year, When We Were Young came from. Just a title that popped into my head that I ran with and a story emerged from it. It is always my wife who points out the real life inspirations for my stories, when here I am thinking they’re just stories, fictions. In this case, my father-in-law had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour and the operation to remove it didn’t go too spectacularly for him. At the same time, my own father had a heart attack and I’d just entered my 40s and my eldest son had turned 18. So, the title story is me trying to deal with the fact that we all age, and that it happens so goddamn quickly. We get older, and yet a lot of the time we still feel like we’re kids and teenagers. The first 20 years of our life seem so long and so important and our mind dwells on those times. I’m 45 now, and yet a part of me still feels like I’m 18 and should be out there playing in a band and getting drunk and enjoying myself. Age creeps up on us so quickly. We’re adults before we know it. Mid-life crisis, I guess, the realisation that I had aged and that I really would die one day, and this story was my subconscious way of examining that.
(15) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. George Donnelly will be having a sale a week from today.
Today’s top libertarian fiction authors bring you 99-cent fiction books May 18-20 only. Some are even free. Read on your phone, tablet, browser or kindle
(16) PLANETARIUM PANEL FEATURES CLARKE FINALIST. “Spaceships: Above and Beyond at the Royal Observatory Planetarium”, Greenwich, Thursday, May 26 (18.30-20.30). Click the link for full details and tickets. Here’s the line up:
- Libby Jackson, Former ESA Flight Director now working for the UK Space Agency
- Dr. Adam Baker, Senior Lecturer in Astronautics at Kingston University
- Dr. Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
- James Smythe, Science Fiction author – shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2016
- The panel discussion will be hosted by Tom Hunter, Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
(17) PANAMA GOLD. At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg has posted “Every Fan Fiction I Have Started Writing Once I Found out Emma Watson Was Named In The Panama Papers”.
“Mustn’t complain, though,” Harry said after an odd silence. “That’s what our taxes are for, after all.”
“We don’t pay taxes,” Hermione said. “Taxes are for Muggles.” She extinguished her cigarette in the last slice of cake.
“But you’re –” Harry started.
“I used to be a lot of things,” Hermione said decisively. “I have money now instead.”
Harry stopped at every bar on the way home, until he could no longer remember the look that had entered her eyes as she said it.
(18) PIXAR PRAISE. Kristian Williams’s YouTube video “Pixar–What Makes a Story Relatable” explains why Pixar films work — because at their core, they’re great stories.
(19) ADDRESSEE KNOWN. Not everybody Andrew Liptak outs was very far undercover to begin with: “Guess Who? 15 Sci-Fi Authors Who Used Pseudonyms—and Why” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.
U.K. Le Guin, Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most famous living science fiction authors, but when she sold her story “Nine Lives” to Playboy, her editors asked her to change her name to U.K. Le Guin, fearing that a female author would make their readers “nervous.” Le Guin remembered it as the only time, “I met with anything I understood as sexual prejudice, prejudice against me as a woman writer.” She’s never used a pseudonym again, and “Nine Lives” appears under her own name in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters.
(20) THE NEBULA ON CHAOS HORIZON. Brandon Kempner calls his shot in “2016 Nebula Prediction”.
I’ve spun my creaky model around and around, and here is my prediction for the Nebulas Best Novel category, taking place this weekend:
N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season: 22.5%
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy:22%
Naomi Novik, Uprooted: 14.7%
Ken Liu, The Grace of Kings: 13.3%
Lawrence Schoen, Barsk: 10.7%
Charles Gannon, Trial by Fire: 9.5%
Fran Wilde, Updraft: 7.3%
Remember, Chaos Horizon is a grand (and perhaps failed!) experiment to see if we can predict the Nebulas and Hugos using publicly available data.
(21) A PICTURE AND A THOUSAND WORDS. Defenestration, for reasons that will become obvious, made sure we didn’t miss this Hugo humor.
Andrew Kaye (known in some circles as AK) is the creator of Ben & Winslow and other questionable comics, many of which can be found in his deviantART gallery and his Tumblr. He’s also the editor-in-chief of this magazine. Duh.
I realize a lot of the folks who read Ben & Winslow might not be familiar with the drama that’s surrounded the Hugos lately–you can find plenty of articles and blogs discussing it in more detail than I can spare here. Basically, unlike other major awards, the Hugos are chosen by science-fiction and fantasy fandom. Last year a subset of that fandom got angry with the growing diversity among the award nominees and the subject matter they wrote about (or in other words, the nominees weren’t all straight white men writing adventure stories). They took advantage of the Hugos’ fan-based voting and hijacked the list of nominees with their own choices. The 2015 Hugo ballot was a shambles–many nominees dropped out, and most Hugo voters chose to vote for “No Award” rather than vote for what actually made it to the ballot.
Well, the same thing has happened this year. The same people are trying to control the award. Trying to destroy the award. And if they’re allowed to continue, they’ll succeed. Needless to say, a lot of people are upset about this. To someone unfamiliar with the award, the whole thing looks like a big joke.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Matthew Davis, and Tom Hunter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]