(1) INCOME INEQUALITY. In “#PublishingPaidMe and a Day of Action Reveal an Industry Reckoning”, the New York Times does a roundup of Monday’s Twitter exchange, leading with a focus on Jesmyn Ward. Other authors quoted include N.K. Jemisin and John Scalzi.
…Hand-wringing over diversity is nothing new in publishing — its work force is more than three-quarters white, according to a survey released earlier this year by the children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books — but over the weekend, conversations that have been occurring for years took a turn into public protest.
Using a hashtag, #PublishingPaidMe, that quickly began trending on Twitter, authors shared their advances, which is the amount of money they receive for their books before any royalties, typically based on copies sold, start coming in. The young adult author L.L. McKinney, who is black, started the hashtag on Saturday, hoping to highlight the pay inequality between black and nonblack writers.
“These are conversations black authors have been having with each other and trying to get the industry engaged on for a long time,” she said. While she wasn’t surprised by the disparities that were revealed, she was hurt, she said, by “how deep it went.”
Jesmyn Ward, a critically acclaimed novelist, said on Twitter that she “fought and fought” for her first $100,000 advance, even after her book “Salvage the Bones,” for which she said she received around $20,000, won a National Book Award in 2011. After switching publishers, she was able to negotiate a higher advance for “Sing, Unburied, Sing” — for which she won a second National Book Award, in 2017 — but, she said, “it was still barely equal to some of my writer friends’ debut novel advances.”
…A Google spreadsheet that collected the advances of authors also went viral, amassing nearly 1,200 entries by midday Monday. Its contents were self-reported and could not be independently verified, but many entries were detailed with the genre of book, the race, gender and sexual orientation of the author, as well as what the authors were paid. Of the 122 writers who said they earned at least $100,000, 78 of them identified as white, seven as black and two said they were Latin American.
(2) TOP LGBT SF. Rocket Stack Rank has posted their annual list of “Outstanding LGBT Science Fiction & Fantasy short fiction from 2019”. These 30 stories are finalists for major SF/F awards, included in year’s best SF/F anthologies, and recommended by prolific reviewers. Here are some of their observations about the list.
- 13 are Lesbian, 6 are Gay, 10 are Bisexual, 1 is Trans/NB (click link to jump to the section).
- 19 of the 30 stories are free online (click link to highlight)
- No author has more than one story in this list.
- 2 of the stories were written by Astounding Award-eligible writers.
- Prolific reviewers with the most recommendations here are Karen Burnham @ Locus (10), Maria Haskins @ Barnes & Noble (8) and Rocket Stack Rank (8).
- Each of the 11 magazines covered by RSR (except for Interzone) had at least one recommended LGBT story.
(3) ROWLING CRITIC. At LitHub, “How JK Rowling Betrayed the World She Created. Gabrielle Bellot on Transphobia and Growing Up with the Harry Potter Universe”. One of many pieces responding to Rowling’s tweets of a few days ago.
Time and time again, I’ve become accustomed to having to defend my womanhood when public figures declare that transgender women are not “real” women. Sometimes, I want to quietly sit back, avoiding the stress of having yet another prolonged argument with people who will call me “sir” at best and a rapist who should be euthanized at worst—for all trans women, the argument goes, are just men who want to sneak into women’s locker rooms to do nefarious things. It’s emotionally and spiritually exhausting to debate your identity; sometimes, you just want to log off social media and take a walk or hug someone you love for support, curling up in your own small safe harbor, where, at least for a bit, no one is accusing you of being a freak, a pervert, an abomination who does not belong in the annals of this Earth….
(4) ROWLING REPLIES TO CRITICS. On her website today, “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues” a 3,600-word explanation of her views that also includes a previously undisclosed personal history of sexual assault.
….But endlessly unpleasant as its constant targeting of me has been, I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces. Polls show those women are in the vast majority, and exclude only those privileged or lucky enough never to have come up against male violence or sexual assault, and who’ve never troubled to educate themselves on how prevalent it is….
(5) DOOM PATROL TRAILER. HBO Max dropped a trailer for the second season.
The Doom Patrol isn’t done with the weird just yet! See what the team’s been up to in Season 2, starting with 3 new episodes on June 25.
(6) COLORADO CON CANCELLED. COSine, Colorado Springs’ annual convention, has joined the ranks of the postponed. What’s unusual is – this was a January 2021 event, and it’s being bumped to 2022.
Fortunately, all of our guests have agreed to come in 2022! You can read the official announcement here.
(7) THE GLUE THAT HOLDS IT ALL TOGETHER. Frank Catalano says “It’s weird to cross streams between education conferences and the Nebula Conference, but I did it. With a photo, in EdSurge.” — “Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Remote Education Conference Woes and Wows”. Frank’s wide-ranging review of virtual conference techniques includes these notes of praise for SFWA’s recent Nebula Conference.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America moved its annual Nebula Conference for professional writers in late May online. Yes, it had good moderators, snappy sessions and well-oiled combinations of online tools over its three days. But it also had something that helped replicate the physical experience.
In advance of the event, paid registrants received an unexpected package in the mail containing a four-page color schedule, a printed name badge and a short tumbler glass etched with the name of the event. To make those post-session Zoom happy hours more … happy.
Now that’s an organization looking to the future of virtual conferences.
(8) POD PERSON. Michael Dirda confesses: “All the books in my 300 boxes sparked joy. The lockdown made me rethink why I was keeping them” in the Washington Post. He really did end up giving some of the books away. A few.
… It was clear to my lightning brain — I’m not a Sherlockian for nothing — that I needed to free up space in the storage pod before I could put more boxes into it. There was, I deduced, just one way to accomplish this: I would have to start selling or giving away some of my books right now rather than later. But which ones should go? Obviously, I would keep personal favorites such as James Salter’s “A Sport and a Pastime,” Marilynne Robinson’s “Housekeeping,” Frederick Exley’s “A Fan’s Notes” and John Crowley’s “Little, Big,” as well as books I still hoped to read (Samuel Richardson’s “Clarissa,” Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene,” Cao Xueqin’s “The Story of the Stone”) or reread (Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” Boswell’s “The Life of Samuel Johnson,” Stendhal’s nonfiction, Macaulay’s essays, dozens of ghost-story collections, lots of P.G. Wodehouse, Edmund Crispin and Evelyn Waugh). I’d also retain material need for writing projects — mainly that popular fiction in the attic — and, not least, the first or special editions worth more than $100, including signed books by Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison and Hunter Thompson.
So, picture me two weeks ago, as I sat on a white plastic lawn chair inside a gigantic metal oven, picking up book after book and only occasionally feeling a Kondoesque spark of joy amid many spasms of regret.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- June 10, 1950 — Dimension X aired “The Green Hills of Earth”. Based on Robert Heinlein’s short story which originally appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on February 8, 1947, the title refers to a song that Heinlein wrote fragments of here and the filk community has filled out the lyrics down the years. It was adapted here by Ernest Kinoy who also did the same task at X Minus One. You can listen to it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born June 10, 1918 — Barry Morse. He was Prof. Victor Bergman on Space: 1999, and he also appeared on the Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, The Invaders, TekWar, The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury Theater, Space Island One, Memory Run, The Shape of Things to Come and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2008.) (CE)
- Born June 10, 1918 – Frank Hamilton. He didn’t invent the Shadow, or Doc Savage, but he illustrated them excellently. We in fandom know about Mipple-Stipple; his stippled style defies us to call it mundane. Here is an FH Shadow on the cover of Frank Eisgruber’s Gangland’s Doom; here is the FH cover for a Doc Savage tribute; both with lots of interiors. Here is a note from ThePulp.net with a 1982 FH self-portrait; here is a note from “The Shadow” wiki. Find, if you can, his Amazing Pulp Heroes (with Link Hullar’s text). (Died 2008) [JH]
- Born June 10, 1922 – Judy Garland. For us this star shines in the MGM Wizard of Oz – winning her only Academy Award. I love the Oz Frank Baum wrote; in the MGM version much is right; and otherwise, as a law school professor of mine said – of a major figure with whom he disagreed vigorously – There is a sense in which a genius can’t be wrong. The rest of her career was such a tragedy because there too she earned such glory. (Died 1969) [JH]
- Born June 10, 1935 – Yoshiro Tatsumi. He coined geika for a development of manga he preferred; see here. I can’t go along with calling it more realistic, or saying that’s better – I had this quarrel with people when Watchmen first appeared – but Tatsumi-san was a genius, and we could stand knowing more about SF and related art of Japan. Here is the cover for his memoir of 1945-1960 A Drifting Life (English version); here is a Wikipedia article about it; here is an article about geika and manga; here is an article in the Lambiek Comiclopedia with panels showing his work. (Died 2015) [JH]
- Born June 10, 1937 — Luciana Paluzzi, 73. She is best known for playing SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. She also appeared in Hercules as Iole’s maid, The Green Slime as Doctor Lisa Benson, Captain Nemo and the Underwater City as Mala and The Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping as Contessa DeRojas. (CE)
- Born June 10, 1942 — Jürgen Prochnow, 78. I thought he was a rather good Duke Leto Atreides in Dune. It certainly was the best of the genre films he did around that time as The Keep, Terminus and The Seventh Sign were pretty awful horror films. Much better was Robin Hood where he was Sir Miles Folcanet. Then there’s Judge Dredd where he’s Judge Griffin… I’ll end his genre with his role as Cdr. Paul Gerald in Wing Commander. (CE)
- Born June 10, 1951 — Charles Vess, 69. If you ever need a crash course in learning about his art, go find a copy of Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess which lavishly covers his career up to a decade ago. I’ve got a personally signed copy here along with lots of his artwork. He’s had interesting career including the Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated. I strongly recommend the illustrated version of Stardust he did with Gaiman as it’s amazing. (CE)
- Born June 10, 1952 — Kage Baker. I never met her but we had a decade long conversation via email and once in a while via phone. We were supposed to write a Company concordance for Golden Gryphon but she got too ill for it to happen. Harry the Space Raptor is now living with her sister Katheleen. The two of them were also frequent attenders of Ren Faires were they set up a tavern and sold various sales. Kage had a deep fascination with Elizabethan English. (Died 2010.) (CE)
- Born June 10, 1953 – Don Maitz. Two hundred thirty covers, a hundred twenty interiors from this luckily prolific artist; two Hugos, one Worldcon committee special award, ten Chesleys; World Fantasy award; Society of Illustrators Silver Medal. Two art books, First Maitz (he created the image of Captain Sir Henry Morgan 1635-1688 for Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum) and Dreamquests; two sets of Don Maitz Fantasy Art Trading Cards. Guest of Honor at – among others – Boskone 18, Lunacon 28, Loscon 19, Minicon 49, Balticon 27, and Lonestarcon 2 the 55th Worldcon (1997). Here is his cover (with his wife Janny Wurts) for The Darkest Road. Here is his cover for his Worldcon’s Souvenir Book. [JH]
- Born June 10, 1962 – Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, M.D., Ph.D. Author, physician, Professor of Medicine at Tanta University. Two hundred books in both Egyptian Arabic and Classical Arabic; also in Web-based magazines. Refaat Ismael of his Beyond Nature series is a retired bachelor doctor with a sarcastic attitude who keeps having paranormal adventures. In Utopia Egyptians live in a dystopian and utopian (or as I should say cacotopian and eutopian) society separated by walls; translated into English, Finnish, French, German. Cheryl Morgan interviewed him in Locus 614. (Died 2018) [JH]
- Born June 10, 1964 — Andrew M. Niccol, 56. Screenwriter / producer / director who wrote and produced one of my favorite genre films, The Truman Show. The film won him a Hugo at Aussiecon Three. He also was involved in Gattaca, The Terminal, In Time, The Host, The Minutes short videoand Anon. Sort of genre adjacent is that he‘s been announced as the screenwriter for a live version of the Monopoly game but it is still in development. (CE)
- Born June 10, 1986 – Amanda Havard. In The Survivors and two sequels Sadie Matthau searches for answers about her family who survived the Salem witch trials through supernatural abilities; on an Immersedition interactive book application are AH’s original music, and maps, photos, background, commentary; a syndication at Wattpad.com has had 5 million readers. Independent Publisher‘s Editor’s Choice award, eLit bronze medals for Fantasy – Science Fiction and Young Adult. [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Get Fuzzy — comic combinations.
- “We Need a Trick to Feel Our Joys as Deep as Our Griefs”, written by Eric Kaplan and drawn by Eleanor Davis, explores the emotions connected with the euthanizing of a pet.
(12) TO PUT A POINT ON IT. James Davis Nicoll curates “Five SFF Works Inspired by RPGs”.
… Herewith, some works with RPG DNA: works that you may not know and may like, featuring the now familiar teams of skilled adventurers—don’t call them murder hobos—using their diverse skill set to solve problems. Usually by stabbing them.
(13) BATWOMAN POST RUBY ROSE. Entertainment Weekly explains that “Batwoman is replacing Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane with a new character”.
Just because Batwoman plans on introducing a brand new character to pick up the titular hero’s mantle in the wake of Ruby Rose’s exit doesn’t mean the CW superhero drama will forget about Kate Kane. In fact, Kate’s absence will baked into the show’s second season in the same way that Bruce Wayne’s was in the first season.
[…] “To be honest with you, I did consider the ‘soap opera version’ [of recasting] for a hot minute, because selfishly we already had a couple episodes written, and transition-wise it would be seamless,” [showrunner Caroline Dries] said, according to TVLine. “But upon further reflection — and I think [Arrowverse EP] Greg [Berlanti] helped me make this call — he’s like, ‘I think we should just reboot Batwoman as a different character.’” She went on to explain that this decision allowed them to honor Rose’s work in season 1 while also not forcing the audience to put a new face to a character they’d already spent time getting to know.
(14) IT’S A BIRD…IT’S A PLANE. Well, it’s a very small one. Gizmodo informs us “Google’s Drone Delivery Service Now Dropping Library Books to Kids”.
Book-loving kids in Christiansburg, Va., are about to get a special delivery to ease the boredom of summer quarantine (and months of being stuck at home). Google will soon start dropping books to kids via its drone delivery service, Wing, according to the Washington Post. Now they can get their hands on a copy of The One and Only Bob (if they don’t already own it).
… Google’s book delivery service is an extension of the company’s drone service, which first partnered with FedEx and Walgreens to deliver over-the-counter medicines and other items to Christianburg residents last October. That pilot program has continued throughout the pandemic. Wing also partnered with local restaurants to deliver meals to residents; that service also saw an increase in demand during quarantine. Google has been testing Wing since 2014, when the drones made their first test flights in Queensland, Australia.
(15) STANDING DOWN. NPR reports: “IBM Abandons Facial Recognition Products, Condemns Racially Biased Surveillance”.
IBM will no longer provide facial recognition technology to police departments for mass surveillance and racial profiling, Arvind Krishna, IBM’s chief executive, wrote in a letter to Congress.
Krishna wrote that such technology could be used by police to violate “basic human rights and freedoms,” and that would be out of step with the company’s values.
“We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies,” Krishna said.
The nationwide demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd already have led to changes to police departments around the country – over use of force policies, police misconduct and police contracts.
The moment of reckoning over the country’s relationship with law enforcement also comes as artificial-intelligence researchers and technology scholars continue to warn about facial recognition software, particularly how some of the data-driven systems have been shown to be racially biased. For instance, the MIT Media Lab has found that the technology is often less successful at identifying the gender of darker-skinned faces, which could lead to misidentifications.
People interviewed by the BBC expressed doubts:
Privacy International’s Eva Blum-Dumontet said the firm had coined the term “smart city”.
“All around the world, they pushed a model or urbanisation which relied on CCTV cameras and sensors processed by police forces, thanks to the smart policing platforms IBM was selling them,” she said.
“This is why is it is very cynical for IBM to now turn around and claim they want a national dialogue about the use of technology in policing.”
She added: “IBM are trying to redeem themselves because they have been instrumental in developing the technical capabilities of the police through the development of so-called smart policing techniques. But let’s not be fooled by their latest move.
“First of all, their announcement was ambiguous. They talk about ending ‘general purpose’ facial recognition, which makes me think it will not be the end of facial recognition for IBM, it will just be customised in the future.”
The Algorithmic Justice League was one of the first activist groups to indicate that there were racial biases in facial recognition data sets.
(16) ANOTHER RWA REFORM. Romance Writers of America, in “Dreamspinner Advocacy”, admits they didn’t adequately pursue the missing author payments from this publisher under the previous regime. They’re gathering statements to work on it now.
As we lay the foundation for RWA 2.0, one of the Board of Directors’ priorities is to strengthen RWA’s professional relations advocacy. To this end, we are reviving our advocacy efforts with respect to Dreamspinner Press and its missing author payments. Previous advocacy on this matter did not properly or fully address the issues, leaving many members unsupported. This is unacceptable and antithetical to our mission, and the Board and staff are committed to doing everything we can to support our members now to the greatest extent possible.
We will be reaching out to Dreamspinner Press to demand payments due to our members on behalf of our members who request that we do so. We also will be working with RWA’s attorney to explore all of our options in this matter. We will keep the membership updated on this process.
We would like to hear from any member who is a Dreamspinner Press author about your situation and what you would ideally like to see from our advocacy efforts. Also, if any members would like to contribute accurate, verifiable statements about their experiences with Dreamspinner Press to be used both in outreach to the publisher and in a potential public statement to better inform both members and non-members about the situation, we are collecting those by June 30, 2020.
(17) A CLOSER LOOK. “Planet’s satellites aim for still sharper view of Earth” — examples, and one picture just for drama.
When SpaceX puts up another batch of its Starlink satellites in the coming days, there’ll be three spacecraft from the Planet company catching the same Falcon rocket ride to orbit.
These companies – SpaceX and Planet – now operate the largest commercial constellations above our heads. SpaceX at over 450 satellites; Planet at more than 150.
SpaceX is targeting broadband communications; Planet is all about Earth observation, and this next launch marks a big milestone in the San Francisco outfit’s plans.
These next three platforms that go up with SpaceX will go into Planet’s SkySat network.
Already this comprises 15 spacecraft. The satellites were lowered in recent months from 500km in altitude to 450km, to increase their resolution. They now see any feature on the Earth’s surface larger than 50cm.
With the addition of the soon-to-launch threesome, and a further three about a month later, Planet will then have 21 of the high-resolution imagers circling the globe. At that point, the SkySats will be able to see any spot on the ground (cloud permitting) on average up seven times a day.
(18) MORE ON THE ANDROID BLIT. “‘How my photo ended up breaking Android phones'”.
Gaurav Agrawal, a scientist and amateur photographer living in San Diego, couldn’t believe it when he suddenly started seeing a photograph he took last summer popping up on the news.
He took it at St Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, one “magical evening” in August 2019.
He shared the snap on photo platform Flickr and thought no more about it.
However, a glitch meant that when the image was set as wallpaper, it caused some Android phones to fail.
The handsets would switch on and off repeatedly, requiring a factory reset which meant all data on them was wiped.
Last week, a tweet about the bug went viral – and Mr Agrawal contacted me.
…”It was a magical evening,” Mr Agrawal told the BBC of the night he took the photo, in the park with his wife. It was their third trip there, in pursuit of the perfect picture.
“It was gloomy and cloudy, and we thought there wasn’t going to be a great sunset. We were about to leave when things started to change.”
He grabbed the shot on his Nikon camera, and later did a small edit using the editing software Lightroom.
And that’s where the bug crept in.
Lightroom gives three colour-mode options for exporting the finished result – and the one he picked is the one that seems to confuse some Android handsets.
(19) MM-MM-GOOD. “Italian woman prepares olives during brain tumour operation”.
Brain operation patients have been asked to play the violin or the guitar during surgery, but until now there is no record of anyone stuffing olives on the operating table.
A 60-year-old Italian woman did just that during a procedure to remove a tumour from her left temporal lobe.
The neurosurgeon at Ancona’s Riuniti hospital said the two and a half hour procedure “went very well”.
His patient is said to have prepared 90 olives in the space of an hour.
Awake brain surgery, as it is known, is used to treat some neurological conditions such as tumours that affect the areas of the brain responsible for vision, movement or speech. To help the surgeon try to inflict minimal damage on healthy tissue, the patient can be asked questions or engaged in an activity during the operation.
As the left temporal lobe controls speech, memory and movement of the right part of the body, neurosurgeon Roberto Trignani told Ansa news agency the method “allows us to monitor the patient while we work on their brain functions and to calibrate our action”.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Seven of Nine And The Doctor Singing ‘My Darling Clementine'” on YouTube is another clip of Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo singing from Star Trek: Voyager.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Jeanne Jackson, Mike Kennedy, Jeffrey Smith, Michael Toman, Eric Wong, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]