By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, September 8, 2020 (Star Trek Day), the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series opened its 30th Season virtually (and perhaps virtuously) with a reading by Michael Swanwick from his extraordinary collaboration with the late Gardner Dozois, The City Under the Stars. The event was hosted by Series producer and executive curator Jim Freund, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf on WBAI-FM, and was live on Facebook and posted to the Series’ page for later viewing. (Tech was handled by Barbara Krasnoff, and Amy Goldschlager was the virtual audience’s “Question Wrangler.”)
Michael Swanwick, a longtime reader at the Series, is the author of ten novels, including Vacuum Flowers, Stations of the Tide, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, Jack Faust, Bones of the Earth, The Dragons of Babel, Dancing With Bears, Chasing the Phoenix, and The Iron Dragon’s Mother; and roughly 150 stories. Notable among his non-fiction is Being Gardner Dozois, a book-length interview. He has been honored with the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, the World Fantasy Award, and the Hugo Award. (He has frequently noted that he has “the pleasant distinction of having lost more major awards than any other science fiction writer.”)
Gardner Dozois was, of course, the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for almost 20 years, winning the Hugo Award as the year’s Best Editor 15 times. He was also honored with the Locus Award, the Nebula Award and the Sidewise Award, inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and the Skylark Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction. He was the author or editor of more than a hundred books.
The evening opened with a discussion between Swanwick and Freund (who proudly displayed his very own Darger and Surplus pen). The book that became The City Under the Stars was long in the making, said Swanwick. Dozois began the story in 1972, but hit a snag. He handed a cardboard box with his unfinished manuscript to Swanwick and asked if he could turn it into a novella. Swanwick said he saw a way – “I lied” – but later did see a plotline. “The City of God” (now the first half of this novel) was published in Omni and Asimov’s. The novella was “bleak,” “dark,” and “a little more downbeat than the Book of Job, without the happy ending.”
Its ending seemed to preclude any sequels, but, over the decades, he and Dozois “talked over what might come next” and how a longer, complete story would end; Dozois had “an uplifting idea” for how to give it “a surprisingly happy ending.” They planned to write two more novellas, “The City of Angels” and “The City of Men,” however, midway through the second novella, Gardner Dozois died.
Subsequently, Swanwick returned to the project – now a memorial to Dozois – because “I wanted the world to see this genuinely happy ending.” Aiming to “keep Gardner’s vision,” he revised and combined both novellas, and changed the direction of the work in progress. As he wrote on Tor.com, Swanwick “made of them a novel I think Gardner would have been pleased with. The ending is exactly what Gardner envisioned all those decades ago. A happy one. For everyone. When I wrote the last words of it, I cried.”
Swanwick’s reading selection was from the very beginning of Chapter 1, opening in Orange, NY. The protagonist, Hanson, is part of a crew digging in a pit for and shoveling coal to feed the machines. From there, though, he can see the City of God, “perfect and inviolate.” It’s an “astonishingly depressing story.” After that “bleak” passage, “things get even worse and worse.” He later enters the City of God, but that’s not yet “the happy ending” by any means.
Hanson, Swanwick surmised, was based on Dozois himself, “a blue-collar kid who grew up in the factory town of Salem, Massachusetts. … His sympathy was with the downtrodden.” Despite his image of being “large and jolly,” Dozois was “shy and private.” He knew that by becoming editor of Asimov’s, he was effectively ending his writing career, and his output did decrease.
Answering Freund about his own path, Swanwick said that he decided to become a writer after reading The Lord of the Rings; he wanted to make an impact like that. Another influence or impetus was his father’s early onset Alzheimer’s. This segued into a Q&A, with questions from Carol Gyzander, Ian Randal Strock and Gregory Frost, among others.
Swanwick reminisced about a collaboration of his with Dozois and Jack Dann, “An Afternoon at Schraft’s,” which was eventually published in a themed anthology with one title. His personal favorite Dozois story is “A Special Kind of Morning,” a war story. In his collaborations with Dozois, “Gardner was always the alpha male,” with say on the final draft. He reminisced about hosting the Milford-style workshop “Philford.” He met Dozois shortly after he (Swanwick) came to Philadelphia, through a friend of a friend. Eventually, Dozois shrugged and offered to make suggestions on “your sucky stories.” Swanwick is currently working on short stories for Tor.com. Final words: “Don’t let your babies grow up to be writers.” (It’s a funny business, he observed. On the same day, he received checks for $9 and $1,400.)
The next reading, announced Freund, is Tuesday, October 6th, with C.L. Polk and will be guest-hosted by Amy Goldschlager. As a postscript, he noted that the software being used was “not free” and suggested that donations be made via PayPal (details are on the Series’ Facebook page). Finally, he noted again that this was the first reading of the Series’ 30th Season, also Series founder Gordon Van Gelder’s birthday – and Star Trek Day.
There seem to be a lot of cooks hovering over the broth:
Benioff and Weiss executive produce under their Bighead Littlehead banner along with the company’s newly installed president, Bernadette Caulfield. [Rian] Johnson, Ram Bergman, and Nena Rodrigue executive produce via T Street Productions. [Brad] Pitt executive produces with along with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B Entertainment. [Rosamund] Pike and Robie Uniacke executive produce for Primitive Streak. Lin Qi, chairman of Yoozoo Group and The Three-Body Universe, and Zhao Jilong, vice president of The Three-Body Universe, also executive produce.
…Author Liu Cixin and accomplished sci-fi writer Ken Liu, who translated the English versions of the first and third books, serve as consulting producers.
The article quotes Liu Cixin:
“I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting ‘The Three-Body Problem’ for television audiences,” said Cixin. “I set out to tell a story that transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole. It is a great honor as an author to see this unique sci-fi concept travel and gain fandom across the globe and I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.”
…Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the US earlier this year, campaigns like Biden’s have been forced to entirely rethink how they organize voters. Instead of in-person rallies, Biden’s team has opted for live-streamed events and fundraisers along with socially distanced productions and interviews. The entire Democratic National Convention was held virtually earlier this month, with most guests streaming in over video software like Zoom to deliver speeches.
The Biden-Harris campaign released four sign designs for players to download, featuring the official Biden-Harris logo, Team Joe logo, the “Joe” Pride logo, and an image of aviator sunglasses shaded in red, white, and blue. Players will be able to access the designs in-game by scanning the design QR codes through the Nintendo Switch Online app.
…Millions of people have picked upAnimal Crossing: New Horizons since its initial release in March, and the Biden campaign is hoping to engage that large base with their new merch. “Animal Crossing is a dynamic, diverse, and powerful platform that brings communities together from across the world. It is an exciting new opportunity for our campaign to engage and connect Biden-Harris supporters as they build and decorate their islands,” Christian Tom, director of digital partnerships for the Biden campaign, said in a statement to The Verge. “As we enter the final campaign stretch towards November, this is one way we are finding new creative and innovative ways to meet voters where they are and bring our supporters together.”
…The first panel I watched was “Fantasy for YA vs. Adults”, featuring Alma Alexander, Farah Mendlesohn, Sherwood Smith and Kathryn Sullivan. I picked this panel over the horror panel going on at the same time, because I knew and liked the panelists. There was some concern in the chat that the panelists were all white. And indeed, more diversity would have been nice, especially considering what a diverse field fantasy in general and YA in particular is.
Talking of the chat, unlike other recent virtual conventions, NASFiC opted not to use the Zoom chat, but have the Discord chat side by side with the panel. From the POV of an audience member, this was a lot better than having to switch between Discord and Zoom in different tabs/windows. Though I’m not sure how it was from the POV of a panelist, since panelists and moderators can more easily see questions, when they are asked in the Zoom chat…
(5) MASTERING DUALITY. Sarah Gailey’s Personal Canons series continues with “Abhorsen”.
…When I first read the Abhorsen books, I was very young, and I was just starting to grapple with questions of identity, duality, and choice. Bound up in those questions was a larger, overarching question of worth. I felt certain that if I didn’t answer those questions about myself correctly, I’d lose some degree of goodness. Bit by bit, parts of me would tarnish; I’d become Bad, and there would be no place in the world for me. That feeling was too much. I couldn’t face it.
But in Garth Nix’s books, I saw that perhaps the answers could be more complicated than I realized. In Sabriel, I saw that feeling afraid and unprepared didn’t have to mean surrender, so long as I could be resourceful and stubborn. In Lirael, I saw that it’s possible to survive the crushing feeling that life is unsurvivable.
This reading marks the beginning of our 30th Season! Sadly, we cannot all join together for a fete, but over the course of time, we’ll figure something out. We wish to experiment with simulcasting the reading on our traditional home here on Facebook, but also try simulcasting it on YouTube. We’ll be testing this through the week so be sure to check back here to find out where to log in.
On Tor.com, Michael Swanwick wrote: “Almost a quarter century ago, Gardner Dozois and I published “The City of God,” now the first half of this novel. It ended with a slam, seemingly precluding any sequels. But over the decades Gardner and I talked over what might come next. We planned to write two more novellas, “The City of Angels” and “The City of Men,” which would tell one long, complete story. One with a happy ending.
Yes, Gardner could be a bleak writer. Yes, the novella was dark even for him. But he had an uplifting idea for how the book would end. We discussed it often. We were midway through the second novella and aiming at that happy ending when, without warning, Gardner died.
I knew I would never write that third novella without his input, his genius. Nevertheless I wanted the world to see this genuinely happy ending. So I changed the direction of the work in progress, combined both novellas, divided them into chapters, and made of them a novel I think Gardner would have been pleased with.
The ending is exactly what Gardner envisioned all those decades ago. A happy one. For everyone.
When I wrote the last words of it, I cried.”
(7) NOT TOO LATE TO TUNE IN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]“Arthur Charles Clarke discusses science fiction” at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive is a 1959 interview Studs Terkel conducted with Clarke where Clarke discusses his novels Childhood’s End and Earthlight, explains why he thought sf was not escapist, and said that “I’m a moral vegetarian, although I hate vegetables.”
…The series trailer (watch it above) sets up the premise of Camp Cretaceous: A group of six teenagers are trapped at a new adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar. When the events of the film unfold and dinosaurs are unleashed across the island, each kid realizes their very survival rests on the shoulders of themselves and their fellow campers. Unable to reach the outside world, the six teens will go from strangers to friends to family as they band together to survive the dinosaurs and uncover hidden secrets so deep they threaten the world itself.
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous premieres September 18 on Netflix.
The new interactive site, live now, invites users to experience a behind the gates look at Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. At CampCretaceous.com, users can tour the campgrounds, get up close with dinosaurs, check out tree top cabins and a zipline, among other adventures.
(10) GOSPEL OR BLASPHEMY? Chris Mooney, in “You Don’t Have To Be A Genre Writer To Explore Genre” on CrimeReads, says his desire to put sf elements in a suspense novel led him to explore other works that combine sf and suspense, including novels by Colson Whitehead, Margaret Atwood, and Sir Kazuo Ichiguro.
…Sometimes when you mix things together, the results are amazing, even spectacular. As I was writing Blood World, I realized that almost of my all-time favorite books—the ones that had the greatest impact on me—were from authors who successfully incorporated elements from more than one genre. And now, it’s mid-August, the height of vacation season, and if, like me, you find yourself stuck in your backyard on a “staycation,” or lucky enough to live near a beach, you can do no better than these definitive, intelligent, page-turning, genre-bending classics.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
September 1, 1950 — Dimension X’s “The Roads Must Roll.” Based on the Robert Heinlein story that first was published in Astounding Science Fiction in the June 1940 issue, it would first be broadcast on this date on NBC in 1950. It would win the Retro Hugo for Best Novella at MidAmericon II, the same year that OGH won another Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Jason Bolander, Norman Rose and Karl Weber were the cast. You can listen to it here. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 1, 1875 — Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Now I’d not necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I would note that he has largely fallen out of public notice once again. So what’s your favorite works by him? The Barsoom stories are mine. (Died 1950.) (CE)
Born September 1, 1928 – Shelby Vick. Edited Planetary Stories 2005-2017. Edited a new (i.e. 2013, centuries after the original) volume of Sindbad stories (with E. Erdelac & E. Roberts; unable to resist the spelling “Sinbad”), writing one. A score of short stories around then. Leading fan since the 1940s. Introduced Lee Hoffman (to some of us, after this incident, “Hoffwoman”), to Bob Tucker. Started WAW with the Crew in ’52 bringing W.A. Willis to Chicon II the 10th Worldcon. Organized, if that word may be used, Corflu 16 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable); brought as a guest to Corflu 29. Rebel Award. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born September 1, 1942 — C. J. Cherryh, 78. I certainly think the Hugo Award-winning Downbelow Station and Cyteen are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners. Anyone familiar with “Cassandra“, the short story she won a Hugo for at Seacon ‘79? What’s it part of? (CE)
Born September 1, 1943 – Filthy Pierre, 77. So unassumingly and widely helpful for so long he was at length given the Big Heart (our highest service award) and more locally made a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; its service award). With Marilyn Wisowaty (as she then was; also F.N.) compiled The Blackdex and Bluedex indexing SF prozines. FP being a filker is often at hand during an SF con and, when waiting is, inspires song, accompanying us on the current version of the Filth-O-Phone. Made the well-named Microfilk, an early filk index. Filk Hall of Fame. Invented the Voodoo Message Board. Fan Guest of Honor at Albacon 2010, Baltcon 52. Under a transparent pseudonym has conducted the SF Conventional Calendar for Asimov’s since 1977. [JH]
Born September 1, 1951 — Donald G. Keller, 69. Editor and critic. Co-edited Phantasmicom with Jeff Smith (1969-1974). A contributor to The New York Review of Science Fiction in the early Nineties which is where his “The Manner of Fantasy” essay appeared. He also edited The Horns of Elfland anthology with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. Inactive genre wise for a decade now other than being a member of the editorial board of Slayage, the online Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies. (CE)
Born September 1, 1952 – Brad Linaweaver. Productive pro writer found lovable by many because of or despite proclaimed libertarian opinions. A dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors. Artbook anthology Worlds of Tomorrowwith Forrest J Ackerman. Interviewed William Tenn for Riverside Quarterly. Two Prometheus Awards. Phoenix. Heinlein’s brass cannon bequeathed to him. (Died 2019)
Born September 1, 1954 – Larisa Mikhaylova, Ph.D., 66. Editor, critic; translator including Cadigan and Le Guin. Editor-in-chief, Supernova. Organizer of conferences on Ivan Yefremov, co-ordinator of preparing his Complete Works. Biography of HE in J. Francaville ed., Harlan Ellison. “Shore Leave Russia” on Star Trek fandom in Russia, Eaton Journal of Archival Research in SF. Academic Secretary, Russian Soc. Amer. Cultural Studies. [JH]
Born September 1, 1961 – Jacinta Escudos, 59. Mario Monteforte Toledo Central American Prize for Fiction. Collection, The Devil Knows My Name (in Spanish, i.e. El diablo sabe mi nombre). Anthologized in And We Sold the Rain, Lovers and Comrades, You Can’t Drown the Fire. Widely known outside our field. Blog here (in Spanish). [JH]
Born September 1, 1964 — Martha Wells, 56. She’s has won a Nebula Award, a Locus Award, and two Hugo Awards, one for the “All Systems Red” novella at WorldCon ‘76, and the other for her “Artificial Condition“ novella at Dublin 2019. Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Diaries are a truly amazing reading? (CE)
Born September 1, 1967 — Steve Pemberton, 53. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in the Gormenghast series and Harmony in the Good Omens series as well. (CE)
Born September 1, 1974 — Burn Gorman, 46. Best known for his roles as Owen Harper in Torchwood , Karl Tanner in the Game of Thrones, Philip Stryker in The Dark Knight Rises and also as Hermann Gottlieb in Pacific Rim and the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising. Like so many of his fellow Torchwood performers, he’s been active at Big Finish where he’s been in nine Torchwood stories to date. (CE)
Born September 1, 1978 — Yoav Blum, 42. Software developer and author. First novel translated (from Hebrew), The Coincidence Makers. Ranks Guards! Guards! about the same as Winnie-the-Pooh. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Ziggy listens to an outburst about an unfair evolutionary advantage.
Off the Mark comes up with one of those times when you shouldn’t count on Superman to save your life.
….I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut in recent weeks, but one book that I’ve been enjoying is The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars by Jo Marchant. It’s out today, and Marchant takes a slightly different tack on the history of astronomy: she looks at not how humanity discovered the stars and planets, but how it impacted our development as a civilization. It’s an excellent example of multidisciplinary history, looking at archeology, science, mathematics, and of course, astronomy. I highly recommend it.
If you’re looking for other books coming out this month, here are 22 science fiction and fantasy ones hitting stores that you should check out.
(15) THE STICKS HAVE BEEN HEARD FROM. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, who has been without the internet most of the time during the pandemic, broke out of isolation to update “Concatenation Science Communication News”.
Prior to CoVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2, neither abode being connected to the internet was not a problem (not even required) as regular internet access was available at college, volunteer work offices as well as learned society Fellows rooms’ and public libraries’ cybercafes (plus even hotels when travelling). However, with SARS-CoV-2, access to these has ceased. This means no e-mail communication since 20th March 2020 and this will not resume until we get a vaccine and restrictions are lifted. So if you have e-mailed, now you know why you have not had a response.
All other (non-e-mail) communications are working fine…
More news at the link.
He also tweeted assurance that there will be an autumnal edition of SF2 Concatenation as contributors have been snail-mailing contributions in on memory sticks.
… The material that this movie is based upon is Max McLean’s one man stage play that chronicles the Narnia author’s journey from atheism to Christianity… Although a filmed from the stage version of this production is already available on DVD, the new movie version will be entirely different with a full cast shooting at historic locations from C.S. Lewis’s life.
“The difference about this play is it’s going to be on location all over Oxford. We have full access to Maudlin College, The Kilns, the church, [and] various other places that are mentioned in the play. Instead of it being a one person show, it’s going to be a multi-actor show. I’ll play the older Lewis, we’ll have a boy Lewis, a young Lewis in his 20’s, cast his mother, his father, Tolkien, Barfield, Kirk, among others, and that is going to begin shortly.”
In March 2020 the entire world of Fellowship for Performing Arts came to a complete standstill. The New York based theatrical organization had been selling 2,000 tickets a week for their four productions, but that quickly dropped to 0 tickets a week and there is no expectation that live theater will resume until 2021. More than 30 FPA shows have been canceled because it is far too dangerous to hold any public gatherings in the United States.
“Since our plays have all shut down, we’ve moved up our feature film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s conversion story. That was designed to be a 2021/2022 project, well we’ve moved it up to September and October of this year. I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the UK to begin shooting in mid-September (I have to quarantine for two weeks before we begin shooting).”-Max McLean
Norman Stone is the producer of this movie. This award-winning British director also directed Shadowlands (1985), C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia (2005), and The Narnia Code (2009).
(17) WILL CROWDFUNDING LET THEM MAKE THEIR TEASER TRAILER? The Kickstarter for “BAÏDIR – the animated series”, a space-opera animated series, looks to be far from funding, having raised only $29,266 of its $35,968 goal and the appeal ending September 6.
This is an epic, modern, ecological, and family fable…
It tells the initiatory path of a hero willing to do anything to locate his sister, and thus restore the family’s lost balance. It is also a story that echoes a much broader collective quest. At stake: restoring our planet’s lost environmental equilibrium.
Baïdir is a series designed to span three parts, each composed of 8 episodes of 26 minutes. The genre varies from adventure to science fiction with a good dash of fantasy.
Born from the imagination of Slimane Aniss, then enriched by the graphic universe spun by Charles Lefebvre and Thierry Rivière, Baïdir got its first teaser in 2009. Several years later, in 2012, the concept for the series was purchased by a first production studio. This resulted in a second teaser being hatched. Then several years after that, Andarta Pictures managed to acquire the rights to the work. At long last, work could begin on building the narration and the universe, thus allowing it to take shape for the television screen.
Baïdir is a project that has garnered quite a lot of interest during its various development phases. There is a massive amount of fan art on social networks. This crowdfunding campaign will allow us to breathe life into this whole universe and to tell the story of Baïdir and his friends at last.
Join Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, and a panel of experts for a livestream debate and question-and-answer session to discuss how life may have formed on Earth and explore what alien life might look like elsewhere in the universe.
What criteria do we use to classify life as we know it? Should the criteria be revised as we look for life on other worlds? The debate will bring together scientists from different fields–Nathalie A. Cabrol of the SETI Institute, Vera Kolb of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, Carol Cleland of the University of Colorado, and Max Tegmark of MIT–to share their creative ideas for what forms life might take in an extraterrestrial environment and what these predictions can teach us about life on our own planet.
(19) HO, HO PHO. Archie McPhee has “Ketchup, Shiitake And Pho Candy Canes” ready for the holiday season – whatever holiday that may be. (“National Flash on Your Carpet Day”?) Wait – they seem to think it’s Christmas!
This year’s Archie McPhee candy canes are here! We’ve got three crazy flavors to make your Christmas more delicious than ever. Ketchup Candy Canes are fresh-from-the-bottle candy that tastes just like America’s favorite condiment. Shiitake Mushroom Candy Canes have a mushroom flavor that will make Christmas morning even more fungus than usual. And, finally, Pho Candy Canes are un-pho-gettable!
[Thanks to N., John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Contrarius, Michael Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day O. Westin.]
Award-winning author Dr. Charles E. Gannon is a Distinguished Professor of English and a Fulbright Senior Specialist. A recipient of five Fulbright Fellowships and Travel Grants and is a Nebula finalist, his book Rumors of War and Infernal Machines won a 2006 American Library Association Choice Award. His latest sci-fi novel, Marque of Caine, is the fifth book in his Caine Riordan series. It has been two years since Caine was relieved of his command for following both his orders and his conscience. Now he’s finally received the message he’s been waiting for: a summons to visit the ancient and enigmatic Dornaani; the same Dornaani that still have his mortally wounded love, Elena Corcoran. As clues and new threats push Caine’s quest beyond the edge of known space, he discovers that the Dornaani empire is in decline, meaning his beloved Elena is now only half the mission…
Signed bookplates are available for books purchased through the shop. Indicate the request in the comment field at checkout. All bookplate orders are due July 13, and will be are arriving separately from the books free of charge.
By Mark L. Blackman: The Beatles entered my consciousness not
through the bathroom window but with my brother telling me about a new singing
group with “haircuts like Moe” of the Three Stooges. (Decades later, he watched
Sir Paul perform in Tel Aviv.) Soon after I saw their landmark first appearance
on Ed Sullivan. By then Beatlemania had
erupted – the moptops were the Fab Four – everyone had to get them into their
lives. We followed their long and winding road from sweet love songs to India
and Sergeant Pepper and The End.
friends visited from England, they made a pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields – a
place to go – then across the street to the Dakota.
time of year is a sad one for Beatles fans. Last month saw the anniversary of
George’s death, next week will be that of John’s murder. A celebration of their
music, fame and legacy, what they meant, something to say that it’s O.K. and
make us feel good in a special way, is most welcome. We saw a reminder of their
status as The ’60s Icons last summer as fans gathered on the 50th
anniversary of Abbey Road on, where
else?, London’s Abbey Road.
on the evening of Tuesday, December 3rd – Giving Tuesday
– at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in Brooklyn, the New York Review of
Science Fiction Reading Series hosted a launch party (we’re going to a party
party) for Across the Universe, an anthology
of 25 freaky and twisted (and shouted) speculative fiction
stories about the Beatles and alternative variations of the still-Fab Four.
Edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, the ticket to ride features
what-ifs by Spider Robinson, Jody Lynn Nye, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Lawrence
Watt-Evans, Allen Steele, Pat Cadigan, Gregory Frost, Gregory Benford, Matthew
Amati, Ken Schneyer, Bev Vincent, Patrick Barb, Gail Z. Martin, Barbara Clough,
Eric Avedissian, Alan Goldsher, R. Jean Mathieu, Beth Patterson, and Christian
Smith, coming together, plus the, um, Fab Five readers of the evening: Charles Barouch, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Carol Gyzander,
Gordon Linzner, and Sally Wiener Grotta.
As we gathered, Beatles tunes played to get us into
the spirit of things. The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive
curator Jim Freund, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf (with WBAI-FM back on
the air, he’s no longer sitting in a nowhere land) welcoming the audience to
the last reading of 2019. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would be on
Facebook Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, plugging that the Café’s
kitchen would be open through most of the evening, and announcing that next
month’s readers (January
7th) would be Hildy Silverman and A.C. Wise (though without
glitter). He reminded those who can to donate to the Series ($7
is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned away due to lack of
funds), and reported that the home audience may donate on its Patreon page, Jim
Bringing up guest host and the book’s co-editor Randee
Dawn, he reported that Across the Universe is actually the second such
anthology, the first being All Together
Now, edited by James Ryan. Dawn is a Brooklyn-based author and
entertainment journalist who focuses on speculative fiction, but is co-author
of The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. After
recounting how she and Ventrella pretty much simultaneously came up with the
idea, presented it to Ian Randal Strock of Fantastic Books and launched a
Kickstarter campaign to realize it, she introduced the evening’s first reader.
Sally Wiener Grotta is the author of The Winter Boy and Jo Joe, a journalist and the co-curator of the Galactic
Philadelphia author reading series. She read from her story “The Truth Within,”
in which George goes to Key Biscayne and tries to get Nixon interested in
(“hooked on”) transcendental meditation: “Imagine a chilled Nixon at peace with
himself. … And poof! No more carpet bombing and napalm.”
Carol Gyzander, writer of various crossgenre ’punk
stories and the second reader, read from “Deal with the Devil”, which is one
answer to “how did the Beatles get so good?” Set in Liverpool after their
return from playing clubs in Hamburg (Pete Best is still their drummer), two
kids, fans of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne, using black magic to connect
with their idols, instead reach – through their old black and white “telly” –
Next up was Gordon Linzner, founder and former editor
of Space & Time Magazine, author of The Spy Who Drank Blood, and who, as lead singer of the Saboteur
Tiger Blues Band, has covered a fair share of Beatles songs. His story alludes
to a tv show with four protagonists, “The Hey! Team.” With John as leader and
wacko Richard “Ringo” Starkey in the Murdoch role, they try to prevent the
abduction of Chuck Berry’s guitar Maybellene, while being pursued by Colonel
Pepper (he was promoted).
“The Perfect Bridge,” Charles Barouch’s quickie was
another time travel story. A computer programmer in 1978, using a “Yellow
Subroutine,” reaches across to 1967 to plant an Appleseed.
the intermission, a raffle was held for those who donated, with three prizes:
from Carol Gyzander’s What
We’ve Unlearned; Sally Wiener
Grotta’s Jo Joe; and Gordon Linzner’s
The Spy Who Drank Blood. Freund
reported that the Brooklyn Commons was starting a series or festival of short
subject films and invited us to sign up electronically at a terminal up front.
Opening the second half of the show was Keith R.A.
DeCandido, who is perhaps best known for his media tie-in work across “33
different universes, from Alien to Zorro.” In “Used to Be,” which is set sort of in his “Precinct” fantasy
police procedural series, the Beatles are recast as Jahn, Gyorg, Paol and
Starki, D&D tropes (Jahn is a bard, Starki a barbarian).
Filling in for the scheduled final reader, Dawn read Matthew Amati’s “Apocalypse Rock.” Set in an alternate
history where the U.S. lost JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis gamble, four musicians
wander a postapocalyptic landscape of gangs and cannibal mutants to a battle of
the bands at the titular site.
Then, in a bonus, the book’s publisher (“the guy who
writes the checks”), Ian Randal Strock, read “Rubber Soul” by Spider Robinson.
In the 1985 story, John is resurrected 24 years after his death at 40, making him…
Finally, it being a party party and all the world is birthday
cake, Dawn brought out a huge cake (though not honey pie or marshmallow pie) decorated
with a copy of the cover art by Dave Alvarez. (I took a piece but not too much.)
The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a
small assortment of books. The audience of close to 80, counting Freund and the
readers, included Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok,
James Ryan and Susan Bratisher Ryan.
It was a hard day’s night.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
(1) STAR WARS FAN. Craig Miller’s book, Star Wars Memories is now available in paperback
and as an eBook on Amazon.
Craig Miller was the original Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm, working on “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back”. As part of that, he was a publicist, a writer, an editor, and a producer. He wrote press material and articles, created and ran the Official Star Wars Fan Club, oversaw a staff who opened and responded to the seeming tons of fan mail the films received, worked with licensees, created a telephone publicity stunt that accidentally shut down the state of Illinois’ phone system, was the producer on projects ranging from episodes of “Sesame Street” to commercials for Underoos (“underwear that’s fun to wear”), operated R2-D2, and spent weeks hanging out on the set of “The Empire Strikes Back”. “…It’s a book of stories you haven’t heard before; an insider’s look from someone who, himself, is a fan and found the whole experience joyful and exciting. These stories are told in a way that brings you in and makes you feel like you were there.”
(2) HOWLING AGAIN. Jim Freud’s long-running sff-themed radio
show “Hour of the Wolf” on New York station WBAI was one of the casualties when
Pacifica closed the station down, claiming
the non-for-profit could no longer support WBAI and its multimillion-dollar
debt. But a state court ruling has restored power to the people, so to speak: “‘A
victory for free speech’: WBAI is back on air” – the Brooklyn Daily
Eagle has the story.
… Until Nov. 6, Pacifica had only complied with half of the ruling, keeping WBAI staffers on payroll. But after New York State Supreme Court Judge Melissa Crane ruled in favor of WBAI Wednesday, the Brooklyn-based station finally regained control of its own programming….
One of the first programs back on air, White said, was the station’s science fiction talk show, “Hour of the Wolf.” Shortly after the shutdown, the show’s host Jim Freund vowed in an interview with the Eagle that he would dedicate his first show back to fielding questions from listeners about the shutdown.
And that’s exactly what he did, White said. “We have a lot of work to do in dispelling some of the misinformation that’s out there,” he said.
(3) MORE CHIZINE INFORMATION. Some deeper dives into ChiZine’s
finances amplify things learned from the last two days’ revelations.
… A publisher does not get every amount of grant money they vie for. BUT, in a year where you get OAC and Canada Council for the Arts block operating grants you can pull in something close to $60,000. CZP also vied for the OMDC Book Fund, though as far as I know was not successful in that aim – you know, that fund they kept promising I could get paid out of if they acquired it. They later sought additional aid from the OMDC (unsuccessfully as I recall, though others can speak to what happened after I left in 2015). I don’t know that CZP ever got Toronto Arts Council block operating grants. Though I know they were looking to apply at various points. But your revenue has to be up over $100,000/year as a threshold. I don’t know that CZP ever hit that.
I recall a lot of the numbers because, along with others, wrote a lot of those arts council grant and other granting body applications. It was shared work. And multiple grant applications were successful.
CZP also applied for, and on different fronts and in different years received, project-based operating grants for both the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, and the annual SpecFic Colloquium conference. And sought funds over the years for the CZP/Rannu Fund fiction contest (though I could not tell you without more digging into my emails whether that ever got grants).
All of these grants, block operating and project-specific, require as part of ther fulfillment that publishers publicly disclose and acknowledge receipt of funds or face violation of terms, and the CCA, OAC, and TAC may request return of dispersed funds. That’s easy to do with books – you put the acknowledgement on the colophon page, which CZP did. But CZP wasn’t always so great with doing that around the other projects..
Silvia Moreno-Garcia has written about the CZP news from the viewpoint of operating her own small press. She also touches on one of the less obvious motives for CZP writers to stay silent. Thread starts here.
Bracken MacLeod makes the case in a Facebook post that an ethical publisher should allocate sales and place the portion representing author royalties into a separate escrow account that cannot be reached for the operating expenses of their press. He models this on how attorneys are required to handle client funds (by their professional ethical code, and in some jurisdictions, by law).
Lucy A. Snyder is another writer who has pulled a story from a ChiZine project:
The screen history of Stephen King adaptations has for decades couched a peculiar irony: Namely, that of the dozens and dozens of films that have been produced from his work — many of them not-so-great — the author famously detested the most revered, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of The Shining.
…Over time, images from Kubrick’s The Shining have so dominated the culture that King’s efforts to redirect the public to the source, including the sequel novel Doctor Sleep, have fallen under its shadow. Director Mike Flanagan’s new adaptation represents near-total capitulation, lifting many of Kubrick’s familiar visual and aural cues to continue the story of Danny Torrance, the child whose psychic sensitivities are referred to as “the shining.”
Flanagan proved a gifted steward of King’s Gerald’s Game, a seemingly unadaptable book he pulled off for Netflix, and he has borrowed from Kubrick’s film with the author’s blessing. By King’s apparent calculation, it’s the finer points that count.
To that end, King and Flanagan have restored the legacy of alcoholism in the Torrance family, which ignited Jack’s madness like gasoline to flame, and has been passed along to a now-middle-aged Dan. In Dan’s case, however, alcohol muffles the traumas of the past and the voices that still echo in his head through his extrasensory perception.
Played by a sad-eyed Ewan McGregor, Dan is a loner who has bused his way to small-town New Hampshire on the modest hope of a steady job, a small apartment and a path to recovery. And he finds it, too, going a full eight years as a sober contributor to society. He even discovers the perfect application of his unique talent, sitting bedside at a hospice center and gently guiding patients into the hereafter.
But from there, Doctor Sleep gets complicated. Around the time the Torrances were battling ghosts in the Overlook Hotel, a hippieish death cult called the True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), were traveling across the country, recruiting new members and feasting on the psychic energy (called “the steam”) of people like Danny. “The steam,” passed around and inhaled like pot smoke, gives Rose and company immense power and eternal life, and those with the shining radiate to them like a beacon of light. It’s only a matter of time before they catch up with Dan, but he finds an ally in Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a teenager who shines just as brightly.
(5) CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT — ER. Universal
Pictures has dropped a trailer for The Invisible Man, in theaters
What you can’t see can hurt you. Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (Us, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale) stars in a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character. Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer, NBC’s The InBetween), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid, HBO’s Euphoria). But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House) commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 8, 1847 — Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you wrote that he other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence Stoker. (Died 1912.)
Born November 8, 1898 — Katharine Mary Briggs. British folklorist and author who wrote A Dictionary of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures , and the four-volume Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, and the Kate Crackernuts novel. Her The Anatomy of Puck: An Examination of Fairy Beliefs among Shakespeare’s Contemporaries and Successors is fascinating read. (Died 1980.)
Born November 8, 1914 — Norman Lloyd, 105. His longest genre role was as Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the Seven Days series. He’s been on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Get Smart! in the form of the Nude Bomb filmand The Twilight Zone, and in a fair of horror films from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home to The Scarecrow.
Born November 8, 1932 — Ben Bova, 87. His more than one hundred and twenty books have won six Hugo Awards. He’s a former editor of Analog, along with once being editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though uneven is overall splendid hard sf as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out recently in three volumes. What’s your favourite book by him?
Born November 8, 1952 — Alfre Woodard, 67. I remember her best from Star Trek: First Contact where she was Lily Sloane, Cochrane’s assistant. She was also Grace Cooley in Scrooged, and polishing her SJW creds, she once voiced Maisie the Cat in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to School. And yes, I know she’s portrayed a character in Marvel Universe. I just like the obscure roles.
Born November 8, 1956 — Richard Curtis, 63. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl. And he directed Blackadder.
Born November 8, 1968 — Parker Posey, 51. Doctor Smith on the rebooted Lost in Space series. I’ve not seen it, so how is it? She was in a film based on based on Dean Koontz’s version of Frankenstein. And she shows in Blade: Trinity as well.
Born November 8, 1972 — Gretchen Mol, 47. Dr. Agatha Matheson in the Nightflyers series off Martin’s novel. Canceled after a single season. Annie Norris In Life on Mars which also made it but a single season. She’s also in The Thirteenth Floor, a genre crime thriller where she plays two roles, Natasha Molinaro and Jane Fuller.
A British historian famously wrote that work expands to fill available time – but what was he actually saying about inefficiency?
“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” British naval historian and author Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote that opening line for an essay in The Economist in 1955, but the concept known as ‘Parkinson’s Law’ still lives on today.
…But what fewer people know is that Parkinson’s original intent was not to take aim at old lady letter-writers or journalists like me, but at a different kind of inefficiency – the bureaucratisation of the British Civil Service. In his original essay he pointed out that although the number of navy ships decreased by two thirds, and personnel by a third, between 1914 and 1928, the number of bureaucrats had still ballooned by almost 6% a year. There were fewer people and less work to manage – but management was still expanding, and Parkinson argued that this was due to factors that were independent of naval operational needs.
Get more subordinates, create more work
One scholar who has taken a serious look at Parkinson’s Law is Stefan Thurner, a professor in Science of Complex Systems at the Medical University of Vienna. Thurner says he became interested in the concept when the faculty of medicine at the University of Vienna split into its own independent university in 2004. Within a couple years, he says, the Medical University of Vienna went from being run by 15 people to 100, while the number of scientists stayed about the same. “I wanted to understand what was going on there, and why my bureaucratic burden did not diminish – on the contrary it increased,” he says.
He happened to read Parkinson’s book around the same time and was inspired to turn it into a mathematical model that could be manipulated and tested, along with co-authors Peter Klimek and Rudolf Hanel. “Parkinson argued that if you have 6% growth rate of any administrative body, then sooner or later any company will die. They will have all their workforce in bureaucracy and none in production.”
…Next for Grattoni’s team is something even more extraordinary and Borg-like; nano-telemedicine. An implant about the size of a grape (below), equipped with Bluetooth technology to consult doctors back on Earth, will rely on a remote control to tell it to store and release medication as needed. Remote doctor appointments will determine how an astronaut’s medicine is adjusted and enable the doctor to control the device by sending a command that makes it increase, decrease, or stop dosage. This unreal device will be tested on the ISS next year.
Savertown USA in Erica L. Satifka’s Stay Crazy doesn’t offer protagonist Em much in the way of pay or happiness, but it’s not as if Em has options. Clear Falls, Pennsylvania is in the heart of the rust belt and Em herself is still dealing with the paranoid schizophrenia that ended her college days; a job at a soulless big box store is the best offer available.
It’s just too bad that this particular Savertown USA was built over a dimensional rift. Thanks to her psychiatric history, Em isn’t inclined to take a voice in her head warning her about the fate of the world at face value. Nor would the people around Em place much faith in her claims if Em did reveal the dire warnings she is receiving. As is so often the case, it’s up to an expendable clerk and whatever allies she can scrounge to face down danger and save the world.
Airships lost out to conventional aircraft after a series of disastrous crashes. But now safer technology could be the key to their return.
Zeppelins fill the skies of Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials. The giant airships of his parallel universe carry the mail, transport soldiers into battle and explorers to the Arctic. What was once my local post office in Oxford is in Pullman’s fantasy – a zeppelin station where I could catch the evening airship to London.
When I put the books down the reality is rather disappointing. A handful of smaller airships can be found flying proudly across the United States on promotional tours for brands like Goodyear and Carnival Cruise Line. Last year, a blimp demeaned itself by setting two world records, including one for the fastest text on a touch screen mobile phone while water skiing behind a blimp. A few more are employed to fly well-heeled tourists on sight-seeing trips over the German countryside. Another can be found flying over the Amazon. And that’s about it.
The good news is that soon, the real world may finally drift closer to Pullman’s fantasy. In four to five years, all being well, one of the first production models of the enormous Airlander airship dubbed “the flying bum” will be the first airship to fly to the North Pole since 1928. The men and women on board the Airlander are tourists on an $80,000 (£62,165) luxury experience rather than explorers. Tickets are on sale today
The Airlander won’t be alone in the skies either. About the same time, a vast new airship the shape of a blue whale, at 150m the length of an A380 and as high as a 12-storey building should rise up above its assembly plant, out of the heat and humidity of Jingmen, China. Its job: heavy lifting in some of the toughest places on Earth. The manufacturers have some Boeing-sized ambitions for this new age of the airship. They expect there to be about 150 of these airships floating around the world within 10 years.
In the history books, the crash of the Hindenburg in 1937 marked the end of the brief, glorious era of the airship – except it didn’t. The US Navy continued to use blimps for anti-submarine warfare during World War Two. The American Blimp Corporation manufactured airships for advertising. New, bigger, hi-tech airships were built by Zeppelin in Germany. Engineers and pilots have spent whole careers in an industry that wasn’t supposed to exist anymore.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Life of Brian 1979 Debate–Complete” on
YouTube is an episode of Friday Night…and Saturday Morning from 1979
in which John Cleese, Michael Palin, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Mervyn Stockwood,
the Bishop of Southwark, discuss The Life of Brian, which had just been
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy,
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Daniel Dern.]
By Mark L. Blackman: One might think that, as we all
breathe air and need potable water to survive – among the few things that all
of humanity has in common – the environment would be as noncontroversial and
nonpartisan as anything could be, but no. Even the very first Earth Day in 1970
was savaged as, variously, Hitler’s birthday and Lenin’s birthday. One button
that I have from back then displays an upside-down peace sign, resembling a
tree, calling us to “make peace with nature” … thus environmentalism was deemed
“unpatriotic” (and ridiculed as “tree-hugging”) long before visible and
undisputed climate change was called “a Chinese hoax” and even weather reports
the evening of Monday, October 14 – Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Federal Columbus
Day and the start of the second day of Sukkot (a Jewish festival with arboreal
aspects) – at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in
Brooklyn, two floors below the beleaguered WBAI-FM (more on that below), the New
York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series spotlighted Reckoning, an annual journal of creative writing on
environmental justice. (Trade paper, perfect-bound copies
are $15, but are free online to get the message out. The
4th issue will be out in January. Visit Reckoning.press for more information.) The event was guest-hosted by its
publisher, Michael J. DeLuca, and featured
readings by Emily Houk, Krista Hoeppner
Leahy, Marissa Lingen, Emery Robin and Brian Francis Slattery. (The readers
read from works in Reckoning 1 and 2, with the exception of Robin, whose
story will run in Reckoning 4.)
The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive curator
Jim Freund (and, until last week, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio
program Hour of the Wolf) welcoming
the audience. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would on Facebook
Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, (Livestream should be back in
November.) He then addressed the
elephant in the room two floors above. A week earlier, WBAI-FM’s parent
company, Pacifica Across America – or, more specifically, a group of the owners
– abruptly shut down the listener-sponsored station. Legal counteractions
ensued, with more to come. Freund (who was wearing a WBAI t-shirt) assured all
that WBAI-FM would be back, and announced that there would be a rally and press
conference on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday the 15th at noon
(too late for those reading this) in support of BAI.
Returning to why we were there, he reminded those who can to
donate to the Series ($7 is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned
away due to lack of funds), and reported that the home audience (to coin a
phrase) may donate on its Patreon page. He concluded by announcing future
readers: On Tuesday (yes, the
Series returns to its usual schedule), November 5th (Election Day
and Guy Fawkes Day – “Remember, remember, the 5th of November”), the
readers will be Gay Partington Terry
and Robert V.S. Redick. December 3rd will be “party time,” an
evening of Glitter Spec Fic, featuring A.C. Wise and others to be corralled “reading
stories and performing music to do with glitter.” (On the Series webpage, this
notice was displayed in multiple colors.) Disclosing his own early environmental
activism, he then turned “the show” over to DeLuca.
DeLuca describes his “roots as mycorrhizal with sugar maple and Eastern white pine,” a theme seen in his website, mossyskull.com. His fiction has appeared most recently in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Strangelet and Middle Planet. He observed that holding the event on Indigenous Peoples’ Day was “in keeping with the spirit of environmental justice” (some anthropologists may disagree).
First up was Brian Francis Slattery, who has written four novels and is also the arts editor and a reporter for the New Haven Independent, and a musician. “For a week out of every year, lives without electricity” (and that’s without living in California). He read from his semi-fictional essay “The Kinder and More Caring Future,” musings on sustainability (we shouldn’t eat meat-eating predators, including certain fish like haddock) and a reminiscence on the wake of Hurricane Irene. “Hurricane Irene was the future calling,” showing us the perils of seas rising.)
Krista Hoeppner Leahy, the second reader, has appeared in a Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Clarkesworld, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Farrago’s Wainscot. Her offering washer short poem “Eathspun,” about our relationship with Nature (“All of us belong to the sky”). (Another memorable line was “Breathe through your cloaca.”)
During the intermission, a raffle was held (for those who
donated), with the prizes being copies of Infomocracy by Malka Older and Galápagos Regained by James Morrow. DeLuca then opened the second half of the
Houk commented that her story “Plague Winter” reads as science fiction, but is
historical, about bio-control of invasive species (we were referred to The Simpsons). Here a lab assistant sets
plague doctor beetles on hemlocks. (I might have seen the trees in her story in
In keeping with the ecological theme, Marissa
Lingen reported that she has “a large collection of foliage-themed jewelry.” She read her story “The Shale
Giants.” (“Humans want to steal their breath.”)
The final reader of the evening, Emery Robin, read a story set in her hometown Oakland, “Ambient and Isolated Effects of Fine Particulate Matter.” After fires – and drought – in Northern California, the sky is hazy, and the air quality has been severely affected, become unbreathable (people wear masks) and ashy – people are turning gray.
DeLuca concluded the evening by inviting submissions.
The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a
small assortment of books along with copies of Cultural Survival Quarterly (focused indigenous issues and
traditional knowledge; DeLuca’s sister is on staff). The audience of about 40,
counting Freund and the readers (but not the Chabad duo who wandered in with
the Four Species), included Amy Goldschlager, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff,
John Kwok and (Tech Director) Terence Taylor. The kitchen closed early, but the
Café still offered beverages, cold food and snacks.
In the course of less than a month this summer, I attended three major events, each of which had a nametag that attendees were supposed to wear. The first, in Dublin, was this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, which was being held in Ireland for the first time. The second, a week later in Belfast, was the Eurocon, or European Science Fiction Convention, which moves around among European countries and was hosted by the organizers of Titancon, an annual Belfast science fiction convention; holding it in Northern Ireland the week after the worldcon made it easy for people visiting from other countries to attend both conventions on their trip. The third event was ATypI 2019, the annual conference of the Association Typographique Internationale, in Tokyo – ATypI’s second time in Asia, as it happens….
“It ain’t over,” radio host Jim Freund told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday.
Freund, 65, hosts a science fiction and fantasy talk show called “Hour of the Wolf” on 99.5 WBAI FM — the decades-old, listener-sponsored radio station currently taking its parent nonprofit, the Pacifica Foundation, to court.
On Monday, Pacifica — which owns a slate of other independently operated radio stations — abruptly shut down local programming at WBAI and shuttered its Atlantic Avenue workspace, citing millions of dollars of debt and the desire to rebuild the station around national, syndicated content.
By Tuesday morning, the staff — which consists largely of unpaid volunteers — was granted a temporary restraining order by the Manhattan Supreme Court, barring Pacifica from terminating any WBAI employees or impeding on its local programming in any way until Oct. 18, when both parties must appear in court.
But as of Wednesday, producers said local programming was still being kept off the air.
“This isn’t the first time something like this has happened,” said Freund, who has hosted “Hour of the Wolf” on WBAI for nearly half a century. “In 1977, there was an incident so huge that Pacifica took us off the air for three months. There was static.”…
Q. You’re organizing a dinner party. Which three scholars or academics, dead or alive, do you invite?
A. The first guest would have to be Tolkien, Oxford’s Merton Professor of English Language and Literature. Then Gregory Benford, the noted science fiction writer and the University of California at Irvine’s Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy. There have always been rumors that Elena Ferrante is actually an Italian professor; if whoever it was accepted the invitation, we’d find out for sure!
Anyone over the age of 35 will remember growing up in a world in which only one planetary system was known — our own. We remember proudly reciting the names of the nine planets (eight before Pluto’s discovery in 1930, and again today with its reclassification as a dwarf planet in 2006) and wondering what other planets might exist around the stars in the night sky. Contemplating life beyond the Solar System was relegated to science fiction. This all changed in 1995 when Mayor and Queloz1 reported the detection of the first exoplanet around a Sun-like star…
…Call it Tom’s Choice. Like all the major studios, Sony Pictures is questing for new franchises — and after years of development, it might have one with the He-Man movie Masters of the Universe.
But while the picture is on the calendar for release in March 2021, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that studio chairman Tom Rothman is exploring the prospect of getting risk-free cash for the pricey project by making it for Netflix instead. A studio source says talks are preliminary, but such a deal would make Sony the next studio after Paramount to start making movies belonging exclusively or almost exclusively to the streamer.
So there’s the dilemma: seek a studio or financier to partner on the project, holding on to various rights and territories, or make the safe deal with Netflix (which would not seem quite so safe if the film were a huge hit and it already was sold).
Her lifelong interest in science and societal upheaval is embodied in fascinating ways in Canopus in Argos, a series of five books published from 1979 to 1983. (She came up with the title a few weeks after seeing, and loving, George Lucas’s film Star Wars, in 1978. The inspiration might have been the ‘crawl text’ at the film’s start.)…
Novelist Anthony Burgess, author of the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), complained of her “fanciful cosmic viewpoint”. Although science-fiction doyenne Ursula K. Le Guin praised some character sketches in Shikasta as “immortal diamond”, she found the whole at times “little more than a pulp-Galactic Empire with the Goodies fighting the Baddies”. Undeterred, Lessing worked her way through the series, declaring bloodymindedly that “space fiction, with science fiction, makes up the most original branch of literature now”. She had friends among scifi authors, including Brian Aldiss, and happily attended meetings of the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. She championed the genre as influential in mainstream literature, whose pundits nevertheless “are much to blame for patronising or ignoring it”.
From its inception, cyberpunk has shared quite a bit of DNA with crime fiction. Your archetypical (some might say stereotypical) cyberpunk anti-hero, hacking into the mainframe of a highly militarized mega-corporation, could easily trade some tips about life on the street with a grizzled safecracker from a Richard Stark novel or Michael Mann film. Both cyberpunk and crime fiction often focus on those who live on the edge of society, trying to scratch out a living while wrestling with some degree of existential ennui.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 10, 2008 — City of Ember enjoyed its theatrical release. The film starred Saoirse Ronan and Toby Jones, currently The Librarian in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. It’s based on the series by Jeanne DuPrau. Rotten Tomatoes gave it rating of 53%.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 10, 1924 — Edward Wood Jr. Though known for Plan 9 from Outer Space, he did a lot of bad genre films including Night of the Monster and Bride of The Ghouls. (Died 1978.)
Born October 10, 1927 — Dana Elcar. Most of you will remember him as Peter Thornton on MacGyver, but he has a long genre history including Russ in Condorman which was inspired by Robert Sheckley’s The Game of X. He also played Sheriff George Paterson in Dark Shadows, and showed up in 2010 as Dimitri Moisevitch. (Died 2005.)
Born October 10, 1929 — Robin Hardy. Wicker Man is the film he’s known for though he followed that up with The Wicker Tree, an adaptation of his Cowboys for Christ novel. Anyone seen it? (Died 2016.)
Born October 10, 1931 — Victor Pemberton. Writer of the script for the the “Fury from the Deep”, a Second Doctor story in which he created the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He had appeared as an actor in the series, in a non-speaking role as a scientist in “The Moonbase” story. In 1976, he wrote the BBC audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons which I remember hearing. Quite good it was. (Died 2007.)
Born October 10, 1931 — Jack Jardine. A long-time L.A. fan who was present at many West Coast cons and who shared the dais on panels with some of the major names in SF. He attended his last convention, in a wheelchair, assisted by his daughter Sabra, after a debilitating stroke at the age of 70. His health continued to get worse until he died from heart failure. File 770 has more here. (Died 2009.)
Born October 10, 1941 — Peter Coyote, 78. He actually did two genre films in 1982 with the first being Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann in which he appeared as Porter Reese and the second being E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which he’s Keys, the Agent hunting E.T. down. Sphere in which he’s Captain Harold C. Barnes is his next SF outing followed by The 4400 and FlashForward series being his next major genre involvements.
Born October 10, 1947 — Laura Brodian Freas Beraha, 72. While married to Kelly Freas, she wrote Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It with him along with quite a few essays such as “ On the Painting of Beautiful Women or Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed” and “ Some of My Best Critics are Friends – or Vice Versa“. She’s credited solely for the cover art for the 1993 Easton Press interior art for The Left Hand of Darkness according to ISFDB.
Born October 10, 1966 — Bai Ling, 53. She’s Miss West in Wild West West and the Mysterious Woman in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, she has a major role as Guanyin in The Monkey King which aired on Syfy.
Given the mildculturalpanic surrounding the Oct. 4 release of Todd Phillips’ Joker, it’s fair to speculate that theater security and guest services departments have had a rough couple weeks and were on edge going into last weekend. A student at Cal State Long Beach decided to test their patience anyhow, and got hit with a lifetime ban for his efforts.
On the night of Oct. 3, Twitter user @jinpayn — who declined to share his first name with The Hollywood Reporter but whose last name is Payne — posted a photo of a flyer taped to a ticket kiosk outside the AMC Orange 30 cinema in Orange, California, that read, “Please note: We are enforcing a strict NO SINGLES POLICY for tonight’s showings of JOKER due to safety precautions. We will not be admitting anyone without an additional partner.” “Great, I can’t see @jokermovie because I’m here alone. Wtf @amctheaters?” he tweeted.
Ed King is one of EC’s long line a smooth-talking, pencil-mustached con men. He sees dollar signs after learning of rich twin-sister agoraphobes. Both sisters fall for the oily eel, but if he marries only one of them, he’ll only get half their fortune. So the snake decides to play his own twin. It only makes sense, right? Eventually the dames catch on, and with EC’s classic I’ve-gone-mad signifiers (Little Orphan Annie eyes, frozen grins, sweat beads), the sisters split Ed down the middle so they can each enjoy half. As our host, the Vault-Keeper says, Ed made “a BIGAMISTake!” (Note: Another tale, “How Green Was My Alley” is the same story, but with the addition of bowling/golf, and the two-timer getting his head/eye used as balls.)
A Japanese student of ninja history who handed in a blank paper was given top marks – after her professor realised the essay was written in invisible ink.
Eimi Haga followed the ninja technique of “aburidashi”, spending hours soaking and crushing soybeans to make the ink.
The words appeared when her professor heated the paper over his gas stove.
“It is something I learned through a book when I was little,” Ms Haga told the BBC. “I just hoped that no-one would come up with the same idea.”
…”When the professor said in class that he would give a high mark for creativity, I decided that I would make my essay stand out from others,” she said.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael
Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) ROBOTECH. Titan Comics launches its new Robotech comics
on October 16.
A new Robotech saga starts now with Robotech: Remix, a gripping series that will take beloved characters and iconic mecha to places fans have never seen before! Featuring new writer Brenden Fletcher (Motorcrush, Isola) and anime ace Elmer Damaso (Robotech/Voltron).
Jim Freund’s radio talk show Hour of the Wolf has been a fixture within the New York science fiction community on WBAI 99.5 FM for nearly half a century. On Monday, the station’s parent company, Pacifica Across America, abruptly shut down the station and replaced its local programming with shows from its other holdings, citing “financial losses,” according to Gothamist and The New York Times. The move leaves the future of the long-running program in question.
…The turmoil is a blow to the show, which began in 1971, and has been continually hosted by Freund since 1974. “Hour of the Wolf” was an early-morning talk show that aired between 5AM and 7AM, Freund explained, telling Tor.com that the live, call-in show was a way for the general public to learn about the science fiction and fantasy community….
…In an interview, Mr. Vernile said WBAI — which, like the network’s other stations, is listener supported — had fallen short of its fund-raising goals in recent years. He added that the station was unable to make payroll and other expenses, forcing the larger Pacifica Foundation network to bail it out.
“Listeners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington, D.C., have been supporting the efforts in New York,” Mr. Vernile said. “It has gotten to a point where we can no longer do that.”
N.Y. State Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo has granted an injunction against the Pacifica Foundation’s attempt to close WBAI. Regular programming should resume today. Both parties are currently due to appear before Justice Nervo on Friday, Oct. 18. Just after 10:30 p.m. on Monday, the following statement was issued by Berthold Reimers, WBAI General Manager, to all producers and staff at the station:
WBAI managed to get an injunction to stay the takeover of the station. This means the station is legally back in the hands of WBAI’s personnel. All programs are back on and there is much to be done and we have no time to waste. The producers of WBAI have organized a meeting tomorrow night [Tuesday, Oct. 8] at 6:30 PM at 325 Hudson Street near Van Dam.
A Canadian American cosmologist and two Swiss scientists won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work in understanding how the universe has evolved from the Big Bang and the blockbuster discovery of the first known planet outside our solar system.
Canadian-born James Peebles, 84, of Princeton University, was credited for “theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and Switzerland’s Michel Mayor, 77, and Didier Queloz, 53, both from the University of Geneva, were honored for discovering “an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star,” said Prof. Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Peebles, hailed as one of the most influential cosmologists of his time, will collect half of the $918,000 cash award, and the Swiss men will share the other half.
The Nobel committee said Peebles’ theoretical framework about the cosmos — and its billions of galaxies and galaxy clusters — amounted to “the foundation of our modern understanding of the universe’s history, from the Big Bang to the present day.”
Reacting to the news, Prof Queloz told BBC News: “It’s unbelievable,” adding: “Since the discovery [of the first extrasolar planet] 25 years ago, everyone kept telling me: ‘It’s a Nobel Prize discovery’. And I say: ‘Oh yeah, yeah, maybe, whatever.'”
But in the intervening years, he more-or-less “forgot” about the discovery: “I don’t even think about it,” he said. “So frankly, yes, it came as a surprise to me. I understand the impact of the discovery, but there’s such great physics being done in the world, I thought, it’s not for us, we will never have it.
(4) DEFYING DOOMSDAY. The winners of the 2018 D Franklin Defying Doomsday Award were announced
October 6. This award is for media
that deserves recognition for work in disability advocacy in SFF literature.
R.B. Lemberg for “Sergeant Bothari and Disability Representation in the Early Vorkosiverse,” in Strange Horizons
Ace Ratcliff for “Staircases In Space: Why Are Places In Science Fiction Not Wheelchair-Accessible?” in io9.
The judges felt that R.B. Lemberg’s article was important because it noted how easy it is to veer away from criticising the representations that we do see throughout the Vorkosigan series because honestly, we’re just glad there’s something focusing on disability at all. But ignoring these issues means we risk having these continue, now and in the future. R.B acknowledges the importance and value of these books, but also encourages us to question them. In fact, the article encourages everyone to question books and the representations in them; this shouldn’t be something readers wish to avoid, simply because we have been desperate for visibility for so long.
(5) TOP HORROR. Rocket
Stack Rank has posted itsannual “Outstanding SF/F Horror of 2018”, with 30
stories that were that were finalists
for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or
recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.
Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.
As for RSR, we recommended 16 stories, was
neutral on 8 stories, recommended against 3 stories, and did not review 3
stories (view by RSR rating).
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 8, 1993 — Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes premiered. Two years ago, Stallone’s filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over the disbursement of profits from the film. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 66% score.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 8, 1920 — Frank Herbert. I’ll confess that I enjoyed Dune and Dune Messiah that’s as far as I got in the series. The other Herbert novel I really liked was Under Pressure. (Died 1986.)
Born October 8, 1927 — Dallas Mitchell. He played Lieutenant Tom Nellis on Star Trek in the “Charlie X” episode. He one-offs on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Six Million Dollar Man, The Invaders, Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea and Mission: Impossible. (Died 2009.)
Born October 8, 1943 — R.L.Stine, 75. He’s been called the “Stephen King of children’s literature” and is the author of hundreds of horror novels including works in the Goosebumps, Fear Street, Mostly Ghostly, and The Nightmare Room series. Library of Congress lists four hundred and twenty-three separate entries for him.
Born October 8, 1949 — Sigourney Weaver, 70. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre.
Born October 8, 1949 — Richard Hescox, 70. An illustrator who between the Seventies and early Nineties painted over one hundred and thirty covers for genre books,and is now working exclusively in the games industry and private commissions. His website is here. Here’s one of his covers.
Born October 8, 1963 — David Yates, 56. Director of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows (both films), The Legend Of Tarzan, and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. So who’s seen the latter films?
Born October 8, 1979 — Kristanna Loken, 40. She’s best known for her roles in the films Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, BloodRayne and the Painkiller Jane series.
Born October 8, 1993 — Molly Quinn, 25. I first heard her voicing the dual role of Kara and Supergirl most excellently on Superman Unbound (John Noble voices Brainiac) and I see ventured in the MCU as well as Howard’s Date in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She was also Jenny on the Avalon High film, and she’s contributing to the Welcome to Nightvale story podcast.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range shows how you can improve any tabletop game by adding Godzilla.
The gateway text. The classic tale of a vegetable-draining vampire bunny adopted by the unwitting Monroe family and actively dealt with by their housepets, genial dog Harold and megalomaniacal cat Chester—the best feline in literature (fight me)—isn’t very scary, and isn’t trying to be. Harold’s first person narration is an outrageously clever and charming feat of point-of-view that generates real sympathy for the titular monster bun. This was something I absorbed rather than realized at the time: that the beats of a genre are made to be remixed.
3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?
Re-reading is interesting. Sometimes it’s just a quiet impulse, or you pick up something because you’d like to enjoy that again or remind yourself of it in some way, but sometimes it’s an intense craving. When it’s the latter, it can be a need to escape into something familiar from some stress or worry or heavy weight on you, but often I find that the thing I felt such an urgent desire to re-read turns out to have something in it that resolves some quandary that I’ve been wrestling with in my current work — it’ll be something to do with the narrative approach, or how difficulties in a character are set up, or a way of touching the story, that reminds me of what I need to be doing or sparks off something that solves my problem, shines a bit of moonlight on the path I’ve been stumbling in the dark to find. It’s like some underlayer of my brain knows what’s missing or where I’ve gone wrong in the WiP but doesn’t have any words of its own, so it points me at something that will show it to me. I’ve had that experience with LeCarré and Bujold, though most often it will be Diana Wynne Jones or Cherryh. The thing I most recently had an intense desire to reread was McKillip’s Kingfisher, which I’ve read a couple of times, but this time I bought the audiobook because I felt like I needed to have it read to me. Aside from the sheer enjoyment of the work, which is one of her best, what I’m taking from it on this re-read is a reminder of her lightness of touch, something I’m trying to achieve in my current project.
When I was barely in fifth grade, I felt too nerdy, too disabled, too brown, and secretly too queer to be accepted by my white, homophobic town. I escaped this alienation by turning to books. But as much as I loved Harry Potter, The Lightning Thief, and the other novels I flicked through at my town library, I never saw myself in the protagonists, who were mostly white, heterosexual men.
I didn’t realize how deeply this affected me until I got an iPod Touch and stumbled upon fanfiction. Across the internet, fans of particular works were rewriting popular stories however they liked: coffeeshop romances between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, time travel re-do’s of Disney movies, what-if’s about the protagonist from Wicked having twins. I couldn’t be openly queer, but I could read about Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley falling in love.
I soon created accounts on fanfiction sites and talked to authors—many of whom were themselves queer—about the same-sex relationships they wrote about. I slowly accepted the parts of myself that made me feel alienated from my peers, and I carried that newfound self-acceptance throughout my high school years….
“We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars,” William Rapin, of Caltech, the lead author of a study of their findings, published Monday in Nature Geoscience paper said in a statement.
A “virtual sculpture trail” at a university’s £330m campus is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Visitors to the University of Northampton can use a mobile phone to view 3D sculptures created by students.
The six augmented reality pieces of art around the Waterside campus are visible through an app made by a media agency.
Iain Douglas, from the university, said: “This was a valuable opportunity to bring a real-life collaborative project to the students.”
(15) VIDEO OF
THE DAY. “James Bond Theme For
Boomwhackers (Fall 2014)” was done at Harvard five years ago but it’s
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric Wong,
Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Harold Osler, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day JeffWarner.]
(1) BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARDS. The winners of the 2019 Best Translated Book Awards were announced May 29. I believe neither is genre. (However, Sofia Samatar, past winner of a World Fantasy Award, is among the judges.)
Slave Old Man, written by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated (from the French and Creole) by Linda Coverdale, and published by The New Press, won for fiction. Of Death. Minimal Odes, written by Hilda Hilst, translated (from the Portuguese) by Laura Cesarco Eglin, and published by co-im-press, took the prize for poetry.
…Thanks to grant funds from the Amazon Literary Partnership, the living winning author and the translators will each receive $2,000 cash prizes…
The fiction jury included Pierce Alquist (BookRiot), Caitlin L. Baker (Island Books), Kasia Bartoszy?ska (Monmouth College), Tara Cheesman (freelance book critic), George Carroll (litintranslation.com), Adam Hetherington (reader), Keaton Patterson (Brazos Bookstore), Sofia Samatar (writer), Elijah Watson (A Room of One’s Own). The poetry jury included Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Katrine Øgaard Jensen (EuropeNow), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Aditi Machado (poet and translator), and Laura Marris (writer and translator).
As a SoCal mom, I know what it takes to do Disneyland: water, sunscreen, sturdy walking shoes, lots of cash, phone, snacks and whatever other gear the age and Disney-geek demographic of the group demands.
Strollers, mouse ears, matching shirts, lanyards clanking with tradable pins, whatever; I’ve always had it covered, down to the Band-Aids, hand sanitizer and Advil.
When we first hit the topic of worldbuilding exposition back in May, I discussed the exposition on the level of prose: how to work setting details into your sentences without putting a neon stop sign on them saying “HERE BE INFORMATION,” and how to use the surrounding context to make those details convey story as well as facts. That works on a small scale, but when you get to more complex matters, you often have to think larger in order to work them into the story.
One time-honored way to do this is with a naive protagonist: someone young, inexperienced, foreign, or otherwise unfamiliar with the situation at hand. They don’t have to be ignorant of everything, and in fact it can be annoying if they are — at least in fiction for adults. In kids’ literature and YA, a naive protagonist is often a natural choice….
… Reality is complicated, and it is the job of an author to reflect this. So, how does one do this? Simple, he has cause and effect function in a way that makes sense to the audience. For example, let’s talk about Superman.
One of the complaints made against Superman is that he is unrealistically good, that a normal person with his power would abuse it. To this I say, their definition of realistic is wrong. Their argument is that: since he has so much power, he must abuse it. The thing they don’t get is that by not abusing his power and being a good guy, he is making the D.C. universe more realistic. Just look at General Zod to see what I mean.
… There are many kings and presidents who use their power for good without abusing it, like Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, who was offered a crown but turned it down in favor of becoming president and then retired to his farm. It is not impossible that there could exist a man that could use his power for good without letting it control him. If there is such a man, then we as authors should write stories about him, for he is a hero. If Superman is this man, is it any wonder he can use his power without abusing it.
Just because he does good does not make him more or less realistic than any other hero in the D.C. universe….
…This kind of touch is what makes your story realistic, having the character make logical choices in accordance with his fantastic circumstances. His job is logical.
Another example of this is the Science Patrol from Ultraman. In the Ultraman universe, there are giant monsters, generally called Kaiju, which are practically walking natural disasters.
…In a later season, someone on the staff realizes something interesting: the monsters are not innately evil. They are wild animals, so maybe we should have one of our heroes try not to kill them. Out of this idea came Ultraman Cosmos, the warrior of compassion. This is also something that comes naturally from the premise because a complicated interaction with the Kaiju makes the world seem more realistic, even with the fantastic premise.
All of these ideas take a premise and bring it to its logical extreme. ‘Realism’ so called, does not. ‘Realism’ only shows one small part of the human experience, while real realism shows as much of the human experience as is needed for the story, which is what all good stories show.
(5) ODYSSEY SCHOLARSHIP. George
R.R. Martin announced Kyle
De Waal is the winner of this year’s Miskatonic Scholarship to the Odyssey
Writers Workshop in New Hampshire, given each year to a student working in the
area of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. The scholarship is funded by Martin.
This year’s winner is Kyle de Waal, who loves to write anything with a monster in it, especially cosmic horror with a bent towards YA-lit. He also enjoys tabletop games, mountain biking, and Greek and Roman history. He lives in Canada with his border collie who is named after a poetic device: Volta.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 31, 1895 — George Stewart. Author of Earth Abides which won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. It’s worth noting that his novel Storm whichhad as its protagonist a Pacific storm called Maria prompted the National Weather Service to use personal names to designate storms. (Died 1980.)
Born May 31, 1897 — Christine Hartley, better known as Christine Campbell Thomson. Best known for her horror anthologies published in the 1920s and 1930s. The first, Not at Night gave its name to the whole series, which ran to eleven volumes. In all, there were 170 stories including ones by Howard and Lovecraft, and, according to bibliographer Mike Ashley, a hundred of these came from Weird Tales. All of the fiction she wrote was done under the pen name of Flavia Richardson. Neither the anthologies or her fiction appear to be in print currently. (Died 1985.)
Born May 31, 1907 — Peter Fleming. Elder brother of that Fleming. Among his works is a novel written in 1940, The Flying Visit about an unintended visit to Britain by Adolf Hitler. It’s apparently a comedy. The Sixth Column: A Singular Tale of Our Time is also genre though it is now Forgotten Literature as his other book. (Died 1971.)
Born May 31, 1928 — Bryce Walton. Writer on Captain Video and His Video Rangers though I can’t tell you exactly what that means as IMDB lists the numbers of episodes he did as unknown. He also wrote for Alfred Hitchcock Presents including “The Greatest Monster of Them All” which is definitely genre. He wrote one SF novel, Sons of the Ocean Deeps, and has one collection of stories, “Dark of the Moon” and Other Tales. (Died 1988.)
Born May 31, 1930 — Gary Brandner. He’s best known for The Howling trilogy. The first book was adapted quite loosely as into The Howling. Brandner’s second and third Howling novels have no connection to the movie series, though he was involved with writing the screenplay for the second Howling movie, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. Who came up with that title? Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is actually the most faithful adaptation of his first novel hence the title. (Died 2013.)
Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 58. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it.
Born May 31, 1968 — John Connolly, 51. Best known for his Charlie Parkernoir crime series where his character solves mysteries by talking to dead. His Chronicles of the Invaders written with Jennifer Ridyard, his wife, are more traditional SF as is the Samuel Johnson series.
Born May 31, 1976 — Colin Farrell, 43. I remember him first as Bullseye in the much dissed Daredevil film. (It wasn’t that bad.) He was in Minority Report as Danny Witwer. And I see he’s listed as being the third transformation of Tony in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. H’h. Now he was Peter Lake in Winter’s Tale, a takeoff of Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, a novel no film could do justice to. Oh, he’s Holt Farrier in Dumbo…
Born May 31, 1995 — Jeremy Szal, 24. He says he was (probably) raised by wild dingoes. He writes about galactic adventures, wide-screen futures, and broken characters fighting for hope in dark worlds. He is author of the dark space-opera novel Stormblood out in February 2020, the first of a trilogy. His short fiction has appeared in Nature, Abyss & Apex, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, The Drabblecast. He is the fiction editor for the Hugo-winning StarShipSofa, which once led to Harlan Ellison yelling at him on the phone. He carves out a living in sun-bleached Sydney, Australia. He loves watching weird movies, collecting boutique gins, exploring cities, and dark humour. Find him at http://jeremyszal.com/ or @JeremySzal
There’s a question that inevitably dogs (or maybe that should be hellhounds?) the production of any TV or cinematic adaptation of a popular book: How close do you hew to the original text—i.e., the stuff that presumably got people in the door in the first place—vs. softening or changing it for the natural rhythms of human speech? It’s a query that gets extra tricky when the original author and the person doing the adapting are one and the same, which might help explain why screenwriter Neil Gaiman has filled so much of the first hour of his new Amazon series Good Omens with long passages taken directly from his and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 book. …And yet, Good Omens’ pilot occasionally feels like sitting through the process of listening to a friend read you some of their well-crafted short fiction while an energetic, eye-catching slideshow plays—provided, of course, that your friend was Frances McDormand, and she was also pretending to be the voice of God.
Earlier this week, BR announced two Flavors of the Month for June: Eleven’s Heaven and Upside Down Pralines. The first is a waffle cone-flavored ice cream (I know, WOAH) with chocolate-coated sugar cone pieces and chocolate icing. The latter is chocolate with praline pecans and chocolate caramel swirled in.
If you think those sound epic just wait, because there’s more:
The Upside Down Sundae includes praline scoops and toppings on the bottom.
The Demogorgon Sundae is served in a waffle bowl that “frightfully resembles” the monster.
Byers’ House Lights Polar Pizza Ice Cream Treat is basically an ice cream and candy ‘za. It has a Snickers ice cream crust and topped with fudge and M&M’s to look like Christmas lights.
USS Butterscotch Quarts are filled with butterscotch toffee ice cream and a toffee ribbon.
As predicted, this year’s Book Expo is effectively a one-day show played out over three days. After a quiet start on Wednesday, Thursday at least has attendees filling the very wide aisles, spacious lounges, empty booth slots and open meeting rooms at a convention that is more profoundly than ever a downgraded, modest shadow of its former self. (It’s very sustainable, though; exhibitors are using generous lengths of plain pipe and drape, rented chairs, and simple printed panels over fancy fixtures and displays.) With a generally quiet line-up of panels as well, one Thursday afternoon that still offered some substance of note focused squarely on physical retail.
The noon opening for BookExpo on Wedesday led to a quiet start for this year’s fair. But as the day progressed, the crowd steadily built and by late afternoon, a palpable buzz began to fill the hall, as people lugged tote bags full of galleys and promotional swag.
Prior to the opening, more than 100 people, many of them book bloggers and independent authors, lined up to get an early start on the galley giveaways and literally dashed into the hall the moment the floor opened.
(11) MORE PORTER PHOTOS
FROM BOOK EXPO.
For the YA near-future novel “Contagion,” Charlesbridge wrapped their display in Caution tape:
Pilgrim’s Progress: The Graphic Novel. Porter says, “The artwork reminded me of Basil Wolverton…”
…So many people love Becky Chambers’ WAYFARERS trilogy and all three books have been nominated for several awards. After reading the entire trilogy, it’s clear that it’s just not for me. I thought The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was a cool-sounding title, but the story was “like watching Barney & Friends while eating cotton candy.” I liked A Closed and Common Orbit even less, finding it dull and unchallenging. Both novels have very little plot or tension, but they do contain heart-warming scenes and sweet messages about cooperation, diversity, and other nice things.
Record of a Spaceborn Few has the same problem, but magnified….
Barbara: I’m the native Brooklyner. He’s from Queens.
Jim: I’m from Jackson Heights. She is from Canarsie… originally. It’s like the line from Captain America: Civil War when he meets Spider-man. Captain America is fighting him at the airport and says, “You’ve got heart, kid. Where are you from?” and Spider-man says, “Queens.” Captain America looks at him and says in a confrontational tone, “Brooklyn.”
A British satellite in space has just “set sail” to return to Earth.
TechDemoSat-1 was launched in 2014 to trial a number of new in-orbit technologies but has now reached the end of its operational life.
To bring it out of the sky faster than would ordinarily be the case, it has deployed a “drag sail”.
This large membrane will catch residual air molecules at its altitude of 635km and pull TDS-1 quickly into Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up.
There is a lot of interest currently in “clean space” technologies.
The orbital highways above the planet are set to become congested with thousands of spacecraft in the coming years, and serious efforts need to be made to tidy away redundant hardware and other space junk if collisions are to be avoided.
(16) INSTANT CLASSIC. That
old time edition is good enough for Matthew
Give me that old time purple prose Those long sentences soothe the soul I reminisce about the pros of old And that old time purple prose
Just take those old novels off the shelf I’ll read Lord Dunsany by myself I want some adjectives, sweet and low I like that old time purple prose
Don’t try to keep me to a word count In ten minutes I’ll be past that amount I’ll savour adverbs Bulwer-Lytton chose In his old time purple prose
Call it bad writing, call it what you will Edgar Rice Burroughs can thrill me still With each dependent clause my hunger grows For that old time purple prose.
JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cath, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy,
John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Cat Eldridge for some of these
stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jenora
By Mark L. Blackman: On
the evening of Tuesday, April 2, 2019, at its venue, The Commons Café in
Brooklyn (just a half a mile from the
railroad tracks), the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series, in a
special event guest-hosted by Mike Allen of Mythic Delirium Books, presented
two writers of new fantasy collections from the imprint, Theodora Goss and
“mythically delirious” (as opposed to magically delicious) evening opened with
the customary welcome from Series producer/executive curator Jim Freund (who
was wearing a nifty T-shirt “Make Orwell Fiction Again”), longtime host of
of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy, cautioning us that we
were streaming live via Livestream, reminding all that the Series is supported
entirely by donations (the Readings are free, but there is a suggested
contribution of $7), notifying us that books by the authors were for sale at
the door, and announcing upcoming readings:
May 7th: guest co-host Rob Cameron promises “happy surprises”
June 4th: Katharine Duckett (“a queer month,” the 50th anniversary of Stonewall) and TBA
July 2nd: Sam J. Miller (his book is coming out that month) and TBA
dates are the first Tuesday of the month.) On a sad note, Freund informed any
who hadn’t yet heard that Vonda N. McIntyre had died the day before (April 1st);
she was, he said, incredibly influential in the genre and that “you know her
even if you don’t know her.” (On a personal note, I met her at Lunacon 1994, at
which she was Guest of Honor and I ran Program.) Finally, he introduced the
evening’s emcee – noting that it was just about the third anniversary of his
previous stint, a launch party for Clockwork Phoenix 5 – and
turned hosting duties over to Mike Allen.
Mike Allen is a Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award finalist, and winner of three Rhysling Awards for poetry,the author ofseveral poetry collections, the novel The Black Fire Concerto, (2013) and the short story collections Unseaming, The Spider Tapestries and the forthcoming Aftermath of an Industrial Accident; the editor of the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies (there may yet be a #6); and, with his wife Anita, publisher of Mythic Delirium Books. (He “wears many creative hats, and at least one of them, tailor-made by Anita, features a large bejeweled spider.”)
Theodora Goss (Dora to her friends) is the World Fantasy and Locus Award-winning author of the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting; Interfictions, a short story anthology co-edited with Delia Sherman; The Thorn and the Blossom, “a novella in a two-sided accordion format;” and the novels The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman , winner of the Lord Ruthven Award for vampire fiction. (The third book in her Athena Club trilogy, The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl, comes out in October.) She has also been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List.
offering was from her newest collection of poetry and fiction, Snow
White Learns Witchcraft, just released by Mythic Delirium Books, eight
stories and twenty-three poems that “retell and recast fairy tales by Charles
Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde, in ways
that re-center and empower the women at the hearts of these timeless
narratives.” She began with the first poem in the volume, and the one that gave
it its title, “Snow White Learns
Witchcraft.” Set long after
the “happily ever after,” the prince-later-king has passed on, her beauty is
fading (her hair is now snow white) and all said and done, she has no (or at
least few) regrets.
The short story “Conversations with the Sea
Witch” was also a decades-later follow-up to a fairy tale. Now old, and the
dowager queen, Melusine (not Ariel)
of the sea folk (they’re mammalian, not piscine), who had traded her “song” to
the sea witch for legs – legs too weak to support “the crippled girl” – and
giving up 500 years of life in the sea for one human lifespan, chats and
reminisces at the edge of the sea with her old adversary; over all, she has no
regrets. “Mirror, Mirror,” the final poem in the book, presented yet a
different take on the post-tale Snow White.
the intermission, there was a raffle drawing for those who’d donated with the
prizes being two sets of books from Mythic Delirium.
Resuming the “evening of literal magic,” Allen introduced the second reader.
Barbara Krasnoff, a very familiar face at the NYRSF Readings, is the author of short fiction that has appeared in about 35 venues including Amazing Stories, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Weird Tales, Sybil’s Garage, Space and Time, Crossed Genres, and Clockwork Phoenix, as well as the author of a YA non-fiction book, Robots: Reel to Real, and currently Reviews Editor for The Verge. In addition, every weekday morning, she “investigates what the animals and objects in our world are really thinking” in her whimsical and delightful Backstories series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (#theirbackstories).
Her debut novel The History of Soul 2065,
out in June from Mythic Delirium Books, is actually a mosaic novel, a collection
of twenty loosely interconnected tales. (It includes the 2016 Nebula finalist
short story “Sabbath Wine,” which originally appeared in Clockwork Phoenix 5,
edited by Mike Allen), and from which she read – evoking tears from some – at
previous NYRSF Readings events.) She realized that the stories that had
appeared “here and there” were, at heart, about “the same people with different
names.” Accordingly, she shared the story that “introduces the two people, the
young women, from whom the other characters come.” In “The Clearing in the
Autumn: A Story of Chana Rivka Krasulka and Sophia Stein,” on the eve of World
War I, the girls meet in a magical clearing (that may, according to Chana’s
mother, be haunted by ghost children) that the brilliant Chana (who aspires to
be a doctor) has entered from Lvov in Russia and the theatrical Sophia from
Munich, and form a friendship as they together rescue an injured pigeon. War
and Revolution are hard on the families of both girls and prevent future
meetings. As her family is leaving for America, Chana reenters the clearing to
say goodbye and finds a note in a jar from Sophia. (To those who read the book:
take note of the photographs on the cover; they have personal meanings to
Barbara and her partner Jim Freund.)
conclusion, Allen said that he was “proud to be the conduit” of some of their
traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway
crowd of about 60 included (to name a small few) Richard Bowes, C.S.E. Cooney, Madeline Flieger
(handling tech), Amy Goldschlager (filling in as ticket-taker for Barbara), Karen
Heuler, John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, James Ryan and Susan Bratisher, and (Tech
Director) Terence Taylor. Afterward, some stuck around to schmooze and/or
adjourned to the Café.