Peut-être qu’ils restent les mêmes et peut-être qu’ils ne le font pas

By John Hertz:  Maybe they stay the same and maybe they don’t.

Filling up the corners, as hobbits say, of Hugo and Retro-Hugo nominating ballots, you might have looked at Le Zombie 48 (Brother Tucker’s fanzine, 1943) and noticed Page 4.

If not, I invite you.  See here.

They’re answers to a set of questions he mailed.

Compare with fandom today.  Never mind, for the moment, whether this was a representative sample.  And there was, of course, a war on.

The answers he tabulated and printed were age and occupation.

Sixty-seven including him (27; movie projectionist).  Age range, 14 – 48; mean, 28; mode, 21.

Okay, look at the occupations.  Never mind the Army (four), the Navy (three), and “offense worker” (one; obviously Tucker couldn’t resist letting it stand).  Never mind that eleven of sixteen age 18 or younger were student.  In 1943 there was no one to say software engineer; look at the rest.

Tucker’s comment at the end was “What a motley crew!”  Then he explained he wanted to know because he was building a space-ship.

I’ll not copy the list.  See for yourself.

Till they ring inside my head forever

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1309)  On June 28th, Christine Valada told us.

Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today.  “For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.” — H.E., 1934-2018.

Susan is his widow.  Valada, the widow of Len Wein, is Susan’s and was Harlan’s friend.  His birthday was May 27th.  He was 84.

Among much else he wrote science fiction and fantasy.  His first story “The Gloconda” was published in 1949; his first in a prozine, “Life Hutch”, in the April 56 If, illustrated by Emsh.  The L.A. Times’ 2,100-word obituary, 29 Jun at p. B4, did not mention his eight Hugos and four Nebulas – “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (1965) and “Jeffty Is Five” (1977) won both; most recently, a Nebula for “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” (2010) – but did observe he was the third-most anthologized s-f author, after Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

He reviewed Joel Nydahl’s fanzine Vega in Spaceship 22 (1953; his own zine at the time was Science Fantasy Bulletin).  With six Hugos and two Nebulas behind him he had thoughtful engaged letters in Janus (1976-77).  “Nissassa!” by Nalrah Nosille began in Science Fiction Five-Yearly 2 (1956) before “Assassin!” (1957) by Ellison in the prozine SF Adventures, and continued through SF5Y 12 (2006) in which I appeared myself.

The Avram Davidson Treasury (R. Silverberg & G. Davis eds. 1998) has H.E.’s after­word to “Polly Charms, the Sleeping Woman” (1975) – noting H.E.’s “Paulie Charmed the Sleeping Woman” (1962), which Davidson while editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction published there – and H.E.’s Afterword to the whole.  The 1999 Van Vogt collection Futures Past has H.E.’s Introduction.

He had a superb relation with the Dillons; they did three dozen covers and interiors for his work, to which I paid tribute in my exhibit “The Art of Diane & Leo Dillon” at Chicon VII, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention.

If we had to choose a leading s-f author whose work was most unlike Ellison’s, that might be Asimov.  The memoir I. Asimov (1994) says “Harlan … is a writer in the fullest sense of the word….  one of the best writers in the world….  if you … work your way past his porcupine spines … you will find underneath a … guy who would give you the blood out of his veins if he thought that would help” (p. 244).

The twenty-third annual Odyssey workshop [was] going on [while this note was originally written], 4 Jun – 13 Jul [the week after his death], Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire.  In its third year, H.E. was Writer in Residence for a week; twenty students, four hours each weekday morning; eight hours’ homework each weekday, twenty-four each weekend.  These remarks by and about him were published.

Harlan holds back nothing.  He shared moments from his own life that moved some of us to tears.  He gives in full measure, whatever he does. The night he arrived … he told us, “I’m here to give you what I can…. I can be as wrong as any of you.  Do not think in any way that I am a deity.  But I’ve been doing this for forty years and there’s … some stuff that I can … do well, and I will give you as much of that as you want.  There is nothing you can ask of me that I will not give you in this week.  So ask me.”

Harlan does not lecture about art.  He critiques stories.  Nothing is too small or too large.

“Write by hand on actual paper with an actual pen, ball-point, or the bloody end of your … index finger, if that’s what you need.  Because only in that way will you come back into con­tact with your words.

“Without character, you are thrown back on … anecdote….  That is the dopey way of writing.  There is no subtext, no confluence, no something back here that pays off up there.  Character is the engine that drives the story.

“If you want to be a good writer, all you have to read are the Sherlock Holmes stories.  They are based upon observing.

“There is no nobler chore in the craft of writing than holding up the mirror of reality and turn­ing it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the ‘normal’, the obvious.  People are reflected in the glass.  The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself.  And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us.

“You never reach glory or self-fulfillment unless you’re willing to risk everything, dare any­thing, put yourself dead on the line every time … once one becomes strong or rich or potent or powerful it is the responsibility of the strong to help the weak become strong.”

He devoted every waking moment to the class and the students (and there were very few sleeping moments for him or any of us that week).

Some of us felt it incongruous that he died in his sleep.  But he was a dreamer.  Nor shall I decline to say May his memory be for a blessing.


A. McGarrigle, “Going Back to Harlan” (1995)

Science – Art – Imagination

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1340)  Vincent Di Fate has been named to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, recognized for “distinguished achievement in the art of illustration…. based on [his] body of work and the impact it has made on the field.” The induction ceremony will be on June 14, 2019.  The Society, founded in 1901, has been electing artists to its Hall of Fame since 1958.  It and its Museum of Illustration have quarters at 28 E. 63rd St., New York, NY 10065.

Di Fate has long been one of our very finest pro artists.  He won the Hugo Award for Best Pro Artist in 1979 (13-time finalist to date).  He was Artist Guest of Honor at Magicon, the 50th World Science Fiction Convention (1992).

In an extraordinary pair of abilities he is also one of our very finest writers about art.  His survey Infinite Worlds (1997) remains indispensable: a hundred-page historical perspective; a two-hundred-page examination of a hundred leading artists; seven hundred excellent images; acute, clear, distinct text.  It won Best Art Book in the 1998 Locus Poll; it may have inspired his 1998 Chesley Award for Artistic Achievement (7-time finalist to date).  For his own graphics see The Science Fiction Art of Vincent Di Fate (2002).

A note by me about Infinite Worlds is here. His covers, interiors, sketches, obituaries (not only for Chesley Bonestell and Ed Emshwiller, but also Orson Welles and Danny Kaye), letters, essays, are indexed here.

On a personal note, when Kelly Freas died I was writing for Science Fiction Chronicle and had the honor and pleasure of editing Di Fate’s appreciation (Mar 2005 issue).

Di Fate was commissioned by NASA in 1985 to create the official painting of the International Space Station, on display since its completion at the Kennedy Space Center (Florida).  He is a full professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (State Univ. N.Y.) in New York City; a Life Member and past president (1995-1997) of the Society of Illustrators; he is a founding member and was first president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA).  His Website is headed Science – Art – Imagination.

With three 2018 Analog interior illustrations he is eligible for the Pro Artist Hugo this year: the Mar-Apr issue for “The Spires” (A. Nevala-Lee), Jul-Aug for “Potosi” (J. Pitkin), Nov-Dec for “Learning the Ropes” (T. Jolly).  Don’t neglect interiors.  Don’t neglect monochrome.  Am I suggesting that three drawings could outweigh so much else they’re worth your nomination and perhaps your vote?  Of course they could.  You decide.  

I Sing of Olaf

By John Hertz: The other day I borrowed from Sammy Davis, Jr. Today, E.E. Cummings.

I’m only borrowing the first four words. Capitalizing this name does not appear to be incorrect.

Recently Steve Wright said here,

…. by my standards, Sirius [1944] isn’t what I’d call a classic; if you want another Stapledon novel that’s actually foundational to the genre, why pick that one and not, say, mutant-superman story Odd John [1935]?

As it happens, Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) during World War I was a conscientious objector (there’s that poem again). Driving for the Friends’ Ambulance Unit he won the Croix de Guerre. By World War II he had a Ph.D. in Philosophy, abandoned pacifism, and supported the war effort. I only have a B.A. in Philosophy, so I don’t boast.

At Denvention III (66th World Science Fiction Convention) Evelyn Leeper moderated Robert Silverberg and me on a Stapledon appreciation panel. In File 770 155 (PDF; p. 26) I reported,

Leeper said Stapledon was one of her favorites, with [Jorge] Borges [1899-1986]. Silverberg said the protagonist in Odd John couldn’t successfully encounter society so formed his own; the book was called daring, which meant erotic. I agreed with Sam Moskowitz in Far Future Calling [1979] that Sirius was Stapledon’s best novel. Silverberg said Last and First Men [1930] and Star Maker [1937] weren’t novels; Star Maker was the greater, but it had no characters [RS may’ve been alluding to the remark attr. Ravel about Boléro (1928), “I have composed one masterwork. Unfortunately, it does not contain any music” – JH].

I said all [Stapledon’s] books were doomful.

From the audience, what about his errors? Silverberg said it was a mistake to expect sense from science fiction. From the audience, do people find these books too hard? Perhaps, I said, but (not to defend them) as Castiglione wrote in The Courtier [1528] there is also “That pleasure which is had when we achieve difficult things.”

This of course is neither complete nor conclusive.

A related point. Recently Robert Whitaker Sirignano said,

…. S. Fowler Wright would bring up a big “who?” from fans in this century, as would John Taine.

James Davis Nicoll said,

Taine is probably best known these days for his work as Eric Temple Bell.

As I’ve noted about Hal Clement, George Richard, and Harry Stubbs, Taine and Bell lived in the same body. The Bell opera (in the artists’ sense, i.e. works) are indeed remarkable.

Men of Mathematics (1937) is a first-rate literary achievement. Nor is (literary present tense) Taine the S-F writer to be sneezed at. Silverberg’s column in the Jan-Feb 2019 Asimov’s begins by discussing Taine, indeed Before the Dawn (1934), the book prompting talk of Taine here.

Samuel Johnson said (Lives of the English Poets, 1781; Milton) “Those who have no power to judge of past times but by their own, should always doubt their conclusions.”

That’s striking from a man who lived two centuries ago, and whom we today, if we think of him at all, are inclined to dismiss as the 18th Century equivalent of a stuffed shirt.

Charles N. Brown was famous, or notorious, for “Mainstream literature is about the past. Science fiction is about the present. No one can write about the future.” I disagreed with him, sometimes while we were on panels together.

To take up only part of that discussion, S-F isn’t necessarily about the future. If it happens to be set in the future, it isn’t necessarily a prediction, or even a warning. Setting S-F in the future is just one kind of what-if.

In fact Star Wars is set in the past: “A long time ago….”

Saying S-F is about the present recalls a warning of Nabokov’s (Lectures on Literature, posth. 1980, p. 5), “To call a story a true story is an insult to both art and truth.”

To end more or less as we began, here’s a whole poem by Cummings (Poems 1954, p. 100).

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window, into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully

moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Lloyd Penney Lends a Hand

By John Hertz:  Trying to catch up with your fanzine reading, for Hugo Awards nomination or otherwise?

Lloyd Penney, who sees lots of fanzines and sends letters of comment widely, made a chart of fanzines he saw and locced (as we sometimes say) in 2018, and sent it to the 2019 administrator of the Fannish Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards.  You can see it at p. 3 of this year’s Instructions, which you can find here (PDF).  Many fanzines he notes are available electronically.  The FAAn Awards are managed (if that word may be used) by the annual fanziners’ convention Corflu; the Instructions have various reference-jokes and like that.

By Ray Nelson

Of Course the Scythe Got Him

By John Hertz:   I’ve been thinking about Steve Sneyd. Maybe you have too.  He died last June (1941-2018).  His name meant the handle of a scythe.

In 2015 the Science Fiction Poetry Association named him a Grand Master. Here’s a short poem.

red mist all round this
far realm, we can no longer
see to add more blood

He called it “A Real Test of Human Resorce”.  I’m reluctant to change his spelling; he was hardly illiterate; consider if he might have meant This may happen if U aren’t there.

You can and you might like to look around for things he wrote.  Maybe you have, some.  I often disagreed with him.  That doesn’t always matter.

Among other expressions he published the fanzine Data Dump, quarterly for a quarter-century.  I was a regular contributor for half its life.  He published five dozen of my poems.

Among things from me that couldn’t fit in Data Dump –  four pages handwritten on both sides of a sheet of A5 paper folded in half (oops, out of room!) – you might like these, so far not appearing elsewhere.

* * *

Besides Toledo, whose claims are old and sound, I am told that since 1998 there has been a Marzipan Museum at Kfar Tavor, i.e. Mt. Tabor, in the Galilee, i.e. north Israel, where almonds grow.  You yourself are an Almondburian.

* * *

To call Will Yeats a cubist
May seem a jolly lark,
But shoot your next shaft better.
This one has missed the mark.
His painting never left a view
Mechanical and stark;
For him the link of heart and eye
Kept hold of skin and bark.

* * *

An Irish friend has explained to me there’s only one bean sidhe (“banshee”).  One, she comments, is quite enough.

* * *

Barbarella is the eponym, and Durand Durand is another char­acter, in Jean-Claude Forest’s Barbarella comics, translated from French by Richard Seaver and published in the Grove Press Evergreen Review (##37-39, 1965-1966) then separately by Grove Press (1966).  In French the final “d” of “Durand Durand” is silent.  Haven’t seen the film, whose images do not suggest any grasp of the original – maybe I’ll let that pun remain.

* * *

The doltish accusation that Poe was against science is sometimes made to rest on his 1829 sonnet

To Science
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine –
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.

– an argument which ignores Poe’s exquisite irony, and may earn its place in the Hall of Shame simply by not troubling to look up “Lamia”.  Tender-person’d!  A tender-person’d succubus!  Poe is applauding science, and satirizing those to whom its help at best seems the ghost of folly haunting their sweet dreams (Keats, “Lamia” ll. 376-77, 1820).

* * *

Indeed Austen’s world is alien to us.  So few of us who read her now trouble to look what it is, instead of only seeing our own notions in it, that I tremble at the thought of our meeting off-planet aliens any time soon.

* * *

Any man who seeks a sexbot deserves what he gets.  Courtesans laugh at us.  “Love for sale – old love, new love, every love but true love” (C. Porter, 1930).

* * *

Eliza Butler’s Myth of the Magus (1948; 3rd ed. 1993 pp. 100-101) calls Phoebilla a treacherous woman.  But Domenico Comparetti’s Vergil in the Middle Ages (1872; Benecke tr. 1895, p. 361), discussing Jean d’Outremeuse, Ly Myreur des Histors (14th Cent.), points out that Phoebilla, in love with Virgil (so spelling since we discuss the legendary magician, not the historical poet), made clear she expected marriage, and only after he took advantage of her by enjoying relations while con­tinuing to defer legitimating did she humiliate him with the basket – or, if he was omniscient, put him to the trouble of sending a demon in his semblance.

* * *

We can certainly do call and response if you like.

Ozymandias, King of Kings!

Ozymandias, King of Kings!

Ozymandias owns nothing!

Ozymandias owns nothing!

Ozymandias, great and strong!

Ozymandias, great and strong!

Ozymandias, gone so long!

Ozymandias, gone so long!

Ozymandias was so vain!

Ozymandias was so vain!

Ozymandias’ legs remain!

Ozymandias’ legs remain!

Ozymandias, mighty man!

Ozymandias, mighty man!

Ozymandias, empty sand!

Ozymandias, empty sand!

* * *

Why should poets be useful?
We’re busy being juiceful.
Let the prosy be newsful
And harden their minds to be ruseful.
The sterile may dream us seduceful
And press us back to a cabooseful
Where we’ll play.

The French painters know we’re Toulouseful,
To U.S. folk Dr. Seuss-ful,
But Ogden Nash was the most gooseful
Of his day.

* * *

“Ents & Tech”.  Now there’s an image.

* * *

Once I saw a large graffito

There is only

ONE
ENO

whose tautology so impressed me that I verified by adding below

naturally

although, or perhaps because, I had then neither heard, nor heard of, Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, RDI.

* * *

Of course a preacher fails if he is taken for a free-floating miasma of misdeed.

* * *

What a name for a poet-scientist is Valerie Laws!

* * *

In Vanamonde I’ve like others elsewhere wondered about the reality or existence of fictional characters.  Perhaps few today believe in Thor. Yet in a sense he exists.  O’Brian says to Winston Smith “You do not exist.”

* * *

You very nicely begin [DD 221 p. 2] with the Space Race and end it “Out of Space”.  Indeed one wonders what could be out of space.  Maybe this is like Hui Neng’s “What was your face before you were born?”

Roche Will Run Dublin 2019 Worldcon Masquerade

By John Hertz:  Progress Report 3 from Dublin 2019, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention (the 77th!), tells us Kevin Roche will be the Masquerade Director.

The Masquerade at an s-f con, once a dress-up party as its name implies, developed decades ago into an on-stage costume competition, with lights and sound and who knows what.  Wonders appear.  It typically outdraws anything except, at the Worldcon, the Hugo Awards themselves.  They are our most important event; the Masquerade is only our most spectacular.

As with other things at our conventions, it’s participatory.  Anyone can enter.  Novices have won Best in Show; to quote the late great Bill Rotsler, Hugo-winning fanartist and much-sought-after Masquerade judge, “Quantity of labor has nothing to do with art.”

Kevin Roche, a Master-class costumer, has directed Masquerades, notably at Renovation the 69th Worldcon (with Andrew Trembley), and chaired the 76th Worldcon (called simply “Worldcon 76”; some get names, some don’t).  Applause to him for so soon taking on such a demanding task – as with other things at our conventions, it’s like herding cats – let’s face it, here in the Imagi-Nation we’re seldom the best organized of folks.

I’ve known Brother Roche for years and had various adventures with him.  He knew the job was dangerous when he took it.

Kevin Roche (at right) on a panel about Workmanship Judging

It’ll be a grand Masquerade – that is, if the people who think this artform is fun, or who’d like to find out, show up and take part.  Which we shall.

The Dublin 2019 Masquerade E-mail address is masquerade@dublin2019.com. I don’t see any paper-mail address for it or the con in my otherwise-handsome copy of PR 3, which just arrived.  So you can write to me if you wish.  I’ve been a judge or Master of Ceremonies at lots of Masquerades; recently I was a judge at Worldcon 76, you can see my report here; I’ll help you get in touch.  My paper-mail address is public, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A.

Yes I Can

By John Hertz:  Maybe the spirit of Sammy Davis, Jr., will allow my borrowing his title. My reason can wait till the end.  You may find it sooner.

In this year’s Hugo Awards I’ve recommended Alternate Routes (Powers) for Best Novel and The Glass Bead Game for Best Novel of 1943 (Hesse; Retrospective Hugo).  Nominations close March 15th.

We’ll have a trial run of Best Art Book, besides our regular Best Related Work.  University of Chicago professor Harry Kalven used to talk of United States law on freedom of speech “working itself pure”, which seems to have been the story of Best Related Work so far, and may continue if Best Art Book is established.

Meanwhile I can recommend Out of This World at Home, vol. 5 of Mark Evanier’s Pogo collection The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, without injustice to the Michael Whelan art book Beyond Science Fiction – which, if regrettably titled, is full of wonders; see my note on an exhibit preceding it here.

Evanier says This World contains “two prime years of what I think is the best newspaper strip ever – and even folks who disagree with me on that don’t usually disagree by much.”

He knows a lot more about comics than I do, but I don’t have to decide about Little Nemo — or Krazy Kat — to applaud This World.

Rick Marschall in America’s Great Comic-Strip Artists (rev. 1997; p. 255) says, “Walt Kelly was master of all that could be surveyed….  Pogo generously included … fantasy, literary and intellectual touches, farce and parody, graphic brilliance … poetry … and good old-fashioned slapstick.”

Pogo, in the Okefenokee Swamp where he lives, is a possum.  Many things prove to be possible, or impossible, there.  In Latin – we can all guess whether Kelly delighted in this – possum means I can.

Pixel Scroll 2/2/19 Apologies To Voltaire

(1) THE BETTER BATTLE ANGELS OF OUR NATURE. The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Dalton makes it sound like the promotional beer (linked here the other day) is better than the movie — “‘Alita: Battle Angel’: Film Review”

…Twenty years in gestation, James Cameron’s long-cherished manga adaptation Alita: Battle Angel finally reaches the big screen with help from director Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson’s digital effects team. With that kind of cinematic pedigree, backed by a reported $200 million budget, this kick-ass cyberpunk adventure seems to be aiming for the same blockbusting box office heights as the Hunger Games franchise. But a lumpy script, muddled plot, stock characters and tired genre tropes may dampen its commercial breakout potential beyond its core sci-fi action-fantasy demographic. While not exactly a misfire, Rodriguez and Cameron’s joint effort lacks the zing and originality of their best individual work. Fox is releasing it across much of Europe next week, with a U.S. launch to follow Feb. 14.

(2) GOFUNDME AND CHARITY ANTHOLOGIES BENEFIT ROPES. Splatterpunk writer Christopher Ropes has a serious health problem with his teeth, and the horror-writing community is rallying to make the funds available. First, there’s Ropes’ GoFundMe, “Get Christopher’s Teeth Fixed” with photos that illustrate the problem.

My name is Christopher Ropes. I was born with ameleogenesis imperfecta, a condition that has caused more pain and suffering in my life than any other source, even my fibromyalgia. Essentially, I have teeth that rot and break much more easily than normal because they lack proper enamel protection. I’ve suffered through countless infections that swell up the entirety of my face. And all of this doesn’t even begin to describe the fact that my teeth just make me feel
ugly and unloveable.

I have no dental insurance because I’m on Disability and Medicare doesn’t cover any dental work, no matter how medically necessary.

My problems with my teeth have gotten so bad, I can hardly even chew anything anymore. I got an estimate from the dentist and all the work is going to come to approximately $14,000. I added a little bit to the total to cover any GoFundMe fees, as well as medications and special dietary needs while the work is being done, and the possibility that the estimate is shy of what the actual total will be.

On the same day his GoFundMe launched, two charity anthologies were released, the profits to benefit Christopher Ropes.

Planet X Publications is proud to present this charity anthology, benefitting our friend, horror writer Christopher Ropes. It features stories & poems generously donated from members of the weird fiction & horror communities.

Tables of Contents: Introduction by Nadia Bulkin / 1) Blue Broken Mind by Farah Rose Smith / 2) An Incident on a Cold Winter’s Afternoon by Matthew A. St. Cyr / 3) Fishing Boots by Douglas Draa / 4) Chindi & Night of the Skinwalker by Frank Coffman / 5) How to Live Without Meds? by Norbert Góra / 6) Nothing Else Matters by Calvin Demmer / 7) The Denturist by Jo-Anne Russell / 8) The Tooth by Russell Smeaton / 9) To Anne by Paula Ashe / 10) I Can’t See the Bottom by James Fallweather / 11) Forbidden Knowledge by K.A. Opperman / 12) Outlaws by Bob Pastorella / 13) Project AZAZEL by Christopher Slatsky / 14) Prototype by E.O. Daniels / 15) Eton’s Last Will and Testament by Maxwell Ian Gold / 16) Last Call at the Overlook by Kathleen Kaufman / 17) Reflection in Blood by Scott J. Couturier / 18) Four Ropes by Shayne Keen / 19 Vore by Brian O’Connell / 20) “Hotel California” is the Devil by John Claude Smith / 21) Spare Parts by Jill Hand / 22) Salten by John Boden / 23) The Fever River by Matthew M. Bartlett / 24) Verdure by Brandon Barrows / 25) “INK” by Sarah Walker / 26) Twitching and Chirping by Robert S. Wilson / 27) Denizens of Mortuun by C.P. Dunphey / 28) Hungery by John Linwood Grant / 29) Chrysalises by Jeffrey Thomas / 30) I Keep It in a Little Box by S. L. Edwards / 31) Trace of Presence by Jason A. Wyckoff / 32) Thirty-Two by Donald Armfield / Wisdom Tooth ~ Insanity’s Steed by Frederick J. Mayer / Afterword by Christopher Ropes

Table of Contents: Introduction to Volume Two by Michael Wehunt / 1) “Alouette A La Blanc” by Bob Freville / 2) A Plague Of The Most Beautiful Finery by Kurt Fawver / 3) Believe Me by Ashley Dioses / 4) New Moon in November by K.A. Opperman / 5) That What Was Under The Surface by Norbert Góra / 6) My Valentine’s Day Ball by Donna Marie West / 7) The Last to Die by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy / 8) Hammer Dulcimer by T.M. Morgan / 9) The Ballad Stone by Adam Bolivar / 10) Lost on the Road to Nowhere by Pete Rawlik / 11) The City of Xees by Scott J. Couturier / 12) The View by Philip Fracassi / 13) The Figurehead by A.P Sessler / 14) The Triumph of the Skies by Eric Ruppert / 15) Growth; or, The Transubstantiation of Apartment 3C by Ross T. Byers / 16) Fertility by Brooke Warra / 17) Zugzwang by K. H. Vaughan / 18) On a Bed of Bone by Can Wiggins / 19) Yellow Voices by Luis G. Abbadie / 20) The Outsider by John Paul Fitch / 21) Mutinous Facial Abstractions by John Claude Smith / 22) Of Blood, Oil & Tin by Michael Brueggeman / 23) Cold by Sean M. Thompson / 24) Umbriel is The Darkest Moon by Marguerite Reed / 25) Humlin by Farah Rose Smith / 26) 32 White Horses by Justin Burnett / 27) Convince Me Not to Put a Bell on You by Andrew M. Reichart / 28) A Little Delta of Filth by Jon Padgett / 29) 2.0 by Aaron Besson / 30) We All Make Sacrifices by Jonathan Maberry / 31) Insect Queen by Roy K. Phelps / 32) Last Wraps by Duane Pesice / Afterword by Christopher Ropes

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present F. Brett Cox and Peng Shepherd on Wednesday, February 20 at the KGB Bar in New York.

F. Brett Cox

F. Brett Cox’s debut collection, The End of All Our Exploring: Stories, was published by Fairwood Press in 2018.  His fiction, poetry, plays, articles, and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies.  With Andy Duncan, he co-edited the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic.  He is a co-founder of the Shirley Jackson Awards and currently serves as Vice-President of the SJA Board of Directors.  A native of North Carolina, Brett is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Norwich University and lives in Vermont with his wife, playwright Jeanne Beckwith.

Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet, and has lived in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York. Her debut novel, The Book of M, was chosen as an Amazon “Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Year,” and has been featured on The Today ShowNPR On Point, and in The Guardianio9, GizmodoSYFY Wire, and Elle Canada. Find her at www.pengshepherd.com or on Twitter @pengshepherd.

Starts 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY

(4) GOING FOR BROKE. Locus Online reports the results of a new “Author Income Survey”.

The Authors Guild has released their 2018 Author Income Survey. 5,067 authors participated, and the Guild says the results point to a “crisis of epic proportions for American authors, particularly literary writers.” The median income from writing was $6,080, a decline of 3% from their 2013 survey, and 42% from 2009, a drop the Guild ascribes to declining royalties, “blockbuster mentality” at publishing companies, and the sales practices of Amazon.com.

The Guild’s conclusions, and a PDF with lots of data (and anecdata) is available at the Authors Guild website.

(6) VARIANT HEINLEIN NOVEL “SIX-SIX-SIX” ON THE WAY. Phoenix Pick has announced “A New Robert A. Heinlein Book to be Published Based on Newly Recovered Manuscript”:

Phoenix Pick recently announced that, working with the Heinlein Prize Trust, they have been able to reconstruct the complete text of an unpublished novel written by Robert A. Heinlein in the early eighties.

Heinlein wrote this as an alternate text for “The Number of the Beast.” This text of approximately 185,000 words largely mirrors the first one-third of the published version, but then deviates completely with an entirely different story-line and ending.

This newly reconstructed text also pays extensive homage to two authors Heinlein himself admired: Edgar Rice Burroughs and E. E. “Doc” Smith, who became a good friend. Heinlein dedicated his book “Methuselah’s Children” to Smith, and partially dedicated “Friday” to Smith’s daughter, Verna.

The alternate text, especially the ending, is much more in line with more traditional Heinlein books, and moves away from many of the controversial aspects of the published version.

There has been speculation over the years about a possible alternate text, and the reason it was written, particularly since one version is not just a redo of the other ? these are two completely different books.

It is possible that Heinlein was having fun with the text as “The Number of the Beast” and the new book both deal with parallel universes. Given his sense of humor, it would not be surprising for Heinlein to have written two parallel texts for a book about parallel universes.

The new book was pieced together from notes and typed manuscript pages left behind by the author. It is currently under editorial review by award-winning editor, Patrick LoBrutto .

Phoenix Pick expects to publish both The Number of the Beast and the new book, tentatively titled ”Six-Six-Six,” just ahead of this year’s holiday season.

(7) UMBRELLA UMBRAGE. Alexander Lu reviews Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy:

…So on the one hand, I’m overjoyed to say that Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy adaptation has all the absurdity and chaos of the source material. On the other hand, I’m bummed because it feels like some of the comic’s inherent joy was lost in the jump between the page and the screen…

In contrast, Alex Abad-Santos likes Umbrella Academy—at least mostly so (Vox: “Netflix’s Umbrella Academy is as good as it is weird. It’s very weird.”) The article is subtitled, “The show weaves a brutal family portrait into a save-the-world adventure. It also has Mary J. Blige as a time-traveling assassin named Cha-Cha.”

…Portraying the rough parts of being a superhero has been a little bit harder, mainly because it’s so hard to believe that superhero lives could ever be that terrible. 

[…] Making the rotten part of being a superhero as essential as the good parts is where Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy begins. The stylish and crackling new series — written by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater — is based on the Eisner Award-winning comic book by Gerard Way (who is also the frontman for the band My Chemical Romance, and serves as the Netflix show’s co-executive producer) and artist Gabriel Ba (also a co-executive producer).

[…] The basic premise revolves around the parasol protégés: seven kids born to different mothers who are brought together as young children a man named Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) who becomes their adopted “dad.” He assembles them into a makeshift family, helps them hone their powers, and turns them into an efficient and successful teenage superhero squad known as the Umbrella Academy. 

[…] Style and doomsday aside, it’s in these pockets of emotion that The Umbrella Academy flashes its true beauty and intent. The show may be wrapped in superheroics and action, but it’s really about a group of people who have to work through their painful pasts and realize that forgiving one another is far tougher than the bigger task (saving the world, I guess) at hand. 

(8) BATTU? NOT MUCH, WHAT’ BATTU WITH YOU? The new Star Wars parks to be part of Disneyland and Disney World are being tied in to the SW novels (StarWars.com: “Step into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with new books, comics, and fables”). Six titles of the new series have been announced.

As we prepare to make our first pilgrimage to the fringes of Wild Space and journey to the planet of Batuu, when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort later this year, there’s a galaxy of books and comics coming to shelves featuring stories that intersect with the inhabitants of the far-flung world.

Meet Dok-Ondar, the infamous Ithorian who deals in rare antiquities, find out why General Leia Organa takes an interest in Black Spire Outpost, and indulge in myths and fables from a galaxy far, far away, plus other stories set on the Outer Rim locale.

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Things Used To Be Hidden” on Vimeo, Tara Mercedes Wood looks at what happens if people could see -everything- other people were trying to hide.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 2, 1905 Ayn Rand.  Best known for The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which is ISFDB lists as genre though I personally think they’re just pieces of badly written political shit. Her works have made into films many times starting with The Night of January 16th based on a play by her in the early Forties to an animated series based off her Anthem novella. No, I really don’t care who John Galt is. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 2, 1933 Tony Jay. Ok I most remember him as Paracelcus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even it turns out he was only in for a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavours include, and this is lest OGH strangle me only the Choice Bits, included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in “Brisco for the Defense” and Dougie Milford In Twin Peaks. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 2, 1940 Thomas Disch.  Camp Concentration, The Genocides, 334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done. He was a superb poet as well though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Nonfiction Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 2, 1949 Brent Spiner, 70.  Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite moments of him as Data. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I’ve not seen. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer LimitsTales from the DarksideGargoylesYoung JusticeThe Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest HeroesWarehouse 13 and had a lead role in the thirteen-episode run of Threshold
  • Born February 2, 1949 Jack McGee, 70. Ok so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series? Six episodes all told. Not as short as The Nightmare Cafe I grant you but pretty short. I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest, to name some of his genre roles.
  • Born February 2, 1986 Gemma Arterton, 33. She’s best known for playing Io in Clash of the Titans, Princess Tamina In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, and as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. She also voiced Clover in the current Watership Down series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DISCOVERY RECAP. Camestros Felapton enthuses about “Star Trek Discovery: A Point of Light (S2:E3)”.

Old-style Discovery comes roaring back with a vengeance and a bloody bat’leth. Spore drive, parasites, Klingon man-buns, Ash Tyler, black-ops Star Fleet, hallucinating Tilly, grimdark space-opera — its a week for the weird and wacky on Discovery and I love it.

It’s all story arc this week. Michael is looking for Spock and in a twist so is Spock’s mum. Meanwhile, Ash Tyler is starring in Game of Thrones: The Klingon Years as he struggles with his new reality and seeks to support L’rell as she attempts to unite the now much hairier Klingons. Meanwhile, meanwhile, Tilly is being harassed by the annoying ghost of a former school mate.

(13) COLLECTIBLES AUCTION. Prop Store (offices in London & LA) has an upcoming auction of vintage toys & collectables. Dozens of TV series and movies/series are represented, with the large majority of them genre. The full catalog is online as a PDF. A quick perusal of that reveals pre-auction estimates ranging from $100 (US) to at least $20,000.

Prop Store is pleased to announce its first Toys & Collectibles auction, to be held as a live-auction on Thursday February 28, and Friday March 1, 2019. The auction will include high-quality production toys, preproduction items, international collectables, store displays & marketing materials, bootlegs, posters, press kits, cast and crew items, and more.

(14) VERSE OF THE DAY. From John Hertz:

Each day we scroll up every pixel.
Their coruscant electronic tricks’ll
Make the Filers smile.
If we miss some, those five or six’ll
Set off commenters, whose kicks’ll
Busy us for a while;
Call OGH: he in the mix’ll
Let things run, unless a nix’ll
Scatter a dog-pile.
And never fear for Oz.  Your clicks’ll
Safely mispronounce “Pyrzqxgl”,
Not in dangerous style.

(15) LEARN FROM GAIMAN ONLINE. Just like Margaret Atwood, linked here the other day, Neil Gaiman also has a course available through Masterclass:

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman has spent more than a quarter of a century crafting vivid, absorbing fiction. Now, the author of Stardust, Coraline, and The Sandman teaches his approach to imaginative storytelling. Learn how to find your unique voice, develop original ideas, and breathe life into your characters. Discover Neil’s philosophy on what drives a story—and open new windows to the stories inside you.

(16) TRANSFORMERS. Will our future homes build themselves? A BBC video shows how it could be done — mostly blue-sky and simulations at this point, but some interesting ideas.

At the touch of a button, these incredible homes of the future can self-deploy and build themselves in less than 10 minutes, transforming from a box into a building eight to ten times its original size. Ten Fold Engineering’s David Martyn explains the surprisingly simple design concept that makes this possible.

(17) BABY, IT’S (REALLY) COLD OUTSIDE. Wake up sleepy head! The Chinese lander on the back side of the Moon is once again in daylight and has been back in touch with Earth after a 2-week slumber (Wired:China’s Moon Lander Wakes Up From Its Long, Ultra-Cold Night; partial paywall”).

We already know it’s chilly on the moon. A lunar night lasts 14 Earth days, and its temperatures can dip into a cold so punishing it makes the polar vortex look like a hot tub. But yesterday, China’s space agency announced that the frigidity of the lunar night is even more intense than we’d thought: The country’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft recorded an icy low of –310 degrees Fahrenheit (–190 degrees Celsius).

Consisting of a stationary lander and a six-wheeled rover named Yutu-2, Chang’e 4 landed on the far side of the moon earlier this [year]—a first for any spacecraft. During its first lunar night, Chang’e 4 went into hibernation, relying on internal heat sources to survive.

[…] With both the lander and rover awake, the rover should soon begin its task of exploring and analyzing the 115-mile-wide Von Kármán crater. Exploring the moon’s far side comes with many challenges: The lunar surface is exposed to more impacts from cosmic debris, so the rover will need to carefully watch the terrain (it has already beamed backed a panorama of its surroundings). […]

(18) READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? The subject line “Press Release: Former TAFF delegate found brutally murdered (NSFW?)” was pretty scary ‘til I found out the email press release was about Steve Green’s appearance in a horror movie:

British science fiction fan Steve Green, former editor of the newszine Critical Wave and European TAFF delegate to the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, has been found brutally murdered in the isolated English village Bell’s End… or at least, his character has, in a pastiche movie trailer currently in production from indie team Vamporama Films.

Terror at Bell’s End is an homage to the 1980s giallo slashers directed by the likes of Lucio Fulci (The Black Cat), Riccardo Freda (Iguana in a Woman’s Skin) and Luciano Ercoli (Forbidden Photos of a Woman Under Suspicion — the new Blu-ray release of which includes a 44-minute documentary from Vamporama Films among the extras). Steve, who’s producing the short, was persuaded by writer-director Chrissie Harper to make a grisly cameo as the mysterious killer’s first on-screen victim.

“It’s very tongue-in-cheek,” Steve explains, “only we’re not quite sure where the tongue came from and precisely whose cheek it’s been left in. My character gets murdered with his own pipe, which I guess underlines the health risks of smoking.”

Meanwhile, Vamporama Films is also seeking festivals and conventions interested in screening its latest horror short Monsters, described by former Giallo Pages editor John Martin as “a chilling glimpse into our future that looks like it was shot by the ghost of Mario Bava”.

(19) DO YOU WANT TO PLAY  GAME? The robots are taking to another human game, though this time not (yet) up to a championship level (TechCrunch: “MIT researchers are training a robot arm to play Jenga”).

Turns out training a robotic arm to play Jenga is a surprisingly complex task. There are, so to speak, a lot of moving parts. Researchers at MIT are putting a modified ABB IRB 120 to work with the familiar tabletop game, utilizing a soft gripper, force-sensing wrist joint and external camera to design a bot that can remove a block without toppling the tower. 

[…] “Unlike in more purely cognitive tasks or games such as chess or Go, playing the game of Jenga also requires mastery of physical skills such as probing, pushing, pulling, placing and aligning pieces. It requires interactive perception and manipulation, where you have to go and touch the tower to learn how and when to move blocks,” says MIT assistant professor Alberto Rodriguez. “This is very difficult to simulate, so the robot has to learn in the real world, by interacting with the real Jenga tower. The key challenge is to learn from a relatively small number of experiments by exploiting common sense about objects and physics.”

(20) SIL RETURNS. An old and much-missed Doctor Who villain is returning — but not in the current iteration of “NuWHO”. The original creator of the evil alien Sil, Philip Martin, and the original actor, Nabil Shaban, are reuniting in Devil Seeds of Arodor, which is being produced independently of the BBC. The DVD’s due out in November. Full details here.

An original drama from the world of BBCtv’s DOCTOR WHO, featuring SIL, the ruthless alien entrepreneur from planet Thoros Beta, played by NABIL SHABAN.

SIL is worried, very worried, which doesn’t keep his reptilian skin in the best condition! Confined in a cold detention cell on the moon, awaiting a deportation hearing for trial on drugs offences on Earth, he faces a death sentence if the application is successful and he is found guilty.

And his employers at the Universal Monetary Fund aren’t pleased either. Not at all.

As time runs out and friends desert him, SIL must use all of his devious, vile, underhanded, ruthless, and amoral business acumen to survive.

Can he possibly slime his way out of this one?

(21) ANOTHER DOCTOR WHO REFERENCE. This tweet went viral yesterday —

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew, Robert Adam Gilmour, Steve Green. Lise Andresen, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

We Can Do This Thing

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1286; January 31, 2017)  Today is National Gorilla-Suit Day (Don Martin Bounces Back, 1963).

I’ve just come to the passage in Scott Kelly’s Endurance (2017) where his twin brother Mark announces sending a gorilla suit to Scott at the International Space Station.

“Of course you need a gorilla suit,” Mark says (p. 219, in the large-print edition, which is what I could get).

Its launching rocket explodes, but – this is ahead of where I am in the book – another is sent, upon arrival captured with a robot arm (p. 498) by Kjell (pronounced “chell”) Lindgren, who also while at the Station 22 Jul – 11 Dec 15 was a long-distance Guest of Honor of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, presenting the Hugo Award for Best Novel by video.

Indeed Scott Kelly gorillas up, as he puts it (p. 529), of which a video got onto the Internet 23 Feb 16.