(1) POWERFUL RECOMMENDATION. Innocent Chizaram Ilo writes a guest feature for Sarah Gailey’s series: “Personal Canons: Lesley Nneka Arimah”. “They are the winner of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize (African Region). …They live in Lagos but dream of vast lives in unimaginable places.”
…The Kirkus Review, while reviewing Lesley’s brilliant collection of short stories, described it as one that heralds a new voice with certain staying power. This staying power is something that has continued to resonate within me anytime I read Lesley Nneka Arimah. That she decided to give her characters names like Nneoma, Ogechi, Mama Said, Ogechi, Chidinma, seemingly ordinary names belonging to ordinary people, and fling them into bold and daring futures or reimaginations opened up a world of possibilities for me that speculative fiction can be other things not just…white.
Everything and anything is possible and impossible in the whimsical worlds Lesley Nneka Arimah builds with fiction. This distinctive feature of her work keeps the reader on edge, even while reading her realistic stories, because we are always expecting the weird and wonderful. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s stories are also unapologetically political, from her allusions to Biafra in What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky and War Stories, to reimagining a world where women decide when they want to have children in Who Will Greet You At Home, to interrogating the pressure Igbo tradition places on women to get married in Skinned (which won the 2019 Caine AKO Prize for African Writing).
(2) WHEN DINOSAURS ROAMED THE TOWN. “A new interactive map lets you track where your city or town was located on Earth 750 million years ago” – Business Insider has the story. The map is here. You can pick various points in history to compare. For example, 400 million years ago during the Devonian Period my town was underwater and my neighbors included Plesiosaurus and Fresnosaurus.
…Have you ever wondered what the area around your hometown was like during the Cretaceous period, when the Tyrannosaurus rex roamed? How about before then, when Earth had just one supercontinent?
Now you can find out.
An interactive map developed by software engineer Ian Webster lets users track the locations of modern-day landmarks back hundreds of millions of years.
If you type in the name of your hometown or current city, the map can pinpoint its location on the planet in a given era, going back 750 million years (that’s about 150 million years before multicellular life emerged).
New York City, for example, formed part of the Rodinia supercontinent 750 million years ago.
Webster’s map relies on the work of geologist and paleogeographer Christopher Scotese, who created his own chronological map in 1998 that charts how tectonic plates shifted throughout Earth’s history.
(3) LONCON 3 REVISITED. Given that Britain is now bidding for the 2024 Worldcon, SF2 Concatenation’s Mark Bilsborough looks back at the last UK-venued Worldcon in “The 2014 SF Worldcon”.
Glasgow is bidding to host Worldcon in 2024, which would be a welcome British return for the science fiction and fantasy sprawling roadtrip that in recent years has taken in Helsinki, Melbourne and Dublin, as well as Glasgow itself in 2005 and London in 2014. This year it was meant to be in New Zealand, in Wellington, a great venue for SF folk, but global events kyboshed that one (though it did go ‘virtual’. The world’s first truly ‘world’ con?). Mostly other years since its inception have been North American affairs (as was last and will be next year’s, and 2022), so a 2024 return to UK shores is most welcome….
(4) ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR CONNIE WILLIS. The November/December Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine will publish a new holiday novella by Connie Willis. The release date for the issue is October 20, 2020. There will also be a signed and limited hardcover edition published by Subterranean Press in November (preorder here.)
About the Book:
Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law boyfriend.
But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past.
(5) APPRAISING BEOWULF. Filer StephenfromOttawa recommends Ruth Franklin’s “A ‘Beowulf’ for Our Moment in The New Yorker as a long, generally positive discussion of the Headley Beowulf translation.
I’m out of free articles at that site, but you might not be!
(6) THE DOCTOR DOESN’T MAKE HOUSE CALLS, BUT DALEKS DO. Simon Stephenson, author of Set My Heart To Five, tells Whatever readers where he got his Big Idea.
A few years ago, I spent a night in a chain hotel after a long series of international flights. I arrived after midnight, took a shower and an Ambien, and then discovered that I had forgotten my toothpaste. I called down to reception and ten minutes later, the doorbell on my room rang. I threw on my robe, grabbed a few dollars for a tip, and opened the door to reveal the creature that had perma-stalked my childhood nightmares: a Dalek.
For a moment, my Dalek and I stood in silent contemplation of each other. I had outrun them for decades but now Davros’ mechanical foot soldiers had caught me: alone, tired, drugged, be-robed and with no real weapons to defend myself except a Gideon bible and that thing they leave in hotel rooms that has something to do with shoes….
(7) JAMES BOND. A new trailer for No Time To Die dropped today.
(8) SAUNDERS OBIT. Charles Saunders (1946-2020), author of Imaro and Dossouye and creator of Sword and Soul, died in May of natural causes reported Milton Davis on Facebook. An African-American author and journalist who lived in Canada. Called a pioneer of Black Speculative Fiction, Saunders’ first sff story was published in 1974.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
September 3, 1996 — Burning Zone premiered on UPN. A series where the cast explored the worst kinds of epidemiological outbreaks. Yeah not the best viewing perhaps currently. It ran just one season of nineteen episodes With elements of the supernatural and super science as well. Initially, it was focused on virologist Edward Marcase as played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Dr. Kimberly Shiroma as played by Tamlyn Tomita. Due to the series’ epic low ratings at that point, they were removed in the middle of the season with Dr. Daniel Cassian as played by Michael Harris became the lead character. (It didn’t help.) Critical response to the series was overwhelmingly negative with it being compared quite unfavourably to The X-Files. To date, it has not been released to any of the streaming sites.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born September 3, 1930 – Cherry Wilder. New Zealander living two decades in Australia, two in Germany, then home. Ten novels, forty shorter stories; some short stories, poetry, under another name outside our field. Reviews in Foundation (F 54 a special Wilder issue), Interzone, Vector. Collection, Dealers in Light and Darkness. One Ditmar. (Died 2002) [JH]
- Born September 3, 1934 — Les Martin, 86. One of those media tie-in writers that I find fascinating. He’s written the vast majority of the X-Files Young Readers series, plus a trio of novels in the X-Files Young Adult series. He’s also written two Indiana Jones YA novels, and novelizations of Blade Runner and The Shadow. (CE)
- Born September 3, 1937 – Paul R. Alexander, 83. A hundred fifty covers, thirty interiors; three novels (with Laurie Bridges). Here is the 25th Anniversary Best from F&SF. Here is The Worlds of Frank Herbert. Here is The Witches of Karres. Here is The Best of “Trek” 10. Here is Crown of Empire. [JH]
- Born September 3, 1940 — Pauline Collins, 80. She played Queen Victoria in the Tenth Doctor story, “Tooth and Claw”, a most excellent tale, but she first showed up on Who over thirty years earlier as Samantha Briggs in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story. She’s appears in Tales of the Unexpected, The Three Musketeers, Julian Fellowes’ From Time to Time film and the Merlin series.(CE)
- Born September 3, 1943 — Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote Hawkwind lyrics. His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. His late Eighties novel The Armageddon Crazy was set in a post-Millennium States dominated by fundamentalists who toss the Constitution away. (CE)
- Born September 3, 1943 — Valerie Perrine, 77. She has an uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick in Diamonds Are Forever, her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. She showed up as Tins in “The Three Little Pigs” episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, and was April Flowers in “ Who’s Who: Part 3” of Ghostwriters. (CE)
- Born September 3, 1950 – Faren Miller, Ph.D., 70. Her book notes in Locus 1981-2018 earn her this place. A novel too, The Illusionists. [JH]
- Born September 3, 1956 – Fred Gambino, 64. Three hundred seventy covers, thirty interiors. Here is Ship of Shadows. Here is The Man in the High Castle. Here is N-Space. Here is Foundation. Here is the Dec 96 Analog and here is the May 18. Artbooks Ground Zero, Dark Shepherd. [JH]
- Born September 3, 1959 — Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Died 1989.) (CE)
- Born September 3, 1969 – John Picacio, 51. A hundred seventy covers, fifty interiors. Here is Dante’s Equation. Here is Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. Here is Mission of Gravity. Here is the Dec 10 Asimov’s. Here is When the Devil Drives. Artbook Cover Story. Interviewed in Clarkesworld, Locus, Shimmer. Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at Minicon 41, Boskone 47, Balticon 50, Westercon 68; roused support for bringing fifty folk to the 76th Worldcon (where he was a Guest of Honor) in his Mexicanx Initiative (i.e. including Mexicana, Mexicano). Three Hugos, seven Chesleys; World Fantasy Award; Solstice. Has been doing cards for his version of Lotería, e.g. here, here. [JH]
- Born September 3, 1974 — Clare Kramer, 46. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls III, The Gravedancers, The Thirst, Road to Hell, Road to Hell, Big Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween. (CE)
- Born September 3, 1980 – Jenny Han, 40. M.F.A. from the New School. Three novels for us; eight others, three being NY Times Best Sellers and a fourth winning the Young Adult 2015-2016 Asian / Pacific American Award for Literature. A short story too is ours, “Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me”. Website here. [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Does anyone remember this Trek episode? The Far Side.
- Garfield observes a competition.
- Off the Mark shows what happens when everybody talks and nobody listens if he conversation includes R2-D2.
(12) BOOK THOUGHTS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer groks “6 Books with Dan Moren”
5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?
Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising is one of my all time favorites. I can still remember the boxset that my aunt gave me—for years I was terrified of the cover image, with the Rider on the rearing horse outside of Will Stanton’s house. But once I finally got up the courage to start reading, I was transported into this amazingly atmospheric world, scenes and characters of which stick with me to this day. It’s just this master class in telling a young adult fantasy story that, like the best of them, has these dark and sinister elements. It’s one of the few books that I’d love to do a screenplay adaptation of (as long as we can all agree that the execrable 2007 movie never happened).
(13) PROPRIETY OF SELLING POINTS. Adri Joy questions what’s up with the marketing of a forthcoming 2021 book: “Tor.com Publishing, First Become Ashes, and the pretty pastel packaging of abuse” at Nerds of a Feather.
CW: Discussions of rape, rape apologism, abuse, slavery, racism, explicit BDSM. Spoilers for Docile by K.M. Szpara.
…The thing is, though, the desire to celebrate the transgressive blending of rape and happy endings (pleasure and pain!) plays out rather differently in an unmonetized fandom space than it does when backed up by a significant portion of a Big 5 Publishing imprint’s marketing budget and social media reach. The use of tags in fanfiction can be playful, but they are ultimately there to inform readers of the exact content of a piece of media (however imperfectly), and let them make their own choices. When turned into a marketing tool, the incentives for “tagging” completely change to become about what will sell, and that completely changes what is appropriate and what is trustworthy. Likewise, the choice to pair your dark stories with an unexpected pastel aesthetic is one thing when you’re choosing a Tumblr theme or commissioning an artist to draw your fic, but it has an entirely different weight behind it when you’re printing 75,000 hardbacks to go out to major stores and sit on the shelf alongside all the other pastel aesthetic SFF books which are almost entirely not about rape and BDSM. Once you’ve started writing about the traumatic, abusive cock cages in your book in cutesy handwriting font, it’s possible you’ve lost the plot entirely… but even if there is an audience that would be good for, it’s certainly not all 25,000 Twitter followers of Tor.com Publishing! These are not responsible choices; they deliberately obfuscate and misrepresent the book, and in doing so prevent potential readers – particularly those who aren’t clued in on the past pattern via Twitter – from making fully informed choices about their reading. For other books, that might be annoying, especially at hardback price point; for one with this combination of sensitive topics, it’s frankly dangerous….
(14) RADIO ACTIVITY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 yesterday broadcast Science Stories which this week concerned possible alien life in meteorites. A notion that goes back over 100 years. Apparently, Pasteur had an interest and around that time there was a hoax perpetrated (it is thought to discredit those arguing against Pasteur). Filers can listen to it here: “The meteorite and the hidden hoax”
Also yesterday, BBC Radio 4 broadcast Thinking Allowed which this week included mass surveillance. While this does sort of relate to an SFnal trope, of particular interest is that the exploration of present-day mass surveillance is through the prism of Orwell’s 1984. Filers can listen to it here: “Surveillance”.
(15) CREDENTIALS AHOY. Atlas Obscura invites you aboard “De Poezenboot (The Cat Boat)”.
De Poezenboot is an animal sanctuary floating on a canal in Amsterdam. It was founded by Henriette van Weelde in 1966 as a home for stray, sick, and abandoned felines, and has since grown into an official charity.
The house boat accommodates up to 50 cats at once, 14 of which are permanent residents. Human visitors are welcome on the vessel as well. Many come to choose a cat for adoption, but tourists are also welcome to drop in and scratch a kitty behind the ears.
(16) NEW ARRANGEMENT. In “Ghostbusters Theme: Medieval Bardcore Version” on YouTube, L’Orchestra Cinematique has a version of the Ghostbusters theme you can play at a SCA banquet.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: The Boys” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on the Amazon Prime series where “Superman is a stone-cold psychopath, Wonder Woman is a jaded alcoholic, The Flash is a jaded junkie who’s lost his edge, and Batman is pretty much the same.” Also featured: laser babies!
[Thanks to John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Catherine Lundoff, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]