NOTE: The latest WordPress “improvement” has eliminated the default quote format I have been using for years. I have to decide on a workaround, but for today quotes will be LARGE.
(1) F&SF COVER REVEALED. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Jan/Feb 2021 cover art is by Kent Bash.
(2) NO SFWANS NEED APPLY. Longshot Press owner Daniel Scott White tweeted about his current business model on December 3.
Two of his magazines were the subject of complaints last February, covered by File 770’s roundup: “Is This Practice Unreal or Unfit? It’s Both”. The first paragraph explains the issue:
Unreal and Unfit magazines use Thinkerbeat Reader to “chart… the authors that we thought did really well with a story submission.” But these are not stories they bought – six days ago they tweeted out a link to the list of stories they rejected. The page had names, titles, and a rating between one and five stars. One problem: none of the authors had given them permission to do so.
SFWA issued a statement on Facebook warning about the practices in March.
Nine months later, Longshot Press is now trying to discredit SFWA in its post “A Clear Bias at the SFWA”.
Why does the SFWA post fake news? Why do they exhibit so much bias? There are a number of cases, but let’s begin with a solid example.
The SFWA issued a warning (via Writer Beware) stating that Thinkerbeat was the publisher of both the Unfit and Unreal magazines. This has never been the case. They have always been published by us, Longshot Press. Why didn’t the SFWA check the facts? Why did they mislead the public? Why, most importantly, haven’t they removed the false statement? Here is the statement they made:
The Board of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is issuing a warning regarding short fiction publisher Thinkerbeat (wrong!), which publishes the semi-pro magazines “Unfit” and “Unreal.” (wrong!) The publisher (wrong!) publicly posts lists of rejected stories along with the author’s name and a numeric score.
This publisher’s (wrong!) behavior is far outside of industry standards and is contrary to the interests of writers. Humiliating writers, betraying their trust, and violating their privacy is not acceptable.
Jim C. Hines breaks down Longshot Press’ case in a Twitter thread that starts here.
(3) THE LAST SALVO. Sarah Gailey winds up their Personal Canons series with a comment and a table of links to all the posts: “Personal Canons: On Endings”.
…I was absolutely staggered by the response to my open call for submissions. Many people published essays of their own. (One of my favorites belongs to Meg Elison, who wrote powerfully about The Neverending Story. DongWon Song also wrote beautifully about the notion of canon as “outdated, colonialist, racist, sexist, and anti-queer.”). Multiple anonymous donors sent generous funds to help me purchase a higher volume of essays than I would have been able to on my own. Several of my brilliant colleagues got in touch with contributions to the series, waiving payment so I could bring in more voices from among submissions.
And oh, wow, the submissions. They were an absolute embarrassment of riches. I had the honor of reading an incredible range of pieces from writers around the world. There were reflections on gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, race, ethnicity, upbringing, religion, and more. Some of the pieces were sharp and funny; some of them were meditative and nuanced; some of them grappled hard with tarnished legacies and shifting identities.
All of them were powerful love letters to the stories that made us who we are today….
(4) HOLLOW SOUND. Michael Moorcock and Spirits Burning are doing a series of albums based off the Dancers At The End Of Time Trilogy. They just released the second album The Hollow Land: “Michael Moorcock releases new collaboration with Spirits Burning”.
… “The Hollow Lands is a beautiful piece of work, building on An Alien Heat with musical subtlety and intelligence,” says Moorcock. “I am delighted by the interpretation and can’t wait to hear the resolution to this amazing project! They are a wonderful complement to what is one of my own favourite sequences and I could not hope for a better interpretation.”
The Hollow Lands is a continuation of a trilogy of Moorcock’s stories, dubbed The Dancers At The Ends Of Time series, that began with An Alien Heat, released in 2018. For this second instalment, Falcone has assembled a stellar cast of progressive rock luminaries including Blue Öyster Cult members Albert Bouchard, Eric Bloom, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and Joe Bouchard, Hawkwind associates Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bemand, Bridget Wishart, Adrian Shaw and Dead Fred as well as Nektar’s Ron Howden, Strawbs‘ Chas Cronk, and many more!
(5) TAXONOMY. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll identifies “Science Fiction’s Four Basic Types of Lost Worlds”. The example for one of them is a C.J. Cherryh novel.
It seems reasonable to distinguish between worlds that were lost by accident and those that were misplaced on purpose. Similarly, one can distinguish between worlds that have since been recontacted and ones that are still on their own. Thus, four basic flavours….
(6) VINTAGE TV. The Guardian quotes “Ridley Scott on sci-fi epic Raised By Wolves: ‘Watch it with three bottles of wine!’”
The director is returning to TV after 50 years, with a drama about two androids raising humans on a far planet. He talks about working through lockdown, doing big adverts for China – and living on £75 a week.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- Forty years ago, Manly Wade Wellman would win the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He’s known for his fantasy and horror stories set in the Appalachian Mountains, which draw on the native folklore of that region. His best known creations are John the Balladeer, Judge Pursuivant and John Thunstone. He would be inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame several years later.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born December 9, 1848 – Joel Chandler Harris. JCH’s Tales of Uncle Remus are brilliant fantasy. They’re also wretchedly racist. They weren’t originally; he collected them from Southern blacks, who were telling their own folklore; his retelling ran them through his own mind; he made them popular, and he slanted them. Should he be applauded? Here is a report on the Wren’s Nest, JCH’s house made into a museum by his great-great-great-grandson, whose name is – Shakespeare. Here is its Website. I could say JCH’s Shakespeare is a monkey’s uncle, or maybe godfather, but this is complicated enough. (Died 1908) [JH]
- Born December 9, 1900 – Margaret Brundage. High-school classmate of Walt Disney (“I finished. He didn’t”). Working in pastels on illustration board she became the lead cover artist for Weird Tales. Her lead subject was nude and semi-nude women. Those issues sold; some found them offensive. Here is The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage (from the Jan 38 WT; another cover used this from the Oct 33 WT). She was the first to illustrate Conan the Barbarian, and Jirel of Joiry; she seems to have been the first woman graphic artist in SF. We just voted her a Retrospective Hugo as Best Pro Artist of 1944. (Died 1976) [JH]
- Born December 9, 1926 — Kirk Douglas. He’s best remembered as Spartacus, but he’s was on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (in the lead roles), Saturn 3, Seven Days in May and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea plus he showed up on Tales from the Crypt and Touched by an Angel. He was also the very last recipient of the Ray Bradbury Creativity Award which was presented to him by Bo Derek. Did you know that Kirk and Ray did a Japanese coffee commercial together? See here.(Died 2020.) (CE)
- Born December 9, 1934 — Judi Dench, 86. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude and sexy faerie. No, I’m not mentioning Cats. Really I’m not. (CE)
- Born December 9, 1947 — Sarah Smith, 73. She has authored King of Space, a work of genre fiction published as a hypertext novel by Eastgate System, one of the first such works. She’s written two conventional genre novels, The Knowledge of Water and The Other Side of Dark, plus a double handful of short fiction and essays. (CE)
- Born December 9, 1948 – Curt Stubbs. Central to Phoenix fandom, a founder of the Central Arizona SF Society and of LepreCon. Guest of Honor at MileHiCon 11 and TusCon 8. See this appreciation, with a tribute from Jeanne Grace Jackson and a short heartfelt note from Teresa Nielsen Hayden who rarely speaks here. (Died 2019) [JH]
- Born December 9, 1952 – Nicki Lynch, age 68. She and husband Richard Lynch have done much together; his birthday was December 4th, so you can see their joint honors there; I can’t omit that their fanzine Mimosa won six Hugos; you can see it electronically here; and I point you again to a good write-up of them, with a good photo too, here. They contribute separately to SFPA (in this case not the SF Poetry Ass’n but the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, an apa), a fine fannish custom. [JH]
- Born December 9, 1952 — Michael Dorn, 68. Best known for his role as the Klingon Worf in Trek franchise. Dorn has appeared on-screen in more Star Trek episodes and movies as the same character than anyone else. He also played at least one other character in the Trek universe. Rumoured to be appearing in the second season of Picard. (CE)
- Born December 9, 1970 — Kevin Hearne, 50. I have really enjoyed the Iron Druid Chronicles. Though I’ll confess that I’ve not yet read the spin-off series, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries. Yeah, it really, really does exist. Sausages figure prominently. (CE)
- Born December 9, 1976 – Michelle Muenzler, age 44. Fifty short stories, two dozen poems, in Apex, Daily SF, The Colored Lens, Electric Velocipede, Space and Time, Star*Line. Also a Broken Cities novella. Also bakes Turkish-coffee shortbread. [JH]
(9) AT LEAST HIS ‘S’ IS STILL RED. “Superman & Lois reveals first look at Tyler Hoechlin’s new suit” – Yahoo! News has the story. “I miss the red hotpants,” says John King Tarpinian. Show premieres February 23.
After wearing the same costume for his guest-appearances on Supergirl and in the Arrowverse crossovers, Tyler Hoechlin is getting a new Superman suit for Superman & Lois — and The CW has just unveiled our first look at the new threads…
Designed by Laura Jean Shannon (Titans, Black Lightning) and built by her LA-based supersuit team in conjunction with Creative Character Engineering, Hoechlin’s new costume feels very much in line with recent big-screen interpretations on the character. Shannon streamlined the look by ditching the thick cape straps, gave him a sleek new belt, and brightened the Man of Steel’s signature shield (Never forget, the S stands for “hope”).
Furthermore, there’s a very practical reason for why Hoechlin is receiving a new suit. “Originally, [Hoechlin] came on for the crossovers and that suit wasn’t built to sustain a series,” Superman & Lois showrunner Todd Helbing revealed at DC FanDome in September.
The newest addition to the CW’s superhero universe, Superman & Lois follows Clark Kent (Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Tulloch) as they juggle working (and saving the world) and raising their two teenage sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin) after moving back to Smallville.
(10) FOR PEANUTS FANS. The Library of America hosts a virtual event, “Peanuts at 70: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and The Meaning of Life,” a conversation with Sarah Boxer, Jonathan Lethem, Clifford Thompson, and Chris Ware; Andrew Blauner, moderator, on Wednesday, December 16 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Registration required at Eventbrite.
In 1950 Charles M. Schulz debuted a comic strip that is one of the indisputable glories of American popular culture—hilarious, poignant, inimitable. The Peanuts characters continue to resonate with millions of fans, their beguiling four-panel adventures and television escapades offering lessons about happiness, friendship, disappointment, childhood, and life itself.
Join editor Andrew Blauner and four distinguished contributors to the LOA collection The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life, for a seventieth anniversary conversation reflecting on the deeper truths of Schulz’s deceptively simple strip and its impact on their lives and art and on the broader culture.
(11) DON’T BOOK YOUR JURASSIC PARK TRIP YET.“Does the DNA of bugs preserved in amber really last millions of years?” The answer is no, but if you would like more details about why the answer is no, SYFY Wire’s article can help you out.
… Unlike that huge needle that went right through the amber and into the mosquito in that iconic scene from Jurassic Park, extracting DNA from fossilized insects in amber often involves soaking the sample in chloroform to free the inset. The researchers found out this only fast-forwards the degradation process. DNA starts breaking apart almost immediately after death. Amber that has survived a hundred million years has already gone through enough.
(12) HANDS ACROSS TIME. Boing Boing’s post “Miles of Ice Age art discovered along South American river” also includes a link to a video of the art.
A 15-kilometer “Sistine Chapel” of Ice Age rock art has been found along the Colombian Amazon. It includes depictions of now-extinct animals like mastodons, giant sloths, and paleollamas.
(13) SPACE ADVICE FOR THE NEW ADMINISTRATION. “Building Back Better: Critical first issues for a successful Biden space policy” is an op-ed by the Secure World Foundation Staff at Space News.
…First, creating and implementing national space policy needs to be a whole-of-government process that integrates perspectives, capabilities, and interests from across all relevant federal agencies. In 2016, the Trump administration revived the National Space Council to formalize a separate space policy process and raise its visibility within the federal bureaucracy and the public. The Biden administration should continue to use the National Space Council as the main body for developing and coordinating national space policy. They can build on the Council’s success by staffing it with experts who understand both the interagency process and the importance of space, and by reforming the Council’s existing User Advisory Group to increase the representation of a diverse range of users of space services and applications.
Of immediate concern to nearly everyone in the space industry is the growing risk from orbital debris, which consists of dead satellites, spent rocket stages, and other pieces that have accumulated in orbit around Earth over the last 60 years. The on-going deployment of large constellations of thousands of commercial satellites only heightens discussions concerning the risks of space debris and collision with other spacecraft, as well as challenges to space traffic management and risk of radiofrequency interference amongst all current and future spacecraft….
(14) PLANETARY DEFENSE DRILL. Jeff Foust makes “The case for Apophis” at The Space Review.
On April 13, 2029—a Friday the 13th—the asteroid Apophis will pass remarkably close to the Earth, coming within 31,000 kilometers of the Earth’s surface, or closer than satellites in geostationary orbit. In late 2004, shortly after its discovery, astronomers projected at one point a 1-in-37 chance of a collision in 2029, but additional observations soon ruled out any impact. A small risk of an impact in April 2036 lingered for a few years, particularly if the asteroid passed through a narrow “keyhole” of space near Earth during its 2029 flyby (see “Sounding an alarm, cautiously”, The Space Review, May 31, 2005), but that, too, has since been ruled out.
With the near-term risk of an impact eliminated, Apophis has shifted from a threat to an opportunity. That 2029 close flyby makes the asteroid, several hundred meters across, an ideal target for studies by ground-based telescopes and radars. It also puts it in reach of spacecraft missions, including relatively small, low-cost ones.
(15) LOG ON. The Doctor Who Festive Holiday Yule Log is part of Christmas on the TARDIS courtesy of BBC America.
Give your holiday season some cozy Doctor Who cheer with a crackling fire, some biscuits, and a few Thirteenth Doctor surprises! Can you spot all the hidden festive secrets?
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Avarya on Vimeo.
Embarked on a spaceship in the hope of finding a new habitable planet, the human trapped in his own ship after the robot overseer finds every single candidate planet unsuitable. Eventually the human finds a way out, but that will only reveal a dark secret
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Anne Marble, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Gordon Van Gelder, Kathy Sullivan, Cath Jackel, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]