By Dann: The sixth Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO #6) began with the submission of self-published fantasy works on June 1, 2020. The first 300 author-submitted works were accepted into the competition. The major qualifiers were that the book must be self-published, must be currently available for purchase, must be a work of fantasy, and must be either a stand-alone novel or the first book in a series.
The works were then divided into ten groups of 30 with each group being assigned to one of ten volunteer sites/organizations that provide reviews of works of fantasy. Each site read their 30 assigned works and promoted one book into the finalist round.
Once the finalists were identified, each review site read, reviewed, and rated the nine remaining finalists. The winner will be the book with the highest average rating from the ten review sites.
SPFBO #6 is quickly coming to a close. Most of the reviewers have read most of the books. Twenty out of 100 reviews are yet to be completed. The following table (data from April 19, 2021) provides the ratings as well as (1) links to the books, (2) links to the authors’ websites, (3) links to the review blogs, and (4) links to their specific reviews (click on the score number).
Use the slide at the bottom of the table to bring the right half into view.
* = Blogger chose this finalist. ** = Blogger’s top book.
Mark Lawrence noted that a number of the blogs/reviews reduced their scores for The Combat Codes on the basis that it wasn’t fantasy.
Mark recently announced that SPFBO will return for a seventh season on June 1, 2021. One of the ten review sites will not be participating in SPFBO #7. Any reviewer(s) that would be interested in committing to the full reading/review process should contact Mark directly via one of his publicly acknowledged channels.
“We updated the Model Trade Book Contract last year right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We never could have predicted just how deleterious the crisis would be on working writers, with 71.4 percent of authors reporting losing, on average, 49 percent of their regular pre-pandemic income, based on our latest member survey,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild. “Given this situation, we have been exploring various ways to help ease the lives and careers of professional writers, which is why the Authors Guild Council recently voted to remove the Model Trade Book Contract from behind our member paywall and make it freely accessible for all writers, publishers and anyone interested in book contracts. We hope that publishers will look to its terms in creating their own or adopt it, and we want authors around the globe to have access to it so they can understand what terms and issues they should be aware of before signing any book deal.”
(2) THEY’RE BACK. “Wakandans Featurette/Marvel Studio’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” on YouTube is a trailer from Disney+ that announces that Wakandans have shown up in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.
(3) SPFBO. Mark Lawrence has announced that he will be starting the next Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off on June 1st. They need another blogger/reviewer.
… When the Best Series Hugo was proposed, the argument was that a lot of popular and long-running series are overlooked by the Hugos – or the Nebulas for that matter – because the individual novels don’t stand alone very well and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
However in practice, such series, no matter how popular, are rarely nominated. Particularly The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is notable by its absence, even though the Best Series Hugo seems tailor-made for this series.
Instead, the Best Series ballot tends to consist of trilogies by authors Hugo voters like and where individual volumes have often made the ballot before as well as of works set in the same wold that form a series if you squint really hard. I guess most Hugo voters simply aren’t series readers.
That said, the actual Best Series ballot looks pretty good this year. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells is a hugely popular series where prettty much every installment has either been a finalist or would have been, if Martha Wells hadn’t withdrawn two Murderbot novellas from consideration in 2019. It’s also a great series….
… Unlike other sites where NASA has sent rovers and landers — including the landing spot of the new Perseverance rover and its Mars helicopter — powerful gusts of wind have not been sweeping Elysium Planitia. These winds, called “cleaning events,” are needed to blow the red Martian dust off the solar panels of NASA’s robots. Without their help, a thick layer of dust has accumulated on InSight, and it’s struggling to absorb sunlight.InSight’s solar panels were producing just 27% of their energy capacity in February, when winter was arriving in Elysium Planitia. So NASA decided to start incrementally turning off different instruments on the lander. Soon the robot will go into “hibernation mode,” shutting down all functions that aren’t necessary for its survival.
By pausing its scientific operations, the lander should be able to save enough power to keep its systems warm through the frigid Martian nights, when temperatures can drop to negative-130 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The amount of power available over the next few months will really be driven by the weather,” Chuck Scott, InSight’s project manager, said in a statement.
InSight is still in good condition — it’s even using its robotic arm — but an out-of-season storm could cause a power failure. If the lander’s batteries die, it might never recover.
“We would be hopeful that we’d be able to bring it back to life, especially if it’s not asleep or dead for a long period of time,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator, told Insider. “But that would be a dicey situation.”
This novel long predates the heyday of wormholes; it doesn’t even use the phrase. But it uses spacetime anomalies, which are just like wormholes. With one exception: they don’t just have an entrance and an exit. They can take you all sorts of interesting places if you enter the anomaly with the wrong approach vector. A small error calculating the vector and a hapless ship could find itself light-millennia off-course, with no clear idea how to get home. No prizes for guessing if this happens to the Asgard, the very ship on which the eponymous Starman Jones is serving. Nor is this worst that will happen to the unfortunate castaways.
(8) MCCRORY OBIT. Actress Helen McCrory, OBE, (1968-2021) died April 16 reports GEEKchocolate.
We are hugely saddened to hear of the death of the wonderful Helen McCrory, known to us as Rosanna Calvierri’s in Doctor Who’s Vampires of Venice, but with a resume which stretched from Interview with the Vampire, Charlotte Gray, The Count of Monte Cristo, Skyfall, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, a recurring role in Harry Potter as Narcissa Malfoy, and a long stint as Polly Grey on Peaky Blinders, as well as two appearances as Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.
(9) FELIX SILLIA OBIT. The actor who played Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, Felix Sillia, has died at the age of 84 reports SYFY Wire.
April 16, 1955 –On this day in 1955, Science Fiction Theatre aired “Time Is Just A Place” as the second episode of the first season. It’s from Jack Finey’s “Such Interesting Neighbors” (published in Collier’s, 1951) which would later form the basis of the March 20, 1987 adaptation of the story under its original title for Amazing Stories. The story is that neighbors are increasingly suspicious of the inventions of Mr. Heller, who claims to be an inventor, who uses a robotic vacuum cleaner and a flashlight that beams x-rays. It starred Don DeFore, Warren Stevens and Marie Windsor. You can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 16, 1891 – Dorothy Lathrop. Illustrator and author. Historically a lot of good fantasy has been written for children; folks who appreciate fantasy know to look there. DL illustrated twoscore books, writing nine herself, also nonfiction. Rachel Field’s Hitty, illustrated by DL, won RF a Newbery Medal; DL’s illustrations for Helen Fish’s Animals of the Bible won DL a Caldecott Medal. Here is DL’s cover for an ed’n of The Little Mermaid. Here is a dandelion soldier. Here is an interior for Mopsa the Fairy. This is from DL’s Fairy Circus. Here is Across the Night Sky. Here is a 2011 appreciation with another score of pictures. (Died 1980) [JH]
Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov. He had a number of genre appearances such as being in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard, in the animated Robin Hood by voicing both Prince John and King Richard, as simply The Old Man In Logan’s Run, Truck Driver In The Great Muppet Caper, and in Alice in Wonderland as The Walrus. He wrote The Old Man and Mr. Smith: A Fable which is clearly genre. Genre adjacent (well sort of), he played Hercule Poirot twice. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born April 16, 1922 — Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being some. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born April 16, 1922 — John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both an excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo finishing sixth in the balloting at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born April 16, 1953 – J. Neil Schulman. Four novels, half a dozen shorter stories; collection Nasty, Brutish, and Short Stories (speaking of Hobbes’ Leviathan, I used to joke that the tiger should have been Calvin, and the boy Hobbes because he was nasty, brutish, and short); “Profiles in Silver” for The Twilight Zone; two Prometheus Awards. I can’t remember ever agreeing with him, but I miss him. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born April 16, 1954 — Ellen Barkin, 65. Usually I don’t do a birthday listing for just a few genre appearances but I make an exception for those performers who appeared in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Barking played Penny Priddy in that film and that was her only genre appearance other than playing Kathleen in the Into The West film about Irish Travellers and a very special horse named Tír na nÓg. (CE)
Born April 16, 1962 — Kathryn Cramer, 59. Writer, editor, and literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well. They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website — Kathryncramer.com. (CE)
Born April 16, 1970 – Brandon McKinney, age 51. Here is a fine cover for John Whitman’s novelization Star Wars. Here is a cover for JW’s Phantom Menace. Interiors for both. Here is Batman, here is Robin. Here is Spider-Man. Here is Bruce Lee in The Dragon Rises. Also Elfquest; see here. [JH]
Born April 16, 1975 — Sean Maher, 46. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of animated DAC films, to wit Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin,,Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Batman: Hush. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. (CE)
Born April 16, 1978 – Amy Ruttan, age 43. Four novels for us; two dozen others. “Half the fun of writing historicals and being swept away in a different time period is the research…. let someone else you trust have a look over your work. You’ll be surprised what you as an author won’t pick out.” [JH]
Born April 16, 1983 – Thomas Olde Heuvelt, age 38. Too little (say I) of his work has been translated from Dutch into English. “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” was and won a Hugo, which may be some encouragement. Six novels, sixteen shorter stories; one novel, five shorter stories in English so far. Three Paul Harland prizes. [JH]
Born April 16, 1990 – Kusano Gengen, age 31. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Only three stories yet translated into English; one is “Last and First Idol” – yes, alluding to Olaf Stapledon – which won a Seiun, and is the lead story in a 2018 collection with the other two. KG drew a thousand words from Jonathan Clements, of which I’ll quote a few about “Idol”: “Described by one of the Hayakawa Sci-Fi Contest [which “Idol” won – JH] panelists as ‘stupid’, and by an employee of his own publisher as ‘abysmal’, Kusano’s work of recursive SF provocatively combines the breathless, vapid prose of a teenage school story with the portentous, epic concerns of Space Opera, turning each into a wry commentary on the pomposity of the other.” Meanwhile Kusano-san went off to Hokkaidô University for a Ph.D. [JH]
(13) IMAGINARY PAPERS ON YOUR DOORSTEP. The Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination today published the 6th issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.
This issue features writing from media scholar Lisa Yin Han, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, and learning sciences researcher Ruth Wylie.
(14) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has scheduled three more FanHistory Project Zoom Sessions. To attend, send an RSVP to email@example.com in order to receive a link.
April 17, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – Early Star Trek Fandom, with Ruth Berman and Devra Langsam.
Stories and anecdotes from Ruth and Devra about their entry into fandom, about the origins of Star Trek fandom, and how they came to publish T-Negative and Spockanallia. For those of us that came into fandom later, here’s a chance to hear how Star Trek was received in general fandom, how Trek fandom got started, who the BNFs were and what they were they like. How did the first Trek fanzines and Trek conventions affect fandom, and how did Trek fandom grow and become its own thing.
April 27, Tuesday – 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 9PM London. An Interview with Erle Korshak by Joe Siclari.
Erle Korshak is one of our remaining FIrst Fans (inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996) and a Guest of Honor at Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon). Erle was an organizer of the first Chicon, the 1940 Worldcon, and was one of the Worldcon auctioneers for many years. He started Shasta Publishers, one of the first successful specialty SF publishers. He was also involved with early SF movies. In this session, fan historian Joe Siclari will interview Erle and his son Steve about early fandom, early conventions (including Worldcons), Shasta, and both Erle and Steve’s continuing interest in illustration art. Note: this is a midweek session.
May 22, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – An Interview with Bjo and John Trimble.
Bjo and John Trimble have had an enormous impact on fandom from the 1950s onward. They’ve pubbed their ish, and some of the zines are available on FANAC.org. Bjo created the convention art show as we know it today (pre-pandemic) with Project Art Show, and published PAS-tell to share info with interested fans everywhere. In LASFS, Bjo had a large role in reviving a flagging LASFS in the late 50s. Her most famous contribution was the successful Save Star Trek campaign which resulted in a 3rd year of the original series. Bjo was one of the organziers of Los Angeles fandom’s film making endeavors. John is a co-founder of the LASFS clubzine, De Profundis and an editor of Shangri-L’Affaires. Bjo and John were Fan Guests of Honor at ConJose (2002), and were nominated twice for Best Fanzine Hugos. Bjo was nominated for Best Fan Artist Hugo. In this interview, expect stories and anecdotes of Los Angeles fandom, how the art show came to be, Save Star Trek and more.
(15) BEAMING INTO YOUR HOME. Stay tuned as Galactic Journey boldly goes through 1966!
Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings television show is going to cost all the gold in the Lonely Mountain.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Amazon will spend roughly NZ$650 million — $465 million in U.S. dollars — for just the first season of the show.
That’s far above previous reported estimates that pegged the fantasy drama as costing an already record-breaking $500 million for multiple seasons of the show.
“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone,” Stuart Nash, New Zealand minister for economic development and tourism, told Morning Report. “This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”
The figures were released as part of as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act and initially reported by the New Zealand outlet Stuff. The documents also confirmed the studio’s plan to film potentially five seasons in New Zealand — as well as possible, as-yet-unannounced spinoff series.
By comparison, HBO’s Game of Thrones cost roughly $100 million to produce per season, with its per-episode cost starting at around $6 million for season one and eventually rising to around $15 million per episode in season eight….
… However, part of the beauty of Infinity Train has always been its conciseness. The animated series takes on an anthology format. Each season follows a different passenger on the titular train, where each car holds a new world. Passengers are assigned a glowing green number that goes down as they learn more lessons and work to resolve the problems in their life. When their numbers reach zero, they can exit the train. Each season is only 10 episodes long, and at 11 minutes each they pack in an astounding amount of character development and heart. …
(18) KING OF THE MOVIES. There will be an online “Dollar Baby film festival” hosted by Vancouver’s Baker Street Cinema of unreleased Stephen King movies from April 23-25. Full details at the link.
Hosted by Canadian film production company Barker Street Cinema, the virtual festival, called STEPHEN KING RULES, will screen 25 submissions by filmmakers from all over the world, many of which have never been seen by a global audience before.
Since 1977, the Master of Horror – Stephen King – has allowed emerging filmmakers to adapt his previously unproduced short stories into films that may help launch their careers through what is called the Dollar Baby Deal. Barker Street’s STEPHEN KING RULES Dollar Baby Film Festival will showcase an exciting line-up of these independent movies, including interviews and panel discussions with the filmmakers themselves….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Dann, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, N., Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Bill, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day MixMat and Cliff with an assist from Jack Lint and Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) VARLEY MEDICAL UPDATE. R. Graeme Cameron relayed a report that John Varley’s heart bypass surgery today was successful.
Spider Robinson just dropped quickly in and out of my Monday fannish zoom meet to inform me that “Herb” John Varley’s heart operation went well, no complications, and they’ll be keeping him for five days to monitor recovery, then let him go home. Spider very relieved. Operation successful.
And according to Andrew Porter, “Varley’s partner Lee Emmett reports that he has successfully undergone a quadruple bypass and is in the ICU; he will be in the hospital for the next five days/”
(2) A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS. Mark Lawrence illustrates the limited effectiveness of an endorsement on a bookcover from a bestselling author by showing his own frustrated efforts to get attention from the many people who have already signed up for news about his work: “The Extraordinary Struggle to be Heard”.
…I’m a fairly popular author. People pay MONEY to read my books. Enough so that I can live off the proceeds. You would think this would mean that, when I offer my writing for free, people would jump on it. At least some of them. I’ve sold nearly two million books and must have hundreds of thousands of readers. So how many do you think would try on my recommendation not somebody they’ve never heard of but me: Marky?
On Wattpad I’ve been putting out chapters of a book I started writing called Jacob’s Ladder. I think it’s good. I’ve been alerting the 9,830 people who follow/friend me on Facebook to each chapter as it’s posted. I’ve also been posting about them to the 7,506 members of the Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers group on Facebook where I’m reasonably popular.
I also have 2,815 followers on Wattpad itself who get alerts when I post the chapters. And I’ve tweeted about each chapter to my 28,600 followers on Twitter. And I’ve blogged on Goodreads about it where I have 48,029 followers.
I posted chapter 5 two days ago and it’s had 21 views (which are not necessarily reads) at least one of which was me.
All of which I throw out there to demonstrate how ridiculously hard it is to be heard and to have that audience act.
Now, new authors, consider how much of an impact the weeks this slow reader spends reading your book will have on your sales when condensed into a line on the cover…
(3) NYRSF READINGS THIS WEEK. Charles Yu will be on The New York Review of Books Readings livestream tomorrow, February 23.
CHARLES YU is the author of four books, including his latest, Interior Chinatown, which won the National Book Award for Fiction and was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. He has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the HBO series Westworld, and has also written for shows on FX, AMC, Facebook Watch, and Adult Swim. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in a number of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, and Harper’s. You can find him on Twitter @charles_yu.
The live event *should* be on https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings and Jim Freund’s timeline, and you *should* (that word again) be able to join on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/JimFreund
(4) YU CREATIVE WRITING AWARD. “Charles Yu establishes prize for young Taiwanese American creative writers” reports TaiwaneseAmerican.org. Submissions may be in any literary genre. Prior to his winning a National Book Award for his literary awork Interior Chinatown, Yu also wrote sff, such as How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010), and served as the Guest Editor for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017. [Via Locus Online.]
TaiwaneseAmerican.org is pleased to announce the inaugural Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes. Created in collaboration with Taiwanese American author Charles Yu, the Prizes are intended to encourage and recognize creative literary work by Taiwanese American high school and college students, and to foster discussion and community around such work.
Submissions may be in any literary genre including fiction, poetry, personal essays or other creative non-fiction. Submissions must be sent via Google Form and must be received by March 31, 2021 at 11:59PM PT. In order to be eligible, submissions must be from writers of Taiwanese heritage (or writers with other significant connection to Taiwan), or have subject matter otherwise relevant to the Taiwanese or Taiwanese American experience.
Submissions will be considered in two categories, High School (enrolled in high school as of the deadline) and College (enrolled in community college or as an undergraduate as of the deadline). Winners and finalists will be announced in May 2021. A total of $1500 will be awarded to the winners. In addition, each of the winners and finalists will have their submitted work published online by TaiwaneseAmerican.org and considered for publication in a future edition of Chrysanthemum, and offered the opportunity to participate in an individual mentoring session with one of the judges.
Setting Boundaries: A writing career often comes with attention—wanted and unwanted. What kinds of boundaries do you set as an author with your readers, and how do those change throughout your career? Authors across the publishing spectrum discuss how they interact with, acknowledge, and encourage their readers while maintaining personal boundaries.
Writing Speculative Justice: Many envision a new role and future for the justice system in the United States and across the world—one that is more restorative, more equitable, and more just. As writers build our own worlds, what can and should we be thinking about when it comes to justice? How does our approach to laws, crime, retribution, and restoration impact the rest of our worldbuilding, characters, and plots? How can we craft a more just future?
(6) HOW MUCH ARE THOSE CLICKS IN THE WINDOW? James Pyles (PoweredByRobots) has been doing his darnedest to use the recent kerfuffle to get attention. And he doesn’t much care who that damages.
…Frankly, the Discon III / Worldcon decision to “uninvite” Weisskopf is looking less and less popular. Of course, I have no idea who Weber, Eggleton, and Gannon are (my understanding of SF/F personalities and their politics is shockingly limited), but on the surface, I can’t see anything awful, horrible, and offensive about their comments (well, maybe some of the language was just a little rough depending on how thin-skinned you are). In fact, they seem pretty reasonable….
Bounding Into Comics, as Doris V. Sutherland observes, belittled Sanford’s coverage, but they couldn’t deny what Jason found in Baen’s Bar.
Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer’s purported explanation of the controversy rapidly deteriorated into gibberish: “Omnibus?”
…Back in the day you’d left right and center views – depending on where you went. His [Jason Sanford’s] ‘expose’ is drivel, out of context, imaginary and generally trivial — in keeping with how he earns his authorly income – but it is seized on as a reason to 1) expel Toni as a GoH from WorldCon (because you know, in omnibus, must chuck her under it – even though any sane definition of the Bar was 99.9999% innocuous by any interpretation. Omnibus see. Even if she had nothing to do with it, and didn’t know – and investigated once she did. Not good enough, Guilty. She turned Jason Sanford into a newt. And she has got a wart… maybe.) 2) The little friends mysteriously and suddenly attack the hosting service and other business connections to demand deplatforming because Baen is ‘hate speech and inciting violence’….
(7) IT’S THEIR RIGHT. Meanwhile, this unexpected announcement was tweeted today by American Conservative Union CPAC 2021. I don’t know who is being banned, either, it’s just a coincidence that’s remarkably timely.
…Creation games aren’t new; they go way back to the original SimCity and beyond. But in autumn 2019, during a period of intense, life-altering burnout, I came across Nathalie Lawhead’s Electric Zine Maker and it redefined what I thought I knew about play, creation and the art that can emerge from video game interfaces. Zine Maker is a clever, accessible tool in the disguise of a joyful toy. I had become sick from overwork and had resigned myself to transitioning careers, leaving writing fiction entirely to move into a more practical realm. I was convinced that the connection between the part of my brain that makes art and the part that produces joy was fried forever. But this game sparked it again.
… Electric Zine Maker gives us a playful way to design and create real, print zines once more. The software streamlines the creation of a one-page zine: an A4 page folded into an A8 booklet. The tools are simple: text boxes, image pasting, some paint brushes and filters. A folding guide tells you how to turn it from a flat page into a 3D object once you print it off. It’s all laid out in bright, roaring neon, reminiscent of a CD-Rom from the mid-1990s. It feels like a piece of time travel, a return to childhood tinkering in The Simpsons Cartoon Studio in 1996.
(9) GRR REMEMBERS WANDA JUNE. George R.R. Martin paid tribute to the late Wanda June Alexander, whose daughter is almost his neighbor in Santa Fe: “The Amazing Wanda June”.
…Wanda June was a dear dear friend… but more than that, really. She and Raya have been part of our family, in one sense or another, for decades. I do not actually recall when and where I first met Wanda. It was at a con, no doubt, probably in the late 70s or early 80s. I knew OF Wanda before I actually knew Wanda, however. She was an East Coast fan when I first began hearing tales of her, from mutual friends. Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, David Axler, Dave Kogelmen, Joe and Gay Haldeman… all of them were friends of mine, and friends of the legendary Wanda June. She was one of Parris’s oldest, dearest friends, from the 70s on to this very day. …
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone series wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Wolf Rilla, and written by Stirling Silliphant, Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch. The other nominated works were the films Village of The Damned and The Time Machine.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 22, 1879 — Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.) (CE)
Born February 22, 1879 – Norman Lindsay. When a critic said children liked to read about fairies more than about food, NL wrote The Magic Pudding, wherefore we may be grateful. He was also an artist in watercolour, oils, pencil, etching, bronze, concrete. A dozen other novels; essays, poetry, memoirs. Here is a World War I cover for The Bulletin. Here is Odysseus. Here is Age of Consent. Here is Lin Bloomfield’s book about NL’s drawings. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born February 22, 1917 – Reed Crandall. Early inker for Jack Kirby on Captain America. Did Blackhawk 1942-1953; Jim Steranko said “where [Chuck] Cuidera made Blackhawk a best-seller, Crandall turned it into a classic, a work of major importance and lasting value”. Forty interiors and a few covers for us, mostly of E.R. Burroughs. Here are the Blackhawks fighting a giant robot; here is a more airborne moment. Here is The Man with a Brain of Gold. Here is John Carter with the Giant of Mars. Eisner Hall of Fame. More here. (Died 1982) [JH]
Born February 22, 1953 – Genny Dazzo, Ph.D., age 68. Active Los Angeles fan. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 31, Loscon 27 (with husband Craig Miller). Reliable in local, regional, continental, World conventions; for example, Guest of Honor Liaison at L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon, L.A.con IV the 64th. Collects teapots. Member of County Fair Table Setting Competition fandom. Doctorate in Theoretical Chemistry. [JH]
Born February 22, 1955 — Paul J. McAuley, 66. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction. (CE)
Born February 22, 1956 — Caroline Thompson, 65. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. (CE)
Born February 22, 1965 – Max Frei, age 56. That age-statement isn’t quite right, because Max Frei was a composite of Svetlana Martynchik (whose birthday I gave) and her husband Igor Steopin (1967-2018) in writing (in Russian) Sir Max’s adventures in the Labyrinths of Echo; a score are available in English. More here. [JH]
Born February 21, 1974 – Michelle Knudsen, age 47. Six novels (Evil Librarian won a Fleischman Award – two sequels), one shorter story, for us; twoscore other books. Library Lion was a NY Times Best-Seller. Julie Andrews on a podcast reads “Marilyn’s Monster” aloud. Favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, The Pirates of Penzance; has been in Iolanthe. Read aloud at the 2007 White House Easter Egg Roll. Taking boxing lessons. [JH]
Born February 22, 1981 – Ryan James, age 40. Two novels with his mother Syrie James. Much else in the games industry. Only a few decades ago, despite chess, bridge, gô, it would have been SF for there to be a games industry. [JH]
Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jeff Goad and Ngo Vinh-Hoi of the Appendix N Book Club to my blog today:
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
We are a podcast about the literature that inspires our tabletop RPGs. Initially, we only focused on the Appendix N: a list of “inspirational reading” located in the back of the 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Starting with episode 101, we are expanding the scope of the show to include ALL fiction that inspires our gaming. The first half of each episode focuses on the text from a literary perspective and the second half of each episode discussed the text from a gaming perspective….
Jim Henson’s classic series “The Muppet Show” began streaming on Disney+ on Friday, but now comes prefaced with an offensive content disclaimer.
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” the warning reads. “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversations to create a more inclusive future together.”
The show, which ran for five seasons between 1976 and 1981, features the new content warning on 18 episodes, including those guest-hosted by Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Debbie Harry and Marty Feldman, among others.
Each episode bears the 12-second disclaimer for a different reason, from Cash’s appearance singing in front of a Confederate flag to negative depictions of Native Americans, Middle Easterners and people from other cultures. Additionally, two episodes from the final season, featuring guest stars Brooke Shields and staff writer Chris Langham, are left out entirely.
…In the Sherlock Holmes mythology, the “Baker Street Irregulars” are a group of street urchins in the employ of Holmes. They are his eyes and ears in the seedier parts of Jolly Ol’ Londontown. This version, naturally, will focus on that group. It appears they will have more in the vein of the supernatural to deal with. Various adaptations of Doyle’s stories have included a supernatural tinge, we should note, the original stories were always rooted in Victorian-era science. It’s elementary, really….
We have exclusively learned that certain characters from Big Hero 6 will be making their live-action debut in the MCU.
We’re not sure on who will be coming but we can at least expect Baymax and Hiro.
Some of the projects we heard about were Secret Invasion, Agents of Atlas, and Doctor Strange. However, we couldn’t get confirmation.
There’s also no word on if the actors will reprise their roles in regards to live-action appereances.
Big Hero 6 was loosely based on the comic of the same name. The comic was a three-part miniseries written by Scott Lobdell and artist Gus Vasquez. The series went on to be a very popular title, which spawned the animated film and TV series.
(16) FRANSON AWARD. National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked the recipient of this year’s Franson Award, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show of appreciation:
It is my privilege and honor to bestow the Franson Award upon our new Treasurer, Kevin Trainor of Tonopah, Nevada. Being N3F Treasurer is a great responsibility. The Treasurer maintains the club financial records without which we would not know who is a member and who has departed. We spent close to a year during which the former Treasurer made clear he wanted to leave, but no member would volunteer to replace him. Can all be grateful to Kevin for volunteering and taking on the Treasurer’s role.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that Transformers is a “feature-length commercial with sort of a story line, because that’s what movies are these days.” Also, Megan Fox loves Burger King because, hey, it’s a product placement!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon, Ben Bird Person, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge with an assist from Tom Becker and Paul Weimer.]
Many award prognosticators are already predicting that Boseman, who died of cancer in August at the age of 43, could become the third actor—following Peter Finch in Network and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight—to win a posthumous Oscar for his performance. (At this point, his chief rival appears to be Riz Ahmed, who plays a punk-metal drummer beginning to go deaf in Sound of Metal. Ahmed has won several critics’ awards as well as the best-actor citation from the National Board of Review.)…
(4) ARGUMENT CLINIC. David Gerrold offered a new service on Facebook. This could be the coming thing.
At the suggestion of a friend, I am now charging $50 for 30 minutes of online argument.
Subject must be agreed on beforehand. (I reserve the right to decline.) Sources of data must also be agreed on before. (Fox News and other farce right sources will not be accepted. In return, I will forego CNN, NYT, Huffpost, Washington Post, and MSNBC)
Cerulean, azure, navy, royal … Much has been written about the color blue, the first human-made pigment. “Because blue contracts, retreats, it is the color of transcendence, leading us away in pursuit of the infinite,” wrote William Gass in his book On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. Wassily Kandinsky once mused: “The power of profound meaning is found in blue, and first in its physical movements of retreat from the spectator, of turning in upon its own center […] Blue is the typical heavenly color.”
And now, for the first time in two centuries, a new chemically-made pigment of the celebrated color is available for artists — YInMn Blue. It’s named after its components — Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese — and its luminous, vivid pigment never fades, even if mixed with oil and water.
Like all good discoveries, the new inorganic pigment was identified by coincidence….
…. “My step-grandmother, Dame Jean Conan Doyle, tried hard to stop the world doing what it liked with her father’s fictional characters. In the end she realised this was a fruitless exercise,” says Richard Pooley, director of the Conan Doyle estate and step- great-grandson of the author. “Instead she focused on giving her approval to those Holmes pastiches which were well-written and did not stray too far from Doyle’s characterisation. We have tried to do the same.”
The estate has authorised Horowitz’s sequels and Lane’s stories, but most Holmes adaptations come without the estate’s stamp of approval – not that that appears to put readers off. Pooley says that its approval comes down to the quality of the writing, and if the writer stays “true to Doyle’s depiction of Holmes’s and Watson’s characters” – meaning they don’t mind if Cumberbatch’s Holmes lives in modern London, or if Holmes and Watson are women, as in HBO Asia’s Miss Sherlock….
George will be in conversation with Los Angeles artist Connie Samaras, an avid admirer of Butler’s prose which served as the inspiration for her 2019 project “The Past is Another Planet”, an illustrious depiction of the Huntington Library, home to Butler’s archive.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 4, 1983 — Videodrome premiered. It was written and directed by David Cronenberg, with a cast of James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Debbie Harry. It was the first film by Cronenberg to get Hollywood backing and it bombed earning back only two million dollars of its nearly six million budget. In spite of that, critics and audience goers alike found it to a good film. Today it is considered his best film by many, and it holds a sterling seventy-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 4, 1889 – Dorothea Faulkner. Two short stories, half a dozen poems, in If and Slant (there’s a range for you) and like that, under variations of “Rory Faulkner”, “Rory Magill”, “Dorothea M. Faulkner”. Active in the LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society), serving a term as Secretary, and the Outlanders, also the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n). Often seen in Now & Then. With that and Slant you won’t be surprised to hear she attended Loncon I the 15th Worldcon (at age 68) and was made a Knight of St. Fantony. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born February 4, 1915 – Harry Whittington. For us, one Man from U.N.C.L.E. novel and four novellas, and an essay on Fredric Brown for this collection; outside our field, note first HW’s One Deadly Dawn was published as an Ace Double with Tucker’s Hired Target; HW wrote two hundred novels – fourscore in one twelve-year span – under a score of names; quite possibly King of the Pulps; see here. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born February 4, 1938 – Ted White, age 83. Perhaps our most been-everywhere-done-everything fan alive. A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories; assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, then edited Amazing and Fantastic (concurrently!), Stardate; columnist for Algol and Thrust; “Uffish Thots” and “The Trenchant Bludgeon” in SF Review; active beyond measure there, in Izzard, New Frontiers, Raucous Caucus, Riverside Quarterly, Yandro, and indeed File 770. Interviewed by Schweitzer in SF Voices. One Hugo (as Best Fanwriter; often a finalist as a pro), three FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards. Chaired Lunacon 11-13. Organized FanHistoricon 9 but couldn’t attend. Variously Pro and Fan Guest of Honor at Bubonicon 4, DeepSouthCon 18, RavenCon 11, Aussiecon Two the 43rd Worldcon. Also musician and music critic (plays keyboards, saxophone). British Fantasy Award for Heavy Metal. Acidulous, enthusiastic, skeptical, strong; it would be a miracle not to think him sometimes wrong. [JH]
Born February 4, 1940 — John Schuck, 81. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn In “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes. Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today. Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns? (CE)
Born February 4, 1940 — George A. Romero. Is horror genre or genre adjacent? Either way, he’s got an impressive listing form the Dead films, I count seven of them, to Knightriders, which is truly genre adjacent at best, and one of my favorites of him, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Oh, and he wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as Stan Lee, but he did show up in at least seven of his films. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born February 4, 1941 — Stephen J. Cannell. Creator of The Greatest American Hero. That gets him Birthday Honors. The only other genre series he was involved with was The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage which I never heard of, but you can see the premiere episode here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born February 4, 1959 — Pamelyn Ferdin, 62. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in The Hat short, Night Gallery, Sealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO. She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well. (CE)
Born February 4, 1961 — Neal Asher, 60. I’m been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I last listened to The Line War and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of hundred thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). (CE)
Born February 4, 1962 — Thomas Scott Winnett. Locus magazine editorial assistant and reviewer from 1989 to 1994. He worked on Locus looks at books and Books received as well. In addition, he wrote well over a hundred review reviews for Locus. He died of AIDS related pneumonia. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born February 4, 1968 – Neve Maslakovic, Ph.D., age 53. From Belgrade to Stanford’s STAR Lab (Space, Telecommunications, And Radioscience) to writing fiction. Four novels, another due next month. Likes the Twin Cities winters. Has read Time and Again, A History of [Greek letter “pi”], Three Men in a Boat, nine by Wodehouse, five by Sayers, a Complete Sherlock Holmes, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. [JH]
Born February 4, 1968 – David Speakman, age 53. Until recently very active in the N3F, serving as Chair of the Directorate, editor of The Nat’l Fantasy Fan and Tightbeam; two Franson Awards, Kaymar Award, awarded a Life Membership. As to “recently”, he explains here. [JH]
Born February 4, 1990 – Zach King, age 31. Actor, author, digital-video illusionist. Three novels for us. Two London Film Festival first-place awards. A video of him apparently flying on a broomstick had two billion views in four days. “They rejected my application to Hogwarts but I still found a way to be a wizard.” Does he do it all with mirrors? Website. [JH]
I’ve been a Trekkie since TNG started in 1987, so when Chris Garcia and James Bacon asked me to guest edit an issue of Journey Planet, I did a whole Star Trek-themed issue. I reached out to people I know in the Trek community and asked them to write about how Star Trek had impacted their lives. I ended up receiving some really impactful stories, from a friend who had immigrated to the US finding a family, to another friend finding the courage to come out of the closet, all through Star Trek.
It was a game-changing experience for me to edit other people’s stories. Everyone has a story to tell, but everyone is at a different writing level. Some pieces I didn’t have to touch, while I spent hours editing others. I loved helping people tell their stories, and making sure those stories were heard.
I loved it so much I didn’t want to stop with one issue! After some careful thought, I decided to create my own Star Trek-themed fanzine. Monthly was too much for me to take on by myself, so I went with quarterly. I asked Women At Warp, a feminist Trek podcast, to write a regular column. (Since then I’ve joined the show as a co-host.) I passed out flyers at the big annual convention in Las Vegas soliciting submissions for the first issue. And I posted to various Star Trek Facebook groups looking for more….
…The Mandalorian Egg-Shaped Magic Hot Chocolate Melt from Galerie Candy is very similar to a hot cocoa bomb—but without the hot chocolate mix. Made of milk chocolate, it’s meant to be dissolved in a cup of hot milk to reveal the green Baby Yoda marshmallow inside. While it’s intended use is to make hot chocolate, you can easily eat the Baby Yoda treat as is.
David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss talk about the books they’ve been reading lately, ranging in length from novellas to a nine-volume, almost million-word opus written entirely in the form of letters. And a rather damp theme emerges…
(13) LIGHTEN UP. Frostbeard Studio adds a brand new bookish scent every month to its line of Book Lovers’ Soy Candles and Bookish Goods.
Follow your nose through the woods to a mysterious lamppost where you’ll embark on a magical adventure into wintry realms. You might be cozied up with blankets and a book, but you’ll feel like you’re being whisked away to a snowy, enchanted forest in another world.
(14) GET IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR. Camestros Felapton recommends this adaptation of a comic: “Review: Sweet Home”.
…The monsters feel like a cross between The Thing and Attack on Titan but that weirdness aside, the story gradually drifts into a more conventional zombie-apocalypse survival narrative. The small number of survivors trapped on the ground floor of the Green Home apartment bloc, must find ways to band together to protect themselves from the surrounding nightmare. In later episodes they have to deal with an intruding human gang, as well as the secret agenda of the army which (as per usual) knows more about the plague than they are letting on. Luckily, by this point the viewer is more invested in the fate of the ensemble of characters who range from shop keepers to an improbable combination of people with bad-ass backstories.
… Some of the DC villains and antiheroes called out in the synopsis include Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and “everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn.” Part of the Suicide Squad’s mission will see them dropped off “on theremote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
(1) GET YOUR VIRTUAL SDCC HYPE HERE. The event starts July 23 but today San Diego Comic-Con started its day-by-day unveiling of the five-day schedule: “The Comic-Con@Home 2020 Programming Schedule”. (The Wednesday, July 23 schedule released today is summarized by Variety here.)
We’re two weeks away from the debut of Comic-Con@Home 2020! And even though this is a very different year, we’re happy to announce we’ll be sticking with the Comic-Con tradition of announcing our panel schedule two weeks in advance. Over the next five days, we’ll reveal our daily online programming line-up for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 22–26, with complete programming descriptions. The panels themselves will not be available until those dates, but you’ll be able to read all about them and build your own schedule of programs you want to watch during Comic-Con@Home 2020!
Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works:
(2) WORLDBUILDERS FUNDRAISER. The annual Geeks Doing Good Showcase hosted by Worldbuilders, the nonprofit organization founded by Patrick Rothfuss of the Kingkiller Chronicle series, starts on July 13 and goes through July 20, 2020.
This week Worldbuilders will feature multiple live-streamed interviews, discussions, from authors, artists, and more. All of which will take place on the Worldbuilders Twitch Channel.
The first day’s schedule is –
Schedule for Monday, July 13, 2020
Patrick Rothfuss Livestreams Twitch
When: 12pm – 2pm CDT
Patrick will be streaming on his Twitch channel at 12pm. Come hang out with Patrick and chat away!
Meet the new Worldbuilders!
When: 2pm – 3pm CDT
Come join us as we get to know the new members of the Worldbuilders team!
‘Picture this,” someone says. “A juicy green apple. Can you see it?”
Of course I can’t see it. My head is filled with all things apple; the central concept connects with myriad associated topics: orchards, trees, red apples, rotting apples, cider, blossom, an endless web that spreads along more and more tenuous connections. But of course I can’t see it. I usually say yes, though, because I assume it’s a figure of speech.
But 98% of people actually do see the thing they’re imagining, like a picture in their head. The other 2%, like me, are aphantasic. There’s a line I like in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” I found out I was aphantasic slowly, then all at once. Decades ago, my wife began visualisation for meditation. I couldn’t do it. Not only could I not see an imaginary orange, I couldn’t see a circle or the colour orange. But I understood visualisation to be a special skill that you worked on. Rather like juggling. And I was sure that with practice I could accomplish either one of those….
… If any genre deserves and encourages the spawning of Big Enormous Labour of Love Projects it is epic fantasy and Adam has taken that genre’s appendix-aesthetic into his own History of Epic Fantasy (https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/search/label/history%20of%20epic%20fantasy) and then went onto a major cartographic project mapping out the continents of George RR Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice (https://atlasoficeandfireblog.wordpress.com/). You don’t need to be a fan of either epic fantasy in general or Game of Thrones in particular to appreciate the time and effort put into either of those projects over several years….
(5) IT STINKS. Lili Loofbourow delivered a kind of “state of the internet” message. Thread starts here.
(6) #SFFPLEDGE. The #SFFpledge is circulating – today The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists boosted the signal.
One of the figures named in the pledge, Noah Bradley, wrote this in June:
The other person named, Samuel Flegal, artist and co-founder of the art camp One Fantastic Week, issued an apology on Facebook for unspecified acts against women he had contact with. The Facebook post is no longer publicly available, but an analysis of his statement has been posted by M M Schill on her Patreon, here, and it contains a screencap of the post.
In public posts on the topic, this one links to the tweeted statement of Eunjoo Han who does not name the harasser being discussed, but he is alleged to be Flegal.
… It’s the store I’ve held all my San Francisco events at, basically for as long as I’ve been doing events at all. I’ve supported Borderlands annually as a patron, and I lent the store money to purchase a new building, which it’s currently in the process of moving to.
It actually and genuinely hurt to read these accusations, which I believe. I wrote yesterday on Twitter that I was in shock about it, and I still am. This one stirs up emotions for me in a way I’m not prepared to publicly quantify or express. Suffice to say it hits close to home on a number of levels.
…After discussions with community leaders, health officials, and the surge of COVID-19 cases in Utah the past few weeks, we feel it’s in the best interest of our community to postpone.
During such a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone, we appreciate your support and the outpouring of love which has been shown to us. It’s because of this love and continued support from the FanX community that we’ve been able to bring you 12 events over the past seven years and make Salt Lake City, Utah a premier pop culture event. It’s also the reason we’ve already begun planning FanX 2021 and can take this opportunity to invite you to join us in celebrating together again on September 16-18, 2021!
(9) CURSES, FIELD AGAIN. A theory about a possible chain of influence linked to Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1932 article on “The name ‘Nodens’” published as an appendix to Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, is a discussion of three inscriptions found at the excavations which he concluded is the name of an unrecorded deity. Did one of those inscriptions reference another ancient find, a gold ring? Thread starts here.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 10, 1981 — Time Bandits has its U.K. premiere. It was co-written (with Michael Palin), produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam. It starred Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Peter Vaughan, and David Warner. Gilliam has said that the film was the first in his Trilogy of Imagination, followed by Brazil and ending with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Criticsloved the film, the box office was excellent, and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 77% rating.
July 10, 1981 — John Carpenter’s Escape from New York premiered. (That was how it was shown on-screen.) Starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, this film was written by John Carpenter and Nick Castle. It was directed by John Carpenter, and produced by Larry Franco and Debra Hill. Supporting cast was Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton. The film received generally positive reviews with Russell in particular finding favor with the critics; it did very well at the box office earning far more than it cost to produce; and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 76% rating.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 10, 1875 – E.C. Bentley. Invented the clerihew.
Edmund Clerihew Bentley Wrote “Exactly As It Happened”. He Did not quite manage science fiction. But he had very good diction.
(Died 1956) [JH]
Born July 10, 1903 — John Wyndham. His best known works include The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos, both written in the Fifties. The latter novel was filmed twice as Village of the Damned. Both iBooks and Kindle have an impressive selection of his novels including these titles, though little of his short fiction is available alas. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born July 10, 1908 – Carl Jacobi. Ten dozen short stories for us, in Amazing, Planet, Startling, Thrilling Wonder; also Weird Tales and Doc Savage; farther from our field, Maclean’s, Railroad, Short Stories, Top-Notch. Known to have started a novel but if completed it has not appeared. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish. “Mive” (1928) won a U. Minn. contest judged by Margaret Banning; Lovecraft bought it for Weird Tales, saying “I was glad to see at least one story whose weirdness of incident was made convincing by adequate emotional preparation and suitably developed atmosphere.” Attended Torcon II the 31st Worldcon. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born July 10, 1911 – Jack Coggins. Thirty book & magazine covers, a few interiors, for us; a thousand paintings; oils mainly on marine subjects; art classes; four dozen books, some reprinted by Dover. With Fletcher Pratt, Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles & Space Ships and By Space Ship to the Moon. Here is an early cover for Galaxy. Here is one for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Master Pastelist of Pastel Soc. America, Fellow of Am. Soc. Marine Artists. Int’l Ass’n of Astronomical Artists Hall of Fame. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born July 10, 1917 – Don Herbert. In World War II, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak-leaf clusters. Invented and won a Peabody for Watch Mr. Wizard (television 1951-1965, 1971-1972; later Mr. Wizard’s World 1983-1990, re-runs until 2000); he and a boy or girl did science experiments, many seeming impossible at first glance, most such as viewers could re-create. “Eight hundred thousand viewers per episode…. over five thousand Mr. Wizard Science Clubs … total membership over a hundred thousand,” Science on the Air p. 227 (M. LaFollette, 2008). A good neighbor. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born July 10, 1931 — Julian May. She‘s best known for her Saga of Pliocene Exile (known as the Saga of the Exiles in the UK) and Galactic Milieu series: Jack the Bodiless, Diamond Mask and Magnificat. She was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame at Sasquan. John has a very nice look at her here. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born July 10, 1941 — David Hartwell. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes him as “perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American science fiction publishing world”. I certainly fondly remember The Space Opera Renaissance he co-edited with Kathryn Cramer. Not to mention that his Year’s Best Fantasy and Year’s Best SF anthologies are still quite excellent reading to dip into on whim. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born July 10, 1941 — Susan Seddon Boulet. If you’ve read the American edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife (which won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature), you’ve seen her amazing work. Or perhaps you’ve got a copy of Pomegranate‘s edition of Ursula Le Guin’s Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight. If you’re keen on knowing more about this amazing artist, see the Green Man review of Susan Seddon Boulet: A Retrospective. (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born July 10, 1945 — Ron Glass. Probably best genre wise as Shepherd Book in the Firefly series and its sequel Serenity. His first genre role was as Jerry Merris in Jerry Merris, a SF horror film and he’d later show up voicing Philo D. Grenman in Strange Frame: Love & Sax (“slated as the world’s first animated lesbian-themed sci-fi film”; look it up as it as an impressive voice cast) and he showed up twice as J. Streiten, MD in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Oh, and he was on Voyager playing a character named Loken in the “Nightingale” episode. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born July 10, 1953 – Chôhei Kambayashi, 67. A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories. In “The Enemy Is the Pirate” a reluctant human hero is forced to co-operate with a wisecracking cat. “Full of Kindnesses” is set in a Japan so riddled with bureaucracy that even thieves and gangsters must obtain a license. In the world of “Prism” all human needs are met, but inhabitants are forbidden to ask why. Eight Seiun Awards, Nihon SF Taishô Award. [JH]
Born July 10, 1970 — John Simm, 50. The second of the modern Masters on Doctor Who. He appeared in the final three episodes of the Time of the Tenth Doctor: “Utopia”, “The Sound of Drums”, and “Last of the Time Lords”. He also played Sam Tyler in Life on Mars. (CE)
Born July 10, 1981 – Karen Russell, 38. One novel, thirty shorter stories. A short version of Swamplandia! appeared in The New Yorker (“My older sister has entire kingdoms inside her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather”). Collections, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, two more. Interview in the May 2013 Lightspeed. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
R. E. Parrish finds family talking about their “accomplishments” boring.
For the first time a system of 78 mobile floodgates has been tested in Venice, after years beset by delays and corruption.
The 1.5km (one-mile) Mose system of yellow dams was a “powerful project that has taken years to complete”, said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Venice was hit by the worst floods in half a century in November 2019.
Environmental protesters took to the lagoon on Friday, saying the barriers would damage the area.
Critics argue the sluice-gate system is 10 years too late. Work on the Mose project started in 2003, even though it was designed in the 1980s. It has gone three times over its original budget and resulted in the arrest of dozens of officials, the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville reports from Rome.
…Been binge re-watching the Netflix show Dark. The 3rd season just dropped, so hubby and I are rewatching the first two seasons as fast as we can. this IS the show of the summer! umm, how to explain? Think Twin Peaks meets Stranger Things, plus a metric ton of time travel. And the soundtrack! omg, so good!!
DO: watch the show and take your own notes for a family tree. Different story lines follow different generations, so you’ll want to keep track of who is married to who, who is the parent and child of who, etc.
DON’T: use google to learn about this show. the less you know about the show and the plot going in, the better. the internet is solid spoilers.
not a spoiler: the first time I saw season one, I though Jonas was a cool but annoying character. Why is he so quiet? Why doesn’t he seem to react to things? why does he seem so passive? Yeah, he’s might be quiet, but he is NOT passive. the poor kid is a bundle of nerves and a total mess inside.
At the beginnings of my forays into science fiction, it quickly became clear Solaris was one of the key texts, and so a physical copy of the book has been on my shelves for years. There were two reasons I didn’t take it out sooner. The main thing was me having the wrong idea of what it was about. I’m not sure why, but I thought the story focused on a crew slowly growing mad, and I’d mentally labeled it something like ‘psychological horror in space’, a genre I’m not that interested in. The other reason was Steven Soderbergh’s adaption: I’d seen it in a movie theater when it came out back in 2002, and while I don’t remember any other thing about it, at the time my reaction was lukewarm at best.
It was only after a conversation in the comments to my review of Asimov’s The Gods Themselves that I realized I had the wrong idea about the book. That conversation was with Polish native Ola G, and it turns out she wrote two excellent pointers about Stanislaw Lem, here and here – do click on those if you want an accessible yet fairly thorough overview of Lem. On the strength of Solaris and Ola’s posts, I have added Fiasco, The Invincible and The Cyberiad to my TBR….
Kim Libreri, an award-winning visual effects artist based in Northern California, has worked on movies including Artificial Intelligence and War of the Planet of the Apes.
For nine years he has been working with a piece of technology better known for computer games, in particular the smash-hit Fortnite.
The Unreal Engine, owned by Epic Games, provides the building blocks and tools that a computer game developer needs, but is increasingly an attractive technology for TV and film producers.
The latest version of technology, Unreal Engine 5, is coming out next year, and Epic has been heavily trailing its features.
It should allow visual effects artists like Mr Libreri to slot graphics and images straight into a scene, with little fuss.
“With traditional filmmaking, a director and cinematographer might shoot a scene on set -then down the line, hand footage and creative direction off to a team of virtual reality artists and designers, who enhance that material with visual effects and computer-generated imagery in a separate phase of production, says Mr Libreri, who is now chief technology officer at Epic Games.
With Unreal Engine collaboration between the director, cinematographer, production designer and virtual reality teams can occur simultaneously as an interactive process on set.
“Unreal Engine 5 promises to further free the artistic process by making it easier to take virtual worlds developed for feature film and television, and run them in the game engine in real time,” says Mr Libreri.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This isn’t part of the new Disney+ package despite featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda and another signer of the Declaration. From 2015:
“Button,” Colbert’s (3-minute) counterpoint/companion to Hamilton, about another of the Dec of Ind signers, “Button Gwinnett,” here sung by Lin-Manuel and Stephen.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) GLORIOUS. Benford and Niven’s third and final book in their Bowl of Heaven series is out, and they’ll be doing a Powell’s Books Zoom event on June 30, 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
Written by acclaimed, multi-award-winning authors, Gregory Benford (Timescape) and Larry Niven’s (Ringworld), GLORIOUS (Tor Books) concludes the Bowl of Heaven series praised by Booklist as “a solid adventure and entertaining speculation on the lives of alien creatures.”
In the journey that began with the New York Times bestseller, Bowl of Heaven and its sequel, Shipstar, audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. The alien civilization is far more advanced than our own, and difficult for our astronauts to comprehend. The astronauts must explore and document this brave, new, highly dangerous world, while also dealing with their own personal triumphs and conflicts — their loves and jealousies, joys and disappointments.
Benford and Niven are masters of the science fiction genre and a sci-fi power duo. Together they have combined their talents and expertise to create an unforgettable series for science-fiction fans everywhere.
… Alas, my plan to sort and cull my thousands of books — described last week in my Zippy Shell column — failed to make allowance for human nature. For even as I was straining my back by carrying boxes up the stairs to donate or sell to the noble used book dealers of Washington, come bedtime I would go online to take a quick peek at the current offerings from L.W. Currey, John W. Knott, Richard Dalby’s Library, Type Punch Matrix, Wonder Book and Video or Capitol Hill Books. It didn’t matter that I ached like a stevedore at the end of a double shift. During daylight hours, the world applauded a crusading Dr. Jekyll energetically focused on discarding and recycling printed matter, but once night fell Mr. Hyde would emerge and, while fiendishly cackling, type arcane titles into the search engines of viaLibri, eBay and Addall. Typically, when a friend recently recommended H.B. Marriott Watson’s “The Adventurers” (1898), there was suddenly nothing I wanted more in the world than a copy of this forgotten piece of swashbuckling Victoriana….
(3) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. UK publication Infinity Magazine subsequently deleted the public post screencapped below.
(4) GENESIS. Although Mark Lawrence takes J.K. Rowling and Ursula Le Guin as texts, more than anything his post “Influence” is a warning to readers who want to infer the source of a writer’s ideas based on similarities to other works.
While lockdown may have provided us with the chance to catch up on some old movies, there’s only so many you can watch before you crave something new.
Well, fear not, because around the world some of the big-hitters are starting to re-commence production – which was of course halted by Covid-19 – in a variety of socially-distanced ways.
Here are just six of the films to keep your fingers crossed for then in 2021, when the cinemas are hopefully back in business.
The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster was able to re-start filming in New Zealand this week, because the country is almost coronavirus free.
Cameron and producer Jon Landau told the press Down Under that part two of the planned five-part film series; rumoured to be called The Way of Water (oh yeah, it’s set under water this time, by the way) would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars back into the country following the pandemic.
Landau shared a photo on Instagram earlier this week as the production got under way.
It will also bring some more big names including Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel to add to returning original stars Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington.
Avatar 2, which is intended to work as a standalone feature (you won’t need to have seen the first one, in other words), will focus on the children of Sully and Neytiri, who are by now leaders of their clan.
The film is now slated for a December 2021 release, with film five in the diary already for 2027 – for those of you who like to plan ahead.
…But, you only have a limited time—This offer will only be available Friday June 19 through Sunday June 21. You have 3 days to watch the debut season, which is a total of 9 episodes. Since everyone should be binging experts by now, that’s light work!
…In addition to its groundbreaking portrayal of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Watchmen is a must-watch due to its timely thesis on white supremacy. In fact, it’s worth a revisit or two to truly reflect on its themes in a critical way. I certainly plan to revisit it.
So go ahead and watch Watchmen and discuss the episodes thoroughly. View the show for free online via HBO.com and via On Demand.
Nibedita Sen, Fran Wilde, Alix E. Harrow, SL Huang, and Shiv Ramdas will join Karen Castelletti to discuss their nominations for Best Short Story.
That panel will be followed by “A Mini Show With Lior Manor, Mentalist.”
Then, at 4:40p.m. Eastern will follow a “Panel Discussion With Hugo Awards Finalists in the Best Editor Short Form Category” —
Ellen Datlow, Lynne Thomas, Neil Clarke, Lynne M Thomas, and Michael Thomas will join Gadi to discuss their nomination and work.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1971 — Larry Niven’s All the Myriad Ways, his third collection, was published by Ballantine Books. Costing $.95 and having 181 pages, it included a number of stories of interest such as the first Gil the ARM story, “The Jigsaw Man”, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” and “What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?“. It is currently available from all the usual digital suspects.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 18, 1862 – Carolyn Wells. A hundred seventy books, many for children, many more mystery fiction, also poetry, plays.For us, Folly in Fairyland – reprinted 2016 – no, not that, “Folly” is a nickname for Florinda; anyway, see here. And here is A-L of her Animal Alphabet; when you look at the rest of this Ink-Slinger’s Profile you’ll recognize Mark Twain, but you should know Skippy was a popular 1923-1945 comic strip. There’s more, but I’ll stop now. (Died 1942) [JH]
Born June 18, 1889 – Elisabeth Holding. More mystery fiction; no less than Tony Boucher applauded its “subtlety, realistic conviction, incredible economy”. For us, he praised Miss Kelly too, about a cat who learns to speak with humans: “one of those too-rare juvenile fantasies with delightful appeal to the adult connoisseur.” We can also claim three shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, Italian. (Died 1955) [JH]
Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. So far as genre is concerned, he’s best-remembered from radio, starring in the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman beginning in early 1940 on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also would do in the later Superman and other cartoons such as Aquaman and the Batman/Superman Hour. He was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles, one of which — playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur — I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes, heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1926 – Allan Sandage, Ph.D. Important next-door neighbor: an astronomer, possibly a great one. Regarded for thirty years as the pre-eminent observational cosmologist. Published two atlases of galaxies; five hundred papers. Warner, Crafoord, Gruber Prizes; Eddington, Cresson, Bruce Medals; Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. See here. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1942 – Redmond Simonsen. Game designer; indeed credited with coining that phrase, and “physical system design”. Founding editor of Ares magazine. Charles Roberts Awards Hall of Fame. King of Clubs in Flying Buffalo’s 2008 Origins Poker Deck. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 73. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best-known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode”. (CE)
Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 71. For some twenty years now, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad has ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate. It always sells out for the entire month. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin — highly recommended. (CE)
Born June 18, 1951 – Vivian Vande Velde 69. Fiction for children and young adults. Two dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories. Edgar Award for Never Trust a Dead Man, also School Library Journal Book of the Year. Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize. Paterson Prize. “When our daughter was born, I quit my job…. Since I was home all day, I had to either take housework more seriously or come up with a good excuse why I couldn’t…. Writing turned out to be harder work than I thought…. getting published was even harder…. 32 different publishers … before number 33 said yes.” [JH]
Born June 18, 1971 – Sarah Hines Stephens 49. Two Wonder Woman stories, here’s one; two about a girl (I mean really a girl, she’s in 6th Grade) whose study of insects grosses out her friends, but then invaders invade and she develops insectile powers (not all insects are bugs, but I can’t help that, the title wouldn’t have been as cool if it had been Bugged Girl); four dozen in all, some with co-authors, some re-tellings, some non-fiction. [JH]
(12) TERRAN PRIZE. George R.R. Martin announced that Maurice Haeems will receive the scholarship he funds to bring a writer to the Taos Toolbox: “Haeems Wins Terran Prize”.
…With that in mind, back in 2018 I established THE TERRAN PRIZE, to bring an aspiring SF writer from abroad to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams runs every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico. The Prize is given annually and covers all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not travel).
…Maurice was born in Mumbai and has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the last 30 years, he has lived in Mumbai, London, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dubai while pursuing professional careers in mechanical engineering, investment banking, and software entrepreneurship.
… In addition to probing for signs of ancient life on and below the Martian surface, the Perseverance mission would also take to the skies. The Ingenuity helicopter would attempt to fly — an exceedingly difficult task given that the “atmosphere on Mars is only one percent the density that we have here on Earth,” Wallace said. “Trying to control a system like this under those conditions is not easy.”
NASA said it hopes to get at least three flights from the helicopter, but it stressed that it was purely a technology demonstration mission and that it would take each one as they come.
(14) DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT. Count on Jon Del Arroz to bring you yesterday’s 770 content today!
…Bradbury wrote and narrated Hanna-Barbera’s 1993 feature-length animated version of the novel for television, for which he won the 1994 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.
…The 8-page concept pitch, entitled “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was conceived by producer Greg Strangis (War of the Worlds, Falcon Crest) over the summer of 1986 and is set during a 10-year war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It tells the story of the U.S.S. Odyssey, a ship ferrying a group of cadets on their first deep space assignment and tasked with delivering a document to Organia that could ultimately change the course of the war.
While some of the ideas in this concept can be seen in what ultimately became Star Trek: The Next Generation (such as a young Klingon officer as part of the crew), this original pitch bears little resemblance to the show that went on to have seven successful seasons. One of the more creative ideas was how the original captain dies in the pilot, but “continues to ‘live’ in the ship’s computer” as a hologram who can be summoned for advice….
So would this character have turned into the Emergency Holographic Captain?
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Jeffrey Smith, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Steve Wagner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(1) ON YOUR MARX. If this Scroll is posted in time, you can make it to Mark Evanier’s livestream Newsfromme.tv Conversations with Steve Stoliar, starting tonight at 7 p.m. Pacific:
In addition to being a comedy writer and voice actor, Steve Stoliar had the unique experience of being Groucho Marx’s personal assistant/secretary during the last years of that great comedian’s life. Mark Evanier talks with him about Groucho, the controversial Erin Fleming and all things Marxian except Karl.
(2) ROWLING’S NEXT. Mackenzie Nichols, in the Variety story, “J.K. Rowling Announces New Children’s Book ‘The Ickabog’” says that Rowling has announced the publication of The Ickabog, which is not part of the Harry Potter universe but is meant for 7-9 olds. She intends to post a chapter every day at theickabog.com until July 10 and promises that profits from the book will aid COVID-19 relief.
Unlike her spinoff stories “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” or “Quidditch Through the Ages,” “The Ickabog” has no relation to the “Harry Potter” series. And while plot details about “The Ickabog” were scarce, the author said its thematic elements are timeless.
“‘The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling said. “To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”
I had the idea for TheIckabog a long time ago and read it to my two younger children chapter by chapter each night while I was working on it. However, when the time came to publish it, I decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic. I became busy with other things, and even though I loved the story, over the years I came to think of it as something that was just for my own children.
Then this lockdown happened. It’s been very hard on children, in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then read it to my children again. They told me to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!
The most exciting part, for me, at least, is that I’d like you to illustrate The Ickabog for me. Every day, I’ll be making suggestions for what you might like to draw. You can enter the official competition being run by my publishers, for the chance to have your artwork included in a printed version of the book due out later this year. I’ll be giving suggestions as to what to draw as we go along, but you should let your imagination run wild.
Naomi Kritzer was 4 when she discovered science fiction through the first “Star Wars” film.
“I was grabbed by John Williams’ music, the lightsabers, the magic of The Force. It all appealed to me and sold me on science fiction,” Kritzer recalls.
Now, 43 years later, The Force is with this St. Paul author. Her genre-jumping young adult novel “Catfishing on CatNet, ” about teenagers who befriend a sentient artificial intelligence who lives in the internet, is scooping up major honors. It’s based on her award-winning, 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please.”
Last month Kritzer collected two prestigious awards in three days. She won a Minnesota Book Award on April 28, and on April 30 she won a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. In early May her book was a Silver Winner in the Nautilus Book Awards, which focus on books striving to make a better world….
(4) IRRESISTIBLE ALICE BOOK. [Item by Daniel Dern.] While I’m not a compleatist Carroll/Alice collector, seeing this in the Bud’s Art Books mailer I got today caught my eye.
(Yes, I know there’s a Carroll society. I’m about to join. And I’ll write an item RSN/PDQ, including a nod to an SFnal connection. But this is semi-news.)
I noticed in the new Bud’s Art Books (although I still think of them as Bud Plant) mini-catalog that came in today’s (snail) mail that there’s a new (not yet out) book — here’s info.
“Lewis Carroll’s Alice was first published in 1865 and has never been out of print, translated into 170 languages. But why does it have such enduring and universal appeal, for both adults and children? This book explores the global impact of Alice in art, design, and performance from the 19th century to today. Starting with the Victorian literary and social context in which this story was created, it shows the ways it’s been reimagined and reinterpreted by each new generation, from the original illustrations by John Tenniel to artwork by Peter Blake and Salvador Dali, and from the 1951 Disney movie to Tim Burton’s 2010 interpretation.”
Bud’s listing says $50 (plus shipping), “Due July” but when I placed my order (after hesitating a modest 20 seconds), it said “This product is not available in the requested quantity. 1 of the items will be backordered.”
I included a note in my order asking whether that reflected it being not out yet, or whether they already had more orders than they anticipated copies to fulfill existing orders.
“Explore the phenomenon of Alice in Wonderland, which has captivated readers from Walt Disney to Annie Leibovitz for over 150 years.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is a cultural phenomenon. First published in 1865, it has never been out of print and has been translated into 170 languages. But why does it have such enduring and universal appeal for both adults and children?
This book explores the global impact of Alice in Wonderland across art, design and performance from the nineteenth century to today. It shows how Alice has been re-imagined and reinterpreted by each new generation: from the original illustrations by John Tenniel to artwork by Peter Blake and Salvador Dali, and from the 1951 Disney movie to Tim Burton’s latest interpretation.
This beautiful, playful publication also includes specially commissioned interactive illustrations by award-winning artist Kristjana S. Williams, as well as quotes from an array of cultural creators from Stephen Fry to Tim Walker, Ralph Steadman to Little Simz about the profound influence of Alice on their work.”
Whether this book is basically redundant to my modest collection of Aliceiana, I’ll find out.
(5) ALASKAN CONFIDENTIAL. In “Noir Fiction: When The Real Is Too Raw” on CrimeReads, Laird Barron, who writes horror and crime fiction, discusses the colorful people who visited his parents when he lived in Alaska and how he used these people as materials for his crime novels.
…A colorful ex-con named Tommy operated within those precincts. Tommy did time at the Goose Creek Penitentiary; warrants dogged him. He allegedly peddled coke for some bigger fish in Anchorage. Tommy drove a wired-together Datsun, or a motorcycle for the three months a man could do so without freezing his family jewels off. His favorite pastime included getting drunk at the lodge and harassing townies who alighted for weekend flings. He hated “the man.” To demonstrate his disdain, he’d snip pocket change in half with pliers….
Did you find taking that break from Frontlines beneficial? What did you take from that break that you were able to apply to the series?
It was immensely beneficial, even if I did get some flak from a few readers for daring to start another series when they were waiting for more Frontlines. But I really needed a bit of mental distance from that universe to come up with more stories worth telling. As long as it takes a few days to read what takes a few months to write, readers will want more books as quickly as possible.
(7) ART CRITICS STAND BY. Mark Lawrence (per his tradition) has followed the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off book competition by announckng the “SPFBO 6 Cover Contest”. The finalists have been picked by the bloggers. Not all the entries are in yet. When they are, the public will be invited to vote on the winner. Says Lawrence:
The public vote is of course a bit of fun and subject to all the issues of brigading and cheating that online polls often are – though our anti-cheat software is more effective than the raw poll results might lead you to believe.
(8) GOLDEN AGE SF ARTIST. Doug Ellis offers a catalog of art from the estate of artist Hubert Rogers, items now available for sale.
When John W. Campbell, the legendary editor of Astounding Science Fiction, looked for an artist to give expression to the groundbreaking fiction he was running during what is now known as science fiction’s Golden Age, he selected veteran pulp illustrator Hubert Rogers. For nearly 15 years (with a break during the war years, when he returned to his native Canada and contributed art for the war effort), Rogers was Astounding’s primary cover artist and a prolific interior artist, contributing distinctive art imbued with a touch of class, distinguishing Astounding from its fellow pulp competitors.
Unlike many science fiction artists, Rogers received much of his original art back from the publisher. This has been held by the Rogers family for the past 80 years, with only occasional pieces being offered in the market. Rogers’ daughter, Liz, has now decided to make available to collectors nearly all of the remaining art in their collection, which is listed in this catalog. This is truly a unique opportunity to acquire vintage science fiction art from the estate of the artist.
But Rogers didn’t only create classic science fiction art. His pulp art also included covers for the hero pulps, and two of his covers for Street & Smith’s The Wizard (a companion title to Astounding) can be found here for sale as well.
And you can download high res images of all the art in a zip file here.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 26, 1995 — Johnny Mnemonic premiered. Based on the William Gibson short story of the same name, it was directed by Robert Longo in his directorial debut. It starred Keanu Reeves, Takeshi Kitan, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Dina Meyer and Dolph Lundgren. Despite the story itself being well received and even being nominated for a Nebula Award, the response among critics to the film was overwhelmingly negative. It currently holds a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. It is available to watch here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 26, 1840 – Frederick Walker. Painter, pen & ink illustrator, wood engraver, watercolors. Renowned in his day. Social Realist; see here, here. Incorporated fantasy, see here (Spirit Painting), here. (Died 1875) [JH]
Born May 26, 1865 — Robert Chambers. His most-remembered work was The King in Yellow short stories. Though he would turn away from these supernatural tellings, Lovecraft’s included some of them in his Supernatural Horror in Literature critical study. Critics thought his work wasn’t as great as could have been. That said, Stross, Wagner, Carter and even Blish are said to have been influenced by him. (Died 1933.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1867 – André Devambez. Painter, illustrator, engraver, printmaker. Contributed to Le Figaro Illustré, Le Rire, L’Illustration. Look at The Only Bird that Flies Above the Clouds, here, factual but fantastic; imagine seeing it in 1910. Here is an illustration for Noëlle Roger’s cataclysmic The New Deluge (1922). Here is an oil Leprechauns in an Undergrowth. (Died 1944) [JH]
Born May 26, 1903 — Harry Steeger. He co-founded Popular Publications in 1930, one of the major publishers of pulp magazines, with former classmate Harold S. Goldsmith. They published The Spider which he created, and with Horror Stories and Terror Tales, he started the “Shudder Pulp” genre. So lacking in taste were these pulps, even a jaded public eventually rejected them. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1913 — Peter Cushing. Best-known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. There’s a CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin used for his likeness in Rogue One. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1913 – Joan Jefferson Farjeon. Scenic designer, illustrated published versions of plays she’d done, also fairy tales. See here (a frog footman), here (a tiger lily), here. From a 1951 stage production, here is a moment in Beauty and the Beast. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born May 26, 1921 — Mordecai Roshwald. He’s best-known for Level 7. (Read the expanded 2004 edition as it has his SF framing narrative.) He is also the author of A Small Armageddon, and a nonfiction work, Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1923 — Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in a recurring role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He’s on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing “Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer” in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. He narrates at least some of the GoT audiobooks. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1925 – Howard DeVore. Began collecting, 1936. Michigan Science Fantasy Society, 1948 (Hal Shapiro said it was the Michigan Instigators of Science Fantasy for Intellectual Thinkers Society, i.e. MISFITS). Leading dealer in SF books, paraphernalia; known as Big-Hearted Howard, a compliment-complaint-compliment; called himself “a huckster, 1st class”. Active in Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; Neffy Award. Also Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n (FAPA), Spectator Am. Pr. Soc. (SAPS). Said a Worldcon would be in Detroit over his dead body; was dragged across the stage; became Publicity head for Detention the 17th Worldcon. With Donald Franson The Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards (through 3rd ed’n 1998). Named Fan Guest of Honor for 64th Worldcon, but died before the con. His beanie had a full-size airplane propeller. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born May 26, 1933 – Yôji Kondô. Ph.D. in astrophysics. Aikido (7th degree black belt) and judo (6th degree). Senior positions at NASA, Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement; two hundred scientific papers; for more on that work, see here. SF as Eric Kotani; six novels, most with J.M. Roberts; two shorter stories; edited Requiem tribute to Heinlein; non-fiction Interstellar Travel & Multi-Generation Space Ships with F. Bruhweiler, J. Moore, C. Sheffield; essays, mostly co-authored, in SF Age and Analog. Heinlein Award. Writers of the Future judge. Obituary by OGH here. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born May 26, 1938 – Lyudmila Petrushevskaya. Author (including plays and screenwriting), singer, painter, animator. Russian Booker Prize, Pushkin Prize, World Fantasy Award. Twenty short stories in our field, most recently in The Paris Review. [JH]
Born May 26, 1946 – Mike Horvat. Printer by trade. Co-founder of Slanapa (the Slanderous Amateur Press Ass’n). Donated his fanzine collection to U. Iowa, see here. Active in apas outside our field, a decades-longer tradition; founded the American Private Press Ass’n, was its Librarian until 2005. Also amateur radio, postage stamps. [JH]
Born May 26, 1954 – Lisbeth Zwerger. Children’s book illustrator. Hans Christian Andersen and Silver Brush awards; Grand Prize from German Academy for Children’s & Youth Literature. Thirty books, most of them fantasy; see here (Swan Lake), here (the Mad Tea Party), here. [JH]
(12) FROM THE CIRCULAR FILE. Paul Levitz recalls the days when comics scripts were tossed in the trash after the project was over in “Artifacts”.
…Notwithstanding this, I saved a bunch of scripts from the trash for my own eduction. I’d pick out one each from the writers whose work I respected, or maybe a particularly interesting tale to study. I was limited to the scripts that passed through Joe Orlando’s editorial office–as his assistant I could take what I wanted of those, but it would have been de trop to raid Julie Schwartz’s garbage down the hall (assuming he hadn’t poured his yankee bean soup remains from lunch all over it, anyway). I learned what I could from them, then filed them away somewhere at home….
ON MARCH 15, THE DAY before South Africans were plunged into a lockdown which prohibited sales of alcohol, cigarettes, and takeout food, lines outside liquor stores spilled into the streets. One bottle store owner told me he did a month’s trade in a day.
Three weeks later, when President Cyril Ramaphosa made it clear the booze ban wouldn’t be lifted anytime soon, South Africans started to get desperate. Bottle store break-ins and drone-assisted drink deliveries made the news across the country. Then came the tenfold leap in pineapple sales: from 10,000 a day to nearly 100,000.
Thirsty South Africans have turned to making their own beer out of pineapples. In normal times, you can get sloshed on pineapple beer at the Big Pineapple, a 56-foot fiberglass construction in subtropical Bathurst. But these are not normal times. Luckily, pineapple beer—which is technically more of a wine or cider, as there’s no boiling involved—is easy to make, and can even be quite pleasant to drink.
(14) HELLO? ANYONE OUT THERE?[Item by Mike Kennedy.] Popular Mechanics takes a popsci look at a new analysis of the development intelligent life. “This Math Formula Has Determined the Odds of Aliens Existing” In a recent paper (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 May 2020), astronomer David Kipping uses Bayesian analysis to ponder the probabilities of intelligent life developing here or elsewhere. The paper’s statement of significance reads:
Does life’s early emergence mean that it would reappear quickly if we were to rerun Earth’s clock? If the timescale for intelligence evolution is very slow, then a quick start to life is actually necessary for our existence—and thus does not necessarily mean it is a generally quick process. Employing objective Bayesianism and a uniform-rate process assumption, we use just the chronology of life’s appearance in the fossil record, that of ourselves, and Earth’s habitability window to infer the true underlying rates accounting for this subtle selection effect. Our results find betting odds of >3:1 that abiogenesis is indeed a rapid process versus a slow and rare scenario, but 3:2 odds that intelligence may be rare.
Popular Mechanics sums up the paper with a single quote:
“Overall, our work supports an optimistic outlook for future searches for biosignatures,” the paper explains.
Properly disinfecting public spaces can help stop the spread of coronavirus, but cleaning crews are often not properly trained how to do so. Also, if the workers don’t wear personal protective equipment, they are at risk for infection.
David Tennant and Tom Baker are uniting to battle the Daleks in an upcoming Doctor Who audio-drama. The longest-running sci-fi TV series in the world, Doctor Who has become a cult classic. Regeneration is the secret to the show’s success. Doctor Who can reinvent itself periodically, recasting its star and allowing a new showrunner to take it in entirely new directions.
Every now and again, though, two or more incarnations of the Doctor come together in a fan-pleasing adventure in which they battle against iconic foes….
The plot is –
The Cathedral of Contemplation is an enigma, existing outside time. It turns through history, opening its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need.
Occasionally, the Doctor drops in – when he’s avoiding his destiny, it’s an ideal place to get some perspective. Only, he’s already there several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide.
And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, two Doctors must unite to stop them – or face extermination twice over!
(17) OTHER PEOPLE STARED, AS IF WE WERE BOTH QUITE INSANE. This is wild! The “augmented reality” bus stop window.
[Thanks to Mlex, Michael Toman, N., Andrew Porter, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Nina Shepardson, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, the man who does for Scroll titles what Escher did for architecture, Daniel Dern.]
First, the not-so-great news. I ask that you please respect my privacy in terms of like… not asking invasive questions about my medical stuff. Thank you in advance! The short of it is: I got sick in January 2019, did not go to the hospital (as I assumed it was a cold), and have been dealing with some ramifications of that since then. The main issue, though, is that over 2019, I sustained damage to my vocal chords. If we were not in a pandemic, I might have just taken a break from videos and then jumped back into things, but since this is not an emergency, most non-essential stuff is postponed here in NYC.
So, doctor’s orders: I need to stop doing Mark Reads videos. (Not Mark Watches, though, since it is not me continuously talking/yelling for 30-40 mins straight.)
… But also: I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE. Because it’s time to start a NEW SERIES here on Mark Reads and YES, SERIES.
…I will be reading N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy next!!!
There won’t be videos, but there will be REVIEWS! And it’s kinda exciting to get to go back to the old style of reviews, where I have to put my immediate reactions into the review instead of relying on videos for that part.
It all started innocently enough about five or so years ago. A fellow author sent me a link to an article about the Book View Café, and we figured: why don’t we do something like this? By this stage many of us in our small circle of writerly folks were already rather jaded about the opportunities available in the industry—especially for those of us who live in far-flung places like South Africa where there isn’t a big market for SFF fiction. Some of us had already been agented, had sold novels to big publishing houses. Some of us were not making it out of the slush pile yet… or were exhausted by all those full requests for submissions that simply vanished into a sticky silence. Added to that, some of us also had had unpleasant experiences with small presses going under, taking their back catalogue out of print. And a good handful were simply daunted by the war stories told by their author friends who’d already had a mad whirl on the merry-go-round of getting published and had their fingers burnt.
(3) SPFBO PROGRESS REPORT. Mark Lawrence says he has 192 of the 300 entries wanted to begin the sixth Self-Published Blog-Off. They are listed in the post.
(4) HOW QUICKLY THEY FORGET. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] The last question of the New York Times‘s news quiz had enough information to be easy, but only 43% picked the correct answer.
The new book “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” tells the story of a character named Coriolanus Snow and is a prequel to which best-selling series?
“Game of Thrones”
“The Hunger Games”
(5) HOW TO FILL UP THE VAST WASTELAND. In the Washington Post, Steven Zeitchik says that it’s highly unlikely the major networks will have original dramas on this fall because no pilots were shot and Los Angeles and New York remain locked down. This could mean that the networks could broadcast more foreign or cable originals, leading to Star Trek: Picard being broadcast on CBS. “The fall broadcast season could look like nothing we’ve ever seen before”.
…Most of the roughly 50 pilots ordered this year were never shot. (Pilot-shooting usually takes place in the spring — right as lockdowns began.) That means network executives would have to order full series with nothing but a script on which to base their decision, a process they have historically resisted as too risky.
Not that they could shoot those programs — or any returning ones — if they wanted to. To make a September debut, series need to begin shooting by July or early August at the latest. Yet production is nowhere near restarting. Producers and the guilds that cover most Hollywood workers have all said they are not yet comfortable reopening sets, where hundreds of cast and crew work in close quarters for long hours.
(6) AMAZINGCON. Steve Davidson has updated the AmazingCon schedule of events. The virtual event runs June 12-14. Registration required. Donations requested, but not required.
Taking place on line (we’re calling it “AmazingCon – Virtually the First One!”) via Zoom and this website, AmazingCon will feature author readings (more than 40!), writing workshops, panel discussions, continuous musical performances, an online art show and more.
(7) TAPPING INTO THE HUGOS. Essence of Wonder With Gadi Evron will begin a series of Hugo finalists live shows, over the next month hosting the finalists in various Hugo categories for panel discussions featuring their work and nominations. Registration required – no charge.
On Saturday the 30th of May we have the Best Professional Artist finalists on the show. We will further feature world-renowned author and public intellectual David Brin for a reading and an interview. This episode was created in collaboration with ASFA, and the finalists panel will be moderated by Sara Felix.
(8) VETERANS. The immortal warriors of The Old Guard are coming to Netflix on July 10.
Forever is harder than it looks. Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond The Lights), The Old Guard is a gritty, grounded, action-packed story that shows living forever is harder than it looks.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 23, 1984 — George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a prequel to Raiders of The Los Ark, premiered. The second film in the now four film deep franchise, it starred Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Philip Stone and Ke Huy Quan. It was primarily written by Lucas with assistance from Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. It was scored by John Williams. It had decidedly mixed reviews early on but the consensus now among critics is that it’s a very good film, and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes agree and give it an 85% rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 23, 1909 — Robert Thomas Maitland Scott Jr. Son and a father and son writing team who created The Spider, a pulp character who was clearly a rip-off of The Shadow. They wrote only the first two Spider novels before it was written by various house authors though it’s disputed if Scott Jt. had an uncredited role because the SF element in the series clearly reflect his tastes. He would die in a motor vehicle while on active duty with Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. (Died 1945.) (CE)
Born May 23, 1915 – Oliver Butterworth. Four decades a Professor of English at Hartford College; staged a yearly Shakespeare’s Birthday party. Six children’s books: we can claim The Enormous Egg which won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, two more. The egg was enormous because it had to hatch a triceratops, eventually named Uncle Beazley. Egg was made into a play, produced on television by NBC Children’s Theater. (Died 1990) [JH]
Born May 23, 1915 – William Timmins. A run of 46 Astounding covers including for The World of Null-A, six more; here’s his last; fifty interiors. Outside our field, All Aces, The Boy Scout Handbook, Clues, Dime Sports, Family Circle, Liberty, The Shadow, Western Story; oils, watercolors. He’s on this year’s Retro-Hugo ballot. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born May 23, 1921 – James Blish. Member of the Futurians, his fanzine The Planeteer. Doctor Mirabilis about Roger Bacon. In the Wonders of 1958 discussions at the 66th Worldcon we took up two of his books from that year and asked “How does Time compare to Conscience”? Six dozen Star Trekadaptations, collected in a dozen books. Ninety more short stories. Twenty columns of book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. At the 38th Worldcon, I danced “Horatio’s Fancy” with his widow. (Died 1975) [JH]
Born May 23, 1933 — Joan Collins, 87. Sister Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever,” the sort-of Ellison-scripted Trek episode. She has an extensive number of other genre appearances including Land of the Pharaohs, Mission: Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Tales from the Crypt, Space: 1999, The Fantastic Journey, Future Cop, Fantasy Island and Faerie Tale Theatre. (CE)
Born May 23, 1933 — Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born May 23, 1934 – Phil Castora. Quiet and unassuming fan, joined us in 1951 at Pittsburgh, then Washington, D.C., then Los Angeles where I met him. Quiet, that is, unless something struck him as really funny, when he would collapse laughing, rolling on the floor and startling the cat if you had one. I was like that in law school. His letters to File 770 in paper days were gems, as Our Gracious Host has told us. And OGH should know; he too served as our club Secretary. Luckily Castora left a memoir, Who Knows What Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen? (Died 2009) [JH]
Born May 23, 1935 – Isidore Haiblum. City College of New York with honors. Eighteen novels, a good number; thirteen are ours, a good number for those of us among whom eighteen is a good number; translated into French, German, Italian, Portuguese. Roger Zelazny called Interworld a mix of hard-boiled and zany, and he should know. Faster Than a Speeding Bullet (with Stuart Silver) about Golden Age radio. Interviewed Isaac Bashevis Singer in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born May 23, 1935 — Susan Cooper, 85. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Do not go see the truly awful film. Her Scottish castle-set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and just plain fun. I’d also recommend Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent. (CE)
Born May 23, 1967 — Sean Williams, 53. Australian author who has been the recipient of a lot of Ditmar and Aurealis Awards. And I mean a lot. Most of his work has been co-authored with Shane Nix (such as Emergence and Orphans series, Star Wars: New Jedi Order novels) but I’d recommend The Books of the Cataclysm series wrote solely by him as it’s most excellent. He’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born May 23, 1974 – Sarah Beth Durst. A score of fantasy books for kids, teens, adults. Alex Award from American Lib’y Ass’n. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Drink, Slay, Love made into a Lifetime movie. About The Reluctant Queen, here’s her Big Idea. Translated into Czech, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish. [JH]
Born May 23, 1979 — Brian James Freeman, 41. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November Storms, This Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (superb), co-authored with Bev Vincent and illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here. (CE)
… Such terrors are not ours. But they are, so to speak, our regular dreads intensified—superheated, speeded up, and luridly lit. We worry about being stuck in bed with a rocketing temperature and drenched pajamas; we worry about our elders, who may be home alone and afraid to be visited, or wrestling for breath in the back of an ambulance. Such worries are only natural. Our imaginings, though, defy both nature and reason. They are as rabid as zombies, falling and crawling over themselves to fabricate what comes next. Dreams travel worstward, during a fever, and one job of the movies is to give our dreams, good or bad, a local habitation and a name.
Actor Chris Pratt has shared the moment he accidentally wiped clean his entire email inbox.
The Marvel star began sorting through his inbox after telling fans his son, Jack, had teased him for having 35,000 unread messages.
Unfortunately, Pratt pressed the wrong button and was forced to watch as 51,000 emails were erased.
Pratt shared the moment on Instagram, and fans rushed to poke fun at the incident.
“Yesterday my son was playing with my phone and he gasped in shock looking at the number of unread emails that I have. It’s a lot,” Pratt said.
“I’m one of those idiots who will do an IQ test and be like, ‘Wanna take an IQ test? Give me your email’. And then I do, which proves my IQ is about seven, I just get junk from everyone and I just don’t erase it.”
The Guardians of the Galaxy actor said his new goal while taking time off work due to Covid-19 would be to read through 1,000 emails a day.
He also made a promise to reply to them all.
However, his well-meaning plan fell through when he inexplicably deleted every single message he had ever received.
(14) MASKED AND CAPED CRUSADER. If you subscribe or haven’t run out of free articles (like I have) you may be able to read Kate Sidley’s “Batman Works From Home”, one of The New Yorker’s “Daily Shouts.”
… The panic that defined March and April had been replaced by a constant, ever-present anxiety that hadn’t spiked since he found out his job status was transitioning from furloughed to terminated. Since then the days have felt blended, broken up only by the occasional thrill of going to the grocery store for pasta or paper towels, although even those adventures have been less pleasant because his mask had really started to smell.
Jack couldn’t remember whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday when he woke up this morning and gave up on the analysis before deciding. …
But Ben Shneiderman, a University of Maryland computer scientist who has for decades warned against blindly automating tasks with computers, thinks fully automated cars and the tech industry’s vision for a robotic future is misguided. Even dangerous. Robots should collaborate with humans, he believes, rather than replace them.
Late last year, Dr. Shneiderman embarked on a crusade to convince the artificial intelligence world that it is heading in the wrong direction. In February, he confronted organizers of an industry conference on “Assured Autonomy” in Phoenix, telling them that even the title of their conference was wrong. Instead of trying to create autonomous robots, he said, designers should focus on a new mantra, designing computerized machines that are “reliable, safe and trustworthy.”
There should be the equivalent of a flight data recorder for every robot, Dr. Shneiderman argued.
It is a warning that’s likely to gain more urgency when the world’s economies eventually emerge from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and millions who have lost their jobs try to return to work. A growing number of them will find they are competing with or working side by side with machines….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mel Blanc: Man of a Thousand Voices on YouTube is a 2007 documentary featuring interviews with directors Friz Freleng, Terry Gilliam, William Hanna, and Chuck Jones, voice actors Stan Freberg, June Foray, and Janet Waldo, long-time friend Kirk Douglas, and author Kim Newman.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Gadi Evron, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
He tweeted: “The SPFBO 6 will open for business at 1pm GMT on the 23rd of May 2020. Entry will be via an online form, be warned: YOU WILL NEED A GMAIL ACCOUNT or to get someone with a gmail account to it for you.”
They need 300 entries. On May 23 the link to enter will be here. SPFBO 5 filled in just over 24 hours!
Those interested in entering should bear in mind that Lawrence’s rules are —
i) No book that was entered in a previous SPFBO can be reentered. ii) The book must be #1 in a series or a stand-alone. iii) The book must actually be self-published by the start date, not something you’re considering self-publishing in future. iv) It must be a fantasy book. (If you say it’s fantasy then it is. But if it isn’t really it won’t get far.) v) One book per author. vi) No anthologies. vii) No short stories – books must be 40,000 words or longer. viii) Your manuscript must accompany the email you send to enter the contest. You will not be allowed to update or change it. ix) Don’t contact the blog to which you’ve been assigned. You can contact me about important issues. . Not a rule, an observation: It doesn’t matter how long your book has been published, Ten years? Fine.
The contest will begin on June 1.
The SPFBO Mission is –
Mission statement: The SPFBO exists to shine a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It exists to help readers select, from the enormous range of options, books that have a better chance of entertaining them than a random choice, thereby increasing reader faith in finding a quality self-published read.
And Lawrence explains —
…The true prize is the publicity of being the winner, plus the bonus of being reviewed on the blogs of 10 highly respected fantasy bloggers.
Frankly you can’t buy better publicity than that. The winning book will have been selected as the best from a field of 250+ self-published works.
The contest began with 300 entries provided on a “first come/first entered” basis. To qualify, the books had to be a work of fantasy, self-published, available for purchase at the time of entry, and either a standalone or the first entry in a series.
Those entries were then broken into blocks of 30 books. Each reviewer read and reviewed their block of 30 books and nominated a single book into the final round. All 10 reviewers read and reviewed all 10 finalists with the average score being used to determine the ultimate winner.
Mark Lawrence started the SPFBO self-published fantasy book contest five years ago. Here is his Mission Statement:
The SPFBO exists to shine a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It exists to help readers select, from the enormous range of options, books that have a better chance of entertaining them than a random choice, thereby increasing reader faith in finding a quality self-published read.
It is not: i) Perfect. Great books will slip through this net just like they do every other net. ii) Aimed at getting traditional publications deals. Some authors opt for them but it would be an insult to suggest that the holy grail for self published authors is a deal with a big publisher. iii) Charged for. This is totally free. The enormous effort given by the reviewers/blogs is a gift. Don’t abuse it. #NoDrama