SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal sent a message to members about the fate of the 2020 Nebula Conference after the Los Angeles Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills started issuing cancellation notices today. The organization had intended to make a statement on March 31, but now has gone ahead and shared an overview of their plans.
ONLINE CONFERENCE. From May 29-31, there will be a live
and interactive online event. “The team has been
working on this for several weeks because we anticipated that holding an in-person
event this year would be irresponsible.”
Our goal is to create the essence of the Nebula Conference, even though the form has changed. Our vision is for attendees to feel elevated through the content, enjoy a sense of community with their peers, and have an opportunity for celebration.
…The Nebula Conference will include panels, solo presentations, conference mentorships, workshops, forums, chats, and virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by John Scalzi).
… The online conference registration will be $150, which includes three days of online panels with real-time interaction, an annual subscription to archived content, and a one-year subscription to the Bulletin. People who have already registered will have the option to defer to the L.A. conference in 2021, donate to help with COVID-19 assistance, or receive a full refund.
NEBULA AWARDS. The Nebula Awards ceremony will stream live at 8 p.m. Eastern on
PLATFORM DEMO. Kowal told members:
On March 31st, we’ll have a demonstration of the online Nebula Conference. We are very excited by this platform because it will allow us to do online classes and host virtual book tours for our members going forward.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. Starting in April, the SFWA Board will be offering grants of up to
$1,000 for SFWA members financially affected by COVID-19. Donations are
If you would like to donate now to help with SFWA sponsored COVID-19 relief, visit https://www.sfwa.org/donate and select “Where The Need Is Greatest,” which the board can redirect to our relief efforts.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE WAY. The message ends —
The team has been working very hard for a March 31st release of this information and is not yet ready to process refunds or transfers. Please wait until we formally roll out our plans on March 31st before contacting the office with questions.
Over the next week, we will be reaching out to our team of volunteers, program participants, and Nebula finalists with more information about what these changes mean to them and how they will be able to participate in the transformed conference.
This was what the adventurer’s father said to him in the climax of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as he hung by one hand from a cliff and reached with the other toward the Holy Grail. Ultimately, the words hit home. As much as he wanted one more treasure, he had gone far enough.
That’s apparently the conclusion Steven Spielberg just reached. The Oscar winner has decided not to direct a planned fifth movie about Harrison Ford’s punch-throwing archaeologist, multiple sources confirmed to Vanity Fair. Instead, James Mangold, director of Ford v Ferrari,Wolverine, and Logan, is in talks to take over the project, which is still set to hit theaters on July 9, 2021.
A source close to Spielberg told Vanity Fair, “The decision to hand over directing duties was entirely Steven’s,” adding that “he felt now was the perfect time to let a new director and a new generation give their perspective to the overall story and this film.”
(2) EGYPT ACROSS THE AGES. Juliette Wade hosts “K. Tempest Bradford” at Dive Into Worldbuilding. Read the synopsis, watch the video, or do both!
…She’s been researching Egypt for a long time. She told us about how she’s been attempting to write a novel set in Egypt since college. In fact, it’s a grouping of projects, not one (as is appropriate with a long and thorough research project of this nature!).
She started with a novel based on the life of Pharaoh Akhenaten with links to Oedipus, and then decided she didn’t have the skills to do it well and put it on the back burner. At that point she started learning a lot about the 18th dynasty. People know a lot about that period, she points out, and she has become very knowledgeable about it. Then she started writing a Steampunk story set in ancient Egypt, pushing boundaries. It started out as a short story and turned into a novel. That, she says, has been common for projects she’s worked on since Clarion West. That piece is set at the start of the beginning of the 18th dynasty….
Tempest says she’s thought about carrying forward the steampunk cultural elements into her other novel. Giant flying scarab beetles run by the heat of the sun for Akhenaten to ride in sounded pretty awesome to us!
(3) FOWL PLAY. In
the February 1 Irish Times, Niamh Donnelly interviews Eoin Colfer about
his new fantasy Highwire, as Colfer discusses the forthcoming Artemis
Fowl movie, how he hopes to slow down after 43 books, and the graphic novels he
writes that deal with contemporary political issues: “Eoin
Colfer: ‘Humour defines me … I’m obsessed with it’”.
… “As a teacher I always found that telling stories was the best way to teach because you could sneak the information inside an adventure story. So, a lot of the Artemis books, for example, would have a very ecological message. My books tend to be, of late, a mixture of escapism and trying to tackle issues head on. Last year we did the graphic novel, Illegal, which was, just blatantly, a book about how tough it is to migrate from Africa to Europe. But because it was a graphic novel, we got to people who wouldn’t normally get that subject. And we also brought a lot of people who do like that subject into the world of graphic novels. And then the flip side of that is I like to do books like Highfire and Fowl Twins just so people can have a laugh and kids can go to bed smiling.”
Q: Was there a particular event or idea that was the genesis for The Glass Hotel?
A: My original idea was that I wanted to write a ghost story that was also somehow about money. (In fact, one of my early working titles was Ghosts and Money, because titles are hard.) But the event that captured my imagination was the collapse of the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The characters in the novel are entirely fictional, but the central crime is essentially Madoff’s.
Q: Station Eleven fans will find some small nods to that beloved novel here. While this novel is different in so many ways how do you see it in relation to Station Eleven? It seems like they are both in many ways about art?
A: Yes, I think that’s fair to say. I also think it’s fair to say that if The Glass Hotel is a departure from Station Eleven, it’s in many ways a return to the themes that preoccupied me in my earlier work. My first three novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet—were largely concerned with bad decisions, the question of how to live honourably in a damaged world, memory, and questionable morality.
(5) AVOID THE TRAP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This anecdote about Bradbury and Matheson is from “The Genre
of You” by Jonathan Maberry behind a paywall in the March
‘What kind of writer do you want to be?’
That question was asked of me when I was 13. I’d been dragged along to a party at a penthouse in New York City. It was 1971 and the person asking the question was the legendary writer Richard Matheson…
…Before I could answer, another of the writers at the party — national treasure Ray Bradbury –touched my shoulder and said, ‘Be careful, young man. That question’s a trap.”…
…So, what was the trap? I found out when I did not step into it. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘A lot of things, I guess.’
Matheson beamed a great smile. ‘Good answer!’ he said, then explained why. ‘A genre is something that matters to the people in marketing. It doesn’t matter much to me. It doesn’t matter to Ray. We write what we want to write and then figure out how to sell it.”
Bradbury agreed. ‘I like science fiction and fantasy, but if an idea for mystery comes and whispers loud enough to my ear, I’ll have to listen.’
rest of the article includes anecdotes from Matheson, Harlan Ellison, and Joe
R. Lansdale. Here’s one more Bradbury quote:
“Don’t just write what you want to read — everyone does that. Write the story you would go out of your way to hunt down and read.'”
“It was the 1970s,” Arline L. Bronzaft, a psychologist who worked on Hertz’s replacement map, told Newsday in 2004. “People were fearful of going on the subways. We wanted people to use the map to see the sights of New York.”
The map that Hertz’s firm came up with included streets, neighborhoods and other surface reference points. And it depicted the city and its signature elements like Central Park and the waterways in a fashion more reflective of reality — the park wasn’t square, as on the earlier map, and the water wasn’t beige.
It feels like I recently read an article on the
evolution of subway maps, as the systems’ complexity grew… but I can’t find
or remember it. Ah well.
(Somewhere I still have a few NYT subway tokens of
various sizes (= different values over the years). Pretty sure at least one was
for a 10cent fare.)
For the sfnal connection, I’ve got a list of transit
maps for Middle Earth that I put together a year and a half ago (if the
Fellowship had had ’em, those books and movies could have been shorter,
methinks), but apparently didn’t offer to OGH… I’ll recheck and update it and
send it in.
February 27, 1979 — The Curse of Dracula premiered on NBC. Michael Nouri was Count Dracula, who is living undercover as a college teacher in 1979 San Francisco. It was part of Cliffhangers which attempted to resurrect the genre of film serials. Each hour-long episode was divided into three 20-minute (including commercials) stories featuring different storylines Including this one. The Secret Empire was another genre serial done as part of this show. You can see the first episode of The Curse of Draculahere. Cliffhangers lasted but a single season from the 27th of February to 1st of May 1979.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 27, 1902 — John Steinbeck. Yes, John Steinbeck. ISFDB lists one novel, The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication, Plus a bevy of short fiction such as “The Wedding of King”, “The Affair at 7 Rue de M—“ and “The Death of Merlin”. I’ll admit that i didn’t know these existed. So, has anyone read these? (Died 1968.)
Born February 27, 1915 — Donald Curtis. His first genre role was an uncredited one as Ronal in the first twelve chapters of the Forties Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe. He’s a German sentry in Invisible Agent, an WW II propaganda film, and Dr. John Carter in It Came from Beneath the Sea, a Fifties SF film. Likewise he’s in another Fifties SF film, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, as Major Huglin. He played five different characters during on Science Fiction Theater, and he’d later have a one-offs on The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart!. (Died 1997.)
Born February 27, 1927 — Lynn Cartwright. She had a career in genre productions starting with two Fifties pulp films, Queen of Outer Space and Wasp Women. She next shows up in The Erotic Adventures of Robin Hood, his Lusty Men and Bawdy Wenches. She has an appearance in the Far Out Space Nuts series, and earlier showed up on Science Fiction Theater. The Lucifer Complex is her SF role. (Died 2004.)
Born February 27, 1934 — Van Williams. He was the Green Hornet (with the late Bruce Lee as his partner Kato) on The Green Hornet and three Batman cross-over episodes. He would voice President Lyndon B. Johnson on the Batman series, show up in an episode of Mission Impossible, and also do a one-off Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected and that’s it. (Died 2016.)
Born February 27, 1938 — T.A. Waters. A professional magician and magic author. He appears not terribly well-disguised as Sir Thomas Leseaux, an expert on theoretical magic as a character in Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy fantasy series and in Michael Kurland’s The Unicorn Girl in which he appears as Tom Waters. He himself wrote The Probability Pad which is a sequel to The Unicorn Girl. Together with Chester Anderson’s earlier The Butterfly Kid , they make up Greenwich Village trilogy. (Died 1998.)
Born February 27, 1944 — Ken Grimwood. Another writer who died way too young, damn it. Writer of several impressive genre novels including Breakthrough and Replay which I’ve encountered and Into the Deep and Elise which are listed in ISFDB but which I’m not familiar with. So, what else is worth reading by him? (Died 2003.)
Born February 27, 1960 — Jeff Smith, 60. Creator and illustrator of the most awesome Bone, the now complete series that he readily admits that “a notable influence being Walt Kelly’s Pogo”. Smith also worked for DC on a Captain Marvel series titled Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil.
Born February 27, 1964 — John Pyper-Ferguson, 56. I certainly remember him best as the villain Peter Hutter on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. but I see that he got he got his start in Canadian horror films such as Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and Pin: A Plastic Nightmare. His first major SF role was in Space Marines as Col. Fraser. And though he has an extensive one-off career in genre series, his occurrence as a repeated cast member is not uncommon, ie he’s Agent Bernard Fainon the new Night Stalker for the episodes, shows up as Tomas Vergis on Caprica for six episodes and I see he’s had a recurring role on The Last Ship as Tex Nolan.
Born February 27, 1970 — Michael A. Burstein, 50. He won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 1997 for “TeleAbsence”. His “Sanctuary” novella was chosen by Analog readers as the best novella published by the magazine in 2005. He has one to date, Remember the Future: The Award-Nominated Stories of Michael A. Burstein, which is available fir the usual digital publishers.
Born February 27, 1976 — Nikki Amuka-Bird, 44. The Voice of Testimony in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctor story, “Twice Upon A Time”. She’s shown up quite a bit in genre work from horror (The Omen), space opera (Jupiter Ascending), takes on folk tales (Sinbad and Robin Hood) and evening SF comedy (Avenue 5).
…Joe: I’d love to see a Nebula Longlist where we can see the even just the three or four books that just missed the ballot because here’s where things get interesting for me – I’m surprised that neither The City in the Middle of the Night nor The Light Brigademade the ballot. There’s no telling how, exactly, the Nebulas will translate to the Hugo Awards except that I think we both agree that A Song for a New Day feels more like a Nebula Book than a Hugo Book for whatever that means and whatever that’s worth.
Adri: I agree. Because the Nebulas don’t release voting statistics, they can feel like a closed box in this regard, albeit one that we collectively put our trust in to be delivering a result accurate to the voting base (and, hey, no 20booksto50k shenanigans this year!). Anders, Hurley and also The Future of Another Timeline feel like books that must have been bubbling just under. I wonder, also, about books like Black Leopard, Red Wolf, and some of the other literary “crossover” titles we were looking at on the Locus list. Are those also in the hidden longlist, or is that not what SFWA voters were looking at when putting this together?
(10) SOME LIKE IT SHORT. Then, Adri Joy reviews five sources
of short sff – including collections and magazines – as part of “Questing in Shorts: February 2020” at Nerds
of a Feather.
Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press)
Aliette de Bodard’s Subterranean press collection is as beautiful as you’d expect on the outside, with a Maurizio Manzieri cover and the standard level of Subterranean finishing. It’s also an excellent collection that’s largely comprised of pieces from the Best Series-nominated Xuya universe, which ranges from alternate history Earth stories in which the Western part of North America is colonised by China, and the Aztec empire of Mexica survives into the present day in a loose alliance with the power now called Xuya. The collection contains one piece from this Earthbound continuity “The Jaguar House, in Shadow“, an intriguing political thriller which, along with the opening story “The Shipmaker“, sets up the rest of the intergalactic political, cultural and technological traits of the Xuya universe very nicely. De Bodard’s stories dealing with cultural clashes of some kind are highlights for me: from “The Waiting Stars“, the tale of a young Dai Viet woman who has been taken from her family and raised in the Galactic Empire, to “Scattered Along the River of Heaven“, a story of conflict and war and cultural revolution told two generations after the fact, de Bodard is quietly unflinching in her portrayals of displaced characters and their struggles to find connection with the different cultures they are surrounded by and yet, to some extent, alienated from. The absolute highlight on this front is “Immersion“, a Nebula and Locus winning short story which alternates between Quy and another woman from the Rong people, both of whom wear Galactic (western culture)-made “Immersers” which allow them to communicate with Galactics but at the expense of their own culture and personhood. For Quy, who wears the Immerser briefly to help her family with business transactions, the experience is unpleasant but temporary; for the other narrator, it has become her permanent reality. The story’s sense of isolation, and the various losses which the casual dominance of Galactic culture in this part of space has created, come around into a perfect, heartbreaking, circle by the end as the second narrator finds tentative connection in her isolating, but unique, understanding of both Rong and Galactic culture….
(11) RETURNING TO THE GALACTOSCOPE. And there’s so much sff
coming out in 1965 that Galactic Journey ran a second batch of reviews:
Here it is, a movie that should make you think Warcraft is high art. Postal opens on two terrorists in the cockpit of a plane, fighting about how many virgins greet martyrs when they enter heaven. The argument ends with them deciding to fly to the Bahamas instead, but then the passengers of their hijacked plane revolt and force it to crash into the World Trade Center. Everything hovers around that level of bad and offensive for the rest of the movie, making this an easy call for definitively worst video-game adaptation ever. Uwe Boll, you make it so hard to love you.
Two American satellites have docked high over the Atlantic in a demonstration of what many commentators expect to be a burgeoning new industry.
One of the platforms is an old telecoms spacecraft low on fuel; the other is an auxiliary unit that will now take over all the former’s manoeuvring functions.
This will allow Intelsat-901 to extend its 19-year mission of relaying TV and other services by another five years.
The event has been described as a major accomplishment by the firms involved.
Northrop Grumman, which produced the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 that grabbed hold of Intelsat-901, said it was the first time two commercial satellites had come together in this way at an altitude of just over 36,000km.
…Northrop Grumman’s vehicle will now control all movement for the pair, including the precise pointing required by IS-901 to map its telecommunication beams on to the right regions of Earth’s surface.
When the Intelsat’s extended mission comes to an end, the MEV-1 will take the telecoms platform to a “graveyard” orbit before then joining up with another “running on empty” customer that needs the same manoeuvring assistance.
Northrop Grumman, which is operating its new servicing business through a subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, said it planned to expand the basic “tug” concept offered by MEV-1 to include vehicles capable of in-orbit repair and assembly.
Already it is working on systems that would feature not just simple docking probes but robotic arms to grab hold of satellites. Another option being developed is fuel pods that can be attached to satellites running low on fuel.
China is preparing to deploy 100,000 ducks to neighbouring Pakistan to help tackle swarms of crop-eating locusts.
Chinese agricultural experts say a single duck can eat more than 200 locusts a day and be more effective than pesticides.
Pakistan declared an emergency earlier this month saying locust numbers were the worst in more than two decades.
Millions of the insects have also been devastating crops in parts of East Africa.
The Chinese government announced this week it was sending a team of experts to Pakistan to develop “targeted programmes” against the locusts.
Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, described the ducks as “biological weapons”. He said that while chickens could eat about 70 locusts in one day a duck could devour more than three times that number.
“Ducks like to stay in a group so they are easier to manage than chickens,” he told Chinese media.
Some of Earth’s plants have fallen in love with metal. With roots that act practically like magnets, these organisms — about 700 are known — flourish in metal-rich soils that make hundreds of thousands of other plant species flee or die.
Slicing open one of these trees or running the leaves of its bush cousin through a peanut press produces a sap that oozes a neon blue-green. This “juice” is actually one-quarter nickel, far more concentrated than the ore feeding the world’s nickel smelters.
The plants not only collect the soil’s minerals into their bodies but seem to hoard them to “ridiculous” levels, said Alan Baker, a visiting botany professor at the University of Melbourne who has researched the relationship between plants and their soils since the 1970s. This vegetation could be the world’s most efficient, solar-powered mineral smelters. What if, as a partial substitute to traditional, energy-intensive and environmentally costly mining and smelting, the world harvested nickel plants?
Aritst Liisa Hietanen is one talented lady. Like, incredibly talented. Hietanen takes crocheting to a whole new level when she creates life-like models of her friends and neighbors in her native Finland.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin
Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jenora
(1) CON CANCELLED. MediaWest*Con 40 will not be held – the pioneering
sf/media con in Lansing, MI declares it’s the “End
of an Era”. The con had been scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend in
…Sadly, despite our best efforts to increase membership to a sustainable level, advance memberships are at an all-time low and show no sign of improving. Even with repeating the function space downsizing we instituted last year, this year it does not appear we would make the minimum number of hotel reservations needed to avoid thousands in hotel penalties. Therefore, we have no choice but to cancel MW*C 40 and notify attendees so that they can cancel their travel and hotel reservations in a timely fashion.
We hope people will understand that this is not an easy decision for us, and that it does NOT mean MediaWest*Con is dead. Rather, it gives us time to consider how MW*C may continue in some form.
Obviously, the myriad causes are nothing new — the graying of fandom, dwindling interest in fanzine culture, technology that makes face-to-face meetings seem superfluous, ever increasing travel expense and inconvenience, and SF/Media going mainstream, to name but a few. All have contributed to declining membership and participation in suggesting panel topics, Fan Q nominations, etc.. Nor are many of these issues unique to us, as other cons have suffered as well with no solution in sight.
(2) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 1632. Eric Flint posted a 20-year retrospective of 1632 and the
book series it proved to be a launching point for: “Tempus Fugit”.
…I’ve lost track of how many authors have been involved in the Ring of Fire universe, and how many words have been written in the series. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 authors, and we’re now well beyond 10,000,000 words—of which at least 5,000,000 have been produced in paper as well as electronic format. To put that in perspective, that’s more than twenty times as long as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and sixteen times as long as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And—wait for it! wait for it!—it’s now much longer than the Bible. (Which comes in at 783,137 words, in the King James edition.)
There are now at least two million copies of the 1632 series books in print. And—this is where grubby scribblers chortle with glee—the royalties earned by the authors have just gone over the $2,000,000 mark. Yay for us!
Literary Hub is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the fourth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, which awards $1,000 to an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman, aged 30 or younger, who lives in the United States.
According to the guidelines, “the winning collection must have been started by the contestant, and all items in the collection must be owned by her. A collection may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera; it may be organized by theme, author, illustrator, publisher, printing technique, binding style, or another clearly articulated principle. The winning collection will be more than a reading list of favorite texts: it will be a coherent group of printed or manuscript items, creatively put together. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects.”
…The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2020. You can see the full requirements and apply here. The winner will be announced in September. The prize is sponsored this year by Biblio, Swann Galleries, and Ellen A. Michelson.
Again, we have a strong ballot in this category. G.V. Anderson is certainly one of the best short fiction writers to have emerged in recent years. Her novelette “A Strange Uncertain Light” is also the only Nebula finalist to have originated in the print magazines. “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll is a lovely little story and I’m happy that it made the ballot. Sarah Pinsker and Caroline M. Yoachim are both excellent writers of short fiction, though I haven’t read these particular stories. I also must have missed “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal, even though I usually read the Tor.com stories. However, I have enjoyed other stories by Mimi Mondal that I read. Finally, I’m very happy to see Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo on the Nebula ballot and not just because we featured it at the Speculative Fiction Showcase last year. This is the first Nebula finalist we’ve featured at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, by the way, though we have featured finalists and even winners of the Bram Stoker and Sir Julius Vogel Awards.
Diversity count: Six women, two international writers, two writers of colour
Science fiction has struggled to achieve the same credibility as highbrow literature. In 2019, the celebrated author Ian McEwan dismissed science fiction as the stuff of “anti-gravity boots” rather than “human dilemmas”. According to McEwan, his own book about intelligent robots, Machines Like Me, provided the latter by examining the ethics of artificial life – as if this were not a staple of science fiction from Isaac Asimov’s robot stories of the 1940s and 1950s to TV series such as Humans (2015-2018).
Psychology has often supported this dismissal of the genre. The most recent psychological accusation against science fiction is the “great fantasy migration hypothesis”. This supposes that the real world of unemployment and debt is too disappointing for a generation of entitled narcissists. They consequently migrate to a land of make-believe where they can live out their grandiose fantasies.
The authors of a 2015 study stress that, while they have found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such psychological profiling of “geeks” is not intended to be stigmatizing. Fantasy migration is “adaptive” – dressing up as Princess Leia or Darth Vader makes science fiction fans happy and keeps them out of trouble.
But, while psychology may not exactly diagnose fans as mentally ill, the insinuation remains – science fiction evades, rather than confronts, disappointment with the real world….
Whatever happened to that girl? You know the one I mean: long hair, old-fashioned dress, with a dark, looming house in the distance and a look of anxiety on her face. She’s most often running from said dark house.
The girl from the Gothic novels.
I’m talking about the mid-20th century Gothic novels, not the original crop of Gothic books, like The Castle of Otranto or The Mysteries of Udolpho. No, it’s that second wave of Gothics—termed Gothic romances—that were released in the 1960s in paperback form that I’m referring to. This was a category dominated by authors such as Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney, and their covers fixed in the minds of a couple of generations what ‘Gothic’ meant….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 20, 1955 — Tarantula premiered. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold. It stars John Agar, Mara Corday, and Leo G. Carroll. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Arnold, which was in turn was based on by Fresco’s script for the Science Fiction Theatre “No Food for Thought” episode which was also directed by Arnold. It was a box office success earning more than a million dollars in its first month of release. Critics at the time liked it and even current audiences at Rotten Tomatoes gives at a sterling 92% rating. You can watch it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 20, 1906 — Theodore Roscoe. A mere tasting of his pulp stories, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, which are sort of based of a member of the French Foreign Legion, and was published by Donald M. Grant. The complete stories, The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion, are available digitally in four volumes on Kindle. The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh only contains four of these stories. (Died 1992.)
Born February 20, 1912 — Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. The latter was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. (Died 1994.)
Born February 20, 1925 — Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty-five years later Images was a full blown horror film. And, of course, Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.)
Born February 20, 1926 — Richard Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)
Born February 20, 1943 — Diana Paxson, 77. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material.
Born February 20, 1954 — Anthony Head, 66. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Opera as Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth.
Born February 20, 1964 — Rodney Rowland, 56. His best remembered roles to date are 1st Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes in Space: Above and Beyond and P. Wiley in The 6th Day. He’s also Corey Mahoney in Soulkeeper, a Sci Fi Pictures film that frankly sounds horrid. He’s got one-offs in X-Files, Welcome to Paradox, Dark Angel, Seven Days, Angel, Charmed and Twin Peaks.
Born February 20, 1967 — Lili Taylor, 53. Her most recent role was as Captain Sandra Maldonado in the short lived Almost Human series, with her first genre role being in The Haunting off Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.
(11) ARE WE STILL ALLOWED TO LAUGH? Art Spiegelman reviews SCREWBALL!:
The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny by Paul C. Tumey, and a museum
exhibition of Rube Goldberg’s art, in “Foolish
Questions” at the New York Review of Books.
…Now that comics have put on long pants and started to strut around with the grownups by calling themselves graphic novels, it’s important to remember that comics have their roots in subversive joy and nonsense. For the first time in the history of the form, comics are beginning to have a history. Attractively designed collections of Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Thimble Theater, Barnaby, Pogo, Peanuts, and so many more—all with intelligent historical appreciations—are finding their way into libraries.
Paul Tumey, the comics historian who co-edited The Art of Rube Goldberg book seven years ago, has recently put together a fascinating and eccentric addition to the expanding shelves of comics history.3 The future of comics is in the past, and Tumey does a heroic job of casting a fresh light on the hidden corners of that past in Screwball!: The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny. It’s a lavish picture book with over six hundred comics, drawings, and photos, many of which haven’t been seen since their twenty-four-hour life-spans in newspapers around a century ago. The book is a collection of well-researched short biographies of fifteen artists from the first half of the twentieth century, accompanied by generous helpings of their idiosyncratic cartoons. Goldberg—whose name schoolchildren learn when their STEM studies bump into chain reactions—is the perfect front man to beckon you toward the other less celebrated newspaper cartoonists who worked in the screwball vein that Tumey explores.
The Force is strong with Hasbro’s new animatronic Baby Yoda toy.
The actual-sized figure of The Mandalorian‘s The Child comes to life with animatronic motions and sounds taken directly from the hit Disney+ series. Arriving in Fall 2020, this lifelike recreation of The Asset will retail for $59.99 and is intended for ages four and up. He also comes with the Mandalorian’s pendant, as given to him by his mentor Din Djarin.
US customs officers made an unusual discovery when they carried out a spot check on a Canadian mail truck – a human brain inside a jar.
The brain was found at the Blue Water Bridge crossing, between Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, on 14 February, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.
It was inside a shipment labelled “Antique Teaching Specimen”.
The shipment originated in Toronto and was destined for Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Upon opening the shipment, CBP officers found the package to contain a human brain specimen inside of a clear glass mason jar without any paperwork or documentation in support of its lawful entry into the United States,” the agency said in a statement.
In case you missed it, the end is nigh. Ever since Jared Diamond published his hugely popular 2005 work Collapse, books on the same theme have been arriving with the frequency of palace coups in the late Roman Empire. Clearly, their authors are responding to a universal preoccupation with climate change, as well as to growing financial and political instability and a sense that civilization is lurching towards a cliff edge. Mention is also made of how big-data tools are shedding new light on historical questions. But do these books have anything useful to share?
The upside of societal collapse is that while it
may be the end of the world for them, it can help with innovation and renewal,
if not there then elsewhere. Also, even if the end of the world cannot be
prevented, learning from past societal collapses may help us soften the
A SCIENCE REPORTER. Andrew Porter advises “Print it out, put it in your wallet! (Put your own
name over the one that’s there.)” Was this what he used to get in and
cover events for SF Chronicle?
Rita Ebel, 62, has come up with a novel way of helping wheelchair users like herself enjoy their shopping experiences in the western German town of Hanau.
Rita, who has been using a wheelchair since a serious car accident 25 years ago, has been building ramps from Lego and distributing them around town.
(17) SCIENTISTS GRASP THE OBVIOUS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Horror films make you scared. It’s official. Shock, horror, drama, probe!!!! Psychologists in Finland used functional magnetic resonance imaging on 37 subjects watching horror films to see their ‘hemodynamic brain activity’, which is a psychologist’s poncy way of what we biologists call ‘blood flow’. (Why use two words when you can use three longer ones). Different parts of the brain were stimulated when another group was shown non-horror films. Or in the psychologists’ words: “[Their] main finding was that acute fear elicited consistent activity in a distributed set of cortical, limbic, and cerebellar regions, most notably the prefrontal cortex, paracentral lobule, amygdala, cingulate cortex, insula, PAG, parrahippocampus, and thalamus.”
…Here we studied the brain basis of sustained and acute fear using naturalistic functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) enabling analysis of different time-scales of fear responses. Subjects (N ?= ?37) watched feature-length horror movies while their hemodynamic brain activity was measured with fMRI….
…Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony said Wednesday that it will not participate in next week’s PAX East gaming exposition at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, out of concern about the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Sony announced its decision in a post on its PlayStation blog:
“Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment made the decision to cancel its participation at PAX East in Boston this year due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”). We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern.”
In response, PAX East organizers vowed that the show would go on, but with extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are working closely with the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and following local, state, and federal public health guidelines,” the organizers said on the PAX website. “While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020, we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.”
A new deepfake puts Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the pilot episode of the original Star Trek, “The Cage” — and I kind of love it. In this particular AI-powered face swap, Bezos plays a Talosian alien with a huge bald head, while Musk plays Captain Christopher Pike (who is the captain of the USS Enterprise before James T. Kirk).
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Nina Shepardson, Karl-Johan Norén, Bill
Wagner, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Andrew.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy
Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) have announced the finalists for the 55th
Annual Nebula Awards, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic
Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science
Fiction or Fantasy Book. The awards will be presented in Woodland Hills, CA at
the Warner Center Marriott during a ceremony on the evening of May 30.
Marque of Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor)
Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)
“Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga)
Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water, Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com Publishing)
The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga)
Catfish Lullaby, A.C. Wise (Broken Eye)
“A Strange Uncertain Light”, G.V. Anderson (F&SF 7-8/19)
“For He Can Creep”, Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com 7/10/19)
“His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light”, Mimi Mondal (Tor.com 1/23/19)
“The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 7-8/19)
Carpe Glitter, Cat Rambo (Meerkat)
“The Archronology of Love”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed 4/19)
“Give the Family My Love”, A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld 2/19)
“The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power”, Karen Osborne (Uncanny 3-4/19)
“And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons 9/9/19)
“Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, Nibedita Sen (Nightmare 5/19)
“A Catalog of Storms”, Fran Wilde (Uncanny 1-2/19)
“How the Trick Is Done”, A.C. Wise (Uncanny 7-8/19)
The Andre Norton Award for
Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Carlos Hernandez (Disney Hyperion)
Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (Disney Hyperion)
Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions, Henry Lien (Holt)
Cog, Greg van Eekhout (Harper)
Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)
Outer Wilds, Kelsey Beachum (Mobius Digital)
The Outer Worlds, Leonard Boyarsky, Megan Starks, Kate Dollarhyde, Chris L’Etoile (Obsidian Entertainment)
The Magician’s Workshop, Kate Heartfield (Choice of Games)
Disco Elysium, Robert Kurvitz (ZA/UM)
Fate Accessibility Toolkit, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry (Evil Hat Productions)
The Ray Bradbury Award for
Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Avengers: Endgame, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Marvel Studios)
Captain Marvel, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Marvel Studios)
Good Omens: “Hard Times”, Neil Gaiman (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios)
The Mandalorian: “The Child”, Jon Favreau (Disney+)
Russian Doll: “The Way Out”, Allison Silverman and Leslye Headland (Netflix)
Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”, Jeff Jensen & Damon Lindelof (HBO)
The Nebula Awards will be presented during the
annual SFWA Nebula Conference, which will run from May 28-31 at the Warner
Center Marriott Woodland Hills. The Awards Ceremony will be held on the evening
of May 30.
Mass Autographing: On May 31, a mass autograph session will take place, which is free and open to the public.
The Nebula Finalist Assistance Fund exists to help defray the costs of
travel to the Nebula Conference for Nebula Award finalists (including Norton,
Bradbury, and Game Writing finalists) who would otherwise be unable to
attend. Donations may be made at: www.sfwa.org/donate
— choose Nebula Finalist Assistance in
the drop down menu.
He’s been a great friend and companion, helping me through the loss of my wife to cancer and being a “great guy”.
Bo has some issues: he’s had chronic pancreatitis and has been diagnosed with Chron’s disease.
…With the loss of my wife a couple of years ago, my personal financial picture has changed dramatically (loss of one entire income, health care, etc) and, while I’ve kept up with the bills (barely) and gotten some help from the family, I anticipate that expenses for treatment will continue for a while and I simply can not afford them.
At the current time, the outstanding balance on his bill is approximately $1300.00 – and that does not include the bill for emergency vet care when I had to bring him in at 11:30 pm on 2/16/20 [sic]. I expect that we are currently looking at around $2500 all told, and that’s just going to increase with additional office visits, tests and medications.
Bo is an extremely intelligent, vibrant, engaged silky terrier; the image shown here appeared on the cover of the Sunday Concord Monitor (NH) showing his involvement with Amazing Stories magazine.
And Bo is the last remaining connection I have with my wife as we adopted him together and he is in many ways the child of our marriage.
I simply don’t want him to suffer, regardless of what the eventual diagnoses ends up being and I don’t want him to suffer simply because the bills can’t be paid.
(3)HWA INTERVIEW SERIES. Horror Writers of America is celebrating Women in Horror Month by interviewing some of the top women in the horror field in a series called Females of Fright. Here’s what’s online so far —
Based on the novels Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler, this genre-defying work of political theater featuring a powerhouse ensemble of 20 singers, actors and musicians harnesses 200 years of Black music to give musical life to Butler’s acclaimed science fiction novel. Parable of the Sower, set in 2024 and published in 1993, presciently grapples with many of the same issues we face today—global warming, corporate influence over government, a destabilized economy, water scarcity, food scarcity, the privatization of social services, homelessness, public safety, a return of long forgotten diseases and the profit-making machine that runs the medical industry. Written by singer, composer and producer Toshi Reagon in collaboration with her mother, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (song leader, composer, scholar, social activist and founder of Sweet Honey In the Rock), Parable Of The Sower is a mesmerizing theatrical work of rare power and beauty that reveals deep insights into gender, race and the future of human civilization.
My latest lunch on which you get to eavesdrop is with John Edward Lawson, the author of 16 books of fiction and poetry, plus numerous chapbooks. His short stories have been collected in such titles as Pocketful of Loose Razorblades, Discouraging at Best, and most recently Devil Entendre, while his poetry can be found in multiple titles, including The Plague Factory, The Scars Are Complimentary, Bibliophobia, and the Bram Stoker Award finalist The Troublesome Amputee.
He’s the founding editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press, which was given a Specialty Press Award by the Horror Writers Association in 2019. He currently serves as vice president of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction, and also manages the Broadkill Writers Resort, which he founded in 2016.
We met for lunch recently on a rainy day in Washington D.C. at Dolan Uyghur restaurant. It was my first taste of Uyghur cuisine, and I was quite impressed, particularly by the hand pulled noodles in my Laghman.
We discussed the birth of the bizarro horror subgenre (and the surprisingly democratic way in which it was named), the reason Alien both repelled and attracted him, how trying to sell screenplays led to him publishing his first short fiction instead, the story of his which was the most emotionally difficult to write, how he won a poetry award only after giving up on poetry, the unexpected gift he was given when starting his own publishing company, his initial doubts about naming his press Raw Dog Screaming, how he survived the 2008 financial meltdown which sank so many small presses, why he loves watching people bicker, the reason he became known as “the forgotten black man of horror,” and much more.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 15, 1883 — Sax Rohmer. Though doubtless best remembered for his series of novels featuring the arch-fiend Fu Manchu, I’ll also single out The Romance of Sorcery as he based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini who he was friends with. (Died 1959.)
Born February 15, 1907 — Cesar Romero. Joker in the classic Batman TV series and film. I think that Lost Continent as Major Joe Nolan was his first SF film, with Around the World in 80 Days as Abdullah’s henchman being his other one. He had assorted genre series appearances on series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Fantasy Island and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. (Died 1994.)
Born February 15, 1914 — Kevin McCarthy. Best remembered as Dr. Miles Bennell in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He would later have recurring roles in Twilight Zone and is in the Twilight Zone movie as well having a cameo in the Seventies remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Other SF credits include The Howling, Innerspace, Addams Family Reunion and Looney Tunes: Back in Action in which he had a cameo as Dr. Miles Bennell. (Died 2010.)
Born February 15, 1916 — Ian Ballantine. He founded and published the paperback line of Ballantine Books from 1952 to 1974 with his wife, Betty Ballantine. The Ballantines were both inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, with a joint citation. During the Sixties, they published the first authorized paperback edition of Tolkien’s books. (Died 1995.)
Born February 15, 1917 — Meg Wyllie. She was the Talosian “Keeper” in the Trek pilot episode, “The Cage”. She would show up later in Batman as Grandma in the “Black Widow Strikes Again” episode and earlier in her career, she was in Twilight Zone episode “The Night of the Meek” as Sister Florence. She’s Granny Gordon in The Last Starfighter. (Died 2002.)
Born February 15, 1935 — Paul Wenzel, 85. Disney illustrator responsible for such works as the Mary Poppins posters, the Walt Disney commemorative stamp and concept art of The Haunted Mansion. For those of you asking why he’s here, I’ll note that during the Sixties, he did both covers and interiors for Fantastic Stories of Imagination, If ,Galaxy, Space Travel and Worlds of Tomorrow
Born February 15, 1945 — Jack Dann, 75. Dreaming Down-Under which he co-edited with Janeen Webb is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction. It won Ditmar Award and was the first Australian fiction book ever to win the World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. As for his novels, I’m fond of High Steel written with Jack C. Haldeman II, and The Man Who Melted. He’s not that well stocked digitally speaking though Dreaming Down-Under is available on Kindle.
Born February 15, 1948 — Art Spiegelman, 72. Author and illustrator of Maus which if you’ve not read, you really should. He also wrote MetaMaus which goes into great detail how he created that work. And yes, I know he had a long and interesting career in underground comics but I’ll be damn if I can find any that are either genre or genre adjacent.
Born February 15, 1958 – Cat Eldridge, 62, is the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog. Cat, who’s had some severe health problems, likes to remind people, “Technically I died in 2017 and was revived in the same year.”
Born February 15, 1971 — Renee O’Connor, 49. Gabrielle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m reasonably that I watched every damn episode of both series when they aired originally. Quite fun stuff. Her first genre role was first as a waitress in Tales from the Crypt andshe’s had some genre film work such as Monster Ark and Alien Apocalypse. She’s also played Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Macbeth.
(8) PEAK TELEVISION IS HERE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Watching television in the modern era is
like trying to drink from a fire hose: According to Nielsen, there were 646,152
unique programs available to view on television in 2019. This is the first time
that there’s been a full survey done of available content, but they also ran
numbers for the previous few years, and found that 2019 saw 10 per cent more
content available than any previous year. From WIRED: “There Were 646,152 Things to Watch on TV Last Year”
From the report: “We are at the flash point of the “streaming wars,” with an array of new subscription and ad-supported platforms seeking to capitalize on what is a massive global opportunity for consumer attention and value.”
About 50,000 years ago, ancient humans in what is now West Africa apparently procreated with another group of ancient humans that scientists didn’t know existed.
There aren’t any bones or ancient DNA to prove it, but researchers say the evidence is in the genes of modern West Africans. They analyzed genetic material from hundreds of people from Nigeria and Sierra Leone and found signals of what they call “ghost” DNA from an unknown ancestor.
Our own species — Homo sapiens — lived alongside other groups that split off from the same genetic family tree at different times. And there’s plenty of evidence from other parts of the world that early humans had sex with other hominins, like Neanderthals.
That’s why Neanderthal genes are present in humans today, in people of European and Asian descent. Homo sapiens also mated with another group, the Denisovans, and those genes are found in people from Oceania.
The findings on ghost DNA, published in the journal Science Advances, further complicate the picture of how Homo sapiens — or modern humans — evolved away from other human relatives. “It’s almost certainly the case that the story is incredibly complex and complicated and we have kind of these initial hints about the complexity,” says Sriram Sankararaman, a computational biologist at UCLA.
Going into space is a dream shared by children and adults around the world.
Although humans have not stepped foot on the Moon in almost half a century, Nasa hopes to change this. It plans to land the first woman – and the next man – on the lunar surface by 2024.
And now the US space agency is looking for candidates to take part in its future missions.
So with applications opening from 2 to 31 March, what does it take to become an astronaut?
Since the 1960s, Nasa has selected 350 candidates to train as astronauts, with 48 currently in the active astronaut corps.
But as it is a US federal agency, the first requirement to join Nasa is American citizenship, although dual nationals are also eligible to apply.
This rule has not put everyone off: late British astronaut Piers Sellers left the UK and became a US citizen as part of his dream to become an astronaut, and later flew on three space shuttle missions.
Israeli defense technology company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd recently released a demo of their special “Drone Dome” counter-drone defense system. A car-mounted anti-drone solution that can fry unwelcome drones from miles away using a high-powered laser beam.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
SFWA members and other individuals who are interested in the field of science fiction and fantasy are welcome to attend SFWA’s Nebula Conference. Attendees may participate in workshops, programming and special events throughout the weekend.
You do not need to be a member of SFWA to attend. We encourage anyone with a connection to the field to join us.
And SFWA members can now cast nominating ballots for the Nebulas.
It’s that time of year again! Editors, publishers, and authors’ minds turn toward Year’s Best list, and awards. Which also means it’s time for said authors, editors, and publishers to get out there and self-promote. It can feel icky or uncomfortable, but it’s a valuable service to those who nominate for awards, and those who just want to catch up reading what they might have missed during the year. So step forward, take a deep breath, and shout about what you wrote this year. While you’re at it, shout about the things you loved too! No one can read everything that comes out in a given year, but together we can help each other find excellent things to read, and perhaps even nominate.
(3) WORDS & MUSIC. The lyric video of Taylor Swift
singing “Beautiful Ghosts” from the motion picture Cats is online.
(4) UPON REFLECTION. Some who commented about a new YA
Twitter donnybrook linked in yesterday’s
Scroll (item #16) have adopted a new perspective, including N.K. Jemisin
whose thread starts here.
(5) RAPID CONTRACTION. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Blog reportedly has severed ties with all its freelancers:
I was one of Mike Ford’s friends and editors, and I want to go on record with this: Martha Fry was extremely helpful when we wanted to keep his Liavek stories in print. The breakdown in communication between his original family, his fannish family, and his agent has many reasons, but there are no villains in that story. There are only gossips who love drama, as there are in any community. If anyone claims his first family tried to make his work unavailable, I will point to the Liavek anthologies as evidence that’s not true.
(7) KSR STUDY. The University of Illinois Press has
Stanley Robinson by Robert Markley, the Trowbridge Professor of English
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Award-winning epics like the Mars trilogy and groundbreaking alternative histories like The Days of Rice and Salt have brought Kim Stanley Robinson to the forefront of contemporary science fiction. Mixing subject matter from a dizzying number of fields with his own complex ecological and philosophical concerns, Robinson explores how humanity might pursue utopian social action as a strategy for its own survival.
Robert Markley examines the works of an author engaged with the fundamental question of how we—as individuals, as a civilization, and as a species—might go forward. By building stories on huge time scales, Robinson lays out the scientific and human processes that fuel humanity’s struggle toward a more just and environmentally stable world or system of worlds. His works invite readers to contemplate how to achieve, and live in, these numerous possible futures. They also challenge us to see that SF’s literary, cultural, and philosophical significance have made it the preeminent literary genre for examining where we stand today in human and planetary history.
At the bottom of the description for Disney’s 1940 classic animation Fantasia on the studio’s newly minted Disney+ service, there is a line that is garnering attention from viewers: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
The disclaimer can be found in the streaming platform’s synopsis of many of Disney’s classic animated titles, including 1941’s Dumbo, 1967’s The Jungle Book, 1953’s Peter Pan and 1955’s Lady and the Tramp, as well as other offerings like 1960’s Swiss Family Robinson and 1955’s Davy Crockett.
Disney+ features the studio’s massive library that dates back over eight decades, and the verbiage serves as a caution against some racist and culturally insensitive depictions and references in Disney’s older offerings.
While Lady and the Tramp features Siamese cats depicted as East Asian stereotypes and Peter Pan includes a song titled “What Makes the Red Man Red?,” it is unclear what the criterion is for Disney titles to receive the “outdated cultural depictions” disclaimer. Aladdin, which has been critiqued for its racist depictions of Middle Eastern and Arab culture, does not feature the disclaimer in its synopsis.
Disney has not returned The Hollywood Reporter‘s request for comment.
One feature entirely absent from the streaming platform is the 1946 live-action animation hybrid Song of the South. The movie, which inspired the Disneyland ride Splash Mountain, has been widely criticized for its portrayal of African-Americans and apparent glorification of plantation life. It has been the studio’s policy to keep the film from theatrical and home entertainment rerelease.
Disney did not respond to multiple requests for comment as to why the episode is missing and who made the call.
It is assumed “Stark Raving Dad” is off Disney+ because Michael Jackson (not officially credited) was the guest star. Jackson voiced Leon Kompowsky, a man Homer meets while in a mental institution who sounds like Jackson. The episode was a favorite among fans for several years.
In March of this year, “Stark Raving Dad” was pulled from broadcast circulation following the release of the HBO documentary film Leaving Neverland, in which the late pop star was accused by multiple men of molestation when they were boys.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 16, 1977 — Close Encounters of the Third Kind premiered. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon and François Truffaut, the film is both a financial and critical success. It currently has a hundred percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 16, 1907 — Burgess Meredith. Brief though his visit to genre be, he had two significant roles. The first was in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Narrator although initially he was uncredited. One of his other genre role was a delightful take as The Penguin in original Batman series. He also shows up in Tales of Tomorrow, an anthology sf series that was performed and broadcast live on ABC from 1951 to 1953, and on The Invaders, The Twilight Zone, Faerie Tale Theatre: Thumbelina (with Carrie Fisher!) and The Wild Wild West. Did I mention he voiced Puff the Magic Dragon in a series of the same name? Well he did. Ok, so his visit to genre wasn’t so brief after all… (Died 1997.)
Born November 16, 1952 — Shigeru Miyamoto, 67. Video game designer and producer at Nintendo. He is the creator of some of the best-selling game franchises of the company, such as Mario, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda.
Born November 16, 1952 — Robin McKinley, 67. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are Sunshine, Chalice and Dragonhaven. Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015, they lived together in Hampshire,UK. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spiritsand Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed!
Born November 16, 1958 — Marg Helgenberger, 61. She was Hera in Wonder Woman, and also appeared in Conan: Red Nail, Species and Species II, not to mention Tales from the Crypt. Oh, and two Stephen King series as well, The Tommyknockers and Under the Dome.
Born November 16, 1967 — Lisa Bonet, 52. First genre work was isEpiphany Proudfoot in Angel Heart, a decidedly strange horror film. More germane was that she was Heather Lelache in the 2002 A&E adaptation of Le Guin’s Lathe of Heaven. She later played Maya Daniels in the Life on Mars series as well.
Born November 16, 1967 — Eva Pope, 52. Genre is a slippery thing to define. She was a one-off in Adventure Inc. (might be genre) as well the Splinter film (horror with SF pretensions), Life on Mars (SF maybe) and Spooks: Code 9 (alternate UK history). Is she genre?
Born November 16, 1972 — Missi Pyle, 47. Laliari in Galaxy Quest which is one of my fave SF films of all time. Also has been in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, A Haunted House 2, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Roswell, The Tick, Pushing Daisies and Z Nation.
Born November 16, 1977 — Gigi Edgley, 42. Though her genre experiences are varied, I think she’ll be best remembered for her role as a Nebari who was a member of the crew on Moya on the Farscape series. Other genre appearances include Beastmaster, The Lost World, Quantum Apocalypse and she has a role in the web series Star Trek Continues in the “Come Not Between the Dragons” episode.
Born November 16, 1977 — Maggie Gyllenhaal, 42. She’s had some impressive genre appearances in such works as Donnie Darko, The Dark Knight, voice work in the superb Monster House and the equally superb Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.
(11) ELLISON REMEMBERED. Fanac.org has uploaded an
audio recording of the Worldcon 76 (2018) “In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison” panel.
Worldcon 76 was held in San Jose, CA in 2018. This Memoriam panel (audio, with pictures) features memories and anecdotes from Tom Whitmore, Robert Silverberg (who was a friend of Harlan’s for 65 years), Chris Barkley, David Gerrold, Christine Valada and Nat Segaloff (Harlan’s biographer). Each of the panelists had a close relationship with Harlan, and these loving but clear-eyed reminiscences are a comfort to those that miss him, and hopefully to those readers who never had a chance to meet him. Harlan was an enormous presence in science fiction. His stories, his scripts, his kindnesses and his sometimes unbelievable missteps will be long remembered. Recording provided by Karen G. Anderson and Richard Lynch.
9. Lewis’s first book was a collection of poetry he wrote as a teenager. Before he planned to be a philosopher, the teenage Lewis hoped to become a great poet. He wrote poetry with the hope of publishing his work and gaining fame. He returned to England after being injured in France during World War I and published his collection as Spirits in Bondage under the pen name of Clive Hamilton.
The No. 1 New York Times best-selling author best known for his blockbuster thrillers has signed a major seven-figure deal with Tor Books for Moon Fall, a fantasy series that’s been eight years in the making.
Moon Fall opens a riven world trapped between fire and ice, merging his fascination with the natural world, his love of adventure, and his knowledge of the wonders found at the evolutionary fringes of scientific exploration. It centers on a young girl who foretells a new apocalypse approaching, one that will end all life for all time. Her reward is a charge of grave heresy, punishable by death. As she flees, she gathers an unlikely alliance of outcasts to join her cause to save their world. The journey will take them into lands both burning bright and eternally frozen, to face creatures unimaginable and enemies beyond reason. All the while, hostile forces will hunt them. Armies will wage war around them.
The movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, has surpassed $1 billion in gross sales at box offices world wide, Entertainment Weeklyreports. The milestone makes the blockbuster the first R-rated movie to hit the $1 billion mark, according to the outlet.
It also means that the movie, which tells the tale of the rise of Batman’s arch-nemesis, has now officially beat out Deadpool as the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time. The Ryan Reynolds-stared film made $783 million.
(16) WELL-KNOWN BRAND. Martin Morse Wooster assures us, “I normally wouldn’t write about Tanya
Edwards’s Yahoo! Lifetstyle story ’10
Gifts That Will Impress The Ultimate Star Wars fan’ because it is an Ebay infomercial. BUT the Darth
Vader Helmet 2-Slice Toaster is definitely worth a photo!”
(17) PREPARE FOR TAKEOFF. Starlux Airlines is an actual company that begins
operations in Taiwan in 2020, with all new Airbus planes. They just launched
their safety video:
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ,
Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, mlex, and Mike Kennedy for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
Dozens of writers have put their names to a letter to the Guardian that urges UK voters taking part in Thursday’s European parliament elections to use their franchise to support the European Union, “unless they know what they are choosing to lose, for themselves and everyone they know, and are happy with that”.
The authors, who also include Neil Gaiman, Nikesh Shukla, Kate Williams and Laurie Penny, go on to say: “It seems to us that the same question is facing every industry and every person in the UK: what will you choose to lose? Because we used to hear about advantages in Brexit. We used to hear about the bright future, the extra money, the opportunities. Now the advocates of Brexit just assure us that it won’t be as bad as the last world war.”
We met at the Freer Gallery, and then wandered over for lunch at the Capitol Hill branch of Hank’s Oyster Bar, which opened in 2012.
I first met Kaaron slightly less than 10 years ago, at the 2009 Montreal Worldcon, where her novel Slights was one of the inaugural titles from Angry Robot Books. The publisher even had a robot rolling around the launch party! (It was not angry, however.) She’s published many more novels and stories since then, with one novel, The Grief Hole, winning all three of Australia’s genre awards — the Aurealis Award, the Ditmar Award, and the Australian Shadows Award. Her most recent novel is Tide of Stone. She’s published seven short story collections, the most recent being A Primer to Kaaron Warren.
We discussed how her recent Rebecca reread totally changed her sympathies for its characters, the disturbing real-life crime related to the first time she ever saw The Shining, the catalyst that gave birth to her award-winning novel Tide of Stone, how she came up with new angles for tackling stories about such classic characters as Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein, the way flea market bric-a-brac has led to some of her best ideas, the only correct method for preparing fairy bread, her go-to karaoke song, and much, much more.
…The first trailer for the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie definitely got people talking…just probably not the way the studio intended. Reaction to Sonic’s design—his muscular legs, his regularly-proportioned head, his teeth—was swift, loud, and overwhelmingly negative. The filmmakers heard the cries of the masses, and they responded with action, as director Jeff Fowler tweeted a few days after the trailer’s release that they would be working to tweak the design of the character…
(4) DRAGON RECOMMENDATIONS. Red Panda has created a “Dragon
Awards 2019 Eligible Work” based on Renay’s Hugo recommendation’s
spreadsheet. She says, “We’re trying to
get folks to pay attention to the Dragon Awards to prevent them from becoming
puppy awards by default. Here is a spreadsheet of eligible works – and people
are welcome to add to it as long as works fit the Dragon award rules.”
Now I don’t have a problem with either the 20Booksto50K group or their system. I don’t doubt that the group or their conferences help a lot of indie writers. And while their approach to writing and publishing isn’t mine, there are a nuggets of useful information in there.
Alas, the rest of the Martelle’s post engages in same tired “indie versus traditional publishing” rheotric that we’ve been hearing since 2010. “Traditional publishing is slow” – yes, it is, because their model is different, but that doesn’t make it bad. “Awards don’t matter, but whether stories resonate with readers does” – okay, so why are you so desperate to win an award then?
In February we ditched our pre-release “Want to See” percentage in favor of a more straightforward Want to See tally (kind of like the “likes” you see on social media). We also removed the function that allowed users to write comments about a movie prior to seeing it. You can read about these changes here.
What’s next? Today, we’re excited to introduce new features to our Audience Score and user reviews with the addition of Verified Ratings and Reviews.
So, let’s get to it.
Rotten Tomatoes now features an Audience Score made up of ratings from users we’ve confirmed bought tickets to the movie – we’re calling them “Verified Ratings.” We’re also tagging written reviews from users we can confirm purchased tickets to a movie as “Verified” reviews.
… The first Audience Score you see on a movie page – that’s it next to the popcorn bucket just to the right of the Tomatometer – will be the score made up of Verified Ratings. As with the current Audience Score, when the score is Fresh (that is, above 60%), you’ll see a red popcorn bucket; when it is Rotten (59% and below), the bucket will be green and tipped over (you can read more about that here). If you want to see a score that incorporates all included ratings – both verified and non-verified – simply click “more info” where you can toggle between the two….
…All this is a reminder that genre tales now dominate the entertainment landscape. The people behind all these platforms are fighting to attract the attention of us, the SF, fantasy and horror fandom.
But they are also fighting for our wallets. And while is is technically possible for one household to receive all these services, it is unlikely that very many households could afford to.
Once, producers essentially had two ways of monetising their entertainment. They could charge for it – for movie tickets, videotapes or discs; or they could give it to us via free-to-air television and sell our eyeballs to advertisers.
Now, we have a new eco-system where the producers are charging us, not for individual works, but for whole bundles of content. So we can get the Netflix package, the HBO package or the Hulu package, but not everything….
What is this in contrast to? Sure, things are different than when
all TV was free, however, not so different from periods when there were five or
eight or ten printed prozines coming out that you could only get by
subscription, unless you were lucky enough that your local library subscribed
to some (never all) of them.
KERR OBIT. British
children’s book writer and illustrator Judith Kerr died May 22 aged 95. Cora Buhlert
In spite of the title, her most famous work (at least in Germany) When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit is not genre, but about the Kerr family’s escape from the Nazis in the 1930s. The pink rabbit of the title was young Judith Kerr’s beloved toy, which she lost en route. But a lot of her children’s picture books are at least genre-adjacent and several feature SJW credentials. Besides, she was married to Nigel Kneale, British TV writer and creator of Professor Quatermass:
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 24, 1925 — Carmine Infantino. Comics artist and editor, mostly for DC Comics, during the late 1950s know as the Silver Age of Comics. He created the Silver Age version of the Flash (with writer Robert Kanigher) and the Elongated Man (with John Broome). He also introduced Barbara Gordon as a new version of Batgirl. Infantino wrote or contributed to two books about his life and career: The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino and Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur. (Died 2013.)
Born May 24, 1945 — Graham Williams. Producer and script editor. He produced three seasons of Doctor Who during the era of the Fourth Doctor. He went to be one of the producers of Rould Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 1990.)
Born May 24, 1946 — Jeremy Treglown, 63. Author of Roald Dahl: A Biography and Roald Dahl: Collected Stories. Amateur actor who met his first wife while both were performing Romeo and Juliet at University.
Born May 24, 1949 — Jim Broadbent, 70. He played Horace Slughorn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. He joined the cast of A Game of Thrones, playing a role of Archmaester Ebrose, in the seventh season. His genre credits include Time Bandits, Brazil, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, The Borrowers, The Avengers, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (well somebody had to be in it).
Born May 24, 1952 — Sybil Danning, 67. Her rise to fame began with her role in Roger Corman’s space opera cult classic, Battle Beyond the Stars. She went on to star in Hercules, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (which bears the charming alternative title of Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch), a faux trailer directed by Rob Zombie titled Werewolf Women of the SS for Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse (I couldn’t make this stuff up!), the Halloween remake and finally she as in a horror film called Virus X. Series, She appeared in recurring roles of the The Lair as a vampire out for revenge.
Born May 24, 1953 — Alfred Molina, 66. His film debut was on Raiders of The Lost Ark as Satipo. He was an amazing Doctor Octopus on Spider-Man 2, and he also provided the voice of the villain Ares on the outstanding 2009 animated Wonder Woman. Oh and he was a most excellent Hercule Poirot on Murder on the Orient Express. I know, not genre, but one of my favorite films no matter who’s playing the character.
Born May 24, 1960 — Doug Jones, 59. Among his roles, I’ll single out as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy films, the Faun and the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, the ghosts of Edith’s Mother and Beatrice Sharpe in Crimson Peak, and the Amphibian Manin The Shape of Water.
Born May 24, 1965 — Michael Chabon, 54. Author of one of the great baseball novels ever, Summerland. Then there’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay which is the best look I know of at the comics industry during the Golden Age. And The Final Solution: A Story of Detection may be an awesome home to the Greatest Beekeeper Ever.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Wondermark takes fan disappointment about Game of Throne’s final season in a hilarious new direction.
(11) REVISITING THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR. The highlights from February’s two-day conference on The Art of the Mimeograph at the University of Westminster include an appearance by fanhistorian Rob Hansen beginning around the 8:54 mark.
(12) OVERFLOWING LID. Alasdair
Stuart says his Full Lid for May 24 2019 “takes a look at DJ Kirkbride
and team’s excellent SF/crime/comedy comic series Errand Boys. I’ve also got a breakdown of the 2014 Godzilla in the first of two briefings
in the run up to Godzilla: King of the
Monsters. There’s a look at the excellent documentary Knock Down The House and the one thing about its structure that
bothered me. Finally, special guest Sarah Gailey drops by to do the Hugo
Spotlight feature, which, this week, features me.”
…The creative team behind Errand Boys is a who’s who of people whose work I pick up, sight unseen. DJ Kirkbride and Adam P Knave are two of the best writers and editors in the business and Frank Cvetkovic is one of the best letterers. They’re joined by a raft of artists whose work is unfamiliar to me but is all massively impressive, kinetic and fun.
I am pretty sure this is the first time someone has been a finalist both in a fiction category and in an art category (Antoine de Saint-Exupery). It is also the first time a father and son appeared on the same ballot–well, sort of. Fritz Leiber, Jr., is a finalist for three works of fiction; Fritz Leiber, Sr., (the actor) appeared as Franz Liszt in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943), a Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) finalist.
As Disney plunders its archives for live-action remakes of animated classics, the question of “Why?” continues to be less evident on the screen than it is on the company ledger. The one quiet exception was Pete’s Dragon, which succeeded because it had no fidelity to the second-rate slapstick and songcraft of the original, and could re-imagine the premise from the ground up. When the catalog titles get as massive as Aladdin, however, the mission becomes to replicate it as closely as possible, which inevitably leads to stilted facsimile. No matter how sophisticated CGI gets, the speed and fluidity of animation is hard to reproduce.
The new Aladdin mostly has the beat-for-beat quality of the live-action Beauty and the Beast, the current standard-bearer for pointlessness, but there are elements of it that really pop, even for being bizarre missteps. Foremost among them is Will Smith’s Genie, whose entire look is a Violet Beauregarde nightmare of bright blue and CGI-inflated swole, with a top-knot/goatee combination that suggests 10,000 years away from the fashion pages. Yet Smith is the only member of the cast who’s bothered to rethink the original character: He doesn’t bother to imitate Robin Williams’ manic schtick, but draws on his own ingratiating silliness and kid-friendly hip-hop flavor instead. If everyone else had followed suit, this Aladdin wouldn’t necessarily be any better, but at least it would be its own thing….
Facebook says it removed 3.39 billion fake accounts from October to March. That’s twice the number of fraudulent accounts deleted in the previous six-month period.
In the company’s latest Community Standards Enforcement Report, released Thursday, Facebook said nearly all of the fake accounts were caught by artificial intelligence and more human monitoring. They also attributed the skyrocketing number to “automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time.”
The fake accounts are roughly a billion more than the 2.4 billion actual people on Facebook worldwide, according to the company’s own count.
Love your beloved classics now—because even now, few people read them, for the most part, and fewer still love them. In a century, they’ll probably be forgotten by all but a few eccentrics.
If it makes you feel any better, all fiction, even the books people love and rush to buy in droves, is subject to entropy. Consider, for example, the bestselling fiction novels of the week I was born, which was not so long ago. I’ve bolded the ones my local library currently has in stock.
Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, JJ,. Mike Kennedy Cat Eldridge,
Standback, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Hansen, Carl Slaughter,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770
contributing editor Peer.]
Die Kasseler Liste is a growing database that presently comprises 125,000 data sets. It documents the global scale of censorship. Book bans persist across the world, on all continents, with varying reach and intensity, depending on political and social contexts.
Die Kasseler Liste covers vast territories and a large time frame. The earliest entries are taken from the „Index Librorum Prohibitorum,” which the catholic church first published in 1559 and which is represented in the database in its final version from 1948. It is but one example for censorship originating not only from government institutions. Civil and religious institutions similarly have their own history of systematically infringing on the right to freedom of expression. The Catholic lay organization Opus Dei, also featured in Die Kasseler Liste, is another case in point, where rigid and coercive reading directions provide the members with a tiered index. On the other hand, school districts and school libraries in the United States of America also have a record of systematically banning books from their collections.
…But even taking the known problems with the Retro Hugos into consideration, the breadth and variety of stories on the 1944 Retro Hugo ballot is astounding (pun fully intended), as is the fact that quite a few of them don’t really fit into the prevailing image image of what Golden Age science fiction was like. And this doesn’t just apply to left-field finalists such as Das Glasperlenspiel by Hermann Hesse in the novel category or Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Magic Bed-Knob by Mary Norton in the novella category, neither of whom I would have expected to make the Hugo ballot in 1944, if only because US science fiction fans wouldn’t have been familiar with them. No, there also is a lot of variety in the stories which originated in US science fiction magazines.
So let’s take a look at the novelette category at the 1944 Retro Hugos….
…The message of The Phantom Menace is that even the most stable of societies can topple with the smallest push — in this case a minor trade dispute that sets the stage for the rise of a previously obscure senator with imperial ambitions. As he did with A New Hope, Lucas cloaked that larger lesson in a PG-rated adventure that’s made with children in mind … but not the children who saw Star Wars in theaters in the ’70s. And so — unhappy with a Star Wars movie that wasn’t the Star Wars they remembered — a sizable segment of the fanbase made their displeasure known, embracing an image of themselves as the keepers of the flame, which meant that their opinion of Star Wars was the only correct opinion of Star Wars.
They found an outlet on the still-young medium the internet, where like-minded critics could congregate and launch their arguments or personal attacks anonymously out on the franchise’s creator and other fans as the prequel series continued…
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
One of these movies did not feature Jar Jar Binks. I hope it isn’t too toxic of me to point that out.
May 19, 1966 — The Navy Vs. The Night Monsters premiered in theaters.
May 19, 1999 — Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released theatrically.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 19, 1944 — Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens, before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight. (Died 2019.)
Born May 19, 1946 — Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of all-time favourite films. Also an uncredited role as Dagoth In Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero and The Six Million Dollar Man. (Died 1993.)
Born May 19, 1948 — Grace Jones, 71. First genre appearance was as Stryx in Rumstryx, an Italian TV series. Her next was Zulu in Conan the Destroyer followed by being May Day in A View to Kill and Katrina in Vamp. She was Masako Yokohama in Cyber Bandits which also starred Adam Ant. Her last genre role to date was Christoph/Christine in Wolf Girl.
Born May 19, 1948 — Paul Steven Williams. Editor, Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon and the PKDS Newsletter. Writer, The Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick of Philip K. Dick and Theodore Sturgeon, Storyteller. (Died 2013.)
Born May 19, 1966 — Polly Walker, 53. She’s performed on Caprica as Clarice Willow and on Warehouse 13 in the recurring role of Charlotte Dupres, as well as performing the voice work for Sarkoja in John Carter. And she was in Clash of the Titans as Cassiopeia.
Born May 19, 1966 — Jodi Picoult, 53. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder).
…The robot vanguard has already set forth. Later this year India will attempt to become the fourth nation to land a probe on the moon; an Israeli attempt to get there failed in April, but its backers plan to try again. China has landed two robot rovers on the moon’s surface in the past five years. One visited the near side, the familiar pockmarked face seen from Earth; the other went to the overflown-but-never-before-visited far side. The Chinese space agency has talked of sending humans in their wake, perhaps in the early 2030s.
They may be beaten to it. Last year Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese fashion entrepreneur and art collector, signed a contract with SpaceX, the rocket firm founded by Elon Musk, for a flight around the moon. He intends to take a crew of as-yet-unspecified artists with him…
…That setup is the start to a stunning story that impressively blends together Martine’s fantastic and immersive world, a combination political thriller, cyberpunk yarn, and epic space opera that together make up a gripping read. Mahit’s situation is the perfect introduction to an unfamiliar world, as Martine moves her through the gilded halls of the Teixcalaanli capitol, meeting the politicians she’s been sent to interact with, the fantastical technologies installed in the city, and the poetry that represents the pinnacle of high culture for the empire.
Bending and stretching its conventions to imagine new, more feminist futures and new ways of experiencing gender, visionary women writers have been from the beginning an essential if often overlooked force in American science fiction. Two hundred years after Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, SF-expert Lisa Yaszek presents the best of this female tradition, from the pioneers of the Pulp Era to the radical innovators of the 1960s New Wave, in a landmark anthology that upends the common notion that SF was conceived by and for men….
Visit the companion website for more on these stories and writers, including author biographies, appreciations by contemporary writers, original pulp covers and illustrations, adaptations into other media, press coverage, and more.
(11) WHEN IN CRETE. Israeli author Yakov Merkin is not impressed. I recognize his name as someone JDA interviewed for his YouTube show.
(12) CRUMB CONTROVERSY, In “Cancel Culture Comes for Counterculture Comics” in Reason, Brian Doherty looks at pioneering underground comics artist R. Crumb and the vigorous debate about whether he should still be read or is so irretreivably racist and sexist that he should be “cancelled.”
…The brief against Crumb is both specific to his famous idiosyncrasies and generally familiar to our modern culture of outrage archeology. His art has trafficked in crude racial and anti-Semitic stereotypes, expressed an open sense of misogyny, and included depictions of incest and rape. Crumb’s comics are “seriously problematic because of the pain and harm caused by perpetuating images of racial stereotypes and sexual violence,” the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) explained last year when removing Crumb’s name from one of its exhibit rooms.
Such talk alarms Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics, the premiere American publisher of quality adult comics, including a 17-volume series of The Complete Crumb Comics. “The spontaneity and vehemence” of the backlash, Groth says, “surprised me—and I guess what also disheartened me was, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people booing Crumb are not familiar with his work.…This visceral dislike of him has no basis in understanding who Crumb is, his place in comics history, his contribution to the form.”
(14) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Walter Lantz, Woody Woodpecker’s creator, did the opening sequence animation along with the animation of Bella Lugosi’s Dracula turning into a bat for Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Carl Slaughter, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]