reCONvene: NESFA Will Hold One-Day Online Convention 8/15

The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA®) will host its first online convention, reCONvene, on Saturday, August 15, 2020 from 11:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

“Having speakers participate online removes many of the barriers of participation, opening up the possibilities of who’ve been able to invite,” says Convention Chair, Erin Underwood. “It also allows us to try new things you wouldn’t be able to do at an in-person convention, like tour an artist’s studio.”

The one-day convention will offer science talks, science fiction and fantasy panels, gaming, and author chats led by renowned authors, artists, fans, educators, and scientists. The full schedule is here.  Over 50 speakers will participate in the online program, including —

It is a volunteer-run event. Memberships are $10 and help to cover the basic costs of the event. Any additional funds received will go toward future program costs for reCONvene and Boskone such as American Sign Language services, the New Voices Program, and memberships for those in need. Membership registration is available at www.reconvenesff.com

NESFA, with nearly 400 members from all over the world, is one of the oldest science fiction clubs in the northeastern U.S., and is a registered Massachusetts non-profit literary organization. The club also hosts New England’s longest-running science fiction convention, Boskone, annually in February.

[Based on a press release.]

Agner Wins NESFA 2019-2020 Short Story Contest

The results of the 2019-2020 NESFA® Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest were announced at Boskone 57 on February 16, 2020.

The contest “encourages amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.”

Steve Lee says, “We got submissions from all around the world, including one in Russian (which we sent back for an English translation).”

Winner:

  • “Stick in the Mud” by Mary Alexandra Agner

First Runner-Up:

  • “Hope Chest” by Sarah Day

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Author of the Dreams of an Outer God” by Jonathan Bronico
  • “Deathtree” by Kit Harding
  • “The Gravity of Grace” by Carina Bissett

First readers: James Boggie, Ann Crimmins, David G. Grubbs, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kerpan, Suford Lewis, and Kelsey Pouk.

Final round judges: Elaine Isaak, Tony Lewis, and Kim Stanley Robinson

Boskone 2020 Report

Kim Stanley Robinson

By Daniel Dern. Boskone 57, Feb 14-16, 2020.

The temperature ranged from chilly (it is winter) to downright frosty (12? Saturday morning, maybe up to 20? by 9:45AM when we walked the overpass from our hotel to the con), but on the other hand, no snow, rain, or weather public-transit shutdowns (all of which have happened to Boston-in-winter cons).

Boskone 57’s Featured Guests were:

  • GUEST OF HONOR: Kim Stanley Robinson
  • YOUNG ADULT FICTION GUEST: Holly Black
  • OFFICIAL ARTIST: Eric Wilkerson
  • MUSICAL GUEST: Cheshire Moon
  • HAL CLEMENT SCIENCE SPEAKER: Jon Singer
  • NESFA PRESS GUEST: Jim Burns

The 150+ program participants also included a mix of established and new writers, artists, editors and agents, along with well-known fans, e.g. (citing mostly people I know/names I recognize), Ellen Asher, Joshua Bilmes, Holly Black, Ginger Buchanan, Jeff Carver, John Chu, C.S.E. Cooney, Andrea Martinez Corbin, Josh Dahi, Julie C. Day, Bob Devney, Paul Di Filippo, Vincent Docherty, Debra Doyle, Tom Easton, Bob Eggleston, Esther Friesner, Craig Shaw Gardner, Greer Gilman, Max Gladstone, Anabel Graetz, Charlaine Harris, Grady Hendrix, Carlos Hernandez, Sarah Jean Horwitz, Jim Infantino, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Dan Kimmel, Mur Lafferty, Kelly Link, James D. Macdonald, Darlene Marshall, Beth Meacham, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Julie C. Rios, Cameron Roberson, Erin Roberts, Joseph Siclari, Allen M. Steele, Michael Swanwick, Christine Taylor-Butler, Erin Underwood, Martha Wells, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Brianna Wu, Frank Wu.

(Some that, sadly, were listed but had to cancel included Bruce Coville, Steve Davidson, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Suzanne Palmer, Adi Rule, and Jane Yolen.)

While there was no File770 meet-up (that I was aware of), I spotted/chatted briefly with a few Filers (hardly surprisingly, of course).

FYI, NESFA Press had brand-new books available at Boskone 57:

I’ve just done purchase requests to my local library for these. Take that, Mount To-Be-Read!

A SATISFYING PROGRAM. This year’s program has lots of good stuff — for several time slots I saw three or even four that I wanted to go to. I could easily have spent the entire con doing nothing but program items, with brief breaks for food, schmoozing, and strolling the Dealer’s Area and the Art Show, of course).

In “Great Novels That Don’t Work”, Grady Hendrix, Allen M. Steele, Bracken MacLeod, Michael Swanwick and Brianna Wu talked about the problems of various sf works, from plot to “one unforgivable step.” I missed the first few minutes of this session, I’d love to hear/watch a recording of the whole thing.

Panel – Great Novels That Don’t Work: Bracken MacLeod, Brianna Wu, Allen M. Steele, Grady Hendrix, Michael Swanwick

“Business of Being a Writer” tracks are a staple at many cons, instructively essential for beginners, and often entertaining for all. (Particularly the “horror stories/don’t do’s.”) In “Editing from Agent, to Editor, to Publisher”, Melanie Meadors, Joshua Bilmes, Beth Meacham, John Kessel and James D. Macdonald examined the “manuscript’s journey” of read/rewrite/edit/revise from author through beta readers, copy editors, proof readers and other stations.

Panel – Editing from Agent, to Editor, to Publisher: Melanie Meadors, John Kessel, James D. Macdonald, Beth Meacham, Joshua Bilmes

I went to several readings, including Daniel Kimmel, reading a not-yet-published time travel story involving a character from his second sf novel (which you don’t have to have read to enjoy the story), Max Gladstone, and James Patrick Kelly, plus kaffeeklatsches with Esther Friesner and with Tor editor Beth Meacham.

TRIVIA PURSUIT! One of my favorite items at Boskones is the Trivia For Chocolate game show run by Mark and Priscilla Olson and Jim Mann, where us audience members strive to be the first (or loudest) to yell out enough of the right answers to sf trivia questions, with, per the name of the game, points being awarded using those thin rectangular green-wrapped chocolate Thin Mints (and only uneaten ones are count for your final tally).

For example, in “First Lines” — “The baloney weighed the raven down.” (“N Svar Naq Cevingr Cynpr, Crgre F Orntyr” — as I was yelling out the answer mid, ahem, weigh.)

I usually place in the enumerated winners short list (see my Boskone 56 report.

This isn’t the kind of content you can cram for, and I’m not sure you could even study for it — certainly not time-effectively. The only way is to have consumed sf&f voluminously — and remembering the relevant details.

The not-so-secrets to doing well in TRIVIA FOR CHOCOLATE include location (front or second row), luck, low memory-to-mouth latency, chutzpah and having consumed sf (including f, and h) omnivorously for years-to-decades.

This year, to my happy surprise, I came in first, by a 14-point spread against tied-for-seconds Karen von Haam (who, I’m pretty sure, was the person on my right snagging answers right and left for the open several minutes), and the always-impressively-knowledgeable-about-really-obscure-stuff Bob Devney.

(I donated all but two of my winnings to the Narnia Coat Check Closet. ’nuff et!)

Panel – Illustrating Children’s Books: Christopher Paniccia, Ruth Sanderson, Ingrid Kallick, Cat Scully

MY SESSIONS. I was on four items this year.

“Journalism in Speculative Fiction”, along with Clea Simon, Darlene Marshall, and Dan Moren. Here’s the session description:

From Wells and Orwell to Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, and Annalee Newitz, there’s a long tradition of reporters becoming writers of SF/F/H. Our veteran newshounds report on what a background in journalism can bring to genre work. Are you already accustomed to research, deadlines, and low wages? Does the drive to get the facts mean it’s harder to make stuff up? Can reporters be written as good genre characters? While pounding out a hot story, must you wear a fedora?

This could easily have filled a day-long symposium. Heck, I could (preferably with at least 20 minutes advance notice to web-refresh my brain) have done an hour just on Mark Twain. (“Connecticut Yankee,” “Captain Stormfield…” “The Mysterious Stranger,” etc.) Lots of great stuff was said, by all panelists — let’s do this one again!

I also did a reading, a workshop on learning magic tricks and becoming a magician (my handout including reading list available on request), and, in DragonsLair, my young-kids-oriented magic show (heavy on the funny props and bad jokes).

And, as nearly-always, I spent some time walking around taking photos.

Looking ahead, here’s the Featured Guests currently scheduled for Boskone 58, February 12-14 2021:

  • Guest of Honor: Joe Abercrombie
  • Official Artist: Julie Dillon
  • Special guest: Tamsyn Muir
  • Musical Guest: Marc Gunn
  • NESFA Press Guest: Ursula Vernon
  • Hal Clement Science Speaker: Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready (Launch Pad Astronomy)

Photo gallery follows the jump.

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NESFA Presents Skylark, Gaughan Awards at Boskone 57

The New England Science Fiction Association honored the winners of two annual awards at Boskone 57 on February 15.

SKYLARK AWARD

  • Betsy Wollheim

The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the Skylark) is presented annually by NESFA® to some person, who, in the opinion of the membership, has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late “Doc” Smith well-loved by those who knew him.

Betsy Wollheim, Skylark Award winner

GAUGHAN AWARD

  • Iris Compiet

The Gaughan Award honors the memory of Jack Gaughan, a long-time friend of fandom and one of the finest SF artists of the 20th century. Because Jack felt it was important to encourage and recognize new blood in the field, The New England Science Fiction Association, Inc., presents the Gaughan Award annually to an emerging artist (an artist who has become a professional within the past five years) chosen by a panel of judges.

Judges: Patrick Wilshire, Maryanne Plumridge, and Stephen Hickman.

Iris Compiet, Gaughan Award winner

NESFA 2019-2020 Short Story Competition Taking Entries

The 2019-2020 NESFA Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest is accepting entries through September 30. The contest “encourages amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.” The complete guidelines are here.

Ineligible are writers who have been paid more than $1000 for their writing from any source, and/or have published a novel or multiple shorter works adding up to more than 40,000 words in any paying publication.

A qualifying story must have strong science fiction or fantasy elements and must be shorter than 7,500 words. Stories must be original works of fiction, submitted by their authors. No reprints, or fan fiction. …There is no entry fee. Please submit only one entry per author.

The winner will be announced at Boskone 57 in February 14–16, 2020 and receive a certificate of achievement, three NESFA Press books, and a free membership in one of the next two Boskones (their choice). Runners-up will receive a certificate, and two NESFA Press books. Honorable mentions will receive a certificate and one NESFA Press book.

Delort Wins 2019 Gaughan Award

Nicolas Delort

Nicolas Delort is the 2019 winner of The Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist. The award was announced at Boskone 56 on February 16.

Nicolas Delort is an award-winning illustrator currently living in the grey suburbs of Paris. Gathering inspiration in the daily and mundane as well as books and any kind of narrative medium, Nicolas endeavors to tell stories, big and small, by working on strong, evocative and intricate black and white compositions. His work has received the Gold Medal from The Society of Illustrators, and has been recognized by American Illustration, 3×3, Juxtapoz, Supersonic Electronic and This Is Colossal. Some of his clients include Blizzard Entertainment, Games Workshop/The Black Library, Quirk Books, Tor.com and Solaris Books.

The Gaughan Award honors the memory of Jack Gaughan, a long-time friend of fandom and one of the finest SF artists of the 20th century. Because Jack felt it was important to encourage and recognize new blood in the field, The New England Science Fiction Association, Inc., presents the Gaughan Award annually to an emerging artist (an artist who has become a professional within the past five years) chosen by a panel of judges. The judges for this year’s award were Stephen Hickman, Marianne Plumridge, and Patrick Wilshire.

[Thanks to Gay Ellen Dennett for the story.]

Melinda Snodgrass Wins 2019 Skylark Award

Congratulations to Melinda Snodgrass who was presented with the New England Science Fiction Association’s Skylark Award at the Boskone 56 awards ceremony on February 16.

She tweeted thanks for the award along with the above photo.

So honored to have received the Skylark Memorial Award from #NESFA this evening. Fandom you gave me my life & I hope my stories are some small repayment.

The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the Skylark) is presented annually by NESFA to some person, who, in the opinion of the membership, has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late “Doc” Smith well-loved by those who knew him.

Pixel Scroll 4/5/18 Scrollman Vs. Mr Mxyzpixeltk

(1) SOLO MENU. Bold NEW menu inspired by Solo: A Star Wars Story. Fat, salt, sugar, and Star Wars. What could be better?

(2) USAGE. How many Lego is two? Ann Leckie gives her answer. The thread starts here:

(3) GUGGENHEIM FELLOWS. The Guggenheim Fellows named for 2018 include fiction writer China Miéville, nonfiction writer Roxane Gay, and in Fine Arts, Elizabeth LaPensee, a writer, artist and game creator who earlier won a Tiptree Fellowship.

(4) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. The 34th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards Gala for  the winners of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future will be held in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 8. Celebrities attending include Nancy Cartwright, Marisol Nichols, Catherine Bell, Jade Pettyjohn, Stanley Clarke and Travis Oates.

(5) NESFA SHORT STORY CONTEST. The New England Science Fiction Association is running the fifth annual NESFA Short Story Contest. The deadline for submissions in July 31.

The purpose of this contest is to encourage amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.

Mike Sharrow, the 2018 contest administrator, sent this pitch —

Attention aspiring writers! Do you like to write science fiction or fantasy stories? Are you a new writer, but not sure if you’re ready for the big time? Then you’re just the kind of writer we’re looking for! The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA for short) is running a writing contest. Prizes include free books, and a grand prize of a free membership to Boskone. More important though is that we offer free critiques of your work. Our goal is to help young & aspiring writers to improve their writing, so you can become our new favorite writer! Check out our website for details.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 5, 1940 One Million B.C. premiered

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born April 5, 1917 — Robert Bloch. Steve Vertlieb reminds everyone, “Bloch would have turned one hundred one (101) years of age today.  Wishing one of Horror fiction’s most legendary writers a joyous 101st Birthday in the Heavenly shower stall of The Bates Motel in Heaven.”
  • Born April 5, 1926 – Roger Corman

(8) COMIC SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy says this Tom the Dancing Bug is either a loving tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey or scary as hell. Or maybe both.

(9) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present  Livia Llewellyn and  Jon Padgett on Wednesday, April 18, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar in New York.

Livia Llewellyn

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and erotica, whose short fiction has appeared in over forty anthologies and magazines and has been reprinted in multiple best-of anthologies and two Shirley Jackson Award-nominated collections, Engines of Desire and Furnace. You can find her online at liviallewellyn.com, and on Instagram and Twitter.

Jon Padgett

Jon Padgett is a professional ventriloquist. His first short story collection, The Secret of Ventriloquism, was named the Best Fiction Book of the Year by Rue Morgue Magazine. He has work out or forthcoming in Weird Fiction Review, PseudoPod, Lovecraft eZine, and in the the anthologies A Walk on the Weird SideWound of WoundsPhantasm/Chimera, and For Mortal Things Unsung. Padgett is also a professional voice-over artist with over forty years of theater and twenty-five years of audio narration experience. Cadabra Records will soon be releasing 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism, a story written and narrated by Padgett.

(10) AVOIDING UNPRODUCTIVE GENERALIZATIONS. Annalee Flower Horne suggests this is a subject where it helps to get more specific – jump on the thread here.

(11) GARDEN OF HOLES. Theory said there should be smaller holes around the monster Sgr A*; now there’s confirmation: “Dozen black holes found at galactic center”.

“The galactic centre is so far away from Earth that those bursts are only strong and bright enough to see about once every 100 to 1,000 years,” said Prof Hailey.

Instead, the Columbia University astrophysicist and his colleagues decided to look for the fainter but steadier X-rays emitted when these binaries are in an inactive state.

“Isolated, unmated black holes are just black – they don’t do anything,” said Prof Hailey.

“But when black holes mate with a low mass star, the marriage emits X-ray bursts that are weaker, but consistent and detectable.”

(12) EARWORMS FOR WHALES. Bowheads appear to have more-complex songs than the famous humpbacks: “The whales who love to sing in the dark”.

Over the course of three years, the whales of the Spitsbergen population produced 184 unique song types. The vocalisations were detected 24 hours a day throughout most of the winter each year.

“The alphabet for the bowhead has got thousands of letters as far as we can tell,” Prof Kate Stafford, lead author of the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, told BBC News.

“I really think of humpback whale songs as being like classical music. Very ordered. They might last 20 – 30 minutes. An individual [bowhead] song might only be 45 seconds to 2 minutes long, but they’ll repeat that song over and over again,” the University of Washington researcher added.

(13) GIVING MARS HIVES. NASA will throw a little cash at this idea: “NASA Wants To Send A Swarm Of Robot Bees To Mars”.

A Japanese-American team of engineers is working to send a swarm of bee-inspired drones to the Red Planet with new, exploratory funding from NASA. Yes, bees on Mars. The team calls the concept “Marsbees.”

NASA selected the idea as part of its “Innovative Advanced Concepts” program, which annually supports a handful of early concept ideas for space exploration. The team of researchers will explore the possibility of creating a swarm of bees that could explore the Martian surface autonomously, flying from a rover. The rover would act as centralized, mobile beehive, recharging the Marsbees with electricity, downloading all the information they capture, and relaying it to Earth’s tracking stations. They describe the Marsbees as “robotic flapping wing flyers of a bumblebee size with cicada-sized wings.” Those oversized wings, in relation to their bodies, compensate for the density of Mars’ atmosphere–which is much thinner than Earth’s.

(14) BLACK PANTHER OVERCOMES ANOTHER BARRIER. According to The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Black Panther’ to Break Saudi Arabia’s 35-Year Cinema Ban”.

Black Panther is set to make some more history.

Marvel’s record-breaking superhero blockbuster — which has already amassed north of $1.2 billion since launching in February — will herald Saudi Arabia’s long-awaited return to the cinema world, becoming the first film to screen to the public in a movie theater in the country since it lifted a 35-year cinema ban.

(15) INCREDIBLES 2. Bravo, Edna is a fresh pitch for Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2, which opens in theatres June 15.

Icon. Artist. Legend. Edna Mode is back, dahlings.

 

(16) ROWAN ATKINSON. Universal Pictures followed up yesterday’s teaser with a full-length Johnny English Strikes Back trailer.

[Thanks to JJ, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Steven J. Vertlieb, Matthew Kressel, Jeff Smith, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

NESFA Presents Awards at Boskone 55

The New England Science Fiction Association honored the winners of two annual awards at Boskone 55.

by Alessandra Maria Pisano

GAUGHAN AWARD

  • Alessandra Maria Pisano

The Gaughan Award honors the memory of Jack Gaughan, a long-time friend of fandom and one of the finest SF artists of the 20th century. Because Jack felt it was important to encourage and recognize new blood in the field, The New England Science Fiction Association, Inc., presents the Gaughan Award annually to an emerging artist (an artist who has become a professional within the past five years) chosen by a panel of judges.

Judges: Arnie Fenner, Cathy Fenner, Gregory Manchess

SKYLARK AWARD

  • Daniel M. Kimmel

The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the Skylark) is presented annually by NESFA® to some person, who, in the opinion of the membership, has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late “Doc” Smith well-loved by those who knew him.

Daniel M. Kimmel in 2014.

NESFA 2017 Short Story Competition Taking Entries

The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) is now accepting stories for its 2017 Annual Short Story Competition for new and emerging writers.

We are seeking science fiction and fantasy short stories that represent a diverse range of topics and authors within the genre.

The purpose of this contest is to encourage amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency. We will look for engaging openings, good character development, well structured plotting, powerful imagery, witty or humorous language, unique word or phrasing choices, and convincing endings. A qualifying entrant is a writer who has not previously published in a paid, professional forum, book, magazine, etc. at the time of submission, and who has received no more than $1000 for any previously published short stories (total) or other work of fiction in electronic form. Having published a novel, either in e-format or on paper automatically disqualifies you as an entrant in the contest.

All contest entrants receive a short critique of their work and finalists receive an assortment of free books.

Past judges have included award-winning authors such as Daniel Kimmel, Steven Brust and Garth Nix, among others.

The grand prize winner will receive a free membership to Boskone 56, New England’s longest running science fiction convention.

The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. All submissions must be made via email to storycontest@boskone.org in flat text, rich text, or any format readable by MS Word or Open Office. For more information, including submission guidelines and deadlines, visit http://www.nesfa.org/awards/storycon.html.

NESFA welcomes all writers and topics. We look forward to reading your submission and wish all of our writers good luck in NESFA’s 2018 Annual Short Story Competition.