(1) STOLEN HEARTS. Another romance writer has been accused of plagiarism: the #CopyPasteCris row involves accusations that Cristiane Serruya lifted large sections of her romance novels from works by Courtney Milan and other writers, then blamed the mess on a ghostwriter she’d hired. One side-effect is that the Romance Writers of America is under pressure to either bar ghostwritten works from its awards or insist such works are identified as such when submitted. Will there be calls for sff and horror organizations to follow suit?
- Courtney Milan started the ball rolling with a blog post whose headline declared: “Cristiane Serruya is a copyright infringer, a plagiarist, and an idiot”. She showed that several of the portions from Serruya’s book Royal Love appear to be word-for-word reproductions of Milan’s writing.
- The Los Angeles Times picked up the story: “Brazilian romance writer accused of plagiarizing from Courtney Milan, other novelists”.
Milan said a reader alerted her to the wording issue in Serruya’s book, and tweeted, “I’m not exactly sure how to proceed from here, but I will be seeking legal counsel.”
Milan is a lawyer who used to teach intellectual property law at Seattle University.
Then the story became much larger. On Twitter, Milan and other authors and readers began posting passages from Serruya’s work that appeared to be lifted from other sources, sometimes using the hashtag #CopyPasteCris.
On Tuesday morning, Serruya initially seemed to deny the charges, tweeting at Milan, “Good morning, @courtneymilan I just woke up to this and I am astonished. I would have never, ever, done this. I am in this writing for a few years now and I am also a lawyer. Could we perhaps talk?”
Shortly after her first tweet, Serruya tweeted that her book did, indeed, contain plagiarism, which she blamed on a ghostwriter she had hired through Fiverr, a service that matches freelance creative professionals with those who want to hire them for gigs.
- Book Riot navigated the growing tweetstorm of examples of how many other writers Serruya’s book copied, and some other embarrassing discoveries: “Romancelandia, Intellectual Property, and Plagiarism: A Round-Up of #CopyPasteCris”.
…Other authors and readers, per Milan’s advice, looked into the book to make sure Serruya had not stolen even more writers’ intellectual property. Boy howdy, the results…
…But wait, the plot thickens. Not only was this hodgepodge of a book submitted to the RITA contest, but Serruya was also judging some categories.
Let’s recap, shall we?
- “Author” Cristiane Serruya published a book, allegedly ghostwritten, full of stolen words and others’ intellectual property.
- She submitted this book for consideration to an award that Ms. Milan was previously not allowed to submit.
- She played a role in which books won in America’s most prestigious awards in the romance genre.
- When called out for it, she lied.
- When lies got her nowhere, she attempted to shift the blame.
- As of this writing, Serruya has taken down Royal Love. She has not, however, taken down Royal Affair, which apparently also contains stolen intellectual property from romance superstars.
(2) THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. SYFY Wire wishes they had the key — “Lord of the Rings writers locked in guarded room at Amazon Studios”.
The new Lord of the Rings series from Amazon is being kept more secret from fans than the One Ring was from the Elven-kings, Dwarf-lords, and Mortal Men. Apart from very vague and mysterious teases like a map laden with Easter eggs, Tolkien fans know next to nothing about the upcoming series that hopes to somehow co-exist with Peter Jackson’s fantasy films after the latter defined Middle-earth for a generation. And that’s partially because of how Amazon’s writer’s room is protected.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the team responsible for creating the first season of LotR TV has been even more isolated than Gollum in his cave….
(3) HOW AMAZING IS THAT? Steve Davidson is adding a convention to his brand: “Announcing Amazingcon® (Very Preliminary)” .
The micron itself? A one day affair, consisting of two panels, a catered lunch break, a mini-dealers room and art show, bringing in two regionally popular guests, open to attendance of between 100 and 250 (max), designed to appeal to two distinct but related audiences: local folks familiar with the GoHs who would like a more intimate experience with them and local fans who want to experience a traditional convention for the first time, without having to commit to a full weekend, the travel and lodging requirements and etc.
This is currently a test-case, is expected to take place in Manchester, NH (or relatively close by) and is expected to happen in a 2020 time frame. (Very local helps keep associated expenses down.)
We expect to replicate nearly everything a traditional, weekend long convention does; there’ll be membership badges and registration, panels with Q&A, an opening and closing ceremonies and even what we’re calling A “Dead Dog Dinner Party” for our GoHs, staff and selected members of the convention….
(4) HE GETS BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS. The Yorkshire Post talked to one of Interzone’s co-founders about what he overcame to write his new book: “Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis has not stopped Leeds sci-fi and fantasy writer Simon Ounsley”
…When Simon Ounsley was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease six years ago, he felt any chance to have a fiction book published had slipped from his grasp. But he has continued to write with the help of voice activation software and now has a children’s story on sale and another in the pipeline. “I have wanted to write fiction all my life,” he says. “But except for a few short stories, I was never able to secure the interest of an agent or publisher.
…“I had almost decided I should try to self-publish a children’s novel I had written, when an extraordinary stroke of luck led to me finding a publisher.”
That publishing firm is Journey Fiction, run by writer Jennifer Farey from Las Vegas, USA. Simon had been in touch with her husband Nic through science fiction fanzines and asked him to take a look at the book last September. He offered to show it to Jennifer and on December 1 The Shop on Peculiar Hill was released, available through Amazon and online bookstores.
It is in the sci-fi genre that Simon has done much of his writing, including for fanzines from 1978. He was one of eight people who launched fantasy and science fiction magazine Interzone in 1982. Still in existence today, it is the longest running British sci-fi magazine in history. Harrogate-born Simon was involved for six years.
(5) TROLLS HAMMER CAPTAIN MARVEL. Captain Marvel had a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% rating a few weeks ago, but the trolls went to work and pushed it down to 63%. Stylist phrased the news this way — “Sexist trolls are targeting Captain Marvel with fake bad reviews”:
Over here in the Stylist.co.uk offices we know that women are strong and smart and powerful and awe-inspiring. We celebrate this on a daily basis. But there are many out there who aren’t as comfortable watching a female superhero save the world in such spectacular fashion.
And they’re all trolls lurking in the swampy backwaters of the internet.
A campaign spearheaded by sexist social media users to target Captain Marvel with negative reviews has hit Rotten Tomatoes today. The idea, according to these users, is to ensure that the movie’s audience score is impacted and reduced.
Just to be clear, the film hasn’t even been released yet. But that hasn’t stopped people leaving negative comments on the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes’ page anyway. These reviews target the film’s female-led subject matter and star Larson’s commitment to utilise inclusion riders on the press tour for the movie to ensure that female, disabled and people of colour journalists are given preference for interview time.
(6) HORROR’S HISTORIC SOURCES. Jess Nevins, author of the forthcoming book A Chilling Age of Horror: How 20th Century Horror Fiction Changed The Genre, illuminates “A short history of 20th century African-American horror literature”:
In a very real sense horror, in the form of slavery, was a part of the African-American experience from the beginning. Unsurprisingly, horror was a part of African-American narratives from the first as well. The folklore, legends, and myths brought over from Africa during the Middle Passage and turned into oral literature by the slaves was one significant element of pre-twentieth century African-American horror literature.1 A second, which long outlasted the African folklore and legends as a source of African-American horror, was the Gothic, which in its “Afro-Gothic” form was as popular by the end of the twentieth century as it was in its more primitive form centuries earlier.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- February 20, 1962 — Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. He made 3 trips around the earth in his Mercury-Atlas spacecraft, Friendship 7, in just under 5 hours.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- 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 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, 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 television 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, 76. 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 coloured 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, 1945 — Brion James. Without doubt best known for his portrayal of Leon Kowalski in Bladerunner. He did have a number of genre roles including playing Stubbs in Enemy Mine, Tank in Steel Dawn, Stacy in Cherry 2000, Staten Jack Rose in Wishman, Maritz in Nemesis… Well you get the idea. He appeared in myriad low budget, not terribly good genre films after Bladerunner. (Died 1999.)
- Born February 20, 1954 — Anthony Head, 65. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He 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, 1972 — Nick Mamatas, 47. Writer and editor. His fiction is of a decidedly Lovecraftian bent which can be seen in Move Under Ground which also has a strong Beat influence. It is worth noting that his genre fiction often strays beyond genre walls into other genres as he sees fit. He has also been recognised for his editorial work including translating Japanese manga with a Bram Stoker Award, as well as World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award nominations.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Brewster Rockit scores with this Marie Kondo/Star Wars gag.
- In Frazz, they discuss how SJW credentials view food.
(10) VERTLIEB ON TV. Film historian Steve Vertlieb appeared in an episode of Counter Culture, a local PBS talk show, that aired last night. You can watch the episode at the link.
I want to thank popular comedian and radio personality Grover Silcox for inviting me share a delightful segment of his new “Counter Culture” television interview series which aired last night on WLVT TV, Channel 39 Public Television in Allentown. We sat together at the famed Daddypops Diner in Hatboro, Pennsylvania where the wonderful series is filmed, and talked about the long history of Monster Movies. For anyone who didn’t catch it last night, the program is available on line by accessing the link below. You’ll find my segment in the middle of Episode No. 3.
(11) SHOES FOR INDUSTRY! [Item by Andrew.] Robert Sheckley is now writing our reality. Cnet reports: “Nike’s Android app doesn’t run well with its Adapt BB self-tying shoes”.
A faulty app has tripped up Nike’s $350 self-tying shoes.
Nike released the Adapt BB, its tech-infused sneaker, on Sunday during the NBA’s All-Star game, along with an app that can control the shoe’s fit and light-up colors.
You’re able to loosen and tighten the sneakers through two buttons on the sneaker’s side, but Nike executives talked up the app experience, saying that it would also help you with your fitness activities in the future.
The Adapt BB needed a firmware update in its first week, which could only be installed via an iOS or Android app, Nike executives said in January.
But for people using Android, the app for the self-tying sneakers hasn’t been a perfect fit. Multiple reviews for the Nike Adapt app on Google’s Play Store said that it hasn’t connected to the left shoe, and an update rendered the sneaker’s main feature useless.
Usually bricking tend to render devices completely useless, at least the Adapt BB just turns into a regular pair of sneakers. You’re also still able to control the fit through the buttons on the side.
(12) THE CASTLE WILL CLOSE. The Verge: “The Man in the High Castle will end with season 4, trailer reveals”. Sean Hollister writes:
I think I’ve come to a realization — most of my current favorite TV shows are only still favorites because I’m waiting for them to come to what seems like an inevitably gruesome end. I’m a deer in the headlights, hoping that in a world where death and dismay is around every corner, the Game of Thrones cast might actually find their final rest; the handmaids in The Handmaid’s Tale might permanently escape their torture and mutilation the only way that seems plausible; Westworld will see the robots triumph over humanity (yes I’m in that camp); and that Killing Eve might, well, it’s right there in the title.
That’s why I’m delighted to say that The Man in the High Castle will end after its fourth season, as you can see by watching this new trailer.
(13) PAYING IT FORWARD. Award-winning and best-selling paranormal romance writer Nalini Singh wants to send a New Zealand first-timer to the Romance Writers of NZ con.
(14) CROSS-GENRE ROMANCE. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast interviews Jeffe Kennedy: “SFFMP 221: Whether Awards Are Worth Trying for, Marketing Fantasy Romance, and Being Active in SFWA and RWA”. Among the many questions covered: “How much ‘romance’ has to be in a story for it to be considered sci-fi or fantasy romance?”
This week, we chatted with RITA award-winning fantasy romance author Jeffe Kennedy. She started her career writing non-fiction, shifted to romance and fantasy romance with traditional publishing, and now does some self-publishing as well. We asked her about whether awards are worth trying for, her thoughts on the professional organizations SFWA and RWA, and what she’s tried and liked for marketing over the years.
(15) SKYLARK THANKS. The full text of Melinda Snodgrass’ 2019 Skylark Memorial Award acceptance speech has been posted to her blog – click the link.
(16) SWEET SCREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS: Over at Featured Futures, Jason has incorporated Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eleven into the “Collated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2018 Stories, Links)”.
Welcome to the third annual linked collation of annuals or “year’s bests.” As the contents of the Afsharirad, BASFF, Clarke, Datlow, Guran, Horton, Shearman/Kelly, and Strahan science fiction, fantasy, and horror annuals are announced, they will be combined into one master list with links to the stories which are available online. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy some of them and that will help you decide which annual or annuals, if any, to purchase.
(17) SHED A TEAR. At Quick Sip Reviews, Charles Payseur rolls out his next award: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2018! The “There’s Something in My Eye” Sippy for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF”.
…I’m something of an emotive reader, which means that there are times when reading that a story just hits me right in the feels and I need to take a moment to recover. These are stories that, for me, are defined most by their emotional weight. By the impact they have, the ability to completely destroy all the careful emotional shields we use to keep the rest of the world at bay. These are the stories that pry open the shell of control I try surround myself in and leave me little more than a blubbering mess. So joining me in smiling through the tears and celebrating this year’s winners!
(18) BUZZ. “Scientists Release Controversial Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In High-Security Lab” – NPR has the story, a look at the pros and cons.
Scientists have launched a major new phase in the testing of a controversial genetically modified organism: a mosquito designed to quickly spread a genetic mutation lethal to its own species, NPR has learned.
For the first time, researchers have begun large-scale releases of the engineered insects, into a high-security laboratory in Terni, Italy.
“This will really be a breakthrough experiment,” says Ruth Mueller, an entomologist who runs the lab. “It’s a historic moment.”
The goal is to see if the mosquitoes could eventually provide a powerful new weapon to help eradicate malaria in Africa, where most cases occur.
(19) SFF AND THE ACADEMY. BBC’s “Oscars 2019: 17 quirky facts about this year’s Academy Awards” includes some genre-relevant items:
10. In 2008, The Dark Knight helped prompt an Oscars rule change, which expanded the best picture category from five nominees to as many as 10.
It was hoped this would allow for more blockbuster superhero films (i.e. movies the public actually go to see) to be acknowledged.
However, it’s taken a decade for a superhero film to actually benefit from this rule change – in the shape of this year’s nomination for Black Panther.
12. Incredibles 2 is nominated for best animated feature this year.
But sequels have rarely won in this category since the Oscars introduced it in 2001.
The last one that did was 2010’s Toy Story 3. (Despite its misleading title, 2014’s Big Hero 6 wasn’t a sequel.)
(20) BACK TO THE HANGAR. The Hollywood Reporter has more on the cancellation of Nightflyers.
Nightflyers will not fly again for Syfy. The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has opted to cancel the expensive space drama based on the George R.R. Martin novella after one season. The cancellation arrives as one of its leads just booked a series regular role in a broadcast pilot.
Nightflyers was, without question, a big swing for Syfy….
In a bid to eventize Nightflyers, Syfy set a binge model and released the entire series on Dec. 2 on its digital platforms and aired the series over 10 straight nights on its linear network. The series hit Netflix on Feb. 1 and, unlike the breakout success that became LIfetime’s You, did not break out. The Dec. 13 season finale — which now doubles as a series finale — drew just 420,000 live viewers (down from 623,000 for the premiere).
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Smash and Grab on Youtube is a Pixar film by Brian Larsen about two robots who would rather play than perform their menial jobs.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Steve Green, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Steve Davidson, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, Andrew, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]