From Mercury to a Distant Star: NYRSF Readings Feature Kressel and Rivera

David Rivera and Matt Kressel

By Mark L. Blackman: On the bitingly cold evening of Fat Tuesday (yes, it was Mardi Gras), March 5, 2019, at an event held at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series featured a joint reading from Matthew Kressel and Mercurio D. Rivera of their co-written story “The Walk to Distant Suns,” which appears in the March issue of Analog.

The evening kicked off as customary with a welcome from producer/executive curator Jim Freund, longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy, a heads-up that we were on camera – the proceedings were streaming live via Livestream (they may be accessed by going to Livestream.com and searching for NYRSF) – and an announcement of scheduled upcoming readings.  April 2nd’s event will be guest-hosted by Mike Allen and feature Theodora Goss and Barbara Krasnoff.  May 7th readers are to be determined. June, being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, on the 4th will offer Katharine Duckett and another writer to be named; it will, said Freund, be “queer-oriented.”  He then introduced the evening’s two readers before ducking into the control booth; he was handling Tech.

Matthew Kresselis the author of the well-received novel King of Shards and of short fiction that has appeared in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Analog, Nightmare, and Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies, and been honored as a three-time Nebula Award Finalist and a Eugie Award Finalist. Additionally, as a coder, he created the Moksha submissions system currently in use by many of the largest SF publishers. Locally, with Ellen Datlow, he is the co-host of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series at the titular East Village bar.

Mercurio D. (for David) Rivera is the World Fantasy Award-nominated writer of short fiction that has appeared in markets such as Analog, Asimov’s, Lightspeed, Interzone, and Space and Time, and been anthologized in several Year’s Best Science Fiction compilations as well as podcast. His most notable stories include “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us,” “Longing for Langalana,” “Tethered,” “Dance of the Kawkawroons,” and “Those Brighter Stars;” his own collection, Across the Even Horizon, was critically acclaimed. Like Kressel, he is a member of the Manhattan writing group Altered Fluid. 

After a silly attempt to read together, the duo took turns reading “The Walk to Distant Suns,” with Rivera leading off. The “walk” is along an Einstein-Rosen Bridge, called “the Lift,” which transmutes matter and transfers it, both objects and people, one quark at a time, through a wormhole, from Earth (more precisely L-5) to a world dubbed Iris in the Trappist-1 System 40 light years away; it is a one-way trip. Earth is in bleak shape, with 80% of the population living in poverty and many eking out by foraging through garbage, so a new life on the paradisiacal planet beckons. Among them are Shandi, an engineer at the Lift, who hopes to make the trip one day with her family (her mother is ill and her little sister is artistic). Alas, the corporation that operates the Lift keeps raising the cost, so only the rich can afford to go. Using the opportunity that her position affords, Shandi schemes to smuggle them all onto the Lift. To be continued.

During the intermission, there was a raffle drawing (with Freund boothed, Amy Goldschlager was drafted to oversee it) with the prizes including the issue of Analog containing the story, The Best Science Fiction of the Year , and a signed copy of the manuscript from which they were reading.

Subsequently, with Kressel leading off, the reading continued through to the end of the story and its twist ending (no spoilers).

Goldschlager then moderated a Q&A, opening with a question from her about their collaborative process. They broke up scenes, characters and motivations, said Rivera, though Kressel wrote the first section, then they went back and forth. It was “a successful collaboration;” in the end, they each “feel like they wrote the whole thing.” Even outside of Altered Fluid, they’re used to criticizing each other. Asked by an audience member if they’d thought of expanding it, Kressel said that they’d thought that it would be a short story, but it grew to 8,600 words. Goldschlager also delivered the “outro.”

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, and the Café saw to food, a coffee bar, beer and wine.

The crowd of about 25-30 included Karen Heuler, Raj Khanna, Barbara Krasnoff (House Manager), Lissanne Lake, and James Ryan and Susan Ratisher Ryan.  Afterward, there was schmoozing, and feasting.

Pixel Scroll 2/4/19 Like Pixels Through File 770, So Are The Scrolls Of Our Lives

(1) COVER REVEAL. Here is The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s March/April 2019 cover. The cover art is by Kent Bash.

(2) BETTER WORLDS. The latest short story (and video adaptation) in The Verge’s “Better Worlds” series is “A Sun Will Always Sing,” by Karin Lowachee. (Video byYeah Haus.)

There’s also a Q&A: “Karin Lowachee on how humanity can peacefully coexist with AI” conducted by Andrew Liptak.

What inspired this story, and how did you construct this future?

I’d seen on YouTube a discussion from scientists about if an AI possessed an exact neural map of the human brain that it would not be out of the realm of possibility to believe that they would also be imbued with curiosity and maybe even a sense of responsibility for the Earth because now they, too, were a part of its systems. Around the same time, I stumbled on articles written by social scientists who believed that in taking care of certain economic necessities, humanity ideally could free up resources for creative problem-solving on the world scale and exploration.

These points of reference were really the general jumping-off points for me to try to logically extrapolate a human society that accommodated AIs (though not without some implied struggle) because the AIs were not, in fact, seeking a judgment day. They wanted to live and progress just as humans, and though their consciousness was not exact to humans, they were their own kind and just as worthy to be respected. We recognize this in intelligent animals, or even animals as a whole, so my thinking was it could be possible for AIs as well.

(3) WASTE NOT, WANT NOT. Max Florschutz offers advice about “Being a Better Writer: Garbage”. His ideas are far more realistic than J.K. Rowling’s.

Consider, for example, your trash. What happens to it? How do you dispose of it? Is it a garbage can next to your desk or in the kitchen? What happens to it once the can is full? Where does it go? Who deals with it? Do you know? Or does it simply “vanish?”

Well, here’s the thing. It definitely doesn’t vanish. Refuse is refuse: Someone has to do something with it or it piles up. Waste from your home, for example, at least in the US, is collected in a larger can and taken to the side of the road for a garbage truck to collect (99% of the time. The US’s coverage with this system is so ubiquitous that I’ve been to rural places where the only vehicle in town that isn’t a four-wheeler or a boat is the town garbage truck). That truck then takes it to a landfill or a processing center. At the first, the garbage is dumped out. At the second, it’s sorted and separated, usually with an end-goal in mind of dividing up the garbage into smaller, more dedicated end-states, from compost to recycling.

(4) NYRSF READINGS. Jim Freund asks, “Why waste your time with the State of the Union, when we have such a brilliant and more fulfilling alternative?”

The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series resumes Tuesday, February 5.

Mimi Mondal (Bone Stew) writes about history and politics, occasionally disguised as fiction. Her first co-edited anthology, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler won a Locus Award and was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2018. In the past Mimi has worked as an editor at Penguin India and Uncanny Magazine, and spent eleven years at universities in India, Scotland and the US, from which she is currently recovering in New York and at @Miminality on Twitter.

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, from Conjunctions to Clarkesworld to Weird Tales, as well as a number of Best Of anthologies. She has received an O. Henry award, been a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction (twice), and others. She has published four novels and a novella, and her fourth story collection has just been published by Tartarus Press.

The events begins at 7:00 p.m. in The Brooklyn Commons Café, 388 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.) in Brooklyn, NY.

(5) FIVE STORIES IN ONE. Syfy Wire gets to Hogwarts by way of Korea: “Geek Road Trip: Harry Potter fans in South Korea just opened a five-story cafe devoted to the boy wizard”.

Once we get inside, we’re quickly pointed to the counter. The food and drink offerings here are relatively run-of-the-mill Seoul cafe classics: Americanos, various flavored lattes and milk teas, and fruity adeS. On the menu, they promise chocolate wands are coming soon, and on select days there’s Butterbeer. Dessert-wise there’s a selection of cakes, none of which are themed, save for one: the wizard cake, a mini replica of the birthday cake Hagrid brings to Harry. We ordered the wizard cake for a cool 17,000 Won (around $15), grabbed our pager, and began to explore.

And trust me, there’s a lot to explore. Everywhere you turn there’s a poster or a reference to something Harry Potter-esque. Quotes in English and Korean line the staircases along with posters and portraits. Even the elevator is fully decked out.

(6) NO CODE FOR THIS CONDUCT.  The infosec industry conference DerbyCon is calling it quits after this year. Their explanation sounds like “We’re closing down rather than resorting to enforcing our code of conduct.”

Read their announcement here: “DerbyCon 9.0 – Every Beginning Has an End”.

…This year, we had to handle issues that honestly, as an adult, we would never expect to have to handle from other adults. Conferences in general have shifted focus to not upsetting individuals and having to police people’s beliefs, politics, and feelings. Instead of coming to a conference to learn and share, it’s about how loud of a message a person can make about a specific topic, regardless of who they tear down or attempt to destroy. To put it in perspective, we had to deal with an individual that was verbally and mentally abusive to a number of our volunteer staff and security to the point where they were in tears.

This is not what we signed up for.

Admittedly, we had no idea how to handle this person, and in fear of repercussion of removing this person, allowed them to stay at the conference in order to “not upset the masses”. The best we could do was just apologize, for other apologies, and apologize more for another’s actions. This is just one example of many we have had to deal with over the past few years, and each year it becomes increasingly harder for us to handle. We do everything as a conference to ensure the safety, security, and go above and beyond that of others. Maybe that puts us on a different level where something that would normally not be an issue explodes into a catastrophic situation on social media.

Who knows? What we do know is each year it gets harder and harder.

2019 will be our last year of DerbyCon.

Motherboard reports “Hackers Baselessly Blame Women and ‘SJWs’ for the End of DerbyCon Security Conference”.

…Some in the infosec community read the organizers’ statement and began to blame the shutdown on “Social Justice Warriors,” and women who complained too much. For example, far right blog Gateway Pundit pointed to an incident where an attendee complained that other attendees were joking about sexual assault outside of the conference’s Mental Health Village. Others on Twitter latched on to the rumor that “SJWs” killed DerbyCon.

Regardless of the reason for the conference’s cancellation, the announcement renewed a conversation about toxicity in the infosec community that has been taking place in earnest since at least 2017 (and in smaller circles before then), when the Verge reported on chat logs from well-known security researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire, in which he confessed to a series of sexual assaults; the Verge and VICE corroborated that reporting with multiple women who have knowledge of the assaults.

While some women in the cybersecurity world were discussing the toxic interactions, sexual harassment, and assaults they’ve faced in the infosec community, members of a popular closed Facebook hacking group called “illmob” began to attack women who have spoken up about these issues, including Georgia Weidman, a security researcher who recently tweeted that her career was hurt by attending and speaking at DerbyCon in 2013….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 4, 1925 Russell Hoban. Riddley Walker may well be one of the most difficult novels I’ve ever read but it’s certainly also worth it. ISFDB lists a lot of other SF works by him but I must say I hadn’t realised that he’d written any beyond this work. Had any of you known this? (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 4, 1940 John Schuck, 79. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in  Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn In “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes. Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today.  Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns? 
  • Born February 4, 1961 Neal Asher, 58. I’ve been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I’m listening to The Line War right now and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of ten thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). He’s the sort of writer that I think drives our Puppies to madness — literate pulp SF pumped out fast that readers like. 
  • Born February 4, 1970 Gabrielle Anwar, 49. Currently Lady Tremaine on Once Upon a Time. On the BBC series Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, she once played Ramandu’s Daughter. Marti Malone in Body Snatchers which is the third film adaptation of that Finney novel.  She was Queen Anne in The Three Musketeers which I love and Emily Davenport in The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Patriotic Ewoks will shed a tear over this Brevity.

(9) STAR TREK: RENT. On The Late Late Show With James Corden, the cast of Star Trek: Discovery leaves the bridge for this week’s episode of Carpool Karaoke. Sing along with Sonequa Martin-Green, Anthony Rapp, Doug Jones and Mary Wiseman. Complete show is accessible through an Apple app.

There’s another preview on Twitter.

(10) WORLDCON ECONOMICS. Persistent Scribble tasks an unnamed author who feels the Worldcon should give them a free membership. Thread starts here.  

(11) VAMPING IT UP. What We Do in the Shadows, from writer Jemaine Clement and director Taika Waititi, premieres March 27 on FX.

What We Do in the Shadows is a half-hour comedy series based on the feature film of the same name by co-creators Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Set in New York City, the show follows three vampires who have been roommates for hundreds and hundreds of years. Stars Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillen and Mark Proksch.

(11) Y? Y NOT? The Hollywood Reporter has posted that, “‘Y: The Last Man’ Ordered to Series at FX.” Much of the cast had been announced as early as mid 2018 (The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Y: The Last Man’ FX Cast Unveiled, Diane Lane and Barry Keoghan to Star”), but FX has now definitized the series order.

File this under “years in the making.”

Brian K. Vaughan’s beloved comic series Y: The Last Man is finally coming to a screen. FX on Monday announced that it has picked up its TV adaptation to series. The network has handed out a series order for the drama from showrunner Michael Green and starring Barry Keoghan and Diane Lane. It is expected to premiere in 2020.

[…] Green (American GodsBlade Runner 2049Logan) and Aïda Mashaka Croal (Luke CageTurn) serve as showrunners and executive producers. Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force (American Crime StoryPoseThe Hunger Games) and Vaughan executive produce and developed the series. Melina Matsoukas (InsecureMaster of NoneBeyonce: Formation) directed the pilot and exec produce the FX Productions drama. In addition to Keoghan and Lane, the cast also includes Amber TamblynImogen Poots, Lashana Lynch, Juliana Canfield and Marin Ireland.

(12) BLUER MARBLE. BBC story says “Climate change: Blue planet will get even bluer as Earth warms”.

Rising temperatures will change the colour of the world’s oceans, making them more blue in the coming decades say scientists.

They found that increased heat will change the mixture of phytoplankton or tiny marine organisms in the seas, which absorb and reflect light.

Scientists say there will be less of them in the waters in the decades to come.

This will drive a colour change in more than 50% of the world’s seas by 2100.

(13) AS EASY AS A. Chip Hitchcock says BBC’s article “How easy will it be to build a Moon base” is an “interesting overview despite one huge error-of-fact.” (Can you spot it?)

How can astronauts build a lunar base if traditional building materials are too heavy to load into a rocket?

In 1975, three years after the final Apollo Moon landing, Space: 1999 first aired on British television. It began with a nuclear explosion wrenching the Moon, and an international lunar colony of over 300 people, out of its orbit and into an unknown journey into space.

The TV series obviously made an impression on a young Elon Musk because, when the SpaceX founder revealed their plans for a lunar colony in August 2017, he called it Moonbase Alpha after the lunar base in Space: 1999. “Cheesy show,” Musk tweeted, “but I loved it.”

SpaceX is not alone is wanting to get humans back on the Moon. The Chinese space agency CNSA (China National Space Administration) has announced the next stages of its successful Chang’e lunar exploration missions – shortly after Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the far side of the Moon.

Chang’e 5 and 6 will be sample return missions while Chang’e 7 will survey the South Pole, a region of specific interest for human habitation because it contains water ice. “We hope that Chang’e 8 will help test some technologies and do some exploring,” deputy head of the CNSA Wu Yanhua said in January, “for the building of a joint lunar base shared by multiple countries.”

China is not alone in this ambition. Across the globe, 50 years after the Moon landings, the practicalities of a moonbase are taking shape. The irony is that, while only the United States of America has left footprints on the Moon, the Americans are now having to play catch up. It didn’t unveil plans for a permanent moonbase until August 2018. Nasa’s primary focus until then had been Mars. The European Space Agency (Esa) was already one step ahead.

(14) YARN V. GLASS CEILING. Pixar has a new short film that blurs the line between genre and a workplace dramedy (Mashable: “Pixar’s newest short ‘Purl’ is a must-watch for every workplace”).

Pixar’s new animation program SparkShorts has released its first short film, a powerful story about the difficulty of fitting into a workplace of human males. 

“Purl” might be about a pink ball of yarn, but its title character adopts new behaviors and aggression to be one of the boys, a transparent allegory for women trying to break the glass ceiling in corporate culture.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Gordon Van Gelder, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Errolwi, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to ULTRAGOTHA.)

Diamond Jubilation for Richard Bowes at NYRSF Readings

Rick Bowes

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, January 8, 2019, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series held a Diamond Jubilee celebration for local writer Richard (Rick) Bowes on the occasion of his 75th Birthday.

Richard Bowes is the author of six novels, four story collections and over 80 short stories, earning two World Fantasy Awards, a Lambda Award, a StorySouth Million Writers Award, and an International Horror Guild Award, as well as works short-listed for the Nebula Award. He is a familiar face (and voice) as reader and audience at both the NYRSF and the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series. Born in Boston (with the accent to prove it), he grew up there and on Long Island, and has lived for decades in Greenwich Village.

The event, held at the Series’ venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café on Atlantic Avenue in the Borough sharing its name, kicked off as usual with a welcome from producer/executive curator Jim Freund, longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (99.5 FM in New York and worldwide at wbai.org), a reminder – or warning – that cameras were recording (the readings are Livestreamed), and an announcement of upcoming readers:

  • Feb. 5:  Karen Heuler and Mimi Mondal
  • March 5:  To Be Determined
  • April 2:  Theodora Goss and Barbara Krasnoff, guest-hosted by Mike Allen

Concluding his introduction to the event, Freund remarked that he “first met Rick forever ago” and described him as “a writer (and personal friend) whose accomplishments have entertained and challenged the thinking of innumerable readers” during his over 35 years in the genre, and his “go-to guest on Hour of the Wolf.” A reading by Bowes of his 9/11 story, “There’s a Hole in the City” (online now at Nightmare Magazine), is broadcast each year around 9/11 over WBAI. 

Ellen Datlow

At the microphone, much-honored editor of over 100 anthologies (and co-host of the aformentioned Fantastic Fiction Reading Series), Ellen Datlow, characterized Bowes as “a natural-born storyteller,” and read a tribute essay by Jeffrey Ford, “Bowes.” In it, Ford related how he met Bowes (at a Nebula Weekend) and how he was mentored by him. (Rick has also similarly helped other writers in the sf/fantasy community.) Bowes, he declared, is “low-key, but hysterical” (indeed, he has a wicked sense of humor that veers between acerbic wit and smartass cracks). “No one writes about New York like Rick” (as his followers on Facebook know) as “he moves through history in his fiction.” His time in New York (by which is meant the Village, East and West) encompasses the eventful (and tumultuous) times pre- and post-Stonewall, the AIDS crisis, and, as noted, 9/11.

Next, Barbara Krasnoff conducted an interview with Bowes (both are members of the New York City writers group Tabula Rasa) about his early writing career and an overview of his body of work, which includes If Angels Fight, Minions of the Moon, From The Files of the Time Rangers, and Dust Devil On a Quiet Street. If he is “remembered for anything,” he mused, “it will be for ‘There’s a Hole in the City.’” (Set on Wednesday, Sept. 12th, in it he alludes as well to past tragedies like the General Slocum, an excursion steamer that burned in the East River, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.)

More recently, his work has appeared (or will be appearing) in Mad Hatter and March HaresQueers Destroy Fantasy, The Doll Collection, Black Feathers, and The Eyes Of Jack Saul. He is currently writing stories for a “fix-up novel” (short stories stitched together into a novel) about a gay kid in 1950s Boston. In a closing quip, he thanked Barbara and the gathering “for helping me remember stuff about myself that I didn’t know.” (At one point, he attributed a memory lapse to “This is what Trump has done to me.”)

During the intermission, there was a raffle drawing for donors (suggested donation is $7, but no one is turned away), with the prizes being Bowes’ Minions of the Moon and “short short stories” in the form of haikus, plus a copy of Ford’s tribute essay.

Opening the second half of the evening, Freund revealed that, among his other talents, Bowes is a songwriter, and brought up Natti Vogel to sing a ditty, lyrics by Rick and his brother Jerry, “I’m Oedipus Rex” (to the tune of “I’m Henry VIII,” from long before Natti’s time):

I’m Oedipus Rex, I am,

Oedipus Rex, I am, I am.

I got married to the widow next door.

She was married to my father before.

Rehabilitating himself from that literary travesty, Bowes read a story from his fix-up novel about Kevin, a gay kid with a shadow, his doppelganger, and the opening pages from “There’s a Hole in the City,” set on the evening of the day after 9/11, smoke and dust still in the air (and a family of tourists tries to get past checkpoints to gawk at Ground Zero).

Then, to conclude the festivities, a birthday cake – a vanilla cake decorated by Randee Dawn – was brought out (only one candle) and Vogel led us in “Happy Birthday.” Finally, his sister came up to share brief reminiscences about her “amazing” and “remarkable” brother, “Ricky.” (He taught her how to play chess and how to give him backrubs.)

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books. The Café saw to more substantial food (and cake) needs.

The crowd of about 60 also included Rob Cameron, Madeline Flieger (Tech Director), Amy Goldschlager (filling in as ticket-taker for Barbara), Karen Heuler, Andrea Katz, Lynn Cohen Koehler, Matthew Kressel, Lissanne Lake, Brad Parks, David Mercurio Rivera, Pam Roberson, and Paul Witcover.

Pixel Scroll 12/7/18 Baby, It’s Scrolled Outside

(1) CARRYING ON. Pat Cadigan continues her series of Dispatches from Cancerland” with “Two Years Of Borrowed Time & I’m Still Not Dead”:

I’d love to write a lot of inspirational entries about still being alive but Buffy the Vampire Slayer was right when she said, ‘The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.’ It’s also the busiest. I’ve been so busy continuing to be alive, I haven’t had time to wax rhapsodic about continuing to be alive.

That my sound sarcastic but in truth, I wish I could. I wish I could tell you that every glitch and inconvenience, every little (and not so little) ache and pain, every boring chore and utterly grey day is a reminder that it’s still great to be alive and to know that I’m going to be alive for some indefinite period of time.

Cancer and I have reached a stand-off that puts it in the background of my life. In fact, it’s so much in the background that I really do forget I have it.

(2) MEXICANX INITIATIVE CELEBRATED. The “Mexicanx Initiative Scrapbook” brings back the memories:

This is a collection of memories, a spontaneous burst of creative works, a celebration of Mexicanx creators and fans, and a documentation of something that started with passion and a vision and grew into so much more.

The Mexicanx Initiative, started by Worldcon 76 Artist Guest of Honor, John Picacio, and sponsored by many wonderful and caring members of the Worldcon community, brought 42 Mexican and Mexican-American people to San Jose, California in August of 2018 to attend Worldcon 76.

Stories, essays, food, poems, art, and so much more were born of this experience….

(3) JEMISIN ON SHORT STORIES. Abigail Bercola discusses How Long ‘til Black Future Month with the author in “A True Utopia: An Interview With N. K. Jemisin” in The Paris Review.

INTERVIEWER

In the introduction to How Long ‘til Black Future Month?, you write that short stories presented a way for you to work out techniques and consider perspectives without the commitment of a novel. What else do short stories offer you that the novel doesn’t?

JEMISIN

Really, that’s the main thing. You’re still putting a pretty hefty mental commitment into making a short story. Even though it’s relatively brief, you still have to come up with a world that’s coherent. I find short stories almost as difficult to write as novels, it’s just less time-consuming. Short stories are hard for me. That’s why the collection is something like fifteen years worth of short stories. They asked me to write several new ones for the collection and I was just like, Not likely to happen. In fact, I can really only write them when I’m between novels because they take away from whatever energy I’m trying to pour into a novel.

(4) GATTS TAKES THE HELM. Giganotosaurus has someone new in charge: “Please Welcome Our New Editor, Elora Gatts”. Departing editor Rashida J. Smith makes the introduction —

I have the distinct joy to hand off the role of editor to Elora Gatts, recently of PodCastle. She is a keen and insightful reader and I can’t wait to read the stories she picks for the zine.

(5) A FUTURE WITHOUT HER. Wow. No sooner did she introduce The Verge’s “Better Worlds” than she was out.

(6) NYRSF’S TWELFTHMONTH. With the aid of C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez, the New York Review of SF Readings Series maintains its tradition of having families perform at the December gathering.

The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series provides performances from some of the best writers in science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, etc.  The series usually takes place the first Tuesday of every month,

C.S.E. Cooney lives and writes in the Borough of Queens. She is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, a Rhysling Award-winning poet, and the author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories (Mythic Delirium 2015).  Her recent short fiction can be found in Sword and Sonnet, an anthology of battle poets, and in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Carlos Hernandez is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and most recently, as part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney Hyperion, the novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019).  By day, Carlos is an associate professor of English at the City University of New York, with appointments at BMCC and the Graduate Center, and a game designer and enthusiast.  Catch him on Twitter @writeteachplay.

The event takes place December 11 at the Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7

(7) THE HUMANITY BUREAU. A dystopian thriller set in the year 2030 that sees the world in a permanent state of economic recession and facing serious environmental problems as a result of global warming. The film, starring, Nicolas Cage, Sarah Lind, and Jakob Davies, [correction] was released in April 2018.

(8) NEW CAR SPELL. When John Scalzi went to shift to a higher gear he discovered he’d already used his quota.

And is he getting any sympathy?

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 7, 1945 – Clive Russell. Currently Brynden Tully in Game of Thrones. Other genre roles include but are not limited to Helfdane in The 13th Warrior (a retelling of Beowulf), Mr. Vandemar in the Neverwhere series, Lancelot’s Father in King Arthur, Bayard in the Merlin series, Maqueen in the 2010 remake of the classic 1941 film The Wolfman, and Tyr in
    Thor: The Dark World.
  • Born December 7, 1945 – W.D. Richter. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
  • Born December 7, 1965 – Jeffrey Wright. Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace which I rather liked, Beetee in The Hunger Games films which I’ve not seen, and played the real-life Sidney Bechet in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a series I adored.
  • Born December 7, 1978 – Kristofer Hivju. His first genre role was as Jonas in The Thing, based on the John W. Campbell novella Who Goes There?, and it is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter. He next shows up as an unnamed security chief in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. He’s currently Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones.
  • Born December 7, 1979 – Jennifer Carpenter. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to Awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…
  • Born December 7, 1989 – Nicholas Hoult. His first genre role was as Eusebios in Clash of the Titans which was a 2010 remake of of the 1981 film of the same name. He went on to play The Beast aka Hank McCoy in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse. Other roles included that of Jack in Jack the Giant Slayer, followed by a role in Mad Max: Fury Road as Nux, and he’s slated to be in the forthcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

(10) OSCAR BUZZ. The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday interviews A Quiet Place director John krasinski, who says his film is worthy of an Oscar and voters should think of it as more substantial than the typical horror movie: “John Krasinski turned ‘A Quiet Place’ into a surprise hit. So how about an Oscar?”

John Krasinski knew he had a potential hit on his hands when he attended a test screening for “A Quiet Place.” A horror movie about a family battling largely unseen creatures who attack at the slightest noise, the film transpires with no verbal dialogue: The characters communicate with American Sign Language, or through meaningful glances and gestures. This wasn’t Krasinski’s first effort as a director; still, he and his wife, Emily Blunt — who play the parents in “A Quiet Place” — weren’t sure audiences would accept a genre picture that harked back to cinema’s silent roots more than its special effects-driven present.

(11) FUTURE PAST. Vintage Everyday remembers — “Closer Than We Think: 40 Visions of the Future World According to Arthur Radebaugh”.

From 1958 to 1962, illustrator and futurist Arthur Radebaugh thrilled newspaper readers with his weekly syndicated visions of the future, in a Sunday strip enticingly called “Closer Than We Think”.

Radebaugh was a commercial illustrator in Detroit when he began experimenting with imagery—fantastical skyscrapers and futuristic, streamlined cars—that he later described as “halfway between science fiction and designs for modern living.” Radebaugh’s career took a downward turn in the mid-1950s, as photography began to usurp illustrations in the advertising world. But he found a new outlet for his visions when he began illustrating a syndicated Sunday comic strip, “Closer Than We Think,” which debuted on January 12, 1958—just months after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik—with a portrayal of a “Satellite Space Station.” …


15. Electronic Home Library

The media library of the future was going to be rich and varied. But there’s something a bit off about this prediction from 1959. Maybe it’s the film canisters lining the shelves. Or maybe it’s the 3D-TV sans glasses that Pop is watching. Or maybe it’s the fact that Mother is reading a book on the ceiling in what looks like the most uncomfortable way to read a book of all time.

(12) TREK BEHIND THE SCENES. Titan Comics has released Star Trek: Epic Episodes, a special collection of the best of Star Trek Magazine focusing on the stunning 2-part episodes and landmark episodes of both Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Presenting cast and crew interviews, guides, behind the scenes exclusives and revelations on the making of everyone’s favorite epic episodes

(13) SPEAK, MEMORY.

(14) VADER WHIPLASH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] He’s alive! He’s dead! He’s alive! He’s Daaaaaaaaarth Vaderrrrrrrrr! (Gizmodo/io9: “Marvel Found a Replacement for Chuck Wendig’s Scrapped Darth Vader Comic Surprisingly Quickly”)

In the space of weeks, Marvel went from proudly announcing a new Darth Vader miniseries at New York Comic Con to scrapping the whole thing entirely. Now, less than a month later, they’ve already found a replacement.

Marvel has announced—via the official Star Wars websiteVader: Dark Visions, a new limited miniseries that will launch in March. That’s just two months after the Chuck-Wendig-penned Shadow of Vader miniseries was set to originally debut. Instead, days after its announcement in October, Marvel fired the writer from the project three issues in, with Wendig citing internal concern at the publisher over his political commentary on social media as a primary reason for his exit.

(15) TRAVELING MUSIC. Brian May, former lead guitarist for Queen and current astrophysicist, is writing a soundtrack for the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule scheduled for December 31/January 1 — Parabolic Arc has the story: “Brian May Creating New Music for New Horizons Ultima Thule Flyby”.

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TO BE CONTINUED !!! NEW !!! New Horizons ! Launched nearly 13 years ago from Cape Canaveral, this NASA probe made history with its spectacular fly-by of Pluto in 2015. Now it’s on course to fly close to Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day – 1st January 2019. This 60 second clip is the first of three brief tasters of my own new “New Horizons“ track, which will pay homage to this mission. We will reveal the song in full on 1st Jan. Visit the official NASA website at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ Image credit: NASA and APL. And watch this Space !!! Thanks to the mighty John Miceli for epic drums on this track. Thanks to the legendary Don Black for helping me write it. Also to my co-producers and engineers Justin Shirley-Smith and Kris Fredriksson. And respects to Kris for putting this clip together. And. Special thanks to NH Project Instigator Alan Stern. Bri

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on

(16) SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Paul Weimer finds new frontiers of fantasy in “Microreview [book]: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri” at Nerds of a Feather.

Empire of Sand is an immersive and compulsively readable epic fantasy that draws on traditions and cultures and milieus, the Mughal Empire, a culture and heritage hitherto rarely seen in the Western fantasy tradition.

(17) HOW TO FIND THEM. Todd Mason’s book review link post, “Friday’s “Forgotten” Books (and Short Fiction, Magazines, Comics and more): the links to the reviews: 7 December 2018″, will get you connected.

This week’s books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles” —

  • Frank Babics: The Reality Trip and Other Implausibilities by Robert Silverberg
  • Les Blatt: Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh
  • Elgin Bleecker: Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop
  • Brian Busby: Maclean’s, December 1918, edited by Thomas B. Costain (and featuring Robert Service’s poem “The Wife”)
  • Alice Chang: All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi
  • Martin Edwards: On Suspicion by “David Fletcher” (Dulan Barber)
  • Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics: December 1973 and the best of ’73
  • Will Errickson: Winter Wolves by Earle Westcott
  • Curtis Evans: Scared to Death and Death in the Round by Anne Morice
  • Paul Fraser: New Worlds, June 1965, edited by Michael Moorcock and Langdon Jones
  • Barry Gardner: Beggar’s Choice by Jerry Kennealy
  • John Grant: The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich; A Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh; The House by the Lock by A. M. Williamson
  • James Wallace Harris: Friday by Robert Heinlein
  • Rich Horton: Where I Wasn’t Going (aka Challenge the Hellmaker) by Walt and Leigh Richmond; Absolute Uncertainty (and other stories) by Lucy Sussex; some short fiction by John Crowley
  • Jerry House: Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines by Ray Bradbury
  • Kate Jackson: Courtier to Death by “Anthony Gilbert” (Lucy Malleson); Murder by Matchlight by E. C. R. Lorac
  • Tracy K: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger
  • Colman Keane; The First Short Story Collection by “Anonymous-9” (Elaine Ash)
  • George Kelley: The Great SF Stories 4 edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
  • Joe Kenney: Glimpses by Lewis Shiner
  • Margot Kinberg: The Invisible Onesby Stef Penney
  • Rob Kitchin: Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
  • B.V. Lawson: Five Passengers from Lisbon by Mignon G. Eberhart
  • Evan Lewis: Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard by L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin; Carmine Infantino et al.: “Charlie Chan: The Hit and Run Murder Case” (Charlie Chan, June/July 1948)
  • Jonathan Lewis: The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
  • Steve Lewis: Behold, Here’s Poison by Georgette Heyer; Blood Shot by Sara Paretsky; “Double Dare” by Robert Silverberg (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1956); “The Silver Mask Murders” by Erle Stanley Gardner (Detective Fiction Weekly, 23 November 1935)
  • Mike Lind: The Moving Target by “Ross Macdonald” (Kenneth Millar)
  • Gideon Marcus: Gamma, July 1963, edited by Charles Fritch
  • Todd Mason: some 1963 and 1973 fantasy magazines: Gamma, July 1963, edited by Charles Fritch; Magazine of Horror, August 1963, edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes; Fantastic, September 1973, edited by Ted White; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1973, edited by Edward Ferman; The Haunt of Horror, August 1973, edited by Gerard F. Conway
  • Francis M. Nevins: Q.E.D., Hell-Gate Tides and Dead End Street by [Emma] Lee Thayer
  • John F. Norris: Death at the Wheel by Vernon Loder
  • John O’Neill: The Fungus by “Harry Adam Knight” (John Brosnan and Leroy Kettle, in this case)
  • Matt Paust: Death of a Dissident by Stuart Kaminsky
  • James Reasoner: A Day Which Will Live in Infamy edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg
  • Richard Robinson: Stakeout on Page Street by Joe Gores
  • Gerard Saylor: The Zealot by Simon Scarrow
  • Jack Seabrook: “And the Desert Shall Blossom” by Loren D. Good (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 1958)
  • Steven H. Silver: “The Tweener” by Leigh Brackett; “Worlds within Worlds” by Roger Dee; “The Power of Kings” by John DeCles; “Intaglio” by Kurt R. A. Giambastiani; “In the Bosom of His Family” by John Dalmas; “Death in Transit” by Jerry Sohl; “Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction” by Jo Walton
  • Kerrie Smith: The Honourable Thiefby Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
  • Kevin Tipple: Snowjob by Ted Wood
  • “TomCat”: The Strawstack Murder Case by Kirke Mechem
  • Danielle Torres: Singing in Tune with Time: Stories and Poems About Ageingedited by Elizabeth Cairns
  • Prashant Trikannad: Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
  • David Vineyard: The Darkness at Windon Manor by “Max Brand” (Frederick Faust)
  • A.J. Wright: the work of W. C./William Chambers Morrow
  • Matthew Wuertz: Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1954, edited by H. L. Gold

(18) ROCKET MAN. iCollector is offering this item for another six days — “Bill Campbell “Rocketeer” costume ensemble with hero metal rocket pack”. They’re looking for a $125,000 bid.

Extraordinary ensemble includes the hero metal Cirrus X3 Art Deco-styled “flame” rocket pack with leather harness and buckles, glove with built-in ignition trigger, signature leather jacket, fireproof stunt jodhpur pants, and a production made signature Rocketeer helmet.

(19) SONGS FOR SCROLL SEASONS. Matthew Johnson reworked a carol in comments:

Hark! The herald pixels scroll
“The comment section’s free of trolls!
Double fifths and sevens filed
Dog and shoggoth reconciled.”
Joyful, all you Filers rise,
For new books are on half-price;
When a typo you proclaim
Of libations appertain.
Hark! The herald pixels file,
Rotating the WABAC dial,
“From Mount Tsundoku’s overlook
I see cats sitting on my books.”

And I’m told Anna Nimmhaus has been singing:

Pixel scroll,
Oh my little pixel scroll,
I’ll comment to you.

You were my first love,
And you’ll be my fifth love,
You won’t lack for egoboo,
I’ll comment to you.

In this whole world
Each day one scroll’s unfurled,
Let me help it unfurl.
I’ll comment to you.

Possibly inspired by the Shirelles’ hit song “Soldier Boy” (F. Green & L. Dixon, 1962)

(20) CALL ME WHATSISNAME. Could it be… Moby Dick in space? In theaters December 14.

When a deep space fishing vessel is robbed by a gang of pirates, the Captain (Holt McCallany) makes a daring decision to go after a rare and nearly extinct species. On the hunt, his obsession propels them further into space and danger as the crew spins into a downward spiral of mutiny and betrayal.

 

[Thanks to Paul Di Filippo, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/23/2018 If You’re Filing To ScrollFrancisco, Be Sure To Wear Some Pixels In Your Hair

(1) DOZOIS REMEMBERED AT NYRSF. Via David Langford comes news that New York Review of Science Fiction #349, a Special Gardner Dozois Memorial Issue, is available as a free download.

Memories, anecdotes, appreciations, confessions, and clickbait, from:

Michael Bishop • F. Brett Cox • Jack Dann Samuel R. Delany • Andy Duncan Greg Frost • Eileen Gunn • Joe Haldeman John Kessel • Nancy Kress • George R.R. Martin • Mike Resnick Darrell Schweitzer • Nisi Shawl Allen M. Steele • Michael Swanwick Lynne M. & Michael Damian Thomas Gordon Van Gelder • Howard Waldrop Patty Wells • Henry Wessells Fran Wilde • Sheila Williams

Michael Swanwick’s contribution leads off the issue:

Daredevil: Gardner appeared as a character in a Daredevil comic book. I am not kidding you. It was a minor role. His friend George Alec Effinger, aka “Piglet,” played a larger part in the plot, much to Gardner’s pretended chagrin. “I don’t know why I couldn’t get to beat up crooks,” he would say. “Piglet did!”

Eccentrics: Susan Casper loved to relate how she had once overheard two writers bemoaning the fact that, with the deaths of some of the founding fathers of science fiction, there were no longer any great eccentrics in the genre. Those two writers were Gardner and Howard Waldrop.

(2) INVALUABLE MAPS. The Guardian has three excerpts from The Writer’s Map, An Atlas of Imaginary Lands, ed. Hew Lewis-Jones.  In the excerpts, called “Wizards, Moomins and pirates: the magic and mystery of literary maps”,  Frances Hardinge discusses the map she made of Tove Jansson’s Moominland, Miraphora Mina writes about the Marauder’s Map featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Robert Macfarlane writes about his map of Treasure Island.

I remember poring over the Moominland map at the front of Tove Jansson’s Finn Family Moomintroll. The map is homely, crowded and jubilantly out of scale, yet also haunting. Like the books themselves, the map always touched me with a gentle and inexplicable sadness. I imagined the Lonely Mountains isolated by their own vastness and strangeness, their slow, cold hearts filled with a drear and incurable loneliness.

But even then I noticed that one feature of the little map was not accurate, except in the sense that a stopped clock is right twice a day. Near a bridge is drawn a small tent, and beside it sits a little figure in a tapering hat. This is clearly meant to show the campsite of the green-clad, harmonica-playing Snufkin. But Snufkin cannot be pinned to a location so easily. He is an inveterate nomad, vanishing from the Moominvalley for long months at a time, then returning without warning or explanation. He was probably packing up his tent before the ink on the map had dried.

(3) NARCOTIC POWERS. Lev Grossman also endorses the cartographic impulse at Literary Hub: “Lev Grossman: Why We’ve Always Needed Fantastic Maps”.

I mention this as one example of the strange narcotic power that maps have, especially fictional ones, even when they’re present only in trace quantities. Of course I also had the usual transports over maps of Middle-earth, and Narnia, and the archipelagos of Earthsea, and the Hundred Acre Wood, and The Lands Beyond, where The Phantom Tollbooth took place. But I could get a contact high just from the cartographical border of the Uncle Wiggily board game. All maps are fascinating, but there’s something extra-mesmerizing about maps of places that don’t exist. Maps are part of the apparatus of reality, and the navigation thereof. There’s a subversive, electric pleasure in seeing them miswired up to someplace fictional. In most cases, the closest you can get to actually visiting the land in a fictional map is by reading about it. But in my youth I got a little closer. I did this by playing Dungeons & Dragons.

(4) DEMOLITION AND SALVAGE. Aliette de Bodard has a guest post on Chuck Wendig’s blog about “Cannibalizing A Draft (Or: The Art Of Rewriting)”.

…I looked at my field of ashes draft and thought I might as well toss it in the bin: usually I manage to salvage scenes but this felt like no single scene was working properly.

I moped for a couple of weeks (a totally writer thing to do! Well, at least this writer!) And then I sat down, turned to a fresh page in my brainstorming notebook, and wrote, very deliberately, “list of current scenes in the draft”, and “list of scenes I would like in new draft” (ok, it might have been a teensy bit more cryptic since they were notes to myself). I also took another notebook and did pages of brain dumps that were essentially me talking to myself about what I needed to fix. Writing it down without judgement was actually super helpful to unlock the issues and possible fixes: since it was longhand and not on a computer, I didn’t feel like it was a final story or even graven in stone. It forced me to keep thinking, to keep track of what I was doing, but not in a way that paralyzed me….

(5) HE CONTROLS THE VERTICAL. While it’s cliché to ask an sf writer “Where do you get your ideas?”, Alastair Reynolds is happy to tell you where he got one of his — “Oh, Atlanta”.

I haven’t been back to Atlanta since 1992, but the hotel did have one lingering influence on my work which that article prompts me to mention. Those swooping interior elevators left a big mark on me, and when I came to write Revelation Space – which I started later that year – they became the model for the elevators in the Nostalgia for Infinity, especially the part where Ilia Volyova’s elevator plunges through the vast interior of the cache chamber. When, in Chapter Two, Ilia’s elevator announces its arrival at the “atrium” and “concierge” levels, that’s all down to the Marriot Marquis. I’d never been in an elevator that spoke before.

(6) TOUGH DAY FOR WOMBATS. My goodness!

(7) LOVECRAFT CONTINUES. Paul St.John Mackintosh considers the writers who are “Revising Lovecraft: The Mutant Mythos” in the LA Review of Books.

You can’t understand Lovecraft’s conflation of personal miscegenation and hereditary flaws with outside threats, social decay, and vast panoramas of evolution across Deep Time without first understanding the turn-of-the-century traditions within mainstream experimental literature and polemical pseudo-scientific writing that influenced him. Lovecraft may have been a bizarre, original outlier in the context of 1920s horror or science fiction, but he was completely comprehensible (and even representative) within these older and larger traditions. Many other far-right literary figures on both sides of World War I share much of Lovecraft’s grab-bag of Symbolist, Decadent, Spenglerian, and world-weary fin-de-siècle values and tropes. Period clichés of Yellow Book dandyism and racial doomsaying abound in this context. D’Annunzio, Hamsun, and Jean Lorrain would all have recognized a kindred spirit in Lovecraft, and period readers of Max Nordau’s Degeneration and sponsors of the Race Betterment Foundation would recognize familiar ideas, thinly recast, in Lovecraft’s oeuvre.

(8) RESISTANCE. Eneasz Brodski at Death Is Bad comes out “Against ‘Networking’”.

…So I hate it when people refer to going to these sorts of events as “networking.” I dislike the whole concept of networking. It makes people feel like tools. Networking implies business. It’s about profit and career. I never approach a friend with “Hey, you wanna network on Saturday?” I never ask a partner “Hey, I miss you, haven’t networked with you in a bit, got plans this weekend?” So why the hell am I “networking” at a convention about one of my passions in life?

I blame capitalism. Apparently one can’t even have fun without feeling guilty, unless it’s about advancing oneself in life. >:( I just like meeting people and talking and making acquaintances. I don’t expect anything from any of these evenings except a fun evening.…

(9) STILL GOLDEN. The Scientific American blog presents a profile of sff writer James Gunn, “Can Science Fiction Save the World?”

There was once a time when robots roamed the surface of Mercury, when a shape-shifting alien emerged from the ice of Antarctica, and when a galactic empire of 25 million planets spanned the Milky Way. It was called the “Golden Age” of science fiction, the period from the late 1930s to the late 1940s, when pioneering authors such as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein wrote their first mind-bending stories. And though newer literary movements have mutated sci-fi’s DNA since then, the last surviving storyteller of the Golden Age—95-year-old James Gunn—is still writing.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 23, 1918 – James Daly, Actor known best to genre fans as Flint in the Star Trek original series episode “Requiem for Methuselah”. He also played the simian prosecutor in Planet of the Apes, and had the role of the sinister pioneering doctor in what was possibly the first movie about providing organ transplants from the body parts of clones, The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler. In addition to roles on The Invaders, Mission: Impossible, The Twilight Zone, and The Evil Touch, he appeared in the Wernher von Braun docudrama I Aim at the Stars.
  • Born October 23, 1919 – Roy Lavender, Aerospace Engineer, Writer, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom. He was one of the early members of the Cincinnati Fantasy Group (the third-oldest continuously running SF fan club), a member of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, and a co-founder of Midwestcon. He sent out an annual newsletter in which he discussed both scientific and science-fictional subjects. He and his wife, DeeDee (who was also a member of First Fandom) played instrumental roles in the planning and running of Cinvention, the 7th Worldcon, in 1949. He later moved from Ohio to California, where he was part of John and Bjo Trimbles’ sercon (serious and constructive) fan group The Petards, formed to actually discuss SF books (out of disgust with those feckless socializers in LASFS). He was Fan Guest of Honor at Kubla Khatch in 1994.
  • Born October 23, 1942 – Michael Crichton, Physician (non-practicing), Writer, Director, and Producer who became disillusioned with medicine after graduating from Harvard Medical School. He went on to write many genre novels which were made into movies (or vice-versa), including the Hugo-nominated Westworld and The Andromeda Strain (which won a Seiun Award), The Terminal Man, Sphere, the Hugo-winning Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Eaters of the Dead (filmed as The 13th Warrior), and Timeline. He wrote and directed Looker, which is notable for being the first commercial film to attempt to make a realistic computer-generated character, and was also the first film to create 3D shading with a computer, months before the release of the better-known Tron. (JJ is sorry to report that The Suck Fairy has had a go at many of these films – sometimes before they even got to the theaters! – but at least Timeline had the virtue of featuring Billy Connolly, Gerard Butler and Marton Csokas.)
  • Born October 23, 1950 – Wolf Muser, 68, Actor originally from Germany who has had recurring roles on Alias, Grimm, and The Man in the High Castle, guest roles in episodes of Carnivale, Timecop, and Misfits of Science, and appearances in the films Kiss Me Goodbye, Pandora’s Clock, and Final Equinox. He played a major role in The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery, an interactive movie point-and-click adventure game released by Sierra On-Line in 1995 which was produced entirely in full motion video, was noted by a reviewer for being “one of the few computer games to actually involve personal, meaningful growth in a player-character”, and was named Game of the Year by Computer Gaming World.
  • Born October 23, 1953 – Ira Steven Behr, 65, Television producer and screenwriter, most known for his work first on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but especially on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, for which he served as showrunner and executive producer, and for which he wrote 53 episodes. He also had a hand in such genre series as Dark Angel, The 4400, The (new) Twilight Zone, Alphas, and Outlander, for which he is Executive Producer. He is credited with the DS9 novel The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, and he has been the driving force, as producer, behind the DS9 documentary What We Left Behind, which is now premiering in selected theaters.
  • Born October 23, 1959 – Sam Raimi, 59, Writer, Director, and Producer known for his frequently over-the-top genre works, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Young Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess, the cult horror Evil Dead series, the original, Hugo-nominated Spider-Man trilogy, Darkman, and Oz the Great and Powerful. Okay, he produces lots of popcorn video. Let’s now give this writeup a true genre connection: Kage Baker, who was a dyed-in-the-wool Bruce Campbell fan, reviewed not only The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. for us over at Green Man Review, but she did a very nice look at Jack of All Trades, which Raimi produced and of which Campbell is the star. For your reading pleasure, here’s the review: Jack of All Trades: The DVD Set.
  • Born October 23, 1969 – Trudi Canavan, 49, Graphic Artist, Writer and Fan from Australia who started her own graphic design business and became editor of the Australian fantasy and science fiction magazine Aurealis, where she was responsible for the cover art and design, reading manuscripts, and maintaining the website. During this time, she took up writing, and went on to win Ditmar and Aurealis Awards, first for her short fiction, and then for her novels. She has done covers and many interior illustrations for books and magazines, and received two Ditmar nominations for Best Artwork. She has been a Guest of Honour at numerous conventions, including the Australian and New Zealand National Conventions, and Denmark’s Fantasy Festival.
  • Born October 23, 1970 – Grant Imahara, 48, Engineer, Roboticist, TV Host, and Actor who is probably best known for his work building robots and providing engineering and computer support on the Mythbusters TV series, which, using scientific methodology, engages in spectacular tests of myths and fictional book and movie scenes. He started his career at Lucasfilm’s THX and ILM divisions, working on special effects for many blockbusters including the Star Wars, Terminator, Matrix, and Jurassic Park films. He has made appearances on Battlebots with his robot Deadblow, and had cameo appearances in episodes of Eureka and The Guild. He also portrayed Mr. Sulu in the Star Trek Continues webseries, and had a role in the fan film Star Trek: Renegades.
  • Born October 23, 1976 – Ryan Reynolds, 42, Actor and Producer from Canada who had early roles in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boltneck, Blade: Trinity, The Amityville Horror remake, and The Nines, before being tapped to play Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He has since appeared as that wisecracking character in two, now going on three, Deadpool movies and associated shorts and cameos in related films, including in the Celine Dion video for the music from Deadpool 2. No, there was no such thing as a Green Lantern movie, that was just a figment of your imagination.
  • Born October 23, 1986 – Emilia Clarke, 32, Actor from England who has become famous for playing Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen in the Hugo-winning series Game of Thrones – a role for which she has received Emmy and Saturn nominations. She also played major roles in Terminator Genisys (as Sarah Connor) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (sans dragons). She auctioned a chance to watch an episode of Game of Thrones with her, which raised more than $120,000 for a Haitian Disaster Relief Organization.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • This Close To Home joke won’t be too obscure after all the time spent on the Ark in recent comments.
  • Faceblindness is inevitable in this case — Off the Mark.

(12) GRAHAM JOYCE. A 1998 interview with speculative fiction writer Graham Joyce, recipient of numerous awards, including the O. Henry Award and the World Fantasy Award, has just been uploaded — “Graham Joyce BBC Radio Leicester Interview 1998”.

(13) GOING CONCERN. This could be bad news — “Microplastics Are Turning Up Everywhere, Even In Human Excrement” – and it could be worse news if they aren’t leaving the body.

Microplastics have been found in human stool samples from countries in many parts of the world, according to a small pilot study being presented this week at the 26th annual United European Gastroenterology conference in Vienna.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Medical University of Vienna and the Environment Agency Austria, looked at stool samples from eight individuals in eight different countries: Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the U.K. and Austria. Every stool sample tested positive for up to nine different plastic types, with an average of 20 particles of plastic per 10 grams of stool.

“Personally, I did not expect that each sample would … [test] … positive,” says lead researcher Dr. Philipp Schwabl of the Medical University of Vienna. He and his colleagues found that all eight stool samples contained polypropylene and polyethylene-terephthalate particles, which are major components of plastic bottle caps and plastic bottles. “Is it harmful to human health? That’s a very important question and we are planning further investigations.”

(14) CODE THREE. BBC says “Shipwreck found in Black Sea is ‘world’s oldest intact'”. It matches a portrayal of Odysseus and the Sirens.

A Greek merchant ship dating back more than 2,400 years has been found lying on its side off the Bulgarian coast.

The 23m (75ft) wreck, found in the Black Sea by an Anglo-Bulgarian team, is being hailed as officially the world’s oldest known intact shipwreck.

The researchers were stunned to find the merchant vessel closely resembled in design a ship that decorated ancient Greek wine vases.

The rudder, rowing benches and even the contents of its hold remain intact.

… The vessel is similar in style to that depicted by the so-called Siren Painter on the Siren Vase in the British Museum. Dating back to around 480 BC, the vase shows Odysseus strapped to the mast as his ship sails past three mythical sea nymphs whose tune was thought to drive sailors to their deaths.

(15) MORE BOMB THEORIES. Steven Zetichik in the Washington Post looks at the box-office failure of First Man (Peter Rabbit did better!) and says two reasons are that the film opened as a wide release, whereas director Damian Chazelle’s other two films, Whiplash and La La Land, opened in limited releases and built momentum.  Also, the film didn’t do as well in space-friendly Houston and Los Angeles because Astros and Dodgers fans were too deeply involved in the playoffs to think about movies — “The Neil Armstrong movie appears to be flopping because of Marco Rubio. The truth is more complicated.”.

Some Hollywood pundits certainly thought so. In a post on the trade site Deadline, Michael Cieply asked, “What Do Words Cost? For ‘First Man,’ Perhaps, Quite A Lot,” and broke down the box-office underperformance by the word count in Gosling’s interview. Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter columnist Scott Feinberg advanced the theory even more directly.

“FIRST MAN got Swiftboated,” he posted on Twitter, referring to the politically motivated set of attacks during the 2004 presidential election about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record. “I genuinely believe its box-office performance was undercut by the BS about the planting of the American flag.”

He makes a potent case, given the decibel level of the controversy and the fact that “First Man” contains subject matter that might be expected to play strongly in red states.

But this political question, attention-grabbing as it is, ignores more nuts-and-bolts movie issues that were just as likely to have a significant impact, relating as much to how and when the film was released as to what a politician was tweeting about it.

(16) VINTAGE HOODIE. Don’t let the reception for First Man dissuade you from ordering the “3D Neil Armstrong space suite Tshirt – Zip Hoodie”!

(17) I THE JURY. Fantasy Literature’s Sandy Ferber finally has a chance to render a verdict: From Hell It Came: Kimo therapy”.

Back in the 1960s, when I was just a young lad and when there were only three major television stations to contend with, The New York Times used to make pithy commentaries, in their TV section, regarding films that were to be aired that day. I have never forgotten the terse words that the paper issued for the 1957 cult item From Hell It Came. In one of the most succinct pans ever written, the editors simply wrote: “Back send it.” Well, I have waited years to find out if this hilarious put-down was justified or not, and now that I have finally succeeded in catching up with this one-of-a-kind cult item, have to say that I feel the Times people may have been a bit too harsh in their assessment….

(18) FILLED WITH PORPOISE. From SciFiNow we learn “Mary Poppins Returns first look video previews a new song”:

Mary Poppins Returns will be set in Depression-era London and follow now-grown up versions of Jane and Michael Banks, as well as Michael’s three children who are visited by Poppins following a personal loss….

 

(19) WHO DARES WINS. John Hertz, who once met Grace Slick, dares to conceive further attention to a parody (first offered in comments by Bonnie McDaniel) —

[Based on “White Rabbit”, G. Slick 1967]

When the pixels
From the day’s scroll
Get up and tell you where to go,
And you’ve just had some kind of comment
And your cursor’s moving, oh —
Go ask Glyer.
I think he’ll know.

When logic and proportion
Won’t even keep credentials fed,
And Camestros is hoaxing Hampus,
And Anna Nimmhaus’ titles are dead,
Remember
What the Filers said:
Get books read.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John A Arkansawyer, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

A Celebration of Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10th Anniversary Will Begin NYRSF Readings Season

The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series kicks off its 28th season on October 2 with an evening devoted to the 10th anniversary of online sff magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

In ten years, BCS has published over 550 stories and 225 audio podcasts; the magazine or its stories have been finalists for seven Hugo Awards, nine World Fantasy Awards, three Nebula Awards, and numerous other short fiction, magazine, and podcast awards.

The evening’s host will be Scott H. Andrews. Featured authors will be: Fran Wilde, Martin Cahill, Seth Dickinson, Jonathan Edelstein, Rose Lemberg (read by C.S.E. Cooney), & Aliette de Bodard (read by Scott H. Andrews)


Scott H. Andrews

Scott H. Andrews

Scott H. Andrews is a writer, editor, chemistry lecturer, musician, woodworker, and connoisseur of stouts. His literary short fiction has won a $1,000 prize from the Briar Cliff Review, and his genre short fiction has appeared in Ann VanderMeer’s Weird Tales and in On Spec. He is editor-in-chief and publisher of the four-time Hugo Award-finalist fantasy e-zine Beneath Ceaseless Skies and its five-time Parsec Award finalist podcast. Scott lives in Virginia with his wife, two cats, 11 guitars, a dozen overflowing bookcases, and hundreds of beer bottles from all over the world.

 

 


Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde. Photo by Bryan Derballa

Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. She can also tie a bunch of sailing knots, set gemstones, and program digital minions. Her novels and short stories have been finalists for three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and two Hugo Awards, and include her Andre Norton- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel Updraft, its sequels Cloudbound, and Horizon, and the Nebula-, Hugo-, and Locus-nominated novelette The Jewel and Her Lapidary. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. Her poetry has appeared in The Marlboro Review, Articulate, and Poetry Baltimore. She holds an MFA in poetry and an MA in information architecture and interaction design. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and at FranWilde.net.


Martin Cahill

Martin Cahil

Martin Cahill is a writer working in Manhattan and living in Astoria, Queens. He is a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Writers’ Workshop and a member of the New York City based writing group, Altered Fluid. He has had fiction published in Fireside Fiction, Nightmare, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, and Lightspeed. Martin also writes non-fiction reviews, articles, and essays for Book Riot, Tor.com, the Barnes & Noble Sci-fi and Fantasy Blog, and Strange Horizons.

 


Seth Dickinson

Seth Dickinson’s debut novel The Traitor Baru Cormorant (2015), a hard fantasy expansion of a 2011 short story in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, is about a brilliant young woman who sets out to gain power to subvert an empire from within. It won praise from Publishers Weekly and NPR, and its sequel, The Monster Baru Cormorant, is forthcoming in October 2018. Seth’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and nearly every other major science fiction and fantasy market. He’s a lapsed student of social neuroscience, where he studied the role of racial bias in police shootings, and the writer of much of the lore and fictional flavor for Bungie Studios’ smash hit Destiny. In his spare time he works on the collaborative space opera Blue Planet: War in Heaven.


Jonathan Edelstein

Jonathan Edelstein is forty-six years old, married with cat, and living in New York City. His work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Lacuna Journal, and multiple times in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and he blogs occasionally at haibane.info/author/jonnaomi/. He counts Ursula Le Guin and Bernard Cornwell among his inspirations, and when he isn’t writing, he practices law and hopes someday to get it right.


Rose Lemberg

Rose Lemberg

Rose Lemberg is a queer immigrant from Eastern Europe. Their work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Interfictions, Uncanny, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, and multiple times in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among other venues, and their story “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies was a finalist for the Nebula Awards. Rose co-edits Stone Telling, a magazine of boundary-crossing poetry, with Shweta Narayan. They have edited Here, We Cross, an anthology of queer and gender-fluid speculative poetry from Stone Telling and The Moment of Change, an anthology of feminist speculative poetry. You can find Rose at roselemberg.net and @roselemberg, including links to their page on Patreon, where they post about Birdverse, the world in which their BCS stories and others take place. Rose Lemberg’s work will be read by C.S.E. Cooney. 


C.S.E. Cooney

C.S.E. Cooney

C.S.E. Cooney is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning short fiction collection Bone Swans: Stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories which have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective, a murder mystery set on a space station in a Vietnamese Galactic empire and inspired by the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist) and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns. Visit her at aliettedebodard.com for writing process and Franco-Vietnamese cooking. Aliette de Bodard’s work will be read by Scott H. Andrews.


Jim Freund is Producer and Executive Curator of The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings.

WHEN:
Tuesday, October 2nd
Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7

WHERE:
The Brooklyn Commons Café
388 Atlantic Avenue  (between Hoyt & Bond St.)

The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series provides performances from some of the best writers in science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, etc.  The series usually takes place the first Tuesday of every month.

Mayday! NYRSF Readings Series Presents Jo Walton and Ilana C. Myer

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, May 1 – May Day – the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series hosted readings by fantasy writers Jo Walton and Ilana C. Myer at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café, down the road apiece and third star to the left from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

(Mayday indeed. The Series’ original plans for May Day, a tentatively scheduled celebration of the life of Ama Paterson, fell through, but the two replacement readers were no mere consolation prize. The evening was a delight.)

In his introductory welcome (he thought of the day more as Beltane than as May Day), executive curator Jim Freund, host of  WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (which broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1-3 am), cautioned us that the event was being Livestreamed (so watch out) and asked all who could donate to donate (suggested amount $7), adding that WBAI (two floors above) was in a fundraising drive. He then announced upcoming events:

  • June 5 – A Tribute to Thomas M. Disch, with guest curator Henry Wessels, featuring Brendan Byrne, John Clute, Gregory Feeley, Elizabeth Hand, et al.
  • July – TBD
  • August 7 – A Launch Party/Reading for Sunspot Jungle, with guest curator Bill Campbell

June, he noted, marks 10 years since Disch’s final reading for the Series, a bare month before his death. Feeley, aside from his credentials as author and critic, is the executor of Disch’s estate. Campbell’s anthology was described by Freund as “bleeping [sic] massive.” June’s event would close out the Series’ 27th Season, with July and August as its Summer Season. Concluding, Freund introduced the evening’s first reader.

Journalist and cultural critic and reviewer (as Ilana Teitelbaum) Ilana C. Myer is the author of the novels Last Song Before Night and Fire Dance. She read from Fire Dance, which she described as a stand-alone sequel to Last Song Before Night, and a blend of Celtic myth and Middle Eastern magic, where poets/musicians have mystical/mental powers.

During the intermission, as traditional, a raffle was held for donors; the prizes were a copy of Fire Dance (Jim Ryan drew the tickets and, as it happened, the winner was his wife Susan – no collusion, no collusion!) and a copy of Starlings. Afterward, Freund introduced the second and final reader.

Jo Walton has published thirteen novels, among others the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Among Others; her fourteenth, Lent, is due out from Tor soon. She has also just published Starlings, a collection of short stories, poetry and a play. Additionally, her blog posts about older sf have been collected in a volume called What Makes This Book So Great, while An Informal History of the Hugos collects her blog posts about nominees and winners from 1953 to 2000. Walton has said that her plan is to live to be ninety-nine and write a book every year; she noted that she has a good start this year.

With a mind to next month’s tribute to Disch, she began by reading her essay on his On Wings of Song from An Informal History of the Hugos. She described the work as “brilliant, depressing and hilarious … as if Dostoevsky and Douglas Adams had collaborated on the Great American Novel.” She then read an abundance of selections from Starlings, enlivened by her rich Welsh accent. (Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams may not like the birds, but she does.)

She began with the eponymous “Starlings,” a short serious poem, then shifted to the uproariously absurd “Remember the Allosaur,” in which Cedric, the titular theropod (he’s a clone), has had quite the Hollywood career, even winning an Oscar for his portrayal of Othello. In “Joyful and Triumphant: St. Zenobias and the Aliens,” a Christmas posting on LiveJournal, she addresses the question of what do people do in Heaven? There are a lot of planets out there, and human and alien saints, we are told, may manifest on each other’s world; the “lucky” ones don’t become patron saints, but are free to engage in “the Great Work,” worship. “At the Bottom of the Garden” was written when her son was that age. A little girl captures a fairy man and – well, Walton had “read one too many fairy flower books.”

In “Out of It,” a damned soul, John (as his wife’s name is Helen, we presume that his was originally Johann), is asked if his bargain with Mephistopheles (which has affected history for good and ill) was worth it or if he should renounce it. “Parable Lost” is a story that has “everything in the universe” – almost – and starts with a man (call him Adam) throwing jellyfish (which are and aren’t metaphorical) into the sea. Is he helping them or thwarting the Plan for them, and what should the woman (Eve) do?

“Dragon’s Song” was a poem about dragons as they appear in many ballads. She next turned to that modern incarnation of firebreathing dragons in her cycle of “Godzilla Sonnets”: “Godzilla vs. Shakespeare,” “Godzilla in Shakespeare,” “Godzilla Weeps for Baldur,” “Godzilla in Love” and “Godzilla at Colonus.” She concluded her readings with “Three Bears Norse,” the Goldilocks story retold as a Norse saga – the bears vow revenge against the despoiler of their home, beds and porridge.

Among those present in the audience of about 30 were Richard Bowes, Susan Bratisher, Madeline Flieger (video and tech ops), Amy Goldschlager, Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok and James Ryan. Throughout the evening and following the readings, members of the audience availed themselves of the Café’s food, coffee bar, beer and wine. (Tip your barista!) As customary, the Jenna freebie table offered books.

Alternate History and Futurity, With Dragons and Samurai: NYSF Readings Feature Chris Claremont and Chandler Klang Smith

By Mark L. Blackman: On the rainy (though not snowy) evening of Tuesday, April 3, at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in Downtownish Brooklyn, the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series featured offerings from authors Chris Claremont and Chandler Klang Smith. The event was guest-hosted by Amy Goldschlager, an editor, proofreader, book/audiobook reviewer, and a past Curator of the Series.

Jim Freund, the Series’ Producer and Executive Curator, and the host of WBAI’s long-running Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy, welcomed the audience and guests, cautioning again that the event was being Livestreamed. It was, he said the 50th anniversary of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it would be marked the next night on Hour of the Wolf (Wednesday night/Thursday morning, 1-3 am, WBAI, 99.5 FM). (He teased that the story that was Kubrick’s inspiration wasn’t “The Sentinel!”) Tonight, though, he went on, tongue firmly in cheek, was the viewing party for Legion (Season 2 was premiering at 10 pm on FX – Claremont’s X-Men stories are the source material for the series – and, in truth, there was a more official event on the West Coast). After appealing for those who could to donate to support the Series (readings are free, with a suggested donation of $7, but no one is turned away), and thanking House Manager Barbara Krasnoff, Tech Ops Madeline Flieger, Tech Director Terence Taylor (not present, he was rather the Text Director) and the Café (tip the baristas!), he announced upcoming NYRSF readings:

  • May Day 1st (still tent.): In Memory of Ama Paterson, with Pan Morigan, Andrea Hairston and Sheree Renée Thomas
  • June 5th (tent.): A Tribute to Thomas M. Disch, with Guest Curator Henry Wessels

July was unbooked at present, August would be a launch party for Bill Campbell’s two-part anthology, and the 28th Season would open in September with a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. He concluded by turning things over to the evening’s guest curator, Amy Goldschlager.

We have “two great readers tonight,” she began, before introducing the first, Chandler Klang Smith, quipping that this was “the last stop on her New York tour”. (She’d read two weeks earlier at the KGB Bar.) Her new novel The Sky Is Yours, we were informed, was listed by Entertainment Weekly as a “Best New Book.” Tor.com and Lit Hub compared it favorably with Infinite Jest, The Wall Street Journal called it “mesmeric … a great and disturbing debut,” and NPR described it as “a wickedly satirical synthesis that underlines just how fractured our own realities can be during periods of fear, unrest, inequality and instability.” Goldschlager added that it was “a very New York kind of novel.”

Smith, who read from the novel, concurred; Empire Island is loosely based on a future New York City, one with flying, fire-spitting dragons. Duncan Ripple V, scion of a wealthy family, is haunted by, then conscripted by, the Phantom Fireman, aka the faceless Leather Lungs, to be his protégé fighting dragon fires, as you’d expect, a major threat to the largely ravaged city.

During the intermission, there was a “very cool raffle,” a drawing for those who had donated, with the prizes being an Advanced Reading Copy (“ARC”) of The Sky Is Yours and a copy of Nightcrawler (which was fittingly won by a young fan).

Chris Claremont

Chris Claremont, the evening’s second reader, is, of course, best-known for his unbroken 17-year run on Marvel Comics’ The Uncanny X-Men. (His story arc “Dark Phoenix” is the source material for next year’s major release Dark Phoenix, which will be mainstreamed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) Additionally, he has published nine novels, with more on the way. (As a fascinating aside, his papers are archived in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University, “right down the hall from three Gutenberg Bibles.”)

As part of the course he’s teaching at NYU in writing graphic novels (“The challenge of not being Frank Miller,” he noted, is having to find an artist), he wrote a sample story; his offering, a work-in-progress, grew out of that story. In our history, Kublai Khan tried to conquer Japan, but his fleet was blown off course by “the Divine Wind.” In his alternate history, China succeeds and the Samurai flee in boats, settling in the Hawaiian Islands, as well as in Alaska and California. Over the next few centuries, they bond with the indigenous peoples and spread, so that when Europeans arrive, they find an integrated warrior society, with horses. Thus, in the 21st century, the British domains (there is no American Revolution) end at the Alleghenys – however, somehow technology is present-day (the Internet, planes, GPS and CSIs), though we might quibble that different geopolitics would lead to technological divergences – and when a Maui-born girl is murdered in the no-man’s-land of Ohio, there’s a joint Anglo-Indigene investigation (and “spy stuff” … and unaccountably, there are dragons).

A Q-&-A session brought, the host and readers back to the platform, but it quickly mutated (sorry). Replying to a question, Claremont said that the impetus for the story was wondering why did the history of the Americas have to be Eurocentric? In this version, someone else got here first, and having been evicted from Japan by China, they resist the European invaders. He was next asked about writing comics. Whereas writing novels is a solo act, the comics writer has to communicate the story visually to the artist so that they can draw it (and different artists have different approaches). There has to be a balance of image and expository dialog, and additionally, the writer has to direct the action from the upper left to the bottom right and get the reader to turn to the next page. When there’s synergy between writer and artist, he said, it’s “mainstream comics at their best.” (As a reviewer, Goldschlager noted that doing audiobooks of graphic novels doesn’t work.) Neatly closing a circle, Claremont praised the cinematography of 2001 and “Kubrick’s genius” in having the ship slowly and silently move through space to a waltz. (Comics can afford better special effects than movies, and they can be done faster.)

As traditional, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, and, it being the 5th night of Passover, several sheets of matzoh.

The audience, which exceeded 50, included Sue Hollister Barr, Melissa C. Beckman, Susan Bratisher, Karen Heuler, Alexa and Nicholas Kaufmann, Barbara Krasnoff, Gordon Linsner, Herschel M. Rothman, and James Ryan. Over the course of the evening and afterward, and, for some, despite the holiday, many audience members availed themselves of the Café’s food, coffee bar, beer and wine.

Cadaver & Angel: NYSF Readings Feature Kwitney & Kaufmann

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, March 6, at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in borderline Downtown Brooklyn, the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series featured offerings from authors Alisa Kwitney and Nicholas Kaufmann (“K and K”).

Jim Freund, the Series’ Producer and Executive Curator, and the host of WBAI’s long-running Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy, welcomed the audience and guests. (The event was, as regularly done, being Livestreamed; he waved at that audience.) The turnout was smaller than usual (about 30-35), he noted, likely due to an event opposite being held by Henry Wessels (himself a past Curator and occasional host) that had drawn several who might otherwise have been here; plus some might have been leery of the approaching nor’easter. After appealing for those who could to donate to support the Series (readings are free, with a suggested donation of $7, but no one is turned away), and thanking the Café and his crew, he announced upcoming NYRSF readings:

  • April 3: Chris Claremont and Chandler Klang Smith
  • May Day 1 (tent.): In Memory of Ama Paterson, with Pan Morigan, Andrea Hairston and Sheree Renée Thomas
  • June 5 (tent.): A Tribute to Thomas M. Disch, with Guest Curator: Henry Wessels

Nicholas Kauffman

Freund concluded by introducing the first reader of the evening, Nicholas Kaufmann, a Bram Stoker Award-nominated, Thriller Award-nominated and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of numerous horror, fantasy and adventure novels. Introducing his story, Kaufmann noted that, Jewish, he had “always had a problem” with the story of the Exodus, particularly the Ten Plagues, so when he had the opportunity to contribute to an anthology of alternate Jewish history, he decided to “address” it. In “Coriander for the Hidden,” the angel Sauriel, the guardian of the flowers in the Garden of Eden (“He” and “She” do a lot of “rutting,” constantly) is ordered by “The On-High,” for reasons he cannot fathom, to be the Angel of Death (“the Creeping Death”) who is to pass over the Egyptians’ homes and smite the first-born. He silently questions “The On-High’s” ways – why was the Tree of Forbidden Knowledge put in the Garden of Eden if it was meant to be stayed away from? Why are the first-born children of Egypt paying the price for Pharaoh’s sin of not letting the Israelites go, particularly when “The On-High” hardened his heart and is capable of miracles like parting the Red Sea? (Believe it or not, there are rabbinic answers, but that’s outside the present scope.) – and ultimately, secretly “breaks the rules.” (One wonders what Kaufmann will say at next month’s Haggadah reading.)

During the intermission, there was a drawing for those who had donated, with the prizes being copies of Kaufmann’s In the Shadow of the Axe and Kwitney’s Cadaver & Queen. (There was a quick reshuffling when the winner of Kaufmann’s book was his wife Alexa, who presumably has a copy already. And yes, there were more than a few “Alexa” jokes made.)

Alisa Kwitney

Freund next introduced the event’s second reader, Alisa Kwitney (who also writes under the name Alisa Sheckley – she’s the late Robert Sheckley’s daughter). In her own right, she is the Eisner-nominated author of numerous graphic novels, romantic women’s fiction, urban fantasy, and non-fiction titles, a former editor for the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics, and currently the writer of the DC Prestige Miniseries Mystik U, and editor of Gothic horror for Liminal Comics. Her first YA novel, Cadaver & Queen, has just come out (Harlequin Teen), and has been described as a “steampunk play on Frankenstein, set in the English countryside against the backdrop of the Boer War, [that] explores themes of belonging, sexuality, and what it means to be human.” Set in 1902, Lizzie, an American, female medical student, is at a facility where cadavers are being reanimated as “biomechanicals” to be soldiers in Queen Victoria’s army – they obey and don’t feel pain. In it, she explores the theme of “dehumanization, which happens in war.” In a twist, one of the biomechanicals is a newly-deceased medical student named Victor Frankenstein who, unlike the others – perhaps because his cadaver is so fresh – has self-awareness and his memories, along with awareness of his surroundings; he also has a left arm from another body, and those memories.

As a treat, she presented a dramatic reading of the Prologue and a later chapter (though not of “the sexy parts”), with her “entourage” of two providing male and female dialogue. (Victor’s growl, an attempt by him at speech, was a lot of fun.) Kwitney spoke briefly about Mystik U, the first two issues of which are out, before holding a Q&A session. In replies, she said that she loves pulp, romance and horror; that for Cadaver & Queen she researched “Victorian trivia” and mostly stuck to history (like England’s and Germany’s arms race), except, of course, for biomechanicals (which in that world began during the Crimean War and which other nations are also working on); that Mary Shelley’s inspiration was experiments by Galvani and Volta; that a century ago, “medical science” believed a lot of “weird things” (even as late as the 1980s, many believed that babies didn’t feel pain!); and that she selected Mystik U’s artist, Mike Norton, from an offered list (another artist had been assigned originally) and is very happy with him. She alluded to her follow-up to Cadaver & Queen (there’ll be an eye transplant), and a theme that she keeps coming back to is that “we are most ourselves when we are concealed by some kind of mask.”

As traditional, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books (and, oddly, yahrzeit memorial candles, presumably unrelated to Kaufmann’s story).

The audience included Melissa C. Beckman, Susan Bratisher, Amy Goldschlager, Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, Lissanne Lake, Herschel M. Rothman, James Ryan, Sam Shreiber (running video), Chandler Klang Smith (one of next month’s readers), (Tech Director) Terence Taylor, and Kaufmann’s wife Alexa (though not his “two ridiculous cats”). Over the course of the evening and afterward, many audience members availed themselves of the Café’s food, coffee bar, beer and wine. (“It’s a good night for soup,” said Freund.)

Welcome to Dystopia – Now Go Home: NYSF Readings Spotlight New Anthology of Fearsome Futures

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, February 6, at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in less-than-paradisiacal though not-quite dystopian Brooklyn, the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series hosted a cavalcade of readings spotlighting the new anthology Welcome to Dystopia. The event, guest-curated by the volume’s editor, Gordon Van Gelder, featured readings by Richard Bowes, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Leo Vladimirsky and Paul Witcover.

Dystopianly, the evening did not begin as usual, with Series Producer and Executive Curator Jim Freund welcoming the crowd.  He, along with House Manager Barbara Krasnoff, we were told, was out with the flu. (Feel better.) Terence Taylor, the Series’ Tech Director filled in for Freund, and Amy Goldschlager (a former Curator) ran the gate. After giving thanks where due, he announced upcoming readings:

  • March 6: Alisa Kwitney and Nicholas Kaufmann
  • April 3: Chris Claremont and Chandler Klang Smith
  • Mayday 1 (tent.): In Memory of Ama Paterson, with Pan Morigan, Andrea Hairston and
    Sheree Renée Thomas
  • June 5 (tent.): A Tribute to Thomas M. Disch, with Guest Curator: Henry Wessels

Gordon Van Gelder

Gordon Van Gelder is currently the publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and was for 17 years also its editor, for which he was honored twice each with the World Fantasy Award and the Hugo Award. The evening was nostalgic for him as he founded the NYRSF Readings some 27-28 years ago. “It’s strange to realize how long ago that was,” he said, recalling its first readings at the Dixon Place performance space. (I remember them well; afterward, we’d often wander back to Gordon’s place.)

On Inauguration Day last year, he continued, he was talking to a writer who said that she was afraid to write dystopian sf, “afraid that a politician would run with it.” Others clearly had a different response to the new abnormal. If such term is applicable, we seem to be in a Golden Age of dystopian arts. In the wake of the 2016 Election, George Orwell’s 1984 shot onto bestseller lists and a stage version of the novel played on Broadway. “1984 is not supposed to be a how-to book,” it was sighed, but reaction, repression, racism and doublethink – or, put more impartially, chaos and uncertainty – are in bloom, as is “The Resistance” to it. (At the Brooklyn Book Festival last fall, I noted to a staffer of The Nation that Trump had spurred much artistic, literary and political creativity. He agreed, but added that it was “not a good trade-off”.) Already too late to be a cautionary work (“if this goes on”), Welcome to Dystopia is intensely, aggressively timely, and fiercely political. (Another Van Gelder-edited anthology, Welcome to the Greenhouse, tales about climate change, similarly draws from the zeitgeist.)

Leo Vladmirsky

The first reader of the evening was Leo Vladimirsky, who recently finished his first novel, The Horrorists. He works in advertising and his experience was evident in his story, “We All Have Hearts of Gold®.” The “currency” in advertising, he explained, is the creative brief, and his story’s format follows its three stages, the e-mail to the team, the assignment and the final tv script. Set immediately after the 2021 Inauguration, the agency – which has lost staff as immigrants were sent home and its European offices were closed, though new ones opened in Russia and West Virginia – is hired by the Republican Security Service to help recruit for its team of Gold Shirts. Wearing gold polo shirts emblazoned with “MAGA” and silhouettes of Donald J. Trump, they maintained (says the creative brief) “order and safety” during the 2020 Election and prevented “voter fraud.” In the recruitment commercial, they burst into classrooms, health clinics, “perverts’” toilet stalls and even the Supreme Court, hauling off so-called offenders. (The allusion to Hitler’s Black Shirts isn’t exactly subtle.)

Deji Bryce Olukotun

Next up was Deji Bryce Olukotun, the author of the novels Nigerians in Space and its sequel After the Flare, which was nominated for the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award. (His online address, returnofthedeji.com, amusingly reminds that his name is an anagram of “Jedi.”) His story, “The Levelers,” from which he read, draws on his growing up in a small town in the New Jersey wetlands, which faced land development. The titular Levelers (not to be confused with the ultra-egalitarian antiroyalist group during the English Civil War) are developers who employ genetics, demographics and finally drones to target and burn out houses in order to steal land. Sam, a transgender, is tapping maple trees for sap when her family farm is targeted.

Jennifer Marie Brissett

In his introduction to Jennifer Marie Brissett, while putting together the anthology, Van Gelder said, he’d wanted different voices, different backgrounds and even different formats. Brissett, a Jamaican-British-American, is the author of Elysium, or The World After. She has been shortlisted for the Locus Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the storySouth Million Writers Award, and has won the Philip K. Dick Special Citation. Also, as she noted in her biographical sketch, “once in her life, a long time ago and for three-and-a-half years, she owned and operated a Brooklyn indie bookstore called Indigo Café & Books.” In fact, she was there on 9/11, and later witnessed PATRIOT Act-invoked overreaches. Her story “Newsletter” is in the form of a bookstore’s bulletin to the community reporting that the government was monitoring her special orders (she had actually received such a letter) and that they could even retrieve books from people’s homes; targeted books included James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Octavia Butler’s Kindred. (During the Reagan Administration, the Feds attempted to monitor library patrons’ selections. Look, they’re reading books by a Russian, Asimov.)

As her story was short, she also read a scene from Eleusis, her follow-up to Elysium, and like it based on the Demeter-Persephone myth and set in a post-apocalyptic future, so it’s also an sf dystopia, she said. An interspecies spaceport docking station opens and aliens arrive.

During the intermission, a raffle was held for donors (the readings are free, with a suggested donation of $7), the prizes being a British book club edition of Clifford Simak’s City that had been the property of Charles Platt, and a copy of the anthology Welcome to the Greenhouse.

Paul Witcover

Leading off the second half of the evening, Van Gelder remarked that there were several stories about the proposed Wall (not Pink Floyd’s; China has a Great Wall, so I guess this would be the Hyuge Wall), but that Paul Witcover’s was “probably the most somber.” Witcover has been a finalist for the Nebula, World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards, and in their review of his novel Tumbling After, was called by the Washington Post “a gifted, fiercely original writer whose genre-bending fiction deserves the widest possible attention.” In “Walls,” even though born in Ohio and having only been to Mexico once briefly, because others in the family were born in Mexico, the protagonist is deported to a detention camp in sight of the Wall, which is described as resembling stacks of chicken cages. Their forced march out of their Ohio town is cheered by its residents, former neighbors and classmates.

Richard Bowes

The final reader, Richard Bowes, has written six novels, four story collections, and 80-plus stories, and won two World Fantasy, a Lambda, an IHG and storySouth Million Writers Awards. Van Gelder described his piece as “one of the most New York stories in the book.” Quipped Bowes, “I write about New York because it’s the only thing I know.” (Like many other quintessential New Yorkers, Rick isn’t originally from here. He was raised in Boston, as his accent proclaims, though, in his own words, “has lived in Manhattan for the better part of a century.”) His story is set some 40 years in the future, after a certain dictator has renamed the Avenue of the Americas “the Avenue of American Greatness,” though no one calls it that, any more than they call 6th Avenue the Avenue of the Americas. Throughout, the dictator (who was impeached after California seceded and Illinois joined Canada) is referred to only as “the Monster,” “the Beast,” “His Grand Pestilence,” “the Great Infection” and “the Cancer”; indeed, “his name is the only obscenity not spoken in New York,” and the story’s title is “The Name Unspoken.” Like the first story, it was a welcome bit of levity in an otherwise nightmarish set of visions.

It’s a truism that science fiction isn’t really predictive or about the future, but is about the present. The drawback to books like this is that – with rare exceptions – they’re too anchored to their time. Trump Era sf might, many hope, soon become as outmoded and irrelevant as Cold War sf. (We seem, though, to have come full circle, back to Russian plots.)

Taylor having left (he was getting over the flu), Goldschlager did the “outro.”

Despite Freund’s absence, the traditional Jenna freebie table offered books.

The audience of perhaps 50 included Melissa C. Beckman (the Readings’ photographer), Susan Bratisher, Amy Goldschlager, John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, James Ryan and Terence Taylor. Over the course of the evening, audience members availed themselves of the Café’s food, coffee bar, beer and wine.