Erina Lee and Mars Hawthorne are the 2021 winners of George R. R. Martin’s Miskatonic Scholarship, which supports a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror attending the Odyssey Writing Workshop. This year, due to the special circumstances and difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin decided to award the Miskatonic Scholarship to two writers
Martin discovered the work of H. P. Lovecraft when he was a boy and found that no other writer could give him “chills to equal those provided by the cosmic horrors that Lovecraft evoked.” With the scholarship, Martin hopes to encourage and inspire a new generation of writers to explore the genre of cosmic horror.
Erina Lee is a rising junior at Davidson College and the recipient of the Patricia Cornwell Creative Writing Scholarship. Her favorite character archetype is the mysterious informant.
Lee’s winning story, “Heliolatry,” tells the story of a group of astronomers trying to discover the cause when everyone on Earth starts to hear the sun screaming. Of her inspiration for the story, Lee said, “I wanted to write a story in which the moon was an egg about to hatch. After a single Google search, though, I found that Doctor Who had been there, done that. So I settled for the Sun.”
Mars Hawthorne is a writer of dark fiction, psychotherapist, and film buff based in Portland, Oregon. Her passion for storytelling began in kindergarten when she informed her teacher that, during nap-time, she’d witnessed a monster eat the little girl next to her and then spit out her bones.
She is a member of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers and a Supporting Member of the Horror Writer’s Association.
Mars’s story “Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?” is her attempt to reconcile her love of cinema with the industry’s long history of enabling and romanticizing the abusive actions of so-called “auteurs.”
(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matt Kressel will have Karen Lord & A.C. Wise on the line August 18.
The YouTube livestream starts August 18 at 7 pm. EDT. Link to come – will be posted here.
Barbadian writer Karen Lord is the award-winning author of Redemption in Indigo, The Best of All Possible Worlds, The Galaxy Game, and Unraveling, and the editor of the anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean.
A.C. Wise is a multiple-award finalist for her science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction. Her debut novel, Wendy, Darling, was published by Titan Books in June 2021. Born and raised in Montreal, she currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her spouse, two adorable corgis, and a small cat who is clearly in charge of everyone.
No doubt you are all so familiar with the reasons why stealth in space is very difficult to carry off that I need not explain… Here are five methods authors have used.
1: Ignore the science
This is perhaps the most popular solution, occasionally venturing into vigorous denial. After all, in a genre where such fundamentals such as relativity can be handwaved away for narrative convenience, why not simply handwave stealth in space and go full speed ahead?
An example that comes to mind is Chris Roberson’s 2008 novel The Dragon’s Nine Sons which sets a China that never suffered the Century of Humiliation against a malevolent Mexic Empire. The rivalry extends into the Solar System, which provides the pretext for a reprise of The Dirty Dozen…IN SPACE! Also, IN AN ALTERNATE HISTORY! Stealth being a key part of sneaking up on an enemy base, Roberson deals with the issue by ignoring it. Indeed, detecting other space craft, even ones at very short range, appears so difficult that it may be best to assume space is entirely filled with a very dense fog….
It’s another “Drinking With Authors” interview! This time with Marshall Ryan Maresca. He’s best known for his twelve book set of interconnected trilogies called the “Maradaine Saga,” but he’s here today to talk about a standalone novel called THE VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION. Join us as we discuss what we’re drinking, his latest novel (go buy it right now!), and worldbuilding! And don’t miss his worldbuilding podcast. Enjoy!
As Co-Editor-in-Chief of Fantasy Magazine and Senior Editor of Locus Magazine, you have the opportunity to read a lot of fiction. Where do you see short fiction going in the next ten years?
I see short fiction as the place where real experimentation happens. Not just in terms of form (which can sometimes be “gimmick” or “trend”) but also in terms of meaning, subject, content. Right now we are seeing more inclusivity. I hope that in ten years a lot of the narratives that are essentially arguments for the basic human rights of different kinds of people, or the beginnings of inclusivity of perspectives, shift baseline assumptions. This will allow a progression of stories from there.
The concerns of some stories are outside the lived experiences of some editors. They may not understand how good a story is because they don’t understand what the story is actually saying. Hopefully in ten years the things that many editors don’t get and need explained will be more broadly absorbed—and, the demographics of editors and publishers will be more diverse—again, allowing the conversations to progress.
I think there will be more experimentation in form, as well—including things I can’t predict. We see stories based on video games, messaging, Twitter. There’s interactive fiction, platforms that attempt different ways to make this work, including phone apps. Accessibility will be part of the key to proliferation, and technological shifts can open the way for new ideas. In the past, there were stories experimenting with hyperlinks. Maybe in the future there will be hybrids of text and audio, or other kinds of sensory input.
At the same time, the core elements that hit people in the feels seem to be somewhat timeless… so I think more “traditional” story structures will probably still be around….
(5) BRAM STOKER WINNER RETURNS. Lipstick Asylum is the next novel by Nzondi (pronounced En-Zon-Dee), an American urban fantasy and horror writer whose Oware Mosaic won a 2020 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Young Adult fiction.
The Scream Teens are hired to raise the dead as the necro-tainment for a zombie cruise, and the eighteen-year-old animator, Cozy Coleman, is bitten by a shapeshifting she-wolf. To Cozy’s surprise, she survives and with the aid of her friends, helps the government stop a human-extinction virus from spreading. Unfortunately, Cozy uncovers a secret so haunting, that her death is only the beginning of her problems.
…The fanzine survived for nine issues, the last appearing in late Spring 1937. While some individual club members remained active, others pursued diverse interests. The Binder brothers relocated to New York to promote their writing careers. Fortunately for history, the final Fourteen Leaflet gives us a rare pictorial glimpse of early fandom.
Prior to the wider availability of lithography, photographs in fanzines required the inclusion of actual photo prints. This was beyond the capability and budget of most amateur publishers. In the rare instances where this was undertaken, it was common for the prints to be glued to a page. If the page has managed to survive, very often the glue has not. This decreases the likelihood that the photo continues to travel with the page.
In their fanzine’s 1937 swansong, Dellenback and his cohort undertook to publish nineteen separate photographs, all tiny prints attached to a single page….
(7) SPOTS DANCING BEFORE YOUR EYES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Karen Heller looks at Boston Dynamics’s doglike robot Spot and asks several experts (including Ed Finn of Arizona State’s Center for Science and the Imagination) if being doglike would influence the public’s acceptance of robots. “Spot is the $74,500 robot dog of our dystopian dreams”.
…Why is a robotic dog frightening to so many? Possibly because the Venn diagram intersection of robots and dogs remains whippet slim. Humans are irrational about both. Also, entirely reductive. Robots = Terrifying. Dogs = Goodness incarnate.
Dr. Frankenstein’s creature, a monster of man’s own making, is more than 200 years old, a response to the threat of the industrial revolution that machines might well replace us, making human existence seem utterly disposable and meaningless. The term “robot” is a century old, dating to Czech writer Karel Capek’s science-fiction play “R.U.R.,” in English short for “Rossum’s Universal Robots.”
How does the drama end? Not well.
Robots in our collective imagination have tended towardmenace, rapacious will and allegiance to none. With few exceptions (C-3PO, R2-D2, the Jetsons’ aproned Rosey), robots in popular culturetend to be Terminators possessed with the soul of HAL 9000.
Whereas our affection for dogs is overly sentimental, resulting in a fathomless ocean of slobbery drool. We never fear dogs will replace us. We believe they’re here to comfort and adore us unconditionally, despite what some have done to mail carriers. Spot challenges us to hold two opposing thoughts in one $74,500 place….
Heller also steered me to this video from June, in which Boston Dynamics celebrated being taken over by Hyundai Motor.
(8) BRIANT OBIT. The International Costumers Guild reports Bruce Briant has died. He was involved in the UCSD science fiction club in the Eighties. An active convention masquerader, he was part of the group that took Best in (Novice) Class at the 1993 Worldcon for “Chess: The Elegant Game of War,” and Best Journeyman at the 1995 Westercon with “Superhero Wedding,” and part of the vast group that won a Retro Master Award at the 1996 Worldcon for “The Wedding on Klovia,” just to name three appearances. He was Dean of the Costume Colleges of 1996 and 1997.
(9) TODAY’S DAY.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1996 – On this date in 1996, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. as it was stylised on screen premiered fifteen years after Escape from New York came out. It was co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter, also co-written by Debra Hill who produced it with Kurt Russell, with Russell again starring as Snake Plissken. It also co-stars Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach, Bruce Campbell, and Pam Grier. Reception was definitely a lot more mixed than Escape from New York with most critics thinking the script was uneven, the film bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a thirty nine percent rating as opposed to seventy seven percent for the first film. Carpenter has said that, “Escape from L.A. is better than the first movie. Ten times better.” He might be the only one that holds that view.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 9, 1914 — Tove Jansson. Swedish-speaking Finnish artist wrote the Moomin books for children, starting in 1945 with Småtrollen och den stora översvämninge (The Moomins and the Great Flood). Over the next decades, there would a total of nineteen books. Currently Moominvalley, the new animated series is playing, on Netflix. And Terry Pratchett in “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” credits her for him becoming a fiction writer. (Died 2001.)
Born August 9, 1920 — Jack Speer. He is without doubt was one of the founders of fandom and perhaps the first true fan historian having Up to Now: A History of Science Fiction Fandom covering up to 1939 as well as the first Fancyclopedia in 1944. Filking and costume parties are also widely credited to him as well. Mike has a proper remembrance here. (Died 2008.)
Born August 9, 1927 — Daniel Keyes. Flowers for Algernon was a novel that I read in my teens. Two of the teachers decided that SF was to be the assigned texts for that school year and that was one of them. I don’t now remember if I liked it or not (A Clockwork Orange was another text they assigned along with something by Heinlein that I don’t remember) nor have I ever seen Charly. I see he has three other genre novels, none that I’ve heard of. (Died 2014.)
Born August 9, 1944 — Sam Elliott, 77. Weirdly, the source for this Birthday thought he’d only been in one genre role, General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross in the 2003 Hulk film, but he’s got many other roles as well. His first was Duke in Westworld followed by being Luke Peck in Time Bandits, Flik Whistler in The Thing and Lock in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’s the Phantom Rider in Ghost Rider and Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass. His latest genre is as the lead in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot as Calvin Barr. Not even vaguely genre adjacent, but he’s in the exemplary Tombstone as Virgil Earp.
Born August 9, 1947 — John Varley, 74. One of those authors that I’ve been meaning to read more of. I read both The Ophiuchi Hotline and Titan, the first novels respectively in his Eight Worlds and the Gaea Trilogy series, but didn’t go further. (See books, too many to read.) If you’ve read beyond the first novels, how are they as series? Worth pursuing now?
Born August 9, 1954 — Victor Koman, 67. Three time winner of the Prometheus Award, his short stories have appeared in such publications as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Galaxy and Fred Olen Ray’s Weird Menace. Kings of The High Frontier which won of those Prometheus Awards also was on the long list for a Nebula.
Born August 9, 1956 — Adam Nimoy, 65. Son of Leonard Nimoy and the actress Sandra Zober. His wife is Terry Farrell. He’s directed episodes of Babylon 5, Next Generation, The Outer Limits (he directed his father in the “I, Robot” episode), and Sliders. He’s responsible for For the Love of Spock, the documentary about his father.
Born August 9, 1968 — Gillian Anderson, 53. The ever-skeptical (well, most of the time) Special Agent Dana Scully on X-Files. she played Media on the now cancelled American Gods. And she played Kate Flynn in Robot Overlords. Did you know she’s co-authored a X-File-ish trilogy, The EarthEnd Saga, with Jeff Rovin?
(12) KEEP SOMEONE’S MT. TSUNDOKU FROM ERUPTING. Newcon Press publisher Ian Whates is running a “Make Room! Make Room! Sale” through August 15. Here’s why —
I’m hoping Helen and I can beg a small favour.
You see, once upon a time I had a library. It was my pride and joy, with a lifetime’s collection of books proudly displayed…
Then I became a publisher.
My collection is now largely inaccessible, hidden behind walls of cartons containing NewCon Press books. With over 150 titles and counting to our credit, the library has burst its seams, and stock has started to amass ominously in my office. I fear that soon we may not be able to reach the computer to work, or indeed the door…
In a desperate attempt to avert this disaster and reclaim our home, we have launched our biggest ever sale; for the next week, prices have been slashed on over 80 titles, including signed limited edition hardbacks and paperbacks, with prices starting as low as £1.00. In some instances we have plenty of stock remaining, in others just a few copies; when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Any assistance you could provide in boosting word of the sale on social media, blogs, etc, would be greatly appreciated…
Thank you. This has been a public service announcement on behalf of a beleaguered independent publisher.
Mark Twain had a lifelong habit of writing in the margins of the books he read – and it did not always matter whether the book actually belonged to him. He commented acerbically on the authors and their work – “by an ass” was a favorite phrase – and made other, longer comments that tell us about the man and his thoughts. His marginalia are his “conversations” with the books he was reading, and there are many examples of this in the library collection of The Mark Twain House & Museum.
(14) WAILING. Verlyn Klinkenborg recites a “Requiem for a Heavyweight” at The New York Review of Books. Most of the article is behind a paywall – sorry.
…Were those two whales, mother and calf, aware of us? Yes, I’d say, though surely without the elation we humans felt. Just how they might have been aware of us—what awareness might look like in a whale—is an undecided question having to do with cetacean physiology and the complexities of the aquatic environment, including its acoustic properties. (The most discernible thing about us may have been the thrum of our motor.) How human awareness works is also an undecided question, and not only because the price we often pay for consciousness is inattention. Since that encounter in Mozambique, I’ve found myself wondering: What happens when creatures from separate species become aware of each other? Is there something there, something shared or shaped between them? Or do their sensoriums simply overlap—like car alarms setting each other off—in isolation, without reciprocity?…
(15) IF YOU COOK IT THEY WILL COME. “Guy Fieri, Chevy sell Apple Pie Hot Dog at MLB Field of Dreams” reports The Takeout. Will those hot dogs be made from pork?I’ve been to Dyersville, and driving to the ballpark I remember passing a pen filled with hogs that looked the size of Volkswagens, so it would only be appropriate if the meat was local.
This Thursday, a very special and long-awaited baseball game will take place: the MLB at Field of Dreams. The White Sox will play the Yankees at the filming location for the 1989 film Field Of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, a site that still draws a strong contingent of tourists each year. While it will count as a home game for Chicago, this will be the first Major League Baseball game ever to be played in the state of Iowa, and a momentous milestone like that calls for a momentous ballpark snack for spectators to gnaw on from their shiny new stadium seats built just for the occasion. Enter Guy Fieri, Chevrolet, and the (Fieri-tastic) Apple Pie Hot Dog.
According to a press release sent to The Takeout, the Apple Pie Hot Dog is a play on an old Chevrolet ad from 1975, which heralds a bunch of comically patriotic imagery: baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet “go together in the good old U.S.A.,” asserts the jingle.
They better have Doc Graham standing by, too, in case any of those hot dogs go down the wrong way.
(16) REAL FUNKO POP. How long has there been Funko Soda?
2011, United States, Florida — When Jolyne Cujoh and her boyfriend get in an accident while out on a drive, she is framed for the crime and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Will she ever be free from this prison — this stone ocean? The final battle in the century-spanning, intertwining fate of the Joestar family and DIO begins!
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Paul Di Filippo, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) BIAS IN REVIEW SPACES. In a series of Twitter threads, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has tackled issues of bias in review spaces against marginalized authors, such as through the misuse of trigger warnings.
Some of your work has been described as Lovecraftian horror. What draws you to the genre? How do you create such an atmosphere in your stories?
Cosmic horror is already entrenched so much in genre, it’s hard to not be drawn to it. When I use it in my own stories, I’m often attempting to convey a sense of the strange, the otherworldly, and at times inconceivable. That might be done by translating a bit of folklore through a cosmic horror lens, drawing on a favorite trope but finding a new way to present it, or by adding some well-placed tentacles. You can never go wrong with tentacles.
…Nearly 50 years ago. And I was 16 or 17. I was a science fiction fan and a film fan. And I lived just a few miles from the 20th Century-Fox lot.
I no longer remember what prompted me to try this but, for some reason, one evening I decided to drive to the studio. I parked in the studio lot and walked through the gate. It was long before 9/11. Long before security theater took over. You could walk onto any studio lot in town, right past the security guards, as long as you looked like you were meant to be there. And so I did.
What was shooting on the lot that evening were scenes from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. These were outdoor scenes, not on a sound stage. Not having to sneak into a sound stage, it was especially easy to approach and watch….
… Of the nine stories in this anthology, four are written by women. If we count Jane Rice and her collaborator Ruth Allison separately, we have five male and five female authors. Of course, women make up fifty-one percent of the Earth’s population, so an anthology with fifty percent male and fifty percent female contributors shouldn’t be anything unusual. However, in practice there are still way too many magazine issues and anthologies that don’t have a single female contributor, so an anthology where half the authors are women is truly remarkable.
…German science fiction, pulp magazines, morbid beauty, vampire flower women, Jirel of Joiry, the Dark Eye, foreshadowing, Gary Gygax’s exclusion of Clark Ashton Smith from the Appendix N, Alphonse Mucha, doomed protagonists, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, and much more!
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1973 — On this month in 1973, Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love was first published by Putnam. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama would beat it out for the Hugo for Best Novel at Discon II. It was later given a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. It’s the life of Lazarus Long told in exhaustive detail. Really exhaustive detail. Critics including Theodore Sturgeon loved it, and John Leonard writing for the NYT called it “great entertainment”. It’s currently priced at just six dollars and ninety-nine cents at the usual suspects.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 14, 1908 — Stephen Tall. His first published work was “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ in Galaxy, October 1955. Not a prolific writer, he’d do about twenty stories over the next quarter of a century and two novels as well, The Ramsgate Paradox and The People Beyond the Wall. “The Bear with the Knot on His Tail” was nominated for a Hugo. He has not yet made into the digital realm other than “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ being available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
Born June 14, 1914 — Ruthven Todd. He’s here for his delightful children’s illustrated trio of Space Cat books — Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars and Space Cat and the Kittens. I’m please to say they’re available at all the usual digital suspects. He also wrote Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller which are respectively a lost world novel and a dystopian novel. (Died 1978.)
Born June 14, 1919 — Gene Barry. His first genre role was in The War of the Worlds as Dr. Clayton Forrester. He’d have a number of later genre appearances including several appearances on Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Devil and Miss Sarah, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite, multiple appearances on Fantasy Island and The Twilight Zone. He’d appear in the ‘05 War of The Worlds credited simply as “Grandfather”. (Died 2009.)
Born June 14, 1921 — William Hamling. Author and editor who was active as an sf fan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His first story “War with Jupiter”, written with Mark Reinsberg, appeared in Amazing Stories in May 1939. He’d write only short stories, some nineteen of them, over the next twenty years. Genre adjacent, his Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. He would be the Editor of two genre zines, Imagination for most of the Fifties, and Imaginative Tales during the Fifties as well. He published four issues of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and contributed to the 1940 Worldcon program. (Died 2017.)
Born June 14, 1939 — Penelope Farmer, 82. English writer best known for children’s fantasy novels. Her best-known novel is Charlotte Sometimes, a boarding-school story that features a multiple time slip. There’s two more novels in this, the Emma / Charlotte series, The Summer Birds and Emma in Winter. Another children’s fantasy by her, A Castle of Bone, concerns a portal in a magic shop.
Born June 14, 1949 — Harry Turtledove, 72. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was definitely fun reading. He’s won two Sidewise Awards for How Few Remain and Ruled Britannia, and a Prometheus for The Gladiator.
Born June 14, 1958 — James Gurney, 63. Artist and author best known for his illustrated Dinotopia book series. He won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at L.A. Con III for Dinotopia: The World Beneath, and was twice nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist. The dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was named in honor of him.
Born June 14, 1972 — Adrian Tchaikovsky, 49. He is best known for his Shadows of the Apt series, and for Children of Time which won an Arthur C. Clarke Award. (He’s also won a BFA for The Tiger and the Wolf, and a BSFA for Children of Ruin.) The After War series is multi author. He wrote the first, Redemption’s Blade, and Justina Robson wrote the second, Salvation’s Fire.
It’s a formula that has been repeated over and over for about as long as there has been science fiction on television—starting with the likes of Star Trek and Blake’s 7, through the boom in “planet of the week” style TV in the 90s and 00s with Farscape and Firefly, to more recent stories like Dark Matter, The Expanse, Killjoys, and the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Most recently Sky’s Intergalactic, and the Korean movie Space Sweepers have been carrying the standard, while last month saw people diving back into the world of Mass Effect with Mass Effect Legendary Edition. While Commander Sheppard is ostensibly the protagonist of the video game trilogy, few would argue that it’s anything other than the ensemble of the Normandy crew that keeps people coming back.
As science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders points out, it’s not hard to see the appeal of a family of likeable characters, kept in close quarters by the confines of their ship, and sent into stories of adventure.
“I love how fun this particular strand of space opera is, and how much warmth and humour the characters tend to have,” Anders says. “These stories have in common a kind of swashbuckling adventure spirit and a love of problem-solving and resourcefulness. And I think the ‘found family’ element is a big part of it, since these characters are always cooped up on a tiny ship together and having to rely on each other.”…
(10) HYPERTEXT PETS. “HTTP Status Dogs” is a collection of photos about “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Response status codes. And dogs.”
Bryson Kliemann loves his Pokémon card collection, but when he found out his beloved puppy Bruce was sick and might not survive, the 8-year-old did what he could to save his best friend. He set up a stand on the side of the road in Lebanon, Virginia, with a sign: “4 Sale Pokémon.”
…”I’m a realist with my kids,” Woodruff said. “I told him Bruce was sick and said ‘When you get home today from school, he may be at the vet’s office or in heaven.”
When Bryson got off the school bus that day, he showed his mother and stepfather a business plan he created to sell his Pokémon cards and snacks to help raise money to get Bruce the best possible care.
“I told him no, we’ve got this,” Woodruff said. “And then he later asked my husband and we decided to say yes, because this was also an opportunity to teach him responsibility.”
Bryson set up his stand on the side of the road, complete with a colorful umbrella and handmade signed, and started serving customers.
The first day he made $65. Within two afternoons, Woodruff said her son had made $400 and even received some Pokémon cards from kind strangers who wanted to help….
(12) ETCH-A-SKETCH. Wow! Princess Etch (Jane Labowitch) made an Etch-A-Sketch of the ship that blocked the Suez Canal.
The new update is called “Black Panther: War for Wakanda”. You’ll face off against classic Marvel villain Ulysses Klaue in what seems to be a fight over vibranium. That’s the rare metal in the world of Marvel that can only be found in Wakanda.
This will be the first time that the Black Panther has appeared in the Marvel’s Avengers game, so it’s great to see him finally team up with the Avengers.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
With controversy engulfing the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and major Hollywood players backing away from the embattled organization, NBC announced Monday that it will not air the Golden Globe Awards in 2022.
…The decision comes as influential studios continued to back away from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., with WarnerMedia joining Netflix and Amazon Studios in cutting ties with the organization until sweeping reforms are enacted.
The WarnerMedia letter says in part:
We understand the challenges ahead for you, as we work towards diversifying our own executive and employee ranks. However, we call upon you to move with greater urgency. The currently planned 18-month timeline runs through the 2023 Golden Globes, which means the same voting body will be impacting the next two nomination and voting cycles. The HFPA has a membership of less than 90 journalists. Lasting and meaningful change to your membership goals could be achieved in under 18 months. The HFPA cannot accurately reflect the best of our industry until your membership expands to reflect more of the social, cultural and ethnic diversity that exists in the stories we tell and the creators with whom we work.
We’re also asking for a strong commitment to significant change in talent press conferences. We are keenly aware of how much harder we’ve had to lobby to secure press conferences for a number of Black performers and creators, representing unquestionably worthy content. This same work has often then gone unrecognized in your nomination and awards process. In addition, our teams have endured press conferences where our talent were asked racially insensitive, sexist and homophobic questions. For far too long, demands for perks, special favors and unprofessional requests have been made to our teams and to others across the industry. We regret that as an industry, we have complained, but largely tolerated this behavior until now.
Our talent and our staff deserve a professional environment while doing their jobs promoting our series and films. Therefore, we would also like to see the HFPA implement a specific and enforced code of conduct that includes zero tolerance for unwanted physical contact of all talent and staff. We recognize that this conduct is not representative of your full membership, but we need assurances that there will be timely, actionable next steps to discipline members who exhibit inappropriate behavior.
…So you sent me this wonderful speech questioning the old Arthur C. Clarke line, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” what don’t you like about that line?
TED CHIANG: So, when people quote the Arthur C. Clarke line, they’re mostly talking about marvelous phenomena, that technology allows us to do things that are incredible and things that, in the past, would have been described as magic, simply because they were marvelous and inexplicable. But one of the defining aspects of technology is that eventually, it becomes cheaper, it becomes available to everybody. So things that were, at one point, restricted to the very few are suddenly available to everybody. Things like television — when television was first invented, yeah, that must have seemed amazing, but now television is not amazing because everyone has one. Radio is not amazing. Computers are not amazing. Everyone has one.
Magic is something which, by its nature, never becomes widely available to everyone. Magic is something that resides in the person and often is an indication that the universe sort of recognizes different classes of people, that there are magic wielders and there are non-magic wielders. That is not how we understand the universe to work nowadays. That reflects a kind of premodern understanding of how the universe worked. But since the Enlightenment, we have moved away from that point of view. And a lot of people miss that way of looking at the world, because we want to believe that things happen to us for a reason, that the things that happen to you are, in some way, tied to the things you did….
(3) AN EMMY FOR GINA CARANO? Here’s a surprising development: Disney+/Lucasfilms have included Gina Carano in their “for your consideration” advertising that promotes their works for the Emmy Awards. Carano was dropped from consideration in future Star Wars properties after she issued a series of tweets that Disney labeled “abhorrent and unacceptable”. The New York Post has the story: “Fired ‘Mandalorian’ star Gina Carano gets Emmy nomination push”.
Three months after Lucasfilm gave “The Mandalorian” star Gina Carano the axe for a series of controversial social-media posts, the company has included her in their 2021 Emmy Awards campaign.
The 39-year-old’s name is listed under the Supporting Actress category in a “for your consideration” poster promoting various Season 2 stars of the Disney+ show, CNET reported. The poster also advocates for lead actor nominations for Pedro Pascal, supporting actor noms for Giancarlo Esposito and Temuera Morrison, and guest actor nods for 18 actors, including Rosario Dawson, John Leguizamo, Mark Hamill and Amy Sedaris.
(4) PENNSYLVANIA LIFTING RESTRICTIONS. And an in-person PulpFest is back on track:
On Tuesday, May 4, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that nearly all COVID-19 mitigation orders—including capacity restrictions on indoor gatherings—will be lifted on Memorial Day.
According to the coronavirus page of the Pennsylvania Department of Health: “Effective May 31, we are lifting COVID mitigation orders, except masking. The masking order will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.”
Pennsylvania’s acting Health Secretary, Alison Beam, encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. “Follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent handwashing and sanitizing, and social distancing,” Beam said.
But that’s not all. There’s more good news to share!
On the same day as Governor Wolf’s announcement, the convention’s host hotel—the DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh – Cranberry —informed PulpFest that the meeting rooms where the convention is scheduled to be held will be available to the convention for the entire weekend.
So as things now stand, PulpFest 2021 will take place from Thursday, August 19, through Sunday, August 22….
After “Star Trek’s” launch, legendary actress Nichelle Nichols considered leaving the series — until an encounter with one of her biggest fans.
(6) OUTLANDISH CLAIMS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at Collider, Tom Reitman makes an excellent argument in favor of Sean Connery’s movie Outland. He argues that it is a piece of cinema worth reconsidering as an excellent example of how to remake movies. “Why Sean Connery’s Outland Is a Perfect Remake”.
By updating not only the setting of High Noon but also the moral conflict at its center, Outland successfully reinterprets the story for a new generation of moviegoers. Rather than simply redoing the movie with a new cast and modern dialogue and setpieces, Outland took the bones of its predecessor and created a more relatable exploration of the same themes, resulting in a movie that is both a perfect companion piece to High Noon as well as a captivating story that stands on its own.
Known the world over as ‘The Father of Television’, John Logie Baird’s contributions to the world of technology cannot be understated.
His groundbreaking exploration into moving images paved the way for a revolutionary invention that changed the world as we know it and his impact
is still being felt to this very day. However, his journey to television was far from easy, and was filled with obstacles and speed bumps along the way.
Find out more about the life and work of this legendary inventor.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 10, 1863 — Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive, though Complete Mystery Science Stories of Cornelius Shea which includes two of these Novels is available from iBooks and Kobo. (Died 1920.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1895 — Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film, The Case of Black Cat, which is at least genre adjacent as the defendant is a feline! (Died 1940.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1899 — Fred Astaire. Genre work includes On The Beach, Finian’s Rainbow and The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. Did a surprising amount of acting for someone who’s Hollywood screen test result was “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Also dances.” (His non-genre 1958 TV special AnEvening with Fred Astaire won 11 Emmys, one of them shared by OGH’s father, NBC video engineer Harry Glyer.) (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1905 – Alex Schomburg. A hundred thirty covers, two hundred sixty interiors – not counting five hundred comic-book covers, although some are ours e.g. The Human Torch. Here is Son of the Stars. Here is the Apr 53 Galaxy. Here is the Oct 61 Fantastic. Here is the Westercon 37 Program Book (designed to look like The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). Here is the Jan 93 Tomorrow. Here is his endpaper for the Winston SF books, later used by Vincent DiFate for Infinite Worlds. Frank R. Paul Award. Inkpot. Chesley for Artistic Achievement. Special Committee Award for Lifetime Achievement from Noreascon III the 47th Worldcon. First Fandom Hall of Fame. Artbook Chroma (with Jon Gustafson). (Died 1998) [JH]
Born May 10, 1935 – Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short lived BBC series. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1936 – Anthea Bell. Translator from Danish, French, German, e.g. Hans Christian Andersen, Asterix, E.T.A. Hoffmann. Four Schlegel-Tieck Prizes. Three Marsh Awards. Wolff Prize. Earned four Batchelder Awards for three publishers. German Federal Republic’s Cross of Merit. Officer of the Order of the British Empire. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born May 10, 1944 – Bruce Pennington, age 77. A hundred ninety covers, a score of interiors. Here is Dune. Here is The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Here is The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories. Here is Dreaming Spheres. Two British SF Ass’n Awards. [JH]
Born May 10, 1955 – Tim Illingworth, age 66. Chaired Eastercon 40 and 44 (combined with Eurocon 16; also SMOFcon 10 the next weekend). Doc Weir Award. [JH]
Born May 10, 1963 — Rich Moore, 58. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. It’s not really stretching the definition of genre, so I’ll note that he did the animation for the most excellent Spy vs. Spy series for MADtv. You can see the first one here. (CE)
Born May 10, 1964 – Pauline Alama, age 57. One novel, a score of shorter stories, poems. “Which part of the label are you questioning – science fiction or romance?” Website. [JH]
Born May 10, 1969 — John Scalzi, 52. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend to anyone who hasn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic, with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokeyfor my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few where I read every post. (CE)
Born May 10, 1975 – Jeremy Zimmerman, age 46. Two novels, a dozen shorter stories. Games. Mad Scientist Journal (with wife Dawn Vogel), six MSJ Presents anthologies. Website. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
On The Far Side, somebody must’ve made a wrong turn at Betelgeuse.
Come June, I won’t be able to play cards with Nelson Algren any more, I guess.
I am very pleased and proud to announce that my alma mater, Northwestern University, will be presenting me with an honorary doctorate at this year’s commencement, on June 14…
This year’s commencement will be virtual, so the presentation and my acceptance will be taped.
It is hard to believe that it has been half a century since my own commencement from Northwestern, in 1970. Where have the years gone?
If I could go back in time and tell 1970 Me that this would happen one day, he would never have believed me. (On the other hand, 1970 Me believed that one day he would vacation on the Moon, so… he may have written science fiction, but predicting the future was not his strong suit).
(11) BRIN INTERVIEW. At the Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog Guest Lecturer David Brin answers questions about his drafting process:
You’ve written a number of stories in the Uplift universe, which is a science fiction series about biological uplift. How much planning for the series did you do ahead of time? Do you tend to be more of an outliner, or do you tend to write by the seat of your pants?
I’ve written two novels from strict outline and that went very well. Why do I do it so seldom, then? Starting a novel is hard for me because I don’t know the characters yet and I haven’t yet had multiple “aha!” moments when I discover what the story is really about. I end books really, really well. For more on the great idea of uplift, which could be done very badly and likely has already begun, see http://www.davidbrin.com/uplift.html.
… What if your shirt could sense that you’re sweating and adjust its temperature? Or what if your pants could notice that your stride has changed and alert you at the onset of injuries? That’s what the future may hold, textile researchers say. It might be years, possibly even decades, for the tech to reach consumers, but the foundation is being laid today with scientists creating pieces of fabric that push the boundaries of what’s been possible before.
In March, researchers from China’s Fudan University published findings on electronic fabric capable of turning clothing into a display screen. They hope to turn their attention to the consumer market next, according to Qibing Pei, a materials scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles who co-authored the study….
Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch the “DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon” in the first quarter of 2022, with the company accepting the meme-inspired cryptocurrency as full payment for the lunar payload.
Geometric Energy Corporation announced the dogecoin-funded mission on Sunday, which SpaceX’s communications team confirmed in an email to reporters. The mission’s financial value was not disclosed.
DOGE-1 will fly a 40 kilogram cube satellite as a payload on a Falcon 9 rocket, with Geometric Energy Corporation saying its payload “will obtain lunar-spatial intelligence from sensors and cameras on-board with integrated communications and computational systems.”
SpaceX vice president of commercial sales Tom Ochinero said in a statement that DOGE-1 “will demonstrate the application of cryptocurrency beyond Earth orbit and set the foundation for interplanetary commerce.”…
Dallas and Fort Worth hosted the 1976 dystopian film Logan’s Run. Several scenes were filmed in the Dallas Market Center, a shopping mall standing in for “The City,” an underground complex whose residents believe is the only safe place left on Earth. Another mall, the Hulen Mall in Fort Worth, was just completing construction during filming and was also used for some scenes.
(15) 60 MINUTES ON MARS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes had a segment about Perserverance and Ingenuity. What makes this interesting is that JPL let them have test footage of Ingenuity showing how complicated the helicopter is based on early models that crashed. This reminds us of how complex an achievement the new Mars mission is. There is extra footage on 60 Minutes Overtime. “Perseverance rover, Ingenuity helicopter, and the search for ancient life on Mars”.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, the screenwriter explains that this Transformers movie has nothing to do with earlier ones because he trashed his DVD player by sticking a bagel in it and trying to toast the bagel by throwing the DVD player in the oven. Also, many pages of the script simply say, ‘EXPLOSIONS.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Olav Rokne, John Hertz, Rob Thornton, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) MUIR’S PROGRESS. Bence Pintér conducted a “Q&A with Tamsyn Muir” for the Hungarian magazine Spekulatív Zóna. (You can find the Hungarian version of the interview here.)
The Locked Tomb Trilogy seems like a pretty hard one to pitch to a publisher. How have you pitched it?
I never really pitched the trilogy as a trilogy. I pitched Gideon as more or less a murder mystery, because to me that’s still its most fundamental DNA: it’s the classic And Then There Were None set-up, a group of people in an isolated location start getting killed off one by one. I think I said it was a locked-room murder mystery with necromancers. But I was also deeply confused about a lot of things and thought it might be a Young Adult book, because I understood ‘young adult’ as a tag to mean ‘older teenagers would enjoy it’ and I firmly believed that older teenagers would enjoy Gideon! Someone I showed the story to at an early stage had to break it to me gently that this was not a Young Adult book, and never would be without very major re-writing and taking out 90% of the swearwords….
You signed a six-figure deal with Tordotcom Publishing. What will you work on after finishing Alecto the Ninth?
Lots of stuff. Next up is a novella about a gunslinger in a near-future dystopia, which is going to be a massive relief to write as it contains neither swords nor bones, thank God. Then I’ve got to start on the next full-length novel, which will probably have some swords and some bones but not at anywhere near the concentration Locked Tomb did, and will leaven the mixture by also having some motorbikes. And at some point I need to fit in the sequel to Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower, my novella from last year, which I’ve decided I’m not quite done with. Now if I could just get an extra four or five months added in to the year, maybe in summer when the weather’s OK, that would be fantastic.
Congratulations on recently becoming editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction! What are the most common problems in the manuscript submissions you receive?
I just revised our submission guidelines to address that, because after reading 2,400 stories our first month in January, I noticed some patterns, particularly for people who have submitted work to the magazine in the past, and they probably don’t know that they’re doing some of these things.
The main thing I revised our submission guidelines to address is pacing. If you spend a long time setting up your story, or throat clearing, or giving us a long narrative exposition before we even get to the characters we’re supposed to be following and experiencing, you’re going to lose your readers’ interest right off the bat. One of the things people can do when they go back and look at the story is see if they started in the right place. As a writer, it’s not always easy to know that immediately. Sometimes we have to write the thing in order to know the thing; we have to write that first scene to get to the other one.
The other thing that a lot of writers do give us too much information that’s not naturally integrated into the storytelling, and so that becomes a little wearisome to read and hard to follow. People are not telling the story from the POV of the character who has the most to lose in the situation.
I don’t want to read about misogyny, whether it’s conscious or not in the story. I don’t particularly care for rape stories where rape is just a plot device and it’s not handled in a human way, where you don’t have the characters respond to it in a way that humans might. And F&SF is not the best market for super erotic work.
(3) TV DINNER. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s Science Fiction TV Dinner series is going virtual for 2020-2021, and they’ll Zoom the next event on Tuesday, April 27 at 6 p.m. Pacific time. It features The Mailbox, a short film about time travel and Chinatowns. They’ll be talking with the director, Louis Yin, a writer and filmmaker based in Beijing, and Diane Wong, a professor at Rutgers University who studies the Asian diaspora and the urban immigrant experience. The event is free, and open to everyone. Register at the link.
We’re shifting the format slightly, presenting Science Fiction TV Small Bites: short films from talented creators that invite us to explore a range of possible futures.
…Each Small Bite event will also feature an exclusive segment on cuisine and cooking by Corey S. Pressman, an author, educator, anthropologist, visual artist, and member of CSI’s Imaginary College.
We would like to thank Storycom for their support and collaboration on this event. Storycom is the first professional story commercialization agency in China, and is dedicated to bringing excellent Chinese SF stories to domestic and global audiences in various formats. Storycom also presents The Shimmer Program to introduce new audiences to Chinese SF. Learn more at https://twitter.com/ShimmerProgram.
(4) ACE ON THE CASE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 7 Financial Times, Tom Faber looks at video games that combine the supernatural with detective stories.
…The first detective games I loved were the Ace Attorney trilogy, in which you play Phoenix Wright, an impossibly earnest lawyer who solves a trio of outlandish murders. The tone is decidedly zany, with anime-style graphics and supernatural story beats. But the sharp characterisation makes them deeply affecting. Each complex case is split into two parts: the first has you talking to witnesses and gathering evidence from the crime scene, while the second takes you to court, where you cross-examine witnesses and poke holes in testimony…
…Perhaps the secret ingredient to a successful detective game is allowing players freedom to find the solution by themselves. These qualities re best exemplified in last year’s indie hit Paradise Killer, which sets its supernatural mystery across an open world, allowing you to investigate at your own pace. The game never tells you where to go next and you can set the final trial at any point, no matter how much evidence you’ve gathered. Newcomers may be alarmed by the game’s high-concept fantasy, which tells of a group of social elites constructing a utopia by sacrificing the working classes to resurrect a pantheon of vanished gods. Yet once you find your footing, the story resolves into a fantastically imaginative, richly compelling narrative with a superb soundtrack to boot.
(5) WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM CONFUSION. Ian Moore’s “ConFusion: Eastercon 2021” report at Secret Panda offers a lot of coverage of the panel programming.
… Many of the academic presenters at ConFusion seemed to be from creative writing rather than literary criticism programmes, which changed the focus somewhat: when they were examining a particular theme within science fiction, it was with a view to ultimately creating something in that area themselves, with several then presenting us with some of their own creative work in progress.
I enjoyed Hester Parr’s presentation on fanfic, though at times it did tend towards more of a stirring defence of fan fiction than an academic analysis of it. Particularly interesting was the discussion of how some fanfic writers use their writing to work out things about themselves and the revelation that the My Fair Lady musical is closer to the original Pygmalion myth than the George Bernard Shaw play it is adapted from. I did find myself thinking about whether there is a difference between something like Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and other retellings of myths or sequels to others’ work by novelists on the one hand and fan fiction proper on the other hand. Part of Parr’s argument seemed to be that there is not really a difference, with the human tendency to retell and adapt stories meaning that fanfic is a universal thing with its origins in the mists of time. I have the nagging sense though that there is something different between a novel written by a professional writer and something a hobbyist has posted to an online fanfic platform. To me the fannishness of fanfic is what distinguishes it from non-fan writing drawing on pre-existing stories, though further investigation may be required here….
…Khrushchev’s answer came 60 years ago, on April 12, 1961, when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin circled the Earth aboard a spacecraft called Vostok 1. After parachuting from the craft near the Russian village of Smelovka, Gagarin landed a hero — and a major embarrassment for the United States, already stung by the Soviet first-in-the-race launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite four years earlier….
And what goes up must come down – however unexpectedly that might be if you happen to be standing where they land.
(7) JOURNEY INTO SPACE. And the Journey Planet team bids everyone a Happy Cosmonautics Day. Ann Gry co-edited their “Russian Space – ” theme issue which came out in December.
This unique issue of Journey Planet comes in two languages in parallel text, Russian and English. With bi-lingual text on every page we look at the Science, Engineering, Science Fiction, Films, Comics and poetry that the theme of Russian Space has to offer.
Muscovite Co-Editor Ann Gry (Anna Gryaznova) was committed to ensure the issue was as accessible as possible to the readers, interested in the subject and spent a tremendous amount of time working on translations as well as seeking out new voices, and hearing from voices who may be very new to Journey Planet readers. This issue is a curated glimpse into the creative realms mostly inaccessible due to the language barrier and is an attempt to give an idea of how space theme connects us all.
The tiny principality of Grand Fenwick had no intention of blackmailing the world with atomic doom. Faced with economic calamity (Americans had successfully copied Grand Fenwick’s principal export, Pinot Grand Fenwick wine), they came up with a simple but brilliant plan: declare war on the United States of America, lose, capitulate, and then wait for US to expend billions of dollars rebuilding Grand Fenwick (shades of the Marshall Plan). Since Grand Fenwick had not upgraded its military toolkit since the Hundred Years War, there was no way this cunning scheme could go wrong. Or so it seemed.
The handful of men-at-arms dispatched to New York City find a city abandoned thanks to a Cold War-era Civil Defense exercise. Hunting for someone to whom they might surrender, they stumble across Dr. Kokintz and his Q-bomb demonstration model. Both Kokintz and his device are carried off to Grand Fenwick, whereupon the astounded Grand Fenwickians discover to their alarm that they are now in possession of a weapon that could, if detonated, depopulate a continent. Still, having the eyes of the world on them has possibilities…provided nobody jostles the delicate Q-bomb.
(9) HAND MADE. The Dwrayger Dungeon makes a post from clips from a 1939 short in “13: PARAMOUNT Presents POPULAR SCIENCE”. See how a Popeye cartoon was made in the days of hand-painted animation cels.
Today we go behind the scenes of the making of the Popeye cartoon “Aladdin And His Wonderful Lamp” at the Fleischer Studios in Miami….
Here are the guys working on the storyboards for their upcoming Popeye cartoon. I swear, there are like 500 drawings pinned up on the wall….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 12, 1940 — On this day in 1940, Black Friday premiered. It was directed by Arthur Lubinfrom from a screenplay by Curt Siodmak (who won a Retro Hugo last year for Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man) and Eric Taylor. Though Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi were co-billed, Lugosi only has a rather small part in the film and does not appear on screen with Karloff. Universal had cast Lugosi as the Doctor and Karloff as the Professor, but Karloff insisted on playing the Doctor. So Lugosi was given the minor role of a rival gangster, while Stanley Ridges was brought in to play the Professor. Reception was mixed with some critics loving the double billing, but the NYT noted that “Lugosi’s terrifying talents are wasted”. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, the audience reviewers give it a rating of forty nine percent. It is in the the public domain now, so you can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 12, 1884 — Bob Olsen. He wrote twenty-seven poems and stories that were published in Amazing Stories in the late 1920s early 1930s. He’s one of the first authors to use the term “space marines”. A search of both print and digital publishers does not show any indication that any of his genre or mystery fiction is now in-print. (Died 1956.) (CE)
Born April 12, 1908 – Janie Lamb. Edited the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n) National Fantasy Fan and Tightbeam. Inspiring spark of Southern Fandom (southern U.S., not e.g. the Republic of South Africa, or London, or Spain despite Roses from the South, these other regions not typically so calling themselves); chaired DeepSouthCon 7. Kaymar and Rebel service awards. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born April 12, 1915 — Emil Petaja. He considered his work to be part of an older tradition of ‘weird fiction.’ He published thirteen novels and some one hundred fifty short stories. His Otava series, published by Ace Books in the Sixties, is based on the Finnish national myth, The Kalevala. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born April 12, 1921 — Carol Emshwiller. I think her short stories are amazing and The Start of the End of It All and Other Stories collection won a World Fantasy Award. She’d later receive a Life Achievement award from the World Fantasy Awards Administration. I’ve not read her novels, so which would you recommend? Novel wise, she’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects but her collections are largely not there. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born April 12, 1936 — Charles Napier. Adam in Star Trek’s “The Way to Eden”. He had one-offs, and this is not a complete list, on Mission Impossible, The Incredible Hulk, Knight Rider, Tales of The Golden Monkey, The Incredible Hulk Returns, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Deep Space Nine and voiced Agent Zed in the animated Men in Black series. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born April 12, 1947 – Tom Clancy. Regardless of whether Jack Ryan becomes President, and the author’s politics which as it happens I never liked much, I defiantly assert The Hunt for “Red October” – TC’s first novel! he’d been an insurance salesman! Deborah Grosvenor had to persuade the Naval Inst. to publish it! – is SF, and good SF too. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born April 12, 1952 – Pierre Stolze, Ph.D., age 69. Dissertation at École Normale Supérieure on SF. Seven novels, a score of shorter stories. Will Francophone translators kindly address this man’s work? [JH]
Born April 12, 1958 – Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, age 63. Canadian living in Los Angeles. Active particularly with Art Shows; board member of the Southern Calif. Inst. for Fan Interests (yes, that’s what the initials spell, pronounced skiffy). Her high-tech expertise permitted the annual Rotsler Award display at Worldcons to rise above the personal handicraft of one man in a propeller beanie, however helped by volunteers (hello, Murray), and thus reach Dublin (77th Worldcon) and Wellington (78th Worldcon, virtual-only). [JH]
Born April 12, 1968 – Marah Searle-Kovacevic, age 53. Head of Exhibits at Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon, credited by con chair with extra help at N4’s elaborate and successful First Night, see this detailed report. Chaired SFContario 4-5. Was assigned as head of Social Media for Westercon LXXIII. [JH]
Born April 12, 1969 – Mike Jansen, age 52. Ran Babel Publications for ten years with Roelof Goudriaan (hello, Roelof). Three novels, fourscore shorter stories, a dozen poems, many available in English e.g. collection Ophelia in My Arms. Website in eight languages including Arabic, Chinese, English. [JH]
Born April 12, 1979 — Jennifer Morrison, 42. Emma Swan in the Once Upon a Time series, and Winona Kirk, mother of James T. Kirk in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. She also paid her horror dues in Urban Legends: Final Cut as Amy Mayfield, the student videographer whose film goes terribly wrong. I’m intrigued to see that she’s the voice actor for the role of Selina Kyle / Catwoman in the Batman: Hush, a film that needs a R rating to be told properly and indeed did so. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Macanudo reveals the ancestry of a certain popular character from The Mandalorian.
… Let’s get this double-whammy out of the way. 1986 saw the release of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. So much has been said about both of these comics already. Although much about them is different, each is a deconstruction of the superhero concept; and each elevated the medium to new levels of respectability.
Yes, their success has sown definite downsides. Too many creators take the wrong lessons from their popularity, veering “dark and edgy” for the sake of it. But this aside, both of these remain towering achievements in comic book storytelling….
…“In all my years of Comic-Conning, I can’t recall another moment when the audience was so eager to give someone a long, loving ovation,” Evanier said Wednesday, “and the recipient was so delightfully surprised to be at an event like that receiving one.
“Joye told me it was the best weekend of her life, and I thought, ‘Imagine having the best weekend of your life when you’re 94!’”
(15) BIRD IS THE WORD. Jeff VanderMeer, in his essay “Hummingbirds and the Ecstatic Moment” for Orion Magazine, explains how birds provided comfort to him when he was sick in bed with asthma as a child and why birds play a crucial role in Hummingbird Salamander.
…I am not going to complain about my childhood—it was worse than some and better than many. But it was a sickly time for me. Transplanted to the Fiji Islands from Pennsylvania when my parents joined the Peace Corps, I discovered I was allergic to many flowering trees and also developed acute asthma. The practical effect of this meant that some mornings I would wake to birdsong hardly able to breathe or open my eyes.
Yet we lived in the cliché of a tropical paradise, a nature-rich country in which nothing separated you from the outdoors. An island nation that knew the limits of its resources and thus, at that time, treasured them.
At recess at school, in our drab gray uniforms, we would run across the road to the black sand beach at low tide and look for mudskippers, or walk along the edge of the reef, searching for starfish. I would stare into the alien eye of a sea turtle as my mother captured the detail in her biological illustrations. We would pile into a boat so my father could go to an outer island and observe the damage to coconut trees from rhinoceros beetles, for his research. Along the way, I would keep a birding journal and identify what I saw using a black-and-white stapled booklet showing the local Fijian species.
There could be no greater contrast between the beauty of that place and the realities of my condition….
(16) RESNICK ON SALE. There’s a Bundle of Holding with a flock of novels by Mike Resnick. It’s available for the next 21 days.
Adventurer! This Mike Resnick Bundle presents space opera and alternate-history fantasy ebook novels by Mike Resnick published by Pyr Books. Mike Resnick (1942-2020) wrote more than 70 wide-ranging science fiction novels and hundreds of short stories that won many awards. This all-new fiction offer gives you DRM-free ebooks (in both ePub and Kindle formats) of a dozen Resnick novels: the four Weird West steampunk fantasies, the three Dead Enders adventures of interstellar espionage, and the five Starship military space operas. These three series showcase Resnick’s gift for fast pacing, engaging characters, snappy dialogue, and headlong action.
For just US$6.95 you get all three novels in our Mike Resnick Sampler (retail value $58) as DRM-free ebooks. Each of these novels — The Buntline Special, The Fortress in Orion, and Starship: Mutiny — launched a series.
And, if you pay more than the threshold price of $25.36, you’ll also get our Complete Collection with all the later books in each series — nine more novels worth an additional $180…
You believe that within a century we will make contact with an alien civilisation. Are you worried about what they may entail?
Soon we’ll have the Webb telescope up in orbit and we’ll have thousands of planets to look at, and that’s why I think the chances are quite high that we may make contact with an alien civilisation. There are some colleagues of mine that believe we should reach out to them. I think that’s a terrible idea. We all know what happened to Montezuma when he met Cortés in Mexico so many hundreds of years ago. Now, personally, I think that aliens out there would be friendly but we can’t gamble on it. So I think we will make contact but we should do it very carefully.
Prehistoric cave dwellers living in Europe purposefully starved themselves of oxygen to hallucinate while creating their decorative wall paintings, a groundbreaking new study has found.
Researchers have been questioning for years why so many of the world’s oldest paintings were located in often pitch-black tunnel systems, far away from cave entrances.
But a recent study by Tel Aviv University now reveals that the location was deliberate because it induced oxygen deprivation and caused cavemen to experience a state called hypoxia.
Hypoxia can bring about symptoms including shortness of breath, headaches, confusion, and rapid heartbeat, which can lead to feelings of euphoria, near-death experiences, and out-of-body sensations. The team of researchers believes it would have been “very similar to when you are taking drugs”, the Times reported.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Alien: Covenant Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, both the producer and the screenwriter agree that the film’s plot is so ridiculous that the screenwriter says “the movie falls apart if any character stops being dumb” and the producer asks, “do all the characters have brain damage, or what’s up?”
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, rcade, John King Tarpinian, Joey Eschrich, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Rich Horton, James Davis Nicoll, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]
…The Arkham House Archive contains over 4000 letters and documents related to publications issued by Arkham House, Mycroft & Moran and Stanton & Lee between 1939 and 1971, as well as correspondence and business papers related to Derleth’s activities as writer and editor for other publishers, including his editorial work as an anthologist in the 1940s and 1950s, and as a TV scriptwriter in the 1950s. This archive is a highly important collection of letters and documents. The core of the archive is correspondence, often extensive, from several hundred authors whose work Derleth published under his own imprints or in his highly important non-Arkham House anthologies published in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as manuscripts, mostly typewritten (including fair copies and carbons), submitted by Arkham House authors.
… These business papers largely predate the August William Derleth Papers held by the Wisconsin Historical Society, as “most of the pre-1963 materials were destroyed when this collection was originally processed, so substantially complete records survive only for the years between 1963 and 1970.”
(2) ROSWELL JUDGE. Light Bringer Project has introduced S.B. Divya as one of the Finalist Judges for the Roswell Award international short science fiction story competition from writers age 16 and older.
S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. She enjoys subverting expectations and breaking stereotypes whenever she can. Divya is the Hugo and Nebula–nominated author of Runtime and co-editor of Escape Pod (anthology), with Mur Lafferty. Divya also co-host of the premier science fiction podcast magazine, Escape Pod.
Her short stories have been published at various magazines including Analog, Uncanny, and Tor. Her collection, Contingency Plans For the Apocalypse and Other Situations, is out now from Hachette India. Machinehood is her debut novel from Saga Press. She holds degrees in computational neuroscience and signal processing, and she worked for twenty years as an electrical engineer before becoming an author.
Find out more about her at SBDivya.com or on Twitter as @DivyasTweets.
(4) NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 10 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses how video games incorporate museums into their gaming.
In 2020’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the hero is excluded from a science museum as a child but returns later as the titular web-slinger, leaping triumphantly between the wings of rockets suspended from the ceiling. Here the museum space is shorthand for lost innocence, playing on gamers’ memories of school trips to exhibitions. This same effect is pulled off more artfully in The Last Of Us Part II, which features a poignant flashback sequence in an abandoned museum of science and history. In the ruined atrium, flooded with sunlight and overtaken by vines, the complex relationship between protagoinist Ellie and her father-figure Joel is infused with tenderness as they play on dinosaur skeletons and enter the command module of an Apollo spacecraft, forgetting the zombie-infested world outside for a few blissful moments.
In-game museums sometimes serve instead of meta-commentary, spaces where games tell the story of their own creation. The joyous PS3 platformer Astro’s Playroom is a living exhibition of Sony’s greatest hits, while old Ratchet And Clank games contain secret levels which teach players about how developers created the game’s physics and environments. Most imaginative is the post-credits museum of Call Of Duty 2: Modern Warfare, remastered last year, where players can scrutinise character models, environments and weapons from the game. Looking closely at each diorama–zooming in via the scope on your sniper rifle, naturally–reveals the extraordinary detail put into each component. A tempting red button causes the exhibits to spring to life and attack.
(5) SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Joy Still Felt discusses how in 1958 he was approached to be on a quiz show called Brain or Brawn and he declined to appear. Asimov writes, “I thought of Sprague de Camp, who managed to get on The $64,000 Question and who (for reasons known only to himself and God), chose motion pictures as his category, then muffed the very first question.”
I’d be interested in stories about fans and pros being on quiz shows. Ray Bradbury appeared on an episode of You Bet Your Life in 1956.
… The White Rabbit never says, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” nor does the Mad Hatter say, “I am under no obligation to make sense to you.” The quote attributed to the Queen of Hearts – “That’s enough! Off with their head” – is almost right; she was after “heads”.
Dr Franziska Kohlt, editor of the Lewis Carroll Review, says she’s always spotting Carroll misquotes. “I saw a post about the coins on a collectors’ page, and almost automatically went checking for the quote, thinking, ‘Oh I hope they haven’t – oh no they have,” she said. “Misattributed Alice quotes are absolutely everywhere.”
Kohlt said that the “hurrier I go” and the “I am under no obligation!” quotes are “absolutely not Carroll quotes, as much as the internet insists”. “You wouldn’t believe how often we have to deal with these misquotes. I even find them in academic papers,” she said….
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
Anthony J. Lumsden conceived a design so advanced for the Van Nuys sewage facility that the building stood in for Star Trek’s Starfleet Academy (see it in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). 6100 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys. (See “Scene It Before: The Japanese Garden from Star Trek” in Los Angeles Magazine.)
(8) JAMES FOLLETT OBIT. British writer James Follett (1939-2021) died January 10. Blake’s 7 fans knew him as the scriptwriter for the “Stardrive” and “Dawn of the Gods” episodes. In the Seventies he wrote many genre plays for BBC Radio 4’s Afternoon Theatre, Just Before Midnight, and Saturday Night Theatre. In the Eighties he created Radio 4’s acclaimed SF serial Earthsearch, and later wrote three novels based on it. Altogether he wrote 11 sff novels, several computer games, and many radio and TV scripts. (He was the cousin of Ken Folett.)
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 15, 1981 — On this date in 1981, Scanners premiered. Directed by David Cronenberg and produced by Claude Héroux, it starred Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane and Michael Ironside. Reviewers, with the exception of Roger Ebert who despised it with all of his soul, generally liked it, and reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a healthy sixty four percent rating among audience reviewers. The same cannot be said for the sequels which have ratings of seventeen and eighteen percent among those same reviewers.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 15, 1852 – Augusta, Lady Gregory. Folklorist, playwright, theatre manager. Vital to Irish Literary Revival. For us, collected and retold Irish tales e.g. “The Three Sons”, Cuchulain of Muirthemne. Bernard Shaw called her the greatest living Irishwoman. (Died 1932) [JH]
Born March 15, 1924 — Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide. I think it is.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.) (CE)
Born March 15, 1943 — David Cronenberg, 78. Not a Director whose tastes are at all squeamish. His best films? I’d pick Videodrome, The Fly, Naked Lunch and The Dead Zone.Though I’m tempted to toss Scanners in that list as well. ISFDB says he has one genre novel, Consumed, which garnered a Bram Stoker Award nominated for A Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Oh and he was in the film version of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. (CE)
Born March 15, 1926 – Rosel Brown. Three novels (one with Keith Laumer), two dozen shorter stories. Recent reprint collection Earthblood (6 by RB, 3 by KL, 1 by both). Had an M.A. in Greek, too. (Died 1967) [JH]
Born March 15, 1933 – Al Lewis, age 88. Chaired Westercon 15. Long active in LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society); first to receive its Evans-Freehafer Award (service). Produced The Genie and The Musquite Kid Rides Again, famous in song and story. [JH]
Born March 15, 1937 – Dan Adkins. A dozen covers, two hundred twenty interiors. Fanart for e.g. Double:Bill (he has five in this issue – PDF), Vega, Xero (he’s in The Best of “Xero”), Yandro. Fanzine, Sata (later by Bill Pearson). Here is the Nov 66 If. Here is the Jul 69 Galaxy. Here is the Sep 71 Amazing. Later worked with Wally Wood and for DC, Marvel, Dell. Here is Doctor Strange 169. Here is an interview by Roy Thomas. Sinott Hall of Fame. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born March 15, 1948 — Carl Weathers, 73. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other genre creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly The Sasquatch Gang comedy and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very, very not genre. (CE)
Born March 15, 1949 — Lawrence Kasdan, 72. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas which is quite superb. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story. (CE)
Born March 15, 1962 — Jemma Redgrave, 59. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who. Not at all surprisingly,she has also appeared as Stewart as the lead in myriad UNIT adventures for Big Finish Productions. (CE)
Born March 15, 1965 – James Barclay, age 56. A dozen novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Guest of Honour at FantasyCon 2008, Master of Ceremonies at FantasyCon 2010. “Barclay Rambles On” in BFS Journal 10 (British Fantasy Society). Two children, two dogs – meaning a total of four, not two. [JH]
Born March 15, 1967 — Emily Watson, 54. Her first genre appearance is in Equilibrium as Mary O’Brien before voicing Victoria Everglot in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Next is she’s Anne MacMorrow in the Celtic fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. She appeared apparently in a Nineties radio production of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase but I’ve no information on it. (CE)
Born March 15, 1980 – Julie Cross, age 41. Three novels, one shorter story for us; several others. NY Times and USA Today Best-Seller. Gymnast and coach. Has read The Odyssey, Native Son, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. [JH]
John Joseph Adams was a guest lecturer at the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from a question and answer session, he talks about worldbuilding and what he’d most like to see in submissions.
John is the editor of John Joseph Adams Books, a science fiction and fantasy imprint from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He is also the series editor of Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as the bestselling editor of more than thirty anthologies, including Dead Man’s Hand, Robot Uprisings, Oz Reimagined, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Other Worlds Than These, Armored, Under the Moons of Mars, Brave New Worlds, Wastelands, The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and The Way of the Wizard.
Recent books include Cosmic Powers, What the #@&% Is That?, Operation Arcana, Press Start to Play, Loosed Upon the World, and The Apocalypse Triptych.
John is also the editor and publisher of the magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare.
2. DONNA SHIRLEY WAS INSPIRED BY SCI-FI NOVELISTS RAY BRADBURY AND ARTHUR C. CLARKE.
At age 12, Shirley discovered—and devoured—Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles at the Wynnewood public library. Her earthbound teenage endeavors included editing her high school yearbook and playing cymbals in the marching band, but her space dreams were powered by Jimmy, the protagonist of Arthur C. Clarke’s The Sands of Mars, who makes a seven-month voyage to the planet. In her 1998 autobiography Managing Martians, Shirley recalled, “Clarke described a world that was my ideal of community and comradeship.”
(13) SET IN DC. In the Washington Post, Fritz Hahn, Anyang Guo, and Angela Haupt ask various people for their favorite books set in Washington. Michael Dirda recommends This Shared Dream by Kathleen Ann Goonan, set in an alternate universe 1991 where JFK wasn’t assassinated and Martin Luther King becomes U.N. ambassador. “The best books about Washington D.C.”. One other sff novel is mentioned —
“Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders
I had often passed beautiful Oak Hill Cemetery on my walks around the city, but I didn’t get obsessed with it until I read “Lincoln in the Bardo,” a novel that might be described as a phantasmagoric “Spoon River Anthology” with footnotes. Set at the cemetery, and told by ghosts, it’s hilarious, disturbing and poignant by turn. George Saunders was inspired to write it after hearing about Lincoln’s visits to the cemetery to see his young son Willie, who temporarily lay in the Carroll Family Mausoleum after his death in 1862. The first time I tried to visit Oak Hill it was closing time, but an employee told me I could get a key and enter any time if I bought a plot, an idea I haven’t entirely ruled out. In the meantime I’ll make due with visiting hours.
(14) MUPPET KNOWLEDGE. In “The Muppets Find Out Which Muppet They Are” on YouTube, the Muppets take BuzzFeed’s Muppet quiz to determine which Muppet they are, a process one Muppet called “very meta.”
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “300 Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says that 300 is set in Sparta, “a Greek city state where shirts have been outlawed” and the film consists of “slow-motion fight scenes with very muscular men wearing very tight thongs.”
[Thanks to Nick Eden, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
It was June 1977, and the US was being invaded by robots. Leading the charge were R2-D2, C-3PO and the glass-domed dynamo that stared from the cover of the Alan Parsons Project’s album I Robot.
“It was impeccable timing by George Lucas,” Parsons recalls with a chuckle, “to be so considerate to bring out Star Wars at the same time as our album.” The previous year, Parsons, the audio engineer behind Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon, had turned auteur, mining the works of Edgar Allan Poe on his debut album Tales Of Mystery And Imagination (“It didn’t set the world alight,” Parsons says).
Now, Parsons and his creative partner Eric Woolfson had found literary inspiration in Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. The sci-fi writer’s morality-based story collection was built around his Three Laws of Robotics – robots must obey, protect and never harm humans.
Woolfson had a “pleasant conversation” with Asimov, who loved the idea of musicalising his book. Unfortunately the author had already sold the rights to a film/TV company. Undeterred, the duo dropped the titular comma, then wrote their own version….
Brian Jacques’ Redwall fantasy book series will be reimagined in animation thanks to a rights deal between Penguin Random House Children’s U.K. and Netflix: A feature film based on Jacques’ first book in the series, Redwall, is currently in development with writer Patrick McHale (Over the Garden Wall, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio), as well as an event series based on the character of Martin the Warrior.
The deal marks the first time that the film rights to the entire book series have been held by the same company and the first time a feature film of any of Jacques’ works will be made….
(3) SFWA STORYBUNDLE. The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) released its newest StoryBundle, Expansive Futures, a curated collection of books offered at a steeply discounted price. Readers who purchase Expansive Futures can opt to donate part of their purchase price to support SFWA’s ongoing work. The Expansive Futures StoryBundle will be available from February 10 to March 4, here.
Readers choose what price they want to pay for the initial five books. Spending $15 unlocks thirteen more books that they can receive with their purchase. Further details about how StoryBundle operates are available here.
The books in the bundle are:
Starship Hope: Exodus by T.S. Valmond
Raptor by John G. Hartness
The Chiral Conspiracy by L.L. Richman
Ganymede by Jason Taylor
The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth
Eternity’s End by Jeffrey A. Carver
When You Had Power by Susan Kaye Quinn
Annihilation Aria by Michael R. Underwood
The Solar Sea by David Lee Summers
The Cost of Survival by J. L. Stowers
Claiming T-MO by Eugen Bacon
The Hammer Falls by Travis Heermann
Warrior Wench by Marie Andreas
Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet by Philip Harris
Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall has praised comedian and actor John Bishop for “bringing a different flavour and a different humour” in his role as companion Dan in series 13 of the BBC sci-fi show.
Bishop was unveiled in a special teaser at the end of New Year’s special Revolution of the Daleks on January 1st and, according to the BBC, his character will become “embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures” in the now-filming series 13, where he’ll “quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe”.
Explaining why he cast Bishop in the new series, Chibnall told Doctor Who Magazine: “I’ve always got my eye out for performers who are loved, and wondering how good they might be as actors. There’s such a great history of performers who start out as comedians transitioning into becoming terrific actors – the best example being Robbie Coltrane in Cracker. John’s somebody I’ve been keeping a beady eye on for years….”
Horror roleplaying game Call of Cthulhu has overtaken Dungeons & Dragons’ popularity in Japan, with its success driven by an explosion in interest among younger fans and a growing audience of female players over the last decade….
According to the game’s production studio Arclight, most Call of Cthulhu players in Japan are women aged between 17 and 35. By way of comparison, Wizards of the Coast revealed last year that most Dungeons & Dragons players are under 30, with 40% aged 24 or younger and around a fifth aged between 30 and 34. The majority of D&D players – more than three-fifths – identified as male, with 39% identifying as female. Players who identified as non-binary or “other” comprised less than 1% of the audience.
… The absolute gall of any reviewer to start with the second book in a series and then complain that they don’t understand what’s going on, as though this is somehow the fault of the text! It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ve read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, a book whose plots and politics are both deep and intricate – as, indeed, one might expect from the first book of a projected series! Of course Coldiron had no idea what was going on. Which begs the question: why, if she had no intention of reading the first book in the series, did Coldiron feel the need to review the sequel – and why, even more pressingly, did Locus decide such an abysmal review was worth publishing in the first place?
With such a terrible starting point, it’s hardly a surprise that the full review – which is not yet available online – gets worse as it goes on. That Coldiron repeatedly gets a main character’s name wrong (Rayyan instead of Rayyal) is a minor sin in comparison to describing a book whose setting is explicitly based on the pre-colonial Philippines as a “richly imagined world [that] resembles England before the Norman Conquest.” That Coldiron somehow made this error this despite the customs, nomenclature and general everything about Villoso’s world is bizarre; to quote a different review, “This world isn’t your pseudo-medieval European world. It’s unequivocally Filipino with inspiration from other sources in Southeast Asia. Not once does Villoso allow you to believe this is anything but a fantasy set in a world inspired by the Philippines.”
Over and over, Coldiron talks about how difficult it is to keep track of various details of a narrative which – and I cannot stress this enough – is the sequel to a book she has not read, without ever stopping to consider that this is her problem rather than the author’s….
After Meadows analyzes several more examples of Coldiron’s reviews, Meadows says:
… If Coldiron was posting her reviews on a private blog, or at any venue less esteemed than Locus, it’s doubtful that I’d have bothered to write this piece; or at the very least, to have written this much. The real problem, though, is not Coldiron herself: it’s that Locus has failed to notice the regularity with which her reviews rebuke POC for things she either praises or lets pass when written by white authors; has allowed the inclusion of racism and microaggressions within her work without apparent editorial oversight; and has now seen nothing wrong with publishing a wildly unprofessional review that blames a sequel volume for the reviewer’s failure to have read the first instalment. It’s maddening and upsetting in equal measure, and at a time when both SFF and the wider literary community are ostensibly trying to do better by marginalised writers, it’s a sign of how thoroughly white privilege still blinds so much of the industry to its failings, even among those who consider themselves well-intentioned.
…To put it more simply, perhaps the Great Silence isn’t due to galactic civilizations shunning us, but rather due to the sad probability that no civilizations last long enough to communicate before they find some innovative way to remove themselves from the playing board….
Even the perennially upbeat Clifford Simak can see how it might happen!
Humanity at the beginning of the 21st century had so much promise. Famine and energy shortages were vanquished; humans had acquired the basic toolkit to construct a utopia. Yet a handful of centuries later, humans were all but extinct, save for one small, irrelevant city of dreamers in suspended animation. Between those two moments lies an endless cavalcade of good intentions gone horribly awry, each one leading well-intentioned humans towards total extinction.
You have collaborated with several authors. What advice do you have for writers who are interested in collaborating on fiction? What pitfalls are there to avoid?
First, the obligatory practical advice: if you’re going to collaborate, get the terms of the collaboration down in writing. Assume that one or both of you will drop dead, and your heirs will hate each other, and put your arrangements into at least a letter of agreement that all parties involved sign. I have only had to invoke this once, and it was utterly crucial to have the signed letter. It made what could have been a protracted legal mess merely unpleasant and saved the project. Get things in writing. Always.
Beyond that, my most successful collaborations have been with people who shared the same approach toward storytelling. I focus on story and character over theme or message; I get excited about my work and can spend hours making notes on the possible plot(s) and figuring out the connections among the characters and the ways they work in their worlds. I work best with people who share that interest in story and character, and with people who are also enthusiasts. (For me, there’s nothing better than getting an email from a collaborator with six links to videos of reconstructed Renaissance transitional fencing styles to illustrate a point. Your mileage may vary.) It’s basically a matter of understanding your own working style and trying to find a collaborator whose style meshes well with yours.
I didn’t try to publish anything until I was 30, when I basically had a midlife crisis. I was in a city I didn’t like, had not reached various milestones I wanted to reach, and was in student loan debt up to my eyeballs…
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2001 — Twenty years ago, China Miéville ‘s Perdido Street Station wins the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The other nominees that year were Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents, Mary Gentle’s Ash: A Secret History, Ken MacLeod’s Cosmonaut Keep, Alastair Reynolds’s Revelation Space and Adam Roberts’ Salt. Perdido Street Station would also win a BFA and be nominated for the BSFA, Otherwise and Nebula Awards. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 10, 1904 – Lurton Blassingame. Literary agent to John Barth, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, William F. Nolan. More letters to him in Grumbles from the Grave than anyone else; some from him too. Loved fishing, hunting, playing bridge, watching opera and ballet. After half a century his firm sold to Eleanor Wood’s Spectrum Literary Agency, 1979. His wife died the next year. His papers are at Univ. Oregon. (Died 1988) [JH]
Born February 10, 1906 — Lon Chaney Jr. I certainly best remember him as playing Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man but he has a lot of other roles as well: The Ghost of Frankenstein as The Monster (look, correct billing!), The Mummy’s Tomb as The Mummy Kharis or Son of Dracula as Count Dracula, he played all the great monsters, often multiple times. (Died 1973.) (CE)
Born February 10, 1920 — Alex Comfort. No smirking please as we’re supposed to be adults here. Yes he’s the author of The Joy of Sex but he did do some decidedly odd genre work as well. Clute at EoSF notes that his “first genuine sf novel, Come Out to Play (1961), is a near-future Satire on scientism narrated by a smug sexologist, whose Invention – a potent sexual disinhibitor jokingly called 3-blindmycin (see Drugs) – is accidentally released over Buckingham Palace at the Slingshot Ending, presumably causing the English to act differently than before.” ISFDB lists only a few genre works by him but EoSF has a generous lists of works. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born February 10, 1920 – Robert P. Mills. Edited The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (managing editor since F&SF began; editor, after Tony Boucher; succeeded in turn by Avram Davidson) and Venture. Ten years managing editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Five F&SF anthologies: Best of F&SF 9th, 10th, 11th Series; A Decade of F&SF; Twenty Years of F&SF (with Edward Ferman). Also The Worlds of SF. Three Hugos (Best Magazine to F&SF under RPM). One short story. After F&SF, a literary agent; sold firm to Richard Curtis, 1984. Papers at Univ. Texas. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born February 10, 1934 – Fleur Adcock, age 87. Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Fellow, Royal Soc. Literature. Cholmondely Award. One short story for us. A score of poetry collections; tr. The Virgin and the Nightingale (medieval Latin poems); ed. (with Jacqueline Simms) The Oxford Book of Creatures (verse & prose). [JH]
Born February 10, 1935 — Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the programme’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelization of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short lived BBC series that I’ve never heard of. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born February 10, 1953 — John Shirley, 68. I’m not going to even attempt a complete précis of his career. I read and much enjoyed his first novel City Come A-Walkin and oddly enough his Grimm: The Icy Touch is damn good too in way many of those sharecropped novels aren’t. I see that to my surprise he wrote a episode of Deep Space Nine, “Visionary” and also wrote three episodes of the ‘12 series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (CE)
Born February 10, 1953 – Tom Whitmore, age 68. Three decades a partner in “The Other Change of Hobbit” bookshop. Chaired Potlatch 2, SMOFcon 2 (SMOF is Secret Master Of Fandom, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke); co-chaired ConJosé the 60th Worldcon, Fan Guest of Honor at Denvention 3 the 66th; also Fan GoH at Westercon 36, Loscon XIV, Boskone 26 (as Special Guest, Boskone has no Fan GoH; anyway, see Debbie Notkin’s appreciation), Capclave 2006. Book reviews in Locus. Morris dancer. [JH]
Born February 10, 1967 — Laura Dern, 54. I’m going to note she’s in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet as Sandy Williams which is not genre but which is one fucking weird film. Jurassic Park where she is Dr. Ellie Sattler is her first SF film followed by Jurassic Park III and a name change to Dr. Ellie Degler. Such are the things movie trivia is made of. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has her showing as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. I think her first genre appearance was on Shelley Duvall’s Nightmare Classic. (CE)
Born February 10, 1970 – Robert Shearman, age 51. Fourscore short stories. Two of them Doctor Who; ed. The Shooting Scripts (with Paul Cornell, Russell Davis, Mark Gatiss); Rob and Tony’s Marathon Watch of “Doctor Who” vols. 1-2 (with Toby Hadoke). Interviewed in Nightmare. [JH]
Born February 10, 1976 — Keeley Hawes, 45. Ms Delphox/Madame Karabraxos in the most excellent Twelth Doctor story “Time Heist”. It wasn’t her first genre role as that would’ve been Tamara in that incredibly awful Avengers film. She also played Zoe Reynolds in MI5 which is at least genre adjacent given where the story went. She has also provided the voice of Lara Croft in a series of Tomb Raider video games. (CE)
Born February 10, 1987 – Cody Martin, age 34. Four novels, three shorter stories, with Mercedes Lackey (whose name, incidentally, means servant of mercy); five novels and a shorter story in the Secret World Chronicles (which is also a podcast) with Lackey, Veronica Giguere, Dennis Lee, Steve Libby. Eagle Scout. Gamer. “After I started writing him, John Murdock drifted away from me…. It surprised me, pleasantly.” [JH]
(14) MILESTONES. In “The Animation That Changed Cinema” on YouTube, Lewis Bond and Luiza Liz Bond look at how great artists like Lotte Reininger, Jan Svankmajer, and Brad Bird changed and improved animation.
the first three episodes of the series: “world of tomorrow”, “world of tomorrow episode two: the burden of other people’s thoughts”, and “world of tomorrow episode three: the absent destinations of david prime”
“intro”, a short cartoon that was created for the 2017 tour and has only ever been seen in theaters
a 32 page booklet, including brand new liner notes for all the titles
…“All I want is to stop feeling guilty for what I am, when what I am is necessary,” Wynonna, played by Melanie Scrofano, says at the beginning of the clip. The trailer then goes on to show Wynonna on a bit of a bender — killing demons, getting drunk, hooking up, and passing out, all with Peacemaker back by her side.
… Aleph Farms’ new 3-D bioprinting technology— which uses living animal cells as opposed to plant-based alternatives — allows for premium whole-muscle cuts to come to market, broadening the scope of alt-meat in what is expected to be a rich area of expansion for food companies.
Several other companies are sprinting to capture what is expected to be a robust appetite for what is often called “cultivated meat.” San Diego-based BlueNalu has announced its intent to bring cell-based seafood products to market in the second half of this year; Israel-based Future Meat Technologies and Dutch companies Meatable and Mosa Meat aim to have cultivated meat products in the market by 2022, each with proprietary methods of growing meat tissues from punch biopsies from live or slaughtered animals.
But the lack of a regulatory framework could stymie the companies’ race to market. In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the world’s first head of state to eat cultivated meat, and that same month Singapore became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for the sale of cultivated meat. It remains unclear when other countries will follow suit. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has not set a date for when it will rule on the matter….
Branded as the company’s first uncrewed ultimate mobility vehicle (UMV), TIGER is meant to transform from a four-wheel drive vehicle to a four-legged walking machine….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, N., Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Betsy Hanes Perry, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, JJ, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Each year, writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror from all over the world apply to the Odyssey Writing Workshops. No more than sixteen are admitted. Odyssey combines advanced lectures, in-depth feedback, and individual guidance. Writers from all over the world apply. Guest lecturers include top writers, editors, and agents. Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos is a bestselling author, former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, and winner of the World Fantasy Award.
The annual six-week residential workshop will be held June 7 – July 16, 2021 on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire if the world has returned to a post-COVID state of near normality. If social distancing is still necessary but travel is possible, the workshop will be held in person with COVID precautions. If travel for many is not possible, the workshop will be held online, as it was in 2020.
Class meets for over 4 ½ hours, 5 days a week, and students use afternoons, evenings, and weekends to write, critique each other’s work, and complete other class assignments. Anyone interested in applying should read “Workshopping at Odyssey” by David J. Schwartz, class of ’96.
2021 GUEST LECTURERS: Lecturers for the 2021 workshop include bestselling authors David Farland, Meagan Spooner, and Gregory Ashe; award-winning authors Melissa Scott and P. Djèlí Clark; and award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas. Bestselling author David Brin and award-winning editor/publisher Scott H. Andrews will also participate as virtual guests via Zoom.
APPLICATION DEADLINE. The application deadline is APRIL 1. Those wanting early action on their application should apply by JANUARY 31.
JANUARY 31 DEADLINE FOR EARLY ADMISSION. Many people need to know months ahead of time whether they’ve been accepted into the workshop or not, so they can make arrangements for time off, child care, and so on. The early application system is set up for them. Any applications received by January 31 are automatically considered for early admission.
Applications will receive fair consideration whether submitted early or at the last minute as long as it arrives by the regular application deadline
COSTS. The workshop is held by the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Odyssey is funded in part by donations from graduates, grantors and supporters, and in part by student tuition.
The tuition, $2,450, includes a textbook and weekly group dinners. Housing in campus apartments is $892 for a double room and $1,784 for a single. College credit is available.
FINANCIAL AID. For those interested in financial aid, several scholarships and one work/study position are available.
The Miskatonic Scholarship: George R. R. Martin, the New York Times bestselling author of A Game of Thrones,funds the Miskatonic Scholarship, awarded each year to a writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror attending Odyssey. It covers full tuition and housing.
The Walter & Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship, covering full tuition, will be awarded to a fantasy writer whose novel excerpt shows great skill and promise.
Four other scholarships and a work/study position are also available.
You can find a video of Odyssey graduates describing their experiences here:
R. F. Kuang, class of 2016, won the Astounding Award and the Crawford Award and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award. Her first two novels, The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic, were included on Time magazine’s 100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time.
Linden Lewis, also from the class of 2016, recently had her first novel, The First Sister, published by Skybound/Simon & Schuster.
Rona Wang, class of 2020, sold her first novel, You Had Me at Hello World, to Simon Pulse.
Julian K. Jarboe, class of 2018, had their debut short story collection, Everyone on the Moon Is Essential Personnel, named one of the “Best Books of 2020” by Publishers Weekly.
New York Times bestselling author Meagan Spooner, class of 2009, had The Other Side of the Sky, her sixth novel co-written with Amie Kaufman, published by HarperCollins.
OTHER ODYSSEY RESOURCES AND SERVICES. Information about Odyssey’s workshop, online classes, critique service, and many free resources, including a podcast and monthly online discussion salon, can be found at www.odysseyworkshop.
Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon Web Services on Monday, just hours after the social media network was taken offline when Amazon pulled support.
Parler filed the suit against Amazon on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The company alleges in the suit that Amazon breached its contract by not giving it 30 days’ notice before dropping service. Parler also argued that Amazon was being hypocritical by not taking similar action against Twitter, where violent posts can also appear.Big Tech abandoned the social media site, known for allowing unfettered speech on its platform, over the weekend after expressing concern that the site was not properly moderating posts that could incite violence. Google and Apple removed Parler from its app stores, while Amazon — which was hosting the site on its cloud — decided to stop working with it, effectively removing it from the Internet.
…Even after Apple warned Parler that it needed to implement a more thorough content moderation plan or be kicked off the App Store, the social media network spurned the idea.
(2) HOYT. Sarah Hoyt, in “…Book Promo And Some Blather By Sarah” [Internet Archive link], urged people not to make her Amazon sales collateral damage in their reaction to its treatment of Parler.
A lot of you are furious at Amazon for joining the unconscionable censorship of Parler, which btw is still relatively small and all innocuous, other than, you know, allowing Trump a platform (Because as invaders, the left can’t let the president of the US address the nation, of course.) Look, so am I. I’m even more furious because I have no way out of the trap.
Yes, a lot of you — yes, I’m looking at you — have raged at Amazon for years and told us it would come for us and that we should get out now. This was not only misguided (I’ll explain why) but also it’s kind of the equivalent of poking a chained prisoner and saying “run.” He really wants to, but all you’re actually doing is torturing and wounding him.
However, since last night, this has TRULY become an emergency, not because of what Amazon will do or won’t do to ebook fiction (more on that) but because a core of my readers will now refuse to buy from Amazon under any circumstances, which means that I’m going to lose a lot of my income (and Amazon won’t give a flying fig. But I get your outrage, I understand, and yet you’ll only hurt the writers, UNTIL WE HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE.)
(3) CORREIA. Larry Correia’s post “Bow Before Appgooglezon” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation mentions neither Parler nor Amazon, but everyone in comments knows what’s being discussed, and they do name them.
(4) PUNDITRY. Camestros Felapton finds the two prior authors a source of inspiration for his own commentary. Quoted here are the final lines of a pair of his latest posts.
…It is a bit late in the day for Larry to discover that Elizabeth Warren had a point but it is noticeable that the step big tech took that tipped Larry over the edge was them clamping down on speech aimed at inciting violence to over throw an election.
Just because it was a stupid coup attempt doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real coup attempt. Trump plumped for the thing to happen in his nodding and winking way on Twitter, and he incited it and encouraged it in person. The attendees came expecting to take part in one, and had planned their strategy, such as it was, on Parler and other not-exactly-savory portions of the internet. They brought weapons and zip ties. They went looking for congresspeople. They weren’t just there to hang out on the mall, wave their Trump flags, get a churro and go home. They meant business. Fortunately like all Trump business, it went belly up in record time. But that’s neither here nor there for the intent….
(6) JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin identifies some historical myopia in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video (linked in yesterday’s Scroll) but adds “I’m mostly fine with Arnold’s message, BTW.”
(7) WATCHING BB. Buckaroo Banzai is the theme of the World Watch One Newsletter for January 10 [PDF file] which contains Steven H Silver’s “The Buckaroo Barrier” (pp. 15-16) where he explains, “I’ve been a fan of the film Buckaroo Banzai ever since I saw it in the theatres. A few years ago, I realized that for a lot of people, the first viewing of the film left them confused and disliking the film. I discuss why a second viewing may be necessary to appreciate it.”
Yesterday, I marked the fifth anniversary of my decision to quit drinking alcohol. It was the most consequential choice I have ever made in my life, and I am able to stand before you today only because I made it.
I was slowly and steadily killing myself with booze. I was getting drunk every night, because I couldn’t face the incredible pain and PTSD I had from my childhood, at the hands of my abusive father and manipulative mother.
It was unsustainable, and I knew it was unsustainable, but when you’re an addict, knowing something is unhealthy and choosing to do something about it are two very different things….
While but a callow youth, I subscribed to the Science Fiction Book Club. The club, wise in the ways of procrastination, would send each month’s selection of books to subscribers UNLESS the subscribers had sent the club a card informing the SFBC that one did not want the books in question. All too often I planned to send the card off, only to realize (once again), when a box of books arrived, that intent is not at all the same thing as action.
Thus, I received books that I would not have chosen but, once in possession, I read and enjoyed them. All praise to the SFBC and the power of procrastination! Here are five of my favorite unintended reading experiences…
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1991 — The Nebula Award for Best Novel went to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, the fourth novel of the Earthsea sequence. It published by Atheneum in 1990. It had been twenty years since the last Earthsea novel was published. It would be not the last novel as The Other Wind would follow twenty years later. It would also win the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 11, 1886 – Samuel Cahan. Frequent Argosy interiors for us, e.g. Pirates of Venus and The Synthetic Men of Mars (Burroughs), “The Earth-Shaker” (Leinster). Outside our field e.g. this fine drawing of Woodrow Wilson. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born January 11, 1906 – John Myers Myers. A score of books, including historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry; for us marvelously Silverlock – get the NESFA Press edition with songs, a Reader’s Guide, commentary; as the folklorist George Melikis said about something else, “I love studying Macedonia because everybody lives there.” (Died 1988) [JH]
Born January 11, 1923 — Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which the Fantastic Voyage series and the Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.) (CE)
Born January 11, 1928 – Virgil Burnett. Author, illustrator, sculptor, Professor of Fine Arts at Univ. Waterloo (Ontario, Canada). A dozen short stories collected in Towers at the Edge of a World. Here is a cover for The War of the Worlds. Here is his frontispiece for Jurgen. Here, The Rubâ‘îyat [pl. of rubâ‘î , a kind of quatrain] of Omar Khayyam. Here is his cover for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Here is Alexander the Great. See this note on a 2013 exhibit by his daughter at Haverford College. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born January 11, 1930 — Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), the Hugo nominated The Time Machine, Colossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script though there’s no proof of this), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born January 11, 1931 – Mary Rodgers. Her Freaky Friday and three sequels are ours; I’m unsure about her musical Once Upon a Mattress – is “The Princess and the Pea” fantasy? She did music and lyrics for Davy Jones’ Locker with the Bill Baird marionettes, also music for a Pinocchio with them. Daughter of Richard Rodgers. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born January 11, 1937 — Felix Silla, 84. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (CE)
Born January 11, 1961 — Jasper Fforde, 60. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted word play as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought last year when I wrote Birthday note up that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. (CE)
Born January 11, 1963 — Jason Connery, 58. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly, including the music done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (much least favorite Doctors). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins. (CE)
Born January 11, 1972 — Tom Ward, 39. He’s Captain Latimer in the Eleventh Doctor’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”. He played H.G. Wells in Hallmark’s The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells series, and he’s Edward Goodwin in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. His latest genre role was as Sir Robert Peel in The Frankenstein Chronicles. (CE)
Born January 11, 1976 – Alethea Kontis, age 45. A dozen novels for us, four dozen shorter stories. NY Times and USA Today best-seller. Keynote address at Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference. “Alethea means truth in Greek, but I was named after an episode from the first season of Kung Fu where Jodie Foster played a little girl named Alethea Ingram…. Our last name was originally Kontaridis, but my grandfather shortened it.” Makes good baklava, plays bad acoustic guitar. [JH]
Born January 11, 1987 – Wesley King, age 34. A dozen novels, including two with Kobe Bryant and the possibly well-titled Incredible Space Rangers from Space. NY Times best-seller. Has read “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, The Time Machine, four Shakespeare plays, War and Peace, Where the Wild Things Are. Lives in Nova Scotia and on a 1967 sailboat. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
At The Far Side, alien researchers have made a little mistake.
…For me, my intention is I really want all my stories to speak to those moments in our lives when the scrim drops away and we’re confronted with the brutality of this life that we’re living in. And also the beauty. But I want my stories to be comforting in the sense that they won’t be full of shit if you read them at a low moment. That means that I don’t want anything in a story that doesn’t serve that purpose, or another way of saying it is I don’t want anything weird to happen until it’s going to do that kind of emotional work. So my default is there’s no weird shit allowed. I’m basically a realist at heart. But every so often you get to a place where a story is saying, “If you will just let me have the talking spider, I will be more profound.” Or often what it does is it says, “There’s a question that I have to ask here in this story, but I can’t do it without the talking spider. Would you allow it?”
Massachusetts residents have no shortage of state symbols through which to celebrate their regional devotion….
Now, Massachusetts state legislator Jack Patrick Lewis is lobbying for another one: state dinosaur. As Boston.com reports, Lewis has fostered a passion for prehistoric creatures ever since seeing The Land Before Time (1988) in his youth, and he’s hoping an official state dinosaur will help fellow Bay Staters learn about the area’s early history.
Lewis has chosen two species to consider for the designation. The Podokesaurus holyokensis is a 3-to-6-foot carnivore whose fossils were unearthed around Mount Holyoke in 1910. Mignon Talbot, the woman who made the discovery, was the first woman to ever name a newfound dinosaur. The Podokesaurus’s competition is the Anchisaurus polyzelus, a slightly larger herbivore whose bones were located in Springfield, Massachusetts, more than half a century earlier….
…“This kind of discovery—in essence, fossilized behavior—is the rarest of the rare in dinosaurs,” explains Dr. Lamanna. “Though a few adult oviraptorids have been found on nests of their eggs before, no embryos have ever been found inside those eggs. In the new specimen, the babies were almost ready to hatch, which tells us beyond a doubt that this oviraptorid had tended its nest for quite a long time. This dinosaur was a caring parent that ultimately gave its life while nurturing its young.”
The team also conducted oxygen isotope analyses that indicate that the eggs were incubated at high, bird-like temperatures, adding further support to the hypothesis that the adult perished in the act of brooding its nest. Moreover, although all embryos were well-developed, some appear to have been more mature than others, which in turn suggests that oviraptorid eggs in the same clutch might have hatched at slightly different times. This characteristic, known as asynchronous hatching, appears to have evolved independently in oviraptorids and some modern birds.
You’ve published six books in your Hazard and Somerset mysteries. Do you tend to outline your books and series ahead of time, or do you tend to figure things out as you go along? When you started the series, did you know how many books you would write and where your characters would end up?
Although I have become more and more of an outliner, there is still an element of excavation and discovery in each book I write. One challenge I’ve faced as a writer is that I tend to write long books—and if I’m not careful, they become massive. Outlining helps me control the size of the story, as well as ensuring that I hit the right beats and turns when and where I want to. The excavatory and exploratory side of storytelling tends to happen, for me, between those major plot points. I have written quite a few books without an outline at all, but that is less and less the case. The same is true for series. The Hazard and Somerset series essentially took shape as two parts: the first four books, and then the last two. I learned from that, and when I wrote ‘season two,’ Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords, I had a fairly comprehensive outline for the five-book series. I now tend to write all of my series this way, with an outline to guide the pacing of the series as well as the individual books.
Jonathan Lawton is a visionary artist. His work may seem humble—the West Yorkshire man builds model railways, set in blue-skied little villages, just like so many other people looking for a productive reprieve from their daily lives. But, Lawton’s work extends beyond its genre and into the realm of speculative fiction thanks to his collaborator, a cat named Mittens that towers like a benevolent god in a showcase of his creation….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Power Rangers Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains that people who see the Power Rangers remake will not enjoy Bryan Cranston’s performance as a 65-million-year-old blue guy or that there’s no Power Rangers action until 90 minutes into the movie.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
You write under Dave Wolverton for science fiction stories and David Farland for fantasy stories. How did you decide on using two names for your fiction? When would you advise writers to use pseudonyms?
“Wolverton” is a cool enough name for a writer, but so often my books ended up on the bottom shelf. I thought only garden gnomes walking through the store were likely to find them. In fact, research done by Campbell’s Soups showed that 92% of people won’t stoop over to get their favorite soup from the bottom shelf. So think about it. Does that mean that 92% of my readers were being lost?
Maybe I wasn’t losing quite that many, but I think it makes a difference.
So, why change your name?
Change it if it is too close to another famous author’s name. For example, if you’re named Steve King, change your name.
Change it if it’s unpronounceable or offensive. I used to have a good friend whose last name was Shnitz. I’d change it.
Change it if it’s too long to fit on a cover. My real name, at nine letters, was a tad too long.
Change it if you’re writing to vastly different audiences. I used to know a writer who wrote erotica under one name but wrote for Christian audiences under another. He actually used more than twenty pseudonyms since he wrote for a lot of different magazines.
Basically, I try to put pride in my work, not my name. My writer’s name is just a marketing tool, not my identity.
… Several generations later, my family prefers social media. Even members who hate technology have Twitter accounts and they share. Because traditional Indian arts rely on the supply and demand of in-person sales, our forms often include fresh subjects. Nephews send me links to Pacific Northwest superheroes and Star Wars, dubbed into Dine (Navajo). If Tuscarora or Onondaga did this, I’d be all over the effort. I’ve memorized an inappropriate percentage of Star Wars dialogue, and I spoke Tuscarora decently as a kid. The infrastructure is there in my head. I have a kid’s love for Star Wars, less embarrassed than a lot of middle-aged men. I’ve owned a beaded Batman belt-buckle for over half my life. The adult half.
Star Wars is a lens Indians have readily adopted. I love the weird visual pun of a white Rez Dog rocking an orange Stormtrooper pauldron. I also understand the brilliance of the Dine language dub. We recently lost our last Tuscarora continuous fluent speaker, in his nineties. Younger people long studied with him, but now that door is closed. We understand Princess Leia seeking Obi-Wan Kenobi. Her Only Hope was an elder’s endurance. Now that ours is gone, our language fragments float in space like Alderaan, destroyed by the Empire’s weapon, the oo-nih-SEH`rheh Gih-heh. Is it too late to reassemble and master those fragments? If someone started scrolling through my phone pics, could I tell them in Tuscarora that it’s not the droid they’re looking for? Could we laugh?
I love that Twitter doesn’t require an account. Lurking, I stumbled upon #NativeTwitter. Like many Rez gatherings, it has undercurrents of just deadly grousing and gossip, sick burns and sometimes out and out raw belligerence and trolling people who should know better. But as often, it’s an auger for indigenous sweet spots. I’ve regularly seen beginning beadwork artists ask for and receive help. It gives me hope, but not enough to create an account. I know my limitations, or some of them, anyway….
… It is no wonder, then, that even after saving most of the then-known world from the evil power of Sauron yet again, that Gandalf would become embittered and, not only take on an entirely new persona of Eric Lensherr/Magneto (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, etc), but turn his back on his prior methods and many of the people he had fought to protect….
(4) READ MORE ABOUT PHYLLIS EISENSTEIN. Bill Higgins notes, “Phyllis and her husband Alex have been good friends to me for over forty years. I wrote a little over at Making Light. She had friends everywhere across the SF world, I believe, and she leaves behind a large empty space in Chicago fandom.”
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 14, 1984 — On his day in 1984, Dune premiered. It was directed by David Lynch and produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis, the screenplay was by David Lynch from the Hugo Award winning novel by Frank Herbert. It starred Francesca Annis, Linda Hunt, Sting, Kyle MacLachlan and a cast of thousands. It did spectacularly poorly at the box office and was treated rather badly by critics. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes however give a quite spectacular sixty six percent rating. It would place in fourth in Hugo voting at AussieCon Two (1985) with 2010: Odyssey Two winning that year.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 14, 1869 – Elphinstone Dayrell. His Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria (1910; he was then District Commissioner) published forty tales, many fantastic; the text, with its introduction by Andrew Lang, is here; most reprinted 2019 with much else in African Myths & Tales. (Died 1917) [JH]
Born December 14, 1916 — Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has been made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story which recently was made into a series. I see that’s she’s written quite a bit of genre short fiction — has anyone here read it? (Died 1965.) (CE)
Born December 14, 1920 — Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books particularly her historical fiction which involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born December 14, 1939 – John Baxter, age 83. Four novels, a dozen shorter stories; two Pacific Book of SF anthologies; film (including SF in the Cinema and biographies of e.g. Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini), television; four volumes of memoirs; letters, essays in Australian SF Review, Relapse (which I wish had kept the title Prolapse, but what do I know?), Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary, Trap Door, Xero. [JH]
Born December 14, 1946 – Jenny Sullivan, Ph.D., age 74. A score of books for us, a dozen others, with Welsh themes, some in both Welsh and English. Chilton Bursary. Two Tir na n-Og Awards. Returns to visit Wales from her current home in Brittany. Would you like to know about a Magic Apostrophe? Do you think a girl your age named Astarte Perkins might make a good friend? [JH]
Born December 14, 1959 — Debbie Lee Carrington. Actress who was an ardent advocate for performers with disabilities. She was the performer inside the Howard the Duck costume, a Martian rebel named Thumbelina in Total Recall, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (and in the TV movies that followed, a Drone in Invaders from Mars, Little Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons, an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns and a Chucky double in Curse of Chucky. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born December 14, 1960 — Don Franklin, 60. He’s best known for his roles in seaQuest DSV as Commander Jonathan Ford, Seven Days as Captain Craig Donovan, and as one of The Young Riders as Noah Dixon). No, the last isn’t remotely genre but it was a great role. (CE)
Born December 14, 1964 — Rebecca Gibney, 56. She was of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and was also in King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes mini-series. She also had one- offs in Time Trax, Farscape and The Lost World, all of which were produced either in Australia or New Zealand, convenient as she’s New Zealand born and resident. (CE)
Born December 14, 1966 — Sarah Zettel, 54. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start. (CE)
Born December 14, 1967 – Ewa Bialolecka, age 53. (The software won’t show some characters in her name; it should have a kreska ukosna “stroke” through each l – so they’re like English w – and an ogonek “little tail” on the e – so it’s nasal; the w is like English v, the c is like English ts.) Two novels, a dozen shorter stories. Two Zajdel Awards. Also stuffed creatures, stained glass, drawings, jewelry; see her at DeviantArt. [JH]
Born December 14, 1979 – Samit Basu, age 41. A dozen novels, a few shorter stories; comics; film. Turbulence and sequel Resistance much applauded e.g. in Wired. Here is a 2017 interview. [JH]
Born December 13, 1980 – Ma Boyong, age 40. A dozen novels; also a columnist and blogger. The First Emperor’s Games is about the first Emperor of China: what if he could play video games like Risk (yes, based on the board game) or Angry Birds? It, The City of Silence, and The Mark Twain Robots are available in English. People’s Literature Prize (2010). [JH]
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Not Pulp Covers hosts an artist’s conception of an accident between Santa and a UFO.
(8) INDIE GONE WILD. This is the kind of thing I’d expect to see at Mad Genius Club.
(9) MAKER. Here is a Swede who built his own Warhammer space marine 2.7 meters tall – see the video at SVT Nyheter (and read about him if you know Swedish.)
He previously built a panzerbear from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials – video and a full report in Swedish here.
Can rocky planets around small stars hold onto their atmospheres? Are super-Earths habitable?
Laura Kreidberg, exoplanet atmosphere specialist and director of the APEx Department at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, reviews the latest controversies and recent discoveries of exoplanet research.
Exoplanet detection may be old news—over 4,000 have been discovered to date—but the new frontier lies in unraveling the composition of exoplanet atmospheres, their number of moons, and whether they hold the potential for life. In this month’s Frontiers Lecture, investigate how researchers approach these questions and the scientific processes and evidence supporting their hypotheses.
Suppose for the sake of argument the Kepler data is correct when it suggests there are as many as three hundred million (300,000,000!) potentially life-bearing worlds orbiting sunlike stars in our Milky Way. Suppose we win the jackpot and they are all Earthlike enough for us to occupy. Suppose further some grand unified polity spans the whole of the Milky Way, in the manner of Asimov’s Galactic Empire. Among the many implications is the fact that the Ministry of Oh Crap What Now would have to deal with rare natural events relatively frequently. No doubt stressful for our overworked functionaries, but a godsend for SF authors with an appetite for thrilling peril….
Sabrina’s aunts are back! But…they’re not the aunts that this Sabrina is familiar with.
Netflix has just dropped a majorly tease-y clip from the upcoming final season of Chilling Adventures, in which Sabrina, unsure of just where she actually seems to be, finds herself meeting her “new” Aunts…except, well, they’re her old aunts.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, David Steffen, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Bill Higgins, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus inspired by Bill with an assist from OGH.]