Pixel Scroll 3/10/19 Don’t Go Chasing Waterscrolls – Please Stick To The Pixels And The Clicks You Know

(1) WAYWARD WRITERS. Cat Rambo shares her notes from Kay Kenyon’s class about plotting, “Mapping the Labyrinth”:

(2) OUTSIDE THE THEATER. Abigail Nussbaum convincingly argues that the discussion around Captain Marvel is more significant than the movie.

…Which is really the most important thing you can say about Captain Marvel: this is a movie that is important not because of what happens in it, but because of what happens around it.  The most interesting conversations you can have regarding it all take place in the meta-levels–what does Captain Marvel mean for the MCU, for superhero movies, for pop culture?

…Another example is the way Captain Marvel refigures Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who functions here as Carol’s sidekick on Earth, where she crash-lands after being captured by Skrulls, the enemies of the Kree.  Fury has been a fixture of the MCU since he showed up in the after-credits scene of Iron Man in 2008, and has always cut an imposing figure: a grey eminence, spymaster, and general who suffers no fools and always has plans within plans in his monomaniacal quest to defend the Earth from alien dangers.  The version of Fury we meet in Captain Marvel is much more down to earth–funny, self-deprecating, willing to pause his serious pursuits in order to coo over an adorable cat, and inordinately pleased with himself over minor bits of spycraft, like fooling a fingerprint reader with a bit of tape.

It can be hard to square the Fury in Captain Marvel with the one we’ve known for twelve years in the rest of the MCU, and once again, when looking for solutions, one immediately turns to the metafictional.  My first thought when the film’s credits rolled was “someone told Jackson to just do what he did in The Long Kiss Goodnight“.….

(3) SPEAKING OF THE BIG BUCKS. Forbes’ Scott Mendelson listened to the cash register ring this weekend: “Box Office: ‘Captain Marvel’ Trolled The Trolls With A $455M Global Launch”.

The Brie Larson/Samuel L. Jackson/Reggie the Cat sci-fi adventure opened with $153m in North America this weekend, which is the second-biggest solo superhero non-sequel launch behind Black Panther ($202m in 2018). It’s the third-biggest March opening of all time, sans inflation, behind Batman v Superman ($166m in 2016) and Beauty and the Beast ($174m in 2017).

(4) HEAR IT FROM AN AGENT: Odyssey Workshops interviewed guest lecturer, literary agent Joshua Bilmes:

You founded JABberwocky Literary Agency in 1994, and your agency has grown since, adding several agents and assistants. What are the most common problems in the manuscript submissions you receive?

Make every word count! No excess description. No tossing facial gestures like smiles and smirks onto the page for no good reason. Never stopping to give a three-line description of every character when they come on stage. Quoting two of Bradbury’s 8 Rules:

• Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

• Start as close to the end as possible.

Most writers don’t understand that an agent can only represent a limited number of authors, and that agents specialize in particular types of fiction. Can you discuss how many authors you represent and why you’ve settled on that number? Can you describe the areas that you specialize in and why you’ve chosen those areas?

In an alternate universe, the initial crop of mysteries I sold (my very first sale as an agent was a mystery) would have taken off and the sf/fantasy not done as well! I never consciously set out to be a specialist. I don’t count clients; I have “clients” who haven’t written a book in 20 years, so do I count them? And some I’m working with but haven’t yet sold. I don’t target a particular number of clients. I’d say it’s my ability to get through my reading pile that says if I can take on more or fewer; that’s the pressure valve that says if the apparatus can safely support more.

(5) ODIN’S OPINIONS. The New York Times interviews the actor about American Gods, Seasonn 2: “Ian McShane Puts All His [Expletives] in the Right Place”. Also discusses other projects, including a remake of Hellboy and the sequel to Deadwood.

The series touches on immigration, racism, xenophobia and gun control. Did you have any idea how prescient it would be?

Well, it was very interesting what was happening when we did the first season of “American Gods.” The country has taken a serious lurch to the right, as much as they’d love to say it’s taken a serious lurch to the left. I don’t think America would know a socialist if they fell over him. They think it’s somebody who lives in a garret in Russia and has no telephone and no refrigerator. But that’s due to their lack of education. America’s been dumbed down over the years, which is a shame. It’s wonderful to see Congress now with a rainbow color, if you like, of immigrants and nationalities and people who love this country. They’re talking about it in a different way.

(6) THE PRICE ON THE BOUNTY HUNTER. Popular Mechanic’s article “The Great Star Wars Heist” recalls that in 2017, an uncovered toy theft ruptured the Star Wars collecting community. Two years later, the collectors—and the convicted—are still looking for a way forward.

…After talking with Wise, though, Tann’s doubts reached beyond one Boba Fett. The legitimacy of the dozens of purchases he’d made from Cunningham were at stake. Were those stolen goods, too?

Tann shared a comprehensive list of his purchases with Wise and, sure enough, Wise recognized more collectibles of his. But he noticed something else, too. The large volume of items that Cunningham was selling suggested that he had been stealing from someone else.

And the quality of the collectibles left little doubt as to who it was.

(7) SHEINBERG OBIT. Universal Studios executive Sidney Sheinberg died March 7 reports the New York Times. His career-launching connection with Steven Spielberg proved lucrative for both.

Mr. Sheinberg, who could be as tender as he was prickly, was the one who allowed Mr. Spielberg to make “Jaws,” giving him a budget of $3.5 million (about $17 million in today’s money). A problem-plagued shoot pushed the cost to more than twice as much. But Mr. Sheinberg… continued to support the film, which went on to become the prototype for the wide-release summer blockbuster.

“Sid created me, in a way, and I also re-created Sid, in a way,” Mr. Spielberg was quoted as saying in The New York Times in 1997.

Under Mr. Sheinberg’s watch, Universal released two more hits from Mr. Spielberg, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Jurassic Park”(1993). It was Mr. Sheinberg who handed Mr. Spielberg Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s List,” which the director turned into his masterpiece of the same title. Released in 1993, it won seven Academy Awards, including best picture.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 10, 1891 Sam Jaffe. His first role was in Lost Horizon  as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still  playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script oddly enough. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 10, 1921 Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
  • Born March 10, 1932 Robert Dowdell. He’s best known for his role as Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. After that series, he showed up in genre series such as Max Headroom, Land of the GiantsBuck Rogers in the 25th Century  and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 2018.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Marvin Kaye, 81. Currently the editor of Weird Tales, he has also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.  The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award.
  • Born March 10, 1958 Sharon Stone, 61. Damn, she’s the same age I am. She’s been in three genre films, her first being Total Recall where she played the ill-fated Lori Quaid. Her next was Sphere where she was cast as Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Halperin, and last was in, errr, Catwoman where she was Laurel Hedare, an assassin. 
  • Born March 10, 1977 Bree Turner, 42. She’s best known for her role as Rosalee on Grimm. She also starred in the pilot episode (“Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”) of Masters of Horror. She was in Jekyll + Hyde as Martha Utterson. Confession time: I got through maybe three seasons of Grimm before giving up as it became increasingly silly.

(9) GODSTALK. Nerds of a Feather discusses “6 Books with Catherine Lundoff”:

3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to reread?

I’m in the middle of a slow reread of P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series so I can get caught up with the latest volumes in time for the new book to come out later on in 2019. I’ve just finished rereading God Stalk and Dark of the Moon, so Seeker’s Mask is next. It’s been rereleased a few times but this remains my favorite cover. If you are looking for a really splendid high fantasy series with a darker edge, intricate worldbuilding, a complex heroine and fascinating cast of characters, this is one of the best around.

(10) AWARD WORTHY. Camestros Felapton is doing a review series about the Nebula-nominated novelettes. Here are links to three:

(11) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Idris Elba guest hosted Saturday Night Live. His sketches included –

  • “The Impossible Hulk”
  • “Can I Play That/” in which actors are told they can’t play various parts because trolls on Twitter say they can’t.

(12) GONE CRUISIN’. I don’t know what to say… (See second tweet.)

(13) AKA JOHN CLEVE, Here’s a curiosity: a scan of a 7-page andy offutt letter to Bob Gaines from 1977, mostly a history/list of his porn novels, but also about a page of current events about his career at the time.

(14) DENIAL DENIERS. Cody Delistraty, in “John Lanchester’s Future Tells The Truth” on Vulture, profiles British novelist John Lanchester, whose new sf novel THE WALL is an attempt to educate readers about climate change without preaching to them.

…Something else sets Lanchester apart from crossover literary personalities of yore. He has the ability to deflect — and to notice, too, when most people want to look away from the truth. (He has a “deep sympathy” for climate-change deniers.) He knows where to find the most pressing emergencies facing humanity, as he’s proven time and again with his nonfiction. But, crucially, in his fiction, he also knows when and how people tend to avoid the toughest topics. A central goal of his recent novels — which grounds them in cold reality — is to draw attention to what we might otherwise not want to notice: What are the lies that we must tell ourselves? What must we believe in order to cope with the world? Questions that, perhaps unsurprisingly, spring directly from his own life.

(15) GIVE IT A MISS. Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertaiment story “How Captain Marvel Avided Controversial Comic-Book Past To Create Empowered Female Ideal,” notes that when Carol Danvers first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1968, she was known as “Ms. Marvel,” but the producers of the Captain Marvel movie threw out these early years as sexist and based the film on a 2012 reboot of the character.

…Danvers first appeared in 1968. Originally known as Ms. Marvel, the character had fought for feminist causes throughout her comic book history, but her depiction by male writers and artists had several problematic elements. The oft-scantily clad Ms. Marvel had a tendency of being objectified or oversexualized; one infamous storyline in 1980 even featured her being raped and impregnated by an intergalactic supervillain….

(16) LEGACY. Neil Gaiman wrote this eulogy after Harlan Ellison passed away last June. It ends:

He left behind a lot of stories. But it seems to me, from the number of people reaching out to me and explaining that he inspired them, that they became writers from reading him or from listening to him on the radio or from seeing him talk (sometimes it feels like 90% of the people who came to see Harlan and Peter David and me talk after 911 at MIT have gone on to become writers) and that his real legacy was of writers and storytellers and people who were changed by his stories.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A clip from The Jack Benny Program with Rod Serling.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/29/19 Dill Pixels

(1) TIPTREE ON TV? Jennifer Kent, who directed the exceptional horror film The Babadook, and is currently at Sundance screening her second film, the historical drama The Nightingale, is developing a project based on the life and stories of James Tiptree Jr. / Alice Sheldon: “Sundance 2019 Interview: Babadook Director Jennifer Kent on Her New Film, The Nightingale” at Rogerebert.com.

And Tiptree?

I don’t know where to start. There was this writer of short science fiction stories in ’60s and ’70s who was very feted, and of the level of Philip K. Dick, or Ursula Le Guin. He was really creating the most powerful stories of gender and of being an outsider. But they were so potent, very prescient; because it’s almost the world we’re living in now. So they were written 50 years ago. They’re incredibly relevant still, and then he was sort of well known. His stories were well known, but no one knew who he was for 10 years, and then eventually someone uncovered his identity to be a woman in her 60s, in I think Virginia. This woman’s story is unbelievable. Unbelievable. And she was a genius. So I want to tell her story.

So you’ll make something episodic at a network?

Yeah, but including her short stories within. It’s not a straight biopic; so aliens from her stories inhabit her true world, and then she will be in the world of her stories, and it’s so exciting to me. It’s science fiction, which I love. I came across that because I was being given a lot of science fiction scripts. And I thought, “Where are the female science fiction stories?” So I Googled “female science fiction”, and I came across her! It was so hard to get the rights. And then I got all the rights to these stories, so it’s just meant to be. I could sit for hours and tell you how we got these rights. I’m working with producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, who is wonderful. He’s engaged with a company called Imperative, and so that’s the deal at the moment. But Imperative has thrown some money at the development, but we want to keep control of it. So we didn’t want to go to HBO and have it sit on a shelf and not get made, for example. So, we want to come with a pilot and a bible, so I’m working on that at the moment.

(2) STOKERCON UK. In April 2020 the Horror Writers Association’s annual event, StokerCon, will be held in the UK, and A.K. Benedict will be the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Taking place in Scarborough, just down the coast from Whitby – the town that provided so much of the inspiration for Stoker’s iconic Dracula – this is an event not to be missed for writers and readers of horror fiction.

The event is delighted to confirm its Mistress of Ceremonies for the weekend will be author A.K. Benedict, who will be launching the weekend’s proceedings. A.K. Benedict was educated at Cambridge, University of Sussex and Clown School. Described by the Sunday Express as ‘one of the new stars of crime fiction with a supernatural twist’, AK Benedict’s debut novel, The Beauty of Murder, was shortlisted for an eDunnit award and is in development for TV by Company Pictures. Her second novel from Orion, The Evidence of Ghosts, is a love song to London and shows her obsession with all things haunted. Her radio drama includes Doctor Who and Torchwood plays for Big Finish and a modern adaptation of M.R. James’ Lost Hearts for Bafflegab/Audible.

(3) ODYSSEY WORKSHOP SCHOLARSHIPS. Here is an overview of “2019 Odyssey Writing Workshop Scholarship Opportunities”. The Odyssey Writing Workshop is an acclaimed, six-week program for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror held each summer in New Hampshire. Writers apply from all over the world; only fifteen are admitted.

  • George R.R. Martin sponsors the Miskatonic Scholarship, awarded each year to a promising writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror, a type of fiction Martin loves and wants to encourage. The scholarship covers full tuition, textbook, and housing. Martin says, “It’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to a worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the Odyssey experience.” Applicants must demonstrate financial need in a separate application. Full details at the link.
  • Bestselling author and Odyssey graduate Sara King is sponsoring the Parasite Publications Character Awards to provide financial assistance to three character-based writers wishing to attend this summer’s Odyssey. The Parasite Publications Character Awards, three scholarships in the amounts of $2,060 (full tuition), $500, and $300, will be awarded to the three members of the incoming class who are deemed extraordinarily strong character writers, creating powerful, emotional characters that grab the reader and don’t let go. No separate application is required.
  • The new Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship will be offered to a Canadian writer admitted to Odyssey. This scholarship, funded by alumni and friends of Chris, will cover $900 of tuition.
  • One work/study position is also available. The work/study student spends about six hours per week performing duties for Odyssey, such as photocopying, sending stories to guests, distributing mail to students, and preparing for guest visits. Odyssey reimburses $800 of the work/study student’s tuition.

(4) FREE READ. Arizona State University has published Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction, Volume II, an anthology featuring 10 short stories from ASU’s 2018 global climate fiction contest, plus a foreword by Kim Stanley Robinson, who also served as the lead judge for the contest.

The stories explore climate chaos, its aftermath, and possible ways forward through a variety of genres and styles, from science fiction and fantasy to literary fiction and prose poetry. It’s free to download in a variety of digital formats (HTML, EPUB, MOBI, and via Apple iBooks).

Table of Contents:

  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Foreword
  • Angie Dell and Joey Eschrich, Editors’ Introduction
  • Monarch Blue, by Barbara Litkowski
  • The Last Grand Tour of Albertine’s Watch, by Sandra K. Barnidge
  • Half-Eaten Cities, by Vajra Chandrasekera
  • Darkness Full of Light, by Tony Dietz
  • Luna, by David Samuel Hudson
  • Tuolumne River Days, by Rebecca Lawton
  • The Most Beautiful Voyage in the World, by Jean McNeil
  • Orphan Bird, by Leah Newsom
  • The Office of Climate Facts, by Mitch Sullivan
  • Losing What We Can’t Live Without, by Jean-Louis Trudel
  • About the Contributors
  • Honorable Mention: 2018 Contest Semifinalists

(5) HUGO VOTER ELIGIBILITY. Dublin 2019 is fixing this –

(6) MY KINGDOM FOR CANON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Retcons are king. Or kinda want to be. The Daily Dot stares into the abyss at the changing look of Klingons over the various Star Trek series and movies—and especially the significant changes between the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery  (“Here’s Why the Klingons Look Different in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2”).

In the grand tradition of sci-fi retcons, there’s a canon explanation for the Klingons’ new look. While the humanoid Original Series Klingons were retroactively explained as victims of a genetic diseaseDiscovery’s bald Klingons [in season 1] were apparently making a fashion statement.

According to actress Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), designer Glenn Hetrick decided that the Klingons weren’t “bald” in season one—they just shaved their heads. Speaking at New York Comic Con last year, Chieffo said Hetrick was inspired by the Next Generation episode “Rightful Heir.”

“There is a reference to when [legendary Klingon hero] Kahless is brought back as a clone. The way he proves himself is he tells the story of how he cut off a lock of his hair and dipped it into a volcano and made the first bat’leth, with which he killed Molor, the terrible tyrant who was running Qo’noS at the time. We took that one little beautiful seed… and kind of expanded on that, and we see that in a time of war the Klingons would shave their heads, and in a time of peace, we start to grow it back out. I really love the symbolism of that.”

Meanwhile, ScreenRant.com has a different take on the whole, um, different Klingon thing (“Star Trek Theory: Discovery Is Why The Original Series Klingons Look Different”).

Star Trek: Discovery could finally explain one of the franchise’s biggest discrepancies: why do the Klingons in The Original Series look human? The answer might be the former Starfleet Lieutenant Ash Tyler, who is the surgically altered Klingon named Voq.

[…] It’s possible Star Trek: Discovery season 1’s transformation of Voq into Ash Tyler is the forerunner to why the Klingons Captain Kirk faced in The Original Series didn’t have the ridged brows and wild hair of later Klingons. Voq was the former Torchbearer of T’Kuvma who underwent surgery to become human in a horrifically painful process that damaged his mind. His lover L’Rell oversaw the procedure to turn Voq into Ash Tyler, a Starfleet Lieutenant who was captured during the Battle at the Binary Stars. Voq ended up believing he really was Ash and fell in love with Michael Burnham but his inner Klingon kept fighting his way to the forefront.

[…] By the time Captain Kirk faced the Klingons for the first time in the Star Trek: The Original Series’ episode “Errand of Mercy”, the warrior race looked and behaved human, albeit with darker, exotic skin. Kor, the Klingon Commander, even told Kirk “our races aren’t so different”. He meant that both humans and Klingons are war-like species, but his words could also now have a deeper context: the Klingons have 24 Great Houses and it’s possible this group of Klingons underwent the same (perfected) procedure that turned Voq into Ash Tyler.

(7) CELEBRATORY YEAR. “150 years of the periodic table: Test your knowledge”. I scored 5 for 5 – how unusual!

You’ll find it on the wall of nearly every school chemistry laboratory in the land.

And generations of children have sung the words, “hydrogen and helium, lithium, beryllium…” in an attempt to memorise some of the 118 elements.

This year, the periodic table of chemical elements celebrates its 150th birthday.

…The United Nations has designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table to celebrate “one of the most significant achievements in science”.

In March, it will be 150 years since the Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev, took all of the known elements and arranged them into a table.

Most of his ideas have stood the test of time, despite being conceived long before we knew much about the stuff that makes up matter.

On Tuesday, the year will be officially launched in Paris. So, what’s so special about this iconic symbol of science?

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 79. Yes, you know her as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate but that’s hardly genre, do shall we see what she done in our area of interest? Her first such work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives –scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife” episode. I did debate if the I should could I count Alfred Hitchcock Presents aa genre or not as she did an episode there as well.
  • Born January 29, 1977 Justin Hartley, 42. Performer in the series as Green Arrow and Oliver Queen characters, season six on. Also director of the “Dominion” episode and the writer of the “Sacrifice” episode on that series. He’s also Arthur “A.C.” Curry in the unsold Aquaman television pilot. The latter is up on YouTube here. He’s also lead cast in a web series called Gemini Division.
  • Born January 29, 1978 Catrin Stewart, 31. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was friends with Madame Vastra and Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of Nineteen Eighty-Four done at London Playhouse several years back. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest encounter a superhero with a not very pleasant power.
  • Not everybody gets off the ground at Hogwarts according to Berkeley Mews.
  • A super warning about the cold and flu season at Off the Mark.

(10) ELGIN AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association is taking nominations for the Elgin Award through May 15. Charles Christian will be the 2019 Elgin Awards Chair.

Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to how many they can nominate, but they may not nominate their own work. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative poetry books and chapbooks published in 2017 and 2018 to elgin@sfpoetry.com by mail to the SFPA secretary: Renee Ya, P.O. Box 2074, San Mateo, CA 94401 USA. Books and chapbooks that placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, in last year’s Elgin Awards are not eligible.

(11) FOREVER YOUNG. A young Captain Picard steps up alongside a bunch of  Italian Renaissance turtles and other, um, beloved characters (SYFY Wire: “Exclusive: Young Captain Picard commands the U.S.S. Stargazer in Star Trek: IDW 20/20 one-shot”).

IDW Publishing’s big 20th anniversary celebration rolls on this month as the mini-major refreshes five of their major licensed titles with a time-traveling series of oversized one-shot releases. 

The January party sparkles with some of pop culture’s most treasured properties as GhostbustersJem and the Holograms, My Little Pony, Star Trek, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uncover characters’ secrets and mysteries shot 20 years into the future or tugged back to the past.

(12) RUN, CAT, RUN! Camestros Felapton has the news — “Shock billionaire spoiler candidate enters presidential race”.

Timothy the Talking Cat, billionaire CEO of publishing multinational “Cattimothy House” entered the 2020 Presidential fray, with a shock announcement on Tuesday. At a book launch in Borstworth Library, the outspoken cat and business guru laid out his vision for a new kind of US President.

(13) NEW BENNETT NOVELLA DISCUSSED. Several star reviewers from Nerds of a Feather participate in “Review Roundtable: Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett”.

CONTENT WARNING: This review discusses gun violence throughout, and includes references to child death. Also, we’re discussing the whole novella, so BEWARE SPOILERS.

Vigilance, the new novella from Robert Jackson Bennett, is out today and it’s a searing look at gun violence in the US. In this near future dystopia, John McDean is tasked with running “Vigilance”, the nation’s favourite reality programme, which releases real shooters are released on unsuspecting locations with military-grade armaments, and the resulting carnage is broadcast as a “lesson” in how to protect oneself. McDean and his crew at ONT station think they have the variables of Vigilance down to a fine art, but in the novella’s ensuing escalation find themselves taken down by one of McDean’s own blindspots, to dramatic effect.

We’ve got a lot of Bennett fans on our team here at Nerds of a Feather and when this novella came to our attention, lots of us were interested in reading it to review. That’s why, instead of taking it on alone, today I, Adri, am joined by Paul Weimer, Brian, and Joe Sherry to unpack Bennett’s highly topical novella and our reactions to it.

(14) MARKET UPDATE. Coming over the air now —

(15) PREY WITHOUT CEASING. We linked to the trailer yesterday, now The Hollywood Reporter explains it all to you: “How ‘Birds of Prey’ Footage Builds on ‘Suicide Squad’ Look”.

Margot Robbie’s next take on Harley Quinn is steeped in ’80s music video sensibilities. Gotham City’s newest protectors have arrived. Tuesday morning, following an Instagram post by Margot Robbie teasing her return as Harley Quinn, Warner Bros. released the first official behind-the scenes look at Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The first look teases viewers with quick glimpses of the main characters, who, alongside Robbie’s Harley Quinn, are comprised of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), and Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). Birds of Prey follows the events of Suicide Squad and finds Gotham City in a very different place following an apparent disappearance of Batman, and Quinn’s separation from the Joker. Harley finds herself on a continued path of redemption when she seeks to help a young girl, Cassandra Cain, escape the wrath of Black Mask by recruiting a force of Gotham heroines.

(16) OUT OF TIME. Vicky Who Reads makes it sound irresistible: “Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen (DRC): An Amazing Adult Sci-Fi Novel with Strong Family Themes”. Her review begins….

Kin Stewart used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Now, stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

(17) FROG STUFFING. Jon Del Arroz’ Happy Frogs lists are callbacks to what JDA thinks were the good old days of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. How much pull does he actually have? We’ll know if any of these names from “The Happy Frogs Hugo Award list” [Internet Archive link] show up on the 2019 ballot. (Well, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if David Weber got a nod for Best Series on his own – but that still leaves the rest of them.)

(18) WHERE FEW HAVE GONE. After five decades it’s hard to believe, but newly uncovered (or rediscovered) wide-format footage and uncatalogued audio was available as the basis for a new Apollo 11 documentary. Rolling Stone has the story of the doc plus a trailer (“‘Apollo 11’ Trailer: See Never-Before-Seen Footage From NASA’s Moon Mission”).

New footage from the lead-up to NASA’s first manned trip to the moon (and the landing itself) features in the upcoming documentary Apollo 11, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names,” distribution company Neon said of the film.

“Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.”

(19) LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT BROADWAYCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] On “Three on The Aisle:  Broadway Cosplay” at Americantheatre.org, Elisabeth Vincentelli gives a BroadwayCon report, which begins at sixteen minutes into the podcast and ends at 34 minutes.  She did see some cosplayers, such as a woman from West Virginia who sat on a bus wearing her costume as the Angel from Angels in America, and she occasionally did see fans wanting to get too close to the stars (which in the theatre world is known as “stagedooring.”)  But she also appreciated the substantive panels, such as one on Oklahoma where cast members sang songs they didn’t sing on stage, and noted that BroadwayCon is important enough that stars like Kristen Chenoweth show up there unannounced. Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout said he wanted to go next year and that “A critic incapable of being a fan is a critic that needs therapy.”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/11/18 I’m Scrolling On The Bad Side And I Got My Pixels To The Wall

(1) YA FOR YA. Vicky Who Reads has a lot of interesting observations about “The Many Ways YA Books & The Community Isolates Teens”. Following up her first point, that teens lack money and often do their reading in ways that don’t register with the market (e.g., borrowing books), she says that leads to —

Character Problems

Adults’ money speaks, and adults oftentimes support YA novels with older characters.

Actually–scratch that. Characters who are in their teen years, but basically act like adults.

I find this is both because adult publishing doesn’t want YA-style stories–character relationships and lots of entertainment value. But adults do want to read these types of books, and they show it by influencing the YA category.

So, we end up with lots of upper YA books featuring young adult characters that are acting older and older, but they’re still the same age.

And this doesn’t mean YA readers can’t enjoy adult characters or adult novels or novels with characters that act like adults. But it does mean that these books are taking up the space of books that should be representing teens and the teenage experiences–not a YA style story representing an adult experience.

(2) BREAKING THROUGH. From Odyssey Workshop: “Interview: Guest Lecturer Fran Wilde”.

Why do you think your work began to sell?

That’s a tough question because predicting what works for markets, when markets are always changing, is like trying to read tea leaves when you don’t know how. But early in my writing career, I read slush at a magazine, and that gave me some clues.

For me, tightening everything and making every image and scene as vivid as possible was part of it. And making sure first scenes are crystal clear in intent, voice, setting, and theme—essentially answering the question of why the reader should give this story their time—was part of what helped the work find its audience.

(3) SETTING BOUNDARIES. Con or Bust, which helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions, has adopted a minimal set of anti-harassment policies for cons that wish to donate memberships, “because when Con or Bust accepts donated memberships, it necessarily promotes the conventions in question…” The guideline has been announced now, and will take effect in a year — “Con or Bust will require anti-harassment policies before accepting donated con memberships”.

Here are our requirements for a meaningful anti-harassment policy.

  • The policy’s definition of harassment must:

o   include offensive verbal statements, physical contact, and actions other than physical contact (e.g., stalking, non-consensual photography or recording); and

o   state that the convention prohibits harassment in relation to—at minimum—race, gender, sexuality, impairment, physical appearance, and religion.

  • The policy must state where and when it applies. (Does it extend to off-site events associated with the con, or to con-related online spaces? Does it apply before the con, or after?)
  • The policy must state what happens if someone violates it, including:

o   Who can report the harassment;

o   How to report the harassment. This must include a method of reporting that is not in-person and must include a method of reporting after the convention; and

o   The potential consequences for both the violator and the reporter, including what privacy the reporter will be provided and to what extent the con will take the reporter’s wishes into account when determining what action to take.

(4) NO KSM AWARD. The 20Booksto50K Vegas conference came and went without a word about the “Keystroke Medium Reader’s Choice Awards” expected to debut there following last February’s announcement. I sent a query and KSM’s Josh Hayes answered:

The KSM Awards project was put on hold indefinitely. We didn’t get enough responses to produce a fair and accurate accounting of winners. It’s something we’re looking into for the future!

(5) SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. The Book Smugglers have announced retrenchment plans:

We have some important news to share with regards to Book Smugglers Publishing. As of December 31st 2018, we will be shifting our business away from for sale short stories, novellas, and novels….

After much thought, discussion, and agonizing–we came to the only decision that we felt was fair for our readers and our creators: to focus on our key Book Smuggler strengths as a website, and as a publisher of short fiction. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on The Book Smugglers as a website with our regular coverage of books–just as we’ve always done since the beginning. We would like to still acquire short stories in the future, but they will only be available for free on our website and without the for sale distribution into e-retail markets.

(6) RAPPING FOR SCIENCE. Rivkah Brown, in “When Rap Gets Physical” in the Financial Times, discusses rapper Consensus, who works with CERN to produce rap videos that explain particle physics. (I could access the article from Bing, but the URL copied here ends up at a paywall. So no link.) His latest video can be found is you look for “Consensus Dark Matter” on YouTube,’

Realising how rapidly CERN’s research moved, Consensus decided to avoid the theoretical and stick to facts. “I didn’t want to write a song, only for the science to change.”

The result of his research was ConCERNed. Released last year, the album condenses an astronomical amount of physics into nine tracks. The most densely packed is, unsurprisingly, “Higgs”. The other eight tracks, Consensus tells me, respect the fact that “there’s only so much people can absorb in four minutes”. But to do justice to the Higgs boson, a particle to which many devote their entire careers, he would have to surpass that saturation point.

Indeed, the lyrics to “Higgs” are pretty cryptic to those who don’t have a deep understanding of the science (“I’m looking to vacuum whatever you’ve got / And the value of what I’m expecting is not / To be zero”). They are, however, menacing. Borrowing from battle rap, Consensus delivers a guttural rhyme that moves between boasts (“People call me Higgs ’cos I’m massive”), insults (“You’re weak, and your life isn’t long”) and threats (“Treat ’em like the LHC / Smash ’em up collide”) to personify a particle that — given that it is known as the “God” particle — probably should intimidate. As he says on the track, “I’m practically the reason you exist.”

 

(7) DORRIS OBIT. Marcia Illingworth writes, “It pains me to have to tell you that Maurine [Dorris] passed away last night [November 11], shortly after 01:00 AM. She passed peacefully with her son Jimmy and friend JoAnn Parsons by her side.”

Maurine is old time SF Fandom. She and Joann Parsons started World Horror Convention. She was active in WorldCon Fandom and World Fantasy. She in known for running ASFA Suites and SWFA Suites at quite a few Worldcons.

(8) RAIN OBIT. Canadian actor Douglas Rain, who was the voice of HAL 9000 in 2001 and 2010, died November 11. (He also voiced Bio Central Computer 2100, Series G, the computer aiding in Our Leader’s cloning in Woody Allen’s comedy Sleeper.)

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

The SAL9000 was voiced by Candice Bergen.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 11, 1951Flight to Mars premiered in theatres.
  • November 11, 1994 Interview with the Vampire was released.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 11, 1916Donald Franson. Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. When I first stumble across an author and their works I’m reminded how deep the genre is. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917Mack Reynolds. Author of a couple hundred published short stories and several novels, he sold more work to John W. Campbell Jr.’s Analog than just about anyone — but not the oft-anthologized “Compound Interest” which appeared in F&SF. His 1962 story “Status Quo” was a Hugo nominee, and he had two stories up for the Nebula in 1966, the clever Sherlock Holmes pastiche, “Adventure of the Extraterrestrial,” and “A Leader for Yesteryear.” OGH met him at the 1972 Worldcon. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1925Jonathan Winters. Yes he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”,  a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as Albert Paradine II in the TV movie More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The ShadowThe Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He even of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1945Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods. Artist and Illustrator whose grandfather taught her to read using science fiction pulp magazines. After discovering genre fandom at Windycon in 1978, she became one of the leading fan artists in fanzines of the time, including providing numerous covers for File 770. In addition to convention art shows, her art also appeared professionally, illustrating books by R.A. Lafferty, Joan D. Vinge, and Theodore Sturgeon, and in magazines including Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal. She won two FAAn Awards for Best Serious Artist and was nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, winning in 1986. She was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including back at a Windycon, where her fandom started. (Died 2013.)
  • November 11, 1948Kathy Sanders, 70, Costumer and Fan from the Los Angeles area who has chaired/co-chaired Costume-Cons, and has worked on or organized masquerades at a number of Westercons, Loscons, and a Worldcon. She received Costume-Con’s Life Achievement Award in 2015. She is a member of LASFS and of SCIFI, and ran for DUFF in 1987. Her essay “A Masquerade by Any Other Name” appeared in the L.A.con III Worldcon Program Book.
  • Born November 11, 1960Stanley Tucci, 58. Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy resume of character roles in genre films including The Core (Yay! The Core!), Prelude to a Kiss, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Muppets Most Wanted, Beauty and the Beast, The Lovely Bones, Captain America: The First Avenger, Jack the Giant Slayer, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and The Hunger Games films, as well as numerous voice roles including Leonardo da Vinci in Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

(12) WHAT A PICTURE IS WORTH. Jeanette Ng visits The Fantasy Inn to tell about “5 Things That Medieval Bestiary Writers Almost Got Right”. Here’s one of them —

The Gold-Digging Ants

The story of the giant gold-digging ants date back to Herodotus, the father of lies and history. The story goes that these giant dog-sized, furry ants dig grains of gold from the ground. They guard this gold with military precision and diligent action.

It’s a ridiculous tall tale story, but where did it come from?

And is an ant really an ant when it is quite that big and furry?

Herodotus was also very keen on there being winged serpents in Egypt. I’ve long thought of him as travel writer keen to tell you all the stories random people tell him at the pub.

And with the ants, it is possible that it’s just a misunderstanding born out of a translation error. The Persian word for marmot and mountain ant are similar, and there is indeed a species of fox-sized marmot who regularly uncover gold dust in a province of Pakistan due to how rich that ground is in gold.

(13) DOCTOR WHO DOSSIER. Find out what police officer Yasmin Khan has on file about the Pting.

(14) ANIMATION CONFLAGRATION. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik has an overview of the animation industry, “In epic rumpus, Hollywood’s animation sector looks to sort its royalty from its minions”, including whether Disney-Pixar will be in trouble after longtime CEO John Lasseter ended his employment because of sexual harassment allegations and whether Illumination will use its success in the Minions franchise to move into the top tier.

The sector known as one of the film world’s most stable — “Incredibles 2” and “Hotel Transylvania 3” were both hugely lucrative this past summer — is slowly playing out its own mythic dramas, if with less-catchy music.

Companies are beset by mergers, or #MeToo scandals. Studios are wedded to big ambitions, or shackled to past successes.

And internal questions are only the start. Leaders such as Disney and Pixar are trying to maintain dominance over the field, while close competitors like Illumination are closing in. Once-great studios such as DreamWorks are struggling to find their way back. And well-funded upstarts from Sony to Netflix are seeking to knock them all off.

…In interviews with The Washington Post, 16 animation executives and experts, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly competitive nature of the field, described a world of intense battles, complex strategies and, maybe most telling, modern motivations. In an era in which entertainment has become fragmented and niche, with kids and parents rarely agreeing on what to watch, animation’s reliable power to attract whole families is the reason studios can’t let it go.

At stake is not just which Hollywood conglomerate will reap financial bounties — major franchises like Toy Story can take in $2 billion or more globally — but which will define the tone and style of animation moviegoers see for years to come. Will the category continued to be dominated by the computer-generated soulfulness of Disney and Pixar? Or will the off-kilter, European flavor of Illumination and its lovably goofy “Minions” make more inroads?

(15) FEMINIST FUTURES. Joe Sherry adds a file on Sheri S. Tepper’s book to Nerds of a Feather’s series: “Feminist Futures: The Gate to Women’s Country”.

The Gate to Women’s Country has a reputation for being among the great works of feminist science fiction, and it may have been at the time, but now thirty years after it was first published, The Gate to Women’s Country does not quite hold up to that legacy. Its importance to the canon of science fiction is not in question. The Gate to Women’s Country has earned that importance. Its reputation as a novel that remains great today is, however, very much in question.

(16) WHERE TO FIND REVIEWS. This week’s collected links to book reviews at Pattinase: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, November 9, 2018”.

  • Mark Baker, DEATH ON THE NILE, Agatha Christie
  • Les Blatt, THE CONQUEROR, E.R. Punshon
  • Elgin Bleecker, GUNS OF BRIXTON, Paul D Brazill
  • Brian Busby: “Grant Allen”
  • Kate Jackson/CrossExaminingCrime, ROCKET TO THE MORGUE, Anthony Boucher
  • Curtis Evans, THE ELECTION BOOTH MURDER, Milton M. Propper
  • Elisabeth Grace Foley, REST AND BE THANKFUL, Helen MacInnes
  • Rich Horton, SKIN HUNGER and SACRED SCARS, Kathleen Duey
  • Jerry House, STAR OVER BETHLEHEM AND OTHER STORIES, Agatha Christie Mallowan
  • George Kelley, END OF THE LINE, Burt and Dolores Hitchens
  • Margot Kinberg, DESERT HEAT, J.A. Jance
  • Rob Kitchin, SIRENS, Joseph Knox
  • B.V. Lawson, VOICE OUT OF DARKNESS, Ursula Curtiss
  • Evan Lewis, THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION, Nicholas Meyer
  • Steve Lewis, SHADY LADY, Cleve Adams
  • Todd Mason, THE AMERICAN FOLK SCENE ed. David DeTurk & A. Poulin, Jr.; BOB
    DYLAN: DON’T LOOK BACK transcribed & edited by DJ Pennebaker et al.;
    DANGEROUSLY FUNNY by David Bianculli
  • Kent Morgan, IN A TRUE LIGHT, John Harvey
  • J. F. Norris, MAYNARDS’S HOUSE, Herman Raucher
  • James Reasoner, THE COMPLETE MIKE SHAYNE, PRIVATE EYE, Ken Fitch and Ed Ashe (1960s comics adaptation)
  • Richard Robinson, THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS, Frederik Pohl
  • Mike Sind/Only Detect, DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND, Dennis Lehane
  • Kevin Tipple, CORKSCREW, Ted Wood
  • TomCat, THE HOUSE OF STRANGE GUESTS, Nicholas Brady
  • TracyK, THE BIRTHDAY MURDER, Lange Lewis

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Why Does The Grim Reaper Exist?” on YouTube, The New Yorker looks at the 132 Grim Reaper cartoons published in their magazine (including ones by Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson) to see why the Grim Reaper exists and why we think he can be mocked.

[Thanks to JJ, Marcia Illingworth, Karl-Johan Norén, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day cmm.]

Register for 2019 Odyssey Online Writing Classes

Odyssey Writing Workshops is offering three live, intensive online classes this winter. Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, however, writers of all genres are welcome to apply. Courses will cover issues relevant to writers of adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. Full information can be found at their website or by emailing jcavelos@odysseyworkshop.org.

The three classes are:

Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate
Course Meets: January 10 – February 7, 2019
Instructor: Award-winning editor and publisher Scott H. Andrews
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Application Deadline: December 12, 2018

Instructor Scott H. Andrews is the editor-in-chief and publisher of the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a six-time Hugo Award finalist and winner of the World Fantasy Award. When asked the most common weakness in the submissions he receives, Scott says, “Most writers fail to convey character emotions in a powerful way.”

How do you convey a character’s emotion? You might just tell readers what the character is feeling (“He was afraid”), which can convey that information clearly but fail to make the emotion real and immediate. You might try an internal life sign (“His heart pounded”), which can be more immediate but often feels clichéd. Or you might try an external action (“His eyes widened”), but this can sometimes feel like overacting, or if we’re in the character’s point of view, it can feel like we’ve jumped to a point of view outside the character.

Scott will explain the most effective techniques to convey character emotions realistically and powerfully on the page, so that moment by moment, you can create an authentic and evocative experience. He’ll show you which techniques work best for point-of-view characters, and which work best for non-point-of-view characters. He’ll also discuss how to handle multiple emotions, conflicting emotions, and complex emotions, because that’s when stories get really interesting.

More than that, the course will cover strategies for developing situations and stories with strong potential for emotional resonance, and how to use character emotions to make every page a gripping read. You’ll dig deep into your own emotional reservoir to find that emotional truth that will give readers an authentic, powerful, involving experience.

Riveting Descriptions: Bringing Your Story to Life in the Reader’s Mind
Course Meets: January 3 – 31, 2019
Instructor: Award-winnng author and editor Lucy A. Snyder
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Application Deadline: December 5, 2018

For most writers, crafting strong, effective description is a major struggle. Some avoid description, fearing they’ll lose the reader’s attention, and instead they leave the reader lost in a vast, white nothingness. Some embrace description, drowning the reader in details so important ones are lost and unimportant ones create expectations that will never be fulfilled. Some use a hit or miss approach, throwing in a detail here or there and hoping they’ve magically made the right choices.

You don’t need to guess or struggle anymore. Award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor Lucy A. Snyder will guide you through this critical and often-avoided subject. You’ll learn how to identify the key details that will immerse readers in your world, allow them to feel they know your characters, and put them in the middle of the action. Lucy will explain the qualities of strong description, how to know how much description is enough, which details to include, and where in the scene to include them. You’ll also learn how to use subtext so your description suggests deeper meanings, and how to write description with emotional impact.

More than that, this course will explore the role of point of view in description. How a character sees and describes his world can deepen personality, convey motivation, increase tension, and drive plot. Lucy will also discuss how to use poetic techniques in your description, and how to avoid common descriptive pitfalls. You’ll finish this course feeling much more assured about your description and knowing how to use description to make your story more impactful.

Getting the Big Picture: The Key to Revising Your Novel
Course Meets: January 2 – February 13, 2019
Instructor: Award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford
Level: Intermediate
Application Deadline: December 4, 2018

In response to many requests, we’re bringing back this course, one of our most highly rated. There are few things more difficult than revising a novel. You’ve worked on it for months, or years, and you’re so immersed in it you can’t step back and see the big picture. You might polish the draft and make minor changes, but you don’t really know what to change to turn that rough draft into a powerful, unified novel. And chances are, major changes are necessary. In this course, Barbara Ashford, one of our most popular instructors, will guide you in a deep examination of the “big picture” elements of your novel–premise, promise, theme, world, character, plot. Analyzing each of these building blocks and how well they are working together can give you new perspective on your novel, reveal weaknesses, and provide direction for major changes that will help you to maximize your novel’s potential.

Whether you’ve already completed your first draft, are still working on it, or are struggling with revisions, this course will provide invaluable insights into your novel through the lectures, assignments, and critiques. Barbara’s feedback on assignments has been widely praised for its depth and helpfulness.

Barbara’s course will be longer than the standard Odyssey online class, with four class meetings rather than our usual three, so you’ll be able to fully process and incorporate the important concepts discussed. If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo, this course can show you the path from rough draft to completed novel.

In live class meetings, students learn specific, invaluable techniques, ask questions, and participate in discussions. Between meetings, they interact with each other and the instructor in a discussion group, complete demanding assignments, and give and receive in-depth feedback. Each student also has a one-on-one meeting with the instructor.

Odyssey Online offers only three online classes each year and admits only fourteen students per class, to keep quality high and ensure each student receives individual attention.

[Based on a press release.]

Odyssey Writing Workshop Taking Applications

Each year, writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror from all over the world apply to the Odyssey Writing Workshop for fantasy, science fiction, and horror, which this year will be held June 4 to July 13 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Only fifteen are admitted.

Class meets for over four hours each day, five days a week, with time split between lectures and workshopping.  Students spend about eight hours more per day writing and critiquing each other’s work.

Odyssey is for writers whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work.

The early action application deadline is JANUARY 31, and the regular application deadline is APRIL 7.

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.  Tuition is $2,025, and housing in campus apartments is $892 for a double room and $1,784 for a single.  All applicants receive feedback on their writing sample.

Financial Aid

  • Beginning this year, bestselling author George R. R. Martin is funding a scholarship for an Odyssey student. The Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded to a promising writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. It will cover full tuition, textbook, and housing. As Martin notes –

We are not looking for Lovecraft pastiches, nor even Cthulhu Mythos stories. References to Arkham, Azathoth, shoggoths, the Necronomicon, and the fungi from Yuggoth are by no means obligatory…though if some candidates choose to include them, that’s fine as well. What we want is the sort of originality that H. P. Lovecraft displayed in his day…. What we want are nightmares new and resonant and profound, comic terrors that will haunt our dreams for years to come.

  • The Parasite Publications Character Awards, sponsored by Odyssey graduate Sara King, provide financial assistance to three character-based writers wishing to attend.  The awards provide three scholarships in the amounts of $2,025 (full tuition), $500, and $300.
  • Several other scholarships and a work/study position are also available.

Odyssey’s Director and Primary Instructor

Odyssey founder Jeanne Cavelos is a bestselling author and former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she won the World Fantasy Award for her work.  She works individually with students, meeting with them over the six weeks to set goals, chart progress, and talk out problems.  She also provides students with detailed, constructive critiques that average over 1,500 words each.  In 2015, Jeanne was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for her work teaching and running Odyssey.

2018 Guest Lecturers

Lecturers for the 2018 workshop include —

  • Elizabeth Hand
  • Theodora Goss
  • E. C. Ambrose
  • Nisi Shawl
  • Meagan Spooner
  • Gary A. Braunbeck
  • Scott H. Andrews, editor/ publisher of Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Here is a video of graduates describing their Odyssey experiences:

Odyssey Graduates

Recent novels by Odyssey graduates include Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; The Thickety: The Last Spell by J. A. White, from HarperCollins; The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss, from Saga Press; The Dark Apostle:  Elisha Mancer by E. C. Ambrose, from Baen Books; and Hunted by Meagan Spooner, published by HarperTeen.  Odyssey graduates have had short fiction published in the top magazines in the field:  Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, Asimov’s, Tor.com, Weird Tales, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and many more.

[Based on a press release.]

Register for Odyssey Online Writing Workshops

The Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is offering three live, intensive online classes this winter. While Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, however, writers of all genres are welcome to apply. Full information can be found at their website or by emailing jcavelos@odysseyworkshop.org.

The three classes are:

Standing Out: Creating Short Stories with That Crucial Spark
Course Meets:  January 11- February 8, 2018
Instructor:  Scott H. Andrews
Level:  Intermediate to Advanced
Application Deadline:  December 15, 2017

One major struggle for writers is having their work stand out from the hundreds of submissions editors and agents receive. Every day, writers submit well-crafted, engaging stories and novels only to have them rejected. Scott H. Andrews, editor-in-chief and publisher of the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a five-time Hugo Award finalist, discussed this at the Odyssey workshop last summer, and his insights were so fascinating that we asked him to teach an online course. Scott receives far too many well-crafted, engaging stories each month to publish. For him to publish a story, it needs to be special; it needs to have that crucial spark. What exactly is a “spark”? In Standing Out: Creating Short Stories with That Crucial Spark, Scott will describe various ways to create a spark–with a fascinating concept or thematic impact or emotional resonance or potent voice. Students will study examples and then work to add a spark to their own work. For intermediate to advanced authors, having that spark can make the difference between personalized rejections and sales. If you want to write works that are more than competent, that captivate or enthrall or delight, this course is for you.

Saying the Unsayable:  Building Meaning and Resonance Through Subtext
Course Meets:  January 4 – February 1, 2018
Instructor:  Donna Glee Williams
Level:  Intermediate to Advanced
Application Deadline:  December 8, 2017

The most common request made by Odyssey Online students has been for a course on subtext. One of the most insightful approaches to subtext has been developed by author Donna Glee Williams.  Donna Glee has been teaching highly praised writing seminars for years, so Odyssey is honored to have her as an instructor for Saying the Unsayable: Building Meaning and Resonance Through Subtext. Writers spend most of their time focused on the text, the words on the page. But often the part of the story that most engages readers is the subtext, the layer of meaning below the surface of the words. Readers respond strongly to what is not on the page, elements that are implied, evoked, suggested, but unsaid. For a story to engage and move readers, whether they are adults, young adults, or middle-grade readers, the author must create both text and subtext. Donna Glee will explain how subtext can be generated in almost any part of a story using three key strategies, and students will study these strategies and work to incorporate them into their own work. For intermediate to advanced writers, this course will offer invaluable techniques to engage readers in the line-by-line flow of the story and make them deeply invested in the characters and outcomes.

One Brick at a Time:  Crafting Compelling Scenes
Course Meets:  January 3-January 31, 2018
Instructor:  Barbara Ashford
Level:  Intermediate
Application Deadline:  December 7, 2017

One of Odyssey’s most highly rated instructors, award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford, has agreed to bring back her course One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes. Stories and novels are made up of scenes, so if your scenes are weak, your story has little chance of success. Writers often have strong ideas, fresh worlds, and interesting characters, but their scenes do not do justice to these elements. A compelling scene engages readers intellectually and emotionally, changes something of significance to the story, and leaves readers eager to turn the page to find out what happens next. Barbara will explain how to design your scenes, how to track and develop the emotional beats in a scene to create strong impact, and how to diagnose and fix problems in scenes. Students will study effective scenes and weak scenes, discover the special needs of opening and ending scenes, and learn how to make sure all the scenes work together to create a powerful story or novel. These skills are invaluable for intermediate students seeking to take their work to the next level, so Odyssey is offering it again for those who were unable to take the course in 2015. Students of Barbara’s classes regularly praise her insightful lectures, her effective instruction, and her incredible, in-depth critiques. This course will help you shape each scene into a powerful, memorable experience for the reader.

[Based on a press release.]