2020 Novellapalooza

stack of books ©canstockphoto / olegd

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2020 Novellas. What did you think?

I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 50 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • 38 of the novellas published in 2018,
  • 57 of the 2019 novellas,
  • and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas from my library, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 59!

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and I do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas are listed in two sections below. The first section, those with cover art, are the ones I have read, and they include mini-reviews by me. These are in approximate order from most-favorite to least-favorite (but bear in mind that after around the first dozen listed, there was not a large degree of difference in preference among most of the remainder, with the exception of a handful at the bottom). The second section is those novellas I haven’t read, in alphabetical order by title.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Some short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included, and in a couple of cases, novelettes which were long enough to be in the Hugo Novella tolerance were also included.

Please feel free to post comments about 2020 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your File 770 comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

If you see something that looks like gibberish, it is text that has been ROT-13’ed to avoid spoilers. (Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)
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Odyssey Writing Workshop Taking Applications for 2021 Session

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. 

ODYSSEY GRADUATES  

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.

[Based on a press release.]

Fireside Follow-up

Mourning and efforts to find a way forward are both part of the ongoing discussion about Fireside Magazine since yesterday’s audio debacle and apology (see “Fireside Editor Apologizes for “Auditory Blackface” by Narrator of Essay in November Issue”).

Ali Trotta

Nibedita Sen

Meg Frank

P. Djèlí Clark

Heath Miller

Apparition Lit

Jeff Xilon

Andrés Moon

M. M. Schill

Pixel Scroll 9/30/20 Fantastic Pixels And Where To Scroll Them

(1) HEAD FILLED WITH IDEAS. “Interview: P. Djèlí Clark, author of Ring Shout”, an author Q&A conducted by Andrea Johnson at Nerds of a Feather.

…Mr. Clark was kind enough to talk with me about the music behind his new novella, the novella’s long (and then fast) journey to publication, how the novella got personal, and more. Let’s get to the interview!

NOAF: You mention on your blog that this story was in your head for a long time before you wrote it down. Can you tell us about when and why you decided to write the story down? And while you were drafting it out, did were there any scenes or characters that ended up completely differently than how you had originally imagined them?

P. Djèlí Clark: Yeah, the story was definitely with me for a while—mostly in dreamt up scenes and characters with a smattering of a plot. Visuals or a song could send me daydreaming for a minute. As I’m prone to do, it’s only when I have a full sketch of a story in my head that I start jotting down notes. That was in early August 2016. I sat down and wrote up Ring Shout from start to ending, on the Notes feature on my iPhone. Then I put it down and went and lived the rest of my life. It wasn’t until April of 2019 that it started to become “a thing.” I was sitting in a DC café, on the phone with my editor Diana Pho about a book contract for an unrelated completed full-length novel. The book world being the book world, it probably wouldn’t come out until 2021. My novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015 had just been released and that meant there’d be this big gap before I was next published. Diana asked if I might be interested in doing another novella in between—that is, if I had any ideas. I pitched two concepts, one of which was Ring Shout. It ended up in the contract.

Then came the real trouble. I had nothing written but a set of notes from almost 3 years back and a head full of ideas. I had until about September to turn it into a working story. Planned to get it done that summer. But nope. Academic work and copyedits on the unrelated full-length novel pretty much devoured my writing time. Finally, I got started on August 30, 2019. Two days before it was due. Had to ask for an extension. Then somehow, in the next four weeks, got it written. By that time whole new characters had been added, scenes had changed, and elements of the overall plot had been rewritten—so that it only resembles in passing those original notes from 2016. But hey, that’s the writing process….

(2) ARISIA. Progress Report 3 confirms Arisia 2021 will be entirely virtual – which hadn’t been taken for granted after last year’s issues.

Over the past seven months, the Eboard Con Chair Team, along with Assistant Con Chair Vivian Abraham and the Division Heads, have been working hard to determine what we need to recreate the Arisia experience in an online-only convention. Our first step was to make sure that Arisia is squared away with its hotel contract. Hotel liaison Wendy Verschoor, along with Eboard President Nicholas “Phi” Shectman, have been in talks with the Westin Boston Waterfront and Aloft regarding our Arisia 2021 contract. As of September 15, 2020 we were able to come to an agreement. We will not need to have a hotel presence this year, and our continuing contract with the Westin Boston Marriott and Aloft will resume in 2022.

(3) EPIC SLAPDOWN. CNN Business is a fly on the wall as “Judge in Apple ‘Fortnite’ case slams Epic’s tactics, hints at July trial date”.

A federal judge presiding over a high-stakes antitrust lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games — maker of the popular video game Fortnite — repeatedly slammed Epic on Monday on its legal theories and tactics in the company’s case against the iOS App Store, a court battle that could reshape the digital economy.

Epic is seeking a temporary court order that would force Apple to unblock Fortnite from its iOS App Store. Apple removed the game in August after Epic pushed a software update to the app that allowed players to circumvent Apple’s proprietary in-app payment system — a move that is contractually prohibited.

…Judge Gonzalez Rogers looked skeptically at many of Epic’s claims, explicitly telling the company several times in the hearing she was not persuaded by its arguments or its strategy.

Epic knew that it was breaching its contract with Apple when it published the update, but did it anyway, she said, accusing the company of dishonesty.

Apple has justified its app store policies partly as a way to protect consumers from security risks and malicious software. Epic has countered that it is a credible business that has been on the iOS App Store for years and poses no security threat. But Gonzalez Rogers said that is not the issue.

“You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” Gonzalez Rogers told Epic. “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”

Epic’s attorneys acknowledged that the company breached its agreement with Apple but claimed Epic was simply refusing to comply with an anti-competitive contract, and that forcing a legal battle was part of Epic’s plan.

…It also cited Apple’s in-app payment system as an example of illegal tying — when a company bundles two products together for anti-competitive gain.

But there is no tying going on with Apple’s in-app payment system, Gonzalez Rogers observed.

“I’m not particularly persuaded,” she said of the in-app payment mechanism. “I just don’t see this as a separate and distinct product.”

Nor did the judge buy Epic’s argument that Apple has harmed the distribution of Fortnite because of Apple’s exclusive control of the iOS App Store. Fortnite players on iOS have a variety of choices to access the game even if it is no longer available on iOS, she said.

“Walled gardens have existed for decades,” she said. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”

(4) TWO OPEN LETTERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alison Flood, in “More than 200 writers and publishers sign letter in support of trans and non-binary people” in The Guardian, says that 200 people, most notably Jeanette Winterson signed a letter generally supporting trans and non-binary people after 58 writers, including Lionel Shriver, Ian McEwan, and Susan Hill, signed a letter supporting J.K. Rowling.  But the article about that letter was published in The Times, which is behind a paywall.

(5) ACCIO ERRAT! [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing in Forbes, film critic Scott Mendelson examines the recent announcement that Warner Brothers will be making another Harry Potter-related movie, despite the diminishing returns from the franchise, and the cavalcade of transphobia from J.K. Rowling. “4 Reasons Warner Bros. Is Still Making J.K. Rowling’s Third ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Movie”.  

He writes: “In a skewed way, stopping now and admitting that the Fantastic Beasts franchise was a failed experiment would probably do Warner Media, a publicly-traded company, more harm than just bringing the story to a natural conclusion and taking their commercial licks along the way. Call it sunk-cost fallacy.”

(6) JOHN THE BALLADEER NEWS. The latest Haffner Press newsletter includes an update on the forthcoming 500+-page volume, Manly Wade Wellman’s The Complete John The Balladeer – with a link to preview five examples of Tim Kirk’s illustrations. Here’s one of them:

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • September 30, 2005. The Joss Whedon-written Serenity premiered. The sequel, or perhaps continuation, or perhaps finale of, the short-lived Firefly series, it reunited the entire cast from the series. It would overwhelmingly win the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation at L.A. Con IV beating out The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,  Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It holds an excellent eighty two percent rating by audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 30, 1915 – Richard D. Mullen.  Founder of Science Fiction Studies; co-editor (with Darko Suvin) 1973-1978; returned as editor, managing editor, and like that, 1991.  Two books of selected SFS articles, two more on P.K. Dick (with DS & others); essays, reviews, in SFS, ExtrapolationFoundationRiverside Quarterly.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born September 30, 1926 – Gillian Avery.  Historian of children’s education and literature.  The Guardian Children’s Literature prize for Edwardian father-son novel A Likely Lad.  For us, Huck and Her Time Machine (note pronoun); a dozen others; nonfiction including a Life of Juliana Ewing and an ed’n of Emily Pepys’ Journal (this branch of the family pronounces their name peppis).  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born September 30, 1949 – D Potter.  Fanziner, photographer, railroad fan.  Fan Guest of Honor at Balticon 16.  Active in various apas including APA-QFAPAMyriad.  Appreciations by Our Gracious Host and Avedon Carol here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born September 30, 1950 Laura Esquivel, 70. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolateLike Water for Chocolate in English. Magic realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read. (CE)
  • Born September 30, 1951 Simon Hawke, 69. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as well as the TimeWars series. He has written Battlestar GalacticaTrekFriday the 13thPredator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder. (CE) 
  • Born September 30, 1954 – Sylvia McNicoll, 66.  Two dozen children’s novels, of which two for us.  Silver Birch; four Hamilton Arts Council awards (Body Swap won 2019 Literary Award for Fiction); several more.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born September 30, 1960 Nicola Griffith, 60. Editor with Stephen Pagel of the genre gender anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science FictionBending the Landscape: Fantasy (World Fantasy Award and Lambda winner) and Bending the Landscape: HorrorAmmonite won both the Lambda and Otherwise Awards. She also garnered a Lambda and a Nebula for the most excellent Slow River. All of her novels are available from the usual digital suspects. (CE) 
  • Born September 30, 1972 – Sheree Renée Thomas, 48.  Dark Matter, a NY Times Notable Book of the Year, won World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology, then Dark Matter, Reading the Bones won another; Fall 2016 Obsidian; Jul 2018 Strange Horizons (with Rasha Abdulhadi, Erin Roberts); Aug 2018 Apex.  A dozen short stories, fifty poems, essays, for us; many others; see here (Wikipedia).  [JH]
  • Born September 30, 1975 Ta-Nehisi Coates, 45. He has also written Black Panther and Captain America stories. Issue number one of the former series sold a quarter million physical copies, very impressive indeed. The Water Dancer contains magic realism elements. (CE) 
  • Born September 30, 1982 Lacey Chabert, 38. Penny Robinson on the Lost in Space film reboot which I did see in the theater and didn’t think it was too bad.  She’s done mostly voice acting and children’s features after that. She voiced Gwen Stacy on The Spectacular Spider-Man series and does likewise for Zatanna Zatara on the current Young Justice series. (CE) 
  • Born September 30, 1983 – Angela Kulig, 37.  Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories.  “I write books, many of which have been published.  I live in Las Vegas, which sounds exciting, but I prefer to pretend I live in books.”  Website.  [JH]
  • Born September 30, 1985 Katrina Law, 35. She’s well-known for playing the roles of Mira on Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Vengeance which are sort of genre, and  Nyssa al Ghul on Arrow. (CE)

(9) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says another Jeopardy! contestant missed their shot with a genre topic.

Category: Playing the part on TV

Answer: Mr. Sulu; His own head on “Futurama”

Wrong question: “Who is DeForest Kelley?”

(10) FORD NOVEL RETURNS. Today is the republication date for John M. Ford’s long out-of-print The Dragon Waiting.

Available for the first time in nearly two decades, with a new introduction by New York Times-bestselling author Scott Lynch, The Dragon Waiting is a masterpiece of blood and magic.

Isaac Butler has all kinds of reasons you should read it:

(11) DO INQUISITORIAL SPAIN AND YA MIX? Not a problem. At garik16’s blog: “SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova”.

Incendiary is the first in a new Young Adult Fantasy trilogy by author Zoraida Córdova, with the setting inspired by Inquisitorial Spain.  Córdova is a prolific YA writer whose work I hadn’t gotten to previously, but one I was hoping to get to at some point, so I requested this novel via inter-library loan once my library reopened.

And well, Incendiary is a really interesting YA fantasy novel, with a compelling protagonist….but also one that feels not quite sure what it wants to do with her…. 

(12) RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY. “Man steals truck to go ‘meet an alien'” – but this time it’s Utah Man, not Florida Man.

A Utah man is behind bars after he stole a pickup truck out of a 7-Eleven parking lot.

The victim left the keys in the truck and the vehicle unlocked when he went in to the convience store for a quick stop.

That’s when Bryce Jerald Dixon hopped into the vehicle and took off.

KUTV reports that Dixon took the truck in order to drive all the way to the “Colosseum to get on a flight with alien diplomats.”

Unfortunately, before Dixon could get to the Colosseum, which was some 6,000 miles away across the ocean, he started feeling bad, and decided to return the red pickup truck to the parking lot and its owner, where the police were waiting….

(13) CHEESE FROM OUTER SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Mamie Van Doren On The Red Skelton Show S09E30 (5/24/60” on YouTube is a sketch from a 1960 episode of The Red Skelton Show where Mamie Van Doren is the Queen of Outer Space and Peter Lorre is the Galactic Emperor.  They want to destroy the Earth — and the only person who can stop them is Red Skelton’s goofball character  Clem Kadiddlehopper!  Special cameo by Rod Serling.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Among Us” Fandom Games reviews a mindless phone game from 2018 that’s for “the attention-deficit gaming community” that “searches for something to keep them busy in this time of isolation.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Michael Toman, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/20 The Pixel Scrolls So Sweetly, It Lists
The Links Completely

(1) LODESTAR MEMENTO. Fran Wilde shows off her Lodestar finalist pin. The Instagram is a video of her unwrapping the box. Below is a screencap of the pin.

(2) CAN’T TELL THE DC FROM THE DOA. A.V. Club reports “DC Comics hit with huge layoffs, DC Universe streaming service could be dead”.

The WarnerMedia branch of Warner Bros. was hit with a ton of layoffs today, and things seem especially dire this evening for the Warner-owned DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of high-ranking people at DC are now out, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris, several senior VPs, and some editors (including executive editor Mark Doyle, who was in charge of the publisher’s edgy new Black Label graphic novels). Furthermore, THR’s sources say the layoffs have come for “roughly one third” of DC’s entire editorial staff as well as “the majority” of the people working on the DC Universe streaming service, and the DC Direct merchandise brand has been completely shut down after 22 years of selling Batman toys.

The Hollywood Reporter story adds:

…Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.

“DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened,” said one source.

DC Universe launched in May 2018, and is home to live-action series such as Doom PatrolTitans and Stargirl, as well as animated offerings including Young Justice and Harley Quinn. Some of those shows have now started to stream on HBO Max.

Also a victim of the layoffs: DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer….

(3) THE HORROR. Jo Furniss totes up “10 Novels Based On Folk Horror” at CrimeReads.

…I don’t want to give the impression that my American Rose is some kind of bastard love child of Kate Bush and the Blair Witch. But like other suspense writers who dip their nibs into the cursed waters of folk horror, its elements may be sprinkled into a contemporary novel to create an atmosphere of dread.

The resurgence of the genre shows that folk horror is apt for our times. Identities are fluid. No bad deed goes unpunished. The civilized world is only a heartbeat away from primal and uncanny threats.

The genre is also nostalgic for a rural England that is as far from Downtown Abbey as you can get in a four-horse carriage. This England is afeared of change. In times of crisis, we return to the old ways, which offer a reassuring connection to a simple past. But at the cost of old evils. There is a sense that all progress is a chimera, that our modern sophistication is itself a form of naivety.

(4) BLACK UTOPIA. In “Will I Live to See My Utopia?” at Uncanny Magazine, P. Djèlí Clark responds to HBO’s adaptation of Watchmen.

…Before your mind can make sense of it, words in some shade of Watchmen yellow superimpose across the screen: TULSA 1921.

Gotta admit, didn’t see that coming.

Once those two words flashed, what I was looking at resolved into focus. The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921[5]. The Tulsa Massacre. The scene set off a surge on Google[6] as viewers searched for information on the riot—their first time learning about it. Many Black folks, though, didn’t have to go looking. We’d heard some version of this story. I couldn’t even tell you where or when it was passed on to me—one of those bits of common knowledge that travels along Black intra-community networks, written down in our Scriptures on the Sins of White Folk. The story of the all-Black and self-sustaining community that rose up in the middle of Jim Crow. That prospered, with its own businesses and professionals. Black Wall Street, they called it. Even if you didn’t know every detail—like the discrepancies about airplanes dropping dynamite on buildings, or the disputes over mass graves[7]—you had heard something about Tulsa. It was a story of Black excellence, and Black horror. A tragic tale of a lost world like the city of Atlantis, or doomed Krypton—only snuffed out not by natural disaster or hubris, but by the reckless fires of white supremacy.

Still, the cold open of an HBO production was the last place I expected to see this. I’d gone my entire Black life and never seen a single recreation—not once. Our stories didn’t appear in mainstream productions like this. Our histories certainly weren’t centered this way within a major speculative canon. Our perspective wasn’t supposed to fit into stories of superheroes as jaded vigilantes, a physics- bending blue guy, and the greatest hoax ever played on mankind—à la interdimensional psychic squid.

But here we were. This was happening….

(5) ROBOFLOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Robots and disability access clash; everyone loses. TechCrunch’s Haben Girma discusses “The robots occupying our sidewalks” .

The robot, shaped like a large cooler on wheels, zipped along somewhere ahead of me. My left hand clasped the smooth leather harness of my German shepherd guide dog. “Mylo, forward.” The speed of his four short legs complemented the strides of my longer two — call it the six feet fox trot. Together we glided past the competition.

My quarantine buddy stayed behind filming the race. Mylo: 1, Robot: 0.

The Mountain View City Council voted on May 5, 2020 to allow Starship Technologies’ robots on city streets. Founded in 2014, Starship operates no-contact delivery robots in several cities around the world. Customers schedule deliveries of food, groceries or other packages through the Starship app.

My amusement with the little robots shifted to curiosity. Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many tech companies still fail to design for disability. How would the autonomous robots react to disabled pedestrians?

About 10 feet down the sidewalk, I stopped and turned around. Mylo tensed, his alarm crawling up my arm. The white visage of the robot stopped about a foot from his nose.

I hoped the robot would identify a pedestrian and roll away, but it stayed put. Mylo relaxed into a sitting position — guide dog school didn’t teach him about the robot apocalypse. I scratched his ears and he leaned into my hands. The robot was not moved.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

August 11, 1955 X Minus One’s “Almost Human” was broadcast for the first time. The screenplay was written as usual by George Lefferts off of Robert Bloch‘s story of the same name first published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943. (Last collected in The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Volume 1: Final Reckonings, 1990.) Bloch’s tale has a petty criminal taking over an android for what he thinks he is suitable training and has the tables turned on him as the android is too human. The cast included Santos Ortega, Joan Allison, Jack Grimes, Guy Repp, Nat Pollen, Joseph Julian and Lin Cook.  You can listen to it here. (CE)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertx.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. In Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue they published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, with the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity”.  In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics.  During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1923 – Ben P. Indick.  Fanzine Ben’s Beat; letters, reviews, in AndurilBanana WingsThe Baum BugleThe Call of CthulhuChacalThe Frozen FrogThe Metaphysical ReviewNecrofileNyctalopsRiverside QuarterlyRod Serling’s Twilight Zone MagazineStudies in Weird FictionWeird Tales.  Wrote Ray Bradbury, Dramatist and George Alec Effinger; eight short stories; contributed to Hannes Bok studies and flights of angels (1968), Bok (1974).  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  My attempt to recruit him for APA-L produced, briefly, Chez Ondique.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1928 Alan E. Nourse. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann.  His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester  Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid is available from all the usual digital suspects. (Died 1991.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1936 – Bruce Pelz, F.N.  An omnifan who did clubs, collecting, cons, costuming, fanhistory, fanzines, filking, gaming, and, as the saying goes, much much more. Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon (with Chuck Crayne); founded Loscon and chaired Loscon 10; Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon; founded the History of Worldcons Exhibit; twice earned the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Evans-Freehafer Award; was named a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Soc.; service award); Filk Hall of Fame; invented APA-L, contributed to it, FAPA, SAPS, OMPA, The Cult, and for a while every existing apa; recognized fan and pro art with the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF); gave his collection of fanzines, almost two hundred thousand of them, to U. Cal. Riverside.  He was an Eagle Scout.  Here and here are appreciations by OGH.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1949  – Nate Bucklin, 71.  First Secretary of Minn-stf (or stef, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) and thus one of its Floundering_Fathers.  Guest of Honor at Minicon 16 and 43, Windycon 32, DucKon IV.  Five short stories.  Fanzine, Stopthink; editor awhile of Rune; founding member of Minneapa.  Being a filker (see link under Bruce Pelz) he was Guest of Honor at GAFilk Six, and the Interfilk Guest at Contata 5.  Once explained to me “We have half these songs memorized – usually the first half.”  [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. Kindle has Bone Music and a number of his other novels, iBooks has nothing available. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1970 – Elizabeth Kiem, 50.  Four novels for us; collaborated on five books about Balanchine.  Three of those four have the Bolshoi Ballet.  [JH] 
  • Born August 11, 1972 – Danielle Wood, 48.  Tasmanian.  Three novels for us (with Heather Rose); dozens more via thus this site (subscription needed).  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the FuturePeter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!  to name but a few of his roles. (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1989 – Will Wight, 31.  Sixteen novels in three series; fourteen shorter stories, most available only here.  Website here.  Some of you will know why I keep misspelling his misspelling his name (and may even know how to spell Nesselrode).  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) TOWARDS POGO. Maggie Thompson guides readers through “The Depression Comics Challenge” at SDCC’s Toucan blog.

…Even in high school, Walt Kelly had worked at his local newspaper; after graduation, he even drew that paper a comic strip about the life of P.T. Barnum. While he was also hired for a few freelance assignments while living on the East Coast, he wanted to produce a different sort of comic art. Walt Disney Productions was his goal, he applied to work there, and he was hired.

As he worked for Disney on a variety of projects for the next five and a half years, he became friends with several of his fellow writers and artists. Like many other fledgling creators there, he’d eventually go on to work in the new comic book industry.

But wait. We were wrapping up the 1930s. And the 1940s were just ahead….

(10) CONDEMNED BY THE SCI-FI SCRIBE. In “Awards For Works Should Be Judged By The Work Itself” [Archive Today copy] Richard Paolinelli rolls together the week’s kerfuffles – Hugo toastmaster GRRM mispronouncing names, Jeannette Ng’s Hugo, the Retro-Hugos for Campbell and Lovecraft, and the attack on the concept of an sff canon – into one prodigious blunt and fires it up. Every paragraph is like this:

…And now they want to change the rules for future Retro Hugos it seems. No longer can the best work be nominated, they yowl, but if the creator behind said work does not pass the “Officially Acceptable Wokeness Test” they must be chiseled out of the SF/F historical record forever lest future generations ever hear of their vile “un-woke” creations!

And to make sure we know how unwoke he is, Richard repeatedly misspells N.K. Jemisin’s name, and delivers this bonus blast to John Scalzi’s syndicated movie review column of 30 years ago.

…Even John Scalzi jumped into the fray to declare that we really shouldn’t waste our time on the “old SF/F” stuff and only read the “modern (read: acceptably woke) stuff”.

HISTORICAL NOTE: I had the extreme displeasure of having to read his crap when it shot across the McClatchy Newspaper wire back in the mid-1990s when he was at the Fresno Bee and I worked the copy desk for two days a week at the Modesto Bee (thankfully the other three days I escaped that torture by working in the Sports department.)

When I heard Scalzi had jumped to fiction writing I pitied his poor editor. His stuff at the Bee was always the last we worked on and always need massive reworking to be suitable to run….

(11) DOWN THESE MEAN BOSTON STREETS. Obviously not sff, but I sure have read a hell of a lot of these books. At CrimeReads, Susanna Lee surveys “The World Of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser And The Birth Of The 1970’s Private Detective”. Really, Lee could have been rather more critical and still have been fair to the series.  

…In [The Godwulf Mnuscript], a student member of the anticapitalist committee tells Spenser not to laugh at the group, saying that they are “perfectly serious and perfectly right.” Spenser answers that so is everyone else he knows. In a world that revolves around ideologies and declarations of righteousness, Spenser is glad to meet people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The cast of supporting characters is populated by friends of different genders and colors who operate on principle without saying so, who are more about the walk than the talk. This is part of the hard-boiled principle of understatement; other people’s pain is to be taken seriously, but one’s own is not. But it is also a signal that the hard-boiled is beginning to change his parameters.

(12) AN EX-WIZ OF A WIZ. “Successor To Fill The Shoes Of Retiring New Zealand Wizard” is a short transcript from NPR’s Morning Edition. This is nearly the whole thing:

Ian Brackenbury Channell walks around in black robes and a pointy hat. He’s a tourist attraction, so Christchurch, New Zealand, even pays him. As he steps aside, a successor wizard takes over. Now, you may ask, exactly what magical power does this wizard possess? His answer – every day, the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing.

(13) NO LONGER AN ENIGMA. “Wartime code breaker helps crack Sheffield birds’ behaviour”.

Scientists have used mathematical equations developed by a wartime code breaker to understand the behaviour of birds.

University of Sheffield researchers used models developed by Alan Turing to study why flocks of long-tailed tits spread out across the countryside.

They found the birds were more likely to stay close to their relatives but avoided larger flocks.

PhD student Natasha Ellison said the maths was essential to the research.

Researchers tracked the birds around Sheffield’s Rivelin Valley, which eventually produced a pattern across the landscape, and they used maths to reveal the behaviours causing these patterns.

The team used equations developed by Mr Turing in the 1950s, who developed them to describe how animals get their spotted and striped patterns.

(14) REVERSE POLARITY. “Stunning ‘reverse waterfall’ filmed near Sydney” is a BBC video.

High winds and torrential rain on the New South Wales south coast in Australia have resulted in a spectacular sight – waterfalls in the Royal National Park being blown in reverse.

(15) WHEN FRUIT COLLIDES. “‘Bullying’ Apple fights couple over pear logo”: BBC’s article includes a picture of the allegedly-infringing graphic.

When Natalie Monson started her food blog 11 years ago, she didn’t expect to end up embroiled in a fight with the world’s most valuable company.

But the US small business owner is now battling Apple for the right to use a pear in the logo on her recipe app.

In a patent filing, Apple said the image was too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand.

Ms Monson says the tech giant is simply “bullying” and she feels a “moral obligation” to fight back.

More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition she and her husband Russ, owners of the Super Healthy Kids website, created last week to try to pressure the company to back down.

“This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability,” Mr Monson told the BBC. “That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

(16) A VERY ANTISOCIAL INSECT. Yes, this ant could do anything except bite its way out of a drop of tree resin: “Fossil of fearsome ‘hell ant’ that used tusk-like jaws to hunt its victims discovered in amber” at Yahoo! News.

A 99-million year old fossil of a “hell ant” is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.

Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.

“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in a statement.

(17) WHY IT’S GR8T. In “Honest Trailers:  Avatar–The Last Airbender” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies explain that the anime series Avatar–The Last Airbender is “full of life lessons that will thrill your inner eight-year-old–because it was written for eight year olds.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/10/20
Ancillary Mustache

(1) ADDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Speculative Fiction in Translation’s Rachel Cordasco renews her appeal that “major Anglophone SFF awards should include a separate translation category” in “SFT And The Awards”.

…Really, all of this comes down to a naming problem. If the Hugos are going to be a “World Award,” logically they should include works from around the world, in any language. Since that doesn’t seem likely any time soon, and Anglophone readers generally don’t learn multiple languages unless they have to, then the award should (again, logically) stop calling itself a “World Award” and start acknowledging that, from the very beginning, it has been and still is an award given to English-language SFF by English-language readers.

….And then there’s the whole set of general arguments opposing, or at least not immediately embracing, a separate translation category. I’ve listed a few below:

  • We already have too many award categories.
  • Not enough Anglophone readers read SFT so how could they vote on it?
  • Creating a separate translation category will send the message that SFT is inferior to Anglophone speculative fiction.
  • SFT can win and has won awards without any “help.”
  • But how can we determine if the translation is any good?
  • Changing award rules is too difficult.

I’m going to address each of these points separately, making sure that I reiterate that I am not involved in any of these awards at the executive level, though I did participate in the most recent Locus Awards voting and was able to bring my knowledge of current SFT to the discussion, which I truly appreciated.

You may also know that I started a “Favorite SFT” poll in 2018, which is open to anyone who would like to vote (once!). This approach has its flaws but it’s the best I can do with the resources I have. Just the fact that the poll exists makes me think that more people are becoming aware that SFT does exist.

To the first point that “we already have too many award categories”: so what? And also, is a translated category somehow less important than the “Young Adult” or “First Novel” category? And to the subpoint that some translated work might win in two categories, can’t that happen with other categories? And aren’t there ways to get around that? I freely admit that I’m not cut out for business meetings and deciding rules about rules- which is one of the reasons why I’m not on these committees. This is just me on a website putting forth my opinions, against which everyone is free to argue. (Just be respectful when you rip me to shreds, ok?)….

(2) DAY AFTER DAY. SYFY Wire explores “The Unending Appeal Of Time Loops”. But only once.

…But outside of a stay-at-home crisis, time loops have gained traction in their appeal due to the same themes that made Groundhog Day so popular to begin with. Like the drunken locals that Phil Conners laments to in Punxsutawney, or the fellow wedding guest in the Palm Springs hotel pool talking to Samberg’s Nyles, those existing outside the loop can relate on a visceral level to the experience of feeling like today is the same as yesterday and tomorrow. For Bill Murray, the appeal of Groundhog Day as a script was its representation of people’s fear of change, and how we choose to repeat our daily lives to avoid it. These themes echoed in Russian Doll, which as a bingeable streaming series really allowed audiences to inhabit the repetitive nature of the loops, ironically utilizing the same technologies that have sped our lives up and caused them to feel even more cyclical.

(3) FIYAHCON. I signed up for FIYAHCON (October 17-18) news in time to receive its August Update naming three more guests:

FIYAHCON tweeted additional information: Rebecca Roanhorse: “We suspect you know @RoanhorseBex from all of that constant award-winning she does as a Black + Indigenous writer of many brilliant things.”; Cassie Hart: “is a Maori writer who’s been working intensely behind the scenes to shine a light on SFF from Aotearoa while grinding out an impressive number of works herself.”; Yasser Bahjatt: “chaired the Worldcon bid for Saudi Arabia. And while that didn’t land, we are thrilled to hear more from him about Arabian SFF and other ways we can uplift and celebrate the spec community there.”

The three newcomers join FIYAHCON’s previously announced guests:

There’s also an educational FIYAH Definition T-Shirt that’s new.

(4) THE NEXT MARTIAN. io9 points to today’s trailer drop: “Hilary Swank Is on a Mission to Mars in the Emotional First Trailer for Netflix’s Away.

She’s boldly going where no one has gone before, but doing so means leaving the people she loves the most. We’ve got the first trailer for Netflix’s Away, a new series that sees Hilary Swank joining the first manned mission to Mars—a three-year journey that will test the limits of its crew, as well as the patience of those who were left behind….

(5) JUST SAYIN’. Jay Blanc tweeted his ideas for improving Hugo administration. Thread starts here. Whether or not he has the solution (and CoNZealand Deputy Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte responded skeptically in the thread), I had to agree with Blanc’s last tweet about what one of the problems is.

He’s not alone in marveling at how many times in the past decade the Hugos have been hamstrung because someone was writing code from scratch. That doesn’t always happen for the same reason. We didn’t always need or want, in the past, a system that integrates all aspects of a member’s digital interaction with the convention. That’s what they’re moving toward, therefore it would make sense for that software to be created and stabilized. Funding it, having the work done and vetted, and working out licensing to the committees (which are entities of their own) would all be part of the mission.

(6) THE EYES HAVE IT. “Looking Forward on Looking Backwards” at The Hugo Book Club Blog.

… Because they are voted on primarily by people who were born decades after the original publication dates, the Retro Hugos are less likely to recognize work that has not been reprinted. This means that the average Retro Hugo voter inevitably experiences the works they’re voting on through a filter created by the intervening generations. Other than Erle KorshakCora Buhlert, and Gideon Marcus, we’d be hard-pressed to name a Hugo voter who is likely to have read a 1945-era pulp magazine cover-to-cover and experienced the works in something like their original context….

No need to be so “hard-pressed.” You have not because you ask not.

…For the Retro Hugos to be relevant and worthwhile awards, we as members of the World Science Fiction Society need to wrestle with why the awards need to exist. Is their intent to reproduce the racist tastes of the past or can they help focus a critical lens on the history of the genre and help us discover works that might have been overlooked?

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 10, 1951 Tales Of Tomorrow first broadcast the “Blunder” in which a scientist is warned his experiment with nuclear fission could destroy the earth. Written by Philip Wylie who wrote the screenplay for When Worlds Collide.  The primary cast is Robert Allen and Ann Loring. It was directed by Leonard Valenta who otherwise did soap,operas. The original commercials are here as well.  You can watch it here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in the horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter  from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents that four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World: “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine“ being two of them. (Died 1978.) (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1913 Noah Beery Jr. Genre-wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. LaoThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy IslandBeyond Witch MountainThe Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.) (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1931 – Alexis Gilliland, 89.  Seven novels, six shorter stories and a Feghoot; Campbell (as it then was) for Best New Writer.  Chaired six Disclaves.  WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) met at his house for decades.  One of our finest fanartists.  Four Hugos, three FAAn (FAn Activity Achievement) Awards, Rotsler.  Letters, perhaps three hundred cartoons in AlexiadAlgolAmazingAnalogAsimov’sChungaFantasy ReviewFlagJanusLocusMimosaPulphouseSF EyeSF CommentarySF ReviewSFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) BulletinStar*Line, Worldcon Souvenir Books.  Here is a cover for SF Review.  See hereherehere.  Makes good deviled eggs.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1944 Barbara Erskine, 76. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her? (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 65. Best-known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1955 – Tom Kidd, 65.  Eight Chesleys.  Artbooks KiddographyOtherWorldsHow to Draw & Paint Dragons.  Three hundred eighty covers, a hundred forty interiors.  Here is Not This August.  Here is the Oct 83 Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is Songs of the Dying Earth.  Here is Overruled.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1962 – Horia Gâbea, Sc.D., 58.  Romanian playwright, poet, essayist, novelist, engineer, popularizer of contract bridge.  University of Bilbao prize for poetry.  The Serpent performed by the British Royal Court Theatre.  Translator of Chekhov, Corneille, John D. MacDonald, Machiavelli.  Accused of being “gratuitously bookish…. a pun more important than a murder…. thin and edgy like a razor…. forgives no one no thing.” Worlds and Beings anthology in English.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1965 Claudia Christian, 55. Best-known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space RangersHighlanderQuantum LeapRelic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six-episode series shot in ‘05 you can on Amazon Prime.  (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1971 – Lara Morgan, 49.  Six novels for us.  “Her mission is to rid the world of tea, one cup at a time.  This is going quite well.”  She liked All Our Yesterdays, alas for me not Harry Warner’s but Cristin Terrill’s; ranked Ender’s Game about the same as Lilith’s Brood.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1985 – Andrew Drilon, 35.  A dozen short stories; Philippine Speculative Fiction 9 with Charles Tan; four covers, three dozen interiors; comics.  Here is Heroes, Villains, and Other Women.  Here is WonderLust.  Here is a sequence from his own Whapak! [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) DOUBLE-OH BRACKETS. Morgan Jeffery, in “Sean Connery named the best James Bond as thousands of 007 fans vote in our poll” in Radio Times, says that 14,000 James Bond fans voted to see who the best Bond of all time was, with Sir Sean Connery first, Timothy Dalton second, and Pierce Brosnan third.  Sam Heughan from Outlander was named the #1 choice to be the new Bond in the survey,

…Round 1 saw Connery knock out current 007 actor Daniel Craig, coming out on top with 56 per cent of the vote compared to Craig’s 43 per cent, while Pierce Brosnan winning Round 2 with 76 per cent against his opponent George Lazenby’s 24 per cent.

Round 3 saw perhaps the most surprising result yet, as Roger Moore was knocked out of the competition – with 41 per cent of the vote, he lost out to his immediate successor Timothy Dalton, who scored 49 per cent of the vote.

(11) TOP TEN. ScreenRant lists “Star Trek: The 10 Weirdest Official Merch You Can Buy”. After all, nobody wants to buy just plain old Trek merchandise. And one item meets a need of Filers who never have enough of these —

4. Next Generation Spoons

At some point, someone decided that Star Trek fans were fanatical about cutlery and all things fine dining, hence the creations of a series of elegant Next Generation spoons.

The high-quality spoons feature the faces of fan-favorite characters such as Captain Picard and Data on the handle of each implement. While nice its almost impossible to imagine anyone actually using these spoons to eat with and the illogical decisions that led to their creation would no doubt befuddle Spock.

(12) APOLLO 1 INVESTIGATION. Dwayne Day continues his exploration of space history with new details about the Apollo 1 fire of 1967 in The Space Review: “After the fire: a long-lost transcript from the Apollo 1 fire investigation”.

As long as there has been spaceflight, there have been conspiracy theories. There were conspiracy theories about Sputnik in the late 1950s (“their Germans are better than our Germans”) and dead cosmonauts in the early 1960s. Even before some people claimed—on the very day that it happened—that the Moon landing was faked, Apollo had its own conspiracy theories. In those days it was difficult for them to propagate and reach a wide audience, unlike today, when they can spread around the world at the speed of light. One of those Apollo conspiracy theories was about a whistleblower named Thomas Baron, who later died under mysterious circumstances.

Baron worked on the Apollo program in Florida for one of the key contractors. After the Apollo 1 fire in early 1967, Baron testified before a congressional fact-finding delegation that went to Florida. He later died under what some people considered to be mysterious circumstances, fueling speculation that he was killed to shut him up. The transcript of his testimony also could not be found by later researchers, which fueled the speculation that somebody was covering up damaging information.

In 1999, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, radio station WAMU in Washington, DC, aired a program about the role of Washington politics in the lunar landing. “Washington Goes to the Moon” was written and produced by Richard Paul and featured interviews with a number of key figures in the story. Paul had decided that the Apollo 1 fire and the subsequent investigations into its cause would be a key focus of the program. In the course of researching the fire, he stumbled upon a document that many believed was long-lost: a transcript of an interview with Thomas Baron, who alleged that there were numerous improper actions taken by his employer, North American Aviation, which was building the spacecraft.

(13) THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE. “The nuclear mistakes that nearly caused World War Three” – BBC kept count.

From invading animals to a faulty computer chip worth less than a dollar, the alarmingly long list of close calls shows just how easily nuclear war could happen by mistake.

…All told, there have been at least 22 alarmingly narrow misses since nuclear weapons were discovered. So far, we’ve been pushed to the brink of nuclear war by such innocuous events as a group of flying swans, the Moon, minor computer problems and unusual space weather. In 1958, a plane accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb in a family’s back garden; miraculously, no one was killed, though their free-range chickens were vaporised. Mishaps have occurred as recently as 2010, when the United States Air Force temporarily lost the ability to communicate with 50 nuclear missiles, meaning there would have been no way to detect and stop an automatic launch.

(14) BLOCKHOUSE FOR BLOCKHEADS? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Schultz, in “For Sale: A Cold War Bunker and Missile Silo in North Dakota” on Atlas Obscura, says that tomorrow auctioneers will sell a 50-acre site in North Dakota that housed a missile base loaded with Sprint missiles that were supposed to be the last line of defense against Soviet ICBM’s.  The missiles are gone but the buildings are still there, and it’s perfect for a slan shack or future Worldcon bid, or would be an ideal place to conduct fan feuds.  What better place to launch verbal missiles than a place that housed real missiles? Plus all the former missile silos are guaranteed to be socially distant from each other!

HALF AN HOUR SOUTH OF the Canadian border, in Fairdale, North Dakota, a hulking concrete structure rises up from the flat fields that surround it. The beige buildings are so prominent on an otherwise pastoral landscape that they could be mistaken for a 20th-century Stonehenge.

It’s a Cold War missile site, and it’s for sale.

(15) I WALK TO THE TREES. In “The Lord of The Rings:  The Two Towers Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George promises a film with “a whole lot of walking.  Even the trees walk.”

[Thanks to John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, N., Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michal Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2019 Novellapalooza

stack of books ©canstockphoto / pjgon71

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?

I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 46 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
  • (and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

(Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)

Continue reading

Fantastic Fiction at KGB Readings Present Kelly and Clark

James Patrick Kelly and P. Djèlí Clark

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Wednesday, February 19, the monthly Fantastic Fiction at KGB Readings Series hosted award-winning authors James Patrick Kelly and P. Djèlí Clark at its longtime venue, the definitely Red Room at the 2nd floor KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village.

The event opened with Series co-host Ellen Datlow (fighting through a cold) welcoming the crowd and announcing upcoming readers:

  • March 18: Robert Levy, Daniel Braum
  • April 15: Michael Cisco, Clay MacLeod Chapman
  • May 20: Leanna Renee Hieber, Ilana C. Myers
  • June 17: N.K. Jemisin, Kenneth Schneyer
  • July 15: Mike Allen, Benjamin Rosenbaum

She concluded by introducing the evening’s first reader.

P. (for Phenderson) Djèlí Clark (and yes, it’s a penname) is the author of the fantasy novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015, and “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” a short story that earned him both a Nebula and Locus Award, and was a finalist for both the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Short Story and the 2019 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. As it was Black History Month and just after Presidents’ Day (formerly Washington’s Birthday), his opening offering was from that story, the first six teeth.

Washington’s famous choppers were not wooden (and certainly not carved from that legendary cherry tree), but were made from his own teeth that had fallen out, animal teeth and slaves’ teeth purchased from slave-owners. (His dentures, one might say, were the original George Washington bridge.) Clark, an historian in the other part of his professional life, imagines a mouthful of supernatural backstories for the titular dentation, of African warriors and conjuremen (wisdom teeth?), a strange counterpoint to the barbaric practice.

He followed up by reading from an advance bound manuscript of his forthcoming (in October or November) dark fantasy novella Ring Shout. In an alternate 1922 Macon, Georgia, a trio of black women – a bootlegger with a magic sword, a sharpshooter World War vet, and a “Harlem Hellfighter” – hunt Klansmen (“Ku Kluxers”). The original Klan’s sheets were intended to make them seem ghostlike, adding to the terror they induced, but here their hell-raising is given a literal twist, evil, malevolent sorcery. (While Clark didn’t say, in his story, it seems that D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation cast an actual spell drawing on the hatred and ugliness at America’s heart, leading to the rise and rebirth of the Klan … much as, absent the sorcery, it did in ours.) Advisory: there was much use of the n-word (small “n”) and “graphic language.”

After an intermission, Mercurio David Rivera, filling in for co-host Matthew Kressel (who was off on another island), introduced the second featured reader.

James Patrick Kelly has been honored with the Hugo Award for his novelettes “Think Like a Dinosaur” and “1016 to 1,” and the Nebula Award for his novella Burn. His most recent books are the novella King of the DogsQueen Of the Cats (which he described as a “romantic comedy” set on another planet in the far future, where dogs and cats have been uplifted, mostly in a circus), and a collection, The Promise of Space. (Like Clark, he too likes secret history; with John Kessel, he co-edited the anthology The Secret History of Science Fiction.)

Despite his description of it, he did not read from King of the DogsQueen Of the Cats, but instead a story so new that his wife (who was present) hadn’t read it, and that didn’t yet have a title (working titles include “Showdown,” “5°C” and, maybe seriously not in contention, “OK, Boomer”). Set in New Hampshire, it’s a future of cybernetic prosthesis and rejuvenation drugs, where rangers hunt Boomers (the only generation, he said, everyone agrees on hating – Kelly is one, as am I – but I thought it was Millennials whom everyone agrees on hating), like Willow’s great-grandmother.

Datlow closed the evening with the traditional exhortation to support the Bar by buying a drink. Prior to the readings, as usual, she snapped photos of the readers and the audience. Her photos of the event may be seen on Flickr now, and later at the Series website, http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/.

Pixel Scroll 8/12/19 Far From The Files We Know, Where The Pixels Flow

Editor’s Note: My mother’s pacemaker update went very smoothly. Her tech is good for years to come. Thanks for all the good wishes – which I relayed to her and she was pleased. And voilà, there’s a Scroll today after all.

(1) VERBAL KNIT. The official site says there will be text-based coverage of the Hugos and Retro Hugos: “Live Coverage of Hugo Award Ceremonies”. Details to come.

As usual we will be providing live, text-based coverage of this year’s Hugo Award Ceremony, which takes place at 8:00pm on Sunday evening, Dublin time.

This year we also plan to bring you live, text-based coverage of the Retro-Hugo Award Ceremony, which will take place as part of the Worldcon Opening Ceremonies at 8:00pm on Thursday evening, Dublin time.

(2) ST:TOS DID IT RIGHT. Next Big Future declares “Old Star Trek Was Right As US Navy Returns to Manual Switches”. So says the headline they’ve unrolled above a story ganked from the USNI News (“Navy Reverting DDGs Back to Physical Throttles, After Fleet Rejects Touchscreen Controls”).

The Navy will begin reverting destroyers back to a physical throttle and traditional helm control system in the next 18 to 24 months, after the fleet overwhelmingly said they prefer mechanical controls to touchscreen systems in the aftermath of the fatal USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collision.

The investigation into the collision showed that a touchscreen system that was complex and that sailors had been poorly trained to use contributed to a loss of control of the ship just before it crossed paths with a merchant ship in the Singapore Strait. After the Navy released a Comprehensive Review related to the McCain and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collisions, Naval Sea Systems Command conducted fleet surveys regarding some of the engineering recommendations, Program Executive Officer for Ships Rear Adm. Bill Galinis said.

In the same vein, Elissa tells why she prefers sci-fi shows with physical ship controls. Thread starts here.

(3) FLAME ON. Alan Weisman takes two books with dire warnings about climate change as his texts for “Burning Down The House” in New York Review of Books.

David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth expands on his 2017 article of the same name in New York, where he’s deputy editor. It quickly became that magazine’s most viewed article ever. Some accused Wallace-Wells of sensationalism for focusing on the most extreme possibilities of what may come if we keep spewing carbon compounds skyward (as suggested by his title and his ominous opening line, the answer “is, I promise, worse than you think”). Whatever the article’s lurid appeal, I felt at the time of its publication that its detractors were mainly evading the message by maligning the messenger.

Two years later, those critics have largely been subdued by infernos that have laid waste to huge swaths of California; successive, monstrous hurricanes—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—that devastated Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico in 2017; serial cyclone bombs exploding in America’s heartland; so-called thousand-year floods that recur every two years; polar ice shelves fracturing; and refugees pouring from desiccated East and North Africa and the Middle East, where temperatures have approached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and from Central America, where alternating periods of drought and floods have now largely replaced normal rainfall.

The Uninhabitable Earth, which has become a best seller, taps into the underlying emotion of the day: fear. This book is meant to scare the hell out of us, because the alarm sounded by NASA’s Jim Hansen in his electrifying 1988 congressional testimony on how we’ve trashed the atmosphere still hasn’t sufficiently registered.

(4) FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTPRINTS. Doug Ellis told Facebook readers that his company, Adventure Pulp LLC, has acquired the rights to the works of A. Merritt.

I’m already chatting with some folks regarding a few possible projects, and I hope to have some exciting Merritt publishing news soon!

Along with the rights, I acquired the remaining papers and art owned by the Merritt estate. Argosy reprinted Merritt’s classic “Seven Footprints to Satan” in five installments in 1939, starting with the June 24, 1939 issue. Merritt insisted that they use Virgil Finlay (with whom Merritt was working at American Weekly) to provide the illustrations for the story. This was Finlay’s entry into the Munsey pulps, and besides further work for Argosy, he would shortly be turning out great work for the Munsey pulps Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels. All five Finlay originals for this story were among the art I acquired.

(5) BIRD BRAINS. NPR’s Ilana Masad says “Humans Are Gone In ‘Hollow Kingdom,’ So It’s Up To The Crows”.

Plague, virus, and zombie apocalypse narratives tend to share a few common threads: Often, humanity brings such terrors upon itself; usually, survivors or those with immunity come together in ragtag groups and attempt to find a cure and/or fight their way through to where the other healthy people are; and, almost always, humanity survives — perhaps in drastically reduced numbers, sans modern technology — and must learn to rebuild itself anew. The central metaphor in these narratives tends to be that humanity is really quite an awful, violent species that wars with itself constantly, and that our boundless curiosity and hubris — whether that involves scientific research gone awry or meddling with forces beyond our ken — ultimately lead to our own near-complete destruction.

This metaphor is definitely present in Kira Jane Buxton’s debut novel, Hollow Kingdom, but luckily for anyone drawn to its gorgeous cover (it’s an eye-catcher, a bright, near-neon green with a black and purple crow staring intensely from behind the white font), Buxton takes a joyfully original approach to apocalyptic fiction. See, instead of us humans being the focal point in the story of our own extinction, it’s the plethora of life that we leave behind that takes center stage.

The novel is largely narrated by a domesticated crow named S.T. — short for something unprintable — who has spent his life with a beer-drinking, junk-food-eating, sports-loving, breast-obsessed man named Big Jim, who raised S.T. from a hatchling. A dopey, lazy dog named Dennis rounds out their little Seattle-based family. When Big Jim’s eye unexpectedly falls out of his head, S.T. knows something is very wrong, but it takes him a good long while before he gives up on his beloved MoFo — S.T.’s term for humans, learned at Big Jim’s bosom — and leaves home, accompanied by Dennis.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. While Scott Edelman’s flying to Dublin he invites you to listen to the new episode of Eating the Fantastic, and “Bite into a burger with P. Djeli Clark”.

P. Djèlí Clark won both the Nebula Award and the Locus Award for Best Short Story earlier this year for “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” — and is currently up for a Hugo Award not just for that, but for his novella “The Black God’s Drums” as well. His fiction has appeared online at Tor.com, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and elsewhere, and in print anthologies such as Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine.

We got together for dinner Friday of [Readercon] at Quincy’s Fat Cat Restaurant, which specializes in comfort food like nachos, wings, mac and cheese, and ribs, though they also serve higher end items like duck and ribeye steaks. But our tastes were not quite so upscale that night, so we stuck to chicken quesadillas and burgers.

We discussed his upcoming first novel (the sale of which was announced only days before we spoke), the background which gave birth to his award-winning story “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” the reason The Black God’s Drums switched point-of-view character during his writing of it, what he learned about New Orleans due to an unfortunate encounter with the local police department, ….and much, much more.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in three volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1903 J O Bailey. ESF says that “his Pilgrims through Space and Time: Trends and Patterns in Scientific and Utopian Fiction (1947) was the first academic study of sf, which it analyses primarily on a thematic basis, and without ever using the term ‘science fiction’, referring instead to ‘scientific fiction’ and the Scientific Romance.” (Died 1979.)
  • Born August 12, 1910 Jane Wyatt. Spock’s mother of course. She also was In Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 12, 1921 Matt Jefferies. He’s best known for his work on the original Trek where he designed much of the sets and props  including the Starship Enterprise, the Klingon logo, and the bridge and sick bay. The Jefferies tubes are named after him. (Died 2003.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrote The Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced the series from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished having become the longest-serving Doctor Who producer and cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1954 Sam J. Jones,  65. Flash Gordon in the 1980 version of that story. Very, very campy. A few years later, he played the lead role in a TV adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit.
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Delevingne, 27. She shows up in the Suicide Squad as June Moone aka The Enchantress, and in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. I adore The Fifth Element, should I see this film? 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

Two SJW Credential comics today.

(9) POINT AND CLICK. A Polaroid camera revival, thanks to Stranger Things — “The OneStep 2 Starter Set – Stranger Things Edition”.

Polaroid Originals is also releasing collectable special edition film, perfect for super fans to capture their stranger moments. As a further ode to the Stranger Things universe, each pack of 8 will include 16 graphic design prints, which will transport you back to the summer of 1985 in Hawkins, discovering Scoops Ahoy at the town’s new Starcourt Mall and back to the flashing lights of Joyce Byer’s living room.

Stranger Things is renowned for re-imagining the early 80s, and is infused with popular culture from the period, from walkie-talkies and Fabergé Organic big hair to Dungeons and Dragons. Retro Polaroid cameras pop up throughout the series, capturing moments from the Hawkins middle school’s Snow Ball to the gang’s iconic Ghostbuster Halloween costumes. After all what would the 80s be without a Polaroid snap?

(10) DIGITAL CHARACTERS, GENUINE PATHOS. “Digital Fur, Digital Folks: Reality Is Starting to Feel Overrated” according to the New York Times.

If the historians of the future try to pinpoint the exact moment when the term “digital fur” became ubiquitous in our culture, they might eventually identify the evening of July 18, when the “Cats” trailer premiered online just as the first public screenings of Disney’s “The Lion King” remake were unspooling across the country.

Here were two state-of-the-art endeavors, using computer-generated fur — by all accounts an enormously difficult and time-consuming special effects undertaking — toward extremely different ends.

(11) EARHART’S PLANE? Dr. Robert Ballard is on his way to the site – he hopes. The New York Times has the story: “Finding Amelia Earhart’s Plane Seemed Impossible. Then Came a Startling Clue.”

…Dr. Ballard has always wanted to find the remains of the plane Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared in 1937. But he feared the hunt would be yet another in a long line of futile searches.

“You have it in a holding pattern in your head,” said Dr. Ballard, founder of the Ocean Exploration Trust. “You’re still saying, ‘No, no, it’s too big a search area.’”

Then, a few years ago, another group of explorers found clues so compelling that Dr. Ballard changed his mind. Now, not only is he certain he knows where the plane is, he has set course for a remote atoll in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to recover it.

If his expedition succeeds, he’ll not only solve one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century. The 77-year-old explorer will also be transferring his legacy of discovery to a new generation of oceanic detectives.

Until recently, Dr. Ballard accepted the Navy’s version of Earhart’s fate: On July 2, 1937, near the end of their round-the-world flight, the aviator and her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished over the Pacific. After a lengthy and costly search, the Navy concluded on July 18, 1937, that the two died shortly after crashing into the ocean.

But in 2012, an old friend presented Dr. Ballard with a startling alternative….

(12) HERE WE GO AGAIN. NPR explains how “With Congressional Blessing, Space Force Is Closer To Launch”.

It started as a joke.

Early last year, President Trump riffed on an idea he called “Space Force” before a crowd of Marines in San Diego.

It drew laughs, but the moment was a breakthrough for a plan that had languished for nearly 20 years.

“I said maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the Space Force,” Trump said at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in March 2018. “And I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.'”

But now, under a new name and with Congress’ support, Space Force is closer to becoming a new military reality. It would be the first new military service in more than 70 years.

In January 2001, a special commission chaired by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said space needed to become a top national security priority. But the 9/11 terrorist attacks derailed those plans.

Since that time, military leaders, lawmakers and experts have warned that new resources were needed in space to get ahead of a potential, hostile nation setting out to destroy a U.S. satellite. Such a move could threaten our everyday lives, from our cell phones to the electric grid to the military’s ability to launch nuclear weapons.

As a result, proponents argue that the U.S. has fallen behind and needs to upgrade an existing Air Force office focused on space to become an official service.

(13) “BIRDS DO IT…” BBC reports “Berlin gay penguins adopt abandoned egg”.

Two male penguins at Berlin Zoo have been caring for an abandoned egg since July in their long quest to become parents.

The same-sex couple, Skipper and Ping, are keen to have a chick of their own, and have even been known to “try to hatch fish and stones”, spokesman Maximilian Jäger told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

He said the two king penguins adopted the egg, which had been abandoned by the sole female of the species at the zoo, and are “behaving like model parents, taking turns to keep the egg warm” by nestling it on their feet under a flap of belly skin.

The are now doing their best to protect their precious charge from jealous rivals, after a little encouragement from their human guardians.

(14) CONIC SECTION. Got to love the new art for next year’s Gallifrey One convention. Baskin-Robbins meets the TARDIS!

(15) GEICO’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. A time portal-themed commercial for GEICO insurance.

For her science fair project, Sophie creates a wormhole which release figures from the past like Abraham Lincoln.

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

2019 Locus Award Winners

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation announced the winners of the 2019 Locus Awards in Seattle during Locus Awards Weekend.

(Below) Mary Robinette Kowal accepts for N.K. Jemisin. Liza Groen Trombi of Locus stands at left.

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

FANTASY NOVEL

  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)

HORROR NOVEL

  • The Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Tremblay (Morrow; Titan UK)

YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)

FIRST NOVEL

  • Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

NOVELLA

  • Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

NOVELETTE

  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)

SHORT STORY

  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington“, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)

SPECIAL AWARD FOR COMMUNITY OUTREACH & DEVELOPMENT

  • Mary Anne Mohanraj

ANTHOLOGY

  • The Book of Magic, Gardner Dozois, ed. (Bantam; Harper Voyager UK)

COLLECTION

  • How Long ’til Black Future Month?, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

MAGAZINE

  • Tor.com

PUBLISHER

  • Tor

EDITOR

  • Gardner Dozois

ARTIST

  • Charles Vess

NON-FICTION

  • Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, Ursula K. Le Guin & David Naimon (Tin House)

ART BOOK

  • Charles Vess, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga)