The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 41st annual Prometheus Awards.
The Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. An online awards ceremony is planned for later this year at a time and venue to be announced.
Here are the five Best Novel finalists, listed in alphabetical order by author:
• Who Can Own the Stars? by Mackey Chandler (Amazon Kindle):
Emancipation is the overall unifying theme in this story, part of a series about a human future in space. The multiple plotlines and large cast of interesting characters incorporate emancipation of children from their parents (many principal characters are minors emancipated formally, in space, or de facto, on Earth) and of space colonists from the governments of Earth – an analogy that helped inspire the American revolution. The central focus of this novel, the latest in Chandler’s April series, is the colonists’ efforts to limit American military presence in space, both as a proven threat to their own rights and as a risk of provoking war if they venture beyond the solar system.
• Storm between the Stars, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press):
The first volume of Gallagher’s Fall of the Censor series explores a vast interstellar polity’s use of narrative control and memory-holing to cement power. Merchants in a ship from an isolated group of solar systems discover a new hyperspatial route to regain long-lost contact with the rest of humanity. They must deal with a centralized human empire founded on a fictitious history while establishing trade relations with businesses that operate through family ties and underground barter. Gallagher offers a timely cautionary tale about official truth, censorship, and the denial of history, while exploring strategies for economic survival and the pursuit of knowledge under a repressive government.
• The War Whisperer, Book 5: The Hook, by Barry B. Longyear (Enchanteds):
In one of the rare novels to imagine a fully libertarian society and attempt to do so realistically, Longyear imagines a near future in which the Mexican government’s bungled response to a devastating Category 5 hurricane prompts the people of the border state of Tamaulipas to secede, declaring themselves an anarcho-libertarian freeland. The protagonist, Jerome Track, must first decide whether the freeland is worth his commitment, and then develop an innovative strategy for its defense. In the fifth book of Track’s autobiography, Longyear grapples with how a society that refuses to use coercion against its people can defend itself against military aggression, developing an intriguing and plausible solution.
• Braintrust: Requiem, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing):
A Great-Depression-scale crash of the world economy sparks an unholy alliance by socialist and fascist governments and their attack via three overwhelming fleets against a community of liberty-loving, tech-savvy seastead citizens in this adventurous, high-spirited, fast-paced and funny saga, the culminating fifth novel within the explicitly libertarian Braintrust Universe series. The struggle to preserve continued freedom and independence of the archipelago – with its highly innovative biotech, materials science, power generation and life-saving genetic engineering – is the central focus of the suspenseful and terrifying but also lighthearted finale, a fast-paced sequel to Stiegler’s previous Prometheus-nominated Braintrust novels (Ode to Defiance, Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest.)
• Heaven’s River, by Dennis E. Taylor (Amazon):
Set in a future where the uploaded consciousness of a single programmer named Bob has changed, developed and drifted among 24 generations of replicants spreading through the galaxy as a non-coercive collective, Book 4 in the Bobiverse offers a new beginning beyond the original trilogy. The complex, far-flung and humorous saga alternates between an early Bob’s interstellar search for a long-lost replicant named Bender, sparking the discovery of an alien civilization and growing threats of civil war sparked by a younger generation of self-styled Starfleet fans who embrace a radical view of the Prime Directive. The novel raises questions about voluntarism, coercion, the freedom to disagree, and how cooperation can provide innovative and non-aggressive solutions to problems.
LFS members also nominatedthese 2020 works for the Best Novel category: Assassin: High Ground, by Doug Casey and John Hunt (Highground Books); Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline (Ballantine); Attack Surface, by Cory Doctorow (TOR); The Pursuit of the Pankera: A Parallel Novel about Parallel Universes, by Robert Heinlein (Phoenix Pick, CAEZIK SF & Fantasy); Situation Normal, by Leonard Richardson (Candlemark & Gleam); and Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel, by Martha Wells (TOR/MacMillan.)
All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. The Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel are selected by a 12-person judging committee. Following the selection of finalists, all LFS upper-level members (Benefactors, Sponsors and Full members) read and vote on the Best Novel finalist slate to choose the annual winner.
Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty.
The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.
The LFS says these are the kinds of work recognized by the Prometheus Award –
For more than four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor voluntary cooperation over institutionalized coercion, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the ethically proper and only practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, mutual respect, and civilization itself.
A full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories is here. For reviews and commentary on these and other works of interest to the LFS, visit the Prometheus blog.
The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for Best Classic Fiction.
The Winter of the World, a 1975 novel by Poul Anderson
“As Easy as A.B.C.,” a 1912 novelette by Rudyard Kipling
“The Trees,” a 1978 song by Rush (recorded as part of the rock group’s 1978 album “Hemispheres”)
Emphyrio, a 1969 novel by Jack Vance
“Lipidleggin’,” a 1979 short story by F. Paul Wilson
The Prometheus Awards ballot will be emailed to LFS members at the usual time next May, The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include gold coins and plaques for the winners for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), and occasional Special Awards.
At the end of July, the Board of Directors issued a proclamation suspending most inperson SCA activities in North America until January 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. In November, we asked the Kingdom Seneschals and Crowns of the known world to give us their counsel on how to proceed in the first part of 2021. We received very thoughtful responses from nearly all Crowns and Kingdom Seneschals as well as many other concerned people. We wish to thank everyone who responded for taking the time to do so, and for putting such effort into your responses. After reading and discussing the feedback received, the Board decided at their conference call meeting on 12/01/2020 to continue the suspension of in-person activities in North America through May 31, 2021….
(3) FILER ASKS YOU OPINION. Cora Buhlert says, “I’m considering starting a Patreon next year and have created a survey to gauge interest.”
…Science fiction set in the future is often as much about the time it was written in as it is about prognostications. Diving into both world and family history, we can tease out some of the threads that came together to make this story of the subversion of an authoritarian regime from within its record-keeping arm, and how that inspired revolution.
In 1953, we were less than 10 years from the end of World War II. Senator Joe McCarthy was busy investigating citizens for wrongful thoughts and potential treason. The early main-frame computer, UNIVAC, correctly predicted the winner of the 1952 presidential election. Dad’s brother, my Uncle John, was turned down for the US Foreign Service because of his Danish Communist aunt. And Dad wrote “Sam Hall.”
Computer-savvy folk of today will likely snicker a bit at the electromechanical whirs and buzzes of the government’s Central Records computer, nicknamed Matilda the Machine. Matilda holds detailed information on all citizens, tracking all transactions, travel, education, contacts, relationships. The “Matildas” of today know a tremendous amount about us and our shopping habits, travel plans, and private emails.
For although Dad did a good job of thinking about the power of computers held by the government as data gathering machines, in 1953 he didn’t seem to have thought much about computers as gatherers of data for private enterprise.
The America of “Sam Hall” has closed its borders to immigration, gives its citizens loyalty ratings, assigns them each a unique ID number and demands that it is tattooed on the shoulder. There is an underground movement, but, as our protagonist, Thornberg muses, “It was supported by foreign countries who didn’t like an American-dominated world – at least not one dominated by today’s kind of America, though once ‘USA’ had meant ‘hope.’”…
The are violent ghosts, flying whales, and dead people with mouthfuls of saltwater hundreds of miles from the ocean in Sam J. Miller’s The Blade Between, but it all makes sense. It all makes sense because the story takes place in Hudson, New York, a place built on the remains of slaughtered whales, where their unused parts were buried underground and the scraps were fed to animals later used to feed people. Hudson is full of angry spirits, but now a different monster is destroying it: gentrification.
… The Blade Between is a book about broken people. The creepy atmosphere and ghosts make it horror, but the drug abuse, evictions, cheating, and destroyed lives make it noir. Also, Miller’s writing and vivid imagery, especially when describing dreams, make it poetry. The mix of genres, much like the mix of elements, makes no sense, but it works.
… What is less known is that Tolkien and Lewis also designed and established the curriculum for Oxford’s developing English School, and through it educated a second generation of important children’s fantasy authors in their own intellectual image. Put in place in 1931, this curriculum focused on the medieval period to the near-exclusion of other eras; it guided students’ reading and examinations until 1970, and some aspects of it remain today. Though there has been relatively little attention paid to the connection until now, these activities – fantasy-writing, often for children, and curricular design in England’s oldest and most prestigious university – were intimately related. Tolkien and Lewis’s fiction regularly alludes to works in the syllabus that they created, and their Oxford-educated successors likewise draw upon these medieval sources when they set out to write their own children’s fantasy in later decades. In this way, Tolkien and Lewis were able to make a two-pronged attack, both within and outside the academy, on the disenchantment, relativism, ambiguity and progressivism that they saw and detested in 20th-century modernity.
…The Oxford School’s medievalist approach radiated outward, influencing many more children’s fantasy authors and readers, and helping to turn Anglophilic fascination with early Britain and its medieval legends into a globally recognisable setting for children’s adventures, world-saving deeds and magical possibility.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 6, 1991 — Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country premiered. It would be the last Trek film to feature the entire original cast from the series, and was released just after Roddenberry passed on. Directed by Nicholas Meyers and produced by Ralph Winter Steven-Charles Jaffe, the screenplay was by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn from a story from Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. It would lose out to Terminator 2: Judgement Day at MagiCon for Best Hugo, Long Form Presentation. The film received a much warmer reception from critics and audiences alike than The Final Frontier did, and it was a box office success. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most exemplary rating of eighty three percent.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 6, 1881 – Helen Knipe. Illustrator (also rendered stage plays into novels). Here is The Magical Man of Mirth. Here is The Land of Never Was. Here is an interior for The Queen of the City of Mirth. (Died 1959) [JH]
Born December 6, 1909 — Arthur K. Barnes. Pulp magazine writer in mostly the Thirties and Forties. He wrote a series of stories about interplanetary hunters Tommy Strike and Gerry Carlyle which are collected in Interplanetary Hunter and Interplanetary Huntress. Some of these were co-written with Henry Kuttner. His Pete Manx, Time Troubler collection featuring Pete Manx is a lot of fun too. Both series are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1979.) (CE)
Born December 6, 1911 — Ejler Jakobsson. Finnish-born Editor who worked on Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories butbriefly as they were shut down due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobson was named editor until it ceased publication two years later. Twenty years later, he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl. His first credited publications were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939, co-edited with his wife, Edith Jakobsson. (Died 1984.) (CE)
Born December 6, 1957 — Arabella Weir, 63. A performer with two Who appearances, the first being as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story, before being The Doctor Herself in “Exile”, a Big Audio production. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of Darkness, Genie in the House, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders. (CE)
Born December 6, 1962 — Colin Salmon, 58. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in the clunker of films, Mortal Engines. (CE)
Born December 6, 1942 – Ted Pauls. A hundred reviews in Locus, SF Commentary, SF Review, The WSFA (Washington, DC, SF Ass’n) Journal. His T-K Graphics was a leading mail-order bookshop. Fanzine, Kipple. Co-chaired Balticon 5-8. Part of the Baltimore SF Forum (hello, Ted White). (Died 1997) [JH]
Born December 6, 1946 – Ana Lydia Vega, Ph.D., age 74. Seven collections, one children’s book. Casa de las Américas prize, Juan Rulfo prize. Puerto Rico Society of Authors’ Author of the Year. Professor at Univ. Puerto Rico (retired). [JH]
Born December 6, 1960 – Julie Dean Smith, age 60. Four novels “done with panache and a happy skill” — hey, I’m quoting Clute, it must be St. Nicholas’ Day. [JH]
Born December 6, 1962 — Janine Turner, 58. Maggie O’Connell on Northern Exposure which we’ve accepted as genre adjacent. She was also Linda Aikman in Monkey Shines, a horror film not for the squeamish, and had one-offs in Knight-Rider, Quantum Leap and Mr. Merlin. (CE)
Born December 6, 1969 — Torri Higginson, 51. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series. (CE)
Born December 6, 1972 – Kevin Brockmeier, age 48. Fifteen novels for us, thirty shorter stories. “A Proustian Reverie” in the NY Times Book Review. Three O. Henry prizes (take that, Arthur Hawke), several others. Interviewed in Lightspeed. [JH]
Born December 6, 1981 – Ben White, age 39. Confessedly Aotearoan pâkehâ. Three novels. Twenty-six games here. Has read The Sirens of Titan, The Phantom Tollbooth, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Thirteen Clocks. [JH]
There is nothing quite like a good-bad movie. Sometimes the title alone is enough to let us know what we’re in for: think Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). Sometimes the good-badness might be about knowing we are guaranteed an over-ripe performance from a particular star: think Nicolas Cage from around 2010 onwards. Sometimes a lurid or ridiculous premise promises a good time all by itself (see: Night of the Lepus, AKA the killer rabbit movie). But whether or not the creative minds behind these kinds of cultural landmarks were in on the joke is sometimes less self-evident.
…The godfather of wonderfully terrible films is Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood’s 1959 effort about aliens attacking the Earth. Hubcaps on strings are pressed into service as interstellar spacecraft, wobbling their way to our planet. When we get our first glimpse of the alien beings within, the hubcaps start to look pretty cosmic by contrast; the aliens bear a resemblance to inexpensive actors sporting off-the-rack medieval fayre costumes. Horror veteran Bela Lugosi, appearing as the villain, passed away before filming; his character’s scenes are constructed from screen-test footage he’d shot with Wood, plus additional material featuring another, far taller guy with a cape draped over his face. Throughout the film, scenery has a habit of wobbling alarmingly, particularly the gravestones.
(11) WHAT’S UP CHUCK? Checking in on the latest wisdom from the Tingleverse.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ. John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Dany Sichel, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…I spent the past decade trying to pitch a simple idea to publishers: a mass market anthology of international speculative fiction for the bookstore shelf. The responses varied from, well, no response at all to an under-an-hour rejection (that one still hurts).
The idea is simple and, to me, both logical and necessary. I am of that new generation of writers who grew up in a language other than English, and who decided at some point that our way in is to write in this peculiar, second language. Somehow, we reasoned, against all odds and common sense, we’ll break through into that rarefied Anglophone world, maybe even make a go of it. After all, how hard could English be?
Many of the writers in The Best of World SF do indeed write in English as a second language. Others are translated, thanks to the tireless effort of passionate translators from around the world. As a sometimes translator myself, I know how rarely translators get acknowledged or, indeed, paid, and I made sure that they were paid the same for these stories as the authors themselves.
(2) CHILLING TRAILER. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina returns for Part 4 on December 31.
Hello and welcome! I initially created this website because costume.org’s “International Costumer’s Gallery” has been down for quite a while, and they only allowed me to post my costume photos. My convention photos include props, displays, celebrities, and sets, as well. Here, I’m able to post them all.
This archive is a collection of convention and costume event photos going back to 1973. It includes Science Fiction conventions, Costume conventions, Costume College, and other events and exhibits. It will be added to over time, as the digitizing of negatives continues. The currently displayed photos are those that have been previously published on costume.org’s website, as well as photos not previously published. Since costume.org’s site is down for an indeterminate period of time, this will allow you access to my collection.
On the day in April that Rachel Bloom finally took her newborn daughter home from the hospital, one of her best friends died. Her daughter had arrived with fluid in her lungs, into a maternity ward that was rapidly filling with furniture as other wards were transformed into Covid wards. Bloom, tired and elated to be home, had a nap. Her husband woke her with the news: Adam Schlesinger – the well-loved musician and one of Bloom’s closest collaborators on the musical-dramedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – had died from Covid-19 in a New York hospital, aged 52.
For a wild and strange period, it was unclear how to grieve. Schlesinger, like so many of this year’s dead, had no funeral. Jack Dolgen, the third part of the songwriting trio behind the TV show, came to mourn with Bloom, standing 15ft from her fence. Aline Brosh McKenna, the showrunner, stood in the street. “We didn’t know anything, there was no testing, we didn’t know how this thing spread,” Bloom says. “Now we have a Crazy Ex Zoom, where we all talk. But there’s nothing natural about it.”…
… Bloom was only 23 when her parody song Fuck Me Ray Bradbury went viral on YouTube, and just 26 when Brosh McKenna approached her for Crazy Ex. But she was already weathered enough by experience to know what she wanted on the set, particularly in the writers’ room. It “had to be nice”, she says. “People can’t be creative if they feel threatened. You need people saying random weird shit without feeling their boss will yell at them. And it worked. I think there has been an awakening of compassion, since, a reckoning with privilege.”
…EC Henry posted the video to YouTube, noting that even though everyone knows the Enterprise-D is big, it is, in fact, massive. And while that is, of course, a subjective assessment, relatively speaking it has to be true. In the video, EC says he used the enormous amounts of available data on the fictional ship to make his estimates. In fact, the nerdy artist (our description), used “comprehensive” blueprints of all 42 decks of the Enterprise-D. Which, while not canonical, still apparently provide realistic measurements.
(6) LANDER OBIT. Actor David Lander, best known as Laverne & Shirley’s “Squiggy,” died December 4 at the age of 73 reports Variety. He voiced many genre roles.
…As a voice actor, Lander was the voice behind Smart Ass in the 1988 Disney movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” and was credited as Stephen Lander in “Boo” and “Zino and the Snurks.” He also voiced Ch’p in the DC Comics animated movie, “Green Lantern: First Flight” in 2009.
Lander most recently voiced Rumpelstiltskin in Disney’s children’s show, “Goldie & Bear,” and Donnie the Shark in an episode of “SpongeBob Squarepants” in 2016.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVESARY.
In 1986, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s The Illuminatus Trilogy consisting of The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple and Leviathan would be selected for the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. All three novels were originally published eleven years earlier by Dell as separate novels with the trilogy coming out in 1984. It is his only win of six nominations for Prometheus Awards to date with The Illuminatus Trilogy being nominated twice. The Schrödinger’s Cat trilogy has not been nominated to date. (CE)
…Two hours after the flight began, the leader of the squadron, who had been flying in the area for more than six months, reported that his compass and back-up compass had failed and that his position was unknown. The other planes experienced similar instrument malfunctions. Radio facilities on land were contacted to find the location of the lost squadron, but none were successful. After two more hours of confused messages from the fliers, a distorted radio transmission from the squadron leader was heard at 6:20 p.m., apparently calling for his men to prepare to ditch their aircraft simultaneously because of lack of fuel.
By this time, several land radar stations finally determined that Flight 19 was somewhere north of the Bahamas and east of the Florida coast, and at 7:27 p.m. a search and rescue Mariner aircraft took off with a 13-man crew. Three minutes later, the Mariner aircraft radioed to its home base that its mission was underway. The Mariner was never heard from again. Later, there was a report from a tanker cruising off the coast of Florida of a visible explosion seen at 7:50 p.m….
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 5, 1830 – Christina Rossetti. A novelette, a short story, two dozen poems for us, best known “Goblin Market”; much other work. Applauded by Hopkins, Swinburne, Tennyson. “In the Bleak Midwinter” set to music as a Christmas carol by Holst, later by Darke; “Love Came Down at Christmas” by many. (Died 1894) [JH]
Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. I saw Metropolis in one of those art cinemas in Seattle in the late Seventies. (Died 1976.) (CE)
Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney. With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950) and Mary Poppins (1964), the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT). I’ll pick Fantasia as my favorite film that he’s responsible for though I’m also very fond of Cinderella and Mary Poppins. And, of course, there’s “The Three little Pigs” with the weird note about the father of the little pigs. (Died 1966.) (CE)
Born December 5, 1936 — James Lee Burke, 84. This is one of the listings by ISFDB that has me going “Eh?” as to it being genre. The Dave Robicheaux series has no SFF elements in it and despite the title, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, neither does that novel. The character makes it clear that it’s very, very likely he’s hallucinating. Great novel. (CE)
Born December 5, 1941 – Jon DeCles, age 79. Two novels, a dozen shorter stories; “Haiku Portraits” (under another name, with David McDaniel) reprinted in A Tolkien Treasury. Portrayed Mark Twain, whom I thus met and conversed with, at ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon. Knew Ben Bova at Milford. See here. [JH]
Born December 5, 1954 — Betsy Wollheim, 66. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction. DAW is, despite being headquartered at Penguin Random House, a small private company, owned exclusively by its publishers. (CE)
Born December 5, 1961 – Nicholas Jainschigg, age 59. A hundred covers, two hundred twenty interiors. Here is the Feb 89 Asimov’s. Here is the Dec 91 Amazing. Here is Bears Discover Fire. Here is Northern Stars. Here is the Jul-Aug 99 Analog. Here is an interior for “Still Life with Scorpions”. Also card games, comics, landscapes, digital paleontology. Gaughan Award. Professor at Rhode Island College of Design. “Amazing beauty can be found … between parking lots, between buildings.” Website. [JH]
Born December 5, 1969 – Erec Stebbins, Ph.D., age 51. Microbiologist and SF author. Three novels for us. Mostly occupied as Head of the Division of Structural Biology of Infection and Immunity at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg. [JH]
Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 47. Her unpleasant fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures. (CE)
Born December 5, 1980 — Gabriel Luna, 40. He plays Robbie Reyes who is the Ghost Rider rather perfectly in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Rather much better I’d say than Nick Cage ever did in the films. He was also Terminator Rev-9 in Terminator: Dark Fate, and he did voice work for the Black Site: Area 51 video game. (CE)
Born December 5, 1986 – Amy DuBoff, age 34. Ten novels, plus more with co-authors; a dozen shorter stories. Norton finalist last year. Proudly says some readers call her the modern Queen of Space Opera. [JH]
Born December 5, 1988 — Natasha Pulley, 32. She’s best known for her debut Victorian steampunk novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street which won a Betty Trask Award. She has two other novels, Her second novel, The Bedlam Stacks, was published in while her third, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, is the sequel to her first novel. (CE)
Born December 5, 2002 – Caroline David, age 18. With Peter David wrote Fearless, sequel to his Tigerheart. She was 11 at the time but got full co-author credit. Later she began sculpting (the word should really be sculping, but never mind for now) things like these. [JH]
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger, the fictional scientist and explorer who discovers a forgotten land of dinosaurs, went on to inspire a string of adventure films, including Jurassic Park. He was a headstrong and irascible antihero, but there is now proof he also served as his creator’s literary alter ego.
The evidence of handwritten notes and amendments, laid out this week with the first publication of the full manuscript of Conan Doyle’s original and most famous Challenger story, The Lost World, show the author not only posed for a photograph of himself dressed as the professor, but also initially gave the character his own age and address.
Conan Doyle spent much of his writing career distancing himself from his best-known creation, Sherlock Holmes, and his family later spoke of the great detective as “a curse”. Yet it seems Conan Doyle was happy to be confused with Challenger….
… Conan Doyle even persuaded his friends to join him in posing for a mocked-up photograph of the story’s imaginary expedition team. They appear grouped around a table before they set off for a hidden mountain plateau above the Amazon river in search of creatures from the Jurassic age. Conan Doyle hoped the image of himself in a fake beard and bushy eyebrows would give his story an air of authenticity, but the editor refused to print it.
Karl May, who died 100 years ago, was an impostor, a liar and a thief — and one of Germany’s most widely read authors. He embellished his own biography with as much fantasy as the scenarios in his adventure novels, and when the deceit was finally exposed, he never recovered. But his legend lives on. Here, May dressed as his cowboy character Old Shatterhand.
…But it wasn’t until 2009, when Nazon’s partner showed her images sent back from the Hubble Space Shuttle Program, that she reached her astronomical epiphany: what if she beaded the stars? Turns out, the different sized and colored beads were the perfect medium to depict the twirls, swirls, and clouds of supernovas, galaxies, black holes, and other out-of-this-world phenomena.
…On Monday, American astronaut Kate Rubins plucked 20 radish plants from the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) on the International Space Station (ISS), wrapping them in foil and placing them in cold storage until it’s time for their return trip home on SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission in 2021. According to a NASA fact sheet, 11 experiments have been completed growing veggies for human consumption as part of this program—from ‘Outredgeous’ red romaine lettuce in 2015 to Mizuna mustard last year. NASA says radishes made for a logical next step as they mature in less than a month and have a “sensitive bulb formation” which allows for analysis of CO2 effects and mineral acquisition and distribution.
…Each day, the Chula Vista police respond to as many as 15 emergency calls with a drone, launching more than 4,100 flights since the program began two years ago. Chula Vista, a Southern California city with a population of 270,000, is the first in the country to adopt such a program, called Drone as First Responder.
…Shield AI, a start-up in San Diego that has worked with police departments, has developed a drone that can fly into a building and inspect the length and breadth of the premises on its own, with no pilot, in the dark as well as in daylight. Others, including Skydio and DJI, a company in China that makes the drones launched from the roof of the Chula Vista Police Department, are building similar technology.
The Chula Vista department treats drone video much as it does video from police body cams, storing footage as evidence and publicly releasing it only with approval, Capt. Don Redmond said. The department does not use drones for routine patrols.
For privacy advocates like Mr. Stanley of the A.C.L.U., the concern is that increasingly powerful technology will be used to target parts of the community — or strictly enforce laws that are out of step with social norms.
“It could allow law enforcement to enforce any area of the law against anyone they want,” Mr. Stanley said.
Drones, for instance, could easily be used to identify people and restrict activity during protests like those that have been so prevalent across the country in recent months. Captain Redmond said the Chula Vista department did not deploy drones over Black Lives Matters protests because its policies forbade it.
Copenhagen-based Søren Solkær , best known for taking photographic portraits of big names in music and film such as Björk and David Lynch, has spent the past four years capturing starling murmurations. Inspired by traditional Japanese landscape painting and calligraphy, these stunning photographs are collected in a new book, Black Sun.
“The starlings move as one unified organism that vigorously opposes any outside threat. A strong visual expression is created, like that of an ink drawing or a calligraphic brush stroke, asserting itself against the sky,” says Solkær.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “I’m Flying” from the 1960 TV Version of Peter Pan is an excerpt from a musical broadcast on NBC featuring Mary Martin as Peter Pan, with choreography by Jerome Robbins and a song by Carolyn Leigh and Moose Charlap.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Contrarius, Jeff Smith, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Carl Andor, Cath Jackel, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
PROMETHEUS AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL. Alliance Rising, by C. J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher (DAW), has won the 2020 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for novels published in 2019.
The citation says:
Set in C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance/Union Universe (before her novel Downbelow Station), Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s interstellar saga of technological upheaval, intrigue and romance explores the early days of the Merchanter Alliance. Independent spaceship families ally during complex, mult-isided political-economic rivalries to defend established rights and promote the common good through free trade.
In one of the better fictional treatments of a complex economy, characters maneuver to prevent statist regimes from dominating space lanes, resist Earth’s centralized governance, and investigate the purpose of a mysterious ship, The Rights of Man, undergoing construction on an isolated space station. Classic libertarian themes emerge about what rights are and where they come from (often to resolve conflicts and avoid the initiation of force) and how commerce and property rights promote peace and prosperity as humanity spreads among the stars.
The other 2020 Best Novel finalists were The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (Random House; Nan A. Talese); Ruin’s Wake, by Patrick Edwards (Titan Books); Luna: Moon Rising, by Ian McDonald (TOR Books): and Ode to Defiance, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing).
THE PROMETHEUS HALL OF FAME FOR BEST CLASSIC FICTION. “Sam Hall,” Poul Anderson’s short story, won the 2020 Best Classic Fiction award and will be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
The citation says:
First published in 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction, Anderson’s story is set in a security-obsessed United States, where computerized record-keeping enables the creation of a panopticon society. The insertion of a false record into the system leads to unintended consequences.
Anderson (1926-2001), now a five-time Prometheus Award-winner and the first sf author to be honored with a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement (in 2001), explored political implications of computer technology that now, decades later, are widely recognized.
The other Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists were “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a 1912 story by Rudyard Kipling; “The Trees,” a 1978 song by the rock group Rush; A Time of Changes, a 1971 novel by Robert Silverberg; and “Lipidleggin’,” a 1978 story by F. Paul Wilson.
In addition to the finalists, the Hall of Fame Finalist Judging Committee considered four other works: The Winter of the World, by Poul Anderson; The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood; “The Pedestrian,” by Ray Bradbury; and The Uplift War, by David Brin.
While the Best Novel category is limited to novels published in English for the first time during the previous calendar year (or so), Hall of Fame nominees may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including novels, novellas, stories, films, television series or episodes, plays, musicals, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse.
PROMETHEUS BLOG: AWARDS APPRECIATION SERIES. The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.
Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for the winners – with a one-ounce gold coin for Best Novel and a smaller gold coin for the Prometheus Hall of Fame (for Best Classic Fiction in all written and broadcast/on-screen media) and the occasional Prometheus Special awards.
In the words of the LFS:
The Prometheus Awards recognize outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, champion cooperation over coercion, expose the abuses and excesses of government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or uphold individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, and civilization itself.
Last year LFS started a weekly appreciation series about all the award winners on the LFS Prometheus Blog. With the initial Best Novel series completed, the series is now continuing with review/essays in chronological order of each of the winners of the Hall of Fame category.
For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit www.lfs.org.
These sci-fi series are perfectly awful examples of this lamentable phenomenon. For some, the finale retcons fans’ understanding of everything the show did up until that point. For others, the finale serves as a sad reminder of what could have been, had the show been given another chance. Some leave dozens of loose ends dangling. Some attempt to wrap things up too neatly. Some are tonally inconsistent. All of them are disappointing — and all of them loom large in fans’ understanding of the show as a whole. We’re here to examine the worst finales in sci-fi television, no matter how much it makes us shudder. Spoiler warning: We’re going to reveal every last detail of these shows’ endings, in an effort to fully explain why they’re so darn detestable.
Here’s one of the shows they named:
Quantum Leap leaves Sam in limbo
… Despite its poor time slots, Quantum Leap’s blend of humor and social commentary garnered a fanbase. But due to declining viewership, it ended after five seasons. In the series finale, “Mirror Image,” we learn that Sam can return home if he chooses — but instead, he decides to go back in time and save his friend Al’s marriage. In doing so, Sam willingly makes it so he and Al never met, trapping himself in a paradox and giving up the life he so desperately wished to return to throughout the duration of the series. Sam’s fate is finally revealed in the show’s last frame: “Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home.”
This ending changes the mood of the show entirely. Instead of being wacky misadventures, each episode is reframed as one man’s fruitless quest to return home. He will, apparently, just keep going through these motions… forever. That’s not just bleak — it’s horrifying.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking novel. I want to discuss it around tea, preferably while in the mountains, preferably somewhere well-lit. I remember placing my bookmark in the book and thinking, I should not have read this before bed.
I was afraid of what I might dream.
Noémi’s cousin Catalina writes a strange letter begging for help. She claims her new husband Virgil Doyle is poisoning her, that “fleshless things” and ghosts trouble her, that “they will not let me go.” Noémi — self-assured, chic and stubborn — leaves the glamor of 1950s Mexico City for the countryside, still depressed after a mining bust and fecund with secrets, to determine whether Catalina needs rescue.
Reader, she does. The situation is more complicated and sinister than the initial fear of just a con artist husband isolating his new wife and convincing the world she’s mad so he can steal her money.
“It’s the representation in gaming I’ve waited for my whole life.”
Marvel’s Avengers are assembling once again, not on the big screen, but for a blockbuster video game.
It features many of the superheroes you might expect, including Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America. But they are joined by a new addition: Kamala Khan.
The Muslim-American teenager of Pakistani heritage, who has shape-shifting abilities, is the latest character to adopt the Ms Marvel moniker.
When the game’s publisher Square Enix announced that Marvel Avengers would include Kamala Khan as one of its main playable characters and make her central to the plot, it garnered praise from both fans and industry insiders.
“I first heard of Ms Marvel from the comics a few years ago,” says Maria Afsar, a 25-year-old gamer.
“I immediately thought it was so cool when read her background was like mine, being Pakistani, Muslim and a girl.
“When I saw the announcement she is going to be in the game and one of the main characters, I just thought I’ve literally been waiting for something like this my whole life. I saw nothing like this when I was younger.”
The Chairs of CoNZealand are pleased to be able to offer a Membership upgrade initiative to support inclusion of colonised, marginalised and historically underrepresented people in at Worldcon.
With the pandemic affecting job security, the financial ability to participate in conventions and the fan community is becoming increasingly difficult for many fans.
Marginalised communities are overrepresented in the group suffering the greatest fallout from this pandemic, and as such, we want to ensure that our community does not suffer a loss of its hard-won diversity. We want to lower the barriers for participation for those from underrepresented communities.
…The initiative upgrades eligible members from supporting to attending memberships. There Is no requirement for the supporting membership to be purchased before grantees are notified.
Eligible members who are already fully paid, but would like some income relief are also invited to apply.
In return, we ask that successful applicants willingly participate in our community. Whether that be through programme, art show, or volunteering is up to the individual and how they enjoy participating in this community.
Grantees will be chosen by the chairs. As long as there is a good plan for participation, we expect to grant applications. The grantees will be notified as soon as practical, and we will continue to announce grantees at least weekly as long as upgrades last.
…Armies sacrificed for no obvious purpose and meaningless wars are not entirely unknown in speculative fiction. Here are five examples from that golden age of such stories, the Vietnam War era, and its literary aftermath.
(7) LIBERTARIAN FUTURIST SOCIETY AT NASFIC AND WORLDCON. The LFS told members about their plans to participate in two of the summer’s virtual sff cons.
Their scheduled presence at the Columbus 2020 North American Science Fiction Convention will migrate online with the rest of the virtual con. There will be a back-to-back Prometheus Awards ceremony and Prometheus-Awards-themed panel discussion, free and widely available to watch live.
Novelist F. Paul Wilson, previously confirmed by NASFiC as their and LFS’ Prometheus Awards Guest of Honor, will participate in the awards ceremony by presenting the Best Novel category, which Wilson was the first author to win in 1979. Wilson also will be a panelist in a “Visions of SF, Liberty, Human Rights: The Prometheus Awards Over Four Decades, from F. Paul Wilson and Robert Heinlein to Today”. So will Sarah Hoyt, the 2011 Prometheus Award Best Novel winner for Darkship Thieves, LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg and newspaper journalist Tom Jackson.
During CoNZeland’s virtual convention, LFS will put on a panel “Freedom in Science Fiction: Four Decades of the Prometheus Awards, From F. Paul Wilson and Robert Heinlein to Ursula LeGuin, Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow, Neal Stephenson and Today.” Tom Jackson will moderate, joined by F. Paul Wilson and others to be announced. The Worldcon online program will initially be accessible that weekend for viewing only by registered Worldcon members.
When mainstream authors like Eric Flint complain that the science fiction establishment, and its gatekeeper the Hugo Awards, has “drift[ed] away from the opinions and tastes of… mass audience[s],” prioritizing progressive messaging over plot development, the response from the Left is uniform: Science fiction is by its very nature progressive. It’s baked into the cake, they say. This is a superficially plausible claim. With its focus on the future, its embrace of the unfamiliar and other-worldly, and its openness to alternative ways of living, it is hard to see how the genre could be anything but progressive. In fact, studies indicate that interest in SF books and movies is strongly correlated with a Big Five personality trait called openness to experience, which psychologists say is highly predictive of liberal values.
But openness to experience also correlates with libertarianism and libertarian themes and ideas have exercised far greater influence than progressivism over SF since the genre’s inception. From conservatarian voices like Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, Vernor Vinge, Poul Anderson, and F. Paul Wilson to those of a more flexible classical liberal bent like Ray Bradbury, David Brin, Charles Stross, Ken McLeod, and Terry Pratchett, libertarian-leaning authors have had an outsized, lasting influence on the field. So much so that The Encyclopedia of Science Fictionhas deemed “Libertarian SF” its own stand alone “branch,” admitting that “many of libertarianism’s most influential texts have been by SF writers.”
…Although he began his career as a utopian socialist working for Upton Sinclair’s 1934 gubernatorial campaign, Heinlein underwent a political transformation and became known for the rest of his career as a libertarian “guru” of sorts. Scott Timberg at the LA Timesdescribes him as a “nudist with a military-hardware fetish” who “dominated the pulps… and became the first science fictionist to land on the New York Times bestseller list.” A four-time Hugo Award winner, Heinlein is credited with helping to elevate SF from its ray-blaster and tentacled space-monster phase to a more serious, respectable prominence, penning such classics as Stranger in a Strange Land and, Milton Friedman’s favorite, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a book that reads like an anarcho-capitalist blueprint for revolutionary uprising. Friedman even named his 1975 public policy book after the novel’s slogan TANSTAAFL (“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”).
…Perhaps this is why so much of SF expresses itself as dystopian fiction, a genre which, by its very nature, cannot but take on a libertarian flavor. Totalitarianism, war, and wide-scale oppression is almost always carried out by state force. Liberation, accordingly, must come in the form of negative rights—that is, “freedom from”—and voluntarism: “[I]n writing your constitution,” Professor de la Paz instructs, “let me invite attention to the wonderful virtues of the negative! Accentuate the negative! Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do.”
There is some controversy as to whether World UFO Day falls on June 26 or July 02 with people seemingly celebrating it on both days. The occasion is an awareness day for UFOs coinciding with the Roswell incident’s anniversary. It is getting increasingly popular as UFOs have been making headlines again lately, notably due to the “Storm Area 51” event which went viral last year. That’s on top of The New York Times running an interesting article about several U.S. Navy fighter pilots encountering mysterious objects near the southeastern coast of the United States. The high-profile story remains unexplained and so do plenty of other UFO sightings reported by members of the public every year like strange lights crossing the night sky or orange disks hovering in the distance.
The National UFO Reporting Center which is based in the U.S. maintains statistics about global UFO sightings. Notably, they are ticking up again….
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 2, 1877 – Hermann Hesse. You’ll expect me to celebrate The Glass Bead Game (also published as Magister Ludi), and I do, subtle, profound, satirical, moving, the first Nobel Prize SF novel, to my surprise and delight reaching the Retrospective Hugo ballot. Other books of his in or near SF and more in line with the Hesse fad are Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, Journey to the East. (Died 1962) [JH]
Born July 2, 1908 — Rip Van Ronkel. Screenwriter who won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Millenium Philcon for Destination Moon. He also produced the earlier Destination Space movie for television, andwrote the screenplay for The Bamboo Saucer. (Died 1965.) (CE)
Born July 2, 1914 – Hannes Bok. Under this name (from Johann S. Bach) and in a short life he was one of our masters. First Hugo for Best Cover Artist, shared with Emsh (Ed Emshwiller). A hundred covers, his many monochromes maybe even better. See how well he could work when he wanted to do without his famous weirdness (he turned down hundreds of commissions he didn’t want): Lest Darkness Fall; the Nolacon I Program Book (9th Worldcon); F & SF under Davidson (yes, I know those are covers). Author too, novels, two dozen shorter stories, poems published posthumously as Spinner of Silver and Thistle. See Petaja’s biography and flights of angels, and Ned Brooks’ index. (Died 1964) [JH]
Born July 2, 1935 – Doug Hoylman, Ph.D. I hope I know when Our Gracious Host has done better than I can. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born July 2, 1946 – Arnie Katz, 74. He’s done much. Fundamentally a fanziner, he’s contributed to clubs and cons. I might not be luxuriating in APA-L (alas, this Fancy 3 article has not caught up with Fred Patten) if AK hadn’t been a forerunner with APA-F. He owes me a chicken dinner, but he’s quite fair about what I must do to collect. Anyway, I pray for his prosperity. And see here. [JH]
Born July 2, 1948 – Larry Tucker. How bodacious July 2nd has been for the birth of nearly unbelievable brothers (sisters too! it just happens I’ve come to another brother). This Titan took fanzines to video – took fanzines to video early on, while the tech was still truculent: Uncle Albert’s Video Fanzine (he had in mind this Uncle Albert; alas, I never asked if he also thought of, less directly or even less fairly, this one (but look who has the cigar). LT co-founded the Ann Arbor SF Ass’n and the SF Oral History Ass’n; he didn’t start, but always inspired, the Stilyagi Air Corps and the well-named ConFusion. The photo here is by Mark Olson; speaking of Leah Zeldes Smith (see no. 8 here), I’ve just recommended one of her stories. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born July 2, 1948 —Saul Rubinek, 72. Primarily of interest for being on Warehouse 13 as Artie Nielsen, though he does show rather often on genre series and films including Eureka, Masters of Horror, Person of Interest, Beauty & the Beast, Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Memory Run and Death Ship seem to be his only only genre films. His latest genre role is in For all Mankind as Rep. Charles Sandman in their “He Built the Saturn V“ episode. (CE)
Born July 2, 1949 — Craig Shaw Gardner, 71. Comic fantasy author whose work is, depending on your viewpoint, very good or very bad. For me, he’s always great. I adore his Ballad of Wuntvor sequence and highly recommend all three novels, A Difficulty with Dwarves, An Excess of Enchantments and A Disagreement with Death. Likewise, his pun filled Arabian Nights sequence will either be to your liking or really not. I think it’s worth it just for Scheherazade’s Night Out. (CE)
Born July 2, 1950 –Stephen R. Lawhead, 70. I personally think that The Pendragon Cycle is by far his best work though the King Raven Trilogy with its revisionist take on Robin Hood is intriguing. And I read the first two of the Bright Empires series which are also very much worth reading. (CE)
Born July 2, 1956 — Kay Kenyon, 64. Writer of the truly awesome The Entire and the Rose series which I enjoyed immensely as a listening experience a few years back. I’ve not read his Dark Talents series, so opinions please. (CE)
Born July 2, 1962 – Laura Benedict, 58. Nine novels, a few shorter stories; anthologies. “You don’t look like a person who writes scary stories. I hear those words often and it makes me laugh every time.” She put them next to this photo for good reason. Three anthologies (with Pinckney Benedict, who – never mind, it’s not his birthday notice) are called Surreal South, for good reason. [JH]
Born July 2, 1970 — Yancy Butler, 50. Detective Sara Pezzini on the Witchblade series which would’ve been awesome with current CGI. She was later Avedon Hammond in Ravager, Captain Kate Roebuck in Doomsday Man, Angie D’Amico in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Reba in Lake Placid 3 and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, Officer Hart in Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (also known as Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel and the 420 Witch) (given the latter, a career low for her) and Alexis Hamilton in Death Race 2050. Series work other than Witchblade wasa recurring role as Sgt. Eve Edison in Mann & Machine inher first genre role. (CE)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Shoe answers a history quiz. Spectacularly wrongly.
Two Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.
(12) UMM, ROBOT LITMUS TEST? This line occurred recently in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson was trying to identify who on a bus might be a time-traveling robot from the future and he came out with this:
(13) THE MARCH OF FUR. Coming July 3, The Fandom is a feature length documentary about the furry community from its origins in sf and anime fandoms up to present day.
The Fandom explores the history of animation fans who brought anime to the western world in the 1970s, Disney animators who faced threats to their careers, sci-fi fans who started the first furry conventions, and why furries became early adopters of the 1980s internet. It contrasts that with the modern fandom covering how it became a haven for the LGBT community as well as a positive economic and artistic impact on major US cities.
…I keep an eye out for all media about furries, and often call the Furry 101 kind boring. The Fandom raises the bar by giving an intimate tour with quality and heart. It’s 95% positive celebration.
Documentaries can show more drama or criticism or bad sides than this really does. But how much negativity do you need in these times? Not to say that this documentary has no opinion — it’s strong advocacy.
The toastmaster wears many hats at worldcon, but probably the single biggest part of the gig is hosting the Hugo Awards ceremony. I am going to be doing that with a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded videos, which we will (I hope I pray) edit seamlessly together. This week I have started recording some of those videos. It has been fun, if a little surreal, to be reading off the names of this year’s Hugo finalists when voting has not actually started yet. And trying to be amusing (one hopes) while talking into a camera without the feedback of laughter (or moans, boos, or soul-chilling silence) from an actual audience is challenging as well. But so it goes.
…((And before anyone starts to panic, “oh my god he is making videos in place of writing,” OF COURSE I am still working on WINDS OF WINTER as well. That really should go without saying, yet somehow I need to say it, or someone might make stupid assumptions. I am also doing some editorial work on three new Wild Cards books, reading scripts and making notes on a couple of exciting Hollywood projects, texting with agents, editors, and friends about this and that, eating several meals a day, watching television, reading books, and from time to time using the toilet. Just because I do not mention it in every Not A Blog does not mean it is not happening)).
(15) BE YOUR OWN CTHULHU. This bit of Lovecraftian solipsism has been making the rounds:
Sam Maggs is no stranger to SYFY FANGRRLS. She’s got her hands in some of our absolute favorite properties of all time, from Spider-Man to Star Trek, and we’re so thankful she’s there to represent our, well, fangirling. But now, Maggs is back with something brand new on her plate: original fiction! Her debut novel Con Quest! came out just last week.
Con Quest! is a comics convention adventure for young readers about fandom, family, and finding your place in the world!
Cat and Alex are excited to be at the world’s most popular comics convention — and they’re even more excited to compete in the Quest, a huge scavenger hunt run by their favorite nerdy celebrity. The big prize: a chance to meet him!
(18) REALLY FAUX GAIMAN. “Neil Gaiman–Bad Gaiman Challenge–Wits” on YouTube is an excerpt from a 2014 episode of the public radio show Wits where Gaiman read the winners of the show’s “Bad Gaiman challenge.”
We asked you guys to submit their worst versions of a Neil Gaiman-style short story. Hundreds responded to the call. Here, read by Neil Gaiman himself, are the worst of the worst.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Jenifer Hawthorne, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]
The 2020 Prometheus Awards will be presented at Columbus NASFiC 2000 (the North American Science Fiction Convention) to be held Augus 20-23 in Columbus, Ohio, pandemic permitting. The Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin.
Here are the five Best Novel finalists, listed in alphabetical order by author:
The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (Random House: Nan A. Talese):
In this long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (a 1987 Prometheus Award finalist), oppressed women and others struggle valiantly for freedom. Some face mortal risks undermining the Gilead dictatorship, struggling with thorny moral complexities and working within the halls of power while taking covert steps to subvert tyranny. Poignantly and with sly humor, Atwood weaves three narrative threads exploring enduring questions about liberty, power, responsibility, and resistance. An “Underground Femaleroad” network (much like 19th-century libertarian Abolitionists) smuggles women into Canada while intelligence provided to the wider world’s free press promotes re-establishment of a free United States. Atwood references the “eternal verities” about “life, liberty, democracy, and the rights of the individual” that remain at the heart of libertarian ideals.
Alliance Rising, by C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher (DAW)
Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Rising Universe (before her novel Downbelow Station),this interstellar saga of technological upheaval, intrigue and romance explores the early days of the Merchanter Alliance. Independent spaceship families ally during complex, multisided political-economic rivalries to defend established rights and promote the common good through free trade. In one of the better fictional treatments of a complex economy, characters maneuver to prevent statist regimes from dominating space lanes, resist Earth’s centralized governance, and investigate the mysterious purpose of a ship, The Rights of Man, undergoing construction on an isolated space station. Classic libertarian themes emerge about what rights are and where they come from (often to resolve conflicts), and how commerce and property rights promote peace and prosperity as humanity spreads among the stars.
Ruin’s Wake, by Patrick Edwards (Titan Books)
This dystopian debut novel, set within a totalitarian world that emerged from catastrophe 500 years ago, weaves narrative threads from different sympathetic characters fighting for identity, love, and revenge amid repression. A young woman finds hope in an illicit love affair with a subversive rebel while trapped in an abusive marriage with a government official. An exiled old soldier searches desperately for his dying son, and a female scientist-archeologist discovers a mysterious technology that exposes the vulnerability of her world. A dictatorial government threatens their pursuit of happiness, knowledge, and family in a world recovering from ruin. This state has erased history and individual identity – a plausible scenario modeled by the author to evoke parallels to Stalinist Russia and today’s communist North Korea.
Luna: Moon Rising, by Ian McDonald (TOR Books)
In the sequel to the Prometheus-nominated novels Luna: New Moon and Luna: Wolf Moon, McDonald dramatizes the struggle for independence and sovereignty as feuding lunar factions unite against a threat from Earth. The trilogy’s thrilling finale builds on McDonald’s intricate future of moon colonization, buoyed by somewhat free markets marred by violence, corporate espionage, and political marriages as the Five Dragons family dynasties control the main lunar industrial companies. Characters empowered by personal freedom and individual/social achievement in a society where contracts with others define people. Rendering a more positive view of a free society than earlier novels, McDonald offers justifications for freedom and markets while showing more negative aspects of politics and human behavior dealt with by people addressing inevitable problems in more voluntary ways.
Ode to Defiance, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing)
The forces of enlightenment, science, liberty, and truth battle factions of statism, bureaucracy, ignorance, superstition, and deception in this lighthearted, explicitly libertarian and occasionally satirical sci-fi/adventure novel, set in Stiegler’s BrainTrust Universe. To escape a United States impoverished by socialist bureaucracy, people live and work on innovative technology on a BrainTrust fleet of independent seastead ships. The story explores how a libertarian society can work and engage with rivals without violence and, ultimately, in peaceful co-existence (though some opponents receive the sharp end of the BrainTrust’s characteristically pointed violence.) This world-encompassing sequel to Stiegler’s Prometheus-nominated Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest explores bio-engineered diseases and biological warfare – especially timely during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. LFS members also nominated these 2019 works for this year’s Best Novel category: They Will Drown in Their Mother’s Tears, by Johannes Anyuru (Two Lines Press); Monster Hunter Guardian, by Larry Correia and Sarah H. Hoyt (Baen Books); The Good Luck Girls, by Charlotte Nicole Davis (TOR Teen); Empire of Lies, by Raymond Khoury (Forge Books/TOR); The Year of Jublio!, by Joseph T. Major (Amazon); Atlas Alone, by Emma Newman (ACE Books/Penguin Group); and Stealing Worlds, by Karl Schroeder (TOR Books).
The Prometheus Awards, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.
A 12-person judging committee selects the Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel. Following the selection of finalists, all LFS upper-level members (Benefactors, Sponsors, and Full members) have the right to read and vote on the Best Novel finalist slate to choose the annual winner.
The LFS says these are the kinds of work recognized by the Prometheus Award –
For close to four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor cooperation over coercion, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, mutual respect and civilization itself.
For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit www.lfs.org.
The five 2020 finalists for the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction have been released by the Libertarian Futurist Society judging committee:
“Sam Hall,” a 1953
novelette by Poul Anderson
“As Easy as A.B.C.,” a
1912 novelette by Rudyard Kipling
“The Trees,” a 1978
song by the Canadian rock group Rush (recorded as part of the group’s 1978
A Time of Changes, a 1971 novel by Robert
“Lipidleggin,” a 1979
short story by F. Paul Wilson
LFS members will receive a Prometheus Awards ballot in May.
The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Awards ceremony will be a centerpiece of the 2020 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) scheduled for August 20-23 in Columbus, OH.
LFS and NASFiC also are cooperating to bring in F. Paul Wilson (An Enemy of the State, Wheels within Wheels, Sims, the Repairman Jack series, etc.), one of only four LFS Special Prometheus Award-winners for Lifetime Achievement, as a joint guest of honor.
…What has changed in the last few months? As far as I know, nothing. The award given not even in her own name, but in the name of her pseudonym, celebrates work of imaginative fiction exploring the territory she made her own over her twenty-years long writing career. She explored it more deeply, searchingly, critically and imaginatively than anyone before her had ever come close to doing, and her work remains startlingly fresh, moving, and thoughtful. We owe it to her to celebrate her heritage, not to obliterate it. Her death, as that of her husband, was a tragedy, but not by any reasonable standard an erasure of her life or her literary heritage.
Here is the acceptance speech by Travis Corcoran for 2019 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Causes of Separation. (Corcoran could not attend the Dublin Worldcon but wrote this acceptance speech to be read there at the ceremony.)
…Chapman’s essay and Pournelle’s and Conquest’s laws are three observations of a single underlying phenomena: the collectivists always worm their way in and take over. We know THAT this happens, but WHY does it happen? How can we model it and understand it?
China’s Chang’e-4 lunar rover has discovered an unusually colored, ‘gel-like’ substance during its exploration activities on the far side of the moon.
The mission’s rover, Yutu-2, stumbled on that surprise during lunar day 8. The discovery prompted scientists on the mission to postpone other driving plans for the rover, and instead focus its instruments on trying to figure out what the strange material is.
…So far, mission scientists haven’t offered any indication as to the nature of the colored substance and have said only that it is “gel-like” and has an “unusual color.” One possible explanation, outside researchers suggested, is that the substance is melt glass created from meteorites striking the surface of the moon.
A few years ago I reviewed Iraq + 100, a project which invited its contributors to write stories set 100 years in Iraq’s future. It was conceived as an imaginative springboard for Iraqi writers to potentially launch themselves beyond the enduring trauma of waves of invasion and devastation — but because science fiction stories set in the future are always in some way about our present, the collection became a multi-voiced testament to the fact that you can’t project a future without first reckoning with the past.
Comma Press has followed that collection up with Palestine + 100, an anthology edited by Basma Ghalayini in which twelve Palestinian authors write stories set 100 years after the Nakba — Arabic for “catastrophe” — during which, as Ghalayini writes in her moving, thoughtful introduction, “Israel declared itself a new-born state on the rubble of Palestinian lives.” Thus where Iraq + 100 looked towards the year 2103, the stories in Palestine + 100 look towards 2048, and the bulk of the work isn’t about extrapolating a future so much as recognizing, fighting, and establishing narratives about the past. The choice of subtitle — “stories from a century after the Nakba” — exemplifies this, drawing attention to the fact that for Palestinians (and many Israelis), May 15, 1948 is not a date to celebrate, but to grieve.
In Palestine + 100, memory and imagination are contested territories. Samir El-Youssef’s “The Association,” translated by Raph Cormack, kicks off with the murder of a historian; the narrator observes that “Since the 2028 Agreement, the people of the country — all the different sects and religions, Muslim, Christian and Jewish — had decided that forgetting was the best way to live in peace.” In Saleem Haddad’s “Song of the Birds,” a young girl lives in a beautiful simulation haunted by the vicious, broken reality it obscures. In Ahmed Masoud’s “Application 39,” two young men imagine a Palestinian bid for the Olympics as a joke — and find themselves in the tormented midst of trying to make that a reality, with all the consequences it entails. In Tasnim Abutabikh’s “Vengeance” the plot is evenly divided between one man’s elaborate pursuit of revenge against a neighbor he thinks has wronged him — and that neighbor’s heartbroken revelation that the man had the past all wrong. In almost all these stories there is a doubled, troubled vision, that never resolves so much as it fractures further.
OBIT. Melisa Michaels (1946-2019) died
August 30 of complications amid efforts to treat her lung cancer. (Condolences
to filer Xtifr, her nephew.)
was known for her series about Skyrider, a woman space combat pilot. She also
wrote urban fantasies including “Sister to the Rain” and “Cold Iron.” Her novel Skirmish was nominated for
a Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1986. SFWA presented her with a Service Award in
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 31, 1914 — Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984)
Born August 31, 1933 — Robert Adams. He’s best remembered for the Horseclans series which became his overall best-known works though he wrote other works. While he never completed the series, he wrote 18 novels in the Horseclans series before his death. (Died 1990.)
Born August 31, 1949 — Richard Gere, 70. Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur. And was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honours!
Born August 31, 1958 — Julie Brown, 61. Starred with Geena Davis in the cult SF comedy, Earth Girls Are Easy. She’s actually been in genre films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Bloody Birthday (a slasher film), Timebomb and Wakko’s Wish. She’s had one-offs in TV’s Quantum Leap and The Addams Family. She’s voiced a lot of animated characters included a memorable run doing the ever so sexy Minerva Mink on The Animaniacs. She reprised that role on Pinky and The Brain under the odd character name of Danette Spoonabello Minerva Mink.
Born August 31, 1969 — Jonathan LaPaglia, 50. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favourite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history.
Born August 31, 1971 — Chris Tucker, 48. The way over the top Ruby Rhod in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, a film I really, really like. His only other genre credit is as a MC in the Hall in The Meteor Man.
Born August 31, 1982 — G. Willow Wilson, 37. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite the read. The only thing I’ve by her that I’ve not quite liked is her World Fantasy Award winning Alif the Unseen novel. I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story but will soon.
Born August 31, 1992 — Holly Earl, 27. She’s been in a number of British genre shows such as playing Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Agnes in Humans, and yes, Doctor Who in the “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, an Eleventh Doctor story in she was Lily Arwell.
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro lives up to its name with this idea about collaborative effort.
(8) ONE TO BEAM UP. Camestros Felapton’s incredible “tweetfilk”
of Star Trek and Bowie, featuring science officer Ziggy!! Thread starts here.
Critics are raving for Warner Bros. latest comic book installment.
Todd Phillip’s “Joker” opened Saturday at the Venice Film Festival to effervescent reviews, with many critics highlighting an Oscar-worthy appearance from star Joaquin Phoenix. Variety‘s own Owen Gleiberman praised Phoenix’s performance, emphasizing his physical acting and emotional control:
“He appears to have lost weight for the role, so that his ribs and shoulder blades protrude, and the leanness burns his face down to its expressive essence: black eyebrows, sallow cheeks sunk in gloom, a mouth so rubbery it seems to be snarking at the very notion of expression, all set off by a greasy mop of hair,” he wrote. “Phoenix is playing a geek with an unhinged mind, yet he’s so controlled that he’s mesmerizing. He stays true to the desperate logic of Arthur’s unhappiness.”
Timothy Koeth’s office is crammed with radioactive relics – old watches with glowing radium dials, pieces of melted glass from beneath the test of the world’s first nuclear weapon.
But there is one artifact that stands apart from the rest: a dense, charcoal-black cube, two-inches on a side. The cube is made of pure uranium metal. It was forged more than 70 years ago by the Nazis, and it tells the little-known story of Germany’s nuclear efforts during World War II.
“From a historical perspective this cube weighs a lot more than five pounds,” Koeth, a physicist at the University of Maryland, says as he holds it in his hand.
…At the time of Hitler’s rise, Germany was actually at the cutting edge of nuclear technology. “Nuclear fission was discovered in Berlin in late 1938,” says Alex Wellerstein is a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. “They were the first team of people who figured out how to split the atom, and figured out that when you split the atom, a lot of energy was going to be released.”
That basic idea of splitting atoms to release energy is what’s at the heart of all of today’s nuclear power plants and all the world’s nuclear weapons.
But back during World War II, it was all theoretical. To find out how it could work, the Germans devised strange looking experiment. Scientists strung together 664 cubes of uranium with aircraft cables and suspended them. The result looked “kind of like a very strange modernist chandelier of cubes,” Wellerstein says.
The chandelier was dipped into a cylindrical tank of heavy water, which contains special isotopes of hydrogen that make it more conducive to nuclear reactions.
The setup was known as the B-VIII reactor. The Germans were experimenting with it inside a cave in the southern town of Haigerloch. They were still trying to get it to work when the allied invasion began. As Allied forces approached, the German scientists disassembled the reactor and buried the cubes in a field.
The first wave of Allied troops to arrive included a task force known as Alsos, which was seeking to seize as much of the Nazi program as they could.
The Nazi scientists quickly disclosed the location of the buried cubes to the Allies, Wellerstein says. The Alsos team boxed up the cubes, to send them back to America, but what happened after that is not entirely clear.
There’s an astonishing outpouring of new information linking genes and health, thanks to the efforts of humble Englishmen and women such as Chritopeher Fletcher. The 70-year-old man recently drove 90 miles from his home in Nottingham to a radiology clinic outside the city of Manchester.
He is one of half a million Brits who have donated time, blood and access to their medical records to a remarkable resource called UK Biobank. The biobank, in turn, has become a resource for more than a thousand scientists around the world who are interested in delving into the link between genes, behaviors and health.
Popularity of the resource is snowballing. Just this week, a major study using the data explored the genetics of same-sex sexual behavior. And as researchers discover the biobank’s value, there’s a strong incentive to add to the database to make it even richer.
…What makes UK Biobank valuable is not only the half-million volunteers, whose health will be followed for decades, but also its community-spirited scientific strategy. Chief scientist Dr. Cathie Sudlow says the organizers, in a break from their usual ways, aren’t out to answer their own scientific questions, but to serve their colleagues.
“I’ll freely admit that when I first started out in the biobank I couldn’t really believe that we were all going to work really hard to make data available for other people,” she says. “And that is because I came from this traditional, kind of slightly paranoid, somewhat territorial, academic background.”
The scramble for research funds creates competitive incentives in much of academic science today. This biobank is different.
Best Science Fiction Novel:A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad Torgersen is a plausible winner. If it does then we can assume other works in the Brad Puppies list got lots of votes. I think Tiamat’s Wrath is a likely winner given the popularity of The Expanse TV series and the Dragon Con audience. However, Becky Chambers has a wide and devoted set of fans and I wouldn’t be astonished if Record of a Spaceborn Few won. If any of the others won, that would be interesting but I don’t know what it would mean.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin
Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
Prometheus Award-winning author Brad Linaweaver died August 29 after a long battle with cancer. He would have been 67 on Sunday.
I met Brad long ago through other Libertarian fans and knew about his good sense of humor – he attended the satirical Hogu Ranquets organized at Worldcons by Elst Weinstein and John Novak. His goal was a pro writing career and he made his mark with some noteworthy sff.
The novella version of his novel Moon of Ice was a Nebula Award finalist (1983) and the novel length version won a Prometheus Award (1989). Linaweaver shared a second Prometheus Award (1998) with Ed Kramer for co-editing Free Space, a libertarian science fiction anthology from TOR books. His novels Anarquia with J. Kent Hastings, and Sliders (based on the television series) were also Prometheus nominees.
Linaweaver’s other novels include The Land Beyond Summer, four Doom novels with Dafydd ab Hugh, and three Battlestar Galactica novels with actor Richard Hatch.
He had original story credits on
a number of films, including The Brain Leeches and Jack-O for Fred Olen Ray.
He was proud to add, in the bio he sent me when I ran program at the 2000 Loscon, “Besides playing a werewolf in the upcoming Vampire Hunters Club, his media credits include story adaptations for radio, and cameo appearances in almost a dozen feature films, including Attack of the Sixty Foot Centerfold. Brad even did a scene with Kato Kaelin before he because America’s most famous houseguest (Kato, not Brad).” Kaelin was a witness in the OJ Simpson trial (1995).
His nonfiction appeared in National
Review, Chronicles, Reason, The Agorist Quarterly,and Famous Monsters of
In 2004, he co-authored Worlds of Tomorrow with Forrest J
Ackerman, a hardcover coffee table book that spotlights science fiction cover
art from the Golden Age.
was the publisher of Mondo Cult Magazine and its associated website, edited
by Jessie Lilley Campbell.
One of Linaweaver’s proudest possessions was a
small brass cannon once owned by Robert and Virginia Heinlein. For nearly 30
years they fired it every July 4 at the Heinlein residence. Virginia bequeathed
to Linaweaver when she died in 2003. He restored it and in 2007 made a video of
it being fired several times (with very small charges). (Cannon discharges begin