By Colleen McMahon: E. Everett Evans (1893-1958) is one of those names
I had never heard of before getting involved with Librivox. Based in the Los
Angeles area, he was a long-time science fiction fan and minor author with a
handful of short stories and novels to his name.
I stumbled onto him because one of Librivox’s current recording projects is The Planet Mappers, a YA novel from 1955. In this story, a family of space explorers (mom, dad and two teenage sons) are out in the galaxy attempting to independently map and explore a newly discovered solar system. Dad has taken loans to finance the expedition, so failure is potentially ruinous. Unfortunately, he takes a bad fall on the journey and his injuries put him out of commission. The two boys have to take the lead and complete their mission (Mom, of course, isn’t much use for anything but worrying and making hot meals).
The bits that I skimmed made me curious about Evans’ other public domain books available through Project Gutenberg. It turns out that there are three other novels. Man of Many Minds and Alien Minds star the same protagonist, a psychic secret agent taking part in interplanetary intrigue for the unfortunately-abbreviated S.S. (Secret Service!).
Masters of Spaceis probably Evan’s best known book, as it was co-written with E.E. “Doc” Smith. Masters of Space is the only Evans book available through Librivox, but The Planet Mappers should wrap up in the next couple of months.
writing career only spanned the last decade or so of his life, but he was
well-established in fandom through that period. After his death in 1958,
Forrest J. Ackerman established the Big Heart award in Evans’ memory. The award
is given annually at Worldcon to a fan who “embodies ‘good work and great
spirit long contributed’” according to the Fancyclopedia website. Over the years the Big
Heart award has been renamed twice, in 2006 in memory of Ackerman and in 2018
in memory of David A. Kyle.
it’s an award for fans rather than authors or SFF “celebrities”, there are some
well-known names on the list of recipients over the years, including Robert
Bloch, Bjo Trimble, and Julius Schwartz. And of course, our own Mike Glyer was
recognized with the award in 2018!
fun fact I discovered while reading up on Mr. Evans: based on his initials, his
nickname was Triple-E, or Tripoli. It speaks to my nerdiness that I think that
is pretty cool.
recent birthday celebrants:
John Russell Fearn (1908-1960) was a British pulp writer who was one of the first to
cross over to U.S. publications. He wrote under his own name and various
pseudonyms. Most of his stories appeared between the late 1930s and mid 1950s.
Unfortunately, Project Gutenberg does not have any of his works, but The Faded
Page, based in Canada, has several of
available through its site. As they note, public domain status outside of
Canada is not confirmed. Internet Archive’s Pulp Magazine Archive also has several
magazines containing Fearn’s writings, but again, public domain status is uncertain. It’s worth a click
just to take a peek at the insanely awesome cover art in this selection,
(1915-1980) has one novel and six stories available on Project Gutenberg:
Simon’s new source of power promised a new era for Mankind. But what
happens to world economy when anyone can manufacture it in the kitchen
oven?… Here’s one answer!
Fairy Tales by William
Elliot Griffis (1843-1928)
Everywhere on earth the fairy world of each country is older and perhaps
more enduring than the one we see and feel and tread upon. So I tell in
this book the folk lore of the Korean people, and of the behavior of the
particular kind of fairies that inhabit the Land of Morning Splendor.
An accident during a polar expedition leads the crew of the Polar King
to the discovery of an entire world within the earth. Within the interior
realm lies a vast ocean with continents and civilisations unknown to the
outside world. The societies within possess new technologies and magics
unknown to the outside world and these are lovingly described in great
detail by the author. The crew proceed to explore and in true Victorian
fashion then conquer the new world. An extraordinary feat of imagination
and inventiveness by this obscure author.
By Colleen McMahon: I recently saw Tolkien, a fictionalized telling of the
early life of that author. I enjoyed the movie, which was pretty standard
biopic fare. It hits all the tropes — childhood trauma, close friends,
inspiring mentors, war experiences, and young love, ending just as he began
writing his most famous works.
heart of the story is the friendship between Tolkien and four school friends,
one of whom is Geoffrey Bache Smith. Smith was at Oxford with Tolkien, and both
left the university to serve in the Great War. Smith died at the Somme in 1916.
After the war, Tolkien worked with Smith’s mother to publish a book of his
poetry. He also wrote the introduction to the book.
at Kalimac’s Corner wrote a post with more
information about Smith, the book’s publication, and Smith’s actual poems, including
some details that the movie changed for narrative purposes:
If you’ve seen the new bio-pic Tolkien, you’ll have noticed a fair amount of attention devoted to the poetry of Tolkien’s friend Geoffrey Bache Smith, one of his school fellowship the T.C.B.S., who died on duty in World War I in December 1916. There’s a scene in which Tolkien tries to persuade Smith’s mother to allow a collection of his poems to be published.
In fact, Mrs. Smith initiated the idea of the collection, asking Tolkien to gather up any poems of her son’s that he had copies of, and the book was actually published, with a brief introduction by Tolkien, in June 1918.
had mentioned this here several months ago when I wrote about public domain
Tolkien works, but as the film has raised interest in Smith and his poetry, I
thought I’d mention it again. If you are curious about it, A Spring Harvest
by Geoffrey Bache Smith (1894-1916) is on Project Gutenberg here.
The sunny streets of Oxford Are lying still and bare. No sound of voice or laughter Rings through the golden air; And, chiming from her belfry, No longer Christchurch calls The eager, boyish faces To gather in her halls.
The colleges are empty. Only the sun and wind Make merry in the places The lads have left behind. But, when the trooping shadows Have put the day to flight, The Gentlemen of Oxford Come homing through the night.
From France they come, and Flanders, From Mons, and Marne and Aisne. From Greece and from Gallipoli They come to her again; From the North Sea’s grey waters, From many a grave unknown, The Gentlemen of Oxford Come back to claim their own.
The dark is full of laughter, Boy laughter, glad and young. They tell the old-time stories, The old-time songs are sung; They linger in her cloisters, They throng her dewy meads, Till Isis hears their calling And laughs among her reeds.
But, when the east is whitening To greet the rising sun, And slowly, over Carfax, The stars fade, one by one, Then, when the dawn-wind whispers Along the Isis shore, The Gentlemen of Oxford Must seek their graves once more.
to more firmly genre material, several authors with recent birthdays turn up on
Project Gutenberg. Ed Earl Repp (1901-1979) has one story, “The Day Time Stopped Moving”, originally published in Amazing
Stories in 1940. It’s been recorded twice for Librivox.
D. Hornig (1916-1999)
published a zine in the 1930s called Fantasy Fan. As Cat Eldridge wrote
in the birthday feature recently, Fantasy Fan included
…first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.
Gutenberg has 8 issues of
Fantasy Fan from 1933-34. As far as I can tell, no one has recorded anything from these
yet, but it might be a fun project to put together a set of dramatic readings
from the angry letters columns — I’ll add it to my ever-growing list of
“Librivox projects I want to get around to one day”!
This is a short booklet on science fact commissioned by the U. S. Energy Research and Development Administration (Office of Public Affairs). It tells the story of the origins of nuclear physics in terms understandable to an audience with minimal technical background. What were the steps through history – the discoveries that built upon one another – from alchemy to chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and quantum mechanics, that led to our understanding and harnessing nuclear energy? Asimov was a great writer of both science fact and fiction who wrote or edited more than 500 books, published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.
A collection of twenty stories featuring ghoulies, ghosties, long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. Expect shivers up your spine, the stench of human flesh, and the occasional touch of wonder. You may also feel more jumpy tonight than usual. This collection has a LOT of H.P. Lovecraft, plus some Poe, M.R. James, and some more obscure authors.
By Colleen McMahon: Serendipity strikes again…I started this edition thinking that I
didn’t have any feature topic that I wanted to write about, so I would instead
just do a roundup of a bunch of authors whose birthdays I missed in April.
up was Stanley G. Weinbaum (1902-1935), who, it turns out, is an author
who made an enormous impact on the science fiction field in a tragically short
life. Reading about Weinbaum was so interesting that he immediately took over
and became the feature topic!
Weinbaum was born in 1902 and died of lung cancer just 33 years later, publishing
only a handful of short stories (and one pseudonymous romance novel) in his
lifetime. But his few stories formed an important basis for the full
development of the science fiction genre.
very first science fiction tale, “A Martian Odyssey”, appeared in Wonder
Stories in 1934, and set a new standard for stories that to this point had
existed on the far (and often nonsensical) fringe of adventure fiction. The
story tells of the encounter between astronauts exploring Mars and an
intelligent alien. They gradually learn to communicate with “Tweel” who then
accompanies the explorers and helps explain several other Martian life forms
“A Martian Odyssey” includes some typical-for-the-time encounters with
dangerous aliens, complete with chases and hairsbreadth escapes, the real
excitement of the plot revolves around the trial-and-error process of the
humans and Martian figuring out how to communicate and understand the
information Tweel is providing about the other species on Mars.
Asimov saw “A Martian Odyssey” as a turning point for science fiction, one that
changed the parameters of the field for the writers who came after. He called
a perfect Campbellian science fiction story, before John W. Campbell. Indeed, Tweel may be the first creature in science fiction to fulfil Campbell’s dictum, ‘write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man’. (from Asimov on Science Fiction, via Wikipedia).
Weinbaum’s stories immediately stood out as different. His characters felt real and acted realistically. There was romance, but the women did not exist only as objects to be captured and/or rescued. The science was rooted in the latest developments, and thoughtfully applied. And most of all, the aliens were not simply bug-eyed monsters existing to invade the planet or threaten humanity. They felt real in the same way the human characters did—and yet seemed anything but human in the way they thought and acted.
In Weinbaum’s hands, a genre that was known for immaturity had grown up, but in a way that didn’t sacrifice any of the humor, fun, and adventure. You could read the stories for the sense of thrilling adventure alone, but those who wanted more found that as well.
Weinbaum published thirteen stories in Wonder Stories and Astounding between July 1934 and December 1935, and several more appeared posthumously over the next few years. His impact on the genre was recognized by writers and fans alike, as “A Martian Odyssey” was overwhelmingly voted into the first Science Fiction Hall of Fame collection. He was recognized with the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2008.
Gutenberg has seven works by Weinbaum, six short stories and a
Tarzan’s amazing ability to establish kinship with some of the most dangerous animals in the jungle serves him well in this exciting story of his adventures with the Golden Lion, Jad-bal-ja, when the great and lordly animal becomes his ally and protector. Tarzan learns from the High Priestess, La, of a country north of Opar which is held in dread by the Oparians. It is peopled by a strange race of gorilla-men with the intelligence of humans and the strength of gorillas. From time to time they attack Opar, carrying off prisoners for use as slaves in the jewel-studded Temple where they worship a great black-maned lion. Accompanied by the faithful Jad-bal-ja, Tarzan invades the dread country in an attempt to win freedom for the hundreds of people held in slavery there…
The story of The Year When Stardust Fell is not a story of the distant future or of the remote past. It is not a story of a never-never land where fantastic happenings take place daily. It is a story of my town and yours, of people like you and me and the mayor in townhall, his sheriff on the corner, and the professor in the university—a story that happens no later than tomorrow. It is the portrayal of the unending conflict between ignorance and superstition on one hand, and knowledge and cultural enlightenment on the other as they come into conflict with each other during an unprecedented disaster brought on by the forces of nature.
In most ideally conceived Utopias the world as it exists is depicted as a mushrooming horror of maladjustment, cruelty and crime. In this startlingly original short novel that basic premise is granted, but only to pave the way for an approach to Utopia over a highway of the mind so daringly unusual we predict you’ll forget completely that you’re embarking on a fictional excursion into the future by one of the most gifted writers in the field. And that forgetfulness will be accompanied by the startling realization that Irving E. Cox has a great deal more than a storyteller’s magic to impart.
By Colleen McMahon: I have two things to share today
that are a bit afield from my usual areas, but both will lead you to internet
rabbit holes that are a lot of fun to explore.
The first is involves
gaming, and I was led to it by an email from Jason Corley, forwarded to me by
While participating in the #1923GameJam at itch.io to celebrate the expansion of the public domain, I discovered an unproduced science fiction silent film screenplay by Nobel laureate Romaine Rolland, Man, Lord of Machinery, published in Vanity Fair in 1923. I adapted it into an interactive fiction game for the jam and people can play it for free in a browser here:
They can also download a PDF version of the original publication there too.
Man, Lord of Machinery has a lot of the same themes as Metropolis, but predates it!
“Gaming Like It’s 1923”
was a contest/challenge that ran in January, 2019. The challenge was to design
a game in some way inspired by a 1923 work that had just entered the public
domain. You can find the site for the completed game jam, with all 34 games and
a list of the winners, here.
The second is a treasure
trove of images at the Magazine Art
the Internet Archive. This collection was started pretty recently, in December
2018, and it’s unclear if it has been uploaded in its entirety or if there is
more to come. It currently contains over 15,000 images, mostly magazine covers
but also including some advertising and interior illustrations from magazines.
Only some of it is SFF
related, and it’s likely that not all of it is in the public domain, as it
contains pieces from well beyond 1923, but it’s a feast of eye candy and fun to
If you have spent any time
exploring fannish things, especially pre-internet, you have probably heard of
APAs, self-published small magazines that circulated among fans. APA stands for
Amateur Press Association, and it turns out that SF-related APAs are a subset
of a wider phenomenon that began in the latter 19th-century and embraced
“amateur journalism” around a wide variety of topics.
The United Amateur Press
Association was founded in 1895, and H.P. Lovecraft became heavily involved
with the organization beginning in the 1910s. He published nonfiction essays
and critical pieces as well as early short stories in the United Amateur, the
organization’s official magazine.
Writings in the United Amateur, 1915-1922 collects these early Lovecraft
pieces. Lovecraft continued writing and publishing with the UAPA well past
1922, but the later pieces are not in the public domain. There are commercially
published books that collect all of the pieces, but this collection provides a
good sampling of his developing fiction style as well as his eccentric (and
sometimes offensive) opinions.
While the United Amateur
writings have not been recorded for Librivox, virtually all of his other public
domain works have been, most multiple times. You can find them here.
Both are also available as
audiobooks at Librivox.
volunteers at Librivox declare a month to focus on finishing off languishing
projects, and March was one of those months. The “March Toward the Finish Line”
ended with an impressive 122 books added to the catalog, including some that
may be of interest to folks here:
Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. It introduced Count Dracula, and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and a woman led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Laura grew up on a castle in the Austrian mountains with her father, slightly lonely as there are no potential companions around. Her loneliness is at an end when a carriage accindent close by their castle brings a mysterious visitor: Carmilla was injured in the accident, and remains at the castle to heal. But there is something dark about Carmilla. Is Laura in danger?
Cenydd Morus’s (Kenneth Morris) imaginative retelling of tales from the Mabinogion, the great work of Welsh literature first recorded in the 12th-13th century. Written while he was working for the Theosophical Society in California, Morris’s version restores the Gods that he believed had disappeared from the written record but must have been present in the oral tradition of the Druid bards.
Wilbur Hawkes wakes with no memory of the last seven months. He knows he’s in danger, but he doesn’t know why. No sooner does he leave his apartment than it explodes in flames, and, to escape, he must run through New York, not knowing where to run, or who he is running from. With heat rays, disintegrating men, and exploding cats, how can this not involve aliens? What other explanation can there be?
Colleen McMahon: When I first discovered Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive, I
struggled with how best to read the books I found, because reading on my
regular computer was hard on the eyes and the layout was not always ideal.
There are numerous formats for the texts on both sites, and many options for
e-readers, so it might take some experimentation to figure out what works for
I thought I’d take a minute to describe the system I’ve worked out,
in the hopes it might help someone else overcome this obstacle to enjoyable
(and free!) reading experiences. My experience is mainly with Apple devices and
I’m not familiar with the equivalent apps and procedures in Android, but the
overall process should have similar steps.
As I’ve reached the age of needing reading glasses, I’ve found I
have a strong preference for reading ebooks, usually on my iPad using the
Kindle app. No need to find my reading glasses and a strong light with a
backlit screen and easy text resizing!
However, it turns out that downloading the books in the so-called
“Kindle format” (MOBI) often produces scrambled layout and punctuation — if
you have ever attempted to read the free public domain books available through
Amazon, you will be familiar. So for Kindle, I recommend using the PDF format
rather than MOBI, on both sites.
Unfortunately, it can be a tedious process to get the PDF into
Kindle. Each file must be “sent” via Amazon. They can be slow to show up in
your Kindle library, and sometimes they get lost in the ether. The one
advantage is that once the file does arrive, you can access it through any
Kindle reader or app.
Recently I discovered that for both IA and PG texts, it’s much easier to use the Apple Books app,
so it’s become my go-to for public domain texts.
On Project Gutenberg, the easiest way to transfer the file is to
click on the Google Drive or Dropbox icon next to the EPUB option on the main
page for the book. This puts a copy of the file on Google Drive or Dropbox,
after which you simply open whichever one you use and select the “Open in…”
option. Click on the Books app to open the file. After that, it is in your
Books library on that device until you decide to remove it. If you use more
than one Apple device, you will have to repeat it for each one.
Although Internet Archive offers EPUB and Kindle format for most
of its files, I have found it far easier to open the text in PDF format and
download that. If I’m looking at Internet Archive on my iPad (I use Chrome),
then once the PDF version is open, it’s simple to click the “Open In…” button
at the bottom of the screen and drop it directly into the Books app. On my
laptop, I download the PDF, then upload it to Drive. Then I can pull it up on
my iPad and open it in Books.
As I said, there are many routes to get the files to your
preferred reader. If you have other methods that work well for your preferred
formats, please feel free to share in the comments!
For everyone who hasn’t slipped into a coma after that scintillating
discussion, how about some actual book suggestions?
In a comment on the previous installment, Robert Whitaker Sirignano
mentioned that Nikola Tesla had written for Electric
Experimenter magazine, edited by Hugo Gernsback. If you are curious about
that magazine, Internet Archive has four single issues from the 1910s,
as well as the complete volume 7 (1919).
Tremaine (1899-1956) had his 120th birthday on January 7, and it turns out
that he has one work on PG, published under the name Warner Von Lorne: Wanted–7 Fearless Engineers! This
is a multi-chapter novella originally published in Amazing Stories in 1939. It has been recorded as a stand-alone work
Algis Budrys (1931-2008)
has several short stories on Project Gutenberg:
Citadel (Astounding Science Fiction, February
A famed archeologist, an aging doctor,
and a young army engineer set out across the African desert on a great
adventure. Professor Higgs is in search of new archeological discoveries, Dr.
Adams seeks to rescue his kidnapped son, and Captain Orme wants to forget an
unhappy love affair. Maqueda, Daughter of Kings, ruler of the Abati, enlists
their aid to destroy the sacred idol of a neighboring tribe with promises to
help the doctor rescue his son.
A collection of 20 short stories about
various things that go bump in the night. Includes stories by Lord Dunsany,
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Ambrose Bierce, M.R. James and others. (Full
disclosure: I recorded the Le Fanu story).
The author, an avid book collector, calls
for the better protection of books against the “enemies” which lead
to their physical destruction. In a series of brief chapters, he details the
losses caused by raging fire, floods of water, noxious gases, sheer neglect,
ignorant bigotry, invasions of bookworms and other vermin, inept bookbinders, clueless
book collectors, clumsy servants, and mishandling by children.
Yes, I know that last one is not SFF, but it is certainly filled with horrors for the passionate book lovers among us!
By Colleen McMahon: We have passed the January 1 date and 1923 works have safely
entered the public domain! There was a quite a flurry in the new projects
boards in the volunteer forums at Librivox, and the recording process has
already begun for some of the most anticipated books like Gibran’s The
Prophet and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and the Golden Lion. I look
forward to mentioning the SFF-related ones here as they are completed and
released over the next few months.
Speaking of 1923 works, in the previous installment of this column, I had said that I had not found a copy of The
Barge of Haunted Lives online as yet, but that recently changed. You can
now access it on the Internet Archive here.
The New York Times took note of the public domain watershed and it mentions some
of the “big name” items moving out of copyright, and also contains a pretty
good explanation of the whole 20-year public domain “freeze” that had been in
place. If my attempt at it wasn’t clear enough, this article might help!
A recent Pixel Scroll
mentioned an upcoming comic book based on The Light Princess by George
MacDonald (1824-1905). MacDonald was a prolific author as well as a poet and
Christian minister. Much of his work was intended for children or what we
nowadays call “Young Adult” audiences, but he also wrote novels and nonfiction
I don’t know much about him myself at this
point and am interested in finding out more, so there may be an upcoming column
with more in-depth information. For now, here are links to the two works
mentioned in the Scroll item:
Tolkien also wrote a very brief introductory note to a volume of poetry, A Spring Harvest, by Geoffrey Bache Smith (1894-1916). This is a posthumous collection published in tribute to Smith, who was killed in France.
No one has been brave enough to tackle the recording of a Middle English glossary, but there is one Tolkien poem on Librivox. (Token Tolkien, you might say…) In 2010, Librivox volunteers produced Librivox’s Most Wanted, a collection of early poems by authors whose most famous works are often suggested/requested by Librivox listeners, but those works are still in the public domain. The collection includes one Tolkien poem, “Goblin Feet”, as well as poems by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, C.S. Lewis, and others.
(1920-1992) is represented on Project Gutenberg by five works, four of which
are nonfiction (and three of those are separate volumes of the same work). The
Elegy (Imagination: Stories of Science and Fantasy, February 1953)
Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) is best known for his non-SFF
novels, particularly The Good Soldier and the Parades’ End
series, but he has a few books that tip over into fantasy and science fiction,
The Inheritors, co-written with Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), a 1901 science fictional social satire.
The latter is also available
as a Librivox audiobook, with a plot summary from Wikipedia:
The Inheritors: An Extravagant Story (1901) is a quasi-science fiction novel on which Ford Madox Ford
and Joseph Conrad collaborated. It looks at society’s mental evolution and what
is gained and lost in the process. Written before the first World War, its
themes of corruption and the effect of the 20th Century on British aristocracy
appeared to predict history. In the novel, the metaphor of the “fourth
dimension” is used to explain a societal shift from a generation of people
who have traditional values of interdependence, being overtaken by a modern generation
who believe in expediency, callously using political power to bring down the
Fifteen short ghost stories by the Anglican then Roman Catholic priest, Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914). The form of the book is of an old English Roman Catholic priest telling stories to his young friend.
This is a volume of short horror stories by American-born short story writer, poet and critic Vincent O’Sullivan. Sometimes considered the last of the decadents, O’Sullivan was a notable literary figure of his time, a friend of Oscar Wilde, and a favourite of many critics. The stories in the Book of Bargains are all of them notable horror stories, each involving a bargain with the devil – either explicitly or figuratively.
This is the original ‘Buck Rogers’ SF classic. Thrill to the adventures of Anthony “Buck” Rogers, one of the most celebrated characters in the history of science fiction. Famed in comic strips, television, in movies, and even radio, this is the first novel to introduce Buck Rogers to the reading public. In Armageddon – 2419 A.D., Buck, a victim of accidental suspended animation, awakens five hundred years later to discover America groaning under the tyranny of the villainous Han, ruling from the safety of their armored machine-cities. Falling in love with one of America’s new warrior-women, Wilma Deering, Rogers soon become a central figure in using new-fangled scientific weapons – disintegrators, jumping belts, inertron, and paralysis rays – to revolt against the Han.
Between February and October 1919, Nikola Tesla submitted many articles to the magazine Electrical Experimenter. The most famous of these works is a six part series titled My Inventions, which is an autobiographical account of Nikola Tesla’s life and his most celebrated discoveries. This work has been compiled and republished as a stand-alone book several times under different names, but has been a cause of some controversy due to some versions deviating from the original text without explanation. This LibriVox project returns to the original text and expands upon it through the addition of Nikola Tesla’s own supplementary articles as they were published in 1919.
A large body of films, music, and books from that year entered the public domain on Jan. 1, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. And that means they can be used according to the will of new creators who wish to adopt or adapt them.
…Those lengthy copyrights can be a barrier to the creation of new art. “Copyright has been overextended so many times, largely at the behest of major copyright holders,” says author Naomi Novik. “Even though what that actually does is inhibit people from creating new works and sharing these older works.” Novik is a founding member of the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit that focuses on preserving fan fiction and art — that is, work created by fans, based on characters and worlds from their favorite written works, film, and TV, which can occasionally come into conflict with copyright law.
… Novik says that the impulse to re-imagine art is innate. “That kind of process of imagination is just something that our brains do. It doesn’t matter what law you put around it, our brains are still going to do it,” she says.
Inevitably, the spring of adaptations will bring about bad versions of these classic works. As Blake Hazard, great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald, told The New York Times, “I hope people maybe will be energized to do something original with the work, but of course the fear is that there will be some degradation of the text.”
Miller, who adapted Homer, does worry about the possibility of betraying the texts. But as she was working on Circe, she says, “I came to the understanding that I can’t hurt Homer. He’s fine. Whatever I do, that’s just my response to him. But the original text will be just fine.”
It’s time to put the world into WorldCon. Time to include geography and national culture in the definition of diversity. Past time.
This here is just a discussion in good faith. Remember those? There’s no outrage; no political side. All I’m saying is this: historically, the winner of the Hugo for best novel has been from the US, 82% of the time. If we take just the past five years (2014 – 2018) Americans have been nominated 90% of the time (27/30) and won 90% (the latter number comes from Ken Liu (as translator) sharing the award with Cixin Liu for The Three-Body Problem). For the Nebulas – while not related to WorldCon directly, still reflective of what is happening in the genre – the picture is worse: US writers have been nominated 91% of the time (30/34) and won 100%….
Of course, right in the sweet spot of Napper’s 5-year sample are three years deeply affected by Sad/Rabid Puppy slate voting. Diversity of all kinds suffered in those years. What happens if I go back and pick my own sample – say, the year 2010? The Worldcon was in Australia, and the five Best Novel nominees included two Canadians and a Brit – 60% — leaving Americans at only 40%. Or 2009 when it was in Montreal – the five nominees included two Brits – 40% — and Americans were 60%.
And are people really expected to stop thinking that diversity looks
like N.K. Jemisin’s three-year run, an unmatched achievement, and dismiss it as
just another bunch of Hugos predictably won by an American writer?
The remainder of Napper’s post is a suggested reading list of international novels, a positive contribution, and always in order.
Unfortunately, the next part of being constructive is putting up a list of potential novels and short stories to read. This is why outrage is so much easier than informed discussion: it doesn’t come with so much fucking homework.
But I’ve done my homework. I’ve talked to editors and writers from Australia, Zimbabwe, the UK, New Zealand, Singapore, and – yes – the United States. And I’ve come up with a list. It’s not a comprehensive one. I don’t have that sort of time, and I wouldn’t want it to be. A comprehensive list would be so eye-rollingly long the reader would have no idea where to start. And any such claim to completeness would be immediately debunked. I’m not aiming for perfection or quantity.
Also note that none of these are my nominations (yet). I will add my own to the list over the next few weeks as I get my reading done. I have two I’d like to include from my reading as Aurealis judge, though unfortunately I cannot divulge those until the awards are announced.
All these caveats aside, I present to you a flawed and partial list of stories that entirely reasonable humans from all across the world have recommended. Which is about as good as it gets…
Accounting is an ancient profession. Sumer, the earliest known Mesopotamian civilization, had a positional numbering system, so there was no need for placeholders. A subsequent empire, Babylon, had different demands, so its number-crunching class used two empty wedges to represent a sum like 507. Across the world, the Mayan civilization came up with its own solution to a similar problem, placing a shell where modern mathematicians might place a 0. Some experts argue these wedges are ground zero, to borrow a phrase, but most academics attribute the invention of zero as a number—not as a warm body but a symbol in its own right, one that can be used in equations—to India.
(4) GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED. Now that Camestros Felapton has excused himself from the Hugo race, he knows it’s safe to resume writing hilarious stuff like “Other Revised Canon Aspects of Poo”, which would have increased his risks of winning one. Where are we going with this? Well, here’s the premise, with his second example
The other day J.K.Rowling’s Pottermore revealed that Hogwarts was originally built without toilets because wizards just pooped anyway and then magicked it away. Below are other poo related details about other franchises that you might not know….
Star Wars: there are no bathrooms in Star Wars but there are small toilet robots who follow you around waiting for you to do your business and clean it up. That’s what those little boxy droids are.
(5) EINSTEIN OBIT. The actor known as Super Dave Osborne died January 2. Mark Evanier paid tribute in “Bob Einstein, R.I.P.” —
[His work included a] long run as the self-immolating daredevil Super Dave Osborne. You never knew what daring feat Super Dave would attempt; only that at the end of it, he would meet some fate previously met by Wile E. Coyote.
January 5, 1950 — The Flying Saucer opened in theaters.
January 5, 1951 — Two Lost Worlds premiered…with dinosaurs in Australia.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 5, 1914 – George Reeves. Best known for his role as the title role in TheAdventures of Superman and several associated films. I remember the show fondly from much later syndication and thought that both the acting and stories were well done. He also played the lead role in The Adventures of Sir Galahad and was Mike Patton in The Jungle Goddess. He was in a fair number of series as well but I can’t determine if any of them were genre. (Died 1959.)
Born January 5, 1929 – Russ Manning. An artist who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965 – 1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979 – 1980. (Credit to Bill here at File 770 for this Birthday.) (Died 1981.)
Born January 5, 1941 – Hayao Miyazaki, 78. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited Away, My Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen. (Thanks to Matt Russell for this Birthday.)
Born January 5, 1959 – Clancy Brown, 60. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
Born January 5, 1978 – January Jones, 41. Emma Frost In X-Men: First Class is her only film role to dates but earlier when searching the net I did find her in The Last Man on Earth which is, and I quote, “an American post-apocalyptic comedy television series.” Anyone seen this?
Born January 5, 1978 – Seanan McGuire, 41. Ahhhh one of my favorite writers. I just finished listening to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which was quite excellent and earlier I’d read her Chaos Choreography, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. I did read at a few of the first October Daye novelsbut they didn’t tickle my fancy. I’ve not read her Mira Grant work so do advise on how it is.
(9) BORG LICENSE REVOKED. A Canadian Star Trek fan is going to court after the government insurance company revoked his “ASIMIL8” license plate, that he got because he likes the Borg, and had a frame that added the tag “Resistance is Futile.” The term was considered insulting to First Nations people, who have often been asked to assimilate to settler culture. The Edmonton Journal has the story — “’Obviously inappropriate:’ Insurer says ASIMIL8 plate shouldn’t have been issued”.
In a recently filed legal brief, Troller explained that he drove around with the plate for nearly two years and no one complained. He renewed it with MPI in 2016 without issue.
An Ontario woman posted a photo of the licence plate on Facebook on April 22, 2017. Court filings show a transcript of a call she made to MPI in which she said the plate was offensive because of the history of government assimilation policies.
Not all plate requests go sailing through:
The documents include a 47-page list of licence plates that were denied by MPI. They include BITE ME, VINO, MMMBEER, SKODEN, HYZNBRG, HOLYCOW, PWALKER and 50 GREY.
A man in Nova Scotia has also gone to court over a personalized licence plate. Lorne Grabher has been trying to reinstate his “GRABHER” plate since it was revoked in 2016 by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles following an anonymous complaint.
(10) DOWNWIND FROM HOLLYWOOD. Just became aware of this fine blog entry published last year by Kip W: “Classical Gas”. Examples at the link.
The Disney corporation, ever sensitive to the winds of change, and (since at least the 1950s) ever willing to recut their old products up for present-day sensibilities, determined to get out on the cutting edge of kid appeal by folding flatulence humor into their classic releases. Leaked memo from 2008 reveals some of the specific ideas explored…
Perhaps you’ve seen a Transformers movie, or two, or six, in the past 11 years. (Google says there are six now.) Perhaps you’ve liked them, even, to the point that you’ve dreamed of one day owning the sporty, automatic stunt cars that turn into robots on the big screen. Now’s your chance to own four.
There’s one big catch, though: All four of the vehicles will come with a scrap title and none of them will be street legal. There go your carpool plans for the next Transformers movie premiere. Darn.
Barrett-Jackson is auctioning off four Transformers movie cars as a package deal in Scottsdale, Arizona later this month—all four of them black-and-yellow Chevrolet Camaros representing the robot character Bumblebee, who (which?) recently starred in an unnecessarily sexy movie of his (its?) namesake. Money from the Camaros’ auction will go to charity, and the person who wins will get a 2010 model from the first and second movies, a 2010 model from the third movie, a 2013 model from the fourth movie and a 2016 one from the fifth movie
We’re less than a week into the new year, and we already have a handful of new Oreo flavors to fuel us through 2019. As if the news of flavors like Carrot Cake and Dark Chocolate haven’t been enough to pique your interest, perhaps the rumors of Oreo’s latest out-of-the-box offering, Buttered Popcorn, will do the trick.
On a bustling commercial street in the fashionable Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, you can visit a serene temple of books. The lighting is soft, with accents that showcase the best in early 20th-century craftsmanship. Conversations are hushed, as if in a grand library, yet the space is so warm and welcoming that the raised café at the back of the cavernous room is filled with patrons reading and sipping cappuccinos and chocolate submarinos.
You’ve entered the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore, which blogs and guidebooks often dub “the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” They may not be wrong. The sprawling shop is housed in a beautifully preserved antique theater. Only instead of tango dancers and singers, the stars are now the printed word.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Joel Zakem, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
By Colleen McMahon: As January 1 approaches and 1923
copyrights become public domain, commenters on the previous installment pointed out some 1923 works
that might appeal to genre readers. Bill suggested four:
Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Creeping Man”. This one is tricky,
as the most common source is The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, which
collected the final Holmes stories and was published in 1927, so it remains
under copyright for a few more years. However, the story itself was published
in The Strand magazine in 1923, so you can find it for free there when
the 1923 issues of the magazine come online.
“archy and mehitabel” pieces by Don Marquis. Without more detail on the pieces
I couldn’t look around for an online version, but plenty of Don Marquis works
published in 1922 and earlier are already available on Project
Arthurs mentioned The Barge of Haunted Lives by J.Aubrey Tyson, a “club
story” collection where an eccentric millionaire gathers nine people who have
had supernatural experiences and has each tell his or her story.
didn’t see an online version of this book (yet!) but Tyson also wrote a 1922 novel, The
Scarlet Tanager, which is available through the Internet Archive. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes it as “ Near Future
thriller…which is set in 1930, rousingly presents a submarine pirate and his
right-wing cohorts; a tough US intelligence agent opposes their efforts to
topple the American government. A UK agent, the actress of the title, also
becomes involved. Sf devices include sonar and an invisible Ray.” Sounds like
this blog post, I also found out about the British Library’s Flickr account containing over a million
illustrations from books in their collection. The illustrations from 1500 Miles
Per Hour are included in the “Space and SciFi” album, along with over 400
others. The entire collection is wonderful and inspiring to browse through.
There are albums of everything from children’s book illustrations to fashion to
Terry Gene Carr (1937-1987) was a lifelong science fiction fan who published many
fanzines and won the Hugo award for Best Fan Writer in 1973. He was well known
for editing science fiction anthologies, and also wrote several novels. One of
of Kor, is
available on Project Gutenberg. There are also two audio versions available on Librivox.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) has two early short stories on Project Gutenberg:
Rose Macauley (1881-1958) was an English novelist who has two novels with
What-Not: A Prophetic Comedy was published in 1918, and was
recently described by The Guardian as “a forgotten feminist
dystopian novel, a story of eugenics and newspaper manipulation that is believed
to have influenced Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four”. It’s had
some buzz lately because it is being re-released in a new edition,
complete with restored sections that were left out of the original 1918
edition. But you can read the original version for free at PG.
The classic Christmas story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who
is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and
the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The result of
their visit shows that redemption is achievable for even the worst of us.
Cupid’s Whirligig is a city comedy: a play in colloquial language
dealing with the everyday life of London’s citizens. A knight, Sir Timothy
Troublesome, suspects his wife of cheating on him and, to prove that any
children she bears are not his own, decides to ‘geld’ himself. Meanwhile,
the young Lord Nonsuch dreams of bedding the knight’s wife, and in
disguise enters the Troublesomes’ employ as a servant. Cupid descends from
the heavens to cast a love spell on the citizens of London and, by the
last act, one character loves another, who loves another, and so on until
the last loves the first: a “Cupid’s whirligig”.
In the Fourth Year is a collection H.G. Wells assembled in the spring
of 1918 from essays he had recently published discussing the problem of
establishing lasting peace when World War I ended. It is mostly devoted to
plans for the League of Nations and the discussion of post-war politics.
A delightful collection of stories and poems, with several interesting
selections discussing various Christmas and holiday traditions, and a
lovely Christmas play, featuring a full cast. All selections have been
chosen and narrated by LibriVox volunteers to commemorate Christmas 2018.
Includes “Thurlow’s Christmas Story”, a spooky tale with a Christmas angle
(which I read for the collection and really enjoyed!)
By Colleen McMahon: Fans of the public domain have been looking forward to 2019 for a very long time — 20 years to be exact! This is because on January 1, 2019, new works will enter the public domain in the United States for the first time since 1998. In this edition of “Wandering Through the Public Domain,” I want to take a brief look at how the “public domain freeze” happened.
In 1998, the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) was passed by Congress. For copyrights owned by an individual, the term was extended to life of the creator plus 70 years. For copyrights owned by corporations, the term was extended to 95 years from publication or first use.
The previous update to copyright law in 1976 had done away with the need to renew copyrights for 28-year terms. The 1976 law set the term for individual copyright at life plus 50 years, or 75 years for corporate copyrights, and the implications of this latter term is what set the stage for the 1998 changes.
Under the 1976 law, Disney faced the possibility of Mickey Mouse moving into the public domain in 2003, 75 years after the release of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Steamboat Willie.” Beginning in the early 1990s, Disney heavily lobbied Congress to lengthen the copyright term, joined by other large corporations like Time Warner.
Republican Congressman Sonny Bono was a vocal supporter and sponsor of copyright extension legislation in the 1990s, and his unfortunate death in a ski accident in early 1998 created additional momentum for passage of the new law. Mary Bono, the late Congressman’s widow, was appointed to finish Sonny’s term and took up the copyright cause. The CTEA was renamed “TheSonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act” and passage of the law was promoted as a way to memorialize a popular Congressman and celebrity. The law was passed by both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton in October 1998.
Up until the law was passed, works had been passing into the public domain each January as the 75-year mark was reached. Under the 75-year term, works copyrighted in 1923 would have moved into the public domain on January 1, 1999, but the 20-year extension meant that the new expiration date for 1923 works moved to 2019. The public domain limit that has been frozen at 1922 for two decades will at last begin moving again in just a few weeks.
I’ve been looking at 1923 publications and have not found much in the F/SF realm as yet. The one exception so far is H.G. Wells’ Men Like Gods, a “scientific fantasy” about a utopian society in a parallel universe. There is more to come just over the horizon, as the earliest science fiction magazines began publishing in the late1920s.
In the meantime, we can still enjoy the many pre-1923 works as well as later ones where the copyright was not renewed while we look forward to a new burst of public domain access each January — at least until Congress decides to change the laws again. Mickey Mouse is back on the expiration schedule for 2023, so Disney is probably revving up their lobbying efforts even as I write this….
On to this week’s finds:
Lester Del Rey (1915-1993) is best remembered these days as an editor, particularly of the publishing imprint that still bears his name, but he was also a prolific author of science fiction in earlier years. Project Gutenberg has three Lester Del Rey novels, all of which have also been recorded through Librivox:
A collection of unpublished writings of Samuel Butler, edited after his death by Henry Festing Jones. Musings on writing, art, and philosophy, including thoughts about Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited, which are often categorized as early F/SF.
[Full disclosure: I worked on this project, recording two of the chapters!]
In the Jungle Books, Kipling tells 9 wonderful and exciting tales about Mowgli, the human baby raised by a pack of wolves in the jungles of India. His exploits and adventures are many and varied especially his dealing with the other animals such as his wolf mother and father and brother wolves, Baloo the wise bear who teaches him the Law of the Jungle, and in his life long battle with Shere-Kahn, the lame human-killing tiger. This edition collects all the Mowgli stories from both Jungle Book volumes and places them in chronological order.
The Castle stood above the quiet little town for as long as folks remembered: barren, deserted, lonely and frightening to the townsfolk. Until one day, smoke began to ascend from the dunjon. They were warned not to go near, and when intrepid souls dared to venture to uncover the mystery of the ruined castle, they learned firsthand what supernatural terrors await inside The Castle of the Carpathians.