Nicholas Whyte, CoNZealand’s Deputy Hugo Administrator, announced today it has come to the attention of the CoNZealand Hugo Awards administrators that the winner of the 1945 Retro Hugo for Best Graphic Story has been misattributed. While Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk” was originally credited to writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, the artwork was actually done by artist Ira Yarbrough. In keeping with the listing for this issue in Superman Archives Vol. 8, published by DC Comics in 2010, they are changing the listing for this work as follows:
Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk” by Jerry Siegel, Ira Yarbrough and Joe Shuster (Detective Comics, Inc.)
Whyte says, “The administrators apologize for not catching this earlier, and thank the fans who brought this to our attention. We will be correcting this on the official listings of winners on the CoNZealand and Hugo Awards pages, and request that other media outlets please update their reporting.”
(1) ADDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Speculative Fiction in Translation’s Rachel Cordasco renews her appeal that “major Anglophone SFF awards should include a separate translation category” in “SFT And The Awards”.
…Really, all of this comes down to a naming problem. If the Hugos are going to be a “World Award,” logically they should include works from around the world, in any language. Since that doesn’t seem likely any time soon, and Anglophone readers generally don’t learn multiple languages unless they have to, then the award should (again, logically) stop calling itself a “World Award” and start acknowledging that, from the very beginning, it has been and still is an award given to English-language SFF by English-language readers.
….And then there’s the whole set of general arguments opposing, or at least not immediately embracing, a separate translation category. I’ve listed a few below:
We already have too many award categories.
Not enough Anglophone readers read SFT so how could they vote on it?
Creating a separate translation category will send the message that SFT is inferior to Anglophone speculative fiction.
SFT can win and has won awards without any “help.”
But how can we determine if the translation is any good?
Changing award rules is too difficult.
I’m going to address each of these points separately, making sure that I reiterate that I am not involved in any of these awards at the executive level, though I did participate in the most recent Locus Awards voting and was able to bring my knowledge of current SFT to the discussion, which I truly appreciated.
You may also know that I started a “Favorite SFT” poll in 2018, which is open to anyone who would like to vote (once!). This approach has its flaws but it’s the best I can do with the resources I have. Just the fact that the poll exists makes me think that more people are becoming aware that SFT does exist.
To the first point that “we already have too many award categories”: so what? And also, is a translated category somehow less important than the “Young Adult” or “First Novel” category? And to the subpoint that some translated work might win in two categories, can’t that happen with other categories? And aren’t there ways to get around that? I freely admit that I’m not cut out for business meetings and deciding rules about rules- which is one of the reasons why I’m not on these committees. This is just me on a website putting forth my opinions, against which everyone is free to argue. (Just be respectful when you rip me to shreds, ok?)….
…But outside of a stay-at-home crisis, time loops have gained traction in their appeal due to the same themes that made Groundhog Day so popular to begin with. Like the drunken locals that Phil Conners laments to in Punxsutawney, or the fellow wedding guest in the Palm Springs hotel pool talking to Samberg’s Nyles, those existing outside the loop can relate on a visceral level to the experience of feeling like today is the same as yesterday and tomorrow. For Bill Murray, the appeal of Groundhog Day as a script was its representation of people’s fear of change, and how we choose to repeat our daily lives to avoid it. These themes echoed in Russian Doll, which as a bingeable streaming series really allowed audiences to inhabit the repetitive nature of the loops, ironically utilizing the same technologies that have sped our lives up and caused them to feel even more cyclical.
(3) FIYAHCON. I signed up for FIYAHCON (October 17-18) news in time to receive its August Update naming three more guests:
FIYAHCONtweeted additional information: Rebecca Roanhorse: “We suspect you know @RoanhorseBex from all of that constant award-winning she does as a Black + Indigenous writer of many brilliant things.”; Cassie Hart: “is a Maori writer who’s been working intensely behind the scenes to shine a light on SFF from Aotearoa while grinding out an impressive number of works herself.”; Yasser Bahjatt: “chaired the Worldcon bid for Saudi Arabia. And while that didn’t land, we are thrilled to hear more from him about Arabian SFF and other ways we can uplift and celebrate the spec community there.”
The three newcomers join FIYAHCON’s previously announced guests:
She’s boldly going where no one has gone before, but doing so means leaving the people she loves the most. We’ve got the first trailer for Netflix’s Away, a new series that sees Hilary Swank joining the first manned mission to Mars—a three-year journey that will test the limits of its crew, as well as the patience of those who were left behind….
(5) JUST SAYIN’. Jay Blanc tweeted his ideas for improving Hugo administration. Thread starts here. Whether or not he has the solution (and CoNZealand Deputy Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte responded skeptically in the thread), I had to agree with Blanc’s last tweet about what one of the problems is.
He’s not alone in marveling at how many times in the past decade the Hugos have been hamstrung because someone was writing code from scratch. That doesn’t always happen for the same reason. We didn’t always need or want, in the past, a system that integrates all aspects of a member’s digital interaction with the convention. That’s what they’re moving toward, therefore it would make sense for that software to be created and stabilized. Funding it, having the work done and vetted, and working out licensing to the committees (which are entities of their own) would all be part of the mission.
… Because they are voted on primarily by people who were born decades after the original publication dates, the Retro Hugos are less likely to recognize work that has not been reprinted. This means that the average Retro Hugo voter inevitably experiences the works they’re voting on through a filter created by the intervening generations. Other than Erle Korshak, Cora Buhlert, and Gideon Marcus, we’d be hard-pressed to name a Hugo voter who is likely to have read a 1945-era pulp magazine cover-to-cover and experienced the works in something like their original context….
No need to be so “hard-pressed.” You have not because you ask not.
…For the Retro Hugos to be relevant and worthwhile awards, we as members of the World Science Fiction Society need to wrestle with why the awards need to exist. Is their intent to reproduce the racist tastes of the past or can they help focus a critical lens on the history of the genre and help us discover works that might have been overlooked?
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 10, 1951 — Tales Of Tomorrow first broadcast the “Blunder” in which a scientist is warned his experiment with nuclear fission could destroy the earth. Written by Philip Wylie who wrote the screenplay for When Worlds Collide. The primary cast is Robert Allen and Ann Loring. It was directed by Leonard Valenta who otherwise did soap,operas. The original commercials are here as well. You can watch it here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 10, 1902 — Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in the horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1903 — Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents that four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World: “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine“ being two of them. (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1913 — Noah Beery Jr. Genre-wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Beyond Witch Mountain, The Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1931 – Alexis Gilliland, 89. Seven novels, six shorter stories and a Feghoot; Campbell (as it then was) for Best New Writer. Chaired six Disclaves. WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) met at his house for decades. One of our finest fanartists. Four Hugos, three FAAn (FAn Activity Achievement) Awards, Rotsler. Letters, perhaps three hundred cartoons in Alexiad, Algol, Amazing, Analog, Asimov’s, Chunga, Fantasy Review, Flag, Janus, Locus, Mimosa, Pulphouse, SF Eye, SF Commentary, SF Review, SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Bulletin, Star*Line, Worldcon Souvenir Books. Here is a cover for SF Review. See here, here, here. Makes good deviled eggs. [JH]
Born August 10, 1944 — Barbara Erskine, 76. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her? (CE)
Born August 10, 1955 — Eddie Campbell, 65. Best-known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. (CE)
Born August 10, 1955 – Tom Kidd, 65. Eight Chesleys. Artbooks Kiddography, OtherWorlds, How to Draw & Paint Dragons. Three hundred eighty covers, a hundred forty interiors. Here is Not This August. Here is the Oct 83 Fantasy & Science Fiction. Here is Songs of the Dying Earth. Here is Overruled. [JH]
Born August 10, 1962 – Horia Gâbea, Sc.D., 58. Romanian playwright, poet, essayist, novelist, engineer, popularizer of contract bridge. University of Bilbao prize for poetry. The Serpent performed by the British Royal Court Theatre. Translator of Chekhov, Corneille, John D. MacDonald, Machiavelli. Accused of being “gratuitously bookish…. a pun more important than a murder…. thin and edgy like a razor…. forgives no one no thing.” Worlds and Beings anthology in English. [JH]
Born August 10, 1965 — Claudia Christian, 55. Best-known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space Rangers, Highlander, Quantum Leap, Relic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six-episode series shot in ‘05 you can on Amazon Prime. (CE)
Born August 10, 1971 – Lara Morgan, 49. Six novels for us. “Her mission is to rid the world of tea, one cup at a time. This is going quite well.” She liked All Our Yesterdays, alas for me not Harry Warner’s but Cristin Terrill’s; ranked Ender’s Game about the same as Lilith’s Brood. Website here. [JH]
Born August 10, 1985 – Andrew Drilon, 35. A dozen short stories; Philippine Speculative Fiction 9 with Charles Tan; four covers, three dozen interiors; comics. Here is Heroes, Villains, and Other Women. Here is WonderLust. Here is a sequence from his own Whapak! [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side has one about aliens that really brings this cartoon series’ title to mind.
…Round 1 saw Connery knock out current 007 actor Daniel Craig, coming out on top with 56 per cent of the vote compared to Craig’s 43 per cent, while Pierce Brosnan winning Round 2 with 76 per cent against his opponent George Lazenby’s 24 per cent.
Round 3 saw perhaps the most surprising result yet, as Roger Moore was knocked out of the competition – with 41 per cent of the vote, he lost out to his immediate successor Timothy Dalton, who scored 49 per cent of the vote.
At some point, someone decided that Star Trek fans were fanatical about cutlery and all things fine dining, hence the creations of a series of elegant Next Generation spoons.
The high-quality spoons feature the faces of fan-favorite characters such as Captain Picard and Data on the handle of each implement. While nice its almost impossible to imagine anyone actually using these spoons to eat with and the illogical decisions that led to their creation would no doubt befuddle Spock.
As long as there has been spaceflight, there have been conspiracy theories. There were conspiracy theories about Sputnik in the late 1950s (“their Germans are better than our Germans”) and dead cosmonauts in the early 1960s. Even before some people claimed—on the very day that it happened—that the Moon landing was faked, Apollo had its own conspiracy theories. In those days it was difficult for them to propagate and reach a wide audience, unlike today, when they can spread around the world at the speed of light. One of those Apollo conspiracy theories was about a whistleblower named Thomas Baron, who later died under mysterious circumstances.
Baron worked on the Apollo program in Florida for one of the key contractors. After the Apollo 1 fire in early 1967, Baron testified before a congressional fact-finding delegation that went to Florida. He later died under what some people considered to be mysterious circumstances, fueling speculation that he was killed to shut him up. The transcript of his testimony also could not be found by later researchers, which fueled the speculation that somebody was covering up damaging information.
In 1999, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, radio station WAMU in Washington, DC, aired a program about the role of Washington politics in the lunar landing. “Washington Goes to the Moon” was written and produced by Richard Paul and featured interviews with a number of key figures in the story. Paul had decided that the Apollo 1 fire and the subsequent investigations into its cause would be a key focus of the program. In the course of researching the fire, he stumbled upon a document that many believed was long-lost: a transcript of an interview with Thomas Baron, who alleged that there were numerous improper actions taken by his employer, North American Aviation, which was building the spacecraft.
From invading animals to a faulty computer chip worth less than a dollar, the alarmingly long list of close calls shows just how easily nuclear war could happen by mistake.
…All told, there have been at least 22 alarmingly narrow misses since nuclear weapons were discovered. So far, we’ve been pushed to the brink of nuclear war by such innocuous events as a group of flying swans, the Moon, minor computer problems and unusual space weather. In 1958, a plane accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb in a family’s back garden; miraculously, no one was killed, though their free-range chickens were vaporised. Mishaps have occurred as recently as 2010, when the United States Air Force temporarily lost the ability to communicate with 50 nuclear missiles, meaning there would have been no way to detect and stop an automatic launch.
(14) BLOCKHOUSE FOR BLOCKHEADS? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Schultz, in “For Sale: A Cold War Bunker and Missile Silo in North Dakota” on Atlas Obscura, says that tomorrow auctioneers will sell a 50-acre site in North Dakota that housed a missile base loaded with Sprint missiles that were supposed to be the last line of defense against Soviet ICBM’s. The missiles are gone but the buildings are still there, and it’s perfect for a slan shack or future Worldcon bid, or would be an ideal place to conduct fan feuds. What better place to launch verbal missiles than a place that housed real missiles? Plus all the former missile silos are guaranteed to be socially distant from each other!
HALF AN HOUR SOUTH OF the Canadian border, in Fairdale, North Dakota, a hulking concrete structure rises up from the flat fields that surround it. The beige buildings are so prominent on an otherwise pastoral landscape that they could be mistaken for a 20th-century Stonehenge.
(15) I WALK TO THE TREES. In “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George promises a film with “a whole lot of walking. Even the trees walk.”
[Thanks to John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, N., Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michal Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
A Few (Pointed) Observations of the 2020 Hugo Awards Ceremony
By Chris M. Barkley: I usually don’t offer any commentary after the Hugo Awards are given out because the will of the voters has been expressed and as the song goes, “Some will win, some will lose, some of them will sing the blues.”
And when you consider what happened last Saturday morning in Wellington, New Zealand, I think what unfolded may have looked really bad, but it could have been far, far worse.
Having said that, I think the CoNZealand Hugo Awards Ceremony team deserves a modicum of credit for bringing us a telecast of the awards at all under somewhat grueling circumstances; even though there were a number of other glitches that were glaringly evident as time went on.
THE HUGO AWARDS CEREMONY
Yes, the CoNZealand Hugo Awards Ceremony will probably go down as one of the longest and most poorly executed as of now and well into the near future. I am quite sure that everyone involved, and I definitely include George R.R. Martin and the CoNZealand production team had the best of intentions.
I believe that he, and Robert Silverberg, were trying to convey to a global audience the grand, sweeping history and the importance of the award, which is still, after sixty-seven (67!) years, the only prestigious literary award given to authors and artists by readers. But they took an awfully long time to convey that.
When planning something as arduous as the Hugo Awards Ceremony, the uppermost thing to keep in mind is that brevity and conciseness are your friends and droning on and boring your audience is not what you want under any circumstances. A VERY tight script would have redeemed this broadcast.
Also, and more importantly, GRRM and the producers on his end completely misread the audience tuning in. While his folksy reminiscing and cute anecdotes about the good old days of pre-internet fandom may have been entirely appropriate on a Worldcon panel (of which I have no doubt he has done countless times beforehand) his comments were perceived by the somewhat younger crowd as meandering, problematic and boring. His stories were about as meaningful and relevant as Henry Ford regaling Elon Musk about what a genius idea the production line was.
I am rather puzzled how GRRM, a seasoned writer/producer of several tv shows, could have possibly not foreseen this Titanic-sized iceberg in the making. And with at the very least five or so months of advanced planning, it was entirely avoidable.
But there’s the rub; this fiasco was NOT entirely GRRM’s fault. He had plenty of help.
Someone in CoNZealand’s end of the production and the producer in charge of GRRM’s studio, whom I do not know and cannot readily find, should have recognized the problems at the scripting stage and should be held ultimately responsible for this fiasco. And whomever they are, they should have provided GRRM with the proper pronunciations of the nominee’s names far in advance of the start of the Ceremony.
Very little responsibility should fall on the line producers of the broadcast, Directors Alan Bond and Dragos Ruiu, who were recruited late in the process.
The script GRRM and his producers had drafted by early July had a proposed running time in excess of OVER THREE HOURS, and that was without the recipients’ speeches! That’s as long as some of the more egregious Academy Awards telecasts of recent years. The final running time of the Ceremony (including the Hugo Award recipients’ speeches) clocked in at three hours thirty-four minutes and fifty-eight seconds. (And for those of you keeping score at home, no, it was not as long as Gone with the Wind; it would have needed yet another 24 minutes to accomplish that. But it sure FELT like it…)
Several days after CoNZealand ended and the bloody autopsies of the broadcast were in full swing, I came across a Facebook post that claimed that the original tech crew had been unceremoniously sacked and had to sign non-disclosure agreements to boot.
And then there was also this curious post from a recent File 770 comments page:
Chip Hitchcock on August 6, 2020 at 8:30 am wrote:
“@Soon Lee: I’m sympathetic to the issues brought up by having to pivot so close to curtain time. ISTM that the program book should not have been one of those, but the slow connections in the Hugo ceremony (explained in another thread as having been picked up on 3 days’ notice because the original team crumped) is understandable.”
Curious about these claims, I spent several days seeking out, contacting and speaking extensively with a source who worked on the convention. I can completely debunk and dispose both pieces of gossip:
The original technical crew did not “crump”. Nor were they sacked or forced to sign NDAs.
According to my source, the decision was made to replace the New Zealand crew by the American based production team on the evening of July 29 (the first day of the convention) at the request of the US-based producers. This request was made directly by them to the Events Division Head, Mel Duncan. The explanation that was offered was that the tech crew was too widely distributed across several time zones (AEST/NZST/PDT/EDT) and the producers wished to use a centralized crew based solely in the Pacific Daylight Time zone.
That is all fine and well in theory, BUT the original crew had already gone through several rehearsals already and may have been in a better position to handle the technical issues or difficulties that occurred. Or not. We’ll never know for certain.
One thing is certain, GRRM and the production team haven given the World Science Fiction Society a big, black eye. Needless to say, this terrible program has churned up a considerable amount of negative reactions from a wide spectrum of fans and critics. How bad? One acclaimed Hugo Nominated Best Series author, Tade Thompson, was so disgusted by the perceived racism (in praise of problematic writers and editors from generations ago) that he publicly announced on Twitter that he would no longer accept any future nominations from WSFS. So yes, really bad.
The BEST part of the broadcast was the acceptance speeches by the recipients, they were fantastic! In particular, I was especially happy for Jeannette Ng, whose speech at the Dublin 2019 Worldcon accepting the (now former) John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer won the 2020 Best Related Work category. I was privileged to be in the room when it happened; her scathing condemnation of white privilege, fascism and racism was truly one of the most electrifying moments in modern literature and subsequently made headlines around the world. Ms. Ng’s acceptance speech was also heartfelt and stirring, too.
Of all of the fiction award winners, my only lament is that Ted Chiang’s magnificent novella, “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom”, was bested by “This Is How You Lose the Time War”. But Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s story was an epic tour-de-force and just as deserving.
THE 1945 RETRO-HUGOS
I had other concerns.
When the Retro-Hugo Awards were first established in 1996, it was generally thought that it would be a good idea to honor works of fantasy and science fiction from 50, 75 and 100 years ago. And now after honoring eight years (1938,1940, 1942-1945, 1950 and 1953), folks are having second thoughts about the whole endeavor.
The good news is that the late Leigh Brackett and artist Margaret Brundage were big winners. Brackett won twice, the first for her novel Shadow Over Mars (aka The Nemesis From Terra) and in the Best Related Work for her Writer’s Digest article, “The Science Fiction Field”. The late Ms. Brundage was honored as the Best Artist of 1944, primarily for her artwork that year for Weird Tales.
The bad news, as far as I was concerned, was yet another Short Form Editor award for John W. Campbell, Jr and a Best Series award for H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
It seems to me it’s as though when the Retro-Hugos are handed out, the nominators and voters seem to punch Campbell’s award ticket EVERY SINGLE TIME. I freely admit that, without question, he was one of the most influential editors of 20th century sf literature. And despite being a bit of a weird, cranky, an eccentric and a virulent racist, he was revered by his peers and fans alike for decades.
And because of those beliefs, I don’t think that Campbell is held in such high regard by a majority of contemporary fans, writers and editors. But the Hugo Award is not given for a person’s beliefs and character, they are given for the work that has been done. And as much as I may dislike JWC as a person, there is no doubt he did some admirable work, in his era.
By my count, Campbell’s work has netted him fifteen Hugo Awards, eight of those being Retro-Hugos. The question I have is this; how much adulation is enough? Because it seems to me that even with some of the more recent revelations of Campbell’s true nature, there is a die-hard cadre of enthusiasts who will continue giving his surviving family members a Hugo Award in spite of those personal criticisms of his character.
Well, I stopped nominating and voting for John W. Campbell, Jr.on my Retro ballot years ago. Because there were other editors of that early era who deserve recognition, too.
As for H.P. Lovecraft, I also recognize that he has had a lasting influence in modern day fantasy and horror. He is also a very disturbing individual and racist whose writing style was admired by his contemporaries and many, many others after his death. Despite that, I have no love or admiration for his work, no matter what his personal views were.I find his works turgid, stomach-turning and generally unpleasant. So my opposition to honoring Lovecraft’s work is strictly aesthetic not personal.
In closing, I will note that Clifford Simak’s “Desertion”, the runner up in the Short Story category, was one of the most enthralling tales that I had ever read in my youth. It is a far superior story in comparison to the winner, Ray Bradbury’s “I, Rocket”. I think that Bradbury’s long literary shadow was at work here and I believe that honoring such an inferior story would shock and dismay him.
BEST SEMI-PROZONE and BEST EDITOR, LONG & SHORT FORM
Somewhere in the middle of this miasma of an awards show, both GRRM and author Robert Silverberg mused at length about the Best Semiprozine and the Long and Short Form Editing categories. Specifically, why were these awards named in such a manner.
Well, if they knew their Hugo Awards history, they would have known that the Semiprozine category was first awarded in 1984 and, according to Wikipedia, “…is given each year for semi-professionally-edited magazines related to science fiction or fantasy which had published four or more issues, with at least one issue appearing in the previous calendar year.” The award was dominated for decades by Locus Magazine (with 8 wins as Best Fanzine in the 13 years before the creation of the Semiprozine category, followed by another 22 wins until a WSFS Constitution rules change in 2012 made it ineligible in that category.)
I was so disgusted by this category and Locus’ repeated wins that I was once recruited by Discon III Fan Guest of Honor Ben Yalow to try and KILL it altogether at a WSFS Business Meeting. Obviously, we did not succeed, at least, in this timeline. But that’s another story for another day…
In the past decade, there have been meaningful attempts to draft a constitutional amendment to make this category more relevant (and ditch the unwieldy name as well).
This rather dovetails with Mr. Silverberg’s comments about how odd it was to have a long and short form award for editors. Having labored for three agonizing years in the conclave of SMOFs email lists and the Business Meetings, I can tell Mr. Silverberg that I was in the room where it happened and that he really, REALLY, doesn’t want to know how this particular sausage was made.
What I can tell you is that the intent of splitting up the Editing category was to find a way to honor magazine/anthology editors and book editors, who had been sadly neglected over the decades. How neglected, you may ask?
The last two Hugo Award winning book editors were Judy-Lynn Del Rey (1986) and Terry Carr (1987). Both were deceased by the time they were honored..
Ideally, in the 21st century, this mess can be easily solved by establishing the following categories:
Best Magazine: Any magazine (in print or online) related to science fiction or fantasy which had published four or more issues or edited volumes in the previous calendar year.
Best Anthology or Collection: Any Anthology of original stories or a single author collection related to science fiction or fantasy published in the previous calendar year.
Best Book Editor:The editor of at least four (4) novel length works primarily devoted to science fiction and / or fantasy published in the previous calendar year that do not qualify as a magazine or a website.
The only thing needed for the last category to work is the establishment of a uniform commitment by publishers to credit the novel’s editor in every book. Besty Wollheim of DAW Books has been working for the past two years to make this happen. Bravo to her!
There has been some disturbing news in the past few years that certain members of the Business Meeting might be open to abandoning the Book Editor category in favor of a Best Publisher or Imprint Award. I think that would be a terrible shame to shunt book editors back into the shadows after thirteen years in the limelight.
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION LONG & SHORT FORM
One of the most egregious oversights this year was the omission of the HBO mini-series, Chernobyl from the Long Form category.
If fans had enough gumption to nominate a film like Hidden Figures, which brilliantly dramatized the work of African-American “calculators” who helped guide the Mercury spaceflight program of the 1960’s, what was the impediment to nominating the chilling and dystopian epic of the worst nuclear disaster on record?
In a similar vein, I practically shouted to anyone who would listen that fans should NOT nominate individual episodes of Watchmen, the acclaimed ten part series that served as a “indirect sequel” to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s 1986 Hugo Award winning graphic novel.
And it ALMOST worked; an official statement from CoNZealnd’s Hugo Award Administrators posted on the voting results read as follows:
“Watchmen gained enough votes to qualify in this category (81), but two individual episodes also qualified for the Short Form category (“A God Walk Into Abar” 81, “This Extraordinary Being,” 54) with more votes collectively. The Administrators therefore removed Watchmen from this category.”
With Watchmen relegated to two episodes in the Short Form Category, the beneficiary of that move was The Rise of Skywalker, who slipped into the sixth spot with 75 nominations. Next in line was Spider-Man: Far From Home with 74 nominations. (See the 2020 Hugo voting statistics here.)
And what’s this? The entire season of Russian Doll was nominated????? Russian Doll but not Watchmen? That’s the year 2020 for you; all crazy, all of the time.
So with Chernobyl nowhere to be seen and Watchmen regulated out of the Long Form competition, is anyone surprised that the adaptation of Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens (also nominated as a series) was the eventual winner? A good choice, yes, But personally, I’d like to think that Watchmen would have given them a run for their money.
In the Short Form category, the same story, same show, a related result:
“Good Omens: Hard Times (Episode 3)” gained enough votes to qualify in this category (108 nominations), but the entire series of Good Omens also qualified for the Long Form category, with more votes. The Administrators therefore removed “Good Omens: Hard Times” from this category.”
The beneficiary here? The Doctor Who episode “Resolution”, which was promoted on the ballot, just ahead of an episode of The Good Place, “Pandemonium”.
And as much as I like Michael Shur’s comedy of moral philosophy and demonic manners, I heart simply aches that “The Answer” was given the nod over two of Watchmen’s incredible episodes, “A God Walks into Abar” and “This Extraordinary Being.”
This sort of heartbreak could be avoided if the WSFS Business meeting would come to its senses and adopt the common sense solution that fellow fan Vincent Docherty and I formally proposed two years ago at ConJose (and can be found in Appendix B: 2018 Report of the Hugo Awards Study Committee, on page 27).
Best Dramatic Presentation: Series – Any TV or streaming series of four 60 minute episodes or more than 240 minutes.
Best Dramatic Presentation: Episodic Form – TV or any other dramatic form, 30-89 minutes.
Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form – For films, audio books, theatrical productions, 90 minutes or more.
Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form – Any dramatic form of 30 minutes or less.
Yes, FOUR categories of Dramatic Presentation. If anyone has a better idea, please step forward at the Business Meeting and be prepared to be hammered down.
So, until the proposal above comes to pass (or something like it), my advice to all of you nominating voters stands; if you love this year’s series of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Homecoming, Lovecraft Country or The Umbrella Academy, DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT nominate individual episodes, nominate the whole series. That’s what the Long Form Category was created to honor in the first place.
THE LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK
No one has EVER explained to my complete and utter satisfaction as to why this cannot be a Hugo Award category.
I hope it happens one day. Soon.
In the meantime, CONGRATULATIONS to Naomi Kritzer for her winning book, Catfishing on CatNet. Well Done!
THIS award should be either a Hugo Award category OR renamed to honor the works and memory of Ursula K. Le Guin. At this point, either would suit me just fine. Just Sayin’…
(1) MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM! The 2020 Hugo voting report, which begins with a short list of works that got enough votes to be finalists but were disqualified or withdrawn by the author, showed that Ann Leckie declined her nomination for The Raven Tower. In a blog entry today she explained why: “The Hugos and The Raven Tower”.
…I’ve had a taste of that cookie quite a few times now. It is, let me tell you, one delicious cookie. And when the email came telling me that The Raven Tower was a finalist for the Hugo Award, I thought of the books in that longlist, how often I’d had a bite of this cookie, and how many of the amazing books from 2019 were debuts, and/or were books that, when I’d read them, my first thought was, Oh, this should be on the Hugo ballot. More books than there were spots, for sure. And I realized that I could do something about that, at least in a small way.
And so I withdrew The Raven Tower from consideration.
Let me be perfectly clear–I was overwhelmed at the thought that so many readers felt The Raven Tower deserved to be a Hugo finalist. I have been treasuring that for months. And as I’m sure we all know, these have been months during which such treasures have become extremely important.
I also want to be clear that this is not any sort of permanent decision on my part. I make no promises about withdrawing anything in the future. If I am ever so fortunate as to have a work reach the shortlist again, and I see what seems to me a good reason to withdraw, I will. If I don’t, I won’t. It is, after all, one of the sweetest, most delicious cookies around!
(2) A WEE JOKE. From the August issue of Ansible:
The Retro Hugo Statistics reveal that a single Fan Writer nomination for 1944 work (it took three to get on the final ballot and no one had more than six) went to some chap called David Langford. Ho ho, very satirical….
(3) WHO BENEFITS. Much truth in this.
(4) NOW PLAYING. “The Ballad of Ursula K. Le Guin.”
John Boyne, the award-winning author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, has acknowledged that a cursory Google led to him accidentally including monsters from the popular video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in his new novel.
Boyne’s A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom opens in AD1 and ends 2,000 years later, following a narrator and his family. In one section, the narrator sets out to poison Attila the Hun, using ingredients including an “Octorok eyeball” and “the tail of the red lizalfos and four Hylian shrooms”….
Dana Schwartz rounded up some graphics to support the story. Thread starts here.
…Personally, I am delighted that we are suffering from the challenges of success instead of the problems of failure. The level of mediocrity has risen and the level of excellence has truly surpassed the past. So the challenges in front of any author must look insurmountable, even to the long-time practitioners.
As difficult as all this may seem to anyone who writes, it’s still a good thing. Because it’s no longer about the awards — in fact, it never was about the awards. It has always been about the quality of the work.
That there is so much good work being created these days is a victory for the field, and especially for the readers.
I just wish I had enough time to keep up with it all.
…But let me elucidate one category of Martin’s microaggressions that cut across the entire spectrum of humanity by subtly excluding anyone not part of his old guard: his use of nicknames for writers and editors whose prominence was in days gone by, signaling that no matter who you might be, if you weren’t part of the inner circle back in the day, you’ll never really be a true fan (or pro) now.
In Martin’s very, very long commentaries during yesterday’s Hugo Awards ceremony, Robert Silverberg was “Silverbob,” George Alec Effinger was “Piglet,” and the editor Robert A.W. Lowndes was “Doc.” I think Martin also called Isaac Asimov “Ike” during his trips down memory lane, although I’m not going to sift through the hour and forty-five minutes of his rambling again (fully half of the total running time of the Hugo ceremony) to be sure.
You see? Even someone like me — 40 years a selling author in this field, and now 60 years of age — was never part of that ancient, early prodom. I’ve known Robert Silverberg since 1989 and knew Asimov and Effinger, too, but was never close enough to call them by cutesy nicknames.
And if someone like me feels left out after all these decades in the field, imagine how the newer writers, or the writers whose literary background wasn’t the American SF magazines, felt during the Hugo ceremony.
… Yes, it’s a small thing — that’s why it’s called a MICROaggression — and it’s usually done without consciously intending to exclude or put down someone else, but microaggressions ARE pervasive and exclusionary in effect. We’d all do well to guard against committing them.
(8) JOIN THE BOB & DOUG SHOW. Back in their home theater after taking their show on a bit of a road trip, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their flight to the International Space Station and back aboard the inaugural crewed voyage of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft. This press release — “NASA Astronauts to Discuss Historic SpaceX Crew Dragon Test Flight” – tells how to access their news conference.
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their recently completed SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission to the International Space Station during a news conference at 4:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 4.
The news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency’s website.
This will be a virtual event with no media present, due to the safety restrictions related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Reporters who wish to participate by telephone must call Johnson’s newsroom at 281-483-5111 to RSVP no later than 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #AskNASA.
The 1960 Worldcon, known as Pittcon (Pittsburgh, PA) promoted their masquerade as a “Costume Cabaret”. Following the show, there would be a glee club performance, a “minstrel show of science fiction flavor”, and then a dance (music provided by a “hi-fi”, rather than a live band like some past years)…
(10) ROBERTA POURNELLE OBIT. Roberta Pournelle, widow of Jerry, passed away last night at the age of 85. Her son Frank Pournelle announced services are planned in the coming week. The Chaos Manor page on Facebook saluted her:
An educator for 30 years at the Dorothy Kirby Center in Commerce, Mother of 4, Grandmother, a friend to many; she made order out of Chaos.
Born Roberta Jane Isdell, she married Jerry Pournelle in 1959. ISFDB shows she wrote a nonfiction piece for Analog in 1988, “High-Tech for the Little Red Schoolhouse.”
(11) SUSAN ELLISON OBIT. HarlanEllisonBooks.com announced today that Susan Ellison (1960-2020) died over the weekend at home, the “Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.” No other details were given. Susan and Harlan married in 1986 and were together 32 years until his death in 2018.
Patricia Anne Buard. Patricia was a person of several interests, including theater and theology. In addition to having created works of both original fantasy and historical recreations, her short story “Devil’s Advocate” was published in the Marion Zimmer Bradley anthology book “Red Sun of Darkover”, released in 1987.
David was a Michigan area costumer. His best known creations were Krakatoa, the Volcano God, and St. Helen. Krakatoa appeared at several venues, including Worldcon: Chicon V, in 1991 (photo below). It was quite innovative for its time, featuring several special effects.
August 3, 1951 — The Tales of Tomorrow series premiered with “Verdict From Space”. The series was performed and broadcast live on ABC from 1951 to 1953. There were eighty-five episodes, each twenty-five minutes in length. The series came about through the efforts of Theodore Sturgeon and Mort Abrahams, together with the membership of the Science Fiction League of America. The League who included Theodore Sturgeon, Anthony Boucher, and Isaac Asimov made their work available to the producers. The screenplay was written by Sturgeon and is based on his own story “The Sky Was Full of Ships” first published in the June 1947 issue of Thrilling Wonder. You can watch it here.
(16) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 3, 1841 – Juliana Ewing. Thirty short stories for us; a score of books with our and other stories, plays, book-length fiction, for children. Roger G. Lancelyn Green (1918-1987), one of the Inklings, who suggested the name Chronicles of Narnia to C.S. Lewis, called JE’s the first outstanding child-novels in English literature. Kipling said he knew her novels Jan of the Windmill and Six to Sixteen almost by heart; of Six “here was a history of real people and real things.” From her novelette “The Brownies” (1865) the Baden-Powells got the idea and name for junior Girl Guides. Here is a Caldecott cover for Jackanapes (1884). (Died 1885) [JH]
Born August 3, 1904 — Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which just won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror? (Died 1988.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1920 — P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1922 – Ron Turner. Some sources say his birthday is the 22nd. Twelve dozen covers (I’d say “one gross”, but look what trouble that made for Bilbo Baggins), more if you count posthumous uses. Tit-Bits SF Comics, Space Ace, Rick Random, Stingray, The Daleks, Thunderbirds. Here is Operation Venus. Here is a John Russell Fearn collection. Here is Rick Random and the Terror from Space; here is its opening interior. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born August 3, 1926 — John Gardner. Author of more Bond novels that one would think possible. He’d write fourteen original James Bond novels, more than Fleming wrote, and the novelized versions of two Bond films. He also dip into the Sherlock universe, writing three novels around the character of Professor Moriarty. Rights to film them were optioned but never developed. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1940 — Martin Sheen, 80. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie. (CE)
Born August 3, 1946 – John DeChancie, 74. Best known for nine Castle Perilous and three Skyway books, he’s published ten besides, two dozen shorter stories; if you know he has written as Raul Cabeza de Vaca, and entitled a poem “The Refusal to Mourn the Rejection, by Printed Form, of a Hopeful Writer in Pittsburgh, February, 1992”, you’ll know he can read, and smile, and has been with SF a while. Some fans become pros; some pros become fans, as he did; some are both, as he has been. Plays piano, likes the American Songbook and Rachmaninoff; paints, including a portrait of Rachmaninoff. See this, which includes portraits of Marty Cantor and Chip Hitchcock. [JH]
Born August 3, 1950 — John Landis, 70. He’d make this if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which was the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. (CE)
Born August 3, 1953 – Margaret Bechard, 67. Reed College woman (as an Antioch boy, I think of these things). Children’s fiction, translated into French, Korean, Swedish. Two novels, one shorter story for us; Star Hatchling about first contact won a Golden Duck. Six other novels. [JH]
Born August 3, 1971 – Yoshitoshi ABe, 49. Graphic artist. Usually writes his name in Roman letters, with B capitalized for the sake of early works he signed “AB”. Known to sketch with just his finger and an iPad. Thirty self-published books; artbooks; covers; half a dozen each of animé and manga. Here is his cover for Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill (A. Smith tr. 2009; hello, Pete Young). Here is Walking the Dragon from YA’s artbook Gaisokyu (“Palace”; 2007). [JH]
Born August 3, 1972 — Brigid Brannagh, 48. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish redheaded colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The Embrace, American Gothic, Sliders, Enterprise (as a bartender), Roar, Touched by an Angel, Charmed, Early Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), Grimm, Supernatural and currently on Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes. (CE)
Born August 3, 1979 – Evangeline Lilly, 41. Actress, author. She was in Lost, Real Steel, two Peter Jackson hobbit films, three Marvel superhero films – to misquote Winston Churchill, who said a Wasp couldn’t sting thrice? So far two Squickerwonker short stories for children have appeared, one translated into Portuguese. [JH]
(17) A TOTAL SURPRISE. After Hastings author Steven H Silver tells Lawrence Shoen about eating reindeer steak in Stockholm as part of “Eating Authors: Steven H Silver”. However, the cuisine is overshadowed in this great anecdote about something that happened at dinner —
SHS: Honestly, there are a lot of things I don’t remember about my most memorable meal because it sticks out not because of the food or the company or even the location, but rather because of an incident that occurred during the meal….
He’s starred in over 30 movies but how many of those has Godzilla actually died in? The first movie is a somber monster movie with the title creature is intended to be a walking metaphor for nuclear weapons. The movie’s huge success led to a franchise that is still running nearly 70 years later, with the monster appearing in sequels, reboots and remakes, in addition to comics, novels and video games where he’s battled against all sorts of creative monsters.
(19) MAD, I SAY. Could it be that Dave Freer’s message in “F-IW” at Mad Genius Club is “When you’re in your time machine on the way back to kill baby Hitler, don’t forget to stop off in the Sixties and take over traditional publishing”?
…Both of these [old] books had a huge effect on my young mind. Yes, I can see the Woke and modern left rubbing their hands (and other parts, never mentioned) in glee, saying ‘Yes! We were RIGHT that we had to capture publishing and exclude any badthink. Just think if we’d had the dominance we have now over traditional publishing, back in 1960, even evil people like Freer would have been won (Hi: I’m Dave the Divider. If it wasn’t for me, so we are told by the self-elected authorities, sf/fantasy would be united and singing Kumbaya. See what a fate I saved you from!).
(20) CANON FIRED. Meg Elison says you’re excused from reading the SFF “canon.”
The radio show “Washington Goes to the Moon” two decades ago shed new light on the political battles around the Apollo program, and provided a wealth of material for later historians. Dwayne Day interviews the man who wrote and produced the show.
(22) FANTASY NETWORK FREEBIES. Some of us encountered The Fantasy Network for the first time watching CoNZealand events. They also have lots of free content. For example, the 2017 movie Magellan:
When NASA picks up three signals of extraterrestrial origin coming from within our own solar system, the space agency expedites a mission to investigate the sources. As Earth’s lone emissary, they send Commander Roger Nelson, the test pilot for an experimental spacecraft call the Magellan, assisted by an onboard A.I. named Ferdinand.
Many books function perfectly as standalones; many series end well. Plots are resolved, characters are given their reward or punishment. But there are also books that seem to cry out for a sequel and series that are never finished, leaving readers frustrated. We want more!
Alexis Gilliland’s Rosinante series is on this list —
… I discovered the series is funnier than one would expect from plotlines that feature banking crises, union negotiations, and the sudden collapse of the dominant government in North America. There were just three books in the series—Revolution from Rosinante (1981), Long Shot for Rosinante (1981), The Pirates of Rosinante (1982)—but the setting was expansive and interesting enough that more stories were possible, perhaps elsewhere in Gilliland’s Solar System. Thus far, none have materialized.
It’s no exaggeration to say this year feels like a horror movie. And now, a few filmmakers are making it official.
All over YouTube, you can find inventive homemade horror shorts taking the pandemic as inspiration. (They come from Brazil, from Canada and from, well, Funny or Die.) And a new movie Host, filmed over twelve weeks in quarantine and entirely on Zoom, debuted on the horror channel Shudder last week.
Call it “quar-horror.”
Among the most chilling of the YouTube offerings is Stay At Home, part horror movie and part PSA from a filmmaker in New Orleans.
“I literally just grabbed a box, and I set up the camera on a tripod and gave myself a scenario,” says Kenneth Brown, a former Uber driver turned horror auteur. “And the story started to build and build and build.”
Brown went to film school, and you can tell. Based on the myth of Pandora’s Box and the evening news, Stay At Home is elegantly lit and crafted. As of this writing, it’s racked up nearly 200,000 views on YouTube.
Part of what makes Stay At Home so effective — and heartfelt — is the insistent drone of news anchors discussing the mounting carnage. “That’s everything I need to say as far as reaching African Americans, which is the population most vulnerable to this virus,” says Brown, who is Black himself.
But escapism is also the point, say Nathan Crooker and James Gannon. Their upcoming quar-horror, called Isolation, just wrapped principal photography. The two produced the film; Crooker is also its director. Isolation is an anthology; nine interconnected shorts by different directors who filmed their movies using only resources immediately available to them.
Saving the giant panda is one of the big success stories of conservation.
Decades of efforts to create protected habitat for the iconic mammal has pulled it back from the brink of extinction.
But, according to a new study, while many other animals in the same landscape have benefited from this conservation work, some have lost out.
Leopards, snow leopards, wolves and Asian wild dogs have almost disappeared from the majority of protected areas.
Driven to near extinction by logging, poaching and disease, their loss could lead to “major shifts, even collapse, in ecosystems”, said researchers in China.
Without the likes of leopards and wolves, deer and livestock can roam unchecked, causing damage to natural habitats, with knock-on effects for other wildlife, including pandas themselves.
By protecting the panda’s forests, conservationists believed they would be protecting not only the charismatic black-and-white animal, but the many other species roaming the same habitat.
But while that has worked for some other wildlife, the efforts do not appear to have worked for large carnivores, such as the leopard and wolf.
A team of researchers now says a broader – holistic – approach is needed to manage the ecosystem in which the panda lives – one that ensures key species don’t lose out.
(26) SHORT LEAPS FORWARD. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler interviews Catherine Hardwicke, whose new Quibi series “Don’t Look Deeper” is set “15 minutes into the future” and has a teenage girl as a protagonist who may or may not be an android. Hardwicke discusses what it was like to direct a story delivered in 10-minute chunks and why star Helena Howard is a “strong and vulnerable” actor Hardwicke enjoyed working with. “Can Catherine Hardwicke get you to watch Quibi?”
Why Quibi? Were the shorter episodes appealing?
Actually, the script was written for short episodes. It was written in chapters. I thought that was quite interesting when I first read the script. I was like, “Wow, that’s fascinating,” because the short format does tie in — it weaves in directly with what’s going on with [Aisha’s] memory. We tell the story in a non-linear way as her memories are being erased and restored. The technology that we’re exploring, showing it on a new technological platform with the vertical and horizontal, it all seemed to kind of work together in an interesting way. So this leap of faith — that [Quibi founder Jeffrey] Katzenberg said let’s try this format — I thought that was an interesting challenge to dive into it and see what happens.
(27) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Dragonball Evolution Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that when the hero of the film has to collect seven dragonballs to make a wish that dragonballs are as powerful as “blowing out candles on a birthday cake.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cliff, Madame Hardy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) TAKING NOTES. I’d love to see more panel reports of this kind.
(2) FAN FUNDS AUCTION. Alison Scott announced that today’s CoNZealand Fan Funds auction raised 2190$NZD for GUFF, TAFF, DUFF and FFANZ.
(3) YOU GOT YOUR POLITICS IN MY FICTION! This happened to a CoNZealand panel participant yesterday.
Schluessel also reports getting dinged for having a Black Lives Matter background. Which is pretty bizarre, because there’s a Black Lives Matter banner in CoNZealand’s virtual Exhibit Hall, as seen in the screencap below. However, Schluessel says “CoNZealand has extended me a full apology, which I have accepted.”
(4) ROTSLER AWARD EXHIBIT. CoNZealand’s virtual exhibit hall includes many things, such as the Rotsler Award exhibit (membership required to access) with artwork from each year’s award winner. Click the link, select “Boldy Go,” select Exhibits, and once there, click on Displays. The Rotsler link is last on the bottom right.
(5) PLEASE UNSIGN THEM. When she saw her sff group’s name listed as a signer of the Open Letter to WSFS about the Saudi Arabia Worldcon bid, Fran Dowd, “Sofa” of the Sheffield Science Fiction and Fantasy society posted a denial on the group’s Facebook page.
I’d like to put it on record that I have no idea how this group appeared as a signatory to the Jeddah letter. Whatever our personal feelings might be, I would not expect anyone to sign such a statement on our behalf without consultation at the least.
I have spent this morning, when I would actually rather be at the current Worldcon, trying to spread the word. Apologies have been given to the NZ Chairs and to Kevin Standlee. Given the spread of social media, getting a retraction would be meaningless.
I apologise to any members of the group who have been dragged into this. If it is of any help, please point people to this statement.
Signed by me in my capacity as Chair When We Need One.
The 1945 Retro Hugo for Best Novelette goes to “City” by Clifford D. Simak. This isn’t a huge surprise, because the City cycle is well regarded, still in print and Clifford D. Simak was one of the best writers of the Golden Age. “City” is a pretty good story, too, though not the best City story of 1944 or even the best City novelette, because “Census”, which didn’t make the ballot, is better.
That said, this was not the category I wanted to see Simak win. In fact, I was hoping that C.L. Moore, either with or without Henry Kuttner, would win Best Novelette, because both “No Woman Born” (which finished second) and “The Children’s Hour” (which finished unfairly in sixth place) are great stories.
Though I’m glad that “Arena” by Fredric Brown was its “Genocide is good” message didn’t win, because I feared that it might.
(7) MORE OR LESS RETRO-HUGOS? Charles Stross thinks pausing the Retro-Hugos for about a quarter century might address some of the competing values now in conflict. Thread starts here.
Alasdair Stuart laments the Campbell and Lovecraft Retro wins. Thread starts here.
The US space agency’s Perseverance robot has left Earth on a mission to try to detect life on Mars.
The one-tonne, six-wheeled rover was launched out of Florida by an Atlas rocket on a path to intercept the Red Planet in February next year.
When it lands, the Nasa robot will also gather rock and soil samples to be sent home later this decade.
Perseverance is the third mission despatched to Mars inside 11 days, after launches by the UAE and China.
Lift-off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station occurred at 07:50 local time (12:50 BST; 11:50 GMT).
Nasa made this mission one of its absolute priorities when the coronavirus crisis struck, establishing special work practices to ensure Perseverance met its launch deadline.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a challenge, it’s very stressful, but look – the teams made it happen and I’ll tell you, we could not be more proud of what this integrated team was able to pull off here, so it’s very, very exciting,” Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters.
…BRENDAN BYRNE, BYLINE: When the Perseverance rover lands on Mars in February, it will unpack a suite of scientific experiments to help uncover ancient signs of life on the red planet – high-tech cameras, spectrometers, sensors and…
ROGER WIENS: This is the voice of Roger Wiens speaking to you through the Mars microphone on SuperCam.
BYRNE: Roger Wiens is the principal investigator of the rover SuperCam, a slew of instruments, including a camera, laser and spectrometer, that will examine the rocks and soil of Mars for organic compounds, a hint that there might be further evidence of past life. Tucked away inside the SuperCam is the Mars microphone.
WIENS: And so it is there to listen to anything interesting, first of all, on Mars. And so we should hear wind sounds. We should hear sounds of the rover. We might hear things that we never expected to hear. And so that’s going to be interesting to find out.
BYRNE: The mic will also listen as Perseverance’s onboard laser blasts nearby rocks.
ADDIE DOVE: You might think we’re going to hear, like, pew pew, but we probably won’t.
BYRNE: University of Central Florida planetary scientist Addie Dove says the sounds of Martian rock blasts will help scientists determine if they might contain organic material, evidence of life on Mars. But it will actually sound more like this.
(SOUNDBITE OF ROCK BLASTS)
(10) JOSE SARAMAGO NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the July 24 Financial Times, Sarah Hemming discusses a new adaptation of Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago’s sf novel Blindness at the Donmar Warehouse in London (donmarwarehouse.com). Donmar’s director, Michael Longhurst says the production will be a hybrid of theatre and “sound installation” that will let the theatre hold four shows a day. I can’t tell from the review how much actual theatre there is in the production. The only Donmar production I’ve seen was an all-female Julius Caesar on PBS that had an impressive performance by Dame Harriet Walter as Brutus.
Lockdown has emphasised the importance of sound for many of us from that early experience of hearing birdsong in unusually quiet city centres, to a keener awareness, prompted by physical separation, of the way we listen. And several online drama offerings, such as Simon McBurney’s The Encounter and Sound&Fury’s wartime meditation Charlie Ward At Home, have used sophisticated recording to steep their homebound audiences in other worlds and prompt reflection.
Blindness, in a sense, builds on that (there will be a digital download for those unable to get to the theatre). So why attend in person? Longhurst suggests the very act of being in a space will change the quality of listening–and reflect the way we have all had individual journeys through the collective experience of lockdown. And while this is a one-off piece about a society in an epidemic, created for an industry in a pandemic, that physical presence marks a move towards full performance.
(11) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
July 1987 — Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks was published by Ace Books. This urban fantasy would get its own trailer courtesy of Will Shetterly who financed it instead of running for Governor. You’ll no doubt recognize many of the performers here. Decades later, it was scheduled to have a hardcover edition from Tor Books but it got canceled after the books were printed. And the music in War for The Oaks would later be done by Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull and other members of Minneapolis fandom.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 30, 1800 – Aleksandr Veltman. Order of St. Vladimir (bravery) while in the Russian army, eventually Director of the Museum of Armaments. Poetry praised by Pushkin, second wife’s novel praised by Gorky. The Wanderer in an imaginary journey parodies travel notes. Koshchei the Deathless parodies historical adventures. The Year 3448 is supposedly by Martin Zadek (who also finds his way into Pushkin and Zamyatin). The Forebears of Kalimeros has time-travel (by riding a hippogriff; “Kalimeros”, a nudge at Napoleon, is the Greek equivalent of Buonaparte) to meet Alexander and Aristotle. Tolstoy and Dostoevskyapplauded AV too. (Died 1870) [JH]
Born July 30, 1873 – Curtis Senf. Four dozen covers and hundreds of interiors for Weird Tales, after which what the Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists modestly calls “a more lucrative career as a commercial artist in the Chicago advertising industry”. Here is the Oct 27 WT; here is the Jan 30; here is the Mar 32. (Died 1949) [JH]
Born July 30, 1911 — Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was of course a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course most of us do. (Did 1992.) (CE)
Born July 30, 1927 — Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.) (CE)
Born July 30, 1947 – John Stith, 73. Eight novels, a dozen shorter stories, translated into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian. Wrote about John Kennedy (i.e. our JK; indeed John R.; 1945-2009) in 1992 (for the limited ed’n of “Nova in a Bottle” bound with “Encore”), interviewed by him in 1993 (SF Chronicle 164). Did his own cover for a reprinting of Death Tolls. [JH]
Born July 30, 1948 — Carel Struycken, 72. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams Family, Addams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen… (CE)
Born July 30, 1961 — Laurence Fishburne, 59. In The Matrix films. His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones on the other hand is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man. (CE)
Born July 30, 1966 — Jess Nevins, 54. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. I didn’t know he was an author ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident. (CE)
Born July 30, 1967 – Ann Brashares, 53. Famous for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (that’s the U.S. meaning of “pants”, in this case a magical pair of blue jeans), a NY Times Best-Seller, and its sequels, films, companions. Two more novels for us, one other. Indies Choice Book Award, Quill Award. Philosophy major (yay!) at Barnard, 1989. [JH]
Born July 30, 1971 – Kristie Cook, 49. Nine novels, a dozen shorter stories (some with co-authors; publishes Havenwood Falls shared-world stories, some wholly by others). Loves cheese, chocolate, coffee, husband, sons, motorcycle. “No, I’m not crazy. I’m just a writer.” [JH]
Born July 30, 1974 – Jacek Dukaj, 46. Ten novels, half a dozen shorter stories, translated into Bulgarian, Czech, English (he’s a Pole), German, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Russian, Slovak. Six Zajdel Awards. EU Prize for Literature. Another writer with a Philosophy degree, from Jagiellonian University even. His Culture.plpage (in English) is here. [JH]
Born July 30, 1975 — Cherie Priest, 45. Her southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how they are. Anyone read these? (CE)
(13) NOW WITH MORE MASK. Ray’s playing it safe, I see. Incidentally, the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum is accepting RSVP’s here for entry during RBEM’s Ray Bradbury Centennial Celebration on August 22, 2020.
(14) OOPS. Marc Zicree has issued a video “Apology to the Science Fiction Writers of America,” for using their membership list to publicize Space Command.
(15) A DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER. And not only that, we line up for the opportunity!
(16) BACURAU. The Criterior Channel’s August lineup includes Bacurau on August 20, an exclusive streaming premiere, featuring an interview with directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles.
… After all, who doesn’t periodically yearn to flee the nightmarish world we now live in? A persistent feeling of helplessness, frustration, anger and mild despair has emerged as the “New Normal” — which is one reason my recent reviews and essays tend to emphasize escapism, often into books from the past. A similar impulse lies behind the pruning of my basement hoard. Going through my many boxes, I am no longer the plaything of forces beyond my control. I have, to use a vogue term, agency. I alone decide which books to keep, which to let go.
However, making these decisions has turned out to be harder than I expected.
Here’s an example of what I mean. I’m fond of a slightly overwritten travel book called “A Time of Gifts” by English writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. It recounts in striking detail a walk across half of Europe undertaken by the young Leigh Fermor in 1933. Somehow, I possess four copies of this minor classic: a Penguin paperback that I read and marked up, an elegant Folio Society edition bought at the Friends of the Montgomery County Library bookstore, a later issue of the original John Murray hardback, and a first American edition in a very good dust jacket acquired for a bargain price at the Second Story Books warehouse. Given the space-saving principle of eliminating duplicates, I should keep just one copy. Which one?
You draw seven cards. You look at your hand. It would be perfect if you had that one card.
Too bad it costs $50. And your local game store is closed anyway.
Depending on where you lie on the nerd spectrum, you may or may not have heard of Magic: The Gathering. It’s a trading card game that’s been in production for almost three decades. Even if you haven’t heard of it or played it, you probably know someone who has. It’s one of the most popular trading card games of all time, and that isn’t an exaggeration; there are millions of Magic: The Gathering players worldwide.
…Before COVID-19 hit the Magic community, players packed into local game stores to sling spells and blow off steam. Now, as players move toward the online versions, there are additional financial hurdles to clear.
There’s a reason it’s called Magic: The Gathering. Most of the fun comes from squaring off against other players, catching the clandestine tells of your opponent as they draw powerful spells. Game stores across the country offer opportunities to play; they host tournaments, stock up on new cards and teach new wizards how to play.
But even if veteran players and shop owners welcome new Planeswalkers with open arms, how accessible is Magic: The Gathering?
Players can craft a variety of decks, and if they’re playing the more common formats of the game, a deck can cost anywhere from about $275 to $834 or more. Not only are full decks expensive, but so are individual cards. The card Thoughtseize, for instance, has a current value of around $25 per copy. If a deck contains four copies of a single card (the maximum), just that one card would bring the price of a deck up by $100. And there are much more expensive cards on the market.
…There is an online version of the game, but Magic Online isn’t cheap either. And while it isn’t as expensive as its cardboard counterpart, a player still has to buy new digital versions of physical cards they already own. On top of that, a Magic Online account costs $10 just to set up. And while a Magic veteran might jump at the opportunity to play online, a new player may feel less inclined to pay the fee when there are other online deck-building games, like Hearthstone, that are free to try.
In 2018, Magic’s publisher Wizards of the Coast released a free, digital version of the game called Magic: The Gathering Arena. It’s a more kid-friendly online option for new Planeswalkers, but it still has the same Magic charm for older players. Arena does include in-game purchases, but players can obtain better cards by grinding out a lot of games instead of spending extra money. And while Arena can be a great way to introduce a new player to the online format, if they don’t want to empty their wallets, they’ll have to get used to losing for a while.
[Thanks to John Hertz, N., Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Jeffrey Smith, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(2) PETITIONS AND PUBLISHING. Seanan McGuire has a quite interesting series of tweets inspired by social media petitions flogging certain authors to produce their next book now, in which she tries to open readers’ eyes about the traditional publishing process. Thread starts here.
(3) ABOUT THE GUARDIAN’S “OPEN LETTER” COVERAGE. Chris Barkley posted his letter of complaint sent to The Guardian’s Reader Service about their article.
I am writing to complain about Alison Flood’s article on the Saudi Arabian bid to hold the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention.
While Ms. Flood’s reporting was informative, it did lack ANY reaction directly from the current co-chairs of the current Worldcon in New Zealand (Kelly Buehler and Norman Cates) or any member of the Worldcon who could explain the function of the Constitution of the World Science Fiction Convention and how it relates to the multi-year bidding process works.
Nor had she any quotes or commentary from any other fans who could have offered additional information or insights about sf fandom.
It would be very much appreciated if she were to update this important story with more of these elements rather than the somewhat sensationalized version that was posted.
Chris M. Barkley Cincinnati, Ohio USA
I have worked in Worldcon Press Offices since 1983. In this day and age there is NO EXCUSE for sloppy reporting…
(4) TOASTMASTER WARMS UP THE AUDIENCE. George R.R. Martin previews the CoNZealand Hugo Ceremony in “Worldcon… Virtually” at Not A Blog.
…Anyway, here is how the Hugos are going to work… I have already pre-recorded all of my opening remarks, introductions of the guest presenters (we will have several), amusing (one hopes) anecdotes and bits of history, discussions of each category, and readings of the names of the finalists (in the cases where I am presenting myself, rather than throwing the ball to a guest presenter). ConNZealand has all those videos. The rest of it will be live streamed from my theatre in Santa Fe, the Jean Cocteau, where a member of worldcon’s tech team will be helping me Zoom. I will have the envelopes with the names of the winners sealed therein. I may actually have a Hugo to wave about.
So the drill will go like this: for each category, you will get a pre-recorded video of me as a lead-in. Then I will either read the finalists, so throw it to another presenter who will do the same. Most of their remarks are pre-recorded as well. Then back to me, this time live at the JCC, where I will rip open the envelope and announce the winner. Then we cut to the happy winner, somewhere in the world… assuming they are in front of their computers and know how to Zoom and all. (No, unlike the other major awards shows, we have no plans to show the fake smiles on the faces of the sad losers). The happy winner will make an acceptance speech, long or short as may be, that is entirely up to them. Then back to me… either live me at the JCC, or pre-recorded me for the next category.
And on and on, starting with the Lodestar and ending with Best Novel….
(5) CONZEALAND DAILY NEWZINE. Cruise Log has found a substitute for the Worldcon daily zine’s usual “warm body count” —
1400 people have logged into the CoNZealand discord server as of 09:00 Thursday morning!
The new collection of Peter Pan British Isles 50p coins have been developed in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital to celebrate 90 years since author, J.M. Barrie, gifted all future rights of the book to them.
The new set will be the first ever collection of its kind in the UK – but won’t be released by the Royal Mint and therefore won’t be entering circulation.
Prices start at £6.25, and for every coin sold, a donation will go directly to GOSH Charity to support the hospital’s most urgent needs: fund support services, pioneering research, equipment and refurbishment.
(7) DREAM FOUNDRY WRITING CONTEST. The Dream Foundry Writing Contest will be open for submissions from August 10 to October 11, 2020. Full guidelines here.
We’re looking for complete and finalized stories of speculative fiction of up to 10,000 words. This year, we’re proud to announce monetary prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places.
1st: $1000; 2nd: $500; 3rd: $200
There is no submission fee. All rights remain with the creators.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 29, 1953 — George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was directed by Byron Haskin from the screenplay by Barré Lyndon. It starred Gene Barry and Anne Robinson. It was narrated by Cedric Hardwicke. The film was both a critical and box office success earning back its budget in its first release. And it would win an Academy Award for Special Effects. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 29, 1876 — Maria Ouspenskaya. In the Forties, she did a run of pulp films, to wit The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and Tarzan and the Amazons. A decade or so earlier, she was in Beyond Tomorrow. (Died 1949.) (CE)
Born July 29, 1878 – Don Marquis. (name pronounced “mar-kwis”) At The Sun, New York, a column “The Sun Dial” 1912-1922; at The Herald Tribune, “The Tower” (later “The Lantern”); three novels; plays, poems, essays, sketches. Introduced, famously and of interest to us, a cockroach whose writings DM found in the typewriter next morning; the cockroach wrote by diving onto the keys, could not get capitals, and so is known as archy; in turn archy knew a cat, mehitabel; they, illustrated by George Herriman who meanwhile drew Krazy Kat, outcreated everything. (Died 1937) [JH]
Born July 29, 1888 — Farnsworth Wright. Editor of Weird Tales. editing an amazing 179 issues from November 1924–March 1940. Mike Ashley in EoSF says, “Wright developed WT from a relatively routine horror pulp magazine to create what has become a legend.” His own genre fiction is generally considered undistinguished. He also edited during the Thirties, Oriental Stories and The Magic Carpet. The work available digitally is a poem, “After Two Nights of the Ear-ache”. (Died 1940.) (CE)
Born July 29, 1907 — Melvin Belli. Sole genre role is that of Gorgan (also known as the “Friendly Angel”) in the Star Trek “And the Children Shall Lead” episode. Koenig objected to his playing this role believing the role should have gone to someone who was an actor. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born July 29, 1927 — Jean E. Karl. She founded Atheneum Children’s Books, and she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. As an author, she wrote three genre novels, Strange Tomorrow, Beloved Benjamin Is Waiting and But We Are Not of Earth, and a reasonable amount of short fiction, all of which is In the Clordian Sweep series. Nine of those stories are in The Turning Point collection. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born July 29, 1939 — Curtis C. Smith, 81. Editor of Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, plus two genre biographies, Olaf Stapledon: A Bibliography with co-author Harvey J. Satty, and Welcome to the Revolution: The Literary Legacy of Mack Reynolds. Not active since the mid-Eighties as near as I can tell. (CE)
Born July 29, 1941 — David Warner, 79. Being Lysander in thatA Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful. (CE)
Born July 29, 1945 – Sharon Creech, 74. First person to win both the Newbery & Carnegie Medals. Three novels for us, many more (two, for adults, under another name). Some verse, some prose. “While teaching literature I learned so much about writing”; Website here. [JH]
Born July 29, 1948 – John Harris, 72. Two hundred covers, as many interiors. Two artbooks. Chesley for Lifetime Achievement. Commissions for NASA, Royal Caribbean cruise ships, Philips, Shell. Here is Stand on Zanzibar. Here is The Ringworld Throne. Here is Ancillary Mercy. Here is The Best of Gregory Benford. [JH]
Born July 29, 1953 – David Lee Anderson, 67. A score of covers, half that many interiors. Lately Oklahoma landmarks and landscapes. Here is the Oct 93 Tomorrow. Here is A Glimpse of Splendor (collection). Here is ISS Repairs (Int’l Space Station). Here is Rioghain (“ree-ann”) from Afterwalker (D. Glaser dir.; in post-production as of Mar 2020). Website here. [JH]
Born July 29, 1956 – Chitra Divakaruni, Ph.D., 64. Five novels for us; much more. The Palace of Illusions, her re-telling of the Mahabharata from Drapaudi’s perspective, was an India best-seller for a year; here (Web archive) is an India Reads review whose author confesses having known the Mahabharata only from television. American Book Award, Light of India Award, Pushcart Prize, Ginsberg Poetry Prize. Website here. [JH]
Born July 29, 1969 – Forrest Aguirre, 51. Two novels, five dozen shorter stories in Apex, Asimov’s, Vasterien. Edited two Leviathan anthologies (one with Jeff Vandermeer; World Fantasy Award). Speaks Swahili. Collections, The Butterfly Artist, Fugue XXIX. Ranks Thank You, Jeeves above Gorky Park (agreed). Interview at SF Site here. [JH]
…However, I realised that the Google n-gram site would provide a neat empirical confirmation of Mars bias in popular culture. I did a search on Martians and Venusians, choosing the inhabitants rather than the planets to avoid hits about astronomy or the gods….
If you’ve ever wanted to build a real and working Windows 95 PC inside Minecraft, now is the time. A new VM Computers mod has been created for Minecraft that allows players to order computer parts from a satellite orbiting around a Minecraft world and build a computer that actually boots Windows 95 and a variety of other operating systems.
The mod uses VirtualBox, free and open-source virtual machine software, to run operating systems like Windows 95. Within Minecraft you simply place a PC case block and then use it to create virtual hard drives to install operating systems from ISO files….
I like a small book. I trust a small book. I appreciate a small book for all the things it doesn’t do, for all the stories it does not tell.
Big books? They’re dangerous in their excess. Bloated (often) with words they do not need and larded (often) with detail that no one asked for. You can slip into a big book and lose your way too easily. But a small book is intimate. Close. Every word it says matters. The writer of a small book knows that every page has to count.
Cherie Dimaline wrote a small book called Empire Of Wild. It isn’t small in pages (320, give or take) or in words (it has the normal amount), but it is tiny in consequence. In the scope and reach of the story it tells.
It is about Joan, who has lost her husband. And who means to get him back. That’s all. There are no worlds to be saved, no history to be altered. Joan’s actions, and the reverberations of those actions, are felt only close by. Her family, her community, the barrooms and living rooms and Walmart parking lots of the small towns around Georgian Bay, Ontario are the only places where her footsteps are felt. And that’s enough. That’s more than enough.
…Down in its bones, Empire Of Wild is a monster story. Mythic but not epic, swimming in Indigenous medicine, not magic. Calling it urban fantasy gives it a gloss it doesn’t possess. Magical realism implies something absurdist, asynchronous, and doesn’t speak to the way that the medicine of the Métis elders is woven into every breath and line.
Here, Dimaline uses the Métis legend of the rogarou to square her narrative architecture — to give weight and nightmares to Joan’s private hurt. The rogarou is the bogeyman that scares children home before it gets too dark outside. It makes Métis girls walk home in pairs. It keeps men from doing wrong by women, each other or the community. The rogarou is part man, part dog, a wolfman that makes itself through bad choices. And Joan believes in the rogarou because she’s seen one before. She knows the smell of one when it’s close — and with a cell phone, some salt bone, her aunt Ajean’s medicine and her chubby, mopey nephew Zeus by her side, she knows that she’s going to have to meet one, fight one, slay one to bring Victor back home.
The Marine Corps is moving ahead with plans to test a wearable robotic exoskeleton that conjures up images of that power-loader suit Ellen Ripley wore to take down a space monster in the movie “Aliens.”
By the end of the year, the service will have a Guardian XO Alpha full-body robotic exoskeleton that allows one person to do the work of four to 10 people, depending on the task. The wearable suit can do hours of physical labor that would otherwise be impossible for a Marine to do alone, lifting and moving up to 200 pounds of gear repeatedly for eight hours straight.
We’re all familiar with migration: Wildebeests gallop across Africa, Monarch butterflies flit across the Americas … but did you know that forests migrate, too?
In his new book The Journeys of Trees, science writer Zach St. George explores an agonizingly slow migration, as forests creep inch by inch to more hospitable places.
Individual trees, he writes, are rooted in one spot. But forests? Forests “are restless things.” As old trees die and new ones sprouts up, the forest is — ever so slightly — moving.
“The migration of a forest is just many trees sprouting in the same direction,” St. George writes. “Through the fossils that ancient forests left behind, scientists can track their movement over the eons. They shuffle back and forth across continents, sometimes following the same route more than once, like migrating birds or whales.”
…“Putting together a spacecraft to Mars and not making a mistake is hard no matter what,” said NASA deputy project manager Matt Wallace. “Trying to do it during the middle of a pandemic is a lot harder. Everyone told us we could not have come up with a better name than Perseverance.” (Wallace and others in this story spoke during or in videos presented at a virtual June press conference.)
Despite this seismic hurdle, the Mars 2020 rover is on track for a July 30 launch toward its seven-month, 314-million-mile journey to the Red Planet. Its two-year mission is to gather samples suggesting past microscopic life for subsequent retrieval and return to Earth, explore the 4-billion-year-old geology of the Jezero Crater landing site, and demonstrate technologies for future robotic and human exploration. The mission has cost $2.4 billion from development through launch, with another $300 million earmarked for operations and surface science.
Smart glasses company North has told customers that their $600 (£460) purchases will stop working in a few days’ time.
The Canadian company, recently purchased by Google, says its Focals glasses will cease functioning on Friday.
From then, owners will not be able to use “any features” of the glasses, or connect to the companion app.
But the company has also said it will automatically refund all customers.
It promised to send the purchase price back to the original payment method, and to contact those customers whose refunds it could not process.
At the end of June, North announced it was being acquired by Google, and would not release a planned second-generation device.
It also said it would “wind down” its first generation smart glasses, released last year.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The YouTube algorithm says I should watch “The Secret Every Tolkien Nerd Knows” by Diana Glyer. What do you think of the algorithm’s judgment?
[Thanks to Rich Lynch, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]
CoNZealand presented the 1945 Retro-Hugos today. The results included the first tie in the award’s history, for the Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form Retro-Hugo. (The full voting stats are online, and Deputy Hugo Awards Administrator Nicholas Whyte has done a quick analysis here.)
In addition to the regular Hugos, which will be presented later this week, the WSFS Constitution permits Retrospective Hugo Awards to be presented by a Worldcon held an even multiple of 25 years after a year after 1939 at which no Hugo Awards were presented. Due to World War II, there was no Worldcon in 1945, and no Retro-Hugos have previously been given for sff published in the 1944 eligibility year.
The winners of the Retro Hugo Awards 1945 are:
“Shadow Over Mars” (The Nemesis from Terra) by Leigh Brackett (Startling Stories, Fall 1944)
“Killdozer!” by Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science Fiction , November 1944)
“City” by Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction , May 1944)
Best Short Story
“I, Rocket” by Ray Bradbury (Amazing Stories , May 1944)
The Cthulhu Mythos by H. P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and others
Best Related Work
“The Science-Fiction Field” by Leigh Brackett (Writer’s Digest, July 1944)
Best Graphic Story or Comic
Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk” by Jerry Siegel, Ira Yarbrough and Joe Shuster (Detective Comics, Inc.)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
The Canterville Ghost, screenplay by Edwin Harvey Blum from a story by Oscar Wilde, directed by Jules Dassin (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM))
The Curse of the Cat People, written by DeWitt Bodeen, directed by Gunther V. Fritsch and Robert Wise (RKO Radio Pictures)
Best Editor, Short Form
John W. Campbell, Jr.
Best Professional Artist
Voice of the Imagi-Nation , edited by Forrest J Ackerman and Myrtle R. Douglas
Best Fan Writer
Update 08/11/2020: Added Ira Yarbrough’s name to creators of Superman, per correction issued by Hugo Administrators.
…But what of the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards finalists? There is unlikely to be a Voter Packet for these, so how are Hugo Awards voters to go about making an informed choice here? Fortunately, many of the works that will be on the ballot are available online, either on the Internet Archive or elsewhere. Below I have compiled links to as many of these as I could find, and provided information about whether items are in print or otherwise….
MINAS TIRITH — The White Council of the Wise issued a decree today that all fellowships in Middle Earth shall be no larger than five companions for at least the next quarter-age to help slow the spread of the Samund-01 curse that has already killed over 30,000 elves, dwarves, and men.
…It does feel like we’re living through another Black Death.
But in recent days, as the horrors of the coronavirus pandemic have begun to unfold, I’ve also been reminded of similarities of this pandemic to the Blitz:
1. The disruption of our daily lives. The orderly schedules of the British people was completely upended by the Blitz. People found themselves sleeping under the kitchen table or in basements or tube shelters. They went to work in the morning after a sleepless night with bombs falling overhead, only to find that their place of work was closed or bombed out, and when they went home, they found that had been bombed out, too. Everything changed in an instant. Theaters and museums were closed, and the way of life they’d always known disappeared overnight as if it had never been….
She comes up with three more parallels before concluding –
Everybody’s rising to the occasion, and, in spite of my having occasional worried thoughts about all of us becoming the crazy characters in Shirley Jackson’s WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, we’re doing great. When this is all over, we’re going to be able to say, just like the British, “This was their finest hour.”
(4) SEEKING DONATIONS. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM) asks for help to open ‘The Martian Chronicles’ exhibit area for the Ray Bradbury Centennial celebration in “Green Town” in 2020. The donation link is here.
(5) WHO MEMORIAL. “Farewell, Sarah Jane” on the official Doctor Who YouTube channel.
Today marks the anniversary of the passing of Elisabeth Sladen, who played the Doctor’s friend Sarah Jane Smith. In a new video, scripted by Russell T Davies and narrated by Jacob Dudman, Sarah Jane Smith’s closest friends come together to say “Farewell, Sarah Jane”.
Sadie Miller, the actress daughter of the late Elizabeth Sladen, is boarding the TARDIS in the role her mother made famous on the iconic BBC sci-fi series — that of intrepid investigative reporter Sarah Jane Smith — in Big Finish‘s highly anticipated audio drama Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 19, 1907 — Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood TV series, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.)
Born April 19, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at The Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.)
Born April 19, 1933 — W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’ Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.)
Born April 19, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 84. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler.
Born April 19, 1936 — Tom Purdom, 84. There’s very little on him on the web, so I’ll let Michael Swanwick speak for him in the introduction to his Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons collection: ‘How highly do I regard Tom’s fiction? So highly that I wrote the introduction to the collection — and I hate writing introductions. They’re a lot of work. But these stories deserve enormous praise, so I was glad to do it.’ He’s written five novels and has either one or two collections of his stories. He’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
Born April 19, 1946 — Tim Curry, 74. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as he’d appeared a year earlier at the Scottish Opera in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player.
Born April 19, 1952 — Mark E. Rogers. Best remembered for the Samurai Cat series which in the first book, The Adventures of Samurai Cat, lampooned Tolkien, Lovecraft and Howard. Indiana Jones. Burroughs’ Barsoom and Star Wars would also get their due. (Died 2014.)
Born April 19, 1967 — Steven H Silver, 53. Fan and publisher, author, and editor. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times and Best Fanzine four times. He’s a longtime contributing editor to SF Site and has written that site’s news page since its beginning. Over twenty years ago, he founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has served as a judge ever since. He publishes his own fanzine, Argentus, and is a Hugo nominee this year for his work on Journey Planet.
Born April 19, 1968 — Ashley Judd, 52. Best known genre wise for playing Natalie Prior in the Divergent film franchise. She was also Carly Harris-Thompson in the Tooth Fairy film, and was Ensign Robin Lefler in a few episodes of Next Gen. She played Beverly Paige on several episodes of Twin Peaks as well.
As a sci-fi and fantasy nerd, of course I love the cartoon of the scientist being tempted by science fiction. Where did that one come from?
I think the scientist character in that cartoon is a bit like me when I’m making these cartoons, because I have to resist the temptation to draw silly robots and over-the-top science fiction technology every week. I am a SF/F nerd myself and while that’s one of the things that draws me to science, I have to remind myself to look in all the different areas of science to find cartoon themes.
(9) MARLOWE AND THE QUEEN. Francis Hamit, who frequently shared with File 770 readers his experience as a writer publishing via early indie platforms, and has spent years trying to get a movie made, sends this update.
I dissolved the Kit Marlowe Film Co, Ltd in February after five years and one month of trying to get CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE produced. My recent surgery for spinal stenosis, (the first of two with the second on hold now because of the pandemic) makes it impossible for me to produce anything, even if our great producer Gary Kurtz hadn’t died in September, 2018, the HMRC had not changed the EIS rules and Brexit had not changed all of the assumptions we had when we started the company in 2014. I’m an old poker player. I know when to fold a losing hand. Rising from the ashes, however, is the five-time award-winning screenplay and the curious fact that BFI says our letter of comfort for the film tax relief can be used by any UK film production company. That’s a twenty percent rebate on the spend in the UK. But coronoavirus has shut down the entire industry in the USA and UK. Except for “development” and I have that script and two others out for consideration. (Details on Facebook).
I also have a few hundred copies of The Shenandoah Spy and The Queen of Washington left in the distributor’s warehouse. I am reducing the retail price to $12.95 and $14.95 respectfully. This is slightly below my break-even point but will free up cash to get another book to market. Regular publishing has ls shut down so it may be DIY for the one I’m working on now STARMEN, a multi-genre romp that begins in El Paso, Texas in 1875 with the Pinkertons, who investigated all sorts of strange things. I might also do some crowd-funding.
Anyway those who would like to buy a copy of either book should call Pathway Book Service at 1-800-345-6665. The Shenandoah Spy is $12.95 plus shipping and handling and they take credit cards. The Queen of Washington is a hardbound at $14.95 plus shipping and handling. Amazon has a few copies at the old prices but has stopped taking third party distributors’ books to deal with the emergency. Both books are in e-book at $9.99 on Amazon Kindle and as audiobooks at Audible, Amazon and iTunes, sometimes for free.
Anyone who wants a signed copy should contact me directly. (email@example.com). (My other books are also available but not discounted.)
Direct sales will be $27.50 per book, $50 for two plus $5.00 shipping each and these will be signed. I’m running out of copies here and will have to order some from Pathway, which costs me for shipping. If they are able. In the current emergency. We can’t be sure. On the other hand they will be signed.
Gail Shalan and I are converting The Shenanoah Spy audiobook to a Young Adult title. That simply means we are going to cut the more graphic sexual content. Probably less than a thousand words that won’t be missed. Times have changed since 2008 when the book was first published and we don’t want to provide “triggers” that get some readers upset and detract from the story. That means the sexual content is still there but more is left to the imagination. Gail’s performance will be intact. BTW the audiobook is “free” if it is a title used to sign up for Audible and Gail and I split a nice bonus.
.. The first three films in Jackson’s Middle-earth franchise raked in nearly $3 billion worldwide. And no, that number doesn’t account for DVD or memorabilia sales, or the sale of the trilogy’s television broadcast rights.
(15) FROST READS. The editors of the Beatles-themed anthology Across the Universe, Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, are posting videos of various authors in the anthology reading from their work. Here, Gregory Frost reads “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Steve Green and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
The Fan History Project (FANAC.org) is pleased to assist voters for CoNZealand’s Retro Hugo Awards by placing as many issues of the relevant 1944 fanzines online as possible.
Their webmaster, Edie Stern, has created a page on FANAC.org with all the links to the material for the CoNZealand Retro Hugo nominations for Best Fanzine. She also combed through all the 1944 fan publications available on the net to show all the writings available for the Best Fan Writer nominees. In addition, she links to the two amateur pieces nominated for Best Related Work.
The Science Fiction Achievement Awards, better known as the Hugo Awards, were started in 1953 at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Philadelphia. You can read about the start of the awards in the Philcon Program Book which is available on-line. Click on Achievement Awards. After being skipped in 1954, the Hugo Awards became an annual tradition selecting the best material of the previous year in the SF field. The awards are voted on by the members of the Worldcon.
In 1994, at the instigation of Bruce Pelz, a motion was passed to create the Retro-Hugo Awards. The Retro-Hugo was an option that a Worldcon could select to implement to retroactively make awards for years when the Worldcon had taken place but for which no Hugo Awards had been given. Awards are allowed only for specific years: 50, 75, or 100 years before the current Worldcon.
The Introduction to the Retro Hugos, edited by Andrew I. Porter with the assistance of Joe Siclari and Edie Stern, is a comprehensive introduction to, and history of, the Retro Hugos.