(1) SLF ILLUSTRATION OF THE YEAR. Michelle Feng is the winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s search for their 2022 Illustration of the Year.
Hoping to translate theory into policy and practice, Michelle’s experience revolves around working directly with traditionally underserved individuals and communities of color to bridge the gap between lived experiences and policy that fails to reflect the complexities of society on a universal scale. Through her dedication to public service, where she traveled around the country working in dedicated pursuit of localized projects with focuses on urban development, environmental conservation, disaster relief, and food insecurity in rural areas. Michelle has also spent time in Human Resources at the Department of Defense and has experience in social work at a small non-profit, which subsequently trained her in crisis de-escalation, conflict mediation, and trauma-informed care.
Feng commented that she found inspiration for her illustration through wanting to combine visual elements from traditional village living structures with futuristic elements of a modern city. Feng used a mix of mediums and textures to build a piece with collage-like elements that illustrated a layered approach to world-building: “imbuing realities that are grounded in something familiar, but still continue to live outside of our surface-level understanding of the world, define speculative fiction to me. As a first generation Chinese-American daughter of immigrants, I grew up hearing stories of my mother’s experience traveling to the rural village her mother grew up in, who always emphasized the importance of balancing education, literacy, and imagination as the key to upward mobility.”
The person climbing the wall of books on the left hand side of the image was inspired by her grandfather, a professor of contemplative literature who taught her mother that art is the highest form of expression. Her hope is that those who see the piece can connect to both of its real & imagined worlds while exploring intersections between the built and natural environment.
You can find more of her work on instagram: @michellef.arts
(2) SQUEECORE. Raquel S. Benedict’s Rite Gud podcast offer “A Guide to Squeecore”, their term for sff’s current favorite flavor.
In 1936, anthropologist Ralph Linton said, “The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water.” It’s difficult to see the medium that encompasses everything around you, especially when you’ve never known anything else. Well, if fish were contemporary sci-fi/fantasy readers, the last thing they would notice is squeecore. What is squeecore? You’re soaking in it! Squeecore is the dominant literary movement in contemporary SFF, a movement so ubiquitous it’s nearly invisible. But in this episode, we are taking notice of how speculative fiction got watered down.
(3) UNWRAPPING THE PRESENT. Camestros Felapton catches the conversational ball thrown by Raquel S. Benedict in that Rite Gud podcast – “Is there a dominant mode of current science fiction?”
…Again, I think that idea (if not the name) that there are common aesthetic elements in notable science fiction (ie what gets critical attention and award nominations) makes some sense. Historically, in the Hugo Awards, I think what we see is overlapping time periods of popularity of some authors, publishers and outlets (5 to 10 year periods, with some figures having much longer spans of relevance). Pick any snapshot of time though, you are likely to find works that reflect elements that are going out of fashion, works that are currently most fashionable and works that reflect newer fashions. That is reflected in the kind of names (some coined contemporaneously and some retrospectively) given to works from particular times. The podcast picks up on that element and the need for a name for the current state of affairs….
(4) ENCOURAGING INTENTIONALITY. Maurice Broaddus urges conventions to move beyond checking the “diversity box” and work on building community. Thread starts here.
(5) ADAPTING STATION ELEVEN. Esquire’s Adrienne Westenfeld analyzes “How HBO Max’s Station Eleven Reimagines the Novel”.
…. Readers of the novel will remember its unique structure: nonlinear and multi-perspective, arcing across time, space, and characters to tell its poignant story about survival and the human spirit. We sense some of that looping structure in the television show, particularly in Episode One’s flash-forward glimpses of Chicago (for the purposes of this adaptation, HBOMax has transplanted the story from Toronto to Chicago). In these shots, we glimpse an unrecognizable world: today’s driveway becomes an overgrown wilderness, years after the pandemic. Today’s theater, where Arthur performs King Lear to a packed audience, is later overrun by feral hogs. The visual style hints at a narrative omniscience….
(6) DAVE WOLVERTON (1952-2022). Dave Wolverton, aka Dave Farland, died the day after sustaining a head injury due to a fall, his son Spencer announced this morning:
Again this Dave’s son Spencer.
Dave has officially passed. He held on till all his children could say goodbye, then faded swiftly without pain. Thank you for all the kind words, messages, and memories.
After reading the countless messages and reflecting on my own experience, it is safe to say that my dad had a special way of seeing the potential in people. He will surely be missed.
Words can’t express the emotions of losing a loved one.
Eric Flint is among the many paying tribute, here on Facebook:
…Dave was part of my writing career from the very beginning. In fact, he’s the person whom you could say started it. He was the coordinator of the Writers of the Future contest in 1992. I submitted a story which he liked well enough to include in the finalists from whom the judges chose the winners, and I won first place in the winter quarter of that year. Winning that award is what kicked off my writing career. I stayed in touch with Dave after the contest and he was a help to me in many ways, from giving me excellent editing advice to connecting me with the person who became (and still is) my literary agent.
Some years later, Dave and I were two of the five founders of the Superstars Writing Seminar. (The other three were Kevin Anderson, Rebecca Moesta and Brandon Sanderson.) As a result of that association, we met every year at the four-day event, which is held in Colorado Springs in February. I was expecting to see him next month and looking forward to it.
David Doering’s appreciation about him will appear shortly on File 770.
(7) RICK COOK (1944-2022). Rick Cook, author of the Wizardry series (starting with Wizard’s Bane in 1989), died January 13. He wrote a total of nine sff novels, and much short fiction. His short story “Symphony for Skyfall,” co-written with Peter L. Manly, was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award in 1995. His fact article “The Long Stern Case: A Speculative Exercise” won the Analog Readers Poll in 1987 (and between 1995-1998, three more short stories co-authored with Manly placed second or third in the poll.)
He was a co-founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Kingdom of Atenveldt, which encompasses the state of Arizona. In the SCA he was known as Sir Richard Ironsteed. Recalling the early days of the Kingdom of Atenveldt, Cook wrote:
We made it up as we went along. In 1968 I went to Worldcon in San Francisco. The SCA appeared there for the first time. It was then I was introduced to the SCA. I picked up the Known World Handbook and brought it back to the Valley of the Sun. I couldn’t build up much interest, but shared the information with Mike Reynolds. In 1969, he suggested we start a branch. We were the first group that wasn’t started by people who had lived in the Kingdom of the West.
I was part of building the initial group, martial activities, including the administrative duties of marshalling. As first king of Atenveldt, I enjoyed making up the fun as we went along. Those things of great tradition from the early days were really just having a good time. I was also the first herald of Atenveldt, long before we were a kingdom. I tried my hand at many things from helping make our first (infamous) trebuchet to making jewelry.
He became the First King of Atenveldt in 1971.
Heather Jeffcott shared warm memories of him on Facebook:
…He used words like swordplay. Strong and persuasive, nimble and light when needed, then *SMACK*! There came the pun that would lighten the tenor of the conversation. He could be blunt without being rude. (Which is not to say he couldn’t descend into crudity, it just wasn’t his first choice. He was selective in how and when to apply such words for he had plenty of others in his arsenal.) He had a talent for telling you a truth and making it seem like a tall tale. And if he told you a Tall Tale, it took on the manner of a LEGEND….
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1977 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-five years ago, the first version of Fantasy Island aired its first episode this evening on ABC. The series starred Ricardo Montalbán who was previously known for his Chrysler Cordoba commercials, with their tagline of “Fine Corinthian Leather”, as Mr. Roarke, the Host, and Hervé Villechaize as his dwarf assistant, Tattoo. It was created by Gene Levitt who had very little previous genre experience.
The critics were unanimous in their utter loathing of it. Newsday was typical of the comments about: “Given the premise, the [pilot] movie could have been fun, but it’s not. It drips with Meaning, but there is none. Actually, it’s quite dumb.”
It was obviously critic-proof as it had an amazing run lasting seven seasons of one hundred fifty-two episodes, plus two films called Fantasy Island and Return to Fantasy Island.
A one-season revival of the series with Malcolm McDowell and Mädchen Amick in the two roles aired fourteen years later while a re-imagined horror film version was released two years ago. I’ve seen neither of those versions. I do remember the original series and remember rather liking it.
Chrysler Cordoba commercial (proof nothing vanishes on the net) here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 14, 1924 — Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide. I think it is.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.)
- Born January 14, 1943 — Beverly Zuk. Ardent fan of Trek: TOS who wrote three Trek fanfics, two of them on specific characters: The Honorable Sacrifice (McCoy) and The Third Verdict (Scotty). Let’s just say that based on her artwork that I found I’d not say these are anything less than R rated in places. She was a founding member of the Trek Mafia though I’m not sure what that was, but I’m betting one of y’all can tell me. (Died 2009.)
- Born January 14, 1948 — Carl Weathers, 74. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other genre creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly The Sasquatch Gang comedy and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very, very not genre.
- Born January 14, 1949 — Lawrence Kasdan, 73. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas which is quite superb. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
- Born January 14, 1957 — Suzanne Danielle, 65. A Whovian as she showed up as Agella in “The Destiny if The Daleks “ a Fourth Doctor story. She was on the Hammer House of Horror series in the Carpathian Eagle” episode, and she’s also in Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected multiple times in different roles. To my knowledge, her only other SFF appearance was on the Eighties Flash Gordon film.
- Born January 14, 1962 — Jemma Redgrave, 60. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who. Not at all surprisingly,she has also appeared as Stewart as the lead in myriad UNIT adventures for Big Finish Productions.
- Born January 14, 1967 — Emily Watson, 55. Her first genre appearance is in Equilibrium as Mary O’Brien before voicing Victoria Everglot in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Next is she’s Anne MacMorrow in the Celtic fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. She apparently also was in a Nineties radio production of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase but I’ve no information on it.
- Born January 14, 1990 — Grant Gustin, 32. The actor, known as Barry Allen aka the Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode on A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well, the Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Frank and Ernest meet some genetic engineers whose experiments result in terrible puns.
(11) SPRING HAS SPRUNG AT SF2 CONCATENATION. SF² Concatenation has just posted its seasonal edition of news, articles, conreps, genre film analysis, and over 40 standalone book reviews. Vol. 32 (1) contains:
- Newscast for the Spring 2022. This includes within it many key sections. See also the master newscast link index that connects to all its SF/F genre and science news sub-sections.
- Dune;: the novel and films compared – Mark Yon
- The world of the Trigan Empire – Jonathan Cowie
- JUICE 2022 – Jupiter and Icy Moons Explorer – Ian Moss
- Whither Worldcons: Just where are they heading? – Peter Tyers
- My Top Ten Scientists – Timothy Gawne (neuroscientist & SF author)
- 31st Festival of Fantastic Films 2021 – Great Britain – Darrel Buxton
- British Fantasycon 2021 – Ian Hunter
- 2021 SF Film Top Ten Chart and Other Worthies(All archived annual film charts are indexed here)
- SF Convention Listing & Film Diary with links to con sites and film trailers
- Ten years ago. One from the archives: Films from the Mummy’s Tomb – Tony Chester
- Twenty years ago. One from the archives: Eclipsing the 1999 Eclipse: The first International Week of Science & SF – Roberto Quaglia
v32(1) 2022.1.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews
- Doctor Who: And the Pirate Planet
– Douglas Adams & James Goss
- Foundation; – Isaac Asimov
- Call of the Bone Ships – R. J. Barker
- The 22 Murders of Madison May – Max Barry
- Tomorrow; – Chris Beckett
- Tomorrow; (2nd review) – Chris Beckett
- The Blacktongue Thief – Christopher Buehlman
- Artefact Space – Miles Cameron
- Born to the Dark – Ramsey Campbell
- Somebody’s Voice – Ramsey Campbell
- Hollow; – Brian Catling
- Whisper Down the Lane – Clay McLeod Chapman
- UFO: Comic Anthology – vol. 1 – Andrew Clements & Chris Dale (eds.)
- Doctor Who: The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 1 – Terrance Dicks
- Doctor Who: The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 2 – Terrance Dicks
- The God is Not Willing – Steven Erikson
- Luckenbooth; – Jenni Fagan
- The Great Troll War – Jasper Fforde
- The True Bastards – Jonathan French
- Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror – Mark Gatiss
- A Terrible Fall of Angels – Laurell K. Hamilton
- Light Chaser – Peter F. Hamilton & Gareth L. Powell
- The Library of the Dead – T. L. Huchu
- XX; – Rian Hughes
- The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings: A medieval ghost story – Dan Jones
- Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse – Alex Kingston
- Goldilocks; – Laura Lam
- Goldilocks; – Laura Lam
- Holes in the Veil – Beth Overmyer
- Inhibitor Phase – Alastair Reynolds
- Doctor Who: The TV Movie – Gary Russell
- Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks – Eric Saward
- Hard Time – Jodi Taylor
- Shards of Earth – Adrian Tchaikovsky
- Screams from the Void – Anne Tibbets
- The Hood – Lavie Tidhar
- Andrea Víctrix – Llorenç Villalonga
- Soot; – Dan Vyleta
- Judge Dredd: Guatemala – John Wagner
- Have You Seen Me? – Alexandra Weis
- Moonbase Alpha: Technical Operations Manual – Steve White (ed.)
- Doctor Who: The Witchfinders – Joy Wilkinson
v32(1) 2022.1.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews
(12) FOUNDRY EVENT. Flights of Foundry, a virtual convention for speculative creators and their fans, will be held online from April 8-10. Programming is now being organized, and registrations taken, at the link.
The world’s biggest multi-disciplinary, round the clock, international virtual convention is returning for its third year, and it’s going to be even better than ever. With stellar guests of honor such as L. D. Lewis and Jana Bianchi, an intensive workshops series, and activities to fill the whole weekend, there’s something for everyone and more than you’ll make it to. Donation-based registration means everyone can attend, and you’ll have a rare opportunity to meet people you’ll never see on the regular con circuit. Join us to learn about craft and business from creatives in your field and those you’ll collaborate with over the course of your career. Talk about your favorite works with people who love them, and love to dissect them, too!
(13) A JAR FULL OF MONEY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that now that Winnie-the-Pooh is in the public domain, artists and writers will have a field day as long as they don’t make the bear wear a shirt (Disney owns that shirt!), don’t mention Tigger (not introduced until the still-under-copyright The House At Pooh Corner) and they should probably put a disclaimer in saying Disney has nothing to do with their work. “’Winnie-the-Pooh’ just entered the public domain. Here’s what that means for fans.”
He notes that Ryan Reynolds has used Winnie the Pooh’s public domain status to promote his cellphone company.
(14) SPIDER-MAN IS THE HOTTEST PROPERTY ON THE BLOCK. The auction block, that is: “Spider-Man comic page sells for record $3.36M bidding”.
Mike Zeck’s artwork for page 25 from Marvel Comics’ “Secret Wars No. 8” brings the first appearance of Spidey’s black suit. The symbiote suit would eventually lead to the emergence of the character Venom.
The record bidding, which started at $330,000 and soared past $3 million, came on the first day of Heritage Auctions’ four-day comic event in Dallas.
(15) THE HORTHMAH. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] I saw that a new movie has been released, but the title is a bit weird. It mixes existing nordic runes with some that are made up from our ordinary latin alphabet. The closest I come when translating it is “The Horthmah”, but perhaps it is more than two alphabets in there. Is there any filers that are better at runes than me and can help out here? Anyway, I have no idea of what a Horthmah is, but I guess I’ll have to see the movie to find out.
(16) TRAILER TIME. Dance along to the opening credits of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, starring John Cena. Peacemaker is now streaming on HBO Max.
(17) CREDENTIALS IN SPACE. Adventures in Purradise entices viewers to watch “Fur Trek: Tribble Troubles”.
Are you a Star Trek fan? Do you like funny cats? Then this episode is right up your alley. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, move over! Fur Trek is coming at warp speed. Capt. James T. Purrk of the UFS Kittyprise responds to a distress call from the planet Tribbiani, home of the adorable indigenous creatures known as Tribbles. Ambassador Barker suspects the warlike Klingoffs plan to steal his cargo of the life-saving grain, quadrokittycale, so he enlists Purrk’s help. Will the innocent Tribbles get caught up in a war between the Furderation and the Klingoff empire? Get ready to travel at warp speed on Jan. 1st to find out.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Bruce D. Arthurs, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]