2021 Romantic Novel Awards

The Romantic Novelists Association presented the 2021 Romantic Novel Awards in an online ceremony March 8. The sff category honoree is —

The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel that includes paranormal or speculative elements)

  • Christina Courtenay, Echoes of the Runes (Headline Review)

The complete list of winners is here.

Pixel Scroll 2/1/21 The Scroll Title Dilated

(1) LOCUS LIST’S UNEXPECTED TREND. Dave Truesdale on Facebook wonders why so few of the listed stories come from Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF. It is rather surprising.

Over at Locus Online the February Locus Magazine Recommended Reading List for 2020 has been posted. Granting my total count of novellas, novelettes, and short stories might be off by one, it makes no difference to the statistic I am about to reveal.

Of the novellas there are Zero stories from Analog, Asimov’s, or F&SF.

Of the novelettes there are Zero stories from Analog, One story from Asimov’s, and Two stories from F&SF.

Of the short stories there are Zero from Analog, Asimov’s, or F&SF.

Out of 124 stories in three fiction length categories selected by Locus reviewers and a few other outsider recommenders, there are exactly 3 stories selected from what has been traditionally known as the Big Three SF magazines. Offer your own theories as to why this has occurred–and has been occurring with a steady downward slide for a number of years now. They don’t give their fiction away for free is one guess and only a few review copies are sent out to review sites, thus accounting for perhaps fewer number of short fiction recommenders, and although other zines posting online do charge a little bit they are in the distinct minority. So are Locus recommenders reading primarily free magazines, or is there some other reason, maybe one having to do with content? This picture isn’t hanging quite straight and I’d like to know why so miserably few short fiction recommendations coming from Locus have appeared in the pages of Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF. I’m sure their editors and authors would like to know, too. So if you have any ideas…

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow will host livestream readings with this month’s authors, Kathleen Jennings and Shveta Thakrar, on YouTube, Wednesday, February 17 at 7 p.m. Eastern. The link will is posted later.

Kathleen Jennings

Kathleen Jennings is a writer and illustrator from Australia. In 2020, her debut (illustrated) novella Flyaway was published by Tor.com, and her debut poetry collection Travelogues: Vignettes from Trains in Motion by Brain Jar Press. Her short stories have been published by Tor.com, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and Strange Horizons, among others. She’s currently working on a PhD about contracts in fantasy novels.

Shveta Thakrar

Shveta Thakrar is a fantasy writer and full-time believer in magic. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies including Enchanted Living, Uncanny MagazineA Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and Toil & Trouble. Her debut young adult fantasy novel, Star Daughter, is out now, and her second novel will follow in 2022.

(3) IT’S IN THE RNA. Romantic Novelists’ Association released the shortlists for the 2021 Romantic Novel Awards on February 1. [Via Locus Online.]

The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award:

  • Echoes of the Runes, Christina Courtenay, Headline Review
  • The Start of Us, Hannah Emery, One More Chapter, HarperCollins
  • The Reluctant Witch, Amelia Hopegood, Independently Published
  • The Cornish Connection, Amanda James, Independently Published
  • Someday in Paris, Olivia Lara, Aria, Head of Zeus

The winners will be announced on March 8.

(4) PLAGIARISM CHARGE. Comic artist and illustrator Adam Ellis alleges the makers of the movie Keratin stole the plot from his comic. Thread starts here.

Newsweek’s article, “Cartoonist Adam Ellis Says Movie ‘Keratin’ Was Plagiarized From His Work”, which is largely composed of Ellis’ tweets, does have this original quote:

“A couple festivals have DMed me and said they’re pulling the film, and the main actor in the film also told me he wasn’t aware that it was plagiarized and he never would’ve signed on if he knew,” Ellis told Newsweek. “It’s hard to know what festivals they submitted to, since the filmmakers haven’t been in contact with me.”

Ellis said that he was not currently pursuing litigation against the filmmakers.

“I’ve also had some lawyers reach out, and I’m keeping my options open, but I’m not interested in legal action at the moment,” Ellis said. “I don’t think it would ultimately lead anywhere, but we’ll see what happens. Mostly I just want the film to be pulled. The story is personal to me and I’m protective of it!”

(5) SHE’S REALLY A WONDER. Adweek Network says the numbers show Wonder Woman 1984 topped Soul in their Christmas Day streaming face-off.

…Nielsen says Wonder Woman 1984 racked up huge audiences on its opening weekend, becoming the biggest feature film in Nielsen’s rankings—and one of the biggest streaming titles of any kind since Nielsen launched its streaming measurement. (THR / Live Feed)

The movie amassed nearly 2.3 billion minutes viewed among U.S. viewers, about 35 percent more than Soul. Previously, Nielsen had said Pixar’s Soul was the most-viewed on its Top 10 streaming ranking for Dec. 21-27, 2020. (Variety)

(6) BRIEF INTERZONE UPDATE. [Item by PhilRM.] This addendum was posted today on the TTA Press – Interzone page:

UPDATE 1ST FEB: Please be assured that we are addressing the concerns expressed by some subscribers and are seeking confirmation of certain matters. We’ll update again asap. Assuring you of our best efforts at all times…

(7) WE INTERRUPT THIS WANDAVISION. An intriguing mid-season trailer has dropped for Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. John King Tarpinian says of the show, “Really well done, each episode keeps you on your toes.”

(8) BURNS OBIT. Producer and screenwriter Allan Burns died January 30. Deadline’s tribute begins with some of his genre credits:

Allan Burns, a television producer and screenwriter best known for cocreating and cowriting for the television sitcoms The Munsters, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Rhoda, died Saturday at home. He was 85….

His first venture included working in animation for Jay Ward on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle. Among his other accomplishments in his early days was creating the Cap’n Crunch cartoon character for Quaker Oats.

Burns formed a writing partnership with Chris Hayward, and the team created The Munsters (1964) and My Mother The Car (1965). They also teamed as story editors for the classic Get Smart.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 1, 1874 – Hugo von Hofmannsthal.  Two of this gifted poet’s short stories for us are available in English.  He worked closely with another strange gifted man, Richard Strauss, writing the words of two fantastic Strauss operas, The Woman without a Shadow and The Egyptian Helen.  More about HH here.  (Died 1929) [JH]
  • Born February 1, 1884 – Yevgeny Zamyatin.  Had he only written We it would have been enough for us – maybe; others have taken it as a springboard.  Three of his shorter stories and an essay on Wells are in English; We has been Englished nine times.  Z’s life was so complicated you might want to look here.  (Died 1937) [JH]
  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Let’s see… Producer of Destination Moon (Retro Hugo at Millennium Philcon), When Worlds CollideThe War of the Worlds (which I love), Conquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao (another I love)and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze which is not so great. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.) (CE) 
  • Born February 1, 1936 – Paul Turner.  Rooted in Los Angeles, knew and reached many.  Promoted a LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) building fund, kept at it till the spark caught; LASFS with luckily finite improbability bought a clubhouse; few have.  Served a term as Director (as it then was), later President; earned the Evans-Freehafer Award (service); thirty years later, Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon 20.  Also promoted conversation.  Particular friend of Bill Rotsler.  My appreciation here.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered the originator of the program’s structure in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.) (CE) 
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who, the most loved of all the Companions among fans. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (truly awfully done including K-9 himself) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called  Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.) (CE) 
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 67. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre roles were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First he plays an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then it’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he shows he revisits a few years as Darrin the Boy  in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before our gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. (CE) 
  • Born February 1, 1962 – Maryrose Wood, age 59.  Ten books for us, two of them with the Duchess of Northumberland (I am not making this up).  Was in the original cast of Merrily We Roll Along (the musical, not the Kaufman & Hart play – nor was it with that Prince; another one).  Three Richard Rodgers Awards.  [JH]
  • Born February 1, 1965 Sherilyn Fenn,  56. Best known for playing as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. Her first genre work was in The Wraith as Keri Johnson followed by being Suzi in Zombie High (also known charmingly not as The School That Ate My Brain).  Her latest work is Etta in The Magicians series. (CE) 
  • Born February 1, 1965 Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in  Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and unfortunate fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here. (Died 1993.) (CE) 
  • Born February 1, 1967 – Meg Cabot, age 54.  (Rhymes with “habit”.)  Two dozen novels for us, half a dozen shorter stories; eighty books all told.  Princess Diaries became two Disney films.  Many awards, NY Times top best-sellers, 25 million copies of her books in print worldwide.  Married on April Fool’s Day, possibly to spoof her husband, anyway they’re still at it.  Works with charities e.g. Make-a-Wish Fdn, United Nations Refugee Agency, Reading is Fundamental, NY Public Libraries.  Blogs abut her cats.  [JH]
  • Born February 1, 1972 – Cristina Jurado, age 49.  Editor and translator, SuperSonic.  A dozen short stories, half available in English; so are anthologies Spanish Women of Wonder (not its Spanish title) and The Apex Book of World SF vol. 5.  “Fandom in Spain” for the Worldcon 75 Souvenir Book, thanks Jukka, Curtis, Charlotte, Vesa.  Interviewed (in English) in Three Crows.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) NANA NA NA, NANA NA NA. New Atlas reports “Newly discovered ‘nano-chameleon’ is world’s smallest known reptile”.

A tiny new species of chameleon has been discovered, and it seems to be the smallest reptile in the world. Known as Brookesia nana, or the nano-chameleon, the petite species can perch on a fingertip and may have the smallest adult males of any vertebrate….

Daniel P. Dern notes, “I’m sure that, at least with this group, I’m not the only person who instantly thought of the classic Bob & Ray ‘The Komodo Dragon’ bit.”

(12) ANTICIPATION. Before there was social media there were apas. “The circulation of controversy: Mimeography, fanzines and the amateur press association” was a topic presented in 2019 by Will Straw, James McGill Professor of Urban Media Studies at McGill University. It apparently includes a treatment of the 1964 Breendoggle. I could not locate a recording or transcript online.

Abstract: Long before photocopiers and on-line blogs became the tools of fandom, science-fiction fans mastered the art of mimeography and other methods of amateur publishing.  Since the late 19th century, amateur printers had grouped together in so-called “amateur press associations” (or “apas”) to distribute their home-made magazines to each other in bundles.  The “apa” was a key feature of science fiction fandom by the 1940s.  By the 1950s, critics were wondering whether the back-and-forth exchanges which went on inside “apas”, as members used their own magazines to respond to others, was producing unprecedented levels of infighting and souring the atmosphere in science fiction fandom.  In the early 1960s, a move to block an accused pedophile from attending the World Science Fiction Convention split science fiction fandom into warring factions, and the heated discursive environment of the amateur press association was seen as one cause of this atmosphere of intense polemic.  Drawing on my new research into mimeography, pre-media fandoms and the amateur press association, I will show how systems for the distribution and circulation of fanzines shaped particular climates of dissension.

(13) PRIVATE SATELLITE NEWS. The AP tells how “Maine company successfully launches prototype rocket”.

 A Maine company that’s developing a rocket to propel small satellites into space passed its first major test on Sunday.

Brunswick-based bluShift Aerospace launched a 20-foot (6-meter) prototype rocket, hitting an altitude of a little more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) in a first run designed to test the rocket’s propulsion and control systems.

It carried a science project by Falmouth High School students that will measure flight metrics such as barometric pressure, a special alloy that’s being tested by a New Hampshire company — and a Dutch dessert called stroopwafel, in an homage to its Amsterdam-based parent company. Organizers of the launch said the items were included to demonstrate the inclusion of a small payload.

The company, which launched from the northern Maine town of Limestone, the site of the former Loring Air Force Base, is one of dozens racing to find affordable ways to launch so-called nano satellites. Some of them, called Cube-Sats, can be as small as 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters….

(14) COLORING INSIDE THE LINES. The Schickele.com Site Map is the best ever says Daniel Dern. It helps that it’s an actual map. The site promotes the performer known as PDQ Bach. And that’s not all he’s known for.

(15) 42. [Item by David Doering.] Slashdot, the propeller-head site similar to F770 in format, in “Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy: New Research Says #42 Really Is Our Number”, cites a new scientific paper (too dense for me to understand) but quotes reader “Informativity” who concludes that the paper says:

Turns out the entire universe is a product of the number 42, specifically 42 times the collection of lm/2t, such that lm and t are the Planck Units. In a newly published paper, Measurement Quantization Describes the Physical Constants , both the constants and laws of nature are resolved from a simple geometry between two frames of reference, the non-discrete Target Frame of the universe and the discrete Measurement Frame of the observer. Its only and primary connection to our physical reality is a scalar, 42. Forty-two is what defines our universe from say any other version of our universe. So, while Douglas Adams may have just been picking numbers out of the sky when writing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it turns out he picked the right number, the one that defines … well … everything.

In addition to presenting new descriptions for most of the physical constants (descriptions that don’t reference other physical constants), the paper is also noted for presenting a classical unification of gravity and electromagnetism.

(16) DON’T BE ON THE LOOKOUT. “Texas Department of Public Safety Accidentally Sends Out AMBER Alert for Chucky and Glen Ray”Yahoo! Entertainment has the story.

The Texas Department of Public Safety generated some attention when it accidentally issued AMBER alerts for two Child’s Play film franchise characters.

On Friday, missing alerts for the Texas Department of Public Safety included the murderous doll, Chucky, and his son, Glen Ray. Glen is described as having a blue shirt and black collar while Chucky is said to be wearing “blue denim overalls with multi-colored striped long sleeve shirt” and “wielding a huge kitchen knife.”

The local NBC affiliate learned that this was actually the result of a test gone wrong. The Department of Public Safety was testing out its server when it accidentally made these faux alerts public. 

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hunger Games Sequels Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George takes on the three sequels to The Hunger Games, noting †he capitol is guarded by “really mean Power Rangers” and the plot of the third movie can be summarized as “The rebels compensate for Katniss’s poor acting abilities.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, David Doering, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, PhilRM, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 2/4/20 You Always Snark the One You Love, the One You Shouldn’t Snark At All

(1) OUT OF THE FRIDGE. Tom Nicholson, in “Harrison Ford In ‘Indiana Jones 5’ Is The Tragedy America Needs Right Now” in Esquire, says that Harrison Ford has agreed to be in another Indiana Jones movie, and speculates on what sort of Indiana Jones film that would be given that given Ford’s age (77). This film would take place in 1970.

…Let’s take a step back. At 77, Ford apparently hasn’t quite completed the valedictory tour of his most beloved roles which began back in 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, continued with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and rounded off with Blade Runner 2049 in 2017. During that run it felt like Ford was being very savvy in using Rick Dekkard, Han Solo and Indy to cement his legacy and remind younger audiences that he wasn’t always a man badly CGI’d into the fight scene in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

(2) RAGTIME GAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Finally saw The Rise of Skywalker.

Scenes we hadn’t expected to see included:

  • Jar-Jar Binks’ daughter showing as the new Darth Vader. (Helmet problems, of course, ears ended up dangling out from visor, tssk!)
  • The Force Ghost of Yoda does a comedy song routine, including some action riffs from Singing in the Rain and Make ‘Em Laugh. Using lightsaber as a cane/umbrella was inspired!

What were your (non-spoiler) favorites?

(3) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 6 to make your voice heard: “Uncanny Celebrates Reader Favorites of 2019!”.

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2019. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 9 to February 6, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

So please spread the word! And don’t forget, EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

(4) IT’S IN THE RNA. Romantic Novelists’ Association released the shortlists for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards on February 3. [Via Locus Online.]

The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award:

  • The Girl at the Window, Rowan Coleman, Ebury Press, Penguin Random House
  • The Ghost Garden, Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead, Totally Bound
  • Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, Ruth Hogan, Two Roads
  • The Hotel Where We Met, Belinda Jones, Independently published
  • The Stone’s Heart, Jessica Thorne, Bookouture

The awards will be presented in London on March 2.

(5) WIKIPEDIA SPOTLIGHTS FALL’S ‘HELICOPTER’ STORY. Rhetorical question Do very many short stories have their own Wiki article? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Sexually_Identify_as_an_Attack_Helicopter

This seems to have popped up in a hurry, and was promptly featured on Wikipedia’s front page (see last item):

(6) I.D.O.U. Brian Keene weighs in about “The Only Thing An Author Owes”.

…As a public figure, the contract between an author and a reader is as follows:

Author writes the book. Reader purchases and reads the book.

That’s it. That’s the sum total. Purchasing a book or wanting to be an aspiring author doesn’t entitle you access to an author’s social media any more than it entitles you to sleep in their bedroom at night. Social media is necessary marketing for authors, but that doesn’t mean they have to engage with unpleasantness. Some do. In the past, I often have. But I’m older, and hypertension is a thing, and quite frankly, I don’t need the bullshit. If I invite you into my living room, am I expected to sit there and let you call me an “arrogant egotistical asshole with sycophants surrounding” me simply because you shared a link to my podcast a few days ago, or because you bought a book by me at some point?

Hell no.

I don’t block people for politics. I don’t block them for what they like or dislike, or for who they follow. But if I feel someone is being purposely antagonistic or ignorant, or if I think they’re the latest in a very, very, very, very long line of geniuses whose beginning and ending marketing plan is, “I’ll pick a fight with Brian Keene/Nick Mamatas/Wrath James White/insert other name here and that will get me noticed” (a ploy so old, by the way, that Maurice Broaddus wrote about it way back in 2005), or if I think they have the potential to join in on those shenanigans, then yeah, I block them. It’s better for my mental health, and it’s definitely better for my blood pressure.

(7) THE ZINES OF ’44. Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari helps voters decide for themselves what deserves  Retro-Hugo this year. http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Retro_Hugos1944.html

In support of the Retro Hugos project for CoNZealand, we’ve added an alphabetical list of 1944 fanzines. It is the largest list of 1944 fanzines that we could compile. We have linked, both from our site and others, all the zines we can find to give you the ability to read what was going on in 1944. We will link to additional zines as we find them, and are also still scanning more ourselves. If you know of appropriate materials not on the list, please let us know. We hope this will give you some ability to judge the 1944 materials first hand. Much of it may not seem of significant quality to us today, but it gives context and the ability to compare the writers and editors of 1944, rather than just relying on their later reputations.”…Joe Siclari 

(8) CLI-FI FICTION CONTEST. The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative launched their third global climate fiction writing contest yesterday. The Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest 2020 is taking submissions until April 15. Full guidelines at the link. 

Inspired by the incredible international response to our climate fiction contests in 2016 and 2018, we are proud to announce our third contest in 2020—a momentous year for climate action, and an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how humans will live on this planet in the future.

Work will be selected and judged by Claire Vaye Watkins, a Guggenheim Fellow, winner of The Story Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and author of Gold Fame Citrus, a climate fiction novel that was named a best book of 2015 by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and NPR. Claire will join an interdisciplinary group of judges with expertise in climate science, sustainability, creative writing, and environmental literature.

All genres are welcome. The author of the winning story will receive a $1000 prize, and nine finalists will receive $100 prizes. The winning story and finalists will be published in an anthology by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University.  

(9) HEMMING AWARD NOMINEES SOUGHT. The Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF) is taking entries in the Norma K Hemming Award for works published in 2019. Submit items here through February 29.

Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming Award is now open for entries.

The award is open to short fiction, novellas, novels, anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays, and makes allowances for serialised work. Entry is free for all works, and entries may be provided to the judges in print or digital format.

Two prizes will be given, one for short fiction (up to 17,500 words) and one award for long work (novellas, novels, collections, anthologies, graphic novels and play scripts), with a cash prize and citation awarded.

Nominations are open to all eligible work produced in 2019.

“We encourage publishers and creators to carefully consider their work from the eligible period,” said award administrator Tehani Croft. “It is our goal to see all eligible material considered by the jurors. It is important to us that every person has the opportunity to see themselves reflected in fiction, and we hope that the Norma can have some part to play in making works dealing in themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in speculative fiction more visible.”

(10) CLARK OBIT. Bestselling thriller author Mary Higgins Clark died January 31 at 92. The LA Times notice ends —

Married since 1996 to former Merrill Lynch Futures Chief Executive John J. Conheeney, she remembered well the day she said goodbye to hard times. It was in April of 1977, and her agent had told her that Simon & Schuster was offering $500,000 for the hardcover to her third novel, “A Stranger Is Watching,” and that the publisher Dell was paying $1 million for the paperback. She had been running her own script production company during the day and studying for a philosophy degree at Fordham University at night, returning home to New Jersey in an old car with more than 100,000 miles on it.

“As I drove onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, the tailpipe and muffler came loose and began dragging on the ground. For the next 21 miles, I kur-plunked, kur-plunked, all the way home,” she wrote in her memoir. “People in other cars kept honking and beeping, obviously sure that I was either too stupid or too deaf to hear the racket.

“The next day I bought a Cadillac!”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 4, 1983 Videodrome premiered. It was written and directed by David Cronenberg, with a cast of James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Debbie Harry. It was the first film by Cronenberg to get Hollywood backing and it bombed earning back only two million dollars of its nearly six million budget. In spite of that, critics and audience goers alike found it to a good film. Today it is considered his best film by many, and it holds a sterling 80% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 4, 1922 William Phipps. He started off his genre career by being in both The War of The Worlds and Invaders from Mars. He’d later be in Cat-Women of the Moon, The Snow Creature, The Evil of Frankenstein, and the Dune series. He’d have one-offs in Batman, Green Hornet, The Munsters, Wild Wild West and a lead role in the Time Express series which would last four episodes according IMDB. (Died 2018.)
  • Born February 4, 1925 Russell Hoban. Author of a number of genre novel of which the best by far is Riddley Walker. Indeed, ISFDB lists some fifteen such novels by him, so I’m curious how he is as a genre writer beyond Riddley Walker. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 4, 1936 Gary Conway, 84. Best remembered I’d say for starring in Irwin Allen‘s Land of the Giants. You can see the opening episode here. He was also in How to Make a Monster, a late Fifties horror film which I’m delighted to say that you can watch here. He’s the Young Frankenstein in it. 
  • Born February 4, 1940 George A. Romero. He’s got an impressive listing form the Dead films, I count seven of them, to Knightriders, which is truly genre adjacent at best, and one of my favorites of his, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Oh, and he wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as Stan Lee, but he did show up in at least seven of his films.  (Died 2017.)
  • Born February 4, 1940 John Schuck, 80. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn in “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes.  Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today.  Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns? 
  • Born February 4, 1959 Pamelyn Ferdin, 60. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in The Hat short, Night Gallery, Sealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO. She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well. 
  • Born February 4, 1961 Neal Asher, 59. I’ve been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I’m listening to The Line War right now and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of a hundred thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). As I said last year, h the sort of writer that I think drives our Puppies to madness — literate pulp SF pumped out fast that readers like. 
  • Born February 4, 1962 Thomas Scott Winnett. Locus magazine editorial assistant and reviewer from 1989 to 1994. He worked on Locus looks at books and Books received as well. In addition, he wrote well over a hundred review reviews for Locus. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia. (Died 2004.)

 (13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Farcus shows the origins of empire building.

(14) WADE IN. Find out what’s behind the new novel Mazes of Power in “The Big Idea: Juliette Wade” at Whatever.

This is the story of a very old, and very big idea. When I first had it, I was thirteen years old, and the idea was so big that I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it. It was the idea for a world of cavern cities, where families were restricted in their professions, and about conflicts of power… but until I’d turned this idea over hundreds of times, over years, it always seemed out of my grasp. I learned about anthropology, and added a new social awareness to my idea, and realized it was for a work of sociological science fiction. I studied linguistics, and added that, too. I tried to write a story about it, knew it was wrong, and learned more, and wrote it again. I concentrated hard on learning how language and the world around us reflect our concepts of our social selves, and wrote it again.

Until it stopped being wrong, and became the world of Varin….

(15) TRUE GRIT. Dune and The Martian are two of the recommendations on Penguin Random House’s “Books to Read on a Desert Island”, which makes an unintentionally humorous kind of sense….

So you found yourself stranded on a desert island, what book do you wish you had with you? More realistically, you’re sitting on a long plane flight or waiting for an appointment, but the question still applies! We’ve suggested a few fiction and nonfiction books below that will have you contemplating life or forgetting reality.

(16) DO NOT COLLECT $200. Vanity Fair replays the crime – and no, the culprit wasn’t the Hamburglar: McMillions: The Stranger-Than-Fiction Story of the $24-Million McDonald’s Monopoly Theft”

…But in 2000, the FBI got an anonymous tip about an “Uncle Jerry” rigging the McDonald’s competition. The organization launched an investigation that would uncover the fact that many of the winners—despite the out-of-state addresses they listed—actually lived within a 25-mile radius of the lakefront home Jacobson owned. According to the Daily Beast, “25 agents across the country…tracked 20,000 phone numbers, and recorded 235 cassette tapes of telephone calls.” McDonald’s even sent an employee undercover to help the FBI stage a fake TV commercial campaign—Argo–style—to get the fraudulent winners to incriminate themselves on camera. There were raids. And in 2001, in a scene tailor-made for the third act of an action thriller, McDonald’s launched another Monopoly game—knowing that their game had been compromised—because the FBI needed more evidence.

(17) EXTRAORDINARY. Adler #1 will be released in comic shops tomorrow. “Irene Adler is on a mission to take down Sherlock’s greatest nemesis, Moriarty!”

It’s the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen, as Adler teams up with a host of famous female faces from history and literature to defeat the greatest criminal mastermind of all time!

Written by World Fantasy Award Winner Lavie Tidhar, with art by Paul McCaffrey (TMNT).

(18) VAMPIRE PAPERWORK. The AP reports “Tulane acquires archive of “Vampire” author Anne Rice”.

Tulane University has acquired the complete archives of bestselling author Anne Rice, who was born and raised in New Orleans and whose books, including “Interview with the Vampire,” often drew inspiration from her hometown.

The collection was a gift from Stuart Rose and the Stuart Rose Family Foundation to the university’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, the university said in a statement.

“That Tulane has provided a home for my papers is exciting and comforting,” Rice said in the statement. “All my novels — in a career spanning more than 40 years — have been profoundly influenced by the history and beauty of New Orleans, and by its unique ambience in which my imagination flourished even in early childhood.”

Rice has written 30 novels. She moved to California to attend university and has spent much of her life since then in California, according to her biography. But New Orleans has played a central role in much of her fiction.

(19) AUTISM RESEARCH. “Researchers Link Autism To A System That Insulates Brain Wiring”.

Scientists have found a clue to how autism spectrum disorder disrupts the brain’s information highways.

The problem involves cells that help keep the traffic of signals moving smoothly through brain circuits, a team reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The team found that in both mouse and human brains affected by autism, there’s an abnormality in cells that produce a substance called myelin.

That’s a problem because myelin provides the “insulation” for brain circuits, allowing them to quickly and reliably carry electrical signals from one area to another. And having either too little or too much of this myelin coating can result in a wide range of neurological problems.

For example, multiple sclerosis occurs when the myelin around nerve fibers is damaged. The results, which vary from person to person, can affect not only the signals that control muscles, but also the ones involved in learning and thinking.

The finding could help explain why autism spectrum disorders include such a wide range of social and behavioral features, says Brady Maher, a lead investigator at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and an associate professor in the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Myelination could be a problem that ties all of these autism spectrum disorders together,” Maher says. And if that’s true, he says, it might be possible to prevent or even reverse the symptoms using drugs that affect myelination.

“If we get to these kids really early, we might be able to change their developmental trajectory and improve their outcomes,” Maher says.

(20) SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT MISTER ROGERS’ DOOR. “’Exploding meteor’ drops out of night sky in Derby” — short video.

A man’s doorbell camera has captured a celestial light show as what is thought to be a meteor dropped through the night sky in Derby.

Gary Rogers, 52, who captured the footage about 23:30 GMT on Monday, said he was amazed and felt lucky to have seen it.

Experts at the National Space Centre in Leicester said they believe it was a bolide – a bright meteor that explodes in the atmosphere.

Rob Dawes, chairman of nearby Sherwood Observatory, said the brightness suggested it was larger than a normal meteor.

He said: “[Mr Rogers] was very lucky to get such a nice bright one. But you’d be surprised how many of these do come into the atmosphere at any time of year.”

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