The Salam Award judges were Jeffrey Ford, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Maha
Khan Phillips. In
addition to the jury, the top stories will also be reviewed by editor John
Joseph Adams and agent Saba Sulaiman.
(1) NAME THAT ROCK. In the Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan profiles the “byzantine and marvelously
nerdy naming guidelines” of the International Astronomical Union (“The
bizarre and brilliant rules for naming new stuff in space”). Among them: the mountains and
plains of Titan have to be named according to references in Dune or Lord of the Rings, Names for asteroids have relatively few rules,
but one of them is not to name an asteroid after your cat, as James Gibson
found out when he named an asteroid after his cat, Mr. Spock, and was told that
while his asteroid remains “2309 Mr. Spock,” he really shouldn’t do
[Names for the moons of Jupter] must come from a character in Greek or Roman mythology who was either a descendant or lover of the god known as Zeus (in Greek) or Jupiter (Latin). It must be 16 characters or fewer, preferably one word. It can’t be offensive, too commercial, or closely tied to any political, military or religious activities of the past 100 years. It can’t belong to a living person and can’t be too similar to the name of any existing moons or asteroids. If the moon in question is prograde (it circles in the same direction as its planet rotates) the name must end in an “a.” If it is retrograde (circling in the opposite direction), the name must end in an “e.”
Most people don’t kill time by finding the most distant object ever discovered in the solar system, but most people aren’t Scott Sheppard.
Last week, the Carnegie Institution for Science astronomer announced he had just discovered an object that sits about 140 astronomical units away. One AU equals the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun, so that means this object is 140 times the distance of Earth from the sun, or 3.5 times farther away than Pluto.
This is just a mere couple months after he and his team discovered 2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout,” which sits 120 AU away, and for a brief moment was the farthest known object in the solar system. Sheppard and his team have already given a pretty apt tongue-in-cheek nickname to the usurper: “FarFarOut.”
Realistic worldbuilding requires that we get out of the dystopia/utopia binary and imagine futures that are a diverse mix of worlds. To imagine a plausible future world, we need to look critically at our own history, where progress is uneven and resistance is not futile. Annalee Newitz, journalist, co-founder of the website io9, and author of the acclaimed science fiction novel Autonomous joins us to share her insights into worldbuilding as part of the San Diego 2049 series of programs.
(4) SALAM AWARD JUDGES. The 2019 jury for the Salam Award will be Jeffrey Ford, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Maha Khan Phillips, John Joseph Adams, and Saba Sulaiman. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan. (Via Locus Online.)
Last year’s winner was Akbar Shahzad for his story Influence
From what I’ve seen–and the effects of the last decade in the genre short fiction scene have been to render it even more diffuse than it already was, so I really can’t say that I’ve had a comprehensive view–2018 was a strong year for SF short fiction, with venues including Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Uncanny delivering strong slates of stories. I was interested to observe how easy it is to discern an editorial voice, and a preoccupation with certain topics, when reading through a magazine’s yearly output. Uncanny, for example, had a strong focus on disabled protagonists in 2018, with stories that often turn on their struggles to achieve necessary accommodation, with which they can participate and contribute to society.
One topic that I expected to see a great deal more of in my reading was climate change. Only a few of the pieces I’ve highlighted here turn on this increasingly important topic, and very few stories I read dealt with it even obliquely. Given how much climate change has been in the public conversation recently (and not a moment too soon) it’s possible that next year’s award nominees will deal with it more strongly, but I was a bit disappointed not to see SF writers and editors placing an emphasis on it already.
The Necronomicon is undoubtedly the most emblematic book in the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft. In this game you will assume the role of Abdul Alhazred with the aim of completing all sections of the aberrant book. It is a game for 2 to 4 players with game modes for 20 or 60 minutes.
(7) PLAYING IN THE FIELDS OF D.C. John Kelly in the Washington Post went on the press tour for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, a Ubisoft
video game in which Washington, wiped out by a pandemic, has turned the
National Air and Space Museum into an armory and the Lincoln Memorial into a
graffiti-covered headquarters for paramilitary groups. (“A
new video game invites players to wallow in a dystopian Washington”.) But Ubisoft couldn’t use the World
War II Memorial for copyright reasons and decided not to have shooters blast
away at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial because “the gamemakers
thought it would be disrespectful to have players shooting at each other around
the statue of the famous pacifist.”
The game is set in the months after a deadly pandemic has swept the country and transformed the area around the Tidal Basin into a flooded wasteland, the National Air and Space Museum into a heavily guarded armory and the Lincoln Memorial into the smoke-blackened, kudzu-shrouded headquarters of a paramilitary group.
On the plus side, rush hour traffic is pretty light.
The challenge facing anyone designing a video game set in an actual place is making it realistic. The purpose of this junket — events were spread over two days, with a shuttle bus squiring the group from site to site — was to explain that process.
It will consist of a talk by David Ketterer and Ken Smith on Wyndham and the Penn Club where he lived from 1924 to 1943 and from 1946 to 1963 followed by drinks and food at a pub on the nearby Store Street, a street which figures on page 98 of the Penguin edition of The Day of the Triffids.
David Ketterer has more or less completed a full scale critical biography entitled TROUBLE WITH TRIFFIDS: THE LIFE AND FICTION OF JOHN WYNDHAM…
Anyone who is interested is invited to gather outside the Penn Club at 21-23 Bedford Place, London W.C.1 (near the British Museum) at 6.00 pm on Monday, 11 March 2019. We shall move to seating in the Penn Club lounge around 6.15 pm for the talk and questions. Around 7.00 pm we shall walk to The College Arms at 18 Store Street (near Senate House).
(10) HUGH LAMB OBIT. British anthologist
Hugh Lamb, editor of many paperback collections of vintage horror, died March 2.
His son, Richard, tells more in a “Tribute to My Father”.
On the night of 2nd March 2019, Hugh Lamb passed away. He died peacefully, in his sleep, after a long illness that had left him frail and weak. At the end he chose to move on, rather than suffer long months of treatment with no guarantees. We, his family, chose to honour his wishes and were with him at the end.
Hugh Lamb was, to many, one of the country’s foremost authorities on Victorian supernatural literature and a respected anthologist of those stories. To me, however, he was just dad. Certainly, I inherited a great love of ghost stories, as well as the cinema of the macabre, from my father. We would recommend movies to each other and enjoy critiquing them. As a child I used to thrill at tales of the supernatural, both real and fictional, all because of my father’s influence. When I wrote a series of screenplays, two of which were optioned by producers, they were all either ghost stories or stories with a supernatural flavour. And when one of my screenplays won the 2008 Rocliffe/BAFTA New Writers award, it was my father who positively glowed with pride. The screenplay was a father and son story, and he recognised himself in the pages with a mischievous delight.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 3, 1863 — Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.)
Born March 3, 1920 — James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E.film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which in played Phillip Bainbridge, during 5he first season of Trek. Doohan did nothing of genre nature post-Trek. (Died 2005.)
Born March 3, 1945 — George Miller, 74. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road Warrior, Mad Max 2, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome andFury Road. He also directed TheNightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of Eastwick, Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming.
Born March 3, 1948 — Max Collins, 71. Best known for writing the Dick Tracy comic strip from 1977 to 1993 giving The it a SF flavor. He also did a lot of writing in various media series such as Dark Angel, The Mummy, Waterworld, The War of The Worlds and Batman.
Born March 3, 1955 — Gregory Feeley, 64. Reviewer and essayist who Clute says of that “Sometimes adversarial, unfailingly intelligent, they represent a cold-eyed view of a genre he loves by a critic immersed in its material.” Writer of two SF novels, The Oxygen Barons and Arabian Wine, plus the Kentauros essay and novella.
Born March 3, 1970 — John Carter Cash, 49. He is the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. To date, he’s written two fantasies, Lupus Rex which oddly enough despite the title concerns a murder of crows selecting their new leader, and a children’s book, The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit, which I think Seuss would be grin at.
Born March 3, 1982 — Jessica Biel, 37. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blade: Trinity, Stealth, The Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Rich Horton, quite rightly, calls this a “very Eganesque” Dilbert.
(13) VARIANT COVERS. Brian
Hibbs in his Tilting at Windmills column
for Comics Beat“Heroes
in (Sales) Crisis” says variant covers are helping to break the
Again, the new Marvel catalog leads with a mini-series called “War of the Realms” that has seventeen different covers attached to it. For one single issue worth of release. Even if you try to “ignore variants” they take up catalog and “eye” space, they increase the amount of time it takes to order (let alone find) the comics you want to stock; they also consume distributor resources, ultimately increasing overages, shortages and damages, hurting everyone as a result.
The January 2019 order form features 1106 solicited periodical comic books. Of those, only 454 of those SKUs are new items – the other 652 are variant covers. That means a staggering fifty-ninepercent of all solicited comics are actually variants. That’s completely and entirely absurd! It is deluded, it is dangerous, and it actively works against the best interests of the market.
Last Man on Earth star Will Forte voicing Shaggy, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez [Velma], Tracy Morgan [Captain Caveman] and Frank Welker [Scooby-Doo] are going for a ride in the Mystery Machine.
The actors have closed deals to voice star in the untitled Scooby-Doo animated movie being made by Warner Bros. and its Warner Animation Group division.
Tony Cervone is directing the feature, which counts Chris Columbus, Charles Roven and Allison Abbate [as] producers.
[…] The story sees the Mystery Inc. gang join forces with other heroes of the Hanna-Barbera universe to save the world from Dick Dastardly and his evil plans…and this time, we are told, the threat is real. The movie is slated for a May 2020 release.
Star Trek is boldly going on a new mission where only men have gone before. Hanelle Culpepper will direct the first two episodes of the upcoming untitled Star Trek Jean-Luc Picard series, making her the first woman to direct a pilot or debut episode of a Starfleet series in the franchise’s 53-year history. All 13 feature films in the Trek universe have also been directed by men.
Culpepper has directed two episodes of Star Trek Discovery on CBS All-Access. She helmed the episode titled Vaulting Ambition in Season One as well as an upcoming episode in Season Two, now underway on the subscription streaming site.
…Try as they will to style themselves international, the Inner and Outer Party members of American literary SF/F are hopelessly provincial, sharing a painful overlap in ideology, as well as a kind of homogeneous, mushy globalist-liberal outlook. Which, being “woke”, puts a premium on demographics over individualism. Fetishizing ethnicities and sexualities. While remaining borderline-militant about a single-track monorchrome political platform.
So, certain Inner and Outer Party folks proceeded to step all over their own unmentionables in an effort to “call out” the “slate” of the indie Proles from the dirty ghettos of indie publishing. And now the Inner and Outer Parties are in damage control mode (yet again!) trying to re-write events, submerge evidence, gaslight the actual victims of the literary pogrom, blame all evils on Emmanuel Goldstein (cough, Sad Puppies, cough) and crown themselves the Good People once more. Who would never, of course, do anything pernicious, because how could they? They are Good! They tell themselves they are Good all the time! They go out of their way to virtue-signal this Goodness on social media! It cannot be possible that they have done anything wrong!
Rabid Puppies packmaster Vox Day not only reprinted Torgersen’s post at Vox Popoli (“Puppies redux: Nebula edition” [Internet Archive link]), he appropriated to himself others’ credit for indie authors being in SFWA:
It was funny to read this in my inbox, as it was the first time I’ve had any reason to give a thought to SFWA in a long, long time. Possibly the most amusing thing about this latest SFWA kerfluffle is that it is a direct consequence of SFWA adopting my original campaign proposal to admit independent authors to the membership. Sad Puppy leader Brad Torgersen observes, with no little irony, the 2019 version of Sad Puppies…
(17) DIAL 451. The New Indian Express’ Gautam Chintamani uses a famous Bradbury novel as
the starting point to comment on news coverage of the recent Pakistan-India incident
Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature but considering the times we live in, it is doing more than that. Following the February 14 Jaish-e-Mohammed fidayeen attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama that left 44 Indian soldiers dead, most television news channels bayed for blood. There is no denying that the national emotions were running high and it was only natural for citizens of a nation that have been at the receiving end of a proxy war conducted by a neighbour that as a national policy believes in causing loss of life in India to ask for a befitting reply. Yet the fashion in which many news anchors assumed the mantle of judge, jury, and executioner was nothing less than appalling. The constant white noise emanating from most news debates, where everyone was urged to shout louder than the next person, offers a greater emotional bounty to the one who would teach Pakistan a lesson and this showed a committed effort from media to not allow the average citizen a moment to think.
(18) GAHAN WILSON FUNDRAISER. A GoFundMe to “Help Gahan Wilson find his way” wants to raise $100,000 for the artist’s care. Neil Gaiman gave $1,000. Other donors include artist Charles Vess, editor Ellen Dtalow, and Andrew Porter.
Gahan Wilson is suffering from Dementia
Gahan is suffering from severe dementia. We have helped him through the stages of the disease and he is currently not doing very well.
His wife, Nancy Winters, just passed away
My mother, and his wife of fifty three years, Nancy Winters, passed away on March 2, 2019. She was his rock. His guide through the world. While we all helped with his care, it was my mother who grounded him. He is currently distraught and out of sorts with the world.
Memory care is needed immediately
Gahan and my mother had been residing in an assisted living facility in Arizona. With my mother’s passing, the facility is about to discharge him. We must find him a memory care facility immediately.
… Memory care is wildly expensive. More so than assisted living. If we could cover the cost ourselves, we would. We can’t, and Gahan and my mother did not save for anything like this. We are asking his fans to help us, help Gahan.
Canada will contribute US$1.4bn to a proposed Nasa space station that will orbit the Moon and act as a base to land astronauts on its surface.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the step would “push the boundaries of innovation”.
The space station, called Gateway, is a key element in Nasa’s plan to return to the Moon with humans in the 2020s.
As part of the 24-year commitment, Canada will build a next-generation robotic arm for the new lunar outpost.
“Canada is going to the Moon,” Mr Trudeau told a news conference at Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters near Montreal, according to AFP.
Nasa plans to build the small space station in lunar orbit by 2026. Astronauts will journey back and forth between Gateway and the lunar surface. It will also act as a habitat for conducting science experiments.
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Motion Makes a Masochist” on
Vimeo, Dev warns that if you want to be a motion designer for movies, you
should be prepared to suffer a lot for your art.
John King Tarpinian, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, Frank Olynyk, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Martin
Morse Wooster, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Winkelman.]
Eligible for consideration were original, previously unpublished English-language stories of 10,000 words or less by persons residing in Pakistan, or of Pakistani birth/descent.
Usman Malik reported in June that the award has entered into a partnership with Orlando-based Burrow Press and their Functionally Literate Reading Series. Starting in March 2019, each year’s Salam Award winner will be invited to do a public reading in Orlando, Florida, with travel and lodging aided by a subsidy from the Burrow Press.
Malik also said the winner will be encouraged to attend the International Conference for the Fantastic in Arts (ICFA), and they were working on covering the expense.
Welcome to Smugglivus 2017: A Year In Review. Today, January 7, 2017, is our bloggoversary–and it’s a big one. Today we officially turn ten years old. To celebrate, we’re looking back at 2017 to document our year, as well as our top 10 moments since starting The Book Smugglers a decade ago.
A lot of interesting achievements and reminiscences in this post.
(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Myke Cole and Joseph Helmreich on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, New York).
Myke Cole is the author of the military fantasy Shadow Ops series and its prequel trilogy, the Reawakening series, both from Ace/Roc. His Sacred Throne series is forthcoming from Tor.com in February. His first nonfiction (military history) book, will be out from Osprey in the fall. Myke appeared on CBS’ hit TV show Hunted, as part of a team of elite investigators tracking fugitives across the southeastern United States.
Joseph Helmreich has contributed writing to Newsweek, NY Daily News, and Tor.com, and is author of the recent sf thriller, The Return (St. Martin’s Press, March 2017) about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship on live TV. When not writing, Joe is a ventriloquist, illustrator, voice-over actor and member of alternative folk duo, Honeybrick. He lives in New York City and works in film distribution.
(3) SALAM AWARD. The 2018 jury for the Salam Award will be Elizabeth Hand , E. Lily Yu and Anil Menon. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan.
Last year’s winner was Firuza Pastakia for her story The Universe is a Conscientious Gardener.
Silvia Minucelli is an engineer and freelance artisan who creates itsy-bitsy, ickle figurines using polymer clay and a toothpick—can you imagine how painstaking and difficult that must be? Minucelli produces and sells her delightful models under the name Mijbil Creatures—named after the famous otter in Gavin Maxwell’s book Ring of Bright Water.
…The actors attracted to the series included Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” (also one of the show’s executive producers), Steve Buscemi, Maura Tierney and the avant-R&B singer Janelle Monáe. And “Electric Dreams” attracted writers and directors like Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), Peter Horton (“American Odyssey,” “Thirtysomething”) and Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”).
Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, whose production company Electric Shepherd oversees adaptations of her father’s work, reached out in 2012 to Mr. Dinner, executive producer of FX’s “Justified,” and invited him to look at the short stories. “Michael really had the idea to do it as anthology,” said Mr. Moore, a friend of Mr. Dinner’s who was brought on soon after.
Mr. Dinner, who had a deal with Sony, also recruited Mr. Cranston, who, like the others, is a major Philip K. Dick fan. All four brought in people they’d worked with as well as reaching out to talent they admired. “I sent Janelle Monáe a letter and asked her if she’d want to be a part of it,” Ms. Hackett said. “I knew that she was a big fan of my dad’s.”
David Klaus sent these comments with the link:
There’s an irony in that Star Trek was sold as the first s.f. t.v. series unlike previous s.f. series which had all been anthology shows, to have continuing characters and standing sets, to reduce production costs.
It could also be said another of Robert Heinlein’s great gifts to science fiction was the typewriter he bought and gave to PKD so that he could earn his way out of being so broke he couldn’t pay a library overdue fine.
(6) BLATHER. The New York Times interviewed an expert about “How To Speak Gibberish”. And it wasn’t even a member of Congress.
… In 2014, Sara Maria Forsberg was a recent high-school graduate in Finland when she posted “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners,” a video* of herself speaking gibberish versions of 15 languages and dialects. Incorporate actual phonology to make a realistic-sounding gibberish. “Expose yourself to lots of different languages,” says Forsberg, now 23, who grew up speaking Finnish, Swedish and English.
Assemble your raw linguistic materials. Shortly after her YouTube video went viral — it has since been watched more than 19 million times — Lucasfilm contacted Forsberg and asked her to make up a language for one of the alien fighter groups in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The actors were Indonesian, so Forsberg studied online videos in various Austronesian languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese, a language spoken in western Java. “Listen for repeated syllables,” she says. Write them down phonetically. Note the rhythm of the language. Look at the way a speaker’s lips and tongue give shape to his or her words. You don’t need to be a linguist to get an impression of real syntactic rules, which you can borrow. It helps to love listening to the singsong quality of people talking. For Forsberg, “it’s like music.”…
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
A friend was watching Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor and noticed the title stuff did not appear until 17 minutes into the flick.
Star Wars creator George Lucas had to fight to maintain his vision of going straight into the story through the use of his rolling text sequence. He thought that opening credits were nothing to do with making a movie, seeing them as an example of the old-school posturing that he and his new Hollywood contemporaries had spurned. In this he could well have been inspired by George Mélies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902), which is regarded as the first sci-fi film and avoided using any credits because the visual narrative was so strong.
Lucas did end up having to put the studio and Lucasfilm idents at the start of the reel, but he put his own directing and producing credits at the end of the film. He argued that credits would destroy the impact of the opening, and put them at the end of the film instead.
Lucas did the same thing for Empire Strikes Back in 1980, which was directed not by himself but by Irving Kershner. This time the Directors Guild of America objected, even though Kershner didn’t mind. The guild wanted the movie withdrawn from theatres, the opening re-titled with Kershner’s directing credit at a cost of US$500,000 (£1.4m today), and that Lucas pay a $25,000 fine.
Lucas was incensed and took the guild to court. When it countersued, he decided to pay the fine to avoid entangling Kershner in the dispute. It was a pyrrhic victory for the guild, however. Lucas resigned from both the writers’ and directors’ guilds and all future Star Wars opening titles were untouched and consistent with the original.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
January 7, 1929 — The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. comic strip debuted. (The character’s first appearance was in a story published by Amazing Stories in 1928.)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
January 7, 1934 – Flash Gordon. This has been long regarded as his “birthdate” because that was the day Alex Raymond’s strip was first published.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Mike Kennedy and John King Tarpinian both recommended this mashup superhero/cat joke in Off the Mark.
(11) WOMBAT ON THE AIR. Information wants to be free —
LIZ: Well, I'm sure there's things where you know a horrible fact and people are just like "Wow…uh…" ME: Oh, tons. Did you know when you're hanged, your teeth turn pink? LIZ: … ME: I put that in a children's book! LIZ: …Remember thirty seconds ago?
Here is my affectionate tribute to cherished friend Ray Bradbury, whose loving presence occupied my world and my heart for nearly four decades. Ray was one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century and, with H.G. Wells, perhaps the most influential, legendary science fiction writer of the past one hundred years. More importantly, however, Ray was a gentle little boy whose love of imagination, fantasy, and stories of other worlds influenced hundreds of writers and millions of admirers all over the world. His monumental presence upon this planet warmed and inspired all who knew him, and I was honored to call him my friend for thirty-eight years. Here, once more, is my loving remembrance of the life and world of Ray Bradbury, “I SING BRADBURY ELECTRIC.”
Steve’s article begins —
He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction.
The large floor plan with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the breathtaking pool area makes entertaining a breeze. With a state of the art chef’s kitchen and dining room that seats 10, tastefully dazzle your guests with a perfect setting for your dinner parties.
Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne razed Bradbury’s longtime Cheviot Hills home and built a place of his own design, which was finished in 2017.
(14) SIMULTANEITY PRINCIPLE. Andrew Porter points out there will be two conventions a few miles apart, same town, same weekend, July 27-29. Confluence is at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel. And Pulpfest is at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. He says —
They’re about 8 miles apart, NW of downtown Pittsburgh. You’d think both conventions could do some sort of deal together. Maybe a shuttle between the two. I bet both sets of dealers would be happy with the exposure.
Also, judging from people’s Facebook posts, Confluence will be gaining some writers who have been trimmed from ReaderCon programming (another July convention).
(18) ROWLING SITES. The Washington Post’s Tom Shroder tells how to go about “Discovering the magic of Edinburgh” in a travel piece about his visit to the places where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in longhand, and a trip to Greyfriars Graveyard, whose tombs include Thomas Riddle (the real name of Lord Voldemort).
It was the first of what I came to think of as our Edinburgh Harry Potter moments — when the ordinary Muggle reality suddenly parted to reveal something magical. As it turned out, this wasn’t entirely fanciful thinking on my part. I only discovered later that J.K. Rowling herself said, in a 2008 speech accepting the Edinburgh Award, “Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafes.”
The city’s remarkably consistent buildings of mottled brown stone blocks, the most spectacular of them with sharply peaked roofs and ostentatious turrets, are clear inspiration for the architecture of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The tombstones in the fabulously gloomy Greyfriars Kirkyard in the oldest part of the city bear the names of some key Potter characters — McGonagall, Moodie and, most notably, Thomas Riddle, the birth name of Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort. Tourists flock to the cafes where the then-impoverished author wrote out her stories in longhand: the Elephant House, Nicholson’s (now called Spoon), the baroquely gorgeous Balmoral Hotel.
The most mind-boggling thing of all about Jon is, he insults and harasses people, then wonders why folks don’t want him around. If you call SFWA terrorists, insult women in science fiction related podcasts, insult people in the comic industry, call folks running fandom sites bigots, then openly admit you’re going to break a convention’s rules, why would you be surprised when people start banning you? You are your own worst enemy, Jon Del Arroz. I don’t believe you anymore.
Last March, Colorado Symphony conductor Christopher Dragon donned a T-rex costume to lead the ensemble in a performance of John Williams’ beloved ‘Jurassic Park’ theme song. The hilarious musical moment is getting its 15 minutes of fame after a video from the concert was posted to social media.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Steve Vertlieb, Chris Garcia, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mister Dalliard.]
Eligible for consideration were original, previously unpublished English-language stories of 10,000 words or less by persons residing in Pakistan, or of Pakistani birth/descent. The initial award announcement said the winner will receive a cash prize of Rs 50,000, a review by an established literary agent, a review from a professional editor, with the potential for publication by Tor.com.
Malik wrote after the winner was announced, “We received a robust number of entries and were quite impressed by the quality of the longlist we ended up with. The stories were blinded (none of the judges knew the names or genders of the writers).”
Next year’s editor and agent reviewers will be Diana Pho of Tor and Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary respectively. The judges for 2018 will be announced later this year.
Let’s start by looking at how much our authors made in 2016 before taxes or expenses. The total ranged from a few dollars to almost five million. Eight novelists made more than a million dollars (before taxes) in 2016.
I admit, I was a little surprised by this, and wondered if maybe people were exaggerating or hit an extra zero. Fortunately, the survey also asked for an identifier (name or other) and an email address for anyone who wanted to be informed of the survey results. Looking at who was reporting these numbers, I believe they’re accurate.
Average Income: $114,124
Median Income: $17,000
(I think the median is more useful than the average, here. The average is pulled up significantly by those very successful outliers.)
Much more data, sliced and diced various ways, at the post.
(2) NEW AWARD FOR PAKISTANI SF. The inaugural Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction will be given this year. The new short story award, intended to “promote science fiction and related genres of writing in Pakistan,” is named for Dr. Albus Salam, one of the pioneers of science in Pakistan.
The website’s administrator says some Pakistanis may see pirated copies of sf movies, when it comes to written sf there’s little awareness —
I don’t know if science fiction as a genre even exist for Pakistani readers. When you go to book stores, you don’t find any books other than religous ones or text books needed for school curriculum. How can an average reader than get exposure to different genres of writing and specially fiction?
Eligible for the award are original, previously unpublished English-language stories of 10,000 words or less by persons residing in Pakistan, or of Pakistani birth/descent. (The complete guidelines are here.) Entries must be received by July 31.
The winner will receive a cash prize of Rs 50,000, a review by an established literary agent, a review from a professional editor, with the potential for publication by Tor.com.
(3) I LOST ON… Jeopardy! devoted a category to “Sci-Fi Books” on February 14. I only knew the $1,000 question – you’re bound to do better. (The correct reply will display if you scroll over the dollar amount.)
I didn’t get this one despite having read the damn book!
Thomas in this James Dashner sci-fi book awakens being “jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft”
Unfortunately, the minds behind NaNoWriMo don’t seem to appreciate what that word “apolitical” really means. How do I know? Because of this email the Internet-based creative writing project sent to its mailing list late last week.
As a creative writing nonprofit, we’re not a political organization. We don’t endorse candidates or support any particular party. In an ideal world, we would focus only on empowering people to write.
Yet we find ourselves in a time where people’s ability to tell their stories—and even to safely exist—is at stake….
So while we are not a political organization, we feel moved to take action.
In response to the executive order, as well as any future government efforts that threaten people’s basic freedoms, we will:
Celebrate creativity over apathy, diversity over fear, and productivity over despair.
Welcome all stories and continue to make NaNoWriMo a safe space for all writers.
Advocate for the transformative power of storytelling to connect people and build a better world.
If you have concrete ideas for how we can work toward these goals (or if you have feedback about anything in this message), please share your thoughts.
That wasn’t all. Oh, no, not by any means. They also took issue with President Trump’s desire to end the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
There are a few things about NaNoWriMo that one must consider before truly understanding the context of the above email. First, there are no prizes for NaNoWriMo. “Winners” are basically all who complete a book, and the prize is…well, you wrote a book. Not insignificant considering how few people who talk about books ever finish one, but that’s about it.
Further, since it is basically an internet writers group/contest, President Trump’s executive order will have precisely zero impact on it. None.
In short, there’s absolutely no reason for Grant Faulkner to put his name on an email about a piece of political hay that impacts his operation in no way, shape, or form.
The email is more about virtue signaling, a way to tell progressives that NaNoWriMo is with them — and screw the right-leaning members of the email list! Of course, it’s also possible they couldn’t imagine that anyone on their list actually leans right politically.
(5) THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. The Shimmer Program has posted Sanfeng’s “Science Fiction in China: 2016 in Review”. I found it an interesting contrast with U.S. society – people generally were happy to hear about President Obama’s tastes as an sf fan, but what if he had announced a plan to co-opt science fiction to further his policies?
SF as National Agenda
Historically, the trajectory of Chinese SF was heavily influenced by top-down political forces at times. Recently it begins to receive continuous and influential support from the governments at all levels. On the one hand, following the tradition of focusing on ‘science’ in science fiction, the government re-emphasizes SF as a useful instrument for popularizing science and improving citizen’s scientific literacy. On the other hand, due to the high popularity and penetration rate of SF media, it is conceivable that the so-called ‘SF industry’ is often adopted in governmental agenda for creative and cultural industry development.
In a central government’s paper regarding promoting citizens’ science literacy issued by State Council in February 2016, it is explicitly stipulated that the government shall support science fiction writing as part of popular science writing. More details were revealed in a later talk given by Han Qide, president of China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), announcing that CAST will set up a national award for SF and host international SF festivals. The story reached the climax when Vice Chairman Li Yuanchao attended 2016 National SF Convention held in September 2016 and gave a speech at the opening ceremony warmly encouraging SF writing.
The post also tells about the 30th anniversary Galaxy Awards, and the inaugural winners of a new set of Chinese sf awards.
At its 30th anniversary, Galaxy Awards were presented on the evening of September 8th. Best Novel was awarded to Dooms Year by He Xi. Three days later, the ceremony of 7th Chinese Nebula Awards was held in National Library of China. The top award Best Novel was awarded to Jiang Bo for Chasing the Shadows and the Lights, which is the final installment of his epic Heart of Galaxy trilogy.
A couple of new SF awards are noteworthy. First ‘Droplet Awards’, named after a powerful and terrifying alien weapon in TBP, were organized by Tecent to call for submission of SF screenplays, comics and short videos. Best Screenplay was awarded to Day after Day by Feng Zhigang and Best Comics to The Innocent City by Yuzhou Muchang. Besides, First ‘Nebula Awards for Chinese SF Films’ were presented at a ceremony held in Chengdu in August 2016. Best SF Movie was given to a 2008 children SF movie CJ7 directed by Stephen Chow. Best SF Short Film was awarded to Waterdrop, a highly praised fan film of TBP, directed and produced by Wang Ren.
(7) TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, SET A SPELL.Co-Geeking’s Erik Jensen is an American married to a Finn (Eppu) and living in the U.S. He has written a column of advice to fans going to the Worldcon this summer: “How to Helsinki: Concerning Finns”. There are quite a few do’s and don’ts, for example —
DO give people space – Finns expect a lot of it and they will give you a lot of it in return. If you’re talking to a Finn and they back away, don’t chase them. They’re probably not trying to get away from you, they’re just resetting comfortable boundaries. (See previous points.)
DO take your shoes off if you visit a private residence – so you don’t track in dirt that your host then has to clean up. Most Finnish homes have places for taking off and putting on shoes right by the front door….
…DON’T suggest getting together unless you want to make concrete plans – “We should do lunch some time” is just a casual pleasantry in the US. It’s an expression of general good will with no commitment attached. In Finland it is a commitment to future plans and Finns will expect you to follow through.
DON’T make small talk – if you’re in conversation with a Finn and feel like there’s an awkward silence, don’t try to fill it. For most Finns, silence is not awkward at all, but comfortable. The conversation will start again when someone has something to say.
“Älä hätäile! Don’t Panic! A Short Guide for Pronouncing Finnish” (in Progress Report 2)
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
February 15, 1903 — The first Teddy bear goes on sale.
Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution
February 15, 1950 — Walt Disney’s animated feature Cinderella opens in theaters across the United States.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Born February 15, 1950 — Matt Groening, cartoonist; creator of The Simpsons.
(10) FORD’S IN HIS FLIVVER. Stephen Baxter has an op-ed in the February 11 Financial Times, “Dude, where’s my flying car?” He looks at flying cars, based on Uber’s announcement that they are launching a flying car development project. Examining the way flying cars are portrayed in movies from Metropolis through Back To the Future and Thunderbirds Are Go, he concludes that it’s more likely that monorails and electric cabs will be the future’s preferred form of transportation and “flying cars will remain a plaything of the super-rich–and a dream (perhaps in virtual reality) for the rest of us.”
Note – you will probably hit a paywall using the direct link. I was able to access and read the article through a Google search.
(11) LITTLE BUNDLES OF JOY. And maybe not all that little, when you pop for the maximum sized bundle.
In Nobody Owns the Moon, Milligan begins his inquiry from the ground up, so to speak, starting with the fundamental question of whether space exploration itself can be ethically justified at all, specifically focusing on whether manned space exploration is justifiable. By starting at such a fundamental level, Milligan indicates that he is going to tackle the questions at hand without presuming that anything is justified. Instead, Milligan works through each issue with as few preconceptions as possible, examining both the arguments for and against the proposition being examined. This can seem frustratingly indecisive at times, because with most questions there is no clear cut answer one way or the other, because there are pros and cons to every position. The end result is that for most such questions, the answer lies in choosing which is the best of a flawed collection of alternatives, not in choosing the one that is clearly correct.
Milligan is also concerned with only dealing with questions that result from actions that are within the realm of possibility. To this end, he spends a fair amount of time examining the question of whether terraforming a planet to be more Earth-like is possible before he gets into the question of whether it is ethical. As he points out, examining a question that could never possibly come to pass is simply idle speculation. To a certain extent, almost all of the questions Milligan addresses in the book are somewhat hypothetical – no one is currently actually mining asteroids or terraforming Mars, but as he outlines in the book, they are all within the realm of reasonable possibility, and thus it is worthwhile to consider their the ethical implications.
(14) FIXING THE SCIENCE IN SCIENCE FICTION. Joe Stech, of Compelling SF, asks you to help him decide which of his guidelines to work on first.
Every so often I receive engaging story submissions that have wonderful writing and great human elements, but contain clearly implausible science. This can pull readers out of the story and potentially mar an otherwise excellent work.
I’ve been thinking about working with scientists to create a series of writer’s guides to help with this pain point, and I was hoping you could help me out by letting me know which subjects you’d find most useful in such a series. The idea is that we’d provide a general overview of the topic and then give some specific tips regarding common misconceptions that we’ve seen. If you have a moment please let me know what you think via the following survey:
The document was uncovered in the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, by the institution’s new director Timothy Riley….
Churchill was a prolific writer: in the 1920s and 30s, he penned popular science essays on topics as diverse as evolution and fusion power. Mr Riley, director of the Churchill Museum, believes the essay on alien life was written at the former prime minister’s home in Chartwell in 1939, before World War II broke out.
It may have been informed by conversations with the wartime leader’s friend, Lindemann, who was a physicist, and might have been intended for publication in the News of the World newspaper.
It was also written soon after the 1938 US radio broadcast by Orson Welles dramatising The War of the Worlds by HG Wells. The radio programme sparked a panic when it was mistaken by some listeners for a real news report about the invasion of Earth by Martians.
Dr Livio told BBC News that there were no firm plans to publish the article because of issues surrounding the copyright. However, he said the Churchill Museum was working to resolve these.
(16) SAME BAT CHANNEL, NOT SAME BAT. Carl Slaughter sent a link to “The Evolution of Batman in Television and Film, 1943 – 2016.”
I feel like I should start with the usual call to action/disclaimer: if you’re eligible to vote for any of the awards (Nebulas/Hugos/etc.), then please do so, even if you felt you haven’t read enough. It’s a big field and few people can claim to have read everything that came out last year–and generally the people who recuse themselves from voting tend to be marginalised folks, which skews ballots. So please please vote?
Here is an excerpt from her recommendations.
I enjoyed Fran Wilde’s JEWEL AND HER LAPIDARY: set in a universe where gems hold magic but can drive people mad, JEWEL concerns itself with the fall of that kingdom, and the desperate straits in which it leaves its princess and her companion. This is a heart wrenching tale of power, friendship, and two women’s struggle to survive.
Marjorie Liu’s “The Briar and the Rose” (which I suspect is a novelette, from Navah Wolfe’s and Dominik Parisien’s The Starlit Wood) is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a twist: a swordswoman falls in love with Rose–but Rose is only herself one day of the week, when the witch who occupies her body has to rest… I loved the characters and their relationship, and the quest undertaken by the swordswoman to free Rose.
Alyssa Wong’s “You’ll Surely Drown Here if You Stay”: a weird Western with a lovely friendship at its core, a tale of the desert, magic, belonging, and the weight of the dead. Definitely sticks in the mind.
Christopher Kastensmidt’s Elephant and Macaw Banner is sword and muskets set in colonial Brazil, following the adventures of Gerard van Oost and Oludara in a land filled with strange creatures. It’s a series of linked novelettes (with gorgeous cover art), and it’s great fun. Two volumes came out last year: A Torrential Complication and A Tumultuous Convergence.
(18) SIRI. In “The Voice (Siri)–a 48 hr film” on Vimeo, Yonatan Tal imagines what Siri would do if confronted with too many inane questions, including knock-knock jokes and “Where can I get some drugs?”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Steven H Silver, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Joe H., Peter J, John M. Cowan, John King Tarpinian, Aaron, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]