Each year, writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror from all over the world apply to the Odyssey Writing Workshops. No more than sixteen are admitted. Odyssey combines advanced lectures, in-depth feedback, and individual guidance. Writers from all over the world apply. Guest lecturers include top writers, editors, and agents. Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos is a bestselling author, former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, and winner of the World Fantasy Award.
The annual six-week residential workshop will be held June 7 – July 16, 2021 on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire if the world has returned to a post-COVID state of near normality. If social distancing is still necessary but travel is possible, the workshop will be held in person with COVID precautions. If travel for many is not possible, the workshop will be held online, as it was in 2020.
Class meets for over 4 ½ hours, 5 days a week, and students use afternoons, evenings, and weekends to write, critique each other’s work, and complete other class assignments. Anyone interested in applying should read “Workshopping at Odyssey” by David J. Schwartz, class of ’96.
2021 GUEST LECTURERS: Lecturers for the 2021 workshop include bestselling authors David Farland, Meagan Spooner, and Gregory Ashe; award-winning authors Melissa Scott and P. Djèlí Clark; and award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas. Bestselling author David Brin and award-winning editor/publisher Scott H. Andrews will also participate as virtual guests via Zoom.
APPLICATION DEADLINE. The application deadline is APRIL 1. Those wanting early action on their application should apply by JANUARY 31.
JANUARY 31 DEADLINE FOR EARLY ADMISSION. Many people need to know months ahead of time whether they’ve been accepted into the workshop or not, so they can make arrangements for time off, child care, and so on. The early application system is set up for them. Any applications received by January 31 are automatically considered for early admission.
Applications will receive fair consideration whether submitted early or at the last minute as long as it arrives by the regular application deadline
COSTS. The workshop is held by the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Odyssey is funded in part by donations from graduates, grantors and supporters, and in part by student tuition.
The tuition, $2,450, includes a textbook and weekly group dinners. Housing in campus apartments is $892 for a double room and $1,784 for a single. College credit is available.
FINANCIAL AID. For those interested in financial aid, several scholarships and one work/study position are available.
The Miskatonic Scholarship: George R. R. Martin, the New York Times bestselling author of A Game of Thrones,funds the Miskatonic Scholarship, awarded each year to a writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror attending Odyssey. It covers full tuition and housing.
The Walter & Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship, covering full tuition, will be awarded to a fantasy writer whose novel excerpt shows great skill and promise.
Four other scholarships and a work/study position are also available.
You can find a video of Odyssey graduates describing their experiences here:
R. F. Kuang, class of 2016, won the Astounding Award and the Crawford Award and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award. Her first two novels, The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic, were included on Time magazine’s 100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time.
Linden Lewis, also from the class of 2016, recently had her first novel, The First Sister, published by Skybound/Simon & Schuster.
Rona Wang, class of 2020, sold her first novel, You Had Me at Hello World, to Simon Pulse.
Julian K. Jarboe, class of 2018, had their debut short story collection, Everyone on the Moon Is Essential Personnel, named one of the “Best Books of 2020” by Publishers Weekly.
New York Times bestselling author Meagan Spooner, class of 2009, had The Other Side of the Sky, her sixth novel co-written with Amie Kaufman, published by HarperCollins.
OTHER ODYSSEY RESOURCES AND SERVICES. Information about Odyssey’s workshop, online classes, critique service, and many free resources, including a podcast and monthly online discussion salon, can be found at www.odysseyworkshop.
Instructor: Award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford
While writers often focus on their characters, plot, and setting, they seldom put as much attention on each scene–whether it is fulfilling its purpose in the story and whether it’s as strong as possible. Stories and novels are made up of scenes, so if your scenes are weak, your piece has little chance of success. A compelling scene engages readers intellectually and emotionally, changes something of significance to the story, and leaves readers eager to turn the page to find out what happens next. One of our most highly rated instructors, award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford, will explain how to design your scenes so they carry tension and power, how to track and develop the emotional beats in a scene to create strong impact, and how to diagnose and fix problems in scenes. Students will study effective scenes and weak scenes, discover the special needs of opening and ending scenes, and learn how to make sure all the scenes work together to create a powerful story or novel. These skills are invaluable for intermediate students seeking to take their work to the next level.
Barbara is truly an incredible resource for writers. Her students regularly praise the depth of her knowledge, the useful tools and techniques she provides, and her insightful critiques.
Instructor: Award-winning editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
According to Scott H. Andrews, editor-in-chief and publisher of the eight-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, the most common weakness in submissions is the failure to convey character emotions in a powerful way.
Scott will explain the most effective techniques to convey character emotions realistically and powerfully on the page, so that moment by moment, you can create an authentic and evocative experience. He’ll show you which techniques work best for point-of-view characters, and which work best for non-point-of-view characters. He’ll also discuss how to handle multiple emotions, conflicting emotions, and complex emotions, because that’s when stories get really interesting. More than that, the course will cover strategies for developing situations and stories with strong potential for emotional resonance, and how to use character emotions to make every page a gripping read. The character’s emotions may draw readers to the character or repel readers from him, but either way, line by line and scene by scene, you’ll be able to give readers an authentic, powerful, involving experience.
Instructor: New York Times bestselling author Patricia C. Wrede
A well-chosen, compelling world can capture the reader’s imagination and enhance every aspect of a story. But fantasy and science fiction writers often struggle to create strong worlds that enhance their stories. Worldbuilding carries many difficulties and potential pitfalls, including inconsistencies, overcomplication, oversimplification, confusion, distraction, lack of vividness, and lack of originality. Coming up with the best world for your story, one that works with the characters and plot to create the strongest effect, can be difficult, and then getting that world down on the page can be even more difficult.
Patricia C. Wrede, New York Times bestselling author of 24 fantasy and science fiction novels and creator of the legendary Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions tool for writers, will share her expert knowledge about the processes by which imaginary worlds can be designed, discovered, and developed, as well as different ways writers convey their worlds within their stories. The course will explore the various ingredients of worldbuilding in depth and look at the ways different worldbuilding choices can affect characters and plot, and enhance your story or novel. You’ll learn how different worldbuilding choices can affect characters and plot, and how to avoid common pitfalls. Finally, you’ll learn how to portray your world on the page in a way that enriches the story rather than distracting from it.
Odyssey Online offers only three classes each year and admits only fourteen students per class, to keep quality high and ensure each student receives individual attention. Courses are focused on some of the biggest challenges writers face.
Live class meetings allow a virtual classroom experience, with students participating in discussions, asking questions, and learning from an instructor responsive to students’ concerns. Between class meetings, students interact with each other and the instructor in a discussion group, complete assignments, and give and receive feedback. Each student also has a one-on-one meeting with the instructor.
Classes are held in January and February. While Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, writers of any genre of fiction are welcome to apply. Courses cover issues helpful to writers aiming their work at adult, young adult, or middle grade readers. Full information can be found at their website or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am pleased to report that I’ve finished the first draft of a new Penric & Desdemona novella. The title will be “Masquerade in Lodi”. The final editing pass/es are still to go, and will take the usual unknown amount of time, but artist Ron Miller is beforehand with the cover art.
It’s a sort of pocket prequel, a small-scale tale taking place over one day, set during the period Penric spent working for the archdivine of Adria about a year before his big Cedonian adventure. So in terms of internal chronology, it falls between “Penric’s Fox” and “Penric’s Mission”. It is at the moment a mid-sized novella, about 33k words.
She also said the release of Baen’s mass market paperback edition of the first collection Penric’s Progress is set for February 2021 (with “Penric’s Demon”, “Penric and the Shaman” and “Penric’s Fox”.)
(2) ISFIC WRITERS CONTEST. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Although Windycon will not take place as an in-person convention this year (and a further announcement about that is coming this week), we will be running the ISFiC Writers Contest. Updated rules and timeline at located here.
The contest is open to anyone who was a member of Windycon 46, Windycon 47 in 2020, or Windycon 47 in 2021, as well as anyone resident in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, or Wisconsin.
Windycon 47 in 2021 Membership
Double Room for Windycon 47 in 2021
The winning story will be included in the Windycon 47 in 2021 program book and archived on the ISFiC Website.
Honorable Mentions (Up to 2)
American 1 oz. Silver Coin
(3) HEAR IGUANACON II. Audio recordings of 19 panels/events at Iguanacon II, the 1978 World Science Fiction Convention have been posted by Hal C. F. Astell on the AZ Fandomwebsite. Some of the panels available are —
Unexplored Archetypes and Mythologies (Octavia Butler, William Wu, Diana Paxson, Paul Edwin Zimmer) (1:14:39, 179 MB)
Life on a Neutron Star (Dr. Robert L. Forward) (1:28:18, 212 MB)
Art as an Outlet for Changemakers (Jeanne Gomoll, D. C. Fontana, Virginia Aalko, CJ Cherryh) (1:07:09, 161 MB)
Critic’s Circle (Bill Patterson, Avedon Carol, Mike Glyer, Gary Farber, Tom Perry, Ted White) (1:04:03, 154 MB)
Dialogue (Samuel R. Delany, Robert Silverberg) (44:39, 107 MB)
(4) A TRIO OF MENTORS. From the Odyssey Writing Workshops come three Odyssey Podcasts — #129 (Holly Black), #130 (E.C. Ambrose) & #131 (Scott H. Andrews)
Holly Black was a guest lecturer at the 2019 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from her question-and-answer session, Holly answers questions about writing young adult and middle grade fiction. One student points out that some people think fantastic creatures must be a certain way. How do you deal with those expectations? Holly says that when writing in a tradition, you’re adding to a conversation. Bring your own perspective into the conversation based on who you are….
E. C. Ambrose was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2020. In this excerpt from her lecture on generating plot from the heart of your story, Elaine talks about “How to Middle,” how to use plot turns to avoid getting mired in the muddy middle. Many writers get stuck after the opening section of their novel or story. Once the characters and situation have been introduced, we need to start playing with those elements, using plot turns and plotting tools. Plot turns change the trajectory of a plot or change the meaning of the story in the mind of the reader. Elaine explains different types of plot turns: the time bomb, the time trap, the crucible, the dilemma, the reversal, the revelation, the confrontation, and natural elements. A lot of flash fiction has a single plot turn, usually a reversal or a revelation. Plot turns can be presented in different ways: through dialogue, action, thought, or narration. The rate of plot turns is a significant factor in the pace of a story.
In Winter 2019, Scott H. Andrews, editor and publisher of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, taught the Odyssey Online course Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate to Readers, and he’ll be teaching an expanded version of the class this winter. In this excerpt from the first class, Scott shares an example from Angela Hunt, in which she describes how reading the sequel to Gone with the Wind had her in tears after a few pages. A character died, one that she had a strong attachment to from the first book. The sequel tapped into the well of emotion she already had. That’s what stories need to do; they need to make the reader feel something by leveraging readers’ past experiences. For writers, this task breaks into two parts. First, the writer needs to get the emotion into the story so the reader understands it. That means making the emotion clear and obvious enough that the reader picks it up. Many writers tend to be overly subtle or oblique about emotion, so it doesn’t come through. Second, the writer needs to make the reader feel the emotion. This involves using concrete images, using the physical rather than the cerebral, and conveying emotion through the prose. Common weaknesses include lack of specificity, ambiguity, and lack of honesty. Writers may flinch from what something really feels like.
…“Family,” which debuted Oct. 1, 1990, is an outlier among Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes; it’s the only episode with no scenes set on the Enterprise-D bridge or to not feature Data (Brent Spinter). It’s also special in that there is no sci-fi B-plot. It’s an off-premise character drama exploring the lives of Picard, Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) and Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) as the Enterprise undergoes repairs post-Borg attack while orbiting Earth. What may seem dull on paper is a compelling and, at times, heartstrings-tugging affair that adds much necessary depth and emotion to three of sci-fi’s most memorable characters.
It’s ironic that an episode loved by so many fans was met with disdain by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
“Gene really hated it,” recalls Moore of his initial story meeting with Roddenberry….
(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
Twenty-five years ago, the Mythopiec Award for Adult Fantasy went to Patricia A. McKillip for her Something Rich and Strange novel. It was written for Brian Froud’s Faerielands series under the creative impulse of Froud’s art. It was published by Bantam Spectra in 1994. It would be her second major award, her first being the World Fantasy Award for The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 3, 1862 – Alice Woodward. Prolific illustrator. For us, children’s books e.g. Adventures in Toyland, The Peter Pan Picture Book, Alice in Wonderland; also Bon Mots of the Eighteenth Century; Gilbert & Sullivan; science. Here are Peter Pan and Wendy flying. Here are Alice and the Caterpillar. Here is Robert Browning’s Pied Piper. Here is a fairy opening a book. (Died 1951) [JH]
Born October 3, 1874 — Charles Middleton. He is no doubt best remembered for his role as the Emperor Ming the Merciless in the three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940 which is only genre production he appeared in save three chapters of a Forties Batman serial in which he played Ken Colton. (Died 1949) (CE)
Born October 3, 1924 – Harvey Kurtzman. Founding editor of Mad. Earned more money by getting Playboy to include Little Annie Fanny which, let’s face it, was exquisitely designed for its market – and satirized its readers. Taught (“Satirical Cartooning”) at the NY School of Visual Arts. European Acad. Comic Book Art Lifetime Achievement Award. Harvey Award named for him. (Died 1993) [JH]
Born October 3, 1931 – Ray Nelson, 89. Eight novels, a score of shorter stories (notably “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”); famed and distinctive as a fanartist, not least for inventing the propeller beanie: the direct connection from Ray to Time for Beany and Beany & Cecil on one tentacle, and numberless drawings in fanzines on another, is known. Rotsler Award. First Fandom Hall of Fame. [JH]
Born October 3, 1935 — Madlyn Rhue. She was in “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends”, nd Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. (Died 2003.) (CE)
Born October 3, 1948 – Marilyn Singer, 72. Over a hundred children’s and young adults’ books; fantasies, realistic novels, nonfiction, poetry. Cybil Award for Mirror, Mirror (reversible verse). Here is Turtle in July. Here is Sky Words. Here is The Dog Who Insisted He Wasn’t (her first). Here is The Circus Lunicus. See her in Wikipedia. [JH]
Born October 3, 1964 — Clive Owen, 56. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in the film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. (CE)
Born October 3, 1969 – Colleen Houck, 51. After 17 years a sign-language interpreter she self-published Tiger’s Curse which became a NY Times Best Seller; five sequels. Reawakened and three sequels another best-seller. Recently The Lantern’s Ember. “Indian mythology is very complex … the same god or goddess can have … incarnations with different names, appearances, and personality traits. My Indian mythology is ‘westernized’…. don’t try to pass a test … based on my version … I hoped to make it … real enough that if you happened to visit Hampi you’d look for the statue and the entrance to Kishkindha.” Don’t miss her husband’s caption glasses. [JH]
Born October 3, 1973 — Lena Headey, 47. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on the most awesome Dredd much better. She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about even though Heath Ledger was in it. (CE)
Born October 3, 1984 — Jessica Parker Kennedy, 36. She played Melissa Glaser on The Secret Circle, and was Nora West-Allen / XS on The Flash; on Smallville, she had the recurring role of Bette Sans Souci / Plastique. Next she was in the principal cast of Black Sails as Max but I’ll leave it to you to judge if that show was genre. (CE)
Born October 3, 1987 – Katsuie Shibata, 33. (Pen name of Shôta Watatani; the original 1522-1583 was a trusted general of Nobunaga Oda 1534-1582 famous in song and story; in Japanese style these are all reversed, with personal name e.g. Nobunaga last) Won the second Hayakawa SF Contest with Niruya Island. Since then, World Insurance (3 vols.), “Southern Cross”, “Princess Diary”, “Quarantine Officer”. Here he is imagining education in 2036 for Ricoh. [JH]
Born October 3, 1988 — Alicia Vikander, 32.She was Ava, an artificial intelligence, in Ex Machina, spooky film it was. Several years later, she starred as Lara Croft in the rebooted Tomb Raider. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., she plays Gaby Teller. Finally she’s The Lady / Esel in The Green Knight, a retelling of the story of Sir Gawain. It’s listed as forthcoming this year. (CE)
Saturday, Oct. 3 marks the 40th anniversary of Somewhere in Time, a film that took one of the longest, weirdest journeys to popularity. It was savaged at the box office for being stodgy, overly romantic, and out of touch. But today, it’s a cult favorite, beloved for the very qualities it was panned for. Its fan base includes retired 4-star General Colin Powell, a couple of FilmWeek critics, and me.
… Christopher Reeve, fresh from Superman, is the playwright. Jane Seymour, then of Battlestar Galactica, is the actress. And Christopher Plummer, who had just killed as Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree, is her controlling manager. The bestselling score was by John Barry, and it was directed by Jeannot Szwarc — who had just saved Universal’s butt by taking over Jaws 2….
(10) SLF SCORES ILLINOIS GRANT. Speculative Literature Foundation director Mary Anne Mohanraj announced the Illinois Arts Council has awarded the SLF a grant for $1700, “which will be a big help as we continue to build out the Portolan Project.” She extended thanks to their Development Director Cee Gee, and to UIC spring interns Darius Vinesar and Emmanuel Henderson “who helped us research and build out a database of grants we should be applying for.”
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Gary Farber, Andrew Porter, Steven H Silver, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Jeanne Gomoll, whose art, design, and organizing energy has propelled and sustained the Award for the last 25 years, is retiring from the Otherwise Motherboard at the end of 2019. The remaining members of the Motherboard are incredibly grateful for Jeanne’s tireless, brilliant work and look forward to celebrating her contributions at WisCon in 2020.
Up until 1991 it felt to me as though the efforts of the Madison SF Group, Janus and Aurora fanzines, and WisCon, to encourage and celebrate feminist science fiction were largely restricted to a single place and to those who came to this place and attended WisCon. Indeed, by the late 1980s, it felt to me as if our efforts to foster feminist SF were increasingly being met with opposition and might possibly have been in danger of flickering out, as the backlash to feminism in general and feminist SF in specific gained strength. Pat Murphy’s 1991 announcement of the Tiptree Award thrilled me and gave me renewed strength. It was as if a small group of us, following a narrow, twisty path had merged with a much wider, well-traveled path. After the Tiptree Award began handing out annual awards and raising funds, and had sparked a massive juggernaut of community activism, I stopped worrying about the viability of the movement.
I will be forever grateful to the Tiptree Award and proud of my work on it. I chaired two Tiptree juries—one in 1993, which chose Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite as the winner; and the other in 2016, which presented the award to When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore. I served on the Motherboard for 25 years, 1994-2019, and worked behind-the-scenes on most of the auctions during those years, and as an artist creating logos, publications, and Tiptree merchandise. I will be forever grateful to the Motherboard for the work we did together and the friendships we created along the way. I am awed by and very proud of the community of writers and readers who supported and were nurtured by the award, even as they guided the award further along the path toward greater diversity and scope.
The Tiptree Award, and now the Otherwise Award will always have my heartfelt support. But it is time for me to step back and make space for a new generation of activists. I want to thank my fellow motherboard founding mothers and members, past and present—Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Jeff Smith, Alexis Lothian, Sumana Harihareswara, Gretchen Treu, Debbie Notkin, Ellen Klages, Delia Sherman—for all they have done and for their friendship, which I will value forever.
(2) THIS IS HORROR. Public nominations are being accepted
through January 8 for the This
Is Horror Awards.
The public nominations are now open for the ninth annual This Is Horror Awards. This year we’ve retained all the categories from last year and added one more, ‘Cover Art of the year’. Here are the categories: Novel of the Year, Novella of the Year, Short Story Collection of the Year, Anthology of the Year, Fiction Magazine of the Year, Publisher of the Year, Fiction Podcast of the Year, Nonfiction Podcast of the Year, and Cover Art of the Year.
Readers can e-mail in their nominations for each category. Taking into consideration the nominations for each category This Is Horror will then draw up a shortlist.
We invite you to include one sentence as to why each nomination is award-worthy.
Jason: How much of an increase in your budget would be required to pay all editorial and publishing staff a living wage?
Scott: Estimating using a salary of $15/hour for the work our staff does, we would need a $45,000 increase in our annual budget to pay all staff a living wage. That’s double what our annual budget is to pay for the stories we publish. To cover that, our monthly donations through Patreon would have to increase by 7000%….
Jason: Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld has said some of the problems experienced by genre magazines come about because “we’ve devalued short fiction” through reader expectations that they shouldn’t have to pay for short stories. Do you agree with this? Any thoughts on how to change this situation?
LDL: …I think the issue is one of exhaustion on the part of volunteer staff and a strained supporter base. In my observation, the people who contribute to zine crowdfunds also contribute to crowdfunds for individuals in emergency situations. There are a lot of emergencies or people in general need, just within the SFF community and funds are finite. If you’re supporting your four favorite zines every year, donating to three medical funds, two Kickstarters, a moving fund, and also taking on costs associated with at least one fandom-related convention every year, it’s not sustainable for a lot of readers, especially the marginalized ones….
Jason: In addition to paying your writers, Asimov’s also pays all of your staff, something which is not common among many of today’s newer genre magazines. Is it possible to publish a magazine like Asimov’s without the support of a larger company, in this case Penny Publications?
Sheila: An anecdotal review of the American market doesn’t really bear that out. F&SF is published by a small company. Analog and Asimov’s are published by a larger (though not huge) publishing company. Being published by a larger company does have its advantages, though. While only one and a half people are dedicated to each of the genre magazines, we do benefit from a support staff of art, production, tech, contracts, web, advertising, circulation, and subsidiary rights departments. I’m probably leaving some people out of this list. While the support of this infrastructure cannot be underestimated, Asimov’s revenue covers our editorial salaries, and our production and editorial costs. We contribute to the company’s general overhead as well.
Jason: Strange Horizons also helped pioneer the idea that a genre magazine could be run as a nonprofit with assistance from a staff of volunteers. What are the pros and cons of this publishing model?
Vanessa: With volunteer staff, the con is simple: no pay. Generally, working for no pay privileges people who can afford to volunteer time, and devalues the work we do as editors. I’d like to think that at SH, we have partially balanced the former by making our staff so large and so international that no one need put in many hours, and folks can cover for you regardless of time zone. Despite having 50+ folks, we’re a close group. Our Slack is a social space, and we bring our worst and best days there for each other. Several members (including me) have volunteered right through periods of un- and underemployment because of the love of the zine and our community….
(4) NEBULA CONFERENCE EARLYBIRD RATE. The rate has been extended
another week —
HelenKay Dimon, a past RWA president, previously told The Guardian that she regularly received letters from white RWA members expressing concern that “now nobody wants books by white Christian women”.
There is “a group of people who are white and who are privileged, who have always had 90% of everything available, and now all of a sudden, they have 80%. Instead of saying: ‘Ooh, look, I have 80%,’ they say: ‘Oh, I lost 10! Who do I blame for losing 10?’” Dimon said.
The tweets that sparked the ethics complaints against Milan, which were posted this August, were part of a broader conversation on romance Twitter about how individual racist beliefs held by gatekeepers within the publishing world have shaped the opportunities available to authors of color.
The…next installment of Frank Herbert’s Dune World saga has been staring me in the face for weeks, ever since I bought the January 1965 issue of Analog. I found I really didn’t want to read more of it, having found the first installment dreary, though who am I to argue with all the Hugo voters?
And yet, as the days rolled on, I came up with every excuse not to read the magazine. I cleaned the house, stem to stern. I lost myself in this year’s Galactic Stars article. I did some deep research on 1964’s space probes.
But the bleak desert sands of Arrakis were unavoidable. So this week, I plunged headfirst into Campbell’s slick, hoping to make the trek to the end in fewer than two score years. Or at least before 1965. Join me; let’s see if we can make it.
In September 1963, Tolkien drafted yet another of a number of letters responding to questions about Frodo’s “failure” at the Cracks of Doom. It’s easy to imagine that he was rather exasperated. Few, it seemed, had really understood the impossibility of Frodo’s situation in those last, crucial moments: “the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum,” Tolkien explained; it was “impossible, I should have said, for any one to resist, certainly after long possession, months of increasing torment, and when starved and exhausted” (Letters 326). Even had someone of unmatched power, like Gandalf, claimed the Ring, there would have been no real victory, for “the Ring and all its works would have endured. It would have been the master in the end” (332).
It would have been the master.
From humble beginnings as a mere trinket bartered in a game of riddles (see the original Hobbit), the Ring grew in power and influence until it did indeed include all of Middle-earth in its simple band of gold. “One Ring to rule them all” wasn’t just meant to sound intimidating—it was hard truth. Even Sauron couldn’t escape the confines of its powers. It was his greatest weakness.
But how did the Ring become the thing around which the entirety of the Third Age revolved (Letters 157)?…
(8) JANUARY 2. Get ready – tomorrow is “National
Science Fiction Day”. It must be legit – “National Science Fiction Day
is recognized by the Hallmark Channel and the Scholastic Corporation.”
National Science Fiction Day promotes the celebration of science fiction as a genre, its creators, history, and various media, too. Recognized on January 2nd annually, millions of science fiction fans across the United States read and watch their favorites in science fiction.
The date of the celebration commemorates the birth of famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. An American author and Boston University professor of biochemistry, Isaac Asimov was born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov on January 2, 1920. He was best known for his works of science fiction and his popular science books.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
January 1, 2007 — The Sarah Jane Adventures premiered starring Elizabeth Sladen who had been in the pilot for K-9 and Company which the Beeb didn’t take to series. The program, which as you well know was a spin-off of Doctor Who, lasted five series and fifty-four episodes. It did not make the final Hugo ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in either 2007 or 2008.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 1, 1854 — James George Frazer. Author of The Golden Bough, the pioneering if deeply flawed look at similarities among magical and religious beliefs globally. He’s genre adjacent at a minimum, and his ideas have certainly been used by SFF writers a lot both affirming and (mostly) critiquing his ideas. (Died 1952.)
Born January 1, 1889 — Seabury Quinn. Pulp writer now mostly remembered for his tales of Jules de Grandin, the occult detective, which were published in Weird Tales from the Thirties through the Fifties. (Died 1969.)
Born January 1, 1926 — Zena Marshall. She’s Miss Taro in Dr. No, the very first Bond film. The Terrornauts in which she’s Sandy Lund would be her last film. (The Terrornauts is based off Murray Leinster‘s The Wailing Asteroid screenplay apparently by John Brunner.) She had one-offs in Danger Man, The Invisible Man and Ghost Squad. She played Giselle in Helter Skelter, a 1949 film where the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, played Charles the Second. (Died 2009.)
Born January 1, 1933 — Joe Orton. In his very brief writing career, there is but one SFF work, Head to Toe which the current publisher says “is a dream-vision allegory of a journey on the body of a great giant or ‘afreet’ (a figure from Arabic mythology) from head to toe and back, both on the body and in the body.” Like his other novels, it’s not available digitally. (Died 1967.)
Born January 1, 1954 — Midori Snyder, 66. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meets Irish myth novel of hers and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati which I’ve not read. With Yolen, Snyder co-authored the novel Except the Queen which I do recommend. (Yolen is one of my dark chocolate recipients.) She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. Anyone know why?
Born January 1, 1957 — Christopher Moore, 63. One early novel by him, Coyote Blue, is my favorite, but anything by him is always a weirdly entertaining read. I’m hearing good things about Noir, his newest work which I’m planning on listening to soon. Has anyone read it?
Born January 1, 1971 — Navin Chowdhry, 49. He’s Indra Ganesh in a Ninth Doctor story, “Aliens of London.“ I also found him playing Mr. Watson in Skellig, a film that sounds really interesting. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that he was Nodin Chavdri in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Born January 1, 1976 — Sean Wallace, 44. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark which I’ve never encountered, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav read of mine. He has won a very, very impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy co-edited with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended by me. He’s not well represented digitally speaking which surprised me.
Born January 1, 1984 — Amara Karan, 36. Though she’s Tita in an Eleventh Doctor story, “The God Complex”, she’s really here for being involved in a Stan Lee project. She was DS Suri Chohan in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, a British crime drama series which is definitely SFF. Oh, and she shows up as Princess Shaista in “Cat Among Pigeons” episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot but even I would be hard put to call that even close to genre adjacent.
Before Dean Parisot signed on to direct Galaxy Quest, Harold Ramis was supposed to helm the movie, which was initially titled Captain Starshine. However, according to Tim Allen, if Ramis directed the film, it wouldn’t have just been titled differently — it would have looked quite different as well.
[…] “Katzenberg pitched me the idea of the commander character and then they started talking and it became clear that Ramis didn’t see me for the part,” Allen said. “It was pretty uncomfortable.”
[…] Interestingly, Sigourney Weaver also wouldn’t have gotten her role as Gwen DeMarco in Galaxy Quest if Ramis had directed the film, despite their relationship from Ghostbusters. “I had heard that Harold was directing a sci-fi movie but he didn’t want anyone who had done sci-fi in the film,” she said. “Frankly, it’s those of us who have done science fiction movies that know what is funny about the genre.”
…I’ll start with this reddit AMA from a few years back, and an interview with Tingle on Nothing in the Rulebook. His answers reveal a consistent approach to the writing life that mirrored the habits of authors who are, possibly, even more well-known than our favorite erotica author.
Asked about a typical writing day, Tingle replies:
yes average day is getting up and having two BIG PLATES of spaghetti then washing them down with some chocolate milk then i get out of bed and meditate to be a healthy man. so when i am meditating i think ‘what kind of tingler would prove love today?’. if nothing comes then i will maybe trot around the house or go to the park or maybe walk to the coffee shop with my son jon before he goes to work. if i have a good idea i will just write and write until it is all done and then I will have son jon edit it and then post it online.
OK, so to translate this a bit out of Tingle-speak, we have a recommendation that you fuel your writing with carbs (and also an unlikely alliance with Haruki Murakami’s spaghetti-loving ways) with a bit of a boost of sugar….
(14) GREASED LIGHTNING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From one of the CES 2020 press
releases I got today…
Subject: [CES NEWS] Experience a Roomba-Like Device that Navigates the Home Charging ALL Devices
…I want to put an innovative device on your radar: RAGU, a Roomba-like robot that navigates the home charging ALL of your devices.
GuRu is the first company to crack the code on totally untethered, over-the-air charging.
discounting remote mal-hackers, this sounds like a recipe for either a droll TV
episode, or Things Going Horribly Wrong. (Fires, fried gear, tased/defibrilated
pets and sleeping people, etc.)
Spare a thought for the poor fat rat of Bensheim, which became stuck in a German manhole in February. She was eventually freed, but not before passers-by took embarrassing photos of her plight. “She had a lot of winter flab,” one rescuer said, compounding the humiliation.
In this case, the animals were the rescuers rather than the rescued (sort of).
Anticipating the threat of wildfires later in the year, staff at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California hired a hungry herd of 500 goats to eat flammable scrub around the building in May.
And so, when fires did strike in October, the library was saved because of the fire break the goats had created by eating the flammable scrub. Nice one, goats.
As always, the existential wisdom of Werner Herzog prevails. “You are cowards,” the director castigated on set of The Mandalorian, upon realizing the producers intended to shoot some scenes without the Baby Yoda puppet in case they decided to go full CGI with the character. “Leave it.”
Herzog, who guest-starred on a few episodes of the Disney+ Star Wars spinoff series, was one of Baby Yoda’s earliest champions. And indeed, Baby Yoda — a colloquial epithet referring to the mysterious alien toddler merely known as “The Child” in the script — was designed for maximum neoteny. The gigantic saucer-like dilated eyes; the tiny button nose; a head that takes up nearly half his body mass; the hilariously oversized brown coat; the peach fuzzy hairs tufted around his head; and the pièce de résistance of his custardy little green face: that minuscule line of a mouth that could curve or stiffen in an instant and erupt a thousand ancient nurturing instincts in any viewer. (He’s the only thing my normally stoic husband has ever sincerely described as “cute.”) Heck, there may very well be a micro generation of Baby Yoda babies about eight months from now, thanks to this frog-nomming, lever-pulling, bone-broth-sipping little scamp.
And all because Jon Favreau and company finally recognized that rubber-and-fabric practical effects will almost always have a greater emotional impact than plasticky digital ones.
The recent success of The Mandalorian, thanks to the adorable face that launched a thousand memes, and Netflix’s fantasy-adventure epic The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, recently nominated for a WGA Award and a Critic’s Choice Award, prove that we still need puppetry and mechanical effects in the age of CGI….
(18) PERRY MASON. My fellow geezers may enjoy this quick
[Thanks to Jo Van Ekeren, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Contrarius, Darrah
Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
(1) SINGING ABOUT PEASPROUT
CHEN. Lightspeed Magazine’s interview
with Henry Lien brought out a fascinating
musical connection —
You’re the first author I’ve interviewed who’s had a Broadway singer perform at the book launch for their debut novel. I watched the promotional video of the one and only Idina Menzel performing the theme song from the first book of your Peasprout Chen series, Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, with you. That’s so cool! What’s the backstory? How did that happen?
We’re represented by the same agency, ICM. She got a hold of the advance reader copy of the first Peasprout Chen book and flipped over it. She asked ICM if they could arrange for her to meet me. After I finished screaming into my pillow, I said, “Oh, well, let me see if I can find a slot in my calendar to squeeze in lunch with Idina Freeggin’ Menzel.” Then I screamed into my pillow some more. We met and really hit it off. She has become a dear friend. So I asked her to sing the theme song for the book at the launch. She said yes. Then I died of shock, and thus am conducting this interview with you from the Beyond.
Scott H. Andrews, founder and editor and publisher of the online magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, celebrated the 10th anniversary of that magazine by hosting a party at the recent World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore, Maryland — which made it seem like the right time for us to discuss that first decade. So we raised a pint at Red’s Table in Reston, Virginia.
Well, he raised a pint — of bourbon-barrel aged Gold Cup Russian Imperial Stout from Old Bust Head Brewery in Fauquier County, Virginia — while I downed my usual bottle of Pellagrino. And as we sipped, we chatted about that work on Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which has so far earned him six World Fantasy Award nominations and six Hugo Award nominations — and won him a British Fantasy Award. He’s a writer as well, with his own fiction appearing in Weird Tales, Space and Time, On Spec, and other magazines.
We discussed the treatment he received as a writer which taught him what he wanted to do (and didn’t want to do) as an editor, how his time as member of a band helped him come up with the name for his magazine, why science fiction’s public perception as a literary genre is decades ahead of fantasy, what it takes for a submission to rise to the level of receiving a rewrite request, the time he made an editor cry (and why he was able to do it), how he felt being a student at the Odyssey Writing Workshop and then returning as a teacher, the phrase he tends to overuse in his personalized rejection letters (and the reason why it appears so often), the way magazine editing makes him like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian, why writers shouldn’t worry about the ratio of submitted stories to purchased ones, the reason he’ll probably never edit novels, what anyone considering starting a magazine of their own needs to know, and much more.
(3) GET ILLUMINATED. “Sacred Texts: Codices Far, Far Away” – Two University of Pennsylvania scholars are doing a
series of videos about the ancient Jedi texts until
Star Wars Episode 9 is released on December 20.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker gathered a small library of ancient Jedi texts and placed them in an uneti tree on Ahch-To.
On October 8, 2018, Dr. Brandon Hawk and curator Dot Porter met to talk about these ancient books, and to compare them with manuscripts from the collection of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania.
The New Horizons probe has sent back its best picture yet of the small, icy object Ultima Thule, which it flew past on New Year’s Day.
The image was acquired when the Nasa spacecraft was just 6,700km from its target, which scientists think is two bodies lightly fused together – giving the look of a snowman.
Surface details are now much clearer.
New Horizons’ data is coming back very slowly, over the next 20 months.
This is partly to do with the great distance involved (the separation is 6.5 billion km) but is also limited by the small power output of the probe’s transmitter and the size (and availability) of the receive antennas here on Earth. It all makes for glacial bit rates.
The new image was obtained with New Horizons’ wide-angle Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) and gives a resolution of 135m per pixel. There is another version of this scene taken at even higher resolution by the probe’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), but this has not yet been downlinked from the probe.
(5) RSR PRO ARTIST
RESOURCE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Greg
Hullender says, “Based on the discussion on File770, we did the experiment of
expanding our Pro Artist list using the ISFDB info. This actually expands it hugely. We ended up not trying to merge the lists for
this year, but we posted the ISFDB data separately just so people could have it
as a resource. It’s awfully nice data, if a bit overwhelming, and it’d be great
to find a good way to use it. We’re hoping people will look at it and offer
some ideas for how to make it a bit more manageable.” — “Pro
Artists from ISFDB Novels 2018”.
Based on some conversations on File 770 about better ways to find candidates for the Best Professional Artist Hugo Award, we decided to try using the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) as a source. The result is spectacular, but maybe a bit overwhelming, so we decided not to try to integrate it with our regular Pro Artists page this year. Instead, we’re treating this as an experiment and inviting feedback on how we might best use this wealth of data in the future to help people who’re trying to find professional artists to nominate.
AND ROBOTS. In
the Winter 2019 Beloit College Magazine,
Susan Kasten (“Why
Frankenstein Will Never Die”) discusses how an English professor, an
anthropologist, a physicist, and a professor of cognitive science team-taught Frankenstein in a class called
“Frankenstein 200: Monster, Myth, and Meme.”
Robin Zebrowski, a professor of cognitive science, pointed out that the themes of Frankenstein — of creation, difference, empathy, monstrosity, and control–are the memes of artificial intelligence. Zebrowski pointed out that early robot stories are about Frankenstein. ‘They’re about building something no one can control once it’s unleashed,’ she said. She noted that the first work of literature ever written about robots–a 1923 Czech play called R.U.R.–is a story about a robot uprising.
Professor Zebrowski believes she is not
related to sff author George Zebrowski.)
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 25, 1915 — First transcontinental telephone call was made, between New York and San Francisco; Alexander Graham Bell and Dr. Thomas A. Watson exchanged greetings.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 25, 1918 – King Donovan. His first first SF film have him as Dr. Dan Forbes in the 1953 The Magnetic Monster and as Dr. Ingersoll In The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The very next year, he plays James O’Herli in Riders to the Stars. And now we get to the film that you know him from — Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which he playsJack Belicec. After that, I show him only in Nothing Lasts Forever which has never been released here in the States. (Died 1987.)
Born January 25, 1943 – Tobe Hooper. Director of such such genre films as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original of course), Poltergeist (damn scary film) Invaders from Mars and Djinn, his final film. He directed a smattering of television episodes including the “Miss Stardust” of Amazing Stories, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” of Freddy’s Nightmares, “Dead Wait” of Tales from the Crypt and the entire Salem’s Lot miniseries. He also wrote a horror novel with Alan Goldsher, Midnight Movie: A Novel, that has himself in it at a speaking engagement. (Died 2017.)
Born January 25, 1958 – Peter Watts, 61.Author of the most excellent Firefall series which I read and enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read the Rifters trilogy so would welcome opinions on it. And his Sunflower linked short stories sound intriguing.
Born January 25, 1963 – Catherine Butler, 56. Butler published a number of works of which the most important is Four British fantasists : place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. Another important work is Reading History in Children’s Books, with Hallie O’Donovan. Her website is here.
Born January 25, 1970 – Stephen Chbosky, 49. Screenwriter and director best-known I’d say for the Emma Watson-fronted Beauty and the Beast. But he also was responsible for the Jericho series which was a rather decent bit of SF even if, like Serenity, it got killed far too quickly. (Yes, I’m editorializing.)
Born January 25, 1973 – Geoff Johns, 46. Where to begin? Though he’s done some work outside of DC, he is intrinsically linked to that company having working for them for twenty years. My favorite work by him in on Batman: Gotham Knights, Justice League of America #1–7 (2013) and 52 which I grant which was over ambitious but really fun.
Born January 25, 1985 – Michael Trevino, 34. Performer, Tyler Lockwood on The Vampire Diaries and now Kyle Valenti on the new Roswell, New Mexico series whose premises I’ll leave you to guess. His first genre appearance was in the Charm episode of “Malice in Wonderland” as Alastair. He also shows up on The Originals, The Vampire Diaries spin-off.
Born January 25, 1985 – Claudia Kim, 34. Only four film films but all genre: she played Dr. Helen Cho Avengers: Age of Ultron followed by voicing The Collective In Equals which Wiki manages to call a ‘dystopian utopia’ film to which I say ‘Eh?!?’, and then Arra Champignon in the 2017 version of The Dark Tower and finally as Nagini, Voldemort’s snake which I presume is a voice role (though I’ve not seen the film so I could be wrong) in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
To produce the deepest image of the Universe from space a group of researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) led by Alejandro S. Borlaff used original images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST taken over a region in the sky called the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF). After improving the process of combining several images the group was able to recover a large quantity of light from the outer zones of the largest galaxies in the HUDF. Recovering this light, emitted by the stars in these outer zones, was equivalent to recovering the light from a complete galaxy (“smeared out” over the whole field) and for some galaxies this missing light shows that they have diameters almost twice as big as previously measured.
As a setting, boarding schools allow for the construction of thrilling narratives: concerned parents are replaced by teachers who may well prioritize student achievement over student welfare, e.g. maximizing points for Gryffindor over the survival of the students earning those points…
Are there any SFF novels featuring boarding schools? Why yes! I am glad you asked—there are more than I can list in a single article. Here are just a few….
Neanderthals may once have been considered to be our inferior, brutish cousins, but a new study is the latest to suggest they were smarter than we thought – especially when it came to hunting.
The research found that the now extinct species were creating weaponry advanced enough to kill at a distance.
Scientists believe they crafted spears that could strike from up to 20m away.
The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Lead researcher Dr Annemieke Milks, from UCL Institute of Archaeology, said: “The original idea was that Neanderthals would have been very limited using hand-delivered spears, where they could only come up at close contact and thrust them into prey.
“But if they could throw them from 15m to 20m, this really opens up a wider range of hunting strategies that Neanderthals would have been able to use.”
Prof Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, explains why some old assumptions about the intellectual capabilities of our evolutionary relatives, the Neanderthals persist today. But a body of evidence is increasingly forcing us to re-visit these old ideas.
A paper out this week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution reports the early arrival of modern humans to south-western Iberia around 44,000 years ago.
Why should this be significant? It all has to do with the spread of our ancestors and the extinction of the Neanderthals. South-western Iberia has been claimed to have been a refuge of the Neanderthals, a place where they survived longer than elsewhere, but the evidence is disputed by some researchers.
The latest paper, which is not about Neanderthals, has been taken by some as evidence of an arrival into this area which is much earlier than previously known.
By implication, if modern humans were in south-western Iberia so early then they must have caused the early disappearance of the Neanderthals. It is a restatement of the idea that modern human superiority was the cause of the Neanderthal demise. Are these ideas tenable in the light of mounting genetic evidence that our ancestors interbred with the Neanderthals?
…“Orbital Reflector,” a sculpture by Trevor Paglen that was recently launched into orbit.
The sculpture is not lost in space as much as stuck in a holding pattern before activation, pending clearance by the Federal Communications Commission. According to the artist, it might not survive the wait while F.C.C. workers are on furlough.
A 100-foot-long mylar balloon coated with titanium oxide, “Orbital Reflector” was designed to be visible to the naked eye at twilight or dawn while in orbit for a couple of months. It would then incinerate upon entering the Earth’s thicker atmosphere.
But although it was sent to space, the balloon was never inflated as planned.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
Odyssey Writing Workshops is offering three live, intensive online classes this winter. Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, however, writers of all genres are welcome to apply. Courses will cover issues relevant to writers of adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. Full information can be found at their website or by emailing email@example.com.
Instructor Scott H. Andrews is the editor-in-chief and publisher of the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a six-time Hugo Award finalist and winner of the World Fantasy Award. When asked the most common weakness in the submissions he receives, Scott says, “Most writers fail to convey character emotions in a powerful way.”
How do you convey a character’s emotion? You might just tell readers what the character is feeling (“He was afraid”), which can convey that information clearly but fail to make the emotion real and immediate. You might try an internal life sign (“His heart pounded”), which can be more immediate but often feels clichéd. Or you might try an external action (“His eyes widened”), but this can sometimes feel like overacting, or if we’re in the character’s point of view, it can feel like we’ve jumped to a point of view outside the character.
Scott will explain the most effective techniques to convey character emotions realistically and powerfully on the page, so that moment by moment, you can create an authentic and evocative experience. He’ll show you which techniques work best for point-of-view characters, and which work best for non-point-of-view characters. He’ll also discuss how to handle multiple emotions, conflicting emotions, and complex emotions, because that’s when stories get really interesting.
More than that, the course will cover strategies for developing situations and stories with strong potential for emotional resonance, and how to use character emotions to make every page a gripping read. You’ll dig deep into your own emotional reservoir to find that emotional truth that will give readers an authentic, powerful, involving experience.
For most writers, crafting strong, effective description is a major struggle. Some avoid description, fearing they’ll lose the reader’s attention, and instead they leave the reader lost in a vast, white nothingness. Some embrace description, drowning the reader in details so important ones are lost and unimportant ones create expectations that will never be fulfilled. Some use a hit or miss approach, throwing in a detail here or there and hoping they’ve magically made the right choices.
You don’t need to guess or struggle anymore. Award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor Lucy A. Snyder will guide you through this critical and often-avoided subject. You’ll learn how to identify the key details that will immerse readers in your world, allow them to feel they know your characters, and put them in the middle of the action. Lucy will explain the qualities of strong description, how to know how much description is enough, which details to include, and where in the scene to include them. You’ll also learn how to use subtext so your description suggests deeper meanings, and how to write description with emotional impact.
More than that, this course will explore the role of point of view in description. How a character sees and describes his world can deepen personality, convey motivation, increase tension, and drive plot. Lucy will also discuss how to use poetic techniques in your description, and how to avoid common descriptive pitfalls. You’ll finish this course feeling much more assured about your description and knowing how to use description to make your story more impactful.
In response to many requests, we’re bringing back this course, one of our most highly rated. There are few things more difficult than revising a novel. You’ve worked on it for months, or years, and you’re so immersed in it you can’t step back and see the big picture. You might polish the draft and make minor changes, but you don’t really know what to change to turn that rough draft into a powerful, unified novel. And chances are, major changes are necessary. In this course, Barbara Ashford, one of our most popular instructors, will guide you in a deep examination of the “big picture” elements of your novel–premise, promise, theme, world, character, plot. Analyzing each of these building blocks and how well they are working together can give you new perspective on your novel, reveal weaknesses, and provide direction for major changes that will help you to maximize your novel’s potential.
Whether you’ve already completed your first draft, are still working on it, or are struggling with revisions, this course will provide invaluable insights into your novel through the lectures, assignments, and critiques. Barbara’s feedback on assignments has been widely praised for its depth and helpfulness.
Barbara’s course will be longer than the standard Odyssey online class, with four class meetings rather than our usual three, so you’ll be able to fully process and incorporate the important concepts discussed. If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo, this course can show you the path from rough draft to completed novel.
In live class meetings, students learn specific, invaluable techniques, ask questions, and participate in discussions. Between meetings, they interact with each other and the instructor in a discussion group, complete demanding assignments, and give and receive in-depth feedback. Each student also has a one-on-one meeting with the instructor.
Odyssey Online offers only three online classes each year and admits only fourteen students per class, to keep quality high and ensure each student receives individual attention.
In ten years, BCS has published over 550 stories and 225 audio podcasts; the magazine or its stories have been finalists for seven Hugo Awards, nine World Fantasy Awards, three Nebula Awards, and numerous other short fiction, magazine, and podcast awards.
The evening’s host will be Scott H. Andrews. Featured authors will be: Fran Wilde, Martin Cahill, Seth Dickinson, Jonathan Edelstein, Rose Lemberg (read by C.S.E. Cooney), & Aliette de Bodard (read by Scott H. Andrews)
Scott H. Andrews
Scott H. Andrews
Scott H. Andrews is a writer, editor, chemistry lecturer, musician, woodworker, and connoisseur of stouts. His literary short fiction has won a $1,000 prize from the Briar Cliff Review, and his genre short fiction has appeared in Ann VanderMeer’s Weird Tales and in On Spec. He is editor-in-chief and publisher of the four-time Hugo Award-finalist fantasy e-zine Beneath Ceaseless Skies and its five-time Parsec Award finalist podcast. Scott lives in Virginia with his wife, two cats, 11 guitars, a dozen overflowing bookcases, and hundreds of beer bottles from all over the world.
Fran Wilde. Photo by Bryan Derballa
Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. She can also tie a bunch of sailing knots, set gemstones, and program digital minions. Her novels and short stories have been finalists for three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and two Hugo Awards, and include her Andre Norton- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel Updraft, its sequels Cloudbound, and Horizon, and the Nebula-, Hugo-, and Locus-nominated novelette The Jewel and Her Lapidary. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. Her poetry has appeared in The Marlboro Review, Articulate, and Poetry Baltimore. She holds an MFA in poetry and an MA in information architecture and interaction design. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and at FranWilde.net.
Martin Cahill is a writer working in Manhattan and living in Astoria, Queens. He is a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Writers’ Workshop and a member of the New York City based writing group, Altered Fluid. He has had fiction published in Fireside Fiction, Nightmare, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, and Lightspeed. Martin also writes non-fiction reviews, articles, and essays for Book Riot, Tor.com, the Barnes & Noble Sci-fi and Fantasy Blog, and Strange Horizons.
Seth Dickinson’s debut novel The Traitor Baru Cormorant (2015), a hard fantasy expansion of a 2011 short story in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, is about a brilliant young woman who sets out to gain power to subvert an empire from within. It won praise from Publishers Weekly and NPR, and its sequel, The Monster Baru Cormorant, is forthcoming in October 2018. Seth’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and nearly every other major science fiction and fantasy market. He’s a lapsed student of social neuroscience, where he studied the role of racial bias in police shootings, and the writer of much of the lore and fictional flavor for Bungie Studios’ smash hit Destiny. In his spare time he works on the collaborative space opera Blue Planet: War in Heaven.
Jonathan Edelstein is forty-six years old, married with cat, and living in New York City. His work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Lacuna Journal, and multiple times in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and he blogs occasionally at haibane.info/author/jonnaomi/. He counts Ursula Le Guin and Bernard Cornwell among his inspirations, and when he isn’t writing, he practices law and hopes someday to get it right.
Rose Lemberg is a queer immigrant from Eastern Europe. Their work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Interfictions, Uncanny, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, and multiple times in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among other venues, and their story “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies was a finalist for the Nebula Awards. Rose co-edits Stone Telling, a magazine of boundary-crossing poetry, with Shweta Narayan. They have edited Here, We Cross, an anthology of queer and gender-fluid speculative poetry from Stone Telling and The Moment of Change, an anthology of feminist speculative poetry. You can find Rose at roselemberg.net and @roselemberg, including links to their page on Patreon, where they post about Birdverse, the world in which their BCS stories and others take place. Rose Lemberg’s work will be read by C.S.E. Cooney.
C.S.E. Cooney is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning short fiction collection Bone Swans: Stories.
Aliette de Bodard
Aliette de Bodard
Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories which have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective, a murder mystery set on a space station in a Vietnamese Galactic empire and inspired by the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist) and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns. Visit her at aliettedebodard.com for writing process and Franco-Vietnamese cooking. Aliette de Bodard’s work will be read by Scott H. Andrews.
Jim Freund is Producer and Executive Curator of The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings.
Tuesday, October 2nd
Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7
The Brooklyn Commons Café
388 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.)
The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series provides performances from some of the best writers in science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, etc. The series usually takes place the first Tuesday of every month.