SFWA’s Nebula Awards Showcase 55 Released

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) spotlights outstanding science fiction and fantasy with the release of the Nebula Awards Showcase 55. The latest volume in a series published annually since 1966 reprints finalists and winners for the 2019 Nebula Awards as voted by SFWA’s full, senior, and associate members.

This volume’s guest editor is Catherynne M. Valente, author of over forty works of science fiction and fantasy, and winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Lambda, Otherwise, Sturgeon, and Locus Awards.

Valente remarks, “The array of nominated works span just about every corner of the genre as it stood in 2019, an incredible spectrum of voices, perspectives, styles, and tales. I’m thrilled to have been able to help in bringing them together to show the truth—which is that we are living, right now, in a new Golden Age of Science Fiction.” 

The anthology retails for $9.99 in ebook format on most online platforms, including Amazon, Apple, and Kobo, with more retailers coming soon. 

As part of the celebration of the Nebula Award winners, SFWA has partnered with audio-first entertainment studio Podium Audio to adapt, produce, and distribute the Nebula Awards Showcase 55 in audio format as well. Publication of the audio version will be announced at a later date.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “The Best of Twines, the Worst of Rhymes: A Tale of Two C++ies (or, Why Game Writing Is Bad and Great)” by Seth Dickinson
  • “Queering Chaos” by Foz Meadows
  • “Lois McMaster Bujold and Being a Grand Master” by LaShawn Wanak
  • “Give the Family My Love” by A. T. Greenblatt*
  • “The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power” by Karen Osborne
  • “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing” by Shiv Ramdas
  • “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island” by Nibedita Sen
  • “A Catalog of Storms” by Fran Wilde
  • “How the Trick Is Done” by A.C. Wise
  • “A Strange Uncertain Light” by G. V. Anderson
  • “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carrol
  • “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal
  • “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “Carpe Glitter” by Cat Rambo*
  • “The Archronology of Love” by Caroline M. Yoachim
  • Excerpt: A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker*
  • Excerpt: Riverland by Fran Wilde*
  • Excerpt: “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” by Ted Chiang
  • Excerpt: “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” by P. Djèlí Clark
  • Excerpt: “This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone*
  • Excerpt: “Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water” by Vylar Kaftan
  • Excerpt: “The Deep” by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes
  • Excerpt: “Catfish Lullaby” by A.C. Wise

[Based on a press release.]

#DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force Comments on Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit Against Disney

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force has called on Disney to respect Scarlett Johansson’s professional and artistic work on the film Black Widow. They say in a new press release: “The first way to respect Ms. Johansson is to pay her properly and not use unethical contractual maneuvers to avoid payment. This is not the first time the Task Force has seen Disney attempt such twisting of contractual language.”  

The #DisneyMustPay Task Force is working to ensure that contracts are honored for all creators. This includes writers, actors, illustrators, and other artists. The Task Force contends, “Disney has a pattern of behavior that forces creators to jump through unnecessary and tedious hoops to receive their agreed-upon payments. They continue finding new ways to avoid paying people for their creativity and honoring their contracts. Disney must pay all creators for their work, and the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is leading the way to make sure that happens.”

Background on the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force: The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force identifies and guides authors and other creators who might be owed money. Disney is refusing to cooperate with the Joint Task Force to identify affected authors and other creators. The Task Force was formed by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) and includes the Authors GuildHorror Writers AssociationInternational Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller WritersMystery Writers of America National Writers UnionNovelists, Inc., Romance Writers of AmericaSisters in Crime (SinC),  Writers Guild of America West (WGAW), and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). Individual writers on the Task Force are Neil GaimanLee GoldbergMary Robinette KowalChuck Wendig, and Tess Gerritsen

The#DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force makes sure writers’ and other creators’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between them, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns. Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.

[Based on a press release.]

Coast to Coast! WGA West and WGA, East Join #DisneyMustPay Task Force

Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) are joining the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force. The Task Force’s goals are to ensure that all writers who are owed royalties and/or statements for their media-tie in work are identified and that Disney and other companies honor their contractual obligations to those writers after acquiring the companies that originally hired the writers. 

“We’re seeing the abuses of consolidation negatively affect all creative people in the entertainment business,” said WGAW President David A. Goodman, “and as we are an organization devoted to protecting writers, making sure that their contracts are enforced and that they are fairly compensated for their work, supporting this task force as an absolute necessity.”

WGAE President Beau Willimon said, “As a union fighting for the rights of people who craft stories, we believe these writers deserve to share in the value created by their work.  Their battle is our battle.”

“WGA West and WGA, East are bringing more firepower to the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Task Force Chair. “They are legendary in their passion, commitment, and success in protecting the rights of writers. And they know a thing or two about doing battle in Hollywood and New York.”

The Task Force has made progress, notably ensuring that three well-known media tie-in authors have been paid and attaining the cooperation of BOOM! Studios in identifying affected authors. However, over a dozen additional authors are still in negotiations with Disney. Many of them, especially ones with lesser-known names, find communications with Disney repeatedly stalled until pressure is again applied by the Task Force and its supporters. 

Fans, fellow writers, and the creative community need to continue to post on social media showing their support so the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force can help writers. Thanks to their support, the message is reaching Disney and related organizations to alert them to the work they need to do to honor their contractual obligations. 

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force, formed by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA), includes the Authors GuildHorror Writers AssociationInternational Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller WritersMystery Writers of America National Writers UnionNovelists, Inc., Romance Writers of AmericaSisters in Crime (SinC), and now, Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). Individual writers on the Task Force include Neil Gaiman, Lee Goldberg, Mary Robinette Kowal, Chuck Wendig, and Tess Gerritsen. The Task Force identifies and guides authors who might be owed money.Disney is refusing to cooperate with the Task Force to identify affected authors. 

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force makes sure writers’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between the authors, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns. 

Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.

[From a press release.]

SFWA Shares Findings on Comics Writing and Graphic Novelist Pay

[Based on a press release.]

The Comics Committee of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) has announced survey results documenting current industry norms for advances and per-page payment rates for the work of comics writers and graphic novelists. 

Sixteen acquiring editors (50%), publishers (25%), and literary agents (25%) responded to the first survey designed for industry professionals (download report). Sixty-one creators of comics and graphic novels responded to the second survey geared toward answering questions on actual earnings for their work. Their experience in the industry ranged from less than 1 year (5%), to 1 to 5 years (36%), to 6 to 10 years (23%), to more than 11 years (36%; download report). 

Key findings from the surveys:

  • The median advance creators received for a graphic novel was $9,400 solely for writing and $32,000 for creators who both wrote and illustrated their books. 
  • For comics that pay by the page, the median rate received solely for writing was $60/page, and the median rate for both writing and illustration was $70/page, a comparatively small difference. 
  • Creators who were paid by other methods than advances or per page rates reported similar figures, with a median of $8,780 paid for their work. Over half of those paid another way reported that they were paid via royalties only, with no advance. Crowdfunding and patronage models were also reported. 
  • Industry professionals were asked what they felt was the minimum professional advance and per page rates for writing comics or an average-length graphic novel. The high and median answers given were the same ($10,000), indicating a high level of agreement with that advance figure as a minimum professional rate. The median rate per page, however, was $45/page, with a high of $100/page and a low of $25/page. 
  • Industry professionals indicated that the intended reader-age category for a work may affect a creator’s pay rates.

The survey did not ask respondents to specify whether their reported pay was for creator-owned or work-for-hire projects, although generally, comics or graphic novels that pay by the page are often licensed titles with work-for-hire contracts. In the future, this is an area the committee would like to look into more closely.

“Our results illustrate that while comics and graphic novel publishing is robust, many publishers are unfortunately still paying far below what is considered to be a minimum professional rate, highlighting the need to push for higher standards of pay,” said Alison Wilgus, SFWA Comics Committee chair. “Going forward, this data will help us make informed and effective decisions as to how SFWA can best meet the needs of its new members from the comics community. I’m proud of the work the committee has done to date, and excited for what the future holds!” 

SFWA’s Board of Directors is carefully considering multiple factors, including these survey results, in the development of membership guidelines for the admittance of comics writers and graphic novelists. The Board thanks the Committee for their outstanding work and this useful contribution to the speculative fiction community.

For questions, please contact operations@sfwa.org.

[Based on a press release.]

#DisneyMustPay Task Force Expands Focus to All Comic Book Creators

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is expanding its focus and reaching out to all comic book and graphic novel creators who may be missing royalty statements and payments from Disney and its companies. 

“Writers, artists, illustrators, letterers, and other artists are valued members of the creative teams that produce art and literature that is enjoyed by millions,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Task Force Chair. “We are inviting these talented artists to share their stories and we will fight for them to receive the money that is owed to them.”

All potentially affected writers and artists should contact the Task Force to share their stories. Creators who are missing royalties or royalty statements may fill out this form hosted by SFWA. Anonymity is guaranteed.

Lee Goldberg, Task Force member and founder of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), adds his thoughts about the need for the #DisneyMustPay Task Force to expand its reach to all creators:

“Novelists and illustrators provide a rich, all-encompassing story-telling experience, their words creating fully flesh-out characters and detailed images, if not entire worlds and universes, in the readers’ minds. The authors and artists honored their obligation to write and create their books. Now Disney should have the decency and integrity to honor their obligation to pay them. It’s that simple.”

Sandra Wong, National President of Sisters in Crime, states:

“Sisters in Crime believes that writers and creators should be paid what they’re legally owed for their work, no matter the media or genre. We joined the Task Force to help spread the word to potentially affected authors, since Disney has placed the onus to be paid on writers and creators, and to lend our voice to an issue which has potential consequences for all creators.”

The Task Force’s goals are to ensure that all writers and creators who are owed royalties and/or statements for their media-tie in work are identified and that Disney and other companies honor their contractual obligations to those writers and creators after acquiring the companies that originally hired them. 

Fans, fellow writers, and the creative community need to continue to post on social media showing their support, so the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force can help writers. The Task Force says, “Thanks to their support, the message is reaching Disney and related organizations, to alert them to the work they need to do to honor their contractual obligations.”

Progress has been made, most notably ensuring that three well-known media tie-in authors have been paid and attaining the cooperation of BOOM! Studios in identifying affected authors. However, over a dozen additional authors are still in negotiations with Disney. Many of them, especially ones with lesser-known names, find communications with Disney repeatedly stalled until pressure is again applied by the Task Force and its supporters. 

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force, formed by SFWA, includes the Authors GuildHorror Writers AssociationInternational Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller WritersMystery Writers of America National Writers UnionNovelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime (SinC). Individual writers on the Task Force include Neil Gaiman, Lee Goldberg, Mary Robinette Kowal, Chuck Wendig, and Tess Garritsen. The Task Force identifies and guides authors and creators who might be owed money. Disney is refusing to cooperate with the task force to identify affected authors. 

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force notes they are working to make sure creators’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between the creators, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns. 

Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.

Pixel Scroll 7/29/21 How Many Hugo Finalists Can Scroll On The Head Of A Pixel

(1) WHO’S NEXT? The Thirteenth Doctor and the showrunner will both be replaced reports Radio Times: “Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall confirmed to leave Doctor Who”.

Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall.

Both star and showrunner will bow out following a six-part series (set to air later in 2021), two specials (already planned for 2022), plus one final feature-length adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor which will also mark the BBC’s centenary next year.

In a statement, Chibnall said: “Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys.

“Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour. She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!…”

Whittaker, who was cast as the first female incarnation of the Doctor in 2017, said: “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.

“We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

A RadioTimes.com poll last year voted Whittaker the show’s second most popular Doctor of all time, behind David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

It’s not obvious who the candidates are to take over as showrunner says Radio Times: “Doctor Who’s ‘new generation’ will be announced ‘in due course’”.

…Within the current stable of Who writers, only a handful (including Vinay Patel and Pete McTighe) have written more than one episode, and it’s unclear whether the BBC would look within the current writing staff or elsewhere to find someone to take on the often demanding showrunner job.

In other words, the speculation isn’t just for who could replace Jodie Whittaker any more. Who is the new Chris Chibnall? Taking all bets…

And there’s been an adjustment to the schedule of Doctor Who episodes and specials to accommodate the BBC’s 100th anniversary celebration next year: “Doctor Who series 13 will be six episodes long – with specials in 2022”.

The upcoming thirteenth series of Doctor Who will be six episodes long, the BBC has confirmed.

It was originally announced that there would be eight episodes in the season, but it has now been announced that the main series will consist of just half a dozen episodes, each of which will form part of an ongoing storyline.

In addition, a trilogy of specials will now air in 2022 – one more than had previously been planned, with the first airing on New Year’s Day 2022 and a second following later in spring 2022.

…The third feature-length special, in which the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate, will then air in autumn 2022, forming part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations.

(2) COVID POLICIES FOR TWO MEGACONS. PAX West, which is September 3-6 this year, is requiring proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendance this year — see “Health & Safety Update”.

Throughout the year, the PAX team has been actively working to support a safe environment for our PAX West visitors. We are pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at PAX West. We appreciate your patience as we worked with our venue and the authorities to create our comprehensive plan….

Dragon Con, which is the same weekend, has promised to set its policy at least 30 days before the con, which means it should be announced by next week.

…As the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic, the rules and expectations are changing fast. We are working closely with the public health officials at the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Fulton County Health Department and the experts hired by our hotels to establish a set of health and safety protocols. We don’t know at this point what these ground rules will look like by Labor Day, but we are committed to communicating them as soon as the plan is finalized and at least 30 days before the convention.

(3) WINDOW ON A CENTURY. Tanner Greer asks what we can learn from the popularity of YA in “Escaping Only So Far” in City Journal.

…Future social historians will not be able to consult an oral tradition of fairy tales in an investigation of the twenty-first century’s “mental ordering,” but they will have an equally vast catalog of fictional narratives at their disposal. For the most popular stories of our own day also tend toward the fantastic. Speculative fiction—fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian prophecies—has captured the imagination of twenty-first-century man. These flights of fancy are the cornerstone of our popular culture; their protagonists are our cultural heroes. They testify to the power of escapism.

Yet like the fairy tales of old, our escapist yarns can escape only so far. Their imagery and plotting are irrevocably tied to our society. Despite their diverse subgenres and distinct audiences, these fictional narratives share a set of attitudes and convictions about the nature of authority, power, and responsibility. They provide a window into the moral economy of the twenty-first century’s overmanaged meritocrats.

The rise of the young-adult novel is the most significant literary event of this century. The significance of the genre—often simply called “YA”—is best appreciated when juxtaposed with general trends in Anglophone reading. In an age that has seen both the average number of books read and the average number of hours spent reading steeply decline, YA readership has exploded, and not just among young adults. In 2012, one marketing firm discovered that slightly more than half of all American YA readers were older than 22. Just under one-third were somewhere between 30 and 44…. 

(4) ALMOST HAD A SHORT LIFE. Gizmodo reports the “Lord of the Rings Studio Wanted Peter Jackson to Kill a Hobbit”.

…Speaking to IGN about their new Lord of the Rings podcast series—called “Friendship Onion”—Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd (who played Merry and Pippin) touched upon a time when pressure from executives above the Lord of the Rings production team wanted to amplify the stakes of the series by killing off one of its four smallest stars. Apparently, the tall folk were off-limits, and the stakes of, say, a massive war between the forces of good and evil for the fate of all Middle-earth could only be raised if you found one of the cutest hobbits around and stabbed them to death or something.

“It’s a good job that didn’t happen, because it would have been me,” Monaghan joked to IGN. “It definitely would have. There’s no way they are killing Frodo and Sam, and the only ones that would be left would be Merry and Pippin. They wouldn’t kill Pippin because Pippin has a really strong story with Gandalf. It would have definitely been me.”

(5) HALFLING MYTHCON THIS WEEKEND. The virtual “Halfling” 2021 Mythopoeic Society conference takes place online July 31-August 1. They are offering a special “flat rate” conference membership of $20, whether or not you’re a member of the Mythopoeic Society. 

(6) WATCH THE 2021 NEBULA CEREMONY. SFWA has posted video of The 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony held June 5. (The list of winners is here.)

June 5th, 2021 marked the 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony! Writer and Comedian Aydrea Walden hosted for a second year, and the awards were presented by multiple notable figures in the science fiction and fantasy community!

(7) A HOLLOW VOICE SAYS PUGH. “Scarlett Johansson sues Disney for releasing ‘Black Widow’ in theaters and on Disney+” reports Yahoo! The decision impacted her paycheck.

Scarlett Johansson may have retired as the Avengers’s resident Black Widow and passed the torch to Florence Pugh, but it appears that the actress still has some unfinished business with Marvel Entertainment and its parent company, Walt Disney. As originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, the actress — who played Natasha Romanoff over a 10-year period from 2010’s Iron Man 2 to the Black Widow solo adventure that opened in July after a year-long delay — has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against her former employers.

At issue is the way that Disney ultimately chose to release the movie. Originally scheduled to open exclusively in theaters in May 2020, Black Widow was repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eventually, the studio made the decision to pursue a hybrid release, opening the massively-budgeted movie in multiplexes the same day it premiered on the Disney+ streaming as a Premier Access title. (Premier Access films are available to Disney+ subscribers for an extra $29.99 surchage.)

According to the lawsuit that Johansson filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, that hybrid release plan breached her original contract with Marvel Entertainment and Disney, which reportedly guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release. Furthermore, her salary for the film would be based largely on how it performed at the box office…. 

(8) TOWARDS CHEAPER FREE SPEECH. At The Dream Foundry, Jean-Paul Garnier offers “Freeware Solutions for Building Your Podcasting Studio”.

Starting your first podcast can be daunting. Perusing microphones and equipment, while fun, can be disheartening as the cost quickly becomes prohibitive. But one need not get discouraged, as it is possible to get started with a very small (or no) budget. Many of the things you will need can be obtained for free and in this article we’ll show you where to find the tools you need. 

When it comes to microphones you can be looking at spending anywhere from 10s of dollars to 1000s, but the cell phone in your pocket already has a pretty decent mic built-in, and it’s good enough to get you started. Most cell phones will also have a built-in recording app, and there are plenty you can download for free. If using these go into the settings and make sure to set the sample rate and bit depth as high as possible.

Once you have made your recording it’s time to edit the recording into the beautiful finished product that will be your podcast. Fortunately from here on out everything you’ll be needing can be downloaded for free, and many of the tools we’ll be discussing are powerful and versatile…. 

(9) A NEBULOUS WINNER. As a byproduct of another author mourning how his name got misspelled in a recent award shortlist announcement I learned that Isaac Asimov famously suffered the same indignity – see the “Isaac Asimov FAQ” at Asimov Online.

Asimov hated it when his name was misspelled in print or mispronounced by others. His desire to have his name spelled correctly even resulted in a 1957 short story, “Spell my Name with an ‘s'”.

(Notable instances of his name being misspelled occurred on the cover of the November 1952 issue of Galaxy, which contained “The Martian Way”, and on his 1976 Nebula Award for “The Bicentennial Man”.)

When in 1940 he wrote a letter to Planet Stories, which printed it and spelled his name “Isaac Asenion”, he quickly fired off an angry letter to them. (His friend Lester Del Rey took great delight in referring to him as “Asenion” for many years afterward. On the other hand, Asimov himself referred to positronic robots with the Three Laws as “Asenion” robots in The Caves of Steel.)

Asimov was quite perturbed when Johnny Carson, host of the Tonight Show, pronounced his first name as I-ZAK, with equal emphasis on both syllables, during an appearance on the television show in New York in 1968.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • July 29, 1953 – Sixty-eight years on this date, War of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City. It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson with narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The Martian war machines were designed by Al Nozaki, and the sizzling sound effect would be used again as the first Trek series phaser sound. (You know what novel it was adapted from.) The film was both a critical and box office success with its earnings making it the top SF film of the year. Weirdly, it would win a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form due to its running time of 85 minutes (per IMDB). Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a seventy-one percent rating.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 29, 1876 Maria Ouspenskaya. In the Forties, she did a run of pulp films, to wit The Wolf ManFrankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and Tarzan and the Amazons. A decade or so earlier, she was in the fantasy film Beyond Tomorrow. (Died 1949.)
  • Born July 29, 1888 Farnsworth Wright. Editor of Weird Tales. He regularly published Smith, Lovecraft and Howard, and even Hamilton. He’s also noteworthy for starting the commercial careers of three noteworthy fantasy artists — Bok, Brundage and Finlay. He’s been nominated for three Retro Hugos to date. (Died 1940.)
  • Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. She founded Atheneum Children’s Books, and she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. As an author, she wrote three genre novels, Strange TomorrowBeloved Benjamin Is Waiting and But We Are Not of Earth, and a reasonable amount of short fiction, all of which is In the Clordian Sweep series. Nine of those stories are in The Turning Point collection. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 29, 1941 David Warner, 80. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful
  • Born July 29, 1955 Dave Stevens. American illustrator and comics artist. He created The Rocketeer comic book and film character. It’s worth noting that he assisted Russ Manning on the Star Wars newspaper strip and worked on the storyboards for Raiders of the Lost ArkThe Rocketeer film was nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon which was the year Terminator 2: Judgment Day won. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 29, 1982 Dominic Burgess, 49. His first genre roles are sixteen years back as a cop in Batman Begins, and as Agorax in the Ninth Doctor story, “Bad Wolf”. A decade later, he gets his first recurring role as Ember in The Magicans. He’s had roles in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The LeftoversThe Good PlaceTeen WolfThe FlashSupernaturalAmerican Horror Story: Apocalypse and Picard.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full has one of Charlotte’s forgotten web messages.
  • Crankshaft has a garden so overflowing with zucchini it reminds somebody of a Star Trek reference.

(13) THIS IS HILARIOUS. I had never seen The Core (2003) before today when I flicked on Pluto TV in time to watch the scene where they land the Space Shuttle in the Los Angeles River (!!!) This was hilarious. The best thing since the Galaxy Quest landed in the convention center parking lot.

And it turns out there’s a whole oral history post of filmmakers telling how the scene was created – visual effects, models, water imagery, etc., in “’That will not work, Houston, we got bridges every few 100 yards’” at Befores & Afters. You can watch the scene here:

(14) BUSTED. In the latest Rite Gud podcast Raquel S. Benedict says “Genre Busting Makes Me Feel Good”.

Genre is safe. Genre is comfortable. Genre tells us, as readers, what to expect. As writers, genre gives us guidelines to follow, which can make it a lot easier to plan a story: put the villain monologue here, put the meet cute there, tragically kill the protagonist’s mentor in this part of the story. But do we rely on genre conventions too much? Can genre hold us back? Is genre busting good? In this episode of Rite Gud, we are joined by writer and designer Matt Maxwell.

(15) WELL… In “Playing Favorites With Favorites, or, What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Favorite Books” at Tor.com, Molly Templeton explores the complex experience of trying to answer an icebreaker question.

What’s your favorite book?

Maybe there are people for whom this isn’t a loaded question. I’m not sure I’ve met any of them. “Favorite” is a freeze-up word, a demand impossible to meet. Picking just one? Are you serious? But there are 17 books from just last year that are my favorites!

The thing about this question, though, is that it isn’t entirely about the answer. It’s also about what the answer seems to say—the shorthand inherent in talking about books, and who reads what, and what we get out of and return to in the ones we hold closest to our hearts. If someone tells you their favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye, you are likely to draw some conclusions about them. Same goes for someone who names The Princess Bride, or The Lord of the Rings. But what if they say A Tale for the Time Being or Firebreak or The Summer Prince? Does the answer still mean much if you don’t recognize the book?

(16) YOU’RE HIRED. Gawker is back, as the New York Times notes in “Gawker: The Return”, and which I report here because I love the new editor’s modest resume:

…In her editor’s note on Wednesday, Ms. Finnegan wrote that when approached to lead the site last year, she had said, “Absolutely no way in hell.”

A second approach in January won her over. Ms. Finnegan hired a team of 12, mostly women, including four contributing writers.

“I suppose my selling points as a potential editor in chief of Gawker were that I had previously worked at Gawker and Bustle and was unemployed,” Ms. Finnegan wrote. “I was also willing to do it, which not many people can say.”

(17) MOD ARRIVES AT ISS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Russian module, Nauka, has completed its trip to the International Space Station, though there are still nearly a dozen (previously planned) spacewalks needed to put it into service. You may recall that Nauka initially had problems completing engine burns necessary to match orbits with the ISS. “Russian lab module docks with space station after 8-day trip” at Yahoo!

The 20-metric-ton (22-ton) Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, docked with the orbiting outpost in an automatic mode after a long journey and a series of maneuvers. Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, confirmed the module’s contact with the International Space Station at 13:29 GMT.

The launch of Nauka, which is intended to provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew, had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.

In 2013, experts found contamination in its fuel system, resulting in a long and costly replacement. Other Nauka systems also underwent modernization or repairs.

Nauka became the first new module in the Russian segment of the station since 2010. On Monday, one of the older Russian modules, the Pirs spacewalking compartment, undocked from the Space Station to free up room for the new module….

The International Space Station is currently operated by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

In 1998, Russia launched the station’s first module, Zarya, which was followed in 2000 by another big module, Zvezda, and three smaller modules in the following years. The last of them, Rassvet, arrived at the station in 2010.

(18) CREDIT WHERE DUE. There a whole internet industry devoted to identifying movie continuity and set decoration goofs. But sometimes filmmakers get it right! Yahoo! lists “34 Super Small Details In The ‘Back To The Future’ Trilogy That Are Smarter Than All Of Us”.

13. The clock tower’s damage is consistent.

At the beginning of Back to the Future (1985), there’s no damage on the clocktower ledge. When Marty comes back to 1985 at the end, you can see the damage from when Doc was up there to send him back in 1955. from MovieDetails

14. And it’s still broken in 2015.

In Back To The Future 2, the ledge on the clock tower that Doc broke in Back To The Future is still broken from MovieDetails

15. Oh, and that guy Marty’s talking to? He’s the mechanic in 1955!!!

In Back to the Future Part II (1989), the elderly man raising money to save the clock tower in 2015 (who also inadvertently gives Marty the idea to buy the Sports Almanac) is the mechanic who removed the horse manure from Biff’s car in 1955. from MovieDetails

The mechanic is played by Charles Fleischer, who voices Roger Rabbit. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is another movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.

(19) ASSIMILATE THIS. Nature reports “Massive DNA ‘Borg’ Structures Perplex Scientists”:

The Borg have landed — or, at least, researchers have discovered their counterparts here on Earth. Scientists analysing samples from muddy sites in the western United States have found unusual DNA structures that seem to scavenge and ‘assimilate’ genes from microorganisms in their environment, much like the fictional Borg — aliens in Star Trek that assimilate the knowledge and technology of other species. These extra-long DNA strands join a diverse collection of genetic structures — including circular plasmids — known as extrachromosomal elements (ECEs). Most microbes have one or two chromosomes that encode their genetic blueprint. But they can host, and often share between them, many distinct ECEs. These carry non-essential but useful genes. Borgs are a previously unknown, unique and “absolutely fascinating” type of ECE, says Jill  Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her colleagues described the Borgs’ discovery earlier this month. month (B. Al-Shayeb et al. Preprint at bioRxiv https://doi.org/gnsb; 2021).

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Loki Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, says there’s at least a half hour of talking in every episode (like the architect scene in The Matrix) and people who think Loki in a multiverse is a spoiler should avoid the subtitle of Doctor Strange 2:  In The Multiverse Of Madness.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Petréa Mitchell, Rob Thornton, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Michi Trota Resigns as SFWA Editor-in-Chief

Michi Trota, right, at the 2017 Hugo ceremony.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced today that Michi Trota has resigned SFWA Editor-in-Chief.

Trota took the job in December 2019, and for the last year-and-a-half has built up SFWA’s Publications department, defining many of the roles and processes that will enable the SFWA staff to continue producing The Bulletin, the annual Nebula Showcase Anthology, the monthly member newsletter The Singularity, and the bimonthly New Releases Newsletter.

Trota shared the following statement at the SFWA Blog

It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as SFWA Editor-in-Chief. Being the first person of color to step into this role at SFWA was an opportunity I had never envisioned for myself, and I can’t thank former president Mary Robinette Kowal, current president Jeffe Kennedy, and both recent and current board members for providing the support, resources, and autonomy necessary for me to succeed in this role. Their actions have set a gold standard for what I will look for in future roles with other organizations, and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned with SFWA to my ever-expanding editorial role at the BIPOC-led news organization Prism

I’m sad to leave, but beyond proud of the work that I was able to accomplish during my time at SFWA. I have the utmost faith and trust in the SFWA publications team—Managing Editor Kevin Wabaunsee, Art Director Lauren Raye Snow, Blog Editor C.L. Clark, Communications Manager Rebecca Gomez Farrell, as well as our incredible volunteers—to continue evolving and building SFWA Publications into more than I could imagine. Thank you to everyone who made my time with SFWA such a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

The SFWA Board said the remaining publications team team and SFWA’s executive staff will continue working on all existing projects. This includes The Bulletin’s 2021 Winter/Spring double issue, which has been delayed but is now expected to be released in August. Guest editors Sascha Stronach and Yilin Wang will be in charge of curating its next two issues, as previously announced.

They anticipate releasing Nebula Showcase #55 in August, and aim to release #56 by the end of the year. They also said their newsletters have come out on a mostly regular schedule for the past year, and they expect that to continue. 

Michi Trota is a multiple Hugo Award winner, British Fantasy Award winner, and the first Filipina to win a Hugo Award. She also has over 25 years of editorial and production experience in publishing and communications. She served as Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy’s Managing Editor (2014-2019) and Nonfiction Editor (2019). Her nonfiction has been published in The Book SmugglersInvisible: An Anthology of Representation in SF/F, and Chicago Magazine, and she was the exhibit text writer of Worlds Beyond Here: Expanding the Universe of APA Science Fiction (2018-2019) at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle, WA. She is shortlisted for the 2021 Ignyte Awards’ Ember Award for unsung contributions to genre.

“All Because of You” Lyrics from the Nebula Awards Ceremony

A high spot of the 56th Annual Nebula Awards livestream was host Aydrea Walden’s fantastic performance of a song referencing all 41 finalists. With the kind permission of all concerned, File 770 is able to present the lyrics she sang. (See the video at the end of the post.)


ALL BECAUSE OF YOU
Lyrics by Aydrea Walden and Jocelyn Scofield
Music by Jocelyn Scofield

I’ve been alone, totally solo
I didn’t know how I would fare
Away from my friends, away from my family
Wondering
what’s going on out there

But then I had a spark, a realization
While floating here all by myself
I’m actually in the best of company
Because you’re on my shelf

I’ve been transformed to someone new
And it’s all because of you…

I missed human connection, I wanted that a lot
So, I processed all that Lingered, then found a Squirrel and Fox
It was hard being patient, my only snuggles were in dreams
Like waiting 40 years to learn your Four Profound Weaves

My days became all blurry, trapped inside this cage
Then I found the Riot Baby, someone to share my rage
Thought about my Stepsister and had a dark vision
That we were both locked up in a shifting Shadow Prison

I’ve been transformed to someone new
And it’s all because of you

Didn’t know where the future would lead
Felt just like a Working Breed
Politics broke me, brought me to my knees
So, I turned to Elatsoe for justice seeking

I missed all the ways I used to motor all around
Busses, and Route Zeros, and the Luminous Underground
I prayed this isolation was an accidental error
Needed my own guide just like my Spirtfarer

Sent thousands of texts to friends one and all
Their answers all [REDACTED] like the rules of Blaseball
Went down to Hades to fight through the abyss
Then I came up for a breath of Scents and Semiosis

I’ve been transformed to someone new
And it’s all because of you

I made funny vids, never sure whether
I’d find true connection, like Raybearer
My cake attempt left my tummy aching
Til I opened A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

I felt weird not even trying to dress my bottom half
But I have Two Truths and a Lie to distract me from that
Tried being Super, even thought about a Pill
You kept me occupied, I’m so obsessed with your skill

I tried to keep a smile despite all that I saw
I tried staying hopeful in my Tower of Mud and Straw
If I could just keep going and somehow not freak out
I could do the impossible just like the girls in Ring Shout

I’ve been transformed to someone new
And it’s all because of you

My Instagram rants went far too far
So I summoned my resolve like the Daughter of a Star
When hope was waning, and I only had doubts
I’d revisit that Haunted Open House

I knew that I could make it, this wouldn’t be goodbye
If those Badass Moms can do it, then darnit, so could I
When everything was too much, and I yearned for a new path
I got out my abacus and I worked that Portal Math

I knew that I could make it because they did in Ife-Iyoku
Once I got a grip on Zooming, I knew that I’d pull through
And stand up to Midnight Bargains, even under a Black Sun
Like in Network Effect, there’d be some drastic action

I’ve been transformed to someone new
And it’s all because of you

My home haircut, sad but triumphant
Cuz I found my own Ghost for comfort
Time to undock and coast out yonder
This trip is my Eight Thousander

Getting back to normal will be fun and weird and messy
Exiting this labyrinth like we’re all Piranesi
When this has passed us and when this journey’s done
I’m fascinated to see what City We’ve Become

Some things will change, but friends, we’ve totally got this
We’ll sort out this new mystery like a true Mexican Gothic
Soon we’ll be together Toasting Nebula
Having wild adventures like they did in Finna

Thank you all for joining me, and for being my light
I thought your words would comfort me, guess what I was right
Congrats to all, it’s gonna be a great night
And it’s all because
And it’s all because
And it’s all because
And it’s all because of you…


You can listen to Aydrea Walden sing the song starting at about the 4:15 mark of the video:

[Thanks to Rebecca Gomez Farrell for facilitating everything.]

Pixel Scroll 6/5/21 Scroll Up The Usual Pixels

(1) NEBULA MUSIC. The 56th Annual Nebula Award winners post is at the link. Below, you can watch host Aydrea Walden’s fantastic song referencing all 40 finalists, then hear the great acceptance speeches:

(2) DEBARKLE. Camestros Felapton’s history of the Puppy slates and how they illuminate right wing politics has reached the announcement of the 2015 Hugo finalists, which were overwhelmingly Puppy: “Debarkle Chapter 39: April — Part 1, the Finalists”.

…In the headline Best Novel category, the combined Sad and Rabid Puppy slates had won three of the five finalist positions but would have won four out of five if Correia had not withdrawn. The Sad Puppy nominated Baen book Trial by Fire by Charles E. Gannon and the Rabid Puppy nominated Baen book The Chaplain’s War by Brad Torgersen both fell a few votes short of being a finalist. The addition of Correia’s withdrawal meant that despite everything, once again no Baen novels were Hugo finalists. In an added irony, one of the two Tor published novels in the finalists was the Sad/Rabid Puppy nominated The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson.

In the next chapters, we will look at some of the immediate and later reactions to the Puppy sweep of the finalists. However, in this chapter, I want to concentrate on the shifting nature of the finalists.

In the days that followed many of the people co-opted by Torgersen and Day as nominees for their slates discussed their inclusion. Matthew David Surridge, a writer at The Black Gate fanzine and a nominee on both the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates for Best Fan Writer, explained that he had declined a nomination.

… Surridge had discovered accidentally that he was on the slates in February but thinking that it was unlikely that he’d be a finalist, he had ignored them. When contacted by the Hugo administrators, he declined. Surridge declining meant that Laura Mixon, author of the report on Requires Hate, became a finalist, which also meant that Best Fan Writer had one non-Puppy nominated finalist.

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman gets to break a 428-day streak with Karen Osborne in Episode 146 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Karen Osborne

Up until my meal with writer Karen Osborne on which you’ll be eavesdropping this episode, it had been 428 days since I’d last seen an unmasked face other than my wife or son. (Except on Zoom, that is.) Due to COVID-19, I hadn’t been able to pull off that kind face-to-face chatting and chewing since Episode 117, recorded in March 2020 with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Dirda. I’m more thrilled that I can possibly convey to begin the slow crawl back to a new normal.

Karen Osborne was a Nebula Award finalist last year for her short story “The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power.” Her fiction has appeared in UncannyFiresideEscape PodRobot Dinosaurs, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, the first book of The Memory War series, was published in September 2020 by Tor Books, and its sequel, Engines of Oblivion, was published this past February. She’s the emcee for the Charm City Spec reading series, has won a filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding, and most importantly, accompanied me on the theremin during my late-night ukulele singalong when I was Guest of Honor a few years back at the Baltimore World Fantasy Convention.

We discussed her biggest surprise after signing with an agent for her first novel, how she was able to celebrate the launch of that debut book and a Nebula nomination during the COVID-19 lockdown, what you need to keep in your head to never go wrong about a character’s motivations, how the Viable Paradise writing workshop taught her to lean in on her weird, the favorite line she’s ever written, how she wrote fanfic of her own characters to better understand them, why she doesn’t want her daughter to read her second novel until she’s 13, the way Star Trek: The Next Generation changed her life, how the Clarion workshop taught her to let go of caring what other people think of her writing, what Levar Burton means to her childhood, and much more.

(4) NOW FOR ANOTHER MUSICAL NUMBER. Nerdist says the promise is finally fulfilled: “Starlight’s Ballad from THE BOYS Season 2 Gets Full Music Video”.

Season two of The Boys put star Erin Moriarty’s musical chops on display. The first episode of the bunch set the action at the funeral of deceased Seven fixture Translucent; the emotional, and highly publicized event gave Moriarty’s character Starlight a chance to sing her heart out. However, viewers of the Amazon Prime series only got a snippet of the ballad, titled “Never Truly Vanished.” Creative forces behind the program always intended to release a longer version by way of a formal music video.

Showrunner Eric Kripke made mention of these plans to CinemaBlend back in September, just after the season had dropped online. As with so many other productions, constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic waylaid said plans. But now that things are a bit safer in the macro, the The Boys team has come together to give us the music video once promised. Take a gander below at Starlight’s rendition of “Never Truly Vanished.”

(5) SORTED. Patrick Susmilch at Hard Drive says “Progress: We Finally Have a Female Orson Scott Card” – and it’s J.K. Rowling.

Young adult fiction fans are rejoicing as the literature world finally has a female equivalent to Orson Scott Card now that J.K. Rowling’s recent series of anti-trans tweets and a 3,600 word essay have given them an opportunity to be disappointed by a female author’s hatred. 

“I’m used to seeing tears on a reader’s face when I explain that the author of Ender’s Game believes that homosexuality is caused by child abuse,” said librarian Jennifer Kinsley, “but it’s a huge step forward to have to explain to young fans that their favorite female author believes that only women menstruate and that trans women are secretly trying to molest them in gender-neutral bathrooms.”…

(6) CENTER NAMES FELLOWS. Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination has announced its inaugural class of Applied Imagination Fellows, “who will work over the next year on projects to catalyze transformative change and advance visions of inclusive futures in partnership with communities around the world.”

Congratulations to Regina Kanyu Wang who is one of them:

So excited and honored to be part of the cohort! I am an imagination fellow of CSI@ASU this year!

I will create a series of video interviews with female science fiction authors, editors and fans, as well as scientists and entrepreneurs, from across China, both to foreground the creative vitality of women imagining and creating the future and to explore how these creators promote nondualistic thinking in their work, as a way to reframe conflicts and imagine a more inclusive, harmonious future. This will also be part of my PhD project at CoFUTURES, UiO.

(7) THE 50K FURSUIT. Here is an interesting confluence of fandom, tech and venture capital: “$50,000 FURSUIT: crypto-fueled bidding smashes auction record at The Dealers Den”Dogpatch Press has the story.

The new all-time fursuit auction record is worth a nice car or some people’s yearly income. (Highest commission is a different number.) It’s been 3 years since the last record by MixedCandy: A look at furry business with a $17,017 record fursuit auction price, July 2018.

Shifting winds of tech and business helped make this possible; it has to do with porn, politics, and payment providers. We’ll get into that… but I’m sure that wasn’t on the mind of Zuri Studios and Sabi, the owner/maker based in the Czech Republic with a fluffalicious folio of “god tier fursuits“.

Sabi just found out there’s no business like sew business.

…Tripling the record since 2018 gets steaming hot takes on social media. How can any suit be worth so much? 

Like any painting or original object, it’s because something’s rare and someone’s willing to pay. (Try offering less for this one!) The price isn’t just the worth of one costume; it’s for years of school and practice, growing clients and a business, and developing networks for knowledge, trade and materials. Fursuits aren’t art to hang on the wall, they’re eye candy you hug at cons. When live events thrive, it makes a market. But you don’t have to fight for this fursuit when there’s makers for many budgets, who share free DIY maker knowledge. Just remember it isn’t a get-rich business, one fursuit isn’t a goldmine, the market isn’t cornered, and it’s not a payday for a big corporation. There’s more room for makers to be pro-fans when one can get such a big reward.

But how does that kind of purchasing power come from furries?…

(8) HWA PRIDE. Horror Writers Association starts its Pride Month thematic posts with “A Point of Pride: Interview with Greg Herren”.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

Horror is one of the few forms of art—regardless of form, whether it’s the written word or a visual medium—that can evoke a visceral reaction from the audience—physical, emotional, intellectual—and I’ve always thought that was impressive.

I’ve always loved being scared (which is weird, now that I think about it). When I was a kid, my grandmother introduced me to crime and suspense movies, and she also loved what she called (and I still call them this in my head) “scary movies”—I don’t think she ever called them horror—and I also loved the haunted houses at amusement parks. I’ve always, as long as I can remember, been partial to ghost stories more than anything else….

(9) APPROVAL RATING. [Item by Rich Horton.] I stumbled into a Twitter thread about yesterday’s episode of Mythic Quest, which showed C. W. Longbottom working for “Amazing Tales” in 1972, and winning a Nebula for “Best Debut Novel” (!) in 1973 for a novel he wrote that Isaac Asimov basically rewrote …  And the Nebula they used was a misprinted Nebula made in 2005 that they got from Steven Silver! Thread starts here. (Mythic Quest is an uneven show, but when it’s on, it can be wonderful!)

(10) KRAFT OBIT. David Anthony Kraft, who worked on The Defenders, Captain America and Man-Wolf early in his career, died of complications of the coronavirus on May 19. The New York Times tribute is here: “David Anthony Kraft, Comic Book Writer and Chronicler, Dies at 68”.

…Growing up as a boy in small-town North Dakota, David Anthony Kraft escaped into the world of comic books. He read issues of The Incredible Hulk hidden in his textbooks at school. He trudged through snow during brutal winters to buy the latest adventure of Thor.

When he was 12, he decided to write his own comics, so he installed a desk and a lamp in a closet at home. His stepmother soon found him scribbling away.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m writing,” he said. “This is my office.”

“What makes you think you can be a writer?”

“I will be a writer. And I’m going to work for Marvel.”

At least in his retelling, so began the real-life superhero origin story of David Anthony Kraft.

Soon enough, he sold a piece to Amazing Stories. In his teens, he wrote tales for pulpy horror comics. He developed a correspondence with Marvel’s offices in New York, and he kept asking about job openings. When he was 22, they asked him to try out for a junior staff position, and he drove to the city on his motorcycle, arriving at Marvel’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters in 1974.

Mr. Kraft became one of Marvel’s writers during the 1970s and ’80s. He was known for his work on The Defenders and on titles like Captain America and Man-Wolf. He wrote nearly the entire run of The Savage She-Hulk….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1971 — Fifty years ago at Noreascon I, the Hugo for Best Short Story went to Theodore Sturgeon for “Slow Sculpture”. It was published in Galaxy, February 1970. Other nominated works were  “Continued on Next Rock” by R. A. Lafferty (Orbit #7, 1970) “Jean Duprès” by Gordon R. Dickson (Nova #1, 1970) “In the Queue” by Keith Laumer [Orbit #7, 1970] “Brillo” by Ben Bova and Harlan Ellison (Analog, August 1970). It is available from the usual suspects in his Slow Sculpture collection at a very reasonable price.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 5, 1844 — L. T. Meade. Author of series aimed generally at girls but who wrote several genre series as well, to wit Stories of the Sanctuary ClubThe Brotherhood of the Seven Kings and The Sorceress of the Strand. All of these were co-written by Robert Eustace. Meade and Eustace also created the occult detective and palmist Diana Marburg in “The Oracle of Maddox Street” found initially in Pearson’s Magazine in 1902. (Died 1924.) (CE)
  • Born June 5, 1928 — Robert Lansing. He was secret agent Gary Seven in the “Assignment: Earth” episode of Trek. The episode was a backdoor pilot for a Roddenberry series that would have starred him and Teri Garr, but the series never happened.  He of course appeared on other genre series such as the Twilight ZoneJourney to the UnknownThriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1994.) (CE)
  • Born June 5, 1899 – Boris Artzybasheff.  Prolific graphic artist in and out of our field; two hundred covers for Time (one was Craig Rice – pen name of Georgiana Craig – first mystery-fiction writer shown there, 28 Jan 46).  Here is his cover for The Circus of Dr. Lao – he did its interiors too; here is The Incomplete Enchanter.  Here is a commercial illustration, “Steel”; here is Buckminster Fuller.  Don’t miss Artzybasheff in Vincent Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds.  Book of his artwork, As I See (rev. 2008).  (Died 1965) [JH]
  • Born June 5, 1908 – John Fearn.  British author of SF, crime fiction, Westerns; fairground assistant, cinema projectionist; wrote under two dozen names.  Two hundred books in our field, two hundred eighty shorter stories.  Guest of Honour at Eastercon 2.  (Died 1960) [JH]
  • Born June 5, 1931 – Barbara Paul, age 90.  She says, “I did not grow up reading science fiction…. I was one of those smug mundanes who thought ‘sci-fi’ was all death-rays and aluminum-foil spacesuits and Robby the Robot.  (Well, maybe sci-fi is, but not SF.)  It wasn’t until my son, eleven at the time, handed me a book of short stories by Robert Sheckley that I began to realize what I’d been missing.”  For us, six novels (I’m counting Liars and Tyrants and People who Turn Blue, which depends upon a psychic character), a dozen and a half shorter stories; more of other kinds e.g. detectives.  [JH]
  • Born June 5, 1946 — John Bach, 75. Einstein on Farscape (though he was deliberately uncredited for most of the series), the Gondorian Ranger Madril in the second and third movies of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Also a British body guard on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. And he was the body double for shooting Saruman in place of Christopher Lee, who was unable to fly to New Zealand for principal photography on The Hobbit film series. (CE) 
  • Born June 5, 1953 — Kathleen Kennedy, 68. Film producer responsible for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, her first film, and later produced the Jurassic Park franchise.  She’s been involved in over sixty films, I’d say of which at least half are genre, starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark  as an associate to Steven Spielberg. Amblin Films with her husband and Spielberg has produced many of the genre’s best loved films. (CE) 
  • Born June 5, 1960 – Margo Lanagan, age 61. A dozen novels, six dozen shorter stories, in our field; among the two dozen contributors to “Celebrating 50 Years of Locus” in Locus 687.  Four Ditmars, six Aurealis awards, three World Fantasy awards.  Recent collection, Stray Bats.  [JH]
  • Born June 5, 1964 – P.J. Haarsma, age 57.  Author, photographer.  Co-founder of Kids Need to Read.  Four Rings of Orbis books, two Spectrum comics (with Alan Tudyk, Sarah Stone) in that world, and an electronic role-playing game.  Crowd-funded $3.2 million to start Con Man (television).  Redbear Films commercial production.  [JH]
  • Born June 5, 1976 — Lauren Beukes, 45. South African writer and scriptwriter.  Moxyland, her first novel, is a cyberpunk novel set in a future Cape Town.  Zoo City, a hardboiled thriller with fantasy elements is set in a re-imagined Johannesburg. It won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and a Kitschies Red Tentacle for best novel. And The Shining Girls would win her an August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel. Afterland, her latest genre novel, was on the long list for a NOMMO. (CE) 
  • Born June 5, 1980 – Timo Kümmel, age 41.  One novel, five dozen covers, twoscore interiors.  Here is The Time Machine of Charlemagne.  Here is Hello Summer, Goodbye.  Here is Exodus 33.  Here is The Eternity Project.  Here is phantastisch! 81.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump features a celebrity’s relative.
  • Macanudo describes a particular danger of witchcraft:

(14) DROP A DIME, YOU CAN CALL ME ANYTIME. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd weighs in on the government’s UFO report: “E.T., Phone Me!”

…Who on Earth wanted a “Friends” reunion, and why in heaven’s name doesn’t anyone from the Biden White House return my calls?

We must consider the terrestrials in our midst who seem very extraterrestrial. Mitch McConnell and Marjorie Taylor Greene are in no strict sense earthlings.

And yet not since Michael Rennie’s Klaatu and his all-powerful robot, Gort, landed their flying saucer on the Mall in the 1951 movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” has the capital been so riveted by the possibility of aliens hovering.

Carbon-based life-forms are eagerly awaiting a report by intelligence officials about aerial phenomena lighting up the skies in recent years, mysterious objects witnessed and recorded by Navy pilots.

After reading The New York Times story on what the report will say, Luis Elizondo, who once ran the Pentagon’s secret program on U.F.O.s, tweeted, “If The New York Times reporting is accurate, the objects being witnessed by pilots around the world are far more advanced than any earthly technologies known to our intelligence services.”

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that a government that couldn’t get it together to prevent a primitive mob from attacking the seat of government on Jan. 6 can’t figure out a series of close encounters.

Could it be that we are not the center of the universe? The truth, if it’s out there, certainly isn’t in the report.

As Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper wrote in The Times, intelligence officials said they have found no evidence that the mysterious sightings are alien spacecraft. But they have also found no evidence that they’re not.

(15) THE LEADER. If your eyeballs haven’t been abused enough already, Jon Del Arroz takes his victory lap on Vox Day’s blog: “JDA defeats Worldcon” [Internet Archive link].

… I followed Vox’s lead and decided to fight it with everything I had. We filed suit for defamation and have been engaged in a long court battle for nearly 4 years. Finally, WorldCon opted to settle and wrote me a formal, public apology and gave us financial compensation…

(16) FINE BY FEYNMAN. Priyamvada Natarajan reviews three science books for The New York Review of Books in “All Things Great and Small”.

…Three new books examine our current understanding of matter’s origin and qualities, and chronicle our continuing quest to probe beyond atoms. Neutron Stars: The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos by Katia Moskvitch, a science writer, explores recent research into the super-dense remains of stars ten times more massive than our Sun, whose precise material composition has eluded us. The astrophysicist Katie Mack’s The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) shows how the contents of our universe—matter and energy—determine its destiny and, ultimately, its demise. In Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality, the physicist Frank Wilczek, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004, addresses new discoveries that are leading to a reassessment of the atomic hypothesis. He explains how notions of matter have changed over the past decades from “all things are made of atoms” to “all things are made of elementary particles”—the expanding list of which includes quarks, gluons, muons, and the recently discovered Higgs boson….

(17) HISTORIC PLAQUE. Via Alison Scott:

(18) A WHIFF OF THINGTIME. Atlas Obscura traces “How a Giant, Stinky, Delightful Corpse Flower Got to an Abandoned Gas Station” and interviews its keeper.

…Many of us doted on houseplants, but probably not the way that Solomon Leyva did. Leyva lives in AlamedaCalifornia, an island just west of Oakland, where he raises and sells cacti, succulents, and rare plants. One of Leyva’s pandemic-era pals was a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), a gargantuan plant better known as the corpse flower on account of the unmistakably unsavory stench of its blooms. The plant usually shows off like this only once every several years—and when it does, its glorious fringe wilts after just a day or two. So, when Leyva’s titan arum bloomed in May, he lugged it onto a wagon and rolled it to a patch of asphalt in front of an abandoned gas station, so human neighbors could come say hello….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Omori,” which comes with a spoiler warning, Fandom Games argues that Omori’s creators succeeded in creating one of the most depressing video games ever, with “a fairly simple story that stretched out to 20 hours.”

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Peer, Rich Horton, Patch O’Furr, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

SFWA to Livestream 2021 Nebula Awards Ceremony on June 5

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) will present the 56th Annual Nebula Awards® Ceremony on Saturday, June 5, 2021, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. Writer and comedian Aydrea Walden will host for the second year. The awards ceremony will livestream for the public on Facebook and on YouTube. Closed captioning will be provided.

The Nebula Awards® honor the best speculative fiction writing of the year in multiple categories as voted on by Full, Associate, and Senior members of SFWA. It is a focal point of the Nebula Conference, also annually hosted by SFWA and taking place June 4–6.

The 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony

Livestreaming begins Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 5 p.m. PT

SFWA has released a trailer for the ceremony broadcast: https://youtu.be/jV-LEtHvboI. This year’s presenters include Tobias S. Buckell, Jeffe Kennedy, Nisi Shawl, Carrie Patel, Mallory O’Meara, Mark Oshiro, Troy L. Wiggins, and Adam Savage. 

Ceremony producer Katie Warren said, “We are delighted to once again have the opportunity to make a live, virtual awards ceremony that honors and excites our finalists and honorees.”

Award winners will be announced live. The finalists were previously revealed at the Nebula Awards Launch evening, which featured readings of their works by SAG-AFTRA voice actors. The full list is here

About the Nebula Awards®: The Nebula Awards® are voted on, and presented by, Full, Associate, and Senior members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Founded as the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965 by Damon Knight, the organization began with a charter membership of 78 writers; it now has over 2,000 members, among them many of the leading writers of science fiction and fantasy.

Since 1965, the Nebula Awards® have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story eligible for that year’s award. The Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation was added in 2009, followed by the Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction in 2005, and the Nebula Award for Best Game Writing in 2018. An anthology including the winning pieces of short fiction and several runners-up is also published every year.

[Based on a press release.]