The 2020 Nebula Awards ceremony will be streamed live to conference attendees and the public alike at 8 p.m. Eastern/ 5 p.m. Pacific on May 30.
“The Nebula Awards Ceremony will be seen live online by people around the globe,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, SFWA President. “While the circumstances are difficult, we’re excited that the conference is more accessible than when in a physical location.”
NEBULA ANTHOLOGY AUDIOBOOK PLANNED. 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 its 55th Nebula Awards Showcase Anthology, edited by Cat Valente, in audio format. A top publisher of science-fiction and fantasy audiobooks, Podium Audio is on the forefront of discovering new authors and voice artists from the U.S. and around the world.
“Since the first publication of the Nebula Anthology in 1966, the yearly collection has only been available in print. Expanding into the world of audiobooks offers new opportunities for expression and outreach,” says Kowal. “We’re delighted to partner with the innovative and experienced team at Podium Audio.”
The Nebula Awards® are voted on, and presented by, full members of 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 more than 2000 members, among them many of the leading writers of science fiction and fantasy.
(1) BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARDS FICTION FINALISTS. One work of genre interest survived the cut to make the finals for the 2020 Best Translated Book Awards, The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Japan, Pantheon). The complete shortlist is at the link.
The award, founded by Three Percent at the University of Rochester, comes with $10,000 in prizes from the Amazon Literary Partnership. The prize will be split evenly between the winning authors and translators. The winners will be announced on May 27.
(2) SFWA REFERENDUM. An overwhelming majority of SFWA members favor including authorship of sff/h graphic novels and comics as qualifications for membership according to the ”2020 Election Question Results” posted today on the SFWA Blog.
During the recent SFWA elections… the voting members of the organization also voted on two questions.
Question: Should SFWA allow writing of graphic novels and comics in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and related genres to be used as qualification for membership?
Question: As noted in the January 31st email to members, “active members” has a specific meaning, thus leading to our need to change our membership class name for Active members. Which name would you prefer to be called?
Full Member 47.19% General Member 11.99% Regular Member 6.89% Voting Member 33.93%
In the coming weeks, the board will be discussing the implementation of the graphic novel question and will make an announcement when the rules for admittance under the new rules are open.
(3) BSFA AWARDS STREAMING SCHEDULE. BSFA, the British Science Fiction Association, invites fans to attend their award ceremony for works published in 2019 on YouTubehere on Sunday May 17. They will be announcing the winners of Best Novel, Best Shorter Fiction, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Artwork from 7 p.m. BST.
Sometimes you’re watching a lot of Clone Wars, and sometimes your brain points out little innocuous things to you… like the fact that Jedi never seem to have luggage.
So, during the Clone Wars, Jedi are dispatched across the galaxy constantly to handle various galactic disputes, battles, and diplomatic messes. Often, they take Jedi starfighters and land them on big Republic cruisers, giving them flexibility to come and go as they need to. When they sleep, it’s typically on planets during missions, or it’s in quarters on the bigger ships. Sometimes there’s a chance to get back to the Jedi Temple and sleep in quarters there, but generally, they’re on the go all the time.
Yet you’ll never find them slinging a weekender over their shoulder, or dragging a little rolly carry-on bag behind them….
Micrashell was born as a socially responsible solution to safely allow people to interact in close proximity. Specifically designed to satisfy the needs of nightlife, live events and entertainment industries, Micrashell is a virus-shielded, easy to control, fun to wear, disinfectable, fast to deploy personal protective equipment (PPE) that allows socializing without distancing….
Here’s a snip from the long list of advantages:
BASIC NEEDS & SUIT HANDLING • “Top only” suit design allows the user to wear their normal clothes, use the toilet and engage in intercourse without being exposed to respiratory risks • Hand latch system to facilitate dressing and undressing the suit
…Postal leaders and their allies have made unusually blunt appeals for support in recent weeks, running advertisements on President Trump’s favorite Fox News programs and laying out an urgent account of how the pandemic has had a “devastating effect” on the U.S. mail service. Without a financial rescue from Congress, they have warned, an agency that normally runs without taxpayer funds could run out of cash as soon as late September, raising the specter of bankruptcy and an interruption in regular delivery for millions of Americans.
But after nearly reaching a bipartisan deal for a multibillion dollar bailout in the last coronavirus rescue package in late March, Republicans and Democrats have sharply diverged over whether to provide a lifeline. Now, the fight over the future of the Postal Service has spilled onto the campaign trail, increasingly freighted by deeply held disagreements about labor rights, the role of government versus private enterprise in providing basic services, and voting access.
(7) NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. “Travelling Text”: The London Review of Books’ Marina Warner discurses on The Arabian Nights and a book of essays about them.
Like a dance craze or a charismatic cult, The Arabian Nights seized readers’ imaginations as soon as translations first appeared – in French between 1704 and 1717, and in English from 1708. Oriental fever swept through salons and coffee-houses, the offices of broadsheet publishers and theatrical impresarios; the book fired a train of imitations, spoofs, turqueries, Oriental tales, extravaganzas. It changed tastes in dress and furniture – the sofa, the brocade dressing-gown – and even enhanced the taste of coffee. In fact its diaspora almost mimics the triumphant progress of coffee, as it metamorphosed from the thimbles of thick dark syrup drunk in Damascus and Istanbul and Cairo to today’s skinny latte, macchiato et al. Antoine Galland, the French savant and explorer who discovered and translated the earliest manuscript in Syria in the late 17th century, also published a translation of an Arabic treatise in praise of coffee, one of the first if not the first of its kind. It is his bowdlerised version of the stories that dominated their diaspora, from the ‘Arabian Nights’ Entertainments’, serialised in 445 instalments over three years in the London News, to the fantasies of the Ballets Russes, to the 1924 Thief of Baghdad, to Disney’s Aladdin and Sinbad.
In the countries of the book’s origin, the stories were considered popular trash, and excluded from the canon. In Europe, a similar sense that they had negligible status as literature came about because so many of their early enthusiasts were women. The Earl of Shaftesbury, writing in 1711, three years after the book’s first appearance in English, denounced the Desdemona tendency, claiming that the tales ‘excite’ in women ‘a passion for a mysterious Race of black Enchanters: such as of old were said to creep into Houses, and lead captive silly Women’. It’s significant, in the history of East-West relations, that Shaftesbury could only understand the alien bogeys in terms of beliefs rather closer to home than Baghdad or Cairo.
Another reason the work wasn’t taken seriously was that it eluded concepts of authorship: the stories were anonymous and composed at different periods in different places. The architecture of the frame story – Scheherazade telling stories to the sultan every night till dawn to save her life – insisted on the oral, collective, immemorial character of the tales, presenting them as a compendium of collective wisdom, or at least as literature with a thousand and one owners and users. Madeleine Dobie, in the opening essay of ‘The Arabian Nights’ in Historical Context, a collection edited by Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum, shows how Galland’s work set the trend. A brilliant linguist, antiquarian and Orientalist, Galland began the process of treating the book as something that could be altered and made to express fantasy. The most popular tales of all, the ones that have become synonymous with The Arabian Nights and have been retold in children’s books and films (‘Aladdin’, ‘Ali Baba’, ‘The Ebony Horse’, ‘Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Peri Banou’), are probably Galland’s invention, concocted of pomegranates and ebony, damask and jasmine, in tribute to the style of the original stories.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 11, 1899 — E. B. White. He’s a co-author with William Strunk Jr. of The Elements of Style. In addition, he wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1904 – Salvador Dalí. Two Basket of Bread paintings twenty years apart – The Persistence of Memory between them – show he could be realistic if he felt like it. Having said “The difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad,” he told a group of Surrealists “The difference between me and the Surrealists is that I am a Surrealist.” He put an unfolded tesseract in Crucifixion; created in 1950 a Costume for 2045 with Christian Dior; drew, etched, sculpted; illustrated The Divine Comedy and The Arabian Nights. Memoir, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí. (Died 1989) [JH
Born May 11, 1916 — Maurice Nahum. ISFDB credits him with being editor in the Fifties of the Futuristic Science Stories, Out of This World Magazine, Supernatural Stories and several other publications. Langford at the usual source says of them that ‘All were juvenile, undated and of poor quality.’ (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1918 – Sheila Burnford. In The Incredible Journey a Bull Terrier, a Siamese cat, and a Labrador Retriever travel 300 miles (480 km) through the Canadian wilderness to find their humans; a Disney film was made. Later Burnford spent two summers on Baffin Island, traveling by komatik (a dog sled) and seeing the narwhals migrate. “Poor Albert Floated When He Died” was in Women of the Weird with a Gorey cover. (Died 1984) [JH]
Born May 11, 1918 – Richard Feynman. He had a gift for looking from the abstract to the concrete: hence Feynman diagrams; plunging a piece of O-ring material into ice water at a hearing on the Challenger disaster; winning a Nobel Prize and teaching undergraduates. Kept a notebook Things I Don’t Know About. A curved-space lecture handout had a bug on a sphere: “the bug and any rulers he uses are all made of the same material which expands when it is heated.” Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman reviewed by Alma Jo Williams in Science Fiction Review. (Died 1988) [JH]
Born May 11, 1920 — Denver Pyle. His first genre performance is in The Flying Saucer way back in 1950 where he was a character named Turner. Escape to Witch Mountain as Uncle Bené is his best known genre role. He’s also showed up on the Fifties Adventures of Superman, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe, Men Into Space, Twilight Zone and his final role was apparently in How Bugs Bunny Won the West as the Narrator. (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1927 – Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Three fantasies won the Newbery Honor; a score of books for us, four dozen in all. Below the Root is the first of her Green Sky trilogy; after the third, she worked closely with a programmer and a graphic artist on a Below the Root computer game. Cover for Song of the Gargoyle by Jody Lee, who was Graphic Artist Guest of Honor when I was Fan GoH at Lunacon XLIV. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born May 11, 1936 — Gordon Benson Jr. Publisher and bibliographer who released the first of his many SF bibliographies around the early Eighties. Writers such as Anderson, Lieber and Wellman were covered. Early bibliographies written solo were revised for the Galactic Central Bibliographies for the Avid Reader series, are listed jointly with Phil Stephensen-Payne as later ones. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1952 — Frances Fisher, 67. Angie on Strange Luck and a recurring role as Eva Thorne on Eureka. Have I mentioned how I love the latter series? Well I do! She’s also shown up on Medium, X-Files, Outer Limits, Resurrection, The Expanse and has some role in the forthcoming Watchmen series. (CE)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range finds a UFO that may be unidentified but does not look unfamiliar.
…Peter Costanzo, specialist at Doyle Auctions, said: ‘Part of the charm of this early period is that Potter apparently did not intend to publish books for children.
‘She simply sought a simple and affectionate way to communicate with them, and in combining an early mastery of the drawing of animals and a playful love of verse, Potter created a style all her own.
‘This was truly an insightful, important and whimsical group, one of the finest collections of early Beatrix Potter artwork and it represented a rare opportunity for collectors and institutions alike.’
…Her most famous book, The Tale of Petter Rabbit (1901), has been translated into 36 languages and sold 45 million copies.
Modern humans began to edge out the Neanderthals in Europe earlier than previously thought, a new study shows.
Tests on remains from a cave in northern Bulgaria suggest Homo sapiens was there as early as 46,000 years ago.
This is up to 2,000 years older than evidence from Italy and the UK.
Around this time, Europe was populated by sparse groups of Neanderthals – a distinct type of human that vanished shortly after modern humans appeared on the scene.
There’s considerable debate about the length of time that modern humans overlapped with Neanderthals in Europe and other parts of Eurasia.
This has implications for the nature of contact between the two groups – and perhaps clues to why Neanderthals went extinct.
(14) KEEPS ON TICKING. Quanta Magazine’s “Arrows of Time” infographic tracks the development of human ideas about the concept of time.
The human mind has long grappled with the elusive nature of time: what it is, how to record it, how it regulates life, and whether it exists as a fundamental building block of the universe. This timeline traces our evolving understanding of time through a history of observations in CULTURE, PHYSICS, TIMEKEEPING and BIOLOGY.
It begins with —
c. 50,000 BCE
Australia’s first inhabitants, the ancestors of today’s aboriginal peoples, are believed to have embraced a timeless view of nature, in which the present and past are intimately connected. The spirits of long-dead ancestors, for example, were believed to inhabit the living. These spirits reflected a long-ago golden age sometimes known as the Dreamtime.
Officially named C/2020 F8 (SWAN), the comet, which is technically an “outgassing interplanetary iceberg,” will be closest to Earth on May 13, and nearest to the sun May 27, according to NASA. (The warmth of the sun causes comets to vaporize.) Right now, it’s only visible to individuals in the Southern hemisphere, including those in Australia, Chile, and New Zealand, but if it continues to brighten along its journey, those of us in the Northern hemisphere could see it soon. NASA reports that people might be able to see it with the naked eye in June. Space.com notes the best times to see it will be in the West-Northwest sky after sunset, and in the East-Northeast sky before sunrise.
However, just because it’s visible now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way….
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
[F]ocusing on content relevant to professionals in the genre, attendees will be able to choose from career management, professional development, and expert knowledge panels and workshops. The event will also include solo presentations, conference mentorships, forums, chats, and virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by John Scalzi). We will also be hosting the Nebula Awards ceremony on Saturday night, May 31st, 2020 to celebrate all that this community continues to offer.
…But while the International Style may excel at furnishing office buildings, its minimalist purism does feel a little too cold and bland for the home. Thankfully, our Northern neighbours are on the case with furnishings that manage to be both modernist and cosy.
In the past three decades, Scandinavia has emerged as a source of beautiful and functional design to the point that Scandinavian Modern has become a recognisable style found in many homes in Europe (including my own) and beyond.
Traditionally, Scandinavian Modern has been associated with clean lines, neutral palettes and natural materials like wood, leather and wicker. A prime example is the beautiful “Hammock” chair by Danish designer Poul Kjærholm. However in recent times, Scandinavian designers have branched out and embraced materials like plastics as well as brighter colours….
Now, the scientists of Scalzi’s world knew the Flow was going to collapse — but they didn’t do anything about it. Why?
“Primarily wish fulfillment and greed,” he says. “The idea that, sure, this thing is going to happen. But is it really going to happen the way that the scientists and experts say it’s going to happen? And even if it is happening in that way, isn’t there a way that we can work it to our advantage so that when it finally does happen, we’ll still be OK while everybody else is kind of in trouble?”
They say the best way to not write a novel is to not write every day. When you first wake up is a particularly good time to not write. But as I join billions of others around the world in quarantine, I worry my newfound free time is going to get in the way of not writing a novel….
(4) OUT THE WINDOW. And if Charles Stross ever writes a third Scottish near-future police procedural (following Halting State and Rule 34) it won’t be the one he planned: “Yet another novel I will no longer write”. But you can see an excerpt of what might have been.
…And the whole theme of this untitled novel was going to be: this is elite panic, and this is disaster capitalism, and this is what really happens during a zombie epidemic, and these things are not the same—
And then COVID-19 came along and basically rendered the whole thing unneccessary because we are all getting a real world crash-course in how we deal with people suffering from a viral pandemic, and we do not generally deal with them using shotguns and baseball bats even if they’re so contagious that contact might kill us.
Because—fuck my life—writing plausible near-future SF in the 21st century wasn’t hard enough already.
Anyway, let me leave you with the WARNINGvery rough, first draft, unpolished only existing fragment of what was intended to be The Lambda Functionary before COVID-19 buried it at the crossroads with a mouthful of garlic and a stake through its heart….
This may come as a surprise, but self-isolating on a Central Ontario First Nation can be quite boring. Especially when you consider that B.C. (Before COVID-19), I would’ve been returning from the sun-drenched hills of Albuquerque, N.M., at this very moment, fresh from IndigiPop X, essentially an Indigenous Comicon. There, amidst as many as 2,000 other IndigiNerds, I would have been wallowing ecstatically in a pop culture smorgasbord of film, music, gaming and panels discussing topics as diverse as how to develop a superhero, developing storylines throughout a comic book series, exploring the implications of the effects archetypes in pop culture have on communities and individuals, and the crafting of costumes for cosplay and film … all with Indigenous themes. Like most other things, it was cancelled. And I wept.
But I don’t need an Indigenous science-fiction convention to explore all that. Sitting in my living room, bored silly, I have decided to celebrate my own sci-fi festival. It will have practically everything the one in Albuquerque would, except our sci-fi will be locally sourced.
(6) BUFFY VIDEO BUFFET. SYFY Wire reports “Buffy cast set for virtual Q&A”. There’s a free segment (see below). They’re also selling 2-minute live video chats with the celebrities.
One of these Wizard World Virtual Experiences is theBuffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel event (not really a panel, since everyone’s going to be online) featuring a free 45-minute live video Q&A with castmembers James Marsters, Amber Benson, Clare Kramer, Elisabeth Röhm, Emma Caulfield, and Camden Toy. The moderated Q&A will stream on Twitch, Facebook Live, and YouTube.
Where otherwise fans may have lined up to get an autograph, they’ll now be able to pay for a few minutes of exclusive facetime with their actor of choice or get a recorded video message. They can also still get autographs (just shipped to their homes). As cons continue to adapt to the new normal of the pandemic, an all-online comic con doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Q&A takes place on April 11 at 12:00 PM PDT.
First published as a book in 1924 and thus out of copyright this year, Talbot Mundy’s “The Nine Unknown” is an occult thriller for fans of the Indiana Jones movies, Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim” and, of course, Mundy’s other supernaturally inflected adventure classics, “King — of the Khyber Rifles” and “Om: The Secret of Ahbor Valley.” Set in India, the novel focuses on a secret society — the Nine Unknown — that has existed for centuries, accumulated immense wealth and used its esoteric powers to shape the course of history. As one character says, “Viceroys, kings, and all their pomp are side-shows.”
….Mundy’s “The Nine Unknown” is just one of several highly entertaining novels published in the United States in 1924 and now in the public domain. Let me also recommend Lord Dunsany’s beautifully written romantic fantasy “The King of Elfland’s Daughter,” P.C. Wren’s Foreign Legion swashbuckler, “Beau Geste,” Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “The Land That Time Forgot,” Francis Brett Young’s spooky “Cold Harbour,” and such golden-age mysteries as Edgar Wallace’s nostalgically kitschy “The Green Archer” and A.E.W. Mason’s “The House of the Arrow.” Any of these books will provide at least temporary respite from the nightmare in which we now live.
Mary Robinette Kowal, president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) today announced relief efforts to help members of the science-fiction and fantasy (SF/F) community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a combination of dues relief, grants, and other programs.
“These are unprecedented times,” Kowal said. “Many of our members are facing painful and difficult circumstances. For creative artists, in particular, the pandemic has brought the cancellation and suspension of much of our usual access to revenue. Uncertainty about the future is in the air, and bills continue to come due.”
Many SFWA members have seen their income sharply reduced, as publishers delay anthologies and novels, advertising vanishes in the flood of news, and public events like conventions and tours are canceled or postponed. Many bookstores and other distributors have shuttered, and readers have less money for buying books.
To respond to these challenges, SFWA today announced a series of measures to support its members….
Lady Dunsany, Maria-Alice De Marsillac Plunkett, has died from Covid-19, her son, Randal Plunkett, announced tonight.
She was wife of the late Edward Plunkett, 20th Lord Dunsany, who died in 2011, and mother of the present Lord, the filmmaker and conservationalist, Randall. The Brazilian-born architect is also survived by two children from her first marriage, and Randal’s younger brother, Oliver….
Hilary Heath, the actress who co-starred with Vincent Price in the 1968 British-American cult horror hit Witchfinder General and also appeared on TV in The Avengers and Space:1999, has died of complications due to the coronavirus. She was 74.
The Hollywood Reporter obit includes this quote –
Following a turn in The Body Stealers (1969), she reunited with Price in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Oblong Box (1969) and Cry of the Banshee (1970).
“I adored Vincent,” she said during a 2010 panel discussion. “I played his mistress, his daughter and his wife. And he said, ‘If you ever play my mother, I’ll marry you.’ ”
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 11, 1986 — The Toxic Avenger was released nationally two years after it premiered in New York City. It directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (who is credited here as Samuel Weil) as written by Kaufman and Joe Ritter. It was the first installment of The Toxic Avenger franchise which would encompass three more films, a Marvel Comics series and a short lived children’s animated series. Mitch Kessler was the Toxic Avenger with his voice provided by Kenneth Kessler. Critics at the time ranged in their opinions from disgusted to delighted with the mainstream ones decidedly not liking it; it currently holds an approval rating of 70% among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Kaufman and Herz are currently attached to a reboot.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 11, 1867 — William Wallace Cook. Newspaper reporter and pulp writer who wrote four novels (The Fiction Factory, A Round Trip to the Year 2000, or A Flight Through Time, Cast Away at the Pole and Adrift in the Unknown, or Adventures in a Queer Realm) which were serialized in Argosy in the early part of the last century. Clute at EoSF says he was “was a crude writer, but is of interest for his attempts to combine adventure plots and Satire.” (Died 1933.)
Born April 11, 1920 — Peter O’Donnell. Best remembered as the creator of Modesty Blaise who of which EoSF says that her “agility and supple strength are sufficiently exceptional for her to be understood as a Superhero”. He also wrote the screenplay of The Vengeance of She based on H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She novel. (Died 2010.)
Born April 11, 1941 — Gene Szafran. He did the cover art for genre books published by Bantam and Ballantine during the Sixties to the Eighties, including a series of Signet paperbacks of Robert A. Heinlein’s work including Farnham’s Freehold, The Green Hills of Earth, and Methusaleh’s Children. His art would garner him four Locus Awards. (Died 2011.)
Born April 11, 1949 — Melanie Tem. She was the wife of genre author Steve Rasnic Tem. A prolific writer of both novels and short stories, she considered herself a dark fantasy writer, not a horror writer. Bryant, King and Simmonds all praised her writing. If I had to make recommends, I’d say start with Blood Moon, Witch-Light (co-written with Nancy Holder) and Daughters done with her husband. ”The Man on the Ceiling” won her a World Fantasy Award. She died of cancer which recurred after she’d been in remission. (Died 2015.)
Born April 11, 1952 — James Patrick Kelly, 68. One of his best stories, “Solstice” is in Sterling’s Mirrorshades anthology. Of course, he’d win the Hugo Award for “Think Like a Dinosaur” and “1016 to 1”, both amazing pieces of writing! The Mariska Volochkova series is the one I would definitely recommend if you’ve not read it yet.
Born April 11, 1955 — Julie Czerneda, 65. She won the Prix Aurora Award for her Company of Others novel. She’d also receive one for Short Form in English for her “Left Foot on A Blind Man” Story, both of these early in her career. She has a long running series, The Clan Chronicles which is as sprawling as anything Martin conceived.
Born April 11, 1963 — Gregory Keyes, 57. Best known for The Age of Unreason tetralogy, a steampunk and magical affair featuring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. He also wrote The Psi Corps Trilogy and has done a lot of other media tie-in fiction including Pacific Rim, Star Wars, Planet of The Apes, Independence Day and Pacific Rim.
Born April 11, 1981 — Matt Ryan, 39. He’s John Constantine in Constantine and the Arrowverse along with being regular cast now on Legends of Tomorrow starting with fourth season, as well as voicing him on Justice League Dark and the superb Constantine: City of Demons.
….The dollars at stake are substantial: in recent years, sales of comics and graphic novels in the United States and Canada have topped $1 billion annually, with printed comic books accounting for more than a third of that figure, according to an analysis by Comichron and ICv2, sites that track the comic business. Digital sales contribute about $100 million to that total.
But now, neither the people who make comic books nor the veteran observers of this industry see a quick solution; they cannot predict whether the current calamity will eradicate only some stores and publishers or an entire, decades-old model of doing business.
“I do think this is an extinction-level event,” said Heidi MacDonald, editor of The Beat, a comics culture website. “It’s life-changing for everyone. This is a whole industry that lived on very thin margins. There’s no port in this storm.”
Publishers of every size recognize that they are at risk. Dan Buckley, the president of Marvel Entertainment, which is home to Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers, said in a statement, “This crisis is having an unprecedented impact on every aspect of our lives and requires patience and perseverance,” adding that he remained optimistic that comics “are here to stay.”
(15) DRUCKER APPRECIATION. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has an appreciation of Mort Drucker, including interviews with cartoonists Sergio Aragones and Tom Richmond and The Simpsons producer David Silverman. Cavna recalls interviewing Drucker at a Reuben Awards ceremony in 2015 and asking him if “there was anyone he could not caricature.” “My wife,” said Drucker. “She’s too perfect to draw.” “Mort Drucker’s legendary Mad magazine caricatures spoofed Hollywood — and Hollywood loved them”.
(16) YOU ARE, NUMBER SIX. Paleymatters.org interviewed Alan Moore about The Prisoner TV series in 2018.
DB: What appealed to you about the show then, and what appeals to you about it now? How much of it did you understand initially as ergodic storytelling?
AM: First and foremost, it was the show’s experimentalism and radicalism that made the impact. Some of its sensibilities were already in the televisual air around then, with the wackier Avengers episodes and Anthony Newley’s Strange World of Gurney Slade (which I hadn’t then seen), but it was The Prisoner which seemed to most perfectly synthesise these exciting new elements and approaches into a coherent vehicle, a vehicle apparently aimed at affecting the mind of the viewer in ways that, outside of avant garde theatre and cinema, the general public hadn’t previously encountered.
I certainly didn’t understand it as ergodic storytelling at that point, and in fact have just had to look up the word “ergodic.” If I’m interpreting the term correctly, ergodic storytelling would be narratives that go through their permutations but always return to an underlying state of ongoing stability, an example being most serials and soap operas: disruptions to the underlying situation will provide the excitement and motivations for a given number of episodes, but once the disruption has been resolved the ongoing narrative will settle back to its basic state, ready for the next thrilling or amusing disruption. While The Prisoner seemed to hammer home its ergodic nature — with the bars slamming across McGoohan’s face at the end of each episode after another thwarted escape — it never really seemed to me to be playing to the comforting endless stasis of a show like, say, The Fugitive. It always seemed as if this was a narrative that was heading towards a fixed point and a conclusion.
David Bushman: Apparently many, many people in the U.K. were incensed by the ending — the reveal of Number 1, the Delphian nature, etc. Do you remember your initial reaction to the series finale?
Alan Moore: I imagine you’re almost certainly right about the scale of public anger aroused by the Gnostic extravagance of that final episode, but that wasn’t at all my experience as a thirteen-year-old in Northampton’s Boroughs neighborhood, a district not widely regarded for its intellectual acumen. Down in the Boroughs, everybody that I spoke to, children and adults both, seemed far more stimulated and intrigued by that final episode than they were infuriated….
(17) PURPOSE OF SFF. Recently it was Chandra K. Clarke’s turn to come up with “The Big Idea” at Whatever. The author says, “For my money, science fiction’s highest and best use is to inspire people to think about the future they want.”
…When tech bros weren’t burning tens of millions of dollars on dubious inventions, such as Wi-Fi-enabled juicers, they were launching massive, disruptive “platforms” that had the capacity to be positive socioeconomic forces, with little thought (or care) for how they might be abused. Where it once it felt as if we were on the verge of some big breakthroughs and substantial progress, we now feel as if we’re scrambling to avoid disaster while fighting a rearguard action.
My response to this was to write Echoes of Another. In it, a well-meaning scientist invents a technology that can record and play back the neurological and physiological states associated with “flow”—that rare but lovely state of total focus and peak performance. She wants to be able to invoke flow on demand so that humanity can bring peak states to bear on our biggest problems. But before she’s able to do much with her prototype, it is stolen, copied, and put to a range of uses, both good and . . . well, really rather bad….
(18) SPACE CHOW. In WIRED, Nicola Twilley, interviews Ariel Ekblaw, head of the Space Exploration Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. One section of the initiative is about what sort of hobbies will keep astronauts’ minds stimulated on long space voyages, But she spends most of her article profiling Maggie Coblentz, head of the initiative’s gastronomic research division, about how reasonably tasty food can withstand space instead of “space gorp” astronauts usually eat. “Algae Caviar, Anyone? What We’ll Eat on the Journey to Mars”.
… The focus group gathered in a fluorescent-lit conference room decorated with large-format photos of lollipops and Buffalo wings and coiled spirals of salami. On the table, Coblentz had laid out small plastic cups of M&Ms, freeze-dried cheese bites, and Tang; these would serve as both snacks and design inspiration. Nespoli showed up with props of his own—some silvery foil packets from NASA’s current menu rotation; some cans filched from the Russian supplies and the European Space Agency, including one simply labeled SPACE FOOD; and a translucent plastic package filled with what looked like yellowish plugs of ear wax but were apparently dehydrated mashed potatoes. “Nobody goes to space for the food,” Coleman said.
(19) HARRY POTTER CRAFTS. These knitting kits will be the first in Hero Collector’s new handicrafts range. The collection is scheduled to launch Q3 2020, and starts with five kits:
Hogwarts Express Door Insulator: This kit contains everything you need to make a Hogwarts Express inspired door insulator. Finished item measures approx. 61cm long.
House Scarves: Show your house pride by knitting your own Hogwarts house scarf. Do you belong to Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin? Finished item measures at least 160 cm.
House Slouch Socks and Mittens: Need something more to keep you warm this winter? These house pride socks and mittens will do the trick! Or perhaps you have a house-elf that would be all too happy to receive them…
House Reversible Backpacks: Complete your house pride collection by creating a “magical” reversible backpack, perfect for carrying all your items to school (cauldrons excluded).
Teapot and Egg Cosies: For all the Mrs Weasley’s out there, you can now show your love for the Wizarding World by knitting these teapot and egg cosies.
Four years from now, on Monday, April 8, 2024, a total eclipse of the sun will sweep across our continent. The dark shadow cone of the moon — known as the umbra — will trace out a path like a black crayon across parts of 15 states. An estimated 130 million people will either be positioned inside or within less than a day’s drive of the zone of the total eclipse. Almost all of North America, as well as Central America and a sliver of northwestern South America will see a partial eclipse.
(21) OF RARE DEVICE. “Rube Goldberg Bar of Soap Challenge” on YouTube is a contest from Rube Goldberg, Inc. (run by Goldberg’s granddaughter, Jennifer George, in which contestants have to come up with Goldberg like- contraptions that place a bar of soap in someone’ hand in either 10 or 20 steps. Contest details here.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Bella Michaels, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) has named Aydrea Walden as the toastmaster for the 55th Annual Nebula Awards on May 30, an online ceremony.
Walden has written for the series Yin Yang Yo! and created, written, and starred in the Webby-nominated series Black Girl in a Big Dress. She has worked in the animation department on the films The Croods, Home, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Walden also performs, appearing in her one woman show, The Oreo Experience: A Total Whitey Trapped in a Black Chick’s Body, the short film Sci-Fi 60, and an episode of The Mandalorian.
The Nebula Awards will be presented during the 2020 Nebula Conference Online during a live streamed ceremony at 8 p.m. Eastern on May 30. The conference, which will run from May 29-31, includes panels, solo presentations, conference mentorships, workshops, forums, chats, and virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by John Scalzi). A portion of the funds raised for the conference will go to assist SFWA members financially affected by COVID-19.
is now open for the transformed professional development conference.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), today unveiled the
virtual home for SFWA’s 2020 Nebula Conference Online and showcased features of
the upcoming professional development conference for science fiction and
have been offering a streaming extension of the Nebulas for the past two years,
with a long-term plan for more. With this new platform, not only will we be
able to include people who would not otherwise be able to attend the Nebula
Conference, but we’ll also be able to offer year-round opportunities for
education and outreach.” the president of SFWA, Mary Robinette Kowal says.
Conference, Transformed: This
year’s transformed Nebula Conference will be held entirely online and will
include two live tracks of live-streamed panels such as “Being a Creative in
2020: Building Community, Visibility, and Audience in a Virtual World”; “Blades
and Badasses: Disability and Swordwork,” and “Writing Middle Grade with This
Year’s Norton Award Nominee” along with a third self-guided track of
pre-recorded presentations which attendees can view at their leisure.
successful conference mentorship program will also continue this year with
one-on-one video conversations between early-career writers and established
authors. Supporting content including writing workshops, forums, chats, and
virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by bestselling author and
former SFWA president John Scalzi) will round out the weekend.
2020 Nebula Conference Online will be held from May 29-31. Registration, which
includes three days of online panels with real-time interaction, an annual
subscription to archived content, and a one-year subscription to SFWA’s
quarterly magazine the Bulletin, will be $150.
says that “SFWA’s vision for this year’s conference is for attendees to feel
elevated through the content, enjoy a sense of community with their peers, and
have an opportunity for celebration. We hope this year’s conference will
replicate the informative, exciting, and social experience that the Nebula
Conference has always offered, while being more accessible than ever before,
and welcoming attendees from around the world who may never have had the chance
to attend previously.”
annual culmination of the conference is the Nebula Awards ceremony, a gala
event in which SFWA members award the 2019 Nebula Awards® to the best works of
science fiction and fantasy of the year. This year’s event will also take place
virtually, and will be live-streamed to conference attendees and the public
alike, on May 30th at 8:00 PM ET.
a New Direction: With
today’s announcement, SFWA officially launched the 2020 Nebula Conference Online
registration page, an online entry point for conference attendees
that shares the aesthetic of the conference while the full conference
experience is finalized.
year’s transformed Nebula Conference comes in response to public health
measures addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, which have limited in-person
gatherings and instituted physical distancing policies across the United
the first time, part of the proceeds from this year’s conference will go to
SFWA’s “Where The Need Is Greatest” fund to provide grants to members
to address the financial difficulties experienced by many of SFWA’s members as
a result of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19. In addition,
SFWA’s Emergency Medical Fund is available for members who have unexpected
medical bills that interfere with their ability to write.
are all aware of the hardships that our members have experienced — and will
continue to experience — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kowal said.
“It’s our hope that the 2020 Nebula Conference Online will continue to be a
valuable resource for everyone who can attend, member and non-member alike,
while also raising much-needed funds to help those in our community that have
been hardest hit by the disease and its repercussions.”
New Look, New Feel: Visitors to the 2020 Nebula Conference Online landing page will
notice the refreshed and redesigned SFWA logo, the work of SFWA’s new art
director, Lauren Raye Snow. The new look and feel for SFWA’s logo is part of a
planned refresh for the organization’s publications, web sites, and visual
assets. The new look will extend across all parts of the 2020 Nebula Conference
Online materials, and is inspired by the fantastic visual aesthetic of early
20th century graphic arts.
Snow says, “I’m
excited by the opportunity to reclaim and explore a classic domain with
culturally expansive motifs, characters, and messages.”
Intended to be
timeless, invoking both the WPA’s National Parks posters and NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory’s Space Tourism project: the update captures the best of
that pioneering spirit as 2020 launches SFWA into the future.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has
added three staff members: Kevin Wabaunsee has been named as the
new SFWA Managing Editor, Lauren Raye Snow has been named as the
new SFWA Art Director, and Beth Dawkins has been named the
new SFWA Volunteer Coordinator.
Managing Editor will support the Editor-in-Chief in overseeing the
reorganization and production of SFWA’s publications and communications
channels. The Art Director will oversee all visual aspects of SFWA, including
graphics, branding, and design. The Volunteer Coordinator will work across the
organization to ensure that members who want to offer their time and services
are placed where they are needed most.
Wabaunsee is a speculative fiction writer and editor. He is a
Prairie Band Potawatomi, a Chicagoan, and a former newspaper reporter.
Wabaunsee is a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop and an associate editor
at Escape Pod.
His short fiction has been published by Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, and PseudoPod. In addition to his SF/F work, Wabaunsee has more
than 10 years of experience as an editor, publications manager, and
communications director, primarily working in higher education and research
SFWA President, Mary Robinette Kowal said, “I’m not sure that
I’ve ever met a more organized, soothing person as Kevin. Watching processes
come into place that make SFWA’s communication more efficient has been
Managing Editor, Wabaunsee will assist Editor-in-Chief Michi Trota in providing
oversight and executing production of the SFWA publications and communications
that help shape and maintain the organization’s reputation. This critical
position is responsible to help facilitate SFWA’s goals and mission statement
of informing, supporting, promoting, defending and advocating for its members.
“I’ve long admired SFWA and the work it does on behalf
of the science-fiction and fantasy community. I’m thrilled at the opportunity
to join Michi Trota, Mary Robinette Kowal, and SFWA’s board and staff in
helping to produce SFWA’s publications and sharing them with the world,”
Snow is a designer, illustrator, and arts activist from South
Texas. Over the course of her career, she has served as Creative Director for
multiple nonprofits and justice movement campaigns. In her personal work, she
is inspired by the Symbolists and the Pre-Raphaelites, by the Catholic and
Indigenous religious icons of her native South Texas, as well as speculative
works of wonder, horror, romance, and beauty in literature and music.
“I have long wanted to have an art director for SFWA to
create a cohesive look to the organization’s publications and web presences.
Earlier this year, I had asked John Picacio, for a recommendation for a
volunteer to do some graphic work for the Nebulas conference. In the first
meeting with Lauren, I knew that we had found someone exceptional. When I
proposed expanding her role to art director, everyone on the team gave an
enthusiastic ‘yes’.” Kowal says.
As Art Director, Snow will provide direction and coordination
regarding graphics, art, and other visual elements among SFWA’s multiple
channels and content streams. This new position will help strengthen SFWA’s
“I am delighted to serve as SFWA’s new Art Director,” Snow
says. “My love for genre fiction runs deep. My father, himself an astronomer by
trade and lifelong genre fan, read me Tolkien at bedtime; I spent many an
afternoon wandering the halls of the offices of the Planetarium where he
worked, marveling at the glowing murals of constellations and playing with his
large plastic replica of Ridley Scott’s Alien. To take on the role of Art Director for the Science
Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America is a dream come true. I can’t wait to
work with the SFWA team to bring some fantastical beauty into being.”
is a long-time volunteer for SFWA herself, working with the organization at
Nebula Conferences and Worldcons, as well as helping out behind the scenes. Her
fiction has been published in Flame Tree’s Heroic Fantasy Short
Stories, Apex Magazine, If This Goes On, and Analog. She lives
in Northeast GA with her partner and two dogs.
strength of any service organization comes from its volunteers. SFWA has no
shortage of people in the community who want to help. To link them to the work,
we needed someone who was organized and responsive to a constantly changing
landscape. Beth Dawkins has been doing tireless work matching volunteers to
opportunities and we are very fortunate to have her.” said Kowal.
Volunteer Coordinator, Dawkins will work with members throughout the
organization to catalog the need for volunteers and to match up potential
volunteers with the jobs and tasks that need to be done. SFWA runs on its
volunteers and Dawkins will ensure that it can continue to function and grow.
have always believed in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It
is a pleasure to connect people with one another and continue to help grow our
community,” Dawkins said.
SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal sent a message to members about the fate of the 2020 Nebula Conference after the Los Angeles Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills started issuing cancellation notices today. The organization had intended to make a statement on March 31, but now has gone ahead and shared an overview of their plans.
ONLINE CONFERENCE. From May 29-31, there will be a live
and interactive online event. “The team has been
working on this for several weeks because we anticipated that holding an in-person
event this year would be irresponsible.”
Our goal is to create the essence of the Nebula Conference, even though the form has changed. Our vision is for attendees to feel elevated through the content, enjoy a sense of community with their peers, and have an opportunity for celebration.
…The Nebula Conference will include panels, solo presentations, conference mentorships, workshops, forums, chats, and virtual room parties (including a dance party hosted by John Scalzi).
… The online conference registration will be $150, which includes three days of online panels with real-time interaction, an annual subscription to archived content, and a one-year subscription to the Bulletin. People who have already registered will have the option to defer to the L.A. conference in 2021, donate to help with COVID-19 assistance, or receive a full refund.
NEBULA AWARDS. The Nebula Awards ceremony will stream live at 8 p.m. Eastern on
PLATFORM DEMO. Kowal told members:
On March 31st, we’ll have a demonstration of the online Nebula Conference. We are very excited by this platform because it will allow us to do online classes and host virtual book tours for our members going forward.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. Starting in April, the SFWA Board will be offering grants of up to
$1,000 for SFWA members financially affected by COVID-19. Donations are
If you would like to donate now to help with SFWA sponsored COVID-19 relief, visit https://www.sfwa.org/donate and select “Where The Need Is Greatest,” which the board can redirect to our relief efforts.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE WAY. The message ends —
The team has been working very hard for a March 31st release of this information and is not yet ready to process refunds or transfers. Please wait until we formally roll out our plans on March 31st before contacting the office with questions.
Over the next week, we will be reaching out to our team of volunteers, program participants, and Nebula finalists with more information about what these changes mean to them and how they will be able to participate in the transformed conference.
When Lou Antonelli looked over the field of candidates running for SFWA office this spring he deduced there might be an unclaimed seat among the Directors-at-Large – and the temptation was too great to resist.
Evidently SFWA members have until April 14 to vote.
Once Lou announced, some people thought his name sounded familiar. They soon remembered why. K. Tempest Bradford has assembled a list of episodes in Antonelli’s “resume” and tweeted it here.
At the top of the list is “Lou Antonelli’s BOLO Story”. During the peak Puppy hysteria of 2015, Lou Antonelli said he’d written a letter to the Police Department of Spokane, Washington, telling them to be on the lookout for someone who may incite violence — Worldcon guest of honor David Gerrold.
Should it really be the case that SFWA has a leadership vacuum, Lou is probably not the fellow to cast in a heroic reenactment of “Gentlemen, Be Seated.” A fact which members have already realized, and has caused support to coalesce around another write-in candidate, Monica Valentinelli.