I am Jonathan Brazee, and I worded the post that contained the
20Booksto50K Recommended Reading List. I am a writer as well as a retired
Marine colonel. I mention that because I hold honor to be of vital importance,
and I would not knowingly or purposely do something untoward or unethical.
For background, the intention for the list was for
visibility. I knew any indie title needed nominations from the membership at
large to make the ballot. I wanted to have a diverse ballot with indie
representation, but not to nominate or vote for something just because it was
indie-written or by a member of the group. All I wanted was for the works on
the list to be considered and judged on their own merits.
In addition, the list was there to excite other
group members about the Nebulas and SFWA itself, to show that striving for
quality might be recognized.
HOWEVER . . .
I screwed up, and I take full responsibility for that.
I am writing this both as an apology, because
regardless of my intention, my actions have hurt people and organizations that
I care about. But I also write this so that other people can understand the
nuances of where my mistakes lay. There isn’t anything wrong with reading
lists, but mine made mistakes.
First: this specific post was not approved by anyone on the SFWA
staff. The list grew out of a request for indie titles
for consideration. I approached a SFWA staff member and discussed posting an
indie reading list in the group. I was told it would be OK, but to steer clear
of doing things that could be taken as encouraging a specific vote. And I think
my first rendition of the list did that. Where I blew it was in the last
rendition, where I took it further than the initial discussion and posts. No
one on the SFWA staff vetted the specific post. No one said I could list the
titles as I did. No one said I could write what I did about the Norton. That
was my fault.
Second, I should not have listed the titles in the order I did
or included asterisks. It was an attempt
to encourage the 20Booksto50k membership at large, not for the small number of
20Books SFWA members who had or were going to nominate. It was stupid of me,
and by doing that, I broke a rule that things behind the SFWA forum wall remain
there. Although it was not the intention, I can understand the perception that
this was a way to ask people to nominate a certain manner.
Third, I became too enthusiastic about a Norton candidate. Last year, two slots were left empty because only four had the
minimum ten nominations. I wanted a full ballot, and when we had a book on the
recommended reading list, I became too specific, writing that if ten people
read the book, liked it enough to nominate it, and then did their nominations
before the close, then it probably would get on the ballot.
My intent was to be enthusiastic about indies and
get visibility on their work, not just for members of 20Booksto50k. There
should have been indie titles by writers not in the group on the list.
I am supposed to be a writer, someone who
understands the power of words. And I consider myself a smart individual. But
the execution of my post, no matter the intent, was poor. When I write
something that leaves the impression other than I intended, then that is on me.
I love SFWA. I love 20Booksto50K. I love award
season and reading for them. Joining SFWA has been a dream of mine since 1975,
and 20Booksto50k had helped me, and countless others, become better at the
business side of writing. I would never purposely do anything to harm either of
them. I have worked hard to help SFWA in every way I can, and I have tried to
help others not just within 20Books, but to all writers. I hope I can still be
a positive force for both groups, but if I’ve wrecked that, then I accept the
consequences of my mistakes.
So, where does that leave us?
First, none of the other nominees asked me to put their title on
the list. I would ask that you don’t hold it against them.
Second, 20Booksto50k was not directly involved with it. In this case, the group was a platform, nothing else.
Third, while the concept for an indie recommendation list was
discussed with a staff member, the end post was not vetted. I wish it had been, as it never would have been posted as is.
Fourth, while I had what I consider the best of intentions, my
unfortunate wording has cast a pall over the awards and caused ill feelings, something that has kept me awake at
nights since this broke. I can’t turn back the clock, and I have nothing in my
power to change what happened. But what I can do is to offer that my own
nomination be removed from consideration for the award.
If there is one thing I hope to convey is that
nothing was done with ill intention. Naivete, yes, sloppiness yes, but no ill
let my mistakes reflect badly on SFWA, the Nebula Awards, 20Booksto50k or on
any of the other nominees.
In light of recent events regarding the 2018 SFWA Nebula
Nominations short list, the SFWA Board is aware of the ongoing issues.
We will continue discussion on ways to improve our processes so
that something of this nature does not happen again. With that said, we would
like to make it clear that the organization frowns on any attempt to manipulate
our Nebula Awards nomination and final ballot processes which includes
logrolling and slate campaigns. In our ongoing dialogue, the SFWA Board
will be working in concert with the Nebula Awards Commissioner and the Nebula
Rules Committee to strengthen existing rules
and guidelines to safeguard the integrity of the awards. We also
do not condone abusive behavior in response to the stress of this situation.
In 2013, and as part of a larger effort to recognize just how
much the publishing landscape continues to evolve, SFWA began admitting
independent and small press writers to our organization. Since then, we’ve
welcomed hundreds of new independent, traditional, and hybrid authors. The
volunteers currently serving on the board proudly reflect this addition as
well, with all nine elected positions representing each of those demographics.
Our commitment continues to be towards the support of writers everywhere,
members and non-members alike, embracing all of what the field
has to offer regardless of the way creative, genre works are published.
Our SFWA Nebula Conference and awards have also evolved from the
first ceremony over fifty years ago in 1966 to our most recent addition of a
game writing award which debuted this year. We also understand that with
growth such as this, sometimes comes the pain of finding our way forward.
The recent controversy is no exception, and we fully understand just how
frustrating something like this can be. Our goal with the Nebula Awards is to
foster an environment which celebrates the exceptional work we all do. To
spread that outward to the community and emphasize just how important the
words we create continue to be. We gather at our SFWA Nebula Conference to
network among our peers, hone our craft, and learn from one another, all while
building up to a ceremony that hopes to recognize the work poured into
each of those experiences.
With all of that said, the SFWA Board and staff regrets the shadow
that has gathered over what we’ve all worked so hard to build. Not just a
ceremony, nor just a conference, but a community, and the sometimes complicated
relationships within. We sympathize with the invocation of painful echoes
for many of us and the damage that sometimes comes as a result of what
some may view as the best of intentions. Taking what we’ve learned from
something like this, our largest concern will be focused on the careful repair
of the rifts that have opened and how we can avoid something like this in
Above all else, we hope we can move forward with our ongoing
vision to make this organization into everything it can be. With that, we need
your help. We ask that you continue to create and participate in SFWA
events, programs, and services. We ask that you continue to reach out and let
us know where we can improve.
And finally, when it comes to every Nebula Awards ballot,
we ask that you judge each of the works with care and consideration. The
work that stays with you, that moves you, that work that you love the most
should earn your vote. It is our hope that you will join us on this
very first step, showing just how strong we all can be when we work
She’s brought to bear on this 2019 Nebulas slate her experience with the Sad/Rabid Puppies Hugo slates of 2015, when she took her Hugo-nominated story out of contention (see “Two Hugo Nominees Withdraw Their Stories” from April 2015). Twitter thread starts here.
She also showed the characteristics that distinguished this slate from a mere recommendation list.
Marko Kloos was the other 2015 Hugo nominee named in the story linked above, and he added his support today:
Marshall Ryan Maresca commented on the differences between authors asking for consideration and a slate.
People involved with 20Booksto50K, the creator of the slate, and the author of one of the listed works, have also weighed in.
Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, co-author with R.R. Virdi of “Messenger,” a
work on the list that is now a Nebula finalist, had this to say:
The disproportionate influence of a slate may also be due to the small numbers of nominations needed to make the Nebula ballot, according to this exchange:
Whether something is a recommendation list or a slate is a question:
Bellet said this about recognizing the difference between slates and recommendations:
Incidentally, there is support for Wijeratne’s nominated story.
Michael Cooper responded on Facebook by essentially arguing no one can show anybody was influenced by the list:
Recently the Nebula Award finalists were announced, and there’s been some flak because of the number of independent authors on the ballot.
Honestly, so far as I’m concerned, I don’t think there are enough.
I think that the ratio of indies to trad pubs on the ballot is backwards from what it should be. Why do I think this? Well…sales. Indies sell more books than traditionally published authors by a wide margin. Granted, this is as a whole and there are individual trad pub authors who do very well, but if you look at the top SF authors on Amazon, the list is dominated by indies.
…If you’re a SF reader, then you probably know this statement: Correlation does not equal causation. Just because a list of books to vote for was posted in the 20Books FB group, does not meant that that list got the indies who are on the ballot up there. It’s not a smoking gun.
To say that the indie authors in SWFA (the organization that produces the Nebula awards) voted as a bloc because of that list is to call into question the character of all those people and to say that they did not evaluate the books they voted for.
That sort of statement is: irrational, a baseless accusation, and irresponsible. Now, I know that a lot of people didn’t come out and *say* that members of the 20books FB group voted as a bloc, but they implied it. For the sake of intellectual honesty, they should make it clear that they did not imply such a thing, and that to the best of their knowledge, every SFWA member that nominated a book or story, did so after careful consideration and review.
Because they have no evidence to the contrary (that they’ve presented, at least).
Lastly, to say that because a person is a member of an FB group means that they adhere to all the core tenets of that group is frankly stupid and lazy thinking. To then denigrate them because you don’t like an aspect of a group in which they are members is the sort of thinking that belies a lack of clear logic and reasoning.
It’s hard not take negative comments about 20Booksto50k® personally since I run that group, but taking a step back, we did nothing untoward. Indies read indies. We support each other by reading and buying each other’s stuff, often promoting it as well with our own hard-acquired email lists. The ignorance is appalling about what we do. I think ethically making money isn’t dirty and that’s part of the allusions. People contact me if they find a typo in one of my books – I fix them and reupload. The books with the most typos are my trad pub books. Trad does not necessarily equal higher quality. I think my latest books are as high in the quality department as any trad book out there. But I digress – this isn’t about me. It’s about a system that promotes ebooks that cost more than a hardback. It’s about the old guard who are slowly changing yet having a hard time giving ground. It’s about the industry of middle men who stand to lose their jobs from the indie revolution. Of course they don’t want to change. I can’t begrudge them a long career that ends on a whimper. But adapt and overcome. That’s what has made indies a force to be reckoned with. I demonstrate that with The Expanding Universe anthologies, now a two-time Nebula finalist publication. I support indies taking charge of their own careers through 20Books. I support all authors taking responsibility for their career decisions. I don’t support those who need to denigrate others. It won’t make them feel better and it definitely won’t stop the indie train. That baby is already well down the tracks and picking up speed.
Martelle also waved the threat
of a SLAPP suit against offenders:
We simply asked people to read our stuff with their limited time because full-time indie authors are busy as hell. I’m watching the blogs and stuff. If anyone crosses the line into libel, I’ll drop a C&D on them and then follow with a lawsuit. As they say, put your money where your mouth is. I’m willing to because I know for a fact that we didn’t do a slate. Let’s see how the keyboard warriors respond to real world consequences.
I didn’t respond to any of the blogs or Reddit, but just as an aside, the indie FB list was cleared with the SFWA staff before it was ever posted.
I have asked Brazee for the name of the person he spoke to. Who knows what really happened anyway? If somebody asked me “How about if I put up a reading list” I wouldn’t think anything of it, unless I knew that person was the representative of a large group, and was going to preface his list with an encouragement for the group to nominate those works for the Nebula Award.
J A Sutherland has added perspective in this Twitter thread:
(1) CLARKE CENTER. Here are two of the most interesting videos posted by The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination in the past several months.
Freeman Dyson and Gregory Benford: Forseeing the Next 35 Years—Where Will We Be in 2054?
35 years after George Orwell wrote the prescient novel 1984, Isaac Asimov looked ahead another 35 years to 2019 to predict the future of nuclear war, computerization, and the utilization of space. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Division of Physical Sciences at UC San Diego were honored to welcome two living luminaries in the fields of physics and futurism—Freeman Dyson and Gregory Benford (Ph.D. ’67)—to peer ahead another 35 years, to 2054, and share their insights into what may be in store for us.
An Evening with Cixin Liu and John Scalzi at the Clarke Center
Cixin Liu, China’s most beloved science fiction writer—and one of the most important voices of the 21st century—joins celebrated American science fiction writer John Scalzi at the Clarke Center to discuss their work and the power of speculative worldbuilding.
If Game of Thrones Oreos are just normal Oreos in a GoT package, hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come. The final season of Game of Thrones is one of the most highly-anticipated seasons of television ever, not just because it’s the final season, but also because it’s slated to reveal details of the sixth book in the series which fans have been waiting for nearly eight years. Expectations are ridiculously high — meaning HBO better deliver something better than the television equivalent of regular Oreos, even if regular Oreos are delicious.
(3) REASONS TO ATTEND THE
NEBULAS. SFWA gives you ten of them. Thread starts here.
(4) APOLOGY. FIYAH Magazine of
Black Speculative Fiction’s Executive
Editors Troy Wiggins and DaVaun Sanders have issued “An Apology” for
publishing two collections of stories from FIYAH
without first obtaining the rights to reprint them.
We messed up.
Earlier in the month, we released two collected volumes of fiction and poetry: our FIYAH Year One collection and our FIYAH Year Two collection. We were very excited to get these collected editions out to the public, and in our haste, we did not secure the rights to collect or republish those stories. By doing this, we have disrespected our authors and their work, and not acted in service to our stated mission of empowering Black writers.
We deeply apologize to our contributors and to our readers for this oversight. Unfortunately, several copies of the collected volumes have already been purchased before we were informed about our mistake. We can’t take those purchased issues back, so here’s what we will do instead:
* We have removed the collected issues from Amazon
* We sent an apology to contributors taking full responsibility for our error
* We are splitting the proceeds from the already purchased copies of the collection among all of our Year One and Year Two contributors.
We know that this doesn’t begin to cover the damage we’ve done to authors, but we will continue to improve our accountability measures and internal processes. We are also going to be seeking legal counsel to help us make sure that our contracts are fair to both us and our contributors.
Again, we are so sorry that this happened. We promise to do much better going forth.
(5) WONDERFUL COPENHAGEN.
Denmark’s Fantasticon 2019 has adopted Afrofuturism as its theme. They’ve got
some great guests. The convention’s publicity poster is shown below:
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 25, 1909 — Edgar Pangborn. For the first twenty years of his career, he wrote myriad stories for the pulp magazines, but always under pseudonyms. It wasn’t until the Fifties that he published in his own name in Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Ursula Le Guin has credited him with her is was possible to write humanly emotional stories in an SF setting. (Died 1976.)
Born February 25, 1917 — Anthony Burgess. I know I’ve seen and read A Clockwork Orange many, many years ago. I think I even took a University class on it as well. Scary book, weird film. I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with the Enderby series having not encountered them before now. Opinions please. (Died 1993.)
Born February 25, 1964 — Lee Evans, 55. He’s in The History of Mr Polly as Alfred Polly which is based on a 1910 comic novel by H. G. Wells. No, not genre, but sort of adjacent genre as some of you are fondly saying.
Born February 25, 1968 — A. M. Dellamonica, 51. A Canadian writer who has published over forty rather brilliant short since the Eighties. Her first novel, Indigo Springs, came out just a decade ago but she now has five novels published with her latest being The Nature of a Pirate. Her story, “Cooking Creole” can be heard here at Podcastle 562. It was in Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson.
Born February 25, 1971 — Sean Astin,48. His genre roles include Samwise Gamgee in Rings trilogy (, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, and Bob Newby in the second season of Stranger Things. He also shows up in Justice League: War and in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis filmsvoicing both aspects of Shazam, a difficult role to pull off. He prises that role on the Justice League Action series.
Born February 25, 1973 — Anson Mount, 46. He was Black Bolt in Marvel’s Inhumans series. He now has a recurring role as Captain Christopher Pike on the current season of Discovery. I see he was in Visions, a horror film, and has had appearances on Lost, Dollhouse and Smallville.
Born February 25, 1994 — Urvashi Rautela, 25. An Indian film actress and model who appears in Bollywood films. She has a Birthday here because she appears in Porobashinee, the first SF film in Bangladesh. Here’s an archived link to the film’s home page.
Hearing that your husband needs immediate open-heart surgery is terrifying, especially when he’s been healthy his whole life.
When Jennifer Powell heard the sudden news about her husband, Seth Marko, 43, she spun into action. First, she found care for their 3-year-old daughter, Josephine, so she could be at the hospital for her husband’s 10-hour surgery.
Then Powell’s mind went to their “second kid” — the Book Catapult — the small independent bookstore the couple owns and runs in San Diego. Their only employee had the swine flu and would be out for at least a week.
Powell, 40, closed the store to be with her husband in the hospital. She didn’t know for how long….
(8) BATTING AVERAGE. This
bookstore had a little visitor. Thread starts here.
Alternately confused and clearsighted, utopian and nihilistic, Jan and Remo live the archetypal bohemian life in Mexico City, occupying squalid digs and barely getting by. Jan is 17 and more visionary and less practical than Remo, 21. Jan seldom leaves their apartment, preferring to spend his time writing letters to American science-fiction authors: James Tiptree, Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert Silverberg, Philip Jose Farmer. Remo brings in some paltry cash as a journalist…
…Jan’s passion for pulp is front and center, bringing to mind Kurt Vonnegut’s SF-loving protagonist Eliot Rosewater. Jan’s letters to his sf heroes are basically a plea to be recognized, a demand that this medium–at the time seen, rightly or wrongly, as a quintessentially Anglo domain–open its gates to other cultures, other countries. Jan’s solidarity with his distant American mentors and their visions is al one-way. He adores them, but they do not know he exists, The ache to remedy this unrequited love affair is palpable.
[Joe Sherry]: The point of that is that I look at the game writing category and think “I’ve heard of God of War, didn’t realize Bandersnatch was actually a *game* and have no idea what the three Choice of Games finalists are”. It turns out they are fully text based, 150,000+ word interactive adventures that can be played on browser or your phone. I’ll probably pick up one of them and see how I like it (likely the Kate Heartfied, because her Nebula finalist novella Alice Payne Arrives is bloody fantastic.)
I was surprised to see Bandersnatch a finalist for “game writing”, though. I don’t want to get sued, but I’ve thought of it more akin to the Choose Your Own Adventure books many of us grew up on. Despite the branching path narrative, those were books. Not games. Now, part of why I think of Bandersnatch just as a movie is the medium in which it is presented. Streaming on Netflix equals television or movie in my brain. Branching narrative paths doesn’t change that for me. I haven’t watched Bandersnatch, so I’m staying very high level with what I’m willing to read about it, but I know Abigail Nussbaum has compared Bandersnatch more to a game than a movie and obviously she’s not alone in that opinion if it’s up for the Game Writing Nebula. But much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books, you’re watching the movie and then occasionally making choices. You’re not “playing” the game.
The judge threw out their argument, because it was absurd. It also didn’t even address the “racist bully” defamatory claim they made. It’s sad to watch because anything, I’ve been the victim of racism from the extreme left science fiction establishment. It’s my opinion that this predominantly white group targets me in particular because I’m a minority that won’t toe the line. There’s a lot of psychology to this I’ll have to go into at another time, but a lot of the way the left acts treats minorities like we’re inferior (or, racism as it’s commonly referred to) and we can’t make decisions for ourselves. I oppose this and all forms of racism and it’s a large reason as to why I speak out.
Their entire case appears to be that I’m mean online (which doesn’t impact a convention at all), and therefore should be banned, which has nothing to do with their defamatory statement regarding racism. Our response on that front said there were plenty of extreme leftists who are mean online, they were invited, clearly showing the double standard they enacted against me because of right wing politics. When we reach The Unruh Act appeal process, this will be important.
last line implies he plans to appeal one or more rulings that went against him.
…Jonathan Brazee cleared the posting of the reading list with SFWA beforehand, so there was nothing underhanded at play. It’s a reading list, and members nominated (or didn’t) the works they read and enjoyed.
Indies have been part of SFWA’s membership for several years now, so it’s not surprising that there is now more representation at awards. I’ve interacted with many SFWA members on the forums and at conventions, so I’m not an unknown in writerly circles. Many authors don’t go indie because we couldn’t get a trad deal; we chose to self-publish because of the flexibility and income potential it affords. I am very excited to be an author during this time with so many possibilities.
Thank you for the opportunity to chime in on the discussion! I’m going to go back to writing my next book now :-).
(13) HOW MANY BOOKS A
MONTH. Sharon Lee has some interesting comments about the #CopyPasteCris
kerfuffle on Facebook. The best ones follow this excerpt.
…Unfortunately, said “writer” was not very generous to her ghosts, and. . .well, with one thing and another, said “writer’s” books, in said “writer’s” own words were found to “have plagiarism.”
(I love, love, love this quote. It’s, like, her books caught the flu or some other disease that was Completely Outside of the said “writer’s” ability to foresee or prevent. Also, she apparently doesn’t even read her “own” books.)
Anyhow, the Internet of Authors and the Subinternet of Romance Authors went mildly nuts, as is right and proper, and since none of said “writer’s” books appear to “have plagiarism” from our/my work, I’ve merely been a viewer from the sidelines…
(14) PIRACY. Meanwhile,
Jeremiah Tolbert received some demoralizing news about other shenanigans on
Trevor Noah used Sunday’s Oscars ceremony as a chance to poke fun at people who think Wakanda, the fictional African homeland of Black Panther, is a real place.
While presenting the film’s nomination for Best Picture, the South African comedian said solemnly:
“Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see T’Challa flying over our village, and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase.
“He says: ‘Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka’, which means: ‘In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.”
But that’s not what that phrase actually means.
The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani says the true translation into English is: “White people don’t know that I’m lying”. His joke, which was of course lost on the Academy Awards’ audience in Hollywood, tickled Xhosa speakers on social media.
The new documentary, Life After Flash, casts a wide net in terms of looking at the classic character of Flash Gordon, the 1980 big screen rendition, the questions about a sequel, and the life of its star, Sam J. Jones.
When creator Alex Raymond first published Flash Gordon in 1937, his square-jawed hero was a star polo player. For the film, he was the quarterback of the New York Jets. But in every iteration of the character, he was just a man… with a man’s courage.
In this new exclusive clip, the late Stan Lee discusses whether or not Flash Gordon counts as a ‘superhero,’ since he has no traditional superpowers.
Surprising no one in the history of anything ever, there’s an angry contingent of “fans” upset over a Marvel movie with a woman in the leading role coming out. Or, they’re upset that said star of that movie championed and pushed for more diversity in film journalism.
Whatever the reason, these people are throwing a massive online hissy fit, taking to review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes to make Captain Marvel’s “want to see” rating the lowest in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
[…] Whatever the cause for the online trolling, one man (a hero, or quite possibly, a reasonable adult) is telling all these upset dudes: Knock it off!
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kitbull
on Youtube is a Pixar film
by Rosana Sullivan about the friendship between a feral cat and an abused pit
John King Tarpinian, JJ, Nancy Sauer, Gregory Benford, James Davis Nicoll, Martin
Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) announced the nominees for the 54th Annual Nebula Awards on February 20, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, and for the first time, the Nebula Award for Game Writing. The awards will be presented in Woodland Hills, CA at the Warner Center Marriott during a ceremony on the evening of May 18.
2018 Nebula Award Finalists
The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)
Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)
Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)
Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
Fire Ant, Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)
The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
The Tea Master and the
Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)
Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)
Gods, Monsters, and
the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
The Only Harmless
Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”, Tina
“An Agent of Utopia”, Andy Duncan (An Agent of
“The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our
Births”, José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)
“The Rule of Three”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Future
Science Fiction Digest 12/18)
“Messenger”, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding
Universe, Volume 4)
“Interview for the End of the World”, Rhett C. Bruno (Bridge Across
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George
Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)
“Going Dark”, Richard Fox (Backblast
“And Yet”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of
Portal Fantasies”, Alix E. Harrow (Apex 2/6/18)
“The Court Magician”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed
Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker (House of Tomorrow & Netflix)
The Road to Canterbury, Kate Heartfield (Choice of Games)
God of War, Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Cory Barlog, Orion
Walker, and Adam Dolin (Santa Monica Studio/Sony/Interactive Entertainment)
Rent-A-Vice, Natalia Theodoridou (Choice of Games)
The Martian Job, M. Darusha Wehm (Choice of Games)
The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic
The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy”, Written by: Megan Amram
Black Panther, Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole
A Quiet Place, Screenplay by: John Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Screenplay by: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
Dirty Computer, Written by: Janelle Monáe and Chuck Lightning
Sorry to Bother You, Written by: Boots Riley
The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult
Science Fiction or Fantasy Book
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt; Macmillan)
Aru Shah and the End of Time, Roshani Chokshi (Rick Riordan Presents)
A Light in the Dark, A.K. DuBoff (BDL)
Tess of the Road, Rachel Hartman (Random House)
Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, Henry Lien (Henry Holt)
Nebula Awards will be presented during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference, which will run from
May 16th-19th and feature programming developed and geared toward SFF
professionals. On May 18th, a mass autograph session will take place at the
Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills and will be free and open to the public.
The Nebula Awards, presented annually, recognize the best works of
science fiction and fantasy published in the previous year. They are selected
by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The first
Nebula Awards were presented in 1966.
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy1 was in fact three fix-ups of shorter pieces assembled into three volumes. Strongly influenced by Edward Gibbon‘s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the series set out to depict the collapse of the Galactic Empire and the attempt by scientists to shorten the ensuing dark age. The series is highly regarded: two sections have won retrospective Hugos and the trilogy as a whole won the Hugo for Best All Time Series in 1966.
The BBC’s radio adaptations are also highly regarded. Surely, combining a respected classic with the BBC’s resources must result in something that will delight and entertain my young readers. Right?
Giver’s Fund grants are awarded to support programs that further SFWA’s mission, which is to promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing in the United States and elsewhere, by educating and informing the general public and supporting and empowering science fiction and fantasy writers.
(3) GUESS WHO’S NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF SFWA. Lou Antonelli says he was going to run for President of SFWA (“Maybe some other day”) but there was one little problem – he isn’t eligible. He says SFWA Executive Director Kate Baker notified him —
Thank you for being willing to run for office. Unfortunately, your membership lapsed in the last two years which makes you ineligible to run for the board. Additionally, you would need to have previously served on the board in some capacity to engage a run for President.
(4) 2021 WORLDCON BIDDERS
NEED TO FILE. Johan Anglemark reminded bids to host
the 2021 Worldcon must be submitted by February 15, 2019, either to
email@example.com or to Worldcon 2021 Site Selection, c/o Anglemark,
Lingonv. 10, SE-74340 Storvreta, Sweden.
When you read a novel, short story, etc., you may be given hints as to star locations and the distances from star to star. Most of us just take those vague gestures at maps as given and focus on the exciting space battles, palace intrigues, and so on. Only a few nerdy readers (ahem!) try to work out star positions and distances from the text. And only a few authors (like Benford and McCarthy) provide maps in their novels. There are reasons why maps are generally left out, and who notices an absence?
Roleplaying games (RPGs), on the other hand, have to give the players maps (unless all the action takes place in one stellar system). If you are plotting a course to Procyon A, you need to know just where it is and how long it will take to get there. Game companies have experimented with several approaches to the mapping problem; most are unsatisfactory.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 1, 1908 – George Pal. Let’s see… Producer of Destination Moon, When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds, Conquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, Tom Thumb, The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
Born February 1, 1942 – Terry Jones, 77. Co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. His later films include Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. It’s worth noting that he wrote the screenplay for the original Labyrinth screenplay but it’s thought that nothing of that made it to the shooting script.
Born February 1, 1946 – Elizabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (awfully done) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
Born February 1, 1954 – Bill Mumy, 65. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First he plays an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then it’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he shows he revisits a few years as Darrin the Boy in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before our gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series.
Born February 1, 1965 — Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. (Died 1993.)
Born February 1, 1965 – Sherilyn Fenn, 54. Best know for playing as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. Her first genre work was in The Wraith as Keri Johnson followed by being Suzi in Zombie High (also known charmingly not as The School That Ate My Brain). Her latest work is Wish Upon, a supernatural horror film.
Born February 1, 1984 – Lee Thompson Young. Victor Stone/ Cyborg on Smallville, Agent Stewart in the “Heavy Metal” episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Al Gough on FlashForward and Corporal Bell on The Event. (Died 2013.)
Scientists have evidence that a mountain 3 miles tall, in the middle of a crater on Mars, may be made largely from dust and sand.
To get the data for that surprising conclusion, the researchers MacGyvered a navigation instrument on the NASA rover Curiosity, and turned it into a scientific instrument.
The idea for repurposing the Rover Inertial Measurement Unit came from Kevin Lewis.
“It kind of frustrated me that we didn’t have a surface gravimeter on Mars,” says Lewis, a member of the Curiosity science team, and an assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences at Johns Hopkins University.
A nine-year project has been completed to restore the tomb of ancient Egypt’s boy king, Tutankhamun, and address issues that threatened its survival.
Experts from the Getty Conservation Institute repaired scratches and abrasions on the wall paintings caused by visitors to the burial chamber.
The paintings were also affected by humidity, dust and carbon dioxide introduced by every person who entered.
A new ventilation system should reduce the need for future cleaning.
New barriers will restrict physical access to the paintings, while a new viewing platform, lighting and interpretive signage will also allow visitors to better see the tomb and understand its historical and cultural significance.
One moment you’re investigating a globular cluster, and the next you’re unexpectedly writing a research paper about something else entirely, namely the discovery of previously unknown dwarf spheroidal galaxy. But that’s how it goes sometimes, and the authors of the new study, published this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, couldn’t be happier.
There’s some big goings-on at Fireside Magazine in 2018, and January kicks off with five original stories plus an original poem. The pieces can be rather short (the poem might be longer than a number of the stories), but that doesn’t mean they pack less of a punch. The pieces range from deeply dark to lighter and so so cute, from epic and unexpected to unsettling and tense. The relationships that the pieces introduce, though, are complex and interesting and enlightening. From a father desperate to give his son a better life to a spouse unsure how to talk about what’s happening to them without draining those they care about. The piece looks at impossible situations, or situations that seem impossible, and shows how people move forward regardless. To the reviews!
Whether Zhao was guilty of any of the above is still up for debate, particularly in the absence of a finished book. (Blood Heir was not slated to publish until June; some reviewers had advance copies.) But unless we want to eliminate the Death Song trope from fiction or ding Tolkien’s own use of paraphrased Bible passages, the plagiarism allegations are shaky at best — and the charge of racism, led by a series of caustic tweets from YA fantasy author L.L. McKinney, relies on both a subjective interpretation of the word “bronze” and an exclusively American reading of scenes involving slavery. Nevertheless, the latter allegations caught the attention of social-justice-minded readers, and the controversy began to balloon. A smattering of one-star reviews cropped up on Zhao’s Goodreads page. Book bloggers began announcing that they no longer intended to read Blood Heir. In a tweet thread that did not name or tag Zhao but was clearly about her, well-known author Ellen Oh wrote, “Dear POC writers, You are not immune to charges of racism just because you are POC.”
It’s worth noting here that the role of Asian women within YA’s writers of color contingent has been a flashpoint for conflict before — one that led Zhao to butt heads with YA queen bee Justina Ireland in May 2018. After Ireland wrote a (since deleted) tweet that some readers interpreted as exclusionary gatekeeping of the “POC” label, Zhao launched a long thread asserting that Asian women are, indeed, women of color, including some pointed language about those who would suggest otherwise.
“You can delete your tweets, and we’re not going to come into your mentions, but ask yourselves why you wrote those/agreed with those in the first place, and why there is such an outcry. While we’re on the valid issue of anti-POC within POC groups, examine your own beliefs, too.” (She did not tag Ireland, but needless to say, everyone knew whom she was talking about.)
The Star Wars franchise is full of some of the most recognizable sound effects to ever grace the big screen. Now, thanks to an unearthed video from 1980, the sounds that make up the Millennium Falcon failing to make it to hyperspace have been revealed. As is the case with nearly all other sound effects, the iconic ship’s sounds are made up of from more than one source and then mixed together to create something brand-new and unique. Hardcore Star Wars fans can probably already hear the iconic sound in their heads and don’t even need to pop in The Empire Strikes Back for reference.
A New Hope sound engineer Ben Burtt demystifies the Millennium Falcon failed hyperspace sound in a quick two-minute video. To make the noise, Burtt relied on five different sounds to achieve what he was hearing in his head. The inertia starter of an old 1928 biplane, an air jet recorded in a dentist’s office, the sound of an Arclight motor starting and stopping, the sound of a motor located in the turret of an armored tank, and the pipes underneath a broken sink in the bathroom at the recording studio were all used to make the sound in The Empire Strikes Back.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip WIllams.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) will
present its Kate Wilhelm Solstice Awards to Nisi Shawl and Neil Clarke at the 54th Annual Nebula Conference.
The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award is given by SFWA for
distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community. Shawl
and Clarke join the ranks of previous winners, including Octavia E. Butler,
James Tiptree, Jr., Tom Doherty, Carl Sagan, and Sheila Williams. The award
ceremony will be a part of the SFWA Nebula Conference taking place at the
Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA on May 16-19.
In addition to her own writing, including the novel Everfair
and the stories collected in Filter House and Something More and More, Nisi Shawl has been active in
teaching science fiction and promoting a wide range of diverse voices through
the Carl Brandon Society. Her editorial work included guest editing the issue People of
Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination and the
Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars and Stories for
Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, the latter a collaboration
with Bill Campbell. Shawl was one of the founders of the Carl Brandon Society
in 1999, which not only presents the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and the
Kindred Award to promote authors of color and works which focus on issues of
race and ethnicity, but also works to make attendance and conventions more
affordable for people of color by provided scholarships.
SFWA President Cat Rambo noted, “Nisi Shawl’s work
with the Carl Brandon Society has, as the society’s mission statement says,
fostered dialogue about issues of race, ethnicity and culture, raised
awareness both inside and outside the fantastical fiction communities, promoted
inclusivity in publication/production, and celebrated the accomplishments of
people of color in science fiction, fantasy and horror. She’s worked to provide
writers with the tools they need, including Writing the Other, co-written with Cynthia Ward, as
well as classes based on the book. And she’s pushed steampunk into new lands
with her critically acclaimed novel Everfair. She exemplifies the spirit of the Kate
Wilhelm Solstice Award.”
Invested in the community for decades through various
publishing and book-selling ventures, Clarke launched the Hugo and World
Fantasy Award winning online publication, Clarkesworld Magazine in 2006. Over the ten-plus years
since its inception, he has published a wide range of new and established
writers, including a large number of non-Anglophone authors in
Instrumental in the transition from paper-only submissions to
online systems, the software he first developed for Clarkesworld is still
in use at several magazines. Clarke founded Wyrm Publishing in 2007, Forever
Magazine in 2015, and the translation imprint, Clarkesworld Books,
in 2019. He also currently serves as the editor of the SFWA Bulletin.
In recent years, he’s taken on the task of finding The Best Science Fiction of
Year–an anthology series currently in its fourth year of publication–and has
edited multiple, successful anthologies with Night Shade Books.
SFWA President Cat Rambo has noted about Clarke, “Over
the years, Neil has grown Clarkesworld Magazine into one of the powerhouses
among online magazines, excelling in its treatment of writers, including one of
the highest per words rate coupled with one of the fastest reply rates in the
business. At the same time, he’s encouraged international voices through
translation and outreach, while consistently publishing some of the finest
fantasy and science fiction around. He well merits recognition in the form of
the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award.”
The Nebula Awards, which will be presented during the
annual SFWA Nebula Conference, include four fiction awards, a game writing
award, the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre
Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book. SFWA
also administers the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Awards, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.
Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.
A prototype of SpaceX’s next big rocket fell over and sustained damage in south Texas, thanks to high winds in the area. Images from SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas show part of the vehicle sideways on the ground and slightly crumpled. The damage from the mishap will take a few weeks to repair, according to CEO Elon Musk.
Since the holidays, SpaceX engineers in south Texas have been building a prototype of the company’s new Starship rocket. Formerly known as the BFR, the Starship is the next-generation vehicle that SpaceX is developing to transport cargo and people to orbit, as well as to the Moon, Mars, and maybe even beyond. The full system actually consists of two big components: a large rocket booster, named Super Heavy, which will launch a crew-carrying spacecraft — the Starship — into space.
(3) IN THE YEAR 2054. On
January 30, The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human
Imagination presents Freeman Dyson and Gregory Benford discussing the
topic “Foreseeing the Next 35 Years–Where Will We Be in 2054?”
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Roth Auditorium, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine UC San Diego
35 years after George Orwell wrote the prescient novel 1984, Isaac Asimov looked ahead another 35 years to 2019 to predict the future of nuclear war, computerization, and the utilization of space. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Division of Physical Sciences are honored to welcome two living luminaries in the fields of physics and futurism–Freeman Dyson and Gregory Benford (Ph.D. ’67)–to peer ahead another 35 years, to 2054, and share their insights into what may be in store for us.
Professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Freeman Dyson is an English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician….
Gregory Benford is a physicist, educator, author, and UC San Diego alumnus (MS ’65, PhD ’67)…. A two-time winner of the Nebula Award, Benford has also won the John W. Campbell Award, the British Science Fiction Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature, and the Robert A. Heinlein Award.
(4) RSR ARTIST RESOURCE.Rocket Stack Rank has posted itsannual page
that highlights work by over 100 professional artists who are eligible for the
2019 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. “2019 Professional Artists”.
Eric Wong says —
It takes about a minute to browse the thumbnails on the page, or 5-10 minutes to view all 300+ large images one by one with just a key press or screen tap each (no need to close tabs or hit the back key for the next one) thanks to the “lightbox” view. Creating a shortlist of ones you like is also easy by control-clicking or long pressing the artists’ name in the lightbox. Moreover, we’ve included links to the artists’ websites and search links to find artist interviews. If an image makes you curious about the book/magazine/story, there’s a link for that, too. 🙂
Performance-wise, the page is fine on phones and tablets because it’s a bit smaller and loads a bit faster than the File 770 home page (about 5 MB, under 2 seconds). If you view all 300+ large images in the lightbox, about 40 MB will be downloaded by the time you reach the end.
(5) SFWA STORYBUNDLE. The SFWA Fantasy Bundle curated by Terry Mixon is available from Storybundle for about another three weeks. Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Pay what you want!
For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
Twenty-Sided Sorceress – Books 1-3 by Annie Bellet
Ashwin by Kit Rocha
& Rose by
– The Complete Season One by
Michael R. Underwood
You choose how much you want to pay for these awesome books. (Click on each book above to check them out.) You decide how much of your purchase goes to the author and how much goes to help keep StoryBundle running. If your purchase price is $15 or more, you get SEVEN more books: Radiance by Grace Draven, The Arrows of the Heart by Jeffe Kennedy, The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher, Blood Dragon – Books 1-3 by Lindsay Buroker, Al-Kabar by Lee French, The Glass Gargoyle by Marie Andreas and Catching Echoes – Reconstructionist Series Book 1 by Meghan Ciana Doidge!
“Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin,” a film by Arwen Curry, opened today in Seattle, exactly a year since Ursula died. John and I went to the first showing. It’s quite a wonderful film, lots of voiceovers by Ursula, lots of photos of Ursula, a few talking heads, and a number of interesting special effects. I was pleased to see Vonda N McIntyre there, in the film, and surprised to see a clip of Nisi Shawl and myself chatting with Ursula in an episode of our short-lived cable talk show, produced by Vonda. (I mean, we had all given our permission, but I had forgotten.) It was lovely to hear her voice again.
…As I’ve been somewhat immersed in Tolkien’s lore, I’ve been thinking about what the future of Tolkien’s legacy might be. Clearly, there are huge Hollywood ambitious with it. Amazon is spinning up a fantastically expensive show that’s not *quite* an adaptation of LOTR, but which is said to follow Aragorn before the trilogy, which would be… interesting. It’s also supposedly set in Jackson’s particular vision of Middle-earth, which would make sense, given that that’s what the general public is most familiar with. After all, Guillermo del Toro apparently got the ax by deviating too much from Jackson’s world when he went to adapt The Hobbit.
Adapting Middle-earth is a huge challenge, and looking back on Jackson’s efforts on the first trilogy shows just how well they nailed it — Tolkien purists be damned — balancing the need for something accessible while getting the right tone of the world *right*.
(8) WHO LIVES UP TO YOUR
EXPECTATIONS?[Item by Mike Kennedy.]Buzzfeed has a list of
Twitter posts for “15 Times Meeting A Celeb Lived
Up To Our Expectations,” and several of the named celebrities have
genre ties. Carie Fisher appears on the list twice. Also on the
list: Harrison Ford, Pierce Brosnan, George Takei, and Guillermo Del Toro.
Over the weekend, Twitter user Doug
Tilley asked his followers to share stories about meeting their
heroes and having the interaction live up to the hype: The thread
quickly went viral, with people from all over sharing their heartwarming
exchanges with celebs. The thread starts here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 23, 1939 – Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. Greg is age 80, but Tim passed in 2006. I’d say best known for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Nice.
Born January 23, 1943 – Gil Gerard, 76. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really a truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly, I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan created Star Trek: New Voyages.
Born January 23, 1944 – Rutger Hauer, 75. Roy Batty In Blade Runner of course but did you know he was Lothos In Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That I’d forgotten. He’s also William Earle in Batman Begins, Count Dracula himself in Dracula III: Legacy, Captain Etienne Navarre in Ladyhawke, the vey evil John Ryder in The Hitcher, Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3D, King Zakour in, and no I didn’t know they’d done this film, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power and finally let’s note his involvement in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as President of the World State Federation.
Born January 23, 1950 – Richard Dean Anderson, 69. Unless you count MacGyver as genre which I can say is open to debate, his main and rather enduring SF role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate Universe series. Well Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred and seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend co-starring John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it.
Born January 23, 1964 – Mariska Hargitay, 55. Did you know she’s the daughter of Jayne Mansfield? I certainly didn’t. Her first film appearance was as Donna in Ghoulies which is a seriously fun film. Later genre creds are limited but include playing Marsha Wildmon in the Freddy’s Nightmares – A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series. She also plays Myra Okubo in the Lake Placid film and voices Tenar in the not very good, indeed truly awful, Tales from Earthsea.
The punk connection takes center stage with “Dr. Demento Covered in Punk,” an exceedingly ambitious and densely packed double album — triple in the vinyl edition — being released Jan. 12.
The album comprises 64 tracks spread over a pair of CDs, pulling together new recordings of “mad music and crazy comedy” songs long associated with the quirky radio emcee. Participants include Yankovic, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, William Shatner, Adam West, the Vandals, Fred Schneider of the B-52’s, the Misfits, Japan’s Shonen Knife, Los Straitjackets, Missing Persons, the Dead Milkmen and at least a dozen more.
“I was always a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, and some of the early punk music of the ‘60s with groups like the Music Machine,” Hansen, 76, said in the cozy living room of his home in Lakewood, where he also records his shows that now reach listeners through subscriptions by way of his official website.
“So when the new punk rock showed up around 1976 and 1977, I played a few samples on my show,” he said. Hansen graduated as a classical music major from Reed College in Portland, Ore., and subsequently earned his master’s degree in folk music studies from UCLA.
“I got the Ramones’ first album and played several of those songs, including ‘Beat on the Brat,’ the song Weird Al did for this album,” said Hansen, who has been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, the Comedy Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.
Imagine a bookstore that worked on a membership program — instead of buying books, you rented them. …Seems like a fancy Internetty startup? Nope. It’s your local library….
…And let’s face it, many kids with fines don’t have to have those conversations with their parents — they can avoid the fine simply by avoiding taking other books the library. (And at that point, the library is going to suspend their borrowing privileges anyway.) The result is a lose-lose situation: the kids read less and the library doesn’t get that $10 anyway.
So, the Los Angeles County library system fixed it. They call it the “Great Read Away.”
Cardholders under the age of 21 have a new way to pay their fines through the program, no money required. All they need to do is come to the library and read. For every hour of reading, the library system will forgive $5 worth of fines. And it needn’t be a book, either — magazines, newspapers, and comic books count. (Listening to audiobooks or watching movies based on novels does not, however.) Parents and caregivers can read to children to help the kids pay off the debt (but only the kids’ debt), and for those kids who don’t have the stamina to read for an hour, the librarians can give pro-rated credit.
The latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies has a lot to do with transformations, with the threat of revenge, and with the need for freedom. It finds characters who are caught in circumstances of waiting to be punished. To be found out. And trying to find a way free of the things hanging over them. Now, some of those things are no fault of their own and some of them…well, the characters aren’t always quite so innocent. But the piece looks at freedom and who can hope for it, and what it might cost. The stories deal with the weight of revenge and the feelings that can come when that weight is lifted and set down. To the reviews!
It’s barely three-quarters of the way through January, and already a story has emerged that seems to perfectly encapsulate the early 2019 hellscape: According to a somewhat dubious Reddit post, two furloughed federal workers are subsisting solely on the Silicon Valley-born meal replacement known as Soylent so they can afford to feed their infant child.
Titling his post “Soylent has financially saved my family’s life amid the government shutdown,” the author thanks the company for offering a discount for affected federal employees, writing, “This has literally saved my family’s lives. I was in tears when I saw the [discount advertised] on their Instagram story.” Soylent is offering furloughed workers 35 percent off until the government resumes normal operations.
(17) IN JEOPARDY! Jeopardy! monitor Andrew Porter saw this
come up on tonight’s show.
Answer: Dame Daphne Du Maurier’s works made into Hitchcock films include ‘Rebecca’ and this high-flying novelette.
I know you guys are not used to listening to a small-framed Asian woman speak with authority, but I’m going to say this once and for all: You can keep all your fucking books, you ungrateful motherfuckers. All I wanted was to spark a little joy in your fucking miserable lives, which you’ve tried to make fulfilling by purchasing fucking stuff. But fuck me, I guess, for mentioning that I like to have only 30 books in my house.
See, the problem here is that some of you have interpreted my warm voice, bubbly attitude, and cheery disposition as a surefire sign that I will personally come to your home and build a bonfire out of your unread copies of those J. K. Rowling novels she wrote under a pseudonym that sounds like the name of a Hogwarts professor. Your ex-boyfriend gave you those for your anniversary three years ago. Had you ever mentioned wanting to read those books? Not really. But you did once tell your ex you were a Hufflepuff, so surely they must have some emotional value to you. What kind of fucking monster am I for suggesting you maybe consider donating those books to a local library or thrift shop? So yeah, go off. Enjoy the adventures of Cormoran Fucking Strike. Yeah, that’s the name of the main character. Buckle up, buddy…
Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Eric Wong, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike
Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Liptak, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Paul Weimer.]
Amazon has called the conclusions of a recent report into US author earnings flawed, after the Authors Guild suggested that the retail giant’s dominance could be partly responsible for the “a crisis of epic proportions” affecting writers in the US.
The report from the writers’ body, published last week, highlighted the statistic that median income from writing-related work fell to $6,080 (£4,730) in 2017, down 42% from 2009, with literary authors particularly affected. Raising “serious concerns about the future of American literature”, the writers’ body singled out the growing dominance of Amazon for particular blame. “Amazon (which now controls 72% of the online book market in the US) puts pressure on [publishers] to keep costs down and takes a large percentage, plus marketing fees, forcing publishers to pass on their losses to authors,” said the report.
But on Wednesday, Amazon took issue with the report’s conclusions. “The Authors Guild has acknowledged that there are significant differences between the data it compared in its recent survey and years prior, noting that ‘the data does not line up’,” said an Amazon statement. “As a result, many of the survey’s conclusions are flawed or contradictory. For instance, the survey also shows that earnings increased almost 17% for traditionally published authors and 89% for independent [self-published] authors, and that full-time authors saw their median income rise 13% since 2013.”
…Outreach to underserved and underrepresented writers in the SFF community
Again, the most important aspect of this, as the most underserved and underrepresented writers in the SF/F community are conservatives and Christians. These groups feel like they’re not welcome anywhere within the sphere of publishing, and it needs to change.
I’m confident Ms. Kowal will enact change here, which is the primary reason for my endorsement. I also volunteer to act as an ambassador to the conservative/Christian writing communities on her behalf, as many writers feel they can safely speak with me in confidence, when their concerns might get them ostracized or their businesses hurt if they voice their issues elsewhere. With me in such a role, we can repair the bridge in fandom so we can make it about books again, and selling for authors, and not about petty political squabbles.
Ms. Kowal has demonstrated to me personally that she is sincere in this effort by attempting to assist me with Worldcon 2018 when they horribly discriminated against me last year because of my outspoken beliefs, and because I was under threat of physical harm being done to me at their convention by extreme left-wing agitators. The cycle of victim blaming must stop, and Kowal has assured me SFWA will not be an organization that will treat conservative authors as 2nd class citizens. This is a human rights issue and very big for me!
But Kowal also puts her money where her mouth is. When I was coming up and needed promotion as a writer, Kowal featured me on her blog not just once—but twice, and the second after I’d already become a prominent outspoken conservative within the community. She cares about books FIRST – and this is what sets her apart from others.
I’m excited for her tenure so I can finally join the professional guild (as is my due) without being shut down and held to standards others within SFWA are not.
Discovery season one seemed like a declarative end of a chapter with the Federation-Klingon war coming to its conclusion. Why did you choose to start the second chapter by bringing in the Enterprise, considering its notoriety?
We discover in season one that Michael has a relationship with Spock. The mystery of why Spock, who we’ve known for over 50 years, has never mentioned his sister, is huge. It felt like there was no way we were going to be able to answer that question in one or two episodes. It was easily going to be the substance of a whole season. This season is a deep-dive into that relationship and what went wrong, their history and where they’re headed. That excited me. It’s the unwritten chapter of how Spock became the character that we meet in the original series. We’ll come to understand that were it not for his relationship with Michael, many of the things we know and love about Spock may not have flowered in the way that they did.
…Launching into this first episode reminded me that I do actually like these characters. I felt happy to see Michael, Tilly, Saru and Stamets again. Also, Discovery remains visually impressive, it’s easily the best looking Star Trek. The promised story arc appears to be a mysterious simultaneous signal from five points across the galaxy — a signal that Spock knows something about and which (apparently coincidentally) Captain Pike has been tasked with investigating….
(6) COSTA BOOK AWARDS. The 2018 Costa
Book Awards, a general literary prize in the UK, have a winner of genre interest — Stuart Turton won the
First Novel award for The Seven (or 7 1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
At a party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed – again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day Aidan Bishop is too late to save her. The only way to break this cycle is to identify Evelyn’s killer. But every time the day begins again, Aidan wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath……
Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who’s previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai. He’s the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. TV rights for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle have been optioned by House Productions. He lives in West London with his wife and daughter.
Judges: ‘Impossibly clever, genre-busting murder mystery that feels like a mash-up of Cluedo, Sherlock and Groundhog Day.’
(7) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “WCFF-Dream” on Vimeo is an animated version of “I Dreamed a Dream” with many cute animals that was shown at the World Conservation Film Festival in October.
(8) PEARLMAN OBIT. Alan
R. Pearlman (1925-2019) has died at the age of 93. The New
York Times notes he was —
Founder of ARP Instruments and designer of its early synthesizers, which were used in Star Wars: A New Hope (R2-D2’s beeps), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (that infamous 5-note sequence, shown being played on an ARP 2500), and the 1980’s version of the Dr. Who theme.
[Compiled by Cat
Born January 18, 1882 – A.A. Milne. Oh Pooh has to count as genre, doesn’t he? Certainly that an exhibition entitled “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows his place in our culture. There’s also Once on a Time, a rather charming fairy tale by him. And though it isn’t remotely genre, i wholeheartedly recommend The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
Born January 18, 1933 – John Boorman, 86. I will admit that he does not at all have a lengthy genre resume though it’s quirky one nonetheless as it manages to encompass one howlingly horrible film being Zardoz featuring Sean Connery in diapers and Excalibur giving us a bare breasted Helen Mirren as Morgana. Did you know by the way that Robert Holdstock wrote the novelisation of The Emerald Forest which he directed? He also directed Exorcist II: The Heretic which frankly the less said about, the better.
Born January 18, 1937 – Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. (Died 2009)
Born January 18, 1953 – Pamela Dean, 66. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is a great deal of fun reading. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Alll of these are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
Born January 18, 1955 – Kevin Costner, 64. Some of his films are his genre films are really atrocious, to wit Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Waterworld, The Postman and the recent Dragonfly but I really like his Field of Dreams and his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good. I forgot until just reminded that he was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I know that’s two more horrid films he’s been in.
Born January 18, 1960 – Mark Rylance, 59. Prospero’s Books, an adaption of The Tempest which I really want to see, The BFG and Ready Player One are the films he’s been in. An active thespian, he’s been in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Royal Opera House, Hamlet at American Repertory Theater and Macbeth at Greenwich Theatre to show but a few of his appearances.
Born January 18, 1968 – David Ayer, 51. Film director, producer and screenwriter. Recent genre film from him were Suicide Squad and Bright, both of which have Will Smith in them and both of which, errr, were utter crap. He’ll be directing Gotham City Sirens which will not presumably have Will Smith in it. Yes I’m being snarky.
(10) SIGNS OF SPRING. Jonathan
Cowie announced that the Spring edition of SF2 Concatenation is now online,
with its rich mix of con reports, articles, seasonal giant news page and loads of
In a paper titled “Lego — The Toy of Smart Investors,” Dobrynskaya analyzed 2,300 sets sold from 1987 to 2015 to measure their price-return over time. She found that collections used for Hogwarts Castles and Jedi star fighters beat U.S. large-cap stocks and bonds, yielding 11 percent a year. Smaller kits rose more than medium-sized ones, similar to the size effect in the Fama-French model (though the relation isn’t exact).
Lego sets that focus on superheroes, Batman and Indiana Jones are among the ones that do best over time. The Simpsons is the only Lego theme that has lost value, falling by 3.5 percent on average.
The Harald Mogensen Prisen for the best thriller went to Jesper Stein for his novel Solo.
The Danish Criminal Academy’s debut award was won by Søren Sveistrup for the thriller novel “Kastanjemanden” (The Chestnut Man).
The Palle Rosenkrantz Award for this year’s best foreign thriller novel has been awarded to Michael Connelly for Two Kinds of Truth. The award recognizes the best crime fiction novel published in Danish. It is named in honour of Palle Rosenkrantz (1867-1941), who is considered the first Danish crime fiction author; his novel Mordet i Vestermarie (Murder in Vestermarie) was published in 1902.
(13) J FOR JANUARY AND JOY.
Cora Buhlert’s guest post “Space Opera and Me”
is part of the Month of Joy project of the Skiffy
and Fanty Show:
At the time, a friend asked me why I always watched Star Trek, even though I’d seen much of it before and it was all the same anyway. “You watch soap operas, don’t you?” I asked her. She nodded and said, “Yes, to relax.” – “Well, Star Trek is my soap opera,” I told her.
I was on to something there, because there are similarities between space operas and soap operas beyond the fact that both started out as derogatory terms including the word “opera”. Both soap operas and space operas (and actual operas for that matter) offer larger-than-life drama with a huge cast of characters. Both offer the grand spectrum of emotion, love and hate, birth and death, weddings and funerals. However, space opera has aliens, ray guns, starships and space battles to go with the melodrama.
Another thing that unites space operas and soap operas is that no matter how fascinating the settings, how shocking the twists, how grand the melodrama, what makes us come back for more are the characters. The best space and soap operas feature people (in the loosest sense of the term) we want to spend time with, whether it’s in the mundane surroundings of Coronation Street or Lindenstraße or on the deck of a starship or the surface of an alien planet.
(14) FLOCKS OF HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS.
Nerds of a Feather makes its collective
picks in several Hugo categories at each post. Examples are included below.
(15) HOW WE GOT HERE. An article in this
week’s Nature reminds me of the old
t-shirt design pointing out “You are here” — “The
Once and Future Milky Way” [PDF file].
Data from the Gaia spacecraft are radically transforming how we see the evolution of our Galaxy.
There was a a smashup between the young Galaxy and a colossal companion . That beast once circled the Milky Way like a planet around a star, but some 8 billion to 11 billion years ago, the two collided, massively altering the Galactic disk and scattering stars far and wide. It is the last-known major crash the Galaxy experienced before it assumed the familiar spiral shape seen today. Although the signal of that ancient crash had been hiding in plain sight for billions of years, it was only through the Gaia space probe’s data set that astronomers were finally able to detect it.
Simulation software that can create accurate “digital twins” of entire cities is enabling planners, designers and engineers to improve their designs and measure the effect changes will have on the lives of citizens.
Cities are hugely complex and dynamic creations. They live and breathe.
Think about all the parts: millions of people, schools, offices, shops, parks, utilities, hospitals, homes and transport systems.
Changing one aspect affects many others. Which is why planning is such a hard job.
So imagine having a tool at your disposal that could answer questions such as “What will happen to pedestrian and traffic flow if we put the new metro station here?” or “How can we persuade more people to leave their cars at home when they go to work?”
This is where 3D simulation software is coming into its own.
Architects, engineers, construction companies and city planners have long used computer-aided design and building information modelling software to help them create, plan and construct their projects.
But with the addition of internet of things (IoT) sensors, big data and cloud computing, they can now create “digital twins” of entire cities and simulate how things will look and behave in a wide range of scenarios.
We’re looking at Saturn at a very special time in the history of the Solar System, according to scientists.
They’ve confirmed the planet’s iconic rings are very young – no more than 100 million years old, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.
The insight comes from the final measurements acquired by the American Cassini probe.
The satellite sent back its last data just before diving to destruction in the giant world’s atmosphere in 2017.
“Previous estimates of the age of Saturn’s rings required a lot of modelling and were far more uncertain. But we now have direct measurements that allows us to constrain the age very well,” Luciano Iess from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, told BBC News.
You can tell a lot about an animal from the way it moves, which is why scientists have been recreating the movements of an extinct crocodile-like creature called Orobates pabsti. Orobates lived well before the time of the dinosaurs and is what’s called a ‘stem amniote’ – an early offshoot of the lineage which led to birds, reptiles and mammals. Using 3D scans of an exquisitely preserved Orobates fossil – and an associated set of fossilised footprints – researchers were able to build a dynamic computer simulation of the creature’s movement. The simulation incorporates data from extant animals such as lizards and salamanders to create more realistic motion as it walks along. And the simulation didn’t just stay on a computer; the researchers tested the models in the real world using a Orobates robot, helping bring this ancient creature to life.
Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Alan Baumler, Martin
Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
(1) GHOSTBUSTERS 3. Though few details seem to be available, it looks like
there will be a fourth live-action Ghostbusters movie
(Variety: “Jason Reitman to Direct Secret
‘Ghostbusters’ Movie”), with a new generation of Reitman taking over
in the director’s chair.
Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman.
Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise.
Reitman has also co-written a screenplay with Gil Kenan and plans to shoot the film this summer, with Sony planning to release the latest sequel in summer 2020. Insiders say this film will be a continuation of the 1984 sequel and will not be connected to the 2016 film. Sources couldn’t say if that means that the original cast members will be back, as exact story details are still being kept under wraps but sources say Reitman has begun testing teenagers for four mystery roles.
“I’ve always thought of myself as the first Ghostbusters fan when I was a 6-year-old visiting the set. I wanted to make a movie for all the other fans. This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ‘80s happened in the ‘80s, and this is set in the present day.”
…I believe that SFWA is an important organization and that volunteering for it is a way that we can each help to pay it forward by making the field stronger. As a group, we can improve things within the industry in ways that individuals cannot, but we are dependent on our volunteers. We are dependent on you. I would very much like to help SFWA move forward so that it can continue to inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for our members.
Besides health care, what else am I interested in accomplishing?
New opportunities to help our members diversify their income streams
Strengthening the Nebula Conference as a professional development conference
Protecting our rights for free speech
Outreach to underserved and underrepresented writers in the SFF community
Taking full advantage of our 501c3 status to apply for grants that will allow SFWA to be a more active and useful organization for our members
…Some of you may recall that I was SFWA president once, from 2010 to 2013. Mary Robinette was my vice president for two of those years, 2010 through 2012, and was secretary of SFWA for two years before that. In my role as president, I got a chance to see her work for SFWA up close. She was, in a word, excellent. As my VP she gave me sound advice and counsel (up to and including telling me when I was wrong), she executed on policy and strategy in ways that were smart and effective, and she was my not-so-secret weapon in instances that required tact and delicacy. She was, in sum, the very best of vice-presidents….
(3) NEXT STAR WARS COMICS
ON THE WAY. Marvel’s “celebration of Star Wars
characters” continues in April, with epic one-shots of heroes and villains of
the original film trilogy in Age of
Rebellion. For more information, visit StarWars.com.
Following the legendary sagas of the Jedi, the Sith, and more from AGE OF THE REPUBLIC, join writer Greg Pak (The Incredible Hulk, Weapon H) and artist Chris Sprouse (Black Panther) for new tales about some of the most iconic Star Wars heroes and artist Marc Laming (Beckett, Star Wars Annual) for new stories about the galaxy’s most dangerous villains. With covers by Terry and Rachel Dodson, these are stories you don’t want to miss!
Also in April, discover brand new sides of some of your favorite – and deadly – heroes and villains in AGE OF REBELLION SPECIAL #1, written by superstar team Marc Guggenheim (X-Men Gold), Jon Adams (The New Yorker, Love Romances), and Si Spurrier (Doctor Aphra), and drawn by Adams, Caspar Wijngaard (Doctor Aphra Annual), and Andrea Broccardo (Star Wars), with cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Guru-eFX!
(4) SFWA READINGS. There are four SFWA readings coming up in the Seattle/Portland
(5) OOPS. You could be
forgiven for thinking that yesterday’sTor’s promotional message contains a
premature prediction, although I think it was just intended to be a list of the
author’s accomplishments. See if you can spot the issue. (Image comes from here.)
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 16, 1903 – Harold A. Davis. Notable as another writer of the Doc Savage novels under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. He was the first ghostwriter to fill in for Lester Dent on Doc Savage. Davis would create the character of Ham’s pet ape Chemistry in Dust of Death. (Died 1955.)
Born January 16, 1927 – Anne R. Dick. Author of Search for Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982: A Memoir and Biography of the Science Fiction Writer. Her importance to Philip despite their short marriage can be appreciated in this New York Times obit for her. (Died 2017.)
Born January 16, 1946 – Graham Masterton, 73. English horror writer with numerous titles to his credit. I want to to single out Rules of Duel, a short novel from the early 1970s that he wrote with William S. Burroughs. And The Manitou film based off his novel is a lot of bloody fun.
Born January 16, 1948 – John Carpenter, 71. My favorite films by him? Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York. His films include the Halloween franchise, The Thing, Starman (simply wonderful), The Philadelphia Experiment, Ghosts of Mars and many other films. What do you consider him to do particularly well?
Born January 16, 1949 – Caroline Munro, 70.Active in SF and horror films in the Fifties and Sixties. Amongst her many films are Hammer Horror films such as Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter and Dracula A.D. 1972. Later films include Starcrash (Christopher Plummer is in it so it can’t be that bad, can it?) and At the Earth’s Core. She appeared also as Tammy, a nursing employee of a sinister health farm, in “The Angels of Death” of The New Avengers, a vastly underrated show in my opinion if only for the fact it had the young and quite sexy Joanna Lumley on it .
Born January 16, 1980 – Lin-Manuel Miranda, 39. Sometimes I find that the Birthday honorees have the oddest genre credits but this is the first singer and composer I’ve run across. His first genre credit is voicing Shag Kava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens but he also gets credited as special featured composer. Next up is as composer and singer for the animated Moana film. His most recent, and I’ve no idea if he sings in it but I assume he does, is in Mary Poppins Returns
(7) THEY’RE DEAD JIM (OR
WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS). Easy come, easy go? Newsweek lets us know that, “China’s Moon Plants That Sprouted Are
Already Dead.” The experiment kicked off just before the mission’s landing
site on the back side of the Moon did its monthly thing and earned the
otherwise misleading title Dark Side of the Moon, (No, not that Dark Side.)
Yesterday the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that cotton seeds carried to the far side of the moon by its Chang’e 4 lander had sprouted, marking the first time that humans had successfully grown living material on the surface of another world.
But just a day later, it has emerged that the sprouting cotton buds died as night fell over the lunar far side, bringing the brief experiment to an end. The cotton seeds formed part of a “mini-biosphere” experiment aimed at understanding how plants and animals can grow and live on the moon.
The experiment involved a “mini-biosphere” consisting of a sealed metal canister filled with water, soil and air, which was designed to be its own self-sustaining ecosystem. To this mix, scientists added yeast, fruit fly eggs and the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato and rock cress—a flowering plant in the mustard family.
The biosphere was powered by natural light from the Sun, so the death of the sprouts as the canister entered the lunar night—where temperatures can dip to as low as -280 degrees Fahrenheit—was anticipated by mission planners.
“Life in the canister would not survive the lunar night,” Xie Gengxin, leader of the experiment from Chongqing University, told Xinhua, China’s state-run, English language news agency.
After seven years, four seasons, eighteen episodes and two specials, the conversation around Black Mirror seems to have settled itself into distinct camps. There are those who see it as a meaningful commentary on the growing role of technology in modern society and the pitfalls of our growing dependence on it. And there are those who decry it as a cynical, reflexively anti-tech exercise in nastiness. I tend to think of myself as falling between the two extremes—there are a lot of ideas in Black Mirror that I find interesting and unique, especially when it comes to the intersection of technology and capitalism; but I often feel as if many of them have happened largely by accident. The show’s latest foray, however, the interactive movie “Bandersnatch”, written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, has shaken my indulgence. Not only does it revel in some of Black Mirror‘s worst excesses, it’s also an extremely bad example of interactive fiction, at a moment when the form is enjoying a creative flowering.
January 16, 1939 — The comic strip Superman appeared. Robert Kerr writes:
80 years ago today the first Superman daily strip appeared in the Houston Chronicle. This was the first place Superman had appeared outside of Action Comics. His own solo comic book was still a couple of months away. The daily strip was where Krypton was first mentioned by name and the first place Superman got a more detailed origin. This was full circle for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Before DC Comics bought Superman for Action Comics #1, Superman was rejected by every major newspaper syndicate in the country. Before Superman pretty much created the comic book industry, cartoonist wanted their strips to be in newspapers.
The graph reveals several interesting trends. Some genres, for instance, have evidently fallen out of favor, such as musicals and westerns. In the 1930s, 15% of the movies released were musicals, while in 2018, the figure has fallen far below 5%. And although westerns saw a resurgence in the ’70s after its decline in the ’60s, the genre has had scant representation in recent years.
(11) TREK TRIVIA. ScienceFiction.com invites you to show
your mastery of Star Trek and “Match
The First Officer To The Starship”. The quiz is at the link. It was tougher than I expected – I scored only
The ships of the United Federation of Planets have a long history of service, exploration, and combat in the Star Trek Universe. While the Captains of these ships usually end up getting most of the glory, it takes many, many crew members to effectively maintain a starship’s operations, and while the Captain is usually busy calling the shots, much of the administrative and personnel work falls to the First Officer.
This quiz will test your knowledge of those brave souls assigned to ships as the XOs. In some cases, these characters may have only served the First Officer role for a short while; in other cases, you may see names of officers whose adventures have squarely shown them in the second-in-command role. This will be no easy task, but hopefully you are up for the challenge. Engage!
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Lenovo and Verizon are soon to reboot the iconic aughts Razr flip phone, with a 2019 twist — or should we say…. fold!!!
The report claims that Lenovo Group, Inc. has teamed up with Verizon as an exclusive partner to sell a new version of the Razr, based on the word of “people familiar with the matter.”
The new Razr will be a smart phone, but it will be able to retain its flip phone form because the screen will be a foldable. It will reportedly become available as soon as February (!!!), and cost $1500. Which, ouch. But that’s maybe worth it for retro foldable screen glory?
2019 may finally be the year when American astronauts launch to orbit from American soil again, ending an eight-year drought that started when NASA’s Space Shuttle program shut down in 2011. The inaugural flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are slated to take place in the coming months, and the launches will see privately owned vehicles carrying space agency astronauts for the very first time. If the current schedules hold, California-based SpaceX may be the first one to send its vehicle to space with two NASA astronauts on board.
For this Verge Science video, we visited SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to meet those astronauts and see what one possible future of American crewed spaceflight looks like.
Author Stephen King – and his readers – have persuaded his local newspaper to reverse a decision to axe its book reviews.
The Portland Press Herald, based in his home state of Maine, had decided to stop running reviews of local books.
After King expressed dismay, the paper challenged him to get 100 followers to buy digital subscriptions. His fans did not disappoint him, prompting the paper to pledge that “book reviews will return”.
(15) DISNEY MUSIC. “A Place Called Slaughter Race” from Ralph Breaks the Internet. Performed by
Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, and Cast Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Phil
Johnston, and Tom MacDougall
[Thanks to Paul Weimer, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Bill, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing Firesign reference editor of the day Kip Williams.]