Like hermit crabs, ghosts and demonic forces are extremely adaptable when it comes to finding a new home. Especially fond of portraits, mirrors, and dolls, they have also been known to inhabit more mundane items. A saucepan. A fur boa. A pair of gloves. A snuff box.
Household items charged with supernatural power are a common motif in the large body of weird fiction written by British women in the first half of the twentieth century. Sometimes the effect is darkly comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes terrifying. As Melissa Edmundson notes in her introduction to Women’s Weird: Strange Stories by Women, 1890-1940 (Handheld Press, Melissa Edmundson, 2019) many of these haunted objects are ‘traditionally feminine’, and almost all have some connection to women’s changing roles and complicated relationship with domesticity and sexuality in this period.
(2) HE’LL RETIRE THE SERIES WITH THE RECORD. Stephen Jones reminded Andrew Porter about ending his Best New Horror anthology series in 2022. He wrote:
“I quietly announced it nearly two years ago.
“It was always the plan that when — or if! — I ever reached volume #31 (one more volume than THE PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES) then I would probably retire it. It’s an annual anthology that now takes nearly two years to compile!
“The final volume (in this format at least) will be published by PS Publishing towards the end of the year.
“It will hopefully set the record for the longest-running horror anthology series from the same editor.
“I decided to let Gardner Dozois’ record with THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION stand.”
…The streamer has given the limited series a six-episode order with plans in place to begin shooting in Scotland later this year. First published in 2005, “Anansi Boys” follows Charlie Nancy, a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father, Mr. Nancy. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that his father was Anansi: trickster god of stories. And he learns that he has a brother. Now his brother, Spider, is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting but making it a lot more dangerous.
The character of Mr. Nancy appears in both “Anansi Boys” and the Gaiman novel “American Gods,” the latter of which is currently airing a series adaptation on Starz. However, there is no connection between the two projects and “Anansi Boys” will serve as a stand-alone story.
I mentioned that making Good Omens two is half of what I’ve been working on, and will be working on for next eighteen months, and I said I’d tell you soon enough what the other secret project I’ve been working on is.
…And I cannot tell you how happy I am to be making it, and making it in the way that we’re making it.
Anansi Boys started in about 1996. I was working on the original Neverwhere TV series for Lenny Henry’s film company, Crucial Films.
I loved a lot of what we were doing in Neverwhere. 25 years ago, it felt like we were doing something ahead of its time.
Lenny and I went for a walk. Lenny grumbled about horror films. “You’ll never get people who look like me starring in horror films,” he said. “We’re the hero’s friend who dies third.”
And I thought and blinked. He was right. “I’ll write you a horror movie you could star in,” I told him.
I plotted one. I tried writing the first half-dozen pages of the movie, but it didn’t seem to be right as a movie. And I was beginning to suspect that the story I was imagining, about two brothers whose father had been a God, wasn’t really horror, either.
… A top Hollywood director wanted to buy the rights to Anansi Boys, but when he told me that he planned to make all the characters white, I declined to sell it. It was going to be done properly or not at all.
And then, about ten years ago, two things happened at the same time. Hilary Bevan Jones, a producer who had made a short film I had directed (called Statuesque) mentioned she’d love to make Anansi Boys as a TV series, and a man named Richard Fee, who worked for a company called RED, spotted me eating noodles in a London noodle bar, waited outside so he didn’t seem like a stalker, and told me how much he loved Anansi Boys and that he’d love to make it into television.
I loved the TV that RED had made, loved Hilary and her team at Endor, and, unable to decide between them, suggested that they might be willing to work together. They both thought this was a good idea. …
How does one go about inventing a language? David J. Peterson is the creator of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for fantasy series Game of Thrones, as well as many others. He joins Michael Rosen for a playful discussion about all things conlang, and Michael tries his luck at inventing a new language for bacteria.
Oscar winner Paul Franklin tells how visual effects changed and how they changed cinema. By the mid 1990s, Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX house at the heart of the rebirth of photochemical illusions, was home to a small but growing band of digerati convinced that the next breakthrough was at their fingertips. Jurassic Park not only proved their point but showed audiences and filmmakers that nothing could be the same again. The quest for the illusion of life, for the subtlety of performance would eventually lead back to Middle Earth and the evolution of Gollum – the perfect fusion of man and digits. Meanwhile the illusory world of The Matrix put its extraordinary moments of Bullet Time at the heart of its story and ideas. This was visual effects as both story and metaphor. Christopher Nolan’s Inception took that warping of reality to a different, hyper-real realm as Paul Franklin and his team folded the streetscapes of Paris upon each other. And now? What does the future hold for storytelling and visual effects?
(7) VERDANT ARTHURIANA. A second trailer has dropped for The Green Knight, to be released July 30.
An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1995 – Twenty-six years ago, Patricia McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. The book was first published in hardcover by Bantam Spectra in November 1994. It was originally published as part of Brian Freud’s Faerielands series, a collaborative series of novels where the writer could choose from a set of illustrations that Froud did and write their novels around those pieces of art. Only two of the four planned books were published with the intended artwork, this one and The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint. A third illustration would be used but not as part of this series but rather as the U.K. edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which was intended to be part of this series but instead got a Susan Seddon Boulet cover.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 21, 1929 — John Woodvine, 92. He’s first shows up genre wise in An American Werewolf in London as Dr J. S. Hirsch, but shortly thereafter he’s Master West 468 in The Tripods and Prior Mordrin in the Knights of God children’s SF serial. Finally he’s Justice Dimkind in A Perfect State which is at least genre adjacent.
Born July 21, 1933 — John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales); A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a ghost story. OGH says he remembers Gardner’s short fiction collection The King’s Indian (1974) very fondly. It made a big impression on him when he was in college and still thought he might become an sf writer. (Died 1982.)
Born July 21, 1944 — David Feintuch. Astounding Award winner for best new writer. He wrote one science fiction series, the Seafort Saga, and a fantasy series, Rodrigo of Caledon. An eighth novel in his SF series, Galahad’s Hope, was apparently completed but never published. (Died 2006.)
Born July 21, 1948 — Garry Trudeau, 73. Best remembered for creating the Doonesbury franchise which I’m not pretending is genre but I wanted to note his birthday. The first daily strip was published Oct. 26, 1970 (he does new ones only on Sundays now) which means he’s been at it for over fifty years.
Born July 21, 1951 — Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher King, Bicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
Born July 21, 1969 — Christopher Shea, 52. Someone at casting likes him as he showed up in three Trek series, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise playing a total of four roles. His only other genre was on Charmed.
Born July 21, 1976 — Jaime Murray, 45. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood.
(10) THE EARLY BIRD. San Diego Comic-Con International has posted the Program Schedule for Comic-Con@Home, running July 23-25 – there are also some pre-con items on the schedule for today and tomorrow.
Kidnapped and sold as a maid to the rear palace, the sprawling residence for the emperor’s many wives and consorts, Maomao is determined to keep a low profile until her term of service is over and she can return to her old life as a would-be apprentice to her apothecary foster-father in a nearby red light district. Bright, pragmatic, and aloof, Maomao sees little to covet in the endless squabbles of the rear palace.
Sadly for this plan, Maomao’s observant nature, unusual skills, and inability to restrain from interfering in potentially lethal misadventures draw the attention of powerful eunuch Jinshi. Maomao has committed an error even riskier than offending one of the court’s most powerful functionaries. She has inadvertently shown that her deductive prowess could be useful. Which means, of course, when confronted with seemingly inexplicable mysteries—or even just the need for a toxin-resistant food taster—it is to Maomao that Jinshi turns. And if things go horribly wrong? Well, that probably won’t affect Jinshi.
…With the novel now a Hugo Finalist, and me, as the author, as a native New Yorker having re-read the book recently in audio, I thought a second look at the book was in order to explore other facets of the novel, and the audiobook in particular….
While I had highly enjoyed reading the book in ebook last year, my choice of re-reading it audio, first a way to fill some loose hours in my listening schedule and a way to tag back into the book in order to rank it as a Hugo Finalist on my ballot. I was, however, riveted from the beginning for a number of reasons.
The choice of narrator, Robin Miles, is an excellent choice. Miles has worked with Jemisin before (notably on the Broken Earth trilogy) and has a very good voice for Jemisin’s word choice and sentence style. It’s a wonderfully immersive performance on her part, and her voice kept me listening, to the point of NPR style “Driveway moments” throughout the production. This is a book I could have done even better listening to it on a long driving trip.
The use of sound in the audiobook was inspired. While this is not a full cast production, and just has the aforementioned Miles as narrator, the production is not content to just use her considerable vocal talents. The audiobook employs some sound effects and tricks to help immerse the reader into, particularly, the cosmic horror of the novel in a way that the print novel doesn’t quite manage….
… With the recent publication of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shards of Earth, and now this, John Appel’s debut into novels, Assassin’s Orbit, there appears to be a mini boomlet in space opera stories set in a verse where Earth, the center, has been removed from the equation, and in point of fact, the power that ended Earth is one that might return in full force and flower and destroy what has been built in the meantime. And, also, the theme of how expatriates, if not outright refugees, try to build a new life far away from a home they cannot return to is one that is very much of this moment….
(15) DUNE CAST POSTERS. Warner Bros. has released a series of character posters from Dune, the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel directed by Denis Villeneuve. Its world premiere will happen at the Venice Film Festival in September before its October 22 release. See the character posters on Twitter. Thread starts here. Poster of Timothée Chalamet, who stars as Paul Atreides; Zendaya (Chani); Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica); Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho); Oscar Isaac (Duke Leto Atreides); Javier Bardem (Stilgar); Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck); and Stellan Skarsgård (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen). Also Dave Bautista, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen and David Dastmalchian and Charlotte Rampling.
(16) PRO TIP. Larry Correia gave everyone a free lesson about “How To Write Your Author Bio” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation. The TL:DR version is: write a straight bio with your credits, then take the curse off by writing a blog post that belittles whatever you humblebragged about. For example:
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Scarlet Nexus,” Fandom Games says this game is “one of the most anime-friendly games ever” but not based on any actual anime, so you don’t have to prep before playing the game.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris M. Barkley, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Below, find the TOC you’ll want to tick… the Table of Contents of a book that might help…. but first… yes, there are countless times I’d prefer to be wrong! Especially when it comes to the predictions made in THE POSTMAN!
TIME Magazines called EARTH one of “8 best predictive novels,” and there have been many other hits. But I always figured that my portrayal of lying-betraying-prepper “Holnists” in THE POSTMANwould prove to be artistic exaggeration — not a how-to manual for evil and treason.
Just as Adolf Hitler described his approach in Mein Kampf — and no one took him at his word — Nathan Holn is recalled having laid it all in the open… but Americans didn’t believe anyone would so baldly offer such a despicable program. The warning went unheeded till it was too late.
Likewise, Donald Trump has said publicly that his attack on the U.S. Postal Service is intended directly to interfere in the election. Of course crashing USPS also undermines rural America, a major part of the GOP base. So how is this supposed to benefit Republicans? The answer is… it’s not. Chaos and dysfunction are the goal. To Trump’s puppeteers, it doesn’t matter if he loses, so long as America dissolves into bitterness and pain.
Already it’s clear we need to start a mass movement akin to BLM to support Postal Workers!
(2) NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE COMIC-CON. Robert J. Sawyer challenges some assumptions about Canadian sff award voters in a Facebook post.
Yesterday, I attended the annual general meeting of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, which was held by Zoom, due to the COVID pandemic.
The first issue the chair raised was what he considered to be a precipitous drop in the number of voters over the years. Years ago, he said, the number was in the mid-two-hundreds and he cited year-by-year figures showing a steady decline down to the current tally of 140 or so. Much discussion ensued about how to beef up the number.
My feeling is two-fold. First, it’s NOT an Aurora-specific issue, and, second, it’s NOT even a problem….
When people talk about bringing in vast new swaths of fans to beef up Aurora voting numbers, they usually mean finding a way to get young fans involved. But young fans, by and large, AREN’T SF&F readers, and have their own fandom traditions — they expect, for instance, their events to be high-cost and run to professional standards (even if mostly staffed by volunteers).
These are the fine folk who enjoy the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo; Fan Expo in Toronto; Anime North, also in Toronto; OtakuThon in Montreal; and so-called “comic-cons” across the country. They want to see actors and comic-book artists. Politely, they don’t need us — AND WE DON’T NEED THEM.
If traditional fandom is shrinking — and it IS, mostly through attrition as people get old and finally go on to that great hucksters’ room in the sky — then so be it. But is that hurting the Aurora Awards?
I say no. I had no horse in the race this year — I was not even eligible in any category except for related work (for my bimonthly columns in GALAXY’S EDGE magazine) and wasn’t nominated. But I studied the ballot and, even more important for posterity, the actual winners this year, and my verdict is this: the Auroras are doing just fine.
… In the past, we’ve also seen ballots with conspicuous omissions and even more conspicuous inclusions. When a Canadian work is nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, or the World Fantasy Award, it SHOULD raise eyebrows when it has been squeezed off the Aurora ballot by lesser creations.
This year, though, the best short-form Aurora went to the most-generally-lauded Canadian-authored (or, at least, co-authored) work on the ballot: THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, which had already won the Hugo AND the Nebula Awards.
In the past, we’ve seen huge numbers of votes of dubious pedigree: people who have no known connection to fandom but a personal connection to one of the nominees nominating and voting en masse, propelling dubious works onto the ballot and sometimes shamefully even winning the award.
Thankfully, those days of hustling seem to have fallen by the wayside….
(3) NASFIC 2020. The virtual Columbus 2020 NASFiC Opening Ceremonies start 3:00 p.m. on Friday, August 21. Here’s =“How To Attend”:
Attending the North American Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention will now be easy as everything will be online!
On the day the convention begins, the page you are viewing now will provide you with a virtual “log book”. When you have signed it, this website will provide you access to several more pages, with embedded chat channels and streaming video.
It will be free, but we will still accept donations.
(4) SFF AROUND THE GLOBE. FutureCon, a new virtual international sff convention, will launch September 17-20. Cheryl Morgan gives an overview in “Introducing FutureCon”. (See the schedule here.)
While we might all be stuck at home wishing that we could sit in a bar with our friends, one of the benefits of the new virtual world in which we find ourselves is that travel is instantaneous and free. This means that we can have conventions that are genuinely global, and very cheap or free to attend.
Into this space comes FutureCon. It is being organised primarily by folks in Brazil, but with a lot of help from Francesco Verso in Italy, and also a bunch more people around the world. It will take place from September 17th-20th, and will be free to all on YouTube. All of the programming will be in English. Confirmed guests include Ann Vandermeer, Aliette de Bodard, Chen Qiufan, Ian McDonald, Lavie Tidhar and Nisi Shawl. But more importantly there will be speakers from over 20 different countries including Argentina, Croatia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey & Uganda.
… Francesco can read in many different langauges, and he said something today in a launch meeting for the event that really struck a chord. I’m paraphrasing slightly, but the gist was, “the quality of science fiction is evenly distributed around the world, but it is unevenly visible.” I hope that FutureCon can be an important step along the road to changing that.
… After the 1960s SF panel, I had only ten minutes to get to my next panel “Translation: The Key to Open Doors to Cultural Diversity in SFF”. I was moderating again and the panelists were Libia Benda from Mexico, Luis F. Silva from Portugal, Wataru Ishigame, speaking from the POV of a publisher publishing translated SFF in Japan, and Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine as the token American. Though that would be mean, because Neil Clarke has done more than pretty much any other magazine editor to bring translated SFF to English speaking readers.
Again, we had a lively e-mail debate before the panel and just as lively a debate during the panel, complete with an audio zoombombing by a Mexican street vendor. I had also asked all panelists to recommend some SFF books or stories from their country that had been translated into English (and Neil Clarke generally recommended SFF in translation), so there were book recommendations as well.
The translation panel also overran by almost half an hour, because once the Zoom recording was stopped, the Zoom meeting just remained open. After ascertaining that the audience could still hear us, we just continued talking about SFF in translation for another twenty five minutes or so, until the Zoom host shut down the room. Now that’s something that could never have happened at a physical con, unless you were the last panel of the day and the room wasn’t needed again….
I called my post from last week “Results and Final Thoughts“… but after it went up, I had another thought. So that title was a lie! Many people out there analyze various aspects of the results, but I want to look at two things: how many people vote in each category, and how many people vote No Award.
… Voting No Award in first place usually means one of two things, I would claim. First, it could mean that you find the concept of the category invalid. Every year, I vote No Award for Best Series, Best Editor, and a couple other categories, for example, and leave the rest of my ballot blank. I have some fundamental disagreements with the premises of those categories, and do not think they should be awarded. (Very few Hugo voters agree with me, though, clearly.) It could also mean that you just found everything in that category subpar: this year I voted No Award for Best Short Story, but still ranked finalists below it.
How well does Mollman’s interpretation hold up? And what is there to learn in the voting pattern from Jeannette Ng’s acceptance speech for the 2019 Campbell Award?
Here is a list of things that the HBO series Lovecraft Country, premiering Sunday, August 16th, has in common with the 2018 film Green Book:
1. Setting: Jim Crow-era America
2. Acting: Subtle, nuanced performances (Viggo Mortenen’s dese-and-dose Green Book gangster notwithstanding).
3. Subject: Story features a road trip involving a travel guidebook written to inform Black people where they can safely eat and stay. (Green Book: Entire film; Lovecraft Country: Opening episodes only.)
And here is a brief, incomplete list of the things that Lovecraft Country prominently features that Green Book emphatically does not:
1. A story centered on the lives of Black characters.
2. Black characters with agency, absent any White Savior narrative
Shoggoths, of course, are creatures imagined by writer H.P. Lovecraft — blobs covered with eyes that continuously arise and dissolve back into their putrid, pulsating flesh. (The Shoggoths of Lovecraft Country are shaped more like Pit-bulls than protoplasm, though they’ve got that whole creepy-eyes thing covered.)
Lovecraft Country is only the latest in a series of movies, television series and novels to engage with America’s greatest moral, economic, social and psychological wound — the legacy of slavery — by way of the fantastic. Creators like Jordan Peele, Damon Lindelof, Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead didn’t avail themselves of, respectively, body-swapping, superheroes, an angry ghost and an entirely literal subterranean mass-transit system as a means to distract from, or to trivialize, racial injustice. No: They knew that when grappling with a foundational truth so huge and ugly and painful, utilizing the metaphorical imagery of science-fiction and horror offered them a fresh way in — an opportunity to get their audiences to re-examine, to re-feel, the enduring impact of that evil.
…Though it’s sure to be compared to Watchmen, given both its prominent HBO Sunday night berth and its determination to view race in America through the prism of science fiction, Lovecraft Country is lighter in tone, and far pulpier in sensibility, than Lindelof’s comparatively grand, sweeping epic. It’s much more apt to go looser and loopier, sprinkling magic spells, sacred codexes, secret passages and the occasional light tomb-raiding into the mix. It’s also far more eager to serve up the satisfyingly grisly thrills of pulp horror — bad guys getting their bloody, cosmic comeuppance, for example.
But for every fun, if wildly anachronistic, element — needle-drops like Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” say, or abdominal muscles like Majors’ — Lovecraft Country is always careful to re-center itself on its characters, and their hemmed-in status as Black women and men in 1950s America. Between every narrow escape and exposition dump about “finding the missing pages from the forbidden tome” or whatever, it gives its characters and their relationships breathing room. Case in point: Letitia’s contentious bond with her sardonic, disapproving sister Ruby (the quietly astonishing Wunmi Mosaku, in a warm, deeply compelling performance) gets a chance to grow and complicate. And in a later episodes (only the first five were screened for press), Ruby happily manages to step off the sidelines and mix it up with the series’ deep, abiding weirdness.
Though M. T. Anderson couldn’t possibly have planned it, his new book The Daughters of Ys feels like it was created for just this moment. The story’s driving force and key image — a torrential flood of natural and unnatural origin that sweeps away a city — is the perfect symbol for our era. If you’ve felt your brimming anxiety about the coronavirus overflow as you’ve tried to keep up with the never-ending tide of news about it, you’ll sympathize with Anderson’s characters.
This book is an excellent read right now for other reasons, too. Trying to keep abreast of your daily news feed may have made you impatient of any pleasure reading that isn’t perfectly absorbing (OK, that’s the last flood pun, I swear). A graphic novel, The Daughters of Ys is fun and easy to read. Anderson’s story, a reinterpretation of a Breton folktale, is effortlessly page-turning and actually feels a bit like a young adult title — not surprisingly, considering YA is Anderson’s preferred genre. But like Anderson’s National Book Award-winning The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, this book is both accessible to a wide age range and rich with ideas that will intrigue adults. (Note, however, that due to dark themes, some gore and the fact that the characters have sex, it may be best kept away from immature readers.)
Best of all, Daughters of Ys is a terrific respite for eyes weary of scanning headlines. Artist Jo Rioux isn’t as well-known as her coauthor — as is often the fate of illustrators who focus on children’s books — but she should be. Her drawings here aren’t just beautiful, with their deep, layered colors and elegant compositions; they’re also smart. Nodding to the original tale’s 5th-century setting, Rioux uses the style and motifs of Anglo-Saxon art (think of the Bayeux Tapestry and the metalwork of Sutton Hoo). But she doesn’t just replicate the style, she uses it to explore the evocative possibilities of minimalist cartooning. The characters’ faces have flat-looking eyes and minimal features, but they express intense, ambiguous emotions. Rioux also borrows the glowing lights and velvety shadows of Maxfield Parrish’s work for certain scenes, including a wonderful interlude set inside a circle of standing stones. The reader is encouraged to recall Parrish’s turn-of-the-20th-century America, when astonishing and alarming technological advances triggered a yearning for the romantic past, and to compare it with our own time.
(9) CHECK OUT COUNTER. WorldCat’s Library100 – I’ve read 41 of these.
What makes a novel “great”? At OCLC, we believe literary greatness can be measured by how many libraries have a copy on their shelves.
Yes, libraries offer access to trendy and popular books. But, they don’t keep them on the shelf if they’re not repeatedly requested by their communities over the years. We’ve identified 100 timeless, top novels—those found in thousands of libraries around the world—using WorldCat, the world’s largest database of library materials.
So, check out The Library 100, head to your nearest library, and enjoy the read!
(10) GOLDENBERG OBIT. American music composer, conductor and arranger Billy Goldenberg (William Leon Goldenberg) died on August 3, aged 84 reports Stephen Jones.
His many credits include Fear No Evil, Silent Night Lonely Night, Ritual Of Evil, Steven Spielberg’s Duel, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (1973), The Legend Of Lizzie Borden, The Ufo Incident, Metamorphoses, This House Possessed, Massarati And The Brain, Prototype, Frankenstein (1986), 18 Again! and Sherlock Holmes And The Leading Lady. On TV Goldenberg composed music for the pilots of Night Gallery (again for Spielberg), Future Cop and Gemini Man, plus episodes of The Name Of The Game (Spielberg’s ‘LA 2017’), The Sixth Sense and Circle Of Fear (along with the theme music for both shows), Amazing Stories and the 1989 mini-series Around The World In 80 Days. He also composed one of the themes to the Universal logo.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 16, 1951 — Dimension X’s “The Vital Factor” was first broadcast. The story is that a ruthless millionaire is determined to be the first man to conquer space…no matter what the cost. The script was used later on X Minus One. It was written by Nelson Bond who is the holder of a Nebula Author Emeritus award for lifetime achievement. He’s also the recipient of First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. His Meg the Priestess stories gave us one of the first powerful female characters in the genre. Daniel Ocko and Guy Repp are the actors here. You can listen to it here.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 16, 1884 — Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazines, Amazing Stories in 1926, and Wonder Stories in 1929. He also played a key role in creating fandom through the Science Fiction League. Writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which most critics think is utterly dreadful but Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” And of course he’s who the Hugos were named after back in 1953. (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1913 – Will Sykora. Active at least as early as Jan 30 letter in Science Wonder Stories. With Sam Moskowitz, thought the true fannish spirit meant promotion of science. President of ISA (Int’l Scientific Ass’n) which sought to include amateur scientists, maybe the first fan club, unless disqualified in retrospect for insufficient frivolity – or insufficient leftism, which the Futurians were charged with excess of. Charter member of FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n). (Died 1994) [JH]
Born August 16, 1930 – Paul Lehr. Three hundred covers, fifty interiors. Here is his beginning, Satellite E One. Here is his famous Nineteen Eighty-four (no mustache on Big Brother!). Here is Spectrum 4. Here is The Ringworld Engineers. Here is the Mar 81 Analog. Here is the Aug 96 Tomorrow. What a giant. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born August 16, 1930 — Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in the Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he makes one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties in which he was King Vog in one episode? (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1931 – Walt Lee. Monumental if only for his 20,000-entry Reference Guide to Fantastic Films (with Bill Warren) – which, allowing for differences in scale, is like saying Cheops (or Khnum Khufu if you prefer) is monumental if only for the Great Pyramid of Giza. OGH’s appreciation here. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born August 16, 1933 — Julie Newmar, 87. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face. She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eileen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!, Twilight Zone, Fantasy Island, Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad. (CE)
Born August 16, 1934 — Andrew J. Offutt. I know him through his work in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. And I’m not Robert E. Howard fan so I’ve not read any of his Cormac mac Art or Conan novels but his short fiction is superb. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1934 — Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland with a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Now what’s the name of the exemplary short story collection she did late in life? Ahhh it was Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories with the great cover by artist Dan Craig. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1952 – Edie Stern, F.N., 68. “Andre Norton’s Diamond Celebration” (with husband Joe Siclari) in Fantasy Review. “Fancy Jack” (Jack Speer; with Siclari) in Noreascon 4 Souvenir Book, hello Guy Lillian III (62nd Worldcon). Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award). Introduction (with Siclari) to Virgil Finlay Centennial book for 2014 World Fantasy Convention. “LeeH” (Lee Hoffman, or for some of us, Hoffwoman), Journey Planet 27. “Wheels of IF” (Irish fandom; with Siclari) for 77th Worldcon Souvenir Book. Noted SF art collector (with Siclari), very helpful with SF con Art Shows. Fan Guest of Honor, Loscon 46. Big Heart (our highest service award; with Siclari). Since 2016, Webmaster of the FANAC Fanhistory Project (fanac = fan activity; Florida Ass’n for Nucleation And Conventions was originally formed for MagiCon the 50th Worldcon, Orlando). [JH]
Born August 16, 1958 — Rachael Talalay, 62. She made her directorial debut with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and she also worked on the first four of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Moving from horror to SF, she directed Tank Girl next. A long time Who fan, she directed all three of Twelfth Doctor’s series finales: series 8’s “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”, along with series 9’s “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent” before directing series 10’s “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls”. She capped who Who work with “Twice Upon a Time”, the last Twelfth Doctor story. (CE)
Born August 16, 1967 – Betsy Dornbusch, 53. Five novels, fifteen shorter stories. Co-editor Electric Spec 2006-2015. Essays & interviews there. Likes writing, reading, snowboarding, punk rock, the Denver Broncos, and how are you, Mr. Wilson? [JH]
Born August 16, 1969 – Michael Buckley, 51. A score of novels, some about the Nat’l Espionage, Rescue, & Defense Society (which spells – ), NY Times Best Sellers; some about the Sisters Grimm (yes). Robotomy for the Cartoon Network. Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox just released (April). Used to be in a punk rock band called Danger, Will Robinson. [JH]
Beck in the interview discusses many aspects of his career, including his providing the commentary for DVDs of Fritz Freleng cartoons to running a popular panel at Comic-Con called “Worst Cartoons Ever” so that fans can howl at a smorgasbord of stinkers. Beck also has written several histories of animation. But he was also one of the first Americans to understand the importance of anime. He recalled that when Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was released in the mid-1980s, Roger Corman controlled the rights and released it in a heavily-cut, badly dubbed version. Beck realized Miyazaki’s importance and was the first to distribute Miyazaki’s films uncut to theaters.
As part of his anime distribution, Beck talked to the producers of Akira, who explained that they were shutting down their studio and offered Beck the contents. Eight months later, Beck got a call from the Port of Los Angeles (“and I’ve never gotten a call from a port before”) with eight giant containers of cels and other stuff, which Beck sold to the delight of serious collectors.
Also in the podcast, Maltin revealed that he learned Roman numerals from Popeye cartoons, which taught him that MCMXXXVI meant “1936”.
(14) BRING ME THE HEAD OF ADMIRAL ACKBAR. Coming right up! The Nerdist says it will be one of the lots available for bid in a Star Wars prop auction happening August 26-27.
For sci-fi movie prop collectors, items from the Star Wars saga are the Holy Grail. Now, fans who have wanted to get their hands on authentic items from a galaxy far, far away are in for a treat. Several props and costumes from the saga are going up for auction by The Prop Store of Los Angeles and London. Some very coveted pieces are among the items, including a full Darth Vader costume from 1977.
Brian Blessed has claimed that the Queen revealed to him that her favourite film is Flash Gordon, the 1980 sci-fi in which he stars as Prince Vultan.
Speaking about the film’s 40th anniversary to Edith Bowman on Yahoo Movies, the actor said that whenever he goes, people demand he recite his character’s catchphrase.
“Everywhere I go, they all want me to say ‘Gordon’s alive!’,” said Blessed. “The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, horses and queens, and prime ministers, they all want me to say ‘Gordon’s alive!’, it’s their favourite film.”
He continued: “The Queen, it’s her favourite film, she watches it with her grandchildren every Christmas.”
The actor then assumed the Queen’s accent, quoting her as saying: “You know, we watch Flash Gordon all the time, me and the grandchildren. And if you don’t mind, I’ve got the grandchildren here, would you mind saying ‘Gordon’s alive’?”
From this fourth season episode of The Next Generation comes one of Worf’s most famous quotes. Transported to Sherwood Forest by Q and adorned in the costume of Will Scarlett, one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Worf exclaims, “I am not a merry man.”
“Qpid” has one of the series lightest touches, to the point it feels like an old Errol Flynn film. While Picard plays Robin Hood, the rest of his Merry Men try to get used to their temporary roles. One of the funniest parts is during the fight between Robin’s friends and Nottingham’s guards. Both Doctor Crusher and Counselor Troi knock two of the bad guys out by bashing large vases over their heads.
When screenwriter Mattson Tomlin sat down to write Project Power in 2016, he knew that he wanted to create a superhero universe that put Black heroes front and center. The film that arrives on Netflix on Aug. 14 stays true to that vision, with Jamie Foxx and Dominique Fishback portraying the dynamic duo of Art and Robin, who take on a top-secret government agency that’s dispensing ability-enhancing pills on the streets of New Orleans. But there’s also a third superhero in the mix: a white police officer named Frank (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is the kind of “plays by his own rules” cop that’s been a popular Hollywood protagonist for decades.
As the film begins, Frank’s personal rules include popping those contraband pills to get a super-powered boost for daring busts. But after Art and Robin awaken him to the sordid story behind those drugs — a story that includes the exploitation of Black research subjects — he opts to join their cause. “Ultimately, the character goes through the movie trying to do the right thing,” Tomlin says. “Sometimes he goes about it in a messy way, but that’s where his heart is.”
A UK boat has just provided an impressive demonstration of the future of robotic maritime operations.
The 12m Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) Maxlimer has completed a 22-day-long mission to map an area of seafloor in the Atlantic.
SEA-KIT International, which developed the craft, “skippered” the entire outing via satellite from its base in Tollesbury in eastern England.
The mission was part-funded by the European Space Agency.
Robot boats promise a dramatic change in the way we work at sea.
Already, many of the big survey companies that run traditional crewed vessels have started to invest heavily in the new, remotely operated technologies. Freight companies are also acknowledging the cost advantages that will come from running robot ships.
But “over-the-horizon” control has to show it’s practical and safe if it’s to gain wide acceptance. Hence, the demonstration from Maxlimer.
…One obvious culprit is lunar dust that has built up on the retroreflectors. Dust can be kicked up by meteorites striking the moon’s surface. It coated the astronauts’ moon suits during their visits, and it is expected to be a significant problem if humans ever colonize the moon.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter “provides a pristine target,” said Erwan Mazarico, a planetary scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center who, along with his colleagues, tested the hypothesis that lunar dust might be affecting the moon’s retroreflectors.
On Wednesday, senior Trump adviser Jenna Ellis compared Democratic vice presidential contender Kamala Harris to Marge Simpson, who’s voiced by actress Julie Kavner.
“Kamala sounds like Marge Simpson,” [Ellis] tweeted.
Marge responded on “The Simpsons” Twitter account with a 27-second clip in which she says the matter makes her uncomfortable.
“I usually don’t get into politics,” Marge said Friday, adding that her show-daughter Lisa informed her the comparison wasn’t meant as a compliment to either woman.
“As an ordinary suburban housewife I’m starting to feel a little disrespected,” the cartoon mom said. “I teach my children not to name-call, Jenna.”
? [Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cora Buhlert, Cheryl Morgan, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Nicholas Whyte, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]
Additional writers, interns and staffers have opened up about
their experiences with ChiZine
Publications, the Canadian horror publisher run by Sandra Kasturi and Brett
Savory. At the same time, there has been some pushback from people in
the field, of whom Stephen Jones (editor) may be the best known.
Earlier summaries of CZP news can be found in these posts:
ChiZine WERE one of the Ontario Arts Council Recommender Grants for Writers recommending publishers. They’re off the site.
Which means the OAC PULLED them after the news of what they’ve been doing broke
Beverly Bambury shared more about CZP’s “culture of intimidation and silence.” Thread starts here.
Former CZP intern Feli Law spoke in a Facebook
post about low pay and no pay, and the unexpected responsibilities dumped on
them, concluding —
…When I finally left CZP, I quit publishing because I was so bitter over what happened and how toxic it all was. I hated the snobbery of publishers and writers, and it ruined my perception of the publishing world.
My story isn’t even the worst one, but it’s my story.
Jeff VanderMeer found that his assistance in negotiating a ChiZine
writer’s contract went for nought, as he
detailed on Facebook:
I just learned today about another horror story. I acted as the agent to an agentless writer for their first book, from ChiZine. It was a breathtakingly predatory contract. I deleted all of that language and replaced it with reasonable terms. What happened next I didn’t know in its entirety until today, but basically Brett and Sandra waited until this author was in the room with them and them browbeat, cajoled, and pressured the author to sign the original contract. I don’t blame the author, who thought it was their own big break and had no experience. But I do blame ChiZine for being predatory.
As I’ve said elsewhere, my initial instinct when the first stories about ChiZine Publications began to come out was to reserve judgement until I’d heard what all parties had had to say and seen the evidence. I knew people who were close to ChiZine who couldn’t believe that what had been described had happened. I don’t believe in trial-by-mob.
But more and more stories came out, from more and more people. Appalling stories, and often appallingly consistent in the conduct they alleged. Consistent and convincing, not only to me but to those same people who were closer to ChiZine than I.
I’m getting in touch with my agent re reverting the rights to And Cannot Come Again, but this might not be a practicable move at my end as I’ll have to return the advance – which, given my current financial position, is something I can’t really do right now.
In the meantime – and it utterly chokes me to say this of a collection I am so proud of and that has been so beautifully put together – I can only ask people NOT to purchase And Cannot Come Again from ChiZine.
Despite the number and gravity of the experiences people have
shared, there has been some backlash and scoffing in social media. Perhaps the
most widely-known figure warning off ChiZine critics has been Stephen Jones
Readings from Amazing Stories, originally scheduled to take place at The Round Venue in Toronto on November 20th in conjunction with The Chiaroscuro Reading Series has been relocated to the Bakka Phoenix bookstore, also in Toronto.
Earlier this week a decision was made to host the event independently from its association with the ChiZine Reading series – Chiaroscuro – given the issues currently involving the small press publisher. In all sincerity we hope that ChiZine Publications and its authors are able to work through their difficulties and find solutions aceptable to all involved.
… The event, hosted by Ira Nayman, Editor-in-Chief of Amazing Stories, will commence at 5 pm on Wednesday, November 20th, and will feature readings from Jen Frankel, Paul Levinson, Shirley Meier, Lena Ng and Liz Westbrook-Trenholm (all of whom have had stories published in Amazing Stories over the past year), as well as musical performances by Kari Maaren and Paul Levinson.
With the Amazing reading now being hosted independently, a GoFundMe appeal has been launched to raise $700 so Bakka can meet the commitments for the event: “Amazing Stories – Amazing Writers”.
The creators and writers behind AMAZING STORIES have suddenly had to change venues for their thrilling reading night on Wednesday, November 20th! While Bakka-Phoenix Books is proud to jump in and supply a space and equipment and snacks, we don’t have the budget to pay the authors and musician appearing so we’re asking our AS fans and wider community if you can pitch in. Writers who create, well, amazing stories deserve to be paid!
Imagine somebody wrote a novel about the cat and the fiddle, and the cow that jumped over the moon. In fact, imagine somebody wrote a trilogy of novels, starring the luna leaping cow. Then imagine that Netflix turned the first novel into a 10 hour premium tv series, with Joel Kinnman?—?swiftly becoming this generation’s Christopher Lambert?—?as the cow.
If you’re really into the cat, fiddle and cow genre, if you’re MEGA excited by animals leaping over celestial bodies, you’ll be happy.
For everybody else, the experience of watching Altered Carbon is going to be about as enjoyable as 10 hours of kids nonsense poetry. You might have some patience for the first hour, but by episode 3 the audience will be desperate to jump ship.
According to The Illustrated Book Of Science Fiction Lists (edited by Mike Ashley for Virgin Books in 1982) E.C. (Ted) Tubb has 45 pseudonyms credited to him, Robert Silverberg is well behind with 25, Henry Kuttner further back yet with 18, while Cyril Korthbluth trails with a mere 13.
I suspect that in this, the future world of today, the question the above information raises is not why so many pseudonyms but why any at all? I know that when I were a lad it was a given that authors used pseudonyms all the time while we, their audience, didn’t but nowadays it seems to be very much the opposite. So yes, I can understand why the above numbers might seem inexplicable to many of you.
So why were authors fond of pseudonyms once upon a time? Luckily for us editor, author, and co-founder of The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Anthony Boucher, decided to offer some explanation in Rhodomagnetic Digest #2, published by George Blumenson in August 1949 for The Elves’, Gnomes’ & Little Men’s Science-Fiction Chowder & Marching Society. Boucher was certainly qualified to write on this topic since his real name was William Anthony Parker White….
(3) KICKSTARTER. Hampus Eckerman says “I’ve always regretted I was out of cash when the Swedish edition was made. I’ll back this one for sure.” — “The Keyring RPG”.
The Keyring RPG is a combination of the idea of creating a procedural role-playing game and the discovery of a really cute notepad. Mashing those ideas together gave rise to the Keyring RPG.
From the FAQ —
What is the resolution mechanic in the game?
You have three basic abilities, strength, charisma and mental strength. Each of those abilities have a number of dots. Each dot represent a die. To determine if you succeed, you roll as many die as you have against a set difficulty, and you add the skills to the result of the die roll to improve your results.
I have 2 dots in strength, and I need to climb a wall. The wall has a difficulty of 3. Both of my rolls fail, a one and a two, but I have two dots in the skill problem solving. I add my dots in problem solving to the roll and succeed. From a narrative perspective, I use problem solving to create a sling harness and have my friends haul me up the wall.
Key features (no pun intended):
The Basic Game is very small, only 7 x 3 x 2 centimeters. You can carry it on your keyring.
It features a procedural adventure building system
A full rules set that allows for a lot of flexibility when playing
Five sets of generic maps
They’ve raised $3,795 of their $7,590 goal with 13 days to go.
As Benny walks home in the dark, a Twilight Zone-like fog envelops him and the music takes off on a Twilight Zone-like theme. Before long he runs into a sign reading, “Welcome to Twilight Zone. Population unlimited. [an arrow left] Subconscious 27 Mi./ [an arrow right] Reality 35 Mi.” (It gets a laugh, if only canned.) Benny finally sees his house across the street and goes and rings the bell. Rochester answers but doesn’t recognize Benny. Rochester calls on his employer, “Mr. Zone” (Serling) to deal with the situation, and Serling explains that the town is named after him (“You can call me Twi”), and he is the mayor.
(5) CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Into The Impossible, a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, has posted Episode 14, “Alien Contact”:
We’re digging in the vaults to explore ideas of alien contact, with Jill Tarter (SETI Institute) and Jeff VanderMeer (bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy). We’ll talk about the Drake Equation, the faulty math of the film Contact, manifest destiny, whether we’re alone, flawed assumptions about the concept of intelligence, what fiction can do to help us think about the very alien-ness of alien contact, and how it may be happening all around us.
Since the early 1960s he has lived in London, as well as spending time in Greece and Spain. A regular contributor to the legendary Pan Book of Horror Stories during the early 1970s, his stories “Fengriffin” and “The Hunter” were filmed as, respectively, —And Now The Screaming Starts! (1973) and Scream of the Wolf (1974), and Arkham House published his novel The Third Grave in 1981 (soon to be reprinted by Valancourt Books). The author of an estimated 300 books or more under various pseudonyms, his powerful zombie novella “Pelican Cay” was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2001, and David was Guest of Honour at the 2010 World Horror Convention held in Brighton, England. He was always a bigger-than-life character, and I’ll miss him.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
February 4, 1938 — Disney releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
February 4, 1950 — The Flying Saucer opened theatrically.
February 4, 1951 — Two Lost Worlds premiered.
February 4, 1995 — Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys appeared in theaters.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Born February 4, 1914 – George Reeves, 1950s TV’s Superman.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Mike Kennedy says Brewster Rockit is always genre, and this one doubly so.
But on an ongoing basis, now that I have a New York literary agent, I do my best to provide her with as much information as possible about how to best handle a Canadian client. I’m aware that what is normal for me might not be normal for her, so I send her videos and articles.
Yoon Ha Lee, “Extracurricular Activities” (Tor.com, 2/17) – a quite funny, and quite clever, story concerning the earlier life of a very significant character in Lee’s first novel, Ninefox Gambit. Shuos Jedao is an undercover operative for the Heptarchate, assigned to infiltrate a space station controlled by another polity, and to rescue the crew of a merchanter ship that had really been heptarchate spies, including an old classmate….
Welcome back to A Political History of the Future, an irregular series about how contemporary SF and fantasy address current political issues, and how they imagine worlds different than our own in their political, social, and economic functioning. Our first subject, published last fall, is the first novel by io9 co-founder Annalee Newitz, a technothriller about a world in which the ready availability of non-human labor fundamentally changes the meaning of freedom.
The title of Autonomous is a pun, and a thesis statement. “Autonomous”, in our understanding and in the current common usage, refers to machines that can function without human interference–autonomous cars, most commonly. Despite its connotations of freedom, it’s a designation that denotes inhumanity. It isn’t necessary, after all, to specify that a human being is autonomous. In the world of Autonomous, this is no longer the case. Its citizens–human and machine–are distinguished as either autonomous or indentured. So a word that connotes freedom becomes a reminder of how it can cease to be taken for granted, and a usage that connotes inhumanity is transformed in a world in which personhood is a legal state and not a biological one. In both cases, it’s a reminder that the hard-won ideas of liberty and human rights that we take for granted are not set in stone; that core assumptions about how society could and should function can change, in many cases for the worse.
I thought it was fair. I thought I owed the boys some. And Arram is so popular, and gets into so much trouble, that I knew I could do it. Which was an act of hubris on my part that still leaves me breathless. See, I’m kind of notorious for one thing in particular as a writer — I’m pretty straightforward about teenagers and sex. I’ve lost count of the mothers and father’s who’ve come up to me and said, “Thank you for explaining it to them.” The thing was, in my first book, I had a girl disguised as a boy. And when you’re a girl disguised as a boy, going through puberty, the changes in your body become a major part of the plot. So I just stuck with it as I went on. And when I was working on this book, I got to a point and I went, “Oh my god, I can skip it, but that wouldn’t be right.” So I went to my writing partner, Bruce Coville, and first he laughed himself silly at me, but all those embarrassing little questions, he answered them for me. But it was important, it had to be done. I had to be as fair to the guys as I was to the girls. Which is one reason why I’m going back to girls after this is over.
…Ursula was not just a great author to me, she was one of several of my book parents. Growing up as I did with a family who was more interested in drinking and violence, I never got guidance in how to live. Through her books, Ursula taught me that you could deal with a problem by thinking rather than fighting. She taught me that gender differences don’t make one gender superior to the other. And she also helped me understand that we all have shadow parts of ourselves that we fear, but the way to cope with the shadow is to accept it with courage….
A fascinating story of growing up as a gay fan of comic books in the 1960s, building a fifty-year career as an award-winning writer, and interacting with acclaimed comic book legends.
Award-winning writer Bill Schelly relates how comics and fandom saved his life in this engrossing story that begins in the burgeoning comic fandom movement of the 1960s and follows the twists and turns of a career that spanned fifty years. Schelly recounts his struggle to come out at a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness, how the egalitarian nature of fandom offered a safe haven for those who were different, and how his need for creative expression eventually overcame all obstacles. He describes living through the AIDS epidemic, finding the love of his life, and his unorthodox route to becoming a father. He also details his personal encounters with major talents of 1960s comics, such as Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man), Jim Shooter (writer for DC and later editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics), and Julius Schwartz (legendary architect of the Silver Age of comics).
… Note from the author: This is NOT the same book that was published in 2001 under the title Sense of Wonder, A Life in Comic Fandom(which is out of print). This new book contains two parts: the text of the first book, and a sequel of equal length. Part one covers my life up to 1974; part two picks up the story and continues it to 2017.
Before The Last Jedi hit theaters, there were rumors circulating that Finn and Poe would have a relationship in the movie, marking the first openly gay characters in Star Wars. That rumor was obviously proven to be false, but The Last Jedi did feature a brief gay relationship between two other characters that many Star Wars fans did not notice right away and now everybody is freaking out. Rian Johnson has not confirmed the scene yet, but he will more than likely address it since he has talked about nearly every decision he made while making The Last Jedi.
An eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted two Porgs snuggling with each other in the background of a scene on Ahch-To and noticed that both of the creatures were male. Officially, male Porgs are slightly larger and have orange feathers around their eyes, which both of the Porgs in question have. The image of the two gay Porgs has since taken the internet by storm and people are freaking out that they didn’t notice the small detail right away.
only male porgs have orange plumage around their eyes, and both snuggling porgs have those markings. gay porgs, folks. tlj is a gift that keeps on giving pic.twitter.com/yxDO6HJ3iD
(18) PORTMAN ON SNL. Natalie Portman answers Star Wars questions in her Saturday Night Live monologue….
And her Stranger Things 3 preview is hysterical.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Will R., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Steve Vertlieb for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jenora Feuer.]
[Stephen] Jones pointed to the origins of the WFA Awards and their parent convention, the World Fantasy Convention, during the horror boom of the mid-1970s. The first WFC, held in Providence, RI in 1975, had as its theme “The Lovecraft Circle,” and that Lovecraftian association has persisted ever since, despite the name on the billboard. Jones attributed the perceived bias towards horror at fantasy and other conventions to the view that “the horror guys the people who go to all the fun conventions.” [Ellen] Datlow, conversely, reported that “from the horror people’s point of view, in the past ten years, they always feel there’s a bias towards fantasy.” Her analysis of actual awards and nominations showed no bias either way, and she saw this as “all perception,” depending on which end of the imaginative literature spectrum it’s seen from. [John] Clute described the situation as “pretty deeply confusing altogether,” given that the WFC externally was intended as a fantasy convention, and the final result has become “terminologically inexact,” though Jones pointed out that “the community itself has changed and mutated, as has the genre.”
According to Valenti, a serialized fiction podcast is an inexpensive way for aspiring filmmakers to gain recognition in the industry. “The reason you’re seeing all these shows crop up is because it’s so much less expensive to experiment and prove yourself as a storyteller in this medium, more than any other,” he said. It used to be that Hollywood directors got their foot in the door with short, independent films, but even those kinds of projects require significant resources. “With podcasts, you don’t have to spend any money on locations,” he explained. “You don’t have to spend any money on cameras, hardware, or hiring a cinematographer. And even if you have the footage, and you had a decent camera, which you probably had to rent because they cost thousands of dollars a day, you’re getting someone to color grade everything after it’s over.” Podcasts rarely require anything more than decent mics, actors, and audio mixing technology. And speaking of actors, your average voiceover performer costs much less to hire than a SAG member.
(5) INKY AWARDS. The shortlists for the 2017 Inky Awards were announced August 15 – the Gold Inky for Australia titles, and the Silver Inky for international titles. The award recognises achievement in young adult literature, with nominees and winners selected by voters under the age of 20. Some of these titles are of genre interest. Voting is currently open for the winners. [H/T Earl Grey Editing Services.]
(6) MORE WORLDCON WRITEUPS. The conreports keep on coming.
The Campbell was the second-to-last award, and sure, I was disappointed not to win, but not horribly. On a scale of one to ten, it was about a three at the time and now is zero. I’m very happy for Ada. She deserves every success.
However, I did feel foolish for thinking I could win, which was painful but mostly dispersed by morning. Being a finalist is wonderful. Winning would have been amazing, but it does come with a certain amount of pressure. So maybe — just maybe — being a finalist is the best of both worlds. And that lovely pin in the first picture is mine forever.
My second panel of the con was at noon on the Saturday, Mighty space fleets of war. When I’d registered at the con, I’d discovered I was moderating the panel, which I hadn’t known. I checked back over the emails I’d been sent by the con’s programming team. Oops. I was the moderator. The other two panellists were Jack Campbell and Chris Gerrib. As we took our seats on the stage, Mary Robinette Kowal was gathering her stuff from the previous panel. I jokingly asked if she wanted to join our panel. And then asked if she’d moderate it. She said she was happy to moderate if we wanted her to, but we decided to muddle through ourselves. The panel went quite well, I thought. We got a bit of disagreement going – well, me versus the other two, both of whom admitted to having been USN in the past. I got a wave of applause for a crack about Brexit, and we managed to stay on topic – realistic space combat – for the entire time. I’d prepared a bunch of notes, but by fifteen minutes in, I’d used up all my points. In future, I’ll take in paper and pencil so I can jot stuff down as other members of the panel speak.
This was the first WorldCon I’ve attended and while I had voted in previous Hugo Awards, and attended other Cons (for instance NYCC) I was kind of taken aback by how non-commercial WorldCon is. A case is point is that there are no publishers hawking books at WorldCon, which, on the one hand is great because you don’t get tempted to buy a bunch of stuff and spend a fortune shipping it home and on the other hand is bad because if you’ve travelled a long way with a carry-on only bag, you’re probably packing clothes, not books for your favorite author to sign. Some authors take it all in stride, bringing their own small promotional items they can sign (Fran Wilde, Carrie Vaughn) or will happily sign anything that you set in front of them (Max Gladstone kindly signed a WorldCon postcard for my friend and fellow blogger Alex, who couldn’t come to WorldCon because of Fiscal Realities of New Home vs. Sincere Desire. So other than some interesting panels (climate change in science fiction and fantasy, readings by Amal El-Mohtar and Annalee Newitz, while I can say that pigeonholing fantasy genres is not for me!) the author signings and beloved kaffeeklatsches, the latter limited to ten people, are the definitely the most exciting thing about WorldCon.
Tomi Huttunen introduced the concept of Estrangement, which derives from Russian art theorist Viktor Shklovsky who discussed the topic (Ostrananie) in an article in 1917. Huttunen and others on the academic track offered varying definitions of the concept, noting that different people in the past had come at this in a different way. For all that he was someone primarily associated with the avant-garde, Shklovsky’s own definition appeared to imply that all art involved a process of estrangement because of the difference between an actual thing and its artistic representation. Brecht later attempted his own definition, which appeared to be more about uncanny valley or the German concept of the unheimlich, which I found interesting as for all his ground-breaking approach to theatre Brecht had not particularly involved himself in work that strayed into non-realistic territory.
On Thursday I did not quite get up in time to make it from where I was staying to the convention centre in time for the presentation on Tove Jansson’s illustrations for The Hobbit (which apparently appear only in Scandinavian editions of the book for Tolkien-estate reasons). I did make it to a panel on Bland Protagonists. One of the panelists was Robert Silverberg, a star of Worldcon and a living link to the heroic age of Science Fiction. He is a great raconteur and such an entertaining panelist that I wonder whether people do not want to appear on panels with him for fear of being overshadowed.
After the Tanith Lee discussion there were a lot of potentially interesting things happening but we felt that we had to go to a session on the Moomins (entitled Moomins!). As you know, these are character that appeared in books written and illustrated by Tove Jansson of Finland. They started life in books and then progressed to comics and subsequently to a succession of animated TV series. If you’ve never heard of them, the Moomins are vaguely hippopotamus shaped creatures that live in a house in Moominvalley and have a variety of strange friends and adopted family members. Moomin stories are pretty cute but also deal with subjects a bit darker and more existential than is normally expected in children’s books.
The Seattle-based cybersecurity firm found major security flaws in industrial models sold by Universal Robots, a division of U.S. technology company Teradyne Inc. It also cited issues with consumer robots Pepper and NAO, which are manufactured by Japan’s Softbank Group Corp., and the Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 made by China-based UBTech Robotics.
These vulnerabilities could allow the robots to be turned into surveillance devices, surreptitiously spying on their owners, or let them to be hijacked and used to physically harm people or damage property, the researchers wrote in a report released Tuesday.
(8) TODAY’S DAY
Pluto Demoted Day
Many of us are fascinated by outer space and its many mysteries. Our own solar system went through a change in classification on 2006, when Pluto was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet. Pluto Demoted Day now takes place every year to mark that very occasion. While sad for fans of the former ninth planet of the solar system, Pluto Demoted Day is an important day for our scientific history and is important to remember.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
August 24, 1966 — Fantastic Voyage premiered theatrically on this day.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Born August 24, 1951 – Orson Scott Card
(11) COMIC SECTION. Finnish comic Fingerpori has a joke about the George R.R. Martin signing at W75. Tehri says it translates something like this (with the third frame being a sight gag):
First panel: (The guy’s name is Heimo Vesa) “What’s going on?”
Nowadays, you can make the bestseller list with about 5,000 sales. That’s not the heights of publishing’s heyday but it’s still harder to get than you’d think. Some publishers spend thousands of dollars on advertising and blogger outreach to get that number. Everyone’s looking for the next big thing and that costs a lot of cash. For the past 25 weeks, that big book in the YA world has been The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a searing politically charged drama about a young black girl who sees a police officer kill her friend, and the fallout it causes in her community. Through publisher buzz and exceedingly strong word of mouth, the novel has stormed to the forefront of the YA world and found thousands of fans, with a film on the way. Knocking that from the top of the NYT YA list would be a major deal, and this week it’s going to happen. But something’s not right.
Handbook For Mortals by Lani Sarem is the debut novel from the publishing arm of website GeekNation. The site announced this news only last week, through a press release that can be read on places like The Hollywood Reporter, not a site known for extensive YA coverage. Sarem has an IMDb page with some very minor acting roles, several of which are uncredited, but details on the book are scanter to find. Googling it leads to several other books with the same title, but most of the coverage for it is press release based. There’s little real excitement or details on it coming from the YA blogging world, which is a mighty community who are not quiet about the things they’re passionate about (believe me, first hand experience here).
YA writer and publisher Phil Stamper raised the alarm bells on this novel’s sudden success through a series of tweets, noting GeekNation’s own low traffic, the inability to even buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and its out-of-nowhere relevance…
(13) AMAZONIAN BOGOSITY. While reporters are dissecting the bestseller list, Camestros Felapton turns his attention to Amazon and the subject of “Spotting Fakery?”
One thing new to me from those articles was this site: http://fakespot.com/about It claims to be a site that will analyse reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp and then rate the reviews in terms of how “fake” they seem to be. The mechanism looks at reviewers and review content and looks for relations with other reviews, and also rates reviewers who only ever give positive reviews lower. Now, I don’t know if their methods are sound or reliable, so take the rest of this with a pinch of salt for the time being.
(14) WORLD DOESN’T END, FILM AT ELEVEN. Kristine Kathryn Rusch got a column out of the eclipse – “Eclipse Expectations”.
The idea for the post? Much of what occurred around the eclipse in my small town happens in publishing all the time. Let me lay out my thinking.
First, what happened in Lincoln City this weekend:
Damn near nothing. Yeah, I was surprised. Yeah, we all were surprised.
Because for the past 18 months, all we heard about the eclipse was what a mini-disaster it would be for our small town. We expected 100,000 visitors minimum. Hotel rooms were booked more than a year in advance—all of them. Which, the planners told us, meant that we would have at least that many people camping roadside as well.
The airlines had to add extra flights into Portland (the nearest major airport). One million additional people were flooding into Oregon for the five days around the eclipse. Rental cars were booked months in advance. (One woman found an available car for Thursday only and the rental car company had slapped a one-day rate on the car of $850. Yeah, no.)
The state, local, and regional governments were planning for disaster. We were warned that electricity might go down, especially if the temperature in the valley (away from us, but near the big power grids) soared over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius). Our internet connection would probably go down, they said. (Great, we said. Our business is on the internet. Phooey!) Our cell phones would definitely go down.
The state called out the National Guard, expecting all the trouble you get when you cram too many people in a small space. The hospitals staffed up. We were told that traffic would be in gridlock for four days, so plan travel accordingly. Dean and I own three retail stores in the area, so we spent weeks discussing scheduling—who could walk to work, who couldn’t, who might stay overnight if need be. Right now, as I write this, Dean is working our new bookstore, because the bookstore employees live 6 miles away, and couldn’t walk if there was gridlock. The schedule was set in stone; no gridlock, but Dean was scheduled, not the usual employee, so Dean is guarding the fort (so to speak).
The successful Dublin bid was led by James Bacon, with support and guidance from the bid committee, Fáilte Ireland, Dublin Convention Bureau (DCB) and The CCD. Dublin was confirmed as the 2019 location by site selection voters at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki where 1,227 votes were received, of which Dublin won 1,160 votes.
“It’s fantastic that we had such a large turnout, indicating strong support for the bid,” said James Bacon, Dublin 2019 chair. “Voting is a vital part of the process so twelve hundred votes is a great endorsement and I’m very pleased it’s a new record for an uncontested bid. Given New Orleans and Nice have declared for 2023 and Perth and Seattle for 2025, that we remained unopposed is indicative of the enthusiasm, strategic determination and commitment from all involved with the bid. It’s absolutely magnificent to be able to say we are bringing the Worldcon to Ireland and we cannot wait now for 2019.”
Entries like these popped up as Keller Rinaudo browsed a database of health emergencies during a 2014 visit to Tanzania. It was “a lightbulb moment,” says the CEO and co-founder of the California drone startup Zipline.
Rinaudo was visiting a scientist at Ifakara Health Institute who had created the database to track nationwide medical emergencies. Using cellphones, health workers would send a text message whenever a patient needed blood or other critical supplies. Trouble is, while the system collected real-time information about dying patients, the east African country’s rough terrain and poor supply chain often kept them from getting timely help. “We were essentially looking at a database of death,” Rinaudo says.
That Tanzania trip motivated his company to spend the next three years building what they envisioned as “the other half of that system — where you know a patient is having a medical emergency and can immediately send the product needed to save that person’s life,” Rinaudo says.
The Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France holds the record for the longest undersea tunnel in the world – 50km (31 miles) long. More than 20 years after its opening, it carries more than 10 million passengers a year – and more than 1.6 million lorries – via its rail-based shuttle service.
What many people don’t know, however, is that when owner Eurotunnel won the contract to build its undersea connection, the firm was obliged to come up with plans for a second Channel Tunnel… by the year 2000. Although those plans were published the same year, the tunnel still has not gone ahead.
The second ‘Chunnel’ isn’t the only underwater tunnel to remain a possibility. For centuries, there have been discussions about other potential tunnelling projects around the British Isles, too. These include a link between the island of Orkney and the Scottish mainland, a tunnel between the Republic of Ireland and Wales and one between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
[Thanks to JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, lauowolf, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Robot Archie for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]
Flotsam Fantastique: The Souvenir Book of World Fantasy Convention 2013 edited by Stephen Jones was selected for the 2014 World Fantasy Award shortlist in the Anthology category – a classification Jones and the book’s co-creators object to so strongly they have withdrawn the title from consideration.
Despite our submission to the members of the World Fantasy Awards Board that Flotsam Fantastique: The Souvenir Book of World Fantasy Convention 2013 is not, in fact, an anthology, nor even a professional publication, they have chosen to reject our entreaty to move the title from “Anthology” into the “Special Award—Non-Professional” category, where nominations for the previous two souvenir books we produced were placed.
Amanda Foubister, Stephen Jones, and Michael Marshal Smith also say they have been unsuccessful in getting all three of their names properly credited on the nomination.
Therefore they have issued a press release taking their work out of contention for the award.
Given the Board’s intransigent attitude over both these concerns, we are unfortunately left with no choice but to withdraw the title from consideration. As much as we regret this action—we are inordinately proud of the book and all the work that went into it—we feel that there is no other course of action left open to us, given the Board’s refusal to modify its decisions in either of these matters.
Stephen Jones and R. L. Stine will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Horror Writers Association on May 10th as part of the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet at the World Horror Convention 2014 in Portland, Oregon.
Stephen Jones’ 125+ published books have been translated throughout the world. His work in the horror field has been widely recognized — he was guest of honor at the 2002 World Fantasy Con and the 2004 World Horror Con.
R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series has sold over 300 million copies in the U.S. and been published in 32 languages. His other popular children’s book series include Fear Street, Mostly Ghostly, The Nightmare Room, and Rotten School. His anthology TV horror series, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, recently won an Emmy Award as Best Children’s Show.
HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given “in acknowledgment of superior achievement not just in a single work but over an entire career.”
Winners must have exhibited a profound, positive impact on the fields of horror and dark fantasy, and be at least sixty years of age or have been published for a minimum of thirty-five years.
Past Lifetime Achievement Award winners include Stephen King, Anne Rice, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Ramsey Campbell and Peter Straub. Recipients are chosen by a committee.
Copper’s most popular macabre tales include: “The Academy of Pain”, “Amber Print”, “The Recompensing of Albano Pizar,” “The Candle in the Skull,” “Better Dead,” “Beyond the Reef,” “Bright Blades Gleaming” and “Ill Met by Daylight.”
Stephen Jones’s biography of the author, Basil Copper: A Life in Books, won the 2009 British Fantasy Award.
Mainstream news websites usually do this kind of retrospective at the end of each year. Few fan newswriters do, but seeing Michael Hinman at Airlock Alpha have so much fun with his edition I decided to give it a whirl. It’s not a ha-ha kind of fun, for some items are rather sad, it’s the challenge and exercise of fannish creativity that makes such projects fun.
So I now present File 770‘s choice of the 10 most significant sf & f newsmakers of 2011:
Ten Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury seeing Rachel Bloom’s video for the first time.
Rachel Bloom’s “F*** Me, Ray Bradbury” music video received a Hugo nomination but lost to a Doctor Who episode. John King Tarpinian complained so vehemently (in private e-mails) that I ran a case study of the runoff vote for him. There was little suspense involved — as Who episodes were eliminated their votes were redistributed to the remaining Who episodes until one prevailed. (V*** for Me, Ray Bradbury!, Inside the 2011 Hugo Voting Statistics, Rachel Bloom at Renovation).
Bradbury made a more orthodox impact on the internet when, for the first time, his novel Fahrenheit 451 could be purchased in electronic format (Harder To Burn This Way).
Mike Glicksohn accepts Susan Wood’s Hugo, which she won posthumously in 1981. Photo by Andrew Porter.
The loss of Mike Glicksohn, a pillar of his generation, forced many of my contemporaries into the unpleasant realization that a network of friends and acquaintances we have been expanding all our lives has begun to contract.
Eight Stephen Jones and the British Fantasy Awards
Sam Stone, who returned a British Fantasy Award.
Renowned horror editor Stephen Jones went home from the British Fantasy Awards ceremony at Fantasycon and wrote “Putting the ‘Con’ Into Fantasycon,” accusing awards administrator David Howe with a conflict of interest because he is a partner in Telos, the publisher of two BFA-winning stories and winner of Best Small Press, and also is the domestic partner of Sam Stone, winner of two fiction BFA’s. The ensuing controversy led Howe to resign as chair of the British Fantasy Society and Stone to announce she was returning one of her BFA’s. Novelist Graham Joyce succeeded as acting chair of the BFS. (Along Came Jones, Stone’s Beau Geste, Howe Quits as Chair of BFS, Re: Joyce).
Aussiecon Four Artist GoH Shaun Tan won the Oscar in the Best Short Film (Animation) category for The Lost Thing, based on his book. (Shaun Tan Wins Oscar). He is the first former Worldcon GoH to win the award in competition. Roger Corman received an Academy Honorary Award from AMPAS in 2009, which is the same Oscar statuette.
He also won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s and young adult literature (Shaun Tan Wins Children’s Lit Award). Melbourne-based Tan has illustrated more than 20 books, including The Rabbits (1998), The Lost Thing (2000), The Red Tree (2001), The Arrival (2006) and Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008).
Four Harlan Ellison
If Harlan Ellison is there, it’s news. If he’s absent, it’s news. His sayings are news. So are his silences.
But after making only one public appearance in the past four years Harlan sold out LA’s Silent Movie Theater for a talk on November 15, also seen online by 2000 viewers. (Tarpinian: Harlan’s Back!)
Otherwise there was an incessant drumbeat of Ellison news throughout the year. He sold his typewriter (Jamie Ford Buys Ellison’s First Typewriter), was listed as one of SF’s Tough Interviews, and was allegedly referenced in the movie Paul (Ellison Reference in Paul? — though File 770 readers who saw it unanimously deny the claim). Burt Pretlusky wrote a memoir about authoring an episode of Jack Webb’s strident cop show Dragnet, saying that immediately after it aired Harlan Ellison called, snarled “I never knew you were a fascist!” and hung up (Harlan Ellison’s Hang-Up).
The evil done to Harlan Ellison’s television scripts by cigar-chomping producers has long been part of his (and Cordwainer Bird’s) legend. So it was news that the master’s own versions of these scripts would be published (In the Original Babylonian), the prose as it came directly from his Olympia manual typewriter.
George R.R. Martin has long been the kind of writer who connects with fans on a deeper level. As a result we’re not just fans of his stories but of his career. We cheer his mass media successes and mourn his defeats, the TV shows launched and canceled over the years, the best sellers, that kind of thing. (It’s Time, George) This year has been an uninterrupted triumphal march. He was named to the Time 100 (George R.R. Martin Makes TIME 100) and declared USA Today’s author of the year.
Sir Terry Pratchett’s views about euthanasia have received constant attention from the mundane media while going unremarked here. However, he was so often in the news for his writing and other professional activities that Pratchett’s doings continued to be of utmost significance to genre reporters.
Chris Garcia’ & James Bacon’s The Drink Tank was the first real fanzine to win the Hugo in three years. The video of Chris’s super-emotional reaction went viral, getting over 43,000 views. His hometown San Jose paper also paid tribute (Media Covers Garcia’s Hugo Win).
That would have been enough newsmaking for anyone else in an average year, but Chris and James were also on the verge of putting out The Drink Tank #300.The issue appeared in November: 320 contributions filling 272 pages.
Renowned horror editor Stephen Jones went home from the British Fantasy Awards ceremony at Fantasycon and immediately wrote “Putting the ‘Con’ Into Fantasycon”, casting a pall of suspicion over the results.
He began with the nominating process:
I guess the “fix” was in months ago. The preliminary ballot was posted on the Society’s website before most of the membership had any idea that they actually could start nominating, and it was arbitrarily decreed by the present Committee—without any discussion with the membership—that for the first time ever only electronic ballots would be accepted and that any postal votes would be ignored.
Jones implies the deadline for British Fantasy Society members to nominate (February 14, according to the BFS website) was so early it restricted participation. Certainly the history of another award, the Hugos, shows an early deadline curtails voting — when there was a March 1 deadline in 2008, only 483 nominations came in, compared to hundreds more at the next several Worldcons.
On the other hand, Jones’ implication that eliminating paper ballots disenfranchises people isn’t supported by the Worldcon’s experience. In 2011, with both electronic and paper voting available, Hugo voters showed an overwhelming preference for electronic voting and cast only a trivial number of paper ballots.
Jones devoted his most savage comments to a pattern he observed among the BFA winners, implying several involved a conflict of interest between British Fantasy Society Chairman David Howe and Telos, a small press imprint in which Howe is a partner. Telos won the Best Small Press Award and published two of the award-winning stories. Jones also noted that Howe’s domestic partner, Sam Stone, won in yet another category.
Here are Jones’ key phrases along that line:
Early on, current BFS Chairman David Howe made it clear that he would take the awards ceremony away from the convention and run it himself (not all that surprising since the awards are actually presented by the Society, although they are voted on by members of both the BFS and FantasyCon)….
Simon Clark had already gone when it was announced that he had won it for Humpty’s Bones from small press imprint Telos (remember that name, it will be cropping up again soon)….
By now it was obvious that the awards were not being presented in their normal—or published—order. I’m sure that those conspiracy theorists amongst the audience must have wondered if this was to prevent a pattern from emerging . . . .
The Best Short Story award went to Sam Stone. She cried a lot, thanked her partner—David Howe—and told us what a surprise it was to win. Presumably, David had not told her over the washing-up, nor had she sneaked a peek at the plaques he had brought down to stick on the award statuettes.
But just when Jones hooked his readers with these hints of scandal he changed course and began blasting the bad taste of BFA voters, in the process undercutting his credibility. For the only reason to blame the voters is if they actually chose the winners, by the ordinary democratic process, which is contrary to the impression Jones had labored to create:
Of course, the members of the BFS and FantasyCon are absolutely entitled to vote for whomsoever they want to. Although I suspect it helps if, say, you restrict the voting process and possibly urge all your friends to vote for you and each other. That’s what happened to the HWA Bram Stoker Awards until they became such a laughing stock in the field that the nomination process has had to undergo a major overhaul.
To put it bluntly, this year’s results made a mockery of the British Fantasy Award and everything it has always stood for. Even if you ignore the embarrassing ceremony and clichéd platitudes, few of these awards actually reflected genuine quality or what is happening in mainstream genre publishing today.
Maybe that also reflects the tastes of the BFS membership? Perhaps the majority do not read outside the small press anymore? Maybe they no longer have good taste or any critical acumen?
In the end, readers must ask themselves whether Jones has proven anything besides his own dissatisfaction with some of the BFA winners.