(1) COOL RUNNING. Archipelacon 2, the Nordic science fiction and fantasy convention in Mariehamn, Finland in 2025, is also a bid for Eurocon for 2025. (Cheryl Morgan added, “but not Worldcon, the venue is too small and they are much too sensible.”)
(2) PLAN B. Ian Sales, in “Reading diary 2020, #8” briefly gave some thought to reviewing the books on the Clarke Award shortlist before realizing it would be more interesting to tee off on US fandom.
…The Clarke commentary no longer takes place. An attempt to reinvigorate it several years ago with a shadow jury was loudly condemned by US fans who plainly didn’t understand what a shadow jury is and equally plainly hadn’t bothered to find out. Despite all claims to the contrary, fandom is not a community. Once upon a time, it was an emergent phenomenon of the stories’ existence. Now it’s just a part of the marketing machine, and, happily for the publishers, it costs them nothing. Five stars means less than one star. Giving a book five stars just makes you a fucking mug. And everything is dominated by the US, a nation which seems congenitally incapable of recognising that other countries exist and they do things differently there (yes, I know, that’s a time-based reference, not geographic one; but never mind). True, science fiction is an American mode of fiction, and the single largest market for its creations, so its dominance is hardly surprising. But us non-USians, while we may appreciate the genre output of the US – the stories, the novels, the films, the TV series – we don’t actually give a shit about what US fans think. Science fiction fandom is not one giant global family. It never has been. And it never should be. Vive la différence.
(There actually are bunch of good reviews in the post, once you get past this.)
(3) WINDYCON CANCELLATION. Chicago-area’s Windycon will not take place this year now that they’ve reached agreement with their facility.
Out of concern for the safety for our members, guests, and staff, Windycon 47 in 2020, originally scheduled for November 13-15 is cancelled for this year by mutual agreement with our hotel.
All room reservations will be automatically canceled by the hotel beginning Monday, 7/13.
If you have purchased a membership, dealer tables, or space in the art show for Windycon 47, we will refund your money or roll over your payments for Windycon 47 in 2021, per your preference. Please contact us at email@example.com to let us know. Dealers, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your preferences, and artists, please contact email@example.com.
If you haven’t contacted us by August 1, 2020, then memberships will be automatically refunded.
If you have a membership that was rolled over from Windycon 46, that membership will automatically be rolled over to the convention in 2021.
There may yet be some online activities which will be held during Windycon 47’s original timeframe. Should this come to pass, information will be posted on the Windycon website and via social media channels.
Windycon 47 will now be held at the Westin in Lombard, Illinois on November 12-14, 2021, COVID-permitting, featuring all of the guests from 2020.
If you have any questions, please contact the ISFiC board at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(4) STORYGRAPH. Someone has invented a tool that could massively accelerate the growth of your Mount TBR, judging by Cole Rush’s “Interview with Nadia Odunayo, Founder of The StoryGraph” at The Quill To Live
Welcome to our special interview with Nadia Odunayo! Nadia is the founder of The StoryGraph, an online service that helps you find books to fit your mood. After you read the interview, head over to The StoryGraph to sign up and find your next read!
What is The StoryGraph and what does it do for readers?
The StoryGraph is a website that helps you to find perfect books for you based on your mood and the types of books you like to read.
Our magic feature is “Ordered for you.” Users fill out a short survey — it takes anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes to fill out — letting us know their favourite sorts of books to read, down to specific topics, types of authors, themes, genres etc. — and we order all of the books on our website for them based on how well they match their preferences.
Combine that with our filter menu, where you can filter down by moods, pace, genres, book size, and more, and you’re never more than a few clicks away from your next perfect book!
(5) DRIVE-IN FAVORITE. Did you see this coming? Deadline says it’s making the cash registers ring again: “‘Empire Strikes Back’ Leads At The Weekend Box Office Again, 23 Years After Sequel’s Special Edition”.
For the first time since the February 1997 reissue, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is leading at the box office this weekend after clocking an estimated $175K at 483 locations. Empire should end the weekend with a 3-day take in-between the high $400K and low $500K.
(6) DON’T PANIC. Huffpost urges, “Don’t Fall For The ‘Cancel Culture’ Scam”. And proceeds to document inaccuracies in the open letter signed by over 150 writers, including J.K. Rowling.
On Monday, 153 prominent writers, academics and public figures signed their names to a statement entitled “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” According to the signatories, “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.”
While the letter itself, published by the magazine Harper’s, doesn’t use the term, the statement represents a bleak apogee in the yearslong, increasingly contentious debate over “cancel culture.” The American left, we are told, is imposing an Orwellian set of restrictions on which views can be expressed in public. Institutions at every level are supposedly gripped by fears of social media mobs and dire professional consequences if their members express so much as a single statement of wrongthink.
This is false. Every statement of fact in the Harper’s letter is either wildly exaggerated or plainly untrue. More broadly, the controversy over “cancel culture” is a straightforward moral panic. While there are indeed real cases of ordinary Americans plucked from obscurity and harassed into unemployment, this rare, isolated phenomenon is being blown up far beyond its importance.
(7) CLARON CONVERSATIONS CONTINUE. The next two installments of the Clarion Conversations are scheduled for July 15 and 16.
The Future is Queer – July 15, 5:30pm PT / 8:30pm ET (Register here.)
This week, our guests are José Iriarte, Jordy Rosenberg, and Nicasio Andrés Reed, moderated by Ellen Kushner. The conversation, named in honor of the Delany-Kushner-Sherman “The Future is Queer” scholarship for Clarion students, will explore speculative fiction through the eyes of these four writers whose work centers queer stories and experiences, the writers who inspired and paved the way for them, and what the future of the field looks like.
We encourage attendees of tonight’s conversation to make a contribution to the Delany-Kushner-Sherman/The Future is Queer Scholarship, which recognizes the continued work of Samuel R. Delany, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman as active LGBTQ writers in the field of science fiction and fantasy, and their contributions as Clarion faculty members who have been particularly supportive of LGBTQ students over the years. The scholarship provides financial support for Clarion students who self-identify as part of the broader queer community. In addition, it recognizes the need for more queer representation in speculative literature, and the many hardships queer writers face due to employment, home, and financial discrimination. Our hope is that the Delany-Kushner-Sherman scholarship will help more queer writers attend the Clarion Workshop.
Remembering Octavia/Writers of Color at Clarion – July 16, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)
This week, our guests are adrienne marie brown, Lisa Bolekaja, and Senaa Ahmad, moderated by Shelley Streeby (Clarion Workshop Faculty Director). The focus this week is to highlight the contributions of writers of color in the Clarion community, looking back to early student Octavia E. Butler and to the future through the eyes of these three writers, including two Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholars—a scholarship for Clarion students of color sponsored by the Carl Brandon Society.
The Carl Brandon Societyhas tirelessly dedicated itself to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. We encourage attendees of tonight’s conversation to make a contribution to the Butler Scholarship Memorial Fund.
Videos of the first two panels are available on YouTube.
- “Clarion Conversation: Stories of the Strange and Fantastic” with Catherynne M. Valente, Alyssa Wong, and Ashley Blooms, moderated by Karen Joy Fowler
- “Clarion Conversation: Writing the Future” with Eileen Gunn, Ted Chiang, Lilliam Rivera, and Sam J. Miller, moderated by Kim Stanley Robinson.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- July 11, 1997 — Contact premiered. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis with production by him and Steve Starkey. It‘s based off Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name with the screenplay by James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg. Jodie Foster is the protagonist with an extensive supporting cast of Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe, Jake Busey and David Morse. Contact won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at BucConeer, beating out Men In Black, Gattaca and Starship Troopers. The rough consensus of the critics was that it had great ideas, quite flat characters. Box office wise, it never earned back what it cost to make. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 78% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born July 11, 1899 – E.B. White. Essayist at Harper’s and The New Yorker. Three revisions of Strunk’s 1918 Elements of Style (1959, 1972, 1979) which thus since 1959 has also borne White’s name. Letters, 1976 (Winship Award); Essays, 1977; Poems & Sketches, 1981. For us, Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web(Newbery Honor), The Trumpet of the Swan. Amer. Acad. Arts & Letters Gold Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Wilder Award, Nat’l Medal for Literature, Pulitzer Prize. (Died 1985) [JH]
- Born July 11, 1913 – Harold McCauley. Five dozen covers, a hundred interiors for Amazing, Fantastic, Imagination, Other Worlds, Universe. Here is a cover for the August 1940 Fantastic. Here is the May 1952 Imagination. Here are some images from the Grapefruit Moon Gallery (the stern man with a staff is HM’s cover for Empire of the Atom). See Di Fate’s note on him in Infinite Worlds. The Quaker Oats man has his face. (Died 1977) [JH]
- Born July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith. Forty short stories; even the titles are strange – “Scanners Live in Vain”, “Golden the Ship Was – Oh! Oh! Oh!”, “Think Blue, Count Two”. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish. Under another name (and he used others too) he was Sun Yat-sen’s godson, earned a Ph.D., knew six languages, studied brainwashing and psychological warfare. We may understand him some day. (Died 1966) [JH]
- Born July 11, 1920 — Yul Brynner. The Gunslinger in Westworld and its sequel Futureword. He would also play Carson, a human warrior in the post-apocalyptic The Ultimate Warrior. I don’t think we can consider The King and I genre or even genre adjacent… If we do, he played Prince Mongkut in the short-lived Anna and the King as well. (Died 1985.) (CE)
- Born July 11, 1925 — David Graham, 95. The voice of Daleks in the early years of Doctor Who including two non-canon films, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.; his voice work made him a sought-after worker and he’d be used on Thunderbirds, Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar, Timeslip, Moomin, Stingray and even the recent Thunderbirds Are Go. (CE)
- Born July 11, 1954 – Sarah Prince. Ceramicist, photographer, graphic designer. Voice and handbell choirs. Co-chaired Ditto 6 (fanziners’ convention, named for a brand of spirit duplicator – I’ve used it myself and “spirit duplicator” still sounds fantastic). Here (Mark Olson photo) she is at Boskone 28. (Died 2017) [JH]
- Born July 11, 1956 — Amitav Ghosh, 64. Author of the absolutely brilliant The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Really just go read it and we’ll discuss it over a cup of chai masala. (CE)
- Born July 11, 1958 – Alan M. Gutierrez, 62. A hundred sixty covers, forty interiors. Here is the Spring 1983 Rigel. Here is The Infinite Sea. Here is the April 2005 Analog. Here is Fuzzy Ergo Sum. Here are some starship concept sketches. [JH]
- Born July 11, 1959 — Richard James Bleiler, 61. Genres breed academics. One of them is this bibliographer of speculative fiction, crime, and adventure fiction. Among his papers are “The Fantastic Pulp Fiction of Frank Belknap Long” which appeared in Gary Hoppenstand’s Pulp Fiction of the ’20S and ’30S and “Forgotten Giant: A Brief History of Adventure Magazines” which was published in Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (CE)
- Born July 11, 1976 — T.L. Morganfield, 44. She is as she says “An Aztec geek; whether it’s history or mythology, I devour it all. It’s a love affair that began in college and has taken over my fiction writing life.” And that’s why I’m recommending her Bone Flower trilogy which is at genre adjacent if not genre. Her Aztec West series bring the Aztec gods into the Old West and is quite entertaining in a weird sort of manner. (CE)
- Born July 11, 1984 – Marie Lu, 36. Nine novels, five New York Times Best Sellers, some adapted to graphic novels and video games; they are young-adult futuristic dystopias. Here is a January 2020 interview for The Writer. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Non Sequitur shows a suspicious case of news not going viral.
(11) MOVING IN A NEW DIRECTION. “Julia Sawalha ‘devastated and furious’ at Chicken Run sequel ‘ageism'” reports BBC.
Actress Julia Sawalha has said she is “devastated and furious” at not being in the Chicken Run sequel, claiming she was told her voice sounds “too old”.
Sawalha, who played Ginger the chicken in the 2000 animated original, said she felt she had been “unfairly dismissed”.
The actress said she had “officially been plucked, stuffed & roasted” after being told the role was being recast, but wished the film “the best of luck”.
The BBC has asked Aardman Animations and distributor Netflix for comment.
In an open letter, the Absolutely Fabulous and Cranford star said she had been “informed out of the blue” that the producers of Chicken Run 2 were recasting Ginger.
“The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds ‘too old’ and they wanted a younger actress,” she wrote.
Sawalha responded by filming herself speaking some of her old dialogue and sending the video to the sequel’s producers.
She said she had received a “very kind” response from an unnamed “creative” – who said the recasting would still go ahead.
(12) SHE ADORES THE DOCTOR. BUT NOT THAT DOCTOR. Galactic Journey’s Lorelei Marcus will tell you “This is how I fell hard for handsome, clever, talented teen idol of the century: Tony Randall.” [JULY 10, 1965] “SINCE I FELL FOR YOU” (A YOUNG TRAVELER’S CRUSH).
… He’s at his best though, when he is playing Dr. Lao; specifically when he drops the stereotypical façade of a foolish Chinese man and becomes the traveled scholar underneath. Suddenly he is standing straight and tall, almost regal in his confidence. His voice is deep and carrying, but his demeanor is kind, wise, and gentle. He speaks in a perfect and precise manner and his words discuss the magical secrets of the universe. I hadn’t known it at the time, but despite all the makeup and effects, this role was one of the closest to Randall’s true self.
At this point, I was awed by Randall’s performance in the movie, but felt little beyond that. Dr. Lao was a few thousand years too old for my tastes, and I had yet to see the man behind him more clearly. Then my father’s and my weekly Password viewing happened to feature a very special guest. I was quite excited, not necessarily because it was Tony Randall on Password, but simply because it was an actor that I recognized and admired. At least, that’s how it started.
I was folding laundry while watching the TV, and I found my attention frequently drifting away from my linens and to the man on screen (no, not host Alan Ludden.) Randall was fascinating to watch. He always sat with perfect poise and spoke with wonderful rich tones. And he was absolutely erudite, forcing me to pull out a dictionary a few times. His brilliance aided in his gameplaying as well, as I believe he is the only player in Password history so far to win four games in a row!
(13) LANSDALE INTRO ONLINE. Joe R. Lansdale, in “The Missing Link Between Golden Age Detectives, Hardboiled Noir, And Hallucinogenic Adventure” on CrimeReads, has an introduction to a new edition of Joel Townsley Rogers’s The Red Right Hand. a novel Lansdale says is “a genre slider, a brain teaser, a liar and a truth-teller at the same time.”
… Clues and odd impressions pile up like plague victims, and from time to time the answer to the riddle seems close at hand, as if you could reach out and grasp it. Then the answer that seemed so clear wriggles from your grasp like an electric eel and slithers into darkness.
(14) STARRING ATTRACTION. At The Eloquent Page, Pablo Cheesecake entertainingly reviews “Random Sh*t Flying Through The Air by Jackson Ford”.
Please note, this is a direct sequel to The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind. It is entirely possible that if you have not read book one in The Frost Files series then this review will contain something akin to minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Teagan Frost’s life is finally back on track. Her role working for the government as a psychokinetic operative is going well and she might even be on course for convincing her crush to go out with her. But, little does she know, that sh*t is about to hit the fan . . .
A young boy with the ability to cause earthquakes has come to Los Angeles – home to the San Andreas, one of the most lethal fault lines in the world. If Teagan can’t stop him, the entire city – and the rest of California – could be wiped off the map.
For reference, before we begin, I’m going to refer to this book henceforth as Random Sh*t. I can’t be bothered typing Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air all the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant title for a brilliant book, but it’s wearing me out. The prospect alone of having to repeatedly type it out is giving me the fear.
(15) UNDER THE HARROW. Andrew Mather reviews a sequel in “Harrow The Ninth – Sure, Ok, Yeah” at The Quill To Live.
God, it’s like assembling a fusion reactor without a manual. I am honestly surprised at my perceived commercial success of Tamsyn Muir’s The Locked Tomb series. Not that it is bad in any way – in fact, we gave book one a stellar review and listed the series as one of our top Science Fantasy books of all time. It’s just that these books are so confusing that you will literally never understand what is happening, which is usually a huge turn off for most readers. I am pleasantly surprised that the general public has collectively decided these books are worth the time and effort.
So, Harrow The Ninth, the second book in the series, is coming out soon. You might be sitting on your couch right now, browsing this review on your phone, and thinking “oh a Harrow review, maybe he will say the books get less confusing.” Well reader, no, unfortunately, I cannot say that because I don’t understand half the plot, and the other half I do understand is basically all spoilers.
(16) UNSEEN THINGS. Looks like Trump’s Space Force has a head start on the Border Patrol. The New York Times reveals “Beyond the Milky Way, a Galactic Wall”.
Astronomers have discovered that there is a vast wall across the southern border of the local cosmos.
The South Pole Wall, as it is known, consists of thousands of galaxies — beehives of trillions of stars and dark worlds, as well as dust and gas — aligned in a curtain arcing across at least 700 million light-years of space. It winds behind the dust, gas and stars of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, from the constellation Perseus in the Northern Hemisphere to the constellation Apus in the far south. It is so massive that it perturbs the local expansion of the universe.
But don’t bother trying to see it. The entire conglomeration is behind the Milky Way, in what astronomers quaintly call the zone of avoidance.
An international team of astronomers led by Daniel Pomarède of Paris-Saclay University and R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii announced this new addition to the local universe on Friday in a paper in Astrophysical Journal. The paper is festooned with maps and diagrams of blobby and stringy features of our local universe as well as a video tour of the South Pole Wall.
It is the latest installment of an ongoing mission to determine where we are in the universe — to fix our neighborhood among the galaxies and the endless voids — and where we are going….
(17) BEYOND ELEMENTARY. At Nerds of A Feather, Paul Weimer’s “Microreview [book]: The Sin In the Steel by Ryan Van Loan” points out a new book’s connection to a strong literary tradition.
…Going into the novel, I did not quite realize that this was going to be a twist on a Sherlock adventure, and it was a delight to meet Buc and Eld on Holmes and Watsonian terms. The author takes this further than I expected–giving Buc a use of a drug in order to focus and think in a productive way, and making Eld a veteran Who Has Seen Things.. The youthful nature of the protagonists (Buc is 17 and Eld a couple of years later) puts them between a “Young Sherlock Holmes” and a Traditionally aged Holmes and Watson.
(18) WOKE IN TIME FOR BREAKFAST. Vogue tells why “OffLimits Is a New Cereal Brand for the Conscious Breakfast Lover”.
…Emily Miller, author of the cookbook Breakfast and host of “Breakfast Club,” which hosts tours of famous breakfast spots around New York City, is launching a new cereal brand today called OffLimits. There are two flavors: DASH, which is made with Intelligentsia coffee and cacao, and ZOMBIE, a recipe that includes relaxing adaptogens like pandan, vanilla, and ashwagandha. The flavor’s names also represent fictionalized characters created by Miller. They represent moods and emotions like anxiety and depression. She crafted these personas in order to humanize cereal branding, which—despite how sugary or fattening it may be—has often shouted eat this and you will be better and stronger! DASH is also the very first female cereal character ever created in the industry.
(19) TUCKERIZED. Fanac.org has posted Part I of the Bob Tucker Interview that Dick Smith conducted for Chicon 2000.
Dick Smith’s interview of Wilson “Bob” Tucker was done for the 2000 World Science Fiction Convention, Chicon 2000 (with videography by Tom Veal, chair of Chicon 2000!). In this low key conversation, Tucker tells wonderful stories about 60 years of fandom, from Chicon 1 in 1940, to his only stint as convention Artist Guest of Honor, to the origin of the Tucker Hotel, to Claude Degler and more. There’s history. There’s “smoothing”. There are intriguing hints of stories not told. Here’s your chance to sit down with a ghiant of fandom, and listen to Dick Smith draw out his stories of our fannish past.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]