[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2020 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
50 of the novellas published in 2017,
38 of the novellas published in 2018,
57 of the 2019 novellas,
and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas from my library, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 59!
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and I do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas are listed in two sections below. The first section, those with cover art, are the ones I have read, and they include mini-reviews by me. These are in approximate order from most-favorite to least-favorite (but bear in mind that after around the first dozen listed, there was not a large degree of difference in preference among most of the remainder, with the exception of a handful at the bottom). The second section is those novellas I haven’t read, in alphabetical order by title.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Some short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included, and in a couple of cases, novelettes which were long enough to be in the Hugo Novella tolerance were also included.
Please feel free to post comments about 2020 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your File 770 comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
If you see something that looks like gibberish, it is text that has been ROT-13’ed to avoid spoilers. (Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)
The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top books, digital media, video and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits taking place virtually from Chicago, Illinois.
Congratulations to Rebecca Roanhorse, TJ Klune, Stephen Graham Jones, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Quan Berry whose novels received Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.
Also of genre interest, the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award went toLegendborn, written by Tracy Deonn, and one of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medalists is Miriam at the River, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Khoa Le. A William C. Morris Award finalist was Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard by Echo Brown.
A list of all the 2021 award winners follows:
John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller (Random House Children’s Books)
Newbery Honor Books
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat and published by Candlewick Press;
BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood and published by Candlewick Press;
Fighting Words, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House;
We Dream of Space, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers;
A Wish in the Dark, written by Christina Soontornvat and published by Candlewick Press.
Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade is the 2021 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Carole Lindstrom and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings.
Caldecott Honor Books
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, illustrated by Noa Denmon, written by Zetta Elliott and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group;
The Cat Man of Aleppo, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, written by Irene Latham & Karim Shamsi-Basha and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House;
Me & Mama, illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera and published by Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers;
Outside In, illustrated by Cindy Derby, written by Deborah Underwood and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award:
Before the Ever After, written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner. The book is published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
King Author Honor Books
All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, written by Mildred D. Taylor, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC;
King and the Dragonflies, written by Kacen Callender, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.;
Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box, written by Evette Dionne, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, illustrated by Frank Morrison,written by Carole Boston Weatherford and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.
King Illustrator Honor Books
Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, written by Samara Cole Doyon and published by Tilbury House Publishers;
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera, written by Suzanne Slade and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS;
Me & Mama, illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera and published by Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:
Legendborn, written by Tracy Deonn, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.
Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement: The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton.
Dorothy L. Guthrie
Dorothy L. Guthrie is an award-winning retired librarian, district administrator, author and school board member. A respected children’s literature advocate, Guthrie promotes and affirms the rich perspectives of African Americans. Her work, Integrating African American Literature in the Library and Classroom, inspires educators with African American literature. Guthrie founded the first African American museum in her home, Gaston County, NC.
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:
Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story), by Daniel Nayeri, published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.
Printz Honor Books
Apple (Skin to the Core), by Eric Gansworth and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido;
Dragon Hoops, created by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien and published by First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group;
Every Body Looking, by Candice Iloh and published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House;
We Are Not Free, by Traci Chee and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:
Award for young children (ages 0 to 10).
I Talk Like a River, written by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith and published by Neal Porter Books/Holiday House,
Honor books for young children
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything, written by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali and published by Sourcebooks eXplore, an imprint of Sourcebook Kids,
Itzhak: A Boy who Loved the Violin, written by Tracy Newman, illustrated by Abigail Halpin and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams.
Award for middle grades (ages 11-13)
Show Me a Sign, written by Ann Clare LeZotte and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.,
Honor books for middle grades
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!, written by Sarah Kapit and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC,
When Stars Are Scattered, written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Award for teens (ages 13-18)
This Is My Brain in Love, written by I.W. Gregorio and published by Little Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, is the winner for teens (ages 13-18).
No honor book for teens was selected.
Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences:
Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse, published by Saga Press/Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune, published by Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan
The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice – Crossing Antarctica Alone, by Colin O’Brady, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams Comicarts
The Kids Are Gonna Ask, by Gretchen Anthony, published by Park Row Books, an imprint of Harlequin, a division of HarperCollins Publishers
The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones, published by Saga Press/Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Plain Bad Heroines, by emily m. danforth, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi, published by Tordotcom, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan
Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel, by Quan Barry, published by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House
Children’s Literature Legacy Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences.
Mildred D. Taylor, whose award-winning works include Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the 1977 Newbery Medal winner and a Coretta Scott King (CSK) Author honor; The Land, the 2002 CSK Author Award winner; The Road to Memphis, the 1991 CSK Author Award winner; All the Days Past, All the Days to Come; and The Gold Cadillac, among other titles.
Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:
Kekla Magoon. Her books include: X: A Novel, co-written by Ilyasah Shabazz and published by Candlewick Press; How It Went Down,published by Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; The Rock and the River and Fire in the Streets, both published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.
Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States:
Telephone Tales. Originally published in Italian as Favole al telefono, the book was written by Gianni Rodari, illustrated by Valerio Vidali, translated by Antony Shugaar and published by Enchanted Lion Books.
Catherine’s War, published by HarperAlley, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, written by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel and translated from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger.
Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States:
Kent State, produced by Paul R. Gagne for Scholastic Audio,The book is written by Deborah Wiles and narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina DeLaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries.
Odyssey Honor Audiobooks
Clap When You Land, produced by Caitlin Garing for HarperAudio, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, written by Elizabeth Acevedo and narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte;
Fighting Words, produced by Karen Dziekonski for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and narrated by Bahni Turpin;
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, produced by Robert Van Kolken for Hachette Audio, written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi and narrated by Jason Reynolds with an introduction by Ibram X. Kendi;
When Stars Are Scattered, produced by Kelly Gildea & Julie Wilson for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio, written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed and narrated by Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi and a full cast.
Pura Belpré Awards honoring a Latinx writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
Belpré Illustrator Award
¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat, illustrated and written by Raúl Gonzalez, is the. The book was published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Belpré Illustrator Honor Book
Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri, written by Monica Brown and published by Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Efrén Divided, written by Ernesto Cisneros, is the Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award winner. The book is published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Belpré Children’s Author Honor Books
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, written by Adrianna Cuevas and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group,
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance, written by Donna Barba Higuera and published by Levine Querido.Furia, written by Yamile Saied Méndez, is the Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Award winner. The book is published by Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
Belpré Young Adult Author Honor Books
Never Look Back, written by Lilliam Rivera and published by Bloomsbury YA,
We Are Not from Here, written by Jenny Torres Sanchez and published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann,. The book is published by Neal Porter Books/Holiday House.
Sibert Honor Books
How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure, written and illustrated by John Rocco, published by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House;
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, written by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS;
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat, published by Candlewick Press.
The Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award is given to a digital media producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early learning audience.
The Imagine Neighborhood, produced by Committee for Children.
Sesame Street Family Play: Caring for Each Other, produced by Sesame Workshop.
Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:
We Are Little Feminists: Families, written by Archaa Shrivastav, designed by Lindsey Blakely and published by Little Feminist
Beetle & The Hollowbones, illustrated and written by Aliza Layne and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division;
Darius the Great Deserves Better, written by Adib Khorram and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC;
Felix Ever After, written by Kacen Callender and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers;
You Should See Me in a Crown, written by Leah Johnson and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book
See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, written by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka and published by Candlewick Press.
Geisel Honor Books
The Bear in My Family, written and illustrated by Maya Tatsukawa and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House;
Ty’s Travels: Zip, Zoom! written by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nina Mata and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers;
What About Worms!? written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group;
Where’s Baby? written and illustrated by Anne Hunter and published by Tundra Books of Northern New York, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, a Penguin Random House Company.
William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:
If These Wings Could Fly, written by Kyrie McCauley, published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Finalists for the award:
Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard, written by Echo Brown and published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group;
The Black Kids, written by Christina Hammonds Reed and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing;
It Sounded Better in My Head, written by Nina Kenwood and published by Flatiron Books, Macmillan Publishers;
Woven in Moonlight, written by Isabel Ibañez and published by Page Street Publishing.
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:
The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh, written by Candace Fleming, published by Schwartz and Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.
Finalists for the award:
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat and published by Candlewick Press;
The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival, written by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess with Laura L. Sullivan and published by Bloomsbury YA;
How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure, written and illustrated by John Rocco and published by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House;
You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Democracy and Deliver Power to the People, written by Elizabeth Rusch and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. The award promotes Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and is awarded based on literary and artistic merit. The award offers three youth categories including Picture Book, Children’s Literature and Youth Literature. The award is administered by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association. This year’s winners include:
The Picture Book winner
Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist, written by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki and published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.
Picture Book honor title
Danbi Leads the School Parade, written and illustrated by Anna Kim and published by Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
The Children’s Literature winner
When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller and published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.
Children’s literature honor title:
Prairie Lotus, written by Linda Sue Park and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Youth Literature winner
This Light Between Us, written by Andrew Fukuda and published by Tor Teen.
Youth Literature honor title:
Displacement, written by Kiku Hughes and published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented since 1968 by the Association of Jewish Libraries, an affiliate of the American Library Association, the award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Gold Medalists
Picture Book category
Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal and published by Charlesbridge;
Middle Grades category
Turtle Boy, by M. Evan Wolkenstein and published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC;
Young Adult category,
Dancing at the Pity Party, written and illustrated by Tyler Feder and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medalists
Picture Book category,
I Am the Tree of Life: My Jewish Yoga Book, by Mychal Copeland, illustrated by André Ceolin and published by Apples and Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House,
Miriam at the River, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Khoa Le and published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group;
Middle Grades category
No Vacancy, by Tziporah Cohen and published by Groundwood Books;
Anya and the Nightingale, by Sofiya Pasternack and published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt;
The Blackbird Girls, by Anne Blankman and published by Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House LLC;
Young Adult category,
They Went Left, by Monica Hesse and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.
(1) CHERRYH NOW CANCER FREE. C.J. Cherryh updated fans about her battle with colon cancer in a public Facebook post yesterday.
Long story in short, I’ve had cancer. I don’t, now, and scans show I’m well and truly rid of it. Found out in February, had surgery (colon cancer), started chemo in March, and thanks to a really great medical staff and good insurance, I finished chemo successfully, had a raft of scans and another round with my excellent GI doc, and am now clean and clear—not to be cavalier about it all. Chemo is rough. It’s done a number on general strength and it does age you a bit. Or more than a bit. So I know I’ve been in a fight and I look older than I did before this started, but I refuse to settle down and act older. I’ll be exercising to get my strength back.
I owe an immense amount to Jane, who’s had to do everything from cat box to general cookery and bottlewashing and all this with the handicap of Covid restrictions, while she’s had her own issue with a ferociously painful hip problem. I’d have been in a heckuva mess without her taking care of me.
Kudos to local friends who have brought us stuff and fixed stuff that was broken. Without you, we couldn’t have kept isolation and safety. One of us exposed is both of us in danger.
So Jane and I both had a forced hiatus from writing, and everything is about 8 months behind. Our publisher has been enormously understanding. We are officially getting back to work. We had the next Alliance book 3/4 finished when this happened, and we will likely be working together, too, on the next Foreigner book, just to get our heads firmly back in the game. So we’ll be late, but we do have a hall pass.
I kept this illness under wraps because there’s nothing anybody not in reach could do, and I had no ready answers to give anybody. But the outcome is the very best. And I would urge anybody out there to go get that postponed colonoscopy. This kind can be dealt with and prevented during a colonoscopy, so go do that, eh? I was lucky. Real lucky. A clinic NP, one of my regular docs and another NP combined saw my shortness of breath as, yep, something that had to be seen to….
… Though I watched “Raised by Wolves” to escape—tearing through the first five episodes in a single weekend—it threw my terrestrial problems into stark relief. I find the show transporting, corny, and unexpectedly relatable. As I watch, I can’t stop thinking about how much better a job the androids are doing than my husband and I and our own machines. “Mother is killing it,” I whispered admiringly during one episode, my fretful firstborn grinding her teeth in her bunk bed upstairs. Never mind that almost all the original children perished, that they eat fungus and sinister spuds and sleep under burlap. Never mind that Mother murders a lot of humans in Episode 1. It doesn’t matter. Mother and Father are there for the kids, and, in their android way, for each other….
…No, really. That’s it. That’s the whole story. This is the first Doctor Who story to be a single episode long. Not only that, it’s the first one in which neither the Doctor nor his companions make an appearance. I suppose he got his day off after all!
And to top it all off, this is the only episode so far in which the baddies win…
(4) HORROR U. The Horror Writers Association’s Horror University workshops, formerly only accessible in-person at StokerCon, are available online this fall at $50 for non-members and $40 for members per session. Coming up on the calendar:
2020 October 19 — Writing and Selling Short Stories
The short story market has never been healthier, and it can not only build your career and increase your professional income, it can also help you stretch as a writer. Short stories offer more creative opportunities than any other form of writing. We’ll discuss the short story structure, tips on finding killer opening hooks and powerful endings, strategies for finding paying markets, and much more. Recording? No
Instructor: Jonathan Maberry
2020 October 26 — Poetry Forms Workshop for All Writers
Not just for poets: a workshop to play with the different poetry forms to use less words to say more; heighten readers’ emotional reaction, clarify your style/voice and handle writing blocks. We will explore several poetry shapes and their rules to understand how they are created. Time will be available for attendees to practice writing, including creating writing “seeds.” Recording? Yes
Instructor: Linda D. Addison
2020 November 2 — The History of Ghosts
Are you ready to write a ghost story, but wish you knew a little more about the history of your spectral protagonist? Lisa Morton, author of the acclaimed Ghosts: A Haunted History and Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances is here to help, with a one-hour illustrated presentation that looks at the classical history of ghosts, ghosts in the Middle Ages, paranormal beliefs around the world, and modern hauntings. You’ll hear some chilling real-life ghost stories, and probably learn a few new things about these visitors from beyond. Recording? Yes
Instructor: Lisa Morton
2020 November 9 — Done to Death
With novels on the bestseller lists and movies winning Academy Awards, the horror genre is hotter than ever. But if you want your fiction to stand out from the pack, you need to do more than offer readers retreads of well-worn stories of monsters, ghosts, and demons. You need to write horror that’s original and captivating – horror only you can write. This workshop will teach you how to avoid clichés when writing horror and dark fantasy and create stories that are fresh and exciting. Recording? Yes
… It would be wrong to say that The Trial is “really” about antisemitism, as if the work’s many other theological and political dimensions were unreal. But it was his experience of being a modern European Jew at a time of profound Jewish crisis that gave Kafka such an immediate experience of the alienation and isolation, the helplessness and guilt, that would become central to the experience of so many people in the 20th century. Jewishness, he suggests, is not a unique fate but an extreme one, which equips the writer — at least, when the writer is Kafka — to see truths too terrible for most people to recognize until it is too late.
Onyebuchi’s first book for adults is about police brutality, being Black in the United States, and family. It begins with the 1992 L.A. Riots (which give the book part of its title), but it doesn’t stop there. Instead, it plows right past us into a near-future alternate reality. With its multifaceted exploration of incarceration and systemic racism, it couldn’t be more timely. It’s a beautiful and powerful book that uses sci-fi to address the very dystopian elements of today’s sociopolitical landscape. You should read it. Now.
…Roanhorse has created an epic adventure [Black Sun (Gallery/Saga), the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy] exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade. Roanhorse will be joined in conversation by Tochi Onyebuchi, author of Riot Baby and War Girls.
(8) JANET FREER OBIT. Janet Freer, a literary agent for leading New Wave sf writers and others, has died at the age of 89. Her daughter wrote in The Guardian:
…Janet began work as a commercial artist before starting her publishing career in London around 1962. She spent several years in the sales department at Panther Books and then joined Scott Meredith Literary Agency for a short while before setting up her own agency. Janet Freer Literary Agency specialised in SF/fantasy and represented new-wave SF writers such as Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison, Christopher Priest and Thomas M Disch, and others associated with the SF magazine New Worlds in the60s.
In the early 70s, Janet joined Michael Bakewell and Diana Tyler at MBA Literary Agents. She represented an impressive list of authors during that time, including Anne McCaffrey, Anne Perry and Ursula K Le Guin for the UK market.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
Sixteen years ago, Kage Baker’s “The Empress of Mars” novella won the Theodore Sturgeon Award and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novella (Vernor Vinge‘s “The Cookie Monster“ would win) as well as the Nebula Award for Best Novella which was won by Eleanor Arnason’s “The Potter of Bones”. It was first published in the July 2003 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. It would be expanded into a novel five years later. You can hear Kage reading it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 11, 1782 – Steen Blicher. Pioneer of the novella in Danish; “the first of Danish literature’s great storytellers … one of [its] few tragic poets” (Baggesen, Blicher’s Short Stories, 1965) (in Danish). “The Rector of Veilbye” (1829, English 1907, named to the Cultural Canon of Denmark 2006) has implied supernatural elements, see here. (Died 1848) [JH]
Born October 11, 1922 – Garry Edmondson. A dozen novels for us, as many shorter stories. Also Westerns. Wrote under several names besides his own José Mario Garry Ordoñez Edmondson y Cotton. A Marine in World War II. Spoke six languages. Gardner Dozois called The Ship That Sailed the Time-Stream a classic. (Died 1995) [JH]
Born October 11, 1940 — Caroline John. Liz Shaw, companion to the Third Doctor. Shaw was a brilliant scientist, unusual for a companion. She returned for The Five Doctors. And she would reprise her character in the Big Finish audio works. Later she played the role of Laura Lyons in the BBC adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, opposite Tom Baker as Holmes. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born October 11, 1944 – Julek Heller, 76. Eighty covers, fifty interiors. Here is The Titus Books. Here is a Robinson Crusoe. Here is a Sleeping Beauty piano picture-book. Here is an Enchanted Horse. Here is an interior for Jack and the Beanstalk. [JH]
Born October 11, 1945 – Gay Haldeman, 75. Master’s degrees in Spanish Literature and in Linguistics. Taught thirty years at the Mass. Inst. Tech. Writing Center. Toastmaster at ConFusion 1981 (“Nine Billion Names of ConFusion”), 1992 (“Hardwired ConFusion”). Guest of Honor (with husband Joe) at e.g. Finncon 2007, ICON 43. Skylark award. Big Heart, our highest service award. Here she is on a panel at the 60th Worldcon looking back at the 26th. [JH]
Born October 11, 1949 — Sharman DiVono, 71. She was the primary writer of the Star Trek comic strip from a year in the early Eighties. She’s written a number of other strips such as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm The Man from Planet X and Tarzan. She has written for three animated series — G.I. Joe, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Star Wars: Droids. She’s written one genre novel, Blood Moon. (CE)
Born October 11, 1960 — Nicola Bryant, 60. Well-known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course, she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. (CE)
Born October 11, 1965 — Sean Patrick Flanery, 55. I think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, a low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. (CE)
Born October 11, 1972 — Claudia Black, 48. Best remembered for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in the Containment series. (CE)
Born October 11, 1972 – Nir Yaniv, 48. Author, editor, musician, filmmaker. Founded the Webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy. A novel, ten shorter stories. See this Strange Horizons interview with him about The Universe in a Pita. [JH]
Born October 11, 1976 — Emily Deschanel, 43. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. (CE)
Born October 11, 1984 – Jaymin Eve, 36. Eight novels with Leia Stone (Anarchy a USA Today Best Seller), five and a novella with Jane Washington, a score solo, in nine universes. Paranormal fantasy. More outside our field. “I grew up in a little country town [in Australia], and the library was my favorite place in the world.” [JH]
(12) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. So we expect, when Shift, the new UK anthology comic, is launched in newsagents and comic shops around the UK on October 29.
Featuring the best in independent creator owned stories from new talent and seasoned veterans (including Jim Krueger, Brian Haberlin, Steve Yeowell, Simon Furman, Scott Morse and many more) – there’s something for everyone with a a diverse array of exciting and thought-provoking stories
Seven stories, ongoing titles, creator interviews, articles and more..
Foot Soldiers – Jim Krueger (Earth X, Justice, Marvels X), Steve Yeowell (Zenith, The Invisibles, Sinister Dexter)
To The Death – Simon Furman, Geoff Senior. Acclaimed Transformers creative team, and creators of Marvel’s Death’s Head
Kora – Chris Geary (Ace’s Weekly)
Soulwind – Scott Morse (Littlegreyman, Elektra: Glimpse and Echo, Catwoman, Sam and Twitch)
Shifter – Brian Haberlin (Witchblade, Aria), Brian Holguin (Spawn), Skip Brittenham, Geirrod van Dyke, Kunrong Yap
Tiny Acts of Violence – Martin Stiff (The Absence)
Hungerville – Warwick Fraser-Coombe (The Shadow Constabulary, Interzone)
(13) D&D LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS. The Believer has posted on its site “Destroy All Monsters” by Paul La Farge, first published in 2006, which combines a history of Dungeons and Dragons with a report on the 2005 Gen Con and an interview with D&D co-creator E. Gary Gygax.
…The appeal of D&D is superficially not very different from the appeal of reading. You start outside something (Middle Earth; Dickens’s London; the fascinating world of mosses and lichens), and you go in, bit by bit. You forget where you are, what time it is, and what you were doing. Along the way, you may have occasion to think, to doubt, or even to learn. Then you come back; your work has piled up; it’s past your bedtime; people may wonder what you have been doing.
Once you set foot inside the cave, however, you see very quickly that D&D is quite different from a book, or movie, or soap opera. For one thing, there are a lot more rules….
(14) A SHORT HISTORY. In “The Hugo ceremony 2020, notes”, Lise Andreasen has extracted the chronology of what happened during this year’s virtual ceremony. Use it the next time you need to find something in the 3-1/2 hour Hugo video.
(16) BLOCH RADIO SERIES. Now back in circulation at Audiophile Archive, two episodes ofRobert Bloch’s Stay Tuned For Terror radio drama series.
As a huge fan of old time radio and Robert Bloch, this series has been my white whale for years. 39 fifteen-minute episodes, all adapted by Bloch himself from his own short stories? Sounds amazing — but unfortunately there’s been no episodes in circulation — until now! Huge thanks to OTR collector/historian David Lennick who discovered two episodes on a disc he got decades ago and was generous enough to send me the programs in WAV.
…Bloch prepared 39 short stories with accompanying radioplay scripts, Johnny Neblett formed his first production company to produce it, and Bloch’s friend Howard Keegan–director of many of the Lights Out productions–signed on to direct the program. Neblett and Berle Adams persuaded Weird Tales Magazine to provide a tie-in to the magazine and promoted the new program as Weird Tales’ Stay Tuned for Terror, so as to leverage Bloch’s considerable fame and popular success with that print publication.
With corrections in a comment by reseacher Karl Schadow:
Enthusiasts of both Robert Bloch and radio horror programs are elated by the posting of this audio, the quality of which is superb. However, the history of this series as presented above contains some factual inaccuracies. For example, individual episodes were recorded at station WBBM and not WMAQ. This is important as producer Johnnie Neblett had established a rapport with WBBM via his first series So The Story Goes which had been broadcast by that station since 1943, the year Neblett Radio Productions was founded. Thus, his firm had been in existence two years prior to the recording and subsequent release of Stay Tuned for Terror.
There was no conspiracy regarding the Wisconsin newspaper radio logs of Stay Tuned for Terror. The series was recorded during the early months of 1945 and released late in the spring of that same year. The newspapers accurately printed details provided to them by Chicago station WMAQ which broadcast the program for thirteen weeks.
Despite the death of Johnnie Neblett in September of 1946, Stay Tuned for Terror continued to be distributed throughout the remainder of the 1940s and into the 1950s by various firms headed by James Doolittle (Craig Dennis), Berle Adams and Rush Hughes. Neblett had sold out his share of the enterprise to James Doolittle in October of 1945….
(18) VIDEO OF THE WEEK. “The Joker: Put On A Happy Face” on YouTube is a 2020 documentary that includes interviews with four actors who played the Joker (Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix) and many writers of Joker scripts, including the Joker’s co-creator, Jerry Robinson, Frank Miller, and Denny O’Neil.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Karl Schadow, Todd Mason, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]
With the Lucasfilm-branded elephant in the room acknowledged, it is even harder to ignore. This is Boyega’s first substantial interview since finishing the franchise – his first since last year’s The Rise Of Skywalker tied a highly contentious, hurried ribbon on the 43-year-old space saga. How does he reflect on his involvement and the way the newest trilogy was concluded?
“It’s so difficult to manoeuvre,” he says, exhaling deeply, visibly calibrating the level of professional diplomacy to display. “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [But] what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.” He is talking about himself here – about the character of Finn, the former Stormtrooper who wielded a lightsaber in the first film before being somewhat nudged to the periphery. But he is also talking about other people of colour in the cast – Naomi Ackie and Kelly Marie Tran and even Oscar Isaac (“a brother from Guatemala”) – who he feels suffered the same treatment; he is acknowledging that some people will say he’s “crazy” or “making it up”, but the reordered character hierarchy of The Last Jedi was particularly hard to take.
“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver,” he says. “You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know fuck all. So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience…’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”
(2) IN PLAIN SIGHT. On June 25 Gollancz (the SF/Fantasy/Horror imprint of Orion Books) released the first three books in McCaffery’s Dragonflight series as audiobooks. Artist Allison Mann noticed something about the art that was used. Thread begins here.
Someone else tweeted a possible source for the art on their Dragonflight audiobook as well.
It sounds like something out of a movie: An American Airlines pilot calls the control tower at Los Angeles International Airport to warn that his plane just flew past someone in midair — a person wearing a jet pack.
But the pilot really did give that warning Sunday night, and it wasn’t laughed off. The FBI is investigating….
JetPack Aviation Corp., based in Van Nuys, says it’s the only one to have developed a jet pack that can be worn like a backpack. The technology is real: Chief Executive David Mayman demonstrated it five years ago by flying around the Statue of Liberty, and his company has created five of them.
So it’s not out of the question that someone could have been soaring above the airport last weekend, giving pilots a scare.
Mayman was quick to say that if a jet pack was involved, it wasn’t one of his. JetPack Aviation keeps its five packs locked down, he said, and they’re not for sale. The company does offer flying lessons at $4,950 a pop, but he said students are attached to a wire and can’t stray too far.
None of the company’s competitors sell their products to consumers either, Mayman said.
The weekend incident “got us all wondering whether there’s been someone working in skunkworks on this,” he said, using a term for a secret project. Or maybe, he mused, the airline pilot saw some kind of electric-powered drone with a mannequin attached.
2020 is one of those years. No, not in that sense (well, obviously in that sense but that’s not what we’re talking about here…). No, 2020 is one of those years that tends to crop up in 20th century science fiction as a key year, a momentous one. A year by which time certain prophecies will have come true.
Back in the seventies, publisher Jerry Pournelle published an anthology book called 2020 Vision, for which he sought contributions from such noted sci-fi authors as Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, and Ben Bova. While some of the predictions, such as robot chefs, deep-space exploration by humans, and, erm, “An adult playground where law is enforced by remote control” haven’t come to pass (unless I’m missing something…) a few did. Several of the stories have mentions of mobile communication technology, while Prognosis: Terminal by David McDaniel posits a future where there is “a gigantic world brain to which everyone is infinitely connected.” Sounds like the internet to me…
…Hiram Epstein, the episode reveals, was a University of Chicago scientist who conducted gruesome experiments on Black children and adults in the basement of the Winthrop House, a decrepit mansion in a white neighborhood that a main character, Leti Lewis, purchases and renovates. His spirit haunts the home, making it unsafe for Leti and her tenants and friends, until an exorcism summons the mutilated bodies of his victims and restores psychic order.
Epstein’s story calls to mind the way that Jews have been accused for centuries of stealing the blood of non-Jewish children to use in religious rituals, often to make matzah for Passover, in what is known as a “blood libel.” The blood libel charge was leveled routinely at Jews beginning in the Middle Ages, and it was used to justify countless deadly pogroms and vigilante actions. A blood libel charge tore apart an upstate New York town in 1928, and the trope featured prominently in Nazi propaganda.
Could “Lovecraft Country,” which deals so elegantly with the Black American experience, really have a blood libel embedded in its plot? On Twitter, I found a single reaction to Hiram Epstein’s name — one that matched my own.
…Scholars who study anti-Semitism had more to say. The plot point “falls right into the category of a new version of the blood libel,” Elissa Bemporad, a scholar of Jewish history at Queens College who recently published a book about blood libels in the Soviet Union, told me. “The name Epstein gives it away. This clearly builds on the blood libel trope and narrative — the question of children as victims of the alleged crime, and the fact that the perpetrator is a man. Anti-Semitism, like racism, is so often gendered.”
The Epstein name isn’t present in the original novel on which the series is based, “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff. There, the ghost that haunts the house Leti buys is named Hiram Winthrop — explaining the mansion’s name — and he isn’t a doctor. (He also isn’t nearly as scary.) The series adds a more recent owner who colluded with local police to facilitate abductions and experimentation.
…But intention is only part of the picture when assessing stereotypes in popular culture, according to Aryeh Tuchman, the associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
“I don’t want to say you can never have a villain in a movie or TV show have a stereotypically Jewish name,” Tuchman said. “But you need to educate yourself. When you’re dealing with a topic that is so fraught as allegations of ritual murder, then to know that these allegations have been leveled against Jews for thousands of years is something you need to pay attention to.”
I’ve recently begun to see an upswing in comments which begin with some variation of “I expect this comment to be deleted/malleted/otherwise expunged, but…” I think this is done for two reasons. About five percent of the time it’s someone genuinely not knowing whether what they’re about to write is going to cross the line with regard to my moderation policies. The rest of the time it’s a warding spell and/or pre-emptive smugness at transgression; either “not in the face!” or “see, I told you.”
Either way I find it passive-aggressive and annoying, so here’s a new guideline I’ve begun implementing: When I see some variation of “I expect this comment to get the Mallet,” I’m going to stop reading the comment there, and will most likely then Mallet the comment — not necessarily because the comment was in itself mallet-worthy (although it might have been, who knows), but simply because I’m a people-pleaser and don’t want to disappoint the person making the comment….
…She encountered many half-Native characters in popular urban fantasy series, but noticed how those characters were divorced from their heritages. “They didn’t interact with the heroes and gods and monsters of Native cultures,” she explains. She says she started thinking: “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a story where a character was very Native? Very attached to her culture and surrounded by brown people, and in a world that I knew?”
She’d been practicing Indian law and living in the Navajo nation with her husband and daughter when she started thinking about writing more seriously. It was at this point that she began working on what would become her debut fantasy, the Locus-winning and Hugo-nominated novel Trail of Lightning (Saga Press), which was published in 2018, when Roanhorse was in her 40s.
“So I just decided to write it. I wrote it purely for myself and for the joy of writing, and to keep myself sane while being a lawyer,” she says. “I didn’t even know people like me could be writers. An editor asked me why I waited so long to start writing, and I said ‘I didn’t know that I could be a science fiction and fantasy writer.’ I didn’t come to see people like Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin until later, so I didn’t see anyone writing this genre that looked like me. So I didn’t even know it was an option.”
(8) WOMEN IN COMICS. When The Society of Illustrators in New York reopens on September 9, one of its exhibits will be “Women in Comics: Looking Forward and Back”. Afua Richardson, a Dublin 2019 Feautured Artist, is one of the many who will have work on display.
Over 50 women cartoonists from vintage comic strips to cutting edge graphic novels explore themes common to the female experience such as love, sexuality, motherhood, creativity, discrimination, and independence. 75 works drawn from the collection of the author and herstorian Trina Robbins show a progression of witty women from the Flapper era to the psychedelic women’s comix of the 1970s…
Building on this foundation, 20 contemporary women cartoonists will be showing work from new or upcoming publications…
(9) EX CATHEDRA. In Episode 35 of their Two Chairs Talking podcast, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss say a sad farewell to John Bangsund, and discuss three quirky films of Terry Gilliam: Time Bandits, Brazil and 12 Monkeys: ?“The gifted grotesqueries of Gilliam”.
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 2013 – NESFA Press published The Road to Amber: Volume 6: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny. It reprinted the first of the Francis Sandow series, “Dismal Light”, published in the May 1986 issue of If, where this character first appears. The story comes before Isle Of Dead, the prequel to To Die in Italbar. (Zelazny would narrate the audiobook version of this as he did Isle of Dead and Home is The Hangman but they were never digitized.) It would also include the not-previously-collected piece in the series, “Sandow’s Shadow (Outline)”.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 2, 1899 — Martin Miller. He played Kublai Khan in the completed erased by the BBC First Doctor story, “Marco Polo.” He’s in the first Pink Panther film as Pierre Luigi, a photographer, and has roles in Danger Man, Department S, The Avengers and The Prisoner. In the latter, he was number Fifty-four in “It’s Your Funeral”. The Gamma People in which he played Lochner is I think his only true genre film. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born September 2, 1911 — Eileen Way. She shows up on Doctor Who twice, first as Old Mother in the First Doctor story, “The Forest of Fear,” and later in a major role as Karela in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Creature from the Pit”. She’d also shows up on the non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. as simply Old Woman at the age of fifty-five. Other genre appearances i think is limited to an appearance on Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond. Well unless you count The Saint which is at best genre adjacent. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born September 2, 1918 – Allen Drury. I came to Advise and Consent long after its years as a NY Times Best Seller; it’s first-rate; it’s moved by 1950s values – what else would people write in 1959? and I don’t read books to be agreed with. Five SF sequels (Advise isn’t SF), a novel about a Mars mission, two about ancient Egypt, a dozen others outside our field, five nonfiction books. Two of the Advise sequels are mutually incompatible, each supposing a different assassination. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born September 2, 1925 — Peter Hunt. He was the Editor, yes Editor, on five of the better Bond films (Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice), and also the much lesser On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He was also responsible for a Gulliver’s Travels and, I’m not kidding about the title, Hyper Sapien: People from Another Star which I’ve never heard of but gets a stellar 75% rating from audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. He directed the title sequence of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born September 2, 1944 – Roland Green, 76. Seventy novels, thirty shorter stories, some with co-authors e.g. wife Frieda Murray. Three dozen reviews in Far Frontiers including Bridge of Birds and Heart of the Comet. One anthology with Bujold, another with Turtledove. Inconsequential SF Tales for the Worldcon bid that won and hosted Chicon 7 (70th Worldcon). [JH]
Born September 2, 1946 — Walter Simonson, 74. Comic writer and artist who’s best known I think for his run on Thor during the Eighties in which he created the character Beta Ray Bill. An odd character that one is. He’s worked for DC and Marvel, and a number of independent companies as well. His artwork on the RoboCop Versus The Terminator that Dark Horse did is amazing. (CE)
Born September 2, 1951 — Mark Harmon, 69. Much better known for his work on NCIS and yes, I’m a fan, but he’s done some genre work down the decades. An early role was as Gacel Sayah in Tuareg: Il guerriero del deserto, a Spanish-Italian pulp film. He was Jack Black in Magic in the Water, and voiced Clark Kent/Superman on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He was in the Wally Schirra in the genre adjacent From the Earth to the Moon miniseries, and shows as Bob Markham in the “Tarzan and The Outbreak” episode of The Legend of Tarzan. (CE)
Born September 2, 1953 – Gary Lippincott, 67. Thirty covers, a score of interiors. Here is the Jan 95 F&SF. Here is Little, Big. Here is “Tori and Friends”. Here is The Prince and the Pauper (M. Mayer adaptation). Artbook Making Magic. Three Chesleys. [JH]
Born September 2, 1955 — Steve Berry, 65. Author of the Cotton Malone series which is either genre or genre adjacent depending on where your personal boundaries fall. There’s five in the series now with the first being The Templar Legacy. He also self-published a Captain America novel, Never Forgotten, and a Star Wars story as well, “Crash Landing”, which makes him a fanfic writer as well. (CE)
Born September 2, 1972 – Justine Musk, 48. In a highly various life she’s written three novels for us, three shorter stories. Taught English as a Second Language in Japan. “Love without power is anemic, as Martin Luther King, Jr., pointed out, and power without love is tyranny…. We *cannot* … dismiss the subject altogether because it is distasteful to us. The point is not to play the same old game, whether we’re buying into it or rebelling against it.” [JH]
Born September 2, 1977 – Fuminori Nakamura, 43. Kenzaburô Ôe Prize for The Thief, called a chilling philosophical novel. Evil and the Mask is ours. A dozen more novels (five translated into English so far), four collections of shorter stories. David Goodis Award. [JH]
(13) BUSIEK, AHMED HAVE STORIES IN SPIDER-MAN MILESTONE ISSUE. Spider-Man reaches another milestone this month with Amazing Spider-Man #850, the latest issue in writer Nick Spencer’s run on the title. The issue features the return of Spider-Man’s greatest villain, the Green Goblin. There’s a trailer for it here.
There will also be a trio of back-up stories by “Spidey legends of past, present and future to drive home that Spider-Man is the greatest character in all of fiction!”
Those back-up tales are by Kurt Busiek, Chris Bachalo, Tradd Moore, Saladin Ahmed, and Aaron Kuder. Amazing Spider-Man #850 hits stands September 30.
The effort to save the Constantinecomic book from cancellation just won a welcome ally; author Neil Gaiman. Not only has Gaiman shared a Change.Org petition regarding the endangered book on his social media, but he has allowed his name to be officially tied to the fan-driven effort to save John Constantine: Hellblazer.
The recent acquisition of Warner Bros. by AT&T has led to widespread turmoil across the entertainment industry. This is particularly true at DC Entertainment, which lost one-third of its staff in the wake of the latest round of lay-offs. This coincided with the cancellation of a number of low-selling titles, including John Constantine: Hellblazer, which had only seen eight issues hit the stands since its premiere in 2019
Despite not having a lengthy run on the original Hellblazer series, Gaiman is still closely associated with the character of John Constantine. Gaiman wrote a one-off story for Hellblazer, “Hold Me,” which was printed in Hellblazer #27 and centered around Constantine trying to put the spirit of a homeless man who froze to death to rest. “Hold Me” is widely considered to be one of the best one-shot stories to feature John Constantine ever written. Gaiman also gave Constantine a prominent role in the first Sandman graphic novel, Preludes and Nocturnes, with Dream of the Endless turning to Constantine for assistance in recovering his magical bag of sand, which Constantine had owned at one time.
(15) DISCOVERING DRESDEN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Similar to my belatedly recentish reading of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series (only one more to go now, I think, waiting for library loan request to be fulfilled), I’d seen references to The Dresden Files — Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books — I hadn’t investigated (read) any until a year or two ago, when a friend recommended them, and lent me one, to prime the pump.
I enjoy this kind of thing in a limited amount, but enjoyed ’em enough to add Dresden to my reading list.
As of yesterday, having finished Peace Talks, the newest, I’m caught up — until the end of this month, when Battle Ground comes out. (I’m like 30th in line on my library’s request queue, so hopefully I’ll get my loan fulfilled by Halloween.)
Harry’s a wizard. Not to be confused with that British kid, either. Dresden is a wizard operating as a PI in Chicago, in a world where there’s magic beings and stuff — fae, vamps, spirits, etc — although most of the world remains unaware of such. Like any PI, Dresden’s cases and other events means that he takes a lot of lumps, to say the least. Like Spenser (and, to be fair, >75% of PIs, it would seem), Dresden is a wise-cracking hard-ass, and he does it well.
If you’re already a Dresden fan, you’ve probably already read this newest book. If you haven’t, you’ll enjoy it. One non-spoiler note, Peace Talks doesn’t wrap up its events, so it’s a good thing Battle Ground is coming out soon.
If you like this kind of stuff, consider ’em. (Start in order, with Storm Front.)
BTW, here’s the video trailer from March 2020 announcement.
(16) REFERENCE DROPPED — FROM A GREAT HEIGHT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the August 29 Financial Times, Guy Chazan interviews Italian astronaut Samantha Christoforetti, who was aboard the International Space Station in 2015.
The expedition her crew joined was number 42 — the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything in Douglas Adams’s classic Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Christoforetti describes the coincidence as ‘awesome.’ An avid Adams fan, she made sure the poster for Expedition 42 was modelled after the one for the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie, while her last tweet from the ISS said ‘So long and thanks for all the fish” — a reference to the message left by the dolphins in Adams’s book when they abandoned a shortly-to-be-demolished Planet Earth.
(17) FUTURE TENSE. The August 2020 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “How to Pay Reparations: a Documentary,” by Tochi Onyebuchi, a story about artificial intelligence, systemic racism, and reparations.
Tochi Onyebuchi’s “How to Pay Reparations” spoke to me. Its themes rang virtually every note of my twentysomething-year-long career. In 1998, I made my first digital footprint with a signed online petition in support of reparations for the Tulsa race riots. I endured countless run-ins with Oklahoma good ol’ boys while crisscrossing the state, working for candidates representing a perpetually losing political party. As an academic, I researched Black politicians and white racial resentment, and testified as an expert in federal court about cases of reverse redlining and housing discrimination. And as a historian of technology, I’ve chronicled—like Onyebuchi—the stories of hope and despair wrought by computing technology on Blackness and Black people, in the service of an ever-triumphant white racial order.
(18) WHAT VASICEK STANDS FOR. Joe Vasicek’s title “White Science Fiction and Fantasy Doesn’t Matter” [Internet Archive] is far from the most hallucinatory claim uttered in his post, which conflates the Worldcon’s awards with the state of the sff field, and adds to a Lost Cause mythology that ignores Vox Day’s central (and Sad Puppy-sanctioned) role in what happened in 2015.
The United States of America is currently engaged in a violent struggle that will determine whether this hyper-racist intersectional ideology will defeat the populist uprising that has its champion in Trump, or whether the country will reject this new form of Marxism and come back from the brink of insanity. But in science fiction and fantasy, the war is already over, and the intersectionalists have won. It is now only a matter of time before they purge the field of everything—and everyone—that is white.
The last chance for the SF&F community to come back from the brink was probably in 2015. The intersectionalists were ascendant, but they hadn’t yet taken over the field. (That happened in 2016, when N.K. Jemisin, an avowed social justice warrior and outspoken champion for anti-white identity politics, won the Hugo Award for best new novel for the next three consecutive years.) A populist uprising within fandom known as the Puppies attempted to push back, and were smeared as racists, sexists, misogynists, homophobes, and Nazis. Whatever your opinion of the Puppies (and there were some bad eggs among them, to be sure), they did not deserve to be silenced, ridiculed, shouted down, and threatened with all manner of violence and death threats for their grievances. After the Puppies were purged, the intersectionalists took over and began to reshape the field in their image.
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer wasn’t renamed the Astounding Award because Campbell was a racist (even though he was). His name was stripped from the award because the people who renamed it are racists—not in the bullshit way the intersectionalists have redefined it, but in the true sense of the word: discrimination based based on race….
Another US Presidential election year, another clash of ideas in Second Life. As has been the case since 2004, the virtual world has recently been festooned with political billboards, much or most of them pro-Trump or anti-Trump — though as with Facebook, it seems like the pro-Trump forces have had the upper hand.
“There was a couple of people setting up lots of mini ad farms for Trump and some places had been plastered in far right slogans and adverts,” SL veteran “0xc0ffea” tells me.
Some commonly trafficked areas in Second Life have devolved into a veritable battle of billboards, with “Re-elect Trump” and other Trump friendly signs such as “Police Lives Matter” having to share the same space with snarky rejoinders like: “Trump/Putin – Make America Hate Again”.
This time, however, Second Life owner Linden Lab responded, updating its policy on virtual world advertising to prohibit ad content that are “political in nature” from the SL mainland, which the company maintains. (This policy does not apply to privately-owned regions and continents.)
Back in college, one of my American Literature professors once argued that the problem with trying to write American gothic fiction is that the country isn’t old enough to have any ruined castles or ancient bloodlines. She had a point, but with ghost stories, you don’t necessarily need ancient history or locales that haven’t changed in hundreds of years. You just need “unfinished business.” A character might die under mysterious circumstances. Foul play is suspected, but the perpetrators are never brought to justice. Or maybe an untimely death stops a character from completing a crucial task or realizing a lifelong goal. In general, something terrible or tragic happens, and the victim of these circumstances suffers so much pain, despair, or outrage that their essence cannot “move on.” A piece of themselves remains—sometimes benign, sometimes dangerous or even murderous.
When a work is labeled a “ghost story,” the reader likely assumes a certain set of tropes—the spectral figure floating through a darkened room or across a foggy landscape; a crumbling, moldy, dank, littered building set on a hill, or on the outskirts of town, or behind a rotting fence; a quirky harbinger of doom who tries to warn the protagonists of the dangers they will soon face; moonlit graveyards; and, perhaps most crucially, a particular history that weighs down the characters with specifically emotional tonnage….
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The other day we introduced some ambience recordings. On Facebook John DeChancie pointed out another one — an hour’s worth of “Spaceship Nostromo Sounds.” Yeah, that will put me perfectly at ease!
In this video you can experience the digital recreation of the USCSS Nostromo from the game Alien Isolation. The main story of Alien Isolation is about Amanda Ripley who is searching for her missing mother Ellen. It takes place 15 years after the first Alien movie and the disappearance of the Nostromo. In the main story you don’t really come in contact with the ship but the DLC “Expandable Crew” lets you play an iconic scene from the first movie which takes place on the Nostromo. This video showcases the interior of that ship including space ship ambience sounds. So try to relax on a ship that might have a Xenomorph on board 🙂
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Rose Embolism, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) ADDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Speculative Fiction in Translation’s Rachel Cordasco renews her appeal that “major Anglophone SFF awards should include a separate translation category” in “SFT And The Awards”.
…Really, all of this comes down to a naming problem. If the Hugos are going to be a “World Award,” logically they should include works from around the world, in any language. Since that doesn’t seem likely any time soon, and Anglophone readers generally don’t learn multiple languages unless they have to, then the award should (again, logically) stop calling itself a “World Award” and start acknowledging that, from the very beginning, it has been and still is an award given to English-language SFF by English-language readers.
….And then there’s the whole set of general arguments opposing, or at least not immediately embracing, a separate translation category. I’ve listed a few below:
We already have too many award categories.
Not enough Anglophone readers read SFT so how could they vote on it?
Creating a separate translation category will send the message that SFT is inferior to Anglophone speculative fiction.
SFT can win and has won awards without any “help.”
But how can we determine if the translation is any good?
Changing award rules is too difficult.
I’m going to address each of these points separately, making sure that I reiterate that I am not involved in any of these awards at the executive level, though I did participate in the most recent Locus Awards voting and was able to bring my knowledge of current SFT to the discussion, which I truly appreciated.
You may also know that I started a “Favorite SFT” poll in 2018, which is open to anyone who would like to vote (once!). This approach has its flaws but it’s the best I can do with the resources I have. Just the fact that the poll exists makes me think that more people are becoming aware that SFT does exist.
To the first point that “we already have too many award categories”: so what? And also, is a translated category somehow less important than the “Young Adult” or “First Novel” category? And to the subpoint that some translated work might win in two categories, can’t that happen with other categories? And aren’t there ways to get around that? I freely admit that I’m not cut out for business meetings and deciding rules about rules- which is one of the reasons why I’m not on these committees. This is just me on a website putting forth my opinions, against which everyone is free to argue. (Just be respectful when you rip me to shreds, ok?)….
…But outside of a stay-at-home crisis, time loops have gained traction in their appeal due to the same themes that made Groundhog Day so popular to begin with. Like the drunken locals that Phil Conners laments to in Punxsutawney, or the fellow wedding guest in the Palm Springs hotel pool talking to Samberg’s Nyles, those existing outside the loop can relate on a visceral level to the experience of feeling like today is the same as yesterday and tomorrow. For Bill Murray, the appeal of Groundhog Day as a script was its representation of people’s fear of change, and how we choose to repeat our daily lives to avoid it. These themes echoed in Russian Doll, which as a bingeable streaming series really allowed audiences to inhabit the repetitive nature of the loops, ironically utilizing the same technologies that have sped our lives up and caused them to feel even more cyclical.
(3) FIYAHCON. I signed up for FIYAHCON (October 17-18) news in time to receive its August Update naming three more guests:
FIYAHCONtweeted additional information: Rebecca Roanhorse: “We suspect you know @RoanhorseBex from all of that constant award-winning she does as a Black + Indigenous writer of many brilliant things.”; Cassie Hart: “is a Maori writer who’s been working intensely behind the scenes to shine a light on SFF from Aotearoa while grinding out an impressive number of works herself.”; Yasser Bahjatt: “chaired the Worldcon bid for Saudi Arabia. And while that didn’t land, we are thrilled to hear more from him about Arabian SFF and other ways we can uplift and celebrate the spec community there.”
The three newcomers join FIYAHCON’s previously announced guests:
She’s boldly going where no one has gone before, but doing so means leaving the people she loves the most. We’ve got the first trailer for Netflix’s Away, a new series that sees Hilary Swank joining the first manned mission to Mars—a three-year journey that will test the limits of its crew, as well as the patience of those who were left behind….
(5) JUST SAYIN’. Jay Blanc tweeted his ideas for improving Hugo administration. Thread starts here. Whether or not he has the solution (and CoNZealand Deputy Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte responded skeptically in the thread), I had to agree with Blanc’s last tweet about what one of the problems is.
He’s not alone in marveling at how many times in the past decade the Hugos have been hamstrung because someone was writing code from scratch. That doesn’t always happen for the same reason. We didn’t always need or want, in the past, a system that integrates all aspects of a member’s digital interaction with the convention. That’s what they’re moving toward, therefore it would make sense for that software to be created and stabilized. Funding it, having the work done and vetted, and working out licensing to the committees (which are entities of their own) would all be part of the mission.
… Because they are voted on primarily by people who were born decades after the original publication dates, the Retro Hugos are less likely to recognize work that has not been reprinted. This means that the average Retro Hugo voter inevitably experiences the works they’re voting on through a filter created by the intervening generations. Other than Erle Korshak, Cora Buhlert, and Gideon Marcus, we’d be hard-pressed to name a Hugo voter who is likely to have read a 1945-era pulp magazine cover-to-cover and experienced the works in something like their original context….
No need to be so “hard-pressed.” You have not because you ask not.
…For the Retro Hugos to be relevant and worthwhile awards, we as members of the World Science Fiction Society need to wrestle with why the awards need to exist. Is their intent to reproduce the racist tastes of the past or can they help focus a critical lens on the history of the genre and help us discover works that might have been overlooked?
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 10, 1951 — Tales Of Tomorrow first broadcast the “Blunder” in which a scientist is warned his experiment with nuclear fission could destroy the earth. Written by Philip Wylie who wrote the screenplay for When Worlds Collide. The primary cast is Robert Allen and Ann Loring. It was directed by Leonard Valenta who otherwise did soap,operas. The original commercials are here as well. You can watch it here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 10, 1902 — Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in the horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1903 — Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents that four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World: “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine“ being two of them. (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1913 — Noah Beery Jr. Genre-wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Beyond Witch Mountain, The Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1931 – Alexis Gilliland, 89. Seven novels, six shorter stories and a Feghoot; Campbell (as it then was) for Best New Writer. Chaired six Disclaves. WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) met at his house for decades. One of our finest fanartists. Four Hugos, three FAAn (FAn Activity Achievement) Awards, Rotsler. Letters, perhaps three hundred cartoons in Alexiad, Algol, Amazing, Analog, Asimov’s, Chunga, Fantasy Review, Flag, Janus, Locus, Mimosa, Pulphouse, SF Eye, SF Commentary, SF Review, SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Bulletin, Star*Line, Worldcon Souvenir Books. Here is a cover for SF Review. See here, here, here. Makes good deviled eggs. [JH]
Born August 10, 1944 — Barbara Erskine, 76. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her? (CE)
Born August 10, 1955 — Eddie Campbell, 65. Best-known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. (CE)
Born August 10, 1955 – Tom Kidd, 65. Eight Chesleys. Artbooks Kiddography, OtherWorlds, How to Draw & Paint Dragons. Three hundred eighty covers, a hundred forty interiors. Here is Not This August. Here is the Oct 83 Fantasy & Science Fiction. Here is Songs of the Dying Earth. Here is Overruled. [JH]
Born August 10, 1962 – Horia Gâbea, Sc.D., 58. Romanian playwright, poet, essayist, novelist, engineer, popularizer of contract bridge. University of Bilbao prize for poetry. The Serpent performed by the British Royal Court Theatre. Translator of Chekhov, Corneille, John D. MacDonald, Machiavelli. Accused of being “gratuitously bookish…. a pun more important than a murder…. thin and edgy like a razor…. forgives no one no thing.” Worlds and Beings anthology in English. [JH]
Born August 10, 1965 — Claudia Christian, 55. Best-known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space Rangers, Highlander, Quantum Leap, Relic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six-episode series shot in ‘05 you can on Amazon Prime. (CE)
Born August 10, 1971 – Lara Morgan, 49. Six novels for us. “Her mission is to rid the world of tea, one cup at a time. This is going quite well.” She liked All Our Yesterdays, alas for me not Harry Warner’s but Cristin Terrill’s; ranked Ender’s Game about the same as Lilith’s Brood. Website here. [JH]
Born August 10, 1985 – Andrew Drilon, 35. A dozen short stories; Philippine Speculative Fiction 9 with Charles Tan; four covers, three dozen interiors; comics. Here is Heroes, Villains, and Other Women. Here is WonderLust. Here is a sequence from his own Whapak! [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side has one about aliens that really brings this cartoon series’ title to mind.
…Round 1 saw Connery knock out current 007 actor Daniel Craig, coming out on top with 56 per cent of the vote compared to Craig’s 43 per cent, while Pierce Brosnan winning Round 2 with 76 per cent against his opponent George Lazenby’s 24 per cent.
Round 3 saw perhaps the most surprising result yet, as Roger Moore was knocked out of the competition – with 41 per cent of the vote, he lost out to his immediate successor Timothy Dalton, who scored 49 per cent of the vote.
At some point, someone decided that Star Trek fans were fanatical about cutlery and all things fine dining, hence the creations of a series of elegant Next Generation spoons.
The high-quality spoons feature the faces of fan-favorite characters such as Captain Picard and Data on the handle of each implement. While nice its almost impossible to imagine anyone actually using these spoons to eat with and the illogical decisions that led to their creation would no doubt befuddle Spock.
As long as there has been spaceflight, there have been conspiracy theories. There were conspiracy theories about Sputnik in the late 1950s (“their Germans are better than our Germans”) and dead cosmonauts in the early 1960s. Even before some people claimed—on the very day that it happened—that the Moon landing was faked, Apollo had its own conspiracy theories. In those days it was difficult for them to propagate and reach a wide audience, unlike today, when they can spread around the world at the speed of light. One of those Apollo conspiracy theories was about a whistleblower named Thomas Baron, who later died under mysterious circumstances.
Baron worked on the Apollo program in Florida for one of the key contractors. After the Apollo 1 fire in early 1967, Baron testified before a congressional fact-finding delegation that went to Florida. He later died under what some people considered to be mysterious circumstances, fueling speculation that he was killed to shut him up. The transcript of his testimony also could not be found by later researchers, which fueled the speculation that somebody was covering up damaging information.
In 1999, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, radio station WAMU in Washington, DC, aired a program about the role of Washington politics in the lunar landing. “Washington Goes to the Moon” was written and produced by Richard Paul and featured interviews with a number of key figures in the story. Paul had decided that the Apollo 1 fire and the subsequent investigations into its cause would be a key focus of the program. In the course of researching the fire, he stumbled upon a document that many believed was long-lost: a transcript of an interview with Thomas Baron, who alleged that there were numerous improper actions taken by his employer, North American Aviation, which was building the spacecraft.
From invading animals to a faulty computer chip worth less than a dollar, the alarmingly long list of close calls shows just how easily nuclear war could happen by mistake.
…All told, there have been at least 22 alarmingly narrow misses since nuclear weapons were discovered. So far, we’ve been pushed to the brink of nuclear war by such innocuous events as a group of flying swans, the Moon, minor computer problems and unusual space weather. In 1958, a plane accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb in a family’s back garden; miraculously, no one was killed, though their free-range chickens were vaporised. Mishaps have occurred as recently as 2010, when the United States Air Force temporarily lost the ability to communicate with 50 nuclear missiles, meaning there would have been no way to detect and stop an automatic launch.
(14) BLOCKHOUSE FOR BLOCKHEADS? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Schultz, in “For Sale: A Cold War Bunker and Missile Silo in North Dakota” on Atlas Obscura, says that tomorrow auctioneers will sell a 50-acre site in North Dakota that housed a missile base loaded with Sprint missiles that were supposed to be the last line of defense against Soviet ICBM’s. The missiles are gone but the buildings are still there, and it’s perfect for a slan shack or future Worldcon bid, or would be an ideal place to conduct fan feuds. What better place to launch verbal missiles than a place that housed real missiles? Plus all the former missile silos are guaranteed to be socially distant from each other!
HALF AN HOUR SOUTH OF the Canadian border, in Fairdale, North Dakota, a hulking concrete structure rises up from the flat fields that surround it. The beige buildings are so prominent on an otherwise pastoral landscape that they could be mistaken for a 20th-century Stonehenge.
(15) I WALK TO THE TREES. In “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George promises a film with “a whole lot of walking. Even the trees walk.”
[Thanks to John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, N., Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michal Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
One of the more exciting publishing developments of recent years has been the increased support for science fiction and fantasy books written by authors of color and featuring diverse protagonists and world-building based on non-Western mythology and history. Writers like N. K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Cadwell Turnbull have been expanding the ways traditional tropes can be extended or subverted to address issues like marginalization, colonialism, and sexual violence, while delivering thrilling stories steeped in magic. Here are eight of our favorite recent sci-fi and fantasy novels by Black authors; for a more exhaustive list of reading suggestions, visit our Black History Month page.
A Vermont federal judge is taking Netflix on a journey where the First Amendment won’t immediately protect the streamer. On Tuesday, Netflix failed in its first efforts to escape a lawsuit brought by the trademark owner of “Choose Your Own Adventure” over the 2018 immersive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Chooseco LLC, a children’s book publisher, filed its complaint in January 2019. According to the plaintiff, it has been using the mark since the 1980s and has sold more than 265 million copies of its Choose Your Own Adventure books. 20th Century Fox holds options for movie versions, and Chooseco alleges that Netflix actively pursued a license. Instead of getting one, Netflix released Bandersnatch, which allows audiences to select the direction of the plot. Claiming $25 million in damages, Chooseco suggested that Bandersnatch viewers have been confused about association with its famous brand, particularly because of marketing around the movie as well as a scene where the main character — a video game developer — tells his father that the work he’s developing is based on a Choose Your Own Adventure book….
(4) FRESH TOWELS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Back in 1979 at the Brighton Worldcon Christopher Reeve said that while he was appreciative of people voting overall and Superman winning the Hugo for Best Dramatic presentation, clearly those here in the hall wanted Hitch-hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy…
As far as we can tell, and based on this trailer, The Iron Mask has nothing to do with that Leonardo DiCaprio movie from the ’90s. It is, however, the kind of movie that has something for everyone—and a whole lot of it. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a mustachioed bad guy of vague European descent (Russia…?). Jackie Chan has long, glorious silver hair and ridicules Schwarzenegger, who yells things like “IT’S THE TOWAH!” and we’re supposed to understand that this tower is very important. Also Jason Flemyng is there, and he’s a cartographer, or so the official synopsis tells us. Charles Dance is involved because this is a movie that checks all his boxes: period, British, wacky fantasy with dragons and shit, and Schwarzenegger. (Wait. Is this actually one of the movies from Last Action Hero?)…
… This conservativeness permeates every system of algorithmic inference: search for a refrigerator or a pair of shoes and they will follow you around the web as machine learning systems “re-target” you while you move from place to place, even after you’ve bought the fridge or the shoes. Spend some time researching white nationalism or flat earth conspiracies and all your YouTube recommendations will try to reinforce your “interest.” Follow a person on Twitter and you will be inundated with similar people to follow. Machine learning can produce very good accounts of correlation (“this person has that person’s address in their address-book and most of the time that means these people are friends”) but not causation (which is why Facebook constantly suggests that survivors of stalking follow their tormentors who, naturally, have their targets’ addresses in their address books).
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 12, 1940 — The Adventures Of Superman radio serial first aired with “The Baby From Krypton” episode. It first started on WOR in New York on this date and the radio serial would air on various networks though 1951. In all, 2,088 original episodes of the show aired on American radio. Bud Collyer played Clark Kent and of course Superman with Joan Alexander being Lois Lane, Batman even appeared when Bud Collyer needed vacation time and he was performed by Stacy Harris. It was sponsored by Kellogg’s Pep Cereal. It finished fourth in the Retro Hugo voting For Short Form video Hugo presented at MidAmeriCon II at Kansas City. You can listen to this episode here.
February 12, 1981 — Escape from Galaxy 3 (original title Giochi erotici nella terza galassia also known as Starcrash II, keep that in mind for a minute please) premiered. Directed by Ben Norman and produced by Dino Mangogno, this Italian film starred Sherry Buchanan, Fausto Di Bella, Don Powell, Chris Avram, Attilio Dottesio and Max Turilli. The film is infamous for using stock footage from Starcrash for all its model scenes. No, it didn’t get a great reception. Creature Feature said that it was “chintzy, had unconvincing, anemic acting and silly sound effects.” The reviewers over at Rotten Tomatoes haven’t bothered to rate it yet, but most of the Amazon reviewers who bought the VHS tape give it just one star. You of course can watch it for free here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 12, 1920 — Louis Russell Chauvenet. Member of First Fandom, and a founder of the Boston’s Strangers Club which ran the first Boskones. He’s credited with coining the term “fanzine” and may have also coined “prozine” as well. He published a number of zines from the later Thirties to the early Sixties. (Died 2003.)
Born February 12, 1929 — Donald Kingsbury, 91. He’s written three novels (Courtship Rite, The Moon Goddess and the Son and Psychohistorical Crisis) that could be akin to the Asimov’s Foundation novels. Clute at EOSF says that the Asimov estate explicitly refused him permission to set Psychohistorical Crisis in the Foundation universe.
Born February 12, 1933 — Juanita Ruth Coulson, 87. She’s best known for her Children of the Stars series. She was a longtime co-editor of the Yandro fanzine, and she’s a filker of quite some renown. Yandro won Best Hugo at Loncon II in 1965.
Born February 12, 1942 — Terry Bisson, 78. He’s best known for his short stories including “Bears Discover Fire,” which won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award and “They’re Made Out of Meat”. His genre novels includes Talking Man, Wyrldmaker and a rather cool expansion of Galaxy Quest into novel form.
Born February 12, 1945 — Maud Adams, 75. Best remembered for being two different Bond girls, first for being in The Man with the Golden Gun where she was Andrea Anders, and as the title character in Octopussy. She shows up a few years later uncredited in a third Bond film, A View to Kill, as A Woman in Fisherman’s Wharf Crowd.
Born February 12, 1945 — Gareth Daniel Thomas. His best known genre role was as of Roj Blake on Blake’s 7 for the first two series of that British show. He also had a minor role in Quatermass and the Pit, and had one-offs in The Avengers, Star Maidens, Hammer House of Horror, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, Tales of the Unexpected, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and Torchwood. (Died 2016.)
Born February 12, 1954 — Stu Shiffman. To quote Mike in his post, he was “The renowned fan artist, who generously shared his talents in fanzines, apas and convention publications, received the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 and the Rotsler Award in 2010.” You can read Mikes’ gracious full post on him here. (Died 2014.)
Born February 12, 1960 — Laura Miller, 60. Author of an essay whose title tickles me to the end: “It’s Philip Dick’s World, We Only Live In It“. Originally appearing in the New York Times, 24 November 2002, it was reprinted in PKD Otaku, #9 which you can download here.
(10) THE PERSON IN THE GRAY FLANNEL POWER SUIT. An infographic
video answers the question, “How do
exoskeletons impact the workplace?”
Since 1965, when the first exoskeleton was produced for military use, exoskeletons have been increasingly popular in the manufacturing world, supporting workers and improving the quality of their working hours.
In 2018 more than 7,000 units were sold in manufacturing (ABI Research data), but the potential market need would be 60,000 units for all types of exoskeleton, with an estimated growth rate of more than 50% from 2019 to 2024. A trend that, taking into account the increasing average age of population in industrialized countries, could grow again.
Although some of the work in factories is automated, human input is still crucial and remains at the heart of many operations, including value-added and repetitive ones, but which require a high level of precision: for example, a worker lifts his arm 4,600 times a day, almost a million times a year to perform some tasks.
For example, in wearable robotic technologies that support workers in their jobs, the MATE passive technology exoskeleton, which does not require batteries or motors, provides postural support that follows the movements of the arms without resistance or misalignment. This generates a 30% reduction in stress on the main shoulder muscles….
As America’s craft beer industry continues to boom, the waste it generates can pose challenges for sewer systems. But if it’s used in the right spot, in the right amount, it’s potentially beneficial and can actually save wastewater treatment plants money.
In Bozeman, Mont., the Water Reclamation Facility treats more than 6 million gallons of water every day from sinks, showers, toilets — really anything that goes down a drain. That includes liquid waste from more than 10 breweries in this city of nearly 50,000.
Because it’s rich in yeast, hops and sugar, brewery waste can throw off the microbes that wastewater plants rely on to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. The two nutrients can cause algae blooms in rivers and kill off fish.
“But if we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” engineering consultant Coralynn Revis says.
Revis led a pilot project here last summer to try to do just that. Bozeman worked with a local brewery to feed its beer waste to the treatment plant’s bacteria at just the right time in just the right dosage.
“This is super simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier,” Revis explained.
US and German intelligence services secretly gathered the classified communications of governments for decades through secret control of an encryption company, reports say.
Swiss firm Crypto AG supplied encoding devices to more than 120 governments from the Cold War era up to the 2000s.
But the spies reportedly rigged the devices so they could crack the codes and read the messages.
They harvested secrets from countries including Iran, India and Pakistan.
The highly-classified programme between the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Germany’s BND Federal Intelligence Service has been detailed in reports by US newspaper the Washington Post, German broadcaster ZDF and Swiss channel SRF.
The outlets gained access to a classified internal CIA history that called the operation the “intelligence coup of the century”.
A German man’s marriage proposal has been captured in an aerial picture used by Google Maps, to the surprise of him and his fiancée.
Part-time farmer Steffen Schwarz spelled out the words “Will you marry me?” in German in a field of corn, according to local media reports.
The 32-year-old then got his girlfriend to fly a drone over the field last year, revealing the romantic message.
But his proposal got a bigger audience than he had planned.
Mr Schwarz told local media that he had no idea his proposal had appeared on the popular mapping service until he was alerted by an aunt in Canada who sent him a screenshot.
The proposal, which he spelled out using a seeding machine, extends across the entire width of the almost two-hectare (five-acre) field in Huettenberg, central Germany.
[Thanks to JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Andrew
Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Daniel
Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall