Uncanny Magazine has named Meg Elison as their new Nonfiction Editor. She takes over from Elsa Sjunneson, who stepped down after Uncanny Magazine Issue 42 to focus on other career opportunities.
Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her debut, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick award. She is a Hugo, Nebula, and Otherwise awards finalist. In 2020, she published her first collection, Big Girl with PM Press, containing the Locus Award-winning novelette, The Pill. Elison’s first young adult novel, Find Layla was published in 2020 by Skyscape. Her thriller, Number One Fan, will be released by Mira Books in 2022.
Uncanny Magazine co-Editor-in-Chief/co-Publisher Lynne M. Thomas noted:
After an exhaustive search with a deep pool of applicants, Uncanny Magazine has chosen Meg Elison as the new Uncanny Magazine Nonfiction Editor. We were extremely impressed with Meg’s experience, preparedness, communication style, and vision for the position. We are certain that she will continue Uncanny’s tradition of publishing provocative, thoughtful, passionate essays.
Uncanny Magazine has also announced the promotion of current Assistant Editor Naomi Day to the newly created position of Senior Assistant Editor. Naomi started as Uncanny Magazine’s Assistant Editor with issue 37.
Naomi Day is a queer Black woman who primarily writes short Afro-centric futurist fiction, and her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review and The Seventh Wave. She is part of the Clarion West class of 2020/22.
Finally, Monte Lin will be the new Uncanny Magazine Assistant Editor. Lin edits and plays tabletop roleplaying games and writes short stories. Clarion West got him to write about dying universes, dreaming mountains, and singularities made of anxieties. He can be found tweeting Doctor Who news, Asian American diaspora discourse, and his board game losses at @Monte_Lin.
The 41st issue of Uncanny Magazine winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on September 7.
Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 42nd issue of their five-time Hugo Award-winning online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Uncanny Magazine. Stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. As always, Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture, along with a Parsec Award-winning monthly podcast featuring a story, poem, and interview from that issue.
All of Uncanny Magazine’s content will be available in eBook versions on the day of release from Weightless Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. Subscriptions are always available through Amazon Kindle and Weightless Books. The free online content will be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and half on October 5.
“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
“Imagining Futures: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” by Elsa Sjunneson
“Mulberry and Owl” by Aliette de Bodard (9/7)
“On a Branch Floating Down the River, a Wren Is Singing” by Betsy Aoki (9/7)
“Onward” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (9/7)
“If the Martians Have Magic” by P. Djèlí Clark (10/5)
“Down in the Aspen Hollow” by Kristiana Willsey (10/5)
“Six Fictions About Unicorns” by Rachael K. Jones (10/5)
“The Giants of the Violet Sea” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (10/5)
“Suddenly Sci-Fi: When Real Life Turns Unreal” by Sarah Kuhn (9/7)
“Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor Is a Space Unicorn (And We’re Going to Miss Her When She’s Gone)” by Tansy Rayner Roberts (9/7)
“Expanding Our Empathy Sphere Using F&SF, a History” by Ada Palmer (10/5)
“Humour, Genre & the One True Quest for a Missing Pillar” by Shiv Ramdas (10/5)
“amorous advice for the ocean-oriented” by Chiara Situmorang (9/7)
“The Captain Flies” by Avi Silver (9/7)
“Áhàméfùla” by Uche Ogbuji (10/5)
“Map-Making” by Kristian Macaron (10/5)
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (9/7)
Eugenia Triantafyllou interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (10/5)
Episode 42A (9/7): Editors’ Introduction, “Mulberry and Owl” by Aliette de Bodard, as read by Joy Piedmont, “The Captain Flies” by Avi Silver, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Aliette de Bodard.
Episode 42B (10/5): Editors’ Introduction, “If the Martians Have Magic” by P. Djèlí Clark, as read by Matt Peters, “Map-Making” by Kristian Macaron, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing P. Djèlí Clark.
Tom started out in comics by interning for both DC and Marvel, where he was an assistant to X-Men writer Chris Claremont. After his comics-inspired debut novel A Once Crowded Sky was published in 2013, and after a stint in the CIA, he went on to write Batman and Mister Miracle for DC, The Vision for Marvel, and many other projects, which won him an Eisner Award in 2018 for Best Writer. Plus — and I only realized this while taking note of comic artist Joe Giella’s recent 93rd birthday — we’ve both written Supergirl stories — 43 years apart! But that’s not the only commonality to our comics careers, as you’ll soon hear.
We discussed the two questions no one in comics can answer, his attempt at age 11 to get a job at Archie Comics, how he goes back to the beginning when writing a classic character such as Supergirl, whether Alan Moore would have had the impetus to create Watchmen in today’s environment, our dealings with comic book censorship, the weird way Monica Lewinsky caused him not to get hired by MAD magazine, the differences we discovered early on between Marvel and DC, what he learned as an intern to the legendary Chris Claremont, the Black Knight pitch he got paid for which was never published, the way comic book people are like circus folk, why the current state of Krypto proves I could never go back to writing comics, and much more.
(2) WORDPLAY IN ANNIE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Historically, the bad guys in the Annie comics have had names ranging from more-or-less backwards, to descriptive ones. (Sorry, can’t think of or find examples off the top of my head nor thru brief web search, no time to walk over to L/O/A books in bedroom bookshelf…) (The names in Dick Tracy are no slouch, neither.) Currently Annie features a villain called “Bandy Dessinay”… and if that sounds familiar:
Bandes dessinées (singular bande dessinée; literally ‘drawn strips’), abbreviated BDs and also referred to as Franco-Belgian comics (BD franco-belge), are comics that are usually originally in the French language and created for readership in France and Belgium.
As for why I recognized the rephoneticized term, it’s mostly from the year or three that I was subscribing to ComiXology Unlimited (their streaming digital comic book offering), where Bandes Dessinées was often one of the group/type categories along with (something like, IIRC) issues, series, collections.
Interestingly (at least, I think so), “Annie has appeared in the Dick Tracy comic strip after Little Orphan Annie was discontinued.” according to the Pigtails in Paint article on “Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie”.
Pogo fans will, of course, remember Albert Alligator and Beauregard Frontenac Bugleboy III (“The Faithful Dog”) (or perhaps Ponce de Leon Montgomery County Alabama Georgia Beauregard Possum, per a different web site) periodically gearing up as “Little Arfin’ Lulu,” with (his) eyes “all blunked out” and Sandy.
(3) PAPERBACK SHOW RETURNS. March 20, 2022 will be the date for the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show. The 42nd edition of the show (which had to skip 2021) will take place as usual at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, in Glendale, California.
(4) SHARPSON REVIEWED. [Item by Olav Rokne.] “The Future Refusing To Be Born” at TheHugo Book Club Blog. I keep thinking about the book, and how the author ties rejection of modernity (nostalgia) to authoritarianism. Definitely think that Sharpson will end up on my personal ballot for the Astounding Award based on this book.
In Neil Sharpson’s debut novel When The Sparrow Falls, that place is The Caspian Republic: a country founded by expatriate American and Russian bioconservative activists, whose boundaries are roughly those of present-day Azerbaijan.
While the rest of the world has embraced an almost-singularitarian future of AI-guided mass prosperity, near immortality, and widespread expansive human rights, this Caspian Republic has hewed to a quasi-religious “Humanity First” doctrine and polices the use of technology.
…Sharpson’s prose is sparse, clear, and engaging. He ably paints a picture of a deeply flawed society, and one that is the all-too-believable result of nostalgia-driven politics and identity-driven ideology. Because the Caspian Republic’s technology is pretty much limited to what was common in North America in the 1980s, readers will be reminded of late-era Cold War spy stories….
Lem’s centenary is being celebrated in Poland as the Year of Lem, and now Vienna, the writer’s home in the 1980s, has joined in, staging a series of musical events collectively dubbed the Lem Festival.
Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute (IAM) is the driving force behind the project, in co-operation with the ImPuls Tanz festival and the Klangforum Wien ensemble.
During the events, which run through the end of July, dancers and musicians are expected to invite audiences “to reflect on the possibility of communication with ‘the Alien,'” according to the Polish institute.
This is because, a century after Lem was born, and following the NASA rover’s landing on Mars, this question has again become our civilisation’s most pressing problem, the organisers have said….
(6) THEY MADE IT. The Uncanny Kickstarter hit its initial funding goal – now they start work on the stretch goals.
JASON SIZEMORE: Do you and Levar Burton hang out? Talk a little about the process of working with Mr. Burton and hearing your words narrated by Mr. Reading Rainbow?
BONNIE JO STUFFLEBEAM: What an experience! I got an unexpected email from Julia Smith, the producer of LeVar Burton Reads, inviting me to be LeVar’s featured writer at his live Dallas event for my story “In the City of Martyrs.” I had no idea that this was an email that one could get, so I was immediately ecstatic to both appear live and to have my story appear on the podcast. The night of the show, I got to meet Julia and LeVar, both amazing and talented professionals, then got to hear LeVar read my story to musical accompaniment. After the reading, we did a Q&A with LeVar and then with the audience.
What I remember most from the event was LeVar’s generosity; he offered to meet-and-greet the very large group of people who came to support me. Also, the audience questions for the Q&A were perceptive as hell. The audience was clearly full of serious readers, and I’m not sure there’s a better feeling than to be surrounded by people who share that passion. Then, of course, there was the magic of hearing my short story read by a man whose voice I grew up listening to. Normally, I can’t divorce the reading of my own stories from the fact that I wrote them, but hearing LeVar read my work with a balalaika setting the story’s mood throughout, I got goosebumps.
…However, Disney pushed back hard against Johansson’s arguments. In a statement issued to Yahoo Finance, the media giant said, “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”…
“They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” Lourd, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency said in a statement. Lourd represents some of Hollywood’s biggest stars besides Johansson, such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Disney did not respond to requests for comment on Lourd’s statement….
“Scarlett has been Disney’s partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions,” Lourd said. “The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of.”
(9) BLUE ORIGIN TRIES TO REVIVE NASA’S INTEREST. Blue Origin says it’s willing to cover $2 billion of the cost for a second lunar lander contract, should NASA award one. In a July 26th letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said his company is willing to waive up to $2 billion in payments over the current and next two government fiscal years in exchange for a fixed-priced contract. In April, NASA selected SpaceX as the recipient of its Human Landing System (HLS) contract, a decision that competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics protested shortly after. The full letter is at the link, here are some excerpts:
Blue Origin is committed to building a future where millions of people live and work in space to benefit the Earth….
This is why Blue Origin answered NASA’s urgent call to develop a Human Landing System. We built the National Team – with four major partners and more than 200 small and medium suppliers in 47 states – to focus on designing, building, and operating a flight system the nation could count on. NASA invested over half a billion dollars in the National Team in 2020-21, and we performed well. The team developed and risk-reduced a safe, mass-efficient design that could achieve a human landing in 2024.
Our approach is designed to be sustainable for repeated lunar missions and, above all, to keep our astronauts safe. We created a 21st-century lunar landing system inspired by the well-characterized Apollo architecture — an architecture with many benefits. One of its important benefits is that it prioritizes safety. As NASA recognized, the National Team’s design offers a “comprehensive approach to aborts and contingencies [that] places a priority on crew safety throughout all mission phases.”
Unlike Apollo, our approach is designed to be sustainable and to grow into permanent, affordable lunar operations. Our lander uses liquid hydrogen for fuel. Not only is hydrogen the highest-performing rocket fuel, but it can also be mined on the Moon. That feature will prove essential for sustained future operations on the Moon and beyond.
From the beginning, we designed our system to be capable of flying on multiple launch vehicles, including Falcon Heavy, SLS, Vulcan, and New Glenn. The value of being able to fly on many different launch vehicles cannot be over-stated…
Yet, in spite of these benefits and at the last minute, the Source Selection Official veered from the Agency’s oft-stated procurement strategy. Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the Agency chose to confer a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar head start to SpaceX. That decision broke the mold of NASA’s successful commercial space programs by putting an end to meaningful competition for years to come….
(10) TED LEWIN (1935-2021). Illustrator and writer of children’s books Ted Lewin died July 28. Jane Yolen paid tribute on Facebook.
Heartbroken–this says it all. Ted and [his wife] Betsy were dear friends for many years and Ted illustrated David’s only children’s book (HIGH RIDGE GOBBLER) and a bunch of mine, Several of his originals for the books decorate my dining room. I see them everyday. Ted was a lovely, lovely man, a wonderful storyteller, who brought much beauty to the world.
Ted Lewin illustrated over 200 books, winning a 1994 Caldecott Honor for Peppe The Lamplighter. A number of these were done in collaboration with his wife, Betsy.
As a young man who wanted to go to art school at the Pratt Institute, he earned money to finance his education by taking a summer job as a professional wrestler – the beginning of a fifteen year part-time career that eventually inspired his autobiographical book I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler.
Lewin’s professional honors also include a Silver Medal in the Society of Illustrators Annual Show (2007), and he and Betsy were inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2015. [Click below for larger image.]
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1987 – In July of 1987, Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks was published by Ace Books. It would win a Locus Best First Novel Award and be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. This urban fantasy would get its own trailer courtesy of Will Shetterly who financed it instead of running for Governor. You’ll no doubt recognize many of the performers here as some of them are from Minnesota fandom. Decades later, it was scheduled to have a hardcover edition from Tor Books but it got canceled after the books were printed. (They were printed. I have a signed one here.) And the music in War for The Oaks would later be done by Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull and other members of fandom with lyrics by John Ford, Steven Brust and others.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 30, 1927 — Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s exemplary Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.)
Born July 30, 1947 — John E. Stith, 74. Winner of two HOMer Awards, given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum on CompuServe, for Redshift Rendezvous and Naught for Hire. The former would be nominated for a Nebula as well. The HOMer Awards ended in about 2000.
Born July 30, 1947 — Arnold Schwarzenegger, 74. Terminator franchise, of course, as well as Running Man, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, Tales from the Crypt and True Lies. Apparently in sort of announced Conan and Terminator reboots. Though I think that’s more rumor than reality.
Born July 30, 1948 — Carel Struycken, 73. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams Family, Addams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film though I’ve seen it twice. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen.
Born July 30, 1966 — Jess Nevins, 55. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he also wrote fiction ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident.
Born July 30, 1966 — Jason Watkins, 55. His first genre role was William Herrick in Being Human. He’s also had a recurring role on Dirk Gentely as DI Gilks. And he voiced Captain Orchis on Watership Down. Naturally, he’s been in Doctor Who, specifically as Webly in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Nightmare in Silver”. He showed up in The Golden Compass as Bolvangar Official.
Born July 30, 1970 — Christopher Nolan, 51. Writer, producer and often director as well of the latest Batman film franchise, The Prestige, Interstellar, Inception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work. His latest, Tenet, has been nominated for a Hugo this year.
Born July 30, 1975 — Cherie Priest, 46. Her Southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these? She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Frank and Ernestshows the judge throwing the book at an unexpected traffic offender.
(14) GET YOUR ANSWERS READY. Your hosts for Science Fiction 101 podcast are Phil Nichols of the Bradburymedia website, who is also known for the Bradbury 100 podcast and the Bradbury 101 YouTube channel; and Colin Kuskie of the Take Me To Your Reader podcast. Episode 7, “We Goes There”, features a sci-fi quiz.
Advance publicity for the Marble Arch Mound — London’s newest visitor attraction — suggested that an Arcadian landscape would be created in the middle of the city, with spectacular views over Hyde Park.
A huge artificial hill, over 80 feet high, would rise at one end of Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping district. Costing around 2 million pounds, or about $2.7 million, design renderings suggested that it would be covered in lush trees and that visitors would be able to climb to the top — and “feel a light breeze” against their skin.
The hill was part of a £150 million plan by Westminster Council to lure visitors back into the center of the city after the pandemic. In May, Time Out, London’s main listings magazine, described it as “visually arresting/bonkers.”
The reality has turned out to be somewhat different. Since opening on Monday, the mound has been widely mocked online as more of a folly than a dream — a pile of blocky scaffolding covered in patches of vegetation that look in danger of slipping off, and that it isn’t even high enough to look over the trees into Hyde Park….
A commenter on the article said:
To be fair to Westminster City Council that spot has become increasingly difficult to manage, with the combination effect of a long record of unplanned and haphazard development accumulating to create serious problems.
Obviously, the confluence of ley lines and faerie roads there lead to that being the natural place for the portal to Avalon, which in turn attracted the gate into Narnia. But, installing the secret entrance to Q branch’s main workshop so close to both the back door to the Ministry of Magic and unquiet spirits of Tyburn Tree was asking for trouble, and probably meant spatio-temporal subsidence would inevitably produce The Rift.
Although finding a more plausible way to conceal the essential interdimensional-engineering work needed might have been better, it can be argued that attracting widespread ridicule with this hill has provided the sort of smokescreen that was wanted more cost-effectively.
We probably shouldn’t rush to judgement, and wait for the official paperwork to be declassified and released under the 5,000-year rule.
If you’re homeless and looking for temporary shelter in Hawaii’s capital, expect a visit from a robotic police dog that will scan your eye to make sure you don’t have a fever.
That’s just one of the ways public safety agencies are starting to use Spot, the best-known of a new commercial category of robots that trot around with animal-like agility.
The handful of police officials experimenting with the four-legged machines say they’re just another tool, like existing drones and simple wheeled robots, to keep emergency responders out of harm’s way as they scout for dangers. But privacy watchdogs — the human kind — warn that police are secretly rushing to buy the robots without setting safeguards against aggressive, invasive or dehumanizing uses.
In Honolulu, the police department spent about $150,000 in federal pandemic relief money to buy their Spot from robotics firm Boston Dynamics for use at a government-run tent city near the airport.
“Because these people are houseless it’s considered OK to do that,” said Jongwook Kim, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. “At some point it will come out again for some different use after the pandemic is over.”…
Cat owners who love to take pictures of their furry friends now have a new excuse to pull out their smartphones and take a snapshot: it may actually help the cat.
A Calgary, Alberta, animal health technology company, Sylvester.ai, has developed an app called Tably that uses the phone’s camera to tell whether a feline is feeling pain.
The app looks at ear and head position, eye-narrowing, muzzle tension, and how whiskers change, to detect distress. A 2019 study published in peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports found that the so-called ‘feline grimace scale,’ or FGS, is a valid and reliable tool for acute pain assessment in cats….
In what can only be considered a triumph for all robot-kind, this week, a federal court has ruled that an artificially intelligent machine can, in fact, be an inventor—a decision that came after a year’s worth of legal battles across the globe.
The ruling came on the heels of a years-long quest by University of Surrey law professor Ryan Abbot, who started putting out patent applications in 17 different countries across the globe earlier this year. Abbot—whose work focuses on the intersection between AI and the law—first launched two international patent filings as part of The Artificial Inventor Project at the end of 2019. Both patents (one for an adjustable food container, and one for an emergency beacon) listed a creative neural system dubbed “DABUS” as the inventor.
The artificially intelligent inventor listed here, DABUS, was created by Dr. Stephen Thaler, who describes it as a “creativity engine” that’s capable of generating novel ideas (and inventions) based on communications between the trillions of computational neurons that it’s been outfitted with. Despite being an impressive piece of machinery, last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that an AI cannot be listed as the inventor in a patent application—specifically stating that under the country’s current patent laws, only “natural persons,” are allowed to be recognized. Not long after, Thaler sued the USPTO, and Abbott represented him in the suit….
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol,” Fandom Games says this game will take you back to the ’90s (remember Scholastic book fairs? All-denim outfits?) and will “tickle your nostalgia nose” but still frustrate you even though you’re not a teenager any more, but have kids and a mortgage.
(21) TINGLING BULLETINS AS THEY BREAK. Chuck Tingle told Facebook followers today that the music rights holders withdrew their complaints three days ago, but Twitter still hasn’t done doodly about restoring his account.
first off POWER OF LOVE IS STRONG with help of some true buckaroos behind scenes (who i will thank when this is all over and direct you to their websites and other ways) AND ALSO with help of all buckaroos on social media: SONY MUSIC and IFPI have decided to withdraw their copyright complaints and say ‘okay just take them down lets trot on you can have your account back’ which is HUGE DEAL. SO THANK YOU SO MUCH THIS PROVES LOVE IS REAL. also even though this situation is frustrating for chuck i must say sincere thank you to sony and ifpi this was a choice they made to do right thing by chuck in the name of the buckaroo lifestyle. so thank you everyone (with more thanks to come)
this happened THREE DAYS ago and twitter was notified. since then twitter has not responded to any methods of contact from chuck or sam rand or manager of chuck. chuck remains suspended with no way of contacting them that does not get automated response even though fact of the matter is:
THERE IS NO REASON FOR CHUCK TINGLE TWITTER TO BE SUSPENDED AT THIS POINT i do not have copyright infringement marks anymore or any other infractions. i have sent message to say ‘can you tell WHY my account is still suspended even after you said it would be better if i fixed these issues?’ and no response.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
On day one they’ve raised over $10,000 of their initial $18,700 goal.
“Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, and provocative nonfiction, with a deep investment in our diverse SF/F culture,” says Lynne. “We publish intricate, experimental stories and poems with verve and vision, from writers from every conceivable background. With the hard work of the best staff and contributors in the world,Uncanny Magazine has delivered everything as promised (or is in the middle of delivery) with our Years One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven Kickstarters. This year, the magazine has been recognized as a Hugo Award finalist, four stories have been recognized as Hugo Award finalists, four stories have been recognized as Nebula Award finalists, and two stories plus the editors-in-chief have been recognized as World Fantasy Award finalists. We are deeply honored and grateful.”
Michael adds, “We couldn’t have done all of this without the amazing support of our Kickstarter community, who we call the Space Unicorn Ranger Corps after our logo mascot. This is also their magazine; their support makes it possible for us to make all of this amazing content available for free on our website. We still feel Uncanny‘s mission is important, especially in these times. And hopefully, we will meet the stretch goals and be able to offer additional flash fiction stories this year.”
For Year Eight, Uncanny has solicited original short fiction from Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award-winning and nominated authors and bestselling authors including: Maurice Broaddus, Rae Carson, John Chu, C.L. Clark, S.B. Divya, A.T. Greenblatt, Carlos Hernandez, Steven Graham Jones, Fonda Lee, Maureen McHugh, C.L. Polk, Kelly Robson, and John Wiswell.There will also be numerous slots for unsolicited submissions.
Uncanny Magazine Year Eight plans to showcase original essays by Keidra Chaney, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Gay Haldeman, Jim C. Hines, Jeannette Ng, Greg Pak, and Rebecca Romney, plus poetry by Linda D. Addison, Tenille K Campbell, Millie Ho, Ewen Ma, Brandon O’Brien, Terese Mason Pierre, and Dominik Parisien.
And if they get the support, after they hit the initial target here’s what comes next:
$27,700 – Pay our submissions editors a modest stipend
$31,700 – A Flash Fiction story added to each issue!
Uncanny Magazine issues are published as eBooks (MOBI, PDF, EPUB) bimonthly on the first Tuesday of that month through all of the major online eBook stores. Each issue contains 5-6 new short stories, a reprinted story, 4 poems, 4 nonfiction essays, and 2 interviews, at minimum.
Material from half an issue is posted for free on Uncanny’s website (built by Clockpunk Studios) once per month, appearing on the second Tuesday of every month (uncannymagazine.com). Uncanny also produces a monthly podcast with a story, poem, and original interview. Subscribers and backers will receive the entire double issue a month before online readers.
The 41st issue of Uncanny Magazine winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on July 6
Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 41st issue of their five-time Hugo Award-winning online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Uncanny Magazine. Stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. As always, Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture, along with a Parsec Award-winning monthly podcast featuring a story, poem, and interview from that issue.
All of Uncanny Magazine’s content will be available in eBook versions on the day of release from Weightless Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. Subscriptions are always available through Amazon Kindle and Weightless Books. The free online content will be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and half on August 3.
“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
“Imagining Futures: Reading to a Better World” by Elsa Sjunneson
“The Wishing Pool” by Tananarive Due (7/6)
“The Graveyard” by Eleanor Arnason (7/6)
“Diamond Cuts” by Shaoni C. White (7/6)
“Presque vue” by Tochi Onyebuchi (8/3)
“Immortal Coil” by Ellen Kushner (8/3)
“From the Archives of the Museum of Eerie Skins: An Account” by C. S. E. Cooney (8/3)
“The Chameleon’s Gloves” by Yoon Ha Lee (8/3)
“Through a Thousand Eyes” by Nisi Shawl (7/6)
“The Necessity of Slavery Stories” by Troy L. Wiggins (7/6)
“The Bad Dad Redemption Arc Needs to Die” by Nino Cipri (8/3)
“WWXD: A Warrior’s Path of Reflection and Redemption” by C.L. Clark (8/3)
“Sonnet for the Aglæcwif” by Minal Hajratwala (7/6)
“Hitobashira” by Betsy Aoki (7/6)
“After The Tower Falls, Death Gives Advice” by Ali Trotta (8/3)
“Radioactivity” by Octavia Cade (8/3)
Eleanor Arnason interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (7/6)
C. S. E. Cooney interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (8/3)
Episode 41A (7/6): Editors’ Introduction, “The Wishing Pool” by Tananarive Due, as read by Matt Peters, “Sonnet for the Aglæcwif” by Minal Hajratwala, as read by Joy Piedmont, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Tananarive Due.
Episode 41B (8/3): Editors’ Introduction, “Presque vue” by Tochi Onyebuchi, as read by Matt Peters, “Radioactivity” by Octavia Cade, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Tochi Onyebuchi.
The 40th issue of Uncanny Magazine, winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on May 4.
Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 40th issue of their five-time Hugo Award-winning online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Uncanny Magazine. Stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. As always, Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture, along with a Parsec Award-winning monthly podcast featuring a story, poem, and interview from that issue.
All of Uncanny Magazine’s content will be available in eBook versions on the day of release from Weightless Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. Subscriptions are always available through Amazon Kindle and Weightless Books. The free online content will be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and half on June 1.
“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
“Imagining Futures: Imagination, Ltd.” by Elsa Sjunneson
“Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.” by Fran Wilde (5/4)
“Proof by Induction” by José Pablo Iriarte (5/4)
“Thirteen of the Secrets in My Purse” by Rachel Swirsky (5/4)
“How the Girls Came Home” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (6/1)
“The Hungry Ones” by Emma Törzs (6/1)
“Heart Shine” by Shveta Thakrar (6/1)
“River, Clap Your Hands” by Sheree Renée Thomas (6/1)
“A Love Letter to Libraries” by E. Lily Yu (5/4)
“Babylon 5 and Antifascism” by Andrew Liptak (5/4)
“The Protagonist Problem” by Ada Palmer and Jo Walton (6/1)
“More Than Meets the Eye: Transformers as Trans Fantasy” by C. J. Linton (6/1)
“Self Portrait As a Printing Press” by Nnadi Samuel (5/4)
“Paqtasultieg” by Tiffany Morris (5/4)
“Mona Lisa’s Abecedarian to Leonardo da Vinci” by Abu Bakr Sadiq (6/1)
“Collection” by Vivian Li (6/1)
José Pablo Iriarte interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (5/4)
Shveta Thakrar interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (6/1)
Episode 40A (5/4): Editors’ Introduction, “Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.” by Fran Wilde, as read by Erika Ensign, “Paqtasultieg” by Tiffany Morris, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Fran Wilde.
Episode 40B (6/1): Editors’ Introduction, “How the Girls Came Home” by Eugenia Triantafyllou, as read by Joy Piedmont, “Mona Lisa’s Abecedarian to Leonardo da Vinci” by Abu Bakr Sadiq, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Eugenia Triantafyllou.
(1) IF YOU LOVED THEM IN GOOD OMENS… A finalist for RadioTimes.com Awards 2021– TV Moment of the Year is Judi Dench slamming David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Staged, a British comedy series set during the COVID-19 pandemic and primarily made using video-conferencing technology.
David Tennant and Michael Sheen playing exaggerated versions of themselves (actors) in 2020 trying to get work is already hilarious, but add in Dame Judi Dench and you’ve got a work of art. Tennant and Sheen aren’t exactly enthusiastic about their new role in a play, and Dench is on hand to remind them they have said yes to a job so they should “stop f**king about” and “do the bloody job”. That’s them (and us) told.
The series premiered on BBC One last summer, and another eight-episode series was released January 4. The first series synopsis is —
David Tennant and Michael Sheen (playing themselves) were due to star in a production of Six Characters in Search of an Author in the West End. The pandemic has put paid to that, but their director (Simon Evans – also playing himself) is determined not to let the opportunity pass him by. He knows how big a chance this is for him and turns his attention to cajoling his stars into rehearsing over the internet. All they need to do is read the first scene, but throughout the series they come up against a multitude of oppositional forces: distraction, boredom, home-schooling and their own egos.
…Deciding whether to reopen the stores won’t be easy. At 70 years young, many assumed owner Don Blyly would retire from retail business after the fire. Such assumptions are premature, however. It takes a lot of drive to start over from nothing, but Blyly seems to be equal to whatever tasks he sets himself.
…He admits that he has a knack for bouncing back from adversity, “I’ve noticed that I seem to have more resilience than most other people and I’ve wondered why. Partly it is stubbornness. Partly it is because the more of a track record you have at overcoming previous difficulties, the more confidence you have of overcoming the latest difficulty.”
Blyly says the city has a lot to answer for when it comes to the uprising, “Back in 2015 the Department of Justice made recommendations for reforming the Minneapolis Police, but the City Council has done nothing to implement those recommendations. The judge in the trial of Mohamed Noor for the murder of Justine Damond raised issues about problems with the Minneapolis Police that have never been addressed.”
Since the uprising and subsequent looting, he’s concerned that many people think the area is too dangerous to visit, “About half of my sales were to people outside the I-495/ I-694 loop, and they are now scared to come to Minneapolis to spend their money. Customers in South Minneapolis told me that they would be scared to return to the Uncles if I rebuilt in the old location. The city is going to have to actually work on fixing the problems with the Minneapolis Police instead making ‘defunding’ speeches before people will feel comfortable about spending their money in Minneapolis again.”
(3) IT PAYS TO BE POSTHUMOUS. Julie Phillips, in “Born to Be Posthumous” at 4Columns, reviews Mark Dery’s Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life And Mysterious Genius Of Edward Gorey.
By his mid-twenties, the artist and illustrator Edward Gorey had already settled on his signature look: long fur coat, jeans, canvas high-tops, rings on all his fingers, and the full beard of a Victorian intellectual. His enigmatic illustrations of equally fur-coated and Firbankian men in parlors, long-skirted women, and hollow-eyed, doomed children (in The Gashlycrumb Tinies, among other works) share his own gothic camp aesthetic. Among the obvious questions for a reader of Gorey’s biography are: Where in his psyche, or in the culture, did all those fey fainting ladies and ironic dead tots come from? And, not unrelatedly: Was Gorey gay?
…Gorey described himself as “undersexed” in a 1980 interview, and equivocated: “I’ve never said that I was gay and I’ve never said that I wasn’t. A lot of people would say that I wasn’t because I never do anything about it.” Did he reject a gay sexuality, or was his particular sexuality, perhaps asexuality, not yet on the menu? Dery isn’t out to judge, and encourages us instead to look at how Gorey’s arch imagery, flamboyant self-presentation, and “pantheon of canonically gay tastes” (ballet, Marlene Dietrich records, silent film) allow him to be read in the context of gay culture and history, whatever his praxis in bed….
… Since it first appeared in October 2019, “Sexy Times With Wangxian,” or STWW, has become notorious across AO3. That in itself is unusual, because most AO3 users stick to their own fandoms and don’t pay much attention to what’s happening in others. STWW belongs to the fandom for the wildly popular Chinese TV series The Untamed, and the “Wangxian” in the title refers to the ship name for the show’s beloved main romantic pairing. It’s a very long fanfic, over a million words, and contains more than 200 chapters of porn featuring The Untamed’s large cast in endless permutations and sexual scenarios.
All that, by itself, isn’t enough to make STWW remarkable — not on a website as wild and unpredictable as AO3. Yet the fic has become impossible for many AO3 users to ignore thanks to a unique quirk: Its author has linked it to more than 1,700 site tags (and counting).
A quick note about AO3’s tagging system: It is designed to let users tag creatively and freely. So you can add useful tags, like pairing labels and character names, but you can also toss in personalized tags for fun and creative expression, from “no beta readers we die like men” to “I wrote this at 4am on three bottles of Monster Energy and zero sleep don’t judge.”
The tagging system is in service of the site’s total permissiveness — you can write anything you want in tags. But for the site to function, tags still need to be useful for navigation. So AO3 has hordes of volunteers known as “tag wranglers” whose sole job is to sort through the massive number of fic tags on the site and decide which ones will actually help users find what they’re looking for.
Those tags are then made “canonical,” which means they’ll become universal tags that every user can sort through. They’ll also appear within a list of suggested tags as you type. If I start to type “hospital” while tagging a fic, AO3 will return canonical tag suggestions like “Alternate Universe — Hospital,” “Hospital Sex,” and “Hogwarts Hospital Wing.” That makes it easy to determine whether your fic fits tags the community is already using.
AO3’s tagging system is so organized and thorough that it has won widespread acclaim from fields like library science and internet infrastructure. But it still has its limits — and with more than 1,700 tags, “Sexy Times With Wangxian” has revealed what some of those limits look like — in some cases quite literally….
The tags are so numerous, they can’t fit into a single screenshot on a large monitor. Here’s a quick scroll through the entire thing…
(5) THEY’RE FEELING BETTER. Jen Chaney, in “No, They Weren’t Dead the Whole Time” at Vulture, has an oral history of the last episode of Lost, which reveals that showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof had the ambiguous ending in mind the whole time and that the show was so important that the State of the Union in 2010 was moved because it conflicted with the final season opening episode.
…When the finale aired, it sparked divided responses (understatement) from fans. Some loved the emotional way in which Jack’s journey and that of his fellow survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 came to a close. Others were extremely vocally angry about not getting more direct answers to the show’s many questions. Still others came away from it all convinced that the castaways had been dead the whole time. (They were not dead. They really weren’t.)
What was semi-clear at the time and is even clearer now is that the broadcast of the Lost finale would mark the end of something else: the truly communal broadcast television experience. Subsequent finales would be major events (see HBO’s Game of Thrones) and even draw larger audiences (2019’s final Big Bang Theory attracted 18 million viewers, compared to the 13.5 million who tuned in for the Lost farewell). But nothing else since has felt so massively anticipated and so widely consumed in real time the way that the end of Lost, the Smoke Monster Super Bowl, did in 2010.
Vulture did extensive interviews with writers, cast, and crew members, who reflected on the development of “The End,” the making of the still hotly debated episode, and the cultural conversation it continues to generate. Because, yes, of course, we had to go back.
…An appreciation for speculative fiction isn’t always handed down from within a family. Sometimes it grows on its own, or is introduced by a friend or a teacher. Or a child is uninterested, despite their parents’ best efforts to sway them to the side of elves and proton cannons. I recently reached out to several writers to ask them about their experience growing up, their parents’ relationship to speculative fiction, and the impact that parenthood has had on them as writers….
…There are also emotional sacrifices that come along with parenthood. After the birth of her first child, de Bodard’s tolerance for stories featuring child abuse or endangerment “went from weak to zero” immediately. “I had to put off reading a book I was much looking forward to because I couldn’t get past the violence against a child.” As the father of a daughter, I’ve had a similar experience to de Bodard, and have also become even more aware of and angered by the pervasive sexism that continues to plague speculative fiction and fandom.
Personal writing of any sort reveals layers to a person that even their close friends and loved ones might not recognize. My wife often finds it odd to read my writing—not because of the subject matter, but because it’s told in a voice that doesn’t sound familiar to her ear.
“My children have all read at least some of my writing,” said Elliott. “I often consult them about plot, character, and world–building because I like to hear their feedback, because they know me so well, and because they have fascinating and deep imaginations. They are probably my most valuable writing resource, with my cherished writer and reader friends a close second.”…
My old Marvel Bullpen pal Jo Duffy had a lengthy, celebrated run back then on Power Man and Iron Fist, where she also wrote Conan the Barbarian, Fallen Angels, Star Wars, and Wolverine. She also wrote Catwoman for DC and Glory for Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios imprint of Image Comics. Additionally, she worked on the screenplays for the horror films Puppet Master 4 and Puppet Master 5.
We discussed why she knows what Superman will look like when he’s 100, the many reasons our kid selves both thought Marvel had D.C. beat, the genius of Marie Severin, how I may have inadvertently been responsible for her getting a job as an Assistant Editor in the Marvel Bullpen, what it was like to work with Steve Ditko, the firing she still feels guilty about 40 years later, how she approached the challenge of writing Power Man and Iron Fist, the letter she wrote to Stan Lee after the death of Jack Kirby, the two-year-long Star Wars story arc she was forced to squeeze into a few issues, the best writing advice she ever got, and much more.
(8) FIRST THERE IS NO MOUNTAIN, THEN THERE IS. Sarah Gailey, in “Building Beyond: Move Mountains” at Stone Soup, gets an assist from Alex Acks and nonwriter Kacie Winterberg to illustrate how easy a particular facet of sff creation can be:
Building Beyond is an ongoing series about accessible worldbuilding. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary — or even purposeful. Anyone can do it. To prove that, let’s talk to both a writer and a non-writer about a worldbuilding prompt.
How do you go about communicating with a mountain to prevent it from pursuing its ambition of becoming a volcano?
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 26, 1977 — On this day in 1977, Doctor Who’s “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, Part 1” first aired. It featured Tom Baker, considered the most popular of all the actors who’ve played The Doctor, and Leela, the archetypal savage that British Empire both adored and despised, played by Louise Jameson. The villain was most likely a not-so-accidental take off of Fu Manchu. Cat Eldridge reviewed the episode at A Green Man Review. You can watch the first part online here with links to the rest of the story there as well. (CE)
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 26, 1874 – Katherine Cameron. Member, Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (Women Artists after 1975). A dozen illustrated books for us. This is in Stories from the Ballads (M. Macgregor, 1906). Here are Snowdrop and the Seven Dwarfs. Here is Celtic Tales. Here is Undine. This is in The Enchanted Land. (Died 1965) [JH]
Born February 26, 1916 – Clifford Geary. A dozen covers, two dozen interiors for us; many others. Noteworthy in particular for illustrating Heinlein’s “juveniles”. Here is a frontispiece for Starman Jones. Here is an interior for Between Planets. This is in Space Cadet. Here is one from outside our field. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born February 26, 1918 — Theodore Sturgeon. I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six genre novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — he was quite good at it. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born February 26, 1945 — Marta Kristen, 76. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (CE)
Born February 26, 1945 – Alex Eisenstein, age 76; 1946 – Phyllis Eisenstein (Died 2020). Active fannish couple; P also an active pro, a dozen novels, twoscore shorter stories with A collaborating on half a dozen; so far as I know The City in Stone, completed, remains unpublished. AE co-edited Trumpet. Here is his cover for More Issues at Hand. PE was Guest of Honor at Windycon XXX, Capricon 26, ConQuesT 38; a soft-sculpture of her was part of the Fanzine Lounge at Chicon VI the 58th Worldcon. AE, a noted SF art collector, has organized many displays including that Chicon. [JH]
Born February 26, 1948 — Sharyn McCrumb, 73. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements. If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended. Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print and available from the usual suspects which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile. (CE)
Born February 26, 1952 – Bob Devney, F.N., age 69. Eight-time finalist for Best Fanwriter. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Lover of SF movies – some of them, anyway. When I remarked to him I hadn’t seen The Devniad in a while, he muttered something about Twitter; but quite possibly he still hasn’t recovered from Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon, where he worked very hard, as I saw and maybe you did too. [JH]
Born February 26, 1957 – John Jude Palencar, age 64. A hundred ninety covers, five dozen interiors. Artbook Origins. Here is Rhinegold. Here is Kushiel’s Avatar. Here is The Dark Line. Here is Mind of My Mind. This picture led to The Palencar Project – David Hartwell did such things. Five Chesleys. American Water Color Society Gold Medal. Hamilton King Award. Spectrum Grand Master. Also National Geographic, Smithsonian, Time. [JH]
Born February 26, 1963 — Chase Masterson, 57. Fans are fond of saying that she spent five years portraying the Bajoran Dabo entertainer Leeta on Deep Space Nine which means she was in the background of Quark’s bar a lot though she hardly had any lines. Her post-DS9 genre career is pretty much non-existent save one-off appearances on Sliders, the current carnation of The Flash and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a very unofficial Tim Russ project. She has done some voice work for Big Finish Productions as of late. The series there features here as Vienna Salvatori, an “impossibly glamorous bounty hunter” as the publicity material including photos of her puts it. (CE)
Born February 26, 1965 — Liz Williams, 56. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with an actual Chinese-derived Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read. (CE)
Born February 26, 1968 – Lynne Hansen, age 53. Half a dozen novels, ten dozen covers. Here is Strangewood. Here is Things That Never Happened (hello, Scott Edelman). Here is A Complex Accident of Life. Here is The High Strangeness of Lorelei Jones. [JH]
…We’re hearing that no director is attached as of yet and plot details remain under wraps. Additionally, the search for an actor to play Kal-El / Superman hasn’t started yet.
“To be invited into the DC Extended Universe by Warner Bros., DC Films and Bad Robot is an honor,” said Coates in a statement received only by Shadow and Act. “I look forward to meaningfully adding to the legacy of America’s most iconic mythic hero.”
“There is a new, powerful and moving Superman story yet to be told. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with the brilliant Mr. Coates to help bring that story to the big screen, and we’re beyond thankful to the team at Warner Bros. for the opportunity,” said J.J. Abrams in the statement to S&A.
“Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me opened a window and changed the way many of us see the world,” added Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We’re confident that his take on Superman will give fans a new and exciting way to see the Man of Steel.”
…If you think Disney’s recent announcement that it will soon be charging $75 a head for the thrill of wandering around California Adventure to buy and eat things while admiring the entrances to still-closed rides is nuts, I am here to tell you that it is not.
…It was absolutely clear right away. Desperate for even the faintest tang of the Disney experience, thousands of us apparently are quite willing to settle for the elements of the Disney experience we normally complain about the most: waiting in line,overpriced food and the siren call of way too much Disney merch.
Late on a recent Wednesday afternoon, it was a 45-minute wait simply to enter the Downtown Disney area, 50 if you count the five-minute walk from the car, which cost 10 bucks to park.
To be fair, the line that snaked through an entire parking lot could be construed, at least in these coronavirus-plagued times, as a Disney experience in and of itself. The now-ubiquitous six-feet-apart marks created a socially distant conga line that involved far more walking than standing: “Well, we’re getting our steps in,” one of my daughters remarked.
…As the sun set over the Simba parking lot and our group advanced through the temperature-taking station and the bag-check station, then past a police presence prominent enough to make any mask-shirker think twice, one could at least imagine a world returning to something approaching normal.
Listen to the piped-in music! Yes, once upon a time it did indeed drive some of us insane. But now, after a yearlong lifetime of home-office work — concentration broken on an hourly basis by the maddening syncopated roar of leaf blowers and brain-drilling hum of the neighbors’ home improvement project — all those Disney tunes fell around us like the singing of a heavenly host….
…Beyond the plot reasons, I loved that it was more a cultural conflict because that concept is at the heart of this duology: the way the Empire doesn’t simply conquer via its military but swamps others with its pervasive, relentless, invasive cultural tentacles (hmm, sound familiar?), the way the question of “who counts as human” (or more broadly, who can be considered a person) runs throughout the Empire on a macro level, and throughout the relationship between Mahit and Three Seagrass on a micro level.
… It’s impossible to read these moments and not relate them to everyday existence for those forced to swim in the sea of a majority culture. This fraught tension is made all the richer for how Martine portrays (realistically) how seductive such cultural power is even for those it threatens to swamp, like falling in love with the waves that are trying to drown you. And then it gets under the skin and into the brain so it becomes almost second nature: “Mahit laughed, a raw sound … She couldn’t do it all. She thought in Teixcalaanli, in imperial-style metaphor and overdetermination. She’d had this whole conversation in their language.”
… It all came down to this month’s Analog. If it were superb, as it was last month, then we’d have a clean sweep across eight periodicals. If it flopped, as it often does, the streak would be broken.
As it turns out, neither eventuality quite came to pass. Indeed, the March 1966 Analog is sort of a microcosm of the month itself — starting out with a bang and faltering before the finish….
(15) FROM BROADWAY TO BROADBAND. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 19 Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews “online interactive theatre shows” which try to capture some of the spontaneity of live theatre.
Collaboration is key to success with all these show: the quicker an audience learns to share tasks, the better. In Sherlock In Homes: Murder At The Circus (from the Wardrobe Theatre and Sharp Teeth Theatre), this turns out to be a group of small girls from Wales with a formidable line in questioning, (The same companies have also created Sherlock In Homes 2: Murder On Ice.)
Another Sherlock-inspired show, Murder At The Circus is a droll, family-friendly affair, low on tech high in audience-actor interaction. Sherlock is missing (again), leaving behind a rum case involving a dead circus clown and a plate of potted meat. We, the impromptu detectives, must quiz a line-up of dubious suspects with names like Glenda Flex (acrobat) and Rory McPride (lion tamer), all of whom are adept at juggling the truth.
After several rounds of unfocused interrogation from our team, the Welsh 10-year-olds spring into action. “Where were you location-wise when you were kissing?’ demands one, sternly, of a particularly evasive character, It would take a hardened criminal not to crack.”
David must have done something right because author Barry Malzberg was willing to sit down for a lengthy phone conversation with him. In this interview, Barry leads David through his experiences with multiple authors including PKD, the in’s and out’s of the publishing industry of the 60s and 70s, and more. Also, don’t forget to check out part 2 of our Barry Malzberg Spectacular where author James Reich joins David in an in-depth look at the award-winning novel Beyond Apollo, which garnered the first ever John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
…One of the promotions tied to Gaga’s cookies is a Sing It with Oreo feature. You can make personal recordings, transform them into “musical messages of kindness” and send them to folks you love and support. The pink foil packaging for Gaga Oreos features a QR code, which provides instant access to the recording function. You probably have to give up countless pieces of personal information in the process, but go ahead, “Just sing from the heart, and make someone’s day a little brighter.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The 39th issue of Uncanny Magazine, winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on March 2.
Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 39th issue of their five-time Hugo Award-winning online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Uncanny Magazine. Stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. As always, Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture, along with a Parsec Award-winning monthly podcast featuring a story, poem, and interview from that issue.
All of Uncanny Magazine’s content will be available in eBook versions on the day of release from Weightless Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. Subscriptions are always available through Amazon Kindle and Weightless Books. The free online content will be released in 2 stages — half on day of release and half on April 6.
“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
“The Sin of America” by Catherynne M. Valente (3/2)
“The Perils of a Hologram Heart” by Dominica Phetteplace (3/2)
“Colors of the Immortal Palette” by Caroline M. Yoachim (3/2)
“The Book of the Kraken” by Carrie Vaughn (4/6)
“Eighteen Days of Barbareek” by Rati Mehrotra (4/6)
“Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” by Sarah Pinsker (4/6)
“They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass” by Alaya Dawn Johnson (4/6)
“Deadly Frocks and Other Tales of Murder Clothes” by Tansy Rayner Roberts (3/2)
“Seduced by the Ruler’s Gaze: An Indian Perspective on Seth Dickinson’s Masquerade” by Sid Jain (3/2)
“Protector of Small Steps” by Marieke Nijkamp (4/6)
“Please Be Kind to the Singularity” by Jay Edidin (4/6)
“the most humane methods could involve a knife” by Tamara Jerée (3/2)
“lagahoo culture (Part II)” by Brandon O’Brien (3/2)
“Future Saints” by Terese Mason Pierre (4/6)
“Of Monsters I Loved” by Ali Trotta (4/6)
Caroline M. Yoachim interviewed by Tina Connolly (3/2)
Sarah Pinsker interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (4/6)
Episode 39A (3/2): Editors’ Introduction, “The Sin of America” by Catherynne M. Valente, as read by Heath Miller, “lagahoo culture (Part II)” by Brandon O’Brien, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Catherynne M. Valente.
Episode 39B (4/6): Editors’ Introduction, “The Book of the Kraken” by Carrie Vaughn, as read by Joy Piedmont, “Of Monsters I Loved” by Ali Trotta, as read by Heath Miller, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Carrie Vaughn.
(1) ALL THAT JAZZ. Elle M. has a fascinating commentary on the difference between worldbuilding and lore. Thread starts here. A few quotes follow —
They also use the author of Harry Potter as a compelling example of where lore gets injected at the expense of worldbuilding.
(2) TRENDY PLACES. Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup blog is hosting “Building Beyond,” an “ongoing series about accessible worldbuilding. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary — or even purposeful. Anyone can do it. To prove that, let’s talk to both a writer and a non-writer about a worldbuilding prompt.” For “Building Beyond: Robot Dating”, editor Brian J. White and writer Suzanne Walker imagine where they’ve gone on a date with a giant robot.
Gailey’s dry synopsis should make you very curious to read the post:
…Brian’s date is the foundation of a story about a robot who is learning to live in the world, and who just so happens to be inhabiting a city of decadences. Suzanne’s date is the beginning of a world in which robots and humans regularly go out together, and frogs have learned to cater to the complicated ecosystem of needs that arise in such relationships.
Constance Grady: I have a hard time working out exactly how I feel about volume two of this trilogy. Harrow the Ninth is a trickier book than Gideon the Ninth, in the same way that bitchy, conniving Harrow is a trickier protagonist than sweet basic jock Gideon.
First of all, there’s the problem of tone. Gideon mined enormous amounts of tension and humor out of the contrast between its lurid goth world and Gideon’s straightforward “it looks like a sword, I want to fight it” worldview and her dirty jokes. That’s part of what helps puncture the grandiosity of Muir’s worldbuilding and keep everything feeling accessible and human-scale, no matter how complicated the mythology might be.
But Harrowhark worships all the lurid skeletal nonsense around her with a religious intensity, and she considers boning jokes prurient. So the easy laughter of the first volume fades away: The jokes are meaner in Harrow than they were in Gideon, and darker….
(4) MRS. PEEL, WE’RE NEEDED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the January 23 Financial Times, Peter Aspden writes about the 60th anniversary of British TV series The Avengers, which was first broadcast in January 1960.
The plots (of The Avengers), in the meantime, got crazier. In 1967’s ‘Epic,’ from the fifth season, Peel is kidnapped by a Teutonic film director named ZZ von Schnerk, who is filming a movie called The Destruction Of Emma Peel, for which he needs to kill her in real, or reel, life. The self-referntiality was off the scale, now. ‘Gloat all you like, but I am the star of his picture, says captive Peel to the villiainous director, and anyone interested in meta-texts.
Like so many of the fashions of the 1960s, Rigg only lasted a couple of seasons. She left to star in her own Bond Film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which she showed that her range extended further than understated self-mockery (in fairness, she had also already played Cordelia opposite Paul Scofield’s Lear) by providing one of the franchise’s few genuinely heartbreaking endings. Peel’s farewell to Steed was itself a rare poignant moment, a peck on the cheek with a final piece of womanly advice: ‘Always keep your bowler on it times of stress. And watch out for diabolical masterminds.’
(5) SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] Nominations are open for the 2021 Splatterpunk Awards through February 14. Brian Keene and Wrath James White have been experiencing….ummm…difficulties in getting valid nominations. Someone nominated HP Lovecraft who, being dead, is ineligible. Also, he hasn’t published anything new in the last year. Also, also, he hasn’t published anything that is close to being Splatterpunk.
Midnight Pals over on Twitter has the theoretic exchange where Brian and Wrath try to explain how this is supposed to work. (I’m pretty sure that Dean Koontz didn’t nominate HP Lovecraft.)
The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the 2021 Killercon Convention, taking place in Austin, Texas.
In addition to the Splatterpunk Awards, author John Skipp will receive this year’s J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field.
…Try as I might, I have great difficulty thinking of this novel as a science-fiction story. It could be conceived of as a psychological thriller, but no one dies except a mouse. It is deeply psychological and delves as far into the brain as anyone can get right now, accepting Freudian analysis as routine, while it is Jung’s “individuation” that the main character, Charlie Gordon, seeks without a guide except for his reading.
…I recommend this book, no matter its genre, and hope that anyone who reads it finds him- or herself touched by the plight of both those who are “exceptional” on the low end and those “exceptional” on the high end.
What will you see in it?
I see five stars.
(7) TAPPING INTO TED WHITE. Fanac.org posted a second installment of Ted White’s livestreamed interview, conducted by John D. Berry.
Ted White has been a science fiction fan for over 70 years, as well as an artist, fanzine editor and publisher, professional writer, editor and jazz critic. Interviewer John D. Berry has known Ted for more than 50 years.
In part 2 of the January 23, 2021 interview, Ted talks about how he began writing professional science fiction, and the influence of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Carr, Bob Tucker and others. There are anecdotes of the New York Fanoclasts and of how the bid for the 1967 NyCon3 came about.
Ted discusses “The Club House” column in Amazing Stories, responsible for bringing many into fandom in the early 1970s, and speaks of his many fanzine collaborations, along with challenges along the way. This Zoom interview was very well received by all the attendees, who clamored for more. Look for the next part of the interview.
…Pitched as humorous, adult-orientated animated series in the Star Trek universe, the series creator is Mike McMahan, a lead writer from Rick and Morty. However, the show’s humour is both less crude and less imaginative than that show, indeed overall it pitches itself at ‘amusing’ rather than ‘funny’. The obvious comparison is with The Orville, rather than Galaxy Quest or John Scalzi’s Redshirts….
Issue #5 features writing from games critic Emma Kostopolus, on the space opera game Mass Effect 3 (2012), and writer and educator Malik Toms, on John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet (1984), as well as a piece from me about the collection Scotland in Space (2019).
(10) MEMORY LANE.
2000 — Twenty one years ago at Chicon 2000, Galaxy Quest, a DreamWorks film, would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It would edge out The Matrix (which lost by just three votes), The Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich and The Iron Giant. It was directed by Dean Parisot. Screenwriters David Howard and Robert Gordon worked off the story by David Howard. It’s considered by many Trekkies to the best Trek film ever made.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 28, 1820 – Vilhelm Pedersen. First illustrator of Hans Christian Andersen; a hundred twenty-five in the five-volume 1849 edition. Indispensable like Tenniel’s for Lewis Carroll. Here is “The Top and Ball”. Here is “The Flying Trunk”. Here is “Hyldemor”. Here is “Thumbelina”. (Died 1859) [JH]
Born January 28, 1834 – Sabine Baring-Gould. Anglican priest, author of fiction, folklorist. Grandfather of the Holmes scholar. Wrote “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (music by Sir Arthur Sullivan). This edition including Curious Myths of the Middle Ages and Were-wolves appeared recently. (Died 1924) [JH]
Born January 28, 1929 — Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born January 28, 1931 – Komatsu Sakyô. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Leading Japanese SF author. Most famous for Japan Sinks. Two shorter stories in this collection. Author Guest of Honor at Nippon2007 the 65th Worldcon – of which, incidentally, you can see my report here (PDF). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 28, 1957 – Joanne Findon, Ph.D., age 64. Assistant Professor of English at Trent Univ. (Peterborough, Ontario). Two novels for us. “I blame my two lifelong passions – writing fiction and studying the past – on … Lloyd Alexander.” More here. [JH]
Born January 28, 1959 — Frank Darabont, 62. Early on, he was mostly a screenwriter for horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Blob and The Fly II, allminor horror films. As a director, he’s much better known as he’s done, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist. He also developed and executive-produced the first season of The Walking Dead. He also wrote Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that I like a lot. (CE)
Born January 28, 1981 — Elijah Wood, 40. His first genre role is as Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman In Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed. He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb’s superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. (CE)
Born January 28, 1985 — Tom Hopper, 36. His principal genre role was on the BBC Merlin series as Sir Percival. He also shows up in Doctor Who playing Jeff during the “The Eleventh Hour” episode which would be during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. He’s also Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy which is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. (CE)
Born January 28, 1986 – Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, age 35. This historic champion track & field athlete has recently written half a dozen children’s fantasies with Elen Caldecott, may the name be for a good omen. Here’s the latest I know of. [JH]
Born January 28, 1998 — Ariel Winter, 23. Voice actress whose shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!, DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
At xkcd Randall Munroe has a couple more installments on his living in a scaled world series:
The poll will be open from January 11 to February 8, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!
A snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of the poll!
(14) CON CALLS ON FANS FOR HELP. “Otakon Discusses Future, Asks for Donations” reports the Anime News Network. Their 2021 event is scheduled to be held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. from August 6 to 8. Last year’s Otakon was cancelled.
Otakorp president Brooke Zerrlaut announced in a newsletter on Thursday that the organization is requesting donations for the first time. The Otakon convention’s staff are continuing to evaluate plans for 2021 and noted that the event may “potentially close” permanently.
The newsletter explained that Otakorp, a volunteer-run non-profit organization, runs the annual Otakon convention dedicated to Asian culture. Because of the cancelation of Otakon 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is in a “precarious position.”
The makers of the new Vimeo documentary, The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner, have trained their lens on an elusive horror and fantasy writer with a cult following. Besides the stories of supernatural and psychological terror collected in In a Lonely Place (1983) and Why Not You and I? (1987), Wagner spun tales about Kane, a hero sometimes compared to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, who wanders and fights his way through a fantasy realm peopled with brigands, thieves, sorcerers, monks, and shapeshifters. This body of work exceeds the better-known Conan mythos in its sexuality and violence, tropes that Wagner used with uneven results.
Wagner was also a longtime editor of the Year’s Best Horror Stories series, showcasing the work of Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Brian Lumley, Elizabeth Hand, David J. Schow, T.E.D. Klein, Charles L. Grant, Dennis Etchison, and dozens of others in the field. A few of these scribes appear in The Last Wolf, with especially vivid remembrances coming from Campbell and Etchison. Peter Straub, who wrote a foreword to In a Lonely Place, also has a lot to say.
…The sources interviewed in The Last Wolf render a portrait of an ambitious youth who collected paperbacks, became well known to the staff of a used bookshop in Knoxville through constant visits, and liked to freak out his nephews with spooky tales as they lay in their beds by an open window. While still in high school, Wagner meets a charming young woman, Barbara Mott, on a double date. He later marries her. His career enters high gear in the 1970s as he churns out stories, but not novels, and he stays busy writing and editing through the 1980s and 1990s, almost right up to his death.
“The Fourth Seal” is about a scientist looking to cure cancer. Wagner became the victim of something comparable its destructiveness. The Last Wolf doesn’t skirt around the plunge into alcoholism that drew growing concern on the part of Wagner’s peers in the weird field and led to the end of his marriage. Some of the recollections are hard to take.
Our Author of the Month for February is the American Science Fiction writer Octavia E. Butler.
In her many sometimes interlocking works Butler asks questions about race, gender and, pre-eminently, hierarchy in startling ways, and to offer equally startling versions of possible futures, often dystopian, that are uncannily like the present. This is extraordinary writing, written against the grain of gender and race prejudice and against the grain of Butler’s own persistent writer’s block.
Start with her masterpiece Kindred. We’re next to certain you won’t stop there.
(17) A GLIMPSE OF SF HISTORY. Samuel R. Delany reminisced about Judith Merril in a Facebook post.
Judith Merrill [sic] (Boston, 21 Jan 1923—Toronto, 12 Sept 1997), was—for the last years of her life, one of my best friends in the science fiction world, and thus, like all of her friends, to me she was “Judy” and I—to her—was “Chip.” We could never quite agree about where we met. During the time I was sharing a room with my friend, Bob Aarenberg, at the St. Marks Arms, on West 113th St., in NYC, and in our upstairs neighbor Randy Garrett took me to a party in Greenwich Village, where I met her and talked with her quite a while. But a few years later, she had no memory of that meeting. But as a kid I’d read her collaborations with C. M. [K]ornbluth (the Gunner Cade books), and thoroughly enjoyed them; I’d read a handful full of her stories—”Only a Mother,” which I felt was okay, but also “Dead Center” which I felt was much stronger (and still do after several rereadings of both and others)—but the writings of hers that meant most to me was her critical work….
…The Simultaneous Times Newsletter started when the pandemic lockdowns started. Usually I’m at my bookstore six days a week, and since we specialize in science fiction, most of my conversations center around the genre. Immediately I began to miss the conversations and my customers, so I started the newsletter as a way to stay connected with science fiction fans. Since then it has just grown. But we still give free subscriptions. I thought people would prefer to get a letter in the mail over receiving an email.
What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, e-mail newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?
Several members of my team, including myself, have a background in radio. When we all started talking about starting a podcast we decided that we wanted to produce the program the way that radio shows were produced in the past. Really take the radio arts approach instead of going with modern trends in podcasting. Since then we’ve even teamed up with the radio station KZZH 96.7 in Northern California, so our program did end up on the air.
The Newsletter is print because I wanted to put something physical in people’s hands, especially during this time of not being able to see each other. That being said, I have started to put the back issues on our website, so the archive is available to everyone
(20) IT’S PEOPLE! Shiv Ramdas comments on a trending topic. Thread starts here.
(21) THE SINS OF STARSHIP TROOPERS. [Item by Dann.] The guys at Cinema Sins have “Everything Wrong With Starship Troopers in 19 Minutes or Less”. (Parenthetically, I’m not looking for the 5,681st iteration of “The book is better than the movie” or the 12,259th iteration of “Verhoeven never read the book!”. I like ’em both for different reasons. And the Cinema Sins guys are great.)
…In recent years, Amazon’s e-books market has nurtured a flourishing cottage industry of self-published romance and erotic literature –and the Trump years have inspired many to put pen to paper. The most successful authors (most write under pseudonyms) are known for their prolific publication, thesaurus-aided descriptions of the human anatomy, and responsiveness to current events.
The surreality of the past four years was particularly generative of their creative juices. With the Trump era now drawn to a chaotic close, we decided to review four of the most memorable entries in this niche literary genre.
I’m strangely drawn to the title “My Antifa Lover”, although slightly disappointed that Conroy opted to review Chuck Tingle’s Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Physical Manifestation Of Tromp’s [sic] Twitter Ban That Should’ve Come Years Sooner But Fine Now That It’s Here High Five rather than the frankly superior Domald Tromp [sic] Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Russian T-Rex Who Also Peed On His Butt And Then Blackmailed Him With The Videos Of His Butt Getting Peed On. No, I have no idea how the internet got us here either, really.
I feel compelled to note that the reviewer gave Tingle’s work 5/5.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the 1780s, a charismatic healer caused a stir in Paris. An amusing video about the history of Mesmer’s methods and how he influenced medicine in the late 18th Century. Vox recalls The phony health craze that inspired hypnotism”.
Scientific progress in the 18th century in Europe, a period known as the “Age of Enlightenment,” was demystifying the universe with breakthroughs in chemistry, physics, and philosophy. But medical practices were still relying on centuries-old treatments, like leeching and bloodletting, which were painful and often ineffective. So when Franz Anton Mesmer, a charismatic physician from Vienna, began “healing” people in Paris using an alternative therapeutic practice he called “animal magnetism,” it got a lot of attention. Mesmer claimed that an invisible magnetic fluid was the life force that connected all things and that he had the power to regulate it to restore health in his patients. He was a celebrity figure until the King of France, Louis XVI, commissioned a group of leading scientists to investigate his methods in 1784. Benjamin Franklin headed the commission, and they debunked the existence of the magnetic fluid in the first-known blind experiment. Mesmer was ruined, but “mesmerism” didn’t end there. The report also acknowledged that Mesmer’s methods were making his patients feel better, which they attributed to the power of the human imagination. This experiment ultimately laid the groundwork for our understanding of the placebo effect and inspired an evolution of Mesmer’s practice into something more recognizable today: hypnotism.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, Joey Eschrich, Rob Thornton, Michael J. Walsh, PhilRM, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer, who has ridden the fourth horse once before.]