Uncanny Magazine Issue 44 Launches January 4

The 44th issue of Uncanny Magazine, winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on January 4, 2022. 

Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 44th 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 February 1. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 44 Table of Contents:

Cover

  • Shuffling The Cards by Galen Dara

Editorials

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
  • “The One Body Problem” by Meg Elison

Fiction

  • “The Night Dance” by Leah Cypess (1/4)
  • “The Calcified Heart of Saint Ignace Battiste” by Christopher Caldwell (1/4)
  • “Ribbons” by Natalia Theodoridou (1/4)
  • “The Haunting of Dr. Claudius Winterson” by Sarah Monette (2/1)
  • “Lily, the Immortal” by Kylie Lee Baker (2/1)
  • “Hundred-Handed One” by Wen-yi Lee (2/1)
  • “How to Safely Store Your Magical Artifacts After Saving the World” by Tina Connolly (2/1)

Reprint

  • “The Clockwork Penguin Dreamed of Stars” by Caroline M. Yoachim (1/4)

Nonfiction

  • Midnight Mass Talks Too Much but Still Manages to Compel” by Alex Jennings (1/4)
  • “The Future in the Flesh: Why Cyberpunk Can’t Forget the Body” by Lincoln Michel (1/4)
  • “Even After Death: An Essay in Questions” by Shingai Njeri Kagunda (2/1)
  • Gone with the Clones: How Confederate Soft Power Twisted the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy” by Louis Evans (2/1)

Poetry

  • “Crustacean on Land” by Mehnaz Sahibzada (1/4)
  • “The House Snakes” by Sonya Taaffe (1/4)
  • “a sinkhole invites a street to consider its future” by Dominik Parisien (2/1)
  • “Weaver Girl Dream” by Lisabelle Tay (2/1)

Interviews

  • Christopher Caldwell Interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (1/4)
  • Sarah Monette Interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (2/1)

Podcasts

  • Episode 44A (1/4): Editors’ Introduction, “The Night Dance” by Leah Cypess, as read by Erika Ensign, “The House Snakes” by Sonya Taaffe, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Leah Cypess.
  • Episode 44B (2/1): Editors’ Introduction, “Lily, the Immortal” by Kylie Lee Baker, as read by Matt Peters, “Weaver Girl Dream” by Lisabelle Tay, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Kylie Lee Baker.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 43 Launches November 2

The 43rd issue of Uncanny Magazine, winner of five Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on November 2. 

Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 43rd 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 December 7. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 43 Table of Contents:

Cover

  • For Want of Milk by Grace P. Fong

Editorial

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

Fiction

  • “That Story Isn’t the Story” by John Wiswell (11/2)
  • “For Want of Milk” by Grace P. Fong (11/2)
  • “The Stop After the Last Station” by A. T. Greenblatt (11/2)
  • “Ina’s Spark” by Mary Robinette Kowal (12/7)
  • “For All Those Who Sheltered Here” by Del Sandeen (12/7)
  • “White Rose, Red Rose” by Rachel Swirsky (12/7)
  • “The North Pole Workshops” by Mari Ness (12/7)

Nonfiction

  • “Loving the Old Wounds” by Javier Grillo-Marxuach (11/2)
  • “Scenes from the Apocalypse” by Dawn Xiana Moon (11/2)
  • “Pro Wrestling Is Fake (But You Already Knew That)” by Veda Scott (11/2)
  • “What You Might Have Missed” by Arley Sorg (12/7)
  • “The Precarious Now” by Marissa Lingen (12/7)
  • “The Matter of Cloud: An Interview with Greer Gilman” by Greer Gilman and Sofia Samatar (12/7)

Poetry

  • “POST MASSACRE PSYCH EVALUATION” by Abu Bakr Sadiq (11/2)
  • “The Burning River” by Hal Y. Zhang (11/2)
  • “Confessions of a Spaceport AI” by Mary Soon Lee (12/7)
  • “Between Childroid + Mother” by Miriam Alex (12/7)

Interview

  • John Wiswell interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (11/2)

Podcasts

  • Episode 43A (11/2): Editors’ Introduction, “The Stop After the Last Station” by A. T. Greenblatt, as read by Erika Ensign, “POST MASSACRE PSYCHE EVALUATION” by Abu Bakr Sadiq, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing A. T. Greenblatt.
  • Episode 43B (12/7): Editors’ Introduction, “For All Those Who Sheltered Here” by Del Sandeen, as read by Matt Peters, “White Rose, Red Rose” by Rachel Swirsky, as read by Erika Ensign, “The North Pole Workshops” by Mari Ness, as read by Matt Peters, “Confessions of a Spaceport AI” by Mary Soon Lee, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Del Sandeen.

Uncanny Magazine Welcomes New Nonfiction Editor, Senior Assistant Editor, and Assistant Editor

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.

[Based on a press release.]

Uncanny Magazine Issue 42 Launches September 7

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. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 42 Table of Contents:

Cover

  • The Sun Temple by Julie Dillon

Editorials

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
  • “Imagining Futures: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” by Elsa Sjunneson

Fiction

  • “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)

Nonfiction

  • “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)

Poetry

  • “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)

Interviews

  • Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (9/7)
  • Eugenia Triantafyllou interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (10/5)

Podcasts

  • 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.

Pixel Scroll 7/30/21 I Never Could Get The Hang Of Scrolldays

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC CELEBRATES EPISODE 150. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to binge on the Balkans with Eisner Award-winning comics writer Tom King in episode 150 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Tom King

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 The Hugo 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….

(5) 100 YEARS OF LEM. The Viennese are participating in the Stanislaw Lem centenary reports Radio Poland: “Austrian capital honours Polish sci-fi great Lem”. See video of the dance on Facebook.

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.

(7) APEX AND ABOVE. Likewise, the Apex Magazine 2022 Kickstarter reached its basic goal and is rolling up its milestone rewards. First on the list, a story by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam – who does a Q&A with publisher Jason Sizemore in the linked update.

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.

(8) DISNEY GETS ROUGH. As reported here earlier, Scarlett Johansson filed a high-stakes breach of contract lawsuit against Disney over the release of Black Widow, alleging Disney broke its contract with her by releasing her solo feature on streaming platform Disney+ on the same day as theaters. Disney’s reply drags their star through the mud: “Disney blasts Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ suit: ‘No merit whatsoever’”.

…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.”…

Johansson’s representatives at CAA hit back: “Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd steps into Disney v Scarjo fight” in the Los Angeles Times.

“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 ManConan the Barbarian and  Conan the DestroyerTales 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 FamilyAddams 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 PrestigeInterstellarInception 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 Ernest shows 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.

(15) BASEDCON. *Rolls eyes* Thread starts here.

(16) HEAP OF GLORY. “Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.” Linking to this New York Times item so you can appreciate the amusing comment which I’ve quoted below.

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.

(17) ROBODOG. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Is the game “Quick, spot the cop” or “Quick Spot, the cop”? Another publication has chimed in on whether robotic “dogs” are suitable for use by police. “Robotic Police Dogs: Useful Hounds or Dehumanizing Machines?” at U.S. News & World Report.

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.”…

(18) AI ASSESSES CATS. Meanwhile, a breakthrough in cat happiness technology has made the headlines: “Feline okay? The app that tells you if your cat’s happy” reports Reuters.

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….

(19) GIVING THE GOVERNMENT THE DIGIT. If an AI can be trusted with your cat, surely their work should not go unrewarded! “Australian Court Rules That AI Can Be an Inventor”Gizmodo has the story.

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).]

Editors Lynne & Michael Thomas Kickstarting Year Eight of Uncanny Magazine

Uncanny Magazine Issue 40 cover by Galen Dara

Uncanny Magazine’s Hugo-winning editors Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas today launched a Kickstarter for Year Eight of their – also multi-Hugo Award-winning — professional online sff magazine: Uncanny Magazine Year 8: Fly to the Future, Space Unicorns!

Each issue contains new and classic speculative fiction, fiction podcasts, poetry, essays, art, and interviews. Uncanny Magazine is raising funds via Kickstarter to cover some of its operational and production costs for the eighth year, with an initial goal of $18,700, plus added stretch goals of three original covers and adding additional flash fiction stories. The Kickstarter will launch July 28, 2021, and run through August 26, 2021.

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:

Year Eight Stretch Goals

  • $20,700 – Original cover art from Galen Dara 
  •  $22,700 – Original cover art from Kirbi Fagan 
  •  $24,700 – Original cover art from Paul Lewin 
  •  $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.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 41 Launches July 6

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. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 41 Table of Contents

Cover:

  • Seelie Springs by Alexa Sharpe

Editorials:

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • “Imagining Futures: Reading to a Better World” by Elsa Sjunneson

Fiction:

  • “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)

Reprint:

  • “The Chameleon’s Gloves” by Yoon Ha Lee (8/3)

Nonfiction:

  • “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)

Poetry:

  • “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)

Interviews:

  • Eleanor Arnason interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (7/6)
  • C. S. E. Cooney interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (8/3)

Podcasts: 

  • 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.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 40 Launches May 4

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. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 40 Table of Contents

Cover

  • With Her Familiars on Mars by Galen Dara

Editorials

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • “Imagining Futures: Imagination, Ltd.” by Elsa Sjunneson

Fiction

  • “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)

Reprint

  • “River, Clap Your Hands” by Sheree Renée Thomas (6/1)

Essays

  • “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)

Poetry

  • “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)

Interviews

  • José Pablo Iriarte interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (5/4)
  • Shveta Thakrar interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (6/1)

Podcasts

  • 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.

Pixel Scroll 2/26/21 Got My Mjolnir Working

(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.

(2) THE MAN FROM UNCLES. Don Blyly is interviewed by Carz Nelson in “Down But Not Out: The Future of Uncle Hugo’s” at The Alley Newspaper.

…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…. 

(4) TOO MANY NOTES. Vox’s Aja Romano investigates a kerfuffle at Archive Of Our Own (AO3) about the issues of a million-word fanfic with 1,700 tags. “Sexy Times with Wangxian: The internet’s most beloved fanfiction site is undergoing a reckoning”.

… 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.

(6) AT HOME WITH SFF. Aidan Moher conducts a lively and revealing Q&A with Yoon Ha Lee, Brian Staveley, Kate Elliott, Aliette de Bodard in “Blood Matters: Growing Up in an SF/F House” at Uncanny Magazine.

…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.”…

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman offers listeners the opportunity to “Savor Stan Lee’s favorite sandwich with comics writer Jo Duffy” in episode 139 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Jo Duffy

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 BarbarianFallen AngelsStar 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 GeographicSmithsonianTime.  [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]

(11) COATES TO SCRIPT SUPERMAN MOVIE. Trey Mangum, in “Ta-Nehisi Coates To Write Upcoming Superman Film From DC And Warner Bros.” on Shadow and Act, says Coates will write a script for a Superman movie to be produced by J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot, but with no director or stars attached at this time.

…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.”

(12) SANS RIDES ET SANS REPROCHE. Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara finds this is a rhetorical question: “Is Disney California Adventure, with no rides, worth $75?”

…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.

At least not if my recent visit to Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street is any indication.

…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….

(13) MARTINE’S SEQUEL. In a review at Fantasy Literature, Bill Capossere makes the book sound irresistible: “A Desolation Called Peace: Wonderfully rich and nuanced”,

…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.”

(14) HARD TIME. Will it be at least seven more years before Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus has something good to say about the monthly issue of Analog? “[February 26, 1966] Such promise (March 1966 Analog)”.

… 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.”

The websites for this are sharpteeththeatre.orgthewardrobetheatre.com, and sherlockimmersive.com.

(16) MALZBERG ON PKD. A year ago on the DickHeads Podcast: “Interview #12 – Barry Malzberg – Malzberg Spectacular Part 1”.

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.

(17) POTATO HEAD, THE MORNING AFTER. The London Economic has an entertaining collection of tweets about yesterday’s kerfuffle: “Best reactions as usual mouthpieces are foaming over a genderless Potato Head”. Here are a few —

When it was all over but the shouting, Reason’s Robby Soave announced:  “Mr. Potato Head will remain the strong, masculine figure he always was.”

(18) IN MELODY YET GREEN. The Washington Post’s Tim Carman reviews Lady Gaga Oreos. They’re pink! (With green filling!) “Lady Gaga Oreos are an extra-sweet mystery wrapped in an enigmatic pink wafer”.

…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.]

Uncanny Magazine Issue 39 Launches March 2

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. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 39 Table of Contents:

Cover

  • Kianga by Paul Lewin

Editorial

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

Fiction

  • “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)

Reprint

  • “They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass” by Alaya Dawn Johnson (4/6)

Nonfiction

  • “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)

Poetry

  • “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)

Interviews

  • Caroline M. Yoachim interviewed by Tina Connolly (3/2)
  • Sarah Pinsker interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (4/6)

Podcasts

  • 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.