By Victoria Strauss: This past April, I wrote about writers’ struggles to get Disney and Disney-owned publishers to provide unpaid royalties and missing royalty statements–in some cases, going back years–and the formation of the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force in response.
The problem: Disney has acquired many publishers and imprints over the years, along with their properties and contracts. In many cases, however, Disney is taking the position that while they’ve purchased the rights to those properties, they haven’t acquired the corresponding obligations stipulated in the contracts…such as payment and reporting. From the Task Force website:
Creators may be missing royalty statements or checks across a wide range of properties in prose, comics, or graphic novels. This list is incomplete and based on properties for which we have verified reports of missing statements and royalties.
LucasFilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc.)
Boom! Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
Dark Horse Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
20th Century Fox (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, etc.)
Marvel WorldWide (SpiderMan, Predator, etc.)
Disney Worldwide Publishing (Buffy, Angel)
Drawn from multiple professional writers’ groups, the Task Force’s mission is to identify and advocate for writers who are owed money and accounting. There has been movement since April: several writers — including Alan Dean Foster, who was the first to go public — have successfully negotiated with Disney and have been paid. BOOM! Studios, which holds licenses for multiple Disney-owned comic book and graphic novel franchises, has offered to work with the Task Force to resolve royalty issues for comics writers and other creators (though to date little progress has been made). And two additional important writers’ organizations, WGA East and WGA West, have joined the Task Force.
This is just the start, though. Disney has not been pro-active in seeking out affected writers, and it has refused to post a FAQ on its website or provide procedures for resolution, leaving writers and their agents on their own to try and figure out what’s going on and whom to contact. In many cases–especially for books published years ago–writers may not even be aware that their publisher was acquired or that their books have been published in new formats or editions.
Also, while a few higher-profile novelists have been paid, several lesser-known writers and their agents are still in negotiations with Disney. And although there has been movement on the novel front, for comic book creators there have been almost no resolutions.
Accordingly, the Task Force is reaching out to all comic book and graphic novel creators who are missing royalty payments and statements from their work on Disney-owned properties. From the recent press release:
“Writers, artists, illustrators, letterers, and other artists are valued members of the creative teams that produce art and literature that is enjoyed by millions,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Task Force Chair. “We are inviting these talented artists to share their stories and we will fight for them to receive the money that is owed to them.”
The Task Force’s goals are to ensure that all writers and creators who are owed royalties and/or statements for their media-tie in work are identified and that Disney and other companies honor their contractual obligations to those writers and creators after acquiring the companies that originally hired them.
How can you be part of the fight?
If you’re an affected creator, or suspect you are, SFWA is hosting this form that you can fill out to let the Task Force know. The purpose of the form is to provide the Task Force with information so it can review your case and then follow up (not every case is something the Task Force can help with, unfortunately). All information submitted is confidential; nothing will be shared outside the Task Force without your permission.
Additionally, the Task Force strongly recommends that, regardless of whether or not you’re affected, you continue to seek timely royalty statements (when appropriate).
If you’re a fan, use the hashtag #DisneyMustPay (the Task Force suggests some sample social media messages). Blog about it. Write about it. Post the press release on your website. The Task Force asks that you not boycott, as this would disproportionately affect creators who are being paid. But getting the word out, shining a light on the issue, is hugely important. Public pressure works: Disney is taking notice, as the resolutions reached by Alan Dean Foster and others show.
In closing: this is personal for me. The late Ann Crispin–bestselling author, Writer Beware co-founder, and my dear friend and fellow scam hunter–wrote for two Disney-owned media properties, including her bestselling Han Solo Trilogy and the novelization of Alien: Resurrection. As with other affected writers, Ann’s estate has not received royalty statements and/or payments for some editions of those works.
I’ll be following developments closely. Watch this space.
The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force makes sure writers’ and other creators’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between them, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns. Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.
Victoria Strauss, co-founder of Writer Beware®, is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the Stone fantasy duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) and Passion Blue, a historical novel for teens, one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012. She has written hundreds of book reviews for publications such as SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.
She received the 2009 SFWA® Service Award for her work with Writer Beware®, and in 2012 was honored with an Independent Book Blogger Award for the Writer Beware® blog. She’s webmistress of the Writer Beware® website, which she also created, and maintains the Writer Beware® database, blog, and Facebook page.
(1) 2021 FAAN VOTING DEADLINE. FAAn Awards Administrator Nic Farey reminds everyone that today is the last day of voting – it closes tonight — March 12 — at midnight Pacific time. Guidelines and the ballot are available in The Incompleat Register 2020 [PDF file]
I’ve been wanting to bring Gil to you for awhile, and had been hoping we’d be able to sneak away for a meal during either Readercon or the Small Press Expo, but neither occurred last year, at least not outside of a virtual space, and both will be virtual again this year. So as you listen, I’d like you to think of yourself as being with us at one of those cons, and tagging along as we head off to chat and chew.
We discussed his surprising (and my unsurprising ) guest with the greatest number of downloads, the advice John Crowley gave him about his potential writing career, how a guy who used to memorize X-Men comics got turned on to Love & Rockets, the way we process the deaths of former guests, the song he wants played at his memorial service, how to get often-interviewed guests not to regurgitate their favorite soundbites, why no comic book movie beats the first Superman, how he became the publisher of every letter Samuel R. Delany wrote in 1984, why during his days reviewing for The Comics Journal readers thought he was the secret identity of another writer, the Italo Calvino quote which has kept him going through the pandemic, and much more.
…To go with its brand-new name, Paper Bytes has initiated a brand new scam: a stable of imaginary literary agents. It’s an unusually detailed endeavor, with actual websites for each agent (albeit not very good ones) that include photos–some stock, some stolen–as well as made-up bios and false claims about who/what they represent. All share the email address @bookliteraryagent.com, which no doubt is convenient for the interchangeable roster of Paper Bytes marketers who inhabit these agent personas, but also makes them easier to track and expose.
I’ll list them all below. But first, How It All Works!…
…How to protect yourself?
1. Know how things work in the publishing world. Real literary agents don’t sell services to potential clients, or refer them to companies that do. Real agents don’t commonly contact writers out of the blue. The warnings at the Writer Beware website can help you recognize non-standard or predatory practices.
The track list for David Bowie’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs offers a couple obvious clues about one source of inspiration: song titles include both “1984” and “Big Brother.” But Bowie didn’t just want to use themes from George Orwell’s 1984 on the record. As Open Culture reports, he initially hoped to turn the 1949 dystopian classic into a full-fledged musical of its own.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/x2xfpMMQIJ8 What form that musical was ultimately meant to take isn’t totally clear. According to Christopher Sandford’s biography Bowie: Loving the Alien, the adaptation would’ve been “a West End musical, with an accompanying album and film.” But in a Rolling Stoneinterview with William S. Burroughs from February 1974—just months before the release of Diamond Dogs—Bowie himself mentioned he was “doing Orwell’s 1984 on television.” It’s possible the project went through several iterations when the “Space Oddity” singer was still brainstorming it. But thanks to Orwell’s widow, Sonia (believed to be the basis for 1984‘s Julia), the musical never progressed past the incubation stage.
“My office approached Mrs. Orwell, because I said, ‘Office, I want to do 1984 as a musical, go get me the rights,’” Bowie explained in 1993, according to David Buckley’s Strange Fascination: David Bowie, the Definitive Story. “And they duly trooped off to see Mrs. Orwell, who in so many words said, ‘You’ve got to be out of your gourd, do you think I’m turning this over to that as a musical?’ So, they came back and said, ‘Sorry, David, you can’t write it.’” Since Bowie had already started “putting bits of it down” in the studio, the surprise rejection forced him to pivot quickly. His ill-fated musical became a concept album with Orwellian overtones.
(5) IT’S NEWS TO SOMEBODY. The publication of Matthew Yglesias’ article “Oh, the intellectual property rights you’ll extend” at Slow Boring has caught up with the already-played-out week-old Twitterstorm. Nevertheless, at the link you can read him make a case about copyright law, triggered by the Dr. Seuss controversy.
…Regardless, under U.S. law, the copyrights last for the duration of their creator’s life plus 70 years — i.e., until 2061.
That’s a big change from how we did things in the Founders’ era, when copyrights lasted 14 years with an option to renew the copyright for an additional 14 years.
Since then, not only has Congress repeatedly extended the duration of copyright terms, they’ve even extended them retroactively, basically preventing Mickey Mouse (created in 1928) or Superman (created in 1938) from ever entering the public domain the way that 19th century characters like Frankenstein1 or Sherlock Holmes have.
I bring this all up because I think it’s relevant policy context for the recent controversy over Seuss Enterprises withdrawing six books from publication that were deemed problematic. Right-wing agitators have responded to this as if it’s the government censoring Dr. Seuss, and so out of solidarity with Dr. Seuss, they are buying non-canceled classics like “Green Eggs and Ham” in droves. But this is just not factual. Dr. Seuss has been dead for nearly 30 years. His heirs — likely these two stepdaughters, though that’s not entirely clear — canceled the books, and now are the ones reaping the financial rewards from the backlash to their own actions….
… Lesure spends hours making sure each book looks unique and regal, but she has to be careful not to use any specific imagery that could land her in trouble.
That’s because the books Lesure crafts contain works of fanfiction, and she’s found an entire community of avid readers looking to turn their unauthorized digital favorites into physical treats.
Nothing about the process is simple. There are “literally hundreds of moments where I could do something wrong and everything falls to shambles,” Lesure, a student who started bookbinding during a gap year in 2019, told The Verge. Her process includes typesetting, redoing the typesetting, doing that again and again until it’s right, printing, folding, sewing, making the cover, and finally putting it all together.
Fanfiction has traditionally been confined to online sites like Archive of Our Own (AO3) and FanFiction.Net, but some of the most prolific artists within the space have found a way to help people enjoy their favorite titles in new ways: binding the stories into physical novels designed to read better and stand out on bookshelves. The crafts have helped bring some of the most popular unofficial stories set in Harry Potter, Star Wars, and other universes onto shelves where they can sit right alongside their authorized counterparts.
…Adrian Benepe, the former New York City Parks Commissioner and current head of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, sees “creeping Blade Runner syndrome” everywhere, from the clogged skies over Manhattan to the subways, which he rides to work every day from his home on the Upper West Side.
“They’re empty,” Mr. Benepe said. “I’ve been alone many times at rush hour. It’s eerie as hell.” He also finds the movie prescient in its depiction of a world saturated by intrusive, omnipresent advertising.
“Places in New York that used to not have advertising now have ads,” he said. “You can’t get away from it. It’s in the subways, it’s on the streets, it’s on barges. You never stop being assailed.”
Giant screens are nothing new, of course. But New York’s streetscape had been permeated as never before with twitchy, adhesively catchy LEDs, a trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announcing last summer the addition of 9,000 screens broadcasting “Covid-relevant safety information.”
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 12, 1927 –On this day in 1927, Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
March 12, 1879 — Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough for years I studied it to see how much of work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.) (CE)
March 12, 1886 — Kay Nielsen. Though he’s best known for his work with Disney for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia and The Little Mermaid be it thirty years after his death, I’d be remiss not to note his early work illustrating such works as East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Hansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. (Died 1957.) (CE)
Born March 12, 1911 – Edmund North. Major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. Served a term as President of the screen branch of the Writers Guild of America. A score of movies; co-winner of the Best Screenplay Oscar for Patton; for us, screenplay for The Day the Earth Stood Still – which, despite its staggering difference from Bates’ “Farewell to the Master”, I think a classic. Coined Klaatu barada nikto. (Died 1990) [JH]
March 12, 1914 — John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty year period starting in the Fifties: The Great Beast, The Magic of Aleister Crowley, The King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born March 12, 1916 – Richard Dorson, Ph.D. Pioneering and possibly great folklorist – thus our neighbor; pioneering because, in his day, commercial and even arguably artistic success of retellings like Davy Crockett and inventions like Paul Bunyan were clouding the mind. Coined urban legend and fakelore. General editor, Folktales of the World. Two dozen books, including a 1939 one on Crockett; Folk Legends of Japan; African Folklore. “Suspicious of attempts by other disciplines –anthropology, sociology, and psychology, among others – to co-opt folk culture for their own … purposes…. emphasized the necessity for the accurate collection and documentation of folk materials” (quoted from this). (Died 1981) [JH]
March 12, 1925 — Harry Harrison. Best known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? See OGH’s post on the Alex Cox animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero here. (Died 2012.) (CE)
March 12, 1933 — Barbara Feldon, 88. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and reprising her character on the short-lived follow-up to this series, Get Smart, done twenty years later. She didn’t have that much of an acting career though she did show up in the pilot of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (CE)
Born March 12, 1936 – Virginia Hamilton. National Book Award, Newbery Medal (first black to win it), Hans Andersen Award, Wilder Award. Amer. Lib’y Ass’n King-Hamilton Award named for her (and Coretta Scott King). Eight novels (including Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed), thirty shorter stories, four collections for us; twoscore books all told. (Died 2002) [JH]
March 12, 1952 — Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. – oh, but what a role it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2, Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born March 12, 1955 – Jim Mann, F.N., age 66. Living in Pittsburgh, hard-working member of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) for whose NESFA Press he has edited a dozen books including The Compleat Boucher and The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith). Chaired Boskone 25 (with wife Laurie Mann) and 47. Fan Guest of Honor (with LM), ArmadilloCon 27. Fellow of NESFA (service award). [JH]
Born March 12, 1963 – David B. Coe, Ph.D., age 58. A score of novels, as many shorter stories (some under another name). Crawford Award for LobTyn Chronicle (trilogy). Reviews and Robots called Time’s Children Best Fantasy Novel of 2018. Interviewed in Strange Horizons, Teleport. “We … construct our worlds twice…. for ourselves [and] again … digestible and entertaining and unobtrusive, not to mention elegant, poetic, even exciting…. all the necessary material – and not an ounce more…. [after we] have unraveled their mysteries … decided which elements … are most important to our stories.” [JH]
Born March 12, 1971 – Rob St. Martin, age 50. Six novels, one novelette, anthology Ages of Wonder (with Julie Cznerneda). Has read Pride and Prejudice, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Tale of Two Cities, Moby-Dick, Romeo and Juliet, Curious George. [JH]
(12) GUARDIAN ANGLE. Lisa Tuttle has a new installment of “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – reviews roundup” at The Guardian in which she reviews Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley; Birds of Paradise by Oliver K Langmead; The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey; A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel; and A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine.
…The battered fragments of corroded brass were barely noticed at first, but decades of scholarly work have revealed the object to be a masterpiece of mechanical engineering. Originally encased in a wooden box one foot tall, the mechanism was covered in inscriptions – a built-in user’s manual – and contained more than 30 bronze gearwheels connected to dials and pointers. Turn the handle and the heavens, as known to the Greeks, swung into motion.
Michael Wright, a former curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, pieced together much of how the mechanism operated and built a working replica, but researchers have never had a complete understanding of how the device functioned. Their efforts have not been helped by the remnants surviving in 82 separate fragments, making the task of rebuilding it equivalent to solving a battered 3D puzzle that has most of its pieces missing.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the UCL team describe how they drew on the work of Wright and others, and used inscriptions on the mechanism and a mathematical method described by the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, to work out new gear arrangements that would move the planets and other bodies in the correct way. The solution allows nearly all of the mechanism’s gearwheels to fit within a space only 25mm deep….
NASA is targeting Thursday, March 18 for the second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
After performing tests to demonstrate that a recently repaired liquid oxygen pre-valve was working, the team has continued to prepare the core stage, its four RS-25 engines, and the B-2 test stand for the second hot fire at Stennis. Later this week, the team will power up the core stage again and do a final check of all its systems. Then, on March 16, two days before the test, they will power up the stage, starting the clock for the second hot fire….
… This is in many ways a very different book than the previous book, Down Among the Dead. Reading it in quick succession after the second book might give some emotional whiplash, it certainly is a gear shift. It’s much more like the first book of the Farian War trilogy, There Before the Chaos, in the sense that it builds up to a big set piece finale of a conflict. Unlike that first book, though, this book is much more about the action beats.
This shows the range and power of the author across the three books, and sets them apart from the first trilogy as well, which is more adrenaline filled….
…This novella constantly shifts from plot point to plot point, that kept me on my toes without unmooring me into confusion. The craft involved with implementing poetic language that benefits the atmosphere, pacey scenes that never lose focus, and characters that I felt like I knew inside out by the story’s conclusion, deserves kudos. Mostly because the novella juggles a small, insulated cast of characters with subterfuges and violence that impact other kingdoms. Fireheart Tiger is like an expansive web that leaves the reader in the center of it, while also skillfully and pithily letting them know of all its disparate parts.
Quarantinewhile… In “Hey, maybe don’t do that” news, Japanese scientists are experimenting on 100-million-year-old bacteria that wake up from their slumber when brought to the surface and provided with food.
(18) PIPING AT THE GATES OF DAWN. And speaking of Lovecraft –
[Thanks To John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Nic Farey, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michel Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
…The phisher, or phishers, employ clever tactics like transposing letters in official-looking email addresses (like “penguinrandornhouse.com” instead of “penguinrandomhouse.com“) and masking the addresses so they only show when the recipient hits “Reply”. They know how publishing works and appear to have access to inside information, utilizing not just public sources like acquisition announcements in trade publications, but details that are harder to uncover: writers’ email addresses, their relationships with agents and editors, delivery and deadline dates, even details of the manuscripts themselves.
And they are ramping up their operations. According to the Times, the scam began appearing “at least” three years ago, but in the past year “the volume of these emails has exploded in the United States.”
So what’s the endgame? Publishing people are stumped. Manuscripts by high-profile authors have been targeted, but also less obviously commercial works: debut novels by unknowns, short story collections, experimental fiction. The manuscripts don’t wind up on the black market, as far as anyone can tell, and don’t seem to be published online. There have been no ransom demands or other attempts at monetization.
[From a New York Times article:] “One of the leading theories in the publishing world, which is rife with speculation over the thefts, is that they are the work of someone in the literary scouting community. Scouts arrange for the sale of book rights to international publishers as well as to film and television producers, and what their clients pay for is early access to information — so an unedited manuscript, for example, would have value to them.”
Rebecca Luker, the actress and singer who in a lauded three-decade career on the New York stage embodied the essence of the Broadway musical ingénue in hit revivals of “Show Boat,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Music Man,” died on Wednesday in a hospital in Manhattan. She was 59. … she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
…Just five years after college, she was on the Broadway stage, assuming the lead female role in “The Phantom of the Opera”— Christine, the chorus girl who is the object of the phantom’s affections.
“Phantom” was her Broadway debut; she began as the understudy to the original star, Sarah Brightman; became an alternate; and took over as Christine in 1989. She remained with the show until 1991.
Ms. Luker moved on immediately to another Broadway show: She played a ghost, the little orphan girl’s dead Aunt Lily, in “The Secret Garden.”
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 23, 1963 — On this night in 1963, Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek” first aired. This was a Christmas-themed story with Art Carney as a Santa Claus fired on Christmas Eve who finds a mysterious bag that gives an apparently unlimited stream of gifts. The script which was written by Rod Serling would be used over in the Eighties version of this series and on the radio program as well. Serling ended the original broadcast with the words, “And a Merry Christmas, to each and all”, but that phrase was deleted in the Eighties and would not be back until Netflix started streaming the series.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 23, 1896 — Máiréad Ní Ghráda. She’s the author of Manannán, a 1940 novel which is regarded as the first such science fiction work in Irish. Several years previously, she translated Peter Pan into Irish, Tír na Deo, the first time it had been so done. (Died 1971.) (CE)
Born December 23, 1927 – Chuch Harris. (“Chuch” from Chuck Harris.) Englander who became an adjunct (at least) of Irish Fandom with a letter to Walt Willis of Slant beginning “Dear Mr. Ellis”. CH submitted a story about a family of werewolves beginning “The family were changing for dinner”. Persuaded to visit Vin¢ Clarke and Ken Bulmer at their flat the Epicentre (mistaking this for the center, or centre, of an earthquake, has a long history) he helped generate Sixth Fandom, was shot with a water-pistol by James White, wrote for Hyphen, and formed Tentacles Across the Sea with Dean Grennell. Much later Spike published the Chuck Harris Appreciation Magazine, which only a Johnson fan like me would call the Great Cham, hello Spike. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born December 23, 1928 – George Heap. Long-time secretary of the Philadelphia SF Society, filker, Tolkien fan before the paperback Lord of the Rings arrived, he moved to Rochester, joined The Cult, and died at the horrid age of 41 just before Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon. You can see four 1960 issues of his SF Viewsletter here. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born December 23, 1929 — Peggy Fortnum. She’s an English illustrator beloved for illustrating Michael Bond‘s Paddington Bear series. She first illustrated him in A Bear Called Paddington. One of Fortnum’s Paddington illustrations is part of a series of stamps that was issued by the Royal Mail in 2006 celebrating animals from children’s literature. Somehow it seems appropriate on Christmas for me to share that stamp here. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born December 23, 1945 — Raymond E. Feist, 75. Best known for the Riftwar series. The only novel I’ve read by him is was Faerie Tale, a dark fantasy set in the state of New York, which is one damn scary work. His only Award to date is a HOMer Award for Servant of the Empire which he co-wrote with Janny Wurts. (CE)
Born December 23, 1978 — Estella Warren, 42. Deena on the Planet of The Apes. She also shows up in Ghost Whisper, the Beauty and the Beast film as Belle the Beauty, Taphephobia, Feel the Dead and Age of the Living Dead. (CE)
Born December 23, 1954 – Susan Grant, age 66. U.S. Air Force veteran, then commercial pilot; 18,000 hours flight time. RITA Award – for Contact, an SF romance; there’s cross-genre action for you. A score of novels, a few shorter stories, several Booklist and Library Journal Books of the Year. [JH]
Born December 23, 1960 – Miyabe Miyuki, age 60. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Six novels, ten shorter stories so far available in English. Yamamoto Shûgorô Prize, Naoki Prize, two Yoshikawa Eiji Prizes, Nihon SF Taishô Award. Mystery Writers of Japan Award. Batchelder Award for the English translation of her Brave Story. Film, television, manga, video games. All She Was Worth (English title) called a watershed in the history of women’s detective fiction. [JH]
Born December 23, 1970 – Natalie Damschroder, age 50. A dozen novels for us, thirty all told, many shorter stories. Loves the New England Patriots more than anything except her family, writing, reading, and popcorn. I omit what she thinks her teen fiction kicks. [JH]
Born December 23, 1984 — Alison Sudol, 36. She’s known for her role as Queenie Goldstein on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I do so like those titles. She’s also has a recurring role as Kaya in Transparent, a series which is at least genre adjacent for its genre content and certainly SJW in content. (CE)
Born December 23, 1985 – Marta Dahlig, age 35. Digital artist, mostly. Here is the Jun 05 Revelation. Here is The Shifter (German edition, translated as The Healer). Here is Sloth. In a different vein, here is Mimi and the Brave Magic. [JH]
Born December 23, 1986 — Noël Wells, 34. Voice actor on Star Trek: Below Decks where she voices the green-colored Ensign D’Vana Tendi. I so wanted to love this series but was actually repelled by it. I said a year ago that “It should a rather fun time.” Well I was wrong. So what do y’all think of it? (CE)
(7) COMICS SECTION.
“Shoe” might have this same reaction to some of the book lists I run.
“Get Fuzzy” doesn’t treat a famous mathematician with the gravity his deserves.
…Beginning in 1970, it culls together a half century of powerful American short stories from all genres, including–for the first time in a literary anthology–science fiction, horror, and fantasy, placing writers such as Usula Le Guin, Ken Liu and Stephen King next to some of the often-taught geniuses of the form–Grace Paley, Toni Cade Bambara, Sandra Cisneros, and Denis Johnson. Culling widely, Freeman, the former editor of Granta and now of his own literary annual, brings forward some astonishing work to be regarded in a new light. Often overlooked tales by Dorothy Allison, Charles Johnson, and Toni Morrison will recast the shape and texture of today’s enlarging atmosphere of literary dialogue.
(9) BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. Jason Scott retells a story he says happened in the 1990s. Thread starts here.
Here in Narnia, it is so, so important that we have seasons, as I, the White Witch, have always been the absolute first to say. Lots of seasons, one leading to the next, leading to Christmas. I have always cared the most about seasons, and the second most about being absolutely sure that there will be Christmas. “More Seasons for Narnia!” was actually my slogan, although it was on a bumper sticker covered in ice crystals and hidden on my sledge under a big heap of Turkish delight. But I knew that it was there….
[Thanks to Chris Rose, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, 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.]
After the glorious accident of having been born at all, there are myriad ways any one life could be lived. The lives we do live are bridges across the immense river of possibility, suspended by two pylons: what we want and what we make. In an ideal life — a life of purpose and deep fulfillment — the gulf of being closes and the pylons converge: We make what we want to see exist.
(2) JOIN eAPA AND LEARN QUAINT AND CURIOUS FORGOTTEN LORE. [Item by Garth Spencer.] eAPA, one of the longest-running electronic Amateur Publication Associations, is a great place to find and learn Things Fans Were Not Meant to Know! Words that rhyme with orange, for instance, or the curse that sank Atlantis, or the REAL reason why the British Empire is no more!
You too can share your Forbidden Knowledge of the Lost Civilization of Sitnalta, why the fabulous city of Temlaham was buried under a landslide, and the Hideous Sign now covered by the Site C Dam! JOIN the international quest to save humanity from the approaching threat to us all!
Or just have fun writing fannish contributions to a monthly APA.
I’ve written several posts about a fairly new phenomenon in the world of writing scams: scammers that falsely use the names of reputable publishing professionals, including literary agents and publishers, to lure writers into paying large amounts of money for worthless, substandard, and/or never-delivered services.
This time, I’m breaking down a very similar scam that, capitalizing on the pandemic-fueled popularity of Netflix and other streaming services (as well as the eternal writerly dream of having one’s book translated into film), is appropriating the name of Clare Richardson, Senior Scout for film and TV at the New York office of Maria B. Campbell Associates, to hoodwink writers in an unusually complicated–and expensive–scheme.
… I have been longing to read Susanna Clarke again for 16 years, ever since I turned the last page in “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.” I was surprised to find PIRANESI (Bloomsbury, $27) anticipating pandemic confinement — the difficulty of dividing time, of maintaining a stable sense of self — through a filter of marble and gold, of rushing ocean, of tenderness and love.
Oceans may be rare in the inner Solar System—Mars and Mercury are too small for oceans while Mercury and Venus are too hot—but if we consider that water is composed of hydrogen (the most common element in the universe) and oxygen (the third most common element), it seems likely that water would be pretty common too. Indeed, if we look at the worlds out beyond the Solar System’s frost line, we note that there are likely to be oceans within Europa, Enceladus, Ganymede, Ceres, Pluto, and other small worlds.
As for exoplanets (which we have been discovering at a surprising rate, of late) … well, some of them must have oceans, or be covered with oceans, as well. SF authors, even before the exoplanet boom, have long been imagining water worlds. Here are a few books about ocean planets.
In the late 1990s, the offices of Meanjin magazine in Melbourne would receive a package of tobacco-scented and wine-stained proofs four times a year.
They were from their charismatic editorial consultant John Bangsund who, with an unmatched studiousness and attention to detail, had pored over each issue to make sure no errors or inaccuracies had slipped through before it went to print.
It was this unwavering passion for words and writing, matched by a deep knowledge about everything from classical music to science fiction, that saw the Melbourne editor become a beloved figure within literary circles for decades…
It is with great sorrow that I report that Debra Doyle, my beloved bride of 42 years, died this evening at 1841 hours. She died of an apparent cardiac event, at home, in my arms.
Doyle authored or co-authored over thirty novels and more than 30 short stories, usually with her husband. Knight’s Wyrd, co-authored by Doyle and MacDonald, was awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 1992. Their story “Remailer” was longlisted for the Tiptree Award in 2000. Both of them taught at the Viable Paradise genre writer’s workshop on Martha’s Vineyard.
This GoFundMe is to cover funeral costs, the extent of which is not currently known. Any additional funds raised beyond what is needed for burial will be used to ease the transition for her husband, Jim.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born November 1, 1897 – Naomi Mitchison. A dozen novels, fifty shorter stories, for us; a hundred books, a thousand short stories, book reviews, essays, travel, poems, recollections, in all. Much moved by leftist causes, though she was eventually unhappy with the political Left, her work, never neutral, at best finds its own strength. She wrote historical, allegorical, fantastic, sometimes scientific fiction. Feminist, gardener, rancher. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born November 1, 1910 – Malcolm Smith. Woodworker, pulp illustrator, staff artist for Marshall Space Flight Center; he drew for us, also detective stories, Westerns, newspapers. Here is the Apr 43 Fantastic. Here is the Feb 48 Amazing. Here is the Mar 50 Other Worlds. Here is the Feb 58 Imagination. (Died 1966) [JH]
November 1, 1917 — Zenna Henderson. Her first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951. The People series appeared in magazines and anthologies, as well as the stitched together Pilgrimage: The Book of the People and The People: No Different Flesh. Other volumes include The People Collection and Ingathering: The Complete People Stories. She was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1959 for her novelette “Captivity.” Her story “Pottage” was made into the 1972 ABC-TV Movie, “The People”. “Hush” became an episode of George A. Romero’s Tales from the Darkside which first aired in 1988. (Died 1983.) (CE)
November 1, 1923 — Gordon R. Dickson. Truly one of the best writers in the genre. I’m not going to even begin to detail his stellar career in any detail as that would require a skald to do so. His first published genre fiction was the short story “Trespass!”, written with Poul Anderson, in the Spring 1950 issue of Fantastic Stories which was the first issue of Fantastic Story Magazine as it came to be titled later. Childe Cycle involving the Dorsai is his best known series and the Hoka are certainly his silliest creation. I’m very, very fond of his Dragon Knight series which I think really reflects his interest in that history. (Died 2001.) (CE)
Born November 1, 1923 – Dean Grennell. Pioneer Wisconsin fan, served in the Army Air Corps (“Nothing can stop…”), moved to Los Angeles where I met him. Fanzine Grue (its name a parody of True). Here is his cover for Sky Hook 25. Coined several fannish expressions e.g. croggle, “a verb signifying intense disturbance of a subjective nature” – H. Warner) and the unrelated if like-sounding crottled greeps (“But if you don’t like crottled greeps, what did you order them for?”). More here. (Died 2004) [JH]
November 1, 1941 — Robert Foxworth, 79. He’s been on quite a number of genre shows including The Questor Tapes,seaQuest DSV, Deep Space Nine, Outer Limits, Enterprise, Stargate SG-1 and Babylon 5. His first genre role was as Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein where Bo Swenson played the monster. (CE)
November 1, 1942 — Michael Fleisher. Comics writer best known for his DC Comics work of in the Seventies and Eighties on Spectre and the not very traditional Jonah Hex. (Hopefully they’ll be added to the expanded DC universe comics app next year.) He also has had long runs on Ghost Rider and Spider-Woman early on which shows that he is a rather good writer even then. (Died 2018) (CE)
Born November 1, 1956 – Lynne Jonell, 64. The Secret of Zoom (a topic many of us wish we understood today) was a School Library Journal Best Book of 2009; President Obama bought one for his daughter (no blame to him that it has an orphan boy named Taft). Ten more books, some about rats, cats. “I’m tall. I like to sail…. I have a patient and loving husband and two wonderful sons who are loving (but not so patient)…. I like to look out my widow at the branches of trees…. This is good for inspiration and also lets me pretend I am thinking hard.” [JH]
November 1, 1959 — Susanna Clarke, 61. Author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell which I think wins my award for the most footnoted work in genre literature. It won the World Fantasy, Nebula, Locus, Mythopoeic and Hugo Awards for Best Novel. It was adapted into a BBC series and optioned for a film. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories collects her short works and is splendid indeed. Her latest novel, Piranesi, is getting good reviews here. (CE)
Born November 1, 1964 – Karen Marie Moning, 56. Eight books about highlanders, a dozen in a Fever Universe; Shadowfever and more have been NY Times Best Sellers. Two RITA Awards. Her Website quotes Jorge Luis Borges “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,” hello Evelyn Leeper. [JH]
Born November 1, 1965 – Alberto Varanda, 55. Portuguese working in French. A dozen covers; here is The Angel and Death; here is The Death of Ayesha; here is Enchanter; here is Blood of Amber. [JH]
November 1, 1973 — Aishwarya Rai, 46. Actress who’s done two SF films in India, the Tamil language Enthiran (translates as Robot) in which she’s Sana, the protagonist’s medical student girlfriend, and Mala in Action Replayy, a Hindi-language SF romantic comedy. She was also Sonia in The Pink Panther 2. (CE)
Guernica: Encountering your work, it’s almost like you need to get something out of your system— which gets crystallized in Blue Light of the Screen. Did you think of this book as an exorcism of sorts?
Cronin: It became something like that towards the end. It’s definitely confessional, [and] a little bit psychoanalytic, but I was the therapist and the patient.
Exorcism stories are not resolved at the end. Well, some exorcism movies do resolve the demonic possession, but even when that happens, there is still the sense that evil is floating around in the ether, waiting for its next victim. And in true stories of demonic possession, a victim often has to be exorcised many times, over many years. The threat doesn’t really go away.
In the case of my book, I did attempt to find resolution, but of course the problems that I deal with keep going. There’s still evil in the world and plenty of reasons to feel despair. Though I wanted to show that I’d found some self-awareness and faith through my struggles, I didn’t want to write a happy ending. I don’t believe in happy endings; they’re not true to life. At the end of a ghost story, something ominous still lurks.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Steve Miller, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Garth Spencer, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) ANOTHER AGENCY MELTDOWN. After Marisa Corvisiero’s tweet provoked several agents to resign from her agency — Corvisiero fired the rest. Book & Film Globe supplies the background:
Literary Twitter has responded in all manner of ways to the death of George Floyd and to the subsequent nationwide outrage. Anti-racist book lists abound, black-owned bookstores get great press, and people continue to call out the publishing industry for racism. Most recent is Marisa Corvisiero, founder and agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency, an NYC-based boutique agency whose clients include Maze Runner author James Dashner, who publisher Penguin Randomhouse dropped in 2018 over allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Make your point, take a stand, and don’t hurt other people or damage property in the process,” said Corvisiero yesterday in a now-deleted tweet. “No violence is acceptable ever. The whole point is to be heard and seen to help make things better.”
In response to this statement and to the agency’s representation of Dashner, many members of Corvisiero’s staff resigned this week. And if things ended there, this wouldn’t be news. Instead, Corvisiero doubled down by firing her remaining staffers.
Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware tweeted a screencap of Corvisiero’s message telling her agents they were fired:
Here are some tweets from the agents who resigned.
Due to facing criticism from tweets sent out by the owner of CLA, many clients discovered that their literary agents were fired en masse and now have their livelihoods thrown in disarray during a pandemic. This directory is meant for literary agents and editors to help ease the blow and economic hardship this has placed on these writers by finding them home for new work.
(2) HUGO VOTER PACKET TABLE OF CONTENTS. Laura’s Library has made a list of what’s in the “2020 Hugo Voters Packet”. There are also detailed comments citing problems with some documents.
In the following breakdown, I have put an asterisk (*) next to the file types where I noticed formatting issues. In most cases, these issues only affect the EPUB and MOBI formats, and the PDF version of the same book looks fine….
…We support Black Lives Matter and the protesters who are seeking justice for centuries of white supremacy and police brutality.
We acknowledge that SFWA has historically ignored and, in too many instances, reinforced the injustices, systemic barriers, and unaddressed racism, particularly toward Black people, that have contributed to this moment. We have allowed those who spoke for change in SFWA to be drowned out by those who clung to the status quo. We have a responsibility to admit our failings and to continually commit to dismantling these oppressive and harmful systems, both within this organization and ourselves.
These are the actions that SFWA is taking as first steps to clean our own house and work towards making our community safer for Black writers.
(5) FINANCIAL TIMES NOTES CHINESE WORLDCON BID.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the May 30 Financial Times, Jing Tsu, John M Schiff professor of East Asian languages and literatures at Yale University, discusses the Chinese 2023 Worldcon bid as part of her survey of current Chinese sf.
…Meanwhile, even as they opened their doors, the organisers of the Chengdu gathering (AsiaCon) were also thinking, on a more global scale, eyeing a bid to host the World Science Fiction Convention in 2023. For those outside the sci-fi world, ‘Worldcon’–an annual affair that has been running for over 80 years and draws from a mainly North American and European fan base of sci-fi enthusiasts–might not mean very much.
But for those in the know, it is, according to Yao Haijun, editor of Chengdu-based magazine Science Fiction World, which helped organise AsiaCon, like bidding to host the Olympics. Landing WorldCon would confirm China’s position as a global centre in sci-fi. not just an ordinary participant. ‘It would be a true landmark,’ says Han Song, a widely respected voice in the Chinese science-fiction world, ‘to bring writers and fans from disparate worlds together to learn and share one another’s visions for the future.’
A concerted effort is now under way to secure the necessary support among the 6,000 or so WorldCon fan members who will vote on the location for the 2023 event. The Chinese sci-fi community has been diligently lobbying for the idea, dispatching representatives to staff booths at recent world conventions in London, Helsinki, San Jose, and Dublin to spread the slogan of Chengdu–‘Panda Wants a WorldCon.’
As such, China’s sci-fi scene is emerging as an unexpected element in a broader initiative of cultural diplomacy aimed at projecting a positive and engaging impression of the country abroad. Yet unlike Beijing’s ‘panda’ or ‘ping-pong’ initiatives of the past, it is driven by popular grassroots enthusiasm–which has made Chinese officials sit up and take notice.
Tsu interviewed Discon III co-chair Bill Lawhorn, who said he visited Chengdu and found a “city pushing to be on the cutting edge.’
Last night, the San Dimas High School seniors graduated in a virtual ceremony attended by the school’s most famous alumni: Bill Preston and Ted Logan, the time-traveling, air guitar-playing heroes of the Bill & Ted movies. Appearing in a short video message, actors Keanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill) offered their hearty congratulations to the class of 2020.
“We know that it’s a tough time right now and that you’re having to do this virtual graduation,” Winter said. “We wanna wish you the best of luck moving forward.”
“Well done,” added Reeves.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 4, 1982 — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan premiered. Directed by Nicholas Meyer and produced by Robert Sallin, the screenplay was by Jack B. Sowards off a story by Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards. It starred the entire original Trek cast plus guest stars of Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley and Ricardo Montalbán. Gene Roddenberry was not involved in its production. It was a box office success and critics really, really liked it. It’s generally considered the best of all the Trek films ever produced. It would finish second to Bladerunner at ConStellation for Best Dramatic Presentation. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a stellar 90% rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 4, 1894 – Patricia Lynch. Interwove Irish rural life and fantasy. In The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey (here’s a Jack Yeats illustration) and 3 sequels, children meet the Salmon of Knowledge and Fionn mac Cumhaill (pronounced roughly “fin m’cool”), are replaced by mischievous changelings, and like that; in Brogeen of the Stepping Stones and 11 sequels the leprechaun Brogeen keeps running away from home, with his elephant companion Trud. Fifty novels, two hundred shorter stories. (Died 1972) [JH]
Born June 4, 1897 — Robert J. Hogan. Starting in 1933 and lasting for 115 issues, his G-8 and His Battle Aces (both the name of the superhero here and the pulp itself), battled mad scientists, vampires, weirdly advanced technology and the like. He also wrote The Secret 6: The Complete Adventures, more pulp adventures which had an even stronger SF bent. The latter is available at the usual digital suspects for a very reasonable price. (Died 1963.) (CE)
Born June 4, 1916 – Ozma Baum Mantele. First granddaughter of L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). The Lost Princess of Oz was dedicated to her. It was one of her last wishes that Baum’s manuscript of his last Oz book (Glinda of Oz) be donated to the Library of Congress; done, the year after her death. “Memories of My Grandmother Baum”, “Ozcot, My Second Home”, and “Fairy Tales Can Come True If You’re Young At Heart” in The Baum Bugle; see also its “Baum Family Questionnaire”. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born June 4, 1930 – Steve Schultheis. Coined “Beastley’s on the Bayou” when Beatley’s hotel on Indian Lake, Ohio, wouldn’t admit African-American Bev Clark to Midwestcon IV. Wrote (with Virginia Schultheis) the song “Captain Future Meets Gilbert & Sullivan”. Retrieved the 15th Worldcon’s gavel for the Goon Defective Agency, in what proved to be as true to life as the Agency itself (John Berry wrote up the Agency, satirizing himself as Goon Bleary). Instrumental in composing the World Science Fiction Society constitution adopted by the 21st Worldcon. [JH]
Born June 4, 1936 — Bruce Dern, 84. Here for Silent Running, a film I’d completely forgotten I’d seen until compiling this Birthday but which I thought was awesome when I saw in-theatre. It’s the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who went on to much more famous projects. He also shows up in a number of other genre films such as The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, The Haunting, The Astronaut Farmer and Freaks. Needless to say, you’ll find him on series such as The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Land of the Giants. (CE)
Born June 4, 1951 — Wendi Pini, 69. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest which won them a Balrog. Over the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! (CE)
Born June 4, 1953 – Pam Fremon, F.N. Chaired two Boskones; worked on 47th, 62nd, 66th Worldcons (maybe more if I remembered better). Elected a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; for service). Here’s a photo of some watermelon art for the Orlando in 2001 Worldcon bid. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born June 4, 1960 — Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 60. If you’ve not discovered the amazements of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is a great deal of fun no matter where you start. Other than those two series, I’ve not read deeply of her, so recommendations are welcome. Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for “Sing”. Her Website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A.J. Budrys. (CE)
Born June 4, 1969 – Ralph Voltz. German-born illustrator now of North Carolina. Four hundred fifty covers, and much else, in and out of our field. Here is This Is My Funniest; here is The Nakk and the Cat (Nakks are in the Perry Rhodan universe); here is “Star Wars” on Trial. [JH]
Born June 4, 1972 — Joe Hill, 48. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops. Nice guy like his father. Actually, the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts. I’ve got Full Throttle, his latest collection in my digital reading pile. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award. (CE)
Born June 4, 1975 — Angelina Jolie, 45. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen, nor have any desire to see, her two Maleficent films. (CE)
Born June 4, 1984 – Xia Jia. A dozen short stories so far; under the name by which she earned a Ph.D. she is a university lecturer in China. In “The Demon-Enslaving Flask” James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) meets a demon, with footnotes. “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” shows what at first seems a haunted keep, as in millennia of Chinese stories, but proves to be a decayed far-future theme park with cyborgs. Translated into Czech, English, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Spanish. [JH]
But not all sci-fi vehicles are fondly remembered like the USS Enterprise or Mad Max’s Interceptor. Some of these haven’t aged well while others are just hilariously lame in general. In this list, we will rank 10 such hilariously bad vehicles in sci-fi films….
8. Total Recall – Johnny Cab
Total Recall‘s chaotic future seems to be annoying on purpose with all sorts of flashy, over-the-top technology, and space creatures. No wonder that leading man Arnold Schwarzenneger spends most of the movie in a cranky mood. The cherry on the top is the Johnny Cab.
Johnny Cabs are the taxis of the year 2084 that are driven by robotic drivers that look more like a creepy human-size ventriloquist dummy. And these drivers can be really annoying, making small talk with the passengers at every instance. Further, the cabs are pretty grotesque in themselves. In fact, the Tesla trucks pretty much look like Johnny Cabs!
(11) GRANDMA THEFT AUTO. Behind a paywall in The Week:
“A 90-year-old Japanese woman has developed an online following for her skill in playing video games. Hamako Mori, known as the ‘Gaming Grandma,’ said she acquired her passion for gaming 39 years ago while watching children play. ‘It looked like so much fun,’ she said, adding it wasn’t ‘fair if only children’ got to play. Today, 150,000 YouTube followers log in to watch her play her favorite game: the violent Grand Theft Auto 5, where a carjacker kills people with an assortment of weapons. ‘I am truly enjoying my life,’ she said. ‘It’s rosy.'”
(12) THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Camestros Felapton explained the true origins of his prowess.
(13) DUDS ON JEOPARDY! [Item by Andrew Porter.] First day of the Teacher’s Tournament Final on Jeopardy!
Not science fiction or fantasy, but still stunningly wrong questions.
Answer: On this man’s death in a 1935 motorcycle accident, Churchill said, his “pace of life was faster & more intense than the ordinary.”
All three got it wrong:
“Who is Chamberlain?”
“Who is Astin-Martin?”
“Who is Davidson?”
Correct question: “Who is T.E. Lawrence?”
I am pondering a world in which Neville Chamberlain died in a motorcycle accident — who knew he had it in him? — and never got to be PM, or met Herr Hitler, or wave that piece of paper in the air….
The Jodrell Bank Observatory is being “switched back on” after the longest shutdown in its history.
The first set of telescopes have resumed operations at the Cheshire site after it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said a spokesman.
During lockdown, staffing at the University of Manchester facility was cut from about 60 to a “skeleton crew”.
Scientists have dubbed the switch-on the biggest “reboot” in the history of astrophysics.
Research, including a study into how planets form around stars, has continued at home since on-site research ended on 17 March.
The world famous site will remain closed to visitors until the government changes its guidelines on visiting public places such as museums, said a spokesman. ‘Positive signal’
Jodrell Bank, which opened in 1957, is known as the birthplace of radio astronomy and is one of the earliest radio telescopes in the world.
(15) CRUNCHABLY SOFT. Oor Wombat risks all for science. And cleans up after. Thread starts here.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George’s “If The News Was A Person.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elisa.]
(1) THE TOP OF THE WORLD. Rachel S. Cordasco is dedicating June to “Nordic SF in Translation” on her SF in Translation site and on FB and Twitter: “SFT From The Nordic Countries” . She’s looking for on-topic contributions, too.
Speculative fiction in English translation from the Nordic countries has been available as far back as the turn of the twentieth century. Since the beginning of the twenty-first, though, we’ve gotten a lot more, especially horror from Sweden and fantasy from Finland.
During the month of June, I’ll be spotlighting this little-known (in the Anglosphere) but important and often brilliant speculative fiction. Several stories listed here are available for free online.
Elizabeth Knox has been named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature in the Queen’s Birthday honours list announced today. We note that she describes her books as “literary non-realism”, but if you read them you will recognise science fiction and fantasy when you see it.
Taika Waititi picked up an ONZM in the same awards for services to film. He has been involved in many projects which fit in our genre description, although we note that the Stuff article about the awards fails to mention his role in the creation of what we here at SFFANZ news think is the best of them – Wellington Paranormal.
Stuff fills in Knox’s bibliography:
…The first book in the series, Dreamhunter, won the 2006 Esther Glen Award and the 2007 ALA Best Books for Young Adults award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and awarded a ‘White Raven’ by the International Youth Library in 2006.
Her most recent book, published in 2019, The Absolute Book, won the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement.
(3) FELLOWSHIP REUNITED. Josh Gad has posted “One Zoom to Rule Them All | Reunited Apart LORD OF THE RINGS Edition.”
It’s the Return of the KINGS – Josh gathers the Fellowship and then some, to go on a very important mission…. quest…. thing.
FEATURING: Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellan, and many more!
(4) CHECKING IN. CoNZealand Fan Guest of Honour Rose Mitchell stays in touch —
(5) SOUTH GATE IN ’58. Fanac.org is adding folders of photos scanned from the collection of Elinor Busby, including today’s packet from the 1958 Worldcon. (Which, incidentally, was held at the Hotel Alexandria, whose marquee was in a helicopter view I saw of Friday night’s protests in downtown LA.)
Thanks to the scanning of Linda Deneroff, we’re putting up photos from Elinor Busby’s collection. Today, we’ve added the first 16 and these are from the 1958 Solacon, and parties thereafter. Find them at http://fanac.org/Fan_Photo_Album/b03-p00.html . There are more to come. Thanks to Linda for scanning and to Elinor for providing the photos. It’s a real treat to see these.
… The text includes long lists of suicidal chess players, war criminals and notable Latvian celebrities, from Mikhail Baryshnikov to Mark Rothko. There are also accounts of victims of the Nazis, from Ban’s uncle’s young love, a violinist, to Joseph Roth’s mentally ill wife, fatally institutionalised in the euthanasia clinic Schloss Hartheim, “the only killing centre in the second world war from which not a single person emerged alive”.
…These issues are as relevant now as they were years ago, if not more so (see, for instance, the ChiZine scandal, where authors accepted all kinds of abuse, including questionable contract language, because of the publisher’s then-stellar reputation). I hear all the time from writers who’ve been offered seriously problematic contracts and are using various rationalizations to convince themselves (sometimes at the publisher’s urging) that bad language or bad terms are not actually so bad, or are unlikely ever to apply.
Here are my suggestions for changing these damaging ways of thinking.
Don’t assume that every single word of your contract won’t apply to you at some point. You may think “Oh, that will never happen” (for instance, the publisher’s right to refuse to publish your manuscript if it thinks that changes in the market may reduce your sales, or its right to terminate the contract if it believes you’ve violated a non-disparagement clause). Or the publisher may tell you “We never actually do that” (for instance, edit at will without consulting you, or impose a termination fee). But if your contract says it can happen, it may well happen…and if it does happen, can you live with it? That’s the question you need to ask yourself when evaluating a contract….
…Muren’s role also expanded with Empire, as he took point on directing the fleet of miniatures that play a major part of the film’s iconic opening set-piece on the ice planet, Hoth. With the advent of digital technology still many years away, Muren and his team brought the Rebel’s herd of tauntauns and the Empire’s squad of AT-AT walkers to life by hand. And through it all, he followed the example established by Harryhausen.
Mr. Hann began selling books and CDs in stores in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan starting at least in the early 1980s, before settling into his longtime spot on Broadway between 112th and 113th Streets.
To generations of Columbia students, he was part of the streetscape, as much a sidewalk fixture as the parking meter he leaned upon while almost invariably immersed in a sci-fi paperback.
But even when his head was in a galaxy far away, his tennis shoes were planted on New York streets, where life, he would remark, could often be stranger than anything dreamed up by Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov….
(10) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
The name of the soft serve ice cream cart on the space force military base is named Meal Armstrong
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 31, 1990 — Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall premiered. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. It’s rather loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” story. Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman Wrote the screenplay. It finished second at Chicon V for Best Dramatic Presentation to Edward Scissorhands. Most critics liked it well-enough though a number of feminist critics thought it excessively violent towards women. It currently holds a 78% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 31, 1893 – Elizabeth Coatsworth. Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930). Four “incredible tales” for adults; four books of poetry; ninety in all; memoir Personal Geography. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. His 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. That was a British award and the first one was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born May 31, 1910 – Aubrey MacDermott. Possibly the first fan. He always said he was. Unfortunately, the supporting evidence is thin. He may well have founded the Eastbay Club in the San Francisco Bay area around 1928. Anyway, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXXX (Oakland, 1987). Here is his Origin Story as of 1990. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born May 31, 1921 – Arthur Sellings. Six novels, fifty shorter stories, in Fantastic, Galaxy, Imagination, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nebula, New Worlds, New Writing, Worlds of Tomorrow; translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian. Born in Kent, died in Sussex. Antiquarian, book & art dealer. (Died 1968) [JH]
Born May 31, 1930 — Gary Brandner. Best remembered for his werewolf trilogy, The Howling of which the first was very loosely made into a film. He wrote the script for Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. The fourth film of the Howling series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, is actually almost an accurate adaptation of the first novel. He wrote a lot of other horror and penned the novelisation of Cat People. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born May 31, 1942 – Brian Burley. Active fan in Ohio and New York. In 1966, co-founder of Marcon. In 1979 he was in FISTFA (Fannish Insurgent Scientifictional Ass’n); here he is (with S.H. Craig and Pat O’Neill) on “Fandom in New York” for the Lunacon XXII Program Book. Co-founded (with John Boardman and Fred Lerner) the Beaker People Libation Front, which Fancyclopedia III mildly calls “not entirely serious”; see here. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison,70. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought It had. He was Logan 5 in Logan’s Run which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object), Touched by an Angel, Outer Limits and Miracles. (CE)
Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 59. She’s obviously best-known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it. (CE)
Born May 31, 1968 — John Connolly, 52. An Irish writer who is best known for his series of novels starring private detective Charlie Parker. According to ISFDB, these novels are well within the genre as some of the assigned tags are “zombies”, “alien invasion”, “supernatural thriller” and “dark fantasy”. So who has read these? (CE)
Born May 31, 1977 – Cat Hellisen. Fantasy for adults and children; free-lance editing; also archery, aikidô, figure skating. Here is a digital-art sketch of a chaffinch; here in ink are some vines and chrysalides. First novel, When the Sea is Rising Red; four more; a dozen and a half shorter stories. “The Worme Bridge” won the Short Story Day Africa award. More recently in Fife she likes the forests and the fields and the Forth. [JH]
Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 41. She has a very well-crafted alternative history series, the Romanitas series, in which Rome didn’t fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novel — Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds of a Heinlein YA novel. (CE)
Born May 31, 1995 – Jeremy Szal. Two dozen short stories electronically and on paper, e.g. at Tor.comand in Nature. Fiction editor at StarShipSofa 2014-2020 (Episodes 360-600). First novel Stormblood scheduled for release in early June. See his review of Predestination at Strange Horizons here. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Candorville revises a nursery rhyme for greater astrophysical accuracy.
…I experienced Tochi Onyebuchi’s RIOT BABY(Tor.com, 176 pp., $19.99) as one tightly held breath. Moving from South Central Los Angeles to Harlem to Rikers Island to a speculative near-future in short bursts of fierce feeling, “Riot Baby,” Onyebuchi’s first novel for adults, is as much the story of Ella and her brother, Kevin, as it is the story of black pain in America, of the extent and lineage of police brutality, racism and injustice in this country, written in prose as searing and precise as hot diamonds.
Ella has a “Thing,” a power that manifests variably as telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, but isn’t ever described in those terms; she experiences it as overwhelming grief and anger, as explosion and aftermath, and struggles with controlling and deploying it over the course of the book. Kevin, born in 1992 during the Los Angeles riots, grows up in Harlem in the shadow of Ella’s furious, repressed power — but when Ella vanishes after watching reports of the murder of Sean Bell on television, she takes her limited protection of him with her. Kevin’s adolescence consists of being harassed by the police and consistently steered away from education and prospects, before getting arrested on an attempted armed robbery charge and imprisoned on Rikers….
…. For great love, as the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wis?awa Szymborska observed in her splendid meditation on its mystery, is “never justified” but is rather “like the little tree that springs up in some inexplicable fashion on the side of a cliff: where are its roots, what does it feed on, what miracle produces those green leaves?”
That improbable and inexplicable miracle is what Edward Gorey (February 22, 1925–April 15, 2000) celebrates with his signature faux-terse tenderness and soulful oddness in the vintage gem The Osbick Bird (public library).
This week in The Full Lid, Streets of Rage 4 teaches me how to crystallize my love for a good action scene. Louie Stowell’s wonderful The Dragon in the Library is a big-hearted and witty MG fantasy that has a lot for parents too while Doctor Who audio specialists Big Finish head into new SFnal territory with The Human Frontier. We’ve also got a look at some of the best indie tabletop RPGs on the market and a massive Signal Boost section, including several Hugo finalists and their voter packet material. If you’re a finalist and you have your material hosted online already, please get in touch and I’d be happy to link to that too.
The Full Lid is published every Friday at 5pm BST. You can sign up, and find an archive of the last six months of issues, here.
…Back in 2018, Necco—one of America’s oldest candy companies—went out of business, leaving a number of well-known but polarizing products in limbo, including Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, Clark Bars, Mary Janes, and the eponymous Necco Wafers. Nearly all of these brands have been snapped up by someone. For instance, Sweethearts are a Valentine’s Day classic, so Ohio’s Spangler Candy Company has been pushing to get them back into production. The Clark Bar has its roots in Pittsburgh, so Pennsylvania’s Boyer Candy Company decided to bring the bar home. Heck, even Mary Jane—those peanut butter chews that made it easy to decide which houses to T.P. on Halloween—found a new producer, according to CandyIndustry.com.
But what about Necco Wafers? The flavored discs are historically significant, first produced over 150 years ago in 1847, but they are also often unfavorably compared to chalk. Plus, with Necco unable to keep the lights on, was the writing on the wall for the company’s signature wafers?
Imagining your place in the universe can make you feel pretty small and insignificant, and in the midst of a global pandemic? Well, even more so.
“I think this moment that we are living through reminds us how fragile our species is, living on this small rock in the vastness of the cosmos,” says astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana. But he doesn’t think that the universe should necessarily make you feel alone. It’s inspiring, he says, to remember the “intimate and enduring connections that we have with the rest of the cosmos.”
Jayawardhana, a professor at Cornell University, has written a bedtime story called Child of the Universe which helps parents talk with their children about some of those connections.
“The universe conspired to make you …” a dad tells his daughter as they look up at a full moon. “The iron in your blood, the calcium in your bones, are made up of stars that lived long ago.”
Jayawardhana drew from memories of looking up at the night sky with his father, when he was a child growing up in Sri Lanka. “I remember being awed by constellations of twinkling stars and bright planets like Venus and Jupiter in particular” Jayawardhana says. “One night, my father told me that people had been to the moon. I was just amazed. Suddenly, that bright light up above became a place that one could visit. At that moment, my sense of what’s possible expanded dramatically.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, Scott Edelman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Unreal and Unfit magazines use Thinkerbeat Reader to “chart… the authors that we thought did really well with a story submission.” But these are not stories they bought – six days ago they tweeted out a link to the list of stories they rejected. The page had names, titles, and a rating between one and five stars. One problem: none of the authors had given them permission to do so.
As we read the stories we rank them. For 1 star, not shown on the list, please try again. For 5 stars, we buy them, also not shown on the list. For 2 to 4 stars, we think you deserve recognition and have created this list to say thank you.
If you’re an author out there submitting short stories, you should be aware of the things that the magazine Unfit and Unreal (via their portal Thinkerbeat Reader) are doing without your permission.
Here’s a screenshot from the page where they publish the authors, titles, and ratings for some stories they’ve rejected….
(Yes, public. This page is visible to everyone, not only Thinkerbeat readers.)
…Maybe some authors are willing to have their rejections named & rated. I certainly wouldn’t be, but that’s your choice to make. But it’s DEFINITELY not okay to share information about individual submissions without asking permission. None of the authors in my screenshot were aware of this until I told them.…
After some subtweeting (see here for an example), Jason Sanford broke the news on Twitter. His thread about Kinney’s post has received numerous responses from editors and writers. Starts here.
Stephen Granade writes: “I was one of
the authors on the list, and chose to out myself, as the editor hadn’t asked
permission” – see his tweet here.
Interestingly enough, the magazines claim they won’t use your data in any way — see screencap of their policy in this tweet by Erin M. Hartshorn.
To add to this lack of professionalism, when Benjamin
Kinney asked about this practice, the editor of the magazines replied simply,
Victoria Strauss has added a warning to her followers
about not submitting to those sites:
Alasdair Stuart, as usual, has cogent thoughts on the
matter. Thread starts here.
Two issues involving Audible’s ACX have come across my desk recently….
I’ve heard from several self- and small press-pubbed authors who report that they’ve found their books listed on ACX as open to narrator auditions…except that they, or their publishers, didn’t put them there. This appears to be an attempt to steal authors’ audio rights….
Promotional Code Shenanigans
Multiple authors have contacted me to report that they’ve received an email from ACX withdrawing their promotional codes. The cited reason: “unusual activity,” with no explanation of what that means….
In a newly released 30-second TV spot for The Rise of Skywalker, things are coming to a head. We see and hear some familiar things: Rey and Ben gearing up for a climactic confrontation, Luke imploring a listener (probably Rey) to face fear, as confronting fear is “the destiny of a Jedi.”
(4) WRITER ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER. Michael Chabon tells readers of The
New Yorker about writing for Star Trek while his father was dying: “The
Ensign Spock, a young half-Vulcan science officer fresh out of Starfleet Academy and newly posted to the Enterprise, found himself alone in a turbolift with the ship’s formidable first officer, a human woman known as Number One. They were waiting for me to rescue them from the silence that reigns in all elevators, as universal as the vacuum of space.
I looked up from the screen of my iPad to my father, lying unconscious, amid tubes and wires, in his starship of a bed, in the irresolute darkness of an I.C.U. at 3 A.M. Ordinarily when my father lay on his back his abdomen rose up like the telescope dome of an observatory, but now there seemed to be nothing between the bed rails at all, just a blanket pulled as taut as a drum skin and then, on the pillow, my father’s big, silver-maned head. Scarecrow, after the flying monkeys had finished with him. His head was tilted upward and his jaw hung slack. All the darkness in the room seemed to pool in his open mouth….
…But my first experience with her work was about more than delight, admiration, or love. It was about transformation. The person I was on the way to becoming, in 1972—a particular coalescent configuration of synapses, apperceptions, and neural pathways—did not survive the encounter, at age nine, with A Wizard of Earthsea. The first volume of her Earthsea trilogy, the book was set in a richly realized and detailed imaginary topography of islands and ocean where the craft of language—the proper, precise configuring and utterance of words by a trained adept who knew their histories and understood their capabilities and thus could call things by their true names—had the power to alter reality, to remake the world.
But what really rearranged the contents of my skull was this: the book itself was a fractal demonstration of its own primary conceit. With nothing but language—lines on paper, properly configured—Ursula K. Le Guin conjured an entire planet into vivid existence, detailed and plausible from its flora to its weather to the dialects and ceremonies of its inhabitants. And while that world vanished the moment I closed the book’s covers, the memory of my visit, of young Ged’s searing struggle with his own malign shadow, remained. In Earthsea, the wielders of linguistic power were known as wizards, and they called their craft magic, but it was obvious to me, even at nine, that the true name of magic was writing, and that a writer like Ursula K. Le Guin was a mage.
(6) TALKIN’ ABOUT MY REGENERATION. Doctor Who has
posted an updated compilation of “All The Doctor’s Regenerations.”
From The Tenth Planet, all the way to Twice Upon A Time – Re-live ALL of the Doctor’s regenerations.
Although he habitually delved into that dark funny corner that we associate with Charles Addams, his style was singular. He liked to depict ordinary folks encountering some kind of anxious terror, or experiencing the unthinkable in mundane places. It’s a man at a pizza counter hovering over an entire pizza—the man’s mouth the same oval shape, the same size, as the whole pie. It’s fishermen on a calm lake, with one about to be murdered by the other, who is removing a human mask to reveal his true monster self.
(9) MCPHEE OBIT. Former bookstore owner and NESFAn Spike
McPhee died November 13 in Cambridge, MA. Proprietor of the Science Fantasy bookstore
in Harvard Square from 1977 to 1989, McPhee was also an art collector, and avid
follower of science and space exploration news. He was a GoH at the 1990 Arisia.
Chip Hitchcock notes, “[Spike told] me some 40 years ago that he was the only fan to gafiate to
run a science-fiction bookstore; he’d been active in NESFA before then but the
store ate his time; I’ve lost track of whether Boston’s current genre store,
Pandemonium, is a literal descendant (from days in two other Harvard Square
locations) or just a successor.”
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 23, 1963 — Doctor Who first premiered with the airing of “An Unearthly Child”. Written by Anthony Coburn and C E Webber, it starred Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, and William Hartnell as The Doctor. Critics were mixed with their reaction but generally favorable.
November 23, 2015 — The Expanse premiered on Syfy. Based on the novels by James S. A. Corey (collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), it has now run three seasons, the latest on Amazon Prime. With a cast of seemingly hundreds, it has met with near unanimous approval, so much so that at Rotten Tomatoes, the third season had a score of 100%.itwas nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Dublin for “Abaddon’s Gate” but lost To The Good Place for their “Janet(s)” episode.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 23, 1887 — Boris Karloff. Where do I start? Well consider the Thirties. He portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein, and Imhotep in The Mummy. And he played a great pulp character in Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu too! Now let’s jump forward to the Sixties and the small screen adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas which featured him as both the voice of The Grinch and the narrator of the story as well. I know I’ve skipped four decades of that means not a word about such as Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he was the latter. (Died 1969.)
Born November 23, 1914 — Wilson Tucker. Author and very well-known member of fandom. I’m going to just direct you here to “A Century of Tucker” by Mike as I couldn’t say anything about him that was this good. (Died 2006.)
Born November 23, 1916 — Michael Gough. Best-known for his roles in the Hammer Horror Films from the late Fifties and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman series. His Hammer Horror Films saw him cast usually as the evil, and I mean EVIL! Not to mention SLIMY, villain in such films as Horrors of the Black Museum, The Phantom of the Opera, The Corpse and Horror Hospital, not to overlook Satan’s Slave. Gough appeared in Doctor Who as the villain in “The Celestial Toymaker” (1966) and then again as Councillor Hedin in “Arc of Infinity” (1983). He also played Dr. Armstrong in “The Cybernauts” in The Avengers (1965) returning the very next season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in “The Correct Way to Kill”. Gough worked for Burton in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow and later voice Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride. (Died 2011.)
Born November 23, 1955 — Steven Brust, 64. Of Hungarian descendant, something that figures into his fiction which he says is neither fantasy nor SF. He is perhaps best known for his novels about the assassin Vlad Taltos, one of a scorned group of humans living on a world called Dragaera. Ala are great reads. His recent novels also include The Incrementalists and its sequel The Skill of Our Hands, with co-author Skyler White. Both are superb. His finest novel? Brokedown Palace. Oh, just go read it. It’s amazing. And no, I don’t love everything he’s done. I wrote a scathing review of Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille. Freedom & Necessity with Emma Bull is decidedly different but good none the less and his Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, stays true to that series. He’s quite the musician too with two albums with Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull, Jane Yolen (lyrics) and others. The band in turn shows up in Marvel comics. A Rose For Iconoclastes is his solo album and “The title, for those who don’t know, is a play off the brilliant story by Roger Zelazny, ‘A Rose For Ecclesiastes,’ which you should read if you haven’t yet.” Quoting him again, ““Songs From The Gypsy” is the recording of a cycle of songs I wrote with ex-Boiled-in-Lead guitarist Adam Stemple, which cycle turned into a novel I wrote with Megan Lindholm, one of my favorite writers.” The album and book are quite amazing!
Born November 23, 1961 — David Rappaport. I remember him best as Randall, the leader of the gang of comically inept dwarves in Time Bandits who steal the map to Universe. I’m reasonably sure that it’s the only thing he’ll be remembered for of a genre nature having looked up his other works and found them to be decidedly minor in nature. Most of them such as The Bride, a low budget horror film, were artistic and commercial disasters. It is said that his death by suicide in 1990 is one of the reasons cited by Gilliam for there not being a sequel to Time Bandits. (Died 1990.)
Born November 23, 1966 — Michelle Gomez, 53. Best-known genre role is Missy, a female version of The Master on Doctor Who from 2014 to 2017, for which she was nominated for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. I admit having grown up with Roger Delgado as The Master that later performers playing this role took a bit of getting used but she made a fine one. She is also Mary Wardwell in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She plays Talia Bauerin in Highlander: The Raven which apparently is a very short-live spinoff from the Highlander series. And she shows up in the Gotham series for two episodes simply as The Lady.
Born November 23, 1967 — Salli Richardson-Whitfield, 52. Best known genre role is as Dr. Allison Blake on Eureka which apparently in syndication is now called A Town Called Eureka. H’h? I’m reasonably sure her first genre role was as Fenna / Nidell in the “Second Sight” of Deep Space Nine but charmingly voiced the main human character on the animated Gargoyles series! Shes shows up as character named Dray’auc in “Bloodlines” on Stargate Sg-1 and had a role on a series called Secret Agent Man that may or may have existed. She’s was Maggie Baptiste in Stitchers, a series that lasted longer than I expected it would.
Born November 23, 1992 — Miley Cyrus, 27. She’s had three genre appearances, each ten years apart. She was in Big Fish as the eight-year-old Ruthie, she was the voice of Penny in Bolt and she voiced Mainframe on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And there’s the matter of A Very Murray Christmas which is at least genre adjacent…
…Robert Harris’s new book is concerned with questions of institutional power, hypocrisy and individual moral choices, but in a wholly different era of changed perceptions.
The Second Sleep is a pleasingly genre-bending novel that passes itself off as historical fiction in its early pages. Christopher Fairfax, a young priest, rides to Addicott St. George, a village in Wessex, with a rather simple mission: He is to carry out the funeral service for Addicott’s recently deceased Father Lacey. Quickly, however, reader expectations are wonderfully overturned as Fairfax examines, with some distaste, a display case full of ancient artifacts, including “pens, glassware, a plate commemorating a royal wedding …” (wait, what?) “… a bundle of plastic straws …” (huh?) and “what seemed to be the pride of the collection: one of the devices used by the ancients to communicate,” which has on its back “the ultimate symbol of the ancients’ hubris and blasphemy — an apple with a bite taken out of it.”
The year may be 1468, but it’s not the one in the past — Fairfax is, in fact, living in the future, one in which the Apocalypse is widely believed to have occurred just as it was prophesied in the New Testament, after which Christ rose anew and humankind was once again saved. The Church — a political as well as religious entity in this future England, closely tied to and seemingly far more important than the monarchy — started counting years anew after the Apocalypse, beginning with 666, the number of the beast.
As Fairfax learns more about Addicott’s dead priest, he becomes increasingly uncomfortable. It appears that Father Lacey was a collector of artifacts that have become, in the past couple of decades, illegal to own. Worse even than the plastic doodads and useless electronics in his possession, which Father Lacey found in the vicinity of the village, the priest had a library full of illegal books hypothesizing about the ancients who worshipped science and forgot God, bringing about their own downfall.
(13) THE MASTER LIST. Rex Sorgatz is compiling “Best of 2010’s” lists. It
includes several Best SF/F Books, Best Comics/Graphic Novels, Best Horror
Movies, etc. lists (and may pick up more as time goes by) — “LISTS: THE 2010s
For the last hundred years, Americans have kept ghosts in their place, letting them out only in October, in the run-up to our only real haunted holiday, Halloween. But it wasn’t always this way, and it’s no coincidence that the most famous ghost story is a Christmas story—or, put another way, that the most famous Christmas story is a ghost story. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843, and its story about a man tormented by a series of ghosts the night before Christmas belonged to a once-rich, now mostly forgotten tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Dickens’ supernatural yuletide terror was no outlier, since for much of the 19th century, was the holiday indisputably associated with ghosts and the specters.
“Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” humorist Jerome K. Jerome wrote in his 1891 collection, Told After Supper. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood.”
Telling ghost stories during winter is a hallowed tradition, a folk custom stretches back centuries, when families would wile away the winter nights with tales of spooks and monsters. “A sad tale’s best for winter,” Mamillius proclaims in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: “I have one. Of sprites and goblins.” And the titular Jew of Malta in Christopher Marlowe’s play at one point muses, “Now I remember those old women’s words, Who in my wealth would tell me winter’s tales, And speak of spirits and ghosts by night.”
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Moses Goes Down” on Vimeo is Nina Paley’s take on Moses
leaving Egypt, with music by Louis Armstrong.
[Thanks to Lisa Goldstein, Chip Hitchcock, Bill, Cat Eldridge,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) JOHN M. FORD RETURNING TO PRINT. Isaac Butler’s research for “The Disappearance of John M. Ford” at Slate led to an unexpected benefit: “I wanted to learn why a beloved science fiction writer fell into obscurity after his death. I didn’t expect that I would help bring his books back to life.”
It would take me 18 months to answer my questions. My quest would bring me to the vast treasure trove of Ford’s uncollected and unpublished writing. It would introduce me to friends and relatives of Ford who hadn’t spoken to each other since his death in 2006. And, in an improbable ending worthy of a John M. Ford novel, my quest would in fact set in motion the long-delayed republication of his work, starting in the fall of 2020. How did this happen? More importantly, why was he forgotten in the first place? More importantly than that: How did he write those amazing books?
…And so, after months of investigation, I found myself in an Iceberg Passage, seeing only some of the story while, lurking beneath the surface, other truths remained obscure. I do not share Ford’s horror at obviousness, but there are simply things that we will never know. We will never know why Mike and his family grew apart, or, from the family’s perspective, how far apart they were. We will never know who anonymously tried to edit the Wikipedia page to cut out Elise Matthesen. (The family denies any involvement.)
But I reconnected Ford’s family and editors at Tor, and after a year of delicate back-and-forth spearheaded by Beth Meacham, Tor and the family have reached an agreement that will gradually bring all of his books back into print, plus a new volume of stories, poems, Christmas cards, and other uncollected material. First up, in fall 2020, is the book that introduced me to Ford, The Dragon Waiting.Then, in 2021, Tor will publish—at long last—the unfinished Aspects, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman.
CZP’s contract boilerplate empowers the publisher to set a “reasonable” reserve against returns. There are no specifics, so it’s basically up to the publisher to decide what “reasonable” is.
For CZP, “reasonable” seems to mean 50%. This seemed high to me, so I did a mini-canvass of literary agents on Twitter. Most agreed that smaller is better–maybe 25-30%, though some felt that 50% was justifiable depending on the circumstances. They also pointed out that the reserve percentage should fall in subsequent reporting periods (CZP’s remains at 50%, unless boilerplate has been negotiated otherwise), and that publishers should not hold reserves beyond two or three years, or four or five accounting periods (CZP has held reserves for some authors for much longer).
(If you’re unclear on what a reserve against returns is, here’s an explanation.)
– Per CZP’s contract, royalties are paid “by the first royalty period falling one year after publication.” What this means in practice (based on the royalty statements I saw) is that if your pub date is (hypothetically) April of 2016, you are not eligible for payment until the first royalty period that follows your one-year anniversary–which, since CZP pays royalties just once a year on a January-December schedule, would be the royalty period ending December 2017. Since publishers often take months to issue royalty statements and payments following the end of a royalty period, you’d get no royalty check until sometime in 2018–close to, or possibly more than, two full years after publication.
In effect, CZP is setting a 100% reserve against returns for at least a year following publication, and often much more. This gives it the use of the author’s money for far too long, not to mention a financial cushion that lets it write smaller checks, since it doesn’t have to pay anything out until after returns have come in (most sales and most returns occur during the first year of release).
I shouldn’t need to say that this is non-standard. It’s also, in my opinion, seriously exploitative.
– And…about that annual payment. It too is non-standard–even the big houses pay twice a year, and most small publishers pay quarterly or even more often. It’s also extra-contractual–at least for the contracts I saw. According to CZP’s boilerplate, payments are supposed to be bi-annual after that initial year-or-more embargo. The switch to annual payment appears to have been a unilateral decision by CZP owners for logistical and cost reasons, actual contract language be damned (I’ve seen documentation of this).
Before the end of 2019, Star Trek will boldly do something it has never done in the 21st century before: Tell stand-alone stories in an animated format. It’s been known for a while that the final two Short Treks of 2019 would be animated, but we didn’t know what they’ d be about, or how they would even look…until now!
(4) TRANSCRIPTS FROM THE UNDERGROUND.
Ursula V’s dungeon party reports in. Thread starts here.
(5) CAPTAIN FUTURE. Amazing Selects™ will launch with the release of Allen Steele’s Captain Future in Love, a novella originally serialized in Amazing Stories magazine that “continues the adventures of Edmond Hamilton’s pulp adventure hero Curt Newton, aka Captain Future, rebooted and updated in Allen Steele’s inimitable Neo Pulp style.”
Amazing Selects ™ is a new imprint from Experimenter
Publishing Company LLC that
will feature stand-alone novella-length works, in both print and electronic
new Captain Future, originally introduced in Steele’s Avengers of the Moon
(Tor, 2017), “brings golden age science
fiction into the modern era presenting classic space opera adventure with
edition features concept art by Rob Caswell, interior illustrations by Nizar
Ilman and non-fiction features by Allen Steele.
Future in Love is
available through Amazon in paperback and ebook and through the Amazing
(6) NOBODY’S KEEPING SCORE. The new edition of the BBC Radio 4 Film Programme“Emma Thompson” is mainly
about the Last Christmas film, but includes two other segments of genre
interest. Hear it online for the next four weeks.
Emma Thompson has written 6 films in which she also stars. Last Christmas is the latest. She explains why she sometimes has to bite her tongue when actors deliver her lines in ways that she hadn’t quite imagined.
Neil Brand reveals how the ground-breaking score to cult classic Forbidden Planet was a last minute replacement and why the original composer decided to destroy his rejected score.
“Apocalypse Now meets Pygmalion”. Matthew Sweet pitches a long forgotten science fiction novel to film industry experts Lizzie Francke, Rowan Woods and Clare Binns.
(7) TUNE IN AGAIN. Also on BBC Radio 4 is a
production of Doris Lessing’s The Good Terrorist.
Available for the next 11 days.
First-ever dramatisation of Doris Lessing’s 1985 satire of incompetent revolutionaries in a London squat. Starring Olivia Vinall and Joe Armstrong, dramatised by Sarah Daniels.
I’ve been attending the Maryland-based indie comics convention SPX — that is, the Small Press Expo — for 15 or so of its 36 years, and this time around took the opportunity to dine with artist Paul Kirchner, who breathed the same comic industry air I did during the ’70s.
Paul broke into comics in the early ‘70s through a fortuitous series of events which had him meeting the legendary comics artist Neal Adams, who introduced him to DC Comics editor Joe Orlando, and within the week getting a gig as assistant to Tex Blaisdell helping him out on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip and stories for DC’s mystery books. He also worked for awhile as assistant to the great EC Comics artist and Daredevil innovator Wally Wood. He moved on from mainstream comics to draw two wonderfully surrealistic strips — “Dope Rider” for High Times and “the bus” for Heavy Metal. His wide-ranging creative resume also includes a graphic novel collaboration with the great writer of detective novels Janwillem van de Wetering, designs for such toy lines as Dino-Riders and Spy-Tech, and much more.
…The fantasy mashup tells the story of Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan‘s Wendy, who meet in boarding school for troubled young ladies. They each believe they’ve traveled to a fantastical world but no one else does. When their world-hopping sees Captain Hook and the Wicked Witch of the West team up to combine their magical villainy, the trio must band together to thwart them.
The graphic novel began life as a piece of fan fiction that Weir wrote prior to finding best-selling and Hollywood success with Martian…
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 15, 1968 — Star Trek’s “The Tholian Web” premiered on NBC. In a two-part episode of Enterprise titled “In a Mirror, Darkly”, the Tholians will be back with a story continuing this story.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 15, 1877 — William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.) Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft. It is said that his horror writing influenced many later writers such as China Miéville, Tim Lebbon and Greg Bear but I cannot find a definitive source for that claim. (Died 1918.)
Born November 15, 1929 — Ed Asner, 90. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Shelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & Legends, Batman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite some while.
Born November 15, 1930 — J. G. Ballard. I’ll frankly admit that I’ve not read enough of him to render a coherent opinion of him as writer. What I’ve read such as The Drowned World is more than a bit depressing. Well yes, but really depressing. (Died 2009.)
Born November 15, 1933 — Theodore Roszak. Winner of the Tiptree Award for The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and the rather excellent Flicker which is superb. Flicker is available at Apple Books and Kindle though no other fiction by him is. Odd. (Died 2011.)
Born November 15, 1934 — Joanna Barnes, 85. She’s Jane Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man with Danny Miller in the title role. It’s not until she’s Carsia in the “Up Above the World So High” episode of The Planet of The Apes series that she does anything so genre again. And a one-off on classic Fantasy Island wraps up her SFF acting.
Born November 15, 1939 — Yaphet Kotto, 80. Assuming we count the Bond films as genre and I do, his first genre performance was as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big in Live and Let Die. Later performances included Parker in Alien, William Laughlin in The Running Man, Doc in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Ressler in The Puppet Masters adapted from Heinlein’s 1951 novel of the same name and a horrid film, and he played a character named Captain Jack Clayton on SeaQuest DSV.
Born November 15, 1942 — Ruth Berman, 77. She’s a writer mostly of speculative poetry. In 2003, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening“. She was also the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of”. She’s also written one YA fantasy novel, Bradamant’s quest. And 1973, she was a finalist for the first Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro gets laughs from the thought-life of Batman’s sidekick.
(13) PALEO POSTAGE. I think I missed the news when these T.Rex
stamps were issued
in August. Fortunately, they are Forever
The four distinct stamps depict the long-extinct beast in various forms of its life from a hatchling to a skeleton in a museum.
In two of the stamps, the young adult depicted in skeletal form with a young Triceratops and in the flesh emerging through a forest clearing is the “Nation’s T. Rex,” whose remains were discovered on federal land in Montana and is considered one of the most important specimens of the species ever found, it said.
The four stamps were designed by art director Greg Breeding from original artwork by scientist and paleoartist Julius T. Csotonyi.
Drone maker DJI has demonstrated a way to quickly identify a nearby drone, and pinpoint the location of its pilot, via a smartphone.
The technique makes use of a protocol called “Wi-Fi Aware”, with which the drone essentially broadcasts information about itself.
The company said it would help prevent security threats and disruption, and give members of the public peace of mind.
But experts believe sophisticated criminals would still be able to circumvent detection.
“It’s going to be very useful against rogue drones,” said Ulrike Franke, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, who studies the impacts of the drone industry.
“But it’s not going to be enough to fight people with real bad intentions, because these are going to be the first people to hack this system.”
DJI told the BBC it could add the functionality to drones already on the market via a software update.
…“If Gatwick staff had a smartphone enabled with this capability in their pockets,” explained Adam Lisberg, from DJI, “they could have taken it out, seen a registration number for the drone, seen the flight path, and the location of the operator.
Young-adult book Twitter took an especially surreal turn this week when the best-selling novelist Sarah Dessen took offense at a brief critique of her work, inciting a minor Twitter riot, with some of the most famous writers in the world jumping into the fray to defend her.
(17) HOW DID THEY KNOW? I couldn’t help laughing when I
read this line in Jon Del Arroz’ blog:
A new team of four Project Wildfire scientists is sent to the Amazon to investigate how to stop the unexplainable anomaly. A fifth scientist is tracking the crisis from the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting Earth. Meanwhile, a deadly, self-replicating, microparticle structure is growing exponentially, eating the jungle and killing nearby tribal habitants.
… “Oh I would definitely be interested in doing a holiday special,” Favreau told Variety at “The Mandalorian” fan event. “And I’m not going to say who I would be interested in. But one of the people is the member of the cast in an upcoming episode of the show. So we’ll leave it at that for now.”
When pressed to see if he was serious, the director doubled down. “I’ve been thinking about it. It’s ready, the ideas are ready. I think it could be really fun. Not as part of this, but there’s an excitement around it because it was so fun and weird, and off and not connected to what ‘Star Wars’ was in the theater. ‘The Mandalorian’ cartoon, the Boba Fett cartoon, from the holiday special was definitely a point of inspiration for what we did in the show.”
Joules’ heavily-branded Wallce & Gromit-fronted spot from Aardman topped the rankings this week with a star score of 5.4 and a spike rating of 1.51 – indicating sales will follow.
The film shows Wallace, in his typically inventive style, bringing Christmas to West Wallaby Street all at ‘the click of a button’.
Joules’ festive products decorate the living room and there’s no escape for Wallace’s loyal side-kick, Gromit, who becomes the pièce de résistance as the fairy crowning the top of the Christmas tree.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ,
Mike Kennedy, Susan de Guardiola,
Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Steven H Silver, SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick
(1) HORROR HUMBLE BUNDLE. “The Tales of Horror Humble Bundle” is now up with horror anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow (Darkness, Nightmares, Lovecraft’s Monsters), also: The Ultimate Werewolf, The Ultimate Undead, and The Ultimate Dracula, plus books by Lisa Goldstein, Ellen Klages, Nancy Kress, Kelley Armstrong, and Joe R. Lansdale. Plus graphic novels like From Hell, by Moore/Campbell, Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki, Devil’s Line by Ryo Hanada, Until Your Bones Rot by Yae Utsumi, Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome To Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, and others.
Robert Pattinson, sci-fi and sex in outer space – if ever the audacious, brilliant French director Claire Denis were making a bid for a mainstream audience, High Life would seem to be it. It turns out, the reverse is true. Before and especially after his Twilight years, Pattinson has sought out roles in smaller, artistic films, apparently on a mission to establish himself as a serious actor. The plan is working….
High Life, Denis’ first film in English, is set on a spaceship full of prisoners sent on an almost certain suicide mission to explore a black hole.
(3) ROSSUM’S UNIVERSAL TWEETERS. A lot of Twitter bot activity preceded and followed Chuck Wendig’s firing by Marvel says Bethan Lacina:
(4) AT THE FRONT. Cedar Sanderson has quite a bit of interest to say about book covers in “7 Rules for Cover Design” at Mad Genius Club.
It’s not just that I’m an artist and designer and I enjoy the process of book creation. It’s that even though people will say they don’t care about a book cover, they actually do. They will totally judge your book by it’s cover. And your book cover signals a lot about your book, whether you are conscious of it, or not. Every little choice, from font to color focus, says something about the book. I think by now everyone reading this knows the cardinal rule of a book cover: cover art is a marketing tool, not a scene from the book.
(5) TOMORROW’S THE FIFTH. Happy fifth anniversary, Galactic Journey!
Five years ago tomorrow, I created the Journey to detail the day-by-day adventures of a science fiction magazine fan who just happened to also be a space journalist. In the passage of five circuits around the sun, the scope of this project has expanded tremendously to cover books, movies, tv shows, comics, politics, music, fashion, and more. The Journey has grown from a solo project to a staff of twenty spanning the globe. Two years ago, we won the Rod Serling Award, and this year, we were nominated for the Hugo.
“We were stunned that this fish had piranha-like teeth,” says Martina Kölbl-Ebert, of Jura-Museum Eichstätt, who led the study.
“It comes from a group of fishes (the pycnodontids) that are famous for their crushing teeth. It is like finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf. But what was even more remarkable is that it was from the Jurassic.
“Fish as we know them, bony fishes, just did not bite flesh of other fishes at that time. Sharks have been able to bite out chunks of flesh but throughout history bony fishes have either fed on invertebrates or largely swallowed their prey whole. Biting chunks of flesh or fins was something that came much later.”
(7) PERSONS OF INTEREST. Steve Shives investigates who did it —
(8) TOLKIEN LETTER OFFERED. A rare bookdealer is offering a long letter from JRRT for $48k. That’s not news — people can list their property for any price they like. But the listing includes images of all four pages, so you can read it in its entirety — “J.R.R. Tolkien. Autograph Letter Signed” at The Manhattan Rare Book Company.
-insists that The Lord of the Rings is “in no way an ‘allegory’”, but “mythical-historical” based on “deeply rooted ‘archetypal’ motifs”
-reveals his motivations for writing The Lord of the Rings (“I merely tried to write a story that would be ‘exciting’ and readable, and give me a scope for my personal pleasure in history, languages, and ‘landscape’”)
-bemoans certain analyses of The Lord of the Rings that focus on symbolism (“they miss the point and destroy the object of their enquiry as surely as a vivisectionist destroys a cat or rabbit”)
(9) SELF-PUBBERS ARE LEARNING. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss charts “The Continued Decline of Author Solutions”. Strauss observes, “costly and often deceptive ‘assisted self-publishing’ services that proliferated in the early days of digital publishing are gradually being supplanted by better options.”
What I want to focus on, though, is Author Solutions–where ISBN output is a useful measure of overall activity, since all AS publishing packages include ISBN assignment.
In the latest version of Bowker’s report, that slide continues. 2016 did see a small post-Najafi uptick, from 24,587 to 30,288; but in 2017 the freefall resumed, with ISBNs dropping to 25,971–just slightly above 2015’s output. A few of the individual imprints do show negligible increases, but for the most part they all go down (by four figures in the case of AuthorHouse).
So what can you do? Talk to your hyper local elected officials. Community board, city council. Tell them how these locally owned, independently run businesses make your life in their district so much better.
Todd Bol hammered together the first Little Free Library. Then he built a movement around it.
Bol believed the now-ubiquitous little boxes of books — and the neighbors who cared for them — could change a block, a city, the world. So he brought them to front yards all over, often installing them himself. Known for his wild optimism and keen business sense, the Little Free Library founder died Thursday morning, just weeks after he was found to have pancreatic cancer.
…Bol set a goal of 2,150 — to beat the number of Carnegie Libraries in the country. Less than a decade later, more than 75,000 dollhouse-size libraries have sprouted on front lawns in 88 countries…
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
October 20, 1965 — Village Of The Giants showed that size does matter.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
Born October 20, 1882 – Bela Lugosi, Actor from Hungary who appeared in many Hungarian and German silent films, but first became famous for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film of that name, a role he had previously played on Broadway. Other genre roles included the films Island of Lost Souls, Mark of the Vampire, Night Monster, White Zombie, and countless Frankenstein movies. He never really made it as a major performer, and his last film was Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Born October 20, 1923 – Erle M. Korshak, 95, Attorney, Publisher, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who discovered SF in 1934 with the August Astounding magazine and became a very serious collector. By 1939, he was a well-known fan and one of the leaders of the Moonstruck Press publishing house which was formed to create a bibliography of all fantasy books. He was a co-organizer for the second Worldcon in 1940, and served as chair pro tem when the con chair fell ill on the first day. He later founded a publishing house whose first major work was Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature, a pioneering work of SF bibliography. This was followed by major works by Heinlein, Bester, Fredric Brown and other SF authors. He was absent from fandom from the late 50s through late 80s, but rejoined fandom and has attended cons with his children.
Born October 20, 1934 – Taku Mayamura, 84, Writer and Haiku Poet from Japan who is well-known in that country for his science fiction stories, which have earned him two Seiun Awards. He is also a young adult fiction writer whose works have been adapted into TV drama, film, and anime. He was named an honorary member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan.
Born October 20, 1934 – Michael Dunn, Actor who was probably best known for his recurring role on The Wild Wild West series as the villain Dr. Miguelito Loveless, but is better known to Star Trek fans as Alexander, the court jester, in the original series episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”. He also had roles in episodes of Night Gallery, Tarzan, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He died far too young at the age of 38 in his sleep, from congenital health issues related to dwarfism.
Born October 20, 1949 – George Harris, 69, Actor born in the West Indies who emigrated to England. His acting debut was in The Gladiators, the 1969 Swedish predecessor to The Hunger Games. His face is well-known to genre fans from his character roles in Flash Gordon, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and several Harry Potter movies; he also had parts in Riders of the Storm, Danny Boyle’s National Theatre Live: Frankenstein, and a recurring role on the series Starhunter and Starhunter ReduX.
Born October 20, 1955 – Thomas Newman, 63, Oscar-nominated Composer of film scores who has provided songs and soundtracks for numerous genre films, including the Hugo- and Oscar-winning WALL-E, The Green Mile, Meet Joe Black, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Adjustment Bureau, Passengers, Real Genius, and The Lost Boys.
Born October 20, 1956 – Peter Morwood, 62, Writer and Fan from Ireland who has written novels in several series, as well as contributing a couple of novels in the Star Trek universe. A frequent SFF con attendee in the UK, he was introduced by Anne McCaffrey to his wife Diane Duane at a convention, and the two were married at the 1986 Worldcon in Atlanta. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions and, with Duane, was Toastmaster at the 1995 Worldcon in Glasgow.
Born October 20, 1958 – Lynn Flewelling, 60, Writer best known for works featuring LGBTQ characters and touching on issues of gender. Novels in her Nightrunners series have received Compton Crook and Spectrum Award nominations, and her work has been published in 13 countries, including Japan.
Born October 20, 1966 – Diana Rowland, 52, Writer who has an eclectic list of past professions as a bartender, a blackjack dealer, a pit boss, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. In the last 10 years, she has produced at least 14 novels in two series, as well as a short work set in the Wild Cards universe. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop, received the Phoenix Award (lifetime achievement award) from Southern Fandom, and has been Toastmaster and Guest of Honor at several conventions.
(14) APRIL FOOLISHNESS. Gábor Takacs sff-related April’s fools prank is in Hungarian, but you can enjoy the covers of these fictitious upcoming books, e. g. a Culture-novel by Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton, and so on. With covers!
When Marvel and Netflix announcedIron Fist wouldn’t return for a third season, there were reports Luke Cage was close to being renewed. That is not the case, however, as they announced tonight that the show will end after two seasons, even though additional seasons for Jessica Jones and The Punisher are already on order. In a statement, the companies said “Unfortunately, Marvel’s Luke Cage will not return for a third season. Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem’s Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series.”
I was crawling along the bottom of the lake on my arms and knees, looking for stones to skim, when my hand and knee felt something long and hard buried in the clay and sand. I pulled it out and saw that it was different from the sticks or rocks I usually find. One end had a point, and the other had a handle, so I pointed it up to the sky, put my other hand on my hip and called out, “Daddy, I’ve found a sword!”
I felt like a warrior, but Daddy said I looked like Pippi Longstocking. The sword felt rough and hard, and I got some sticky, icky brown rust on my hands. It started to bend and Daddy splashed up to me, and said I should let him hold it. It was my sword and now he was taking it away! I gave it to him in the end.
(17) NEED GAS. Brian Gallagher, in “So Can We Terraform Mars Or Not?” at Nautilus, argues the question of whether or not terraforming Mars will be successful depends on how much carbon dioxide is stored in the Martian rocks, with NASA arguing that there isn’t enough carbon dioxide to do the job, while Robert Zubrin argues that NASA dramatically underestimates that amount of carbon dioxide that would be available.
This is where, to Zubrin and McKay, Jakosky seems to contradict the known data. 0.5 bar of atmospheric CO2 loss is a fair—even if not conclusive—assessment, McKay and Zubrin told me. (McKay: “There is some debate if they are actually measuring CO2 loss or just O2 loss.” Zubrin: “That claim is controversial, but we’ll let it pass because at least in that case [Jakosky] is arguing from data.”) What they disagree with is Jakosky’s carbon isotope analysis. Zubrin said it is impossible for the 0.5 bar of atmospheric CO2 loss to represent 75 percent or more of Mars’ original atmospheric total because, “based on the available data on liquid water on ancient Mars, Mars must have had at least 2 bar of CO2” enveloping the planet (the ground-based amount at that time is unknown). If so, contrary to Jakosky, there would be well over a bar left in shallow ground deposits somewhere—enough to trigger a runaway greenhouse effect if vaporized.
The desire to be loved, to understand what it means to be human when your humanity is stripped away from you, those are beautiful themes and questions to raise in a novel about vampires. Rice showed the poetry in the genre and also gave women a stronger place in vampire literary lore. She wrote vampires for a female audience while creating a brutal and dark novel with Interview, but it was dark not just through violence but through emotion—and that is why the series means so much to people even now.
The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, a documentary partially referenced on the internet but otherwise believed incomplete and lost, has made it to YouTube in full.
The film lingers on the special effects required for the Hoth battle opening the 1980 flick, but also includes backstage interviews with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher. At this point in history, all three were bought into the love triangle set up in the original Star Wars, before everyone figured out Luke’s parentage — and then Leia’s, as well.
(20) KILLER MOVES AND KILLER TUNES. The second trailer for Anna and the Apocalypse.
A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Soon Lee, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]