Simon Jimenez Wins 2023 IAFA Crawford Award

The winner of the 2023 Crawford Award, presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts for a first book of fantasy published the prior year, is Simon Jimenez for his novel The Spear Cuts Through Water (Del Rey). Jimenez had previously published a well-received science fiction novel, The Vanished Birds (2020), but The Spear Cuts Through Water is his first fantasy book, making it eligible for the award.

The awards committee also named a shortlist including Maya Deane, Wrath Goddess Sing (William Morrow), Naseem Jamnia, The Bruising of Qilwa (Tachyon), Alex Jennings, The Ballad of Perilous Graves (Redhook), and Jacob Kerr, The Green Man of Eshwood Hall (Serpent’s Tail)

Participating in this year’s nomination and selection process were Cheryl Morgan, Karen Burnham, Niall Harrison, Liza Trombi, Candas Jane Dorsey, and Mimi Mondal. The award is administered by Gary K. Wolfe and will be presented at a banquet March 18, during the 44rd International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, Florida.

Also at the banquet, the IAFA Distinguished Scholarship Award will be presented to the conference’s guest scholar Isiah Lavender III.  The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, or ICFA, is held annually in Orlando, Florida.  This year’s conference, March 15-18, on the theme of Afrofuturism, will feature Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki as Guest of Honor.

[Based on a press release.]

BBC Audio Drama Awards 2023 Finalists

The finalists for the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2023 have been revealed. They include several productions and performances of genre interest.

Best Original Single Drama

  • Daughter by Testament, producer Gary Brown, BBC Audio Drama North
  • End of Transmission by Anita Sullivan, producer Karen Rose, Sweet Talk

Best Actor

  • Anton Lesser, One Five Seven Years, director Nicolas Jackson, Afonica

Tinniswood Award 2023

  • End of Transmission by Anita Sullivan, producer Karen Rose, Sweet Talk Productions for BBC Radio 4

The complete list of finalists is here. The winners will be announced on Sunday March 19 in London. 

Pixel Scroll 2/7/23 Who Needs Pixels? Scrolls Are Much Better

(1) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE DRAWS VISITORS FROM PRO ORGANIZATIONS. Last week representatives from The Authors Guild and the Association of American Literary Agents met with HarperCollins management and union representatives to discuss concerns over the ongoing strike. “Update on AG/AALA Meetings with HarperCollins Management and HarperCollins Union” from The Authors Guild.

…The AG and the AALA stressed in both meetings that our intention was not to take sides but rather, like submitting an amicus curiae brief to a court, to advise both HarperCollins and the union about the damaging effects of the strike. Both the AG and the AALA reached out to our members ahead of the meetings to solicit feedback about how the dispute has impacted them and summarized the described experiences.

The Authors Guild relayed authors’ stories of being unable to reach their editors, their lack of any marketing support—even for imminent books and those just published—delays in publishing, and overworked and stressed editors, as well as a total lack of reviews, interviews, or events for their new books due to pressure for third parties not to support HarperCollins books. Authors used words such as “disappointing” and “devastating” when describing how, after years of working on their books and finally getting them to the point of publication, they now risk failing to reach readers due to no fault of their own.

AALA representatives expressed concerns about their members’ inability to get necessary marketing services as well as frustration with publication delays. Such delays impact authors’ and agents’ finances, causing potential long-term damage to writers’ careers and damage to their relationships with HarperCollins going forward. They stressed how weak sales performance on one book can impact an author’s entire career, since it may prevent the sales of future books and the ability to license the book internationally or option it for TV or film. The AALA Board delegation conveyed that in the recent follow-up to their December survey, anger and frustration are now dominating the discourse with deep concern regarding permanent damage to all if it does not resolve soon….

(2) STAR TREK: VOYAGER QUIZ ON LEARNEDLEAGUE; JEOPARDY! BAIT AND SWITCH. [Item by David Goldfarb/] LearnedLeague has just had a One-Day Special quiz on Star Trek: Voyager. You can read the questions here. (I lost interest in Voyager partway through the first season, and could only answer three questions; my wife was more of a fan and got nine.) 

The Monday, February 6 episode of Jeopardy! had a category in the first round titled “Doctor Who”…except it turned out to be entirely about medical personnel associated with the World Health Organization. “Doctor WHO” rather than Doctor Who. Disappointing!

(3) UNPAID “NEW TALENT”? The Maul magazine, a horror genre publication, is the subject of discussion for its offer to publish material from minors without compensation. There is a regular rate for material purchased to appear in the magazine – “New Talent” submissions aren’t in the magazine, but on its web page. The discussion about that begins here.

The Maul’s editor Brian Rosten explains their policy in “A Minor FAQ”.

Can I be published in The Maul Magazine if I’m under 18?

Not really. Anyone under 18 is free to submit to our “New Talent” section of themaulmag.com’s web page. (We’re thinking of changing the name “New Talent,” because admittedly, it does make it sound like they’re a part of our main issues) None of those stories appear in any issues of The Maul. The stories for “New Talent” are under completely separate guidelines. There is also no competition for those publications. Anyone who meets the guidelines gets published providing they accept our edits. 

As someone on Twitter pointed out, this is more like an open mic. It’s a chance for kids to get excited about horror, practice their hand at the craft, and talk to an editor a little bit about the process of submitting to a magazine. 

We do not accept submissions from those under 18 for any issues of The Maul.

What do authors in the “New Talent” Section get paid?

Currently, we do not pay them. But we are willing to hear out ideas, as we cannot pay them directly, and they do not compete for publication.

(4) THE EXPANSE COMICS CROWDFUNDING BLOWS THE DOORS OFF. Bleeding Cool reports “Boom Studios To Kickstart ‘Season Six-And-A-Half’ Of The Expanse”.

…Boom Studios will be launching a Kickstarter for The Expanse: Dragon Tooth, the new comic book series by Andy Diggle and Christian Ward set between books six, Babylon’s Ashes, and seven, Persepolis Rising, of The Expanse, and following where season six of the Syfy and Prime Video TV series left off. Their Day One exclusive bonus item – The Expanse Rocinante Challenge Coin – will be available only for the first 24 hours of the campaign. Boom Studios has a history of using Kickstarter to raise the profile of media-prominent projects, such as Keanu Reeves and Brzrkr….

On its first day the Kickstarter has raised over $266,000 of its $25,000 goal  – “THE EXPANSE Continues In The DRAGON TOOTH Graphic Novels! by BOOM! Studios”

(5) MONTELEONE Q&A. Book and Film Globe – in a spirit that very much reminds me of Upstream Reviews – reports that the “Horror Writers’ Association Kicks Tom Monteleone To The Curb” and interviews him “to see if he cares.”

There have always been literary feuds. Has this “wreck the other guy’s career” always been a thing? Or is it peculiar to the Internet age?

I think social media and the instantaneous access to technology that can record you and send you anywhere has made it very easy for people to go after whoever they want — with as much speed and viciousness as possible.  I have been told there have been some posts that have savaged me in terrible ways—I haven’t bothered to read them—and often of the ad hominem variety. They gave me a LAA 6 years go, but now I am apparently not only an asshole, but also a no-talent has-been as well. And I do believe there is a certain type of individual out there who gets a true glee at knowing he or she has the power to destroy others with a few keyboard strokes….

(6) NEXT: HACKING AT WARPSPEED. Bruce Schneier explains the topic of his nonfiction book A Hacker’s Mind at Whatever: “The Big Idea: Bruce Schneier”.

…All systems are hackable. Even the best-thought-out sets of rules will be incomplete or inconsistent. They’ll have ambiguities, and things the designers haven’t thought of. As long as there are people who want to subvert the goals of a system, there will be hacks.

What will change everything is artificial intelligence, and what will happen when AIs start hacking. Not the problems of hacking AI, which are both ubiquitous and super weird, but what happens when an AI is able to discover new hacks against these more general systems. What happens when AIs find tax loopholes, or loopholes in financial regulations. We have systems in place to deal with these sorts of hacks, but they were invented when hackers were human and reflect the human pace of hack discovery. They won’t be able to withstand an AI finding dozens, or hundreds, of loopholes in the financial network. We’re simply not ready for the speed, scale, scope, and sophistication of AI hackers….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn

This past autumn the authors edition of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn came out. It was an edition that Beagle has long wanted to do and his editor, Deborah Grabien, author of the Haunted Ballad series, helped him craft it.

Published fifty-five years ago, it tells the tale of a unicorn who believes she is the last of her kind in the world at large and goes questing to see what happened to all other unicorns. It is a very, very charming tale. 

It’s one of my favorite works by him, amazingly well written given it was only his second novel after A Fine and Private Place. The Rankin/Bass animated film is much liked by Peter.

The Beginning of The Last Unicorn is I think one of the best that I’ve seen for a fantasy novel. It describes our protagonist in detail, telling us exactly what she’s like, and what her circumstances are now. 

The Last Unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea. 

She did not look anything like a horned horse, as unicorns are often pictured, being smaller and cloven-hoofed, and possessing that oldest, wildest grace that horses have never had, that deer have only in a shy, thin imitation and goats in dancing mockery. Her neck was long and slender, making her head seem smaller than it was, and the mane that fell almost to the middle of her back was as soft as dandelion fluff and as fine as cirrus. She had pointed ears and thin legs, with feathers of white hair at the ankles; and the long horn above her eyes shone and shivered with its own seashell light even in the deepest midnight. She had killed dragons with it, and healed a king whose poisoned wound would not close, and knocked down ripe chestnuts for bear cubs. 

Unicorns are immortal. It is their nature to live alone in one place: usually a forest where there is a pool clear enough for them to see themselves—for they are a little vain, knowing themselves to be the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and magic besides. They mate very rarely, and no place is more enchanted than one where a unicorn has been born. The last time she had seen another unicorn the young virgins who still came seeking her now and then had called to her in a different tongue; but then, she had no idea of months and years and centuries, or even of seasons. It was always spring in her forest, because she lived and she wandered all day among the great beech trees, keeping watch over the animals that lived in the ground and under bushes, in nests and caves, earths and treetops. Generation after generation, wolves and rabbits alike, they hunted and loved and had children and died, and as the unicorn did none of these things, she never grew tired of watching them.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 7, 1812 Charles Dickens. Author of more genre fiction according to ISFDB than I knew. There’s A Christmas Carol that I’ve seen performed lived myriad times but they also list The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year InThe Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of HomeThe Battle of LifeThe Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain and The Christmas Books. OK, that appears to be a lot of genre, doesn’t it? (Died 1870.)
  • Born February 7, 1908 Buster Crabbe. He also played the title role in the Tarzan the FearlessFlash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do though other actors played some of those roles.  He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.)
  • Born February 7, 1913 Henry Hasse. Best known for being the co-author of Ray Bradbury’s first published story, “Pendulum”, which appeared in November 1941 in Super Science Stories. ISFDB lists a single novel by him, The Stars Will Wait, and some fifty short stories if I’m counting correctly. The Stars Will Wait is available at the usual suspects. (Died 1977.)
  • Born February 7, 1929 Alejandro Jodorowsky, 94. The Universe has many weird things in it such as this film, Jodorowsky’s Dune. It looks at his unsuccessful attempt to film Dune in the mid-1970s. He’s also has created a sprawling SF fictional universe, beginning with the Incal, illustrated by the cartoonist Jean Giraud which is rooted in their work for the Dune project which is released as comics.
  • Born February 7, 1942 Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two-season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.)
  • Born February 7, 1949 Alan Grant. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.  If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. (Died 2022.)
  • Born February 7, 1950 Karen Joy Fowler, 73. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, which is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, Also two short works of hers, “Always” and “The Pelican Bar” won significant awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide. 
  • Born February 7, 1950 Margaret Wander Bonanno. She wrote seven Star Trek novels, several science fiction novels set in her own worlds, including The Others, a novel with Nichelle Nichols. In putting together this Birthday, several sources noted that she had disavowed writing her Trek novel Probe because of excessive editorial meddling by the publisher. She self-published Music of the Spheres, her unapproved version of Probe, the official publication. According to her, Probe has less than ten per cent of the content of her version. This led to Bonanno being blacklisted from the Star Trek publishing universe for over 11 years; in 2003 she returned with Catalyst of Sorrows,part of the Star Trek: The Lost Era series. (Died 2021.)

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy introduces readers to cat jurisprudence.

(10) BUTLER’S HOMETOWN. From the New York Times: “Diving Into Octavia Butler’s World in Southern California”, a “tour of the places that shaped the science fiction writer.”

Octavia Butler wrote 12 novels and won each of science fiction’s highest honors. She was the first science fiction writer to be awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant.

In 2020, 14 years after her death, one of her novels, “Parable of the Sower,” appeared on The New York Times’s best-seller list for the first time, a testament to how much readers still connect with her writing today.

And much of that work was greatly shaped by her life in California. Butler was born and went to school in Pasadena. Her mother cleaned houses in the city’s wealthy neighborhoods, and Butler became a fixture at the Peter Pan Room, the children’s section of the elegant Pasadena Central Library. As an adult, she regularly traveled across the Southland, scrutinizing the world around her and drawing on those observations for her books….

(11) MITTENS, THE EVIL CHESSBOT. CNN Business invites you to “Meet the innocent looking cat that upended the chess world” in a video at the link.

This harmless looking cat-themed chess bot called “Mittens” has a single digit Elo score, but it has bewildered the world of chess while evolving into an internet meme.

(12) AI COMEDY SUSPENDED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] AI-generated trans- and homophobia. Who would’ve guessed? (Raises hand.) GIGO. At best. “Twitch Kicks AI-Generated Seinfeld Show Off Air After Not-Jerry Makes Transphobic Remark” from Gizmodo.

After becoming the new hotness for fans of surreal insanity, the never ending AI-generated stream inspired by the 90s sitcom Seinfeld called Nothing, Forever has been temporarily kicked off the air. Just like some other famed comedians, the series main character “Larry Feinberg” was slapped down hard after making an ill-fitting transphobic and homophobic joke.

Each “episode” of Nothing, Forever contains a section where Larry performs a comedy set akin to what Jerry Seinfeld does at the start of the real-life show. As first reported by Vice, Twitch issued a 14-day ban on Nothing, Forever Sunday night after video showed Larry dive into Dave Chappelle-levels of anti-self-reflection….

(13) CENSORSHIP UPDATE. “Disney removes Simpsons ‘forced labour’ episode in Hong Kong” reports BBC News.

…There have been rising concerns about censorship in Hong Kong after it passed several controversial laws.

The city had previously had access to more civil freedoms than the Chinese mainland, but Beijing has clamped down on these rights since major pro-democracy protests rocked the city in 2019.

In the episode, which first aired last October, the character Marge Simpson is shown images of the Great Wall of China during an exercise class.

During the class, her instructor comments: “Behold the wonders of China: Bitcoin mines, forced labour camps where children make smartphones.”

The BBC has reported that hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority people in the western region of Xinjiang have been forced into manual labour.

The Chinese government denies this and says the factories are part of a voluntary “poverty alleviation” scheme.

The Simpsons has been shown on and off in mainland China since the early 2000s. Clips from the current season can be found on Chinese streaming sites, but not of that particular scene, according to a BBC check on Tuesday.

The removal of the latest Simpsons episode comes after Disney in 2021 also removed a show episode referring to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Censorship of Western TV is commonplace in mainland China, and critics say this pattern has been increasing in Hong Kong….

(14) YOUR FLYING VACUUM CLEANER AWAITS. Giant Freakin Robot tells fans where to “See The First Flying Bike Designed Just Like Star Wars Landspeeders”.

The Star Wars franchise is home to a number of iconic technologies that fans have fantasized about. Although most fans first think of the lightsaber as Star Wars‘ signature technological device, another one is closer to becoming a reality. According to the website of the company Aerwins, it has produced the XTURISMO, a flying bike that in many ways resembles the iconic Star Wars vehicle. Check out one of the first looks at the XTURISMO flying bike in the promotional video from Aerwin below…

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Cat Eldridge.]

Statement by Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Administrator

Dave McCarty, Chengdu Worldcon Vice-Chair and co-department head for the Hugos, wrote on his Facebook page today that the 2023 Hugo nominations “should be ready before the end of February.”

So, an item that seems of some import to folks.

The Hugo administration team for Chengdu (of which I am the administrator) is still in the process of testing the nomination page for Chengdu. It will be at least a week or maybe 2 before we’re ready to open, but it should be ready before the end of February. We will not open until we are sure the page and database are ready. If we have to delay a bit more than this, we’ll let you know.

With our dates in October, nominations will stay open through the end of April, so the amount of time for nomination will hopefully be around the usual amount even if we’re starting a little later.

We’ll be closed in May to do our magical administration stuff and prepare the ballot announcement.

Voting on the ballot will happen in June through at least the end of August.

Emails with instructions for logging into the nominations page will be sent to everyone with WSFS rights to nominate shortly before nominations open up.

A paper ballot will be released shortly after nominations on the web open up.

So if this item is of “some import” to you, try not to shiver with antici– SAY IT –pation as you continue to monitor McCarty’s Facebook page.

I Spy, Up in the Sky

By Rich Lynch: During the past couple of days the news cycle has been dominated by the story of the Chinese Balloon.  I imagine that by now we’re all maybe a little bit tired of hearing about it, so let’s instead talk about a different balloon. This one:

Anybody else here old enough to remember it?  I was a pre-teen when it was launched in 1960 and space cadet as I was back then, it had supercharged my enthusiasm for all things NASA.  The news coverage had stated that the big balloon would be visible to the naked eye, so for the next several clear nights after Echo I had reached orbit I was out in the backyard of my parents’ house looking for it.  All I had to go on were occasional mentions in the local news of when it might be visible – I hadn’t had any real idea of where specifically to look in the night sky, so it was a bit of a celestial needle in the haystack exercise.  But when I did finally spot it…wow!

I had hoped it would be fairly bright, and it exceeded my expectations.  Maybe this is just an overinflated recollection from so many decades ago but I remember it being one of the brightest objects in the sky.  And you know, I don’t recall ever seeing it again after that.  The thing stayed in orbit for several years until atmospheric drag finally brought it down but if I ever observed it again, those memories have long ago been overwritten.  Nowadays, of course, we’ve got websites and smartphone apps aplenty to show us where to look for most every artificial satellite that’s up there.  But they’re so numerous and often so faint that it’s become too ordinary to much bother with.  Just the opposite, in fact – I’ve had more than one astrophoto ruined by the streak of an artificial satellite that had photobombed the image.

It still causes me to smile whenever I think back to those years and all the things that had excited me during the space race.  And even today I’m in awe about all the scientific wonders constantly being discovered up in the heavens.  I hope I never lose that sense of wonder.

Pixel Scroll 2/6/23 Something In The Way She Scrolls Attracts Me Like No Other Pixel

(1) FRUSTRATED HARD SF FAN. Thaddeus Howze reviews a SyFy TV series in: “The Ark: Rage Against The Dying Of The Science In Sci-Fi” on Facebook.

The SyFy television series The Ark happened. I stayed away from it until I was able to be rested and give it the benefit of the doubt….

… I enjoy the exteriors and the flyby’s and all of the other beautiful effort made to showcase the exterior of the ship BUT there were so many things wrong with the ship which you might only know if you have any interest in space ships, extrasolar arks, or naval ship design.

For example and let’s start with the elephant in the room:

• WHO PUTS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEMBERS OF THE CREW IN ONE SECTION OF THE SHIP? Convenient for the plot but unrealistic for the crew of a space exploration vehicle, since if the goal is to provide maximum redundancy, that specialized personnel should be scattered among the crew to reduce the possibility of the command crew being wiped out in a single event.

• I love the fact they knew part of such a generation ship should have rotating sections to provide pseudo-gravity. But that gravity should be confined to the spinning regions of the ship….

(2) THE FIRST ‘THREE-BODY’ ARRIVES. The New York Times’ Mike Hale, in “‘Three-Body’ Review: A Chinese Series Beats Netflix to the Screen”, overviews the 30-episode series. It begins with a spoiler warning.

This review contains spoilers for the novel “The Three-Body Problem” and the television series “Three-Body.” There’s no way around it.

The highly acclaimed trilogy of Chinese science-fiction novels collectively known as “Three-Body,” in which Earth is threatened with invasion by technologically superior aliens, is generally understood to reflect historical Chinese anxieties about Western domination. Which makes it a little amusing that, 17 years after the story was first serialized, the books are about to get more attention than ever because of a big-budget American adaptation, due later this year on Netflix. Comments about appropriation and cultural sensitivity will start to pour in minutes after the episodes are posted.

In the meantime, little attention is being paid in the United States to an ambitious Chinese series, “Three-Body,” that has beaten Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” to the screen. No trade barriers or worries about state secrets here: The 30 episodes of “Three-Body” are premiering on Rakuten Viki in the United States, with subtitles in English (among many other languages), on the same day they appear in China, where they are reportedly setting viewing records for Tencent’s WeTV streaming service. Outside of the sci-fi fan base, however, they don’t appear to be causing a ripple in America. (The 21st episode arrived on Friday; early episodes can be watched free with ads.)…

(3) HE DOES THE TWIST. In “What Will It Take to Trust M. Night Shyamalan?” the New York Times contends, “The director, whose latest is ‘Knock at the Cabin,’ has been working to regain audience faith, one B-movie at a time.”

… The disaster that was “Lady in the Water” kicked off a four-film slump in which Shyamalan’s budgets were pricier than ever, peaking at $150 million for “The Last Airbender” (2010), yet even added together, their total Rotten Tomatoes score is still rotten.

Shyamalan had hoped that splashy blockbusters would prove he deserved creative freedom. He’d put his faith in a false narrative of Spielbergian success. And he’d failed.

The master manipulator was scared by his own choices.

As for what to do next? The answer was obvious — if he went back to the beginning. Shyamalan borrowed money against his house to make the $5 million found-footage horror flick “The Visit” (2015). Every Hollywood studio passed on distributing it, so he flew home to Philadelphia and polished his edit until Universal said yes. “The Visit” grossed $98 million worldwide, and the director used a cut of his windfall to fund the next film, “Split,” which grossed $278 million, and the next, “Glass,” $247 million; each was shot on his own dime with complete creative independence and all but one of them shot in, essentially, his own backyard. The exception is “Old” (2021), which, because of the pandemic, was filmed at a locked-down resort in the Dominican Republic. He paid for that out of pocket, too.

The truth is, today’s shaky cinematic landscape can barely support the current Spielberg, let alone the next. Instead, Shyamalan is blueprinting a new paradigm. 

(4) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Some novels have a short and lovely Beginning and so it is with Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. It is my second favorite novel by him with Neverwhere being the one I like the most and Anansi Boys really the only other one that I like enough to have re-read.

It is, I think, a lovely novel that is very sweet with characters that lack the edges of many Gaiman characters. The setting is fascinating and the story is stellar as well.

There is a recording of him reading it and I strongly recommend y’all go hear it – it’s very obvious that he loves this story.. Neil writes wonderful text, and the reading he does here blends so well with his writing that it’s just a treat. 

It garnered a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature which makes perfect sense, and the film version won a Hugo at Denvention 3. 

And here’s that oh so perfect Beginning…

In Which We Learn of the Village of Wall, and of the Curious Thing That Occurs There Every Nine Years

There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire. And while that is, as beginnings go, not entirely novel (for every tale about every young man there ever was or will be could start in a similar manner) there was much about this young man and what happened to him that was unusual, although even he never knew the whole of it.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 6, 1922 Patrick Macnee. He was best known as the secret agent John Steed in The Avengers, a role he reprised in the New Avengers. He made his genre debut as Young Jacob Marley in Scrooge. He then starred as Derek Longbow in Incense for the Damned (also released as BloodsuckersFreedom Seeker Incense for the Damned and Bloodsuckers, Freedom Seeker and Doctors Wear Scarlet). Next up is an uncredited role voicing Imperious Leader on the original Battlestar Galactica.  He played Captain John Good R.N. in King Solomon’s Treasure based rather loosely on the H. Rider Haggard source material. What else? Let’s see… he shows up in The Howling as Dr. George Waggner, as Dr. Stark in a film as alternative title is, I kid you not, Naked Space and Spaceship. It’s a parody apparently of Alien. Next up for him is another toff named Sir Wilfred in Waxwork and its sequel. Yes, he wears a suit rather nicely. At least being Professor Plocostomos in Lobster Man from Mars is an open farce.  Yes let me note that he had a voice only role in the absolutely shitty remake of The Avengers as Invisible Jones, a Ministry Agent. I do hope they paid him well. His last film work was genre as well, The Low Budget Time Machine, in which he started as Dr. Bernard. (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 6, 1927 Zsa Zsa Gabor. Her first venture into SF was the Fifties very camp Queen of Outer Space which she followed up by being in Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie. She had a cameo in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. She’s Erika Tiffany Smith on Gilligan’s Island, and Minerva on Batman. One of her last appearances was as herself on The Munsters Today as she retired from acting in late Nineties. (Died 2016.)
  • Born February 6, 1931 Rip Torn. First genre work that comes to mind is of course RoboCop 3 and his Men in Black films. His first dip into our world comes as Dr. Nathan Bryce In The Man Who Fell to Earth. Yeah that film. Actually if you count Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he’s been a member of our community since his Twenties. He also shows up on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 6, 1943 Fabian, 80. Bill Dexter in Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. He doesn’t have much of a genre resume appearing only once on Fantasy Island, plus being in Kiss Daddy Goodbye. The latter would be shown on Movie Macabre, Elvira’s early Eighties movie show.
  • Born February 6, 1943 Gayle Hunnicutt, 80. I’m giving her Birthday Honors as she was Irene Adler, opposite Jeremy Brett, in the first episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, “A Scandal in Bohemia”. She also shows up in The Martian ChroniclesThe Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Legend of Hell HouseFantômas (a French series) and Tales of The Unexpected
  • Born February 6, 1958 Cecily Adams. She played Ishka (aka Moogie), mother of the Ferengi brothers Rom and Quark, in four of her five appearances on Deep Space Nine. (Andrea Martin played her the first time.) Most of her genre experience was in such concerns as Who Framed Roger RabbitFlash ForwardLost on EarthBone Chillers and 3rd Rock from The Sun. (Died 2004.)

(6) GENERAL OTTO MATIC. In “How Smart Are the Robots Getting?” the New York Times notes that the Turing Test is no longer the final exam.

Franz Broseph seemed like any other Diplomacy player to Claes de Graaff. The handle was a joke — the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I reborn as an online bro — but that was the kind of humor that people who play Diplomacy tend to enjoy. The game is a classic, beloved by the likes of John F. Kennedy and Henry Kissinger, combining military strategy with political intrigue as it recreates the First World War: Players negotiate with allies, enemies and everyone in between as they plan how their armies will move across 20th-century Europe.

When Franz Broseph joined a 20-player online tournament at the end of August, he wooed other players, lying to them and ultimately betraying them. He finished in first place.

Mr. de Graaff, a chemist living in the Netherlands, finished fifth. He had spent nearly 10 years playing Diplomacy, both online and at face-to-face tournaments across the globe. He did not realize until it was revealed several weeks later that he had lost to a machine. Franz Broseph was a bot.

“I was flabbergasted,” Mr. de Graaff, 36, said. “It seemed so genuine — so lifelike. It could read my texts and converse with me and make plans that were mutually beneficial — that would allow both of us to get ahead. It also lied to me and betrayed me, like top players frequently do.”

Built by a team of artificial intelligence researchers from the tech giant Meta, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other prominent universities, Franz Broseph is among the new wave of online chatbots that are rapidly moving machines into new territory….

(7) THE CROWDED SKIES. Space.com tells readers “Jupiter now has the most moons in the solar system, beating Saturn thanks to 12 newfound satellites”. (Via Scifi Radio.) Or as Michael Swanwick put it on Facebook, “Jupiter is once again the mooniest planet in the Solar System. Suck it, Saturn!”

Jupiter isn’t just the largest and most massive planet in the solar system — now, the gas giant also boasts the largest number of moons orbiting it after scientists discovered another 12 moons, bringing the behemoth’s total up to 92.

The orbits of the 12 hitherto undiscovered moons of Jupiter have been published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, according to a new report from Sky and Telescope. The dozen new moons represent a 15% increase in the planet’s known moons. With these new discoveries, Jupiter seizes the record for “solar system planet with most moons” from the previous record holder, Saturn

Scientists have found 83 moons to date around the ringed gas giant, the second-largest planet in the solar system. However, astronomers have also found tons of rocks down to about 2 miles (3 kilometers) wide around Saturn without yet tracking the objects precisely, according to Sky and Telescope(opens in new tab). As instruments become capable of studying these smaller moons, Jupiter may have to relinquish its new title back to Saturn. 

(8) WHO KNEW? “Scientists Discover Ants Can Sniff Out Cancer in Urine” says ScienceAlert.

… They conditioned 35 silky ants (Formica fusca) to associate healthy mouse urine with a sugar-water reward and another 35 to associate the smell of urine from mice carrying human cancer tumors.

It took only three training sessions for the ants to discriminate between odors. These ants are known for their fast learning and memory retention; they can be tested nine times without a reward before their responses start to fade.

In their previous study, the researchers found ants can distinguish between cancerous and healthy cell samples and different types of cancer cells.

Once trained, the ants spent around 20 percent more time near the target odor than others, looking for that sugary reward and incidentally providing a clear and accurate signal of the presence or absence of breast cancer in the mouse urine….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Xtifr.]

2023 Jack Williamson Lectureship

The 46th Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship, hosted by Eastern New Mexico University, will be held April 13-15 in Portales, NM with guest of honor Arkady Martine and emcee Connie Willis.

Williamson Lectureship Chair David Sweeten hits the high points in the schedule:

For Thursday April 13th, we are having opening comments on the Lectureship, and we will have a screening of student short sci-fi films alongside a display of student sci-fi art. On Friday April 14th, we’ll have our Guest of Honor reading, a lunchtime event with sci-fi trivia, comments from Connie, and a Keynote from Arkady Martine; panels (including a panel on scholars studying sci-fi and fantasy); and a gaming event. On Saturday morning April 15th, we’re planning on having Connie’s Creative Writing Workshop, accompanied by however many baked goods I can get through my oven in time.

  • Arkady Martine is a speculative fiction writer and, as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, a historian of the Byzantine Empire and a city planner. Under both names she writes about border politics, narrative and rhetoric, risk communication, and the edges of the world. She is currently a policy advisor for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, where she works on climate change mitigation, energy grid modernization, and resiliency planning. Her debut novel, A Memory Called Empire, won the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and its sequel, A Desolation Called Peace, won the 2022 Hugo Award in the same category. Arkady grew up in New York City, and after some time in Turkey, Canada, Sweden, and Baltimore, lives in New Mexico with her wife, the author Vivian Shaw. Find Arkady online at www.arkadymartine.net or on Twitter as @ArkadyMartine
  • Connie Willis has been publishing science fiction and fantasy works for more than 50 years.  After her first novel was published in 1982, she was able to quit her teaching job and become a full-time writer.  She’s won multiple Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and named a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master.  Themes in her works include time travel, romantic comedy, history, and Christmas – to name a few.  Her 2016 novel Crosstalk was named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR. Her most recent novel was Take a Look at the Five and Ten from Subterranean Press in 2020; The Road to Roswell will be coming out in July 2023 from Del Rey.

The annual Jack Williamson Lectureship includes a luncheon with presentations by the guest of honor and toastmaster, readings by guest authors, time for book sales and signing, and panel discussions on a variety of science fiction and fantasy topics.

The lectureship, named for the prolific sff author and academic, was established by the university when Dr. Jack Williamson retired from his position as professor of English at Eastern New Mexico University in 1977. Ever since then writers, editors, artists and other speakers have gathered at ENMU every spring to share ideas, insights and their work with students, readers, viewers, creators, collectors and fans.

All events are open to the public and the luncheon is the only event that requires advance reservations and a fee. See the full agenda here.

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixty-Fourth

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS

Hello, All! Melanie here.

Each week that I pass Writer X’s emails on to Mike, I like to include a personal note at the opening. Alas, this week I must recuse myself from that activity.

The reason? I too greatly resemble the following approaches to deadlines.

Without further ado…


Subject: Blog Writer

Dear Gladys,

There are no two ways about it, this year’s New Hampshire Writer’s Retreat was a SMASHING SUCCESS!!!!! I am totally PUMPEd about all the things I’m going to get done this year in my writing life.

In the last hours of being shipwrecked on Strange Island with all the other feral writers, one of the Selfies explained the importance of published writers having their own blogs. She said you have to maintan an emotional connection with your readers and share little pizzas of your writing life with them. Kind of a behind-the-scenes thing.

The only thing is, unlike other writers, I don’t have time to write a blog. That is extremely uncreative and you know I am a VERY creative writer, Gladys!!! That is why I’ve decided to give the task to someone who is not very creative at all. (It’s you Gladys!!!!!)

All I will need is for you to take all the notes I send you about my day and make sure you write up a gripping and personal account that EMOTIONALLY CONNECTS to my readers. MAKE SURE YOU MAKE IT SOUND LIKE ME!!!!!!

You probably won’t make it sound like me. I’m very hard to get write.

How about this, you take my notes, re-write them into the most grupping blog you can write, send it back to me and I will rewrite what you rewrite into something that is actually grupping and good and has that little Writer X touch????

Sounds like a plan, Galdsy!!!!

xox,

X


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: Have you seen this?

Start taking notes Gladys, my readers will want to see this!!! I’m going straight to the top!!!!!

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

I hope your new year has been full of promise. This was being passed around the Cradensburg Writer’s Forum and I thought of you. Have you seen this? You should submit something!

Warmly,

Bevvy

Bevvy Madison Hart she/her

Wandering Spirit Small Press, CEO

A Vegan Owned and Operated Press

Subject: Accountabiity Partners

Dear Gladys,

I’m off to my first real writing deadline!!!! Tryxy is also off to a writing deadline of his own. Even though he’s a freshman at the Miskatonic Online University, he still has to get his general education credits. He has to write a research paper about research papers and has the same deadline as me so we’re going to be accounability partners for each other.

Since I have to keep him accountable, I won’t have time to send you my blog notes for you to write my blog so Tryxy will be writing the notes and sending them to you so keep your eyes open!!!!!

As for my flash fiction entry, I’m going to bat this out of the PARTK!!!!! The contest is limited to writers who live in Cradensburg and HOW MANY OF US CAN THEIR BE???????

Of course, I have TONS of creative ideas for flash fiction so I will probably bombard this contest with at least twleve or thirteen stories!!!!! This will be tough because it means I HAVE TO COMPETE AGAINST MYSELF AS A WRITER. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Gladys.

Make sure you put that in the blog. This is the HARDEST THING I”VE EVER DONE.

Off to set up my writing space so that it is facing all my Brandon Sanderson novels and is fully decked out with my Harry Potter mug, Tardis slippers, and floating glitter Twilight pen.

xox,

X

IT’S TRYXY. HERE ARE MY NOTES.

TUESDAY, JAN. 31 6:47 PM
X HAS FINISHED WAVING INCENSE OVER WRITING SPACE.
INTERRUPTS MY THESIS STATEMENT RESEARCH TO LET ME KNOW THAT THE CREATIVE ENERGY IN THE ROOM IS ABOUT TO “BLOW THE ROOF OFF THIS PLACE.”
SITS AT LAPTOP AND OPENS NEW DOCUMENT FILE.

TUESDAY, JAN 31 9:35 PM
HAVE FINISHED MY THESIS STATEMENT ABOUT RESEARCH PAPERS.
WENT TO CHECK ON X.
SHE QUICKLY CLOSED A BROWSER WINDOW ON THE SEX-LIFE OF CLOWNS.
WON’T LET HER KNOW I SAW IT.
ROOF STILL ATTACHED TO HOUSE WHICH IS GOOD BECAUSE EXPECTING A BLIZZARD.
GOING TO BED.
GOODNIGHT.


Subject: Critical Research done

Dear Gladys,

Even though I haven’t gotten any words written, I put in a solid three hours or so of writing!!!! Make sure you tell my blog readers that I am approaching this fiction seriously. They need to be tantalized with curiosity!!!!!

Tryxy and I are headed to bed. Both of us have done a LOT of work. More tomorrow!!!!!

xox,

X


HELLO. QUITE A LOT OF SNOW TODAY. SHOVELED OUT DRIVEWAY. X’S TURN TO MAKE DINNER. NOW TO WRITE MY OPENING PARAGRAPH.

WEDNESDAY, FEB 1 5:35 PM
TURABIAN FORMAT IS THE MOST ATTRACTIVE OF THE FORMATS.
EVERYONE KNOWS THIS.
WILL DO EVERYTHING IN TURABIAN.
X SAYS SHE’S GOING TO WRITE AFTER SHE MAKES LASAGNA.
GOES ON YOUTUBE FOR LASAGNA RECIPE.

WEDNESDAY, FEB 1 6:59 PM
STILL NO LASAGNA.
X SAYS SHE’S STARTED HER OWN YOUTUBE CHANNEL.
HAS SPENT THE LAST HOUR GETTING “GREAT FOOTAGE” OF HER SNAPPING HER FINGERS AND MAKING CELERY STALKS APPEAR TO BE INSTANTLY MINCED.

WEDNESDAY, FEB 1 7:28 PM
HAVE GOOD START TO OPENING PARAGRAPH.
GOING TO READ IT TO X.
X LIKES MY OPENING PARAGRAPH.
HER DOCUMENT IS STILL EMPTY.
SHE SAYS SHE’S NOT WORRIED.
LOOKS WORRIED.
STARES AT WALL AND MINDLESSLY CHEWS CELERY.
ASKS ME IF I’D EVER DATE A CLOWN.


Subject: PLENTY OF TIME [email protected]!

Dear Gladys,

Flash fiction isn’t long!!! I am a professional, published writer. I am not in the least worried that I haven’t written anyof the twelve or thirteen stories I saw myself writing at the beginning of the week.

Perchance did I mention what any of those ideas were? Could you please let me know what they were and what was so fantastic about them?

CloCK IS TICKING!!!!!

xox,

X

MY TURN TO MAKE DINNER. MADE LASAGNA.

GETTING NERVOUS. RESEARCH PAPER ABOUT RESEARCH PAPER IS DUE TOMORROW AND ONLY HAVE THESIS AND OPENING PARAGRAPH. HAVE TO BUCKLE DOWN TONIGHT.

THURSDAY, FEB 2 6:17 PM
FORCED MYSELF TO WRITE BODY PARAGRAPH. GETS EASIER IF YOU PUSH THROUGH.
X HAS OPENED FILE AND CHANGED NAME OF STORY.
IS STARING AT THE BLINKING CURSOR WITH PERPLEXED EXPRESSION AND RUBBING HER CHIN.

THURSDAY, FEB 2 6:19 PM
X IS ON YOUTUBE.
REMINDING HER SHE SHOULD BE WRITING.
GIVES ME SULLEN LOOK.
SAYS SHE’S WAITING ON SOMETHING IMPORTANT FROM GLADYS.
OKAY, “GLADYS.”

THURSDAY, FEB 2 6:25 PM
X ASKS ME IF I’VE EVER PRAYED TO THE SCARY LEOPARD IN OUR BACKYARD.
GOES OUTSIDE.
THROUGH THE BACK WINDOW I SEE HER DANCING AND WAVING HER HANDS AND BOWING TO THE GIANT LEOPARD.
CHANTING SOMETHING ABOUT “A WRITING MIRACLE.”

THURSDAY, FEB 2 7:23 PM
WAS BUSY WRITING ROUGH DRAFT AND FORGOT TO CHECK ON X.
X IS FULL BLOWN SUCKED INTO A YOUTUBE DOCUMENTARY ON SEXY CLOWN SCANDALS.

THURSDAY, FEB 2 8:36 PM
WHOOOOOOAAAAAAA.
ACCIDENTALLY SUCKED INTO SEXY CLOWN SCANDALS DOCUMENTARY BY YOUTUBER 666ASHLEYPIZZAS.
NOW KNOW THINGS I WISH I DIDN’T.
ASK X WHAT SEXY CLOWNS HAVE TO DO WITH HER STORY.
X LOOKS SHIFTY.
SAYS “THE TANGENTIAL NATURE OF A WRITER’S CREATIVE PROCESS IS COMPLEX AND MUMBLE MUMBLE MUMBLE.”
BETTER GET BACK TO WORK ON RESEARCH PAPER.

THURSDAY, FEB 2 9:21 PM
FIRST DRAFT DONE!
X SAYS SHE’S GOING TO “PULL A LATE ONE.”
GOING TO BED.
GOODNIGHT.

FRIDAY, FEB 3 1:08 AM
GOT UP TO GIVE #BESTKITTEN MIDNIGHT SNACK.
FOUND X DROOLING ASLEEP IN FRONT OF LAPTOP WITH SEXY CLOWN SCANDAL PLAYLIST RUNNING ON AUTOPLAY.
WONDER IF THE DROOL IS PART OF THE COMPLEX CREATIVE PROCESS.
SENT X TO BED.


FRIDAY, FEB 3 5:08 PM
NOOOOOOOO.
PAPER IS SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN IN MLA FORMAT.
MLA FORMAT IS FOR ZOMBIES!
THIS IS GOING TO ADD AN HOUR TO MY REWRITE TIME.
X IS IN A DAZE.
SLIGHTLY CATATONIC.
WONDER IF SHE NEEDS ME TO GET OUT THE CATTLE PROD.

FRIDAY, FEB 3 6:47 PM
REFORMATTED PAPER.
NOW TO REWRITE DRAFT.
X’S STORY IS DUE BY 11:59PM BUT SHE IS TAKING A BUBBLE BATH.
STARTING TO WORRY ABOUT HER.

FRIDAY, FEB 3 8:06 PM
ARGH.
FORGOT TO CREATE A WORKS CITED PAGE.
WORKS CITED PAGES ARE THE BANE OF MY ACADEMIC EXISTENCE.
X HAS TAKEN AN ADDITIONAL BUBBLE BATH.

FRIDAY, FEB 3 8:16 PM
X IS WRINKLED LIKE A PRUNE.
ASKS ME WHAT IS THE NATURE OF LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, EVERYTHING.
TELL HER THAT IT OS OBVIOUSLY 42.
X SAYS “OH, OKAY. JUST CHECKING.”
I ASK HER HOW HER STORY IS COMING.
X ASKS ME IF SHE SHOULD DYE HER HAIR PINK AND MOVE TO ICELAND.
I ASK HER WHY ICELAND.
SHE SAYS “THE LANDSCAPE SEEMS AS DEVOID AND BARREN AS MY SOUL.”
I THINK SHE MIGHT GIVE UP.

Subject: BREAKTHROUGH!!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

There are only a few hours left before the deadline for the Flash Fiction contest runs out.

I have been going about this all wrong.

My creative senses are very particular and need time to warm up before they can sit down and write a story. Sometimes it can take years before I feel like writing, but that is just because my creative senses are getting going, doing stretches, stoking the fires of the furnaces of my mind.

BUT THERE’S NOTHING LIKE THE THREAT OF DANGER TO GET MY CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING!!!! I do my best creative work under pressure.

My creative senseS are like a freight train. Or a herd of wildebeest. I shall spend the next few hours PRETENDING like I’m not going to write anything. And then…WHEN THE WILDEBEEST LEAST EXPECT IT…I will pounce on them and send the herd stampeding down the page!!!!!!

GET READY FOR SOME WILD WRITING!!!!!!!!

xox,

X

FRIDAY, FEB 3 9:42 PM
REREADING RESEARCH PAPER FOR ANY LAST MINUTE ERRORS.
I NEVER WANT TO SEE ANOTHER RESEARCH PAPER AS LONG AS I LIVE—WHICH IS FOREVER.
X IS BACK IN KITCHEN WORKING ON MORE CELERY SNAPPING FOOTAGE.

FRIDAY, FEB 3 10:03 PM
CAN’T TAKE IT.
HAVE TO SUBMIT PAPER NOW OR WILL SCREAM.
X HAS DECIDED TO SPOT CLEAN THE ATTIC.

FRIDAY, FEB 3 10:08 PM

OH NO!
FOUND TYPOS!
UNSUBMIT UNSUBMIT UNSUBMIT!

FRIDAY, FEB 3 10:47 PM
TYPOS FIXED.
AM GOING TO PRACTICE DRUMS SINCE HOUSE IS STILL AWAKE.

FRIDAY, FEB 3 11:43 PM
I THINK X IS WRITING.
HER FACE IS THREE INCHES FROM SCREEN.
FINGERS ARE FLYING.
ASK HER IF SHE’S WRITING.
SHE SHUSHES ME WITHOUT TAKING EYES OFF SCREEN.

Subject: SUBMITTED!!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I DID IT!!!!! In the end, I decided to only submit one story so that I don’t overwhlem the contest with my brilliance. Now I just sit back and wait for you to write my blog.

And Tryxy got his paper in. I made sure to give him extra support.

This flash fiction has reminded me just how easy writing is. I’m going to whip up a few of these and submit them to all the places. I knew I was a short story writer at heart!!!!!

Pages next week!!!!

xox,

X

BOTH OF US

GOT OUR

WRITING IN.

THE LEOPARD

BE PRAISED.

Pixel Scroll 2/5/23 He Said, “First!” And Exited Stage Left To A Swirl Of Scrolling Pixels

(1) TOLKIEN SOCIETY AWARDS NEWS. The Tolkien Society invites the public to submit nominations for The Tolkien Society Awards 2023 through February 26. Membership is not required to participate in the first round. Once the shortlist is compiled, however, only members will be eligible to vote on the winners, who will be announced April 1.

(2) WHAT HAS IT GOT IN ITS GARBAGE TRUCKS? “Refuse firm Lord of the Bins ordered to change its name by Tolkien franchise” reports the Guardian.

A refuse firm in Brighton called Lord of the Bins has been ordered by lawyers to change its name after being accused of breaching trademark laws.

The two-man waste collection business was contacted by Middle-earth Enterprises, which owns the worldwide rights to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Nick Lockwood and Dan Walker run the company, which collects household, building and office waste across East Sussex and West Sussex.

The pair said they have been issued with a cease and desist notice after it was claimed they were in breach of the well-known franchise’s trademarks.

As well as changing the firm’s name and website, they have been forced to ditch their company slogan – “One ring to remove it all”.

(3) TWEET DECAY. Ursula Vernon speaks for many in a remark that went viral on Twitter.

(4) CHEESE PLEASE. In “An AI app walks into a writers room” Charles Stross passes along ChatGPT’s answer to an inventive question.

Question to ChatGPT: What is the plot of the unpublished script Charles Stross wrote for Wallace and Grommit?

(5) GUNN CSSF BOOK CLUB. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club has chosen for the month of February to read Akwaeke Emezi’s YA novel, Pet

Set in the utopian town of Lucille, Emezi’s novel portrays a society that has taught children that monsters and evil no longer exist. Jam, the protagonist, soon questions the beliefs of her society when she is faced with a real monster, who is nothing like the stories she has heard. Winner of the Stonewall Book Award for LGBTQ+ writing in 2020, Pet contemplates the classic societal conception of good versus evil. 

Readers are invited to join the virtual event on Friday, February 24 at Noon (Central). Register here.  

(6) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers Yoon Ha Lee’s “The Ethnomusicology of the Last Dreadnought” as an encouragement to subscribe.

It is not true that space is silent.

The darkness between stars is full of threnodies and threadbare laments, concertos and cantatas, the names of the dead and the wars that they’ve fed. Few people are unmoved by the strenuous harmonies and the strange hymns. Fewer people still understand their significance, the decayed etymologies and deprecated tongues….

(7) TRIBUTE TO A CRITIC. The Strange Horizons – 30 January 2023 issue is devoted to the late Maureen Kincaid Speller. (Via Ansible.)

In January 2022, the reviews department at Strange Horizons, led at the time by Maureen Kincaid Speller, published our first special issue with a focus on SF criticism. We were incredibly proud of this issue, and heartened by how many people seemed to feel, with us, that criticism of the kind we publish was important; that it was creative, transformative, worthwhile. We’d been editing the reviews section for a few years at this point, and the process of putting together this special, and the reception it got, felt like a kind of renewal—a reminder of why we cared so much. In the couple of months that followed, we made grand plans for future projects, and even started a podcast.

The criticism special was also the last major project the three of us worked on together, before Maureen’s cancer diagnosis. We lost her in September.

We’d already been toying with the idea of doing another criticism special in 2023; when the subject of a tribute issue to Maureen was broached, the only way we could envision it was through the critical work that she loved.…

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2014 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So let’s talk about Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Spade/Paladin Conundrums which got their start in the “Stomping Mad” story.

I’m very fond of our community and equally fond of mysteries as y’all well know by now. So you will not find it at all surprising that I really love these stories. They’ve got a perfect central character as you’ll see below, a great setting as they’re all set at various Cons and the stories are all fascinating. What’s not to like? 

Rusch for a long time only did short stories set here,  really great ones, a fair number of them, mostly collected in Early Conundrums, and those exist in a stellar audio version which is narrated by Rish Outfield, but two years ago Ten Little Fen: A Spade/Paladin Conundrum came out. It’s a superb mystery and a even better look at Con culture. 

Here’s the Beginning of the series in that story. 

SHE CALLED HERSELF the Martha Stewart of Science Fiction, and she looked the part: Homecoming-queen pretty with a touch of maliciousness behind the eyes, a fakely tolerant acceptance of everyone fannish, and an ability to throw the best room party at any given Worldcon in any given year.

So when a body was found in her party suite, the case came to me. Folks in fandom call me the Sam Spade of Science Fiction, but I’m actually more like the Nero Wolfe: a man who prefers good food and good conversation, a man who is huge, both in his appetite and in his education. I don’t go out much, except to science fiction conventions (a world in and of themselves) and to dinner with the rare comrade. I surround myself with books, computers, and televisions. I do not have orchids or an Archie Goodwin, but I do possess a sharp eye for detail and a critical understanding of the dark side of human nature.

I have, in the past, solved over a dozen cases, ranging from finding the source of a doomsday virus that threatened to shut down the world’s largest fan database to discovering who had stolen “the Best Artist Hugo two hours before the award ceremony. My reputation had grown during the last British Fantasy Convention when I—an American—worked with Scotland Yard to recover a diamond worth £1,000,000 that a Big Name Fan had forgotten to put in the hotel’s safe.

But I had never faced a more convoluted criminal mind until that Friday afternoon at the First Annual Jurassic Parkathon, a media convention held in Anaheim.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 5, 1906 John Carradine. I’m going to count Murders in the Rue Morgue as his first genre appearance.  After that early Thirties film, he shows up (bad pun I know) in The Invisible ManThe Black CatBride of FrankensteinAli Baba Goes to TownThe Three Musketeers and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Look, that’s just the Thirties. Can I just state that he did a lot of genre work and leave it at that? He even had roles on The Twilight ZoneThe MunstersLost in SpaceNight Gallery and the Night Strangler. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 5, 1919 Red Buttons. He shows up on The New Original Wonder Woman as Ashley Norman. Yes, this is the Lynda Carter version. Somewhat later he’s Hoagy in Pete’s Dragon followed by being the voice of Milton in Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.  He also played four different characters on the original Fantasy Island. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 5, 1922 Peter Leslie. Writer in a number of media franchises including The AvengersThe New Avengers (and yes they are different franchises), The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. ISFDB also lists has writing in the Father Hayes series but I don’t recognize that series. (Died 2007.)
  • Born February 5, 1924 Basil Copper. Best remembered for Solar Pons stories continuing the character created as a tribute to Sherlock Holmes by August Derleth. I’m also fond of The Great White Space, his Lovecraftian novel that has a character called Clark Ashton Scarsdale has to be homage to Clark Ashton Smith. Though I’ve not seen them them, PS Publishing released Darkness, Mist and Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basil Copper, a two-volume set of his dark fantasy tales. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 5, 1934 Malcolm Willits, 89. Author of The Wonderful Edison Time Machine: A Celebration of Life and Shakespeare’s Cat: A Play in Three Acts which he filmed as Shakespeare’s Cat. He also co-edited Destiny, an early Fifties fanzine with Jim Bradley.
  • Born February 5, 1940 H.R. Giger. Conceptual designer in whole or part for Aliens, Alien³Species and Alien: Resurrection to name a few films he’s been involved in. Did you know there are two Giger Bars designed by him, both in Switzerland? And yes they’re really weird. (Died 2014.)
  • Born February 5, 1941 Stephen J. Cannell. Creator of The Greatest American Hero. That gets him Birthday Honors. The only other genre series he was involved with was The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage thirty years ago which I never heard of. He also created the Castle series with Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame and was one of the actual players at the poker games on the series. View one of them here. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 5, 1964 Laura  Linney, 59. She first shows up in our corner of the Universe as Meryl Burbank/Hannah Gill on The Truman Show before playing Officer Connie Mills in The Mothman Prophecies (BARF!) and then Erin Bruner in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. She plays Mrs. Munro In Mr. Holmes, a film best described as stink, stank and stunk when it comes to all things Holmesian. Her last SF was as Rebecca Vincent in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld passes along advice about what women writers need.

(11) WAKANDA WORD STUDY. Dictionary.com has a rather interesting article about “The Names Of Black Panther & Wakanda: Their Meaning & Significance”. (Spoiler warning.)

Comic book creators and filmmakers pick some superhero names just because they sound cool. Other names, though, are chosen for their deep connection with a character or setting. Many of the names from Wakanda, the home of Black Panther, are especially rich in symbolism and significance.

Join us as we answer these questions and more:

  • Is there a real Wakanda that inspired the name of the technologically advanced supercountry?
  • What is Black Panther’s real name?
  • What does Namor’s name mean?

(12) BEST DRESSED. The New York Times reviews “A Murder Mystery With Clothes to Die For”.

“The Traitors,” a new reality game show, hinges on startling revelations. In episodes of the series, which is framed as a whodunit, cast members are regularly “murdered” (kicked off). Others are “banished” (also kicked off). But some of the most astonishing reveals have nothing to do with the plot — and everything to do with what outfit the show’s host, the actor Alan Cumming, will appear in next.

There are pink plaid suits. Herringbone tweed capes. Sleek little kilts. “Perhaps, rather alarmingly,” Mr. Cumming said, “the vast majority of the clothes were mine.”…

(13) CARROLL AT NYRSF. A video of Jonathan Carroll’s NYRSF Reading has been posted.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Matt Mitchell plays all the parts in “When ‘The Balloon’ Comes South”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Cat Eldridge.]

Cats Sleep on SFF: Downbelow Station

Joe H makes his new cats comfortable with a famous C. J. Cherryh adventure:

Well, not actually sleeping on it, but meet new household additions Signy (left) and Mallory (right) in frame with my childhood copy of Downbelow Station, from whence the names.  (Plus a couple of standalone photos – Signy on the floor and Mallory on the bed.)


Photos of your felines (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com