Makeup Wizard Dick Smith Dies

Dick SmithOscar-winning makeup artist Dick Smith died July 31 at the age of 92. Best known for realistically aging Marlon Brando in The Godfather and F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus (sharing an Academy Award for the latter) he also worked on genre features such as The Exorcist, Scanners, Altered States and The Hunger , and on several episodes of the Dark Shadows TV series.

Smith received an honorary Governor’s Academy Award for his contributions to the field in 2012, which was presented by his protégé Rick Baker. This year he received the Makeup Artists Lifetime Achievement Award.

Earlier in his career he scored a Primetime Emmy for his work on Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight! (1967).

Warner Bros. Options McCaffrey’s Dragonriders

Cover of 1968 edition of Dragonflight.

Cover of 1968 edition of Dragonflight.

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider stories may finally reach the big screen now that Warner Bros. has optioned the film rights for the 22-book series.

As you know, Bob

The first book was published in 1968, and the focus is on an elite group of warriors who take to the skies on the backs of giant, fire-breathing dragons with telepathic powers.

Reportedly behind the deal is Warner production executive Drew Crevello, who came to the studio from Fox two months ago.

It has been three years since the last major announcement about the series’ movie prospects, when a scriptwriter was named for a Copperheart Studios production.

[Thanks to Robert Whitaker Sirignano for the story.]

Paris in 2023 Worldcon Bid Announced

Paris in 2023

Paris in 2023

It’s official: a committee of French and UK fans are bidding to host the 2023 Worldcon in Paris.

Interest in the idea of a Worldcon in France has been growing since 2009 and last year its proponents started sending up trial balloons in social media, hints that a bid was on the way.

Now the chair of the bidding committee, Cécile Reyer, has sent a press release saying they intend to launch at Loncon 3, just two weeks away:

I am pleased to announce the formation of Paris in 2023, a Worldcon bid to host the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in Paris, France in 2023. We will be launching our bid at this year’s Worldcon, Loncon3 in London, where we will have information table in the Fan Village.

We strongly believe that Europe has the fannish resources and facilities to host more Worldcons, and with Loncon 3 being held in London this year together with bids for Helsinki in 2017, and Dublin in 2019 we feel that France would be an ideal location for 2023.

Our vision is to run a family friendly Worldcon and we have chosen the dates of Thursday 3rd August to Monday 7th August 2023, and have preliminarily selected the convention  facilities at Disneyland Paris as a possible venue to host the convention.

At this early stage in our bid the committee comprises a small group of Anglo-French fans, but as time goes on we wish to grow and add international expertise from fans from all over Europe, the USA and the rest of the world.

Paris in 2023 will be voted on at the 2021 Worldcon, the location of which has yet to be determined. Further information about our bid can be found on our website at:

The members of the bid committee are: Chair: Cécile Reyer (France); General Committee: Léandre Boulez (France); Clarisse Lamarque (France); Pierre Messiaen (France); Jonjo (Wales); and Sharon Lewis-Jones (England).

There’s precedent for the idea of holding a Worldcon at Disneyland Paris, mixing Mickey Mouse and Hugo Gernsback. Three worldcons have been held across the street from Disneyland (L.A.con II, III and IV), and the Orlando in 2015 bid wanted to host the con in a DisneyWorld hotel.

I suppose the only obvious misstep in this launch is that the French language webpage is “still under construction.”

The bid also has a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Update 08/15/2014: Jonjo (Jonathan Lewis-Jones) and Sharon Lewis-Jones asked me to report they are no longer part of the bid committee.

How I’m Voting in the Best Novella Category

All five of the 2014 Best Novella Nominees rank above No Award on my Hugo ballot, which is saying something this year. Nearly all of them succeed on their own terms and it’s easy to see why each story has its fans.

(5) “Equoid” by Charles Stross (, 09-2013)

This is the first of the Bob Howard “Laundry” adventures I’ve ever read. Stross has written many stories in this series, including several novels, and it’s quite popular. So why would a yarn with that pedigree land fifth on my ballot? Because I don’t vote Hugos to stories that make me want to throw up.

In the middle of this Lovecraftian parody/espionage tale there’s a confrontation with a monster that details a hideously graphic sexual violation.

Ordinarily I would have clocked out of the story at that point. I abandoned Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl when a scene struck me as outside the bounds of entertainment, and it was far less offensive. Yet I couldn’t shake off the fanzine fan ethic that says – don’t review stuff you haven’t read. So I finished “Equoid.”

Even apart from that dealbreaker, Stross’ sustained cleverness is almost overwhelming. It’s like being on a panel with David Brin, a constant flow of truly inventive ideas that nevertheless focus attention on the author more than the subject. However, there was one thing I truly enjoyed — the parallels drawn between bureaucratic infighting and action in the field. That definitely qualified as a “truth said in jest.”

(4) “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)

The science fiction field tends to be hostile to religious faith, so it’s rare to find a good exploration of that topic in the genre. Torgersen’s characters begin at several different points on the topography of belief. He draws each one to a resolution that feels genuine, which is not easy to do. Otherwise, this is a linear, action-driven space opera that would have fit comfortably in Astounding (and evidently still fits in Analog today). Only fourth place for this effort because the writing style is rather basic.

(3) The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)

Dan Wells’ story has an even higher body count than “Equoid” but confines itself to regular barroom and battlefield morbidity. The protagonist has a technology-related superpower that leads to a great military career though with many a pitfall. His life story is told out of chronological order, something Wells carries off very well – and the choice for the last segment is completely satisfying. A professionally impressive work, though one that isn’t much fun because the protagonist is psychotic.

(2) Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)

The other day I read an editor promising her readers “gorgeous prose,” and Valente is an author who supplies that in abundance. In this novella she reweaves the traditional Snow White fairy tale as the life story of a child of a wealthy miner and a Crow woman, told in frontier diction — perhaps not the same as Charles Portis’ True Grit, though it came to mind, and absolutely without a trace of humor. The protagonist is an abused child inevitably trapped by a desire to please her parents. Throughout her life she copes with all the racism and sexism the 19th century has to offer. The historical realism (indeed, some of these details come from the Hearst family) makes the story feel like a duty to read.

The story is essentially a series of episodes that hold together because the reader knows the fairy tale. Otherwise the experience would be comparable to reading Harlan Ellison’s “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore.” But that’s a short story. When I reached the point in Six-Gun Snow White of asking “Will this be over soon?” there were 80 more pages to go.

(1) “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (, 10-2013)

“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages is by far the most entertaining and slickest written story nominated in this category. The cleverness, use of dialect and diction, and the awareness of social issues noted in the competition are all present here but remain in balance with storytelling and characterization.

There is one drawback. It’s not science fiction, and it’s only fantasy in a very general sense. Now when I was a lad I might have felt obligated to defend the purity of the Hugo Award against incursions of popular mainstream fiction. But this year, when so many games were played to get things on the final ballot, I refuse to be stopped from voting for what I regard as the best story in the category.

Cosplayer Assault Update

Police are continuing to investigate the July 28 attack that left a teen cosplayer unconscious by the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina pool on Harbor Drive. The San Diego Union-Tribune’s story names the person arrested but says police are still trying to determine who inflicted her injuries.

Police determined she had been with a man she knew most of the day, and was with him until about 11 p.m. when a party they went to in one of the hotel’s rooms was broken up after a noise complaint, Rakos said. That man, identified as Justin Kalior, was later arrested at the hotel.

He was booked into jail on suspicion of sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was not arrested on assault charges.

“We really want to determine who is responsible for her injuries and we are still investigating,” Rakos said.

The San Diego NBC affiliate also has a video report with quotes from the cosplayer’s mother, here.

Bad 911 Call

TMNT 911 posterDid the studio believe any publicity is good publicity, or did marketers really believe in this tasteless idea? That’s the question people are asking after Paramount Australia tweeted, then deleted a poster promoting the September 11 Australian release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

The reason for the furor online? The poster for the movie set in New York City features the shelled heroes Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael jumping out of a burning sky scraper with the release date of September 11 emblazoned below.

Obviously – at least to Americans – the release date coincides with the 13th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

[Thanks to Taral Wayne for the story.]

The Comic-Con Police Blotter

The first of two widely-reported assaults on cosplayers attending the San Diego Comic-Con resulted in an arrest. The other ended with street justice being meted out by a professional model dressed as Catwoman.

In the first case a cosplayer [name redacted] came to Comic-Con with friends but separated from them after a disagreement. She later was discovered on the side of a road, unconscious and bloody, her ID gone. When she awoke, she had no recollection of the event that caused her injuries.

Her mother’s appeal on Tumblr for help in finding out what had happened was widely copied online.

The next day (July 27) the San Diego Harbor Police arrested a suspect, a 29-year-old man, and charged him with sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. [The victim’s identifying information has been redacted because the girl is a teen and she is the victim of a sexual crime.]SD Harbor Police Press release

In the second case, tv personality Alicia Marie (“Cardio World”) was in the Comic-Con Gaslamp area dressed as Tigra and taking photos when a man came up behind her and yanked her tail and pants down. Adrianne Curry, the first winner of the reality television series America’s Next Top Model, was on hand — attired as Catwoman — and sprang into action. Alicia Marie told her Facebook followers:

I just freaked out, screamed trying to keep my bottoms up — but Adrianne Curry literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his ass. Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip — he had zombie blood on his face – got on her costume. Katrina got in his face, Todd shoved him, the guy ran off – huge ruckus and yep some people got their cell phones out of course.

Earlier MSN ran a photo of Curry as Catwoman and two other cosplayers with a story on at-con harassment and Geeks for CONsent’s petition. However, Curry thought her answer was more practical:

People signing forms about violating girls isn’t helping.Try beating the shit out of em. I doubt the guy who’s ass I kicked will do it again.

Alicia Marie and Adrianne Curry

Alicia Marie and Adrianne Curry

Updated 07/30/2014: Redacted first victim’s identifying information.

2014 Parsec Awards Finalists

The finalists for the 2014 Parsec Awards have been announced. The Parsecs recognize the best in speculative fiction podcasting.

Shows are nominated by fans, finalists are chosen by a steering committee, and the winners are voted on by an independent panel of judges. The winners will be announced at Dragon*Con.

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Novella Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast (Short Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Long Form

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Short Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Long Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Video Story

Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast

Best New Speculative Fiction Podcaster/Team

  • Drew Stewart and Mike Schindler of Standard Orbit
  • Peter Bryant, Mike Kafes, Brian Olvera, Allegra, Adrian Perez, and Jay Libby of MythWits
  • Ralff, Kim, and Johnny of Catching Up
  • Richard Wentworth, Michael McQuilkin, Lisa McQuilkin, and Michael Atkinson of Hadron Gospel Hour
  • William Chappell, Mike Mudd, Samantha Gee, and Madame Galiana of Society of Arozea

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (Specific)

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (General)

Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation

Best Fact Behind the Fiction Podcast

Best Speculative Fiction Comedy/Parody Podcast


Uncanny Beginnings

Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, multiple Hugo nominees as editors of the semiprozine Apex Magazine, are funding the first year of Uncanny, their new professional online SF/F magazine, with a Kickstarter appeal.

uncanny logo

Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy will contain new and classic speculative fiction, poetry, essays, art, and interviews.

The Thomases are raising $26,000 to cover operation and production costs. So far on day one of the campaign (July 29) they have already received over $5,500 in pledges. Fundraising will continue through August 28.

Uncanny will appear bimonthly, in eBook format (MOBI, PDF, EPUB), with each issue containing 4-6 new short stories, 2 reprinted stories, 2 poems, 2 nonfiction essays, and 2 interviews.

Half the material from each issue will be posted free on the Uncanny website, and there will also be a monthly fiction podcast.

Lynne and Michael Thomas will guide the magazine as Publishers and Editors-in-Chief. Lynne was Editor-in-Chief of Apex Magazine from 2011-2013, which was nominated for three Hugo Awards during her tenure. She co-moderates the two-time Hugo Award-winning SF Squeecast.

Michael, as the former Managing Editor of Apex Magazine, was a Hugo-nominee in 2012-2013.

Michi Trota will become Uncanny’s Managing Editor. She is a professional editor with fifteen years of experience in publishing.  Deborah Stanish will conduct Uncanny’s author interviews. Its short fiction podcast will be edited and produced by Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky.

The full press release follows the jump.

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