Ray Bradbury, Architect

The city of Los Angeles is criticized for many things, among them having no center. Over 50 years ago Ray Bradbury began writing down his remedies for that problem. Today his influence apparent in the Glendale Galleria, Century City and the redesign of key parts of Hollywood.

Bradbury biographer Sam Weller knows how important that legacy was to the author, who tried to summarize it in an essay they reworked many times in his final years though never finished.

Weller published that work in Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, and has allowed it to be excerpted as “The Pomegranate Architect” in The Paris Review.

As I look back over the last fifty years of my work in architecture, I can’t help but think about the time I visited the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. I was twelve, and as I wandered about that incredible city they had constructed, I fell in love with the future. And after I left the fair, I went home to the small Illinois town where I lived and in the backyard of my parents’ home, I constructed buildings out of paper and cardboard, not knowing that thirty years forward, in my own future, I would start my architectural work helping to build another World’s Fair, the 1964 New York World’s Fair, thus beginning my career as the world’s only accidental architect.

Tasteless McCullough Obituary Sets Off Avalanche of Parodies

Colleen McCullough, a favorite writer of mine whose Masters of Rome series I’ve read at least five times, died January 29 at the age of 77.

Her obituary in the Australian put some strange things in the lede: “Colleen McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.”

McCullough obit COMP

Social media responded to this insensitive and bizarre take on one of the world’s most popular writers with an outbreak of parodies on Twitter under the hashtag #myozobituary. Some of them are from writers and fans in the sf and fantasy field, and others are just too funny to leave out….

Neil Gaiman —

Nicholas Kaufmann of Dying Is My Business, Die and Stay Dead, and Chasing The Dragon

Nicholas Pegg, “probably the only Equity member to have played Hamlet, a Dalek and an otter.”

And others —

Alexandra Petri, the Washington Post humorist, has also contributed a column full of Obituaries for Men.

Fans Will Crown Year’s Best Military SF Story

cover years best military sfAfter Baen releases The Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera on June 2, the publisher will invite readers to vote online for the work in the volume most deserving of the accolade “Year’s Best Military and Adventure Science Fiction Story.”

Edited by David Afsharirad, and with an introduction by David Drake, the inaugural book in this year’s best series will collect stories from the top magazine and online venues with a military and adventure science fiction theme.

Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf adds —

We’ll be keeping track of the voting at baen.com. The winner will be announced at the Baen Travelling Road Show at Dragoncon in Atlanta. (I should make it clear that Dragoncon is only hosting us, not sponsoring the contest, much as the Locus poll winners have been announced at various conventions over the years, or the Prometheus Award at Worldcon.) The Reader’s Choice story will earn its author an additional $500 and a nice plaque.

The book can be pre-ordered now from a wide array of sellers.

Last Stages of Bradbury House Demolition

John King Tarpinian paid another visit to the site of Ray Bradbury’s house on January 30. By now most of the property has been cleared. The garage has been flattened, and the crew has taken down the chimney and is salvaging the bricks.

Chimney of Bradbury house. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Chimney of Bradbury house. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Bulldozer beside the garage. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Photo by John King Tarpinian.

What Stories Are In “Stories for Chip”?

Stories for Chip cover COMPEditors Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell have announced the table of contents of Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, coming July 1.

The book honors SFWA Grand Master, Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee, and multiple award-winner Samuel R. “Chip” Delany.

  • Christopher Brown – “Festival”
  • Chesya Burke – “For Sale: Fantasy Coffin”
  • Roz Clarke – “Haunt-type Experience”
  • Kathryn Cramer – “Characters in the Margins of a Lost Notebook”
  • Vincent Czyz – “Hamlet’s Ghost Sighted in Frontenac, KS”
  • Junot Díaz – “Nilda”
  • Geetanjali Dighe – “The Last Dying Man”
  • Timmel Duchamp – “Real Mothers, a Faggot Uncle, and the Name of the Father: Samuel R. Delany’s Feminist Revisions of the Story of SF”
  • Hal Duncan – “An Idyll in Erewhyna”
  • Fabio Fernandes – “Eleven Stations”
  • Jewelle Gomez – “Be Three”
  • Eileen Gunn, Michael Swanwick and Samuel R. Delany at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area, March 2005
  • Nick Harkaway – “Billy Tumult”
  • Ernest Hogan – “Guerilla Mural of a Siren’s Song”
  • Nalo Hopkinson & Nisi Shawl – “Jamaica Ginger”
  • Walidah Imarisha – “Walking Science Fiction: Samuel Delany and Visionary Fiction”
  • Alex Jennings – “Heart of Brass”
  • Tenea D. Johnson – “Each Star a Sun to Invisible Planets”
  • Ellen Kushner – “Delany Story”
  • Claude Lalumiere – “Empathy Evolving as a Quantum of Eight-Dimensional Perception”
  • Isiah Lavender – “Delany Encounters”
  • devorah major – “Voice Prints”
  • Haralambi Markov – “Holding Hands with Monsters”
  • Anil Menon – “Clarity”
  • Carmelo Rafala – “Song for the Asking”
  • Kit Reed – “Kickenders”
  • Kim Stanley Robinson – “Introduction”
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum – “The First Gate of Logic”
  • Geoff Ryman – “Capitalism in the 22nd Century”
  • Alex Smith – “Clones”
  • Michael Swanwick – “On My First Reading of The Einstein Intersection”
  • Sheree Renee Thomas – “River Clap Your Hands”
  • Kai Ashante Wilson – “Legendaire”

Editor Nisi Shawl is the author of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award-winning collection Filter House. She has edited Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars and co-edited Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler. She’s a co-founder of the Carl Brandon Society and a board member for Clarion West.

Editor Bill Campbell co-edited the groundbreaking anthology, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond.

The project is supported by a $1,500 grant from SF3.

Autumn Angels Reissued

Autumn Angels cover Ron Cobb COMPArthur Byron Cover’s 1976 Nebula nominee Autumn Angels has been republished by Digital Parchment Services.

Read the first chapter free on Cover’s website.

Harlan Ellison drops a few clues about what readers can expect from the book —

It takes the materials of everyday entertainments—pulp heroes, movies, comics, detective stories—and transforms them … into a gestalt that is fresh … the lawyer is modeled after Doc Savage’s sidekick, ‘Ham,’ Brig. Gen. Theodore Marley Brooks; the fat man is Sidney Greenstreet; the gunsel is Elisha Cook, Jr. in The Maltese Falcon; the Big Red Cheese is Captain Marvel; the Insidious Oriental Doctor is Fu Manchu; the Queen of England who calls herself a virgin is Elizabeth I; the ace reporter is Lois Lane; the zany imp from the Fifth Dimension is Mr. Mxyzptlk, and both the imp and Lois are, of course, from the Superman comics; the godlike man with no name is Clint Eastwood in the Sergio Leone-directed spaghetti westerns; the galactic hero with two right arms is Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero; the fuzzy (but boring) little green balls of Sharkosh are Star Trek scenarist David Gerrold’s tribbles; and you can figure out for yourself the true identities or esoteric references for The Ebony Kings, the poet, the shrink, the bems, the other fat man and his witty leg man, and on and on.

The inimitable Ron Cobb created the cover art.

Dysprosium Announces New Workshops Including Writing, Poetry and Chocolate

Dysprosium, the 2015 British National Science Fiction Convention, continues to develop new program offerings. The latest additions to its schedule are:

  • Martin Owton and the T-party will run a writing workshop at Dysprosium which involves detailed critique and comment on a pre-submitted piece of writing in the SF/Fantasy field.
  • There will be a workshop on writing Young Adult fiction in the SF/Fantasy genres. The workshop will focus on one of the aspects of constructing a good Young Adult novel.
  • The new poetry workshop will focus on the creative process itself: unlike the writing workshop, which looks at existing work, the poetry workshop will give participants the chance to create new work during the session.
  • The Chocolate Workshop brings Easter straight into the convention with an expert chocolate tasting event where participants will be trained on how to taste and judge chocolate. Tasting will start with a high-quality milk, working through to a 100% bar from Hotel Chocolat, and the chocolate focus of the workshop will be British-made Chocolate such as Willie’s Cacao, Hotel Chocolat, Duffy’s, and others.
  • “In Space no-one can hear you Rhyme.” In this interactive session (audience participation welcome) lead by BSFA Focus magazine poetry editor Charles Christian, we’ll be looking at how to get started writing poetry – and have fun in the process.
  • “Build an Awesome Robot out of Junk.” Using cardboard boxes, egg boxes, toilet rolls, metal food trays, cereal boxes etc, plus some coloured card, tape, and glue. Build your own ready-to-wear robot.
  • “10 Years of Doctor Who – Her Doctor?” The introduction of Missy opens the possibility for a female Doctor – with Tanith Lee, Herr Döktor and David Wake.
  • “Trailblazers in Science History.” A talk on the women trailblazers in archaeology, geology and palaeontology
  • “Faeries.” The not so nice creatures at the bottom of the Garden, from the Dresden Files and October Daye to Lost Girl – with Guests of Honour Jim Butcher and Seanan McGuire

Dysprosium takes place April 3–6 at the Park Inn Heathrow.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Suzette Haden Elgin (1936-2015)

Elgin_S_LVersatile sf author, poet and linguist Suzette Haden Elgin died January 27. She’d been experiencing health troubles for a long time, and abandoned several newsletters and her blog a few years ago due to the effects of Fronto-Temporol Dementia which, as her husband, George, explained in 2012 — is “a condition that develops more rapidly than Alzheimer’s disease, and does not respond to any form of treatment or medication.”

Elgin began her career as a science fiction writer in the late Sixties. Having remarried after being widowed, Elgin found herself a mother of five and at the same time a graduate student in linguistics at UC San Diego. She began writing sf to pay her tuition.

Andrew Porter recalls, “I pulled her first short story, ‘For the Sake of Grace’, out of the slushpile when I was assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Ed Ferman published it in 1969. It was subsequently widely reprinted and anthologized. She was one of the few authors I discovered who went on to a wide-ranging and productive career.”

Elgin completed her grad school work by writing two dissertations, one on English, the other on Navajo. She was later hired by San Diego State University, where she taught until she retired in 1980.

Elgin’s first novel, The Communipaths, published in 1970 as half of an Ace double, marked the beginning of her Coyote Jones series, followed by Furthest and Star-Anchored, Star-Avenged.

She then wrote the Ozark Trilogy, Twelve Fair Kingdoms, The Grand Jubilee and And Then There’ll Be Fireworks. Coyote Jones also appeared in another book set in that universe, Yonder Comes the Other End of Time.

In the mid-1980s she produced her best-known work, Native Tongue, The Judas Rose and Earthsong – sf novels where women create, word by word, a language of their own called Láadan to help free themselves from men’s domination. (A Láadan grammar and dictionary was published in 1988 by SF3 of Madison, Wisconsin.)

Elgin made another key contribution to the genre by founding the Science Fiction Poetry Association in 1978. For awhile she edited its newsletter, Star*Line. Her poem “Rocky Road to Hoe” won SFPA’s Rhysling Award in 1987. The organization also honored her by creating the Elgin Award in 2013.

Although Elgin admitted other poets disagreed, her essay “About Science Fiction Poetry” defined genre poetry in this way —

It seemed to me that the field of sf poetry badly needed rigor (the quality that makes hard sf hard), so that there’d be a way to stand up and argue for its literary value. People look at Picasso’s abstract paintings and object that their six-year-old child could do that — but Picasso could put a pencil on a sheet of paper and draw a magnificently realistic horse (or anything else you asked him for) as a single line, without ever lifting the pencil from the paper. That’s rigor. Because he could do that if he chose, he could also break all the rules if he chose; that’s fair. I wanted sf poetry first to prove that it could do the thing rigorously; after that, if it wanted to fly off into the never-nevers, it would at least be possible to point to the body of rigorous work and say, “When sf poets choose to, they can write like this; they’ve proved that, and now they have the right to break the rules.” So I assumed “poem” as defined, and proposed that an sf poem was one that had two parts: a science part, and a fiction — narrative — part. Like most grandiose projects, mine didn’t go far; the sf poets shouted me down in short order. But I still think it was, and is, worth a try.

Elgin’s other nonfiction enterprises were considerably more influential. Her Ozark Center for Language Studies was dedicated to reducing violence in the U.S. and getting information about linguistics out to the public. She wrote a remarkable book called The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, whose goal was “To establish an environment in which verbal violence almost never occurs and which — on those rare occasions when it cannot be avoided — it is dealt with efficiently and effectively, with no loss of face on either side.” (I used it in my own work.) She taught four basic principles: “Know that you are under attack. Know what kind of attack you are facing. Know how to make your defense fit the attack. Know how to follow through.” She taught workshops based on the material, and wrote several follow-up books, one of which was a novel, Peacetalk 101.

She was a widely respected professional in multiple fields who will be truly missed.

Inaugural Shortlist for James Herbert Award for Horror Writing

Pan Macmillan has announced the six finalists for the James Herbert Award for Horror Writing, being given for the first time this year.

  • M.R. Carey, The Girl with All the Gifts (Orbit)
  • Nick Cutter, The Troop (Headline)
  • Frances Hardinge, Cuckoo Song (Macmillan)
  • Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney (Tartarus Press)
  • Josh Malerman, Bird Box (Harper Voyager)
  • Kim Newman, An English Ghost Story (Titan Books)

Open to horror novels written in English and published in the U.K., the annual prize celebrates the life and career of author James Herbert, who died in March 2013.

The award is administered by Pan Macmillan, the Serendip Foundation, and the estate of James Herbert. Its panel of judges includes horror writers Ramsey Campbell and Sarah Pinborough, Total Film editor Rosie Fletcher, Arthur C. Clarke Award Director Tom Hunter, scholar Dr. Tony Venezia, and James Herbert’s daughter, marketer Kerry Herbert.

The winner will be named at an award ceremony in March, and its author will receive a specially-designed commemorative statuette and £2000.

[ Via Tor.com.]