Terry Fong, chair of the former Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon bid, has announced the committee is now considering a bid for the 2023 NASFiC. The WSFS rules provide for a North American Science Fiction Convention when the Worldcon is held outside North America. Fong’s press release invites comment:
Given the strong show of support with the at-con vote at DisCon III, and the encouragement we have received from a plethora of fans, the Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon Bid Committee has decided to look into bidding for the first ever Canadian NASFiC in Winnipeg, MB.
Leading this exploratory effort will be Robbie Bourget and Linda Ross-Mansfield.
We welcome all comments on this. Should anyone be so inclined, we have set up an e-mail to receive comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Given the choice, DisCon III would have liked to make only half as much news as it did last year. Between the resignations of two chairs, two Hugo administrators, and the events surrounding the disinvitation of a guest of honor, plus the positive stories about the Hugo Awards finalists and winners, twelve of the 20 most-read posts of 2021 related to the Worldcon.
Entirely unrelated to the Worldcon, the second post on the list, from January 2020, got a new lease on life in June when it was linked by a Vox magazine article about Twitter and Isabel Fall. Then, when Lindsay Ellis linked to the Vox article on Patreon this week, the post received another surge of readers.
Here, then, are last year’s twenty most-read posts according to Google Analytics.
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson – My review of this novel was decidedly mixed and frustrated, and as I wrote there, I found the actual experience of reading it rather challenging. But as I come to close out the year, I can’t help but appreciate this effort, perhaps the first novel to not only address climate change but imagine how we might go about dealing with it, and what will be required to accomplish this. It’s not a perfect novel, but it might be a necessary one.
(2) ATOP MOUNT TO BE VIEWED. Abigail Nussbaum did a separate “Best TV of 2021” post for Lawyers, Guns & Money.
…I take two lessons from the state of the TV medium in 2021. The first is that this was the year that taught us the difference between “expensive” and “good”. So many shows came out the gate this year with stratospheric production values, huge names before and behind the camera, and stunning locations, but still felt as if little or no thought was given to creating coherent, satisfying stories. The Disney+ MCU shows are exhibit A of this phenomenon: five very different shows with unbelievable budgets and star-studded casts, none of which quite managed to stick the landing. But other streamers fell into the same trap. Apple TV+ produced an eight-episode adaptation of The Mosquito Coast that shot in the desert on the US-Mexican border and in picturesque locations in California and Mexico, but apparently no one involved considered that audiences might be put off if the central family didn’t even reach the Mosquito Coast until the season finale. Netflix poured millions upon millions of dollars into comic books adaptations like Sweet Tooth and Jupiter’s Legacy, while seeming to have skimped on the scripts. (To be fair, Jupiter’s Legacy also looked like ass; I really hope there was some serious money-laundering going on because otherwise I just can’t explain it.)
The short answer is that it’s inspired by other giant balls whose function was to indicate time. I say “was”, because the purpose of a “time ball” is now pragmatically obsolete, and almost all of these are gone. But one of the very earliest time balls, atop the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, has been dropped each and every day since 1833. It is raised halfway up its post a few minutes prior, to give notice, and then it is dropped at exactly the stroke of 1 P.M. Bongggg!
(4) CALMING THE DISCOURSE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In an excellent, free Patreon post, Hugo-finalist fan writer Jason Sanford examines the troubling trend of targeted harassment campaigns against creators and pundits within the SFF genre, and asks how we as a community can do better. “Genre Grapevine on SF/F Abuse and Harassment Campaigns”.
…I’ve been on the receiving end of these mass harassment and abuse campaigns. When you’re subjected to harassment and abuse your world compresses to a single, painful point, like a black hole that traps you against your will. Nothing you say or do makes a difference. People can tell you the harassment and abuse is unjustified and that you did nothing wrong. But none of that matters.
Because in the end you are merely a convenient target for people who are deliberately refusing to see you as human….
(5) SAWYER Q&A. Host Mary Ito, previously with the CBC and TVOntario, interviews Robert J. Sawyer for The CRAM Podcast ~ Extraordinary Ideas Unleashed.
We all wonder about our future – post pandemic. And it’s something sci-fi writer Robert Sawyer thinks about a lot. His writing has captivated audiences with explorations of alternate worlds. Hear what one of Canada’s most fascinating big thinkers has to say about OUR world, and the transformation it’s undergoing. His audio series “The Downloaded” about a metaphorical post pandemic world will be available Fall 2022 on Audible. Robert Sawyer’s most recent book is “The Oppenheimer Alternative.”
(6) FREE TAFF BOOK. Ah! Sweet Laney! The Writings of a Great Big Man is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. The reissue of Robert Lichtman’s and Pat Virzis’s compilation of Francis T. Laney’s other fanwriting (i.e. not Ah! Sweet Idiocy!) That will be a very familiar name if you happen to have just read about 1940s LASFS in Bixelstrasse. The collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund.
Though best remembered for his infamous 1948 memoir and polemic Ah! Sweet Idiocy! (also in the TAFF ebook library), Francis Towner Laney also published much other notable work in his own and others’ fanzines. In addition to a generous helping of Laney’s best writing other than Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, it includes a new introduction by Robert Lichtman and memoirs of “FTL” by Robert Bloch, Charles Burbee, Terry Carr and Jack Speer.
This first ebook edition is produced with the kind permission of Robert Lichtman and the welcome support of Pat Virzi, who provided the text in PDF format, now also available at Bill Burns’s eFanzines.com. The PDF download button above gives this 10Mb PDF (with all print layout, artwork, photographs etc) rather than the usual quick-and-dirty conversion from ebook format.
(7) SLF NEEDS GRANT JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation announced on Facebook they need jurors to read applications for the A.C. Bose Grant.
Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work. The honorarium is $25.
Please note: We’d love to have South Asian and South Asian diaspora jurors for the AC Bose Grant, but it’s not a requirement.
Please contact Catherine (email@example.com) for more information.
Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations for the 2021 calendar year are now open. The nomination period will close at 11:59pm on 31st March 2022. The SJV awards recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2021 calendar year. Anyone can make a nomination and it is free!
(9) TANGLED WEBS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Spider-Man blooper reel dropped two days ago. I thought what was most interesting was how much of the Spider-Man: No Way Home sets were real and what was CGI.
(10) BETTY WHITE. Actress Betty White died today, a few weeks short of her hundredth birthday. The New York Times obituary is here: “Betty White, a TV Fixture for Seven Decades, Is Dead at 99”. Although White performed a vast number of roles in her long career, only a few were genre. She was a Woman in Window encountered by the Dynamic Duo in Return to the Batcave (2003). She did voice work in several animated Christmas movies, and also on the Hercules TV series (1999), The Simpsons (as herself, 2007), The Lorax (2012), SpongeBob SquarePants (2016), and as a toy tiger named Bitey White in Toy Story 4.
Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” — and who capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday. She was 99.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1931 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Ninety years ago, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian premiered. The screenplay was by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy Heath. It starred Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart. It was a box office success making on piece three million on a budget of a million dollars. Critics loved it, and March won the award for Best Actor, sharing the award with Wallace Beery for The Champ. It has a most excellent eighty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 31, 1937 — Anthony Hopkins, 84. I think one of his most impressive roles was as Richard in The Lion in Winter but we can’t even call that genre adjacent, can we? Well, we can as it’s alternate history. He was, during that period, also King Claudius in Hamlet. I’ll say playing Ian McCandless in Freejack is his true genre role, and being Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a plum of a genre role. It’s a better role that he as Odin has the MCU film franchise. What else to note? What have I missed that I should note?
Born December 31, 1943 — Ben Kingsley, 78. Speaking of Kipling, he voiced Bagherra in the live action adaptation that Disney did of The Jungle Book. He was also in Iron Man 3 as Trevor Slattery, a casting not well received. He’s The Hood in Thunderbirds (directed by Frakes btw), Charles Hatton in A Sound of Thunder and Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third of three great popcorn films.
Born December 31, 1945 — Connie Willis, 76. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even me! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there. She’s very well stocked at the usual suspects and a number of her works qualify as Meredith moments.
Born December 31, 1949 — Ellen Datlow, 72. Let’s start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which yes, I know it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories from them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor there, something she’s also done at Nightmare Magazine, Omni, the hard copy magazine and online, Sci Fiction webzine and Subterranean Magazine. And yes, she won a number of Hugos for her editing including one this year which she richly deserved.
Born December 31, 1953 — Jane Badler, 68. I first encountered her on the Australian-produced Mission Impossible where she played Shannon Reed for the two seasons of that superb series. She’s apparently best known as Diana, the main antagonist on V, but I never saw any of that series being overseas at the time. She shows up in the classic Fantasy Island, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution.
Born December 31, 1958 — Bebe Neuwirth, 63. Ok she’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four, but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself was ongoing up until the Pandemic started.
Born December 31, 1959 — Val Kilmer, 62. Lead role in Batman Forever where I thought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the not terribly well-conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Nope, not even genre adjacent but I really, really love that film.
(13) JOINING GENRES. Clarion West will be offering a free online discussion – “Fantastic Intersections: Speculative Fiction and Romance” — on January 29, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Pacific. The participants will be Zen Cho, S. A. (Austin) Chant, C. L. Polk, KJ Charles, and L. Penelope, moderated by Rashida J. Smith. Register at the link.
From the sublime and magical to the stirring and steamy, storylines centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ characters are flourishing in the romance and speculative genres. We’ll tackle the nuance of building romance into the plot vs. romance as the plot, the role of the HEA or HFN in representation, and the future of the fantastic in romance.
…The story drove me on, because I wanted to read it all and find out what really happened. There is a central mystery to it – the opening cinematic sets it up beautifully. Why did the Blessed Isles fall? What is the Harrowing? You get some solid answers by the end. It’s like reading a novel while playing it as well. It was an experience I very much enjoyed. In addition to the main story there were the individual tales of each of our six main characters as well as bits of lore featuring dozens of other characters, some related and some not, that you just find as you explore the world….
… Anchoring the success of these films were the layered human performances amid all the green-screen effects. Here are a dozen actors who especially delivered depth within their superhero universes…
4. Margot Robbie (‘The Suicide Squad’)
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in 2021’s “The Suicide Squad.” (Warner Bros./Everett Collection)
Playing the relentlessly resourceful Harley Quinn,Robbie is reliably the most electric presence in DC’s sprawling team-up movies, dropping coy one-liners with as much force as her violent blows. She again steals entire scenes in James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” and with each own-the-screen DC outing, including “Birds of Prey,” she proves that her radiant Harley could carry solo movies in between the “Suicide” squadfests.
(16) WITH SHARP, POINTY TEETH. [Item by Michael Toman.] Have to wonder what, say, Dylan Thomas, (“A Bright Child From Wales!”) would have done with this Late-Breaking Holiday News Update. “Bloodthirsty, ‘Psycho’ Squirrel Attacks 18 in Small Town Christmas Rampage” reports Newsweek. Will there be a movie from some of the Folks at The Asylum, the ones who gifted us with the “Sharknado Franchise?” Or maybe this needs to become an Uncuddly, Unwarm, Unfuzzy Picture Book? “What a world, what a world!”
A Welsh town is being held in the grip of fear by a most unusual source, a grey squirrel that is attacking residents.
Wales Online reported that the serial squirrel has indiscriminately attacked pensioners, pets, and children, jumping at people taking out the garbage, and been chasing after people down streets as they flee.
(17) DIANA GALLAGHER VIDEOS. Fanac.org’s Edie Stern introduces these Eighties recordings of Diana Gallagher singing filksongs.
Diana Gallagher is now known primarily for her science fiction media novels. However, especially early in her fannish career, she also impressed as a filk songwriter/performer, and a fan artist. She received several Pegasus Awards, as well as the 1988 Fan Artist Hugo Award. As her songs often show, Diana was also an avid supporter of the space program. She passed away in December 2021.
This recording was made in our living room in the early 1980s. At that time, she was a member of the local science fiction group, and an avid filker. She was our friend. This recording is excerpted from a longer filk recording, and features her performances of five songs (of which 4 were written by her). Many thanks to our Filk Consultant, Eli Goldberg and to our Sound Editor, Luke Bretscher for their help with this recording.
Here are links to all five videos — 1. Planetbound Lovers (0:05) 2. Following (2:52) 3. Free Fall (5:23) 4. Starsong (7:30) 5. Mary O’Meara (10:12)
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl,” Fandom Games says this Nickleodeon smash compilation is meant for gamers who ask, “Say, what would happen if Garfield fought SpongeBob?” and that Nickelodeon is basically a network for “not so nuanced sex jokes and covering kids in sludge.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
By James Bacon: It’s that time of the year, and Sara Felix, Sarah Gulde, Errick Nunnally, Erin Underwood, Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon have come together to bring you an incredible look at 2021, holiday rituals, food, winter, Christmas stories, cards and much, much more! Season’s Greetings! – Journey Planet – Issue # 61
Starting with a stunning piece of art as a cover by Sara Felix, with a design by Errick Nunally, the 78-page issue came together immediately after DisCon III, the co-editors feeling enthused and invigorated and wanting to share some seasonal celebrations.
With a carol from Shana Worthen, a song by Meg MacDonald, art from Fia Karlsson, Sara Felix, and Linda Miller, there is a wide selection available in this Journey Planet selection box of delights.
Marguerite Smith, vice chair of DisCon III is interviewed, there are articles on The Tomb of Dracula #84—’Twas the Night Before Christmas, Where Eagles Dare, Lucasfilm Christmas Cards, Christmas Ghosts: Past, Present, and Future, Tamales and Tradition, Christmas and SFF as well as recipes for Wild Boar and Cocktails.
The co-editors hope you enjoy this issue, with many more words, well wishes and seasonal greetings from a variety of fans and writers, a cornucopia of good tidings.
Was the year too heavy, deep, and real? Yes, but it was also rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts. Thanks to all of you who contributed!
… Like many fans, I had tried my hand with writing, especially as a teenager. I wrote notes, drew weird aliens, and even wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. But during all this I did noodle, consistently, with several recurring characters and a story line. It shifted and changed, of course, as I matured and different interests came into my life, and eventually they just settled in the back of my mind.
… Once when [Tim] Powers was being interviewed at an SF convention someone asked “Do you actually believe in this stuff?” He said “No. But my characters do.” As Gordon Bennett wrote, and Frank Sinatra sang, “This is all I ask, this is all I need.”
… I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). …
… The mission of SAFF is to keep the factual progress of space exploration out there for our community and to help individual Worldcons and other conventions in dealing with the arrangements and funding of space experts as special guests.
… Another solved mystery was that of the vanishing pancake. A friend of mine, by profession police officer, was standing at his stove, frying pancakes. As we both did with pancakes, we flipped them around in the air. So did my friend on this day.
His mystery was that the pancake never came back down. It vanished. There was no trace of it….
Eli Grober’s “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker humorously changes the beginnings of famous books to suit life as we knew it in the plague year of 2020…. Filers answered the challenge to add to the list. Here is a collection from yesterday’s comments….
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed, being careful to maintain a distance of at least six feet.
… It was the Jeopardy! gameshow display screen one saw all the time on television, in real life, just yards away, here inside the cool Sony studios. Six rows across with the categories, columns of five numbers under each. To the right of the large display was Alex Trebek’s podium, and nearby were the three contestant stations.
There were sixteen of us here, and before the end of the day, all of us but one would have our thirty minutes of fame — or infamy — in this very special place.
… The model took off and rose straight up for maybe 100 feet or so before the second stage kicked in, but then there was trouble. Instead of continuing its upward flight, the thing veered to the right and zoomed away horizontally, slightly descending all the while. It went directly over a house across the street and continued on, neatly bisecting the span between two tall trees behind the house. And then it was gone from sight. I remember that my uncle gave me a quizzical look and asked, “Was it supposed to do that?”…
On the evening of Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, presented authors Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin in livestreamed readings on YouTube. (Neither reader is running for Mayor of New York.)
This is the 16th month of virtual readings, in place of in-person reading at the eponymous bar in the East Village in Manhattan, noted Kressel. New York City may be “open,” added Datlow, but they don’t yet feel comfortable “going into the crowd” at the Bar for at least a few more months….
Is there a science fiction movie character you want to smell like? Forget Swamp Thing, c’mon, he’s not in Fragrance X’s catalog. Otherwise, there’s no end of superhero and genre branded colognes you can buy.
There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”
And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show. Working on Dublin was like that for me as well. I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”
But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say…
… Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”
… I began to wonder whatever became of this marvelous actor and so, before retiring for the evening, I started to research Mr. Persoff’s whereabouts on my computer. As luck would have it, I found him and wrote him a rather hasty letter of personal and lifelong admiration. To my shock and utter astonishment, he responded within five minutes….
Stormm began her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X in August and has done 17 regular and two bonus installments. It swirls together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.
The purpose of this presentation is to place Tolkien’s theory of mythopoeic fiction in dialogue with fantasy series by T. Kingfisher in order to argue that her work is feminist and mythopoeic. While there are a number of elements of Kingfisher’s fiction that are relevant to my purpose, I’ll be focusing on two: her version of Faërie and system of magic, and her portrayal of female characters whose relationships are with failed warrior heroes….
The talk of time capsules and 1000-year M-discs in the Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 discussion of item (16), the Louis XIII Cognac 100-year sci-fi film vault, got me thinking that Worldcon should do Hugos for Best Genre-related Work Created 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 years ago….
… Considered to be a genius by many, not only was Hergé skilled at drawing, he was also good at fascinating his readers with mysteries, and intriguing situations. For example, why was Prof. Calculus going into the heart of a volcano, following the agitated movements of his pendulum, instead of running away, like all the others? Perhaps he was so oblivious to his real surroundings, and was so desperate to find the cause of the wild swinging of his pendulum for the sake of science, that inadvertently, he was willing to risk his very life. Or was he running away from mundane reality? And why did Tintin rush back to save his friend from going deeper in the maze of the mountain? Possibly because that was Tintin’s nature, to rescue not just the innocent people of the world, but it also showed his deep friendship with the absent-minded professor….
…After watching [John Wick: Chapter 3], my friends and I got some drinks at a nearby bar. There, I found myself repeating a single word from the movie: “Consequences.” Wick utters this word whenever one of the characters points out that his past may have finally caught up with him. Since I like to drive jokes into the ground, I began to say “Consequences” in response to everything that night, in a poor imitation of Wick’s scratchy voice. Why did we need to buy another round? “Consequences.” Why should someone else pick up the tab? “Consequences.” And maybe I should call out sick tomorrow? “Consequences.”…
Right after the Fourth of July might not be when I shop for Christmas ornaments, but somebody does, because that’s when Hallmark runs its Keepsake Ornament Premiere.
If the timing is for the convenience of retailers, there is also a certain logic in picking a spot on the calendar that is as far away as you can get from a date associated with Christmas trees. It’s plain some of these ornaments are intended for a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, while others probably are destined never to decorate a tree at all but to remain pristine in their original wrapping on collectors’ shelves….
… I couldn’t help thinking of the passage from The Lord of the Rings, where the Crebain go searching for the Fellowship. In fact, there are many birds as spies in fantasy fiction, such as the Three-Eyed Raven, the, One-eyed Crow, or Varamyr Sixskins warging into an eagle in A Song of Ice and Fire, to mention a few….
The Best Series Hugo category was added to the WSFS Constitution in 2017 with a sunset clause requiring a future re-ratification vote to remain part of the Worldcon Constitution. That vote happens next week at the DisCon III Business Meeting. If you were there, would you vote yes or no on keeping the category?
Then down the long hall there arose so much chat, that I sprang from my chair to see what was that? Through archways, past plant pots, I slipped through the throng as the loud murmuration came strolling along.
… In reality, China is a huge country with a vast population and an expanding middle class; an enormous SF field and well established fandom. Chengdu is an established international convention site as well as a centre for science and technology.
I rather suspect that from the Chengdu bid’s viewpoint, the US-centric history of Worldcon is at odds with the very name of the event and its claim to be the leading global celebration of the genre. I do not need to believe there is anything suspicious about the bid, because it only needs a tiny percentage of Chinese fans to get behind it to make it a success….
Though Tolkien’s novels were very successful in the last century, after the Peter Jackson trilogy in the early 2000s, their reach increased to encompass the globe. Irrespective of geographical or linguistic differences, they spoke to us in different ways. In an informal Discussion Group at Oxonmoot 2021, (held online), participants were welcome to share their thoughts/reactions/ take on various aspects of Tolkien’s works, mainly his Legendarium….
… Based on reading 20% of Team File 770’s assigned books, I found there are actually 12 I’d say yes to – so I am going to need to cut two more before I finalize this list….
The saga of Sheriff Trigger Snowflake, the lovely Coraline, and the shenanigans of the Solarian Poets Society added several chapters this year that were not so much ripped-from-the-headlines as amused by the news.
A few days later, down at the Coffee Emporium, Trigger was having breakfast. A nice cup of Bean of the Day and a grilled synthecheese. As he finished the last bite of the synthecheese, Barbara Dimatis walked up to his table.
“Sheriff Snowflake, may I sit?”
“Why, sure, Ms Dimatis. What troubles you?”
“You’ve heard of Bistro Futuristo? Well, turns out that the editor and owner of Futuristo Magazine has made an announcement.”…
… Needless to say, I have witnessed or participated in a number of remarkable, bizarre and historic incidents during my tenure working at Worldcons. I not only know how the sausage was made, I helped make it as well….
(1) SCALING MOUNT TSUNDOKU. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Book blogger Runalong Womble has shared his TBR Reduction Challenge for 2022 in a fun little blog post that may help those of us whose bedside tables are creaking under the weight of unread tomes. “Your TBR Reduction Book Challenge – Let Me Help You!”
So I usually like to increase your pile of books to be read and yes I admit a warm glow of satisfaction when I hear that you’ve been tempted. But spoilers I am just as liable to a good temptation. Pass a bookshop; sale or good review and magically books soon enter my house or e-reader (the latter a place where many books go to die unread as no one really knows what lives within them). So let your kind womble share their own TBR challenge and I hope this helps you too!
Here’s an example from Womble’s calendar:
March – New Beginnings
5 – For the beginning of Spring I want you to open a book in the TBR pile by an author you’ve never read before
Stretch Goal – March is named after Mars, so genre fans find a book that very likely has a big battle in it be it in space, our world or a secondary world. Non-genre fans look for a book about a conflict be that a dilemma, family feud etc
…Everybody’s favourite gay couple, Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber from Star Trek Discovery became parents last year, when they formed a beautiful little rainbow family with Adira, teenaged genius with a Trill symbiont, and their boyfriend Gray, who’s a disembodied ghost for much of season 3 before finally getting a body in season 4. Through it all, Stamets and Culber have done an excellent job parenting their untraditional family and would certainly be deserving winners. But as I said above, the competition was stiff this year….
It’s for you, the science fiction fan. And by fan, I mean, at any level, any age, any level of fandom, knowledge, and experience. Whether you’ve read a single novel about space travel or thousands, whether you’re a Star Trek fan, a Star Wars Fan, both, or none, it doesn’t matter. Worldcon is a place of acceptance for all fans. There is no gatekeeping, no “true Scotsman”, no required reading or watching. You could walk into your first con with absolutely zero knowledge of anything Sci-Fi and still be welcomed with open arms. Because if you’re there, it means you belong there.
(4) LOOKING AT RERUNS. Olav Rokne notes at the Hugo Book Club Blog, “A small group of us are slowly working our way through all the Hugo-shortlisted Dramatic Presentations year-by-year. Some years have been more of a slog than others, but 1967 had an excellent shortlist, and the contemporaneous fanzines are filled with debate about the movies and shows. Seems like the year that the Best Dramatic Presentation category really came into its own at the Hugos.” “Best Dramatic Presentation Boldly Goes Forward (1967)”.
With the benefit of hindsight, it seems only natural that Star Trek should win a Hugo Award in its first season.
At the time, however, this decision was not without controversy.
The Worldcon chair for 1967, Ted White, published a screed against the show calling its writers patronizing and ill-informed. Hugo-winning fan writer Alexei Panshin opined that Star Trek was filled with cliches and facile plots.
But for every voice criticizing the new show, there were several voicing their support. Big-name authors like Harlan Ellison and A.E. Van Vogt campaigned for the television series to win a Hugo, hoping that the recognition might buy it a second season….
(5) A SLIPPERY SLOPE TO A ROCKY ROAD. In “Pluto should be reclassified as a planet, scientists argue”NBC is picking up a bit of science news that I saw a couple weeks ago but originally left alone because it’s not as much fun saying Pluto should be a planet if it means adding a whole bunch of other rocks I never heard of to the category, too!
A team of scientists wants Pluto classified as a planet again — along with dozens of similar bodies in the solar system and any found around distant stars.
The call goes against a controversial resolution from 2006 by the International Astronomical Union that decided Pluto is only a “dwarf planet” — but the researchers say a rethink will put science back on the right path.
Pluto had been considered the ninth planet since its discovery in 1930, but the IAU — which names astronomical objects — decided in 2006 that a planet must be spherical, orbit the sun and have gravitationally “cleared” its orbit of other objects.
Pluto meets two of those requirements — it’s round and it orbits the sun. But because it shares its orbit with objects called “plutinos” it didn’t qualify under the new definition.
As a result, the IAU resolved the solar system only had eight major planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — and Pluto was relegated from the list.
But a study announced in December from a team of researchers in the journal Icarus now claims the IAU’s definition was based on astrology — a type of folklore, not science — and that it’s harming both scientific research and the popular understanding of the solar system….
Colorado Governor Jared Polis has commuted the sentence of truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos to 10 years with eligibility for parole in five. The 26-year-old was originally given a 110 year sentence for a 2019 crash that killed four people, but had his sentence reduced after public outcry over Colorado’s mandatory sentencing laws….
(7) SIDE BY SIDE. Karlo Yeager Rodríguez and Kurt compare their predictions (Episode 145 – Hugo Predictions Beer Run) against what won. . . as well as one pesky sponsor stealing the show in Podside Picnic Episode #149 “Beauty Of Our Weapons @ WorldCon”.
2003 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighteen years ago, Patricia McKillip won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the World Fantasy Award for Ombria in Shadow. It was also on the long list for the Nebula Award. It had been published the previous year by Ace Books. The jacket illustration is by Kinuko Y. Craft who did almost all of the Ace covers for the author. I reviewed Kinuko Craft‘s Kinuko Craft: Drawings & Paintings over at Green Man which is a most excellent look at her art.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 30, 1865 — Rudyard Kipling. Yes, Kipling. He’s written enough of a genre nature such as the Just So Stories for Little Children stories like “How the Camel Got Hump“ and “The Cat that Walked By Himself“, wonderful stories with a soupçon of the fantastic. Of course there’s always The Jungle Books which run to far more stories than I thought they did. Yes, he was an unapologetic Empire-loving writer who expressed that more than once in way that was sometimes xenophobic but he was a great writer. (Died 1936.)
Born December 30, 1950 — Lewis Shiner, 71. Damn his Deserted Cities of the Heart novel was frelling brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now. He also co-wrote with Bob Wayne the eight-issue Time Masters series starring Rip Hunter which I saw was on the DC Universe app, so I read it and it was fantastic. Nice! Anyone here that’s read the Private Eye Action As You Like It collection of PI stories I see listed on usual suspects with Joe Lansdale? It looks interesting.
Born December 30, 1951 — Avedon Carol, 70. She was the 1983 winner of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund who went to Albacon II in Glasgow. And she was GOH at Wiscon II along with Connie Willis and Samuel R. Delany. She has been nominated for three Hugos as Best Fan Writer. She’s been involved in thirty apas and fanzines according to Fancyclopedia 3. She writes an active blog at Avedon’s Sideshow.
Born December 30, 1957 — Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, begore going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Born December 30, 1958 — Eugie Foster. She was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 for one of the most wonderfully titled novelettes I’ve ever heard of, “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”. It won a Nebula and was nominated for a BSFA as well. I’ve not read it, who here has read it? She was managing editor for Tangent Online and The Fix. She was also a director for Dragon Con and edited their onsite newsletter, the Daily Dragon. (Died 2014.)
Born December 30, 1959 — Douglas A. Anderson, 62. The Annotated Hobbit, for which he won the Mythopoeic Award, is one of my favorite popcorn readings. I’m also fond of his Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction which has a lot of great short fiction it, and I recommend his blog Tolkien and Fantasy as it’s one of the better ones on fantasy literature out there.
Born December 30, 1976 — Rhianna Pratchett, 45. Daughter of Terry who now runs the intellectual property concerns of her late father. She was with Simon Green the writer of The Watch, the Beeb’s Ankh-Morpork City Watch series. She’s a co-director of Narrativia Limited, a production company which holds exclusive multimedia and merchandising rights to her father’s works following his death. They of course helped develop the Good Omens series on Amazon. She herself is a video game writer including the recent Tomb Raider reboot.
Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku, 41. First genre role was Faith in the Buffyverse. Not surprisingly, she’d star in Whedon’s Dollhouse. I think her Tru Calling series was actually conceptualized better and a more interesting role for her. She voices Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in the animated Batman: Year One which is quite well done and definitely worth watching. She done a fair of other voicework, two of which I’ll single out as of note. One is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies. The other role is fascinating — The Lady In Glen Cook’s The Black Company series. Here’s the link to that story: “IM Global Television Developing ‘The Black Company’; Eliza Dushku To Star”.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Lio’s big idea might be shocking at first, but it may grow on you.
…The Zoom party was beamed into the main party via a tablet or laptop, so we could see our fellow finalists in Washington DC and could talk to them. Plenty of people came over to say hello and good luck. Outfits were admired – and honestly, the Hugos have the best range of outfits. It’s like the Oscars, only crazier. After all, we had two of Santa’s elves there, otherwise known as John and Krissy Scalzi. And best of all, you have a lot of people with realistic bodies at the Hugos. The masks made it a bit difficult to recognise people, even if I knew them, though thankfully Sarah was really good at recognising people under their masks. The noise level in the ballroom also made it difficult to talk, so we made signs to hold up saying things like “Good luck!”, “Great dress/suit/outfit” and – this was John Wiswell’s – “I’m rooting for you and only you, I promise.” I enjoyed the whole set-up a lot and hope that future Worldcons adopt this idea, so even finalists who cannot be present in person get a taste of the ceremony….
There are many outlets that cover new releases in science fiction and fantasy. But to my knowledge, only one attempts to review every English language publication in the world (not to mention stuff published beyond the U.S. and U.K.!) We are proud of the coverage we provide.
And this is the time of year when the bounty is tallied. From all the books, magazines, comic strips, movies, tv shows, we separate the wheat from the chaff, and then sift again until only the very best is left.
Sometimes, a good old-fashioned finger wag is enough to put someone in their place — at least it was in a particularly knee-slap worthy match of Dead By Daylight.
Over on Reddit, user Borotroth shared a cute clip of them fending off a killer in the most bizarre way possible: by scolding them via finger-pointing emotes. After a few good pokes, the killer decides to turn tail and run, like a child that’s received a stern talking-to from a parent. Typically, something like this would result in the survivor player getting clotheslined, yet that wasn’t the case. What a power move….
NASA’s massive new space observatory has entered its most perilous phase yet as it begins the careful process of unfurling its delicate sunshield.
The James Webb Space Telescope launched on Saturday (Dec. 25) and will be a revolutionary new observatory focused on studying the universe in infrared light. But first, it has to survive a monthlong trek out to its final post and a carefully choreographed deployment process. On Tuesday (Dec. 28), the spacecraft notched another key step in that deployment as it unfolded the Forward Unitized Pallet Structure (UPS) of its vast sunshield, according to a NASA statement…
…Japanese news organizations NHK and the Mainichi Shimbun were on hand to film the new statue’s head being attached. The statue is being constructed in the center of a shopping center located in Fukuoka, Japan. The Gundam’s head piece was pre-built and had to be lifted in place using a construction crane. As shown in the NHK’s video, just the head alone dwarfs the height of the workers who are putting the massive mecha together.
On our search for alien lifeforms we scan for primitive biosignatures, and wait and hope for their errant signals to happen by the Earth. But that may not be the best way. Any energy-hungry civilization more advanced than our own may leave an indisputable technological mark on the galaxy. And yes, we’re very actively searching for those also. Time to update you on the hunt for galactic empires.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Screen Junkies say you’ll probably get entertainment coal in your stocking if you watch this 2000 film with Jim Carrey as the third of his “menacing green characters who will probably kill you,” after the Riddler and the Mask. “The film’s quite exhausting, like a cake made out of frosting,” the Junkies say, and is so dark that director Ron Howard is trying to be a “ginger Tim Burton.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Olav Rokne, Chris Barkley, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Applications are open for the 2022 Clarion West Workshop for speculative fiction writers. Offered every summer in Seattle, Clarion West has over 600 graduates, including Russell L. Bates (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival), editor Sheree Renée Thomas (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction), Nisi Shawl (multiple award-winning writer and editor based in Seattle), and Cadwell Turnbull (winner of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Award).
Clarion West, as part of its commitment to addressing the barriers that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face in the writing and publishing world, seeks to create a more inclusive, welcoming, and safe space for BIPOC writers in the community. Toward that end, Clarion West offers a number of scholarships to attendees of the Six-Week Summer Workshop. Among them are three offered to BIPOC writers, including a new scholarship offered in 2022 to Latinx/e writers.
The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship: managed by the Carl Brandon Society, the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Award is a full-tuition award given to one student who identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color.
The Blue Corn Creations Scholarship: donated by Blue Corn Creations, this scholarship is a full-tuition award given to writers who identify as Native American/Indigenous writers from the Americas.
The Flores Scholarship *new*: two full-tuition scholarship awards given to students who identify as Latinx/e.
Clarion West offers full and partial tuition scholarships for all writers in need. A full list of Clarion West scholarships is here. For more information about the workshop and to apply, read here.
Workshop Culture and Accessibility. As part of Clarion West’s commitment to an inclusive workshop environment, in 2020 they began updating their critiquing practices. A few of the updates are:
Providing a trained facilitator in every class session who is present to advocate for all participants and help each new instructor get to know their class and their critique goals better;
Providing a variety of critique options for the group to decide what will work best for their unique needs. Every group is different, and we want to recognize this by providing the time and space for each group to develop their own rules;
Allowing greater agency for authors to determine their critique goals and to set their own limits;
Encouraging the use of an author’s letter or introduction to each story, allowing the author’s needs to frame the response; and
Providing time during a critique for authors to respond to comments or pose additional questions of their own.
A New Location. In addition, Clarion West is committed to hosting in-person events in accessible spaces. In 2022, the Six-Week Workshop will move to Highline College in Des Moines, Washington.
This new location features accessible accommodations, with a short walk to the classroom and other coworking and social spaces. Clarion West participants will have access to the student center and cafe. The college is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle and downtown Tacoma.
It’s a quiet day – let’s catch up with the year-end crime fiction awards announcements.
CRIME FICTION LOVER AWARDS 2021
The inaugural Crime Fiction Lover Awards winners have been announced. The shortlists were selected by Crime Fiction Lover readers. One set of winners were chosen by public vote. There is also a set of Editor’s Choice.
Best Crime Novel
The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths
Best Novel Editor’s Choice
Razorblade Tears by SA Cosby
Best Debut Crime Novel of 2021
The Source by Sarah Sultoon
Best Debut Editor’s Choice
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Best Crime Novel in Translation of 2021
The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson, translated by Victoria Cribb
Best Crime Novel in Translation Editor’s Choice
Riccardino by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli
The winner is offered a two-book publishing contract with Joffe Books, on its standard author agreement terms.
SCARLET STILETTO AWARDS
Sisters in Crime Australia have announced the winners of the 2021 Scarlet Stiletto Awards. This year, 241 short stories – equal to last year’s record – competed for a record $11,910 in prize money and benefits.
Swinburne University of Technology First Prize ($1500) and ScriptWorks’s Great Film Idea Award ($500)
Hayley Young for “Monster Hunters”
Simon & Schuster Second Prize ($1000)
Jaclyn Riley-Smith (Margate) for “On the inside”
The Sun Bookshop & Wild Dingo Press Third Prize($600)
Ellen Coates for “The Gospel of Cecily”
Clan Destine Press Cross-Genre Award ($750)
Affirm Press Young Writer’s Award($500) for under 19s
Caitlyn Whitbread for “The Braxton Mystery”
The Melbourne Athenaeum Body-in-the-Library Library Award ($1250)
Clare Fletcher for “Death’s Waiting Room”
The Melbourne Athenaeum Body-in-the-Library Library Runner-Up Award ($750)
Susan Green for “Creativity Now!”
Kerry Greenwood’s Malice Domestic Award ($750)
Jane Lee for “What I Did in Lokdown by Chloe Martin age 9 1/2”
The Every Cloud Production’s History with Mystery Award($750)
Natalie Conyer for “The Séance”
Viliama GrakalicBest Art and Crime Story Award ($750)
Caroline de Costa for “The Fragrance of the Corpse Flower”
Booktopia Publisher Services Best Environmental Mystery Award($750)
Stephanie Holm for “Mystery Off the Jillawong Road”
Writers Victoria’s Crime and Punishment Award for Most Satisfying Retribution
Janet Moore for “Cash Sale”
The HQ Fiction Award for Best Thriller ($500)
Janice Shaw for “Put the Kettle On”
Queensland Chapter of Sisters in Crime’s Liz Navratil Award for the story with the Best Disabled Protagonist ($400)
…This summer, an unexpected candidate in the form of King Randor of Eternia threw his hat or rather his crown in the ring. Now Randor has never been a stellar parents by any means, as chronicled in more than 100 episodes of the original Masters of the Universe cartoon. He not only completely fails to notice that his son Prince Adam is also the superhero He-Man despite the fact that in the original cartoon, He-Man is basically Adam with a tan and his clothes off, but also constantly berates Adam for not being whatever Randor expects from his son….
But this guy does not get the award – in fact, two even worse finalists finished ahead of him. And believe me, this is an extremely entertaining post!
…When Burton found out about his selection as Grand Marshal, he said he was “gobsmacked.” The L.A. resident seemed to have been gravitating toward the role since he was a kid.
This year, the Rose Parade’s theme is “Dream, Believe, Achieve.” The credo strikes a particularly personal chord with Burton.
“[The theme] is almost as if it’s a recipe … for my life. My mother … Erma Jean Christian … I am the man that I am because she was the woman that she was. Education was primarily important to her,” Burton said. “My mother had two careers. First, as a teacher of high school English, and then as a social worker. So the values that she established in our family are all about dreaming your personal dream, whatever that is, and believing that you not only can achieve it but deserve it.”
Dreaming and believing that you deserve that dream, those two steps, said Burton, are necessary for anyone hoping to live out the “Dream, Believe, Achieve” theme….
…Dune in 2021, unchanged in its plot, but imagining an underclass of native people as made up of a smattering of different ethnicities (mostly Brown and Black), embodies what David M. Higgins calls “imperial fantasy” and “alt-victimhood” in his latest book, Reverse Colonization (2021). Higgins describes a genre of reverse colonization narratives in which audiences “who are most often the beneficiaries of empire [are invited] to imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end of imperial conquest,” provoking audiences to “identify as colonized victims.” It’s hardly surprising, then, that white supremacists have long cathected to Frank Herbert’s Dune, and white nationalists — a group that feels threatened by the presence of people of color, and increasingly aggrieved and attacked by liberal pushes to address systemic racism — have eagerly anticipated Villeneuve’s latest adaptation. As Jordan Carroll succinctly sums up: “Fascists love Dune.” Suddenly, the privileged chosen one — the imperialist who is also the Christ figure — becomes the suffering victim deserving of sympathy. In this way, identification with victimhood becomes a seductive imperial fantasy for the most privileged in society, what Higgins terms “alt-victimhood.”…
… In this mode, a revisit of another 1984 film about a similar ecodystopian future can uncover a more radical and historically grounded politics apt for our contemporary moment. Hayao Miyazaki’s early animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) drew inspiration from the fantasy world of Herbert’s Dune and shares uncanny similarities with the Dune film adaptations: where Dune has giant sandworms, Nausicaä has the Ohmu; where Dune has desert, Nausicaä the Sea of Decay; Dune the Harkonnens, Nausicaä the Tolmekians. Instead of yet another imperially appointed master, in Nausicaä, the people are led by a daring princess, one who leads by example and is beloved by her people; one who resists imperial expansionists, but not at the cost of her own people; and most importantly, one who radically chooses nonviolent action against all possible defense of rational violence, and eventually achieves harmony through cooperation and understanding.
Ursula K. Le Guin once said that “[t]o use the world well, to be able to stop wasting it and our time in it, we need to relearn our being in it.” Crucially, Nausicaä imagines a new way of being in the world by radically reframing our relation to it and our understanding of it. Instead of a desert, the inhospitable environment in Nausicaä is known as the Sea of Decay. But far from a dying and deadened milieu, the Sea of Decay is in fact brimming with life….
After the difficulties of 2020 – in which we were all really grateful for the ability to stream and watch at home – 2021 has been an odd blend of lockdown and modified freedom. Scotland Loves Anime (and its regional offshoots) triumphantly brought live audiences back to the cinema. Funimation has managed to have anime screenings in many local cinemas. As for the world of streaming and simulcast, in August we had the official confirmation that Sony’s Funimation Global Group had acquired Crunchyroll. How this will all pan out for viewers/subscribers remains to be seen. Earlier, Manga Entertainment became Funimation UK, bringing an end to a famous label and uniting streaming, home video and cinema releases under the same name.
With all these changes, how has the anime-viewing experience been for the fans? Has there been too much material available on streaming services ranging from Netflix and Amazon Prime to dedicated companies like Crunchyroll and Funimation, leading to a dip in quality? Our writers have been looking back at their favourites from 2021 and are here to share their thoughts. Let us know what your ’21 favourite have been too!
The NYPL Systemwide (the Bronx, Manhattan & Staten Island)
The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist,Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
The Other Black Girl: A Novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Malibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1967 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-four years ago, “The Trouble with Tribbles” first aired on NBC as written by David Gerrold and directed by Joseph Pevney, with some of the guest cast being Charlie Brill as Arne Darvin, Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones, Whit Bissell as Station Manager Lurry, Michael Pataki as Korax.
Memory Alpha says ”Wah Chang designed the original tribbles. Hundreds were sewn together during production, using pieces of extra-long rolls of carpet. Some of them had mechanical toys placed in them so they could walk around.”
Memory Alpha also notes Heinlein had Martian flat cats in The Rolling Stones that were similar to these and Roddenberry called to apologize for these being so similar. My understanding is that they brought the issue to Heinlein’s attention and asked for permission to continue. To their surprise, he granted it in exchange for a signed copy of the episode’s script.
(I know that Heinlein’s authorized biography contradicts this story. Really contradicts this story.)
It would come in second in the Hugo balloting at BayCon to “The City on the Edge of Forever” written by Harlan Ellison. All five final Hugo nominees at BayCon were Trek episodes written by Jerome Bixby, Norman Spinrad and Theodore Sturgeon.
David Gerrold wrote a book on his experiences in the creation of this episode, The Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth, Sale and Final Production of One Episode. He did a children’s book as well, Too Many Tribbles!.
There would be two more Trek stories done with Tribbles. “More Tribbles, More Troubles”, the fifth episode of the first season of the animated series riffed off them. And of course Deep Space Nine would revisit the story in “Trials and Tribble-ations” which blended seamlessly footage from the original episode with new video including the Charlie Brill character. It, too, would be nominated for a Hugo, this time at LoneStarCon 2. (Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams” won.)
Tribbles have been also seen in other Trek episodes and films, including The Search for Spock and the rebooted Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. They also appeared in Enterprise’s “The Breach”. Phlox uses them as food for his creatures in sickbay. Which is either truly disgusting or really appropriate given how prolific they are. Or both.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 29, 1901 — William H. Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. In 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
Born December 29, 1912 — Ward Hawkins. Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming Burning, Sword of Fire, Blaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the digital book realm yet. (Died 1990.)
Born December 29, 1928 — Bernard Cribbins, 93. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the Peter Cushing as The Doctor non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film. He would show up in the canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special.
Born December 29, 1963 — Dave McKean, 58. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him on and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well.
Born December 29, 1966 — Alexandra Kamp, 55. Did you know one of Sax Rohmer’s novels was made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuruwhich Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’s also in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Nielsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Quality films neither will be be mistaken for, each warranting a fifteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
Born December 29, 1969 — Ingrid Torrance, 52. A very busy performer who’s had one- offs in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Sentinel, Viper, First Wave, The Outer Limits, Seven Days, Smallville, Stargate: SG-1, The 4400, Blade: The Series, Fringe, The Tomorrow People, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour and Supernatural.
Born December 29, 1972 — Jude Law, 49. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. with my fave role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy in Repo Men and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro finds an unexpected pocket of resistance to the theory of evolution.
(10) BEST PICS OF 2021. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] From Nature’s end-of-year edition, “Images of the year.”
This one is of a 40-million-year-old gnat in amber. Photographed by Levon Biss and it got an honourable mention in the 2021 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. If it were over a score of million years older, then shades of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park!
My personal topical favourite of the year, which I downloaded in case I ever needed it for a talk, is a computer simulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is also a .gif and an animation. Alas, I forget the source (it was one of the papers we covered in SF2 Concatenation CoVID coverage during the year) but it is quite a nifty simulation showing spike movement. This jiggling helps enable it to lock on to human cell membrane proteins giving it access to the cell. To see it, click here.
(11) OVERDUE BOOK. For your Fifties viewing pleasure: The Man From 1997, an episode of the Conflict anthology TV series aired in 1956. In the episode, Charles Ruggles portrays an elderly time-traveling librarian from the future attempting to retrieve a 1997 almanac that he mistakenly left 41 years before it is supposed to exist. I loved one of the comments somebody left – “Damn he from 1997 and he didn’t even ask them if he can smoke in their house.”
The cast also includes actor James Garner. Wikipedia says he caught producer Roy Huggins’ attention with a comedic performance as a gambler in the episode, Huggins to cast Garner as the lead the following year in his television series Maverick, according to Huggins’ Archive of American Television interview.
The luxurious “commemorative egg objet” was sold to an anonymous U.S. buyer in April shortly after its announcement and before the nine months of painstaking work was begun by Fabergé workmaster Paul Jones and his team of artisans, global sales director Josina von dem Bussche-Kessell told The Hollywood Reporter….
(13) STILL THINKING ABOUT THEM.New York Times opinion columnist Ezra Klein tweeted a list of recommended books from 2021, and several are sff. Thread starts here.
…And Brin has put a lot of work into thinking about how intelligent creatures with completely different mindsets might work together, especially with the undertones of slavery and colonialism which are the foundation of the series. I really enjoyed revisiting it. Where “Blood Music” is “My God! What if…”, Startide Rising is sensawunda reflecting contemporary debates (as always).
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set his verbal phasers on “stun” with a shocking display of Star Trek ignorance at a press conference, falsely identifying his uniform and making a complete hash out of Starfleet’s Prime Directive.
The shameful display occurred during a lengthy press conference at which the mayor covered a variety of topics, including having a safe Halloween.
As State Senator Kevin Parker completed his presentation on highspeed broadband, de Blasio appeared onscreen sporting a blue Starfleet shirt with a science department badge and command insignia, an obvious tribute to Commander S’chn T’gai Spock — or Mr. Spock to humans, and Dr. Spock to confused Boomers….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Method Actor Tutorial” on Screen Rant. Ryan George plays Kurt Truffle, method actor. Truffle knew he would be a method actor because as a kid, he’d object to losing duck duck goose by speaking in goose language, so the other kids couldn’t understand him. Truffle claims that method actors can be jerks on the set and in life because method actors will do what it takes to stay in character.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttwa, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day – no, wait, it’s OGH!]
A California Appeals Court has dismissed as moot Connor Cochran’s last-ditch attempt to overturn a lower court award of damages to Peter S. Beagle because there is no longer any obligation for Cochran to pay it – his debts were discharged in his personal bankruptcy proceeding.
Cochran had been trying to appeal the 2019 judgment by arguing that although the monetary award cannot be enforced, the judgment can still be used to besmirch his name by “appearing to find [him] liable for misconduct parallel to criminal fraud.”
In 2019 a California court awarded Peter S. Beagle $332,000 in damages for his claims against Cochran involving financial elder abuse, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and defamation. Beagle originally sued Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and dissolution of two corporations he co-owned with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. The claims against the corporate entities were not part of the state trial, being subject to the automatic stay of litigation that went into effect when Cochran and his companies filed federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, 2018 (the day before the state trial was originally scheduled to begin.) Only after the U.S. Bankruptcy Court partially lifted the automatic stay could Beagle’s suit against Cochran as an individual be tried.
Even though the judgment against Cochran could no longer be collected, he pursued his appeal of the award as a means of disputing Beagle’s claims of financial elder abuse, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and defamation. The panel of judges reviewed a lot of testimony about those issues, which they recapped in their opinion. However, they didn’t rule on any of those issues, ultimately deciding the action was moot “because Cochran obtained an order of discharge from the bankruptcy court that rendered the judgment void and unenforceable.”