2022 Nommo Awards Shortlist

The African Speculative Fiction Society has released the 2022 shortlist for the Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction.

The African Speculative Fiction Society, composed of professional and semiprofessional African writers, editors, publishers, graphic artists and film makers, was founded in 2016.

The Nommos were presented for the first time in 2017. The awards are named for twins from Dogon cosmology who take a variety of forms, including appearing on land as fish, walking on their tails.

All works are speculative fiction, were published between January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021, and are by Africans as defined by the ASFS and Nommo Awards Guidelines

ASFS members will vote on the shortlist until August 31, and the winners will be announced at an online ceremony sometime this autumn.

NOVEL SHORTLIST

  • THEY MADE US BLOOD AND FURY by Cheryl S. Ntumy (Amazon KDP, 2021)
  • THE GILDED ONES by Namina Forna (Delacorte Press, 2021)
  • SON OF THE STORM by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Orbit US/Orbit UK, 2021)
  • FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN by Tade Thompson (Orbit Books 2021)
  • THE MADHOUSE by T J Benson (Masobe Books 2021)
  • THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD by T. L. Huchu (Tor Books 2021)

NOVELLA SHORTLIST

  • THE FUTURE GOD OF LOVE by Dilman Dila (Luna Press, February 2021)
  • NOT SEEING IS A FLOWER by Erhu Kome (Eraserhead Press, 2021)
  • AN EXPLORATION OF NICHOLE OTIENO’S EARLY FILMOGRAPHY (1232-1246) by Kola Heyward-Rotimi (Strange Horizons September 2021)
  • REMOTE CONTROL by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor/Forge, Tordotcom, 2021)
  • THE ABOMINATION by Nuzo Onoh (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September-October 2021)

SHORT STORY SHORTLIST

GRAPHIC NOVEL SHORTLIST

  • THE iJOURNAL — Awele Emili
  • IYANU: CHILD OF WONDER VOL 2 — Roye Okupe, Godwin Akpan (YouNeek Studios/Dark Horse Comic)

2022 Tomorrow Prize Finalists

The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award: Celebrity Readings & Honors, an in-person event on May 22, will recognize outstanding new works of science fiction written by Los Angeles County high school students, as well as this year’s winning ecology-themed sf story.

The 2022 finalists’ stories will be read by celebrity guests on Sunday, May 22 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Pacific at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA. Register to attend the free event at Eventbrite.

The winners will receive cash prizes. 

  • First, Second, and Third place Tomorrow Prize winners will receive $250, $150, and $100 USD cash prizes.
  • The First place Tomorrow Prize winner will be published in L.A. Parent Magazine

The Green Feather Award is an additional special prize category for an environmentally focused sci-fi story. The winner will receive $250 and online publication by the Nature Nexus Institute.

CELEBRITY GUEST READERS:

  • Rico E. Anderson (The Orville)
  • JB Blanc (Arcane)
  • Shayne Eastin (The Monster Project)
  • Bonnie Gordon (Star Trek Prodigy)
  • Tamara Krinsky (Tomorrow’s World Today)
  • Allison Scagliotti (Stitchers)
  • Marcelo Tubert (Star Trek: Picard)

THE TOMORROW PRIZE FINALISTS:

  • Angel Bran – Hollywood High School (“House on Sand”) 
  • Amy Cervantes – Port of Los Angeles High School (“They’re Coming”)
  • Tais Cortez – Port of Los Angeles High School (“Genetic Slumber”)
  • Madison Kay – John Marshall High School (“Backstitching”)
  • Luna Prieto – John Marshall High School (“The Mechanical Planet”)

THE GREEN FEATHER AWARD WINNERS:

  • Jonathan Kim – Culver City High School (“The Seagulls Save Culver City”)
  • Jennifer Wu – Downtown Magnets High School (“Eden”)

THE TOMORROW PRIZE HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • Nancy Duran-Lopez – Port of Los Angeles High School (“Idiosyncrasy”)
  • Nyn Kim – Port of Los Angeles High School (“Final Breath”)
  • Sloane Corddry – Girls Academic Leadership Academy (“Your Case is Quite Unique”)
  • Christine Wu – Downtown Magnets High School (“Gone”)

FINALIST JUDGES:

  • Bobak Ferdowsi – Spacecraft Engineer
  • Keenan Norris – Sci-Fi Novelist & L.A. History Expert
  • Lilliam Rivera – Award Winning Y.A. Novelist
  • Sherri L. Smith – Award Winning Y.A. Novelist

The event also will feature a musical guest, theremin player, Steven Collins, an actor and guidance and control engineer at NASA/JPL. Steve has degrees in Theater Arts and Physics from UC Santa Cruz and built his first theremin in 2001. A lifetime fan of theater, science, and science fiction, Steve spends his time dancing, doing Shakespeare, flying spacecraft around the solar system and recently did a bit of technical consulting for season 2 of Star Trek Picard.

Guests are encouraged to wear a sci-fi themed outfit or accessory to get into the spirit of the readings!

[Based on a press release.]

2022 Roswell Award Finalists

The Roswell Award and Feminist Futures Award: Celebrity Readings and Honors on May 21 will recognize outstanding new works of science fiction by emerging writers from across the United States and worldwide, including the winner of this year’s feminist themed sci-fi story.

The free virtual event starts 11:00 a.m. Pacific; Registration required. Use the Zoom Registration link: bit.ly/reg-roswell-ffa-2022

The program will feature dramatic readings by celebrity guests Following the readings, the authors will be honored for their writing.

  • First, Second, and Third place Roswell Award winners will receive $500, $250, and $100 cash prizes.
  • The First Place Roswell Award winner will receive a UCLA Extension Writers’ Program sponsored 11-week or shorter online course.

ROSWELL FINALISTS

  • “Beauty is the Beast” by Ven Pillay
  • “Dr. Harriet Hartfeld’s Home for Aging AIs” by Paul Martz
  • “Astronomology: or How Elon Musk killed Neil deGrasse Tyson” by Ed Marsh
  • “Heart to Heart” by Susan Wachowski
  • “Tyrannosaurus Mechs” by Gregory Norris

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • “Falling Giants” by Camilla Linde
  • “The Seventh Day is for Resting” by Florencia Hain
  • “Bob’s Your Uncle” by Larry Herbst
  • “Meat Ships Are the Worst” by Addison Marsh

THE 2022 ROSWELL AWARD Finalist Judges

  • SB Divya
  • Nicholas Meyers
  • Danielle Costa
  • Clifford Johnson

2022 FEMINIST FUTURES AWARD

  • “Salt Water,” by Jane Smith

The Feminist Futures Award is an additional special prize category for a feminist themed sci-fi story. The winning story will be published by co-presenter Artemis Journal.

FEMINIST FUTURES HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • “Maximum Potential Skill Level” by Didrik Dyrdal
  • “Chrysanthemums are made to bloom” by Emma Uren
  • “The Part of Paradise where our Anger comes from.” by Yuwinn Kraukamp

Pixel Scroll 5/16/22 I’ve Scrolled Pixels You People Wouldn’t Believe

(1) DISCON III SOUVENIR BOOK NOW AVAILABLE IN CHINESE. The 2021 Worldcon committee has had the Souvenir Book translated into Chinese.

It is digitally available in either English or Chinese on their website to anyone who wishes a copy. The English edition is here. The Chinese copy is here.

(2) STOKERCON PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow has shared her Flickr album of photos taken at Stokercon 2022 Denver. No captions yet, however.

(3) MORE HUGO FINALIST SAMPLERS. Alasdair Stuart has anticipated the Hugo Voter Packet by making available his selections from 2021’s The Full Lid, a Best Fanzine finalist, as either a PDF or a zip file containing PDF, mobi, and epub formats. He adds, “With many thanks to Nick Eden for the assembly!”

You can also find voter materials for two Best Semiprozine finalists, Escape Pod as well as PodCastle, at their sites.

(4) SPACE HOSPITALITY. In “Hugo Novel 2022: The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers”, Camestros Felapton reacts to another finalist.

…The story very much fits the expectations of a Chambers novel. The stakes are galactically-low and focused on the personal. There is conflict but it is either resolved or accommodated by people finding ways to get along. If anything, the focus on this aspect is greater than in previous stories and oddly, I found it better for that. It is a novel that is far more confident in staying within this personal space that is nonetheless shaped by political and cultural events….

(5) CODE NAME: DUDLEY. James Davis Nicoll begins “Five SF Works About Fighting Crime in Space” by explaining a bit of Canadian news to Tor.com readers, what might hypothetically follow, then names some books that might provide models:

…Presumably some sort of jet-pack-wearing analog of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be along to enforce this. Its officers might well wonder “how would a space-based police force work? How does one even set fire to a barn in space?” Happily, while a space patrol may be new to Canada, SF authors have already explored how such an organization might operate, as these five vintage works prove.

Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein (1948)

While hardly the first space patrol novel, Heinlein’s coming-of-age tale may be one of the best known. Space Cadet follows the education and early career of would-be Interplanetary Patrolman Matt Dodson, from his enrollment to his first major assignment on Venus. Along the way, he is transformed from a naïve teen into a responsible young man.

While the Patrol reserves the option to simply nuke problems from orbit, it prefers more subtle approaches. The Venus affair is a case in point. In the 19th or 20th century, a dispute between natives and traders might have been resolved through violent retribution against the natives. The Patrol, with its more ethical and enlightened outlook, does its best to respect the Venusians and deliver actual justice. Hard news for the trader in question, who is very much in the wrong.…

(6) THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. Amazon dropped this trailer for season 3 of The Boys today.

(7) A QECHJEM’A’ GROWS IN BROOKLYN. “Star Trek’s Klingon Helps NYC Teachers Understand Student Struggles Learning English” reports NBC New York.

Teachers at a Brooklyn school are finding inspiration from an unlikely source: Star Trek.

They’re boldly going where no educators have gone before (probably), learning “Klingon” as a way to connect to students in their classroom — as the fictional language invented for aliens serves as a reminder of everyone’s humanity.

Teachers at Saint Mark Catholic Academy in Sheepshead Bay are hoping that changing their language will help change their way of thinking. They are learning a language that until fairly recently was all Greek to them.

“Unless you’re a real Star Trek fan, you’re not well versed in Klingon,” said principal Mark Wilson.

It’s spoken by the fictional Klingon warriors on Star Trek. But learning this foreign fictional language is helping the teachers better understand real students learning English as a second language.

Over the last few years the school has seen an influx of eastern European students — children who don’t speak English at home. That includes Denys Shorodok, who came from Ukraine and for whom English is a third language.

“The teachers were coming to me (saying) I want to help my students but I don’t know how, and I wanted to help my teachers and I didn’t know how. So That’s when I reached out to ACES,” said Wilson.

… “One of the key parts of empathy is to think about what would it feel like for you if you were in the same situation,” said Rania El-Badry, the assistant director of the program.

“They now are familiar with the psychology and emotions of students in the classroom,” says program director Erica David, “and that’s something that will influence the way that they teach going forward.”…

(8) REVOVLVERS.  Dwayne Day discusses his five favorite moons in “All the myriad worlds” at The Space Review.

The other day I was having dinner with a prominent planetary scientist when I mentioned that I had a list of my five favorite moons. You do? He asked, surprised. Sure. Don’t you? He studies Venus, and Venus, like Vulcan, has no moon, so he didn’t have his own list of favorite moons but asked me to name mine. As I explained, most of my choices are not based strictly on scientific merit, but on the stories they tell—and the history of how we have discovered, studied, and explored them. Here they are, and why they’re on my list.

First up – Triton.

…Triton is one of Neptune’s moons, the largest, and it is an oddball. It circles the planet backwards, retrograde, in the opposite direction of Neptune’s other moons. This indicates that it did not form with them, and was likely captured when it wandered in from the Kuiper Belt. Triton was discovered shortly after the discovery of Neptune in 1846. Triton is cold, with estimated temperatures of 38 K (−235 °C). That, and its origins, combine to make it very interesting, and intriguing….

(9) KARL LEMBKE (1960-2022). Long-time LASFSian Karl Lembke died May 15 after a three-year battle with cancer. Karl was first elected Chair of the Board of Directors in 2002 (which I know because I took the minutes of the meeting!) and served continuously for 20 years.  

He joined LASFS in September 1985. He received the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the club in 2010. His financial donations to the club were acknowledged by making him a Patron Saint of the 38th meeting of the year. At times he also served as Scribe of the Thursday night meetings.

Past LASFS President Eylat Poliner adds, “Karl was a gentle soul. He was a devoted and loved member of the LASFS. He ran hospitality for Loscon for many years. He loved to play mahjong. He liked to cook/bake and was loyal to his family, He loved science fiction. He brewed mead and beer. He loved his co-workers and boss.”

As a conrunner, Karl often worked the green room or staff lounge at Loscon, Gallifrey, and even Corflu the last time it was in LA. He chaired Loscon 32 in 2005.

Heinlein would have been impressed to know that in Karl’s lifetime he made 997 apheresis (plasma and platelet) donations to the Red Cross.

Karl identified himself with the Sad Puppies – even reblogging installments of Chris Chan’s 2017 article series this year when it was reposted by John C. Wright. His Twitter @KarlLembke actively reflected comparable political interests. 

Karl Lembke in 2004.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2013 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just nine years ago, the sequel to rebooted Star Trek came out, Star Trek Into The Darkness. The twelfth film in the Trek franchise (really it was), it would be Leonard Nimoy‘s last film appearance before his death two years later. The Trek cast from the first film were back and the guest cast of Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, and Peter Weller would be here as well.

Naturally it was directed by J.J. Abrams off a script written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman  and Damon Lindelof. Abrams and Orci created Fringe, Kurtzman wrote the first film in this series plus he directed and co-wrote The Mummy which I essayed here not long ago, and Lindelof is one of the prime movers behind Lost.

In case someone here has managed not to see it yet, I’m not going to discuss it. See NO SPOILERS. 

It was costly. Best estimates say it was close to two hundred million by the time they were all done but it made nearly a half billion according to industry sources. That said, calculating in all of the expenses, Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film made a profit of only thirty million. Oh ouch.

So what did critics think of it at the time? Well most liked it though some I will admit detested it with all their hearts. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said: “Spoilers would cause me more trouble than an army of Klingons. One hint: If you rewatch any Star Trek movie before seeing this one, make it 1982’s iconic The Wrath of Khan. Kudos to Abrams for going bigger without going stupid. His set pieces, from an erupting volcano to the hell unleashed over London and Frisco Bay, are doozies. So’s the movie. It’s crazy good.” 

And SF Crownest said: “Snappy dialogue, spry action sequences, vibrant special effects, solid characterizations and galaxy-induced intrigue paints ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ as one the first summertime hits of 2013 to register its big box office promise with genuine thrills at a time where aimless sequels usually spell redundancy and disaster. Alas, it is quite acceptable to feel around in the ‘Darkness’ for Abrams’s stimulating spectacle that beams up some sharp and boisterous fun-filled momentum as routinely as it does an exasperated Scotty looking to return on board the ship.”

Christopher Orr of The Atlantic has an interesting point in his review I think and so we’ll leave our review notes with it: “For all its chasing and falling and fighting–and the movie supplies a great deal of each–Star Trek Into Darkness is at its best when the Enterprise crew are merely bickering and bantering among themselves: less space opera than soap opera.”

It currently has a most excellent ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 16, 1918 Barry Atwater. Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode where several reliable sources say he had serious trouble making Vulcan hand gesture. He did a lot of other genre work from Night Stalker where he played the vampire Janos Skorzeny to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaNight Gallery, The Wild Wild West and The Outer Limits. (Died 1978.)
  • Born May 16, 1937 Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green-skinned Orion slave girl Marta on “Whom Gods Destroy” on Trek. She also one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild West, Voyage to The Bottom of the SeaThe Ghost & Mrs. MuirLand of the GiantsFantasy Island and Holmes and Yo-Yo. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 16, 1950 Bruce Coville, 72. He’s won three Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction. He won first for his My Teacher Glows in the Dark, the second for his I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and the third for producing an audio adaptation of Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones. And NESFA also presented him with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. He was twice nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. 
  • Born May 16, 1953 Pierce Brosnan, 69. Louis XIV in The Moon and the Sun adaptation of Vonda McIntyre’s novel, shot in 2014 then not released til this year. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of such films. Seriously, what do you remember about his Bond films? Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man, and he was lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonan in Bag of Bones.
  • Born May 16, 1955 Debra Winger, 67. Not I grant you an extensive genre resume but interesting one nonetheless. Her first genre appearance is in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in uncredited turn as, and I kid you, a Halloween Zombie Nurse with a poodle. Really I’m not kidding. And she appeared in three episodes of the Seventies Wonder Woman as Drusilla / Wonder Girl. If you want to stretch it, she was Rebecca in The Red Tent film.
  • Born May 16, 1968 Stephen Mangan, 54. Voiced Bigwig, Silverweed and Shale in the 1999 Watership Down series, Green Javelins in the Hyperdrive SF comedy series, and Dirk Gently in that series after the pilot. Last year, he was the lead in A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. 
  • Born May 16, 1969 David Boreanaz, 53. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy? And the perfect episode was I think “Smile Time” when Angel gets turned into a puppet. It even spawned its own rather great toy line. He’s currently Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason Hayes on SEAL Team which has migrated to Paramount + which means that the adult language barrier has been shattered so it’s quite amusing to hear a very foul mouthed Boreanaz. 
  • Born May 16, 1977 Lynn Collins, 45. She was an excellent Dejah Thoris in the much underrated John Carter. Her first genre role was Assistant D.A. Jessica Manning on the very short lived horror UPN drama Hauntings, and she showed up in True Blood as Dawn Green. She survived longer on The Walking Dead as Leah Shaw.  Back to films, she was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine as Kayla Silverfox, Rim of The World as Major Collins and Blood Creek as Barb. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) GEORGE PÉREZ APPRECIATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt has an appreciation for George Pérez.  He notes that Perez was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and was proud of creating with Bill Mantlo the first Puerto Rican superhero, the White Tiger, whose first appearance was in The Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #19 in 1975. “George Pérez was the master of the big comic-book moment”.

… And on the page, the storytelling power of Pérez’s pencils was fueled by the undeniable joy that came through in every panelhe ever illustrated. To flip through the pages of his decades of work with Marvel and DC Comics as well as independent projects was to know this man was born to draw superheroes.

As comics changed over the years, his art style remained classic — subtle and sophisticated. He never bowed to the pressure to draw oversexualized heroines in suggestive positions or heroes who looked as if they took superhero performance enhancers, which were the norms for many publishers in the very extreme 1990s….

(14) A MASTER’S VOICE. Frank Frazetta was an Illustrators of the Future Contest judge from its inception until he passed away in 2010. The contest recently made available a short video featuring him: “Advice from a Master: Frank Frazetta”.

(15) IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT HERE. The New Yorker’s critic Richard Brody scoffs, “’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Is a Formulaic Corporate Slog”.

The first “Doctor Strange” film introduced an idiosyncratic character by means of an apt cinematic peculiarity, but its sequel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” squeezes the character into the Marvel franchise by trimming away all the whimsy. The strength of the first “Doctor Strange” is the embrace of its protagonist’s weirdness, which enshrines him among the franchise’s fictional personalities. The sequel is conservative: the weirdness is reined in, and the narrative’s symbolic loose ends are replaced by chains that bind it to other characters and story lines from the Marvel stable.….

(16) AUNTIE EM! AUNTIE EM! The Smithonian’s video series STEM in 30 tracks “The Science of the Wizard of Oz”.

How can monkeys, houses, and witches fly?

L.Frank Baum’s book “”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”” was first published in 1900 and was a hit from the get-go. While the story was first adapted for Broadway in 1903 and for film in 1910, it is probably the 1939 film starring Judy Garland that most people think of when one mentions The Wizard of Oz. In this episode we’ll explore some of the more fanciful parts of the story and dive deep into tornadoes, flying witches, hot air balloons and – what about those flying monkeys?

(17) OLD SPARKY. HuffPost Entertainment tells how “John Oliver Killed By ‘Murderous Hell-Demon’ In Surprise Show-Stopper”.

…Oliver said he’d normally bring out a mascot to show how “terrible and horrifying” utilities are.

But he didn’t have to in this case.

“They already made a murderous hell-demon almost 100 years ago,” he said, referring to an extremely creepy long-ago mascot for power companies called Reddy Kilowatt.

He regretted it almost instantly.

“I could kill you right now and there’s nothing anyone could do about it,” Reddy Kilowatt declared.

Then, he did exactly that….

(18) UPON A STAR. Tella is an animated film, directed by Zachary Conlu, about a little girl and her unusual new pet.

A lost girl gets a surprise visit from a fallen star that seems to give no notice of her…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Eddie Izzard sketch of what happened when Darth Vader showed up in the Death Star cafeteria may have 28 million views, but it’s never appeared in File 770! (From 2008.)

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

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #65

Dark Corners and Illumination

By Chris M. Barkley:

“Let me reiterate: Racism is a system. As such, it is fueled as much by chance as by hostile intentions and equally the best intentions as well. It is whatever systematically acclimates people, of all colors, to become comfortable with the isolation and segregation of the races, on a visual, social, or economic level—which in turn supports and is supported by socio-economic discrimination.”

From The New York Review of Science Fiction: “Racism and Science Fiction” by Samuel R. Delany, August 1998. (https://www.nyrsf.com/racism-and-science-fiction-.html)

Professor Henry Jones: Elsa never really believed in the grail. She thought she’d found a prize.

Indiana Jones: And what did you find, Dad?

Professor Henry Jones: Me? Illumination.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, written by Jeffery David Boam, 1989.

When I was growing up, children like myself were taught, no, more like indoctrinated, to think the United States was the BEST place to grow up, that our country was ALWAYS in the right and that our institutions were, for the most part, unassailable and impervious to criticism from anyone, especially foreigners.

I grew up in Ohio in the 1960’s and despite what I was being taught in a parochial Catholic grade school (at great expense, I might add, by my hard-working parents), certain things I was experiencing did not add up. News of the violence and casualties during the Vietnam War was inescapable. I remember watching the evening network news broadcasts and being horrified by the number of people (on all sides of the conflict) being wounded or killed on a daily basis.

As the years went on, it became harder to reconcile all of the violence, terrorism, public assassinations and the racism I was experiencing with the education I was receiving. The Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-ins coincided with my high school years and the beginnings of my political awakening.

When I look back on those formative days of my life, I see myself as a small child, set out upon a sea of prejudice and whiteness, in a boat of hetero-normaltity, destination unknown.

You should also keep in mind in this era of American history, the civil rights movement was supplementing the struggle for basic human rights alongside a growing emphasis on the pride of being Black and uncovering the suppressed history of women, other various minorities and oppressed peoples.

Needless to say, there was very little representation of minorities (of ANY kind) on television and the movies then, but when there was, our household paid attention. Bill Cosby as an undercover intelligence agent on I Spy. Diahanne Carroll was a compassionate nurse, Julia. Genius engineer Greg Morris on Mission: Impossible. Gail Fisher as Joe Mannix’s hip assistant. Eartha Kitt as Catwoman on Batman. Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek. And Sidney Poitier in, well, anything.

With that small awakening within me, came the realization that the institutions that I was taught to revere without question had glaring flaws, if not dark corners. Outright villany in their ranks. The United States military and industrial complex. Politicians on both sides of the aisle. Walt Disney. Harvard University. Police departments, everywhere. Kelloggs and General Mills. Major League Baseball and National Football League. Oil and gas companies. Automobile manufacturers.

And, as I gradually found out, in sf fandom’s past as well. (More on this later in the column.)

It was with this mindset that I formally entered sf fandom in June of 1976. It was as though my metaphorical had landed on an undiscovered land of opportunity and discovery.

Bright eyed, bushy tailed and somewhat politically aware, I plunged right into Midwestcon 27 with gusto. Besides the friend I came with, Michaele, we knew no one there. Fortunately, the Cincinnati Fantasy Group welcomed us both with open arms.

I will note that although almost all of the members of the CFG at that time were white, there was one other member at that time who was probably the first person of color to join the group, the late Frank Johnson.

Frank, who passed away in March of 2019 at the age of 65, was a good friend over the years, had first attended Midwestcon in 1968 along with a good friend of his, Joel Zakem, who both became full fledged members of the CFG a year later. I knew him and I was grateful to know him as well.

Then, and now, the members of the CFG have treated me with respect. I have truly felt that from the beginning, they have treated me as their peer and an equal. Any animosity or disagreements I may have had with any of them, I felt as though racial animus was never a factor in those matters.

In fact, during the first two decades that I attended literary sf conventions, I felt as though I was completely safe. In addition, I also thought I was positively egalitarian among my peers and I believe they felt the same way about me. Any problems I had at conventions in that era, which I have chronicled here in the past, were from people outside fandom who openly questioned or doubted I should be in such spaces. But I may have been wrong.

During those early days in fandom, I was either an attendee, a panelist or in the lower chain of command of volunteering at conventions.

As I rose through the ranks of conrunning, I was still seen and sought after for assignments and advice. However, as I became more politically engaged through my twenty years of activism at the WSFS Business Meetings, I became gradually aware that some people were not entirely happy with the changes I was trying to implement through changing the Hugo Awards.  One of the main reasons I was trying to push through those changes was because it was becoming readily apparent to me that there was a schism between younger fans who favored media based conventions and older fans who celebrated films but preferred author-driven conventions.

The seeds of this separation were sown from the growing ascension of Star Trek conventions in the mid-1970’s and the explosive (and surprising) success of Star Wars, whose debut irreparably blew the doors off both fandom and the media landscape as well.

The catalyst for this column began with the pointed meme by Andrew Trembley (at the top of the column) on April 18 and this post on the JOF Facebook page on the very same day:

“Question for the group.  Why do we as a group (science fiction conventions) do such a poor job of getting BIPOC?  From what I can see we get less than 5%.  But you go to a comicon and there are hundreds, go to a SF convention maybe 10 or 20?”

THIS is not a new problem for fandom. POC and other marginalized groups have been asked this question over and over for several decades now, and usually by well meaning white or privileged fans, who demand BIPOC fans come up with the answers to a problem they systematically keep perpetuating.

I subsequently read EVERY single response to the query and at some points, it got very ugly. There are some people in fandom who are still under the false impression that fans outside of their sphere are uninformed, ignorant or just plain undesirable to associate with. These sorts of comments weren’t new to me, I had encountered them more than twenty years ago through emails and early internet bulletin boards.

Then, on April 22, while doing research about addressing that very question, Kat Tanaka Okopnik re-posted this blog post on JOF from 2021 on two days earlier: “Jim Crow, Science Fiction, and WorldCon” by Bobby Derie at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Wherein I became reacquainted with some not so very flattering history of Cincinnati Fandom:

[Gene Deweese had] been corresponding with a girl, Bev Clark, in northern Indiana, and wanted me to go with him to meet her, which suited me fine; I was finally finding girls I could talk to. Gene arranged things and we went up. It was the first time I’d met a black (or African-American, if you prefer) person socially. We got along fine, and later on we’d arranged that the three of us would drive to Midwestcon, again in my car; that car got a lot of use that summer; Juanita and her friend Lee Tremper would meet us there, and we’d have fun. We arrived at Beatley’s Hotel (or Beastley’s-on-the-Bayou, which was one of the fannish descriptions at the time) but Bev was refused admittance. No blacks allowed. None of us had even considered the possibility. On the way out, we talked to a few fans sitting on the hotel porch and some anger was expressed, especially by Harlan Ellison, who said that all fandom would hear about this outrage. We drove home, and as far as I know, nobody ever mentioned the episode again. Except me, of course.

—Buck Coulson, “Midwest Memories” in Mimosa #13 [PDF] (1993), 36

That was in 1953; Coulson added that later that year Bev attended the 1953 WorldCon in Philadelphia with them and there were “no room problems.”

When my friend Michaele and I attended Midwestcon 27 twenty-three years after this infamous incident in June of 1976, we were both blissfully unaware that the convention had been embroiled in such discriminatory acts towards people of color in the 1950’s. Why would we? We had just stumbled on to one of the greatest continuing parties of our lives, that’s why. We had entered fandom at a time when the elder members of the Cincinnati Fantasy group were exiting or dying off and a new generation were just joining.

In light of all of this history, I must give pause to think and question what actually happened during my 46 years of fandom.

Was the opposition to my activism regarding the Hugo Awards treated as altruism  (as I saw it on my part) OR, were people opposing me because of my “outsider-other” status, or was it more plainly, but hidden, racial prejudice against me? At the moment, I don’t know. And frankly, I am very comfortable with my actions and how I conducted myself while I was a fan activist between 1999 to 2019 to leave that judgment to historians and literary critics.

I should also say that out of this cauldron of frustration and angst came some actual illumination.

On April 19, Kris ‘Nchanter’ Snyder (pronouns they/them), a veteran con runner of many years and person of color, laid out a formative set of guidelines they have developed over the years on the JOF (Journeymen of Fandom) Facebook page. (Quoted with permission) To wit:

So you want more Fans of Color at your convention?  I’ll repeat (some of) the advice we’ve been giving you. In order:

1) Listen to what non-white fans are telling you and stop arguing with us that it can’t be that bad. We’re not actually telling you everything.  This means doing research by using Google to read blogs and things.  Don’t engage, just read. If this is exhausting or makes you uncomfortable, I promise it’s 10x more so for those of us who live it.

2) Deplatform your bigots, and anyone who thinks bigots deserve a seat at your table. Anyone who refuses to put in work to root out bigotry, who complains about attending sensitivity training (unless they are a member of imperiled marginalized groups, but like, even then) is a PROBLEM and needs to not be on panels, and not be on staff.

3) Pay for sensitivity training for your staff.  Yes, pay.  You want someone good, and preference should go to trainers who are not-white.  It’s just as important as making sure there is first aid training or people are serve-safe certified. 

4) Make sure your code of conduct covers racial harassment, have a clear reporting and follow up process, have members of that team go through extra training, and then do all the hard follow up work.  It’s 2022. Have an anti-racism statement that you make sure your staff is following and refers back to when setting goals.

5) Create safer spaces at your convention.  This acknowledges that you know there are problems, and you are committed to doing work to address them. 

6) Spend money on accessibility services. (You should have been doing this already, but I’m adding it in here.  And god help anyone who asks why this is in here when we’re talking about racial inclusion).

7) Set up and spend money on an inclusion fund to help people who need financial assistance get to the convention.  If you have this, and advertise that it takes donations, people will donate to it, and fans of color who don’t need the services are more likely to come to your convention because it is a sign that you care. 

8.) Commit to doing this for 5 years before you come back and whine that it’s not working.

And though you’d think that post would have been a definitive endpoint to the discussion, people rambled on. As the weeks progressed, it seemed as though there would be no end to this roundabout discussion among the participants.

To accentuate my position, I took it upon myself to post another excerpt from Samuel Delany’s racism essay across Facebook, including a group I am an active member of, Science Fiction For All. Unfortunately, I inadvertently posted the quote twice. The first post was received very favorably by the few members who bothered to comment. The duplicate however, attracted some very unwanted attention…

I wasn’t expecting any comments at all. And if I had known there was a duplicate post at the time, I would have readily deleted it. Instead, I was “gifted” with the presence of one Michael Jones, who proceeded to tell me, in great detail, that my post was extremely problematic:

As some of you may have suspected, the laughing emoji was supplied by Mr. Jones as a parting shot. Sometime between our encounter online, he left as a member of the Science Fiction For All Facebook page. (Whether he was pushed by the admins or jumped on his own is unknown.)  I think I can safely say that he will definitely not be missed by me (or a great many of the current members).

I speculate freely that Mr. Jones is a part of the fannish community that was brought by his parents (and peers) to believe that people matter MORE than their racial ethnicity or national origin. Which is fine, except that as history has shown that setting aside those factors misses the point that continually ignoring people’s cultures, colonization, subjugation and oppression, really DO matter.

In the end, we all must realize that in addition to our personal experiences, we also bring our own sets of biases and prejudices as well. The first step in dealing with some of the more pressing issues in the various factions of fandom today is coming to the realization that these problems exist and that we should be very aware of our own personal shortcomings, or at least be willing to listen and accept constructive criticism when we are confronted with them.

I, and many others have called science fiction (and by inference, fantasy as well) the literature of change. And by change I mean shifts in perspective, either by historical, societal or technological means.

There have been times when I have marveled with dismay that the people who love and admire this branch of literature, can also be the most obstinate, stubborn and hidebound when it is plainly evident that a change in thinking or policy would be a great benefit to fandom.

On the whole, these changes, whether it is for either individuals or our society, is hard but inevitable.

How fandom ultimately deals with it will define us all, for better or for worse.

Let’s emerge from the dark corners. Let’s choose illumination.

There is no ‘them’ and ‘us.’ There is only us.

– Greg Boyle

This column is dedicated to the memory of Frank Johnson, sff fan, global traveler. collector, and a masterful lover of music, art and life itself. (Friends Pay Tribute To WGUC Announcer Frank Johnson | WVXU)

Frank Johnson

2022 Seiun Award Nominees

Art from F-CON, the 2022 Japanese Science Ficton Convention

The 2022 Seiun Award nominees were revealed on May 15. The announcement of the winners and the award ceremony will be held at the 59th Japan Science Fiction Convention (F-CON) to be held in Fukushima Prefecture from August 27-28, 2022.

Thanks to N. for the translation. All titles are in English, with Romanji in the Long Work and Short Story categories. English titles, in the event of no existing English title, are translated.

BEST JAPANESE LONG WORK

  • A Situation Beyond Statistics (Toukeigai Jitai), by Yuri Shibamura (Hayakawa Bunko JA, 2/17)
  • Space Battleship Yamato: Dawn Chapter, Aquarius Algorithm (Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Reimei-hen Aquarius Algorithm), by Yuya Takashima (Kadokawa, 9/27)
  • What Will You Be Doing at the End? Can I See You Just One More Time? (Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Mō Ichido dake, Aemasu ka?) by Akira Kareno (Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko, 7/30, 11 volumes)
  • The Youngest Princess in Blue (Aoi no Suehime), by Mitsuhiro Monden (Sōgen Suiri Bunko, 9/24)
  • JAGAE Eccentric Legend of Oda Nobunaga (JAGAE Oda Nobunaga Den Kidou), by Baku Yumemakura (Shodensha, 6/10)
  • Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut (Tsuki to Raika to Nosferatu), by Keisuke Makino (Gagaga Bunko, 10/19, 7 volumes)
  • Kiryu Police: White Bone Road (Kiryu Keisatsu: Hakkotsu Kaidou), by Ryoe Tsukimura (Hayakawa Shobō, 8/18)
  • Man Kind, by Taiyo Fujii (S-F Magazine, serialization ended in August 2021 issue)

BEST JAPANESE SHORT STORY

  • “Anonymous Akashic Records” (UchiAka-shic Record), by Yuba Isukari (S-F Magazine, June 2021)
  • “A Human History of Cleaning & Cleaning Equipment” (Souji to Souji Yougu no Jinruishi), by Yuri Matsuzaki (Anomalous Papers, Kyosuke Higuchi, ed. Hayakawa Shobō, 10/19)
  • “You Made Me Human” (Kisho ga Watashi wo Ningen ni Shitekureta), by Todoki Uka (S-F Magazine, February 2021)
  • “The Subjectivist” (Shukansha), by Koichi Harukure (S-F Magazine, August/October 2021)
  • “On the Imagination and Creativity of Invertebrates” (Musekitsui-doubutsu no Souzouryoku to Souzousei ni Tsuite), by Yuichi Sakanaga (Kawade Shobo Shinsha NOVA 2021 Summer Issue, 4/6)
  • “How to Defeat a Science Fiction Writer” (SF Sakka no Taoshikata), by Satoshi Ogawa (Anomalous Papers, Kyosuke Higuchi, ed. Hayakawa, 10/19)
  • “Seven Billion Pessimists” (Nana Okunin no Pessimist), by Nirou Katase (S-F Magazine, August 2021)
  • “Selling The Body” (Shintai wo Uru Koto), by Miyuki Ono (S-F Magazine, August 2021)

BEST TRANSLATED LONG WORK

  • Network Effect, by Martha Wells (translated by Naoya Nakahara)
  • The Man with the Compound Eyes, by Wu Ying-Mi  (translated by Satoshi Oguriyama)
  • The Fated Sky, by Mary Robinette Kowal (translated by Akinobu Sakai)
  • Death’s End, by Cixin Liu (translated by Nozomi Omori, Wan Chai, Sakura Mitsuyoshi, Ko Tomari)
  • No Enemy But Time, by Michael Bishop (translated by Yutaka Oshima)
  • Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (translated by Kazuko Onoda)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (translated by Kazuko Yamada)
  • Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (translated by Masayuki Uchida)

BEST TRANSLATED SHORT STORY

  • “Yakiniku Planet,” by Liang Qingshan (translated by Keita Kojima)
  • “Mother Tongues,” by S. Qiouyi Lu (translated by Umiyuri Katsuyama)
  • “Nomad,” by Karin Lowachee (translated by Naoya Nakahara)
  • “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary,” by Ken Liu (translated by Yoshimichi Furusawa)
  • “Power Armor: A Love Story,” by David Barr Kirtley (translated by Naoya Nakahara)
  • “The King of Time,” by Baoshu (translated by Kosaku Ai)
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix. E Harrow (translated by Fumiyo Harashima)
  • “The One With the Interstellar Group Consciousnesses” by James Alan Gardner (translated by Chiori Sada)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

BEST COMIC

  • Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, by Fumi Yoshinaga (19 volumes)
  • Attack on Titan, by Hajime Isayama (34 volumes)
  • An Interstellar Voyage Fit for a Baron (Danshoku ni Fusawashii Ginga Ryokou), by Rasenjin Hayami (3 volumes)
  • Psychic Squad (Zettai Karen Children), by Takashi Shiina (63 volumes)
  • Astronaut Cat, by Ryo Aizawa (one-shot)
  • Beastars, by Paru Itagaki (22 volumes)
  • JoJolion, by Hirohiko Araki (27 volumes)
  • Sōbōtei Kowasubeshi, by Kazuhiro Fujita (25 volumes)

BEST ARTIST

BEST NONFICTION

  • NHK: 100 Minutes of Masterpieces – Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”, by Kazuhisa Todayama (NHK Publishing)
  • SF Prototyping: New Strategies of Innovation from Science Fiction, by Michito Miyamoto, Yuuki Namba, Hirotaka Osawa (Hayakawa)
  • Rurubu Universe, edited by Kimiyo Hayashi (JTB Publishing)
  • The Thoughts of Shinichi Hoshi, by Michiaki Asaba (Chikuma Shobō)
  • The Best of Japanese SF Comics, edited by Kenta Fukui (Sōgen Suiri Bunko)
  • Super Sentai (Illustrated Gakken Book), edited by Dai Matsui (Gakken)
  • A Physicist Gets Into Sci-Fi Movies, by Yuichi Takamizu (Kobunsha)
  • World Science Fiction Writers Conference, edited by Hayakawa Shobo Editorial Department (Hayakawa Shobo)

FREE NOMINATION

“A novel-generating AI created by an individual and released in July 2021, as it became a hot topic as a creative AI that can be easily enjoyed on the Web.”

“Date is the app’s release. For the app’s release and its scale as a social phenomenon after the production announcement in 2016.”

“Date is the release of the most recent game in the series, “Super Robot Wars 30.” In honor of the increased visibility of robot works, including past works, due to the crossover of robot works.”

“Research into a treatment for kidney disease in cats made the news and raised more than 200 million yen. The reason for this event was that it drew attention to the theme of animal physiology, a topic that is close to our hearts, and that it was a reminder of the high impact of “buzz” on the Internet.” (English article)

“The new movie version, which spanned almost 15 years since 2007, has finally come to an end. Starting from the TV series, it has been about 25 years. Many people did not live to see the end, and the conclusion of the event literally embodied the curse of Eva. We would like to pay tribute not only to the movie as a stand-alone product, but also to the completion of the series over the years.”

“While the whole world was suffering from the new coronavirus, the Freedom was built in Shanghai, China in April, and the Nu Gundam was built in Fukuoka, Japan in December. The construction of two mobile suits (Freedom is not a Gundam) in one year was unprecedented and the first time in history. It could be said to be a modern version of the construction of the Great Buddha to pray for the dispersal of Corona.” (English article)

“Although private citizens have used public organizations for space travel in the past, it is significant that they have successfully completed a manned spaceflight mission that will lead to private space travel in the future.”

Pixel Scroll 5/15/22 The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is Long, But It Scrolls Toward Pixels

(1) TIME IS FLEETING. The SFWA Silent Auction ends tomorrow at noon. Organizer Jason Sanford says, “In particular you and your File 770 readers might get a kick out of seeing the original Munchkin card in the auction, which I think is amazing and is shown in the press release. Also, the auction has up for bid original, first edition hardback copies of Green Hills of Earth and Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein from the early 1950s — both of which are signed by Heinlein! I’m a little frustrated that more people haven’t noticed these two rare, signed copies of his books from the Golden Age of SF.”

Specifically, these are the links to the two books Jason pointed out: Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein, an autographed Shasta hardcover first edition (1951; no jacket); and Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein an autographed Shasta hardcover first edition (1953; no jacket). Both books include a chart of Heinlein’s Future History on a flyleaf.

(2) BRITISH FANTASY AWARDS SEEK NOMINATIONS. The British Fantasy Society is taking nominations for the British Fantasy Awards 2022. You can vote in the BFAs if you are any of the following: A member of the British Fantasy Society; An attendee at FantasyCon 2021; or A ticket-holder for FantasyCon 2022. The voting form is here. Voting will remain open until Sunday May 29, 2022.

Voters may list up to three titles in each category. A crowdsourced list of suggestions has been created here. You may vote for titles not on the suggestions list. Further guidance on the eligibility criteria for each category can be found here.

The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations in each category will make the shortlist.

(3) ALERT THE MEDIA. “David Tennant and Catherine Tate returning to Doctor Who in 2023” reports Radio Times.

After plenty of rumours and red herrings, the BBC has confirmed the shock news that former Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate are returning to the long-running sci-fi drama, over 12 years after they originally handed in their TARDIS keys and just a week after Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the new star of the series (taking over from current Doctor Jodie Whittaker).

As the time-travelling Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, the pair presided over a popular and critically-acclaimed era for Doctor Who still fondly remembered by fans. And now, according to the BBC, they are set to reunite with screenwriter Russell T Davies to film new “scenes that are due to air in 2023”, coinciding with Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

…It could be that these scenes are little more than a cameo, or they could be a major comeback. For now, they’re keeping it all a bit mysterious….

(4) NEXT, THE GOOD NEWS. Yesterday’s Scroll ran an item about what was getting axed at CW. Today Variety has published “UPFRONTS 2022: The Full List of New Broadcast Series Orders”, which it will continually update. Here are examples of what different companies are planning to air next season.

KRAPOPOLIS (Fox Entertainment)

Logline: Animated comedy set in mythical ancient Greece, the series centers on a flawed family of humans, gods and monsters that tries to run one of the world’s first cities without killing each other.

QUANTUM LEAP (Universal Television)

A sequel to the original 1989-1993 time-traveling NBC fantasy drama picks up 30 years after Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now a new team has been assembled to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.

GOTHAM KNIGHTS (Warner Bros. Television)

Logline: In the wake of Bruce Wayne’s murder, his rebellious adopted son forges an unlikely alliance with the children of Batman’s enemies when they are all framed for killing the Caped Crusader.

THE WINCHESTERS (Warner Bros. Television/CBS Studios)

Logline: This prequel to “Supernatural” tells the untold love story of how John and Mary Winchester met and put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world.

(5) ANOTHER INTERPRETATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nilanjana Roy discusses feminist retellings of classic myths.

In her debut novel Kaikeyi published this month, Chicago-based writer Vaishnavi Patel dramatically reframes a story from the great Hindu epic The Ramayana, of Queen Kaikeyo who demands that her husband King Dashrath exile her stepson, the young man-god Rama. ‘I wanted to discover what might have caused a celebrated warrior and beloved queen to tear her family apart,’ Patel writes in her introduction.

Like Patel, many are interested in questioning the framing of mythical women as both villains and heroes.  Korean-American writer Axie Oh writes a less submissive protagonist into the legend of Shim Cheong in her young-adult book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea. In Oh’s version Mina, a village girl, takes the place of Shim Cheong, the dutiful daughter in the legend who sacrifices herself to the sea gods–but her role in the story is a more active one.  ‘My fate is not yours to decide,’ she says.  ‘My fate belongs to me.’

(6) GENRE STAR GILLAN WEDS. “Karen Gillan marries American boyfriend in closely guarded ceremony at castle in Argyll” – the Daily Record has the story.

Avengers star Karen Gillan has wed her American boyfriend in a closely guarded ceremony at a castle in Argyll.

The Inverness-born star tied the knot this afternoon with American comedian Nick Kocher, 36, after jetting back to Scotland for her nuptials.

Some of the A-list guests at the wedding in Castle Toward in Dunoon included fellow action star Robert Downey Jnr and Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts, who were spotted in the town earlier today.

Steven Moffat, who was executive producer of Doctor Who when Karen was Matt Smith’s Tardis companion, was also a guest for her big day.

The 34-year-old, who had kept her engagement to the Saturday Night Live scriptwriter a secret, had chartered a yacht, The Spirit of Fortitude, to take family and friends to the 3.30pm ceremony….

(7) SFF FILLS THE 1953 MAGAZINE STANDS. [Item by Mlex.] James Wallace Harris of the Auxiliary Memory blog & SF Signal, posted a bibliographic essay on the year 1953 for science fiction short stories. “The 1953 SF&F Magazine Boom” at Classics of Science Fiction.

Science fiction in 1953 spoke to a generation and it’s fascinating to think about why. The number of science fiction readers before WWII was so small that it didn’t register in pop culture. The war brought rockets, atomic bombs, computers, and nuclear power. The late 1940s brought UFOs – the flying saucer craze. The 1950s began with science fiction movies and television shows. By 1953, science fiction was a fad bigger than the hula-hoop would ever be, we just never thought of it that way. I do wonder if the fad will ever collapse, but I see no sign it will.

He also posted a related cover gallery of magazine issues from that year at the Internet Archive: “1953 SFF Magazine Covers”.

(8) READING ALOUD. Space Cowboy Books presents the 51st episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast. Stories featured in this episode:

“The Jellyfish from Nullarbor” by Eric Farrell; music by RedBlueBlackSilver; read by Jean-Paul Garnier

“Apotheosis” by Joshua Green; music by Phog Masheeen; read by Jean-Paul Garnier

Theme music by Dain Luscombe

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixteen years on this date, one of the most unusual strips to come into existence did so in the form of Mark Tatulli’s Liō. It was very easy to market globally as it had almost no dialogue except that spoken by other people in the parodies that I’ll mention in a minute as Liō and the other characters don’t speak at all, and there were no balloons or captions at all again giving it a global appeal. 

Liō, who lives with his father and various monsters, i.e. Ishmael a giant squid and Fido a spider, various animals like Cybil a white cat (of course there’s a cat here, a very pushy feline indeed), aliens, lab creations, and even Liō’s hunchbacked assistant.  Why there’s even Archie, Liō’s psychopathic ventriloquist’s dummy. Liō’s mother is deceased. Though why she’s deceased is never stated. Definitely not your nuclear family here.

An important aspect of the strip is that will riff off other strips, and lots of them: BlondieBloom CountyCalvin and HobbesCathyGarfieldOpusPeanuts, even Pearls Before Swine (not one of my favorite strips I will readily admit) will become fodder for parody by this strip.  That’s where the only dialogue is spoken. 

Currently  the strip which runs daily globally in more than two hundred and fifty papers. 

Tatulli on the Mr. Media podcast back a decade or so said “It’s really a basic concept. It’s just Liō who lives with his father, and that’s basically it, and whatever I come up with. I set no parameters because I didn’t want to lock myself in. I mean, having no dialogue means that there is going to be no dialogue-driven gags, so I have to leave myself as open as possible to any kind of thing, so anything basically can happen.” 

There a transcript of that podcast here as the audio quality of that interview is, as the interviewer admits, rather awful. He got better after that first interview by him. 

In multiple interviews, Tatulli has said the two major contemporary influences on his style are Gahan Wilson and Charles Addams.

And yes, it’s still in existence and offending people as this strip from late last year will demonstrate.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a very splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. Nor have I seen any of the later adaptations of the Oz fiction. What’s the rest of his fiction like?  There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and some of it is slash which is a really, really scary idea. (Died 1919.)
  • Born May 15, 1877 William Bowen. His most notable work was The Old Tobacco Shop, a fantasy novel that was one runner-up for the inaugural Newbery Medal in 1922. He also had a long running children’s series with a young girl named Merrimeg whom a narrator told her adventures with all sorts of folkloric beings. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 15, 1926 Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie-based  Evil Under the Sun,Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 15, 1948 Brian Eno, 74. Worth noting if only for A Multimedia Album Based on the Complete Text of Robert Sheckley’s In a Land of Clear Colors, though all of his albums have a vague SF feeling  to them such as Music for Civic Recovery CentreJanuary 07003: Bell Studies for the Clock of  The Long Now and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today which could be the name of Culture mind ships. Huh. I wonder if his music will show up in the proposed Culture series?
  • Born May 15, 1955 Lee Horsley, 67. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls as it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer.
  • Born May 15, 1960 Rob Bowman, 62. Producer of such series as Alien NationM.A.N.T.I.S.Quantum LeapNext Generation, and The X-Files. He has directed these films: The X-FilesReign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.  
  • Born May 15, 1966 Greg Wise, 56. I’m including him solely for being in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun. 
  • Born May 15, 1971 Samantha Hunt, 51. If you read nothing else by her, do read The Invention of Everything,  a might be look at the last days in the life of Nikola Tesla. It’s mostly set within the New Yorker Hotel, a great concept. I’m avoiding spoilers naturally. She’s written two other genre novels, Mr. Splitfoot and The Seas, plus a handful of stories. 

(11) BUILDING THE GENRE BRICK BY BRICK. “Lego’s next batch of official unofficial sets go on sale May 17th, and you’ll want to be quick” The Verge tells collectors. (This is the link to the sale: Designer Program 2021 Invitational at BrickLink.) The quotes below were written by the designers.

…A from-the-ground-up rebuild of the original “Bulwark” gunship design of the Space Troopers project, the spaceship you see here is chock full of the developments of a decade’s worth of building, yet remains sturdy and with a chunky simplicity that reminds me of what I’d have loved to play with as a boy. From the rear’s double cargo doors ready to discharge rovers, troops, or scientists on an expedition, to the inner hatch and gunner’s console with its cramped ladder allowing access to the cockpit, the hold is packed with scenes ripe for customization and exploration. Crew bunks and a tiny galley round out the hull, and the off-center cockpit rises up between a sensor array and two massive engines that can rotate up or down for flight.

The sliding cargo doors aren’t just there for show; a sturdy mechanism just behind the wings allows you to attach the two included modules or design your own, dropping them off on some distant planet or opening the doors to allow for use in-flight. Two crimson hardsuits in the classic Space Troopers red are more than just my concession to the strictures of the brick—they’re my homage to the classic sci-fi writers whose tales of adventure on far-off planets and dropships swooping from the sky have shaped my life. Deploying on two rails from a module that locks into place in the dropship’s rear, the suits are chunky, bedecked with pistons and thrusters, and, most importantly, fit a minifigure snugly inside to allow for armored adventures….

…I think around this time I also watched some The Big Bang Theory episodes. During one of these nights I “designed” an observatory made from LEGO bricks in my mind. I really love science and space, and I have never seen an observatory as an official LEGO set. That’s when I thought about building an observatory in real bricks. But I didn’t want to use an IP because that would only be interesting for people who has a connection to the place. I wanted to create a playable observatory that has a unique design. I imagined a building on the top of a mountain and what it would look like. And that’s why I called it “Mountain View.”…

…The Steam Powered Science (previously known as the Exploratorium) is a Steam-Punk themed research facility whose mission is to delve into the mysteries of the universe. One half of the facility is dedicated to researching celestial motion while the other is dedicated to traversing the ocean’s depths. The set was designed as part of the Flight Works Series, a group of Steam-Punk themed submissions on LEGO Ideas….

(12) CHARGE IT! Are Colin Kuskie and Phil Nichols really going to advocate for that most controversial of critics’ notions? To find out you will need to listen to episode 17 of Science Fiction 101, “Canon to the left of me, canon to the right”.

Colin and Phil return, buoyed by the news that Science Fiction 101 has risen to number 6 in Feedspot’s league table of Best UK Sci-Fi Podcasts!

Our main discussion topic the contentious issue of the “canon” of science fiction, triggered by a blog post by Dr Shaun Duke. We also have a movie quiz, and the usual round-up of past/present/future SF.

(13) STRANGE NEW TREK PARAPHERNALIA. TrekCore is pleased to report that after a long wait “QMx Finally Beams Down USS ENTERPRISE Delta Badges”.

More than three years after their initial announcement, QMx has finally brought their Star Trek: Discovery-era USS Enterprise Starfleet delta badges into Earth orbit — just in time for the debut of Captain Pike’s own series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Originally announced all the way back in February 2019, the metal Starfleet badges were showcased at that year’s Toy Fair expo in New York City… only to shuffle off the horizon, as they’d gone “on hold” by the early part of the next year (as a QMx representative told us at Toy Fair 2020), likely waiting for the then-in-the-works Captain Pike series to be announced to the public….

(14) INGENUITY BEGINNING TO AGE OUT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars showed its first sign of approaching old age when it failed to wake on time to “phone home.” After far outlasting its planned life, the approach of winter with shorter days and more dust in the air is beginning to play havoc with its ability to keep a charge on its batteries overnight. “Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Went Silent, Leaving Anxious NASA Team in the Dark” at Gizmodo.

Late last week, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter managed to reestablish its connection with the Perseverance rover following a brief communications disruption. The space agency says the looming winter is likely responsible and is making adjustments as a result.

On Thursday, Ingenuity—mercifully—sent a signal to Perseverance after the intrepid helicopter missed a scheduled communications session. It marked the first time since the pair landed together on Mars in February 2021 that Ingenuity has missed an appointment, according to NASA.

The team behind the mission believes that Ingenuity had entered into a low-power state to conserve energy, and it did so in response to the charge of its six lithium-ion batteries dropping below a critical threshold. This was likely due to the approaching winter, when more dust appears in the Martian atmosphere and the temperatures get colder. The dust blocks the amount of sunlight that reaches the helicopter’s solar array, which charges its batteries….

(15) BABY TALK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Baby Yoda showed up on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” to promote Obi-Wan Kenobi and discuss his questionable new friends.  But don’t ask him about Baby Groot or he’ll get really angry! “Baby Yoda on His Spiritual Awakening”.

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

The SFWA Silent Auction’s Final Hours

The SFWA Silent Auction closes in less than 24 hours. If last year was any indication, this is when bidding starts to go wild. What’s also wild is how many amazing deals can still be had, particularly ones of special interest to SFF creators. Find all the items at the SFWA Auction at http://bitly.com/sfwaauction, and place your bids by Monday, May 16, 12 Noon Pacific Time. Here are just a few to check out:

Virtual Career Advising Sessions

These auction items are 30-minute long, one-on-one Zoom-based meetings with an SFF professional who can offer you advice from their experience on the next steps in your career. Each is scheduled for a specific day, so check that time when you check them out. Several have leading bids for as low as $25!

  • Anya Joseph’s short fiction can be found in Fantasy Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, and Mythaxis, among many others. Their debut novel, Queen of All, is an inclusive adventure fantasy for young adults. Bid here.
  • Bryan Young’s work as a writer and producer has been called “filmmaking gold” by The New York Times. He’s also published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics; been a regular contributor for the Huffington PostStarWars.com, SYFY, & more; wrote the critically acclaimed history book, A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination; co-authored Robotech: The Macross Saga RPG and wrote a novel in the BattleTech Universe called Honor’s Gauntlet. He teaches writing for Writer’s Digest, Script Magazine, and at the University of Utah. Bid here.
  • Sam J. Miller’s books have been called “must reads” and “bests of the year” by USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among others. He is the Nebula and Astounding Award-winning author of Blackfish City, which has been translated into six languages. Miller’s short stories have won a Shirley Jackson Award and been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, and Locus Awards, and have been reprinted in dozens of anthologies. Bid here.

Additional virtual career sessions are available from Justina Ireland, SFWA CFO Nathan Lowell, Lou Aronica, Nebula finalist Premee Mohamed, Marisca Pichette, former SFWA presidents Mary Robinette Kowal and Cat Rambo, C. L. Polk, Jennifer Brozek, Dan Kobodlt, Chelsea Mueller, Cecilia Tan, and Ajit George! Find them all here.

Kaffeeklatsches

Kaffeeklatsches are a mainstay of SFF con culture! They’re essentially informal hangouts with your favorite creators. Each of these 1-hour-long virtual kaffeeklatsches has four seats up for bidding, and is set for a specific time and date. The winning bidders will all join the creator in the same Zoom room for their session. Seats for many featured storytellers are beginning at $20!

  • Jennifer Brozek’s A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods, Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy were finalists for the Bram Stoker Award. She was awarded the Scribe Award for best tie-in Young Adult novel for BattleTech: The Nellus Academy Incident. Grants Pass won an Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication. A Hugo finalist for Short Form Editor and a finalist for the British Fantasy Award, Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. Bid here.
  • Alma Alexander is a fantasy writer whose novels include the Worldweavers young adult series. Alexander’s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer. Bid here.
  • Carlos Hernandez, the author of Andre Norton Nebula finalist Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, won a Pura Belpré Author Award from the American Library Association. Hernandez is also the author of Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe, and The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, along with numerous stories and poems, mostly in the speculative mode. He is an English professor at City University of New York, and he loves to both play games and design them. Bid here.

Kaffeeklatsch seats are also available for Carrie Jones, former SFWA presidents Cat Rambo and Mary Robinette Kowal, Chuck Wendig, C. L. Polk, David Brin, former SFWA Secretary Deborah J. Ross, current SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy, incoming SFWA Director-At-Large Jordan Kurella, Julie E. Czerneda, Justina Ireland, Marie Brennan, Natalia Theodoridou, Nisi Shawl, Nebula finalist Premee Mohamed, Nebula finalist Sam J Miller, Nebula winner and finalist Sarah Pinsker, Tim Waggoner, Wole Talabi, and game author Jonathan Cassie. Find them all here.

There are also written and virtual manuscript critiques available from many great authors for a steal of only $30, and of course, tuckerizations, signed books and book collections, rare books, collectibles, signed game guides, and more! 

Since the auction opened, they’ve also added three sets of Munchkins charity postcards signed by illustrator John Kovalic, AND this one-of-a-kind Munchkin card, hand-drawn and autographed by him.

Why yes, you did read that correctly: The bearer of the card, if a SFWA member, gets two extra levels when played! 

Bidding will be fierce for that card, and for many of the rare books and collectibles we have an offer. But if you’re lucky, you can take advantage of the virtual sessions we highlighted above and hopefully win at a great price, while leveling up your career knowledge.

May Lady Luck smile upon you, and may you share these opportunities far and wide, so Lady Luck smiles on SFWA with the final total! The money raised will benefit a number of SFWA programs, including providing support for the organization’s expanding membership and their advocacy for all SFF writers. 

[Based on a press release.]

2021 Bram Stoker Awards

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) announced the Bram Stoker Award® winners for the 2021 calendar year on May 14 at StokerCon 2022 in Denver.

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL

  • Jones, Stephen Graham – My Heart Is a Chainsaw (Gallery/Saga Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FIRST NOVEL

  • Piper, Hailey – Queen of Teeth (Strangehouse Books)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL

  • Manzetti, Alessandro (author) and Cardoselli, Stefano (artist) – The Inhabitant of the Lake (Independent Legions Publishing)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Waters, Erica – The River Has Teeth (HarperTeen)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN LONG FICTION

  • Strand, Jeff – “Twentieth Anniversary Screening” (Slice and Dice) (Independently published)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION

  • Murray, Lee – “Permanent Damage” (Attack From the ’80s) (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FICTION COLLECTION

  • Files, Gemma – In That Endlessness, Our End (Grimscribe Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A SCREENPLAY

  • Flanagan, Mike; Flanagan, James; and Howard, Jeff – Midnight Mass, Season 1, Episode 6: “Book VI: Acts of the Apostles” (Intrepid Pictures)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A POETRY COLLECTION

  • Sng, Christina; Yuriko Smith, Angela; Murray, Lee; and Flynn, Geneve – Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken. (Yuriko Publishing)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN AN ANTHOLOGY

  • Datlow, Ellen – When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson (Titan Books) 

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN NON-FICTION

  • Knost, Michael – Writers Workshop of Horror 2 (Hydra Publications)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT NON-FICTION

  • Yuriko Smith, Angela – “Horror Writers: Architects of Hope” (The Sirens Call, Halloween 2021, Issue 55) (Sirens Call Publications)

Also recognized during tonight’s ceremony were these previously announced HWA service and specialty award winners.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

  • Jo Fletcher
  • Nancy Holder
  • Koji Suzuki

SPECIALTY PRESS

  • Valancourt Books

THE RICHARD LAYMON PRESIDENT’S AWARD

  • Sumiko Saulson

THE SILVER HAMMER AWARD

  • Kevin J. Wetmore

MENTOR OF THE YEAR

  • Michael Knost

Pixel Scroll 5/14/22 Scroll Me A Pixel I’ll Be Back For Breakfast

(1) BRAM STOKER LOSERS UNITE. Scott Edelman has famously lost many Bram Stoker Awards – and he has the card to prove it. He invites tonight’s unlucky nominees to become card-carrying members of this group.  

Tonight’s Bram Stoker awards ceremony means — there will be winners — but also losers. If any of the new Never Winner losers created tonight would like this Susan Lucci of the HWA to mail you one of my “It is an honor to be nominated” cards — ask, and one will be sent your way!

However — if you’re a previous Never Winner in Denver tonight who already owns of one of these cards and should lose yet again — please track down Lee Murray, whom I have deputized to punch you a new hole. Good … luck?

(2) LIVE LONG ENOUGH, YOU’LL PROSPER. Somtow Sucharitkul tells Facebook readers why a recent Star Trek episode rang a bell. BEWARE SPOILERS.

SPOILER COMING – But For What Exactly?

The Enterprise discovers that a comet is hurtling toward a planet that doesn’t have warp drive and whose civilization they cannot interfere with because of the prime directive. Presently, they discover that the comet is alive, and has some kind of intelligence. The only way to save the planet is to find a way to communicate with the comet, and it turns out that the key is to sing to it a folk song from someone’s homeworld….

Yes, this is the plot of the new episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but it’s also the plot of my 2001 Star Trek Novel, “Do Comets Dream?” which is itself vaguely adapted from a tale told in my Inquestor series, “The Comet That Cried for Its Mother”, originally published in AMAZING….

(3) IT’S A MASSACRE. “Everything on Broadcast TV Just Got Canceled” Vanity Fair declared yesterday. It will feel like that if you watched sff on CW.

In the ever-changing television landscape, this past Thursday was a particularly tough time to be a broadcast television show. Per TV Guide, 17 broadcast television shows were officially given the axe by their respective networks yesterday. “It’s the Red Wedding at WBTV/CW today,” tweeted showrunner Julie Plec, whose CW shows Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico were both among the carnage. “Much more to say, but not today. Loads of gratitude coming for fans and cast and crew in future tweets. But today, we mourn.” 

The CW was hit particularly hard, with nine shows getting chopped in all. Along with Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico, the teen-focused network said goodbye to Dynasty after five seasons, In The Dark after four seasons, and Batwoman after three seasons. The network is currently up for sale, which may explain why it was particularly ruthless with its cancellations and downsizing its slate from 19 original scripted series to 11 original scripted series ahead of next fall….

(4) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? James Wallace Harris reprints and analyzes Alfred Bester’s vintage analysis of the genre in “Blows Against The Empire: Alfred Bester’s 1953 Critique of Science Fiction” at Classics of Science Fiction (a 2020 post).

…Bester is looking back over what many have called the Golden Age of Science Fiction and burning it down with his blaster. I wish I could find the fan reaction to this essay from back in the 1950s, but Google only returns seven results. And for those who aren’t familiar with the name Alfred Bester, he wrote two books in the 1950s that became classics: The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man. At the time Bester had a reputation for being a writing stylist and innovator. So getting a dressing down from one of our own must have been painful.

I wonder what I would have thought if I read and understood this essay in 1962 when I first began reading science fiction. Science fiction wasn’t popular then like it is today. Science fiction was one step up from comic books, and you were called retarded (their word back then) by your peers if you read comics. I remembered also being called a geek and zero for reading SF. Back then those terms were the social kiss of death. I had two buddies that read science fiction in high school and I remember being very hurt by George’s mother when she sat is down one day and gave us a serious talk about evils of reading science fiction. George’s mother was a sophisticated, well-educated, widely traveled woman, and I was always impressed with her thoughts, so it really hurt when she tried to convince us we were reading trash. She implied reading SF was a sign we were emotionally and intellectually immature. We thought we were Slans…

(5) OPPOSING BOOK BANS. “More than 25 Organizations Join ALA’s ‘Unite Against Book Bans’ Campaign”. Among them are the Authors Guild and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The American Library Association this week announced that more than 25 major organizations, including a host of publishers and author and bookseller groups, have joined its Unite Against Book Bans campaign, an effort to help communities defend the freedom to read. The ALA launched the campaign in April to raise awareness about the surge in book bans and other legislation targeting the work of schools and libraries, with support from the Steve and Loree Potash Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“Our partners and supporters are critical in moving the needle to ultimately bring an end to book bans,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “It’s time that policymakers understand the severity of this issue. ALA is taking the steps necessary to protect individuals’ access to information, but we can’t do this alone.”…

“Three-quarters of the 1,100 plus books currently banned in public schools in the United States have been written by authors of color, LGBTQ authors, or other traditionally marginalized voices,” said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger, in a statement.

(6) NAMING CONVENTIONS. He has a point –

(7) PERSONAL TAXONOMY. Joe Vasicek, often quoted here in the Sad Puppy days of 2015, shares what he calls “an interesting personal discovery” at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

…I just made a very interesting personal discovery, gleaned from the data on my reading of the Hugo and Nebula winning books. Of the 110 novels that have won either award, I have now read all but 16 of them, which is enough data to get some representative results.

One of the best predictors that I will DNF a book is whether the author is a childless woman. Of the 18 books written by childless women, I have DNFed all but three of them (Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh, which I read years ago and would probably DNF today, and Network Effect by Martha Wells, which is a genuinely entertaining read, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke, which I haven’t read yet). For childless men, it’s a little bit more of a crapshoot: of the 31 books written by childless men, I’ve DNFed 16 of them and read 11, but only 6 of those are books I thought were worth owning.

Conversely, one of the best predictors that I will enjoy a book is whether the author is a mother. Of the 20 books written by mothers, I have DNFed only 6 of them and read 8, all of which I think are worth owning. Of the six remaining books that I haven’t read yet, I will almost certainly finish four of them, and may finish all six. The only book by an author I haven’t already read and enjoyed is The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, which I am currently reading and will probably finish next week…

(8) LIGHT MY FIRE. “Firestarter (2022) vs. Firestarter (1984): Which Stephen King adaptation burns brightest?” – Clark Collis supplies his answer at Entertainment Weekly. The summaries of each film make good reading, too.

… The 1984 film stars Barrymore as Charlie McGee, a young girl with pyrokinetic powers who is fleeing from a sinister government organization called “The Shop” with her father Andy, played by David Keith. Andy has been training Charlie to use her powers properly by getting her to turn bread into toast with her mind but it is the unfortunate Shop agents who get browned as Barrymore’s character periodically sets them ablaze. The supporting cast is notable for a few reasons. Oscar-winners Art Carney and Louise Fletcher play a couple who befriend Charlie and Andy, while Martin Sheen portrays the head of the Shop just a year after his performance in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of King’s The Dead Zone. Finally, another Academy Award-winner, George C. Scott, is inexplicably cast as the seemingly First Nation assassin John Rainbird, who has a fondness for punching his targets’ noses into their brains and an unhealthy interest in our heroine…

(9) TOM SWIFT. Edge Media Network supplies an intro as “First Trailer Drops for New CW Series ‘Tom Swift’ Featuring a Black Gay Lead Character”.

…”Tian Richards already made his debut as Tom Swift on one of the best episodes of ‘Nancy Drew’ yet, but get ready to see him in a whole new light on his own show,” EW said.

As previously reported at EDGE, being gay was a prominent part of the character’s depiction when he made a guest appearance on “Nancy Drew.” Sparks flew between Tom Swift and “Nancy Drew” regular character Nick (Tunji Kasim), leading to an onscreen kiss….

(10) WHEN I USE A WORD. At Tor.com, CD Covington’s series on sff linguistics finally tackles the 500-lb gorilla: “On Tolkien, Translation, Linguistics, and the Languages of Middle-earth”.

Since I started this column in 2019, I’ve been avoiding one famous—possibly even the most famous—example of using linguistics in SFF literature: the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s not because I don’t like Lord of the Rings—quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just such an obvious topic, and one which people have devoted decades of scholarship to exploring. Hell, my Old English prof has published academic scholarship on the topic, in addition to teaching a Maymester class on the languages of Middle-earth. But I suppose it’s time to dedicate a column to the book that first made me think language was cool and to the man who wrote it.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2010 [By Cat Eldridge.] I’m starting this essay by acknowledging that everyone has their favorite Robin Hood. My all-time favorite is the one in the Robin of Sherwood series, Robin of Loxley as played by Michael Praed. And yes, I acknowledge that the second Robin, Robert of Huntingdon as performed by Jason Connery was quite excellent too. Richard Carpenter did himself proud with this series. 

But I’m here tonight to talk about one of my favorite Robin Hood films (the other being Robin and Marian.) Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood premiered in the States on this date twelve years ago. It was written by Brian Helgeland who had done mostly horror films before this but was also the screenwriter of the beloved A Knight’s Tale. He along with Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris were responsible for the story.

It was produced by Ridley Scott, Brian Grazer and Russell Crowe. Yes the actor who played Robin Hood here helped produce it. So let’s turn to casting. 

I think Crowe made an outstanding Robin Longstride and Cate Blanchett as Marion Loxley was a great casting move. Other interesting casting here includes Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley and William Hurt as William Marshal. This was not a cast of unknowns. I thought Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham was interesting as the actor usually had much lighter roles. Mark Addy as Friar Tuck was well cast. 

It was a very expensive undertaking costing at least two hundred million and it took in least three hundred and twenty-five million, so it likely just broke even.

And what was the opinion of critics at the time? Well it was decidedly mixed with Deborah Ross of UK’s Spectator on the side of the dissenters: “Scott decided, I think, to get away from the whole campy thing in tights business and wanted to make this ‘real’. So there is sweat and dirt and rats at the cheese and even bad teeth, which is fair enough, but it is also joyless.” 

But Richard Klein of Shadows on the Wall liked it: “Ridley Scott and his usual Oscar-winning crewmates turn the familiar old English legend it into a robust, thumping epic. The pacing is a bit uneven, but it keeps us thoroughly engaged.”

Let’s finish off with Jeffrey Westhoff of the Northwest Herald:  “Robin Hood doesn’t become the swashbuckling bandit of Sherwood until the final moments, when the tag “And so the legend begins” appears. You may walk away liking this Robin Hood well enough, but wishing you had seen the sequel.” 

It gets just a fifty eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearences in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1933 Siân Phillips, 89. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch’s Dune, Cassiopeia in Clash of The Titans, Grandmother in A Christmas Carol, Charal in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, and The Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass. And I’m about to see her on Silent Witness.
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long track history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds; Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations again with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 78. For better and worse, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine, the others suck royally in my opinion. Later Star Wars films are meh though I adore the original trilogy. And let’s not forget THX 1138. So you ask, what are my favorite works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Yes Willow. Oh, and The Young Indiana Jones series which I really, really loved. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 77. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 70. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 67. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Let Nick Mamatas introduce Tom Gauld’s strip for today’s Guardian.
  • Next, here’s Gauld’s latest comic for New Scientist.

(14) CLUES OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Keith Roysdon remembers newspaper crime comic strips (remember Steve Roper and Mike Nomad?) “Black and White and Noir All Over: A Brief History of Vintage Newspaper Crime Comic Strips” at CrimeReads.

Who could have known that newspaper comic strips and crime stories, including noir, were a match made in heaven?

Newspaper comic strips are an artistic genre that’s largely forgotten now. The strips that remain are for the most part humor strips like “Garfield.” A handful of dramatic strips are still published.

But serial dramatic strips were once a staple of the newspaper comics page. Many of them were soap opera-ish strips like “Mary Worth” and “Apartment 3-G.” To say that drama strips were slow moving is an understatement. I wish I could remember who joked that they came back to read “Apartment 3-G” after decades away and the caption read, “Later that afternoon …”

But that deliberate pace – well, maybe not quite that deliberate – was perfect for teasing out a good crime storyline. And crime and noir look awesome in black and white newsprint.

(15) MUSIC WITHOUT THE SPHERES. “Peace is Still Weirder Than War” asserts Laurie Penny in a very entertaining essay about Eurovision. Admittedly, nothing to do with sff except a brief reference to Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera at the end.

…Britain is a lot worse at Eurovision than you’d think. We’ve spent half a century distracting the world from our post imperial decline by flinging out wild handfuls of pop music and self deprecating humour, so we really ought to be able to deploy them here. Sadly, we’re scuppered every time by our even more fundamental fear of looking daft in front of the French.

We’ve made worse choices for the same reason.

But reasons are not excuses, and the land of Monty Python, David Bowie and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band should be able to do better than another basic bearded guitar boy. We do have the best tv commentary by miles, after Graham Norton seamlessly accepted the baton from the great Terry Wogan, proving once again that Britain’s comfort zone is making fun of other people.  Yes. Hi.

…For related reasons, Ukraine are likely to win this year. Russia can sulk all they like, just like they did when Ukraine stood down from Eurovision in 2015with the reasonable excuse that they were busy being invaded by Russia. in 2016, Ukraine was back, and it won, narrowly beating Russia, whose entry looked like someone repurposed a rave club as a re-education camp without redecorating. Not only did Ukraine win, it won with a song called ‘1944’, about the Soviet genocide of the Crimean Tartars. Russia has not forgotten this. State Television spent a long time denouncing Eurovision as a degenerate spectacle of homosexuality, which did as much good as denouncing bears for defecating in the woods.

But Russia has never really been any good at Eurovision. This year they’re not even going, partly because the Kremlin has no interest in any competition it can’t cheat at, but mostly because they got banned. It’s hard to get banned from Eurovision, but invading a neighboring country and massacring tens of thousands of people will do the trick….

(16) STOP, NOW, WHAT’S THAT SOUND? ScreenRant suggests “10 ‘Subtly’ Scary Horror Movies (For Horror Fans Sick Of Jump Scares)”. A Bradbury adaptation leads the list!

Sometimes the unknown or the unnatural can be much more terrifying than any masked slasher with a chainsaw.

….It’s not so much that these films rely on someone hiding in the shadows and yelling boo, but rather the audience knows something is wrong but can’t identify what. While jump scares and other such tactics might be sparsely employed, the real horror in these movies comes from both knowing and not knowing what might be in store.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Sometimes, the scariest movies are the ones where nobody dies, and Disney’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is a brilliant example. Based on the book by Ray Bradbury, the film tells the story of what happens when a mysterious carnival lurks into town one windy October.

Led by the mysterious Mr. Dark, Cooger and Dark’s Shadow Show has the uncanny ability to grant anyone’s wishes and make their dreams come true. But like with most things Disney, all magic comes at a price. When two boys and the local librarian are able to see through the illusions, a slow-burning battle with the freakshow for the souls of the town takes place.

(17) THE HUNDREDTH SHADE. Paul Weimer reviews “Gregory A. Wilson’s Grayshade” at A Green Man Review.

… We meet Grayshade in the midst of an assassination that doesn’t go quite to plan, and a relatively atypical assassination target at that – the outwardly flighty socialite wife of a political powerful man, which in itself seems odd to Grayshade. We come to Grayshade at a point in his career where he is extremely experienced and very good at what he does. This is no “coming of age” novel where we follow the assassin through his first mission; rather this is someone who has past adventures and missions behind him, which grounds him for when things do not go according to his expectations. Things spiral out from the assassination not going right, to the point where Grayshade starts to question his purpose, his role, and the entire Order.

This makes a lot of the novel about information control and dissemination, which in turn reminds me of Wilson’s gamemastering….

(18) BAD BACK TO THE FUTURE. At Galactic Journey, Jessica Holmes gives us an recap of the latest (in 1967!) episode of Doctor Who. “[May 14, 1967] Ben And Polly To The Departure Gate (Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones [Part 2])”.

…We left things off with the Doctor having a sudden attack of a bad back, and things only get worse, with Spencer disabling Jamie and Samantha within moments of the episode’s opening.

Now would be a good time to finish them off, you’d think, but instead he sets up some sort of death ray to kill them… eventually. The thing moves so slowly the trio would probably have time for a round of golf before the ray fries them. Though mostly paralysed, Samantha conveniently has enough control of her faculties to get her mirror from her bag and hand it to Jamie, who uses it to reflect the beam and blow up the death ray machine.

With the machine destroyed, their partial paralysis wears off, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me. I thought it was the freezing pen that paralysed them? And I’m still not sure what that device on the Doctor’s back did to him…

(19) AND YOU ARE THERE. This fossil is in a way a snapshot: “How the dinosaurs died: New evidence In PBS documentary” – the Washington Post digs into the story.

…The ground started shaking with intense vibrations while water in the nearby sea sloshed about in response. The sky filled with burning embers, which drifted down and set fire to the lush primordial forest.

Thescelosaurus panicked and looked to flee — but it was too late. Everything changed in a heartbeat as a 30-foot-high wave of mud and debris came racing up the seaway from the south, sweeping away life and limb in the process. The dinosaur was caught in the destructive deluge, its leg ripped off at the hip by the devastating surge.

That moment — 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when an earth-shattering asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs — is frozen in time today through a stunning fossil found last year at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota. This perfectly preserved leg clearly shows the skin, muscle and bones of the three-toed Thescelosaurus.

While the details of the death scenario described above are embellished, they’re based on remarkable new findings and accounts by Robert DePalma, lead paleontologist at Tanis.

“We’re never going to say with 100 percent certainty that this leg came from an animal that died on that day,” the scientist said. “The thing we can do is determine the likelihood that it died the day the meteor struck. When we look at the preservation of the leg and the skin around the articulated bones, we’re talking on the day of impact or right before. There was no advanced decay.”…

(20) DRAWN WITHOUT DRAWERS. CBR.com remembers: “Star Wars: Why George Lucas Had to Fight for Chewbacca Not to Wear Shorts”.

…So he wanted McQuarrie to go beyond humanoid and try to do more of an animal design for Chewbacca. Lucas’ recall led him to a recent issue of Analog Magazine, which had a short novel in it by a pre-Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin called “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Artist John Schoenherr had designed some characters for Martin’s story and they made it to the cover of the magazine…

Lucas sent the drawings to McQuarrie and basically said, “Draw Chewbacca like that” and so that’s what McQuarrie did…

The problem with having basically a giant dog as a character is that dogs, well, you know, don’t have pants. McQuarrie kept coming up with some designs with the character in pants and Lucas kept saying no and that carried over to when the film started production. Lucas’ specific vision of what Chewbacca would look like required him to not have pants and that was a bit of a strange thing for the studio executives at the time.

During the DVD commentary for the 2004 release of Star Wars on DVD, Mark Hamill recalled what Lucas had to go through with regard to Chewbacca’s lack of clothes. “I remember the memos from 20th Century Fox. Can you put a pair of lederhosen on the Wookiee?’ All they could think of was, ‘This character has no pants on!’ This went back and forth. They did sketches of him in culottes and baggy shorts.”…

(21) BEING SNARKY. Would Lewis Carroll readers with an unassigned two hours or so available be interested in the opportunity to watch this complete production? “The Hunting of the Snark” posted by Official London Theatre.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]