(1) RWA CANCELS RITA AWARDS. The “Status of the 2020 RITA Contest” announces the RITA awards are the latest casualties of the internecine strife that began when Romance Writers of America tried to impose penalties on Courtney Milan.
Due to recent events in RWA, many in the romance community have lost faith in RWA’s ability to administer the 2020 RITA contest fairly, causing numerous judges and entrants to cancel their participation. The contest will not reflect the breadth and diversity of 2019 romance novels/novellas and thus will not be able to fulfill its purpose of recognizing excellence in the genre. For this reason, the Board has voted to cancel the contest for the current year. The plan is for next year’s contest to celebrate 2019 and 2020 romances.
While we understand this will be disappointing news for some, we also understand that other members will support taking this step. Recent RWA Boards have worked hard to make changes to the current contest, striving to make it more diverse and inclusive, relieve judging burdens, and bring in outside voices, but those changes had to be voted on and implemented in a narrow window of time each year.
By not holding a contest in 2020, we will be able to move away from making piecemeal changes. Instead, we will have the opportunity to take a proper amount of time to build an awards program and process – whether it’s a revamped RITA contest or something entirely new – that celebrates and elevates the best in our genre. We plan on engaging a consultant who specializes in awards programs and a DEI consultant, as well as soliciting member input.
Members who entered the 2020 contest will be refunded their full entry fee by January 22, 2020. We extend our deep appreciation to the judges who volunteered their time this year.
(2) LEADING WORKSHOPS. Cat Rambo’s “Nink Knowledge: How to Grow Voices ~ The Subtle Art of Facilitating Workshops” is the featured article for January at Novelists, Inc.
When leading a discussion, don’t be afraid to go with the flow. Sometimes the oddest questions may be the most fruitful, or those questions may lead to additions for the future, sometimes even inspiring entirely new classes. The question of how to maintain a fruitful writing practice in the face of increasingly grey times, for example, led to a class on hopepunk that has become one of my favorites to teach and one which was even referenced in a Wall Street Journal article on the subgenre.
(3) MUTATIS MUTANDI. A trailer for The New Mutants has dropped. Film comes to theaters April 3.
20th Century Fox in association with Marvel Entertainment presents “The New Mutants,” an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive.
(4) PICARD TEASER. The show arrives January 23. Will this be the bait that finally gets me to pay for CBS All-Access?
(5) ALT WORLD PANEL IN LA. The Barnes & Noble story at The Grove in Los Angeles will host “The Man in The High Castle: Creating The Alt World Special Event” on January 8.
Join us when we celebrate “The Man in the High Castle: Creating the Alt World” with our very special panel of guest Mike Avila – author and Emmy award-winning TV producer, Jason O’Mara – Star, “Wyatt Price”, Isa Dick Hackett – Executive Producer, David Scarpa – Co-Showrunner, Drew Boughton – Production Designer.
Discover the alt worlds of The Man in the High Castle with the cast and crew in this exclusive collection of art. Packed with concept art, final designs, and artist commentary plus previously unseen storyboards.
The Man in the High Castle is the hit Amazon series, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s award-winning novel, that offers a glimpse into a chilling alternate timeline in which Hitler was victorious in World War II. In a dystopian America dominated by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Juliana Crain discovers a mysterious film that may hold the key to toppling the totalitarian regimes.
This is a panel discussion and signing and will be wristbanded.
A wristband will be issued on a first come, first serve basis to customers who purchase “The Man in The High Castle: Creating The Alt World ” from Barnes & Noble in The Grove beginning January 8th
• Limit 1 wristband per book
• Check Back for more Details as they Become Available
For more information contact Barnes & Noble at The Grove — 189 The Grove Dr, Ste K 30, Los Angeles, California 90036
(6) FREELANCING IN CALIFORNIA. Publishers Lunch for January 2 includes the following: “Legal: California Freelance Law and Authors.”
The Authors Guild has a look at California’s new law AB-5 that requires treating many freelance workers as employees. On the question of whether the law affects book authors, “We were assured by those working on the bill that trade book authors are not covered, and we do not see a basis for disagreeing since the bill clearly states that AB-5 applies only to ‘persons providing labor or services’ and authors provide neither ‘labor’ nor ‘services’ under standard book contracts—they instead grant copyright licenses or assignments. Additionally, royalties—even in the form of advance payments—are not considered wages. It is difficult to imagine how a court would conclude that a typical book contract is for labor or services.”
Some book contracts, though, such as work-made-for-hire agreements and “contracts where the author has ongoing obligations and the publisher has greater editing ability or control over the content” could be subject to the new law, though. And the AG recommends that, “Publishers and authors who want to be certain to retain a freelancer relationship should be careful to make sure the contracts are written as simple license grants and not as services agreements.”
(7) NOT QUITE MAGGIE’S DRAWERS. James Davis Nicoll pointed Tor.com readers at “12 Excellent SFF Books You Might Have Missed in 2019”. Not to brag, but I actually read one of these! The list includes —
Magical Women, edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan
Venkatraghavan delivers an assortment of stories by talented Indian writers. Three elements unite the stories: all are written by women, all are speculative fiction, and all are worth reading. A further element common to many (but not all) is an undercurrent of incandescent fury over the current condition of the world. Taken as a whole, the collection is not quite as upbeat as Jemisin’s Broken Earth series, but the craft of the writers is undeniable.
(8) ANDI SHECHTER. The Andi Shechter Memorial is scheduled for January 11, 2020 in Seattle.
Her friends will be gathering to remember her and share those memories. The memorial will be held in Seattle, at the Magnolia Public Library.
Date: Saturday 11th January, 2020
Noon – 3pm (set-up at 11am, teardown until 4pm)
Please bring light refreshments to share, and note that this is an alcohol-free venue.
At this gathering we will share stories of Andi, honoring her life and fight for disabled access and political advantages for all.
(9) TODAY’S DAY.
Handsel Monday — According to Scottish custom, the first Monday of the new year was the time to give children and servants a small gift, or handsel. Literally something given into the hands of someone else, the gift itself was less important than the good luck it signified. The handsel was popular as a new year’s gift from the 14th to 19th centuries, but it also had a broader application to mark any new situation. It continues today in the form of a housewarming gift to someone moving into a new home.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- January 6, 1973 —Schoolhouse Rock! premiered
- January 6, 1975 — The first episode of The Changes premiered on BBC 1. It was a ten-part series adapting Peter Dickinson’s The Changes YA trilogy (The Weathermonger, Heartsease and The Devil’s Children. (The books were written in reverse order: the events of The Devil’s Children happen first, Heartsease second, and The Weathermonger third). It starred Victoria Williams and Keith Ashton. I find no reporting on it from the time, nor is it rated over at Rotten Tomatoes but that’s typical of these BBC series from this time.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 6, 1895 — Tom Fadden. He’s on the Birthday Honors List for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers where his character was one of the first victims to yield to the invaders. It wasn’t his first SFF role as some thirty years before that role, he would make his Broadway debut as Peter Jekyll in The Wonderful Visit based off the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, who also co-wrote the play. The last role of his that I’ll note was that one of his first television roles was Eben Kent, the man who adopts Kal-El on the first episode of The Adventures of Superman series. (Died 1980.)
- Born January 6, 1905 — Eric Frank Russell. He won the first annual Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 for “Allamagoosa” published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Sinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. What’s your favorite work by him? (Died 1978.)
- Born January 6, 1954 — Anthony Minghella. He adapted his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller scripts into story form which were published in his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller collection. They’re quite excellent actually. (Died 2008.)
- Born January 6, 1955 — Rowan Atkinson, 65. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes another actor although who I’ve not a clue. Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nit pickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates.
- Born January 6, 1958 — Wayne Barlowe, 62. Artist whose Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials that came out in the late Seventies I still remember fondly. It was nominated at Noreascon 2 for a Hugo but came in third with Peter Nichol’s Science Fiction Encyclopedia garnering the Award that year. His background paintings have been used in Galaxy Quest, Babylon 5, John Carter and Pacific Rim to name but a few films.
- Born January 6, 1959 — Ahrvid Engholm, 61. Swedish conrunning and fanzine fan who worked on many Nasacons as well as on Swecons. Founder of the long running Baltcon. He has many fanzines including Vheckans Avfentyr, Fanytt, Multum Est and others. He was a member of Lund Fantasy Fan Society in the University of Lund.
- Born January 6, 1960 — Andrea Thompson, 60. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arliss as it’s not genre. Her noted genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short-lived Monsters anthology series. She had a one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series.
- Born January 6, 1969 — Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a might be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. (Died 2019.)
- Born January 6, 1976 — Guy Adams, 44. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-works, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s written scripts for their Doctor, UNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn literature.
- Born January 6, 1982 — Eddie Redmayne, 38. He portrayed Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He was Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts film series.
- Born January 6, 1984 — Kate McKinnon, 36. Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in that Ghostbusters film. I think her only other genre role to date was voicing various character on Robotomy, a Cartoon Network series. She is Grunhilda in the forthcoming The Lunch Witch film based off the YA novel by Deb Lucke.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Non Sequitur offers an alternate description of the afterlife.
- Frank and Ernest find out the problems the cast of The Wizard of Oz has when looking for work.
(13) FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS WATCH ‘CATS’ ON DRUGS. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan helps readers decide if they’re the audience for this movie: “‘Cats’ the movie is pretty crazy. But you already know that, and you don’t care.”
Having just watched “Cats,” the movie version of the hit musical about something called “Jellicle cats,” it is clear that “Jellicle” must be cat-speak for “wackadoodle.”…
(14) SILENT RADIO. So far as I know, Camestros Felapton is only on beer. But after reading “CATS! An audio-free podcast review!” I plan to follow Abraham Lincoln’s example and ask him to send each of us a barrel.
[Camestros] So let’s start. [in recitative] Did you find this film weird?
[Timothy] Did it give us the frights?
[Susan] Did it run far too long?
[Camestros] Did the cast all wear tights?
[Timothy] Was it bad C-G-I?
[Susan] Was it moving and sad?
[Camestros] Was it ineffably awful and indescribably bad?
[Susan] (take it away Timothy!)
[Timothy -sings] Because the movie of Cats is and the movie is not,
It’s like the movie of Cats can and the movie can not,
It’s not the movie of Cats is but also its not,
While this movie of Cats should and really should not,
And its because the movie of Cats is bad and bad it is not….
(15) FERTILITY PIONEER. BBC makes sure you’ll remember the name of “The female scientist who changed human fertility forever”.
She was the first person to successfully fertilise a human egg in vitro, changing reproductive medicine forever – but few people know her name today.
…As a technician for Harvard fertility expert John Rock, Menkin’s goal was to fertilise an egg outside the human body. This was the first step in Rock’s plan to cure infertility, which remained a scientific mystery to doctors. He particularly wanted to help women who had healthy ovaries but damaged fallopian tubes – the cause of one-fifth of the infertility cases he saw in his clinic.
Usually, Menkin exposed the sperm and egg to each other for around 30 minutes. Not this time. Years later, she recalled what transpired to a reporter: “I was so exhausted and drowsy that, while watching under the microscope how the sperm were frolicking around the egg, I forgot to look at the clock until I suddenly realised that a whole hour had elapsed… In other words, I must admit that my success, after nearly six years of failure, was due – not to a stroke of genius – but simply to cat-napping on the job!”
On Friday, when she came back to the lab, she saw something miraculous: the cells had fused and were now dividing, giving her the world’s first glimpse of a human embryo fertilised in glass.
(16) THE FUTURE IS REDISTRIBUTED. “Wheel.me robot wheels move furniture via voice commands” – a BBC video.
A Norwegian start-up wants to make it possible to rearrange a home’s furniture solely via a voice command or the touch of an app’s button.
To achieve this, Wheel.me has developed the Genius robotic wheels, which attach to the base of tables, chairs and other furnishings.
It is showing off a prototype at the CES tech expo in Las Vegas, where founder Atle Timenes arranged a demo for BBC Click’s Lara Lewington.
(17) HELPFUL SJWC? “CES 2020: Restaurant cat robot meows at dining customers” – let the BBC introduce you.
A robot cat designed to ferry plates of food to restaurant customers has been unveiled at the CES tech expo in Las Vegas.
BellaBot, built by the Chinese firm PuduTech, is one of a number of wacky robotic inventions being shown off at the event this year.
There is also UBTech’s Walker, which can pull yoga poses.
And Charmin’s RollBot. It speeds a roll of toilet paper on demand to bathrooms that have run out of the stuff.
One expert said it was likely that robots exhibited at CES would only continue to get more bizarre in the future.
BellaBot, the table-waiting robot cat, is a service bot with personality.
It updates a previous model that had a more utilitarian design. BellaBot, in contrast, features a screen showing cat-face animations.
It mews when it arrives at tables to encourage customers to pick up their food.
(18) SOUND INVESTMENT. “Audiobooks: the rise and rise of the books you don’t read”.
Audiobooks are having a moment. As they soar in popularity, they are becoming increasingly creative – is the book you listen to now an artform in its own right, asks Clare Thorp.
…Audiobooks are in the midst of a boom, with Deloitte predicting that the global market will grow by 25 per cent in 2020 to US$3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). Compared with physical book sales, audio is the baby of the publishing world, but it is growing up fast. Gone are the days of dusty cassette box-sets and stuffily-read versions of the classics. Now audiobooks draw A-list talent – think Elisabeth Moss reading The Handmaid’s Tale, Meryl Streep narrating Charlotte’s Web or Michelle Obama reading all 19 hours of her own memoir, Becoming. There are hugely ambitious productions using ensemble casts (the audio of George Saunders’ Booker Prize-winning Lincoln in the Bardo features 166 different narrators), specially created soundscapes and technological advances such as surround-sound 3D audio. Some authors are even skipping print and writing exclusive audio content.
…While audiobook sales are up and physical book sales down, it’s not a given that the two things are related. In fact, audio is pulling in new audiences – whether that’s listeners who don’t usually buy books, or readers listening to genres in audio format that they wouldn’t pick up in print.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Is that Emperor Palpatine on an air guitar, or a Force guitar?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Darrah Chavey, James Davis Nicoll, Michael J. Walsh, Peace Is My Middle Name, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]