(1) John Picacio’s thoughts about “The New World Fantasy Award: What’s Next”.
- THE FIRST QUESTION NEEDS TO BE THE RIGHT ONE. In this case, I would offer that the first question should not be, “Hey, World: what do you think this award should look like?” The first question should be, “Who are the best sculptors and who is the sculptor that can best elevate this award toward a new timeless icon? Who can carry this responsibility? Who can take us to a place we could not have imagined on our own?” The same respect that is given to a great novelist should be given to a great sculptor here.
The sculptor of this award needs to be an artist, first and foremost — someone who solves problems, conceives original thoughts, has unique insights, and visually communicates those thoughts, insights, emotions and intangibles into tangible form. If the plan is to take a straw poll of the most popular and familiar symbols and word pictures, or to concoct a preordained vision and then hire some poor sap to carefully sculpt to that prescription, then please hire a pharmacist, not a professional artist. However, the World Fantasy Award can do better than that, and I’m hoping it will. If I were a decision maker in this process, I would be sky-high excited about the amazing creative (and branding) opportunity ahead, and I would be vigorously searching for the right sculptor to cast a new icon, rather than casting a fishing line praying to hook an idea.
(2) Many others continue to discuss what it should look like, including Charles Vess on Facebook (in a public post).
Ari Berk (friend & folklorist) suggested this idea. Going back to the original story that it seems all cultures around the world share: the hand print on the cave wall. “I am here and this is my story”.
(3) Frequent commenter Lis Carey is looking for financial help. Her GoFundMe appeal asks for $3,000, of which $400 has been donated so far.
I’m in a major fix. I don’t have an income right now, but I do have some major expenses. The tenant’s apartment has no heat, and a leaky kitchen sink, and needs a plumber. I have outstanding gas,and electric bills, and water bills for both apartments. I’m looking for work and trying to hold things together, but I’m desperate and need some breathing space. Help!
(4) Sarah Avery delves into some reasons for the success of multi-volume fantasy in “The Series Series: Why Do We Do This To Ourselves? I Can Explain!” at Black Gate. It’s a really good article but not easy to excerpt because it is (unsurprisingly!) long. This will give you a taste, anyway:
I love an ensemble cast. Reading, writing, watching, whatever. In my imaginative life as in my personal life, I’m an extrovert. The struggles of a main character connect with me best when that main character is part of a community. The solution to the existential horror Lovecraft’s protagonists face had always seemed so obvious to me that I’d never articulated it fully, even to myself. The cosmos as a whole doesn’t prefer you over its other components? Of course not. Unimaginably vast forces that would crack your mind open if you let yourself understand them are destroying your world, and you are entirely beneath their notice? Well, that would explain a lot. So what do you do?
You take comfort in the people you love, you go down swinging in their defense, and you live your mammalian values of compassion and connection intensely, as long as it does any good — and then longer, to the last breath, if only in reproof of whatever in the universe stands opposed to them.
Or maybe that isn’t obvious. But I’m pretty sure it’s not just me.
For whatever reason, Lovecraft was not a person, or an author, who could go there.
But the man could write a shorter story than I could. I’ll go to school on anyone who knows something I don’t, including authors who stretch me beyond the bounds of easy sympathy. What could the thing that appeared to me to be a malady in Lovecraft teach me about the gap in my craftsmanship?
First, I tried sharpening the distinction between the main character and the secondary characters. Simplifying the supporting cast, making my protagonist the only one who got to be as vivid and three-dimensional as I prefer for every significant character to be, got me out of novella territory. I could get my stories down to about 10,000 words and still feel that my work hit my own sweet spots.
What about getting the count lower? Magazine editors tend to set their cutoffs at 4,000 words or 7,000 words. What kind of cast size can you fit into that length, and what can you do with it?
I really don’t think you can squeeze in much of a supporting cast, unless those secondary characters are functioning more as props than as people. At most, you can have two realized characters, but that second can only be squeezed in if you’ve got serious writing chops. More characters than that, and you’re down to tricks that, as Elizabeth Bear likes to put it, hack the reader’s neurology: one telling detail that leads the reader to do all the work filling in a character around it. Okay, that’s a cool skill, one worth having, especially if you can do it so that the reader forgets s/he did all the work and remembers the story as if you’d written the character s/he filled in for you. I think I’ve pulled that trick off exactly once. Man, that was strenuous, and not in the ways I find exhilarating.
Avery’s subtopics include “Is It Enough to Call a Novel Community-Driven When It Sprawls across Two Continents, Seven Kingdoms, Three Collapsed Empires, a Passel of Free Cities, and Two Migrating Anarchic Proto-Nations?” Her short answer is, “Nope.”
(5) Mary Robinette Kowal seeks to lock in real progress to keep pace with conversation since the World Fantasy Con with the “SF/F Convention Accessibility Pledge”.
Over the last few years, there have been numerous instances of SF/F conventions failing to provide an accessible experience for their members with disabilities. Though accessibility is the right thing to do, and there are legal reasons for providing it in the US thanks to the 25-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, many conventions continue to have no trained accessibility staff, policies, contact information, or procedures for accommodating their members with disabilities. As Congress said in the opening of the ADA, these “forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem.”
…We the undersigned are making a pledge. Starting in 2017, to give conventions time to fit this into their planning, the following will be required for us to be participants, panelists, or Guests of Honor at a convention:
- The convention has an accessibility statement posted on the website and in the written programs offering specifics about the convention’s disability access.
- The convention has at least one trained accessibility staff member with easy to find contact information. (There are numerous local and national organizations that will help with training.)
- The convention is willing and able to make accommodations for its members as it tries to be as accessible as possible. (We recommend that the convention uses the Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces as a beginning guideline. Other resources include Fans for Accessible Cons, A Guide for Accessible Conferences, and the ADA rules for places of public accommodation, which apply to US conventions.)
Many people have co-signed.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden also observed, “…When you put in the work on these issues, you find out how many people out there have been staying home.”
(6) Michael Kurland’s autobiographical essay “My Life as a Pejorative” is featured on Shots Crime & Thriller Ezine.
At fourteen I discovered mystery stories and couldn’t decide whether I was Rex Stout, Dorothy Sayers or Dashiel Hammett. Or maybe Simon Templar. Not Leslie Charteris, but Simon Templar. How debonaire, how quick-witted, how good looking.
I was 21 when I got out of the Army, enrolled at Columbia University and began hanging out in Greenwich Village. There I fell into bad company: Randall Garrett, Phil Klass (William Tenn), Don Westlake, Harlan Ellison, Bob Silverberg, and assorted other sf and mystery writers. This was my downfall, the start of my slide into genre fiction. I wrote a science fiction novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Chester Anderson, a brilliant poet and prose stylist who taught me much of what I know about writing, and followed that up with The Unicorn Girl, a sequel to Chester’s The Butterfly Kid, a pair of fantasy novels in which the two main characters were ourselves, Chester Anderson and Michael Kurland. These books, and The Probability Pad, a continuation written by my buddy Tom Waters, have become cult classics, known collectively as the Greenwich Village Trilogy, or sometimes The Buttercorn Pad.
(7) Today In History
- November 18, 1963 – Push-button telephones made their debut.
(8) Today’s Birthday Boys and Girls
- Born November 18, 1928: Mickey Mouse
- Born November 18, 1939: Margaret Atwood
- Born November 18, 1962: Sarah A. Hoyt
(9) John Scalzi makes “An Announcement Regarding Award Consideration for 2015 Work of Mine”. He asks people not to nominate him, and in comments indicates he will decline nominations that come his way.
But this year, when it comes to awards, I want to take a break and celebrate the excellent work that other people are doing, and who deserve attention for that work. My year’s already been, well, pretty good, hasn’t it. I’ve had more than enough good fortune from 2015 and I don’t feel like I need right now to ask for another helping…
But for work that was put out in 2015, please look past me. Find the other writers whose work deserves the spotlight you can put on them with your attention, nomination and vote. Find the works that move your heart and your mind. Find the writers whose work you love and who you feel a nomination can help in their careers and their lives. Look past your usual suspects — including me! — and find someone new to you whose stories and effort you can champion to others. Put those people and works on your ballots. 2015 has been genuinely great year for science fiction and fantasy; it won’t be difficult to find deserving work and people for your consideration.
(10) Bigger than your average bomb shelter. “Czech out the Oppidum, the ultimate apocalypse hideaway” at Treehugger.
We do go on about the importance of resilient design, the ability of our buildings to survive in changing times and climates. We are big on repurposing, finding new uses for old buildings. And if the greenest brick is the one already in the wall, then surely the greenest bomb shelter is the one that’s already in the ground. That’s why the Oppidum is such an exciting opportunity; it’s a conversion of a classified secret facility built in 1984 by what were then the governments of Czechoslovakia and The Soviet Union. Now, it is available for use as the ultimate getaway, deep in a valley in the Czech Republic. The developer notes that they don’t make’em like they used to:…
It has a lovely above-grade modestly sized 30,000 square foot residence, which is connected via secret corridor to the two-storey, 77,000 square foot bunker below, which has been stylishly subdivided into one large apartment and six smaller ones for friends, family and staff, all stocked with ten years of supplies.
(11) Former child actor Charles Herbert died October 31 at the age of 66. The New York Times obit lists his well-known roles in movies like The Fly and 13 Ghosts.
Mr. Herbert was supporting his parents by the time he was 5. He appeared in more than 20 films and 50 television episodes, in which he fended off all kinds of adversaries, from a robot to a human fly.
He shared the limelight with Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and James Cagney. He played a blind boy in a memorable episode of “Science Fiction Theater” in 1956, and appeared in a 1962 “Twilight Zone” episode in which a widowed father takes his children to choose an android grandmother.
Q: Who is your favorite animal companion (pet, familiar, etc) in SFF?
A significant number of genre stories features character’s pets or animal companions. From Loiosh of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books to Snuff from Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October to Hedwig from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, animals can be companions, pets, or near equals to their “owners.” Who is/are your favorite(s)?
(13) Bruce Gillespie invites fans to download SF Commentary 90, November 2015 — over 100 contributors and 70,000 words.
- The landscape version is at http://efanzines.com/SFC/SFC90L.pdf.
- The portrait/print version at http://efanzines.com/SFC/SFC90P.pdf.
(14) A Christopher Reeve-worn Superman costume is available for bid until November 19 at 5 p.m. Pacific in a Nate D. Sanders auction.
(15) Heritage Auctions reports a menu from the Titanic fetched a high price in a recently closed auction.
Ironically, the top two lots related to a major disaster and a national tragedy. The first was a first class dinner menu from the last supper on the R.M.S. Titanic, the evening of April 14, 1912. Five salesmen and retailers shared a meal, each signing a menu with their place of residence. Of the five, all but one managed to survive the sinking which occurred in the wee morning hours. We believe this to be the only signed example and the only one from the “last supper”. It sold for $118,750.
The second lot was the license plates from the limo President Kennedy was in when he was shot — which went for $100,000.
(16) And this weekend, Heritage Auctions will take bids on Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern #76, “one of the most important and influential comic books ever published,” as part of the company’s Nov. 19-21 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction where it is expected to bring $300,000+.
Adams’ iconic cover is striking and symbolic. This issue broke more than just the lantern on the cover! Adding Arrow’s name to the title and logo of the book was genius. It created the first “buddy book” in the comic industry… the equivalent to the “buddy movie” genre. It also allowed writer Denny O’Neil to launch into a 13 issue run that dove into political and sociological themes like no comic had before.
(17) Lovecraft’s mug has already been saved from awards obscurity (or permanently guaranteed it, depending on your view) by the administrators of the Counter Currents and the administrators of its H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature. (Which can also be reached using this handy Donotlink link.)
Last year, we at Counter-Currents saw this coming. Thus we have created the Counter-Currents H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature, to be awarded to literary artists of the highest caliber who transgress the boundaries of political correctness. Our first laureate is novelist Tito Perdue, who received the award at a banquet in Atlanta on March 7, 2015.
Wikipedia has an entry on Tito Perdue.
More details about Krafft’s exhibit being pulled by a Whitechapel art gallery from Jewish News:
A fashionable Whitechapel art gallery has pulled the plug on an exhibition by an artist who has been described as a “Holocaust denier” and a “white supremacist,” after complaints and threats were made.
Charles Krafft, who denies both charges, was due to show his work at StolenSpace for the second time, but gallery bosses said they pulled out after receiving “both physical and verbal threats”.
Krafft’s controversial ceramics include busts of Hitler, swastika perfume bottles with the word “forgiveness” emblazoned upon them and plates covered in drawings of Nazi bombings. His work and attributed comments has led to him being labelled a white supremacist, a Nazi sympathiser and a Holocaust denier.
(18) Triple-threat interview with Ken Liu, Lauren Beukes and Tobias S. Buckell at SFFWorld.
Ecotones are the points of transition that occur when two different environments come into contact, and almost inevitably conflict. Can you describe for us an ecotone that has had personal significance for you?
Ken Liu: We’re at a point in our technological evolution where the role played by machines in our cognition is about to change qualitatively. Rather than just acting as “bicycles for the mind,” computers, transformed by ubiquitous networking and presence, will replace important cognitive functions for us at an ever accelerating pace. Much of our memory has already been outsourced to our phones and other devices—and I already see indications that machines will be doing more of our thinking for us. Not since the invention of writing has technology promised to change how we learn and think to such an extent.
The transition between the environment we used to live in and the environment we’re about to live in is going to be exciting as well as threatening, and we’re witnessing one of the greatest transformations in human history.
Tobias Buckell: Last year a deer walked on down through Main Street and then jumped through the window of the local downtown bar. They got it on security camera.
Lauren Beukes: The shared reality of overlapping worlds I live through every day – the schism in experience between rich and poor where everything works differently, from criminal justice to the food you eat, how you get to work, schooling, the day-to-day you have to navigate.
I saw this most clearly and devastatingly when I tried to help my cleaning lady get justice for the scumbag who fatally assaulted her daughter. The cops didn’t care. The hospital put it down as “natural causes”. The prosecutor had to throw the case out because there was so little evidence. This compared to an incident when a friend’s motorbike was stolen at night in the nice suburbs and five cops ended up on his balcony drinking tea, having recovered the vehicle.
(19) Sarah Chorn at Bookworm Blues wonders if her conflict of interest should bar her from reviewing two books.
I feel pretty weird about doing this, but I also think it has to be done. This year I was a beta reader for two books that are currently published (a few more that have upcoming publication dates). I have struggled a little bit with how to approach these novels. While I feel obligated to review them (and I want to review them), I feel like being a beta reader for them takes my objectivity out of it, which is a problem for me. Is it really a review if I can’t objectively judge it?
Am I pondering my navel?
I’m surprised her desire to ask the question didn’t lead to a built-in answer.
(20) The Ant-Man Gag Reel has a few bloopers, though it’s not all that funny.
(21) Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 2 premieres January 5 on ABC.
[Thanks to Kate Savage, Will R., Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]