(1) JEMISIN’S LATEST MILESTONE. [Item by Rob Thornton.] N.K. Jemisin received an interesting present for Christmas when she learned that The City We Became was chosen as a Book Of The Month.
(2) AWARDED SFF BY POC. [Item by Eric Wong.] Rocket Stack Rank’s annual Outstanding SF/F by People of Color 2019, with 67 stories by 60 authors that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.
Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.
- 44 are free online (highlighted in default view), 21 have podcasts.
- Among publications, Uncanny, Tor.com and Tor Novellas have the most here with 5 stories each (22% total).
- Among authors, Ted Chiang and E. Lily Yu each have 3 stories here, followed by Shweta Adhyam, Tobias S. Buckell, and Rivers Solomon with 2 each.
- Stories by People of Color make up 29% of SF/F awards finalists with 29 stories out of 99 award-finalist stories from the 2019 Best SF/F. Nine stories won awards in their respective categories.
- These stories did about the same, at 26%, among “year’s best” anthologies with 32 stories out of 122 anthology-included stories from the 2019 Best SF/F. Jonathan Strahan’s anthology has 12 stories listed here, followed by the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy anthology (11).
- These stories did the worst, at 25%, among prolific reviewers with 26 stories out of 105 award-worthy stories from the 2019 Best SF/F. A.C. Wise thought 11 of the 26 were award-worthy, followed by Gary Tognetti who thought 10 were award-worthy.
- As for RSR, we recommended 11 stories (3 award worthy), were neutral on 18 stories, recommended against 13 stories, and did not review 25 (view by RSR rating).
(3) CALL FOR REVIEWERS. If you’re interested in reviewing PDFs of either of these for File 770, contact me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com.
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RIVERS OF LONDON BODY WORKS DELUXE WRITERS’ EDITION
CSI meets Harry Potter in this fantastic DELUXE WRITERS’ EDITION graphic novel from Ben Aaronovitch, writer of the bestselling Rivers of London supernatural police procedural crime novel series! Presents the full script of the graphic novel along with the unlettered, full-color artwork, allowing the reader to read the original script and see the artwork side-by-side.
(4) EXTRA SPACE FOR DOOHAN’S ASHES. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Richard Garriott smuggled James Doohan’s ashes onto the International Space Station during his 2012 and is revealing it now.“Ashes of Star Trek’s Scotty smuggled on to International Space Station” in The Times (UK).
As one of Star Trek’s most beloved characters, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott spent a lifetime exploring the galaxy on the USS Enterprise, boldly going beyond the final frontier.
Now it can be revealed that in death the actor who played the starship’s chief engineer has travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times, after his ashes were hidden secretly on the International Space Station.
A note. In 2012, it was also announced that some of James Doohan’s ashes were being launched into space on a Falcon 9 flight that would put them in orbit for about two years. That was known, but not the same as Richard Garriott carrying his ashes aboard a Soyuz to place them on the ISS, which was not previously known.
(5) WW84 REVIEW. Here’s Leonard Maltin’s take on “WW84 (WONDER WOMAN 1984)” — BEWARE SPOILERS.
WW84 starts on a promising note, taking a page from the Superman playbook: Wonder Woman sweeps into a shopping mall and dispatches a gang of crooks while saving imperiled children, even sharing a knowing wink with one of them. It’s a moment of pure fun that leaves you with a smile on your face and shows our heroine actually enjoying her superpowers.
From that point on, the movie struggles to be relevant and serious, but in a superficial, cartoony way. It drones on for two and a half hours but it hasn’t got a lot to say, and sputters whenever it’s trying to convey a message. A prologue on Paradise Island only makes one wish they made more use of that setting and its strong female characters….
(6) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. Complex sets the scene in “Mark Hamill Clowns Space Force for Copying Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek'”.
…Responding to a tweet from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, Hamill laid out the full extent of the Space Force’s thievery.
(7) BIG GAME HUNTER. Camestros Felapton continues to assist Hugo voters with a new compilation of possible nominees: “Thirteen Notable Video Games of 2020 (maybe?)”
The other week I linked to a few “best of…” lists for 2020. On Twitter, Hampus also suggested another round-up source here https://www.cbr.com/best-video-games-2020/ I’ve since collated those lists along with the video games already listed on the Hugo Sheet of Doom. I’ll confess that I have taken a scattershot approach to deciding whether games are SFF or not. It isn’t always easy! Does a historical game count as alternate-history if you can reshape events (eg Crusader Kings III)? Is Call of Duty SFF because there is a zombie option? I don’t know!
(8) GUNN OBIT. SFWA Grand Master James Gunn died December 23. Colleague Kij Johnson has a tribute: “With great sadness”.
This morning, James Gunn passed on at the age of 97. We’re not sure of what, but it probably was congestive heart failure. He went into the ER on Saturday morning, where they were not able to regulate his heartbeat. There will be official announcements and eventually a memorial.
One of many Gunn profiles is here at The Hollywood Reporter.
Gunn’s leadership in the field of sff studies at the University of Kansas is commemorated by the Center there that bears his name. His academic work included a series of filmed interviews with leading creators in 1970, including Rod Serling.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
- In 1958 at Solacon held at South Gate, California, Fritz Leiber would win the first of ten Hugos that he would garner to date (counting Retros), for The Big Time. The Big Time was published originally in Galaxy Magazine‘s March and April 1958 issues as illustrated by Virgil Finlay who has multiple Retro Hugos as an artist. In 2012, it was selected for inclusion in the Library of America’s two-volume American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born December 25, 1890 – Robert Ripley. Dropping out of high school to help his family after his father’s death, he worked as a cartoonist, invented Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and became world-famous. Said he documented everything. Invited readers’ contributions, was read by eighty million, may have received more mail than the U.S. President. Short cinema features, radio, television, visited 200 countries. When R noted that in fact the U.S. had no national anthem, John Philip Sousa applauded “The Star-Spangled Banner” – which everyone had been singing – and it was finally adopted. Also NY State handball champion. Not in touch with us during his life (though he did interview Maud Baum) – he didn’t want fiction; the continuing R enterprise runs museums, publishes books: in RBI (R’s Bu. of Investigation) #2 The Dragon’s Teeth teen agents have special gifts. (Died 1949) [JH]
- Born December 25, 1915 – Dora Pantell. Teacher, author of textbooks and manuals (many on English as a second language), she continued the Miss Pickerell books of Ellen MacGregor (1906-1954) about a New England spinster (as such were known until quite recently) with a good mind who takes technological adventures and applies science. EM left copious notes, DP wrote a dozen Pickerell books (MP on the Moon, MP and the Weather Satellite) and as many shorter stories. (Died 1996) [JH]
- Born December 25, 1924 — Rod Serling. Best remembered for the original and certainly superior Twilight Zone and Night Gallery with the former winning an impressive three Hugos. He’s also the screenwriter or a co-screenwriter for Seven Days in May, a very scary film indeed, as well as The New People series, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Town Has Turned to Dust, UFOs: Past, Present, and Future and Planet of the Apes. ISDB lists a lot of published scripts and stories by him. (Died 1975.) (CE)
- Born December 25, 1928 — Dick Miller. He’s appeared in over a hundred films including every film directed by Joe Dante. You’ve seen him in both Gremlins, The Little Shop of Horrors, Terminator, The Howling, Small Soldiers, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Amazon Women on the Moon, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm where he voiced the gravelly voiced Chuckie Sol and Oberon in the excellent “The Ties That Bind” episode of Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2019.) (CE)
- Born December 25, 1939 — Royce D. Applegate. His best known role was that of Chief Petty Officer Manilow Crocker on the first season of seaQuest DSV. He’s got appearances in Quantum Leap, Twin Peaks (where he played Rev. Clarence Brocklehurst), Tales of the Unexpected and Supertrain. (Died 2003.) (CE)
- Born December 25, 1945 — Rick Berman, 75. Loved and loathed in equal measures, he’s known for his work as the executive producer of Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise which he co-created with Brannon Braga. He’d be lead producer on the four Next Generation films: Generations, First Contact (which I like), Insurrection and Nemesis. (CE)
- Born December 25, 1947 – Bill Fesselmeyer. Active U.S. Midwest fan, worked on MidAmeriCon I the 34th Worldcon, satirized our Worldcon Business Meetings – so hard that we don’t always do them well – in “How the Grinch Stole Worldcon”, as you can read here, thanks again to Leah Zeldes Smith. Earned a barony in the Society for Creative Anachronism. With wife Sherry, Fan Guests of Honor at BYOB-Con 7. (Died 1984) [JH]
- Born December 25, 1948 –Kathleen Meyer. Chaired Windycon XI-XII and XV; Fan Guest of Honor at Capricon 8. Ran Membership Services at Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon; chaired Chicon V the 49th; survived to run Events at Chicon 2000 the 58th. Twenty-five years Treasurer of parent ISFiC (Illinois SF in Chicago). I knew her, Horatio. (Died 2016) [JH]
- Born December 25, 1952 — CCH Pounder, 68. She’s had one very juicy voice role running through the DC Universe from since Justice League Unlimited in 2006. If you’ve not heard her do this role, it worth seeing the animated Assault on Arkham Asylum which is far superior to the live action Suicide Squad film to hear her character. She also had a recurring role as Mrs. Irene Frederic on Warehouse 13 as well. She’s also been in X-Files, Quantum Leap, White Dwarf (horrid series), Gargoyles, Millennium, House of Frankenstein and Outer Limits. Film-wise, she shows up in Robocop 3, Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and several of the forthcoming Avatar films. (CE)
- Born December 25, 1969 – Holly Phillips, age 51. Reared in Trail and other small towns in British Columbia. Sunburst Award for collection In the Palace of Repose. Anthology Tesseracts 11 with Cory Doctorow. Two novels, three dozen shorter stories, half a dozen poems. “As weird as I try to make my fiction, it’s never as weird as the real world.” [JH]
- Born December 25, 1969 – Christopher Rowe, age 51. Three novels, thirty shorter stories. Co-author of Wild Cards 25, entitled Low Chicago. Extended chapbook Say…. into a small-press magazine for five years. Has read The Last Great Walk, Lolita, two Jane Austen novels, one Dickens and one Dumas, The Hunt for “Red October”, one Shakespeare. Website. [JH]
- Born December 25, 1984 — Georgia Moffett, 36. She’s the daughter of actor Peter Davison, the man who was Fifth Doctor and she’s married to David Tennant who was the Tenth Doctor. She played opposite the Tenth Doctor as Jenny in “The Doctor’s Daughter” and in she voiced ‘Cassie’ in the animated Doctor Who: Dreamland which is now on iTunes and Amazon. And yes she’s in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot as herself. (CE)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- The Argyle Sweater has some biting humor appropriate to the day.
(12) UNDERSTANDING THE CRIMINAL MIND. Amanda Weaver finds the motive lacking for two recent newsmaking capers.
(13) GOLDEN GLOBES CHALLENGED. Although the specific film at issue is not genre, File 770 does follow the Golden Globes, and this eligibility question is of interest. “Golden Globes: What the HFPA Needs to Do to Fix the ‘Minari’ Debacle” in Variety.
The Hollywood Foreign Press has come under fire again for the rule that disallows “Minari,” the story of a Korean immigrant family struggling to build a better life in Arkansas, from competing in the Golden Globes race for best drama or musical/comedy. As the entertainment industry faces pressure to become more diverse and inclusive, both in the stories it tells and in terms of the actors and filmmakers it champions, the HFPA should have foreseen the outcry from Hollywood.
The rules around Golden Globes eligibility for best picture categories are outdated and need to be overhauled — fast.
“Minari,” which stars an American, is directed by an American and produced, financed, and distributed by U.S. companies, is ineligible in the best picture categories and must compete in the foreign language category. The problem was also faced by last year by “The Farewell,” Lulu Wang’s acclaimed dramedy, in 2019, which, like “Minari,” was forced into the foreign language race and excluded from competing for the Globes’ top prizes.
(14) SEEING VS. BELIEVING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the December 19 Financial Times, Raphael Abraham interviews Soul director Pete Docter about how the Pixar crew filming Soul discussed how to depict a soul.
Having consulted clinical psychologists for Inside Out, which made manifest a teenage girl’s emotional inner workings, this time Docter and his team turned to spiritual advisers for guidance ‘We did a lot of research, talking with priests and rabbis, looking at Hinduism, Buddhism, all sorts of different traditions to see what they could teach about the nature of the soul,’ he says. However, when it came to visual representation, they came to a dead end, ‘Largely, it was not too helpful because it said they’re non-visible. And we thought: well, great, but we’ve got to film something!’
Looking within themselves instead, the animators devised a solution that has the film flirting with abstraction as the action moves from the temporal world to the ethereal landscapes of ‘The Great Beyond,’ ‘The Great Before,’ and the ‘Counsellors’ who inhabit them.
Here they turned to art history for inspiration. ‘We looked at a lot of modernist sculpture, Picasso wire sculptures, Alexander Calder. We thought of the Counsellors as the universe dumbing itself down so that the humans and souls could understand it.’
(15) READ BEFORE YOU WRAP. Have you been influenced by any of these “20 Traditional Gift-Giving Superstitions” listed by Mental Floss?
In Sicily, it’s said you should never give a gift in the shape of a cat to someone who is engaged to be married, as this foretells sudden and violent death. However, in other cultures, if your partner gives you an actual cat as a present, it means you will never be parted.
(16) GHASTLY IMAGININGS OF THE SEASON. Dean Koontz’ holiday newsletter (available to subscribers) begins —
Tis the season to be jolly. That’s better than a season to be angry and mean. However, I find something unsettling about too much jolliness, especially when the jolly one is a snowman that has been brought to life by the magic in “an old black hat.” Whose hat was it? Huh? Did it belong to a serial killer, and did he die wearing it, and is his hideous, corrupted soul in that hat?
Frosty’s button nose is okay, but I’m creeped out by those two eyes made out of coal. We can often read other people’s intentions in their eyes, but NOT IN EYES MADE OUT OF COAL! The teeth in his grin are made of coal, too, and he’s always grinning, which suggests he’s psychotic…
(17) YESTERDAY’S MEDIA BIRTHDAY. This one is too good to skip. On December 24, 1916 the silent film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, directed and written by Stuart Paton, premiered. Starring Allen Holubar and Jane Gail, Carl Laemmle, later to be founder of what would become Universal Pictures, produced it. Paton used most of Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea novel and elements of Mysterious Island as well. Yes it’s in the National Film Registry as it should be. Indeed it was a box office success as it made eight million on a budget of two hundred thousand. You can watch it here.
(18) A DIY PROJECT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE A ZILLION DOLLAR LAB. Left over from Gizmodo’s 2019 “Fake Week” but news to me — “How to Make a Black Hole in a Science Lab”.
… “Black hole radiation is one of the perhaps most peculiar processes,” Weinfurtner told Gizmodo. Thanks to her experiment, “you can reproduce this process in the lab.”
More complex dumb holes followed; Weinfurtner eventually went on to lead her own group, now at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, which devised a black hole analog from a vortex produced by a draining, rotating fluid. The vortex amplified waves traveling over the liquid that bounced into it, and the experiment became a first observation of a process called superradiance in the lab—an analogy to the Penrose process, where spinning black holes turbocharge the particles in the space around them….
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Polar Express Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains the premise of The Polar Express is that when a kid “gets into a stranger’s vehicle in the middle of the night, his life is going to change,” but don’t worry, the vehicle is The Polar Express, so this is supposed to be a fun Christmas movie, even if the motion-capture animation leads to “dead eye characters and uncanny valley vibes.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Eric Wong, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anne Sheller.]