(1) NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 58TH NEBULA AWARDS. Full, Associate, and Senior members of SFWA are eligible to submit a nomination ballot for the Nebula Awards. Nominations may be cast online or by post. Ballots must be received by February 28, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.
(2) CHECKING ON WOOSTER CASE. File 770 followed up with Virginia authorities about the WAVY report on the death of Martin Morse Wooster, “State Police ID suspect in York County hit-and-run”.
Sergeant Michelle Anaya of the Virginia State Police replied, “In reference to your email…. An arrest has not been made, still under investigation.”
(3) ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER. “Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and dozens of other famous authors shared stories of their worst book signing disasters to comfort an up-and-coming author” at Yahoo!
For debut author Chelsea Banning, an ill-attended book signing may have turned out to be a big break.
Banning, whose debut book is titled “Of Crowns and Legends” – a fantasy novel following two of King Arthur’s twins as war looms – vented on Twitter yesterday about her first-ever signing event. She shared that while 37 people had RSVP’d, only two showed up. “Kind of upset, honestly,” the Ohio-based librarian tweeted, “and a little embarrassed.”
It was a sentiment that resonated with writers of all sizes and genres, inspiring some of literature’s most prominent names – including Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Cheryl Strayed, and Margaret Atwood – to share their own humbling experiences of book signings gone awry.
“Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for ‘Good Omens’ that nobody came to at all,” wrote Gaiman. “So you are two up on us.”
“I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach…and ask me where the bathroom is,” added Picoult.
“Join the club,” said Atwood. “I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help.”…
(4) THEY’RE HISTORY. James Davis Nicoll extols “Five Cold War Classics in Which the U.S. Has Been Toppled” at Tor.com.
Some of you might find the concept of hostility between different modes of government (such as those of, say, the US and Russia) as outdated as Ottoman and Hapsburg rivalries. But back in the day, the Cold War was a source of inspiration to many SF authors. A number of authors speculated as to what would happen if the US government were subverted or overturned by conquest. Too bizarre to contemplate? Not so, as these five Cold War classics show.
First on his list is this most ingenious choice –
The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley (1955)
The Grand Duchy of Fenwick is an unlikely world power, being as it is a low-population, land-locked pocket kingdom whose meagre economy is dependent on the export of a single luxury product, Pinot Grand Fenwick. The Grand Duchy’s bold scheme depends on their weakness….
(5) RELEASE PARTY FOR APEX 2021. Space Cowboy Books will host an online interview with Apex Magazine editors Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.
With stories by Alix E. Harrow, Sam J. Miller, Sheree Renée Thomas, Cassandra Khaw, and many more, Apex Magazine 2021 is a collection of darkly beautiful tales appearing originally in Apex Magazine January-December 2021. From a spaceship in the far-flung reaches of space to a cozy living room where a detective interviews a killer, this anthology explores the good and the ugly. It dissects what makes us human versus what makes us monsters.
Within these pages, you will meet a golem that doesn’t know how to save its family, a group of robots debating whether they are alive, and a woman striving for that social media-perfect life. From parasitic twins to a hospital dreamscape, to a town full of people wearing masks, this anthology will take you on journeys you never could have expected.
Come with us and discover the 48 surreal, strange, shocking, and beautiful stories in Apex Magazine 2021.
(6) YOUR AI CO-CREATOR. Andrew Mayne discusses the broader implications of “Collaborative Creative Writing with OpenAI’s ChatGPT”. Daniel Dern pundits, “This is what happens when ChatBots spend too much time playing Colossal Cave (aka ‘Adventure’).”
tl;dr: You can use OpenAI’s ChatGPT to bounce ideas around and write story outlines
Since I got into the field of AI and started working at OpenAI, it’s been interesting to see how things have accelerated. As an author, I’m frequently asked if AI will replace writers altogether. My personal take is that while AI may begin to do more creative writing and produce content on par with humans, it can never replace the fact that we often like what we like, not because of some objective measure, but because of the story of the person who wrote it. A lot of the things we like are because the person who created them is interesting. I like reading Stephen King books because they’re quite good and I find Stephen King fascinating. While an AI might be able to produce a song on the same level as Billie Eillish, it won’t have the same compelling personal journey as she does.
The future looks like it’s going to be a mixture of human and AI content. Some of it will be created by AI and where we care only about its objective value, some by humans where their personal narrative adds meaning and then content that’s collaboratively produced by creative humans and clever AI – which will mix together the best of both worlds….
(7) QUARK AND THE BARD. The Antaeus Theatre Company offers “Masterclass: Shakespeare’s Rhetoric with Armin Shimerman” on January 21 from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Pacific. Are you not intrigued?
Join Armin Shimerman on January 21, 2023, as he delves into Shakespeare’s style and the different literary devices and strategies used in Shakespeare’s plays. Students will leave the two and a half hour Masterclass with a better understanding of England as Shakespeare knew it. This Masterclass is intended for actors, directors, students, theater-lovers, and anyone who has ever wanted to learn more about Shakespeare!
Armin Shimerman is a highly regarded actor and is best known to television audiences as Quark, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Plus 80 different Guest Star roles, including Antaeus the Nox on Stargate, Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Judge Hooper on Boston Legal. On Broadway: Threepenny Opera; St. Joan; I Remember Mama, and Broadway. Selected Regional Theater: King Lear (Fool), Road to Mecca (Marius),The Seafarer (Blind Irishman -San Diego Critics Circle Award for Best Actor: San Diego Repertory); Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Merry Wives of Windsor (San Diego Old Globe);Henry V (American Shakespeare Festival) and recently Polonius (Hamlet) and the Porter ( Macbeth) at the Utah Shakespeare festival. For Antaeus, he has taught, acted, and co-directed both the “Crucible” and last year’s production of “Measure for Measure. ”He is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California (USC) where he teaches Shakespeare to Theater BFAs. In addition, he has two novels about the early days of William Shakespeare entitled “Illyria” published and currently on sale with a third due next year. He has given lectures on Shakespeare to thousands of people.
(8) STUFF AND BOOKS. Paul Wells wonders if he’s ready for “The Rideau Centre Indigo Store” which has superseded his familiar local bookstore.
…But how far does Ruis, who’s also said “the days of just browsing bookshelves are behind us,” plan to go? I realized my city would soon get a test case when this sign appeared, at the end of September, in a window of the old Chapters downtown Ottawa flagship store at Rideau and Sussex, now shuttered:
…This sign inspired the excited/doomed feel I’ve come to associate with life in the 21st century. Who wouldn’t want “a brand-new state of the art Indigo store” a stone’s throw from the office? I’m definitely in favour of “everything you love and more,” and I’m not, per se, against “lifestyle products and inspiring displays.” I’ve been spotted inside the odd Williams-Sonoma too, you know. The reference to “a curated assortment of books” did made me wonder. Did that mean, like, six books?
Last night I saw that the brand-new state of the art Indigo store at the Rideau Centre shopping mall, across from the old Chapters, is open. I popped in. Here’s what I found.
… Whew. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit winded after seeing two displays of books in a bookstore. Fortunately, I came upon this oasis, the section where there’s paper without anything written on it….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2002 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden
Today we are going Seussian. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is a sculpture garden in Springfield, Massachusetts that honors Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss. Located at the Quadrangle, a group of cultural buildings in that city.
The Spring Seuss Organisation notes, “Opened in 2002, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden was first envisioned when Ted Geisel visited Springfield in 1986. After his death in 1991, his wife Audrey authorized the creation of the memorial and provided major support for the project. In 1996, Ted’s stepdaughter, noted sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, was selected to make over 30 bronze statues for the Museums’ grounds.”
I of course am going, with the indulgence of Mike, to show you all of them, as they are quite, well, Seussian. We have life-sized bronze statues of the Horton, Grinch and Max, Cat in the Hat, Yertle the Turtle, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Lorax—and the author himself.
The first is Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat, titled Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat: The title character of The Cat in the Hat standing alongside Dr. Seuss at his desk.
The Storyteller: A chair placed in front of a 10-foot-tall book with the text of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the title character from Gertrude McFuzz, and beside it, the Grinch and his dog, Max.
This one is called Horton Court with Horton the Elephant from Horton Hears a Who! steps out of an open book accompanied by various ancillary characters from other Dr. Seuss stories, including Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat.
The Lorax: The title character from The Lorax stands on a tree stump with the book’s refrain: Unless… Unlike the rest of these, this statue is located in front of the Springfield Science Museum.
And finally, Yertle the Turtle: a 10-foot-tall tower of turtles, from Yertle the Turtle, which introduces visitors to the Quadrangle from the arch on Chestnut Street. The troll from my previous post would be proud of these I think as I think they look like troll companions.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. I saw Metropolis in one of those art cinemas in Seattle in the late Seventies. It’s most excellent I think. (Died 1976.)
- Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney. With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi, Cinderella and Mary Poppins, the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT). I’ll pick Fantasia as my favorite film that he’s responsible for though I’m also very fond of Cinderella and Mary Poppins. (Died 1966.)
- Born December 5, 1921 — Alvy Moore. He shows up first in a genre role uncredited as Zippy in The War of the Worlds. (He was also uncredited in The Girls of Pleasure Island that same year.) He’s again uncredited, as a scientist this time, in The Invisible Boy (aka S.O.S Spaceship) and The Gnome-Mobile saw his continue that streak as a Gas Mechanic. The Brotherhood of Satan saw him get a credit role as did The Witchmaker, both all budget horror films. He’s listed as having co-written and produced, along with LQ Jones, A Boy and His Dog, the Ellison originated film. (Died 1997.)
- Born December 5, 1951 — Susan Palermo-Piscatello. SF Site in its obit said that she was “was active in fandom in the early 1970s, taking pictures that appeared in The Monster Times and working for the company that brought Japanese monster films, including Battle for the Planets and Time of the Apes to the US. She was among the first bartenders at CBGB and was in the band Cheap Perfume. She had recently returned to fandom after several years of gafiation.” (Died 2011.)
- Born December 5, 1951 — Betsy Wollheim, 71. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award at Chicon 7 for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction.
- Born December 5, 1961 — Nicholas Jainschigg, 61. Teacher, Artist and Illustrator. He began his career by doing covers and interior art for Asimov’s and Analog magazines, then progressed to covers for books and other magazines, eventually providing art for Wizards of the Coast gaming materials and for Marvel and DC Comics. As an Associate Professor for the Rhode Island School of Design, his private work these days is mainly in animations, interactive illustration, painting in oils, and paleontological reconstructions in murals and dioramas.
- Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 49. Her unpleasant fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries of such things of cringe-causing violence. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures.
(11) LANGUAGE TRUE OR FALSE. Would you say these verb choices are consistent American English idioms? When telling about a movie — “I saw The Fabelmans”. But about a TV show – “I watched Saturday Night Live”. Saw a movie versus watched something on TV.
(12) COLD AS MICE. Are we getting close to the point where something like human hibernation could make space travel easier? WIRED presents “The Hibernator’s Guide to the Galaxy”.
One day in 1992, near the northern pole of a planet hurtling around the Milky Way at roughly 500,000 miles per hour, Kelly Drew was busy examining some salmon brains in a lab. Her concentration was broken when Brian Barnes, a zoophysiology professor from down the hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, popped by her bench for a visit. With a mischievous grin, he asked Drew—a neuropharmacologist early in her career—to hold out her hands and prepare for a surprise. A moment later, she felt a hard, furry lump deposited in her palms. It was some sort of brown rodent with dagger-like claws, curled up into a tight ball and so cold to the touch that Drew assumed it was dead. To her astonishment, Barnes gleefully explained that it was actually in perfect health.
An Arctic ground squirrel—the most extreme hibernator on the planet—can spend up to eight months a year in a torpid state.
The creature, an Arctic ground squirrel, was just hibernating, as it does for up to eight months of the year. During that span, the animal’s internal temperature falls to below 27 degrees Fahrenheit, literally as cold as ice. Its brain waves become so faint that they’re nearly impossible to detect, and its heart beats as little as once per minute. Yet the squirrel remains very much alive. And when spring comes, it can elevate its temperature back to 98.6 degrees in a couple of hours.
Drew cradled the unresponsive critter in her hands, unable to detect even the faintest signs of life. What’s going on inside this animal’s brain that allows it to survive like this? she wondered. And with that question, she began to burrow into a mystery that would carry her decades into the future….
(13) SFWA INDIE AUTHOR TOWN HALL. SFWA’s Independent Authors Committee held a town hall on November 10. Video of the event is now online.
Kelly McClymer and John Wilker, members of the SFWA Independent Authors Committee, were joined by Emily Mah, SFWA Editorial Director, to take the temperature of the attending indie author community on hurdles they deal with regarding online retailers. The feedback provided during this town hall will be used by the committee to help direct future advocacy work for SFF independent authors.
(14) PRESENT SHORTLY AFTER THE CREATION. From Library of America, “Story of the Week: Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain, first published in 1905.
…For I do love moons, they are so pretty and so romantic. I wish we had five or six; I would never go to bed; I should never get tired lying on the moss-bank and looking up at them.
Stars are good, too. I wish I could get some to put in my hair. But I suppose I never can. You would be surprised to find how far off they are, for they do not look it. When they first showed, last night, I tried to knock some down with a pole, but it didn’t reach, which astonished me; then I tried clods till I was all tired out, but I never got one. It was because I am left-handed and cannot throw good. Even when I aimed at the one I wasn’t after I couldn’t hit the other one, though I did make some close shots, for I saw the black blot of the clod sail right into the midst of the golden clusters forty or fifty times, just barely missing them, and if I could have held out a little longer maybe I could have got one….
(15) HAILING FREQUENCY. “’Are we alone in the universe?’: work begins in Western Australia on world’s most powerful radio telescopes” reports the Guardian.
Construction of the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Square Kilometre Array, has officially begun in Australia after three decades in development.
A huge intergovernmental effort, the SKA has been hailed as one of the biggest scientific projects of this century. It will enable scientists to look back to early in the history of the universe when the first stars and galaxies were formed. It will also be used to investigate dark energy and why the universe is expanding, and to potentially search for extraterrestrial life.
The SKA will initially involve two telescope arrays – one on Wajarri country in remote Western Australia, called SKA-Low, comprising 131,072 tree-like antennas.
SKA-Low is so named for its sensitivity to low-frequency radio signals. It will be eight times as sensitive than existing comparable telescopes and will map the sky 135 times faster.
A second array of 197 traditional dishes, SKA-Mid, will be built in South Africa’s Karoo region….
(16) VERTICAL TAKEOFF. Has somebody been watching too many Marvel movies? “Flying Aircraft Carrier: The U.S. Navy’s Next Game Changer?” at MSN.com. Perhaps not. As you’ll discover when you read the article, the author doesn’t really think they’re feasible at all. Still, it’s an entertaining thought experiment with lots of lovely photos of aircraft carriers if that kind of thing floats your boat.
…. Let’s simply assume a flying aircraft carrier could be built. Would such a platform actually serve any purpose? First, it would be extremely dangerous. Even if it weren’t nuclear-powered, it is doubtful most nations would want it to fly overhead. A vessel the size of even a light carrier crashing down on a population center would result in the deaths of tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover, it would require not only the aforementioned purpose-built construction facility but specialized bases able to accommodate it. It is doubtful even if it were nuclear powered that it could remain aloft indefinitely so there would need to be special landing strips and the ground infrastructure to support/reequip it….
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games brutally begins “Honest Game Trailers: Marvel Snap” — “If you’re too dumb for Magic the Gathering too good for Hearthstone and not insane enough for Yu-Gi-Oh now there’s a collectible card game for you.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, StephenfromOttawa, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]