(1) 2022 #BLACKSPECFIC. FIYAH has posted the 2022 #BlackSpecFic Report, an examination of the state of representation of Black authors within the speculative short fiction market published in 2021. This report was composed by L. D. Lewis and Nelson Rolon with sponsor support from the Carl Brandon Society, Diabolical Plots, and CatStone Books.
In the report, “a market is considered “successful” with regard to its publication of Black authors if their percentages are within 2% of the U.S. census reported Black population (13.6%)” —
- Of the 23 pro and semipro markets examined in all 2015-2017 studies, 11 showed an increase in publishing works by Black authors relative to their respective outputs.
- While Black editors of short speculative fiction continue to represent a small portion of the field, nearly all of the surveyed markets who host a Black owner, editor, or guest editor made the “Most Successful (without reprints)” list. And those four publications (Anathema, Fantasy Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine) are responsible for 25.4% of the entire field’s Black-authored works.
The next report is slated for 2025.
(2) AUTHORS NOT GETTING PAID. In the Guardian, Joanne Harris states “Horribly low pay is pushing out my fellow authors – and yes, that really does matter”, and goes on to spotlight how bad things are.
…We arrive at what we imagined would be the creative heart of an industry, but it turns out to be a room full of slot machines. Some of us are lucky enough to feed the right slot at the right time and hit jackpots of varying sizes. Others bring their own luck to the room – they can afford to feed the slots regardless of what they get in return. But what about everyone else? Who can honestly afford to stay?
The trouble with luck is that it is not a reliable foundation for a profession. Nor is it a reliable way to run an industry. Yet here we are.
When the ALCS first ran its survey of author incomes in 2006 it found that the median self-employed income of a full-time author was £12,330. In 2022 – a year in which multiple publishers have posted record profits while freelancers in all professions are still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and rising living costs – the median full-time income has fallen to £7,000. That’s a drop of more than 60% when accounting for inflation.
There is also a more worrying, granular luck at play. The gender pay gap is getting worse – men earn 41% more than women (compared with 33% five years ago). Payment for Black and mixed-heritage authors is a full 51% lower than for white authors. Young authors earn less, as do older ones. Fewer authors than ever are receiving advances…
(3) LOCUS INDIEGOGO AT 82%. With 8 days to go, the Locus Magazine Indiegogo appeal has raised $61,790 of its $75,000 goal.
(4) AMAZING KICKSTARTER FALLS SHORT. Despite attracting contributions from 114 backers, the Amazing Stories Kickstarter failed reports publisher Kermit Woodall. Only $3,330 was pledged towards the $13,000 goal.
I’m afraid Amazing Stories failed to meet its Kickstarter goal. This means the SOL SYSTEM issue won’t be coming out as planned. Kickstarter won’t take pledge money from backers. No worries!
We do still plan to have an online convention, I can’t promise all the same writers will attend, but it will be different and possibly better! More news as that develops.
…The special SOL SYSTEM issue won’t happen.
(5) GENRE ON STRIKE. The call is out for authors and readers to join the HarperCollins picket line on December 16. (Via John Scalzi.)
(6) IN COLLABORATION. “I See, Therefore You Are: PW Talks with Robert Lanza and Nancy Kress”, a Publishers Weekly Q&A.
Scientist Lanza conveys his theory that “the universe springs from life, not the other way around” in Observer (Story Plant, Jan.), a thriller coauthored with Kress.
How did you come to develop your theory of biocentrism?
Lanza: It goes back to when I was a young boy, when I used to explore the forests of eastern Massachusetts. I was observing nature and pondering the larger existential questions, and it occurred to me that the static objective view of reality that I was being taught just wasn’t right. The Nobel Prize was just awarded just a few months ago to three gentlemen whose experiments showed that entangled particles change behavior depending on whether you look at them or not. Why? The answer is that that reality is a process that involves our consciousness.
How did this partnership begin?
Kress: Our agent put us together, because Bob, who’s published several nonfiction books on biocentrism, wanted to embody his ideas in a novel.
I was intrigued by the project from the very beginning because I have always thought that consciousness is woven into the universe. What we wanted to write together was about how these ideas might inform a possible future. And we worked until we got something we were both happy with….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2019 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Rudyard Kipling statue
So today is we’re looking at a quite new statue, that of Rudyard Kipling which unveiled in Burwash just three years ago. Kipling as you know did The Jungle Booksand The Just Stories, plus two true pieces of SF in his Aerial Board of Control series, With the Night Mail and As Easy as A.B.C.: a Tale of 2159 A.D.
The fully life-size figure which is located on High Street shows Kipling, who lived in the village, sitting on a bench also cast in bronze. Burwash Parish Council commissioned the piece in 2018 and it was created by local sculptor Victoria Atkinson.
Atkinson researched Kipling using archives at Bateman’s, the Jacobean house which was the home of Rudyard Kipling, and the National Portrait Gallery with the Kipling Society providing details such as Kipling’s height and hat and shoe size. Of course she needed a live model to actually create the statue so she used one of her neighbors who wore a thick suit of the type favored by Kipling as a model to get the look and pose of Kipling right.
Oh the book underneath the bench? It’s The Just So Stories.
It was actually, to keep costs down, cast in Athens, Greece.
Now comes a really cool thing. The unveiling took place on February 25, 2019. So who did the unveiling? Why it was Mike Kipling, grandson of Rudyard Kipling!
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 7, 1915 — Eli Wallach. I‘ve a fondness for anyone who appeared on the Sixties Batman series. He played Mr. Freeze in a two part story, the third actor to do as both George Sanders and Otto Preminger had done so in previous two part stories. He also had one-offs in Worlds Beyond, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Veritas: The Quest and Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 2014.)
- Born December 7, 1923 — Johnny Duncan. Was the Sixties Batman the first Batman series? You know better. Johnny here was Robin on Batman And Robin (1949) for Columbia Pictures Corporation. It ran for fifteen episodes of roughly fifteen or so minutes apiece. Robert Lowery was Wayne / Batman. He has only one other genre appearance, an uncredited one in Plan 9 from Outer Space as Second Stretcher Bearer. (Died 2016.)
- Born December 7, 1915 — Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Ok, I’m stretching it, I know. Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) She completed The Empire Strikes Back script for George Lucas just before she died, and although it did not become the final script many of its elements made it into the movie and she received credit along with Lawrence Kasdan. (Died 1978.)
- Born December 7, 1945 — W.D. Richter, 77. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China, the latter one of my favorite popcorn films. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
- Born December 7, 1949 — Tom Waits, 73. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli.
- Born December 7, 1953 — Madeleine E Robins, 69. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Lucstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects.
- Born December 7, 1973 — Kelly Barnhill, 49. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award.
- Born December 8, 1979 — Jennifer Carpenter, 43. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to TV awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…
(9) BRACKETT BIRTHDAY SUGGESTION. Bill Higgins— Beam Jockey – thinks this would be most appropriate.
(10) ENTERPRISING LAWYERS. This legal advertisement is making the rounds in social media.
Evidently the “Shaw-Louvois” firm name is appropriate for Trek because in the 1967 Original Series episode Court Martial Lt. Areel Shaw prosecutes Captain Kirk, and in ST:TNG Phillipa Louvois is a member of Starfleet’s Judge Advocate General branch who has to rule on the rights of Lt. Cmdr. Data in “The Measure of a Man.”
(11) CANCEL THOSE KILLER ROBOTS. Gizmodo reports “San Francisco Votes Down Killer Robots After Fierce Backlash”.
In a hasty retreat, San Francisco lawmakers have reversed a vote allowing local police to use remote-controlled robots equipped with lethal explosives in extreme situations. The move comes after a wave of backlash from the community and activist organizations.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday on a revised version of the policy, which now prohibits police from using robots to kill people. Tuesday’s vote was a surprise turn of events after the board approved the policy last week, including a clause allowing for the lethal bots. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the board rarely changes its mind on second round votes, which are typically seen as formalities. However, since the first vote on Nov. 29, the policy has received a wide range of criticism both locally and nationally. Lawmakers will debate the issue for another week before voting on yet another version of the policy next week….
Cat Eldridge is skeptical: “So the Terminators lost this first skirmish against humanity. But to paraphrase Arnold‘s character in the first Terminator film, ‘They’ll be back.’”
(12) GOOD LORD. “Figgy Pudding | SPAM® Brand”. Eh, so the main ingredient is still pork? Then shouldn’t this be Piggy Pudding?
(13) HOT DAGNABIT. Here’s an NPR segment and another article on this important topic: “Swear words across languages may have more in common than previously thought”.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
There’s a common trope in sci fi when characters curse.
RYAN MCKAY: I watched “Mork & Mindy” when I was growing up.
CHANG: That’s psychologist Ryan McKay. He’s, of course, talking about a sitcom that starred a young Robin Williams as an extraterrestrial named Mork.
MCKAY: He would often cry out shazbot when he would, you know, stub his toe or bang his head or something….
Inverse ran an article about the same study: “Scientists want to know why swear words share this one universal trait”. And unlike NPR, they didn’t bury the lede:
…Rather than present the perfect ingredients for a swear, this study identifies something that all swear words seem to lack. Across languages, swear words tend to exclude sounds like l, r, and w, known as approximants.
If you’re like me, then the first thing you did was scour your brain for exceptions to the rule (and “asshole” was the first one that came to mind, followed by “wanker”). This isn’t to say that swear words wholesale lack these phonemes, but statistically speaking, curses across different languages are less likely to contain approximants….
… You may not feel exactly the same as Bond does about both My Dinner with Andre and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (a rare dual enthusiasm in any case), but seeing where he places them in relation to other movies can help to give you a sense of whether and how they could fit into your own personal canon — as well as the kind of context a film needs to earn its place…
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Via DUST, JJ Pollack’s sci-fi short film Jettison.
A restless young woman ships off to fight an interstellar war, only to struggle with the effects of being cut off from her home by both time and space.
(16) DEFINITELY NOT TODAY’S SCROLL TITLE. By Daniel Dern:
Filed On Sunday
Posted On Monday
Notified On Tuesday
Clicked On Wednesday
Commented On Thursday
Fifth’ed On Friday
Stalked On Saturday
This is the lifecycle of
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Soon Lee, Dann, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]