(1) DUCKTALES. As a kid I loved my father’s Donald Duck imitation. He was so funny. That memory immediately came to mind when I read David Tennant will voice Scrooge McDuck in the reboot of Disney DuckTales. I can’t stop imagining Tennant doing my father’s duck accent. Admittedly, Tennant’s character doesn’t sound like Donald, even so, will the voice of the deadly serious Tenth Doctor really be transformed into the dialect of a Scottish billionaire duck? ScienceFiction.com has the story.
To announce the cast for the highly-anticipated reboot, Disney XD released a video of the all-new stars singing the original series’ theme song. Headlining the quack pack for the upcoming globe-trotting adventures is ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ star David Tennant, who will no doubt bring his particular Scottish burr to Uncle Scrooge. He’ll be joined by ‘Powerless’ and ‘Community’ star Danny Pudi, ‘Parks and Recreation’ favorite Ben Schwartz, and ‘Saturday Night Live’ staple Bobby Moynihan as the voices of mischief-making Huey, Dewey and Louie, respectively. The cast will be rounded out by Beck Bennett as Launchpad McQuack, Toks Olagundoye as Mrs. Beakley, and Kate Micucci as Webby Vanderquack. But to get in on the fun that is that unforgettable theme song, check out the video below of the cast participating in a ‘DuckTales’ sing-along:
(2)LICENSED TROUT. My good friend, who chooses to be identified as “Kilgore Trout” for purposes of this news item, is organizing a convention, and like good conrunners should he is licensing the music they’ll be using. But Kilgore was bemused by the aggressive terms of the ASCAP agreement —
I note their list of potentially infringing uses:
Please note that your organization is responsible for any music used at the event, including music used by exhibitors, speakers or music provided overhead by the facility in your meeting/event rooms.
Examples of reportable music uses:
Live music (bands, soloist,pianist, harpist, etc), Disc Jockeys, karaoke, Guitar Hero or mechanical music (Internet streaming or downloaded music, CD’s, Records, Radio, iPod music,DVD’s, Videos, background music provided by the hotel or facility)
Music during the receptions & closing ceremonies
Lead in & exit music
Music used during meetings, PowerPoint presentations
Pro-speakers using music at part of their speeches, whether live or
CD players,iPod, Music via computers in booths or exhibits
Music utilized during awards banquets, event dinners and parties
Comedians and magicians using music or parodies of songs
Multiple or large screen TV’s used at events
Zumba, Yoga and group relaxation sessions using music
Event video/DVD streamed or archived on your event website
In particular, I want to highlight “flash mobs”, “large screen TVs”, and event video as reportable. I have asked for clarification, as surely they can’t mean the presence of TVs requires a license.
Also, note the requirement for a license if the hotel provides background music in the facility. (Isn’t that an issue between ASCAP and the hotel?)
(3) DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE. WIRED rounded up all the grumpy, sneezy and dopey designers in town to “shove a lightsaber through the Death Star’s design”. Go ahead, click on it and reward their bad behavior….
Despite its reputation as a symbol of fear and oppression and its confounding vulnerability to proton torpedoes, the Death Star continues to be a subject of endless fascination—especially in the design world. In advance of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a new book—Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual—lays bare the plans for the station that, presumably, get stolen by rebels, transmitted to Princess Leia, secreted in an R2 unit on board the Rand Ecliptic, and eventually made possible the Death Star’s destruction. Oh, sorry: spoilers.
Point is, the drawings of the planet-killing not-a-moon may look like gobbledygook to you, but to a trained designer, they’re fare game for criticism. And when WIRED asked a bunch of designers, architects, and other professionals for their assessments, most were not kind. That’s not just because of the Death Star’s evil connotations, but due to obvious design flaws. These include, among many other things, limited amenities for stormtroopers and other employees, defense vulnerabilities, severe aesthetic disappointments, and a real lack of creativity when it comes to disposal of waste heat.
Architect Cameron Sinclair, founder of Small Works, a firm that specializes in building solutions in post disaster zones and underserved communities, calls it “yet another techno-driven ego play by the Empire,” primarily blaming a lack of community engagement during the building’s conceptual phase. “If you look at the accommodation wings, there is little room for troopers and their families. No educational spaces, no decent public places and extremely limited access to fresh produce. (Seriously, vertical food farms have been around for generations.) All the communal spaces have been downsized due to an over emphasis on unproven technology.”
(4) LONG LIST EBOOK. David Steffen wants you to know that the Long List Volume 2 ebook was released this week. Hie thee hence!
(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #18. The eighteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for a TGM Fundraiser: Manuscript Critique from Jessica Reisman.
Attention authors: today’s auction is for the critique of a manuscript, up to novella length (39,999 words), from author Jessica Reisman. Reisman is the author of more than 25 published stories, several of which have been honorable mentions in various Year’s Best anthologies. She won the Southeastern Science Fiction Achievement Award (SESFA) for her story “Threads.”
(6) A BUNDLE OF BRONZE. Captainco is offering a Forrest J Ackerman statue & Tales From The Acker-Mansion Bundle.
Celebrate Uncle Forry’s Centennial with a very limited faux bronze statue of Forrest J Ackerman by Dark Horse, accompanied by the Tales From The Acker-Mansion anthology. A perfect gift for any Monster Kid you know or the Monster Kid in yourself. A $300+ value for only $200!
(7) MORE FAVES. Smash Dragons has picked its “Best of 2016”.
Well it’s that time of the year again. The festive season is in full swing here at the lair (no, I’m not drunk… yet), and I figured it was time I reflected on what has been an amazing year for genre fiction.
Looking back over the books I read in 2016 made me realise just how lucky I am to be a reader. I’ve witnessed the emergence of some stunning new talent this year, and I’ve rediscovered some old favourites along the way. To paraphrase George R R Martin, I’ve lived a thousand different lives over the past twelve months, and I’ve loved every single one of them! Choosing a top ten proved extremely difficult. I struggled to make my selections for a long time. However, after much deliberation and thought I managed to nut it out, and I’m pretty happy with the list I came up with. Most of the top ten have full reviews (those that don’t never fear, I will get to them soon), which I have provided links to if you’d like to check them out. I’ve also linked purchase information. It is the season of giving after all, and as a friend of mine pointed out when you buy a book you are buying two gifts essentially (one for the reader, and another for the author of the book you purchased). So be generous to those around you!
So without further ado, I give you my top ten best reads of 2016!
1 – The Fisherman by John Langan/Crow Shine by Alan Baxter
I cheated a little here, but I really couldn’t seperate the two. The Fisherman is a magnificent character- driven cosmic horror that crawled under my skin and refused to budge. Langan is a masterful storyteller, and The Fisherman is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read, period. You can buy The Fisherman here.
Crow Shine is also an incredible book that is filled to the brim with rich and powerful dark fiction. It is one of the best collections I’ve ever read, and Baxter is one of the best short fiction writers working in the world today. I loved this book so much I even forked out a lot of money to buy a signed limited edition copy of it! Highly recommended. Check out my full review here, and buy yourself a copy here.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- December 16, 1901: Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published.
- December 16, 1983 – Nazis are forced to turn to a Jewish historian for help in battling the ancient demon they have inadvertently freed from its prison in The Keep, seen of the first time on this day.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born December 16, 1917 – Arthur C. Clarke
- Born December 16, 1928 — Philip K. Dick
(10) THESE AREN’T THE CRITICS I’M LOOKING FOR. This NPR review makes Rogue One sound “meh”.
You won’t get more plot than that from me, because plot is the chief attraction in Rogue One. With Stormtroopers lurking ’round every intergalactic corner, director Gareth Edwards hasn’t much time for such other Star Warsian charms as character, grace, whimsy and, most of all, fun. He does like to linger over battles, although I can’t say their outcomes are ever much in doubt, the fears of a pessimistic droid (voiced indispensably by Alan Tudyk) notwithstanding.
We’ve been here before, and will doubtless go here again, probably with more imagination, and hopefully with more seeming to ride on the outcome. Rogue One is allegedly a standalone story, but it’s also a prequel, tied so tightly to the stories we’ve already heard that most 9-year-olds will be able to tell those nervous Nellies in the rebel alliance how it’s all going to come out, even before Jyn delivers the script’s flatfooted version of a St. Crispin’s Day speech.
(11) CURTAIN OF HISTORY DRAWN BACK. Another NPR review — “’Hidden Figures’ No More: Meet The Black Women Who Helped Send America To Space”.
Shetterly grew up in the 1960s in Hampton, Va., not far from NASA’s Langley Research Center. She’s African-American, and her father, extended family and neighbors were all scientists, physicists and engineers at NASA. But it wasn’t until about six years ago that she understood the magnitude of the work black women were doing there. She recently told NPR’s Michel Martin, “I knew that many of them worked at NASA. I didn’t know exactly what they did.”
Shetterly spent the next six years searching for more information. She researched archives and interviewed former and current NASA employees and family members. In her book, she details the journeys and personal lives of Langley’s star mathematicians, and recounts how women computers — both black and white — broke barriers in both science and society.
(12) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. The BBC tells “Why Children of Men has never been as shocking as it is now”.
Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian thriller is one of the 21st Century’s most acclaimed films – and its version of the future is now disturbingly familiar. Nicholas Barber looks back….
If the plot harks back to two classic fictions of the 1940s, Casablanca and Nineteen Eighty-Four, the setting is breathtakingly contemporary. Cuarón doesn’t use captions or speeches to explain what has happened to civilisation, but, judging by the old newspapers we glimpse, society has been rocked by climate change, pollution, nuclear accidents, social division, and terrorist bombings. Nevertheless, all of Britain’s troubles have been blamed on asylum seekers, who are locked in cages, and then bussed to hellish shanty towns. “Poor fugees,” says Theo’s hippy friend Jasper (Michael Caine). “After escaping the worst atrocities, and making it all the way to England, our government hunts them down like cockroaches.”
The blame game
Ring any bells? Mass migration was a major issue in 2006, so it’s not surprising that it should be so central to Children of Men. But, a decade ago, no one had predicted the Syrian refugee crisis, or that the US’s President-elect would propose registering Muslims, or that the UK would vote to leave the European Union after a campaign that focused on immigrant numbers. Today, it’s hard to watch the television news headlines in Children of Men without gasping at their prescience: “The Muslim community demands an end to the army’s occupation of mosques.” “The homeland security bill is ratified. After eight years, British borders will remain closed. The deportation of illegal immigrants will continue.” In 2006, all of this seemed plausible enough, but perhaps a little strident, a little over-the-top.
(13) CHECK YOUR PHONE. Here are “20 Extremely Real Texts From Superheroes” selected by Cracked.
Sometimes we like to take a break from writing words about superheroes to look at images of words written by superheroes. To show you what we mean here’s another installment from our friends over at Texts From Superheroes. Check out their website here.
(14) COVER LAUNCH. Orbit has unveiled the cover and title for N. K. Jemisin’s final Broken Earth book.
The highly lauded and award winning Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin comes to its remarkable conclusion in THE STONE SKY. The first book in the series won the Hugo award and was shortlisted for the Nebula, Audie, and Locus award, was the inaugural Wired.com book club pick, and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2015. The sequel, The Obelisk Gate, was chosen as one of NPR’s Best of the Year and one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2016.
THE STONE SKY, publishing in August 2017, closes out a trilogy that is haunting, beautiful, and surprisingly prescient. Our earth-shattering cover for the third book was designed by Wendy Chan.
(15) FREE FANZINES. Bruce Gillespie has made three of his fanzines available for download as PDF files from eFanzines:
SF Commentary 92, July 2016. 70,000 words. Ray Sinclair-Wood’s ‘Poems of the Space Race’, Michael Bishop’s ‘Scalehunter: Lucius Shepard and the Dragon Griaule Sequence’ and ‘I Must Be Talking to My Friends’: a cat story, plus 80 correspondents. Cover art by Carol Kewley and Ditmar.
SF Commentary 93, December 2016. 60,000 words. First part of John Litchen’s ‘Fascinating Mars: 120 Years of Fiction About Mars’; Colin Steele’s ‘The Field’: the year’s SF and fantasy books; and two accounts of ‘My Life, Science Fiction, and Fanzines’ — Bruce Gillespie and James ‘Jocko’ Allen. Cover art by Ditmar and Elaine Cochrane.
Treasure 4, October 2016. 50,000 words. Mervyn Barrett’s tales of the Melbourne SF Club during the 1960s; Robert Lichtman’s pocket history of FAPA; four tributes to John Collins (from Robyn Whiteley, Bruce Gillespie, Don Collins, and Gail Reynolds); Jennifer Bryce’s ‘Travels in the UK, 2014 and 2015’; and Robert Day’s tales of another fandom — trainspotting around Britain and Europe. Plus many correspondents.
(16) RAGE. The New Inquiry has a transcript of a panel with Deji Bryce Olukotun, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Haris Durrani — “The Changing Faces of Sci-Fi and Fantasy”.
The trio discussed the limits of heroism, the politics of reality-building, and the whitewashing of publishing. The following is a transcript, edited for length, of their conversation.
DEJI BRYCE OLUKOTUN When PEN approached me to help organize the event, I was in the middle of reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther comic books, which are super popular: they sell out every week. I felt real enthusiasm that a writer of color who was a National Book Award winner and MacArthur Fellow was tackling comic books, but at the same time, I wasn’t thrilled with some of his depictions of African themes and cultures.
Let me explain a little more what I mean. I was excited that Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has been a comic book fan his whole life, is tackling the genre, but I had critiques about his technique–some of the dialogue, some of the writing. I felt the dilemma that a lot of people feel if you are from a marginalized group. A lot of voices, especially black voices aren’t making it on the page with major publishers. Was I going to actually destroy opportunities if I spoke out against his work and said, “Well, I love this part of the story but I don’t like this part”?
(17) READING THE NIGHT AWAY. Not a new article, but seasonally appropriate! From NPR, “Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood’”.
In the United States, popular holiday gifts come and go from year to year. But in Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades.
Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what’s really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It’s a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.”…
What kind of books, exactly?
“Generally fiction and biographies would be the mainstays, although it varies a lot,” Bjarnason says. “Two years ago one of the surprise best-sellers was a pictorial overview of the history of tractors in Iceland.”
That book, And Then Came Ferguson, wasn’t the only unusual breakout success. Another, Summerland: The Deceased Describe Their Death And Reunions In The Afterlife, came out last year. The book, by Gudmundur Kristinsson, an author in his 80s who believes he can talk to the dead, sold out completely before Christmas 2010 — and sold out yet again after being reprinted in February 2011.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and David Steffen for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Redheadedfemme.]
I just read The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod. It is excellent, well-written military SF. It starts in the 21st century with a world-wide civil war between two revolutionary factions, the leftist Acceleration and the rightist Reaction, with State, the various national governments and the United Nations caught in-between. Carlos, a soldier for the Acceleration and allied with the State is betrayed by his State liaison and dies. He wakes up on the bus from the spaceport, on a planet that is obviously in another solar system. It is a thousand years later. It is complicated. Everyone in the story, including Carlos, is a software program, running in a simulated environment or embodied in a robot in the real world. (Unless the “real world” is a simulation too.) Carlos is needed to fight an outbreak of consciousness amongst the robots on one of the system’s moons. But Carlos and his fellow resurrected soldiers are not being told the whole truth. And everything that happened in the first chapter is not over.
The impacts and issues of artificial intelligence are a recurring theme in MacLeod’s writing. And nobody is better at writing characters with diverse political views. These two themes merge seamlessly in The Corporation Wars. For an intelligence to have consciousness is to make independent decisions which is to be political. Even though the plot of The Corporation Wars is complex, its meaning and insights are very clear. Also, it is compellingly readable, and it has some very engaging characters, whether they happen to be AIs or robots or former humans.
Lis, sending you good wishes and hope for a better future. Hang in there. Please let us know if there’s anything in our power to do that will help. <3
Shao Ping: The story is Frederic Brown’s “Something Green.” It should be included in this collection.
Wow. That story is horrifyingly a propos right now. 🙁
Thank you to all.
JJ, I don’t know if it’s appropriate to say anything, but any contributions that would help pay the utilities would be gratefully received.
I’ve worked all my life. I have a master’s degree and excellent experience in my chosen profession.
And this week I finally had to break down and apply for food stamps. I’m going to be selling off a good part of my book collection, which is not how I planned to get benefit out of it.
Now I had best go to bed, because I’m getting whiny. Good night.
Lis, I’ve sent a little bit in your direction. It’s not much but I hope it helps. Please take good care of yourself.
Another little bit from here. Best wishes in a bad time. 🙁
@Lis Carey: Yikes, sorry for the rough time! Many thanks to @JJ for the link. I read some of your reviews (yay RSS reader) and hadn’t noticed the donate link. 🙂 ::kachink::
(7) MORE FAVES. Interesting list. He seems to like horror a lot, and it’s cool to see a list that’s broader than novels – he has several collections. A lot of lists I read are “best novels of the year” (novel lists interest me more, admittedly).
(13) CHECK YOUR PHONE. Hahahahaha, some of these are hilarious! Thanks – I’ve added it to my RSS reader.
(14) COVER LAUNCH. I want it noooooooow. /whine
Ebook sale a.k.a. Meredith Moment! Fantasy novel The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett is on sale for $1.99 in the U.S. from Bantam (uses DRM). I haven’t read this trilogy, but my other half like it a lot, so it’s somewhere in my Mount TBR and I proxy-recommend it. Galen Beckett is a pen name for author Mark Anthony; I enjoyed his six-volume “The Last Rune” fantasy series (but my other half hasn’t, huh).
In other news, I was totally confused; After the Crown didn’t hit my mailbox Friday! I think it’s coming in a couple of days, psniff. Instead, I got a Rick Riordan book for my other half, so I was right that something was coming in the mail.
SFReading: I finished City of Blades and liked it a ton! It was (from my hazy recollection of book one) darker than City of Stairs. I’m very much looking forward to City of Miracles. I realized in this book that a quasi-atheist – and, more importantly, stidently anti-Divine – society swearing with the word “hells” makes no sense to me. 😛 Anyway, great book, recommended, etc.!
Thank you to everyone who has donated! I’m extremely grateful, and amazed at how kind people are. <3
> “I haven’t read this trilogy, but my other half like it a lot, so it’s somewhere in my Mount TBR and I proxy-recommend it.”
The first book in the trilogy is brilliant. The next two never quite live up to the promise of the first.
@Tom Becker: Thanks for the review. MacLeod is always an interesting writer; I’m happy to see that his books are getting US editions again. The next book in the trilogy, Insurgence, comes out next week.
Lis Carey… hopes for things improving, and a little Christmas present via paypal (Thanks for the link JJ)
I have learned that not everyone wants to be thanked directly, but I do want everyone to know how grateful I am.
Just catching up after not reading here over the weekend. Have backed up my wishes for improvement with something more tangible. (I’ve been doing that a lot lately.)
ETA: Because community is. That’s why.
Heather, thank you. I’m very grateful.