(1) ALTERNATIVE FUTURISM AT UCR. Despite everything else that’s happened to sf studies there, the sun still rose over Riverside this morning and the University of California Riverside announced new events in its continuing Alternative Futurisms Series. The series is funded by a $175,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Authors Daniel José Older and Walter Mosley will speak on Wednesday, Feb. 3, followed on March 3 by a panel of award-winning authors discussing the expectations of science fiction and fantasy produced by Caribbean writers….
“Throughout 2015-2016, the Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms is helping to build bridges amongst the various zones of scholarship and creation in people-of-color futurisms and fantastical narratives,” said Nalo Hopkinson, co-organizer of the yearlong seminar, a professor of creative writing and an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. “Following a successful fall quarter, which included a conference, film screenings and panel discussions, the winter quarter is focusing on creators of people-of-color science fiction and fantasy.”
… “The Sawyer Seminar has brought together faculty, students and the larger community around the important question of imagining a diverse future,” said Milagros Peña, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS). “I am proud of CHASS’s continuing commitment to science fiction studies.”
Events scheduled this month and in the spring include:
Thursday, March 3, 3:30 p.m. Interdisciplinary 1113 – Panel discussion on Caribbean science fiction and fantasy. Panelists are: with Karen Lord, an award-winning Barbadian author (“Redemption in Indigo,” “The Best of All Possible Worlds”) and research consultant; Karin Lowachee, an award-winning author (“Warchild,” “Cagebird”) who was born in South America, grew up in Canada, and worked in the Arctic; Nalo Hopkinson, award-winning author (“Midnight Robber,” “Falling in Love With Hominids”) who was born in Jamaica and teaches creative writing at UCR with a focus on the literatures of the fantastic such as science fiction, fantasy and magical realism; and Tobias Buckell, a best-selling author who grew up in Grenada and whose work (the “Xenowealth” series, “Hurricane Fever”) has been nominated for numerous awards.
Monday, April 11, 4 p.m. (location tbd) – Readings by Ted Chiang, whose work (“Tower of Babylon,” “Exhalation,” “The Lifecycle of Software Objects”) has won numerous awards; and Charles Yu, whose debut novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” was a runner-up for the Campbell Memorial Award.
(2) EARTHSEA OF GREEN. The Kickstarter appeal for Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin raised its target amount of $80,000 on the very first day. A total of $83,268 has been pledged by 1,164 backers as of this writing.
(4) DAY VERSUS DAVIDSON. Vox Day also reacted to Steve Davidson’s attempt to get Andy Weir to repudiate slates: “SJW attempts to block Weir nomination”.
As for why I did not recommend Mr. Weir as Best New Writer last year, it was for a very simple and straightforward reason. I had not read his novel. Unlike so many of the SJWs, I do not recommend novels I have not read, writers whose books I have not read, or artists whose work I have not seen. Those who have not brought their works to my attention have only themselves, and their publishers to blame, if I remain unfamiliar with them. I am but a mere superintelligence, I am not omniscient.
It is perhaps worth noting, again, that I do not care in the least what a writer or an artist happens to think about being recommended; die Gedanken sind frei. People can recuse themselves, publicly repudiate, or virtue-signal, or perform interpretive dance to express the depth of their feelings about Rabid Puppies. It makes no difference to me.
That being said, it appears Marc Miller is not eligible for Best New Writer despite having published his debut novel in 2015. I shall have to revisit that category at a later date.
Although it really doesn’t have any implications for the current discussion, it’s an interesting bit of trivia that Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who was on both the Sad and Rabid slates last year as a short fiction editor, was the person who edited Weir’s novel The Martian.
(5) BIGGER ISSUE. David J. Peterson argues that Puppy drama is overshadowing a really important issue – the lack of a YA Hugo.
No, to my mind the real injustice in the Hugo Awards is the lack of a separate award for YA fiction. More than anywhere else, YA is drawing new readers to science-fiction and fantasy. Yes, right now HBO’s Game of Thrones is huge, and it’s based on a very adult series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, but beyond, what else is big—and I mean big big—in SFF? A few series come to mind: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments. I’m sure you can think of others (oh, duh, Twilight, whatever you think of it). All of these are very successful YA series (all by female authors, incidentally), and all of them have been made into movies that range from moderately successful, to wildly, outrageously successful. Generally, though, unless it’s world-shatteringly successful, YA novels don’t stand a chance of being nominated for a Hugo, let alone winning (of all the books listed above, only two were nominated for best novel—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—with the latter winning)….
Writing YA fiction is a different endeavor than writing adult fiction. There are different rules in play; a different audience to consider. It’s a different approach altogether. Different. Not better. Not worse. But different. Think of your favorite YA novel and your favorite adult novel (two that jump to mind immediately for me are Matilda and The Great Gatsby). Can you rank one over the other? I can’t. It’s not because I can’t decide which one is better: It’s because they’re not even playing by the same rules….
And that’s my point with YA and the Hugos. YA is underrepresented, but it’s not because readers are ignoring it or anything like that: It’s because it’s competing in a category it shouldn’t be. Right now, enormous YA works are grabbing new readers by the truckload and essentially delivering them into SFF fandom, but they don’t have a seat at the table. This is an issue that has been raised before, but I think the whole Sad Puppy thing has really shoved it to the side, and that, to me, is a real shame.
(6) SEEKS LOVE. Meantime, James Troughton just cuts to the chase —
Can everyone vote for me so I win a Hugo award ? I promise I'll write more 'n' better 'n' more next year if you do? THANKS. #HugoAwards
— James Troughton (@JRTroughton) February 1, 2016
(7) FINDS LOVE. Congratulations Laura Resnick on the film option offered on one of your romance novels!
The deposit has cleared, which means it’s time to announce: I’ve been offered a film option deal for my romance novel, FALLEN FROM GRACE. This means I’ve licensed the right for a filmmaker to apply for development money from (of all things) the National Film Board in South Africa (where the story would be relocated and the movie made, if it’s made). It’s a multi-stage process and may never get beyond this point (or may never get beyond the next point, “development,” etc.), but I’m still excited. I’ve had an initial approach 2-3 times before about film adaptations (though not for this book), but no one has ever before pursued it beyond the initial “are these rights available?”
(8) BLUE TWO. The New Zealand Herald reports “First Avatar sequel to start shooting in NZ this April”.
The follow-up to the blockbuster hit Avatar will start production in New Zealand this year.
Director James Cameron is set to start filming the first of three Avatar sequels in April, which are scheduled to be released one year after the other.
The first sequel was supposed to come out in cinemas later this year, but delays have forced the release date to the end of 2017.
According to My Entertainment World, the film will start shooting in California’s Manhattan Beach and New Zealand.
The website also reveals the premise for the film, saying “Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) permanently transfers his consciousness to his Na’vi avatar and begins a new life with Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) after they defeat the human colonisers.”
(9) DRAWERS IN A MANUSCRIPT. M. Harold Page recommends a book about period costumes at Black Gate: “Pulp-era Gumshoes and Queen Victoria’s Underwear: Stitches in Time: The Story of the Clothes We Wear by Lucy Addlington”.
It puts us in the shoes (and unmentionables) of the people we read about — the Pulp-era gumshoes and flappers, the Victorian Steam Punk inventors, the swashbuckling musketeers. They all feel a bit more real when we know how they dress in the morning, how they manage the call of nature, what fashion bloopers they worry about, how their clothes force them to walk or sit.
It also helps us decode some of the nuances. For example, men’s shirts were actually regarded as underwear until well past the Victorian period. If you took off your jacket, you’d immediately don a dressing gown. To be in your shirtsleeves was to be not entirely decent. The color of your shirt reflected your class and… and it’s a rabbit hole of nuance and snobbery. You just have to read it.
(10) X-FILES. If you’re in the market for a spoiler-filled recap of the latest X-Files episode, click Mashable’s “’The X-Files’ Episode 3 was a silly hour of TV that couldn’t have been better”.
(11) TOO MUCH LAVA. Open Culture today highlighted this eight-minute animation of the destruction of Pompeii from 2013. Well worth the eight minutes.
A good disaster story never fails to fascinate — and, given that it actually happened, the story of Pompeii especially so. Buried and thus frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the ancient Roman town of 11,000 has provided an object of great historical interest ever since its rediscovery in 1599. Baths, houses, tools and other possessions (including plenty of wine bottles), frescoes, graffiti, an ampitheater, an aqueduct, the “Villa of the Mysteries“: Pompeii has it all, as far as the stuff of first-century Roman life goes.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 commenter of the day IanP.]