(1) MONEY MANAGEMENT. Kristine Kathryn Rusch counsels authors in “Business Musings: Writer Finances Versus The Paycheck World”.
Here’s a piece of advice you don’t hear very often:
Pay off your house.
Seriously, my writer friends. If you get a lump sum of money, pay off your house.
Or your car.
Definitely pay off your credit cards, and take them out of your wallet. Use them only when you travel to a conference or plan to make a big purchase.
If the indie writers who made a lot of money in 2012-2014 had followed that advice, they’d still be writing and publishing. Sure, their incomes would still be down, along with their sales, but their careers would continue.
How do I know they didn’t do that? Because they’re gone. Mark Coker commented on it in his year-end blog. Writers in the comment section on this blog have mentioned that they’re leaving the business. The Kindle Boards discuss all the writers no one hears from any more.
And if you go to writer website after writer website, many of them for successful indies, you’ll see sites that haven’t been updated for a year or two, or you won’t find any site at all.
(2) COLLECTIBLES. The March WIRED has a photo essay called “Scene Stealers: Inside The Deeply Nerdy–And Insanely Expensive–World of Hollywood Prop Collectors.” (Online here.) This tells us that you don’t just want a phaser from the original Star Trek –you want a “hero phaser,” created by designer Wah Chang for close-ups, because only two were made. But if you want the Aries 1 Translunar Shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’ve been outbid by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who spent $344,000 on it for a museum the academy plans to open in 2018.
The 2006 Worldcon makes an appearance, because the hero blaster used by Rick Deckard in Blade Runner showed up there after most collectors thought this prop had been lost because no one had seen it for over two decades.
(3) READING THE TEA LEAVES. If you want to know “How China Became a Sci-Fi Powerhouse”, Foreign Policy Magazine’s Emily Feng will tell you – it’s the internet.
Chen Qiufan, a sci-fi writer who has won the Milky Way Award and Xingyun Award, China’s equivalent of the Hugo, remembers life before the web changed everything. “All we could do was write in paperback books and magazines. We sent out our stories on paper by mail,” Chen told Foreign Policy. Sending them out and waiting for a response and feedback took a long time — sometimes forever.” But the early 2000s saw an explosion of dedicated online sci-fi forums that allowed writers and fans to mingle virtually, swapping stories, publishing serialized works, and exchanging intense feedback. Social media sites like Baidu Tieba, the arts and literature-focused site Douban, and college messaging boards hosted the most active online communities.
Suddenly, anyone could be a writer; and writers could get instant, massive feedback on draft work. This development was particularly important for the heretofore much-ignored genre of sci-fi; a large portion of today’s most well known and decorated Chinese science fiction writers did not start inside the formal publishing and literary world.
… “In print publishing it was always difficult” for science fiction, said Michel Hock, director of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the author of a book on Chinese internet literature. “The state still owns most of the publishing houses, and state ideology is very ambivalent about literature that caters to mass taste.”
Hock noted that “the Communist Party represents the masses, but does not like the masses’ taste very much.”
(4) REGENERATIONS. At CBR.com, Charles Pau Hoffman asks, “Is Marvel Finally Embracing Legacy Characters with Generations?”
For decades, legacy heroes have been associated strongly with DC Comics rather than Marvel, and for understandable reasons. Apart from DC’s Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, most of its big name superheroes were reimagined into younger, more modern incarnations during the Silver Age. While DC’s creators eventually settled on the idea of the multiverse as the in-universe explanation for two radically-different Flashes or Green Lanterns, these stories helped to build an expectation among readers that as characters aged, they might be replaced.
The DC Universe is full of legacy heroes; there are now enough Green Lanterns to necessitate a whole Corps, nearly as many Flashes, and more Robins (and former Robins) than grains of sand on the beach. While the focus ebbs and flows between the iconic versions and their legacies, the idea of legacy heroes is so engrained in DC Comics that not even the New 52 could kill it.
While legacy heroes have traditionally been more associated with DC, in the past few years Marvel has leaned hard into the concept. Practically every major Marvel hero now has a legacy of one sort or another: Sam Wilson took up the mantle of Captain America, Jane Foster proved she was worthy of wielding Mjolnir, Miles Morales is swinging around New York with Peter Parker’s blessing, Kamala Khan has taken Ms. Marvel’s battle for justice to Jersey City, and even Nick Fury, Jr., is upping his spy game as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. And that’s not even getting to Kate Bishop, Sam Alexander, Amadeus Cho, Laura Kinney, Riri Williams, Viv, the Original 5 X-Men, and an unending list of Young Avengers, New X-Men and Spider-Women…
Last week, Marvel released an incredible new piece of art by Alex Ross, accompanied by four simple words: “GENERATIONS – coming Summer 2017.” It is not clear yet whether “Generations” will be a new prestige miniseries, event, or line-wide rebranding a la Marvel NOW, but the name and image highly suggest whatever “Generations” is, it will focus on the idea of legacy heroes in the Marvel Universe.
(5) COMICS ART. Elle Collins curates a gallery of Silver Age sci-fi comic book covers at Comics Alliance.
While the Golden Age established comics as a medium, the Silver Age was when comic book art really came into its own. And it’s worth noting that comics’ Silver Age corresponded with a wider cultural fascination with science fiction. The actual Space Race was in full swing, and everybody was thinking about rocket ships, alien monsters, and the wonders of science.
In comics, it was science fiction that gave comics artists the freedom to go big. Giant monsters, futuristic technology, and huge-scale threats to the entire Earth became commonplace. And of course everyone had their own ideas about what aliens might look like, from the typical little green men with antennae to yellow giants with segmented eyes and butterfly wings for ears.
In assembling this Silver Age sci-fi gallery, I looked for covers that had more science fiction elements to them than just giant monsters, because while there’s overlap, I think giant monsters deserve their own gallery. I also avoided superheroes, because while so many of their stories are science fiction by nature, we understand superheroes as a different genre. Plus this whole gallery could easily be filled up with Fantastic Four and Green Lantern covers, but that would be a different thing. Sci-fi heroes like Adam Strange and Captain Comet were allowed, on the other hand.
(6) NANCY WILLARD OBIT. Black Gate reports the passing of author Nancy Willard, June 26, 1936 – February 19, 2017.
Nancy Willard was the author of more than 70 books, including more than 40 books for children, such as the Anatole trilogy, Firebrat (1988), East of the Sun and West of the Moon: A Play (1989), and Pish, Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch (1991), illustrated by the Dillons. She won the Newbery Award in 1982 for her book of poetry, William Blake’s Inn, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen. It was the first book of poetry to win the Newbery.
Willard’s Things Invisible to See won the William L. Crawford – IAFA Fantasy Award for first fantasy book (1986).
The family obituary is here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY HOBBIT
- Born February 25, 1971 – Sean Astin
(8) PATRON OF THE ARTS. Ray Bradbury was on the Chamber Symphony Society of California’s board of directors, as this 1973 clipping reminds us.
(9) HELLO, CENTRAL? In “The Coming Amnesia”, Geoff Manaugh explores a prediction made by Alistair Reynolds that if the universe keeps expanding, galaxies wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other and any interstellar civilizations would be unable to contact any other ones.
As the universe expands over hundreds of billions of years, Reynolds explained, there will be a point, in the very far future, at which all galaxies will be so far apart that they will no longer be visible from one another.
Upon reaching that moment, it will no longer be possible to understand the universe’s history—or perhaps even that it had one—as all evidence of a broader cosmos outside of one’s own galaxy will have forever disappeared. Cosmology itself will be impossible.
In such a radically expanded future universe, Reynolds continued, some of the most basic insights offered by today’s astronomy will be unavailable. After all, he points out, “you can’t measure the redshift of galaxies if you can’t see galaxies. And if you can’t see galaxies, how do you even know that the universe is expanding? How would you ever determine that the universe had had an origin?”
There would be no reason to theorize that other galaxies had ever existed in the first place. The universe, in effect, will have disappeared over its own horizon, into a state of irreversible amnesia.
…It is worth asking here, however briefly and with multiple grains of salt, if something similar has perhaps already occurred in the universe we think we know today—if something has not already disappeared beyond the horizon of cosmic amnesia—making even our most well-structured, observation-based theories obsolete. For example, could even the widely accepted conclusion that there was a Big Bang be just an ironic side-effect of having lost some other form of cosmic evidence that long ago slipped eternally away from view?
Remember that these future astronomers will not know anything is missing. They will merrily forge ahead with their own complicated, internally convincing new theories and tests. It is not out of the question, then, to ask if we might be in a similarly ignorant situation.
(10) THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Dave Langford reports that in addition to their 2017 TAFF ballot platforms, all three candidates have since posted campaign material online. Click on each name for more: Sarah Gulde, Alissa McKersie, John Purcell.
(11) INTELLIGENT TALK. Kim Stanley Robinson and a non-genre author will be interviewed by Adam Roberts at Waterstones in London on April 3.
Waterstones Piccadilly is delighted to announce a very special event featuring three exceptional authors. Kim Stanley Robinson and Francis Spufford will be discussing their work with critic and author Adam Roberts.
Kim Stanley Robinson is widely regarded as one of the foremost living writers of science-fiction. Author of the bestselling Mars trilogy as well as numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, he has won many awards over the years, including multiple Hugo and Nebula prizes.
Francis Spufford teaches writing at Goldsmiths University and has written 5 highly-acclaimed works of non-fiction. His first fiction title, Golden Hill, was a Waterstones Book of the Month and won the 2016 Costa Prize for First Novel.
Adam Roberts has written an extensive collection of works in both the fiction and critical genres. Author of some wonderfully original science-fiction and parody titles, Adam teaches English literature and writing at Royal Holloway University.
(13) NOT BEEN BERRY BERRY GOOD. The 2017 Golden Raspberry Awards, a.k.a. The Razzies, highlighting the “cinematic sludge” of the past year, were announced today.
Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
Dinesh D’Souza in Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
The “Actress” Who Plays Hillary Clinton in Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kristen Wiig / Zoolander No. 2
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jesse Eisenberg / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
WORST SCREEN COMBO
Ben Affleck & His BFF (Baddest Foe Forever) Henry Cavill / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Dinesh D’Souza & Bruce Schooley / Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF or SEQUEL
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer
RAZZIE® REDEEMER AWARD
2014 Worst Supporting Actor nominee Mel Gibson, for his Oscar-nominated direction of Hacksaw Ridge
(14) HOW HARD IS YOUR SF? Futurism groks the fullness: “How Scientifically Accurate Is Your Favorite Sci-Fi Film?”
If you can look past the draconian dystopia of the world presented in the movie, you’ll find a lot of interesting scientific details “Minority Report” strived to get correct. Steven Spielberg consulted with computer engineers to come up with the now-iconic vision of the next gen computer systems. While our current touchscreen devices aren’t exactly what was depicted in the film, we are getting closer to gesture-based interfaces.
(15) INKSTAINED WRETCH. Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red and Bane and Shadow, gives us an insight into how he writes, from first draft to the final book.
(16) THUG NOTES OF GENRE INTEREST. Selected by John King Tarpinian.
- BRAVE NEW WORLD
- FAHRENHEIT 451
- A HANDMAID’S TALE
(17) SUMMER CAMP. Tor.com says “Shared Worlds is Now Open for Registration!” Shared Worlds is supported by co-director Jeff VanderMeer and Editor-in-Residence Ann VanderMeer.
Shared Worlds, a world-building summer camp for kids, is now open for registration. The program is open to rising 8th-12th graders, and will take place from July 16th-29th at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Registration will be open until April 1st so be sure to register soon!
The students work in small groups with an experienced “world-building coordinator” to design and build a world, spending a week building their worlds from the ground up: geography, population, religion and philosophy, legal systems—everything you’d need for a functional world. The second week is spent writing stories that can only occur in the worlds they’ve created. The program culminates in individual sessions between the students and the guest authors so the students get personalized feedback on their work. Finally, the students’ stories are published in the annual program anthology.
[Thanks to JJ, Dave Langford, John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]