(1) LINK Q&A. “Kelly Link Can’t Write Narrative Before 3pm: And Other Tips For Purposeful Writing” at Literary Hub.
What time of day do you write?
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I hate writing so much, when it’s also the thing that I want most to do—it turns out a large piece of this is that I mostly hate writing when I’m attempting to do it between waking up to around 2 pm. For a long time, I thought that real writers settled down to do their work first thing, and so I must be a dilettante not to be able to get anything done without finding it excruciating.
Finally, after lots of experimenting, I’ve realized that before 2 pm I can’t really make much headway, and that at some point between 2 and 3 in the afternoon some little switch in my brain flips, and I can think about narrative. And so now, on days when I’m going to write (including important emails), in the morning I do dishes, play games on my phone, and even watch some TV. From 3 pm to around 1 am, given the freedom to just write, I can get a lot of work done….
(2) OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN AFTER 3 P.M. And The New Yorker has a review of Link’s new collection White Cat, Black Dog: “A Shape-Shifting Short-Story Collection Defies Categorization”.
…One thing that fairy tales teach us, of course, is that it’s wise not to examine such magic too closely—better to accept the gift gratefully than to inquire into its provenance. Still, at the risk of incurring the magician’s wrath, we might look more closely at one of these stories and see if we can figure out how it works. “Prince Hat Underground” is the second story in the new collection, and the only one that’s previously unpublished. It begins in a very un-fairy-tale-like fashion, in medias res: “And who, exactly, is Prince Hat?” This isn’t as familiar an opening as “Once upon a time,” but it does point down a well-trodden path in literary fiction—that is, toward a character portrait. “Gary, who has lived with Prince Hat for over three decades, still sometimes wonders,” Link continues. And so the plot becomes even more familiar: this is the story of a marriage, and, more particularly, a story of the secrets that persist even in long-term relationships. Already we have, in two lines, a thumbnail sketch of this relationship, between staid, reliable Gary and the boyish, fanciful Prince Hat….
(3) SMALL WONDERS KICKSTARTER NEARS FINISH LINE. Stephen Granade reports, “We’re in the final day-and-a-half of the Small Wonders Kickstarter and are tantalizingly close to funding. We’ve passed 75% funded so got to release a new story from Nebula winner John Wiswell.”
Read “Irresponsibly Human” at the link.
I already got a body. Infiltrating their planet was easy after that; theirs is a simple culture, so unevolved that social media is still legal. Give me a week of using this body and the culture’s tech, and I’ll have enough experiential data to synthesize a whole army. They won’t even know we’re here until we’ve won. I’m going to be the first person to conquer another planet as a senior thesis project….
Granade adds, “When we reach 90% we’ll release a new poem by Beth Cato, and we’ve got a new story from Premee Mohamed as a reward for us fully funding.”
(4) YOUR NAME THERE. NASA continues to invite people to “Send Your Name to Mars” on a “Future Mars Mission” whenever that may be. In the meantime, you can download a lovely Boarding Pass. My name went to Mars with Perseverance.
(5) DIAL TIME. Do you have Indiana Jones in Cannes? Well, let him out! “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny to Debut at Cannes” and The Hollywood Reporter has details.
…The French fest runs May 16-27, with Dial of Destiny eying a day two or day three debut.
It is a homecoming of sorts for the pulpy hero. Fifteen years ago, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull debuted at the fest, which has been a launching ground for tentpoles in recent years….
(6) NO RESPECT. Ed Power demands to know, “This Mormon sci-fi author made $55m last year. So why isn’t he taken seriously?” The article, about WIRED’s hit job on Sanderson, is behind a paywall at The Telegraph.
From tipping the barman to pre-teen beauty pageants, America is no stranger to bizarre rituals. One of the weirdest is the glossy magazine “hit piece”. This involves a journalist pretending to be friends with a famous person and then demolishing them over 2,000 words or so. Make that 4,000 in the case of a new Wired magazine “profile” of fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, in which the best-selling writer is subjected to a thorough biffing-up….
(7) PUBLISHING NIGHTMARE AVOIDS PRISON. “Book fraudster Filippo Bernardini spared jail” – the Guardian says he will be deported instead.
…Filippo Bernardini, who worked as a rights coordinator, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in New York in January.
He was yesterday sentenced by judge Colleen McMahon to time served, meaning he will not be imprisoned, according to the Bookseller. He has agreed to pay $88,000 (£72,700) to Penguin Random House to cover the legal and expert fees the company paid as a result of his scheme.
Bernardini has also been sentenced to three years of supervised release, and will be deported from the US to the UK or Italy, where he grew up….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1992 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Great secondary characters are a must in any ongoing series. So it is with Sharyn McCrumb’s Ballad series, mysteries set in her native Appalachian region. And here we get the story of Nora Bonesteel.
The one that is our Beginning this Scroll is from The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter which was published by Scribner in 1992. It was the second in the series after the debut novel, If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O. To date, there are thirteen Ballad novels and some shorter works.
The Appalachian Writers Association gave The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter its Award for Best Novel.
As per our policy here of absolutely no spoilers, I won’t say anything this novel or anything explicit about the series. I’ll only say that the author has a deft hand at writing interesting characters set in what seems to be authentic Appalachian settings with interesting stories.
Summer for the living,
Winter for the dead—
The rule for solstice alignment
of standing stones
in pre-christian britain
Nora Bonesteel was the first one to know about the Underhill family. Death was no stranger to Dark Hollow, Tennessee, but Nora Bonesteel was the only one who could see it coming.
She was well past seventy, and she lived alone in a white frame house up on the part of Ashe Mountain that had been Bonesteel land since 1793. Across the patchwork of field and forest, eye to eye with the Bonesteel house, was the outcrop of rock called Hangman, looking down on the holler with a less benevolent eye than Nora Bonesteel’s. They perched on their respective summits, the granite man and the parchment woman, in a standoff older than the pines that edged the meadows.
She seldom left her mountain fastness except to walk down the gravel road to church on Sunday morning, but she had a goodly number of visitors—mostly people wanting advice—but they’d come bringing homemade blackberry jelly or the latest picture of the grandbaby so as not to seem pushy about it. Folks said that no matter how early you reached her house of a morning with a piece of bad news, she’d meet you on the porch with a mug of fresh-brewed chicory coffee, already knowing what it was you’d come about.
Nora Bonesteel did not gossip. The telephone company had never got around to stringing the lines up Ashe Mountain. She just knew.
Dark Hollow folk, most of them kin to her, anyhow, took it for granted, but it made some of the townspeople down in Hamelin afraid, the way she sat up there on the mountain and kept track of all the doings in the valley; sat up there with her weaving, and her pet groundhog, and her visions.
The night that Garrett Webster died in that wreck on the road to Asheville, Nora had the carrot cake baked to take to the funeral by the time somebody stopped in the next morning to tell her about the accident. She had a dream, she said, while she was sleeping in that old iron bedstead with the hollow pipes at the head and foot of it. Suddenly, she had heard a clang and felt the bed vibrate, as if somebody had hit those footboard pipes with the point of a sword. She’d sat up in bed, looking to see what woke her, and there was Garrett Webster standing at the foot of her bed, smiling at her from inside a glow of white light. When he saw that she’d seen him and knew who he was, he faded away, and the room was dark again. It was eight minutes past five, Nora said, and she got up right then to start fixing that cake for Esther Webster and her boys. The state trooper’s report said that the wreck between Garrett Webster’s car and a semi on Route 58 had occurred at 5: 08 that morning. It also stated that Webster never knew what hit him, but Nora Bonesteel reckoned he had.
She knew other things, too. Who was pregnant, when to cover your tomato plants for frost, and where your missing wedding ring would turn up. She could cure nosebleeds by quoting the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, sixth verse; and she knew how to gauge the coming winter by the bands on a woolly worm. But that was nothing to marvel at. Every family had somebody with the simple gifts; even ones who knew when there had been a death within their family, but what made Nora Bonesteel different from others with the Sight was that for her it wasn’t only a matter of knowing about close kin. The fate of the whole community seemed as open to her as the weekly newspaper. Even newcomers, like the Underhills, outsiders who had bought an old farm and had come as strangers to settle between the mountains, were within the range of her visions.
Nobody in Dark Hollow ever mistook her for a witch. She taught Sunday school to the early teens, and she kept her place in an old leather King James Bible with the feather of a redbird’s wing. Nora Bonesteel never wished harm, never tried to profit by her knowledge. Most times, she wouldn’t even tell people things if it was bad news that couldn’t be avoided. And if she did impart a warning, she’d look away while she told it, and say what she had to in a sorrowful way that was nobody’s idea of a curse. She just knew things, that’s all. In the east Tennessee hills, there had always been people who knew things. Most people felt a little sorry for her, and were glad they could go through life with the hope that comes from not seeing the future through well-polished glass.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 28, 1912 — A. Bertram Chandler. Did you ever hear of popcorn literature? Well the Australian-tinged space opera that was the universe of the Rim World and John Grimes was such. A very good starting place is the Baen Books omnibus To The Galactic Rim which contains three novels and seven stories. If there’s a counterpart to him, it’d be I think Dominic Flandry who appeared in Anderson’s Technic History series. Oh, and I’ve revisited both to see if the Suck Fairy had dropped by. She hadn’t. (Died 1984.)
- Born March 28, 1928 — Ron Soble. He played Wyatt Earp in the Trek episode, “Spectre of The Gun”. During his career, he showed up on a huge number of genre series that included Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Shazam, Planet of The Apes, Fantasy Island, Salvage 1 and Knight Rider. His last genre role, weirdly enough, was playing Pablo Picasso in Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills. (Died 2002.)
- Born March 28, 1933 — J. R. Hammond. Looking for companionable guides to H.G. Wells? Clute at EoSF has the scholar for you. He wrote three works that he recommends as being rather good (H G Wells: A Comprehensive Bibliography, Herbert George Wells: An Annotated Bibliography of his Works and An H G Wells Companion: A Guide to the Novels, Romances and Short Stories). Clute says that his “tendency to provide sympathetic overviews, now as much as ever, is welcome.” (Died 2018.)
- Born March 28, 1942 — Mike Newell, 81. Director whose genre work Includes The Awakening, Photographing Fairies (amazing story, stellar film), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (popcorn film — less filling, mostly tasty), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and two episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to wit “Masks of Evil” and “The Perils of Cupid”.
- Born March 28, 1944 — Ellen R. Weil. Wife of Gary K. Wolfe. She wrote a number of works with him including the non-fiction study, Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. They wrote a fascinating essay, “The Annihilation of Time: Science Fiction; Consumed by Shadows: Ellison and Hollywood,” which can be found in Harlan Ellison: Critical Insights. (Died 2000.)
- Born March 28, 1946 — Julia Jarman, 77. Author of a children’s book series I like a lot, of which I’ll single out Time-Travelling Cat And The Egyptian Goddess, The Time-Travelling Cat and the Tudor Treasure and The Time-Travelling cat and the Viking Terror as the ones I like the best. There’s more to that series but those are my favorites. I see no indication that the cats are available from the usual suspects alas.
- Born March 28, 1972 — Nick Frost, 51. Yes, he really is named Nick Frost as he was born Nicholas John Frost. Befitting that, he was cast as Santa Claus in two Twelfth Doctor stories, “Death in Heaven” and “Last Christmas”. He’s done far more genre acting than I can retell here starting with the Spaced series and Shaun of The Dead (he’s close friends with Simon Pegg) to the superb Snow White and The Huntsman. He’s currently Gus in the Truth Seekers, a sort of low-budget comic ghost hunter series
(10) FANAC’S FANNISH FEMINISM PANEL. Fanac.org hosted a two-part presentation about “Feminism in 1970s/80s Fandom” with Janice Bogstad, Jeanne Gomoll, and Lucy Huntzinger.
Fandom in the 70s/80s saw real influence from people with a feminist perspective, from the creation of Wiscon to fanzines like Janus and Rude Bitch, and to raising awareness of the reality women experienced. What were the beginnings? How did Wiscon get started? Was fandom following popular culture or leading it?
Part 1 – Panelists Janice Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll tell us about the creation of Janus, Wiscon and the Madison nexus of feminist thought in 70s fandom, and Lucy Huntzinger brings us into the 80s with the lamentably short-run Rude Bitch, and her other experiences in fandom as a feminist. Moderated by Edie Stern, FANAC.org webmaster, this intriguing panel reveals the unusual origins of Janus (and how the editor found out it was a fanzine!), the academic background brought to the discussions of women in science fiction, and some of the factors that made Madison the hotbed of feminist thought in fandom.
These personal histories trace the growth of feminist discussion in broader fandom, and explore why fandom felt like a safe space for women. The panelists also discuss the sometimes negative reactions received…Wound through with personal anecdotes (“Will the real James Tiptree please stand up!”, and the production of “The Emperor Norton Science Fiction Hour”), the discussion provides a window on an important area of science fiction fan history.
Part 2 – Panelists Jeanne, Lucy and Janice continue here with more on the reactions they received from others, and with the differences in being a feminist in fandom in the 70s and in the 80s…Part 2 has stories about dating approaches in fandom, the wonderful origins of Corflu, and a number of anecdotes (both serious and constructive as well as personal and funny) about well known women writers. There are charming anecdotes about Octavia E. Butler, Connie Willis, Sheri Tepper (and her rousing call to action on population growth), and Ursula K. Le Guin.
You’ll also hear about the origins and early days of the Tiptree Award, and its novel funding mechanism. Finally, there are audience comments and reminiscences including a true story about the Minneapolis chicken hat…This session is lots of fun, with a serious thread underlying it.
(11) FLIGHT HISTORY SUFFERS FIRE DAMAGE. The New York Times reports “Wright Brothers’ Airplane Factory Is Badly Damaged in Fire”.
A fire that broke out at a building complex in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday damaged a factory founded by Wilbur and Orville Wright, the brothers who were the first people to successfully fly an airplane.
The fire throws into doubt the future of the factory, where the brothers built planes starting in the 1910s. It became part of the National Park Service’s group of aviation-related sites in Dayton in 2009.
The factory is a monument not just to the brothers and their consequential invention, but also to the role of leading industrialists of the day in giving birth to the age of commercial aviation. The factory was built shortly after Wilbur Wright visited New York in 1909 and “got buttonholed by the Vanderbilts, the Colliers, J.P. Morgan, folks like that,” said Dean Alexander, who was the park service superintendent in Dayton when the site was added. “The first thing they paid for was building that factory,” Mr. Alexander said.
The Dayton Fire Department said that it is investigating the cause of the fire, which started at 2:28 a.m. Sunday and damaged the roof and interior of buildings in the complex. No one was injured, the department said….
(12) LUCAS MUSEUM OF NARRATIVE ART. “Lucas Museum in Los Angeles Slated to Open in 2025” says the New York Times.
In the spring of 2018, after years of bidding wars, shifting proposals and changing plans, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art broke ground in South Los Angeles.
And despite many subsequent delays, pandemic-related and otherwise, the enormous scope of the project by the “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas is finally coming into focus, and the museum is slated to open sometime in 2025, my colleague Adam Nagourney recently reported in The New York Times.
That may come as a surprise.
“My sense from the response to this story is that many people here were unaware of how far along the museum has come, and how big it is,” Adam, who is based in Los Angeles, told me.
As a refresher, Lucas considered building his billion-dollar museum in Chicago or San Francisco, but settled on Los Angeles, where officials were more aggressive in courting the project, which was expected to bring with it prestige and thousands of construction and museum jobs. The futuristic building, reminiscent of a low-flying spaceship, is being built on what were once parking lots in Exposition Park, across the street from the University of Southern California, Lucas’s alma mater.
The Lucas, designed by Ma Yansong, one of China’s most prominent architects, is part of a recent wave of museum construction in Los Angeles. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened in 2021, and the Hammer Museum this month completed yearslong renovations. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is also in the midst of a major overhaul….
(13) BALANCE OF POWER. “Would building a Dyson sphere be worth it? We ran the numbers” says Ars Technica. Daniel Dern posits, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
… For these and many other reasons, a Dyson sphere costs energy. So we’re going to see how long it will take to recoup the energy investment of building one and what the optimal design might be to minimize the initial investment.
To get at some numbers, we’re going to make a lot of assumptions. People like to poke fun at physicists for simplifying complex problems, sometimes beyond recognition. The old joke goes that dairy farmers reached out to a nearby university to help understand why milk production was low, and the response from the physicists began by assuming that the cows were spherical.
But there is something powerful about this simplifying approach, which is why physicists are trained in it from day one. First, it lets us answer questions when we’re not interested in precise numbers at the outset. Here, we just want a general sense of feasibility—will building a Dyson sphere take a (relatively) small, medium, or extreme amount of energy? Second, simplifying the problem helps cover up mistakes (either in calculations or our starting assumptions). If all we’re going after is a general ballpark, then a factor-of-two mistake (or even 10 or 100) won’t really change the overall intuitions our calculations enable….
Also: How about instead making a Ringworld-scale Dyson vacuum cleaner? (to suck up all that dark matter and other clutter…?)
(14) VERSE OF THE DAY. Too long to use as a title, however, it deserves Scroll honors. By Randall M:
One File makes you pixel
And one File makes you scroll
And the ones Mike Glyer sends you
Don’t go anywhere at all
Go ask Jetpack
When it’s on a roll
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Andrew (not Werdna), Randall M., Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) If you’re writing, you do it when it works. If you’ve a full-time job, you do it at lunch, or in the evenings. If you’re not working… you write sometime between when you wake up and when you go to sleep. It’s not like you’re milking the hogs and slopping the cows.
(6) I wrote Wired an email. I suggested, among other things, that I used to think of them as what was called digerati… but those folks are long gone, and not a one of them is a “geek”… given all the ones I know read sf&f, and knew who Sanderson was a long time ago. I also wondered why an editor would send out someone to do a hatchet job, and why publish it. Don’t expect a response.
(9) Nick Frost was also in Attack the Block, with a pre-Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker and a pre-Star Wars John Boyega. It’s a lot of fun.
Steve Roby says Nick Frost was also in Attack the Block, with a pre-Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker and a pre-Star Wars John Boyega. It’s a lot of fun.
I’ll gleefully admit that he first got Birthday Honors because of his name. I mean seriously — Nick Frost? Perfectly genre.
(4) Sending my father to Mars – he said once, looking at Viking’s photos, that if they got the bugs out of the life-support systems, he’d like to go.
mark says I wrote Wired an email. I suggested, among other things, that I used to think of them as what was called digerati… but those folks are long gone, and not a one of them is a “geek”… given all the ones I know read sf&f, and knew who Sanderson was a long time ago. I also wondered why an editor would send out someone to do a hatchet job, and why publish it. Don’t expect a response.
They’re so-called journalistic undertakings are even worse. They read now like Hearst era yellow journalism affairs with no attempt at actually being true to being bounded by reality, decency and fairness.
Once in a while, they let a writer actually do a sane, non-biased piece but not often.
(13) Interestingly, the vacuum cleaner Dyson also had a thing about spheres and his first major product idea was a wheelbarrow with a spherical front wheel. It did not have a small stellar object inside though.
I wonder if he grew up with a freely-rotating globe like the one my parents had. It sat in a dish-like holder, and you could turn it in any direction, instead of being limited to rotating on one axis (through the poles).
Neal Asher has a fondness for Dyson spheres as you can see in this extended excerpt from Polity Agent, one of his Polity novels:
Cassius Project: this is a Dyson sphere in the process of construction, an object first described in 1959 by the physicist Freeman Dyson in his paper ‘Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of lnfra-Red Radiation’, though the idea germinated in him after reading a science fiction story by one Olaf Stapleton some thirteen years earlier. It is a hollow sphere being built around the sun, Cassius, to capture nearly all the star’s radiation so as to power (at nearly 1026 W) the civilization that will occupy the inner surface of the sphere when the project reaches completion. Construction began in that hugely optimistic time during the initial runcible-based expansion of the Polity, when it was felt that anything could be achieved. The project stalled during the Prador-Human War, but then continued after because, some claim, it was felt by the AIs that a sense of optimism needed to be reclaimed for the human race. It has caused much contention in the Polity because, with its completion date lying in the remote future, it is felt irrelevant to present requirements. However, few can deny the massive technological advances stemming from this project, and the rejuvenating economic effect throughout that sector of the Polity. Perhaps few can also deny that this is forward planning on a truly ambitious scale. – From ‘Quince Guide’ compiled by humans.
6) There are people who make much more money than that who I don’t take seriously.
(9) Nick Frost
He also starred with Simon Pegg in the 2011 movie Paul, which is hilarious and so much fun. The titular Paul is an alien voiced by Seth Rogen.
(14) LOL I love it! Well done Randall M!
And if you want to read about BOTH Sir Dominic Flandry and Commodore John Grimes in the same place and time, pick up a copy of Chandler’s The Dark Dimensions.
(9) Another vote for Attack the Block – my wife and I watched that one earlier this year.
I’ll add my voice to the chorus recommending Attack the Block. It’s a tight horror thriller with great performances and more on its mind than just scares. Not that it skimps on the scares! It’s not afraid to be a genre movie in all the best ways.
(6) No surprise that the Telegraph thinks we should take seriously anybody making that much money.
Dyson’s paper (more of a detailed letter, really) was in the June 1960 issue of Science.
It feels a little weird to me to say that Sanderson “made” $55M. That’s gotta include the gross on the Kickstarter, but Sanderson himself gets only a tiny fraction of the Kickstarter money: most of it goes to ordering product (books and merch) and shipping it. Obviously I don’t know what the breakdown is there.
(At that, I’m probably one of the most profitable Kickstarter backers for him: I spent $40 on four ebooks — and the marginal cost of sending out one more ebook is tiny — and bought nothing physical.
I have watched unboxing videos for the two merch boxes so far, and they have confirmed for me the opinion I had previously, that the merch boxes aren’t worth $40 to me.)
2) I loved White Cat, Black Dog, especially the story “Skinder’s Veil.” I originally read that story in Ellen Datlow’s anthology of stories in tribute to Shirley Jackson, and I happily re-read it in Link’s collection. I wrote a review on my blog if anyone is interested.
Mm re “Attack The Block” movie, which has a then newish Star Wars actor (John Boyega) + the now outgoing Dr Who (Jodie Whittaker) therein, I actually watched a bit of that being filmed (the very opening shot, in which Jodie’s character gets mugged). That opening scene is done on a high crane overlooking my local London Tube Station (Oval), whilst most of the rest of the film was done up the road in Elephant +Castle….[ And I’m advised that a sequel is under consideration..]