(1) CONVERSATION. At Tor.com, Natalie Zutter tells about the appearance of N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Ibi Zoboi at the Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturday, in “Masquerade, Initiation, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy: N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor in Conversation”.
…Okorafor’s initiation was her experience with paralysis as a teenage athlete, a difficult period during which she had to relearn how to walk but during which she also turned to writing as a way to cope. Her first story was about a flying woman, “because when you can fly, you don’t have to walk.” She explained, “I know that that experience was my initiation into becoming a writer. When I look back, when it was happening, I didn’t know. I just knew that I was learning how to cope and going deep like that, being so distraught that the only way I [could] stay sane was to go into myself, was how I discovered that thing, that storytelling. From that point on, there is this mystical aspect to storytelling; I’ve had several times where I’m writing stories and I just go somewhere, and something is there. An hour will go by and I’ll look at what I’ve written and it will be new to me and I’m like, ‘Who wrote that?’ […] That actually is very scary to me, but over the years I’ve come to deal with that fear and be comfortable with it and expect it, and know to just sit back and let it happen.”
While Okorafor turned into herself, Jemisin’s initiation was the inverse—she went outward through countless adventures as a child and extensive traveling as an adult. Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, the kind of child who would make little books out of construction paper tied together with yarn, she would visit her father up in New York City (specifically, pre-hipster Williamsburg). “This was my wonderland,” she said, remembering how her father would give her a handful of money and mark a spot on the map, then send her out to traverse the subway system and find her way to her destination. “This was the place I came to become my true self,” she said, “where I shed the masks that I had to wear in Alabama in order to be safe, in order to fit in, to be accepted. I came here, and I could be my little nerdy self and be where I needed to be.” Those childhood adventures prepared her for adulthood as an author navigating the publishing industry: “I’ve always been the little black face, the little ink spot on the page. It did not feel to me like having to go into that space and ask for acceptance or fight to be understood. It felt like ‘You need to reshape yourselves. I am here, this is the industry that you claim to be, you need to be what you claim to be.’ And the industry has been changing in that way, in the last few years. I don’t think it’s me; it’s a lot of people. But the fact that I felt that has been built from that early-adapter stuff I had to do.” …
(2) DISCUSSING DISABILITIES. Today saw the launch of Our Words: Discussing Disabilities in Science Fiction.
The purpose of Our Words is to focus on disabilities in speculative fiction, and give the disabled a place to talk freely and openly about our experiences in the genre. Furthermore, I hope to educate genre fans, authors, publishers, and whoever else about disabilities in the genre, in a comprehensive, well-rounded sort of way. This website will eventually expand to do interviews, discuss and review books, have personal essays, highlight issues in the genre, at conventions, and so more.
Our Words is a website run by a disabled genre fan, for disabled genre fans. This is a place for us to all have a voice. A place for us to use our words, and be heard.
(3) HARRY DRESDEN CARD GAME. Jim Butcher’s Dresden-verse has spawned a cooperative card game that is in the midst of being lavishly funded by fans on Kickstarter. Asked for $48,000, supporters have pledged over $379,000 so far, with nine days to go.
Backers will be rewarded with many extras, including the first chapter of Peace Talks (mid May 2016). More details at: The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game. (Here’s a video that explains how the game is played.)
(4) OWN A BRICK FROM BRADBURY’S HOME. Con or Bust is gathering items for its 2016 fundraising auction. John King Tarpinian has donated a brick from Ray Bradbury’s home, which was demolished in January 2015.
Bidding opens on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern. It will close on Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.
(5) CAREER LAUNCH. Tina Jens at Black Gate mentions the magic number in “Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Going to the Nebulas”.
I require the students in the more advanced course, the Fantasy Writing Workshop, to complete at least one story and submit it to a semi-pro or pro market. But the course aimed at writing majors and non-writing majors alike, Exploring Fantasy Genre Writing, has more than half the students ready to submit a poem or short story for publication, as well. There’s always a few, each semester, but more this semester, I think….
As part of the last week of classes, for both my courses, I’m having a representative from our department’s Publishing Lab (run by students, for students, to help them submit their poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction) come in. They help read proposed cover letters, find markets, and provide emotional support. The drill is this, with their laptops open and everyone tapped in to the school wi-fi, when a student author says they’re ready to submit, their finger hovering over the send button, the group does a mission-control countdown from five.
Five, four, three, two, one, SEND! When the button is pushed, we ring a bell and give them a cookie. An actual bell, and an actual cookie. We’ve found both help.….
(6) CARL BRANDON AWARD. Nominations are open for the 2014 and 2015 Carl Brandon Awards.
Two awards are given each year:
The Carl Brandon Parallax Award is given to works of speculative fiction created by a self-identified person of color. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.
The Carl Brandon Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.
Nominations open through July 16, 2016
(7) KEN MACLEOD. The Herald of Scotland profiled “Science fiction writer Ken MacLeod on his Free Presbyterian childhood, his time as a Communist Party member and the future of humanity”.
“I got disillusioned with my early Trotskyism and joined the Communist Party at exactly the wrong time in the mid-1980s.” You join us as Ken MacLeod, a man once described as “the greatest living Trotskyist libertarian cyberpunk science-fiction humourist,” is recalling his political history. “I think I left in 90 or 91,” he continues, “a few months before it dissolved itself.
“The CP at that time was certainly a very interesting place to be because they were having their terminal crisis as it were. So it was certainly intellectually stimulating.”
He stops and sips his coffee, looks out through the window of the South Queensferry café where we are sitting at the looming Forth rail bridge. For a moment Scotland’s industrial past and service sector present are invisibly united in the eyesight of one of the country’s most entertaining, politically engaged futurists.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- May 9, 2006 – Tobias Buckell became a freelancer.
…My wife, Emily, has joined me to help out with the freelancing. So the business has grown. We haven’t killed each other yet being home all the time.
I almost died just a few years into freelancing. Found out I had a heart defect. Spent years recovering and learning how to manage a whole new life.
Had twins. Still trying to figure out this dad thing. Very much a learn as you go.
I have published 9 novels in that 10 years, 2 under a pseudonym. There are two more written as of yet unsold as well. I’ve also done 4 collections, 5 novellas, and sold 36 short stories….
(9) COSPLAY ORIGINS. Jennifer Culp invites everyone to “Meet the Woman Who Invented Cosplay” in her article for Racked.
Myrtle Rebecca “Morojo” Douglas Smith Gray Nolan was a Gemini, born in June 1904. She was an atheist, an active member of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, and a proponent of the 19th-century constructed auxiliary language Esperanto, meant to foster communication and understanding between people of all cultures. (Obviously, she was a big nerd.)
Between the years of 1938 and 1958, she edited three separate long-running sci-fi fanzines (“editing” including all of the typing, mimeo, and physical work required to manufacture the zines, naturally) and wrote editorials for several major early sci-fi “pro”-mags in the early ‘40s. Basically she was the mid-20th century equivalent of a prolific, influential blogger. She married three times, had one son, and shared a decade-long romantic and creative relationship with fellow fan Forrest J Ackerman, with whose help she sparked off a phenomenon that would develop into costume-loving fan culture we know today. In the decades following her death, her memory has largely been resigned to footnotes designating her a mere “girlfriend,” and that’s a damn shame, because both with and without Ackerman Morojo was a badass….
Following her death in 1964 at the age of 60, Morojo found herself in an unenviable posthumous predicament: the most detailed and accessible record of her life and work exists in the form of eulogies written by two of her ex-boyfriends. (Hold up, just take a second here: can you freakin’ IMAGINE what a hell that could be???) Amazingly, her old flames Elmer Perdue and, of course, Forrie, seem to have done pretty damn right by her memory, publishing (of course!) a fanzine in her honor.
Ackerman comes across as — frankly — a self-absorbed ass in his brief essay “I Remember Morojo,” openly acknowledging his surprise at being asked to contribute. He had barely spoken to the woman since he “got mad at her about half my life ago,” as he puts it. But in spite of the teeth-grindingly irritating paragraph he spends speculating about her position in his own imaginary hierarchy of female sci-fi fandom and the insulting description of 17 years of dedicated work on Guteto as “her own little” zine, Forrie gives Morojo what he surely perceived as the ultimate in (awkward nerd) respect, meticulously listing all of the fannish achievements he could recall to ascribe to her. It is through Ackerman’s remembrance that we know that Morojo was responsible for the world’s first fan costumes, which he specifically notes that she “designed and executed.”
You can download a scanned copy of Ackerman’s I Remember Morojo at eFanzines. Here’s FJA’s quote about her leading role in early costuming —
“She designed & executed my famous ‘futuristicostume’ – and her own – worn at the First World Science-Fiction Convention, the Nycon of 1939. In 1940 at the first Chicon she and I put on a skit based on some dialog from THINGS TO COME, and won some kind of prize. In 1941 at the Denvention she wore a Merrittesque AKKA-mask (frog face) devised by the then young & as yet unknown master filmonster model maker & animator, Ray Harryhausen. In 1949 at the Pacficon in LA, I understand she created a sensation as A. Merritt’s Snake Mother…”
Although Ackerman surpassed all others at drawing fannish attention to himself, as you can see he gave the credit in this case to Morojo. Nor was he the one who gave himself the title the inventor of cosplay. That was masquerade fans of an earlier era who named Ackerman the father of costuming, a move that may have been designed to catch some of his reflected glory for costumers, who at times have felt pushed to the margins by conrunners and fanzine fans. Just the same, Morojo – the actual creator of the costumes – was never treated as the primary historical figure before now.
(10) BRITISH MILIARY SF. SFFWorld has an “Interview with Tim C. Taylor author of The Human Legion series”.
The first book in the series, Marine Cadet has been released as part of the Empire at War collection. How has it been to join forces with fellow British authors and promote British military SF like this?
It’s been wonderful to meet a few fellow military SF authors in the flesh at the recent British convention called Eastercon, because writing can at times be a lonely profession. To begin with, I had a lot of doubts. Can really do this? I had the idea of putting together a box set of military SF books, and hit upon British military SF as a theme, but I was treading new ground. American readers might find this strange, but to the best of my knowledge there has never been such a thing as a ‘British military SF scene’. I mean, the Warhammer 40K novels have been enormously successful, and one of the most successful of all British science fiction authors of recent years is Karen Traviss with her four Halo military SF novels that were all New York Times bestsellers. So it’s not a new thing for British authors to write military SF, but Warhammer 40K and its Black Library publishing arm seems to sit in a splendid and psychotic isolation, and Karen Traviss seems to be largely ignored by much of British fandom, as if writing the tie-in novels where she has seen greatest success so far means that she is not a ‘proper’ writer.
To be honest, I haven’t previously placed a lot of interest in where an author was based, but when I looked at the bios of the new wave of military SF authors I had read in recent years, I was astonished to find how many were British.
So when I started inviting authors (and an artist for the cover and interior illustrations) and saying, “Let’s do something together and call it British military SF”, I don’t think anyone had ever used that term before. Now that I’m more attuned to where people are based, I realize there are many more British authors I could have invited.
By the way, I want to point out that although I kicked off ‘The Empire at War’ project, it was far from just myself doing the work, and it is a good feeling to create something as a group that we can all be proud of.
(11) DAMN RIGHT. Here’s the wisdom Sigrid Ellis serves between two slices of Hamilton and Burr:
…I so often feel this way about Wiscon. It feel like the big things, the stuff everyone talks about later, are always taking place somewhere I am not. In some other panel, some other party, some other room. Never the room I am in.
But I gave this some serious thought and realized that I’ve actually been IN “the room” while “it” is happening at some points in the past. At Wiscon, or other events. I’ve been there. I’ve been, from time to time, the insider. It just never felt that way at the time.
And that made me think how utterly stupid I am being. I mean, way to proactively ruin a great convention, being upset about whether or not the “important” things are happening where I can see them. It’s my convention experience, dammit! I can and will enjoy it for my friends, the conversations I have, the sleep I’ll get, the people I’ll meet, the dinners I’ll have! …
(12) THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL CAT. Ursula K. Le Guin continues “Annals of Pard: My Life So Far, by Pard, Part II” at Book View Café.
I cried very loudly in the roaring moving room-thing on the way here, because I thought the awfulness and strangeness was all happening over again forever. I still always think that when they put me in box that smells of fear and the roaring moving room-thing. But except for that I have hardly cried at all since coming here.
The aunty human went away and left me with the old queen and an old tom. I was distrustful of him at first, but my fears were groundless. When he sits down he has an excellent thing, a lap. Other humans have them, but his is mine. It is full of quietness and fondness. The old queen sometimes pats hers and says prrt? and I know perfectly well what she means; but I only use one lap, his. What I like to use about her is the place behind her knees on the bed, and the top of her head, which having a kind of fur reminds me a little of my Mother, so sometimes I get on the pillow with it and knead it. This works best when she is asleep.
(13) FREE COMICS. James Bacon tells about spending Free Comic Book Day with the creators signing at Forbidden Planet, in “Fiends of the Eastern Front: Fodder by Hannah Berry and Dani at FCBD in Orbital”.
It is rare that so many cool things could align so nicely.
A free copy of 2000 AD is pretty much a boon, but finding that it contains a ‘Fiends of the Eastern Front’ story was really rather exciting. Entitled ‘Fodder’ the artwork is by Dani and is really quite lovely, but apart from it being on the paper pages, the originals are concurrently on display as part of Orbital comics Danistrips ‘Stay Cool’ exhibition on now until the 31st of May.
This allows fans to get a closer look at the original work, which is always a pleasure to behold.
Added to this, Dani the artist, and the writer, Hannah Berry were doing a signing with Peter Milligan, Matt Smith, Clint Langley and Alec Worley in the same location, to celebrate Free Comic Book Day.
(14) CENSUS OF SF REVIEWERS. Strange Horizons has posted “The 2015 SF Count”.
Welcome to the sixth Strange Horizons “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing. The goal of the count is straightforward: for the last calendar year, for a range of SF review venues, to calculate the gender and race balance of books reviewed, and of reviewers….
A number of limitations should be taken into account when interpreting these data. For gender, the limitations include limited accounting for pseudonyms and, more generally, a reliance on public presentation of gender. The count divides individuals into “men” or “women and non-binary.” However, reliable information about gender identity for the vast majority of people counted is not accessible through our methodology, which means it is probable that some individuals have been misrepresented. We will continue to review our methodology each year, and welcome suggestions. (For instance, we are considering changing our terminology to “women and genderqueer,” based on feedback from genderqueer individuals and the inclusion of that term in the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year.)
For race, our categories were “white” and “person of color.” These are crude, and such a binary division is arguably only valid here (as opposed to more specific categorisation) because the total number of POC is so low. Since race is difficult to determine reliably using only names and Google, it is probable that here, too, some authors, editors, or reviewers have been incorrectly allocated. We nevertheless believe that the count is worth publishing because the number of incorrect allocations is likely to be small compared to the overall number of individuals counted….
(15) GRRM IN GE. This month’s Galaxy’s Edge features short fiction by, and an interview with, George R.R. Martin.
(16) JOE ABERCROMBIE. A week before he placed two novels as finalists in the Locus Awards, Joe Abercrombie participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session.
Hi Joe, can you tell us about your day to day writing process? How much do you outline scenes and how many words do you tend to write a day? Are there any tricks that help you get into it? – Actevious
It depends a lot what stage of the process you’re at, so the workflow is very different depending on whether you’re planning something, drafting something, or revising and editing. There’s always a fair bit of work to do that’s not actually writing – emails, interviews, dealing with the business side. When I’m drafting new stuff I try to make sure I actually write, uninterrupted, for 3 hours each day. That doesn’t sound like much but you can cover a lot of ground if you’re focused. 1,200 words in a day I consider acceptable. 2,000 would be good. 3 or 4,000 would be a great day. But then when you’re revising you might measure progress by how many words you cut. If there’s a trick I’m aware of, it’s just to make sure you put in the time even when you’re not feeling inspired. Sometimes you feel like you’re writing real junk, but just get it down, when you come back maybe you cut a lot of it, but there’ll still be stuff that’s worthwhile in there.
A theme I notice you write quite a lot about is war, vengence and the endless circle of misery and horror they create. How did you come to write about this? – TheOtherWhitman
Well war is certainly a fundamental of epic fantasy – Lord of the Rings is all about a war, likewise the Belgariad, Dragonlance, Wheel of Time, etc., etc. I guess I felt the fantasy I read as a kid had come to show the shiny and heroic side of warfare a bit too much, and the dark actions and dark characters were somewhat overlooked. Not a lot of trauma or PTSD. I wanted to look at the other side of it.
(17) GLADIATOR JOINS MUMMY. CinemaBlend reports Russell Crowe has joined the cast of The Mummy.
It seems like everyday a new reboot or long awaited sequel gets announced. We’ve seen streaming services like Netflix bring back previously cancelled series, and even movies like Independence Day get their sequel after 20 years. One of the most recent of these sequels is the upcoming Mummy reboot, starring Tom Cruise. Now it appears that the film has booked another huge star for its already impressive cast. Collider recently sat down with actor Russell Crowe, where they asked him to confirm or deny the rumors of his involvement in the sequel. He had to say the following:
Yeah, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna play Dr. Henry Jekyll, Fellow of the Royal Society. It’s very interesting, what they’re gonna do with that stuff. I’ve had a couple of chats about it with the director (Alex Kurtzman).
There you go, ladies and gents. Russell Crowe will officially be freaking us all out in The Mummy.
(18) KIP THORNE IN SOCAL. The OC Breeze announced “Astrophysicist Kip Thorne to give free talk on intersection of arts and science” at Chapman College on May 12.
Noted astrophysicist Kip Thorne, Ph.D. knows a lot about the weird phenomena of time and space: black holes, wormholes, time travel and more. As one of the world’s leading experts on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Dr. Thorne has collaborated with many of the top names in science, including Stephen Hawking, and served as science advisor and executive producer on the recent blockbuster movie “Interstellar.” His multi-faceted interests in art, science and the universe know no bounds – and it is precisely this intersection of big ideas that Dr. Thorne will discuss in a free talk at Chapman University on Thursday, May 12, 7:30 p.m. in Musco Center for the Arts.
Admission is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required for entry and can be obtained online at www.muscocenter.org or by calling 844-OC-MUSCO (844-626-8726).
(19) CHEAP SEATS. They aren’t that cheap. Neil Gaiman and Audrey Niffenegger will join forces at a London event on May 31. Break your piggy bank.
Author Neil Gaiman will do a rare public event in London to celebrate his new non-fiction collection, “The View from the Cheap Seats” (Headline), together with Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife (Vintage).
The event, run in association with Headline Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Waterstones and video streaming agency Streaming Tank, will take place at The Union Chapel, Islington, on Tuesday, 31st May. The two US-based writers will discuss Gaiman’s latest work, with “a couple of surprises” also in store, according to publishers.
Tickets are £20 each, and include a free signed copy of The View from the Cheap Seats for every ticket-holder. The books will be distributed on the night by Waterstones, which will have a pop-up bookshop in place on the evening.
The event will be live-streamed across the globe by Streaming Tank, via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, so anyone unable to attend can also enjoy the “one-off” event.
Gaiman and Niffenegger will be answering audience questions, both from within the chapel and viewers at home or in bookshops tuning in. Questions can be submitted via Twitter ahead of the event too using the hashtag #CheapSeats.
[Thanks to robinareid, Xtifr, Andrew Porter, Will R., James David Nicoll, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(9) COSPLAY ORIGINS.
I’m one of the Lucky 10,000 learning a bit more fan history today.
Back from spending lots of time in cars!
There Will Be Ticks, Volume 5,271,009.
First fifth! Or fourth first. Whatever. Good night.
Second, and best fifth!
Just got my order of Too Like the Lightning! I’ve been waiting for this ever since I heard PNH read a little from it. (And that was over two years ago.) I fully expect Ada Palmer to be on my Campbell nominating ballot next year; I’m in hope that she’ll be on my Best Novel nominations also. (We’ll see.)
Fifth Third, and the Fifth-tiest!
Soon Lee on May 9, 2016 at 8:38 pm said:
Me too, and I’m the one who submitted it! 🙂
The minute I saw the article, I knew it was the kind of thing that would interest a variety of Filers. (Even though I really haven’t seen much coverage of cosplay in general here.) History of fandom. History of women in fandom. And sure enough, next thing I know, it’s on the front page.
The women in historical fandom angle was particularly interesting to me, since my grandmother was a fan (albeit not an active one) way back in the 1930s. So I know the whole “women aren’t SF fans” or “women didn’t become SF fans till Star Trek came along” narratives are nonsense, and it’s nice to see more evidence.
Love the scroll title — well done, Daniel.
Tunnel in the Sky was a novel that really kicked off my interest in SF. I’m still fascinated by/attracted to stories about portals/gateways/points of synchronicity that magically take you elsewhere or elsewhen in the universe. Everything from (well) Tunnel in the Sky to 2001… And films/TV shows from Stargate (and Stargate SG-1) to The Time Tunnel (so sue me, I was at an impressionable age in the UK when I watched Time Tunnel — much preferred it to Lost in Spaaaaaace!).
There’s just something wonderful about a door that will open and take you away. I guess that’s why I like reading so much; a well-written book has the same characteristic.
Tragically, the SH count never has room for my site. I am not bitter over being snubbed and nobody has to worry they will SLEEP FOR A CENTURY IN A CASTLE SURROUNDED BY IMPENETRABLE BRAMBLES! Since I like to think I contribute to the SF reviewing field in my own modest way, I have compiled my own version of their table, now with added James Nicoll Reviews.
Tonight I get to see Yes performing two of my favourite of their albums at the Royal Albert Hall, Drama and Fragile. And Trevor Horn is returning to sing Drama! As they say: “Squeeeeee!”
5} Neat thing that Tina has arranged for some of their students to volunteer at the Nebulas. I will make sure to say hi to them and will steal the idea if I convince SFWA to bring the Nebulas back to Phoenix/AZ.
Simon – Enjoy the show. Fragile is the album that really got me into prog rock. I even learned to play Roundabout on a clarinet. Seeing the whole thing in concert would be nice.
James Davis Nicoll: Exactly — don’t wait for others, take it into your own capable hands!
Just like Elst Weinstein and I compiled our own “best of” in the 1970s just in case future conoisseurs of fanwriting didn’t get around to it…
I don’t feel nearly as badly as I did that for various reasons I have had to cut back on reviews this year. I guess as long as I outperform 17 of those 18 sites, it’s OK that I won’t match the total output of Locus’ team of 17 reviewers. Unrelated: tomorrow’s review puts my 2016 numbers for reviews books by POC tied with all of Locus’ for 2015.
(What happened at tor.com to force them down from 271 reviews to a mere 141?)
Oh, the Dresden card game! I just realized that’s the one my brother has been playtesting for a while now. He recommends it. Reasonably simple, straightforward gameplay, but with enough strategy to keep it entertaining. More fun if you’re familiar with the series, but that’s definitely not a requirement.
(My brother used to work at Chaosium, and knows a bunch of local game designers.)
Speaking of Chaosium, the Cthulhu 7th edition kickstarter finally delivered, and it is one of the most gorgeous rpg books I’ve ever seen.
In other news, Spacefaring Kitten reveals that blogger Daniel Eness’ alter ego is xdpaul.
This is me, wearing my “surprised” face. 🙄
I was going to ask for a citation, then I found this:
Another proof on how gamergaters like to participate in harassment campaigns, like the one against Scalzi.
Huh. I’d been wondering why no-one under the Eness name had been vocally defending that “work”, so now I know. It’s not like he’s been hiding it, as Soon Lee shows.
The review by SFK that kicks it all off is good.
(10) BRITISH MILIARY SF
(There’s a minor typo in Military, Mike)
I’m not convinced by his idea of British Military SF being a distinct thing, especially as his examples are SF with underfunded militaries having to ally up (so the modern British military with the serial numbers filed off) and Warhammer 40k (with the universe’s most over-funded military). Those two things don’t go in the same box!
Started reading Too Like the Lightning this morning. Definitely upfront about its archaic styling choices, but so far its working for me.
Oh, for all the gods’ sakes, now xdpaul/Daniel Eness has accused Sebastien de Castell of being a pedophile, simply because he quite nicely said: show your work.
Eness is really earning the title “human scum” here. 🙁
Eness’s Smashwords author bio is linked to the Twitter account, so I presume it’s not meant to be a secret. I wrote about it on Sunday when I reviewed his essay (still debating with myself whether it was wise but know it’s there).
EDIT: Oops, Soon Lee already mentioned the Smashwords source. His blog is not yet online, but Archive shows that he was enthusing mr. Beale in his last post. Of late, the guy’s literary career seems to have given way to online culture warring.
I’m reminded of the News of the World’s campaign from some years back. One result which would be comical if it wasn’t for the damage done http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/aug/30/childprotection.society
Oops again: “Not yet” in the previous comment should be “not any longer” and “know” should be “now”. Clumsy me.
I thought he was accusing me there, but maybe that won’t change your opinion of him.
I think he’s just @ing de Castell in rather than aiming it at him, but other than that your comment is quite accurate
Someone had to stick their head over the parapet first. Your review was a good one, given that the whole thing is a trollish trap to let them yell, well, exactly what they were just yelling at you.
(12) THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL CAT: Delightful. I notice there isn’t a “to be continued” in this one but I hope there’s more.
In other news:
Captain Jack HarknessJohn Barrowman will be in Cardiff for “something secret” at around the same time the Doctor Who Christmas Special is going to be filming.
What Mark said. That was a well done review.
The Twitter reaction proved your point. These weren’t essays from people concerned about protecting children but rather people who want to shout names a their perceived enemies.
spacefaringkitten: I thought he was accusing me there, but maybe that won’t change your opinion of him.
Now that he’s repeatedly demonstrated himself to be an exploiter of abused children, no, there’s probably not anything that will change my opinion of someone who’s guilty of the sort of evil in which Daniel Eness is engaging.
That could be an awkward encounter given the last time Captain Jack encountered Peter Capaldi.
Though it may drive the reader insane with information about character classes that Man Was Not Meant To Know.
(Women will be fine, though.)
Leftover 2015 Reading:
The Builders, by Daniel Polansky (Novella)
This is a competently-written version of The Magnificent Seven, with animals in all the roles. It’s fine. But not exceptional. I had high hopes, but was mightily disappointed. It ranks in the lower middle of the 30 novellas from 2015 I’ve read. I may very well put it below No Award. We’ll see if I’m feeling more generous, come voting time. 😐
The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard
In an alt-history Paris, when wars between the great magic houses devastated the city and the world in the early 1900’s, decades later, humans and Fallen angels who’ve been ousted from Heaven do their best to survive the harsh conditions and the political machinations of the other Houses. It didn’t quite grip me the way her Xuya stories have done, but it’s highly imaginative, and I felt compelled to keep reading — and I will probably pick up the sequel.
Beasts of Tabat, by Cat Rambo
I just finished this, and right now, I am so goddamned mad… I wasn’t gripped by this book, but it was okay, so I kept reading… but it does not even pretend to be a whole book. It just ends in a cliffhanger. As a reader, I feel so utterly screwed over. I love Cat Rambo, I think she’s awesome — hell, I sponsor her on Patreon. I don’t know if this was her decision or her publisher’s — but it was a huge fucking misfire. I don’t think I’ll be willing to pick up the next “book” in the series, I am so disgusted right now. 🙁
The Gaiman event actually is kinda cheap at #20. The book everyone gets a signed copy of appears to have a retail price (unsigned) of #20, and is going for #13.60 on Amazon.co.uk. So if you’d planned to get it there, the evening costs about $10, and I at least have personally found a couple of hours of Neil doing a public event to be worth the price of a movie.
@Simon Bisson Oh, Yes. Lucky you! Nous sommes du soleil . . .
Some recent reading:
The Jewel and her Lapidary by Fran Wilde – a tor.com novella. Not quite as good as recent highlights like Forest of Memory or Every Heart a Doorway, but still a worthwhile entry. This is a fantasy set in a valley which mines dangerous sentient magical gems. The valley rulers are called the Jewels, and their Lapidaries are both trusted advisors and actual lapidaries in charge of setting and controlling these gems whose magic is used to keep the valley safe. It’s a fascinating setting and magic idea, and I suppose that Wilde could either have stopped for a 10,000 word exposition on how it all works or start the story with a crisis in media res and hope that the idea comes through. Obviously she goes for the latter, and although it’s not 100% successful it’s definitely the right choice for a novella. I kept wanting a bit more clarity on how the jewels worked, but as I didn’t want her to stop the story for some As You Know Bob I can’t really complain too much.
(Rather than mangling the plot to avoid spoilers I’ll point at the extract linked above instead)
I’m about halfway through The Caped Crusade by Glen Weldon that was reviewed here a few weeks ago, and can second the review. It’s not on the level of These are The Voyages for sheer detail and authority, but the author has some pretty trenchant opinions and is prepared to go to bat for them.
I forget who pointed me to this when I was asking about anthologies but based on the first third or so Dead Letters is worth picking up. The theme is those letters that go undelivered due to bad addresses (or being addressed to Batman) and what might be in them. Interestingly the editor set the stories up by sending each of his authors an actual letter or parcel through the post with some sort of writing prompt within them. The stories seem to be from across the range of SF but the theme really holds them together. There’s a very moving piece from Pat Cadigan called Cancer Dancer, and a low-key but effective story from Michael Marshall Smith. The only clunker so far was one which appeared to think “Time Travel? Let’s kill Hitler!” was a) a novel idea and b) all the story needed. The standout so far is from Ramsay Campbell who produces something wonderfully meta – a letter from himself to the editor apologising that he never got around to writing the story and instead recounting some experiences stemming from what was in his parcel and how they relate to a disturbing incident at an Eastercon a few decades ago.
There are still some great names left in the ToC, including a collaboration between Maria Dahvana Headley & China Miéville which I’m so convinced will be a work of weird genius that I’m afraid to read it and be disappointed.
@Mark: Coincidence! I just started reading Dead Letters too. It’s entertaining so far.
1) If I had known that was happening I probably would’ve attempted to stay in NYC another night.
As it was, I had a helluva time. The wife got a new pair of skates and got to meet Bonnie Thunders, I got a pair of New Rock boots, something I’ve coveted since High School. We saw a taxidermied Giraffe head and ate at some amazing restaurants. It was a good couple of days.
7) Why do so many articles talk about the interviewee sipping coffee and staring into space? IS that supposed to tell me something about their character or their life?
13) DAMNIT. I was outside Forbidden Planet. But the line for FCBD was two blocks long, and I had three hours before I had to go catch a bus.
I ask myself, “What would you do if you had more — time?”
@Kip W –
I can only receive
I can listen to you
It keeps me stable for days
In cars, yeah. Kind of good that I didn’t have that going through my head. When I was driving by myself (four days total), I had audio on most of the time, ranging from music to the BBC 6-hour radio “I, Claudius” adaptation. In the days when I was a passenger (six or seven days), I didn’t listen to my music more than an hour or so.
I saw “alt-history Paris” as “all-history Paris,” and re-invented, for a moment, the concept of the place that’s the same in every timeline. I say re-invented, because it seems certain it’s been done already, though maybe the true Eternal City is actually Hackensack.
That approach is entirely consistent with the level of rigor shown in Safe Spaces…
“All-history” makes me think of the Who episode “The Wedding of River Song”, featuring a London ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill, with pyramids, pterodactyls and mammoths present.
I suspect that Eness may be so far inside the Puppy bubble that he thought that he would be hailed as a hero once his essay got wider exposure. Many of these culture warriors live in such an enclosed space that they think (a) their half-baked and poorly thought out rants are actually biting and incisive triumphs of logic, and (b) the general public actually agrees with their view of the world.
When their drivel gets wider exposure and the reality that they are fringe cranks that most people consider to be reprehensible sets in, it seems to be a disorienting experience for them.
You see that a helluva lot. Like… Kotakuinaction, the gater subreddit, always is amazed when people don’t see things their way. “If they only knew more!” they screech. “The media is biased against us!” they rant.
On the whole, not displeased by the results of comparing my stats to the stats for the sites that made the SH count but there’s one detail that annoys me. If we look at review sources, the ratio of reviews to reviewers and then the ratio of other site’s r/r to my r/r, we get this dismal picture.
Review source R/R (%)
James Nicoll Reviews 329 (100)
Analog 58 (17.6)
Rising Shadows 41.5 (12.6)
Locus 19 (5.7)
Asimov’s 17.7 (5.4)
F&SF 11.8 (3.6)
Lightspeed 9.3 (2.8)
Romantic Times 6.3 (1.9)
Io9 5.6 (1.7)
SFX 5.5 (1.7)
Tor 5.2 (1.6)
Interzone 3.5 (1.1)
Vector 2 (0.6)
NYRSF 1.8 (0.5)
Strange Horizons 1.7 (0.5)
Foundation 1.4 (0.4)
CSZ 1.4 (0.4)
LARB 1.3 (0.4)
SFS 1.2 (0.3)
Now I am all for reasonable competition but where the hell do Analog and Rising Shadows get off being 17.6% and 12.6% as productive as me, respectively? All I ask is an order of magnitude difference.
The fraction of books by POC I reviewed last year is dismally low, and somehow despite that still above average. 🙁 In absolute terms, I reviewed more books by POC than any of the sites that made the count, so I guess that’s OK. But I can do better and I will.
I guess the pre tag does not work….
New PKD anthology series commissioned:
Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick. Ten-part series from Channel 4.
I wish there were more anthology shows on tv these days. I really enjoy series such as The Twilight Zone, which don’t require you to invest vast amounts of time following a long story arc. The anthology format gives the viewer something different and fresh each week.
On a side note – if anyone is interested we are working through the entire list of Hugo finalists (Retro and non-Retro) over at The Hugo Recommendation Season Blog. We started with something fun this week – Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), but will be ramping up next week with additional categories.
Any and everyone is welcome to chime in! We are hoping to continue our focus from the nominating phase of working through every category and not just the “big” ones. Although, unfortunately, we are less enthusiastic about some categories this year for obvious reasons, but we have plenty of other great works to discuss!
(9) The depressing part is that Ackerman went out of his way to not claim credit for his 1939 costume, and Morojo has suffered erasure anyway. It wasn’t just the fanzine-length obituary– he was asked about it on an ongoing basis in interviews, and in every interview I’ve read, he was very clear that the costume was not his idea or work. Yet some people continued to call him the first costumer, sometimes even in the intro to interviews where he explained that that wasn’t the case!