(1) MEDICAL UPDATE. Ursula Vernon told Filers the latest in a comment today:
Thanks, all! Just catching up—it’s been quite a week, but at least there’s now a treatment plan in place. I’m gonna live, just gonna be a gnarly few months. (I will be a bald wombat soon, but my husband points out that he watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture repeatedly in his youth, and not because of the acting.)
She went into more detail on Twitter. Thread starts here.
(2) APPEAL TO SUPPORT STRIKING WGA WRITERS. At Daily Kos, Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier ask readers to “Help a writer in need” – them! (Familiar names because years ago they used to participate in Loscon programming.)
The Writers’ Guild’s strike is entering its 50th day. My wife and I are members, and this is starting to hurt in the pocketbook. Right now, for example, a major studio owes us $150,000 but because of the standard “Act of God”-type clause, payment will be deferred until after the strike is over. Fortunately, like most older writers, we have learned not to rely entirely of the largesses of Hollywood. We have our own small press, BLACK COAT PRESS, established in 2003 — coincidentally the year I joined Daily Kos.
Black Coat Press publishes English-language translations of French science fiction, fantasy and mysteries (dare I add, award-winning translations), as well as a line of translated French comics. If you buy 5 books, you get a 40% “bookstore” discount. Most of our books are priced around $20, and most are also available as ebooks (specify if you prefer EPUB or PDF files) for around $5.
Needless to say, we support the strike, but I fear this may well be one of toughest fight we ever faced as a Guild. (I’ll be happy to discuss why I think so in the comments.) So purchasing book(s) from us would come as a great help at this time. And frankly, we have published many truly ground-breaking books in the fields of SF and fantasy. (See this article published in The Fantasy Hive for example.)
Visit our website. If you can afford it (and only if!, please consider buying some books from us. Thank you very, very much in advance.
(3) GOFUNDME BRINGS NEEDED HELP. David Gerrold has thanked contributors to his GoFundMe (“Help Move David Gerrold’s Family To Vermont”) which has raised over $31,000 in a week. He says, “We’re still a little short of the target, but two of the bigger problems can now be handled. If the universe doesn’t throw any more crap at us, we’re going to be okay.”
(4) BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. “Safety Dispatch: Author Safety for Small Events” at the SFWA Blog.
Small events can be some of the most rewarding experiences for an author. Signings, readings, classes, and panels offer an opportunity to connect directly with readers. They also offer some unique challenges when planning for safety….
- Think about safety. Is safety a pressing concern? Are you experiencing harassment, or is another attending author the target of harassment? If you have experienced harassment, are there indicators that someone will attend one of your events? Have they made direct threats?
- Are there other aspects of the venue, like location or time, that increase the need to think about safety?
(5) EKPEKI JOINS ICFA BOARD. Congratulations to Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. He told Facebook readers yesterday:
The ICFA virtual conference coordinator position I occupied has been made a board position, & I’m now officially a member of the board of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA)
At the link you can read the letter ICFA sent him.
(6) PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH WITH CARE. From last October, but it’s news to me! “The Lensman Cometh” by Steve J. Wright. It begins —
(To the tune of “The Gasman Cometh” by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, to whom I apologize unreservedly.)
‘Twas on a Monday morning that the Lensman came to call,
Boskonians had dropped a bunch of Eich all round the hall.
He pulled out his DeLameter and swiftly saved the day,
But then there came Imperials dressed in tones of white and gray.
(Oh, and they all have mooks for the hero guy to punch…)
(7) CLARION INSTRUCTOR READING SERIES. Each summer the Clarion Workshop’s visiting instructors give public readings at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Here is the 2023 schedule of events:
Andy Duncan – June 28th, 7pm
ANDY DUNCAN returns this summer for his third stint as a Clarion Workshop instructor! His honors include a Nebula Award, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, three World Fantasy Awards, and awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Science Fiction Research Association. His latest collection is AN AGENT OF UTOPIA, from Small Beer Press; he narrates nine stories on the Recorded Books audio edition. His non-fiction project WEIRD WESTERN MARYLAND is ongoing. A former board member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, he tweets @Beluthahatchie and lives in Maryland’s mountains, where he’s a tenured English professor at Frostburg State University.
Alaya Dawn Johnson – July 5th, 7pm
ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON is the author of RACING THE DARK, THE SUMMER PRINCE, which was long listed for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and LOVE IS THE DRUG, which won the prestigious Nebula (Andre Norton) Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy. In a return to adult fiction, TROUBLE THE SAINTS, was published by Tor in 2020 and won the World Fantasy Award. In the past decade, her award-winning short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY 2015, FERAL YOUTH, THREE SIDES OF A HEART and ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS. In Mexico, where she has made her home since 2014, Johnson has recently received her master’s degree with honors in Mesoamerican Studies from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Tochi Onyebuchi — July 12th, 7pm
TOCHI ONYEBUCHI is the author of GOLIATH. His previous fiction includes RIOT BABY, a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and NAACP Image Awards and winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction, the Ignyte Award for Best Novella, and the World Fantasy Award; the Beasts Made of Night series; and the War Girls series. His short fiction has appeared in THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, and elsewhere. His non-fiction includes the book (S)KINFOLK and has appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, NPR, and the HARVARD JOURNAL OF AFRICAN AMERICAN PUBLIC POLICY, among other places. He has earned degrees from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
Anjali Sachdeva — July 19th, 7pm
ANJALI SACHDEVA’s short story collection, ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD, was the winner of the 2019 Chautauqua Prize. It was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, Refinery 29, and BookRiot, longlisted for the Story Prize, and chosen as the 2018 Fiction Book of the Year by the Reading Women podcast. Her fiction has been published in MCSWEENEY’S, LIGHTSPEED, and THE BEST AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING, among other publications, and featured on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. Sachdeva worked for six years at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, where she was Director of Educational Programs. She is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Investing in Professional Artists grant from the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation. She currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, and in the low-residency MFA program at Randolph College.
Rae Carson & C.C. Finlay — July 26th, 7pm
In January 2015, CHARLES COLEMAN FINLAY (C.C. Finlay) became the ninth editor of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION. He is also the author of the Traitor to the Crown historical fantasy trilogy, which began with THE PATRIOT WITCH, and a stand-alone fantasy novel, THE PRODIGAL TROLL. He’s published more than forty stories since 2001, many of which have been reprinted in volumes of the YEAR’S BEST FANTASY, YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, BEST NEW HORROR, and other anthologies. Some of his short stories have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, Sidewise, and Sturgeon awards, and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In addition to Clarion, he has instructed at the Clarion Young Authors workshop, the Alpha Writers Workshop, and the Odyssey Online Workshop.
RAE CARSON’s debut novel, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, was published in 2011, and was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Award and the Andre Norton Award, and it was the winner of the Ohioana Book Award for Young Adult Literature. It was also selected as 2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults by Young Adult Library Services Association. The Fire and Thorns Trilogy was a NEW YORK TIMES bestseller, as was her Gold Seer Trilogy. Beginning in 2017, she has written several tie-in stories for the Star Wars universe, including the novelization of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. In 2021, she released her most recent novel, Any Sign of Life. In addition to her novels, her short fiction has been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.
(8) AMAZING VENUE. Marcin Klak came home from Sweden and wrote a glowing Eurocon report for his blog Fandom Rover: “Konflikt – Eurocon with An Astounding Venue”.
… Yet even should the convention be held in a fantastic gothic cathedral it would be bad without the people. And in this regard Konflikt presented itself from the best angle. I was very happy for how the socializing worked. Everything started the day before with a precon party in Williams Pub. The pub also became the palce to visit on every subsequent evening. It was not very big but every day I managed to find a place to sit. In most occasions I was starting at a “Polish table” which later was turning into more international one. Thanks to that I not only enjoyed the company of well known friends but also met some new people.
I was also very glad for the interactions I had at the con itself. I talked with friends who helped me to run the Glasgow 2024 table and with those who were around. The con was also occasion to refresh some of the friendships with people I met before at Swecon in 2016 (and a few times later). Obviously I also had the chance to talk to complete strangers who are not strangers any more….
(9) GRANT CONAN MCCORMICK (1955-2023). Kentucky fan and past publisher of FOSFAX Grant McCormick died June 19 Joseph T. Major told Facebook readers. Major also quoted this tribute to Grant from Carolyn Clowes:
“I’ve never known anyone like Grant. He was a huge intellect and a gentle spirit. I never heard him feel sorry for himself or be angry or rude to anyone. He was generous and sweet and smart as a whip. He always tried to make the best of his circumstances, and he had a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. I am so glad I knew him. We all loved Grant, and we’ll miss him forever.”
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1958 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
I really, really love Robert Sheckley. There was of Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains written with Harry Harrison, along with The Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming series with Roger Zelazny. Yes he liked writing with others. Though he did write The Tenth Victim by himself, a fine novel indeed.
His only Hugo nomination was at Detention for Immortality, Inc., the source of our Beginning this time. No, Retros don’t count here. It was published as Immortality Delivered by Aviation Books sixty-five years ago with cover art by Ric Binkley, and serialized by Galaxy Magazine the same year as “Time Killer”.
Now our Beginning…
Afterwards, Thomas Blaine thought about the manner of his dying and wished it had been more interesting. Why couldn’t his death have come while he was battling a typhoon, meeting a tiger’s charge, or climbing a windswept mountain? Why had his death been so tame, so commonplace, so ordinary?
But an enterprising death, he realized, would have been out of character for him. Undoubtedly he was meant to die in just the quick, common, messy, painless way he did. And all his life must have gone into the forming and shaping of that death—a vague indication in childhood, a fair promise in his college years, an implacable certainty at the age of thirty-two.
Still, no matter how commonplace, one’s death is the most interesting event of one’s life. Blaine thought about his with intense curiosity. He had to know about those minutes, those last precious seconds when his own particular death lay waiting for him on a dark New Jersey highway. Had there been some warning sign, some portent? What had he done, or not done? What had he been thinking? Those final seconds were crucial to him. How, exactly, had he died.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 21, 1932 — Lalo Schifrin, 91. Argentina-American pianist and composer of the music for the original Mission: Impossible series along with The Four Musketeers (1974 version), The Amityville Horror, The Mask of Sheba, The Hellstrom Chronicle, THX 1138, The Cat from Outer Space and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to select some of his work.
- Born June 21, 1938 — Ron Ely, 85. Doc Savage in Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, a film I saw a long time ago and remember little about. He was also, fittingly enough, Tarzan in that NBC late Sixties series. Somewhere Philip Jose Farmer is linking the two characters… Other notable genre roles included being a retired Superman from an alternate reality in a two-part episode “The Road to Hell” of the Superboy series, and playing five different characters on the original Fantasy Island which may or may not be a record.
- Born June 21, 1947 — Michael Gross, 76. Ok, I’ll admit that I’ve a fondness for the Tremors franchise in which he plays the extremely well-armed graboid hunter Burt Gummer. Other than the Tremors franchise, he hasn’t done a lot of genre work as I see just an episode of The Outer Limits where he was Professor Stan Hurst in “Inconstant Moon” (a Niven story) and voicing a few Batman Beyond and Batman: The Animated Series characters.
- Born June 21, 1940 — Mariette Hartley, 83. She’s remembered by us for the classic Trek episode “All Our Yesterdays”, though, as OGH noted in an earlier Scroll, probably best known to the public for her Polaroid commercials with James Garner. She also had a role as psychologist Dr. Carolyn Fields in “Married”, an episode of The Incredible Hulk.
- Born June 21, 1964 — David Morrissey, 59. His most well-known role is playing The Governor on The Walking Dead (which is a series that I’ve not seen and have no interest of seeing as I don’t do zombies) but I saw his brilliant performance as Jackson Lake, the man who believed he was The Doctor in “The Next Doctor”, a Tenth Doctor adventure which was an amazing story. He was also Theseus in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Greek Myths, and played Tyador Borlú in the BBC adaption of China Mieville’s The City & The City. I’ll admit that I’m not at all ambivalent about seeing it as I’ve listened to the novel at least a half dozen times and have my own mental image of what it should be. He has also shows up in Good Omens as Captain Vincent.
- Born June 21, 1965 — Steve Niles, 58. Writer best- known for works such as 30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre, Simon Dark and Batman: Gotham County Line. I’ve read his Criminal Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories and the graphic novel — great bit of horror! Sam Raimi adapted 30 Days of Night into a film.
- Born June 21, 1969 — Christa Faust, 54. It does not appear that she’s written any original fiction save one novel with Poppy Z. Brite called Triads but she’s certainly had a lot of media tie-in work including novels set in the Final Destination, Friday the Thirteenth, Fringe, Gabriel Hunt, Nightmare on Elm Street, Supernatural and Twilight Zone universes. Did you know there’s an entire ecology of novels, fan fiction, a game, comics, even an encyclopedia guide, September’s Notebook — The Bishop Paradox made around Fringe? I hadn’t until I was researching her. One of the perks of doing this.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Thatababy’s joke “reminded me of one of Our Wombat’s books” says Kathy Sullivan.
(13) UPROAR ABOUT AI-GENERATED CREDITS IN NEW MARVEL SERIES. “’Secret Invasion’ Opening Credits Use AI, Prompting Backlash” reports Deadline.
The series, which debuted on Wednesday with just one episode, has touched a sore spot after director Ali Selim confirmed to Polygon that the opening credits were generated by artificial intelligence. Designed by Method Studios, Selim said he thought that the idea of using AI for the opening credits fit into the themes of the show.
“When we reached out to the AI vendors, that was part of it — it just came right out of the shape-shifting, Skrull world identity, you know? Who did this? Who is this?” he said, adding that he doesn’t “really understand” how the artificial intelligence works, though it piqued his interest.
(14) NIMONA. [Item by Steven French.] I absolutely loved the graphic novel – and who could resist a knight called Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin?! “Nimona review – a shapeshifter and a knight join forces in queer science fantasy” in the Guardian.
… What has emerged is a buoyant and good-humoured LGBTQ+ parable, set in a kind of retro-futurist kingdom, super-modern and hi-tech in every way but with a medieval-style queen and a court of knights who have competed hard for the honour of the title “sir”. One of these is Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed), a lowborn person of colour in love with fellow knight Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang), and Ballister is about to be officially dubbed in a gigantic stadium ceremony halfway between the Hunger Games and the Super Bowl….
(15) LEONARD COHEN WAS RIGHT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Then she get you on her wavelength…” “Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact” reports Scientific American.
… Looking at synchrony between bands of brain waves is one way of understanding what’s going on between interacting brains. Another is to look at the activity of specific neurons. “Ultimately our brains are not a soup of averages. They consist of individual neurons that do different things, and they may do opposite things,” U.C.L.A.’s Hong says. Hong and his colleagues were among the first to go looking for this level of detail and study interacting brains neuron by neuron. What they found revealed even more complexity.
Like Yartsev, Hong first doubted that the interbrain synchrony he and his team observed in animals—in their case, mice—was real. He hadn’t yet read the literature on synchrony in humans and told Lyle Kingsbury—at the time a student of Hong’s and the lead scientist on the research and now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University—that there must be something wrong. There wasn’t. Using a technology called microendoscopic calcium imaging, which measures changes in induced fluorescence in individual neurons, they looked at hundreds of neurons at the same time. In pairs of interacting mice, they established that synchrony appeared during an ongoing social interaction. Further, synchrony in mouse brains arose from separate populations of cells in the prefrontal cortex, which Hong calls “self cells” and “other cells.” The former encodes one’s own behavior, the latter the behavior of another individual. “The sum of activity of both self and other cells is similar to or correlated with the sum of activity in the other brain,” Hong says.
What they are seeing goes well beyond previous research on so-called mirror neurons, which represent both the self and another. (When I watch you throw a ball, it activates a set of mirror neurons in my brain that would also be activated if I were doing the same thing myself.) In contrast, the self and other cells Hong and Kingsbury discovered encode only the behavior of one individual or the other. All three kinds of cells—mirror, self and other—were present and aligning in the mouse brains….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Brutal! “Talent Shows Need One Mean Judge” and Ryan George is that judge. (Hasn’t the same guy left comments here, too?)
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mark, Danny Sichel, Kathy Sullivan, Steven French, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]