(1) FROM FANFIC TO THE TOP. [Item by Steven French.] One to watch out for: after debuting with Boy Parts, ‘a mischievous satire’, and following that up with Penance, based on horrific true events, Eliza Clark is planning a third novel of speculative fiction and a collection of science fiction and horror short stories: “Eliza Clark: ‘I’m more primary school teacher than enfant terrible’” in the Guardian.
…She reckons that being a word-of-mouth success let her fly under the radar of critics ready to dismiss Granta’s selection as a list of commercially unsuccessful unknowns. “But you don’t want to be the arsehole who’s like: ‘Actually, if you were to check TikTok and ask 20-year-old girls on humanities courses at university, you’d find that one of these books is actually very popular,’” she says, with a winningly wicked laugh.
Being underestimated is something of a theme with Clark. In her early teens she read keenly, led by her parents to Tolkien, George RR Martin and Stephen King while finding Nabokov and Murakami on her own (“Ryū, not Haruki,” she adds quickly, as if to make certain I know that extreme horror is her jam, not pervy magic realism). The kind of pupil who once wowed English teachers by writing “pages and pages and pages”, she was blocked by her school from applying to study English at Oxbridge because she got C grades in GCSE maths and French. She then fell into boozing with pals (“it was very easy to underage drink in Newcastle”) and out of love with reading – or at least with books. “My brain had been so boiled by the internet by that point. I shouldn’t have been allowed to have my own laptop! Shock images were so clickable and findable. But I used to write loads of fan fiction and I wouldn’t have had all those years of writing practice.”…
(2) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Cora Buhlert brings us her “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Pride Month Special: ‘Ambush in the Mystic Mountains’”.
…Last year, I posted a Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Pride Month Special called “Fisto’s Significant Other”, in which Fisto and Ram-Man announce that they are a couple. This is only my head canon BTW, but the various cartoons hint quite strongly that Fisto as well as various other heroic warriors are not straight. And besides, they do make a cute couple.
Therefore, I decided to do another Pride Month Special featuring fan favourite Malcolm a.k.a. Fisto and his significant other Ram-Man a.k.a. Krass. Especially since I had just picked up the new Masterverse Deluxe Ram-Man figure.
Ambush in the Mystic Mountains…
(3) INCREASING REPRESENTATION. Arturo Serrano interviews two game designers, Miguel Colón (designer of Boricubos) and Adrián Mejía (designer of Koboa) in “More Latin American content for your TTRPG sessions” at Nerds of a Feather.
…AS: How did you ensure a respectful representation of elements from real-world cultures?
MC (Boricubos): There is a careful balance here. As someone who is very entrenched in the culture, I had to make sure I represented what I loved about some of the stories I was told, some of the research I did, and some of the things that I came up with individually. This all blended together quite nicely, I believe. Ultimately, it is not my role to speak for every Puerto Rican, other Latin Americans, or anyone, really. I am trying to represent something deeply personal to me, share with others something that would make them interested in doing their own research, and present a new point of view for people. It’s very hard because, in order for the setting to work, there have to be things that are inspired by the actual culture, but also things that are completely independent. I think the best thing for people to take away is that Boricubos represents some stories and legends, but is not a one-for-one recreation.
AM (Koboa): It is an ongoing process. We have built up a team of South American designers, writers, and artists with extremely diverse backgrounds and experiences. Additionally, all our content (writing, art briefs, illustrations, etc.) goes through two or more cultural and sensitivity consultants, to ensure we don’t inadvertently represent elements of culture in ways that are harmful or offensive….
(4) HWA PRIDE. The Horror Writers Association blog continues this month’s theme with “A Point of Pride: Interview with Mae Murray”.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I didn’t have an idyllic childhood. I was exposed to a lot of pain, loss, and trauma from an early age, which made me feel alienated from my peers. I enjoyed the horror genre because it allowed me to deal with those themes in an imaginative, transformative way. It was safe to talk about certain traumas in the context of a horror story, because for a child/teen/young adult, the truths were almost too brutal to articulate any other way. But it’s more than just that… I found horror sexy, exciting. I hated being afraid, and I loved being afraid. It was the push and pull of daring yourself to be brave. It’s a challenging genre that begs to break formulae time and again. It can be romantic, erotic, terrifying, cathartic, disgusting, beautiful. It truly is a genre that has it all and can do it all.
(5) TIDAL FLOW. Really, I’m not convinced by this first paragraph. Is adding “-punk” to a noun anything more than a tactic to market a short list of books? “Diving into the Sub-Genre of Oceanpunk” at Book Riot.
From steampunk to dieselpunk to clockpunk and more, there is a proliferation of sub-genres and mashups that fall under the punk literature umbrella. Defined by their embrace of retro, yet futuristic technologies and specific elements and settings, these books transport readers to an imaginative world in which characters move through an altered landscape from our own. Punk sub-genre books often play with timelines and settings in ways that both echo our own world and change it up. For example, steampunk writers craft fictional worlds that are both futuristic and have echoes of Victorian fashion and steam powered-technology, while cyberpunk authors focus on what happens when a high-technology society meets humanity. Oceanpunk writers take us under or onto the high seas, to explore what it would be like to live in a water-dominated world….
(6) IT’S POSSIBLE AFTER ALL. “‘I’m not that geeky guy any more’: Simon Pegg on comedy, action heroes and staying at home” in the Guardian.
… Pegg’s ascent remains one of the great, recent Hollywood creation stories. In one of the most entertaining parts of it, he and Wright were asked in an interview, after Shaun of the Dead, whether they planned to leave the UK behind and make action films in the US. Pegg responded, “It’s not like we’re going to go away and do, I don’t know” – scanning his brain for an imaginary, and unimaginable, blockbuster – “Mission: Impossible III.”
The reply was honest. Pegg had not long before done an audition for a small part in the Mission: Impossible franchise, something involving a helicopter, and heard nothing. But then, the original director, Joe Carnahan, left the project and Cruise brought in Alias creator JJ Abrams, who was a huge fan of… Shaun of the Dead! Ricky Gervais was set to play Cruise’s sidekick Benji Dunn, but dropped out and Pegg was given the nod. “So it was a huge irony that I’d said, ‘I’m not going to go off and do this,’” says Pegg. “But then, at that time, there was this attitude that anyone who went off to Hollywood was betraying their roots in some sense or selling out. It’s not like you cross some misty bridge at night and never come home again. So many people assume that I live over there. But, you know, I live in Hertfordshire.”…
(7) MONTY PYTHON’S DYING CIRCUS. ICv2 carried news of CMON’s game expansion “Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Zombicide 2E”. There’s a gallery of images of the components at the link.
CMON announced Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Zombicide 2E, a new board game expansion, which will arrive in April 2024.
Zombicide 2E just got a whole lot more wacky with the introduction of this expansion featuring the elements of the classic TV show by the legendary English comedy troupe. The set revisits some of the show’s funniest sketches by adding Monty Python-themed survivors , enemies, and equipment. There is also a new mission and if the expansion is preordered off CMON’s website, it includes an exclusive pack of Gumbys.
This set comes with 21 miniatures, 8 tokens, 47 cards, and a rules leaflet. The expansion requires a base set to play and it will retail for $50.00….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1994 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Now here’s an author that I really like — Mike Resnick. There’s really nothing by him that I’ve not enjoyed immensely.
First and foremost are the four novels in the John Justin Mallory series, followed by his Future History series and the ever so silly Galactic Midway affair with one with the best novel titles ever, The Best Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy.
Let’s not forget the Weird West Tale series which I consider one of the best steampunk Western series ever done.
And then there’s the “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” novella, the source of our Beginning this Scroll, which was first published in 1994 by Axolotl Press, part of Pulphouse Publishing. Part of his Birthright Universe series, it would win a Hugo at Intersection. A Nebula would be also would be won as well as a HOMer. There was also a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nomination
And here’s our Beginning…
The creatures came again last night.
The moon had just slipped behind the clouds when we heard the first rustlings in the grass. Then there was a moment of utter silence, as if they knew we were listening for them, and finally there were the familiar hoots and shrieks as they raced to within fifty meters of us and, still screeching, struck postures of aggression.
They fascinate me, for they never show themselves in the daylight, and yet they manifest none of the features of the true nocturnal animal. Their eyes are not oversized, their ears cannot move independently, they tread very heavily on their feet. They frighten most of the other members of my party, and while I am curious about them, I have yet to absorb one of them and study it.
To tell the truth, I think my use of absorption terrifies my companions more than the creatures do, though there is no reason why it should. Although I am relatively young by my race’s standards, I am nevertheless many millennia older than any other member of my party. You would think, given their backgrounds, that they would know that any trait someone of my age possesses must by definition be a survival trait.
Still, it bothers them. Indeed, it mystifies them, much as my memory does. Of course, theirs seem very inefficient to me. Imagine having to learn everything one knows in a single lifetime, to be totally ignorant at the moment of birth! Far better to split off from your parent with his knowledge intact in your brain, just as my parent’s knowledge came to him, and ultimately to me.
But then, that is why we are here: not to compare similarities, but to study differences. And never was there a race so different from all his fellows as Man. He was extinct barely seventeen millennia after he strode boldly out into the galaxy from this, the planet of his birth—but during that brief interval he wrote a chapter in galactic history that will last forever. He claimed the stars for his own, colonized a million worlds, ruled his empire with an iron will. He gave no quarter during his primacy, and he asked for none during his decline and fall. Even now, some forty-eight centuries after his extinction, his accomplishments and his failures still excite the imagination.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 25, 1894 – Hermann Oberth. Physicist, engineer, pioneer of rocketry. Read Jules Verne as a child, built his first model rocket at age 14. Doctoral dissertation Rockets into Space. Consulted on Fritz Lang’s film Woman in the Moon (1929). Worked on early rockets, came to work for NASA. Autobiography in Clarke’s anthology The Coming of the Space Age (1967). Werner von Braun said “Oberth was the first.” (Died 1989) [John Hertz]
- Born June 25, 1903 — George Orwell, born Eric Blair in 1903. Animal Farm is fantasy of a political sort, but 1984 is clearly genre, and it may hold the record for the most neologisms added to English by a single SF book. Orwell was mostly known as a journalist and essayist, including his spats with H.G. Wells, most notably in “Wells, Hitler and the World State”. (Died 1950.) [Alan Baumler]
- Born June 25, 1925 — June Lockhart, 98. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space which amazingly only ran for three seasons. She has a number of genre one-offs including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Greatest American Hero and Babylon 5. She appeared in the Lost in Space film as Principal Cartwright.
- Born June 25, 1935 — Charles Sheffield. He was the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society. He won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novelette “Georgia on My Mind” and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel for Brother to Dragons which is an amazing read. Much of his fiction is in his Heritage Universe series; the linked short stories of space traveler Arthur Morton McAndrew are a sheer comic delight. Besides his Hugo Award at ConAdian (1994) for “Georgia on My Mind”, he had several nominations as well. Chicon V (1991) picked two, “A Braver Thing” novelette and the “Godspeed” short story. Oh, and he was toastmaster at BucConeer. (Died 2002.)
- Born June 25, 1947 — John Maddox Roberts, 76. Here for being prolific with his Conan pastiches, seven to date so far. I’ll also single out his The SPQR series beginning with SPQR which are police-procedural mystery novels set in Ancient Rome. Someone at the Libertarian Futurist Society really, really likes the Island Worlds as it has been nominated three times for the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
- Born June 25, 1956 — Anthony Bourdain. That’s a death that hit me hard. Partly because he’s round my age, partly because, damn, he seemed so interested in everything that I couldn’t conceive him committing suicide. And yes, he was one of us with three works to his credit: Get Jiro!, (with Joe Rose and Langdon Foss), Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (with Joe Rose and Ale Garza) and Hungry Ghosts (with Joel Rose, Alberto Ponticelli, Irene Koh, Paul Pope). The first two are on DC, the latter‘s on Berger Books. (Died 2018.)
- Born June 25, 1981 — Sheridan Smith, 42. She makes the Birthday list for being Lucie Miller, a companion to the Eighth Doctor in his Big Finish audio adventures starting in 2006 and running through at least this year. Her only video genre work was being in The Huntsman: Winter’s War as Mrs Bromwyn.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro introduces us to King Kong’s mom.
(11) TO THE THIRD POWER. Paul Weimer praises a trilogy with a satisfying ending: “Review: The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso” at Nerds of a Feather. “Melissa Caruso finishes the Rooks and Ruin trilogy, as Ryx and her friends must deal with the return of all the demons of legend and myth to the world.”
It’s not been a good time for Ryx. After the revelations of the second book in the series (the main one I will discuss anon), The Quicksilver Court, and the disastrous events, she and the rest of the magical-problem solving Rookery are on the backfoot. All the demons are on the loose, both the Vaskandrans and Serene Empire seem to be ready to pummel each other. But the Rookery is still in the fight, hoping to get new and old friends together to oppose the world-spanning threat.
This is the story of The Ivory Tomb, the third and final volume in Caruso’s Rooks and Ruin series, her second series set in her world of Vaskandar and the Serene Empire….
(12) KEEPING AN EAR ON ANIME. This month Anime Explorations’ Summer of JoJo continues with the second season of the series, and the first half of the Stardust Crusaders arc of the story, with their first pair of JoJos, and introducing the concept of Stands into the series. “Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 9: JoJo Part 2 – Stardust Crusaders (Road to Egypt Arc)”.
(13) FLAME ON. The Hunger Games star finds hunger isn’t always a bad alternative: “Jennifer Lawrence Sobs in Pain While Eating Spicy Wings” on Hot Ones, where they taste progressively spicier sauces.
(14) LIKE YOU NEED TEENY-TINY BRANDING IRONS FOR ANTS. “How To Visit This Secret Trader Joe’s in California” at Apartment Therapy.
Taking a trip to your local Trader Joe’s is probably a highlight of your week, so if you got the chance to check out the most secretive Trader Joe’s in the country, that might just make your entire year. There’s a hidden (and exclusive!) Trader Joe’s in Irvine, California, that’s making waves on social media. You need a ticket to get in and … it’s completely pint-sized.
This top-secret Trader Joe’s is located inside Pretend City Children’s Museum, and the entire store has been shrunken down to give children the experience of grocery shopping. Natasha, the creator behind the Trader Joe’s List Instagram account, visited the spot that comes with child-sized shopping carts, make-believe food, faux flower bouquets, and pretend cash registers….
(15) MARKS THE SPOT. Whatever happened to the “on the internet no one knows you’re a dog” meme? Ryan George’s new video shows what it would be like “If Dogs Had Podcasts”.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And HISHE says this is “How The Super Mario Bros Movie Should Have Ended”.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Alexander Case, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]