(1) LITERARY LITIGATION. You have until September 29 to bid on this “Important Edgar Allan Poe Autograph Letter Signed, Regarding His Famous Feud with Poet Thomas Dunn English – ‘…in relation to Mr. English…some attacks lately made upon me by this gentleman…’” at Nate D. Sanders Auctions.
Edgar Allan Poe autograph letter signed, with dramatic content regarding his famous feud with poet and playwright Thomas Dunn English. Poe writes to John Bisco, publisher of the defunct ”Broadway Journal”, which Poe had once edited. Poe asks Bisco to call upon an attorney in relation to ”attacks made upon me” by Mr. English. This is the first time since 1941, when it was sold by Parke-Bernet, that this letter has been at auction.
Although the public feuding between Poe and English was not new – with both men trading veiled barbs in various publications over the years, English raised the stakes when he wrote a letter published in the 23 June 1846 edition of the ”New York Evening Mirror.” Not only did English accuse Poe by name of being a forger, drunk, deadbeat, and scoundrel for besmirching a lady’s honor, but also, perhaps most unforgivable, a serial plagiarist. Poe likely got advance notice of the article as this letter is dated 17 July 1846, only six days before the publication. However, although Poe couldn’t stop the article from running, he was successful in suing the ”Mirror” for libel, collecting $225.06 in damages a year later, likely more than Poe made during his lifetime from writing.
(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chow down with Wesley Chu in episode 181 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast, the first of six recorded at Chicon 8.
Chu’s debut novel, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Top 10 slot, and was followed by three other books in that universe — The Deaths of Tao (also in 2013), The Rebirths of Tao (2015), and The Days of Tao (2016). He’s also published two books in his Time Salvager series — Time Salvager (2015) and Time Siege (2016). His novel Typhoon, set in The Walking Dead universe, was published in 2019.
He’s also the coauthor of the Eldest Curses series with Cassandra Clare, the first book of which — The Red Scrolls of Magic (2019) — debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and was followed by The Lost Book of the White in 2020. His latest novel, The Art of Prophecy (2022), released in August, is the first book in The War Arts Saga. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2014, and won the following year. But that’s not all! He’s also an accomplished martial artist and a former member of the Screen Actors Guild who has acted in film and television, worked as a model and stuntman, and summited Kilimanjaro.
We discussed why his new novel The Art of Prophecy has him feeling as if he’s making his debut all over again, the reason his particular set of skills means he’s the only one who could have written this project, why creating a novel is like trying to solve a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box as reference, the heavy lifting a well-written fight scene needs to accomplish, why you’ll never get to read his 180,000-word first novel, how to make readers continue to care when writing from the POV of multiple characters, the benefits and pitfalls of writing bigger books, why he decided to toss 80,000 words from the second book in his series, the ways in which environments are also characters, and much more.
(3) WHAT PROFESSIONALISM MEANS IN SFF. Morgan Hazelwood shares notes and comments about another Chicon 8 panel, “Publishing As Collaboration”, at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress.
If you want to be a published author, a little professionalism goes a long way.
Bookshelves are packed with volumes about how to properly submit your manuscripts, but how does professionalism function in real-world publishing relationships? Moreover, what defines professionalism from culture to culture? Agents and editors share their best examples of what works best, and how to get back on track if your interactions go off the rails.
The titular panel at WorldCon 80 — otherwise known as ChiCon8 — had moderator Holly Lyn Walrath, with panelists Emily Hockaday, Joey Yu, and Joshua Bilmes.
Hazelwood also presents her comments in this YouTube video.
(4) PATHFINDER. James Davis Nicoll knows there are Martha Wells fans who haven’t yet discovered the rest of her work: “For Murderbot Fans Who Want More: Five Fantasy Books by Martha Wells” at Tor.com.
…Wells’ debut novel, The Element of Fire, appeared in 1993. To put that in terms grognards might better understand, by this point in their careers, Poul Anderson had just published A Knight of Ghost and Shadows, while Lois McMaster Bujold was about to publish Penric’s Demon.
This is, of course, good news! If you are only familiar with Well’s Murderbot books, know that there are plenty more Wells books to read. Allow me to suggest five Martha Wells books that Murderbot fans might like….
(5) THEY, THE JURY. Meanwhile, James Davis Nicoll has assigned the Young People Read Old SFF panel John Varley’s 1979 story “Options”.
This month’s Hugo Finalist is John Varley’s Options. First published in 1979, Options was both a Hugo1 and Nebula2 finalist. Options was popular with both fans and Varley’s peers. It might then seem a pretty safe bet to win the hearts and minds of the Young People.
The second last Eight Worlds (phase one) story published, Options examines the impact of cheap, convenient gender reassignment. By the era most Eight Worlds stories were set, body modification was a common and uncommented upon aspect of the proto-transhumanist setting. Options is set just as the technology becomes available….
(6) DIGGING IN. “House and Senate Democrats prepare resolutions to oppose local book bans” – Politico has the story.
Top congressional Democrats are preparing to address a wave of bans and restrictions on school library materials Thursday with new resolutions that call on local governments “to protect the rights of students to learn,” according to lawmakers and a draft copy of the legislation.
The moves represent urgent statements of concern from President Joe Biden’s party about ongoing controversies that affect as many as 4 million U.S. schoolchildren, according to one recent estimate. The congressional response has won endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association labor unions as well as prominent literary and left-leaning educational interest groups….
Both the House and Senate resolutions will face an uncertain path to a vote.
Alarmed Democratic lawmakers have nevertheless convened hearings this year over political organizing and state restrictions against books and curriculum that address gender identity and race. A group of party pollsters and strategists have also sought to draw voter attention to the controversies during fall’s midterm elections as they attempt to depict conservative-led campaigns as extremist and at odds with a significant share of public opinion.
(7) AUTHOR MAY NEED AROUND-THE-CLOCK CARE. “Rachel Pollack needs your help!” — a GoFundMe appeal has been launched for the American science fiction author, comic book writer, and expert on divinatory tarot.. The goal was $15,000, and at this writing 666 donors have given over $36,000.
As many of you know Rachel is in the ICU.
If she is able to go home, she will need 24-hour care. Up to now, we haven’t needed your help. It is time now. If we are wrong, your pledge will not be collected. We love and honor you …. But you already know that. Keep up the prayers, rituals and love too. All is real and appreciated.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1962 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty years tonight in prime time on ABC, The Jetsons debuted its very first episode, “Rosey the Robot”. Yes, a SF cartoon would start on in network television as a primetime series and would be the first program broadcast in color on ABC.
Following its primetime run of three years and seventy-five episodes of roughly twenty to thirty minutes, the show aired on Saturday mornings for decades. It started on ABC for the 1963–64 season and then on CBS and NBC as it was syndicated after the first season.
The series was considered by some critics to be a sort of antithesis of The Flintstones being set in whimsical future approximately a century from now. Naturally William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were the creators, executive producers and producers (along with a long list of other folk) as it was a property of Hanna-Barbera Productions.
It had a very extensive voice cast befitting the number of characters — George Jetson was voiced by George O’Hanlon, Jane Jetson by Penny Singleton, Elroy Jetson by Daws Butler, Judy Jetson, Rosey by Jean Vander Pyl, and Cosmo Spacely by Mel Blanc. No, that’s not a complete cast.
In 1963, Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll each filed $12,000 suits against Hanna-Barbera for breach of contract. They had been cast and signed to the roles of George Jetson and Jane Jetson, respectively. But someone didn’t like their work and fired them after the first episode work was done. (That voice work wasn’t used.) They were paid the five hundred dollars owed and showed off the lot. They claimed they were promised the entire first season, but they had no contract for this hence losing the Court case.
It’s worth noting that this series had devices that did not exist at the time but subsequently are now in usage such as computer viruses, digital newspapers, flatscreen television and video chat to name but a few.
It’s streaming on Amazon and HBO Max.
Audience reviewers at Rotted Tomatoes give it seventy percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 23, 1897 — Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for his role in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work, in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. (Died 1984.)
- Born September 23, 1908 — Wilmar House Shiras. Her story “In Hiding” was published in 1948 in Astounding Science Fiction, followed by a pair of sequels over the next two years, “Opening Doors”, and “New Foundations”. The three stories would become the first three chapters in the novel, Children of the Atom. Almost twenty years later she had three more short stories published in Fantastic. (Died 1990.)
- Born September 23, 1928 — John S Glasby. English writer who wrote a truly amazing amount of pulp fiction of both a SF and fantasy under quite a few pen names that included John Adams, R. L. Bowers, Berl Cameron, Max Chartair, Randall Conway, Ray Cosmic, John Crawford, J. B. Dexter, John Glasby, J. S. Glasby, Michael Hamilton, J. J. Hansby, Marston Johns, Victor La Salle, Peter Laynham, H. K. Lennard, Paul Lorraine, John C. Maxwell, A. J. Merak, H. J. Merak, R. J. Merak, John Morton, John E. Muller, Rand Le Page, J. L. Powers and Karl Zeigfried. It is thought but not confirmed that he produced more than three hundred novels and a lot of short stories in a twenty year period that started in the early Fifties. (Died 2011.)
- Born September 23, 1920 — Richard Wilson. A Futurian, and author of a number of sff short stories and novels, his really major contribution to fandom and to Syracuse University where he worked as the director of the Syracuse University News Bureau was in successfully recruiting the donation of papers from many prominent science fiction writers to the Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library. The list of those writers includes Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven and Frederik Pohl. And, of course, himself. It has been called the “most important collection of science fiction manuscripts and papers in the world.” (Died 1987.)
- Born September 23, 1948 — Leslie Kay Swigart, 74. Obsessions can be fascinating and hers was detailing the writings of Harlan Ellison. Between 1975 and 1991, she published Harlan Ellison: A Bibliographical Checklist plus wrote shorter works such as “Harlan Ellison: An F&SF Checklist“, “Harlan Ellison: A Nonfiction Checklist“ and “Harlan Ellison: A Book and Fiction Checklist”. Her George R. R. Martin: A RRetrospective Fiction Checklist can be found in the Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective collection.
- Born September 23, 1957 — Rosalind Chao, 65. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar.
- Born September 23, 1959 — Frank Cottrell-Boyce, 63. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Doctor Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek.
- Born September 23, 1956 — Peter David, 66. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1—The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Frank and Ernest practice genetic engineering!
(11) SWEET WATER, DRY GULCH. Paul Thompson tells how the landscape where movie history was made was also where American history has been mythologized: “The Girl and the Outlaw: Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ and the End of the Alien” at LA Review of Books.
ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN years ago, Woodrow Wilson hosted the first-ever film screening at the White House. It was for D. W. Griffith’s adaptation of Thomas Dixon Jr.’s The Clansman, which was published originally as a novel but made famous as a stage play that traces the lives of a white family through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Griffith called it The Birth of a Nation. “It’s like writing history with lightning,” the president is reported to have said when he walked out of the East Room. “My only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
In the century since its release, The Birth of a Nation has become shorthand for a specific, and specifically virulent, kind of early-20th-century American racism that was obsessed with relitigating that war and the legislation that came out of it (a shorthand so enduring, in fact, that Nate Parker’s 2016 The Birth of a Nation, about Nat Turner and the rebellion by enslaved people he led in 1831, was very plausibly greenlit because of its title’s provocation)….
Birth also invented whole swaths of cinematic language still in use today. It is likely — probably inevitable — that other filmmakers would have, on their own, in time, devised dramatic close-ups on actors’ faces, tracking shots to follow action as it moved, cross-cutting between different sequences, or fade-outs to exit scenes. But no one had done so before Griffith. The late critic Pauline Kael wrote that “[o]ne can trace almost every major tradition and most of the genres, and even many of the metaphors, in movies to their sources” in his work. The Los Angeles Times called Birth “the greatest picture ever made.”
And yet Woodrow Wilson was not talking about cross-cutting when he called Griffith’s movie “so terribly true.” Aside from sympathizing with its Klan-agitprop politics, the president, who grew up in Virginia and codified Jim Crow laws within the federal government, was apparently engrossed by the film’s other great technical achievement: its intricate battle sequence, where Griffith skips between disorienting close-ups, wide vistas, and the literal fog of war — gun smoke choking the camera.
This footage was not filmed on the ground of old battlefields. It was captured on arid land across Los Angeles County and edging into the Inland Empire….
… In Nope, the Haywoods exist on the fringes of the industry that drives this imagination. But these are, truly, the fringes: Agua Dulce, practical in the age of computer-generated imagery, horse handlers when superheroes have replaced cowboys. The land that the studios have found to be such a convenient stand-in for the moon, Mars, and beyond — the land that is meant to support them as they support the city, unseen until needed — has turned, if not hostile, something just short….
Beyond the traditional routes to fame — sports, entertainment, even politics — Nope hints at a morbid dovetail between its twin focuses on race and film. Though its protagonists are motivated by profit, it’s difficult to watch without thinking, at least in passing, of the way police brutality was disbelieved or minimized before the broad dissemination of videos depicting it — or of the way those videos are in turn reduced over time by cable news and political pundits to mere spectacle….
(12) ON THE RIGHT TRACKS. Paul Weimer makes you want to read this book in “Microreview: Last Car to Annwn Station” at Nerds of a Feather. “Last Car to Annwn Station takes what is now a famous trope in Urban Fantasy –the presence of Faerie in the Twin Cities, and puts his own, Welsh mythological spin. Oh, and Streetcars.”
… Faerie in Minneapolis has been a thing ever since Emma Bull introduced the Faerie to Minneapolis with War for the Oaks, and permanently highlighted the Twin Cities as a hotbed of Faerie activity for games like Changeling the Dreaming, and other stories and novels taking up the cause. A modest but not overwhelming city on the edge of Prairie and forest,plenty of lakes, a vibrant cultural scene that punches above its weight, and much more make the Twin Cities a logical place to set stories like this….
(13) HOW WELL DO YOU SPORCLE? Surely a national trivia convention in Washington D.C. is fandom-adjacent? SporcleCon runs September 23-25. Here is the schedule of events.
(14) THE BLUE BIRD OF HAPPINESS? You probably never thought of doing this. Now you won’t be able to get it out of your mind: “F.D.A. Warning on NyQuil Chicken Alerts Many to Existence of NyQuil Chicken” in the New York Times.
A truism of the internet, central to the work of researchers who study the spread of dangerous trends and misinformation, holds that attempting to discourage bad behavior can, if clumsily handled, reinforce the bad behavior by amplifying it to people who would have otherwise never considered it.
Which leads us to the NyQuil chicken.
In recent weeks, some people on TikTok, Twitter and other sites discovered years-old videos and images of people pouring blue-green NyQuil, a nighttime cold medicine, over chicken breasts in a pan or pot. It was, to be clear, a dangerous idea that no one should do — it could lead to consuming unsafe levels of the product, and over-the-counter medicines should be used only as directed….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Bill, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
13: And if you’re around for this weekend’s Sporcle com, stay till next weekend, when we’re have Capclave (“where reading’s not extinct”) at the Twinbrook Hilton, right next to a stop on the Red Line of the Metro.
(3) Something to watch – tomorrow.
Capclave is at the Rockville Hilton. Twinbrook is the name of the metro stop (at least until metro gets it into its head to rename it. They’ve been on a station renaming kick the last couple years)
12) also, perhaps too subtly, I was also selling people on the charms of my adjacent-to-where-I-live city.
Rosalind Chao was also in several episodes of MASH as a young woman who was separated from her family and ends up marrying Klinger.
In 1988, she was in the TV iteration of “Beauty and the Beast.”
She’s been in a LOT of things since!
Carl Andor says Rosalind Chao was also in several episodes of MASH as a young woman who was separated from her family and ends up marrying Klinger.
She showed up in just two episodes including the series finale.
The reviews of Options over at Young People Read Old SFF were really interesting – I hadn’t read the source material, but I appreciate the detailed and specific critiques pointing out what a different idea of genderfluidity Varley had then compared to people, especially trans people (including non-binary), have today. Also different ideas of gender roles! I especially appreciated the reviewer who pointed out an “option” Varley omitted to explore:
I find it interesting to unpack what possible futures the SF authors of the past didn’t quite manage to imagine–certainly more interesting to me than uncritically praising them for being ahead of their times. (I have a Bradbury rant along these lines like woah.)
On that note, I was less impressed by the comment by Charles Stross earnestly reminding the reviewers that Varley was writing in the 1940s and was super ahead of his time and it’s impossible for anyone younger than a Boomer to understand yadda yadda yadda … I mean, yes. That’s the whole point of the Young People Read Old SFF project. The reviewers are quite aware that these are stories from bygone eras; that the whole dang premise. And their specific assignment isn’t to give these texts the benefit of the doubt for the times they were written in–it’s to engage with the text from their own modern-day sensibilities and lived experience to see how well, or even whether, the stories hold up. Basically Stross is criticizing the reviewers for doing their job, and it’s tiresome.
I especially think that anyone reflexively itching to dive in defending this story should do more listening and less scolding of reviewers for whom the subject of Varley’s thought experiment is a lot more than a dang thought experiment.
For those of you interested in science fiction and trivia, there will be a science fiction trivia contest on the Saturday night of Capclave.
@Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little
I read your comment, then I read Stross’s comment. Nothing he says is critical of the reviewers.
@Carl & @Cat,
I am familiar with Rosalind Chao’s role in MAS*H and AfterMASH for a very obvious reason…
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8) I’ve long felt the Jetson’s theme music is one of the best mid-century Big Band pieces. It deserves a longer treatment than the one-minute original.
Although Poe never made a lot of money, he is remembered for being (among other things) the first writer to attempt to make a living as a writer.
The assertion that “However, although Poe couldn’t stop the article from running, he was successful in suing the ”Mirror” for libel, collecting $225.06 in damages a year later, likely more than Poe made during his lifetime from writing ” shows a remarkable lack of knowledge about Poe’s economics, and is dead wrong.
There are videos from the Poe Museum in Richmond that go into some detail about particular sales and what he got for them. That would be the easiest way for the lazy writer who wrote that to do some homework, or as we sometimes laughingly call it, ‘research.’