(1) A BEST EDITOR WINNER. SFFWorld interviewed editor Ellen Datlow:
A working life spent reading SF, Fantasy, and horror short stories sounds like a dream come true. Are there down sides to being an editor? Do you have any advice for aspiring editors?
ED: I’ve always loved short stories, so working in the short fiction field is indeed the perfect job for me. It’s hard to find time to read outside the genres in which I’m currently working. I mostly read short fiction for work, so picking novels that I hope I’ll enjoy is the challenge. They usually have to be dark/horror so I can cover them in my annual Best Horror of the Year. The administration is a pain: sending out contracts, paying royalties to a hundred writers is onerous (even with Paypal). But everything else is great. I love the whole editing process, from soliciting new stories that would not exist except for me asking; working with my authors on story revision (if necessary); and even the line edit.
Advice: Read. Read slush. If you don’t love reading, you have no reason to be an editor
(2) SCIENCE ADVISOR. Financial Times profiled Cal Tech physicist Spyridon Michalakis in “’I help Hollywood film-makers get their science right’”. (Warning: I had to answer a 10-question survey ad to see the full article.)
In the article Michalakis discusses his work through The Science and Entertainment Exchange, “which connects film and TV producers with scientists.” He’s consulted on Ant-Man, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and other shows.
Here’s what he had to say about Gravity:
“It’s a shame when I see films that inadvertently forgo scientific accuracy for added drama. For instance, in the movie Gravity when Sandra Bullock’s character grabs hold of George Clooney’s character while they’re both floating out in space, he tells her she has to let go of him, otherwise both of them are going to fly off and die because he’s pulling her farther and farther away from the space station. The trouble is, they’re so far away from Earth that, in reality, nothing would actually be pulling them.
“I find myself watching that scene and thinking they could have achieved the same drama just as easily with something called ‘conservation of momentum.” With this, the only way for her to get back to the station would be for Clooney’s character to actively sacrifice himself by pushing Bullock away from him. It would have been real science and it would have made the movie better. You watch these things and you say to yourself, ‘I’m just a phone call away.'”
(3) OHH-KAYYY…. The Washington D.C. public library has an idea for drawing attention to oft-challenged books. Is it innovative, or over-the-top?
Every year, libraries around the country observe Banned Books Week, to remind the public that even well known and much loved books can be the targets of censorship. This year, Washington D.C.’s public library came up with a clever idea to focus attention on the issue: a banned books scavenger hunt.
Now, readers are stalking local shops, cafes and bookstores looking for copies of books that are hidden behind distinctive black and white covers. There is no title on the cover, just a phrase — such as FILTHY, TRASHY or PROFANE — which describes the reason why some people wanted the book banned.
For those lunchin' @UnionMarketDC– we just did an #UncensoredDC drop while scoping out dreamy goods for the home pic.twitter.com/jLubu86RkW
— DCPL Literati (@dcpl_literati) September 15, 2016
(4) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CONSERVATIVE. John Shirley, who identifies as a progressive, argues “Why Conservatives are a Necessary Component of a Vital Society” in a post for Tangent Online. I have to say it brings to mind the ending of Harlan Ellison’s “Beast Who Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.”
….Every democracy genuinely needs conservatives. And not so we can have someone to argue with. We need them for their perspective; we need them for their call for individual hard work, which is always a good thing in itself, when people can find it; we need them for the reluctance at least some of them show to get engaged in wars that squander blood and treasure. And we need them to be skeptical of our schemes.
We need them to push back.….
This website, Tangent Online, relates to the science-fiction field, and so do I. From time to time the sf field has been storm-lashed by political controversies, essentially conservative vs. liberal and vice versa. Going back, it cuts both ways: back in the day, Donald Wollheim and Fred Pohl and Judith Merril and others were slagged by conservative sf writers and editors for leaning left. Now the pendulum has swung way, way the other direction and certain reasonable conservatives amongst science fiction writers and critics are sometimes being over scrutinized, even punished, for outspokenness and some fairly normal speech tropes—most recently, Dave Truesdale was actually ejected from the Worldcon for having declared on a short story panel, in the space of a few minutes, that science fiction was being unfairly truncated by politics, and free speech gagged by political correctness emanating from the left. I listened to a tape of the remarks and could find nothing that broke any convention rules. Some defending the convention fall back on claims that his use of the term “pearl clutchers” is sexist, is hateful to women. But in my experience the term does not apply to women, particularly—it’s about people who are making a drama of nothing, probably just to get attention. Underlying the con committee’s action was, I suspect, emotional fallout from the “Sad Puppies” Hugo Award controversy. But people shouldn’t let emotions dictate their interpretation of the rules.
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
- September 15, 1907 – Fay Wray
(6) RICK RIORDAN PRESENTS. Disney has announced a new Rick Riordan Presents imprint reports Publishers Weekly. Riordan will curate a line of books that introduces selected writers of mythology-based novels.
Rick Riordan has gotten a variation on the same question from his fans about a zillion times: When are you going to write about (fill in the blank): the Hindu gods and goddesses? Ancient Chinese mythology? Native American legends?
Now, he has an answer – of sorts: Disney-Hyperion is launching Rick Riordan Presents, an imprint devoted to mythology-based books for middle grade readers. The imprint, which will be led by Riordan’s editor, Stephanie Owens Lurie, hopes to launch with two books in summer 2018. The books will not be written by Riordan, whose role will be closer to curator than author.
…The plan is to launch the imprint in July 2018 with two books, though those books have not yet been acquired yet. “We’ve approached a couple of people but some of them are adult writers so they would be trying to do something completely different,” Lurie said. “The point of making this announcement now is to get the word out about what we’re looking for.”
“Rick just can’t write fast enough to satisfy his fans,” said Lurie, whose official title will be editorial director of the imprint. “I think he’s doing an incredible job writing two books a year already.”
There’s also this: ”I know he feels that, in some instances, the books his readers are asking for him to write are really someone else’s story to tell,” Lurie said.
(7) MAJOR SF ART EXHIBIT. The IX Preview Weekend Popup Exhibition will take place at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, DE from September 23-25. Tickets required.
Imaginative Realism combines classical painting techniques with narrative subjects, focusing on the unreal, the unseen, and the impossible. In partnership with IX Arts organizers, the Delaware Art Museum will host the first IX Preview Weekend, celebrating Imaginative Realism and to kick off IX9–the annual groundbreaking art show, symposium, and celebration dedicated solely to the genre.
Imaginative Realism is the cutting edge of contemporary painting and illustration and often includes themes related to science fiction and fantasy movies, games, and books. A pop-up exhibition and the weekend of events will feature over 16 contemporary artists internationally recognized for their contributions to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Marvel, DC Comics, Blizzard Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast, among others.
There will be workshops by two leading sf artists as well.
Sept 24 @ 7:00 pm
Workshop with Bob Eggleton: Seascapes Sept 24 @ 10:15 am – 12:15 pm and 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm During this hands on demonstration and group painting salon, Bob Eggleton will walk participants through creating a seascape in acrylic paint with a nod to the ocean as ‘character’. Incorporated into the illustration storytelling aspect of this demonstration will be construction of the ocean as narrative using elements, from the subtle to the extreme, like sea monsters, antique ships, rocks, waves, clouds, lighting, and odd bits of flotsam and jetsam debris. Bob will share his own experience as well as that of his heroes, classic 19th and 20th century illustrators and fine art Masters. Pre-registration required. Supplies: Attendees should bring preferred acrylic painting setup, including brushes, paints, and paper/panels/boards.
Drawing Workshop and Lecture with Donato Giancola: Compositional Drawing Sept 25 @ 10:15 am – 12:15 pm and 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Donato will share his knowledge and approach to producing skillfully drafted drawings. From sketch to finish, the aesthetic and technical decisions the artist makes will be laid bare for observation and comments offering wonderful insight into the foundations of creativity of a modern artist. The four-hour workshop is for the artist who aspires to pursue further development and refinement of their skills in composition and as storytellers. Attendees of all skill levels are welcome as the focus of the workshop is upon creative problem solving, not technical execution. Pre-registration required. Supplies: Attendees should bring along their own preferred drawing utensils (pencils, paper,sketchbooks, etc) as well as a few favorite images/photos of themes they wish to create work upon. Alternative drawing supplies will also be available for use.
(8) WHAT’S A HUGO WIN WORTH? Kay Taylor Rea of Uncanny Magazine says Hugo wins are helping sales there. (Uncanny won the 2016 Best Semiprozine Hugo.)
@renay @bookgazing considering the Hugo's meant we've already passed last year's site traffic at Uncanny saying awards don't drive sales? Hm
— Kay Taylor Rea (@kaytaylorrea) September 4, 2016
(9) NOT LETTING THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG. Mary Robinette Kowal posted a photo of what’s in the suitcase she’s taking to the Writing Excuses Workshop.
(10) NO ONE BEHIND THE WHEEL. Matthew Johnson is the latest Filer to leave a poetic masterwork in comments:
Inspired by item 7:
My self-driving car must think it queer
To stop without a charger near.
I wonder, did I hurt its pride
When I pressed DRIVER OVERRIDE?
Whose woods these are I think I spy:
in June the Google Car went by
And so the trees, though deep in snow, are green
When viewed upon my tablet screen.
Most days I doze away the route
That my car drives on our commute
And trade the sight of forests dark and deep
For just another hour’s sleep.
This night, the darkest of the year
Some demon woke me, passing here,
And so I stopped, though home is far
Got out and left my loyal car.
A single line of deer track goes
Into the forest, deep with snow
My road, I know, was once just such a trail
Blazed by cloven hooves and white-tipped tails
Crowdsourced by deer to find the gentlest route
Through tree and mountain, lake and chute
Then followed feet, at first in leather clad
To travel where the hooves of deer had.
My car’s soft beep awakens me:
To stay longer would unreasonably
Expose the maker to liability
And besides, it voids the warranty.
Well, a contract is a contract, after all,
And speaks louder than the forest’s call
So I return, my feet no longer free,
Because I clicked on I AGREE.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
And miles to go while fast asleep,
And miles to go while fast asleep.
[Thanks to Lee, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]
Standback (directly, and Petréa indirectly): Since the question has come up, I thought I would discuss what my aims are in covering certain stories and individuals.
It’s been over a year since I “downshifted” from reporting everything I could find people saying about the Hugo controversy and changed my focus to reporting just the Puppy links that shared something significant about their plans and tactics that might have an impact on the award or efforts to change the rules. I expect to keep that up, especially since we’ve been promised another round of Sad Puppies, and I don’t know why Vox would stop what he’s doing with the Rabids.
However, in the course of my daily reading I sometimes see something by, for example, Sarah Hoyt or Amanda Green that I consider interesting and worth quoting in its own right. Nearly every time I do that, however, people would assume I must be holding the item up for criticism. Or for many commenters, if the source is a Puppy, their experience has conditioned them to have a negative response. In other words, I’ve found I need to give these items a heavy-handed recommendation or else they get treated like raw meat even though that isn’t my intention.
I suppose if I were fully consistent, that might help. I admit I’m not. I might have an impulsive emotional reaction to what someone wrote online (humor, anger) and just go with that. But one personal rule I try hard to stick to is not to cover statements by people I feel have simply lost touch with reality — because who does that help? Sometimes a commenter will introduce a quote or link to such material, and I’m not barring others from doing so, though I find it happens much less often when I’m setting a different example.
Lastly, sort of like the Mule in Foundation, people will unpredictably show up here and write comments to outrage regular commenters and satisfy their need for attention. My feeling is that every wrong statement does not need a reply, especially about things that have been threshed out dozens of times before. There are others, though, who feel every misrepresentation of history etc. must be answered lest the blog’s audience be misled. And that’s why it’s easy for someone to “rattle people’s cages”. And these episodes also lend a false impression that we’re seeking to recycle the rage.
Kurt Busiek on September 17, 2016 at 10:34 am said:
And many fans who aren’t writers are still friends or relatives* of professional (or would-be) writers, and may therefore still be interested in writing-related topics.
* I qualify in both categories, and am authorized to hand out Official Marvel-Style No-Prizes to any fans here of my auntie Melisa’s Skyrider books. 🙂
Mike, I like your methodology. 🙂
It just occurred to me both that expression and “yank someone’s chain” imply the target of the activity–which is not always a bad thing–is a prisoner.
Of what? Good question. Their own emotions? Their own preconceptions? Their own biases? Something like that, but I’m not sure precisely what.
Your AUNTIE MELISA? As in C. Michaels? Well, hot damn. I have all the Skyrider books, some in battered paperbacks, picked up in used bookstores throughout the years. I also have both her Faerie books. I always thought of Melacha (however you pronounce that–I never have figured that out) as a cooler Han Solo.
@ John A Arkansawyer
I’ve always visualized both “yank s.o.’s chain” and “rattle s.o.’s cage” as referring to the discredited practice of tormenting physically-restrained non-human animals in order to find entertainment in their impotent reactions. E.g., jerking the chain of a “dancing bear” to make it perform. Or for an SFF-context example, Dudley Dursley banging on the cage at the snake exhibit to try to get a reaction from the python, for an example of “rattling a cage”.
@Heather Rose Jones: I’d bet you’re right on etymylogically. But they’ve easily made the transition to humans. Now I’m wondering whether it implies the humans are captives or that they’re animals. Or both. Or if I’m overinterpreting. I do that a lot.
ETA: Anyone lacking proof that I’m a bad person, consider this: I first thought your abbreviation “s.o.” meant “significant other”.
EATA: I bet “jerked around” has the same etymology.
EATAPEACH: I love that record! How did I only discover it this year?
@Mike: Hear, hear to your entire comment 🙂
I think you do a tremendous job curating items for the File. I’ve definitely noticed the “downshift” in what makes a post File-worthy, and I think you’re doing an absolutely terrific job striking that balance. I’ve also definitely noticed and that you spotlight good posts by Puppy-affiliated authors, and that’s worthy of appreciation.
File770 is a marvellous space and community, and that is something you’ve created, tended, and groomed. We do sometimes devolve into bouts of repetative puppyflaming. That’s a part I’m less fond of, but it’s also part and parcel of, well, how the Internet works.
I think this is part of it: I don’t think anybody is seeking to recycle the rage (except Beale). It’s organic; a natural, self-reinforcing dynamic that’s really easy to fall into. (Heck, I fell into it myself, on a different topic, on the second comment page of this scroll.)
I don’t really know any way to stymie that dynamic; part of why it’s so powerful is that any one spark can ignite reactions and counter-reactions and keep growing. And you can’t keep everybody from sparking ever.
The best I can do is try to stay aware myself, keep in mind that this behavior is usually not intentional, and occasionally point and say, “Look! A dynamic!” 😛
@Joe H.: Sorry for the late reply; I was out of town this weekend. Thanks for the reminder about the Tor.com Kurtz re-reads – I followed along online for the first trilogy. I didn’t have time to re-read as it went, but I know the books well, so it was fun/interesting anyway to read Tarr’s posts and see the comments on her posts. Looks like I need to catch up on her latest posts!
@Mike Glyer: “Nicholas Whyte: I voted for the Leckie novel first, but having read The Fifth Season and Uprooted, too, I was glad that if my first choice couldn’t win, that Jemisin’s book did.”
Like you, I had Leckie first – but I’m happy with Jemisin’s win. This is something that Buis and others seem to forget – how the voting works. Her original claim made no sense in part because instant-run-off tallying of votes makes any winner a consensus winner (to paraphrase the Hugo Awards web site, the least disliked book wins). So it’s not necessarily the absolute fave of the majority of voters, however the majority of voters are groovy with it as a winner (else they’d’ve put it under No Award or left it off their ballot).
Oops, I thought I ticked the box, but apparently not.
Bonnie McDaniel on September 17, 2016 at 7:10 pm said:
Heh, please accept this belated No-Prize, and treat it with all the respect it deserves.
Melacha is pronounced “me-LOCK-ah”. I know this because it’s also (by a not-so-amazing not-coincidence) my cousin’s name. 🙂
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