(1) TOLKIEN SOCIETY AWARDS NEWS. The Tolkien Society invites the public to submit nominations for The Tolkien Society Awards 2023 through February 26. Membership is not required to participate in the first round. Once the shortlist is compiled, however, only members will be eligible to vote on the winners, who will be announced April 1.
(2) WHAT HAS IT GOT IN ITS GARBAGE TRUCKS? “Refuse firm Lord of the Bins ordered to change its name by Tolkien franchise” reports the Guardian.
A refuse firm in Brighton called Lord of the Bins has been ordered by lawyers to change its name after being accused of breaching trademark laws.
The two-man waste collection business was contacted by Middle-earth Enterprises, which owns the worldwide rights to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Nick Lockwood and Dan Walker run the company, which collects household, building and office waste across East Sussex and West Sussex.
The pair said they have been issued with a cease and desist notice after it was claimed they were in breach of the well-known franchise’s trademarks.
As well as changing the firm’s name and website, they have been forced to ditch their company slogan – “One ring to remove it all”.
(3) TWEET DECAY. Ursula Vernon speaks for many in a remark that went viral on Twitter.
(4) CHEESE PLEASE. In “An AI app walks into a writers room” Charles Stross passes along ChatGPT’s answer to an inventive question.
Question to ChatGPT: What is the plot of the unpublished script Charles Stross wrote for Wallace and Grommit?
(5) GUNN CSSF BOOK CLUB. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club has chosen for the month of February to read Akwaeke Emezi’s YA novel, Pet.
Set in the utopian town of Lucille, Emezi’s novel portrays a society that has taught children that monsters and evil no longer exist. Jam, the protagonist, soon questions the beliefs of her society when she is faced with a real monster, who is nothing like the stories she has heard. Winner of the Stonewall Book Award for LGBTQ+ writing in 2020, Pet contemplates the classic societal conception of good versus evil.
Readers are invited to join the virtual event on Friday, February 24 at Noon (Central). Register here.
(6) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers Yoon Ha Lee’s “The Ethnomusicology of the Last Dreadnought” as an encouragement to subscribe.
It is not true that space is silent.
The darkness between stars is full of threnodies and threadbare laments, concertos and cantatas, the names of the dead and the wars that they’ve fed. Few people are unmoved by the strenuous harmonies and the strange hymns. Fewer people still understand their significance, the decayed etymologies and deprecated tongues….
(7) TRIBUTE TO A CRITIC. The Strange Horizons – 30 January 2023 issue is devoted to the late Maureen Kincaid Speller. (Via Ansible.)
In January 2022, the reviews department at Strange Horizons, led at the time by Maureen Kincaid Speller, published our first special issue with a focus on SF criticism. We were incredibly proud of this issue, and heartened by how many people seemed to feel, with us, that criticism of the kind we publish was important; that it was creative, transformative, worthwhile. We’d been editing the reviews section for a few years at this point, and the process of putting together this special, and the reception it got, felt like a kind of renewal—a reminder of why we cared so much. In the couple of months that followed, we made grand plans for future projects, and even started a podcast.
The criticism special was also the last major project the three of us worked on together, before Maureen’s cancer diagnosis. We lost her in September.
We’d already been toying with the idea of doing another criticism special in 2023; when the subject of a tribute issue to Maureen was broached, the only way we could envision it was through the critical work that she loved.…
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2014 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
So let’s talk about Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Spade/Paladin Conundrums which got their start in the “Stomping Mad” story.
I’m very fond of our community and equally fond of mysteries as y’all well know by now. So you will not find it at all surprising that I really love these stories. They’ve got a perfect central character as you’ll see below, a great setting as they’re all set at various Cons and the stories are all fascinating. What’s not to like?
Rusch for a long time only did short stories set here, really great ones, a fair number of them, mostly collected in Early Conundrums, and those exist in a stellar audio version which is narrated by Rish Outfield, but two years ago Ten Little Fen: A Spade/Paladin Conundrum came out. It’s a superb mystery and a even better look at Con culture.
Here’s the Beginning of the series in that story.
SHE CALLED HERSELF the Martha Stewart of Science Fiction, and she looked the part: Homecoming-queen pretty with a touch of maliciousness behind the eyes, a fakely tolerant acceptance of everyone fannish, and an ability to throw the best room party at any given Worldcon in any given year.
So when a body was found in her party suite, the case came to me. Folks in fandom call me the Sam Spade of Science Fiction, but I’m actually more like the Nero Wolfe: a man who prefers good food and good conversation, a man who is huge, both in his appetite and in his education. I don’t go out much, except to science fiction conventions (a world in and of themselves) and to dinner with the rare comrade. I surround myself with books, computers, and televisions. I do not have orchids or an Archie Goodwin, but I do possess a sharp eye for detail and a critical understanding of the dark side of human nature.
I have, in the past, solved over a dozen cases, ranging from finding the source of a doomsday virus that threatened to shut down the world’s largest fan database to discovering who had stolen “the Best Artist Hugo two hours before the award ceremony. My reputation had grown during the last British Fantasy Convention when I—an American—worked with Scotland Yard to recover a diamond worth £1,000,000 that a Big Name Fan had forgotten to put in the hotel’s safe.
But I had never faced a more convoluted criminal mind until that Friday afternoon at the First Annual Jurassic Parkathon, a media convention held in Anaheim.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 5, 1906 — John Carradine. I’m going to count Murders in the Rue Morgue as his first genre appearance. After that early Thirties film, he shows up (bad pun I know) in The Invisible Man, The Black Cat, Bride of Frankenstein, Ali Baba Goes to Town, The Three Musketeers and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Look, that’s just the Thirties. Can I just state that he did a lot of genre work and leave it at that? He even had roles on The Twilight Zone, The Munsters, Lost in Space, Night Gallery and the Night Strangler. (Died 1988.)
- Born February 5, 1919 — Red Buttons. He shows up on The New Original Wonder Woman as Ashley Norman. Yes, this is the Lynda Carter version. Somewhat later he’s Hoagy in Pete’s Dragon followed by being the voice of Milton in Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July. He also played four different characters on the original Fantasy Island. (Died 2006.)
- Born February 5, 1922 — Peter Leslie. Writer in a number of media franchises including The Avengers, The New Avengers (and yes they are different franchises), The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. ISFDB also lists has writing in the Father Hayes series but I don’t recognize that series. (Died 2007.)
- Born February 5, 1924 — Basil Copper. Best remembered for Solar Pons stories continuing the character created as a tribute to Sherlock Holmes by August Derleth. I’m also fond of The Great White Space, his Lovecraftian novel that has a character called Clark Ashton Scarsdale has to be homage to Clark Ashton Smith. Though I’ve not seen them them, PS Publishing released Darkness, Mist and Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basil Copper, a two-volume set of his dark fantasy tales. (Died 2013.)
- Born February 5, 1934 — Malcolm Willits, 89. Author of The Wonderful Edison Time Machine: A Celebration of Life and Shakespeare’s Cat: A Play in Three Acts which he filmed as Shakespeare’s Cat. He also co-edited Destiny, an early Fifties fanzine with Jim Bradley.
- Born February 5, 1940 — H.R. Giger. Conceptual designer in whole or part for Aliens, Alien³, Species and Alien: Resurrection to name a few films he’s been involved in. Did you know there are two Giger Bars designed by him, both in Switzerland? And yes they’re really weird. (Died 2014.)
- Born February 5, 1941 — Stephen J. Cannell. Creator of The Greatest American Hero. That gets him Birthday Honors. The only other genre series he was involved with was The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage thirty years ago which I never heard of. He also created the Castle series with Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame and was one of the actual players at the poker games on the series. View one of them here. (Died 2010.)
- Born February 5, 1964 — Laura Linney, 59. She first shows up in our corner of the Universe as Meryl Burbank/Hannah Gill on The Truman Show before playing Officer Connie Mills in The Mothman Prophecies (BARF!) and then Erin Bruner in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. She plays Mrs. Munro In Mr. Holmes, a film best described as stink, stank and stunk when it comes to all things Holmesian. Her last SF was as Rebecca Vincent in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom Gauld passes along advice about what women writers need.
(11) WAKANDA WORD STUDY. Dictionary.com has a rather interesting article about “The Names Of Black Panther & Wakanda: Their Meaning & Significance”. (Spoiler warning.)
Comic book creators and filmmakers pick some superhero names just because they sound cool. Other names, though, are chosen for their deep connection with a character or setting. Many of the names from Wakanda, the home of Black Panther, are especially rich in symbolism and significance.
Join us as we answer these questions and more:
- Is there a real Wakanda that inspired the name of the technologically advanced supercountry?
- What is Black Panther’s real name?
- What does Namor’s name mean?
(12) BEST DRESSED. The New York Times reviews “A Murder Mystery With Clothes to Die For”.
“The Traitors,” a new reality game show, hinges on startling revelations. In episodes of the series, which is framed as a whodunit, cast members are regularly “murdered” (kicked off). Others are “banished” (also kicked off). But some of the most astonishing reveals have nothing to do with the plot — and everything to do with what outfit the show’s host, the actor Alan Cumming, will appear in next.
There are pink plaid suits. Herringbone tweed capes. Sleek little kilts. “Perhaps, rather alarmingly,” Mr. Cumming said, “the vast majority of the clothes were mine.”…
(13) CARROLL AT NYRSF. A video of Jonathan Carroll’s NYRSF Reading has been posted.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Matt Mitchell plays all the parts in “When ‘The Balloon’ Comes South”.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Cat Eldridge.]