The award is named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, and is presented in two categories, Chapbook and Book.
Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota by Amelia Gorman (Interstellar Flight Press, 2021)
Tug of a Black Hole by Deborah P Kolodji (Title IX Press, 2021)
Visions at Templeglantine by John W. Sexton (Revival Press, 2020)
Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O’Brien (Interstellar Flight Press, 2021)
Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken. by Christina Sng, Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, and Geneve Flynn (Yuriko Publishing, 2021)
Unquiet Stars by Ann K. Schwader (Weird House Press, 2021)
There were 14 chapbooks nominated and 45 full-length books; 62 SFPA members voted.
2022 Elgin Chair Jordan Hirsch writes speculative fiction and poetry in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her work has appeared with Apparition Literary Magazine, The Dread Machine, Daily Science Fiction, and other venues.
…Still no word but maybe today I can meet with both my psychiatrist and a lawyer because I think I am spent. I am fighting back a flare-up, I am ignoring the costochondritis pain in my chest, and I finally managed to get food down without fear of it coming back up. I think I’ll be good for now but this is still dangling over my head and freaking me out. I have ripped out so much hair on one side that I contemplated cutting it all off again. I just need to breathe deeply and take it moment by moment. The first step, the tests were negative. Remember that. The second step, get my meetings set, and the third step, don’t panic and do my best to carry on.
I love you, Loves. Thank you for keeping me sane. I think without your support I would have crumbled and given up. This is a style of attack that I’m unfamiliar with but with like most things, a Black girl’s tears won’t get you shit so you shake it off and move on. I can attempt to start to do that because of your belief in me. Thank you so very much….
(2) PANEL MODERATOR’S STATEMENT. Sarah Avery, moderator of the “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them” which is the source of the complaint, made a statement in File 770 comments. (It’s also on Twitter: thread starts here.)
I was the moderator on that panel, and the first moment I heard about what happened to Stephanie was 30 minutes ago from a person whose only involvement with Balticon was as an attendee. I am Not Thrilled about having to go to Facebook and File 770 to get details about this situation. After searching my email inbox, spam, and incoming social media messages, I haven’t found any attempts to contact me from the people investigating the incident. It’s possible there have been attempts I haven’t found, or that the person investigating got my contact info wrong, but it’s not looking great at the moment.
Because I got stuck in traffic on the way into Baltimore, I was a little over 10 minutes late for a panel I was scheduled to moderate. That is mortifying and entirely on me. It is possible that whatever the complaint is about happened while I was not yet in the room.
I’ve been playing back my recollections of the panel from the moment I did arrive, trying to match things Stephanie said with the adjectives in her account of the accusations against her. As a white cishet woman, I know I am not optimally attuned to what is hurtful to all the kinds of people whose lives are unlike mine. (The reason I volunteered to moderate a panel on why writers need diversity readers is that I knew I specifically was a writer who needed them.) Until I can find out more about the contents of the complaint, I’m not able to make any kind of declaration on either the complainant’s assertions or Stephanie’s about the diversity readers panel.
I can say that nothing I saw or heard called for the way Stephanie was pulled out of an ongoing panel. That event shocks me.
(3) ONE AUTHOR’S THOUGHTS GOING FORWARD. Gail Z. Martin on Facebook criticized Balticon’s handling of the code of conduct complaint, and demanded conventions implement specified improvements if they expect authors to accept the risks of appearing on panels. The text of the post can also be read in the following tweet:
(4) WISCON COVID EXPOSURE REPORT. WisCon was held last weekend in Madison, WI and the committee is collecting and sharing reports of positive Covid tests from those who attended in person in this Google spreadsheet: “Possible exposure locations”. There are 10 positives listed to date.
Those who attended the convention in person are receiving email updates:
What makes Arab and Muslim science fiction special?
EA: That’s the million-dollar question. I’d say we place the spirit center stage. We want to shelter it from corrupting influences, technological arrogance included, which is a Quranic injunction. Evil suggestions don’t just come from the devil; they come from within. And the world on the outside is perceived as mystical and miraculous.
We have a lot in common with sci-fi from the Global South, too. Our concerns lie elsewhere, whether it’s turning the deserts green or maintaining family values, or honoring religion. As Arabs especially, we love gardens and vines and family get-togethers in our mini-utopias. As Muslims, we have a much more holistic vision of the future, of what the future should look like, with peaceful coexistence and a much more genteel attitude to everything, from mental and spiritual health, to alien contact and space exploration. Our heroes, while predominantly men, aren’t criticized for crying during profound moments and women are surprisingly well represented and proactive in our stories. There’s still room for improvement though.
Of course not all Arab and Muslim sci-fi is quite so benign and optimistic, especially post-Arab Spring, but you can still feel that positive force in the background, even as younger authors take on the mantle of alien invasion epics and dystopias. You find chivalry and redemption creeping in through the back door. Our humor is very tongue-in-cheek too.
“There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist,” began the message from Disney accounts. “We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva’s story to unfold. If anyone intends to make her feel in any way unwelcome, we have only one thing to say: we resist.”
Ingram plays Reva Sevander, aka the Third Sister, who is hunting Obi-Wan Kenobi for Darth Vader in the new Disney+ series, shared on her Instagram stories several of the absolutely horrendous online messages aimed at her, some of which included the N-word.
“There’s nothing anybody can do about this,” Ingram said in a video after sharing the spewed venom she’s endured. “There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate. I question my purpose in even being here in front of you saying that this is happening. I don’t really know.”
She continued, “The thing that bothers me is this feeling inside of myself, that no one has told me, but this feeling that I have to shut up and take it, that I have to grin and bear it. And I’m not built like that. So, I wanted to come on and say thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I’m not going to put myself. And to the rest of y’all, y’all weird.”
Around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Ewan McGregor posted a message about the abuse via the Star Wars account, both about Obi-Wan Kenobi being the most-watched Disney+ original series premiere, but most importantly about the abuse Ingram has endured.
“It seems that some of the fan base has decided to attack Moses Ingram online and send her the most horrendous, racist [direct messages]. I heard some of them this morning, and it just broke my heart,” he said. “Moses is a brilliant actor. She is a brilliant woman. And she is absolutely amazing in this series. She brings so much to the series, she brings so much to the franchise. And it just sickened me to my stomach that this had been happening. I just want to say as the lead actor in the series, as the executive producer on the series, that we stand with Moses. We love Moses. And if you’re sending her bullying messages, you’re no Star Wars fan in my mind. There’s no place for racism in this world. And I totally stand with Moses.”
(7) COUNT THE CLOCK THAT TELLS THE TIME.Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green offers “A Word or Two of Warning” about a defect in Kindle Direct Publishing’s countdown clock.
…Except, the change didn’t take. It didn’t take twice. Additional calls to KDP Support revealed the following:
KDP knows there is a problem with the countdown clock. It does occasionally decide to take time away from the author
KDP knows this but has not, so far at least fixed the issue
KDP techs have no way to override the program, no matter what the reason. Once that timer starts, the software runs everything and humans are helpless. (Hmm, sounds like maybe they are sharing software and/or developers with FB. It worships the power of the ‘bot as well)
And here’s the kicker. The only options you are given when you are at this point is to cancel the pre-order and hope Amazon will waive the penalty of no pre-orders allowed for a year (and there is no guarantee they will) or you can go ahead and upload the file, incomplete though it might be and, as soon as the book goes live, upload the correct file.
As I later announced on my blog and social media, I chose the latter. Except I’m sure I did it in such a way Amazon won’t exactly appreciate. I uploaded the file with a disclaimer attached saying it is not the final file. That if you have bought the book and you see this particular page, you have the wrong file and this is how to get the correct file. I included instructions on how to download the correct file or contact me–and I set up a special email account for this purpose–in case it doesn’t work….
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
Like many of us that are attracted to horror, it was real-life trauma. I saw and heard things no one else could as a child but the adults around me advised me to ignore it. It became a thing to not talk about because it made everyone around me uncomfortable. As an adult, I understand now what a creepy child I was but at the time it was frustrating. Horror stories were more real to me than daily life because they were populated with people like me in them. People heard disembodied voices, interacted with shadows, and saw people no one else could. They were often told, like me, it was just imagination but they knew—and I knew—these things were real. It made me feel less of an outsider to read these stories. I realized I wasn’t actually so weird, I was just in the wrong story.
Alex Brown is an award-winning SF&F critic (2020 Ignyte Best Critic Award), librarian and fan writer who has written for Locus, Tor.com, NPR and Buzzfeed. They’ve also written two non-fiction books about the Napa Valley….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1990 – [By Cat Eldridge.] I saw Total Recall at a theater when it first came out and yes I really, really like it.
It was directed by Paul Verhoeven, three years after he had done RoboCop. Though he didn’t get a Hugo nomination for that film, he’d get one for this film at Chicon V. (And Starship Troopers picked one up at BucConeer.) The screenplay was by Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusettand and Gary Goldman from a story by O’Bannon along with Ronald Shusett and Jon Povill. It was produced by Buzz Feitshans, who previously produced Conan the Barbarian, and Ronald Shusett.
As you know, it was based (rather loosely) upon Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in April 1966. Shusett was the first individual to option this story.
Ok, this film is pure SF pulp. It’s not to be taken seriously, the setting is pure pulp, the characters are more fitting for a Thirties serial than the setting they are in and the script is at best just cobbled together. More than one review notes that it went through a lot of rewrites.
The primary cast of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox are perfect for it. Schwarzenegger had long wanted to play the lead but studio politics kept him from doing so. Eventually it was OKed by a studio that had a studio that had, oh you get the idea.
To this day, no one knows how much it costs to produce but it’s thought to be at least eighty million dollars which was OK as it made a quarter of a billion dollars. Yeah it was a very popular film with the public.
Now what did the critics think of it? It got a decidedly mixed reception.
Rita Kempley at the Washington Post really didn’t like it: “Aside from a few terrific effects, ‘Total Recall’ is not good science fiction. Despite the big budget, it is a wasteland of latex prostheses, dreary sets and broken glass. Its main selling point — the story line — betrays the audience with its sheepish ending. And its star gives an unusually oafish performance, a cross between Frankenstein’s monster, a hockey puck with swollen glands and Col. Klink. Like Stallone, Schwarzenegger is a talking cartoon whose objective is to make violence fun. And they called Conan the barbarian.”
But Michael Wilmington at the Los Angeles Times was much kinder: “Verhoeven, working from an often-rewritten screenplay distantly based on Philip K. Dick’s brilliant 1966 short story ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,’ keeps ringing these truth-or-illusion changes throughout the movie. And if they don’t always click, if the movie sometimes seems overwhelmed by its budget and its legendary third-act problems, it’s still entertainingly raw and brutal, full of whiplash pace and juicy exaggeration.”
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most excellent seventy eight percent rating.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. As we have noted here, his 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. That was a British award and the first one, this very one, was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.)
Born May 31, 1914 — Jay Williams. He’s best remembered for his young adult Danny Dunn SFF series which he co-authored with Raymond Abrashkin. Though Abrashkin died in 1960, Williams insisted HIS CO-author should continue to receive credit as co-author of all 15 books of this series. Though his first novel, The Stolen Oracle was a mystery for adults, he did write mysteries for young adults, such as The Counterfeit African and The Roman Moon Mystery, both written in the Forties. (Died 1978.)
Born May 31, 1930 — Elaine Stewart. Born with the name of the of Elsy Henrietta Maria Steinberg. She was Jane Ashton in Brigadoon which is surely genre. She also in The Adventures of Hajji Baba as Princess Fakzia. (Died 2011.)
Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison, 72. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought it did. He was Logan 5 in Logan’s Run which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object and that series actually lasted awhile), Touched by an Angel, Outer Limits and Miracles.
Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 61. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it.
Born May 31, 1976 — Colin Farrell, 46. I remember him first as Bullseye in the much dissed Daredevil film. (It wasn’t that bad.) He was in Minority Report as Danny Witwer, a film I’ve skipped watching. And I see he’s listed as being the third transformation of Tony in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. H’h. Now he was Peter Lake in Winter’s Tale, a take off of Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, a novel no film could do justice to. Oh, he’s Holt Farrier in Dumbo… Now I know he was Douglas Quaid / Agent Carl Hauser in the remake of Total Recall but as you know from the essay above I really, really like the original film so I’ve not watched it. So who here has seen it?
Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 43. She has a very well-crafted alternative history series, the Romanitas series, in which Rome didn’t fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novel — Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds me of a Heinlein YA novel.
Born May 31, 1995 — Jeremy Szal, 27. He says he was (probably) raised by wild dingoes. He writes about galactic adventures, wide-screen futures, and broken characters fighting for hope in dark worlds. He is author of the dark space-opera novel Stormblood published in February 2020 (more recently launched in the US), and is the first of a trilogy. His short fiction has appeared in Nature, Abyss & Apex, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, The Drabblecast. He is the fiction editor for the Hugo-winning StarShipSofa, which once lead to Harlan Ellison yelling at him on the phone. He carves out a living in sun-bleached Sydney, Australia. He loves watching weird movies, collecting boutique gins, exploring cities, and dark humour. Find him at http://jeremyszal.com/ or @JeremySzal (By Jeremy Szal)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Broom Hildalearns why a bar is popular with a certain kind of deceased customer.
Digital artist Saba Moeel creates her Pink Cat Daily comics on Instagram for around five years, with a following of around a quarter of a million people. Pink Cat is a human/cat hybrid that sports many tattoos, takes drugs, and talks in spiritual slang and punchlines, and is basically what if Tank Girl and Garfield had a kid and left her with a bunch of hippies. Pink Cat has been collected in comic book collections, but it’s not the physical manifestations of Pink Cat that are causing problems, it’s the digital. Of the non-fungible kind.
TCAF is rescinding its invitation to Pink Cat, also known as Saba Moeel, due to code of conduct violations and the concerns expressed by the comics community.
TCAF initially extended a programming invitation to Moeel on the basis of their daily digital comics work on Instagram, and the personal importance that work had to one of our team members. At the time of this invitation, the organization was unaware of Moeel’s online conduct, plagiarism, or allegations of tracing. We apologize for programming and promoting this artist.
We made a mistake. As a promise to our community, we will use this as a learning moment as we move forward as an organization, and will re-examine the checks and balances we currently use to process our programming decisions.
“Yeah these guys invited me to disinvite me. They payed flight hotel etc, i didnt even know who they were. Very weird
“This isn’t my world, I’m a real life artist I don’t care about organizations or trade shows, I have my own following it’s not a cult following it’s mainstream. The LA times called me the Gen Z Garfield, we aren’t in the same league.”
The 40-year-old actress announced Friday that she’s exiting the futuristic dystopian Hulu series after the show’s fourth season, which aired last spring.
“After much thought, I felt I had to step away from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ at this time,” Bledel said in a statement provided to USA TODAY by her representative. “I am forever grateful to (show creator) Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support.”
…Lewis had a lifelong interest in medieval cosmology. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that Earth was stationary, surrounded by seven concentric “heavens,” each with its own planet which in turn had particular influences on Earth, affecting people and events in various ways. While we might consider this cosmological model entirely outdated, Lewis found some continuing importance in it. He described the planets as “spiritual symbols of permanent value” and wrote about them extensively. The best planet, according to medieval thought, was Jupiter, responsible for “heartsease” and prosperity, bringing about festivity and magnanimity in peaceable kingdoms. The worst planet was Saturn, sponsor of death, destruction, darkness, and disaster. The very word “disaster” means “bad star,” and Saturn was the most malignant of the wandering stars.
Lewis remarked that his own generation had been “born under Saturn,” doomed to experience an especially bleak period in history. Having endured the horrors of the Great War, some of his contemporaries had adopted a fixed attitude of pessimism and cynicism. They had come to believe that the universe was, in Lewis’s term, “Saturnocentric.” Hence the modernist tendency to focus on chaos and disorder, T. S. Eliot’s “heap of broken images” as he calls it in “The Wasteland.” Hence also the new impetus behind such artistic and philosophical movements as absurdism and nihilism. For how could there ever again be purpose and hope in the wake of the Battle of the Somme? On the opening day of that battle, July 1, 1916, almost twenty thousand British soldiers were killed and nearly forty thousand wounded. What further proof need there be that gallantry and patriotism are folly? The poet Wilfred Owen took aim at the schoolboy’s Horatian tag, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (“it is sweet and seemly to die for one’s country”), calling it “the old Lie.”…
When the sky gets light in the east I often wake. Pleased that day has almost arrived, I sometimes snuggle back into my sleeping bag for a last snooze; other times I put my glasses on and lie on my back and watch the stars wink out. The dawn sky is gray before it takes on the blue color. Sometimes peaks to the west of camp have a dawn alpenglow, more yellow than pink. It’s cold, but often I’m done with sleeping, and things are visible, and very likely I have to pee….
(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was on Jeopardy! patrol tonight when this happened:
Category: Book of the Year
Answer: “Daybreak-2250 A.D.” is by prolific author Mary Alice Norton, better known to sci-fi fans by this first name.
Witness the action-packed induction of John Stewart to the Green Lantern Corps, and his first thrilling adventure alongside some familiar faces, when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases the all-new animated movie Green Lantern: Beware My Power on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital on July 26, 2022.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ib “Honest Trailers: Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” the Screen Junkies say that Ben Schwartz, who voices Sonic, has played so many characters that are blue that we should look for him in the AVATAR sequel. Also, the second act diversion into a Hawaiian-set rom-com is “the best Tyler Perry movie hidden in a video game project.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Hampus Eckerman, JeremySzal, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Maytree.]
The Speculative Literature Foundation is pleased to announce that Angela Yuriko Smith is the winner of the 2021 Older Writers Grant. Angela Yuriko Smith is the winner of the 2021 Older Writers Grant for her submission “Perfect Girlfriend.” Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author of Okinawan descent. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. In 2019 she won the SFPA’s poetry contest in the dwarf form category. She has been nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize. She co-publishes Space and Time, a publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction since 1966. Join the community at spaceandtime.net or visit @AngelaYSmith on Twitter.
The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers Grant is awarded annually since 2004 to a writer who is fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. The $1,000 grant can be used as each writer determines will best assist his or her work.
Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as five awards made annually to writers, including the Diverse Worlds and Diverse Writers Grants. For more information, visit speculativeliterature.org.
(1) JOCO VIRTUAL CRUISE IN PROGRESS. [Item by Todd Mason.] The Jonathan Coulton Cruise, an annual “fringe”/”geek” cultural floating convention, is this year providing a free online version of the (essentially) convention… “JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021”. It started April 10 and runs through April 14.
A worldwide pandemic may have prevented the physical sailing of JoCo Cruise 2021 from happening, but the spirit of JoCo Cruise SHALL NOT BE DENIED OR CONTAINED. As such, we at The Home Office have uploaded our collective consciousness to the cloud, and JoCo Cruise is going to ride the ones and zeros as JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021.
Concerts, panels, gaming, Shadow Cruise (attendee-run) events, dance parties, a Fancy Pants Parade—all the things you love about JoCo Cruise, packed together and streamed over the Netterwebs for your socially-distanced convenience!
Looking ahead to the New York City of Print NEH Summer Institute, I wanted to collect some notes and resources together for Science-Fiction-focused locations around the city, including the original Manhattan-based offices for the magazines Amazing Stories and Astounding Science-Fiction, and home and business locations in Brooklyn of importance to the SF writer Isaac Asimov….
(3) HATE CRIMES IN CAMBRIDGE. [Item by rcade.] The SFF writer/editor Cecilia Tan tweeted Saturday evening that she had just witnessed an assault outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, bookstore. Thread starts here.
I’m in line to enter the bookstore and there is an Asian American couple in front of me. A white guy in tights wearing a mask goes to walk between us and he just outright punches the Asian guy in the ribs as he goes by!
The Asian guy grabbed his arm and yelled what the hell is wrong with you? The white guy pulled away yelling “what the hell you think is wrong with me?” And then walked away quickly before I could get my phone out to take a photo.
The incident occurred outside Porter Square Books. Tan said the store has security cameras it will be checking for potential footage to provide police.
Tan was walking home from the bookstore when she encountered another hate crime in Porter Square. The Judy Jetson hair salon had a boarded-up window with the words, “You can break our window but you can’t break our Pride.”
The salon’s Instagram feed revealed Friday that someone threw a brick through a window displaying a Pride flag. The salon stated, “Our support for the LGBTQ community will never be silenced.”
(4) HELPING VARLEY. A new post at John Varley’s blog, “Recovering”, announces a GoFundMe to sustain him after his quadruple bypass:
… When I had the heart attack and quadruple by-pass surgery, Spider [Robinson] came to the rescue again. He asked his good friend, Steph Herman, to co-ordinate a fundraising project to help cover costs of rehab, rent and bills which were barely being covered by social security and diminishing royalties.
…If he had raised a tenth that much I would still have been stunned. There have been some donations from old friends (and thank you all for that; you know who you are), but the bulk has come from people I don’t know, have never met, and probably will never meet. (Though I would love to.)
To think that my stories have moved so many people … well, it literally chokes me up. After all, I’m just a guy sitting here in the dark, trying to think up stuff that might amuse people … and perhaps a little more if I’m lucky and it all comes together. Being a writer of short stories and novels is a lonely profession. There are no story conferences, no meetings in the writers’ room to hash out the details. There’s just me and this damn blank screen.
Over the years I have had a certain amount of “fan” mail, and it has all been greatly appreciated. But nothing like this. In the end, all I can say is thank you….
(5) DIGNITY, ALWAYS DIGNITY. In his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, Isaac Asimov discussed Discon I (1963). He explained that at the last-minute chair George Scithers asked him to replace Theodore Sturgeon as master of ceremonies at the Hugo Awards, also at the last minute. Asimov explains that he really wanted a Hugo and thought being MC meant he wouldn’t get one.
Finally, there was only one Hugo left to be awarded, and it was labeled ‘Dramatic Award.’ I didn’t think anyone would be interested in that because it would be go to some movie or TV show with no one involved who was personally known to anybody, so I let the audience wait while I launched into a short speech of not-so-mock annoyance.
‘You know why I’ve never had a Hugo?’ I said, waving my fist in the air. ‘It’s because I’m Jewish, that’s why. It’s because of anti-Semitic prejudice in high places, It’s because you’re all a bunch of Nazis.’ Naturally, this got a big laugh, and I opened the envelope and found that the ‘Dramatic Award’ typed on it had been put there as a blind.
The final Hugo, of course was for me. I started reading, ‘For putting the science in science fiction, Is—‘ and stopped cold.
There wasn’t any question I was surprised. The day never existed when I could fake that look of stunned astonishment on my face, The audience roared; it roared for ten minutes. When everyone died down and I caught my breath, George handed me my Hugo and I said, ‘You’ve ruined my shtick, damn it.’ (I tried to feign indignation, but I was smiling all over. I was delighted.)
Apparently Ted Sturgeon had been chosen master of ceremonies because they wanted to give me a Hugo, and apparently he had been kept away by family difficulties.
I said, ‘Then why did you ask me to be master of ceremonies, George? There were plenty of other choices.’
‘Oh well,’ said George, ‘we thought it would be funnier that way, but I have to admit no one ever dreamed you would lead up to it so beautifully.’
I said, ‘Don’t you think it would look peculiar to have me give a Hugo to myself?’
‘Sure,’ said George, ‘but the committee decided you were the only writer in science fiction who could give himself a Hugo without being embarrassed,’
Correct: does the written work do what it’s supposed to? Has it been edited and formatted? Have the redundancies been weeded out? Is it as correct as possible? Have run on sentences and passive voice been eradicated?
Secure: does the written work have vulnerabilities? Is it stored in the cloud, or backed up on your computer? Do you need a hard copy? Do you save on an external drive?
Readable: is the written work easy to read and comprehend? Are there plot holes and lapses in logic? Does the dialogue feel natural? Is the world believable? Can the reader follow along and understand what you wish to communicate?
Elegant: does the written work leverage well-known patterns? Does it make use of balanced syntax? Is there texture, rhythm and a variety of adjectives? Does the piece flow, bringing the reader along for the ride or must they struggle to stay afloat in the text? Is there a compelling start and satisfying end?
Altruist: does the written work leave the humanities better than what they were? Does it inspire other writers to improve their work as well? Is it cleaning up unneeded bias, improving diversity, introducing better writing through worn out trope refactoring? Does it have a purpose beyond ego, whether this is to teach, enlighten or entertain?
(7) SLF NEEDS JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is calling for volunteer jurors to help read applications for the Older Writers Grant.
Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in speculative fiction, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work.
Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.
Finally, we’re offering a tiny honorarium of $25 — it’s not much, but enough to buy a nice dinner as a reward for your labors!
If interested, please send a brief note to L.D. Lewis (email@example.com) with the subject line: JUROR.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 11, 1986 –On this day in 1986, The Toxic Avenger was released nationally two years after it premiered in New York City. It directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (who is credited here as Samuel Weil) as written by Kaufman and Joe Ritter. It was the first installment of The Toxic Avenger franchise which would encompass three more films, a Marvel Comics series and a short lived children’s animated series. Mitch Kessler was the Toxic Avenger with his voice provided by Kenneth Kessler. Critics at the time ranged in their opinions from disgusted to delighted with the mainstream ones decidedly not liking it; it currently holds an excellent approval rating of sixty three percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Kaufman and Herz are currently attached to a reboot with Peter Dinklage in the lead role.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 11, 1883 – Camille Marbo. Won the Prix Femina, later served on its jury, then its president. Commander of the Legion of Honor. Medal of French Gratitude for war work. With her husband mathematician Émile Borel, founded La revue du mois (“Review of the month”), scientific & literary. Friend of Marie Curie. Three times president of the Société des gens de lettres. Of her forty books, novels, monographs, memoirs, I know of only one translated into English, The Man Who Survived; it is ours and a masterwork. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born April 11, 1892 – William Timlin.The Ship That Sailed to Mars (hello, David Levine) really does have to be enough for us, because WT never finished The Building of a Fairy City. Luckily The Ship is superb. You can get it on paper if you look hard – even the 1977 Easton Press ed’n is plenty rare – but quick and cheap for Kindle in English, Spanish, Japanese. The Wayback Machine’s has a hint of WT’s calligraphy. Here is the ship’s arrival. Here is the finished palace of the princess. Here is another moment. This is from The Building. (Died 1943) [JH]
Born April 11, 1920 — Peter O’Donnell. Best remembered as the creator of Modesty Blaise of whom EoSF says her “agility and supple strength are sufficiently exceptional for her to be understood as a Superhero.” O’Donnell also wrote the screenplay of The Vengeance of She based on H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She novel. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born April 11, 1941 – Gene Szafran. Fourscore covers. Here is Double Star. Here is Down in the Black Gang. Here is To Ride Pegasus. Here is Bridge of Ashes. Here is Beyond the Beyond. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born April 11,1949 — Melanie Tem. She was the wife of genre author Steve Rasnic Tem. A prolific writer of both novels and short stories, she considered herself a dark fantasy writer, not a horror writer. Bryant, King and Simmonds all praised her writing. If I had to make recommends, I’d say start with Blood Moon, Witch-Light (co-written with Nancy Holder) and Daughters done with her husband. ”The Man on the Ceiling” won her a World Fantasy Award. She died of cancer which recurred after she’d been in remission. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born April 11, 1953 — Byron Preiss. Writer, editor and publisher. He founded and served as president of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, and later of ibooks Inc. If I remember correctly, ibooks was the last publisher for Zelazny for most of his books. Any idea what happened to those rights after ibooks went into receivership? The only book I can find him writing is the children’s novel Dragonworld which is co-authored with Michael Reaves who was involved in including Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born April 11, 1951 – James Patrick Kelly, age 70. Five novels, a hundred shorter stories, a dozen poems. Two Hugos, one Nebula. “On the Net” in Asimov’s, and for twenty years a story there every June. Interviewed in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons. His Website says “I’ve left some things for you here. Take whatever you want. Remember me.” [JH]
Born April 11, 1955 — Julie Czerneda, 66. She won the Prix Aurora Award for her Company of Others novel. She also received one for Short Form in English for her “Left Foot on A Blind Man” Story, both early in her career. She has a long running series, The Clan Chronicles which is as sprawling as anything Martin conceived. (CE)
Born April 11, 1957 – Marina Fitch, age 64. Three novels (alas, Let Us Prey is lost in the German Laßt uns jagen), a dozen shorter stories. Loves rubber-stamp art, bicycling, Celtic harp & harmonica duets with her husband. [JH]
Born April 11, 1963 — Greg Keyes, 58. Best known for The Age of Unreason tetralogy, a steampunk and magical affair featuring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. He also wrote The Psi Corps Trilogy and has done a lot of other media tie-in fiction including Pacific Rim, Star Wars, Planet of The Apes, Independence Day and Pacific Rim. His Age of Unreason series (Newton’s Cannon, A Calculus of Angels, Empire of Unreason and The Shadows of God) was nominated for a Sidewise Award. (CE)
Born April 11, 1973 – Jon Evans, age 48. Two novels for us (Arthur Ellis Award, Foreword Book of the Year), four others; travel to a hundred countries; software engineering. Writes for The Times of India, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, TechCrunch. Founding director of the GitHub Archive Program. [JH]
Born April 11, 1974 — Tricia Helfer, 47. She is best known for playing the Cylon model Number Six the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series and voicing Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft II gaming franchise. She played Charlotte Richards aka the Goddess of All Creation on Lucifer. She also voiced Boodikka in Green Lantern: First Flight, and had one-offs in Supernatural, Warehouse 13, the unsold 17th Precinct pilot, a recurring voice role in The Spectacular Spider-Man, Chuck, Human Target, Tron: Uprising, The Librarians and apparently played Dracula once in Van Helsing. (CE)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Get Fuzzyplays with movie titles in what Daniel Dern assures is “fan-type-humor.” It would certainly fit in here.
“Off the Mark” shows what the term “superspreader” brings to the Mark Parisi’s mind.
(11) ALL ABOARD. Now that there will be an in-person Worldcon this year, there will be a Traincon from Chicago to the Worldcon and back announced “Conductor” Bill Thomasson. A Traincon 6 Facebook group is hosting discussions and providing an alternative source of updates.
DisCon III will take place in Washington, DC, from Wednesday, December 15, through Sunday, December 19. This news is very recent and I won’t be looking at the details of Traincon organization until after Amtrak resumes regular service next month, but I wanted to give you a heads up. My tentative plan, if the timing works, is to maximize the rail experience by taking the Cardinal in one direction and the Capitol Limited in the other. I am also contemplating the possibility of giving us a full free day in DC to check out all the wonderful tourist attractions in that city (or to assist the con with load-in/load-out if that is your thing). I would be interested in hearing whether you would prefer that free day before or after the con.
As usual, the group ticket discount will depend on how many people sign up, but I don’t yet know the details of how Amtrak will be handling group reservations in 2021. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to a really great trip and to a great Worldcon. Hope to see you there!
There are apparently a bunch of different, totally unconnected people who have made their own Lovecraftian versions of “Jolene.”
(13) SERCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Time to say something about Perry Middlemiss’ zine The Alien Review which showed up on eFanzines last week. It’s a new zine edited by Perry Middlemiss that…wait for it…DISCUSSES AND REVIEWS SCIENCE FICTION. Is that legal?
The first issue has reviews (Piranesi, The Ministry For The Future, a batch of 2020 novellas, and sff award winners from 2019) along with other pieces, including a reprint of a Leigh Edmonds article from 1971.
(14) DOGWHISTLE. Dammit, these books won’t slate themselves. Three-time Dragon Award finalist Declan Finn tries to fire up his colleagues in “Enter: the Dragons”.
Last year for the Dragon awards, many people in my circles hated the finalists.
And trust me, I mean it when I say that they hated the finalists. There was one caveat to that, but that’s all I recall.
My response was simple
“DUH! Why do you think I try to have this discussion EVERY MONTH FOR HALF THE YEAR? YOU THINK I LIKE THIS? IF I WANTED IT FOR MYSELF, I’D ONLY TALK ABOUT MYSELF.” [Insert sound of hair pulling and rage]
The avalanche was a stunning disaster, 247 million cubic feet of glacial ice and snow hurtling down the Tibetan mountain range at 185 mph. Nine people and scores of animals were killed in an event that startled scientists around the world.
As they researched why the avalanche occurred with such force, a team of researchers studying climate change pored over images taken in the days and weeks before and saw ominous cracks had begun to form in the ice and snow. Then, scanning photos of a nearby glacier, they noticed similar crevasses forming, touching off a scramble to warn local authorities that it was also about to come crashing down.The images of the glaciers in 2016 came from a constellation of satellites no bigger than a shoe box, in orbit 280 miles up. Operated by San Francisco-based company Planet, the satellites, called Doves, weigh just over 10 pounds each and fly in “flocks” that today include 175 satellites. If one fails, the company replaces it, and as better batteries, solar arrays and cameras become available, the company updates its satellites the way Apple unveils a new iPhone….
This sci-fi short will appeal to many who have had a job at the corner of Rat and Race and sense that’s a blessing compared to the alternative. It starts with a woman reassuring herself, “I AM the boss,” and cuts to her interviewing a job candidate who seems off-putting at first but appears qualified — and then things get weird.
Don’t miss the scene where the new employee is shown around the office as if he had spent all his life in the wilderness and had never been in a conventional 21st century office before. And then the awful truth begins to dawn…
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Star Trek Spinoff” on Saturday Night Live explains what happens when cadets from “small, exclusive Starfleet Academy” show up on the bridge during a crisis.
[Thanks to rcade, John King Tarpinian, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Rob Thornton, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]