2022 Munsey Award

Munsey Award print. Art by David Saunders.

Rick Lai has been named the winner of the 2022 Munsey Award. Lai was selected by a committee made up of all the living Lamont, Munsey, and Rusty Award recipients. The award was presented at PulpFest in Pittsburgh on August 6.

Here is the citation that explains why he was up for this honor:

Rick Lai accepting the Munsey Award. Photo by Anne Marble.

Like many of us, RICK LAI has dedicated much of his adult life and disposable income to his passion for collecting pulp fiction (in all its permutations). Rick distinguished himself with the erudite and insightful scholarship that has made him respected among Wold Newtonians and purists alike. Rick’s speculative theories on character and continuity may have been inspired by Philip José Farmer, but were never bound by Farmer or anyone else’s parameters. Rick’s brilliant and provocative flights of fantasy informed, inspired, and even infuriated readers, but kept them coming back for the next article or book. Later in life, Rick made the natural progression from scholar to storyteller as he began creating works that supplement and expand upon his literary speculations. Among his many books are Chronology of Shadows: A Timeline of The Shadow’s ExploitsThe Return of Judex, The Revised Complete Chronology of Bronze, Rick Lai’s Secret Histories: Daring Adventurers, Rick Lai’s Secret Histories: Criminal Masterminds, and Shadows of the Opera: Retribution in Blood. Rick has also presented at PulpFest and written many articles for The Pulp Collector, Pulp Vault, Echoes, Blood ‘n’ Thunder, and other periodicals. To learn more about Rick, read “PulpFest Profile — The Shadow of Rick Lai.”

Named for Frank A. Munsey, publisher of the first pulp magazine, the award recognizes someone who has contributed to the betterment of the pulp community through disseminating knowledge, publishing, or other efforts to preserve and to foster interest in pulp magazines.

[Thanks to Anne Marble for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 6/14/22 Colonel Pixel, With The Godstalk, In The Scrollatory

A very abbreviated Scroll due to the rest of the day having been spent accompanying my mother to a routine medical appointment and related errands.

(1) UNDERSTANDING HORROR FICTION. Anne Marble’s “What Knife?! 6 Things You May Not Know About Horror Novels” on Medium sheds some light on the genre.

Horror novels often get a bad name. Misperceptions abound. Assumptions are made. Fingers are pointed — at reader and fan alike. As if the world needed more finger-pointing.

Horror can be spooky. It can be gross. Or sad. Or funny. Or all of the above. Just like any other genre….

The middle of Anne’s post takes up an important controversy about horror fiction.

3) Not All Horror Novels Are Gross and Gory. But Some Are, and That’s OK!

Many horror writers rely on atmosphere and unease rather than gore to make their stories scary. Even most authors who use graphic violence will use it sparingly — just to make your imagination work and make the book even more terrifying.

For Medium, Anita Durairaj listed 5 Terrifying Books Without the Gore. There are always posts asking for recommendations for non-gory horror on Reddit.

If you do want gory reads, check out the extreme horror and splatterpunk genres. On the Fangoria website, check out Splatterpunk for Dummies, Or Defining the Genre For Those Who Love Horror Fiction by acclaimed reviewer “Mother Horror” Sadie Hartmann (co-owner of the Night Worms subscription box company).

But look out! The best splatterpunk and extreme horror books aren’t just about gore. They’re about people. So they can still break your heart. Just ask people who have read Jack Ketchum’s influential novel The Girl Next Door. The Lineup includes it in its article 9 Extreme Horror Books with Heart.

Many authors known for gory books write more than just that. One example is Brian Keene, who has gory books like The Rising and Ghoul (which is also a coming-of-age story) but also metafiction like The Girl on the Glider.

(2) SQUID IN REALITY. The Hollywood Reporter says: “‘Squid Game’ Reality Series Coming to Netflix With Biggest Cash Prize in TV History”.

Netflix is staging a real-life Squid Game series that’s billed as “the biggest reality competition ever.”

The streamer announced a reality TV production based on its global dystopian smash at the Banff World Media Festival on Tuesday.

While the stakes won’t be life or death (presumably), Squid Game: The Challenge will have 456 players competing in a series of games for the chance to win $4.56 million. Netflix claims the payout is the largest lump-sum cash prize in TV history (though Fox’s X Factor has previously given out recording contracts worth $5 million), and that the show likewise also sports the largest competition series cast ever assembled.

… The reality competition will consist of 10 episodes (one more than the first season of the dramatic series) and also released a teaser video….

The show is casting participants through this website: “Squid Game: The Challenge Casting”.

You’ve seen the drama, now it’s your chance to take part in Netflix’s biggest ever social experiment! This supersized unscripted show turns the scripted world of the drama into reality. Real-life players will be immersed in the iconic Squid Game universe and will never know what’s coming next. Here they’ll compete in a series of heart-stopping games in order to become the sole survivor* and walk away with a life-changing cash prize.

With a fortune up for grabs, who will be an ally, who will you trust, and who will you betray in this ultimate test of character?

*Please note: Win or lose, all players will leave unscathed. But if you win, you win big!

(3) TERMINATE RUSSIAN OIL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Ex-Governator Schwarzenegger has laid down the law to his fellow Austrians… The Telegram channel of the Kyiv Independent reports: “Schwarzenegger denounces Europe for buying Russian fuel. Hollywood star and ex-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the Austrian World Summit in Vienna that “we have blood on our hands because we are financing the war.” The European Union has imposed a partial oil embargo on Russia but refused to impose an embargo on Russian gas….”

Schwarzenegger posted the video to his YouTube channel with this introduction:

This morning, I spoke at my annual environmental summit I co-host with my dear friend, President Van der Bellen, the president of Austria. I spoke about the unbelievable power of technology transforming the clean energy crusade. 7 million people die every year from pollution. The Russian missiles launched into Ukraine are funded by our addiction to fossil fuels. There is blood on our hands. We have a moral obligation to use the technology available to us to create a clean energy future.

Schwarzenegger‘s talk is primarily about clean energy/climate change/pollution. His remarks about the war in Ukraine and funding same through purchasing Russian oil begin just before minute 11 and continue (to some degree) through the end of his talk a few minutes later.

(4) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1947 [By Cat Eldridge.] Tom & Jerry cartoon, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse (1947). The Hanna-Barbera cartoons were considered by many cartoon fans to be quite inferior to the Warner Bros. cartoons which were regarded as the gold standard of the animation done during the Forties and Fifties. I’m not making that judgement here as I really liked the Tom & Jerry cartoons and particularly the ones done in the Forties. 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse is a one-reel, as they were called, cartoon and is the thirtieth Tom and Jerry short which is seventy five years old this day. It directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who wrote the script as well. It was produced by Fred Quimby. It has animation by Ed Barge, Michael Lah, Pete Burness, Ray Patterson, Kenneth Muse and Al Grandmain. That’s a lot of animators for such a short undertaking! (Some are not credited on the cartoon itself.) 

Surely I don’t a need SPOILER ALERT on this cartoon? Seriously?  You want one? Well here it is just in case you haven’t seen it.

The story is the Tom, our ever annoyed feline, is quite pissed that Jerry, our smarter mouse, keeps drinking his milk so he poisons it with a mix of, well, everything toxic that he can find including mothballs. Does it do that? No, it doesn’t. Instead it turns Tom into an incredibly strong mouse. Much cartoon violence happens.  END SPOILER ALERT

It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons in 1947, but lost to Warner Bros.‘ Tweetie Pie

This short was shown in the 1983 movie, The Hunger.

Please don’t offer a link to online copies of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse as they are all bootlegs as it’s still under copyright. Hanna and Barbera passed respectively in 2001 and 2006 in the ages of ninety-six and ninety-one, bless them. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 14, 1908 — Stephen Tall. The pseudonym of Compton Crook. His first published work was “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ in Galaxy, October 1955. Not a prolific writer, he’d do about twenty stories over the next quarter of a century and two novels as well, The Ramsgate Paradox and The People Beyond the Wall. “The Bear with the Knot on His Tail” was nominated for a Hugo at the first L.A. Con. He has not yet made into the digital realm other than “The Lights on Precipice Peak” being available at the usual suspects. In 1983, the Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award for best first science fiction novel in a given year was established by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in his name. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 14, 1914 — Ruthven Todd. He’s here for his delightful children’s illustrated trio of Space Cat books — Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars and Space Cat and the Kittens. I’m pleased to say they’re available at all the usual digital suspects and yes I’ve read them. He also wrote Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller which are respectively a lost world novel and a dystopian novel.  Side note: he was an editor of the works of William Blake which must have a really interesting undertaking! (Died 1978.)
  • Born June 14, 1919 — Gene Barry. His first genre role was in The War of the Worlds as Dr. Clayton Forrester. He’d have a number of later genre appearances on Science Fiction TheatreAlfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Devil and Miss Sarah, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite, plus multiple appearances on Fantasy Island and The Twilight Zone. He’d appear in the ‘05 War of The Worlds credited simply as “Grandfather”. (Died 2009.)
  • Born June 14, 1921 — William Hamling. Author and editor who was active as an sf fan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His first story “War with Jupiter”, written with Mark Reinsberg, appeared in Amazing Stories in May 1939. He’d write only short stories, some nineteen of them, over the next twenty years. Genre adjacent, his Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. He would be the Editor of two genre zines, Imagination for most of the Fifties, and Imaginative Tales during the Fifties as well. He published four issues of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and contributed to the 1940 Worldcon program. He was best known for publishing adult magazines and books, which led to First Amendment litigation, and also a criminal prosecution that resulted in a jail term. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 14, 1939 — Penelope Farmer, 83. English writer of children’s fantasy novels, best-known for the novel Charlotte Sometimes, a boarding-school story that features a multiple time slip. There’s two more novels in this, the Emma / Charlotte series, The Summer Birds and Emma in Winter. Another children’s fantasy by her, A Castle of Bone, concerns a portal in a magic shop. 
  • Born June 14, 1949 — Harry Turtledove, 73. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was definitely fun reading. He’s won two Sidewise Awards for How Few Remain and Ruled Britannia, and a Prometheus for The Gladiator. Hugos? Well there was one.  ConAdian saw him win for his “Down in the Bottomlands” novella, and his “Must and Shall” novelette picked up a nomination at L.A. Con III, and Chicon 2000 where he was Toastmaster saw his “Forty, Counting Down” honored with a nomination. 
  • Born June 14, 1958 — James Gurney, 64. Artist and author best known for his illustrated Dinotopia book series. He won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at L.A. Con III for Dinotopia: The World Beneath, and was twice nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist. The dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was named in honor of him.

(6) HEAR FROM VANDANA SINGH. In October 2021, as part of the TED Countdown climate summit in Edinburgh, Vandana Singh, who is one of our Climate Imagination Fellows, gave a talk that is really a performance of a short speculative fiction story. Here is a link to the video. The story is hopeful, and focuses on the fundamental interconnectedness of humans with nonhuman beings and Earth systems.

Vandana’s books include Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories and The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories. She’s also a physicist and a researcher and educator on the climate crisis.

“The world is a living tapestry … As the weave of life is torn apart in one place, the threads unravel in another,” says author and physics professor Vandana Singh, acknowledging humanity’s interconnectedness with the planet — and the uncertain future we face if we don’t protect it. Reading an excerpt from her latest work of speculative fiction, Singh shares a hopeful vision for Earth’s renewal.

(7) A MAKER OF HISTORY. The Hugonauts podcast interviewed David Brin.

This week we talk with David Brin about his writing, what it was like seeing his book adapted into a movie, the future of sci-fi, how aliens would be welcomed in Los Angeles, and what it was like to study writing under Ursula K. Le Guin with Kim Stanley Robinson! David Brin is an astrophysicist whose international best-selling novels include The Postman, Startide Rising, and the Uplift War. He consults for NASA, companies, agencies, and nonprofits about the onrushing future. His first nonfiction book, The Transparent Society, won the Freedom of Speech Award. His newest book is Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]