(1) NEW BANNER. Thanks to Taral Wayne for creating the new header art! It’s based on the famous Prague astronomical clock face.
(2) ALL ABOARD. Deadline introduces another companion: “’Doctor Who’: John Bishop Joins The TARDIS In Season 13”.
Actor and comedian John Bishop will be joining the Thirteenteenth Doctor and Yaz on the TARDIS on the upcoming 13th season of BBC America’s Doctor Who. Season 13 began filming in November and is expected to premiere later in 2021.
Bishop will play Dan in the new season. As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe. Traveling through space and time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.
(3) NOW IN PUBLIC DOMAIN. NPR invites everyone to “Party Like It’s 1925 On Public Domain Day (Gatsby And Dalloway Are In)”.
… 1925 was the year of heralded novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, seminal works by Sinclair Lewis, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley … and a banner year for musicians, too. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, among hundreds of others, made important recordings. And 1925 marked the release of canonical movies from silent film comedians Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.
As of today, every single one of those works has entered the public domain. “That means that copyright has expired,” explains Jennifer Jenkins, a law professor at Duke University who directs its Center for the Study of the Public Domain. “And all of the works are free for anyone to use, reuse, build upon for anyone — without paying a fee.”
On January 1 every year, a new batch of published works is liberated from the constraints of copyright. (For a long time, copyright expired after 75 years, but in 1998, Congress extended the date of copyright expiration for works published between 1923 and 1977 to 95 years.)…
NPR’s named some of the works entering public domain – the first four on their list are:
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
- In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
- The Trial (in German) by Franz Kafka
(4) NEW YEAR’S CHOWDOWN. Scott Edelman says “It’s time for cookies and conversation with writer/editor/publisher Ian Randal Strock” in Episode 135 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Ian — who may be the person with whom I’ve appeared on more panels than any other — is currently the owner, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Gray Rabbit Publications and its speculative fiction imprint, Fantastic Books. He began his genre career by working at both Analog and Asimov’s magazines for six years, starting out as an editorial assistant, and rising to be Associate Editor.
He left to launch his own magazine of science fiction and science fact Artemis, which he edited and published for four years. He’s twice won the Analog Readers Poll — both for his short fiction and a science fact article. He’s also quite a history buff, having published The Presidential Book of Lists, Ranking the Vice Presidents, and other political titles.
We discussed what he said upon meeting Isaac Asimov which caused the Grand Master to refuse to write him a limerick, why he prefers The Princess Bride novel to the movie, the reason his father advised him not to name his publishing company after himself, why the 1,000-word short story is his natural length, the question editor Stan Schmidt asked before purchasing his first story for Analog, the essay which so thrilled him he felt compelled to start his own magazine, the most difficult aspect of running your own publishing company, why ending a story too late isn’t as great a sin as starting one too early, how his fascination with presidential trivia began in the bathroom, and much more.
(5) ANIME OF THE YEAR. Anime News Network is running a series of posts under the heading The Best Anime of 2020. The first four are:
- Nick, Rebecca, Steve & Best Characters – The Best Anime of 2020
- The Best of Anime 2020: Chris, James, Theron, & The Best Moments
- Caitlin, Lynzee, & The Best Songs – The Best Anime of 2020
- LGBTQ+ Characters & Video Games – The Best Anime of 2020
(6) PARENTHOOD. Cora Buhlert answered your call for a counterpart to the Darth Vader Parenthood Award for good fictional parents: Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award
… As I said in my previous post, there was quite a bit of competition for the Fictional Parent of the Year Award in 2020, more than for the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in fact, which suggests that popular culture is moving towards portraying more loving parents, which is a very good thing.
So let’s take a look at the potential candidates…
(7) SFF’S TOP SHORT STORIES WEIGHED AND MEASURED. Mark Kelly, creator of the Science Fiction Awards Database, has devised a way to use his data to rank the all-time “Top SF/F/H Short Stories”. Will your mileage vary? The ranked stories are at the first link. Kelly’s explanation of how the numbers are crunched is here: Short Fiction Scoring Methodology.
(8) MEMORIAL. The grave of Charles R. Saunders was without a headstone until friends intervened. “Literary lion buried in unmarked grave sparks call for change in Nova Scotia” – CBC News has the story.
… In Los Angeles, Taaq Kirksey was lost in a fog of grief, compounded by the nightmare reality that his dear friend lay in an unmarked grave thousands of kilometres away.
“The first few minutes, I literally had to remind myself of my own name and my age. ‘I’m Taaq Kirksey. I’ve got two kids and a wife and this is where I work and what I do.’ Because Imaro had been all I had known and all I had thought about really since 2002.”
He worked with a group of Saunders’s friends and collaborators in the U.S. and Canada, including several journalists at CBC, to right the wrong.
The group set up a fundraiser and within 24 hours, hundreds of people had donated thousands of dollars. The group ordered a tombstone for Saunders. They also created a stone monument to Imaro that will feature original artwork from Mshindo, a celebrated American artist of Afro-futurism who created iconic covers for the Imaro books. It will stand facing his grave.
“He had such community there to pick up the slack and say, ‘No, this has to get rectified,'” Kirksey says. “Charles’s life was so rich. He had a literary life that might have been global, but he was also a luminary in Nova Scotia, certainly a Black cultural luminary in Nova Scotia, and that was just as much a part as his literary pedigree.”
(9) STROUT OBIT. Urban fantasy author Anton Strout died suddenly and unexpectedly on December 30. Kij Johnson said on Facebook, “He was one of the most charismatic and funniest people I have ever known, and he will be missed by us all.” There’s a tribute at Tor.com.
… Strout was born in 1970, grew up Dalton, Massachusetts, and worked at Penguin Random House. His debut novel arrived in 2008 from Ace Books, an urban fantasy novel titled Dead to Me, which went on to spawn three sequels in the Simon Canderous series. The Once and Future Podcast launched in 2014, a passion project where readers and writers could enjoy book-centered content and discussion. The podcast has run for over 200 episodes….
He is survived by his wife, Orly Strout, and his seven-year old twins, Benjamin and Julia, and a GoFundMe has been started for his family.
(10) HOSSEIN OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] French actor, director and writer Robert Hossein died aged 93 of complications from COVID-19. Hossein’s lengthy career is at the very least genre-adjacent, because he worked at the famous Theatre de Grand Guignol and is probably best remembered for playing Jeoffrey de Peyrac in the Angelique movies of the 1960s. The Angelique novels by Anne Golon and their film adaptations were huge successes in 1960s Europe. I devoured the novels and movies as a teen. The novels and movies are historical adventure, but they are at the very least genre-adjacent, because the plots are so wild. Jeoffrey de Peyrac, the character played by Hossein, is a French count and alchemist who is executed for heresy and later becomes a pirate who rescues slaves from the Mediterranean slave trade. The protagonist of the movies and novels is his young wife Angelique. Like I said, it’s wild stuff.
(11) EDEN OBIT. BBC reports “Coronation Street actor Mark Eden dies aged 92”. Though best known for his work on the British soap opera, he had many genre credits.
He made his TV debut in Quatermass And The Pit (1958), and had roles in episodes of One Step Beyond, Dimensions Of Fear, Doctor Who (as “Marco Polo”), Out Of The Unknown, The Prisoner (as Number One Hundred, 1967), The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes, the 1973 mini-series Jack The Ripper and Mark Gattiss’ Doctor Who tribute, An Adventure In Space And Time (2013). Eden co-starred with Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Barbara Steele and Michael Gough in Curse Of The Crimson Altar (1968).
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- January 1, 2007 — The Sarah Jane Adventures premiered on BBC. (It was originally going to be called Sarah Jane Investigates.) A spin-off of Doctor Who, focusing on Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elizabeth Sladen who was the Companion to the Fourth Doctor. She’s frequently voted the most popular Who companion by both Who fans and members of the general public. It would run for five series and fifty-three episodes before ending when Sladen passed on. A spin-off of the spin-off, Sarah Jane’s Alien Files, aired right after that series.
(13) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- 1981 — Forty years ago, Robert Holdstock’s “Mythago Wood”, not the first volume of the Ryhope Wood series, but the novella of the same name that appeared in the September 1981 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction wins the BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction, and three years later Mythago Wood will get the the BSFA Award for Best Novel. It would also win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the next year.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born January 1, 1888 – Chesley Bonestell. Designed the Chrysler and U.S. Supreme Court buildings. Applying what he knew to astronomy he got paintings of Saturn into Life Magazine – here is his Saturn as Seen from Titan – which led to The Conquest of Space with Willy Ley, The Art of Chesley Bonestell, six dozen covers for Astounding & Analog, Galaxy, Boys’ Life, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, five dozen interiors, a Hugo for Special Achievement, the SF Hall of Fame, and eponymity of the ASFA (Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists) Chesley Awards. (Died 1986) [JH]
- Born January 1, 1918 – Ella Parker. The Parker Pond Fund brought her to Seacon the 19th Worldcon; she chaired Loncon II the 23rd. Her Orion won Best Fanzine in the Skyrack Readers Poll (which, incidentally, is Skyr-Ack the Shire Oak, ha ha Ron Bennett; read it here); she won again with The Atom Anthology and a third time as Fan Personality of the Year. (Died 1993) [JH]
- Born January 1, 1926 — Zena Marshall. She’s Miss Taro in Dr. No, the very first Bond film. The Terrornauts in which she’s Sandy Lund would be her last film. (The Terrornauts is based off Murray Leinster‘s The Wailing Asteroid screenplay apparently by John Brunner.) She had one-offs in Danger Man, The Invisible Man and Ghost Squad. She played Giselle in Helter Skelter, a 1949 film where the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, played Charles the Second. (Died 2009.) (CE)
- Born January 1, 1935 – Kadono Eiko, age 86. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Famous for Kiki’s Delivery Service (Kiki is a witch in training). Six sequels. Three other books. Hans Christian Andersen Award; judges called her female characters “singularly self-determining and enterprising”. [JH]
- Born January 1, 1935 – Bernard Kliban. “Extremely bizarre cartoons that find their humor in their utter strangeness and unlikeliness”, which shows that truth can be found even in Wikipedia. Michelle Urry, cartoon editor for Playboy, Good Housekeeping, and Modern Maturity – it’s stranger than fiction, too – got BK to a publisher for Cat, which led to Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head, Two Guys Fooling Around with the Moon, The Biggest Tongue in Tunisia, and like that. (Died 1990) [JH]
- Born January 1, 1954 — Midori Snyder, 67. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meets Irish myth novel of hers and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati which I’ve not read. With Yolen, Snyder co-authored the novel Except the Queen which I do recommend. (Yolen is one of my dark chocolate recipients.) She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. I will say that she has a most brilliant website: https://www.midorisnyder.com/ (CE)
- Born January 1, 1957 — Christopher Moore, 64. One early novel by him, Coyote Blue, is my favorite, but anything by him is always a weirdly entertaining read. I’ve not heard anything about Shakespeare for Squirrels: A Novel, his newest work. Has anyone read it? (CE)
- Born January 1, 1962 – Geoffrey McSkimming, age 59. Of course he’s interested in archeology. A score of Cairo Jim books, some including Jocelyn Osgood; half a dozen of Phyllis Wong, recently PW and the Crumpled Stranger. Married to the magician Sue-Anne Webster. Also poetry. [JH]
- Born January 1, 1971 — Navin Chowdhry, 50. He’s Indra Ganesh in a Ninth Doctor story, “Aliens of London“. I also found him playing Mr. Watson in Skellig, a film that sounds really interesting. He was also Prince Munodi in the BBC Gulliver’s Travels series, and oh, and I almost forgot to mention that he was Nodin Chavdri in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (CE)
- Born January 1, 1972 — Jennifer Hale, 49. She’s a voice actor primarily showing up on such series as Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Star Trek: Lower Decks and all over the Star Wars universe. She played Killer Frost in Batman: Assault on Arkham, the animated Suicide Squad film that was infinitely better than the live ones were. (CE)
- Born January 1, 1976 — Sean Wallace, 45. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark which I’ve never encountered, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav read of mine. He has won a very, very impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy co-edited with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended by me. He’s finally beginning to be well represented at the usual digital suspects as an editor. (CE)
- Born January 1, 1984 – Briony Stewart, age 37. Auraelis Award for Kumiko and the Dragon, inspired by the author’s grandmother – remember dragons are the good guys in Japan. Queensland Literary Award for Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers. One more Kumiko book, two others, illustrated three. Website. [JH]
(15) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro finds something Superman can’t do.
- The worst thing that could happen in 2021? Scandinavia and the World has a few ideas.
- And Garfield has another.
(16) VIRTUAL BOSKONE. It’s not that far away — Boskone 58. a 3-day virtual convention, will be held February 12-14, 2021. Get full details here.
(17) SFF IN TRANSLATION. Rachel Cordasco announced a new theme – “Romanian SFT Month” – at her Speculative Fiction in Translation website.
Anglophone readers might think that Romanian speculative fiction in English is rare, but they’re wrong. In fact, if you start looking for it, you’ll find it everywhere….
(18) ON AN EMISSION MISSION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Dalvin Brown has a piece in the Washington Post about how researchers at Oxford have discovered a process whereby planes could take carbon dioxide from the air, mix it with catalysts and hydrogen, and turn the result into jet fuel, making flying carbon neutral. I don’t know if this is relevant but it seems like gosh-wow science to me. “Oxford researchers hope to convert carbon dioxide into jet fuel”.
… “We need to reuse the carbon dioxide rather than simply burying or trying to replace it in the aviation industry,” said Peter Edwards, a professor of inorganic chemistry at Oxford and a lead researcher on the project. “This is about a new and exciting, climate-conscious, circular aviation economy.”
Typically, jet fuel is derived from crude oil. It is a hydrocarbon, or nonrenewable organic compound consisting solely of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Jet fuel is similar to gasoline in that both come from fossil fuels. However, they go through different refining processes, which results in jet fuel being heavier, with a lower freezing point and more carbon atoms.
When the fuel is burned during travel, the hydrocarbons are released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Oxford researchers investigated to reverse-engineer that process, turning the gas back into a usable liquid via “organic combustion.”…
(19) ARECIBO NEWS. SYFY Wire tells of efforts to jumpstart a rebuild: “Arecibo Observatory telescope gets $8 million to launch rebuild in Puerto Rico”.
… Owned by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the Arecibo Observatory went into service in 1963, and for nearly 60 years collected radio data used to make a variety of observations that included the world’s first evidence of the existence of exoplanets. The telescope also became integral to NASA’s search for near-Earth objects.
In her order, [Puerto Rica Governor] Vázquez Garced said that the $8 million would be used to fund debris disposal for the remnants of the collapsed telescope, as well as the design of a new radio telescope to replace it. That leaves funding to construct an actual replacement — a far more costly proposition than $8 million — a matter of future budgeting priorities from the NSF, which receives its research allocations from Congress.
(20) PAGING THE ILLUSION OF INTELLIGENCE. Politico knows “Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale.”
….Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book, has become a go-to curator of Washington bookshelves, offering precisely what its name sounds like it does. As retro as a shelf of books might seem in an era of flat-panel screens, Books by the Foot has thrived through Democratic and Republican administrations, including that of the book-averse Donald Trump. And this year, the company has seen a twist: When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, Books by the Foot had to adapt to a downturn in office- and hotel-decor business—and an uptick in home-office Zoom backdrops for the talking-head class.
The Wonder Book staff doesn’t pry too much into which objective a particular client is after. If an order were to come in for, say, 12 feet of books about politics, specifically with a progressive or liberal tilt—as one did in August—Wonder Book’s manager, Jessica Bowman, would simply send one of her more politics-savvy staffers to the enormous box labeled “Politically Incorrect” (the name of Books by the Foot’s politics package) to select about 120 books by authors like Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Al Franken and Bob Woodward. The books would then be “staged,” or arranged with the same care a florist might extend to a bouquet of flowers, on a library cart; double-checked by a second staffer; and then shipped off to the residence or commercial space where they would eventually be shelved and displayed (or shelved and taken down to read).
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of New Year’s Day Jack Lint.]