(1) ART IMITATING ART? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Spot on? Several years ago Paleofuture uncovered a 1923 cartoon that “predicted” art would be machine generated in 2023. See the cartoon at the link. At that time (2014), columnist Matt Novak noted that the drawing part was more or less solved, but the idea generation part wasn’t. In the intervening years after this find, that idea generation bit has been attacked—enter machine learning.
One has to wonder, though, what an AI trained on only this sort of “predictive” art would crank out.
(2) SELF-REPORTING COVID. Arisia 2023, held in Boston over the January 13-16 weekend, has posted a “COVID19 Positive List” where people can report if they tested positive or contracted Covid after the convention. So far there are eight listings.
(3) THE IMMORTAL DAVID CROSBY. Famed rock performer David Crosby died January 18. In “David Crosby’s Cosmic Americana”, The Atlantic’s Jason Heller tells how the late musician’s obsession with science fiction shaped his legacy. (The article is paywalled.)
“Science fiction was so expansive and it was so unlimited,” Crosby told Neil deGrasse Tyson on the latter’s StarTalk podcast in 2016. “Anything could happen, and that was just rich to me. And I lusted after it.” His obsession with space exploration, emerging musical technology, and the literature of the fantastic forged a kind of future-folk.
Now that you’ve discovered the singer’s sf fandom, read Arthur Cover telling Facebook followers a funny story about Crosby’s visit to Dangerous Visions Bookstore.
… The obituary writer, who turned out to be Poe’s sometime friend and constant rival Rufus W. Griswold, claimed that the deceased had “few or no friends” and proceeded with a general character assassination built on exaggerations and half-truths.
Strange as it seems, Griswold was also Poe’s literary executor, and he expanded the obituary into a biographical essay that accompanied Poe’s collected works. If this was a marketing ploy, it worked. The friends that Griswold claimed Poe lacked rose to his defense, and journalists spent decades debating who the man really was…
Griswold’s defamatory portrait, along with the grim subject matter of Poe’s stories and poems, still influences the way readers perceive him. But it has also produced a sustained reaction or counterimage of Poe as a tragic hero, a tortured, misunderstood artist who was too good – or, at any rate, too cool – for his world.
While translating Poe’s works into French in the 1850s and 1860s, the French poet Charles Baudelaire promoted his hero as a kind of countercultural visionary, out of step with a moralistic, materialistic America. Baudelaire’s Poe valued beauty over truth in his poetry and, in his fiction, saw through the self-improvement pieties that were popular at the time to reveal “the natural wickedness of man.” Poe struck a chord with European writers, and as his international stature rose in the late 19th century, literary critics in the U.S. wrung their hands over his lack of appreciation “at home.”…
Literature is so full of evil dolls and puppets that it’s probably best to assume that any doll or puppet you encounter in a book is up to no good. Maybe they’re having sex with your girlfriend, maybe they’re trying to drive you insane, whatever their method, remember that we are not the same species and your first response should always be to throw it in the fire. Read these books at your own peril (not recommended) but if you want to avoid the trauma, I’ve done you the favor of reading them myself and compiling a list of the dolls and puppets you should go out of your way to avoid….
…Below, we bring you King’s top twenty rules from On Writing. About half of these relate directly to revision. The other half cover the intangibles—attitude, discipline, work habits. A number of these suggestions reliably pop up in every writer’s guide. But quite a few of them were born of Stephen King’s many decades of trial and error and—writes the Barnes & Noble book blog—“over 350 million copies” sold, “like them or loathe them.”
1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” …
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2003 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram
So let’s talk about whisky. Well, in a minute we will. So the book about whisky is by Iain Banks who when he wrote science fiction used Iain M. Banks. I absolutely adored the Culture series with the first, Consider Phlebas, and the last, The Hydrogen Sonata, being my favorites. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the novels and short stories set there.
But Banks had a great love, other than his wife of course, in his life: whisky. So being someone who regularly and quite successfully pitched ideas about books that he wanted to write, he decided to pitch to his editor as he says “a book about one of the hardest of hard liquors and for all this let’s be mature, I just drink it for the taste not the effect, honest, Two units a day only stuff… it is, basically, a legal, exclusive, relatively expensive but very pleasant way of getting out of your head.”
Having thereby convinced his editor it was a brilliant idea, he bought a sports car with part of the advance and as one must do this in style as he notes in Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram, packed his bags and headed north to Scotland.
And here’s the quote that he started the book off with:
‘Banksie, hi. What you up to?’
‘Well, I’m going to be writing a book about whisky.’
‘I’m going to be writing a book about whisky. I’ve been, umm, you know, commissioned. To write a book about it. About whisky. Malt whisky, actually.’
‘You’re writing a book about whisky?’
‘Yeah. It means I have to go all over Scotland, driving mostly, but taking other types of transport–ferries, planes, trains, that sort of thing–visiting distilleries and tasting malt whisky. With expenses, obviously.’
‘You serious?’ ‘Course I’m serious!’
‘… Do you need any help with this?’
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 21, 1922 — Telly Savalas. Best remembered as Kojak on that long running series. He appeared in Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as Count Valerino De Fanzini in two episodes. Oh, and he was on the Twilight Zone as Erich Streator in the stellar “Living Doll” episode. (Died 1994.)
Born January 21, 1923 — Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the Hearth, The Tomorrow People, Gunner Cade, and Outpost Mars, the last two with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote many short stories, of which twenty-six are collected in Homecalling and Other Stories: The Complete Solo Short SF of Judith Merril (NESFA Press). She was an editor as well. From 1956-1966 she edited a series of volumes of the year’s best sf. Her collection England SwingsSF (1968) helped draw attention to the New Wave. Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
Born January 21, 1925 — Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination Space, The Invaders, Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.)
Born January 21, 1938 — Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 presumably as himself if I trust IMDb as it doesn’t list a character for him. He does have genre character roles having been in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.)
Born January 21, 1939 — Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 84. Author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occult detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently.
Born January 21, 1956 — Geena Davis, 67. Best remembered genre wise I’d say for being in Beetlejuice but she also appeared in Earth Girls Are Easy and Transylvania 6-5000. She’s done some one-offs on series including Knight Rider, Fantasy Island and The Exorcist. Yes, they turned The Exorcist into a series.
Born January 21, 1956 — Diana Pavlac Glyer, 67. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings.
IGN can exclusively reveal the first details about The Expanse: Dragon Tooth, a new 12-issue limited series set after the show’s final season….
… Dragon Tooth is set after the events of the show’s finale, meaning it’ll reveal the fates of many characters and answer some of the lingering questions not addressed in Season 6. Interestingly, the comic also seems aimed directly at fans of the novels, as it’s set in the lengthy time gap separating Book 6, Babylon’s Ashes, and Book 7, Persepolis Rising….
C/2022 E3 (ZTF), or Comet ZTF for short — the name astronomers gave this space snowball after the Zwicky Transient Facility discovered it in March — hasn’t been in our cosmic neighborhood since the last Ice Age.
Researcherscalculated that the icy ball of gas, dust, and rock orbits the sun roughly ever 50,000 years, which means that Neanderthals were still walking the Earth and humans had just migrated out of Africa for the first time when the comet last whizzed by….
Why the comet is green
The comet has a “greenish coma, short broad dust tail, and long faint ion tail,” according to NASA.
Many comets glow green. Laboratory research has linked this aura to a reactive molecule called dicarbon, which emits green light as sunlight decays it.
Dicarbon is common in comets, but it’s not usually found in their tails.
That’s why the coma — the haze surrounding the ball of frozen gas, dust, and rock at the center of a comet — is glowing green, while the tail remains white.
The USGS Astrogeology Science Center has recently released a series of colorful and intricately-detailed maps of Mars. These colorful maps, notes USGS, “provide highly detailed views of the [plantet’s] surface and allow scientists to investigate complex geologic relationships both on and beneath the surface. These types of maps are useful for both planning for and then conducting landed missions.”….
(14) HIGH MILEAGE. From the May 2022 “Findings” column of Harper’s Magazine (page 96):
…The brains of the elderly exhibit lesions resulting from a lifetime of wear and tear and may also be cluttered with accumulated knowledge….
”So if you’re at this school you need some kind of powers.”
“Wait, does Wednesday have a power?”
“She does, yeah, she started having these psychic Visions but they’re a secret.”
“If her powers are secret how’d they know to let her in?”
“Hey, shut up!”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Tom Becker, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) FUND FOR PETER DAVID. A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of writer Peter David, who has many health problems and faces mounting bills. “Peter David Fund”.
I’m fundraising for author Peter David and his family. He’s had some compounded health problems, and the bills are piling up! On top of kidney failure, and the steep medical bills incurred from that, he just had another series of strokes AND a mild heart attack.
As we wish him a swift recovery, and send our love and support to his wife Kathleen and his family, let’s also pitch in and help with their medical bills and living expenses.
Please give what you can to relieve some of the immense stress that this family is going through right now.
On behalf of Peter, Kathleen, and the whole family, thank you!
The appeal had brought in $51,725 from 1100+ donors at the time this was written.
The past few months have been among the most tumultuous in Arisia’s long history. After the loss of our conchair Jodie Lawhorne, two people stepped up to complete his work. In late October we learned about a serious incident involving one of our volunteers that was reported but never written down many years ago. The individual was put through our current more robust incident response protocol and was subsequently banned from all future participation in Arisia. We also learned that the acting con chairs had had knowledge of this and despite that, had consulted with this individual about volunteering for Arisia 2023. Between that information, and increasing levels of unrelated personal stress on those acting con chairs, it was determined that it was best for all parties for them to step down. Where that left us was 7 weeks out from a convention with no one in charge. I reached out to the e-board and offered to fill in the gap.
So hi, my name is Melissa Kaplan and I’ll be your acting con chair for the next 6.5 weeks….
(3) WILLIS X 2. Dave Langford and Rob Hansen have assembled TAWF Times Two: The 1962 Trip Reportsby Walt and Madeleine Willis into a book and made it available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.
The Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF) was organized to bring Walt Willis – this time with his wife Madeleine – to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, ten years after the fan initiative that brought Walt alone to the 1952 Worldcon also held in Chicago. Both wrote trip reports: Walt’s was serialized in various fanzines and eventually collected as Twice Upon a Time in the monumental Warhoon #28 (1980) edited by Richard Bergeron. Madeleine’s instalments of The DisTAWF Side appeared in The SpeleoBem edited by Bruce Pelz, and have never until now been collected.
For this ebook, Rob Hansen has digitized Madeleine’s chapters, expanded them with comments and corrections from others (plus an unpublished letter from Walt and another from Madeleine) and written a new Foreword covering both reports. David Langford had the easier task of extracting Twice Upon a Time from Warhoon #28, unscrambling dates, correcting typos and restoring a fragment of lost text. Scans of all the original fanzine appearances at Fanac.org were a great help to both of us.
Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. Cover photo of the Willises in 1957 from the collection of Norman Shorrock, probably taken by Peter West. Over 87,000 words.
When a Broadway show closes, the next stop for the hundreds of costumes, setpieces and props is often … the dumpster.
“The producers often stop paying rent in a storage unit somewhere, which is heartbreaking,” said Julie Boardman, one of the founders of the Museum of Broadway, which opened in Times Square this month.
Boardman, 40, a Broadway producer whose shows include “Funny Girl” and “Company,” and Diane Nicoletti, the founder of a marketing agency, are looking to reroute those items to their museum, a dream five years in the making.
“We see it as an experiential, interactive museum that tells the story of Broadway through costumes, props and artifacts,” Nicoletti, 40, said of the four-floor, 26,000-square-foot space on West 45th Street, next to the Lyceum Theater….
‘Phantom of the Opera’ Chandelier Installation
Each of the 13,917 glistening crystals in this piece, which were fashioned by the German artist Ulli Böhmelmann into hanging strands, is meant to represent one performance the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” will have played from its opening on Jan. 26, 1988, through its closing night performance. Though the final show was originally set for Feb. 18, 2023, the production announced Tuesday that it had been pushed to April 16 amid strong ticket sales (Böhmelmann plans to add the necessary crystals).
‘Avenue Q’ Puppets
In the early days of the 2003 Broadway production of the puppet-filled musical comedy “Avenue Q,” the show’s low budget meant the puppeteers had to put their charges through quick changes. The show initially had only three Princeton puppets — but he had eight costumes — meaning the puppets took a beating from changing clothes multiple times eight shows a week. “Eventually, they had a puppet for every costume,” McDonald said.
Gershwin Theater Set Model
This scale model, which is just over five feet wide, was designed by Edward Pierce, the associate scenic designer of the original Broadway production of “Wicked,” and took four people seven weeks to build. It includes more than 300 individual characters — and another 300 seated audience members in the auditorium. (See if you can find the Easter egg: a small model of the set model, with the designers — who look like the actual designers — showing the director a future design for “Wicked.”)
The world’s first literature is speculative poetry.
We told each other stories and encoded them in the form of verse. The earliest written literature is poetry – The Story of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and Odyssey, The Ramayana and Mahabharata, Beowulf and other npoem myths, verse histories and tellings in cultures across and around the world.
I had an epiphany about speculative poetry.
It was there from the start, in my womb and my heart….
(6) PROBABLY AN ANNIVERSARY. “Hitchhiker’s at 42” and 3 Quarks Daily is celebrating. Because something to do with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy happened forty-two years ago. Didn’t it?
… To document the broader cultural impact of Hitchhiker’s, we’ve asked a number of public figures in science, the arts, the humanities, and government to reflect on how the book changed their own understanding of life, the universe, and everything.
“The Hitchhiker series taught me to laugh at the absurd, to mock self-proclaimed genius, to put off searching for the meaning of life in favor of play, and to oppose time travel on the ground that proper tense usage would become too difficult. It also prepared me to understand that some Albany politicians are like Vogons, insofar as neither are above corruption in the same way that the ocean is not above the sky. And it made 42 my favorite number.” –Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and host of Stay Tuned and Doing Justice…
(7) FREE READ. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert, who has a new short story “Legacy of Steel” in the November 2022 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. The other stories in the issue are “Sun in Shadow” by Sandra Unerman and “You Stand Before the Black Tower” by Nathaniel Webb.
…I have had some new arrivals recently, including at long last King Randor, which opens up a lot of possibilities for stories involving the royal family of Eternia.
One thing that is remarkably consistent over all versions of Masters of the Universe from the early mini-comics via the Filmation cartoon of the 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, the various comics, Masters of the Universe: Revelation all the way to the Netflix CGI show is that Prince Adam has a strained relationship with his father King Randor. Cause Randor always finds something to criticise about his son and heir. Adam is too lazy, too irresponsible, not princely enough, not interested enough in affairs of state, not heroic enough, too foolhardy and he also missed dinner or an official reception, because he was off saving Eternia….
…While stretching my hands into claws, I hunt my memory. Have I ever felt talons grow from my fingertips? Do I know the twinge of lupine hair breaking my burning, blossoming skin? How does the paradigm of meaning-making shift when I find I can smell more keenly than I can see? In all these years, have I come closer to knowing?
You might suggest I use writing to account for these questions. Documenting my thoughts about them in a field journal—“May 26: I think I smelled a pig at one mile today.” Nope. I’ve no werewolf archive. There are a few poems, sure; yet they skin the lycanthrope to cover and do some other thing. Those poems, they are not telling you what I am telling you: that I have meant to be a werewolf, and that this has been, I’m afraid, a quiet, lifelong ambition, a discipline I’ve maintained longer and to less purpose, it would seem, than nearly all else….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1998 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Hobbit holes (New Zealand)
Stop me before this gets novella length!
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. — The Hobbit
Only one of the movie sets in New Zealand survives and charmingly enough it’s the village where the hobbits resided. It was used for both trilogies and quite unsurprisingly is now a place with guided tours being offered every day.
Jackson spotted it during a search by air for suitable locations using one of his airplanes, or so the story is now told, and thought it looked like a slice of England. Furthermore Alan Lee commented to him that the location’s terrain “looked as though Hobbits had already begun excavations” there.
It became Hobbiton and the Shire with the facades of quite a few hobbit holes and associated gardens, a double arch bridge, hedges, and a mill. They erected an immense oak above Bag End that had been growing nearby and which was cut down and recreated in fibreglass on site complete with artificial leaves.
When I mean facades, I really mean just that. It’s not possible to go inside the as there is nothing inside them, just retaining walls and beyond that dirt. I’m guessing that the site is going to need expensive ongoing maintenance if it is going to survive long term.
Bag End is the exception as they designed it so a little bit of interior has been designed to seen and the door will open so you can peek in.
About those hobbit holes. No, the interior scenes for Bag End weren’t not shot here. (Of course they’d make lousy film sets, wouldn’t they? You can’t get cameras in there.) The interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington. Ok, there are actually two Bag Ends as Ian McKelllen explains on his charming look at these:
Hobbits must appear smaller than the other characters in the film. When I, as Gandalf, meet Bilbo or Frodo at home, I bump my head on the rafters. (Tolkien didn’t think to mention it!) So there is a small Bag End set with small props to match.
As Ian Holm and Elijah Wood would be too big within it, they have “scale doubles” who are of a matching size with the scenery and its miniature furniture. In the small set Bilbo and Frodo are played by Kiran Shah (Legend) who is in hobbit proportion to my Gandalf.
And of course there has to be a big Bag End, where the scale is human-sized and all the objects of the small set are duplicated but bigger. There the “hero actors” can play the hobbits but the camera expects a gigantic Gandalf and gets him in Paul Webster (a 7’4″ Wellingtonian) who substitutes for me.
So we’ve got a village full of hobbit hole facades that all look very charming as you can see here and you’ve got the rather amazing effect of creating the illusion of a hobbit hole interior that we can all think is real. I certainly did when I watched the first Hobbit film. I may not have cared for the film itself, but oh my the scenery and the depiction of Bag End was stellar!
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 30, 1835 — Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger in which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently published with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
Born November 30, 1893 — E. Everett Evans. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who started out with fan writing, but eventually became a published genre author as well. He helped to found the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and served as its president and editor of its publication. Food for Demons was a chapbook compilation of his fantasy tales, though he was generally not considered to be a good fiction writer. Fandom’s Big Heart Award, which was founded by Forrest J Ackerman in 1959, was named for him for its first 40 years. In 2018, Bob Tucker’s fanzine Le Zombie, of which he had co-edited two issues, won a Retro Hugo Award. (Died 1958.) (JJ)
Born November 30, 1906 — John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent and The Lost Gallows is apparently genre. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as are his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. The usual suspects have a more than decent stock of his offerings. (Died 1977.)
Born November 30, 1950 — Chris Claremont, 72. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it. And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist. Anyone ever encountered these?
Born November 30, 1952 — Debra Doyle. Writer, Filker, and Fan. Her novel Knight’s Wyrd, co-written with her husband and collaborator James D. Macdonald, won a Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature. Most of their co-written works are fantasy, but their Mageworlds series also crosses into space opera territory. As filker Malkin Grey, she and Pergyn Wyndryder won a Pegasus Award for Best Historical Song. She was an instructor at the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions. (Died 2020.) (JJ)
Born November 30, 1955 — Kevin Conroy. Frell, another great one lost too soon. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman onBatman: The Animated Series and many other DCU series. On Justice League Action, the other characters often noting his stoic personality. I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. (Died 2022.)
Born November 30, 1952 — Jill Eastlake, 70. IT Manager, Costumer, Conrunner, and Fan who is known for her elaborate and fantastical costume designs; her costume group won “Best in Show” at the 2004 Worldcon. A member of fandom for more than 50 years, she belonged to her high school’s SF club, then became an early member of NESFA, the Boston-area fan club, and served as its president for 4 years. She has served on the committees for numerous Worldcons and regional conventions, co-chaired a Costume-Con, and chaired two Boskones. She was the Hugo Award ceremony coordinator for the 1992 Worldcon, and has run the Masquerade for numerous conventions. Her extensive contributions were honored when she was named a Fellow of NESFA in 1976, and in 2011 the International Costumer’s Guild presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her fan husband Don (who is irrationally fond of running WSFS Business Meetings) were Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon.
Born November 30, 1957 — Martin Morse Wooster. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door. He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16. A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews. He started contributing to File 770 in 1978 and continued for the rest of his life. He was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association in 1975, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. Lost his life to a hit-and-run driver on November 12. (Died 2022.) (JJ)
Passengers on board a United Airlines commercial jet flying over Florida’s Cape Canaveral were able to spot an amazingly rare sight in the distance: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, far below….
Bill Mumy has worked with some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Hollywood history – but not all of his experiences were out of this world.
The former child star, who made his mark in the ‘60s series “Lost in Space,” has recently written a memoir titled “Danger, Will Robinson: The Full Mumy.” In it, he details his rise to stardom and the numerous encounters he had with TV and film icons along the way – including Alfred Hitchcock.
Mumy worked with the filmmaker in the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” for the episode “Bang! You’re Dead!”. It was filmed in the summer of 1961 when Mumy was 7 years old….
Wolves infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are far more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected wolves and are also more likely to disperse from the pack they’re born into, a study published November 24 in Communications Biology reports. The finding points to a possible connection between the infamous parasite and wolf population health.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a “mind control” parasite that can infect any warm-blooded animal, the paper states. The protozoan can only reproduce sexually in the guts of cats, and often spreads through contact with infected feline feces. Infection with T. gondii causes hosts to accrue permanent brain cysts and also induces toxoplasmosis, a disease that can embolden some host species, causing infected animals to seek out more situations in which they can transmit the parasite. Mice infected with T. gondiilose their fear of cat urine, for example, making them more likely to be killed and eaten by a cat, enabling the parasite to reproduce once again…
…The film, which was released in 1982, was written by Melissa Matheson, whom Ford was dating at the time. During a 2012 reunion for the film, actor Henry Thomas, who played the main character, Elliott, told Entertainment Weekly that he was just excited at the prospect of meeting Ford.
“When I met Steven, the first thing out of my mouth was I think, ‘I love Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas said. “I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison.”
Ford eventually agreed to shoot a cameo scene with Thomas, playing an uptight school principal who would scold Elliott after the famous frog escape scene, in which Elliott would also kiss a girl in his class. Spielberg also spoke about the cameo in an interview with EW: “He did the scene where E.T. is home levitating all of the stuff for his communicator up the stairs. Elliott is in the principal’s office after the frog incident. We don’t ever see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”…
(16) VIDEO OF A PREVIOUS DAY. A short clip from Futurama illustrates why, “In the end, it was not guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of all God’s creatures, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.”
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Standback, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]
(1) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Universal Waste” by Palmer Holton, a story about a small-town cop, a murder, and a massive futuristic recycling operation.
(2) WISCON 2023. Kit Stubbs, Treasurer of SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization, rallies everyone with the hashtag Let’s #RebuildWisCon!
WisCon 46 in 2023 is happening! We are thrilled to announce that Gillian Sochor (she/her, G is soft like “giraffe”, Sochor like “super soaker”) is joining Lindsey and Sherry as our third co-chair. This means we are going ahead with an in-person con for 2023!…
Finances Thanks to everyone who donated and offered matching gifts last year, we were able to cover the cost of our 2022 hotel contract. We are now looking to raise $30,000 in this year’s annual fundraiser which will allow us to do all kinds of awesome things for WisCon 46 in May 2023, including:
Offset the cost of hotel rooms for members who need to isolate due to COVID-19 and who otherwise might not be able to due to the financial burden
Purchase more high-quality air filters for con spaces and masks for members
Expand the meal voucher program, introduced last year, which enables members in need to eat for free at local restaurants
Continue to offer CART services for transcription, now that the state of Wisconsin is no longer providing funds to offset that cost
And part of that $30,000 will go towards rebuilding WisCon’s savings after last year.
If you weren’t aware, WisCon can’t pay for itself with registrations alone. We try to keep the cost of registration down to make our con as affordable as possible. But what that means is that we’re counting on the members of our community who can chip in extra to do so! Please donate today to help #RebuildWisCon!…
WisCon Member Assistance Fund This year we’re also looking to raise $3,000 for our WisCon Member Assistance Fund! The WMAF is a specially designated fund that can only be used to provide travel grants to help members attend WisCon. Please consider making a donation via PayPal.
(3) THIS COULD BE YOUR BIG BREAK! Daniel Dern says he won’t be covering Arisia 2023, and suggests I ask another Filer would be interested in getting a press credential to attend and reporting on the convention The upcoming Arisia will be held from January 13-16, 2023, at the Westin Boston Seaport hotel. Vaccination Verification required. If you’re game, email me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will put you in touch with the con.
(4) GOTHAM AWARDS. Everything Everywhere All at Once, the multiverse-spanning adventure, won Best Feature at the Gotham Awards 2022 reports Variety. And cast member Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Performance. I don’t know why I’ve never heard of the Gotham Awards before, but if they keep going to sff movies I’ll be talking about them in the Scroll again.
(5) NEXT YEAR’S LOSCON. Loscon 49 will be held over Thanksgiving Weekend in 2023. The theme: “Enchanted Loscon”. Guests of Honor — Writer: Peter S. Beagle; Artist: Echo Chernik; Fan: Elayne Pelz. At the LAX Marriott Hotel from November 24-26, 2023. More information at: www.loscon.org.
(6) ZOOMIN’ ABOUT PITTSBURGH. The last FANAC Fan History Zoom of 2022 will be on December 10, about the major fannish breakout in Pittsburgh in the late Sixties and Seventies. Write to [email protected] if you want to get on the list to see it live.
…Science fiction and fantasy, on the other hand, are driven by the aesthetic. They are about the look and feel. The sense of wonder. They don’t have an inherent plot structure.
This means that you can map Science Fiction onto a Mystery structure easily.
When I decided I wanted to do “The Thin Man in space,” I needed to understand the structure of the Nick and Nora movies specifically. So I began by watching all six of the films. This was a great hardship, as I’m sure you can imagine. Here are some of the beats that are in all of the films: A happily married couple and their small dog solve crime while engaging in banter and drinking too much. Interestingly, they also contain the element that Nick does not want to investigate and Nora really wants him to. Nick almost always gets along well with law enforcement. He has an uneasy relationship with the wealth of Nora’s family. There’s always a scene in which he goes off sleuthing on his own and carefully looks over a crime scene. More than one murder.
From there, I started building the world of the novel. THAT is the hallmark of science-fiction and fantasy. We engage in worldbuilding in which we think about how changing an element or introducing a technology has ripple effects. For this, I knew I wanted to be on a cruise ship in space. There’s a writing workshop that my podcast, Writing Excuses, runs every year on a cruise ship. I based my ship, the ISS Lindgren on the types of things that happen on those and extrapolated for the future….
George R. R. Martin. Two Signed Early Partial Manuscripts ofGame of Thrones. Includes: 1 box, 384 leaves. Typed, dated November 1994. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie. [Together with]: 3 boxes, 888 leaves. Typed, dated July 1995. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie.
Two early drafts of the first book from A Song of Ice and Fire, the hit HBO series and international phenomenon.
The impact that A Game of Thrones has had on the fantasy genre, both as a novel and a television series, is almost impossible to exaggerate. Named to the BBC list of “100 ‘most inspiring’ novels” in 2019 alongside C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, it almost single-handedly cemented “grimdark” as a fantasy subgenre and helped inspire the likes of Joe Abercrombie and Marlon James, both masters of fantasy in their own right. The overwhelming success of the HBO show redefined fantasy for the general public and has been lauded by both authors and publishers as responsible for boosted sales in fantasy and science fiction….
…As is his typical process, Martin created five copies of each draft of Game of Thrones. Two were kept for his personal files; one was sent to his editor; a fourth was given to Texas A&M University where the archive of Martin’s oeuvre resides; and this, the fifth and final copy, was initially donated to a ConQuesT charity auction, held annually in Kansas City. Parris McBride, Martin’s wife, hoped the charity would get “a few bucks for them;” alas, no one bid on the items. They were then picked up by one of the original book researchers for A Song of Ice and Fire, and from there found their way to Heritage….
Our annual special issue – Amazing Stories: SOL SYSTEM – a double-sized issue, both in digital and print, of Amazing Stories. It will be chock full of stories set in exciting futures within our solar system. The publication is set for April 2023.
We’re also planning an online convention for April 2023 to celebrate this issue as well. Most of the contributing authors will be there!
We’re really excited about this and we know you’ll love it. Backers of our Kickstarter can choose digital copies of the magazine, print copies, convention memberships, and many more bonus add-ons as well.
(10) THE WATTYS. The winners of Wattpad’s 2022 Watty Awards have posted. The Grand Prize Winner, worth $5,000, is Nichole Cava’s The Vampire Always Bites Twice.
There are also Category Award winners for Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Fanfiction, to name a few. The website’s format makes it hard to distinguish the shortlist and the winner – more work than I was willing to invest. If you want to try, they’re all at the link.
– Wattpad, the global entertainment company and leading webnovel platform, announced the 2022 Watty Award winners! With over 500 winners across nine languages, the 2022 Watty Awards were the biggest edition yet. This year’s USD $5,000 English-language grand prize went to Nichole Cava for The Vampire Always Bites Twice (55.1K reads), which follows a criminal necromancer and vampire private eye that unexpectedly team up to solve the case of a missing barista.
In addition to cash prizes, 2022 Watty Award prizes included multiple publishing and entertainment adaptation opportunities from Wattpad WEBTOON Studios and the Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group. Among the more than 30,000 entries for the 2022 Watty Awards, these winning stories were selected…
(11) PYUN OBITUARY. Albert Pyun, director of Cyborg, Interstellar Civil War, Tales of an Ancient Empire, the Saturn-winning The Sword and the Sorceror and the 1990 version of Captain America, has died November 26 at 69, after several years of dementia and multiple sclerosis.
(12) MEMORY LANE.
2007 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy and Toto in Oz Park (2007)
Fifteen years ago, a very special statue went up in Oz. No, not that Oz, but the park in Chicago, so first let’s talk about that park. It had been developed as part of the Lincoln Park Urban Renewal Area during the Seventies, and this park was formally named the Oz Park in 1976 to honor Baum who settled in Chicago in 1891 in an area west of the park.
During the Nineties, the Oz Park Advisory Council and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce hired Chicago artist John Kearney to do all the figures for the Park.
He first created a sculpture of the Tin Man which he fashioned out of chrome bumpers. It was his last such sculpture done that way as the bumpers of chrome were increasingly scarce and thus way too expensive.
Next came the Cowardly Lion which was cast in bronze. Take a look at the detail in the fur — quite amazing, isn’t it?
Next is the rather colorful Scarecrow that is a seven-foot-tall sculpture, cast in an amazing twenty-two separate pieces in Kearney’s own foundry on Cape Cod.
Now we come to the last statue, Dorothy and Toto. This final statue to be completed was Dorothy and Toto, using the so-called lost wax technique which you can see an example of here being done. Kearney added paint for the blue dress and the iconic ruby red shoes. The final statue was installed fifteen years ago.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 29, 1910 — Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories. The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
Born November 29, 1918 — Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time, which won the Newbery Medal and a host of other awards, and has been made into a 2003 television film and a theatrical film directed by Ava DuVernay. She produced numerous loosely-linked sequels, including A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. In addition to her fiction, she wrote poetry and nonfiction, much of which related to her universalist form of Christian faith. She was honored with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1997. In 2013, Crater L’Engle on Mercury was named for her. (Died 2007.) (JJ)
Born November 29, 1925 — Leigh Couch. Science Teacher and Member of First Fandom. Active in fandom, along with her husband and children, during the 1960s and 70s, she was a member of the Ozark Science Fiction Association and one of the editors of its fanzine Sirruish. She was on the committee for the bid to host Worldcon in Hawaii in 1981. She was honored for her contributions as Fan Guest of Honor at the first Archon, the long-running regional convention which grew out of that early St. Louis-area fandom. (Died 1998.) (JJ)
Born November 29, 1942 — Maggie Thompson, 80. Librarian, Editor, and Fan who, with her husband Don, edited from the 1960s to the 90s the fanzines Harbinger, Comic Art, Rainy Days, and Newfangles, and wrote a column for The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom. When this became the professional publication Comic Buyer’s Guide in 1983, because of their extensive knowledge of comics, she and her husband were hired as editors; after he died in 1994, she continued as editor until it ceased publication in 2013. Under their editorial auspices, it won two Eisner Awards and the Jack Kirby Award. Together they were honored with the Inkpot Award, and twice with the Comic Fan Art Award for Favorite Fan Writers.
Born November 29, 1950 — Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Writer who produced a number of genre novels and more than 70 short fiction works. He was chair of the Nebula Award Committee for nearly a decade, and business manager for the SFWA Bulletin for several years; he also chaired for 7 years SFWA’s Grievance Committee, which advocates for authors who experience difficulties in dealing with editors, publishers, agents, and other entities. He received the Service to SFWA Award in 2005, and after his death, the award was renamed in his honor. (Died 2012.)
Born November 29, 1969 — Greg Rucka, 53. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action Comics, Batwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
Born November 29, 1976 — Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther / T’Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say. And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James. I understand they did a stellar tribute to him in the new Black Panther film. His Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019 for a Hugo but lost to another exemplary film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. (Died 2020.)
The Bodleian’s Tolkien archivist Catherine McIlwaine, writer John Garth and academic Stuart Lee discuss the role of JRR Tolkien’s son, Christopher, in promoting the works of his father and furthering understanding about them.
McIlwaine is co-editor with Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden of The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher Tolkien, while Garth and Lee have both contributed essays. Christopher was his father’s literary executor and published 24 volumes of his father’s work over four decades, more than Tolkien published during his lifetime. The collection of essays includes reflections on Christopher’s work by world-renowned scholars and reminiscences by family members.
McIlwaine is the Tolkien archivist at the Bodleian Libraries. Garth is an author and freelance writer and editor. He is author of The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth and Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth. Lee is an English lecturer at the University of Oxford who lectures on fantasy literature with a focus on Tolkien. Discussions are chaired by Grace Khuri, a DPhil candidate at Oxford and the first Oxford postgraduate to write a PhD solely on Tolkien.
(16) HOW TO CONTACT THE CHENGDU WORLDCON. The Chengdu Worldcon posted this list of its “working emails”:
(17) DOING RESEARCH AND ASKING EXPERTS. Gideon P. Smith steers writers toward resources for “Writing the Science Right” at the SFWA Blog.
Getting the science right in SF can make the difference between writing cute stories and great science fiction. If you are a non-scientist writing SF and want to know how to do that, then this blog post is for you….
(18) LA ARTIST & WRITER. Some of you already know him, and All About Jazz invites the rest of you to “Meet Tony Gleeson”.
Tell Us A Bit About Yourself.
I’m an artist by vocation and a musician by avocation (I’ve played guitar all my life and picked up keyboards a couple of decades back). Music of all kinds has always been a major part of my life, but early on I made the choice to pursue the visual arts as my career. I spent my so-called formative years on the east coast, in upstate New York, Washington DC, and New York City. When I attended art school in Los Angeles, I fell in love with southern California and after a few years back in Manhattan, I persuaded my wife Annie to move there— quite an adventurous step for her as she’d never been on the West Coast. We’ve been Angelenos since 1977. We have three grown kids pursuing their own lives and adventures, but the house is hardly empty or still with our two cats, Django and Mingus, and our bird Charlie.
Annie’s been an NICU RN and I’ve run an illustration and design studio ever since we got here. I figure I’ve had around a thousand illustrations published: magazines, newspapers, book covers, catalogues and product illustrations. I’ve also done concept art for film, TV, advertising, and toy and product design.
I was a bookseller for several years early in the new millennium. I’m also a writer, with ten crime novels published in Britain and the United States. The most recent, A Different Kind of Dead, was released in the U.S. by Wildside in 2021. The new one, Find the Money, also by Wildside, is due for release before this year’s end. I’m kind of a polymath with a lot of interests (including film, baseball, classic mysteries, science fiction, and comic art) that tend to veer into obsessions….
Look, I was not expecting this. Two years and more than a dozen shows into the Disney+ experiment, I think we’ve all developed a decent enough sense of what to expect from the television incarnations of the two biggest entertainment franchises on the planet. And for the most part, these shows have been fine. Some fun moments. Some actors who are better than their material. Maybe a hint of a political idea. There was no reason for Andor—a prequel to a prequel whose original premise was already quite dodgy—to be any better.
And then it turned out to be good. Not just good for Star Wars, but just plain good. Best TV of the year good. I have to admit that I went a bit Kübler-Ross about this. First there was Anger—this show is too good to be Star Wars. No way does a story this smart, this thoughtful about the compromises of life under fascism, and the costs of rising up to resist it, exist only as a lead-in to a floppy-haired teenager doing an amusement park ride….
(20) FONT FOLLY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A memorable Saturday Night Liveskit from 2017 poked a lot of fun at the “lazy choice“ of the font Papyrus for the mega-blockbuster movie Avatar. (You may not be familiar with the controversy, but it’s a real thing.)
“Saturday Night Live” can be very hit or miss when it comes to their sketches, but it should come as no surprise that “Papyrus” will go down as one of their best. The bit features Ryan Gosling as a man who has disassociated from the world around him because he remembered that James Cameron’s mega-blockbuster “Avatar” used a variation of the Papyrus font for its logo. It’s the kind of thing you may think about for a second or two before moving on with your life, but the sketch from former “SNL” writer Julio Torres dedicates itself to making Gosling’s breakdown look as dramatic as possible.
Like the “Potato Chip” segment, it’s the kind of “SNL” bit that makes you laugh at how seriously everyone is playing their part with something so silly and bizarre. It’s just a logo, and yet Gosling plays it as if the material is worthy of a conspiracy thriller. Since the 2017 sketch, Cameron has given the “Avatar” logo a typeface facelift that gives the series more of an identity, although it’s not that different. It honestly looks as if the graphic designer took the modified Papyrus logo as is, and filled it with air.
The “Terminator 2” filmmaker can change the logo all he wants, but if the internet has taught me anything, it’s that it never forgets. For five years, Cameron has remained silent on the whole Papyrus conversation … until now. With the long-awaited “Avatar: The Way of Water” only weeks away, the blockbuster mastermind is finally breaking his silence.
In the January 2023 issue of Empire, James Cameron finally faces the logo demons that have been haunting him for minutes, as he jokes about how the graphic design choice got in the way of getting even more money. “Just think of how much we could have grossed if it wasn’t for that damn font,” says Cameron…
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Jeffrey Smith, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Joey Eschrich, Cora Buhlert, Rich Lynch, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) ARISIA CHAIR TURNOVER. The acting Arisia 2023 convention chairs Alan and Michelle Wexelblat have resigned. Melissa Kaplan has stepped up as acting con chair in their place. The Arisia board says “details of the handoff and relevant ongoing efforts at Arisia will be forthcoming after the holiday break.”
(2) UNCLE HUGO’S / UNCLE EDGAR’S GET THEIR NAMES OUT FRONT. Don Blyly says, “The new awnings were installed last Friday afternoon, making it much easier to find the new location for the first time.” Until then, his bookstores’ new location still had the previous tenant’s name out front.
…State Police had said it was looking for witnesses who may have been driving in the area around Bypass Road prior to or after the incident.
Sgt. Michelle Anaya with the Virginia State Police said it has identified a suspect, and it is investigating and working with the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The incident, she said, is still under investigation, with charges pending….
Leanna: I’ve been writing since I was a kid and didn’t consider pursuing it professionally until my first job out of college. I had gotten a BFA in theatre performance with a focus study in the Victorian Era. I worked in the professional regional theatre circuit for a few years before moving to New York City and ended up at a Broadway callback where all I could think about was the book that would end up becoming my debut Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy series, Strangely Beautiful. I stopped auditioning and solely focused on my novel about a girl who sees, talks with, and helps ghosts. Spectral subjects have been part of my creative process since childhood. I got my NYC tour guide’s license my first years in New York as I knew I wanted to incorporate real history into my fiction and eventually write non-fiction. Being a tour guide is a great way to make history second-nature. I feel like A Haunted History of Invisible Women is the culmination of everything that’s ever been important to me.
Andrea: I’m a writer and a New York City tour guide. I founded my own walking tour company, Boroughs of the Dead, in 2013….
(5) BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP. Sarah A. Hoyt offers some practical encouragement to writers in “The Best Beginning” at Mad Genius Club.
The best beginning is the one you can do.
This applies both to the beginning of novels, and “simply” to starting to write, or to establishing a writing schedule.
There are all sorts of books and instructions on how to start any of those, but what they leave out is: just begin any way you can. The rest will follow.
With novels, there are all kinds of ways to begin, including setting the tone of the book in the first paragraph. The theme in the first page. Make sure you start with the character who is central to the conflict, because readers are like ducklings, they imprint on the first moving thing they see.
However, you can always fix it in post. You can always go back and fix that beginning so it points the right way. You can lose the first fifty pages (beginning writers consistently start fifty pages too early.) Etc….
(6) PICARDO ASKS DOCTOR WHO WHO IS THE DOCTOR. But he is one only in an emergency, right?
…Mary Ann and I had decided to use Sunday afternoon to visit the French Quarter. We took the streetcar down there — it’s very easy and convenient. We were going to get lunch and I was determined to get a muffeletta, which is one of my favorite sandwiches. I wanted an authentic muffuletta from New Orleans — which I got at Frank’s, which advertised the “original muffuletta”. Alas, it might be the original, and it was fine, but you can get one just as good at, for example, C. J. Mugg’s in my town of Webster Groves. We should have eaten at the French Market Restaurant instead! We also, of course, went to Cafe du Monde to try beignets, and, hey, they were actually very good. (The line was long but went quickly.)…
(8) THE TRISOLARIANS ARE COMING. ScreenRant publicizes the release date for Bilibili’s animated adaptation of The Three-Body Problem.Beware spoilers.
The award-winning science fiction novel The Three-Body Problem has been adapted into an anime series by the Chinese online video and anime platform Bilibili, and the first episode is set to premiere on December 3, 2022.
…Normally, an adaptation is a testament to the popularity of the work in the public’s mind. This is particularly so with The Three-Body Problem. In addition to Bilibili, two other powerful film and television operations, namely Netflix and the Chinese tech giant Tencent have also produced their own live-action adaptations of the story. Fittingly, the world-famous story has its own version of the three-body problem….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1986 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Peter S. Beagle’s The Folk of The Air
So let’s talk about one of the underappreciated novels by Mister Beagle, The Folk of The Air which was published thirty-six years ago by del Rey / Ballantine in hardcover.
It had a long, long gestation period as it took nearly twenty years from the time he started work on it until the time the final version was done.
SPOILERS ARE HERE NOW. I SUGGEST MULLED WINE WOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO DRINK WHILE I DISCUSS THIS NOVEL?
Joe Farrell, a musician who’s whiled away most of his post-college time in a sort of hippie style, travelling the country and avoiding any possibility of settling down, has returned at last to his Bay Area hometown of Avicenna, Beagle’s fictional version of Oakland.
Everything has changed — his closest friend is living with a woman who has immense magical powers in a house that keeps changing itself; another acquaintance is involved up with the League of Archaic Pleasures, a group that has taken to itself the events and manners of medieval chivalry, sometimes way, way too seriously; and he sees a teenage witch successfully summon back a centuries-old demon.
That Demon could tear asunder all that exists now and only his closest friend’s girlfriend can stop him but she’s gone walkout into a room in their house that nobody can find.
DID YOU LIKE THE MULLED WINE? I THINK THAT IT IS MOST EXCELLENT.
I think it’s a most splendid novel, though Peter has reservations about it as he told me once that he considered revising it. He never said what about it that he’d change, just that he thought it could use some more work. Even SFReviews.net reported that saying “Beagle has never been fully satisfied with The Folk of the Air, and is currently reported to be working on a revision to be retitled Avicenna.” Mind you his Editor and closest friend tells me that she never heard of this existing either.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 23, 1908 — Nelson S. Bond. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Member of First Fandom who also wrote for radio, television, and the stage, but whose published fiction work was mainly in the pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. He’s remembered today mainly for his Lancelot Biggs series and for his Meg the Priestess tales, which introduced one of the first strong female characters in SF back in 1939. As a fan, he attended the very first Worldcon, and he famously advised Isaac Asimov, who kept arguing with fans about his works in the letter columns of magazines, “You’re a writer now, Isaac. Let the readers have their opinions.” He was named a Nebula Author Emeritus by SFWA in 1998. (Died 2006.) (JJ)
Born November 23, 1951 — David Rappaport. I remember him best as Randall, the leader of the gang of comically inept dwarves in Time Bandits who steal the map to the Universe. I’m reasonably sure that it’s the only thing he’ll be remembered for of a genre nature having looked up his other works and found them to be decidedly minor in nature. Most of them such as The Bride, a low budget horror film, were artistic and commercial disasters. It is said that his death by suicide in 1990 is one of the reasons cited by Gilliam for there not being a sequel to Time Bandits. Well, now there is as Apple TB with the cooperation of Gilliam, there will Time Bandits series that Taika Waititi will co-write with Gilliam and direct, since it’ll shield in New Zealand. (Died 1990.)
Born November 23, 1966 — Michelle Gomez, 56. Best known genre role is Missy, a female version of The Master on Doctor Who from 2014 to 2017, for which she was nominated for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. I admit having grown up with Roger Delgado as The Master so later performers playing this role took a bit of getting used but she made a fine one. She is also Mary Wardwell in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She plays Talia Bauerin in Highlander: The Raven which apparently is a very short-live spinoff from the Highlander series. And she shows up in the Gotham series for two episodes simply as The Lady. She is now playing Madame Rouge on the Doom Patrol.
Born November 23, 1992 — Miley Cyrus. She’s had three genre appearances, each ten years apart. She was in Big Fish as the eight-year-old Ruthie, she was the voice of Penny in Bolt and she voiced Mainframe on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And there’s the matter of A Very Murray Christmas which is at least genre adjacent…
…There isn’t a succinct definition of cyberpunk. Its origins can be traced back to the late 1960s and the New Wave sci-fi movement, with writers like J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, and Harlan Ellison. As a sci-fi sub-genre, cyberpunk is keenly interested in speculative technology and urban dystopias; which together provide fertile breeding grounds for vice, drugs, nefarious corporations, corruption, and social upheaval.
…I can think of a lot of ways to describe how cyberpunk worlds make me feel (sad, artificial, and lonely spring to mind). But “comforting” isn’t one of them. The following video essay argues that, if you tilt your head the right way, cyberpunk cities offer a kind of relief. Somewhere, on the other side of all that existential anxiety and angst … there’s a sense of bliss and relief. Amidst all the urban bustle and the sea of cables, you don’t mean a thing. Thank god….
(12) FAKING IT IS MAKING IT. Is artificial intelligence equal to the challenge of writing about Timothy the Talking Cat? Find out in Camestros Felapton’s post “AI-generated writing”.
…I’ve experimented with MidJourney to make images but how is the world of AI-generated text going? I’m trying out the LEX, a cross between a Google docs wordprocessor and an AI text generator….
These are the top 5 out of the 26 stories I read. August was a lighter month than July because some of the bimonthlies aren’t out in August…
“Polly and (Not) Charles Conquer the Solar System” by Carrie Vaughn is the winner.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. While Camille DeAngelis was in LA for a screening of Bones and All, the film adaptation of her vegan subtext cannibal novel, she and Henry Lien made this video about why they love being vegan and how Henry has a magical fridge: “Henry Lien and the Narnia Fridge”.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Patrick McGuire, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
A decision to ban an individual from all Arisia convention and other sponsored activities was announced November 20 by the Arisia Inc. Eboard and Acting Convention chairs.
Trigger warning: sexual assault of a minor.
The incident occurred away from the Arisia convention in 2009 and was reported to a senior staff person during the 2010 Arisia. Although multiple reports were received at the time, there were no records in Arisia’s Incident Report Management Committee files. The subject of the report continued to attend Arisia and serve on staff. It was only when the IRMC-assisted vetting process for 2022 convention staff was taking place that the reporters stepped forward again, and otherwise they say the individual would not have been restricted from working on Arisia staff.
The Eboard and Acting Chairs statements follow the jump.
An attempt to make a right-wing superhero movie has ended in disaster, with $1 million missing in China and a participant facing a federal indictment.
“I wouldn’t count on us getting the money back,” Theodore Beale, a far-right blogger known as “Vox Day,” admitted to his fans and investors in a video last week….
Vox Day had raised over a million dollars from his followers to finance a planned movie, Rebel’s Run, about the character Rebel, who often wears a Confederate flag bustier, “fighting a global police force hunting down freethinking conservatives.” That money was transferred to Utah-based Ohana Capital Financial to secure additional millions in funding. However, Ohana “was the creation of James Wolfgramm, a self-described cryptocurrency billionaire” and allegedly the money was used for other purposes.
Unbeknownst to Beale and his supporters, the indictment alleges, Wolfgramm was deeply in debt to one of his business’s other clients. That client had paid Ohana more than $4 million in September 2020, several months into the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of what was meant to be a payment to a Chinese manufacturer of personal protective equipment. Instead of carrying out the transaction, prosecutors allege, Wolfgramm spent the millions on his own unrelated business issues.
Now seven-figures into the hole and with no PPE to show for it, Wolfgramm allegedly used the Rebel’s Run money to buy the Chinese medical equipment. Soon after that, according to a video Beale released to his fans, the blogger and his collaborators became suspicious and contacted the FBI, sparking the investigation into Wolfgramm.
Wolfgramm’s attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment. Beale declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Wolfgramm now faces four counts of wire fraud over the Rebel’s Run money and other aspects of his business. While the film’s investors might someday recoup a portion of their money through the legal system, Beale has given up on funding his superhero movie….
…It’s a pity this didn’t run in the Swiss media, or Will Sommer would quickly find himself being dragged into a police station to face an interrogation. I never had any access to, nor did I transfer, “the $1 million” to anyone, nor have I ever had any contact whatsoever with James Wolfgramm, Ohana, or any of its employees, associates, or principals….
The word of the week at the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair, at least in the world of young adult books, is “romantasy,” a portmanteau that speaks for itself.
“Fantasy with lots of romance in the YA category seems to be a thing,” said Nicole Eisenbraun, agent and translation rights manager at Ginger Clark Literary. Claudia Galluzzi, a senior rights manager at Rights People who represents U.S. titles in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish language markets, says that it’s practically all anyone is asking for in any of her markets.
“Rights to the titles that we had in the newer catalogs have already been snatched immediately,” Galluzzi said. Adding that the trend started with the pandemic but has grown over the past year in particular, she noted: “Obviously, you don’t want to be in the present—you want something to take you to other worlds and other realities.”
It’s a sentiment that applies to this year’s fair as well. In spite of an ever-growing list of global troubles—the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, protests in Iran (and the Iranian delegation’s last-minute withdrawal from the fair itself), worldwide supply chain issues and skyrocketing inflation—the prevailing mood at Frankfurt is a sort of giddy gratitude: to see old friends and international colleagues in person, to discuss deals over a table instead of a screen, and to party for three nights running, even in a city as oft-maligned as Germany’s financial capital…
Not long ago, a colleague who’s squeamish about horror movies described some of the scariest films she’d been able to make it through. One of the titles she mentioned? Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. But wait, I thought, that’s not a horror movie. A tense thriller, maybe, a satirical drama with some frightening set pieces, but not something that would’ve been put on the “horror” shelf in video stores, back when video stores existed.
Still, it does belong to a fun category of films that play with suspense, mystery, and creepiness without sowing constant fear; these stories unsettle but aren’t primarily made to distress and disturb viewers. Below are 10 other worthy and fascinating films that I’d consider to be great “scary” movies for people who don’t like horror. Even if you’re easily spooked, like my colleague, you’ll find something on this list to love.
The Novice (2021, directed by Lauren Hadaway)
A brilliant and sadly underseen indie movie from first-time filmmaker Hadaway, The Novice initially presents as a sports drama. A competitive college freshman named Alex Dall (played by Isabelle Fuhrman) takes a rowing class and catches the itch, quickly rising to join her school’s team. As the plot progresses, Alex’s passion turns into obsession, and she becomes particularly fixated on the clockwork consistency demanded of the best rowers. Fuhrman (known for the Orphan horror franchise) gives an intense performance, but Hadaway’s skill at ratcheting the tension to nightmare levels stands out most as Alex’s devotion turns surreal.
(5) JODIE LAWHORNE, 2023 ARISIA CHAIR, DIES. Arisia mourns the loss of their 2023 convention chair, Jodie Lawhorne, who passed away Wednesday of heart failure after a long illness.
Nicholas “phi” Shectman, President, Arisia Inc., writes:
I am heartbroken at the loss of a friend, collaborator, and enthusiastic member of the Arisia community. It’s hard to imagine that he won’t be there to see what we all have created together, but I am buoyed by the work that the community is doing in this sad time to keep Arisia 2023 going forward. I am especially grateful to Alan and Michelle Wexelblat who will be stepping in to chair the convention.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1987 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago this month, The Hidden premiered. Directed by Jack Sholder and produced by committee as it had three producers (Michael L. Meltzer, Gerald T. Olson and Robert Shaye).
It was written by Jim Kouf under the pseudonym Bob Hunt. Kouf being an Edgar Award being a screenplay writer apparently decided not to be associated with this film.
It had a cast of Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Clu Gulager, Chris Mulkey, Ed O’Ross, Clarence Felder, Claudia Christian and Larry Cedar.
Critics liked it, with Roger Ebert calling it “a surprisingly effective film“. It has gained cult status. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent seventy-three rating. It likely more or less lost at least something even after making ten million as it cost five million to make and figuring in publicity costs that suggests a loss.
A sequel, The Hidden II, came out six years later. It did not have the cast of the original film. Let’s just say that it wasn’t well received and leave it there.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 20, 1905 — Frederic Dannay. Creator and writer, along with Manfred Bennington Lee, of Ellery Queen. Now I wasn’t going to say he was a genre figure but ESF says he was because genre authors such as Sturgeon penned Queen novels like The Player on the Other Side. And I do include mystery writers from time to time here. (Died 1982.)
Born October 20, 1913 — Barney Phillips. Though he’s best remembered as Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the Dragnet series and yes, I remember him well from it, he did do some genre work of which his most notable being was one on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian hiding out on Earth as Haley, the short-order cook in “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” episode. Remember you can see it on Paramount+. I just did and he’s amazing. I’m not forgetting his other three appearances there, the first being in “The Purple Testament” as Captain E. L. Gunther, next in “A Thing about Machines” as television repairman which is also a brilliant role for him, followed by the Venusian role, and in “Miniature” as Diemel. Quite a feat that many appearances! He also appeared on The Invaders, Shazzan, Three Musketeers where he was voice of Porthos for all 18 episodes of the animated series, Get Smart! and The Funky Phantom, the latter being a clone of Scooby-Doo! that was set in the American Revolution. Really, I’m not kidding. (Died 1983.)
Born October 20, 1923 — Erle Korshak.He’s a reminder of how old fandom is. He discovered SF in 1934 with the August Astounding magazine and became a very serious collector in 1937 according to several sources. By 1939 he was a well-known fan and one of the leaders of the Moonstruck Press publishing house which was created to publish a bibliography of all fantasy books. He was part of the leadership triumvirate of Chicon 1, the 1940 Worldcon. He later co-founded the Shasta publishing house whose first major work was Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature in the late Forties, a pioneering work of SF bibliography. This was followed by major works by Heinlein, Bester, Fredric Brown and other SF authors. He was absent from fandom from the late 50s for thirty years, then rejoined fandom and was attending cons with his children. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996, and won the Barry R. Levin Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Lifetime Collectors Award in 2001. (Died 2022.)
Born October 20, 1934 — Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had other appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode, and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s “The Wax Men” episode. He was even in the Get Smart! pilot as Mr. Big. (Died 1973.)
Born October 20, 1937 — Emma Tennant. To the manor born but proudly a lifelong supporter of Labour, ISFDB lists nine of her novels as being as SFF. As the Literary Encyclopedia says “Her work is feminist, magical and wicked, and uses the fantastic and the Gothic to interpret and explore everyday women’s roles.“ I’ve not read her, so do tell me about her please if you’ve read her! (Died 2017.)
Born October 20, 1955 — Magdalena Tulli, 67. Polish writer of many, many novels, a few of which are fantastic tales. Some were translated into English and available are from the usual suspects. The one work by her that I wish to single out is Tryby, published in translation as Moving Parts, as it is a metafiction in which the novel in question takes over from its author.
Born October 20, 1966 — Diana Rowland, 56. New Orleans writer with a fascinating job history that includes cop, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. She’s best known for her Kara Gillian series and White Trash Zombie series. Her only award is a Phoenix Award, a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, given by DeepSouthCon.
(8) RING TONE. As always, in honor of Bela Lugosi’s birthday on October 20, John King Tarpinian dons the Dracula ring which Lugosi wore in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), once part of Forry Ackerman’s collection.
(9) THE ROAD TO HALL. The Saturday Evening Post assembles the “Night of the Horror Hosts”. Did you know there is a Horror Host Hall of Fame, administered by HorrorHound Magazine?
…If you lived in Indianapolis in the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s, your parents would have been aghast at Sammy Terry (shown above), a ghoul with the face of Death from The Seventh Seal and a voice that invoked Vincent Price with a touch of Liberace. Parents in New Orleans would have shaken their heads sadly at the bizarre laboratory experiments of Morgus the Magnificent — a psycho mix of Mr. Wizard and Dr. Frankenstein — whose “lectures” bookended vintage horror flicks. And they most certainly would not have approved of the sexy scares offered by San Diego’s Moona Lisa, who lounged about in a slinky cat suit and often had a live python draped around her neck. “Hello, earthlings!” was her weekly greeting. At sign-off, she sent her audience of 10-year-old boys off to bed by purring, “Happy hallucinations, honeys.”…
…Why did Neil Gaiman need a horde of armed (“Well, not exactly armed,” he assiduously corrects) Klingons to help him through a particularly aggressive crowd of fans at Comic-Con one year? What was it like for the Russo Bros to first greet the overwhelmingly massive audience in Hall H and announce their debut Marvel film? Why are edible costumes no longer allowed at conventions of any kind?…
(11) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books has released episode 56 of the Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast featuring stories by Eric Fomley & Jean-Paul L. Garnier.
Dry Run – by Eric Fomley Phrogger – by Jean-Paul L. Garnier
Simultaneous Times is produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.
A star system containing two Mercury-like bodies could give clues to how small, dense planets form. Susana Barros at the University of Porto in Portugal and her colleagues studied tiny movements of the star HD 23472 that were caused by the gravitational pull of its planets. This allowed the team to infer the masses of the star’s five known planets, including the two innermost bodies, which seem to be smaller and lighter than Earth.
Combining their data with previous observations, the researchers estimated the five bodies’ compositions. They found that the inner two are likely to be heavier, denser versions of Mercury, with large iron cores; the outer planets, which have larger diameters than Earth, contain more water and gas.
(14) CRIMESTOPPERS TEXTBOOK. Although it seems Vox Day went right to the FBI after getting ripped off, knowing Vox’s views about the government prompted someone to remember Tom O’Donnell’s 2014 satire for The New Yorker: “L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department”.
…”Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”
The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”
“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”
“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”
He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”…
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Splatoon 3,” Fandom Games says Splatoon 3, like the two earlier games, gives gamers an opportunity to blast paint at each other. There are new weapons like a “splatana,” a paint-filled katana, but the game is basically an excuse for gamers to replay a simple game they liked. “I’ll pay you $60” for Splatoon 3, says the gamer, “as long as you don’t put any NFTs in it.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Jennifer Hawthorne, Scott Edelman, James Reynolds, protonpattycake1, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) ANOTHER BURKE CO-PANELIST MAKES A STATEMENT. Shahid Mahmud, Arc Manor Books publisher, who was one of the panelists on “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them” at Balticon 56, today told Facebook readers that he and Stephanie Burke “got into a heated discussion” but that Burke did “nothing that warranted her treatment” or expulsion from program afterwards.
…One of the panels that keeps getting referred to is a panel I was on with Stephanie, the one on Sensitivity Readers. Not only that, but I was also the one who got into a heated discussion with her on the panel.
As a fellow panelist (particularly one who got into that that discussion with her) I would like to, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that Stephanie NEVER crossed the ‘line.’ I found her charming, informative, and forceful (in a good way).
At one point I did turn to the audience and apologized for us having hijacked the discussion for the last few minutes and several of them pointed out how refreshing it was to hear different sides of the issue (a couple of them reiterating it after the panel as well).
After the panel ended, Stephanie and I did chat briefly and both of us indicated to the other how much we had enjoyed the discussion even though we disagreed with each other.
So, imagine my shock when I found out that she had been kicked off panels. Even more so, since no from Balticon bothered to contact me about the panel (and no one still has).
Anyway, as a fellow panelist on the panel that is being cited as the reason for her expulsion, I want to make it absolutely clear that Stephanie did nothing that warranted her treatment.
What I find incredulous is that someone at Balticon took it upon themselves to treat another person like that without even bothering to find out what happened or having any investigation of a any kind. Escorting someone out of a panel is pretty extreme. I do think Yakira (the Balticon Chair) is trying to set it right to the extent she can (she has publicly apologized and is now leading an investigation into the incident). I hope the investigation also focuses on Lisa Adler-Golden (the program chair, and I believe the person behind the expulsion) and her actions, motivations and suitability for participation in future Balticons.
David Weber responded at length in comments (here and here), saying in part:
…I’m waiting to see how this all works out, and I hope the con chair is able (and willing) to tell the world what really happened and issue a very sincere and public apology (if appropriate) based on the results of her investigation.
If, as I suspect from all I have heard so far, an apology IS appropriate, I think it should be accompanied with an invitation to return as a special guest and, particularly, for a panel on just how destructive this sort of thing is for the fan community as a whole, and not just for the pros/guests immediately affected by it. It’s an issue that needs to be dragged out into the daylight and confronted, without accepting it as long as it only happens to people WE don’t like, and without degenerating into fruitless rounds of whataboutism. This is goring ALL our oxen. It needs to stop, and I hope one response to this fiasco is that Balticon will tell us how IT intends to prevent it going forward….
(2) THE MESSAGE RECEIVED VARIES WITH THE READER. Jeff VanderMeer addresses the question if “Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a classic for its portrayal of gender, but is it also sometimes, for the modern reader, a climate change parable?” in “Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead” at Orion Magazine.
…Le Guin, in creating both this world and this situation, meant to interrogate the politics and logic of countries, and how societies deal with the outsider. Even the long, harrowing journey by Genly and his erstwhile friend from Winter, Estraven, across barren ice can be interpreted as a traditional Jack Londonesque extreme wilderness survival tale, rather than anything more modern.
Yet, the reader changes a book because the world changes, and so when I read of the “facts” of Genly being disputed in Orgoreyn, I could not help but think about the “disputed” facts and proofs of the climate crisis.
Climate crisis is about extremes, and in The Left Hand of Darkness cultures are shaped by an immeasurably hostile physical environment. The coldness of the place, which forces adaptation to its conditions and discourages certain kinds of risk. The fact the nations of Winter do not engage in war constitutes one unique manifestation of this adaptation to an extreme environment. Full-scale conflict, as opposed to minor sorties, skirmishes, individual feuds, simply seems alien to the nations of Winter….
Genly describes war as “the opposite of civilization,” and this is literally true on Winter—if not on our Earth. The planet’s inhabitants cannot afford the destructiveness of war or risk Death by Planet, by diverting or destroying resources needed for survival. They do not have the luxury of surviving both the climate and war….
…We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them. A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.
The big news is that we got $15,000 from the City of Boston! This is $10,000 for COVID relief and $5,000 in general operating support. We can use this money to pay organizational expenses such as rent, which comes to $15.600 per year.
We got a grant for $2,275 from SFWA for convention expenses and we can use this for expenses the convention had even though it didn’t actually happen. We have easily enough eligible expenses to get the access grant and $2500 for organizations that did. This appears to be what happened, as we were approved for $2500 for training. We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them. A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.
…We proposed to use this general staff anti-racism training, and I also requested in the application to be able to use the money for board training, in case we get other funding for anti-racism trainings. I believe the Anti-Racism Committee is working on specifics for this training.
We got $3000 for CART from the Universal Participation Fund and the expenses didn’t happen. This is the grant that we qualify for because of Card to Culture. I don’t know if the money can be repurposed, or if so how.
Speaking of Card to Culture, we had 12 people registered for A22 via Card to Culture, vs. 3 in 2021. I am hopeful that we get even more in 2023.
Finally, we have gotten about $4,000 in donations, with one large donation pending in an unknown amount.
This is a total of almost $24,000 not including the access grant. Our annual expenses are a little over $19,000 and the convention had $6,000 in expenses that can’t be passed on to Arisia 2023, plus one of the grants obliges us to spend money on training that we might not have spent otherwise. So we aren’t quite square, but we’re pretty close….
Library groups this week joined with booksellers, publishers, and public advocacy groups in sounding the alarm over a lawsuit in Virginia in which two popular authors and their publishers have been ordered to defend their works against obscenity charges.
The legal action was filed last month by Virginia Beach lawyer and delegate in the Virginia Assembly Tim Anderson (on behalf of local plaintiff and congressional candidate Tommy Altman), citing an obscure state obscenity law. It alleges that two books for sale in a Virginia Beach Barnes & Noble—Maia Kobabe’s popular graphic memoir Gender Queer (Oni Press) and A Court of Mist and Fury (Bloomsbury) by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas—are “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.”
According to the Mercury, the judge who issued the order, Pamela Baskervill, is “a retired Petersburg-area judge,” who is handling the case because “all other judges in Virginia Beach recused themselves.”
The court’s order raises the possibility that the court could issue a restraining order barring the books from public display and restraining booksellers and libraries from selling or loaning the books to minors without parental consent. In a Facebook post, Anderson hailed the judge’s order as “a major legal victory” and laid out the playbook for those seeking to restrict access to materials they find objectionable: “Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia,” Anderson wrote. “There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools.”…
Can a book change a young woman’s life? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women in the publishing world about the importance of writing stories that inspire and empower girls.
Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults. Her books have strong female leads and draw inspiration from her Nigerian roots. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel: she was the first woman to write the character of T’challa, the Black Panther, and she wrote a series about his tech loving sister, Shuri. She is a recipient of the World Fantasy, Hugo and Nebula Awards.
Mel Mazman is the chief product officer at Rebel Girls, a franchise publishing books and digital content aimed at empowering young women. The company started in 2016, with a crowdfunding campaign for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a book featuring the stories of 100 inspirational women. Since then, they sold 7.5 million books in over 100 countries. Mel shares her insights on how the publishing industry is changing to cater for the needs and interests of younger generations of readers.
(7) BREAKFAST WITH TIFFANYS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jo Walton talks to Helen Zaltzman about what she calls “The Tiffany Problem, or how do you tell readers that the “anachronisms” they find in novels aren’t actually anachronistic. “Tiffany” is an authentic 12th century name (ultmately derived from “Epiphany”) but use it in a historical novel and readers complain, Walton discusses how she handles this problem in her novels. “The Tiffany Problem” at The Allusionist podcast.
(8) KEN KELLY (1946-2022). Prolific genre and album artist Ken Kelly died June 3 at the age of 76. He was particularly known for his sword & sorcery cover art. He depicted Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan and the rock acts KISS, Manowar, Sleepy Hollow, Rainbow, and Ace Frehley.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1982 – [By Cat Eldridge.] On this day forty years ago, my favorite Trek film by far, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, premiered. As I noted yesterday in my essay on the ending of the original series, there have been thirteen films so far — the good, the bad and the just plan forgettable. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is in my opinion stellar.
Now I’ll admit that the episode that spawned it, “Space Seed”, isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but the screenwriter for this film, Jack B. Sowards, who based it off a story by him and Harve Bennett, created a story here that is fantastic. Neither had any genre background so Bennett watched all of the original series after being hired by Paramount and decided to do a film off the “Space Seed” story.
Damn, they did a great job. From the Kobayashi Maru simulation (named after Soward’s neighbor) to the over-the-top villain that Ricardo Montalbán is here (far more than he was in “Space Seed”), there is nothing that is not completely entertaining here. Most of these Trek films have a spot or two where I want to say to the editor why is that scene in here, but not in this film. I loved it from beginning to end unreservedly.
(Roger Ebert in his review had an interesting point about Khan: “Khan is played as a cauldron of resentment by Ricardo Montalban, and his performance is so strong that he helps illustrate a general principle involving not only Star Trek but ‘Star Wars’ (1977) and all the epic serials, especially the ‘James Bond’ movies: Each film is only as good as its villain.”)
(Some of them are entirely like that.)
They were given a lousy budget, just twelve million, as Paramount really didn’t believe the film was going to do crap. It did as it made ninety million.
What did the critics think? If they were Trekkies, they liked it. If they weren’t, they didn’t.
Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times definitely liked it: “In this new film there’s no feeling that its makers are straining to compete with ‘Star Wars’ and other special-effects spectaculars, instead, they’re attempting to recapture the spirit of the beloved TV series. (It is, in fact, probably a plus that the film actually began production intended for TV.) The result is a brisk, handsomely designed film in which its hardware, sturdy as it is, never overwhelms its humanity.”
Whereas David Khmer of the Chicago Reader wasn’t impressed: “In this second Star Trek feature (1982), the crew of the Enterprise confronts middle age in a plot that makes very little literal sense but is packed with pertinent life-out-of-death, Waste Land imagery: a 200-year-old heavy (Ricardo Montalban) living on a barren planet, a secret project code-named ‘Genesis’ that can turn deserts into tropical jungles, Captain Kirk wearing specs and rediscovering his long-lost family. If only director Nicholas Meyer had grasped the implications of his tale more fully and enthusiastically, this might have become a classic piece of cornball SF poetry, but as it stands the tepid acting and one-set claustrophobia take a heavy toll.”
It was nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation losing out to Blade Runner. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers really like giving a ninety percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 4, 1951 — Wendy Pini, 71. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest which won them a Balrog. Over the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online at the Elfquest Comic Viewer. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading!
Born June 4, 1960 — Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 62. If you’ve not discovered the delights of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is great deal of fun no matter where you start. And her Spade / Paladin series of which the first novel just came out, Ten Little Fen, is absolutely delightful. Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A.J. Budrys.
Born June 4, 1960 — Bradley Walsh, 62. His first genre was on The Sarah Jane Adventures as Odd Bob Elijah Spellman aka The Pied Piper in “The Day of the Clown” story. His major genre role video wise however is Graham O’Brien, companion to the Thirteenth Doctor. Now it’s worth noting that he has a lot of theatre experience that is genre having appeared in multiple versions of Aladdin, Cinderella, Jack & the Bean Stalk, Peter Pan and Snow White.
Born June 4, 1964 — Sean Pertwee, 58. Let’s see, where did I see him first? Oh, of course, playing Sheriff Hugh Beringar on Cadfael but that’s not genre, is it? Captain Heinz in “Trenches of Hell, Part 2 “, on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which was his first genre role followed being Pilot Smith on Event Horizon and Macbeth in a UK film of that name the same year. He did a bit of low-budget horror playing Bradley Cortese in Tale of the Mummy and likewise in being Sergeant Harry G. Wells in Dog Soldiers. There were some fairly low budget SF as well, say Father in Equilibrium. Not to mention Brother Proteus in Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie which I dearly want to see! All of which gets redeemed by his Inspector Lestrade in Elementary, a stunning take on that character. And then there’s his Alfred in Gotham.
Born June 4, 1969 — Julie Gardner, 53. She was executive producer on the revival of Doctor Who and the spin-offs of Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures. She co-founded with Julie Tranter Bad Wolf, best known for the BBC TV series His Dark Materials and A Discovery of Witches on which she serves as an executive producer.
Born June 4, 1972 — Joe Hill, 50. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops pre-Pandemic. Really nice guy like his father. Actually the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts, and his collection Full Throttle. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award.
Born June 4, 1975 — Angelina Jolie, 47. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role being quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen her Maleficent films.
Born June 4, 1991 — Jordan Danger, 31. She is best known for her role as Zoe Carter on Eureka. (Now inexplicably renamed A Town Called Eureka in syndication but not on Peacock which is streaming it now along with Warehouse 13.) She also showed up in Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators which as horror is genre of sorts, plus the SF films, Higher Power and Beyond the Sky. And even a vampire film, Living Among Us. All low budget, all straight to DVD productions.
(11) COWL SCOWL. In “What Is Batman” the Pretty Much Pop podcast shares its taxonomical theories.
In light of the recent release of Matt Reeves’ film The Batman, we consider the strange alternation of darkness and camp that is Batman. Is he even a super hero? What’s with his rogues’ gallery? What’s with DC’s anti-world-building?
(12) HUMOR IN THE DARKNESS. Death’s Intern by D.C. Gomez is the debut novel in the Intern Diaries series launched in 2017.
A talking cat, a boy genius, missing people, and an untrained Intern for Death. What could possibly go wrong?
Did that really happen?
There’s no way Death offered me a job. I’m a musician that makes her living as a waitress, with absolutely no training in the supernatural world. This is all a very bad dream.
But Bob has been kidnapped, and I can’t possibly lose the only friend I have.
Bob, you’d better be alive. Because if I just gave my soul to Death for nothing, I will personally kill you. Not to mention, it seems Death’s Interns have fairly short life expectancies.
God, don’t let me die.
D. C. Gomez was born in the Dominican Republic, and grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. She study film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years. Those experiences shaped her quirky sense of humor. D.C. has a love for those who served and the families that support them. She currently lives in the quaint city of Wake Village, Texas, with her furry roommate, Chincha.
One of D. C.’s passions is helping those around her overcome their self-limiting beliefs. She writes both non-fiction and fiction books, ranging from Urban Fantasy to Children’s Books. To learn more about her books and her passion, you can find her at www.dcgomez-author.com.
(13) SCIENCE TAKES A HOLIDAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You don’t know what it has been like the past few days as you are a citizen living in a flawed democracy, conversely, I am a subject living in a full democracy kingdom. Anyway, our Queen has ruled that we must have four days celebrating 70 years of her reign. So it has been street parties, barbecue, coronation chicken and a right old national knees-up this side of the Pond. It is a tough life, but we Brits are used to it.
It has also meant that, with the exception of this morning, the library cybercafés have been closed, hence no science news until now.
On 28 May, Perseverance ground a 5-centimetre-wide circular patch into a rock at the base of what was once a river delta in the crater. This delta formed billions of years ago, when a long-vanished river deposited layers of sediment into Jezero, and it is the main reason that NASA sent the rover here. On Earth, river sediment is usually teeming with life.
Images of the freshly ground spot show small sediment grains, which scientists are hoping will contain chemical or other traces of life. Poet William Blake’s “‘To see a world in a grain of sand’ comes to mind,” wrote Sanjeev Gupta, a planetary geologist at Imperial College London, on Twitter….
Meanwhile, the journal Science has been looking at Mayan astronomy and this features on their cover: “The Stargazers”.
The historic Maya oriented their lives by the heavens. Today, their descendants and Western scholars team up to understand their sophisticated astronomy
In the past few years, slowly converging lines of evidence have been restoring the clearest picture yet of the stargazing knowledge European colonizers fought so hard to scrub away…
(14) SHADOWPAW PRESS MAKES DUOTERO AVAILABLE AGAIN. Duatero by Vancouver author Brad C. Anderson, a searing far-future science fiction novel about the struggles of an abandoned human colony to survive on a hostile alien world, is back in print in a new edition from Shadowpaw Press after being orphaned by the closing of its original publisher, Bundoran Press.
Majstro Falchilo Kredo has devoted his life to protecting the abandoned Earth colony of Duatero from Malamiko, the indigenous ecosystem that makes their crops fail and whose contamination turns humans into mindless monsters.
But Malimiko is changing, becoming more dangerous, more aware, even as the ancient technology the humans use to combat it fails piece by precious piece. Kredo and his fellow soldiers must risk everything or see all they hold precious wiped away and forgotten.
Kredo is prepared to sacrifice himself—and anyone around him—to do his duty. But what if the price demanded is even higher?
“Duatero is a powerful work of science fiction that confronts issues of morality and survival head-on in a carefully thought-out and terrifying alien world,” said Edward Willett, editor and publisher of Shadowpaw Press. “It deserves to find many new readers, and I’m thrilled to be able to give it that opportunity.”
Duatero can be bought directly from the publisher or from most online bookstores in both ebook and print and can also be ordered through any brick-and-mortar bookstore. This handy URL provides links to multiple online sources: https://books2read.com/duatero/
“Like a lot of folks, I look forward to the competition every year and am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence,” he said….
(16) IT’S ALMOST TIME. Suspension by Andrea Faye Christians – “a time travel tale of epic proportions” — is Book One of the Time Binder Series.
When Carla Thompson falls asleep and doesn’t wake up, she is shocked to discover what destiny has in store for her. Suspended between two worlds, she meets Isambard Brunel, the legendary eighteenth-century civil engineer, who built the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, and who now serves as guardian of its secrets. Historical events intertwine with Carla’s current reality and along the way she discovers a murder, encounters a host of characters including Jamaican psychic, Matilda, and engages in verbal banter with literary legend, Ernest Hemingway. Her adventures lead her to a startling revelation about why she was chosen for her strange new role. In death Carla realises she has never felt more alive.
Andrea Faye Christians was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. Following a successful career in British radio including the BBC, she moved to the southern Mediterranean island of Malta to pursue her dream of becoming a freelance writer. A decade later she bought a farm in the Madonie Mountains of Sicily where a menagerie of rescue animals found their way to her. With a son in Malta and a daughter in Sicily, Andrea has a home and her heart in both places, and she now divides her time between the neighboring islands.
Neils Bohr said, “It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.” Well it turns out that if we pay attention to this subtle difference, some of the most mysterious aspects of nature make a lot more sense.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
Arisia 2022 has been cancelled due to the impact of Covid announced Chair Vivian Abraham today. The event had been planned for the January 14-17 weekend in Boston. The hotel has agreed to slide Arisia’s contractual obligations to later years.
At the end of 2021, the Con Chair team met and determined how we would move forward. We decided that we would look at the COVID numbers in the new year (they are higher than ever), we would look at the health of our team (several of whom now have COVID or have family members with COVID), we would look at the number of folks planning to attend and/or be on program (which is currently too small to sustain us financially), and we would look at the advice of our COVID advisory team. Together, these things portray only one responsible decision that we can make: We need to cancel the in-person Arisia 2022. Fortunately, the hotel has agreed to reschedule the 2022 and 2023 contracts and, instead, host Arisia 2023 and 2024 in the Westin.
More information about how memberships will be rolled over, and the deadline for cancelling current year room reservations is in the Final Progress Report.
They will not pivot to a virtual convention. However, on the weekend Arisia would have been held they will still have an online Minecraft server and an official Discord. People will not need a badge to participate. The Arisia code of conduct will apply in both of these spaces. Check the website for updates about how to connect.
By Daniel Dern: Taking place Friday, January 15 through Monday, January 18, Arisia 2021 was, unsurprisingly, virtual-only with, according to the con runners, about 1,500 registrations.
For comparison, according to my File 770 report on Arisia 2020:
“The first Arisia had just over 800 attendees; Arisia 2017 had over 4,500 registered attendees! According to the con’s Monday morning January 20 Clear Ethernet newsletter, Arisia 2020 is reporting 3,052 registered attendees.”
Arisia 2021’s Guests of Honor were Suzanne Palmer (Author GoH), Hannibal King (Artist GoH), and Kat Tanaka Okopnik (Fan GoH).
Currently — fingers and pseudopods crossed! — Arisia 2022, January 14-17, 2022, is planned to be IRL, back at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, with Guests of Honor Andrea Hairston (Author GoH), Reiko Murakami (Artist GoH), and Elsa Sjunneson (Fan GoH). Memberships are for sale here.
Over the past year, I — like, I presume, everybody else reading this — have “attended”/participated in my share of family, friend, social, and work-related virtual events, including, for me, over the previous week or so, press events for the Consumer Electronics Show that’s normally live (and crowded) in Las Vegas.
However, Arisia 2021 was my first virtual Con. And I was under the weather enough that other than fulfilling my own panel commitments — part of a Readings panel, plus, over in FastTrack, reading some of my Dern Grim Bedtime Tales, Few Of Which End Well, & Other Stories, plus an instructive attempt to do my magic show en Zoom — I didn’t do anywhere as much as I might otherwise. (Plus, alas, no hall costume pix.)
That said, here’s some info, screen grabs (with permission from Arisia, where appropriate), and some other notes’n’thoughts. (Please feel encouraged to put links to your own reports/posts for Arisia 2021, or other thoughts, in this post’s COMMENTS.)
ARISIA ONLINE! Arisia 2021 was organized to take place “entirely online, primarily across Discord, Zoom, and a new Arisia Virtual Convention website, designed specifically for this convention with an eye to recreating what we all love most about an in-person convention experience.”
Activities included meetups (using Zoom and Discord), including use of Zoom break-out rooms.
Arisia 2021 also of course used the usual gamut of email and social media for communicating/schmoozing, including Arisia’s Clear Ether blog, Twitter (https://twitter.com/Arisia), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/arisiainc/), and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/arisiainc/). (My apologies if there are any I’ve missed.) (Balticon 54, back in May 2020, apparently used Second Life extensively. According to Balticon: “Balticon 54 will be hosting a social space inside Second Life for convention attendees. The convention space, Balticon Station, will be a virtual con suite where you can meet and hang out with other fans. We also plan to sponsor Second Life convention activities, events, and to provide links to sci-fi and fantasy themed locations throughout Second Life.”)
Arisia 2021 had over 100 panels, meetups, song-circles, and sing, hosted live on Zoom. According to Arisia, “This year’s panels are running 55 minutes, instead of 75 minutes, with 35 minutes between sessions. This gives program participants time to make sure all of the technical pieces are working for the next session, hopefully minimizing technical disruptions.”
THE HELP DESK WAS STRONG: Program participants were expected to connect to Zoom half an hour before the actual session, to confirm those pesky details like “are my video and audio working,” “are all the participants here,” and (where appropriate) also making sure we were Discorded in.
Support cued us up at start the session, hung around in the background just in case, and helped make sure panelists and audience knew where the virtual break-out rooms where. Having been on my share of multi-person, many-newbies Zooms by know, I could tell we were in good, experienced hands.
THE MASQUERADE: You can still watch Arisia 2021’s half-hour Virtual Masquerade video, and while you don’t get the part-of-an-audience dynamic, you get a much closer, fuller look at the costumes, some in motion, along with some close-ups of the work and some comments from the creators.
DEALERS ROOM AND ART SHOW: According to pre-con info from Arisia, “The Art Show https://online.arisia.org/artshow and the Dealer’s Room https://online.arisia.org/dealers will be available to the public for the first time in Arisia history! …This year, Art Show and Dealer sales will happen through the specific Artists’ and Dealers’ websites. Links will be provided on their pages.”
Dealer and Art Show participants were organized alphabetically with info-tiles — straightforward enough, but lacking the walk-through/visual-browse of a live room, of course. I wonder whether there are manageable (as in, easy to implement and cross-platform/device-usable) ways to do this, like, say, using Second Life.
Arisia 2021 also offererd Gaming, filking, workshops (including swordplay — see the picture), dancing, and meet-ups — if anyone reading this participated in any of those, I welcome your thoughts below in the comments.
EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY OWN SESSIONS. I was in one of the multi-person reading sessions, along with Anne Nydam (nydamprints.com), who read from her The Extraordinary Book of Doors (which I enjoyed, and highly recommend — it also includes books, libraries and cats), and RR Angell reading from a rather somber cyber/military-SF story. (I read a few of my flash-length Dern Grim Bedtime Tales.)
The audience was, by default, muted. Particularly since I was looking at my text, I couldn’t keep an eye on the audience view, I found the lack of audio feedback disconcerting.
Doing magic tricks — especially for FastTrack kids — proved harder than I thought, between things (unwantedly) disappearing into my virtual background, trying to keep my cards, rabbits, hats, etc. in my camera view, and properly lit. On the other hand, we — about eight or nine kids — had fun also asking and answering questions, telling jokes, showing me (and the rest of the audience) tricks, keeping us all happily occupied for the near-hour, which, I’m pretty sure, more than met the hopes of many of the parents/adults.
The good news: no problems with weather, hotel reservations, or public transit. No need to board our dog. Everybody had an equally good “seat” for events.
The sad news: none of the opportunistic or planned schmoozing with friends.
Were there bid or other parties? I forgot to check.
See you — with the emphasis on “see!” — you next year, tentacles twirled.
…Mr. Clark was kind enough to talk with me about the music behind his new novella, the novella’s long (and then fast) journey to publication, how the novella got personal, and more. Let’s get to the interview!
NOAF: You mention on your blog that this story was in your head for a long time before you wrote it down. Can you tell us about when and why you decided to write the story down? And while you were drafting it out, did were there any scenes or characters that ended up completely differently than how you had originally imagined them?
P. Djèlí Clark: Yeah, the story was definitely with me for a while—mostly in dreamt up scenes and characters with a smattering of a plot. Visuals or a song could send me daydreaming for a minute. As I’m prone to do, it’s only when I have a full sketch of a story in my head that I start jotting down notes. That was in early August 2016. I sat down and wrote up Ring Shout from start to ending, on the Notes feature on my iPhone. Then I put it down and went and lived the rest of my life. It wasn’t until April of 2019 that it started to become “a thing.” I was sitting in a DC café, on the phone with my editor Diana Pho about a book contract for an unrelated completed full-length novel. The book world being the book world, it probably wouldn’t come out until 2021. My novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015 had just been released and that meant there’d be this big gap before I was next published. Diana asked if I might be interested in doing another novella in between—that is, if I had any ideas. I pitched two concepts, one of which was Ring Shout. It ended up in the contract.
Then came the real trouble. I had nothing written but a set of notes from almost 3 years back and a head full of ideas. I had until about September to turn it into a working story. Planned to get it done that summer. But nope. Academic work and copyedits on the unrelated full-length novel pretty much devoured my writing time. Finally, I got started on August 30, 2019. Two days before it was due. Had to ask for an extension. Then somehow, in the next four weeks, got it written. By that time whole new characters had been added, scenes had changed, and elements of the overall plot had been rewritten—so that it only resembles in passing those original notes from 2016. But hey, that’s the writing process….
Over the past seven months, the Eboard Con Chair Team, along with Assistant Con Chair Vivian Abraham and the Division Heads, have been working hard to determine what we need to recreate the Arisia experience in an online-only convention. Our first step was to make sure that Arisia is squared away with its hotel contract. Hotel liaison Wendy Verschoor, along with Eboard President Nicholas “Phi” Shectman, have been in talks with the Westin Boston Waterfront and Aloft regarding our Arisia 2021 contract. As of September 15, 2020 we were able to come to an agreement. We will not need to have a hotel presence this year, and our continuing contract with the Westin Boston Marriott and Aloft will resume in 2022.
A federal judge presiding over a high-stakes antitrust lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games — maker of the popular video game Fortnite — repeatedly slammed Epic on Monday on its legal theories and tactics in the company’s case against the iOS App Store, a court battle that could reshape the digital economy.
Epic is seeking a temporary court order that would force Apple to unblock Fortnite from its iOS App Store. Apple removed the game in August after Epic pushed a software update to the app that allowed players to circumvent Apple’s proprietary in-app payment system — a move that is contractually prohibited.
…Judge Gonzalez Rogers looked skeptically at many of Epic’s claims, explicitly telling the company several times in the hearing she was not persuaded by its arguments or its strategy.
Epic knew that it was breaching its contract with Apple when it published the update, but did it anyway, she said, accusing the company of dishonesty.
Apple has justified its app store policies partly as a way to protect consumers from security risks and malicious software. Epic has countered that it is a credible business that has been on the iOS App Store for years and poses no security threat. But Gonzalez Rogers said that is not the issue.
“You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” Gonzalez Rogers told Epic. “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”
Epic’s attorneys acknowledged that the company breached its agreement with Apple but claimed Epic was simply refusing to comply with an anti-competitive contract, and that forcing a legal battle was part of Epic’s plan.
…It also cited Apple’s in-app payment system as an example of illegal tying — when a company bundles two products together for anti-competitive gain.
But there is no tying going on with Apple’s in-app payment system, Gonzalez Rogers observed.
“I’m not particularly persuaded,” she said of the in-app payment mechanism. “I just don’t see this as a separate and distinct product.”
Nor did the judge buy Epic’s argument that Apple has harmed the distribution of Fortnite because of Apple’s exclusive control of the iOS App Store. Fortnite players on iOS have a variety of choices to access the game even if it is no longer available on iOS, she said.
“Walled gardens have existed for decades,” she said. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
He writes: “In a skewed way, stopping now and admitting that the Fantastic Beasts franchise was a failed experiment would probably do Warner Media, a publicly-traded company, more harm than just bringing the story to a natural conclusion and taking their commercial licks along the way. Call it sunk-cost fallacy.”
September 30, 2005. The Joss Whedon-written Serenity premiered. The sequel, or perhaps continuation, or perhaps finale of, the short-lived Firefly series, it reunited the entire cast from the series. It would overwhelmingly win the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation at L.A. Con IV beating out The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It holds an excellent eighty two percent rating by audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 30, 1915 – Richard D. Mullen. Founder of Science Fiction Studies; co-editor (with Darko Suvin) 1973-1978; returned as editor, managing editor, and like that, 1991. Two books of selected SFS articles, two more on P.K. Dick (with DS & others); essays, reviews, in SFS, Extrapolation, Foundation, Riverside Quarterly. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born September 30, 1926 – Gillian Avery. Historian of children’s education and literature. The Guardian Children’s Literature prize for Edwardian father-son novel A Likely Lad. For us, Huck and Her Time Machine (note pronoun); a dozen others; nonfiction including a Life of Juliana Ewing and an ed’n of Emily Pepys’ Journal (this branch of the family pronounces their name peppis). (Died 2016) [JH]
Born September 30, 1949 – D Potter. Fanziner, photographer, railroad fan. Fan Guest of Honor at Balticon 16. Active in various apas including APA-Q, FAPA, Myriad. Appreciations by Our Gracious Host and Avedon Carol here. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 70. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolate, Like Water for Chocolate in English. Magic realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read. (CE)
Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 69. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as well as the TimeWars series. He has written Battlestar Galactica, Trek, Friday the 13th, Predator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder. (CE)
Born September 30, 1954 – Sylvia McNicoll, 66. Two dozen children’s novels, of which two for us. Silver Birch; four Hamilton Arts Council awards (Body Swap won 2019 Literary Award for Fiction); several more. Website. [JH]
Born September 30, 1960 — Nicola Griffith, 60. Editor with Stephen Pagel of the genre gender anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, Bending the Landscape: Fantasy (World Fantasy Award and Lambda winner) and Bending the Landscape: Horror. Ammonite won both the Lambda and Otherwise Awards. She also garnered a Lambda and a Nebula for the most excellent Slow River. All of her novels are available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born September 30, 1972 – Sheree Renée Thomas, 48. Dark Matter, a NY Times Notable Book of the Year, won World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology, then Dark Matter, Reading the Bones won another; Fall 2016 Obsidian; Jul 2018 Strange Horizons (with Rasha Abdulhadi, Erin Roberts); Aug 2018 Apex. A dozen short stories, fifty poems, essays, for us; many others; see here (Wikipedia). [JH]
Born September 30, 1975 — Ta-Nehisi Coates, 45. He has also written Black Panther and Captain America stories. Issue number one of the former series sold a quarter million physical copies, very impressive indeed. The Water Dancer contains magic realism elements. (CE)
Born September 30, 1982 — Lacey Chabert, 38. Penny Robinson on the Lost in Space film reboot which I did see in the theater and didn’t think it was too bad. She’s done mostly voice acting and children’s features after that. She voiced Gwen Stacy on The Spectacular Spider-Man series and does likewise for Zatanna Zatara on the current Young Justice series. (CE)
Born September 30, 1983 – Angela Kulig, 37. Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories. “I write books, many of which have been published. I live in Las Vegas, which sounds exciting, but I prefer to pretend I live in books.” Website. [JH]
Born September 30, 1985 — Katrina Law, 35. She’s well-known for playing the roles of Mira on Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Vengeance which are sort of genre, and Nyssa al Ghul on Arrow. (CE)
(9) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says another Jeopardy! contestant missed their shot with a genre topic.
Category: Playing the part on TV
Answer: Mr. Sulu; His own head on “Futurama”
Wrong question: “Who is DeForest Kelley?”
(10) FORD NOVEL RETURNS. Today is the republication date for John M. Ford’s long out-of-print The Dragon Waiting.
Available for the first time in nearly two decades, with a new introduction by New York Times-bestselling author Scott Lynch, The Dragon Waiting is a masterpiece of blood and magic.
Isaac Butler has all kinds of reasons you should read it:
Incendiary is the first in a new Young Adult Fantasy trilogy by author Zoraida Córdova, with the setting inspired by Inquisitorial Spain. Córdova is a prolific YA writer whose work I hadn’t gotten to previously, but one I was hoping to get to at some point, so I requested this novel via inter-library loan once my library reopened.
And well, Incendiary is a really interesting YA fantasy novel, with a compelling protagonist….but also one that feels not quite sure what it wants to do with her….
A Utah man is behind bars after he stole a pickup truck out of a 7-Eleven parking lot.
The victim left the keys in the truck and the vehicle unlocked when he went in to the convience store for a quick stop.
That’s when Bryce Jerald Dixon hopped into the vehicle and took off.
KUTV reports that Dixon took the truck in order to drive all the way to the “Colosseum to get on a flight with alien diplomats.”
Unfortunately, before Dixon could get to the Colosseum, which was some 6,000 miles away across the ocean, he started feeling bad, and decided to return the red pickup truck to the parking lot and its owner, where the police were waiting….
(13) CHEESE FROM OUTER SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Mamie Van Doren On The Red Skelton Show S09E30 (5/24/60” on YouTube is a sketch from a 1960 episode of The Red Skelton Show where Mamie Van Doren is the Queen of Outer Space and Peter Lorre is the Galactic Emperor. They want to destroy the Earth — and the only person who can stop them is Red Skelton’s goofball character Clem Kadiddlehopper! Special cameo by Rod Serling.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Among Us” Fandom Games reviews a mindless phone game from 2018 that’s for “the attention-deficit gaming community” that “searches for something to keep them busy in this time of isolation.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Michael Toman, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]