Pixel Scroll 7/29/22 I Can Pixel All The Airs From That Credential’d Nonsense Scrollafore

I’ve been having a brutal time getting online all afternoon. And having suitably paranoid thoughts that my internet provider knows I spent the morning trying to replace its service (only to discover the company that had been sending me its advertising doesn’t actually cover my address), and is punishing me for my disloyalty. Therefore I have prepared this placeholder which I will load if I can get online long enough to do so. And I will add the rest of the birthdays later, since I assume at some point things will start working again

(1) BAEN WRITERS REMEMBER ERIC FLINT. On the Baen Free Radio Hour, Griffin Barber hosts and participates in a roundtable remembrance of the late Eric Flint, featuring David Weber, Charles E. Gannon, Kevin Ikenberry, and Bjorn Hasseler.

(2) PAUL COKER (1929-2022). MAD Magazine artist Paul Coker died July 23. Coker’s first appearance in Mad was in 1961; he has since gone on to illustrate over 375 articles for the magazine. In 1968, he illustrated the Mad paperback MAD for Better or Verse; written by Frank Jacobs, the first of eight all-new paperbacks drawn by Coker. In 2002, the magazine also published a collection of “Horrifying Cliches,” the long-running feature that featured Coker art. Coker also was a production designer on more than a dozen Rankin/Bass specials and shorts, including Frosty the SnowmanSanta Claus Is Comin’ to TownThe Year Without a Santa ClausRudolph’s Shiny New Year and The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town.

(3) MEMORY LANE.  

2011 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just twelve years ago on this date, a rare beast slouched forth. Cowboys & Aliens was an SF Western film which was directed by Jon Favreau with the cast Daniel Craig as the memory fogged cowboy and Harrison Ford as a wealthy landowner, and Olivia Wilde as a mysterious traveller. Yes, they got top billing. 

It was based off the rather excellent graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley, with art by Dennis Calero and Lucian Lima. It’s available from the usual suspects as a Meredith moment as it only seven dollars. Do be very careful what you download as there’s a not so choice bit of erotica called Cowboys & Aliens as well. Really. Truly. There is. 

The screenplay by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby from the  story by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Steve Oedekerk. Notes about the film by Orci and Kurtzman says they thought it has a strong Trek and a Indy Jones feel. 

Before Universal Studios picked up the option, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Studios, Fox Family Films, Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures passed out on it. Mind you Universal Studios didn’t take all the financial risk here as they formed a complex consortium of DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Relativity Media, Imagine Entertainment, K/O Paper, Products Fairview Entertainment and Platinum Studios. 

Oh I’d loved to have seen the profit sharing paperwork there! Not that there weren’t any as it made just ten million over its production costs of one hundred and sixty four million. With publicity costs, it definitely lost money.

SPOILERS! BEWARE! GO AWAY!

A mysterious men with no memories wearing alien tech.  Corpses that come back to life. Aliens kidnapping locals for nefarious reasons. Well to mine gold. Huh?  A lot of this could fit into The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. episode if you tried. Sorry it just felt that way to me watching it. 

It ends happily, more or less, for almost everyone still living with the townsfolk using the gold after after the Aliens have been killed off to rebuild the flatten town, and the Mysterious Stranger, no not the Olivia Wilde character, but the character with the alien tech allowed to leave town.  

IT’S SAFE TO COME BACK NOW. REALLY IT IS.

It’s not bad but I’ll note the mixing of genres didn’t please many critics. As the Salon reviewer said it was “a mediocre western clumsily welded to a mediocre alien shoot-’em-up”. And Slant concluded that “Cowboys & Aliens mashes up genres with a staunch dedication to getting everything wrong, making sure that each scene is more inane than the one that preceded it.”

It has a forty-three rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Born July 29, 1915 Kay Dick. Author of two genre novels, The Mandrake Root and At Close of Eve, plus a collection, The Uncertain Element: An Anthology of Fanta. She is known in Britain for campaigning successfully for the introduction of the Public Lending Right which pays royalties to authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. There should be a statue of her for that. She’s not available in digital or print currently. (Died 2001.)

Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. She founded Atheneum Children’s Books, and she edited the beginning of Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. As an author, she wrote three genre novels, Strange Tomorrow, Beloved Benjamin Is Waiting and But We Are Not of Earth, and a reasonable amount of short fiction, all of which is In the Clordian Sweep series. Nine of those stories are in The Turning Point collection. The Turning Point collection is available from the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)

Born July 29, Curtis C. Smith. Editor of Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, plus two genre biographies, Olaf Stapledon: A Bibliography with co-author Harvey J. Satty, and Welcome to the Revolution: The Literary Legacy of Mack Reynolds. Not active since the mid Eighties as near as I can tell. Clute in EoSF notes “The brief biographical sections are generally accurate; the critical pieces vary in quality, with some excellent short essays by a wide range of authors; but the bibliographies are flawed by a murkily inconsistent methodology (perhaps due to the series’ house style), and are error-strewn.” (Died 2014.)

Born July 29, 1941 David Warner. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark in Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful. (Died 2022.)

Born July 29, 1888 Farnsworth Wright. Editor of Weird Tales, editing an amazing 179 issues from November 1924–March 1940. Mike Ashley in EoSF says, “Wright developed WT from a relatively routine horror pulp magazine to create what has become a legend.” His own genre fiction is generally considered undistinguished. He also edited during the Thirties, Oriental Stories and The Magic Carpet. The work available digitally is a poem, “After Two Nights of the Ear-ache”. He was nominated at Loncon 3 for a Best Editor Retro Hugo. (Died 1940.)

Born July 29, 1956 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 66. Author of the India set magical realist The Brotherhood of the Conch series. She also has three one-off novels, The Palace of Illusions, The Mistress of Spices, and her latest, The Forest of Enchantments. Her website is here.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/26/22 Pixel 54, Where Are You?

(1) CALL FOR ATTITUDE CHANGE. Robert Zubrin and two associates discuss the search for life on Mars in the New Atlantis. “How to Search for Life on Mars” – “First, stop refusing to look.”

… The search for life ought to be the great passion animating Mars exploration. But it has not been a goal for NASA. In fact, NASA’s public relations department frequently claims that the agency’s Mars exploration program is meant to “seek signs of life.” They say this because they know that it is what the public is — rightly — interested in. Unfortunately, the claim just isn’t true. NASA’s Mars robotic exploration program is actually focused on geological research, while its planned human Mars exploration program — inasmuch as it exists at all — is not being designed to properly support scientific exploration of any kind.

The last time our space agency conducted experiments to identify signs of living microbes on the planet was in 1976. The 2012 Curiosity rover was meant only to find out “if Mars was ever able to support microbial life,” and the 2021 Perseverance mission was to collect geological samples for later retrieval and perhaps find signs of ancient life — neither aimed at finding living things on the planet today….

(2) DREAMHAVEN MURAL. A bit of criminal activity almost stalled today’s plans to keep painting the DreamHaven Books mural. First they announced.

Things were going so well with the mural but now someone came in the middle of the night and stole the scaffolding.

However, later they had good news:

UN-FUCK! We found the scaffolding. Some asshole wheeled it off behind a nearby building. A neighbor saw it happen and knew vaguely where it had been taken. We already had new scaffolding being delivered and I was planning to spend the night to ensure it stayed in place. I’m still staying tonight. Mark is doing Cheech Wizard right now and Little Nemo and backgrounds tomorrow.

(3) BARS TO PUBLISHING. Pamela Paul says “There’s More Than One Way to Ban a Book” in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

…Though the publishing industry would never condone book banning, a subtler form of repression is taking place in the literary world, restricting intellectual and artistic expression from behind closed doors, and often defending these restrictions with thoughtful-sounding rationales. As many top editors and publishing executives admit off the record, a real strain of self-censorship has emerged that many otherwise liberal-minded editors, agents and authors feel compelled to take part in.

Over the course of his long career, John Sargent, who was chief executive of Macmillan until last year and is widely respected in the industry for his staunch defense of freedom of expression, witnessed the growing forces of censorship — outside the industry, with overt book-banning efforts on the political right, but also within the industry, through self-censorship and fear of public outcry from those on the far left.

“It’s happening on both sides,” Sargent told me recently. “It’s just a different mechanism. On the right, it’s going through institutions and school boards, and on the left, it’s using social media as a tool of activism. It’s aggressively protesting to increase the pain threshold, until there’s censorship going the other way.”

In the face of those pressures, publishers have adopted a defensive crouch, taking pre-emptive measures to avoid controversy and criticism. Now, many books the left might object to never make it to bookshelves because a softer form of banishment happens earlier in the publishing process: scuttling a project for ideological reasons before a deal is signed, or defusing or eliminating “sensitive” material in the course of editing….

(4) A WINK IS AS GOOD AS A NOD. Hunter Liguore tells SFWA Blog readers about “Writing Eyebrows: How to Orchestrate Emotion in Your Story”.

…What is often missed in the early drafting of characters is the up-close observation necessary to fully render their emotional expression, which in turn accentuates their uniqueness. One way we can develop our characters is to consider the individuality and expression of a character’s eyebrows. 

Eyebrows can be an important window into a character’s interior world. When we scrutinize with words the detail of movement and expression individual to each person, we create an orchestration, a living symphony of movement and energy, indicative of a living world. To do this takes attention, rumination, and concentrated focus on the people we’re writing….

(5) IN THE PIPELINE. Andrew Porter shared this list of titles from the late Eric Flint that have already been delivered and are on the schedule for Baen, which he received from Toni Weisskopf.

July 2022
1812: The Rivers of War-first Baen publication, trade pb

August 2022
The Crossing by Kevin Ikenberry-hardcover (not by Eric, but an Assiti Shards novel)

September 2022
To End in Fire by David Weber & Eric Flint-mass market reprint
1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Kerryn Offord & Rick Boatwright-mass market reprint

November 2022
1637: The Transylvanian Decision by Eric Flint & Robert Waters-hardcover

January 2023
Grantville Gazette IX-mass market reprint

April 2023
1637: The Coast of Chaos by Eric Flint et al.-mass market reprint

September 2023
1638: The Siberian Enterprise by Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett & Gorg Huff-hardcover

(6) FLORIDA MAN. “Man breaks into Space Force base to warn of alien-dragon war” reports Task & Purpose.

Since the Space Force was established in 2019, there has been the lingering question of what, exactly, it does. 

One would certainly hope that the branch would be heavily involved in a theoretical battle between aliens and dragons in space. The occurrence of which, apparently, one helpful citizen was trying to warn the Space Force about last week. 

At Patrick Space Force Base, Corey Johnson, 29, was arrested for trying to enter the installation. The reason? According to what he told arresting officers, he was there on behalf of the President to alert the Space Force that there were “US aliens fighting with Chinese dragons.”…

(7) THE ULTIMATE SPACE RACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The space battle between the U.S. and the USSR is explained by Ambient Press in less than three minutes!

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

2022 [By Cat Eldridge.] Green Lantern: Beware My Power (2022). I forgot that had preordered this animated DC film some months ago until I got an email a few hours ago that it was available for download. I’m a big fan of Green Lantern and very much enjoyed the animated series and abhorred the live film (I made maybe twenty minutes into it before giving up), so I figured that I’d like it based on the trailer that I watched on iTunes.

So I downloaded it to my iPad and started watching it. It’s the forty eighth film in the DC Animated Movie Universe influenced predominantly by The New 52 which rebooted the DC Universe. No, I’ve seen all of them by any means! 

The animation style is a clean, adult style affair and the language is too with an occasional “shit” allowed. It’s a strong PG-13 and you can see the trailer trail here.

John Stewart is a black marine sniper, voiced here by Aldis Hodge (playing Hawkman in Black Adam) who is given a Lantern Ring by a dying member of the Lantern Corps. He’s not at all happy about that as he’s forsworn violence, and doesn’t have a clue what the Lanterns are. Furthermore the mission here isn’t really explained at all, and I’ve avoiding spoilers, so he and Green Arrow plus Hawkgirl figure out things as they go along.

It was directed by Wamester from a stellar screenplay by E. J. Altbacker and John Semper. The former was involved with the Green Lantern: The Animated Series; the latter wrote for a Cyborg series.

I highly recommend it. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 26, 1894 Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class a very long time ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? I see his Time Must Have a Stop novel was on the longlist at CoNZealand. (Died 1963.)
  • Born July 26, 1928 Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just too damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The ShiningBarry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
  • Born July 26, 1945 Helen Mirren, 77. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellars’s last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Born July 26, 1945 M. John Harrison, 77. Winner of the Otherwise Award. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at again. He’s also been a major critic for the past thirty years reviewing fiction and nonfiction for The GuardianThe Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. He’s lightly stocked at the usual suspects though TheViriconium sequence is there at a very reasonable price.  And his short stories are excellent, so may I recommend Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020?
  • Born July 26, 1954 Lawrence Watt-Evans, 68. Ok I’ll admit as I’ve said before that I’ve not read “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” which won him a short fiction Hugo at Conspiracy ’87. It also was nominated for a Nebula and won an Asimov’s Reader’s Poll that year. It’d be his only Hugo. So I’m curious what Hugo voters saw in it. Yes, I’ve read him — his War Surplus series is quite excellent.
  • Born July 26, 1978 Eve Myles, 44. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time. 

(10) BOOK TRAILER. Giant Island by World Fantasy Award Lifetime Achievement winner Jane Yolen and award-winning fantasy illustrator Doug Keith will be released in August.

Two children explore the caves and coves of the tiny and oddly-named Giant Island. Under Grandpa’s watchful eye, Ava, Mason, and dog Cooper finally fathom that the island is much more than it seems: the craggy rocks, windswept trees, and unusual grotto are all parts of a submerged giant. Yolen’s text charms with hints of age-old magic and pays tribute to mystery, curiosity, and friendship. Keith’s wondrous watercolor paintings invite young readers to pore over the pages to discover the clues to this “huge” secret. Giant Island is a delightful, intergenerational and interspecies adventure for all ages.

(11) YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH. Arturo Serrano’s “Microreview: Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson” discusses a “thriller set mostly inside the mind” at Nerds of a Feather.

In the near future, Earth has established diplomatic relations with aliens known as Logi, sort-of-but-not-quite humanoids who cannot speak in sound and use telepathy instead. To facilitate the daily business of politics, some humans are trained in specialized schools to understand Logi telepathy and translate into human speech. Each Logi visitor is thus paired with a human interpreter who accompanies them at their official appearances and handles their routine communication with Earth governments.

The catch? The Logi language does funny things to the human brain. After a few minutes of hosting alien thoughts in your head, you start feeling drunk. Too much talking in one day, and you might pass out.

So when our protagonist Lydia, the interpreter assigned to the Logi cultural attaché, wakes up from a massive blackout to find her boss murdered on his sofa, she has to quickly decide whom to trust and whom to suspect, because this is a future where impressions are everything, and the wording of a message can have rippling effects on public opinion.

(12) GAMING FOR THE HIGHEST STAKES. SPARK stands for Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, a destination for gamers in Pat Daily’s debut novel.

In his mother’s last letter, she wrote, “Find me. Save me.” And Will Kwan had heard those words before. He’d heard them in a video game. Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, or SPARK, is a theme park for gamers: a sprawling virtual reality complex with quests and games that appeal to all ages. But beneath the surface, SPARK harbors many a secret. When sixteen-year-old Will has to escape the foster system, SPARK is his destination. “Find me. Save me.” What had his mother meant? At SPARK, he runs headlong into the force of nature known as Feral Daughter, another runaway who has chosen to make SPARK her home and her life. As their friendship grows, Will begins to walk a path that will unveil not only the secrets of SPARK, but also a whole new perception of his world. So when terrorists threaten his new home and new friend, Will cannot stand idly by. Can Will finally get his closure? Or will SPARK be destroyed, along with the new life he has built?

Pat Daily is an engineer and former Air Force test pilot who worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. When not writing or trying to bring new airplane designs to life, Pat can be found gaming online. He is a fan of role-playing games – particularly open worlds with engaging storylines where actions have consequences.

Available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(13) DIVIDE WITHOUT CONQUERING. The New York Times explains why “Splitting T. Rex Into 3 Species Becomes a Dinosaur Royal Rumble”.

The world’s most iconic dinosaur is undergoing an identity crisis.

In February, a team of scientists posited that Tyrannosaurus rex was actually three distinct species. Instead of there being only one sovereign “tyrant lizard king,” their paper made the case for a royal family of supersized predators. Joining the king in the genus Tyrannosaurus would be the bulkier and older emperor, T. imperator, and the slimmer queen, T. regina.

The proposed T. rex reclassification struck the paleontology community like an asteroid, igniting passionate debates. On Monday, another team of paleontologists published the first peer-reviewed counterattack.

“The evidence was not convincing and had to be responded to because T. rex research goes well beyond science and into the public sphere,” said Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College in Wisconsin and an author of the new rebuttal. “It would have been unreasonable to leave the public thinking that the multiple species hypothesis was fact.”

The earlier team of researchers have anticipated the rebuttal, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Biology. Gregory Paul, one of the authors of the original study, is working on another paper and says many of the rebuttal’s claims are outlandish…..

(14) THE NOIVE. “Polish Institute Classifies Cats as Alien Invasive Species” says Slashdot.

A respected Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an “invasive alien species,” citing the damage they cause to birds and other wildlife…

(15) ONCE AGAIN, WHERE DOES IT RAIN? [Item by Danny Sichel.] Last month, psycholinguist Anne Cutler died, and renewed attention was given to her 1994 paper The perception of rhythm in language, which at two and a half pages long is the greatest scientific paper ever written.

Read it, and see how long it takes you to understand why it’s so great: “The perception of rhythm in language”.

(16) STONE AGE INTERNET. Open Culture invites you to “Watch the First Movie Ever Streamed on the Net: Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991)”.

When the World Wide Web made its public debut in the early nineteen-nineties, it fascinated many and struck some as revolutionary, but the idea of watching a film online would still have sounded like sheer fantasy. Yet on May 23rd, 1993, reported the New York Times‘ John Markoff, “a small audience scattered among a few dozen computer laboratories gathered” to “watch the first movie to be transmitted on the Internet — the global computer network that connects millions of scientists and academic researchers and hitherto has been a medium for swapping research notes and an occasional still image.”

That explanation speaks volumes about how life online was perceived by the average New York Times reader three decades ago. But it was hardly the average New York Times reader who tuned into the internet’s very first film screening, whose feature presentation was Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees. Completed in 1991 by artist David Blair, this hybrid fiction and essay-film offered to its viewers what Times critic Stephen Holden called “a multi-generational family saga as it might be imagined by a cyberpunk novelist…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Ms. Marvel,” the Screen Junkies say that Ms. Marvel is not only the first Pakistani superhero in the MCU, but also the first MCU superhero from New Jersey.  But while she faces “yet another poorly developed Marvel villain and two hunky guys competing for her attention, she is also the first mutant in the MCU since they re-acquired the X-Men,  “Come for the origin of the X-Men–stay for the origin of Pakistan!”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/1/22 Who Will Buy This Wonderful Pixel?

(1) NETFLIX GOES UPSIDE DOWN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apparently, fans of Stranger Things are night owls. When the final two episodes of ST Season 4 were released—at about 03:00 Eastern today—the Netflix streaming site was hammered hard enough to experience scattered but significant outages. “Netflix Down: Streaming Service Outage After Stranger Things 4 Release” reports Variety.

Netflix’s streaming service was unavailable for a brief period early Friday after the highly anticipated release of the final two episodes of “Stranger Things 4.”

According to global uptime-monitoring site Downdetector.com, user reports of problems with Netflix spiked around 3 a.m. ET — when “Stranger Things 4” Volume 2 went live. Complaints about errors with Netflix peaked at nearly 13,000 at the top of the hour, before the situation seemed to be resolved within a half hour.

“Stranger Things 4” already has set the record as the No. 1 English-language series on the service in its first four weeks of release, as reported by Netflix based on total hours watched. The two episodes in Season 4 Volume 2 clock in at nearly four hours of runtime total: Episode 8 is 85 minutes and Episode 9 is 150 minutes.

(2) BOB MADLE DOING FINE AT 102. [Item by Curt Phillips.] I just got off the phone with Bob Madle and thought I’d give you an update. He sounds great, and his daughter Jane told me that Bob’s health is excellent. Neither of them ever caught Covid, and Bob spends a lot of time enjoying beer and baseball. He is, as you might guess, an Oakland A’s fan. He’s been following that team since the 1930’s when they were the Philadelphia Athletics. We spent 45 min or so discussing sf magazines, and Bob’s memory is as solid as a rock. He recalled pulp trivia from 90 years ago as if it happened yesterday. So, 102 years old and going strong. A fannish immortal in every way!

(3) STEPHENSON PROFILE.  In the Washington Post, Theo Zenou interviews Neal Stephenson on the 30th anniversary of Snow Crash.  The interview focuses on Stephenson’s role in tech projects, including founding (with Bitcoin Foundation co-chair Peter Vessenes), Lamina1, “a start-up that will use blockchain technology to build an ‘open metaverse.’” Zenou explains that Stephenson has been involved part-time with tech his entire life, and became employee #1 of Blue Origin after he and Jeff Bezos went to a screening of October Sky in 1999. “Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’ predicted metaverse and hyperinflation”.

…Stephenson’s vision for Lamina1 (meaning “layer one” in Latin) is to empower the creators of these experiences. He explained, “We want to create a structure of smart contracts and other utilities that will make it easier for people who want to build Metaverse applications to do that in the first place, and then to get compensated if it turns out that people like and want to pay for the experiences they’re creating.”…

(4) FIGURING OUT THE ENDING. If you didn’t see Cora Buhlert’s story when we linked to the tweets in May, you can now read “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘The Rescue’” as a post on her blog.

“You had one job, Corporal, one job. Protect Prince Adam, with your life, if necessary. And you failed. I swear, if something happens to Adam, you will be scrubbing toilets for the rest of your life.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Don’t be so hard on the Corporal, Teela. It wasn’t his fault.”

“I know. I should have gone with Adam. Oh Father, what if something happens to him?”

“We’ll find Adam and save him. I promise.”

Meanwhile, in the dungeons of Snake Mountain…

(5) HAVE AN IDEA FOR A SPACE FORCE STORY? C. Stuart Hardwick is editing an anthology for Baen, Real Stories of the US Space Force, and has put out a Call For Submissions. See full details at the link.

The US Space Force has a PR problem. Several, in fact. It was not Donald Trump’s idea. It did not steal its iconography from Star Trek. It is not just a lunatic scheme to expand the military-industrial complex by sending battleships into space. Yet judging from social media, many think all these things and more.

Space has become critical not only to the military but to the economy and all aspects of daily life, and as we stand at the dawn of a new age of space commerce, that’s only going to intensify, and several nations have already developed capabilities  to deny, degrade, and disrupt access to and utilization of space–based assets, whether to degrade US Military capability or as a direct economic attack.

Like it or not, the militarization of space started long ago, threats are already up there, and wherever people and their interests go next, so too will go conflict, intrigue, heroes and villains, everything that comprises good stories….

WHAT WE WANT

Stories that grab us from the start and stay with us for days. Scientifically plausible drama about people facing interesting challenges related to the US Space Force or more generally, the policing and defense of near-Earth space and related issues, now or in the foreseeable future (the next century or so).

Stories don’t have to take place in space, involve the actual US Space Force, or be hard sci-fi, but they should help illustrate in some way how space technology shapes modern civilization in critical, often overlooked ways, how it is now or soon may come under threat, and how it might be defended now and into the future. See this page for ideas and background.

(6) A SEVENTIES LOOK AT FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has added “Minicon 10 (1975)-History of the MFS-Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, Clifford Simak, Bob Tucker” to its YouTube channel.

Minicon 10 (1975) – History of the MFS – Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, Clifford Simak, Bob Tucker & more: 

Minicon 10 was held April 18-20, 1975 in Minneapolis. This panel discussion, orchestrated by Gordy Dickson, majors in history and anecdotes of the 1940s Minneapolis Fantasy Society (MFS).  Particpants: Kenny Gray, Poul Anderson, Oliver Saari, Gordon Dickson, Grace Riger, Bob Tucker, and Clifford Simak. A high percentage of the MFS members went on to sell professionally to the magazines.

The panel begins with the flowering of MFS after Clifford Simak moved to town, to anecdotes about late night hero-saving plot sessions to the true identity of Squanchfoot (hint: Simak’s City was dedicated to him). 

You’ll hear about the softball games in which many Saaris participated, the origin of Twonk’s disease, how Poul became an MFS member and more. 

There’s silly story writing, an imitation Red Boggs, and a mass induction into the MFS.  For those that live(d) in Minneapolis, and for those that didn’t, this recording provides an affectionate look at the early MFS…Many thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording. 

(7) WHERE DID THE TIME GO. Lincoln Michel tackles the question “Why Does It Take So Long to Publish a Book?” in his Counter Craft newsletter.

… For this post, I’m just talking about the last part: how long it takes to publish a book once you sell it to a traditional publisher. Often, unpublished and self-published authors are baffled at turn around time for books. This discourse was most recently kicked off by a tweet asking authors how they would feel if a publisher offered to publish their book yet it would take 2 years and they’d have to cut 10,000 words. The replies were filled with a lot of unpublished authors saying “that’s way too long!” and/or “that’s way too many words to cut!” and then a lot of published authors saying “uh, this is completely standard in publishing?”

…To be very clear, getting published by a good publisher in no way guarantees you’ll get much attention or sell many copies. Yet if you want any chance of getting those things, your publisher needs a lot of time to pitch your book to distributors and bookstores and to do all of the publicity and marketing.

This—the general publicity, marketing, and distribution—is where much of the publishing time disappears. And it’s the kind of stuff you might not realize if you aren’t a traditionally published author. Things like major bookstore orders (including Amazon) are set long before a book is published. Anticipated book lists and “buzz” begins well in advance, sometimes before books are even finished being written. Review copies get sent to reviewers months before books are published, so that reviews can appear when the book does. And so on and so forth.

In addition to the distribution, marketing, and publicity there are other important steps if you want a professional book, especially editing (big scale stuff), copyediting (line level stuff), proofreading (typos). There are many other steps here too such as getting blurbs and getting cover art but thankfully many of these can be done concurrently with the other steps timewise….

(8) SWIFT DEPARTURE. Deadline reports “‘Tom Swift’ Canceled By CW After One Season”.

Tom Swift has swiftly gotten the boot at CW.

The low-rated, Nancy Drew spinoff only launched on May 31 and has aired six episodes to date. The series, which features a predominantly Black cast, started off as an unconventional backdoor pilot, with only Tian Richards (as Tom) getting an introduction on Nancy Drew last season. The rest of the characters were cast after the project was picked up to series in August.

We hear CBS Studios, which is behind Tom Swift, is trying to extend the options on the cast, which expire today, and plans to shop the series elsewhere.

The CW brass have said that they like the show creatively. The cancellation is said to be performance-based as Tom Swift is among the CW’s least watched series on linear, with 535K viewers in Live+7, as well as on streaming….

(9) THERE IS CRYING IN TV. A show you may not have even known was in the works has also stumbled before making it out of the cornfield:  “‘Field of Dreams’ TV Series Dropped at Peacock”.

A series adaptation of Field of Dreams has struck out at PeacockThe Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Mike Schur-created drama based on the 1989 Kevin Costner-starring baseball-focused film was picked up straight to series in August 2021 but will not stream on the platform, according to a source with knowledge.

Universal Television, where Schur’s Fremulon shingle holds an overall deal, is in the process of talking to interested buyers.

Schur is the creator of NBC’s The Good Place, along with serving as the co-creator of Parks and RecreationBrooklyn Nine-Nine and Rutherford Falls. Among other credits, he is an executive producer on HBO Max’s Emmy-winning Hacks and Freevee’s upcoming Primo….

 (10) 124C41+. Holden Karnosky’s article “The Track Record of Futurists Seems … Fine” at Cold Takes tries to find another way of testing whether it would be a waste of time to put artificial intelligence to work as futurists. One idea was to look at the futures posited by some famous sf writers.

…The idea is something like: “Even if we can’t identify a particular weakness in arguments about key future events, perhaps we should be skeptical of our own ability to say anything meaningful at all about the long-run future. Hence, perhaps we should forget about theories of the future and focus on reducing suffering today, generally increasing humanity’s capabilities, etc.”

But are people generally bad at predicting future events? Including thoughtful people who are trying reasonably hard to be right? If we look back at prominent futurists’ predictions, what’s the actual track record? How bad is the situation?

…Recently, I worked with Gavin Leech and Misha Yagudin at Arb Research to take another crack at this. I tried to keep things simpler than with past attempts – to look at a few past futurists who (a) had predicted things “kind of like” advances in AI (rather than e.g. predicting trends in world population); (b) probably were reasonably thoughtful about it; but (c) are very clearly not “just selected on those who are famous because they got things right.” So, I asked Arb to look at predictions made by the “Big Three” science fiction writers of the mid-20th century: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein.

These are people who thought a lot about science and the future, and made lots of predictions about future technologies – but they’re famous for how entertaining their fiction was at the time, not how good their nonfiction predictions look in hindsight. I selected them by vaguely remembering that “the Big Three of science fiction” is a thing people say sometimes, googling it, and going with who came up – no hunting around for lots of sci-fi authors and picking the best or worst.2

Alan Baumler kept score while reading the article:

  • One (Asimov) who looks quite impressive – plenty of misses, but a 50% hit rate on such nonobvious predictions seems pretty great.
  • One (Heinlein) who looks pretty unserious and inaccurate.
  • One (Clarke) who’s a bit hard to judge but seems pretty solid overall (around half of his predictions look to be right, and they tend to be pretty nonobvious).

(11) MEMORY LANE

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, I know I wrote up Bewitched earlier this year. Or at least I think II did. I do lose track after a while. At any rate, tonight we’ve come to eulogize its ending fifty years ago on this evening. The show aired from September 17, 1964 to July 1, 1972 on ABC for two hundred and fifty-four episodes — seventy-four in black-and-white for the first two years, 1964 to 1966) and one hundred eighty in color for the final three years, 1966 to 1972.

I cannot say that I’ve watched all of the series, but I’ve watched a fair amount of it and it will unashamedly admit that I really do like it. It’s not a complicated series, nor a particularly deep series, but it’s both fun and charming, and it is inoffensive. 

So why did Bewitched come to an end? Was it the ratings? That certainly was part of that problem as by by the end of the next-to-last season the ratings for it had noticeably dropped and the show did not even rank in the list of the top thirty programs. But that wasn’t the actual reason it got cancelled.

That was down to Elizabeth Montgomery who had grown tired of the series and wanted to move on to new roles. Well, they didn’t happen. The only thing she was on Password, a game show where she was a celebrity contestant for nearly ninety episodes. 

She died at aged sixty-two of an untimely diagnosed cancer. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 1, 1934 — Jean Marsh, 88. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Whovian affairs. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly StrangerDark PlacesReturn to OzWillow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling
  • Born July 1, 1935 — David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been  a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he then played the role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few years later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 1, 1942 — Genevieve Bujold, 80. We would have had a rather different look on Voyager if things had played out as the producers wished, for Bujold was their first choice to play Janeway. She quit after a day and a half of shooting, with the public reason being she was unaccustomed to the hectic pace of television filming. What the real reason was we will never know.
  • Born July 1, 1952 — Dan Aykroyd, 70. Though best known as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the original Ghostbusters films (which he wrote with Harold Raimis though he himself came up with the Ghostbusters concept), Ackroyd actually showed up in his first genre role a year earlier in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Passenger / Ambulance Driver. He’s reprised his role in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. And he was the narrator of the Hotel Paranormal series that just ended.
  • Born July 1, 1955 — Robby the Robot, aged, well, 67. Yes, this is this official birthday of the robot in Forbidden Planet, which debuted a year later. Over the years he would also be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune MenThe Twilight ZoneLost In SpaceThe Addams Family, Wonder Woman and Gremlins.  He was in a 2006 commercial for AT&T. Well very, very briefly. 
  • Born July 1, 1964 — Charles Coleman Finlay, 58. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best known work. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction where many of his stories have since been published.  Editor for six years of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction until February of last year. At the World Fantasy Awards in 2021 he received the Special Award – Professional for editing The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
  • Born July 1, 1981 — Genevieve Valentine, 41. Author of the superb Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur shows what would happen if Hollywood added “improvements” to Noah’s Ark. (Which, of course, they’ve already done, but play along with the joke.)

(14) AMAZON PRIME TEASER TRAILER FOR PAPER GIRLS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The comic book Paper Girls — which involves time travel among other tropes, so it’s inarguably science fiction — which I may have stumbled on either browsing my library’s “new graphic novels” or during the year-ish I subscribed to ComiXology’s monthly streaming digital comics service, or a mix, is about to be an Amazon Prime series, per this trailer I just saw:

It looks promising, to say the least.

Want to read ’em first? If your public library (or interlibrary loan) doesn’t have them, you can e-borrow/read issues 1-30 free through HooplaDigital.com — either as Volumes 1-6, or in 3 borrows (remember, Hoopla allows a set # borrows/month) by going for the Deluxe Edition Books (10 issues each), as this search shows.

(I’ve read ’em; recommended!)

(15) USHERING IN THE ATOMIC AGE. Now on the block at Heritage Auctions is Capt. Robert Lewis’ ‘Enola Gay’ logbook documenting the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Bidding was up to $400,000 when last checked.

Captain Robert A. Lewis, the co-pilot of the B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay, wrote those immortal words shortly after 8:16 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, moments after he and his crewmates dropped the atomic bomb on the citizens of Hiroshima. The course of history changed at that precise moment: A beautiful day exploded into a blinding bright light, a nuclear fireball leveled a city, at least 100,000 died, and a world war neared its end.

And there, high above it all yet so much a part of the devastation below, was Robert Lewis to chronicle every spectacular and awful moment. He was among the dozen Enola Gay crewmen who delivered the 15-kiloton bomb codenamed “Little Boy” to Japan and the only person aboard who kept a detailed account of the top-secret mission that changed the world.

Lewis’ 11-page chronicle of those few minutes is among the most important documents of the 20th century, a harrowing and oft-heartbreaking account of those very moments between the pre-atomic and post-atomic world – before Hiroshima was struck by the noiseless flash, consumed by fire and swallowed by a mushroom cloud. The public has not seen it since it sold in 2002 during a famous auction of publisher Malcolm Forbes’ American historical documents.

(16) COULD WE DECODE ALIEN PHYSICS? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Matt O’Dowd at PBS Space Time asks “Could We Decode Alien Physics?”

How hard can it really be to decode alien physics and engineering? It’s gotta map to our own physics – I mean, we live in the same universe. We start by noticing that the alien technology seems to use good ol’ fashioned electronics, even if it is insanely complex. We know this because the particle carried by the alien circuitry looks like the electron. We decide this through a process of elimination.

(17) FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE. JustWatch tracked themoviedb.org data to measure “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in June.”

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceObi-Wan Kenobi
2Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomFor All Mankind
3Jurassic WorldSeverance
4Spider-Man: No Way HomeTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
5Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessWestworld
6MorbiusStar Trek: Strange New Worlds
7Jurassic ParkDoctor Who
8Ghostbusters: AfterlifeNight Sky
9Crimes of the FutureThe Man Who Fell to Earth
10MoonfallThe Twilight Zone

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(18) THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTED. Gizmodo takes stock of its accomplishments as “LightSail 2 Mission Poised to Burn Up in Earth’s Atmosphere”.

For the past three years, a tiny loaf-of-bread-sized spacecraft with gigantic wings has been sailing on sunbeams in low Earth orbit. LightSail 2 has far exceeded its life expectancy and proven that solar sails can indeed be used to fly spacecraft. But its journey around our planet is sadly coming to an end, as Earth’s atmosphere drags the spacecraft downward where it will eventually burn up in atmospheric flames.

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 launched in June 2019 and unfurled its 344-square-foot (32-square-meter) solar sail a month later. Just two weeks after spreading its wings, LightSail 2 gained 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of altitude, making this experiment a success….

(19) NIMOY THEATER UPDATE. A new era for the Center for the Art of Performance UCLA is underway as they continue to develop the UCLA Nimoy Theater. “The Nimoy sets new horizon for the arts community”. You can see an overview of the project here.

Located near the UCLA campus on Westwood Boulevard, The Nimoy is a reimagining of the historic Crest Theater as a flexible, state-of-the-art performance space.

Opening in late March 2023, the intimately-scaled venue is named for artist, actor, director and philanthropist Leonard Nimoy. Shawmut Construction has been working steadily to renovate the venue, which will be equipped with new and green technologies to support the creation and presentation of innovative work. 

The Nimoy will be a home for artists representing a broad diversity of voices, viewpoints, ideas and creative expressions in music, dance, theater, literary arts, digital media arts and collaborative disciplines. The inaugural season will feature a large slate of amazing shows, including new work by the legendary Kronos Quartet, “live documentarian” filmmaker Sam Green, and a collaboration between two essential musical voices of Los Angeles, Quetzal and Perla Batalla. 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King asks, “What if Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson got email from spammers claiming to be “sexy women from Moldova?” “Hot Detectives in Your Area”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Curt Phillips, Daniel Dern, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie. Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

2022 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award Finalists

The top ten finalists for the 2022 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award for best original fantasy short story were announced July 1. They are:

  • “All the Colors of Everything” by Alex Fox
  • “The Carryman” by Jon R. Osborne
  • “Colossi of Zakatla” by Gregory D. Mele
  • “Exchanged” by Brittany Rainsdon
  • “Generous Handful of Fresh Unja Berries” by Jessica Federle
  • “My Mother, Dragonslayer” by Edward Rathke
  • “On Cultivating A Chosen One” by Christopher Baxter
  • “Red Lanterns” by Marshall J. Moore
  • “Shadow and Full Dark” by Chris Cornetto
  • “To Sleep, Perchance to Wake” by Jonathan Ficke

Started in 2014, this is the ninth annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award contest. The award honors stories that best exemplify the spirit of adventure, imagination, and great storytelling in a work of short fiction containing an element of the fantastic, whether epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, contemporary fantasy, or historical fantasy. The stories are judged anonymously.

The Grand Prize and Second and Third Place Winners will come from among these ten finalists.

Those winners will be announced during the Baen Travelling Roadshow at this year’s Dragon Con. Dragon Con will take place from September 1-5 in Atlanta, GA. The author of the Grand Prize story receives an award trophy, a prize box filled with Baen merchandise, and paid professional rates for first publication rights. The winning story also will be featured on Baen.com main webpage.

Midcoh Wins 2022 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Contest

Elaine Midcoh of Pembroke Pines, Florida has won the grand prize in the 2022 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award competition with her short story “Man on the Moon.” The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Contest has been held annually since 2007 and is focused on stories of space exploration and discovery, with an optimistic spin on those activities for the human race.

FIRST PLACE

  • “Man on the Moon” by Elaine Midcoh

SECOND PLACE

  • Pierre-Alexandre Sicart [title withheld by request*]

THIRD PLACE

  • “The Rocketship of Her Dreams” by Larry Lang

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • “Blowout” by Wole Talabi
  • “The Icy Wasteland at Her Feet” by Deborah L. Davitt

(* Sicart’s title was withheld by request of the author because he’s already submitted the story to another blind contest.)

Midcoh will be honored at the 2022 International Space Development Conference, in Arlington, VA, May 27-29, 2022. In addition to the award, her winning story will be published at Baen.com, paid professional rates, and the author will receive membership in the National Space Society.

“Winning the contest is an honor and opportunity for the winner, not only to be published, but to attend the ISDC, and meet scientists and space advocates from around the world,” said William Ledbetter, contest administrator. “In addition, 2020 and 2021 award winners M.T. Reiten and G. Scott Huggins have been invited to attend as well, given the Covid-19 pandemic meant they could not be honored in person previously.”

This was the first time in the 15-year history of the contest where not only were there more than ten finalists, but two honorable mentions among the winners. Pierre-Alexandre Sicart of Taiwan placed second, while third went to Pennsylvanian Larry Lang for “The Rocketship of Her Dreams.” The two honorable mentions were “Blowout” by Wole Talabi of Malaysia, and “The Icy Wasteland at Her Feet” by Deborah L. Davitt of Texas.

Judges for the award were author and space scientist Les Johnson, and the editorial staff of Baen Books, and entries were judged anonymously.

According to Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf, all of this year’s finalists turned in some incredible stories.

“We were really impressed by the breadth and depth of the submissions this year, it was an honor to read them all,” Weisskopf said. “We began this contest to honor new authors and celebrate space exploration, and all this year’s finalists exemplify the very best of what we want from the contest, and from science fiction.”

[Based on a press release.]

What the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award looks like.

2022 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award Finalists Announced

Baen Books, in partnership with the National Space Society, has announced the 2022 finalists for the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award.

First launched in 2007, for the past 15 years the Jim Baen Memorial Award has been awarded to realistic hard science fiction about what can be achieved in space exploration in the next few decades, ranging from the colonization of Mars to asteroid mining, with a focus on hard science and optimism.

“The National Space Society and Baen Books applaud the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science and have teamed up to sponsor this short fiction contest in memory of Jim Baen, the founder of Baen Books,” said William Ledbetter, contest administrator. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the winner to meet scientists and space advocates from around the world.”

The finalists for the 2022 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award are:

  • Mike Adamson (Australia)
  • Gustavo Bondoni (Argentina)
  • Deborah L. Davitt (Texas, USA)
  • Amanda Dier (Florida, USA)
  • Harry Lang (Pennsylvania, USA)
  • Elaine Midcoh (Florida, USA)
  • Avery Parks (Texas, USA)
  • J. Russell (Alabama, USA)
  • Pierre-Alexandre Sicart (Taiwan)
  • Wole Talabi (Malaysia)
  • Brad Zeiger (Oregon, USA)

Judges for the award were author and space scientist Les Johnson, and the editorial staff of Baen Books, and entries were judged anonymously. The contest occurs annually and looks for stories that demonstrate the positive aspects of space exploration and discovery.

This year’s winner will be honored at the 2022 International Space Development Conference, in Arlington, VA, May 27-29, 2022. In addition to the award, the winning story will be published at Baen.com, paid professional rates, and the author will receive membership in the National Space Society.

 [Based on a press release.]

Grantville Gazette Publishes 100th Issue

The Grantville Gazette has reached its milestone hundredth issue. The alternate history series created by a vast community of writers began over 20 years ago. Eric Flint can tell you about the beginnings of the 1632 story, and current Grantville Gazette editor Walt Boyes brings us up to date in “The Story So Far”, which he shares with File 770 in the following excerpt.


THE STORY SO FAR . . . by Walt Boyes: Whew! We made it. We made it to Issue 100 of the Grantville Gazette. This is an incredible feat by a large group of stakeholders. Thank you, everyone.

I don’t think Eric Flint had any idea what he’d created when he sent Jim Baen the manuscript for 1632. In the intervening two-plus decades, the book he intended to be a one-shot novel has grown like the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters to encompass books from two publishing houses, a magazine (this one, that you are holding in your metaphorical hands) and allowed over 165 new authors to see their first published story in print. The Ring of Fire Universe, or the 1632 Universe, has more than twelve million words published. The Grantville Gazette is bi-monthly, publishing six times a year. To do this requires a dedicated group of editors and proofreaders, authors, and artists. Later in this issue, you can read interviews with Eric Flint and Paula Goodlett about the early days of the Grantville Gazette.

From the Grantville Gazette’s unique beginning, we knew it would be a different magazine. Growing as it did out of the writing group from Jim Baen’s Universe, it was always dedicated to finding and grooming new writers–writers who had oftentimes never published anything before, or who had published only non-fiction for their entire careers. We set up the conferences in Baen’s Bar that we still use today as a permanent floating crit group where you could post your story, get comments and criticism, rewrite and repost your story until the editor bought it. There wasn’t another crit group like it anywhere–the prize was, “We bought your story.”

I am the third editor of the magazine, and with my right-hand man, Bjorn Hasseler, we continue to build the legacy of this wonderful magazine and its crit groups on Baen’s Bar. We are always looking for new authors, and we keep finding them. Bethanne Kim, Sarah Hayes, Joy Ward, and others have been looking at the 1632 Universe from a woman’s perspective, so it isn’t all about hillbillies in Germany. Joy and others have written about LGBTQ issues in the seventeenth century. Robert Waters, Griffin Barber, and Iver Cooper have written about the collisions between 20th-century mindsets and South America, India, Japan, and the Native Americans on the West Coast of the United States. The canvas of the 1632 series is utterly vast–an entire world! Garrett Vance, who is our Graphic Designer, has also written about saving the Dodo, the thrust toward a balanced ecology, the Japanese diaspora, and the Time Spike universe. These are just the tip of the iceberg of authors and visions and topics and themes. These are only a few of the authors who have collaborated with Eric Flint’s world as he built it. As an homage to Jim Baen’s Universe magazine, we have kept a portion of the Gazette we call the Universe Annex, to publish really good science fiction from great authors, just not in the 1632 Universe.

The theme of this issue is the Committees of Correspondence set up by the Americans in the first novel, 1632. Based on the committees formed in the American Revolution, the Committees of Correspondence (CoCs) have been dedicated to improving the lives of the downtrodden in the Early Modern Era, They teach and organize on every subject from sanitation and hygiene to spreading democracy and tumbling over-reaching Adel. Above all, the CoCs are literal death to anti-Semitism and witch-burning. 

We have selected twelve stories about the CoCs, including one by Eric Flint himself. It is called “1632: The Wrecking Crew” and is about Harry Lefferts and the CoC getting started. Another look at the beginnings of the CoC is from Bethanne Kim called, “Freedom Arches.” Terry Howard, one of the Gazette’s most prolific authors, gives us two stories in this issue, “Like the Mad Men of Munster,” and “Funding the CoC.” Virginia DeMarce talks about killing witch-burners in “If You Want to Write a Play with Witches.” Marc Tyrell takes a different look at the CoC killing witch-burners in “Advocatus Angeli.”  In “Be Happy Now, My Enemies,” A.P. Davidson asks what happens when the Adel start fighting back. Can the CoC’s new political consciousness win against centuries of noble skulduggery? 

Joy Ward returns with “It’s Only Rock and Roll, But…” showing another side of the Committees of Correspondence as a place where teenage misfits can rock out on rhythm and blues without getting in trouble, and where a young gay boy can make friends in the name of music. In “Aftermath,” Bjorn Hasseler shows that the CoC can fight and beat Swedish regulars during the rebellion of Axel Oxenstierna, and show graciousness and nobility when the fighting is over. In Michael Lockwood’s “What Price an Adel?” the story of one man’s political journey in the Magdeburg CoC is told.Edith Wild’s “Leftovers” lets us see what happens after a CoC action when a son dives in front of his father’s assassin.  In “Slamfire!” by Bjorn Hasseler and Walt Boyes, a young Welsh gunsmith’s new political consciousness leads him to create a special design of shotgun cheap enough to equip all the Committees of Correspondence in Europe and North America. In the only piece of non-fiction in this issue, we present Kristine Katherine Rusch on 100 issues of the Grantville Gazette.

 In the two-plus decades since Eric wrote 1632, nearly 200 people have contributed to the success of the Universe directly, and many more indirectly by reviewing and buying the books and magazines. Time passes in the original timeline, and some of those people have passed away. We want to acknowledge them and their wonderful contributions to the story:

  • Leonard Hollar
  • Eva Musch
  • Cheryl Detweiler
  • John Zeek
  • Karen Bergstralh
  • Pam Poggiani
  • John Johnson
  • Nick Lorrance
  • Kevin Evans
  • Karen Evans
  • Rick Boatright

…Finally, I want to point out that the 100th issue of the Grantville Gazette is the first that will be issued in POD as a trade paperback on Amazon. Going forward, all issues will be done this way, and we are going to go back toward the beginning issues as we can scrape up the time to do it. Eventually, the entire backlist of the magazine will be available in hard copy as well as in multiple format ebook editions.

So once again, I ask you to strap on your seat belt, keep your arms and legs inside the car, and get ready to ride the 1632 rollercoaster! Welcome aboard!

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller Liaden Universe® News

What’s happening in the Liaden Universe®? Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a new update for fans. They have a lot of books and stories on the way.

FAIR TRADE. The 24th novel set in the Liaden Universe® is Fair Trade, created and written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. It also is the third book in the so-called “Jethri arc.” Previous volumes were: Balance of Trade and Trade Secret.

The hardcover comes out from Baen on May 3, 2022. Signed hardcovers can be preordered from Uncle Hugo ONLY.  Click here. There are eARC’s already available from Baen Books — here’s the link.

LIADEN UNIVERSE® CONSTELLATION, VOLUME 5. The new collection of Liaden Universe® stories that have already appeared elsewhere was released as a trade paperback (and a Kindle edition) on February 1.

Table of Contents: Authors’ Foreword, “Fortune’s Favors,” “Opportunity to Seize,” “Shout of Honor,” “Command Decision,” “Dark Secrets,” “A Visit to the Galaxy Ballroom,” “The Gate that Locks the Tree,” “Preferred Seating,” “Ambient Conditions,” and “Dead Men Dream.”

IN TIMES TO COME. Lee and Miller are under contract to Baen Books for more three Liaden Universe® novels after Fair Trade. Those novels are:

1 TRADE LANES, the sequel to Fair Trade — Steve Miller, Lead Writer

2 SALVAGE RIGHT — Sharon Lee, Lead Writer

3 A Liaden Novel to be Named Later — Sharon Lee, Lead Writer – probably. The authors say, “At the moment, this is looking like a return to the Redlands and checking in with Padi, Tekelia, Aunt Astra, Eet, and the gang. This could change, as all things may change, and only reflect our thoughts at the moment.”

BOSKONE 59 SCHEDULE. Steve Miller will be a virtual panelist at Boskone 59, February 18-20. Boskone is a Hybrid Convention this year. All of Miller’s panels are Virtual. His schedule is below. All times are Eastern Standard.

VIRTUAL: Unhappy Endings
18 Feb 2022, Friday 8pm – 8:50pm, Marina IV (Westin)
Jane Yolen, Steve Miller, Julie Czerneda, Paul Di Filippo (M), Ada Palmer

Tragic plays from Shakespeare, Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides are still with us … hundreds, even thousands of years later. Not all stories let the protagonist triumph — sometimes they lose; sometimes they even die losing. Some science fiction and fantasy writers’ unhappily ending stories are quite popular. Why do they succeed? Why do other such stories fail — even fail so hard their authors never try to write unhappily ever after?

VIRTUAL: My Favorite Character
18 Feb 2022, Friday 9pm – 9:50pm, Marina IV (Westin)
Olav Rokne, Jen Gunnels, Steve Miller, David Marshall, James Moore (M)

Google once estimated that humanity had published 129,864,880 books. If about half were SF/F/H trilogies — never mind, let’s ask it this way: from all the speculative fiction stories ever published, who’s your favorite character, and why? Heroine, villain, sidekick, romantic interest, alien bystander? Would you like to meet, have dinner with, or be that person? What does your choice say about your own character?

VIRTUAL: Solo Reading
19 Feb 2022, Saturday 12:30 – 12:55, Marina IV (Westin)
Steve Miller

BAEN PODCAST.  Lee and Miller have a Zoom event coming up later this month — chatting with Griffin Barber about Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 5. See or listen to this podcast here.

2022 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award Contest

Entries for the ninth annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award contest will be accepted beginning February 1, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern. Full guidelines at the link.

What We Want to See

Adventure fantasy with heroes you want to root for. Warriors either modern or medieval, who solve problems with their wits or with their weapons—and we have nothing against dragons, elves, dwarves, castles under siege, urban fantasy, damsels in distress, or damsels who inflict distress.

What We Don’t Want to See

Political drama with no action, angst-ridden teens pining over vampire lovers, religious allegory, novel segments, your gaming adventure transcript, anything set in any universe not your own, “it was all a dream” endings, or screenplays.

The contest closes for submissions April 30, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. The winners will be officially announced during the Baen Traveling Roadshow at Dragon Con, which is scheduled for September 1-5, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Each entry is limited to an original short story in the English language of no more than 8,000 words, and only one entry per author. Complete guidelines here. Entries will be judged by Baen editors

  • The GRAND PRIZE winner will be published as the featured story on the Baen Books main website and paid at industry-standard rates for professional story submittals. The author will also receive an engraved award and a prize package containing $500 of free Baen Books.
  • SECOND place winner will receive a prize package containing $500 of free Baen Books.
  • THIRD place winner will receive a prize package containing $300 of free Baen Books.

Finalists will be announced no later than July 1, 2022

Winners will be notified no later than July 21, 2022.

Since its beginning the contest has received thousands of entries of fantasy stories from all over the globe.

2022 Baen Short Story Contest Deadline Is 2/1

Entries in the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award writing contest are being accepted through February 1, 2022. The submission window opened October 1. See rules and specifications at the site.

Judging will be done by Baen Books editors Hank Davis, Jim Minz, Tony Daniel, David Afsharirad, and Baen author David Drake.

Ten finalists will be announced no later than March 8, 2022.

  • The GRAND PRIZE winner will be published as the featured story on the Baen Books main website and paid at the normal paying rates for professional story submittals, currently .08/word. The author will also receive an engraved award, free entry into the 2022 International Space Development Conference, a year’s membership in the National Space Society.
  • SECOND and THIRD place winners will receive free entry into the 2022 International Space Development Conference, a year’s membership in the National Space Society.

The winners will be announced and notified no later than March 22, 2022. The winners will be honored at the 2022 International Space Development Conference in Arlington, VA, May 27-May 29, 2022.