(1) CANADA READS SFF. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is a finalist in the 2023 CBC Canada Reads competition. She told her newsletter readers today:
Canada Reads is a literary battle, with panelists championing five books. Each day, they vote to eliminate one book, until a single title is chosen as the book the whole country should read this year.
The champion for my novel is TikTok creator and nursing student Tasnim Geedi, known as groovytas. The debates will take place March 27-30, 2023. They will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem and on CBC Books.
(2) SF RELATED CONTENT ON JEOPARDY! 2023-01-24. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The current Jeopardy! champion is four-time LearnedLeague champion Troy Meyer. On Tuesday’s episode he faced some SF-related clues.
In the first round, one of the categories was “Finding Nimoy”. At the $1000 level:
This remake about a pod people takeover moved the action from a small town to San Francisco, with Leonard as a famous psychologist.
Troy Meyer correctly responded, “What is Invasion of the Body Snatchers?”
At the $400 level:
Nimoy’s plentiful voice-over work included the evil robot Galvatron in the cartoon movie version of this TV show.
Joe Incollingo responded, “What is Transformers?”
At the $200 level:
Nimoy appeared in other TV series with this “Star Trek” co-star, including “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “T.J. Hooker”.
Troy Meyer responded, “Who is William Shatner?”
In the Double Jeopardy round, one of the categories was “Pop Culture Goes to Mars”. This category was actually majority mundane, cluing things like “Veronica Mars” and the rock band “30 Seconds to Mars”, but there were two actual SF clues:
$1200: Jack Nicholson was the President & Glenn Close, the First Lady in this 1996 Tim Burton film.
Troy Meyer responded, “What is Mars Attacks?”
$400: “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact it’s cold as hell”, sang Elton John in this hit.
Troy Meyer responded, “What is Rocket Man?”
(3) ROME PLUS MAGIC. At Speculative Fiction Showcase, an “Interview with Cass Morris, author of The Bloodstained Shade, Book 3 of The Aven Cycle”.
… Where Aven differs from the Rome of antiquity is that, in this version of the world, magic has shaped the course of history as much as war, politics, law, and religion. Adding that additional lever of power complicates both interpersonal and geopolitical relationships in ways that I adore playing with.
You co-host the Hugo Award Finalist podcast Worldbuilding for Masochists. Why ‘for masochists’?
It’s a teasing way of referring to those of us with a tendency to go way overboard in our worldbuilding. The “iceberg principle” of worldbuilding says that there’s far more below the surface than makes it onto the page of the finished product. My cohosts and I are people who have really, really big icebergs, and the way we create them can sometimes seem like self-torture….
(4) STRONG Q&A. Karen Strong, editor of the young adult anthology Cool. Awkward. Black, answers questions about books she’s read in “Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 25, 2023”.
Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:
Cool. Awkward. Black. is a multi-genre anthology that centers Black teens who celebrate their nerdy passions of cosplay, manga, STEM, gaming and the arts….
Favorite line from a book:
“In her spare time, she looked to books or the stars for company.” —Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I read so many books and have many favorite lines but this particular one has stayed with me. I truly believe books and stars can be great company.
(5) MELTS IN YOUR BRAINS, NOT IN YOUR HANDS. “M&M’s Replaces ‘Spokescandies’ With Maya Rudolph” – The Takeout has the story.
In news that has arrived suspiciously close to Super Bowl Sunday, M&M’s announced today that the brand’s “beloved spokescandies” would be placed on “indefinite pause” for being ostensibly divisive. The spokescandies will be replaced by comedian Maya Rudolph, who will be tasked with “champion[ing] the power of fun.”…
In the past year, M&M’s changes to the personalities and likenesses of its candy characters have stoked the ire of conservatives, who facilitated a minor uproar against the brand for being too “woke” as it made such minor adjustments as redesigning some M&M’s shoes and removing titles like “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from certain candies.
(6) IN PASSING: MICHAEL DOUGAN. Cartoonist Michael Dougan died recently. Specifics about exactly when are scarce, however, there are two solid tributes.
The Editors of The Comics Journal: “Remembering Michael Dougan”.
… Michael was so well-rounded; he was at times a cartoonist, a newspaperman, a barista, a restauranteur, a tv writer, and a great conversationalist, to name a few. His work is not as well-remembered as it should be, although his best book, I Can’t Tell You Anything, was released by Penguin in 1993 and still holds up as some of the best autobiographical work of its era. Part of Michael’s obscurity is because in 2006 a fire destroyed his house in Seattle, taking all of his art and archives—and in some ways his comics career—with it. He seemed to process what was a cartoonist’s Worst Case Scenario better than most could have, but it also seemed to fuel a desire to move forward rather than look backward. He spent a couple of years in LA writing for television. Whenever I brought up doing a collection of his work, he was interested but ultimately dismissed it as being too much of an “epic undertaking” to find the time for….
Robert Boyd: “In memoriam Michael Dougan” at The Great God Pan Is Dead.
I first became aware of Michael Dougan in the mid-80s from his work in Weirdo. The first story of his that I can remember was “Dennis the Sullen Menace”, written by Dennis P. Eicchorn. This issue (no. 19) was edited by Aline Kominsky-Crumb, who took over the editorship of the magazine after Peter Bagge moved on. Bagge had been the editor until issue 17, and his tastes still informed the contents of Weirdo. In addition to Michael Dougan and Dennis P. Eicchorn, Weirdo No, 19 had Mark Zingarelli and Bagge himself. Bagge knew all of the aforementioned cartoonists because they were all Seattle homers. Bagge got a bunch of his fellow Seattlites to contribute. Therefore, when I moved to Seattle in 1989, I got to know those guys, as well as other cartoonists from the region in Bagge’s artistic and social circle….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1958 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Poul Anderson loved beer. In fact, he was the first writer to imagine a spaceship powered by beer in the Bicycle Built for Brew novel published in Astounding Science Fiction sixty-five years ago. It’s available from the usual suspects in The Makeshift Rocket.
It wasn’t unusual for his characters to hoist a brew or two as I experienced when listening to some of the Nicholas Van Rijn stories recently.
So I leave you with a quote from “The Innocent Arrival” which is collected in Karin and Poul Anderson’s The Unicorn Trade (highly recommend and available from the usual suspects as a Meredith Moment):
“I see. Well, what are you having to drink?”
“Beer,” said Matheny without hesitation.
“Huh? Look, pal, this is on me.”
“The only beer on Mars comes forty million miles, with interplanetary freight charges tacked on,” said Matheny. “Tuborg!”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 25, 1905 — Margery Sharp. Her best remembered work is The Rescuers series which concerns a mouse by the name of Miss Bianca. They were later adapted in two Disney animated films, The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under. I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen the first one a very long time ago. Her genre novel, The Stone of Chastity, is according to her website, based on English folklore. Other than the first volume of The Rescuer series, she’s not really available digitally though she is mostly in print in the dead tree format. (Died 1991.)
- Born January 25, 1918 — King Donovan. His first SF films has him as Dr. Dan Forbes in the 1953 The Magnetic Monster and as Dr. Ingersoll In The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The very next year, he plays James O’Herli in Riders to the Stars. And now we get to the film that you know him from — Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which he plays Jack Belicec. After that, I show him only in Nothing Lasts Forever which has never been released here in the States. (Died 1987.)
- Born January 25, 1920 — Bruce Cassiday.Under two different pen names, Con Steffanson and Carson Bingham , he wrote three Flash Gordon novels (The Trap of Ming XII, The Witch Queen of Mongo and The War of the Cybernauts) and he also wrote several pieces of non-fiction worth noting, The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, co-written with Dieter Wuckel, and Modern Mystery, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers. The latter done in ‘93 is rather out of date and out of print as well. Checking the usual suspects shows nothing’s available by him for this genre though some of his pulp novels are available with appropriately lurid covers such as The Corpse in the Picture Window. (Died 2005.)
- Born January 25, 1943 — Tobe Hooper. Director of such genre films as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original of course), Poltergeist (damn scary film) Invaders from Mars and Djinn, his final film. He directed a smattering of television episodes including the “Miss Stardust” of Amazing Stories, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” of Freddy’s Nightmares, “Dead Wait” of Tales from the Crypt and the entire Salem’s Lot miniseries. He also wrote a horror novel with Alan Goldsher, Midnight Movie: A Novel, that has himself in it at a speaking engagement. (Died 2017.)
- Born January 25, 1958 — Peter Watts, 65. Author of the most excellent Firefall series which I read and enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read the Rifters trilogy so would welcome opinions on it. And his Sunflower-linked short stories sound intriguing. He won a Hugo for Best Novelette at Aussiecon 4 for “The Island”.
- Born January 25, 1973 — Geoff Johns, 50. Where to begin? Though he’s done some work outside of DC, he is intrinsically linked to that company having working for them for twenty years. My favorite work by him is on Batman: Gotham Knights, Justice League of America #1–7 (2013) and 52 which I grant which was way overly ambitious but really fun. Oh, and I’d be remiss not to note his decade long run on the Green Lantern books. He’s the writer and producer on the most excellent Stargirl that streamed on HBO Max. Johns is producing the Green Lantern series that will stream on HBO Max.
- Born January 25, 1975 — Mia Kirshner, 48. She was Amanda Grayson in Star Trek: Discovery. Her first genre was in the really not great The Crow: City of Angels as Sarah Mohr. (I editorialize, it is what I do. It’s like cats playing with string.) She had another run as Isobel Flemming in The Vampire Diaries and one-offs in The War of The Worlds, Dracula: The Series, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Wolf Lake. She had a plum role in Defiance as Kenya Rosewater.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Blondie copes with cats’ wedding ideas.
(10) INSTANT RED PLANET LIBRARY. Manhattan Rare Books has an online preview of the specialty collection it is offering for $975,000: “Mars and the Imagination: A Record of Our Relationship with the Red Planet”.
Mars and the Imagination was conceived and assembled by the experienced collector David Wenner – whose comprehensive collection on the history of physics now resides at the Niels Bohr Library of the American Institute of Physics – and represents much more than a “collection” of works. Through his years of research and study, Wenner was able to unearth important and previously unrecognized literary and historical texts, making new connections among them. Contextualized in such a way, the items in Mars and the Imagination collectively tell an illuminating story through primary sources that to our knowledge has not been previously attempted. It is the story of our fascination with the Red Planet, a story of our wonder about something that is just out of reach, a story that has revealed as much about us as it has about Mars.
Fiction and Non-Fiction
For hundreds of years, Mars has been observed by scientists, but lurked tantalizingly on the edge of our ability to truly understand the nature of the planet. It thus became a perfect template for speculation: What are the conditions on Mars? Is it hospitable to life? Are there, or have there ever been, living beings on Mars and if so, are they like us? Superior to us? Threatening to us? Will we ever be able to visit Mars?
The approaches to answering these questions have been varied, with both scientific inquiry and imaginative fiction in a continual dialogue of influence on each other. Mars and the Imagination, therefore includes texts by such scientific giants such as Kepler, Huygens, Hooke, and Cassini, but also fiction by literary masters such as Swift, Wells, Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke.
(11) A KLINGON SCREWDRIVER. Or more like a Swiss Army knife, except these aliens aren’t neutrals: “Star Trek Klingon Bat’leth 6-In-1 Multitool Kit”.
Tools Of Honor: No Klingon ever breaks his word. Shaped like the traditional Klingon Bat’leth weapon, this 6-in-1 multitool will help you tackle a variety of daily tasks. Perfect for when you’re exploring the universe, hiking, or camping.
(12) NOT ICE NINE. BBC News covers how the “Webb telescope hunts life’s icy chemical origins”.
The new super space telescope James Webb has ventured into the freezer.
It’s been probing some of the darkest, coldest regions in space for clues about the chemistry that goes into making planets, and perhaps even life.
This newly released image shows a segment of the Chameleon I molecular cloud, some 630 light years from Earth.
It’s here, at temperatures down to about -260C, that Webb is detecting types of ice grains not previously observed….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]