Pixel Scroll 5/2/22 Everyone Has Two Pixels Inside Them. Which One Will Win? The One You Scroll

(1) SPFBO #7 WINNER. J. D. Evans won Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #7 with her novel Reign & Ruin.

SPFBO 8 is expected to open for contestants at 1 p.m. BST on May 14.

(2) A PEJORATIVE RECLAIMED. In “The Space Opera Sci-Fi Subgenre, Explained”, Joshua Kristian McCoy brings the GameRant audience up to speed.

…Space opera refers to large-scale sci-fi which concerns itself with massive interplanetary battles, dashing heroes, old-fashioned romance, and general classic adventure stories, but in space. The term has its origin, not in opera theater, but in the soap opera genre. That dramatic subgenre, best known for The Young and the Restless and a thousand other endlessly serialized TV series, is actually inspired by the even earlier term horse opera. This term refers to a massive pile of formulaic westerns which largely followed the identical plot and narrative trappings. Space opera was coined in 1941 by author Wilson Tucker in a sci-fi fanzine, who famously noticed that a fair amount of recent sci-fi narratives were bare-bones horse operas, but set in space. The term was an insult for the first few decades of its existence, but it evolved from there….

…Before and during the Star Wars phenomenon came Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, which, like much of the subgenre, was partially inspired by TV westerns. These are two of the most important properties in sci-fi history, and despite some debate, both often fit comfortably into the space opera subgenre. Star Wars and Star Trek spawned new eras of space opera, transforming what was once an insult into a substantial audience draw….

(3) THEY WHO BECAME PROFILED IN THE NEWSPAPER. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Sydney Morning Herald profiled Shelley Parker-Chan, noting that they’re the first Australian author to be shortlisted for the Best Novel Hugo. (I’d add that they’re actually only the fourth Australian author shortlisted for any prose Hugo award. The other three being Greg Egan, Margo Lanagan, and Sean McMullen). It’s a really good piece that sheds some light into the sources of inspiration behind this quite remarkable book. “She Who Became the Sun becomes first Australian novel nominated for Hugo Award”.

The author is quoted: “there is something fundamentally radical about science fiction and fantasy that makes it a great place for people to work when they want to explore that intersection between race, gender, culture and colonialism.”

(4) THE PLACE TO LEARN. Clarion West released their 2020-21 Annual Report today. There are messages from the board, staff, and students; financial and donor information; and a roundup of achievements by Clarion alumni. There is also this report on how they’ve addressed accessibility issues raised about past workshops.

Accessibility update

Over the last two years, Clarion West has cemented its commitment to providing accessible programming. We are making adjustments to lower the barriers affecting people from a variety of backgrounds and abilities, and we will continue to address needs on an ongoing basis.

Here is an update of the work we’ve done to date and what we will be focusing on moving forward:

The Clarion West website

We’ve added the User Way accessibility widget to assist with visual adaptations for our website as an interim measure toward ensuring a greater variety of access to our site. We understand that this app alone is not a long-term solution and we are planning to work with consultants to ensure ongoing improvements, including better content, video, and image descriptions.

We have added an accessible information page and attempt to link to it on almost every class and workshop page.

Online classes and events

We have invested in closed captioning features for online classes and events, with live captioning or ASL interpreters upon request. With instructor permission, class recordings are available after each class for students to review at their own pace. Slides and other materials are provided as far in advance of each class as possible.

Physical accessibility

Clarion West has made a commitment to only partner with facilities that provide ADA accessible spaces and other accommodations. Whenever possible, we seek to partner with other nonprofit organizations to maximize these efforts, share resources, and ensure the best possible experiences for all participants.

The 2022 workshop will be held in accessible housing located a short distance from the Highline College campus in Des Moines, WA.

As we look toward the future, we will be looking into additional adaptive devices, opportunities to improve services, and feedback for all of our programming. If you see a need for increased accessibility that we have not yet identified, please let us know the issue as well as any suggestions you have to reduce barriers to accessibility

(5) DRIVERS OF CHANGE. In Vauhini Vara’s debut novel, a boy from rural India becomes a tech mogul in a world consumed by Big Tech. “She Wrote a Dystopian Novel. Now Her Fiction Is Crossing Into Reality.” The New York Times tells how.

Vauhini Vara started writing her debut novel 13 years ago, when she was working as a technology journalist and meeting chief executives like Larry Ellison of Oracle and Mark Zuckerberg of what was then a very young Facebook.

The lack of South Asian leaders in the industry sparked an idea: Her main character, an Indian, would become a tech C.E.O. in the United States. By making her protagonist a man from the Dalit community, which ranks lowest in the Hindu hierarchical caste system, she was simply incorporating what she had a connection to, she said; her father is Dalit, and grew up on a coconut grove in rural India.

Those deeply personal decisions turned out to be prescient. Now, as she prepares for the publication of her novel, “The Immortal King Rao,” on May 3, six of the world’s largest technology companies — Adobe, Alphabet, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Twitter — are being led by men of Indian descent.

(6) SCI-FI FEEDBACK LOOP. Everyone is invited to “The Sci-Fi Feedback Loop: Mapping Fiction’s Influence on Real-World Tech”, a webinar taking place Thursday, May 12, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern. Panelists include science fiction authors Cory Doctorow and Malka Older, SF scholars Sherryl Vint and Michael G. Bennett, investor Tim Chang, and tech policy researcher Kevin Bankston. 

This event is the first in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can be used as a tool for innovation and foresight. 

The event is free and open to everyone. Here is the registration link.

There’s little question that the imaginary futures of science fiction have influenced the development of real-world technologies, from space travel to cyberspace. Join Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination for a virtual conversation among sci-fi authors, scholars, and technologists, examining this feedback loop between science fiction and technical innovation. We’ll dive into the history of sci-fi’s influence, and consider its impact on the direction of technology development today.

(7) THE C3 IN HERO. Helen Lowe analyzes “What Makes A Hero? #3: Commitment” at Supernatural Underground.

On 1 March, I asked the question, “What Makes A Hero?” and looked at “the Call”, the first of three C’s that inform my thinking on the subject.

Last month, on 1 April, I checked out C number two: Circumstance.

This month, it’s time for Commitment. (I know, I know, you got that from the title already, but hey — unfolding logic and everything in its proper order, ok? OK!)

…One of the most famous instances of commitment in Fantasy is when Frodo volunteers to take the One Ring to Mordor:

(8) FLOUNCING FROM ORBIT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Will they follow through this time? Who knows. “Russia Will Quit International Space Station Over Sanctions” reports Bloomberg.

The head of Russia’s space program said Moscow will pull out of the International Space Station, state media reported, a move it has blamed on sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.

“The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly,” Tass and RIA Novosti reported Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin as saying in an interview with state TV on Saturday. “I can say this only — in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice.”

Rogozin earlier this month threatened to end Russia’s mission unless the U.S., European Union and Canada lifted sanctions against enterprises involved in the Russian space industry.

The orbital research space station had until the war remained a rare area of cooperation between Russia and the U.S. and its allies despite steadily worsening relations. But Russia’s unprecedented international isolation since it invaded Ukraine in February has marked the demise of this symbol of joint space exploration.

Three Americans and an Italian astronaut docked at the space station on Wednesday, joining three other Americans, three Russians and a German already on the ISS.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1952 [By Cat Eldridge.]  Seventy years ago this even ion ABC, Tales Of Tomorrow aired its “Red Dust” episode. As the copy provided by the network said, “The first human mission to another solar system loses 2 crew on a red dust-covered planet, which once had an advanced civilization. Due to allergies, neither of the shipmates got anti-radiation shots, so the remaining crew aren’t concerned about their own return to Earth. But then the red dust starts to appear everywhere on the space ship.” 

It was directed by Don Medford from a script by Irving Elman from the play by noted SF writer Theodore Cogswell, a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. It was an original work by him and not based off anything that he’d previously done. Cogswell was nominated at ConAdian for his PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies as a Best Non-Fiction Related Book, and he had a Retro Hugo nomination at Noreascon 4 for his “The Wall Around the World” novelette. 

The cast was Fred Stewart, Lex Barker, Skedge Miller and Robert Patten. You can watch it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 2, 1921 Satyajit Ray. Bengali filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic artist, lyricist, music composer and writer who is here for his genre fiction which fortunately has been translated into English as most of us don’t read Bengali. Over a decade recently, three collections came in English The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other StoriesClassic Satyajit Ray and The Collected Short Stories) with most of his genre work in the collection. There are nine stories involving Professor Shonku, his most popular SF character. (Died 1992.)
  • Born May 2, 1924 Theodore Bikel. He was on Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s fourth season in order to play one of the foster parents to Worf in the “Family” episode as CPO Sergey Rozhenko, retired. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragon in a certain The Return of the King. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 2, 1925 John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favorite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing  Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011.)
  • Born May 2, 1938 Bob Null. Very long-time LASFS member who was  the Club’s VP for an equally long period. Fancyclopedia 3 say that “He also sat on the Board of Directors, and frequently handled logistics for local conventions including both Loscon and local Worldcons, and was always one of those nearly invisible hard-working people who make fandom work. He is a Patron Saint of LASFS.” (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 2, 1942 Alexis Kanner. His first genre appearance was on The Prisoner where he so impressed McGoohan in the “Living in Harmony” episode that he created a specific role for him in the series finale, “Fall Out” where he stands trial. He also has an uncredited role in “The Girl Who Was Death” in that series. His final known acting role was as Sor in Nightfall based off the Asimov story of the same name. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 2, 1946 David Suchet, 76. Though rather obviously better remembered as Hercule Poirot, he does show up on in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Knock Knock”, simply called Landlord.  Don’t let that deceive you. He’s appeared in some other genre work from time to time including Greystoke — The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesHarry and the HendersonsDr. No — The Radio PlayWing CommanderTales of the Unexpected and Peter Pan Goes Wrong
  • Born May 2, 1946 Leslie S. Klinger, 76. He is a noted literary editor and annotator of classic genre fiction. He is the editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, a three-volume edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes fiction with extensive annotations, with an introduction by John le Carré. I’d also like to single out him for his The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1, The New Annotated Frankenstein and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. The Horror Writers of America honored him with their Silver Hammer Award given to a HWA volunteer who has done a truly massive amount of work for the organization, often unsung and behind the scenes. 
  • Born May 2, 1972 Dwayne Johnson, 50. Ok I wasn’t going to include him until stumbled across the fact that he’d been on Star Trek: Voyager as The Champion in the “Tsunkatse” episode. Who saw him there? Of course, it’s not his only genre role as he was the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, played Agent 23 in Get Smart, voiced Captain Charles T. Baker In Planet 51, was the tooth fairy in, errr, the Tooth Fairy, was Hank Parsons in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, was Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (anyone watch these?), was a very buff Hercules in Hercules, voiced Maui in Moana, was Dr. Smolder Bravestone in both Jumanji films(not on my bucket list) and was one of the Executive Producers of Shazam! which gets a huh from me where he played Black Adam but the forthcoming Black Adam sounds like it could be damn great.

(11) RESCUED FROM OBSCURITY. Davide Mana profiles the forgotten Italian pulp science fiction writer Nora de Siebert: “The lady writes the pulps: Nora de Siebert” at Karavansara.

…Many of De Siebert’s SF stories were often set against the background of future societies in which women were relegated to a subordinate, “ornamental” roles – usually by design and with the help of mind controlling techniques, as men had found out that women could beat them at their own game if allowed; the main protagonists in these stories usually rebelled against the status quo. Not bad, for stories written in a backwater like Italy, in the 1950s….

(12) A WRITER’S GENESIS. Grimdark Magazine features “An Interview With Ben Aaronovitch”.

[GdM] How did you become a novelist? Can you tell us about Waterstones and how Rivers of London come about?

I started as a script writer but after my first Doctor Who I was offered the chance to novelise my story which is like someone saying they’ll pay you good money to learn how to write prose. Once I’d done a 40,000 word novella I knew I could do a full length book. After a few more tie in novels for Virgin and Big Finish I was confident I could write well to that format. When my career as a scriptwriter fizzled out I found myself working in Waterstones and going slowly bankrupt. Faced with penury or worse- moving out of London, I turned to prose to make my one and only talent, writing, pay. The question was – what kind of novel would I write?

(13) SWIPER, NO SWIPING! The New York Times discovers that “In Echo of Soviet Era, Russia’s Movie Theaters Turn to Pirate Screenings”.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Hollywood’s biggest studios have stopped releasing movies in Russia, and Netflix has ceased service there. But recently, some of the companies’ films have started appearing in Russian movie theaters — illegally.

The screenings are reminiscent of the Soviet era, when the only way to see most Western films was to get access to a pirated version. Whereas those movies made their way to Russians in the form of smuggled VHS tapes, today, cinemas in the country have a simpler, faster method: the internet. Numerous websites offer bootleg copies of movies that take minutes to download.

Some theaters in Russia are now openly screening pirated movies; others are being more careful, allowing private individuals to rent out spaces to show films, free or for a fee. One group, for example, rented out several screening rooms at a movie theater in Yekaterinburg, then used social media to invite people to buy tickets to watch “The Batman.”

(14) THE GREEN HILLS OF SOFTWARE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Vice tells us that Californian and Green Hills Software owner Dan O’Dowd has exactly one plank in the platform for his Senate run: “All he will talk about is how much he hates Tesla’s self-driving cars and the existential threat computers pose to humanity.”

See the story at “The Billionaire Running for US Senate to Ban Elon Musk’s Self-Driving Cars” for the full interview. 

California Senate candidate Dan O’Dowd will not talk about taxes. Or homelessness. Or climate change. Or inflation. Or housing. Or jobs. All he will talk about is how much he hates Tesla’s self-driving cars and the existential threat computers pose to humanity.

“My issue is more important than all of them, because it’s basically about survival,” he told Motherboard. “When cyber Armageddon hits, and everything goes down, I don’t think anybody’s gonna care about taxes.”

It’s not an exaggeration to say that O’Dowd has become obsessed with Tesla’s full self-driving cars. He owns three Teslas and claims to have driven nothing else for over a decade, but believes the full self-driving cars have become so dangerous that they need to be banned immediately….

(15) I’LL BE D****ED. Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! and witnessed contestants draw a blank about this one.

Category: From Book to Movie with a Different Title

Answer: “The Midwich Cuckoos” inspired this “Damned” 1960 film about children with frightening powers in a small town.

No one could ask, “What is “Village of the Damned”?

(16) CELEBRITY FOSSIL TO AUCTION. “Christie’s to Sell a Dinosaur That Inspired the ‘Jurassic Park’ Raptor” reports the New York Times. The auction house says this is the first-ever sale of a Deinonychus, the species on which the ‘velociraptor’ in the 1993 movie was based.

Many people know them as agile bipedal dinosaurs with menacing claws and scrunched-up arms, hunting children through a kitchen in “Jurassic Park.”

In the 1993 movie, they’re called velociraptors, but those creatures were more like a different, related species, Deinonychus antirrhopus — a name that the author of the novel “Jurassic Park,” Michael Crichton, considered a less dramatic choice.

The movie helped turn velociraptors (well, technically Deinonychuses) into one of the most recognizable dinosaurs, alongside the T. rex. And now, dinosaur enthusiasts can bid on one of their own.

The auction house Christie’s announced on Friday that it would be selling a Deinonychus skeleton it calls Hector, which was excavated from Montana several years ago. The company said it would be the first public sale of such a specimen. The estimated price tag is $4 million to $6 million, likely prompting most “Jurassic Park” fans to put their paddles down…

(17) TREKKING FOR PEACE. The book launch for José-Antonio Orosco’s recently published Star Trek and the Philosophy of Peace and Justice included this Zoom discussion between him and a few others. The author wears a DS9 uniform for the event and uses its OPS center as a Zoom background.

In coordination with the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, the Anarres Project presents a discussion with the author (and co-director of the Anarres Project) Jose-Antonio Orosco about his new book “Star Trek and the Philosophy of Peace and Justice: A Global, Anti-Racist Approach”. (London: Bloomsbury, 2022) The dialogue is moderated by Dr. Greg Moses (Texas State University), editor of The Acorn Journal: Philosophical Studies in Pacifism and Nonviolence and Communications Director for the Concerned Philosophers for Peace. They are joined by panelists from CPP including Dr. Andrew Fiala (California State University, Fresno) and Dr. Jennifer Kling (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs).

(18) OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO SWING ON A VINE? The Library of America’s Story of the Week is “Cloudland Revisited: Rock-a-Bye, Viscount, in the Treetop” by S. J. Perelman.

. . . Insofar as the topography of Rhode Island and my physique permitted, I modelled myself so closely on Tarzan that I drove the community to the brink of collapse. I flung spears at the neighbors’ laundry, exacerbated their watchdogs, swung around their piazzas gibbering and thumping my chest, made reply only in half-human grunts interspersed with unearthly howls, and took great pains generally to qualify as a stench in the civic nostril. The hallucination passed as abruptly as it had set in; one morning I awoke with an overwhelming ennui for everything related to Africa, weak but lucid. My kinsfolk were distrustful for a while, but as soon as they saw me constructing a catamaran in which to explore the Everglades, they knew I was rational again.

Curious as to why Tarzan had enraptured two generations and begotten so many sequels, movie serials, and comics, I commandeered my son’s copy of the novel and my wife’s chaise longue and staged a reunion…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Honest Trailers gang comes up with new frontiers for honesty in their take on The Batman. “Honest Theme Songs (‘Kiss From A Bat’)”.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Nick Hudson, 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 Maytree.]

Preview Art from Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London “Deadly Ever After #1”

“Deadly Ever After” is the next chapter in the Rivers of London series from Titan Comics. Written by Rivers of London author Ben Aaronovitch, Doctor Who Script Editor Andrew Cartmel and Celeste Bronfman (Star Trek), the issue will be released May 18.

When Chelsea and Olympia accidentally break an enchantment in the woods, deadly fairy tales from a mysterious old book begin coming to life. To set things right, Chelsea and Olympia must unravel a mystery dating back to the 1800s before they become victims of a lethal sorcery.

See the variant covers and sample interior art following the jump.

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2021 Future Worlds Prize Announced

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour has announced M H Ayinde is the winner of the 2021 prize, for her novel A Shadow in Chains.

The runner up is Salma Ibrahim, with her novel Frankincense.

The winner and runner-up were chosen from a shortlist of eight by judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Lloyd Bradley, Valerie Brandes, Shobna Gulati, Zahra Hankir and Tasha Suri.

Ayinde wins £4,000. Her novel is set in a place called the Nine Lands, where only those of noble blood can summon their ancestors to fight in battle. But when a commoner from the slums accidentally invokes a powerful spirit, she finds it could hold the key to ending a centuries-long war.

The judges said of A Shadow in Chains: “A Shadow in Chains is a cool and confident novel, excellently written, that feels very now. We wanted to be in the world of the novel as we read it, and felt this was a book doing something very exciting in the SFF space.”

Ibrahim wins £2,000. Frankincense follows a character called Sidra Ali, who on her way to work on a London bus finds herself arriving in a parallel universe in modern day Mogadishu, Somalia. There she discovers what life would be like if her family hadn’t left Somalia during the civil war.

The judges said of Frankincense: “This is an evocative and layered novel with great potential. It feels original yet recognisable, and we loved that it centred working class experiences.”

The six runners-up of the prize will each receive £800. They are (in alphabetical order by author surname):

  • The Sawling by Jordan Collins
  • In the City of Villages by Franchesca Liauw
  • Margot, Who Is Beautiful Now by Bea Pantoja
  • The Warden by Madeehah Reza
  • Contracts Made in Gold by Aqeelah Seedat
  • A Box Full of Stories by Fatima Taqvi.

The winner and runner-up were announced at an event held at The London Library on Wednesday, February 16.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour aims to find new talent based in the UK writing in the SFF space, from magical realism and space operas to dystopia and more. 

All shortlisted writers, the runner-up and the winner will also receive mentoring from one of the prize’s publishing partners: HarperCollins’ SFF imprint HarperVoyager, Penguin Random House UK’s Del Rey UK, Gollancz, Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor. 

Future Worlds Prize, first run in 2020 and founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year. The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity.

The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for The Principle of Moments, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released this year.

[Based on a press release.]

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour 2021 Shortlist

The Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour announced its 2021 shortlist on November 18.

The eight stories are (in alphabetical order by author surname):

  • “A Shadow in Chains” by M H Ayinde
  • “The Sawling” by Jordan Collins
  • “Frankincense” by Salma Ibrahim
  • “In the City of Villages” by Franchesca Liauw
  • “Margot, Who Is Beautiful Now” by Bea Pantoja
  • “The Warden” by Madeehah Reza
  • “Contracts Made in Gold” by Aqeelah Seedat
  • “A Box Full of Stories” by Fatima Taqvi

The shortlist was chosen by the prize’s publishing partners who read anonymized versions of the entries.

Sarah Shaffi, project manager for the prize, said: “Our shortlist consists of eight brilliant new voices in the world of SFF. This is a prize looking for originality, for works that enrich the SFF genre and for potential, and our eight shortlisted writers and their work display all that and more. “It is now over to our judges to decide on one winner. I don’t envy them!”

Ben Aaronovitch, founder of the prize, said: “What has stunned me about the response to the Future World Prize is the number of entrants, their quality and their enthusiasm. Even so I believe that we have only sampled the ocean of talent out there and I hope we can build upon this promising beginning to get even more brilliant writing in front of even more readers.”

Actor Adjoa Andoh, who judged the prize in its first year and is providing financial support in its second year, said: “I came on board to support Future Worlds Prize, the brainchild of novelist Ben Aaronovitch, because I, like Ben, want to see more storytellers of colour exploring the possibilities that the speculative and science fiction form offers to reimagine the world and embrace new readerships. I am delighted therefore in the second year of the award that so many writers of colour have stepped up. Long may we grow and flourish as writers and readers. Keep those stories coming!”

The prize will be judged by:

  • Actor and author Shobna Gulati
  • Author Tasha Suri
  • Writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes
  • Journalist Zahra Hankir
  • Cultural commentator Lloyd Bradley
  • Publisher Valerie Brandes.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour aims to find new talent based in the UK writing in the SFF space, from magical realism and space operas to dystopia and more. The winner will receive a prize of £4,000, the runner-up £2,000 and up to six additional shortlisted authors will each receive £800. All shortlisted writers, the runner-up and the winner will also receive mentoring from one of the prize’s publishing partners.

The prize’s publishing partners are HarperVoyager, the SFF imprint at HarperCollins, Penguin Random House UK’s Del Rey UK, Gollancz, Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor.

Future Worlds Prize, first run in 2020 and founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year. The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity.

The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for “The Principle of Moments”, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released in 2022.

More information about the shortlisted authors and works follows the jump.

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New Comic Series Marks Rivers of London’s Tenth Anniversary

Cover by VERONICA FISH 

This year is the tenth anniversary of Ben Aaronovitch’s first Peter Grant novel, Rivers Of London. The series has since expanded into numerous novels, novellas and comics, sold more than two million copies worldwide, and been translated into 14 languages.

Titan Comics is announcing a new addition to the series, Monday Monday: Rivers of London #1, with a cover by star artist Veronica Fish.

The synopsis for this new series reads: 

What starts as a routine undercover operation to break up an organized teenage pickpocket gang turns into something far more sinister. A werewolf is on the loose and will stop at nothing to avoid capture! It’s up to Peter Grant and his cohort of chums to hunt the deadly lycanthrope and bring him to justice.

Monday, Monday will see Aaronovitch joined once again by the creative talents of Doctor Who Script Editor and fellow series writer Andrew Cartmel.

Issue #1 goes on sale July 7. It’s available to pre-order now from local comic shopsForbidden Planet and ComiXology.

Issue #1 of this new arc will debut with a range of variant covers to collect, including artwork by Veronica Fish (Sabrina, Spider-Woman), V. V. Glass (2000AD), and Jose Maria Beroy. See the cover art and sample interior pages following the jump.

[Based on a press release.]

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Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour Taking Entries

The Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour is now open for submissions.

The prize, which first ran in 2020 and is founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year and will be working with publishers from across the industry.

The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity, and project managed by Sarah Shaffi.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour aims to find new talent writing in the SFF space, from magical realism and space operas to dystopia and more. The winner will receive a prize of £4,000, the runner-up £2,000 and up to six additional shortlisted authors will each receive £800. All shortlisted writers, the runner-up and the winner will also receive mentoring from one of the prize’s publishing partners.

Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for The Principle of Moments, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released in 2022.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour opens for submissions from unpublished writers of colour based in the UK at 09:00 on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 and closes at 23:59 GMT on Friday, June 25, 2021.

Ben Aaronovitch, founder of the prize and author of the Rivers of London books, said:

It was really great to have been introduced to so many talented people in the initial award; so many brilliant writers of colour, writing such a dazzling variety of incredible stories. My only regret was that we couldn’t have a great big awards ceremony just so I could meet them in person. We’ll have to do something about that.

I’m extremely excited that this year we’re expanding our reach by working with more UK publishers, agents, bookshops, librarians and anyone else we think can help spread the word and share their expertise with these upcoming writers. I’d always hoped that the award would widen its scope but the speed with which this has happened has been gratifying.

Last year’s winner, Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson, has got a well-deserved publishing deal, and we are determined to build on that to ensure that the breadth of talent revealed amongst the runners up will make their own impact on the publishing world.

There’s still a long way to go before UK publishing is the meritocracy it aspires to be but I’m hoping that Future Worlds Prize can be a small step in the right direction.”

Adjoa Andoh said:

As a black actor and award-winning audiobook narrator of sci fi and speculative fiction, it has been my great joy to see more and more authors of colour follow in the mighty footsteps of Octavia Butler, diving into other worlds to reflect on this world, drawing their readers into adventure, danger and mystery to spectacular effect. 

With Future Worlds Prize our hope is to further increase the pool of writers of colour choosing to work in this genre, by encouraging those on the journey to first publication to bring their work to us, to apply for this prize, receive expert support and advice and flourish in their chosen field to the great benefit of all of the readership.

Sarah Shaffi said: “As a lover of science fiction and fantasy books, I’ve always craved more stories told by a richer variety of voices. I’m excited to see the breadth and depth of work we’ll receive, and I encourage authors of colour writing in this area to not be shy, and to get their novels and short stories in to us.”

The prize is continuing its partnership with Gollancz, and is also this year working with all Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor for the first time, with more publishing partners to be announced in due course.

Marcus Gipps, publisher at Gollancz said: “As a founding partner in the inaugural prize, Gollancz was thrilled to be part of such an important and vital initiative. We are excited to work with SFF publishers across the market to continue to break down barriers to access and make this the biggest possible prize with the broadest reach. We look forward to many years of collaboration.”

Anna Jackson, publisher at Orbit, said: “We’re proud to be the UK publisher of some of SFF’s most popular and award-winning writers of colour, but we’re very aware that there’s still a significant need for progress to be made in terms of representation within the genre. That’s why we’re delighted to be able to support this fantastic award which aims to discover and champion more underrepresented voices within SFF.”

Bella Pagan from Tor said: “On behalf of Pan Macmillan and Tor, I am absolutely delighted to be involved in this important and relevant award. I hope this will lead to real opportunities for authors from more diverse backgrounds.”

Get full submission details at http://www.futureworldsprize.co.uk/.

Follow the award on social media:

About Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch was a screenwriter for Doctor Who and a bookseller at Waterstones. He now writes full time, and every book in his Rivers of London series has been a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller. He is published in 14 languages and has sold more than 2 million copies around the world. Aaronovitch is also a trustee on the board of Cityread London and is a long-time supporter of Nigeria’s premiere arts and cultural festival, The Aké Festival. He still lives in London, the city he likes to refer to as ‘the capital of the world’.

About Cityread

Cityread is a registered charity that promotes reading for pleasure and supports public libraries. Previous Cityread initiatives include Cityread London, an annual month-long literature festival delivered in partnership with library services in all 32 London boroughs plus Luton, Reading and. Launched in 2012, it ran for eight years and featured books including Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, and Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 12/7/20 When All You Have Is A Scroll, Everything Looks Like A Pixel

(1) WHERE THE BLOOD STILL PULSES – SO TO SPEAK. R.S. Benedict’s article for Blood Knife “How Horror Makes Itself Ungovernable” says that horror alone resists the corporatization of geek culture.

…Geek culture—comic books, video games, sci-fi, fantasy—is mainstream now, squeezing out mysteries, dramas, and period pieces at the box office.

…This is nothing to be celebrated. This is not victory. The mainstreaming of geek culture is artistic gentrification, a way for moneyed interests to wrest control of culture from the creatives who built it and crowd out any voice with something new or subversive to say. Sci-fi, which once gave us visions of the future, and fantasy, which once nurtured our imaginations, have been hijacked to sell imperialism and soda pop. The invaders have won; our loved ones have been replaced by pod people.

Only one speculative genre has managed to escape the Disneyfication process and retain something resembling a soul: horror….

(2) THE TRUTH, OR SOMETHING, IS OUT THERE. The news got George Takei’s attention.

“Former Israeli space security chief says aliens exist, humanity not ready” reports The Jerusalem Post.

Has the State of Israel made contact with aliens?

According to retired Israeli general and current professor Haim Eshed, the answer is yes, but this has been kept a secret because “humanity isn’t ready.”

Speaking in an interview to Yediot Aharonot, Eshed – who served as the head of Israel’s space security program for nearly 30 years and is a three-time recipient of the Israel Security Award – explained that Israel and the US have both been dealing with aliens for years.

And this by no means refers to immigrants, with Eshed clarifying the existence of a “Galactic Federation.”

The 87-year-old former space security chief gave further descriptions about exactly what sort of agreements have been made between the aliens and the US, which ostensibly have been made because they wish to research and understand “the fabric of the universe.” This cooperation includes a secret underground base on Mars, where there are American and alien representatives.

If true, this would coincide with US President Donald Trump’s creation of the Space Force as the fifth branch of the US armed forces, though it is unclear how long this sort of relationship, if any, has been going on between the US and its reported extraterrestrial allies.

But Eshed insists that Trump is aware of them, and that he was “on the verge” of disclosing their existence. However, the Galactic Federation reportedly stopped him from doing so, saying they wished to prevent mass hysteria since they felt humanity needed to “evolve and reach a stage where we will… understand what space and spaceships are,” Yediot Aharonot reported.

As for why he’s chosen to reveal this information now, Eshed explained that the timing was simply due to how much the academic landscape has changed, and how respected he is in academia.

“If I had come up with what I’m saying today five years ago, I would have been hospitalized,” he explained to Yediot.

Of course, the timing may also have something to do with the release of Eshed’s newest book, The Universe Beyond the Horizon – conversations with Professor Haim Eshed. And considering all the year’s travails, I liked this reaction —

(3) FELLOWSHIP OF THE PREQUEL. In the “Silmarillion Seminar”, hosted at The Tolkien Professor, a bunch of academics sit down and talk about the Silmarillion chapter by chapter:

Despite its challenging learning curve, The Silmarillion is an amazing set of stories. Some of these stories may be even more profound and more moving than The Lord of the Rings. What’s more, once you know The Silmarillion, you will begin to understand The Lord of the Rings in a whole new way.

In the Silmarillion Seminar, listeners will be reading through the book slowly and carefully, at the pace of about a chapter a week, and gathering together to have an online audio discussion with the Tolkien Professor about each chapter. Each session will be recorded and posted here on this page. Hopefully, you will pick up your copy of the book and give this truly incredible book another chance.

(4) IN A BEGINNING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] OK, now here’s a book I want to read (and have just library-reserved)…

A year or two or three ago, I went to an interesting lecture at Harvard on the origins of alphabets. It was interesting… but it didn’t address my question, and, when either in the Q&A session at the end or while we were milling afterwards, I asked about the origin of alphabetic order, to which I was told, more or less, IIRC, that was a different question. Fair ’nuff.

So, I just saw this review in our paper edition of the December 6 New York Times’ Book Review section (tho, per the URL, I see it ran online back in late October): A Place For Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by Judith Flanders.

A few paragraphs into reading the review, I made a note (snapped a pic using my phone) and have reserved-requested it through/from my local library.

(5) YOUNG PEOPLE. Young People Read Old SFF reaches the second-to-last story in the Rediscovery collection from Journey Press, “Cornie on the Walls” Sydney van Scyoc. What does James Davis Nicoll’s panel think about this 1963 entry?

Sydney J. van Scyoc was mainly active in the 1960s through the 1980s. Although new short pieces appear as late as 2005, her most recent novel was 1991’s Deepwater Dreams. I haven’t read Deepwater because van Scyoc occupied a blindspot in my collecting. Having read this example of her work, I’ve taken to picking up her novels when I see them. Finding time to read them has thus far eluded me.

But were my Young People as enthusiastic? Let’s find out…. 

(6) MURDER IN SPACE. James Davis Nicoll also found time to write about “Five Space-Based Murder Mysteries” for Tor.com. One of them is —

Places in the Darkness by Christopher Brookmyre (2017)

230,000 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, Ciudad de Cielo is filled with almost every vice and foible known to humanity. This is a paradise for bent private cop Nicola “Nikki Fixx” Freeman, because it offers many ways for a high-ranking Seguridad officer to siphon off some extra wealth for herself. The system works, as long as nobody gets too greedy and everyone remembers that there are limits to the crimes to which the authorities can turn a blind eye….

(7) GHOSTS IN THE BIG APPLE. The NY Ghost Story Festival can be viewed free on YouTube.

Night One: Thursday December 10, 2020 7PM EST

Guests are Gwendolyn Kiste, Hysop Mulero and Rudi Dornemann

Night Two: Saturday December 10, 2020 7PM EST

Guests Sarah Langan, Lee Thomas, and Douglas Wynne

Here is the event page for Night Two on Facebook.

When the year grows old and December’s daylight departs too soon it is time to fill the dark nights with stories of ghosts and the supernatural.

Welcome to The New York Ghost Story Festival. An annual event of ghost story readings and discussion hosted by Daniel Braum. Featuring authors of the uncanny, strange and fantastic from New York and around the globe.

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • November 1995 — “Two Tales of Korval,” the very first stories in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Adventures in the Liaden Universe series was published by SR in a very limited sixty copies. There was two stories here, “To Cut an Edge” and “A Day at The Races”, plus “A Partial Liaden Glossary”.  More printings would follow. Both stories are in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 1 which is available from the usual digital suspects.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 7, 1873 – Willa Cather.  A dozen stories for us, besides the work of her fame like O Pioneers!My ÁntoniaOne of Ours.  Pulitzer Prize.  Fellow, Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences.  Nat’l Inst. Arts & Letters gold medal for fiction.  Nat’l Women’s Hall of Fame.  New York Writers Hall of Fame.  (Died 1947) [JH]
  • Born December 8, 1886 – Heywood Broun.  Sportswriter, drama critic, columnist, editor; co-founded the Newspaper Guild.  One of the Algonquin Round Table.  Often wrote against racism, censorship, persecution of people for their beliefs. A novel and three shorter stories for us, much other work.  (Died 1939) [JH]
  • Born December 7, 1915 Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo this year for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Why not? Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) And yes, she competed The Empire Strikes Back script just before she died.  Is that the actual shooting script? (Died 1978.) (CE) 
  • Born December 7, 1947 – Anne Fine, O.B.E., age 73. Three novels, four shorter stories for us; seventy children’s books, eight adults’.  Two Carnegie Medals, two Whitbread Awards, The GuardianAward.  Children’s Laureate (U.K., awarded every two years).  Fellow, Royal Soc. Literature.  Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.  [JH]
  • Born December 7, 1949 Tom Waits, 71. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli. (CE)
  • Born December 7, 1953 Madeleine E Robins, 67. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Luckstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE) 
  • Born December 7, 1957 – Terri Blackstock, age 63.  Six novels for us; forty others.  Carol Award.  Two NY Times best-sellers.  “I still print things out and mark all over the hard copies after each draft.  Under glass, I have pictures of my characters, with important stats about them, such as their ages, so I can refer to them often.”  [JH]
  • Born December 7, 1973 Kelly Barnhill, 47. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award.  (CE) 
  • Born December 7, 1980 – Satô Yûya, age 40.  (Surname first, Japanese style.)  Mishima Yukio Prize.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories.  “Same as Always” closes the just-released Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories.  [JH]
  • Born December 7, 1984 – Walter Dinjos.  This just-emerging Nigerian had a dozen stories in e.g. Abyss & ApexBeneath Ceaseless SkiesGalaxy’s Edge.  (Died 2018) [JH]

(10) ROLLING ON THE RIVERS. You Rivers of London fans might want to know about Ben Aaronovitch’s Titan Comics series, the latest title being Rivers of London Volume 8: The Fey and the Furious. (Writers: Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel. Artist: Lee Sullivan.)

Trouble never lies far from the race track. When a flash car belonging to a young boy racer from England washes up in the Netherlands with a bagload of unusual cargo, it’s evident there is more than meets the eye happening at street races held in an Essex car park. Enter Detective Inspector Peter Grant. Fresh from suspension, he takes to the track in his orange ‘asbo’ Ford Focus to try and infiltrate the big leagues. But Peter soon finds himself sucked back into an Otherworld – a real-life fairyland!

They’ve also diagrammed where the comics fit into the overall series. (Click for slightly larger version.)

(11) PANDEMIC HEROES. “Real Nurses, Real Stories” describes The Vitals, a comic Marvel produced in collaboration with the Allegheny Health Network based on true stories of nurses fighting the pandemic. Read the comic here —  The Vitals: True Nurse Stories (2020). (I’ll start typing again in a moment, right now I have something in my eye…)

(12) ALIEN COMICS ON THE WAY. Marvel Comics earlier announced plans for all-new comics set in the iconic world of the Alien franchise. The first of these will arrive March 2021 with ALIEN #1, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, art by Salvador Larroca, and cover by InHyuk Lee.

ALIEN #1 will be a thrilling addition to the incredible legacy that began with the groundbreaking 1979 film. Featuring both new and classic characters from Earth and beyond, this bold take on the Alien mythology will entertain both longtime fans and newcomers to the legendary horror/science-fiction saga.

The new story will feature a Weyland-Yutani mercenary named Gabriel Cruz as he battles a deadly new breed of xenomorph with the survival of his child hanging in the balance.

(13) THE PLAY’S THE THING. File 770 contributor Francis Hamit’s stage play Memorial Day is now available for community and other theatre groups. See Stageplays.com. To read the opening scenes, click here.

Francis Hamit is the last guy you would expect to write an anti-war play.  He is an Army brat who served four years in the U.S. Army Security Agency during the Vietnam War and had a tour there himself.

“I mostly write about two things,” he says, “Soldiers and spies.  My background is in Military Intelligence and I try to stay current with how the American military has changed in the decades since the Vietnam War ended.  For many of those who were it there, it never did, because American society turned on us and blamed us for losing the war and every bad thing that happened there.  We were all accused of being drug addicts and war criminals, and that legacy has passed to subsequent generations of American soldiers.  Most Americans no longer know us, nor do they want to.  We are there on the front lines, but everyone else is at the Mall.”

MEMORIAL DAY is a two act, one set, seven character play set in a small town or city neighborhood someplace in the USA.  Anywhere between Alabama and Alaska.  One of the men was an Army Ranger on D-Day in World War Two.  Part of the so-called “Greatest Generation”.  The others came later.  The bar is owned by a Vietnam veteran, a draftee who one day got into a situation that earned him the Medal of Honor.  He doesn’t know what to do with the fame that comes with that award, and resists efforts by other to exploit it.  He will not even march in the town’s annual Memorial Day parade.  Anyone who ever lived in a small town will find these folks relatable.

(14) A NIP HERE, A TUCK THERE. Peter Jackson didn’t pull a Lucas on Lord of the Rings, but here’s what did change: “Peter Jackson talks 4K remasters for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies” at SYFY Wire.

Peter Jackson recently revisited Middle-Earth to remaster his Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies in 4K Ultra HD. The undertaking allowed the celebrated director to go back to the original films (for example, The Fellowship of the Ring turns 20?! next December) and update their visual effects with modern tools. But don’t worry, this isn’t a Star Wars Special Editions-type situation of a director going back in and adding a bunch of stuff that wasn’t there originally.

“Visual effects technology has advanced a lot in 20 years and when they became ultra-crisp and sharp with the 4K process, we realized that some of the shots were not holding up too well. So, we got the opportunity to go back and remove and paint out any imperfections,” Jackson explains in a new video posted by Warner Bros. “I should make it clear: we didn’t upgrade or enhance any of the effects shots. They’re exactly the same as you’re used to seeing them, except they do look as if they were done today rather than 20 years ago.”

In doing so, he was also able to make both trilogies feel like one seamless unit, despite the fact that The Hobbit adaptations were shot years later and at a much higher frame rate. “They now feel like it’s one big, long film, telling the same story and looking and sounding the same,” Jackson added.

(15) CELEBRITY TSUNDOKU. “Dolly Parton Likes to Read by the Fire in Her Pajamas” according to the New York Times Book Review. Some of what she reads is sff!

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of? 

Not enough folks know what a great book “Kindred,” by Octavia E. Butler, is. It’s kind of tricky to describe but somehow it all works — it’s about race relations and there’s time travel and romance. It’s powerful.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid? 

I love historical fiction with a touch of romance — writers like Lee Smith or Diana Gabaldon. I avoid horror.

(16) WERE YOU INVITED TO THE FUNERAL? Colin Broadmoor claims “The Future Died in 1999” at Blood Knife.

The future died in 1999. Ever since, we’ve been trapped in the eternal present—waiting for the other shoe to drop.

For two decades, we’ve fought the same wars, watched the police murder the same people, voted for the same duopoly, and paid for the same IPs in books, movies, and video games. I’m typing this at the close of A.D. 2020—the year I waited for all my life, the way some Christians wait for the Second Coming.

2020, the year forever associated with media like R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk 2020 (2nd ed., 1992). Each day I wake in 2020 and look around to see myself surrounded by the ash and shadows of the spent neon future of my youth.

For those of you who were not there or don’t remember, it’s difficult to explain the ways in which the 1990s were different from today. There are two key aspects of that final decade of the 20th century that you must keep in mind:

  1. It was the last decade in the West in which the analog took precedence over the digital in all fields.
  2. People felt as if we were witnessing the first rays of a 21st-century dawn, one that promised humanity better living through technology.

(17) A REASON FOR THIS SEASON. Several versions of this holiday tree decoration are for sale — no wonder! The 2020 LED Flickering Dumpster Fire.

[Thanks to Cliff, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, R.S. Benedict, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]

SFF Award Celebrating Inclusivity Seeks Project Manager

“Would you like to run the Rivers of London/Unpublished Writers of Colour award?” asks Ben Aaronovitch. The Rivers of London author is the award’s sponsor.

Once a project manager has been picked, the Gollancz Rivers of London BAME SFF Award, given for the first time in 2020, will be getting a new name, too.

The part time project manager position pays £5075 flat fee for 29 days work across one year. Full requirements and details about how apply are here. Applications close November 30.

Here is the job description:

Science Fiction & Fantasy Award for unpublished Writers of Colour – 2021

Project manager Job description and person specification

Job Overview

We are seeking to hire an experienced part-time freelance Project Manager to develop and deliver a new award for unpublished Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Colour. year, eight unpublished writers received prize money totalling £10,000 (£4000 winner; £2000 runner up; £800 x 6 shortlisted) and mentoring. The Project Manager will be responsible for overseeing the renaming of the award, partnership building, management of and reporting to the project team, advisory group and judging panel, and the timely delivery and evaluation of the 2021 award.

The award is sponsored by Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Rivers of London series, and administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity. The Project Manager will be managed by Andy Ryan, chief executive of Cityread, and Anne Hall, PA to Ben Aaronovitch.

Click for more info and how to apply. Closing date: 5pm, 30 November 2020.

Gollancz Announces BAME SFF Award Shortlist

Gollancz and Ben Aaronovitch announced the eight shortlisted titles for the inaugural Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award on May 7.

The award was launched in October 2019 when Gollancz, the UK’s oldest sff imprint, teamed up with bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, who founded and funded the award, to champion under-represented voices in science fiction, fantasy and horror after stats showed less than 1% of the genres’ books come from British BAME authors. (BAME is used in the UK to refer to black, Asian and minority ethnic people.)

The shortlisted stories are:

  • “Blood of the Wolf” by Jaya Martin
  • “Kali’s Call” by Dolly Garland
  • “Nowhere more Changeable than the Mortal Heart” by Ewen Ma
  • “Seeds of Heaven” by Victor Ogana
  • “The Principles of Moments” by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson
  • “The Reeves’ Guild” by Kyla Jardine
  • “The Scent of Cloves” by Dan Buchanan
  • “The Shape of the World” by Amy Borg

There were 220 entries for the prize. The shortlist will be judged by actress Adjoa Andoh, New York Times bestselling author Dhonielle Clayton, founder of Illumicrate subscription box Daphne Tonge, Gollancz’s senior commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom and Abi Fellows, literary agent at The Good Agency.

The prizes include:

  • £4,000 for the overall winner alongside a critique and year-long mentoring programme with Gollancz commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom.
  • Second place: £2,000 and a critique of their work
  • Five runners-up will receive £800 and a Gollancz goodie bag.

Nielsen’s results for science fiction and fantasy published in 2019 show almost double the amount of BAME British authors published in this genre but as the numbers were so small to start with, this only increases the authors represented from five to nine. These include authors such as: Tade Thompson, whose book Rosewater won 2019’s Clarke Award; physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili with Sunfall, his first foray into sci-fi; and the second book from Zen Cho, who has won both the British Fantasy Award and a Hugo Award. Even with this increase, BAME authors are still less than 3% of British authors published in sci-fi and fantasy, lagging far behind the representation of authors of colour in the American market.

The winner and runners up will be announced at a ceremony in July, details to be confirmed.

Pixel Scroll 5/4/20 Sufficiently Advanced Scrolls Are Indistinguishable From Pixels

(1) MURDERBOT READING TOMORROW. The New York Review of Books will host online a “Martha Wells Book Launch Party” on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. EDT

On the eagerly awaited occasion of the publication of “Network Effect,” Martha Wells’ fifth “Murderbot” story and the first full-length novel in the series, Ms. Wells will read from her work and then be interviewed by guest host/curator Amy Goldschlager.

(2) SHUFFLE AND REDEAL. At the Wild Cards blog, Bradley Denton thinks it’s time for Howard Waldrop to tell the current generation all about how “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway” (which I think of as “Jetboy’s Last Adventure”) became the series’ origin story — “Fifty Minutes Over Manchaca (now Menchaca) Road!”

…HW:  Of course!  And another is – You’ll recall in “The Annotated Jetboy,” where I talk about Danny Deck writing the biography of Jetboy?  Danny Deck is the hero of Larry McMurtry’s novel All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers.  And of course he writes Godot Is My Co-Pilot: A Life of Jetboy.

…Anyway, I was gonna do the Jetboy story about the A-bomb for Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and either Lew or Bud (sf authors Lewis Shiner and Walton “Bud” Simons, both Austin-based at the time, like Howard), I can’t remember which, said, “You should talk to George.  George and that bunch in New Mexico have been playing a superhero role-playing game, and they’ve spent so much time and money on it that they’re trying to find a way to turn it into a book.  You oughta tell him about this Jetboy thing, because it sounds like something that would fit in there.”  If it was Lew I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Bud, and if it was Bud I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Lew.  One or the other of ‘em knew more about it than the other one did, right?

See, I didn’t even know about this.  George hadn’t mentioned it to me in a letter or anything.  So I wrote to George, and I said, “I’ve got a story that might fit with whatever goddamn thing you’re doing.  You should tell me about it.”

So he sent me the prototype Cut and Shuffle, which was all about what was going on in the Wild Cards world before anyone else even knew what it was.  And I said, “Yeah, that sounds about right, I can work with that.  But your timeline is all wrong.”  See, they were gonna start it in the 1980s, with the world having gone on for thirty years.

BD:  Oh, so they weren’t initially going to do an origin story?  They were going to jump into the world of Wild Cards three decades on?

HW:  Right, exactly.  I said, “That’s all wrong!  You gotta tell how all this came about!”  So I got them to tell me all the stuff about Dr. Tachyon, and the virus, and the whole thing, y’know.  And I stuck it sideways into the Jetboy/A-bomb story, and sent it to George.

And of course George says, “When we send you stuff, you should read it!  You got all this stuff wrong!”  I said, “Ah, that’s your job!  You can fix that!”

(3) ANIMAL CROSSING BANK FRAUD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a front-page article by Leo Lewis and Robin Wigglesworth in the April 29 Financial Times.

“Savers at Nintendo’s the Bank of Nook are being driven to speculate on turnips and tarantulas, as the most popular video game of the coronavirus era mimics central bankers by making steep cuts in interest rates…

The estimate 12m players of the Japanese gaming group’s cartoon fantasy ANIMAL CROSSING were informed last week about the move, in which the Bank of Nook slashed the interest on savings from 0.5 percent to just 0.05 percent: 1,9m bells, the in-game currency, can be bought online for about $1…

…It did not take long, however, for players to spot that they could defraud the game’s bank by depositing large sums in savings accounts and then ‘time travelling’ by tweaking the console’s internal clock.  The bank duly paid decades of interest, making rapid bell millionaires.  People familiar with the practice said the Bank of Nook rate cut was an effort to curb the practice.  Nintendo has made no official comment on the matter.”

(4) LATER THAN TWILIGHT. It’s official. When the countdown ended, this was the news, says the New York Times — “Stephenie Meyer to Publish a New ‘Twilight’ Book, ‘Midnight Sun’”.

Fans of Edward Cullen, the brooding vampire hero from Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling “Twilight” series, will have something fresh to bite into this summer.

Ms. Meyer announced on Monday that “Midnight Sun,” the new novel in her vampire romance series, will be published on Aug. 4, more than a decade after the original story concluded.

“I thought seriously about delaying this announcement until things were back to normal,” Ms. Meyer said in a statement. “However, that felt wrong, considering how long those who are eager for this book have already waited.”…

(5) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. There is a new free online workshop with instructors Orson Scott Card, Tim Powers, and David Farland: “The Writers Of The Future Online Workshop”

This free intermediate level writing course includes essays, practicals, and 13 video presentations featuring Writers of the Future judges: David Farland, Tim Powers, and Orson Scott Card.

By the end of the workshop, you should have a short story completed. If you are qualified (see the rules here), you can enter your story in the Writers of the Future Contest. The twelve annual winners will be flown out to Hollywood for the week-long live workshop with a full roster of Contest judges and publishing professionals teaching as well as giving you their advice on how to make it as professional writers.

Enter your email address to start the course. You will also receive Writers of the Future newsletters with writing tips and special offers. You can unsubscribe at any time.

(6) 2020 PULITZER PRIZES. Columbia University today announced the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board.

There was no genre work among the winners, although 2020 Fiction winner Colson Whitehead has won before for the sff novel Underground Railraod (2017). Indeed, Whitehead now is just the fourth author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice. The others are Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner and John Updike. (The winners in journalism are at the link.)

LETTERS AND DRAMA

Fiction
“The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Drama
“A Strange Loop” by Michael R. Jackson

History
“Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America” by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)

Biography
“Sontag: Her Life and Work” by Benjamin Moser (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Poetry
“The Tradition” by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

General Nonfiction
“The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care” by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

and

“The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America” by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)

Music
“The Central Park Five” by Anthony Davis, premiered by Long Beach Opera on June 15, 2019

Special Citation
Ida B. Wells

(7) TODAY’S DAY.

“Star Trek Fan Says ‘Happy Holidays’ Instead of ‘May the Fourth Be With You’”. Grumpy Vulcan tells Hard Drive why.

While many people are observing May 4 as Star Wars Day by saying “may the fourth be with you,” local Star Trek fan Lisa Donnelly has opted to instead just say “happy holidays.”

“Star Wars doesn’t have a monopoly on holidays that take place on May 4, you know,” said Donnelly. “There’s National Bird Day, Latvian Independence Day, and one of the non-canonical dates for Star Trek’s Federation Day is right around the corner on May 8. Those days deserve just as much recognition as some manufactured holiday celebrating a science fantasy movie series for kids.”….

And how did it all begin? According to TimeAndDate.com

The origin of the phrase is thought to date back to May 4, 1979. On this day, Conservatives in the United Kingdom published a newspaper advertisement to congratulate their candidate, Margaret Thatcher, for taking the Prime Minister’s office. The advertisement said “May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations”.

(8) NEW STAR WARS MOVIE. Naturally, this is also the logical day for announcing the franchise’s new project. Lisa Richwine, in the Yahoo! News story “Taika Waititi to direct and co-write a new ‘Star Wars’ movie with ‘1917’ screenwriter” says that Disney announced a bunch of Star Wars-related projects on StarWars Day, most notably that Taika Waititi will direct a new Star Wars and co-write it with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, nominated for an Oscar for her work on 1917.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 4, 1962 — The Twilight Zone aired “The Dummy”. It was written by: Rod Serling from an unpublished story by Lee Polk. It was directed by Abner Biberman and produced by Buck Houghton. It starred Cliff Robertson, Frank Sutton and George Murdock.  An average ventriloquist finds he has a not-so-average and quite horrifying dummy. The plot here would later influence many other series including Batman: The Animated Series with their own terrifying animated apparent dummy. 

You’re watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet ‘Willie.’ In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 4, 1909 Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula-like figure, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull faced Bombers and fInally the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
  • Born May 4, 1913 John Broome. DC writer during the Golden Age. He’s responsible for the creation of an amazing number of characters including The Phantom Stranger, Per Degaton (with artist Irwin Hansen), Captain Comet and Elongated Man (with Carmine Infantino), Atomic Knight and one of my favorite characters, Detective Chimp. DCUniverse streaming app has his work on The Flash starting on issue #133 and the entire early Fifities run of Mystery in Space that he wrote as well. (Died 1999.)
  • Born May 4, 1920 Phyllis Miller. She co-wrote several children’s books with Andre Norton, House of Shadows and Seven Spells to SundayRide the Green Dragon, a mystery, is at best genre adjacent but it too was done with Norton. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 4, 1942 CN Manlove, 78. His major work is Modern Fantasy: Five Studies which compares the work of Kingsley, MacDonald, Lewis, Tolkien and Peake. Other works include Science Fiction: Ten Explorations, The Impulse of Fantasy Literature and From Alice to Harry Potter: Children’s Fantasy in England.
  • Born May 4, 1943 Erwin Strauss, 77. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of early cons and published an APA, the Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Tell me about him. 
  • Born May 4, 1956 Murray McArthur, 63. He first shows on Doctor Who in “The Girl Who Died”, a Twelfth Doctor story before being The Broken Man on The Game of Thrones. He also shows up as a stagehand in the historical drama Finding Neverland before playing Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Born May 4, 1914 James Bacon. He was in all five films in the Planet of the Apes franchise, the only actor to do so. He portrayed an ape in each of the films with the exception of Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which he played a human, General Faulkner. This was the only film of the ‘Ape’ series in which he was credited. He also showed in Roddenberry’s Planet Earth as Partha. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 4, 1977 Gail Carriger, 43. Ahhhh such lovely mannerpunk she writes! I think I first noticed her with the start of the Finishing School series which she started off with Etiquette & Espionage some six years ago. Moirai Cook does a delightful job of the audiobooks so I recommend that you check them out. I also love the two novellas in her Supernatural Society series as well. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater has a terrific gag for May the Fourth.
  • Heathcliff isn’t really that funny, however, it does use a gagline drawn from the same source as one of our File 770 mottos.
  • Pearls Before Swine considers the possibility that the lockdown results in people reading more, and better, books.

(12) RIVERS COMING TO A CHANNEL NEAR YOU. For the many Filers who are fans of the series — “Stolen Picture Options Television Rights To Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers Of London”.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg’s UK-based production company, Stolen Picture, has optioned the rights to Ben Aaronovitch’s best-selling novel series Rivers of London.

Aaronovitch is currently working on the adaption of the first novel, also named Rivers of London. He will also serve as an Executive Producer on the series alongside Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Stolen Picture CEO, Miles Ketley. 

A Sunday Times best-seller, Rivers of London was first published in 2011, earning Aaronovitch a nomination in the New Writer of The Year category at the National Book Awards in 2011 and has spawned a popular graphic novel series. Each subsequent novel has also charted in the Sunday Times Top Ten Best-Seller list.

The crime/supernatural crossover follows the adventures of Peter Grant, a young mixed race police officer who, following an encounter with a ghost finds himself working for The Folly, a secret Scotland Yard department that deals with supernatural crime. The Times described Rivers of London as “an incredibly fast-moving magical joyride for grown-ups”.The Rivers of London franchise has been published in more than 15 languages and, to date, has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.

“Nick Frost and Simon Pegg asked me if I wanted to make Rivers of London with them – you think I was going to say no? Stolen Picture have a reputation for making creator led TV with the minimum of corporate bollocks and the maximum of fun. It’s an opportunity I would be bonkers to say no to” says Ben Aaronovitch.

(13) BITING THE SCENERY. Entertainment Weekly invites fans to “See first look at Mark Hamill embracing the dark side as vampire in What We Do in the Shadows”. Photo at the link.

[Mark] Hamill will portray an ancient vampire in Jemaine Clement‘s FX series What We Do in the Shadows and EW has your first look at the character — fangs and all. The episode titled “On the Run,” set to air May 13, will introduce a vengeful enemy from Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) past who appears without warning to settle a personal debt. This causes Laszlo to flee his home and go into hiding.

(14) A HEEP OF TROUBLE. Did Paul Weimer have great expectations for this novel? “Microreview [Book]: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry” at Nerds of a Feather.

…I should be clear and up front about something: I may be a somewhat biased reviewer in a regard, but not in the way that you might think. You see, good reader, I am a relation but not a direct descendant of Charles Dickens, so that a novel where his literary creation escapes into the real world was and is always one I would be extremely interested in. I’ve read and been interested in Dickens’ work from a young age. His work has always been part of my life.

I can happily report that this novel is extremely literate and considerate with the work of Dickens, what it means and where it comes from. The novel feels like the author’s own coming to terms with Dickens’ work in a real and palpable way, as well as Victoriana and Edwardiana in a real and palpable way.

(15) GEEKS IN ACADEME. “Top 10 Fictional Schools– Geek Culture Countdown Podcast!” – a list from 2019. These are all drawn from sff works, even though “Pop Culture” covers more territory than that.

Susan and Kitty are schooling you on the Top 10 Fictional Schools in pop culture. From prestigious prep academies to borderline lethal boarding schools, which esteemed educational institutions will make the grade?

For example —

2. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters

Located at 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester County, New York, this school for mutants has gone by many names- Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Youngsters, the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, X-Haven, and most currently the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach.

This school provides a safe place for young mutants to receive education both in traditional schooling and also the control and understanding of their powers. Kitty Pryde is currently the headmistress. The school motto is “Mutatis Mutandis” meaning “once the necessary changes have been made”.

(16) WHY PROTECTING MOSQUITOS IS A GOOD IDEA. BBC has the answer — “Malaria ‘completely stopped’ by microbe”.

Scientists have discovered a microbe that completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria.

The team in Kenya and the UK say the finding has “enormous potential” to control the disease.

Malaria is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes, so protecting them could in turn protect people.

The researchers are now investigating whether they can release infected mosquitoes into the wild, or use spores to suppress the disease.

…”The data we have so far suggest it is 100% blockage, it’s a very severe blockage of malaria,” Dr Jeremy Herren, from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya told the BBC.

He added: “It will come as a quite a surprise. I think people will find that a real big breakthrough.”

(17) USE THE FORK, LUKE. Or the blowtorch. Do something to save us.  “General Mills Is Releasing A ‘Star Wars’ Cereal With Baby Yoda-Shaped Marshmallows” – the Best Products blog has the story.

…General Mills took to Instagram to reveal its newest creation. As described on the packaging, the cereal consists of sweetened corn puffs with marshmallows. All of the green marshmallows are in the shape of The Child’s head, which is reason enough to give this bite a shot, if you ask us.

[Thanks to JJ, Darrah Chavey, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]