By John Hertz: (reprinted in part from No Direction Home 19) Over the weekend Columbus, Ohio, won its bid to hold the 2020 NASFiC. Sit enim sit bonum omen (Latin; “Let it be a good omen”). This is the 125th birth-anniversary year of Columbus boy James Thurber (1894-1961; December 8th). His name still is on many lips. Try The Seal in the Bedroom (1932); The Thurber Carnival (1945; Broadway revue, 1960).
The NASFiC (North America Science Fiction Convention) is held – since 1975 – when the World Science Fiction Convention is outside North America (Section 4.8, Constitution of the World Science Fiction Society).
The 2019 Worldcon will be August 15-19 at Dublin, Republic of Ireland; the 77th Worldcon. The 2019 NASFiC was July 4-7 at Layton, Utah; the 13th NASFiC.
Layton first won its bid to hold Westercon LXXII (annual West Coast – but it can be anywhere in North America west of the 104th West Meridian [or in the State of Hawaii], Section 3.1, Westercon Bylaws – Science Fantasy Conference); then won a bid to hold the NASFiC concurrently.
These two general-interest SF cons were then joined by two special-interest cons, the annual 1632 Minicon (fans of Eric Flint’s 1632 series) and the annual Manticon (fans of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, with its Royal Manticoran Navy — i.e. Space Navy).
The four-con combination was called Spikecon, for the Final Spike completing the Transcontinental Railroad, driven 150 years ago (10 May 1869) at Promontory, Utah, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the con site.
The 26th Worldcon was combined with Westercon XXI. We’d never combined a Westercon and a NASFiC before. Recall Ben Yalow’s apothegm (there’s reason to spell it apophthegm, but this is complicated enough) “Running a Worldcon is impossible. Running a NASFiC is harder.”
The 2020 Worldcon will be at Wellington, New Zealand. So Spikecon administered voting for the 2020 NASFiC.
Minneapolis in ’73 and Peggy Rae’s House each got 1 write-in vote, which I’ll tell you all about some other time.
I’d started reading Thurber long before I got around to The Thurb Revolution (A. Panshin, 1968; note that Kevin Roche, who chaired the 76th Worldcon, won an award as Torve the Trog in the Masquerade at Costume-Con III, 1985). I’m not aware that Thurber wrote science fiction. He did write fantasy. I recommend The 13 Clocks (1950). Marc Simont did the illustrations.
Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke…. His hands were as cold as his smile and almost as cold as his heart…. His nights were spent in evil dreams, and his days were given to wicked schemes …. impossible feats for the suitors of Saralinda to perform…. to cut a slice of moon, or to change the ocean into wine…. finding things that never were, and building things that could not be….
….a prince, disguised as a minstrel, came singing to the town that lay below the castle…. weary of rich attire and banquets and tournaments … to find in a far land the maiden of his dreams….
“The Duke….” a tosspot gurgled…. “breaks up minstrels in his soup, like crackers.”
The minstrel began to sing again. A soft finger touched his shoulder and he turned to see a little man smiling in the moonlight. He wore an indescribable hat, his eyes were wide and astonished, as if everything were happening for the first time…. “I am the Golux,” said the Golux, proudly, “the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device…. I resemble only half the things I say I don’t…. The other half resemble me…. Half the places I have been to, never were. I make things up. Half the things I say are there cannot be found….
“The Duke prepares to feed you to his geese…. We must invent a tale to stay his hand…. to make the Duke believe that slaying you would light a light in someone else’s heart. He hates a light in people’s hearts….”
The iron guards of the Duke closed in…. There was a clang and clanking.
“Do not arrest my friend,” the youth implored.
“What friend?” the captain growled.
The minstrel looked around him and about, but there was no one…. A guard guffawed and said, “Maybe he’s seen the Golux.”
“There isn’t any Golux. I have been to school, and know,” the captain said.
Neil Gaiman said “This book is probably the best book in the world. And if it’s not the best book, then it’s still very much like nothing anyone has ever seen before.” But what does he know?
NASA has redesignated its Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in honor of the West Virginia native and NASA “hidden figure.”
“I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It’s a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor.”
… Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers led her to a distinguished career — spanning more than three decades — with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Among her professional accomplishments, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission in 1961. The following year, Johnson performed the work for which she would become best known when she was asked to verify the results made by electronic computers to calculate the orbit for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission. She went on to provide calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for several Apollo missions.
At a time when racial segregation was prevalent throughout the southern United States, Johnson and fellow African American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — who was later promoted to engineer — broke through racial barriers to achieve success in their careers at NASA and helped pave the way for the diversity that currently extends across all levels of agency’s workforce and leadership. Their story became the basis of the 2017 film “Hidden Figures,” based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.
(2) THE ART OF SIGNING. CoNZealand (2020 Worldcon) GoH Larry Dixon shares some wisdom in a Twitter thread that begins here.
…I’m acquainted with Cristiane Serruya. She was part of the Kindle Scout program, having won an advance, 50% royalties, and publication for at least one of her works from Amazon’s imprint Kindle Press. Two of my books are also in the program. We chatted numerous times on the Kindle Scout Winners Facebook group and we even traded critiques. She read the first two books in my Masked Man of Cairo mystery series and I read Damaged Love, which turns out to contain plagiarized passages too. At the time I was surprised she would want me to be a beta reader on a romance novel, a genre she knew I didn’t read and knew nothing about. Now I know why.
…It’s true that some unscrupulous people are hiring teams of underpaid ghostwriters to churn out dreck in order to game Amazon’s algorithms, which tilt in favor of newly publishing titles and prolific authors.
Unfortunately, professional ghostwriters like me are being lumped in with the hacks. There is a place for a professional ghostwriter in indie publishing, and it is a valid one.
Ghostwriting has been around since the days of the dime novel. It was strong throughout the pulp era and the post-war paperback boom. In the modern world, house names such as Don Pendleton (The Executioner) and Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew) have been used by pools of ghostwriters to make some of the most popular series around.
Ghostwriting is my day job. To date, I have ghostwritten 18 novels, 7 novellas, and one short story for various clients, and am currently contracted for another series of novels. The clients are generally independent publishers who put out work under a variety of pen names. I get one or two pen names, and other ghostwriters get other ones. Thus each pen name keeps the specific tone of a particular writer. I have worked for one guy who used several ghostwriters writing for the same house name, but we all were given strict instructions as to tone, style, etc. None of my clients put their real name on their books, and all of them were looking for quality work….
(4) UP THE AMAZON. Nora
Roberts expands on what she’s been learning about the environment for indie
authors at Amazon: “Let Me Address This”.
A Broken System.Then came the scammers, and with the methods discussed in previous blogs, who flooded the market with 99 cent books. What a bargain! Readers couldn’t know these books were stolen or copied or written by ghostfarms. Couldn’t know about the clickfarms, the scam reviews.
At this price, the author receives only 30% (there’s a price point cut off on royalty rate). So all those out of pocket expenses may or may not be covered.
The legit indie saw her sales suffer, her numbers tank, her placement on lists vanish. To try to compete, many had to struggle to write faster, to heavily discount their work. Some had to give up writing altogether.
One other scamming method is to list a book–forever–as free. Not as a promotion, or incentive, but to toss up hordes or free books, so the reader wants–and often demands–free. They make their money off the scores of cheap and stolen books, and destroy the legit writer. Why pay when there are scores of free books at your fingertips?
(6) FANHISTORY. Here’s a link to Archive.org footage from the 1975 Star Trek convention in New York. William Shatner’s appearance takes up the first few minutes – you can see Ben Yalow among his escorts at the 30-second mark. The latter half of the film shows a woman in front of art show panels – I think I should recognize her, but I can’t come up with a name. Maybe you can. [Update: Adrienne Martine-Barnes, maybe?] [Now identified as Jacqueline Lichtenberg.]
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
On November 1, 1884 Bat Masterson published his first newspaper article in Dodge City. The newspaper was called Vox Populi.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 24, 1786 — Wilhelm Grimm. Here for two reasons, the first being the he and his brother were the first to systematically collect folktales from the peasantry of any European culture and write them down. Second is that the number of genre novels and short stories that used the Grimms’ Fairy Tales as their source for source material is, well, if not infinite certainly a really high number. I’d wager that even taking just those stories in Snow White, Blood Red series that Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow co-edited would get quite a number based the tales collected by these bothers. (Died 1859.)
Born February 24, 1909 — August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not like), not to overlook being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.)
Born February 24, 1933 — Verlyn Flieger, 86. Well known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World, A Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a VA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories.
Born February 24, 1942 — Sam J. Lundwall, 77. Swedish writer, translator and publisher. He first started writing for Häpna!, an SF Zine in the 50s. In the late 60s, he was a producer for Sveriges Radio and made a SF series. He published his book, Science Fiction: Från begynnelsen till våra dagar (Science Fiction: What It’s All About) which landed his first job as an SF Editor. After leaving that publisher in the 80s, he would start his own company, Sam J. Lundwall Fakta & Fantasi. Lundwall was also the editor of the science fiction magazine Jules Verne-Magasinet between 1972 and 2009. He has been active in fandom as he organised conventions in Stockholm six times in the 60s and 70s. And I see he’s written a number of novels, some released here, though not recently.
Born February 24, 1947 — Edward James Olmos, 72. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, but I see he was Eddie Holt In Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realise it as I skipped watching the entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. (I did try watching it, I gave up after maybe fifteen minutes. Shudder.) he has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the new Battlestar Galactica. He was made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka.
Born February 24, 1966 — Ben Miller, 53. He first shows up in our corner of things on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones in the “Daredevils of the Desert” episode as an unnamed French Officer. His main genre role was on Primeval, a series I highly recommend as a lot of fun, as James Lester. He later shows up as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a Twelfth Doctor episode entitled “Robot of Sherwood”.
Born February 24, 1968 — Martin Day, 51. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers.
…Then “Big Bang” executive producer and co-creator Bill Prady offered him the ideal role. Would he be interested in playing, well, Wil Wheaton . . . an evil Wil Wheaton?
“If they had actually wanted me to play myself, I don’t think I would have been interested,” he said. “First, it would have felt like a cheat. So what? Show up and be yourself? There’s no challenge in that. But when Bill said, ‘We want you to play an evil version of yourself,’ I immediately got and loved that idea.”
Westercon 72, NAFIC 2019, 1632 Minicon, and Manticon 2019 are together inviting submissions of academic papers for presentation at Spikecon to be held on July 4th-7th, 2019 in Layton, Utah. We are seeking 30 minute papers which raise the level of dialogue and discussion in the Science Fiction/Fantasy community and seek to empower fans as well as creators.
Topics of Interest Include:
Literary analysis/criticism of science fiction or fantasy works
including those of our Spikecon Guests of Honor
Historical events impacting science fiction and/or fantasy works
Let’s hear it for cleverness! Sometimes a few modest, well-thought-out ideas can add up to an artistic creation as impactful as — and even more appealing than — the weightiest projects. That’s the case with Chronin, Alison Wilgus’ new graphic novel. Like a miniaturist or scrimshaw engraver, Wilgus has a keen appreciation for the power of constraints. By setting careful limits on what her book will look like and what kind of story it will tell, she’s achieved an aesthetic balance that’s a thing of beauty in itself.
Chronin is lighthearted but not frivolous, simple but not simplistic. Since it’s set in 19th-century Japan, you could compare it to a netsuke: A tiny sculpture whose beauty lies in what it does with so little. Chronin’s narrative and visual themes are rather basic, but it explores them in a way that’s precise, insightful — and supremely clever.
Wilgus has experimented with artistic constraints before. A Stray in the Woods, published in 2013, originated as a Tumblr webcomic driven by suggestions from readers. And, of course, much of her work has been shaped by the will of her employers, including DC and the Cartoon Network. Plenty of creators try to blow the doors off with their first solo graphic novels, but Wilgus takes the opportunity to go small. Chronin’s story of a time-travel screw-up is familiar, even a bit of a chestnut. Protagonist Mirai Yoshida, a New York City college student in 2042, travels with some classmates back to 1864 Japan to conduct research. An accident leaves her trapped there, so she masquerades as a male — and as a member of the warrior class — for safety while she tries to figure out a way back.
I was skeptical about this award from the start, and I don’t think its history helps it. I’m really bothered by the way adding one short story to a very old series, for example, makes it again eligible (as with Earthsea, objectively by far the most worthy and influential eligible series, but does “Firelight”, beautiful as it absolutely is, really mean we should give it an award now?) Also, the endless parsing of “series” vs. “sub-series”. The way an award can be for, really, semi-random assemblages of related works. I could go on and on.
(15) TWEETING HISTORY. Myke Cole is running a giveaway, and has been retweeting some of the choicer quotes people are submitting. For example:
“The idea is to place enough backups in enough places around the solar system, on an ongoing basis, that our precious knowledge and biological heritage can never be lost,” the nonprofit’s co-founder Nova Spivack told [CNET] via email.
It should have been physically impossible. Millions of years ago, a white dwarf—the fading cinder of a sunlike star—was locked in a dizzying dance with a bright companion star. The two had circled each other for eons, connected by a bridge of gas that flowed from the companion onto the white dwarf allowing it to grow heavier and heavier until it could no longer support the extra weight. At this point, the white dwarf should have exploded—blowing itself to smithereens and producing a supernova that briefly shone brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way combined. Then once the supernova faded and the white dwarf’s innards were dispersed across the galaxy, there would quite literally be nothing left save for its companion star. But against all odds, the explosion did not fully rupture the white dwarf. Instead, it survived.
…Raddi’s team made these discoveries after combing through data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which is particularly well suited for finding high-speed stars—an important characteristic of ones like LP 40-365 (because a supernova explosion has the power to slingshot stars across the galaxy). Two are destined to escape the Milky Way entirely, and one is orbiting “backward” against the usual rotation of stars in our galaxy. Additionally they all boast large radii, presumably because they were puffed up by the extra energy they received from the failed explosion. And yet they possess relatively small masses, likely due to the loss of much of their material during the explosion. But perhaps the most compelling evidence these stars are supernova survivors is that they brim with heavier elements. Whereas typical white dwarfs comprise carbon and oxygen, these stars are mostly composed of neon. “That’s absurd,” Hermes says. “That’s like some barroom beer sign just flying through the galaxy.” The stars’ second-most common element is oxygen, followed by a sprinkling of even heavier elements such as magnesium, sodium and aluminum. “This is about as weird as it gets,” Hermes says…
(18) IT’S A THEORY. Orville’s season 1 Rotten Tomatoes critics score was
23%. Season 2 is holding at 100%. Nerdrotic theorizes that the explanation is Disney’s purchase of
(19) BLADE RUNNER COMICS. Launching this summer, Titan Comics’ new Blade Runner 2019 series will be set
during the exact timeframe of the original Blade Runner film, and feature a (mostly) new set of
characters and situations.
Titan also confirmed that noted artist Andres
League Dark, Captain America)
will be joining acclaimed Blade
Runner 2049 screenwriter
Michael Green (Logan) and veteran collaborator Mike Johnson (Star Trek,
to breathe life into their all-new Blade Runner comic books.
In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I’ll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is “missing” if it is not listed. It’s just not one of the five examples that I chose.
Today, we look at the less legendary LLs in Superman’s life.
Unless you hate me and all that I stand for, you know that Superman has an inordinate amount of notable people in his life whose names are double Ls.
Names (etc.) mentioned in the 2-page article include:
Just like it did during the Golden Globes, HBO has released another mega-trailer featuring new footage from all of its new and returning shows airing this year. Of course, the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones was among the shows included in the tantalizing teaser.
[…] Game of Thrones Season 8 debuts on HBO Sunday, April 14. There’s no set premiere date for Watchmen just yet, but it will arrive sometime this year.
(22) FROM THE BEEB TO THE
BO. BBC released a trailer of His
Dark Materials, which will air on HBO in the U.S.
We’re keeping our daemons close. Here’s an early sneak peek of His Dark Materials. Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, Clarke Peters and Lin-Manuel Miranda star in this thrilling new series. Adaptation of Sir Philip Pullman’s acclaimed series of novels.
Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Your
Supreme Awesome Royal Majesty Highnessness JJ, John King
Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Voting for the location of the 2020 NASFiC and 2021
Westercon will be held at in July at Spikecon, which is the combined Westercon
72, 13th NASFiC (2019), and 1632 Minicon.
Spikecon’s Westercon/NASFiC site selection
administrator Ben Yalow has shared the latest procedural information:
Since this upcoming Westercon is also the NASFiC (since Dublin is non-NA, there was a NASFiC selected), then the WSFS and Westercon rules mean that since the 2020 Worldcon is also non-NA, there will be two site selections at this year’s Westercon/NASFiC. And, since a few deadlines have passed, we know a bit more about the races (which should be reported soon on the convention web site).
Columbus (OH) Only Filed 2020 NASFiC Bid: For the upcoming NASFiC race, there is only one bid filed, for Columbus, OH. The filing deadline has passed, so there will be no other bids on the printed ballot.
Westercon Bids Can Be Entered from Any Region: For the Westercon race for 2021, since no bids have filed before Jan 1, then the zone restrictions have been lifted, and all three of the Westercon zones are now eligible. So we’ll be taking bids from all of the Westercon region, not just North and South. The filing deadline for getting on the ballot is April 15.
There’s more information on the convention website about how to file, with links to the various Constitutions. As ballots are settled, they’ll also be on the convention web site, and in the various PRs (note that, as always, since the Westercon filing deadline is April 15, that ballot won’t be out until shortly after that date).
If there are questions on the rules, I’ll be glad to explain them, and help people with their filings.
[Facing]: Johan Anglemark, Mark Linneman, Eemeli Aro, Emma England. [Opposite] Paul Taylor, Ben Yalow, Kate Secor.
By James Bacon: (Chair of the Dublin in 2019 bid). I’m observing the postal vote process. The administrator and the team are assisted by members of the Dublin in 2019 team and committee, people from six countries are taking part. Walter Jon Williams has joined us for a few moments, as I look on. Neutral separators are handling and ensuring it’s all correctly managed. Worldcon 75 staff check against, their data and the level attention to detail and slow and steady methodical progress is taken seriously. The integrity of the procedure is impressive and I’m stunned at the knowledge of those here who deal with inevitable errors that may have occurred.
Here with me from the Dublin Team are Emma England, Ben Yalow and Paul Taylor. The bids are welcome and indeed expected to help and participate in the whole process, everything is run by volunteers, although this is something I have not done before and it feels like we are momentarily connected to people from far-flung places who want to participate in the decision-making process of who will get to host the Worldcon in 2019.
From Worldcon 75 there is Kate Secor, Michael Lee, Eemeli Aro, Mark Linneman and Johan Anglemark.
The large stack of envelopes is impressive and I’m allowed to photograph some of the stamps which I like. I love post and in many ways this is fabulous post.
Post has arrived at the US address from New Zealand, Germany, Canada and of course United States. The votes arriving at the Helsinki are even more varied with votes from Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, New Zealand, and Germany.
The process takes over two hours but the atmosphere is lovely and it’s an amazing thing to see the mechanics of this process which has existed in this form since 1983.
Science Fiction has permeated so much of our culture that some of the stamps used have particular relevance and make me smile.
More votes will be hand-carried and passed to the voting table from tomorrow and then of course everyone present here is entitled to vote.
‘Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced at a fundraiser Thursday night that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter would donate $1 million US to his charitable foundation, and comic book fans took to Twitter in reaction.’
Taral, who knows how fans think, says, “I can imagine a lot of Marvel readers and viewers being horrified and contemplating a boycott for almost 3/10s of a second before lining up to see Antman for the fourth time.”
Well, DC’s top superteam is returning to TV in the upcoming Justice League Action. The new series will star DC’s classic triad of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman along with rotating guest stars and its episodes will be 11 minutes long, similar to Teen Titans GO! Speaking of which, Justice League Action will be executive produced by Sam Register, who also producers Teen Titans GO!
…it’s set to feature the return of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Conroy and Hamill put their indelible stamps on Batman and The Joker in the original Batman: The Animated Series, but they’ve been phased out in recent years…. Both of them returning is a real treat for longtime fans of Warner Bros. Animation’s superhero cartoons. The show will also feature James Woods as Lex Luthor.
(4) THIS JOB AIN’T THAT EFFIN’ EASY! Fansided’s Leah Tedesco, who writes for Doctor Who Watch, tells what it’s like to face the forbidding temporal desert of a show’s hiatus in “Doctor Who: On Writing for a Fan Site”.
When you write for a fan site of a television program, the off season can be a particularly tricky period. Oh, there is a trickle of news, but the big stories are few and far between. Until Doctor Who returns with the 2016 Christmas special, we at Doctor Who Watch have been tasked with the challenging endeavor of continuing to generate at least the minimum number of articles each month for almost an entire new-episodeless year. I imagine that madness will soon ensue… well, more madness than is already involved.
(5) CAREER COUNSELING. At Black Gate, Violette Malan’s “You May Be A Writer” begins with a humorous hook —
Do you enjoy planning? When you want to give a party, do you start making lists? Thinking about the menu? Who to invite? When there’s a trip coming up, are there lists? Are you usually the first one packed? Or have you at least given considerable thought to your packing?
Is organizing an event almost more fun than the event itself? Then you may be a writer.
Do you think planning’s for squares? Do you decide at 6:00 pm to have a party and let people know via Twitter? Are you rushing through the airport at the last minute with your passport in one hand and a pair of (mismatched) socks in the other?
Are you all about the spontaneity? Seizing the moment? Then you may be a writer.
Of course, what I’m talking about here is process: every writer has one, and it’s likely to be different from yours, or mine.
Space.com: What’s the coolest technology you have developed for the series?
Franck: In the book series, when we were coming up with the visuals for the ships and stuff, I was talking to a guy I know who works out of Los Alamos Labs. I was talking to him about the fact that the primary weapon on our ships is railguns — those big, electromagnetically fired weapons. And he said you can extend the length of a railgun barrel [by blowing] this plasma out, and you run electricity through the plasma.
Space.com: I’ve read that the initial concept for the books was actually a video game. Is that right?
Ty Franck: The fleshed-out version of the idea started out as that. I’d had the idea before that, but when a friend of mine asked me to help her come up with a pitch for a video game is when I really sat down and put more flesh on the bones of this idea that I had. It existed before that, but it was sort of nebulous. The video game thing is what really kind of solidified it.
But as soon as they realized how expensive making an MMO [massively multiplayer online game] was, they sort of backed away quietly.
Space.com: What happened to the story next?
Franck: It went from a video game to a pen-and-paper RPG [role-playing game] setting because I wanted to keep playing around with it. And then Daniel did the rest.
Daniel Abraham: I was in Ty’s tabletop game, and I saw the amount of work that he’d done with the background and world building. And I’d written probably six or seven novels at that point, so my pitch was, “Look, you’ve already done all the hard work; let’s just write it down, and it’ll be a book.”
Raftery debuted his first filk song at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton before gafiating until 2000, when he attended FilkContinental. Following his reintroduction to fandom, Raftery became a regular at filk meet ups and was nominated for the Pegasus Award in 2007 for his role in the n’Early Music Consort.
Farah Mendelsohn credited his behind the scenes design work on Loncon3’s Exhibit Hall with enhancing accessibility:
If our accessibility was so good, it’s because Joe designed the corridors, the seating areas, the shapes of booths and the spaces between boards. We couldn’t have managed the intricacies of the exhibits without him.
He is survived by his wife Gwen Knighton Rafter and his children Anna Raftery and Emily January.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
January 29, 1845 — Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven was published.
(9) SPEAKER TO GENIUSES. Today Mad Genius Club featured “Hugo History – A Guest Post by Ben Yalow”. It’s fascinating to watch an accomplished fanpolitician at work, but — Why is Yalow working the Mad Genius Club? And he makes an interesting choice to discuss Hugo history as something “we” did — will MGC regulars feel included or excluded? Consider the way Yalow phrased the rules changes that produced the semiprozine category.
When it became clear that, during the late 70s, we had three fanzines whose circulation was many thousands, while most fanzines were having circulations in the low hundreds (when you’re printing and mailing physical fanzines, and generally they were available for free, there were real limits on circulation, depending on people’s budgets), we split out semiprozines, just to get them out of the fanzine category. And we tweaked the rules somewhat, so that there were more contenders than just the three that we moved out of fanzine; if it were only that, then semiprozine wouldn’t be a viable category. We were starting to see the beginnings of small run fiction magazines, and serious academic small circulation magazines, and the semiprozine rules put those into the new category, so it was a category offering reasonable choices.
(10) HAD ME GOING. It turns out Sigrid Ellis’ “Best Brussel Sprouts” post is a recipe, not an idea for a new Hugo category.
Okay, these are not the BEST Brussel sprouts. I am pretty sure the BEST ones are cooked with bacon. But these are pretty good.
This time we are looking at what are, for lack of a better term, the “nonfiction and institutional categories”: Best Related Work, Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine and Best Fancast. Now, those who follow this blog know how cranky I can get on the subject of certain categories and their bizarre eligibility guidelines–and we’ve got two of them today (Best Semiprozine and Best Fancast). Nevertheless, I will do my best to stay calm and stick to the rules, frustrating as they can be. I reserve the right, will, however, get a little snarky and passive-aggressive in the process.
The announcement that Hugo nominations are open (as well as the nominating periods for several other awards, such as the BSFA and the Nebula) is usually accompanied by authors putting up “award eligibility posts,” followed by a discussion of whether this is a good thing or whether it makes the entire process into a PR effort. I’ve already said my piece on this subject, so at the present I’ll just repeat what feels to me like the most important point from that essay, which is that my problem with award eligibility posts is less that they’re crass and commercialized, and more that for their stated purpose, they are utterly useless. I don’t want to trawl through an author’s blog history to find the list of works they published last year. What I want is a bibliography–easily found, up-to-date, and ideally sorted by publication date and containing links to works that are available online or for purchase as ebooks. If you haven’t got one of those on your website, I have to question how seriously you want my vote.
After spending most of 2015 – the period from April 4 until August 22 – being told I was an worthless hack writer and overall loser by the s-f literary establishment because I was a Sad Puppy nominee for the Hugo awards, I sometimes go and read my entry in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia by John Clute to remind myself I sometimes rise to the level of occasional competency:…
Gaming is a hugely popular category for video content on the internet. It’s why Amazon acquired the video game streaming platform Twitch for $1 billion, and why the most famous creator of “Let’s Play” videos Pewdiepie has the most popular channel on YouTube with 41 million subscribers. Basically, if Sony managed to register this “Let’s Play” trademark, the company would be in a good position to sue any YouTuber or Twitch streamer who used the term to promote their videos, even though the term has been commonly used in the gaming community for roughly a decade.
The USPTO said it would likely reject Sony’s application in its initial form, but gave Sony six months to address its concerns, namely that Sony’s application is too similar to an existing trademark called “LP Let’z Play.”
The Twitter-feed of Robert Jackson Bennett is a wondrous, but dangerous place to spend time. If you follow Robert in addition to another 1000 or so people, the normality and reason of the masses will likely dilute the strangeness and zaniness of Robert’s feed to the extent there will be no lasting damage or changes in personality from what you consume. If you spend time looking through Robert’s Tweets on a Tweet-by-Tweet basis though, as I was asked to do by Jo Fletcher Books for this feature, there may be some lasting damage…
Here is their comment about Bennett’s 2009 blog post “Finished.”
I love this blog post because, as someone who writes, it is a reminder that not everything you write is publishable or even good; in fact, ‘80% of your output will be unacceptable shit, even if you polish it.’ I’ve spoken before about my thoughts that too many novelists of 2016 are too quick to use Amazon direct publishing as an alternative to admitting their work isn’t ready to be published and that they need more practice. Robert’s ability to take the good and learn from it combined with a willingness to ‘toss the rest and start all over again’ is undoubtedly the reason his books have gotten better and better.
It’s interesting to note the book The Long Wake of which Robert says ‘I like it. I really like it a lot.’ has not been published yet (i.e. it became another, unexpected, learning experience). You can read about that here and here.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
The final painting of the Enterprise model will begin in April, using newly discovered reference photos from our appeal to Trek fans in the fall. The team will also build new nacelle domes with LED lights to mimic the spinning effect seen on television. For reference, they will first build a 1:1 mock-up of the original mechanism, which utilized mirrors, motors, nails, and Christmas lights. Conservator Ariel O’Connor explains, “Although the original nacelle dome lights did not survive, we can replicate the original effect in a way that is safe to install on the model. The LED lights can be programmed to match the original VFX footage while eliminating the burnt-out bulbs, extreme heat, and motor problems that troubled the original lights. It is a wonderful solution to re-light the nacelles while ensuring the model’s safety and longevity.”
(2) OCTAVIA BUTLER. Radio Imagination celebrates the life and work of Pasadena science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006). Organized by Los Angeles-based arts nonprofit Clockshop, the program centers on ten contemporary art and literary commissions that explore Butler’s archive at the Huntington Library. New work will premiere alongside performances, film screenings, and literary events throughout the year.
(3) THERE IS NO NUMBER THREE. The Guardian link to a news item about 500 new fairytales being discovered in a German archive proved to be infested with some kind of code that could not be seen with the text editing tools at my disposal, but overwrote the rest of the post with a busted survey question….! After deducing which entry was causing the problem, I chopped it out. And I’m ready to be done for the night!
(4) WALTON SEMINAR. Out of the Crooked Timber is hosting a “Jo Walton Seminar” using her books The Just City and The Philosopher Kings. (A third book in the sequence, Necessity, comes out in June).
One of the great appeals of the Thessaly series is the implicit invitation: join us in Socratic dialogue beneath the lemon tree, arguing practical philosophy with the best company from all of history. But I am not a philosopher king, and definitely not a Gold of the Just City. As evidence, between the first and second sentences of this paragraph, I took ten minutes to reassure a baby who’d pinched her finger in a dresser drawer. Over the past couple of days I’ve engaged in crafts and cleaning, cooking and political argument and snarky write-ups of old horror stories.
All of which speak to my soul, and all of which feel like part of The Good Life even if I sometimes wish the temporal ratios were different.
“It was the most real thing that had ever happened.” – Jo Walton, The Just City
Thanks to Jo Walton for writing an SF novel in which people, including a pair of gods, try to realize Plato’s Republic. (I’ve only read the first Thessaly novel, The Just City. So if what follows is premature? That sort of thing happens.)
This is an experimental novel. Succeed or fail, you learn from an experiment. But even well-constructed experiments can be failures. That’s the risk.
Logically such a thing should exist. A novelization of Plato’s Republic, I mean. How can no one have written this already? But can such a damn thing be written ? Surely it will fail as a novel, somewhat, at some point. But how? Only one way to find out.
So Walton’s literary endeavor might be said to parallel Athene’s serene, mortal-bothering, bookish Utopian progress, in the novel. Like Athene, Walton doesn’t crack a smile. (There are some cracks at the end – in Athene’s exterior – but let’s leave those out. Don’t want to spoil the ending.)
Walton’s work is a mash-up: of genres, most obviously, with elements of science fiction (time travel and robots), fantasy (gods), historical fiction (recreation of past society) and the novel of ideas – but also of temporalities. Time-travelling Athene gathers together a bunch of dedicated Platonists from across the following 2500-odd years, helps them collect children and works of art from a more restricted period (unaccountably, no one bothers collecting some Canova or Alma-Tadema), gives them some robots from the future for the heavy work, and dumps the whole lot back in the bronze age, where (in theory) they’re not going to disturb anyone else. In theory (again), this farrago will be held together by a shared dedication to the ideals of Plato’s Republic, whether voluntary (the generation of Masters brought together from across time and space) or instilled (the Children and their descendents). In practice…
One of the reasons this is a neat trick from the novelist’s point of view is that it side-steps most of the boring questions of authenticity that bedevil most fictional engagements with the classical world.
More to come from Ada Palmer, Leah Schnelbach, Sumana Harihareswara, and Crooked Timber bloggers Maria Farrell, Henry Farrell, and Belle Waring.
Crooked Timber’s past seminars on genre literature have been —
And in May 2015, Crooked Timber organized a seminar on the work of Ken MacLeod with contributions from Farah Mendlesohn, Cosma Shalizi, Sumana Harihareswara, Jo Walton, and Henry Farrell, with a response by Ken MacLeod.
(5) MINI INTEGRAL TREES. Have you seen the Air Bonsai?
Great if you’re wanting to recreate The Hallelujah Mountains from “Avatar” (or a Roger Dean painting) as a diorama.
(6) THE FUTURE IS BACK. Following years of waiting, the DeLorean car made memorable by Back to the Future has returned to production.
After more than 30 years, the DeLorean Motor Company will resume production of the iconic 1982 model DeLorean, made famous by the “Back to the Future” film trilogy.
The car company was previously prohibited from producing the famed model because the futuristic designs belonged to John DeLorean’s estate and not the auto business, which went bankrupt in 1982.
The company was revitalized by CEO Stephen Wynne and moved to Humble, Texas, in 1987. The company operated as a refurbishment facility, repairing and replacing parts for older DeLorean models for consumers around the world.
(7) ZICREE CLASS. Marc Scott Zicree, is running a one-day Supermentors Class – Life Lessons from Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury & Guillermo Del Toro.
Many of you know that with my books The Twilight Zone Companion and Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities and my friendship with Ray Bradbury, I’ve had some of the greatest mentors who ever worked in film, TV and books.
Life Lessons From Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury & Guillermo Del Toro — a One-Day Class I’ll be teaching Sunday, February 21st, both in person here in L.A. and via Skype and audio download, drawn from what I’ve learned from my great mentors. Just $99 (normally $199) if you sign up by the end of the month. Log onto www.paypal.com and indicate you want to pay firstname.lastname@example.org Here’s a video describing the class.
Like so many other Academy members who have a long history in the film industry, you are now punishing me for a lack of consistent employment, when it is beyond my own ability to cast myself or even find representation who can get me into the meetings and auditions these days for quality roles and films in the first place.
I have careers in music and writing and I chose to stay home for several years when my two children, who have both worked as actors in major studio feature films, were young. I don’t see why that should now render my vote unworthy.
I’m deeply saddened and disappointed by the actions the Academy has taken, without any discussion first amongst the members, to capitulate to a handful of whiners who threaten to “boycott” by not dressing up, walk the red carpet and sit in the audience because they feel the actors branch didn’t do our jobs of nominating candidates for Oscars this year to their personal satisfaction.
The nomination process is not racist. Surely you realize that members of the Academy don’t get together in clandestine meetings to discuss who they’re going to nominate or not nominate. Personally, I was shocked that neither Michael Caine or Harvey Keitel received a nomination for their excellent work in “Youth”, but I certainly don’t consider it a deliberate slight because they’re senior citizen Caucasians.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
January 28, 1813 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was published.
January 28, 1977 – Stephen King’s The Shining is published.
January 28, 1986 – The space shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after launch, killing all seven crew members: Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire high school teacher, Ronald McNair, Hughes Aircraft Co. satellite engineer Gregory Jarvis, commander Francis “Dick” Scobee, pilot Michael Smith, flight engineer Judy Resnik and Ellison Onizuka.
Soon afterwards, Ray Bradbury discussed the disaster with Nightline host Ted Koppel.
A memorial service was held today at the Kennedy Space Center. The “Time of Remembrance” will mark the 49th anniversary of the 1967 Apollo launch pad fire that killed Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on Jan. 27, 1967; the 30th anniversary of Challenger’s loss on Jan. 28, 1986; and the 13th anniversary of the Columbia shuttle disaster on Feb. 1, 2003, that killed commander Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, David Brown, Michael Anderson and Israeli flier Illan Ramon.
The “Arrow” cast knows how to make the best out of a bad situation. The snowstorm forced Heroes and Villains Fan Fest to cancel the Saturday portion of their event, but many people were already at hotels near the Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, New Jersey — including several celebrity guests. Cast members from “Arrow” and “The Flash” were nearby, so they didn’t let the snow stop them from meeting with fans.
In the afternoon, the stars wandered down to the lobbies of their hotels to meet their snowed in fans. John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn on “Arrow”) posted a video on Facebook with fans in his hotel and said that he and Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen on “Arrow”) were doing the same thing at separate hotels.
You may have seen a section in the credits of The Force Awakens titled “Additional Voices,” with some familiar names listed. But who or what did all those familiar names play? I’m happy to finally reveal everyone below, running through the film chronologically. (There are also a couple of actor cameos in there that shall remain nameless (for now).)
Gaiman said in a statement, “I’m thrilled that Ricky has been cast as Shadow. His auditions were remarkable. The process of taking a world out of the pages of a book, and putting it onto the screen has begun. ‘American Gods’ is, at its heart, a book about immigrants, and it seems perfectly appropriate that Shadow will, like so much else, be Coming to America. I’m delighted Ricky will get to embody Shadow. Now the fun starts.”
Towle, who produced replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles that sold for as much as $90,000 each, was sued in 2011 by DC, which claimed copyright and trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition.
[Thanks to Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Soon Lee, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]
At Sasquan’s Hugo Ceremony on August 22, the winners of several other significant awards were announced.
Ben Yalow in 2013. Photo by Lawrence Person.
Big Heart Award: Sue Francis presented the Big Heart Award for 2015 to Ben Yalow. (David A. Kyle, in charge of the award, did not attend.) Ben has since expanded his acceptance remarks and posted them on Facebook:
I’m thrilled and overwhelmed by the honor shown me with this Big Heart. I join an extraordinary list of people, and I feel amazed to be included with that group. And I’m even more amazed by the outpouring of support from all the people who made it clear this weekend that they think the honor was deserved. But it’s not really just me receiving this. It’s all the people who welcomed me into fandom 45 years ago, and continued to do so. And the wonderful people who I’ve worked with through all these years, who have taught me so much, and given me the honor of their wisdom and support through all these years. This Big Heart isn’t just to me — it’s to all of you who helped me to give back to the community, and to the community from which I’ve received so much. My fellow staff of fannish activities have shaped me, and rewarded me with their support and guidance throughout the years — and I owe them far more than the mere thanks I can give in a post like this. And, to all of you, I hope to continue to be able to give back what I can in the future, knowing that I’ve received far more than I can ever return.
First Fandom Awards for 2015: Steve Francis was emcee, presiding over the First Fandom Awards segment at the outset of the Hugo ceremony.
First Fandom Hall of Fame Award: John Hertz kindly accepted the award on behalf of Julian May. May chaired the Tenth World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago in 1952, and went on to a career writing sf, fantasy, horror and children’s fiction.
First Fandom Posthumous Hall of Fame
F. Orlin Tremaine
Sam Moskowitz Archive Award
David Aronovitz, “for excellence in collecting.”
Special Committee Award: The Sasquan committee presented a posthumous Special Committee Award to Jay Lake, which was accepted by his sister, Mary Elizabeth. She was accompanied onstage by Lake’s daughter, Bronwyn.
Peter de Jong recently found a set of 27 photos taken at a 1981 party for LunaCon GoH James White, the Irish sf writer, and has posted them here.
The party, organized by Moshe Feder, was held at de Jong’s apartment in midtown Manhattan. Feder says he does not know who took the pictures.
James White wears his famous Saint Fantony blazer in photo #1.
Fans identified in the photographs are: Norma Auer Adams, Larry Carmody, Ross Chamberlain, Alina Chu, Eli Cohen, Genny Dazzo, Peter de Jong, Moshe Feder, Chip Hitchcock, Lenny Kaye, Hope Leibowitz, Craig Miller, Andrew Porter, Stu Shiffman, James White, Jonathan White, Peggy White, and Ben Yalow.
(There is also an unnamed fan in photo #4 I recognize. She occasionally looks at this blog and I will happily add her name to this article if she grants permission.)
[Thanks to Moshe Feder and Andrew Porter for the story.]
Nobel laureate Dr. Rosalyn Yalow passed away May 30, the New York Times reported today. I want to offer my condolences to Ben Yalow, her son, who I’ve worked with on many convention committees over the years.
an extremely sensitive way to measure insulin and other hormones in the blood. The technique invigorated the field of endrocrinology, making possible major advances in diabetes research and in diagnosing and treating hormonal problems related to growth, thyroid function and fertility.
This discovery was one of many she made with Dr. Solomon Berson, her colleague who passed away in 1972:
With Dr. Berson, Dr. Yalow made other discoveries. Using radioimmunoassay, she determined that people with Type 2 diabetes produced more insulin than non-diabetics, providing early evidence that an inability to use insulin caused diabetes. Researchers in her lab at the Bronx veterans hospital modified radioimmunoassay to detect other hormones, vitamin B12 and the hepatitis B virus. The latter adaptation allowed blood banks to screen donated blood for the virus.
The commercial possibilities for RIA were enormous, but while Rosalyn Yalow and Berson recognised this, they refused to patent their method. Instead they made every effort to get RIA into common use, putting its scientific value ahead of their own financial interests.
Dr. Yalow had some limited contact with fandom, such as participating in the 1989 Worldcon program (Noreascon III). Either there or at another con, Isaac Asimov engaged her in debate about a question to do with radiation and later claimed victory in his memoir I, Asimov. However, Mark Olson, in his review of that book, denies that Asimov triumphed:
He grumps that he wasn’t able to convince her and comments that while they were both equally stubborn, he was right, and she was wrong! (And the really amusing part is that, as he describes the point at issue in his essay, he was almost certainly wrong, and in a fairly elementary way!)
The Official Royal Wedding website launched last week with promises to tell an eager world the latest developments in Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding plans.
I saw nothing on the website offering the faintest glimmer of hope that anyone from the sf community will attend the Royal Wedding on April 29. That’s just not right!
SF Crowsnest revealed last November that the bride-to-be is a Buffy fan. If that counts I volunteer Ben Yalow as our representative. He’s the biggest Buffy fan I know — and he does own a black tie.
But I don’t think we should put all our eggs in one basket.
So I challenged myself: Who do I know who could get me invited to the Royal Wedding?
The most famous Englishman I know is Dave Langford. Dave is a literary lion. What’s more, Sir Terry Pratchett sends him news for Ansible and we know Sir Terry’s met the Queen at least once. Unfortunately, Dave answered that he didn’t think he could be much help:
[My] kind of extremely limited fame doesn’t translate into any kind of influence in the British establishment, but then I don’t suppose Terry’s encounter with the Queen helps either. (He’s not the only one in the UK sf community — Chris Priest has been to at least one Buckingham Palace garden party, I think as a reward for services to the Society of Authors, and I’d be surprised if Brian Aldiss hadn’t done the same at some stage.)
Probably best to blackmail a Tory of at least junior-minister rank, or a member of the Palace protocol staff. I assume that quickly marrying a close relative of bride or groom would be inconvenient since you’re already spoken for.
You’re quite right, Dave, that would be tough to arrange between now and April 29.
I think my next inquiry will be to sf author and composer Somtow Sucharitkul, who is himself related to Thai royalty, as it says in his bio:
In 1999, he was commissioned to compose… Madana, inspired by a fairytale-like play written by King Rama VI of Siam and dedicated to his wife, Queen Indrasaksachi, who was also the composer’s great-aunt.
If I hear back from him I’ll be surprised report further.