(1) VARLEY MEDICAL UPDATE. R. Graeme Cameron relayed a report that John Varley’s heart bypass surgery today was successful.
Spider Robinson just dropped quickly in and out of my Monday fannish zoom meet to inform me that “Herb” John Varley’s heart operation went well, no complications, and they’ll be keeping him for five days to monitor recovery, then let him go home. Spider very relieved. Operation successful.
And according to Andrew Porter, “Varley’s partner Lee Emmett reports that he has successfully undergone a quadruple bypass and is in the ICU; he will be in the hospital for the next five days/”
(2) A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS. Mark Lawrence illustrates the limited effectiveness of an endorsement on a bookcover from a bestselling author by showing his own frustrated efforts to get attention from the many people who have already signed up for news about his work: “The Extraordinary Struggle to be Heard”.
…I’m a fairly popular author. People pay MONEY to read my books. Enough so that I can live off the proceeds. You would think this would mean that, when I offer my writing for free, people would jump on it. At least some of them. I’ve sold nearly two million books and must have hundreds of thousands of readers. So how many do you think would try on my recommendation not somebody they’ve never heard of but me: Marky?
On Wattpad I’ve been putting out chapters of a book I started writing called Jacob’s Ladder. I think it’s good. I’ve been alerting the 9,830 people who follow/friend me on Facebook to each chapter as it’s posted. I’ve also been posting about them to the 7,506 members of the Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers group on Facebook where I’m reasonably popular.
I also have 2,815 followers on Wattpad itself who get alerts when I post the chapters. And I’ve tweeted about each chapter to my 28,600 followers on Twitter. And I’ve blogged on Goodreads about it where I have 48,029 followers.
I posted chapter 5 two days ago and it’s had 21 views (which are not necessarily reads) at least one of which was me.
All of which I throw out there to demonstrate how ridiculously hard it is to be heard and to have that audience act.
Now, new authors, consider how much of an impact the weeks this slow reader spends reading your book will have on your sales when condensed into a line on the cover…
(3) NYRSF READINGS THIS WEEK. Charles Yu will be on The New York Review of Books Readings livestream tomorrow, February 23.
CHARLES YU is the author of four books, including his latest, Interior Chinatown, which won the National Book Award for Fiction and was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. He has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the HBO series Westworld, and has also written for shows on FX, AMC, Facebook Watch, and Adult Swim. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in a number of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, and Harper’s. You can find him on Twitter @charles_yu.
The live event *should* be on https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings and Jim Freund’s timeline, and you *should* (that word again) be able to join on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/JimFreund
(4) YU CREATIVE WRITING AWARD. “Charles Yu establishes prize for young Taiwanese American creative writers” reports TaiwaneseAmerican.org. Submissions may be in any literary genre. Prior to his winning a National Book Award for his literary awork Interior Chinatown, Yu also wrote sff, such as How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010), and served as the Guest Editor for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017. [Via Locus Online.]
TaiwaneseAmerican.org is pleased to announce the inaugural Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes. Created in collaboration with Taiwanese American author Charles Yu, the Prizes are intended to encourage and recognize creative literary work by Taiwanese American high school and college students, and to foster discussion and community around such work.
Submissions may be in any literary genre including fiction, poetry, personal essays or other creative non-fiction. Submissions must be sent via Google Form and must be received by March 31, 2021 at 11:59PM PT. In order to be eligible, submissions must be from writers of Taiwanese heritage (or writers with other significant connection to Taiwan), or have subject matter otherwise relevant to the Taiwanese or Taiwanese American experience.
Submissions will be considered in two categories, High School (enrolled in high school as of the deadline) and College (enrolled in community college or as an undergraduate as of the deadline). Winners and finalists will be announced in May 2021. A total of $1500 will be awarded to the winners. In addition, each of the winners and finalists will have their submitted work published online by TaiwaneseAmerican.org and considered for publication in a future edition of Chrysanthemum, and offered the opportunity to participate in an individual mentoring session with one of the judges.
(5) NEBULA CONFERENCE TEASER. The SFWA Blog lists some of the panel program topics being planned for the June event in “2021 Nebula Conference Online Programming Preview”. Two examples are —
Setting Boundaries: A writing career often comes with attention—wanted and unwanted. What kinds of boundaries do you set as an author with your readers, and how do those change throughout your career? Authors across the publishing spectrum discuss how they interact with, acknowledge, and encourage their readers while maintaining personal boundaries.
Writing Speculative Justice: Many envision a new role and future for the justice system in the United States and across the world—one that is more restorative, more equitable, and more just. As writers build our own worlds, what can and should we be thinking about when it comes to justice? How does our approach to laws, crime, retribution, and restoration impact the rest of our worldbuilding, characters, and plots? How can we craft a more just future?
(6) HOW MUCH ARE THOSE CLICKS IN THE WINDOW? James Pyles (PoweredByRobots) has been doing his darnedest to use the recent kerfuffle to get attention. And he doesn’t much care who that damages.
- “The Jason Sanford and Baen Books Saga Continues” [Internet Archive link] consists almost entirely of signal boosting links to Samuel Collingwood Smith’s and Richard Paolinelli’s efforts to harass Jason Sanford through his employer.
- “I Wouldn’t Want to Belong to a Club that would ‘Uninvite’ a Guest of Honor” [Internet Archive link] namechecks me repeatedly while liberally copying items from File 770 – and yet Pyles says he doesn’t recognize the names of these three far more significant genre figures? Ohhhkaayyyy….
…Frankly, the Discon III / Worldcon decision to “uninvite” Weisskopf is looking less and less popular. Of course, I have no idea who Weber, Eggleton, and Gannon are (my understanding of SF/F personalities and their politics is shockingly limited), but on the surface, I can’t see anything awful, horrible, and offensive about their comments (well, maybe some of the language was just a little rough depending on how thin-skinned you are). In fact, they seem pretty reasonable….
Bounding Into Comics, as Doris V. Sutherland observes, belittled Sanford’s coverage, but they couldn’t deny what Jason found in Baen’s Bar.
Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer’s purported explanation of the controversy rapidly deteriorated into gibberish: “Omnibus?”
…Back in the day you’d left right and center views – depending on where you went. His [Jason Sanford’s] ‘expose’ is drivel, out of context, imaginary and generally trivial — in keeping with how he earns his authorly income – but it is seized on as a reason to 1) expel Toni as a GoH from WorldCon (because you know, in omnibus, must chuck her under it – even though any sane definition of the Bar was 99.9999% innocuous by any interpretation. Omnibus see. Even if she had nothing to do with it, and didn’t know – and investigated once she did. Not good enough, Guilty. She turned Jason Sanford into a newt. And she has got a wart… maybe.) 2) The little friends mysteriously and suddenly attack the hosting service and other business connections to demand deplatforming because Baen is ‘hate speech and inciting violence’….
(7) IT’S THEIR RIGHT. Meanwhile, this unexpected announcement was tweeted today by American Conservative Union CPAC 2021. I don’t know who is being banned, either, it’s just a coincidence that’s remarkably timely.
(8) GAMING A ZINE. The Guardian’s Sarah Maria Griffin reviews Zine Maker in “How a game about making zines helped me recapture my creativity in lockdown”.
…Creation games aren’t new; they go way back to the original SimCity and beyond. But in autumn 2019, during a period of intense, life-altering burnout, I came across Nathalie Lawhead’s Electric Zine Maker and it redefined what I thought I knew about play, creation and the art that can emerge from video game interfaces. Zine Maker is a clever, accessible tool in the disguise of a joyful toy. I had become sick from overwork and had resigned myself to transitioning careers, leaving writing fiction entirely to move into a more practical realm. I was convinced that the connection between the part of my brain that makes art and the part that produces joy was fried forever. But this game sparked it again.
… Electric Zine Maker gives us a playful way to design and create real, print zines once more. The software streamlines the creation of a one-page zine: an A4 page folded into an A8 booklet. The tools are simple: text boxes, image pasting, some paint brushes and filters. A folding guide tells you how to turn it from a flat page into a 3D object once you print it off. It’s all laid out in bright, roaring neon, reminiscent of a CD-Rom from the mid-1990s. It feels like a piece of time travel, a return to childhood tinkering in The Simpsons Cartoon Studio in 1996.
(9) GRR REMEMBERS WANDA JUNE. George R.R. Martin paid tribute to the late Wanda June Alexander, whose daughter is almost his neighbor in Santa Fe: “The Amazing Wanda June”.
…Wanda June was a dear dear friend… but more than that, really. She and Raya have been part of our family, in one sense or another, for decades. I do not actually recall when and where I first met Wanda. It was at a con, no doubt, probably in the late 70s or early 80s. I knew OF Wanda before I actually knew Wanda, however. She was an East Coast fan when I first began hearing tales of her, from mutual friends. Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, David Axler, Dave Kogelmen, Joe and Gay Haldeman… all of them were friends of mine, and friends of the legendary Wanda June. She was one of Parris’s oldest, dearest friends, from the 70s on to this very day. …
(10) MEMORY LANE.
- 1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone series wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Wolf Rilla, and written by Stirling Silliphant, Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch. The other nominated works were the films Village of The Damned and The Time Machine.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born February 22, 1879 — Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.) (CE)
- Born February 22, 1879 – Norman Lindsay. When a critic said children liked to read about fairies more than about food, NL wrote The Magic Pudding, wherefore we may be grateful. He was also an artist in watercolour, oils, pencil, etching, bronze, concrete. A dozen other novels; essays, poetry, memoirs. Here is a World War I cover for The Bulletin. Here is Odysseus. Here is Age of Consent. Here is Lin Bloomfield’s book about NL’s drawings. (Died 1969) [JH]
- Born February 22, 1917 – Reed Crandall. Early inker for Jack Kirby on Captain America. Did Blackhawk 1942-1953; Jim Steranko said “where [Chuck] Cuidera made Blackhawk a best-seller, Crandall turned it into a classic, a work of major importance and lasting value”. Forty interiors and a few covers for us, mostly of E.R. Burroughs. Here are the Blackhawks fighting a giant robot; here is a more airborne moment. Here is The Man with a Brain of Gold. Here is John Carter with the Giant of Mars. Eisner Hall of Fame. More here. (Died 1982) [JH]
- Born February 22, 1953 – Genny Dazzo, Ph.D., age 68. Active Los Angeles fan. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 31, Loscon 27 (with husband Craig Miller). Reliable in local, regional, continental, World conventions; for example, Guest of Honor Liaison at L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon, L.A.con IV the 64th. Collects teapots. Member of County Fair Table Setting Competition fandom. Doctorate in Theoretical Chemistry. [JH]
- Born February 22, 1955 — Paul J. McAuley, 66. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction. (CE)
- Born February 22, 1956 — Caroline Thompson, 65. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. (CE)
- Born February 22, 1965 – Max Frei, age 56. That age-statement isn’t quite right, because Max Frei was a composite of Svetlana Martynchik (whose birthday I gave) and her husband Igor Steopin (1967-2018) in writing (in Russian) Sir Max’s adventures in the Labyrinths of Echo; a score are available in English. More here. [JH]
- Born February 21, 1974 – Michelle Knudsen, age 47. Six novels (Evil Librarian won a Fleischman Award – two sequels), one shorter story, for us; twoscore other books. Library Lion was a NY Times Best-Seller. Julie Andrews on a podcast reads “Marilyn’s Monster” aloud. Favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, The Pirates of Penzance; has been in Iolanthe. Read aloud at the 2007 White House Easter Egg Roll. Taking boxing lessons. [JH]
- Born February 22, 1981 – Ryan James, age 40. Two novels with his mother Syrie James. Much else in the games industry. Only a few decades ago, despite chess, bridge, gô, it would have been SF for there to be a games industry. [JH]
(12) SOUNDING OUT A FANCAST. Cora Buhlert visits with tabletop RPG fancast creators in “Fancast Spotlight: Appendix N Book Club”.
… I’m pleased to feature the Appendix N Book Club, a fancast has the mission to read and discuss the books and authors listed in Appendix N of the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide with varying guests.
Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jeff Goad and Ngo Vinh-Hoi of the Appendix N Book Club to my blog today:
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
We are a podcast about the literature that inspires our tabletop RPGs. Initially, we only focused on the Appendix N: a list of “inspirational reading” located in the back of the 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Starting with episode 101, we are expanding the scope of the show to include ALL fiction that inspires our gaming. The first half of each episode focuses on the text from a literary perspective and the second half of each episode discussed the text from a gaming perspective….
(13) MUPPET CONTENT WARNING. Sonaiya Kelley’s Los Angeles Times story ”Muppet Show’ now has content disclaimer warning on Disney+” reports Disney has put warning labels on 18 Muppet Show episodes (not every episode). And they’ve blocked two episodes including one with Brooke Shields.
Jim Henson’s classic series “The Muppet Show” began streaming on Disney+ on Friday, but now comes prefaced with an offensive content disclaimer.
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” the warning reads. “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversations to create a more inclusive future together.”
The show, which ran for five seasons between 1976 and 1981, features the new content warning on 18 episodes, including those guest-hosted by Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Debbie Harry and Marty Feldman, among others.
Each episode bears the 12-second disclaimer for a different reason, from Cash’s appearance singing in front of a Confederate flag to negative depictions of Native Americans, Middle Easterners and people from other cultures. Additionally, two episodes from the final season, featuring guest stars Brooke Shields and staff writer Chris Langham, are left out entirely.
(14) PATTY CAKE, PATTY CAKE, BAKER STREET. A new Netflix series “THE IRREGULARS Promises Supernatural Spin on SHERLOCK”.
…In the Sherlock Holmes mythology, the “Baker Street Irregulars” are a group of street urchins in the employ of Holmes. They are his eyes and ears in the seedier parts of Jolly Ol’ Londontown. This version, naturally, will focus on that group. It appears they will have more in the vein of the supernatural to deal with. Various adaptations of Doyle’s stories have included a supernatural tinge, we should note, the original stories were always rooted in Victorian-era science. It’s elementary, really….
(15) YOU ARE, BIG HERO SIX. The DisInsider is my number one source for this story: “Exclusive: Big Hero 6 Characters Coming To The MCU”.
We have exclusively learned that certain characters from Big Hero 6 will be making their live-action debut in the MCU.
We’re not sure on who will be coming but we can at least expect Baymax and Hiro.
Some of the projects we heard about were Secret Invasion, Agents of Atlas, and Doctor Strange. However, we couldn’t get confirmation.
There’s also no word on if the actors will reprise their roles in regards to live-action appereances.
Big Hero 6 was loosely based on the comic of the same name. The comic was a three-part miniseries written by Scott Lobdell and artist Gus Vasquez. The series went on to be a very popular title, which spawned the animated film and TV series.
(16) FRANSON AWARD. National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked the recipient of this year’s Franson Award, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show of appreciation:
It is my privilege and honor to bestow the Franson Award upon our new Treasurer, Kevin Trainor of Tonopah, Nevada. Being N3F Treasurer is a great responsibility. The Treasurer maintains the club financial records without which we would not know who is a member and who has departed. We spent close to a year during which the former Treasurer made clear he wanted to leave, but no member would volunteer to replace him. Can all be grateful to Kevin for volunteering and taking on the Treasurer’s role.
(17) A BIRD OF A DIFFERENT COLOR. “Wildlife Photographer Captures ‘Never Before Seen’ Yellow Penguin” at PetaPixel. Image at the link.
While unloading some safety equipment and food onto Salisbury Plain, Adams noticed an unusual sight he had never seen before: a penguin with bright yellow plumage.
“I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before,” the photographer tells Kennedy News. “There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there.”
… The penguin’s strange coloring is due to a condition called leucism, which results in a loss of pigmentation.
“This is a leucistic penguin,” Adams says. “Its cells don’t create melanin anymore so its black feathers become this yellow and creamy color.”
(18) DOCTOR BUNNY. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] A follow-up to the Pixel Scroll of 10/16/20: Artist Will Quinn did this doodle inspired by Paul Hanley‘s designs for one of the forgotten doctors of Doctor Who (Robert Holmes). Daily bunny no.1309 is of a different time. (Does a bunny timelord run around saying “I’m late! I’m late!”?)
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that Transformers is a “feature-length commercial with sort of a story line, because that’s what movies are these days.” Also, Megan Fox loves Burger King because, hey, it’s a product placement!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon, Ben Bird Person, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge with an assist from Tom Becker and Paul Weimer.]