The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon committee tweeted April 24 that it has named Ben Yalow one of three co-chairs of the convention. They have also appointed Dave McCarty, Donald Eastlake III, Randall Shepherd as Vice-Chairs.
In addition, Bill Lawhorn has become a co-division-head.
Here is the committee’s latest organization chart:
Ben Yalow, Hongwei He, Chen Shi
Haijun Yao, Xiaolan Liang
Tong Xia, Yating Wang, Yao Chen, He Huang, Feng Yang, Zhenyu Jiang, Yue Sun, Zi La, Dave McCarty, Donald Eastlake, Randall Shepherd
Colette Fozard, Nicholas Whyte
INTEGRATED PLANNING AND COORDINATION DIVISION
Division Head: Yating Wang, Bill Lawhorn
ARTISTIC DESIGN DIVISION
Division Head: Yue Sun
MARKETING DEVELOPMENT AND BRAND BUILDING DIVISION
Division Head: Yuxi Tan
PUBLIC RELATIONSHIP DIVISION
Division Head: Tong Xia
MEMBER SERVICES DIVISION
Division Head: Yao Chen
TRANSLATION SERVICES WORKING DIVISION
Division Head: Shuang Liang
HUGO AWARD SELECTION EXECUTIVE DIVISION
Division Head: Zhengyu Jiang, Dave McCarty
BUSINESS MEETING EXECUTIVE DIVISION
Division Head: Xue Yao
2025 CONVENTION SITE SELECTION IMPLEMENTATION DIVISION
Division Head: Chi Yao
EVENT OPERATIONS DIVISION
Division Head: Liu Yang
Division Head: He Huang
NORTH AMERICA, EAST ASIA, EUROPE AGENT
Division Head: Feng Yang
CONVENTION SERVICE DIVISION
Division Head: TBA
Many of the overseas committee members were part of the international array of visiting writers and Worldcon runners who attended the 5th China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference in 2019, including then-DisCon III co-chairs Colette Fozard and William Lawhorn, then-Chicago bid co-chair Dave McCarty, plus Ben Yalow, and Pablo M.A Vazquez who was there as a winner of the Shimmer Program’s Two-Way Exchange Fund.
To run a Worldcon you need to have the internal passion and the faith of your team. At this point, I have neither. Reflecting over the last several months I have been working towards January 2022 and not the convention dates themselves.
Colette [Fozard]’s resignation hit me much harder than I have ever admitted. Were we perfect together? No, but it worked even when I got stubborn. I miss her.
The need to remove Toni Weisskopf sapped a lot of my passion as I saw her GOH position as a chance to heal fannish fractures going back several years. I nearly walked away then. But there was still passion and things I wanted to be sure were done, so I continued. Maybe I shouldn’t have. With so many issues still in the air, I couldn’t put that burden on someone else.
We cleared up a bunch of them. I thank Randall Shepherd and Patty Wells for stepping up to work with me as we tried to get resolution with the Wardman Park. John Pomeranz was critical in reaching resolution. The team did a great job with the shift to December.
Special note: Without Sharon Sbarsky much would not have been accomplished over the past year. You were my rock.
The challenge of not knowing dates and location or even format were a problem. I have great faith that Lisa and her team will put together a stellar program for all to see, it was a joy to plan with you. Covid-19 is still real and even the vaccination progress creates doubt. Work with MSS. If you know people who can help in some of his vacancies, ask for their help.
Lots of stuff I’ll skip at this point. But… Last week, when I was tired, I reviewed a letter. I got focused on my personal issue and missed a big picture one. I am sorry for approving that letter. In discussions, I got frustrated and angry. It was not the mark of a good leader.
Could I continue even with all the headwinds, probably. But I find myself relieved to not. After 15 months of constant worry, it is enough. Will I miss some of the interactions? Yes. Will my wife be happy to have a bunch of floor space back? A bigger YES.
The BWAWA Board will now be making a decision. Although I have not consulted him. I think John Pomeranz, (I am sorry John), is best positioned to lead DisCon III forward. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge. I just hope he has the passion to pick up the pieces.
To the rest of the staff, help Rivka and Bobbi help you. Share your information with them. Please do not resign, take a week and breathe or go for a walk or several. Make sure to create the best experience for our members as you can. Will it be what we dreamed? No, but it can still be something special. A true December to Remember.
Please work with Randy and Patty during the transition to the new leadership team. I will be at the convention, hopefully recovered. I expect to do some therapy with Helen Montgomery if she is willing to continue talking.
A few parting requests:
I hope that the events team will continue to move forward with the Thursday evening Hugo Finalist Reception with all DisCon III members. A chance to honor both the finalists from 2020 and 2021 and have them interact.
Second, early in June I authorized the transfer of $10,000 of the received passalong funds to be dedicated to the Capitalize! Fan Fund. Please honor that commitment so even more marginalized fans can attend either in person or virtually. If the FIYAH staff request funds, please be generous.
Third, I have the base material to be used for the pin back for the Hugo pins. I hope that someone will carry on with the project to make sure all of the finalists get a little piece of the base.
Finally, please make sure Bob Silverberg gets his virtual panel so he can continue his streak of attendance.
I’ll leave you, as I resign, with a life poem Linda Addison shared with me when I was struggling in February, “U are stronger than U know / your strength increases light / in your world & the World…” Her words are so powerful and you can be too.
— Bill Lawhorn Former Chair DisCon III
DisCon III Events Division Head Gadi Evron responded with these valedictory comments:
Bill has played an instrumental part in bringing Worldcon back to DC. He never signed up to be a solo chair of a Worldcon — and as the saying goes, “Friends don’t let friends chair Worldcons” — but he stepped up when he was needed. He led us through a difficult Covid year, a co-chair leaving, our venue, the Wardman Park going bankrupt, and more. Did I always agree with him? Of course not. Were there issues? Yep. Even very strong disagreements that at times strained our friendship. He is a good man who put Worldcon first, and I am thankful for him bringing us this far. He deserves our thanks, and our respect.
DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, announced today that Bill Lawhorn has resigned from his position as Convention Chairperson of DisCon III, effective immediately.
The Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association (BWAWA) has begun the process of finding a permanent replacement. Until the position is filled, the DisCon III Division Heads and staff will continue with the business of the convention.
The committee’s press release said: “We wish to thank Bill for his hard work and dedication in bringing Worldcon to Washington, DC, and his contributions to DisCon III.”
DisCon III’s WSFS Division head Nicholas Whyte today announced on Twitter and Facebook that the Hugo Administration team of the 2021 Worldcon has resigned en masse:
Departing WSFS Division Head Nicholas Whyte was also in charge of the 2023 Site Selection voting.
The committee has not yet addressed the staff resignations.
This is the second team of Hugo administrators to quit DisCon III this year. The con’s original WSFS Division Head Jared Dashoff explained here in January why he and the Hugo Administrator resigned. It had to do with efforts to manage policies created by the committee “to deal with a) space constraints at receptions and award ceremonies, b) budget constraints of the receptions and trophies, c) constraints relating to font size on both ballots and in-ceremony visuals, and d) in response to multiple requests to list long lists of contributors to Hugo Finalists over the last few years….”
Dashoff made his comment in response to Colette Fozard’s guest post about why she resigned as DisCon III co-chair in the same timeframe.
…All publications and visuals linked to the Hugo Awards will include all Hugo Finalist creators named to DisCon III with no restrictions to the number of names. This includes, and is not limited to, the Hugo Awards ballot, the visuals used during the Hugo Awards Ceremony, the plaques on the Hugo Awards trophies, the Hugo Awards Ceremony program guide, the DisCon III souvenir guide, and the DisCon III and Hugo Awards websites.
We will address concerns about the size of events such as the Hugo Pre-Reception, the number of Hugo Awards trophies, and any other cost considerations individually with the finalists….
However, it seems that when the time recently arrived to address these concerns, some controversial limitations were still on the table – see the message documented in Pixel Scroll 6/19/21 item #6.
When Nicholas Whyte announced on Facebook last January 17 that he had signed on as DisCon III’s new WSFS Division Head, he commented: .
…The Hugos have had some reputational issues to deal with. Having fought off direct assault by ill-wishers in 2015 and 2016, some pretty significant mistakes were made more recently. Many of those were outside the immediate responsibility of the Hugo Administrators, including most notably the awful botching of last year’s Hugo ceremony and the Hugo Losers Party in 2019, and the hostile response from some in the community to the winners of the award for Best Related Work in both of those years (cases where I very much stand by the eligibility decisions that were made by teams that I was a part of).
I have made mistakes as well, and I hope that I have learned from them. In particular, it’s clear, not least from the problems that arose in the last few days, that the Hugos as a whole need to be less siloed and need to improve communication in both directions with the rest of the Worldcon and with the wider stakeholder community (as my work colleagues would put it). DisCon III had already started putting structures in place that would improve this side of things, and I look forward to working with those and building on them.
What led to today’s round of resignations Whyte doesn’t explicitly say. He simply quotes Lawhorn’s aspirational statement about last January’s policy reversal, and says “It is clear that we have taken the process as far as we can, and that our input is no longer needed by the convention leadership.”
Bill Lawhorn, Chair of the 2021 Worldcon, DisCon III, announces that the committee has reversed the Hugo Award-related policy published yesterday that would have limited the number of creators identified with a finalist for certain purposes, such as the ballot and award name plaque.
Lawhorn’s statement says:
We apologize to the Worldcon community for the Hugo Awards policies announced yesterday. We realize we should have reached out to the wider community for your feedback before finalizing it. Many were hurt and disappointed, especially those who are members of marginalized communities, and we have listened to your feedback and concerns.
The Hugo Awards exist to celebrate and honor all of the creators chosen by the Worldcon membership. We should have considered those creators’ needs and feelings through our policies and the messaging we used. We once again apologize.
Here are the steps we are taking to address the problems that were caused:
All publications and visuals linked to the Hugo Awards will include all Hugo Finalist creators named to DisCon III with no restrictions to the number of names. This includes, and is not limited to, the Hugo Awards ballot, the visuals used during the Hugo Awards Ceremony, the plaques on the Hugo Awards trophies, the Hugo Awards Ceremony program guide, the DisCon III souvenir guide, and the DisCon III and Hugo Awards websites.
We will address concerns about the size of events such as the Hugo Pre-Reception, the number of Hugo Awards trophies, and any other cost considerations individually with the finalists.
We want to thank the fans, especially those who are members of marginalized communities, for speaking out and helping us understand the issues with yesterday’s policies and how they were communicated.
Worldcon and The Hugo Awards are stronger because our fandom continually challenges us to create a better and more inclusive future. We acknowledge the trust placed in us as caretakers of Worldcon. We still have a lot of work to do. We are committed to earning back your trust as we approach DisCon III
Once again, we offer our sincerest apologies. Please continue to reach out to us through social media @Worldcon2021, Discord, and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to keep you informed about DisCon III.
Colette Fozard and Bill Lawhorn, chairs of DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, updated fans about the status of their facilities in the convention’s October newsletter [PDF file]:
As you can imagine, we have uncertainty related to the Coronavirus but planning and activities continue. The status of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel is unclear. Litigation between the owners was filed 2 September and settled at the end of September. At the start of October, Marriott filed a lawsuit against one of the entities that owns the hotel. What a mess! The hotel itself does not have an official statement at this time, and we are in close touch. Our Facilities team does have the room blocks for both the Marriott and the Omni Shoreham set up, and our current plan is to release those in January 2021.
In June, the Marriott Wardman Park hotel ownership notified the workers’ union of its intention to potentially close the hotel permanently. The facility has been shuttered since March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
On October 6, 2020, Marriott sued Pacific Life (which now owned 80% of the property) and JBG Smith (which owned 20%). Marriott claimed the two companies were intentionally failing to invest contractually obligated capital in the hotel, in order to force the property to close, so they could redevelop the land as a high-end residential property, even though Marriott had a contract to manage the hotel through 2029, followed by three automatic 10-year extensions.
So if DisCon III can’t use the Marriott, they presently have space reserved in the nearby Omni Shoreham.
(1) WORLDCON ENDS: FILM AT ELEVEN. Watching CoNZealand’s Closing Ceremonies brought back a memory —
When Winnipeg started its bid for the 1994 Worldcon, chair John Mansfield had everybody on the committee fill out a questionnaire about their interests. On the last day of the convention he returned these forms to everyone saying, “Okay. Here’s your life back.”
At today’s Closing Ceremonies the gavel passed to DisCon III’s Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard.
(2) TABLE SERVICE. Camestros Felapton illustrates an aspect of the 2020 Hugo Award nomination process in “EPH Fan Writer”.
… As each person is eliminated, the points get redistributed. By looking at the change in points for each surviving nominee, you can calculate the proportion of points that the survivor gets from the eliminated.
(3) THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. There are several good rundowns on the problems with last night’s Hugo Awards ceremony, including this one from Sean Reads Sci-Fi, “Uh-Oh, the Hugos Were a Hot Mess!”, which includes some good excerpts from the acceptance speeches.
…Some of the history was admittedly interesting, but I kept waiting for Martin to catch up to the present day, to illustrate how the long arc of the Hugos has bent toward justice, how the field continues to evolve to this day. He never did. He stayed rooted firmly in the past, and as the night wore on his stubborn refusal to acknowledge current movements in SF/F began to feel pointedly exclusionary rather than just incidentally so.
And I haven’t even mentioned the names! To mispronounce someone’s name live is one thing. As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that you will occasionally get someone’s name wrong on the first day. But (a) they had plenty of time to practice, (b) they almost certainly were given pronunciation guides by most authors, and (c) this doesn’t excuse the constant mispronunciations during pre-recoded segments, unless, of course, Martin refused to re-record them, which is its own set of problems. The folks behind the scenes should have done more to vet these segments, and should have pushed back harder when it became clear what Martin was doing.
What’s fascinating to me, though, is how the awards themselves drew such a sharp contrast to the nostalgic navel-gazing of the toastmaster. It really felt like the past and the future colliding – and the future won. Literally! The winners often talked about systemic problems within the industry, about the fights that we still have to fight, about the hard work that women, people of color, queer folks, and others have to do in order to even be considered alongside the white/cis/het fuddy-duddies running last night’s show. It was such a welcome breath of fresh air, for instance, when R.F. Kuang, one of the first winners, emphasized the barriers that she faced getting into the field:
If I were talking to a new writer coming to the genre in 2020, I would tell them, well, if you are an author of color, you will very likely be paid only a fraction of the advance that white writers are getting. You will be pigeon-holed, you will be miscategorized, you will be lumped in with other authors of color whose work doesn’t remotely resemble yours. Chances are very high that you will be sexually harassed at conventions or the target of racist micro-aggressions or very often just overt racism. People will mispronounce your name, repeatedly, and in public, even people who are on your publishing team. Your cover art will be racist, and the way people talk about you and your literature will be tied to identity and your personal trauma instead of the stories you are actually trying to tell. If I had known all of that when I went into the industry, I don’t know if I would have done it, so I think that the best way we can celebrate new writers is to make this industry more welcoming for everyone.
R.F. KUANG, ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW SF WRITER
This was refreshing precisely because it’s an aspect of the history of the awards and of the fandom in general that George R.R. Martin, in his endless panegyrics to days gone by, refused to even acknowledge. Pointing out the deep-rooted, structural, and personal racism and sexism at the heart of the industry isn’t a sign of ingratitude – it’s a sign of strength and resolve in the face of tough barriers. As Ng put it in her speech:
Pulling down memorials to dead racists is not the erasing of history, it is how we make history … It would be irresponsible for me to stand here and congratulate us as a community without reminding us that the fight isn’t over and that it extends well beyond the pages of our books … Let us be better than the legacies that have been left us. Let them not be prophecies. Let there be a revolution in our time.
JEANNETTE NG, BEST RELATED WORK
That revolution was in strong form last night, as most winners took the time to celebrate marginalized voices and denounce the forces that marginalized them in the first place. I keep coming back to Martine’s speech, as well – to the knife that hurts all the more because you loved it before it cut you. A trenchant description of an industry and a genre that many loved but were excluded from for so long. That is, thankfully, changing. Not fast enough to prevent last night’s debacle – but fast enough to allow for last night’s inspiring wins
Whoever is circulating the story that I was asked to re-record portions of my Hugo hosting to correct mispronounced names, and that I refused, is (1) mistaken, or (2) lying. Never happened.
CoNZealand did ask me to re-record three of my videos, all for reasons for quality control: poor lighting, poor sound, wobbly camera. I complied with their request on two of the videos, the two that opened the evening; I re-did those live from the JCC. (The originals had been done in my cabin on an iPhone, when we were just trying to get the hang of this thing). The third segment they wanted re-recorded was the bit about the Hugo trophy, where I had some fun with the juicer, the Alfie, and the like. In that case, we decided to stay with the first take, since I no longer had the props on hand and could not easily have reproduced what I’d done at the cabin, which everyone seemed to like.
There is also a story out there that I was provided with the correct phonetic pronunciations of all the names. That too is completely untrue….
(5) YOUR NEW HUGO LOSERS HOSTS. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?
(6) GROWING PAINS. Scott Edelman stirred up some memories that were called out by his sister-in-law in service of an anti-Vietnam War protest.
…You wouldn’t think that the 4-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall space, approximately the same shape as an iPhone screen, would be big enough for a play, let alone an avant-garde company. Yet the closet, only 2 feet deep, is one of the stars of Gelb’s Theater in Quarantine series, which since late March has produced, on a biweekly schedule, some of the new medium’s most imaginative work from some of its simplest materials. As in silent movies, clowning, movement and mime are usually part of the mix.
Lem’s story is a satire of the infinite human capacity for self-defeat, with the various Egon incarnations bickering and undermining one another as the gyrations of space-time bend them into conflict. When “a meteor no bigger than a pea” pierces the ship’s hull, destroying the rudder, everyone has ideas about fixing it — but since it’s a two-man job, making cooperation essential, nothing actually gets done.
Science fiction was once a niche TV commodity, but March brought three major live-action genre projects. Star Trek: Picard finished its debut season on CBS All Access. FX shared Devs with Hulu, pitching the miniseries as prestige bait for the chattering class. Season 3 of Westworld was HBO’s new hope for a buzzy, sexy-violent epic. And they were all terrible….
I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology. CEOs with tragic origin stories in Westworld or Devs are puppets for machines they can’t control. Higher-tech powers in Brave New World and “You May Also Like” control whole civilizations comprised of unaware humans.
[Intro] Editors Note: In a nearly 3,000 word opinion piece published on July 25 in ‘The Globe and Mail’ Kenneth Whyte, publisher of Toronto-based indie Sutherland House Books, pinned the troubles of Canada’s independent bookstores and publishers on the work of public libraries….
Publishers Weekly reprinted the Canadian Urban Libraries Council’s response:
… It is otherwise hard to understand why public libraries are to blame when bookstores and libraries have coexisted harmoniously and supported each other for decades.
August 1, 1986 — Howard The Duck premiered. Directed by Water Huyck and produced by Gloria Katz who were also the screenplay writers. George Lucas was executive producer. Its human stars were Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones and Tim Robbins. Howard The Duck was Ed Gale in the suit with the voice being Chip Zien. Critics almost unanimously hated it, it bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 38% rating. It would be the last Marvel Film until Captain American twenty-one years later. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville. Without debating – though some do – how far Moby-Dick is fantasy, we can claim some more clearly – hmm, maybe not the best word with this writer – anyway, “Bartleby”, “The Tartarus of Maids”, “The Encantadas”, let’s say nine or ten. John Clute would includeThe Confidence-Man. (Died 1891) [JH]
Born August 1, 1898 – William Ziff. I mean Ziff Sr., though Ziff Jr. is noteworthy too. The elder was the Ziff in Ziff-Davis Publishing, which took over Amazing from Hugo Gernsback, added Fantastic Adventures, comics with art director Jerry Siegel and e.g. John Buscema. I happen to think this cover for Weird Adventures 10 is feminist – look how the man is fascinated while the woman with him knows they should fear – but then I think Glory Road is feminist, and how many see that? (Died 1953) [JH]
Born August 1, 1910 — Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available in digital form. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1914 – Edd Cartier. Oh, how great he was. Eventually we put him on two Retrospective Hugo ballots. We think of him as a comedian; true enough, but see this cover for Foundation and Empire. Vince Di Fate knew; see his treatment of EC in Infinite Worlds. World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 1, 1923 — Alan Yates. Though better known under the Carter Brown name where he wrote some one hundred and fifty mystery novels, I’m noting him here for Booty for a Babe, a Fifties mystery novel published under that name as it’s was set at a SF Convention. (Available from the Kindle store.) And as Paul Valdez, he wrote a baker’s dozen genre stories. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1930 — Geoffrey Holder. Best-remembered for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1945 – Yvonne Rousseau, 75. Author, editor, critic, long-time fan. Australian SF Review, 2nd Series with J. & R. Blackford, Foyster, Sussex, Webb. Three short stories and a novelette. Contributor to Banana Wings, Chunga, Flag, Foundation, Journey Planet, The Metaphysical Review, Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary, SF Eye. Fan Guest of Honour at ConFictionary, where the fire alarm went off and the hotel actually was on fire. [JH]
Born August 1, 1954 — James Gleick, 66. Author of, among many other books, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Electronic Frontier, and he is one of us in that he writes genre reviews which are collected in Time Travel: A History. Among the works he’s reviewed are Le Guin’s “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” and Heinlein ‘s “By His Bootstraps”. (CE)
Born August 1, 1955 — Annabel Jankel, 65. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. (CE)
Born August 1, 1969 – Dirk Berger, 51. Five dozen covers, a score of interiors. Here is Sucker Punch. Here is Empire Dreams. Here is Nova 23. Here is his Website. [JH]
Born August 1, 1979 — Jason Momoa, 41. I knew I’d seen him before he showed up as Aquaman in the DC film franchise and I was right as he was Ronon Dex on Stargate Atlantis for its entire run. He was also Khal Drogo in the first season of A Game of Thrones. And not surprisingly, he was the title character in Conan the Barbarian. (CE)
Born August 1, 1993 – Tomi Adeyemi, 27. Children of Blood and Bone, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, both NY Times Best Sellers. Norton Award, Waterstones Book Prize, Lodestar Award. Parents thought she’d be better off if they didn’t teach her their native tongue (they’re Yoruba), so with an honors degree from Harvard she got a fellowship to study it in Brazil. Website here. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur offers a suggestion on how to get started on that post-apocalyptic novel.
(13) BE PREPARED. A Public Service Announcement from the Dread Pirate Roberts channeling Inigo Montoya.
(14) ADVICE FOR SFF POETS. Veteran editor of Star*Line and Mobius: A Journal for Social Change “gives some surprising insights on submissions” in this interview conducted by Melane Stormm at SPECPO.
A must watch for any writer, but especially if you identify as female or if you’re feeling hesitant to submit your work someplace.
(15) ON BRADBURY’S SHELVES. The second installment of Phil Nichols’ Bradbury 100 podcast had dropped.
My guest is Jason Aukerman, Managing Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The “Bradbury Center”, as it’s known for short, is the place where Ray’s working papers are held in archive, along with the contents of Ray’s personal library, and many of his professional and personal artefacts such as awards, videotapes and film prints.
A library curator at the University of Iowa will join “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and a list of other celebrities, authors and science fiction experts in a Ray Bradbury Read-a-thon next month. The event on August 22nd will mark what would have been the famed author’s 100th birthday.
Peter Balestrieri, curator of science fiction and popular culture collections at the UI Libraries, says he’s thrilled to be taking part.
“The Read-a-thon will be about 40 people reading segments of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’” Balestrieri says. “All of the clips from all of the different readers will be put together into one seamless audio-visual book.”
Balestrieri will read a six-minute portion of the book as part of the roughly-four-hour event. Top sci-fi authors who will also read aloud include Neil Gaiman, Marjorie Liu and Steven Barnes, as well as former NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Nasa‘s Marsspacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has sent itself into hibernation, the space agency has said.
The spacecraft was sent to space Thursday in a launch that had no technical problems – even despite an earthquake that struck just before liftoff, and a preparation period that came during the coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after it was launched, Nasa announced that it had received its first signal from the spacecraft.
But soon after it was in space and headed towards Mars, it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the craft. After that initial signal, mission controllers received more detailed telemetry or spacecraft data that showed there had been a problem.
The signal, which arrived on Thursday afternoon, showed that the spacecraft had entered a state known as “safe mode”. That shuts down all but its essential systems, until it receives new messages from ission control.
The hibernation state is intended to allow the spacecraft to protect itself in the case of unexpected conditions, and will be triggered when the onboard computer receives data that shows something is not as expected.
Nasa’s engineers think that the state was triggered because part of the spacecraft was colder than expected while it was still in Earth’s shadow. The spacecraft has now left that shadow and temperatures are now normal, Nasa said in an update.
Mission controllers will now conduct a “full health assessment”, the space agency said, and are “working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars”.
“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” —The Fellowship of the Ring
(19) NAVIGATING ON VIRTUAL SEAS. Mlex reports on the Cyberpunk Culture Con (July 9-10), with some commentary on other virtual cons (BaltiCon, ConZealand, Fantastikon): “Cyberpunk Culture Conference”.
…I want to report on the recent virtual con, the Cyberpunk Culture Conference (Jul 9-10, 2020), which managed to swim perfectly through the fantastic milieu of the future that has already become the past, and floated out from the wreckage on that frenzied ouroboros of possibility waves as easily as a swimmer takes to an inflated tire inner tube on a summer pond.
The conference sprang up around recent books published by Routledge, which are quite excellent, I should add…
The Belgian racing team Heli had an engine problem. Specifically, under race conditions, the manifold of the four-cylinder turbo diesel in its BMW 1-series exploded, bursting along an ultrasonically welded seam that held together the manifold’s two halves.
…In 2018 Heli took the problem to ZiggZagg, a Belgian company that fabricates parts using an HP 3-D printer. ZiggZagg made a digital scan of the two-piece manifold and after 10 hours had a digital blueprint for a stronger, lighter, one-piece manifold. In its first race with the new manifold, printed using what is known as PA 12 nylon, the part held up and Heli took third. That same manifold lasted until the car was retired earlier this year.
The two astronauts that blasted off in the first private space vehicle to take people to the International Space Station are about to return to Earth — by splashing down in the waters around Florida.
This will be the first planned splashdown for space travelers since 1975, although a Russian Soyuz capsule did have to do an emergency lake landing in 1976.
NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley says that he and his crewmate Robert Behnken are prepared for the possibility of seasickness.
“Just like on an airliner, there are bags if you need them. And we’ll have those handy,” Hurley said in a press conference held on Friday, while on board the station. “And if that needs to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that that’s happened in a space vehicle. It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do.”
The astronauts will come home in the same SpaceX Dragon capsule that took them up on May 30. Their flight marked the first time people had been launched to orbit from U. S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011.
The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA’s long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost—while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.
The current plan is for the Dragon “Endeavour” capsule to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday at 7:34 p.m. ET, with scheduled splashdown at 2:42 p.m. ET on Sunday. There are potential splashdown zones both in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. With a hurricane headed towards Florida, however, it’s unclear if the weather will cooperate with the plan.
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Virtual Viewing: Disney’s Cruise Line’s Tangled, The Musical” on YouTube is an hour-long musical, with three songs composed by Alan Menken, that was performed on Disney’s Cruise Line and is worth seeing for people who need a Disney musical fix. (Hat tip to Mark Evanier.)
[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
…At one point, Vladimir Nabakov said that Madame Bovary was really just an extremely well-written fairytale. There’s one sense in which, unlike other of my books, that was what I was hoping to accomplish with Shoat Rumblin. The book was never finished to my satisfaction, although I wrote an ending for it. Through looking over it again, I’m at least contented with what I’ve done—if still uncertain how believable it is. As I’ve said on Twitter, it’s an experiment in gay pornography and realistic storytelling. Parts of it are funny and parts of it, I confess, I think are pretty grim. Overall, I’d call it a comedy rather than a tragedy, if only because it does have a happy ending, however believable or unbelievable you find it. I’m also hoping that this makes it intriguing enough for some of you to take a chance on it.
… MRK: One of my favorite things is when I introduce a reader to an author who is, by any metric except to this reader, more famous than I am. And they have never heard of them. And they’re like, “oh, this new author Ursula K. Le Guin, I love her books!” (laughs)
JS: You’re like; I don’t know how to break this one to you, but… But, that actually brings up a really interesting point which is that because science fiction and fantasy is, as a literature, as opposed to every other aspect of media, because it is still sort of niche where you come into the genre matters. Because, if they come in with you, then a lot of your antecedents or people who influenced you will be new to them. And to them, those classics will seem almost derivative or not up to date. I’ve had that happen sometimes where people will read me first, especially people who are under the age of 35. They’ll read me first and then they’ll go backwards into someone like Heinlein and then they’re like—“hmm, I don’t know—his stuff’s OK, but I kind of like yours better.” And I’m like, well—one, thank you, and two, it’s definitely because this is the path that you took into this genre. And, it’s still something that is very possible to do in this genre that I don’t know if in mainstream it will happen as much.
While a space traveler’s greatest fear is typically what’s waiting out there in the great unknown, what they bring back to Earth could be much, much worse. That’s the premise of Russian filmmaker Egor Abramenko’s feature debut “Sputnik,” a sci-fi chiller with the stately echoes of Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien.” Set in the 1980s, “Sputnik” blends creature-feature effects with heady extraterrestrial thrills. An official selection of the canceled 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the movie debuts from IFC Midnight in select theaters and on VOD August 14. Watch the trailer for the film below….
Here’s the YouTube intro:
Due to her controversial methods, young doctor Tatiana Yurievna (Oksana Akinshina) is on the precipice of losing her medical license. Her career may not be over, though. After she’s recruited by the military, Tatiana is brought to a secure science research facility to assess a very special case, that of Konstantin Sergeyevich (Pyotr Fyodorov), a cosmonaut who survived a mysterious space accident and has returned to Earth with a unique condition: there’s something living inside of him that only shows itself late at night. The military has nefarious plans for it. Tatiana wants to stop it from killing Konstantin. And the creature itself thrives on destruction.
There are no official casting breakdowns yet available, but many are speculating about the potential lead characters based on Martin’s book. Fire & Blood covers 150 years and includes the rise and fall of many leaders in Westeros so it’s not clear which characters and time period will be the focus of the series. But sources tell EW that the famed Dance of Dragons – the Targaryen Civil War that occasionally referenced in GoT that ripped apart Westeros – will be tackled at some point in the series. What would make sense is if the first season (or two) led up to those events. Some fans have suggested the show could also be an American Horror Story-style anthology series, covering a vastly different time period in each season.
A famous phrase that signals the end of many stories, from faerie tales to action movies to romance novels. Growing up, so many of the tv, film, comics, books, and more that I experienced said – implicitly, if not explicitly – that once a couple overcame whatever big trial happened in act three, the relationship itself was smooth sailing.
And depending on how you read those stories, it says something worse. It says that long-term, committed relationships are boring, or that they’re only interesting when they’re falling apart. “Happily Ever After” doesn’t prepare anyone for the lived reality of making a long-term relationship work. Sometimes the best romance works will illustrate those challenges and joys on the way, because romance writers are grand masters of characterization. But getting into my first romantic relationships, I had few fictional models for what it was like to negotiate the higher-level challenges and opportunities posed by a committed partnership. And being a storyteller by trade, that lack of narrative models became especially frustrating.
With Annihilation Aria, I set out to add to the count of works that unpack “Happily Ever After” and show that a committed couple can be exciting protagonists as well….
…The truth is, a book of modern fantasy is a treasure trove of marvels, a cabinet of curiosities, and, perhaps more importantly, a strong, strong testimony to the importance of imaginative literature, of non-realist literature, and of traditions other than the Anglo Saxon. We, personally, have been enriched by these stories and lifted up by them. We hope readers will find their own favorites and fond memories from reading herein.
(7) CAPCLAVE CHANGES PLANS. Bill Lawhorn, Capclave 2020 Chair, says they’re going virtual. The event will be over the same weekend, but won’t start until Saturday.
Due to the novel coronavirus, the Capclave team has made the decision to be virtual this year. We will be holding Capclave October 17-18. Yes, this is two days, but we will run longer on Sunday than is typical. We will be focused on presentations, panels, and small group activities such as author readings or discussions.
Going virtual does present the opportunity to include people who would likely not be able to participate in a normal year. Keep an eye on our website and social media for news regarding new participants.
We plan to use Zoom for most activities, but we are looking at adding a text chat area via Discord as well. We will be updating our Code of Conduct to reflect the online nature of the convention. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact email@example.com.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 21, 1929 — John Woodvine, 91. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”. He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man. He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr J. S. Hirsch, but shortly thereafter he’s Master West 468 in The Tripods and Prior Mordrin in the Knights of God children’s SF serial. Finally, he’s Justice Dimkind in A Perfect State which is at least genre adjacent. (CE)
Born July 21, 1933 — John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales); A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a ghost story. (Died 1982.) (CE)
Born July 21, 1944 – David Feintuch. Campbell Award (as it then was) for Best New Writer. Nine novels, of which seven portray Space navy officer Nick Seafort, translated into Czech, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish. Said he’d completed an eighth, of which no more has emerged. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born July 21, 1950 — Asenath Hammond. She was was a fan who was a member of NESFA, New York City and LASFS fandoms. She was married for a time to Rick Sternbach. Mike has a write-up on her here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born July 21, 1950 – Bill Kunkel. Cartoons (sometimes as “Potshot”) in Algol, Checkpoint, The Frozen Frog, Trap Door; Chunga seemed to energize him, he gave it much (for the end, see here and here; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, loc = letter of comment). Comics: DC, Marvel, Harvey; primary scripter for Richie Rich. Pro wrestling: photographed for, edited, published Main Event magazine, hosted The Main Event radio show, energized Pro Wrestling Torch, cartoons and columns for Wrestling Perspective. Video games: Electronic Games, Tips & Tricks magazines; designed a dozen games; memoir, Confessions of the Game Doctor. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born July 21, 1951 — Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher King, Bicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born July 21,1952 – Kathy Tyers, 68. Ten novels, half a dozen shorter stories translated into Dutch and German. A Star Wars novel was a NY Times Best Seller. Two CDs of folk music (she plays flute, Irish harp). Worked with Christopher Parkening on his memoir Grace Like a River. Lives in Montana. [JH]
Born July 21, 1956 – Todd Dashoff, 64. Chaired Philcon 1988 and the Millennium Philcon – what else should we name a Worldcon at Philadelphia in 2001? Knows Harry Warner upheld the rule that the local con there is Phillycon and only a Worldcon there is Philcon. Knows this rule has not been followed since 1947 and meanwhile (after HW’s death) a comics con has been calling itself Phillycon. Has been PSFS’ (Phil. SF Soc.) President and Treasurer. Stalwart helper from locals to Worldcons. Fan Guest of Honor (with wife Joni, another shining star) at Lunacon 46. [JH]
Born July 21, 1960 – John Wardale, 60. Balloon sculptor, hair braider, costumer, photographer, patiently giving balloon and braid workshops for beginners too. A pleasure, if that word may be used, to judge “Angels Take Motown” at Detcon the 11th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas) by Janine & John Wardale, Sharon & Hall Bass, which we awarded Best Motown Entry (Journeyman Class). Has also taught Science: Energy + Time = Change. [JH]
Born July 21, 1976 – Stephanie Law, 44. Two dozen covers including books in German and Polish, also cards and other games. Featured in Spectrum (six times) and Locus. Best in Art Show, DragonCon 2015. Art Guest of Honor at BayCon 2015, JordanCon 10, Philcon 2019; was scheduled for the 13th NASFiC this year. Artbook, Descants and Cadences. Website here. [JH]
Born July 21, 1976 — Jaime Murray, 44. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood. (CE)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro reports it was a hard day at the Frankenstein factory.
Garfield shows what would be – for these aliens – a fate worse than death.
Incidental Comics’ Grant Snider calls this “Contemplation.”
For any author, being able to describe yourself as a bona fide bestseller is key to conferring your career with a certain gravitas – and will often bring you even more sales. In the UK, while most book charts are tallied by Nielsen BookScan, the Sunday Times bestseller list – like the New York Times chart in the US – has become the gold standard. But making the bestseller list isn’t necessarily as straightforward as tallying sales. Not all is fair in romance and war (and other genres) when it comes to getting to the top of the charts.
Take the case of Mark Dawson, a British writer who just over a week ago hit No 8 on the Sunday Times hardback list with his thriller The Cleaner, released by the independent publisher Welbeck at the end of June. This is a great achievement for any author or small publishing house, but Dawson had done something remarkable: he bought 400 copies of his own book, at a cost of £3,600, to push his sales high enough to make the top 10….
First, a popular esports tournament was canceled. Next, top gaming studio executives stepped down. Then, a prominent talent management agency for video game streamers laid off its employees and closed.
The stream of reports of sexual harassment and assault in the gaming industry that began in June has continued unabated, as more women — and some men — have come forward with accusations of mistreatment.
Despite the actions that companies have taken in response to individual incidents, gaming experts say they are hesitant to call the moment an inflection point for an industry with a long and difficult history of sexist behavior and abuse. This is not the first time women have spoken up. In 2014, in what is known as Gamergate, women faced death threats for criticizing the gaming industry and its culture. Last year, women again came forward with stories of abuse in what was seen as gaming’s #MeToo moment.
So few expect the resignations this time to quickly change a culture that for decades has often been hostile to women.
“You can fire people all day long,” said Kenzie Gordon, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta who studies how games can be used to prevent sexual and domestic violence. But “if only the individual people are held accountable, that doesn’t have any impact on the culture of the organization as a whole, necessarily.”…
… It’s conditions such as these—monotony, idleness, tedium, sensory deprivation, loneliness—that concern NASA psychologists who want to send a crew to Mars. Using existing technologies, a trip to the red planet will take 200 to 300 days of travel. Most of the time will be spent inside a cramped capsule. There will be a communication delay with Earth of up to 24 minutes due to a span of hundreds of millions of miles. Real-time chatting or video calls with friends and family and mission support will be an impossibility—the limitation is the speed of light—that no new technology would be able to overcome.
Mars crews would likely need to operate with a high level of autonomy because of this communication delay. Many people believe autonomy, which implies freedom of choice, can stave off boredom. Indeed, work imbued with personal meaning can be a potential solution, but it can’t fix everything.
In addition to the isolation and sensory deprivation, there will still be repetition of meals and routines and clothing and conversations between crewmembers. The workloads will still likely be full of tedium, with narrow margins for error. In short, a mission to Mars has the perfect ingredient list for boredom and disaster borne of boredom.
Researchers from the University of Stirling, UK, have embedded ceramic spheres in aluminum foam to create a material that couldn’t be cut with angle grinders, power drills or water jet cutters. “They dubbed it Proteus after the shape-shifting Greek god, for the way the material metamorphosed in different ways to defend against attacks,” reports New Scientists
(14) THE SWARM. Could “swarm 3-D printing” become an endless opportunity for unanticipated results?
…What they appear to have developed is a kind of mobile robotic 3D printing concept. As you can see in the video, dual independent 3D printers are temporarily fixed to specific locations on a grid. From these locations the devices will print within a controlled zone (which AMBOTS calls a “Chunk”).
After completing a layer of a chunk, a mobile robot picks up each 3D printer and moves them to another spot on the grid where they can then access another chunk. By moving the 3D printers repeatedly through a series of access points they are able to build the entire structure — without interfering with each other.
One beast Serling struggled with during the run of The Twilight Zone continues to be an irritant today. That has to do with lightweight commercials that tended to deflate the intensity of a suspenseful Twilight episode.
“However moving and however probing and incisive the drama,” mused Serling at a UCLA speaking engagement in 1971, “it cannot retain any thread of legitimacy when after 12 or 13 minutes, out comes 12 dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Cowboy Bebop” on YouTube, Screen Junkies takes on the classic anime series, where everyone chain smokes and the gloomy atmosphere is heightened by introspective sax solos.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
Washington D.C.’s unopposed bid to host the 2021 Worldcon was officially voted in this weekend at Dublin 2019. The name of the convention will be DisCon III. Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard are the co-chairs.
The committee announced their current guests are: Nancy Kress, Author GoH; Malka Older, Special Guest; Sheree Renée Thomas, Special Guest; Toni Weisskopf, Editor GoH; and Ben Yalow, Fan GoH.
Total valid votes: 878
DC in 2021
None of the Above
The complete details (with all write-ins) are here [PDF file.]
Tesla came up with all sorts of inventions and has sort of become the poster scientist for awesomeness now. Sure he wasn’t perfect. Sure he was a bit crazy. But he was always on time for his appointments. (Ed. note: We made that up.) And now you can be, too, with the new Tesla Watch.
The Tesla Watch goes with your steampunk aesthetic. With a weathered-brass look on all the metal parts, this analog watch features a leather strap. The highlights of this design, however, are the two faux vacuum tubes with red LEDs inside that you can turn on and off with the flick of a switch. Everybody will want to ask you what time it is so they can see your watch. Just remember to follow the answer with, “… 1875.”
(2) ACADEMY MUSEUM. The opening of The Academy Museum in 2019 is more than a year away, however, they have a website to satisfy your curiosity about what’s coming:
The Academy Museum will be the world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies. Located on Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Museum, will be simultaneously immersive, experimental, educational, and entertaining. More than a museum, this dynamic film center will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into movies and moviemaking.
The Museum will have huge resources to draw its exhibits from:
The Academy’s unparalleled permanent collection contains more than 10 million photographs, 190,000 film and video assets, 80,000 screenplays, 50,000 posters, 20,000 production and costume design drawings, and 1,400 special collections.
Their Rick Baker page illustrates the range of their offerings, in photos, videos, and documents.
A record-holding winner of seven Academy Awards for Makeup out of eleven nominations, Rick Baker is a lifelong “monster kid” who won the first competitive Oscar awarded in that category for his innovative work on An American Werewolf in London (1981), one of several collaborations with director John Landis. His apprenticeship under one of the industry’s greatest makeup artists, Dick Smith (including working as his assistant on The Exorcist), prepared him for a career providing cutting-edge makeup effects in many genres ranging from comedy to science fiction to horror, with titles including Ed Wood (1994), The Nutty Professor (1996) and Men in Black (1998).
(5) SURPRISES. John Scalzi did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today. You never know what you’re going to learn.
Q: Do you often set out to write a book to be a series? Or do some of them just insist that you write more in that universe?
SCALZI: Only once: The Collapsing Empire, which we knew was the first installment of a series. Everything else was written standalone, and became series in when they sold well and the publisher asked for more.
I used to work part-time at a community newspaper. It should have been a great job. The hours, the location, the work, the community, and the rest of the staff were all pleasant, and the pay was okay.
Unfortunately, though, the boss (who was the editor, publisher, and owner of the paper) was an incredibly toxic person, which made working there miserable and stressful, despite all the positive attributes the place otherwise had….
Well, at one point, the boss wanted to print some “joke” stories in the newspaper. He presented staffers with a few real news stories that he wanted us to riff on. I selected one about NASA, wrote my story as directed, and turned it in. After reading it, the boss informed me that this story was not at all what he had wanted. In fact, it was what he had asked for, but now he was asking for something else. So I wrote another draft. He sent this one back to me with some notes. I revised the material in accordance with the notes and turned it in. Now he gave me all-new feedback, stuff he had not said on any previous iteration, and had me revise it again. I did so. And then he did the same thing again.
Next, he told me to start all over from scratch. He couldn’t articulate why, he just knew he wanted something else. I pointed out that I had already done 5 versions. He said I would probably have to do 10 or 12 versions before we were done….
The sad part, so to speak, was that the pieces he kept spiking were funny, and none of them ever saw the light of day.
So when Alex Shvartsman asked me to participate in UFO6, I decided to turn my ideas for that article into a short story. The result is “Lost & Found,” in which some surprising visitors emerge from a UFO orbiting Earth.
And apparently someone thinks I can write humor, since Imagine A Book SF gave my story 5 stars and said, “So many different layers of humor. Wonderful.”
Yep, getting published is still the best revenge.
(10) HELP WANTED. Roger Silverstein is trying to identify a story —
Tim Pratt posted this on Facebook a little while back, he is hunting for a half-remembered fantasy story. I actually remember reading this story, but I cannot remember the dang title. This is bugging me almost as much as it bugs him. Would you be willing to post this? (I emailed Tim Pratt for permission to copy and paste and he said “Sure, feel free” He has posted this in various places, but never File 770.
I’ve been trying to track down a half-remembered story for the past 25 years or so. Maybe one of you will recognize it. Google always fails me, either because it’s an obscure story with no digital footprint, or because I’m misremembering salient details. I was reading some rooming house stories by Theodore Sturgeon today, and it reminded me.
The story is set in a boarding house, full of peculiar characters, many of whom have supernatural powers. There’s one man who travels the world and fixes tears in reality; I think he’s described as having “lightning in his hands.” There’s an old woman who sees angels, or maybe just one angel, I think named Toby. There’s a man with magical mechanical aptitude; I think he fixes up an old car, and takes a left turn, and the car disappears, taking him with it. There’s someone who can make things you desire appear, maybe — they make the angel the old woman sees visible to everyone, at one point; that’s one of the hazier details. I don’t remember the plot at all. I probably read it in an anthology or SF magazine that was available at the Wayne Country library in Goldsboro North Carolina in the early ’90s, but it could be from any year before that.
Ring any bells? It’s entirely possible I’m misremembering or even conflating. It was a long time ago, but the story made a big impression on my fledgling writer brain, and I’d love to find it again.
The remarkable Ed Wynn makes his second and final appearance in The Twilight Zone as Sam Forstmann, a septuagenarian obsessed with maintaining the family grandfather clock. Sam is convinced that if the clock stops, he will die… a belief that baffles his family and the psychiatrist he visits (William Sargent).
December 20, 1974 — Walt Disney’s The Island At The Top Of The World debuted.
December 20, 1978 — The Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake opened.
Mike Kennedy says, “You haven’t seen that? Quelle horror!” – two Game of Thrones jokes, one in Pearls Before Swine, the other in Foxtrot.
John King Tarpinian knew we wouldn’t want to miss this moderately horrible superhero-inspired pun — Brevity.
(15) MYTHBOOSTER. In the unlikely event somebody thinks Game of Thrones is science fiction rather than fantasy, Live Science’s Charles Q. Choi, in “Is the Ice Wall from ‘Game of Thrones’ Physically Possible?”, summarizes a paper by University of Alaska (Fairbanks) glaciologist Martin Truffer about whether “The Wall” in Game of Thrones could exist. He notes that ice flows over time and the only way to preserve a giant ice wall is to keep it at -40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the wall from cracking or deforming.
An owl dangling precariously from a branch has scooped the overall prize of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
Out of the 3,500 entries, Tibor Kercz won the overall prize with his series of images showing an owl losing its footing and trying to claw its way back on to a branch.
Other entrants included a yawning dormouse, a photobombing sea turtle and a rather shocked seal.
(17) GORMENGHAST. John C. Wright griped about Gormenghast being published as fantasy, and prompted in response this terrific essay on the subject by Tom Simon, “Gormenghast and the Great Tradition”. (Hat tip to Niall McAuley.) At the end of his tour-de-force, Simon says –
In Britain, where genre labels count for less, the books found a permanent following years before anybody troubled to ask whether they were fantasies or not. In America, they were flung on the ash-heap by the strict rules of Modernism as practised by New York publishers, only to be rescued by Lin Carter. They are the very opposite of fairy tales; but they belong to Faërie nonetheless, for no less spacious realm will claim them. What the critics call ‘Realism’ is a small and besieged principality, entirely surrounded by the empire of Fantasy. On one side, the map says ‘Here Be Dragons’; the other side could plausibly be labelled ‘Gormenghast’. But both are provinces of the same boundless country.
That, my dear Mr. Wright, is why Titus Groan and Gormenghast count as fantasy.
Independent, graceful, agile, adorable when they’re small — if cats are where it’s at for you, the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery of Asian Art has you covered. Their new exhibition is called Divine Felines, and it features images of cats both big and small from the land that honored them as holy: Egypt.
Ever feel fearful? Or brave? Protective? Aggressive? They had a cat for that in ancient Egypt….
When Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was released this year, it gained a lot of attention – not because it is the latest instalment for a popular franchise, it stood out for another reason.
The game was set in India, had two lead women, and one of them, Nadine Ross, is a black South African.
Other big releases this year include Assassins Creed Origins, which is set in Egypt with an African protagonist, while Star Wars Battlefront II used the likeness and voice of Janina Gavankar, an actress with part-Indian heritage.
But speaking to BBC Asian Network, Jo Twist, chief executive for Ukie, the trading body for the UK’s games industry, said there was still a long way to go before video games could be truly representative of the gaming audience.
(20) ABOUT FINN. Steven Barnes weighs in on “’The Last Jedi’ (2017)” – beware spoilers. (I thought this one mild enough to excerpt.)
I’m also still not happy with the amount of “Jar Jar” DNA in Finn. It is noticeable on a couple of levels, although they did allow his character to expand and grow some. When the very first thing we see with him is him falling out of bed, the first “buffoon laugh” of the film, you have a hill to climb, and they didn’t quite climb it. Finn’s treatment was an “othering” I didn’t appreciate. And if you defend it, you are, frankly, the reason I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized Marvel was seeking a black director for T’Challa’s saga.
To SFWA’s leadership: You can check with all these people listed to verify payment, they are all members of your club. If you try some funky stuff to disqualify me, 10,000+ people who read this blog see it, that’s 5x the amount of members you have. I know you’ll play fair.
I guess we’re all interested to see what happens with that. My sympathy to whoever has to make the decision. I’d say it matters less whether his act is better or worse than other SFWA members’ than if there’s even more damage he could do once he’s inside the tent.
Maybe this is the answer.
I will be recording with a bodycam for anyone who is thinking of hijinx 🙂
My friends Ford and Lisa invited me to their “Nog Salon” this year, and I was thrilled to attend. For you see, Ford and Lisa are practitioners of the mysterious art of aging Eggnog. Yes, aging Eggnog is actually a thing. No, I don’t have a death wish. I was actually very excited to taste their mature Nog side by side with a fresh batch we were going to whip up together.
…But I’ve learned that aging Eggnog—contrary to anyone’s first gut instinct—actually can make it safer. To be clear, I’m not talking about the non-alcoholic cartons you buy in the supermarket but the boozy old-fashioned treat that’s made from scratch. In fact, it’s very important that your recipe contains a sufficient amount of liquor, generally recommended at around 20 percent, since the alcohol is key to killing bacteria.
The sawdust and sequins are laid on thick, the period flashbulbs pop and the champagne flows in The Greatest Showman, yet this ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story. First-time director Michael Gracey exposes his roots in commercials and music videos by shaping a movie musical whose references go no further back than Baz Luhrmann. And despite a cast of proven vocalists led with his customary gusto by Hugh Jackman, the interchangeably generic pop songs are so numbingly overproduced they all sound like they’re being performed off-camera.
(24) STARGATE TEASER. The Verge reports —
After releasing a pair ofbehind-the-scenes clips from Stargate: Origins, MGM has unveiled its first teaser for the upcoming digital-only show. While the franchise is known for its interstellar adventures, this prequel looks as though it’s remaining firmly grounded, and taking a bit of inspiration from the likes of Indiana Jones.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, IanP, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Niall McAuley, Roger Silverstein, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mr Dalliard.]