The British Science Fiction Association today announced the shortlist of nominees for the BSFA Awards, for work published in 2021.
The awards are voted on by members of the British Science Fiction Association and by the members of the year’s Eastercon, the national science fiction convention, held since 1955. Voting opens for BSFA members on Monday, February 28 at bsfa.co.uk
This year’s Eastercon, Reclamation, will be held April 15-19, and is where the winners will be announced. The BSFA Awards ceremony will be free to attend by all members of Eastercon and nominees: details will be released closer to the date.
Members of the BSFA will receive a PDF with excerpts of the nominated works via an emailed newsletter in advance of the convention, and a physical copy of the Awards Booklet at a later date.
The BSFA Awards have been presented annually since 1970. This year marks the launch of a new category, the Best Book for Younger Readers.
BEST BOOK FOR YOUNGER READERS
The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
A Snake Falls to Earth, by Darcie Little Badger, Levine Querido
Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao, Rock the Boat
Redemptor, by Jordan Ifueko, Hot Key Books
The Empty Orchestra, by Elizabeth Priest, Luna Press Publishing
Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve, David Fickling Books
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine, Tor
Blackthorn Winter by Liz Williams, NewCon Press
Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts, Gollancz
Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor
Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley, Solaris
Green Man’s Challenge by Juliet E. McKenna, Wizard’s Tower Press
The British Science Fiction Association announced the BSFA Awards 2020 winners on April 4.
The BSFA Awards have been presented annually since 1970. The awards are voted on by members of the British Science Fiction Association and by the members of the year’s Eastercon, the national science fiction convention, held since 1955.
Iain Clarke, Shipbuilding Over the Clyde, Art for Glasgow in 2024 WorldCon bid.
Best Short Fiction (under 40,000 words)
Ida Keogh, ‘Infinite Tea in the Demara Cafe’, Londoncentric, Newcon Press. Edited by Ian Whates.
Adam Roberts, It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of?, Elliot & Thompson.
…In the midst of these difficult times, we want to assure everyone that we are actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation. We’re working hard to ascertain every contingency that may have an impact on WFC 2021. We will make modifications to our plans accordingly to keep our membership safe. We sincerely hope there will be progress in controlling and conquering the virus long before our convention, and we are quite confident we will be able to hold an in person convention. We look forward to welcoming you all to Montréal. Please feel free to contact us at any time with your concerns or questions….
(3) 2024 WORLDCON BID NEWS. The UK in 2024 bid committee aired this video update during the virtual Eastercon:
(4) SLF PODCAST LAUNCHES. The Speculative Literature Foundation has started a new podcast, “Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans”, hosted by Mary Anne Mohanraj and Benjamin Rosenbaum.
Join two old friends as they talk about science fiction, community, the writing life, teaching, parenting, and a whole lot more. Does Ben really think you should let your kids touch the stove, and did he really burn his son’s homework? Why did he write a novel with no men or women in it? What exactly did a young Mary Anne do to appall her aunts in college, and how did it lead circuitously to her founding science fiction’s longest-running webzine? Mohanraj and Rosenbaum… Are Humans? Yes, yes they are.
Episodes of the Spring 2021 season are being released on Mondays and Thursdays, starting March 22. They’re available on major podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, etc. Or tune into the “Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans” website. Episodes available so far are –
Mohanraj is the author of A Feast of Serendib, Bodies in Motion, The Stars Change, and twelve other titles. Mohanraj founded Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine Strange Horizons, and serves as Executive Director of both DesiLit (desilit.org) and the Speculative Literature Foundation (speclit.org). Rosenbaum’s short stories have been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Locus, BSFA, and World Fantasy Awards. He designed the Ennie-nominated Jewish historical fantasy tabletop roleplaying game Dream Apart, and serves on the board of Basel’s liberal Jewish congregation, Migwan. He lives in Switzerland with his wife Esther and a gradually emptying nest of children. His first SF novel, The Unravelling, is forthcoming from Erewhon Books.
(5) DC PROJECTS SHELVED. Two DC movies, Ava DuVernay’s New Gods and James Wan’s Aquaman spinoff The Trench, are “not moving forward” Warner Bros. and DC told The Hollywood Reporter.
…New Gods, which DuVernay has been developing as a directing vehicle with acclaimed comic book writer Tom King since 2018, would have brought to the screen the comic book characters created by the late and legendary artist Jack Kirby. DuVernay, however, remains in the DC fold and is currently working on the DC series Naomi for The CW.
The Trench, meanwhile, was to have been a horror-tinged project spinning out of Aquaman and focused on the group of deadly amphibious creatures seen in the $1 billion-grossing 2018 film. Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald had written the script, which Wan was developing as a producer with collaborator Peter Safran. Wan, too, remains in the DC fold as he is prepping to shoot Aquaman 2 for the studio later this year….
I believe that Good’s and Anselm’s arguments have something in common, which is that, in both cases, a lot of the work is being done by the initial definitions. These definitions seem superficially reasonable, which is why they are generally accepted at face value, but they deserve closer examination. I think that the more we scrutinize the implicit assumptions of Good’s argument, the less plausible the idea of an intelligence explosion becomes.
… Some proponents of an intelligence explosion argue that it’s possible to increase a system’s intelligence without fully understanding how the system works. They imply that intelligent systems, such as the human brain or an A.I. program, have one or more hidden “intelligence knobs,” and that we only need to be smart enough to find the knobs. I’m not sure that we currently have many good candidates for these knobs, so it’s hard to evaluate the reasonableness of this idea. Perhaps the most commonly suggested way to “turn up” artificial intelligence is to increase the speed of the hardware on which a program runs. Some have said that, once we create software that is as intelligent as a human being, running the software on a faster computer will effectively create superhuman intelligence. Would this lead to an intelligence explosion?…
(7) BLACK WIDOW SPINNING YOUR WAY. “We have unfinished business” is the keynote of Marvel Studios’ Black Widowtrailer dropped today. The movie comes to theaters or Disney+ with Premier Access on July 9.
(8) PENNY FRIERSON OBIT. Penny Frierson (1941-2021), co-chair of the 1986 Atlanta Worldcon, has died reports Guy H. Lillian III, who received the news through Charlotte Proctor.
Frierson joined fandom in 1968. She chaired DeepSouthCon 15 in Birmingham, AL in 1977 and helped found the Birmingham Science Fiction Club in 1978.
Penny also was a member of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance. She won the Rebel Award in 1986.
She was married to Meade Frierson III, who predeceased her in 2001.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 3, 1953 — In London sixty-eight years ago, The War Of The Worlds based on the H.G. wells novel had its very first theatrical showing. It was the recipient of a 1954 Retro-Hugo Award at Noreascon 4 in 2004. It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. It was deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant in 2011 by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 3, 1783 — Washington Irving. Best remembered for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, both of which appear in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. collection. The latter in particular has been endlessly reworked downed the centuries into genre fiction including the recent Sleepy Hollow series. (Died 1859.) (CE)
Born April 3, 1905 – Noel Loomis. Two novels, three dozen shorter stories for us (five at Project Gutenberg); also detective fiction; Westerns (including film, television) and related nonfiction: two Spur Awards, President of Western Writers of America. Also printing; he edited this. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born April 3, 1927 — Donald M. Grant. He was responsible for the creation of several genre small press publishers. He co-founded Grant-Hadley Enterprises in 1945, Buffalo Book Company in 1946, Centaur Press in 1970 and Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in 1964. Between 1976 and 2003, he won five World Fantasy Awards and a Balrog Award as well. (Died 2009.) (CE)
Born April 3, 1928 – Colin Kapp. A dozen novels, three dozen shorter stories; perhaps best known for the Unorthodox Engineers: collection recently republished for Kindle. CK was an engineer himself, though art doesn’t always work that way. Guest of Honour at Eastercon 31. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born April 3, 1929 — Ernest Callenbach. Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston was rejected by every major publisher so Callenbach initially self-published it. Ecotopia Emerging is a prequel and sequel as well was published later. Yes, I read both. As such fiction goes, they’re just ok. If you can find a copy, Christopher Swan’s YV 88: An Eco-Fiction of Tomorrow which depicts the rewilded Yosemite Valley is a much more interesting read. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born April 3, 1936 — Reginald Hill. Now this surprised me. He’s the author of the most excellent Dalziel and Pascoe copper series centered on profane, often piggish Andrew Dalziel, and his long suffering, more by the book partner Peter Pascoe solving traditional Yorkshire crimes. Well there’s a SF mystery in there set in 2010, many years after the other Dalziel and Pascoe stories, and involves them investigating the first Luna murder. I’ll need to read this one. There’s another with Peter Pascoe as a future European Pan Police Commissioner. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born April 3, 1946 — Lyn McConchie, 75. New Zealand author who has written three sequels in the Beast Master series that Andre Norton created and four novels in Norton’s Witch World as well. She has written a lot of Holmesian fiction, so I’ll just recommend her collection of short stories, Sherlock Holmes: Familar Crimes: New Tales of The Great Detective. She’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born April 3, 1950 – Mark Linneman, age 61. Helpful reliable fan often found where such are needed and even the non-monetary compensation we can grant is scant, e.g. tallying Worldcon Site Selection ballots, which ML has done four times I can think of. Often seen at Midwestcons, SMOFcons (Secret Masters Of Fandom, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke; con for studying, trying to improve, SF cons and like that). North America agent for Aussiecon 4 the 68th Worldcon. Guest of Honor at Concave 33. [JH]
Born April 3, 1950 – Tony Parker, age 71. Co-chaired TropiCon VIII-IX (with wife Judy Bemis). Guest of Honor at Concave 16 (with JB). Thoughtful and even (sorry, Tony) wise. [JH]
Born April 3, 1958 – Vanna Bonta. One novel, three collections of poetry. Voice actress in Beauty and the Beast (1991). She, her husband, and the zero-gravity suit she invented were in The Universe (2008); she designed a pressure-release device for high-combustion engines in NASA (U.S. Nat’l Aeronautics & Space Adm’n) and Northrop Grumman’s Lunar Lander Challenge. Among twelve thousand haiku submitted to NASA for inclusion with the Mars explorer MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere & Volatile EvolutioN), hers made the top five: “Thirty-six million / miles of whispering welcome. / Mars, you called us home.” You’ll see its alliteration; do attend to its ambiguity. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born April 3, 1958 — Alec Baldwin, 63. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve seen him in Beetlejuice as Adam Maitland since it’s one of my favorite films, period. Despite those who don’t like The Shadow and him in his dual role of Lamont Cranston and The Shadow, I’m quite fond of it. Let’s just skip past any mention of The Cat in the Hat… Ahhhh Rise of the Guardians where he voices Nicholas St. North is quite fantastic. Another go to, feel good film for me. He’s Alan Hunley in some of the Mission: Impossible franchise, a series I think I’ve only seen the first two films of. And here’s a weird one — the US. run of Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends replaced the U.K. narrator, some minor musician no one had ever heard of by the name of Ringo Starr, with him. (CE)
Born April 3, 1962 — James R. Black, 59. I’d like to say he’s best known for his leading role as Agent Michael Hailey on The Burning Zone but since it was short-lived and I’m not sure anyone actually watched it on UPN that might be stretching reality a bit. If you like great popcorn viewing, The Burning Zone is certainly worth seeing. Prior to his run on that series, he’s got a number of one-offs including Babylon 5, Deep Space 9, The Sentinel, Space: Above and Beyond with his first genre role being Doctor Death in Zombie Cop. (CE)
Born April 3, 1989 – Elaine Vilar Madruga, age 32. Two novels, fifty shorter stories, some in English: last year “Elsinore Revolution”, see the Jan/Feb Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; her poem “The Apocalypse According to My Name” in Spanish and English, see the Spring Star*Line; four more. [JH]
He’s been dissolved at the bottom of the ocean, frozen solid in an iceberg, blown up in a volcano, disintegrated in an atomic meltdown, and killed by missiles on the Brooklyn Bridge, but thanks to the millions of fans who love him, Godzilla will never die. Japan’s biggest star returns again in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the latest entry in the Big G’s ever-expanding filmography. Pitted against his hairy rival for the second time in history, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the fourth movie in Legendary Pictures popular MonsterVerse saga, which launched in 2014 with Gareth Edwards’ stylish reboot.
Like many long-running franchises, the Godzilla series has gone through a number of distinct phrases since its introduction. The first phrase, which covers the 15 titles released between 1954 and 1975, is commonly known by fans as the Showa era. These kaiju films (kaiju is the Japanese term for giant monster) are marked by their dramatic shift in tone, from the somber and haunting original classic to the wonderfully ludicrous “Godzilla vs. Hedorah.”
The second phase is often referred to as the Heisei era, and it includes the seven titles released between 1984 and 1995. These Godzilla films feature a greater sense of narrative continuity, and they ask complex philosophical questions about science and humanity. The third phase is the Millennium era, which covers the six titles released between 1999 and 2004. The majority of these Godzilla films are self-contained stories, much like an anthology series. There have also been a number of standalone reboots, both Japanese and American, that put their own unique spin on the character.
To help you program the ultimate monster marathon, here’s our Godzilla movie ranking, listed from wretched worst to bestial best. Long live the lizard king!
The study examined astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days about the International Space Station, and endurance swimmer Benoît Lecomte. Swimming for extended periods of time is a useful model for time spent in orbit. Lecomte trained over five hours a day for five months preparing to swim the Pacific Ocean.
Both Kelly and Lecomte showed signs of heart atrophy and lost mass in the organ — 19 to 27 percent loss in Kelly.
One of the things we’ve learned over many years of study, is that the heart is remarkably plastic. So the heart adapts to the load that’s placed on it. …
In spaceflight, one of the things that happens, is you no longer have to pump blood uphill, because you’re not pumping against gravity….
(15) WITCHER WRAP. Netflix dropped a behind-the-scenes trailer for season 2 of The Witcher.
15 locations, 89 cast members, and 1,200 crew members later, The Witcher has officially wrapped production on Season 2! Here’s a look behind-the-scenes at some of the excitement among the cast and crew – led by showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich.
Researchers have demonstrated just how easy it is to trick the mind into remembering something that didn’t happen. They also used two very simple techniques to reverse those false memories, in a feat that paves the way for a deeper understanding of how memory works….
“When people describe a memory, they will say that they are ‘absolutely certain’ of it. But this certainty can be an illusion. We suffer from the illusion of believing that our memories are accurate and pure,” Lisa Son, professor of Psychology at Barnard College of Columbia University, told Gizmodo. “This is despite the fact that we, in fact, forget all the time.”
Indeed, our minds are able to fabricate memories of entire events just by piecing together bits of stories, photographs, and anecdotes somebody else shares. These so-called false memories have been a hot topic of research for a while now, and there’s growing evidence that they could be a widespread phenomenon, according to a 2016 analysis of the field.
Building off of that, Oeberst’s lab recently implanted false memories in 52 people by using suggestive interviewing techniques. First, they had the participants’ parents privately answer a questionnaire and come up with some real childhood memories and two plausible, but fake, ones—all negative in nature, such as how their pet died or when they lost their toy. Then they had researchers ask the participants to recall these made-up events in a detailed manner, including specifics about what happened. For example, “Your parents told us that when you were 12 years old during a holiday in Italy with your family you got lost. Can you tell me more about it?”
The test subjects met their interviewer three times, once every two weeks, and by the third session most participants believed these anecdotes were true, and over half (56%) developed and recollected actual false memories—a significantly higher percentage than most studies in this area of research….
… After tests in NASA laboratories had initially stirred up hope that the so-called EmDrive could represent a revolutionary, fuel-free alternative to space propulsion, the sobering final reports on the results of intensive tests and analyzes of three EmDrive variants by physicists at the Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden) are now available. Grenzwissenschaft-Aktuell.de (GreWi) has exclusively interviewed the head of studies Prof. Dr. Martin Tajmar about the results….
…A total of 12 humans have stepped foot on the lunar surface, all of whom were part of the Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972, according to NASA. The footage that was beamed back to Earth showed how challenging (and, apparently, fun) it was to walk — or more accurately, bounce — around in the moon’s low gravity, which is one-sixth the gravity of Earth.
However, research from NASA has since suggested that it is possible for humans to maneuver much faster on the moon than the Apollo astronauts did. Theoretically, walking the circumference of the moon could be done faster than previously predicted.
Picking up the pace
During the Apollo missions, astronauts bounced around the surface at a casual 1.4 mph (2.2 km/h), according to NASA. This slow speed was mainly due to their clunky, pressurized spacesuits that were not designed with mobility in mind. If the “moonwalkers” had sported sleeker suits, they might have found it a lot easier to move and, as a result, picked up the pace.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Persona 5 Strikers” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this game combines the happy joys of teenagers vacationing in Japan with the thrill of ‘spending 80 hours slaughtering one billion people,” a combination that’s like “peanut butter and methamphetamines.”
[Thanks to Alan Baumler, Cat Eldridge, Guy H. Lillian III, JJ, John Hertz, Lorien Gray, Rob Thornton, JeffWarner, Andrew Porter, rcade, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
(1) BSFA AWARDS CEREMONY. The British Science Fiction Association will present the BSFA Awards in a live YouTube broadcast on Sunday, April 4 at 5 p.m. (9 a.m. Pacific). View here. (See the finalists on BSFA Awards 2020 Shortlist.)
The 2020 Cosmos Prize generated a fair amount of interest and some entertaining results, so we’re re-upping with a very different challenge… a challenge from beyond.
This year’s contest seeks illustrations for the twin collaborative stories, “The Challenge From Beyond,” published in the September 1935 issue of Fantasy Magazine.
The prominent early fanzine convinced two sets of professional authors to each develop a story based only on the title — one in the science fiction genre, the other as “weird fantasy.” For the science fiction variant, the contributors were Stanley G. Weinbaum, Donald Wandrei, Edward E. Smith, Ph.D., Harl Vincent and Murray Leinster. The fantasy alternative was penned by C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Jr.
One Grand Prize consisting of $300us in cash, as well as copies of FFE’s publications: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume One: The 1930s; The Earliest Bradbury; Roy V. Hunt: A Retrospective; and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos.
One Second Prize consisting of $100us in cash, as well as copies of two FFE’s publication: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume One: The 1930s and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos.
Two Third Prizes, each consisting of $50us in cash, as well as copies of two FFE publications: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume One: The 1930s and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos.
All prize winners will also receive an FFE lapel pin. Prize-winning submissions will be published on the FFE website and may also be included in future print and digital publications.
(3) RIVERDALE EPISODE RECAP (BEWARE SPOILERS). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Riverdale this year, Archie and the gang graduated high school. The show then jumped eight years, and we found out that Veronica is a venture capitalist, Betty is an FBI agent, and Archie is a veteran who served in combat (but not in any war on our timeline, because the show is set in an alternate-universe 1980s with VHS tapes and no internet). Jughead Jones went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and became a hip novelist complete with groovy goatee. But for reasons I’ll skip, he’s back in Riverdale teaching high school.
Jones gets a phone call from his agent, who looks like Dick Vitale. The agent has placed an excerpt from his new novel with Pop Culture Weekly. “I’ve taken Stephen King’s spot,” the agent says, “but you’ve got to write more like King and less like Raymond Carver.” But Jughead hasn’t written anything on his novel because he’s got writer’s block. What to do?
We learn that Jughead’s first novel was written with the aid of the potent mushrooms grown on Riverdale’s renowned maple trees. These mushrooms are so potent that Jughead wrote a 500-page manuscript while stonkered on shrooms. So Jughead decides to take the mushrooms again, but enlists a friend to help him out.
The friend shows up and turns the mushrooms into a sauce, which Jughead uses to garnish “the first psychedelic hamburger.” So the friend promises to show up and check in on Jughead, but just to make sure he writes, she handcuffs him to his writing chair. So Jughead starts writing, loaded on mushrooms and…
…Well, stay tuned, because Riverdale is off the air until May!
(4) LASKOWSKI CONNECTION SOUGHT. Guy H. Lillian III needs help getting fanzine reprint permission:
In hopes of reprinting some part of his terrific Ted Sturgeon issue of Lan’s Lantern (1991), I am searching for George “Lan” Laskowski’s survivors and for the contributors to that issue (#36). Any assistance will be met with credits in the next edition of my genzine, Challenger, and my effusive gratitude. Also, any directions towards published articles or anecdotes about Ted will likewise be greatly appreciated — as will your own memories or impressions of Sturgeon and/or his work. Help!
Email Guy at GHLIII@yahoo.com. Or phone: (318) 218-2345. Or write a letter: 1390 Holly Avenue, Merritt Island FL 32952.
…Reaction to Eleven-ThirtyEight’s tweet was immediate, at Wookieepedia and in wider Star Wars circles. Votes supporting the decision to change the policy, as well as discussion around the controversial nature of the vote in the first place, flooded the page. Even prominent figures from the world of official Star Wars works began commenting on the vote, including writers Daniel José Older (currently working on Lucasfilm’s The High Republic publishing initiative) and E.K. Johnston (the writer of multiple Star Wars novels, including Ahsoka and the Padmé Amidala trilogy).
…Throughout the backlash, Wookieepedia’s social presence remained as it usually did—tweeting about Star Wars media highlights and fandom jokes, even as fans in their mentions decried the voting process, and other fandom hubs began to formally decry the site’s position. TheForce.Net’s forums temporarily banned links to Wookieepedia content while the vote was ongoing, and even fellow fan sites like the Transformers franchise wiki TFWiki (not operated by Fandom, Inc.) released statements pushing back against the vote and Wookieepedia’s response to the situation.
Gene Luen Yang slept fitfully the night of March 16 — the day that six Asian women were among the eight people killed in the Atlanta spa shootings. The next morning, he saw that #AsiansAreHuman was trending — a hashtag that felt “disturbingly familiar.”
So Yang did what he has devoted much of his career to: writing and drawing art that promotes empathy and understanding.The Bay Area author created a short-form comic, he said this week, because he was “trying to make sense of what’s happening in America right now” amid a national spike in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic.
“We’re not jokes to make you laugh. We’re not props for the background of your selfie. We’re not punching bags for when you’re angry about a virus,” says Yang’s comic avatar.
“People from all over, of all different backgrounds, reached out to me to express solidarity,” Yang says. “I felt understood and that there is a path leading to the future. It exists — we just have to find it.”….
…The technical side is a problem on several levels. Thankfully, shortly after I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa back in 2001, I took a touch-typing course (not knowing at the time how much I’d benefit from it years later as a writer). So, the writing part is maybe the least of the visual difficulties. What’s harder is when it comes time to do the full revision of a manuscript, painstakingly battling to focus on each word. …
The creative difficulties are much more interesting. When describing what something looks like, I often have to put trust in my memory from when I had better eyesight. Nowadays, even people’s facial expressions are usually lost on me. Hell, I haven’t been able to see my own face well enough to recognize it for years. The hardest part isn’t describing what my point-of-view character is seeing, it’s knowing whether they “should” be able to see it, be it in the darkness, bright light, the corner of their eye, at varying distances, and so on. I’m completely night-blind, and I have tunnel vision, daylight sensitivity, colour blindness, blurry central vision, and distortions. That doesn’t make it easy to write a “normal-sighted” character.
Kaelen’s first novel, The Blighted City, was a semifinalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO). He wrote a personal essay on the Before We Go blog about being discharged from the military when he was diagnosed, going through a “dark decade” and having a surgery 10 years ago that made things much worse:
… I allowed German eye doctors to slice my eyeballs open, take out my lenses and replace them with plastic ones. …
I had comparatively been coping with the night blindness and tunnel vision, but my central vision quickly deteriorated and my depth perception was affected. A room now looked like a faded painting. The smaller details had gone and I could no longer recognise people as easily. I seethed over what the doctors had done to me, how they hadn’t taken into account and told me about the higher chance of complications from such operations for people with my condition. And so, there I was: living in a foreign land, able to converse on a basic level but ultimately unemployable, with extreme difficulties on public transport and in crowded areas, miserable and directionless. I asked myself what I could do to put some purpose into my life. The answer came quickly and stunned me with its apparent simplicity. I would become a writer…
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 2, 2005 — On this day in 2005, The Quatermass Experiment premiered. It was a live television event remake of the 1953 television series of the same name by Nigel Kneale. It was written by Richard Fell and directed by Sam Miller. It starred Jason Flemyng was cast as Quatermass, with long-time Kneale admirer Mark Gatiss as Paterson, Andrew Tiernan as Carroon, Indira Varma as his wife Judith, David Tennant as Briscoe, Adrian Bower as Fullalove and Adrian Dunbar as Lomax. The critics really liked it and it became BBC Four’s fourth-highest-rated program of all time. It’s not that popular at Rotten Tomatoes where the audience reviewers give it only a 47% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 2, 1805 – Hans Christian Andersen. Novels, plays, poems, travelogues. He gave us a hundred fifty fairy tales, e.g. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, “Thumbelina”, “The Ugly Duckling”; fantasy for sure, but some amount to science fiction: “The Wicked Prince” (1840) has a ship that can sail through the air, guns that fire a thousand bullets. (Died 1875) [JH]
Born April 2, 1847 – Flora Annie Steel. Author-collector, lived a score of years in British India. One novel, fifty shorter stories for us; Tales of the Punjab illustrated by John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard; English Fairy Tales; ten other novels, half a dozen other books of shorter stories, a cookbook, history, memoirs, The Woman Question. (Died 1929) [JH]
Born April 2, 1914 — Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!) That’s it for filmed genre roles but theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth at Sheffield. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born April 2, 1921 – Redd Boggs. Minneapolis and Los Angeles fan; big name in the 1940s and 1950s. Fanzines Discord (and Discard), Sky Hook, Spirochete. N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n) Laureate Award as Best Fanwriter. See a 1983 letter from him in Izzard 6 here. More here. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born April 2, 1933 — Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator who provided numerous book covers for paperback of genre novels for Ballantine Books in the Seventies. He’s particularly known for his work on the paperback editions of Brunner novels such as The Shockwave Rider which you can see here and Stand on Zanzibar that you can see over here. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born April 2, 1939 — Elliot K. Shorter. He began attending cons in the early Sixties and was a major figure in fandom through the Seventies. Some of the zines he worked on were Engram, the Heicon Flyer and Niekas. He was the TAFF winner at Heicon, the 28th Worldcon, in Heidelberg Germany. And he helped Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon. Mike has a detailed obituary here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born April 2, 1945 — Linda Hunt, 76. Her first film role was Mrs. Holly Oxheart In Popeye. (Anyone here who’s disputing that’s genre?) She goes on to be Shadout Mapes in Lynch’s Dune. (Very weird film.) Next up is Dragonfly, a Kevin Costner fronted horror film as Sister Madeline. And in a quirky role, she voices Lady Proxima, the fearsome Grindalid matriarch of the White Worms, in Solo: A Star Wars Story. (CE)
Born April 2, 1948 — Joan D. Vinge, 73. Best known I think for The Snow Queen which won a well-deserved Hugo at Denvention Two and its sequels, her most excellent series about the young telepath named Cat, and her Heaven’s Chronicles, the latter which I’ve not read. Her first new book in almost a decade after her serious car accident was the 2011 novelization of Cowboys & Aliens. And I find it really neat that she wrote the anime and manga reviews for The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies. (CE)
Born April 2, 1948 – Teny Zuber, age 73. Widow of Bernie Zuber (fanartist and original vice-president of the Mythopoeic Society, d. 2005). Active in and near L.A. in 1970s and 1980s (and BZ much earlier); they promoted the 1978 Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings film. [JH]
Born April 2, 1953 – Anne Mazer, age 68. Eight novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; twoscore books all told. One Booklist Editor’s Choice, one American Lib’y Ass’n Notable book. Likes Hugh Lofting’s Twilight of Magic, the only HL book illustrated by another (Lois Lenski). [JH]
Born April 2, 1978 — Scott Lynch, 41. His only Award to date is a BFA for Best Newcomer. Author of Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is now at three, and he’s stated that it’ll eventually be seven books in length. And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors? (CE)
Born April 2, 1984 – David Dalglish, age 37. Two dozen books, a dozen shorter stories. Has read Sense and Sensibility, Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Foundation. Recommends King’s On Writing. [JH]
If you’re anything like me, you might have enhanced your friends’ enjoyment of space adventure films by pointing out at great length and in fascinating detail just why the crowded asteroid belts backgrounds that appear in so many of these films are implausible and inaccurate! Our solar system asteroids are far from crowded. If you were to find yourself on the surface of a typical asteroid, you probably wouldn’t be able to see your closest rocky neighbour with a naked eye.
Are there situations in which these visuals wouldn’t be misleading? Can we imagine places where we could expect what appears to be an impending Kessler Syndrome on a solar scale?
(11) GOING APE. Camestros Felapton verifies that Greater Sydney is still there and comes home with a movie review: “I Went to an Actual Cinema and Watched Godzilla v King Kong”. It doesn’t seem to me there are any spoilers here, just the same, BEWARE SPOILERS, because how do I know what it takes to spoil your fun?
…It was a big cinema theatre and not very busy. I was the only person I noticed wearing a mask but I had about eight rows to myself. I figured that if I was going to watch a very big ape hit a very big lizard, I should do so in front of a very big screen and as close as possible. This was a wise choice.
Of all the US versions of Godzilla I’ve seen, this one was the most in tune with the Japanese Toho movies. I’ve seen many of the Japanese Godzilla films but only a fraction of the total and often I was drunk or half asleep (because it was late, not because the film was boring), so I won’t claim to be a Godzilla expert. The key for a true Godzilla movie is the plot shouldn’t matter but it should be crammed with weird ideas that flow easily across sci-fi and fantasy tropes. Godzilla v Kong delivers that in sufficient quantity…
Have you ever wondered which public figure would be most fit to lead the world, in the event of an alien invasion? Today, a U.K. poll of 2000 British adults found that the answer is Arnold Schwarzenegger….
On the list of 20 celebrities “who would best deal with an alien invasion,” Independence Day star Will Smith came in second. Interestingly, former President Donald Trump appeared on the list in eighth place, besting current President Joe Biden (in last place) and Vice President Kamala Harris (in 19th). Other celebs that made the list include Sir David Attenborough, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Gillian Anderson, and others….
(13) YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETELY MISSED IT.[Item by Danny Sichel.] SIGBOVIK 2021 was held yesterday and is rewatchable on YouTube.
In science, there are serious questions and silly questions, and serious methods and silly methods. Normal scientific conferences explore serious questions via serious methods. This leaves three whole quadrants of research unexamined. SIGBOVIK, organized by Carnegie Mellon University’s Association for Computational Heresy, fills this much-needed gap.
SIGBOVIK 2021 is the fifteenth edition of this esteemed conference series, which was formed in 2007 to celebrate the inestimable and variegated work of Harry Quarter-dollar Bovik. We especially welcome the three neglected quadrants of research: joke realizations of joke ideas, joke realizations of serious ideas, and serious realizations of joke ideas. (In other words: SIGBOVIK is an evening of tongue-in-cheek academic presentations, a venue for silly ideas and/or executions.)
The proceedings of the past several years of SIGBOVIK are available as free PDFs.
(14) THE NEW NUMBER 2. Jon Del Arroz doesn’t rank anywhere on the poll of public figures who’ll be called on to lead the world in case of alien invasion, so he was understandably pleased with the consolation prize.
Estimated to be about 1,100 feet (340 meters) across, Apophis quickly gained notoriety as an asteroid that could pose a serious threat to Earth when astronomers predicted that it would come uncomfortably close in 2029. Thanks to additional observations of the near-Earth object (NEO), the risk of an impact in 2029 was later ruled out, as was the potential impact risk posed by another close approach in 2036. Until this month, however, a small chance of impact in 2068 still remained.
When Apophis made a distant flyby of Earth around March 5, astronomers took the opportunity to use powerful radar observations to refine the estimate of its orbit around the Sun with extreme precision, enabling them to confidently rule out any impact risk in 2068 and long after.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Watch the pilot episode of Interforce: Seoul, an animated superhero sci-fi actioner with English subtitles
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, rcade, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Danny Sichel, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The BSFA Awards have been presented annually since 1970. The awards are voted on by members of the British Science Fiction Association and by the members of the year’s Eastercon, the national science fiction convention, held since 1955. The winners will be announced at this year’s Eastercon, ConFusion, which will be held online 2-5th April 2021,
Iain Clarke, Shipbuilding Over the Clyde, Art for Glasgow in 2024 WorldCon bid.
Fangorn, Covers of Robot Dreams series.
Ruby Gloom, Cover of Nikhil Singh’s Club Ded, Luna Press Publishing.
Sinjin Li, Cover of Eli Lee’s, A Strange and Brilliant Light, Jo Fletcher Books.
Nani Walker, Four Black Lives Matter Murals in AR. Using drone photogrammetry, Nani Sahra Walker produced 3-D models of four Black Lives Matter murals as memorials to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others killed by police. Published by the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with RYOT and reported by Dorany Pineda.
Anne Charnock, ‘All I Asked For’, Fictions, Healthcare and Care Re-Imagined. Edited by Keith Brookes, at Future Care Capital.
Dilman Dila, ‘Red_Bati’, Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, AURELIA LEO. Edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.
Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, ‘Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon’, Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, AURELIA LEO. Edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.
Ida Keogh, ‘Infinite Tea in the Demara Cafe’, Londoncentric, Newcon Press. Edited by Ian Whates.
Tobi Ogundiran, ‘Isn’t Your Daughter Such a Doll’, Shoreline of Infinity.
Francesca T Barbini (ed.), Ties That Bind: Love in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Luna Press.
Paul Kincaid, The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest, Gylphi Press.
Andrew Milner and J.R. Burgmann, Science Fiction and Climate Change, Liverpool University Press.’
Adam Roberts, It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of?, Elliot & Thompson.
Jo Lindsay Walton, ‘Estranged Entrepreneurs’, Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction.
Jo Walton, ‘Books in Which No Bad Things Happen’, Tor.com.
Note: The two non-fiction nominees with similar names, Jo Walton and Jo Lindsay Walton, are two different people.
Tiffani Angus, Threading the Labyrinth, Unsung Stories.
Susanna Clarke, Piranesi, Bloomsbury.
M. John Harrison, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, Gollancz.
N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became, Orbit.
Gareth L. Powell, Light of Impossible Stars, Titan Books.
Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, Orbit.
Nikhil Singh, Club Ded, Luna Press.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Doors of Eden, Tor.
Liz Williams, Comet Weather, Newcon Press.
Nick Wood, Water Must Fall, Newcon Press.
There was a multiple tie for fifth place this year. The committee decided that instead of abbreviating the shortlist, all nominees would be included.
British Science Fiction Association members will have from January 18 until February 5 to help choose the BSFA Awards shortlists for works published in 2020. The voting form is available to BSFA members here.
In the first round, members nominated a longlist of 46 novels, 43 works of short fiction, 19 items of nonfiction, and 27 artworks.
Once voters have determined the shortlist, BSFA members and members of the British national science fiction convention Eastercon will vote for the winners.
The full longlists are as follows:
88 Names by Matt Ruff (HarperCollins)
Afterland by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books)
Analogue/Virtual by Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Hachette)
Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow (Tor)
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis (St Martin’s Press)
Beneath The Rising by Premee Mohamed (Solaris)
Bridge 108 by Anne Charnock (47North)
Burn by Patrick Ness (Quill Tree)
Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu (Simon & Schuster)
Club Ded by Nikhil Singh (Luna Press)
Comet Weather by Liz Williams (NewCon)
Dark Angels Rising by Ian Whates (Newcon Press)
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata (Granta)
Fearless by Allen Stroud (Flame Tree Publishing)
Ghost Species by James Bradley (Hodder & Stoughton)
Greensmith by Aliya Whiteley (Unsung Stories)
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com)
Ivory’s Story by Eugen Bacon (NewCon Press)
King of the Rising by Kacen Callender (Orbit)
Light of Impossible Stars by Gareth L. Powell (Titan)
Liquid Crystal Nightingale by Eeleen Lee (Abaddon)
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (Oneworld)
Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston (Tor.com)
Mordew by Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar)
Network Effect by Martha Wells (Tor.com)
Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen (Orbit)
Noumenon Ultra by Marina J. Lostetter (Harper Voyager)
People of the Canyons by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear (Forge Books)
Picard: Last Best Hope by Una McCormack (Simon & Schuster)
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
Saints of Salvation by Peter F Hamilton (Del Rey)
Saving Lucia by Anna Vaught (Bluemoose)
Space Station Down by Ben Bova & Doug Beason (Tor Books)
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang (Head of Zeus)
The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey (Orbit)
The Breach by M.T. Hill (Titan)
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit)
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)
The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
The Evidence by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
The God Game by Danny Tobey (St. Martin’s Press)
The Last Human by Zack Jordan (Del Rey)
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (Oneworld)
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Hachette)
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Saga)
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Silence by Don DeLillo (Picador)
The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez (Titan)
Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus (Unsung Stories)
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (Tor)
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott (Tor)
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell (Sceptre)
War of the Maps by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)
Water Must Fall by Nick Wood (NewCon Press)
A Voyage to Queensthroat by Anya Johanna DeNiro (Strange Horizons)
All I Asked For by Anne Charnock (Future Care Capital)
All Your Bases, Yada-Yada by Paula Hammond (Third_Flatiron)
Always Forever Today, Andrew Hook (Frequencies of Existence)
Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super, by A.T. Greenblatt (UncannyMagazine)
Carnival by Milton Davis (Hadithi and the State of Black Speculative Fiction)
Cofiwch Aberystwyth by Val Nolan (Interzone, TTA Press)
Convergence in Chorus Architecture by Dare Segun Falowo (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora)
Devil’s Road by Gary Gibson (NewCon)
Fairy Tales for Robots by Sofia Samatar (Made to Order)
Firewalkers by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)
Flight by Claire Wrenwood (Tor.com)
Fog and Pearls at the King’s Cross Junction by Aliya Whiteley (LondonCentric)
Georgie in the Sun by Natalia Theodoridou (UncannyMagazine)
Give Me My Wings by Eneasz Brodski (Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses)
Grubane by Karl Drinkwater (Organic Apocalypse)
Honeybones by Georgina Bruce (TTA Press)
Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Oghenechovwe Ekpeki (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora)
In the Storm, a Fire by Andrew Dana Hudson and Jay Springett (And Lately, The Sun)
Infinite Tea in the Demara Cafe by Ida Keogh (LondonCentric)
Isn’t Your Daughter Such a Doll by Tobi Ogundiran (Shoreline of Infinity)
Ivory’s Story by Eugen M. Bacon (NewCon)
Make America Great Again by Val Nolan (Interzone, TTA Press)
Mist Songs of Delhi by Sid Jain (PodCastle)
Odette by Zen Cho (Shoreline of Infinity)
Paper Hearts by Justina Robson (NewCon)
Placed into Abyss (Mise en Abyse) by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com)
Rat and Finch are Friends, by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Strange Horizons)
Red_Bati by Dilman Dila (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora)
Rocket Man by Louis Evans (Interzone, TTA Press)
Saving Simon by Allen Stroud (Forgotten Sidekicks, Kristell Ink)
Selkie Summer by Ken McLeod (NewCon)
Seven Days in Geocenter by Yu Yu (no publisher information)
Seven Dreams of a Valley by Prashanth Srivatsa (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Sin Eater by Ian R. MacLeod (Made to Order)
Singularity by Davide Mana (Shoreline of Infinity)
Soaring, the World on their Shoulders by Cécile Cristofari (Interzone, TTA Press)
SoulShine by Koji A. Dae (Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses)
The Abduction of Europe, Andrew Hook, in Frequencies of Existence (NewCon)
The Continuity by Philip Berry (And Lately, The Sun)
The Good Shepherd by Stewart Hotson (LondonCentric)
The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald (Tor.com)
The Road to Woop Woop by Eugen Bacon (The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories)
The Roman Road by Vajra Chandrasekera (Fireside)
The Thirteenth Floor by Robert Bagnall (Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses)
The Torch by Samantha Walton (Gutter Magazine)
The Translator, at Low Tide by Vajra Chandrasekera (Clarkesworld Magazine)
The Unclean by Nuzo Onoh (Dominion: An Anthology of Black Speculative Fiction)
Time’s Own Gravity by Alexander Glass (Interzone, TTA Press)
To Set at Twilight in a Land of Reeds by Natalia Theodoridou (Clarkesworld Magazine)
Warsuit by Gary Gibson (Interzone, TTA Press)
We are Still Here by Anya Ow (Shoreline of Infinity)
We Will Become as Monsters by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Future Fire)
Yellow and the Perception of Reality by Maureen McHugh (Tor.com)
You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh (DC Comics)
You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South (Fsg Originals)
Art for Glasgow in 2024 WorldCon bid by Iain Clarke (Shipbuilding Over the Clyde)
Cityscape by Myriam Wares
Cover of Aliya Whiteley’s Greensmith
Cover of Dark River by Rym Kechacha
Cover of Eli Li’s A Strange and Brilliant Light by Sinjin Li
Cover of Hag: Forgotten Tales Retold
Cover of Hao Jingfang’s Vagabonds
Cover of Ian Whates’s Dark Angels Rising by Jim Burns
Cover of Judge DreddMegazine #426 by Tim Napper
Cover of Juliana Rew’s (ed.) Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses by Keely Rew
Cover of M. John Harrison’s The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by Micaela Alcaino
Cover of Mary South’s You Will Never Be Forgotten by Jamie Keenan
Cover of Nature 22 October 2020 by Paul Klee (‘Vaccine Design’)
Cover of Neal Asher’s Lockdown Tales by Vincent Sammy
Cover of Nick Wood’s Water Must Fall by Vincent Sammy
Cover of Nikhil Singh’s Club Ded by Ruby Gloom
Cover of Patrick Ness’s Burn by Alejandro Colucci
Cover of Robot Dreams series by Fangorn (NewCon)
Cover of Sayaka Murata’s Earthlings
Cover of Shoreline of Infinity 17 by Siobhan McDonald
Cover of Shoreline of Infinity 18 by Jackie Duckworth
Cover of Shoreline of Infinity 19 by Stephen Daly
Cover of Storm Constantine and Wendy Darling’s (eds) Para Mort by Ruby
Cover of The Breach by M.T. Hill
Four Black Lives Matter murals from LA rendered in VR/AR by multiple artists
Illustration for Val Nolan’s ‘Make America Great Again’ by Richard Wagner
Ponte La Mascara! by Noe Leyva (interior art for Cortex Prime RPG rulebook)
Samraaji Skyhavens by Steven Sanders (interior art for Terra Oblivion RPG rulebook, p. 42)
Shing Yin Khor’s series of famous artworks re-created in Animal Crossing.
At the Brink: Electronic Literature, Technology, and the Peripheral Imagination at the Atlantic Edge by Anne Karhio (Electronic Book Review)
Beachcombing: And other oddments by David Langford (Ansible Editions)
Big Echo Interviews ed. Robert G Penner (Big Echo)
‘Books in Which No Bad Things Happen’ by Jo Walton (Tor.com)
Diseases of the Head: Essays on the Horrors of Speculative Philosophy ed. Matt Rosen (Punctum)
‘Estranged Entrepreneurs’ by Jo Lindsay Walton (Foundation)
‘How Science Fiction Imagined the 2020s’ by Tim Maughan (OneZero)
‘How the Federation Overcame its Shipbuilding Gap for the defense of Coppelius in Star Trek: Picard‘ by Claude Berube (NavyCon)
It’s the End of the World: But what are we afraid of? by Adam Roberts (Elliott & Thompson)
‘Review of M. John Harrison’s Settling the World‘ by Martin Petto (Strange Horizons)
Science Fiction and Climate Change by Andrew Milner and JR Burgmann (Liverpool University Press)
‘The 2020 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist’ by Nandini Ramachandran (Strange Horizons)
The Jonbar Point: Essays from SF Horizons by Brian Aldiss, with an introduction by Christopher Priest (Ansible Editions)
The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest by Paul Kincaid (Gylphi)
Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction ed. Francesca T. Barbini (Luna Press)
‘Zones of Possibility: Science Fiction and the Coronavirus’ by Rob Latham (Los Angeles Review of Books)
(1) BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARDS FICTION FINALISTS. One work of genre interest survived the cut to make the finals for the 2020 Best Translated Book Awards, The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Japan, Pantheon). The complete shortlist is at the link.
The award, founded by Three Percent at the University of Rochester, comes with $10,000 in prizes from the Amazon Literary Partnership. The prize will be split evenly between the winning authors and translators. The winners will be announced on May 27.
(2) SFWA REFERENDUM. An overwhelming majority of SFWA members favor including authorship of sff/h graphic novels and comics as qualifications for membership according to the ”2020 Election Question Results” posted today on the SFWA Blog.
During the recent SFWA elections… the voting members of the organization also voted on two questions.
Question: Should SFWA allow writing of graphic novels and comics in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and related genres to be used as qualification for membership?
Question: As noted in the January 31st email to members, “active members” has a specific meaning, thus leading to our need to change our membership class name for Active members. Which name would you prefer to be called?
Full Member 47.19% General Member 11.99% Regular Member 6.89% Voting Member 33.93%
In the coming weeks, the board will be discussing the implementation of the graphic novel question and will make an announcement when the rules for admittance under the new rules are open.
(3) BSFA AWARDS STREAMING SCHEDULE. BSFA, the British Science Fiction Association, invites fans to attend their award ceremony for works published in 2019 on YouTubehere on Sunday May 17. They will be announcing the winners of Best Novel, Best Shorter Fiction, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Artwork from 7 p.m. BST.
Sometimes you’re watching a lot of Clone Wars, and sometimes your brain points out little innocuous things to you… like the fact that Jedi never seem to have luggage.
So, during the Clone Wars, Jedi are dispatched across the galaxy constantly to handle various galactic disputes, battles, and diplomatic messes. Often, they take Jedi starfighters and land them on big Republic cruisers, giving them flexibility to come and go as they need to. When they sleep, it’s typically on planets during missions, or it’s in quarters on the bigger ships. Sometimes there’s a chance to get back to the Jedi Temple and sleep in quarters there, but generally, they’re on the go all the time.
Yet you’ll never find them slinging a weekender over their shoulder, or dragging a little rolly carry-on bag behind them….
Micrashell was born as a socially responsible solution to safely allow people to interact in close proximity. Specifically designed to satisfy the needs of nightlife, live events and entertainment industries, Micrashell is a virus-shielded, easy to control, fun to wear, disinfectable, fast to deploy personal protective equipment (PPE) that allows socializing without distancing….
Here’s a snip from the long list of advantages:
BASIC NEEDS & SUIT HANDLING • “Top only” suit design allows the user to wear their normal clothes, use the toilet and engage in intercourse without being exposed to respiratory risks • Hand latch system to facilitate dressing and undressing the suit
…Postal leaders and their allies have made unusually blunt appeals for support in recent weeks, running advertisements on President Trump’s favorite Fox News programs and laying out an urgent account of how the pandemic has had a “devastating effect” on the U.S. mail service. Without a financial rescue from Congress, they have warned, an agency that normally runs without taxpayer funds could run out of cash as soon as late September, raising the specter of bankruptcy and an interruption in regular delivery for millions of Americans.
But after nearly reaching a bipartisan deal for a multibillion dollar bailout in the last coronavirus rescue package in late March, Republicans and Democrats have sharply diverged over whether to provide a lifeline. Now, the fight over the future of the Postal Service has spilled onto the campaign trail, increasingly freighted by deeply held disagreements about labor rights, the role of government versus private enterprise in providing basic services, and voting access.
(7) NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. “Travelling Text”: The London Review of Books’ Marina Warner discurses on The Arabian Nights and a book of essays about them.
Like a dance craze or a charismatic cult, The Arabian Nights seized readers’ imaginations as soon as translations first appeared – in French between 1704 and 1717, and in English from 1708. Oriental fever swept through salons and coffee-houses, the offices of broadsheet publishers and theatrical impresarios; the book fired a train of imitations, spoofs, turqueries, Oriental tales, extravaganzas. It changed tastes in dress and furniture – the sofa, the brocade dressing-gown – and even enhanced the taste of coffee. In fact its diaspora almost mimics the triumphant progress of coffee, as it metamorphosed from the thimbles of thick dark syrup drunk in Damascus and Istanbul and Cairo to today’s skinny latte, macchiato et al. Antoine Galland, the French savant and explorer who discovered and translated the earliest manuscript in Syria in the late 17th century, also published a translation of an Arabic treatise in praise of coffee, one of the first if not the first of its kind. It is his bowdlerised version of the stories that dominated their diaspora, from the ‘Arabian Nights’ Entertainments’, serialised in 445 instalments over three years in the London News, to the fantasies of the Ballets Russes, to the 1924 Thief of Baghdad, to Disney’s Aladdin and Sinbad.
In the countries of the book’s origin, the stories were considered popular trash, and excluded from the canon. In Europe, a similar sense that they had negligible status as literature came about because so many of their early enthusiasts were women. The Earl of Shaftesbury, writing in 1711, three years after the book’s first appearance in English, denounced the Desdemona tendency, claiming that the tales ‘excite’ in women ‘a passion for a mysterious Race of black Enchanters: such as of old were said to creep into Houses, and lead captive silly Women’. It’s significant, in the history of East-West relations, that Shaftesbury could only understand the alien bogeys in terms of beliefs rather closer to home than Baghdad or Cairo.
Another reason the work wasn’t taken seriously was that it eluded concepts of authorship: the stories were anonymous and composed at different periods in different places. The architecture of the frame story – Scheherazade telling stories to the sultan every night till dawn to save her life – insisted on the oral, collective, immemorial character of the tales, presenting them as a compendium of collective wisdom, or at least as literature with a thousand and one owners and users. Madeleine Dobie, in the opening essay of ‘The Arabian Nights’ in Historical Context, a collection edited by Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum, shows how Galland’s work set the trend. A brilliant linguist, antiquarian and Orientalist, Galland began the process of treating the book as something that could be altered and made to express fantasy. The most popular tales of all, the ones that have become synonymous with The Arabian Nights and have been retold in children’s books and films (‘Aladdin’, ‘Ali Baba’, ‘The Ebony Horse’, ‘Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Peri Banou’), are probably Galland’s invention, concocted of pomegranates and ebony, damask and jasmine, in tribute to the style of the original stories.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 11, 1899 — E. B. White. He’s a co-author with William Strunk Jr. of The Elements of Style. In addition, he wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1904 – Salvador Dalí. Two Basket of Bread paintings twenty years apart – The Persistence of Memory between them – show he could be realistic if he felt like it. Having said “The difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad,” he told a group of Surrealists “The difference between me and the Surrealists is that I am a Surrealist.” He put an unfolded tesseract in Crucifixion; created in 1950 a Costume for 2045 with Christian Dior; drew, etched, sculpted; illustrated The Divine Comedy and The Arabian Nights. Memoir, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí. (Died 1989) [JH
Born May 11, 1916 — Maurice Nahum. ISFDB credits him with being editor in the Fifties of the Futuristic Science Stories, Out of This World Magazine, Supernatural Stories and several other publications. Langford at the usual source says of them that ‘All were juvenile, undated and of poor quality.’ (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1918 – Sheila Burnford. In The Incredible Journey a Bull Terrier, a Siamese cat, and a Labrador Retriever travel 300 miles (480 km) through the Canadian wilderness to find their humans; a Disney film was made. Later Burnford spent two summers on Baffin Island, traveling by komatik (a dog sled) and seeing the narwhals migrate. “Poor Albert Floated When He Died” was in Women of the Weird with a Gorey cover. (Died 1984) [JH]
Born May 11, 1918 – Richard Feynman. He had a gift for looking from the abstract to the concrete: hence Feynman diagrams; plunging a piece of O-ring material into ice water at a hearing on the Challenger disaster; winning a Nobel Prize and teaching undergraduates. Kept a notebook Things I Don’t Know About. A curved-space lecture handout had a bug on a sphere: “the bug and any rulers he uses are all made of the same material which expands when it is heated.” Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman reviewed by Alma Jo Williams in Science Fiction Review. (Died 1988) [JH]
Born May 11, 1920 — Denver Pyle. His first genre performance is in The Flying Saucer way back in 1950 where he was a character named Turner. Escape to Witch Mountain as Uncle Bené is his best known genre role. He’s also showed up on the Fifties Adventures of Superman, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe, Men Into Space, Twilight Zone and his final role was apparently in How Bugs Bunny Won the West as the Narrator. (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1927 – Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Three fantasies won the Newbery Honor; a score of books for us, four dozen in all. Below the Root is the first of her Green Sky trilogy; after the third, she worked closely with a programmer and a graphic artist on a Below the Root computer game. Cover for Song of the Gargoyle by Jody Lee, who was Graphic Artist Guest of Honor when I was Fan GoH at Lunacon XLIV. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born May 11, 1936 — Gordon Benson Jr. Publisher and bibliographer who released the first of his many SF bibliographies around the early Eighties. Writers such as Anderson, Lieber and Wellman were covered. Early bibliographies written solo were revised for the Galactic Central Bibliographies for the Avid Reader series, are listed jointly with Phil Stephensen-Payne as later ones. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born May 11, 1952 — Frances Fisher, 67. Angie on Strange Luck and a recurring role as Eva Thorne on Eureka. Have I mentioned how I love the latter series? Well I do! She’s also shown up on Medium, X-Files, Outer Limits, Resurrection, The Expanse and has some role in the forthcoming Watchmen series. (CE)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range finds a UFO that may be unidentified but does not look unfamiliar.
…Peter Costanzo, specialist at Doyle Auctions, said: ‘Part of the charm of this early period is that Potter apparently did not intend to publish books for children.
‘She simply sought a simple and affectionate way to communicate with them, and in combining an early mastery of the drawing of animals and a playful love of verse, Potter created a style all her own.
‘This was truly an insightful, important and whimsical group, one of the finest collections of early Beatrix Potter artwork and it represented a rare opportunity for collectors and institutions alike.’
…Her most famous book, The Tale of Petter Rabbit (1901), has been translated into 36 languages and sold 45 million copies.
Modern humans began to edge out the Neanderthals in Europe earlier than previously thought, a new study shows.
Tests on remains from a cave in northern Bulgaria suggest Homo sapiens was there as early as 46,000 years ago.
This is up to 2,000 years older than evidence from Italy and the UK.
Around this time, Europe was populated by sparse groups of Neanderthals – a distinct type of human that vanished shortly after modern humans appeared on the scene.
There’s considerable debate about the length of time that modern humans overlapped with Neanderthals in Europe and other parts of Eurasia.
This has implications for the nature of contact between the two groups – and perhaps clues to why Neanderthals went extinct.
(14) KEEPS ON TICKING. Quanta Magazine’s “Arrows of Time” infographic tracks the development of human ideas about the concept of time.
The human mind has long grappled with the elusive nature of time: what it is, how to record it, how it regulates life, and whether it exists as a fundamental building block of the universe. This timeline traces our evolving understanding of time through a history of observations in CULTURE, PHYSICS, TIMEKEEPING and BIOLOGY.
It begins with —
c. 50,000 BCE
Australia’s first inhabitants, the ancestors of today’s aboriginal peoples, are believed to have embraced a timeless view of nature, in which the present and past are intimately connected. The spirits of long-dead ancestors, for example, were believed to inhabit the living. These spirits reflected a long-ago golden age sometimes known as the Dreamtime.
Officially named C/2020 F8 (SWAN), the comet, which is technically an “outgassing interplanetary iceberg,” will be closest to Earth on May 13, and nearest to the sun May 27, according to NASA. (The warmth of the sun causes comets to vaporize.) Right now, it’s only visible to individuals in the Southern hemisphere, including those in Australia, Chile, and New Zealand, but if it continues to brighten along its journey, those of us in the Northern hemisphere could see it soon. NASA reports that people might be able to see it with the naked eye in June. Space.com notes the best times to see it will be in the West-Northwest sky after sunset, and in the East-Northeast sky before sunrise.
However, just because it’s visible now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way….
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]