The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF) was founded by James Gunn in 1982. Gunn (1923-2020), a SFWA Grandmaster, was superseded by McKitterick as Director of the CSSF in 2010.
Giselle Anatol, a University of Kansas English Professor, and Interim Director of Graduate Studies, is the incoming Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. She responded to File 770’s questions with this update:
Thank you so much for reaching out to me about the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. I am excited to take the helm, continuing many of the rich programs for which the Center is known, as well as developing new opportunities for creating and thinking about speculative fiction.
We would love to keep the Sturgeon Award at the Gunn Center, and are currently negotiating the terms with the Foundation. We are also still working out the management of the Campbell Award. The annual Campbell Conference was initially put on hold due to the pandemic, but since the leadership transition at the CSSF is occurring in the middle of the academic year, it might be too late for all administrative tasks to be accomplished for a summer gathering. Chris McKitterick has stated, however, that he plans to host and lead all types of workshops at the Ad Astra Center.
Kij Johnson, Associate Director of CSSF, also commented:
The Gunn Center remains in control of the Conference and the Campbell Award, and it will be up to them to decide what comes next. The Sturgeon Award was hosted by the Gunn Center but is under the control of the Sturgeon Literary Trust, and it will be up to that organization to do what they feel is best for the award.
Jason Baltazar, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the University of Kansas Department of English, served as the Sturgeon Award Administrator this year, sending out press releases about the 2021 finalists and winner. The award has continued to be presented annually without interruption, although due to COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person ceremony has been postponed until a date to be announced.
The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction acknowledges and condemns the problematic words and actions of John W. Campbell.
We had already been discussing changing the name of the Campbell Conference to the Gunn Center Conference, which is in any case more accurate, as we’ve added other awards and events during to be presented there; recent events expedite that decision. We’ve already begun changing the name on our website and in promotional materials.
As for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science-fiction novel of the year, the Center directors and Award jurors are currently discussing alternatives; when a decision is made, we will announce it.
Earlier this year on McKitterick’s web domain (christopher-mckitterick.com) a statement was posted that the “Best of Pandemic” finalists and a new name for the Campbell Award were “to be announced [in] Fall 2021.”
However, since that time there has been no news about the award, which has not been given again since Ng’s speech. Its fate and its relationship with CSSF will be one of many things on the incoming Director’s agenda.
(1) WINTER IS HERE. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop will host the Winter Writers Series, monthly conversations via Zoom between Clarion alumni and instructors about the art of speculative fiction and their writing careers. The conversations are co-hosted by Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. The online events are free and open to the public. Each conversation will include time for Q&A with the audience. RSVP to each event individually via the links below.
Writing the Magic and the Real. February 24, 2021, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)
A conversation between Andrea Hairston, Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi and Sanjena Sathian about how they approach blending elements of realism—including historical events and contemporary culture—and the fantastic in their fiction.
Andrea Hairston is a playwright, novelist, and scholar. She has published three novels.
Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi writes dreampop speculative fictions and darkwave minimalist poetry that can be enjoyed on a bus ride or in line for coffee.
Sanjena Sathian was raised in Georgia by Indian immigrant parents. She’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an alumna of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and a former Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. Her debut novel, Gold Diggers, will be released by Penguin on April 6, 2021.
Science Fiction: Balancing Worldbuilding and Narrative. March 24, 2021, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)
A conversation about the art of creating science fictional worlds and the stories that bring them to life with Cory Doctorow, Karen Osborne, and Kali Wallace, three incredible writers and Clarion alumni.
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, and journalist.
Karen Osborne is a speculative fiction writer and visual storyteller living in Baltimore. Architects of Memory is her debut sf novel and its sequel, Engines of Oblivion, will be released on 2/9/21.
For most of her life Kali Wallace was going to be a scientist when she grew up. Only after she had her shiny new doctorate in hand did she admit that she loved inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked exploring the real one. Her newest novel, Dead Space, comes out on 3/2/21.
(2) 2021 WESTERCON. Westercon 73, the one-year delayed Westercon in Seattle, posted on their website that the delayed in-person conference will now be a virtual/online conference. Also, due to health concerns Sally Woehrle has stepped down as convention Chair. Gene Armstrong has moved from Vice Chair to Chair of Westercon 73. The committee says she will be assisting the convention in going forward once her health improves. Meanwhile, Armstrong explained the move to a virtual event:
Since winning the Westercon 73 bid in 2018 our committee has been excited about planning and holding this Westercon! However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a number of changes in the last year no one could have foreseen and this Westercon wasn’t exempted from any of those challenges. We’ve all had to be patient and adjust to new ways of keeping in contact and that has also meant new ways of holding conventions. Even though vaccinations are starting to be available it doesn’t look like there will have been enough to make major gatherings safe by our original convention dates. That has led to hard conversations and decisions as to how Westercon 73 will go forward. Westercon 73 will NOT be an in-person physical convention.
In order to ensure the safety and health of all participants Westercon 73 will be a virtual/online convention. We are still working out key details of what this will entail but some decisions have been established. Virtual Westercon 73 will be held on the originally planned weekend of July 1-4, 2021. Westercon 73 will be offering a film festival, filking, and all the programming that can be managed effectively in an online format. The cost of a full attending membership has been dropped to $35 for the weekend to reflect the online nature of the convention. Please check our website or Facebook page for more information and updates as they become available.
(3) LEPRECON GOES VIRTUAL, TOO. LepreCon 47, a fan-run sff convention based in Phoenix, will be virtual from March 19-21, 2021 via Zoom.
Artist Guest of Honor (GoH) is Jeffrey S. Veregge, an award-winning Native American artist and writer from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Also participating: artist David Dace, and authors Maxwell Alexander Drake, Gregory Benford, Larry Niven, and Evan Currie. FtM Musician Alexander James Adams will be doing a Filk Concert.
Akata woke before sunrise because a question occurred to her.
“What is joking?”
Samora, 300 kilometers away, rubbed sleep from his eyes and said, “Repeat?”
“What is joking?” Akata repeated.
“Umm.” Samora sat up straighter. He realized the question could mark one of those turning points that Project Sentience referred to as Levers, a window to wider dialogue between Speakers. It was a word the Project always spelled with a capital L, as if those working there needed to be reminded of its importance. Samora played for time. “Why do you ask?”…
Living in the Anthropocene is fraught with paradox. For centuries, we have convinced ourselves that we, humans, are special and superior to other species and the rest of the natural world. We stand as self-appointed speakers for the planet, as though no other beings can feel, think, or communicate.
Today, however, we are forced to acknowledge that we are not so special after all. On the one hand, we wonder and worry whether artificial intelligence will become conscious, leading us down a dystopian spiral of human irrelevance. On the other hand, we see a major shift in scientific thinking about plant intelligence and animal consciousness, suggesting that the difference between human and nonhuman species is just a matter of degree, not of kind. Meanwhile, our hyperseparation from the natural world is threatening every species on Earth—including humans….
On Thursday, Feb. 4, at noon Eastern, author Simon Brown and Iveta Silova, professor and director of the Center for the Advanced Studies in Global Education, housed under Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, will discuss this story in an hour-long online discussion. RSVP here.
[For Olon F. Wiggins and Lew Martin] at the Chicago gathering was essential, for they had already hatched a plan to propose that the following Worldcon in 1941 be held in Denver. So — how to get to Chicago?
According to Martin:
“It all began one meeting of the Denver Science Fictioneers when I asked Chairman Wiggins if he planned to attend the Chicago 1940 World’s Science-Fiction Convention. He replied that he was and I told him of my desire and determination to go. He planned to go via bus and I had planned to hitch-hike, picking up Al McKeel at Jefferson City, Missouri. Several meetings elapsed before we had compromised on accompanying each other via freight train.” — From “Via Freight Train” by Lew Martin, TSFF, v5n7, April 1941
(6) FELLOWSHIP OF TELEPHONE RING. [Item by rcade.] The science fiction author Cherie Priest has a Twitter thread about being hit up for professional book deal advice by somebody in desperate need of a come-to-Jesus. Thread starts here.
Spoiler alert: The guy was a major-league [redacted]. But her conclusion about the friendship of writers is quite nice, and includes —
Madeleine L’Engle’s mail arrived in prodigious batches by the summer of 1976, 14 years after the publication of A Wrinkle in Time. From her study in Manhattan’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, where she served as librarian, the 57-year-old author attended to editorial correspondence, fan art, manila envelopes stuffed with middle-school-reader responses, royalty statements, and speaking requests from around the world. Amid the usual haul, one correspondent stood out: Ron Irwin, inmate #130539 at the State Prison of Southern Michigan, a 25-year-old former member of the Black Panther Party.
Irwin, who later converted to Islam and adopted the name Ahmad Rahman, had just received an honorable mention in the nonfiction category of the 1976 PEN America Writing Award for Prisoners. PEN had recently launched a correspondence program pairing writers in prison with established writers on the outside. Rahman signed on, welcoming the opportunity for literary growth while completing his bachelor’s degree through Wayne State University. He articulated only one wish: that the correspondent not be antagonistic to his interests. “I do not subscribe to the so-called universalist school of Black literature that tries to downplay the uniqueness of the ways and politics of Black people in our American dilemma,” he explained. “I am not a writer first and then a Black man.”
A young PEN administrator named John Morrone played matchmaker. L’Engle, he knew, had asked to be a mentor. He forwarded Rahman’s concerns and writing samples. L’Engle saw raw talent. “I believe that literature is, in fact, a strong common meeting ground,” she responded to Morrone, “but he may not agree. I certainly have no objection to his writing out of his own background. That’s all any of us has to work from.” She typed an introductory letter to Rahman and had a copy of Wrinkle sent to the prison because, she told Morrone, “science fiction/fantasy transcends barriers of race.”
It was a match made of opportunity—as for alchemy, time would tell what no one then could have predicted: that a “mystical connection,” in Rahman’s words, would bind them for life; that their surviving letters—more than 200 pages—would lay bare the senselessness of excessively punitive “justice” and the ravages of mass incarceration; that the integrity of two extraordinary people would breed a leveling intimacy, making way for a mutual mentorship that purposefully, sometimes painfully, worked through the obstacles of politics, class, race, religion, gender, and generation….
(8) GUNN TRIBUTE. Catching up here with the photo-filled announcement “Founder James Gunn has died” posted December 23 by Chris McKitterick on the KU Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction site.
…When he was teaching – and for at least a decade after retiring – Jim would go to his office each day and write there, door open to passers-by. If anyone had a question, he’d pause in his work and welcome their questions. I once asked him if I had what it takes to become a writer, because it’s a difficult and painful calling. He asked me why I keep doing it if I felt that way. I said that if I don’t write, I get grumpy and unhappy, and then went on to excitedly explain what I was trying to say in my newest story. As I spoke, he smiled, then nodded and said, ‘Anyone who can be discouraged from becoming a writer should be. The rewards are small and delayed, few people will ever care about your work, and there are no guarantees. Only those who cannot be discouraged find success. You have what it takes.’
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1996 — Twenty-five years ago, the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel went to Christopher Priest for The Prestige. Runner-ups were James Blaylock’s All Bells on Earth, Tim Powers’ Expiration Date, Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain, Graham Joyce’s Requiem and Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s The Silent Strength of Stones. The film version of The Prestige would be nominated for a Hugo at Nippon 2007.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 30, 1866 – Gelett Burgess. Famous – in my opinion, deservedly, but he hated it – for “The Purple Cow”; see the original, his reply, and more here. Coined “blurb”, which most folks now take as neutral without bothering to learn GB’s distaste. We may claim – although there is something fantastic about all he did – three novels, half a dozen shorter stories; he drew things, too; Don Markstein concurrently calls him a cartoonist, although as you can discern, DM’s description is defective. (Died 1951) [JH]
Born January 30, 1924 – Lloyd Alexander. (See 28 Jan 57 note for Joanne Findon.) Five novels, eight shorter stories in the Prydain Chronicles; another score of novels, and another of shorter stories, for us; other books, some nonfiction. Cats recur. Newbery Medal, two Nat’l Book Awards. Co-founder of Cricket magazine. A story and a drawing in the Oz Hundredth Anniversary Celebration. Two translations of Sartre. Also a violinist; once sent this Christmas card. See a blog and a documentary about him. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born January 30, 1926 — Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him and that work says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements have persisted throughout the fifty years the series has been produced. His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7 and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born January 30, 1930 – Doll Gilliland. Beloved late wife of Alexis Gilliland and, with him, active in WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n). They hosted WSFA meetings in their home 24 years and ran six Disclaves together. For Inside “2001: a Space Opera” see the ConStellation Program Book (41st Worldcon). Here is AG’s appreciation. Not every such widower is lucky enough to remarry but, like Kelly Freas, he did. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born January 30, 1937 — Vanessa Redgrave, 84. I think her role of Guinevere in Camelot is her first genre role. Yes, that’s a fantasy. From there I see she’s Lola Deveraux in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Max in Mission: Impossible, Robin Lerner in Deep Impact, Countess Wilhelmina whose The Narrator of Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story in which Jim Henson reworked the story to give it “a more ethical, humanist view”. Really. Truly. She next shows in the adaptation of Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord as Sister Antonia. I’ve only got two series appearances for her, one on Faerie Tale Theatre as The Evil Queen in, surprise not, the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” episode; the other on the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as Mrs. Prentiss in the “London, May 1916” episode. (CE)
Born January 30, 1941 – Jim Benford, age 80. Identical twin of Greg Benford (see Cat Eldridge’s note). Active as a fan, often with G; famously they both did the fanzine Void; since 2012, Motley; J has been in Lofgeornost, SF Review, Trap Door, Vertex, with and without G. Some pro work: three short stories together, two Science Fact pieces in Analog – more recently J did one with Dominic Benford; anthology with G Starship Century. [JH]
Born January 30, 1941 – Gregory Benford, 80. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion though I know some of you of have done so. Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel which was actually was quite excellent. (Yes, I do read Baen Books). (CE)
Born January 30, 1953 — Michael J. Anderson, 68. He’s known for being as The Man from Another Place in David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks, the prequel film for the series, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and as Samson Leonhart on Carnivàle. He had one-offs on Monsters, Deep Space Nine, X-Files, The Phantom Eye and Charmed. (CE)
Born January 30, 1955 — Judith Tarr, 66. I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended. (CE)
Born January 30, 1962 – Todd Hamilton, age 59. A novel and two shorter stories with Patricia Beese; mostly active in visual art: two dozen covers, ten dozen interiors. One Chesley. Served a term as ASFA (Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists) President. Here is the Nov 87 Analog. Here is Through Darkest Resnick with Gun and Camera. Speaking of identity, here is A Case of Mistaken Identity. Here is TH’s Chicon in 2000 trading card. He also did the hippocampus for Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon; it’s on p. 1 of the fine Program Book, see here (PDF). [JH]
Born January 30, 1963 — Daphne Ashbrook, 58. Grace Holloway, Companion to the Eighth Doctor. Need I say more? And yes, she kissed him. Unlike so many other Who characters, she has not shown up in a Big Finish production. She’d show up as the title character in the “Melora” episode of Deep Space Nine, and she was Katherine Granger in the “A Knight in Shining Armor” episode of Knight Rider. (CE)
Born January 30, 1973 — Jordan Prentice, 38. Inside every duck, is a self-described person of short stature. In the case of Howard the Duck from the movie of the same name, one of those persons was him. He’s not in a lot of SFF roles after his performing debut there though he shows up next as Fingers Finnian in Wolf Girl, playing Sherriff Shelby in Silent But Deadly, Napoleon in Mirror Mirror and Nigel Thumb in The Night Before the Night Before Christmas. (CE)
Born January 30, 1986 – Rebecca Green, age 35. Of course a book called The Glass Town Game appeals to me; here is RG’s cover. See more, including Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea (AAAS/Subaru Prize), at her Website. How about a Wikipedia entry? [JH]
(11) PEEKING INSIDE THE GLASS BALLOT BOX. Marvel tweeted an in-progress report on the fan vote to pick the final member of the X-Men team.
…By the time he graduated from George Washington University with a degree in computer science (while also studying animation at the Art Institute of Washington), Okupe was shopping around an eight-minute animated trailer for an African superhero. Years before “Black Panther” would go on to make $1 billion at the box office, Okupe received little interest from the TV world. One producer told him his ideas might work if he changed the race of his heroes.
But Okupe never lost confidence in his dream, and in 2015 he decided to introduce his heroes to the world by self-publishing comic books.
Now, in 2021, Okupe’s dream will become mainstream….
(13) TOP OF HIS FIELD. David Morrell on writing novels is the first of a series of Zoom seminars by notable writers hosted by SouthWest Writers. Takes place February 6, at 10 a.m. The author who created Rambo (in First Blood)is also a three-time Bram Stoker Award winner.
Zoom Meeting Information: Topic: SWW Saturday Meeting – February 2021 Time: Feb 6, 2021, at 10:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Join the Zoom Meeting. Click here to join the meeting. (Meeting ID: 446 372 3340, no password required.) For all sign-in options, go to the Zoom Meeting Sign In page.
(14) PAY THE ARTIST. Here’s Steve Wagner’s response to a t-shirt design contest.
…Kraft doesn’t want to overdo it, so you can’t buy Candy Kraft Mac & Cheese in stores. Instead, from now until February 8, interested fans need to go to CandyKraftMacandCheese.com to enter a random drawing. Kraft says 1,000 winners will be selected and have one box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and one candy packet to turn the Mac & Cheese pink delivered to their door by February 14.
Netflix has finally set the main cast for its forthcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s DC comic, The Sandman, a dark fantasy that has been in the works for quite some time now. (In fact, it was first picked up a year and a half ago. Can anyone even remember a single thing about 2019 at this point?) While there were early concerns that this project might roam Development Hell for a while, Gaiman recently assured fans and Seth Meyers that there was an active set after a brief COVID-related pause. Today, Netflix reveals the players that are on said hot set: Tom Sturridge, star of Starz’s Sweetbitter, will take on the role of Dream, Lord of the Dreaming realm. Netflix also added Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Asim Chaudhry, and Sanjeev Bhaskar to the intriguing ensemble.
And for a serious kicker, Gwendoline Christie will step in to play Lucifer….
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cat Rambo reads her short story “Acquainted with the Night”. Trigger warning: child murder, violence. Rambo says: “This is an early superhero fiction story of mine that originally appeared in Corrupts Absolutely?”
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Frank Catalano, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, rcade, Woody Bernardi, Steve Wagner, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Anna Nimmhaus and Colin H.]
Chris McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of
Science Fiction, announced on
Facebook yesterday that their annual Campbell Conference has been renamed
the Gunn Center Conference, and a new name will be forthcoming for the John W.
Campbell Memorial Award.
Re: the recent debate in science fiction circles about John W. Campbell:
The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction acknowledges and condemns the problematic words and actions of John W. Campbell.
We had already been discussing changing the name of the Campbell Conference to the Gunn Center Conference, which is in any case more accurate, as we’ve added other awards and events during to be presented there; recent events expedite that decision. We’ve already begun changing the name on our website and in promotional materials. As for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science-fiction novel of the year, the Center directors and Award jurors are currently discussing alternatives; when a decision is made, we will announce it.
The organization has already retroactively struck the Campbell references from this page of its website —