(1) BUTLER QUOTED. Brain Pickings consults “Octavia Butler on Creative Drive, the World-Building Power of Our Desires, and How We Become Who We Are”.
After the glorious accident of having been born at all, there are myriad ways any one life could be lived. The lives we do live are bridges across the immense river of possibility, suspended by two pylons: what we want and what we make. In an ideal life — a life of purpose and deep fulfillment — the gulf of being closes and the pylons converge: We make what we want to see exist.
This interplay is what Octavia Butler (June 22, 1947–February 24, 2006) explores throughout Parable of the Talents (public library) — the second part of her oracular Earthseed allegory, which also gave us Butler’s acutely timely wisdom on how (not) to choose our leaders.
(2) JOIN eAPA AND LEARN QUAINT AND CURIOUS FORGOTTEN LORE. [Item by Garth Spencer.] eAPA, one of the longest-running electronic Amateur Publication Associations, is a great place to find and learn Things Fans Were Not Meant to Know! Words that rhyme with orange, for instance, or the curse that sank Atlantis, or the REAL reason why the British Empire is no more!
You too can share your Forbidden Knowledge of the Lost Civilization of Sitnalta, why the fabulous city of Temlaham was buried under a landslide, and the Hideous Sign now covered by the Site C Dam! JOIN the international quest to save humanity from the approaching threat to us all!
Or just have fun writing fannish contributions to a monthly APA.
(3) HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss is “Disssecting A Scam: The Literary Scout Impersonator”.
I’ve written several posts about a fairly new phenomenon in the world of writing scams: scammers that falsely use the names of reputable publishing professionals, including literary agents and publishers, to lure writers into paying large amounts of money for worthless, substandard, and/or never-delivered services.
This time, I’m breaking down a very similar scam that, capitalizing on the pandemic-fueled popularity of Netflix and other streaming services (as well as the eternal writerly dream of having one’s book translated into film), is appropriating the name of Clare Richardson, Senior Scout for film and TV at the New York office of Maria B. Campbell Associates, to hoodwink writers in an unusually complicated–and expensive–scheme.
(4) REVIEWS OF NEW SFF. Amal El-Mohtar’s latest Otherworldly column for the New York Times Book Review covers Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi among others: “Dealmakers and Wanderers: New Science Fiction and Fantasy” .
… I have been longing to read Susanna Clarke again for 16 years, ever since I turned the last page in “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.” I was surprised to find PIRANESI (Bloomsbury, $27) anticipating pandemic confinement — the difficulty of dividing time, of maintaining a stable sense of self — through a filter of marble and gold, of rushing ocean, of tenderness and love.
(5) NOT ALL WET. James Davis Nicoll’s post for Tor.com, “Five Books Featuring Alien Oceans”, includes one where humans are the bait.
Oceans may be rare in the inner Solar System—Mars and Mercury are too small for oceans while Mercury and Venus are too hot—but if we consider that water is composed of hydrogen (the most common element in the universe) and oxygen (the third most common element), it seems likely that water would be pretty common too. Indeed, if we look at the worlds out beyond the Solar System’s frost line, we note that there are likely to be oceans within Europa, Enceladus, Ganymede, Ceres, Pluto, and other small worlds.
As for exoplanets (which we have been discovering at a surprising rate, of late) … well, some of them must have oceans, or be covered with oceans, as well. SF authors, even before the exoplanet boom, have long been imagining water worlds. Here are a few books about ocean planets.
(6) THE AGE OF BANGSUND. “Those who lived, loved and are gone: John Bangsund” — The Age in Australia published a tribute on November 1. (Which is already yesterday there, mind you.)
In the late 1990s, the offices of Meanjin magazine in Melbourne would receive a package of tobacco-scented and wine-stained proofs four times a year.
They were from their charismatic editorial consultant John Bangsund who, with an unmatched studiousness and attention to detail, had pored over each issue to make sure no errors or inaccuracies had slipped through before it went to print.
It was this unwavering passion for words and writing, matched by a deep knowledge about everything from classical music to science fiction, that saw the Melbourne editor become a beloved figure within literary circles for decades…
(7) DOYLE OBIT. Debra Doyle (1952-2020) died October 31 announced her husband Jim MacDonald:
It is with great sorrow that I report that Debra Doyle, my beloved bride of 42 years, died this evening at 1841 hours. She died of an apparent cardiac event, at home, in my arms.
Doyle authored or co-authored over thirty novels and more than 30 short stories, usually with her husband. Knight’s Wyrd, co-authored by Doyle and MacDonald, was awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 1992. Their story “Remailer” was longlisted for the Tiptree Award in 2000. Both of them taught at the Viable Paradise genre writer’s workshop on Martha’s Vineyard.
A GoFundMe has been started for Funeral Costs for Author Debra Doyle.
This GoFundMe is to cover funeral costs, the extent of which is not currently known. Any additional funds raised beyond what is needed for burial will be used to ease the transition for her husband, Jim.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born November 1, 1897 – Naomi Mitchison. A dozen novels, fifty shorter stories, for us; a hundred books, a thousand short stories, book reviews, essays, travel, poems, recollections, in all. Much moved by leftist causes, though she was eventually unhappy with the political Left, her work, never neutral, at best finds its own strength. She wrote historical, allegorical, fantastic, sometimes scientific fiction. Feminist, gardener, rancher. (Died 1999) [JH]
- Born November 1, 1910 – Malcolm Smith. Woodworker, pulp illustrator, staff artist for Marshall Space Flight Center; he drew for us, also detective stories, Westerns, newspapers. Here is the Apr 43 Fantastic. Here is the Feb 48 Amazing. Here is the Mar 50 Other Worlds. Here is the Feb 58 Imagination. (Died 1966) [JH]
- November 1, 1917 — Zenna Henderson. Her first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951. The People series appeared in magazines and anthologies, as well as the stitched together Pilgrimage: The Book of the People and The People: No Different Flesh. Other volumes include The People Collection and Ingathering: The Complete People Stories. She was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1959 for her novelette “Captivity.” Her story “Pottage” was made into the 1972 ABC-TV Movie, “The People”. “Hush” became an episode of George A. Romero’s Tales from the Darkside which first aired in 1988. (Died 1983.) (CE)
- November 1, 1923 — Gordon R. Dickson. Truly one of the best writers in the genre. I’m not going to even begin to detail his stellar career in any detail as that would require a skald to do so. His first published genre fiction was the short story “Trespass!”, written with Poul Anderson, in the Spring 1950 issue of Fantastic Stories which was the first issue of Fantastic Story Magazine as it came to be titled later. Childe Cycle involving the Dorsai is his best known series and the Hoka are certainly his silliest creation. I’m very, very fond of his Dragon Knight series which I think really reflects his interest in that history. (Died 2001.) (CE)
- Born November 1, 1923 – Dean Grennell. Pioneer Wisconsin fan, served in the Army Air Corps (“Nothing can stop…”), moved to Los Angeles where I met him. Fanzine Grue (its name a parody of True). Here is his cover for Sky Hook 25. Coined several fannish expressions e.g. croggle, “a verb signifying intense disturbance of a subjective nature” – H. Warner) and the unrelated if like-sounding crottled greeps (“But if you don’t like crottled greeps, what did you order them for?”). More here. (Died 2004) [JH]
- November 1, 1941 — Robert Foxworth, 79. He’s been on quite a number of genre shows including The Questor Tapes,seaQuest DSV, Deep Space Nine, Outer Limits, Enterprise, Stargate SG-1 and Babylon 5. His first genre role was as Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein where Bo Swenson played the monster. (CE)
- November 1, 1942 — Michael Fleisher. Comics writer best known for his DC Comics work of in the Seventies and Eighties on Spectre and the not very traditional Jonah Hex. (Hopefully they’ll be added to the expanded DC universe comics app next year.) He also has had long runs on Ghost Rider and Spider-Woman early on which shows that he is a rather good writer even then. (Died 2018) (CE)
- Born November 1, 1956 – Lynne Jonell, 64. The Secret of Zoom (a topic many of us wish we understood today) was a School Library Journal Best Book of 2009; President Obama bought one for his daughter (no blame to him that it has an orphan boy named Taft). Ten more books, some about rats, cats. “I’m tall. I like to sail…. I have a patient and loving husband and two wonderful sons who are loving (but not so patient)…. I like to look out my widow at the branches of trees…. This is good for inspiration and also lets me pretend I am thinking hard.” [JH]
- November 1, 1959 — Susanna Clarke, 61. Author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell which I think wins my award for the most footnoted work in genre literature. It won the World Fantasy, Nebula, Locus, Mythopoeic and Hugo Awards for Best Novel. It was adapted into a BBC series and optioned for a film. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories collects her short works and is splendid indeed. Her latest novel, Piranesi, is getting good reviews here. (CE)
- Born November 1, 1964 – Karen Marie Moning, 56. Eight books about highlanders, a dozen in a Fever Universe; Shadowfever and more have been NY Times Best Sellers. Two RITA Awards. Her Website quotes Jorge Luis Borges “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,” hello Evelyn Leeper. [JH]
- Born November 1, 1965 – Alberto Varanda, 55. Portuguese working in French. A dozen covers; here is The Angel and Death; here is The Death of Ayesha; here is Enchanter; here is Blood of Amber. [JH]
- November 1, 1973 — Aishwarya Rai, 46. Actress who’s done two SF films in India, the Tamil language Enthiran (translates as Robot) in which she’s Sana, the protagonist’s medical student girlfriend, and Mala in Action Replayy, a Hindi-language SF romantic comedy. She was also Sonia in The Pink Panther 2. (CE)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Pooch Cafe has dueling Halloween costumes.
- Shoe turned back the clock and got extra 2020.
- Bizarro has advice for an unhappy actor.
- Incidental Comics’ Grant Snider has some thoughts about confinement:
(10) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. “Claire Cronin: Blue Light Hauntings”, Q&A with a horror author at Guernica.
Guernica: Encountering your work, it’s almost like you need to get something out of your system— which gets crystallized in Blue Light of the Screen. Did you think of this book as an exorcism of sorts?
Cronin: It became something like that towards the end. It’s definitely confessional, [and] a little bit psychoanalytic, but I was the therapist and the patient.
Exorcism stories are not resolved at the end. Well, some exorcism movies do resolve the demonic possession, but even when that happens, there is still the sense that evil is floating around in the ether, waiting for its next victim. And in true stories of demonic possession, a victim often has to be exorcised many times, over many years. The threat doesn’t really go away.
In the case of my book, I did attempt to find resolution, but of course the problems that I deal with keep going. There’s still evil in the world and plenty of reasons to feel despair. Though I wanted to show that I’d found some self-awareness and faith through my struggles, I didn’t want to write a happy ending. I don’t believe in happy endings; they’re not true to life. At the end of a ghost story, something ominous still lurks.
(11) WISH LUST. It’s great to be a genie, of course, but keep that old horse before the cart: “Indian doctor duped into buying ‘Aladdin’s lamp’ for $41,600”.
Two men have been arrested in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly duping a doctor into buying an “Aladdin’s lamp” that they promised would bring him wealth and health.
As part of the con, they even pretended to conjure up spirits from the lamp, in line with the tale from The Arabian Nights, Indian media report.
The men had reportedly wanted more than $200,000 for the lamp but settled for a down payment of $41,600.
(12) EXCITING HOME PRODUCT OF THE DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] (As if there aren’t already enough cranks reading this.)
Do you long for the upper arm-and-wrist exercise of running that Gestetner or other unenchanted duplicating machine?
Here’s an “unduplicator” — Hand-cranked paper/CD shredders!
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Steve Miller, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Garth Spencer, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]