The six faculty members will be Andy Duncan, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Tochi Onyebuchi, Anjali Sachdeva, and Rae Carson.
The workshop will be held at UC San Diego from June 25, 2023 – August 5, 2023. Applications open on December 1 to join the class of 2023.
Andy Duncan returns this summer for his third stint as a Clarion Workshop instructor! His honors include a Nebula Award, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, three World Fantasy Awards, and awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Science Fiction Research Association. His latest collection is An Agent of Utopia, from Small Beer Press; he narrates nine stories on the Recorded Books audio edition. His non-fiction project Weird Western Maryland is ongoing. A former board member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, he tweets @Beluthahatchie and lives in Maryland’s mountains, where he’s a tenured English professor at Frostburg State University.
Alaya Dawn Johnson is the author of Racing the Dark, The Summer Prince, which was long listed for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and Love Is the Drug, which won the prestigious Nebula (Andre Norton) Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy. In a return to adult fiction, Trouble the Saints, was published by Tor in 2020. In the past decade, her award-winning short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, Feral Youth, Three Sides of a Heart and Zombies vs. Unicorns. In Mexico City where she has made her home since 2014, Johnson has recently received her master’s degree with honors in Mesoamerican Studies from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of Goliath. His previous fiction includes Riot Baby, a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and NAACP Image Awards and winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction, the Ignyte Award for Best Novella, and the World Fantasy Award; the Beasts Made of Night series; and the War Girls series. His short fiction has appeared in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and elsewhere. His non-fiction includes the book (S)kinfolk and has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, among other places. He has earned degrees from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
Anjali Sachdeva’s short story collection, All the Names They Used for God, was the winner of the 2019 Chautauqua Prize. It was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, Refinery 29, and BookRiot, longlisted for the Story Prize, and chosen as the 2018 Fiction Book of the Year by the Reading Women podcast. Her fiction has been published in McSweeney’s, Lightspeed, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications, and featured on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. Sachdeva worked for six years at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, where she was Director of Educational Programs. She is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Investing in Professional Artists grant from the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation. She currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, and in the low-residency MFA program at Randolph College.
Charles Coleman Finlay is another welcome return, joining us for his third summer as a Clarion instructor. In January 2015, C.C. Finlay became the ninth editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He is also the author of the Traitor to the Crown historical fantasy trilogy, which began with The Patriot Witch, and a stand-alone fantasy novel, The Prodigal Troll. He’s published more than forty stories since 2001, many of which have been reprinted in volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy, Year’s Best Science Fiction, Best New Horror, and other anthologies. Some of his short stories have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, Sidewise, and Sturgeon awards, and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In addition to Clarion, he has instructed at the Clarion Young Authors workshop, the Alpha Writers Workshop, and the Odyssey Online Workshop.
Rae Carson joins for a second summer as an instructor of the Clarion Workshop. Her debut novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was published in 2011, and was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Award and the Andre Norton Award, and it was the winner of the Ohioana Book Award for Young Adult Literature. It was also selected as 2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults by Young Adult Library Services Association. The Fire and Thorns Trilogy was a New York Times bestseller, as was her Gold Seer Trilogy. Beginning in 2017, she has written several tie-in stories for the Star Wars universe, including the novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In 2021, she released her most recent novel, Any Sign of Life. In addition to her novels, her short fiction has been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.
Bogdan Belyaev was working from home when the air raid sirens went off. They hadn’t been heard in the city of Lviv since World War II, but it was February 24, and Russia had just invaded Ukraine. “When we heard that missiles were attacking and that our [internet] connection was dropping from parts of our country, we got into shelter,” says Belyaev. That meant him, his wife, and their dog and two cats huddling in the center of their building. “It’s a ‘shelter,’ really in quotes because it was actually our bathroom,” he says. “There is a rule of two walls. You need to be behind two walls. The first wall is taking the impact, and the second one is stopping the small shrapnel.” But for Belyaev, work carried on because he needed it to. People on the other side of the world were relying on him, and the project was the culmination of a passion he’d had since childhood: Star Wars.
Belyaev is a 29-year-old synthetic-speech artist at the Ukrainian start-up Respeecher, which uses archival recordings and a proprietary A.I. algorithm to create new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago. The company worked with Lucasfilm to generate the voice of a young Luke Skywalker for Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett, and the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series tasked them with making Darth Vader sound like James Earl Jones’s dark side villain from 45 years ago, now that Jones’s voice has altered with age and he has stepped back from the role. Belyaev was rushing to finish his work as Putin’s troops came across the border. “If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound,” he says. “So I decided to push this data right on the 24th of February.”
Respeecher employees in Kyiv also soldiered on while hunkered down. Dmytro Bielievtsov, the company’s cofounder and CTO, got online in a theater where tabletops, books, and more had been stacked in front of windows in case of blasts. Programmers “training” the A.I. to replicate Jones’s voice and editors piecing together the output worked from corridors in the interior of their apartments. One took refuge in an ancient brick “basement” no bigger than a crawl space.
Back at Skywalker Sound in Northern California, Matthew Wood was the supervising sound editor on the receiving end of the transmissions from Ukraine. He says that they hired Respeecher because the vocal performances that the start-up generates have an often elusive human touch. “Certainly my main concern was their well-being,” says Wood, who is a 32-year veteran of Lucasfilm. “There are always alternatives that we could pursue that wouldn’t be as good as what they would give us. We never wanted to put them in any kind of additional danger to stay in the office to do something.”…
(2) THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. Charles Payseur takes up the “Fan vs. Pro” debate about contenders for the fan Hugos at Quick Sip Reviews: “Quick Sips 09/23/2022”
… “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” If you answer “the kind of fan work that is underappreciated and deserves recognition” then I’m sorry, that’s not what a popular vote award is going to give you by definition. Already appreciated fans, fanzines, fancasts, and fan artists are going to have the advantage because by virtue of having fans of their own, they’ll get more votes. If you want awards that will seek to award people doing thankless and vital work, you’re going to need a juried award (both steps, too, because even a juried first stage, popular vote second stage is going to probably favor already popular fans).
And I could propose that we get together and create The Fannies (bwahahahaha), but that again is avoiding the question again. “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” Like with all the other categories, the answer is that we should recognize the fan work that was the most popular in a given year. Yes, platform will effect that a lot. Money will effect that a lot. But unless we’re going to seek to correct for wealth, access, and privilege across all the Hugo categories, singling out the fan awards without reckoning with the current shape and state of SFF fandoms is pointless at best. Might as well just say with your whole voice that you don’t think specific finalists or winners DESERVE the recognition. At which point everyone can see what it is you’re really doing….
BD: What led you to first consider launching an imprint?
BK: J.F. Gonzalez and I had often talked about doing this, but we were both of a generation where making this sort of transition was seen as crazy talk. So we never did. But even after he died, the idea was there in the back of my brain, gnawing and gnawing. And I started watching authors younger than me, whom I admire, and the success they were having making the plunge. Two of them are thriller writer Robert Swartwood and horror/sci-fi writer Stephen Kozeniewski. They were who finally convinced me to make the move. Rob got me to see that with the size of my audience and fan base, it was ridiculous not to do this.
For the entirety of my career, other companies — big and small — have had partial ownership of my rights and my intellectual properties. And these days, IP is king. These corporations aren’t paying for books or films or comics or video games. They’re paying for IP. I want to fully own my IP again. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about the properties I’ve worked on for others — stuff like Aliens, Doctor Who, The X-Files and all of the Marvel and DC Comics stuff. That’s somebody else’s IP and I was paid to play with it. But I’ve got over fifty books and over three hundred short stories of my own. Why should somebody else get a cut of those profits and a share of the ownership when the technology and infrastructure exists for me to produce them myself and get them into stores and the hands of readers?
And I should stress, I have a great relationship with most of my current publishers. But when I reached out to each of them individually and told them this was the direction I wanted to go, they all understood. They get it. This is what’s best for my remaining years, and for my sons.
And that’s what it comes down to, really. My sons. I turn fifty-five this week, and while I’m in relatively good health (despite the misadventures of my first fifty years), I can also hear that mortality clock ticking. I don’t plan on leaving yet, but most of us don’t really get a say in that, you know? Surprises happen. When I’m gone, I don’t want the executor of my literary estate having to chase down royalty checks from twenty different sources, and I don’t want my sons to have to share my intellectual property with a bunch of other people. By bringing everything in house, they’ll have total control over all of that.
(4) CENSORING FOR POWER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, YA sf writer David Levithan, who PEN America rates as the 11th most censored author in the US, says censorship ultimately won’t prevail and supporters of free expression will win. “Standing up to the new censorship”.
… What I’ve come to believe, as I’ve talked to authors and librarians and teachers, is that attacks are less and less about the actual books. We’re being used as targets in a much larger proxy war. The goal of that war isn’t just to curtail intellectual freedom but to eviscerate the public education system in this country. Censors are scorching the earth, without care for how many kids get burned. Racism and homophobia are still very much present, but it’s also a power grab, a money grab. The goal for many is a for-profit, more authoritarian and much less diverse culture, one in which truth is whatever you’re told it is, your identity is determined by its acceptability and the past is a lie that the future is forced to emulate. The politicians who holler and post and draw up their lists of “harmful” books aren’t actually scared of our books. They are using our books to scare people….
(5) AGE OF EMPIRES AGING WELL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Chris Allnutt discusses a tournament for Age Of Empires II, first released in 1999, with a $200,000 prize and how older games still get big prizes at tournaments.
It is, by and large, older titles–those that have had longer to build a competitive scene and tweak their game mechanics–that dominate the most lucrative tournament rosters. Data 2 continues to top the table for e-sports prize money, with about $48 million up for grabs in 2021, eight years after its initial release. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (2022) and League Of Legends (2009) earned players $21 million and $8 million respectively. That’s nearly a third of all 2021’s prize money.
As a franchise, Age Of Empires speaks particularly well to the penchant for nostalgia. The series has spawned four games in total, with Age Of Empires IV released last year. But the second game still boasts the higher player count on Steam.
(6) FINAL WRITE-A-THON RESULTS. The Clarion Workshop Write-a-Thon raised $6,713.34 this year. The majority of the funds will go to scholarships for the Clarion Class of 2023. Forty-four writers participated in the Thon this year.
… While [Travis] Baldree wrote Legends & Lattes for his own satisfaction, the book has still gone on to be a genuine hit. Even months later, it’s holding strong in some of Amazon’s most competitive fiction markets. It’s currently the 19th most popular book on the retail giant’s competitive Romantic Fantasy list. It’s also number five in the LGBQT+ Fantasy category.
If there’s one place where its influence has been most deeply felt, however, it’s the realm of “cozy fantasy.”
Inspired directly by Legends & Lattes, enthusiastic readers established the CozyFantasy community on Reddit. Since its inception in May 2022, r/CozyFantasy has added more than 5,000 subscribing members. The community sees hundreds of posts every week from people sharing reviews, looking for recommendations, and eager to chat about their favorite works from the sub-genre.…
(8) PYTHON ALUM PALIN’S NEW BOOK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Sir Michael Palin discusses his newest book, Into Iraq, which also is part of a series that was broadcast on Channel 5 beginning on September 20.
In September 2019 I went into Bart’s Hospital in London for open-heart surgery (during which a mitral valve was repaired and an aortic valve replaced0, but within a few months I was feeling not only better but bolder too, and looking at my atlas again with a renewed confidence. Before I could rush to the nearest airport, however, the world hit the pause button. Airports emptied and the world fell silent…
…On a bright morning, we gathered outside the Rixos hotel in the town of Duhok. “Candle In The Wind’ was playing in the lift as I checked in the previous night, and ‘Hey Jude’ as I sat down to breakfast. Shielded from the road by blast barriers, we were briefed by James Willcox, whose company Untamed Borders socializes n taking people to places most other people don’t want to go. Standing beside him was Peter, ex-army, accompanying us as security and medical escort. No one suggested that he was here because I was so old, but I couldn’t help sensing that he was keeping an eye on me. I, in turn, was determined to pretend I was 29, not 78.
(9) TOM MADDOX HEALTH UPDATE. Tom Maddox’s wife Mary told his Facebook followers he’s had a stroke:
Tom is in the hospital (ICU) after having a severe stroke. He is unconcious and may not wake up the doctors say at present. The doctor told me if he lives he will go to a nursing home for critical care. I am beyond grief stricken and am going everyday to the hospital and he is restless but when I am there he sleeps peacefully.
(10) TOM CHMIELEWSKI (1952-2022). Science fiction writer Tom Chmielewski died in June at the age of 70. The family obituary is here.
He worked in the field of journalism beginning in 1975, and worked at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1987-1997. After leaving the Gazette, he worked as a part-time instructor at WMU; started a monthly publication called Great Lakes Stage, which covered theatre in the Midwest; and served as editor of Trains.com, an online publication based in Milwaukee that covered model railroading, one of his passions.
He was a member of the Clarion workshop class of 1984. He served as Treasurer to the Clarion Foundation from 2016-2022, where he did tremendous work behind-the-scenes for the Foundation, including supporting their Thon fundraiser for numerous years.
He published his first novel Lunar Dust, Martian Sands in 2014 through his company, TEC Publishing, followed by two more novels in his Mars trilogy, Rings of Fire and Ice (2018), and The Silent Siege of Mars (2019). He created and released an audio drama, “Shalbatana Solstice,” a prequel to his first novel, that was later broadcast by the BBC.
Chmielewski is survived by his brothers and sisters-in-law, four nieces and a nephew, and his former wife, Susan Lackey.
Contributions may be made to the Tom Chmielewski Memorial Fund, which is designated for older writers who wish to attend Clarion, set up in his honor by the Clarion Foundation. To make a donation, go to theclarionfoundation.org (if donating online, designate your contribution for Tom’s fund by sending an email to [email protected] You may also mail a check made out to The Clarion Foundation to 716 Salvatierra St., Stanford, CA 94305-1020.)
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1987 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago, what might indeed be the sweetest damn film ever released premiered today in The Princess Bride. Yes, I’m biased.
Based off the exemplary novel of fourteen years previously by William Goldman who adapted in the film here, I need not detain the story here as I know there’s not a single individual here who’s not familiar with it. If there is anyone here with that hole in their film education, why are you reading this?
It’s streaming on Disney + right now and you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Go and then come back here!
It’s a very sweet love story, it’s a send-up of classic adventure tales, it’s a screwball comedy, it’s a, well, it’s a lot of things done absolutely perfectly. Did I mention sword fights? Well I should.
I fell in love with The Princess Bride when Grandfather played by Peter Falk repeated these lines from the novel: “That’s right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today, I’m gonna read it to you.” A film about a book. Cool!
Yes, they shortened the title of book which was The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The “Good Parts” Version. But unwieldy for a film. Though a stellar book title indeed.
There are very few films that successfully adapt a book exactly as it written. (Not looking at you the first version of Dune or Starship Troopers.) The only one I’ve seen that did was Like Water for Chocolate off the novel by Laura Esquivel. That Goldman wrote the script obviously was essential and the cast which you know by heart so I’ll not detail here were stellar in their roles certainly made a difference.
Rob Reiner was without doubt the director for it and the interviews with him have indicated his love for the novel.
That it won a Hugo at Nolacon II was I think predestined. I won’t say it magical, no I take that back, in many ways it was magical. And I think that it was by far the best film that year. My opinion, yours of course might well be different.
Only six percent of the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t like it. Ponder that.
Deluxe one-sixth scale figures of the cast members are starting to be released. You can stage your own version of the film.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 25, 1919 — Betty Ballantine. With her husband Ian, she created Bantam Books in 1945 and established Ballantine Books seven years later. They won one special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1975 and another one shared with Joy Chant et al for The High Kings which is indeed an amazing work. ISFDB lists just one novel for her, The Secret Oceans, which I’ve not read. Who here done so? (Died 2019.)
Born September 25, 1930 — Shel Silverstein. Not sure how he is SFF but ISFDB lists him as such for his Every Thing On It collection and a handful of aptly named poems, and I’m more than thrilled to list him under Birthday Honors. I’m fond of his poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends and will also note here A Light in the Attic if only because it’s been on “oh my we must ban it now attempts” all too often. So what do you think is genre by him? (Died 1999.)
Born September 25, 1932 — J. Hunter Holly. Her various book dedications showed she had a strong love of cats. I’ve not encountered her novels but she wrote a fair number of them including ten genre novels plus The Assassination Affair, a novel in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. franchise. Only The Flying Eyes novel by her is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1982.)
Born September 25, 1946 — Felicity Kendal, 76. She plays Lady Clemency Eddison in the the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”, one of my favorite Who tales which I reviewed at Green Man here. She recently played Baroness Ortsey in the new Pennyworth series. And though it’s definitely really not genre, I’m noting her role in Shakespeare-Wallah, story of a family troupe of English actors in India, just because it’s a fascinating story.
Born September 25, 1951 — Mark Hamill, 71. OK, I’ll confess that my favorite role of his is voicing The Joker in the DC Universe. He started doing this way back on Batman: The Animated Series and has even done so on other such series as well. Pure comic evilness! Oh, and did you know he voices Chucky in the new Child’s Play film? Now that’s really, really creepy.
Born September 25, 1952 — Christopher Reeve. Superman in the Superman film franchise. He appeared in the Smallville series as Dr. Swann in the episodes “Rosetta” and “Legacy”. His Muppet Show appearance has him denying to Miss Piggy that he’s Superman though he displayed those superpowers throughout that entire episode. (Died 2004.)
Born September 25, 1977 — Clea DuVall, 45. A long genre history if we include horror (and I most gleefully do) — Little Witches, Sleeping Beauties, Ghosts of Mars and How to Make a Monster. Series appearances include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a main role on Carnivàle as Sofie Agnesh Bojakshiya (loved that series), a recurring role as Audrey Hanson on Heroes, and though we didn’t see it, she was in the unsold television pilot for the never to be Virtuality series as Sue Parsons, she had a recurring role in American Horror Story: Asylum as Wendy Peyser, and finally another recurring role in The Handmaid’s Tale as Sylvia.
Born September 25, 1983 — Donald Glover, 39. A cast member of Community as Troy Barnes, a series that is least genre adjacent. His first genre appearance is in The Muppets film as a junior CDE executive. He also appeared in a season 43 episode of Sesame Street as famous musician LMNOP. And then there’s the minor matter of being in Solo: A Star Wars Story as someone called Lando Calrissian, Spider-Man: Homecoming as Aaron Davis and then voicing Simba in The Lion King. Not bad at all.
For about two months in 1970, ITV aired episodes of a bonkers science fiction comedy series based (oh so very loosely) on Miguel de Cervantes’ literary classic Don Quixote. The show, entitled The Adventures of Don Quick, follows an astronaut named Don Quick (Ian Hendry) and his sidekick, Sam Czopanser (Ronald Lacey), who are part of an “Intergalactic Maintenance Squad” that sends them, each episode, to try to “maintain” or otherwise improve alien planets—which usually do not at all need their help, and whose citizens range from bemused to quite irritated by the intrusion.
Fun fact: Angela Carter, the queen of feminist fairy tales herself, was once commissioned by ITV to write the script for an episode of the show, which was (alas!) never produced….
Did you know the character played by Ernie Hudson in NBC’s Quantum Leap revival goes back more than 30 years within the world of the show?
Herbert “Magic” Williams first appeared in the original iteration of the series in the 1990 episode entitled “The Leap Home, Part II,” where Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) travels back to the days of the Vietnam War, leaping into the body of Herbert “Magic” Williams, who served in the same Navy SEALs platoon as Sam’s older brother, Tom.
This will actually be addressed by Williams in the fourth episode of the revamp. “[Magic] does explain, from his point-of-view, that leap,” showrunner and executive producer Martin Gero (Blindspot) teased during a recent interview with TVLine. “Ernie [Hudson] gives this phenomenal monologue. It’s so beautiful. It might be my favorite scene of this first chunk [of episodes]. It’s really, really special.” He also went on to tease an adventure in the Old West — circa the 1870s — come Episode 5. “We’re telling some stories that have not been told about the West, and that is very exciting for us.”
…Poor Enola is still facing down misogynist creeps in this new trailer. After opening her very own detective agency, people are still uncertain of her crime-solving abilities. Cut the girl some slack! Hasn’t she gone through enough? Still, folks beg to be assigned to her older brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill), reliant on his wits instead of hers.
“While I have not a single case, Sherlock’s latest seems to be vexing him,” Enola tells us. Cut to Sherlock playing a sad violin, panicking over his inability to crack the case.
Not only does Enola have a sad big bro to fix, she does have a big case to prove herself as a professional sleuth….
(17) REVISIT AN EIGHTIES OPEN FILK SESSION. Fanac.org has posted video from when Julia Ecklar was the special filk guest at Tropicon 8, held in Dania, Florida, in 1989. This recording captures the second part of an open filk at the convention, and includes 11 songs (of which Julia sings seven).
The singers in order of appearance are: Julia Ecklar, Linda Melnick, Dina Pearlman, C.J. Cherryh, Francine Mullen, and Doug Wu.
This includes much of the conversation between songs, the laughter and the real feel of a 1980s convention filk session.
One lovely addition is that Linda Melnick signs on one of the songs, as well as sings.
Another bonus – this video includes several songs by Orion’s Belt, which consisted of Dina Pearlman, Francine Mullen and Doug Wu.
Tropicon was a small convention, and you will see some of the author guests in the filk. That’s Tropicon 8 GoH Lynn Abbey sitting next to C.J. Cherryh for example, and Joe Green sitting back against the wall…
Thanks to Eli Goldberg for sound editing on this recording and for the details in the song listing.
Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia. While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise? An audacious, twisted and visually stunning psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a powerhouse feature from director Olivia Wilde that boasts intoxicating performances from Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, surrounded by the impressive and pitch-perfect cast.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Nope,” the Screen Junkies, in a spoiler-packed episode, says that Jordan Peele is one of the few directors trying to preserve cinema “in a world dominated by corporate IP.” Daniel Kaluuya is “the oldest young man ever” and Nope is “an old-fashioned Black cowboy movie.” But while Peele is geeky enough he has an Akira reference as an Easter egg, much of the film shows “we’re so emotionally stunted that we can only process trauma through old SNL references.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
Gary Busey is facing four charges, including two counts of criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree, by the police department of Cherry Hill, N.J. The actor was visiting the town during the weekend of Aug. 12 to Aug. 14 to attend the Monster-Mania Convention at the Doubletree Hotel.
During the time of the convention, Cherry Hill police responded to a report of a sex offense at the Doubletree Hotel. After investigating the incident, detectives charged the 78-year-old actor on four offenses: two counts of criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree, one count of attempting criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree and one disorderly conduct count of harassment. The Cherry Hill Police Department has declined to provide further details regarding the incident at this time.
Monster-Mania is assisting authorities in their investigation into an alleged incident involving attendees and a celebrity guest at its convention in Cherry Hill, New Jersey last weekend. Immediately upon receiving a complaint from the attendees, the celebrity guest was removed from the convention and instructed not to return. Monster-Mania also encouraged the attendees to contact the police to file a report.
The safety and well-being of all our attendees is of the utmost importance to Monster-Mania, and the company will not tolerate any behavior that could compromise those values. Monster-Mania will continue to assist the authorities in any and every way possible.
…Part 4. From Iowa to Bread Loaf to Milford to Clarion
I traced this method of workshopping from Iowa to the early years of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and from Bread Loaf to Milford, which was the first writing conference dedicated to SFF. The Milford Writers’ Conference was founded by Damon Knight, Judith Merril, and James Blish in 1956, smack in the middle of Engle’s red-hot zeitgeist. There’s no indication the founders knew any of the politics attached to the expansion of those workshop methods—it’s likely they sourced the format from a colleague and figured this was the way workshopping was done.
Thanks to Engle, it was how workshopping was done. By the 1950s, almost nothing else would have existed to provide another model.
Milford was founded as a conference between peers, not as a program to teach newer writers. A decade later, in 1967, Robin Scott Wilson (who, in what appears to be an unrelated coincidence, used to work for the CIA), came and asked for assistance in starting a more beginner SFF workshop for the college campus on which he taught. He recruited much-needed help from Damon Knight and from Knight’s fellow author and by-then wife Kate Wilhelm.
None of the three had any prior knowledge about how to teach writing, other than by trying to adapt what they had been using at Milford. In Wilhelm’s Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, in which she details the very beginnings of Clarion, she confesses, “Neither Damon nor I had had teaching experience, and we were learning by trial and error what was effective and what was not.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Wilson, the only one of them who was an active professor at the time: “[A] condition of my employment was that I organize a writers’ workshop. I did not know how to do this. I did not know anybody who knew how to do this…”
… Oh, but Clarion’s methods work, an objector might point out, citing the rave reviews or the substantial number of people who credit a workshop on their ramp toward publication.
I don’t think that’s wrong. Clarion’s methods work…for the people they work for. I don’t want us not to have those methods. I want there to be more. More choice, more diversity, to nurture all types of voices and minds and pens.
My intent is not to criticize Wilson and Knight and Wilhelm for experimenting, but to emphasize the opposite—we should experiment more, in our own generation! Fifty years after Clarion’s founders built something new, it’s on us keep moving forward….
Lawyers for the Department of Justice and for Penguin Random House delivered their closing argument on Friday in a case that will determine whether the publisher, the country’s largest, can buy one of its rivals, Simon & Schuster.
The case, which will be decided in the fall by Judge Florence Y. Pan, focused on the effects of consolidation on publishing, an industry that has already been dramatically reshaped by mergers in recent years.
The government sued to stop the deal on antitrust grounds, saying it would diminish competition among the biggest houses and push down advances for some authors. Bertelsmann, the parent company of Penguin Random House, argued the deal would bring its supply chain and distribution muscle to a longer list of authors, to their benefit, and that the industry is large and varied, made up of many important players beyond the biggest firms. Judge Pan expressed skepticism over several of Penguin Random House’s main arguments.
Beyond the legal debate, the three-week trial offered an unusual glimpse into the world of publishing, offering observers a parade of high-profile publishing executives, agents and authors speaking frankly and on the record about how books are made.
Here is some of what we learned….
What books drive the industry’s profits?
By most measures, publishing is thriving. In any given year, hundreds of publishers in the United States release around 60,000 books. From 2012 to 2019, print book sales grew by more than 20 percent, from nine billion to 11 billion, Mr. Dohle testified. And book sales were strong during the pandemic, rising by another 20 percent from 2019 to 2021, he said.
But the trial highlighted a surprising fact: A minuscule percentage of books generate the vast majority of profits.
During their testimony, Penguin Random House executives said that just 35 percent of books the company publishes are profitable. Among the titles that make money, a very small sliver — just 4 percent — account for 60 percent of those profits.
“That’s how risky our business is,” Mr. Dohle said. “It’s the books that you don’t pay a lot for and become runaway best sellers.”
The trial offered examples of books that publishers paid a relatively small amount for, and that turned out to be a great hit. Sally Kim, the publisher of the Penguin Random House imprint Putnam, said they acquired “Where the Crawdads Sing” for “mid-six figures.” That book has gone on to sell around 15 million copies worldwide.
The issue is industrywide, and has been exacerbated by the rise of online retail, which tends to reinforce the visibility of best sellers. In 2021, fewer than one percent of the 3.2 million titles that BookScan tracked sold more than 5,000 copies.
(4) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1883 – [By Cat Eldridge.] So today is the birthday of Austin Tappan Wright who was born in 1883. He died at the young age of forty-eight as a result of an automobile accident near Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 18, 1931. During his lifetime, he published just one work of fiction, the “1915?” short story in the Atlantic Monthly for April 1915. In 1981 in the Elsewhere anthology, Mark Arnold and Terri Windling published An Islandian Tale: The Story of Alwina.
Islandian kinds of love are noted by Ursula K. Le Guin in her Always Coming Home novel, though she only mentions three of the four kinds which are ania (desire for marriage and commitment), apia (sexual attraction) and alia (love of place and family land and lineage). The fourth is amia which is love of friends.
Did you know that Islandia wasn’t published when he was alive? His widow edited his forty years long working obsession, err hobby, project that resulted in her twenty-eight hundred page long, well, what we would know as the Islandia novel if it had been published but it wasn’t, and following her own death in 1937, their daughter Sylvia further edited and cut that text drastically. The resulting draft, only a thousand pages long, shorn of Wright’s extensive appendices, was published in 1942, along with a pamphlet by Basil Davenport, An introduction to Islandia; its history, customs, laws, language, and geography, based on the original supplementary material.
It details an extensive Utopian fantasy about an imaginary country he called Islandia located near Antarctica (if I remember correctly) with a complex history, culture and geography, said to be in scope to Tolkien’s writings of Middle-earth. I personally do not think that is valid comparison, but it is certainly a most interesting read though nowhere near as interesting as what Tolkien created.
Now that might have been the end of the fiction based on Wright’s extensive notes and such but along came three authorized sequels by Mark Saxton who most people know for being responsible editing the papers of Austin Wright Tappan into Islandia. With the permission of the daughter, he set his last three novels in that fictional Utopian realm. It is for these that he is now remembered.
The first, The Islar was published in 1969 as a modern-day sequel to the original novel. The two others, The Two Kingdoms and Havoc in Islandia, one published a decade later and one three years after, both take place much earlier in the kingdom’s history. All three were written off of Wright’s extensive background notes.
He planned on more, but the daughter died and the Estate revoked him writing more. He’s since died and no one else has showed interest in writing novels based off these writings.
I also found by Richard N. Farmer, Islandia Revisited: A Sequel By Other Hands which he claims to be a sequel to Islandia. No, it’s not authorized, and I cannot figure why it’s still in existence.
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 20, 1932 — Anthony Ainley. He was the fourth actor to play the role of the Master, and the first actor to portray the Master as a recurring role since the death of Roger Delgado in 1973. He appeared in eleven stories with the Fourth through Seventh Doctors. It is noted that he enjoyed the role so much that sources note he even stayed in character when not portraying The Master by using both the voice and laugh in social situations. (Died 2004.)
Born August 20, 1943 — Sylvester McCoy, 79. The Seventh Doctor (my second favorite of the classic Who Doctors after Baker) and the last canon Doctor until the modern era of the official BBC Doctors when they revised canon. He also played Radagast in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, he’s The Old Man of Hoy in Sense8 and he voices Aezethril the Wizard in the “Endgame” episode of Thunderbirds Are Go.
Born August 20, 1951 — Greg Bear, 71. Blood Music which won a Nebula Award, and a Hugo Award at L.A. Con II (1984) in its original novelette form is a amazing read. His novels Moving Mars and Darwin’s Radio are also Nebula winners, and he has other short fiction award winners. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects.
Born August 20, 1961 — Greg Egan, 61. Australian writer who does exist though he does his damnedest to avoid a digital footprint. His excellent Permutation City won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and “Oceanic” garnered a Best Novella Hugo at Aussiecon Three. I assume he wasn’t there given his stance again attending Worldcons? And He’s won a lot of Ditmar Awards.
Born August 20, 1962 — Sophie Aldred, 60. She’s Ace, the Seventh Doctor’s Companion. (By the way Doctor Who Magazine: Costume Design: Dressing the Doctor from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker is a brilliant read and has a nice look at her costuming.) She’s reprised the role in the Big Finish audio adventures, and she’s recently written Doctor Who: At Childhood’s End where Ace meets the Thirteenth Doctor. born 1962, aged sixty years.
Born August 20, 1963 — Justina Vail Evans, 59. Olga Vukavitch in Seven Days, a series I thought was extremely well-crafted. She shows up in other genre undertakings such as Super Force, Conan, Journey to The Center of The Earth, The Adventures of Superboy, The X-Files, Carnosaur 3: Primal Species, Conan and Highlander: The Series.
(6) COMICS SECTION.
Dinosaur Comics finds the connection between Anne of Green Gables and Back to the Future.
(7) YOU BE THE JUDGE. The Onion’s satirical review of “the seven-volume Chronicles Of Buckeye” says“Underwhelming Fantasy Novel Starts With Map Of Ohio” – a map which includes John Scalzi’s hometown. The review seems to have nothing else to do with him. But do you believe in coincidences?
…True ghost shows were an evening’s worth of entertainment. Usually starting not long before midnight, these shows were staged in a movie theater and combined a magic act (with an emphasis on horror-tinged magic like swords through comely assistants) and a live-action horror skit (Frankenstein’s monster lurching around the stage) and a blackout period (in which phosphorescent-painted “ghosts” were flown on wires over the heads of the audience) and, usually starting at midnight, a screening of a classic or not-so-classic old black-and-white horror film….
(9) BALLET NEWS. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Laura Chapelle reviews a new production of Léo Delibes’s Coppélia (which, remember, is about a doll that comes to life) by the Scottish Ballet (scottishballet.org.uk) in a version by Morgann Runacre-Temple and Jessica Wright “also known as Jess and Morgs.”
Dr Coppelius, once a lonely doll maker, is recast here as a babyfaced tech guru in a turtleneck, founder and chief executive of a company called NuLife. He gets a visit from journalist Swanhlda, who questions him about his ethical negligence. Their conversations happen in voiceover while the dancers attempt, and don’t quite manage, to act them out credibly. Soon enough, Swanhilda finds herself wandering the halls of NuLife, encountering the company’s many lab creatures and, at one point, turning into one. (How? Don’t ask.)…
….It’s lo-fi dramaturgy that trips up this Coppélia. In the 19th-century libretto, Swannhilda had a fiance, Franz, who became obsessed with a doll. Jess and Morgs have contrived an improbable storyline to keep him around: the 21st-century Franz shows up with his journalist girlfriend to her work event, holding her hand throughout. The two open and close the ballet, but their relationship has no context or substance.
(10) CROWLEY’S ADVICE ABOUT READING THIS BOOK. In the Boston Review, John Crowley reviews an sf novel from Denmark — The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century, by Olga Ravn, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken – “Science Fiction as Poetry”.
…Its premises are familiar Science Fiction ones: it centers a great spaceship, called The Six Thousand Ship, built to reach far planets around other suns, discover new beings, and return to Earth with treasure. The wondrous new planet of this book is called New Discovery. The planet’s Earth-like geography—of forests, warm valleys, regular nights and days—belies the fact that it is home to some very unearthly beings—the so-called “objects” that the crew collect to bring home to Earth. But The Employees contains nothing like a conventional narrative, and the reader must piece together most of this on their own. Instead, the focus of the book—and its unusual form—are made clear by Ravn’s subtitle: “A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century.”…
A newly-discovered crater 250 miles off the coast of West Africa could have been formed by a large asteroid strike.
The probable timing of this potential asteroid strike could make it a “sibling” of the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub asteroid hit.
Researchers hope to investigate the crater to gain more precise clues into the timing of the likely impact.
Scientists have long believed the Chicxulub asteroid smacked Earth near the Gulf of Mexico, causing about a 100-million-megaton blast devastating enough to erase the dinosaurs from Earth. That burst created a short-lived thermal pulse in excess of 10,000 degrees, which is certainly lethal enough to have destroyed nearby life. But the massive asteroid may have had some help from a second “sibling” asteroid, scientists say.
More than five miles in diameter beneath the North Atlantic Ocean, the newly-discovered Nadir Crater lies about 250 miles off the coast of West Africa—and researchers believe that the asteroid that may have caused it about 66 million years ago could have been that dino-killing helper. There are two prevailing theories about this second asteroid, according to a new study, published August 17 in Science Advances: that the asteroid may have been a broken-off piece of the Chicxulub asteroid, or that it was a wholly separate asteroid from an impact cluster….
I am joined by former Guest, Laurel Hightower, as my Guest Co-Host talking to the indomitable Ellen Datlow, Award-Winning Editor of over 100 Anthologies! Ellen takes us through her career in one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve had.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
(1) SUPPORT THE CLARION “GHOST CLASS”. The pandemic forced the Clarion Writers’ Workshop to be postponed to 2022 – with the result that the “ghost class” accepted for 2020 has had to wait two years to attend. Clarion has been working on getting them additional scholarship support, including a generous grant from the SFWA Givers Fund. However, the Ghost Class is also launching a team fundraiser to support members of their class who have additional needs. The Indiegogo to “Help 18 sci-fi & fantasy writers go to Clarion” has raised $1,360 of its $19,000 goal with 28 days remaining.
A message from the Ghost Class: Getting accepted to Clarion in 2020 was a dream come true for each of us. Then…2020 happened. Over the past two years, we’ve lost jobs, changed careers, had babies, cared for and lost loved ones, and moved between states, countries — even continents. We’ve also gotten to know each other online, supporting each other through all the rejections and acceptances and “unprecedented times.”
Now Clarion is finally back on, and we’re determined to make sure all of us can afford to go. Instead of running our own individual fundraisers, we decided to combine forces and try to raise an extra $1000 each toward tuition for all 18 of us. Those of us who don’t need as much will donate back to a pool for those who need a little more. And if we raise more than we need, we might even be able to help fund future Clarion attendees.
How can you help? 1. Donate to our fundraiser. Every small amount helps! 2. Share our fundraiser page to all your social media accounts today. (Now is the perfect time to help us build momentum!) 3. Order one of our perks. We’re offering editing services, story feedback, workshops, artwork, and more on the fundraiser page, check them out!
Those of us who’ve run successful fundraisers like this before know how important it is to get early momentum from contributors like you, so thank you, truly, from the bottom of our ghostly hearts!
– The 20202021 2022 Clarion UCSD Ghost Class
(2) RENDEZVOUS ALONG THE WAY. Janelle Monáe will be joined by several of her collaborators at the stops on her upcoming book tour for The Memory Librarian from HarperCollins. They include Sheree Renée Thomas and Alaya Dawn Johnson.
In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, futurist, and worldwide superstar Janelle Monáe and an esteemed cohort of collaborating writers bring to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of her critically acclaimed album, exploring how different threads of liberation — queerness, race, gender plurality and love—become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape … and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms.
(3) RUSSIA RETALIATES AGAINST SANCTIONS. The Kidscreen headline says “Russia strikes at Peppa Pig in copyright battle” but as Craig Miller explains on Facebook, “[The article] spells out a Russian counter to all of the international economic sanctions being put in place because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian government has declared that trademarks, copyrights, and patents from countries they have deemed ‘unfriendly’ can be ignored and Russian companies and people can steal and bootleg all they want.”
Peppa Pig has gotten caught up in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the development could have implications for other entertainment IPs.
eOne’s billion-dollar franchise has found itself at the heart of a Russian retaliatory strategy against economic sanctions. A Russian court has dismissed a case that eOne brought last year against a local entrepreneur who allegedly used the Peppa Pig trademark without permission. And the government has now doubled down on the ruling with its own decree allowing patented inventions and designs to be used without permission or compensation.
The decree opens the door to copyright infringement of brands from many territories that Russia has deemed to be unfriendly in recent weeks, including Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, the US, Japan and Switzerland. However, it’s likely that Russian companies will use the new rule change to stock up on devices, technologies and (in the case of the entertainment industry) kids content, which could be in short supply amid all the sanctions, according to a statement from Chicago-based law firm Baker McKenzie.…
The second book in our series, Sticking it to the Man, originally included material on radical science fiction but the length of the book completely blew out and our publisher insisted we shorten it. It was at this point that my co-editor, Iain McIntyre, and I realised we had the makings of a third book – on radical science and speculative fiction. We pitched the idea to our publisher, and they were very receptive. With the high/low culture, hardback/paperback, literary/pulp distinctions particularly blurred with sci-fi, and a huge range of authors and works to choose from, we certainly had no trouble finding enough material for book-length treatment of the subject. Indeed, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds could have been twice as long, and we still would not have been able to cover everything.
Lee, 33, had signed up for Ukraine’s territorial defence force in the first days of the war.
A resident of Irpin, he appeared in several films and his voice featured in the Ukrainian versions of The Lion King and The Hobbit….
Pavlo Li, as the actor was formally known, was born in Crimea in 1988 and had recently begun presenting a show on Dom TV, a Ukrainian channel originally aimed at audiences in the eastern areas seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1994 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-eight years ago the Robocop series was first broadcast on this date in the United Kingdom. (It would be four days more before it was broadcast in the States.) Stripped largely of the violence and cynicism of the film that it was based on, it was intended to appeal to children and young adults.
Here Richard Eden is Murphy / RoboCop. And given its target audience, playing a prominent role is Sarah Campbell as Gadget, an eight year-old girl. Certain characters in the film are rejiggered into new characters, i.e. Anne Lewis becomes Lisa Madigan.
It lasted but twenty-two episodes over one season. Cancellation was actually announced part way into the season.
So how was reception for it? The Variety review at the time said of it at that time that the, “Series has a good chance of succeeding because, on the basis of the opener, it’s brave enough to amuse instead of intimidate. There’s a lesson there.” And the Houston Chronicle like it quite a bit saying it “works well as a mass-market show. … It offers action, as opposed to violence. And its ironic humor, though not as hard-edged as the movies’, has a sly, subversive bent.” Finally word goes to the Boston Globe: “This is a far campier and cartoonier RoboCop than the original. Even when the wit is blunt, the writing is snappy; and the acting is just broad enough to poke a little fun at itself.”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 14, 1918 — Mildred Clingerman. Most of her stories were published in the Fifties in F&SF when Boucher was Editor. Boucher included “The Wild Wood” by her in the seventh volume of The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction and dedicated the book to her, calling her the “most serendipitous of discoveries.” A Cupful of Space and The Clingerman Files, neither available as a digital publication, contain all of her stories. (Died 1997.)
Born March 14, 1941 — Wolfgang Petersen, 81. Usually Birthdays are reserved for individuals with longer genre records but he’s responsible as director for two of my favorite films, Enemy Mine and The NeverEnding Story. He also produced The Bicentennial Man. If you look carefully, you’ll see him in The NeverEnding Story as the man who drops milk in one scene.
Born March 14, 1946 — Diana G. Gallagher. She won a Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist along with Brad W. Foster at Noreascon 3 after being a nominee at Nolacon II the previous year. She won it under the name Diana Gallagher Wu while married to William F. Wu whose Birthday we did yesterday. She was also an author filker and author who wrote books for children and young adults based on Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and various Trek series. Her best-known filksong was “A Reconsideration of Anatomical Docking Maneuvers in a Zero Gravity Environment.” (Died 2021.)
Born March 14, 1961 — Penny Johnson Jerald, 62. She played Kasidy Yates, the love of Ben Sisko, on Deep Space Nine. She’s now playing Dr. Claire Finn on Orville, just one of many Trek cast member that you’ll find there. And she provided the voice of President Amanda Waller on the most excellent Justice League: Gods & Monsters.
Born March 14, 1964 — Julia Ecklar, 58. She’s the Astounding Award–winning author for The Kobayashi Maru which is available in English and German ebook editions. She’s also a filk musician who recorded numerous albums in the Off Centaur label in the early 1980s, including Horse-Tamer’s Daughter, Minus Ten and Counting, and Genesis. She was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1996.
Born March 14, 1957 — Tad Williams, 65. Author of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Otherland series, and Shadowmarch series as well as the most excellent Tailchaser’s Song and The War of the Flowers.
Born March 14, 1971 — Rebecca Roanhorse, 51. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won a Hugo as best short story at Worldcon 76. (It won a Nebula as well.) She also won the Astounding Award for the same work for Best New Writer. She has five novels to date, including Trail of Lightning which was nominated for a Hugo at Dublin 2019, and Black Sun, being nominated for a Hugo at DisCon III.
Born March 14, 1974 — Grace Park, 48. Boomer on the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. She’s been on a fair amount of genre over the years with her first acting role being the Virtual Avatar in the “Bits of Love” episode of Outer Limits. After that, she shows up on Secret Agent Man, This Immortal, The Outer Limits again, Star Gate SG-1, Andromeda, and oddly enough Battlestar Galactica in a number roles other than her main one. I’m sure one of you can explain the latter. I confess that I’ve not watched it.
(9) COFFEE BREAK’S OVER. [Item by Olav Rokne.] To be honest, the headline of this spoof article is better than the content, but it’s worth sharing if only for this line: “After a very long week in theatres, there’s only one question on people’s minds, who is going to play Batman next?” “Batman has been out for a week, isn’t it time for a reboot?” at The Beaverton.
The “Boba Fett” series is rad, but what about the other bounty hunters we saw momentarily in “The Empire Strikes Back”? Like this guy, who looks like the costume budget ran out and so they just wrapped a towel around his head. Doesn’t he deserve his own streaming series or something?…
Ukrainian artist Vlad Legostaev is teaming up with Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville for two connecting Time Before Time covers—the proceeds for which will go toward supporting Ukrainian Red Cross relief efforts.
“With Time Before Time we always ask great exciting artists to provide B covers for the series. We recently asked the hugely talented Vlad Legostaev to provide a wonderful connecting cover for an exciting 2-part story by Rory McConville and Ron Salas,” said Shalvey. “Unfortunately since then, Vlad’s home country has suffered true horrors, so, with Vlad’s permission, we decided to use his art to try to raise money for those suffering in Ukraine. So now, the proceeds from Vlad’s B cover for Time Before Time #13 and 14 will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross. We hope Vlad’s art can help his homeland, in some small way.”
In the Time Before Time series, to escape a world with no future, many turn to the Syndicate—a criminal organization that, for the right price, will smuggle you back in time to the promise of a better yesterday.
Time Before Time #13 and Time Before Time #14 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, June 8 and Wednesday, July 6, respectively:
Time Before Time #13 Cover B by Legostaev – Diamond Code APR220254
Time Before Time #14 Cover B by Legostaev – Diamond Code JAN229189
(12) SADDLE UP. Are you a fan of Western fiction and nonfiction? The Western Writers of America have announced the 2022 Spur Award winners. The complete list is at the link.
David Heska Wanbli Weiden is getting his fourth Spur Award in three years, and bestselling novelists Michael Punke and C.J. Box are also 2022 winners. Presentations to winners and finalists are scheduled for June 22-25 during WWA’s convention in Great Falls, Mont….
… While the crust of our planet is relatively cool, the interior is very warm indeed. Tapping this heat to produce electricity has the potential to provide a practically limitless amount of clean energy to the masses, that is, at least, if we can actually reach it.
Now though, energy company Quaise is hoping to achieve such a feat by combining a megawatt-power gyrotron (which forces atoms to melt together) with the latest state-of-the-art drilling tools to dig deep down into the Earth’s surface and tap this underused source of energy.
The firm hopes to reach depths of over 12 miles and is aiming to produce power within four years….
Universal Studios Hollywood announced its Nintendo-themed land, which is already under construction, will open sometime in 2023. When it does, guests will have the chance to become part of a larger-than-life Nintendo universe.
…Though Universal did not release specific details on which attractions will be in the park, the company did share that the land will feature a “groundbreaking ride and interactive areas,” as well as themed dining and shopping that will make you feel like you’re an actual video game character.
Theme park news site WDWNT has been closely following the construction progress. So far, the only thematic elements visible in construction photos are the iconic green hills Nintendo fans will easily recognize. It’s hard to determine exactly which rides are being built, but the attractions are expected to be similar to those at Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan.
This includes Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, a real-life Mario Kart race that uses augmented reality (in the form of Mario-themed glasses), projection mapping and screen projections to make favorite Mario Kart courses come to life; and Yoshi’s Adventure, a slow-moving ride where guests can fulfill their childhood fantasy of hopping on Yoshi’s back and going for a spin around the Mushroom Kingdom….
[Thanks to John King “Pie Day” Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, James Bacon, Alan Baumler, Daniel Dern, Craig Miller, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The Clarion Workshop has been put off a second year under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. The students selected for the cancelled 2020 workshop will come in the summer of 2022 instead. Clarion will not try to run an online alternative version as Karen Joy Fowler, Clarion Foundation President, explained to workshop alumni:
It is with great disappointment that we share the postponement of the next Clarion Workshop to 2022. Last year, we wrote to you that safety was the primary factor driving our decision to postpone the workshop, especially because of the travel it would require of our students and instructors. That remains true. We also continue to believe that much of what makes Clarion special would be lost in the process of moving online. Although we know by now that distance learning is certainly possible, per last year’s note, “Clarion is a residential workshop, and a significant part of its magic is the space and time it allows students to fully dedicate their days to writing—not to mention living with 18 other writers, similarly excited to shape their craft.” We explored every possible option to both deliver the full Clarion workshop experience and keep our community of writers and instructors safe, but as everyone is aware, challenges with the covid-19 pandemic persist.
We shared this news ahead of time with our Clarion Class of 2020, whom you may also know as the Clarion Ghost Class. We are eager to work with this incredibly talented group of writers, and until next summer will be collaborating with them to help hone their craft and prepare them for the workshop experience and the broader publishing landscape.
Supporting the Ghost Class will be our focus, but we are also working on initiatives to continue building out our Clarion community. We started this last summer by offering our Clarion Conversations series, and are exploring other avenues to further drive our mission and provide a stable foundation for workshop operations.
We know this raises several questions, such as whether we will be opening any application slots for next year and what we will be doing in the meantime. Top of mind for us is finding more alumni volunteers to assist with specific needs in communications, outreach, and fundraising.
… Publishing industry magazine the Bookseller revealed on Wednesday that the Folio, which is awarded to the year’s best work of literature regardless of form, was scammed by “sophisticated cyber-criminals”. The scammers posed as the Mexican author [Valeria] Luiselli, who had won with her novel Lost Children Archive, and requested that the £30,000 payment be made through PayPal.
Minna Fry, the prize’s executive director, confirmed that the funds were lost and that “the police were informed at the time, as were key industry colleagues”.
“Our winner Valeria Luiselli was awarded her prize money in full, and the lost funds were absorbed by cost savings elsewhere,” she added.
The prize is run by a charity and is independent from its sponsor, Rathbone Investment Management. Fry said the investment firm “have supported us through this incident and helped us to put in place additional safeguarding measures”.
This is not the first time a book prize has been targeted by fraudsters. A spokesperson for the Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction, worth £50,000, confirmed that it was also targeted in November, but no funds were paid.
“Someone emailed pretending to be the 2020 winner Craig Brown and asked us to pay the prize money via PayPal,” a spokesperson for the prize told the Bookseller…
Becky Chambers’ latest novel, “The Galaxy and The Ground Within,” is the final book in her Wayfarer series, which is about aliens, humans and AI trying to make their way through the galaxy and find common ground. Some of the characters in her books may seem fantastical and strange, but the conversations between them often revolve around familiar issues like identity, gender, family structure, and politics. We talk about why she’s closing this chapter in her writing career, even though the Wayfarer series could’ve gone on indefinitely, and what she has planned next.
(4) WEB OF LIES. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee casts an oversized shadow across comic book fandom. But arguments abound about how much credit he deserves for the various works he is purportedly behind. In a new deeply-researched biography True Believer, journalist Abraham Riesman looks at this iconic figure. It’s a terrific book that perhaps people should be considering for Best Related Work on *next year’s* Hugo ballot, and that the Hugo Book Club Blog reviewed this week: “The Lies That Bind”.
There is a long tradition of fandom idolizing a certain variety of PT Barnum-style self-promoter. This tradition has come under much-needed scrutiny in the past decade thanks to works such as Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein by Farrah Mendelsohn. Abraham Riesman’s True Believer is a welcome addition to this critical reckoning.
… The remote-controlled bot was made by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company famous for its viral videos of machines dancing and running with human-like dexterity. (Versions of “Spot,” as the mechanical dog is known, can open doors, and are strong enough to help tow an 18-wheeler.)
Since October, the NYPD has dispatched the robot to a handful of crime scenes and hostage situations, raising fears of unwanted surveillance and questions about the department’s use of public dollars. The mobile dog, which comes equipped with automated sensors, lights, and cameras capable of collecting “limitless data,” is sold at a starting price of $74,000.
A spokesperson for the NYPD said the robot dog was on standby, but not used, during a domestic dispute at East 28th Street on Monday afternoon. After a man allegedly barricaded himself inside a room with a mother and her baby, officers showed up and convinced him to let them exit. The man was arrested for weapons possession, police said….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 15, 1944 –On this day in 1944, The Monster Maker which was originally titled The Devil’s Apprentice premiered. It was directed by Sam Newfield and produced from a script written by by Sigmund Neufeld which was by Lawrence Williams, Pierre Gendron and Martin Mooney. It starred J. Carrol Naish, Talla Birell, Wanda McKay and Ralph Morgan. It was almost completely ignored by critics at the time and it currently holds an extremely low five percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. You can see it here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 15, 1452 – Leonardo da Vinci. One of our greatest neighbors. Among his many drawings were things that could almost be made then; dreaming them up, and depicting them, took imagination very much like SF authors’ and illustrators’. Here is a 500th-anniversary exhibit I made for Dublin 2019 the 77th Worldcon with high-tech graphics wizard Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink (shown as it appeared at Loscon XLVI later; scroll down past Rotsler Award photos). (Died 1519) [JH]
Born April 15, 1908 – Howard Browne. Edited Amazing and Fantastic; five novels, a dozen shorter stories for us, some under other names; also detective fiction; films, television. More here. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born April 15, 1933 — Elizabeth Montgomery. She’s best remembered as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched. Other genre roles included being Lili in One Step Beyond’s “The Death Waltz” which you can watch here. She also had on every-offs in The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and voicing a Barmaid in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born April 15, 1937 — Thomas F. Sutton. Comic book artist who’s best known for his contributions to Marvel Comics and Warren Publishing’s line of black-and-white horror magazines. He’s particularly known as the first artist of the Vampirella series. He illustrated “Vampirella of Draculona”, the first story which was written by Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born April 15, 1938 – Unipán Helga, age 83. (Personal name last, Hungarian style.) Designed more than a hundred twenty books, many ours. Here is The Antics of Robi Robot (in Romanian). Here is an interior from the Jun 73 Korunk (“Our Age”). Here is Orthopedic Hat. Here is The Vicissitudes of a Brave Mouse. Here is Calendar of Nature. [JH]
Born April 15, 1941 – Mal Dean. Six covers, twoscore interiors for us. Particularly associated with Michael Moorcock and the graphic-art Jerry Cornelius. Here is the Jun 69 New Worlds. Here is “The Duke of Queens duels Lord Shark the Unknown” illustrating MM’s “White Stars”. Here is the Nov 75 – Jan 76 Other Times. Outside our field, jazz trumpeter & bandleader, illustrator; cartoonist. Here is a posthumous artbook. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born April 15, 1949 – Tim Bolgeo. Uncle Timmy chaired LibertyCons 1-25, Chattacons 7-11. Fan Guest of Honor at Con*Stellation III (not this one), DeepSouthCon 43, StellarCon 33, LibertyCon 32. Four decades a fixture in fandom. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born April 15, 1949 — Sharan Newman, 72. Author of the most excellent Guinevere trilogy (Guinevere, Chessboard Queen and Guinevere Evermore), a superb reinterpretation of the Arthurian saga . They’re available at the usual digital suspects as is her superb Catherine LeVendeur medieval mystery series. Alas her SF short stories are not. (CE)
Born April 15, 1966 – Cressida Crowell, age 56. A dozen novels, particularly about How to Train Your Dragon (eleven million copies sold) and The Wizards of Once. Illustrates many of her own books. Blue Peter Book Award. “Children are surrounded by adults who are VERY BOSSY. They might not always mean to be bossy, and they have the best of intentions, but still.” [JH]
Born April 15, 1974 — Jim C. Hines, 47. Winner at Chicon 7 of the Best Fan Writer Hugo. Author of the Goblin Quest series which I’ve read at least two of and enjoyed. Same for his Magic ex Libris series. Yeah more popcorn reading. (CE)
Born April 15, 1990 — Emma Watson, 31. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise which lasted an entire decade. She was Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the voice of Prince Pea in The Tale of Despereaux. (CE)
Born April 15, 1997 — Maisie Williams, 24. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She was Ashildr, a Viking woman of unique skills, the principal character of “The Girl Who Died”, during the time of Twelfth Doctor who would be back several times more. She was Wolfsbane in the Marvel film New Mutants. (CE)
Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, four novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, and The Changeling and two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. He is also the creator and writer of a comic book Victor LaValle’s DESTROYER. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the World Fantasy Award, British World Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Shirley Jackson Award, American Book Award, and the key to Southeast Queens. He was raised in Queens, New York. He now lives in Washington Heights with his wife and kids. He teaches at Columbia University.
Sam J. Miller is the Nebula-Award-winning author of The Art of Starving (an NPR best of the year) and Blackfish City(a best book of the year for Vulture, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, and more – and a “Must Read” in Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine). A recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award and a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Sam’s work has been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, John W. Campbell and Locus Awards, and reprinted in dozens of anthologies. A community organizer by day, he lives in New York City. His latest novel is The Blade Between.
…In 1922 he published his first and most notable fantasy work, The Worm Ouroboros. The Worm, a serpent or snake, derived from the old Norse, ormr. This he followed with three volumes set in the imaginary world first observed by the Lords Juss and Brandoch Daha as they gaze from the top of great mountain, Koshstra Pevrarcha in The Worm, Zimiamvia, known as The Zimiamvian trilogy: Mistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (published posthumously in 1958). His Icelandic sagas were: Styrbiorn the Strong (1926) and his much admired translation of Egil’s Saga (1930).
In 1963 almost twenty years after Eddison’s death his late wife, Winifred Grace, and his close friend and literary executor, Sir George Rostrevor Hamilton deposited into the care of the special collections of the Leeds Central Library the vast majority of Eddison’s manuscript works….
(11) LIVE OCTOTHORPE. Big doings by John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty on the Octothorpe podcast. Listen to Episode 29 here — “Ode to Badger”.
John is not Chris Garcia, Alison is full of beans, and Liz is T. S. Eliot. We handle letters of comment and then spend an hour talking about ConFusion in a BUMPER EPISODE.
You also are invited to join them for Octothorpe Live on 25 April – either join the Facebook group here or email them at [email protected] for the Zoom link!
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League/Trilogy” on YouTube is HBO Max’s repackaging of Man Of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League into a trilogy.
[Thanks to Edd Vick, Bruce D. Arthurs, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Steven French, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(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.]
(1) COOL RUNNING. Archipelacon 2, the Nordic science fiction and fantasy convention in Mariehamn, Finland in 2025, is also a bid for Eurocon for 2025. (Cheryl Morgan added, “but not Worldcon, the venue is too small and they are much too sensible.”)
(2) PLAN B. Ian Sales, in “Reading diary 2020, #8” briefly gave some thought to reviewing the books on the Clarke Award shortlist before realizing it would be more interesting to tee off on US fandom.
…The Clarke commentary no longer takes place. An attempt to reinvigorate it several years ago with a shadow jury was loudly condemned by US fans who plainly didn’t understand what a shadow jury is and equally plainly hadn’t bothered to find out. Despite all claims to the contrary, fandom is not a community. Once upon a time, it was an emergent phenomenon of the stories’ existence. Now it’s just a part of the marketing machine, and, happily for the publishers, it costs them nothing. Five stars means less than one star. Giving a book five stars just makes you a fucking mug. And everything is dominated by the US, a nation which seems congenitally incapable of recognising that other countries exist and they do things differently there (yes, I know, that’s a time-based reference, not geographic one; but never mind). True, science fiction is an American mode of fiction, and the single largest market for its creations, so its dominance is hardly surprising. But us non-USians, while we may appreciate the genre output of the US – the stories, the novels, the films, the TV series – we don’t actually give a shit about what US fans think. Science fiction fandom is not one giant global family. It never has been. And it never should be. Vive la différence.
(There actually are bunch of good reviews in the post, once you get past this.)
(3) WINDYCON CANCELLATION. Chicago-area’s Windycon will not take place this year now that they’ve reached agreement with their facility.
Out of concern for the safety for our members, guests, and staff, Windycon 47 in 2020, originally scheduled for November 13-15 is cancelled for this year by mutual agreement with our hotel.
All room reservations will be automatically canceled by the hotel beginning Monday, 7/13.
If you have purchased a membership, dealer tables, or space in the art show for Windycon 47, we will refund your money or roll over your payments for Windycon 47 in 2021, per your preference. Please contact us at [email protected] to let us know. Dealers, please contact [email protected] for your preferences, and artists, please contact [email protected].
If you haven’t contacted us by August 1, 2020, then memberships will be automatically refunded.
If you have a membership that was rolled over from Windycon 46, that membership will automatically be rolled over to the convention in 2021.
There may yet be some online activities which will be held during Windycon 47’s original timeframe. Should this come to pass, information will be posted on the Windycon website and via social media channels.
Windycon 47 will now be held at the Westin in Lombard, Illinois on November 12-14, 2021, COVID-permitting, featuring all of the guests from 2020.
Welcome to our special interview with Nadia Odunayo! Nadia is the founder of The StoryGraph, an online service that helps you find books to fit your mood. After you read the interview, head over to The StoryGraph to sign up and find your next read!
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The StoryGraph is a website that helps you to find perfect books for you based on your mood and the types of books you like to read.
Our magic feature is “Ordered for you.” Users fill out a short survey — it takes anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes to fill out — letting us know their favourite sorts of books to read, down to specific topics, types of authors, themes, genres etc. — and we order all of the books on our website for them based on how well they match their preferences.
Combine that with our filter menu, where you can filter down by moods, pace, genres, book size, and more, and you’re never more than a few clicks away from your next perfect book!
For the first time since the February 1997 reissue, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is leading at the box office this weekend after clocking an estimated $175K at 483 locations. Empire should end the weekend with a 3-day take in-between the high $400K and low $500K.
On Monday, 153 prominent writers, academics and public figures signed their names to a statement entitled “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” According to the signatories, “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.”
While the letter itself, published by the magazine Harper’s, doesn’t use the term, the statement represents a bleak apogee in the yearslong, increasingly contentious debate over “cancel culture.” The American left, we are told, is imposing an Orwellian set of restrictions on which views can be expressed in public. Institutions at every level are supposedly gripped by fears of social media mobs and dire professional consequences if their members express so much as a single statement of wrongthink.
This is false. Every statement of fact in the Harper’s letter is either wildly exaggerated or plainly untrue. More broadly, the controversy over “cancel culture” is a straightforward moral panic. While there are indeed real cases of ordinary Americans plucked from obscurity and harassed into unemployment, this rare, isolated phenomenon is being blown up far beyond its importance.
(7) CLARON CONVERSATIONS CONTINUE. The next two installments of the Clarion Conversations are scheduled for July 15 and 16.
The Future is Queer – July 15, 5:30pm PT / 8:30pm ET (Register here.)
This week, our guests are José Iriarte, Jordy Rosenberg, and Nicasio Andrés Reed, moderated by Ellen Kushner. The conversation, named in honor of the Delany-Kushner-Sherman “The Future is Queer” scholarship for Clarion students, will explore speculative fiction through the eyes of these four writers whose work centers queer stories and experiences, the writers who inspired and paved the way for them, and what the future of the field looks like.
We encourage attendees of tonight’s conversation to make a contribution to the Delany-Kushner-Sherman/The Future is Queer Scholarship, which recognizes the continued work of Samuel R. Delany, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman as active LGBTQ writers in the field of science fiction and fantasy, and their contributions as Clarion faculty members who have been particularly supportive of LGBTQ students over the years. The scholarship provides financial support for Clarion students who self-identify as part of the broader queer community. In addition, it recognizes the need for more queer representation in speculative literature, and the many hardships queer writers face due to employment, home, and financial discrimination. Our hope is that the Delany-Kushner-Sherman scholarship will help more queer writers attend the Clarion Workshop.
Remembering Octavia/Writers of Color at Clarion – July 16, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)
This week, our guests are adrienne marie brown, Lisa Bolekaja, and Senaa Ahmad, moderated by Shelley Streeby (Clarion Workshop Faculty Director). The focus this week is to highlight the contributions of writers of color in the Clarion community, looking back to early student Octavia E. Butler and to the future through the eyes of these three writers, including two Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholars—a scholarship for Clarion students of color sponsored by the Carl Brandon Society.
The Carl Brandon Societyhas tirelessly dedicated itself to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. We encourage attendees of tonight’s conversation to make a contribution to the Butler Scholarship Memorial Fund.
Videos of the first two panels are available on YouTube.
July 11, 1997 — Contact premiered. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis with production by him and Steve Starkey. It‘s based off Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name with the screenplay by James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg. Jodie Foster is the protagonist with an extensive supporting cast of Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe, Jake Busey and David Morse. Contact won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at BucConeer, beating out Men In Black, Gattaca and Starship Troopers. The rough consensus of the critics was that it had great ideas, quite flat characters. Box office wise, it never earned back what it cost to make. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 78% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 11, 1899 – E.B. White. Essayist at Harper’s and The New Yorker. Three revisions of Strunk’s 1918 Elements of Style (1959, 1972, 1979) which thus since 1959 has also borne White’s name. Letters, 1976 (Winship Award); Essays, 1977; Poems & Sketches, 1981. For us, Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web(Newbery Honor), The Trumpet of the Swan. Amer. Acad. Arts & Letters Gold Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Wilder Award, Nat’l Medal for Literature, Pulitzer Prize. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born July 11, 1913 – Harold McCauley. Five dozen covers, a hundred interiors for Amazing, Fantastic, Imagination, Other Worlds, Universe. Here is a cover for the August 1940 Fantastic. Here is the May 1952 Imagination. Here are some images from the Grapefruit Moon Gallery (the stern man with a staff is HM’s cover for Empire of the Atom). See Di Fate’s note on him in Infinite Worlds. The Quaker Oats man has his face. (Died 1977) [JH]
Born July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith. Forty short stories; even the titles are strange – “Scanners Live in Vain”, “Golden the Ship Was – Oh! Oh! Oh!”, “Think Blue, Count Two”. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish. Under another name (and he used others too) he was Sun Yat-sen’s godson, earned a Ph.D., knew six languages, studied brainwashing and psychological warfare. We may understand him some day. (Died 1966) [JH]
Born July 11, 1920 — Yul Brynner. The Gunslinger in Westworld and its sequel Futureword. He would also play Carson, a human warrior in the post-apocalyptic The Ultimate Warrior. I don’t think we can consider The King and I genre or even genre adjacent… If we do, he played Prince Mongkut in the short-lived Anna and the King as well. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born July 11, 1925 — David Graham, 95. The voice of Daleks in the early years of Doctor Who including two non-canon films, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.; his voice work made him a sought-after worker and he’d be used on Thunderbirds, Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar, Timeslip, Moomin, Stingray and even the recent Thunderbirds Are Go. (CE)
Born July 11, 1954 – Sarah Prince. Ceramicist, photographer, graphic designer. Voice and handbell choirs. Co-chaired Ditto 6 (fanziners’ convention, named for a brand of spirit duplicator – I’ve used it myself and “spirit duplicator” still sounds fantastic). Here (Mark Olson photo) she is at Boskone 28. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born July 11, 1956 — Amitav Ghosh, 64. Author of the absolutely brilliant The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Really just go read it and we’ll discuss it over a cup of chai masala. (CE)
Born July 11, 1958 – Alan M. Gutierrez, 62. A hundred sixty covers, forty interiors. Here is the Spring 1983 Rigel. Here is The Infinite Sea. Here is the April 2005 Analog. Here is Fuzzy Ergo Sum. Here are some starship concept sketches. [JH]
Born July 11, 1959 — Richard James Bleiler, 61. Genres breed academics. One of them is this bibliographer of speculative fiction, crime, and adventure fiction. Among his papers are “The Fantastic Pulp Fiction of Frank Belknap Long” which appeared in Gary Hoppenstand’s Pulp Fiction of the ’20S and ’30S and “Forgotten Giant: A Brief History of Adventure Magazines” which was published in Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (CE)
Born July 11, 1976 — T.L. Morganfield, 44. She is as she says “An Aztec geek; whether it’s history or mythology, I devour it all. It’s a love affair that began in college and has taken over my fiction writing life.” And that’s why I’m recommending her Bone Flower trilogy which is at genre adjacent if not genre. Her Aztec West series bring the Aztec gods into the Old West and is quite entertaining in a weird sort of manner. (CE)
Born July 11, 1984 – Marie Lu, 36. Nine novels, five New York Times Best Sellers, some adapted to graphic novels and video games; they are young-adult futuristic dystopias. Here is a January 2020 interview for The Writer. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur shows a suspicious case of news not going viral.
… He’s at his best though, when he is playing Dr. Lao; specifically when he drops the stereotypical façade of a foolish Chinese man and becomes the traveled scholar underneath. Suddenly he is standing straight and tall, almost regal in his confidence. His voice is deep and carrying, but his demeanor is kind, wise, and gentle. He speaks in a perfect and precise manner and his words discuss the magical secrets of the universe. I hadn’t known it at the time, but despite all the makeup and effects, this role was one of the closest to Randall’s true self.
At this point, I was awed by Randall’s performance in the movie, but felt little beyond that. Dr. Lao was a few thousand years too old for my tastes, and I had yet to see the man behind him more clearly. Then my father’s and my weekly Password viewing happened to feature a very special guest. I was quite excited, not necessarily because it was Tony Randall on Password, but simply because it was an actor that I recognized and admired. At least, that’s how it started.
I was folding laundry while watching the TV, and I found my attention frequently drifting away from my linens and to the man on screen (no, not host Alan Ludden.) Randall was fascinating to watch. He always sat with perfect poise and spoke with wonderful rich tones. And he was absolutely erudite, forcing me to pull out a dictionary a few times. His brilliance aided in his gameplaying as well, as I believe he is the only player in Password history so far to win four games in a row!
… Clues and odd impressions pile up like plague victims, and from time to time the answer to the riddle seems close at hand, as if you could reach out and grasp it. Then the answer that seemed so clear wriggles from your grasp like an electric eel and slithers into darkness.
Please note, this is a direct sequel to The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind. It is entirely possible that if you have not read book one in The Frost Files series then this review will contain something akin to minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Teagan Frost’s life is finally back on track. Her role working for the government as a psychokinetic operative is going well and she might even be on course for convincing her crush to go out with her. But, little does she know, that sh*t is about to hit the fan . . .
A young boy with the ability to cause earthquakes has come to Los Angeles – home to the San Andreas, one of the most lethal fault lines in the world. If Teagan can’t stop him, the entire city – and the rest of California – could be wiped off the map.
For reference, before we begin, I’m going to refer to this book henceforth as Random Sh*t. I can’t be bothered typing Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air all the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant title for a brilliant book, but it’s wearing me out. The prospect alone of having to repeatedly type it out is giving me the fear.
God, it’s like assembling a fusion reactor without a manual. I am honestly surprised at my perceived commercial success of Tamsyn Muir’s The Locked Tomb series. Not that it is bad in any way – in fact, we gave book one a stellar review and listed the series as one of our top Science Fantasy books of all time. It’s just that these books are so confusing that you will literally never understand what is happening, which is usually a huge turn off for most readers. I am pleasantly surprised that the general public has collectively decided these books are worth the time and effort.
So, Harrow The Ninth, the second book in the series, is coming out soon. You might be sitting on your couch right now, browsing this review on your phone, and thinking “oh a Harrow review, maybe he will say the books get less confusing.” Well reader, no, unfortunately, I cannot say that because I don’t understand half the plot, and the other half I do understand is basically all spoilers.
Astronomers have discovered that there is a vast wall across the southern border of the local cosmos.
The South Pole Wall, as it is known, consists of thousands of galaxies — beehives of trillions of stars and dark worlds, as well as dust and gas — aligned in a curtain arcing across at least 700 million light-years of space. It winds behind the dust, gas and stars of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, from the constellation Perseus in the Northern Hemisphere to the constellation Apus in the far south. It is so massive that it perturbs the local expansion of the universe.
But don’t bother trying to see it. The entire conglomeration is behind the Milky Way, in what astronomers quaintly call the zone of avoidance.
An international team of astronomers led by Daniel Pomarède of Paris-Saclay University and R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii announced this new addition to the local universe on Friday in a paper in Astrophysical Journal. The paper is festooned with maps and diagrams of blobby and stringy features of our local universe as well as a video tour of the South Pole Wall.
It is the latest installment of an ongoing mission to determine where we are in the universe — to fix our neighborhood among the galaxies and the endless voids — and where we are going….
…Going into the novel, I did not quite realize that this was going to be a twist on a Sherlock adventure, and it was a delight to meet Buc and Eld on Holmes and Watsonian terms. The author takes this further than I expected–giving Buc a use of a drug in order to focus and think in a productive way, and making Eld a veteran Who Has Seen Things.. The youthful nature of the protagonists (Buc is 17 and Eld a couple of years later) puts them between a “Young Sherlock Holmes” and a Traditionally aged Holmes and Watson.
…Emily Miller, author of the cookbook Breakfast and host of “Breakfast Club,” which hosts tours of famous breakfast spots around New York City, is launching a new cereal brand today called OffLimits. There are two flavors: DASH, which is made with Intelligentsia coffee and cacao, and ZOMBIE, a recipe that includes relaxing adaptogens like pandan, vanilla, and ashwagandha. The flavor’s names also represent fictionalized characters created by Miller. They represent moods and emotions like anxiety and depression. She crafted these personas in order to humanize cereal branding, which—despite how sugary or fattening it may be—has often shouted eat this and you will be better and stronger! DASH is also the very first female cereal character ever created in the industry.
(19) TUCKERIZED. Fanac.org has posted Part I of the Bob Tucker Interview that Dick Smith conducted for Chicon 2000.
Dick Smith’s interview of Wilson “Bob” Tucker was done for the 2000 World Science Fiction Convention, Chicon 2000 (with videography by Tom Veal, chair of Chicon 2000!). In this low key conversation, Tucker tells wonderful stories about 60 years of fandom, from Chicon 1 in 1940, to his only stint as convention Artist Guest of Honor, to the origin of the Tucker Hotel, to Claude Degler and more. There’s history. There’s “smoothing”. There are intriguing hints of stories not told. Here’s your chance to sit down with a ghiant of fandom, and listen to Dick Smith draw out his stories of our fannish past.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]
The Clarion 2020 Workshop, which was to have been held from June 21-August 1 at UC San Diego, has been cancelled. They will not attempt to run an online alternative version.
Karen Joy Fowler, Clarion Foundation President, explained the decisions:
… As the Covid-19 situation continued to unfold, we discussed different scenarios and what might best serve our class. While we deeply wish we could have proceeded with our workshop this summer, we have made the difficult decision not to host Clarion this year. This is the first summer Clarion won’t be offered since it started 52 years ago.
Our decision was primarily influenced by two factors: first, our host school, UC San Diego, decided that no in-person classes and workshops can be held on-campus this summer. Due to travel restrictions and continuing uncertainty with the situation in the US, it was not feasible for us to look at other in-person alternatives that would require travel for our international students/instructors, and we did not want to risk anyone’s safety. Secondly, while we considered an online version of the workshop, we strongly felt that much of what makes Clarion special would be lost in the process. Clarion is a residential workshop, and a significant part of its magic is the space and time it allows students to fully dedicate their days to writing–not to mention living with 18 other writers, similarly excited to shape their craft.
Fowler said students that were accepted for the 2020 event will have a place in a future workshop, and she hopes the panel of instructors will be able to come next year.
We are actively discussing ways to continue building our Clarion community this year: by writing, sharing our stories, and otherwise coming together. It’s important for us during these difficult times to support each other and find inspiration and joy in our work.
Following a sell-out auction in 2015 from the collection of NIGO®, Sotheby’s will now host its second sale dedicated to ‘Star Wars’ collectibles, titled ‘Star Wars Online’. Encompassing around 100 lots from the acclaimed franchise, the online-only sale, open from 29 November to 13 December, offers the opportunity to acquire a piece of pop culture history just days ahead of the highly-anticipated release of the final film in the sequel trilogy, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’.
Book presentation is itself a complicated art, using data and knowledge of trends. It’s why I love browsing indie bookstores, when I get to go somewhere with one (ha ha rural life is so dire). You can look at their endcaps and displays and see patterns, and if you’re well read in a genre, you can also see those indie folks making jokes, critiquing, showing books in conversations with each other. This is the part that Unregulated Capitalism can never replicate. What I saw happening in this photo made my soul leak from my body to pool on the floor of B&N, defeated.
Then I thought: I could give this a shot and drag some friends along for the ride. I claim no expertise in building endcaps like the pros in indie bookstore culture. I just wanted to cheer myself up and create a dream endcap that would make me happy to see. So everyone gets a book tag!
December 1, 2012 — Dragon Wasps premiered. Starring Dominika Juillet, Nikolette Noel and Corin Nemec, this Little Dragon Productions currently rates 12% at Rotten Tomatoes and doesn’t appeared to have any published reviews. You can see the trailer here.
December 1, 2017 — Alien Invasion: S.U.M.1 premiered. Directed and written by Christian Pasquariello, it starred Iwan Rheon as S.U.M.1, André Hennicke as MAC and Rainer Werner as V.A.X.7. Filmed in Germany, the English language version rates 18% as its audience score at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see the trailer here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 1, 1886 — Rex Stout. He did several genre or at least genre adjacent novels, to wit How Like A God, The President Vanishes and his lost world tale, Under the Incas. Though I’ve read lots of Stout, I’ve not read these. ISFDB also lists Rue Morgue No. 1 as genre but this appears to be mysteries or possibly straightforward pulp tales that he co-edited with Louis Greenfield. (Died 1975.)
Born December 1, 1905 — Charles G. Finney. It’s rare that I pick writers that have done one work one that has defined them but his one such work is, well, phenomenal in this regard. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, won one of the inaugural National Book Award for the Most Original Book of 1935, is most decidedly fantasy. Bradbury would so like the novel that he included it in The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories which is rather obviously named after it. It is said the Circus in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
Born December 1, 1928 — Malachi Throne. You’ve likely seen him if you watched genre television on the Sixties and Seventies as he had roles on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Star Trek, Next Gen, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, Mission: Impossible, Lost in Space, Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , Batman, and The Six Million Dollar Man. He provided the voice of the Keeper in Trek’s first pilot episode “The Cage”. Throne was cast in another role in “The Menagerie”, Commodore José I. Méndez, so his voice was altered in his “Cage” role. (Died 2013.)
Born December 1, 1936 — Melissa Jaffer, 83. Likely you best remember her as Utu Noranti Pralatong on Farscape though she was also in Mad Max: Fury Road where she played Keeper of the Seeds. And she was Annie in the Good Vibrations series.
Born December 1, 1942 — John Crowley, 77. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his new crow-centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know he wrote novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet?
Born December 1, 1954 — Douglas Niles, 65. He was one of the creators of the Dragonlance world and the author of the first three Forgotten Realms novels. I’ve not played it as I was into Travellers’ Aid Society when I was gaming. So how was it as a game system?
Born December 1, 1964 — Jo Walton, 55. She’s won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other. Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth. Among Others she says is about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too.
Born December 1, 1956 — Bill Willingham, 63. Best known I’d say for his long running Fable series though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR games where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of games I don’t recognize not having been a gamer at that time. I do recognize his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals, and he later wrote the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC.
Born December 1, 1971 — Emily Mortimer, 48. She was the voice of Sophie in the English language version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. She was the voice of Lisette in the superb Hugo animated film, and was Nicole Durant in The Pink Panther.
…This week, humanity embarked on its most ambitious voyage to date. Its destination: Mars.
I use the term “humanity” advisedly, for this effort is a global one. On November 28, 1964, the United States launched Mariner 4 from Cape Kennedy. And just yesterday, the Soviet Union’s Zond hurtled into space. Both are bound for the Red Planet, due to arrive next summer.
He gives a great overview of the Mars portrayed in sf and popular science – all of which is about to go by the boards.
….Such was our understanding of the planet perhaps a decade ago. Recently, ground-based science has made some amazing discoveries, and it may well be that Mariner and Zond don’t so much revolutionize as simply enhance our understanding of the planet.
I just read a paper that says the Martian atmosphere is about a quarter as dense at the surface that thought. This isn’t just bad for breathing — it means NASA scientists have to rethink all the gliders and parachutes they were planning for their Voyager missions scheduled for the next decade. Observations by spectroscope have found no traces of oxygen and scarcely more water vapor. The planet’s thin atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The ice in the polar caps may well be mostly “dry”.
Baby Yoda fights Emperor Palpatine in a brilliant new Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith fan edit. After months of anticipation, The Mandalorian finally hit Disney+ earlier this month, and fans everywhere immediately fell in love with the show’s breakout character, a tiny alien child unofficially christened “Baby Yoda” who made a surprise first appearance in the kickoff episode (a “twist” that was immediately spoiled by Twitter).
Children of Blood and Bone was an instant success last year.
The young adult fantasy novel by then-24-year-old author Tomi Adeyemi has so far spent 89 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. It made countless best books lists, and it was optioned for a movie by Disney. It spoke to people.
“I always pitched it as Black Panther with magic,” Adeyemi says. “It’s this epic young adult fantasy about a girl fighting to bring magic back to her people.”
And now there’s a sequel: Children of Virtue and Vengeance. The heroine, Zélie, has succeeded in her quest to bring magic back to her people, the maji, and the land of Orïsha. But the nobility and the military now have powerful magic, too. And civil war looms.
For Zélie and her ally Amari — a runaway princess who has joined the rebellion, so to speak — the question becomes: Now what? And how will their personal traumas play out?
People in China are now required to have their faces scanned when registering new mobile phone services, as the authorities seek to verify the identities of the country’s hundreds of millions of internet users.
The regulation, announced in September, was due to come into effect on Sunday.
The government says it wants to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”.
China already uses facial recognition technology to survey its population.
It is a world leader in such technologies, but their intensifying use across the country in recent years has sparked debate.
What are the new rules?
When signing up for new mobile or mobile data contracts, people are already required to show their national identification card (as required in many countries) and have their photos taken.
But now, they will also have their faces scanned in order to verify that they are a genuine match for the ID provided.
China has for years been trying to enforce rules to ensure that everyone using the internet does so under their “real-name” identities.
A 65-year-old American man who rigged his home with a booby trap to keep out intruders has been killed by the device.
Ronald Cyr called police in the town of Van Buren in the state of Maine to say he had been shot.
Police found a door had been designed to fire a handgun should anyone attempt to enter. Mr Cyr was taken to hospital but died of his injuries.
It is not uncommon for home-owners to install such traps – but it is illegal.
Police in Van Buren, which borders the Canadian province of New Brunswick, said they responded to a 911 call in the early evening of Thanksgiving, last Thursday, from a man who said he had been shot.
“Following an extensive investigation that lasted into the early morning… it was determined that Mr Cyr had been shot as the result of the unintentional discharge of one of his homemade devices,” the police department said in a Facebook post.
If you suddenly burst into tears during a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade commercial break, your younger family members might’ve been startled. But they probably never dreamed of taking flight on a bike with an alien in the basket.
E.T. — yes, THAT E.T.! — made a surprise appearance in commercial for telecommunications company Xfinity. Only this time, he landed on Earth on purpose, and he’s learning about tablets and playing in the snow.
[Thanks to Rich Horton, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian