(1) REGRESS REPORT. Mari Ness says the 2025 World Fantasy Con is bringing the convention back to a venue it used a decade ago that still has substantial accessibility problems. Thread starts here.
On Bluesky Ness added:
The organization behind 2025 World Fantasy Con, HWS Events, replied on Bluesky:
(2) THE END IS NEAR. Brian Keene says he will end his revived Jobs In Hell newsletter in March 2024.
…One thing I’ve definitely noticed between JIH’s original incarnation back in the late-1990’s and early-2000’s versus now is the speed at which market listings and industry news happen. During the original Jobs In Hell’s run, we were the absolute fastest way for those kind of things to travel. Email was then a brand-new thing for most homes, and email newsletters were the fastest way of disseminating information, because social media did not exist yet.
These days, by the time I get the information to you once a month, you have probably already seen it elsewhere on Facebook or X (formerly known as Twitter) or a dozen other places. Thus, the question becomes — how do I overcome that?
And the answer is, I don’t….
… So, what I have decided is that Jobs In Hell will cease publication next March. Why wait until then? Because many of you paid for a full year’s subscription in advance, and I want to make sure you are served….
(3) PRESENT VALUE IS NO GIFT. “’Doctor Who’ Writer Residuals Shaken Up After Disney+ Boards BBC Show” reports Deadline.
The series, which is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary with a trio of specials from returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, has moved towards a buyout model for writers, Deadline has been told.
Sources said that episodic writers are now being paid a large fee upfront rather than a smaller fee plus residuals that has seen previous scribes earn additional compensation when Doctor Who is repeated.
Doctor Who, which has aired nearly 900 episodes over six decades, has been one of the most lucrative British sources of residuals for former writers down the years as it is so heavily repeated. The entire back catalog has just landed on BBC iPlayer, for example.
While Deadline understands that contracts were freely negotiated and agreed with writers and their agents, the move comes at a topical time for writers’ compensation, particularly given the recent labor action in the U.S. Doctor Who remains a British show and thereby doesn’t have to abide by WGA contracts but the optics are interesting given that the move comes after Disney+ boarded the series last year as a partner outside of the UK and Ireland….
(4) TIME TO TALK ABOUT A TROPE. Alyssa Shotwell tells readers of The Mary Sue “I Will Be Seated for ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes’”.
…Directed by writer/actor Kobi Libii (Doubt, Madam Secretary), the satirical fantasy film looks to turn the storytelling trope of the Magical Negro on its head and into a fantastical adventure. As a refresher, the trope occurs when a fictional work uses its primary Black character to serve the interests of its white character. They have little to no importance to the plot and exist as a tool to help the white characters on their journey. Unfortunately, this is not a trope of a bygone era. In 2019, the Oscars awarded Green Book, a movie that turned an important Black American composer, Don Shirley, into a Magical Negro. Even into the 2020s, the trope has reappeared in popular media like The Queen’s Gambit and The Strand. You can learn more about the trope in former TMS writer Princess Weekes’s video on Magical Negros in Stephen King’s work.
The American Society of Magical Negroes stars Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) as Aren. After a secret society of magical Black people recruits Aren to help join their cause, his life changes forever. What’s their cause? Making white people’s lives easier….
(5) BALLARD’S NONFICTION. This week’s Open Book on BBC Radio 4 had its last third devoted to J. G. Ballard: “Open Book, Alexis Wright”.
Also on the programme, Roland Allen explores the history of writers and their notebooks; and Mark Blacklock and Toby Litt discuss J G Ballard’s non-fiction.
(6) LA WORLDCON BID. Craig Miller told Facebook readers that the LA in 2026 Worldcon bid was active at Loscon last weekend.
…One other thing that kept me occupied was the bid to host a World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in the Los Angeles-area again in 2026. The bid had a table on the convention floor and we held a party on Saturday night in the hotel’s main party suite. Our theme is “intergalactic adventure” taking the form “of come to our Worldcon and be launched into adventure”. We decorated the room with large format posters of alien worlds and had special “intergalactic taste treats”.
The foods were named for various planets, some from fiction some real, and they each had appropriate descriptions. Quite a few people took photos of the food and their descriptions. I, of course, didn’t think to, even though I was noticing people doing so.
For Hoth, we had “Sweet snow caps topped with blue glacier shavings from ice caves”. Actually meringues topped with blue-colored white chocolate.
For KOI-5Ab (an actual exoplanet with three suns) we described this as giving different spectrums for growth resulting in blue, ruby, and brown outer coatings of crimson fruit. The food was really pomegranate seeds in either dark, ruby, or blue-colored white chocolate.
Perhaps my favorite was one we didn’t tie to a planet. We had fresh rambutan (which are sort of like lychee) served with the top half of their skin removed, leaving the round, white fruit exposed in a “hairy” base. I called them “alien eggs served in nest”.
And, yes, I’m that crazy, getting involved with running another Worldcon….
(7) SO WASN’T IT POPULAR ENOUGH? The magazine is gone, but the website remains. “After 151 years, Popular Science will no longer offer a magazine” – The Verge has the story.
After 151 years, Popular Science will no longer be available to purchase as a magazine. In a statement to The Verge, Cathy Hebert, the communications director for PopSci owner Recurrent Ventures, says the outlet needs to “evolve” beyond its magazine product, which published its first all-digital issue in 2021.
PopSci, which covers a whole range of stories related to the fields of science, technology, and nature, published its first issue in 1872. Things have changed a lot over the years, with the magazine switching to a quarterly publication schedule in 2018 and doing away with the physical copies altogether after 2020….
…In addition to dropping its magazine format, PopSci laid off several employees earlier this month, leaving around five editorial staff members and “a few” workers on the publication’s commerce team, according to Axios. The digital media group Recurrent Ventures acquired PopSci in 2021 and named its third CEO in three years just one week before the layoffs hit.
PopSci will continue to offer articles on its website, along with its PopSci Plus subscription, which offers access to exclusive content and the magazine’s archive….
(8) BE FREE. The Guardian’s Alex Clark says take the labels off those bookstore shelves: “The big idea: should we abolish literary genres?”
…Genre is a confining madness; it says nothing about how writers write or readers read, and everything about how publishers, retailers and commentators would like them to. This is not to criticise the many talented personnel in those areas, who valiantly swim against the labels their industry has alighted on to shift units as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Consider the worst offender: not crime, horror, thriller, science fiction, espionage or romance, but “literary fiction”. It can and does contain many of the elements of the others, but is ultimately meaningless except as a confused shorthand: for what is thought clever or ambitious or beyond the comprehension of readers more suited to “mass market” or “commercial” fiction. What would happen if we dispensed with this non-category category altogether? Very little, except that we might meet a book on its own terms.
Is last year’s Booker prize winner, Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, a ghost story because its central character is dead, or a thriller because he has to work out who has murdered him? A historical novel because it is set during the Sri Lankan civil war, or speculative fiction because it contains scenes of the afterlife? And where do we place previous winners such as Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders or A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James?…
… I’m returning now to a new novel, Orbital by Samantha Harvey, one of my favourite contemporary novelists. It is set in space, on board a craft circling the Earth, filled with astronauts from different countries and cultures, undergoing physical, mental and emotional changes. Her last novel, The Western Wind, was set in 1491, and she has also written about Alzheimer’s disease, Socrates, infidelity and insomnia. Categorise that….
(9) GROW MOUNT TBR. Becky Spratford introduces readers to “Largehearted Boy’s Essential and Interesting Best of 2023 Book Lists”.
I am talking about Largehearted Boy’s Best of 2023 Book Lists. For the past 15 years, David Gutowski has spent his end of each year trying to give you access to every single best books list in America. This year, for his 16th go-round, he has streamlined the process a bit. From this year’s page:
“For the past fifteen years, I have aggregated every online year-end book list I have discovered into one post.
“This year, I will collect essential and interesting year-end book lists in this post and update it daily.
“Please feel free to e-mail me with a magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 27, 1907 — L. Sprague de Camp. (Died 2000.) So what’s not to like about L. Sprague de Camp?
Let’s start with his excellent The Incorporated Knight series comprises some 1970s short stories by de Camp and two novels written in collaboration with his wife Catherine Crook de Camp, The Incorporated Knight and The Pixilated Peeress. The early short stories were reworked into first novel.
Next let me praise his Harold Shea and Gavagan’s Bar stories, both written with his friend Fletcher Pratt. There are five stories by them, another ten stories are written forty years later but not by them and I’m not at all fond of those. The original stories were first collected in The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea. Treasure them.
They say Gavagan’s Bar were patterned after Lord Dunsany’s Jorkens stories and that certainly makes sense. These are quite extraordinary tales. It appears the last printed edition is Tales from Gavagan’s Bar in 1980 on Bantam Books. Orion did a UK epub just several years ago but not for the U.S.
They did a lot of Really Good Stuff, say The Incomplete Enchanter and The Land of Unreason. An amazing writing partnership it was.
So what’s good by him alone. Surprisingly his Conan tales are damn good. Now stop throwing things at me, I’m serious. Some are stellar like “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” and “The Bloodstained God”. (Yes I’ve a weakness for this fiction.) The three Conan novels co-written with Lin Carter (Conan the Barbarian was also written with Catherine Crook de Camp) are remarkably resistant to the Suck Fairy.
Shall I note how excellent his Viagens Interplanetarias series is? Well I will. Adventurous and lighthearted SF with great characters and fun stories, novels (much of which was written with his wife) and stories alike are great reads. I read a few stories a while back and even the Suck Fairy still liked them. All of his fiction holds up remarkably well despite being written upwards of six decades ago.
Well, that’s my personal reading history with him. What’s yours?
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- The Far Side: Lise Andreasen says, “Something similar actually happened to me, when I and my family visited Odense (birth place of H.C. Andersen) and hit another car.”
(12) THE TEARS ARE BIGGER ON THE OUTSIDE. In the Guardian: “’I blubbed inconsolably for 20 minutes’ – your favourite ever Doctor Who moments”.
‘A giant maggot creeping towards Jo Grant’
I remember the sheer terror as I watched a giant maggot slowly creeping towards Jo Grant at the end of an episode of The Green Death in the Pertwee era. There are always mentions of “hiding behind the sofa”, but I literally did. I was so terrified that my mum, another Who fan, tried to explain that the maggot would probably turn out to just want to have a talk with Jo. I have no idea why this made any sense to me, but it did help calm me down. My second favourite moment was when Christopher Eccleston regenerated into David Tennant. The first series of the new Who was a shared experience with my eldest daughter and turned her into a lifelong fan. At the end of this episode, she fled the room in tears crying out “but I don’t want him to go!” We still watch together, but reply via chat. Doctor Who brings three generations of my family together and keeps them connected over a silly show about a blue box. Andrew Stephens, Swindon
(13) DRESSING FESTIVELY. The New York Times looks to a Hallmark Christmas movie costume designer to understand “Clothes that Conjure the Holiday Spirit”.
… How do locations like Biltmore House influence your process?
I walked through the mansion to get ideas from the space. I remember looking at the colors of the wood paneling and of the limestone. Window shades are kept at a certain level and rooms are kept dimly lit to protect the things inside from light. It’s very romantic and cozy, and I wanted wardrobes that communicated warmth and coziness using colors besides red and green.
To create a gown and a kilt worn by the stars of “A Merry Scottish Christmas,” I pulled together a bunch of tartans that went with the tapestries, candles and dark wood at the castle. We settled on MacDonald of Glencoe, a tartan with holiday-like jewel tones. The pattern was digitally printed on the fabric used to make the gown, and the kilt was made with a traditional wool tartan.
What are some challenges with costuming holiday films?
It’s the little things. All clothing sizes have changed: Vintage shoes are narrower than shoes are today, jackets fit differently, and girdles are gone. It’s hard to find people to do embroidery and beading.
But I like classic and timeless looks because Christmas movies are watched over and over.
(14) WHEN NO ONE IS AT THE WHEEL. Two companies operated hundreds of driverless cars in San Francisco at the peak: “‘Lost Time for No Reason’: How Driverless Taxis Are Stressing Cities” reports the New York Times.
…After five years, there are still no systematic state safety and incident reporting standards for driverless cars in California, Ms. Friedlander said. “This is such a dramatic kind of change in transportation that it’s going to take many years for the regulatory structure to really be finalized,” she said.
Last year, the number of 911 calls from San Francisco residents about robotaxis began rising, city officials said. In one three-month period, 28 incidents were reported, according to a letter that city officials sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
By June, autonomous car incidents in San Francisco had risen to such a “concerning level” that the city’s Fire Department created a separate autonomous vehicle incident form, said Darius Luttropp, a deputy chief of the department. As of Oct. 15, 87 incidents had been recorded with the form.
“We move forward with expectations that this wonder technology will operate like a human driver,” Mr. Luttropp said. “That did not turn out to be the case.”
Mr. Wood, the firefighter, attended a weeklong training session held by Waymo in June at the Fire Department’s training center to learn more about the self-driving vehicles. But he said he was disappointed.
“None of us walked away from the training with any way to get a stalled car to move,” he said, adding that manually taking over the car takes 10 minutes, which is too long in an emergency.
His main takeaway was that he should bang on the car’s window or tap on its door so he could talk to the vehicle’s remote operator, he said. The operator would then try to remotely re-engage the vehicle or send someone to manually override it, he said.
Waymo said it had rolled out a software update to its cars in October that would let firefighters and other authorities take control of the vehicles within seconds….
(15) RAW FOOTAGE. “Disneyland Park Guest Arrested After Stripping Off Clothes On ‘It’s A Small World’ Ride” – Deadline tells what happened.
A Disneyland park guest in Anaheim, California was arrested and escorted off the property by local authorities after stripping off their clothes during the It’s A Small World attraction.
The incident happened on Sunday afternoon during the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. A Disneyland Resort representative told Deadline that the guest got off the ride while it was in motion and the attraction was stopped when park operators were made aware of the situation.
… “It’s a Small World” was shut down for about an hour as park operators inspected the attraction. No guests were harmed physically during the incident and the ride resumed operations at about 3 p.m. local time….
Here’s one of the videos taken of the incident: “This Family Survived the #Disneyland Its a small world #streaker#”.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]