Pixel Scroll 8/12/22 The Hamster, My Friend, Is Scrolling In The Solar Wind

(1) RUSHDIE HOSPITALIZED AFTER ATTACK. Salman Ruhdie was attacked and stabbed at least twice while speaking onstage this morning in upstate New York. He was airlifted to a hospital and taken to surgery. The CNN story says:

The suspect jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took the attacked into custody, police said.

… Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, who was scheduled to join Rushdie in discussion, was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury and released, state police said. The organization was founded to “provide sanctuary in Pittsburgh to writers exiled under threat of persecution,” according to the Chautauqua Institution’s website.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Friday a state trooper “stood up and saved (Rushdie’s) life and protected him as well as the moderator who was attacked as well.

The story did not have an update about Rushdie’s condition.

There is now an update from Publishing Perspectives:

Salman Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, has told The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris, “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Wylie’s information, emailed to Harris, is the first description of the condition of the author following surgery….

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports “Stabbing sends ripples of ‘shock and horror’ through the literary world.”

Literary figures and public officials said that they were shocked by the news that the author Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

“We cannot immediately think of any comparable incident of a public violent attack on a writer during a literary event here in the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit literary organization PEN America, who noted that the motivations for the attack and Mr. Rushdie’s current condition were unknown as of Friday late morning.

Mr. Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, which advocates for writers’ freedom of expression around the world.

She said in a statement that the organization’s members were “reeling from shock and horror.”

Here is Neil Gaiman’s response on Twitter.

(2) PINCH-HITTER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum, who was invited to cover for the Guardian‘s regular SFF columnist, Lisa Tuttle. You can see her reviews here at the Guardian.

…I was a bit nervous about the experience—five books is a big commitment of time and energy, and readers of this blog know that I’m not accustomed to summing up my thoughts on anything in 200 words or less. But I ended up having a lot of fun, mainly because the books discussed were a varied bunch, several of which weren’t even on my radar before the column’s editor, Justine Jordan, suggested them.

The column discusses The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, a twist on the vampire story that has more than a little of The Handmaid’s Tale in its DNA. The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay, a horror author whom I’ve been hearing good things about for years, so it was great to have an opportunity to sample his stuff. Extinction by Bradley Somer, part of the rising tide of climate fiction we’ve been seeing in recent years, but with a very interesting and original approach. The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings, a story about witches that combines a magical realist tone with pressing social issues. And The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta, a whirlwind tour of the solar system reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 but with a slant all its own. I’ll have more to say about that last book in the near future, but all five are worth a look….

(3) OVERDRAWN AT THE BLUE CHECKMARK. From one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais:

(4) 2022 WORLDCON ADDS MONKEYPOX POLICY. In addition to its COVID-19 Policy, Chicon 8 now has issued a Monkeypox Policy. More details at the link.

On Aug. 1, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared Monkeypox a public health emergency in the state of Illinois, in order to rapidly mobilize all available public health resources to prevent and treat Monkeypox and ensure smooth coordination at all levels of government….

(5) CATHEDRALS OF BOOKS. With the help of DALL-E, Joe Stech is designing “Future Libraries”. He shares many examples in his latest Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter.

Many years ago I spent some time learning to paint and sketch, and got halfway decent (to the point where I could at least convey a little bit of what was in my head, albeit clumsily). The amount of time it took me to draw something halfway decent was fairly incredible, and after I stopped drawing regularly my meager skillset deteriorated. I still remember how it felt to finish a sketch though, and generative art models like DALL-E 2 have helped me recapture that joy with a much smaller time investment….

(6) DOINK-DOINK. Meanwhile, back on the courthouse steps in New York: “Frank Miller Sues Widow of Comics Magazine Editor for the Return of Artworks”.

The comic writer and artist Frank Miller is suing the widow and the estate of a comics magazine founder over two pieces of promotional art he created that she was trying to sell at auction. The art, which appeared on covers of David Anthony Kraft’s magazine Comics Interview in the 1980s, includes an early depiction of Batman and a female Robin — from the 1986 The Dark Knight Returns series — and is potentially a valuable collectible.

The lawsuit seeks the return of the Batman piece, which was used on the cover of Comics Interview No. 31 in 1986, as well as art depicting the title character of Miller’s 1983 Ronin series. He had sent both to Kraft for his use in the publication; the Ronin artwork was used as the cover of Comics Interview No. 2 in 1983. Miller contended in the court papers that he and Kraft agreed they were on loan, citing “custom and usage in the trade at the time,” and that he made repeated requests for their return….

(7) SEEKING FANHISTORIC PHOTOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This year’s DeepSouthCon is working on a project to create a photo gallery of past winners of the Rebel and Phoenix Awards.

We are looking for contributions from anyone who may have such photos. Digital files are preferred, obviously. We’d rather not be responsible for receiving your one-of-a-kind print photo and getting it back to you in one piece. The mail and other delivery services are more than capable of ripping any given package to shreds.

The gold standard would be a photo of the person holding the award at time of presentation or shortly after. We’re also happy to take more contemporary photos taken months, days, years, or decades later. If no such photo is available, we’re also happy to take photos of the winners themselves, just the award, or one of each.

Mike Kennedy, Co-chair, DeepSouthCon 60

(8) ON THE SCALES. Cora Buhlert has a rundown on the creators and works on the latest Dragon Awards ballot: “The 2022 Dragon Award Finalists Look Really Good… With One Odd Exception”.

…Anyway, the finalists for the 2022 Dragon Awards were announced today and the ballot looks really good with only a single WTF? finalist (more on that later) and a lot of popular and well regarded works on the ballot. This confirms a trend that we’ve seen in the past three years, namely that the Dragon Awards are steadily moving towards the award for widely popular SFF works that they were initially conceived to be, as the voter base broadens and more people become aware of the award, nominate and vote for their favourites. It’s a far cry from the early years of the Dragon Awards, where the finalists were dominated by Sad and Rabid Puppies, avid self-promoters and Kindle Unlimited content mills with a few broadly popular books mixed in….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.]ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD WHOSE FACE WAS LIKE THE NEW MOON SHINING on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds. She was a strange child, full of secrets. She would sit alone in the great Palace Garden on winter nights, pressing her hands into the snow and watching it melt under her heat. She wore a crown of garlic greens and wisteria; she drank from the silver fountains studded with lapis; she ate cold pears under a canopy of pines on rainy afternoons.” — First words of The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden

There are works that I fall in love from the first words. Catherine Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden is one of those works. Well actually it was from the cover art by Michael Kaluta that I fell in love. 

I don’t remember if it came out before or after I had coffee with her in a coffeehouse in the east coast Portland where we both live. (I was married and living on the mainland. She was single and living on Peaks Island. I’m now single and still living on the mainland; she’s married and on Peaks as far I know with her first child. It was an interesting conversation.)

I do remember that she got an iMac that I was no longer using as a result of that meeting, one of the aquarium style ones. Blue I think. I’m sure you’ve read fiction that was written on it.

Now back to the books. It stunned me of the non-linear nature of them which was quire thrilling. Living  in a palace garden, a young girl keeps telling stories to a inquisitive prince: impossible feats and unknown-to-him histories of peoples long gone which weave through each other again and again and again, meeting only in the telling of her stories. Inked on her tattooed eyelids, each of these tales is a intriguing piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own lost history.

I can’t call either a novel in the traditional sense as they really aren’t. They’re something much more complex. What they are is Valente’s take off the 1001 nights but keep in mind that the 1001 nights stories weren’t connected to each other and these are, and so it is a spectacular undertaking of that concept, weaving stories within stories within stories myriad times over. It takes careful paying attention to catch all the connections. 

So what we have here is quite delightful and they are matched up very up by well by the artwork by Michael Kaluta. The cover art for both is by him so that gives you an ample idea of what he does on the inside though those are all black and white. There are hundreds of drawings within, each appropriate to the story you are reading. One of my favorite illustrations is in the prelude of a gaggle of geese. Simple but very cute.

They both won the Mythopoetic Award and the first an Otherwise Award.

I’ve spent many a Winter night reading these. They are wonderful and I really wish they’d been made into an audiobook as they’d be perfect that way. And they really, really do deserve for some specialty press like Subterranean to publish a hardcover edition of them, though I expect getting the rights to the illustrations from Random House could be difficult to say the least. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1881 Cecil B. DeMille. Yes, you think of him for such films as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments, but he actually did some important work in our genre. When Worlds Collide and War of The Worlds were films which he executive produced. (Died 1959.)
  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  They’re one hundred and fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which won a Hugo at Nolacon II and which he adapted for the film. He also wrote Magic, a deliciously chilling horror novel. He wrote the original Stepford Wives script as well as Steven King’s King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon” as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Doctor Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film which you can currently find on BritBox which definitely makes sense. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. The Universe often sucks.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 62. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. She co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the Waterfall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born August 12, 1966 Brian Evenson, 56. Ok, I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award as well. He received an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem. Which definitely puts him on the horror side of things, doesn’t it?
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 30. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s rather excellent Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, and in the (oh god why did they make this) Valerian and in the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was also in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime which sounds like it has the potential to be interesting.

(11) LEARN FROM AN EXPERT. Here is Cat Rambo’s advice about using social media. Thread starts here.

At the end of the list:

(12) THEY DID THE MONSTER CA$H. NPR is there when “General Mills brings back Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Frute Brute”.

General Mills is releasing four limited-edition Monster Cereals boxes as part of a new collaboration with pop artist KAWS.

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frute Brute are back for this year’s seasonal release. Fans are particularly excited about the appearance of Frute Brute, which is available for the first time since 2013.

…Franken Berry and Count Chocula now bear the bone-shaped ears seen in many of KAWS’ works. They also have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes, as do Boo Berry and Frute Brute. The boxes have been reimagined following the same design as the original boxes, with an illustration of each character and a photo of the cereal in a bowl, all set on a blank white background….

(13) BIGGER THAN SATURN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  In today’s Science: “Starship will be the biggest rocket ever. Are space scientists ready to take advantage of it?”

Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scien-tist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre…   wants to send another rocket to probe lunar ice—but not on a one-way trip. She has her eye on Starship, a behemoth under development by private rocket company SpaceX that would be the largest flying object the world has ever seen. With Starship, Heldmann could send 100 tons to the Moon, more than twice the lunar payload of the Saturn V, the work-horse of the Apollo missions.

(14) FAN-MADE FF TRAILER. “Fantastic Four: Krasinski, Blunt and Efron stun in jaw-dropping trailer” declares Fansided.

…This awesome fan-made concept trailer from Stryder HD imagines what a Fantastic Four movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be about, showcasing how Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm all become their heroic alter-egos….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Book of Boba Fett Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says in The Book of Boba Fett that Boba Fett is the worst crime boss in the galaxy.  But the writer explains he got bored and wrote a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian instead.  The producer gets excited when he hears Baby Yoda is in it, because Baby Yoda is “my little green money baby.”  But then we go back to Baba Fett and how he fights someone who fans of The Clone Wars will recognize while everyone else will be confused.  So the producer concludes, “at least we have some content.”

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/22 Pixel Scroller, Qu’est-Ce Que C’est?

(1) UGANDA BID FOR 2028 WORLDCON. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune reports “Uganda To Bid For Worldcon 2028”.

…If successful, it will be the first time in the convention has ever been to the continent of Africa. The bid chair is Kabunga Micheal, an author, industrial artist and science-fiction fan. Other members of the bid committee includes the film director Anita Nannozi Sseruwagi.

The aim of the bid is to empower local artists and increase international awareness of Uganda’s contribution to world science fiction. The bid has not announced an exact location as yet, as it is very early days. Kampala has a plethora of possible sites….

The bid website is here: Kampcon 2028.

(2) DRAGON AWARDS 2022 BALLOT. The 2022 Dragon Awards Ballot was posted today. The public is invited to vote on the winners. You may register to receive a ballot until 11:59 (EDT) on the Friday of Dragon Con (September 2). Here’s the link — Dragon Con 2022 – Fan Awards Signup Form.

(3) DOWNTIME. Daily Science Fiction! told followers today they are going on hiatus. However, the site is scheduled to present stories into December.

Hi. Many of you have noted that we’ve been closed for story submissions for a bit. Many more of you (our most loyal supporters–Thank you!) noticed that today we just canceled automatic renewals for the DSF membership. This is because we have decided that, as we pass our 12th anniversary, we will go on a hiatus, either temporary or somewhat longer. The good news is that we have stories accepted and scheduled to present to you through the middle of December.

Thank you for reading and for your support through more than a dozen years of fun and stories.

(4) AWARD JUDGES. The Aurealis Awards 2022 Judging Panels have been announced – see the names at the link.

We are very pleased to welcome our 2022 Aurealis Awards judging panels. We had a massive response to our call out this year, and are delighted to welcome both returning and new panelists to the team. All our judges are volunteers and we are extremely grateful for their hard work and professionalism throughout the process. The Awards would not exist without them!

(5) THE WAY HOME WAS THROUGH THE COURTHOUSE. “Peter Beagle, Author of ‘The Last Unicorn,’ Is Back In Control” says the New York Times in a profile.

…After a lifetime writing whimsical stories and struggling to cover his bills, Beagle lost control of his intellectual property to his manager, Connor Freff Cochran, who also controlled his finances, and later claimed to friends and family that Beagle had dementia.

Now, after a lengthy court battle in which he accused Cochran of financial elder abuse, Beagle has the rights to his work back, and is making the most of it: A new edition of “The Last Unicorn” came out in July, a sequel called “The Way Home” is scheduled for publication next year, and he has another novel out on submission to his publisher.

“A line I wrote in ‘The Last Unicorn’ when I was in my early twenties,” Beagle said, turned out to be as prescient, for better and worse, as anything he’s written since. “‘Mortals, as you may have noticed, take what they can get.’”

Beagle, 83, has a mischievous sense of humor, and when he speaks, it sounds like he’s reading a play on a 1940s radio program, his full, rumbling voice spooling his stories and delivering the punchline just so.

“I know I’m a good story teller,” he said, “which makes my life sound more interesting than it actually is.”…

(6) RESISTANCE THROUGH CROWDFUNDING. “Residents raise almost $100,000 for Michigan library defunded over LGBTQ books” according to NBC News.

Residents of a small town in western Michigan helped raise almost $100,000 for their local library after it was defunded over the inclusion of LGBTQ books.   

Primary voters in Jamestown Township, a community 20 miles east of Lake Michigan, rejected a proposal last week to renew tax funds to support the Patmos Library in nearby Hudsonville that serves Jamestown and the surrounding area. The rejection, which passed with nearly two-thirds voter approval, eliminates 84% of the public library’s annual budget, or $245,000….

Two days after the vote, Jesse Dillman, a Jamestown resident and father of two, launched an online fundraiser to help raise the $245,000 to keep the library open. 

“I am very passionate about this, and I have people that are behind me to do this,” he said in an interview. “I think I have to do it now, because the iron is hot. If this is going to happen, it’s going to happen now.” 

As of Thursday morning, approximately 1,800 people had contributed more than $90,000. While many of those donors are local, people from as far away as Australia have contributed, Dillman said.

(7) DOES THE ORVILLE HAVE A FUTURE? “Seth MacFarlane has ‘no idea’ if The Orville will return” reports Winter Is Coming.

Last week marked the season 3 finale of The Orville, and what a run it has been. After two seasons on FX, the show made the jump to Hulu for its third season, where it flourished. Subtitled The Orville: New Horizons, season 3 of the comedic science fiction drama was not only better than its previous seasons by leagues, but also one of the most polished shows on TV.

But as of this writing, the fate of The Orville is still up in the air. Creator, executive producer, and star Seth MacFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer) spoke at length with Syfy Wire and gave a bit more insight into the state of the show and his approach to crafting its third season finale, which was intentionally designed to be satisfying for fans in case The Orville wasn’t renewed for season 4. The title — “Future Unknown” — is a nod to this. “You do want to continue to expand the world and, in a perfect scenario, tease what’s to come. But we just don’t know what’s to come. We just haven’t gotten a firm answer,” MacFarlane said.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, I’m a big fan of Bradbury with my favorite works being The Illustrated Man and Something This Way Wicked Comes (now that’s horror done properly), but I really do like much of his short fiction as well. (Yes, I know The Illustrated Man is really short stories.) And that is how we come to Ray Bradbury Theatre’s  “A Sound of Thunder” which aired for the first time thirty-three years ago on this evening.

It was adapted, of course, from “A Sound of Thunder” which was first published in Collier’s in the June 28, 1952, issue and published again in The Golden Apples of the Sun collection by Doubleday a year later. The Golden Apples of the Sun collection is available from the usual suspects. Interestingly Hard Case has Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury which they released just two years ago. Ymmmm!

SPOILER ALERT (JUST IN CASE SOMEONE HAS READ OR SEEN IT) 

Two time travelers paid a hefty fee to Time Safari Inc. to go hunting dinosaurs who would’ve died in a few minutes. This means they don’t alter history at all. But they make a horrible, time stream altering mistake that they were told never, ever to make: don’t get off the marked path. One does and kills a a butterfly and changes the stream forever.  

Is Bradbury the origin of the oft told meteorological story about a butterfly flapping it’s wings in China altering weather conditions around the world?  

END SPOILER ALERT (WHO OF YOU COULD NOT HAVE SEEN IT?)

Unlike the latter film with Ben Kingsley which of course was padded out and critics like Roger Ebert saying that it was really bad and yes it gets a eighteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, I thought it did a more than just credible job of presenting Bradbury’s story. Given the low budget nature of the series, it carried off the SFX rather well. But then I thought the entire series was quite excellent.

The major streaming services carrying it are Amazon and Peacock. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at BayCon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1944 Ian McDiarmid, 78. Star Wars film franchise including an uncredited appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, other genre appearances in DragonslayerThe Awakening (a mummies horror film with Charlton Heston), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series and reprising his SW role in the animated Star Wars Rebels series.
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take on the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is his only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 60. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 58. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher. Co-founder of Images Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-MenPunisherBatmanSuperman and WildC.A.T.s.
  • Born August 11, 1965 Viola Davis, 57. Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller in the first Suicide Squad film, and back again in The Suicide Squad; also appeared in The Andromeda Strain miniseries (2008), Threshold and Century City series, and the Solaris film.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 46. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows where prelates go when they’re not looking at the Sistine Ceiling.

(11) SUPERHERO CREATOR. The BBC’s Outlook program reports on an artist who is “Creating a Puerto Rican superhero to save the world” at BBC Sounds.

Puerto Rican Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez grew up in the Bronx, New York. By the time he was 18 years old he’d lived in 22 different places, but one constant in his life was his love of comic books. Edgardo was a natural artist and storyteller and even at primary school he would write stories for the other children. He is now a highly successful graphic novelist and has created a series based on a female Puerto Rican superhero called La Borinqueña. Her mission? To fight for social justice and save the world from climate change. 

(12) CENSORING AN ANTI-CENSORSHIP ICON. In the summer “Banned Books” issue of Reason​, “’Fahrenheit 451′ Was Once Sanitized for Public Schools” discusses the school edition of Fahrenheit 451.

…Starting in 1967, publisher Ballantine Books produced a second version of the text for consumption by high schoolers, omitting supposedly offensive curse words and a reference to a drunk. This version became known as the “Bal-Hi” edition, for Ballantine High School, and for several years it was available concurrently with the original text. In 1973, Ballantine began publishing only the Bal-Hi version, and it continued doing so until Bradbury, who had not consented to the publication change, complained in 1979….

(13) ESCAPE THE PODIUM. Ted Gioia shares “My 10 Rules for Public Speaking” and most of them make a lot of sense. This one is not quite as intuitive to me as the others, so I’m repeating it here to help keep it in mind:

(4) Remember That the Audience Always Wants You to Succeed:

I’ve never met anyone who went to an event hoping to be bored and disappointed. The audience really, really wants you to succeed, and if you give them even the slightest chance at having a good time, they will cheer you on. 

Just understanding this takes away much of the fear of public speaking. Even better, this desire for success is contagious—and in both directions: When you radiate enjoyment, the audience feels it too. When the audience is having a good time, you do as well.

That’s a virtuous circle, and you want you get into it as soon as possible. You should try to find a way of signalling within your first minute in front of an audience that everyone will have a good time today. Often you will even see the relief on the faces of people in the crowd in that moment when they realize that your talk won’t be a kind of punishment or chastisement. They will be grateful—and you will be too.

(14) S. KOREAN MOON PROBE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Reported in this week’s Nature journal, by this time next week, South Korea’s first lunar probe will be on its way to the Moon. The probe, Danuri, which means ‘enjoy the Moon’, should arrive at its destination by mid-December and orbit for a year…  Scientists in South Korea say the mission will pave the way for the country’s more ambitious plans to land on the Moon by 2030. Success for Danuri will secure future planetary exploration. “South Korea set for first Moon mission”.

(15) TIME TO CONSIDER HUMAN EXTINCTION. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has posted “Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios”.

Scientists are usually rather measured in their proclamations even if they do think outside of the box. However, when it comes to climate change, the scientific community has not considered the ultra-extreme situation, a possible extinction level threat.

Now, https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.2108146119  research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) calls for the need to explore catastrophic climate scenarios. The proposed agenda covers four main questions: 1) What is the potential for climate change to drive mass extinction events? 2) What are the mechanisms that could result in human mass mortality and morbidity? 3)What are human societies’ vulnerabilities to climate-triggered risk cascades, such as from conflict, political instability, and systemic financial risk? 4) How can these multiple strands of evidence—together with other global dangers—be usefully synthesized into an“integrated catastrophe assessment”? It is time for the scientific community to grapple with the challenge of better understanding catastrophic climate change…

(16) MORE MORTAL. Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Andrew Porter.] “Goldilocks (Sci-Fi Short Film by Blake Simon)” on YouTube.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Bill, Andrew (not Werdna), SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 John A Arkansawyer.]

2022 Dragon Awards Ballot

The 2022 Dragon Awards Ballot was published on August 11. Registered voters should expect to receive notice by email.

To be eligible for the 2022 Dragon Awards the book, comic, game, movie, must have been released between July 1, 2021, and the close of the eligibility period, June 30, 2022, which accounts for the mix of nominees from last year and this year.

Most categories have six nominees, but Best Science Fiction Novel and Best Media Tie-In have only five, and Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series has seven.

Recipients of the award will be announced on Sunday, September 4, 2022 at Dragon Con.

1. Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey
  • The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
  • Goliath: A Novel by Tochi Onyebuchi
  • You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo
  • Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham
  • Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James
  • Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
  • Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
  • Book of Night by Holly Black
  • Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • Gallant by V.E. Schwab
  • Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor
  • A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell
  • A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
  • Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko
  • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • The Shattered Skies by John Birmingham
  • A Call to Insurrection by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Thomas Pope
  • Citadel by Marko Kloos
  • Backyard Starship by J.N. Chaney, Terry Maggert
  • Against All Odds by Jeffery H. Haskell
  • Resolute by Jack Campbell

5. Best Alternate History Novel

  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
  • Invisible Sun by Charles Stross
  • The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley by Mercedes Lackey
  • When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
  • The King’s Daughter by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • 1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Kerryn Offord, Rick Boatright

6. Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • Star Wars: The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray
  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil by Timothy Zahn
  • Star Trek: Coda: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack
  • Star Trek: Picard: Rogue Elements by John Jackson Miller
  • Halo: Divine Wind by Troy Denning

7. Best Horror Novel

  • The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
  • The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
  • The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
  • My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Hide by Kiersten White
  • Revelatory by Daryl Gregory

8. Best Comic Book

  • Devil’s Reign by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto
  • King Conan by Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar
  • Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen, Mark Brooks
  • Step by Bloody Step by Simon Spurrier, Matías Bergara
  • Twig by Skottie Young, Kyle Strahm
  • Nightwing by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo

9. Best Graphic Novel

  • Geiger by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank
  • Bitter Root Volume 3 by David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, Sanford Greene, Sofie Dodgson
  • Dune: House Atreides Volume 2 by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Dev Pramanik
  • Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez
  • Monstress, Volume 6: The Vow by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • Stranger Things, Netflix
  • The Expanse, Amazon
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Paramount+
  • Wheel of Time, Amazon
  • For All Mankind, Apple TV+
  • Halo, Paramount+
  • The Boys, Amazon

11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Dune by Denis Villeneuve
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home by Jon Watts
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness by Sam Raimi
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife by Jason Reitman
  • The Adam Project by Shawn Levy
  • Free Guy by Shawn Levy

12. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Elden Ring, Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Metroid Dread, Nintendo
  • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, Bungie
  • Age of Empires IV, Xbox Game Studios
  • Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, Frontier Foundry
  • Lost Ark, Amazon Games

13. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Diablo Immortal, Blizzard
  • Pokémon UNITE, The Pokémon Company
  • Baba Is You, Hempuli
  • Townscaper, Oskar Stålberg
  • Alien: Isolation, Sega
  • World of Demons, PlatinumGames

14. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Ark Nova, Capstone Games
  • Cascadia, Alderac Entertainment Group
  • Return to Dark Tower, Restoration Games
  • 7 Wonders Architects, Asmodee
  • Alien: Fate of the Nostromo, Ravensburger
  • Star Wars Outer Rim: Unfinished Business, Fantasy Flight Games

15. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • The One Ring, Second Edition, Free League Publishing
  • Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Evil Hat Productions
  • Root: The RPG, Magpie Games
  • Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Wizards of the Coast
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Revised Core Set, Fantasy Flight Games
  • Magic: The Gathering, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Wizards of the Coast

What Are You Nominating for the Dragon Awards?

Dragon Awards trophies from 2016. Photo by Fran Wilde.

Will voters become complacent after last year’s progress toward prying Puppy paws loose from the Dragon Awards?

In 2021 the seven novel categories on the ballot were loaded with books fans read and talked about. Wouldn’t it be great to keep it that way?

The nomination deadline is fast approaching — July 19, 2022. Make your nominations here (one per category.)

ELIGIBILITY. Nominees should be first released between 7/1/2021 and 6/30/2022. The eligibility period means, among other things, that you can’t just plug in Hugo finalists, because four of the six came out before July 1: A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine, Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir, A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark were Dragon Awards finalists last year, while The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers was also published during the 2021 eligibility period.

Only two of the 2022 Hugo finalists were published in the current eligibility period, Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki and She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan.

LAST YEAR’S BALLOT. As a reminder, here’s what made the Dragon Award ballot in 2021, with the winners in bold.

1. BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow
  • Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
  • The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Machine by Elizabeth Bear
  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

2. BEST FANTASY NOVEL (INCLUDING PARANORMAL)

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross
  • Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

3. BEST YOUNG ADULT / MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
  • The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
  • The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips
  • A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

4. BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY NOVEL

  • Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown
  • Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams
  • Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee
  • Direct Fire by Rick Partlow
  • Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos

5. BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY NOVEL

  • The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling
  • Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
  • The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
  • 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon

    6. BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL
  • MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff
  • Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon
  • Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux
  • Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
  • Penitent by Dan Abnett
  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn

    7. BEST HORROR NOVEL
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
  • True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Petty
  • The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
  • Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings
  • The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall
  • Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Nominations Open for 2022 Dragon Awards

The Dragon Awards website has reset and is now taking nominations for the 2022 awards.

I tested the site and was informed my nomination had been accepted —

The update was done within the past six weeks, not as soon after Dragon Con as in 2021 when it was ready by November 1.

Eligible works are those first released between 7/1/2021 and 6/30/2022.

The deadline to make nominations is July 19, 2022. The initial batch of final ballots will be released in early August 2022.

Dragon Con says they will attempt to notify all nominees by August 2, 2021.

2021 Dragon Award trophies. Photo by Sean CW Korsgaard.

Goodreads Ratings of the 2021 Dragon Award Ballot

2021 Dragon Award trophies. Photo by Sean CW Korsgaard.

The Dragon Awards winners were presented for the sixth time in September 2021. With the award still in its early years, people are continuing to refine their ideas about what it means to win one.

Three main things are known about the award.

First, there is open popular online voting – no convention membership required. A voter must register their name and “primary email address” to participate. Each voter is limited to one nomination per award category, and can vote for only one work per category in the final round. However, the process is not transparent, neither nominating nor final voting statistics have ever been released (apart from the total votes cast).

Second, the Dragon Award instructions encourage writers to campaign (i.e., “it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage your fans to vote for you”).

Third, the winners get a spectacularly beautiful trophy.

BUT DOES VOTING COUNT? The Dragon Awards are publicized foremost as a people’s choice award. Ironically, given the early watch for signs of vote manipulation through logrolling (you vote for me, I vote for you) or duplicate voting by people controlling multiple email addresses, there are also skeptics who have studied the Dragon Awards rules and questioned whether voting genuinely determines who receives the awards.

Camestros Felapton is among the skeptics: “There is a mismatch between the marketing of the award as a popular vote and the actual rules which give the organisers the capacity to determine the winner how they wish.”

The rules formerly were linked from the voter registration page but are no longer visible anywhere on the Dragon Awards site. An online archive copy from 2016 showed they were obligated to make up the final ballot from “the most popular entries” but that the “selection of winners shall be made by Dragon Con in its sole discretion” —

ONLINE VOTING: One (1) vote in each category is allowed per person. The most popular Entries, as determined by number of nomination submissions during the Nomination Period, will be featured on the Website between 9:00 A.M. ET on August 2, 2016 and 11:59 P.M. ET on September 1, 2016 (hereinafter, “Voting Period”). Voting shall occur in a manner as determined by DRAGON CON.

… SELECTION OF WINNERS: All decisions regarding the voting process and selection of winners shall be made by DRAGON CON in its sole discretion, shall be final, and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal…

In contrast, a statement by the administrators in 2017 that they were looking into changes asked for by authors (a controversy discussed below) affirmed that any changes made would not alter the character of the award: “It will still be the ‘fan’s choice’ award, with fans nominating the works and fans voting on the winners. …Fans still have the final say.”

This article, in making its assessment of what it means to be voted a Dragon Award, assumes that fans do indeed have the final say for the simple reason that analyzing the character of the Dragon Awards is only interesting if we believe the nominees and winners are produced by a large group dynamic, and not a small-group process like juried awards – does anybody want more articles like those explaining the literary leanings of Clarke Award jurors? — or the arbitrary choices of corporate management.

DRUMMING UP SUPPORT. The Dragon Award further distinguishes itself from the Hugos with a Candidate FAQ that tells creators “it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage your fans to vote for you.” At least, in previous years it was part of the Hugo voting culture to shame anyone who engaged in campaigning for a nomination, marking this statement as another way to separate the Dragons from the Hugos while also leveraging more participation.

Of course, every new year now arrives with a blizzard of award eligibility statements. That particular gate has been smashed for all awards. Rounding up support from fans and fellow writers to get shortlisted for various awards is commonplace. But the Dragons are unique in embracing the practice.

MAKING THE DRAGON BALLOT. The first set of Dragon Awards given in 2016 are remembered for having been captured by Sad Puppies John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Brian Niemeier, and other conservative writers including David Weber, and Nick Cole.

The second set of nominees in 2017 was heavy on Puppies, too, but that was overshadowed by the authors who withdrew their books from contention after the ballot was announced (N.K. Jemisin, Alison Littlewood, — and initially John Scalzi, though he soon reversed his decision).

However, the final ballot for the third set of awards in 2018 had something in common with “that curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” Although both Vox Day and Jon Del Arroz had put out Dragon Awards slates, none of the books they pushed made the ballot. This happened without any public comment from the administrators, but still skeptics wondered if it was a symptom of actions taken behind the scenes under authority of the posted rules.

In 2019 the trend to broader representation continued with more finalists lining up with what fans and critics had pointed to as the best books of the year. Yet the ultimate Dragon-winning Best Science Fiction Novel was not one of the books by Becky Chambers, James S.A. Corey, Dave Hutchinson, Arkady Martine, or Kim Stanley Robinson — the winner was the unheralded novel by Brad Torgersen, lead dog of Sad Puppies 3 in 2015. Several other categories were won by Larry Correia, David Weber, and S.M. Stirling.

By contrast, in 2020 and 2021 not only was the ballot increasingly filled by widely-celebrated titles, the actual winners likewise were recognizably popular writers, such as John Scalzi, Andy Weir and T. Kingfisher (a result several Puppies sourly blamed on Covid.)

The trend away from “clique picks” and toward books that more readers are following is also evident in the declining number of finalists that have microscopic totals of Goodreads ratings from readers. Here’s a year-by-year summary of the Dragon Award book finalists with fewer than 100 ratings as of the time the ballot came out:

  • 2017 – 24
  • 2018 – 11
  • 2019 – 8
  • 2021 – 3

(I didn’t research the numbers in 2020.)

What about the most recent year, 2021? These ratings totals were compiled on September 9 – probably not radically different from what they were when the Dragon Awards nominations closed on July 19.

Winners in BOLDFACE.

1. BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
105,306Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (5/21)
93,436Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (11/20)
17,749Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (10/20)
8,473A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (3/21)
7,339The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson (10/20)
1,457Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow (10/20)
1,297Machine by Elizabeth Bear (10/20)

2. BEST FANTASY NOVEL (INCLUDING PARANORMAL)

RATINGSTITLE
357,037The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (10/20)
74,281Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (9/20)
63,771Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson (11/20)
31,656Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (10/20)
30,169Battle Ground by Jim Butcher (9/20)
1,768Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross (10/20)

3. BEST YOUNG ADULT / MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
54,987A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (9/20)
9,794A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (7/20)
7,788Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (8/20)
1,435The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (9/20)
1,231A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer (7/20)
392The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips (10/20)

4. BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
3,307Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos (12/20)
1,321Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee (2/21)
1,125Direct Fire by Rick Partlow (7/20)
797Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio (7/20)
398Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams (12/20)
355Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown (2/21)

5. BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
14,686Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis (7/20)
4,998The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (7/20)
4,408A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (5/21)
3,613The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris (2/21)
2481637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon (11/20)
79Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling (3/21)

6. BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
11,886Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule (1/21)
6,614Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn (9/20)
1,854Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux (7/20)
778Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon (10/20)
503Penitent by Dan Abnett (3/21)
11MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff (11/20)

7. BEST HORROR NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
31,794The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (7/20)
14,352Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay (7/20)
9,554The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (10/20)
4,171True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Petty (8/20)
109Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings (5/21)
71The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall (12/20)

2021 OBSERVATIONS. There is only one category in which the winner also had the highest number of Goodreads ratings, which is Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary.

There also is one category where the winner had the dead last number of Goodreads ratings, which is Gun Runner by Larry Correia and John D. Brown.

GETTING ON THE BALLOT. When you look at the wildly disparate numbers of ratings of books that only have in common that they made the Dragon Awards final ballot, although it isn’t hard to imagine why books that have many Goodreads ratings would turn out to be finalists it is not so easy to explain how books with comparatively few ratings did it.

The first thought that might come to mind is “Wow, some of these writers must be awfully effective at rounding up votes!” Or have we just been conditioned by the hype that so many people are voting that the number would sound good rolling off the tongue of Carl Sagan? (Remember “billions and billions”?)

If we stop being dazzled by that illusion, we can also consider a second possibility — that there are finalists with low numbers of Goodreads ratings because it only takes a trivial number of votes to get on the bottom rungs of the ballot.

The Dragon Awards don’t release their voting statistics, however, it may help envision this possibility by looking at the performance of Hugo Awards nominees. (Note: I haven’t forgotten that the Hugo finalists are now determined by EPH scores, but those don’t enter into this discussion of participation levels.) From the past five years in the Hugo’s Best Novel category, here are (1) the nominating votes received by the lowest finalist, and (2) the number received by the last title on the longlist (usually 15th place).

HUGOS

  • 2021 132 / TBA
    • 2020 195 / 54
    • 2019 203 / 60
    • 2018 128 / 81
    • 2017  166 / 85

When you reflect on the dropoff from the lowest Hugo finalist to fifteenth place (or in 2020 sixteenth place, because one finalist withdrew), then consider that the Dragon Awards collectively had 43 books on the 2021 ballot, it would not be surprising if the books at the end of the Dragon’s long tail also had a small number of supporters.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN THE DRAGON AWARD? Many awards can be regarded as popularity contests, even those where voting is restricted to guild members, but unlike the Dragon Awards, the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Locus Awards voters have weeks or months to read and vote for their favorite finalists. The implication is that voters are making an informed choice among the competitors.

In 2021 the Dragon Award ballot was distributed on August 11 and closed September 4 – a span of 24 days. With 43 finalists in seven categories for text novels there’s no expectation that people will read and compare the finalists.

The timing and mechanics of Dragon Awards final voting also emphasize rallying around one favorite work in a category, given that a person can only vote for one finalist in each category. The winner needs to receive a plurality of the votes – it doesn’t need to be the favorite of a majority.  (Which resembles how the Hugos worked in the early Sixties.)

That paves the way to buy the theory that the Dragon Awards represent a competition between the most enthusiastic fan bases. But Goodreads ratings are not a consistent predictor of what is going to show up on the final ballot or win. Neither have slate-makers (JDA, Vox Day, even Declan Finn) been able to dictate the ballot. What do you think is the key to understanding who wins this award?

2021 Dragon Awards

2021 Dragon Award trophies. Photo by Sean CW Korsgaard.

The 2021 Dragon Awards winners were announced September 5 at Dragon Con. (Information livetweeted by Sean CW Korsgaard.)

1. BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

2. BEST FANTASY NOVEL (INCLUDING PARANORMAL)

  • Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

3. BEST YOUNG ADULT / MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

4. BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY NOVEL

  • Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown

5. BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY NOVEL

  • 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon

6. BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL

  • Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon

7. BEST HORROR NOVEL

  • The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

8. BEST COMIC BOOK

  • X-Men by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar

9. BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL

  • The Magicians: New Class by Lev Grossman, Lilah Sturges, Pius Bak

10. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY TV SERIES

  • The Expanse, Amazon

11. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MOVIE

  • The Old Guard by Gina Prince-Bythewood

12. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY PC / CONSOLE GAME

  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Ubisoft

13. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MOBILE GAME

  • Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells, Zynga

14. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY BOARD GAME

  • Dune: Imperium, Dire Wolf Games

15. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MINIATURES / COLLECTIBLE CARD / ROLE-PLAYING GAME

  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Soulbound Role-Playing Game, Cubicle 7

Pixel Scroll 8/30/21 Riding Out On A Scroll In A Pixel-Spangled Rodeo

(1) DRAGON AWARDS DEADLINE. The deadline for requesting a ballot for the Dragon Awards is Friday. Their website says: “You may register to receive a ballot until 11:59 (EDT) on the Friday of Dragon Con”, which is September 3. Voting ends September 4.  The finalists are listed here.

(2) GET THE POINT. At the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Revel Grove, which is running weekends through October 24, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health is encouraging people to get Covid vaccinations by offering a souvenir pin.

HEAR YE! HERE YE! #LimitedEdition#VACCINATED for the Good of the Realm” pins when you get a #COVID19 shot at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in #Crownsville. #GoVAXMaryland

Revelers age12+ can get a #COVIDvaccine at the #Renaissance Festival weekends (through Oct. 24) 10am–6pm. No appointment required. For more vaccination locations, visit: covidvax.maryland.gov

(3) VARLEY HEALTH NEWS. Meanwhile, John Varley told readers of his blog that he and his partner Lee Emmett have contracted COVID-19. (Varley already had another major health issue earlier this year when he was hospitalized for heart bypass surgery.)

You do everything right, and still things go wrong. We are both double vaccinated and we’ve been masking up and social distancing since the pandemic began. Then last week after having lunch at a restaurant here in Vancouver where the vaccination rate is 54 percent we both started feeling very bad. Almost too weak to walk. I’ve been coughing horribly. Lee not so much, but neither of us have hardly been out of bed for almost week.

Went in to get tested, and sure enough. I’m positive for COVID-19. A so-called breakthrough case. They say symptoms will usually be milder. If this is milder, it’s easy to see why people are dying, unable to breathe. This is fucking terrible.

I don’t expect this is likely to kill us, but you never know. This short note is all the energy I have right now. You may not be hearing from us for a while. Wish us luck.

Stay safe and get vaccinated!!

(4) THINGS A CORPORATION CAN’T UNDERSTAND. Hadley Freeman interviews legendary puppeteer Frank Oz for the Guardian. Unsurprisingly, he, too, has issues with Disney: “Frank Oz on life as Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Yoda: ‘I’d love to do the Muppets again but Disney doesn’t want me’”.

…Oz, 77, is talking to me by video from his apartment. It is impossible to talk to him without frequent reference to Henson. When I ask if he lives in New York he says yes, and adds that he’s lived there since he was 19, “ever since Jim [Henson] asked me to come here to work with him on the Muppets”. He talks about himself as Henson’s No2 – the Fozzie Bear to Henson’s Kermit.

Yet is it possible that Oz has made more of an imprint on more people’s imaginations than Henson and the Beatles combined. Even aside from the Muppets and Sesame Street, where he brought to life characters including Cookie Monster, Grover, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle and Bert, he is also the voice of Yoda, and yes, he coined Yoda’s formal yet convoluted syntax, all “Speak like me, you must not” and so on. “It’s funny you ask about that because I was just looking at the original script of The Empire Strikes Back the other day and there was a bit of that odd syntax in it, but also it had Yoda speaking very colloquially. So I said to George [Lucas]: ‘Can I do the whole thing like this?’ And he said: ‘Sure!’ It just felt so right,” says Oz….

(5) MIGHTY IN THE ANTIPODES. The Guardian spotlights obscure Australian superhero movies: “From Captain Invincible to Cleverman: the weird and wild history of Australian superheroes”.

… The phrase “nobody makes superhero movies like Australia” has, I dare say, never before been written. Our humble government-subsidised film and TV industry is no more than a lemonade stand in the shadow of Hollywood’s arena spectacular, unable to compete budget-wise with the deep pockets of Tinseltown or produce bombast on the scale of American studios.

But scratch the surface of Australian film and TV history and you will find a small but rich vein of super strange locally made superhero productions with their own – forgive me – true blue je ne sais quoi. Their eclecticism and off-kilter energy provides a refreshing counterpoint to the risk-averse kind falling off the Hollywood assembly line.

The first port of call is the riotously entertaining 1983 action-comedy The Return of Captain Invincible, a stupendously odd and original movie that proved ahead of the curve in many respects. From Mad Dog Morgan director Philippe Mora, and co-writer Steven E. de Souza (who co-wrote Die Hard) the film stars Alan Arkin as the eponymous, ridiculous, frequently sozzled hero, drawn out of retirement to combat his nefarious super-villain nemesis (the great Christopher Lee) who has stolen a “hypno-ray” with which he can take over the world….

(6) TRILOGY CELEBRATED. Howard Andrew Jones continues his When The Goddess Wakes online book tour on Oliver Brackenbury’s So I’m Writing A Novel podcast (which Cora Buhlert recently featured in her Fancast Spotlight) — “Interview with Howard Andrew Jones”.

Author of the recently concluded Ring-Sworn trilogy, editor of the most excellent sword & sorcery magazine Tales of the Magician’s Skull, and teacher of a heroic fantasy writing class Oliver recently attended (the next session just opened to registration), Howard Andrew Jones has been a source of inspiration, knowledge, and encouragement for Oliver while our earnest podcast host has worked on his book.

(7) AGAINST ALL BOOKS. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Works About Preserving or Destroying Books”. First on the list: Fahrenheit 451.

Recently, news went out that the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association is determined to reallocate the room currently occupied by the Clubs Library. Among the collections housed there: WatSFiC’s extensive science fiction and fantasy library, portions of which date back to the 1970s. One hopes that the library will find another home, or that other accommodations can be made before the collection is broken up or lost.

…Here are five works about books and libraries, their friends, and their bitter enemies.

This hits close to home because, says James, “I was watsfic treasurer for six terms.”

(8) HE DREW FROM THE WELL. Jack Chalker is remembered in this article at the Southern Maryland News: “Chalker literary career provided sci-fi fun”.

Sample reading list: “Well of Souls” series including “Midnight at the Well of Souls,” “Exiles at the Well of Souls,” “Quest for the Well of Souls,” “The Return of Nathan Brazil” and “Changewinds” books including “When the Changewinds Blow,” “Riders of the Winds” and “War of the Maelstrom.”

…His work won several Sci-Fi awards beginning with the Hamilton-Brackett Memorial Award in 1979, a Skylark Award (1980), a Daedalus Award (1983), and The Gold Medal of the West Coast Review of Books (1984).

While Chalker loved Sci-Fi, he also had a great interest in ferryboats; so much so that he was married on the Roaring Bull boat, part of the Millersburg Ferry, in the middle of the Susquehanna River and then after his death had his ashes scattered off a ferry near Hong Kong, a ferry in Vietnam, and White’s Ferry on the Potomac River. His fans follow each other www.facebook.com/JackLChalker.

(9) GETTING READY. You could hardly ask for a more prepared Guest of Honor!

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1982 – Thirty-nine years ago, Raiders of The Lost Ark wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon IV where Marta Randall was Toastmaster.  It was, I think, a great year for Hugo nominated films as the other nominations were Dragonslayer, Excalibur, Outland and Time Bandits.  It would be the first of the two films in the franchise to win a Hugo as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade would also win at ConFiction. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 30, 1797 – Mary Shelley. Author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818), her first novel. Another of Shelley’s novels, The Last Man (1826), concerns Europe in the late 21st century, ravaged by a mysterious pandemic illness that rapidly sweeps across the entire globe, ultimately resulting in the near-extinction of humanity. Scholars call it one of the first pieces of dystopian fiction published. (Died 1851) (OGH)
  • Born August 30, 1896 Raymond Massey. In 1936, he starred in Things to Come, a film adaptation by H.G. Wells of his own novel The Shape of Things to Come. Other than several appearances on Night Gallery forty years later, that’s it for genre appearances. (Died 1983.)
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 78. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Nolacon II. Asimov wrote an introduction for her book Pennterra and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series. Her Holy Ground series of The Ragged World: A Novel of the Hefn on EarthTime, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream: A Sequel to the Ragged World and The Bird Shaman are her other genre novels. The Bear’s Babys And Other Stories collects her genre short stories. All of her works are surprisingly available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born August 30, 1943 Robert Crumb, 78. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang as genre but that’s a very generous definition of genre.
  • Born August 30, 1955 Mark Kelly. He maintains the indispensable Science Fiction Awards Database, which we consult almost daily. He wrote reviews for Locus in the Nineties, then founded the Locus Online website in 1997 and ran it single-handedly for 20 years, along the way winning the Best Website Hugo (2002). Recently he’s devised a way to use his awards data to rank the all-time “Top SF/F/H Short Stories” and “Top SF/F/H Novelettes”. Kelly’s explanation of how the numbers are crunched is here. (OGH)
  • Born August 30, 1955 Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Threads magazine. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 30, 1963 Michael Chiklis, 58. He was The Thing in two first Fantastic Four films, and Jim Powell on the the No Ordinary Family series which I’ve never heard of.  He was on American Horror Story for its fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show as Dell Toledo. The following year he was cast as Nathaniel Barnes, in the second season of Gotham, in a recurring role. And he voiced Lt. Jan Agusta in Heavy Gear: The Animated Series
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 56. She was an executive producer of the short-lived Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like. 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 49. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she was cast as an uncredited Bus passenger in Minority Report. (CE)
  • Born August 30, 1980 Angel Coulby, 41. She is best remembered for her recurring role as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived animated Thunderbirds Are Go series.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) DEADLY CONSEQUENCES. “Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, and 2021’s extreme heat”, Rebecca Onion’s Q&A with the author starts with his book’s intense beginning.

“I feel like my circles have divided between those who’ve read the opening chapter of The Ministry for the Future and those who haven’t,” wrote novelist Monica Byrne on Twitter earlier this month. This book, by beloved science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, came out in 2020, and has haunted my summer in 2021. Ministry opens in a small city in Uttar Pradesh, India, where the character Frank May, an American who works for an unidentified NGO, just barely survives an extreme heat wave that kills millions of people in the country. This opening is so viscerally upsetting that, for days after reading it, I worried at it in my mind, turning it over, trying—and failing—to get it to go away.

Rebecca Onion: This opening brutalized me. (And I know I’m not alone.) I read it without any preparation—I hadn’t been warned—and it gave me insomnia, dominated my thoughts, and led me to put the book down for a few months. Then I picked it back up and found that the remainder of it is actually quite optimistic, for a book about a rolling series of disasters! What were you aiming for, when it comes to readerly emotional response, in starting the book this way?

Kim Stanley Robinson: I wanted pretty much the response you described. Fiction can put people through powerful imaginative experiences; it generates real feelings. So I knew the opening scene would be hard to read, and it was hard to write. It wasn’t a casual decision to try it. I felt that this kind of catastrophe is all too likely to happen in the near future. That prospect frightens me, and I wanted people to understand the danger….

Robinson also tried a different approach, the carrot instead of the stick, in this TED Talk in July: “Kim Stanley Robinson: Remembering climate change … a message from the year 2071”.

Coming to us from 50 years in the future, legendary sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson tells the “history” of how humanity ended the climate crisis and restored the damage done to Earth’s biosphere. A rousing vision of how we might unite to overcome the greatest challenge of our time.

(14) SAND, NOT DUNE. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimer checks out “6 Books with John Appel”, author of Assassin’s Orbit.

4. A book that you love and wish that you yourself had written.

I’d give up a redundant organ to have written Roger Zelazny’s Doorways in the Sand, about a young man named Fred Cassidy whose uncle left him a generous stipend as long as he pursues a college degree – a process which Fred has stretched out for over a decade. Fred gets caught up in the disappearance of an alien artifact on loan to Earth as part of a cultural exchange and hijinks ensue. Fred’s narration of events is done with incredibly deadpan hilariousness and at times a Douglas Adams-esque absurdity, and Zelazny’s usual brilliant touch with language and imagery. 

(15) MANIFEST’S DESTINY. Whacked by NBC, the show will get to finish its story elsewhere reports USA Today. “’Manifest’: Netflix revives drama for fourth and final season”.

We haven’t heard the last of the passengers of Flight 828. 

Netflix announced the popular TV series “Manifest” will return for its fourth and final season. The news came Saturday (8/28) in a nod at the show’s plot which centers around the mysterious Montego Air Flight 828. 

The drama follows a group of passengers who land on what seems like a routine flight from Jamaica back to the states. However, once the wheels touch the tarmac the travelers deplane into a world that has aged five years since when they first boarded. 

(16) CHINA CUTS DOWN VIDEO GAMING. Not quite a Prohibition yet: “Three hours a week: Play time’s over for China’s young video gamers”Reuters has the story.

China has forbidden under-18s from playing video games for more than three hours a week, a stringent social intervention that it said was needed to pull the plug on a growing addiction to what it once described as “spiritual opium”.

The new rules, published on Monday, are part of a major shift by Beijing to strengthen control over its society and key sectors of its economy, including tech, education and property, after years of runaway growth.

The restrictions, which apply to any devices including phones, are a body blow to a global gaming industry that caters to tens of millions of young players in the world’s most lucrative market….

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Dann, Mlex, Red Panda Fraction, Michael J. Walsh, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Dann.]

Pixel Scroll 8/15/21 The Filer Who Cried ‘Click’ At The Heart Of The Scroll

(1) KOREAN SF THRIVING. Abigail Nussbaum offers a “Quick Book Rec: Tower by Bae Myung-hoon” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…In late 2020 and early 2021, someone seems to have decided that it was Korean SF’s turn, with several major works receiving English-language editions (in particular, check out UK-based publisher Honford Star, who have put out handsome editions of several books). At the vacation house where I recently stayed with some friends, these books were available for reading, and today I’d like to talk about one them. Tower by Bae Myung-hoon was originally published in 2009 (the English translation is by Sung Ryu), and its concerns connect with conversations we’ve had on this blog about urbanism, vertical construction, and most importantly, the relationship between capital and citizens….

(2) PRIX AURORA. Aurora Awards voting is now open for members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, who have until September 4 to complete their online ballots. See the list of nominees here.

(3) DRAGON AWARDS. And, of course, Dragon Awards voting has started and will continue until September 4. To vote, fans must first register on the Dragon Awards website: Register Here. Ballots are then emailed in batches every few days through August.

Fans have until Friday, September 3 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern, to register. Voting ends 24-hours later on Saturday, Septenber. 4 at 11:59 p.m., also Eastern.

Winners will be announced on Sept. 5 at Dragon Con

(4) ANIMATION HONOR. While researching an item today I discovered the Writers Guild has a page devoted to the award they gave Craig Miller last year: “Television Writer Craig Miller Named WGAW’s 2020 AWC Animation Writing Award Honoree”.

TV animation writer and WGAW Animation Writers Caucus Chair Craig Miller (The Smurfs, Curious George, Pocket Dragon Adventures) will receive the Writers Guild of America West’s 2020 Animation Writers Caucus Animation Writing Award at November 24’s virtual AWC awards ceremony.

Comic book writer and Miller collaborator Marv Wolfman will present the Guild’s AWC career achievement award to Miller in recognition of his distinguished career and contributions to the animation field….

(5) TRADPUB AT IT’S FINEST. Literary Hub shares “A Legendary Publishing House’s Most Infamous Rejection Letters”Animal Farm? No thanks. Lord of the Flies – came damn close to being rejected. Paddington Bear? Well, who wants to read about a poor, rudely-treated bear? (A 2019 article.)

T. S. Eliot rejects George Orwell, againAnimal Farm

T. S. Eliot to George Orwell Esq., 13 July 1944:

“I know that you wanted a quick decision about Animal Farm; but the minimum is two directors’ opinions, and that can’t be done under a week. But for the importance of speed, I should have asked the Chairman to look at it as well. But the other director is in agreement with me on the main points. We agree that it is a distinguished piece of writing; that the fable is very skilfully handled, and that the narrative keeps one’s interest on its own plane – and that is something very few authors have achieved since Gulliver.

“On the other hand, we have no conviction (and I am sure none of the other directors would have) that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the present time.[. . .]

“I am very sorry, because whoever publishes this, will naturally have the opportunity of publishing your future work: and I have a regard for your work, because it is good writing of fundamental integrity.”

It is that last paragraph that particularly strikes me: in turning down Animal Farm—essentially because it was being rude about our Soviet allies—Eliot was also turning down the unwritten 1984.

(6) NICHELLE NICHOLS NEWS. Although only Los Angeles Times subscribers can read the article “Nichelle Nichols: Conservatorship battle of ‘Star Trek’ star”, this excerpt encompasses the current state of affairs.

A three-way fight over Nichols’ fate involves her only child, Kyle Johnson, who is also her conservator; her former manager Gilbert Bell; and a concerned friend, Angelique Fawcette.

In 2018, Johnson filed a petition for conservatorship, arguing that his mother’s dementia made her susceptible to exploitation. In 2019, Bell filed a lawsuit against Johnson, alleging attempts to remove him from Nichols’ guest home, where he has lived since 2010, and “aggressive and combative behavior.”

Bell says that while living in close proximity to Nichols, he helped to restore her career and financial well-being. According to Johnson, who filed a countersuit against Bell in 2020, Nichols’ home was the place where her former manager “exerted his undue influence and took control over Ms. Nichols’ assets and personal affairs,” misappropriating the star’s income as her health deteriorated and memory faded.

Fawcette, a producer and actress who met Nichols in 2012, entered the legal fight opposing Johnson’s conservatorship petition. Fawcette pushed for visitation rights to spend time with her friend, and she argued for Nichols to stay in Woodland Hills — a scenario that has looked increasingly improbable.

At 88, Nichols no longer occupies the house. Last year, Johnson moved her to New Mexico, where he and his wife live. Johnson declined The Times’ requests to speak with Nichols directly.

Against the backdrop of the #FreeBritney movement around Britney Spears raising public consciousness about conservatorships, Nichols’ former agent and friend have launched court battles to intervene, they said in interviews. Their fear: Nichols is being denied a chance to live out her remaining years as she wants….

(7) ACE DOUBLE IS A JOKER. At Galactic Journey Cora Buhlert reviews what’s on West German newsstands in August 1966, including a book she deems truly terrible, The Star Magicians by Lin Carter.  “[August 14, 1966] So Bad It’s Hilarious (The Star Magicians by Lin Carter/The Off-Worlders by John Baxter (Ace Double G-588))”.

(8) REDEEMING FEATURES. But Cora also sent this link, saying “Because Lin Carter was actually a good editor, even if he was a terrible writer, here is Filer Fraser Sherman’s appreciation for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series of the 1970s, which Carter edited” – “Lin Carter and the Ballantines Changed My Life” at Atomic Junk Shop.

…Thanks to Carter and the Ballantines, I could read George MacDonald’s allegorical Lilith. Clark Ashton Smith’s stylized dark fantasy short stories, collected in Poseidonis, Xiccarph, Hyperborea and more. James Branch Cabell’s cynical tales of less-than-noble knights, with a healthy serving of sex. New authors such as Evangeline Walton, with her retelling of the Welsh Mabinogion and Saunders Anne Laubenthal’s remarkable Alabama Grail quest, Excalibur (some of the covers are in this old post of mine).

It would be a satisfying ending if I could say reading these books shaped my own fantasy-writing style, but I don’t think they did. I did try to write some Dunsanian stories when I started out, but like most writers who imitate a distinctive stylist, the results were … not good (I’m not even going to mention my efforts at imitating Lovecraft — crap, I just did). They did, however, do a marvelous job broadening my taste beyond Conan and Frodo Baggins….

(9) ONWARD AND DURWARD. Adam Roberts analyzes how J.R.R. Tolkien was influenced by Sir Walter Scott in “Black Riders: a Note on Scott and Tolkien” at Sibilant Fricative. For example, Roberts finds significant parallels between Tolkien’s work and Scott’s Quentin Durward, such as —

…Schwarz Reiters, Black Riders. It seems to me likely that Tolkien, reading Scott’s adventure story, retained a memory of this episode and reworked it for Fellowship of the Ring: not just men riding black horses, but black men riding black horses, at the behest of a terrible malevolent master, pursuing our heroes across a spacious, late medieval landscape of field, stream and woodland. 

One of Scott’s footnotes makes plain that the Schwarz Reiters were historical; but that seems to me only to reinforce the aptitude of the Tolkienian appropriation….

(10) SCHLUESSEL Q&A. Tanya Tynjala launches a new interview series at Amazing Stories: “Meet Edmund Schluessel (Scriptor in Fabula Program)”. See the video at the link.

Months ago I decided to make a program about foreign writers living in Finland, and finally here it is. The name is Scriptor in Fabula and is a different kind of interview.

Three of the writers included are science fiction and fantasy ones, so I decided is a good idea to present them also here, at Amazing Stories.

The first one is Edmund Schluessel a PhD physicist with PGCE teaching qualification that also writes good science fiction. But there is more: An avid socialist activist, he helped organize Finland’s largest demonstration against Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in  Helsinki, Finland.

(11) UNA STUBBS (1937-2021). British actress Una Stubbs died August 12 at the age of 84. US viewers will mainly know her as Mrs. Hudson in Sherlock, but she had several genre roles as well. Here’s an obituary from The Guardian as well as a photo overview of her memorable roles.

(12) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1986 – Thirty-five years ago, the second version of The Fly premiered. This version was directed and co-written by David Cronenberg along with Charles Edward Pogue. It was based on “The Fly” by George Langelaan which first ran in the June 1957 issue of Playboy. The principal cast was Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. Reception was universally positive for the film with the performance by Goldblum being singled out as the highlight of the film. It grossed over sixty million dollars at the box office against its nine million dollar budget becoming the largest commercial success of Cronenberg’s career. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rather excellent rating of eighty-three percent. It was nominated for a Hugo at Conspiracy ’87, the year Aliens won.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 15, 1917 John Joseph McGuire. Best remembered as a co-writer with H. Beam Piper of A Planet for TexansHunter PatrolCrisis in 2140 and The Return, all of which I’ve read and really liked. His solo fiction was a bare handful and I don’t think I’ve encountered it. The works with Piper are available from the usual digital suspects as is a novella of his called The Reason Prisoner. It’s listed as being public domain, so’s free there. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 15, 1932 Robert L. Forward. Physicist and SF writer whose eleven novels I find are often quite great on ideas and quite thin on character development. Dragon’s Egg is fascinating as a first contact novel, and Saturn Rukh is another first contact novel that’s just as interesting. (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 15, 1933 Bjo Trimble, 88. Her intro to fandom was TASFiC, the 1952 Worldcon. She would be active in LASFS in the late 1950s onward and has been involved in more fanzines than I can comfortably list here. Of course, many of us know her from Trek especially the successful campaign for a third season. She’s responsible for the Star Trek Concordance, an amazing work even by today’s standards. And yes, I read it and loved it. She’s shows up (uncredited) as a crew member in the Recreation Deck scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Bjo and her husband John Trimble were the Fan Guests of Honor at the 60th Worldcon, ConJose. She was nominated at Seacon for Best Fanzine for Shangri L’Affaires, and two years later at DisCon 1 for the same under the Best Amateur Magazine category. 
  • Born August 15, 1943 Barbara Bouchet, 78. Yes, I’ve a weakness for performers who’ve shown up on the original Trek. She plays Kelinda in “By Any Other Name”.  She also appeared in Casino Royale as Miss Moneypenny, and is Ava Vestok in Agent for H.A.R.M. which sounds like someone was rather unsuccessfully emulating The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It will be commented upon by Mystery Science Theater 3000.
  • Born August 15, 1945 Nigel Terry. His first role was John in  A Lion in Winter which is at least genre adjacent as it’s alternate history, with his first genre role being King Arthur in Excalibur. Now there’s a bloody telling of the Arthurian myth.  He’s General Cobb in the Tenth Doctor story, “The Doctor’s Daughter”, and on the Highlander series as Gabriel Piton in the “Eye of the Beholder” episode. He even played Harold Latimer in “The Greek Interpreter” on Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 15, 1952 Louise Marley, 69. Winner of two Endeavour Awards for The Glass Harmonica and The Child Goddess. Before becoming a writer, she was an opera singer with the Seattle Opera, and so her works often feature musical themes.
  • Born August 15, 1972 Matthew Wood, 49. He started out as, and still is, a sound engineer but he also became a voice actor with his best known role being that of General Grievous in The Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars. He often does both at the same time as on 2013 Star Trek Into Darkness where he was the lead sound editor and provided the ever so vague additional voices. If you’ve been watching The Mandalorian, he was Bib Fortuna in “The Rescue” episode. 
  • Born August 15, 1972 Ben Affleck, 49. Did you know his first genre role is in Buffy the Vampire Slayer? He’s a basketball player in it.  He’s Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. IMDB claims he shows up in a uncredited spot in Suicide Squad as well. He’s reprising his role as Batman in forthcoming Flash.  He’s Matt Murdock / Daredevil in Daredevil which I have seen. He’s actually in Field of Dreams too as a fan on the stands in Fenway though he’s not credited. Can I nominate Shakespeare in Love as genre? If so, he’s Ned Alleyn in it.

(14) BURTON’S BATMAN IS BACK. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt discusses Batman 89, a six-issue miniseries designed to recreate the world of the 1989 Tim Burton movie, written by Sam Hamm (who wrote Burton’s film) and designed to include storylines that weren’t in Burton’s movie (such as having a Black Robin, because Robin wasn’t in the Burton film). “Tim Burton never got to make more Batman movies. ‘Batman 89’ is the next best thing”.

…[Artist Joe] Quinones ended up suggesting something that now seems obvious: Why not just ask the person who wrote those Batman movies?Veteran Hollywood writer Sam Hamm is that person.And the result is “Batman 89,” a newsix-issue monthly miniseries featuring a Batman inspired by the performance of Michael Keaton — and a nostalgic joyride for the many hardcore fans of Burton’s two iconic trips to Gotham City.

Quinones sent Hamm a direct message on Twitter and was surprised not only to get a response but to find out Hamm is a fan of his artwork.

Hamm was hesitant about returning to super-heroic tales.He’d written two Batman films (the first with Warren Skaaren, and he was replac

ed on the second by Daniel Waters) along with the first movie script for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s legendary “Watchmen” comic. He’d even worked with Chris Columbus on a Fantastic Four movie that was never made.

“I had a long stretch where I just didn’t want to do comic book [stories]. I had been very much typed as the comic book guy,” Hamm said. Still, he added, “I thought about it for like a day, and I said, I think I can have some fun with this.”

Part of the fun for Hamm and Quinones would be exploring potential plotlines that were ripe for the taking but never used in the first two Batman films. Both agreed that classic Batman villain Two-Face should be this series’ main antagonist. Hamm had included Harvey Dent — played by Billy Dee Williams — in his “Batman” script with the intent of the character eventually transitioning into Two-Face. But Williams never returned to the role, and when Two-Face debuted in Schumacher’s “Batman Forever,” the character was played by Tommy Lee Jones….

(15) RECORD ATTEMPT. A few costumes shy of the Jurassic mark… “Mount Clemens event fails world record attempt for gathering of people dressed as dinosaurs” – see the news video at Flipboard.

A downtown Mount Clemens event Saturday sought to break the world record for the number of dinosaur costumes in one place. The record, which stands at 252, was too large to overcome. But that didn’t mean attendees didn’t have fun.

(16) CLIPPING SERVICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a humor piece by Hallie Cantor in the July 30, 2018 New Yorker in which Elon Musk is dealing wiith public relations executives.

MUSK:  “Guys, guys, guys, c’mon.  I’m a socialist in the manner of Iain Banks.”

P.R. EXECUTIVE 2:  “But Iain Banks was pro-union!”

(A large hole opens in the floor beneath Executive 2’s seat, and he disappears into a Hyperloop tube headed for O’Hare International Airport.”

(17) EAR CANDY. Cora Buhlert has a story called “We need to talk…” in episode 42 of the Simultaneous Times podcast presented by Space Cowboy Books.

(18) ON DC’S SHELF. GameSpot spins out the alternate Hollywood History that might have been: “9 Unmade DC Superhero Movies That We Never Got To See”.

…Unsurprisingly, there’s also a huge number of potential DC movies that have been announced or put into development that never made it to the screen. Some of these were new spins of the company’s biggest heroes, developed by big names like JJ Abrams, Joss Whedon, and Tim Burton. Others were attempts to make movies based on lesser-known figures that for various reasons never got as far as production. Some were literally a few weeks away from shooting, while others never made it past the script stage.

We’ve picked some of the highest-profile and most interesting examples of these. It’s fascinating to think of how the course of DC’s cinematic journey would’ve been affected had they made it to the screen–Nicolas Cage might have forever been associated with the role of Superman, while we might never have seen Christian Bale and Chris Nolan’s take on Batman. So here’s 9 big DC films that we’ll never see….

9. Justice League Dark

In terms of DC movies that seem like a perfect match of subject and director, it’s hard to think of a better one than Gullermo Del Toro’s Justice League Dark. The Pacific Rim and Shape of Water director was attached to a movie version of the supernatural superhero team for several years and recently confirmed that he wrote a full screenplay for the potential movie. But he left the project in 2015, and although Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) was also briefly attached, it remains unmade.

However, while a full Justice League Dark movie doesn’t seem likely any time soon, that doesn’t mean we won’t see some of the characters. Last year it was reported that JJ Abrams is developing several Justice League Dark projects, with a John Constantine series and Zatanna movie both in the works.

(19) PETRI DISHES. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says if Tucker Carlson enjoyed his trip to Hungary, he’s really looking forward to going to Mordor!” “Forget Hungary. Tucker Carlson is all about Mordor now”.

… I am honored to announce I will be speaking next week at the Mordor Summit in Barad-dur at the invitation of Dark Lord Sauron! This is the future of conservatism, and I’m excited to throw open the Overton Window and let in the nazguls.

It was wonderful to spend time in Hungary, a country Freedom House describes as “sliding into authoritarian rule” — but why stop there when I could be in a land Freedom House describes as “under authoritarian rule for two-and-a-half thousand years”? That’s two-and-a-half thousand times more aspirational! That’s 10 times longer than the United States has been a country at all, and hundreds of times longer than we’ve been deliberately sliding away from at least theoretically embracing representative democracy….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Alan Baumler, Will R., John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

2021 Dragon Awards Ballot

The 2021 Dragon Awards Ballot was distributed August 11. Registered voters should expect to receive notice by email.

To be eligible for the 2021 Dragon Awards the book, comic, game, movie, must have been released between July 1, 2020, and the close of the eligibility period, June 30, 2021, which accounts for the mix of nominees from last year and this year.

Most categories have six nominees, but Best Science Fiction Novel, Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, and Best Science Fiction or Fantasy movie have seven.

Recipients of the awards will be announced on Sunday, September 5 at Dragon Con.

1. BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow
  • Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
  • The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Machine by Elizabeth Bear
  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

2. BEST FANTASY NOVEL (INCLUDING PARANORMAL)

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross
  • Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

3. BEST YOUNG ADULT / MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
  • The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
  • The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips
  • A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

4. BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY NOVEL

  • Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown
  • Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams
  • Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee
  • Direct Fire by Rick Partlow
  • Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos

5. BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY NOVEL

  • The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling
  • Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
  • The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
  • 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon

    6. BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL
  • MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff
  • Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon
  • Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux
  • Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
  • Penitent by Dan Abnett
  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn

    7. BEST HORROR NOVEL
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
  • True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Petty
  • The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
  • Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings
  • The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall
  • Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

    8. BEST COMIC BOOK
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson, Christian Ward
  • Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto
  • Once & Future by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora
  • X-Men by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar
  • Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett

    9. BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL
  • The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
  • Pulp by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips
  • The Magicians: New Class by Lev Grossman, Lilah Sturges, Pius Bak
  • Dracula, Motherf**ker by Alex de Campi, Erica Henderson
  • The Book Tour by Andi Watson
  • The Green Lantern Season Two by Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp

    10. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY TV SERIES
  • Loki, Disney+
  • The Nevers, HBO
  • Resident Alien, SYFY
  • WandaVision, Disney+
  • Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount+
  • Shadow & Bone, Netflix
  • The Expanse, Amazon

    11. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MOVIE
  • The Old Guard by Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Justice League by Zack Snyder
  • Space Sweepers by Sung-hee Jo
  • Tenet by Christopher Nolan
  • Godzilla vs Kong by Adam Wingard
  • Wonder Woman 1984 by Patty Jenkins
  • Bill & Ted Face the Music by Dean Parisot

    12. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY PC / CONSOLE GAME
  • Star Wars: Squadrons, Electronic Arts
  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt
  • Hades, Supergiant Games
  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Ubisoft
  • Ghost of Tsushima, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Crusader Kings III, Paradox Interactive

    13. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MOBILE GAME
  • Empire of Sin, Paradox Interactive
  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Ustwo & Plug in Digital
  • South of the Circle, State of Play Games
  • Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells, Zynga
  • Orwell’s Animal Farm, The Dairymen Ltd.
  • Genshin Impact, miHoYo

    14. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY BOARD GAME
  • Curious Cargo, Capstone Games
  • Marvel United, CMON Games
  • Sleeping Gods, Red Raven Games
  • Dune: Imperium, Dire Wolf Games
  • Pandemc: Legacy Season 0, Z-Man Games
  • Oceans, North Star Games

    15. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MINIATURES / COLLECTIBLE CARD / ROLE-PLAYING GAME
  • Cyberpunk RED, R. Talsorian Games
  • Magic: The Gathering, Strixhaven: School of Mages, Wizards of the Coast
  • Magic: The Gathering, Zendikar Rising, Wizards of the Coast
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Soulbound Role-Playing Game, Cubicle 7
  • Pokemon TCG: Champion’s Path Elite Trainer Box, Pokemon
  • Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, Wizards of the Coast