(1) ON THE FRONT OF F&SF. Here is The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s July-Aug 2023 issue cover. The cover art is by Mondolithic Studios.
(2) 2023 NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL. The 2023 National Book Festival will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, August 12, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (doors open at 8:30 a.m.). The event is free and open to the public. Some creators of genre interest appearing at the Festival are:
George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo) discusses his latest collection of stories in Liberation Day.
TJ Klune returns with another fantasy adventure, “In the Lives of Puppets,” a tale of artificial intelligence robots and their human son.
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Meg Medina shares the graphic novel adaptation of “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass” with the novel’s illustrator Mel Valentine Vargas.
Interested attendees not able to join the festival in person can tune into sessions throughout the day. Events on several of the stages will be livestreamed on loc.gov/bookfest. Videos of all presentations will be made available on demand in the weeks after the festival.
(3) KNOST WINGS FINALISTS. The 2023 Michael Knost Wings award finalists have been announced by The Imaginarium Convention. The award “focuses on authors of speculative and/or dark fiction, specifically authors who are up-and-coming . . . or those who have been around a while but do not get the recognition they deserve.”
The award is named for Michael Knost, is the 2015 recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Silver Hammer Award for his work as the organization’s mentorship chair. He is also a two-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and is known for his mentoring, writing classes, and bestselling works. Nominees/finalists are chosen by a committee of editors and authors, and Knost selects the award recipient.
This year’s nominees/finalists are:
- John F. Allen
- Anton Cancre
- Elizabeth Donald
- Sandy Lender
- Tommy B. Smith
The winner will be announced during the Imaginarium Awards Banquet on July 15.
(4) REMEMBERING WHEN. Craig Newmark is the ‘Craig’ of Craig’s List, but before that he was 1/3 of Rat’s Mouth Fandom (back in the 1980s). He made the news this week for donating $100M to veteran charities.
You can decipher the origin of Rat’s Mouth Fandom if you know this about Boca Raton FL:
The meaning of the name Boca Raton has always aroused curiosity. Many people wrongly assume the name is simply Rat’s Mouth. The Spanish word boca, or mouth, often describes an inlet, while raton means literally, mouse.
(5) OTHER DARTS. Jacqueline Carey responds to readers who asked why there aren’t trans folk in Terre d’Ange: “Summer 2023”.
It’s Pride Month and we’re celebrating the official relaunch of the original Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy with these shiny new trade paperback editions! It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since Kushiel’s Dart burst on the scene, exploding with intrigue, heroism and unabashed sexuality the likes of which the fantasy genre had never seen.
In many ways, it’s still ahead of its time; but not all. When I polled a group of longtime readers, this was one of the most common questions on their mind: Are there trans folk in Terre d’Ange?
Fair question! I created an entire theology based on the idea that love in all its forms, including sexual, was a divine force with agency in the real world. Pansexuality is the norm in Terre d’Ange. Even BDSM has a presiding deity! These books were groundbreaking! So what about gender identity? Where the heck are the trans and nonbinary characters? Where are the intersex and asexual characters?
Here’s what I’m not going to do, which is pull a Rowling and tell you, “Oh, Alcuin was nonbinary all along!” I mean… sure, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. But no. Coming from the author, it’s bullshit if it’s not on the page. I didn’t make that specific choice for the character. Nor did I create a society which explicitly acknowledges the full spectrum of human gender identity.
Sorry, guys. I did my best at the time with the knowledge I possessed. I simply wasn’t aware enough of the breadth and depth of human expression to encompass its totality in my worldbuilding. However, “Love As Thou Wilt” is some damn solid bedrock. It’s strong enough to support a broader and deeper understanding of the world. The love and acceptance were always there.
(6) LIFEWRITING PODCAST. Steve Barnes and Tananarive Due’s recent podcast Lifewriting: Write for Your Life! is “On the WGA strike, community for writers – and Clarion West!”
In this episode, Steve and Tananarive talk about some of the reason for the WGA screenwriters’ strike and the importance of community for writers — and welcome guests Rashida Smith and Stephanie Malia Morris to talk about Clarion West. Find out more information at www.clarionwest.org.
(7) CLARION WEST EVENT. There will be a Clarion West fundraiser on November 10: Ted Chiang and Dr. Emily M. Bender in conversation, moderated by Tom Nissley, at Town Hall Seattle. Details to follow.
UW Professor of Linguistics Emily M. Bender talks with award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang about the nature of creativity and the role of the author in relation to AI-generated storytelling. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley.
(8) OVERLOOKED, NOW OVERHEARD. Longtime Horror Writers Association member Mort Castle is enraged that he was not contacted to be part of the HWA blog’s “Celebrating Our Elders” Q&A series. (The Scroll linked to a couple of those posts.) He has published “An Open Letter To The Horror Writers Association” on Facebook. Below is a screencap of his public post. Castle’s concluding statement reads:
…The HWA needs to apologize. The HWA needs to attempt to make amends.
I do want to thank those people, the many HWA members and many others who’ve contacted me, letting me know they considered the HWA’s treatment of me to be flat-out wrong.
Your support means so much. It helps.
But it does not set this wrong thing right.
If you would like to help do that, I ask that you contact The Horror Writers Association. You might add comments on the HWA Facebook page and I hope you do.
I ask that you express your thoughts about Mort’s Uncelebration on the part of an organization that says it supports horror writing and the people who create it.
Somtow Sucharitkul’s comment on the open letter brings much needed lucidity and practicality to the issues.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2022 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
So let’s talk about Rachel Swirsky. She has two Nebulas, one for her “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window novella, the other for her short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”. No Hugo wins to date but she has been nominated four times including for that same novella.
She was the founding editor of the PodCastle podcast which does fantasy fiction and served as editor. Ann Leckie was the founding assistant editor. Impressive.
Our Beginning is from the January Fifteenth novel which was published by Tor.com just last year. It was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award.
And now here it is…
UBI Day: Early
The blizzard first touched land in Maine. It glazed lakes and lighthouses and red-shingled roofs, and billowed through naked ash trees. It chased coastal waves southward to New Hampshire and then moved inland through Concord and into upstate New York, past Saratoga Springs and Syracuse. In Canastota, the historic Erie Canal froze beside iced railroad tracks, neither taking anyone anywhere.
Hannah Klopfer felt grateful once again that she and the boys had been able to find a furnished rental inside their budget that was within easy walking distance of necessities like the post office and the grocery store. She zipped up her down jacket and tugged her hat over her ears. She patted her pockets: wallet, phone, keys. As she grabbed her scarf from the aging brass rack by the door, it made a shuddery twang against the greasy metal.
As the twanging faded, Hannah heard a distant, quiet shuffle from the back of the house. Something wooden groaned. Hannah’s mouth went dry. The ends of her scarf dropped from her hands, unwound, and fell loosely across her chest. Her heart pounded. She hadn’t expected Abigail to find them so fast. She took a deep breath to shout upstairs for Jake and Isaiah to start piling furniture against their bedroom door.
A high-pitched giggle broke the quiet, followed by another. Hannah exhaled in relief. Thank God. It was just the boys playing.
Her heart hadn’t stopped pounding, though. Damn it. Damn it! What was she supposed to do when the boys wouldn’t listen? This wasn’t about sticking their fingers in their cereal or getting crayon on the walls. Did it really matter that it was developmentally normal for a seven-year-old to test authority if it ended up giving Abigail a way back into their lives?
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 9, 1930 — Lin Carter. He is best known for his work in the 1970s as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. As a writer, His first professional publication was the short story “Masters of the Metropolis”, co-written with Randall Garrett, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1957. He would be a prolific writer, average as many as six novels a year. In addition, he was influential as a critic of the fantasy genre and an early historian of the genre. (Died 1988.)
- Born June 9, 1934 — Donald Duck, 89. He made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9, 1934. In this cartoon, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig, lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn.
- Born June 9, 1943 — Joe Haldeman, 80. Whether or not it was written as a response to Starship Troopers as some critics thought at time, The Forever War is a damn great novel which I’ve read at least a half dozen times. No surprise that it won the Hugo at MidAmeriCon and the Nebula Award.
- Born June 9, 1949 — Drew Sanders, 74. He’s an LA resident who’s active in con-running and costuming. He has worked on many Worldcons and is a member of LASFS and SCIFI, and has been an officer of both groups. He co-chaired Costume-Con 4 in 1986.
- Born June 9, 1956 — Patricia Cornwell, 67. You’ll know her better as the author of the medical examiner Kay Scarpetta mystery series, now some twenty-six novels deep. She is here, well in part as I do like that series a lot, because she wrote two SF novels in the Captain Chase series, Quantum and Spin.
- Born June 9, 1961 — Michael J. Fox, 62. The Back to The Future trilogy stands as one of the best SF series ever done and his acting was brilliant. Since 1999 due to his Parkinson’s Disease, he’s has mainly worked as a voice-over actor in films such as Stuart Little and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Prior to his diagnosis, he performed on Tales from the Crypt and directed “The Trap” episode. He would return to live action performing in 2014, bless him, with The Michael J. Fox Show series.
- Born June 9, 1967 — Dave McCarty, 56. He’s a Chicago-area con-running fan who chaired Chicon 7. He has been the Hugo Administrator for Loncon (2014), MidAmeriCon II (2016), for Worldcon 76 (2018), and again for the Chengdu Worldcon (2023).
- Born June 9, 1981 — Natalie Portman, 42. Surprisingly her first genre role was as Taffy Dale in Mars Attacks!, not as Padme in The Phantom Menace for which the fanboys gave her far too much hatred which is what they do when they do not have a real life. She’d repeat that role in Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith and of course get fresh grief from them. She’d next play Evey in V for Vendetta. And she played Jane Foster, a role she played oh magnificently — and got more grief for — first in Thor, then in Thor: The Dark World and then in Avengers: Endgame. She reprised the role in Thor: Love and Thunder, playing both Jane Foster and Thor.
(11) NEW HOMES FOR PULPS. This strikes me as a more elegant (and remunerative) version of “Operation Surprise Package” in Bill, the Galactic Hero. “Sci Fi and Fantasy Pulp/Magazine Subscription (2 Per Package)!” offered by Chris Korczak, Bookseller.
The trouble with Tribbles: Chris Korczak wasn’t sure what to do with the thousands of science fiction and fantasy magazines piling up around him. He’s an antiquarian bookseller in Easthampton, Mass., who specializes in role-playing games and related titles. He knew the old pulp magazines comprised a rich record of the genre’s literary and artistic gems, but finding a buyer for each copy felt impossible.
Don’t Panic: Korczak recently started offering these old magazines as part of an unusual mail-order service. Subscribers receive two randomly selected issues as often as they’d like for $14.49 per shipment (details).
The magazines — mostly from the 1970s and ’90s, but some as far back as the 1940s — provide a kind of time travel through the world of science fiction and fantasy. “They’re really cool,” Korczak tells me, “and they’re just jam-packed with good stories by good authors.” A shipment could include copies of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog, Argosy, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, If, Galaxy and other “smaller print-run publications.” (To be clear: These are not reprints; they’re original issues, some with their old mailing labels still attached.)
The randomness of each shipment is part of the thrill. Korczak estimates that “more than half of the magazines contain authors who are household names.” Subscribers might find stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, George R.R. Martin, Frank Herbert and others. (Of course, mixed among the stars, there’s sure to be some dead planets, too.)
“They’re so cool when you go through them,” Korczak says. “And the artwork — a lot of good illustrations there that are only on those covers.”
If that sounds enticing, boldly go.
(12) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb reports on a Jeopardy! sff reference.
In the Double Jeopardy round, Literature for $800:
This writer known for robotic laws (which might come in handy soon) wrote his “Lucky Starr” series as Paul French
Returning champion Suresh Krishnan responded correctly.
(13) LATE NIGHT SNACK. Science’s article “Let there be dark” explains how “Crops grown without sunlight could help feed astronauts bound for Mars, and someday supplement dinner plates on Earth.”
For the first astronauts to visit Mars, what to eat on their 3-year mission will be one of the most critical questions. It’s not just a matter of taste. According to one recent estimate, a crew of six would require an estimated 10,000 kilograms of food for the trip. NASA—which plans to send people to Mars within 2 decades—could stuff a spacecraft with prepackaged meals and launch additional supplies to the Red Planet in advance for the voyage home. But even that wouldn’t completely solve the problem…
…Robert Jinkerson, a chemical engineer at the University of California (UC), Riverside, thinks the answer is for astronauts to grow their own on-board garden—in the dark, with plant growth fueled by artificial nutrients rather than sunlight. It won’t be easy; after all, plants evolved for hundreds of millions of years to extract energy from sunlight. But Jinkerson believes it can be done by reawakening metabolic pathways plants already possess—the same ones that power the germination of seeds buried in the ground and then shut off once a seedling’s leaves start to reach for the Sun. In his vision of the future, electricity from solar panels could transform water and carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaled by a spacecraft’s crew into simple, energy-rich hydrocarbons that genetically modified plants could use to grow—even in the darkness of space or the dim light on Mars, which receives less than half as much sunlight as Earth….
(14) TRAILER PROMOTING BOOK ABOUT FURRIES. Furry Planet: A World Gone Wild by Joe Strike covers a lot of ground.
From a veteran furry comes an immersive entry into the world of furries and furry fandom, with a colorful look at an amazing subculture, the timeless human instinct to identify with animals, and a wealth of photos and illustrations showcasing fursuits and furry art. Furries are the creative subculture of people who identify with animals. You can find them at furry conventions, furfests, worldwide—tens of thousands of people donning their most elaborate fursuit. In costume, at conventions, with friends or alone, furries unleash the animal within, letting their inner beasts roar and their inner cats purr, aware of the power—and joy—to be found in connecting with one’s animal side and encouraging others to do the same. In Furry Planet, long-time furry and a media staple for commentary on the culture, Joe Strike—a certified “greymuzzle,” as older furries are known—dives deep into this compelling subculture to share its appeal and rewards. Strike addresses stigmas and misconceptions head on and traces the history of the culture from forty thousand-year-old lion-man figurines through sixteenth-century legends of monkey kings to modern day television and movies starring anthropomorphized animals living human lives. He shares how furry fandom began in the United States but has spread across the globe and delves deep into the various iterations of the culture today, in the process covering events, media, art, storytelling, community resources, costume creation, and advice for newcomers. An unprecedented in-depth look at this intriguing, offbeat world, Furry Planet is complemented by colorful images throughout and is sure to inform and excite fans of the culture, as well as anyone who has ever been curious about it. Inside you’ll find: Insight into the natural impulse to anthropomorphize animals and the joys of furry culture A fascinating history of furry culture A thorough guide to furry conventions, fursuit costume creation, and resources for furries A wealth of colorful photographs from furfests and of superb fursuits Gorgeous furry artwork Much more!
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In 2020, The Late Late Show with James Corden brought us “Marvel’s Mrs. Maisel: Rachel Brosnahan Enters the Marvel Universe”.
James Corden and Rachel Brosnahan look back on their attempt to bring Midge Maisel into the Marvel Universe. Memories of the chemistry between Thanos and Midge have us all wondering how the mashup never made the screen.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Cathy Green, Daniel Dern, Gordon Van Gelder, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]