Pixel Scroll 11/27/22 A Long Time Ago, When Pixels Scrolled The Earth, A Filer Was Climbing Mount Tsundoku

(1) BROADCAST MUSIC. Rolling Stone assures us these are the 100 “Best TV Theme Songs of All Time”.

WE APOLOGIZE IN advance for all the TV theme songs we are about to lodge back into your heads. Or maybe we should preemptively accept your thanks?

Despite periodic attempts to contract or outright eliminate them, theme songs are a crucial part of the TV-watching experience. The best ones put you in the right mindset to watch each episode of your favorite, and can be just as entertaining in their own right as any great joke, monologue, or action sequence. So we’ve decided to pick the 100 best theme songs of all time — technically 101, since there are two as inextricably linked as peanut butter and jelly — and attempted to rank them in order of greatness….

John King Tarpinian has scouted ahead and says these numbers are genre: 77, 75, 65, 54, 42, 39, 33, 29, 24, 18, 17, 11, 06.

The highest sf TV show theme is from The Twilight Zone. It lodges at number six between the themes from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Speaking of number six – I’m shocked to learn that the theme from The Prisoner is not on the list at all.)

P.S. I’m sure John would want me to mention that the theme from Rachel Bloom’s TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is even higher, at number four.

(2) BEYOND GOOSEBUMPS. LA Review of Books hosts ”Stine Still Scares: A Conversation with R. L. Stine”.

DANIELLE HAYDEN: So, could you please tell me a little more about the upcoming comic series, Stuff of Nightmares? And I know some of your earliest work was comics. So how does that feel?

R. L. STINE: Well, yeah, when I was nine, I did comics.

Well, yes, I just mean, like, kind of, full circle now.

You know, I’m having a lot of fun. I’m working with BOOM! Studios in Los Angeles. And I did a series of comic books for them called Just Beyond, which was sort of Twilight Zone for kids. And it became a Disney+ series. We had eight episodes. That was fun. Now I’m doing this for adults; I’m actually writing something for grown-ups. And it’s really gruesome stuff. It’s like my version of Frankenstein. And so, I’m having fun with it. Comic books are fun to write. Forces me to be more visual, you know?…

(3) CSSF VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB. The next title in the Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club is Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria. This debut novel about a merchant’s journey to the distant land of Olondria where he finds himself haunted by a mysterious force is the 2014 winner of the World Fantasy Award. 

…We hope it’ll be a wonderful read for folks who have ever been “the new person,” or experience homesickness or wanderlust.

Join them on December 16 at noon (Central Time) for our virtual meeting. Register here. Also, this programming is running all year, click here to see what’s in the Book Club’s future.

(4) THE WORDS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING. Today I learned that Chris Weber published Sentient Chili and Stranger Filk: Lyrics to 107 Songs of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fandom this summer. Good work!

“Filk” is the term applied to the fan music of science fiction and fantasy. Readers and viewers of the genre will find familiar faces and tales. These lyrics cover topics from movies and television to books and original stories. Much of the collection leans towards humor, while touching other emotional chords as well. The stanzas have the feel of ’80s nostalgia but are not exclusively from that era.

The collection is like the contents of the proverbial box of chocolates, bite-sized and filled with surprises.

(5) IGLESIAS INTERVIEW. “Three Questions for Gabino Iglesias Regarding His Novel ‘The Devil Takes You Home’” at LA Review of Books.

DANIEL A. OLIVAS: The hero (or antihero, if you will) of The Devil Takes You Home is a man who has suffered unspeakable personal loss, not to mention a self-inflicted rupture in his marriage. He feels deep remorse and guilt, yet he is hopeful that one big score will restore some of what he’s lost. Could you talk about how you created Mario and what you wanted to explore through his journey?

GABINO IGLESIAS: One of the things I love the most about horror and crime fiction is that both genres share a heart: at their core are good people who are thrown into bad situations. Mario is all of us — far from perfect but not bad. He’s desperate and the system doesn’t offer him many options. Most people know what that feels like. I wrote about 45,000 words of The Devil Takes You Home while writing for various venues, teaching high school full-time, and teaching an MFA course at SNHU at night. Then I lost the high school teaching gig and my health insurance along with it, and this happened in June 2020, just as the pandemic was raging. I would read about people getting sick and then receiving astronomical medical bills. I was angry and worried, and I injected all of that into Mario. Hopefully that will make him resonate with people, especially with those who understand that good people sometimes do awful things for all the right reasons.

(6) BOOGIEPOP. The second episode of the Animation Explorations Podcast is “Boogiepop & Others (2019) – Breaking it all Down”.

This month, David, Tora, and Alexander Case look at the 2019 adaptation of the successful adaptation of some of the Boogiepop light novels

(7) GOING BACK TO WAKANDA. “Ryan Coogler talks Black Panther sequel ‘Wakanda Forever’” at NPR.

…The film has clearly touched a chord with audiences. It’s already earned more than $300 million in the U.S. and is expected to top the Thanksgiving weekend box office. So we wanted to talk with director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. He says the film, although about grief, shows the sort of rebirth that occurs in the face of insurmountable loss. And he began by telling me what it was like to reimagine the film’s story, which had already been written before Boseman died.

RYAN COOGLER: It was really complicated. It was difficult technically, because Joe and I had a lot of work to do to figure out what this new movie would be without him and without the character. But it was also complicated because me and everybody involved were navigating our own emotional journey, how to deal with losing our friend. So it was admittedly like the most difficult professional thing I’ve ever done and probably the most difficult personally as well….

(8) MAGNIFYING SMALL PRESS PUBLISHING. Cora Buhlert posted “Small Press – Big Stories: Some of Cora’s Favourite Small Press SFF Books of 2022”, an overview done as part of Matt Cavanaugh’s project to highlight small press SFF. First on Cora’s list:

Mage of Fools by Eugen Bacon

African-Australian writer Eugen Bacon is clearly a rising star in our genre. Yet the first time I heard of her was, when I was asked to feature her novel Claiming T-Mo, published by Meerkat Press, at the Speculative Fiction Showcase back in 2019.

Eugen Bacon’s latest release is Mage of Fools, also published by the good folks of Meerkat Press. Mage of Fools is a unique science fantasy tale set in the dystopian world of Mafinga, a polluted hellhole where books, reading and imagination are forbidden by law. Protagonist Jasmin is a widowed mother of two young children as well as the owner of a forbidden story machine. Possessing such a machine is punishable by death and when Jasmin’s story machine is discovered, she faces execution. However, she gets a temporary reprieve… for a terrible price. Because the queen of Mafinga, who cannot have children of her own, wants Jasmin’s children…

Mage of Fools is a great SFF novel, that manages to be both grim and hopeful at the same time. And since Eugen Bacon is also a poet, the novel is beautifully written as well.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderland

I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.) — Orient in Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands

One of my frequently re-read novels is this one. It’s a comfort read in every meaning of that word. And yes, I do have a personally signed as I do of Bone Dance as well. Of course they’re on the chocolate gifting list.

Emma released this novel on Tor twenty-eight years ago. It’s one of three novels done on the shared world created by Terri Windling, a ruined city sharing a Border with the Fey. Most of the fiction here is short stories, novellas and poetry. This novel and two done by her husband, Will Shetterly, Elsewhere and Nevernever, are the only novels done. His are also excellent.

So why do I like her novel so much that I’ve read it at least a dozen times?

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. REALLY THEY DO. GO GET A DRINK IN THE DANCING FERRET.

First, it has a first-person narrator in Orient, a young male, who has the psychic ability to find anything if the right question is asked. So when his elf friend, Tick Tock, asks him to find her missing wrench in exchange for supper, little does he know that his life will become the whim of others. There are plenty of characters, all well-fleshed out, and all moving the story along.

Second, it has a compelling story weaving two apparently disparate plots that are here into a single thread that makes perfect sense. And Emma pulls no punches; bad things will happen to folks no matter how central they are to the story including what happens TO Tick Tock which made me cry. A lot of story get packed into its just over three hundred pages and it moves smartly along.

Third, Emma does the best job in this long running series of making the central setting (naturally called Bordertown) feel as if it were an actual place, a neat trick as too many such places feel not quite real. The short stories quite frankly fail at doing this as they focus more on making the characters be Really Cool.

Everything here really does feel as if you could walk down Mock Avenue, have a drink in the Dancing Ferret, and hear the Horn Dance perform as they came down the street on their magic fuelled wheeled motorcycles.

COME BACK NOW, THE HORN DANCE HAS LEFT FOR NOW.

If you like this, I suggest the newest anthology, Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands, which Holly Black and Ellen Kushner edited a decade or so back, is well worth your time as are the older anthologies. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 27, 1907 L. Sprague de CampThe Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon 2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willy Ley. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 27, 1935 Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series.  Wiki has her script editing and appearing in a fan-made episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006, which is notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the granddaughter of the First Doctor. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 27, 1940 Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
  • Born November 27, 1951 Melinda M. Snodgrass, 71. She wrote several episodes of Next Generation while serving as the story editor during its second and third seasons. She also wrote scripts for SlidersStrange LuckBeyond RealityOdyssey 5, Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV. She’s a co-editor of and frequent story contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.
  • Born November 27, 1957 Michael A. Stackpole, 65. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
  • Born November 27, 1961 Samantha Bond, 61. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. 
  • Born November 27, 1974 Jennifer O’Dell, 48. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield but nothing major.

(11) BOOP BOOP A DOOP. ScreenRant knows this question has been on your mind: “How Does Luke Skywalker Understand What R2-D2 Says In Star Wars?”

In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 have several interactions together, but it’s not entirely clear how the Jedi learned to understand what the astromech droid is saying. Droids have always been a key component of the Star Wars franchise, with some of them being so intelligent they can speak multiple languages, such as R2’s companion, protocol droid C-3PO. Artoo, however, has only ever spoken in the default droid language known as “Binary,” which contains a mixture of whistles, chirps, and beeps, both loud and quiet…. 

(12) KSR DROPPING. A little credit gets directed at Kim Stanley Robinson in the New York Times’ article “Douglas Brinkley Would Like to Invite Thoreau to Dinner”.

The historian, whose new book is “Silent Spring Revolution,” would also invite E.O. Wilson and Rachel Carson: “We could talk about the 11,000 bird species the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is helping to conserve in the face of climate change.”

What’s the last great book you read?

During the pandemic I was transfixed by George R. Stewart’s “Earth Abides,” perhaps the most frightening doomsday thriller of all time. Most of American civilization collapses because of a strange disease, but a Berkeley ecologist is one of the rare survivors of the epidemic. Stewart wrote the book about 75 years ago, but his description of empty cities and the power of nature unleashed seem very contemporary in a world of Covid and climate change. It holds up well, and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a fine introduction for the 2020 edition.

(13) BANG BANG. “San Francisco police consider letting robots use ‘deadly force’” reports The Verge.

…As reported by Mission Local, members of the city’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee have been reviewing the new equipment policy for several weeks. The original version of the draft didn’t include any language surrounding robots’ use of deadly force until Aaron Peskin, the Dean of the city’s Board of Supervisors, initially added that “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person.”

However, the SFPD returned the draft with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with the line that gives robots the authority to kill suspects. According to Mission Local, Peskin eventually decided to accept the change because “there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.” San Francisco’s rules committee unanimously approved a version of the draft last week, which will face the Board of Supervisors on November 29th….

(14) INSTANT MUSIC VIDEO. Boing Boing told readers that “Gifaanisqatsi generates Koyaanisqatsi-style montages with random GIFs and sets them to Philip Glass’s looming score” – and what they’d like to see next.

Gifaanisqatsi is outstanding. Click it and off it goes, grabbing random GIFs and setting them, with a little treatment (such as time-lapse and slow-mo) to Philip Glass’s score to Koyaanisqatsi. The result is comically nihilistic, confirming both the trivial universality of the movie’s sentiments and that the sense of the awe commanded by the filmic tone poem format is now available at zero marginal cost.

Suggestion: a “Qataaniskoysi” option that restricts the GIFs in use to cats.

(15) FEEL FREE TO LOOK OUT THE WINDOW. “See the Far Side of the Moon: Incredibly Detailed Pictures From Artemis I Orion Close Lunar Flyby” at SciTech Daily.

…On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moonpassing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

2020 Horror Writers Association Awards Diversity Grants

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced the recipients of the 2020 HWA Diversity Grants.

The grants were created because “The Horror Writers Association believes barriers—often unseen but very real—exist which limit the amount of horror fiction being published by diverse voices. The goal of these Grants is to help remove some of the barriers and let those voices be heard.” They are open to “underrepresented, diverse people who have an interest in the horror writing genre, including, but not limited to writers, editors, reviewers, and library workers. Like the Diverse Works Inclusion Committee, the Diversity Grants have adopted the broadest definition of the word diversity to include, but not limited to, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabled, and neurodiverse.”

Supported by NoveListLibraryReadsARRT, and RA for All, each 2020 Grant is worth $500 and may be spent on approved expenses for a period of two years following the awarding of the Grant.

The 2020 grant recipients are —

Jacqueline Dyre (they/them) is the editor and publisher of Novel Noctule. You can find them in the sunshine state, drinking poorly-made coffee and consuming psychological horror in lieu of meals.

Jacqueline Dyre 

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (he/him) is a Nigerian speculative fiction writer, slush reader and editor. He has been awarded an honourable mention in the L Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, twice and won the Nommo award for best short story by an African with his short story The Witching Hour. He has been published in the Selene QuarterlyStrange HorizonsTorOmenana Magazine and other venues, and has works forthcoming in several anthologies and magazines. He has co-edited several publications, including the Dominion Anthology (2020), the Best of African Speculative Fiction Anthology and the Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology, forthcoming in 2021. He is a first reader in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and a member of the African Speculative Fiction Society, Horror Writers Association, Codex, BSFA, BFA, and the SFWA.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Sumiko Saulson (they/them) is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Ze is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic WomenScry of LustBlack Celebration, and Wickedly Abled. Ze is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”

Ze has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco BayView. Ze is the host of the SOMA Leather and LGBT Cultural District’s “Erotic Storytelling Hour.”

Sumiko Saulson

Nicole Givens Kurtz (she/her) is an author, editor, and educator. She’s a member of Horror Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and Science Fiction Writers of America. She’s the editor of the groundbreaking Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. She’s written for White Wolf, Bram Stoker Finalist in Horror Anthology: Sycorax’s Daughters, and Serial Box’s The Vela: Salvation series. Nicole has over 40 short stories published as well as 11 novels and three active speculative mystery series. You can support her work via Patreon and find more about her at http://www.nicolegivenskurtz.net.

Nicole Givens Kurtz (

Tejaswi Priyadarshi (he/him) is a dreamer in the horror/thriller genre. He derives inspiration from Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, Takashi Miike, Alexandre Aja, Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino, and the Ramsay Brothers.

His first book The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover was India’s first splatterpunk novel. It was released in July 2020, and has since remained on multiple bestselling charts, scaling its way up to be Amazon India’s highest rated Horror Thriller with 175+ ratings.

He is currently working on his second novel, trying to amalgamate Horror, Crime, Thriller, and Social Satire. You can often find him writing fiction at a bar counter, appreciating Independent Pop music gigs, and holding screenings of all sub-genres of horror/thrillers. However, nobody knows why he adamantly screens Purani Haveli so often. Email him at [email protected] if you want to discuss anything under the sun; “How to Prep for a Zombie Apocalypse” is his favorite topic, because, what if!

Tejaswi Priyadarshi 

Gabino Iglesias (he/him) is a writer, editor, professor, and book critic living in Austin, TX. He is the author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs and the editor of Both Sides. His work has been nominated to the Bram Stoker and Locus awards and won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. His fiction has been published in five languages and optioned for film. His reviews appear in places like NPRPublishers Weekly, the San Francisco ChronicleCriminal Element, Mystery Tribune, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other venues. He’s been a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards twice and has judged the PANK Big Book Contest, the Splatterpunk Awards, the horror category of the British Fantasy Awards, and the Newfound Prose Prize. He teaches creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University’s online MFA program and runs a series of low-cost online writing workshops. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.

Gabino Iglesias

ChiZine Publications Resurfaces

When ChiZine Publications announced six new titles for Fall/Winter 2020 on September 21, the attention drawn to their website led to the discovery CZP is still promoting itself with testimonials by authors who repudiated them a year ago.

Here’s a screencap from the site’s About CZP page quoting Gabino Iglesias:

When informed, Gabino Iglesias tweeted:

For his updated opinion of the publisher Iglesias referred people to his 2019 post “Chizine Fucked Up, But They’re The Tip Of The Iceberg”.

Sandra Ruttan observed, “ChiZine quoting authors from before the issues is disgusting-they’re making it look like they’re supported by people who called them out.”

Last November there was a flurry of complaints from writers about ChiZine Publications, the Canadian horror publisher run by Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory, for slow payment and nonpayment, accusations of bullying and blackballing an author who complained, and about remarks made by some individuals associated with CZP of a sexist and racist nature. And the initial wave of complaints stirred even more authors and publishing professionals to come forward and tell about their own toxic experiences at the hands of CZP, or to confirm what others had already said.

Various writers have tweeted new warnings about the publisher, the most pungent of which comes from Brian Keene:

Writers and Staffers Share More Bad Experiences with ChiZine Publications

Following yesterday’s initial wave of allegations about ChiZine Publications, the Canadian horror publisher run by Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory, more authors and publishing professionals have come forward to tell about their own toxic experiences at the hands of CZP, or to confirm what others have already said.

Note that most of the following items are excerpts — in most cases there is substantially more to read at the link.

Michael Patrick Hicks collates the many testimonies already made public in his thorough summary “Controversy Erupts Around ChiZine Publications” at High Fever Books.

In what appears to be a mass exodus from ChiZine Publications following the flood of recent allegations, a number of authors have begun requesting the rights to their works be reverted, effectively ending the publication of their materials through this publisher. I have received word from other authors, who shall remain anonymous, that they are currently seeking the cancellation of their contracts, as well.

Gabino Iglesias analyzes why this went on so long in a lengthy commentary at Horror DNA, “CHIZINE FUCKED UP, BUT THEY’RE THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG”.

… What most people don’t understand about the small press world is that we all more or less know each other. Also, sadly, the small press world is a place in which irregular payments, and sometimes no payments at all, are things that happen way too often. Writers love to see their name on book covers, but sometimes the price the pay to do so with what they consider a good press is not worth the pain that comes attached to it.

…The small press world needs to understand the following (especially those entering it as new writers): publishers need to certain things and not doing those things should immediately make them shut their doors. Here’s what publishers need to do:

  • Edit work to make it better.
  • Give books great covers.
  • Make sure the layout is professional.
  • Support writers.
  • Pay royalties.
  • Try to sell books.
  • Communicate effectively.

If you can’t do one of these, quit being a publisher. It’s that simple. Not paying writers is bullshit. It shouldn’t even be part of the conversation. Also, if you can’t pay for professional editing or covers, you have no business being a publisher.

Michael Matheson offers a look under the hood at CZP in their latest Facebook post.  This excerpt is followed by even more financial information and history:

It’s been interesting to see in conversations around the CZP fallout, in a conversation that has been in many ways about numbers, a lack of the numbers themeslves. And I get why from authors, but for the people defending the press talking about how the amounts weren’t enough for people to be fighting over/blasting the press for, that’s an interesting argument. But I tell you what, let’s flip that argument on its head:

The numbers are not high enough that paying them should have been a problem, if the press’s finances had been in good order, or well handled. How do I know this? Because I know the numbers from the back end. So let’s talk about those, and a little bit of poor financial management as well while we’re on the topic so everyone can understand why this all fell apart so spectacularly (and had been destined to do so from pretty much day one):

When I was working for CZP their general advance rate was $300-$500, scaling up (in rare instances) to $1500 for authors who had been published with them mutiple times. I can think of one instance involving a $3,000 advance to a ChiGraphic title, which had been argued down from the far more the artist (rightly) thought was due for the work. It’s possible they’ve upped those rates in the intervening years, but I doubt it.

Producing 10-15 books a year at those rates is entirely doable if you’re a small press with good budgeting and arts council support (project-based or through block funding). Where CZP screwed themselves was thinking that exploding their production schedule up to 30 books a year across multiple lines was going to explode their sales as well and take them from a small press to a medium-size press. And thus get them better visibility, better chances at getting funding, better audience sales penetration.

But as most publishers will tell you, trying to shore up failing revenue by *expanding* your production schedule in a bid to rapidly build your audience is … not a good idea….

Nicholas Kaufmann tells Facebook readers why he believes what people are saying about CZP.

I believe these stories for two reasons. First, because as a ChiZine author myself I had to actively chase down every royalty statement and payment I received from them in recent years. If I hadn’t, I know I would not have seen a cent, like the many other ChiZine authors who didn’t receive statements or royalties for years. Second, because I witnessed the badmouthing myself, firsthand. At Necon in 2018, I overheard Sandra complain to a new ChiZine author about an older ChiZine author who had dared to ask her where their royalty statements were. To me, the message she was sending the new author was clear: Never ask me about missing statements. Never ask me about the money you’re owed.

This was confusing and disappointing, because I had been friends with Brett and Sandra since the early 2000s. Good friends. I loved them. I was happy to be one of the first ChiZine Publications authors, and I was proud of my novella CHASING THE DRAGON.

Still, I quietly began to warn authors who asked me about working with ChiZine. I told them if they published with ChiZine they were going to have to chase down every cent that was owed them or they would never see it. I listened sympathetically to friends who had not seen a royalty statement or check from ChiZine in 3 years, 5 years, more. But that was the extent of it until what happened with Ed. I suppose I can say now publicly, for the first time, that I was one of the unnamed authors who went with Ed to the HWA Grievance Committee and shared my story with them. The letter Lisa Morton sent ChiZine must have scared them, because suddenly I and other authors got paid right away.

But then the stories came out yesterday. All those stories. I grew confused and disappointed again, but also angry. I could not in good conscience remain a ChiZine author after hearing about the way they treated other writers and their employees. Last night I asked for my rights back for CHASING THE DRAGON, and this morning they agreed to revert them immediately. I

Bracken MacLeod seconded Kaufman’s comments, on Facebook.

Like Nicholas Kaufmann (and others who I won’t name without their permission), I was one of the writers who lined up behind Ed Kurtz when he went to the HWA for payment of back royalties from ChiZine Publications. He was successful and a bunch of us (but I found out later NOT ALL of us), including me, got paid. We received an accounting statement and a check and a promise to make further remissions in the Spring of 2019 (which never came). At that time, I applied a maxim I used to live by as a litigator: when you’ve won, you can stop fighting. I stepped back and returned to my professional life as usual.

That was the wrong thing to do….

When I heard about the lunch conversation where authors who made a fuss about getting paid by their publisher were called “cunts” and “dead wood” (I wasn’t there and only heard about it later) I was aghast and chose at that time to begin to distance myself socially from ChiZine. Instead, I should’ve stood up, for Ed and the rest of us who said we were behind him but didn’t have the same bullseye on our backs.

For that shameful silence, I am truly sorry.

I think it is important to say, first, I have pulled my contribution from The War on Christmas anthology, and second, this morning I asked for my rights to my short story collection, 13 Views of the Suicide Woods, back from ChiZine….

Beverly Bambury said in a note to File 770, “I posted my own story today, which is pretty egregious. It involves marital interference on top of the professional abuse.” See her complete statement on Facebook.

…I loved working with the authors in the CZP fold, the bloggers and reviewers, and the local Toronto-area community. Publicity was the perfect fit for my personality and I seemed to be thriving to all outside observers, but increasingly I was dealing with destabilizing, gaslighting behaviour behind the scenes.

… I forget the date and how it fits into things on the timeline, but my husband and I were having some troubles, as many marriages do, and even though things were bad with Sandra and Brett and me, in a moment of weakness and feeling isolated, I confessed the struggle I was having to Sandra. She can seem so warm when it suits her. She hugged me and comforted me and I thought maybe things might be OK. I feel stupid and pathetic when I remember this now, because I feel I should have known better after everything that transpired.

Not much later, CZP author and very close confidant to Sandra, Michael Rowe, took my husband out to lunch and tried to get him to say bad things about me. My husband says Rowe turned the conversation towards this multiple times. My husband did not let the conversation go that way, naturally. It was very odd. Later I heard from a very trusted source that Sandra, Brett, Michael and others would sit around and talk about what a terrible person I was, and try to plot to destroy my marriage and who they could hook my husband up with — so they could “keep” my husband but get rid of me. They said I was ruining his life.

Sandra shared my pain with others who then used it to betray me and try to further undermine my life. Think about it. They laughed at and enjoyed my pain and plotted to make it worse….

Samantha Mary Beiko worked for ChiZine Publications from 2010-2018 in increasingly responsible positions. Beiko outlines that history, the problems, and why she left in her post on Facebook.

… We spent hours in the car together. I felt the joy in abundance in the community that I felt proud to be a part of. Proud of building. I have often been looked over in my life, but my work with CZP gave me a voice, gave me insight, taught me things I could pass on to other authors, like I became. Brett and Sandra celebrated my successes as if they were proud parents. They sought out opportunities for me. I stayed at their home sometimes for days on end. I got to know their cats. We grieved together over past despairs. We looked to the future and got excited about things. I have such beautiful memories of meals made for me and shared, of baking giant cakes, of oatmeal in the morning with Brett, of going to pick up fresh books from the printer, of extended inside jokes.

They included me in their lives. They called me their daughter. They loved me. I still believe it.

… By the end of 2017, it was apparent this wasn’t sustainable, and I needed to take a step back due to my own author promotion work. Also by this point, I’d about had it with being ‘on call,’ staying up all hours, and devoting my heart and soul into a company where I had no control, little input, and how easily all my planning could be railroaded. At one point, we were 6-12 months ahead of schedule on production. That was all undone when Sandra couldn’t get to looking over the books in a timely fashion. And by this point, authors were asking me about royalties. And I was trying to get them their royalty reports. But it was constantly shoved to the back burner when I brought it up with Sandra. And I couldn’t access them myself. And I was told to tell everyone they’d ‘be coming.’ These reports, like my income, was late. As you’ve likely read elsewhere.

I set hours. I wouldn’t answer emails after 5pm. They didn’t like that. I told them they needed to get things in to me with more than 24hr notice. They didn’t like that either. Soon, when I kept following up to be paid promptly, the narrative became: we are strapped for money Sam. You know we are. Why would you demand this of us? Aren’t we family? Don’t you know that paying you puts a huge strain on us?

Remember that they offered to pay ME a wage. And I accepted it after years of having…no wage.

It came to a head when I simply couldn’t do what I had been doing for 7 years. I watched them eviscerate people’s reputations and realized, no matter what, that was more of an inevitability for me, and that I was fine with it. And by this time, I felt more confident in my skills and credibility so…I no longer cared. I was hurting. It needed to stop. I laid out my grievances in a very detailed email: the late nights. The poor wages. The late payments. How much blood and sweat and lots, AND LOTS of tears, I had put into working for them, and all I really wanted in the end was respect. That yes, they’d given me a lot, but my loyalty needed to be earned, and I no longer felt it was.

Sandra told me that the reason they were ‘going bankrupt’ was because of me. That I was the reason authors, printers, etc., were not being paid on time. Because they were paying me to keep things going.

When I left, this is how they spoke of me in the community. Community members told me this. And honestly? I’m not surprised. I’m sure they said worse…

John Goodrich confirms some of the negative statements that CZP co-publisher Sandra Kasturi allegedly made at NECON in a Facebook post.

…At the NECON 39 Saturday lunch break, I was sitting near Sandra. There were people around me, but I couldn’t name them now. Brett was not there. She said that Chizine would soon be getting rid of their quote deadwood, referring to their underperforming authors, and that the people who were talking about non-payment were all, and I quote again, cunts. No names were mentioned, but I’d heard some of the accusations of non-payment. I don’t remember anyone replying, but I was pretty shocked, and didn’t participate in the conversation myself.

Subsequently, I spoke with a couple of authors who Brett and Sandra had published, including one who had a book published by Chizine ten years ago. I haven’t asked if I can publicly share their stories, so I won’t share their names. But both confirmed that they’d never been paid by Chizine, and had given up on the idea of ever seeing money from them.

I share this story because I do not want to see more people get ripped off. I believe those authors.

NECON, having read about one of the things that happened at their event, have issued “AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE NORTHEASTERN WRITERS’ CONFERENCE”.  

Like many in the horror community, we have been shocked and saddened this week by the news centered around ChiZine Publications. While the events that occurred during last year’s Necon seem like just the tip of the iceberg, we feel we have an obligation to address them.

Necon expects all of our Campers, including publishers who attend and vend at our convention, to conduct themselves to the highest standards of professional behavior. We have verified from multiple independent sources that such was not the case at Necon 39. Simply put, it is unacceptable for any Camper to ever feel bullied, shunned, or unwelcome at Necon. As such, we’d like to offer a sincere apology to Ed Kurtz — Ed, we are terribly sorry for what you experienced last summer.

To quote Ed’s statement on the matter, we can all do better. We give you all our word that we’re sure as hell going to try.

More developments:

Pixel Scroll 9/17/17 You Cannot Move This Pixel. It Is Still Used By A Scroll On Your Computer

(1) JUST DESERTS. Will Collins describes a little-known influence on Frank Herbert’s Dune, in “The Secret History of Dune” at LA Review of Books.

Melange, the hallucinogenic drug at the heart of Herbert’s book, acts as a prerequisite for interstellar travel and can only be obtained on one harsh, desert planet populated by tribes of warlike nomads. Even a casual political observer will recognize the parallels between the universe of Dune and the Middle East of the late 20th century. Islamic theology, mysticism, and the history of the Arab world clearly influenced Dune, but part of Herbert’s genius lay in his willingness to reach for more idiosyncratic sources of inspiration. The Sabres of Paradise (1960) served as one of those sources, a half-forgotten masterpiece of narrative history recounting a mid-19th century Islamic holy war against Russian imperialism in the Caucasus.

Lesley Blanch, the book’s author, has a memorable biography. A British travel writer of some renown, she is perhaps best known for On the Wilder Shores of Love (1954), an account of the romantic adventures of four British women in the Middle East. She was also a seasoned traveler, a keen observer of Middle Eastern politics and culture, and a passionate Russophile. She called The Sabres of Paradise “the book I was meant to do in my life,” and the novel offers the magnificent, overstuffed account of Imam Shamyl, “The Lion of Dagestan,” and his decades-long struggle against Russian encroachment.

Anyone who has obsessed over the mythology of Dune will immediately recognize the language Herbert borrowed from Blanch’s work.

(2) THE STORY THAT KEEPS ON GIVING. Pajiba’s Kayleigh Donaldson is still hot on the trail of the fake bestseller: “The ‘Handbook For Mortals’ Saga Continues As Lani Sarem Goes On The No Apologies Tour”.

Remember Handbook For Mortals, the urban fantasy novel about magic in Las Vegas that catapulted out of nowhere to take the top spot on the New York Times best-seller list? We thoroughly documented the torrid tale of Lani Sarem’s debut novel, which gamed the system through bulk purchases in order to debut at number 1 on the YA list, knocking off Angie Thomas’s mega-hit The Hate U Give. It had everything – scams, Carrot Top, Blues Traveller, Glory from Buffy, the guy from Rookie of the Year, an in development film adaptation with the author set to play the lead role, art theft, and Jasper from Twilight. It was such a fascinatingly layered scam that even the author of the worst fan-fiction of all time came forward to deny any involvement with it.

The book is no longer on the list, and clearly that’s upset Sarem and her team. While GeekNation, the near abandoned geek news website who published the novel, have been silent on the subject, Sarem has gone into PR overdrive to try and scrape together a semblance of goodwill after angering YA fans, the publishing community and John Popper himself. First, the music manager turned author wrote a piece for Billboard. You know, that bastion of publishing, where she defended her actions. Now she’s over at the Huffington Post doing the same….

(3) LOSING A LANDMARK. More coverage about the closing of a historic bookshop (the story is from July): “After 41 years, Berkeley sci-fi bookstore Dark Carnival is closing”.

“Passion or mania would certainly have played a factor,” he wrote. “One long-time friend described him as a ‘business genius,’ though I felt that, due to the nature of small bookstore business, he was actually more adept at responding to crises (financial) which regularly crept up on him.”

Juricich continued: “It was probably the best stocked, most complete store for sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery fiction in most of California, though The Other Change of Hobbit might have given it a run for its money before it, too, finally closed some years ago. I’m sad for the loss of the store to the community and no one could ever blame Jack for not having applied his intelligence and passion to its continued survival, but, much like the business of comic book retail, selling reading matter is an uphill climb.”

As Juricich points out, running a brick-and-mortar bookstore, or indeed any retail business, in the age of Amazon is notoriously tough, and it’s not the first time Rems has struggled with Dark Carnival. In December 2013, he put out a public plea to the community, writing: “No other way to say this. We need your help. To our staunch supporters: it’s thanks to all of you that we’re still here. Please, if you have any shopping to do, now and for the holidays, do some of it here… P.S.: If you’re broke, and believe me I understand, please come in anyway, say hi, hang out, I’ll give you something good to read, no charge.”

(4) NIGHT OF THE LIVING AUTHORS. Jeff VanderMeer told Facebook readers about his nightmare:

I had this horrible dream last night that I was the host of the World Fantasy Award ceremony, but this was sometime in the future when there were 1,200 categories instead of the dozen or so there are now. And the banquet hall was so huge and I had no assistant, so I had to ride a tiny tricycle (!?) to the back of the hall each time before announcing a winner….

And it gets worse/funnier after that.

(5) LIVE FROM NEW ZEALAND. Well, it was a live performance – now hear Seanan McGuire’s LexiCon concert online.

Did you miss Seanan McGuire’s concert on Saturday night – or enjoy it so much you want to listen again? We recorded it for you and it’s now on YouTube! You can hear Seanan – accompanied by local fans Daphne Lawless of Vostok Lake and Alastair Gibson.

 

(6) ABOUT THOSE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS. In From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars),  Random House Audio Publishing invites fans to “experience Star Wars: A New Hope from a different point of view.” All participating authors have donated their proceeds to charity.

On May 25, 1977, the world was introduced to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and a galaxy full of possibilities. In honor of the fortieth anniversary, more than forty contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the forty short stories reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from the literary history of Star Wars:

  • Gary Whitta bridges the gap from Rogue One to A New Hope through the eyes of Captain Antilles.
  • Aunt Beru finds her voice in an intimate character study by Meg Cabot.
  • Nnedi Okorofor brings dignity and depth to a most unlikely character: the monster in the trash compactor.
  • Pablo Hidalgo provides a chilling glimpse inside the mind of Grand Moff Tarkin.
  • Pierce Brown chronicles Biggs Darklighter’s final flight during the Rebellion’s harrowing attack on the Death Star.
  • Wil Wheaton spins a poignant tale of the rebels left behind on Yavin.

Plus thirty-four more hilarious, heartbreaking, and astonishing tales from: Ben Acker • Renée Ahdieh • Tom Angleberger • Ben Blacker • Jeffrey Brown • Rae Carson • Adam Christopher • Zoraida Córdova • Delilah S. Dawson • Kelly Sue DeConnick • Paul Dini • Ian Doescher • Ashley Eckstein • Matt Fraction • Alexander Freed • Jason Fry • Kieron Gillen • Christie Golden • Claudia Gray • E. K. Johnston • Paul S. Kemp • Mur Lafferty • Ken Liu • Griffin McElroy • John Jackson Miller • Daniel José Older • Mallory Ortberg • Beth Revis • Madeleine Roux • Greg Rucka • Gary D. Schmidt • Cavan Scott • Charles Soule • Sabaa Tahir • Elizabeth Wein • Glen Weldon • Chuck Wendig

Narrated by a full cast, including: Jonathan Davis, Ashley Eckstein, Janina Gavankar, Jon Hamm, Neil Patrick Harris, January LaVoy, Saskia Maarleveld, Carol Monda, Daniel José Older, and Marc Thompson.

All participating authors have generously forgone any compensation for their stories. Instead, their proceeds will be donated to First Book—a leading nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. To further celebrate the launch of this book and both companies’ longstanding relationships with First Book, Penguin Random House has donated $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm has donated 100,000 children’s books—valued at $1,000,000—to support First Book and their mission of providing equal access to quality education. Over the past sixteen years, Disney and Penguin Random House combined have donated more than eighty-eight million books to First Book.

And the contributors have been hyping the book with designer pull quotes.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 17, 1978 — The original Battlestar Galactica premiered on television on this date.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) PAY TO PLAY. Gabino Iglesias, in “Submission Fees are Classist as Fuck”, delivers an invigorating rant, but it’s just as full of holes as the cases he’s criticizing.

  1. “It’s really about gatekeeping”

If you don’t want to read bad fiction/nonfiction/poetry, don’t edit a book/magazine/blog/journal. Bad writing is to the writing game what dirty teeth are to dentistry; it will happen all the time, the only that varies is the level of awfulness. Submission guidelines, genre specifications, and word counts should help you do your precious gatekeeping. If you need to rely on charging writers $30 to enter your chapbook contest in order to keep what you think are bad writers away, know these two things: having money has absolutely nothing to do with having writing chops and your fees, not to mention your bland gatekeeping excuse, are nothing but classism in action. I’ve also heard that charging writers is just a way to “reduce the workload for overworked editors.” Get the fuck outta here with that. You’re sitting in front a computer because you want to, not working in the mines. Don’t want to edit? Don’t be an editor. There’s a ton of jobs out there that need to get done that don’t involve the arduous task of having to deal with a huge slush pile.

(10) TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK. The Kingsman “funny dinner” movie clip —

(11) OUTRAGED. Lou Antonelli issued a strong challenge to Chris Barkley’s column posted yesterday at Amazing Stories, in particular the part where he was named:

“Their views vastly contrast with The Rabid Puppies, primarily represented by Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day), John C. Wright and Lou Antonelli, they are unabashedly and enthusiastically racist in their worldview and their fiction. They believe a white male hegemony over all peoples of color, women and the LGBTQ community is the best course for the human race AND any aliens we may encounter, to put it mildly.”

Ok, I don’t know what kind of stupid bullshit rumors have wafted through Mr. Barkley’s empty cranium, but it is specious to lump me in with Vox Day and John C. Wright. Plus to claim I am “unabashedly and enthusiastically racist” in my worldview is simply libelous. I dare this hatemonger to point to anything I have ever said or did that was racist – because I’m not. As the first generation non-white child of an illegal immigrant, I have always felt revulsion towards ethnic and racial prejudice – I have been on the receiving end, believe me….

…Just to make my position on racism clear, I’m a Christian. God made man – all men: White, Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, whatever. A racist is God-defiant. He’s putting himself above God by saying God made a mistake. A racist does the Devil’s work.

(12) DANIEL JOSE OLDER NOVEL REVIEWED. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Older’s Shadowhouse Fall for NPR: “In ‘Shadowhouse Fall,’ Magical Threats Map Real-World Peril”.

Everything I loved about Shadowshaper is found in Shadowhouse Fall, but sharper and fiercer, pushed harder and farther. The love and loyalty Sierra and her friends feel for each other is all the more affecting for being forged in fire: They walk through metal detectors into school every morning, endure and resist casual assaults on their personhood and bodies in relentless routine. As with Shadowshaper, the parts I loved best were the characters, the exuberance of these people’s voices, the intimacy and honesty of their interactions. I loved seeing more of Sierra’s relationship with her best friend Bennie, more of Izzy and Tee’s romance, more of Juan and Pulpo’s devotion to each other. All of these relationships are complex and full of friction, and the sparks they give off illuminate important facets of the story.

(13) DOESN’T PASS GAS. A new type of space drive? “Will This ‘Impossible’ Motor Take People to Other Planets?”

When NASA one day sends humans to Mars, the journey could take six to nine months each way. But there’s a highly-experimental device being developed that could help get us there in less than half that time — if it really works.

A small lab at NASA is creating a motor to propel ships through space much faster than today’s conventional rockets can. Decades from now, a trip to Mars might take mere weeks, without burning any fuel. The only problem? The motor seems to violate the laws of physics.

To power a spacecraft, a propellant is ejected out of the rocket’s end, because you can’t accelerate forward without pushing back against something. But NASA’s alternative gadget, called an EM drive, would generate thrust without the need to belch exhaust. And dropping the weight from fuel could make ships much lighter and space travel more efficient.

(14) SPACE SNAPPERS. The BBC has “In pictures: Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017”, with the winning picture and many runners-up:

The winning images from this year’s competition have now been announced, with Artem Mironov’s vibrant clouds of dust and gas in the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex scooping first place.

(15) IG NOBELS. SJW Credentials studied: “Ig Nobels Awarded For Research Into Big Ears, Feline Fluidity”.

Can a cat be both a liquid and a solid? Does contact with a crocodile influence a person’s willingness to gamble? And do old men really have big ears?

Those are just a few of the questions studied by scientists who received Ig Nobel Prizes at Harvard University on Thursday, at the less-than-prestigious ceremony put on by the otherwise-august institution for the past 27 years.

“Each winner has done something that makes people laugh, then think,” said Marc Abrahams, who founded the awards in 1991 and writes for the decidedly non-peer-reviewed journal Annals of Improbable Research.

The complete list of winners is available from Improbable.com.

(16) MAKES THEM WONDER. The Columbian believes “Jenkins the future of DC movies, but not the way you think”.

Jenkins will lead WB/DC into a future where story comes first, not multimovie connectivity. Yes, the potential of “Justice League” movies is exciting, but every single DC film doesn’t have to be a two-hour commercial for the super-team’s gathering. “Wonder Woman” taking place in the past — far away from Batman, Superman, Doomsday and horrible Daily Planet story-budget meetings (why is Clark Kent going from the city beat to covering football?) — was the best thing that could have happened to DC. It showed that singular stories and a strong supporting cast are more important than movie-universe building.

Jenkins also showed the power of having DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns, formerly one of DC Comics’ top comic-book writers who now spends most of his time on the movies, at her side. As the new president, “Wonder Woman” was the first DCEU movie where Johns could provide his superhero storytelling skills in a more authoritative way.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Auto Nom” by Foam Studio is a silly story about all the fun a yellow Mercedes-Benz has in the city.

[Thanks to Rich Lynch, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Martin Morse Wooster, ULTRAGOTHA, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]