Over the February 4-5 weekend water pipes in the MIT Student Center in Boston froze and burst, causing significant damage throughout the building including to the fourth floor where the MIT Science Fiction Society club library is housed. The MITSFS Library, the world’s largest public open-shelf collection of science fiction, had an inch of water in it. The administration/staff made no effort to rescue books, and some were soaked. Students were denied access to the area to rescue books for several weeks, unable to assess how much mold damage was occurring.
Today MITSFS leadership emailed an update about the condition of the library and its operations. “After 2 weeks we were finally successful and discovered that while the majority of the library survived just fine, we did have some significant damage to some books – largely boxed duplicates and donations.”
The message says the library has been open for limited hours, however, the 4th floor, where MITSFS is, remains closed today and likely will remain closed until September. And due to renovations which were already scheduled to begin in April, MIT is currently planning to move MITSFS out of that space and then move them back in during the late summer or fall.
Therefore MITSFS has put out an urgent call for volunteers:
We NEED HELP! If you are located in the Boston area and have availability during the work week, work hours, we desperately need hands to help us with continued mitigation of the damage as well as with potentially packing up MITSFS. We have over 40,000 unique volumes of science fiction and fantasy – some of which of irreplaceable historical value. This means we could use as much help as we can get in protecting this unique legacy and resource. Please email [email protected] if you can help.
Former Librarian George Phillies adds that the MITSFS Library’s 40,000-plus items, “include complete runs of Amazing, Astounding/Analog, Weird Tales except for the first two years, and many other magazines, all in bound volumes, enough so that the missing magazines were the likes of Kapitan Mors und sein lenkbares Luftschiff. (Pre-WWI, including interplanetary flight), really obscure stuff. Hopefully a large part of it is intact.”
It’s telling that the Russian term used to describe speculative fiction doesn’t distinguish between science fiction and fantasy. The word is fantastika —the literature of the fantastic. It is used equally to reference the Three Laws stories of Asimov and the Middle Earth tales of Tolkien. It is this lack of distinction—combined with Russia’s rich heritage of fairy tales and its rigorous education in mathematics and the sciences—that may be responsible for so many genre-bending tales penned by Russian-speaking authors, which have become classics of world literature. The history of Russian fantastika is inseparable from the history of Russia itself, and the political, economic, and social forces that have shaped it over the course of the twentieth century….
(2) WORLDCON FUNDAMENTALS. The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) – unincorporated – is the umbrella organization that awards the right to host Worldcons and sets the Hugo rules. Cheryl Morgan asks “Is WSFS Fit for Purpose?” at Salon Futura.
…The problem is that WSFS suffers from what we in the Diversity & Inclusion business called “Status Quo Bias”. When the existing system happens to favour one particular segment of a population over others, that system will be seen as grossly unfair. There will be pressure for change. And if change is impossible within the system, the aggrieved parties will look to leave that system for an alternative, or to destroy it.
The accepted wisdom is that if you want to change WSFS then you have to do so through the Business Meeting. But the way that works, with the time commitment and necessity of understanding Parliamentary Procedure, is itself a form of Status Quo Bias. Kevin [Standlee] can help people who want to create a new Hugo Award category, but I suspect that no amount of help will be enough for people who want to recraft the entire governance process of the Society.
Furthermore, mollifying upset fans is not the only reason why this should be done. We live in an increasingly corporate world. WSFS is not a corporate animal, and other corporations simply don’t know how to deal with it. Relatively simple things such as selling advertising in the souvenir book, or soliciting sponsorship, become much more complicated than they need to be because WSFS itself has no corporate existence, and external organisations have to deal with a different company each year. Being proudly unincorporated is all very well, but it makes it hard to do business….
Just one note before leaving this open to discussion – when the Worldcon is held in the U.S. the “different company each year” has for many years been a nonprofit corporation organized by the bidders under state corporation and federal tax laws.
(3) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. James Davis Nicoll’sYoung People Read Old SFF panel take on Robert Bloch’s “That Hell-Bound Train.” And are young people impressed by this 1958 Hugo-winning short story? You’re kidding, aren’t you?
(4) STORY OF A LATE ADOPTER. Debarkle is Camestros Felapton’s work-in-progress chronicle of the history and consequences of the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy Kerfuffle. He’s added a chapter that does a good job of capturing what I’ve tried to do with File 770 since issue #1: “Debarkle Chapter 29: Dramatis Personae — Mike Glyer & File 770”. For instance:
…The point is not that the fanzine was a paragon of feminism or even progressive politics but rather that a newszine had a responsibility to engage with issues of the day and in the process, the editor had to get to grips with those issues also….
In the days of yore, if I wanted to buy a table-top roleplaying game, I had to travel to Toronto, the nearest major city. If I wanted inked dice, I had to hand-ink them myself. If I wanted fellow gamers, I had to shape mud into human form and breathe life into my golems (oops, no, I couldn’t do that, sometimes I just wished I could).
In those days, most TTRPGs treated gods as a sort of theological ConEd for wandering clerics. Gods had different names and superficial attributes, but otherwise their cults were much of a muchness, with no actual doctrinal differences.
One notable exception was Chaosium’s RuneQuest, particularly those supplements set in Greg Stafford’s gaming world of Glorantha….
(6) ABOUT THOSE FREE FANZINES. When David Langford learned that the N3F had started including copies of Ansible among the fanzines they were emailing to their distribution list it was news to him. And not welcome news, as Langford made clear:
Dear N3F President,
I’m told that the N3F is distributing PDF copies of Ansible in a bundle of “Free Fanzines from the N3F” without having asked my permission. Permission is not granted. You are welcome to circulate links to individual issues on the Ansible site at news.ansible.uk, but not to copy the issues themselves to others.
N3F President George Phillies wrote back an apology. That probably puts the matter to rest.
(7) JUNG OBIT. Actor Nathan Jung died April 24 at the age of 74. Deadline has the story —
Jung began his acting career in 1969 with a role as Genghis Khan in “The Savage Curtain” episode of the original Star Trek.
In the 1990s, he had stints on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman…His other [genre] film credits include Big Trouble in Little China, Darkman, The Shadow….
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 3, 1896 — Dodie Smith. English children’s novelist and playwright, best remembered for The Hundred and One Dalmatians which of course became the animated film of the same name and thirty years later was remade by Disney as a live action film. (Saw the first a long time ago, never saw the latter.) Though The Starlight Barking, the sequel, was optioned, by Disney, neither sequel film (101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure and 102 Dalmatians) is based on it. Elizabeth Hand in her review column in F&SF praised it as one of the very best fantasies (“… Dodie Smith’s sophisticated canine society in The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking…”) she had read. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born May 3, 1901 – John Collier. Three novels, twoscore shorter stories for us; poetry; screenplays, teleplays; two dozen short stories adapted for television by others. Collection Fancies and Goodnights won an Edgar and an Int’l Fantasy Award. (Died 1980) [JH]
Born May 3, 1928 — Jeanne Bal. In Trek’s “The Man Trap” episode, she played Nancy Crate, a former lover of Leonard McCoy, who would be a victim of the lethal shape-shifting alien which craves salt. This was the episode that replaced “The Cage” episode which the Network really didn’t like. She also had one-offs in Thriller and I-Spy. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born May 3, 1939 — Dennis O’Neil. Writer and editor, mostly for Marvel Comics and DC Comics from the Sixties through the Nineties, and was the Group Editor for the Batman family of titles until his retirement which makes him there when Ed Brubaker’s amazing Gotham Central came out. He himself has written Wonder Woman and Green Arrow in both cases introducing some rather controversial storytelling ideas. He also did a rather brilliant DC Comics Shadow series with Michael Kaluta as the artist. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born May 3, 1946 – Elizabeth Horrocks, age 75. Three novels for us. Won at the British television programme Mastermind, her subjects Shakespeare’s plays, works of Tolkien, works of Dorothy L. Sayers. [JH]
Born May 3, 1951 – Tatyana Tolstaya, age 70. One novel, three shorter stories for us available in English; for others outside our field, see here; hosted a Russian television-interview show a dozen years. Great-grandniece of literary giant Leo Tolstoy. [JH]
Born May 3, 1962 – Stephan Martiniere, age 59. Two hundred seventy-five covers, fifty interiors. Artbooks Quantum Dreams, Quantumscapes, Velocity, Trajectory. One Hugo, two Chesleys; two BSFA (British SF Ass’n) Awards. Here is Heavy Planet. Here is Dozois’ 22nd Year’s Best SF. Here is Betrayer of Worlds. Here is The Three-Body Problem. Here is The Poet King. [JH]
Born May 3, 1969 — Daryl Mallett, 52. By now you know that I’ve a deep fascination with the nonfiction documentation of our community. This author has done a number of works doing just that including several I’d love to see including Reginald’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards: A Comprehensive Guide to the Awards and Their Winners written with Robert Reginald. He’s also written some short fiction including one story with Forrest J Ackerman that bears the charming title of “A Typical Terran’s Thought When Spoken to by an Alien from the Planet Quarn in Its Native Language“. He’s even been an actor as well appearing in several Next Gen episodes (“Encounter at Farpoint” and “Hide and Q”) and The Undiscovered Country as well, all uncredited. He also appeared in Doctor Who and The Legends Of Time, a fan film which you can see here if you wish to. (CE)
Born May 3, 1980 – Jessica Spotswood, age 41. Three novels, one shorter story, one anthology (with Tess Sharpe) for us. Works for Washington, D.C., Public Library. Has read five Anne of Green Gables books, three by Jane Austen, The Strange History of the American Quadroon, The Crucible, We Should All Be Feminists. [JH]
Born May 3, 1982 — Rebecca Hall, 39. Lots of genre work — her first role was as Sarah Borden in The Prestige followed by being Emily Wotton in Dorian Gray and then as Florence Cathcart in The Awakening which in turn led to her being Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3. Next up? Mary in Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Is she done yet? No as next up is the English dub of the voice of Mother of Mirai no Mirai. She might’ve wanted to have stopped there as her most recent role was Dr. Grace Hart in Holmes & Watson which won an appalling four Golden Raspberries! (CE)
Born May 3, 1984 – Ian Bristow, age 37. Four novels, two shorter stories, a dozen covers. Here is The Interspecies Poker Tournament. Here is Contact.Here is The Gaia Collection. [JH]
Born May 3, 1985 — Becky Chambers, 36. I’m currently listening to The Galaxy, And The Ground Within which is most excellent. Her Wayfarers series won the Best Series Hugo at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon. (A Closed and Common Orbit was on the final list at WorldCon 75 for Best Novel but lost out to another exemplary novel, N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate. Record of a Spaceborn Few would be on the ballot at Dublin 2019 but lost out to yet another exemplary novel, Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars.) (A digression: The Wayfarers are the best series I’ve listened to in a long time.) “To Be Taught, if Fortunate” was a finalist at ConZealand in the Best Novella category but lost out to “This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. (CE)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur follows an outfit that knows their truth is out there. Maybe.
Heathcliff doesn’t look very superheroic – that’s what makes him so dangerous.
Maximumble shows why not all AI want to be more like humans.
(10) FAMILY TIME. Get your tissues ready. “Marvel Studios Celebrates The Movies” on YouTube is something Marvel Studios put together (with words by Stan Lee) about the importance of seeing MCU movies in theatres, along with a list of forthcoming MCU releases for the next two years.
The world may change and evolve, but the one thing that will never change: we’re all part of one big family.
Stargirl will continue to shine bright on The CW with a third season, the network announced Monday. The DC show’s renewal also came with the news that Christina M. Kim’s Kung Fu reboot has scored a second, butt-kicking season. Stargirl‘s sophomore season is scheduled to kick off this summer, while Kung Fu is in the middle of airing its debut batch of episodes (the premiere garnered over 3.5 million audience members when it first dropped in early April)….
“STARGIRL SEASON 3!!!” Brec Bassinger, Stargirl‘s leading lady, wrote on Twitter. “I get to go be with my star fam another year.”
“Thank you to everyone who has been tuning in to our little show,” tweeted Olivia Lang, who headlines Kung Fu. “We hope we’ve made your lives brighter and brought joy into your homes.”
Elsewhere, Epix’s Batman prequel, Pennyworth, could score a third outing of its own, but not on Epix. According to a new report from Deadline, HBO Max is mulling over a decision to pick up the DC-inspired series about a young British spy (Jack Bannon) who will one day become the butler of Wayne Manor….
It is 2021, and I’m not playing on an Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. I’m playing Atari.
This isn’t an old Atari 2600 previously collecting dust in a closet or an emulator I found online. It’s a fresh home video game console: the Atari VCS.
Having spent some time playing Atari VCS, it’s easy to get trapped by the nostalgic feelings of popping in my “Asteroids” or “Missile Command” cartridges. However, the VCS delivers plenty of modern touches such as wireless, rechargeable controllers and Wi-Fi support for downloadable games.
The Atari VCS is available to preorder for $399.99 and includes the console, a wireless modern controller and a wireless classic joystick.
Imagine operating a computer by moving your hands in the air as Tony Stark does in “Iron Man.” Or using a smartphone to magnify an object as does the device that Harrison Ford’s character uses in “Blade Runner.” Or a next-generation video meeting where augmented reality glasses make it possible to view 3-D avatars. Or a generation of autonomous vehicles capable of driving safely in city traffic.
These advances and a host of others on the horizon could happen because of metamaterials, making it possible to control beams of light with the same ease that computer chips control electricity.
The term metamaterials refers to a broad class of manufactured materials composed of structures that are finer than the wavelength of visible light, radio waves and other types of electromagnetic radiation. Together, they are now giving engineers extraordinary control in designing new types of ultracheap sensors that range from a telescope lens to an infrared thermometer.
“We are entering the consumer phase for metamaterials,” said Alan Huang, the chief technology officer at Terabit Corporation, a Silicon Valley consulting firm, who did early research in optical computing during his 12 years at Bell Labs. “It will go way beyond cameras and projectors and lead to things we don’t expect. It’s really a field of dreams.”
The first consumer products to take advantage of inexpensive metamaterials will be smartphones, which will improve their performance, but the ability to control light waves in new ways will also soon enable products like augmented reality glasses that overlay computerized images on the real world….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Mortal Kombat (2021) Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, which has spoilers, the producer explains he’s heard of the Mortal Kombat video game because “you mash a lot of buttons and someone’s spine explodes. Then you need a lot of therapy.” Also one character’s laser eye powers are discovered “by arguing about egg rolls” with another character.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Kendall, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) VARLEY MEDICAL UPDATE. R. Graeme Cameron relayed a report that John Varley’s heart bypass surgery today was successful.
Spider Robinson just dropped quickly in and out of my Monday fannish zoom meet to inform me that “Herb” John Varley’s heart operation went well, no complications, and they’ll be keeping him for five days to monitor recovery, then let him go home. Spider very relieved. Operation successful.
And according to Andrew Porter, “Varley’s partner Lee Emmett reports that he has successfully undergone a quadruple bypass and is in the ICU; he will be in the hospital for the next five days/”
(2) A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS. Mark Lawrence illustrates the limited effectiveness of an endorsement on a bookcover from a bestselling author by showing his own frustrated efforts to get attention from the many people who have already signed up for news about his work: “The Extraordinary Struggle to be Heard”.
…I’m a fairly popular author. People pay MONEY to read my books. Enough so that I can live off the proceeds. You would think this would mean that, when I offer my writing for free, people would jump on it. At least some of them. I’ve sold nearly two million books and must have hundreds of thousands of readers. So how many do you think would try on my recommendation not somebody they’ve never heard of but me: Marky?
On Wattpad I’ve been putting out chapters of a book I started writing called Jacob’s Ladder. I think it’s good. I’ve been alerting the 9,830 people who follow/friend me on Facebook to each chapter as it’s posted. I’ve also been posting about them to the 7,506 members of the Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers group on Facebook where I’m reasonably popular.
I also have 2,815 followers on Wattpad itself who get alerts when I post the chapters. And I’ve tweeted about each chapter to my 28,600 followers on Twitter. And I’ve blogged on Goodreads about it where I have 48,029 followers.
I posted chapter 5 two days ago and it’s had 21 views (which are not necessarily reads) at least one of which was me.
All of which I throw out there to demonstrate how ridiculously hard it is to be heard and to have that audience act.
Now, new authors, consider how much of an impact the weeks this slow reader spends reading your book will have on your sales when condensed into a line on the cover…
(3) NYRSF READINGS THIS WEEK. Charles Yu will be on The New York Review of Books Readings livestream tomorrow, February 23.
CHARLES YU is the author of four books, including his latest, Interior Chinatown, which won the National Book Award for Fiction and was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. He has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the HBO series Westworld, and has also written for shows on FX, AMC, Facebook Watch, and Adult Swim. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in a number of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, and Harper’s. You can find him on Twitter @charles_yu.
The live event *should* be on https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings and Jim Freund’s timeline, and you *should* (that word again) be able to join on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/JimFreund
(4) YU CREATIVE WRITING AWARD. “Charles Yu establishes prize for young Taiwanese American creative writers” reports TaiwaneseAmerican.org. Submissions may be in any literary genre. Prior to his winning a National Book Award for his literary awork Interior Chinatown, Yu also wrote sff, such as How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010), and served as the Guest Editor for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017. [Via Locus Online.]
TaiwaneseAmerican.org is pleased to announce the inaugural Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes. Created in collaboration with Taiwanese American author Charles Yu, the Prizes are intended to encourage and recognize creative literary work by Taiwanese American high school and college students, and to foster discussion and community around such work.
Submissions may be in any literary genre including fiction, poetry, personal essays or other creative non-fiction. Submissions must be sent via Google Form and must be received by March 31, 2021 at 11:59PM PT. In order to be eligible, submissions must be from writers of Taiwanese heritage (or writers with other significant connection to Taiwan), or have subject matter otherwise relevant to the Taiwanese or Taiwanese American experience.
Submissions will be considered in two categories, High School (enrolled in high school as of the deadline) and College (enrolled in community college or as an undergraduate as of the deadline). Winners and finalists will be announced in May 2021. A total of $1500 will be awarded to the winners. In addition, each of the winners and finalists will have their submitted work published online by TaiwaneseAmerican.org and considered for publication in a future edition of Chrysanthemum, and offered the opportunity to participate in an individual mentoring session with one of the judges.
Setting Boundaries: A writing career often comes with attention—wanted and unwanted. What kinds of boundaries do you set as an author with your readers, and how do those change throughout your career? Authors across the publishing spectrum discuss how they interact with, acknowledge, and encourage their readers while maintaining personal boundaries.
Writing Speculative Justice: Many envision a new role and future for the justice system in the United States and across the world—one that is more restorative, more equitable, and more just. As writers build our own worlds, what can and should we be thinking about when it comes to justice? How does our approach to laws, crime, retribution, and restoration impact the rest of our worldbuilding, characters, and plots? How can we craft a more just future?
(6) HOW MUCH ARE THOSE CLICKS IN THE WINDOW? James Pyles (PoweredByRobots) has been doing his darnedest to use the recent kerfuffle to get attention. And he doesn’t much care who that damages.
…Frankly, the Discon III / Worldcon decision to “uninvite” Weisskopf is looking less and less popular. Of course, I have no idea who Weber, Eggleton, and Gannon are (my understanding of SF/F personalities and their politics is shockingly limited), but on the surface, I can’t see anything awful, horrible, and offensive about their comments (well, maybe some of the language was just a little rough depending on how thin-skinned you are). In fact, they seem pretty reasonable….
Bounding Into Comics, as Doris V. Sutherland observes, belittled Sanford’s coverage, but they couldn’t deny what Jason found in Baen’s Bar.
Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer’s purported explanation of the controversy rapidly deteriorated into gibberish: “Omnibus?”
…Back in the day you’d left right and center views – depending on where you went. His [Jason Sanford’s] ‘expose’ is drivel, out of context, imaginary and generally trivial — in keeping with how he earns his authorly income – but it is seized on as a reason to 1) expel Toni as a GoH from WorldCon (because you know, in omnibus, must chuck her under it – even though any sane definition of the Bar was 99.9999% innocuous by any interpretation. Omnibus see. Even if she had nothing to do with it, and didn’t know – and investigated once she did. Not good enough, Guilty. She turned Jason Sanford into a newt. And she has got a wart… maybe.) 2) The little friends mysteriously and suddenly attack the hosting service and other business connections to demand deplatforming because Baen is ‘hate speech and inciting violence’….
(7) IT’S THEIR RIGHT. Meanwhile, this unexpected announcement was tweeted today by American Conservative Union CPAC 2021. I don’t know who is being banned, either, it’s just a coincidence that’s remarkably timely.
…Creation games aren’t new; they go way back to the original SimCity and beyond. But in autumn 2019, during a period of intense, life-altering burnout, I came across Nathalie Lawhead’s Electric Zine Maker and it redefined what I thought I knew about play, creation and the art that can emerge from video game interfaces. Zine Maker is a clever, accessible tool in the disguise of a joyful toy. I had become sick from overwork and had resigned myself to transitioning careers, leaving writing fiction entirely to move into a more practical realm. I was convinced that the connection between the part of my brain that makes art and the part that produces joy was fried forever. But this game sparked it again.
… Electric Zine Maker gives us a playful way to design and create real, print zines once more. The software streamlines the creation of a one-page zine: an A4 page folded into an A8 booklet. The tools are simple: text boxes, image pasting, some paint brushes and filters. A folding guide tells you how to turn it from a flat page into a 3D object once you print it off. It’s all laid out in bright, roaring neon, reminiscent of a CD-Rom from the mid-1990s. It feels like a piece of time travel, a return to childhood tinkering in The Simpsons Cartoon Studio in 1996.
(9) GRR REMEMBERS WANDA JUNE. George R.R. Martin paid tribute to the late Wanda June Alexander, whose daughter is almost his neighbor in Santa Fe: “The Amazing Wanda June”.
…Wanda June was a dear dear friend… but more than that, really. She and Raya have been part of our family, in one sense or another, for decades. I do not actually recall when and where I first met Wanda. It was at a con, no doubt, probably in the late 70s or early 80s. I knew OF Wanda before I actually knew Wanda, however. She was an East Coast fan when I first began hearing tales of her, from mutual friends. Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, David Axler, Dave Kogelmen, Joe and Gay Haldeman… all of them were friends of mine, and friends of the legendary Wanda June. She was one of Parris’s oldest, dearest friends, from the 70s on to this very day. …
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone series wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Wolf Rilla, and written by Stirling Silliphant, Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch. The other nominated works were the films Village of The Damned and The Time Machine.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 22, 1879 — Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.) (CE)
Born February 22, 1879 – Norman Lindsay. When a critic said children liked to read about fairies more than about food, NL wrote The Magic Pudding, wherefore we may be grateful. He was also an artist in watercolour, oils, pencil, etching, bronze, concrete. A dozen other novels; essays, poetry, memoirs. Here is a World War I cover for The Bulletin. Here is Odysseus. Here is Age of Consent. Here is Lin Bloomfield’s book about NL’s drawings. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born February 22, 1917 – Reed Crandall. Early inker for Jack Kirby on Captain America. Did Blackhawk 1942-1953; Jim Steranko said “where [Chuck] Cuidera made Blackhawk a best-seller, Crandall turned it into a classic, a work of major importance and lasting value”. Forty interiors and a few covers for us, mostly of E.R. Burroughs. Here are the Blackhawks fighting a giant robot; here is a more airborne moment. Here is The Man with a Brain of Gold. Here is John Carter with the Giant of Mars. Eisner Hall of Fame. More here. (Died 1982) [JH]
Born February 22, 1953 – Genny Dazzo, Ph.D., age 68. Active Los Angeles fan. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 31, Loscon 27 (with husband Craig Miller). Reliable in local, regional, continental, World conventions; for example, Guest of Honor Liaison at L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon, L.A.con IV the 64th. Collects teapots. Member of County Fair Table Setting Competition fandom. Doctorate in Theoretical Chemistry. [JH]
Born February 22, 1955 — Paul J. McAuley, 66. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction. (CE)
Born February 22, 1956 — Caroline Thompson, 65. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. (CE)
Born February 22, 1965 – Max Frei, age 56. That age-statement isn’t quite right, because Max Frei was a composite of Svetlana Martynchik (whose birthday I gave) and her husband Igor Steopin (1967-2018) in writing (in Russian) Sir Max’s adventures in the Labyrinths of Echo; a score are available in English. More here. [JH]
Born February 21, 1974 – Michelle Knudsen, age 47. Six novels (Evil Librarian won a Fleischman Award – two sequels), one shorter story, for us; twoscore other books. Library Lion was a NY Times Best-Seller. Julie Andrews on a podcast reads “Marilyn’s Monster” aloud. Favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, The Pirates of Penzance; has been in Iolanthe. Read aloud at the 2007 White House Easter Egg Roll. Taking boxing lessons. [JH]
Born February 22, 1981 – Ryan James, age 40. Two novels with his mother Syrie James. Much else in the games industry. Only a few decades ago, despite chess, bridge, gô, it would have been SF for there to be a games industry. [JH]
Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jeff Goad and Ngo Vinh-Hoi of the Appendix N Book Club to my blog today:
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
We are a podcast about the literature that inspires our tabletop RPGs. Initially, we only focused on the Appendix N: a list of “inspirational reading” located in the back of the 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Starting with episode 101, we are expanding the scope of the show to include ALL fiction that inspires our gaming. The first half of each episode focuses on the text from a literary perspective and the second half of each episode discussed the text from a gaming perspective….
Jim Henson’s classic series “The Muppet Show” began streaming on Disney+ on Friday, but now comes prefaced with an offensive content disclaimer.
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” the warning reads. “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversations to create a more inclusive future together.”
The show, which ran for five seasons between 1976 and 1981, features the new content warning on 18 episodes, including those guest-hosted by Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Debbie Harry and Marty Feldman, among others.
Each episode bears the 12-second disclaimer for a different reason, from Cash’s appearance singing in front of a Confederate flag to negative depictions of Native Americans, Middle Easterners and people from other cultures. Additionally, two episodes from the final season, featuring guest stars Brooke Shields and staff writer Chris Langham, are left out entirely.
…In the Sherlock Holmes mythology, the “Baker Street Irregulars” are a group of street urchins in the employ of Holmes. They are his eyes and ears in the seedier parts of Jolly Ol’ Londontown. This version, naturally, will focus on that group. It appears they will have more in the vein of the supernatural to deal with. Various adaptations of Doyle’s stories have included a supernatural tinge, we should note, the original stories were always rooted in Victorian-era science. It’s elementary, really….
We have exclusively learned that certain characters from Big Hero 6 will be making their live-action debut in the MCU.
We’re not sure on who will be coming but we can at least expect Baymax and Hiro.
Some of the projects we heard about were Secret Invasion, Agents of Atlas, and Doctor Strange. However, we couldn’t get confirmation.
There’s also no word on if the actors will reprise their roles in regards to live-action appereances.
Big Hero 6 was loosely based on the comic of the same name. The comic was a three-part miniseries written by Scott Lobdell and artist Gus Vasquez. The series went on to be a very popular title, which spawned the animated film and TV series.
(16) FRANSON AWARD. National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked the recipient of this year’s Franson Award, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show of appreciation:
It is my privilege and honor to bestow the Franson Award upon our new Treasurer, Kevin Trainor of Tonopah, Nevada. Being N3F Treasurer is a great responsibility. The Treasurer maintains the club financial records without which we would not know who is a member and who has departed. We spent close to a year during which the former Treasurer made clear he wanted to leave, but no member would volunteer to replace him. Can all be grateful to Kevin for volunteering and taking on the Treasurer’s role.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that Transformers is a “feature-length commercial with sort of a story line, because that’s what movies are these days.” Also, Megan Fox loves Burger King because, hey, it’s a product placement!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon, Ben Bird Person, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge with an assist from Tom Becker and Paul Weimer.]
Bill Burns announced eFanzines.com has stopped hosting announcements about National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) publications since yesterday, after N3F President George Phillies sent an email to his list asking for recipients to promote the N3F on Parler and Gab.
Burns says his response to Phillies’ email (which File 770 also received) was that he found “it hard to believe that this was a serious request.” Burns wrote back: “George: I assume you’re not aware that Parler and Gab are the sites frequented by those who planned and executed the recent attempted insurrection at the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths” and included links to the Wikipedia articles about Parler and Gab which explain their popularity with “Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing extremists” “including neo-Nazis, white supremacists, white nationalists, and the alt-right…”
Your assumption is simply wrong. I am entirely aware of the namecalling contests that have replaced political discourse in this country.
Whatever their political inclinations — I am mostly not interested in politics these days — these people who use each of the sites I listed are also science fiction fans. If they have been banned from other sites, well, that makes it difficult to reach them using those other sites, now doesn’t it? Curiously, while they are doing stfnal things, they are not doing political things.
Phillies today sent another email to his N3F list:
I will repeat my request for people interested in publicizing the N3F with short posts in places like twitter, parler, gab, etc. I have already heard complaints from people who think that Parler is full of neo-Nazis or Twitter is full of Communists. (Parler, by the way, is inoperative and empty.) That completely misses the point, namely both those places are also full of people who are primarily SF fans who could be lured into joining us.
The network vanished from the internet after it was dropped by Amazon’s hosting arm and other partners over a lack of moderation after its users called for violence and posted videos glorifying the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.
On Monday, Parler’s website was reachable again, though only with a message from its chief executive, John Matze, saying he was working to restore functionality.
The internet protocol (IP) address it used is owned by DDos-Guard, which is controlled by two Russian men and provides services including protection from distributed denial of service attacks, infrastructure expert Ronald Guilmette told Reuters.
Gab also has been offline at times over the past couple years, dropped by domestic hosts who cited that many accounts engage in the “perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance,” and then by hosts in Norway for unspecified reasons. It is now hosted by Epik, which the Wikipedia describes as “a domain registrar and web hosting company known for providing services to websites that host far-right, neo-Nazi, and other extremist content.”
The National Fantasy Fan Federation was founded in 1941 by Damon Knight with the support of Art Widner and Louis Russell Chauvenet. George Phillies has been President of the N3F since 2015, and has edited some of its publications. He won the N3F Franson Award for club service in 2015, and in 2019 won one of its speculative fiction awards, the Neffys, Best Novel, for Against Three Lands.
Bill Burns adds:
I stopped hosting the N3F fanzines a couple of years ago, when I realized that they couldn’t be bothered to update their own website and were using me as an unpaid webmaster instead. Since then I have been posting announcements whenever Phillies sent me a note that their site was updated, but he was only sending these intermittently, and has been badmouthing me not posting updates he didn’t send.
When I got the unwanted email that included his absurd request, I felt I had to respond, but this was not connected to the previous hosting situation.
Before this I would have kept posting the announcements, but Phillies, despite his protestations on Facebook, had not sent me an update since May 2020. If he had I would have posted them, but now I’m done with them altogether.
Update 01/19/2021: Corrected that it is the announcements which will no longer be hosted at eFanzines, because the hosting of copies of the zines had already ended some time ago for another reason.
George Phillies, President of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, editor of TNFF, and ballot counter, has announced the winners of the 2020 National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Awards, the Neffys,
Endgames by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Best Shorter Work
“By the Warmth of Their Calculus” by T. S. Buckell.
Best Fan Writer
Astra: Lost in Space
Best Non-N3F Fanzine
Best N3F Fanzine:
Best Fan Artist:
Best Book Editor
Phillies said “No award” outcomes were omitted – probably in the three categories on the ballot for which no winner was named: TV Show, Cover Artist, Best Manga. He noted, “There were many more ‘No Award’ votes this year than there were last year.”
George Phillies, President of the National Fantasy Fan
Federation, editor of TNFF, and ballot counter, has
announced the winners of the National Fantasy Fan
Federation Speculative Fiction Awards, the Neffys,
(over 100,000 words)
Against Three Lands – George Phillies
Best Shorter Work (under 100,000 words)
“The Black God’s Drums” – P. Djèlí Clark – Tor
Best Book Editor
(electronic publication is allowed)
Tightbeam from the N3F
Mad Genius Club – the Mad Genii
Best TV Show
Game of Thrones
Best SF Movie/Video
A Quiet Place
Best Graphic Art Publication
Raven Daughter of Darkness – Marv Wolfman
Best Cover Art
Kent Bash – the March-April 2019
Brad Fraunfelter – The Broken Throne (novel by Chris Nuttall)
Bog butters are large, white to yellow waxy deposits regularly recovered from the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland, often found in wooden containers or wrapped in bark or animal membranes (Fig. 1). With recorded weights of up to 23?kg (and several examples that may be larger), bog butters were first documented in the 17th century; the total number recovered to date may approach 500 specimens1,2. Published radiocarbon determinations on Irish bog butters show activity spanning the Iron Age to the post-medieval period3,4 with folk accounts indicating survival into the 19th century5,6. While the reasons behind their deposition continue to be debated1,2, the remarkable preservative properties of peat bogs are well known7 and several post-medieval accounts mention the practice of storing butter in bogs to be consumed at a later date, whether by necessity or as a delicacy8,9,10. Early medieval Irish law tracts list butter as one of the products payable as food rents11, which may have needed to be stockpiled or stored. Parallels have also been drawn with the widespread deposition of metal and other objects in wetlands during the Bronze Age and Iron Age, often assumed to be votive or ritual acts….
(2) CLOSE GUESSES. The New York Times
Book Review has two articles on
world-building in speculative fiction this week:
“Ours is a world of laws—and given available evidence, so are all other worlds.
As they build their wild what ifs, the authors of speculative fiction draft legislation: They draw up regulations and establish cabinet agencies and sub-agencies, often employing a diction eerily reminiscent of real-life government and politics—the eeriness being very much the point.”
Maybe because we’re living in a dystopia, it feels as if we’ve become obsessed with prophecy as of late. Protest signs at the 2017 Women’s March read “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!” and “Octavia Warned Us”…
In “The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered The World,” Thomas Disch calls this relay between fiction and reality “creative visualization.”
(3) FIRE IN THE WHOLE. Steven Zeitchik
says in the Washington Post that
tensions are rising between the Writers Guild of America (East) & Writers
Guild of America (West) and the Association of Talent Agents because the
writers think the agents are forming production companies and not being fair to
the writers. He says if the agents and writers don’t negotiate a new
“artists manager basic agreement” about fee sharing by April 6, the
result could be a mass firing by the 20,000 WGA members of their agents. “Hollywood
agents and writers meet, but impasse remains”.
…The writers say they do not wish to renew the franchise agreement without significant revisions. They want new units that the agencies created to function as production companies to instead be formally carved out as separate entities. At present those units exist more as extensions of the agencies, which the writers say ups the possibility for conflicts of interest.
The also want to overhaul the main ways agents collect money on writers’ work. At the moment those revenue are dominated not by standard commissions from clients but by packaging fees, in which studios pay the agents for putting together the creative elements of a show. Those fees, the writers say, encourage agents to act against their own clients’ interests and also allow them to dip into a pool of revenue that should go to creators.
The agencies, particularly the Big Four — CAA, WME, UTA and ICM — that are leading the fight, say that the writers are working under false assumptions. Packaging fees and new entities offer riches to both parties, they say, especially as the media companies with which they are negotiating are growing larger and more vertical.
(4) FOR MEMORY CARE. The
GoFundMe for Gahan Wilson has raised
$52,175 of its $100,000 goal in the first 14 days. More than a thousand people
(5) NOT SAFE FOR WHATEVER. [Item by Dann.] Netflix
recently released their series of sci-fi/fantasy/horror animated short files
under the title Love,
Death + Robots. The collection features 10-20 minute long films
based on genre stories. Original story authors include John Scalzi, Marko
Kloos, Joe Lansdale, and Ken Liu.
The collection is billed as an “NSFW
anthology”. It generally lives up to that appellation. The
films range from mildly questionable language to full-on body dismemberment to
sexually explicit content (voluntary and otherwise). The use of felines
periodically borders on being questionable.
The collection is part of Netflix’s effort to create
unique content. Many recently released titles feature genre based
stories. Not unlike Amazon’s influence on the increasing number of
sub-novel length works, might this development be a signal of technology
changing markets to allow a range of video productions other than long format
movies or shorter format TV series?
Is there a Hugo worthy animated short in this
anthology? Only people living in 2020 know for certain.
Cartoonist Tom K. Ryan, who gave us the syndicated strip Tumbleweeds has passed at the age of 92…actually, about 92.8. His popular western-themed comic made its debut in September of 1965 and lasted until the end of 2007 when Ryan decided he was getting too old to continue it. A run of 42+ years is pretty impressive in any industry. Like most cartoonists, Ryan was aided by occasional assistants, one of whom — a fellow named Jim Davis — did okay for himself when he struck out on his own and created Garfield.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 17, 1846 — Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
Born March 17, 1906 — Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role a an actress, she played two roles, Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch. Oddly enough I’ve not seen it, so do render your opinions on it please. She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and in particular attacking Jewish financial speculators. (Died 1996.)
Born March 17, 1945 — Tania Lemani, 74. She played Kara in the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. She first met Shatner when she was offered her a role in the pilot for Alexander the Great, starring him in the title role (although the pilot failed to be picked up as a series). She had parts in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Bionic Woman and she shows up in the fanfic video Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. I assume as Kara, though IMDb lists her as herself.
Born March 17, 1947 — James K. Morrow, 72. I’m very fond of the Godhead trilogy in which God is Dead and very, very present. Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a lot of satisfying satirical fun as is The Madonna and the Starship which is also is a wonderful homage to pulp writers.
Born March 17, 1948 — William Gibson, 71. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. The works I struggled with are Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History. I’ve tried all of them, none were appealing. Eh?
Born March 17, 1949 — Patrick Duffy, 70. Surely you’ve seen him on Man from Atlantis? No? Oh, you missed a strange, short-lived show. His other genre credits are a delightfully mixed bag of such things as voicing a Goat on Alice in Wonderland, appearing on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne as Duke Angelo Rimini in the “Rockets of the Dead” episode and voicing Steve Trevor in the incredibly excellent “The Savage Time” three-parter on Justice League.
Born March 17, 1951 — Kurt Russell, 68. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good.
Born March 17, 1958 — Christian Clemenson, 61. Though I’m reasonably sure his first genre appearance was on the Beauty and The Beast series, his first memorable appearance was on the BtVS episode “Bad Girls” as a obscenely obese demon named Balthazar. Lots of practical effects were used. His other significant genre role was on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. as fish way out of the water Eastern lawyer Socrates Poole. And yes, I loved that series!
Born March 17, 1962 — Clare Grogan, 57. On the Red Dwarf series as the first incarnation of Kristine Kochanski. Anyone here watch it? One truly weird series! She really doesn’t have much of any acting career and her genre career is quite short otherwise, a stint in an episode on Sea of Souls, a Scots ghost chasing series, is it.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Tom the Dancing Bug finds humor in explaining why some time travelers hold no terrors for Americans of the 1950s.
FRANSON AWARDS. National Fantasy Fan
Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked three recipients for this
year’s Franson Awards, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show
As your President, it is my privilege and honor to bestow the N3F President’s Award on our three art-ists, who have been doing so much to beautify our N3F zines. Please join me in thanking Angela K Scott, Jose Sanchez, and Cedar Sanderson for what they have done for our Federation.
An old deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith where Anakin speaks droid has started to gain popularity online. Some Star Wars fans are having a hard time believing that the scene is real, which makes sense in an age where deleted scenes are practically a thing of the past. Over the years, the prequels have been looked at in a better light by a younger generation that grew up with those three installments being the first Star Wars movies that they saw.
…While it is a bit of a silly scene, it does probably point Obi-Wan in the direction to learn droid. In A New Hope, he can understand R2D2, so the scene could have served a purpose had it been left in. But it’s a little on the silly side because these are powerful Jedi that we’re talking about here. They should, at the very least, know how to talk to a droid before levitating rocks and using Jedi mind tricks. Whatever the case may be, the scene was left on the cutting room floor and thrown on the DVD.
When it comes to ‘90s-era Star Trek series, Voyagerdoesn’t always get its due, maybe because it couldn’t quite live up to the high standard set by The Next Generation or because it lacked the gravitas and daring of Deep Space Nine. (Or maybe it’s just because we’re all trying to avoid thinking too hard about the events of “Threshold.”) Still, Voyager stayed true to Star Trek’s overarching spirit of exploration and cooperation, forcing two very different groups of people to work together to survive and testing the characters’ utopian ideals by stranding them far from the safety of the Federation. Plus, the series was the first in the franchise to be led by a female captain, Kathryn Janeway, played by the dynamic Kate Mulgrew.
The show’s lasting influence can be felt in two stories from this week about prominent Democratic politicians, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacey Abrams, both of whom are fans of Voyager and, in particular, its lead character. The first surprise nod to Trek in the political sphere came from the Daily Mail’s unexpectedly wholesome interview with Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, who described how Voyager became a portent of her daughter’s future success.
[…] The other Voyager shoutout appeared in the New York Times on Thursday in a story with the headline “Stacey Abrams, Star Trek Nerd, Is Traveling at Warp Speed.” In quotes from a previously unpublished interview from last summer, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate says that while The Next Generation is her favorite series, she “reveres Admiral Janeway.” She also shows off her good taste in Trek by picking a Voyager episode, “Shattered,” as a favorite. […]
A Star Wars Is Born . . . How did I not see this coming? The Star Wars and A Star Is Born universes finally collided to pay tribute to two fan-favorite ships in a Nerdist parody music video. If Ally and Jackson were transported to a galaxy far, far, away, perhaps their version of “Shallow” would’ve ended up a little like Kylo Ren and Rey’s.
Other than the trailer released at NYCC, we’ve haven’t seen much else in regard to everyone’s favorite psychopath with a heart of gold. That is until Cuoco took to Instagram and posted some shots from her voice sessions.
That’s the California company that owns worldwide rights to trademarked terms within British author J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, including “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” It’s an arm of The Saul Zaentz Co., which produced the animated 1978 “Lord of the Rings” film.
A friend of mine inquired about an obscure science fiction story the other day. She expressed surprise that I had, in fact, read it, and wondered what my criteria were for choosing my reading material. I had to explain that I didn’t have any: I read everything published as science fiction and/or fantasy.
My friend found this refrain from judgment admirable. I think it’s just a form of insanity, particularly as it subjects me to frequent painful slogs. For instance, this month’s Fantasy and Science Fiction continues the magazine’s (occasionally abated) slide into the kaka. With the exception of a couple of pieces, it’s bad. Beyond bad — dull….
FLING THAT THING. Comic Books vs The World calls them “giant
death frisbees” in “Every MCU Captain America Shield
He may not have been in action in the Marvel Cinematic Universe all that much, but Captain America’s had a bunch of different shields over the years. Let’s look over the timeline of the MCU and see what all he’s used so far!
Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, John King
Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
Dern, who just saw Captain Marvel.]