(1) ILLEGAL AND UNDERGROUND CZECHOSLOVAK SCIENCE FICTION DISPLAYED AT WENDE MUSEUM IN LA. [Item by Jaroslav Olsa Jr.] A set of various illegal (samizdat), underground and semi-legal science fiction fanzines and books which were produced in the socialist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s are on show at Wende Museum of the Cold War in Los Angeles until March 2023. All the samples are from private collections of Zdeněk Rampas, Czech science fiction fan of four decades, and Jaroslav Olsa Jr., who was behind publication of various of them in the 1980s.
During Communist rule in Czechoslovakia (1948-1989), publishing houses were under strict government control. Not only were political writings suppressed; even hobbyists, collectors, gardeners and yoga practitioners, to name only a few, had to deal with the suppression of free thought. In the field of science fiction literature, censorship resulted in the publication of only a minimal number of genre books in Czech or Slovak languages. However, science fiction fans began to organize themselves in 1979, when the first science fiction club was founded in Prague. Other clubs followed; there were over forty of them by 1985 and no less than seventy by 1987. Simultaneously, the first illegal/samizdat science fiction publication saw the light of day in 1977., The first independent science fiction fanzine produced by a science fiction club appeared in 1981, a simple mimeographed paper called Sci-fi, with a print run of just a few dozen copies and a run of only twelve issues.
During the 1980s, the number of science fiction fanzines published increased, with almost a hundred different titles. By the end of the decade, the first independently produced science fiction samizdats were published, often with pirate translations by authors like Isaac Asimov, G. R. R. Martin and Robert Silverberg. While in the mid-1980s majority of science fiction fanzines were mimeographed, the late 1980s science fiction samizdats were sometimes printed in offset with runs up to 1,000 copies.
Many of these publications were associated with future-to-be important writers, historians, journalists, publishers, or translators, who thus started their careers with producing science fiction samizdats.
(2) CADIGAN Q&A. Pat Cadigan was inverviewed about “Science Fiction, Cyberpunk & Curiosity” by Luke Robert Mason at the Science Museum in London on October 26.
Cyberpunk author Pat Cadigan shares her thoughts on the role of science fiction in society, her methods for thinking about the future, and which elements of the cyberpunk genre have become features of our everyday reality.
(3) CARNEGIE MEDALS. No genre works are on the shortlist for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. See the titles that did at the link.
(4) AN EVER-GROWING LIST. Shaun Duke reminded people that he’s building a list of “Space Opera Novels by Cisgender Women, Non-Binary, and Trans People” at Google Sheets. He’s taking suggestions of works to be added.
(5) IS THAT DRAGON FLUFF OR PUFF? Camestros Felapton pulled his eyes away from streaming TV long enough to write “The Dragon Prince Season 4 (Review)”.
If you prefer your dragon fantasy series light, fluffy and PG-rated, then you may be pleased to know that Netflix has a new season of The Dragon Prince.
This is more of a sequel to the original three seasons that ended with the bulk of the plotlines resolved as well as the genre-mandatory epic battle of good and evil. There were several intentional loose ends though. In particular, behind all the conflict in the first three seasons was the mysterious figure of Aaravos. Who is he? Where is he? What is he up to? These questions were left unanswered, which helped lend an air of underlying mystery to the story….
(6) FIXED THAT FOR YOU. Courtesy of Gary Farber on Facebook you can read Alexandra Petri’s paywalled column, “Mike Pence’s new book describes last days with Killer Robot3000”.
“Mike Pence,” everyone says. “Killer Robot3000 recklessly endangered your life, didn’t he?”
I shake my head. It is technically true in the most plodding, literal way that Killer Robot3000, a deadly robot programmed to kill, did exactly that, but I know better. Dangerous as it is, that is just how he says hello; I took his firing a deadly laser at me every time I approached for the friendly greeting it was. I know better than to think it was personal. Killer Robot3000 and I have always had nothing but deep respect for one another.
“I will pray for you, Killer Robot3000,” I told him.
He beeped at me in what I knew was a soulful way. “KILL! KILL!” he said, softly, although technically it was at the same volume he said anything. But there was an undeniable softness to it, the kind of undeniable softness that would have been denied by anyone hearing it except myself….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2006 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Patricia A. McKillip’s Solstice Wood
Gram called at five in the morning. She never remembered the time difference. I was already up, sitting at the table in my bathrobe, about to take my first sip of coffee. The phone rang; my hands jerked. Coffee shot into the air, rained down on my hair and the cat, who yowled indignantly and fled. I stared at the phone as it rang again, not wanting to pick up, not wanting to know whatever it was Gram wanted me to know. — Solstice Wood
There are certain novels that I find absolutely fascinating from their very first words. Excepting the brief poem (And every turn led us here. Back into these small rooms. — Winter Rose), these apparently mundane words lead off one of her most interesting novels, Solstice Wood which was published sixteen years ago.
WARNING: I’M WEAVING SPOILERS STARTING NOW. GO DRINK COFFEE PLEASE.
Sylva Lynn has a comfortable life away from her family. But after receiving word that her grandfather has died, she very reluctantly returns to New York for the funeral.
But the old magic protecting their house from the Fey has begun to fail, and Sylva’s cousin has been kidnapped and replaced with a changeling.
So her like relative Rois Melior, the protagonist of Winter Rose, it is only Sylva, who is part fairy herself, who is able to cross the border into the other realm to rescue him and return peace to their ancestral home.
The best part of story however is we get meet the Fiber Guild, the group who knit, embroider, and sew. Well they do much, more than that with their weavings. They tell Sylvia learns why her grandmother watches her so closely, and what the ancient power is in the forest that Fiber Guild seeking to bind in its stitcheries.
FINISHED WITH YOUR COFFEE? GOOD.
Not really a spoiler, so I’ll note it’s told from a number of first-hand viewpoints, all very well defined. Not an easy thing for an author to do.
It’s a wonderful novel and though it’s technically a sequel to Winter Rose, also a brilliant novel, there’s no need to read that first. Indeed my reviewer at Green Man, an ardent McKillip fan didn’t even mention it was a sequel to that novel in his review of it.
Great characters, stellar story, fascinating setting, particularly the house which becomes an active part of the story. The usual outing by her. Highly recommended if you’ve not read it yet. And yes it won a richly deserved Nebula.
Both novels are available from the usual suspects.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 16, 1907 — Burgess Meredith. Brief though his visit to genre was, he had significant roles. One of his genre roles was a delightful take as The Penguin in original Batman series. He also shows up in Tales of Tomorrow, an anthology sf series that was performed and broadcast live on ABC in the early Fifties, and on The Invaders, The Twilight Zone, Faerie Tale Theatre: Thumbelina (with Carrie Fisher!) and The Wild Wild West. In Twilight Zone: The Movie he was Narrator, although initially he was uncredited. Did I mention he voiced Puff the Magic Dragon in a series of the same name? Well he did. Ok so his visit to our world wasn’t so brief after all… (Died 1997.)
- Born November 16, 1939 — Tor Åge Bringsværd, 83.Writer, Editor, and Fan from Norway who co-founded Norwegian fandom. He and his university friend Jon Bing were huge SF readers in a country where SF publishing did not exist, so they founded, in 1966, the still-existing Aniara science fiction club and its fanzine at Oslo University. In 1967, they produced an SF short story collection Ring Around the Sun, which is known as the first science fiction by a Norwegian author. In 1967, they persuaded Gyldendal, the leading Norwegian publisher, into launching a paperback SF line with themselves as editors. Between then and 1980, this imprint released 55 titles which included the first Norwegian translations for many authors, such as Aldiss, Bradbury, Le Guin, and Leiber. He quit university to become a full-time SF writer, and since then has accumulated an impressive array of awards, including the Norwegian Academy Award, the Ibsen Award, and the Norwegian Cultural Council Award. (JJ)
- Born November 16, 1942 — Milt Stevens. Law Enforcement Analyst, Fan, Conrunner, and Filer. Excerpted from Mike Glyer’s tribute to him: Milt attended his first Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society meeting in 1960 at the age of 17. By 1970 Milt was President of LASFS – he signed my membership card when I joined. He was somebody to look up to who also became a good friend. Milt won the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the club in 1971. He was on the LASFS, Inc. Board of Directors for a couple of decades, and was Chair for around five years. After the original LASFS clubhouse was bought in 1973 Milt dubbed himself the “Lord High Janitor,” having taken on the thankless task of cleaning the place. Milt was among the club’s few nationally-active fanzine publishers and fanpoliticians. He put out an acclaimed perzine called The Passing Parade. He coedited and bankrolled later issues of my fanzine Prehensile. For many years he was a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA). He was Chair of LA 2000, the original Loscon (1975), and later the 1980 Westercon. And he co-chaired L.A.Con II (1984), which still holds the attendance record. He was made Fan GoH of Loscon 9 and Westercon 61. (Died 2017.) (JJ)
- Born November 16, 1952 — Candas Jane Dorsey, 70. Canadian writer who’s the winner of the Prix Aurora Award, and the Otherwise Award for gender-bending SF, for her Black Wine novel. She’s also won a Prix Aurora Award for her short story, “Sleeping in a Box”. She’s one of the founders of SF Canada was founded as an authors collective in the late Eighties as Canada’s National Association of Speculative Fiction Professionals. At the present time, she appears to have little available from the usual digital suspects.
- Born November 16, 1952 — Robin McKinley, 70. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are Sunshine, Chalice and Dragonhaven. Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015, they lived together in Hampshire, England where she still lives. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed!
- Born November 16, 1976 — Lavie Tidhar, 46. The first work I read by him was Central Station which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It certainly deserved that accolade! The next work by him I experienced was The Bookman Histories in which Mycroft Holmes is murdered and, well, everything of a pulp nature gets tossed into alternate history England. Both absolutely brilliant and completely annoying at the same time. I’m just finished Neom which might be one of his best works, period.
- Born November 16, 1977 — Gigi Edgley, 45. Actor and Singer from Australia. Though her genre experiences are varied, I think she’ll be best remembered for her role as Chiana, one of the Nebari, a repressive race that she rebels against, and as a result, becomes a member of the crew on Moya on the Farscape series. Other genre appearances include a role in Richard Hatch’s robot film Diminuendo, and guest parts in episodes of Beastmaster, The Lost World, Quantum Apocalypse and the web series Star Trek Continues (in “Come Not Between the Dragons”). She is a popular guest at SFF media conventions.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Peter Bagge renders Robert A. Heinlein in “The Moon Is a Hot Babe” at Reason. (Via Ansible Links.)
- Candorville isn’t exactly funny, but it does have a genre reference.
(10) HERNANDEZ BROTHERS Q&A. Publishers Weekly celebrates “40 Years of Love and Rockets: PW Talks with Gilbert and Jaime”.
Marking the 40th anniversary of a groundbreaking literary comics series, Fantagraphics Books is releasing Love and Rockets: The First 50 by the celebrated cartooning brothers Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, a boxed eight-volume hardcover set collecting the series’ first 50 issues. The new edition is out this month.
Created by two Mexican American brothers (with occasional contributions from another brother, Mario) and first released as periodical comics (now book collections) by Fantagraphics in 1982, Love and Rockets came to define the budding alternative comics scene of the 1980s. Originally focused on comic, sometimes surrealist science-fiction, the stories of Los Bros shifted into the realm of nuanced naturalistic fiction set within a vividly written and illustrated world of working class Latinx characters….
How did you get into the punk scene, and when did you start working that into your comics?
GH: Growing up, reading and drawing comics, the radio was always on. Later, when we were older, we listened to a lot of glam rock. When punk came along, it was similar, except revved up. It was louder, it was more political. You went to the punk shows in the early days, they were wild, and you had the most stories you could fit into your brain. A lot of those ended up in Love and Rockets.
Jaime Hernandez: It was the first time I was part of a youth culture thing. My characters that I was creating on the side—this was before Love and Rockets—they started to cut their hair. They started to wear punk clothes. It was at the same time that we started thinking about our own culture and putting that in our comics. I think back now and go, “Why didn’t we do that the whole time?” Stories happening in our neighborhood, or at punk shows, were way more interesting than the latest X-Men comic.
(11) WAKANDAN AND ATLANTEAN FASHION STATEMENTS. In Variety:“’Wakanda Forever’ : Ruth Carter on Creating Costumes for ‘Black Panther’ Sequel”.
… “Black Panther’s” costume designer Ruth E. Carter and production designer Hannah Beachler both returned for the sequel. And for the film’s cinematography, Coogler called in Autumn Arkapaw — who is no stranger to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having worked on “Loki” — to help deliver his vision.
A good chunk of the film involves the underwater city of Talokan, where the franchise’s new character Namor [Tenoch Huerta] rules off the coast of Mexico; thus, lots of Mayan art and cultural influences. “We continue to push the artistic elements. We were exploring the deep ocean and looked at different inspirations in Mayan culture, as well as the Aztecs. We were [also] upgrading and reinventing Wakanda,” says Carter. “I remember Ryan saying every time he sees a new Batman movie, the suit is different. He felt that we could upgrade some of the things in Wakanda. So the Dora Milaje warriors got new armor and Nakia [Lupita Nyong’o] got a new suit.”Namor ’s right-hand man Attuma, played by Alex Livinalli, wears a fierce headdress that comes from the sea. Carter says that once Coogler saw concepts of hammerhead shark bone structure, he wanted that for the character’s costume, something that also ties into Attuma’s Atlantean origins. “We went to the historians and showed them some of the things were looking at. We learned about Spondylus shells and jade,” Carter says of the elements used for the costume.
(12) PRESIDENT CARTER. “Helena Bonham Carter Named London Library’s First Female President”. She’s been a member since 1986.
The 180-year-old private library, the first lending library in London, will welcome Helena Bonham Carter as its first female president. The actress has been linked to members of the library through her career, having played characters in an adaptation of founding member Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, and Netflix’s adaptation of Enola Holmes, itself a retelling of London Library member Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock series.
“The library is truly a place like no other, inspiring and supporting writers for over 180 years, many of whom have in some way informed my own career and those of actors everywhere,” she said….
(13) GRAMMY. The 2023 Grammy Award nominations were published in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times. While I do recognize a few genre finalists it doesn’t seem profitable to post those while doubtless overlooking many more due to my unfamiliarity with hit music. If you are so inclined, feel free to name the ones you recognize in comments.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Award-winning game God of War Ragnarök is coming to PS5 and PS4, a fact to which “All Parents Can Relate”. Or so this celebrity-filled commercial claims!
What could real parents learn from the relationship between Kratos and Atreus? Whether you’re a famous celebrity or a troubled god, parenting is always a work in progress. Just ask parent support group leader, Ben Stiller, as he explains to LeBron James, John Travolta and their children how the father/son dynamic in God of War Ragnarök can inspire us all to become better parents – especially when wearing the Kratos costume. God of War Ragnarök arrives to PS5 and PS4 November 9th and these famous families aren’t waiting a minute longer to fully embrace a new way of parenting… well at least the parents.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Chris Rose, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]