(1) NICOLA GRIFFITH Q&A. “’Hild’ sequel author Nicola Griffith talks about ‘Menewood’” in the Christian Science Monitor.
When did you first learn about the real Hild?
I love old abbeys, old castles, all that kind of thing. But I had never been to [the ruins of Whitby] Abbey until I was in my early 20s. I crossed the threshold of the abbey, and it was like stepping into Narnia. The world just changed. You know when some people talk about the skin of the Earth being thin in some places, this sense of immanence? It was like that for me.
I read in a tourist pamphlet about St. Hilda of Whitby, who founded the abbey, and I wanted to learn more, but there were no books about her.
My question was, why is this woman, from a time when we’re told that women had no power, no influence, no significance whatsoever, still remembered 1,400 years later? Nobody could tell me. I was on fire to find out; I thought what we knew of history must be wrong. This could not have happened if what we think of as history is actually true. So I basically started this enormous controlled experiment. I rebuilt the seventh century. I mean, I researched before I even wrote a word.
I’d been researching that book [“Hild”] for 20 years. I’d been reading everything you could possibly think of, all the medieval plants, everybody’s lists of grave goods. I followed all the archeology magazines and blogs and journals, and I read about the weather. I researched the flora, fauna, jewelry, making textiles. And then the day before my birthday, I thought, I cannot start another year without having done this book. So I sat down and said, I’m going to write one paragraph. And so I did. And there was Hild. And she was 3 years old and sitting under a tree. And I thought, that’s how I’m going to do it. She’s going to learn the world along with the reader.
(2) LE GUIN VIDEOS PART FOUR. The Journey That Matters is a series of six short videos from Arwen Curry, the director and producer of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a Hugo Award-nominated 2018 feature documentary about the iconic author.
In the fourth of the series, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber introduces “There I Am on the Page,” in which Ursula and other writers—including Nisi Shawl and adrienne maree brown—reflect on Ursula’s decision to make many of her characters people of color. Watch “Ursula K. Le Guin on Writing Characters of Color” at Literary Hub.
(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present David D. Levine and Robert Levy on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)
DAVID D. LEVINE
David D. Levine is the author of Andre Norton Nebula Award winning novel Arabella of Mars, sequels Arabella and the Battle of Venus and Arabella the Traitor of Mars, and over fifty SF and fantasy stories, some collected in the award-winning Space Magic. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. His latest novel is The Kuiper Belt Job.
Robert Levy’s novel The Glittering World was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Shorter work has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nightmare, Black Static, and The Best Horror of the Year. He teaches at the Stonecoast MFA Program, and his collection No One Dies from Love: Dark Tales of Loss and Longing is out now from Word Horde.
(4) NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Jon Fosse has won the 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”
(5) LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON DONATES $100K TO PEN AMERICA’S FIGHT AGAINST BOOK BANS. The 2023 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award laureate, American writer Laurie Halse Anderson, is donating $100,000 of her prize money to PEN America’s fight against book bans.
…Many of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books are frequently found on lists of banned books: books that, in some states or districts in the United States, are not allowed to be read in schools or bought by public libraries because of their subject matter or plot. Earlier this year, Anderson received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest award for children’s and YA literature. The prestigious award comes with a cash prize of SEK 5 million ($452,000).
“Public libraries and schools have a duty to offer a broad range of books to the communities that they serve. People who find a book that they don’t like don’t have to read it. They do not have the right to dictate what books other people, or other people’s children, can read. I am proud to support PEN America and their fight against book banners and others bent on destroying our freedom to read. Remember: censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance”, says Laurie Halse Anderson….
(6) THEY WENT APE. Matthew Hays recalls how “50 Years Ago, One of the Gutsiest, Strangest Sci-Fi Movie Franchises Came to a Close with Battle for the Planet of the Apes” at Literary Hub.
When Planet of the Apes opened in cinemas in 1968, its box-office success was surprising even to the filmmakers themselves. After all, the film featured an astronaut survivor named Taylor (played by Oscar winner Charlton Heston) facing off against a planet of actors wearing elaborate ape makeup.
The possibility that the film would seem a giant joke to audiences had already crossed the minds of the suits at 20th Century Fox. The studio had set up an audience screening before they greenlit the project. Producer Arthur Jacobs was commissioned to film a 15-minute short film that would include some actors in ape makeup; if one person in the audience laughed, there would be no movie. No one laughed, and a legendary science fiction film was born.
To kids (I first saw the film at age six), Planet of the Apes seemed a basic movie about an astronaut landing on a planet run by a different species. But when the film arrived, many adults got the film’s multilayered jokes and running commentary: screenwriters Rod Serling and Michael Wilson (adapting Pierre Boulle’s novel) packed every imaginable bit of baggage that would fit into their carefully crafted Trojan horse. As New Yorker critic Pauline Kael immediately intuited, Planet of the Apes was a hate letter to America, full of commentary about slavery, manifest destiny, religious fundamentalism, creationism versus evolution, colorism and racism generally. The extensive medical experimentation done on the humans by apes is a clear reference to the Tuskegee Experiments. That some thought the apes were meant to represent Black Americans was a fundamental misreading of the film; the ape society is clearly a parody of American society, with all of its contradictions (especially the purported separation of church and state).
(7) WRITING POEMS, AND WAITING TO BE ARRESTED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With Chengdu Worldcon in mind, it is worth checking out today’s BBC World Service programme on the life of a Uyghur artist (poet, film and documentary maker) in China.
The programme is very Orwellian.
Tahir Izgil is one of the most highly respected living Uyghur poets. Tahir was born near Kashgar, in Xinjiang province, and from an early age he was immersed in the poetry of his culture. When the Chinese state clamped down on the Uyghur community, he lived under constant threat of arrest, and says he couldn’t even perform his poems. So he decided to try and escape his homeland…
You can listen to it here: “Writing poems, and waiting to be arrested”.
(8) 24TH FANTASIC SHORT STORY CONTEST. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm, contest administrator.] Results are in for the “24th Fantastic Short Story Contest” or “Fantastiknovelltävlingen”, probably the oldest running writing contest in Sweden, organized by writing E-mail list SKRIVA. (The term “fantastik” is here often used for sf, fantasy and horror, the “fantastic” genres.)
1st prize: “Der Berliner Underwellen”, by Kristian Schultz
2nd prize: “Cladosporium¨, by Isak Laestander
3rd prize: “The Cleaning Day”, by Kristian Schulz
There also were five “honorable mentions”.
A total of ca €200 is handed out in prize money plus a diploma and a secret prize… The Google English translation version of the result announcement
The winner 2023 Kristin Schultz also grabbed 3rd place, and despite having a German sounding title — it’s set in Berlin — the short story was in Swedish. An edited summary of the jury’s comments, authors P Lindestrand, K Bjällersted-Mickos and N Krog:
“…well-balanced description of a relationship in disintegration…Very eerie environments and Lovecraftian abominations that dwell in dark cellars…exciting and evocative story about…an underground tunnel populated by a hungry monster. The ending is dramatic, well written and classic…Wonderfully well-written and well-thought-out story about a Mathias and Klara who go on group sightseeing in the Berlin underground…Soon total chaos breaks out. The short story is well structured…A pleasure to read.”
Next contest starts in spring 2024. It will be the 25th and a silver jubilee!
(9) FAN HISTORY ZOOM: EVOLUTION OF FAN ART. The Fan History Project has another great FANAC Fan History Zoom session coming up coordinated by webmaster Edie Stern.
- Evolution of Fan Art with legendary fan artists Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk, Jim Shull and Dan Steffan.
Sunday, October 15, 2023. Time: 4 pm EDT, 1 pm PDT, 9 pm BST (UK) and 7 am (Oct. 16, Melbourne, AU)
To attend, please send a note to [email protected]
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 5, 1945 — Judith Kerman, 78. Can we call her a polymath? She’s a translator, publisher, academic, anthologist and poet. All of her poetry, collected in Uncommonplaces: Poems of the Fantastic, is well worth your time. She did two non-fiction works of which I’m recommending one, “Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, as I’ve a Jones for that literature.
- Born October 5, 1949 — Peter Ackroyd, 74. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoor which tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein. I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film but it has not. But he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his film work.
- Born October 5, 1952 — Clive Barker, 71. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art, which is not to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art. There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his ideas. My personal fave work by him is the Weaveworld novel.
- Born October 5, 1959 — Rich Horton, 64. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year, merged into The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2010. He wrote a review column for Locus for twenty years, signing off this past February. His Strange at Ecbatan blog includes reviews, criticism, and a well-received series that proposes Hugo finalists to fill in the old years when only winners were announced, or even before the award was created.
- Born October 5, 1971 — Paul Weimer, 52. Writer, Reviewer, and Podcaster, also known as @PrinceJvstin. An ex-pat New Yorker living in Minnesota, he has been reading science fiction and fantasy for over 40 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for more than 35 years. A three-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer (2020-2022), he is a prolific reviewer for Nerds of a Feather and contributes elsewhere, including Tor.com, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, A Green Man Review, and here at File 770. He also contributes to the Hugo-nominated fancast The Skiffy and Fanty Show and the SFF Audio podcasts. He was the 2017 Down Under Fan Fund delegate to the Australia and New Zealand National Conventions, and his e-book DUFF trip report, consisting of more than 300 pages of travel stories and stunning photographs, is still available here.
- Born October 5, 1974 — Colin Meloy, 49. He’s best known as the frontman of the The Decemberists, a band that makes use of folklore quite a bit, but he has also written the neat and charmingly weird children’s fantasy Wildwood chronicles which is illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Reality Check shows the rebellion is not going well.
(12) GET READY FOR LIFE DAY. Marvel comics will publish four Life Day variant covers in November – in time for the Wookiee celebration of Life Day on November 17.
Each November, the galaxy far, far away celebrates family, joy, and harmony on Life Day, and this year, Marvel Comics will commemorate this longstanding Wookiee tradition by reflecting these values in all-new variant covers!
Gracing the covers of STAR Wars, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, the four new Life Day Variant Covers come from artists Mike Del Mundo and Rod Reis and feature characters from throughout various eras of Star Wars storytelling, including nods to the original Star Wars Holiday Special. Fans can enjoy heartwarming moments like young Anakin Skywalker sharing a meal with his mother Shmi, Han Solo and Chewie decorating, Chef Gormaanda whipping up a delicious feast, and Doctor Aphra and Krrsantan reuniting for the season!
(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to relive Capclaves past and present during Eating the Fantastic’s lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival.
I love Eating the Fantastic’s lightning-round donut episodes, for which I park myself in a heavily trafficked area of a con with a dozen donuts and chat with anybody who’s up for trading five minutes of talk for a freebie. It’s a fun contrast to my usual well-researched one-on-one conversations, in that it’s completely spontaneous, since I never know the identities of my guests until their eyes alight on my donuts and they choose themselves.
In 2016, listeners were able to eavesdrop on the Readercon Donut Spectacular, then in 2017 the Balticon Donut Extravaganza, in 2018 the Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree, and in 2019 — before the pandemic forced me to take a break from such things — the StokerCon Donut Spooktacular.
Because Capclave — which ended the day before yesterday as this episode goes live — not only has a patio, but this year, unlike last, had weather warm enough for us to gather there, I was able to bring back that tradition. On Saturday afternoon, I sat down out on the patio with two boxes of donuts from Donut King in Kensington, Maryland, and waited for potential guests to materialize.
So join us during the lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival, where you’ll hear R. Z. Held and me bond over rejection, David Hacker explain his love of listening to writers read, Michael Dirda recall why Orson Scott Card once kneeled before him on an elevator, James Morrow share his fascination with Charles Darwin, how Katy Lewis found her husband through Dungeons and Dragons, Michael Walsh’s favorite moment as a con chair (which involved Howard Waldrop, Gardner Dozois, and George R. R. Martin), Bill Lawhorn clarify the creation of the bronze dodo, Sarah Pinsker reveal how and why her first science fiction convention was Capclave, Adeena Mignogna explain why space is cool but space travel gets really hot, Mike Zipzer’s memories of Terry Pratchett’s surprise visit, Sarah Mitchell’s arranging of a secret con wedding, Sunny Moraine opine on how the world’s response to COVID-19 changes our ideas of what would happen in a real-world zombie apocalypse, John Pomeranz chat about how the infamous Disclave Great Flood thrust him into being a hotel liaison — and much more!
(14) WOOF 2023. [Item by Rich Lynch.] WOOF(the Worldcon Order Of Faneditors) will have a collation at the upcoming Worldcon in Chengdu. This year’s Official Editor (OE) is Don Eastlake.
WOOF is an amateur press association (apa) that has been a feature of Worldcons since 1976 thanks to its originator, the late Bruce Pelz. For those who will be attending this year’s Worldcon, there will be a WOOF collection box at the Worldcon for printed fanzines. Alternatively, you can email your WOOFzine as a PDF to <[email protected]>. Your contribution must be received by October 22, Chengdu time. After the deadline passes, the OE will collate all fanzines received into a single PDF document and this assembled mailing will then be made available for download and viewing at efanzines.com, where several previous mailings of WOOF are now archived. (It’s not yet known if there will be any printed copies.)
(15) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.]
Procedure for Chengdu bid supporters to be able to enter the lottery — https://weibo.com/5726230680/NmqACu8fo
Following on from recent items, File 770 commenter Adaoli has documented the process that (Chinese?) supporters of the Chengdu site selection bid have to go through, in order to enter the lottery to attend any of the main ceremonies. (I don’t think this particular quirk was mentioned in those earlier updates, because I didn’t — and still don’t — fully grok all the details.) In my understanding, anyone who had Chengdu membership through supporting that bid — as opposed to buying a new membership or ticket — doesn’t have the purchase number that is necessary to fill in the lottery application, and so they have to go through this process. Amongst other things, this involves calling a telephone helpline.
Some initial Weibo comments about the apparent lack of foreign/Western guests
Via Google Translate. Poster’s identities have been removed, as have the names of authors, which has involved some minor editing for readability. There are multiple comments from certain posters, so I wouldn’t claim that this is a representative sample of Chinese fandom by any means.
- Guest of honor Lukyanenko did not appear (understandably). The willingness of foreign science fiction people to participate in the conference is indeed too low (visible to the naked eye). (I suspect that last bit would be more accurately translated as “invisible to the naked eye”.)
- Many authors who have been inactive for many years have been brought up to make up the number. Foreign guests invited many cartoonists and artists who are not well-known in China. There were only four well-known foreign writers. Yes, this is really embarrassing.
- There is no publicity outside. When I helped distribute flyers at the Japan Science Fiction Convention in August, many people who sold doujinshi didn’t know it was held in Chengdu. (FWIW, this poster has Korean hangul characters in their username, and Weibo indicates they posted that comment from a Japanese IP address.)
- [In] 1991, there were 45 foreign guests at the WSF conference in Chengdu.
- Let’s not talk about European and American writers. I didn’t see the writers from neighboring Japan, [Names of 8 Japanese writers omitted.] It feels not much different from domestic science fiction conventions.
- I checked that there were probably more than 120 foreign guests attending the event in Yokohama 2007. There were approximately 1,210 foreign participants at that conference (the total number of participants was 2,788)
At time of submitting this item, I’ve not seen any general reaction to the schedule – although as the announcement on Weibo went out at 22:52 local time, I’m hoping there’ll be more commentary tomorrow.
Video posted showing the interior of the con site — https://weibo.com/6088652407/4952842881735936
Chengdu-based KanDu News posted this 2:42″ video to Weibo, which is the best look yet at the interior of the con venue. The opening captions indicate it was filmed yesterday (October 3rd), and there’s clearly a lot of interior construction work still underway.
From 0:30 to 0:55 shows the “Hugo Hall”, which is 4000 square meters. The guy talking indicates there’s something special about the video wall; it looks to be translucent and/or visible from both sides? The area shown between 0:55 – 01:10 is (I think) the area for the press and media, and is 1000 square meters.
The structure shown between 1:35 and 2:20 seems like it’s a reproduction of something from the Wandering Earth 2 film, although I haven’t seen that, so I’m unclear what exactly it is.
That organization also posted a video yesterday composed of night drone shots of the exterior — https://weibo.com/6088652407/NmaFNiigG.
Tibet Airlines magazine interview — https://weibo.com/6045346855/NlSyioyiG
Via the Weibo account of Chengdu SF publisher 8 Light Minutes, (what I assume is) the October issue of the in-flight magazine of Tibet Airlines has a 6-page interview with Best Editor (Short Form) finalist Yang Feng, with various photos relating to the history of Chinese SF and the upcoming Worldcon
(16) WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A time-loop, Groundhog Day-type audio play on BBC Radio 4, “We Apologise for Any Inconvenience.”
The being-trapped-in-a-repeating-time-loop trope has an early exemplar film in Groundhog Day (1993) but that was decidedly fantasy.
The SF version was 12:01 (1993) in which the loop was caused by technology. However, the trope’s provenance does not begin there: there was the earlier, Oscar short-listed, short film, 12:01 (1990) which in turn was based on the short story ’12:01 P.M.’ (1973) by Dick Lupoff (who sadly died in 2020).
Alas, challenging Hollywood as to potential plagiarism is arguably hard: it has deep pockets. But you can’t keep a good trope treatment down, and the idea of being stuck in a recurring time loop has been used in a fairly recent Star Trek series as well as an episode of Stargate as well as elsewhere.
And now the BBC has just gotten in on the act with a play on Radio 4 this week: We Apologise for Any Inconvenience, only this time, the principal protagonists are not those actually stuck in the loop themselves but others who happen to encounter the hapless looper that day…
Sebastian Baczkiewicz’s drama takes us to an anonymous northern station at the heart of the rail network on the day everything grinds to a halt. Hundreds of lives go into limbo but one person claims to have been stuck there longer than anyone else. Will his groundhog day ever end?
You can listen to it here.
(17) TOP STREAMING. JustWatch lists the top 10 most streamed movies and TV shows for the month of September.
(18) OVER 20K YEARS OLD. A U.S. Geological Survey “Study confirms age of oldest fossil human footprints in North America”.
In September 2021, U.S. Geological Survey researchers and an international team of scientists announced that ancient human footprints discovered in White Sands National Park were between 21,000 and 23,000 years old. This discovery pushed the known date of human presence in North America back by thousands of years and implied that early inhabitants and megafauna co-existed for several millennia before the terminal Pleistocene extinction event. In a follow-up study, published today in Science, researchers used two new independent approaches to date the footprints, both of which resulted in the same age range as the original estimate.
The 2021 results began a global conversation that sparked public imagination and incited dissenting commentary throughout the scientific community as to the accuracy of the ages.
“The immediate reaction in some circles of the archeological community was that the accuracy of our dating was insufficient to make the extraordinary claim that humans were present in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum. But our targeted methodology in this current research really paid off,” said Jeff Pigati, USGS research geologist and co-lead author of a newly published study that confirms the age of the White Sands footprints….
In addition to the pollen samples, the team used a different type of dating called optically stimulated luminescence, which dates the last time quartz grains were exposed to sunlight. Using this method, they found that quartz samples collected within the footprint-bearing layers had a minimum age of ~21,500 years, providing further support to the radiocarbon results…
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George is there when “The Eggplant Emoji Finds Out” what everybody uses it for.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Kathy Sullivan, Scott Edelman, Joe Siclari, Rich Lynch, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]