(1) BSFA AWARDS CEREMONY. The British Science Fiction Association will present the BSFA Awards in a live YouTube broadcast on Sunday, April 4 at 5 p.m. (9 a.m. Pacific). View here. (See the finalists on BSFA Awards 2020 Shortlist.)
(2) RETURN TO THOSE THRILLING DAYS OF YESTERYEAR. First Fandom Experience is taking entries for the 2021 Cosmos Prize through July 31 – “Illustration Contest! $500 in Prizes!”
The 2020 Cosmos Prize generated a fair amount of interest and some entertaining results, so we’re re-upping with a very different challenge… a challenge from beyond.
This year’s contest seeks illustrations for the twin collaborative stories, “The Challenge From Beyond,” published in the September 1935 issue of Fantasy Magazine.
The prominent early fanzine convinced two sets of professional authors to each develop a story based only on the title — one in the science fiction genre, the other as “weird fantasy.” For the science fiction variant, the contributors were Stanley G. Weinbaum, Donald Wandrei, Edward E. Smith, Ph.D., Harl Vincent and Murray Leinster. The fantasy alternative was penned by C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Jr.
- One Grand Prize consisting of $300us in cash, as well as copies of FFE’s publications: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume One: The 1930s; The Earliest Bradbury; Roy V. Hunt: A Retrospective; and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos.
- One Second Prize consisting of $100us in cash, as well as copies of two FFE’s publication: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume One: The 1930s and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos .
- Two Third Prizes, each consisting of $50us in cash, as well as copies of two FFE publications: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume One: The 1930s and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos.
All prize winners will also receive an FFE lapel pin. Prize-winning submissions will be published on the FFE website and may also be included in future print and digital publications.
(3) RIVERDALE EPISODE RECAP (BEWARE SPOILERS). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Riverdale this year, Archie and the gang graduated high school. The show then jumped eight years, and we found out that Veronica is a venture capitalist, Betty is an FBI agent, and Archie is a veteran who served in combat (but not in any war on our timeline, because the show is set in an alternate-universe 1980s with VHS tapes and no internet). Jughead Jones went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and became a hip novelist complete with groovy goatee. But for reasons I’ll skip, he’s back in Riverdale teaching high school.
Jones gets a phone call from his agent, who looks like Dick Vitale. The agent has placed an excerpt from his new novel with Pop Culture Weekly. “I’ve taken Stephen King’s spot,” the agent says, “but you’ve got to write more like King and less like Raymond Carver.” But Jughead hasn’t written anything on his novel because he’s got writer’s block. What to do?
We learn that Jughead’s first novel was written with the aid of the potent mushrooms grown on Riverdale’s renowned maple trees. These mushrooms are so potent that Jughead wrote a 500-page manuscript while stonkered on shrooms. So Jughead decides to take the mushrooms again, but enlists a friend to help him out.
The friend shows up and turns the mushrooms into a sauce, which Jughead uses to garnish “the first psychedelic hamburger.” So the friend promises to show up and check in on Jughead, but just to make sure he writes, she handcuffs him to his writing chair. So Jughead starts writing, loaded on mushrooms and…
…Well, stay tuned, because Riverdale is off the air until May!
(4) LASKOWSKI CONNECTION SOUGHT. Guy H. Lillian III needs help getting fanzine reprint permission:
In hopes of reprinting some part of his terrific Ted Sturgeon issue of Lan’s Lantern (1991), I am searching for George “Lan” Laskowski’s survivors and for the contributors to that issue (#36). Any assistance will be met with credits in the next edition of my genzine, Challenger, and my effusive gratitude. Also, any directions towards published articles or anecdotes about Ted will likewise be greatly appreciated — as will your own memories or impressions of Sturgeon and/or his work. Help!
Email Guy at [email protected]. Or phone: (318) 218-2345. Or write a letter: 1390 Holly Avenue, Merritt Island FL 32952.
(5) WOOKIEEPEDIA WINDUP. Io9’s James Whitbrook gives a detailed look back at the recent controversy: “Star Wars Wiki Wookieepedia Centered in Trans Deadname Debate”.
…Reaction to Eleven-ThirtyEight’s tweet was immediate, at Wookieepedia and in wider Star Wars circles. Votes supporting the decision to change the policy, as well as discussion around the controversial nature of the vote in the first place, flooded the page. Even prominent figures from the world of official Star Wars works began commenting on the vote, including writers Daniel José Older (currently working on Lucasfilm’s The High Republic publishing initiative) and E.K. Johnston (the writer of multiple Star Wars novels, including Ahsoka and the Padmé Amidala trilogy).
…Throughout the backlash, Wookieepedia’s social presence remained as it usually did—tweeting about Star Wars media highlights and fandom jokes, even as fans in their mentions decried the voting process, and other fandom hubs began to formally decry the site’s position. TheForce.Net’s forums temporarily banned links to Wookieepedia content while the vote was ongoing, and even fellow fan sites like the Transformers franchise wiki TFWiki (not operated by Fandom, Inc.) released statements pushing back against the vote and Wookieepedia’s response to the situation.
(6) FINDING THE PATH TO THE FUTURE. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna asked four Asian-American cartoonists to recommend graphic novels that “speak well to anti-Asian and anti-AAPI racism.” Works recommended include books by Thi Bui, Adrian Tomine, and George Takei with three collaborators. “Four graphic novels that illuminate anti-Asian racism through personal experience”.
Gene Luen Yang slept fitfully the night of March 16 — the day that six Asian women were among the eight people killed in the Atlanta spa shootings. The next morning, he saw that #AsiansAreHuman was trending — a hashtag that felt “disturbingly familiar.”
So Yang did what he has devoted much of his career to: writing and drawing art that promotes empathy and understanding.The Bay Area author created a short-form comic, he said this week, because he was “trying to make sense of what’s happening in America right now” amid a national spike in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic.
“We’re not jokes to make you laugh. We’re not props for the background of your selfie. We’re not punching bags for when you’re angry about a virus,” says Yang’s comic avatar.
Yang, a two-time National Book Award finalist, for “American Born Chinese” and “Boxers & Saints,” posted the comic to his Instagram and Facebook accounts on March 17, drawing thousands of likes and shares.
“People from all over, of all different backgrounds, reached out to me to express solidarity,” Yang says. “I felt understood and that there is a path leading to the future. It exists — we just have to find it.”….
(7) AUTHOR WITH VISION LOSS. [Item by rcade.] The Fantasy-Faction blog has an interview with indie SF/F author Scott Kaelen in which he discusses the challenges of writing with a visual impairment: “Scott Kaelen Interview – The Nameless and the Fallen”.
…The technical side is a problem on several levels. Thankfully, shortly after I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa back in 2001, I took a touch-typing course (not knowing at the time how much I’d benefit from it years later as a writer). So, the writing part is maybe the least of the visual difficulties. What’s harder is when it comes time to do the full revision of a manuscript, painstakingly battling to focus on each word. …
The creative difficulties are much more interesting. When describing what something looks like, I often have to put trust in my memory from when I had better eyesight. Nowadays, even people’s facial expressions are usually lost on me. Hell, I haven’t been able to see my own face well enough to recognize it for years. The hardest part isn’t describing what my point-of-view character is seeing, it’s knowing whether they “should” be able to see it, be it in the darkness, bright light, the corner of their eye, at varying distances, and so on. I’m completely night-blind, and I have tunnel vision, daylight sensitivity, colour blindness, blurry central vision, and distortions. That doesn’t make it easy to write a “normal-sighted” character.
Kaelen’s first novel, The Blighted City, was a semifinalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO). He wrote a personal essay on the Before We Go blog about being discharged from the military when he was diagnosed, going through a “dark decade” and having a surgery 10 years ago that made things much worse:
… I allowed German eye doctors to slice my eyeballs open, take out my lenses and replace them with plastic ones. …
I had comparatively been coping with the night blindness and tunnel vision, but my central vision quickly deteriorated and my depth perception was affected. A room now looked like a faded painting. The smaller details had gone and I could no longer recognise people as easily. I seethed over what the doctors had done to me, how they hadn’t taken into account and told me about the higher chance of complications from such operations for people with my condition. And so, there I was: living in a foreign land, able to converse on a basic level but ultimately unemployable, with extreme difficulties on public transport and in crowded areas, miserable and directionless. I asked myself what I could do to put some purpose into my life. The answer came quickly and stunned me with its apparent simplicity.
I would become a writer…
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- April 2, 2005 — On this day in 2005, The Quatermass Experiment premiered. It was a live television event remake of the 1953 television series of the same name by Nigel Kneale. It was written by Richard Fell and directed by Sam Miller. It starred Jason Flemyng was cast as Quatermass, with long-time Kneale admirer Mark Gatiss as Paterson, Andrew Tiernan as Carroon, Indira Varma as his wife Judith, David Tennant as Briscoe, Adrian Bower as Fullalove and Adrian Dunbar as Lomax. The critics really liked it and it became BBC Four’s fourth-highest-rated program of all time. It’s not that popular at Rotten Tomatoes where the audience reviewers give it only a 47% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born April 2, 1805 – Hans Christian Andersen. Novels, plays, poems, travelogues. He gave us a hundred fifty fairy tales, e.g. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, “Thumbelina”, “The Ugly Duckling”; fantasy for sure, but some amount to science fiction: “The Wicked Prince” (1840) has a ship that can sail through the air, guns that fire a thousand bullets. (Died 1875) [JH]
- Born April 2, 1847 – Flora Annie Steel. Author-collector, lived a score of years in British India. One novel, fifty shorter stories for us; Tales of the Punjab illustrated by John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard; English Fairy Tales; ten other novels, half a dozen other books of shorter stories, a cookbook, history, memoirs, The Woman Question. (Died 1929) [JH]
- Born April 2, 1914 — Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!) That’s it for filmed genre roles but theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth at Sheffield. (Died 2000.) (CE)
- Born April 2, 1921 – Redd Boggs. Minneapolis and Los Angeles fan; big name in the 1940s and 1950s. Fanzines Discord (and Discard), Sky Hook, Spirochete. N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n) Laureate Award as Best Fanwriter. See a 1983 letter from him in Izzard 6 here. More here. (Died 1996) [JH]
- Born April 2, 1933 — Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator who provided numerous book covers for paperback of genre novels for Ballantine Books in the Seventies. He’s particularly known for his work on the paperback editions of Brunner novels such as The Shockwave Rider which you can see here and Stand on Zanzibar that you can see over here. (Died 2016.) (CE)
- Born April 2, 1939 — Elliot K. Shorter. He began attending cons in the early Sixties and was a major figure in fandom through the Seventies. Some of the zines he worked on were Engram, the Heicon Flyer and Niekas. He was the TAFF winner at Heicon, the 28th Worldcon, in Heidelberg Germany. And he helped Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon. Mike has a detailed obituary here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
- Born April 2, 1945 — Linda Hunt, 76. Her first film role was Mrs. Holly Oxheart In Popeye. (Anyone here who’s disputing that’s genre?) She goes on to be Shadout Mapes in Lynch’s Dune. (Very weird film.) Next up is Dragonfly, a Kevin Costner fronted horror film as Sister Madeline. And in a quirky role, she voices Lady Proxima, the fearsome Grindalid matriarch of the White Worms, in Solo: A Star Wars Story. (CE)
- Born April 2, 1948 — Joan D. Vinge, 73. Best known I think for The Snow Queen which won a well-deserved Hugo at Denvention Two and its sequels, her most excellent series about the young telepath named Cat, and her Heaven’s Chronicles, the latter which I’ve not read. Her first new book in almost a decade after her serious car accident was the 2011 novelization of Cowboys & Aliens. And I find it really neat that she wrote the anime and manga reviews for The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies. (CE)
- Born April 2, 1948 – Teny Zuber, age 73. Widow of Bernie Zuber (fanartist and original vice-president of the Mythopoeic Society, d. 2005). Active in and near L.A. in 1970s and 1980s (and BZ much earlier); they promoted the 1978 Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings film. [JH]
- Born April 2, 1953 – Anne Mazer, age 68. Eight novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; twoscore books all told. One Booklist Editor’s Choice, one American Lib’y Ass’n Notable book. Likes Hugh Lofting’s Twilight of Magic, the only HL book illustrated by another (Lois Lenski). [JH]
- Born April 2, 1978 — Scott Lynch, 41. His only Award to date is a BFA for Best Newcomer. Author of Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is now at three, and he’s stated that it’ll eventually be seven books in length. And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors? (CE)
- Born April 2, 1984 – David Dalglish, age 37. Two dozen books, a dozen shorter stories. Has read Sense and Sensibility, Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Foundation. Recommends King’s On Writing. [JH]
(10) ROCKS AROUND THE CLOCK. James Davis Nicoll leads Tor.com readers “In Search of the Classic Hollywood-Style Asteroid Belt”.
If you’re anything like me, you might have enhanced your friends’ enjoyment of space adventure films by pointing out at great length and in fascinating detail just why the crowded asteroid belts backgrounds that appear in so many of these films are implausible and inaccurate! Our solar system asteroids are far from crowded. If you were to find yourself on the surface of a typical asteroid, you probably wouldn’t be able to see your closest rocky neighbour with a naked eye.
Are there situations in which these visuals wouldn’t be misleading? Can we imagine places where we could expect what appears to be an impending Kessler Syndrome on a solar scale?
(11) GOING APE. Camestros Felapton verifies that Greater Sydney is still there and comes home with a movie review: “I Went to an Actual Cinema and Watched Godzilla v King Kong”. It doesn’t seem to me there are any spoilers here, just the same, BEWARE SPOILERS, because how do I know what it takes to spoil your fun?
…It was a big cinema theatre and not very busy. I was the only person I noticed wearing a mask but I had about eight rows to myself. I figured that if I was going to watch a very big ape hit a very big lizard, I should do so in front of a very big screen and as close as possible. This was a wise choice.
Of all the US versions of Godzilla I’ve seen, this one was the most in tune with the Japanese Toho movies. I’ve seen many of the Japanese Godzilla films but only a fraction of the total and often I was drunk or half asleep (because it was late, not because the film was boring), so I won’t claim to be a Godzilla expert. The key for a true Godzilla movie is the plot shouldn’t matter but it should be crammed with weird ideas that flow easily across sci-fi and fantasy tropes. Godzilla v Kong delivers that in sufficient quantity…
(12) TANNED, RESTED, AND READY. “Arnold Schwarzenegger Suited To Deal With Alien Invasion, Per UK Poll” reports Deadline.
Have you ever wondered which public figure would be most fit to lead the world, in the event of an alien invasion? Today, a U.K. poll of 2000 British adults found that the answer is Arnold Schwarzenegger….
On the list of 20 celebrities “who would best deal with an alien invasion,” Independence Day star Will Smith came in second. Interestingly, former President Donald Trump appeared on the list in eighth place, besting current President Joe Biden (in last place) and Vice President Kamala Harris (in 19th). Other celebs that made the list include Sir David Attenborough, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Gillian Anderson, and others….
(13) YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETELY MISSED IT. [Item by Danny Sichel.] SIGBOVIK 2021 was held yesterday and is rewatchable on YouTube.
In science, there are serious questions and silly questions, and serious methods and silly methods. Normal scientific conferences explore serious questions via serious methods. This leaves three whole quadrants of research unexamined. SIGBOVIK, organized by Carnegie Mellon University’s Association for Computational Heresy, fills this much-needed gap.
SIGBOVIK 2021 is the fifteenth edition of this esteemed conference series, which was formed in 2007 to celebrate the inestimable and variegated work of Harry Quarter-dollar Bovik. We especially welcome the three neglected quadrants of research: joke realizations of joke ideas, joke realizations of serious ideas, and serious realizations of joke ideas. (In other words: SIGBOVIK is an evening of tongue-in-cheek academic presentations, a venue for silly ideas and/or executions.)
The proceedings of the past several years of SIGBOVIK are available as free PDFs.
(14) THE NEW NUMBER 2. Jon Del Arroz doesn’t rank anywhere on the poll of public figures who’ll be called on to lead the world in case of alien invasion, so he was understandably pleased with the consolation prize.
(15) NEVER MIND. A NASA press release called “NASA Analysis: Earth Is Safe From Asteroid Apophis for 100-Plus Years” says that NASA, who previously warned that asteroid Apophis could crash into the Earth in 2029, has done recalculations and now says the Earth is safe both in 2029 and in 2068 from an Apophis impact.
Estimated to be about 1,100 feet (340 meters) across, Apophis quickly gained notoriety as an asteroid that could pose a serious threat to Earth when astronomers predicted that it would come uncomfortably close in 2029. Thanks to additional observations of the near-Earth object (NEO), the risk of an impact in 2029 was later ruled out, as was the potential impact risk posed by another close approach in 2036. Until this month, however, a small chance of impact in 2068 still remained.
When Apophis made a distant flyby of Earth around March 5, astronomers took the opportunity to use powerful radar observations to refine the estimate of its orbit around the Sun with extreme precision, enabling them to confidently rule out any impact risk in 2068 and long after.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Watch the pilot episode of Interforce: Seoul, an animated superhero sci-fi actioner with English subtitles
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, rcade, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Danny Sichel, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]