(1) CREATIVE ARTS EMMYS NIGHT 2. Sff was much less prominently featured among the second night 2023 Creative Arts Emmys Winners. (Note: Some categories had multiple winners.)
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation
- Entergalactic; The Simpsons, “Lisa the Boy Scout;” More than I Want to Remember; Star Wars: Visions, “Screecher’s Reach”
Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming
- Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration; We’re Here, St. George, Utah
Outstanding Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program
- Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration
Outstanding Animated Program
- The Simpsons
Outstanding Emerging Media Program
- For All Mankind Season 3 Experience
(Click here for a report about “Night One of the 75th Creative Arts Emmy Awards”.)
(2) QUESTION TIME. Steve Davidson opines “The Fannish Inquisition Needs More Than Soft Cushions and Comfy Chairs” at Amazing Stories. Davidson says that in particular the recent Chengdu Worldcon bid and the 2028 Uganda Worldcon bid needed/needs sharp questioning on human rights. (Note that conventions generally abandoned the “Fannish Inquisition” panel title several years ago; at last December’s Smofcon the event was called “Future Worldcon and Smofcon Q&A”.)
…We’d all like to believe that stepping inside a convention transports us from a real world that is flawed with all manner of injustices, mistaken values and ancient moralities into one where the things that really matter are given their due.
But you can’t do that if the host country doesn’t at least respect those values enough to be hands-off. ANY country that does not operate under one version of a rule of law or another is a potential mine field, because the rules are, in fact, arbitrary, and can change on a political whim….
…Sure, we need to know about the “restaurant scene” in your city, but we also need to know –
How is the LGBTQI community perceived in your culture or country? Can Transgender individuals be arrested for “wearing the wrong clothing”? Will I be arrested for having posted something critical of its government or leaders in my Fanzine? Will my cell phone be scanned? My internet communications monitored and recorded? Will I have to hide my necklace with a Cross or a Star of David on it? Will I be prevented from entering the country because I have the wrong stamps in my passport? Will I disappear because I held hands with the wrong person in public? What are my risks if I travel outside the venue? If I’m female and need a doctor, will a male owner have to be present? Will armed thugs beat me in the street because I didn’t cover my hair?
… I strongly suggest that some additional questions be added to our Fannish Inquisitions. Questions like:
What kind of government does the host country have? Where does it fall on the Corruption Perceptions Index? Why?
Where does the host country fall on the Universal Human Rights Index? If it’s rating is considered to be low, why is that?
Do individuals identifying as LGBTQI enjoy the same rights and freedoms as those who do not? If not, why not? What are the restrictions, if any? What are the consequences for expressing LGBTQI affiliation privately? Publicly?
Do women enjoy the same freedoms as men? The same opportunities? The same protections under the law?…
(3) THEY SAY AI CREPT. [Item by Anne Marble.] The official account for Magic: The Gathering had to admit that some recent marketing images they posted were, in fact, created with AI. As often happens, the company first claimed they were not created via AI. Some have pointed out that perhaps some of the 1,100 people they laid off just before the holidays could have checked the images and kept the company from making this mistake.
And Ars Technica quotes one artist who says he is done with the company after the way this was handled: “Magic: The Gathering maker admits it used AI-generated art despite standing ban”.
…As accusations of AI use in the creation of the promo image grew throughout the day, WotC posted multiple defenses on Thursday (such as this archived, now-deleted post) insisting that the art in question “was created by humans and not AI.” But given the evidence, the situation was too much for veteran MtG artist Dave Rapoza, who has created art for dozens of Magic cards going back years.
“And just like that, poof, I’m done working for Wizards of the Coast,” Rapoza wrote on social media on Saturday. “You can’t say you stand against this then blatantly use AI to promote your products… If you’re gonna stand for something you better make sure you’re actually paying attention, don’t be lazy, don’t lie.”….
(4) IN THE NEWS. Nnedi Okorafor shared happy moment with Facebook readers.
I was featured in New York Times yesterday! A great way to start 2024.
(5) NINO CIPRI SEMINAR. Atlas Obscura Experiences will host a four-part seminar “Thrills & Chills: Horror Story Writing With Nino Cipri” in February/March. Full details and prices at the link.
The horror genre is a funhouse mirror, offering larger-than-life reflections of a culture’s fears and insecurities. Its popularity may rise and fall, but horror is always with us. In this seminar, award-winning author and lifelong horror fan Nino Cipri will guide students through the process of writing horror, from generating ideas to the final revision and submission process. Along the way, we’ll talk about horror’s roots in oral traditions, embracing and subverting tropes, and why we keep coming back to horror even when it can’t compete with real life’s awfulness. This course welcomes writers of all backgrounds and experience who are interested in sharpening their skills and exploring the genre.
(6) THE BLACK AMAZON. On Bluesky (for those of you with access) Jess Nevins wrote a 26-post story about a “real superhero” in 19th-century Paris. Thread begins here.
The concept of the superhero is as old as human culture. (See: Enkidu, “Epic of Gilgamesh”). But “real” superheroes? Vigilante groups have likely been wearing disguises for centuries. Certainly, the Whiteboys of Ireland (na Buachaillí Bána) in the 18th century did. What about women vigilantes?
(7) THE REINVENTED EDITORS Q&A. Paul Semel interviews “‘The Reinvented Detective’ Editors Jennifer Brozek & Cat Rambo”.
Who came up with the idea for The Reinvented Detective?
Jennifer: This one was all me! I have a deep and abiding love of noir detective stories, as well as mysteries in the future. Think Blade Runner / Blade Runner 2049 or any Philip K. Dick type story.
Also, as a member of Gen X, I grew up without the Internet, and was introduced to it in my formative adult years. I remember things that many people have never been without (contact online access, Google, Amazon, and more). My world has changed enough that I can see how technology changes the face of society and how people interact with each other.
And yet…many of the same problems remain. We all live, love, hate, feud, want. We are still human in all the ways that matter. Which means no matter the circumstances, motivations for crimes remain the same. It’s how we see, solve, and punish those crimes that change. That’s what I wanted the stories to be about, and our authors delivered.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 8, 1944 — Richard Bowes. (Died 2023.) Richard Bowes is a fascinating story. He started getting published relatively late in life, in his early forties, with three novels in three years — Warchild, Feral Cell and Goblin Market. Warchild and its sequel, Goblin Market are set in an alternate history version of the New York City, his home city.
A series of stories, mostly published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, were later reworked into his Minions of the Moon novel which won the Lambda Literary Award. One of these stories, “Streetcar Dreams”, would garner a World Fantasy Award for Best Novella.
Dust Devils on a Quiet Street is semi-autobiographical but adds in a dose of the supernatural as it centered around 9/11. It got nominated for Lambda and World Fantasy Awards.
Now my favorite stories by him are his Time Ranger stories mixing fantasy and SF. They’re some of the best such stories and the mosaic novel, as edited by Marty Halpern, From the Files of the Time Rangers, has a foreword by Kage Baker in which she gives her appreciation of his stories. It was nominated for a Nebula Award.
Two of the novelettes that make up this novel, “The Ferryman’s Wife” and “The Mask of the Rex” were originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – were also nominated for Nebula Awards.
(9) THE SOURCE. Gareth L. Powell tries to answer the eternal question “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”
… These ideas can be something complex or something simple, and often come in the form of an answer to a ‘What would happen if…?’ question.
The Embers of War trilogy sprang from an article about the Titanic that I was reading in a dentist’s waiting room. There had been other ship losses before the ill-fated liner, but the Titanic carried a radio and was able to call for help, which meant other ships arrived in time to rescue survivors and relay the tale of what had happened. I started thinking about how different things might have been today, when the ship’s radio could have summoned helicopters and planes and fast-response boats – and as I write science fiction, I naturally projected that situation into space. If space travel became commonplace, I thought, there would need to be some sort of rescue organisation for starships in distress. And from there, I went on to build the rest of the universe around that central notion.
My point is, ideas can come from anywhere. You just have to learn to interrogate them.
Read widely, both within and beyond your chosen genre. Expose yourself to nonfiction, biographies, music, art, poetry. The wider you cast your net, the better your chances of finding something at inspires your creative process. It all goes into the compost heap of the imagination, where unexpected connections happen all the time….
(10) FAMILY TIES. Someone followed this Mark Hamill’s post at X.com with a comment: “Seems to have gone better than your meeting with your father.”
(11) YOU DON’T SAY. The Guardian offers advice about “Where to start with: Wilkie Collins”, the 19th-century author.
Monday marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Wilkie Collins, the Victorian writer known for his mystery novels. His writing became foundational to the way modern crime novels are constructed, and his most famous works – The Woman in White, No Name, Armadale, and The Moonstone – have earned him an international reputation. British crime novelist and Collins fan Elly Griffiths offers a guide for those new to the author’s work.
…the book [No Name] abounds with colourful characters, including the disreputable Captain Wragge and the noble Captain Kirke (a protype of the Star Trek hero?).
(12) AKA TRIBULATION PERIWINKLE. Can scholars identify the works published under the many pen names of Louisa May Alcott? There’s Gould in them thar hills. Max Chapnick tells “How I identified a probable pen name of Louisa May Alcott” in The Conversation.
…Where was this phantom “Phantom” story? Could I find it?
After searching digital databases, I came across one such story, called simply “The Phantom,” with the subtitle, “Or, The Miser’s Dream, &c.” It had been published in the Olive Branch in early 1860, months after Alcott listed having written “The Phantom” in her journals. But the byline under the story read E. or I. – I couldn’t quite make out the first initial – Gould, which wasn’t a known pseudonym of Alcott’s.
So I went to sleep. Sometime later I awoke with the thought that Gould might be Alcott. What if, along with her several known pseudonyms – A. M. Barnard, Tribulation Periwinkle and Flora Fairfield, among others – Alcott had yet another that simply hadn’t been identified yet?
I cannot say for certain that Gould is Alcott. But I’ve encountered enough circumstantial evidence to consider it likely Alcott wrote seven stories, five poems and one piece of nonfiction under that name….
(13) SFNAL ADVERTISING EPHEMERA, CIRCA 1900. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Liza Daly on Mastodon posted some interesting sample pages from “The Mars Gazette: News from Another World”, a circa-1900 advertising pamphlet, that was an illustrated 16-page story of a traveler to Mars who enlightens the sickly malnourished Martians about the virtues of “Liquid Peptonoids”. (A combination of beef, milk and gluten; vegans, lactose-intolerant, and people with celiac disease, beware!) Daly’s post includes a link to the full pamphlet. Some of the illustrations are kinda neat:
(14) PRIVATE LUNAR LANDING NOW UNLIKELY. “US lunar landing attempt appears doomed after ‘critical’ fuel leak” reports AP News.
The first U.S. moon landing attempt in more than 50 years appeared to be doomed after a private company’s spacecraft developed a “critical” fuel leak just hours after Monday’s launch.
Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology managed to orient its lander toward the sun so the solar panel could collect sunlight and charge its battery, as a special team assessed the status of what was termed “a failure in the propulsion system.”
It soon became apparent, however, that there was “a critical loss of fuel,” further dimming hope for what had been a planned moon landing on Feb. 23….
This news has implications for a Star Trek-themed payload that is part of the mission: “Vulcan Centaur rocket launches private lander to the moon on 1st mission” at Space.com.
…The company [Celestis] also put a payload called Enterprise on the rocket’s Centaur upper stage. That mission, aptly named, has been decades in the making. It includes DNA from “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, as well as the remains from several actors from the original TV series, including Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley, who played Lieutenant Uhura, Chief Engineer “Scotty” and CMO Leonard “Bones” McCoy, respectively….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “New Lisa Frankenstein Trailer Brings Awesome ’80s Movie Vibes” says SYFY Wire. The movie arrives in theaters on February 9.
There are a lot of genre movies we’re already looking forward to in 2024, and at the moment, Lisa Frankenstein is near the top of the list. With a great roster of talent behind it, a wonderful dark comedy concept, and a blend of warmth and irreverence, it’s exactly the kind of movie we’re ready to see. Oh, and if you love nostalgia vibes, it’s also got that ’80s movie feeling, and lots of it.
Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) and directed by Zelda Williams in her feature directorial debut, the film follows Lisa (Kathryn Newton), a weird teenager who doesn’t fit in for a lot of reasons, including her taste in men. See, Lisa has a crush, but her crush happens to be on a Victorian man who’s buried in a local cemetery. She visits him, talks to the handsome statue that marks his grave, and dreams of what their life might be like together. Then, a lightning strike unexpectedly reanimates the man (Cole Sprouse), making Lisa’s dreams seemingly come true.
[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Anne Marble, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Randall M.]