Recognizing excellence in the field of mystery fiction and publishing, the 2021 Strand Critics Awards are judged by selected group of book critics and journalists, this year including talent from NPR, USA Today, the LA Times, and Wall Street Journal.
The nominees are:
BEST MYSTERY NOVEL (2020)
Snow by John Banville (Hanover Square Press)
You Again by Debra Jo Immergut (Ecco)
Trouble Is What I Do by Walter Mosley (Mulholland Books)
The Missing American by Kwei Quartey (Soho Crime)
A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin (Little, Brown and Company)
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay (William Morrow)
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger (Park Row)
BEST DEBUT NOVEL (2020)
Amnesty by Aravind Adiga (Scribner)
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Ecco)
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole (William Morrow)
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline (William Morrow)
A Burning by Megha Majumdar (Knopf)
A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers (The Unnamed Press)
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas (Custom House)
THE STRAND MAGAZINE’S PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Josh Stanton, CEO of Blackstone Publishing
THE STRAND MAGAZINE’S LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Joyce Carol Oates
Alexander McCall Smith
The Strand Critics Awards ceremony will be held virtually in early September.
“The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea,” HBO said in a statement.
As of Tuesday morning, the streaming version of the “GOT” episode available on HBO Now and HBO Go had removed the offending cup from the scene. A rep for HBO confirmed the coffee cup was deleted and that future airings of the episode, “The Last of the Starks,” would be of the updated version
…Indeed, irony is sparse in Ted Chiang’s cosmology. It is both a surprise and a relief to encounter fiction that explores counterfactual worlds like these with something of the ardor and earnestness of much young-adult fiction, asking anew philosophical questions that have been posed repeatedly through millennia to no avail. Chiang’s materialist universe is a secular place, in which God, if there is one, belongs to the phenomenal realm of scientific investigation and usually has no particular interest in humankind. But it is also a place in which the natural inquisitiveness of our species leads us to ever more astonishing truths, and an alliance with technological advances is likely to enhance us, not diminish us. Human curiosity, for Chiang, is a nearly divine engine of progress….
(3) MILES TO GO. Rudy
Rucker’s entry for Whatever’sThe
Big Idea is really big!
Real-life road trips end before you want them to. You run into a coastline. The road stops. I wanted a road trip that goes on and on, with ever new adventures, and with opportunities to reach terrain never tread upon before. But how to do that in a car?
I peeled Earth like a grape, snipped out the oceans, shaped the flattened skin into a disk, and put a mountain range around it. Then I laid down a bunch more of these planetary rinds, arranging them like hexagonal tiles on a very wide-ranging floor. All set for a Million Mile Road Trip.
(4) CURRENCY EVENTS. The
New York Times tells about an
unexpected comics publisher in “Splat!
Bam! It’s the Federal Reserve to the Rescue”. The basic info is that the New York Federal
Reserve bank produces comics as teaching tools, and all three have a scifi
…In one scene, a group of itinerant monetary experts lands on Alpha-Numerica (“voted 3,675,927th best place to live”), where a severe recession is underway. Residents of the planet look like pencil erasers, gumdrops and other forms of geometrically sculpted goop. Unemployment is soaring, businesses are failing, and retirees are struggling to survive.
“This is not where I wanted to be at this point in my life,” says one resident, an old purple jelly bean who is sweeping a public square. “Tell me about it,” a younger resident says to itself. This individual, a green egg, wears a cap and gown. In one hand, it holds a diploma; in the other, a sign saying, “HIRE ME?”
The situation is dire but can be solved. What is needed is “expansionary monetary policy,” declares Glix, a green, lizardlike creature who likes to sing and wear capes.
The New York Fed’s Educational Comic Book Series teaches students about basic economic principles and the Federal Reserve’s role in the financial system.
Created for students at the middle school, high school, and introductory college levels, the series can help stimulate their curiosity and raise their awareness of careers in economics and finance. In addition, lesson plans created for each comic book meet national and state standards for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The New York Fed has published comic books since the 1950s and is reintroducing this popular series with a modern spin. While the comic books are intended for a student audience, they are also available to the public.
Filming of a new comic book adaptation, ‘The Owners’ has begun outside of London, in an isolated Victorian mansion in Kent. Based on a Belgian comic book by award-winning artist Hermann (last name Huppen), and written by his son Yves H. ‘The Owners’ is being directed by Julius Berg (‘La forêt’), with a screenplay by Berg and Mathieu Gompel (‘The Dream Kids’). The film’s producers, XYZ Films, are currently shopping the picture around at the Cannes Film Festival.
Heading up the cast is ‘Game of Thrones’ alum Maisie Williams. Joining her are Sylvester McCoy, Rita Tushingham, Ian Kenny, Jake Curran, Andrew Ellis, and Stacha Hicks….
(6) HELP IS ON THE WAY. I
bet readers of the Scroll can’t wait til I get this — “Microsoft
Word AI ‘to improve writing'”. On the other hand, Chip Hitchcock sent
the link with a skeptical comment, “I’ll believe it when the spellchecker
starts handling context well enough to not make dumb corrections.”
A new feature in Microsoft’s Word aims to help improve writing beyond the usual grammar fixes.
Using artificial intelligence, Ideas will suggest rewrites for clunky sentences as well as changes to make sure language is gender inclusive.
It will help users lay out different parts of a document, including tables, and suggest synonyms and alternative phrases to make writing more concise.
It will be cloud-based and initially available to users of Word Online only.
A test version of Ideas will go live in June, becoming more widely available in the autumn.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 7, 1922 — Darren McGavin. Carl Kolchak on Kolchak: The Night Stalker — How many times have seen it? I’ve lost count. Yes it was corny, yes, the monsters were low rent, but it was damn fun. And no, I did not watch a minute of the reboot. (Died 2006.)
Born May 7, 1923 — Anne Baxter. The Batman series had a way of attracting the most interesting performers and she was no exception as she ended playing two roles there, first Zelda and then Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. Other genre roles were limited I think to an appearance as Irene Adler in the Peter Cushing Sherlock Holmes film The Masks of Death. (Died 1985)
Born May 7, 1931 — Gene Wolfe. He’s best known for his Book of the New Sun series. My list of recommended novels would include Pirate Freedom, The Sorcerer’s House and the Book of the New Sun series. (Died 2019.)
Born May 7, 1940 — Angela Carter. She’s often said to be best known for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories where she took took fairy tales and made them very adult in tone. Personally I’d recommend The Curious Room as contains her original screenplays for the films The Company of Wolves and The Magic Toyshop, both of which were based on her own original stories. (Died 1992.)
Born May 7, 1951 — Gary Westfahl, 68. SF reviewer for the LA Times, Internet Review of Science Fiction and Locus Online. Editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders; author of Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy (with George Slusser) and A Sense-of-Wonderful Century: Explorations of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films.
Born May 7, 1968 — Traci Lords, 51. Yes, she did a number of reasonably legit genre appearances after her, errr, long adult acting career. She was for example in The Tommyknockers series along with the first Blade film. She’s also in the SF comedy Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II (I know, weird title that.) And finally, I should note she was Dejah Thoris in Princess of Mars which later re-released as John Carter of Mars. But the way her first post-adult film was a genre undertaking and that was Not of This Earth. Yes, it is a remake of Roger Corman’s 1957 film of the same name.
Born May 7, 1972 — Jennifer Yuh Nelson, 46. She is the director of Kung Fu Panda 2, Kung Fu Panda 3, and The Darkest Minds. Yuh is the first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio. The Darkest Minds is a dystopian SF film which RT gives a rating of 17% to. Ouch.
(8) DRAGON AWARDS SEASON. Vox
Day kicks off a “Dragon
Awards discussion” [Internet Archive link] with his ideas about what comics
published by his Arkhaven imprint ought to win Best Comic and Best Graphic
Novel. Declan Finn jumps in to tell people which of his and his friends’ books
should win the other categories, but meets resistance from a commenter who says
he’d rather vote for Brian Neimeier (another Sad Puppy). There might not be enough
kibble to go around!
Viggo Mortensen has denounced far right Spanish political party Vox after it tweeted a meme featuring the actor playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings.
The meme, shared by the nationalist party’s official Twitter account in April, showed Aragorn lining up to face off against the assembled hordes of Vox’s apparent enemies, including the media, Catalan separatists and a small ghost wearing the colours of the rainbow flag typically used to represent LGBT pride.
“Let the battle begin,” the party tweeted.
In a letter to the editor of Spanish newspaper El Pais, published on Tuesday, Mortensen said Vox’s use of his image was “absurd”.
“Not only is it absurd that I, the actor who embodied this character for [Lord of the Rings director] Peter Jackson, and a person interested in the rich variety of cultures and languages that exist in Spain and the world, is linked to an ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist political party,” the actor wrote, “it is even more ridiculous to use the character of Aragorn, a polyglot statesman who advocates knowledge and inclusion of the diverse races, customs and languages of Middle Earth, to legitimise an anti-immigrant, anti-feminist and Islamophobic political group.”
Last month, Vice President Pence announced that we are headed back to the moon. I am with him, in spirit and aspiration. Having been there, I can say it is high time we returned. When Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and I went to the moon 50 years ago this July, we did so with a mission. Apollo 11 aimed to prove America’s can-do commitment to space exploration, as well as its national security and technological superiority. We did all that. We also “Came in Peace for all Mankind.” More of that is needed now.
Today, many nations have eyes for the moon, from China and Russia to friends in Europe and Middle East. That is all good. The United States should cooperate — and offer itself as a willing team leader — in exploring every aspect of the moon, from its geology and topography to its hydrology and cosmic history. In doing so, we can take “low-Earth orbit” cooperation to the moon, openly, eagerly and collegially.
[…] As matter of orbital mechanics, missions from Earth to Mars for migration are complex. That said, human nature — and potentially the ultimate survival of our species — demands humanity’s continued outward reach into the universe. Call it curiosity or calculation, strategic planning or destiny. Put simply: We explore, or we expire. That is why we must get on with it.
In a world of division and distraction, this mission is unifying — for all Americans and for all humankind. So, I am personally glad we are headed back to the moon — and I thank President Trump and the vice p
(11) DECOROUS THEATERS. According
to The Week:
The Roxy 8 multiplex in Dickson, Tennessee, is defending its decision to call the new HELLBOY movie HECKBOY in signs outside the theater. Manager Belinda Daniel explained that the theater does not use ‘profanity’ on signs. ‘We are located next to an elementary school and across from a church,’ she said.
For centuries, humanity lived with the concept of sweet, salty, bitter and sour – but another flavour was hiding on the sidelines
Kikunae Ikeda had been thinking a lot about soup.
The Japanese chemist had been studying a broth made from seaweed and dried fish flakes, called dashi. Dashi has a very specific flavour – warm, tasty, savoury – and through laborious, lengthy separations in a chemistry lab, Ikeda had been trying to isolate the molecules behind its distinctive taste. He felt sure that there was some connection between a molecule’s shape and the flavor perception it produced in humans.
But as it was just a few years past the turn of the 19th Century, there was not yet a great deal of evidence to support the idea.
Eventually, Ikeda did manage to isolate an important taste molecule from the seaweed in dashi: the amino acid glutamate, a key building block of proteins. In a 1909 paper, the Tokyo Imperial University professor suggested that the savoury sensation triggered by glutamate should be one of the basic tastes that give something flavour, on a par with sweet, sour, bitter, and salt. He called it “umami”, riffing on a Japanese word meaning “delicious”.
(13) LOOK FORWARD
TO YOUR KIWI TOUR. Good
news! Natural heated swimming hole available to visit on your CoNZealand2020
Bad News! May contain a staple of SciFi — The Brain-Eating Amoebas of Kerosene Creek
Kerosene Creek is a natural hot spring near Rotorua, on the North Island of New Zealand. And there have been official warnings for years: don’t put your head under water. It turns out that “brain-eating amoebas”, naegleria fowleri, are a real, if rare, thing.
Chris M. Barkley, JJ, Errolwi, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Tom
Boswell, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
This a signed limited edition (127 of 375) print originally owned by science fiction fan legend Marty Gear. The lithograph shows the cast of the Star Trek the Next Generation TV Series and was commissioned by cast member Brent Spiner (Commander Data) with many given to the cast and crew of the show during the show’s original run as gifts…. This hand signed numbered print was dry mounted and framed by Marty Gear in a silver frame with glass and was bequeathed to BSFS in Marty’s will. It is in perfect condition. We are offering this item for $1,495.00 plus tax and shipping.
Thanks to Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, we’ve entered a golden age of sci-fi and fantasy properties being developed for film and television. It seems that nearly every network and studio has snatched up the rights to old and new classics, with a bevy of projects in production or premiering in the coming months. We’ve compiled a master list of every SFF adaptation currently in the works, from American Gods to Y: The Last Man. And surprising no one, prolific writers Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi each have a number of projects in varying stages of development.
L. Jagi Lamplighter poses the questions in this series described as “Speculative Fiction meets Jung.”
Q: So the group that is interested in exploring gender roles and seeing them as less restrictive probably loves books like Ancillary Justice or Left Hand of Darkness, which do just that. In fact, it was probably a major factor in Ancillary Justice winning the Hugo in 2014.
A: If there’s one thing the two sides in the Hugo controversy agree on, it’s that the most important thing about Ancillary Justice is not the story itself but the way it used pronouns to obscure gender. Everyone is “she” until the narrator has a reason to identify male or female. It’s explained in the story as just part of the narrator’s native language which, like Chinese and Turkish, doesn’t specify gender in a normal sentence. The narrator, writing in English, is forced to make gender choices in every sentence, so instead just uses “she” for everyone. But I had to read some of the story to understand the thing about language, because when people talk about Ancillary Justice, they elevate the single pronoun to such importance that it’s like the story was really just about obscuring gender. If they liked the story, it’s because at last we’re disrupting mental assumptions that gender will always be visible. If they didn’t like the story, it’s because obscuring gender became more important than whatever was happening.
So that’s a great example of the wider culture battle interfering in science fiction and crowning a winner in what might otherwise just be a dispute about literary taste. Once it’s connected to the wider question of how we, in real life, see men and women, then it’s about life and death, good and evil. It’s like they’re saying, “If you don’t like this story, maybe it’s because you want to suppress the “‘other’.” Those who didn’t like the story respond in defensiveness: “well maybe if you like the story, it’s because you care more about message! You just want to disrupt society.” Now it’s no longer about literary taste, it’s about hurting people or destroying the culture, and things “just got real,” as they say. There are pre-existing political sides to take, and these sides are ready to swing into action even if they don’t care about science fiction or fantasy.
Joyce Carol Oates’s short story “Fossil-Figures” from the collection The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares won a World Fantasy Award in 2011. Her story collection Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque was a finalist for the collection award in 1995. The award itself is a bust of H.P. Lovecraft.
At the link is a Twitter conversation about the news that the Lovecraft statue will no longer be used for the award.
And yet, when I pointed out that our dear anti-Puppy friends were behaving like the Nazis did, complete with examples and quotes, I was horrible, just absolutely horrible.
(7) But this is a strange field. John Scalzi wrote a post reassuring the original Sad Puppy, Larry Correia, that when it comes to book tour audiences, “Size Matters Not”.
I’ve been actively touring novels since 2007, when Tor put me on tour for The Last Colony. Since that time, across several tours, I’d say my largest tour event had several hundred people at it, and my smallest event had… three. Yes, three. I was at the time a New York Times best selling, award-winning author, and yet three people showed up to a tour event of mine. And they were lovely people! And we had a fine time of it, the three of them and I. But still: Three.
Because sometimes that happens. And it happens to every writer. Ask nearly any writer who has done an event, and they will tell you a tale of at least one of their events populated by crickets and nothing else. Yes, even the best sellers. And here’s the thing about that: Even with the best sellers, it’s an event often in the not-too-recent past. Every time you do an event, you roll the dice. Sometimes you win and get a lot of people showing up. Sometimes you lose and you spend an awkward hour talking to the embarrassed bookstore staff. Either way, you deal with it, and then it’s off to the next one.
Also, tangentially: the dude on Twitter trying to plink one off of Larry because of the size of his event crowd? Kind of a dick. …
And then those seven or eight or forty or however many people will go home feeling valued by Larry, and they’ll keep buying his books and keep recommending them to friends and others. Because that’s the point and that’s how it’s done. The value of doing a book event is not only about who is in the crowd that day. It’s the knock-on effect from there — building relationships with fans and booksellers, and benefiting when they talk you up to friends and customers and so on….
Last time I talked about some possible nominees for Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. This time I want to focus on Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. In other words, best television episode. (No, not officially, but that’s what it usually comes down to, and let’s ignore the silliness of nominating an Easter Egg or an acceptance speech from the previous year’s Hugos).
I was no fan of the efforts of Puppies to game the Hugo Awards last year. I don’t think I have been shy in my opinions on that subject. But I will give the Puppies this much — their efforts did break the decade-long hold that Dr. Who fandom had on the nominations in this category. I have no problem with episodes of DR. WHO being nominated, and indeed winning, mind you… and the Doctor has won plenty of times in this category over the past decade… but when four of the six finalists are from the same category, that strikes me as way unbalanced and, well, greedy. The Doctor’s fans love their show, I know, but there is a LOT of great SF and fantasy on the tube right now. Nominate DR. WHO, by all means… but leave some room for someone else, please.
Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness serves as the inspiration for many of the authors in The Madness of Cthulhu… it’s masterful in concept and at times in execution. A fusion of Antarctic adventure, science fiction, and early-modern horror, it not only offers chilling passages with an escalating sense of dread and isolation, but also constructs a world horrifying in its implications about mankind…
The second volume contains 14 brand new stories inspired by Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.
(10) As SF Site News explains, “In 2014, SFWA developed an accessibility checklist for its internal events, such as the Nebula Award Weekend or the New York Reception. SFWA has now elected to make the checklist public and available to other events which may desire to have some guidelines.”
Let us go then, me and you,
When the awards are nearly due,
Like shoggoths dissected upon a table;
Let us go, through eldritch winding blogs,
Muttering and wordy slogs,
Of those upset in one-line tweets
And those who pound the well-worn beats:
“PC censorship!”–a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….
Oh, do not ask, “What the hell is that?”
You behold the bust of Lovecraft.
In the room the fans go fore and aft,
Talking of H. Phillip Lovecraft.
(12) Glenn Fleishman visited Amazon’s new brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle to shoot some photos – and in the process caught a labeling error in the sf section where Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is listed as the 2015 Hugo Award winner. (It won in 2002.)