Let’s begin with Peter S. Beagle here and post the rest of Daniel Dern’s gallery after the jump —
Peter S. BeagleContinue reading
Let’s begin with Peter S. Beagle here and post the rest of Daniel Dern’s gallery after the jump —
Peter S. BeagleContinue reading
(1) AN EAR FOR OLD SFF. James Davis Nicoll’s young people weigh in on another classic: “Young People Listen to Old SFF: Foundation by Isaac Asimov”.
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy1 was in fact three fix-ups of shorter pieces assembled into three volumes. Strongly influenced by Edward Gibbon‘s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the series set out to depict the collapse of the Galactic Empire and the attempt by scientists to shorten the ensuing dark age. The series is highly regarded: two sections have won retrospective Hugos and the trilogy as a whole won the Hugo for Best All Time Series in 1966.
The BBC’s radio adaptations are also highly regarded. Surely, combining a respected classic with the BBC’s resources must result in something that will delight and entertain my young readers. Right?
What are my other choices besides “Right”?
(2) SFWA GRANTS. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has announced its Giver’s Fund Grants for 2019.
SFWA Giver’s Fund grants totaling $46,837 have been awarded to:
Giver’s Fund grants are awarded to support programs that further SFWA’s mission, which is to promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing in the United States and elsewhere, by educating and informing the general public and supporting and empowering science fiction and fantasy writers.
(3) GUESS WHO’S NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF SFWA. Lou Antonelli says he was going to run for President of SFWA (“Maybe some other day”) but there was one little problem – he isn’t eligible. He says SFWA Executive Director Kate Baker notified him —
Thank you for being willing to run for office. Unfortunately, your membership lapsed in the last two years which makes you ineligible to run for the board. Additionally, you would need to have previously served on the board in some capacity to engage a run for President.
(4) 2021 WORLDCON BIDDERS NEED TO FILE. Johan Anglemark reminded bids to host the 2021 Worldcon must be submitted by February 15, 2019, either to email@example.com or to Worldcon 2021 Site Selection, c/o Anglemark, Lingonv. 10, SE-74340 Storvreta, Sweden.
The required information includes:
• bid location
• bid facilities
• bid date
• committee chair(s)
• committee members.
Please also provide the bid website URL and a contact email address.
Refer to the WSFS Constitution – http://www.wsfs.org/…/WSFS-Constitution-as-of-August-21-201… – sections 4.6 – 4.7 for more details. The Dublin 2019 Site Selection team will send a confirmation email to the contact email address in your bid declaration when we receive your bid information.
NOTE: An online announcement, listing on the Worldcon.org bids page or web site is not sufficient to formally file your bid.
(5) AND STRAIGHT ON ‘TIL MORNING. For Tor.com readers, James Davis Nicoll analyzes the difficulty of “Mapping the Stars for Fun and Profit”.
When you read a novel, short story, etc., you may be given hints as to star locations and the distances from star to star. Most of us just take those vague gestures at maps as given and focus on the exciting space battles, palace intrigues, and so on. Only a few nerdy readers (ahem!) try to work out star positions and distances from the text. And only a few authors (like Benford and McCarthy) provide maps in their novels. There are reasons why maps are generally left out, and who notices an absence?
Roleplaying games (RPGs), on the other hand, have to give the players maps (unless all the action takes place in one stellar system). If you are plotting a course to Procyon A, you need to know just where it is and how long it will take to get there. Game companies have experimented with several approaches to the mapping problem; most are unsatisfactory.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(7) THE MARTIAN PARTICLES. NPR is “Exploring The Mysterious Origins Of Mars’ 3-Mile-High Sand Pile”.
Scientists have evidence that a mountain 3 miles tall, in the middle of a crater on Mars, may be made largely from dust and sand.
To get the data for that surprising conclusion, the researchers MacGyvered a navigation instrument on the NASA rover Curiosity, and turned it into a scientific instrument.
The idea for repurposing the Rover Inertial Measurement Unit came from Kevin Lewis.
“It kind of frustrated me that we didn’t have a surface gravimeter on Mars,” says Lewis, a member of the Curiosity science team, and an assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences at Johns Hopkins University.
(8) WONDERFUL THINGS. “Tutankhamun’s tomb restored to prevent damage by visitors” – BBC has the story.
A nine-year project has been completed to restore the tomb of ancient Egypt’s boy king, Tutankhamun, and address issues that threatened its survival.
Experts from the Getty Conservation Institute repaired scratches and abrasions on the wall paintings caused by visitors to the burial chamber.
The paintings were also affected by humidity, dust and carbon dioxide introduced by every person who entered.
A new ventilation system should reduce the need for future cleaning.
New barriers will restrict physical access to the paintings, while a new viewing platform, lighting and interpretive signage will also allow visitors to better see the tomb and understand its historical and cultural significance.
(9) STARS LIKE… Is that a hidden galaxy in your pocket, or a grain of sand, or are you just happy to see me? Gizmodo tells how “Astronomers Accidentally Discover a Hidden Galaxy Right Next Door”.
One moment you’re investigating a globular cluster, and the next you’re unexpectedly writing a research paper about something else entirely, namely the discovery of previously unknown dwarf spheroidal galaxy. But that’s how it goes sometimes, and the authors of the new study, published this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, couldn’t be happier.
(10) SIPS OF FIRE. Charles Payseur reviews the short fiction in the latest Fireside — “Quick Sips – Fireside Magazine #63”.
There’s some big goings-on at Fireside Magazine in 2018, and January kicks off with five original stories plus an original poem. The pieces can be rather short (the poem might be longer than a number of the stories), but that doesn’t mean they pack less of a punch. The pieces range from deeply dark to lighter and so so cute, from epic and unexpected to unsettling and tense. The relationships that the pieces introduce, though, are complex and interesting and enlightening. From a father desperate to give his son a better life to a spouse unsure how to talk about what’s happening to them without draining those they care about. The piece looks at impossible situations, or situations that seem impossible, and shows how people move forward regardless. To the reviews!
(11) YA PERSPECTIVES. Vulture writer Kat Rosenfeld has organized the social media links, identified the players, and provided some analysis about the controversy around Amélie Wen Zhao: “The Latest YA Twitter Pile On Forces a Rising Star to Self-Cancel”.
Whether Zhao was guilty of any of the above is still up for debate, particularly in the absence of a finished book. (Blood Heir was not slated to publish until June; some reviewers had advance copies.) But unless we want to eliminate the Death Song trope from fiction or ding Tolkien’s own use of paraphrased Bible passages, the plagiarism allegations are shaky at best — and the charge of racism, led by a series of caustic tweets from YA fantasy author L.L. McKinney, relies on both a subjective interpretation of the word “bronze” and an exclusively American reading of scenes involving slavery. Nevertheless, the latter allegations caught the attention of social-justice-minded readers, and the controversy began to balloon. A smattering of one-star reviews cropped up on Zhao’s Goodreads page. Book bloggers began announcing that they no longer intended to read Blood Heir. In a tweet thread that did not name or tag Zhao but was clearly about her, well-known author Ellen Oh wrote, “Dear POC writers, You are not immune to charges of racism just because you are POC.”
It’s worth noting here that the role of Asian women within YA’s writers of color contingent has been a flashpoint for conflict before — one that led Zhao to butt heads with YA queen bee Justina Ireland in May 2018. After Ireland wrote a (since deleted) tweet that some readers interpreted as exclusionary gatekeeping of the “POC” label, Zhao launched a long thread asserting that Asian women are, indeed, women of color, including some pointed language about those who would suggest otherwise.
“You can delete your tweets, and we’re not going to come into your mentions, but ask yourselves why you wrote those/agreed with those in the first place, and why there is such an outcry. While we’re on the valid issue of anti-POC within POC groups, examine your own beliefs, too.” (She did not tag Ireland, but needless to say, everyone knew whom she was talking about.)
(12) SOUND FX. An old behind-the-scenes clip has surfaced of the foley work behind the sound of the malfunctioning for the Millennium Falcon (“Vintage Star Wars Video Explains the Sounds Behind the Millennium Falcon”).
The Star Wars franchise is full of some of the most recognizable sound effects to ever grace the big screen. Now, thanks to an unearthed video from 1980, the sounds that make up the Millennium Falcon failing to make it to hyperspace have been revealed. As is the case with nearly all other sound effects, the iconic ship’s sounds are made up of from more than one source and then mixed together to create something brand-new and unique. Hardcore Star Wars fans can probably already hear the iconic sound in their heads and don’t even need to pop in The Empire Strikes Back for reference.
A New Hope sound engineer Ben Burtt demystifies the Millennium Falcon failed hyperspace sound in a quick two-minute video. To make the noise, Burtt relied on five different sounds to achieve what he was hearing in his head. The inertia starter of an old 1928 biplane, an air jet recorded in a dentist’s office, the sound of an Arclight motor starting and stopping, the sound of a motor located in the turret of an armored tank, and the pipes underneath a broken sink in the bathroom at the recording studio were all used to make the sound in The Empire Strikes Back.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip WIllams.]
(1) ROBSON ON WORLDBUILDING. Juliette Wade interviews celebrated author Kelly Robson in her latest Dive Into Worldbuilding hangout — “Kelly Robson and ‘Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach’”. Wade has both notes on the interview and a video at the link.
This hangout looks twice as exciting now that Kelly has gone on to win a Nebula in the meantime (for her novellette, A Human Stain)! It was a pleasure to have her on the show to talk about her recent novella, Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.
Kelly started out by telling us about how critical economics was to this story. She’s passionate about economics! (And so she should be; worldbuilding without economics is flimsy.) She calls it “the physics of worldbuilding.” She told us that when she was first writing historical fiction, she began with medieval settings because it seemed more straightforward to manage, but that since then, she’s branched out into greater challenges. In this story, the historical portion is set in Mesopotamia!
(2) RECAP. Shannon Hale, one of the principals in the story, gives her own rundown of yesterday’s FanX antiharassment news in “My FanX craziness, annotated”.
Since this has blown up and become news, I’m going to lay out here all my interactions with FanX (Salt Lake City’s Comic Con).…
(3) IN TUNE. Olga Polomoshnova shares her analysis “On Lúthien’s power of singing” at Middle-Earth Reflections.
The fairest of all Children of Ilúvatar, Lúthien is not an ordinary character. Being the daughter of an Elf and a Maia, she inherited various traits of both kindreds. Among many of her gifts and skills singing was one of the most exceptional. However, when it comes to talking about Lúthien’s singing, we should bear in mind that hers was not renowned just for being done in a beautiful voice. Lúthien’s songs possessed special power
(4) REALITY SHOW. Tom McAllister tells new writers to recalibrate their expectations in “Who Will Buy Your Book?” at The Millions.
Before I ever published anything, I’d assumed that if I ever finished a book, there would be so much demand from family and friends alone that we’d have to go into a second printing before the release date. But I am here to tell you: most people in your family will never buy your book. Most of your friends won’t either.
I have a handful of friends and family members—people I consider close to me, people I see regularly—who have never come to any of my dozens of book events. I don’t know if they own any of my books because I haven’t asked, but I have a pretty good guess. After my first book came out, I would peruse friends’ bookshelves, trying to determine their organizational system (if it’s not alphabetical, then where is my book? Maybe they have some special hidden shelf for books they truly cherish?). On a few occasions, I called them out for not having it. This accomplished nothing, besides making both of us feel bad.
The point of this piece is not to shame those people or to complain about not getting enough support. It’s just to say: whatever you think it’s like after you publish a book, it’s actually harder than that.
(5) PAYSEUR. Quick Sip Reviews’ Charles Payseur covers “Beneath Ceaseless Skies #251”, which, coincidentally has a story by Jonathan Edelstein.
It’s a rather quick issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, with two stories linked in a way by their length (neither of them over 2500 words, which is unusual for the publication). But it lends both stories a sort of impact, and a feeling of anticipation. In the first, that means having to wait for the results of a very important test. In the second, that means having to wait for the results of a very important confrontation. In both, there are certain indications that might guide readers otwards guessing what happens next, but both times it’s left up in the air what _actually_ transpires after the final stories end. What it is certain is that both look at characters struggling to solve tricky problems, ones where they have been made culpable of a misstep and are desperate to find a way forward. So yeah, to the reviews!
“The Examination Cloth” by Jonathan Edelstein (2232 words)…
(6) LAW WEST OF THE EAST RIVER. The New York Times Magazine offers the verdict of “Judge John Hodgman on Children Watching James Bond Movies”. Here’s the problem —
Ren writes: Our children, ages 7 and 9, love James Bond movies. We’ve seen almost every one, but my wife doesn’t want them to see Casino Royale. It’s often referred to as the best Bond, but she believes it is too inappropriate for them. Can you help? I’d like to watch the movie with my kids, who are James Bond fans just like me.
John Hodgman’s answer:
Of course 7-and 9-year-olds like movies with cars that fly. But they don’t love problematic gender portrayals and seventh-grade-level sex jokes. That’s why Ian Fleming wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for children and the James Bond series for man-children. But if Casino Royale (which is great!) is truly the last one you have left, why not? Why not complete your experiment and cuddle up with your kids and watch Daniel Craig be tortured in a very private area? No one can stop your mad plan now. Not even you, Mr. Bond!
(7) GOLD OBIT. Virtuoso movie poster creator Bill Gold died May 20 at the age of 97. His iconic work included Casablanca and The Exorcist.
Mr. Gold comfortably spanned the years from paperboard to the computer era, and many of his posters became nearly as famous as the movies they promoted. Some won design awards; many were coveted by film buffs, sold at auctions or collected in expensively bound art books. The best originals came to be considered rare and costly classics of the genre.
For Michael Curtiz’s “Casablanca” (1942), Mr. Gold’s second assignment, he drew Humphrey Bogart in trench coat and fedora, dominant in the foreground, with a constellation of co-stars — Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid and others — in the airport fog behind him. To raise the drama, Mr. Gold put a pistol in Bogie’s hand. And he put fear and regret, not love, in Ms. Bergman’s eyes, to avoid stepping on his last lines.
(8) COMICS SECTON.
(9) SHORT STUFF. Camestros Felapton walks us through his rankings in “Hugo Ballot 2018: Short Story”.
…It doesn’t feel that long ago that the talk was whether the SF short story was dead or close to death. The impact of Sad Puppy campaigns and Rabid Puppy vandalism hit the short story category hard. And what an emblematic category it had been for the Hugo Awards and science fiction! American style science fiction had grown out of the short story style and some of the greats of SF were intimately connected with shorter form fiction. Ray Bradbury especially but also Issac Asimov – The Foundation Trilogy being one of many SF classics that grew from connected shorts.
The Hugo finalists this year are a set of entertaining and varied reads. There’s not one theme or style and there are elements of fantasy and science-fiction as well as some classic twists.
(10) KATE BAKER AT WORK. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak points to Clarkesworld where people can “Listen to one of the best short science fiction podcasts right now”.
In the years since she became the full-time narrator for the podcast, Baker has become the de facto voice for the podcast, an experience that she says is “surreal.” “I view it as a huge responsibility and an honor,” she says. “because I get to go and be in someone’s ear, and I think that’s an intimate power, and I don’t ever want to abuse that.”
Baker doesn’t read or rehearse the story before recording, and while she notes this approach has burned her a couple of times, the “biggest draw to this whole job is the fact that I’m experiencing the story along with the listener for the first time, and I can experience those emotions with the listener. If you’re hearing my voice crack or if I sound stuffy because I had to walk away because I started crying, that’s all pretty genuine.”
That’s something that shines through: a recent episode featured Rich Larson’s heartbreaking short story “Carouseling”, and you can hear her voice break after she finishes reading the story. This emoting, along with Baker’s long-standing narration for the podcast, provides a familiar and consistent warmth that subtly enhances each story that the magazine produces. The result is not only a catalog of powerful short fiction, but one that’s also presented in a voice that makes them even better.
(11) CHINESE BOTS. My brethren are bound for Luna. “China launch will prep for Moon landing”.
“The launch is a key step for China to realise its goal of being the first country to send a probe to soft-land on and rove the far side of the moon,” the state news service Xinhua quoted Zhang Lihua, the satellite project’s manager, as saying.
In addition to its onboard communications equipment, Queqiao will also carry two scientific instruments and will deploy two microsatellites.
The forthcoming Chang’e 4 mission will explore the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin with a payload of scientific instruments. It is a key step in China’s long-term plan to further its ambitions as a major space power.
China previously landed a robotic lander and rover, collectively known as Chang’e 3, on the Moon in December 2014. The rover continued to transmit data until March 2015.
(12) STONY END. BBC tells about plans for “Turning carbon dioxide into rock – forever”.
With rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2, scientists have been testing “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) solutions since the 1970s.
CarbFix, however, stands out among CCS experiments because the capture of carbon is said to be permanent – and fast.
The process starts with the capture of waste CO2 from the steam, which is then dissolved into large volumes of water.
“We use a giant soda-machine”, says Dr Aradottir as she points to the gas separation station, an industrial shed that stands behind the roaring turbines.
“Essentially, what happens here is similar to the process in your kitchen, when you are making yourself some sparkling water: we add fizz to the water”.
The fizzy liquid is then piped to the injection site – otherworldly, geometric igloo-shaped structure 2km away. There it is pumped 1,000m (3,200ft) beneath the surface.
In a matter of months, chemical reactions will solidify the CO2 into rock – thus preventing it from escaping back into the atmosphere for millions of years.
(13) HOW IT BECAME A KILLER. From the BBC: “Malaria genetics: study shows how disease became deadly” — relatively recently — and a warning to watch for other parasites and viruses jumping species.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million people are infected with malaria every year; the disease caused the deaths of almost half a million people globally in 2016, and the majority of those deaths were children under the age of five.
By far the deadliest species of the parasite which causes this global health scourge is Plasmodium falciparum.
While this species infects and often kills people when injected through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito, there are many other related species which infect some of our great ape cousins – chimpanzees and gorillas.
To study those, the researchers collaborated with a team caring for injured and orphaned apes in a sanctuary in Gabon. As part of the animals’ health checks, veterinary staff take blood samples from them.
“It turns out that healthy animals have a really high background level of parasites in their blood,” Dr Berriman told BBC News. “[These animals] are blissfully ignorant of the scientific value in their blood.”
The blood samples provided a series of malarial genetic codes that the scientists could use to trace its evolutionary history.
“We don’t have fossils for tracing the history of a parasite,” said Dr Berriman.
(14) WATCHMEN PITCH. ComicsBeat is less skeptical after seeing how “Damon Lindelof details new WATCHMEN television adaptation in open letter”.
But recently, reports began to spring up that the showrunner might be taking a completely different approach to the material. Instead of a mannered, straight adaptation of the 12 issues or any kind of extrapolation thereof, he was instead comparing it to what Noah Hawley has been up to with FX’s Fargo: a series whose world is informed by the original property, but not beholden to it in terms of character or plot. In short: think of it as “stories taking place in that same world, at any time period you can think of”. It’s great, with a capital “G”.
And today, Lindelof has spoken in more specific (maybe) terms, with a letter he posted on his Instagram, to give the public an opportunity to dig into his headspace a bit regarding his overall pitch for the series…if it sounds familiar, well…it should:
More at the link.
(15) ZOMBIE EMERGENCY. Not “Florida man” this time: “Florida city apologizes for alert warning of zombies”.
Officials in a Florida city apologized for an emergency alert that warned of a real power outage and a not-so-real “zombie alert.”
The alert, sent out by the city of Lake Worth early Sunday, warned of a “power outage and zombie alert for residents of Lake Worth and Terminus,” referencing a city from AMC’s The Walking Dead.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr. Horrible copyediting courtesy of OGH.]
(1) FIGHT TO THE FINISH. Unbound Worlds, the Penguin Random House website for sff fans, is running Cage Match 2018: Creature Feature, a March Madness-style original fiction bracket tournament.
For the first time, Cage Match will feature an all non-human bracket of 32 characters — monsters, murderbots, mythological beings, and more from SF/F books — in battles to the death written by acclaimed authors.Contributors include Liana Brooks, C.A. Higgins, Seanan McGuire, Tina Connolly, and many others. Below are links to a couple of Round One matches.
- Seanan McGuire’s (Tricks For Free) battle between Pennywise, a shapeshifting monster turned sinister clown from Stephen King’s It and Shelob, a venomous spider from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Read it here.
- Michael Poore’s (Reincarnation Blues) account of Deep Thought, the supernatural computer from Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy vs. Lovelace/Sidra, a sentient computer from Becky Chambers The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet. Read it here.
Some of the other creatures from classic and contemporary science fiction and fantasy are:
- Cthulhu, a massive, octopoid god-being from the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
- Drogon, the largest and most aggressive of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons from A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin.
- Iorek Byrnison, an armor-clad polar bear warrior from Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.
- Murderbot, a self-aware robot that hates humans from Martha Wells’s The Murderbot Diaries.
- Pennywise, a shapeshifting monster turned sinister clown from Stephen King’s It.
- War, a supernatural horseman of the apocalypse from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
Also new for Cage Match 2018 is a special creature-themed Spotify playlist.
(2) BRADBURY IS BACK. As Bill Oberst Jr. describes his exciting new project, Ray Bradbury Live (forever):
Rockets To Mars.
Ray Bradbury Live (forever) has them all. It’s a smart show; alternatively funny, sppoky and biting; a mix of Epcot ride, Planetarium show and dream.
The Show: Like Mark Twain Tonight, or The Bell of Amherst. But with dinosaurs.
Ray Bradbury Live (forever) is licensed for performance by the Ray Bradbury Estate, with script approval by the family.
Bill is doing the first staged reading in NYC at Theatre Row on April 12th at 7 p.m. It’s not the full production, just a reading, but it will give an idea of the piece. Jeff Farley is doing the prosthetic make-up for the actual show when it opens. The plan is to debut Off-Broadway in 2019 and then tour it nationally (and maybe overseas, too.) This first reading is the first baby step.
As a reminiscence, here is a promotional graphic from Bill’s 2015 Bradbury-themed performance in LA:
(3) WITHOUT RESERVATION. Adweek explains “Why the Overlook Hotel From The Shining Got an Ad on the Oscars”.
The one hotel in the world where you really don’t want to stay got a high-profile commercial on the Oscars telecast tonight—38 years after it first terrified people on the big screen.
The Overlook Hotel, which was the setting for Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror movie The Shining (based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name), was the ostensible advertiser behind the 30-second spot—which invited you to enjoy a “quiet, remote family getaway” at the “newly renovated” property, where “there’s a surprise around every corner.”
… A few seconds at the very end of the ad reveal the true advertiser—the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, a new museumdedicated to the art and science of movies that will be opened in Los Angeles in 2019 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (which runs the Oscars).
(4) INTERSECTIONALITY. Damien Walter has an intriguing idea for explaining a theoretical concept: “The trouble with intersectional political alliances as illustrated by Star Wars”.
Intersectionality is a powerful idea conveyed in an overcomplicated word. But Star Wars is a great way to understand it better.
…From what we see, Rebel X-Wing pilots are predominantly male, blue collar guys with security / technical backgrounds. In contrast the alliance diplomatic corps lead by Mon Mothma and Leia seem to be mostly women with liberal arts / humanities educations. These two groups probably see the rebellion very differently, and have to continually negotiate to find a good working relationship.
The Mon Calamari cruisers can take on multiple Imperial star destroyers at once, but were only converted for military function after the Mon Calamari were targetted and nearly wiped out by Imperial forces. No doubt Admiral Ackbar feels his people are the real leaders of the rebellion, and as allies the humans, who basically caused all these problems with their history of colonialism, should damn well shut up and take orders.
Who knows what the Bothans want from the whole thing, but many of them died to recover those plans, so they probably expect a cut of any political settlement when the Republic is re-established.
In real life we have a word for the problems of factionalism faced by Liberal political alliances.
(5) SEE STOKERCON. Ellen Datlow shared her photos of StokerCon 2018 on Flickr. Posing for the camera here are Craig Engler and the electrifying Scott Edelman.
(6) THE SHAPE OF DOLLARS. Are you up on the charges of plagiarism made against the makers of the movie The Shape of Water? If not, Time.com posted a summary today, immediately after the film won the Academy Award: “Everything to Know About the Shape of Water Plagiarism Controversy”.
Jim Meadows sent the link together with his commentary:
The whole thing got my attention, because I can remember watching “Let Me Hear You Whisper”, the Paul Zindel play that Zindel’s family says was unauthorized source material for The Shape of Water. The Time article mentions a 1990 TV movie (actually an episode in an artsy drama series on the A&E cable channel, according to IMDB). My memory is of an earlier production, in 1969, on the NET Playhouse series that ran on public television throughout the mid and late ’60s. My memories were reinforced a few years later when I found the play published in a 1970s Roger Elwood anthology, Six Science Fiction Plays.
I have not seen The Shape of Water, but the common points seem to include: a female janitor striking up a relationship with an intelligent aquatic creature housed in a research facility, with ensuing conflict between hard-headed scientists and the more romantic janitor. In Let Me Hear You Whisper, the creature was a talking dolphin, which I remember being a thing in SF back then. But unlike The Shape of Water, there was no physical relationship, just compassion on the janitor’s part for the dolphin’s plight. From the Time article, I gather there are other points of both similarity and difference.
The interesting question that makes this story more than One More Thing in the news is that of what counts as plagiarism. In science fiction, and, I suspect, other genres, there are countless stories that are essentially about the same thing. When is plagiarism, in the legal sense, involved? How many stories about, for instance, traveling to the moon for the first time, are actually very similar? Or telepathy? Or nuclear holocaust? If the plot-line goes in a different direction, or if certain basic elements are changed — a biped “river god” instead of a dolphin, for instance —- does that cancel out the charge of plagiarism? Among all these stories, how many cases exist that would meet legal grounds for a plagiarism charge? What is the precedent in these cases? Perhaps most importantly in a real-world sense, who could win a lawsuit?
Perhaps a lot of people could, but those lawsuits are never filed because most cases do not involve celebrated, money-making movies, but obscure stories in low-circulation magazines.
…So far I have visited more than 100 conventions in Poland. Their size ranged from less than 50 members to over 40 000 members. Among them were manga and anime cons, SF&F cons, some of them were multigenre and some were focused solely on gaming or on a particular franchise. I would like to pack all of those experiences with me. This way I can share pictures, memories and talk about the general Polish approach to conrunning and congoing….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Steven H Silver paid tribute at Black Gate with “Birthday Reviews: Mike Resnick’s ‘The Evening Line’”:
…In this particular story, Plug Malone has hit it big at the races and when word gets out about his good fortune, he finds himself facing a huge number of fortune-hunting women looking for a husband. The story, both stylistically and in its depiction of men and women, is very much a throwback to the period in which [Damon] Runyon was writing his Broadway stories.
The story sets Malone’s desire not to get married against the various citizens of Broadway stating that as soon as he has money, women will want to marry him, turning the first line of Pride and Prejudice askew….
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Mike Kennedy sent in a trio —
(11) TAKE WEIRD TO THE NEXT LEVEL. The Dark Magazine has launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund ”Two More Years of Unsettling Fiction”.
The Dark Magazine has been around for five years and in that short period of time we have published award-winning stories by new and established authors; showcased great artwork from all corners of the world; and done it all on the backs of a small team of simply wonderful people. But now it is past time to take it to the next level, and help finance the magazine for two more years to allow us to increase the subscription base, increase the pay rate, and increase the amount of fiction we bring to you. Because we don’t just like dark fantasy, horror, or weird fiction . . . we love it. And it means so much to us to introduce you to unsettling and thoughtful stories every month that we want to keep on doing it, with your help.
Who we are:
Co-Editor and Publisher Sean Wallace is the founder, publisher, and managing editor of Prime Books….
Co-Editor Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was listed as one of the best novels of the year …She was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work on the anthology She Walks in Shadows and is the guest-editor for Nightmare Magazine’s POC Destroy Horror. She edits The Jewish Mexican Literary Review together with award-winning author Lavie Tidhar.
Kate Baker is the podcast director and non-fiction editor for Clarkesworld Magazine. She has been very privileged to narrate over 250 short stories/poems by some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy. …She is currently working as the Operations Manager for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
(12) SHORTISH. Charles Payseur’s Quick Sips Reviews covers Glittership February 2018.
Glittership is back after a short delay with new 2018 content! Woo! First up is an original story, a reprint, and a poem, all of which are gloriously queer. The fiction is set in the “real” world with a heavy emphasis on death and with people generally occupying space bordering both the living and the dead. Especially for queer people who are in a state of constant danger, it’s a precarious space, but it can also be a powerful one that allows them to face the larger world and its mysteries more directly. These are rather wrenching pieces, and the the poetry doesn’t let up, looking at shapeshifting and portrayal and it’s just wonderful work all around that I should get to reviewing!
(13) EXACTLY. I confess to having a problem with all awards that use the eligibility year instead of the award year in their titles, not just the Nebulas.
I think this is @SFWA's fault, to be honest. I've been working on Nebula stuff during that time, and it's the 2017 Nebulas (awarded in 2018.)
— Terra LeMay (@rarelytame) March 5, 2018
(14) ANSWER WITH A QUESTION. Rich Lynch tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! where one category was “Facts About Fiction.” This was the $2000 clue. The defending champ got it right.
(15) BEST OF SFRA. The Science Fiction Research Association announced its annual awards.
Also, in January, SFRA named Dr. Emily Cox the winner of the Support a New Scholar Award.
[Via Locus Online and SF Site News.]
(16) MOTH MAN. Neil Gaiman has participated in a few Moth storytelling events. Moth participants relate true events from their lives before a theater audience. Here is a list of his stories that are currently available via The Moth’s website.
(17) I’M BAAACK. Disney dropped the teaser trailer for Mary Poppins Returns.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Jim Meadows, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann Todd, Mike Kennedy, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) PRO TIP FROM SFWA. SFWA Director Kate Baker issued this word to the wise —
Your friendly reminder now that we're about to start awards season: Do not claim you are a Nebula Nominee if you are not on the short list that @sfwa releases in the spring. (Especially in a year that hasn't even been voted on yet.) I mean, COME ON. pic.twitter.com/0NJnk9Jim9
— Kate Baker (@Kate_Baker) November 13, 2017
(2) WINDYCON APOLOGY. At Windycon.org, the Windycon 44 statement regarding the Tutti Frutti Literature panel title and description from convention chair Daniel Gunderson.
Now that the convention is over, we have had the opportunity to read through the many posts and comments on the subject. We have taken to heart the hurt and anger caused by the poor choice of wording used in the title and description of this panel.
We are very sorry we offended. While this was not our intention, it was the result, and for this we sincerely apologize.
We will be working to ensure this does not happen in the future. These are some specific steps we will take moving forward.
We will push back the programming timeline significantly. This will allow for more careful choice in wording for panel titles and descriptions. This will also allow more time for oversight and review of titles and descriptions.
We will work to keep titles and descriptions clear and unambiguous. Panel titles should be sufficiently clear that the entire intent of the programming item can be understood from the title alone. Descriptions will be used to provide additional information about the panel, but will not be relied on to supplement an insufficient title.
We will make sure to run titles and descriptions past a larger group of individuals who were not involved in the generation process. This will provide the opportunity to have outside individuals point out potentially problematic phrasing that programing may not have been aware of, or may have been blinded to by already understanding the original intent.
As of this posting, we have removed the programming item from our online programing list, so we do not continue to offend.
Again, we deeply apologize for any pain this may have caused.
(3) HELP NEEDED. Long-time LASFSian Mike Donahue has started a GoFundMe appeal — Help Mike Donahue keep his home. He gives the full explanation at the link. It begins:
I’m in imminent danger of a bank sale on my house, which is in foreclosure. No date has yet been set. I’ve been given a pay up date of Dec 5 2017. They can move before that, I don’t know. And they don’t tell you the info you need. Or how long after that they force the sale on the house. I was in an auto accident in January, which greatly strained my cash resources….
(4) SUPERPEDESTRIAN. In the early Seventies, Margaret Atwood wrote Kanadian Kulchur Komics under a pseudonym. She tells what it was like in — “Margaret Atwood reflects on the significance of her This Magazine comic strip”.
Yes, it’s a blast from the past! Or if not a blast, maybe a small firecracker?
Whose past? My past, obviously: I was Bart Gerrard, one of my noms de plume—the name of a then-forgotten and probably now more-forgotten Canadian newspaper caricaturist of the turn of the century.
…The central joke of the Survivalwoman comics was this: in 1972 I’d published a book called Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, which had made waves of a sort, not all of them friendly. This book was an attempt to distinguish what people wrote in Canada from what they wrote in the United States and the United Kingdom, in riposte to what we were so often told: that there wasn’t any Canadian literature, or if there was, it was a pale echo of things written in large, cosmopolitan, important places. Survival against the odds—both natural and human—I took to be one of the leitmotifs of such Canadian writing as I could get my hands on then, in the dark ages before the Internet, print-on-demand, and Abe Books.
Pair that leitmotif with the fact that, in the world of comix, Canada did not have a superhero of its own—Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Johnny Canuck and their bros and sisses having vanished with the demise of the wartime “Canadian Whites” in approximately 1946. (King of the Royal Mounted did not count, being American. Anyway, King had no superhuman features, unlike the present-day Wolverine.)
So what more appropriate than Survivalwoman: a superheroine with no discernable powers, who had a cape but could not fly—hey, it was Kanada, always lesser—and came equipped with snowshoes? The visual design was based on me—curly hair, short—as was part of the personality—earnest and somewhat clueless.
(5) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. If any of you have good celebrity connections, David Brin could use a hand getting invitations out to people he’d like to have involved in his 20th anniversary screening of The Postman.
I’m putting out a call! If any of you know genius cinematographer Stephen F. Windon, or genius cinematic composer James Newton Howard, I’m hoping to invite them to a special, 20th anniversary screening of The Postman at UCSD’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Whatever its faults, the film is musically and visually one of the dozen or so most gorgeous films ever made. (With a small but growing cult following.)
I’d invite Kevin Costner – who certainly gets some credit for that beauty – and screenwriter Brian Helgeland too – (or any of the younger Costners in the film) because I think the flick had more heart that any other from that era. Alas, no method I’ve researched seems to penetrate the Hollywood protective barriers, not even for Mr. Windon. And Tom Petty is now beyond reach, alack.
(6) SPFBO FINALS. Mark Lawrence has set up a post to track the “Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Finals”. At this stage, the 10 finalists will be chosen based on the scores of participating blogger-reviewers. They are: Bookworm Blues, Fantasy-Faction, Fantasy Book Critic, Lynn’s Books, The Qwillery, Pornokitsch, Ventureadlaxre, Fantasy Book Review, Booknest, and Kitty G video reviews.
There’s not much to see there yet, but it will become more interesting as the results are filled in.
Filers will be interested to know there are links to a large number of book reviews at the post for the first phase of the Blog-Off, in which 200 of the 300 works under consideration were eliminated.
(7) FRESH HORROR. Brett J. Talley, whose name has appeared in this blog before as a Bram Stoker nominee, is up for a federal court appointment. The Daily Beast has the story: “Before He Was Tapped By Donald Trump, Controversial Judicial Nominee Brett J. Talley Investigated Paranormal Activity”. There’s more at the link about his interest in Lovecraft.
Brett J. Talley, nominated by President Donald Trump to the Federal District Court in Montgomery, Alabama, has never tried a case, is married to a White House lawyer, and has been dubbed as unqualified by the American Bar Association.
… But ghost chasing wasn’t a quirky side-hobby. Indeed, before he became the embodiment of the Trump administration’s efforts to pack the courts with young, conservative, sometimes dubiously-credentialed judges, Halley wrote books about paranormal activities that earned him numerous plaudits. And not just within the horror fiction scene. Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s campaign manager in 2012, was a fan too.
“I find it hilarious that no one is writing about his horror writing. He has a cult following.” Stevens told The Daily Beast. “I have to say I wasn’t really aware he was a lawyer as my dealings with him were as a writer on campaign. He’s an interesting, smart guy. But so is Stephen King.”
(8) FIN DE CYCLE. James Davis Nicoll, in “Seasons Crying No Despair”, says it wasn’t easy, but David Axel Kurtz’ Northern Tier won him over.
Those reservations aside, I got drawn into Slip’s story, which is saying a lot when you consider how very much I dislike bicyclists as a group. Having been run over on numerous occasions by scofflaw bicyclists, I live for a future in which the use of bicycles is limited to the Marianas Trench, the Lunar farside, and the surface of the Sun, places I do not plan to visit any time soon. I am not the target market for thrilling tales of bicyclists and the increasingly vast armies who stalk them. Nevertheless, Slip won me over; she persisted.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
(11) FINAL FRONTIER. Fan-made Star Trek Continues released Part II of its last episode “To Boldly Go.” (Find Part I here.) Executive Producer Vic Mignogna (also the series’ “James T. Kirk”) told Facebook followers:
No vocabulary can express how much this production has meant to me. From the very beginning, all I knew was that I wanted to make one episode of Star Trek the way I remembered it. Would anyone like it? I didn’t know. Would I make another? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I wanted to pay tribute to Bill, Leonard, Gene and everyone who made the show that meant so much to me when I was a boy. I would use all the skills that TOS inspired me to try for the first time to make the best episode I could. I never imagined so many amazing people would do so much, and I’m deeply humbled by their involvement. I will be forever grateful to the cast, crew & volunteers who selflessly gave so much to make Star Trek Continues a reality. And to you, the viewers and fans, for your support and enthusiasm. With bittersweet joy, we present our final episode. Hopefully, it will be a long lasting tribute and historic ending to the most iconic television series in history.
(12) COMING SOON ON AMAZON. People are having a lot of fun with the idea of a new Lord of the Rings series on Amazon. This idea beats Dynasty and Dallas to pieces.
Really looking forward to Amazon's Lord of the Rings prequel series pic.twitter.com/dFxjMLJzMo
— Joe Fourhman (@fourhman) November 13, 2017
(13) PRE-RINGS CIRCUS. Nathaniel Ingraham tries to figure out what the Amazon series will be like in “Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel will need to forge its own identity”. One of his ideas comes from a video game:
Of course, Amazon new series won’t be the first new narrative set in Middle-earth. The most recent example is the 2014 video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (and its newly-released sequel). The game drew players in by using the familiar setting of Mordor, a familiar timeframe (between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), iconic characters like Gollum and crucial elements like the Rings of Power. But it also starred entirely new characters, expanded Tolkien’s mythology and told an entirely new story.
It wasn’t perfect (that ending!), but Shadow of Mordor overall did an admirable job at taking a familiar setting and writing a new story around it. It’s the kind of product that could serve as a blueprint for how Amazon can create a new property that will hook loads of viewers while still paying service to longtime fans. Simply being able to reference The Lord of the Rings will be enough to bring in many viewers — millions have seen Jackson’s films and won’t care if the series is telling stories Tolkien himself didn’t dream up. Add in the fact that Game of Thrones will wrap up in 2018 or 2019 and it’s easy to imagine those viewers getting their fantasy methadone from Amazon’s new series.
Ultimately, the enduring popularity of Tolkien’s work is what Amazon is banking on here. Yes, there will absolutely be a cadre of fans who hate what Amazon produces, but that group will almost certainly be outnumbered by people enjoyed The Lord of the Rings at some point in their life and decide to give Amazon’s series a shot — if the show is good.
(14) MORDANT OF THE RINGS. Adam Whitehead engages in less serious – well, frankly hilarious – speculation about “Ideas for the new LORD OF THE RINGS TV series” at The Wertzone.
This Ent-focused conservation programme, voiced over by David Attenborough, will fuse almost-thrilling episodes where the Ents discuss a problem for hours on end with notes on the shameful deforestation of Fangorn Forest and destruction of the surrounding ecosystem.
(15) DARK VADER. Mark Hepworth sent this photo with his brew review: “I thought a beer item might enliven the scroll. I came across this in a local-ish pub and obviously had to try it. It was much more drinkable than I’d expected from a Sith Lord!”
(16) MARTIANS AND SIGOURNEY WEAVER. Mark Swed reviews “‘War of the Worlds’: Delirious opera rises from the death and destruction of L.A.” in the Los Angeles Times.
So here’s what you need to know about the heavily hyped “War of the Worlds” that [Yuval] Sharon mounted at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday afternoon for the L.A. Phil, in collaboration with his own massively disruptive opera company, the Industry, and the nonprofit Now Art L.A. A new opera and new kind of opera by Annie Gosfield, it does everything an opera’s supposed to. It does a lot opera’s not supposed to do. That includes immersive opera, one of Sharon’s specialties as the mastermind of “Hopscotch,” the celebrated opera in autos two years ago.
…On the most basic level, this is a fairly straightforward operatic adaption and update of Orson Welles’ famous 1938 radio broadcast, based on H.G. Wells’ science-fiction novel “The War of the Worlds.” At a time when radio broadcasts were beginning to be interrupted by news flashes, Welles treated the play as an ordinary dance-band radio program with increasingly frightening bulletins of an alien invasion.
The brilliantly theatrical night-before-Halloween prank caused panic among some gullible listeners, giving credence to Russian futurist Velimir Khlebnikov’s prediction that radio had the power to become the Great Sorcerer. Sharon sees the panic as an early-warning sign of the imposing threat of fake news.
Riffing on the radio show, this “War of the Worlds” begins as a symphony concert, albeit one with a celebrity host, Sigourney Weaver. The opera will eventually take over the concert, which is meant to include Gosfield’s new celestial orchestral cycle to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Holst’s “The Planets.”
…Weaver breaks in again and again on the first two movements with reports from outdoors, which are beamed into the hall (audio only, this is radio). Astronomy professor Pierson (actor Hugo Armstrong), standing on a parking lot, attempts to allay fear with his soothing British accent. Mrs. Martinez (mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán) offers a more feverish firsthand account of the scary machines and creatures somewhere on Main Street. Gen. Lansing (baritone Hadleigh Adams) haplessly leads the troops in attacking the aliens.
Before long the music creeps into the action. The Martians have an alien voice in soprano Hila Plitmann’s stratospherically supernatural coloratura (and she does look like she might have stepped out of an outtake of “Alien”), accompanied by theremin and otherworldly percussion. Sharon’s libretto follows Peter Koch’s original radio play fairly closely. L.A. doesn’t fare any better than New York City. Civic officials are of little help, although the mayor valiantly tries. There is political humor for all.
…Finally, there are those decommissioned sirens left over from the Second World War that still peek out from behind billboards and buildings around town, noticed primarily by history buffs. They’re the symbol of the production and were one of the motivating ideas for both Sharon and Gosfield, who was obsessed with them when she studied at CalArts in the 1980s.
In the end, they are about the least interesting thing visually, theatrically or sonically about the production. It is not that they aren’t marvelous in their mysteriously antiquated way; it is just that every other aspect of this opera and its sensational production and performance happens to be more marvelous.
(17) SECURE THE NOMINATION. Timothy the Talking Cat has picked up a new vice: “McEdifice Returns: Chapter Awards”.
“Ahem, here is what I was just writing:
Dear Mr or Mrs Pulitzer, Hello. As you may know I am one of the best writers in the world. You may have already read some parts of my latest book “McEdifice Returns” a psychological drama about one man’s struggles to come to terms with his past.
I guess you are probably thinking ‘We’d love to give Timothy one of our Pulitzer Prizes but people might think it is just a way of making our prize look more popular and relevant with the cool kids’. Fear not! That is exactly the right kind of move that will help the sadly faded and increasingly irrelevant Pulitzer Prize strike a chord with modern audiences who frankly a sick of all that liberal clap-trap and just want some good old fashioned entertainment.
So I hereby give you permission to award me a Pulitzer.
Timothy the Talking Cat
PS This is like totally a nomination so you’ll understand that from now on I’ll be saying ‘The Pulitzer Prize nominated author Timothy the Talking Cat’. That’s great free publicity for your prize. No need to thank me – just trying to help you out.
“Hmmm, I see you have also written similar letters to ‘Mr Oscar and your friend Tony’ as well as ‘Ms or Mr Grammy'”
(18) MARVEL’S MULTIPLE AVENGERS. This cover art just jumps off the screen.
Avengers: Disassemble! The epic weekly takeover continues this February when Kim Jacinto takes the reigns to draw the second month of Marvel’s biggest team adventure, and Marvel is excited to reveal the covers for issues #679 – #682 of AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER by Mark Brooks.
“In month two of NO SURRENDER, the rubber hits the road as we learn what’s really going on and who is behind it,” says SVP and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “A couple different Avengers make the supreme sacrifice, the action grows ever more intense—and the stage is set for the return of a major player in the Marvel line-up of stars! Oh, and the origin of Voyager!”
Co-written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub with art by Pepe Larraz, Kim Jacinto and Paco Medina, AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER unites the casts and creative teams of three titles into one weekly book of exciting action. It all starts with AVENGERS #675 this January, when the teams of THE AVENGERS, UNCANNY AVENGERS, and U.S. AVENGERS come together in a story as exciting and powerful as the Marvel Universe itself.
(19) FASHION JUSTICE. Ashley Boucher, in “‘Justice League’ Amazonian Bikinis Have Twitter in Uproar: ‘Men Ruin Everything’” in The Wrap, says that there are many tweets complaining that the Amazons in Justice League wear bikinis while those in Wonder Woman didn’t.
The costumes worn by the Amazon women are noticeably different than they were in “Wonder Woman,” and viewers are afire online with discussions about how the change represents differences in the male and female gaze.
In “Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins, the costumes were designed by Lindy Hemming, and covered the Amazons’ torsos with armor. In “Justice League,” directed by Zach Snyder, the costumes were designed by Michael Wilkinson. And while Wilkinson’s outfits keep a similar Gladiator vibe, they feature small bra tops and bottoms that some say more closely resemble bikinis than what you’d want to wear into battle.
Here is a fantastic example of the difference between the male and female gaze.
Patty Jenkins' Amazon warriors on the left. Zack Snyder's on the right. pic.twitter.com/fRDkV8dFLe
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) November 12, 2017
(20) HISTORIC HOOCH. Back when the Little Old Winemaker was young: “‘World’s oldest wine’ found in 8,000-year-old jars in Georgia”.
Scientists say 8,000-year-old pottery fragments have revealed the earliest evidence of grape wine-making.
The earthenware jars containing residual wine compounds were found in two sites south of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, researchers said.
Some of the jars bore images of grape clusters and a man dancing.
Previously, the earliest evidence of wine-making was from pottery dating from about 7,000 years ago found in north-western Iran.
(21) COST CUTTING. Darth Vader has been discounted: “Star Wars game in U-turn after player anger”.
Games publisher EA has changed a rule in its Star Wars Battlefront II video game after a huge backlash.
During the game, players have to obtain credits – either by buying them or through long hours of game play – to unlock popular characters including Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
Many players said it was unfair as the gaming required worked out at around 40 hours per character, unless they paid.
EA says the number of credits required will now be reduced by 75%.
“Unlocking a hero is a great accomplishment in the game, something we want players to have fun earning,” said executive producer John Wasilczyk from the developer Dice, in a statement.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Dave Doering, David K.M.Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, rcade, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
(1) CLARA COMING BACK? In a spoiler-filled post, “This ‘Doctor Who’ Companion Could Be About to Return for the Christmas Special “, Lewis Jeffries speculates about the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special.
On Twitter, it has been stated that Eddie’s Diner has been booked by BBC Doctor Who for two days of filming. Hardcore fans know that Eddie’s Diner is in fact Clara and Ashildr’s (Maisie Williams) TARDIS in disguise. So this can only mean one thing, the return of Clara Oswald and Ashildr.
(2) HELP WANTED. James Ciment, PhD, Acquisitions Editor for Popular Culture at ABC-CLIO, has an opening:
ABC-Clio, a reference and academic publisher based in Santa Barbara, California, is looking for an editor (or co-editors) for a reference book on aliens in popular American culture—popular literature, film, television, graphic fiction, and other genres and media. Book length and specific content will be determined by the editor in consultation with the publisher. The deadline for submission of the manuscript is flexible, within a range of 18 to 30 months. The book is intended for the college, public and academic high school library markets. Requirements for the editor are flexible as well but editor must have significant publishing history in the field of literary/film criticism, popular culture studies and/or related fields. Academic affiliation is recommended but not required. Reference editing experience helpful. Editor duties include developing a TOC, soliciting contributing writers, and editor manuscript for content. Publisher will provide administrative support and will be responsible for copy-editing and indexing.
Interested persons should send their CV to acquisitions editor James Ciment at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(3) LET THE APPERTAINMENT BEGIN. Steve Davidson knows that as often as I need to invite people to appertain themselves their favorite beverage (after spotting one of my typos), I probably need to order in bulk. And if I’m doing that, the bottles should have a house label – which he has supplied.
(4) DERRINGER AWARDS. The 2017 Derringer Awards winners, for short mystery fiction, have been announced. Unfortunately, Bruce D. Arthurs’ Derringer-nominated short story, “Beks and the Second Note,” did not get the nod. Here are the stories and authors that did:
2017 Derringer Award Results
BEST FLASH STORY (1 – 1,000 words)
- Herschel Cozine for “The Phone Call” (Flash Bang Mysteries, Summer 2016)
Best Short Story (1,001 – 4,000 words)
- Linda Barnes for “The Way They Do It in Boston” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September/October 2016)
Best Long Story (4,001- 8,000 words)
- Victoria Weisfeld for “Breadcrumbs” (Betty Fedora: Kickass Women In Crime Fiction, Issue 3, September 2016)
Best Novelette (8,000 to 20,000 words)
- Terrie Farley Moran for “Inquiry and Assistance” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January/February 2016)
Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer
- Robert Randisi
(5) POD DRAMA. Tor Labs is a newly launched dramatic podcast imprint. Here’s an excerpt from Patty Garcia’s press release.
Tor Books, a leading global publisher of science fiction and fantasy, announced today that it is launching TOR LABS, a new imprint emphasizing experimental approaches to genre publishing, beginning with original dramatic podcasts.
Helmed by Senior Editor Marco Palmieri and Editor Jennifer Gunnels, Tor Labs will debut this summer with Steal the Stars, a science fiction audio drama which will be produced in partnership with Gideon Media and written by Mac Rogers, the award-winning writer of the global hit podcast thrillers, The Message and LifeAfter.
(6) TRAVEL FUNDING SOUGHT. Three Brazilian fans; Andressa Dreka, Mayara Teixeira Dos Santos, and Luis Alessio are crowdfunding to come to the UK for Lazlar Lyricon 3, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy funcon being run in Stoke on Trent in June.
The trio help run Obrigado Pelos Peixes (“Thanks for All the Fish”) an organization in Brazil that ran its own convention, Don’t PaniCon, last year, and plan another for 2017.
James Bacon notes:
A few special items were auctioned at the recent UK Eastercon to help raise money for the project. These included an official Hitchhiker’s quote towel from the 1980s and a pair of beer glasses with Hitchhiker inspired designs from the 42nd Cambridge Beer Festival. This raised GBP212 for the fund.
The crowdfunding is being carried out on a Catarse site, via https://www.catarse.me/OPPnoLazlarLyricon3.
As File 770 reported over the winter, Lazlar Lyricon 3 will take place June 9-11. Committee members include Stefan Lancaster, Emma J. King, David Haddock and Alan Sullivan.
The first two Lazlar Lyricons were part of a series of conventions in the 1980s, 90s and early 00s colloquially called ‘Fun Cons’, which also included the Incons, Dangercons, and several one-off conventions such as Year of the Wombat and Aliens Stole my Handbag.
(7) READING ALOUD. Cat Rambo says, “A lot of us have listened to SFWA’s Executive Director Kate Baker narrating podcasts over the years, but here’s someone narrating one of Kate’s pieces” — “Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches by Kate Baker” on Cast of Wonders.
This time the narrator is –
Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her short stories and poems appear in more than 40 publications and her first novel, Swift for the Sun, will be available Spring 2017. Follow her online and on Twitter.
(8) EPISODE ONE. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball and Kelly Anderson recap “American Gods Episode One: ‘The Bone Orchard'”.
Kelly: Welp. This show knows how to make an entrance! Pilots are all about being memorable, and I think I can say from the get-go this one certainly succeeded on that level. They went for a combo of stark, Tarantino-esque visuals, husky-voiced, gritty storytelling, and a grimy ‘70s vibe, and it all blends together to create the perfect mood for this story. It’s surrealist noir, if such a genre exists—everything is slightly off-kilter, and even the scenery makes you look twice (that alligator bar! I gotta get me one of those!). It’s as if somebody went back in time and gave Magritte computer graphics and possibly some acid, and I love it.
Meghan: That was an astonishing trippy-as-hell hour of television. I never thought I’d see the day someone actually followed through with bringing this book to life, and certainly not in a way so savagely, monstrously beautiful. I especially loved the use of music. Whoever chose it deserves a raise. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” playing while Shadow stares mournfully at Laura’s grave? Absolute perfection. They also used “Iko Iko” by the Dixie Cups in the bar scene, which is also mentioned in the novel. That was especially cool. Everything about the premiere felt lush and organic, and utterly real as it was surreal. I’m a fan of Tarantino movies, and even I was gasping in shock during the opening Viking scenes, which completely set the tone.
(9) THE LONG HAUL. At Vox, there’s an overview by someone who’s seen the first four episodes.
If you’re like me and haven’t read Gaiman’s iconic source material, the TV series doesn’t spend a whole lot of time trying to catch you up. There will inevitably come a point when — as blood rains from the sky and some god or another intones an ominous missive about death — you’ll squint and realize you have no idea what’s happening.
But that’s okay by American Gods. Having seen four episodes, I think it’s safe to say that the mysteries being explored by the show’s first season are intricate, and that Fuller and Green are in no rush to give away their secrets. This will be frustrating for people watching from week to week, but American Gods is making the bet that you’ll be intrigued enough by what it teases to stick with it — and on that front, it’s probably right.
(10) INDEPENDENTS’ DAY. The Seattle Review of Books covers #independentbookstoreday celebration: “Our Independent Bookstore Day, in photos”.
(11) GLOWING GOO YOU CAN CHEW. Where to find it? Cat Rambo has a clue.
My most recent newsletter is up and includes class news and a link to a recipe for edible glow in the dark gel: “News and More Stuff from Chez Rambo”
(12) SAX AND VIOLENCE. Echo Ishii watches old TV: “SF Obscure: Night Man “.
What do you get when you cross light jazz, Taylor Dayne, and questionable costume choices? And then you throw in special guest appearances by Jerry Springer and Donald Trump? Why you get Night Man, a show that surprisingly stayed on air for two seasons.
Night Man(1997-1999) is the story of Johnny Domino, a professional saxophonist, who is struck by lightning and earns a telepathic ability to see evil. It’s loosely based on an original comic. He also teams up with some scientists on the run who provide him with a special suit that allows him to deflect bullets and fly. It actually took a few episodes to figure out exactly what the suit does vs. Johnny Domino’s own ability- and I have the sneaking suspicion it was not entirely developed well by the writers.
(13) BAD MIKE.
Appear to have angered Mike Glyer of File 770 by not yet reading the entire Hugo shortlist – oopsie!
— Runalong (@runalongwomble) May 1, 2017
So the rest of you better hurry and get that reading done or I’ll take a bite out of you, too.
(Or – and this was the point — you could wait to fling poo at the Hugo shortlist ‘til you’ve read it, something that never occurred to C. and Matt.)
(14) PURITY OF ESSENCE. Can penguins be forced to bark? Jay Maynard wants to “Make Penguincon Great Again” — by kicking out everything he doesn’t like.
Still, I’d promised this year’s con chair that she’d get a fair chance to address my concerns, so I came back one more time. Guess what? More hard-left GoHs — the odious Coraline Ada Ehmke, she of the Contributor Covenant that prohibits project members from being politically incorrect any time, anywhere, in any venue, on pain of expulsion (who had to cancel due to an emergency); Sumana Harihareswara, who I found out the hard way was a hard-core feminist as well; and Cory Doctorow, well-known left-wing author — more politically correct panels, 15 of them on such topics as “Queering Your Fiction” and “Let’s Get the Taste of 2016 Out of Our Mouths” and “Exploring Themes in Zen Cho’s Work” (with “Intersectionality, diaspora and immigration, the culture of British education, and queer relationships also appear in Cho’s stories over and over” in the description). When I was asked to submit lists of panel topics, I was instructed not to be controversial, but it seems the Left has no such admonition.
This was further borne out by the very first thing that happened at Opening Ceremonies: right after the con chair took the mic, she introduced one member of the convention committee, who proceeded to name 8 or 9 American Indian tribes that had lived in Southeast Michigan in the past and said that “we are their guests here”. That bit of virtue signaling came straight out of the political correctness playbook.
The con’s expanded harassment policy is also of the same stripe; it basically allows anyone to complain that they are being harassed on the flimsiest of excuses, and the con can then eject the subject of the complaint summarily with no recourse and no refund. This is the kind of policy that has routinely been used against those who are merely politically incorrect at other cons, most notably the Worldcon in Kansas City.
There were exactly two panels on topics that the Left would not approve of, both relating to firearms. In fairness, I will also point out that the con did, for the first time, officially sponsor and pay for the Geeks with Guns event. Still, the overall feel is that of overpowering political correctness.
All of this adds up to one inescapable conclusion, for me: those who oppose the politically correct orthodoxy are not Penguicon’s kind of people. Oh, sure, they’ll happily take our money, but we’re not “one of them”.
I go to cons to escape the culture wars, not to get hit over the head with how much of a nasty, eeeeevil person I am for being a white male. We are all, first and foremost, SF fans and computer geeks. People should leave their politics at the door and celebrate SF and open source computing for their own sakes. For the first decade, at least, Penguicon did. It doesn’t any more.
Jer Lance disagrees with the diagnosis: “On the Need to Make Great Things Great Again”
Among my plans for the day, today, was to put together a quick writeup congratulating the staff of Penguincon for throwing an undeniably successful convention—the 15th in a series! Instead, I’d like to take a moment to respond to a long-time attendee’s paen to modern divisive politics; a blog post with the snappy title “Make Penguincon Great Again.” In his post, Jay “Tron Guy” Maynard makes the assertion that Penguincon has fallen to the “leftists” and resulting event is no longer one that is comfortable for people like him.
…Instead, I would like to focus on Jay’s proposed solution. Tron Guy—an attendee since the very first event—would “return the con explicitly to being nonpolitical.” Maynard yearns for the days when we focused on apolitical topics like Geeks with Guns – Societal & Political (year 1), Hidden Totalitarian Assumptions in ‘I, Robot’ (year 3), Don’t Be Evil: The Google Books Settlement (year 9), Technology as Legislation (year 5), and of course the keynote address from the very first Penguincon by Eric S. Raymond (on whose blog this Make Penguincon Great Again concept was born) which discussed “open source, the hacker culture, and the second amendment.” As Archie Bunker sang, those were the days!
In case my point was too subtle, Penguicon has never been any more apolitical than science fiction itself, despite claims to the contrary.
….I came to my first Penguincon in 2006 during its 4th year. I came for the tech conference side of the house and actively disdained the “comicon, nerd shit.” Over the ensuing 11 years, I have attributed a tremendous amount of my personal growth to my having been repeatedly and relentlessly exposed to things outside of my comfort zone through the convention. My hardline libertarian stance has softened to that of a moderate conservative through immersion in concepts that were foreign to me until such time as it was easier to understand them than repel them.
In that understanding, I’ve earned empathy….
(15) IT’S A THEORY. K.B. Wagers argues the change is happening: “The Rise of the Unlikable Woman”
There have always been unlikable characters in fiction, though the idea of the anti-hero?—?brooding, self-centered, wholly unredeemable?—?has long been considered a man’s territory. From crotchety but lovable Han Solo to the downright dangerous Riddick, no one complains that these characters aren’t people you’d trust to watch your house, let alone have a cup of tea with.
Women in fiction, by contrast, can only be unlikable if they are redeemable in some fashion or another?—?or if they’re ultimately punished. Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is struggling for redemption (and turned into a nursemaid for the Big Guy as a result). Were she still unrepentant about the death she’s dealt?—?as Loki is?—?she would find less compassion from the audience. Emma Bovary, in Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, receives her punishment (in the form of her death) at the end of the novel as a result of her sexual desires.
But now, women characters are rising up from the ashes of these expectations….
(16) SIGNS OF THE TIMES. On Planetary Post, March for Science participants joined host Robert Picardo in support of space science and exploration in Washington, D.C.
(17) CLARKE CENTER. Episode 7 of Into the Impossible, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s podcast, takes you to ”New Spaces”.
We’re looking at new spaces in space, speaking with Drs. Yvonne Cagle (astronaut and physician) and Adam Burgasser (astrophysicist). We talk about why we send humans into space, the discovery of potentially habitable worlds at TRAPPIST-1 and how we imagine them, the role of interstellar art, the evolution of human physiology in zero-g, why the scariest thing about being an astronaut might be finding yourself on stage at the Oscars with Dr. Katherine Johnson, subject of the film Hidden Figures, and how important it is that we remain vigilant in our embrace of diversity across disciplines.
(18) BAT EXCLUSIVITY. ScreenRant claims there are “15 Things Batman Can Do (That No One Else Can)”.
Given his intensive combat training and genius-level sleuthing skills, the Dark Knight Detective is one of the most formidable heroes in the DCU (or the world of comics in general), giving him a skill-set that dwarfs many of his superpowered peers.
- He Has Contingency Plans to Take Down Enemies…and His Friends
As we stated earlier, Batman prepares for everything. And we mean everything. In addition to strategizing on how to take down all of his arch-enemies and other deadly threats, he does what some might see as a betrayal–he creates contingency plans against every one of his fellow Justice League team members (in Grant Morrison’s 2000 Justice League: Tower of Babel storyline).
Using his genius intellect, he develops brutally efficient ways to neutralize his teammates’ powers: he binds Green Lantern with his own power ring, makes Aquaman terrified of water, uses fire against Martian Manhunter, liquid nitrogen to subdue Plastic Man, virtual reality against Wonder Woman, and he even creates a weapon to give The Flash seizures.
His strategizing backfires, however, when Ra’s al Ghul steals his plans and takes down his allies. Needless to say, his fellow Justice League members were none too pleased with this, and they subsequently had his membership revoked. It’s not easy for Batman to have friends.
(19) BATMAN & BILL. Hulu is releasing Batman & Bill on May 6, which is a documentary about Bill Finger’s contributions to the Batman mythos. FirstShowing.net explains the “Official Trailer for Hulu Doc ‘Batman & Bill’ About a Batman Creator”
“The most mysterious man in Gotham City wasn’t in a mask and cape.” Hulu has released an official trailer for a documentary titled Batman & Bill, which will premiere exclusively on Hulu starting early May. The documentary “unmasks” one of the greatest secrets in the comic industry – that Batman wasn’t created by Bob Kane alone, it was primarily Bill Finger who created the iconic superhero. This seems like a fascinating doc with plenty to offer for comic book fans, including inside stories and excellent art from the early days of Batman. It’s cool to see a doc like this that actually looks worth watching on Hulu.
(20) BATMAN & BOB. Offered on eBay and now marked down from $1,500 to $1,050, a signed first edition of Bob Kane’s autobiography Batman & Me with original signed ink Batman drawing by Kane.
Batman & Me. Forestville: Eclipse Books, 1989. First Edition. Copy number 144 of 1000 numbered copies signed by Bob Kane with an original ink drawing of Batman by Kane. The autobiography of the artist who created the immortal comic book character Batman in 1939. Extensively illustrated. Fine in slipcase.
(21) THE FIRST HALF OF HISTORY. Fanac.org has posted a recording of a 1968 Worldcon comics panel with Marv Wolfman and Harry Harrison. I guess a few things have happened since then:
Baycon, the 26th WorldCon, was held in Oakland, California in 1968. This very entertaining panel features a discussion about contemporary comics by the then relative newcomer, Marvin Wolfman, and a plethora of engaging stories by Harry Harrision. Harry talks about Bill Gaines (EC Comics) and working with Wally Wood. The stories are funny, the context and history of the field are priceless. Moderated by Paul Moslander, this excellent recording is courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, James Bacon, and Bruce D. Arthurs for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]
By Carl Slaughter: If you’re a podcast fan, you’ve probably heard Kate Baker’s voice. She is the narrator for Clarkesworld and has narrated for several other major podcast sites. If you’re a SFWA member, you’ve benefited from her behind the scenes work as director of operations
CARL SLAUGHTER: How did you get into podcasting?
KATE BAKER: I owe my start to luck and excellent friends.
I began podcasting in 2005. One of my best friends was beginning his writing career and I took it upon myself to narrate one of his short stories. We mainly communicated through TeamSpeak, a VoIP that allowed us to talk as we played video games 1700 miles apart. While I hoped his first response wouldn’t be, “Wow, I totally didn’t ask you to do that,” he actually loved it and told me I was missing my calling as a narrator.
I took his advice to heart and sent samples of my narration to Tony C. Smith at StarShipSofa who immediately asked when I could start. While I was reading for Tony, I started asking advice from established audio narrator Mary Robinette Kowal at that time and we became friends. She in turn gave my name to Neil Clarke. Neil hired me as Podcast Director after a few narrations in 2009. He says I’m the best hire he’s ever made in his professional career, I hope that it’s still true.
CS: What exactly is involved in being podcast director for a speculative magazine? Goals, process, challenges, benefits.
KB: With Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace picking the stories each month, the podcast direction is the easy part. Neil started with one podcast on the 21st issue of the magazine and roughly ten years later, we are up to 6-8 a month, depending on the word count. We grew as the audience did, appreciating all the support they gave us through word of mouth, Patreon, subscriptions, and other methods.
So after we set our schedule, I curse at both of them for long word counts. They laugh at me and play tiny violins and we get to work. I start recording the first story of the month for our initial release. Throughout the month, we release the rest, calling back attention to the printed stories through the audio.
As I am a huge Doctor Who fan, my brother built me a semi-soundproof TARDIS booth in which to record. So each time I go down to the closet-sized room, I grab my laptop and dive into each story. I’ve often been asked if the TARDIS is bigger on the inside and I often reply that because our authors take me to other worlds, it is!
Another thing that takes some people by surprise is that I go in “cold” to each narration. I don’t read the story beforehand. When you are listening to a Clarkesworld podcast, I’m experiencing that story right along with you. That revelation is sometimes met with outrage at my lack of preparation, and sometimes high-fives. Perhaps I like to remain genuine and because Neil picks such wonderful stories, they are often full of gut-punching emotion.
So after I either laugh, yell, cry, (or a little of all three) through a story, I take a break and then hop into editing the file in ProTools. I’ve come a long way from my tiny USB microphone and GarageBand to my Rode microphone and professional editing tools. The general rule of thumb is it will usually take 1 1/2 to 2 times as long to edit than the time you took to record.
Some of the challenges I’ve faced throughout the last eleven years have been really getting to know my equipment and what it can do. I am a quick study, but I am always eager to learn new things to help the podcast be and sound its best.
The benefits of this work are endless. Not only do I get to squee that I’m narrating some of the best authors and works our field has seen, but I get to experience that with the listeners who come back for each episode. Audio narration can be extremely intimate, and I just hope I’m wielding the gift that has been given me, appropriately and genuinely.
CS: Same question for being nonfiction editor.
KB: This one is a bit more involved. We have our nonfiction guidelines posted on our website and often do calls via social media for non-fiction pitches. Additionally, I solicit our main article and opinion pieces from new and established writers as well. If I run into an interesting expert at a conference, I’ll give them my card and invite a pitch.
Our lead article each month attempts to meld science with the fiction. We’ve examined celestial bodies in the universe to the music that has SFF ties right here on Earth. I’d love to see more pieces that really showcase how deeply interwoven our genre is with the physical world and how inspiration from those words on a page or in your ear is transformative.
CS: Give us some highlights of your time at Clarkesworld. Or better, lots of highlights.
KB: I almost lost the first job with Clarkesworld. As I mentioned, Mary Robinette Kowal gave my name to Neil and he in turn asked me how much I’d charge to turn around a podcast in 24 hours. I had no idea. I’d never been paid before. So I took a look a wild guess and sent it back. I believe Neil said something to the effect of, “no.”
Crushed, I thought I’d lost the opportunity and wrote back asking what number he’d prefer. He wrote back with a figure that was mutually beneficial and I accepted. But yes, this thing with Clarkesworld Magazine almost never was. I am terribly thankful to both Mary for the recommendation and for Neil for the second look.
Other highlights include being at Worldcon both times when we won our second and third Hugo Awards for Best Semiprozine. Particularly in 2013, when I think we all got emotional on stage after hearing our names. Neil worked his way back from a devastating heart attack the prior year, and to be there, getting validation from all who voted, was truly humbling. I will never forget that, ever.
I hope now that we’re ineligible for that category, our authors continue to get recognized like Naomi Kritzer with “Cat Pictures Please.” I was so chuffed when they called her name and still get excited knowing that she brought home a rocket. What I want to see the most though, is Neil bring home an award for Best Editor – Short Form. The field is full of giants, and Neil is my favorite.
I also love meeting the authors for whom I’ve narrated. I hope I get things right and it’s both surreal and amazing to hear that I did. I mentioned in a recent panel discussion that today is an awesome time to be a writer and a reader. I meant every word.
The fans of the podcast are amazing as well. I’ve met a few in my travels to various conventions, but a lot of the interaction happens online and through email. When life is hitting particularly hard, words of encouragement or someone noting that the podcast has helped keep them company on long drives or in getting to sleep, or in other ways, is such a driving force.
The last highlight I’d like to mention is the friendships. Working for both SFWA and Clarkesworld have given me access to the best and brightest our genre have to offer. I am thrilled that I get to call some of those people friends. If you had asked a younger me if I ever thought I’d land here, I’d say I was too busy trying to be an astronaut or a pediatrician. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for everything that’s happened.
CS: How extensive is your podcasting for other sites?
KB: A list of my narrations can be found at http://katebaker.net/narrations/ and while it’s a cheap ploy to get you to go to my website, there are a ton there. Everything from a few audiobooks that I’ve done and am currently working on, to the long list of stories for Clarkesworld. I’ve listed work I’ve done with The Dark Magazine, Mash Stories, Cast of Wonders, a few different independent authors, The Drabblecast, EscapePod, and Mythic Delirium. Eleven years of narrations on that page, and I’m still updating it with each new issue.
The best thing though — I learn how to be better with each story or poem that I record.
CS: Exactly what’s involved with being operations director of the SFWA?
KB: What started as an offer of a part time office manager position has grown so much in the last five years. I handle the day to day administrivia that keeps the organization running. From membership queries and applications to making sure the SFWA Board of Directors has everything they need to do their jobs. I manage a team of hard-working and dedicated contractors that help with everything from our IT infrastructure to our publications. I am involved in budgetary prep and planning. I help organize our programs and presences at conferences and conventions with our amazing events team, Steven H Silver and Terra LeMay. We make sure that whether you attend the SFWA Nebula Conference (May 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA next year), enjoy the suite at Worldcon, or walk the exhibit floors of ALA, that you are getting the most out of what that event has to offer. I also work closely with other committees, and help with communications and outreach.
We do a lot of things in this organization that may not garner a lot of public attention, but we are constantly working for our members and the entire SFF community. It’s why I love this job.
CS: What’s new at the SFWA?
KB: In the last few years, SFWA has really expanded its member offerings. We are now a 501(c)3, which means that we are considered a public charity. Our mission has expanded to provide support for all genre writers. With the help of the professionals in our industry, we can continue to make this ever-changing landscape less scary and more inviting.
We’re expanding our presence at places like the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Meetings, inviting librarians to check out our new SFWA Speaker’s Bureau. Our goal there is to connect on how we can all work together to get more genre fiction in the hands of library patrons.
We recently invited game writers to join us as well and with community feedback are revisiting those qualifications to make the organization even more inclusive.
We’re giving grants to deserving organizations that are working to promote, educate, and support the field through our Giver’s Fund and tailoring programs to help everyone from the new writer to the established professional. There are always things to learn and SFWA is honoring those commitments.
I know you have a lot of readers who have been members or who are thinking of joining. We are growing, evolving, and moving forward and we sure would love to have you on board.
CS: What’s on the horizon for Kate Baker?
KB: More Clarkesworld and more SFWA. SFWA just got me for another few years, and I think I’m stuck with Neil until he gets sick of me. In terms of other things, I’ve recently been writing and submitting. I would love to crack the professional side of writing and join SFWA as an author one day! How ironic is that? #amwriting
I would also love to break into video game narration. As a gamer, I am consistently impressed by the levels of storytelling within that media and I would be so excited to lend my voice. Additional points if I can work with voice actors like Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Bill Nighy and Jennifer Hale. What? I can dream!
Other than that, taking breaks when needed, hanging out with family and friends, and being thankful for all this community has offered.
(1) ATTACKING CREATORS. Devin Faraci at Birth. Movies. Death. lit up the internet with the claim “Fandom Is Broken”.
… Last week the AV Club ran an excellent piece about the nature of modern fan entitlement, and I think it’s fairly even-handed. The piece covers both the reaction to an all-female Ghostbusters reboot but also the hashtag that trended trying to get Elsa a girlfriend in Frozen 2. The author of that piece, Jesse Hasenger, draws a line between the two fan campaigns, rightly saying that whether driven by hate (Ghostbusters) or a desire for inclusion (Frozen 2) both campaigns show the entitlement of modern fan culture. It’s all about demanding what you want out of the story, believing that the story should be tailored to your individual needs, not the expression of the creators….
The old fan entitlement has been soldered onto the ‘customer is always right’ mindset that seems to motivate the people who make Yelp so shitty. I’m spending a dollar here, which makes me the lord and master of all, is the reasoning (I don’t even want to speculate about whether or not modern fans spend their dollars on licensed, legal products – that’s an essay for another weary day). It’s what makes people act like assholes to servers, and somehow it’s become the way ever-growing segments of fans are behaving towards creators. It’s been interesting watching so many people bring up Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the Captain America fracas; one of part of it is that their Jewishness allows angry, petulant fans to throw down a social justice bomb but it also speaks to how modern fans see many modern creators. They’re nobody compared to the ones who invented this stuff. The modern creator is the server, and they should be going back into the kitchen and bringing back a Captain America cooked to their exact specifications, and without any sort of complications or surprises. This is what fans have always wanted, but the idea of being consumers – people who are offering money for services rendered – only reinforces the entitlement.
And so we have these three elements – one old as fandom itself, one rooted in technological advances and one impacted by the corporatization of storytelling – coming together in such a way to truly break fandom. I wish this was the part of the essay where I come to you with a hopeful pep talk about how we can all be better, but I just don’t see a positive solution. If anything, I see things getting worse – creators walling themselves off from fans while corporate masters happily throw vision and storytelling under the bus to appease the people who can get hashtags trending. “You can’t always get what you want” is a sentiment that belongs to another era when it comes to mass storytelling. I recently read Glen Weldon’s excellent The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture and the arc of fandom it sketches out is a profoundly disheartening one, with Batfans morphing from monkish annotators of the character’s fictional history into crusaders harrassing anyone on the internet who sees Batman differently than they do….
(2) THE RISING OF THE DOUGH. More details about the Sons of Anarchy cast payment problems at a Houston convention this past weekend from Official Ava Jade Cosplay: “Space City Comic (Con) – Thousands Swindled, Contracts Broken and Many Still Looking for Answers”:
The previously included statement about the rooms not being paid for has been retracted- A representative from the staff contacted me and informed me that I was misinformed about the exact situation. There was a mishap regarding the hotel check in. The credit card for the room was for the reservations and not for incidentals. Upon checking in, some cast members had to pay cash for the incidentals, instead of putting their own credit card up, and risking being charged upon checking out. The cast was NOT charged for their room. I was informed during the interview, that there was a problem checking in the hotel due to the credit card not being accepted, it later was realized that we should clarify to what extent. When Mr. Hunnam took his check to the bank to cash it, he found out that the check that was given to him was written from an account that had been CLOSED. This happened to the entire cast. Many of the actors went to the promoters office to demand payment, where the promoter ended up calling the cops because he was “being held hostage”. The cast was in no way held him hostage, but wanted answers and payment. The panel schedule was completely jacked up, the cast was not given the correct times for photo ops and for panels. The Friday panel was canceled due to the AVI team refusing to allow anyone onstage until they were paid. They were promised payment upfront, instead they weren’t paid and pulled the plug on the event. The cast was all there, waiting to go on. It seems that the event promoter broke the contract not once, but TWICE.
Bleeding Cool wrote a story of its own based on the Official Ava Jade post with the dramatic headline, “Police Called On Cast Of Sons Of Anarchy After They Demanded Space City Comic Con Pay Up”. Houston police were helpful in protecting the convention staff from an irate customer —
Comments from volunteers included this, from Shelley Montrose,
This will be the last Saturday/Sunday that I volunteer at any Comic Convention. I was shouted at more in the 6 hours that I volunteered on Saturday than I was in the entire year last year. Friday was amazing and Saturday in my LAST 2 MINUTES there HPD had to intervene as a grown man came into my face and threatened to “choke me to death, rape me, and burn me like on YouTube.” I decided not to come to my scheduled 8 hour volunteer shift on Sunday. I thought my life was in danger. One of Charlie’s bodyguards ran over to help me before the guy got to me. Honestly, I thought the guy was gonna to hit me. After reading this article I think I understand what happened a little bit better. I can’t even explain how horrible it was the tell people who traveled all the way from England, China, Australia,etc., that the $800-$3000 that they spent on a prepaid ticket will not be honored at the desk at the majority of the sons of anarchy autograph sessions , and that they would have to go to the ATMs on the inside of the convention ( because all the ATMs on the outside of the entrances were broken ) in order to get money to pay cash for any autographs or photo ops they wanted with the celebrities.I personally ended up going to the ATM to help people pay for the prepaid tickets that they purchased for autographs with the celebrities. I won’t even go into how much that puts me back on my budget, including but not limited to my rent, utilities, and food.I was with Charlie Hunnam for almost four hours, and He pulled it together for all of his fans. Anyone that was there saw me standing beside Charlie Hunnam, I was taking pictures of them with him, knows that he was very giving to fans as well as professional. I feel like I did a good job of keeping the fans calm, entertained, and happy until they got to Charlie Hunnam .Ron Perlman was also professional as well. When I left he was still excepting those bogus tickets that people had pre-purchased.
(3) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Speaking of grand theft – Swedish astronomers theorize Planet 9 is a stolen exoplanet.
New research suggests the mysterious and controversial “Planet 9” isn’t an original member of our solar system. According to a new computer simulation developed by astronomers at Lund University in Sweden, the ninth planet is an exoplanet — stolen by the sun from its original host star.
“It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light years away in other solar systems, there’s probably one hiding in our own backyard,” researcher Alexander Mustill said in a news release….
(4) EXCELLENCE IN FILKING. SF Site News reported that nominations have opened for the 2016 Pegasus Awards, given by the Ohio Valley Filk Festival.
Any member of the worldwide filk community is eligible to win. Past Nominees have hailed from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Singapore as well as the United States.
The nomination and ballot procedure is similar to that of the Hugo, except that one does not need to be a paid member of the convention to nominate or vote. Anyone with an interest in Filking or Filk music can place a nomination and/or vote.
The results are tabulated, the winners determined, and the award is presented at the Pegasus Awards Banquet...
There are currently six Pegasus award categories, including two floating categories that are different each year.
Fans suggested nominees and songs through the Brainstorming Poll, and the results can be seen on these pages:
Ballots must be received by 12:01AM PDT, August 1, 2016, whether cast online or by mail.
(5) BEWARE GAME OF THRONES SPOILER. Here’s something George R.R. Martin revealed at Balticon 50:
According to Vanity Fair, Martin appeared at a convention in Baltimore called Balticon to read aloud to those in attendance a new chapter from his forthcoming book The Winds of Winter. During his time in front of the crowd, the author announced that Brienne of Tarth is the descendant of Ser Duncan the Tall.
For those who don’t know, Ser Duncan the Tall is one of Westeros’ most famous knights, making this connection with Brienne particularly noteworthy, especially when considering he’s one of Martin’s favorite characters.
(6) MORE SHOOTING. ScienceFiction.com says “’Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Gets Planned Reshoots After Disney’s Rumored Unhappiness”.
Many films that are destined for the big screen get re-shoots or planned production times after an initial cut of the film has been done where the crews can go back and shoot additional or replacement footage for certain scenes. It’s a fairly common practice, although the re-shot and re-edited scenes are usually minimal in nature, comparative to the overall plot of the film. Rumor has it, however, that the upcoming Star Wars spinoff, ‘Rogue One,’ has heavy reshoots planned by parent company Disney, who is unhappy with how the film has fared so far with test audiences.
There has only been one trailer released so far for the film, which was actually met with great enthusiasm from the fans. However, a cool-looking trailer does not directly equate to a successful and well-received film — look no further than this very franchise’s ‘Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ for evidence of such.
(7) WHO BLABBED? Cora Buhlert shares Cap’s secret with us:
So this is what happened to Captain America. He took the wrong moisturising cream. pic.twitter.com/J2uAXkmaaT
— Cora Buhlert (@CoraBuhlert) May 31, 2016
(8) SFWA YA JURORS. “Andre Norton Award Jury Announced” at the SFWA Blog.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announce the members of the jury for the 2016 Andre Norton Award. Throughout the coming year, the jury will be compiling its list of picks for the Norton Award. This year for the first time, SFWA will release a Norton Honor list of the top 15-20 books compiled from member votes and jury picks.
Chair Ellen Klages says, “Speculative fiction is a literature about exploration, possibilities, and dreams. The Andre Norton Award honors the best SF/F works written for the people who will create the future — children and young adults. What they read today will influence them — and the world — for decades to come.”
The jury members are: Ellen Klages (jury chair), E.C. Myers, Fran Wilde, Leah Bobet, and Jei D. Marcade. Read their bios at the linked post.
(9) SFWA SFWA. Cat Rambo notes anyone can watch the SFWA Chat Hour, 1st edition, on YouTube, “complete with annoying echo that we will fix next time.”
Come hear Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) officials and staff Cat Rambo, M.C.A. Hogarth, and Kate Baker talk about the recent Nebula conference weekend, current SFWA efforts, and what’s coming in 2016 in the first episode of the biweekly SFWA Chat Hour.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
(11) BUTLER CONFERENCE. UC San Diego will be the site of “Shaping Change: Remembering Octavia E. Butler Through Archives, Art, and Worldmaking”, a conference from June 3-5 that is open to the public.
50 years from now, how have we shaped change (through art, activism, and archives) in the world? What have we left behind that that we can draw from our presents and pasts? What lessons in Butler’s life and writing will help forestall what seems like the inevitable collapse of human civilization?
Organized by Shelley Streeby (UC San Diego) and Ayana Jamieson (founder, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network), the event will feature talks from: Adrienne Maree Brown, Aimee Bahng, Alexis Lothian, M. Asli Dukan, Ayana Jamieson, Krista Franklin, Lisa Bolekaja, Melanie West, Moya Bailey, Nisi Shawl, Ola Ronke, Rasheedah Phillips, Shelley Streeby, Sophia Echavarria, Ted Chiang, and Walidah Imarisha.
(12) MEETING ABOUT MEDUSA. Steven Baxter and Alastair Reynolds will speak at Foyles Bookshop in Charing Cross Road (tickets required) on June 4.
Join us for a conversation with two leading figures in science fiction, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, as they discuss their new collaboration The Medusa Chronicles. Inspired by the classic Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘A Meeting with Medusa’, The Medusa Chronicles continues the story of Commander Howard Falcon over centuries of space-exploration. One of the most compelling novels of either author’s career, it combines moments of incredible action with an intricately-realised depiction of an expansive universe.
Stephen Baxter is the author of more than forty novels, including the Sunday Times bestselling Long Earth series, co-authored with Sir Terry Pratchett, and the acclaimed Time’s Eye trilogy, co-authored with Sir Arthur C. Clarke. He has won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton.
Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St Andrews universities, has a Ph.D. in astronomy and worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency before becoming a full-time writer. An award-winning as well as bestselling writer, with more than thirteen published novels to his name, Locus described him as ‘the most exciting space opera writer working today’.
Together, Reynolds and Baxter will talk about Clarke’s influence on their own writing, the themes that underpin his work, and how they were inspired to continue his story, as well as their bodies of work as a whole. This will be followed by an opportunity for the audience to ask their own questions and a book signing.
This event is in association with The Arthur C. Clarke Award and SFX.
(13) BYO LIFE ON MARS. SpaceReview.com sifts its favorite ideas from the many conferences about human expeditions to the red planet, in “A Year on Mars”.
How many humans on Mars conferences do we need in a year? That thought came to mind during the recent Humans to Mars (H2M) Summit in Washington, DC. There are a lot of them, especially in Washington. There were at least six humans-to-Mars related public events in Washington in 2015, not counting the NASA-sponsored human Mars landing site selection workshop in Houston. Now 2016 is shaping up the same way. Last Tuesday following the H2M conference, the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning DC-based think-tank, held a talk “Beyond the Moon: What will it take to get astronauts on Mars?” The Mars Society was in Washington last August and will be back in September, and there will probably be at least one or two other Mars-related meetings or lectures that will happen later this year. And not everything is happening in Washington: the same week as the H2M conference there were a series of talks on Mars at the International Space Development Conference in Puerto Rico.
Some, but not all, of this attention to the humans to Mars subject is due to the success of the movie The Martian and the book that inspired it. But the subject is also culturally bigger than that: witness the attention that Mars One got last year, both positive and negative, and NASA pushing the theme hard as well (every time somebody uses the hashtag #JourneyToMars an angel gets its wings.) Human missions to Mars, or at least talking about humans on Mars, is all the rage these days, and H2M has made a pretty impressive effort at taking the lead.
H2M seems to have upped its game recently. Their website is slick, featuring computer animations and links to video recordings of most of the presentations at their conference, much of which was live-streamed….
(14) ATTENTION ANN LECKIE. “Tea in space” might be a highly scientific idea. Scientists say it could be used to create useful materials for astronauts visiting Mars.
Former Prime Minister William Gladstone said: ‘If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.’
It may also one day help astronauts on Mars.
The humble cup of tea holds the key to new ‘wonder materials’, new research suggests.
The bacteria found in tea could lead to breakthroughs in water filtration and technology.
(15) THIS IS STRANGE. An sf novel hidden in Reddit posts? The BBC interviewed the anonymous author.
The plot ranges across the CIA, hallucinogenic drugs, humpback whales, Nazis and the death of Michael Jackson. But just as mysterious and intriguing is the way in which what is being dubbed ‘The Interface Series’ is emerging into the world.
If you watched the TV-series Lost, you’ll probably be familiar with that feeling of confused anticipation as you hope for several threads of narrative to tie together. Over the course of this month, a new kind of mystery, for a new kind of audience, has been unfolding on Reddit – the online bulletin board where people post articles and comments on threads about a bewildering range of subjects….
The posts appeared in threads about a bizarre range of seemingly unconnected topics including: a debate about whether pirates really did have parrots, the responses to somebody seeking advice about how to help a relative with a drugs problem and the comments under a video of a cat sliding down stairs.
But these weren’t just random nonsensical rants. There is a theme that ties them all together; ‘The Flesh Interfaces’ which seem to be “portals of some kind, made of thousands of dead bodies, which transport biological matter to some unknown place and returns it inside a fleshy sack, heavily dosed with LSD.”
(16) DAILY TRIVIA. George R.R. Martin, wrote 14 episodes of the Beauty and the Beast TV series, which ran from 1987-90.
(17) JOHNSON TRIBUTE VIDEO. See part one of the George Clayton Johnson Memorial held at the Egyptian on February 26.
[Thanks to Wendy Gale, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Cat Rambo, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Arifel.]
(1) DATA AND YAR AT TANAGRA. Seattle’s EMP Museum is opening Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds to the public on May 21. Tickets required.
Plus, be among the first to visit Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds and get an up-close look at more than 100 artifacts and props from the five Star Trek television series, spin-offs, and films, including set pieces from the original series like Captain Kirk’s command chair and the navigation console (on display for the first time to the public); Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and McCoy original series costumes; and the 6-foot U.S.S. Enterprise filming model from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Opening day is also when Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) and Brent Spiner (Data) will appear – additional charge for photos and autographs, naturally.
(2) OMAZE WINNER. SFWA’s Director of Operations Kate Baker learned during the Nebula conference that she was the Omaze winner, and will join Chris Pratt on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 set.
Tired and sweaty after hours of work, I sat down to check my phone as we planned to grab something to eat. There in my Twitter feed was a message from a new follower; Omaze. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the company, they partner with a celebrity and charity, design a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a random donor, (and here is the most important part) — raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for deserving charities around the world….
I quickly followed them back and responded. That’s when I found out that I was a finalist for the grand prize and to satisfy their partners and sponsors, they wanted to do a short Skype interview that evening.
Unable to contain my excitement, I rushed around my room, curling my hair, refreshing make-up, doing cartwheels, moving furniture, opening blinds, you know — normal things.
As 6:00 CST hit, I took a deep breath and answered the call….. That’s when they sprung the surprise.
(3) CLARKE AHEAD. Award Director Tom Hunter has posted at Medium “14 ways I’m thinking about the future of the Arthur C. Clarke Award”.
8. Governance & succession planning
As mentioned in my section on charitable status, the Clarke Award is currently administered by just 3 volunteers. Could we do more if we had more people involved?
A fair few people have promoted themselves to me as viable candidates over the years, but while many have been keen to have a say in the running of the award (or just like telling me they could do a better job with it) right now one of the reasons the award has weathered its troubles so well has been because of our ability to move faster on key decisions than a continual vote by committee model would likely have allowed us.
Still, as I look to the future again, there are many potential advantages to be gained from our increasing our board membership, not least the fact that when I first took this role a decade ago I only planned to stay for 5 years.
I changed my mind back then because of the need to build a new financial resilience into the award to keep it going, but one day sooner or later I intend to step down after I’ve recruited my replacement.
Padawans wanted. Apply here.
(4) ANTIQUE ZINE. This APA-L cover by Bea Barrio glowed in the dark when it was originally made – in the 1970s. Wonder if it still does?
(5) MASKED MEN. Comic Book Resources boosts the signal: “Dynamite Announces ‘The Lone Ranger Meets the Green Hornet: Champions of Justice”.
What is the connection between the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet? Dynamite Entertainment’s new “The Lone Ranger Meets the Green Hornet: Champions of Justice” series has the answer. CBR can exclusively reveal that writer Michael Uslan and artist Giovanni Timpano are reuniting for the new series, a crossover 80 years in the making.
According to an official series description,
The first chapter, entitled “Return With Us Now,” creates a world of carefully researched alternative history in 1936. Readers will learn whatever happened to The Lone Ranger and discover his familial link to the emergence of a man who is a modern day urban version of The Lone Ranger himself. What is the blood connection of The Green Hornet to The Lone Ranger? What is the link of Olympic runner Jesse Owens to The Green Hornet? What role does Bat Masterson play in The Lone Ranger’s New York adventure? What intense rift tears a family apart just when America desperately needs a great champion of justice? The shocking answers lie in the landmark new series ‘The Lone Ranger Meets the Green Hornet: Champions of Justice!’
(6) DEARLY BELOVED. Lit Brick has done a comic about “If you were a dinosaur, my love”.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(8) FLORSCHUTZ OUT. Max Florschutz explains why he pulled his book from a contest: “Unusual Events Has Been Removed From SPFBO 2016”.
All right, guys, it’s official. I just heard back from Mark Lawrence, the head of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and now that the competition has begun, my book could not be moved to another reviewer, so instead, I’ve elected to withdraw my entry from the competition (for the reasons for doing so, see this post here). It’s sad that it had to be done, but I feel my reasons were sound.
Florschutz outlined reasons for asking for his book to be reassigned in a previous post, “When Did Ethnicity and Sex Become the Most Important Thing?”
Bear with me for a moment, and take a look at these few excerpts from a book review I read this morning, posted on a fantasy review blog (which you can find here, though I’m loathe to give them a link after perusing the site since it’s a little messed up). I’d been poking around the place since they are a participating member of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, a contest between 300 different self-published fantasy books, and Unusual Events is one of those titles. This site is the one that will be handling Unusual Events review.
I’m not sure how I feel about that now. In fact, I may request to have it passed to another site, since I’m pretty sure I can already see how its going to go. Because I’ve been reading their other reviews, and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Let’s look at some quotes:
Otherbound is that last sort of book.
I’m fairly certain I discovered it on Tumblr, recommended by one of those blogs which include lists of books that are commendable for their diversity.
Okay, that’s … interesting. A little background on the title. I guess that’s important? Let’s see what happens if we go further.
… fantasy novels are written by and about (and quite possibly for) white men who like running around with swords saving the world.
Uh-oh. Okay. Sensing a theme here, but—
As I said, it’s an incredible story, and honestly, I’d probably have loved the book even if both of the leads were white and straight.
So they’re saying that it’s also likely that they wouldn’t have liked the book had the main characters been, to use their own words “white and straight”? The book would be inferior simply because of the color of the main character’s skin or their sexual orientation?
….Now, to get back to something I said earlier, I’m considering contacting the SPFBO 2016 ringleaders and asking to have my book moved to another reviewer. And no, it’s not because my book is “… written by and about (and quite possibly for) white men who like running around with swords saving the world.” because it isn’t. But more because now I know that there’s a very high chance that that fact is what the reviewer is going to fixate on regardless. My sex, and my ethnic heritage, as well as that of the characters I wrote, is going to matter to her more than the rest of what’s inside the book’s pages. More than the stories those characters experience, the trials that they undergo.
(9) TEACHING WRITING. “’Between Utter Chaos and Total Brilliance.’ Daniel José Older Talks About Teaching Writing in the Prison System” – a set of Older’s tweets curated by Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com.
(10) PURSUED. David M. Perry profiles Older at Pacific Standard – “Daniel José Older and Progressive Science Fiction After Gamergate”.
The Internet trolls picked a bad week to call Daniel José Older “irrelevant.” As we meet in the opulent lobby of the Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago, his young-adult book Shadowshaper is sitting on a New York Times bestseller list. He’s in town because the book was been nominated for the Andre Norton Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America, which is holding its annual Nebula conference in Chicago. Best of all, he’s just signed a contract for two sequels. There’s also his well-reviewed adult fiction, the “Bone Street Rumba” series. By no standard of publishing is this person irrelevant.
So why the trolls? They’re coming after Older for the same reason that he’s succeeding as a writer?—?his urban fantasy novels actually look like urban America (including the ghosts) and he’s got no patience for the bros who want to keep their fantasy worlds white.
(11) DAMN BREAK. Kameron Hurley charts the history of hydraulic pressure in sf: “The Establishment Has Always Hated The New Kids”.
…Though there has been momentum building for some time, a backlash against the backlash, I’d say it wasn’t until about 2013 when publishing started to catch up. Ann Leckie wrote a space opera (a woman wrote a space opera! With women in it! AND PEOPLE BOUGHT IT SHOCKING I KNOW AS IF NO ONE HAD BOUGHT LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS OR ANYTHING BY CJ CHERRYH OR OCTAVIA BUTLER), and it swept the awards. We Need Diverse Books was able to organize the conversation about the overwhelming whiteness of publishing, bringing together disparate voices into one voice crying out for change in who writes, edits, and publishes books, while the first Muslim Ms. Marvel comic book (written by a Muslim, even!) broke sales records.
The water has been building up behind the damn for a long time, and it’s finally burst.
Watching the pushback to this new wave of writers finally breaking out from the margins to the mainstream has been especially amusing for me, as I spent my early 20’s doing a lot of old-school SF reading, including reading SFF history (I will always think of Justine Larbalestier as the author of The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction). I was, of course, especially interested in the history of feminist science fiction. Women have always written SFF, of course, but the New Wave of the 60’s and 70’s brought with it an influx of women writers of all races and men of color that was unprecedented in the field (if still small compared to the overall general population of said writers in America). This was the age of Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, Sam Delany, and nutty young upstarts like Harlan Ellison. These writers brought a much needed and refreshing new perspective into the field. They raised the bar for what science fiction was. And so the writing got better. The politics and social mores being dissected got more interesting and varied, as one would expect when you introduce a great wave of writers into a field that was happy to award the same handful of folks year after year. They shook up the field. They changed science fiction forever. The established pros had to write their hearts out to catch up….
(12) KEN LIU’S OPINION OF HOGWARTS. Rachel Swirsky did a “Silly Interview with Ken Liu who HAS THE SCHEMATICS for a Time Turner!”
RS: Speaking of Harry Potter, if you could send your kids to Hogwarts, would you?
KL: I’d have to ask my kids. Personally, I’m not a big fan of sending them away to boarding school because I want to spend more time with them. Parents get so little time with their children as is… But if they really want to go and learn magic, I’ll support them. And I hope they work hard to challenge the rather authoritarian system at Hogwarts and engage in campus activism.
(13) THERE WILL BE WALRUS. Steve Davidson did a silly interview of his own — with Timothy the Talking Cat, at Amazing Stories.
ASM: What kind of cat are you (alley, purebred,,,?), or is that kind of inquiry offensive? Do cats themselves make such distinctions?
TTTC: I’m glad you asked. Some people have claimed that I am a British Shorthair cat. However, my cousin had a DNA test and apparently my family are actually the rare French Chartreux breed. This is an important distinction and finally shows what liars those people are who have accused me of being a Francophobe, ‘anti-French’ and/or in some way prejudiced against France, the French and anything remotely Gallic. People need to understand that when I point out that France is a looming danger to all right thinking people in America and other countries as well, like maybe Scotland or Japan. I really can’t stress this enough – the French-Squirrel axis is real and it is plotting against us all. This why Britain needs to leave the European Union right now. I have zero tolerance for those who say we should wait for the referendum – that is just playing into their hands. But understand I am not anti-French as my DNA proves. Squirrels like to say ‘Timothy you are such a Francophobe’ as if that was a dialectical argument against my well thought out positions. They have no answer when I point out that I am MORE French than Charles DeGaulle. Squirrels just can’t think straight about these things. Notice that if you even try and type ‘Francophobe’ your computer will try to turn it into ‘Francophone’ – that is how deep the Franco-Squirrel conspiracy goes. Squirrel convergence happens at high levels in IT companies these days – that is how I lost my verification tick on Twitter.
I don’t talk to other cats these days. Frankly many of them are idiots….
(14) HENRY AND ERROL. The editors of Galactic Journey and File 770. Two handsome dudes – but ornery.
— Galactic Journey (@journeygalactic) May 14, 2016
(15) CRITERIA. Dann collects his thoughts about “That Good Story” at Liberty At All Costs.
In a conversation I am having at File 770, I was asked to define what makes a science fiction/fantasy book “great” for me. Rather than losing these radiant pearls of wisdom to the effluence of teh intertoobery, I thought I would cement them here in my personal record….
Stay Away From Check Boxes Whoo boy. I can smell trouble burning at the other end of the wire already.
“Check box” fiction really undermines the quality of my reading experience. What is “check box” fiction? It is a story that includes elements indicating diversity in the cast of characters that has zero impact on the the story.
In a reverse of the above, I’d like to suggest N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season” as a good example of not doing “check box” fiction. One cluster of protagonists included a character that is straight, one that is seemingly bi-sexual, and one that is decidedly homosexual. They have a three-way.
And while the more patently descriptive passages of those events didn’t do much for me, the fact that their respective sexuality helped inform their motivations and moved the story forward made the effort in describing their sexuality worthwhile reading. She also did a reasonable job at expressing how physical appearances differed based on regionalism. [There were one or two other moments that could be considered “check box(es)”, but for the most part it wasn’t a factor in this book.]
IMHO, including a character that is “different” without having that difference impact the story is at the very least a waste of time that detracts from the story and at the very worst insultingly dismissive of the people that possess the same characters.
(16) IT AIN’T ME BABE. The Guardian got some clickbait from speculating about the identity of Chuck Tingle. Vox Day denies it’s him. Zoë Quinn doesn’t know who it is. The reporter, despite taking 2,000 words of interview notes, also is none the wiser.
Theories abound online: is Tingle Lemony Snicket? The South Park boys? Some sort of performance artist – perhaps the “Banksy of self-published dinosaur erotica” as someone once called him on Twitter? Last year, Jon Tingle – apparently the son of Chuck – appeared on a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread to share unsettling insights into his father: “Yes, my father is very real. He is an autistic savant, but also suffers from schizophrenia. To make it very clear, my father is one of the gentlest, sweetest people you could ever meet and is not at all dangerous, although he does have a history of SELF harm … I would not let him be the butt of some worldwide joke if I didn’t have faith that he was in on it in some way. Regardless, writing and self-publishing brings him a lot of joy.” If this is all a joke, it’s hard to know where it starts or where to laugh….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., JJ, and Tom Hunter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]