(1) ROBERT J. SAWYER SWEARS. In his year-end newsletter, Robert J. Sawyer reveals one of the perks of being added to the Order of Canada.
On Canada Day, July 1, 2016, I was named a Member of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour bestowed by the Canadian government; I was honoured for “accomplishments as a science-fiction writer and mentor and for contributions as a futurist.” This makes me the first person ever to be admitted into the Order for work in the science-fiction field.
I will be presented with a medal by the Governor General of Canada early in the new year, and now am entitled to append the post-nominal initials C.M. to my name.
As a bonus, I’m now also empowered to officiate at Canadian citizenship ceremonies. I’ve been having the time of my life swearing in new citizens at the Mississauga office of the Canadian Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; I’ve sworn in about 500 new Canadians so far, from over 40 countries.
(2) LESSONS FROM URSULA. Nancy Jane Moore reports on The Tiptree Symposium at Book View Café.
“This is another lesson I take from Ursula: Sometimes if you don’t fit in the world, the world has to change.” — Karen Joy Fowler
Those words from Karen’s keynote speech at the ‘2016 Tiptree Symposium’ summed up my experience. The two-day event at the University of Oregon celebrating the work of Ursula K. Le Guin was a powerful antidote to the bombardment of horribles that continue to assault us after the election debacle. I came away feeling transformed.
For me, the most powerful item on the program was “Le Guin’s Fiction as an Inspiration for Activism,” a panel featuring adrienne maree brown (co-editor of Octavia’s Brood) and Grace Dillon (professor at Portland State University in the Indigenous Nations Studies Program), and moderated by Joan Haran (of the University of Oregon and Cardiff University in Wales).
(3) THE CALIFORNIA SPACE PROGRAM. Motherboard’s Jason Koebler concludes “California’s Hypothetical Plan to Start a Space Agency Is Legal and Feasible”.
In a scathing speech Wednesday in front of some of the most important climate scientists in the world, California Gov. Jerry Brown vowed to fight Donald Trump’s anti-environmental policies every step of the way. One audacious promise particularly stood out: Brown said that if Trump turns off NASA’s climate-monitoring satellites, the state “is going to launch its own damn satellites.”
Trump’s advisors have indeed said he will crack down on “politicized science,” and Trump campaign advisor Bob Walker noted that this would include NASA’s Earth Sciences Division, which operate several Earth-monitoring satellites. No one knows yet if Trump will actually have NASA turn off satellites that are much more expensive to make and launch than they are to operate, but for the sake of preparedness, I decided to look into whether or not California could actually keep Brown’s promise. I spoke to several space lawyers in an attempt to suss out how, logistically and legally, a California Space Agency would work.
(4) THE BUZZ. At The Hollywood Reporter — “Rogue One: What the Critics Are Saying”.
Critics are divided, but mostly positive, about the appeals of Gareth Edwards’ ‘Star Wars’ spinoff.
If, as trailers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story put it, rebellions are based on hope, then it’s possibly true that the same can be said for anticipation for the next movie in the beloved science-fiction franchise. Now, however, the first reviews for Rogue One have hit the internet, giving fans their first chance to see whether or not that hope has been misplaced.
(5) YOUTH AGAINST AGE, At Young People Read Old SF, curator James Davis Nicoll turned his crew loose on Kate Wilhelm’s “Baby, You Were Great”.
Young People Read Old SFF has reached the 1960s. That means the fraction of stories by women is about to increase sharply , to reflect the increasing number of women in science fiction. And what better woman to herald that rising tide than the award winning Kate Wilhelm?
First published in the 1950s, Kate Wilhelm is a science fiction, fantasy, and mystery writer. With her husband, Damon Knight, she established both the Clarion and the Milford Writer’s Workshop. Her award nominations and wins include the Nebula, the Hugo, the Apollo, and the Locus. In 2016, the Solstice Award, given to individuals who have had a significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape, was renamed in her honour.
They hated it. And they give solid reasons. But when you consider background facts like the story originally was published in the second of Damon Knight’s avant-garde Orbit anthologies, a book that featured not one but two stories by Joanna Russ, that may only mean the author’s intended message reached them.
(6) THE HORROR. The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog posted a Best Horror Books of 2016 piece. And if I was a better person I would remember who to credit for mentioning that in comments.
This year was an interesting one for horror. Not only did genre fans see new books from established heavy hitters, they welcomed a grandmaster’s novel back into print after 52 years, encountered incredible debuts, rafts of new and disturbing short stories, and at least one satire that frightens just as easily as its source material. If there were room to list every horror book released this year, we could easily just do that. The competition was tough, and many late nights were spent pondering the list and debating where the line lays between horror and dark fantasy. Finally, final selection of contenders emerged from the chaos. Submitted for your approval, here are the 15 best horror books of 2016.
(7) MEYER OBIT. Steven H Silver of SF Site News reports former Worldcon chair Kathleen Meyer died December 13.
Chicago area fan Kathleen Meyer (b.1948) died on December 13. Meyer was a long-time member of the ISFiC Board of Directors, serving as the organization’s Treasurer. She chaired Windycon XI and XII in 1984-5 and Windycon XV in 1988. In 1991, Meyer chaired Chicon V, that year’s Worldcon. She also worked on Capricon programming operations for several years
(8) THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKIN’. Gizmodo has a photo of the boots that left the last human footprints on the moon.
Today marks the end of Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan’s three days exploring Taurus-Littrow for Apollo 17. These extravehicular activity boots were specifically designed for Cernan. They fit over the boots integrated into the base spacesuit, adding an extra layer of protection against thermal extremes and sharp moon rocks. Manufactured by International Latex Corporation, the boots have a silicone sole with woven stainless steel uppers, and are equipped with additional layers of beta cloth and beta felt. They seal with velcro.
The boots have been a part of the human spaceflight collection at the National Air and Space Museum since 1974.
(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA
In 1954, Davy Crockett, a show that may be considered TV’s first miniseries, aired in five segments on the Disneyland program.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- December 15, 1974 – Young Frankenstein debuted.
- December 15, 1978: Superman, starring Christopher Reeve, premiered.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born December 15, 1945 – Steve Vertlieb
(12) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #17. The seventeenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed copy of The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles.
Today’s auction is for an autographed paperback copy of the book THE LOST PLANET, by Rachel Searles.
About the Book:
This is what the boy is told:
- He woke up on planet Trucon, inside of a fence line he shouldn’t have been able to cross.
- He has an annirad blaster would to the back of his head.
- He has no memory.
- He is now under the protection of a mysterious benefactor.
- His name is Chase Garrety.
This is what Chase Garrety knows:
- He has a message: “Guide the star.”
- Time is running out.
(13) EXPAND YOUR TOOLSET. Cat Rambo has posted her schedule of live writing classes for the first quarter of 2017. There’s also a couple of opportunities still available in 2016.
There is still room in the two live classes left this year, both happening next weekend. The first on Saturday is Linguistics for Genre Writers with Juliette Wade, at the usual 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time. This class differs from pretty much every other one I’ve seen in that Wade doesn’t just cover linguistics and worldbuilding, but how to use the principles of linguistics to strengthen, deepen, and otherwise improve your prose. I heartily endorse it.
The second, which is also a really fun and informative class, is To Space Opera and Beyond with Ann Leckie. Technical difficulties hindered the first sessions but everything is smooth and running well now! In this class, Ann talks about space opera, its characteristics, how to handle them, and the process of writing not just a single novel but a series, while we provide writing exercises to take away and use to apply what Ann has told you. Ann is a lively and congenial teacher, funny without being snarky, and above all encouraging and inspiring. I’m really looking forward to the next class, which happens on Sunday, December 18, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time. There is still room in that and the Saturday, January 7 class at the same time.
I am offering the six session Writing F&SF Stories Workshop again, in three different sections:
Section 1: Tuesday afternoons 1-3 PM, January 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, and February 7 Section 2: Wednesday evenings 7-9 PM January 4, 18, 25, and February 1, 8, 15 Section 3: Sunday evenings 5-7 PM January 8, 15, 22, 29 and February 5, 12
I am offering the Advanced Story Writing Workshop on Tuesday evenings 5-7 PM starting January 3rd and going for six weeks. The Advanced Workshop focuses on workshopping stories each week along with lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises designed to help you continue to refine your skills and expand your toolset.
There’s also another dozen stand-alone classes listed at the post.
(14) CAN YOU DIG IT? Scientists are hot on the undersea trail: “Nickel clue to ‘dinosaur killer’ asteroid”.
Scientists say they have a clue that may enable them to find traces of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs in the very crater it made on impact.
This pointer takes the form of a nickel signature in the rocks of the crater that is now buried under ocean sediments in the Gulf of Mexico.
An international team has just drilled into the 200km-wide depression.
It hopes the investigation can help explain why the event 66 million years ago was so catastrophic.
Seventy-five percent of all life, not just the dinosaurs, went extinct.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chi Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, JJ, and Kendall for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]