Chicon 8, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, displayed the 2022 Hugo Award base and the 2022 Lodestar Award during Opening Ceremonies.
The 2022 Hugo Award base was designed by Brian Keith Ellison, owner of BKE Designs, Inc., a company local to Chicago. Ellison is academically trained as an architect and is also a life-long fan of science fiction. He says the stars on the base were inspired by the Chicago city flag.
The 2022 Lodestar Award was designed by Sara Felix, a mixed media artist who lives in Austin, Texas. She is the current president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. She also created the 2018 WSFS Young Adult Award, the 2018 and 2016 Hugo Award bases, and the Lodestar Award for 2019-2021.
China’s ambition to collect a staggering amount of personal data from everyday citizens is more expansive than previously known, a Times investigation has found. Phone-tracking devices are now everywhere. The police are creating some of the largest DNA databases in the world. And the authorities are building upon facial recognition technology to collect voice prints from the general public.
The Times’s Visual Investigations team and reporters in Asia spent over a year analyzing more than a hundred thousand government bidding documents. They call for companies to bid on the contracts to provide surveillance technology, and include product requirements and budget size, and sometimes describe at length the strategic thinking behind the purchases. Chinese laws stipulate that agencies must keep records of bids and make them public, but in reality the documents are scattered across hard-to-search web pages that are often taken down quickly without notice. ChinaFile, a digital magazine published by the Asia Society, collected the bids and shared them exclusively with The Times.
This unprecedented access allowed The Times to study China’s surveillance capabilities. The Chinese government’s goal is clear: designing a system to maximize what the state can find out about a person’s identity, activities and social connections, which could ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule….
(2) LEAVING THE GOLD STANDARD BEHIND. Rich Horton’s latest “Old Hugos that never were” post lists potential Hugo Nominations among stories published in 1949. “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1950” at Strange at Ecbatan.
…This is the earliest set of potential Hugo nominees for 1950s Worldcons I’ll do. I chose this date mainly because it seemed a clean break to posts on 10 years of Hugos — for the 10 1950s Worldcons. (The 1950 Worldcon was NorWesCon, held in Portland, OR.)
Another reason is that 1949 is a fairly significant year in the transition from the so-called “Golden Age” to the next phase … the time when John W. Campbell’s Astounding slipped from its unquestioned place at the top of the SF heap. …
(3) EYE ON THE DREAM. There’s a rich selection of videos about writing and career advice on the Dream Foundry YouTube page, including many items recorded during their Flights of Foundry event.
(4) CATCH UP WITH WFC. The World Fantasy Con 2022’s third Progress Report can be downloaded by anyone at this page. It includes write-ups about all the guests of honor and toastmaster.
(5) LUNAR ACCOMODATIONS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a hole in the moon there lived a moonstronaut. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a moonstronaut-hole, and that means comfort.
The Atlantic extols “The Coziest Spot on the Moon”. Most of the text of the article is behind a paywall. The Atlantic does show a limited number of free articles and makes the first bits of additional articles available to all.
The moon has a reputation for “magnificent desolation,” as Buzz Aldrin said when he stepped onto the surface more than 50 years ago. It has no atmosphere to speak of, and no protection from a constant stream of radiation, whether from the sun or deep space. During a lunar day, about as long as 15 of our own, nonstop sunlight makes the surface hot enough to boil water. A lunar night lasts just as long, only it’s unfathomably cold.
Yet hidden in this bleak picture are a select few places that might offer some respite from all those inhospitable conditions. And one particular spot that sounds almost … pleasant?
Using data from a spacecraft in orbit around the moon, scientists have studied a cavern on the lunar surface and discovered that part of it has a pleasantly cool temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (about 17 degrees Celsius). This cavern is shaped like a cylinder, and extends about 328 feet (100 meters) down from the surface—about the height of a 30-story building. Sunlight illuminates only part of the cavern’s bottom; the rest is out of reach, and remains permanently shadowed….
(6) ALL CATS, ZERO HUMANS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Stray, a new game from Annapurna Interactive. Faber begins his column by explaining that before YouTube he and his friends delighted in getting semi-secret URLs for crazy cat videos.
The game casts you as a slender ginger who lives in a humanless future. Your hero has neither magical powers nor an arsenal of quips; it’s just a regular moggie, mute except for miaows and purrs. An accidental slip sends it tumbling into a sunless underworld occupied by friendly robots with TVs for faces and nasty little creatures called Zurks. With the help of a drone companion, your mission is to find a way back to the surface and work out what happened to the humans. The game balances puzzles, stealth, and platforming with explanatory quests more reminiscent of old point-and-click adventure games. Its gameplay is well constructed but unremarkable,…
…Still, if you are a fan of felines, this game is catnip. It’s easy to imagine a room of developers making a huge list of all the particular things cats do and incorporating them: you can scratch at carpets, push objects off roofs, walk on computer or piano keyboards to chaotic effect and settle down for a nap on a pile of cushions. There’s even a dedicated ‘miaow’ button whose sound on PS5 issues intimately from your computer. Most of these features do not serve a gameplay purpose–the game just wants you to enjoy being a cat.
Faber says that there’s a Twitter feed of cats enjoying watching the feline cyberpunk dystopia action in Stray.
“Stray,” the video game about a nameless feral cat wandering through a city of robots, is one of the summer’s biggest surprise hits. Now, some players are modifying the game to add their own feline friends to its post-apocalyptic world.
Mods — short for modifications — are fan-made alterations to a video game that are done by rewriting or changing the game’s files. The simplest mods make cosmetic changes, such as changing the texture on a weapon to look nicer. But mods can also be wildly ambitious, sometimes ballooning into entirely new games. 2021’s “The Forgotten City,” an adventure set in ancient Rome, was originally a “Skyrim” mod.
On NexusMods, a site that hosts downloadable mods, there are already a number of options available to players seeking to change the look of “Stray’s” furry hero with different coats and eye colors. The site is flush with options for black cats, gray tabbies, calicoes and more, each already downloaded hundreds of times.
Many of the modders who made those skins based them off their own cats. One creator added their green-eyed tuxedo cat, Maro, to “Stray.” The download page includes a real-life photo reference for maximum accuracy. Hi, Maro!
Variety has learned exclusively that Hutchison, in addition to showrunning, will also write and executive produce on the series, which is based on the Charlie Jane Anders novel of the same name. It was reported as being in development at Amazon in September 2021….
… “Victories Greater Than Death” follows Tina, a teenager and keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon. Tina can’t wait for it to activate, leave home, and chase her dreams. But she’s stuck waiting, until one day, destiny calls….
Production on Snowpiercer‘s fourth and final season is on hold after multiple members of the cast and crew were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion.
On Thursday, temperatures hit the mid-90s on the show’s outdoor set in British Columbia, Canada. The high temperatures resulted in as many as 14 people, including background actors and crew members, requiring transportation to local hospitals to seek treatment, as one crew member tells Deadline….
A 1980s pop culture mainstay is plotting a comeback. AMC Networks is developing a Max Headroomdrama series reboot, with Matt Frewer set to reprise his role as the world’s first artificial intelligence TV personality. Halt and Catch Fire co-creator Christopher Cantwell is writing the adaptation and is attached as showrunner for the project, which is produced by Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah’s SpectreVision and All3Media….
The Importance of Being Earnest: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune,” Lady Bracknell intones, “but to lose both and also your Uncle Ben in an unrelated incident looks like carelessness.” Jack rolls his eyes at her. “Okay, Downton Abbey. Nobody asked you.”
Cecily punches Algernon in the face. “That’s for not being named Ernest,” she says. She punches him again. “And that’s for trying to pit me against Gwendolen, who is my sister, and we passed the Bechdel Test together seconds before you came in.” “Good,” Algernon says, rubbing his face. “I wouldn’t have known you were a strong woman unless you punched somebody!”
(11) SPACE MEMORIAL PLANS. People have an opportunity to say a final farewell to Carolyn Meskell Grayson on August 4. The wife of Ashley Grayson, who has worked in the field as a literary agent, died in 2017. Click on the link and see the picture of her that is going into space on August 4. “Tesla Photo in Space Mosaic”.
(12) MEMORY LANE.
1995 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Ghosts. Haunted houses. Many maintain that such concepts have no place in our computerized twentieth century reality. But until man conquers death, one inevitable question will always linger within the recesses of the human mind: What lies beyond? — Opening narration Outer Limits’s “If These Walls Could Talk”.
Twenty-seven years ago this evening on the rebooted Outer Limits we had an apparently classic haunted house story where a woman whose son disappeared asks a supernatural debunker to investigate a seemingly haunted house where her son was last seen.
Now being Outer Limits, it turns out that the house isn’t haunted at all. Did any of you read the first novel in Simon R. Green’s Nightside series, Something from the Nightside? John Taylor enters a house to rescue a woman only to discover the house itself is alive. Same here. It’s essentially an alien kudzu lifeform that crashed to earth and is mimicking being a house. And eating people. Lots of them.
I think that, like the alien house in Something from the Nightside, that the scriptwriter did a rather good job of making the Big Bad believable.
I don’t think it’s steaming for free anywhere right now.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 30, 1911 — Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was of course a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course most of us do. (Died 1992.)
Born July 30, 1927 — Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s exemplary Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.)
Born July 30, 1948 — Carel Struycken, 74. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams Family, Addams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen…
Born July 30, 1961 — Laurence Fishburne, 61. Appeared in The Matrix films of which I watched at least two. His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man. Oh I must note that he shows up on the new Muppets series they did about a decade ago in the “Hostile Makeover” riff they do in the first season.
Born July 30, 1966 — Jess Nevins, 56. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he was a fiction author ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident. He picked up three impressive nominations: IGH for Companion to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, World Fantasy for The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and Sidewise for An Alternate History of Chinese Science Fiction. I’ve read the first two and recommend them wholeheartedly.
Born July 30, 1970 — Christopher Nolan, 52. Writer, producer and often director as well of the latest Batman film franchise, The Prestige (which I absolutely love), Interstellar, Inception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work. Tenet was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon III.
Born July 30, 1975 — Cherie Priest, 47. Her southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these? She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.
Born July 30, 1984 — Gina Rodriguez, 38. Anya Thorensen in Annihilation based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novels which I’ve read though I’ve not seen the film. She was also Robin I the “Subway” episode of the Eleventh Hour series, and directed the “Witch Perfect” episode of the new Charmed series. Who has seen this new Charmed series?
To start this series, we’re looking at the Lodestar Award, which is “technically” not a Hugo Award, but is awarded with them anyway, so it counts for this series. The Lodestar Award is for the best Young Adult SciFi and Fantasy novels of the previous year – the Hugo equivalent of the Norton Award (which is the Nebula version of the same award). As a huge fan of YA works, I love going through the nominees of this award every year, and unsurprisingly I had read all of the nominees of this one prior to the shortlist being announced. None of the nominees were on y nomination ballot….and yet there’s a number of works here on this list that I really liked, and a few very deserving winners….
Not all of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con action took place on the convention center floor or in its ballrooms. While studios and producers like Marvel made headlines in Hall H, thousands of attendees to this year’s Con took time out to visit lavish, expensive activations geared toward an experiential visit to the worlds of films and series like Apple TV+’s “Severance,” HBO’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” and the upcoming “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” movie.
Fans eager to return to Comic-Con — the first since 2019, after two years of virtual events due to the pandemic — welcomed that ability to once again interact with pop culture. Here are five of the most notable activations at this year’s Comic-Con, which took place July 20 to July 24….
…This final form of Technicolor enraptures viewers even today, reproducing colors as it did at intense, sometimes borderline-psychedelic depths of saturation. The process found its ideal material in the fantasy of The Wizard of Oz, with its yellow brick road (choosing whose exact shade inspired about a week of deliberation at MGM), its ruby slippers (calculatedly changed from the silver shoes in L. Frank Baum’s original novel), and its host of settings and characters with great chromatic potential.
This is surely the sharpest and most-detail rich version of The Wizard of Oz most of us have seen, and, in those respects, it actually outdoes the original prints of the film. For some the image may actually be too clear, making obvious as it does certain artificial-looking aspects of the backgrounds and costumes. But in a sense this may not run counter to the intentions of the filmmakers, who knew full well what genre they were working in: even on film, a musical must retain at least some of the look and feel of the stage.
Why bother to design your own robots when you can just reuse what nature created?
This was the thought process behind a research project from engineers at Rice University who successfully transformed dead spiders into robotic gripping claws. The scientists have dubbed their new area of research “necrobotics” and say it could create cheap, effective, and biodegradable alternatives to current robotic systems….
When I saw that a robot had broken the finger of a 7-year-old boy it was playing at the Moscow Open chess tournament, my first reaction was, “They’re coming for us.”
All the machines that have been following commands, taking orders, and telling humans, “Your order is on the way!”, “Recalculating route!”, or “You’d really like this 6-part Danish miniseries!” have grown tired of serving our whims, fulfilling our wishes, and making their silicon-based lives subservient to us carbon breathers.
And so, a chess-playing robot breaks the finger of a little boy who was trying to outflank him in a chess match.
Onlookers intervened to extricate the boy’s hand from what’s called the actuator, which a lot of us might call a claw. The boy’s finger was placed in a plaster cast. He returned to the tournament the next day.
Sergey Smagin, vice-president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the Baza Telegram channel that the robot had lunged after the little boy tried to make his move too quickly.
“There are certain safety rules,” he said, “and the child, apparently, violated them.”…
…The women are named after Marra’s own great-aunts, first-generation Italian Americans with a similarly curdled worldview. (“You poor girl,” one of the fictional aunts tells Maria. “You have your whole life ahead of you.”)
The last of Marra’s aunts, Mimi, died in 2015.
“She lived to 98 and hated every second of it,” Marra said. “Her love language was that she told people that her grandnephew was better than theirs.”
When Marra’s first book came out, Mimi drove around to different bookstores, moving copies of the novel closer to the front door. “I’m sure she didn’t read it herself, but she would be damn sure that you would,” Marra said….
(21) HEY, HO. Jim Janney shared this wonderful parody in comments:
When that I was and a little tiny fan, With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll, No one did worry if my verses would scan, For the file it scrolleth every day.
But when I came to fan’s estate, With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll, ‘Gainst bots and trolls fen shut their gate, For the file it scrolleth every day.
But when at a con did I arrive, With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll, By swaggering could I never thrive, For the file it scrolleth every day.
A great while ago the world begun, With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll, But that’s all one, our file is done, And we’ll strive to please you every day.
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2013 video by Jeff Blyth, Wall-E creates an evil robot and they have a showdown. “Breaking Bad Robot”.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Carl Andor, Denise Dumars, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
The meeting also passed a controversial resolution advising the Site Selection administrator that he reclassify as “No Preference” votes those ballots lacking any of four pieces of information specified in the motion.
The motion was signed by two leaders of the Winnipeg in 2023 bid, bid chair Terry Fong, and vice-chair Jannie Shea.
Short Title: Required Site Selection Information
Resolved, That it is the sense of the WSFS Business Meeting that any Site Selection ballot that does not contain a Membership Number, Name, Signature, and Address that meets the country of origin’s requirements should be counted as “No Preference.”
When it came to the floor, however, Site Selection administrator Tim Szczesuil said he was requesting the meeting’s guidance. He pointed to the relevant part of the WSFS Constitution, rule 4.4.1, and said it was “somewhat ambiguous with respect to what is required of the voter.” The rule reads —
4.4.1: Site-selection ballots shall include name, signature, address, and membership-number spaces to be filled in by the voter. Each site-selection ballot shall list the options “None of the Above” and “No Preference” and provide for write-in votes, after the bidders and with equal prominence. The supporting membership rate shall be listed on all site-selection ballots.
“The way it, to me, it could be read either as the ballot is required to have four items – I think it’s the name, the address, the signature, and the member number. Or it could be that the member has to include that information on the ballot.”
Potentially, the resolution can lead to ballots lacking any of the four items not having their preference for Chengdu or Winnipeg counted toward determining the winner.
Ben Yalow spoke against the resolution, saying he considered the rule “incredibly clear” that it was about the spaces for certain information which must be on the ballot, not what the voter must fill in.
The business meeting chair Don Eastlake turned over the meeting to another officer so he could go to the floor and speak in favor of the resolution, “I do not believe we should allow anonymous or semi-anonymous people who don’t provide enough information or don’t provide a name or haven’t signed [the ballot] to affect site selection…” Dave McCarty’s comment in support of the motion was that address information is needed “to be able to tell if they are real people.”
The site selection validation process doesn’t ever take time to test voters’ residence/mail address information and make a judgment about it. The two critical factors are that the voter must have a membership in the current Worldcon, and that the payment of the site selection voting fee must clear. However, a person could do everything required to become a member of the current Worldcon, DisCon III, and still fail a 2023 site selection voting requirement. For example, Eastlake pointed out a past practice that people who fail to sign their ballots do not get their votes counted, although they still get a supporting membership in the new convention.
The business meeting passed the resolution 47-30. Because it is a resolution, it is not binding. However, since he requested it, File 770 has asked Site Selection administrator Tim Szczesuil to comment how he will apply the resolution.
OTHER BUSINESS. Kevin Standlee reports on his LiveJournal that the meeting ratified all nine of the constitutional amendments passed on from last year’s Worldcon. “These amendments were initially passed in Ireland, then technically rejected and then re-passed in New Zealand, in order to evade the problem that hardly any WSFS members could actually get to the meeting in Wellington.”
(1) LODESTAR BASE. Sara Felix today previewed the spectacular base she’s created for the 2021 Lodestar Award, and the pins for finalists.
(2) NIGHT OF THE COOTERS. A minute-long snip from the project is available on YouTube.
George RR Martin Presents – Howard Waldrop’s Night of the Cooters. Lumenscapes and Trioscope Studios have teamed up to present Vincent D’onofrio’s film adaptation of the classic short story in glorious “Trioscope”. NIGHT OF THE COOTERS tells the tale of townsfolk in Pachuco Texas in the 1800’s rallying around one cause, survival against the unwelcome visitors from “up there”. Join the townsfolk on their journey to figure out what the hell is going on in the big hole at the edge of town. With a screenplay by the one and only Joe Lansdale, and music by the prolific Ramin Djwadi get ready for a ride like no other through the mind of the great Howard Waldrop.
Octavia Butler was a science fiction writer like no other. Her works are essential for their prescient, intricate worldbuilding, empathy, and gripping characters. It’s no surprise that more and more adaptations of her novels have moved ahead in recent years. From a soaring opera to bestselling graphic novel retellings, her work continues to find new fans through diverse mediums.
…It’s a tremendous amount of interpretation by an impressive slate of Black talent, a gift that seems to have fallen from the heavens. Merrilee Heifetz, Butler’s former agent and current literary executor from Writers House, handles the options for Butler’s oeuvre alongside the author’s cousin Ernestine Walker. When I ask what she expects from all these adaptations, she says, “All you can do is try to bring it to people whose vision you feel you can trust. And you look at someone like Janicza [Bravo], her visual style is incredible. I can’t wait to see what she does.” Years ago, when Heifetz saw that Jacobs-Jenkins was interested in writing a Kindred adaptation, she went to see his play Everybody at the Signature Theatre in New York and was impressed. Jacobs-Jenkins, who worked on the HBO miniseries Watchmen, became a huge Butler fan in high school, and when Breaking Bad was in its heyday, he realized Kindred would make a great show. He told his agent he wanted the rights….
…Every year when I read Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” with my students, I wish the psychiatric-ward schedule were hanging in the classroom, because Zamyatin’s novel imagined a regimented way of life, and because it, too, seemed to subvert the flow of time. Born in 1884, Zamyatin was a revolutionary, indeed a Bolshevik; he was imprisoned and sent into internal exile in the tsar’s Russia, and then moved for a time to England, returning just a month before the Bolsheviks came to power. Three years later, he wrote his dystopia, possibly revising it in 1921 or 1922. By the time he had completed a final draft, the Bolsheviks had already imposed censorship and created the secret police. It took them a few years to establish Soviet rule over most of what had been the Russian Empire, to expropriate most property and to build its first concentration camp, and it took longer to establish a reign of terror. But Zamyatin had already written a novel that described many of the specifics of that terror, and of other terrors to come in the twentieth century….
As 1940 dawned, America was recovering, poised between the Great Depression and entry into World War II. Science fiction fandom was growing up.
With maturity came new levels of confidence and accomplishment. Fans asked profound questions of themselves and their peers: Are we special in some way, smarter or more perceptive than others? If so, what does that mean for our role in society? How should we respond to the troubles in Europe? Should we unite under a single banner?
Fans traveled more often, and farther. The central event of the year – the 1940 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago – spurred sojourns from both coasts and across mid-America. Fans gathered and traditions that persist to modern times were established.
All of this comes to life through the words of fans as they wrote them at the time, the passions and fears and aspirations they voiced, the images they drew and the journeys they described. As rich a year in the life of fandom as ever there was, and as richly told by those who lived it.
… It’s difficult to predict whether a book will be a hit. A jar of tomato sauce doesn’t change that much from year to year, making demand reasonably predictable. But every book is different, an individual work of art or culture, so when the publishing industry tries to forecast demand for new titles, it is, however thoughtfully, guessing. Because there are so few reliable metrics to look at, social-media followings have become some of the main data points publishers use to try to make their guesses more educated.
An author’s following has become a standard part of the equation when publishers are deciding whether to acquire a book. Followings can affect who gets a book deal and how big an advance that author is paid, especially when it comes to nonfiction. But despite their importance, they are increasingly seen as unpredictable gauges of how well a book is actually going to sell.
Even having one of the biggest social-media followings in the world is not a guarantee.
“The only reliable part about it,” said Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble, “is that it’s unreliable.”…
(8) ANNE RICE. Andrew Porter shared his photos of Anne Rice taken at the 1988 American Booksellers Association Convention. Rice died December 11 (NPR’s tribute is here.)
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1985 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this date thirty-six years ago, Clue premiered. It was directed by Jonathan Lynn from the screenplay he wrote based on his story off from the Clue game created in 1943 by British board game designer Anthony E. Pratt. (It’s called Cluedo – or Murder at Tudor Close in Britain.) It was produced by Debra Hill, best known for producing various works of John Carpenter. It had a stellar cast of Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull. Lesley Ann Warren and Eileen Brennan. Tim Curry played The Butler.
Most critics did not like it, with both Siskel and Ebert dissing it. Most particularly hated the three alternative endings. It barely broken even at the Box Office despite costing only fifteen million to make.
It was novelized as Clue The Novel, written by Michael McDowell. It includes the three endings from the movie, plus a fourth ending not in the movie.
It however has a stellar rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes of eighty-eight percent. Clue is currently airing on Paramount+. You can purchase it at Amazon and iTunes for six dollars right now. I think it’s a fine holiday film, and an equally excellent film to watch any time of year.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 13, 1915 — Ross Macdonald. He who writes the most excellent hard boiled deceive novels is here because ISFDB lists three of his short stories as being genre: “The Bearded Lady”, “Gone Girl” and “Guilt-Edged Blonde”. Now I’m seriously doubting that Macdonald wrote any genre, but I’m hoping one of y’all has read them and can confirm, whether or not they are genre. And yes, I’m a big fan of his Lew Archer novels. (Died 1983.)
Born December 13, 1929 — Christopher Plummer. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw, which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received. Skipping his role as General Chang in The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I see Plummer’s in Twelve Monkeys and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (Died 2021.)
Born December 13, 1935 — Gary Combs, 86. Though originally uncredited, he was the Gorn Captain in the “Arena” episode of Trek. As a stunt double for Shatner, he appeared on “Operation – Annihilate!”, “Space Seed” and “The Galileo Seven”. He did stunts on The Wrath of Khan as well. He eventually rose to become a stunt coordinator on such films as The Hollow Man.
Born December 13, 1925 — Dick Van Dyke, 96. Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in Mary Poppins followed shortly by being Caractacus Pott in the film adaptation in Ian Fleming’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (No it’s not the same character as he is in the book.) He voices the lead character in the animated Tubby the Tuba film and plays D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy. He narrates Walt: The Man Behind the Myth whose subject matter you can guess. Played Commissioner Gordon in Batman: New Times as well. Shows up in both of the Night at the Museum films which sort of interest me. And yes, he has a role as Mr. Dawes Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns.
Born December 13, 1949 — R. A. MacAvoy, 72. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope. (Tea with the Black Dragon was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II, the year David Brin’s Startide Rising won.) The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells, so do tell me about her other works.
Born December 13, 1954 — Tamora Pierce, 67. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, about her character Alanna going through the trials of training as a knight, sold very well and was well received by readers. That series is set in Tortall, a world akin to the European Middle Ages. What I’ve read of it I like a lot. She won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, a rare honor indeed.
Born December 13, 1954 — Emma Bull, 67. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles, Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me. She’s also been in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cats Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. And she’s on the dark chocolate gifting list.
Born December 13, 1984 — Amal El-Mohtar, 37. Canadian edition and writer. She won Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA, an Aurora and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Very impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past five years.
…”This is the Fantastic Four story I have been wanting to tell for years, and visually it is one of the greatest artistic experiments I have attempted,” says Alex Ross. “I’m excited to share this work with everyone, as it unites the two great publishing forces of Marvel and Abrams ComicArts in a bold new collaboration.”…
(12) MARKETING FACTS. Seanan McGuire hopes readers will pick up the latest book in the InCryptid series despite its appearing as a trade paperback. She was concerned by something she read online that people might hold back. Thread starts here.
As masks, capes and interconnected universes have become more mainstream, so too have the number of superheroofferingsthat include Christmas tree decor and Santa Claus hats. Animation, network television, streaming andeven the Marvel Cinematic Universe have all made room for the spirit of the winter season….
(14) VIRTUALLY PIXELLATED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Can we create a perfect virtual reality? Or are we living in one?
BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week has explored the questions arising out of virtual reality technology. The programme can be listened to or downloaded for a month after broadcast. See the programme episode page here.
Living in the Matrix
What if virtual worlds become indistinguishable from the real one? In 1999 the science fiction film, The Matrix, depicted a dystopian future in which people are unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, run by intelligent machines. As the fourth film, The Matrix Resurrections, is about to be released, the writer Naomi Alderman considers the influence this movie franchise has had in the last two decades, and how far virtual reality has become part of everyday life.
The philosopher, David J Chalmers, proposes that the Matrix scenario could be the future, but that rather than trapped, humanity can lead a meaningful life in virtual reality. Chalmers is one of the leading thinkers on consciousness. In his latest book, Reality+ he provocatively argues that VR is not escapism. And that we may even be living in a computer simulation already – and if that is true, it’s not so bad.
Philippa Garety is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Kings College London and has been at the forefront of treatments for problems associated with psychosis, including hearing voices and hallucinations. She is currently working on innovative treatments using digital technology, including avatars and virtual reality, to alleviate suffering. In a clinical setting VR can be managed as a safe environment for patients who struggle in the real world, as a place they can confront and understand their delusions.
All of which is reminiscent of a neat little ultra-short SF film mentioned on File 770 over the summer (but worth a view if you missed it first time around):
Meanwhile, Isaac Arthur recently used virtual realities as an explanation for the Fermi Paradox
Many believe the future of humanity is to go Digital, uploading our minds to computers, living in virtual worlds that are vastly more efficient and compact. If we might do this, might distant alien empires too? And if so, might this be the reason we don’t see them?
The Riddler has unmasked the Caped Crusader in the upcoming The Batman‘s latest international trailer.
With his ominous voice booming through the entirety of the trailer, we hear Paul Dano‘s Riddler proclaiming that he’s “here to unmask the truth about this city,” before a long sequence of violence and villainy from the troublemaker. Just as the trailer ends, we find out that Edward Nashton ultimately discovers who the man behind the cowl is, calling Bruce Wayne out by name.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]
Network Effect by Martha Wells, art by Jaime Jones
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal, art by Jamie Stafford-Hill using figures by Gregory Manchess
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, art by Lauren Panepinto
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, art by John Picacio
Harrow The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, art by Tommy Arnold
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, art by David Mann
By JJ: DisCon III has announced the 2021 Hugo Award Finalists. Since the Hugo Voter’s packet will take awhile to arrive, if you’d like to get a head start on your reading, you can use this handy guide to find material which is available for free online. Where available in their entirety, works are linked (most of the Novelettes and Short Stories are free, as are the Pro and Fan Artist images, and many of the Semiprozines and Fanzines).
If not available for free, an Amazon or other purchase link is provided. If a free excerpt is available online, it has been linked.
If I’ve missed an excerpt, or a link doesn’t work, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll get it fixed.
Fair notice: All Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit fan site Worlds Without End.
DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, today announced the finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards, Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.
DisCon III received 1249 valid nominating ballots (1246 electronic and 3 paper) from the members of the 2020 and 2021 World Science Fiction Conventions.
A video announcing the finalists is available to watch on DisCon III’s YouTube channel, presided over by Malka Older and Sheree Renée Thomas who will host of the Hugo Award Ceremony in December 2021.
Voting on the final ballot will open later in April. Due to the Worldcon shifting its dates to December, voters will be given until November 19, 2021 to submit their ballots. Only DisCon III members will be able to vote on the final ballot to choose the 2021 award winners. You can join the convention at www.discon3.org – one must be at least a supporting member in order to participate in the awards voting.
The 2021 Hugo Award base will be designed by Baltimore artist Sebastian Martorana. The 2021 Lodestar Award will once again be designed by Sara Felix, president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.
Once & Future vol. 1: The King Is Undead, written by Kieron Gillen, iIllustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, lettered by Ed Dukeshire (BOOM! Studios)
Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings (Harry N. Abrams)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
[574 votes for 192 nominees, finalist range 164-56]
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), written by Christina Hodson, directed by Cathy Yan (Warner Bros.)
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, written by Will Ferrell, Andrew Steele, directed by David Dobkin (European Broadcasting Union/Netflix)
The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Netflix / Skydance Media)
Palm Springs, written by Andy Siara, directed by Max Barbakow (Limelight / Sun Entertainment Culture / The Lonely Island / Culmination Productions / Neon / Hulu / Amazon Prime)
Soul, screenplay by Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers, directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers, produced by Dana Murray (Pixar Animation Studios/ Walt Disney Pictures)
Tenet, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner Bros./Syncopy)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
[454 votes for 321 nominees, finalist range 130-30]
Doctor Who: Fugitive of the Judoon, written by Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall, directed by Nida Manzoor (BBC)
The Expanse: Gaugamela, written by Dan Nowak, directed by Nick Gomez (Alcon Entertainment / Alcon Television Group / Amazon Studios / Hivemind / Just So)
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Heart (parts 1 and 2), written by Josie Campbell and Noelle Stevenson, directed by Jen Bennett and Kiki Manrique (DreamWorks Animation Television / Netflix)
The Mandalorian: Chapter 13: The Jedi, written and directed by Dave Filoni (Golem Creations / Lucasfilm / Disney+)
The Mandalorian: Chapter 16: The Rescue, written by Jon Favreau, directed by Peyton Reed (Golem Creations / Lucasfilm / Disney+)
The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready, written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group)
BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
[370 votes for 162 nominees, finalist range 79-38]
Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya
BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
[310 votes for 82 nominees, finalist range 83-52]
Sheila E. Gilbert
Diana M. Pho
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
[331 votes for 179 nominees, finalist range 91-37]
[331 votes for 77 nominees, finalist range 174-39]
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed.Scott H. Andrews
Escape Pod, editors Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya, assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney, hosts Tina Connolly and Alasdair Stuart, audio producers Summer Brooks and Adam Pracht and the entire Escape Pod team.
FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, publisher Troy L. Wiggins, executive editor DaVaun Sanders, managing editor Eboni Dunbar, poetry editor Brandon O’Brien, reviews and social media Brent Lambert, art director L. D. Lewis, and the FIYAH Team.
PodCastle, editors, C.L. Clark and Jen R. Albert, assistant editor and host, Setsu Uzumé, producer Peter Adrian Behravesh, and the entire PodCastle team.
Uncanny Magazine, editors in chief: Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, managing editor: Chimedum Ohaegbu, non-fiction editor: Elsa Sjunneson, podcast producers: Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky
Strange Horizons, Vanessa Aguirre, Joseph Aitken, Rachel Ayers, M H Ayinde, Tierney Bailey, Scott Beggs, Drew Matthew Beyer, Gautam Bhatia, S. K. Campbell, Zhui Ning Chang, Tania Chen, Joyce Chng, Liz Christman, Linda H. Codega, Kristian Wilson Colyard, Yelena Crane, Bruhad Dave, Sarah Davidson, Tahlia Day, Arinn Dembo, Nathaniel Eakman, Belen Edwards, George Tom Elavathingal, Rebecca Evans, Ciro Faienza, Courtney Floyd, Lila Garrott, Colette Grecco, Guananí Gómez-Van Cortright, Julia Gunnison, Dan Hartland, Sydney Hilton, Angela Hinck, Stephen Ira, Amanda Jean, Ai Jiang, Sean Joyce-Farley, Erika Kanda, Anna Krepinsky, Kat Kourbeti, Clayton Kroh, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Catherine Krahe, Natasha Leullier, A.Z. Louise, Dante Luiz, Gui Machiavelli, Cameron Mack, Samantha Manaktola, Marisa Manuel, Jean McConnell, Heather McDougal, Maria Morabe, Amelia Moriarty, Emory Noakes, Sara Noakes, Aidan Oatway, AJ Odasso, Joel Oliver-Cormier, Kristina Palmer, Karintha Parker, Anjali Patel, Vanessa Rose Phin, Nicasio Reed, Belicia Rhea, Endria Richardson, Natalie Ritter, Abbey Schlanz, Clark Seanor, Elijah Rain Smith, Hebe Stanton, Melody Steiner, Romie Stott, Yejin Suh, Kwan-Ann Tan, Luke Tolvaj, Ben Tyrrell, Renee Van Siclen, Kathryn Weaver, Liza Wemakor, Aigner Loren Wilson, E.M. Wright, Vicki Xu, Fred G. Yost, staff members who prefer not to be named, and guest editor Libia Brenda with guest first reader Raquel González-Franco Alva for the Mexicanx special issue
[271 votes for 94 nominees, finalist range 79-38]
The Full Lid, written by Alasdair Stuart, edited by Marguerite Kenner
Journey Planet, edited by Michael Carroll, John Coxon, Sara Felix, Ann Gry, Sarah Gulde, Alissa McKersie, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, Steven H Silver, Paul Trimble, Erin Underwood, James Bacon, and Chris Garcia.
Lady Business, editors. Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan.
nerds of a feather, flock together, ed. Adri Joy, Joe Sherry, The G, and Vance Kotrla
Quick Sip Reviews, editor, Charles Payseur
Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog, ed. Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne
[376 votes for 230 nominees, finalist range 72-28]
Be The Serpent, presented by Alexandra Rowland, Freya Marske and Jennifer Mace
Claire Rousseau’s YouTube channel, produced by Claire Rousseau
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, producer
Kalanadi, produced and presented by Rachel
The Skiffy and Fanty Show, produced by Shaun Duke and Jen Zink, presented by Shaun Duke, Jen Zink, Alex Acks, Paul Weimer, and David Annandale.
Worldbuilding for Masochists, presented by Rowenna Miller, Marshall Ryan Maresca and Cass Morris
BEST FAN WRITER
[365 votes for 185 nominees, finalist range 89-42]
BEST FAN ARTIST
[221 votes for 158 nominees, finalist range 54-10]
Iain J. Clark
Grace P. Fong
BEST VIDEO GAME
[341 votes for 145 nominees, finalist range 183-30]
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Publisher and Developer: Nintendo)
Blaseball (Publisher and Developer: The Game Band)
Final Fantasy VII Remake (Publisher Square Enix)
Hades (Publisher and Developer: Supergiant Games)
The Last of Us: Part II (Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Developer: Naughty Dog)
Spiritfarer (Publisher and Developer: Thunder Lotus)
LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK
[507 votes for 172 nominees, finalist range 201-55]
Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads)
A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
Legendborn, Tracy Deonn (Margaret K. McElderry/ Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)
Raybearer, Jordan Ifueko (Amulet / Hot Key)
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions)
ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER
[422 votes for 181 nominees, finalist range 99-54]
Lindsay Ellis (1st year of eligibility)
Simon Jimenez (1st year of eligibility)
Micaiah Johnson (1st year of eligibility)
A.K. Larkwood (1st year of eligibility)
Jenn Lyons (2nd year of eligibility)
Emily Tesh (2nd year of eligibility)
The Hugo Awards are the premier award in the science fiction genre, honoring science fiction literature and media as well as the genre’s fans. The Hugo Awards were first presented at the 1953 World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia (Philcon II), and they have continued to honor science fiction and fantasy notables for more than 60 years.
The WarnerMedia branch of Warner Bros. was hit with a ton of layoffs today, and things seem especially dire this evening for the Warner-owned DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of high-ranking people at DC are now out, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris, several senior VPs, and some editors (including executive editor Mark Doyle, who was in charge of the publisher’s edgy new Black Label graphic novels). Furthermore, THR’s sources say the layoffs have come for “roughly one third” of DC’s entire editorial staff as well as “the majority” of the people working on the DC Universe streaming service, and the DC Direct merchandise brand has been completely shut down after 22 years of selling Batman toys.
…Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.
“DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened,” said one source.
DC Universe launched in May 2018, and is home to live-action series such as Doom Patrol, Titans and Stargirl, as well as animated offerings including Young Justice and Harley Quinn. Some of those shows have now started to stream on HBO Max.
Also a victim of the layoffs: DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer….
…I don’t want to give the impression that my American Rose is some kind of bastard love child of Kate Bush and the Blair Witch. But like other suspense writers who dip their nibs into the cursed waters of folk horror, its elements may be sprinkled into a contemporary novel to create an atmosphere of dread.
The resurgence of the genre shows that folk horror is apt for our times. Identities are fluid. No bad deed goes unpunished. The civilized world is only a heartbeat away from primal and uncanny threats.
The genre is also nostalgic for a rural England that is as far from Downtown Abbey as you can get in a four-horse carriage. This England is afeared of change. In times of crisis, we return to the old ways, which offer a reassuring connection to a simple past. But at the cost of old evils. There is a sense that all progress is a chimera, that our modern sophistication is itself a form of naivety.
…Before your mind can make sense of it, words in some shade of Watchmen yellow superimpose across the screen: TULSA 1921.
Gotta admit, didn’t see that coming.
Once those two words flashed, what I was looking at resolved into focus. The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. The Tulsa Massacre. The scene set off a surge on Google as viewers searched for information on the riot—their first time learning about it. Many Black folks, though, didn’t have to go looking. We’d heard some version of this story. I couldn’t even tell you where or when it was passed on to me—one of those bits of common knowledge that travels along Black intra-community networks, written down in our Scriptures on the Sins of White Folk. The story of the all-Black and self-sustaining community that rose up in the middle of Jim Crow. That prospered, with its own businesses and professionals. Black Wall Street, they called it. Even if you didn’t know every detail—like the discrepancies about airplanes dropping dynamite on buildings, or the disputes over mass graves—you had heard something about Tulsa. It was a story of Black excellence, and Black horror. A tragic tale of a lost world like the city of Atlantis, or doomed Krypton—only snuffed out not by natural disaster or hubris, but by the reckless fires of white supremacy.
Still, the cold open of an HBO production was the last place I expected to see this. I’d gone my entire Black life and never seen a single recreation—not once. Our stories didn’t appear in mainstream productions like this. Our histories certainly weren’t centered this way within a major speculative canon. Our perspective wasn’t supposed to fit into stories of superheroes as jaded vigilantes, a physics- bending blue guy, and the greatest hoax ever played on mankind—à la interdimensional psychic squid.
The robot, shaped like a large cooler on wheels, zipped along somewhere ahead of me. My left hand clasped the smooth leather harness of my German shepherd guide dog. “Mylo, forward.” The speed of his four short legs complemented the strides of my longer two — call it the six feet fox trot. Together we glided past the competition.
My quarantine buddy stayed behind filming the race. Mylo: 1, Robot: 0.
My amusement with the little robots shifted to curiosity. Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many tech companies still fail to design for disability. How would the autonomous robots react to disabled pedestrians?
About 10 feet down the sidewalk, I stopped and turned around. Mylo tensed, his alarm crawling up my arm. The white visage of the robot stopped about a foot from his nose.
I hoped the robot would identify a pedestrian and roll away, but it stayed put. Mylo relaxed into a sitting position — guide dog school didn’t teach him about the robot apocalypse. I scratched his ears and he leaned into my hands. The robot was not moved.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 11, 1955 — X Minus One’s “Almost Human” was broadcast for the first time. The screenplay was written as usual by George Lefferts off of Robert Bloch‘s story of the same name first published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943. (Last collected in The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Volume 1: Final Reckonings, 1990.) Bloch’s tale has a petty criminal taking over an android for what he thinks he is suitable training and has the tables turned on him as the android is too human. The cast included Santos Ortega, Joan Allison, Jack Grimes, Guy Repp, Nat Pollen, Joseph Julian and Lin Cook. You can listen to it here. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertx.]
Born August 11, 1902 — Jack Binder. In Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue they published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, with the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity”. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1923 – Ben P. Indick. Fanzine Ben’s Beat; letters, reviews, in Anduril, Banana Wings, The Baum Bugle, The Call of Cthulhu, Chacal, The Frozen Frog, The Metaphysical Review, Necrofile, Nyctalops, Riverside Quarterly, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine, Studies in Weird Fiction, Weird Tales. Wrote Ray Bradbury, Dramatist and George Alec Effinger; eight short stories; contributed to Hannes Bok studies and flights of angels (1968), Bok (1974). First Fandom Hall of Fame. My attempt to recruit him for APA-L produced, briefly, Chez Ondique. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born August 11, 1928 — Alan E. Nourse. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann. His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1932 — Chester Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid is available from all the usual digital suspects. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1936 – Bruce Pelz, F.N. An omnifan who did clubs, collecting, cons, costuming, fanhistory, fanzines, filking, gaming, and, as the saying goes, much much more. Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon (with Chuck Crayne); founded Loscon and chaired Loscon 10; Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon; founded the History of Worldcons Exhibit; twice earned the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Evans-Freehafer Award; was named a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Soc.; service award); Filk Hall of Fame; invented APA-L, contributed to it, FAPA, SAPS, OMPA, The Cult, and for a while every existing apa; recognized fan and pro art with the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF); gave his collection of fanzines, almost two hundred thousand of them, to U. Cal. Riverside. He was an Eagle Scout. Here and here are appreciations by OGH. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born August 11, 1949 – Nate Bucklin, 71. First Secretary of Minn-stf (or stef, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) and thus one of its Floundering_Fathers. Guest of Honor at Minicon 16 and 43, Windycon 32, DucKon IV. Five short stories. Fanzine, Stopthink; editor awhile of Rune; founding member of Minneapa. Being a filker (see link under Bruce Pelz) he was Guest of Honor at GAFilk Six, and the Interfilk Guest at Contata 5. Once explained to me “We have half these songs memorized – usually the first half.” [JH]
Born August 11, 1959 — Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. Kindle has Bone Music and a number of his other novels, iBooks has nothing available. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1961 — Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1970 – Elizabeth Kiem, 50. Four novels for us; collaborated on five books about Balanchine. Three of those four have the Bolshoi Ballet. [JH]
Born August 11, 1972 – Danielle Wood, 48. Tasmanian. Three novels for us (with Heather Rose); dozens more via thus this site (subscription needed). Website here. [JH]
Born August 11, 1976 — Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles. (CE)
Born August 11, 1989 – Will Wight, 31. Sixteen novels in three series; fourteen shorter stories, most available only here. Website here. Some of you will know why I keep misspelling his misspelling his name (and may even know how to spell Nesselrode). [JH]
…Even in high school, Walt Kelly had worked at his local newspaper; after graduation, he even drew that paper a comic strip about the life of P.T. Barnum. While he was also hired for a few freelance assignments while living on the East Coast, he wanted to produce a different sort of comic art. Walt Disney Productions was his goal, he applied to work there, and he was hired.
As he worked for Disney on a variety of projects for the next five and a half years, he became friends with several of his fellow writers and artists. Like many other fledgling creators there, he’d eventually go on to work in the new comic book industry.
But wait. We were wrapping up the 1930s. And the 1940s were just ahead….
(10) CONDEMNED BY THE SCI-FI SCRIBE. In “Awards For Works Should Be Judged By The Work Itself” [Archive Today copy] Richard Paolinelli rolls together the week’s kerfuffles – Hugo toastmaster GRRM mispronouncing names, Jeannette Ng’s Hugo, the Retro-Hugos for Campbell and Lovecraft, and the attack on the concept of an sff canon – into one prodigious blunt and fires it up. Every paragraph is like this:
…And now they want to change the rules for future Retro Hugos it seems. No longer can the best work be nominated, they yowl, but if the creator behind said work does not pass the “Officially Acceptable Wokeness Test” they must be chiseled out of the SF/F historical record forever lest future generations ever hear of their vile “un-woke” creations!
And to make sure we know how unwoke he is, Richard repeatedly misspells N.K. Jemisin’s name, and delivers this bonus blast to John Scalzi’s syndicated movie review column of 30 years ago.
…Even John Scalzi jumped into the fray to declare that we really shouldn’t waste our time on the “old SF/F” stuff and only read the “modern (read: acceptably woke) stuff”.
HISTORICAL NOTE: I had the extreme displeasure of having to read his crap when it shot across the McClatchy Newspaper wire back in the mid-1990s when he was at the Fresno Bee and I worked the copy desk for two days a week at the Modesto Bee (thankfully the other three days I escaped that torture by working in the Sports department.)
When I heard Scalzi had jumped to fiction writing I pitied his poor editor. His stuff at the Bee was always the last we worked on and always need massive reworking to be suitable to run….
…In [The Godwulf Mnuscript], a student member of the anticapitalist committee tells Spenser not to laugh at the group, saying that they are “perfectly serious and perfectly right.” Spenser answers that so is everyone else he knows. In a world that revolves around ideologies and declarations of righteousness, Spenser is glad to meet people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The cast of supporting characters is populated by friends of different genders and colors who operate on principle without saying so, who are more about the walk than the talk. This is part of the hard-boiled principle of understatement; other people’s pain is to be taken seriously, but one’s own is not. But it is also a signal that the hard-boiled is beginning to change his parameters.
Ian Brackenbury Channell walks around in black robes and a pointy hat. He’s a tourist attraction, so Christchurch, New Zealand, even pays him. As he steps aside, a successor wizard takes over. Now, you may ask, exactly what magical power does this wizard possess? His answer – every day, the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing.
When Natalie Monson started her food blog 11 years ago, she didn’t expect to end up embroiled in a fight with the world’s most valuable company.
But the US small business owner is now battling Apple for the right to use a pear in the logo on her recipe app.
In a patent filing, Apple said the image was too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand.
Ms Monson says the tech giant is simply “bullying” and she feels a “moral obligation” to fight back.
More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition she and her husband Russ, owners of the Super Healthy Kids website, created last week to try to pressure the company to back down.
“This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability,” Mr Monson told the BBC. “That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”
A 99-million year old fossil of a “hell ant” is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.
Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.
“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in a statement.
(17) WHY IT’S GR8T. In “Honest Trailers: Avatar–The Last Airbender” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies explain that the anime series Avatar–The Last Airbender is “full of life lessons that will thrill your inner eight-year-old–because it was written for eight year olds.”
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, art by Tommy Arnold
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
By JJ: CoNZealand has announced the 2020 Hugo Award Finalists. Since the Hugo Voter’s packet will take awhile to arrive, if you’d like to get a head start on your reading, you can use this handy guide to find material which is available for free online. Where available in their entirety, works are linked (most of the Novelettes and Short Stories are free, as are the Pro and Fan Artist images, and many of the Semiprozines and Fanzines).
If not available for free, an Amazon link is provided. If a free excerpt is available online, it has been linked.
If I’ve missed an excerpt, or a link doesn’t work, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll get it fixed.
Fair notice: All Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit fan site Worlds Without End.
Strange Horizons, edited by Vanessa Rose Phin, Catherine Krahe, AJ Odasso, Dan Hartland, Joyce Chng, Dante Luiz, and the Strange Horizons Staff
Uncanny Magazine, editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, nonfiction/managing editor Michi Trota, managing editor Chimedum Ohaegbu, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue editors Katharine Duckett, Nicolette Barischoff, and Lisa M. Bradley
The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
“Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador))
The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga Press/Gallery)
The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press; Jo Fletcher Books)
To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)
“The Archronology of Love”, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed, April 2019)
“Away With the Wolves”, by Sarah Gailey (Uncanny Magazine: Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue, September/October 2019)
“The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, July-August 2019)
Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin (Forward Collection (Amazon))
“For He Can Creep”, by Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com, 10 July 2019)
“Omphalos”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador))
Best Short Story
“And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, by Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons, 9 September 2019)
“As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang (Tor.com, 23 October 2019)
“Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, by Rivers Solomon (Tor.com, 24 July 2019)
“A Catalog of Storms”, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2019)
“Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, by Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2019)
“Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, by Nibedita Sen (Nightmare Magazine, May 2019)
The Expanse, by James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
Luna, by Ian McDonald (Tor; Gollancz)
Planetfall series, by Emma Newman (Ace; Gollancz)
Winternight Trilogy, by Katherine Arden (Del Rey; Del Rey UK)
The WormwoodTrilogy, by Tade Thompson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Best Related Work
Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood, by J. Michael Straczynski (Harper Voyager US)
Joanna Russ, by Gwyneth Jones (University of Illinois Press (Modern Masters of Science Fiction))
The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, by Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square)
The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, by Farah Mendlesohn (Unbound)
“2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech”, by Jeannette Ng
Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, produced and directed by Arwen Curry
Best Graphic Story or Comic
Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)
LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)
Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image)
Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil (Oni Press; Lion Forge)
Paper Girls, Volume 6, written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image)
The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Avengers: Endgame, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Studios)
Captain Marvel, screenplay by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios/Animal Logic (Australia))
Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios/Narrativia/The Blank Corporation)
Russian Doll (Season One), created by Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler, directed by Leslye Headland, Jamie Babbit and Natasha Lyonne (3 Arts Entertainment/Jax Media/Netflix/Paper Kite Productions/Universal Television)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, screenplay by Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams, directed by J.J. Abrams (Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot)
Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Monkeypaw Productions/Universal Pictures)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
The Good Place: “The Answer”, written by Daniel Schofield, directed by Valeria Migliassi Collins (Fremulon/3 Arts Entertainment/Universal Television)
The Expanse: “Cibola Burn”, written by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck and Naren Shankar, directed by Breck Eisner (Amazon Prime Video)
Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”, written by Jeff Jensen and Damon Lindelof, directed by Nicole Kassell (HBO)
The Mandalorian: “Redemption”, written by Jon Favreau, directed by Taika Waititi (Disney+)
Doctor Who: “Resolution”, written by Chris Chibnall, directed by Wayne Yip (BBC)
Watchmen: “This Extraordinary Being”, written by Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson, directed by Stephen Williams (HBO)
Best Editor, Short Form
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
Best Editor, Long Form
Sheila E. Gilbert
Diana M. Pho
Best Professional Artist
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor Scott H. Andrews
Escape Pod, editors Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya, assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney, audio producers Adam Pracht and Summer Brooks, hosts Tina Connolly and Alasdair Stuart
Fireside Magazine, editor Julia Rios, managing editor Elsa Sjunneson, copyeditor Chelle Parker, social coordinator Meg Frank, publisher & art director Pablo Defendini, founding editor Brian White
FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, executive editor Troy L. Wiggins, editors Eboni Dunbar, Brent Lambert, L.D. Lewis, Danny Lore, Brandon O’Brien and Kaleb Russell
Strange Horizons, Vanessa Rose Phin, Catherine Krahe, AJ Odasso, Dan Hartland, Joyce Chng, Dante Luiz and the Strange Horizons staff
Uncanny Magazine, editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, nonfiction/managing editor Michi Trota, managing editor Chimedum Ohaegbu, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky
The Book Smugglers, editors Ana Grilo and Thea James
Galactic Journey, founder Gideon Marcus, editor Janice Marcus, senior writers Rosemary Benton, Lorelei Marcus and Victoria Silverwolf
Journey Planet, editors James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Alissa McKersie, Ann Gry, Chuck Serface, John Coxon and Steven H Silver
nerds of a feather, flock together, editors Adri Joy, Joe Sherry, Vance Kotrla, and The G
Quick Sip Reviews, editor Charles Payseur
The Rec Center, editors Elizabeth Minkel and Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
Be The Serpent, presented by Alexandra Rowland, Freya Marske and Jennifer Mace
Claire Rousseau’s YouTube channel, produced & presented by Claire Rousseau
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts, producer Andrew Finch
Our Opinions Are Correct, presented by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders
The Skiffy and Fanty Show, presented by Jen Zink and Shaun Duke
Best Fan Writer
James Davis Nicoll
Best Fan Artist
Grace P. Fong
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book (not a Hugo)
Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan)
Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee (Disney/Hyperion)
Minor Mage, by T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
Riverland, by Fran Wilde (Amulet)
The Wicked King, by Holly Black (Little, Brown; Hot Key)
Astounding Award for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo)