(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Gordon Van Gelder has shared the July/August 2022 cover for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The cover art by Mondolithic Studios illustrates “Starblind, Booklost, and Hearing the Songs of True Birds” by Rudi Dornemann.
(2) MACMILLAN REMAINS SHUTTERED. “Macmillan Closed Tuesday As Well As They Address Security Incident” reports Shelf Awareness.
Macmillan, which closed yesterday because of “a security incident” on Saturday that involved its servers and internal system, is remaining closed “virtually and physically” today, Tuesday, June 28. The company said it is “making progress,” but it is still unable to process, receive, place or ship orders.
Details of the incident have not been publicized. Publisher’s Lunch (behind a paywall) commented:
…Network “security incidents” — generally some kind of hacking and/or ransomware — have become all too commonplace in recent years, and each one serves as a cautionary tale to all of us. Some are handled quietly and never acknowledged, but among the known incidents with publishing-related companies in recent years, the Barnes & Noble ransomware hack was the most prominent and had the biggest effect on customers, ultimately taking weeks to fully resolve….
(3) 69 IS NOT DIVINE? Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson recommends some changes in “The Hugo Awards At 69”.
… At the time of its establishment and for the first few years of its existence, the award categories clearly reflected the interests and aspects of SF Fandom that were considered important to its future existence: fiction, the “raison d’etre” of the culture, the magazines that published the fiction and/or the editor’s who managed them, the artists who realized its visions and the people who made and reinforced that culture, the Fans.
Seven categories were initially offered. That’s now expanded to 17 and I’ll submit that the reason(s) some categories may be under-represented and might be eliminated is not because they’ve lost importance over the years, but because the awards themselves have focused on becoming more commercially appealing, rather than on focusing on serving their original purpose, that of self-congratulation and recognition within a fan community.
The Hugo Awards need to reduce the number of categories it covers and refocus its efforts on the writing and Fan categories. (Why Fan categories? Two primary reasons: The body of critical analysis offered by Fans through reviews and essays, commentary and yes, even ridicule and sarcasm, is what continuously redefines and elucidates the field. These efforts sustain the genre and the community that engages with it and should therefore be supported….
(4) ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER. “Aldous Huxley to George Orwell: My Hellish Vision of the Future is Better Than Yours (1949)” at Open Culture.
In 1949, George Orwell received a curious letter from his former high school French teacher.
Orwell had just published his groundbreaking book Nineteen Eighty-Four, which received glowing reviews from just about every corner of the English-speaking world. His French teacher, as it happens, was none other than Aldous Huxley who taught at Eton for a spell before writing Brave New World (1931), the other great 20th century dystopian novel.
Huxley starts off the letter praising the book, describing it as “profoundly important.” He continues, “The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.”
Then Huxley switches gears and criticizes the book, writing, “Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.”…
(5) PRIDE Q&A’S. The Horror Writers Association blog continues their “Point of Pride” theme in these interviews with Crystal Romero and Damian Serbu.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Yes, inclusion or lack of it, is what encouraged me to begin writing. I’ve always wanted to see more people who were like me. So when I began to write original work, I made a conscious effort to include characters of all orientations, but especially lesbians. Not only do I make an effort to include LGBTQ characters in my work, but I also include people of color. In an upcoming short story, I’m including a female bi-racial lesbian and Filipino gay male character. In the story that will follow this one, I’ll be introducing a transgender female character.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I love the creative expression of horror writing. I find horror liberating in a way other genres don’t allow. With horror, there are no rules about what can or cannot happen! The notion of generating a unique monster, plague, demon, or source of evil fascinates me. I wonder what caused the horror to exist. And I ponder how people can over come it. I also think horror writing prompts a writer to get into the raw emotion of being human and in community. Fear is such a base human emotion and at the center of so much of what we think and do. Horror digs into that feeling to reveal the soul of a person.
(6) MIXING HIS INKS. Eddie Robson explains that he loves noir and paranoid Phil Dickian sf so much he decided to combine them! “On Nightmare Noir, Science Fiction, and the Lure of the Gothic” at CrimeReads.
…Meanwhile in SF we can look to the work of Philip K Dick, so often marked by ambiguity and uncertainty, calling into question the nature of reality. Technology’s increasing ability to create artificial things not only returns us to the territory of Frankenstein, it also brings back the essential Gothic quality of the uncanny. This became a familiar mode of SF in the wake of works like Neuromancer and Blade Runner—both of which, incidentally, also draw heavily on crime tropes. (Perhaps the most obvious, and successful, combination of all three is The X Files, which itself draws on key Gothic crime texts like The Silence of the Lambs and Twin Peaks.)…
(7) SQUARING THE CIRCLE. In the Washington Post, Dave Eggers discusses how the Rapid City, South Dakota school system had removed his sf novel The Circle and four other books, including Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home from the high school curriculum and were threatening to destroy the books. He talks about how he worked with an independent bookstore in that city to make the books available and to have the school system do something with the books rather than pulp them. “South Dakota schools banned Dave Eggers’s novel. He investigated why.”
… When the book ban made national news, I talked with Amanda Uhle, my colleague at the publishing company McSweeney’s, about making the banned books available to Rapid City high school seniors.We called Mitzi’s Books, an independent bookseller in Rapid City, and we made an arrangement whereby we would buy books for any seniors who had been deprived access to them. So far more than 400 copies of the five banned books have been provided free to these students….
(8) FROM BABIES TO THE BEATLES. Kay Dee tells what it was like to witness the first worldwide live TV linkup at Galactic Journey. “[June 28, 1967] Around the World in Two Seconds (Our World Global Satellite Broadcast)”
I love how our world is drawing closer every day to some of the amazing futures that science fiction has spread before us. I’ve written before about the importance of satellite communications in connecting this divided planet. Just two days ago, 24 countries around the globe were linked together in the first world-spanning live satellite broadcast, titled – appropriately enough – Our World….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2015 – [By Cat Eldridge.] In the usual manner that such things happen, the Humans series debuted here two weeks after it first aired seven years ago on BBC. It was based on the Swedish SF series Real Humans which involved the creation of synths. (Yes, Picard would later use that term.) Channel 4 and Kudos in the United Kingdom, and AMC in the United States were the companies that underwrote it.
It was created by Sam Vincent, largely a voice actor, and Jonathan Brackley who had nothing to his name previous to this. I suspect a ghost writing staff was definitely involved but I cannot prove it. It was produced by Chris Fry who has executive produced a lot of Spooks so it had an experienced hand there.
It had a huge cast including Carrie-Anne Moss and William Hurt. Seriously it did.
It had three seasons of eight episodes each. It did not get a proper conclusion as it was simply cancelled. Ahhh welll.
Too bad, as the British critics really liked it. Mind you the ratings kept slip sliding away.
The Guardian said, “Humans itself won’t compete with Westworld on wild ambition or imagination, and certainly not on budget. But I like it better; it’s more pressingly relevant. And more human.”
And the London Evening Standard said that it provides “a smart and stylish exploration of the joys and perils of putting your very existence into the hands of artificial intelligence… If episode one delivers on its promise, then the journey into the unknown will be a profoundly interesting one.”
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a brainy eighty-five percent rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 28, 1926 — Mel Brooks, 96. Young Frankenstein (1974) (Hugo and Nebula winner) and Spaceballs (1987) would get him listed even without The 2000 Year Old Man, Get Smart and others. Here is an appreciation of Mel on YouTube. (Alan Baumler)
- Born June 28, 1946 — Robert Lynn Asprin. I first encountered him as one of the co-editors along with Lynn Abbey of the most stellar Thieves’ World Series for which he wrote the superb “The Price of Doing Business” for the first volume. I’m also very fond of The Cold Cash War novel. His Griffen McCandles (Dragons) series is quite excellent. I’m please to say that he’s well stocked on both at the usual suspects. (Died 2008.)
- Born June 28, 1947 — Mark Helprin, 75. Author of three works of significance to the genre, Winter’s Tale, A City in Winter which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella and The Veil of Snows. The latter two are tastefully illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. I know Winter’s Tale was turned into a film but color me very disinterested in seeing it as I love the novel.
- Born June 28, 1951 — Lalla Ward, 71. She is known for her role as the second actress to play Romana (or Romanadvoratrelundar in full) on Doctor Who during the time of the Fourth Doctor. She has reprised the character in Dimensions in Time, the webcast version of Shada, and in several Doctor Who Big Finish productions. In addition, she played Ophelia to Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet in the BBC television production. And she was Helga in an early horror film called Vampire Circus.
- Born June 28, 1954 — Deborah Grabien, 68. She makes the Birthday list for her most excellent Haunted Ballads series in which a folk musician and his lover tackle the matter of actual haunted spaces. It’s coming out in trade paper and ebook editions soon. It leads off with The Weaver and the Factory Maid. You can read the first chapter here. Oh, and she makes truly great dark chocolate fudge. And she sent me miniature palm tree seeds which are growing here now.
- Born June 28, 1954 — Alice Krige, 68. I think her first genre role was in the full dual of Eva Galli and Alma Mobley in Ghost Story. From there, she plays Mary Shelley (née Godwin) in Haunted Summer before going onto being Mary Brady in Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers. Now it’s in Star Trek: First Contact in which she first plays the Borg Queen, a role she’ll repeat in the finale of Star Trek: Voyager, “Endgame”. She’s had a number of other genre roles but I will only note that she was Eir in Thor: The Dark World.
- Born June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day, 43. She was Vi in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a rather fascinating Dr. Holly Marten in Eureka, and had a recurring role as Charles Bradbury on Supernatural. She also appears as Kinga Forrester in Mystery Science Theater 3000.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Baldo might be considered a biography instead of a punchline by the average Filer!
(12) AHMED’S NEW PROJECT. “Saladin Ahmed, Shaka King & Travon Free Team On Webcomic ‘Drac: Son of Dante’” – Deadline has the details.
Saladin Ahmed (Miles Morales: Spider-Man) has partnered with filmmakers Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah) and Travon Free (Two Distant Strangers) to create Drac: Son of Dante—a new, 15-part webcomic series for Tapas Media and Endeavor Content, which is now free to read exclusively via the former company’s website and mobile app. The series’ first two episodes have already launched, with more to come weekly on Fridays.
Drac is said to introduce a new and contemporary mythology around the origins of the iconic goth villain Dracula that will resonate with multicultural and youth audiences alike. The narrative follows Dante, an eerie, flute-playing immortal who finds himself drawn to the human condition against the natural order and better judgment of his species. Dante follows this obsession no matter how much trouble it gets him into — but a conflict for the ages erupts when his monstrous son Drac chooses a human bride….
(13) THE WITCHING HOUR. Hocus Pocus 2 comes to Disney+ on September 30.
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy reunite for the highly anticipated Disney+ Original Movie “Hocus Pocus 2.” The live-action, long awaited sequel to the perennial Halloween classic, which brings back the delightfully wicked Sanderson sisters for more comedic mayhem, will debut on Disney+ on September 30. It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve.
(14) TRADING OLD TROUBLES FOR NEW. Fantasy author and podcaster Richard H. Stephens continues his work within the Soul Forge Universe with Dragon Sect: Highcliff Guardians Series Book Two.
The Dragon Witch Wraith has returned.
With the Grim Duke in his place, and a tentative pact with the wizard’s guild, the Queen of the Elves’ only real concern is for her rebellious daughter. Or so she is led to believe.
Buoyed by the news of unrest in the land’s largest city of Urdanya, Duke Orlythe’s new wizard attempts to convince him that a path to the coveted Willow Throne lies within reach of someone bold enough to seize the opportunity.
The return of the Dragon Witch Wraith prompts the ailing high wizard to find a way to thwart his arch nemesis before everything South March has fought for is lost.
Oblivious to the dangers of the world, Princess Ouderling sets out on a quest to locate an ancient dragon, in a desperate attempt to save her mother from an inevitable fate.
Should she fail, the Grim Duke will ascend the throne.
At age 17 author Richard H. Stephens left high school and for the next twenty-two years worked as a shipper at a local bakery. At the age of 36, he went back to high school and graduated with honors. He became a member of the local Police Service, and worked for 12 years in a Canadian provincial court system. In early 2017, he left the Police Service to write full-time. Learn more about Richard H. Stephens at his website.
(15) WHAT IS YOUR QUEST? Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy enthusiastically recommends “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”.
How can a film as disarmingly simple as this inspire deep feelings about loss, connection, and the meaning of family? I’m not sure I have the answer; all I know is that I was fighting back tears at the end of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. My daughter Jessie got to see the movie at the Telluride Film Festival last year and has been a proud proselytizer ever since.
I wouldn’t want to burden this charming film with descriptors like “existential” but it’s not misapplied here. At a time when so many of us are feeling disoriented—or disconnected—a movie like this is especially welcome….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the Screen Junkies say that Disney, having brought back Han Solo as a “broke, divorced dad,” and Luke Skywalker as a “gross recluse,” they brought back Obi-Wan Kenobi as a “sad fishmonger whose new mission is to stare at a ten-year-old boy all day.” While they liked Vivian Blair’s work as a young Princess Leia, the series becomes “another round of ‘grumpy man brings a cute, sassy kid to safety’: just like The Mandalorian, Terminator 2, and Aliens.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]