(1) IAFA 45 GUESTS. The 45th International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts will meet March 13-16, 2024 at the Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside in Florida. Guests of Honor are Mary Turzillo and C. E. Murphy, and Guest Scholars are Woppa Diallo and Mame Bougouma Diene. The theme is “Whimsy”.
Whimsy, as a genre of fantastic and speculative fiction, celebrates the playfulness, imagination, and the sheer joy of storytelling. It embraces the fantastical, the absurd, and the unconventional, creating worlds where the ordinary collides with the extraordinary. Whimsical narratives often blur the boundaries between reality and fantasy, challenging conventional storytelling norms and inviting readers into a realm of limitless possibilities. This call for papers invites scholars and writers to explore the various facets of whimsy within the genre of fantastic and speculative fiction.
(2) FANAC.ORG’S UPCOMING ZOOM EVENTS. All interest fans are invited to attend the next Fan History Project New Zoom History Series. The coming year’s programs will again cover a wide range of fannish areas from Boston to Australia, from women you should know but probably don’t, to how Amateur Press Associations have been a backbone of fandom and they’ll talk with some of the best fan artists ever. The next session is:
Boston in the 60s, with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson
September 23, 2023 at 4PM EDT (New York), 1PM Pacific (PDT), 9PM London (BST) and 6AM Sept 24 in Melbourne
Boston in the 60s was a generative hotbed of fannish activities, with long lasting consequences. The first modern Boskone was held in 1965 by the Boston Science Fiction Society, as part of its bidding strategy for Boston in ’67. NESFA began in 1967, and the first Boston Worldcon was held in 1971. MIT provided a ready source of new fans, and they made themselves heard in fanzines, indexes, clubs and conventions (and invented the micro-filk). What was Boston fandom like in the 60s? How was it influenced by MIT? Who were the driving forces and BNFs? What were the impacts of the failed 67 bid? What made Boston unique?
Please write to Edie Stern, [email protected], FANAC Webmaster to sign-up for the “Boston in the 60s” program.
Schedule for Future sessions
- September 23, 2023 – 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM London – Boston in the 60s, with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson
- October 15, 2023 – Evolution of Art(ists) – Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk and Dan Steffan
- December 9, 2023 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT – APAs Everywhere – Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thompson and Tom Whitmore
- February 17, 2024 – 7PM EST, 11 AM Feb 18 Melbourne AEDT – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss
- March 16, 2024 – 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, 7PM London (GMT) – The Women Fen Don’t See – Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith
To be included on Fanac.org’s Fannish Viewers List and be notified of all their programs, write to [email protected] with ZOOM in subject line.
Eighteen past Zoom History Sessions have covered many aspects of science fiction fan history. All are available on their YouTube Channel here along with nearly 150 other programs.
(3) SMALL WONDERS. Issue 3 of Small Wonders, the new magazine for science fiction and fantasy flash fiction and poetry, is now available on virtual newsstands here. Co-editors Cislyn Smith and Stephen Granade bring a mix of flash fiction and poetry from authors and poets who are familiar to SFF readers as well as those publishing their first-ever piece there.
The Issue 3 Table of Contents and release dates on the Small Wonders website:
- Cover art: “Magic Turtle”, by Patricia Bingham
- “Festival” (flash fiction), by Christine Hanolsy (4 Sep)
- “Seducing the Supervillain” (poem), by H. V. Patterson (6 Sep)
- “So You Want to Eat an Omnalik Starfish” (flash fiction), by Brian Hugenbruch (8 Sep)
- “Once In As Many Lifetimes” (flash fiction), by Luc Diamant (11 Sep)
- “Shears” (poem), by Devan Barlow (13 Sep)
- “A Gardener Teaches His Son to Enrich the Soil and Plan for the Future” (flash fiction), by Jennifer Hudak (15 Sep)
- “How My Sister Talked Me Into Necromancy During Quarantine” (flash fiction), by Rachael K. Jones (18 Sep)
- “Let Us Dream” (poem), by Myna Chang (20 Sep)
- “To Persist, However Changed” (flash fiction), by Aimee Ogden (22 Sep)
(4) STARFIELD. NPR takes listeners “Inside the making of Bethesda’s Starfield — one of the biggest stories ever”. (The game site is here.)
It’s a Wednesday night, and I’ve found my way to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Its surface is harsh and uninviting. If I were to remove my spacesuit, I’d die. But inside an airlocked space station, a small colony of human settlers call this place home.
Bill, a cheerful tour guide, greets me at the kitschy museum, full of artifacts from Earth. He explains that in 2130, Titan was the first place humans colonized after they left the blue planet. Down a flight of stairs, there’s an industrial-looking set of rooms filled with rusty shipping containers. This, we soon learn, is where some of Titan’s inhabitants live.
“Space is extremely limited,” Bill remarks. “So you’ll notice some overflow here.”
A woman nearby sees this area differently, suggesting things might be a bit more complicated than Bill has let on.
“The crates are what we call the living quarters of the poor people,” she says. “Like me.”
Welcome to Starfield, a new video game decades in the making. The studio behind it says it has 3 million words of dialogue and includes more than 1,000 environments players can explore across multiple galaxies.
It’s no exaggeration to say this might be one of the biggest stories ever told — in any medium. It also has real life consequences for the developers who are banking on the game’s success being as grand as their vision.
… Design director Emil Pagliarulo, who oversaw much of the game’s lore and quest design, understands that with a video game like Starfield, fun comes first.
“We’re making a video game,” he says. “We’re not making Anna Karenina.”
So Pagliarulo and the team made it their mission to create an “escapist fantasy” where everything fun that could conceivably happen in space is possible: smuggling cargo; getting in your spaceship and defending the Federation; being a space pirate….
(5) TURTLEDOVE FAMILY UPDATE. Harry Turtledove explains his new appearance while telling readers the medical problems his wife, Laura Frankos, is dealing with. Thread starts here.
(6) BEYOND THESE PRISON WALLS. [Item by Steven French.] It’s perhaps not such a surprise but fantasy novels can help inmates cope with prison life: “How I turned prisoners’ misery into reading pleasure: the brilliant story of Bang Up Books” in the Guardian.
…Dan Barwell spent nine months in … HMP Wandsworth for drug offences, and his cell was a regular stop for the book trolley run by the prison chaplain Liz. “I read 164 books in prison, which is more than I had in my whole life before that. I got really into fantasy novels, the Wheel of Time series were over 1,000 pages each, which ate up a lot of hours,” he told me. “When I was reading I was no longer inside.”
I recently visited the open prison where our books are sorted and shipped, and spoke to some of the men working on the scheme. They understandably get first dibs on new titles as a perk of the job, and thus have hotly contested positions. One of our recruits showed me a glossy hardback of a computer game bible that he’d recently obtained, and what excited him most was that it was a brand-new copy, with all the smell, texture and feel of pages that were hot off the press. So much in prison is old, worn and tired, so there is a real joy to holding something that has never been opened before….
(7) APPEAL TO A HIGHER COURT. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] In 1931, 14-year-old Forrest J. Ackerman wrote a letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan and the John Carter of Mars series, informing him of an argument he had with his teacher regarding Edgar’s books.
(8) MICHAEL D. TOMAN OBITUARY. By Alan Brennert [reprinted with permission.] My friend Michael D. Toman—science fiction writer, reference librarian, and the kindest, most generous man I have ever known—passed away sometime last week in his sleep, of natural causes, only a month shy of his 74th birthday. His body was discovered by his longtime friend William F Wu on September 2.
I met Michael at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop in 1973; it was a definitive moment in his life, as it was for many of us. He had a voracious, eclectic appetite to read and to learn: he could discuss Proust and Dostoyevsky as easily as he could the nuances of Toho Godzilla movies (he wrote a wonderful unpublished poem called “Seven Ways of Looking at Godzilla”) and, of course, sf and fantasy, which he loved. We bonded instantly and became close friends and confidants for the next fifty years.
He was a fine writer, especially adept at literary pastiche, and his stories appeared in Science Fiction Emphasis #1 edited by David Gerrold, Cold Shocks edited by Tim Sullivan, Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Fantasy Tales, Fantasy Macabre, and the French anthology Univers 13. His story “Quarto” was purchased by Harlan Ellison for The Last Dangerous Visions, and in the 2000s Harlan gave him permission to submit part of it to a writing competition judged by John Updike. Updike awarded Michael’s story first prize and Michael was thrilled to receive it in person from an author whose work he had long admired. The story has been dropped from the forthcoming TLDV, but I hope to find a publisher for it; it’s a hell of a good story.
But what is largely unknown about Michael is the degree of support he championed other writers, usually behind the scenes. Michael brought Harlan Ellison’s story “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore” to the editors of The Best American Short Stories. It was Ellison’s first appearance in this distinguished series, and it would likely not have happened but for Michael.
When I was working on the 1980s Twilight Zone, Michael recommended two stories to me—Bill Wu’s “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium” and Greg Bear’s “Dead Run”—that we promptly adapted into fine episodes. He championed my own work, especially my novel Moloka’i, emailing hundreds of “suggestions to purchase” to libraries across the country, helping to sell out the small hardcover print run. He bought classified ads in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction to promote the work of our mutual friend Mel Gilden and also championed the work of his friend Ron Kurchee. As a librarian he bought titles by Michael Bishop, Theodore Sturgeon, R.A. Lafferty, and many more, hoping to bring them new readers. He loved books and loved sharing them with others.
Michael is survived by his sister Christine, and by scores of friends who treasured his sense of humor and his kindness. Goodbye, Michael. Paulette and I will always love you, and always miss you. You made this world a better place.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 5, 1914 — Stuart Freeborn. If you’ve seen Yoda, and of course you have, this is the man who designed it, partly based on his own face. Besides being the makeup supervisor and creature design on the original Star Wars trilogy, he did makeup on The Omen, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and all four of the Christopher Reeve-fronted Superman films. (Died 2013.)
- Born September 5, 1936 — Rhae and Alyce Andrece. They played twin androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode I’d ever there was one. (And really their only significant role.) Both appeared as policewomen in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They appeared together in the same seven shows. (They died 2009 and 2005.)
- Born September 5, 1939 — Donna Anderson, 84. She was Mary Holmes in On The Beach, based on Neville Shute’s novel. She also appeared in, and I kid you not, Sinderella and the Golden Bra and Werewolves on Wheels. The first is a Sixties er, the second is a Seventies exploitation film. She last shows up in a genre role series in The Incredible Hulk.
- Born September 5, 1939 — George Lazenby, 84. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His turn as Bond was the shortest among the actors in the film franchise and he is the only Bond actor not to appear beyond a single film. (He was also the youngest actor cast as Bond, at age 29, and the only born outside of the British Isles.) Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was also a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. He voiced the Royal Flush King in a recurring role in the Batman Beyond series.
- Born September 5, 1940 — Raquel Welch. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film, and her second was One Million Years B.C. (well, it wasn’t exactly a documentary) where she starred in a leather bikini, both released in 1966. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Muppet Show, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy. (Died 2023.)
- Born September 5, 1946 — Freddie Mercury. Now you know who he was and you’re saying that you don’t remember any genre roles by him. Well there weren’t alas. Oh, Queen had one magnificent role in the 1980 Flash Gordon film starring Sam J. Jones, a film that has a seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. But I digress as only cats can do. (Prrrr.) Queen provided the musical score featuring orchestral sections by Howard Blake. Most of Blake’s score was not used. Freddie also composed the music for the first Highlander film. And Freddie was a very serious SJW. He cared for at least ten cats throughout his life, including Delilah, Dorothy, Goliath, Jerry, Lily, Miko, Oscar, Romeo, Tiffany and Tom. He was adamantly against the inbreeding of cats and all of them except for Lily and Tiffany, both given to him as gifts, were adopted from the Blue Cross. (Died 1991.)
- Born September 5, 1959 — Carolyne Larrington, 64. Norse history and culture academic who’s the author of The Land of the Green Man: A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles and Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones. She also wrote “Norse gods make a comeback thanks to Neil Gaiman – here’s why their appeal endures” for The Conversation.
(10) MISSION PROBABLY POSSIBLE. Cass Morris continues the detailed account of her adventures at Disney’s Star Wars-themed Starship Halcyon at Scribendi: “Day One on the Halcyon, Part 2”.
… 4:55pm: Lt Croy slid up into my DMs! I tried to play it as coy as possible (such as the pre-set dialogue options will allow). I actually gave a scoundrel answer to one of his questions, because I didn’t want to pledge loyalty to him or give away my affiliation with the Resistance.
5:30pm: Captain Keevan followed up with a message about making a deal with Gaya to capture and split some coaxium on its way to the First Order. At this point I realized I was going to have a fine line to dance, since I very much wanted to help the Captain and Raithe and Gaya.
5:40ish: Completed a task for Lenka, overwriting some systems on the ship to help hide information from Croy. We needed to cover up some tweaks to the personnel files, because as it turns out, mechanic/engineer Sammie wasn’t actually crew with the Chandrila Star Line! He was a new Resistance recruit that Lenka brought on-board….
(11) REBEL APPREHENDED. “Mark Hamill’s First Star Wars Meeting With George Lucas Ended In The Back Of A Cop Car” and Slashfilm has the story.
…Can you imagine? Plus, the movie wasn’t out yet, so it’s not like he could just say, “But do you know who I am? I’m Luke Skywalker!” Not that Mark Hamill is a guy who would do that, but still. It obviously worked out, but that’s quite a way to start….
Funny they should frame it that way because a year before the film came out Mark Hamill was at the 1976 Worldcon, hanging around the Star Wars exhibit, where he told LA’s Bill Warren, “I’m the star of a major motion picture only nobody knows it!” I’ve never forgotten that.
(12) LAST WORD. “’Healthy or downright weird?’: how I helped publish my husband Christopher Fowler’s posthumous book” by Pete Chapman at the Guardian. “My author spouse never let me read anything he wrote before it was finished. But after his death from cancer, I found myself choosing funeral flowers at the same time as covers for his memoir, Word Monkey.”
It is strange to be married to an author. At least, it was to me. I inhabited a corporate world, whereas my husband Chris – professionally known as Christopher Fowler – wrote more than 50 novels, from thrillers and crime fiction to fantasy and horror. I was impressed when we started dating and I found out he wrote the immortal line for my favourite film, Alien: “In space no one can hear you scream.” It was not something with which he particularly liked to be associated and he did not trumpet it. He wanted people to remember what he considered to be his real work: his books.
The cancer diagnosis came as a shock. It also came the week before lockdown. It was a very strange period, and one I’m not going to talk about – Chris does that very beautifully in his book Word Monkey. I could never do a better job of it than him. What I can do is talk about what happened afterwards….
(13) I REALLY DON’T KNOW CLOUDS AT ALL. “Neptune’s Clouds Have Vanished, and Scientists Think They Know Why” says the New York Times.
Each planet of the solar system has its own look. Earth has aquamarine oceans. Jupiter has panchromatic tempests. Saturn has glimmering rings. And Neptune has ghostly clouds — at least, it used to. For the first time in three decades, the electric-blue orb is almost completely cloud-free, and astronomers are spooked.
Neptune’s cloud cover has been known to ebb and flow. But since October 2019, only one patch of wispy white has been present, drifting around the planet’s south pole.
“It was the first time anybody had ever seen this,” said Imke de Pater, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley. “There’s just nothing there. What’s going on?”
To crack the case of the vanishing clouds, scientists spooled through 30 years of near-infrared images of Neptune made with ground-based observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope. In a study published in June in the journal Icarus, Dr. de Pater and her colleagues named the prime suspect in this cloud cleansing: the sun….
(14) EXSQUEEZE ME. [Item by Steven French.] Well, who doesn’t enjoy a burp after a good meal …?! “Up to half black holes that rip apart stars and devour them ‘burp back up’ stellar remains years later” says Live Science.
… Cendes and the team don’t know what’s causing black holes to “switch on” after many years, but whatever it is definitely does not come from inside the black holes.
Black holes are marked by an event horizon, the point at which gravity is so strong that not even light can escape.”Black holes are very extreme gravitational environments even before you pass that event horizon, and that’s what’s really driving this,” Cendes said. “We don’t fully understand if the material observed in radio waves is coming from the accretion disk or if it is being stored somewhere closer to the black hole. Black holes are definitely messy eaters, though.”…
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget hatches on Netflix on December 15.
For Ginger and the flock, all is at stake when the dangers of the human world come home to roost; they’ll stop at nothing even if it means putting their own hard-won freedom at risk to save chicken-kind. This time, they’re breaking in!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Stephen Granade, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, Steven French, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]