Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #66

Interrogatives Without Answers: Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke     

By Chris M. Barkley:

“Falsehood will fly, as it were, on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps, though sure, are slow and solemn, and she has neither viguor nor activity enough to pursue and overtake her enemy…” — Thomas Francklin, 1787

The past two weekends have seen two separate upheavals in our sf community.

Both incidents involve well known and well liked members of our family and both incidents have left them shaken, dispirited and their reputations seemingly in tatters.

So, before I start, I would like to clarify my relationships with the focus of this introspective discourse: Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke.

Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

I have never met either Ms. Lackey or Ms. Burke. Nor have I exchanged emails, texts, phone calls or even pleasantries in passing at a convention.    

As a reader, I am totally unfamiliar with either of their works, although as a professional bookseller for many years, I have witnessed many sales of Ms. Lackey’s works and the testimonials of many readers and fans who have praised and loved her works. I am totally unfamiliar with Ms. Burke’s work.

But let’s remember this important fact; Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke are real people. 

They are as human as you and I. 

They have feelings, wants and desires just like you and me.

They are not abstract concepts. And yet, what I have seen and read over the past thirteen days have alarmed and angered me to no end. Because I guarantee what has been said and written about them would never be repeated in person to their faces. Because the things being said against them are so terrible that the perpetrators must view them at non-entities, lest they be consumed by their own shame. 

Our mutual communities, in fandom and on the professional writer’s side, have had a big problem that has been simmering for the past few years and now boiled over in a way that we cannot ignore any longer.

From the earliest days of sf fandom, there have been people who have merited being either sanctioned or banned from community activities. In those days, people who were disruptive or misbehaved were either exposed through fanzine reports, informal gossip or “whisper campaigns”.

But, as technology advanced, so did the activities of bullies and malcontents spread and became prolific as well. 

To our credit, fandom and the professional communities have become more diverse and welcoming to those who were previously either marginalized or openly discriminated against in the past.

To openly confront and combat abusive behavior this past decade, groups and conventions have implemented a standard “Code of Conduct” for activities, which specifies what is acceptable behavior and outlines the penalties for violations.

This innovative move was universally welcomed, especially in the wake of the Sad/Angry/Rabid Hugo Awards debacle of 2013-2016.

The typical Code of Conduct used by conventions today are not legally enforceable pieces of law. They do however, allow any public or private group to take action against an attending individual (or a group) that violates these rules.

On May 22, the 2022 Nebula Awards Conference and sf fandom were rocked when Mercedes Lackey was removed from any remaining sessions of the programming she had been scheduled for by administrators. 

A day earlier, Ms. Lackey, while discussing the works of African American fantasy and sf author Samuel R. Delany during a panel titled “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy”, uttered the word “colored” as a racial description of Mr. Delany.

SWFA addressed the posted the following statement that same day:

We learned yesterday that while participating in the “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” panel, Mercedes Lackey used a racial slur. First, we apologize to our attendees and the other panelists who were subjected to that slur. We’ve disabled access to the panel to avoid any additional harm being caused.

Second, we are immediately removing Mercedes Lackey from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for, in accordance with SFWA’s Moderation Policy. The use of a racial slur violates the instruction to “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive statements even as a joke.” That applies to everyone in a SFWA space, at all levels of their career.

Third, we will be discussing with the other panelists for “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” how they would prefer we proceed when they are able and comfortable in doing so. We will be offering to edit out the offensive portion of the panel or hold the panel again at a later date, inviting back the other three panelists and moderator to again take part. We will respect their wishes on how to handle this issue while also sharing the invaluable expertise they offered during the discussion.

SWFA’s Moderation Policies, linked here clearly state that the “Moderator” is the person in charge of any panel and additionally:

Moderator decisions are final and non-negotiable. If you feel someone is being censured unfairly and have new information to add, please navigate to the Nebula Conference Online website, and on the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen, please select the “Request Help” button. (https://events.sfwa.org/moderation-policies/)

You will note that there is no explicit promise of a formal investigation in case something happens. Everything seems all cut and dried as far as the Nebula Conference administrators were concerned. 

Except that it wasn’t, not by a long shot.

Ms. Lackey’s friends and colleagues came to her defense. Her detractors said that she broke the rules and actually got off easy because she was promptly and quickly sanctioned and did not have to forfeit her Grand Master designation.

Author Jen Brown, who was on the panel in question and was among the first to report her dismayed and deeply offended reaction to Ms. Lackey’s utterance on her Twitter feed, has been viciously and repeatedly harassed and attacked online by both Lackey supporters and trolls. 

Other parties involved have been heard from; Samuel Delany (who is a friend of Ms. Lackey) has stated on his Facebook page that he felt no ill will and that she meant no deliberate offense, 

Prominent Black sf author Steven Barnes felt that her use of the term was a mild offense at best and said that SFWA owed Ms. Lackey an apology.

Writer and critic K. Tempest Bradford, who opined that while Mr. Delany is entitled to his point of view, but even in this day and age, the casual usage, whether it was intentional or not, is totally unacceptable in any context. 

Mercedes Lackey issued a formal apology on May 24th, in which she said:

On a panel at the 2022 Nebulas, I had the chance to celebrate authors who wrote positive gay characters long before me.

Chip Delany is obviously a major player in that game. Because there are two Samuel Delanys–there’s one from Texas–I wanted to make sure people got hold of the right one. So, in my excitement, I got caught in a mental/verbal stumble between “black” and “person of color,” and as best I can remember, what came stuttering out was something like “spcolored.”

I’m not an amazing speaker. I stammer, I freeze up, & I get things wrong. I am sorry that I bungled a modern term while bringing attention to an amazing black creator.

When all of this was going down, I could have easily unsheathed my verbal saber and heedlessly joined in like everyone else about who was right, who was wrong and provided some additional commentary about the situation.

But I did not. I was hoping, in vain as it turns out, that SFWA would conduct a thorough investigation and release the results to all of the parties involved and to the public at large, to tamp down on the hate and disinformation spreading about this incident.

And then, last weekend at Balticon 56, it happened again.

On Sunday, May 29th, Stephanie Burke, a well known local author and a regular Balticon panelist for many years, was accused of making racist and transphobic remarks and was summarily relieved of her remaining panels.

The panel in question, “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them”, was moderated by Sarah Avery and featured Ms. Burke, Shahid Mahmud, Craig Laurance Gidney, Brandon Ketchum and Christine Sandquist.

Ms. Avery said in a May 31 File 770 comment that also appeared on her Twitter account that she was stuck in traffic that morning and was ten minutes late for the panel. She wrote:

I’ve been playing back my recollections of the panel from the moment I did arrive, trying to match things Stephanie said with the adjectives in her account of the accusations against her. As a white cishet woman, I know I am not optimally attuned to what is hurtful to all the kinds of people whose lives are unlike mine. (The reason I volunteered to moderate a panel on why writers need diversity readers is that I knew I specifically was a writer who needed them.) Until I can find out more about the contents of the complaint, I’m not able to make any kind of declaration on either the complainant’s assertions or Stephanie’s about the diversity readers panel.

In other words, the origin of the complaint against Ms. Burke was not witnessed by the moderator of the panel. We can only guess who the complainant is and what the offense was.

Ms. Burke was, in a statement by the Con Chair, Yakira Heistand  said the following:

An incident was reported to us regarding Ms. Burke. The plan was to quietly ask her to step down from her panels for the weekend while we had a chance to investigate. However, an overzealous volunteer decided to remove her from an ongoing panel in a way that caused her embarrassment. This is inexcusable and we deeply apologize.

Ms. Burke alleges that when she was notified of her suspension, she was verbally abused by Programming Division head, Lisa Adler-Golden. When she asked for the source of the allegations against her this is the answer she states that she received:

I asked to hear the recordings and wanted proof to defend myself against hearsay. The program director (possibly referencing Lisa Alden-Golden here) explained that she would have to listen to the recorded panel and explained that sometimes people took statements out of context and that she would check. She went to another room to listen to the recording because she needed a device bigger than a cell phone and later came back to tell me that the panel she listened to was wonderful but the panel on Friday was not recorded. The decision to strip me of the remaining panels and book reading was to stand and that I was being convicted on hearsay alone.

So wait, what? The panel where the alleged offense took place on Friday? Or was it actually the Saturday panel? Exactly what the hell is going on here?  It was also subsequently reported this week that the email from Balticon 56 that was supposed to have been sent to Ms. Burke relieving her remaining panels was actually never sent in the first place.  

On the evening of June 2nd, Lisa Adler-Golden issued the following statement on the Balticon Facebook Page:

So, those are the facts as best as I can ascertain as of June 3rd, 2022.

There are those among you who may think that these are just two isolated incidents that are totally unrelated to one another and that on the whole, the Codes of Conduct being employed by conventions and meetings are doing just fine. 

But, I beg to differ. 

Because while I have my own opinions about what happened in these two cases, it is totally irrelevant in light of a disturbing trend that I have noticed recently.

I’m here to ask a few questions.  Pertinent questions. Important questions.

It’s a call for introspection, for all of us.

Exactly why did the Nebula Conference managers and the “rogue” Balticon staffer go for the nuclear option and unceremoniously dismiss Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke without the benefit of a formal hearing? 

My question to all of the SWFA panelists involved is this; while I know some (or all) of you may/had been shocked and hurt by Ms. Lackey’s comment, do you believe what she said was a casual slip of the tongue or was it deliberate and malicious? After reading her apology, do you have it in your heart to forgive what she said?

And to the person (or persons) who reported Stephanie Burke to Balticon’s Program Ops; what exactly did she allegedly say? Could you have misinterpreted or misunderstood what she said? 

For those of you piling on endlessly to condemn and relentlessly excoriate Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke; is all of this vitriol and denunciations directed at them actually necessary at this point? 

When is enough, actually enough? Today? Tomorrow? Next Week?

In acting in such an arbitrary manner, did the SFWA managers and the Balticon staff members violate their own Codes of Conduct? 

What responsibilities do they have to be more transparent in how they handle these cases? Shouldn’t these established guidelines be under review and possibly changed in light of what’s happened?

All of which leads me to ask this: Are we all going to be subjected to such a rigid and unyielding standard every single time we make a ghastly faux pas when we appear in public or publish something? 

Can you imagine what would happen to you if any of you were in a similar position? Would your partner, friends and acquaintances dare to stand with you? 

Or, would they denounce you?   

Can you, the reader, imagine what Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke are feeling right now? Accused, ridiculed and rejected without an opportunity to defend themselves? 

In the case of an actual verifiable code of conduct offense, does the constant replay of events continue to mentally harm the person who had the courage to make the initial complaint?

Are people thinking about making a CoC complaint given pause when they witness the feeding frenzies like these occurring in the wake of these allegations? 

Have there been other abuses of the Code of Conduct at other conventions that we are unaware of?

How would any of you react if you were in their position? 

As the days have passed in this ongoing nightmare, I have seen comments on Facebook and Twitter that have absolutely mortified me.

I have seen comments by people who suggest that in most cases they are more likely to believe an accuser than the person who has been accused. Or that if someone is actually accused of something, it’s probably true. 

In our system of justice, hearsay, which for legal purposes is defined as: “information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor”, is NOT evidence of wrongdoing. 

And as maligned and flawed as the legal system is, at its very core is one of the best innovations ever invented; the presumption of innocence BEFORE being proven guilty. Because everyone is entitled to a defense, no matter who they are or how they are perceived by the public. It is a fine standard and it should be ours as well.

I propose that we, as a community, fall back on this particular tradition in our reformation of our Codes of Conduct. In this day and age of social media, innuendo, gossip and falsehoods can lead to instant outrage, anger and a trial by internet in which none of us can possibly explain ourselves adequately enough to satisfy anyone.

It is quite evident, at least to me, that in some cases, our Codes of Conduct have been misapplied, zealously pursued or weaponized.

It has been done either by well meaning people who may have overreacted to what may or may not have happened, or by others, maliciously using it to destroy a person’s reputation and self worth. 

Establishing a Code of Conduct is one of the more innovative things we have done in the last decade. In a best case scenario, a Code of Conduct violation led to the expulsion of a well known (and multiple Hugo Award nominated) fan, David Truesdale, for his well documented abusive behavior at MidAmericon II in 2016.

But it has backfired spectacularly at Worldcon 76 (which was held San Jose, CA in 2018), who rightfully barred Jon Del Arroz from the convention for his questionable statements and actions before the convention. But the convention made a mistake when they published their reasons for banning and Del Arroz took offense and sued the convention for defamation. He and the convention eventually settled in June 2021 with a public apology and a $4000 payment.  

I have one anecdote to offer. I was at Balticon 56 last weekend, mainly in support of the Orlando and Buffalo NASFiC bids (in 2023 and 2024, respectively). On my way out of the convention Monday morning, I was stopped by a longtime friend (whom I am not identifying out of respect for their privacy) who told me the following story:

My friend was working and was overheard saying something under their breath while attending to their duties at Discon III, which was held in Washington D.C. this past November. Sometime later, they were approached by an incident response team staff member, who told them that the office had a complaint lodged against them about a racist remark being directed towards an Asian Pacific person and that they were considering asking them to leave the convention.

The friend explained that they recalled making the remark but it had not been directed at the API person, it was made in frustration at a machine that they were working on which malfunctioned and was not working properly.

Eventually, this person, who is both well known, well liked and very hospitable in the fannish community for decades, persuaded the staffer that no offense was meant towards anyone and the matter was dropped. 

But, as the events of the past two weeks have vividly shown us, this could have gone quite differently had the incident been officially reported and publicized widely.

It seems quite evident to me that we urgently need to establish new standards for a Code of Conduct. I recommend that they include the following measures:

  1. When a convention or meeting announces a possible violation of the Code of Conduct, they must stress that the charge is an allegation, not a certain matter of fact. The accused party must be given the presumption of innocence until the conclusion of the investigation and the adjudication of the results by an impartial group, empaneled by the convention to handle these matters.
  2. Either an electronic or physical copy of the Code of Conduct must be checked off by all staff and attendees, which will show and acknowledge they have read and understand CoC (with the option that the document they sign be officially and legally notarized by the convention or event for their legal protection).
  3. NO ONE should be charged under a Code of Conduct violation on a single report of hearsay from an individual, unless there is a recording of the incident or multiple witnesses or verifiable circumstantial evidence of the event.
  4. If it is determined a Code of Conduct violation may have occurred, an investigation should be launched immediately. The investigation must include statements from the accuser, the accused and the impartial person (or persons) conducting the inquiry.
  5. Any Code of Conduct violation must generate a written report, which will be made public after an official investigation is completed.
  6. Investigations should not name the accuser in a public report without consent, but their name should be kept on file and confidential in the official investigation file in case of any legal actions beyond its publication
  7. Any convention that finds the accused party innocent, guilty or finds an inconclusive result of the accusation, will publicize the report as widely and vociferously as possible to demonstrate the transparency of the investigative process.
  8. EVERY convention and conference should strive to record every panel or meeting being held at the event. This should be done not only to check the veracity of any complaints and has the benefit of preserving a record for the sake of prosperity. (Since recording everything would be quite expensive, I would recommend that panelists or designated volunteers use their own cell phones or personal recording equipment to record these sessions).

 These are the actions I strongly recommend we take.

These are the questions we should all be asking ourselves. 

Because Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke are real people. And mark my words, what happened to them will happen again.

And the most important question we should be asking ourselves is how can we prevent this from happening over and over again? 

Because the next victim may be me. 

Or you.

Pixel Scroll 5/29/22 As Space-Time For Springers Goes By

(1) HYBRID READING SERIES FROM SEATTLE. Clarion West is bringing back their Summer of Science Fiction & Fantasy reading series in 2022. The readings will be held both in-person in Seattle and online. They are free and open to the public. Click on the author’s name below to learn more and to register for the event. All events will be held on Tuesday nights. 

June 21 Susan Palwick
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Supported by the Leslie Howle Instructorship
Susan Palwick (CW ‘85) has published several novels and short story collections, including The Necessary Beggar, Shelter, and Mending the Moon. She is a recipient of the Crawford Award, Alex Award, and Silver Pen Award, and has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award, the Mythopoeic Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award.

June 28 P. Djèlí Clark
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Phenderson Djèlí Clark is the award-winning and Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy-nominated author of the novel A Master of Djinn and the novellas Ring Shout, The Black God’s Drums, and The Haunting of Tram Car 015, as well as numerous short stories.

July 5 Fonda Lee
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Supported by the Sally Klages Memorial Instructorship
Fonda Lee is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the epic urban fantasy Green Bone Saga as well as the acclaimed young adult science fiction novels Zeroboxer, Exo, and Cross Fire. She is a three-time winner of the Aurora Award, and a multiple finalist for the Nebula and Locus Awards.
Register now.

July 12 Tobias Buckell
7:30PM Town Hall Seattle
1119 8th Ave
Supported by the Debbie J. Rose Memorial Instructorship
Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author and World Fantasy Award winner. His novels and almost one hundred stories have been translated into twenty different languages. His work has been nominated for awards like the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and the Astounding Award for Best New Science Fiction Author.

July 19 Bill Campbell
7:30PM Town Hall Seattle
1119 8th Ave
Bill Campbell is the author of Sunshine Patriots; My Booty Novel; Pop Culture: Politics, Puns, and “Poohbutt” from a Liberal Stay-at-Home Dad; Koontown Killing Kaper; and Baaaad Muthaz, and he has edited several groundbreaking anthologies. He is the winner of a Glyph Pioneer/Lifetime Achievement Award.

July 26 Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Supported by the Susan C. Petrey Memorial Fellowship

Annalee Newitz is the author of the book Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age, and the novels The Future of Another Timeline, and Autonomous, which won the Lambda Literary Award. They are also the co-host of the Hugo Award-winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct.


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of Victories Greater Than Death, as well as Never Say You Can’t Survive, and Even Greater Mistakes. Her other books include The City in the Middle of the Night and All the Birds in the Sky. With Annalee Newitz, she co-hosts the podcast Our Opinions Are Correct.
Register now.

(2) FOX ON SFWA. Just learned this made Fox News two days ago: “Sci-Fi Fantasy writers convention boots author for ‘racial slur’; target says he was not offended”. Their coverage begins:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) booted award-winning author Mercedes Lackey from a conference over her use of a “racial slur,” even though the Black author to whom she had been referring later said he did not consider the term offensive.

Lackey had allegedly referred to Samuel R. “Chip” Delany, 80, a celebrated author and literary critic (winner of multiple SFWA Nebula awards), as “colored” while praising his work in the “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” panel at the SFWA Nebula Conference on Saturday, May 21…. 

Fox’s article includes Lackey’s apology, and the screencap of Delany’s Facebook comments.

(3) TALKING ABOUT EVERYTHING. Abigail Nussbaum says it’s a challenge to review something really good, such as the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once. Clearly, it’s a challenge she is equal to:

…Here is a non-exhaustive list of things I could talk about when talking about Everything Everywhere All at Once. I could discuss the fact that this is the first worthwhile showcase that Hollywood has given Yeoh since she burst onto Western audiences’ consciousness twenty-five years ago in Tomorrow Never Dies, and how it shows off not only her skills as an action heroine, but as a dramatic actress and a comedienne. I could mention that matching Yeoh beat for beat is Quan, the former child star who played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, who has spent the intervening decades behind the camera as a stunt choreographer, but who returns to the screen now in what should be a star-making turn. I could point out that the film functions as a culmination of two of the early 2020s’ favorite tropes—multiverses and generational trauma—while managing to put its own unique spin on them. I could discuss its myriad references, to everything from Pixar movies to art-house Asian cinema….

And there’s quite a bit more Nussbaum could say – and does – after that excerpt.

(4) ABOUT BARKLEY. Camestros Felapton starts his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with Chris Barkley in “Chris M. Barkley: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Chris Barkley has been an active voice in fandom for over 40 years. He’s been a volunteer at numerous Worldcons, including being the head of media relations at several and more broadly, he’s been one of those vital people in fandom who does the work to make a group of people with common interests a community….

(5) BAD BATCH. Disney + continues the weekend’s parade of introductory trailers with the Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 Official Trailer.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] So tonight we have an interesting short film. And no, I had no idea it existed until now.  2081 which is based off of the Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” story premiered on this date thirteen years ago at the Seattle International Film Festival. 

The story was first published the October 1961 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and was in his Welcome to the Monkey House collection seven years later.

The cast is James Cosmo, Julie Hagerty, Patricia Clarkson, and Armie Hammer. 

The story is one where a future polity is attempting by any means possible to ensure that everyone is absolutely equal. That’s a bit of a SPOLER I know. 

So what did the critics think of it. Well I didn’t find a lot of them who said anything but I really like what Mike Massie at the Gone with The Twins site said about this half hour film cost that just a hundred thousand to produce: “’What are you thinking about?’ ‘I don’t know.’ The basic plot, adapted by Chandler Tuttle (who also directed and edited) from Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s short story, is sensational, serving as a warning and as pitch-black satire. The notion of equality taken to hyperbolic extremes is certainly worthy of cinematic translation, as are the various manifestations of crushing governmental control. True freedom requires disparity. Here, however, there are some inconsistencies (such as determining how exactly to make a ballerina, encumbered as she might be with weights chained around her body, perfectly equivalent to a musician). But the use of slow-motion, classical music (featuring the Czeck Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and a cello solo), limited dialogue, and highly contrasting juxtapositions give this brief yet sharply filmed project an admirable level of artistry. The premise is terribly bleak, but Bergeron’s plight manages to be momentarily hopeful, funny, and provocative as well.” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really liked it giving it a seventy-three percent rating.

You can watch it here.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 29, 1906 T. H. White. Best known obviously for the wonderful The Once and Future King which I read a long, long time ago but still remember quite fondly. Back in the Thirties, he wrote Earth Stopped and its sequel Gone to Ground, sf novels. Gone to Ground contains several fantasy stories which were later reprinted in The Maharajah and Other Stories. ISFDB also lists Mistress Masham’s ReposeThe Elephant and the Kangaroo and The Master as the other novels by him, plus the aforementioned story collection. I know that someone here has read them so do tell me about them please. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 29, 1909 Neil R. Jones. It is thought that “The Death’s Head Meteor”, his first story, which was published in Air Wonder Stories in 1930, could be the first use of “astronaut” in fiction. He also created the use of a future history before either Robert A. Heinlein or Cordwainer Smith did so. They’re collected in The Planet of the Double SunThe Sunless World and a number of other overlapping collections. He’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1988.)
  • Born May 29, 1939 Alice K Turner. Editor and critic who starting in 1980 served  for twenty years as fiction editor of Playboy. The Playboy Book of Science Fiction which is not available from the usual suspects but which is available at quite reasonable prices in hardcover was edited by her. Snake’s Hands: The Fiction of John Crowley is an expansion of her earlier Snake’s Hands: A Chapbook About the Fiction of John Crowley.  It is available from sellers like ABE Books. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 29, 1942 Kevin Conway. His first genre role was as Roland Weary in Slaughterhouse-Five with later roles in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace and Black Knight, neither of which I suspect many of you have seen. You will likely have seen him in The Lathe of Heaven as Dr. William Haber. He played Khalistan on “The Rightful Heir” episode of Next Generation, and had one-offs on Dark AngelLife on Mars and Person of Interest. (Died 2020.)
  • Born May 29, 1947 Julie Cobb, 75. Her first credited role as Yeoman Leslie was in an episode of Trek, “By Any Other Name”. She was the only female Redshirt to be killed in that series. She had roles in The Fantastic JourneyFantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, a recurring role in Salem’s LotBrave New WorldTucker’s Witch, Starman and The New Adventures of Superman.
  • Born May 29, 1952 Louise Cooper. She wrote more than a dozen works of SFF and was best known for her quite excellent Time Master trilogy. Most of her writing was in the YA market including the Sea Horses quartet and the Mirror, Mirror trilogy. She wrote a lot of short fiction, most of it collected in Creatures at ChristmasThe Spiral GardenShort and Scary! and Short and Spooky!. (Died 2009.)
  • Born May 29, 1987 Pearl Mackie, 35. Companion to the Twelfth Doctor, the actress was the first openly LGBTQ performer prior to the Fourteenth Doctor and the first LGBTQ companion cast in a regular role in Doctor Who. Mackie, says Moffat, was so chosen as being non-white was not enough. Her other notable genre role was playing Mika Chantry in the audiowork of The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James.
  • Born May 29, 1996 R. F. Kuang, 26. She’s an award-winning Chinese-American fantasy writer. The Poppy War series, so- called grimdark fantasy, consists of The Poppy War which won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, and The Dragon Republic and The Burning God. She’s won the 2020 Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side introduces us to the ace of aces.
  • Tom Gauld shared his catoon about authors’ pets.

(9) A TOURIST IN TRANSYLVANIA. Slate’s Marissa Martinelli says Daily Dracula is “Why Hundreds of Thousands of People Are Reading Dracula Together Right Now”.

I keep getting these emails from a guy I’ve never met, who says he got stuck while traveling abroad for work. At first, he seemed to be having a nice time, but lately he’s been describing increasingly weird and disturbing circumstances that make me feel like I should help him out. For once, though, I can rest easy that it’s not a spammer trying to scam me out of some money—it’s Jonathan Harker, protagonist of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Dracula Daily is a Substack that emails snippets of the classic horror novel, which takes place over a six-month period, in real time, in the form of the book’s journal entries and letters. The venture is the brainchild of Matt Kirkland, whose previous projects include etching inane tweets into cuneiform tablets and exposing the robotic skeletons lurking beneath your stuffed animals. I spoke to Kirkland about our pal Jonathan, how weird it is that Dracula crawls down walls like a lizard, and the part of the book he’s most excited for readers to experience in email form….

Do you have a sense of what is causing it to take off on Tumblr in particular?

No, I don’t. So much of the posts are about how people are just finding it so funny. We have this dramatic irony of like, “Oh, Jonathan Harker doesn’t know that he’s in Dracula, so he’s not scared enough by going to Dracula’s castle.”

(10) WHEN PEOPLE TAKE THEIR WORK HOME…FOREVER. “U.S. Book Show: The Pandemic and Publishing: How Has Covid Changed the Industry for Good?” asks Publishers Weekly.

…Odom Media Management founder and literary agent Monica Odom was already working from home, expecting a baby, when the pandemic began. “I sold the most books of any year in 2020—and I’m still waiting for them all to publish,” she said. Despite her productivity, she fought “to stay grounded amid the immense collective trauma we were all having, recognizing we were all humans doing this work.” As an aside, she commented, “I did miss the editor lunches.”

That sounds like a throwaway line, yet social distancing highlighted publishing’s reliance on workplace culture. Bogaards suggested the pandemic put “a cap on industry fun,” lowering morale among people who thrive on hard work and literary perks. “The social fabric seems to be fraying at the edges,” Bogaards lamented.

“We’re not having as much fun together, and that does take a toll,” agreed Julia Sommerfeld, publisher of Amazon Publishing and founder of Amazon Original Stories. As remote work developed, she noticed the rise of “a strong online chat culture. The team is always pinging each other and trying to capture that casual conversation. We’re missing the kind of osmosis that happens when we’re all together.”…

(11) STICK A CORK IN IT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Novelty wines are often not a great idea. For the most part, this Star Trek selection seems to follow that trend, at least according to Ars Technica. “We tasted the expanded collection of Star Trek wines and found them… wanting”.

Picard has now wrapped its second season, with a third currently in production, and the folks behind Star Trek Wines have expanded their collection from two varieties to six. So a second informal wine tasting was clearly in order. And who better to help us in this noble endeavor than Q himself—aka actor John de Lancie—and The Orville writer Andre Bormanis, who launched his career as a science advisor on TNG? They joined a fresh group of tasters (eight people in all) on a cool late spring evening in Los Angeles, where the nibbles were plentiful and the conversation flowed freely. (Wine assessments were anonymous, in keeping with the gathering’s super-casual vibe. And the wine was purchased out of pocket, not gifted for promotional purposes.)  

… Alas, the four new varieties in the Star Trek wine collection fall far, far short of their predecessors. We’ll start with the merely bland and inoffensive: an Andorian Blue Premium Chardonnay and the United Federation of Planets Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.

The Andorian Blue is, indeed, blue in hue, no doubt thanks to the addition of a food dye. (“What is this, a substrate for a COVID test?” one taster quipped.) It’s a gimmick that imparts a very slight aftertaste that is all the more noticeable because the wine otherwise barely has any flavor. That’s unusual for a chardonnay. I’m not especially fond of white wines, but good chardonnays are generally light to medium body, crisp, and a bit citrus-y. The Andorian Blue is indeed light, but it’s missing any distinctive flavor notes—other than that unfortunate hint of blue dye….

(12) FIRE UP THE BOILER. Game Rant feels qualified to recommend “5 Great Underrated Steampunk Sci-Fi Movies”. But the second one they name is the Will Smith Wild Wild West, so should we trust them?

… A usual definition of the steampunk genre states that it presents inventions, technologies, or historical events that happened differently in the real world or didn’t exist in the first place. For every well-known steampunk movie, there are many underrated ones that flew under the radar and that every fan of the genre should watch….

Their list begins:

5. Invention For Destruction (1958)

Though many steampunk movies are in the English language, some best, most underrated pieces come from non-English-speaking countries. This Czechoslovakian 1958 movie was directed by Karel Zeman and based on Jules Verne’s work. It is a classic, but is mostly unknown among the general audiences and has barely over 2,000 ratings on IMDb.

The movie shows that when somebody creates an invention that has the power to destroy the world, it’s more than likely that someone evil will try to use it for their own nefarious purposes. The film is visually beautiful — shot on a camera from 1928, it offers the charm of even older movies. What’s more, it will keep the viewers guessing throughout, especially if they’re not familiar with the original source material.

(13) ON THE MARCH. Northwestern University declares this tiny robotic crab is smallest-ever remote-controlled walking robot.

Northwestern University engineers have developed the smallest-ever remote-controlled walking robot — and it comes in the form of a tiny, adorable peekytoe crab. Just a half-millimeter wide, the tiny crabs can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. The researchers also developed millimeter-sized robots resembling inchworms, crickets and beetles. Although the research is exploratory at this point, the researchers believe their technology might bring the field closer to realizing micro-sized robots that can perform practical tasks inside tightly confined spaces.

(14) SCARY VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Ghost Dogs” on Vimeo, Joe Capps asks, “If dogs were ghosts, what sort of ghosts would they be?” And “Why would ghost dogs be terrified of Roombas?”

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Mercedes Lackey Publishes Apology

Mercedes Lackey today posted “I wish to Apologize” on her Tumblr account. Her statement came in the aftermath of being removed from the Nebula Conference on May 22.

Lackey wrote:

I wish to Apologize

On a panel at the 2022 Nebulas, I had the chance to celebrate authors who wrote positive gay characters long before me.

Chip Delany is obviously a major player in that game. Because there are two Samuel Delanys–there’s one from Texas–I wanted to make sure people got hold of the right one. So, in my excitement, I got caught in a mental/verbal stumble between “black” and “person of color,” and as best I can remember, what came stuttering out was something like “spcolored.”

I’m not an amazing speaker. I stammer, I freeze up, & I get things wrong. I am sorry that I bungled a modern term while bringing attention to an amazing black creator.

Too often, I am called a pioneer, but I’m not–I’m just who some readers heard of first. I wanted to make sure Delany got all the proper credit that he is more than due, and maybe new readers would be inspired to read his work.

A note from Chip Delany:

Pixel Scroll 5/23/22 Cosplaying And Straying In Pixel Scroll Land, To The Sounds Of The Pixel Scroll Band

(1) DELANY’S STATEMENT. David Lubkin’s Facebook page has become one of the centers for discussing the Mercedes Lackey controversy because Samuel Delany – whose work Lackey reportedly was praising when she used the slur – reacted to the issue in a comment there. Lubkin’s post begins:

Science fiction writer Mercedes Lackey was recognized on Saturday at the Nebula Awards Conference as the newest SFWA Grand Master.

She was removed today from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for in accordance with the SFWA Moderation Policy for making a “racial slur” as a panelist yesterday.

The rule is “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive comments even as a joke.” and was deemed to apply in all SFWA space, and being given SFWA’s highest honor that day didn’t exempt her.

I didn’t listen to the panel. But according to the moderator and a fellow participant, what happened: While praising the work of SFWA Grand Master and my old friend Chip (Samuel Delany), she referred to him as “colored.” My guess is she’d chosen the term for being commonplace in Chip’s experience growing up. (He turned 80 last month. She’s 71 herself.)…

Delany wrote in a comment there:

(2) ALTERNATIVE VIEW. K. Tempest Bradford wrote a balanced explanation of why Delany’s exoneration of Lackey won’t be the end of the issue for others: “On Samuel Delany, the use of the term ‘colored’, intergenerational conversations about language, and why SFWA was still right to remove Mercedes Lackey” at Tempest in a Teapot.

On Samuel Delany, the use of the term “colored”, intergenerational conversations about language, and why SFWA was still right to remove Mercedes Lackey from programming.

Several people have tweeted the screenshot below at me due to my thoughts on this situation.

What strikes me about this is that Delany is coming at this issue from a him-centric viewpoint (which is fine). Thing is, this isn’t just a Delany-centered problem. If Delany wants us all to refer to him as colored, fine. If he just doesn’t care if that word is used to label/describe him even if he personally prefers black, also fine.

But this is also about how hearing a Black man referred to as colored by an older white woman affects other Black people and people of color broadly. It’s not necessarily a respectful term to use in public on a panel at one of the community’s most respected events.

Even if Delany is cool with one of his friends calling him Colored, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have a different reaction or find it upsetting. This is similar to how even worse slurs might be used in-group without issue but are frowned upon when used out-group.

And I’m sure Chip knows and understand this. My guess is he’s upset by the perceived slight against his longtime friend by SFWA and that’s what’s at the forefront of that comment, though he is free to correct me.

Either way, it’s one thing to use an outdated term that’s generally considered a slur within a friend group and another to use the term on a panel at a con. That’s what Mercedes Lackey should have been aware of and that’s what most people are reacting to…

This is roughly the first half of Bradford’s comment, which continues at the link.

(3) RETALIATION. Jen Brown, whose Twitter thread explained what happened on a Nebula Conference panel that resulted in Mercedes Lackey being removed from the event, reported last night on Twitter that she is being harassed.

(4) PUSHBACK. Some of the social media lightning generated by SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference found its way to ground in responses to what was intended as a close-out tweet for the Nebula Conference. Critics protested that the term “comfort elves” resonated with the WWII term “comfort women”.

The tweet was removed and this one took its place.

(5) KAY Q&A. The Reddit subreddit /r/fantasy brought Guy Gavriel Kay in to answer questions and talk about his new release All The Seas“Hello, all. I am novelist Guy Gavriel Kay – Ask Me Anything”.

What has been your favorite book to read over the last 24 months?

I *loved* John Banville’s *The Untouchable* … that’s partly because I’m fascinated by the Cambridge spies. But it is so elegantly written (Banville’s known for that, and he’s Irish, which is unfair) and also, this one actually inhabits the space I do, as to a quarter turn away from ‘using’ real lives and names. This is a fictionalized treatment, with characters *almost* the real ones. I’m always happy when I see other writers exploring that.

(6) PRAIRIE HORROR COMPANION. Westworld Season 4 premieres Sunday, June 26 on @HBO and @HBOMax.

(7) COLIN CANTWELL (1932-2022). Colin Cantwell, a concept designer of Star Wars vehicles, died May 21 at the age of 90. The Hollywood Reporter profile notes:

…His love of architecture and fascination with space provided the perfect combination for Cantwell to make serious moves in Hollywood, working on several projects, his initial credited work being ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’

Colin Cantwell, the concept artist who designed iconic Star Wars spacecraft, including the X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter and Death Star…

Cantwell’s film credits include special photographic effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), technical dialogue for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and computer graphics design consultant for WarGames (1983). Yet, he was most renowned for his work with George Lucas on Star Wars, designing and constructing the prototypes for the X-wing, TIE fighter, Star Destroyer and the Death Star, among more.

… It was Cantwell’s work on WarGames — programming the Hewlett Packard monitors to depict the dramatic bomb scenes on NORAD screens as the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) computer nearly launched nuclear weapons — that led him to programming software that took the actual Hewlett Packard from a few colors to 5,000 colors.

In addition to his film work, Cantwell’s wrote two science fiction novels, CoreFires 1 and CoreFires 2.

And according to the Guardian:

…He said “a dart being thrown at a target in a British pub” gave him the concept for the X-wing, and explained how he accidentally designed an iconic feature of the Death Star that became a crucial plot point: the meridian trench, used by the Alliance and Luke Skywalker as part of their attack on the mighty battle station in A New Hope.

“I didn’t originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench, but when I was working with the mould, I noticed the two halves had shrunk at the point where they met across the middle,” he told Reddit. “It would have taken a week of work just to fill and sand and re-fill this depression. So, to save me the labor, I went to George and suggested a trench. He liked the idea so much that it became one of the most iconic moments in the film!”

His IMDb listing also has his video game work.

(8) KENNETH WELSH (1942-2022). Actor Kenneth Welsh, best known for his work in Twin Peaks, died May 5. The New York Times noted these genre roles:

…Mr. Welsh appeared in 10 episodes of “Twin Peaks” in its second season, playing Earle, the vengeful, maniacal adversary and former F.B.I. partner of the protagonist, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)…

But in his more than 240 movie and television roles, he ranged widely across genres, including … science fiction (“Star Trek: Discovery” in 2020).

His notable film notable roles included the vice president of the United States in Roland Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), about the onset of an ecological catastrophe…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1980 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago today, the most perfect Stephen King film imaginable came out in the form of The Shining. Directed by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay by him and Diane Johnson, it was also produced by him. 

It had an absolutely wonderful primary cast of Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall. Danny Torrance, Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd. Jack Nicholson in particular was amazing in his role as was Shelley Duvall in hers. And the setting of the Overlook Hotel is a character in and itself — moody, dangerous and quite alive. 

Kubrick’s script is significantly different from the novel which is not unusual to filmmaking. However Stephen King was extremely unhappy with the film due to Kubrick’s changes from his novel. 

If you saw it upon the first release, you saw a print that was a half hour longer than later prints. And Kurbrick released multiple prints, all different from each other. Some prints made minor changes, some made major changes. 

It cost twenty million to make and made around fifty million. It did not make money for the studio. 

So how was it received by the critics? Well it got a mixed reception. 

Gene Siskel in his Chicago Tribune review stated he thought it was a “crashing disappointment. The biggest surprise is that it contains virtually no thrills. Given Kubrick’s world-class reputation, one’s immediate reaction is that maybe he was after something other than thrills in the film. If so, it’s hard to figure out what.” 

However Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian was much more positive: “The Shining doesn’t look like a genre film. It looks like a Kubrick film, bearing the same relationship to horror as Eyes Wide Shut does to eroticism. The elevator-of-blood sequence, which seems to ‘happen’ only in premonitions, visions and dreams, was a logistical marvel. Deeply scary and strange.”

I’ll let Roger Ebert have the last word: “Stanley Kubrick’s cold and frightening ‘The Shining’ challenges us to decide: Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust?” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a excellent ninety three rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 23, 1921 James Blish. What was his best work? Cities in FlightA Case of Conscience? I’d argue it was one of those works. Certainly it wasn’t the Trek novels though he certainly pumped them out with nearly ninety all told if I’m reading ISFDB right. And I hadn’t realized that he wrote one series, the Pantropy series, under a pen name (Arthur Merlyn). (Died 1975.)
  • Born May 23, 1933 Joan Collins, 89. Sister Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever”,  the sort-of-Ellison-scripted Trek episode which won a Hugo at BayCon. She has an extensive number of other genre appearances including Land of the PharaohsMission: ImpossibleThe Man From U.N.C.L.E.Tales from the CryptSpace: 1999The Fantastic JourneyFuture CopFantasy Island and Faerie Tale Theatre.
  • Born May 23, 1933 Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.)
  • Born May 23, 1935 Susan Cooper, 87. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Her Scottish castle set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and is just plain fun. I’d also recommend her Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent.  The Grey King, part of The Dark is Risk series, won a Newbery, and she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention.
  • Born May 23, 1941 Zalman King. OK he’s best known for The Red Shoe Diaries which are decidedly not genre and indeed are soft core erotica but even that isn’t quite true as some of the episodes were definitely genre such as “The Forbidden Zone” set in a future where things are very different, and “Banished” which deals with an Angel now in mortal form all on Earth. I’m betting there’s more fantasy elements but I need to go through sixty episodes to confirm that. Denise Crosby appeared in two episodes of the Red Shoe Dairies playing the different characters, Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “The Psychiatrist”  and Officer Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “You Have the Right to Remain Silent”. Zalman himself played Nick in “The Lost Ones” episode on The Land of The Giants and earlier was The Man with The Beard in the Munsters episode of “Far Out Munsters”. His final acting genre gig was on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Gregory Haymish in “The Cap and Gown Affair”. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 23, 1979 Brian James Freeman, 43. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November StormsThis Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (superbly done) which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here.
  • Born May 23, 1986 Ryan Coogler, 36. Co-writer with Joe Robert Cole of Black Panther which he also directed. He will directed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to be released this year. Producer, Space Jam 2, producer of the announced Wankanda series on Disney+. Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, the year that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Hugo. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft finds photos from the wrong kind of rover.

(12) A FRESH LOOK AT S&S. Oliver Brackenbury talks about feminism and sword and sorcery with pulp scholar Nicole Emmelhainz on his So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Sword & Sorcery & Feminism, with Nicole Emmelhainz”.

This covers things like Weird Tales Magazine, Robert E. Howard and Conan, Jirel as “Alice in Wonderland with a big sword”, Howard and Lovecraft’s correspondence with each other as well as fellow Weird Tales writers like Moore, S&S writing as “an opportunity to expose gender as fundamentally performative in nature”, growth and change in Conan, the flexibility of sword and sorcery, what Nicole sees as the necessary qualities for an S&S story to be feminist, defying gender roles, the body as a vessel for victory, S&S as a very body-centric genre, good old barbarism vs civilization, queer possibilities in S&S, an intriguing ambiguity in the ending of Black God’s Kiss, what might be a “trans utopic space” in sword and sorcery?, the potential for expanding the space of sword & sorcery along lines of gender & sexuality, cozy fantasy, and more!

(13) YOU HEARD IT HERE LAST. The BBC reports that a 1698 book predicting alien life in the solar system has been discovered in the UK: “Rare book predicting alien life discovered in Cotswolds”.

…The book, lengthily entitled The Celestial World Discover’d: Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets, Huygens questions why God would have created other planets “just to be looked” upon from Earth….

(14) GIVE CREDIT TO GENRE. The Cultural Frontline episode “Breaking the boundaries of fiction” is available at BBC Sounds.

How novelists working across popular genres like crime, horror and fantasy are overcoming literary snobbery to get their work the credit it deserves and broaden the definition of what makes truly great writing. 

South Korean horror writer Bora Chung, shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize, tells us what it means to see her work, a type of fiction often dismissed in her country as commercial and not ‘pure literature,’ nominated for the prestigious award. 

Crime novelists from two very different countries, Deon Meyer in South Africa and Awais Khan in Pakistan, discuss with Tina Daheley why theirs is a misunderstood genre, one with the capacity to offer a social critique, and even change society for the better, all in the process of telling a great story. 

Critically acclaimed New Zealand fantasy novelist Elizabeth Knox shares the magic of imagining fantastical new worlds, and how writing and reading fantasy can help us come to terms with traumatic experiences. 

(15) IT IS A VERY GOOD YEAR. Glasgow In 2024 have commissioned Pixel Spirits to craft our own bespoke gin called “GIn2024”. (Only available for delivery in the UK, they say: “Sadly, for now, different hurdles make it very difficult to ship internationally. We’ll make sure to keep all Gin lovers updated though, in case this changes.”)

Using the finest Science Fiction & Fantasy inspired botanicals, GIn2024 is rich and zesty, perfectly balanced with a subtle astringency and refined sweetness; exploring a taste journey out-of-this-world!

We have two sizes of bottles available, 70cl and 20cl and both have labels designed by our bid artists Sara Felix and Iain Clark.

Pricing and shipping: VOL 70cl for £37; VOL 20cl for £15; Postage to a UK address: £4.45 per bottle; ABV: 43%

The two bottles have different artwork on their labels. On the 70cl bottle, ‘The Suffragette Tree, Glasgow’ by the BSFA Award-winning artist, Iain Clark. And on the 20cl bottle, an armadillo design by the Hugo Award-winning artist, Sara Felix. Sara is taking inspiration from the Armadillo auditorium at the SEC in Glasgow, where the Glasgow bid aims to host the Hugo awards as part of Worldcon in 2024.

(16) MOON SHOT. NASA Astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads Goodnight Moon from the International Space Station, and Mark Vande Hei answers questions.

Watch as astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads out loud from the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown while floating in microgravity aboard the International Space Station. Also, Astronaut Mark Vande Hei joins Thomas to answer questions sent to them. This video was featured as a part of the Crayola and Harper Kids “Read Along, Draw Along” event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the book’s publication.

(17) NEW ALASDAIR BECKETT-KING VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Orson Welles has risen from the grave to denounce Sonic the Hedghog!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Mercedes Lackey Removed from the Nebula Conference

SFWA removed Mercedes Lackey from this weekend’s Nebula Conference less than 24 hours after celebrating her selection as a Grand Master during the Nebula Awards ceremony. The reason given is that she “used a racial slur” while on a panel.  

SFWA explained the action in a “Statement on Removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference”.

Dear Nebula Conference Participants and SFWA Members,

We learned yesterday that while participating in the “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” panel, Mercedes Lackey used a racial slur. First, we apologize to our attendees and the other panelists who were subjected to that slur. We’ve disabled access to the panel to avoid any additional harm being caused.

Second, we are immediately removing Mercedes Lackey from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for, in accordance with SFWA’s Moderation Policy. The use of a racial slur violates the instruction to “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive statements even as a joke.” That applies to everyone in a SFWA space, at all levels of their career.

Third, we will be discussing with the other panelists for “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” how they would prefer we proceed when they are able and comfortable in doing so. We will be offering to edit out the offensive portion of the panel or hold the panel again at a later date, inviting back the other three panelists and moderator to again take part. We will respect their wishes on how to handle this issue while also sharing the invaluable expertise they offered during the discussion. 

Thank you to our conference attendees and panelists who reported the use of the slur. We appreciate being alerted to it right away, so we could investigate and come to this decision as swiftly as possible.

The SFWA Board of Directors

The circumstances and the specific slur are discussed by Jen Brown in a Twitter thread that starts here.

What was said is stated in the Twitter thread.

This is the second time an issue has come up since Lackey was announced as a Grand Master last fall. Previously, SFWA asked Lackey to “clarify a past statement on writing trans characters”.

SFWA Asks New Grand Master Mercedes Lackey to Clarify Past Statement on Writing Trans Characters

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Board has responded to members about an issue raised after they named Mercedes Lackey the 38th Damon Knight Grand Master earlier this month:

After we announced Mercedes Lackey as SFWA’s next Grand Master on 11/4, stances that Ms. Lackey had taken on writing trans characters resurfaced online. One was from a reader Q&A conducted in 2003, and another was from a 2017 Quora response on her feelings towards using chosen pronouns at the time. 

We recognize that these comments have caused harm to the trans community. Last year, we said, “We have a responsibility to admit our failings and to continually commit to dismantling [..] oppressive and harmful systems, both within this organization and ourselves.” 

SFWA cannot apologize on Ms. Lackey’s behalf, but we can acknowledge our contribution to this hurtful situation and stand with those in the trans and nonbinary communities. With that in mind, we asked Ms. Lackey if she would make clear her current feelings on these issues. 

Here are links to her statement, released today on her social media channels:

Mercedes Lackey on Facebook:

Before all else: trans women are women, and trans men are men. This is something I fiercely believe, and will always support.

I have made awkward statements that have caused pain or distress. My desire is, and has always been, to support the trans community and be the best ally I can. I regret that I communicated poorly and fell short of the mark.

I’m affirming here that I do, and always will, support trans rights and trans people. An individual’s pronouns are every bit as valid—and far more important—than the dictates of copy-editors in the commercial publishing industry. I wish I’d listened to you and fought for those pronouns when copy editors changed them.

I have never felt that I had the ability to write trans point-of-view characters well, and I expressed that badly in the past. Trans characters in fiction are more than just their gender, and their stories should show the richness of their whole lives in full. I am grateful for the many authors who are doing that well today. They are inspiring.

I will do everything in my power to continue to grow and learn, as I feel we all should. I have learned a lot from patient friends and fans. I apologize for hurting people.

Lackey also tweeted the statement as a thread on Twitter that starts here.

SFWA’s release ends: “The current and past presidents of SFWA named Ms. Lackey as our next Grand Master because they believe the body of her work has contributed greatly to the science fiction and fantasy genres. We invite you to reach out to us with your feedback on how we can improve the award to be more inclusive of all communities we serve.”

Pixel Scroll 11/9/21 She Walks These Files In A Long, Black Scroll

(1) THE INSIDE STORY. Slashfilm boasts an exclusive preview: “The History Of Science Fiction Traces The Genre In Comic Book Form”.

“The History of Science Fiction,” a forthcoming illustrated book written by author/historian Xavier Dollo (“Under the Shadow of the Stars”) with illustrations by Djibril Morissette-Phan (“All-New Wolverine”), aims to be a comprehensive look at the origins of the now-beloved genre, and we have a few preview pages to exclusively debut for you. Here’s a glimpse at what you’ll see in the new book when it hits stores later this month.

… Here’s the eleventh page of the book, which touches on the massive influence Arthur C. Clarke had on the genre – and subsequently, the real world.

Got to love that exchange – did you know as a young fan Arthur C. Clarke’s nickname was “Ego”?

(2) A STROKE OF (DRAGON) GENIUS. [Item by Soon Lee.] Painting dragons in one stroke? Impossible you say? Okay, how about painting the body of a dragon in one stroke?

Ippitsu Ryu or Hitofude Ryu is the Japanese technique of painting dragons in one-stroke. It’s mesmerizing to watch. And the paintings are supposed to bring good luck too. “The Traditional Japanese Art ‘Hitofude-Ryu’” at Cool Japan Videos.

(3) SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE. Omar El Akkad has won the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his non-genre novel What Strange Paradise. The win is noted here because El Akkad’s first novel was sff, American War.

He’ll receive $100,000 for the win. Four other shortlisted writers will receive $10,000, including Angélique Lalonde, whose story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings is of genre interest.

(4) SLF RECEIVES GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation has received a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. SLF’s press release explained:

IACA General Operating Support Grants are offered to established not-for-profit organizations that make a significant local, regional, or statewide impact on the quality of life in Illinois. Grants recognize arts programming of high quality that is appropriate to and reflective of the communities served and that broaden opportunities for the public to participate in the arts. The $2,500 grant will allow the SLF to revitalize and expand to meet the needs of the speculative literature field in 2022.

The main objective of the SLF is to continue to grow newly established programs while maintaining our previous resources. We launched the Portolan Project in 2020, an online educational resource for writers that offers free, accessible content for people all over the world. Its first iteration includes interviews with authors at various points in their careers, discussing the art and business of craft as well as making connections within the speculative literature community

(5) THEY BROKE IT. SFF author Nick Mamatas also has “An Appreciation of Genre-Breaking Mysteries” which he shares at CrimeReads. There’s even a Philip K. Dick novel lurking on his list.

… Crime fiction is far more capacious than people who don’t read the genre give it credit for. The field of play is so wide that it is difficult to transcend the genre, but it is possible to break it. A relative handful of exciting books are mysteries, are entirely in sync with the protocols of the genre and, and then at some point all of it falls away and the book is something else. Of course, the book doesn’t become something other than a mystery or crime novel—the third act of any book exists before the reader gets to it—it is that the writer broke the tropes of mystery, and created something that feels very familiar until a page turns and then it isn’t.  Here are just a few examples….

(6) A VIEW OF SF IN CHINA. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the November 6 Financial Times behind a paywall, Madhamita Murgia has an interview with Chen Qiufan.

Chen, who has worked in the marketing teams of Chinese search giant Baidu and Google, says the Chinese government has started promoting science fiction as a tool to popularise science and technology among youth, an idea borrowed from the former Soviet Union.

‘In recent years, China is undergoing a transition; we used to be a country with a lot of low-cost labour, old-fashioned manufacturing, but (now) the government is trying to catch up on chips and AI and material science and quantum computing,’ Chen says.  Science fiction has become a way to ‘educate the younger generation and ignite their passion’ for these fields.

(7) GRANDMASTER’S LATEST BOOK. Just named as the 2021 SFWA Grandmaster, Mercedes Lackey has a new fantasy novel out – Briarheart – “a fresh feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty about one girl destined for greatness—and the powerful sister ready to protect her by any means necessary.”

Miriam may be the daughter of Queen Alethia of Tirendell, but she’s not a princess. She’s the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King’s Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she’s ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora’s christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power.

Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam’s dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.

Available on Kindle from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

(8) DEAN STOCKWELL OBIT. Actor Dean Stockwell, whose over 200 career credits include a couple dozen sff roles, died November 7 at the age of 85 reports Variety.

He was Quantum Leap’s, Admiral ‘Al’ Calavicci, the “womanizing, larger than life character [who] was the foil for Scott Bakula’s role as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who engaged in space time experiments.” The show debuted in 1989 and ran five seasons. Stockwell’s performance earned four Primetime Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win (1990).

Dean Stockwell started as a child actor, in films including the Rudyard Kipling adaptation Kim (1950). As an adult he had a dual role in a 1961 episode of Twilight Zone, “A Quality of Mercy,” in which he “starred an American officer ordered to lead a charge against the Japanese but is then transported back in time and transformed into a Japanese officer in an analogous situation, ultimately gaining a perspective he hadn’t had before.”

He starred in the Roger Corman-produced Lovecraftian horror film The Dunwich Horror (and also appeared in the 2009 TV remake). In David Lynch’s Dune (1984) he played the treacherous Dr. Yueh. In the new Battlestar Galactica (2006-09) he was the Cylon known as Number One or John Cavil.

He was an Oscar nominee for a non-genre supporting role in the 1988 comedy Married to the Mob. Stockwell was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1992.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years ago, Dr. Goldfoot And The Girl Bombs premiered. It was considered a sequel for reasons I can’t figure out to two unrelated films, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and Two Mafiosi Against Goldginger. It was actually paid for and produced with both Italian and American backing so it also has the charming name of Le spie vengono dal semifreddo, lit (The spies who came in from the cool).  It is getting a write-up here because it starred Vincent Price in the dual roles of Dr. Goldfoot and General Willis. And he’s oh-so-genre. 

The production itself was somewhat difficult as the filming had to satisfy both the American and Italian backers, so scenes had to shot in both countries, and it was required they emphasize brunettes in the Italian version of the film and blondes in the American version. Price had but a minor role In the Italian version, but was the star in the American version. He later said that the film was “the most dreadful movie I’ve ever been in. Just about everything that could go wrong, did.” 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 9, 1924 Larry T. Shaw. A Hugo Award-winning fan, author, editor and literary agent. In the Forties and Fifties, Larry Shaw edited Nebula, Infinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. He received a Special Committee Award during the 1984 Worldcon for lifetime achievement as an editor. His award at L.A. Con II cited him as “One of the early unsung editors in the field”. (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 9, 1938 Carol Carr. Fan and writer of note. Her participation in the so-called secret APA Lilapa and articles in the InnuendoLighthouse and Trap Door fanzines is notable. She wrote a handful of genre fiction, collected in Carol Carr: The Collected Writings. Mike has an obit here (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 9, 1947 Robert David Hall, 74. Best known as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins M.D. on CSI, but he has quite as few genre credits. He voiced Dinky Little in the animated Here Come the Littles, both the film and the series, the cyborg Recruiting Sargent in Starship Troopers,  voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. He was the voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. Interesting note: in Starship Troopers he has no right arm, but in real life he lost both of his legs at age thirty-one when they had to be amputated as a result of an accident in which an 18-wheeler truck crushed his car.  
  • Born November 9, 1954 Rob Hansen, 67. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. He was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, last updated just a few years ago, are invaluable. 
  • Born November 9, 1971 Jamie Bishop. The son of Michael Bishop, he was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. He did the cover illustrations for a number of genre undertakings including Subterranean Online, Winter 2008 and Aberrant Dreams, #9 Autumn 2006. The annual “Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for an Essay Not in English” was established as a memorial by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 9, 1974 Ian Hallard, 47. He lives with his husband, the actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss, in London. He appeared as Alan-a-Dale in Twelfth Doctor story, “Robot of Sherwood”, and in Sherlock as Mr Crayhill in “The Reichenbach Fall”.  He played Richard Martin, one of the original directors of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time. Genre adjacent, he co-wrote “The Big Four” with his husband for Agatha Christie: Poirot
  • Born November 9, 1988 Tahereh Mafi, 33. Iranian-American whose Furthermore is a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither; I highly recommend it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series. 
  • Born November 9, 1989 Alix E Harrow, 32. May I note that her short story with one of the coolest titles ever, “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, won a Hugo at Dublin 2019. Well I will. And of course her latest novel, The Once and Future Witches, has a equally cool title. It won the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio knows one product this particular home owner definitely doesn’t want.

(12) HISTORY OF BEANO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Arwa Haider discusses an exhibit at Somerset House in London on The Beano, a comic book which has been published weekly in Britain since 1938.

The Beano was never pitched as explicitly political, though exceptions were made during the second world war, when strips would feature fascists being outwitted by kid characters including Pansy Potter, the Strongman’s Daughter. Pansy, introduced in issue 21, also heralded The Beano‘s strong and increasingly diverse tradition of female rebels, any of whom are now likely to be cover stars:  Minnie the Minx, created by Leo Baxendale in 1951 and currently drawn by the comic’s first regular female artist, Laura Howell, and relative newcomers such as sporty JJ, tech whizz and wheelchair user Rubi, and prank supremo Harsha Chandra.

As the exhibition highlights, The Beano has always made subversive digs at social inequalities.  The characters ‘ traditional reward of a ‘slap-up feed’ reflected the postwar scarcity of food (sweets were rationed in Britain until 1953).  Nowadays, the Bash Street Kids’ rival group is Posh Street (which includes one snorting, mop-haired character called Boris) and Dennis’s longtime adversary, Walter, is no longer a ‘softie’ but the bullish son of Beanotown’s rich mayor.  The ‘good guys’ are everyday kids rather than superheroes.

(13) GOING GREEN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] In addition to being available as a physical book to buy (or request/borrow from one’s public library), N.K.Jemisin’s 12-issue Far Sector Green Lantern series is e-available (e-vailable?), in particular, on Hoopla (includes a dozen or so pages at the end of variant covers, art sketches, etc.) [See James Bacon’s interview of N.K. Jemisin about her work on the comic, posted today.]

Hoopla is free — you just need to have a library card from a library that offers Hoopla as (one of its) digital services. (If your library doesn’t, you may be able to also get a card at one that does.)

Far Sector is also nearly-all available via DC’s streaming subscription service (1-11 are up now, so #12 hopefully Real Soon Now.)

Note, Jemisin’s Sojourner “Jo” Mullein also appears in DC’s new Green Lantern series, also including Teen Lantern Keli Quintela (first seen in Brian Bendis’ Young Justice run over the past year or so.

(14) BLAME JULIE SCHWARTZ? “DC Comics Used To Add Gorillas To Their Covers To Increase Sales”. We’re not kidding  – ScreenRant has the details.

… If there was an editor who became prolific for gimmicks, it was Julius Schwartz, and the gimmick of Strange Adventures #8 from May 1951 would prove to be one of the most successful and often used gimmicks in comic history. Strange Adventures (which was rebooted for DC’s Black Label in 2020) was originally edited by Schwartz, and the eighth issue featured a cover by Win Mortimer for the story “Evolution Plus: The Incredible Story of an Ape with a Human Brain!” which featured an ape in a cage holding a note claiming to be the victim of a “terrible scientific experiment.” This issue quickly became one of the highest selling issues of Strange Adventures to date….

(15) EARWORMS AND OTHERS. “Re-Ragging in Red: Murder Ballads and Dirty Cops” is Candas Jane Dorsey’s exploration of song lyrics at CrimeReads.

…[This] happened when a folklorist friend asked online what our favorite murder ballads were, and I realized that I knew SO MANY MURDER BALLADS REALLY SO MANY!

…But for some reason “King Brady” infested, earworm-style, for a whole week. One day when I should have been writing, I upped-fluffy-tail and dived down the Internet rabbit hole—and am still chasing phantasms down little twisty corridors.

*

I started with the lyrics. Everyone who has researched song lyrics online knows that they are full of errors. People write them down as they imperfectly heard them, then other people cut and paste, and suddenly the “canon” version of a ballad has a great big malapropism right in the middle of it, creating a cascading generation error that upsets purists and detail freaks, but also means that all over the world, people are singing the wrong lyrics to a lot of folk songs. Which is pretty hard to do when the prevailing wisdom of folklorists is that there are no wrong lyrics, there are just variations, but thanks to the magic of the Internet, it’s now possible.

But never mind that now. We’re at “Brady, Brady, Brady don’t you know you done wrong…”, which is how I learned the song, almost 60 years ago when I was a kid….

(16) RINGS MORE THAN A BELL. [Item by Rob Thornton.] I found a Black Metal band named VORGA and that name sounded very familiar, of course. So I looked at the track list and found a song named “Stars My Destination.” It’s from their album Striving Toward Oblivion which will be released in January.

(17) TWO CHAIRS TALKING. In the latest episode of their Two Chairs Talking podcast, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss a number of recent award winners and take the Hugo Time Machine zooming back to the year of 1967, the year Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress won the Best Novel Award.

(18) SOLD! In case you want to know, Screen Rant says “Captain Kirk’s Phaser Rifle Used In One Episode Sells For $615k” through Heritage Auctions.

The Phaser Rifle was used in the second pilot episode, entitled “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which effectively launched the show as fans know it. And, because the episode was the first to replace Christopher Pike with James T. Kirk, the prop accompanied Shatner as he made his Star Trek debut.

(19) DON’T WANT TO RUN INTO ONE OF THOSE. “Rolls-Royce Gets Funding To Develop Mini Nuclear Reactors”Slashdot has the story.

Rolls-Royce has been backed by a consortium of private investors and the UK government to develop small nuclear reactors to generate cleaner energy. The creation of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business was announced following a [195 million pound] cash injection from private firms and a [210 million pound] grant from the government. It is hoped the new company could create up to 40,000 jobs by 2050. However, critics say the focus should be on renewable power, not new nuclear.

(20) BUILD YOUR OWN. Probably don’t want to collide with one of these, either. Not even the LEGO Star Wars AT-AT Model — it has 6,785 pieces!

…Extensive is certainly the best way to describe this set, as this intricate replica is made up of 6,785 pieces, falling about 800 bricks short of LEGO’s similarly complex Millennium Falcon. Nevertheless, that is an exhausting amount, all of which come together to construct a painstakingly detailed display that fans will inherently admire. As expected, the four-legged tank from the films boasts authenticity in every which way, featuring rotating cannons, a pair of speeder bikes, and a strikingly large interior that’s capable of housing up to 40 other LEGO minifigures you want to take along for the ride….

Damn, for a moment I thought they were going for a “few bricks shy of a load” reference.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Hackers” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on this 1995 film which was Angelina Jolie’s first.  The film shows such antique skills as getting calls from a pay phone for free. And half the characters are so clueless about computers that when someone mentions “an uncorrupted hard drive” they’re told, “speak In English.”  But being a hacker means you rollerblade everywhere and get to scream “hack the planet!” when you’re hacking!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, David Grigg, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, abd Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Mercedes Lackey Named the 38th SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master

Mercedes Lackey has been named the 38th Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) for her contributions to the literature of science fiction and fantasy.

The SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award recognizes “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.” It is named after author Damon Knight, SFWA’s founder and the organization’s 13th Grand Master. Mercedes Lackey joins 37 writers who’ve been granted the title, including other luminaries such as Nalo Hopkinson, Peter S. Beagle, Connie Willis, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, and Joe Haldeman. 

Embracing science fiction at the early age of ten or eleven, Lackey immersed herself in the works of James H. Schmitz and Andre Norton. An interest in fan fiction strongly encouraged her writing and her first sale was to Friends of Darkover. Her first novel was Arrows of the Queen, first published in 1987. Best known for her Valdemar series, which spans thousands of years and characters, Lackey has written and published over 140 books and short stories through her 34-year professional career. 

SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy had the following to say about the organization’s newest Grand Master: “From the time I read my first Mercedes Lackey book as a young woman, her stories have illuminated my imagination and brought joy to my life. With multi-layered fantasy worlds, canny magical systems, and characters who step off the page as living, breathing people, Lackey’s books have made an enormous impact on the genre. She gave me warrior women I could believe in, magic-wielding queer heroes, and characters who suffered, then overcame their physical and emotional traumas. Lackey continues to have a lasting influence on my own work and I’m beyond thrilled to see her honored as SFWA’s newest Grand Master.”

In addition to her writing, Lackey has also contributed to the science fiction and fantasy filking community through songwriting, which earned her five Pegasus Awards. She was also part of The Stellar Guild, a project conceived by the late Mike Resnick, which paired well-known authors with lesser known creatives in an effort to boost their visibility. 

An online video gamer, craftsperson, ball-jointed doll collector, radar-enthusiast during tornado season, and raptor rehabilitationist, Lackey’s journeys into all of these hobbies have influenced her most popular works. 

The 38th Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master award will be presented to Lackey during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference and the 57th Nebula Awards, May 19–22, 2022. The conference will be SFWA’s first hybrid event, taking place in person in Los Angeles, and aboard the virtual Airship Nebula online.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 2/27/21 If Sharon Carter Became A Zombie, Would She Be Agent Rot-13?

(1) SIDEBAR. Cat Rambo has some of the most insightful comments yet offered about the harassment spawned by Jason Sanford’s report on Baen’s Bar, as well as Mercedes Lackey’s response to others’ claims made about her history with the Bar, in “Opinion: When Writers Punch – Up, Down, or Sideways” at The World Remains Mysterious.

… When a writer publicly calls someone out, they need to be aware of all of the implications, including the fact that the more popular the writer, the more devastating the results can be, not due to any intrinsic quality of the writer, but the number of fans. The more fans, the more likely it is that the group will contain people who, emboldened by the idea of pleasing a favorite writer, can — and will — go to lengths that go far beyond the norms of civil, and sometimes legal, behavior.

This played out recently with reactions to Jason Sanford’s piece on a specific forum within the Baen’s Bar discussion boards administered by Baen Publishing, which have included web posts doxxing Sanford and calling for complaints to be made to a lengthy list of people at Sanford’s placement of employment about the post he made on his free time on a platform that has nothing to do with his employment.

As I’ve said earlier, I have a great deal of respect for Baen and hope it emerges from this watershed moment in a way that suits the bigheartedness of its founder. But in the fray, a lot of writers have been egging their followers on to do shitty things in general, and what has emerged include the above specifics.

It’s not okay to point your readers at someone and basically say “make this person miserable.” It is okay to vote with one’s pocketbook. To not buy the books of people you don’t support. That is called a boycott, and it is an established tactic. (One of my consistent practices throughout the years, though, is to read a book by each one before I make that decision, so I know what I might be missing out on. So far, no regrets.) Going beyond that is, in my opinion, is the act of someone who’s gotten carried away and is no longer seeing their target as a fellow human being, and who needs to stop and think what they are doing….

(2) COMMENTING ON THE UNSTOPPABLE. Harper Campbell reviews Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction edited by Joshua Whitehead in “An Indigenous sci-fi moment” at The Ormsby Review.

…It really matters that so much space is being created by Native writers to tell Native sci-fi stories. Science fiction has seeped into the cultural subconscious of the world, providing our basic frame of reference for each successive wave of technological change. We understand that we have entered an age of technological modernity, and it isn’t enough to see the future as simply an extension of the past. Science fiction is what helps people all over the world make sense of a “normal” that is in perpetual change.

It is a serious shortcoming of science fiction, then, that it tends to gloss over colonialism and imperialism. The implicit view of most science fiction, after all, is one in which colonizers are the true vehicle of world-historical change. Science fiction is always saying — look how far we’ve come, look how much we’ve accomplished, see how unstoppable we’ve been. And what they mean is, look how unstoppable colonialism has been.

And like colonizers, the implicit perspective of science fiction tends to see the cosmos as a field of pure resource. The tendency is to insist that the earth, our beloved green and blue earth, is after all just one planet, theoretically interchangeable with any other that could support life. And why stick to just one planet? Like Cecil Rhodes, the arch-imperialist, sci-fi aspires to annex the stars.

So when an Indigenous writer starts to put down the first words of a science fiction story, they must already be grappling with nothing less than the significance of the history of the world and what it will mean for the future. They must wrestle with the cosmic dimension of colonialism from the other side, from a perspective that could never say “Look how unstoppable we’ve been.”

(3) FUTURE TENSE. Released today, the latest in a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives (and the second presented by ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, as part of its work on Learning Futures and Principled Innovation.) Leigh Alexander’s short story “The Void” at Slate begins –

Five things you can touch, whispers Rose, and I touch: duvet, her hand, my own hair, the rough plaster of the wall, and my device. It wakes up, a rectangle of soft light in our dark bedroom.

Four things you can hear, she says, and I listen for the tap-tap of water from somewhere in the kitchen, the rhythm of a neighbor’s music through the floor, the rustling of bedsheets and my pounding heart.

Then Andrea Thomer, an expert on information science, provides a response essay: “Leigh Alexander’s “The Void” and information overload”.

In grad school, I remember reading about—or at least, I think I remember reading about—a new browser plug-in designed to capture your internet click trails for later re-searching. The promo materials visualized this as a beautiful network of interconnected websites, making it possible to refind any page, article, recipe, meme etc. I am easily distracted and spend approximately 18 hours a day on the internet, so this sounded like a dream come true: Never again would I waste time retracing my digital steps to find something vaguely remembered reading but neglected to bookmark! I signed up to beta test this tool immediately. Or at least I think I did. I never heard anything about this widget again, and my attempts to remember its name have all been in vain. I’ve searched through my email, browser history, Twitter likes: nothing. I may have imagined this thing. Looking for it made me feel like a character in a Borges story: wandering the library stacks in search for the one book that will tell me what stacks I’ve already been in….

On Thursday, March 4, at noon Eastern, author Leigh Alexander and Andrea K. Thomer, information scientist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, will discuss this story in an hourlong online discussion moderated by Punya Mishra, professor and associate dean of scholarship and innovation at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. RSVP here.

(4) THE NEXT GRANTVILLE GAZETTE. On March 1, 2021, 1632 Inc. will release Issue 94, March 2021 of The Grantville Gazette at www.grantvillegazette.com.

The Gazette is a SFWA-approved venue for professional writers, and pays professional rates. The Gazette is published every other month, and has been published since 2007. It is available in several different electronic editions, including Kindle, ePub, PDF, and more. It can be downloaded directly from the Gazette website, or from our distributor, Baen.com.

This issue features works by best-selling authors Virginia DeMarce, Iver P. Cooper, and Edward M. Lerner, as well as columns by Kristine Katherine Rusch and Walt Boyes.

Edited by Walt Boyes, with Bjorn Hasseler as managing editor, and Garrett Vance as Art Director, the Gazette offers fiction and fact, both from the 1632Universe and from the UniverseAnnex, which is designed to provide a venue for general SFF.

More than 160 authors have had their first professional sale to The Grantville Gazette, through the medium of critique and workshops, both for 1632 fiction and general SF. Some of these authors have gone on to successful careers as writing professionals.

(5) LAPL FUNDRAISER. Charles Yu will be one of the Honorary Chairs for “The Stay Home and Read a Book Ball” on March 7, hosted by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

WHEN:
Anytime, and for as long as you choose to celebrate on Sunday, March 7, 2021.

WHERE:
Stay safe and read in the comfort of your home, bed, or even in the bathtub! Or mask up and go for a walk with an audiobook from the Library!

HOW:
Choose a book (or many!) and let the pages transport you! Have a ball while reading at home, and show your support for the Los Angeles Public Library by donating what you would have spent at an annual gala or a night out.

Share photos of your literary festivities on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tell us what you’ll be reading – tag #StayHomeandRead to let others know how you are celebrating!

ATTIRE:
Choose formal or warm and fuzzy – anything goes when you’re having a ball at home.

FOOD & DRINK:
Feast on lobster and champagne, milk and cookies, or wine and cheese.

Kindly RSVP by visiting LFLA.org/StayHome, or text the word LIBRARY to 41444.

(6) SMALL TOWN, GREAT RESOURCE. The Middletown Public Library, a small town library outside of Harrisburg PA, is associated with the Science Fiction Book Club on Facebook. In 2017 the library’s Director, John Grayshaw, started reaching out to sci-fi authors and doing Q&As with them. There are now over 60 Science Fiction Author Interviews in the archives with many well-known writers including Lois McMaster Bujold, Samuel R. Delany, and Robert J. Sawyer.

The latest addition is the interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky:  

Bryan Stewart: I’m curious what’s your favorite answer to the Fermi Paradox? Do you think we’ll make first contact in our lifetimes?

[AT] I have become more pessimistic about this as I’ve got older (and the personal element of that ‘in our lifetimes’ necessarily becomes shorter). I do believe life is common in the universe, but the universe is very big so that can still produce colossal, uncrossable vistas between any two species that might appreciate each other’s’ existence. On a bad day I feel that a sufficiently advanced civilization is likely to destroy itself rather like we’re in the process of doing ourselves. On a good day I suspect that our attempts to find life are predicated far too much on that life being like us, and that we may simply not be sifting unusual alien signals from the background hiss, or may be looking in the wrong place.

(7) YOU’VE READ HER. Jonathan Lethem tells Literary Hub “Why Shirley Jackson is a Reader’s Writer”.

Ten and twenty years ago I used to play a minor parlor trick; I wonder if it would still work. When asked my favorite writer, I’d say “Shirley Jackson,” counting on most questioners to say they’d never heard of her. At that I’d reply, with as much smugness as I could muster: “You’ve read her.” When my interlocutor expressed skepticism, I’d describe “The Lottery”—still the most widely anthologized American short story of all time, I’d bet, and certainly the most controversial, and censored, story ever to debut in The New Yorker—counting seconds to the inevitable widening of my victim’s eyes: they’d not only read it, they could never forget it. I’d then happily take credit as a mind reader, though the trick was too easy by far. I don’t think it ever failed.

Jackson is one of American ?ction’s impossible presences, too material to be called a phantom in literature’s house, too in-print to be “rediscovered,” yet hidden in plain sight….

(8) FANCASTS TO CONSIDER. Cora Buhlert has expanded her Fanzine Spotlight project to fancasts, of which these are the latest entries. She says, “I’m really enjoying this project, though it has upset my Hugo ballot, because there are so many great podcasts out there I never knew about.”

Tell us about your broadcast.

The Journey Show is an outgrowth of Galactic Journey, our time machine to 55 years ago in fact and fiction. That site has been around since 1958…er…2013, and the conceit is that we are all fans living in the past, day by day, reviewing all the works of the time in the context of their time.

Tell us about your podcast or YouTube channel.

On our podcast we like to explore how narrative helps people to envision and achieve a better future. In turn, we like to talk to writers, editors, activists, gamers, and anyone else who helps us imagine those worlds. We consider our podcast to be linked thematically with HopePunk. Our interpretation of HopePunk takes a stance of hope through resistance to the current norms. Emphasis on the PUNK. Any given podcast discussion can range from a specific novel or story, to a guest’s career, politics, religion, music, writing tips, and ttrpgs. Guests often include editors, traditionally published writers, and Indie writers.

Some other previous guests have included folks like Bill Campbell, Tobias Buckell, Malka Older, P. Djeli Clark, and James Morrow, Janet Forbes (founder of the world building platform World Anvil), and Graeme Barber (writer and ttrpg critic).

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

[Alasdair Stuart] I had it gently and affectionately pointed out to me that there was no reason not to. I’d had a lot of frustrations with freelance projects at that point (multiple projects paid years late, another company going insolvent, etc). So one day I made a joke about what my newsletter would be and 50 ‘I’d read that’ emails later I realised I had an audience if I wanted to do it. And I did. I took Matt Wallace’s words about building your own platform to heart and started building mine.

Sisters Alice Baker and Ann Spangler have set themselves the goal of reading and discussing all Hugo and Nebula winning novels.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?

Alice: For me, it was because I was looking for a way to connect with my sister who I do not often get to see in person. We both have a love of the genre (although Ann likes Fantasy more), and since we were going to be discussing it anyway, I thought we should record them. I have some previous experience on the Educating Geeks podcast. Also, I find it difficult to read for hours like I used so I am trying to retrain myself.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?

Way back in 2014, Andi was live-tweeting her first time through Star Trek, Grace was podcasting on All Things Trek, Jarrah was blogging at Trekkie Feminist, and Sue was podcasting and blogging at Anomaly Podcast. At different points in time, Andi, Jarrah, and Sue had all been guests with Grace on All Things Trek on TrekRadio – sometimes with each other, sometimes individually. Having been connected through podcasting, and with that show coming to a close, Andi proposed that we start our own. After much planning, Women at Warp launched as an independent podcast in 2015.

(9) PREPARING FOR THE APOCALYPSE. RS Benedict theorizes about the state of genre film in “Everyone Is Beautiful and No One Is Horny” at Blood Knife.

When Paul Verhoeven adapted Starship Troopers in the late 1990s, did he know he was predicting the future? The endless desert war, the ubiquity of military propaganda, a cheerful face shouting victory as more and more bodies pile up?

But the scene that left perhaps the greatest impact on the minds of Nineties kids—and the scene that anticipated our current cinematic age the best—does not feature bugs or guns. It is, of course, the shower scene, in which our heroic servicemen and -women enjoy a communal grooming ritual.

On the surface, it is idyllic: racial harmony, gender equality, unity behind a common goal—and firm, perky asses and tits.

And then the characters speak. The topic of conversation? Military service, of course. One joined for the sake of her political career. Another joined in the hopes of receiving her breeding license. Another talks about how badly he wants to kill the enemy. No one looks at each other. No one flirts.

A room full of beautiful, bare bodies, and everyone is only horny for war.

… This cinematic trend reflects the culture around it. Even before the pandemic hit, Millennials and Zoomers were less sexually active than the generation before them. Maybe we’re too anxious about the Apocalypse; maybe we’re too broke to go out; maybe having to live with roommates or our parents makes it a little awkward to bring a partner home; maybe there are chemicals in the environment screwing up our hormones; maybe we don’t know how to navigate human sexuality outside of rape culture; maybe being raised on the message that our bodies are a nation-ending menace has dampened our enthusiasm for physical pleasure. 

Eating disorders have steadily increased, though. We are still getting our bodies ready to fight The Enemy, and since we are at war with an abstract concept, the enemy is invisible and ethereal. To defeat it, our bodies must lose solidity as well….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 27, 1994 — On this date in 1994, the TekWar episode TekLab first aired. Though created by William Shatner, it was actually ghost-written by writer Ron Goulart. This extended episode was directed by Timothy Bondoff the the story by Westbrook Claridge which was developed into a teleplay by? Chris Haddock. As always the lead character was Jake Cardigan played by Greg Evigan, and yes, Shatner was in the series as Walter Bascom. Torri Higginson, of later Stargate fame, got her start on this series. The series doesn’t far well with the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes where it currently has a dismal thirty six percent rating. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 27, 1807 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Taught at Bowdoin and Harvard.  First American translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy; better known to many for “Paul Revere’s Ride” and Hiawatha, whose accessibility had better not blind the thoughtful.  Book-length poems, novels, plays, anthologies, a dozen volumes of poetry.  “What a writer asks of readers is not so much to like as to listen.”  (Died 1882) [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1850 – Laura Richards.  Ninety books addressed to children; fifty stories ours, at least (what should count can be unclear with “children’s”).  LR’s mother Julia Ward Howe wrote the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”; 1917 Pulitzer Prize for biography of JWH by LR & sister Maud Howe Elliott “assisted by [sister] Florence Howe Hall”.  LR also wrote biographies of Abigail Adams, Florence Nightingale, Joan of Arc; 5 others.  Maybe best known for “Eletelephony”.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1934 Van Williams. He was the Green Hornet (with the late Bruce Lee as his partner Kato) on The Green Hornet and three Batman cross-over episodes. He would voice President Lyndon B. Johnson on the Batman series, show up in an episode of Mission Impossible, and also do a one-off Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected and that’s it. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born February 27, 1938 T.A. Waters. A professional magician and magic author. He appears not terribly well-disguised as Sir Thomas Leseaux, an expert on theoretical magic as a character in Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy fantasy series and in Michael Kurland’s The Unicorn Girl in which he also appears as Tom Waters. He himself wrote The Probability Pad which is a sequel to The Unicorn Girl. Together with Chester Anderson’s earlier The Butterfly Kid , they make up Greenwich Village trilogy. (Died 1998.)  (CE) 
  • Born February 27, 1944 Ken Grimwood. Another writer who died way too young, damn it.  Writer of several impressive genre novels including Breakthrough and Replay which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and Into the Deep and Elise which are listed in ISFDB but which I’m not at all familiar with. So what else is worth reading by him? (Died 2003.) (CE) 
  • Born February 27, 1960 Jeff Smith, 61. Creator and illustrator of Bone, the now complete series that he readily admits that “a notable influence being Walt Kelly’s Pogo”. Smith also worked for DC on a Captain Marvel series titled Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil. He’s won a very impressive eleven Harvey Awards and ten Eisner Awards! (CE)
  • Born February 27, 1945 – Hank Davis, age 76.  Nine short stories in e.g. AnalogF&SF, not counting one for The Last Dangerous Visions.  A dozen anthologies.  Correspondent of SF CommentarySF Review.  Served in the Army in Vietnam.  [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1951 – Mark Harrison, age 70.  Two hundred sixty covers, fifty interiors.  British SF Ass’n Award.  Here is The Story of the Stone.  Here is Valentine Pontifex.  Here is the Mar 93 Asimov’s.  Here is the Mar 95 Analog.  Here is Mercury.  Artbook, Dreamlands.  [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1964 John Pyper-Ferguson, 57. I certainly remember him best as the villain Peter Hutter on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. but I see that he got he got his start in Canadian horror films such as Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and Pin: A Plastic Nightmare. His first major SF role was in Space Marines as Col. Fraser which turns only such role. And though he has an extensive one-off career in genre series with over two dozen appearances, his occurrence as a repeated cast member is not uncommon as he’s Agent Bernard Fainon the new Night Stalker for the episodes, shows up as Tomas Vergis on Caprica for six episodes and I see he’s had a recurring role on The Last Ship as Tex  Nolan. (CE)
  • Born February 27, 1970 – Michael A. Burstein, age 51.  Twoscore short stories.  Served a term as SFWA Secretary (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America), simultaneously Vice-President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n).  Campbell Award (as it then was) for Best New Writer.  President, Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet.  Fanzine (with wife Nomi Burstein), Burstzine.  [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1976 Nikki Amuka-Bird, 45. The Voice of Testimony in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctor story, “Twice Upon A Time”.  She’s shown up quite a bit in genre work from horror (The Omen), space opera (Jupiter Ascending)takes on folk tales (Sinbad and Robin Hood) and evening SF comedy (Avenue 5). (CE)
  • Born February 27, 1993 – Ellen Curtis, age 28.  Three novels (with Matthew LeDrew), three shorter stories; four anthologies (with Erin Vance).  Has read The Essential Calvin and HobbesThe Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Castle of OtrantoThe Name of the Rose, a Complete Stories & Poems of Lewis CarrollGrimms’ Fairy TalesHans Andersen’s Fairy Tales.  [JH]

(12) REDISCOVERING ‘UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY’. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Looking back on the final voyage of the original Star Trek crew, Escapist scribe Darren Mooney makes a compelling argument for the subtext of the movie. He reads the movie as a rejection of nostalgia, and the need to hear new voices within genre fiction. It’s an article that’s relevant to several of fandom’s ongoing internecine struggles: “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Rejected Franchise Nostalgia in a Way Impossible Today” at Escapist Magazine.

…Three decades later, it’s impossible to imagine a major franchise demonstrating this level of introspection without provoking a fandom civil war. The Undiscovered Country provides a contrast with films like The Rise of Skywalker, in that The Undiscovered Country is about an older generation learning that they need to step aside and make room for those that will follow, while The Rise of Skywalker is about how the older generation is never too old for a joyride in the Millennium Falcon….

(13) SLIPPED DISC. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Talking of mysterious bronze age artefacts, here is an article about the archeological dispute involving the famous Nebra sky disc:  “Archaeologists Are Caught Up in an Intense Fight Over Just How Important the Mysterious Nebra Sky Disk Really Is” at Artnet News. Even if the sky disc is not as old as previously assumed, it is still an intensely cool artefact. I was lucky enough to see it in person a few years ago, since I have family in Halle/Saale, the town where it’s kept.

  … In September, Rupert Gebhard, director of the Munich’s Bavarian State Archaeological Collection, and Rüdiger Krause, an early European history professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, published a paper in the German journal Archäologische Informationen arguing that the artifact—which features images of the sun, the moon, and the Pleiades star cluster—is not the remarkable earliest-known depiction of astronomical phenomena that it had been heralded as.

“It’s a very emotional object,” Gebhard told the New York Times. He believes that the looters who discovered the disk before it was recovered in 2002 moved it from its original site and reburied it with real Bronze Age artifacts to make it appear older and more valuable.

Now, a competing paper put forth by experts including Harald Meller, director of the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Germany, which owns the disk, has fired back….

(14) ALL THAT ROT. Here’s an interesting article about cryptography for everyday use in the 17th century: “Beyond Espionage: Cryptography for Everyday Use in 17th Century England” at Criminal Element.

 Cryptography in seventeenth-century England was not just the stuff of spies and traitors, a fact that became a major plot point in The Sign of the Gallows, my fifth Lucy Campion historical mystery. While ciphers had grown more complex between the 16th and 17th centuries with the development of new mathematics, the actual practice of secret and hidden writing occurred in different domains of everyday life. Merchants might send messages about when and where shipments might occur out of fear of theft. Leaders of non-conformist religious sects like the Quakers might communicate with their followers in code, informing them of their next meeting. Friends and merry-makers might write riddles and jests using ciphers to entertain one another, in a type of pre-parlor game. Lovers, especially those unacknowledged couples, might write amorous messages that could not be read if discovered by jealous husbands or angry parents….

(15) WRITERS’ BLOCK. Mental Floss knows fans will enjoy these “8 Facts About ‘Attack the Block’”.

5. PLACES IN THE ATTACK THE BLOCK ARE NAMED AFTER FAMOUS BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS.

The movie takes place in a fictional neighborhood. The main council block in the film is called Wyndham Tower in honor of John Wyndham, the English science fiction writer famous for novels such as The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Other locations include Huxley Court (Aldous Huxley), Wells Court (H.G. Wells), Moore Court (Alan Moore), Ballard Street (J.G. Ballard), and Adams Street (Douglas Adams). Just after the movie title appears, the camera pans across a map of the area, showing the various names.

(16) WORSE THAN THE DIET OF WORMS. Antonio Ferme, in “George A. Romero’s Lost Movie ‘The Amusement Park’ Comes to Shudder” at Variety, says that Shudder will show Romero’s 1973 film The Amusement Park which was believed lost until it was found and restored in 2018.  The film was commissioned by the Lutheran Society to showcase problems of elder abuse but suppressed because the Lutherans thought it was too gory.

… “Amusement Park” stars Lincoln Maazel as an elderly man who finds himself increasingly disoriented and isolated during a visit to the amusement park. What he initially assumed would be an ordinary day quickly turned into a hellish nightmare filled with roller coasters and chaotic crowds….

(17) NOTHING SECEDES LIKE SUCCESS. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri interviews residents of Potatopia about their threat to secede if Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head became gender-neutral. “Opinion | An oral history of the Mr. Potato Head secession”.

… Helen Helenson, first applicant for asylum in Potatopia: The minutes when I thought I would have to look at a brownish plastic oval and not clearly know what gender it was were some of the most frightening of my life. I started to sob. I thought, what will they come for next? Soon I won’t know what gender any of the plastics are around my home….

(18) STREAMLINED FELINE. Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski sounds quite revolted by the whole idea: “Meet Flatcat, the Creepiest Robot We’ve Ever Seen”. Question: is the writer aware of that term’s sf roots? He doesn’t acknowledge them in the article.

…To make Flatcat more endearing so people will actually want to touch and interact with it, its creators at a Berlin-based robotics startup called Jetpack Cognition Lab have wrapped it in soft, fluffy fur so that it looks more like a cat—or at least a cat that somehow survived repeated run-ins with a semi-truck. In reality, Flatcat is more like like a ThiccFurrySnake, or maybe a FlattenedCaterpillar. Calling it a cat is certainly a stretch….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “That Mitchell and Webb Look–Holmes And Watson” on YouTube, British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb play two actors who keep fighting over who gets to play Holmes and who gets to play Watson.

[Thanks to John Hertz, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Kurt Schiller, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Walt Boyes, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 2/21/21 He Was Born With A Gift For Pixels, And A Sense That The World Was Scrolled

(1) SANFORD BACK ON TWITTER. Jason Sanford has unlocked his Twitter account and written a 14-tweet update in a thread that starts here.

Sanford also updated an endnote to his Patreon article “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence” with information provided by Mercedes Lackey.

[Note 7] According to the explanation in the list of banned Baen’s Bar topics, Mercedes Lackey posted a long rant on the forum about her distaste for Baen Books and Jim Baen personally, along with mentioning how she had been persecuted for being of a particular political bent. While it appears Lackey left the forum after that, Jim Baen “asked that the incident be stricken from discussion.”

Update: Mercedes Lackey reached out to me to say that the information shared on Baen’s Bar about why she left was simply not true. She says she left the forum after 9/11 when forum users were posting freely about murdering all Muslims. Lackey strongly attacked these posts in a long post on Baen’s Bar, but her post was heavily criticized by Tom Kratman and specifically John Ringo and Ringo’s followers. However, Lackey’s post and reasons for leaving said nothing about Jim Baen nor about Baen Books. She also says the note posted on the forum banning discussions around her leaving was written after Jim Baen passed, so he would have been unable to contradict it.

(2) RAMBO ON WHAT’S EXPECTED OF A GOH. Cat Rambo also has more comments on the controversy: “Opinion: More Fuel for the Recent Baenfire”.

In the couple of days since I first spoke about the furor evoked by Jason Sanford’s criticism of a specific subforum of Baen’s Bar, the discussion boards sponsored by Baen Books, for encouraging armed insurrection and white supremacy, a good bit has happened*.

One notable outcome is that DisCon has removed Toni Weisskopf as a Guest of Honor, making this statement…

… As I’ve talked about before, programming is an art. Who you pick as GoH is part of that. Often programming starts with the GoHs and fills in around them. And one of the (reasonable) expectations of a GoH is that they participate in a hearty chunk of programming. The GoHs are the literal faces of the convention, smiling out from the convention advertising and program books.

Bearing that in mind, DisCon had to ask was Is supporting a place where a bunch of people spend their time expressing their hatred of other members of the F&SF community something that makes a field more awesome? as well as What do we do, knowing that a choice to keep Weisskopf will be read as an endorsement of those words?

Words that support an armed coup. Words saying people with differing political beliefs should be killed. Words urging violence towards other people.

We talk about free speech, but with free speech comes responsibility for one’s words. Baen cannot disavow responsibility for those words, regardless of whether or not they happened because someone was asleep at the wheel….

(3) ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN. John Scalzi is sitting this one out. Or maybe a different one. He doesn’t actually say: “A Vague But Official Pronouncement About a Thing” at Whatever.

I know there is a thing! I know some of you want me to engage with the thing! I know this because you’ve sent me emails about the thing and I see the subject headers! I then delete the emails unread because I do not wish to engage with this thing! Engaging with this thing will not make me happy! I find myself looking at it and being glad it is not actually my problem!

So: Have fun with this thing without me!… 

(4) NORMA K HEMMING AWARDS NEWS. The 2021 Norma K Hemming Awards will be held over until 2022, for a combined two-year consideration period.

This decision has been made due to several factors, including COVID-19, juror fatigue, and administrative changes. Please note that all 2020 and 2021 publications will be eligible when the Awards next run. 

On a related note, Norma K Hemming Award Administrator Tehani Croft has resigned from this position.

Tehani would like to thank Rose Mitchell, outgoing Australian Science Fiction Foundation president, for her support, vision and efforts to ensure the Awards are relevant. This work could not have been achieved without her, and it has been very much appreciated by the community, particularly those creators whose work could be recognised, and by the audiences the Award reaches.

(5) SMELL THE ROSES. Tim Waggoner advises writers to enjoy their professional journey in “Writing in the Dark: So You’re Never Going to be Stephen King” at Writing in the Dark.

…So why have I written what sounds like an extended brag about how awesome I am? So I could tell you this: I’ve pushed and pushed and pushed myself for almost four decades now, and sometimes I don’t feel like a success at all. I don’t think I’m a failure – there’s too much evidence that I’m not – but I feel as if true success is always just out of my reach. Sometimes it makes me feel like my career has been kind of a cruel cosmic joke, and that gets me down and makes it hard to keep working. Sometimes it feels as if I’m on the downhill slide of my career, and there’s nothing I can do to turn things around. Sometimes I toy with the idea of quitting writing. I’ve always thought about quitting. I’m prone to depression and, as an imaginative person, I’m prone to drama. I may not evince this in my everyday life, but it’s true. I’m as much a drama queen inside as any other creative person. And the reason I feel all these things is because I listen too much to what the world tells me a successful writer should be. I think of my writing accomplishments as achievements to slap in a bio or bibliography, quickly forgotten as I rush toward the next project or goal I want to achieve. I forget to enjoy the results of my efforts, to savor the experiences, to have fun, to feel joy. If I’m not first writing for myself, writing to spend my life in a way that feels fulfilling to me, if I don’t remember to appreciate these things, that’s when I most feel like a failure. My writing is supposed to sustain me, but if it was water, I’d get regular deliveries of it, throw the jugs in the basement, and never drink a drop of it. I’d be too focused on obtaining more water without taking the time to appreciate the water I’ve already got.

 In his wonderful speech “Make Good Art,” Neil Gaiman shares a story about a time when he was doing a signing alongside Stephen King. It was during the height of Sandman’s success, and Neil had a ton of people show up to get their comics signed. Steve told him, “This is really great. You should enjoy it.” But Neil didn’t. He was too focused on the next project, the next hill to climb. He calls Steve’s words “the best advice I ever got but completely failed to follow.”…

(6) VARLEY MEDICAL UPDATE. [Item by Trey Palmer.] Just learned that John Varley, author of Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, Millennium, the Gaea trilogy and many others, is headed into bypass surgery Monday. ”Sending Prayers to the Cosmos”.

If you can, spare him a little positive thought or prayer. 

Last week John began having chest pains. Then we got snowed in for a few days. So it wasn’t until last Thursday that he saw a cardiologist for a stress test. Blockages! The doctor told him to go to the emergency room immediately. They scheduled him for an angiogram next day hoping that a stent would fix the problem. It didn’t, so now he’s going to have coronary bypass surgery Monday morning. Any good thoughts, prayers, strong visualizations that you can send his way would be greatly appreciated.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 21, 1958 — On this day in 1958,  Day The World Ended premiered in West Germany. It was produced and directed by Roger Corman. It starred Richard Denning, Lori Nelson, Adele Jergens, and Mike Connors. This was the first SF film by Corman. The film was shot over 10 days on a budget of $96,234.49. Critics at the time considered it silly and fun. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 42% rating. You can watch it here. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 21, 1912 – P. Schuyler Miller.  A novel (with Sprague de Camp), fifty shorter stories (“As Never Was” anthologized in the great Healy-McComas Adventures in Time and Space); fine book reviewer for Astounding and thus Analog, Special Committee Award from Discon I the 21st Worldcon.  Treasurer of Pittcon the 18th.  “Alicia in Blunderland” spoofing 1930s SF fans, pros, tales, appeared in the fanzine Science Fiction Digest; PSM was in FAPA.  Amateur archeologist.  Notable collector, left 3500 hardbacks, 4600 paper.  His reviews await collection.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1913 – Ross Rocklynne.  Two novels, a hundred shorter stories; attended Nycon I the 1st Worldcon; considered a figure of the 1930s-1950s, but he’s in Again, Dangerous Visions, Carr’s Universe 3 anthology, Amazing and Fantastic under White.  Co-founder of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n and the Cincinnati Fantasy Group.  (Died 1988) [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1933 – Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, age 88.  Member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, she married a Norwegian and wrote The Trickster and the Troll about Iktomi and a nisse looking for the nisse’s family in the plains.  “When Thunders Spoke” too is ours.  A score of books.  Spirit of Crazy Horse Award, Nat’l Humanities Medal.  Historiographer of the Episcopal Church of South Dakota.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1935 Richard A. Lupoff. His career started off with Xero, a Hugo winning fanzine he edited with his wife Pat and Bhob Stewart.  A veritable who’s who of writers were published there. He also was a reviewer for Algol.  To say  he was  prolific as a professional writer is an understatement as he’s known to have written at least fifty works of fiction, plus short fiction, and some non-fiction as well. I’m fond of Sacred Locomotive Files and The Universal Holmes but your tolerance for his humor may  vary. The usual digital suspects stock him deeply at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2020.) (CE) 
  • Born February 21, 1937 Ingrid Pitt. Performer from Poland who emigrated to the UK who is best known as Hammer Films’ most sexy female vampire of the early Seventies. Would I kid you? Her first genre roles were in the Spanish movie Sound of Horror and the science-fictional The Omegans, followed by the Hammer productions The Vampire LoversCountess Dracula, and The House That Dripped Blood. She appeared in the true version of The Wicker Man and had parts in Octopussy, Clive Barker’s UnderworldDominator, and Minotaur. She had two different roles twenty years apart  in Doctor Who – somewhat of a rarity – as Dr. Solow in the “Warriors of the Deep” episode and as Galleia in “The Time Monster” episode. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born February 21, 1953 Lisa Goldstein, 68. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. The quite excellent Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog which is one of the better ones I’ve read. (CE) 
  • Born February 21, 1959 – Debi Gliori, Litt.D., age 62.  A dozen novels, six dozen picture books.  Red House Children’s Book Award.  Doctorate of Letters from Strathclyde Univ.  Here is an interior from The Trouble with Dragons.  Here is What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf?  Here is Polar Bolero – you knew I’d get a dance in somehow.  [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1961 – David Levine, age 60.  First-rate fanziner with his wife the first-rate Kate Yule while she was alive; she saw him blossom also as a pro: “Tk’tk’tk” won a Hugo, DL’s acceptance was epic.  By then he had won the James White, a few years later the Endeavour; later Arabella of Mars won the Andre Norton. Two weeks at a simulated Mars base in the Utah desert.  Two more novels about Arabella; five dozen shorter stories; tried his hand at defining science fiction last March in Asimov’s.  More of David (and Kate) here.  [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1974 – Gideon Marcus, age 47.  A novel, a short story, introduction to SF by Women 1958-1963.  There are – I can’t say I know, but there must be – many journeys in this galaxy; GM founded (as he puts it) one of them, and won a Serling Award.  Duty calls me to observe that his museum reviews the KLH 20 but not the wonderful KLH 11, the Antiochian’s Friend – I had one, I think we all did.  [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1977 Owen  King. 44. There are not quite legions of Kings though sometimes it seems like it. Owen, son of Stephen and Tabitha, is early in his writing career. His first novel, Double Feature, was not genre and got mixed reviews. His second, Sleeping Beauties, written with his father is genre and got much better reviews. I’m rather fond of his short story collection, We’re All in This Together, but then I like his fathers short stories much better than I like his novels too. He has also got a graphic novel, Intro to Alien Invasion, but I’ve not seen it anywhere yet. (CE) 

(9) VINTAGE 1953. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Memory Yet Green, discusses a radio interview he gave during the 1953 Worldcon in Philadelphia. (John D. Clark was an author and fan active in the 1940s and 1950s.)

Sprague (de Camp), John Clark, and I went out to a local radio station where a local talk-show host interviewed us. We were made to order for him, because he thought it was the funniest thing in the world that science-fiction people were having a convention.  (‘What do you people do?  Wear beanies?’)

Sprague answered very patiently, because he is the soul of dignity and forbearance, but I chafed a bit.  Finally, when it was my turn again, the host said to me, “Say, I have a  question for you:  Suppose you’re on Pluto and wearing those funny space helmets.  How do you kiss?’

‘You don’t,’ I said, glowering at him.  ‘You carry on a Plutonic love affair.’

The studio audience broke up and it was the host’s turn to glower.  Apparently guests are not supposed to take the play away from the host.  He didn’t speak to me again.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Trey Palmer, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill Higgins.]