(1) FREE ON EARTH. Brian Keene has posted the program schedule for “Christopher Golden’s House of Last Resort Weekend (hosted by Brian Keene)” a FREE horror convention, taking place January 18 – 21, 2024 at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, 250 Market St., in Portsmouth, NH 03801.
The “House of Last Resort Weekend Schedule” is at Brian Keene’s blog. Apparently, if you’re going, you really really should not miss Opening Ceremonies.
7:00pm (Prescott) – Opening Ceremonies: Christopher Golden and host Brian Keene welcome you to this one of a kind, once in a lifetime special event. We’ll go over the rules, the purpose of the weekend, the schedule, and much more. Attendance is strongly encouraged, and to show you that we mean this, we’ll give away free door prizes to random individuals.
(2) APPLY FOR THE BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking applications for the A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature through January 31.
The A.C. Bose Grant annually provides $1,000 to South Asian or Desi diaspora writers developing speculative fiction. Work that is accessible to older children and teens will be given preference in the jury process.
This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature. Speculative literature spans the breadth of fantastic writing, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, including ghost stories, horror, folk and fairy tales, slipstream, magical realism, and more. Any piece of literature containing a fabulist or speculative element would fall under our aegis.
This grant is awarded on the basis of merit. If awarded the grant, the recipient agrees to provide a brief excerpt from their work and an autobiographical statement describing themselves and their writing (500-1,000 words) for our files and for public dissemination on our website and mailing list.
The application form is at the SLF website.
(3) MATCH GAME. Nick Johnson thought of a great way to spice up his annual recommendation list: “Reading (and Publication!) Round-Up for 2023” at Medium.
I’m choosing to do my year-end wrap-up a little differently this time. Whereas before I separated out novels and short stories to highlight the best of both, for 2023 I present instead a curated, tandem list — a prix fixe menu, if you will. I’ve listed each book in the order I read it, complete with brief description and a rating (out of 5 ★s).
Each novel is paired with a short story. Why? Because short stories don’t get enough love! Think of them as palate cleansers, digestifs to follow the main course. Some of these pairings are based on similarities between concepts or characters. Sometimes they approach similar themes from divergent angles. Whatever the reason may be, if you choose to read them, I hope they take you on rewarding journeys to emotional places you don’t expect.
Here’s one example.
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, by T. Kingfisher (★★★★)
T. Kingfisher’s solid young-adult fantasy novel follows Mona, a baker’s apprentice skilled in crafting magical golems out of baked goods, whose life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the floor of her bakery. Hijinks, both harrowing and heartwarming, ensue.
Pairing: “There’s Magic in Bread” | Effie Seiberg | Fantasy MagazineSeiberg’s story about magical bread is more grounded to this plane, though sneaks in some grain-based golems for good measure.
(4) WHAT SHE’S READING. Maud Woolf features in the “Books & Authors” section of “Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 5, 2024”.
Reading with… Maud Woolf
Maud Woolf is a speculative-fiction writer with a particular focus on horror and science fiction who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has appeared in a variety of online magazines. She’s worked a number of jobs, including waitressing, comic book selling, sign-holding, and as a tour guide at a German dollhouse museum. She is the author of Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock (Angry Robot, January 9, 2024), a feminist satire on celebrity and the multiple roles into which women are forced to squeeze their lives.
On your nightstand now:
I have a bad habit of dipping in and out of multiple books at the same time. At the moment, I’m obsessed with solarpunk, so I’m reading A Psalm for the Wild-Builtby Becky Chambers and Glass and Gardens, an anthology of solarpunk stories edited by Sarena Ulibarri. Those have both just been abandoned in favour of The Forever Warby Joe Haldeman, a science-fiction classic influenced by the author’s own experiences in the Vietnam War. I usually avoid military sci-fi, but it’s completely consumed me.
(5) FRED CHAPPELL (1936-2024.) North Carolina writer and teacher Fred Chappell died January 4 at the age of 87. The Greensboro News and Record has a tribute here: “Fred Chappell, acclaimed author and poet, has died”.
His first novel, Dagon (1968) was honored as the Best Foreign Book of the Year by the Académie Française. He won two World Fantasy Awards for short fiction, “The Somewhere Doors” (1992) and “The Lodger” (1994). His short story “The Silent Woman” was also shortlisted for the Otherwise Award in 1997.
He was a past Poet Laureate of the state of North Carolina, and PBS North Carolina aired a documentary about him in 2022, “Fred Chappell: I Am One of You Forever”.
(6) JOHN F. O’CONNELL (1969–2024.) [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Author John O’Connell died January 1. His “Legerdemain” got him nominations for the Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Awards. Two of his stories, “Legerdemain” and “The Swag from Doc Hawthorne’s” were published in F&SF. His only Award was an Imaginaire for his Dans les limbes, the French translation of The Resurrectionist novel. All three of his noirish linked novels, Box Nine, Skin Palace and Word Made Flesh are set in the fictional New England city of Quinsigamond, loosely based on his own resident city of Worcester, Massachusetts.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 5, 1966 — Tananarive Due, 57. This Scroll I’m very pleased to be looking at Tananarive Due, an author whose work is definitely more focused towards the noir side of our genre.
She’s a native Floridian, born of civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due and civil rights lawyer John D. Due, her mother named her after the French name for Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. She’s married to Steve Barnes, and they live now in LA where their two children also live.
Her first work was The Between, published twenty-eight years ago. It was nominated for a Bram Stroker Award. Like much of her work, it straddles the thin line between the mundane and horror quite chillingly.
Shortly after that, she started the dark fantasy and a bit soap operish African Immortals series which ran over almost fifteen years and four novels. An Ethiopian family traded something away well over four centuries ago in a ritual that granted them true immortality. And one of them wants to invoke that ritual now…
Eight years later, she’d write The Good House, one of the scariest haunted house stories I have ever encountered. Trigger warning: it deals with a suicide and the horror of it is very real here.
Joplin’s Ghost followed shortly thereafter. Yes this is centered around the ragtime musican Scott Joplin and his haunting of a young female hip hop artist. It’s less of a horror novel than her works and more of a dark fantasy. Very well done.
Ghost Summer: Stories a decade on collected eighteen of her over thirty excellent short stories including the title story. Most of the rest, though not all, are in The Wishing Pool and Other Stories. The “Ghost Summer” story won a Carl Brandon Kindred Award and I love the story about who Carl Brandon is! The collection garnered a BFA.
Her latest novel just out, The Reformatory: A Novel, is set in a Jim Crow Florida reformatory where the full horrors of the injustices of racism known no bounds of death. Really, really scary.
Her quite well-crafted website can be found over here. She offers online courses including ones on Afrofuturism.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Crankshaft surprises a friend by dropping an sff reference.
(9) KNOW YOUR VERBIAGE. Janet Rudolph has posted a chart of “Commonly Misused Words” at Mystery Fanfare. And in a comment Hal Glatzer has added this example:
Gauntlet = a heavy glove Gantlet = a double row of men with swords or pikes
You challenge someone to a duel by “throwing down the gauntlet.”
You put someone in danger by making them “walk (or run) the gantlet.”
(10) YEOH SHOW CANCELLED. American Born Chinese had a lot going for it – based on a Gene Luen Yang book, a cast including Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan – but it won’t be back for a second season says Variety: “’American Born Chinese’ Canceled After One Season at Disney+”.
According to an individual with knowledge of the decision, Disney was high on the creative of the series, but its viewership did not justify greenlighting a second season. The producers plan to shop the series to other outlets.
“American Born Chinese” debuted on Disney+ on May. The Disney Branded Television series was based on the graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang. The official logline states that the show “chronicles the trials and tribulations of a regular American teenager whose life is forever changed when he befriends the son of a mythological god.”
(11) WHO’S WATCHING WHAT? JustWatch sent along its 2023 Market Shares data and graphics.
SVOD market shares in Q4 2023
In the final quarter of the year, Disney’s streaming services, Disney+ and Hulu, combined gathered more shares than current market leader Prime Video. Meanwhile, Netflix is approaching Prime Video with just a 1% difference between the two players.
Market share development in 2023
Over the year, the streaming battle in the US displayed interesting changes with Paramount+ leading with the highest increase since January, adding a total of +2%. Global streamer: Apple TV+ also displays strong improvement with a +1% increase.
(12) I’VE LOOKED AT CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES NOW. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science journal we have “Magellanic cloud may be two galaxies, not one”.
The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a hazy blob in the night sky easily visible to people in the Southern Hemisphere, has long been considered a lone dwarf galaxy close to the Milky Way. But a study posted online this month, and accepted by The Astrophysical Journal, suggests the familiar site is not a single body, but two, with one behind the other as viewed from Earth.
By tracking the movements of clouds of gas within the SMC and the young stars recently formed within them, astronomer Claire Murray of the Space Telescope Science Institute and her colleagues have found evidence of two stellar nurseries thousands of light-years apart. If confirmed, the reassessment will likely amplify calls from an increasing number of astronomers to change the SMC’s name and that of its neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).
Sixteenth century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, after whom the galaxies are named, was not an astronomer, did not discover them, and is recorded as having murdered and enslaved Indigenous people during his first-ever circumnavigation of the globe. As a result, astronomer Mia de los Reyes of Amherst College called for renaming the SMC and LMC in an opinion piece for Physics magazine in September. The idea has since “gotten a lot of informal support,” she says.
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In “Three Sci-Fi Books Nobody Reads Anymore”, Book Pilled looks at three lost SF treasures. Gerard Klein The Overlords of War (English translation by the transmazing John Brunner), James Blish’s Vor, and Avram Davidson’s What Strange Stars and Skies.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Joel Zakem, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]