Mystery Writers of America today announced the nominees for the 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2021. The 76th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 28, 2022.
The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen (Amazon Publishing – Lake Union)
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby (Macmillan Publishers – Flatiron Books)
Five Decembers by James Kestrel (Hard Case Crime)
How Lucky by Will Leitch (HarperCollins – Harper)
No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
Deer Season by Erin Flanagan (University of Nebraska Press)
Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian (Harlequin Trade Publishing – Park Row)
Suburban Dicks by Fabian Nicieza (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins (Penguin Random House – Riverhead Books)
The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer (Penguin Random House – Viking Books/Pamela Dorman Books)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
The Album of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory (Tom Doherty Associates – Tordotcom)
Starr Sign by C.S. O’Cinneide (Dundurn Press)
Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)
The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books)
BEST FACT CRIME
The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History by Margalit Fox (Random House Publishing Group – Random House)
Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green (Celadon Books)
Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away by Ann Hagedorn (Simon & Schuster)
Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, a Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice by Ellen McGarrahan (Penguin Random House – Random House)
The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade by Benjamin T. Smith (W.W. Norton & Company)
When Evil Lived in Laurel: The “White Knights” and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer by Curtis Wilkie (W.W. Norton & Company
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper360)
The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene by Richard Greene (W.W. Norton & Company)
Tony Hillerman: A Life by James McGrath Morris (University of Oklahoma Press)
The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science by John Tresch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White (W.W. Norton & Company)
BEST SHORT STORY
“Blindsided,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Michael Bracken & James A. Hearn (Dell Magazines)
“The Vermeer Conspiracy,” Midnight Hour by V.M. Burns (Crooked Lane Books)
“Lucky Thirteen,” Midnight Hour by Tracy Clark (Crooked Lane Books)
“The Road to Hana,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by R.T. Lawton (Dell Magazines)
“The Locked Room Library,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Gigi Pandian (Dell Magazines)
“The Dark Oblivion,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Cornell Woolrich (Dell Magazines)
Cold-Blooded Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Workman Publishing – Algonquin Young Readers)
Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Dead Man in the Garden by Marthe Jocelyn (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books)
Kidnap on the California Comet: Adventures on Trains #2 by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman (Macmillan Children’s Publishing – Feiwel & Friends)
Rescue by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
BEST YOUNG ADULT
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Macmillan Children’s Publishing – Feiwel & Friends)
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Macmillan Children’s Publishing – Henry Holt and Company BFYR)
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris (HarperCollins – Quill Tree Books)
The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
“Dog Day Morning” – The Brokenwood Mysteries, Written by Tim Balme (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – The Beast Must Die, Written by Gaby Chiappe (AMC+)
“The Men Are Wretched Things” – The North Water Written by Andrew Haigh (AMC+)
“Happy Families” – Midsomer Murders, Written by Nicholas Hicks-Beach (Acorn TV)
“Boots on the Ground” – Narcos: Mexico, Written by Iturri Sosa (Netflix)
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“Analogue,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Rob Osler (Dell Magazines)
* * * * * *
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet by Katherine Cowley (Tule Publishing – Tule Mystery)
Ruby Red Herring by Tracy Gardner (Crooked Lane Books)
Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
The Sign of Death by Callie Hutton (Crooked Lane Books)
Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)
* * * * * *
THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD
Double Take by Elizabeth Breck (Crooked Lane Books)
Runner by Tracy Clark (Kensington Books)
Shadow Hill by Thomas Kies (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)
Sleep Well, My Lady by Kwei Quartey (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
Family Business by S.J. Rozan (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)
* * * * * *
The following Special Awards were previously announced:
Laurie R. King
Lesa Holstine – Lesa’s Book Critiques; Library Journal Reviewer
Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announced several special awards today. They have selected Laurie R. King as the 2022 Grand Master. The Raven Award recipient is book reviewer Lesa Holstine. And the Ellery Queen Award has been given to publisher Juliet Grames. All winners will accept their awards at the 76th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony on April 28, 2022.
MWA’s Grand Master Award represents “the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing.” Laurie R. King’s 30 novels and other works include the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories, beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (named “One of the 20th Century’s Best Crime Novels” by the IMBA.) The series’ A Monstrous Regiment of Women won The Nero Wolfe award for best novel.
Using the pseudonym “Leigh Richards”, King also has published a science fiction novel, Califia’s Daughters (2004).
The Raven Award, which “recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing,” goes to librarian, a blogger, and book reviewer Lesa Holstine. She is in the 18th year of writing her award-winning blog, Lesa’s Book Critiques, has been the blogger for Poisoned Pen Bookstore for over four years, and reviews mysteries for Mystery Readers’ Journal and Library Journal, where she was named Reviewer of the Year in 2018.
Soho Press svp, associate publisher Juliet Grames was awarded the Ellery Queen Award, which is given to “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.”
GR: What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
CT: Balancing all the narrative elements. I’m very interested in narratives where individuals and groups of people converge around significant events for very different reasons. I wanted the novel to honor individual and collective action where each person is important. That was hard to do. The other challenge was the cosmology underpinning the story, which requires a few conceptual leaps to make sense. I didn’t want to do too much too fast and undercut the emotional weight of those leaps. I also didn’t want to undermine the very real and very important personal conflicts of the characters with god-level madness. Add to that my love of subtlety and subtext and the writing process became a tug-of-war between all these disparate goals. But I did my very best. Luckily I have two more books in the series to tease out every layer.
(2) BARBARA NEELY REMEMBERED. Mystery Writers of America has established the Barbara Neely Scholarship in honor of the late author, a trailblazing Black crime novelist who was named a Grand Master by MWA in late 2019. “She was named a Grand Master not only for the high quality of the work she produced during her career, but also for being an inspiration to an entire generation of crime writers of color.”
Two scholarships of $2000 each per year will be awarded: “One for an aspiring Black writer who has yet to publish in the crime or mystery field, and another for Black authors who have already published in crime or mystery.”
Applications are being taken from July 1 through September 30. The applications will be reviewed by the Barbara Neely Scholarship committee, including Black crime writers, and the winner will be announced in the late fall. The application form is here
Applicants must be Black, American citizens, and age 18 or older. They must submit a brief biography, competed application form, and 300-500-word statement on their interest in the mystery genre and in general terms (class, conference, equipment, etc.) how they would use the scholarship funds. Prior membership in MWA is not required.
The Barbara Neely Scholarship will be awarded on the basis of writing ability, interest in the crime/mystery genre, and likely benefit from the scholarship funds and MWA membership.
(3) JUICY IS BETTER. There’s a Kickstarter to fund Juicy Ghosts by Rudy Rucker, the author’s twenty-fourth novel. People have contributed $5,302 of its $7,000 goal with 27 days to go. Rucker tells how the project began:
Juicy Ghosts is about politics, telepathy, and immortality. I started it in 2019, as a reaction to Donald Trump’s repeated remarks that he planned to be a three-term president. That pushed me over the edge.
I started with a short story called “Juicy Ghosts.” Rebels bring down an insane, evil President who’s stolen an election. They sting him with a lethally tweaked wasp, erase the online backup of his mind, and explode his clone. Too much? It’s hard to stop, when you’re having this much fun! Over the next two years, my story grew into a novel. I had to write it. I had to stand and be counted.
So, yes, Juicy Ghosts is a tale of political struggle—but it’s more than that. It’s hip and literary, with romance and tragedy. Plus gnarly science, and lots of funny scenes. I used a loose, say-anything style. The point-of-view characters are outsiders and slackers. The majority of them are women, and they give the tale a grounded tone.
We’ll see commercial telepathy, or teep, before long. And we’ll want a channel that’s richer than text and images. Users might transmit templates for the neurochemicals that are affecting their current mood. Your friends feel your pheromones! In Juicy Ghosts, people do this with gossip molecules, which are nano-assemblers with tiny antennas.
I’ve been writing about digital immortality since my early cyberpunk novel Software. The idea is to represent a soul by a digital program and a data-base, calling the construct a lifebox. But in Juicy Ghosts a lifebox needs to be linked to a physical body. It’s not enough to be a ghost—you want to be a juicy ghost. The linked body might be an insect or an animal or a biotweaked bot—but high-end users will have tank-grown clones.
Lifeboxes and clones will be expensive, so most people will settle for free lifebox storage provided by tech giants. The catch is that if you accept this free service, you’re obligated to do gig-work for the company—as a bodyguard, a chauffeur, a maid, of a factory worker. Typical of our times!
I like happy endings. I’d rather laugh than cry. My characters destroy the evil President’s political party, topple the pay-to-play immortality racket, and provide everyone with free lifeboxes and physical bodies. Ta-da!
[Swirsky:] … I actually initially went into submission with a version of this that was 1,000 words shorter. After getting a couple of very kind rejections, I let it lie for a while, and the next time I looked at it, I felt like the story had a reserved quality to it that didn’t seem appropriate. My graduate training—along with a lot of other aspects of contemporary aesthetics—strongly veers toward keeping emotions subtextual in this very discreet fashion. I went back into the story to let the heartbreak go straight onto the page. Shoko is a teenager; she’s full of these big emotions. She doesn’t express them to other people which only means she’s constantly inflated with love and distress and confusion and uncertainty about her future that she has no escape valve from. I think she tries to distance herself from that internally to some extent—there are moments when she underplays what she’s feeling—but she shouldn’t be written like a middle-aged literary professor wrestling with a midlife crisis….
Thanks to advances in the field of robotic acting, Ryan Thornier, former star, is now Ryan Thornier, underpaid theatre janitor. True, there are many occupations not yet automated to which the old man could apply his thespian talents—salesman, politician, general—but these are beneath the former star. Only stage acting will do. But his desire to shine onstage cannot erase the fact that robotic mannikins programmed with recorded personality matrices deliver the same services as living actors, but are much cheaper and more reliable.
Ryan is very stubborn. Given even the smallest hope of reclaiming his lost place on stage, he will leap to take advantage of the opportunity…regardless of consequences.
… A few times over the course of Loki, viewers had compared it to Doctor Who, mainly because of its general time-travel premise (what are the officious TVA except Time Lords with a dental plan?) and especially after episode three saw Loki and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) trapped on a dying world. In fact, many commented that Loki did ‘Doctor Who’ better than Doctor Who itself, thanks to a higher budget and bigger stars. (Though did Loki have a sonic screwdriver? I think not. Case closed.)
And I actually think Loki could learn something from Doctor Who, more specifically, from a storyline that saw an iconic villain try to change their ways with mixed success….
Since approximately five minutes after I started publishing, my mom has been telling me I should write a kids’ book. For a while I was…skeptical. Many of the kind things people have said about my work involve it being dark but ultimately hopeful but before that just. so dark. And many of my rejections have been for being “too dark.” None of which really felt super compatible with, y’know, a children’s book.
It’s not that I thought it was a bad idea, it just felt like an idea that was beyond my skillset or ability to even really conceptualize. So on the back burner it sat for a long time, along with a whole bunch of other stuff I’d talked myself out of writing for various reasons. (Thanks, impostor syndrome. You’re the best.)
And then I had a baby. And then my baby grew up into a kid. And just like that I had an audience to write a kids’ book for. And everything kind of came together from there….
(8) DISABLED PARTICIPANTS SOUGHT. Mission: AstroAccess has put out “A Call For Disabled Explorers to Experience Zero Gravity.” Any disabled adult living in the U.S. can apply – see full guidelines and view the application here. The deadline to apply is August 15.
Outer space is not just humanity’s future: it’s a call to rethink life on Earth right now.
In zero gravity, what is standing up? What is lying down? What does it mean to be unable to walk if no one there is walking? How does that shift our understanding of disability?
We are excited to announce the launch of Mission: AstroAccess, a program bringing a diverse group of disabled space enthusiasts on a historic ZERO-G parabolic flight! Participants will complete targeted tasks during the program’s flight to help answer basic questions about how disabled people can live and work in outer space. Mission: AstroAccess’ crew of disabled volunteers will take flight on October 17th, 2021, as the first step in a progression towards increasing diversity in space and the greater STEM field.
…Mission: AstroAccess serves an additional purpose—while traditional physical barriers are lifted in space, accidents resulting in some form of disability are inevitable during extended missions in space’s dangerous environment. We are dedicated to advancing disability inclusion in space exploration, not just for the benefit of marginalized communities, but for the benefit of all humankind. The tasks conducted during this program will help inform accessible design to make extended space travel safer for everyone.
…The big story in adult fiction was the strength of the graphic novel format. Unit sales soared 178.5% in the first half of the year, rising to 16.2 million copies sold, making graphic novels the second-largest adult fiction subcategory. Graphic novels made up nearly 20% of adult fiction unit sales in the first six months of 2021, compared to 9.3% last year.
Viz Media was one of the big beneficiaries of the graphic novel boom. Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, Vol. 26 was the top adult graphic novel in the first half of the year, selling more than 90,000 copies. Other volumes in the Academia line also sold well, including volume two(about 82,000 copies sold) and volume one(81,000 copies). Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Taiba, Vol. 1 by Koyoharu Gotouge, also published by Viz, sold more than 82,000 copies. A title published by a company other than Viz, Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 by Hajime Isayama, published by Kodansha, sold nearly 88,000 copies….
(10) SID ALTUS (1949-2021). Detroit fan Sid Altus died July 13, his daughter Shana announced on Facebook. Sid was a member of the Detroit in ’82 Worldcon bid. He worked on AutoClave and ConFusion. He and Alex Berman co-founded a small press, Phantasia Press, which published high-end limited editions of hardcover sf aimed at the collectors’ market. Fancyclopedia 3has more about his history.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1997 – Twenty-four years ago this week, the Roar series premiered on Fox. It would last but thirteen episodes, five of which initially would go unaired. This sort of Celtic fantasy had Heath Ledger in the lead role, his first genre undertaking. The series also starred Vera Farmiga, Lisa Zane, John Saint Ryan, and Sebastian Roché. The show was created by Shaun Cassidy after the success of of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess but it truly bombed. It certainly didn’t help that the series was in the same time slot as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Two novels, Roar: A Novel, a prequel, and Roar: The Cauldron, would later be written.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 15, 1931 — Clive Cussler. Pulp author with definite genre leanings. If I had to pick his best novels, I’d say that would be Night Probe and Raise the Titantic, possibly also Vixen 03. His National Underwater and Marine Agency, a private maritime archaeological group, has found several important wrecks including the Manassas, the first ironclad of the Civil War. (Died 2020.)
Born July 15, 1944 — Jan-Michael Vincent. First Lieutenant Jake Tanner in the film version of Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley. Is it worth seeing? Commander in Alienator and Dr. Ron Shepherd in, and yes, this is the name, Xtro II: The Second Encounter. Not to mention Zepp in Jurassic Women. As Airwolf counts as genre, he was helicopter pilot and aviator Stringfellow Hawke in it. (Died 2019.)
Born July 15, 1947 — T. E. D. Klein, 74. Horror writer with two awards to his name, one a BFA for The Ceremonies novel, another a World Fantasy Award for his “Nadelman’s God” novella. He was editor of the Twilight Zone Magazine in the mid Eighties and the Night Cry zine for several around that time.
Born July 15, 1957 — Forest Whitaker, 64. His best known genre roles are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Saw Gerrera and in The Black Panther as Zuri. He’s had other genre appearances including Major Collins in Body Snatchers, Nate Pope in Phenomenon, Ker in Battlefield Earth for which he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor, Ira in Where the Wild Things Are, Jake Freivald In Repo Men (anyone see this?) and he was Host of Twilight Zone.
Born July 15, 1963 — Brigitte Nielsen, 58. Red Sonja! What’d a way to launch your film career. Mind you her next genre roles were 976-Evil II and Galaxis… Oh well… She starred as the Black Witch in the Nineties Italian film series Fantaghiro, and played the Amazon Queen in the Danish Ronal the Barbarian.
Born July 15, 1967 — Christopher Golden, 54. Where to start? The Veil trilogy was most excellent as was The Hidden Cities series co-authored with Tim Lebbon. The Menagerie series co-authored with Thomas E. Sniegoski annoyed me because it never got concluded. Straight On ‘Til Morning is one damn scary novel. His short stories are most excellent thus it’s most fitting his recent The Twisted Book of Shadows collection won a Shirley Jackson Award.
Born July 15, 1951 — Jesse Ventura, 70. He’s actually been in far more genre films that I thought. His first film was Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe which audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a rating of nineteen percent. After that, he’s been in Predator, Running Man, Demolition Man and Batman & Robin.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side has a strange Martian/Wizard of Oz mashup. At least that’s what I think it is.
(14) HIS CUP RUNNETH OVER. At Black Gate, Aaron Starr’s “Long and Winding” is the amusing saga about writing a doorstop-sized novel.
Dear Diary, After Justine’s third encounter with the forces pursuing her, I realized that what this sword-and-sorcery novel needs is some more swords! But Justine has given no hint of any sort of background with weapons. I’ll need to introduce a wise mentor, to teach her the ways of cold steel. Someone grizzled and worldly, cynical and a touch sarcastic.
That’s it! Dear diary, you’re a genius! Her mentor will be her spirit animal! This will kill two birds with one stone, which, I might point out, rules out a bird as her spirit animal, doesn’t it? Tee-hee! Seriously, what sort of animal embodies these qualities? A raccoon springs to mind. They seem sufficiently grizzled and worldly, and are no doubt cynical. But might I be playing into harmful stereotypes? I’ll have to think about that some more.
Later: I have visited the cafe next door, to allow myself a fresh perspective. As I drank a fortifying mug of pressed-almond choco-caf with double-frothed soy, I struck up a conversation with a man who just happens to be a city planner. He confirmed my instincts regarding raccoon-kind, and assured me that, if any urban mammals were to take up arms, they would certainly be among the first to do so….
…Existentialism goes pop in this benchmark of atomic-age science fiction, a superlative adaptation of a novel by the legendary Richard Matheson that has awed and unnerved generations of viewers with the question, What is humanity’s place amid the infinity of the universe? Six months after being exposed to a mysterious radiation cloud, suburban everyman Scott Carey (Grant Williams) finds himself becoming smaller . . . and smaller . . . and smaller—until he’s left to fend for himself in a world in which ordinary cats, mousetraps, and spiders pose a mortal threat, all while grappling with a diminishing sense of himself….
(17) CONSISTENCY. Nothing hits the spot in Schmigadoon like a big bowl of good old corn pudding! Here’s another introductory clip from the forthcoming musical series. Available tomorrow on AppleTV+. View on YouTube. (The stinkers won’t let it be embedded here!)
The six-part series follows a couple (Strong, Key) who stumble on a magical town that lives in a 1940s musical. From there, the pair have to try and find true love.
(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter found another show in touch with Broadway – tonight’s episode of Jeopardy. A contestant had trouble with this. Though they really shouldn’t have.
Category: Broadway Musicals by Setting
Answer: Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists
Wrong question: What is ‘The Little Barber Shop of Horrors?”
Right question: What is ‘Little Shop of Horrors?”
(19) DICK GRAYSON & CO. Titans Season 3 begins airing on HBO Max on August 12.
Titans follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find where they belong. In season three, circumstances draw our heroes to Gotham City, where they will reunite with old friends and face new threats.
(20) BLINDED BY THE LIGHT. Experience the world in Vampire Reality. What We Do in the Shadows returns Sept 2 on FX.
A look into the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of four vampires who have “lived” together for hundreds and hundreds of years in Staten Island.
He has not been able to speak since 2003, when he was paralyzed at age 20 by a severe stroke after a terrible car crash.
Now, in a scientific milestone, researchers have tapped into the speech areas of his brain — allowing him to produce comprehensible words and sentences simply by trying to say them. When the man, known by his nickname, Pancho, tries to speak, electrodes implanted in his brain transmit signals to a computer that displays his intended words on the screen.
His first recognizable sentence, researchers said, was, “My family is outside.”
The achievement, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could eventually help many patients with conditions that steal their ability to talk.
“This is farther than we’ve ever imagined we could go,” said Melanie Fried-Oken, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, who was not involved in the project.
Three years ago, when Pancho, now 38, agreed to work with neuroscience researchers, they were unsure if his brain had even retained the mechanisms for speech.
“That part of his brain might have been dormant, and we just didn’t know if it would ever really wake up in order for him to speak again,” said Dr. Edward Chang, chairman of neurological surgery at University of California, San Francisco, who led the research.
The team implanted a rectangular sheet of 128 electrodes, designed to detect signals from speech-related sensory and motor processes linked to the mouth, lips, jaw, tongue and larynx. In 50 sessions over 81 weeks, they connected the implant to a computer by a cable attached to a port in Pancho’s head, and asked him to try to say words from a list of 50 common ones he helped suggest, including “hungry,” “music” and “computer.”…
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night’s The Late Show: “Welcome back to the cool green hills of Earth,” he said to Sir Richard Branson.
Sir Richard Branson sits down with Stephen after returning from his historic trip to the edge of space, and has some advice for the next billionaire headed to orbit.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
Authors continue to contact the Task Force looking for help. Writers who are missing royalties or royalty statements may fill out this form hosted by SFWA. Anonymity is guaranteed.
“Lee Goldberg, IAMTW, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America bring valuable experience to the Disney Task Force,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, President, SFWA. “Their support demonstrates that writers stand with each other.”
John Palisano, President, Horror Writers Association (HWA), said, “The HWA is proud to be part of the Disney Task Force alongside SFWA, RWA, MWA, and many other organizations focused on writers. We believe writers must be paid and should not have to jump through hoops for that to happen. We’re hoping Disney will come to the table and cooperate with author organizations that are providing support to authors and agents so that there is a clear path going forward. We are all wishing for a resolution that will continue the great creative relationships that have been built over many decades.”
“Since we launched the Task Force, progress has been made; we are pleased that a few writers have been paid,” said Kowal. “However, we do notice the difference in how the lower profile writers are being treated. We should not still be having the discussion about honoring their contracts.”
Fans, fellow writers, and the creative community have taken to social media to support the authors being helped by the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force. Because of their passion, the message is being delivered.
For writers to be paid, people need to continue to buy their books and watch their movies and programs. The Task Force strongly feels that a boycott will only hurt writers.
There are ways fans and supporters can help.
Do not boycott, as this will disproportionately affect those authors who are being paid.
Use #DisneyMustPay on social media. Help is needed to bring the task force’s five action items to the attention of Disney’s decision-makers.
The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is making sure writers’ working conditions are fair and safe, but individual negotiations are, rightly, between the authors, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns.
Mystery Writers of America today announced the nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2020. The 75th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 29, 2021.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (Penguin Random House – Random
Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney (Poisoned Pen Press)
Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Penguin Random House – Pamela Dorman Books)
These Women by Ivy Pochoda (HarperCollins Publishers – Ecco)
The Missing American by Kwei Quartey (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
The Distant Dead by Heather Young (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March (Minotaur Books)
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen (Simon & Schuster – Gallery Books)
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (HarperCollins Publishers – Ecco)
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman (Blackstone Publishing)
Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
The Keeper by Jessica Moor (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books)
East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper 360)
BEST FACT CRIME
Blood Runs Coal: The Yablonski Murders and the Battle for the United Mine Workers of America by Mark A. Bradley (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg (Hachette Book Group – Hachette Books)
Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic by Eric Eyre (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch (Penguin Random House – Random House)
Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife by Ariel Sabar (Penguin Random House – Doubleday)
Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club edited by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper360/Collins Crime Club)
Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)
Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Erin E. MacDonald (McFarland)
Guilt Rules All: Irish Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction by Elizabeth Mannion & Brian Cliff (Syracuse University Press)
This Time Next Year We’ll be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press)
BEST SHORT STORY
“The Summer Uncle Cat Came to Stay,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Leslie Elman (Dell Magazines)
“Etta at the End of the World,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Joseph S. Walker (Dell Magazines)
“The Twenty-Five Year Engagement,” In League with Sherlock Holmes by James W. Ziskin (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)
Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Workman Publishing – Algonquin Young Readers)
Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Penguin Random House Canada – Puffin Canada)
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage (Random House Children’s Books – Crown BFYR)
Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders (Sourcebooks Young Readers)
BEST YOUNG ADULT
The Companion by Katie Alender (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
They Went Left by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
Silence of Bones by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)
The Cousins by Karen M. McManus (Penguin Random House – Delacorte Press)
BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
“Episode 1, The Stranger” – Harlan Coben’s The Stranger, Written by Danny Brocklehurst (Netflix)
“Episode 1, Open Water” – The Sounds, Written by Sarah-Kate Lynch (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1, Photochemistry” – Dead Still, Written by John Morton (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Des, Written by Luke Neal (Sundance Now)
“What I Know” – The Boys, Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine, based on the comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Amazon)
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“The Bite,” Tampa Bay Noir by Colette Bancroft (Akashic Books)
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur Books)
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart (Minotaur Books)
The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
Cold Wind by Paige Shelton (Minotaur Books
THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD
The Burn by Kathleen Kent (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King (Penguin Random House – Ballantine Books)
Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht (Tin House Books)
Dead Land by Sara Paretsky (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
Turn to Stone by James W. Ziskin (Start Publishing – Seventh Street Books)
ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
Reagan Arthur, Publisher – Alfred A. Knopf
We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Ellery Queen award is Reagan Arthur. She is currently the publisher at Alfred A. Knopf, after a lengthy career in editorial and editorial development. Amongst the authors she has worked with over the years include names like Michael Connelly and Kate Atkinson, and also the enormously successful Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow. When informed of her selection as recipient of the Ellery Queen Award, Ms. Arthur commented, “Crime fiction has always been an important part of my life as a reader and as an editor. So it’s a great honor to join the illustrious list of recipients of the Ellery Queen Award, and to be selected by the MWA, an organization that has done so much on behalf of writers, booksellers, and readers.”
Audible has deflected criticism of their returns policy by curtailing the time when a return would be charged against a writer’s royalties from a year to seven days. However, the authors who initially raised the issue question what difference that will make.
As File 770 reported in November (see “How Audible’s Returns Policy Exploits Writers”), Audible, the audiobook publisher/distributor, stands accused of attracting readers to pay its monthly membership premium by encouraging customers to exchange a book they’re done with for another they want to listen to – becoming in effect a rental library. By treating the first sale as a return, Audible deprives the author of what they should have earned on a work that was bought and enjoyed.
Amazon’s company ACX is a self-serve audiobook production platform, and Audible is its audiobook sales outlet. The adjustment to the returns policy was announced in “A Note from ACX” at the Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (November 24):
…The intent of this program is to allow listeners to discover their favorite voice, author, or story in audio. In instances where we determine the benefit is being overused, Audible can and does limit the number of exchanges and refunds allowed by a member. But as designed, this customer benefit allows active Audible members in good standing to take a chance on new content, and suspicious activity is extremely rare.
We hope this helps convey perspective to our valued writers and ACX partners as to the impact of our current returns policies. However, in recognition of these concerns, moving forward and effective as of January 1, 2021, Audible will pay royalties for any title returned more than 7 days following purchase.
Susan May, one of the leaders in bringing these issues to public attention, told The Alliance of Independent Authors why she is not satisfied:
“In offering authors the burden of bearing the cost of a return up to seven days of purchase, and Audible then assuming that cost for the balance of the 365 days of the ‘Easy Exchange’ [membership] benefit, we still have no idea of the value of this concession. It’s our belief that most customers would return a book in the first seven days after listening, and then a smaller percentage will return thereafter. This is a reusable credit as we’ve seen, and so we may still be enduring substantial losses.
“Audible has no mechanism in place that we have found through multiple tests which prevents overuse of this ‘Easy Exchange’ program. They’ve also given no indication that they do in fact prevent someone from returning a book once a majority of it has been consumed, or limit the exchanges and refunds allowed by members.
“Therefore, this begs the question: Why won’t Audible/ACX supply authors and publishers with their returns data in a timely and open fashion?”
May also realizes that Audible will not really be out of pocket by paying two authors a royalty on the expenditure of one subscriber credit. The company will be diluting the royalties on returns beyond the seven-day widow as a function of increasing the number of sales among which Audible divides the authors’ share of monthly subscription income. May said on her own blog enty, “Audiblegate 2: The Emperor’s New Clothes Policy, Pot Theory, Unicorns & Pirates”:
…Under the new returns policy, the Emperor’s New ClothesPolicy, a subscriber can still “exchange” an audiobook in the exact same way, up to 365 days later. The only difference is that if a user exchanges a book after 7 days, both Author #1 AND Author #2 will receive the royalty for their sale.
Ooh, that seems good, and even if most of them are returned in the first seven days, that’s still something, right?
Well, no, because these returns after seven days are still potentially deducted from the exact same pot of money we all share. It’s still lost to authors and not being worn by the oh, so, magnanimous Audible, the party with the overly large share of the profit split.
…The Authors Guild appreciates that Audible has acknowledged the concerns raised by authors and has shown a willingness to make changes to its policy so that authors lose their royalties only if an audiobook is returned within seven days of purchase rather than the current 365, but their proposal does not go far enough. For high volume audiobook listeners, a seven-day period is more than enough to listen to a whole audiobook, and it is not fair to deduct the author’s royalty for books that have been or could have been listened to. This practice is unparalleled in digital media retail. We think that royalties should only be deducted in cases of accidental purchase and within a much shorter period of time, such as 48 hours, and only if the audiobook hasn’t been listened to substantially. We have communicated this to Audible. We have also asked Audible for transparency in their reporting so that authors can see the royalty deductions from their accounts; currently authors only see the net amounts – the number of books sold minus returns.
Many other author organizations have now joined the protest reports Publishing Perspectives.
The Dramatists’ Guild
The UK-based international Alliance of Independent Authors
The Writers’ Union of Canada
The Irish Writers Union
The Australian Society of Authors
The Society of Authors in the United Kingdom
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America;
The Romance Writers of America
Sisters in Crime
The Mystery Writers of America
May encourages writers to join the Facebook group she helped start where they can keep informed and work together to get Audible to treat them fairly.
Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announced the recipients of two special awards on November 23. Charlaine Harris and Jeffery Deaver are the 2021 Grand Masters, and the 2020 Raven Award recipient is Malice Domestic, a mystery convention. The awards will be presented at the 75th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony on April 29, 2021.
One of the new grand masters is of sff interest as well, because Charlaine Harris has written a lot of paranormal mysteries, most notably the Sookie Stackhouse series.
MWA Grand Master Award
MWA President Meg Gardiner said —
Mystery Writers of America is thrilled to honor Jeffery Deaver and Charlaine Harris as MWA’s 2021 Grand Masters. Over the course of decades, Deaver and Harris have gripped tens of millions of readers while broadening the reach of the genre with transformative books—notably, Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, and Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels—and while generously encouraging and supporting fellow writers and the reading public. We’re delighted to recognize their achievements.
MWA’s Grand Master Award “represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. “
Jeffery Deaver has published more than forty novels since the early 1990’s, including two series besides the Lincoln Rhyme novels, numerous stand-alone and short story collections.
On being notified of the honor, Deaver said:
When I was a (relatively) young writer new to this business of penning novels, many years ago, the first professional organization I joined was Mystery Writers of America. Signing on felt to me like coming home—being welcomed into a community of fellow authors willing to share their expertise and offer support in a profession that was largely, well, a ‘mystery’ to me. Besides, how could I not join? MWA was the real deal; for proof, one had only to look at those in the ranks of the Grand Masters: Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, James M. Cain . . . and so many others whose works populated my bookshelves. Yet it never once occurred to me, in all my years as a member and my two terms as president, that I might be invited into those very ranks. I wish to express by boundless gratitude to MWA for this honor, which stands, without question, as the highpoint of my career.
Charlaine Harris has published 13 novels in the Southern Vampire series (adapted into the popular HBO series True Blood), which proved so popular that at one point her novels took half of the top ten slots on New York Times’ bestseller list. Her other series include the Aurora Teagarden novels, the Lily Bard (Shakespeare) books, the Midnight Texas trilogy (adapted for television) and numerous others, as well as several standalones.
Harris said of her selection:
This is like winning the lottery and the Pulitzer Prize in one day. I am so honored and thrilled to join the ranks of revered writers who are Grand Masters. I thank the MWA Board from the bottom of my heart.
The Raven Award
Malice Domestic mystery conference, founded in 1989 and held every spring since, will receive the 2021 Raven Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.
Malice Domestic focuses primarily on traditional mysteries, their authors and fans, and also presents the Agatha Awards, with six categories.
(1) PUBLISHER CUTS TIES WITH MYKE COLE. Angry Robot, which published their first Myke Cole book, Sixteenth Watch, in March, says they won’t be bringing out any more.
Cole previously had a trilogy published by Tor, and another series by Ace.
Cole also has been dropped by his agent.
Vault Comics canceled Hundred Wolves, where Myke Cole was the writer. The series was set to begin in September.
Cole apologized for his behavior, and reiterated an apology from 2018 — and then said he was “exiting…the public square…for the foreseeable future.”
(2) THE ROOM WHERE IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN. Foz Meadows suggests ways to understand and navigate the sff social scene. Thread is compiled at Threadreader.
Foz kicks off with this tweet –
— but spends more time on issues like these:
(3) THE PROMISE OF ANGER IS AN ILLUSION. Alexandra Erin also discusses ethical ideas that may be helpful in deciding how to handle social situations: “More In Sorrow Than In Anger”. Tagline: “On what we choose to do when all our sins are remembered.”
This is not the piece I had planned on writing this week. While I cannot ignore national politics or world events, the professional community of which I am a part – that of the science fiction and fantasy literary profession – has been imbroiled with a wave of revelations of misconduct by some of the big fish in our small ponds of convention circuits, mentor programs, and what passes for royalty and nobility in our petty fiefdoms.
… At some points in our lives, all of us will find ourselves in a situation where the next thing we do will either make others very sad or very angry.
Sometimes this will be entirely outside your control. Sometimes you are placed in a situation through no fault of your own where nothing you do will make others happy, and in fact anything you do will likely leave them unhappy.
This is not about those times.
This is about the times when you do something, or are party to something, or fail to prevent something that is hurtful and harmful to others. Maybe you didn’t see it that way. Maybe you didn’t intend to do anything wrong.
But it’s true nonetheless that you’ve caused damage and now the question is what to do about it. What to say about it. Where to go next.
(4) WORD PICTURE. Catherynne M. Valente offered a way of looking at recent developments.
Since June 15, 2020, when artist/writer Cameron Stewart was widely accused of abusing his clout to prey on aspiring teenage comic book creators, the industry has continued to be rocked by allegations of other prominent figures sexually harassing, assaulting, or coercing their colleagues. Other creators have also begun to speak out about general sexism in the industry.
This list of recent allegations will continue to be updated….
(6) KEENE’S COMMENTS. In last night’s episode of The Horror Show With Brian Keene, he said the show’s team was aware of 10 cases of allegations involving everything from sexual coercion to sexual assault that have been made “against ten different individuals in the comic book, horror, science fiction, book-selling, convention organizer, and cosplay sectors of our industry — all of which had publicly come to light in the last 7 days.”
When Keene followed up the podcast today with a public Patreon post, “Behind Closed Doors”, he said the number is up to 17.
…When we started out, we were lifted up by those who came before us. Now, we spend a good part of each day lifting up those who are following our trail. But while we may be able to speak with some authority on the quality of that person’s writing or art or directorial abilities, and while we may speak to them via email or phone or social media — at the end of the day, we don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors.
…Ignorance is not an excuse. But I do believe that we as creators, in the process of lifting up others and celebrating others, must always remember that we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And if those doors are opened and we see what goes on, and it is harmful to individuals or to our greater community, then we have a duty to speak out about it and our association with that person going forward, as I did with Chandler.
I believe we can separate the art from the artist. I also believe we can separate the artist from their associations. I believe that once their associations come to light, we should take a moment — just a moment — and look at it with some nuance. If the artist was associated with something like Stormfront, and was secretly posting hate-screeds, okay, yeah, fuck that person right in the ear. But there’s a big difference between that and Tweeting, “Hey, check out this other author’s book.”
We as creators have a responsibility when it comes to our platforms and our reach. If we’ve lifted up an artist who is later alleged to have done something harmful to individuals in our community, or to the community itself, I think it is our absolute duty to speak on that candidly and honestly and urgently. And that can be difficult. I think the most heartbreaking thing about Kelly Sue DeConnick’s two videos regarding the Warren Ellis allegations is not what she says — but what she doesn’t say. The hurt and bewilderment that is there in her expression. The pain left unvoiced. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to speak out like that, but she was right to do so. To not address it, after years of Ellis lifting her up to his audience and she (in all fairness) lifting him up to her audience, would have been a disservice to the larger community.
Due to allegations made against one of our members, on Wednesday evening, June 24, 2020, the Board of Directors of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) voted to suspend the membership of the accused member, pending the outcome of our investigation. Mystery Writers of America takes the safety of our members at industry events, whether sponsored by MWA or not, very seriously and will continue to work towards a goal of making every event safe for everyone who attends. We are currently working with our legal advisors on developing a more comprehensive code of conduct, which will be completed and made public shortly.
Eight of 10 board members and the executive director have resigned from International Thriller Writers, a professional association which has faced widespread criticism for its responses to the Black Lives Matters protests and an author’s allegations she was harassed during a writers conference.
Criticism of the ITW emerged last week when novelist Laurie Chandlar announced on Twitter that she had stepped down from her position as Debut Author Chair.
“I and another female author brought serious concerns to the ITW board regarding a male author’s behavior at an industry event. They were summarily and callously dismissed,” Chandlar wrote. “For years I’ve heard of women being harassed, groped, and cornered at industry events. And even with serious complaints involving a police report, it seems some leaders have preferred over the years to just sweep it all under the rug.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 26, 1905 – Lynd Ward. His striking Gods’ Man, a novel in woodcuts, has no words; an artist sells his soul for a magic paintbrush, which seemed a good idea, but ha ha; there’s a Dover edition; the title alludes to Plautus’ Bacchides Act IV sc. 2, “Whom the gods favor, dies young”. LW did a fine illustrated edition of Frankenstein; won the Caldecott Medal; with wife May McNeer, other notable work, e.g. Prince Bantam about Yoshitsune and Benkei who although historical people are also the stuff of legend. Here is another LW image. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born June 26, 1910 – Elsie Wollheim. One of the original Futurians. Wife and then widow of Donald A. Wollheim, co-founded DAW Books with him and succeeded him at his death. Guest of Honor at WisCon 5, Lunacon 26, DeepSouthCon 33, L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon (some use Roman numerals, some don’t) chaired by Our Gracious Host. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born June 26, 1929 – Milton Glaser, 91. Graphic designer. Made the logograph for DC Comics; also I [heart] NY which, since I’ve lived there, I invite you to consider as possible fantasy, but I loved it, anyway. Two dozen covers for us. Here is A Canticle for Leibowitz. Here is The Man Who Called Himself Poe. Here is a Bob Dylan poster. [JH]
Born June 26, 1929 – Wally Weber, 91. Of Seattle and Huntsville. Co-edited Cry of the Nameless when it won the Hugo for Best Fanzine; chaired the 19th Worldcon; TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate. [JH]
Born June 26, 1936 – Nancy Willard, Ph.D. Wrote Things Invisible to See, four more; four shorter stories; poetry; two or three score other things of which we might claim many; Pish, Posh, said Hieronymous Bosch and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice illustrated by the Dillons; Newbery Medal for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born June 26, 1987 – Zoraida Córdova, 33. Eight novels, of which one is Star Wars and so is a shorter story (in From a Certain Point of View). Having been reared in Queens she naturally writes about Brooklyn Brujas. Co-hosts a podcast Deadline City. [JH]
(10) MUPPETS NOW. The forthcoming Disney+ Muppets show starts July 31.
So the Grateful Dead are launching a deodorant brand, which is not particularly on-brand. It’s true – when you think of the Dead, you don’t right away think fresh scent. But the line is handmade, small-batch and vegan. The fragrances have names like skull and roses and sunshine, overtones of lavender and rose and blood orange and bergamot, respectively. All this meaning your armpits can now glow with the gold of sunshine.
You could help the Curiosity rover navigate Mars by flipping through photos of the red planet’s rocky landscape and labeling what you see.
NASA is asking volunteers to help sort through and label thousands of photographs taken by the rover. The labels, gathered through the AI4MARS program, will help the rover pick a path to reach its next scientific target. The labels will contribute to a machine learning project to help the rover’s path planners pick smooth routes, after years of sharp terrain wore down the rover’s treads, Elizabeth Howell reports for Space.
… Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in 2012. In theory, choosing clear, smooth paths could help extend Curiosity’s useful time on Mars. But by 2017, there was damage on the rover’s zigzagged treads, threatening their ability to carry its four-ton mass. That’s after only driving about 14 miles throughout its mission so far. According to a statement, it can take four to five hours for a team of rover planners to figure out where Curiosity should drive and how it should get there.
The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Netflix over its upcoming film Enola Holmes,arguing that the movie’s depiction of public domain character Sherlock Holmes having emotions and respecting women violates Doyle’s copyright.
Enola Holmes is based on a series of novels by Nancy Springer starring a newly created teenage sister of the famous detective. They feature many elements from Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and most of these elements aren’t covered by copyright, thanks to a series of courtrulings in the early 2010s. Details from 10 stories, however, are still owned by Doyle’s estate. The estate argues that Springer’s books — and by extension Netflix’s adaptation — draw key elements from those stories. It’s suing not only Netflix, but Springer, her publisher Penguin Random House, and the film’s production company for unspecified financial damages.
We’re interested in works of genre fiction (adult and YA crossover only) whose themes include race, gender, and building an equitable society; illness, pandemics, and the post-apocalypse; superheroes and supervillains outside of comics and graphic novels; and witchy dark fantasy. Pitches on other SFF trends are welcome, as is information on series openers/finales. New titles only, please; no reprints. Pub dates: Sept. 2020–Feb. 2021.
… The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday announced that its classic ride Splash Mountain would be “completely reimagined,” amid scrutiny over the ride’s roots in the racist 1946 film “Song of the South.”
The ride will be redesigned to draw from the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” the first Disney animated movie to feature a Black princess. According to Disney, the redesign has been in the works for over a year, though no concrete timeline for its construction and relaunch has been announced. The new ride’s storyline will pick up after Princess Tiana and Louis’ final kiss in the film, and feature music from the movie as the pair prepare for a Mardi Gras performance….
As the industry grapples with how to reopen for production safely, one movie is proceeding with a lead actress who is immune to COVID-19 — because she’s a robot named Erica.
Bondit Capital Media, which financed titles such as To the Bone and the Oscar nominated Loving Vincent, Belgium-based Happy Moon Productions and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media have committed to back b, a $70 million science fiction film which producers say will be the first to rely on an artificially intelligent actor.
Based on a story by visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze, who also produces through Life Entertainment, b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed (Erica) escape.
Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, who created Erica in real life as part of their study of robotics, also taught her to act, applying the principles of method acting to artificial intelligence, according to Khoze….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Howard The Duck Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains why Howard The Duck made no sense.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Dan B., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]