Pixel Scroll 11/17/21 Our Shelves Shall Not Be Emptied, From Birth Until Life Closes

(1) EVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET. A genre novel, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, has won the 2021 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. The award ceremony will be held in person December 1 at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. The novel also won a Bram Stoker Award this year.

(2) ROOT AND BRANCH. The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian’s exploration of “How Your Family Tree Could Catch a Killer” ends with a genetic genealogist’s efforts to find the rest of the story about George R.R. Martin’s ancestors which was first explored on the PBS series Finding Your Roots.

…[CeCe] Moore had first encountered the case years earlier, through “Finding Your Roots.” She began working on the show in 2013, after Henry Louis Gates, Jr., heard her speak in Burbank and hired her on the spot. At first, his producers were skeptical, but within a few episodes Moore had established herself as a force. “We have five geneticists who vet her work,” Gates told me. “There were a couple of things she found that were so astonishing to me—I was, like, ‘We’re going to triple-check this,’ and each of the geneticists said, ‘No, CeCe is absolutely right.’ ”

George R. R. Martin had come on the show hoping to learn more about the family of his father, Raymond….

The genetics indicated that Raymond’s father was not Louie [Martin] but another man, an unknown Ashkenazi Jew.

For Martin, the news was wrenching. “It’s uprooting my world here!” he told Gates on the set. “It doesn’t make any sense! So I am descended from mystery?” After the taping, Martin followed the show’s production crew to a local restaurant, wanting to talk more about what they knew. In the years that followed, he and his sisters strove to solve the mystery, to no avail.

It upset Moore that her work, intended to give people a sense of ancestral belonging, had left Martin with only disconnection. She continued to work the case….

And she thinks that she found the answer, which is revealed in the article.

(3) VINDICATED. Nicholas Whyte has been vindicated. It’s about a professional matter, but comes with a little genre-related highlight. Twitter thread starts here. Some excerpts:

 In April and October last year, the Spanish online newspaper OK Diario published two stories including completely false statements about me, in particular about my alleged contacts with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, who I have never met or even communicated with….

I complained to the Spanish Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología, which has now published its official decision on the matter, finding completely in my favour and against OK Diario. Sometimes it’s worth pushing back to set the record straight….

OK Diario then complained that they had not had a chance to respond….

Now the Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología del Periodismo reports that in fact OK Diario submitted no evidence whatsoever to support their story, and the Comisión has reinstated its original decision vindicating me. (With a quote from Carl Sagan.)

That quote in the RESOLUCIÓN WHYTE is:

Aunque, siguiendo la conocida máxima del pensador Carl Sagan, “la ausencia de 6 pruebas no es prueba de ausencia”, no es posible pedir al señor Whyte que justifique documentalmente una aseveración negativa.

In English: “The absence of proof is not the proof of absence.”

(4) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. The National Book Award winners were announced today. None of the works of genre interest won. The full list of winners is here. They will receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. See the online video ceremony here.

(5) IN TRANSLATION. Tove Jansson’s Notes From An Island has just been translated into English by Thomas Teal. Read an excerpt at Granta.

… Failing to wait when what you’re waiting for is your own majestic goal, that’s just unforgivable.

What was I thinking that time at Vesuvius? I’d really like to know. I mean, there he was, acting up a bit, and I was there! I was nineteen years old, and I’d waited all my life to see a mountain spitting fire. The moon was out, fireflies too; the earth was aglow – and what did I do? I dutifully took the tourist bus back to the hotel in order to drink my tea and go to bed! Who takes the time to sleep when a thing is finally happening? I could have stayed there all night and had Vesuvius all to myself….

(6) SOCIAL IMMEDIATELY. Don’t Look Up arrives in select theaters December 10 and on Netflix December 24.

Based on real events that haven’t happened – yet. DON’T LOOK UP tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

(7) BIG BIRD ALMOST EATS MOON. “A partial lunar eclipse, the longest in 580 years, is coming Thursday night”MSN.com has details.

Skywatchers on Thursday night will be treated to a near-total lunar eclipse as the full moon is plunged into the blood-red light cast by Earth’s shadow. The spectacle will be visible from all of North America, with the exception of eastern Greenland, including the entire Lower 48, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as parts of South America and Russia.

Though it’s technically not a total lunar eclipse, it’s about as close as one can get to totality without actually being there. At peak, 97 percent of the moon will be covered by the umbra, or the darkest part of Earth’s shadow. Only a sliver on the bottom left of the moon will remain faintly illuminated.

A striking element of Thursday night’s eclipse will be its duration — 3 hours, 28 minutes and 24 seconds, according to Space.com, which it says makes it the longest partial eclipse in 580 years….

(8) HAVE FUN STORMING THE CASTLE. Going under the hammer in Heritage Auctions’ Books Signature Auction on December 9-10 is this “Princess Bride Production Sign. Circa 1987”. The current bid is $500. Feel free to spend more – as you wish!

(9) ANGRY ROBOT BOOKS PRESENTS. Dan Hanks has been busy celebrating the release of his action-packed, humorous, fantasy adventure, Swashbucklers on November 9 —  “a Ghostbusters meets The Goonies tale of nostalgia for childhood, parenthood, British folklore, and Christmas…but make it less Santa, more Gremlins!”

On November 18 Dan will be hosted by Adam Simcox, author of The Dying Squad a fantasy and crime mash-up, with a spectral police force made up of the recently deceased. See their conversation on YouTube or Facebook beginning 8:00 p.m. GMT / 3:00 p.m. Eastern

Celebrate the long-awaited release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife as they talk about their favourite movies in the series, lots of other 80s gems, the supernatural beings in their books, and general mayhem I suspect! Join the Live Chat on either platform to submit your own favourite Ghostbusters movie, or scene, or indeed any other cult classic from the era you loved!

 (10) GET READY FOR WEIRD TALES CENTENARY. Publishers Weekly reports “Weird Tales Partners with Blackstone Publishing”.

Blackstone Publishing has inked a deal with horror, sci-fi, and fantasy brand Weird Tales and its flagship publication of the same name. Under the agreement, Blackstone will publish 50 books under the Weird Tales Presents brand over the course of five years, including original novels, anthologies, and compilations. Blackstone will publish the books in print, e-book, and audiobook editions.

Blackstone will also distribute the digital and audio versions of the Weird Tales magazine. The first novel under the new partnership is set to be released in fall 2022, followed by 100 Year Weird Tales Commemorative Anthology, which reimagines original works from the 1920s and 30s, in fall 2023. 

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2001 — Twenty years ago the Justice League animated series premiered on the Cartoon Network. It was the seventh series of the DC Animated Universe. The series ended after just two seasons, but was followed by the Justice League Unlimited, another series which aired for an additional three seasons.  It’s largely based off the Justice League created by editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox in the Sixties.  

It has a stellar primary voice cast of George Newbern as  Superman / Clark Kent, Kevin Conroy as Batman / Bruce Wayne,  Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash / Wally West, Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern / John Stewart, Susan Eisenberg  as Maria Canals-Barrera as Hawkgirl / Shayera Hol, Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter / John Jones  and Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman / Princess Diana. In a neat piece of later casting, Lumbly will be J’onn J’onnz’s father, M’yrnn in the Arrowverse and on Supergirl

It lasted for fifty-two episodes and featured scripts from such writers as John Ridley, Dwayne McDuffie, Pail Dini, Butch Lukic and Ernie Altbacker. 

It received universal acclaim and IGN lists it among the best animated series ever done. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a near perfect ninety-eight percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 17, 1925 Raymond Jones. Best remembered for This Island Earth, which of course became the basis of the Fifties film. He didn’t win any Hugos but was nominated for two — the first at NyCon 3 for “Rat Race” and the second, a Retro Hugo, for “Correspondence Course” at L.A.con III. SFE calls Renaissance: A Science Fiction Novel of Two Human Worlds his best novel. (Died 1994.)
  • Born November 17, 1931 Dennis McHaney. Pulp writers in particular seem to attract scholars, both amateur and professional. Robert E. Howard was not an exception. So I give you this individual who between 1974 and 2008 published The Howard Review and The Howard Newsletter. Oh, but that was hardly all he did as he created such pubs as The Fiction of Robert E. Howard – A Pocket ChecklistRobert E. Howard in Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet and The Souk and The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. A listing of his essays and other works would take an entire page. It has intriguing listings such as Frazetta Trading CardsThe Short, Sweet Life and Slow Agonizing Death of a Fan’s Magazine and The Films of Steve Reeves. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 17, 1936 John Trimble, 85. Husband of Bjo Trimble. He has assisted her in almost all of her SF work, including Project Art Show. They were GoHs at ConJose, the 2002 Worldcon. He’s a member of LASFS. He’s been involved in far too many fanzines and APAs too list here.
  • Born November 17, 1943 Danny DeVito, 78. Oscar-nominated Actor, Director, and Producer whose best-known genre role was as The Penguin in Batman Returns (for which he received a Saturn nomination), but he also had roles in Matilda (which he directed, and which was based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name), Mars Attacks!Men in BlackBig FishJunior, and the black comedy cult film Death to Smoochy, about an anthropomorphic character actor, which JJ thought was hilarious. He provided the voice for the credential detective Whiskers in Last Action Hero, as well as for characters in Look Who’s Talking NowSpace Jam, the My Little Pony movie, HerculesThe LoraxAnimal Crackers, and  Dumbo.
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 55. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The Authority, BatmanCaptain AmericaDaredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series which has been rumored to be in development for TV. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well-done. He’s a member of the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan. 
  • Born November 17, 1978 Rachael McAdams, 43. Primary cast as Clare Abshire in the The Time Traveler’s Wife which was she followed up genre wise by being Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. She also plays Christine Palmer in Dr. Strange. Her sole series work is apparently as Christine Bickwell in the “Atavus High” episode of the Earth: Final Conflict series.
  • Born November 17, 1978 Tom Ellis, 43. Currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the rather excellent Lucifer series created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg from The Sandman series. It’s quite good. Also had roles in Doctor Who as Tom Milligan in the Tenth Doctor story, “Last of the Time Lords”, Once Upon a TimeMessiahThe Strain and Merlin
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 38. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books EragonEldestBrisingr, and Inheritance. In December of last year, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006.

(13) WATERSTONES. The 2021 Waterstones Book of Year shortlist includes some titles of genre interest. See the titles in The Guardian“Cosy crime and Greek myth retellings: the Waterstones book of the year shortlist”.

(14) VOTE FOR AN IRISH BOOK AWARD. The shortlists for the 2021 An Post Irish Book Awards has been announced and the awards are open for voting by anybody with an e-mail address: “An Post Irish Book Awards 2021 shortlists revealed”. There is no SFF category, but they have a crime and thriller category. Plus, Noel King, a poet with whom Cora Buhlert shared a TOC many years ago, is nominated in the poetry category.

(15) THE HUMAN RACES. “Mystery and Prehistory: PW Talks with Jeff Smith” at Publishers Weekly.

Smith returns with Tuki: Fight for Fire (Cartoon Books, Dec.), a comics series that combines research and fantasy, and is set during the period in prehistory when multiple humanoid species coexisted.

Were there places where you had to guess about the science?

The biggest leap I had to make was: Could Tuki talk? There’s debate on either side, scientifically. But when you look at the underside of our ancestors’ skulls, a few million years ago, they had a voice box long enough to modulate sound. Also, molds from inside the skull show they had Broca’s areas, which is a major speech center in the brain. So, if they didn’t have speech, they were the first ones with all the equipment…

(16) IN PLAIN SIGHT. You’re not surprised to learn that Jon Del Arroz is evading his Twitter ban (with more than one account, actually) by posting as “The Real JDA” at the @LeadingHispanic, are you?

(17) AND THE HORSE HE RODE IN ON. Cora Buhlert has penned “The Tale of Declan, Disruptor of Doors”, the misadventures of Declan Finn in Italy retold as a sword and sorcery tale. It harkens back to an indignant rant from that Sad Puppy about his travels abroad during the pandemic.

In an age undreamt of, after the Supreme Lord of Darkness descended from his mountain to lead the Hounds of Sadness in their assault against the sinful cities on the coast, but before the scarlet plague swept the land, there lived in a barbaric country a young bard named Declan.

Declan was a rising star among the bards of his land. His name was spoken with admiration in the taverns and around the camp fires. Last year, he had even been runner-up in the bardic contest of the Great Dragon Atalanta, losing only to Bryan, the Grand Hunter of Witches. Declan was still sore about that…..

(18) HELLO, MASTER CHIEF. A teaser dropped for Halo the Series which is coming to Paramount+ next year.

(19) GHOST-FILL-IN-THE-BLANKERS. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson showed up on Fallon last night and chatted about Ghostbusters and even showed outtakes from the original movie before they secured the rights to use “Ghostbusters” in the title.

(20) HOW IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED. The How It Should Have Ended gang, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, takes on Shang-Chi in this video which dropped today.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Nicholas Whyte, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 10/6/21 Magical Mystery Scroll

A lot of catching up to do. Let’s get started!

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll turns his panel loose on a story that was heavy, deep, and real in 1971 and won Theodore Sturgeon his first Hugo late in his career.

Theodore Sturgeon was a widely beloved author whose work, I regret to say, never particularly appealed to me. Thus, aside from More Than Human, I am not widely read in his fiction. In particular, I have not read this specific story. Still, I do know something about ?“Slow Sculpture”, specifically that it won both a Hugo and a Nebula in a year when many observers might have expected some work from either Orbit 6 or Orbit 7 to win. Orbits 6 and 7 were remarkable anthologies, dominating award nominations in their years. For a story to edge out the Orbit stories, it must surely have been of remarkable quality. Right? And no doubt my Young People will as pleased to read ?“Slow Sculpture” now as reader were half a century ago. 

(2) SWECON GOING AHEAD. Fantastika, Swecon this year, has announced the con will run in Stockholm as planned November 19-21. No further postponement due to Covid restrictions is anticipated. (Fantastika was not held last year.) The con’s program is available.

(3) ASTRONOMICON CANCELS. On the other hand, the Astronomicon 13 (Rochester, NY) committee has decided to postpone until 2022 – due to Covid, and the loss of Canadian program participants.

With great sadness we must announce that due to the rise in Covid across the country and the border to Canada not being open yet, we must postpone Astronomicon this year.

Our tentative date for the con is November 4-6, 2022.

Most of our Guests of Honor and a good number of our program participants have signed on for 2022.

We want to bring you the Astronomicon that you deserve, and with the border being closed it causes us to lose between 10-15 program participants. That is unacceptable to us.

Join us next November for a great convention!!

(4) A TRAILER PARK IN WESTEROS. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage frames the trailer for the forthcoming series: “Game of Thrones prequel: why we’ll all be hooked to House of the Dragon”.

…Set two centuries before Game of Thrones, it promises to chronicle the history of the fearsome House Targaryen. Until now, very little has been revealed about the series.

…But now things have changed. A first-look trailer has just been released and, although it is only 70 seconds long, the message couldn’t be clearer. If you liked Game of Thrones, you will like House of the Dragon. And if you didn’t like Game of Thrones, you will probably still watch House of the Dragon so that you can keep up with what everyone else is talking about.

(5) COUNTDOWN. The Horror Writers Association blog kicks off its “Halloween Haunts” series with “The Season Begins by Michael J. Moore”.

…In April, networks air “Halfway-to-Halloween” marathons, and time ceases to usher us away, as we begin to drift toward October.

Toward that shrieking, adolescent laughter. The sound of plastic wrappers, rustling as you walk. The smell of chocolate and caramel, and the feel of wooden doors against your bony knuckles. The shadows of monsters and superheroes, cast by the headlights of idling cars. Orange and black, yellow and green. The satisfaction of picking through your plunder at the end of the night.

This is the start of the holiday season. Not the 31st, but the first of the month. The morning the countdown begins. When slashers take over cable, and costumes go on display. Even non-horror-types catch the bug. Nostalgia beckons our inner children, inviting us to slip on a costume and knock on doors.

In October of 2019, I wasn’t ready for it to end, so I started writing a book centered around my favorite holiday. Then the pandemic struck, and lockdowns provided plenty of time to finish. My publisher, HellBound Books, has prepared it for release around that magical month this year….

(6) BREUER REMEMBERED. There will be a two-hour exhibition about “Amazing Breuer – Miles J. Breuer Czech Surgeon at the Birth of American Scientifiction” at the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles on October 14 starting at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. If you are interested in taking part, send an email to czechconsulatela@gmail.com.

The exhibition is organized to commemorate the 76th anniversary of a passing of the Czech-American writer Miles (Miloslav) J. Breuer, who died in Los Angeles on 14 October 1945.

This early Czech-American science fiction writer was the author of the novel “Paradise and Iron” (1930), one of the first modern science fiction tales to warn of the dangers of a technologically oriented civilization, depicting a humanity threatened by what we today call artificial intelligence, and the co-author (with Jack Williamson) of The Girl from Mars, a thin 24 page work that became the first book in the world to be formally titled as science fiction.

At the turn of the 1920s and 30s, Breuer’s readers viewed this author as a major star of the science fiction genre. Discovered by Hugo Gernsbeck, Breuer contributed to “The Amazing Stories” and other pulp magazines.

He was born in Chicago to the Czech parents. Writing as “Miloslav” – the Czech version of his name – Breuer had published numerous stories also in Czech language (which were subsequently published in English in early science fiction magazines). 

(7) WAR’S IMPACT ON TOLKIEN. Renowned mythopeoic scholar Janet Brennan Croft will discuss Tolkien’s war experience and how war is handled in his writing: “Date with History: J.R.R. Tolkien (Virtual)” for the First Division Museum.  Thursday, October 7 at 7:00 Central. Free. Register at the link.

One of the reasons J.R.R. Tolkien is such a popular author is that he can be read at many levels. For the reader willing to look deeper than the adventure-story surface, there are many important themes in his works. War is one of the themes that runs through all of Tolkien’s books, especially The Lord of the Rings. Particular motifs appear over and over again: the effects of war on individuals, families, and society, whether war can ever be justified, and if so, the proper conduct of war; close friendships among groups of men; the glory and horror of battle. The depiction of war and its effects were drawn from his own life; he served in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme, and two of his sons fought in the Second World War. Like all artists, he absorbed the materials of his own life into his art. This talk will explore his personal experience of war and how it manifested in his legendarium.

(8) NO ONE CAN TALK TO A HORSE, OF COURSE. In a guest post at A Pilgrim in Narnia, Daniel Whyte IV expects Netflix will court controversy by producing a series about one of the books it holds rights to: “There Are No Cruel Narnians: What The Horse and His Boy Can Tell Us About Racism, Cultural Superiority, Beauty Standards, and Inclusiveness”.

Any potential adaptation of The Horse and His Boy will be fraught with minefields. Houston Chronicle editor Kyrie O’Connor claims it isn’t far-fetched to see the fantasy as “anti-Arab, or anti-Eastern, or anti-Ottoman” and suggests a desire to “stuff this story back into its closet.” While Lewis’ Narniad is emotionally stimulating and spiritually moving, it can be overshadowed by issues that led another popular fantasy writer and academic—Philip Pullman of His Dark Materials fame—to call it “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I have ever read.” He wrote that in a 1998 Guardian article titled “The Dark Side of Narnia.” Imagine what will be said about Narnia over twenty-five years later if Netflix dares to adapt The Horse and His Boy. (And I say to Netflix, as Aslan says to Bree, “Do not dare not to dare.”)

Indeed, as author, editor, and (somewhat) defender of C.S. Lewis, Gregg Easterbrook, wrote in The Atlantic two decades ago (partially in response to Pullman’s criticisms):

“Although Narnia has survived countless perils, the Chronicles themselves are now endangered… What’s in progress is a struggle of sorts for the soul of children’s fantasy literature.”

If the struggle is as eschatological as Easterbrook posits—and if Lewis’ reputation is indeed growing “beyond the reach of ordinary criticism” as Pullman argued in his ’98 hit piece—then it’s worth taking the time to look seriously at what the Narnia chronicles tell us about Lewis’ personal views and about the messaging (if any) encoded in the books….

(9) MEMORY LANE

1995 – Twenty-six years ago at Intersection, the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form went to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s two-part series finale, “All Good Things…“.  (Other nominated works were The MaskInterview with the VampireStargate and Star Trek: Generations.) It was directed by Winrich Kolbe from a script written by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. The title is derived from the expression “All good things must come to an end”, a phrase used by Q during the story itself. It generally considered one of the series’ best episodes with the card scene singled out as one of the series’s best ever.  

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 6, 1942 Britt Ekland, 79. She starred in The Wicker Man* as Willow MacGregor, and appeared as a Bond girl, Goodnight, in The Man with the Golden Gun. She was also Queen Nyleptha in King Solomon’s Treasure based off the H. Rider Haggard novels. *There is only one Wicker Man film as far as I’m concerned. Whatever that thing was, it wasn’t Wicker Man. Shudder.
  • Born October 6, 1946 John C. Tibbetts, 75. A film critic, historian, author. He’s written such articles as “The Illustrating Man: The Screenplays of Ray Bradbury” and “Time on His Hands: The Fantasy Fiction of Jack Finney”. One of his two books is The Gothic Imagination: Conversations on Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction in the Media, the other being The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub.
  • Born October 6, 1950 David Brin, 71. Author of several series including Existence (which I do not recognize), the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II.  I’ll admit that the book he could-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me if only for its title. So who’s read his newest novel, Castaways of New Mohave, that he wrote with Jeff Carlson?
  • Born October 6, 1952 Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the long-time head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library and a significant influence on the Canadian SF community. She founded the SF collection with a donation from Judith Merril. She was a founding member of SFCanada, and won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 6, 1955 Donna White, 66. Academic who has written several works worth you knowing about — Dancing with Dragons: Ursula K. LeGuin and the Critics and Diana Wynne Jones: An Exciting and Exacting Wisdom. She’s also the author of the densely-written but worth reading A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature
  • Born October 6, 1955 Ellen Kushner, 66. If you’ve not read it, do so now, as her sprawling Riverside seriesis stellar. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. 
  • Born October 6, 1963 Elisabeth Shue, 58. Best known as Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, she also had roles in Hollow Man and Piranha 3D.
  • Born October 6, 1986 Olivia Jo Thirlby, 35. She is best known for her roles as Natalie in Russian SF film The Darkest Hour and as Judge Cassandra Anderson in the oh-so-excellent Dredd. And she was Holly in the supernatural thriller Above the Shadows.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] The National Book Award Finalists were announced October 5. Finalists of genre interest include:

Fiction

  • Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

Young Readers

  • Kyle Lukoff, Too Bright To See
  • Amber McBride, Me (Moth)

Translated Literature

  • Benjamín Labatut, When We Cease to Understand the World, translated by Adrian Nathan West

Winners will be announced November 17. Winners will receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

(13) THE MISSION. WisCon’s parent organization SF3 has posted a draft revision of its mission statement that emphasizes its opposition to white supremacy and racism generally: “SF3: Interim Mission, Vision, and Values”.

As noted in our Anti-Racism Statement, the SF3 Board is undertaking work to reexamine our organizational mission with the intent to eliminate white supremacy and build an organization and convention where all members can thrive and contribute. In connection to this work, we are sharing interim versions of a mission statement, organizational vision, and a clear statement of our community values which center inclusivity and explicitly reject racism and white supremacy.

These interim statements will guide our work over the next year, including community-wide conversations and strategic planning to develop a permanent and inclusive set of foundational documents for SF3 and its projects, including WisCon.

(14) CONNIE WILLIS’ CHRISTMAS STORY ANTHOLOGY. Steve Rasnic Tem posted a photo of the physical cover on Facebook. The book will be released October 26.

Library of America and Connie Willis present 150 years of diverse, ingenious, and uniquely American Christmas stories

Christmas took on its modern cast in America, and over the last 150 years the most magical time of the year has inspired scores of astonishingly diverse and ingenious stories. Library of America joins with acclaimed author Connie Willis to present a unparalleled collection of American stories about Christmas, literary gems that showcase how the holiday became one of the signature aspects of our culture.

Spanning from the origins of the American tradition of holiday storytelling in the wake of the Civil War to today, this is the biggest and best anthology of American Christmas stories ever assembled. From ghost stories to the genres of crime, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, humor, and horror, stories of Christmas morning, gifts, wise men, nativities, family, commercialism, and dinners from New York to Texas to outer space, this anthology reveals the evolution of Christmas in America–as well as the surprising ways in which it has remained the same.

(15) SHAT TALKS SPACEFLIGHT. Anderson Cooper went one-on-one with William Shatner about his upcoming flight on New Shepard Blue Origin.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

2020 National Book Awards

Congratulations to Charles Yu, winner of the National Book Awards fiction prize for his novel Interior Chinatown. The awards were announced online on November 18.

Although his prize-winning book is not genre, Charles Yu himself is well-known to sff readers as the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. Also, joining series editor John Joseph Adams, he was guest editor of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017.

Here’s the publisher’s description of Interior Chinatown.

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: He’s merely Generic Asian man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but he is always relegated to a prop. Yet every day he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. At least that’s what he has been told, time and time again. Except by one person, his mother. Who says to him: Be more.

Playful but heartfelt, a send-up of Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes, Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterly novel yet.

The judges called the book “a bright, bold, gut punch of a novel. Written in the form of a screenplay with porous boundaries, Yu’s wonderfully inventive work spotlights the welter of obstacles its everyman protagonist must confront in a profoundly racist, rigidly hierarchical world as he does his best—in the story of his own life—to land a decent role.”

Other category winners were:

Young people’s literature

  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Translated literature

  • Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, translated from Japanese by Morgan Giles

Poetry

  • “DMZ Colony” by Don Mee Choi

Nonfiction

  • The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne

Each finalist receives a prize of $1,000, a medal, and a citation from the panel. The five category winners receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. 

Underground Railroad Wins National Book Award

underground-railroad-whitehead

Colson Whitehead won the 2016 National Book Award for fiction for Underground Railroad, the story of Cora, a young slave who escapes captivity in the South. In Whitehead’s novel the historical Underground Railroad is a literal rail network.

“Two steel rails ran the visible length of the tunnel,” Whitehead writes, “pinned into the dirt by wooden crossties. The steel ran south and north presumably, springing from some inconceivable source and shooting toward a miraculous terminus.”

And the stops along the way often are also excursions into the fantastic.

(Note for clarity: This is a different book than Ben Winters’ alternate history Underground Airlines.)