(1) COURT DECISION CURBS A LONGTIME COPYRIGHT REQUIREMENT. [Item by Anne Marble.] In 2018, print-on-demand publisher Valancourt Books sued the U.S. Copyright Office because of the “mandatory deposit” requirement — which required the publisher to send U.S. Copyright Office copies of about 240 of the books they publish. They didn’t have the books on hand and would have had to spend several thousand dollars to produce them. Valancourt faced the possibility of as much as $100,000 in fines.
The legal issues were analyzed by the plaintiff’s law firm Institute for Justice in a 2021 article “Unique Richmond Publisher Will Appeal After D.C. Judge Insists It Must Give the Government Free Copies of Its Books”.
Valancourt is a unique publisher run by James and his husband Ryan Cagle. James is a former lawyer who found his life’s calling reviving and popularizing rare, neglected and out-of-print fiction, including 18th century Gothic novels, Victorian horror novels, forgotten literary fiction and works by early LGBT authors. Founded in 2005, Valancourt has published more than 300 books, all of which they have permission to reprint, winning praise from literature professors and the press alike.
The U.S. Copyright Office is demanding copies of hundreds of books published by Valancourt. If Valancourt doesn’t send the books, they could be subject to fines of $250 per book (plus the retail price of the books), along with additional fines of $2,500 for “willful” failure to deposit the books. But there’s a problem: Valancourt doesn’t have the books. They are a print-on-demand publisher, and giving the federal government free books would damage their business.
An earlier Forbes article (“Why Is The Federal Government Threatening An Indie Book Publisher With $100,000 In Fines?” (2018) also explained:
…[M]andatory deposit was originally required if an owner wanted their works protected by copyright. That requirement was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court—in 1834….
Valancourt lost at the District Court level but won at the U.S. Appeals Court level (read the decision here). Reuters covered the victory: “US appeals court curbs Copyright Office’s mandatory deposit policy”. The Copyright Office says they are reviewing the decision.
(2) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. The Hollywood Reporter passes this on with a grain of salt: “’Ahsoka’ Series Premiere Gets Big Ratings, Disney+ Says”.
According to the streamer, the first episode of the series, starring Rosario Dawson as the titular Jedi, has racked up 14 million views worldwide in the five days after its Aug. 23 debut. Disney+ is using the same methodology for counting a “view” that Netflix has employed for the past couple of months — dividing the total viewing time by the run time for a given title.
In Ahsoka’s case, 14 million views of the 56-minute premiere episode would equate to 784 million minutes of viewing worldwide. “Views” doesn’t necessarily equal “viewers,” however, as the total viewing time doesn’t necessarily account for multiple people watching the show together or a single person watching the episode several times. Disney+ also didn’t release any figures for episode two of Ahsoka, which also premiered Aug. 23.
(3) PRATCHETT PROJECT EVENT. “Terry Pratchett at the Unseen University”, featuring a series of short presentations from researchers of various disciplines, is an in-person and virtual event happening September 22. Tickets available at the link.
The Pratchett Project in Trinity College Dublin is an interdisciplinary platform for research into the life and works of Terry Pratchett. It builds on the comprehensive collection of Pratchett’s works and their translations into forty languages, held in the Trinity College Library, as well as Pratchett’s personal connection with the College, borne out of the adjunct professorship he held from 2010. A further part of this endeavour is driven by Pratchett’s own life story and inclinations. In 2007, Pratchett publicly announced that he had a rare form of young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, called posterior cortical atrophy. He subsequently became a passionate campaigner who was determined to reduce the stigma of dementia. A docudrama on BBC followed the literary career and charitable work of the beloved author.
So, research into brain health is an important part of the Pratchett Project in Trinity College. We are currently developing this strand of the project to find new ways in which the implications of breakthroughs in research can be “translated” for members of the public. We aim to bring people together from various backgrounds and fields to make new connections, to promote public understanding and awareness, to change perceptions and inspire people to support brain awareness campaigns and get involved.
This Culture Night, we will be joined by a wide range of speakers, each discussing their research, which is in some way connected to the life and/or work of Terry Pratchett.
THIS EVENT CAN BE ATTENDED BOTH ONLINE AND IN PERSON.
IT WILL ALSO BE RECORDED AND UPLOADED TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL
(4) AVOID TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Sarah A. Hoyt speaks with the voice of experience in “Starting Your Novel and Need to Know” at Mad Genius Club.
…Anyway, one thing that is becoming painfully obvious as I read people’s beginnings of novels, is that most of you have no idea how much information and world building to put in the beginning of your book.
This is not strange or unusual. I not only went through years of having this issue, but I also revert to this issue whenever I have not written for a long while.
When I fail I have two modes: either I write completely incomprehensible stuff or I write an opening that reads like you’re in a classroom and I’m expecting you to take notes.
But there is a way to handle it. I only figured it with Darkship Thieves, and only after breaking it pretty badly with an extra fifty pages in the beginning.
Anyway, so, what do you need to tell the reader: no more and no less than the reader needs to know.….
(5) GENRE WORK UP FOR KIRKUS PRIZE. The Kirkus Prize announced finalists across three categories, with winners to be named on October 11. The Fiction category shortlist includes White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link and Shaun Tan. Literary Hub explains how the award works.
The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest annual literary awards in the world with the prizes totaling $150,000. Writers become eligible by receiving a rare, starred review from Kirkus Reviews; this year’s 18 finalists were chosen from 608 young readers’ literature titles, 435 fiction titles, and 435 nonfiction titles….
(6) HUANG Q&A. “Reading with… S.L. Huang” at Shelf Awareness.
On your nightstand now:
I don’t actually have a nightstand, but next to my bed or currently on my phone are:
The Search for E.T. Bell: Also Known as John Taine by Constance Reid. It’s the biography of mathematician Eric Temple Bell, who wrote Radium Age science fiction under the pen name John Taine, and it is WILD, because this man?? completely made up??? his entire life??? I read it because I’m writing an intro to a rerelease of his fiction, but his life is fascinating. I love reading about mathematicians!
Lost Ark Dreaming, a novella by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, which I was lucky enough to be sent an advance copy of. I haven’t started this one yet, but I’m looking forward to it!
Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon, which is Wole Talabi’s debut novel–another advanced copy I’m super excited to start reading! I’ve really enjoyed Wole’s short fiction.
And finally, I’m also currently part of a book club reading this podcast version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 3kingdomspodcast.com . We’ve been at it a year, and we’re about a third of the way through! It’s a very, very long book.
(7) THE ART OF ZARDOZ. The Hugo Book Club Blog improved on a meme about good art vs. bad art that has been getting a lot of attention. Their table is effing brilliant. Or zeeing brilliant. You decide.
(8) WITH EXTRA ADDED BRAIN. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Silverworlf explains a fact of TV life in 1968: “[August 30, 1968] TV or Not TV, That is The Question (They Saved Hitler’s Brain and Mars Needs Women)”.
Not all movies show up in theaters. Movies made for television began a few years ago, at least here in the USA, with a thriller called See How They Run. There have been quite a few since then.
A similar phenomenon is the fact that theatrical movies are frequently altered for television. Of course, films are often cut for broadcast, either to reduce the running time or to remove material deemed inappropriate for the tender sensibilities of American viewers.
But did you know that new footage is sometimes added to movies before they show up on TV? That’s because they’re too short to fill up the time slot allotted to them.
An example is Roger Corman’s cheap little monster movie The Wasp Woman. In theaters, it ran just over an hour. On television, new scenes increased the length by about ten minutes.
Wasting time in front of the TV screen recently, I came across such an elongated theatrical film, as well as one made for television only. Let’s take a look at both.
This thing began life in 1963 under the a much less laughable title….
(9) MEMORY LANE
1991 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
To my thinking, there are two great fictional uses of the Babbage Machine that Charles Babbage designed but never built. Oh, and the first complete Babbage Engine was constructed in London in 2002, one hundred and fifty three years after it was designed. So what are those novels?
One is S.M Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers in which the British Empire decamps to India after meteor strikes usher in a new ice age. That novel and his Sky People novels, particularly In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, are my favorite works by him.
Then there’s the one our Beginning comes from which is William Gibson & Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, their name for The Babbage Machine. It was published by Gollancz thirty-three years ago with cover art by Ian Miller.
It was nominated for a number of Awards but didn’t win any. The nominations were a BSFA, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Nebula and a Prix Aurora.
It is at the usual suspects as a Meredith Moment.
And now, as I don’t want to give a single message generated by The Difference Engine, is our Beginning…
THE ANGEL OF GOLIAD
Composite image, optically encoded by escort-craft of the trans-Channel airship Lord Brunel: aerial view of suburban Cherbourg, October 14, 1905.
A villa, a garden, a balcony.
Erase the balcony’s wrought-iron curves, exposing a bath-chair and its occupant. Reflected sunset glints from the nickel-plate of the chair’s wheel-spokes.
The occupant, owner of the villa, rests her arthritic hands upon fabric woven by a Jacquard loom.
These hands consist of tendons, tissue, jointed bone. Through quiet processes of time and information, threads within the human cells have woven themselves into a woman.
Her name is Sybil Gerard.
Below her, in a neglected formal garden, leafless vines lace wooden trellises on whitewashed, flaking walls. From the open windows of her sickroom, a warm draft stirs the loose white hair at her neck, bringing scents of coal-smoke, jasmine, opium.
Her attention is fixed upon the sky, upon a silhouette of vast and irresistible grace—metal, in her lifetime, having taught itself to fly. In advance of that magnificence, tiny unmanned aeroplanes dip and skirl against the red horizon.
Like starlings, Sybil thinks.
The airship’s lights, square golden windows, hint at human warmth. “Effortlessly, with the incomparable grace of organic function, she imagines a distant music there, the music of London: the passengers promenade, they drink, they flirt, perhaps they dance.
Thoughts come unbidden, the mind weaving its perspectives, assembling meaning from emotion and memory.
She recalls her life in London. Recalls herself, so long ago, making her way along the Strand, pressing past the crush at Temple Bar. Pressing on, the city of Memory winding itself about her—till, by the walls on Newgate, the shadow of her father’s hanging falls …
And Memory turns, deflected swift as light, down another byway—one where it is always evening….
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 30, 1797 — Mary Shelley. Author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818), her first novel. Another of Shelley’s novels, The Last Man (1826), concerns Europe in the late 21st century, ravaged by a mysterious pandemic illness that rapidly sweeps across the entire globe, ultimately resulting in the near-extinction of humanity. Scholars call it one of the first pieces of dystopian fiction published. (OGH) (Died 1851.)
- Born August 30, 1942 — Judith Moffett, 81. Editor and academic. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the fame gained for her Pennterra novel helped her win John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Nolacon II. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series. Her Holy Ground series of The Ragged World: A Novel of the Hefn on Earth, Time, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream: A Sequel to the Ragged World and The Bird Shaman are her other genre novels. The Bear’s Babys And Other Stories collects her genre short stories. All of her works are surprisingly available at the usual digital suspects.
- Born August 30, 1943 — Robert Crumb, 80. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang which I think is genre.
- Born August 30, 1955 — Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Thread magazine. She’s here in the gold outfit that she designed and made at Costume-Con 9 which was held February 15-18, 1991 at The Columbia Inn in Columbia, Maryland. (Died 2019.)
- Born August 30, 1955 — Mark Kelly, born 1955, aged sixty eight years. He maintains the indispensable Science Fiction Awards Database (SFADB), which we consult almost daily. He wrote reviews for Locus in the Nineties, then founded the Locus Online website in 1997 and ran it single-handedly for 20 years, along the way winning the Best Website Hugo (2002). More recently he’s devised a way to use his awards data to rank the all-time “Top SF/F/H Short Stories” and “Top SF/F/H Novelettes”. Kelly’s explanation of how the numbers are crunched is here. (OGH)
- Born August 30, 1965 — Laeta Kalogridis, 58. She was an executive producer of the short-lived not so great Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like.
- Born August 30, 1972 — Cameron Diaz, 51. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s cast as an uncredited bus passenger in Minority Report.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Brewster Rockit has an inside comics joke, and it’s a hoot.
- Tom Gauld, meanwhile, has an inside physics joke.
(12) A BIG FAN, EVENTUALLY. Peter Stone shows the evolution of one comics artist’s respect for another: “Mapping Out NEAL ADAMS’ Enduring Respect and Admiration for JACK KIRBY” at 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture.
Like many of us, Neal was not a big fan of Jack Kirby’s art when he was younger. In fact, Neal thought very little about Kirby’s art. IN FACT, Neal kind of hated it…
The transformation of Adams’ opinion began here:
…[Challengers of the Unknown] Issue #4! Chapter 4, “The Mechanical Judge”! The splash page was exactly what Neal was looking for. It had changed the way Neal viewed Jack Kirby when he was just getting into comics. Jack was writing and pencilling these stories and this was Neal’s Dream. His theory was always that artists should be writing their stories. They understood storytelling better than writers, according to Neal. A writer was there to add dialogue and that was “the icing on the cake.” But, in this case, it was the splash page image that blew his mind.
It was all about perspective. Kirby had drawn a futuristic, sci-fi building where the reader can see the bottom, middle and top clearly. The middle of the building is the focus and closest to the reader. However the top of the building AND the bottom of the building curve away and get smaller. Neal would always say it’s wrong but absolutely fascinating. Neal once drew a couple other examples of what Kirby was doing with perspective. The first is a boat with three men in it where the front of the boat comes to a point and the back end of the boat does the same. The widest spot is the middle section. Neal viewed it very much like a cinematic technique; a fish-eye lens that adds drama to the image….
…When Neal was 27 in the late ’60s, he started to realize how unique Kirby was. Fantastic Four was obviously a heightened version of the Challengers. Then, the Hulk, the Avengers, the (almost throwaway) X-Men, Ant-Man, Thor, Black Panther, a revised Captain America and so many others. Neal drew Deadman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Batman, Avengers, the X-Men and so much more while Jack Kirby was changing the comic universe. Neal saw that every page of a Jack Kirby comic had a boldly new idea that someone else could explore and turn into a regular series….
(13) THANKED AND EXCUSED. The actress that Carrie Fisher beat out for her Star Wars role — Terri Nunn — still went on to fame: “’Star Wars’ Princess Leia Runner-Up Wound Up Becoming A Famous Musician” at Slashfilm.
…Lucas said, “Your runner-up? She became a rockstar.” That runner-up was Terri Nunn, the lead singer of the band Berlin, who brought us songs like “Take My Breath Away” and “Metro.” In fact, Nunn’s audition with Harrison Ford is out there (via WishItWas1984) on YouTube. Nunn brought a softness to the part that is very different than Fisher’s interpretation. Frankly, I’m in awe of both of them for making what, at the time, was space gibberish sound compelling.
Nunn spoke about the audition in a 2022 interview with Rave It Up. She said, “I’m sitting there with Harrison Ford, and we’re reading these lines, and I had no idea what the hell is an R2-D2. I don’t know what that is. But I was trying to make it happen.” Nunn would go on to act in projects like “T.J. Hooker,” “Lou Grant,” and “Vega$,” but Fisher just nailed that audition….
(14) HOOCH YOU CAN FIND IN THE DARK. If It’s Hip It’s Here introduces oenophiles to “The latest in global design and creativity”.
The 19 Crimes x Universal Monsters Glow-In-The-Dark Wine Bottles are a must have for lovers of old classic monster movies and Halloween. The wine brand 19 Crimes has launched 2 new wines; a Frankenstein Cabernet Sauvignon and a Dracula Red Blend, both with illustrated labels that illuminate when the lights are out.
… The Frankenstein Cabernet, vintage 2021, is firm and full with a rich mouth feel. Aromatics of dark berries, violets and vanilla….
… The Dracula Red Blend, vintage 2021, is rich and round with a soft fruity finish. Sweet aromatics with notes of chocolate….
The place to buy them is at the 19 Crimes website.
(15) CYBERATTACKS ON TELESCOPES. “Hackers shut down 2 of the world’s most advanced telescopes” at Space.com.
Some of the world’s leading astronomical observatories have reported cyberattacks that have resulted in temporary shutdowns.
The National Science Foundation’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, or NOIRLab, reported that a cybersecurity incident that occurred on Aug. 1 has prompted the lab to temporarily halt operations at its Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii and Gemini South Telescope in Chile. Other, smaller telescopes on Cerro Tololo in Chile were also affected.
… “We plan to provide the community with more information when we are able to, in alignment with our commitment to transparency as well as our dedication to the security of our infrastructure,” the update added.
The cyberattacks on NOIRLab’s facilities occurred just days before the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) issued a bulletin advising American space companies and research organizations about the threat of cyberattacks and espionage. …
(16) WHAT HAS IT GOT ON ITS SPROCKETSES? “Chandrayaan-3: What has India’s Moon rover Pragyaan been up to since landing?” BBC News overviews the rover’s first week of activity.
…Over the past few days, the rover has been hard at work.
On Tuesday evening, Isro said that a laser detector onboard had made “the first-ever in-situ – in the original space – measurements on the elemental composition of the surface near the south pole” and found a host of chemicals, including sulphur and oxygen, on lunar soil.
The instrument “unambiguously confirms” the presence of sulphur, it said, adding that preliminary analysis also “unveiled the presence of aluminium, calcium, iron, chromium, titanium, manganese, silicon and oxygen”.
“A thorough investigation regarding the presence of hydrogen is underway,” it added….
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George’s “Game of Thrones Season 8 Pitch Meeting – Revisited!” is something you may have seen before. There’s some new content at the very end, and his explanation of how he decided which viewer questions to answer is worth skipping ahead to.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Anne Marble, John A. Arkansawyer, Rich Lynch, Kathy Sullivan, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anne Marble.]