The 2023 Origins Awards Finalists were announced by the Game Manufacturers Association on April 24.
The winners will be revealed at the Origins Award Ceremony on June 24.
The 2023 Origins Awards Finalists were announced by the Game Manufacturers Association on April 24.
The winners will be revealed at the Origins Award Ceremony on June 24.
|Castle Panic: Crowns and Quests Expansion||Fireside Games|
|Creature Comforts||Kids Table Board Gaming|
|Flamecraft||Lucky Duck Games|
|Long Shot: The Dice Game||Perplext|
|The Finest Fish||Last Night Games|
|Foundations of Rome||Arcane Wonders|
|Hoplomachus: Victorum||Chip Theory Games|
|Planet Unknown||Adam’s Apple Games|
|Three Sisters||25th Century Games|
|Dead Reckoning||Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)|
|Merchants of the Dark Road||Elf Creek Games|
|My Father’s Work||Renegade Game Studios|
|Tokyo Sidekick||Japanime Games|
|Wonderland War||Druid City Games|
|Cat in the Box||Bezier Games|
|Scout||One More Game!|
|Sea Salt & Paper||Studio Bombyx|
|Turing Machine||Hachette Boardgames|
|Undaunted: Stalingrad||Osprey Games|
|Castle Panic: Second Edition||Fireside Games|
|Disney A Goofy Game||Funko Games|
|HONK!||Sinister Fish Games|
|The Lunch Room Game||EAP Toys and Games|
|Turtle Splash||Lucky Duck Games|
|Flesh and Blood – Uprising||Legend Story Studios|
|Magic the Gathering The Brothers War Collection||Wizards of the Coast|
|Magic the Gathering Universes Beyond Warhammer||Wizards of the Coast|
|Heroclix: Hellfire Gala||WizKids|
|Unmatched: Houdini vs the Genie||Restoration Games|
|Lion Rampant: Second Edition||Osprey Games|
|Northgard: Uncharted Lands||Hachette Boardgames|
|Omicron Protocol||Dead Alive Games|
|Polyversal Sci-Fi Miniatures System||Collins Epic Wargames|
|Blackbirds||Andrews McMeel Publishing|
|Bladerunner the Roleplaying Game||Free League Publishing|
|Coyote & Crow||Coyote & Crow|
|Teatime Adventures||Snowbright Studio|
|The One Ring||Free League Publishing|
|Agents of Dune||Modiphius|
|Blade Runner Starter Box||Free League Publishing|
|Fallout Starter Box||Modiphius|
|Warhammer Fantasy: Enemy Within Volume 5||Cubicle 7 Entertainment|
|Zweihander Starter Box||Andrews McMeel Publishing|
|Call to Adventure Art Decks||Brotherwise Games|
|Deluxe Board Game Train Sets||Little Plastic Train Co.|
|Power Rangers Zordon Dice Tower & GM’s Screen||Renegade Game Studios|
|The Deck of Many Animated Conditions||Hit Point Press|
|The Deck of Many Animated Illusions||Hit Point Press|
|2D ART & ILLUSTRATION:|
|7 Sinners||Mana Project Studios|
|Cowboys with Big Hearts||Bully Pulpit Games|
|Cult of the Deep||B.A. Games|
|Everyday Heroes – The Hunt||Evil Genius Games|
|Galaxy Trucker – Keep on Truckin||Czech Games Edition|
|Fallout: Wasteland Warfare – Super Mutants: Swan||Modiphius|
|Frostgrave – Fireheart Elk||Osprey Games|
|Omicron Protocol – Jugger the Elephant||Dead Alive Games|
|Time Capsules||Red Cat Games|
|Defiant RPG||Game Machinery|
|Dulce||Indie Game Studios/ Stronghold Games|
|Norse Grimoire||Mana Project Studio|
|Pathfinder Savage Worlds Boxed Set||Pinnacle Entertainment Group|
|Tome of Chaos||R. Talsorian Games, Inc.|
|Doctors & Daleks Player Guide||TheRatHole.ca|
|Doctor Who The Roleplaying Game||TheRatHole.ca|
|Grant’s Greatest Games of November||Grant’s Game Recs|
|Mind MGMT Review||Board Game Quest|
|The Best of Origins Game Fair from Grants Game Recs||Grant’s Game Recs|
(1) PRO TIPS. With in-person cons resuming throughout fandom, Cass Morris has advice for “Giving Good Panel” in her latest newsletter.
Practice (and tailor) your introduction
Introducing yourself at the start of the panel isn’t the time to go into your full CV or publication history. It’s not even the time to recite your full 100 word bio that’s printed in the program.
A good formula? “Hi, I’m [name], I’m the author of [most recent publication or series] and [something else relevant to your writing career]. I’m also [whatever your day job is, or if you don’t have one, mention a hobby].”
Then, if there’s anything particularly relevant to the panel I’m on, I’ll mention that. I tend not to go into my background as a Shakespeare scholar, for instance, because that’s usually not directly relevant — but at RavenCon last April, it was! I was on a panel called “Elements of the Fantastic in Shakespeare,” so it was good to establish my credibility to speak on that particular topic.
Keep the intro to your book or series brief — an apposition, just a short phrase. “I’m the author of the Aven Cycle, historical fantasy set in an alternate ancient Rome” or even just “I’m the author of epic fantasy series the Aven Cycle.”…
(2) X CORP. No, not X-corps (a Heinlein reference). X Corp is the successor to Twitter, Inc. — which “no longer exists.” Slate reports “Twitter Isn’t A Company Anymore”.
In a court filing on Tuesday, April 4, Twitter Inc. quietly revealed a major development: It no longer exists. The company is currently being sued by right-wing provocateur Laura Loomer, who accused it of violating federal racketeering laws when it banned her account in 2019. Loomer has a Twitter account again, and her absurd lawsuit is bound to fail—but until it does, Twitter, as a defendant, must continue to submit corporate disclosure statements to the court. And so, in its most recent filing, the company provided notice that “Twitter, Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists.” As the “successor in interest” to Twitter Inc.—that is, the survivor of the merger—X Corp. is now the defendant in Loomer’s suit. Its parent corporation is identified as X Holdings Corp.
(3) BATTLEGROUND LIBRARY. “When the Culture Wars Come for the Public Library” in The New Yorker.
…On a spring day in 2019, Ellie Newell, the youth-services librarian at the main branch, in a historic post office in downtown Kalispell, hosted a special story time for a visiting class of preschoolers. Newell was raised by librarians and had taken the job straight out of graduate school, drawn to Flathead’s reputation for “doing cutting-edge library stuff.” Several years earlier, the library had rebranded to adopt a new name and logo, as well as an updated, possibly foolhardy mission. The Flathead County Library System became the ImagineIF Libraries and set out to use technology and interactive programs to bring together far-flung residents of the county. This new approach earned ImagineIF a John Cotton Dana Award (the equivalent of a library Oscar) and the title of State Library of the Year.
Like most children’s librarians, Newell did a lot of story times and kept a stack of read-aloud books on her desk. She considered it important to mix things up: some books with animals, some with people; some classics, some new releases. At the top of Newell’s pile that day was “Prince & Knight,” a fairy-tale picture book published in 2018. The story features a charismatic dragon, but no lady who wins a warrior’s heart. The romance instead unfolds between the titular prince (a man) and knight (also a man). Newell thought the book was sweet: a bit edgy in its gayness, but still chaste and traditional, culminating in marriage. Her calendar didn’t show any special book requests or even the name of the visiting school, so she grabbed “Prince & Knight” off her desk and went out to read it. She opened her eyes wide behind her glasses and swivelled to connect with every member of her audience. The children giggled and clapped. But, at the end of the reading, their teacher looked upset.
The class had come from a Catholic school, and, a few days later, the teacher wrote to the Daily Inter Lake, a local newspaper, saying how “shocked and grieved” she was by the presentation of a book about “homosexual marriage.” She argued that “such a controversial topic” should not be introduced to “innocent children.”…
…During the pandemic, Flathead became the fastest-growing county in the state, thanks in part to new migration. The arrivals were split between lovers of the outdoors (of various political persuasions) and people in search of a Trumpian refuge from urban ills. The responses to the “Prince & Knight” reading tracked with the county’s divergent politics. Was the story time a sign of open-mindedness or proof that the library was promoting “all these alternative lifestyles,” as one Kalispell man wrote to the Inter Lake? The Catholic schoolteacher filed a formal challenge to “Prince & Knight,” seeking its removal from ImagineIF’s collection. The library director, Connie Behe, recommended that the book be retained because the work as a whole conformed to ImagineIF standards. The final decision was up to the library’s five-member board of trustees….
(4) THEY’VE COME FOR WODEHOUSE! [Item by Dann.] Word minders have come to claim another author. P.G. Wodehouse. “Penguin Removes ‘Unacceptable’ Words from P. G. Wodehouse Novels, Adds Trigger Warnings for ‘Outdated’ Language” reports National Review. Penguin Random House has edited the works of P.G. Wodehouse to remove “unacceptable” prose. Right Ho, Jeeves and Thank You, Jeeves have both been adjusted.
…The warning on the opening pages of the 2023 reissue of Thank You, Jeeves reads: “Please be aware that this book was published in the 1930s and contains language, themes and characterisations which you may find outdated. In the present edition we have sought to edit, minimally, words that we regard as unacceptable to present-day readers.”
The NR article goes on to state that the changes do not affect the story itself. The 2022 edition of Right Ho, Jeeves has also been edited and features the same disclaimer.
Wodehouse, who died in 1975, is known for authoring over 90 books, his oeuvre often hailed as the funniest in the English language. The Jeeves stories follow the idle upper-class gentleman Bertie Wooster and his resourceful valet Reginald Jeeves. The stories served as the basis for the well-known British comedy Jeeves and Wooster, which starred Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. The show was broadcast on ITV in the 1990s.
Racial terminology has been removed throughout the novels. A racial term used to describe a “minstrel of the old school” has been removed in Right Ho, Jeeves. In Thank You, Jeeves, whose plot hinges on the performance of a minstrel troupe, numerous terms have been removed or altered, both in the dialogue between characters and from the first-person narration of Bertie Wooster.
Economics author and Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle has declared that she is abandoning the purchase of classics on Kindle as a result.
Another National Review article has declared such efforts to be the work of a “cabal of history vandals” that bear a strong resemblance to the clueless elites that populate Wodehouse’s works. “The Literature Vandals Don’t Know When to Stop”.
It is an impossible coincidence that the people endorsing retroactive edits to the works of P. G. Wodehouse are the very types of thickheaded dilettantes Wodehouse spent most of his 90 years lampooning.
(5) LANSDALE’S TIPS. The Horror Writers Association blog brings us “Nuts and Bolts: Writing Tips From Master of Horror Joe R. Lansdale”.
On writing action sequences and fight scenes:
“I’m not proud of it,” Joe R. Lansdale said in a recent phone interview, “but I’ve been in a lot of fights. You start to learn what’s real and what isn’t.”
He draws on his background as a martial artist, bouncer, and bodyguard from a rough part of East Texas when writing his fight scenes. Most real fights are over fast, he said, and it’s possible to reflect that in your writing while still giving them impact.
“I always think less is more,” he said. “To make it seem like you’ve given a lot of description, but you haven’t. You’ve chosen the right words. You have to write like a cinematographer. I’ve always found that the greatest thing outside experience is stopping and thinking about it from an observational standpoint. The more you do it, the more you’re able to envision that action sequence.”
For action sequences, he recommends short sentences and paragraphs. Another way of injecting a sense of immediacy is to give it a stream-of-consciousness structure, as in: “I spin and dodge his fist, then hit him with …”
“Some people will say that’s a run-on sentence,” he said. “It isn’t, if it’s done right.”
(6) OF INTEREST TO TOLKIEN AND SFF SCHOLARS. Robin A. Reid has assembled a list of hybrid and virtual conferences of interest to those working in Tolkien studies. The first edition is available at “The Online Conference Project”.
After seeing outstanding presentations at the 2021-22 Virtual PCA conferences by a significant number of Tolkien scholars who had never been able to attend the f2f PCA in the past, and who will not be able to attend future f2f PCA conferences because of the various barriers, I started the Online Conference Project.
My goal is to collect and share information about conferences that are either hybrid (meaning allowing for both virtual and in-person presentations and attendance) or virtual (meaning completely online), especially those of interest to those of us working in Tolkien studies and fantasy/speculative fiction studies generally
… In the list below, I provide basic information: conference name/theme, organization or institution organizing it; proposal submission deadline; delivery mode (hybrid, meaning an online track added to a f2f conference; or virtual, meaning entirely online); registration fee (if available); dates of conference…
(7) SUMMER IN NYC WILL FEATURE BUTLER THEMED OPERA. “Lincoln Center Revives Summer for the City, Hoping to Draw New Fans” – the New York Times says an Octavia Butler-inspired opera will be one of the offerings.
Lincoln Center will bring back its Summer for the City festival this year, the organization announced on Monday, continuing its efforts to attract new audiences by embracing a wide variety of genres, including pop and classical music, social dance and comedy.
An opera based on Octavia E. Butler’s novel “Parable of the Sower,” by the folk and blues musician Toshi Reagon and the composer Bernice Johnson Reagon, will get its New York City premiere at Geffen Hall on July 14.
(8) PAST WORLDCON CHAIR DIES. John Mansfield, chair of the 1994 Worldcon in Winnipeg, died April 19. He was to be fan guest of honor at this year’s NASFiC, Pemmi-Con, also in Winnipeg.
Mansfield co-founded the Ontario Science Fiction Club (OSFiC) in 1966 with other Toronto locals he’d met at that year’s Worldcon, Peter Gill, Mike Glicksohn, Ken Smookler, and Maureen Bournes. Mansfield had decided to attend the Worldcon after reading a series of articles about fandom in If written by Lin Carter.
Mansfield also had a connection to early Star Trek fandom, contributing an article to the 1968 Comerford/Langsam fanzine Spockananalia 2, “Communication From Starfleet Intelligence”, about Klingon military techniques for interrogating Vulcans:
… Since the prisoner will show no emotion, it will be very hard to determine his mental state as he tries to adapt to captivity. They are a proud race, and consider many of the other Galactic races below them. We have found that if one breaks, he will break completely, and all the past frustrations and emotions will pour out. Experienced interrogators describe this as a rather long and sometimes boring experience….
Mansfield served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years, retiring in 1990. While stationed in New Brunswick, he chaired OromoctoCon in 1970, with attendance of about 30, including some fans who drove up from Boston.
He and his wife, Linda Ross-Mansfield, ran the Pendragon Games specialty store at various locations in Winnipeg over the decades. His influence in gaming fandom is reflected in the fact that the Origins Awards, presented at the Origins Game Fair, are referred to as his “brainchild” in the official history.
He helped develop Winnipeg’s regional Keycon. Beginning in 1989 he published ConTRACT, a zine for Canadian conrunners, continuing until 2002. In the last issue he delivered this snapshot of his life at the time:
Here in Winnipeg, I get to do lots. …I’m part of a Media con and a Horror con, with more possibilities to come. I have the chance to promote some 20 movies a year. I am responsible for promoting various game companies via tournaments from Thunder Bay to Alberta. I’m still running the second largest Game store in Canada, that continues to grow in sales ever since our start in 1982. I know that I am only held back by my imagination and the time I wish to commit to my world.
When he led the 1994 Worldcon (ConAdian) committee, knowing that attendance would be sparse in comparison to Worldcons held in cities many times larger than Winnipeg, he showed a degree of commercial ingenuity that may be common among trade shows but had never been equaled by any previous Worldcon. He courted dozens sponsors and advertisers to gain new sources of revenue at the same time he unsentimentally cut expenses. At opening ceremonies the Mayor of Winnipeg said ConAdian would be the largest conference gathering in Winnipeg this year — the audience buzzed with interest when they heard that.
By then, I was already chair of the forthcoming 1996 Worldcon (L.A.con III), and I was deeply appreciative for all the times John sat with me to share his knowledge and experience.
He would have liked to bring the Worldcon back to Winnipeg for 2003, and started a bid, but the Toronto bid for that year became the unified Canadian entry, winning over a bid for Cancun.
He co-chaired the 2005 Westercon in Calgary. In 2012 he helped start the short-lived A.E. Van Vogt Award for Canadian science fiction on behalf of the Winnipeg Science Fiction Association (WINSFA), Conadian, and Science Fiction Winnipeg (SFW).
He is survived by his wife, Linda Ross-Mansfield, NASFiC co-chair.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2016 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
The entire Terra Ignota series was nominated at Chicon 9 for a Hugo Award for Best Series. It was also nominated for an Otherwise Award,
The first work was Too Like The Lightning was published by Tor Books seven years ago. It was rapidly joined by the rest of the quartet, Seven Surrenders (2017), The Will to Battle, (2017) and finally Perhaps the Stars (2021).
I think it’s a brilliant if somewhat flawed series and that is all I’ll say here.
Now shall we read the Beginning of Too Like The Lightning? Of course we will…
A Prayer to the Reader
You will criticize me, reader, for writing in a style six hundred years removed from the events I describe, but you came to me for explanation of those days of transformation which left your world the world it is, and since it was the philosophy of the Eighteenth Century, heavy with optimism and ambition, whose abrupt revival birthed the recent revolution, so it is only in the language of the Enlightenment, rich with opinion and sentiment, that those days can be described. You must forgive me my ‘thee’s and ‘thou’s and ‘he’s and ‘she’s, my lack of modern words and modern objectivity. It will be hard at first, but whether you are my contemporary still awed by the new order, or an historian gazing back at my Twenty-Fifth Century as remotely as I gaze back on the Eighteenth, you will find yourself more fluent in the language of the past than you imagined; we all are.
I wondered once why authors of ancient days so often prostrate themselves before their audience, apologize, beg favors, pray to the reader as to an Emperor as they explain their faults and failings; yet, with my work barely begun, I find myself already in need of such obsequies. If I am properly to follow the style I have chosen, I must, at the book’s outset, describe myself, my background and qualifications, and tell you by what chance or Providence it is that the answers you seek are in my hands. I beg you, gentle reader, master, tyrant, grant me the privilege of silence on this count. Those of you who know the name of Mycroft Canner may now set this book aside. Those who do not, I beg you, let me make you trust me for a few dozen pages, since the tale will give you time enough to hate me in its own right.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(11) JEOPARDY! Neal Stephenson figured in the climactic round of tonight’s Jeopardy! episode. Andrew Porter was watching.
Final Jeopardy: Modern Words
Answer: Neal Stephenson coined this word in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash”; it was later shortened by a company to become its new name
All three contestants got it wrong, with “What is powder?” “What is uber?” and “What is avalanche?”
Correct question: “What is Metaverse?”
(12) OLD TECH HAS NEW FANS. “‘Such a fun way to consume music’: why sales of the ‘obsolete’ cassette are soaring” in the Guardian. “With more cassette tapes being bought than since 2003, readers tell why they prefer them to modern music players.”
“Buying a cassette direct from an independent artist on platforms such as Bandcamp is such a fun way to consume music. Often produced in very small runs, it is nice to receive something though the post that is relatively scarce. In these days of Spotify funnelling payments only to the superstars, it feels good to support small artists and labels. I love vinyl, too, but the magic of a cassette is that you have no way to skip tracks; you press ‘play’ and listen from start to finish with only the satisfying thud of one side ending to interrupt the experience. The noisy, tactile controls of a cassette player are the perfect tonic to the ways most of us consume media throughout the day, making it more of a special event and something to look forward to.” Dan White, 40, Norwich
(13) RECORD STORE RESOURCE. April 22 is “Record Store Day”. This link will take you to any store participating, anywhere, plus lots of other information.
This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role they play in their communities. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records, and on and on. In 2008 a small list of titles was released on Record Store Day and that list has grown to include artists and labels both large and small, in every genre and price point.
(14) FAILURE OR SUCCESS? “Unmanned Starship explodes over gulf after liftoff” reports MSN.com.
SpaceX’s Starship lifted off the pad in Southern Texas and cleared the launchpad, its first milestone, but then began tumbling as it was preparing for stage separation and the vehicle came apart some four minutes into flight.
… SpaceX’s Kate Tice said it was unclear what caused the rocket to come apart. She said that “teams will continue to review the data and work toward our next flight test.”
Still, since it was a test, SpaceX hailed the flight as a success because it would provide the company new information about how the vehicle performs in real life that will help them on future flights. And it did not damage the launchpad, a risk SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had said was his greatest worry….
(15) CRASH COURSE. [SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Nature cover story “DART’s data verify its smashing success at deflecting asteroid moon Dimorphos” looks at four NASA DART papers…
Although currently there is no known threat to Earth from asteroids, strategies to protect the planet from a collision are being explored. On 26 September 2022, NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory successfully tested one such approach: the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft was deliberately crashed into Dimorphos, a moon orbiting the small asteroid Didymos, resulting in a change in the moon’s orbit. In this week’s issue, five papers explore the test and the effects of the collision. “Successful kinetic impact into an asteroid” reconstructs the impact; a second looks at the change to Dimorphos’s orbit caused by the impact. A third paper reports observations from the Hubble Space Telescope of the material ejected during the collision. A fourth paper uses modelling to characterize the transfer of momentum that resulted from the impact. And the final paper reports on citizen science observations before, during and after the collision.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Lloyd & Yvonne Penney, Moshe Feder, Danny Sichel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) NOBEL MEDAL AUCTION. Heritage Auctions is taking bids for the “Dmitry Muratov 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Medal”, being sold to benefit children and their families forced to flee Ukraine and those internally displaced since the start of the war in February. All proceeds will support UNICEF’s humanitarian response for children in Ukraine and neighboring countries.
Dmitry Muratov is the editor-in-chief of the influential Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta. Bidding will conclude with a live auction at The Times Center in Manhattan on World Refugee Day, June 20.
“The editors of Novaya Gazeta decided it was necessary to help those in desperate need,” says Muratov, who in 1993 co-founded the Moscow-based publication that is now the last independent newspaper in Russia. “Everyone understood that we had to help, and the sale of the Nobel medal through Heritage Auctions gave us a powerful opportunity to help Ukrainian refugees. We hope that everyone around the world supports us and contributes to this movement, however they can.”
Muratov shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa. The Norwegian Nobel Committee celebrated their “fight for freedom of expression in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”
(2) ORIGINS AWARDS HELD OVER TO 2023. The Game Manufacturers Assocation (GAMA) told Facebook readers:
We are not having the Origins Award this year. We will be bringing them back for 2023 and will have information this fall on categories and submission process.
The awards also were not given in 2021, which prompted this comment from Jason Williams:
Can I ask then what happened to all the physical games which were entered as the awards were open for entry in 2021,(this is for game titles produced in 2020) and publishers did invest time and resources on making entries. Maybe those games which were entered need to have awards in 2023 recognized if there are enough staff available then. The fact that in 2021, submissions were accepted, but no awards were ever given, seems pretty wrong. Especially since titles are only able to be entered for the awards in the year they are published and these titles can never be considered for these awards in the future.
GAMA did not reply.
(3) JASON SANFORD. Camestros Felapton continues his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with “Jason Sanford: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.
Jason Sanford is a fan journalist, reviewer and award-nominated novelist. He is having a busy year with two different streams of his work being recognised in 2022: he was a Nebula Award & Philip K Dick Award finalist for Best Novel with The Plague Birds and he is a Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fan writer.
As well as being a published fiction writer, Sanford is a prolific fan writer with an active interest in news and invents within fandom and genre publishing….
(4) NKWETI Q&A. “Nana Nkweti on Writing Cameroonian American Experiences & Crossing Genres” at Open Country.
Nana Nkweti started writing at nine years old. A sci-fi lover even then, her earliest stories saw her in future worlds, going on space adventures. Like most writers, she was a voracious reader, digging through her father’s books, the good fortune of having a home library. She read everything from fantasy to the realist classics, and began to imagine herself and girls who looked like her reflected in those stories.
It is no surprise then that the 10 stories in her collection Walking on Cowrie Shells centre Cameroonian women. The characters share her intersectional identity, as a Black woman, a hyphenated American, an ethnic African. But the stories also speak to the universal idea of people charting next steps, growing and evolving along the way.
The title “Walking on Cowrie Shells” is a play on the English idiom. She deploys it in the book to embody that sense of being in a threshold, in liminal spaces, of teetering between choices, between cultures or identities. Her characters are tentative; they are about becoming and figuring life out, who they are, who they want to be….
(5) BARRIERS TO PUBLICATION FOR AFRICAN SFF WRITERS. The If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast takes up “Publishing in Africa: Publishing Platforms Or the Lack Therof with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”. The cohosts are Alan Bailey, Cat Rambo, Diane Morrison, and Graeme Barber.
In our 3rd audio column about publishing in Africa we chat with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki about how Africans are being deplatformed within the publishing business. We also discuss the The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction. As this episode was recorded before the 2022 Nebulas, we’d also like to congratulate Oghenechovwe on his award.
(6) SAULSON REPORTS ON CONVENTIONS. Sumiko Saulson reports “StokerCon 2022 was like a Black family reunion, but the struggle is far from over” at SF Bayview. Includes quotes from Craig L. Gidney, Steve Van Patten, and L.M. Wood.
…“The best part of going to cons these days is seeing the increase of diverse creators in the community. When I first started going to cons, I was one of a few folks of color. Now I’m one of many. And it feels great!
“I love that there are other Black queer creators out there – such as yourself [referring to Saulson], Kai Ashante Wilson and Marlon James. And even in that cohort, there are immense differences! For years, I wrote my fiction in isolation, collecting rejection slips like some people collect decoder rings. Now, not only is there a readership, there are other authors. It’s a great time to be publishing!” rejoiced Craig L. Gidney, author of the “Nectar of Nightmares.”
Another positive outcome for the new in-person conventions is an increase in POC representation amongst the Guests of Honor. For instance, Floyd Norman, an 86-year-old African American animator, writer, and comic book artist who was the first Black person to be a regular employee on Walt Disney’s animation staff will be the artist guest of honor at WorldCon in Chicago this year….
Saulson also covered the discussion here of SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference:
…In the wake of the incident, the power dynamics remained in play, as older, white authors have flocked to the File 770 article on the situation in defense of Mercedes Lackey, many of them citing Samuel Delaney’s personal lack of offense at the comment in their sometimes mean spirited comments about Jen Brown. Many such comments were removed from the “r/fantasy” Reddit….
Many comments weren’t approved for File 770, either, but speaking about the ones that were, including two welcome additions from Saulson, my goal for having that discussion was to let some in the File 770 commenting community who needed to do so alleviate their ignorance, while others came alongside to battle the excuse-makers and set proper boundaries for future discussion. I’ll point to what I said in that discussion:
Introducing the word shibboleth is an unwelcome attempt to ask white people to give intent priority over the clear statements from black people who take offense at the word. Even if Delany or Steve Barnes aren’t condemning Lackey, the status of the word is plain to see.
(7) TIME FOR A ROYAL FLUSH? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Various members of my book club and I have been jabbering away about monarchy in SFF at various points over the past several years. So when we realized that the vestigial monarch of England (and various former vassal states) was marking an arbitrary anniversary of a meaningless ceremony, Amanda and I decided was a good opportunity to talk about the various kings, tsars, emperors, etc. that populate so much SF. So we collaborated with some other folk in pulling this blog post together quickly this week. “The Tsars Like Dust” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.
…Given that there are few places that are still governed by monarchs of anything other than a vestigial variety, it might seem reasonable that few authors choose to engage critically with the consequences of the monarchies they depict. Americans under the age of 244 and British people with no recollection of what things were like before Peterloo don’t have any direct experience with just how truly awful it would be to live in a polity governed by Emperoxes. (Even if there’s a good ruler like Greyland once in a while, they end up being hamstrung by the weight of tradition.)
Authors seeking to more accurately depict what a space empire might look like should probably look to the few modern-day examples of absolute monarchy that still exist, places like the Sultanate of Oman, the Kingdom of Eswatini, and the Kim Family Protectorate of North Korea. To put it bluntly, in the real world there is a strong correlation between the authority of monarchs, and a lack of human rights, and this is rarely depicted in science fiction….
(8) TONOPAH NEWS. The Westercon 74 in Tonopah program schedule is now online. Strangely, it seems to be in alphabetical order by title of the program item – rather than in chronological order.
The Virtual Program schedule is in chrono order.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2015 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Seven years ago this evening, on what was ABC Family, the Stitchers series premiered. The premise is simple: Kirsten Clark, who has been recruited into a covert government operation is to be “stitched” with the memories of people recently deceased to investigate murders.
It was created by Jeff Schechter who as near as I can tell had little genre background other than Strange Days at Blake Holsey High and Animorphs, but I will single him out for the very non-genre series, Transporter: The Series which was off Luc Besson’s Transporter film.
Kirsten Clark was played by Emma Ishta. In addition, you’ll recognize two other cast members — Salli Richardson-Whitfield from Eureka who is Magritte “Maggie” Baptiste here and Allison Scagliotti of Warehouse 13 who is Camille Engelson in this series. The only other actor worth noting is Kyle Harris as Cameron Goodkin.
Stitchers was popular enough that it made through three seasons before getting canceled. It did not accrue a lot of episodes, being treated like a British series as each series had only only ten episodes save the first that had eleven.
So did the critics like it? No, they didn’t.
Variety’s review was typical: “About as slim as a sci-fi-inspired premise gets, ‘Stitchers’ joins a long list of series built around wide-eyed youths with an unusual skill who are recruited to join a save-the-world-type enterprise. In this case, the protagonist is a beautiful and brilliant Caltech student with temporal dysplasia, which means she doesn’t feel the passage of time. Most viewers, however, will likely feel it acutely while wading through this tired and predictable hour, which centers on a secret program that hacks into the brains of the recently deceased to solve crimes. While its heroine might not know it, skipping ‘Stitchers’ will save you time.”
Collider wasn’t any kinder: “The show’s premise thematically belongs to Syfy, and the cast is very CW, but nothing about Stitchers really comes together for ABC Family. Kirsten is described as emotionally void, and the show shares the same fate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t also happen to be brilliant to offset its other faults. The show is all over the place with its story and its tone, portraying Kirsten as a hacker, and then as a super-sleuth. Though there is some potential and humor present with its minor cast, the series pulls together elements of many other series — like CSI and Bones — without improving upon them. A missed opportunity, Stitchers is looking for signs of life, but hasn’t found them yet.”
Eighty six percent of audience members at Rotten Tomatoes liked it. Good for them.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(11) DANGER ZONE. Lawyers, Guns & Money’s Robert Farley compares Pete Mitchell (from Top Gun: Maverick) to Luke Skywalker: “Pete Mitchell and Luke Skywalker”.
… As it happens, the distance between Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick is 36 years, while the distance between Return of the Jedi and the Last Jedi is 34 years. In both films those numbers are fully realized; Hammill and Cruise each play characters with the weight of three and a half decades on their shoulders. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the mission in Top Gun: Maverick is modeled on nothing so much as Luke Skywalker trench run against the Death Star in A New Hope. I find it awfully interesting that Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Luke “Red Five” Skywalker each returned to the screen thirty-five years after the completion of their triumphant 80s arcs. I would not have guessed that the former would have been much more favorably received than the latter, and I think it’s worth investigating why….
(12) SFWA AUCTION RESULT. The second SFWA Silent Auction brought in nearly $18,400. Over 200 items, tuckerizations, and virtual sessions were offered. The funds will go to support SFWA’s ongoing work to promote, advance, and support SFF storytelling.
(13) UNFINISHED SYMPHONY. Paul Weimer delves into “the final, and incomplete, work by a master of science fiction and fantasy” — “Microreview [book]: Aspects by John M. Ford” at Nerds of a Feather. But first he issues a warning:
…If reading incomplete books is not your cup of tea, if the fact that this story does end abruptly without resolution, then, honestly, you probably don’t need to continue on with this book review and can go, read The Dragon Waiting or something else. I admit that it poked and prodded at my brain, but I think the book and what it does, what we have of it, is worth discussing, even in an incomplete stage. Inside baseball, perhaps, but it is akin to being shown the first chapters of a book or part of a novella from a friend writer, asking for what they think of it and what works and what does not….
(14) A NICE WAY TO SPEND 100 HOURS. Joe DelFranco is gung ho about Elden Ring: “Review [Video Game]: Elden Ring by From Software” at Nerds of a Feather.
Elden Ring is a vast, seemingly endless experience, that delivers wonders and death at every turn. A hit in all spheres of the industry, loved by fans and journalists both, not just for its generous amount of content but for its ability to transport the player firmly into the Lands Between without loosening its grip for hours on end. From Software has delivered a game that lets the player go on the adventure that they wish without holding their hand, a rarity in video games nowadays; a risk that paid off….
(15) THEY AIM TO PLEASE. The Corridor Crew wants to show you have different the series would be if Stormtroopers could hit what they shoot at: “We Made Star Wars Stormtroopers Accurate”.
Jordan and Fenner set out to correct the most glaring mistake in the original Star Wars trilogy–the lack of affordable health care for the Stormtroopers.
(16) UNLIKELY HERO RETURNS. Willow is an original series streaming on Disney+ beginning November 30.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says when Dolores Umbridge shows up in the fifth Harry Potter movie, she’s “super-snotty and mean: because she interrupts Dumbledore’s annual speech on the many ways Hogwarts students can die. Also, the vision of Voldemort Harry conjures up is even more terrifying because Voldemort’s wearing a zip-up hoodie!”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Bonnie Warford, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design (AAGAD) announced the list of games nominated for the 2020 Origins Awards.
The Origins Game Fair has bifurcated this year. Their in-person fair has been postponed until October, however, there will be an Origins Online from June 19-21
The Awards are not in the online schedule, so presumably will be presented at their event in the fall.
The nominees are as follows:
Board Game Category
Card Game Category
Collectible Game Category
Digital Adaptation Category
Family Games Category
Game Accessory Category
Historical Game Category
Historical Minis Category
Miniatures Game Category
Role-Playing Game Category
The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design presented the Origins Awards 2019 on June 15.
AAGAD presents the Origins Awards to companies for outstanding games in the hobby industry. Members of the Academy vote on each category. The winner of the fan favorite category was voted by attendees of the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH.
Game of the Year
Rising Star Award
Hall of Fame Inductees
The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design released the Origins Award 2019 nominees on May 1.
AAGAD presents the Origins Awards to companies for outstanding games in the hobby industry. Members of the Academy vote on each category. The winner of the fan favorite category will be voted by attendees of the Origins Game Fair. The winners will be announced at the Origins Awards Ceremony on June 15.
[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]
The Origins Game Fair, which made news by dropping Larry Correia as a guest, was held in Columbus, OH last weekend. In any other year, the announcement of the 2018 Origins Award winners would have drawn the con’s biggest headlines.
Best Board Game, Fan Favorite, and Game of the Year
Best Card Game and Fan Favorite
Best Card Game Fan Favorite
Best Miniatures Game and Fan Favorite
Best Collectible Game and Fan Favorite
Best Family Game and Fan Favorite
Best Game Accessory and Fan Favorite
Best Role-Playing Game Supplement and Fan Favorite
Best Role-Playing Game
Fan Favorite Role-Playing Game
[Via Black Gate.]