(1) SHEREE RENÉE THOMAS LIBRARY EVENT. A Contemporary Conversations program with Sheree Renée Thomas will be held on Thursday, February 23 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Rockville (MD) Memorial Library. The in-person event will also be offered via live streaming. Register here.
New York Times bestselling, two-time World Fantasy Award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas will talk about Afrofuturism & Diversity in Sci-Fi.
Thomas has been a 2022 Hugo Award Finalist, and her collection, Nine Bar Blues, is a Locus, Ignyte, and World Fantasy Finalist. She edited the groundbreaking Dark Matter anthologies that introduced a century of Black speculative fiction, including W.E.B. Du Bois’s science fiction stories. Thomas wrote Marvel’s Black Panther: Panther’s Rage novel (Oct ’22), adapted from the legendary comics, collaborated with Janelle Monáe on The Memory Librarian and is the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, founded in 1949 and Obsidian, founded in 1975. In 2022 she co-curated Carnegie Hall’s historic, citywide Afrofuturism Festival.
(2) AUSTRALIAN YA WINS AWARDS. A pair of YA fantasy novels were among the winners of the Victorian premier’s literary awards in Australia: “Melbourne author Jessica Au wins $125,000 for ‘quietly powerful’ novella” in the Guardian.
Lystra Rose, a writer of the Guugu Yimithirr, Birri Gubba and Erub nations and Scottish descent, won the Indigenous writing prize for her debut young adult fantasy fiction novel The Upwelling, which weaves the language and practices of the Yugambeh people into the narrative.
The young adult prize was won by New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based writer Kate Murray for her debut novel We Who Hunt the Hollow, also a fantasy novel.
(3) WRITERS MARKET SITE SHUTTERED. Ralan.com, one of the two big sites for writers looking for markets, now closed. Joe Stech of Compelling Science Fiction reached out to Ralan and received this statement for publication:
Ralan.com was started on 5 December 1996 and provided organized and up-to-date market listings that only accepted submissions of speculative genres, or at least elements of such. As this information was shared, other writers soon started helping back, pointing out new markets, and noting changes in active listings. Many publishers and editors were also actively involved, and this three-way interaction continued until the website closed on 1 February 2023, after 26 years & 57 days. Other sites provided a similar service, but arguably Ralan.com, at least in the speculative genres, had one of the most up-to-date market listings. Add to this the how-to-submit articles page, an extensive list of non-functioning markets, and a writing link page second to none. I offer my deepest thanks to all who helped along the way, and wish everyone the very best future.
Stech added, “And if you, dear reader, are looking for another place to discover short fiction markets, try the Submission Grinder.”
(4) A USEFUL CRITICISM. Samuel Delany regaled Facebook readers about his friendship with Judith Merril and Algis Budrys and their intersection with an edition of Nova.
Here is the back of a 12th printing of the Bantam Books edition of my 1968 novel *Nova* (May, 1983). I began it in Athens, Greece, June ’66, and finished it NYC, in May of ’67.) The two critics quoted on the back are A. J. Budrys (the way I am called Chip, most people called him A. J.) and the other is Judith Merril. (To her friends, old and young, she was Judy.) I think of both as my friends, but we were friends in very different ways ….
…. Dick [Entin]’s response was that the ending needed to be stronger—and that’s always good advice. He also objected to one page-and-a -half-section in the MS, which he found “over-the-top” and unbelievable. His exact words were, “Chip—businessmen just don’t do things like that.” So I took the passage out.
In his *Galaxy* review, Budrys had realized that *Nova* was a pretty carefully structured book. “What happened to Bryan?” he asked. The young man’s absence at the end registered, to him, as a hole in the tale’s basic pattern.
As soon as I read the question, I realized that the pages I’d removed had, among other things, answered just that question. If the Doubleday editors, Larry or Mark, had asked the same thing, I would have returned those pages as well. But A. J. was the first one who did. Also I realized that my putative villain wasn’t simply a modern businessman; he was a sociopath, if not a psychotic—of the sort who sometimes take charge of a big business or even a country.
Between the first Double and Co. edition and the first Doubleday Bookclub edition, I reinserted the pages (yes, I ran them through the typewriter again, and made some cosmetic improvements), but in every subsequent edition they were back in place. As well, I was very thankful for A. J.’s pointing it out to me, even though he had to do it in public….
(5) BLASPHEMIPEDIA? “Pakistan blocks Wikipedia for ‘blasphemous content’” – BBC News was unable to learn what material was in question.
…[Pakistan Telecommunication Authority] spokesperson Malahat Obaid said Wikipedia failed to respond to “repeated correspondence” over the removal of “blasphemous content”.
“They did remove some of the material but not all,” he added, confirming that the website would remain blocked until “all the objectionable material” was removed.
Details of the material in question have not been revealed.
The Wikimedia Foundation said if the ban continued it would “deprive everyone access to Pakistan’s knowledge, history, and culture”.
Free speech campaigners have raised concerns over the move, saying there seemed to be “a concerted effort to exert greater control over content on the internet”.
“The main purpose is to silence any dissent,” said digital rights activist Usama Khilji.
“A lot of times blasphemy is weaponised for that purpose,” he added….
(6) MELINDA DILLON OBITUARY. Actress Melinda Dillon died January 9 reports Variety: “Melinda Dillon Dead: A Christmas Story, Close Encounters Actor was 83”. She played many genre roles – in addition to those listed below, she also was in a Twilight Zone episode.
…Dillon is celebrated for her role as Jillian Guiler in Steven Speilberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), for which she earned an Oscar nomination for supporting actress. She received a second supporting actress nomination in 1982 for her role as Teresa in Sydney Pollack’s “Absence of Malice” (1981). In 1977, she received a Golden Globe nomination for acting debut in a motion picture for Hal Ashby’s “Bound for Glory” (1976).
In a statement, Spielberg praised Dillon, saying, “Melinda was generous of spirit and lent such kindness to the character she played in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’… We will all miss her.”
Dillon also played the matriarch of the Parker family in Bob Clark’s holiday classic “A Christmas Story” (1983) and went on to appear in “Harry and the Hendersons” (1987), “Captain America” (1990) and “Nightbreaker” (1989). Her most recent appearances were in “Heartland” in 2007, and before that in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” (1999) as Rose Gator, the wife of a game show host with a terrible secret….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1958 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
There are some Beginnings that are as perfect as the story that follows and one of them is that starts off Robert Bloch’s “That Hell-Bound Train” which many decades after reading it remains my favorite piece of fiction by him.
It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in September of 1958.
I’d stick a spoiler alert in here but surely every Filer here knows the story of Martin, a hobo, who one dark night has a large black train pulls up beside him. The conductor says Martin can have anything he wants in exchange for which he will “ride that Hell-Bound Train” when he dies. He hands Martin a watch which he tells him will stop time when Martin reaches he perceives to be the absolute perfect moment in his life.
Y’all know what that moment turns out to be…
It would win the Hugo Award at Detention in a field of nominees far too large to list here. Really it was.
I love every word of the story from what Martin does with his life until he finally stops time. It is indeed a sterling story.
William Tenn says in Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn, volume 1, that he helped shape the story while at the magazine as it was “an absolutely fine piece of work that just didn’t have a usable ending”. He had come to the magazine after Boucher retired.
So here’s that wonderful Beginning… and I wondering did anyone write a filk off of it?
When Martin was a little boy, his daddy was a Railroad Man. Daddy never rode the high iron, but he walked the tracks for the CB&Q, and he was proud of his job. And every night when he got drunk, he sang this old song about That Hell-Bound Train.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 4, 1922 — William Phipps. He started off his genre career by being in both The War of The Worlds and Invaders from Mars. He’d later be in Cat-Women of the Moon, The Snow Creature, The Evil of Frankenstein, and the Dune series. He’d have one-offs in Batman, Green Hornet, The Munsters, Wild Wild West and a lead role in the Time Express series which would last four episodes according IMDB. (Died 2018.)
- Born February 4, 1936 — Gary Conway, 87. Best remembered I’d say for starring in Irwin Allen‘s Land of the Giants. He was also in How to Make a Monster, a late Fifties horror film which I’m delighted to say that you can watch here as it is out of copyright. He’s the Young Frankenstein in it.
- Born February 4, 1940 — John Schuck, 83. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn in “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes. Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today. Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns?
- Born February 4, 1951 — Patrick Bergin, 72. If he had done nothing else, he’d make the Birthday list today for playing Robin Hood in the 1990 Robin Hood which for my money is the finest such film made. Go ahead and argue, I’ve all night. Now as it turns out he has a very long career in this community starting after playing Robin Hood by being in Frankenstein as Victor Frankenstein, then Benjamin Trace In Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (a film universally despised), George Challenger in The Lost World, Treasure Island as Billy Bones, Merlin: The Return as King Arthur, Dracula as, well, Dracula Himself, Ghostwood as Friar Paul and Gallowwalkers as Marshall Gaza.
- Born February 4, 1959 — Pamelyn Ferdin, 64. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in The Hat short, Night Gallery, Sealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO. She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris fronted series as well.
- Born February 4, 1961 — Neal Asher, 62. I’ve been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I’m listening to The Line War right now and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of a hundred thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). As I said several years ago, he is the sort of writer that I think drives our Puppies to madness — literate pulp SF pumped out fast that readers like.
- Born February 4, 1962 — Thomas Scott Winnett.. Locus magazine editorial assistant and reviewer from 1989 to 1994. He worked on Locus looks at books and Books receivedas well. In addition, he wrote well over a hundred reviews for Locus. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia. (Died 2004.)
(9) VIEW DORAN ART. “Colleen Doran Illustrates Neil Gaiman” will be on exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York beginning March 22 and running through July 29.
In the midst of a long career drawing comics for such titles as Wonder Woman and Legion of Super-Heroes, Colleen Doran has found her artistic Holy Grail in her series of adaptations of Neil Gaiman short stories published by Dark Horse, including her latest masterpiece Chivalry, the Eisner and Bram Stoker Award winning dark fantasy Snow Glass Apples, and The Troll Bridge, a spooky coming-of-age story.
A lifelong enthusiast of Arthurian mythology, Doran longed to adapt Gaiman’s 1998 short story Chivalry, the story of Mrs. Whitaker, a British widow who finds the Holy Grail in a thrift shop and the knight who offers her priceless relics in exchange so he can win the Grail and end his quest. Like the Illuminated manuscripts that inspired her colors and layout, Doran’s lush hand-painted pages for Chivalry are full of symbolism taken from her personal life, world history, and Arthurian legend. Her jewel-toned color palette and detailed drawing make viewing the original artwork a special experience.
Also on view will be several pages from Snow Glass Apples, Doran’s version of Gaiman’s chilling retelling of the Snow White story, drawn in an intricate style influenced by the Irish artist Harry Clarke. The exhibit, curated by Kim A. Munson, editor of the Eisner nominated anthology Comic Art in Museums and 2022 Eisner Awards Judge, will also include works from other Doran/Gaiman titles such as The Sandman, American Gods, Norse Mythology, and others.
(10) PINKWATER DOES CAR TALK. “#2309: Circumferentially-Challenged: The Best of Car Talk” on NPR. Andrew Porter says, “The Daniel Pinkwater part comes at 27 minutes into this episode. And it’s hilarious!”
From the Daniel Pinkwater files comes a tale of unexpected advice buried deep inside a BMW owner’s manual. The boys also contemplate why men never pay for anything with coins, helmets for drivers and, oh yeah- some actual car problems! All on this episode of the Best of Car Talk.
(11) HISTORIC FIND. The New York Times reports a remarkable discovery: “Metal Detector Hobbyist Finds a 500-Year-Old Pendant Linked to Henry VIII”.
Charlie Clarke, a 34-year-old cafe owner in Birmingham, England, was feeling down about losing his dog to cancer, so he went over to a friend’s place in the countryside to take a stroll and get some fresh air. He brought his metal detector with him, gear for the new hobby he had picked up six months earlier.
When he heard the unusually loud beeps emitted while he walked on his friend’s property in nearby Warwickshire, he thought he had probably come across a soda can. Instead, about a foot down into the earth, he happened upon a treasure that has electrified researchers, and could very well change the course of his family’s future.
Mr. Clarke pulled up a gold chain and heart-shaped pendant, adorned with symbols his friend recognized as connected to Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. At first, he thought it must have been from a costume, but it seemed far too heavy for that, he said in an interview on Friday.
“I knew it was special,” he said.
The pendant itself was an ornate spectacle: The front was decorated with a pomegranate bush, an emblem of Katherine, and an entwined, double-headed Tudor rose, which was employed by the Tudors starting in 1486. On the other side, the letters H and K — for Henry and Katherine — were written in Lombardic script and connected by a ribbon….
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Courtesy of Netflix, here’s the “Wednesday Official Blooper Reel”. Wednesday usually is spooky, except when she’s breaking herself up.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Dariensync, Cathy Green, Mark Whitroth, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Andrew (not Werdna).]