(1) THIRD SELF-PUBLISHED SCIENCE FICTION COMPETITION OPENS TODAY. Hugh Howey’s third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) is now taking submissions. Are you an indie science fiction writer looking for a wider audience? Check the guidelines here. Submit here.
(2) CHIANG AND BENDER IN CONVERSATION. UW Professor of Linguistics Emily M. Bender talks with award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang about the nature of creativity and the role of the author amid rising concerns about AI-generated storytelling. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley. November 10, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.
This event is a fundraiser for Clarion West. VIP tickets and meet-and-greet reception go on sale on Monday, August 7.
(3) CLARION WEST FALL CLASS SCHEDULE. Registration is open now.
Fall classes are here! We’ve got an exciting line-up of instructors, classes, and workshops. Registration is open now. Come learn with us!
- September 5, 12, & 19: Worldwide Story Structure: Open the World and Make Story Structure Work for You with Yoonmi Kim
- September 16: How to Begin Game Writing with Whitney “Strix” Beltran
- September 21, 28, & October 5: Plotting for Pantsers with Eden Robins
- September 30 & October 7: Rewriting Utopias: Rethinking Climate Narratives for a More Radical Future with Chinelo Onwualu
- October 14, 21, 28, & November 4: Writing the Creative Non-fiction Essay with David Gilmore
- November 2, 9, & 16: Prescience for Mortals with N.T. Narbutovskih
- November 4, 11, 18, December 2, 9, & 16: What The Future tells us About the Past with Shingai Njeri Kagunda
- November 9 & 30: Channeling Cultural Storytelling to Reach Spec Fic’s Revolutionary Potential with Naseem Jamnia
- They also are offering four FREE CLASSES
- September 23: Introduction to Rewriting Utopias with Chinelo Onwualu
- October 10: Historical Horror with Stephanie Malia Morris
- November 2: “I’m In”: The Art of Writing about Hacking with Brian Hugenbruch with Brian Hugenbruch
- December 2: Comics Writing Masterclass 101 with Amy Chu
(4) BOGUS BARKER. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss reports on somone impersonating her in “Dogging the Watchdog: In Which a Scammer Tries to Troll Me”.
…If you read here regularly, you’ll know that I’ve written a lot of posts about the impersonation scams that are becoming increasingly common. Well, an enterprising scammer recently decided to turn the tables…by impersonating me…
The [email protected] email address, of course, is bogus, and the scammer has added “literary agent” to my resume (which I am not, even though people sometimes mistakenly believe I am). And for added authenticity, a photo of me! Swiped from my personal Facebook page. (I’m sure the scammer would have preferred something unflattering, but I rarely post photos of myself–this post should make it clear why–so they didn’t have a lot to choose from.)
Obviously I would not want anyone to be defrauded in my name, so I enlisted a couple of the writers to write back to see what would happen. After a week with no replies, it seemed pretty clear that–as I’d half-suspected, especially given the stupidity of the fake email address –the email was a trolling attempt and not a bona fide scheme to scam.
Trolling doesn’t deliver the emotional satisfaction the troll craves unless the trollee knows they’re being trolled, though. And the scammer did want me to know….
(5) OLD BRIDGE (NJ) PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE FICTION DISCUSSION GROUP DISBANDING. Evelyn Leeper told MT Void readers today:
After twenty years of meeting, the Old Bridge Public Library science fiction discussion group is disbanding. Given that the last few meetings have been only three or four people, that sounds a bit more dramatic than it really is. Our final book was THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press, ISBN 978-1-534-43100-3) and all three of us disliked it, so we have referred to this as THIS IS HOW YOU KILL THE DISCUSSION GROUP. The book swept all the major awards for novellas, so we are clearly in some sort of minority here.
But it was not really the book that killed the group, but the gradual drifting away of members. We tried both Zooming and in-person meetings. but though we had weathered the pandemic, the return to other opportunities for socializing et al made it harder to get people to attend….
(6) BACK TO THE FUTURE MUSICAL. The Hollywood Reporter favorably reviews “’Back to the Future: The Musical’ Review: Stage Adaptation on Broadway”.
…The creators of Back to the Future: The Musical weren’t taking any chances.
The production, newly arrived on Broadway after a London engagement that snagged a 2022 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, begins with the stirring main theme of the 1985 film’s score, garnering loud cheers from the audience. The book, with some minor exceptions, recreates the screenplay beat for beat and in some cases line for line. And the performances hew closely to those of the movie’s lead actors, with Hugh Coles, playing Marty McFly’s father George, imitating Crispin Glover so closely that it’s hard to tell whether it’s tribute or appropriation.
None of this is surprising, considering that original co-screenwriter Bob Gale has written the musical’s book and original composer Alan Silvestri, in collaboration with Glen Ballard (Ghost, Jagged Little Pill), its score. What is surprising is how effective and damn fun it all is.
(7) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. Daniel Dern’s Scroll title, inspired by the musical Star Trek episode, he would like to remind everyone, is a reference to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from Kiss Me, Kate — which, by coincidence, came from a Cole Porter musical as did the song that kicked off the musical episode.
(8) CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHER REMEMBERED. The Washington Post’s recalls the impact on children’s literature of Ursula Nordstrom (1910-1988) in “The fighter behind many of the most beloved children’s books of all time”.
…Hired as a clerk in 1931 at what was then Harper & Brothers (later Harper & Row, now HarperCollins), Nordstrom became an assistant in the department of books for boys and girls five years later. In 1954, she became the first woman elected to the Harper board of directors, and its first female vice president in 1960. She was referred to (and referred to herself) as the Maxwell Perkins of children’s literature. Perkins was an editor who built his career and reputation on seeking out and supporting new writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Over more than three decades, beginning in earnest in 1940, Nordstrom shepherded, chivied and gently bullied some of the greatest works of children’s literature into life. Those books included “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harriet the Spy,” “Little Bear,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little,” “Bedtime for Frances,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “Freaky Friday.”
Nordstrom’s spectacular eye for talent and many “firsts” as a mid-century career woman were not the most remarkable things about her. She believed in truth for children, even when it made adults uncomfortable. She prioritized children’s needs over reactionary parental qualms and rallied a fierce defense of realistic themes in books for young people. Her stance should be recognized, now more than ever, as a model for fighting back against censoriousness, grandstanding and patronizing of children masquerading as protecting them…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 4, 1923 — Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, The Starlost, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.” “Balance of Terror,” of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
- Born August 4, 1937 — David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K. Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is ‘a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.’ I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. The not usual suspects such as iTunes have as their Meredith Moment for just seven dollars. (Died 2011.)
- Born August 4, 1944 — Richard Belzer. A long non-genre career as John Munch, for 23 years starting on Homicide: Life on the Street and then Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and related series which made him only the third actor ever to play the same character in six different prime time TV series. In the Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-Files, The Invaders, Human Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles. (Died 2023.)
- Born August 4, 1950 — Steve Senn, 73. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space Fungus.
- Born August 4, 1968 — Daniel Dae Kim, 55. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles included the Brave New World TV film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on Lost, Gavin Park on Angel and Lieutenant John Matheson on Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
- Born August 4, 1969 — Fenella Woolgar, 54. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who, my favorite episode, where she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Her only other genre was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
- Born August 4, 1981 — Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 42. Yes, she’s done a genre performance or so. To be precise, she showed up on Fringe in the first two episodes of the second season (“A New Day in the Old Town” and “Night of Desirable Objects”) as Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup. She was also in the “First Knight” episode of Knight Rider as Annie Ortiz, and Natasha in “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose” on Century City, a series most of you have likely never heard of.
(10) DOCUMENTING POP CULTURE. Steven Heller interviews ephemera collector and student of popular culture Richard Marschall: T “What To Do With All This Ephemera” in PRINT Magazine.
What do the comics, satiric magazines and newspapers in your holdings teach you? And what do they say, through your books and exhibits, to your audience?
…But I never wanted to deconstruct to the point of denying construction in the first place. In
the 1970s I reveled to a popular culture symposium that invited me because of my “informed” attitudes on the comics as an art form. Yet every speech, roundtable and Q&A dealt with comics as mere conduits—“What did Dick Tracy say about crime?” Not, “What expressive dynamics did Chester Gould employ to communicate in revolutionary ways?” Arrested development. This academic myopia was maddening. The graphics community at one time was similarly dismissive, as you know as well as anyone, may I confidently say?
So even unconsciously I amassed a collection of comics, sections, clips, original art, magazine runs, bound volumes of newspapers, books, toys, postcards, posters and such … with the goal, instinctive as it actually was, to be in a position to document all this, and with a mature cultural perspective. And, no less earnestly, to help others who sought to do so….
(11) YOU ARE THERE. A day like any other day, but — Ersatz Culture says this news story involves his local library!
(12) WIMPS. [Item by Steven French.] Dark stars observed! No it’s nothing to do with the John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon movie. Astronomers have closely examined recent images produced by the James Webb Space Telescope and concluded that they reveal ancient stars powered by dark matter. “Stars powered by dark matter may have been seen by the JWST” at Physics World.
… In 2007, Freese and colleagues proposed the possibility of “dark stars”, which may have been common in the early universe. While composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, these exotic stars would be fuelled by “dark matter heating” rather than nuclear fusion. This could involve a type of dark matter called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). WIMPs have evaded discovery for decades in Earth-based detection experiments, but according to Freese’s team, the sheer density of dark matter in the early universe could cause them to interact far more frequently with regular matter during the formation of some of the earliest stars.
In the early universe, “WIMPs could have annihilated into photons, electron-positron pairs, and other particles, which collided with the hydrogen in collapsing clouds,” Freese explains. “These particles then get stuck inside the cloud, and deposit all the energy from the mass of the dark matter particles into the cloud. The cloud then stops collapsing, and instead turns into a ‘dark star’.”…
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The concept of the space elevator was popularized by Arthur Clarke’s Fountains of Paradise.
The idea is that a cable from the equator (Ceylon/Sri Lanka was geographically moved in Clarke’s novel) to a large satellite/small asteroid, in geosynchronous orbit, can be used to haul payload very cheaply into Earth orbit.
This concept has been further explored before by Isaac Arthur on his Science Futurism channel. Isaac has just taken this concept further by considering the advantages of a space elevator on the Moon…
A Space Elevator on the Moon, made of mundane materials, could be built with modern technology, and allow ultra-cheap freight off the Moon
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]