(1) UNCLE HUGO’S NEEDED A DIFFERENT KIND OF BAIL-OUT. As Uncle Hugo’s & Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores owner Don Blyly explains in the latest “How’s Business” he’s lucky he didn’t need to invest in gopher wood, build an ark, and start gathering the Baen authors two-by-two.
I came to the store Sunday morning and started doing payroll, and a few minutes late I saw a small wet spot on the floor, far from any books, and assumed some snow had fallen off my boots and melted. About 5 hours later I noticed that the small wet spot was slightly larger and I saw a drop of water hit it from a drip from the ceiling. Before closing on Sunday Jon put a bucket under the occasional drip, and it seemed safe to go home.
In the early morning hours, the rain started. When I got to the store around 7:30 Monday morning, water was pouring from a large area of the ceiling, primarily near the new bookshelves that contained the used sf hardcovers and trade paperback with authors “R” through “W”. Much of the water was hitting the floor and then bouncing up onto the bottom shelf of books. I pulled all the books from the bottom shelves and moved them to safer locations, grabbed some buckets to put under the bigger streams of water, and then headed to the nearest hardware store to pick up a better mop and some plastic drop cloths.
When I got back to the store I couldn’t find any duct tape, and the flooding had spread, so I drove over to Target to buy duct tape and a bunch of plastic “under-bed storage units”, which were much cheaper than buckets, plus being rectangular instead of round. Back to the store, and I spread the storage units under a lot more drips. I then tried to tape the plastic drop cloths to the top of the bookshelves to protect the books that had yet been damaged–and immediately discovered that duct tape does not stick to wet wood. Fortunately, I had a lot of cans of ginger ale in the refrigerator, and a series of cans of soda managed to hold the drop cloths in place. A couple of hours later Ken and Marie showed up and joined the fight against the water. Ken was swinging the mop handle so energetically that he knocked the thermostat off the wall in 3 pieces.
Given the rate at which we were emptying buckets, I estimate that between 20 and 30 gallons of water were coming through the ceiling every 15 minutes, and a lot of it leaked through the floor into the basement.. The rain finally ended around noon, and about an hour later the flood slowed a little. A customer made a suggestion of a solution, and about two hours later I was finally able to get his solution to work. Around 3:30 the flood turned into a bunch of drips. (Supposedly there is about an 8 inch layer of insulation above the ceiling, so I expected the drips to continue to drain from the insulation long after the water stopped coming in from the roof.)
I was delighted not to spend the entire night at the store, emptying buckets every 15 minutes, as I had feared I would. We did some cleaning up before closing (removing water-logged flattened cardboard boxes and replacing them with dry flattened cardboard boxes, mopping the floor on the ground level, using a snow shovel to push water in the basement towards the floor drain, etc.). I came back to the store at 6:30 this morning and continued cleaning up. All the buckets and storage containers are put away, all the wet cardboard is thrown out, the plastic drop cloths are removed from the bookshelves and put away. I started going through the piles of books from the bottom shelves, looking for undamaged books to put back on the shelves, while the damaged ones will have to either be thrown away or have their prices dropped and descriptions changed. I found that the section of shelving that contained David Weber, Margaret Weis, and H. G. Wells got wet from the top shelf to the bottom shelf, with the books so swollen that it was hard to get them off the shelves. Several hundred books were damaged, but they will have to dry out more before I can figure out which ones can be salvaged. Some of the floor boards have warped, and I don’t know if the warping will decrease after the boards finish drying.
Fortunately, the new wooden bookshelves don’t seem to have warped. The thermostat has been repaired, so we have heat again.
This week there will be another good reason to drop by the store. Thursday, March 2, 2023 is Uncle Hugo’s 49th anniversary. Blyly will he be holding an anniversary sale from Thursday, March 2 through Sunday, March 5, with an extra 10% off everything in the store. With a discount card, you can get 20% off everything during the sale. The sale only applies to in-store purchases, not to mail orders.
(2) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! On “Scout’s Progress Book Day!” and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller celebrate the anniversary re-issue of their book – part of a duo that begins the chronology of the Liaden Universe® series. (As I understand it. Which if I don’t please let me know.)
… Returning to 1993, we had no expectation that Scout’s Progress – or Local Custom – would ever be read by anybody but us. They were therefore written to amuse – us. Things that amuse us particularly are word-play; dry, understated humor; a certain grace – of manner and of person – protagonists with a strong sense of honor and right action, who are competent, though they may be flawed.
Improbably, Local Custom and Scout’s Progress were published in February 2001, as original omnibus Pilots Choice, from Meisha Merlin Publishing.
It’s apparently Traditional on occasions such as these for authors to reflect on what they would have done differently, were they writing the work being celebrated today.
And our answer is? Nothing….
(3) DON’T SALUTE THIS FLAG. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss helps writers see the problems: “When Your Publishing Contract Flies a Red Flag: Clauses to Watch Out For”.
…In this article, I’m going to focus on contract language that gives too much benefit to the publisher, and too little to the author. Consider these contract clauses to be red flags wherever you encounter them. (All of the images below are taken from contracts that have been shared with me by authors.)
First on her list:
Unless you are doing work-for-hire, such as writing for a media tie-in franchise, a publisher should not take ownership of your copyright. For most publishers, copyright ownership doesn’t provide any meaningful advantage over a conventional grant of rights, and there’s no reason to require it. Even where the transfer is temporary, with rights reverting back to you at some point, it doesn’t change the fact that for as long as the contract is in force, your copyright does not belong to you.
Copyright transfers usually appear in the Grant of Rights clause. Look for phrases like “all right, title and interest in and to the Work” and “including but not limited to all copyrights therein.”…
(4) WHICH SECRETS CAN BE REVEALED? “’The Mandalorian’ Returns: Jon Favreau’s Exclusive Tour of the Secret Set” in Vanity Fair.
The Mandalorian returns this week with Pedro Pascal’s masked antihero sharing words of wisdom with his adopted son, Baby Yoda (a.k.a. Grogu): “Being a Mandalorian is not just about learning how to fight. You also have to know how to navigate the galaxy. That way, you’ll never be lost.”
Jon Favreau, the creator of the show and the writer of those lines, found his own way to navigate this universe’s disparate worlds. He brings all of the planets to him, storing them inside an otherwise nondescript California soundstage. By now, it’s not a secret that the show makes use of Industrial Light & Magic’s StageCraft technology, which creates photorealistic alien landscapes on a colossal curved LED wall called a volume. But not many outsiders have ever stepped within the reality-bending walls.
Favreau, a stickler for secrecy, welcomed Vanity Fair to the set during the making of the new episodes, asking only that we not reveal too much about the scene playing out. Outside the doors of the soundstage, Favreau scratches at his beard, trying to decide what can be revealed about the setting sprawled across the 20-foot digital walls. “What should we call it? It’s a good question,” he says, settling on: “A cavernous atrium. With…tech elements embedded.”
He laughs. “And if you think that’s not going to be a sentence that launches a thousand YouTube videos…”
(5) ASHE Q&A. The Horror Writers Association’s “Black Heritage in Horror” series continues: “Interview with Paula Ashe”.
Paula D. Ashe (she/her) is an author of dark fiction. Her debut collection — We Are Here to Hurt Each Other — was released in early ‘22 by Nictitating Books….
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
Since childhood I’ve been drawn to things that have a dark bent to them. I feel like horror is the most honest genre and it’s a place where I can tell some painful and usually private truths. I also just really enjoy disturbing the shit out of people….
(6) RICOU BROWNING (1930-2023). [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Sad to learn of the passing of the wonderful Ricou Browning yesterday at age 93. Here are the original “Creatures From The Black Lagoon”… Ben Chapman (the land creature) on the left, and Ricou Browning (the proverbial “Sea Beast”) on the right, with an even more Monstrous “victim” wedged between them. He was both a cinematic icon, and a delightfully aquatic gentleman. Rest In Peace amongst the “stars.”
The Hollywood Reporter tribute is filled with anecdotes from his career.
… Browning was charged with showing the area of Wakulla Springs, Florida, to location scouts from Universal who were seeking filming locations for Creature From the Black Lagoon. He also did some swim moves for them, and that led to his Gill-Man gig. (Ben Chapman played the beast on land in the first movie.)
“The lips of the suit sat about a half-inch from my lips, and I put the air hose in my mouth to breathe,” he said in a 2019 interview. “I would hold my breath and go do the scene, and I’d have other safety people with other air hoses to give me air if I needed it. We had a signal. If I went totally limp, it meant I needed it. It worked out well, and we didn’t have any problems.”
Browning said he filmed his scenes in wintertime, and it was pretty cold. “The crew felt sorry for me, so somebody said, ‘How would you like a shot of brandy?’ I said, ‘Sure,’” he recalled. “Another part of the crew [also] gave me a shot of brandy. Pretty soon they were dealing with a drunk creature.”…
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1969 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley is a novel that I’ll admit that I do like.
It was published first in 1969 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The cover art (which I think is utterly wrong for the novel) is by Jack Gaughan.
I did not know until now that a shorter novella length version of this was first published in the October 1967 issue of Galaxy. Who here can tell me how significantly different the two versions are? That novella is in The Last Defender of Camelot collection which unfortunately has not made it to the usual suspects.
And now the Beginning in which we meet Hell Tanner.
The gull swooped by, seemed to hover a moment on unmoving wings.
Hell Tanner flipped his cigar butt at it and scored a lucky hit. The bird uttered a hoarse cry and beat suddenly at the air. It climbed about fifty feet, and whether it shrieked a second time, he would never know.
It was gone.
A single white feather rocked in the violent sky, drifted out over the edge of the cliff, and descended, swinging, toward the ocean. Tanner chuckled through his beard, against the steady roar of the wind and the pounding of the surf. Then he took his feet down from the handlebars, kicked up the stand, and gunned his bike to, life.
He took the slope slowly till he came to the trail, then picked up speed and was doing fifty when he hit the highway.
He leaned forward and gunned it again. He had the road all to himself, and he laid on the gas pedal till there was no place left for it to go. He raised his goggles and looked at the world through crap-colored glasses, which was pretty much the way he looked at it without them, too.
All the old irons were gone from his jacket, and he missed the swastika, the hammer and sickle, and the upright finger, especially. He missed his old emblem, too. Maybe he could pick one up in Tijuana and have some broad sew it on and … No. It wouldn’t do. All that was dead and gone. It would be a giveaway, and he wouldn’t last a day. What he would do was sell the Harley, work his way down the coast, clean and square, and see what he could find in the other America.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 28, 1913 — John Coleman Burroughs. Known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations. He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.)
- Born February 28, 1928 — Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth. Yes, that novel. It obviously served as the basis for the 1976 film by Nicolas Roeg, The Man Who Fell to Earth, with Bowie as star, as well as a later television adaptation which I’d never heard of. He also wrote Mockingbird which was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel. James Sallis reviewed both novels in F&SF. He wrote the best novel about chess ever published, Queen’s Gambit, which was made into a much praised Netflix production.(Died 1984.)
- Born February 28, 1947 — Stephen Goldin, 76. Author of the Family d’Alembert series which is based on a novella by E.E. “Doc” Smith. I think the novella is “Imperial Stars” but that’s unclear from the way the series is referred to. Has anyone read this series? How does it match up to the source material?
- Born February 28, 1957 — John Barnes, 66. I read and like the four novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. What else by him do y’all like?
- Born February 28, 1966 — Philip Reeve, 57. He is primarily known for the Mortal Engines and its sequels. I read Mortal Engines, Predator’s Gold and Infernal Devices before deciding that was enough of that series, it’s a fine series, it just wasn’t developing enough to warrant me reading any more of it.
- Born February 28, 1970 — Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), 53. He’s the author of several children’s books, also serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’ve read the books, they’re very popular I’m told at my local bookstore. It has been turned into a film, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and into a Netflix series as well which is named, oh you guess.
- Born February 28, 1977 — Chris Wooding, 46. If you read nothing else by him, do read the four novel series that is the steampunkish Tales of the Ketty Jay. Simply wonderful. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray plays off the Cthulhu Mythos that certain folk don’t think exist and does a damn fine job of doing so.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Candorville just wants to say it out loud so badly – but that would sound nuts!
- Dustin has a sort of Walter Mitty moment.
(10) SIGNOFF. Author Karl Drinkwater explains why “Karl Is Antisocial” in a 2021 article.
I’m a full time author. I am part of professional networks, and have colleagues and friends that are authors. One of the maxims is that an author needs a platform. That platform includes social media. If you don’t use them you will face obscurity and poverty.
This post is the culmination of a number of decisions. One of them: I’m planning on leaving social media.
Those who know me won’t be so surprised. They know I am a non-conformist. That I question everything (including myself). That I’m the kind of person who would email my audiobook narrators and offer to sign all my royalties over to them as part of me leaving Amazon. (I did that this morning.) That I would stop using Windows after 20 years and switch to Linux. (I did that last week.)
Those who don’t know me will just think I’m bat-shit crazy.
But I do have my reasons, however strange they may appear at first….
…I don’t like the idea of social media being a kind of untargeted shotgun blast out at the universe, with everyone shouting to be louder than everyone else, hoping that by screaming they will get more attention. And so you just get a cacophonous wall of noise. I don’t like the impersonality of much of it.
And do I really need to be on there? My business is already unconventional. I don’t do paid adverts on Amazon and Facebook. Yet people find me and my work, and they buy it. And, more often than not, they love it. Another convention is for books to have a copyright page telling you everything you are not allowed to do. I’m the opposite. I want readers to have more rights. Certainly more than the law currently allows. So some of my books have a copyright page saying it’s fine to convert my e-books between formats, and to save a copy as a backup (I don’t add DRM). To copy or quote up to 50% of a print book. To give print books away or sell them on….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Rich Lynch, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]