(1) PHILADELPHIA SCIENCE FICTION SOCIETY CONTEST GOES INTERNATIONAL. [Item by Lew Wolkoff.] For the past 25 years the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) has run a Young Writers’ Contest for students in grades 5-8 and grades 9-12. Winners receive a cash prize and two free memberships (winner and parent or guardian) to the Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference (Philcon). This year, Philcon will be November 17-19 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Cherry Hill, NJ.
The contest is open to any student in the grades mentioned, but in past years, most submissions have been from the greater Philadelphia area. This year, things were different. The contest was mentioned in some Asian scholastic magazines, and there were submissions from India, Nepal, and Afghanistan. The second place winner in the High School category was, in fact, B.S. Raagul of Tasmil Nadu, India.
(2) NORWESCON LOVES TERRY BROOKS. Seattle Met’s profile “Terry Brooks Has Found a Family in Seattle’s Fantasy Scene” includes a quote from Norwescon chair SunnyJim Morgan.
… It’s safe to say that Brooks—who now splits his time between Seattle and Cannon Beach, Oregon—made the right choice. If you’re a fantasy fan, you might know that Brooks has written 23 New York Times bestsellers and sold over 25 million novels worldwide. Sister of Starlit Seas, the third book in his Viridian Deep fantasy series hits shelves on November 14.
It didn’t take long for the Emerald City to embrace Brooks when he first moved here in 1986. Nearly 38 years later, Brooks is still repaying the support that galvanized his career, regularly communicating with the huge fantasy and sci-fi community in Seattle and trying to inspire the next generation of writers in the genre. Later this month he’ll take part in a speaking tour across the Pacific Northwest, visiting Spokane, Seattle, and Tukwila, before heading out of state.
“He is a fan favorite,” says SunnyJim Morgan, the chair for Norwescon, Seattle’s annual science fiction and fantasy convention that has run continuously since 1978 and attracts up to 2,300 fantasy and sci-fi fans every year. “He’s one of those A-list, top-tier genre authors that we would love to have come every year. But they often can’t make it because they’re so overwhelmed with requests.”…
(3) 2025 WESTERCON NEEDS YOU TO FILL IN THE BLANK. In a post at Westercon.org, Kevin Standlee announces that the Westercon 77 (2025) Site Selection Ballot has been released. However, because there are no filed bids for 2025 he goes into some detail about how the fate of the convention will be decided.
The ballot to select the site of the 77th West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (Westercon 75) to be held in 2025 is now available online at http://www.westercon.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Westercon-75-Site-Selection-Ballot-for-Westercon-77.pdf. No bids filed to host Westercon 77 by the filing deadline for the ballot, nor have any write-in bids files as of the date of this posting. The final deadline to file a bid as a valid write-in is the close of voting at Westercon 75 (Loscon 49) on Friday, November 24, 2024 at 6:00 pm Pacific Standard Time. The results of voting will be announced at the Westercon 75 Business Meeting on the morning of Saturday, November 25, 2024. Should no valid bid win the election, the Westercon Business Meeting will determine the site of Westercon 77 per the provisions of the Westercon Bylaws.
There is a site for the 2024 convention — Westercon 76. It will be held in Salt Lake City, UT from July 4-7.
(4) SAG-AFTRA STRIKE PROGRESS. Note: the main articles at the links mainly discuss Monday’s negotiations, with some updates from Tuesday’s session.
…As has been the case for months, AI remains one of the major issues that divides the two sides. The studios are looking to seal the deal with what one source called “an expanded version of what the WGA agreed to,” while the guild wants project-specific protections on scans of performers and re-use of their likenesses. Well-positioned sources on both sides admit that part of the problem is coming up with effective guardrails for a technology that is evolving in leaps and bounds….
The Hollywood Reporter adds, “As SAG-AFTRA Responds to Studio Offer, AI Protections for High-Earning Members Remain Sticking Point”.
… Multiple sources familiar with the state of the negotiations tell The Hollywood Reporter that SAG-AFTRA has pushed back on an AI clause that is included in the studios’ latest offer. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is seeking to secure AI scans for Schedule F performers — guild members who earn more than the minimum for series regulars ($32,000 per TV episode) and feature films ($60,000). The companies’ suggested clause would require studios and streamers to pay to scan the likeness of Schedule F performers. SAG-AFTRA is seeking to attach compensation for the reuse of AI scans, as AMPTP member companies would also need to secure consent from the performer. The language in the AMPTP’s offer would see the studios and streamers secure the right to use scans of deceased performers without the consent of their estate or SAG-AFTRA, according to a union-side source….
(5) UNLISTED NUMBERS FROM NOW ON. “The ‘Wall Street Journal’ Drops Its Bestseller Lists” – Publishers Weekly tells why.
The Wall Street Journal has stopped running its weekly bestseller lists. The final lists were carried in the past weekend’s editions. The paper ran a total of six fiction and nonfiction lists, as well as a hardcover business list. All were powered by Circana BookScan.
The fiction and nonfiction categories were both divided into hardcover, e-book, and combined lists. In something of a unique feature, the lists combined adult and children’s titles on one list. Thus, last week’s top-selling hardcover fiction book was Jeff Kinney’s No Brainer, while The Woman in Me by Britney Spears was number one in all three nonfiction categories, including the e-book/print combined list.
Paul Gigot, editorial page editor at the WSJ, said that the company’s contract with Circana expired, “and we are not renewing it.” He added that all other aspects of the paper’s book coverage will “continue as usual.”
(6) TOTALING THE UNACCOUNTABLE. The New York Times’ Ian Wang reviews Naomi Alderman’s new novel, The Future: “In ‘The Future,’ Earth Barrels Toward Fiery Destruction”.
There are few figures in the Bible more cruelly evocative than Lot’s wife, who is transfigured into a pillar of salt for looking back at Sodom. The poet Anna Akhmatova mourned “her swift legs rooted to the ground”; Kurt Vonnegut wrote of her backward glance, “I love her for that, because it was so human.” Naomi Alderman’s “The Future,” like much great science fiction, turns the symbolic into tangible, chemical reality. Early in her novel, a woman is frozen to death with a chemical refrigerant made of paramagnetic salts: a Lot’s wife for the Information Age.
Alderman’s Sodom is our own polarized, plutocratic world. Some names have been changed — instead of Bezos or Musk, we have Lenk Sketlish, Zimri Nommik and Ellen Bywater as our unsavory tech tyrants — but the pressure points are the same: A.I., algorithms, deadly pandemics and the existential threat of climate change, all bound up with the rise of an increasingly unaccountable billionaire class. Whether by divine will or not, “The Future” finds the earth barreling toward fiery destruction….
(7) THE MEASURE OF AMERICANS AND THEIR BOOKS. Book Riot attempts to answer a question with the help of two studies: “What Are The Book-Owning and Book-Reading Habits of Americans? Two New Reports Shed Insight”.
The poll from YouGov includes this information:
- 20% of Americans own between one and ten books;
- 14% own between 11 and 25 books; and
- 13% between 26 and 50.
There are more interesting numbers related to book ownership, too. Only 9% state that they own no physical books, while 69% own fewer than 100. Some 6% have no idea how many books they own. For those of you thinking that you’re now among the percentage of Americans who own a lot of books, you might be right: 4% of Americans claim to own between 500 and 1,000 books, while 3% claim to own more than 1,000 books. These numbers represent physical books, which remain the most common type of book for Americans to own. About 50% of Americans own an ebook, while 9% claim to own at least 100 ebooks…
The article also covers results of a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts.
(8) IF AND ONLY IF. When Worlds of IF is revived the staff will include Robert Silverberg as contributing editor. And bonus content is already being posted to the website.
Worlds of IF is pleased to welcome science fiction legend Robert Silverberg as contributing editor. A multiple winner of both Hugo and Nebula Awards, a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, and a Grand Master of SF, his input and stories will be a welcome addition to the revival of the magazine.
In addition to finalizing the editorial staff and acquisitions for the inaugural issue, Worlds of IF is rolling out bonus content on the website with new features added frequently including “An Interview with Gideon Marcus of Galactic Journey”, multiple time Hugo Finalist, and audio adaptations of classic stories from the pages of IF, most recently “Double Take” by Wilson Parks Griffith from 1955 and “Communication” by Charles Fontenay from 1956.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 7, 1910 — Pearl Argyle. Catherine CabalI in the 1936 Things to Come as written by H.G. Wells based off his “The Shape of Things to Come” story. Being a dancer, she also appeared in 1926 The Fairy Queen opera by Henry Purcell, with dances by Marie Rambert and Frederick Ashton. Her roles were Dance of the Followers of Night, an attendant on Summer, and Chaconne. At age thirty-six, she died of a sudden massive cerebral hemorrhage while visiting her husband in New York. (Died 1947.)
- Born November 7, 1914 — R. A. Lafferty. Writer known for somewhat eccentric usage of language. His first novel Past Master would set a lifelong pattern of seeing his works nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards as novels but not winning either though he won a Hugo short story for “Eurema’s Dam”. He had received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was honored with the Cordwainer Smith Foundation’s Rediscovery award. (Died 2002.)
- Born November 7, 1950 — Lindsay Duncan, 73. Adelaide Brooke in the Tenth Doctor‘s “The Waters of Mars” story and the recurring role Lady Smallwood on Sherlock in “His Last Vow,” “The Six Thatchers,” and “The Lying Detective”. She’s also been in Black Mirror, A Discovery of Witches, Frankenstein, The Storyteller: Greek Myths, Mission: 2110 and one of my favorite series, The New Avengers.
- Born November 7, 1954 — Guy Gavriel Kay, 69. So the story goes that when Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay who was then a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. And Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion. Cool, eh? Kay’s own Finovar trilogy is the retelling of the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere which is why much of his fiction is considered historical fantasy. Tigana likewise somewhat resembles Renaissance Italy . My favorite work by him is Ysabel which strangely enough is called an urban fantasy when it isn’t. It won a World Fantasy Award.
- Born November 7, 1960 — Linda Nagata, 63. Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to win the Nebula Award. She writes largely in the Nanopunk genre which is not be confused with the Biopunk genre. To date, she has three series out, to wit The Nanotech Succession, Stories of the Puzzle Lands (as Trey Shiels) and The Red. She has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel for The Bohr Maker which the first novel in The Nanotech Succession. Her 2013 story “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and The Red: First Light was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Her site is here.
- Born November 7, 1974 — Carl Steven. He appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a young Spock, thereby becoming the first actor other than Leonard Nimoy to play the role in a live action setting. Genre one-offs included Weird Science, Teen Wolf and Superman. He provided the voice of a young Fred Jones for four seasons worth of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo which can be construed as genre. Let’s just say his life didn’t end well and leave it at that. (Died 2011.)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- The Far Side demonstrates that aliens need anger management too.
(11) LOST RELIC OF THE LIGHTER-THAN-AIR AGE. Any number of times I drove past this structure just to soak up the history. Gone now. “Fire destroys second world war-era blimp hangar in California” – the Guardian has the story.
A giant second world war-era wooden hangar that was built to house military blimps based in southern California was destroyed on Tuesday in a raging fire that authorities expect could continue burning for days.
Firefighters responded to the blaze just before 1am, the Orange county fire authority said, and found the hangar “fully engulfed” with flames tearing through the roof. The ferocity of the fire brought more than 70 firefighters to the scene and prompted authorities to make the unusual decision of deploying helicopters typically used to fight wildfires in an effort to slow the blaze.
Crews were unable to stop it from within the hangar due to the “dynamic nature” of the fire and the collapse risk, fire chief Brian Fennessy said at a news conference on Tuesday morning. Officials determined the only way to fight the fire was to allow the landmark to collapse.
“It’s a sad day for the city of Tustin and all of Orange county,” Fennessy said.
Fennessy said no injuries were reported. The blaze could continue burning for hours, or even days, he said.
The historic hangar was one of two built in 1942 for the US navy in the city of Tustin, about 35 miles south-east of Los Angeles. At the time, the navy used lighter-than-air ships for patrol and antisubmarine defense.
According to the city, the hangars are 17 stories high, more than 1,000ft long and 300ft wide, putting them among the largest wooden structures ever built. The burning structure was known as the north hangar….
(12) A BRIEF HISTORY OF MUSIC FOR THE MOVIES (2011), AND FILM COMPOSERS ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION. Steve Vertlieb invites you to read “Vertlieb’s Views: Tribute to Film Music” at The Thunder Child.
“A Brief History Of Music For The Movies! (2011)”
Much of the most profoundly beautiful music of the twentieth century was composed for films. From the earliest days of sound with scores by Max Steiner for both RKO Radio and Warner Bros, Erich Wolfgang Korngold at Warners, Alfred Newman at Fox, and Victor Young at Paramount, this distinctively Western art form would evolve and mature into some of the most significant, and influential symphonic scoring of the last century.
As the late thirties and early nineteen forties arrived, composers such as Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rozsa, Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, and Victor Young would dominate the soundtrack of the American motion picture screen, while Arthur Bliss and others would favor British films with their own original music.
Hugo Friedhofer’s sublime score for William Wyler’s “The Best Years of Our Lives” pervasively influenced the sounds of post war America, while Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Elmer Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein, Alex North, John Green, Henry Mancini, Ernest Gold, William Alwyn, Phillip Sainton, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, James Horner, Ennio Morricone, David Amram, Lee Holdridge, James Bernard and, of course, John Williams would both transform and reinvent the soundtrack of our lives.
Steve also recommends viewing this three hour “live” lecture commissioned by writer/director Robert Tinnell for his film class at The Factory Digital Filmmaking Program on May 4th, 2011, presenting a significantly compressed overview of the history of motion picture music.
It was never intended as definitive but, rather, an understandably simplified evening’s exploration for a then youthful audience of the significance and enduring importance of a century of original film scoring.
A FILM COMPOSERS ROUNDTABLE
This remarkable roundtable of composers and orchestrators assembled ten years ago for a sequence in the unfinished feature length motion picture documentary “The Man Who ‘Saved’ The Movies.”
Below: Pictured from left to right are acclaimed motion picture orchestrator Patrick Russ, Erwin Vertlieb, Emmy winning film and television composer/conductor Lee Holdridge, writer/film score musicologist Steve Vertlieb, and one of the most brilliant composers working in film today, the marvelous Mark McKenzie.
(13) PICKLE FLAVOR TRENDING. Reviewer Angela L. Pagán uses her tastebuds to put the product to the test: “Here’s What the New Heinz Pickle Ketchup Tastes Like” in The Takeout.
…As both an advocate for all applications of ketchup and an ardent pickle lover, I have a lot riding on this new condiment. I’ve chosen to try the ketchup innovation on the perfect blank canvas: a fresh batch of French fries, hot out of the fryer. Two of my favorite items have finally come together as one, but are they truly a match?
Well, as with any real relationship, the pairing isn’t perfect.
One dip of the fries into the new ketchup and the answer is immediately clear. The ketchup tastes like classic Heinz ketchup, full of sweet tang, blended with a dill scent and such a light dill note at the end that you might miss it if you don’t get enough ketchup on your fry.
This isn’t to say that Heinz is pulling a fast one on consumers by not delivering on what the product says it contains (as some brands have lately). Heinz Pickle Ketchup is clearly labeled as containing “pickle seasoning,” which is exactly what it tastes like—a sprinkle of dill flavor mixed into a whole lot of ketchup.
Unfortunately, since this is meant to do justice to pickle fans, the ketchup falls just a bit short of that goal. For a brand that touts its pickle prowess profusely (say that five times fast) in the announcement of this new release, it seems to have fallen victim to the same mistake many other brands make when it comes to pickle products. There’s not enough pickle flavor in this Pickle Ketchup for my taste….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George sells himself on the idea in “Five Nights at Freddy’s Pitch Meeting”.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Lew Wolkoff, Steve Vertlieb, Jean-Paul L. Garnier, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]