Chicon 8, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, today announced the designers of the 2022 Hugo Award base and the 2022 Lodestar Award.
The 2022 Hugo Award base will be designed by Brian Keith Ellison, owner of BKE Designs, Inc., a company local to Chicago. Ellison is academically trained as an architect and is also a life-long fan of science fiction.
The 2022 Lodestar Award will be designed by Sara Felix, a mixed media artist who lives in Austin, Texas. She is the current president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. She also created the 2018 WSFS Young Adult Award, the 2018 and 2016 Hugo Award bases, and the Lodestar Award for 2019-2021.
The Chesley suggestion period is open until April 1st. The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) invites the public to use the form here to recommend works to Chesley voters. The form also has a link to add the images to a photo album.
“Anyone can suggest during the suggestion period,” says ASFA President Sara Felix. “You must be a member to nominate and vote however.”
Eligible works are those (1) done in 2021 or (2) works done prior to 2021 but first displayed or published in 2021.
Not ALL suggested works make it onto the list, which is curated “to make sure we get enough nominations to make it on the ballot.”
The Chesley Awards ceremony will be held at Chicon 8.
(1) DONATE FOR A CHANCE AT A TIARA. Renowned artist Sara Felix says, “I am entering people to win this week’s Tiara Tuesday if they donate to a charity.” The full announcement from her Facebook page is below. Sara explains that while her Facebook shows the event has closed, “if someone donates and lets me know I will enter them in the giveaway.” Email: email@example.com. Here is the text:
Happy tiara Tuesday y’all!
A friend asked me to make a blue and yellow tiara as support for the Ukrainian people. Seeing all the gorgeous flower crowns that are a cultural tradition I thought marrying the tiara, the blue and yellow, and the flowers would be a fitting tribute.
I would like to auction the tiara and donate the money to Happy Kids Poland who supports orphaned children and kids with disabilities, I will pick a name from the donations. (Thanks Mariya for the suggestions!) Any amount is fine!
From their donation page:
“Together, we collect money for children from orphanages who have come and will be coming to Poland. The Foundation will also try to evacuate children who spent their last nights in the basement and Kiev. The evacuation of orphans from orphanages, foster families and other forms of foster care from Ukraine to Poland…To this day, the need for evacuation and safe admission of children has been declared to us by the guardians of 900 Ukrainian orphans from Lviv, Odessa, Chrust, Kherson and other cities. The numbers keep growing.”
…A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine is a sequel to the 2020 Hugo winner A Memory Called Empire and probably the most obvious finalist in this category. It’s also a great book.
Finally, Plague Birds by Jason Sanford is another very pleasant surprise on this ballot, since it got less attention than the other novels, probably due to being published by a small press, Apex Books. I’m also really happy for Jason, who’s one of the hardest working people in SFF. Plague Birds is a great novel as well, which hits a lot of my personal buttons….
(5) FLA IN THE OINTMENT. On the Orlando in 2023 NASFiC Bid Facebook page, Adam Beaton works to turn the current criticism of Chengdu into a political asset.
So, we’ve been seeing the recent chatter about letters and petitions about Chengdu WorldCon 2023, and here are our thoughts:
There isn’t an actual mechanism to take away the Worldcon based on the actions of what that committee’s government chooses to do or even not do. We can say, though, that the power of boycotting has always been a way for many diverse voices to be seen and heard, from the Cogadh na Talún in Ireland to the Swadeshi Movement in India. Such actions can and should always be considered by any of the members of WSFS.
The NASFiC can never be the Worldcon, and no one can promise you that. What we can promise you, however, is our deep commitment to running for you the best alternative to the Worldcon we can–a convention that celebrates the diversity and inclusivity that empowers us all as fans and commits our spirit to “keep moving forward,” as Walt Disney once said.
It’s also vital for us to recognize that some in the community have strong feelings about our own government here in Florida and perhaps even the American South at large. It would be hypocritical to not point that out in a statement like this, and we see and hear all of your opinions and feelings regarding this topic.
The WSFS community is a culture of creativity. We’ve never been afraid to express ourselves through any medium, and in the end, it’s the best advice we can give you all regarding this topic.
Be like Walt. Keep moving forward.
(6) ON GOTHAMER WINGS. Abigail Nussbaum assesses “The Batman” at Asking the Wrong Questions.
…The guiding principle was clearly “The Dark Knight, but more so”. The film is structured more as a crime story than a superhero story, with a strong presence for the Gotham police department, an emphasis on organized crime and institutional corruption, and a deranged villain—Paul Dano as the Riddler—who is obsessed with exposing the seedy underbelly of the supposedly respectable Gotham leadership. This is all well-executed as far as it goes, and to his credit, Reeves improves on the original where it was most obviously lacking. The action scenes are coherent and gripping, and the visuals—though eventually the brown and grey color palette becomes quite tedious—are rich and velvety. But where Nolan’s Batman movies were, for better and worse, putting their own stamp on the material, Reeves’s just feels like it’s turning up the dial on someone else’s work….
…Batman is a superhero who looks cool next to other heroes on screen but doesn’t need them for relevancy. Batman doesn’t need a co-star; he’s the star. He doesn’t need a cavalry; he is the cavalry. This Caped crusader is the one card in DC’s hand that can beat anything Marvel can throw at them….
… But one of the key things that influenced me — and I only realised this recently — was the moment at the beginning of Return of the Jedi when Boushh the mysterious bounty hunter pulls off his mask to reveal… He was Leia all the time!
As a youngster, this seemed revolutionary. I thought it was so badass. I’d consumed quite a few 1960s and 1970s sci-fi movies and TV shows by that point, and those tended to feature scantily-clad love interests with poor survival skills, who regularly needed the hero to come and bail them out of trouble. But here, the princess got tooled-up and went to rescue her man. And she even managed to stare down Jabba the Hutt with a thermo detonator!…
… Booth is dedicated, among others, to the science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin. She’s enormously important to me. I was living in Davis, California when I’d just begun to publish fiction, and the University of Davis invited her to do some events. I got a call: this lunch was being arranged, and she’d asked that I be included. I’d been reading her since college and was completely in awe – the Booker was great, but I don’t think anything matches the heady success of learning that Ursula K Le Guin wanted to meet me! We became friends and I wrote a couple of introductions to her books. One of them I wrote before she died, the other I wrote after. In the one I wrote before, I called her a genius and she made me take the word out; she said it made her feel squirmy. I did as she asked, but kind of put it back after she died, knowing she would not want me to. She’s a truly amazing voice; there cannot be another writer who has imagined more worlds in more interesting ways….
(10) GOODWIN OBIT. Laurel Goodwin, last surviving member of the first Star Trek pilot “The Cage”, has died at the age of 79 reports Deadline.
Laurel Goodwin, an actor who made her movie debut at age 19 opposite Elvis Presley in the 1962 feature Girls! Girls! Girls! and four years later played a crew member in the original, failed Star Trek pilot starring Jeffery Hunter, died February 25. She was 79.
… it was a performance in an episode that never made it to air for which she earned an enduring cult following: She played Yeoman J.M. Colt in “The Cage,” the unaired 1965 pilot for Star Trek that starred Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike. The pilot was rejected by NBC, though some scenes were recycled for a 1966 two-part episode (“The Menagerie”) after William Shatner had replaced Hunter as the Enterprise captain. (“The Cage” subsequently was released in various home entertainment formats.)
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1968 — [Item by Cat Eldridge]McCoy: “Fantastic machine, the M-5. No off switch.”
Fifty-four years ago this evening on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Ultimate Computer“ first aired. It was the twenty-fourth episode of the second season, and one of six Trek teleplays written by D C Fontana — the other five being “Catspaw”, “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, “Journey to Babel”, “Friday’s Child” and “By Any Other Name”. “Catspaw” was originally uncredited to her but she did the final teleplay based on what Robert Bloch wrote though it is said Roddenberry did further revisions.
The story is by Laurence N. Wolfe. This is his sole writing credit. Wolfe was a mathematician, who wrote the original story out of his fascination with computers. Later on Wolfe would give his original draft to Bradbury to pass on to Roddenberry.
It was produced by John Meredyth Lucas who was involved with the series for its entire run in all aspects. He wrote three episodes (“The Changeling“, “Patterns of Force” and “Elaan of Troyius”).
“The Ultimate Computer“ was also considered particularly important in the casting of an African American, William Marshall, as the inventor of the M-5 as well as the duotronic circuit which was the basis of all Star Fleet computer systems.
Reception for this episode is excellent. Michelle Erica Green said of it that, “Star Trek has never done a better ‘bottle show’ – an episode filmed entirely on standing sets, which usually means that all of the action is located on the ship itself.”
And Jamahl Epsicokhan says “A wonderfully acerbic debate between Spock and McCoy about the role of computers is also well conceived, ending in Spock’s well-put notion to Kirk, “…but I have no desire to serve under them.” Following the M-5’s initial success, the scene where another captain calls Kirk “Captain Dunsel” is the episode’s best-played and simultaneously funny and painful moment. (In a word, ouch.)”
Note the remastered episode recreates the entire battle between the Enterprise and the other Star Fleet ships with new ships.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 8, 1921 — Alan Hale Jr. The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre, and he did show up in such films as Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl and The Fifth Musketeer. Series wise, I see he was on The Wild Wild West and Fantasy Island. He was also in the cast of The Giant Spider Invasion film which is most decidedly SF if of a pulpish variety and got the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. (Died 1990.)
Born March 8, 1922 — John Burke. He was active in Fandom in the Thirties, with work in The Fantast, The Futurian and The Satellite. He went pro by the late Thirties in a number of pulp zines. If you read nothing else by him, I recommend his late in life series The Adventures of Dr. Caspian and Bronwen, well-crafted horror. Ash-Tree Press collected much of his superb short fiction in We’ve Been Waiting for You And Other Tales of Unease. (Died 2011.)
Born March 8, 1931 — Paddi Edwards. She’s here for two very different roles. First is for being the voice of Gozer in the Ghostbusters film. Second is having the lead role of Anya on “The Dauphin” of The Next Generation. The casting agents at Disney liked her so she had the role of Flotsam & Jetsam in The Little Mermaid franchise.
Born March 8, 1950 — Peter McCauley, 72. I remember him best from the most excellent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World series where he played Professor George Challenger. He also showed as Mr. Spilett on Mysterious Island, another series shot in New Zealand and based off Jules Verne’s novel L’Île mystérieuse. Continuing the Verne riff, he was Admiral McCutcheon in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a Nineties TV version of the novel.
Born March 8, 1970 — Jed Rees, 52, Another Galaxy Quest performer, he played Teb, a Thermian. His most recent major genre outing was on Deadpool as Jared / Agent Smith / The Recruiter. He’s had one-offs in Ghost Whisperer, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, The Net, X-Files,Outer Limits,The Sentinel and Sliders.
Born March 8, 1976 — Freddie Prinze Jr., 46. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done.
(13) TOK SHOW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nilanjana Roy discusses #BookTok, a branch of TikTok where readers post book reviews.
I quickly added Rebecca Roanhorse’s Between Earth And Sky fantasy series, inspired by the civilisations of pre-Columbian America, and Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library to my book-buying list. I was soon wondering if I should be reading more #enemiestolovers romance, and found myself developing an unhealthy fascination with the melodramatic thrill of ‘crying reader’ videos. (BookTokers believe in sharing their motions, throwing books they don’t like across a room, screaming or lipsyncing to music,)…
…This brief immersion to #BookTok has inspired me to dust off my grandmother’s Mills & Boons, and allowed me to buy new romance novels without snobbish guilt. BookTokers might be much younger than my generation, but they’ve built a place where we can all be #booknerds together.
(14) HAPPIER TIMES. 2006 KYIV EUROCON.[By SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Happier times. Opening ceremony at the 2006 Eurocon, Kyiv. Jim Walker (who has reviewed a number of Eurocons for SF2 Concatenation) behind empty seat. Front bottom left: Ian Watson and Jonathan Cowie looking on.
Over twelve intense weeks at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, I learned how to analyze crime scene evidence, elicit information from informants, and detect a liar from a hundred yards away. As a brand new intelligence analyst, however, my training curriculum (regrettably) did not include reading about immortal demons, parallel universes, or reincarnation. Because that would’ve been ridiculous. A complete waste of time. Right?
Well, maybe not.
Paranormal crime thrillers, where these fantastical concepts thrive, don’t obey the neat and tidy rules of the universe. And in my experience at the Bureau, neither do the cleverest of criminals or sneakiest of enemy spies….
Fifty years ago, astronauts on one of NASA’s Apollo missions hammered a pair of tubes 14 inches long into the surface of the moon. Once the tubes were filled with rocks and soil, the astronauts — Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt — vacuum-sealed one of the tubes, while the other was put in a normal, unsealed container. Both were brought back to Earth.
Now, scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are preparing to carefully open that first tube, which has remained tightly sealed all these years since that 1972 Apollo 17 mission — the last time humans set foot on the moon….
Because the sample being opened now has been sealed, it may contain something in addition to rocks and soil: gas. The tube could contain substances known as volatiles, which evaporate at normal temperatures, such as water ice and carbon dioxide. The materials at the bottom of the tube were extremely cold at the time they were collected.
The amount of these gases in the sample is expected to be very low, so scientists are using a special device called a manifold, designed by a team at Washington University in St. Louis, to extract and collect the gas.
Another tool was developed at the European Space Agency (ESA) to pierce the sample and capture the gases as they escape. Scientists there have called that tool the “Apollo can opener.”
(17) WHEN GRAVITY FAILS. Netflix released this trailer for a new anime movie which begins streaming on April 28.
In a Tokyo where gravity has broken, a boy and a girl are drawn to each other… The story is set in Tokyo, after bubbles that broke the laws of gravity rained down upon the world. Cut off from the outside world, Tokyo has become a playground for a group of young people who have lost their families, acting as a battlefield for parkour team battles as they leap from building to building. Hibiki, a young ace known for his dangerous play style, makes a reckless move one day and plummets into the gravity-bending sea. His life is saved by Uta, a girl with mysterious powers. The pair then hear a unique sound audible only to them. Why did Uta appear before Hibiki? Their encounter leads to a revelation that will change the world.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Scream (2022),” the Screen Junkies, in a spoiler-filled episode, say that the new Scream is, like most movies these days, “A self-referential circle jerk of fan service,” and is “the best Scream since the first one, because it basically is the first one.” But the narrator is interrupted by Scream’s terifying killer Ghostface! Will the narrator survive? “You can’t kill off my friends,” he says, “because I don’t have any friends!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Will R., Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) today presented the new design for the Chesley Award — ASFA’s annual award celebrating the best works in science fiction and fantasy illustration, as voted on by artists and art fans.
The organization commissioned internationally-renowned artist Nekro to create the new design, with initial art direction from current President Sara Felix. “We were looking for a modern interpretation of the muse that propels all artists forward. We thought Nekro would be the perfect choice to craft an inspired take on the goddess Athena who symbolizes wisdom, war, and the arts. He delivered in spectacular fashion,” says Felix.
The final sculpt of Nekro’s work will become the branding identity of the award. The reveal of the final physical sculpt will be forthcoming as a 3-inch medallion, awarded to all Chesley winners starting this year.
The Chesley Awards were established in 1985 as ASFA’s peer award to recognize individual works and achievements during a given year. They were initially called the ASFA Awards, but were later renamed to honor the famed astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell after his death in 1986. The Awards are nominated and decided upon by members of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.
ASFA Membership is available here. The Suggestion List for the Chesley Award is annually assembled by both ASFA members and non-members of the SFF art community. However, nominations and final votes are made by ASFA Members only.
The virtual 2021 Chesley Award Ceremony will be held February 6 at 3:00 p.m. Central. It will be on Facebook and the asfa-art.com website.
[Texas fan Willie Siros died January 5 at the age of 69. He chaired two of the earliest sf conventions in Texas, Solarcon I and II (1975, 1976), the first three Armadillocons (1979-1981), and LoneStarCon, the 1985 NASFiC in Austin, TX. He was a Guest of Honor at the 1997 Worldcon, LoneStarCon 3.]
By Sara Felix: When I was in college I worked at a bookstore at the University of Texas while getting my degree. It was a great little used bookstore and the perfect college job. I fell in love with working in that type of environment and so after graduation when Willie offered me a job one day on the spot during a regular visit to Adventures and Crime and Space I jumped at the chance to work there.
I am not going to lie, Willie was hard to work for. He exasperated me quite a bit as our working styles were very different. But the bookstore was a magical place to me and it felt as though Willie knew something about every author, every story, and every cover artist in the place. Lots of regulars came in to get recommendations from him because of his vast knowledge of the genre he loved so much. We had well attended signings where I got to create ridiculous displays and food. He let me run with ideas I had and people enjoyed the experiences. He was there every single day and he loved sharing his knowledge with the people who came in.
Willie took me to my first Armadillocon in 1999. I mean talk about starstruck, I got to go to lunch with Neil Gaiman and get a drawing in my book from Wayne Barlowe…. It was quite an auspicious beginning to my con experience. Willie knew exactly what he was doing, luring me into fandom. Heh. I have rarely missed an Armadillocon since.
He talked me into working on my first Worldcon with him, Noreascon 4. And when the bookstore folded he had some influence in me getting my first “real job” where I met my husband.
Willie was a part of some of my favorite early fannish memories. As I got more involved in the community I realized how much he had been involved in before my time. He founded and chaired the first conventions in Texas. He was one of the creators of Armadillocon and chair for the first three and helped create the Fandom of Central Texas (FACT), our local fan group. He was the fan guest of honor at LonestarCon 3 and created Instacon (Texas equivalent of Smofcon) to help spread the knowledge of convention running. Many have called him one of the grandfathers of Texas fandom. He certainly earned that title.
Every Texas convention I have worked on he has been a part of too. Worldcons, World Fantasys and Armadillocon. When I put the call out to help with the gallery exhibit I created for ASFA Willie and Chuck (his brother) were the first to volunteer their time and help put the art up.
He was an integral part of Texas fandom and he will be missed.
Was the year too heavy, deep, and real? Yes, but it was also rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts. Thanks to all of you who contributed!
… Like many fans, I had tried my hand with writing, especially as a teenager. I wrote notes, drew weird aliens, and even wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. But during all this I did noodle, consistently, with several recurring characters and a story line. It shifted and changed, of course, as I matured and different interests came into my life, and eventually they just settled in the back of my mind.
… Once when [Tim] Powers was being interviewed at an SF convention someone asked “Do you actually believe in this stuff?” He said “No. But my characters do.” As Gordon Bennett wrote, and Frank Sinatra sang, “This is all I ask, this is all I need.”
… I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). …
… The mission of SAFF is to keep the factual progress of space exploration out there for our community and to help individual Worldcons and other conventions in dealing with the arrangements and funding of space experts as special guests.
… Another solved mystery was that of the vanishing pancake. A friend of mine, by profession police officer, was standing at his stove, frying pancakes. As we both did with pancakes, we flipped them around in the air. So did my friend on this day.
His mystery was that the pancake never came back down. It vanished. There was no trace of it….
Eli Grober’s “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker humorously changes the beginnings of famous books to suit life as we knew it in the plague year of 2020…. Filers answered the challenge to add to the list. Here is a collection from yesterday’s comments….
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed, being careful to maintain a distance of at least six feet.
… It was the Jeopardy! gameshow display screen one saw all the time on television, in real life, just yards away, here inside the cool Sony studios. Six rows across with the categories, columns of five numbers under each. To the right of the large display was Alex Trebek’s podium, and nearby were the three contestant stations.
There were sixteen of us here, and before the end of the day, all of us but one would have our thirty minutes of fame — or infamy — in this very special place.
… The model took off and rose straight up for maybe 100 feet or so before the second stage kicked in, but then there was trouble. Instead of continuing its upward flight, the thing veered to the right and zoomed away horizontally, slightly descending all the while. It went directly over a house across the street and continued on, neatly bisecting the span between two tall trees behind the house. And then it was gone from sight. I remember that my uncle gave me a quizzical look and asked, “Was it supposed to do that?”…
On the evening of Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, presented authors Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin in livestreamed readings on YouTube. (Neither reader is running for Mayor of New York.)
This is the 16th month of virtual readings, in place of in-person reading at the eponymous bar in the East Village in Manhattan, noted Kressel. New York City may be “open,” added Datlow, but they don’t yet feel comfortable “going into the crowd” at the Bar for at least a few more months….
Is there a science fiction movie character you want to smell like? Forget Swamp Thing, c’mon, he’s not in Fragrance X’s catalog. Otherwise, there’s no end of superhero and genre branded colognes you can buy.
There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”
And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show. Working on Dublin was like that for me as well. I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”
But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say…
… Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”
… I began to wonder whatever became of this marvelous actor and so, before retiring for the evening, I started to research Mr. Persoff’s whereabouts on my computer. As luck would have it, I found him and wrote him a rather hasty letter of personal and lifelong admiration. To my shock and utter astonishment, he responded within five minutes….
Stormm began her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X in August and has done 17 regular and two bonus installments. It swirls together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.
The purpose of this presentation is to place Tolkien’s theory of mythopoeic fiction in dialogue with fantasy series by T. Kingfisher in order to argue that her work is feminist and mythopoeic. While there are a number of elements of Kingfisher’s fiction that are relevant to my purpose, I’ll be focusing on two: her version of Faërie and system of magic, and her portrayal of female characters whose relationships are with failed warrior heroes….
The talk of time capsules and 1000-year M-discs in the Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 discussion of item (16), the Louis XIII Cognac 100-year sci-fi film vault, got me thinking that Worldcon should do Hugos for Best Genre-related Work Created 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 years ago….
… Considered to be a genius by many, not only was Hergé skilled at drawing, he was also good at fascinating his readers with mysteries, and intriguing situations. For example, why was Prof. Calculus going into the heart of a volcano, following the agitated movements of his pendulum, instead of running away, like all the others? Perhaps he was so oblivious to his real surroundings, and was so desperate to find the cause of the wild swinging of his pendulum for the sake of science, that inadvertently, he was willing to risk his very life. Or was he running away from mundane reality? And why did Tintin rush back to save his friend from going deeper in the maze of the mountain? Possibly because that was Tintin’s nature, to rescue not just the innocent people of the world, but it also showed his deep friendship with the absent-minded professor….
…After watching [John Wick: Chapter 3], my friends and I got some drinks at a nearby bar. There, I found myself repeating a single word from the movie: “Consequences.” Wick utters this word whenever one of the characters points out that his past may have finally caught up with him. Since I like to drive jokes into the ground, I began to say “Consequences” in response to everything that night, in a poor imitation of Wick’s scratchy voice. Why did we need to buy another round? “Consequences.” Why should someone else pick up the tab? “Consequences.” And maybe I should call out sick tomorrow? “Consequences.”…
Right after the Fourth of July might not be when I shop for Christmas ornaments, but somebody does, because that’s when Hallmark runs its Keepsake Ornament Premiere.
If the timing is for the convenience of retailers, there is also a certain logic in picking a spot on the calendar that is as far away as you can get from a date associated with Christmas trees. It’s plain some of these ornaments are intended for a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, while others probably are destined never to decorate a tree at all but to remain pristine in their original wrapping on collectors’ shelves….
… I couldn’t help thinking of the passage from The Lord of the Rings, where the Crebain go searching for the Fellowship. In fact, there are many birds as spies in fantasy fiction, such as the Three-Eyed Raven, the, One-eyed Crow, or Varamyr Sixskins warging into an eagle in A Song of Ice and Fire, to mention a few….
The Best Series Hugo category was added to the WSFS Constitution in 2017 with a sunset clause requiring a future re-ratification vote to remain part of the Worldcon Constitution. That vote happens next week at the DisCon III Business Meeting. If you were there, would you vote yes or no on keeping the category?
Then down the long hall there arose so much chat, that I sprang from my chair to see what was that? Through archways, past plant pots, I slipped through the throng as the loud murmuration came strolling along.
… In reality, China is a huge country with a vast population and an expanding middle class; an enormous SF field and well established fandom. Chengdu is an established international convention site as well as a centre for science and technology.
I rather suspect that from the Chengdu bid’s viewpoint, the US-centric history of Worldcon is at odds with the very name of the event and its claim to be the leading global celebration of the genre. I do not need to believe there is anything suspicious about the bid, because it only needs a tiny percentage of Chinese fans to get behind it to make it a success….
Though Tolkien’s novels were very successful in the last century, after the Peter Jackson trilogy in the early 2000s, their reach increased to encompass the globe. Irrespective of geographical or linguistic differences, they spoke to us in different ways. In an informal Discussion Group at Oxonmoot 2021, (held online), participants were welcome to share their thoughts/reactions/ take on various aspects of Tolkien’s works, mainly his Legendarium….
… Based on reading 20% of Team File 770’s assigned books, I found there are actually 12 I’d say yes to – so I am going to need to cut two more before I finalize this list….
The saga of Sheriff Trigger Snowflake, the lovely Coraline, and the shenanigans of the Solarian Poets Society added several chapters this year that were not so much ripped-from-the-headlines as amused by the news.
A few days later, down at the Coffee Emporium, Trigger was having breakfast. A nice cup of Bean of the Day and a grilled synthecheese. As he finished the last bite of the synthecheese, Barbara Dimatis walked up to his table.
“Sheriff Snowflake, may I sit?”
“Why, sure, Ms Dimatis. What troubles you?”
“You’ve heard of Bistro Futuristo? Well, turns out that the editor and owner of Futuristo Magazine has made an announcement.”…
… Needless to say, I have witnessed or participated in a number of remarkable, bizarre and historic incidents during my tenure working at Worldcons. I not only know how the sausage was made, I helped make it as well….
To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III – December 19-20, 2021
By Chris M. Barkley:
(Author’s Note: As of this writing, I misplaced all of my notes for Day Four. The things I write about here may be a bit truncated, so please bear with me with this day’s events…)
I woke up relatively early (for a Worldcon), at around 8:45 a.m. Dapperly dressed in my Chelsea FC pajamas and socks, I decide to go down to the Information Desk for the latest Dis N’ Dat newsletter for the latest news and Programming changes.
Just as I exited the elevator, I encountered Laurie Mann and Dave McCarty in deep conversation. Mr. McCarty told me that he was on his way to the Site Selection Meeting and was particularly vexed because the contest between the Chengdu and Winnipeg bids was, as of this morning, in doubt.
This was a little peculiar because under normal circumstances, the identity of the winning bid would have been leaked the previous evening by unknown sources and would have been circulating among the parties last night.
But as I inferred from my earlier conversation with Ms. Mann and Mr. McCarty, this did not happen. By now, most of you may know that the statement from Kevin Standlee a few days earlier cast the election in doubt due to what was perceived by some as an infraction of the rules regarding the lack of valid addresses by those voting for the Chengdu bid.
To my understanding of the matter, a majority of the Chengdu voters used as email address because that is how they interpreted the use of that term in China
Mr. McCarty, who is associated with the Chengdu bid, had no idea whether or not the disputed ballots would be allowed or not this morning.
Quickly realizing that either history, a controversy, or both was about to occur, I bolted to my room, got properly dressed, grabbed a tea and a protein bar and raced down to the Palladian Ballroom for the reveal.
The Site Selection Meeting had been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. but that passed by as the room slowly filled with interested parties.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tor.com)
Two Truths and a Lie, Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)
BEST SHORT STORY
“Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
BEST RELATED WORK
Beowulf: A New Translation, Maria Dahvana Headley (FSG)
BEST GRAPHIC STORY OR COMIC
Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings (Harry N. Abrams)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Netflix / Skydance Media)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready, written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group)
BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
Diana M. Pho
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, publisher Troy L. Wiggins, executive editor DaVaun Sanders, managing editor Eboni Dunbar, poetry editor Brandon O’Brien, reviews and social media Brent Lambert, art director L. D. Lewis, and the FIYAH Team.
nerds of a feather, flock together, ed. Adri Joy, Joe Sherry, The G, and Vance Kotrla
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, producer
BEST FAN WRITER
BEST FAN ARTIST
BEST VIDEO GAME
Hades (Publisher and Developer: Supergiant Games)
LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK (not a Hugo)
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions)
ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW WRITER, SPONSORED BY DELL MAGAZINES (not a Hugo)
(1) LODESTAR BASE. Sara Felix today previewed the spectacular base she’s created for the 2021 Lodestar Award, and the pins for finalists.
(2) NIGHT OF THE COOTERS. A minute-long snip from the project is available on YouTube.
George RR Martin Presents – Howard Waldrop’s Night of the Cooters. Lumenscapes and Trioscope Studios have teamed up to present Vincent D’onofrio’s film adaptation of the classic short story in glorious “Trioscope”. NIGHT OF THE COOTERS tells the tale of townsfolk in Pachuco Texas in the 1800’s rallying around one cause, survival against the unwelcome visitors from “up there”. Join the townsfolk on their journey to figure out what the hell is going on in the big hole at the edge of town. With a screenplay by the one and only Joe Lansdale, and music by the prolific Ramin Djwadi get ready for a ride like no other through the mind of the great Howard Waldrop.
Octavia Butler was a science fiction writer like no other. Her works are essential for their prescient, intricate worldbuilding, empathy, and gripping characters. It’s no surprise that more and more adaptations of her novels have moved ahead in recent years. From a soaring opera to bestselling graphic novel retellings, her work continues to find new fans through diverse mediums.
…It’s a tremendous amount of interpretation by an impressive slate of Black talent, a gift that seems to have fallen from the heavens. Merrilee Heifetz, Butler’s former agent and current literary executor from Writers House, handles the options for Butler’s oeuvre alongside the author’s cousin Ernestine Walker. When I ask what she expects from all these adaptations, she says, “All you can do is try to bring it to people whose vision you feel you can trust. And you look at someone like Janicza [Bravo], her visual style is incredible. I can’t wait to see what she does.” Years ago, when Heifetz saw that Jacobs-Jenkins was interested in writing a Kindred adaptation, she went to see his play Everybody at the Signature Theatre in New York and was impressed. Jacobs-Jenkins, who worked on the HBO miniseries Watchmen, became a huge Butler fan in high school, and when Breaking Bad was in its heyday, he realized Kindred would make a great show. He told his agent he wanted the rights….
…Every year when I read Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” with my students, I wish the psychiatric-ward schedule were hanging in the classroom, because Zamyatin’s novel imagined a regimented way of life, and because it, too, seemed to subvert the flow of time. Born in 1884, Zamyatin was a revolutionary, indeed a Bolshevik; he was imprisoned and sent into internal exile in the tsar’s Russia, and then moved for a time to England, returning just a month before the Bolsheviks came to power. Three years later, he wrote his dystopia, possibly revising it in 1921 or 1922. By the time he had completed a final draft, the Bolsheviks had already imposed censorship and created the secret police. It took them a few years to establish Soviet rule over most of what had been the Russian Empire, to expropriate most property and to build its first concentration camp, and it took longer to establish a reign of terror. But Zamyatin had already written a novel that described many of the specifics of that terror, and of other terrors to come in the twentieth century….
As 1940 dawned, America was recovering, poised between the Great Depression and entry into World War II. Science fiction fandom was growing up.
With maturity came new levels of confidence and accomplishment. Fans asked profound questions of themselves and their peers: Are we special in some way, smarter or more perceptive than others? If so, what does that mean for our role in society? How should we respond to the troubles in Europe? Should we unite under a single banner?
Fans traveled more often, and farther. The central event of the year – the 1940 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago – spurred sojourns from both coasts and across mid-America. Fans gathered and traditions that persist to modern times were established.
All of this comes to life through the words of fans as they wrote them at the time, the passions and fears and aspirations they voiced, the images they drew and the journeys they described. As rich a year in the life of fandom as ever there was, and as richly told by those who lived it.
… It’s difficult to predict whether a book will be a hit. A jar of tomato sauce doesn’t change that much from year to year, making demand reasonably predictable. But every book is different, an individual work of art or culture, so when the publishing industry tries to forecast demand for new titles, it is, however thoughtfully, guessing. Because there are so few reliable metrics to look at, social-media followings have become some of the main data points publishers use to try to make their guesses more educated.
An author’s following has become a standard part of the equation when publishers are deciding whether to acquire a book. Followings can affect who gets a book deal and how big an advance that author is paid, especially when it comes to nonfiction. But despite their importance, they are increasingly seen as unpredictable gauges of how well a book is actually going to sell.
Even having one of the biggest social-media followings in the world is not a guarantee.
“The only reliable part about it,” said Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble, “is that it’s unreliable.”…
(8) ANNE RICE. Andrew Porter shared his photos of Anne Rice taken at the 1988 American Booksellers Association Convention. Rice died December 11 (NPR’s tribute is here.)
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1985 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this date thirty-six years ago, Clue premiered. It was directed by Jonathan Lynn from the screenplay he wrote based on his story off from the Clue game created in 1943 by British board game designer Anthony E. Pratt. (It’s called Cluedo – or Murder at Tudor Close in Britain.) It was produced by Debra Hill, best known for producing various works of John Carpenter. It had a stellar cast of Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull. Lesley Ann Warren and Eileen Brennan. Tim Curry played The Butler.
Most critics did not like it, with both Siskel and Ebert dissing it. Most particularly hated the three alternative endings. It barely broken even at the Box Office despite costing only fifteen million to make.
It was novelized as Clue The Novel, written by Michael McDowell. It includes the three endings from the movie, plus a fourth ending not in the movie.
It however has a stellar rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes of eighty-eight percent. Clue is currently airing on Paramount+. You can purchase it at Amazon and iTunes for six dollars right now. I think it’s a fine holiday film, and an equally excellent film to watch any time of year.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 13, 1915 — Ross Macdonald. He who writes the most excellent hard boiled deceive novels is here because ISFDB lists three of his short stories as being genre: “The Bearded Lady”, “Gone Girl” and “Guilt-Edged Blonde”. Now I’m seriously doubting that Macdonald wrote any genre, but I’m hoping one of y’all has read them and can confirm, whether or not they are genre. And yes, I’m a big fan of his Lew Archer novels. (Died 1983.)
Born December 13, 1929 — Christopher Plummer. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw, which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received. Skipping his role as General Chang in The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I see Plummer’s in Twelve Monkeys and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (Died 2021.)
Born December 13, 1935 — Gary Combs, 86. Though originally uncredited, he was the Gorn Captain in the “Arena” episode of Trek. As a stunt double for Shatner, he appeared on “Operation – Annihilate!”, “Space Seed” and “The Galileo Seven”. He did stunts on The Wrath of Khan as well. He eventually rose to become a stunt coordinator on such films as The Hollow Man.
Born December 13, 1925 — Dick Van Dyke, 96. Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in Mary Poppins followed shortly by being Caractacus Pott in the film adaptation in Ian Fleming’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (No it’s not the same character as he is in the book.) He voices the lead character in the animated Tubby the Tuba film and plays D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy. He narrates Walt: The Man Behind the Myth whose subject matter you can guess. Played Commissioner Gordon in Batman: New Times as well. Shows up in both of the Night at the Museum films which sort of interest me. And yes, he has a role as Mr. Dawes Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns.
Born December 13, 1949 — R. A. MacAvoy, 72. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope. (Tea with the Black Dragon was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II, the year David Brin’s Startide Rising won.) The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells, so do tell me about her other works.
Born December 13, 1954 — Tamora Pierce, 67. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, about her character Alanna going through the trials of training as a knight, sold very well and was well received by readers. That series is set in Tortall, a world akin to the European Middle Ages. What I’ve read of it I like a lot. She won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, a rare honor indeed.
Born December 13, 1954 — Emma Bull, 67. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles, Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me. She’s also been in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cats Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. And she’s on the dark chocolate gifting list.
Born December 13, 1984 — Amal El-Mohtar, 37. Canadian edition and writer. She won Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA, an Aurora and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Very impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past five years.
…”This is the Fantastic Four story I have been wanting to tell for years, and visually it is one of the greatest artistic experiments I have attempted,” says Alex Ross. “I’m excited to share this work with everyone, as it unites the two great publishing forces of Marvel and Abrams ComicArts in a bold new collaboration.”…
(12) MARKETING FACTS. Seanan McGuire hopes readers will pick up the latest book in the InCryptid series despite its appearing as a trade paperback. She was concerned by something she read online that people might hold back. Thread starts here.
As masks, capes and interconnected universes have become more mainstream, so too have the number of superheroofferingsthat include Christmas tree decor and Santa Claus hats. Animation, network television, streaming andeven the Marvel Cinematic Universe have all made room for the spirit of the winter season….
(14) VIRTUALLY PIXELLATED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Can we create a perfect virtual reality? Or are we living in one?
BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week has explored the questions arising out of virtual reality technology. The programme can be listened to or downloaded for a month after broadcast. See the programme episode page here.
Living in the Matrix
What if virtual worlds become indistinguishable from the real one? In 1999 the science fiction film, The Matrix, depicted a dystopian future in which people are unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, run by intelligent machines. As the fourth film, The Matrix Resurrections, is about to be released, the writer Naomi Alderman considers the influence this movie franchise has had in the last two decades, and how far virtual reality has become part of everyday life.
The philosopher, David J Chalmers, proposes that the Matrix scenario could be the future, but that rather than trapped, humanity can lead a meaningful life in virtual reality. Chalmers is one of the leading thinkers on consciousness. In his latest book, Reality+ he provocatively argues that VR is not escapism. And that we may even be living in a computer simulation already – and if that is true, it’s not so bad.
Philippa Garety is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Kings College London and has been at the forefront of treatments for problems associated with psychosis, including hearing voices and hallucinations. She is currently working on innovative treatments using digital technology, including avatars and virtual reality, to alleviate suffering. In a clinical setting VR can be managed as a safe environment for patients who struggle in the real world, as a place they can confront and understand their delusions.
All of which is reminiscent of a neat little ultra-short SF film mentioned on File 770 over the summer (but worth a view if you missed it first time around):
Meanwhile, Isaac Arthur recently used virtual realities as an explanation for the Fermi Paradox
Many believe the future of humanity is to go Digital, uploading our minds to computers, living in virtual worlds that are vastly more efficient and compact. If we might do this, might distant alien empires too? And if so, might this be the reason we don’t see them?
The Riddler has unmasked the Caped Crusader in the upcoming The Batman‘s latest international trailer.
With his ominous voice booming through the entirety of the trailer, we hear Paul Dano‘s Riddler proclaiming that he’s “here to unmask the truth about this city,” before a long sequence of violence and villainy from the troublemaker. Just as the trailer ends, we find out that Edward Nashton ultimately discovers who the man behind the cowl is, calling Bruce Wayne out by name.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]
Sara Felix has started accepting presupports for a Texas in 2031 Worldcon bid. The city is still to be determined.
She says, “Right now presupports are going to my PayPal/Venmo as we haven’t got the accounts set up.” The URL for that is https://paypal.me/sillysarasue. The nonprofit conrunning organization ALAMO, Inc. has a meeting soon and will start setting up the bid structure.
Felix adds, “Sentimentally…. This for me is dedicated to the memory of Fred Duarte who really was the one to get me into running conventions. Willie Siros took me to my first Armadillocon but Fred was the first to take me to meeting with the hotels and started helping me getting involved in con running. He always had the best advice and best gossip a con runner could ask for.”
Earlier this year in her File 770 guest post “Why I Work on Worldcon”, Felix highlighted the depth of experience she brings to the table. She is an artist, the president of The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, and runs their Chesley Awards. She was part of the Mexicanx Initiative at the 2018 Worldcon. With Colin Harris she created the Artist Showcase that has now been a staple at many Worldcons since Chicon 7.