James Hosek Named the 2024 Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award Recipient

Color photo of James Hosek, holding a cat
James Hosek

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) today announced that James Hosek will be honored with the 2024 Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award at the 59th Annual SFWA Nebula Awards® for his outstanding work on behalf of the organization. It will be a posthumous award, as Hosek passed away in December.

The Service to SFWA Award recognizes a volunteer of SFWA who best exemplifies the ideal of service to their fellow members. In 2012, the award was renamed in honor of author Kevin O’Donnell, who dedicated 20+ years of volunteer service to the organization.

James Hosek, known to those in the community as Jim, first volunteered for SFWA as an assistant to the Nebula Awards Commissioner in 2016, helping to vet works on the Nebula Reading List and other tasks as necessary. In 2017, Hosek was named SFWA’s Nebula Commissioner and served for seven years, stepping down from the role in September 2023 due to ill health. He died on December 3, 2023.

Deputy Executive Director (and former Nebula Award Commissioner) Terra LeMay says about Jim: “It is often the case that SFWA’s programs are driven by volunteers who serve countless hours behind the scenes, and this is certainly true of our Nebula Awards, which depend on the tireless work of the Nebula Awards Commissioner (NAC). Elucidating the positive qualities that made Jim Hosek the perfect NAC—he was hard-working, ethical, level-headed, kind, scrupulously fair, and so much more…—would take far more space than I’ve been granted here. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him and glad we were able to notify him of his selection for this award before his passing. He was one of SFWA’s very best.”

James Hosek will join many distinguished recipients of the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, including Connie Willis, Victoria Strauss, Julia Rios, Bud Sparhawk, Lee Martindale, Vonda McIntyre, and Jim Fiscus.

[Based on a press release.]

Susan Cooper Named 40th Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master

SFWA has selected Susan Cooper as their 40th Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master, recognizing her “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.” The award is named after author Damon Knight, SFWA’s founder and the organization’s 13th Grand Master.

Susan Cooper is most recognized for her fantasy sequence for young adults, The Dark is Rising, which has just reached its 50th anniversary. Her other books for children include The Boggart and its sequels, several works of historical fiction, and multiple picture books, most recently The Word Pirates and The Shortest Day in 2019.

Reflecting on the work of the newest Grand Master, SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy shared that “Susan Cooper possesses the rare gift of being able to write for young people with a resonance that endures all through their adult lives. I feel as if The Dark Is Rising books have always been a part of my life. I memorized poems and passages from those books, which I can still recite today. When I first began writing fantasy of my own, I slipped in images and names from her stories in homage and celebration. It’s truly a great honor for me to name Susan Cooper as the 2024 Grand Master, a writer so foundational to the fantasy genre, for both readers and readers who became writers.”

A decorated author, Susan’s works have received the Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor Award, and two Carnegie Honor Awards. She has also been honored with the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award, a Christopher Medal, the Humanitas Prize and awards from the Scottish and Welsh Arts Councils. She received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013.

As a writer, her accomplishments extend beyond writing fantasy and fiction. She was a reporter and feature writer for the London Sunday Times, has written biographies, Emmy-nominated screenplays, a Broadway play, and song lyrics for theatrical performance.  

The award will be presented to Susan during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference and the 59th Nebula Awards, June 6–9, 2024. She will join other legends of genre fiction who have been granted this title, including Peter S. Beagle, Connie Willis, Nalo Hopkinson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, Robin McKinley, and Joe Haldeman. For more details on the conference, including registration and the panels on which the new Grand Master will appear, visit events.sfwa.org.

[Based on a press release.]

SFWA Will Hold 2024 Nebula Conference in Pasadena and Online

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association today announced the 2024 Nebula Conference will be held June 6-9 at the Westin in Pasadena, CA and online. Registration will soon begin at events.sfwa.org.

SFWA says the site was chosen “After an exhaustive, cross-country search that involved dozens of hotel proposals”, anticipating the pushback the announcement has already received from several writers who either hoped the site would move around to another part of the country, or feel Southern California sites are too expensive for them. The in-person component of last year’s hybrid event was held in Anaheim, CA, following three consecutive years of virtual Nebula Conferences (2020-2022).

The date chosen for the Nebula Conference also places it on the weekend following the Horror Writers Association’s StokerCon, another event being held in Southern California — in San Diego, from May 30-June 2.

Pixel Scroll 1/6/24 10 Pixels To Scroll, Number 9 Will SHOCK You

(1) 2024 IS LAST YEAR KRESS AND WILLIAMS RUNNING TAOS TOOLBOX. Taos Toolbox, a two-week master class in writing science fiction and fantasy helmed by authors Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, is open for submissions.

And as part of the announcement Williams told Facebook readers, “This will be the last year that Nancy and I will be doing this. Taos Toolbox may continue under new management (it’s under discussion), but Nancy and I won’t be running things.”

This year’s Taos Toolobox workshop will take place June 2-15, 2024, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Special Guest for 2024 is the creator of The Expanse, James S.A. Corey, in reality the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank…

Special lecturers this year include Jeffe Kennedy, who currently holds the office of President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. She’s been widely published and has special expertise in indiepub, and owns her own press.

The second special lecturer is Diana Rowland, who at various times been an Air Force pilot, a Las Vegas card dealer, a detective for a sheriff’s office in Louisiana, and a morgue assistant, occupations that contributed to writing her Demon and White Trash Zombie series.

(2) MISSING ROYALTIES. Authors are the hidden victims of the cyber-attack on the British Library, which has prevented them receiving an annual rights payment. The Guardian explains: “Richard Osman among authors missing royalties amid ongoing cyber-attack on British Library”.

…In February 2023, those authors would have been paid thousands of pounds each from Public Lending Right (PLR) payments – money earned by writers, illustrators and translators each time a book is borrowed. But not this year.

Ongoing fallout from a massive cyber-attack means that PLR payments will not be paid as expected while the British Library, which manages the service, fights to restore its crippled systems.

Every time an author’s book is borrowed from a library, they get about 13p, capped at £6,600 a year. To authors like Osman and JK Rowling, whose first Harry Potter book was also on last year’s top read list, this might be a drop in the ocean, but for many authors whose books are library favourites it is a different matter….

The British Library was hit by a cyber-attack at the end of October. At the time, its chief executive, Sir Roly Keating, said that access to even basic communication tools such as email was initially lost. “We took immediate action to isolate and protect our network but significant damage was already done.

“Having breached our systems, the attackers had destroyed their route of entry and much else besides, encrypting or deleting parts of our IT estate.”…

(3) STEVE VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. File 770 contributor Steve Vertlieb was briefly hospitalized after suffering a mini-stroke on January 4. He told Facebook friends:

Well, there’s good news and bad news early in the new year. The bad news is, that while at needed physical therapy for my balance on Thursday afternoon, I began babbling unintelligibly. I knew what I wanted to say to my trainers but, when it physically left my lips, it became distorted beyond recognition, rather like mumbling incoherently in my sleep.

They called an ambulance and rushed me to nearby Nazareth Hospital where I spent the next twenty-four hours.

I continued complaining, while in the ambulance, that I simply wanted to go home but they drove me, instead, to the Emergency Room.

I began recovering once we reached the waiting hospital. However, to be on the safe side, they kept me overnight in a hospital room. I knew that I must have been returning to “normal,” however, when I began cracking jokes.

It appears that I must have suffered a “T.I.A,” or what’s called a “mini-stroke.” However, following that isolated assault on my sensory nerves, the seemingly isolated attack that apparently came out of nowhere somehow abated and I’ve recovered.

I had a single previous occurrence some eighteen months earlier on what was to have been my last night in Los Angeles. It’s frightening. I can tell you that. The wiring in your brain goes … you should excuse the expression … “haywire.”

I asked the doctors what I can do to keep this from happening again. They said “You’re doing it. You’re taking all the right medications. Just keep an eye out for trouble signs in future.”

What’s the good news, you may well ask?????????? Well, the simple answer is that I’m Home once more!!!!!!!!!! Unlike the esteemed Mr. Bond, I’m “shaken, yet stirred.” “Toto, We’re home …. We’re Home.”

(4) SFWA’S COPYRIGHT OFFICE RESPONSE. Following up SFWA’s October 30th comments to the Copyright Office, they had the opportunity to respond to some of the many other comments received. With over 9,000 responses, SFWA “focused on specific aspects of the conversation around fair use that we felt were not given due attention, as well as to raise concerns that are unique to our community.” Their 10-page response document can be downloaded from Regulations.gov at the link.

One topic SFWA discussed is the scraping of content that is offered free to readers by online sff magazines.

…SFWA acknowledges the problem of generative AI scraping pirated material published as copy-protected ebooks by professional publishers, but SFWA additionally has the unique position of representing many authors who have fought to make their work available for free for human readers. Over the last twenty years, many science fiction and fantasy authors of short fiction have embraced the open Internet, believing that it is good for society and for a flourishing culture that art be available to their fellow human beings regardless of ability to pay. That availability is not without cost; it is quite difficult to bring an online magazine to market, and being freely available has never meant abandoning the moral and legal rights of the authors, nor the obligation to enter into legal contracts to compensate authors for their work and spell out how it may and may not be used. But on balance, many writers and fans believe that freely sharing stories is a good thing that enriches us all.

The current content-scraping regime preys on that good-faith sharing of art as a connection between human minds and the hard work of building a common culture. The decision to publish creative work online to read and share for free is not guaranteed; it is a trade-off of many factors including piracy, audience, and the simple (albeit elusive) ability to make a living. In too many comments to enumerate here, individual authors have made clear that they regard the use of their work for training AI to be another important factor in that mix, and the ultimate effect on the short fiction marketplace and its role in our culture is far from certain. Bluntly, many authors do not want their work taken for this purpose, and that cannot be ignored.

“If my work is just going to get stolen, and if some company’s shareholders are going to get the benefit of my labor and skill without compensating me, I see no reason to continue sharing my work with the public — and a lot of other artists will make the same choice.” (N. K. Jemisin, COLC-2023-0006- 0521)

The developers of AI systems seem to believe that a green light to use scraped copyrighted work will result in a clear field for them to continue freeloading forever; we fear rather that it will result in large swathes of artistic work removed from the commons, locked behind paywalls and passwords to the detriment of all….

(5) AURORA AWARDS. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Eligibility Lists for this year’s Aurora Awards are open. If you’re aware of any genre work produced by Canadians, submit it. (CSFFA membership required — $10 – to make an addition to the lists.)

(6) WESTERCON 2025 UP FOR ADOPTION. Kevin Standlee announced a “Committee Formed to Select Site of 2025 Westercon” at Westercon.org.

Because no bid filed to host Westercon 77, selection of the site of the 2025 Westercon devolved upon the 2023 Westercon Business Meeting held at Westercon 75 (in conjunction with Loscon 49) in Los Angeles on November 25, 2023. The Westercon 75 Business Meeting voted to award Westercon 77 to a “Caretaker Committee” consisting of Westercon 74 Chair Kevin Standlee and Vice Chair Lisa Hayes with the understanding that they would attempt to select a site and committee to run Westercon 77 and transfer the convention to that committee.

Any site in North America west of 104° west longitude or in Hawaii is eligible to host Westercon 75. There are no other restrictions other than the bid has to be for dates in calendar year 2025. All other restrictions in the Westercon Bylaws are suspended, per section 3.16 of the Westercon Bylaws.

To submit a bid to the 2025 Caretaker Committee to host Westercon 77, contact Kevin Standlee at [email protected], or send a paper application to Lisa Hayes at PO Box 242, Fernley NV 89408. Include information about the proposed site, the proposed dates, and the proposed operating committee. The Caretaker Committee asks that groups interested in hosting Westercon 77 contact them by the end of February 2024.

Should the Caretaker Committee be unable to make a determination for a site for Westercon 77 by Westercon 76 in Salt Lake City (July 4-7, 2024), and assuming that no bid files to host Westercon 77, the Caretaker Committee will ask the Business Meeting of Westercon 76 for additional guidance on how to handle Westercon Site Selection.

(7) MOVING FORWARD – AT OLD MAN SPEED. Tor.com notified those not reading Bluesky that “Netflix’s Adaptation of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War Is Still In The Works”.

We first found out that Netflix optioned the rights to John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War over six years ago, back in December 2017. It’s not uncommon for things to get optioned but never get made (Old Man’s War, in fact, had been previously optioned by Paramount and Syfy without making it to the production stage), but it sounds like the Netflix movie adaptation is still moving forward.

Scalzi gave an update on the project over on Bluesky yesterday, where he said that work on it is “slowly but surely moving along.”…

(8) COPPOLA’S NEXT APOCALYPSE. Another long-awaited sff project finished filming last year and should actually get released sometime: “Francis Ford Coppola Says ‘Megalopolis’ Is Coming Soon” at Collider.

Francis Ford Coppola is renowned as the mastermind behind some of the greatest pieces of cinema in history but as all legends do, he refuses to rest on his laurels and he’s preparing to release his first film in over a decade with his self-funded star-studded sci-fi drama, Megalopolis. The film has been mired by a number of setbacks, but filming wrapped on the project back in March. And now, we won’t have much longer to wait for it to arrive, as Coppola revealed on the latest episode of The Accutron Show.

The film has an eye-watering array of talent attached, including Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Chloe Fineman, Kathryn Hunter, Dustin Hoffman, DB Sweeney, Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, Bailey Ives, Grace Vanderwaal, James Remar, and Giancarlo Esposito.

All that’s known so far about the film so far is that it has a futuristic setting and that it will revolve around the idea of humanity attempting to build some sort of utopian society in the wake of a natural disaster. Other than that, it’s anybody’s guess, and Coppola isn’t up for explaining more quite yet.

(9) WAS THIS THE BEST SF OF 2023? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Every January the SF2 Concatenation have an informal survey as to the best SF novels and films of the previous year. It is strictly informal and a bit of fun, enabling team members see what more than one of the others rate. The years have shown that this informal survey has form in that invariably some of the chosen works go on to be short-listed, and sometimes even win, major SF awards later in the year. SF² Concatenation have just advance-posted their selection for 2023 as part of the “Best Science Fiction of the Year Possibly?” post. Scroll down to see how previous years’ choices fared…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. (Died 1978.) So let’s talk about the British writer Eric Frank Russell. His first published piece of fiction was in the first issue of Tales of Wonder called “The Prr-r-eet” (1937). (Please don’t tell me it was about cats.) He also had a letter of comment in Astounding Stories that year. He wrote a lot of such comments down the years. 

Eric Frank Russell

Just two years later, his first novel, Sinister Barrier, would be published as the cover story as the first issue of Unknown. His second novel, Dreadful Sanctuary, would be serialized in AstoundingUnknown’s sister periodical, in 1948.

At Clevention, “Allamagoosa” would win a Short Story Hugo.  The Great Explosion novel garnered  a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.

Now let’s note some reworkings he did as I like them a lot. Men, Martians and Machines published in 1955 is four related novellas of space adventures at their very best. 

The 1956 Three to Conquer, nominated for a Hugo at NY Con II is a reworking of the earlier Call Him Dead magazine serial that deals with an alien telepath and very well at that. Finally Next of Kin, also known as The Space Willies, shows him being comic, something he does oh so well. It was a novella-length work in Astounding first.

And then there’s the Design for Great-Day novel which was written by Alan Dean Foster. It’s an expansion by him based off a 1953 short story of the same name by Russell. I’m pretty familiar with Foster has done but this isn’t ringing even the faintest of bells. Who’s read it? 

He wrote an extraordinary amount of short stories, around seventy by my guess. 

(My head trauma means numbers and I have at best a tenuous relationship. I once counted the turkeys left over after we distributed them at a food pantry I staffed pre-knee injury. Three times I counted. I got, if I remember correctly now, twelve, fifteen and eighteen birds. I had someone else do it.)

Short Stories Collection is the only one available at the usual suspects. He’s an author who needs a definitive short story collection done for him. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range shows there are always lines.
  • Edith Pritchett’s cartoon for the Guardian recalls how “I climbed the tube station steps and entered another dimension.” Steven French adds, “Of marginal genre interest but having walked up those steps, this made me laugh!”

(12) PIONEERING WOMAN COMICS ARTIST RETIRES. BoingBoing pays tribute as “Aquaman, Metamorpho, and Brenda Starr cartoonist Ramona Fradon retires”.

Famed cartoonist Ramona Fradon is retiring at the age of 97, according to a January 3 announcement from her comic art dealer Catskill Comics….

An extremely long run, indeed. Her comic book career started in 1950, and her career highlights include a 1959 revamp and long run on Aquaman, the co-creation of DC’s offbeat superhero Metamorpho with writer Bob Haney in 1965, a run on Super Friends in the 1970s, and the comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter from 1980-1995.

She also was a pioneer, as one of the only women working in comics during the first decades of her career.

Cartoonist and curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco Andrew Farago wrote on BlueSky, “Ramona Fradon retires today at the age of 97, just a little shy of Al Jaffee’s retirement age of 99. Not sure if that means that cartooning keeps you young or if it just means that cartooning keeps you broke, but what a body of work she’s produced over the past eight decades!”…

(13) WHAT THEY WILL READ IN 2024. “’I want some light in my life’: eight writers make their new year reading resolutions “ – the Guardian’s collection of quotes includes a declaration from Sheena Patel.

‘I’m turning to sci-fi and dystopia’
Sheena Patel

I have a fascination with sci-fi that is purely theoretical. I often think about reading it but never make any attempt to go near such books because I am afraid of the imagination I will find there. Perhaps I haven’t felt I can really access the genre because sci-fi feels like what Black and Brown people can go through on a daily basis. We’re still in an age of empire, even though we are distracted from this knowledge.

I do love sci-fi films though. I had a true epiphany when I saw Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin at the cinema. It was so strange, the alien mixed with the mundane, documentary spliced with fantastical set pieces. Next year I think I will read the Michel Faber book from which the movie was adapted.

In 2024 I also want to tackle Frank Herbert’s Dune books. Earlier this year, I watched the film on my laptop maybe 50 times. At first, I hated it, but then I totally fell in love with it – the visual representation of different worlds opened my mind. Throat singing and nomadic desert tribes could be used as a mood board for the future, but this is already happening now in communities that are regarded as “primitive”. It is the future because it is eternal – such a beautiful thought.

We are fed so much dystopia that reading it in fiction feels hard – but, as the world burns, maybe it is a good idea to hear from artists about where we might be heading. So the other three titles I will try are classics: Octavia E Butler’s KindredStanisław Lem’s Solaris and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin. The present feels so bleak, and our vision of the future so foreshortened, it almost seems like tempting fate – but, without science fiction, how can we dream?

I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel is published in paperback by Granta

(14) HOOFING IT TO MOUNT DOOM. They say “One does not simply walk into Mordor,” but apparently they exaggerated. The Conqueror Virtual Challenges is a thematic program to encourage you to exercise by walking, running, and biking, with solo variations costing from $49.95 to bundles costing $299.95 and up. This link takes you to All 8 LOTR Conqueror Virtual Challenges.

Follow Frodo and Aragorn on an epic journey across Middle-earth with the ULTIMATE THE LORD OF THE RINGS Virtual Challenge Series.

Walk, run or cycle all the way from The Shire to Mount Doom in an epic adventure with one goal – destroying the One Ring. Complete this unforgettable saga by following Aragorn into battle and restoring peace to Middle-earth.

(15) CITY OF HEROES. “11 years after this cult classic superhero MMO was shut down, the original publisher has given its blessing to the community’s custom servers” reports GamesRadar+.

Despite the shutdown of the beloved superhero MMO City of Heroes over a decade ago, fans have been keeping it alive for years with a variety of custom server efforts. Now, one of those projects has just gotten the blessing of the game’s original publisher and license holder, NCSoft.

City of Heroes: Homecoming made the surprising announcement earlier today that “Homecoming has been granted a license to operate a City of Heroes server and further develop the game – subject to conditions and limitations under the contract.” The Homecoming project will remain free and donation-funded, and while there are a few changes to how the project is being managed, it doesn’t look like players will see any meaningful differences in the game itself.

“NCSoft has always had (and will continue to have) the right to demand that Homecoming shuts down,” as the announcement notes. “This agreement provides a framework under which Homecoming can operate the game in a way that complies with NCSoft’s wishes in hopes of minimizing the chances of that happening. We’ve had a really positive and productive relationship with NCSoft for over four years now, so we do not anticipate there being any issues.”…

…The question mark that currently weighs over the license for Homecoming is what this means for other custom server projects, like City of Heroes Rebirth. Today’s announcement notes that “other servers are out of scope” for this license, and the devs say that “our hope is that our license will help us consolidate our userbase with City of Heroes fans from other servers.” There’s already a bit of fear in the community that other private servers might start to disappear following this news, but only time will tell what will happen on that front….

(16) RECORDS BROKEN. Gizmodo tells why “Doctor Who’s New Streaming Home Has Been a Huge Success” – that is, for viewers who can accesss the BBC platform.

To celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary last year, the BBC made a huge, unprecedented move: for the first time, almost the entirety of Doctor Who, from episodes from 1963 all the way up to the then-airing anniversary specials, would be made available to stream in the UK in one place, on the BBC’s own streaming platform iPlayer. And it turns out doing so has helped the BBC break streaming records over the festive period.

The corporation has announced that Doctor Who—and most specifically Doctor Who episodes from 2005 onwards—were streamed 10.01 million times over the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, helping the platform break a previous record for streamed content for the week between January 2 and January 8, 2023, with 177 million programs being streamed in total….

It’s hard to say just how that success has panned out internationally, however. The BBC’s new deal with Disney to stream Doctor Who on Disney+ everywhere but the UK and Ireland only covers new episodes from the 60th anniversary onwards—other contemporary and classic Doctor Who access is spread out on various platforms elsewhere, such as Britbox for classic Doctor Who and Max for post-2005 Doctor Who.

(17) MY BLUE HEAVEN(S). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] So you know how astronomers are always using false color images to show this detail or that detail or what something would look like if it was only in the visible spectrum or some such? well, those can leave lasting misimpression.

New images showing color-corrected true-color likenesses of Uranus and Neptune show the latter ice giant—rather than being a dark blue—is only slightly darker than the former.  “True blue: Neptune only slightly deeper colour than Uranus, say Oxford scientists” in the Guardian.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Kevin Standlee, Kathy Sullivan, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Thomas the Red.]

Pixel Scroll 11/3/23 Scrolled Things Are aFiled At The Pixel K

(1) GAHAN WILSON TV. Episode One of Gahan Wilson’s Tales of Horror TV series debuted on Halloween at GahanWilson.net where it is streaming exclusively.  They will be premiering one or two new episodes each month for the next two years. Episode One is “Phyllis” starring Bourke Floyd and Rachel Alig.

CHATGPT LOVES MY BOOK. [Item by Francis Hamit.]

STARMEN, A blended genre story merging Apache myths, witchcraft, science fiction, fantasy, history, detective, espionage, politics, and romance in a captivating narrative.

Had a conversation with ChatGPT that resulted in that promotional blurb.:  Now I know a bit about AI from covering it during my trade magazine journalism career and my experiments with Artspace.ai.  Any conversation with ChatGPT trains it to serve your needs but the “captivating narrative” bit at the end threw me for a bit.  It seems almost human, doesn’t it, as if it has read the book.

So was that just a lucky accident or could the ChatGPT program have done this? Could it have reached into my computer and read my novel and then compared it to the thousands of other novels and their reviews that have been uploaded to its massive database?  And now makes a value judgement like that?

It could do so in a nanosecond. There is an excerpt on Amazing Stories and other reviews of my other work online and several other books of mine in the Cloud at AWS..  

Will ChatGPT become a literary arbiter because it will always know more than humans do.  (And whose fault is that?  We trained it.)  I suspect that a ChatGPT review may become a default item for book promotion. I’m certainly going to use this just to see if it has any influence.

Two things; ChatGPT is also trained to be very polite so negative reviews are unlikely and a new book is now expected to get dozens of reviews from a variety of  sources; publications, book bloggers, Book Tok influencers, etc. So it will not displace any human reviewer but be just another data point.

(3) MIKE ALLEN Q&A. West Virginia Public Broadcasting interviews writer, editor and publisher Mike Allen about “Sci-fi, Horror And Ghosts In Western Virginia”.

Adams: I’m curious as to what you see when you look at Appalachia. What’s it look like from your perspective in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror world?

Allen: So here’s an interesting thing for me: Roanoke is unique. Some of it, I think, actually goes back to Nelson Bond having been based here, who was extremely active in the 1930s and ‘40s and ‘50s in the magazine scene that existed at that time. Writers like Sharyn McCrumb were making Roanoke, or at least the Roanoke region, their home base. Roanoke has this very robust culture for celebrating its writers, regardless of what they write. Those of us who are based here like myself, like Rod Belcher, who writes under the name R.S. Belcher, or Amanda McGee, who’s an up-and-coming writer whose work is definitely Appalachian and has a bit of witchery involved, we’ve experienced the benefit of that.

There’s no way for me to kind of sweepingly talk about everybody with an Appalachian connection. But there are some I do want to mention. Nathan Ballingrud, who lives in Asheville, is a horror writer who’s had some really high profile things happen lately. His first short story collection, “North American Lake Monsters,” was adapted into the Hulu series, “Monsterland.” The title story in that book, he considers to be an Appalachian story. I mentioned Rod Belcher whose novels have events in West Virginia and the Carolinas. Manly Wade Wellman might be the classic Golden Age writer who’s most associated with the Appalachians. He has a series of stories about John the Balladeer, or Silver John, who is a gentleman who has a guitar strung with silver strings. He wanders through this magical realist version of the Appalachian Mountains and has encounters that are very much based on Appalachian folklore….

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Today’s updates are briefer than planned, as I’ve been working on some other stuff, which might make it into tomorrow’s update.

Photos and video from the Iain M. Banks panel

This Weibo post has some photos from, and a brief write-up of, the Iain M. Banks panel.  (A translated edition of Look to Windward has just been released in China.)

The same person also posted a subtitled video of a 7-minute clip from a Sky documentary, which seems like it was maybe shown during the panel.

YouTube report from the con

I’ve only briefly skimmed this subtitled 19-minute video about the con, so I don’t know how worth watching it is.  The source seems to be a reporter who normally covers Silicon Valley and the tech industry, so there’s a fair bit of stuff about the “businessy” panels as well as things more likely to be of interest to Filers.  There’s a bit of footage from the panel/presentation Nnedi Okorafor was on.

Group photos from the con

It’s not clear to me if the person who posted this image gallery to Xiaohongshu was a volunteer or some other member of the con team, but some of the faces seen in the photos will be recognizable to Filers.

(5) SFWA RESPONDS TO GOVERNMENT CALL FOR COMMENTS ON AI. SFWA has posted the text of a letter the organization sent to the US Copyright Office about artificial intelligence – “SFWA Comments on AI to US Copyright Office” at the SFWA Blog.

On October 30, the SFWA Board and the SFWA Legal Affairs Committee sent the following letter to the US Copyright Office in response to their August 2023 Notice of Inquiry regarding copyright law and policy issues in artificial intelligence, which is part of their AI Initiative….

Quoting from the letter:

… it is with much regret that we cannot yet speak in favor of using AI technology in the business of creating art.

The current crop of artificial intelligence systems owes a great debt to the work of creative human beings. Vast amounts of copyrighted creative work, collected and processed without regard to the moral and legal rights of its creators, have been copied into and used by these systems that appear to produce new creative work. These systems would not exist without the work of creative people, and certainly would not be capable of some of their more startling successes. However, the researchers who have developed them have not paid due attention to this debt. Everyone else involved in the creation of these systems has been compensated for their contributions—the manufacturers of the hardware on which it runs, the utility companies that generate their electrical power, the owners of their data centers and offices, and of course the researchers themselves. Even where free and open source software is used, it is used according to the licenses under which the software is distributed as a reflection of the legal rights of the programmers. Creative workers alone are expected to provide the fruits of their labor for free, without even the courtesy of being asked for permission. Our rights are treated as a mere externality.

Perhaps, then, creative workers uniquely benefit from the existence of these artificial intelligence systems? Unfortunately, to date the opposite has been the case: SFWA has thus far seen mainly harm to the business of writing and publishing science fiction and fantasy as a result of the release of AI systems.

For example, short fiction in our genres has long been recognized as a wellspring of the ideas that drive our work as well as inspiring works in film, games, and television. Writers in our genres rely on a thriving and accessible landscape, which includes online and paper magazines. Part of the success of these publications depends on an open submission process, in which writers may submit their stories without a prior business relationship. This has frequently served as a critical opportunity for new and marginalized authors to have their voices heard.

Over the last year, these venues, particularly the ones that pay higher rates for stories, have been inundated with AI-written stories. The editors uniformly report that these submissions are poorly conceived and written, far from being publishable, but the sheer volume materially interferes with the running of these magazines. Once submission systems are flooded with such content, it takes longer to read and reject a submission than it took someone to have an AI produce it in the first place. Every submitted work must be opened and considered to verify that the writers for whom the system was originally designed are not missed or forgotten….

(6) JOANNA RUSS. LitHub provides readers with “Everything You Need to Know About Groundbreaking Queer Feminist Science Fiction Writer Joanna Russ”.

…Eventually Russ would find a way to channel that disjunction into a remarkable body of literature, including the revolutionary novel The Female Man (1975).

That novel and a selection of other novels and stories by Russ have now been collected and reissued by the Library of America. Not long ago, I sat down with the volume’s editor, Nicole Rudick, to talk about Russ’s life, work, and her reputation as one of the fiercest critics ever to write about science fiction.

JM: Let’s talk about Russ’s development as a writer. She grew up in New York, went to Cornell. She studied with Nabokov, correct?

NR: True, though I think it’s a little overstated. She studied with him in her last year at Cornell and dedicated “Picnic on Paradise” to him and to S.J. Perelman, but I think she came to feel a little silly about that. She named them both as stylistic influences, and she and Nabokov certainly share a metafictional approach, but she talked a lot more throughout her life about George Bernard Shaw.

She grew up loving science, and was a top 10 finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search in 1953. She graduated high school early, and then went to Cornell and switched over to literature. She said that she came out to herself as a lesbian privately when she was a kid and went right back in because she had no models. She didn’t feel that it was real, that it could be done. And that continued at Cornell, where things were pretty traditional in terms of gender roles. And then she went to Yale and studied playwriting but found that she was not very good at it. When she returned to New York, she worked odd jobs, did some theater work, and made some adaptations for radio at WBAI. She was also writing stories and publishing them in little journals and SF magazines.

In the late 60s, she started writing stories about Alyx. She said it was the hardest thing she ever did in her life, to conceive of a tough, independent female protagonist and get it on the page. Feminism was not widespread in the United States at that moment and Russ wasn’t involved in consciousness-raising groups or anything like that, so it was a solitary time to be writing these sorts of things. But they did well. Picnic in Paradise, her novella about Alyx, won a Nebula Award. And then in ‘67, she was back at Cornell, as a teacher, and in ‘69, there was a colloquium on women in the United States organized by the university in the intercession period—Betty Friedan and Kate Millett and a bunch of other panelists talking about sexuality, race, and why women see each other the way that they do. They approached these issues as social problems, not individual problems. Russ was there, and her description of it is so funny—“Marriages broke up; people screamed at each other who had been friends for years…. The skies flew open.” A wave of feminism washed over Cornell, and she sat down and wrote “When it Changed” in the weeks afterwards. Six months later, she saw a novel in the story and wrote The Female Man. But she couldn’t find a publisher. She wanted it published by a trade press and they all rejected it. The excuses were like, “There’s more feminism than science fiction”—that from Viking Press. A lot of women editors were baffled by it and turned it down. It finally got bought by Frederik Pohl [at Bantam Books] in 1975….

(7) CUTTING EDGE. The UK’s Crime Writers Association is expanding their Dagger Awards with two new categories: “Dagger awards adds categories for ‘cosy crime’ and psychological thrillers” in the Guardian.

The growing popularity of two crime fiction subgenres has prompted the creation of two new categories in the annual Crime Writers’ Association awards, including one for “cosy crime” – the subgenre of comforting mysteries that originated with Agatha Christie and is now most associated with Richard Osman.

The Daggers, as the CWA awards are known, recognise authors across 11 categories including historical crime, translated crime and lifetime contribution to crime writing. Next year, the two new awards will be the Twisted Dagger, for psychological thrillers, and the Whodunnit Dagger, for cosy crime….

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to binge BBQ with the legendary Mike Gold in Episode 211 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Mike Gold

I’m extremely pleased I was able to convince the legendary Mike Gold to head out for dinner the night before the con began.

Gold entered the comic industry as DC’s first public relations manager. But as I was astounded to discover, he did some PR earlier than that — as the media coordinator for the defense at the Chicago Conspiracy trial, acting as the intermediary between the press and the likes of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, when he was only a teen.

After DC, in 1983, he launched First Comics, where he edited Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg, Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus, Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar, Mike Grell’s Jon Sable Freelance, and many other classic series. Then after his move back to DC in 1986, he edited such titles as LegendsThe ShadowThe QuestionAction Comics WeeklyGreen Arrow: The Longbow HuntersBlackhawk, and others.

In 2006, he co-founded ComicMix, and in 2011, he received the first Humanitarian Award from the Hero Initiative. And — since he’s five years older than I am — meaning I would have read Fantastic Four #1 at age six, and Mike at eleven, five years counting for a lot back then — I enjoyed digging into our differing perspectives about the early days of comics.

We discussed the way his hiring at DC Comics was all Neal Adams’ fault, how the guerrilla marketing he learned from Abbie Hoffman helped him quadruple direct market sales, the Steve Ditko Creeper cover which sent a not-so-secret message to publisher Carmine Infantino, why editor Murray Boltinoff compared Marvel Comics to the Beatles (and not in a good way), which staffer was “the most disgusting human being I’d ever met in my life,” how First Comics was born, his secret weapon for getting creators to deliver their work on time, our differing contemporaneous exposure to Fantastic Four #1 (and how his related to Merrick Garland), the way an off-hand comment led to a classic John Byrne comic, how the comic book field is like a donut shop, and much more.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 3, 1929 Neal Barrett, Jr. Heavily nominated for many awards including a number of Hugos but he never won. He was Toastmaster at LoneStarCon 2.  He was prolific writing over two dozen novels and some fifty pieces of short fiction including a novelization of the first Dredd film. As good much of his genre work was, I think his finest, best over the top work was the Wiley Moss series which led off with Pink Vodka Blues. He’s generously available at usual digital suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 3, 1933 Jeremy Brett. Still my favorite Holmes of all time. He played him in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in a total of 41 episodes. One source said he was cast as Bond at one point, but turned the part down, feeling that playing 007 would harm his career. Lazenby was cast instead. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 3, 1942 Martin Cruz Smith, 81. Best remembered for Gorky Park, the Russian political thriller, but he’s also done a number of genre novels in The Indians Won (alternate history), Gypsy in Amber and Canto for a Gypsy (PI with psychic powers) and two wonderful pulpish novels, The Inca Death Squad and Code Name: Werewolf
  • Born November 3, 1952 Eileen Wilks, 71. Her principal genre series is the World of Lupi, a FBI procedural intertwined with shapeshifters, dragons and the multiverse. Highly entertaining, sometimes considered romance novels though I don’t consider them so. The audiobooks are amazing as well!
  • Born November 3, 1953 Kate Capshaw, 70. Best known as Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which I’ll confess I’ve watched but a few times unlike the first film which I’ve watched way too much), and she was in Dreamscape as well. She retired from acting several decades ago.
  • Born November 3, 1963 Brian Henson, 60.  Can we all agree that The Happytime Murders should never have been done?  Wash it out of your consciousness with Muppet Treasure Island or perhaps The Muppet Christmas Carol. If you want something darker, he was a puppeteer on The Witches, and the chief puppeteer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And he voices Hoggle in Labyrinth.
  • Born November 3, 1977 David Edison, 46. His Waking Engine series, beginning with the rather excellent Waking Engine novel, an urban fantasy set in the afterlife, would’ve been great. His only other novel, Sandymancer, merges fantasy and hard SF. 

(10) IN THE SAME SPIRIT. “We Almost Got a Superhero Movie from The Exorcist Director William Friedkin” says Literary Hub.

In 1975, four years after the release of The French Connection, William Friedkin revealed to a reporter the inspiration for the film’s celebrated car chase scene.

It was the cover of a comic book: a man runs terrified on elevated tracks, just a few steps ahead of a train. He is handsome and athletic. Save for a domino mask, he is dressed like a classic Hollywood detective, in a blue suit and loose tie; he bears no resemblance to Gene Hackman’s slovenly everyman “Popeye” Doyle. The cover was from The Spirit, a comic that ran as a seven-page newspaper insert throughout the 40s and early 50s. The series, created by Will Eisner, was admired for its black humor, innovative compositions, shocking violence, and its setting in a precisely realized urbanscape. “Look at the dramatic use of montage, of light and sound,” Friedkin told the reporter. “See the dynamic framing that Eisner employs, and the deep, vibrant colors.”

Friedkin may not have been telling the truth. The comic he showed the reporter was a reprint that had been published after the release of The French Connection. The stories were three decades old, but the covers were new. Still, it was good publicity for the project he was then planning, a feature-length pilot for an NBC series that would feature the Spirit, aka Denny Colt, a detective who has risen from the dead, lives in a cemetery, and fights crime with his wits, his fists, and a willingness to withstand pain that borders on masochism….

(11) ITALIAN POLITICAL BRANDING USING LOTR. Jamie Mackay asks “How did The Lord of the Rings become a secret weapon in Italy’s culture wars?” in a Guardian opinion piece.

As a longtime fan of JRR Tolkien, I’ve long felt put out by Giorgia Meloni’s bizarre obsession with The Lord of the Rings. Over the years, Italy’s ultra-conservative prime minister has quoted passages in interviews, shared photos of herself reading the novel and even posed with a statue of the wizard Gandalf as part of a campaign. In her autobiography-slash-manifesto, she dedicates several pages to her “favourite book”, which she refers to at one point as being a “sacred” text. When I read the news this week that Italy’s culture ministry is spending €250,000 to organise a Tolkien show at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, and that Meloni will attend the opening, I couldn’t help wondering: why? What is this government trying to achieve by stamping its mark so aggressively on one of the world’s most loved fantasy sagas?

My Italian friends don’t get the fuss. This is everyday politics, they say, a simple branding exercise to soften Meloni’s image. Perhaps. But there’s a deeper, and frankly stranger, side to this story. When The Lord of the Rings first hit Italian shelves in the 1970s, the academic Elémire Zolla wrote a short introduction in which he interpreted the book as an allegory about “pure” ethnic groups defending themselves against contamination from foreign invaders. Fascist sympathisers in the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) quickly jumped on the provocation. Inspired by Zolla’s words, they saw in Tolkien’s world a space where they could explore their ideology in socially acceptable terms, free from the taboos of the past. Meloni, an MSI youth wing member, developed her political consciousness in that environment. As a teenager she even attended a “Hobbit Camp”, a summer retreat organised by the MSI in which participants dressed up in cosplay outfits, sang along to folk ballads and discussed how Tolkienian mythologies could help the post-fascist right find credibility in a new era….

(12) STREAMING TOP 10. JustWatch has released the top 10 streaming movies and TV shows for October 2023.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Marvel Studios’ Echo” official trailer dropped today. The series begins streaming January 10 on @DisneyPlus and @Hulu.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Francis Hamit, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, and John King Tarpinian  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/2/23 Three Files, Three Scrolls, Three Thousand Pixels

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Part two of Huawen’s con report

The first part of this con report was covered in yesterday’s Scroll; here are some extracts from the second part, as usual via Google Translate with manual cleanup edits.

(Warning: the original post is very meme heavy towards the end; I’ve skipped them in these extracts.)

4. Remote location, but very high standards

Many people have mentioned it before, and I have to say it again, the venue is indeed very, very remote!  [As mentioned in yesterday’s report, I believe that Huawen lives in a different district of Chengdu, although he mentions elsewhere in the report of not understanding Sichuan dialect, which makes me think he wasn’t originally a local?] …

However, being in a remote area with few people also has the advantage of being convenient for closed management…

The organizing committee actually had the ability to persuade the traffic control department to work overtime to help, and it must have been very hard work to control such a large area for such a long time.

5. The publicity and display work is in place

I can see the promotion of this convention in various forms almost anywhere in Chengdu…

Once, when we were having dinner a few kilometers away from the venue, the proprietor of the establishment asked curiously, was there any conference going on there? We quickly responded, yes, yes, a science fiction convention, the World Science Fiction Convention. She asked what a science fiction conference was, and we explained it for a long time. We had never explained it in this way before, and I don’t know if she understood it.

Then she asked a question that sent shivers down our spines – “Can you take me in to sell packed lunches?” …

6. I’m sorry about the ticketing problem

[There were] more than 20 million citizens who were eager to practice their English for the Chengdu World University Games without thinking about food or drink. The overwhelming publicity also directly ignited the enthusiasm for science fiction among Chengdu citizens.

Soon everyone would see it!

In August, before the large-scale publicity machine was launched, nearly 3,000 people bought offline tickets in just two days. At that time, the organizing committee estimated that the final number of participants would be around 8,000.

In the end, no one expected that the tickets would no longer be available as of September 21st!!! …

The originally unlimited tickets were all bought up by Chengdu citizens!  It was only September, and there was still a full month before the conference! …

However, I realized something was amiss – oops!  I haven’t bought a ticket for myself yet!

7. The regrettable and heart-wrenching drawing of lots for the three major ceremonies

However, now there was a problem that was not expected before; that is, the ticket purchase and admission channels were not unified.  [These groups were]

(1) During the 2021 site selection voting period, there were about 2,000 people who spent 640 yuan [around $87 USD] to support Chengdu’s site-selection bid.
(2) Those who bought a membership on the official website in August 2023.
(3) Those who bought 5-day tickets on Damai.com in September 2023.
(4) One-day tickets purchased on Damai.com in October 2023.
(5) Guests from home and abroad.
(6) Con staff from who have to go to the venue to work.
(7) Venue security personnel.
(8) Concerned about and inspected the leaders and accompanying personnel at all levels of the conference.  [I put this through a couple of different machine translators, and couldn’t get anything readable; I assume he means VIPs, other bigwigs, and their entourages] …

Then, not all guests have special privileges. It has been observed that a considerable number of guests do not have access right “1”, to the Hugo Hall. Maybe this was a secret, but I heard that some of the finalists had almost no right to enter to receive their award.  

In the end, access to the ceremonies was mainly distributed among three groups: 1, 2, and 3.

Even if there were 3,500 passes for each ceremony, that might not be enough to distribute among such a huge groups of people, perhaps close to 10,000…

This was a valuable learning experience for me.

If hosting a future event, you must have a venue space that is large enough to accommodate everyone to be able to sit and watch.  And be sure to leave enough redundancy.

Taiyo Fujii’s report on his “Decolonize the Future” panel

His personal site has this write-up of a panel he moderated, which I think is a translation from the Japanese article.  An excerpt, with minor edits for style and grammar:

After introducing the panel’s participants, I retold the time of how we Japanese encountered Chinese SF.  Through the efforts of Mr. Kenji Iwagami, in the late 1970s the Japanese SFF community became aware of modern Chinese SFF.  Mr. Iwagami translated and published many volumes over the decades for our community, but we did not pay much attention.  Only in 2015 and 2016, when The Three Body Problem and Invisible Planets were translated by Ken Liu into English, and then won Anglophone awards, did we turn our gaze to our neighbouring country.  We discovered Chinese SFF by the road paved by the Anglophones.  Of course, Ken is not a colonizer, and neither is the Worldcon community.  But our attention and marketing had been colonized by English-language SFF.

Audience member Phong Quan also posted a thread on Twitter about the panel.  

Fujii also posted a four-part Mastodon thread about another panel he was on, about the “Localization Paths of Science Fiction in Non-English-Speaking Countries”.

Online Chengdu Worldcon site down – but not in China?

SF Light Year posted on Weibo about the online component of the con.  This prompted me to have a look at the online site to see what was up there now, but I just got an error page.  Given that that site still seems to be accessible in China, I asked people on Twitter and Mastodon to do similar checks, but it seems that everyone outside China got the same error as me.   Just as a sanity check I verified that URL matches the one posted on the con’s site on October 17th.

Based on a screenshot I was sent, there are 20 “replay” videos available; I suspect most of them are the “businessy” things that were available as livestreams, and so probably of minimal interest to most fans, but I would imagine the three ceremonies are amongst those 20.

SF Light Year’s post also links to a URL that has details of the contract/bid for the online part of the con.  Unfortunately that also seems to be a webpage that foreign visitors aren’t allowed to access, but there is a screengrab of it in the Weibo post, indicating that the winning bid to build the online component was 1.85 million yuan, around a quarter of a million US dollars.  (It’s unclear if this covered just the 3D environment with avatars, and/or the video streaming bandwidth and servers.)  Given that the contract was awarded to China Telecom, who were one of the two top-tier sponsors of the con, the value of the contract might simply be a case of one part of that business moving money to another part. making it slightly meaningless.

Hopefully this is just a temporary glitch, and by highlighting the problem publicly, it might get fixed shortly…

(2) CHANGE IN SFWA BOARD. SFWA has a new Director-at-Large following the resignation of Jordan Kurella, who left his position for health reasons.

SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy, with the approval of the Board, has appointed Anthony Eichenlaub to serve out the remainder of Kurella’s term, which expires on June 30, 2024.

Eichenlaub ran for the Board last spring and received the most votes of the unelected candidates. As a SFWA volunteer he has worked at the Nebula Conference and as a member of the Independent Authors Committee. He led the effort to create the Indie Pub 101 resource site and assisted with the Heritage Author Republication (HARP) pilot program.

(3) SFWA NEBULA READING LIST. SFWA’s public-facing “Nebula Reading List” is filling up with 2023 recommendations in all the Nebula categories. Fans may find it an interesting source of things to read, too.

(4) MICHAEL BISHOP HEALTH UPDATE. Michael Bishop’s daughter Stephanie made an appeal yesterday on Facebook:

Hi all–I am writing on behalf of my dad, so this post won’t be nearly as eloquent as usual. As many of you know, Daddy is in hospice care now, mostly at home. His wound will not heal, and the pain is great. Between the pain and the medication, he isn’t able to communicate on Facebook and not terribly well on the phone either. However, his birthday is coming up–on the 12th–and I know he would love to hear from anyone who might want to wish him well. He does so love his friends and his fans, and we can tell he loathes not being able to write and be in touch the way he once could. Please send cards to P.O. Box 646, Pine Mountain, GA 31822. Gratefully yours, Stephanie

Here is Andrew Porter’s photo of David Hartwell, and Jeri and Michael Bishop at an ABA convention, decades ago:

David Hartwell, Jeri and Michael Bishop. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter

(5) OKORAFOR Q&A. “Nnedi Okorafor, a pioneer of Africanfuturism, doesn’t want her work put in a box” – an Andscape interview.

Do you have any thoughts on the creative process, maybe advice for aspiring creatives?

I guess one thing that I haven’t really said much about involves fear around the emergence of artificial intelligence and how it may affect creatives. My advice: Don’t stress about it. Keep being human and keep using your humanity to create. And do the work. Don’t be afraid of the work. There are no shortcuts. That’s part of the beauty of creating – that there are no shortcuts.

Enjoy those difficulties. Don’t be afraid of telling your stories. There’s always going to be someone who wants to hear it. And tell it your way. Don’t follow trends. 

When it comes to process: For me, I’m highly disciplined. I come from an athletic background, and that’s really where the way that I work comes from. It’s relentless, and I like work. The discomfort is part of the process. That’s the standpoint that I come from. There isn’t one way to tell a story. I don’t write linearly. I write nonlinearly. I don’t outline. I just sit down and start writing.

There are all sorts of ways. Learn your way of creating. If you’re new to this, give yourself time. When you’re new to this, the only way to find your voice is by experimenting and having the confidence to experiment…

(6) CREATURE FEATURES. “’People were hooked’: A wild show that kept the Bay Area up all night”SFGate remembers.

Late one night in January 1971, a 9-year-old August Ragone sat in the dark living room of his childhood home on Alabama Street in the Mission District, transfixed by the man on the tiny black-and-white television screen glowing in front of him. 

He had an unassuming presence. Wearing a plain business suit and thick glasses, he puffed at an oversized cigar as he leaned back in a yellow rocking chair, a wry grin on his face. Next to him was a small table adorned by a human skull with a candle jutting out of it. A window shrouded in cobwebs loomed over his head. On the wall behind him was a sign with an unforgettable mantra: “Watch Horror Films, Keep America Strong!”

His name was Bob Wilkins, and he was about to present the Bay Area premiere of “Creature Features” on KTVU’s Channel 2 with a screening of “The Horror of Party Beach,” a wonky ’60s monster movie with a reputation so poor Stephen King once called it “an abysmal little wet fart of a film.”

Ragone, who begged his mother to sit through the film with him, was riveted. There was something about Wilkins’ unexpectedly calming, Bob Ross-like persona, the spooky atmosphere of the set, and the funky theme music that was unlike anything he had experienced before. Even more bewildering was what the host said in a droll monotone during his introduction: “Don’t stay up late, it’s not worth it.”

For the next 14 years, the Bay Area would do exactly the opposite….

(7) STREAMER PASSWORD SHARING. Disney+ is cracking down on password sharing starting today. A study with JustWatch users about how much they are using shared accounts shows that Disney+ is the most shared streaming service among JustWatch users in the US – almost twice as much as Prime Video.

(8) BB&B. Brooklyn Books & Booze on November 21, 2023 will feature readings by Marielena Gomez, C.S.E. Cooney, Stephanie Feldman and Sarena Straus.

The free event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern at Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room at 86th 34th Street, Brooklyn, NY. For more information, go to BrooklynBooksBooze.com.

(9) KEN MATTINGLY (1936-2023) Former NASA astronaut Rear Adm. (ret.) Thomas K. (TK) Mattingly II (known to the public as Ken) died October 31. NASA Administrator Bill Golden paid tribute:

…“Beginning his career with the U.S. Navy, TK received his wings in 1960 and flew various aircraft across multiple assignments. Once he joined the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School as a student, NASA chose him to be part of the astronaut class in 1966. Before flying in space, he aided the Apollo Program working as the astronaut support crew and took leadership in the development of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack.

“His unparalleled skill as a pilot aided us when he took on the role of command module pilot for Apollo 16 and spacecraft commander for space shuttle missions STS-4 and STS 51-C. The commitment to innovation and resilience toward opposition made TK an excellent figure to embody our mission and our nation’s admiration.

“Perhaps his most dramatic role at NASA was after exposure to rubella just before the launch of Apollo 13. He stayed behind and provided key real-time decisions to successfully bring home the wounded spacecraft and the crew of Apollo 13 – NASA astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 2, 1927 Steve Ditko. Illustrator who began his career working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during which he began his long association with Charlton Comics and which led to his creating the Captain Atom character. Did I mention DC absorbed that company as it did so many others? Now he’s best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. For Charlton and also DC itself, including a complete redesign of Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating The Question, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove.  He been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 2, 1941 Ed Gorman. He’d be here if only for writing the script for the Batman: I, Werewolf series in which Batman meets a werewolf. Very cool. More straight SFF is his Star Precinct trilogy with Kevin Randle which is quite excellent, and I’m fond of his short fiction which fortunately is available at the usual suspects. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 2, 1942 Carol Resnick, 81. Wife of that Resnick who credited her according to several sources with being a co-writer on many of his novels. He also credited her as being a co-author on two movie scripts that they’ve sold, based on his novels Santiago and The Widowmaker. And she’s responsible for the costumes in which she and Mike appeared in five Worldcon masquerades in the Seventies, winning awards four times.
  • Born November 2, 1949 Lois McMaster Bujold, 74. First let’s note she’s won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record, not counting his Retro Hugo. Quite impressive that. Bujold’s works largely comprise three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion series, and the Sharing Knife series. Early on she joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published with Lillian Stewart Carl StarDate, a Trek fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster.
  • Born November 2, 1955 Nisi Shawl, 68. An African-American writer, editor, and journalist. They write and teach about, and I quote from their site, “how fantastic fiction might reflect real-world diversity of gender, sexual orientation, race, colonialism, physical ability, age, and other sociocultural factors”. Their short stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, the Infinite Matrix and Strange Horizons. Their “Filter House” story won an Otherwise Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award; they got a Solstice Award (a SFWA award for distinguished contributions to the sff community); their New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, and an Ignyte Award for incredible feats in storytelling and outstanding efforts toward inclusivity of the genre. Cool award indeed. 

(11) MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS. “The Major and His Legacy – The Major, A Real Life Hero” is a website devoted to a pioneer publisher of comic books.

The annals of comic book history are studded with legendary names, but one of the most pivotal, yet often overlooked, is that of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. As one of the founding figures of DC Comics, “the Major” was one of the pioneers of the American comic book industry, laying the groundwork for an empire of imagination. Today, his legacy continues to flourish and evolve in the hands of his granddaughter, Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson..,.

…Before the Major came along, comic books that existed, with a few exceptions, were reprints of the comic strips from the daily newspapers. This changed in 1934 when the Major began publishing Fun Comics and New Fun Comics, featuring original artwork and stories. What could possibly motivate someone to launch such an untested venture at the height of the Great Depression, when a staggering 25 percent of the American populace was out of work, and to do so in a new and unfamiliar medium? It was an enormous risk….

(12) STRIKES + ECONOMIZING = KRYPTONITE. Deadline reports that “’Superman & Lois’ To End With Upcoming Season 4 At CW”.

The end is in sight for Superman & Lois. The CW series, starring Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch as the title characters, will conclude with its upcoming 10-episode fourth season, marking the end of the DC series’ era at The CW. The final season is slated to air on The CW in 2024….

It has been tough going for Superman & Lois, combined with the strikes and budget cuts that came with the series’ Season 4 renewal. As we previously reported, those cuts impacted the writers room, which underwent downsizing for the upcoming season, going from eight writers down to five.

Superman & Lois, along with All American: Homecoming were renewed in June after producing studio Warner Bros. Television agreed to deliver the new seasons at a significantly lower license fee to make them feasible for the network under its new lower-cost original programming model. For the shows to still make financial sense for the studio, their budgets were slashed, leading to cast reductions, with not all of the series regulars asked to come back full-time….

(13) THEY ALSO SERVE. The Guardian’s Catherine Bray assesses a sff comedy in “The Bystanders review – British parallel-universe comedy of invisible guardian angels”.

Peter (Scott Haran) is a former child chess prodigy who these days excels at nothing much in particular, except perhaps his ability to blend into the background. A birthday card at his office is handed to him to sign – for his own birthday. None of his colleagues know who he is, and the card is crammed with polite, anodyne messages. But he discovers that there’s one arena in which his anonymity might be a boon rather than a liability: he is recruited into the world of Bystanding, a parallel universe filled with invisible guardian types whose job is to imperceptibly guide or nudge their charges into making better life choices. They are all, in their own ways, as unremarkable as Peter, hence their selection for bystander duty.

There’s a scrappy energy to this British sci-fi comedy that offsets its micro-budget limitations. The premise is part of a cinematic family tree of quirky, metaphysical science fiction that includes the likes of Cold SoulsThe Adjustment Bureau and Another Earth. There’s also a strong strand of UK comedy in the DNA, recalling material like Red Dwarf and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in its desire to juxtapose the mundane, trivial annoyances of life with a more expansive sense of the universe. There’s something neat too about the film’s focus on life’s quiet losers, in an era when the loudest “main character energy” personalities seem predestined for rewards in the attention economy. It almost feels like a throwback to the loose mumblecore movement of the early 2000s….

(14) OSIRIS-REX. [Item by Steven French.] Maybe they should try banging on the lid with a knife – works for me when I can’t open a new jar of marmalade!

“NASA can’t open its OSIRIS-REx asteroid capsule yet, but its outside holds more than enough samples” says Space.com.

… According to a NASA blog post, the curation team that’s been processing the samples says it has removed and collected 70.3 grams (2.48 ounces) of Bennu material from the capsule so far — and it hasn’t even actually been opened yet. Those 70.3 grams come from just the area on the outside (and part of the inside) of the sample collector’s head.

“The sample processed so far includes the rocks and dust found on the outside of the sampler head, as well as a portion of the bulk sample from inside the head, which was accessed through the head’s mylar flap,” the post states. “Additional material remaining inside the sampler head, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, or TAGSAM, is set for removal later, adding to the mass total.”…

(15) SGT. PEPPER’S HI-TECH BAND. “The Beatles ‘Now and Then’: Listen to their last new song”AP News issues an invitation.

The final Beatles recording is here.

Titled “Now and Then,” the almost impossible-to-believe track is four minutes and eight seconds of the first and only original Beatles recording of the 21st century. There’s a countdown, then acoustic guitar strumming and piano bleed into the unmistakable vocal tone of John Lennon in the song’s introduction: “I know it’s true / It’s all because of you / And if I make it through / It’s all because of you.”

More than four decades since Lennon’s murder and two since George Harrison’s death, the very last Beatles song has been released as a double A-side single with “Love Me Do,” the band’s 1962 debut single.

There is a short “making of” film about the work done over the years to produce this recording: “The Beatles – Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, Janice Morningstar, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]

Pixel Scroll 10/23/23 In A Scroll In The File, There Lived A Pixel

(1) WORLDS OF IF REVIVAL. The title that won three straight Hugos in the Sixties under the editorship of Frederik Pohl, Worlds of If, then folded in 1974, is making a comeback here.

The classic science fiction magazine Worlds of IF will live again starting February 2024. The magazine will be relaunched with Justin Sloane of Starship Sloane as editor-in-chief and publisher, Jean-Paul L. Garnier of Space Cowboy Books filling the role of deputy-editor-in-chief, and Dr. Daniel Pomarède as science editor. The inaugural issue will be available both in print and free download PDF, with works from multiple generations of SFF authors, artists, and poets. Leading up to the release, the website will feature teasers including interviews with notable SFF authors and fans, audio adaptations of classic tales from the original IF, and articles about SFF and beyond. In the tradition of IF, the editors plan on experimenting with new forms and styles of SF, showcasing new authors, interacting with fandom, and bringing fun and weird science fiction to readers.

Visit Starship Sloane Publishing’s homesite for a free webzine reissue of the April 1955 Worlds of IF, featuring novelettes by James E. Gunn and Fox B. Holden, with a short story by Philip K. Dick.  Learn more and find bonus content here.

(2) TOLKIEN STUDIES NEWS. David Bratman of Tolkien Studies today announced his co-editor, Verlyn Flieger, is ending her run with the journal. Her place will be taken by Yvette Kisor, Professor of Literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

After 22 years as co-Editor of Tolkien Studies, Verlyn Flieger will be retiring to take up the position of Editor Emerita. One of the co-founders of the journal, Verlyn has co-edited 20 volumes of the journal. Highlights include editing previously unknown material by Tolkien, some of his scholarly works that had become very difficult to access, and many of the most insightful and original articles published on Tolkien in the past two decades. It is impossible to list even a fraction of the contributions Verlyn has made to every single aspect of the journal’s operations, so we are reduced to saying the obvious: without Verlyn, there would be no Tolkien Studies. We will miss her terribly (though we expect to be drawing upon her wisdom on a regular basis). Volume 20, to be published later this year, will be the last issue she will have co-edited.

Tolkien Studies is delighted to announce that, beginning with Volume 21, Yvette Kisor, Professor of Literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey, will be taking up the position of co-Editor. The co-editor of Tolkien and Alterity, Yvette is well known to the international community of Tolkien scholars both for her publications on Tolkien, including “‘The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun’: Sexuality, Imagery, and Desire in Tolkien’s Works,” in Tolkien Studies 18 (2021), and her work organizing the influential “Tolkien at Kalamazoo” sessions at the International Congresses on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University. A medievalist by training, Prof. Kisor has also published extensively on Old and Middle English literature. We are extremely pleased that she will be joining the journal’s editorial team.

(3) UNCANNY HUGO ACCEPTANCE SPEECH. Best Semiprozine Hugo winner Uncanny Magazine hasposted the video with the team’s acceptance remarks.

(4) ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDALS LONGLISTS.  The Longlist for 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction is now available on the awards’ website.

Forty-five books (21 fiction, 24 nonfiction) have been selected for the longlist for the 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The list is now available on the awards’ website. The six-title shortlist—three each for the fiction and nonfiction medals—will be chosen from longlist titles and announced on November 14, 2023. The two medal winners will be announced by 2024 selection committee chair Aryssa Damron at the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Book and Media Awards livestreaming event, held during LibLearnX in Baltimore on Saturday, January 20, at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. A celebratory event, including presentations by the winners and a featured speaker, will take place in June 2024 at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference in San Diego.

The fiction longlist contains the following works of genre interest. Several are novels, while others are story collections in which one or more of the stories have a genre component.

  • Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame. Chain-Gang All-Stars (Pantheon)
  • Blaché, Sin and Helen Macdonald. Prophet (Grove)
  • Brinkley, Jamel. Witness (Farrar)
  • Huang, S. L. The Water Outlaws (Tordotcom)
  • Labatut, Benjamin. The MANIAC (Penguin)
  • Norris, Kelsey. House Gone Quiet (Scribner)
  • Qian, Cleo. Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go (Tin House)

(5) ASKING FOR FLASH FICTION NEBULA. A letter being circulated for signatures calls for SFWA to create a Nebula Award for Flash Fiction. The letter says in part:

… Flash fiction, short-short fiction, drabbles, dribbles, and other forms of very short prose stories have long had a place in genre fiction. Over the years, there have been many respected genre publications devoted exclusively to flash, while other publications recognize it as a distinct category. Despite this, works of flash rarely appear on the SFWA Nebula final ballot, and even fewer works of this length have won.

We do not think this is because SFWA members do not appreciate or enjoy flash fiction or other forms of very short fiction. Rather, it is likely because the strategies and techniques of flash often differ from those used in short stories, which makes it difficult to compare them to these longer works. In particular, flash as a form encourages experimentation, and pieces of flash fiction are more likely to include unusual narrative structures and points of view, to blend elements of poetry and prose, or to otherwise approach storytelling differently than longer works of fiction.

Indeed, in early 2022 the SFWA membership recognized the value of flash fiction and its presence in the genre community by passing two rules changes to the membership qualification criteria that removed the minimum word count for joining as an associate or full member….

(6) SIDEWISE AWARD PRESENTATION. [Item by Steven H Silver.] The Sidewise Awards will be presented this Friday, October 27 at 12:30 CDT (UTC-5) at the World Fantasy Con  in Kansas City, Missouri.

The presentation will be made by judges Eileen Gunn and Steven H Silver in the Chicago A Room.

Finalists who will not be in attendance can appoint a designated acceptor or e-mail an acceptance speech to Steven H Silver at [email protected].

(7) NANANA NONOMO HEY HEY. Cass Morris’ latest newsletter is full of advice about “Worldbuilding for NaNoWriMo: Preptober Edition”.

What do you need to get started?

A perennial question for the worldbuilding writer: How much do you need to do before you actually start drafting?

The answer varies by writer, of course. Some of us compile chonky world bibles before setting down a word; some of us start with the plot and fill the world in as we go. For me it’s usually somewhere in the middle. The dolls and the dollhouse tend to come at least a bit at the same time.

The answer can also vary by project. Some may need more scaffolding before you can set to work. That may be dictated by how near or far your speculative world is from the “real world,” or by how much research you need to do.

When it comes to Nano, though, it can help to target your worldbuilding to the sort of story you think you’re working on. Me, I gravitate towards political plots, so I can’t really get started until I know a lot of details about what sort of government a world has, how it functions, and what factions are at play. If you’re doing a tightly-focused fantasy of manners, however, that might be something you can handwave….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 23, 1880 Una O’Connor. Actress who appeared in the 1930s The Invisible Man as Jenny Hall. She had a bit part in Bride of Frankenstein, and a supporting role in the genre The Adventures of Robin Hood. Though not even genre adjacent, she was Mrs. Peters in the film adaptation of the quite excellent Graham Greene’s Stamboul. Great novel, I’ll need to see if I can find this film. She’s in The Canterville Ghost, and shows up twice in TV’s Tales of Tomorrow anthology series. (Died 1959.)
  • Born October 23, 1918 James Daly. He was Mr. Flint in Trek‘s most excellent “Requiem for Methuselah” episode. He also showed up on The Twilight ZoneMission:Impossible and The Invaders. He was Honorious in The Planet of The Apes, and Dr. Redding in The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler
  • Born October 23, 1935 Bruce Mars, 87. He was on Trek three times, one uncredited, with his best remembered being in the most excellent Shore Leave episode as Finnegan, the man Kirk fights with. He also had one-offs in The Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of The Sea, and Mission: Impossible.  He is now Brother Paramananda with the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles which he joined shortly after ending his acting career in 1969. 
  • Born October 23, 1942 Michael Crichton. An impressive number of Hugos, both winners and nominations. The Andromeda Strain nominated at L.A. Con, Westworld at Discon II and the Jurassic Park film would win a Hugo at ConAndian.  I’m very fond of the original Westworld film, not at all enamored of anything that has followed. Same holds for The Andromeda Strain film which I think is a perfect adaptation of his novel unlike the latter series that trashes the novel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born October 23, 1948 Brian Catling. Author of The Vorrh trilogy whose first novel, The Vorrh, has an introduction by Alan Moore. Writing was just one facet of his work life as he was a sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker and performance. And artist. Impressively he held Professor of Fine Art at the [John] Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford and was a fellow of Linacre College. Yeah that John Ruskin. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 23, 1953 Ira Steven Behr, 70. Best remembered for his work on the Trek franchise, particularly Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which is still my favorite Trek though Strange Worlds has its charms, on which he served as showrunner and executive producer. As writer and or producer, he has been in involved in Beyond RealityDark AngelThe Twilight ZoneThe 4400Alphas, and Outlander
  • Born October 23, 1969 Trudy Canavan, 54. Australian writer who’s won two Ditmars for her Thief’s Magic and A Room for Improvement novels and two Aurealis Awards as well, one for her “Whispers of the Mist Children” short story, and one for The Magician’s Apprentice novel.  It’s worth noting that she’s picked up two Ditmar nominations for her artwork as well. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe contains a horrible, horrible, genre-adjacent pun. Did I mention it’s horrible?
  • Tom Gauld’s pick is probably number one in its own obscure Amazon category.

(10) MYTHING ANSWERS. The Scots Magazine invites you to take the “Scottish Myths And Folklore Quiz”. Flying absolutely blind I scored 7 out of 10. All those fantasy book blurbs I’ve read must have helped.

Do you know the name of the Loch Ness Monster’s cousin, who is said to live in Loch Morar? Or which season, Beira, who washes her clothes in the Corryvreckan whirlpool, represents?

There’s so much more to learn about Scotland’s strange and mystical past….

(11) MONSTER MAVEN. The Hollywood Heritage Museum presents “Jack Pierce: Hollywood’s Greatest Monster Maker” on October 25. Tickets for this in-person event are available at the link.

Please join us on Wednesday, October 25th at 7:30PM as we kick off the 2023-24 season of our Evening @ The Barn series with a very special Halloween edition!

In this exclusive multimedia event, the career of Jack Pierce, legendary makeup department head at Universal Pictures from 1928-1947, will be explored in depth. Unquestionably, Pierce was responsible for many of cinema’s most memorable screen characters, including The Frankenstein Monster, The Mummy, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Phantom of the Opera, during that seminal period in horror films. Videos, photos, and unique, rarely seen elements will be critical aspects of this two-hour presentation hosted by author and historian Scott Essman. Additionally, special guests and surprises are in store for attendees!

Free parking is available in Hollywood Bowl Lot “D” which is directly adjacent to the museum.

In case you’ve never heard of the Hollywood Heritage Museum before:

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is a must-visit for cinema enthusiasts. It is located in the oldest surviving motion picture studio in Hollywood. Here, you can learn about the history of the studio and how it played a crucial role in the birth of Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1916. The first feature length film was produced here in 1912 by Jesse L. Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille. This 1901 barn turned studio was designated California State Historic Landmark No. 554 in 1956. 

(12) SPIELBERG Q&A. SYFY Wire speaks to the director about Laurent Bouzereau’s new book in “Spielberg: The First Ten Years Excerpt Reveals E.T. Secrets”.

Last fall, Neil DeGrasse Tyson made the claim that E.T., the lovable cosmic visitor, “was a sentient plant” during a guest appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. When asked how he came by this strange piece of information, DeGrasse Tyson simply replied: “Steven Spielberg told me in my office.” He didn’t elaborate any further than that, but we now know he wasn’t just blowing smoke.

The legendary director confirms the titular alien of his 1982 coming-of-age classic (now streaming on Peacock) is “more like a plant or a vegetable” in the pages of Laurent Bouzereau’s new book — Spielberg: The First Ten Years

Bouzereau is, perhaps, one of the few people alive who could actually pull off something like this. After all, he’s spent decades cultivating a close professional relationship with the celebrated storyteller while serving as director on the numerous behind-the-scenes documentaries found on the home release editions of Spielberg’s own movies.

Hitting stands tomorrow, Tuesday, October 24, from Insight EditionsSpielberg: The First Ten Years features exhaustive and must-read interviews centered around the productions of DuelThe Sugarland ExpressJawsClose Encounters of the Third Kind, 1941Raiders of the Lost Ark, and, of course, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial….

What other references did you study?

I wanted E.T. to give the impression of a thousand-year old wizened life form. Carlo took directions the same way an actor would — but it’s of course really the actor who creates the performance, and in that sense, it’s really Carlo Rambaldi who created E.T. I also remember saying to Carlo that E.T. should kind of waddle when he walks like Chaplin with his cane, that he should look like Bambi on ice. When E.T. starts to walk on Earth, he is ungainly, and he is insecure. Several times in the movie, we showed how awkward E.T. is and how funny he is when he falls over…

(13) WHAT CATS THINK. This book trailed for The Adventures of Trim series is pretty cute – probably because several cats are interviewed on camera.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Please Don’t Destroy: “Bad Bunny Is Shrek” on Saturday Night Live.

Three guys listen to Bad Bunny’s idea for a script.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, Lynne M. Thomas, Daniel Dern, John-Paul L. Garnier, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 9/28/23 I’ll Scroll What She’s Scrolling

(1) SFWA GIVERS FUND GRANT DEADLINE OCTOBER 1. During SFWA’s recent annual business meeting, Chief Financial Officer Erin M. Hartshorn gave an update on the current amounts in each of the organization’s benevolent funds: $388,000 for the Emergency Medical Fund, $66,000 for the Legal Fund, and $103,000 for the Givers Fund, which will give away $30,000 worth of grants this fall. Applications for grants from the Givers Fund are due October 1. 

(2) RUSHDIE TO SPEAK. On October 21, Salman Rushdie will make one of his first in-person appearances since being severely injured in a stabbing attack last August, at Frankfurter Buchmesse: “Salman Rushdie Appears at Frankfurt’s Saturday Gala” reports Publishing Perspectives.

…This program, supported by ARD, ZDF, and 3sat, precedes the October 22 presentation to Rushdie of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, as Publishing Perspectives readers know. The award carries a purse of €25,000 (US$26,389).

In a statement today, Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos  has said, “I was very moved that Salman Rushdie is not missing the opportunity to meet the audience in Frankfurt in person, in addition to attending the award ceremony for the Peace Prize….

…As you’ll remember, the stabbing attack on Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York occurred on August 12, 2022. Dealing with severe injuries and the preparation of his new book, Rushdie has made very few public appearances since then, one of them in May in a videotaped message from New York for the British Book Awards….

(3) HOW NETFLIX DVD WORKED. [Item by Dan Bloch.] Tomorrow is, of course, Netflix DVDs last day, and there are of course lots of articles about this, all saying more or less the same thing (“Netflix DVD, we’ll miss you, even though we canceled our subscription a long time ago”). This one is different: “Netflix’s DVD service shuts down: here’s the complex tech behind it” at The Verge. It’s a longish but very interesting article about how the technology in their shipping hubs works.

… Bronway custom-designed a massive disc robot called the “automated rental return machine,” or ARRM 3660. The ARRM, as Netflix employees simply called it, was an assembly-line-sized machine consisting of 6,500 parts total. At its center were two carousels, housed behind glass doors, that were loaded up with incoming mail and then used pneumatic arms to perform all of the things people had done before: slice open returned envelopes, unpack discs, inspect them, clean them, add them to a facility’s inventory system, and get them ready to go out of the door again — basically, every job short of sorting discs and stuffing envelopes for the next customer. 

The robotics company sold 180 of these machines to Netflix in 2010, and they were deployed in stages across all of its hubs. The labor savings alone were enormous. “The hubs were a spectacular number of people,” recalled Johnson. “You could replace about five humans opening the discs with one machine.”

Once a hub was fully automated, it really only required a handful of people to operate. Warehouse workers would arrive at 2AM each day to flip on the machines and process tens of thousands of DVDs in time to deliver them to the Postal Service later that morning. “It was just one person per machine,” Gallion said. “You’d have one person running the stuffer, one person running the sorter, one person running the rental return machine.”

But automation wasn’t just about labor costs alone. Machines were also a lot better at their job, which led to less frustration for Netflix subscribers. Customers who borrowed entire seasons of a TV show would frequently mix up discs — they might put season 7 disc one of The Simpsons in the sleeve for season 7 disc two.

Netflix hub employees were supposed to catch those mix-ups and make sure that the next customer didn’t accidentally receive the wrong disc. “But humans aren’t very good at that,” Johnson said. Machines, on the other hand, aren’t fooled by similar-looking titles. “If barcode A doesn’t match barcode B, then clearly, you’ve got a mismatch,” he said…

(4) PLUMBING THE ABSTRUSE. Timothy B. Lee and Sean Trott promise: “Large language models, explained with a minimum of math and jargon” at Understanding AI.

… If you know anything about this subject, you’ve probably heard that LLMs are trained to “predict the next word,” and that they require huge amounts of text to do this. But that tends to be where the explanation stops. The details of how they predict the next word is often treated as a deep mystery.

One reason for this is the unusual way these systems were developed. Conventional software is created by human programmers who give computers explicit, step-by-step instructions. In contrast, ChatGPT is built on a neural network that was trained using billions of words of ordinary language.

As a result, no one on Earth fully understands the inner workings of LLMs. Researchers are working to gain a better understanding, but this is a slow process that will take years—perhaps decades—to complete.

Still, there’s a lot that experts do understand about how these systems work. The goal of this article is to make a lot of this knowledge accessible to a broad audience. We’ll aim to explain what’s known about the inner workings of these models without resorting to technical jargon or advanced math….

(5) CHENGDU WORLDCON UPDATE. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

  • Day tickets still not available

After the closure of regular ticket sales – on the con site, and on the damai.cn vendor site – the day tickets that were promised exactly a week ago — https://en.chengduworldcon.com/news3_35_95_32_66_76_50/151.html — have not yet materialized.  Here’s a (Chinese language) Weibo post from File 770 commenter Adaoli summarizing the situation:  https://weibo.com/5726230680/Nllv9A08q

I’m not sure if this is a new announcement, but I don’t recall seeing any mention of it prior to today.  Douban – which can be compared to both IMDB and Goodreads – has a listing for “Stellar Concerto”, which features stories from the three Worldcon GoHs.  The listing indicates there are new stories in this anthology, although I assume that means they are new in translation, but have been previously published in their original language.  The publisher is the Chengdu-based 8 Light Minutes Culture, which has a few staff on the Chengdu concom.

The October issue’s cover feature is about SF, although it doesn’t seem to have an explicit Worldcon connection, on the cover at least.  There are photos of some of the interior content, which seems to involve at least a couple of people on the concom, at this Weibo post: https://weibo.com/1662229842/NlnnPvnGo

The HelloChengdu Weibo account linked to a Sichuan Daily post from a couple of days ago with a 2-minute Worldcon-related video that has CG renderings of the venue that I don’t think I’ve seen before.  Although given that the con is ~20 days away, I’d have thought the time for CG renders over real-world footage should have long passed.

This one is way beyond my negligible language skills – and I think it might be a repost of something previously released – but I believe it goes over the Puppies stuff (29:43 and later), Marko Kloos declining his Hugo nomination (from 36:26) and the resulting elevation of The Three-Body Problem to be a finalist.,  Other people/things shown or namechecked include: VD and LC (30:02, VD numerous times after that), Zoe Quinn (from 32:39), GRRM’s Puppygate blog post (37:33), N. K. Jemisin (40:30), Robert Silverberg (45:24), the “GRRM Can Fuck Off Into the Sun” blog post (48:00).

This isn’t something that most File 770 readers are going to need or want to watch, but I think it’s a good illustration that Chinese fans aren’t ignorant of stuff that happens in the Anglosphere.

(6) SOMETHING MISSING. Abigail Nussbaum voices the opinion that Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins” has a lot of deficiencies as a biography at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…The core problem of A Life With Footnotes is one that felt easy to predict before even turning the first page. Terry Pratchett, to be perfectly blunt, did not live a particularly interesting life. He was the precocious son of working class parents in post-war England, who fell in love with science fiction and fantasy in his teens, fooled around with writing them with only moderate success, did some creative-adjacent salaried work (journalism, then PR), and then hit on a concept that ballooned into a world-class success with remarkable speed, after which he was very rich and very successful for the rest of his life. In other words, the life story of quite a few midcentury authors (give or take the stratospheric success). What set Pratchett apart, like most writers, was what was going on in his head….

But then, one of the most startling choices in A Life With Footnotes is how little it has to say about Pratchett the author….

Wilkins’s focus seems, instead, to be on the business side of things….

While I agree with Nussbaum’s description of what is and isn’t there, Pratchett was unable to complete his autobiography before he died so my own focus is on the book we have thanks to Rob Wilkins’ efforts, not the book we wanted.

(7) FROM PIXELS TO BRICK AND MORTAR. The New York Times says “Instagram’s Favorite Bookseller Is Ready to Go Offline”.

For Idea, a rare-book dealer and publisher in London, the dwindling of print has never been much of an issue. If anything, it has been a boon for the understated business that David Owen and Angela Hill have built, largely on the back of Instagram’s early infrastructure.

But now, Idea is navigating yet another swerve — the death of the Instagram timeline. In 2021 the social media platform moved from a chronological feed to a more opaque algorithm, which boosted videos. That meant less exposure for posts of, for example, vintage fashion books, which in turn made book selling on Instagram something of a slog.

And even though Idea has some 500,000 followers — W magazine called it an “Instagram phenomenon” in 2015 — the company is ready to experiment with a fairly antiquated idea that some may consider riskier than print itself: a physical bookstore.

In late September, Idea will open a store spread over three floors of a brick building on Wardour Street, in the London neighborhood of Soho. (The location is also Mr. Owen and Ms. Hill’s current home — they rent in the building — in a district crowded with David Bowie walking tours and lines for a Supreme store nearby.)

“What it really feels like is the perfect answer to all the frustration we’ve had with Instagram for the last couple of years, compared to the absolute joy and wonder we’ve had with it the eight previous to that,” Mr. Owen said.

When Mr. Owen and Ms. Hill started their Instagram account in 2010, it quickly became a popular feed. Glossy scans of their collection — which included issues of Six, a magazine by Commes des Garçons ($3,050); “Pentax Calendar” by Guy Bourdin ($500); and “Fiorucci: The Book” by Eve Babitz ($365) — popped out against a sea of heavily filtered selfies….

(8) MOTE GETS SHOPPED BY UNTITLED.TV. The Chaos Manor Facebook page announced an interest in making series from two Niven/Pournelle books has been expressed by Untitled.

A shopping agreement for a streaming series based on The Mote in Gods Eye and The Gripping Hand has been secured by Untitled.

With the end of the WGA strike, real work has begun to craft and pitch an expected 24+ episode, 3 year story arc.

Questions abounded on how to both streamline and lengthen the proposed series for streaming audiences. Let’s see how Untitled proceeds, now that the clock has started.

When asked Why 3 Arms? Larry Niven explained yesterday that his approach to the initial alien design was inspired by the dual question of why tool makers would need symmetry in their biology if there was limited-to-no gravity. He also posed: Do we need a spine? What if the spine was an evolutionary mistake?

(9) WHAT SIR PAT READS. The New York Times asks the actor about his reading habits in “The Most Novelistic Part That Patrick Stewart Ever Played”. But first – the hook!

“I acted Macbeth for exactly 365 days,” says the actor, whose new memoir is “Making It So.” “The role got into me so deeply it dominated my life at the time and caused me to drink too much alcohol after the performance was over. No other role I have played has affected me so profoundly.”…

…Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

Immediately on waking up I make a cup of Yorkshire Gold with a chocolate digestive and read in bed for half an hour, or more. Always a book. Never a script or emails. This not only wakes me up, it puts me back in the world we are living in and who we are today. Unless there is an urgent reason I do not look at newspaper headlines, or listen to the news until halfway through the morning.

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

You know, I haven’t heard of it either….

(10) MICHAEL GAMBON (1940-2023). Actor Michael Gambon died September 27. Variety profiles his career in its obituary: “Michael Gambon Dies: Harry Potter’s Dumbledore Was 82”.

Michael Gambon, the Irish-English actor best known for his role as Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the “Harry Potter” movies, has died, Variety has confirmed. He was 82.

“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon,” his family said in a statement. “Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia.”

While it is easier for a character actor, often working in supporting roles, to rack up a large number of credits than it is for lead actors, Gambon was enormously prolific, with over 150 TV or film credits in an era when half that number would be impressive and unusual — and this for a man whose body of stage work was also prodigious.

He played two real kings of England: King Edward VII in “The Lost Prince” (2003) and his son, King George V, in “The King’s Speech” (2010); Winston Churchill in his later years in the 2015 ITV/PBS “Masterpiece” telepic “Churchill’s Secret”; U.S. President Lyndon Johnson in John Frankenheimer’s 2002 HBO telepic “Path to War,” for which he was Emmy-nominated; and a fictional British prime minister in “Ali G Indahouse,” also in 2002. And as Hogwarts headmaster in the “Harry Potter” movies, he presided over the proceedings therein. In 2016, he served as the narrator for the Coen brothers’ paean to golden-age Hollywood, “Hail! Caesar.”…

And you can see a photo of Michael Gambon, circa 1970, from when he was invited by producer Cubby Broccoli to test for James Bond at the Tim Burton Wiki.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1913 Ellis Peters. Nom de plume of the writer of The Cadfael Chronicles,which I’ll admit I broke my rule of never watching a video adaption of a print series that I like. Derek Jacobi as Cadfael was damn perfect. She is here because she was the writer of two excellent ghost novels, The City Lies Four-Square and By This Strange Fire, under her real name of Edith Pargeter. (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 28, 1932 Michael G. Coney. British-born writer who spent the last half of his life in Canada. He’s best remembered for his Hello Summer, Goodbye novelI’m very fond of The Celestial Steam Locomotive and Gods of the Greataway which might be set on what could be Vancouver Island. His only Award was from the BSFA for Brontomek!, one of his Amorphs Universe works, although he was a 1996 Nebula nominee for his “Tea and Hamsters” novelette, and a five-time finalist for the Aurora Award. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 28, 1938 Ron Ellik. Writer and Editor, a well-known SF fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine, Fanac, in the late 1950s. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans, which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “He also had some fiction published professionally, and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.” The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 28, 1950 John Sayles, 73. I really hadn’t considered him a major player in genre films but he is. He’s writer and director The Brother from Another Planet and The Secret of Roan Inish; and he wrote the scripts of PiranhaAlligatorBattle Beyond the StarsThe HowlingE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Clan of the Cave Bear and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • Born September 28, 1963 Greg Weisman, 60. Writer who’s best remembered for Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He also scripted some of Men in Black: The Series and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. He also wrote children’s novel World of Warcraft: Traveler, followed by a sequel, World of Warcraft: Traveler – The Spiral Path. Children’s novels in the Warcraft universe? Hmmm… 
  • Born September 28, 1982 Tendai Huchu, 41. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story.
  • Born September 28, 1986 Laurie Penny, 37. They are the writer of one genre novella to date, “Everything Belongs to the Future“, published at Tor.com, and a generous number of genre short stories. They were a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon 75 won by Ada Palmer.  “Vector at Nine Worlds: Laurie Penny”, an interview with them by Jo Walton is in Vector 288.

(12) COMIC SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows something that might be a case for an insurance company. But is it an act of God? 

(13) FIFTY CALIBER. Congratulations to Michaele Jordan on her appearance in 50 Give or Take!

(14) CHOPPED. “Now that Winnie-the-Pooh is in the public domain, it’s a free-for-all.” NPR tells how “Winnie-the-Pooh is now being used to raise awareness about deforestation”. [Click for larger image.]

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Deforested Edition is a reimagining of the A.A. Milne classic created by the toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap.

There is just one, stark difference: There are no trees.

The Hundred Acre Wood? Gone.

Piglet’s “house in the middle of a beech-tree” is no longer “grand.”

Six Pine Trees is six pine stumps.

Yes, this is imaginative PR (a free eBook is available on the Who Gives A Crap website; a hardcover was available for purchase but is now sold out). But the company’s co-founder, Danny Alexander, said the goal is to raise awareness about deforestation. Who Gives A Crap prides itself on “creating toilet paper from 100% recycled paper or bamboo,” he said….

… Alexander said Who Gives A Crap has tried to spread the word that “over a million trees are cut down every single day just to make traditional toilet paper,” according to a study the company commissioned….

(15) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 93 of the Octothorpe podcast “The Good Thing About the Hugos” is now up.

John Coxon is husky, Alison Scott is a dingo, and Liz Batty is a ridgeback.

We discuss Chengdu, our impact on Chinese fandom, Glasgow, its impact on Glaswegian fandom, and then all the Hugo categories bar one (foreshadowing). Or four, depending on how you count.

(16) PROTON ART. “Painting with protons: treatment beams recreate works of art” at Physics World.

Intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) is an advanced cancer treatment technique that uses narrow pencil-like beams of protons – painted spot-by-spot and layer-by-layer within the patient – to deliver radiation in highly complex dose patterns. Combined with sophisticated treatment planning techniques, IMPT can shape the proton dose to match the targeted tumour with unprecedented accuracy, maximizing the destruction of cancer cells while minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

Looking to showcase the impressive power of IMPT to create intricate dose distributions, medical physicist Lee Xu from the New York Proton Center came up with an unusual approach – he used proton pencil beams to recreate a series of well-known paintings as treatment plans, effectively using the protons as a paintbrush….

(17) DISKWORLDS. In this week’s Nature: “How worlds are born: JWST reveals exotic chemistry of planetary nurseries”, “The telescope is delivering a cascade of insights about the ‘protoplanetary’ disks where planets take shape.”

 The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is aweing scientists and the public alike with its spectacular images of distant galaxies and its discoveries of dozens of new black holes. Yet JWST is also rewriting scientists’ understanding of objects on a slightly smaller, more relatable scale: how planets form from swirls of gas and dust around young stars. Such ‘protoplanetary’ disks are what the environs of the Sun would have been like 4.6 billion years ago, with planets coalescing from the whirling material around an infant star.

JWST is revealing how water is delivered to rocky planets taking shape in such disks. It’s providing clues to the exotic chemistry in these planetary nurseries. And it has even found fresh evidence for a cosmic hit-and-run in one of the most famous debris disks, encircling the star Beta Pictoris…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Jeff Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dan Bloch, Bill, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/13/23 Scroll Your Pixels Well

(1) LE GUIN ON HER ILLEGAL ABORTION IN 1950. Arwen Curry told Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Kickstarter backers that a “New Ursula K. Le Guin short film series starts today on LitHub!”

The Journey That Matters, a series of six short films about Ursula K. Le Guin’s life and work that will be serialized on Literary Hub, based on outtakes from the feature documentary you all helped me to create. Spending time with Ursula meant having access to her warm, wise perceptions about all kinds of questions in literature and life. With these little films, I hope to share some more of that abundance.

It starts today with “What it Was Like,” in which Ursula reads her powerful essay about the illegal abortion she had as a senior at Radcliffe in 1950, which she credits with allowing her to pursue her career as a writer and to build her family. It’s a chilling reminder of what we’ve lost since Roe fell — and how women’s success and happiness is predicated on our bodily autonomy….

See the first video in the series on Literary Hub: “Ursula K. Le Guin on Her Illegal Abortion in 1950” introduced by Elisabeth Le Guin and Caroline Le Guin:

As young women growing up under the protection of Roe, we never really talked with our mother about her abortion. Elisabeth [Le Guin] learned that it had occurred when she went through several abortions of her own in the 1980s; but what we know about the story of Ursula’s necessarily different experience comes to us through her written words, as it does to you.  “The Princess” was her keynote address to NARAL Pro-Choice America in 1982 when Roe was not even a decade old, and this piece, “What It Was Like,” was a talk for Oregon’s NARAL chapter in 2004. These stories are public statements, performances of Ursula’s own life material as a means to inspire and transform. The second of them, which you are about to hear, is also a rather extraordinary public love letter to her own family.

This is a hard essay to read or listen to, and it’s meant to be. Clearly, it was hard to write; watching Ursula in her 80s read her own words aloud, more than a decade after she wrote them, the emotion is palpable—and that shy little shrug at the end, that letting go. For us, it’s hard to watch. It’s a hard thing to think about your mother having an abortion, and an illegal one at that—to do so takes you to an exquisitely painful, vulnerable place, imagining what she went through: the shame, the grief, the sense of loss she must have experienced, the lingering, corrosive doubt. A hard thought exercise, but necessary to fully honor the fact that she could later choose to carry you to term, bring you into the world, into her world, to love and mother you the way she wanted to mother….

(2) NEW SFWA PROGRAM SEEKS INTERNS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to support a new program they’re launching: Publishing Taught Me. This program will be shepherded by Nisi Shawl, an accomplished and multiple award-winning author, editor, instructor, and Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award recipient. It will take place over the coming year. And the press release adds that “Publishing Taught Me Launches with an Intern Search”.

…Publishing Taught Me will produce an online essay series, to be collated into an anthology, and a symposium aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. This will be done by inviting publishing professionals of color to describe their journeys and to provide advice and motivation to writers entering the field via their essays and participation in a Publishing Taught Me symposium. These goals will be accomplished with the support of two paid interns, who will serve as assistant editors for the essay series, symposium, and resultant anthology.

As managing editor for the project, Shawl will oversee the operational aspects of putting together an online essay series and anthology, and will work with SFWA staff to coordinate and execute their publication and the associated events. They will also provide mentorship to the two assistant editor interns, who should be early in their professional publishing careers.

We are now recruiting for the assistant editor internship positions for this program. Interested individuals must be at least at 18 years of age, and should have at least three months previous editing experience, preferably within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres, and a firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing people of color in the current publishing environment. Familiarity with Google Docs, Zoom, WordPress, and Canva is a plus.

Responsibilities include soliciting and editing project essays, overseeing contributor agreement completion, assisting with arranging the essays within the final publication, helping to establish and supporting project participant communication protocols, and preparing marketing materials for the project. The term “editing” includes developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting.

The editorial assistants’ work on the project begins November 1, 2023 and will be completed in November 2024. Hours worked will vary from week to week, but the anticipated time commitment will be up to 50 hours per month per person. A flat $2,000 stipend will be provided to each intern for their participation in the program.

If you are interested in applying, please complete the application here by September 30, 2023. We encourage you to share this opportunity with anyone who qualifies and would benefit from learning about the science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing industry as they fill this important role.

…This program will deliver invaluable insight into our industry that will benefit current and future genre storytellers, and we’re excited to bring it into existence. For questions about Publishing Taught Me, please contact [email protected]

(3) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM NEXT WEEK. Katie Conrad, Interim Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction shared the schedule for the Second Annual Sturgeon Symposium being held at the University of Kansas from September 20-22. Full details at the link.  

The Symposium theme this year, “Fantastic Worlds, Fraught Futures,” was inspired by this year’s KU Common Book, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. The festivities start Tuesday night (9/19) with a co-sponsored Feminist Futures Forum, and continue through Friday (9/20-9/22) with a three-day academic conference open to all and events including a zine workshop (Wednesday afternoon), an open-to-all young adult creative writing workshop with YA author L.L. McKinney (Thursday afternoon), the reception and presentation of the annual Sturgeon Award with a reading by author Samantha Mills (Thursday evening), a closing reception in the gallery with the KU Common Work of Art (Friday afternoon), and a free showing of the movie The Host (Friday evening).  

(4) WHAT LIES IN STORE FOR SIMON & SCHUSTER? The Atlantic warns about the potential consequences of KKR’s purchase of Simon & Schuster in “Private Equity Comes for Book Publishing”.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice blocked Penguin Random House, owned by the German media giant Bertelsmann, from acquiring Simon & Schuster. The big five publishers—HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—already control about 80 percent of the book market. The literary class was relieved.

Less than a year later, the private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts announced that it would buy Simon & Schuster. Because the firm doesn’t already own a competing publisher, the deal is unlikely to trigger another antitrust probe. But KKR, infamous as Wall Street’s “barbarians at the gate” since the 1980s, may leave Simon & Schuster employees and authors yearning for a third choice beyond a multinational conglomerate or a powerful financial firm.

“It may be a stay of execution, but we should all be worried about how things will look at Simon & Schuster in five years,” says Ellen Adler, the publisher at the New Press, a nonprofit focused on public-interest books….

…In their recent book about private equity, These Are the Plunderers, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner recount maddening stories about KKR: how it bankrupted Toys “R” Us; gouged residents of Bayonne, New Jersey, for water and sewage; and, very recently, ran a vital provider of emergency services into the ground. If KKR’s latest deal follows a similar trajectory, Morgenson and Rosner might have a harder time documenting it. Their publisher is Simon & Schuster….

(5) DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE 2023. Noah Hawley’s Anthem is a work of genre interest among the six fiction finalists for the 2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Given for both fiction and nonfiction, the prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash prize.

2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists

Anthem by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)

Something grave is happening to teenagers across America. Recovering from his sister’s tragic passing, Simon breaks out of a treatment facility to join a man called “The Prophet” on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Their journey becomes a rescue mission when they set off to save a woman being held captive by a man who goes by “The Wizard” in this freewheeling adventure that finds unquenchable light in the dark corners of society.

Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company)

A trans woman, Carlotta Mercedes, reenters life on the outside after more than twenty years in a men’s prison. Set over the course of a whirlwind Fourth of July weekend, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta follows her struggles to reconcile with the son she left behind, to reunite with a family reluctant to accept her true identity, and to avoid anything that might send her back to lockup.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

Mecca by Susan Straight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

From the National Book Award finalist Susan Straight, Mecca is a stunning epic tracing the intertwined lives of native Californians fighting for life and land. The author crafts an unforgettable American epic, examining race, history, family, and destiny. With sensitivity, furor, and a cinematic scope that captures California in all its injustice, history, and glory, she tells a story of the American West through the eyes of the people who built it—and continue to sustain it.

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (W. W. Norton & Company)

In an Indian village in the 1950s, a precocious child is born into a family of Dalit coconut farmers. King Rao will grow up to be the world’s most accomplished tech CEO and lead a global corporate government. King’s daughter, Athena, must reckon with his legacy—literally, for he has given her access to his memories. The Immortal King Rao obliterates the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historical and the dystopian, to confront our age of technological capitalism.

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Grand Central Publishing)

As devastating weather patterns wreak gradual havoc on Florida’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Wanda, named for the terrible storm she was born into, grows up in a landscape abandoned by civilization. Moving from childhood to adulthood, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.

(6) ONLINE EVENT WILL DRAW ATTENTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST UYGHURS. “World Uyghur Congress announces #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign to coincide with World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in Chengdu, China”. The complete press release is at the link.

The World Uyghur Congress will host an online panel discussion featuring several award-winning and bestselling authors on Tuesday, October 17th, 2023. The date, one day before the opening of the Worldcon science fiction convention in Chengdu, China, was selected deliberately in order to draw attention to ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan. The United States, along with 11 parliaments and senates around the world and the independent Uyghur Tribunal have officially recognized the abuses as a genocide and a crime against humanity. 

This marks the first year that Worldcon, the largest science fiction convention and the bestower of the prestigious Hugo Awards, will be hosted in China. The decision to hold the event in China has prompted concern from a wide range of science fiction fans, journalists, and authors, many of whom have called for a boycott. Making matters worse, the organization has invited Liu Cixin and Sergei Lukyanenko to attend as “guests of honor.” Both writers have been outspoken in favor of genocidal policies, with Liu saying that the genocidal policies are a justifiable form of “economic development” and Lukyanenko calling for Ukrainian children to be drowned

“The Chinese government wants to use Worldcon as a sort of Potemkin Village in order to showcase how futuristic and technologically advanced the country has become,” said Andrew Gillsmith, author of the bestselling novel Our Lady of the Artilects and organizer of the #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign. “Meanwhile, they are interning people in concentration camps, forcibly separating children from their families, conscripting Uyghurs into slave labour schemes, and implementing the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated surveillance regime in history. Science fiction writers and fans have a longstanding tradition of standing for human rights. This is in the spirit of that tradition.”

The event in October will broadcast live worldwide and is expected to last 90 minutes….

“We are grateful for this support from the science fiction and literary communities,” said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress. “Our goal is not to disrupt Worldcon but to ensure that coverage of the event includes the facts about an ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the host country.”… 

(7) ALAN MOORE NOW SENDING HIS DC ROYALTIES TO BLM. Variety reports “Alan Moore Donates Film and TV Money to Black Lives Matter”.

Alan Moore, the comic book visionary best known for writing such revered works as “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta” and “Batman: The Killing Joke,” revealed to The Telegraph that he is longer accepting royalty checks from DC Comics for films and television series based on his works. He’s asked the company to instead reroute these checks to Black Lives Matter.

The Telegraph asked Moore if reports were true about him taking all of the money he makes from film and TV series and dividing it among the writers and other creatives, to which the writer answered: “I no longer wish it to even be shared with them. I don’t really feel, with the recent films, that they have stood by what I assumed were their original principles. So I asked for DC Comics to send all of the money from any future TV series or films to Black Lives Matter.”…

(8) SPACE:1999 SPACECRAFT GETS DOCUMENTARY. “’Space: 1999′ documentary to focus on the iconic Eagle spacecraft” at Space.com.

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise funds for a dedicated documentary focusing specifically on the design and development of the iconic Eagle transport spacecraft from the epic 70s sci-fi TV show “Space: 1999.” The documentary feature is called “The Eagle Has Landed” and will showcase never-before-seen archival footage. It’s set to be released in time for the 50th Anniversary of “Space: 1999” in 2025. 

“‘Space: 1999’ appeared on TV a few short years after the world watched Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon. The show’s unforgettable Eagle inspired a generation to envision a future in space and is still doing so decades later. The question we explore is why?” said writer, director Jeffrey Morris and founder FutureDude Entertainment, the production company behind the project….

The Kickstarter link is here: “The Eagle Has Landed – Sci-Fi Documentary by Jeffrey Morris”. The appeal has raised $27,000 of the $500,000 goal on the first day.

…The Eagle Has Landed explores a passionate and ongoing nostalgia for a future that never happened. This intriguing feature-length documentary follows Jeffrey Morris—a Minnesota-based filmmaker and lifelong science-fiction aficionado—as he examines the fascinating connections between art, science, culture, and the iconic Eagle spacecraft. …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

So let’s talk about the publishing of Keith Laumer’s A Plague of Demons which is our Beginning this time as it’s fascinating.  Especially when it got entangled with Baen Books later on.

It first was published in If in the November and December 1964 issues as The Hounds of Hells. This is not the later version known as A Plague of Demons but a shorter version.  

It got its first book publication as a paperback from Berkley Medallion the next year. The cover illustration is by Richard Powers. 

Penguin, Paperback Library and then Warner Paperback Library (yes Warner bought Paperback Library), then Warner Books (such for Paperback Library) and finally Pocket Books before we get to Baen Books.

And there’s Baen Books. They did three paperback editions of it and then printed it as part of A Plague of Demons and Other Stories which collected a lot of his shorter fiction, mostly novelettes. It was then offered up as part of the Baen Free Library. ISFDB says it was included as part of The 1634: The Baltic War Disk and The 1635: The Eastern Front CD-ROMs. 

Now let’s not overlook as you see in a few moments that A Plague of Demons is a most amazing novel. I’ve only included the first paragraph but it’s all you need as it’s most excellent. 

So here is it. Do enjoy it.

It was ten minutes past high noon when I paid off my helicab, ducked under the air blast from the caged high-speed rotors as they whined back to speed, and looked around at the sun-scalded, dust-white, mob-noisy bazaar of the trucial camp-city of Tamboula, Republic of Free Algeria. Merchants’ stalls were a slash of garish fabrics, the pastels of heaped fruit, the glitter of oriental gold thread and beadwork, the glint of polished Japanese lenses and finely-machined Swiss chromalloy, the subtle gleam of hand-rubbed wood, the brittle complexity of Hong Kong plastic – islands in the tide of humanity that elbowed, sauntered, bargained with shrill voices and waving hands, or stood idly in patches of black shadow under rigged awnings all across the wide square. I made my way through the press, shouted at by hucksters, solicited by whining beggars and tattooed drabs, jostled by UN Security Police escorting officials of a dozen nations.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1931 — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, 92. An American author. Anthropologist, author of both fiction and non-fiction books on animal behavior, Paleolithic life, and the !Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. She was written three works of fiction two genre, Reindeer Moon and The Animal Wife and one, Certain Poor Shepherds: A Christmas Tale, a Christmas story, a folk tale and therefore at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born September 13, 1933 Warren Murphy. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m most likely stretching the definition of genre just a bit by including him as he’s best known for writing along with Richard Sapir the pulp Destroyer series that ran to some seventy novels and was (making it possibly genre) the basis of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.  He did a number of other series that were more definitely genre. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 13, 1947 Mike Grell, 76. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green ArrowThe Warlord, and Jon Sable FreelanceThe Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. It would be adapted by Matt Wayne for Justice League Unlimited’s “Chaos at the Earth’s Core”. 
  • Born September 13, 1960 Bob Eggleton, 63. He’s has been honored with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist eight times! He was guest of honor at Chicon 2000. There’s a reasonably up to date look at his artwork, Primal Darkness: The Gothic & Horror Art of Bob Eggleton which he put together in 2010 and was published by Cartouche Press.
  • Born September 13, 1961 Tom Holt, 62. Assuming you like comical fantasy, I’d recommend both Faust Among Equals and Who Afraid of Beowulf? as being well worth time. If you madly, deeply into Wagner, you’ll love Expecting Someone Taller; if not, skip it. His only two Awards are a pair of World Fantasy Awards, both for novellas, “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” and “Let’s Maps to Others”. And yes, I know that he also publishes under the K. J. Parker name as well but I won’t go into the works he publishes here. 
  • Born September 13, 1974 Fiona Avery, 49. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with three spin-offs of J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb RaiderSpider-ManX-Men and Witchblade as well. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) CHENGDU WORLDCON NEWS. A three-part news release primarily devoted to a name for the Chengdu Worldcon mascot and its slogan – “Meet The Future! Slogan and Mascot’s Name for 2023 Chengdu Worldcon Announced” – included this segment publicizing some of the guests and programs, from which Sergey Lukianenko’s name is conspicuously absent.

…This year, the Committee has invited famous sci-fi activists such as Ben Yalow and Dave McCarty, as well as sci-fi litterateurs such as Robert Sawyer and Liu Cixin to bring a sci-fi literature feast to sci-fi fans. Meanwhile, Richard Taylor, the founder of Weta Workshop founder, who has won five Oscars for Best Visual Effects, and prominent figures in the Chinese sci-fi industry such as directors Guo Fan and Yang Lei, will attend the convention. They will engage in in-depth discussions on topics related to the fusion and development of science and technology innovation, culture, cultural tourism, and cultural creativity.

According to Liang Xiaolan, the full-time chairman of the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon and the vice president of the Chengdu Science Fiction Association, the convention will hold about 260 themed salons and parties, which are divided into eight categories: Science Fiction and Literature, Science Fiction and Art, Science Fiction and Film and TV, Science Fiction and Games (Animation), Science Fiction and Academics, Science Fiction and Technology, Science Fiction and Future, and Science Fiction and Industry. “For example, in the Science Fiction and literature section, there will be salons like Liu Cixin’s ‘A Sci-fi Reunion After 10 Years’, and Robert Sawyer’s ‘The Past, Present, and Future of Science Fiction’; In the Science Fiction and Technology section, we will discuss ‘How Far Are We From Space Travel?’ In the Science Fiction and Film and TV section, there will be a ’Sci-fi Film Special Effects Summit’; In the Science Fiction and Art section, there will be a ‘Three-Body Themed Concert’; In the Science Fiction and Games section, we will release the International Sci-fi Gaming Ranking,” Liang said….

(13) NANCY AND ZIPPY. “Bill Griffith on Love, Loss and the Lives of Ernie Bushmiller and Diane Noomin” at the Comics Journal – “Long and moving,” says Andrew Porter.

There are scenes in both Three Rocks and The Buildings are Barking that converge for me. Toward the end of the Diane book, there’s a haunting scene where she appears to you on a sort of “ghost ferry,” and she’s beckoning to you, in a dream sequence, to come join her. It’s very powerful, very sad, very beautifully rendered, and it’s heartbreaking. And toward the end of Three Rocks you have Ernie—toward the end of his life—snoozing on his chair, and Nancy, in another dream sequence, is in some ways doing the same thing to Ernie. Calling on him to follow her.

So that’s me recognizing that parallel– or, under the reality that we’re all experiencing together, there is another reality. It’s just there. It’s there to find. Or create. In that dream sequence in Three Rocks, the conceit is that Nancy is doing this. I’m not doing this. Ernie is not. Nancy is doing this. So, I am saying something that I have said throughout the book, which is that Nancy is a powerful figure. She both represents and controls the world she is in. And Ernie’s world as well. Some people thought she was a child that Ernie and Abbie never had. That’s a little sentimentalized, but possible. And before that dream sequence, I’ve used Nancy in these transitional sections throughout the book where Nancy is taking you from the previous chapter, in effect, to the next chapter. Once again, it’s Nancy, physically, the drawing. Yes, I’m writing it, but it’s Nancy [who is doing it].

In the dream sequence, she’s just pure Nancy. To me, because there’s no writing going on until the very end. It came out of a conversation I had with [Nancy collector and producer/writer for The Simpsons] Tom Gammill, and I’ve also heard the same thing from Mark [Newgarden]. That Ernie would always say that he’s looking for “the perfect gag.” There’s always a more perfect gag that he can’t quite find. The most perfect gag ever. [Laughs] Which I think is a little bit… romanticizing. Either people who heard Ernie say it, or they themselves, romanticized it. It seems a little bit like false humility. In other words, “I’m not all that funny, I’m still looking for the perfect gag. If I ever find it, I’ll let you know.” It’s like a way of deflecting, that he’s a great cartoonist or a funny guy….

(14) BEAMS CHOICE. “The Influence of Star Trek and Science Fiction on Real Science” at Smithsonian Magazine, an excerpt from Reality Ahead of Schedule: How Science Fiction Inspires Science Fact

…To trace the roots of Star Trek’s replicator, it is necessary to understand that it is essentially a repurposed form of the transporter—the teleportation or matter transmission device that “beams” the crew between starship and planet surface. According to legend, the transporter was invented only because the original series lacked the budget to film special, effect-heavy scenes of planetary landing shuttles, but Star Trek did not invent the concept of matter transmission. Its first appearance in science fiction dates back at least as far as 1877, in Edward Page Mitchell’s story “The Man Without a Body,” which prefigures George Langelaan’s much better-known 1957 story “The Fly,” by having a scientist experience a teleportation mishap when his batteries die while he is only partway through a transmission, so that only his head rematerializes.

The replicator uses the same basic principle as the transporter, in which the atomic structure of a physical object is scanned and the information is used to reconstruct the object at the “receiving” end through energy-matter conversion. In practice, all transporters are replicators and matter “transmission” is a misnomer, because matter itself is not transmitted, only information. Every time Captain Kirk steps out of the transporter having “beamed up” from a planet’s surface, it is, in fact, a copy of him—the original has been disintegrated during the initial phase of the operation.

This was precisely the mechanism of teleportation explored in one of the earliest stories on this theme. In Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1910 story “Remote Projection,” an inventor finds that his teleporter is actually a replicator and ends up with 841 identical copies of himself scattered around the world. This idea anticipated the well-known Teletransporter philosophy thought experiment by British philosopher Derek Parfit, which explored questions of continuity of identity. If a transporter is actually a replicator, is the Captain Kirk that steps off the transporter pad the same as the one that was “beamed up” from the planet? If the planet-side Kirk is not disintegrated in the process, and survives the process, which of the two Kirks is the “real” one? Star Trek TNG explored this precise scenario as an ongoing story line, after an episode (“Second Chances,” 1993) featuring a transporter malfunction that results in two copies of the character Will Riker—one who materializes on board his ship and the other who is stranded on a planet. The planet-side copy eventually chooses to be known as Tom Riker….

(15) BID ARAGORN REMEMBER. Far Out Magazine counts this as “The movie with the largest battle scene of all time”.

…However, the formula for creating monumental battle scenes saw a paradigm shift as we moved into the digital age. It was no longer just about recruiting an army of extras and meticulously planning every combat move. Instead, the magic started happening in the digital realm, thanks to pioneering technology developed by New Zealand-based Weta Digital.

Enter Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003. With the assistance of Weta Digital’s specialised crowd-simulation software, the movies shattered all previous records by featuring battles with an unprecedented 200,000 characters. The program, sensibly named Massive, fused digital animation with early artificial intelligence to govern individual character interactions, creating a spectacle of unparalleled scale and complexity.

What sets Massive apart is its innovative use of AI, allowing each digitally-created soldier to act and react in ways that mimic real-life human behaviour – not just this, but to do it ‘independently’. By allowing the program to govern the movements, animators were spared from tailoring the movements of each of the 200,000 figures. This leap in technology generated battle scenes that were vast in scale and eerily realistic. The technology altered the very foundations of what directors considered possible, raising the bar for epic cinema to an entirely new level….

(16) A SIGNATURE OF LIFE? Mashable reports an intriguing James Webb Space Telescope discovery: “Webb finds a molecule made by microbial life in another world”.

While the James Webb Space Telescope observed the atmosphere of an alien world 120 light-years away, it picked up hints of a substance only made by living things — at least, that is, on Earth.

This molecule, known as dimethyl sulfide, is primarily produced by phytoplankton, microscopic plant-like organisms in salty seas as well as freshwater.

The detection by Webb, a powerful infrared telescope in space run by NASA and the European and Canadian space agencies, is part of a new investigation into K2-18 b, an exoplanet almost nine times Earth’s mass in the constellation Leo. The study also found an abundance of carbon-bearing molecules, such as methane and carbon dioxide. This discovery bolsters previous work suggesting the distant world has a hydrogen-rich atmosphere hanging over an ocean.

Such planets believed to exist in the universe are called Hycean, combining the words “hydrogen” and “ocean.”

“This (dimethyl sulfide) molecule is unique to life on Earth: There is no other way this molecule is produced on Earth,” said astronomer Nikku Madhusudhan in a University of Cambridge video. “So it has been predicted to be a very good biosignature in exoplanets and habitable exoplanets, including Hycean worlds.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The new miniseries of Star Trek: Very Short Treks continues with “Holiday Party” about a “blooper reel” that’s mostly not actually funny, which is the point.

It’s a First Contact Day celebration and Spock is in charge of the entertainment.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, JJ, Lise Andreasen, Mark Roth-Whitroth, Andrew Gillsmith, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lou.]

SFWA Adds Poetry and Translation as Qualifying Works for Membership

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) is now accepting poetry and translated fiction as qualifying works for membership in the organization. Interested individuals are welcome to review the full membership guidelines and submit an application.

Since its 1965 founding and 2014 reincorporation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, SFWA members have expanded the organization’s recognition of where science fiction and fantasy writers live and work, the different mediums modern authors use to reach their audiences, and even added “fantasy” to what was once solely a science fiction association. Membership eligibility guidelines have evolved accordingly, and adding translation work and poetry as eligible forms of fiction writing is the next step.

In April, SFWA’s Full members voted to reverse previous referendums that had disallowed poetry and translated works from qualifying for membership. The SFWA Board recognized that opinions had changed in recent years, and thus held new referendums on both categories of fiction writing. The overwhelmingly positive results (90% yes for poetry; 83% yes for translated works) affirm that SFWA members are eager to welcome poets and translators into the organization.

“I love seeing SFWA embrace all the mediums creators employ to bring original SFF works into the world. Reversing this old, exclusionary decision was past due,” said Jeffe Kennedy, SFWA President.

SFWA now welcomes poets and translators into the fold, joining prose, game, comics, graphic novel, and screenwriters working on traditional, work-for-hire, self-publishing, and independent career paths.

SFWA Bylaws still require qualifying works to be written in English. Questions about membership may be directed to [email protected].

[Based on a press release.]