SMOFCon 38, an in-person event, will be held at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, December 2-4, 2022. SMOFcon is an annual convention that focuses on the organization of science fiction conventions. This year’s theme will be “Cirque des Smofs — the three-ring circus that is con-running.”
The Montreal group had planned to hold SMOFcon in 2020, however, the host organization concluded the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic made it unsafe to do so and arranged to postpone their turn to 2022.
Membership rates and hotel information are available at the link.
By James Bacon: With over 50 people on site and 100 online, Smofcon is occurring during challenging times with new rules having taken effect in Wednesday in Portugal and developing worldwide.
The con began with well-subscribed workshops and there was a welcome reception that local fans and professionals were invited to that was sponsored by a number of bids and conventions.
James and Vincent Docherty gave the opening speech — keeping it brief — and in accordance with Smofcon Europe traditions, recognized great effort and bestowed honourary Chair status to local fan Rogério Riberio who played a vital part in ensuring local cohesion, engagement, and managing facilities negotiation, and Tammy Coxen, who delivered a fabulous programme (see the item descriptions and schedule here) and has taken charge of the overall online proposition.
Drinking, networking and socializing continued to 3:00 a.m.
…We ordered tempura with the starter, and the starter of scallop, cucumber salad and gyoza was lovely. The tempura was tasty. The cheese tekpura was new to us, but lovely. Then arrived the ‘Combinado’ a wonderful platter of sushi with dry ice rolling off, it was stunningly incredible. And so tasty! We loved the wide and flavoursome selection. So much so we ordered the platter again… And devoured the delicious delicacies a second time! We were delighted with Sushi that was not known to us, incredible chefs here, for sure….
…A stunning eating experience, the food is so delicious and I loved it. We had a wide selection of food. Staring with the mushrooms and aubergine and Shrimps, I was so pleased with the shrimp, and they had a chilli oil sauce and one could spice up as you liked. Then the Chicken and Peanut sauce was incredible while the Spaghetti and clams were brilliant. We were with vegans and they found the spinach dish very tasty while the greens in peanut sauce and mushroom were all enjoyed….
And the Fado experience at Duque da Rua was well enjoyed, the traditional Portuguese music genre proving quite the experience.
Service in this delightful bar is excellent but it’s for the Fado that all seats are filled. 7 singers, 3 musicians, duets, some acting as chorus, it was Incredible and a wonderful introduction to this uniquely Portuguese genre of music. The Fado Guitarist was unbelievable, his effort and commitment to the music and attentiveness to the singer, paying off to our benefit.
This morning programme items have been going well, one online stream is broadcast directly into the hotel for people in person to watch and this work very well.
Smofcon Europe runs from December 3-5 in Lisboa, Portugal. James Bacon and Vincent Docherty, now both in Lisboa, took a few moments to let me know that they have now surpassed the Smofcon Amsterdam (2011) membership, and that this year’s Smofcon Europe in Lisboa now has 131 members. Covid rules changed today in Portugal, presenting challenges to all involved, as they adapt to the situation.
Virtual membership, as anticipated, is strong and there will be something there for all fans who enjoy running conventions.
There are three Online workshops that might be of interest to virtual attendees. Be aware that space is limited and advance sign-up is required.
First up, the Chair of Noreason IV, Deb Geisler is leading a discussion on Communication, Management, and Leadership for Convention Runners on Friday at 15:30-17:30 UTC. This interactive workshop will see conrunners discussing the role they as a leader play in creating ‘Buzz’ and managing public and relations. Other topics include how to ‘Brief’ and be on brand. Discussion on how you and your team need to have a clear picture of what your purpose is and why that is important to fans. Deb Geisler is a Professor of Communication at Suffolk University as well as being Worldcon Chair of the 2004 Boston Worldcon, Noreascon 4.
Taking place also on Friday but later, at 18:00-20:00 UTC. Two Worldcon Chairs take on the second workshop, Division Head Skills for the Modern Worldcon. Patty Wells chaired the 2011 Worldcon in Reno and Randy Shepard chaired LoneStarCon 3 in Texas. They will look at the complexity of Worldcons, the management skills needed to perform the role, the most necessary skills needed to perform well and what are some resources to use to get up to speed.
Finally, on Sunday at 16:00-17:30 UTC, Lisa Feichter will lead a workshop on Dynamic Leadership and Crucial Communication. Effective leaders use purposeful communication to determine the best way to convey messages and lead teams. While an easy concept in theory it is much harder to implement, especially when conversations turn crucial and team dynamics start to fracture. They will break down the components needed to live dynamic leadership and build your confidence for when you encounter crucial conversations.
In this interactive session they will cover:
Levels of listening
Team development and team dynamics
Tips for crucial conversations
Lisa Feichter works with intact teams to design strategy, set vision, and resolve blocks in performance and communication. She is a certified professional life coach; Therapeutic Laughter Leader; certified in Cornell Change Leadership, DiSC communication, and Emotional Intelligence; and an international innovation trainer. Lisa has spent the last twenty five years working in R&D with a Fortune 100 company. She is past Volunteer Chair for the Midwest Regional Coaching Conference and is a volunteer for the Illinois Butterfly Monitor Network.
Further information including sign up forms, descriptions and SMOFcon’s entire weekend program can be found at here.
Membership is required for accessing online or in-person program. The range of costs and sign-up information is here.
(1) WISCON CALLS FOR HELP. Kit Stubbs, Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization, and WisCon 2022 co-chair, has written a long post – “Let’s Save WisCon!” – explaining that to survive the con needs an infusion of volunteers, and to raise a substantial amount of money (primarily because of commitments in its hotel contract).
…WisCon’s roots are grounded in white feminism, and WisCon continues to struggle with racism and with finding ways to center attendees of color who have been harmed. The Town Hall marks a key point in our antiracist work to bring WisCon, particularly as experienced by our attendees and volunteers of color, into better alignment with our values—even if this means that white attendees will have to sit with discomfort.
Working towards a more antiracist con is just one of the major challenges that we face. Unless we, the WisCon community, also take significant action this year in terms of finances and our volunteer pool, within the next few years we will no longer be able to run WisCon.
Why? What’s going on?
Right now, in addition to pushing harder on antiracism, WisCon is facing big challenges on two other fronts: money and labor.
We don’t have enough funds to pay for what happens if we don’t fill our contracted block of hotel rooms, and we can’t afford to cancel the hotel contract. We need about $76k in additional income to our general fund by the end of WisCon 2022 to put the con back on solid financial footing. Thanks to a generous donor, the first $5k we raise will be matched. Donate now to double the power of your donation!
We are in a volunteer shortage crisis. It takes a LOT of people to make WisCon happen, and we lack dozens of volunteers in key positions.
The Board of SF3 (WisCon’s parent nonprofit) and WisCon organizers are already starting to work on these challenges. There are many things, both large and small, that you can do to help!…
(2) OMICRON VS. DISCON. The Worldcon is two weeks away, so it’s of great concern to people planning to travel to the con that Biden administration officials are considering stricter testing requirements for all travelers to the U.S. amid omicron variant concerns: “Stricter coronavirus testing being weighed for all travelers to U.S.” reports the Washington Post.
The Biden administration is preparing stricter testing requirements for all travelers entering the United States, including returning Americans, to curb the spread of the potentially dangerous omicron variant, according to three federal health officials.
As part of an enhanced winter covid strategy Biden is expected to announce Thursday, U.S. officials will require everyone entering the country to be tested one day before boarding flights, regardless of their vaccination status or country of departure. Administration officials are also considering a requirement that all travelers get retested within three to five days of arrival.
In addition, they are debating a controversial proposal to require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to self-quarantine for seven days, even if their test results are negative. Those who flout the requirements might be subject to fines and penalties, the first time such penalties would be linked to testing and quarantine measures for travelers in the United States.
The two testing measures are detailed in a draft public health order written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is under review by officials at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the White House. The self quarantine-related measures are not in that draft but could be added later if the proposals win broader sign-off, said the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the order has not been finalized….
(3) DISCON III ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP PURCHASE DEADLINE. Meanwhile, DisCon III advises that people can pre-register for an Attending membership in the 2021 Worldcon up until December 8. After that, Attending memberships must be purchased in person at the Omni Shoreham.
Virtual and Supporting memberships will still be available to buy online after December 8th, right up to and during the convention.
The convention is hybrid with ten tracks of programming available for Virtual members, including concerts and the Hugo Awards ceremony. In-person Day Passes will be available on-site at the Registration Desk for those who cannot attend all five days. Complete membership information can be found here.
(4) 2023 SITE SELECTION DEADLINES. Be aware of the deadline that applies to whichever method you plan to use to vote in 2023 Worldcon Site Selection.
Paper ballots sent via mail must be received by December 7.
Emailed ballots (in one of the accepted formats, such as PDF) must be received by noon EDT December 14.
Voting continues in person at DisCon III until 6 PM EST on Friday, December 17, 2021.
(5) DISCON III GETS GOOGLE GRANT FOR PANEL CAPTIONING. DisCon III chair Mary Robinette Kowal underscored yesterday’s announcement about the availability of ASL and CART captions for the convention’s panel programs and events:
(6) SFF IN INDIA. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, books columnist Nilanjana Roy, a mainstream novelist who has tried to write fantasy, discusses the rise of sf and fantasy in India.
I recently asked Samit Basu, an old friend and the author of 10 books, including the wildly popular Gameworld trilogy, about the boom in Indian SFF, especially dystopian fiction. Indian SFF writers have one thing in common with their better-known Chinese peers, Basu explained. ‘You can’t really talk about present-day society in an analytical or critical manner without some risk,’ he said, ‘but you can use technological and social metaphors to talk about the present in genre fiction.”…
…In this climate, SFF offers writers such as Praywag Akbar, whose 2017 novel Leila —which is set in the 2040s and features cities where communities are segregated by high walls–a little more leeway. The legal scholar created an equally compelling dystopia in his 2020 novel, The Wall: his protagonist Mithila steps into a world of failed revolutions where, briefly, ‘none could tell the difference between rebel and citizen.’ The story continues in a second volume called The Horizon, which was published this month.
(7) CRYPTO CRIME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an article by Cristina Criddle behind a paywall in the Financial Times.
Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets by artists including Sir Anish Kapoor and David Bailey have been photographed and turned into non-fungible tokens and sold for millions of pounds without their consent.
Curator Ben Moore took photographs of some of the helmets from a project called Art Wars, created by more than 300 artists since 2013, and sold for them for cryptocurrency as NFTs on the trading platform OpenSea yesterday.
More than 1,000 ethereum (L 5m) had been transferred since the collection of 1,138 images was put on sale yesterday. One NFT attributed to Kapoor sold for 1,000 ethereum. Another work attributed to Bailey sold for 120 ethereum.
(8) SCHEDULE YOUR SMOFFING. SMOFcon Europe takes place December 3-5 in Lisboa, Portugal, and the convention’s Programme is now online.
Region 10 School Board member Jim Grant and Amy Wells Grant were married in Ticonderoga, New York about two weeks ago, on a replica of the set “Star Trek.” Among those in attendance — the original Capt. Kirk.
…Positioned behind an altar that served as a prop on the original Star Trek set, Shatner delivered some opening remarks, and then recited his original lines from a 55-year-old wedding ceremony scene featured in the episode “Star Trek: The Balance of Terror.”
“Since the days of the first wooden vessels, all shipmasters have had one happy privilege, and that is uniting two people in the bonds of matrimony,” said Shatner, reading from the script. “And so, we are gathered here today with you, James, and you, Amy, in a sight of your fellows, in accordance with our laws and our many beliefs so that you may pledge your love to one another. Please kiss the bride.”…
We turned to Box Office Mojo for its data on worldwide box office grosses to determine the top 10 highest-grossing movies in the world. Aside from Disney movies, the list also includes entries in Universal franchises like “Fast and Furious” and “Jurassic World.”…
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2004 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Seventeen years ago at Noreascon 4, Neal Gaiman wins the Short Story Hugo for “A Study in Emerald” which neatly merged the Holmesian and Cthulhu Mythos. It was first published in the Shadows Over Baker Street anthology as edited by John Pelan and Michael Reaves. Other nominated works were “Paying It Forward” by Michael A. Burstein, “Robots Don’t Cry” by Mike Resnick, “Four Short Novels” by Joe Haldeman and “The Tale of the Golden Eagle” by David D. Levine. You can read it at Gaiman’s site in its original wonderfulness here.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 30, 1835 — Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work, The Mysterious Stranger, in which Satan might be visiting us, went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. Anyone here who’s read it? (Died 1910.)
Born November 30, 1906 — John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as is his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. (Died 1977.)
Born November 30, 1945 — Billy Drago. Best remembered, I think, as the evil John Bly in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. series. He was certainly booked in a lot of genre roles as he has appearances in Cyborg 2, Sci-Fighters, Supernatural and X-Files. He also played the demon Barbas in the original and definitely best Charmed series. He also was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, a film I’m sure no one was begging for. He was in the Masters of Horror “Imprint” episode, which Showtime pulled due to “disturbing content” which you can read about here. (Died 2019.)
Born November 30, 1950 — Chris Claremont, 71. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty-year run on Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator owned series with DC publishing it. And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist. Anyone ever encountered these?
Born November 30, 1955 — Kevin Conroy, 66. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series which is my Batman. Justice League Action saw him reprise that role with the other characters often noting his stoic personality. I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. Bruce Timm likes his work in the Batman 75th Anniversary Short Batman: Strange Days (here) which is interesting as he only says one word though he grunts nicely. (CE)
Born November 30, 1955 — Andy Robertson. A fan and editor who worked as an assistant editor on Interzone and contributed myriad reviews and interviews. He published some fiction and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, featuring tales set in Hodgson’s world, and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands Volume 2: Nightmares of the Fall. Alas, they never made into digital editions. (Died 2014.)
Born November 30, 1957 — Martin Morse Wooster, 64. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door. He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16. A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews. He has been turning them out ever since. In 1975, he was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. He has contributed to File 770 since 1978 – the first year it was published.
Many comic book characters anchor global franchises, but their creators — or the writers and artists who helped make them popular — have not always shared in that success. Zestworld, a new subscription-based platform that is set to be introduced in early 2022, is hoping to change that.
Zestworld will allow comic book writers and artists to present new work and reap the benefits — and help monetize their creations if they are made into collectibles or adapted for TV, movies or other media. The creators will be stockholders in the company.
“In setting out to build this, we started with the problem statement that this industry is broken for creators; and it’s broken in publishing and TV and film; it’s also broken in events and collectibles,” Chris Giliberti, the founder and chief executive officer of Zestworld, said during a recent telephone interview. “We wanted to build something that’s useful across all areas of their business — anywhere they generate income.”
One investor in Zestworld is the venture capitalist firm Seven Seven Six, which was founded by Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit….
(14) WITH EVERY WORD, SHE DROPS KNOWLEDGE. Cat Rambo’s new book You Sexy Thing is out this month! She spent a few minutes with Rapid Transmission’s Joseph Hurtgen and talked about her writing process, working with an editor, and her love for gaming: “Cat Rambo: You Sexy Thing”.
How has your work as an editor, including your time at Fantasy Magazine, informed your writing?
Certainly editing has made me a better writer, more attentive to the nuances of comma placement and sentence structure. But it’s also made the way I work with editors different, I think, or at least helped me advance more quickly to the point where I understand what a difference a good editor can make, and how awesome an ally they can be in producing something that you’re really proud of. For example, I had a story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction earlier this year, “Crazy Beautiful,” that I absolutely love, and it was C.C. Finlay’s excellent edits that took it to the next level, in my opinion, including a major change that involved removing the vast majority of the quotes from art critics that I’d included and leaving only the Bob Ross quote that starts it off. Similarly, with You Sexy Thing, my editor, Chris Morgan caught all sorts of little snags and played a major part in making it the smooth read that it is (I think!)…
Designer Li Xiang’s own website tells what it all symbolizes: “Shenzhen Zhongshuge”. (There’s also a large gallery of photos.)
…When I received the design assignment for Zhongshuge in Shenzhen last year, I had led the designs for several completed Zhongshuge across China. In the process of researching the cultural background of this city, I realized that I could design a space which could become a symbol of Shenzhen itself as an inclusive and vibrant city of migrants, paying tribute to all those who have struggled to make history in this city.
Thus, this retail space, which seems to have grown out of a giant art installation, was born. Straddling the earth and sky, it is examined as an otherworldly presence that creates a subtle experience of unease mixed with familiarity, making the space a proposition posing silent questions to the viewers….
Horror has always been an elastic and regenerative genre. It lifts from and melds with just about every type of cinema: comedy, sci-fi, action, romance, fantasy, documentary. Its flexibility extends as far back as the monstrous love story in “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and as current as the blood-drenched melodrama of “Malignant.”
But how do you know if you’re watching a horror movie when there’s no killer or monster, exorcism or blood? It’s a decades-old question that’s being asked about new films that blur the line between a movie with horror and a horror movie….
…Today, we are honored to introduce to you some amazing artworks of Ruby Spark – a talented young artist who specializes in drawing and illustrating. Obsessed with the beautiful costumes of Disney villains, Ruby came up with a brilliant idea of designing perfume bottles based on these iconic outfits, and they are all not surprisingly extremely gorgeous and fascinating!
8. COPPOLA HIRED EIKO ISHIOKA UNDER THE EDICT THAT “THE COSTUMES ARE THE SETS.”
According to Coppola, the original amount budgeted for sets in Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a massive chunk of the film’s total cost—so much so that he worried he’d go over budget if he actually stuck to the elaborate set designs his original production designer planned. So, he hired different production designers, scaled down the sets, and brought in legendary art director Eiko Ishioka to transform his vision of Dracula into something different.
With Ishioka, who later admitted she’d never seen a Dracula film before working on Coppola’s project, the director crafted a philosophy that “the costumes are the sets,” putting all the focus on his actors and what they were wearing, with the sets themselves acting as mere backdrops for the performances. Inspired by everything from insects to symbolist painters to The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (which is homaged in Dracula’s final costume of the film), Ishioka set about crafting everything from a dress centered on snakes for Lucy Westenra to an insect-like straightjacket for Renfield. For Dracula’s first appearance as a vampire, she also ditched the classic cape in favor of a long, flowing crimson robe, which remains one of the film’s most famous visuals.
Ishioka won the Academy Award for costume design in 1993 for her work on Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This trailer from How It Should Have Ended about Venom; Let There Be Carnage (with guest stars Spider-Man, Deadpool, and Baby Shark) dropped today/
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nicholas Shectman, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Joseph Hurtgen, James Bacon, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, with dual credit to Daniel Dern for a similar suggestion.]
Superheroes won’t be the only ones wearing masks in downtown San Diego this weekend.
After a two-year absence, Comic-Con International returns to San Diego on Friday to entertain, inform and tantalize pop culture fans the world over.
But this won’t be the Comic-Con you remember. This is Comic-Con Special Edition, a stripped-down, three-day event being held over a holiday weekend to limit crowds during an ongoing pandemic that has forced online-only versions of the last two conventions.
Comic-Con organizers said they wanted to hold an in-person event but do it safely. So, that meant fewer days, smaller scope and a return to the intimate gathering that longtime attendees fondly remember.
And it means attendees will be asked to show proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 tests. They will also have to wear masks or face coverings regardless of vaccination status….
North Korea has sentenced to death a man who smuggled and sold copies of the Netflix series “Squid Game” after authorities caught seven high school students watching the Korean-language global hit show, sources in the country told RFA.
The smuggler is said to have brought a copy of Squid Game into North Korea back from China and sold USB flash drives containing the series. Sources said his sentence would be carried out by firing squad.
A student who bought a drive received a life sentence, while six others who watched the show have been sentenced to five years hard labor, and teachers and school administrators have been fired and face banishment to work in remote mines or themselves, the sources said.
RFA reported last week that copies of the violent drama had arrived in the reclusive country despite the best efforts of authorities to keep out foreign media. They began spreading among the people on flash drives and SD cards.
… “This all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama Squid Game and watched it with one of his best friends in class,” a source in law enforcement in North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service Monday.
“The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them. They were caught by the censors in 109 Sangmu, who had received a tipoff,” said the source, referring to the government strike force that specializes in catching illegal video watchers, known officially as Surveillance Bureau Group 109.
The arrest of the seven students marks the first time that the government is applying the newly passed law on the “Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture,” in a case involving minors, according to the source….
(3) SMOFCON PROGRAM AVAILABLE TO MEMBERS. SMOFcon Europe (December 3-5 in Lisboa, Portugal) has announced their program schedule. They say one must be a member to access program — purchase memberships here.
We are thrilled to announce our programme schedule and workshop sign ups are now available on our website at https://www.smofconeurope.com/whats-on/programme/! The programme grid shows not only time zones but whether items are in person or streaming. Also on this page are the descriptions of our Workshops and links to sign up for them. Workshop space is limited and requires advance signup so don’t delay!
Lawrence M. Schoen was a finalist for the 2007 Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and in the years since has been nominated for the Hugo Award (once), the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award (twice), and the Nebula Award (six times). He’s twice won the Cóyotl award for Best Novel — for two books in his critically acclaimed Barsk series: The Elephants Graveyard (2015) and The Moons of Barsk (2018). He also was the 2016 winner of the Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service to SFWA Award.
His most well-known creations are the space-faring stage hypnotist, the Amazing Conroy, and his alien animal traveling companion, a buffalito named Reggie who can eat anything — which he then converts into oxygen via … flatulence. For more than 10 years, he’s hosted the Eating Authors series, which has shared the most memorable meals of more than 500 writers. In addition to all that, he founded the Klingon Language Institute, plus is a hypnotherapist specializing in authors’ issues.
We discussed how he was able to release 12 books in a difficult year affected by both a pandemic and chemo, the pseudonym he was relieved he never had to use, what caused him to say “you find the answers to the problems of your life by writing a story about it,” the RPG improv which led to the creation of his Barsk universe, what he learned at the Taos Toolbox workshop which caused him to completely rewrite one of his books, the all-important power of the subconscious, how transcription software affected his style, why he doesn’t want people to read the final paragraph of his second Barsk novel, his relationships with the indie side of publishing, the many joys of mentoring, how he uses hypnotism to help other writers, and much more.
Just as The Beatles used their timeless songs in the 1960s to take millions of listeners across the universe on a magical musical mystery tour, Oscar-winning “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy director Peter Jackson has taken millions of viewers worldwide on a magical cinematic mystery tour in this century.
So what happens when these two worlds and creative forces intersect, 51 years after The Beatles acrimoniously split up in 1970?
“It’ll blow your mind!” said Jackson, a lifelong fan of the most famous and influential band in rock ‘n’ roll history.
And what happens when that unlikely intersection — which has resulted in Jackson’s engrossing new film documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back” — comprehensively chronicles the month of January 1969?
… Jackson culled “Get Back” from nearly 60 hours of previously unseen footage that was shot in January 1969 for director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s briefly released and widely criticized “Let It Be” documentary.
In part one of this multi-part interview, Stephen welcomes Sir Peter Jackson and sets the stage for their in-depth discussion of Jackson’s work directing the incredible Disney+ documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back,” which is set to change the public’s perception of the relationship between John, Paul, George and Ringo in their final years as bandmates.
But wait! Steven H Silver says, “During the first episode of The Beatles Get Back, there is a section about 1:29 in where George is describing watching the Into the Unknown adaptation of Robert Sheckley’s Immortality, Inc on the BBC.” Okay, we’re covered!
(6) IMAGINE THAT. At Stone Soup, Sarah Gailey’s “Building Beyond” is an ongoing series of conversations about how much fun worldbuilding can be. In the latest installment — “Building Beyond: Unfathomable Depths” – Gailey is joined by Suzanne Walker, Hunter Ford, and Natalie Zina Walschots to play with the prompt —
A deep sea diving expedition finds a long-abandoned dome.
(7) TO AFFORDABLY GO AND WATCH. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Amazon Prime Video is (currently) offering (to Amazon Prime members, in case that doesn’t go without saying) Paramount+ (Star Trek shows, etc) (and some other channels) for $0.99/month for up to two months.
Wednesday, December 15 6:00 pm ET American Christmas Stories
Acclaimed bestselling SF and fantasy writer Connie Willis, editor of the just-released American Christmas Stories, joins LOA LIVE for a merrily unconventional yuletide conversation about the uniquely American literature inspired by this most magical time of the year. With Jamaican-born speculative novelist Nalo Hopkinson, who contributes a story to the collection, and historian Penne Restad (Christmas in America: A History.) Registration link TK
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1865 — One hundred fifty-six years ago, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly referred to as Alice in Wonderland) was first published by Macmillan in London. It was the first work of Lewis Carroll, the alias of pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. It had illustrations by John Tenniel.
The text blocks of the first printed edition were removed from the binding and sold with Dodgson’s permission to the New York publishing house of D. Appleton & Company, after Tenniel objected to the quality of the illustrations. So this was actually the second printed edition. The entire print run sold out quickly. It has a sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. It has been continuously in-print including writer Martin Gardner’s exemplary The Annotated Alice.
I count at least fifty video riffs off of it so far including of course Star Trek‘s “Shore Leave” with the white rabbit and Alice. A number of genre works have riffed off it as well including Otherland by Tad Williams, The Looking Glass Wars, and its sequel, Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor, Automated Alice by Jeff Noon and After Alice by Gregory Maguire.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 26, 1897 — Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
Born November 26, 1910 — Cyril Cusack. Fireman Captain Beatty on the classic version of Fahrenheit 451. He’s Mr. Charrington, the shopkeeper in Nineteen Eighty-four, and several roles on Tales of the Unexpected rounds out his genre acting. Well, and what looks like an absolutely awful Tam-Lin… (Died 1993.)
Born November 26, 1919 — Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, he won three Hugos and three Nebula Awards for his fiction, three Hugos as Best Professional Editor, and one as Best Fan Writer (2010). His 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. Ok setting aside Awards which are frelling impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction and Galaxy Science Fiction UK, If, Star Science Fiction Magazine (which I’ve never heard of), Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the two John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. He wrote a lot of short fiction, some I think brilliant and some not but that was true of most SF writers of the time. (Died 2013.)
Born November 26, 1936 — Shusei Nagaoka. Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue by Electric Light Orchestra, and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.)
Born November 26, 1945 — Daniel Davis, 76. I’m singling him out for Birthday Honors for his two excellent appearances as Professor Moriarty on Next Gen. He has one-offs on MacGyver, Gotham and Elementary. He played The Judge in The Prestige film. He also voiced several characters on the animated Men in Black series.
Born November 26, 1949 — Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 72. Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two Best Fan Artist Hugos, one at Denvention Two and the next at Chicon IV. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado.
Born November 26, 1961 — Steve Macdonald, 60. A fan and longtime pro filker ever since he first went to a filk con in 1992. In 2001, he went on a “WorlDream” tour, attending every filk con in the world held that year. He’s now resident in Germany where he moved to marry fellow filker Kerstin (Katy) Droge. He was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006.
Born November 26, 1988 — Ben Bird Person, 33. A Filer who writes “silly” Wikipedia articles and commissions art of his cat Snow. As DoctorWho042 is in the top 2000 on the list of Wikipedians by number of edits.
Born November 26, 1988 — Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, 33. He played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on the Game of Thrones for five seasons. That’s it for his genre acting, but he co-founded Icelandic Mountain Vodka whose primary product is a seven-time distilled Icelandic vodka. Surely something Filers can appreciate! At the first Philadelphia Ren Faire he appeared as King Thor, the leader of a Viking raiding party.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Heathcliff – Is this Asimov’s next law of robotics?
xkcd confronts the challenge bookstores face in sorting fiction from nonfiction.
(13) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and guest Marguerite Smith are live from Novacon 50! We discuss DisCon III, Glasgow in 2024, and Dublin in 2029 before diving into actual science fiction and live letters of comment. Listen here: “A Fistful of Dongles”.
Below, Sue Mason illustrates guest Marguerite Smith and not-a-guest Meg MacDonald from the Glasgow in 2024 bid.
(14) OPEN SESAME. Street Gang, an HBO original documentary about the most impactful children’s program in television history, Sesame Street, premieres December 13 on HBO Max.
…“Across the board I’ve seen an uptick in number of requests, but once I’m full, I’m full,” says Doug Eberhardt, a Santa based in Charlotte. “I’ve got 92 gigs booked between now and Christmas.”
HireSanta, an agency for Santas and Mrs. Clauses, has been turning down requests for weeks.
“Hundreds of people a day have been reaching out to us,” founder Mitch Allen says. “We always sell out on weekends, but normally it’s after Thanksgiving.” This year, his Santas were all fully committed for every weekend by the first week of November.
… Perhaps the shortage is an opportunity to rethink what makes a Santa “believable.” For most of the past century, that has meant a St. Nick who is chubby, white-bearded, old, and usually Caucasian. Maybe a gap in the marketplace will open up opportunities for Santas who don’t fit the mainstream mold: Black Santas. Deaf Santas. Spanish-speaking Santas. Connaghan is trying to develop a talent pipeline through an initiative called Santa Bootcamp, sponsored by Old Navy, which recruits Santas with diverse backgrounds. Because there are so few of these Santas — only 5 percent of Santas identify as non-White by industry estimates — they are even harder to find this year than usual, says HireSanta’s Allen….
(16) ALBUM BASED ON DARK STAR. “Phenomenology is a concept album of sorts, the central protagonist Talby was the lead character of the 1974 cult sci-fi film Dark Star by John Carpenter and the album depicts a metaphorical journey into the unknown where one has no choice but to face one’s fears, a hero’s journey indeed.” — Phenomenology at Bandcamp.
But IBM’s latest quantum chip and its competitors face a long path towards making the machines useful.
IBM’s newest quantum-computing chip, revealed on 15 November, established a milestone of sorts: it packs in 127 quantum bits (qubits), making it the first such device to reach 3 digits. But the achievement is only one step in an aggressive agenda boosted by billions of dollars in investments across the industry.
The ‘Eagle’ chip is a step towards IBM’s goal of creating a 433-qubit quantum processor next year, followed by one with 1,121 qubits, named Condor, by 2023. Such targets echo those that for decades the electronics industry has set itself for miniaturizing silicon chips, says Jerry Chow, head of IBM’s experimental quantum-computing group.
The brilliant facets of diamonds have entranced people throughout history and are a result of the ordered atomic structure of these gemstones. But this order comes at a cost: it makes diamonds fragile. In contrast to quartz and many other crystalline materials that produce atomically disordered forms, a disordered — and potentially less fragile — form of diamond has not been available. Writing in Nature,Shang et al. and Tang et al. report how to produce atomically disordered diamond-like materials with millimetre-scale dimensions, constituting a breakthrough for materials science.
Ray Bradbury’s book The Illustrated Man – a short story collection very loosely woven together with a fantastical framing narrative – is now seventy years old, and yet it remains a greatly influential work. Dealing with ideas around virtual reality, civil rights, the end of the world, and body art, it has managed to sustain a resonance through to the twenty-first century, despite its 1950s trappings. Individual stories from the collection have been adapted for film, television, radio and stage on multiple occasions, confirming Bradbury’s position as one of the most significant writers of science fiction even as the author tried to escape from the “ghetto” of genre fiction. In this illustrated talk, Dr Phil Nichols will show how Bradbury’s short-story collection both defines and confines the author.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Steven French, Dann, Daniel Dern, Steven H Silver, John Coxon, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
Dublin 2019 announced today there were 18 successful applicants for its scholarships to attend SMOFcon Europe in Lisboa, Portugal, being held December 3-5. The committee said in a press release:
Following in the footsteps of CanSMOF, there was a very positive response to our scholarships and the winning applicants have already been notified. Dublin 2019 worked cooperatively with CanSMOF to ensure that we could facilitate as many applications as possible to broaden the field of con-runners who could participate in SMOFcon. Successful applicants are travelling from Canada, USA, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the UK and Ireland.
Dublin 2019 recognizes that, like many areas, convention running has had a rough time of things lately. We are glad we were able to facilitate bringing new people to SMOFcon Europe as an extension of the goodwill we hold towards fans of all nationalities and fandoms.
Vincent Docherty, the Co-Chair of SMOFcon Europe said: “It’s great to see so many international fans coming to SMOFcon for the first time and we are looking forward to their involvement in our programme and the fresh perspectives they will bring for discussions. With the opening of our hotel bookings, we’ve seen an increase in interest and membership uptake and look forward to hosting fans in person as well as virtually this December.”
Meanwhile, CanSMOF itself announced that due to a lack of response they ended up awarding only one of three available scholarships offered for the purpose of attending Smofcon 39. That scholarship is going Joro Penchev of Sofia, Bulgaria.
Dublin 2019 did not publicly name the recipients of its scholarships.
Dublin 2019 welcomes applicants for scholarships to attend SMOFcon Europe in Lisboa, Portugal, to be held December 3-5, 2021.
Dublin 2019, following in the footsteps of CanSMOF, is offering a series of scholarships to attend SMOFcon, the annual convention runners’ convention.
Dublin 2019 wishes to encourage fans who wish to develop, learn and share experiences in conrunning. They recognize 2020 and 2021 have been very unusual and difficult years and hope this offer will help fans.
Dublin 2019 is offering a total of 17 scholarships.
5 X €50 to local fans
4 x €250 to European Fans
4 x €250 to Irish fans
2 x €250 to worldwide fans
2 x €750 to worldwide fans
Successful applicants will also receive a free membership to SMOFcon Europe, which supports all initiatives to bring fans safely together in Lisboa. The con will be held at the VIP Executive Art’s hotel.
CanSMOF Inc. will provide up to three scholarships for convention runners to use towards the cost of attending SMOFCon 39, to be held in Lisboa, Portugal, December 3-5, 2021. SMOFCon is the annual convention about organizing Science Fiction conventions.
The first scholarship, of up to 1000 CAD, is open to a Canadian citizen or resident involved in running conventions, with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.
The second scholarship. of up to 1000 CAD, is open to anyone not residing in Europe* who is involved in running conventions, with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.
The third scholarship of up to 500 CAD is open to anyone involved in running conventions, regardless of their place of residence with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.
All scholarships come with an attending membership to SMOFCon 39, graciously donated by Smofcon 39.
Applicants will automatically be considered for any and all scholarships for which they are eligible. Preference will be given to fans who have not previously attended a SMOFCon, but this is not necessary to be an applicant. The submission deadline is September 24th, 2021, 23:59 SST (UTC-11). CanSMOF reserves the right to not award any or all scholarships.
More information on SMOFCon 39 may be found at here. General information about SMOFCon, including a list of past SMOFCons may be found here.
CanSMOF is a Canadian not-for-profit corporation that ran the 2009 Worldcon and is hosting the 2021 World Fantasy Convention and the 2022 SMOFcon.
*Europe defined as Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Vatican City.
SMOFcon Europe will be held in Lisboa, Portugal from December 3-5. The venue will be the VIP Executive Art’s Hotel.
SMOFcon is a convention for people who run conventions or are interested in doing so.
The SMOFcon Europe team is: Cristina Alves, James Bacon, John “JC” Clarke, Tammy Coxen, Vincent Docherty, Sara Felix, Anna Gryzanova, Miguel Jorge, Marcin Klak, Elizabeth McCarty, Ricardo Pinto, Rogério Ribeiro, Carlos Silva, Paul Anthony Shortt, Marguerite Smith, and Paul Taylor.
The team’s vision for this year’s event is detailed in “Our approach”.
There will be a virtual component to the convention, and the team encourages everyone who wants to participate but is not yet sure about the feasibility of travel to visit the registration page and obtain Supporting/Virtual membership(s). It is possible to upgrade later to an Attending Membership. They say —
Knowing how many virtual members to expect will allow us to better plan for the online part of the convention. Our goal is to have a fantastic in-person convention but we know in these times things can change quickly. We will be sending out periodic updates to our members about travel and COVID related topics as they solidify more.