Saini’s winning piece is “The Color of Conflagration” which extrapolates from present-day movements seeking to flatten the experiences of marginalized communities. It is one meditation on the individual and collective ramifications of the violence of erasure—silencing personal and cultural experience through legislation, technology, and surveillance.
Kiran Kaur Saini is a Punjabi-American writer whose stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Gulf Coast, The Masters Review, and elsewhere, and have been translated into Spanish and selected for Best of the Year anthology inclusion. A 15-year veteran of the Los Angeles film industry, Kiran stepped away from her career in film production at the start of the pandemic to become a full-time caregiver to her 89-year-old mom. She is currently an Associate Editor for Podcastle.
The AC Bose Grant, cosponsored by the SLF and DesiLit, has been offering support to South Asian / South Asian diaspora writers working within the speculative fiction genre. While applicants may submit adult works, the grant is also accessible to teen authors who take priority during the review process. The AC Bose Grant was founded by Rupa and Gautam Bose in memory of their father, Ashim Chandra Bose, who fostered a love of reading and science fiction in his children in the hope that it will continue to nourish promising works in the genre that continue to move and inspire us all.
Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers.
(1) CHANGES IN PUBLISHING. Pete Kahle of Bloodshot Books is stepping down from publishing and Joe Mynhardt of Crystal Like Publishing is stepping in to help Bloodshot Books’s authors by offering them all a new home at Crystal Lake — or offering them the option to simply take their rights back if they prefer. See “Big Publishing News” on the Crystal Lake Publishing website.
Anyone who knows me [Joe Mynhardt] knows that I’m a big supporter of great books and great authors. I believe in the power of stories, and want to give my all to the genre fiction community.
So whenever I see authors or even a publisher in need, I reach out. Sometimes it’s to help publishers end things on the best of terms, and other times to help authors find a new home for their books.
That’s why I made the decision to step in and offer all the authors at Bloodshot Books a new home at Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m familiar with most of the authors there (yip, I always keep an eye on talented authors), and some of the actual books. Plus, I know Pete Kahle at Bloodshot Books has a great eye for talent. Unfortunately Pete has to step down from publishing, so this is our way of helping him and the 40+ authors involved.
We have given all the authors the option to take their rights back, in case they want to sub elsewhere or self-publish, but I’m confident that Crystal Lake is a great publishing house. We’re trustworthy, pay on time, and hell, we’ve been around for over 10 years. Which is almost impossible in this industry.
If any Bloodshot Books authors are reading this and you haven’t received our emails (there are a few authors we’re struggling to get a hold of), please message me. Even if you’re not interested, you’ll need a rights reversion letter from us.
(2) GET READY BEAGLE FANS! The Essential Peter S. Beagle, which celebrates the storied career of the bestselling author of The Overneath, Summerlong, and The Last Unicorn, will be released May 16 by Tachyon Publications. They will begin taking preorders on April 11 starting at noon Pacific time.
Beagle, one of America’s most influential fantasists, continues to evoke glowing comparisons to such iconic authors as Twain, Tolkien, Carroll, L’Engle, and Vonnegut. From heartbreaking to humorous, these tales show the depth and power of Beagle’s incomparable prose and storytelling.
Featuring original introductions from Jane Yolen (The Devil’s Arithmetic) and Meg Elison (Find Layla), and gorgeous original illustrations from Stephanie Law (Shadowscapes), The Essential Peter S. Beagle is a must-have for any fan of classic fantasy.
Few headlines thrill like “‘Counterportation’: Quantum breakthrough paves way for world-first experimental wormhole.” The article itself delivers, raising the possibility that “disembodied transport (…) without any detectable information carriers” may prove to be physically realizable.
Teleportation by another name is still teleportation….
First on his list is —
All the Colors of Darkness by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1963)
The Universal Transmitting Company has a simple dream: provide the Earth of the mid-1980s with facilities that would allow travellers to step from city to city or continent to continent in a single stride. The business would be instantly profitable and the founders able to sit back and rake in the dough.
This elegant plan is straightforward in concept. In practice, the project has met impediment after impediment. Why, it’s almost as if the Universal Transmitting Company had a very determined enemy…
(4) PUTTING CHATGPT TO WORK. Joe Pitkin says “I Used ChatGPT to Write My Novel!” at The Subway Test. But he doesn’t mean what was probably the first thought that came to your mind.
But the novel I’m working on now, Pacifica, begins each of its 74 chapters with an epigraph. Much like the computer game Civilization, each chapter is named after one of the technologies that have made modern humanity possible. And, much like Civilization, each technology is accompanied by an apposite quote. Leonard Nimoy was the gold standard narrator for those quotes in Civilization IV (though Sean Bean has his moments in Civilization VI).
One of the most fun parts of drafting Pacifica has been finding the right quotes for each chapter. I picked from books and poems that I love (as well as a few books that I hated) to put together what I imagined as a kind of collage or mosaic of human knowledge. I imagined the task as something like a literary version of the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, where The Beatles assembled a photo-collage crowd of their favorite thinkers and artists and goofball influences.
… So I asked ChatGPT to find me some quotes about superconducting….
Since 2004, the Gulliver Travel Grant has sought to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research. The grant awards one writer $1000 annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.
Em North is a writer who has lived in eighteen different states and still can’t figure out where to settle down. Their debut novel, IN UNIVERSES, is forthcoming from Harper Books (US) and Heinemann Hutchinson (UK) in March 2024. They received their MFA from Johns Hopkins University, where they were awarded the Benjamin T. Sankey Fellowship for a graduating student. They have also received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop, the Tin House Summer Workshop, Aspen Words, and the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Their fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Sun, Conjunctions, Lightspeed Magazine, Threepenny Review, and Best American Experimental Writing 2020.
Before becoming a writer, they studied physics and philosophy, writing their undergraduate thesis on the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. In previous lives, they’ve worked as an observational cosmologist, snowboard instructor, horse trainer, wine taster, pure math researcher, (very brief) investment banker, ranch caretaker, and creative writing instructor.
(7) SLF VIRTUAL CLASSES. The Speculative Literature Foundation has three courses and workshops on its April schedule – see full details and registration cost at the link.
Nancy Hightower, essayist and author, is teaching a workshop on writing about mental health on April 22. The day after, our course on screenwriting begins with Ted Schneider, director and writer of films like “Early Light” and “Iqaluit.” On May 13 our Writing the Taboo workshop returns, instructed by our very own director, Mary Anne Mohanraj.
(8) LEO D. SULLIVAN (1940-2023). Animator Leo D. Sullivan, whose most famous work was the chugging engine that opened Soul Train, died March 25 at the age of 82 reports Deadline.
…In addition to creating the memorable Soul Train opener, Sullivan contributed to cartoons featuring Fat Albert, Transformers and My Little Pony. He worked as an animator for five decades.
His resume included television work for The Incredible Hulk, Flash Gordon, BraveStarr and Scooby-Doo, his family said.
Born in Lockhart, Texas, Sullivan moved to Los Angeles in 1952, and started working for Looney Tunes animator Bob Clampett. In the 1960s, he joined forced with Floyd Norman, the first Black animator at Disney, and cofounded Vignette Film, which created educational films about historic Black figures.
He also published a video game that honored the Tuskegee Airmen and taught at the Art Institute of California-Orange County.
Sullivan was honored by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1979 and 1991….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1984 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Poul Anderson & Karen Anderson’s “Cosmic Concepts”
This is less about “Cosmic Concepts” which this is the Beginning of, but rather all of the splendid poetry of The Unicorn Trade.
Now most of you know that this collection which is mostly by Poul Anderson & Karen Anderson was published first by Tor thirty-nine years ago. It’s an amazing collection of stories, poems, and, errr, science fiction haikus, something I never knew even existed.
I am not by any means a big poetry fan but I was quite delighted by everything that was here for poetry, most of which is by her. The poetry is a sheer joy to read. Of the collection starts off with “The Unicorn Trade”, a stellar affair, by her but I will also single out “Haiku for Mars” and “Professor James” by both of them. A deep drink of their favorite ale is in order!
And now the Beginning of “Cosmic Concepts”…
This is the science fiction story. This is the young man full of pride, whose gadgets work the first time tried in a science fiction story.
This is the elder scientist, every year on the honors list, who trained the young man full of pride, whose gadgets work the first time tried in a science fiction story.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 6, 1924 — Sonya Dorman. Her best-known work of SF is “When I Was Miss Dow” which received an Otherwise retrospective award nomination. Her “Corruption of Metals” received won the Rhysling Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She also appeared in Dangerous Visions with the “Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird” story. (Died 2005.)
Born April 6, 1926 — Gil Kane. Artist who created the modern look and feel of Green Lantern and the Atom for DC, and co-created Iron Fist with Roy Thomas for Marvel. I’m going to single him out for his work on the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets in the Sixties and Seventies which you can find on the DC Universe Infinite app. (Died 2000.)
Born April 6, 1935 — Douglas Hill. Canadian author, editor and reviewer. For a year, he was assistant editor of Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds magazine. I’m going to admit that I know more of him as a decidedly and to be admired Leftist reviewer than I do as writer, indeed he held the same post of Literary Editor at the socialist weekly Tribune as Orwell earlier did. Who here is familiar with fiction? He was quite prolific indeed. (Died 2007.)
Born April 6, 1948 — Sherry Gottlieb, 75. Best remembered and loved as owner of the Change of Hobbit bookstore whose origin story you can read in her memoir. It closed in 1991. She’s written two horror novels Love Bites and Worse Than Death.
Born April 6, 1948 — Larry Todd, 75. Writer and cartoonist, best known for the decidedly adult Dr. Atomic strips that originally appeared in the underground newspaper The Sunday Paper and his other work in underground comics, often with a SF bent. In our circles, Galaxy Science Fiction, Amazing Science Fiction and Imagination were three of his venues. He also did some writing for If. He also did, and it’s really weird art, the cover art and interior illustrations for Harlan Ellison’s Chocolate Alphabet.
Born April 6, 1956 — Mark Askwith, 67. Did you know there was an authorized Prisoner sequel? Well there was. The Prisoner: Shattered Visage is a four-issue comic book series written by him and Dean Motter who was also the artist. Askwith also wrote for DC Comics, specifically Batman: Gotham Knights.
Born April 6, 1977 — Karin Tidbeck, 46. Her first work in English, Jagannath, a short story collection, made the shortlist for the Otherwise Award and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. The short story “Augusta Prima”, originally written by her in Swedish, was translated into English by her which won her a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award in the Short Form category.
Last month one of our journalists received an interesting email. A researcher had come across mention of a Guardian article, written by the journalist on a specific subject from a few years before. But the piece was proving elusive on our website and in search. Had the headline perhaps been changed since it was launched? Had it been removed intentionally from the website because of a problem we’d identified? Or had we been forced to take it down by the subject of the piece through legal means?
The reporter couldn’t remember writing the specific piece, but the headline certainly sounded like something they would have written. It was a subject they were identified with and had a record of covering. Worried that there may have been some mistake at our end, they asked colleagues to go back through our systems to track it down. Despite the detailed records we keep of all our content, and especially around deletions or legal issues, they could find no trace of its existence.
Why? Because it had never been written.
Luckily the researcher had told us that they had carried out their research using ChatGPT. In response to being asked about articles on this subject, the AI had simply made some up. Its fluency, and the vast training data it is built on, meant that the existence of the invented piece even seemed believable to the person who absolutely hadn’t written it.
Huge amounts have been written about generative AI’s tendency to manufacture facts and events. But this specific wrinkle – the invention of sources – is particularly troubling for trusted news organisations and journalists whose inclusion adds legitimacy and weight to a persuasively written fantasy. And for readers and the wider information ecosystem, it opens up whole new questions about whether citations can be trusted in any way, and could well feed conspiracy theories about the mysterious removal of articles on sensitive issues that never existed in the first place.
If this seems like an edge case, it’s important to note that ChatGPT, from a cold start in November, registered 100 million monthly users in January. TikTok, unquestionably a digital phenomenon, took nine months to hit the same level. Since that point we’ve seen Microsoft implement the same technology in Bing, putting pressure on Google to follow suit with Bard….
This reminds me of the punchline from an old Peanuts strip.
(12) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb brings us more highlights from Wednesday’s Jeopardy! episode, which had (in the Double Jeopardy round) a category called “Literary Bad Day for the Planet”.
$1600: Early in this novel Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz informs humanity Earth will be destroyed for a hyperspatial express route
Returning champion Brian Henegar responded: “What is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”
$400: Set in Melbourne, Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel “On the Beach” finds much of the world destroyed by this man-made disaster
Brian: “What is a nuclear war?”
$800: In Neal Stephenson’s “Seveneves”, this mysteriously blows up into 7 pieces that rain bolides onto Earth
Brian: “What is the moon?”
$1200: Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star” is a sun that went supernova, killing a planet, & is this celestial object from the New Testament
Teresa Browning: “What is the Star of David?” Silence from the other two.
$2000: John Wyndham’s novel about “The Day of” these meat-eating plants sees most of humanity blinded before being featured on the menu
Brian: “What are the triffids?”
(13) FUTURISM RESOURCE. John Shirley and Brock Hinzmann have launched Instant Future, a new site for essays and articles.
Instant Future offers both quick jumps and deep dives into futurist prediction. We look with open minds, informed by critical thinking, to refine the lens of prediction, sorting through new research and media reports so you don’t have to. We look for the most insightful voices in the field of prediction, to cite and to interview. We combine the insights of professional futurists and forward-thinkers of all kinds, to give you an advanced look at what’s coming.
We’re offering a brisk trip to the edge the future itself…an edge that’s always edging away.
…In crocodiles, the enamel is thick and stays hydrated because they live in the water. Even so, crocodile teeth bear the signs of cracks and damage on their outer surface. That’s not the case in theropods, she says. Theropod teeth are covered by just a thin layer of enamel, indicating that these dinosaurs probably had lips to keep the teeth protected and coated in saliva when their mouths were closed….
(15) FREE SHOWING OF SF CLASSIC. The UCLA Library Film & Television Archive will be showing a restored print of Invaders from Mars at the campus’ Billy Wilder Theater on April 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.
Invaders From Mars. U.S., 1953
Young David (Jimmy Hunt) wakes up in the middle of the night and sees a flying saucer land in his backyard. So begins the visually stunning and whimsical film that has been captivating audiences for 70 years, directed by production designer William Cameron Menzies (Gone with the Wind) and photographed by studio legend John F. Seitz (Double Indemnity). Politically and socially charged, this superbly crafted sci-fi thriller captures the paranoia of the time, complemented by a curiosity for the universe. Physically compromised shortly after its release—butchered, recut, elements scattered—Invaders from Mars has been retrieved from the brink of extinction thanks to this dazzling new restoration. Screening on the same date the movie premiered in 1953, the film will be preceded with a presentation about the restoration by former Head of Preservation at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Scott MacQueen.
DCP, color, 78 min. Director: William Cameron Menzies. Screenwriter: Richard Blake. With: Leif Erickson, Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz.
Restored by Ignite Films in collaboration with the UCLA Film & Television Archive, George Eastman Museum and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Anne Marble, David Goldfarb, Moshe Feder, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
The Board of WisCon’s parent non-profit, SF3, and the WisCon ConCom have come to a consensus that we won’t be planning to run a WisCon as usual in 2024: our leadership bench is very thin, and with the ongoing pandemic and challenging political situation in the US, folks are getting worn out. We need some time to rest and figure out how we can continue WisCon in a sustainable way. If you want to be involved paving a path to the next WisCon, join us for a planning session this Memorial Day Weekend and make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter, where we’ll be posting updates.
We’re still absolutely putting on a con this May, and we’re going to do our very best given the people and resources we have available! We know this is scary and a big change, but we believe it gives WisCon the best chance to continue in the long run. Huge thanks to everyone who has volunteered their time and donated funds to enable us to host WisCon both last year and this year!
If you haven’t registered for WisCon yet, now is a great time! Both of our amazing Guests of Honor, Martha Wells (she/her) and Rivers Solomon (fae/faer), are planning to attend in person, and so far we’ve sold about 200 in-person memberships out of our 600 person cap on in-person attendance. Register to attend WisCon online or in person and complete our Panel Interest Survey by 3/10 to tell us what kind of programming you want to attend at WisCon.
(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear on March 8 at the KGB Bar.
Scott Lynch’s debut novel The Lies of Locke Lamora was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and is now in its 36th US printing, sixteen years later. His shorter work has appeared in multiple anthologies, and he recently provided an introduction for the Tor Books reissue of John M. Ford’s The Dragon Waiting. His next works in the Gentleman Bastard milieu will be More Than Fools Fill Graves (novella) and The Thorn of Emberlain (novel). Scott lives in Massachusetts with his wife, SF/F legend Elizabeth Bear, plus four cats and a horse.
Elizabeth Bear is the Hugo, Sturgeon, Astounding, and Locus Award-winning author of more novels, articles, and short fiction than she likes to think about. Her most recent books are Machine and The Origin of Storms. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, SF/F legend Scott Lynch, plus four cats and a very small horse.
Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)
When: March 8, 2023, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
(3) SHORT FICTION SPECIALTY. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking registrations for “Writing the SFF Novelette” with instructor Alec Nevala-Lee, a Zoom class being held March 25 from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Central. Max 30 students. Cost $60.
The novelette (between 7,500 and 17,500 words long) can be a challenging but rewarding form for SFF writers. As a novel in miniature, it requires authors to think about narrative structure in ways that differ from the specific requirements of the short story, with a more complex plot that frequently falls into distinct acts. Because a novelette can be written in a shorter timeframe than a full novel, it allows writers to develop and refine skills that will be useful for longer projects, while also providing a form that is deeply rewarding in itself. This workshop will focus on idea generation, structure, and editing with an emphasis on the novelette, as well as elements of craft that can be applied to fiction of any length.
(4) DOTSON READING. Space Cowboy Books hosts an online reading and interview with J. Dianne Dotson author of The Shadow Galaxy on Tuesday March 21 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Get your copy here. Register for the reading free here.
A mesmerizing first collection, THE SHADOW GALAXY features short stories and poetry spanning magical realism, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and Appalachian tales. With stories and poetry spanning three decades of work, the author taps into journeys both fantastical and deeply personal. Categories include Shadow Shores: Tales from the Sea; Other Futures: Tales of the Galaxy and a Place Called Earth; Into the Darkest Hollow: Tales of Horror; Love and Other Moments: Traces of the Heart; Far Appalachia: Tales from the Ancient Mountains; and Resonant Thoughts: Some Poetry.
A stage adaptation of “My Neighbour Totoro,” an animated Japanese children’s movie filled with fantastical creatures, emerged on Tuesday as the front-runner for this year’s Olivier Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Tonys.
The show, which ran at the Barbican Theater in London and included numerous giant puppets, secured nine nominations for the awards — more than any other play. Those included nods for best comedy, best director for Phelim McDermott and best actress for Mei Mac as a girl who discovers a magical world near her home….
(6) COMING ATTRACTIONS. Mrs. Davis is a Peacock original that will begin streaming April 20.
“Mrs. Davis” is the world’s most powerful Artificial Intelligence. Simone is the nun devoted to destroying Her. Who ya got?
(7) CONTROVERSY OVER ATTEMPTED REVIEW OF HOGWARTS LEGACY.[Item by Dann.] Girlfriend Reviews is a YouTube channel that provides reviews based on the perspective of a girlfriend watching her boyfriend playing various games. Shelby and Matt received a free evaluation copy of Hogwarts Legacy which they used. When they attempted to review the game on their Twitch channel, activists brigaded the comments section. Additionally, they were reported to various platforms for promoting “hate”. In their video below, they state that they lost their Reddit group/subReddit. It looks as if that access has been restored since then.
The Girlfriend Reviews review of Hogwarts Legacy is really more about their experience with activists swarming their media streams with insults and false claims to get their accounts closed by the social media hosts. Shelby states that she has other concerns about Hogwarts Legacy related to anti-Semitism and that she should be free to interrogate those concerns without running afoul of other activists with other concerns.
A quote from the video:
…Nobody wants to be labeled pro-child labor for tweeting from their iPhone any more than they want to be labeled transphobic for downloading Hogwarts Legacy, especially if how they vote on Election Day says something different than how they vote on the PlayStation store. And then there’s me and Matt, two video game critics who received a review copy of Hogwarts Legacy for free. It is our job to appraise video games while providing commentary on any controversies surrounding them and if you’ve ever watched our show you should know that we don’t hold any punches when it comes to calling out injustice. This channel has always been committed to creating a safer space for women in The Gaming Community…
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1935 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
John Dickson Carr’s The Hollow Man is a locked room mystery narrated by his investigator Gideon Fell. First published in 1935 by Hamish Hamilton in the U.K., it has the much reprinted locked room lecture in which Fell addresses the reader. He sets out the various ways in which murder can be committed in what appears to be a locked room or otherwise seemingly impossible situation.
Fell was the protagonist of twenty-three rather good novels. Carr was said to have modeled him upon G. K. Chesterton who wrote the Father Brown stories as his physical appearance and personality were similar to those of Doctor Fell.
All of the Fell mysteries are intensely descriptive of Thirties London with sharply drawn characters and fascinating stories. They were considered cozy crimes novels, a description I’m not quite sure I agree with.
Among our usual suspects, Kindle and Kobo have it, but not Apple Books. Seven have been made into audiobooks but alas not The Hollow Man.
And now the rather startling Beginning to The Hollow Man…
To the murder of Professor Grimaud, and later the equally incredible crime in Cagliostro Street, many fantastic terms could be applied-with reason. Those of Dr Fell’s friends who like impossible situations will not find in his case-book any puzzle more baffling or more terrifying. Thus: two murders were committed, in such fashion that the murderer must have been not only invisible, but lighter than air. According to the evidence, this person killed his first victim and literally disappeared. Again according to the evidence, he killed his second victim in the middle of an empty street, with watchers at either end; yet not a soul saw him, and no footprint appeared in the snow.
Naturally, Superintendent Hadley never for a moment believed in goblins or wizardry. And he was quite right – unless you believe in a magic that will be explained naturally in this narrative at the proper time. But several people began to wonder whether the figure which stalked through the case might not be a hollow shell. They began to wonder whether, if you took away the cap and the black coat and the child’s false-face, you might not reveal nothing inside, like the man in a certain famous romance by Mr H. G. Wells. The figure was grisly enough anyhow.
The words ‘according to the evidence’ have been used. We must be very careful about the evidence when it is not given at first hand. And in this case the reader must be told at the outset, to avoid useless confusion, on whose evidence he can absolutely rely. That is to say, it must be assumed that somebody is telling the truth-else, there is no legitimate mystery and, in fact, no story at all.
Therefore it must be stated that Mr Stuart Mills at Professor Grimaud’s house was not lying, was not omitting or adding anything, but telling the whole business exactly as he saw it in every case. Also it must be stated that the three independent witnesses of Cagliostro Street (Messrs Short and Blackwin, and Police-constable Withers) were telling the exact truth.
Under these circumstances, one of the events which led up to the crime must be outlined more fully than is possible in retrospect. It was the key-note, the whip-lash, the challenge. And it is retold-from Dr Fell’s notes, in essential details exactly as Stuart Mills later told it to Dr Fell and Superintendent Hadley. It occurred on the night of Wednesday, February 6th, three days before the murder, in the back parlour of the Warwick Tavern in Museum Street.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 1, 1915 — Wyman Guin. Ok, occasionally doing these Birthdays results in me being puzzled and this is one of those times. In 2013, he was named as recipient for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award at ReaderCon 24. When I look him up, I find that he wrote a single novel and seven stories according to the folks at ISFDB. I’ve not read him. So, was he that good? Should I seek out his novel, The Standing Joy, and add it to my reading list? His short stories are available at the usual digital publishers, but the novel still isn’t. (Died 1989.)
Born March 1, 1923 — Andrew Faulds. He’s best remembered as Phalerus in Jason and the Argonauts in which he was in the skeleton fight scene that featured model work by Ray Harryhausen. He appeared in a number of other genre films including The Trollenberg Terror, The Flesh and the Fiends and Blood of the Vampire. He had one-offs on Danger Man and One Step Beyond. Oh, and his first acting gig was as Lysander in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. (Died 2000.)
Born March 1, 1930 — Eddie Hice. One of the original Red Shirts on Star Trek. He appeared in two episodes, first as a Red Shirt in “The Day of The Dove” and then having the same role in “Wink of an Eye”. I don’t recall either episode well enough to remember his fate in those stories. He had an extensive genre history showing in Batman twice, including once playing The Riddler, he was in Get Smart nine times, six as an actor and three as stunt double (his career as a stunt double was much longer and extensive than his acting career), The Beastmaster and voice work on the animated Lord of The Rings. (Died 2015.)
Born March 1, 1938 — Michael Kurland, 85. His The Unicorn Girl was the middle volume of the Greenwich Village trilogy by three different authors, the other two being Chester Anderson and T.A. Waters. (And yes, they’re available from the usual suspects.) Kurland has also written genre novels including Ten Little Wizards and A Study in Sorcery, set in the world of Garrett’s Lord Darcy. His other genre novels are Ten Years to Doomsday (written with Chester Anderson), Tomorrow Knight, Pluribus and Perchance.
Born March 1, 1946 — Lana Wood, 77. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both up the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little three years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality.
Born March 1, 1950 — David Pringle, 73. Pringle served as the editor of Foundation during the Eighties and helped found Interzone durning that time. The Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on Interzone. With Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, he also edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late Seventies through the mid Eighties. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. I also note that he’s not published anything listed on ISFDB in the field of late. Any idea why?
Born March 1, 1952 — Steven Barnes, 71. Co-writer with Niven of the Dream Park series. I read the first two when they came over forty years ago, not bad at all. Their Heorot series is quite good too. I’ve not read him on his own so cannot say how he is as a solo writer. For TV, he’s done work for The Outer Limits, Andromeda and Stargate SG-1. His “A Stitch In Time” episode of The Outer Limits won an Emmy Award.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
The most recent xkcd mentions fandom and fan service…just not in the traditional manner.
(11) THERE ARE THUNDERCATS IN OUR FUTURE. [Item by Dann.] A trailer has dropped for the Thundercats movie that is supposed to be released in 2023. Henry Cavill is one of those actors that I could watch warm soup on a stove and be entertained. The trailer doesn’t reveal much about the plot of the movie but the graphics are good.
Prof Ronald Mallett thinks he has cracked time travel. The secret, he says, is in twisting the fabric of space-time with a ring of rotating lasers to make a loop of time that would allow you to travel backwards. It will take a lot more explaining and experiments, but after a half century of work, the 77-year-old astrophysicist has got that down pat.
His claim is not as ridiculous as it might seem. Entire academic departments, such as the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney, are dedicated to studying the possibility of time travel. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is working on a “time-reversal machine” to detect dark matter. Of course there are still lots of physicists who believe time travel, or at least travelling to the past, is impossible, but it is not quite the sci-fi pipe dream it once was.
However, the story of how Mallett, now emeritus professor at the University of Connecticut, reached this point could have been lifted straight from a comic book. A year after losing his father, Boyd, at the age of 10, Mallett picked up a copy of HG Wells’s The Time Machine and had an epiphany: he was going to build his own time machine, travel back to 1955 and save his father’s life.
Mallett still idolises his dad, and thinks about him every day. He had been exceptionally close to Boyd, whom he describes as a handsome, erudite and funny “renaissance man” who would try to inspire curiosity in Mallett and his two brothers and sister. “When he passed away, it was like this light went out. I was in shock,” Mallett says down the line from his study in Connecticut….
…Is this where Lewis found inspiration for Narnia? “No one knows for sure, but the timeline makes sense,” Mr. Walters said. In the early 1940s, Lewis was a lay theologian, and he occasionally gave sermons in St. Mary’s, just a few feet away. “Perhaps he left one evening through the side door and walked straight out onto this,” Mr. Walters said, gesturing to what’s become known as the Narnia Door….
“Peter Pan & Wendy,” a live-action reimagining of the J.M. Barrie novel and the 1953 animated classic, will begin streaming April 28, 2023, exclusively on Disney+. Check out the teaser trailer and key art for the original movie directed by David Lowery (“The Green Knight,” “Pete’s Dragon”), and get ready to experience the timeless adventure featuring the beloved characters like never before. “Peter Pan & Wendy” introduces Wendy Darling, a young girl afraid to leave her childhood home behind, who meets Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to grow up. Alongside her brothers and a tiny fairy, Tinker Bell, she travels with Peter to the magical world of Neverland. There, she encounters an evil pirate captain, Captain Hook, and embarks on a thrilling and dangerous adventure that will change her life forever.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Dann, Rich Lynch, Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) DOES THE GENRE HAVE A CORE? Charles Payseur, whose reviews of short sff fiction now appear in a column for Locus, questions what is the “core” of the genre in the context of noting that he doesn’t cover Clarkesworld, Asimov’s or Analog. “Quick Sips 06/24/2022”.
…I do always encourage people to just find venues that you like and then otherwise read what you feel like. The field of short SFF is too big to take on comprehensively, and even trying can quickly lead to burnout and frustration (just ask…most short SFF reviewers who try). As a reviewer and now as an editor, though, does there arise some sort of obligation to try? It’s a decent question, and one that I’m not sure anyone can answer because…what would trying look like, if not doing exactly what I’m doing now? Could I fit Clarkesworld into my reading? I’m actually unsure. Probably if I could I would have. It’s not like I have suddenly opened up a bunch of free time in my life. And yet I feel that some would think this omission a failing, as some have found my lack of coverage of Asimov’s and Analog a failing. And…I don’t have much to offer to that. All of those are very large publications and take a big commitment to get through every month. Were they smaller I’d probably be more tempted. As is…
There are some arguments one could make about how to determine where the “core” should be. By what pays best, maybe? Or by what has a long tradition of award nominations. By the prestige of the editor. However the lines of the “core” are drawn, though, many will feel excluded for being on the outside of it. It’s a problem that really can only be overcome by engagement. If more people were engaged in drawing their personal cores, then what gets engaged with critically might greatly expand. If reviewers all are moved not by proximity to some sort of “required reading” but rather are pulled in the direction of their personal taste, then as long as the field of reviewers were diverse and acting in good faith, then the largest possible coverage would be achieved….
Brenda W. Clough and her husband moved from Reston, Va., to Portland, Ore., early in 2020. Brenda, a novelist, shared their experience and what they love about their new home in an email. The following was edited for length and clarity.
“My husband and I sold our big house in Reston, Va., when we retired in early 2020. What good timing we had, because both of our offices closed down later that year. We moved to his hometown, Portland, Ore., where we bought a condo downtown.
… I also wanted modern architecture. The D.C. suburbs are almost purely Colonial in style, a Mid-Atlantic thing. Now I have become a fan of poured concrete and Brutalism. My current home has plate-glass windows that go from floor to ceiling. There are no steps at all. I can’t hear my neighbors, and I don’t have screens on the windows. There aren’t many bugs downtown.
Because I am a novelist, I also needed a place that could accommodate our 10 tall bookcases full of books. I dragged the ones in the picture all the way from the East Coast to the West, the tools of my trade: a science fiction and fantasy collection that spans 70 years and historical volumes focusing on Antarctica or Victorian England. And these are only the survivors of a major cull. I weeded out half of the books and gave them to Reston’s Used Book Shop in Lake Anne, which has been enabling my book shopping for decades. It costs roughly a dollar a pound to move stuff coast to coast, a price that powerfully focuses the mind. Moving like this is the opportunity to prune all the possessions back. It has been liberating to get rid of stuff from the basement, garage and attic….
Gwendolyn Clare’s debut novel, Ink, Iron, and Glass, and its sequel, Mist, Metal, and Ash, compose a duology published in 2018 and 2019 about a young mad scientist with the ability to write new worlds into existence. Coming up in November is In the City of Time, the first book in a duology about three science prodigies on a time-traveling adventure to save the Earth. Her short stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among others, and her poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award.
Her short story “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast” was reprinted in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. She holds a BA in Ecology, a BS in Geophysics, and a PhD in Mycology — the last of those making me wish I got around to asking her to assuage my fears about a relative of mine who picks and eats wild mushrooms … but hey, that will have to be dealt with at a future meal during a different con.
We discussed the important lesson COVID taught her about her career, whether her most famous short story reads differently during these pandemic times, the identity of the science fiction writer I was startled to learn had been her high school geometry teacher, what the novels of Elizabeth Bear taught her about writing, the short story concept she decided to instead turn into what became her first published novel, how she gets into the mindset to write in the Young Adult genre, the amazing cleanliness of her first drafts, the pantsing fingerprints she sees on Stephen King, the many iterations recent writers have made to John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?,” and much more.
(4) WJW AND THE THREE R’S. The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Portolan Project conducted “An Interview with Walter Jon Williams” about the three R’s of writing craft: Raising the stakes, Reveals, and Reversals.
“Reveals keep the narrative from plodding directly from one point to another, and often sends it off in another direction entirely. This comes from theater in which there’s a curtain, you don’t know what’s behind the curtain. Action goes on, the curtain is pulled back and suddenly you’re in another place that is very different from where you were before.”
Watch or read our interview with Walter Jon Williams on the three R’s of writing craft and how they could make our stories more engaging.
Incidentally, the Portolan Writing Project: Phase 1 recently completed a successful Kickstarter that raised over $5,000. The initiative seeks “to provide a wealth of exceptional creative writing courses and resources, free to the public.”
My debut mystery, What Jonah Knew, has been described many different ways: Magical. Mystical. Paranormal. Supernatural. And though in one way the labels fit, in another way they raise questions about where the otherworldly stops and reality begins.
Some background. I was working as a journalist when I was assigned to write a magazine article on past-life regression therapy. As part of my research, I scheduled an appointment with a well-known Jungian analyst who specialized in this work and had published books on the subject. To be honest, I didn’t expect anything to happen. I knew these sessions involved hypnotic suggestion and I—an admitted control freak—believed myself to be immune to trance-induced states. What’s more, the whole business struck me as unreliable at best, fraudulent at worst. Nearly everyone I’d read about who claimed to recall a past life under hypnosis seemed to remember being someone famous—Napoleon, Nefertiti, Abraham Lincoln—never your average serf or working stiff….
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Being part of a marginalized group creates a hyperawareness of how members are represented in the media, including in fiction. To paraphrase an apocryphal quote: First they ignore you, then they scorn you, then they laugh at you, etc. When LGBTQ writers tell stories, there can be pressure to create “good representation” and to avoid portrayals that are complicated or nuanced especially if they touch on stereotypes. Writing horror is doubly tricky because we have to navigate creating characters and plots based on real fears and injustices, which can blur into inflicting pain on readers and calling up their trauma.
In my writing, I aim to include shades of dark and light, to explore the complications, inconsistencies, and dilemmas that shape every character, and to reach a queer audience with stories that expand the boundaries of queer pop culture.
How do you feel the LGBTQ community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?
I must admit I am fascinated with essays utilizing queer theory to explore works of horror that most readers would consider “very straight” classic works of horror. A number of academics have applied this to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde as well as Stoker’s Dracula. I feel that such examinations are perfectly valid as I bring my own perspective (a very gay one) to everything I read or watch or hear.
While the number of queer-themed contemporary horror fiction has grown over the years so it is very possible to fill several bookshelves with just new releases, I do wish more LGBTQ readers would familiarize themselves with older works—I’m frustrated with tweets and posts that present and celebrate queer horror as a twenty-first-century phenomenon, ignoring the great efforts of of many authors. Before there was Clive Barker and Poppy Z. Brite, horror fans could delve into the Gothic storytelling of Francis Lathom or Forrest Reid, the Southern macabre of Michael McDowell, or the vampires of Jewelle Gomez and Jeffrey McMahan. To deny their existence is wrong.
Since the dissolution of the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, in the late 1960s, film censorship has been relatively uncommon in the United States. However, several other countries still actively ban films. Though science fiction is less of a target than other genres, there are still many notable examples of sci-fi films that ran afoul of censors, and behind each case lies a deeper story. Ironically, these bans end up revealing more about the perpetrators and their politics than any sci-fi film ever could.
First on the list:
The Matrix: Reloaded
“The Matrix” sparked backlash when it was first released in Egypt. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, several Islamic publications interpreted the film as supporting Zionism. Naturally, Egypt promptly banned its follow-up, “The Matrix: Reloaded,” as well, but the reasoning behind that decision is somewhat murkier.
According to Variety, the country’s Department of Monitoring Artistic Products partially attributed the ban to “scenes of excessive violence,” which is a common red flag in Middle Eastern countries. However, the larger reason requires more digging. The committee also noted that the film “deals explicitly with issues of creation and existence,” including “the Creator and the created, the origins of creation, [and] free will and predestination.”
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1950 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy-two years ago on this day, the radio version of Robert Heinlein’s Destination Moon aired on the Dimension X radio show. It was episode twelve of the series.
Despite common belief that it based off the film version of Heinlein’s novel, it was not. It was instead based on Heinlein’s final draft of the film’s shooting script. During the broadcast on June 24, 1950, the program was interrupted by a news bulletin announcing that North Korea had declared war on South Korea, marking the beginning of the Korean War.
A shortened version of this Destination Moon radio program was adapted by Charles Palmer and was released by Capitol Records for children.
Born June 24, 1842 — Ambrose Bierce. The Devil’s Dictionary is certainly worth reading but it’s not genre. For his best genre work, I’d say it’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” which along with his “The Tail of the Sphinx” gives you range of his talents. Both iBooks and Kindle offer up everything (as near as I can tell) he’s written, much of it free. (Died circa 1914.)
Born June 24, 1925 — Fred Hoyle. Astronomer of course, but also author of a number of SF works including October the First Is Too Late which I think is among the best genre novels done. I’m also fond of Ossian’s Ride which keeps its SF elements hidden until late in the story. Though he won no genre Awards, he won a lot of other Awards, to wit the Mayhew Prize, Smith’s Prize, FRS, Kalinga Prize, RAS Gold Medal, Bruce Medal, Royal Medal, Klumpke-Roberts Award and Crafoord Prize. (Died 2001.)
Born June 24, 1937 — Charles N. Brown. Founder and editor of Locus. I’m going to stop here and turn this over to those of you who knew him far better than I did as my only connection to him is as a reader of Locus for some decades now. Locus won far too many Hugos to list under his time there. He also was nominated at Conspiracy ‘87 for a Hugo for his Science Fiction in Print: 1985 that was co-written by William G. Contento. (Died 2009.)
Born June 24, 1947 — Peter Weller, 75. Robocop, obviously, which was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, with my favorite scene being him pulling out and smashing Cain’s brain in the second film, but let’s see what else he’s done. Well, there’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film I adore. And then there’s Leviathan which I’m guessing a lot of you never heard of. Or I hope you haven’t. Well, Screamers based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety”. And Star Trek Into Darkness certainly qualifies. Hey he even showed up in Star Trek: Enterprise!
Born June 24, 1950 — Nancy Allen, 72. Officer Anne Lewis in the Robocop franchise. (I like all three films for various reasons.) Her first genre role was not in Carrie as Chris Hargensen, but in a best forgotten a film year earlier (Forced Entry) as an unnamed hitchhiker. She shows up in fan favorite The Philadelphia Experiment as Allison Hayes and I see her in Poltergeist III as Patricia Wilson-Gardner (seriously — a third film in this franchise? Oh why?). She’s in the direct to video Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return as Rachel Colby. And she was in an Outer Limits episode, “Valerie 23”, as Rachel Rose.
Born June 24, 1950 — Mercedes Lackey, 72. There’s a line on a wiki page that says she writes nearly six books a year. Very, very impressive. She’s certainly got a lot of really good series out there including the vast number that are set in the Valdemar universe. I like her Bedlam’s Bard series better. She wrote the first few in this series with Ellen Guon and the latter in the series with Rosemary Edghill. The SERRAted Edge series, Elves with race cars, is quite fun too. Larry Dixon, her husband, and Mark Shepherd were co-writers of these.
Born June 24, 1982 — Lotte Verbeek, 40. You most likely know her as Ana Jarvis, the wife of Edwin Jarvis, who befriends Carter on Agent Carter. She’s got an interesting genre history including Geillis Duncan on the Outlander series, Helena in The Last Witch Hunter, Aisha in the dystopian political thriller Division 19 film and a deliberately undefined role in the cross-world Counterpart series.
Born June 24, 1988 — Kasey Lansdale, 34. Daughter of Joe Lansdale. Publicist at Tachyon Books and a really nice person. Really she is. And yes, she’s one of us having written The Cases of Dana Roberts series, and edited two anthologies, Fresh Blood & Old Bones and Impossible Monsters. In her father’s Hap and Leonard collection Of Mice and Minestrone, she has “Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard”.
Born June 24, 1994 — Nicole Muñoz, 28. You’ll perhaps best remember her for role as Christie Tarr (née McCawley) in the Defiance series. Her first role was playing a Little Girl in Fantastic Four. Likewise she was A Kid with Braces in The Last Mimzy, and yes, Another Girl, in Hardwired. The latter was written by Michael Hurst, and has apparently nothing to with the Walter Jon Williams novel of the same name.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side suggests superheroes are not immune to the problems of aging.
Daniel P. Dern sent the link with a note: “Among other things, as in, (says DPD, based on other comments I’ve seen in past months along with some of my own experience) to un-‘deprove’ recent changes which made by Amazon.
“To be fair (still DPD opining), IMHO, both Marvel and DC have made similar ‘deprovements’ to their streaming digital comic services over the past year. They’re still great deals, money for reading wise, but the UI/UX has gotten unnecessarily more ornery.”
“We’re back! And after thirty years away it is both thrilling and terrifying,” Buckingham said. “Neil and I have had these stories in our heads since 1989 so it is amazing to finally be on the verge of sharing them with our readers.”
The two visionary comic talents will complete their unfinished Miracleman storyline “The Silver Age,” including remastered editions of the first two published issues, complete with new artwork and bonus material. The series will follow the previously announced Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB, the new collection containing Gaiman and Buckingham’s first Miracleman series. After 30 years, fans will finally see the full incredible story of Young Miracleman with more to come!
Young Miracleman — the lost member of the Miracleman Family — is back! His last memories were of a 1963 world of joy and innocence. Now, he’s been thrust into the 21st century, where his best friends have become gods and monsters. Where can a hero from a simpler time call home in this brave new world?
…Yes, there is a Jon Snow show in development. The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER story was largely correct. And I would expect no less from James Hibberd. I have dealt with a lot of reporters over the past few years, and Hibberd is one of the very best, an actual journalist who does all the things journalists are supposed to do (getting the facts right, talking to sources, respecting requests for “background only” and “off the record,” etc) that most of the clickbait sites never bother with….
But, yes, it is true. This was not an official announcement from HBO, so it seems there was another leak. I did a long interview with James Hibberd last week, for the big HOUSE OF THE DRAGON story that HOLLYWOOD REPORTER is planning. At the end of the call, he asked a few questions about the spinoffs. “Is it possible one of the spinoffs is a sequel rather than a prequel?” he asked. I answered “No comment.” Then he asked “Is it possible a member of the original cast is attached?” And again I answered “No comment.” And that was all. But plainly he found someone more forthcoming than me. Who? I don’t know, and suspect I never will. A good journalist protects his sources.
There’s not much more I can tell you, not until HBO gives me a green light….
Two rubbish bins on Davidshallsbron bridge in Sweden’s southern city of Malmö have been equipped by city authorities with loudspeakers, blaring out sexual phrases like “ooooh, right there yeah” when the lid is opened to encourage passers-by to use the bins to get rid of their rubbish.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Dead By Daylight,” Fandom Games says this multi-player vampire slaughterfest “makes you a little more misanthropic just playing it.” The narrator suggests that after fighting various licensed monsters, the next series should feature Jared Leto. “No. not Morbius, Jared Leto. That would be truly terrifying!
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Michael J. Walsh, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]
The Speculative Literature Foundation announced creation of its new convention grant a year ago, and awarded $10,000 over the course of 2021-2022 on a rolling basis to science fiction and fantasy conventions.
The SLF grant was designed to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate (through purchase of cleaning supplies, masks, renting additional rooms for better spacing, etc.).The first convention grant recipients were publicized in August. Now the organization has put out a list of all the events to which it distributed funds.
Astronomicon: Run by the Rochester Fantasy Fans non-profit, Astronomicon is looking to make a return after 8 years of not holding the con. Taking place in Rochester, New York, they claim that they will be the first science fiction con happening in New York since the pandemic began.
FIYAHCON: FIYAHCON is a virtual con dedicated to the members of the BIPOC community who’ve contributed to speculative fiction. Their first con was last year, with 1200 participants and a Hugo nomination for Best Related Work.
Loscon: This con is being run by The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), “the world’s oldest continuously active science fiction and fantasy club (founded Oct. 27, 1934)”!
Estcon: Estcon will be taking place in Estonia, and it will be put on by the Estonian Science Fiction Association, which has been active since 1995 . “It’s about literature, comic books, LARP, films, animations and having a good time during a weekend in July with friends and barbecue.”
Flights of Foundry: Flights of Foundry is a free, online con created by the non profit org Dream Foundry. First put on in 2020, it received lots of praise for being free and accessible to many who wished to experience the con scene during the pandemic.
Capricon: Capricon is a four-day science fiction convention held annually by nonprofit org Phandemonium, Inc in the Chicagoland area since 1981.
CoastCon: CoastCon is Mississippi’s longest running and largest science fiction, fantasy and gaming convention, put on by the nonprofit org CoastCon, Inc. Its ten-member volunteer board develops events and gatherings to promote reading, education, fellowship, and science fiction, fantasy and gaming in all formats across the Southern United States, for over forty-four years.
WisCon: WisCon is a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976 as the world’s first feminist speculative fiction convention, it has since grown into a robust and dedicated community of fans, artists, and scholars.
The Outer Dark Symposium: The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is a progressive speculative fiction conference that focuses on contemporary Weird fiction. The con actively seeks to create spaces that allow for the kinds of conversations and connections that chart the future of boundary-breaking speculative fiction, as well as being an inclusive, safe and welcoming place for women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color.
Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as five awards made annually to writers, including the A.C. Bose Grant. For more information, visit speculativeliterature.org.
The SLF is a 501(c)3 non-profit, entirely supported by community donations. If you’d like to be involved with our efforts, please consider joining us as a member for $2/month, at speculativeliterature.org/membership.
The Speculative Literature Foundation is partially funded by a grant from the Oak Park Area Arts Council, Village of Oak Park, Illinois Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation.
The Speculative Literature Foundation announced today that Mimi Mondal is the winner of the 2022 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature worth $1,000 for her work “Twenty-Nine Days Before Remaking the World.”
Mimi Mondal (she/they) was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2020 for her novelette “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” (Tor.com/Realm.fm). Her debut Dungeons & Dragons adventure, named “In the Mists of Manivarsha” and inspired by Bengal from the 5th-6th century CE, is forthcoming in the book Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel (Wizards of the Coast, June 2022). Her fiction can be found on Strange Horizons, Fireside Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Vol. 1 and elsewhere, and her nonfiction column “Extraordinary Alien” on Hindustan Times.
Mimi was born and raised in Kolkata, India, and currently lives in New York City, where she grows hydroponic flowers in the winter, reads (e)books on the grass at public parks in the summer, and takes late-night walks by the East River in all seasons.
“Twenty-Nine Days Before Remaking the World” was originally written in 2019 under the patronage of the Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin, which published the story in German translation by Anke Caroline Burger. The current version of the story is somewhat different from what it was three years ago, and may undergo a few other changes before it appears in Clarkesworld Magazine.
(1) MOPOP INTRODUCES NEW ONLINE COLLECTION VAULT. [Item by Frank Catalano.] Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture is finally putting part of its collection online. This is a very cool development for fans of science fiction as popular culture.
How do I know it’s only a small subset of everything MoPOP has to offer? Back in 2014, I donated more than 50 lobby cards for science fiction and fantasy films to the permanent collection, and only one has appeared in the online vault so far, for Futureworld. (WHY that crappy movie and not ones for 2001, Planet of the Apes, or others? No idea.)
My grandmother taking me to a bridge in my pushchair to watch the steam trains go by. I was 23 months old. I also remember her venting, months later, about the Beatles song “She Loves You” and how their use of the word “yeah” instead of “yes” meant we were now all living in the end times.
Who are your heroes?
As a boy I loved urbane and unflappable literary characters, such as PG Wodehouse’s Rupert Psmith, and indomitable heroes on television – Adam West’s Batman, Adam Adamant, Doctor Who, and the Monkees. When I was a teenager the Stranglers released “No More Heroes” around the same time that David Bowie sang “Heroes”. I listened to them both and thought we are meant to be our own heroes…
“Kij is a fantastic writer and educator. I’m very excited that she is on board to help shape the vision and impact of Ad Astra,” said center Director Chris McKitterick. “She has been a valued colleague for many years and someone I admire for their tenacity of thought, dedication to students, and excellence in craft.”
Johnson is a writer of speculative and experimental short fiction and novels. She has won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, as well as the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire and others.
In 2013, she gave the inaugural Tolkien Lecture at Oxford University; since then, she has been a guest of honor at conferences and conventions in Sweden, France, and the United States. Johnson has also been a professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas, starting in 2012.
“Science fiction—speculative fiction—offers a unique way of engaging with big ideas. In some ways, it is the dominant storytelling mode of our era,” Johnson said. “To continue my work exploring speculative fiction as a practitioner and educator through the efforts of the Ad Astra Center is particularly gratifying.”
These efforts will include many of the center’s public outreach projects, including conferences, classes, presentations, masterclasses, events, and workshops. Kij will be on hand to offer her expertise and experience in driving these projects.
“Right now, Kij and I are planning some wonderful things,” said McKitterick. “For fans, scholars, and writers of spec fic, there will be a lot to enjoy.”
Writers from George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards and Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine come together to talk about the challenges and delights of working in a shared universe. Panelists: Ellen Kushner, author of Swordspoint and other fantasy novels, Delia Sherman author of The Porcelain Dove, Walter Jon Williams author of the Privateers and Gentlemen series, and David D. Levine author of Arabella of Mars. Moderated by Mary Anne Mohanraj, SLF Director.
(5) LE GUIN BIO. Publishers Marketplace, behind a paywall, notes that Julie Phillips, author of the Hugo Award-winning James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, is at work on an untitled biography of Ursula K. Le Guin (first revealed in 2016) “which will intimately examine Le Guin’s intellectual and emotional development as a person and writer, her struggles with depression, her visionary politics, and her commitment to literary freedom.”
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jane Yolen, author of literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books, poems, and stories. This was such a joy of an interview that I wanted to pull out some of my favorite quotes….
(7) OPEN THE POD BAY DOOR HAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] … And for God’s sake hold onto that rope!
An article in Vanity Fair (partial paywall) tells stories of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. These include the critical scene where astronaut Dave Bowman (played by Kier Dullea) is attempting to re-enter Discovery One and has to try a hazardous jump through vacuum without a helmet.
Dullea did the stunt himself because his face would be to the camera. In fact, his face could have ended up in the camera. The stunt was performed by the expedient of having the actor drop down a vertical shaft toward a camera mounted at the bottom. To control his fall, a rope was tied to him and belayed by a crewmember who had to stop Dullea when a knot tied in the rope reached the crewman’s hands.
… By March the production had moved onto its most elaborate set of all: the Discovery’s work and living area, a centrifuge that rotated to simulate gravity. Kubrick’s production team had taken six months to build an actual centrifuge, with a diameter of 40 feet and a weight of 40 tons. Dressed for its entire 360 degrees, the set could turn forward or backward, at a top rate of three miles an hour, creaking and groaning as it got up to speed. For some scenes the actors had to be strapped in place by hidden harnesses as they spun upside down, with props such as meal trays and video pads glued or bolted in place. Depending on the shot, the set’s entire circumference might be aglow with lights, the actors locked inside and forced to turn on the camera themselves before hitting their marks. In production photos the set resembles a demented and unlikely torture device, a hybrid of jewelry tumbler and blistering heat lamp. With God knows how many megawatts surging through the entire setup, lights frequently exploded while unsecured props and overlooked pieces of equipment plummeted as they reached the top of the arc, narrowly missing actors and crew members. “A portentous spectacle, accompanied by terrifying noises and popping light bulbs,” as Clarke described it….
…Each day started with a brief meditation session where I would clear my mind and say to myself, “All that matters is the characters. Follow their lead, their needs and desires, and everything else about the narrative will unfold naturally.” As after all, in fiction, it truly is the characters who guide the story.
Let them lead and the story-arc will follow.
During my brief meditation, I would ask my characters what they were doing that day, how they were feeling, what they needed, and even if there was anywhere specific they wanted to go. Then I would kindly ask them to show up to set, so I could guide them on a wild and horrific adventure. And during this new ritual, I found something of vast importance—my authentic voice. In August 2020, I had the first draft of The Sommelier complete and for the first time in my life, the entire process felt like a wellspring of creativity and command as I purged my characters’ truth onto the page….
…“I don’t want a kid picking up a book, whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality, and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” Glenn said.
He also made it clear that his concerns specifically included books with LGBTQ themes, even if they do not describe sex. Those comments, according to legal experts, raise concerns about possible violations of the First Amendment and federal civil rights laws that protect students from discrimination based on their gender and sexuality.
“And I’m going to take it a step further with you,” he said, according to the recording. “There are two genders. There’s male, and there’s female. And I acknowledge that there are men that think they’re women. And there are women that think they’re men. And again, I don’t have any issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.”
Minutes later, after someone asked whether titles on racism were acceptable, Glenn said books on different cultures “are great.”
“Specifically, what we’re getting at, let’s call it what it is, and I’m cutting to the chase on a lot of this,” Glenn said. “It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books. That’s what the governor has said that he will prosecute people for, and that’s what we’re pulling out.”
Over the next two weeks, the school district embarked on one of the largest book removals in the country, pulling about 130 titles from library shelves for review. Nearly three-quarters of the removed books featured LGBTQ characters or themes, according to a ProPublica and Texas Tribune analysis. Others dealt with racism, sex ed, abortion and women’s rights.
Two months later, a volunteer review committee voted to permanently ban three of the books and return the others to shelves. But that may not be the end of the process….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1999 – [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-three years ago this month, Rainbow Mars was published by Tor. It is my absolutely favorite work by Larry Niven, with Ringworld being my second. It contains six stories, five previously published and the longest, “Rainbow Mars”, written for this collection, plus some other material. It is about Svetz, the cross-reality traveler who keeps encountering beings who really should not exist including those Martians.
The first story, “Get A Horse!” was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October 1969. That was followed by “Bird in the Hand” in the same magazine, October of the next year. Surprisingly the third story, “Leviathan!” was published in Playboy in August of that year.
(Yes I know Playboy did a lot of SF, it’s just that I wouldn’t have expected this story to show up there. It fits F&SF better in my opinion. Your opinion on that matter of course may differ.)
Then “There’s a Wolf in My Time Machine” was published in October of that year in the fine zine that printed the first two. Finally the last story that got printed at that time, “Death in a Cage” was published in Niven’s The Flight of the Horse collection in September of 1973 which collected these stories as well. (The Flight of the Horse also had “Flash Crowd” which I like a lot and “What Good is a Glass Dagger?” which is fantastic.)
Now we get Rainbow Mars, the novel that finishes out the work this delightfully silly work. Some of Pratchett idea’s from a conversation he had with Niven remain in the final version of Rainbow Mars, mainly the use of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Though there’s Norsemen as well…
There’s two other two short pieces, “The Reference Director Speaks”, in which Niven speaks about his fictional sources for the Mars he creates, and “Svetz’s Time Line” which is self-explanatory.
An afterword, “Svetz and the Beanstalk”, rounds out the work in which Niven talks about the fictional sources for Rainbow Mars as a whole.
The fantastic cover art, which was nominated for a Chelsey Award, is by Bob Eggleton who has won, if my counting skills are right tonight, an impressive nine Hugos, mostly for Best Professional Artist though there was one for Best Related Work for his most excellent Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 24, 1834 — William Morris. Credited with creating the modern fantasy literature genre which may or may not be true, he certainly wrote some of its earlier works, to note his epic poem The Earthly Paradise, The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End, plus his entire artistic motif fits nearly within a fantasy literature and artistic design that looks as if it was created by the Fey Themselves. All of his works can be found at the usual digital suspects, often at no cost. (Died 1896.)
Born March 24, 1874 — Harry Houdini. His literary career intersects the genre world in interesting ways. Though it’s not known which ones, many of his works were apparently written by his close friend Walter B. Gibson who as you know is the creator of The Shadow. And one famous story of his, “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”, was actually ghost written by Lovecraft! ISFDB lists another piece of genre fiction for him, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstad”. And IMDB notes that he appeared in The Master Mystery which decidedly genre with robots and death rays. (Died 1926.)
Born March 24, 1930 — Steve McQueen. Another one who died far too young. He got his big break by being the lead, Steve Andrews, in The Blob. Setting aside the two different roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents which are at least genre adjacent, The Blob is his only genre appearance in his brief life. He died of a damn heart attack. (Died 1980.)
Born March 24, 1946 — Gary K. Wolfe, 76. Monthly reviewer for Locus for twenty-seven years now and yes I enjoy his column a lot. His brief marriage to Ellen R. Weil ended with her tragic early death. They co-wrote Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. Old Earth Books has reprinted many of his reviews done between 1992 and 2006 in Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996. He’s also written several critical looks at the genre, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. The Coode Street Podcast was nominated seven times before winning a Hugo at DicCon III; his Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001 was nominated for Best Related Work at Renovation; and Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 was nominated for the same at L.A. Con IV. Very impressive indeed.
Born March 24, 1946 — Andrew I. Porter, 76. Editor, publisher, fan. He discovered fandom in 1960 and before the end of the year his first news-related column about upcoming paperbacks was appearing in James V. Taurasi’s Science Fiction Times. Porter has been nominated for the Hugo 26 times in the fanzine and semiprozine categories. His fanzine Algol: The Magazine About Science Fiction, later renamed Starship, won a Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1974, in a tie with Richard E. Geis, who was then doing The Alien Critic. (OGH accepted that Hugo on behalf of Geis. Sorry!) Porter won two more Hugos with Science Fiction Chronicle, the newzine he began publishing monthly in May 1980, and twenty years later sold to DNA Publications. He has won the Big Heart Award, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1990 Worldcon. And with John Bangsund, he was responsible for Australia hosting its first Worldcon. (OGH)
Born March 24, 1949 — Tabitha King, 73. Wife of Stephen, mother of that writing brood. I met her but once on the lot of the original Pet Sematary a very long time ago. ISFDB to my surprise lists only two novels she’s written solely by herself, Small World and Wolves at the Door, and one with Michael McDowell, Candles Burning. None of her books are with her husband which surprises me.
… We seek a well-rounded collection that includes a variety of subgenres and a diversity of authors, settings, and characters. We also look for unique takes on our theme, which means you should never self-reject if you think your book only kind-of fits!
Conversely, because readers do not select each book individually in a bundle, we avoid books that preach a strong message or contain content that many readers may find disturbing. Those books have a place! But we prefer not to roll them into our bundles….
“Roberta and Ken Williams were retired for 25 years, mostly living in Mexico, playing golf, and exploring the world on their boat. In 2020 when the Covid pandemic struck, Ken and Roberta were locked down like everyone. Ken was bored and Roberta suggested he write a book about Sierra. The process of writing the book brought back long forgotten memories resulting in Ken deciding to learn Unity and deciding to make a game,” a related FAQ explains.
They didn’t have any interesting in starting another company, and instead were “just looking for something fun to build.” Roberta had the idea to pay homage to the game that inspired Sierra and “changed our lives.”
And so here we are. Colossal Cave 3D Adventure is being built with Unity. It promises a fully immersive 3D experience with over 143 locations to explore, and will release to the Quest 2, PC, and Mac. And true to old school form, there will be a boxed version (with a USB stick in the box), though those details are still being hammered out.
You will be in a 3D maze of twisty passages! A hollow voice is unlikely to cry out, “God stalk!” 🙂 (quips Dern).
(15) INITIAL THOUGHTS. On a different subject, Daniel Dern suggested a too-long Scroll title that is too entertaining to actually discard, so here it is.
If Hans Solo and Chewie started shipping while doing the Kessel Run, we could have T-shirts that were NSFW NFT of a WTF FTL WFH? Nah, NFW.
Actors put on shows during dinner and each floor of the restaurant focuses on a different aspect of a fictional, 1930s British explorers club, from science fiction to the Gothic horror of its namesake characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Andrew Porter says, “They used to have a branch in the 50s on 6th Avenue, where I went during a Nebula or Stoker weekend, with Stephen Jones and others, A Long Time Ago…”
… This new chapter of the Eraser series trades Schwarzenegger’s John Kruger character for a different U.S. Marshal named Mason Pollard who “specializes in engineering the fake deaths of witnesses that need to leave no trace of their existence.” As you can see in the trailer, this film once again goes with the premise of the Eraser’s mission being compromised in a serious way, forcing him to go on the run with a key witness that’s in his care….
(18) SPACE-TIME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The cover on this week’s edition of Nature has an SFnal riff. The cover image shows a view of the Milky Way captured at Nambung National Park in Western Australia. To understand how the Galaxy formed requires precision age dating of the stars that it contains. In this week’s issue, Maosheng Xiang and Hans-Walter Rix of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, present an analysis of the birth dates for nearly 250,000 stars in their subgiant evolutionary phase, when they can serve as precise stellar clocks. The researchers found that the individual ages of the stars ranged from about 1.5 billion to more than 13 billion years old. Tripling the age-dating precision for such a large stellar sample allowed the researchers to infer the sequence of events that initiated our Galaxy’s formation. Using this information, Xiang and Rix were able to determine that the oldest part of our Galaxy’s disk had already begun to form about 13 billion years ago, just 800 million years after the Big Bang, and that the formation of the inner Galactic halo was completed some 2 billion years later.
(19) HE’S BACK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo team up with a Valued Senior Actor about daylight savings time as they plug The Adam Project.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Batman Returns Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George explains that in this movie Oswald Cobblepot became The Penguin because his parents threw him out the window into a river but penguins saved him, Villain Max Schreck thre Selina Kyle out of a window but cats licked her a lot so she became Catwoman. The producer explains he was personally saved by pigeons but since this si a family blog we won’t discuss what happened to him!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Frank Catalano, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
(1) DONATE FOR A CHANCE AT A TIARA. Renowned artist Sara Felix says, “I am entering people to win this week’s Tiara Tuesday if they donate to a charity.” The full announcement from her Facebook page is below. Sara explains that while her Facebook shows the event has closed, “if someone donates and lets me know I will enter them in the giveaway.” Email: [email protected]. Here is the text:
Happy tiara Tuesday y’all!
A friend asked me to make a blue and yellow tiara as support for the Ukrainian people. Seeing all the gorgeous flower crowns that are a cultural tradition I thought marrying the tiara, the blue and yellow, and the flowers would be a fitting tribute.
I would like to auction the tiara and donate the money to Happy Kids Poland who supports orphaned children and kids with disabilities, I will pick a name from the donations. (Thanks Mariya for the suggestions!) Any amount is fine!
From their donation page:
“Together, we collect money for children from orphanages who have come and will be coming to Poland. The Foundation will also try to evacuate children who spent their last nights in the basement and Kiev. The evacuation of orphans from orphanages, foster families and other forms of foster care from Ukraine to Poland…To this day, the need for evacuation and safe admission of children has been declared to us by the guardians of 900 Ukrainian orphans from Lviv, Odessa, Chrust, Kherson and other cities. The numbers keep growing.”
…A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine is a sequel to the 2020 Hugo winner A Memory Called Empire and probably the most obvious finalist in this category. It’s also a great book.
Finally, Plague Birds by Jason Sanford is another very pleasant surprise on this ballot, since it got less attention than the other novels, probably due to being published by a small press, Apex Books. I’m also really happy for Jason, who’s one of the hardest working people in SFF. Plague Birds is a great novel as well, which hits a lot of my personal buttons….
(5) FLA IN THE OINTMENT. On the Orlando in 2023 NASFiC Bid Facebook page, Adam Beaton works to turn the current criticism of Chengdu into a political asset.
So, we’ve been seeing the recent chatter about letters and petitions about Chengdu WorldCon 2023, and here are our thoughts:
There isn’t an actual mechanism to take away the Worldcon based on the actions of what that committee’s government chooses to do or even not do. We can say, though, that the power of boycotting has always been a way for many diverse voices to be seen and heard, from the Cogadh na Talún in Ireland to the Swadeshi Movement in India. Such actions can and should always be considered by any of the members of WSFS.
The NASFiC can never be the Worldcon, and no one can promise you that. What we can promise you, however, is our deep commitment to running for you the best alternative to the Worldcon we can–a convention that celebrates the diversity and inclusivity that empowers us all as fans and commits our spirit to “keep moving forward,” as Walt Disney once said.
It’s also vital for us to recognize that some in the community have strong feelings about our own government here in Florida and perhaps even the American South at large. It would be hypocritical to not point that out in a statement like this, and we see and hear all of your opinions and feelings regarding this topic.
The WSFS community is a culture of creativity. We’ve never been afraid to express ourselves through any medium, and in the end, it’s the best advice we can give you all regarding this topic.
Be like Walt. Keep moving forward.
(6) ON GOTHAMER WINGS. Abigail Nussbaum assesses “The Batman” at Asking the Wrong Questions.
…The guiding principle was clearly “The Dark Knight, but more so”. The film is structured more as a crime story than a superhero story, with a strong presence for the Gotham police department, an emphasis on organized crime and institutional corruption, and a deranged villain—Paul Dano as the Riddler—who is obsessed with exposing the seedy underbelly of the supposedly respectable Gotham leadership. This is all well-executed as far as it goes, and to his credit, Reeves improves on the original where it was most obviously lacking. The action scenes are coherent and gripping, and the visuals—though eventually the brown and grey color palette becomes quite tedious—are rich and velvety. But where Nolan’s Batman movies were, for better and worse, putting their own stamp on the material, Reeves’s just feels like it’s turning up the dial on someone else’s work….
…Batman is a superhero who looks cool next to other heroes on screen but doesn’t need them for relevancy. Batman doesn’t need a co-star; he’s the star. He doesn’t need a cavalry; he is the cavalry. This Caped crusader is the one card in DC’s hand that can beat anything Marvel can throw at them….
… But one of the key things that influenced me — and I only realised this recently — was the moment at the beginning of Return of the Jedi when Boushh the mysterious bounty hunter pulls off his mask to reveal… He was Leia all the time!
As a youngster, this seemed revolutionary. I thought it was so badass. I’d consumed quite a few 1960s and 1970s sci-fi movies and TV shows by that point, and those tended to feature scantily-clad love interests with poor survival skills, who regularly needed the hero to come and bail them out of trouble. But here, the princess got tooled-up and went to rescue her man. And she even managed to stare down Jabba the Hutt with a thermo detonator!…
… Booth is dedicated, among others, to the science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin. She’s enormously important to me. I was living in Davis, California when I’d just begun to publish fiction, and the University of Davis invited her to do some events. I got a call: this lunch was being arranged, and she’d asked that I be included. I’d been reading her since college and was completely in awe – the Booker was great, but I don’t think anything matches the heady success of learning that Ursula K Le Guin wanted to meet me! We became friends and I wrote a couple of introductions to her books. One of them I wrote before she died, the other I wrote after. In the one I wrote before, I called her a genius and she made me take the word out; she said it made her feel squirmy. I did as she asked, but kind of put it back after she died, knowing she would not want me to. She’s a truly amazing voice; there cannot be another writer who has imagined more worlds in more interesting ways….
(10) GOODWIN OBIT. Laurel Goodwin, last surviving member of the first Star Trek pilot “The Cage”, has died at the age of 79 reports Deadline.
Laurel Goodwin, an actor who made her movie debut at age 19 opposite Elvis Presley in the 1962 feature Girls! Girls! Girls! and four years later played a crew member in the original, failed Star Trek pilot starring Jeffery Hunter, died February 25. She was 79.
… it was a performance in an episode that never made it to air for which she earned an enduring cult following: She played Yeoman J.M. Colt in “The Cage,” the unaired 1965 pilot for Star Trek that starred Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike. The pilot was rejected by NBC, though some scenes were recycled for a 1966 two-part episode (“The Menagerie”) after William Shatner had replaced Hunter as the Enterprise captain. (“The Cage” subsequently was released in various home entertainment formats.)
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1968 — [Item by Cat Eldridge]McCoy: “Fantastic machine, the M-5. No off switch.”
Fifty-four years ago this evening on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Ultimate Computer“ first aired. It was the twenty-fourth episode of the second season, and one of six Trek teleplays written by D C Fontana — the other five being “Catspaw”, “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, “Journey to Babel”, “Friday’s Child” and “By Any Other Name”. “Catspaw” was originally uncredited to her but she did the final teleplay based on what Robert Bloch wrote though it is said Roddenberry did further revisions.
The story is by Laurence N. Wolfe. This is his sole writing credit. Wolfe was a mathematician, who wrote the original story out of his fascination with computers. Later on Wolfe would give his original draft to Bradbury to pass on to Roddenberry.
It was produced by John Meredyth Lucas who was involved with the series for its entire run in all aspects. He wrote three episodes (“The Changeling“, “Patterns of Force” and “Elaan of Troyius”).
“The Ultimate Computer“ was also considered particularly important in the casting of an African American, William Marshall, as the inventor of the M-5 as well as the duotronic circuit which was the basis of all Star Fleet computer systems.
Reception for this episode is excellent. Michelle Erica Green said of it that, “Star Trek has never done a better ‘bottle show’ – an episode filmed entirely on standing sets, which usually means that all of the action is located on the ship itself.”
And Jamahl Epsicokhan says “A wonderfully acerbic debate between Spock and McCoy about the role of computers is also well conceived, ending in Spock’s well-put notion to Kirk, “…but I have no desire to serve under them.” Following the M-5’s initial success, the scene where another captain calls Kirk “Captain Dunsel” is the episode’s best-played and simultaneously funny and painful moment. (In a word, ouch.)”
Note the remastered episode recreates the entire battle between the Enterprise and the other Star Fleet ships with new ships.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 8, 1921 — Alan Hale Jr. The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre, and he did show up in such films as Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl and The Fifth Musketeer. Series wise, I see he was on The Wild Wild West and Fantasy Island. He was also in the cast of The Giant Spider Invasion film which is most decidedly SF if of a pulpish variety and got the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. (Died 1990.)
Born March 8, 1922 — John Burke. He was active in Fandom in the Thirties, with work in The Fantast, The Futurian and The Satellite. He went pro by the late Thirties in a number of pulp zines. If you read nothing else by him, I recommend his late in life series The Adventures of Dr. Caspian and Bronwen, well-crafted horror. Ash-Tree Press collected much of his superb short fiction in We’ve Been Waiting for You And Other Tales of Unease. (Died 2011.)
Born March 8, 1931 — Paddi Edwards. She’s here for two very different roles. First is for being the voice of Gozer in the Ghostbusters film. Second is having the lead role of Anya on “The Dauphin” of The Next Generation. The casting agents at Disney liked her so she had the role of Flotsam & Jetsam in The Little Mermaid franchise.
Born March 8, 1950 — Peter McCauley, 72. I remember him best from the most excellent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World series where he played Professor George Challenger. He also showed as Mr. Spilett on Mysterious Island, another series shot in New Zealand and based off Jules Verne’s novel L’Île mystérieuse. Continuing the Verne riff, he was Admiral McCutcheon in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a Nineties TV version of the novel.
Born March 8, 1970 — Jed Rees, 52, Another Galaxy Quest performer, he played Teb, a Thermian. His most recent major genre outing was on Deadpool as Jared / Agent Smith / The Recruiter. He’s had one-offs in Ghost Whisperer, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, The Net, X-Files,Outer Limits,The Sentinel and Sliders.
Born March 8, 1976 — Freddie Prinze Jr., 46. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done.
(13) TOK SHOW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nilanjana Roy discusses #BookTok, a branch of TikTok where readers post book reviews.
I quickly added Rebecca Roanhorse’s Between Earth And Sky fantasy series, inspired by the civilisations of pre-Columbian America, and Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library to my book-buying list. I was soon wondering if I should be reading more #enemiestolovers romance, and found myself developing an unhealthy fascination with the melodramatic thrill of ‘crying reader’ videos. (BookTokers believe in sharing their motions, throwing books they don’t like across a room, screaming or lipsyncing to music,)…
…This brief immersion to #BookTok has inspired me to dust off my grandmother’s Mills & Boons, and allowed me to buy new romance novels without snobbish guilt. BookTokers might be much younger than my generation, but they’ve built a place where we can all be #booknerds together.
(14) HAPPIER TIMES. 2006 KYIV EUROCON.[By SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Happier times. Opening ceremony at the 2006 Eurocon, Kyiv. Jim Walker (who has reviewed a number of Eurocons for SF2 Concatenation) behind empty seat. Front bottom left: Ian Watson and Jonathan Cowie looking on.
Over twelve intense weeks at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, I learned how to analyze crime scene evidence, elicit information from informants, and detect a liar from a hundred yards away. As a brand new intelligence analyst, however, my training curriculum (regrettably) did not include reading about immortal demons, parallel universes, or reincarnation. Because that would’ve been ridiculous. A complete waste of time. Right?
Well, maybe not.
Paranormal crime thrillers, where these fantastical concepts thrive, don’t obey the neat and tidy rules of the universe. And in my experience at the Bureau, neither do the cleverest of criminals or sneakiest of enemy spies….
Fifty years ago, astronauts on one of NASA’s Apollo missions hammered a pair of tubes 14 inches long into the surface of the moon. Once the tubes were filled with rocks and soil, the astronauts — Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt — vacuum-sealed one of the tubes, while the other was put in a normal, unsealed container. Both were brought back to Earth.
Now, scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are preparing to carefully open that first tube, which has remained tightly sealed all these years since that 1972 Apollo 17 mission — the last time humans set foot on the moon….
Because the sample being opened now has been sealed, it may contain something in addition to rocks and soil: gas. The tube could contain substances known as volatiles, which evaporate at normal temperatures, such as water ice and carbon dioxide. The materials at the bottom of the tube were extremely cold at the time they were collected.
The amount of these gases in the sample is expected to be very low, so scientists are using a special device called a manifold, designed by a team at Washington University in St. Louis, to extract and collect the gas.
Another tool was developed at the European Space Agency (ESA) to pierce the sample and capture the gases as they escape. Scientists there have called that tool the “Apollo can opener.”
(17) WHEN GRAVITY FAILS. Netflix released this trailer for a new anime movie which begins streaming on April 28.
In a Tokyo where gravity has broken, a boy and a girl are drawn to each other… The story is set in Tokyo, after bubbles that broke the laws of gravity rained down upon the world. Cut off from the outside world, Tokyo has become a playground for a group of young people who have lost their families, acting as a battlefield for parkour team battles as they leap from building to building. Hibiki, a young ace known for his dangerous play style, makes a reckless move one day and plummets into the gravity-bending sea. His life is saved by Uta, a girl with mysterious powers. The pair then hear a unique sound audible only to them. Why did Uta appear before Hibiki? Their encounter leads to a revelation that will change the world.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Scream (2022),” the Screen Junkies, in a spoiler-filled episode, say that the new Scream is, like most movies these days, “A self-referential circle jerk of fan service,” and is “the best Scream since the first one, because it basically is the first one.” But the narrator is interrupted by Scream’s terifying killer Ghostface! Will the narrator survive? “You can’t kill off my friends,” he says, “because I don’t have any friends!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Will R., Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
Unseen photographs and paintings of JRR Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings fantasy books, have been released by the writer’s estate, along with draft manuscripts and letters.
Its website has been relaunched with new material, including sections on Tolkien’s calligraphy and a timeline of his life.
Audio recordings and video clips featuring both Tolkien, who died in 1973, and his son Christopher, who died in 2020, are among the new material.
The relaunch date of 26 February is significant in Tolkien lore because 26 February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their lonely and terrifying journey to Mordor.
The name TOLKIEN is a registered trademark and may not be used without permission. Unfortunately permission cannot be given for publications which use the name TOLKIEN or the Tolkien Estate’s Copyright Materials.
Are a lot of you faneds who don’t spell it T*****n hearing from lawyers?
… According to CNN, Biden further stated that the sanctions “will degrade (Russia’s) aerospace industry, including their space program.”…
In response, Rogozin said on Twitter: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?”
He added: There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?”
Rogozin also mentioned that the ISS’s location and orbit in space are controlled by “Russian Progress MS cargo ships.”
NASA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.
In a statement to Euronews, however, NASA said that it “continues working with Roscosmos and our other international partners in Canada, Europe, and Japan to maintain safe and continuous ISS operations.”
It added: “The new export control measures will continue to allow US-Russia civil space cooperation.”
…Now, with Davies’ surprise return to Doctor Who looming, everyone is searching for potential clues as to RTD’s approach to his second run – and unusually, the acclaimed screenwriter might have already given us a pretty good idea of what he’s planning thanks to a little book called The Writer’s Tale.
The Writer’s Tale is a tome of correspondence between Davies and Doctor Who Magazine contributor Benjamin Cook, taking place over the pre-production of season 4 right up to the final shots of Tennant’s last special between 2007 and 2009…
The Next Doctor
14th Doctor speculation is currently at an all-time high, with names like Michael Sheen, Michaela Coel, T’Nia Miller and Olly Alexander mentioned. However, one name that hasn’t arisen, which might just be a strong contender to bet on: Russell Tovey.
Davies makes no secret of his love for Tovey, and in a discussion over potential 11th Doctor castings, RTD states that Tovey is “amazing – I think I’d make him the eleventh Doctor”. Since then Tovey has starred in Davies’ Years & Years, and currently all of his upcoming projects are in post-production – making it the perfect time for RTD to nab Tovey if he so wishes.
Alternatively, if we look at Davies’ choice of actors in the years since The Writer’s Tale, the choice becomes clear: Lydia West. She’s clearly a favourite of RTD’s, starring in both Years & Years and It’s A Sin, and could follow in Jodie Whittaker’s footsteps as a female Doctor (and the first ‘lead’ Doctor to be played by a Black actor, though Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor technically got there first).
Altogether, based on RTD’s creative patterns and the insight of The Writer’s Tale it seems Russell Tovey or Lydia West are strong options for the 14th Doctor. However, there is a third possibility – the return of David Tennant…..
Ahimsa waves an elbow at me, keeping her hands firmly cupped. “Isaura! Look!” She shouts to be heard over my earplugs, and I panic thinking she’s woozy again. But no, she only wants to show me something. I lean across the sorting table to look, and with a smile she opens her tawny hands like a flower, just enough so I can peek inside. Two stamens wiggle in the darkness.
Not stamens. Antennae. Out come the earplugs. “It’s just a cricket, Ahimsa. One of a billion crickets under this dome, every one of them chirping like an insect possessed.”…
…The first time I seriously considered crickets as the food of the future was in late 2015 during a presentation by undergraduates. Their policy proposal outlining how the adoption of insect protein in the Los Angeles Area could help insulate the region from some of the impacts of climate-change included a tasting of a recent-to-market, paleo-friendly, cricket-based protein bar. As I sunk my teeth into the slightly gummy, peanut-buttery bite being passed around the classroom, my mind flashed between the grim food futures presented in science fiction novels and the much smaller collection of hopeful fiction portrayals of delicious future feasts. What is it about our contemporary anxieties that makes it so easy to imagine such dystopic food futures?…
…The things you loved when you were young will never be able to make you young again. The reluctant acceptance of this fact is the source of nostalgia, a disorder that afflicts every modern generation in its own special way. Members of Generation X grew up under the heavy, sanctimonious shadow of the baby boom’s long adolescence, among crates of LPs and shelves of paperbacks to remind us of what we had missed. Just as baby boomers’ rebellion against their Depression- and war-formed parents defined their styles and poses, so did our impatience with the boomers set ours in motion. But I’m not talking so much about a grand narrative of history as about what Aksel might call the useless stuff — the objects and gadgets that form the infrastructure of memory….
Every cohort has these. A CD in a plastic jewel box is not intrinsically more poetic than a vinyl LP in a cardboard sleeve. On the internet and in television shows like “PEN15,” a robust millennial nostalgia fetishizes AOL chat rooms, Dance Dance Revolution, Tamagotchis and other things that I was already too old for the first time around. Gen Z will surely have its turn before long, even if its characteristic cultural pursuits don’t seem to be manifested in physical objects….
Over the course of the year we gave out $10,000, in grants of $500 – $1000 each, to science fiction and fantasy conventions.
These grants are intended to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate. Read on for more information about how each convention will use the funding.
WisCon is a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976 as the world’s first feminist speculative fiction convention, it has since grown into a robust and dedicated community of fans, artists, and scholars. The convention is hosted by the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin, which aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.
WisCon will use the grant funds to cover the costs of equipment and equipment rental to make their con more accessible.
The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is a progressive speculative fiction conference that focuses on contemporary Weird fiction. The con actively seeks to create spaces that allow for the kinds of conversations and connections that chart the future of boundary-breaking speculative fiction, as well as being an inclusive, safe and welcoming place for women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color. To meet this mission, they consider each dimension of access (fiscal, disability, equity, etc) with care to inform every decision they make, from where programming is accessed to how it’s structured.
A key focus for their 2022 convention is making sure they have easily accessible virtual spaces, as well as safe future events during the pandemic, which includes travel, catering, and technology costs that they anticipate will increase significantly this year.
(7) GAIMAN ADAPTED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy reviews Chivalry, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Colleen Doran and based on a short story from Gaiman’s collection Smoke And Mirrors.
[Colleen Doran’s] stunning artwork turns Arthur’s knight into the kind of dashing, courtly hero who is obliged to seduce a maiden. Doran’s illustrations, drawing from a soft palette of blues, pinks, and greens that flare unto sudden glorious bursts of crimson and gold at need, are what will make Chivalry a perennial Christmas gift. Famous Authors are often at risk of having their old work briskly repackaged by clever marketing departments but Doran, a Gaiman fan since her youth has, for complicated rights reasons, waited over two decades to work on this short story…
,,,The question as to whether a single short story taken from a far more varied fantasy collection is satisfying as a standalone graphic novel remains. Certainly,Gaiman and Doran’s book feels too slight on its own to measure up to the best of Gaiman’s output. Still, Chivalry reminds you that, some days, all you need is to believe in impossible quests.
…Butler rose to prominence in the traditionally white bastion of science fiction. She was the first to write about prominent Black characters in science fiction settings, using dystopias, time travel and other tropes.
Science-fiction author Nisi Shawl recalls meeting the “Kindred” author in 1999 during a convention in Seattle when she was tasked with writing a profile on Butler. The two became acquainted and a friendship later blossomed in 2002.
“One thing that she really instilled in me was the idea that you should write about things that bring up strong emotions in you, things that you fear, things that you loathe, things that you cherish, but things that you are passionate about in one way or another,” Shawl tells USA TODAY, adding that Butler inspired her to write the short story “Momi Watu.” …
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2007 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Barbara Hambly, one of my favorite writers of horror, has won two Lord Ruthven Awards (1996 and 2007) given by the Lord Ruthven Assembly, a group of scholars specializing in vampire literature who are affiliated with the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.
Those Who Hunt in The Night, the first in the excellent John Asher series, won the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel.
I’m also very impressed of her two novelizations done for one of my favorite tv series, Beauty and the Beast and and Beauty and the Beast: Song of Orpheus as it’s hard to write material off those series that’s actually worth reading. She wrote three Trek novels and several Star Wars too but I’ve not read them.
And yes, there’s lots about her writing career I’ve not included here so feel free to tell me what you think I should have mentioned.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 26, 1908 — Tex Avery. An animator, cartoonist, director and voice actor beyond compare. Without him, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig would not have existed. Avery’s influence can be seen in Animaniacs and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Died 1980.)
Born February 26, 1918 — Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six genre novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — they were quite good. (Died 1985.)
Born February 26, 1945 — Marta Kristen, 77. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Born February 26, 1948 — Sharyn McCrumb, 74. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre-strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements. If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended. Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print and available from the usual suspects which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile.
Born February 26, 1957 — John Jude Palencar, 65. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred genre covers. In my personal collection, he’s on the covers of de lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart (one of my top ten novels of SFF), Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea. Origins: The Art of John Jude Palencar is a perfect look at his work and marvelous eye candy as well.
Born February 26, 1958 — Karen Berger, 64. She created the Vertigo imprint at DC, and served as the line’s Executive Editor for a decade. Some of my favorite works there are Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, 100 Bullets and V for Vendetta. She currently runs Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics.
Born February 26, 1965 — Liz Williams, 57. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with an actual Chinese-derived Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.
(12) 45TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE OF 2000 AD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week the 45th birthday issue of 2000 AD is out. It includes a zarjaz strip of the Command Module droids travelling through the thrillverse collecting 2000 AD characters to help Tharg compose a birthday hit single. It also features the start of a new Judge Dredd story that teases that the Judges are trying to silence someone who claims to have a secret concerning the truth of Judge Dredd!
(13) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Kevin Standlee says Westercon 74 sent out the following announcement to its members today regarding COVID-19. The short version:
…Then there is all the food. The Oreos we have covered; they have a picture of Batman’s face on them, because we all know that nothing is more delicious than wolfing down an effigy of agonising mental torment. Papa John’s is also in on the act. Its pizzas currently come in commemorative The Batman boxes (because who doesn’t love using used food receptacles as keepsakes?) and there is also a new side – black ghost chilli chicken wings – that also apparently have something to do with Batman. Meanwhile, in the US, Little Caesars has made a “calzony” (a kind of folded pizza) that’s shaped like the Batman logo, allowing customers to grab themselves a slice of gooey, unresolved trauma.
Caffè Nero has subverted the pattern a little by focusing on the Riddler. It has launched a new hot chocolate, with a mysterious new flavour. If you can guess the flavour – which is to say, if you can stomach spending your money on a product that for the purposes of suspension of disbelief was designed by a nightmarish BDSM goblin – you can win a trip to a theme park.
Again, I’m barely touching the sides here….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dream Foundry has shared the Flights of Foundry 2021 panel “Making Your Reader Hungry: Food in SFF” with Nibedita Sen and Shweta Adhyam, moderated by Cora Buhlert. (Watch the video at the link.)
For a long time, speculative fiction rarely engaged with food. Over on the science fiction side of the fence, protagonists lived on food pills or ordered “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” from the replicator, while fantasy characters subsisted on the ubiquitous stew and quaffed tankards of ale. However, this has changed in recent times and now detailed food descriptions are a lot more common in SFF. Nor are we just seeing only stereotypical western and American food anymore, but also dishes from non-western cuisines and food traditions. This panel will discuss how food is portrayed in science fiction and fantasy and how this parallels real world developments, whether it’s meal replacement products like the unfortunately named Soylent or trends like pandemic baking.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Irene Bruce, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
The Speculative Literature Foundation has chosen Katie Hale as the winner of the 2021 Gulliver Travel Grant.
Since 2004, the Gulliver Travel Grant has sought to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research. The grant awards one writer $1000 annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.
Hale’s piece, “The Guilting,”was inspired by “a trip to Antarctica at the beginning of 2020, and learning about the continent’s geopolitical situation alongside the impact of climate change.” Judges found her work intriguing and poetic.
Based in the UK, Katie Hale is an internationally recognized poet and novelist. In 2017, she was selected for Penguin Random House’s inaugural WriteNow mentoring scheme – and since then, her debut novel, My Name is Monster (Canongate, 2019), has been translated into multiple languages, and was shortlisted for the Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award. She is also the author of two poetry collections: Breaking the Surface, and Assembly Instructions, which won the Munster Chapbook Prize in 2019. She is a 2019 MacDowell Fellow, and has undertaken Writer in Residence positions internationally, including Gladstone’s Library in Wales, Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, and Passa Porta in Belgium.
In 2021, she won the Palette Poetry Prize, the Prole Laureate Prize, and a Northern Writers’ Award. Her work has been shortlisted for the Desperate Literature, Mslexia and Manchester Prizes, and has appeared in journals such as Poetry Review, Under the Radar, Joyland and The North. In 2021, she was longlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. She has also written for theatre and immersive digital performance, and has featured on national radio and television, having written commissions for organizations including the BBC, the National Trust, and the Barbican Centre. She regularly runs writing workshops online and in person, and is currently working on her second novel.
The Gulliver Travel Grant is intended to assist writers of speculative fiction in research, and can be used to cover airfare, lodging, and other travel expenses. Previous winners of the Gulliver Travel Grant include Hugo Award-winning author N.K. Jemisin, Ibi Zoboi, and Daniel José Older; last year’s winner was María Isabel Álvarez.
Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as five awards made annually to writers, including the Gulliver Travel Grant. For more information, visit the Speculative Literature Foundation website. The SLF is a 501(c)3 non-profit, entirely supported by community donations.
The Speculative Literature Foundation is partially funded by a grant from the Oak Park Area Arts Council, Village of Oak Park, Illinois Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation.