StokerCon 2023, the Horror Writers Association annual convention, will be held at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square, from June 15-18th.
(1) HWA RELEASES SOCIAL MEDIA STATS. The Horror Writers Association shared some numbers about their coverage of social media platforms.
a. Facebook page: 3713 followers
b. Facebook group: 15.8K members
c. Twitter: 22.3K followers
d. Instagram: 3713 followers
e. Slasher: 5500
f. Discord Server: 150 members – has same functions as HWA’s old message boards but is more secure.
g. TikTok: 108 followers
(2) NEW DELANY NOVEL. No indication that it’s sff that I’ve seen: “Samuel R. Delany to Publish Serial Novel in The Georgia Review”. The first installment is out.
The Georgia Review is proud to announce that our Summer 2022 issue will begin our serial publication of This Short Day of Frost and Sun, a new novel by Samuel R. Delany. The novel begins on New York’s Upper West Side sometime in the early 1990s, and, in an embedded tale, moves to a millionaire’s estate somewhere in the Midwest, a residence called “Mapless.”
Somone on Facebook asked how long the serial will run. Delany replied:
It might take them as much as three or four years to finish up the whole thing. I’m fiddling with it as I feed them chapters.
(3) NEXT YEAR’S STOKERCON. The Horror Writers Association’s StokerCon® 2023 will be in Pittsburgh, PA from June 15-18. Michael Arnzen, Benjamin Rubin, and Sara Tantlinger will co-chair the event. Register here.
(Early Bird) Launch through September 30 – $150
October 1st through October 31st – $200
November 1st through December 31st – $250
January 1st through May 15th – $300
More info will be available in the coming months.
(4) BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE YIELDS GOOD SF TV? The LA Times interviewed several showrunners to learn “How science fiction is shaping prestige TV”.
With storylines rooted in the Cold War or climate change or any number of other deep-seated earthbound concerns, no fewer than four new series (and counting) are boldly proclaiming an emerging era of prestige science fiction this season.
Why this sudden surge?
“Science fiction has always flourished when things weren’t going too well, and right now, there’s just a ton of anxiety in the world,” says David S. Goyer, showrunner for the Apple TV+ series “Foundation.”
That anxiety is reflected in these wildly variegated, star-packed offerings: Goyer’s “Foundation,” starring Jared Harris, traffics in “Dune”-style interplanetary strife set 25,000 years in the future; folksy heartland drama “Night Sky” (May 20, Prime Video) features Oscar winners Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons as a couple who periodically visit a distant planet via the teleportation device ensconced in their backyard shed; time-travel western “Outer Range” (Prime Video) stars Oscar nominee Josh Brolin as a Wyoming rancher spooked by a giant hole on the edge of his property; and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (Showtime) casts Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor as a charismatic extraterrestrial.
And while “Star Trek” in all its versions has been a relatively constant presence on screens big and small since the mid-1960s, its presence in these current times is growing ever larger, adding to the mix the recently launched “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Paramount+), which follows Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and his USS Enterprise crew on fresh adventures. And there’s still more to come as Apple TV+ will be back in the space race soon with “Constellation,” featuring Noomi Rapace and Jonathan Banks.
The Envelope spoke to these showrunners about how they’re reshaping sci-fi TV amid troubled times….
(5) STILL GUESSING. “Doctor Who casts Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney for 60th anniversary” – Radio Times declines to leap to any conclusion about the history of the character named Rose that this actor will play.
…However, Rose is also the title of Davies’ very first Doctor Who episode, where NuWho (and his own involvement in the series) all began. As he returns to take over the show again, it seems oddly appropriate for there to be another Rose in the mix – and given his heartbreaking parting from the original Rose, we might assume it’ll have some resonance for Tennant’s Doctor as well.
For now, it’s still unclear exactly what role Finney will play alongside Tate and Tennant, how many episodes (or specials) she’ll appear in, and whether she’s just a guest star or whether she’s here for the long haul. If she is a companion, Finney will be the first trans actor to hold that position in the TV series (though Rebecca Root has played a trans companion in audio dramas, and trans actors have appeared in episodes and spin-offs before)….
Similiarly: “Doctor Who casts new Rose but what’s her connection to Billie Piper?” at Radio Times.
This new version of Rose isn’t necessarily a multiversal revamp or reincarnation. She’s not necessarily Donna’s surprise daughter (though that would be cool, right?) or a herald for Billie Piper’s own comeback (though again, let’s not rule that one out).
For the last 17 years, that name has been a crucial motif in Doctor Who. And as Davies looks back for the 60th anniversary of the show, it might have just felt right to have a new Rose blooming for a new generation.
(6) ANOTHER HUGO-WINNING PRONOUN ANTAGONIST. [Item by Anne Marble.] I didn’t know Barry Longyear would use words like “woke” and complain about pronouns. Maybe Barry Longyear should be shipwrecked on another planet with an asexual pregnant alien… Then he might learn about his prejudices. Longyear’s May 17 Facebook post begins:
I usually shy away from this sort of nonsense, but after watching the news this morning, enough is enough.
Of all the cruel, pointless, wastes of time in existence, “woke” pronoun designation and enforcement is vying with CRT and the new college segregation to promote “racial harmony” for first place. Three Wisconsin middle school boys have been charged with sexual harassment for using “incorrect gender pronouns.” A student in rather crude terms, berated a boy for not using “they” and “them” when referring to that student….
(7) DEATH DID NOT RELEASE HIM. “Marvel Signs Deal to Insert CGI Stan Lee Cameos Into Future Films” – Futurism has the story.
…What happens when a brand puts words in a dead guy’s mouth? And how come Marvel reversed course? In 2021, the company said the digitally-aged cameo of Lee they inserted into “End Game” would be his last.
And emotionally, it’s worth noting that the whole thing feels a little icky. Is it really what Lee would have wanted?
“Ghoulish behavior,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Do not resurrect the man for further movie appearances as a CGI puppet, no matter what his estate is willing to sign off on.”
(8) OH, SNAP! Seems like death did not release Nick Fury, either. How did that happen? “Secret Invasion Taking Place ‘During The Blip’ Raises Obvious Question” and Bleeding Cool tries to find the answer.
…During Disney’s Upfronts on Tuesday, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige brought out Jackson to help him promote the six-episode series. And that’s when things got interesting because while folks knew Secret Invasion would take place within the MCU timeline, Feige offered a bit more clarity that… caused a bit of confusion. While still engaging in the Marvel Studios’ policy of offering as few details as possible, did say that the series would take place “during The Blip, when half of the universe was decimated by Thanos and will explore the events that happened in that period.” So if that’s the case and it takes place between Avengers: Infinity War (especially that post-credits scene) and Avengers: Endgame, then we have a huge mystery in front of us. Because as far as everyone saw during that previously mentioned post-credits scene, Fury and Cobie Smulders‘ Maria Hill (who is also set to appear in the series) found themselves on the wrong side of Thanos’ finger-snap…
(9) VANGELIS (1943-2022). The Guardian reports Vangelis, composer of Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner soundtracks died May 17. His music was also associated with space exploration.
…A fascination with outer space found voice in 2016’s Rosetta, dedicated to the space probe of the same name, and Nasa appointed his 1993 piece Mythodea (which he claimed to have written in an hour) as the official music of the Mars Odyssey mission of 2001. His final album, 2021’s Juno to Jupiter, was inspired by the Nasa probe Juno and featured recordings of its launch and the workings of the probe itself in outer space….
Sultana Raza commemorated his passing in verse: “Cosmic Rainbow – Vangelis’ music inspired this poem”.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1983 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-nine years ago, William Shatner got his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It as the 1762nd such star. He’d actually also get a star on the Walk of Fame in Canada.
It is said that hundreds of people attended Shatner’s dedication ceremony, including Leonard Nimoy. He gave a speech on the day, in which he said that Shatner was “a wonderful man and a great actor” before telling the crowd about the terrible jokes Shatner liked to play on him.
Shatner also spoke, “This is my small ticket to the stars. All of the other accolades are so ephemeral one never has anything that’s truly concrete and this is the one exception.”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 19, 1904 — Anthony Bushell. He played Colonel Breen in the Quatermass and the Pit series. He showed in Danger, Invisible Man and The Saint. (Died 1997.)
- Born May 19, 1937 — Pat Roach. He was cast in the first three Indy Jones films as a decided Bad Person though he never had a name. His first genre appearance was in A Clockwork Orange as a Milkbar bouncer but his first named role was being Hephaestus in Clash of Titans. He was of an unusually stocky nature, so he got cast as a Man Ape in Conan the Destroyer, and as Bretagne the Barbarian in Red Sonja. And of course he had such a role as Zulcki in Kull the Desttoyer. Oh, and he played a very large and mostly naked Executioner in the George MacDonald Fraser scripted The Return of The Musketeers. (Died 2004.)
- Born May 19, 1944 — Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight. Can we say he earned a Hugo at IguanaCon II? I know I’m stretching it there. (Died 2019.)
- Born May 19, 1946 — Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favorite films. He had an uncredited role as Dagoth In Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero with his American acting debut playing a Bigfoot in a two-part episode aired in 1976 on The Six Million Dollar Man titled “The Secret of Bigfoot”. He died at age forty-six of congestive heart failure in his sleep at a Paris hotel while there for his father’s funeral. (Died 1993.)
- Born May 19, 1948 — Grace Jones, 74. Singer, best known for a song about looking for a parking spot, but also acts. In addition to other genre roles, she was a companion of Conan in Conan the Destroyer and a Bond Girl in View to a Kill. (Alan Baumler)
- Born May 19, 1966 — Jodi Picoult, 56. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder). She also has a most excellent two volume YA series called the Between the Lines Universe which she wrote with Samantha van Leer. ISFDB lists her Second Glance novel as genre but I’d say it’s genre adjacent at best.
(12) WE INTERRUPT THIS SCROLL. John Scalzi has not been neglecting his Coca-Cola tasting duties – we just missed the coverage!
In February CNN Business featured another variation on the soft drink: “Coca-Cola Starlight: Coke’s new flavor is out of this world”. That week Scalzi obtained a can and shared his impression:
Then earlier this month he also wrote up another new limited edition flavor: Pixel Flavored! (How on earth – or off it – did we miss that?) “In Which I Try the Latest Coca-Cola Creations Flavor” at Whatever.
It is the Byte Limited Edition Pixel Flavored Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which you cannot get in the stores; you have to order it off the Coca-Cola Web site, where it comes in a specialty boxed package (which you can see in the background) featuring two cans, a sticker and a QR card for a video game, all for $15 or thereabouts. Apparently only 25,000 of the boxes will be made. Well, okay; I bought two boxes, just in case I fell so in love with whatever “pixel flavored” tastes like that I needed to have a couple extra to string it out.
(13) MORE LOVE, MORE DEATH, MORE ROBOTS. And unrelated to beverages, About Netflix tapped John Scalzi for comments on “’Love, Death + Robots’: The Story Behind the Anthology Series’ First-Ever Sequel”.
How did it feel to return to these characters?
For me, the thing that was great is I wrote the characters because, years ago, a friend of mine kept poking me until I contributed to her anthology, Robots Vs. Fairies. I knocked it out in about an hour. The fact that something I did to keep my friend from annoying me has gone on to have such a long life – first in the book, then the first season, then being the only episode that is explicitly a sequel – just tickles me. And it thrills me, because the longer I’m with those characters, the more I love them….
(14) BRADBURY DNA. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater will be inspired by a bard from another world when they stage “It Came from Outer Space” from June 22-24.
A new musical comedy adapted from the ‘50s cult classic sci-fi film from Universal Pictures! Amateur astronomer John Putnam encounters an alien spaceship in the desert and becomes the laughingstock of his small town—until the extraterrestrial visitors make their presence known and he must convince the gathering mob that they have come in peace. A clever musical score and creative physical humor puts a new spin on Ray Bradbury’s flying saucer tale, examining society’s fear of outsiders as it simultaneously embraces the wonder of what lies just beyond the stars. Commissioned and developed by Chicago Shakespeare with Creative Producer Rick Boynton, the production reignites an artistic partnership with creators Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, following the triumph of their Jeff Award-winning 2011 musical, Murder for Two, which went on to an acclaimed New York run.
(15) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was planted in front of the TV tonight when Jeopardy! contestants stumbled over this genre item.
Category: Lit Bits
Answer: This book introduced us to the Eloi and Morlocks.
Wrong questions: What is “The Lord of the Rings” and “What is “War of the Worlds”?
Right question: What is “The Time Machine”?
(16) TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE. The answers to Thursday’s puzzle are hidden to avoid spoilers. Though we guess most Filers will get this four-letter answer pretty easily.
(17) ORION SHALL WRITHE. “In The Original ‘Star Trek’ Pilot, It Wasn’t Easy Being Green” explains H&I. It’s not a long anecdote, and would be spoiled by running enough of an excerpt to read coherently. So just click over and be entertained.
(18) NOT A FLOOR BUT A CEILING? Dr. Matt O’Dowd analyzes possible answers to a reciprocal of the usual assumption: “What If the Galactic Habitable Zone LIMITS Intelligent Life?” at PBS Space Time.
Our solar system is a tiny bubble of habitability suspended in a vast universe that mostly wants to kill us. In fact, a good fraction of our own galaxy turns out to be utterly uninhabitable, even for sun—like stellar systems. Is this why .. most of us .. haven’t seen aliens?
(19) NOT A FAN OF FOX. Screen Rant takes notes as “Star Trek Writer Hits Back At Controversial Fox News Op-Ed”. “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe reacts to a Fox News op-ed that smeared the show as having suddenly adopted ‘woke politics.’”
(20) MEANWHILE, BACK IN FLORIDA. Reason brings you “Democratic Disney vs. Republican Disney”.
Tired of Disney not bending to their partisan sensibilities, two politicians update their theme parks.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, says that when the writer tells the producer that Wanda has gone bad because she’s been “possessed by an evil book,” the producer says, “this is why I don’t read.” But the producer discovers who to cast for cameos when the writer makes smirky faces to him.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Anne Marble, John Scalzi, Will R., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]
(1) DISCON III SOUVENIR BOOK NOW AVAILABLE IN CHINESE. The 2021 Worldcon committee has had the Souvenir Book translated into Chinese.
(2) STOKERCON PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow has shared her Flickr album of photos taken at Stokercon 2022 Denver. No captions yet, however.
(3) MORE HUGO FINALIST SAMPLERS. Alasdair Stuart has anticipated the Hugo Voter Packet by making available his selections from 2021’s The Full Lid, a Best Fanzine finalist, as either a PDF or a zip file containing PDF, mobi, and epub formats. He adds, “With many thanks to Nick Eden for the assembly!”
(4) SPACE HOSPITALITY. In “Hugo Novel 2022: The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers”, Camestros Felapton reacts to another finalist.
…The story very much fits the expectations of a Chambers novel. The stakes are galactically-low and focused on the personal. There is conflict but it is either resolved or accommodated by people finding ways to get along. If anything, the focus on this aspect is greater than in previous stories and oddly, I found it better for that. It is a novel that is far more confident in staying within this personal space that is nonetheless shaped by political and cultural events….
(5) CODE NAME: DUDLEY. James Davis Nicoll begins “Five SF Works About Fighting Crime in Space” by explaining a bit of Canadian news to Tor.com readers, what might hypothetically follow, then names some books that might provide models:
…Presumably some sort of jet-pack-wearing analog of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be along to enforce this. Its officers might well wonder “how would a space-based police force work? How does one even set fire to a barn in space?” Happily, while a space patrol may be new to Canada, SF authors have already explored how such an organization might operate, as these five vintage works prove.
Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein (1948)
While hardly the first space patrol novel, Heinlein’s coming-of-age tale may be one of the best known. Space Cadet follows the education and early career of would-be Interplanetary Patrolman Matt Dodson, from his enrollment to his first major assignment on Venus. Along the way, he is transformed from a naïve teen into a responsible young man.
While the Patrol reserves the option to simply nuke problems from orbit, it prefers more subtle approaches. The Venus affair is a case in point. In the 19th or 20th century, a dispute between natives and traders might have been resolved through violent retribution against the natives. The Patrol, with its more ethical and enlightened outlook, does its best to respect the Venusians and deliver actual justice. Hard news for the trader in question, who is very much in the wrong.…
(6) THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. Amazon dropped this trailer for season 3 of The Boys today.
(7) A QECHJEM’A’ GROWS IN BROOKLYN. “Star Trek’s Klingon Helps NYC Teachers Understand Student Struggles Learning English” reports NBC New York.
Teachers at a Brooklyn school are finding inspiration from an unlikely source: Star Trek.
They’re boldly going where no educators have gone before (probably), learning “Klingon” as a way to connect to students in their classroom — as the fictional language invented for aliens serves as a reminder of everyone’s humanity.
Teachers at Saint Mark Catholic Academy in Sheepshead Bay are hoping that changing their language will help change their way of thinking. They are learning a language that until fairly recently was all Greek to them.
“Unless you’re a real Star Trek fan, you’re not well versed in Klingon,” said principal Mark Wilson.
It’s spoken by the fictional Klingon warriors on Star Trek. But learning this foreign fictional language is helping the teachers better understand real students learning English as a second language.
Over the last few years the school has seen an influx of eastern European students — children who don’t speak English at home. That includes Denys Shorodok, who came from Ukraine and for whom English is a third language.
“The teachers were coming to me (saying) I want to help my students but I don’t know how, and I wanted to help my teachers and I didn’t know how. So That’s when I reached out to ACES,” said Wilson.
… “One of the key parts of empathy is to think about what would it feel like for you if you were in the same situation,” said Rania El-Badry, the assistant director of the program.
“They now are familiar with the psychology and emotions of students in the classroom,” says program director Erica David, “and that’s something that will influence the way that they teach going forward.”…
(8) REVOVLVERS. Dwayne Day discusses his five favorite moons in “All the myriad worlds” at The Space Review.
The other day I was having dinner with a prominent planetary scientist when I mentioned that I had a list of my five favorite moons. You do? He asked, surprised. Sure. Don’t you? He studies Venus, and Venus, like Vulcan, has no moon, so he didn’t have his own list of favorite moons but asked me to name mine. As I explained, most of my choices are not based strictly on scientific merit, but on the stories they tell—and the history of how we have discovered, studied, and explored them. Here they are, and why they’re on my list.
First up – Triton.
…Triton is one of Neptune’s moons, the largest, and it is an oddball. It circles the planet backwards, retrograde, in the opposite direction of Neptune’s other moons. This indicates that it did not form with them, and was likely captured when it wandered in from the Kuiper Belt. Triton was discovered shortly after the discovery of Neptune in 1846. Triton is cold, with estimated temperatures of 38 K (âˆ’235 °C). That, and its origins, combine to make it very interesting, and intriguing….
(9) KARL LEMBKE (1960-2022). Long-time LASFSian Karl Lembke died May 15 after a three-year battle with cancer. Karl was first elected Chair of the Board of Directors in 2002 (which I know because I took the minutes of the meeting!) and served continuously for 20 years.
He joined LASFS in September 1985. He received the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the club in 2010. His financial donations to the club were acknowledged by making him a Patron Saint of the 38th meeting of the year. At times he also served as Scribe of the Thursday night meetings.
Past LASFS President Eylat Poliner adds, “Karl was a gentle soul. He was a devoted and loved member of the LASFS. He ran hospitality for Loscon for many years. He loved to play mahjong. He liked to cook/bake and was loyal to his family, He loved science fiction. He brewed mead and beer. He loved his co-workers and boss.”
As a conrunner, Karl often worked the green room or staff lounge at Loscon, Gallifrey, and even Corflu the last time it was in LA. He chaired Loscon 32 in 2005.
Heinlein would have been impressed to know that in Karl’s lifetime he made 997 apheresis (plasma and platelet) donations to the Red Cross.
Karl identified himself with the Sad Puppies – even reblogging installments of Chris Chan’s 2017 article series this year when it was reposted by John C. Wright. His Twitter @KarlLembke actively reflected comparable political interests.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2013 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Just nine years ago, the sequel to rebooted Star Trek came out, Star Trek Into The Darkness. The twelfth film in the Trek franchise (really it was), it would be Leonard Nimoy‘s last film appearance before his death two years later. The Trek cast from the first film were back and the guest cast of Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, and Peter Weller would be here as well.
Naturally it was directed by J.J. Abrams off a script written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. Abrams and Orci created Fringe, Kurtzman wrote the first film in this series plus he directed and co-wrote The Mummy which I essayed here not long ago, and Lindelof is one of the prime movers behind Lost.
In case someone here has managed not to see it yet, I’m not going to discuss it. See NO SPOILERS.
It was costly. Best estimates say it was close to two hundred million by the time they were all done but it made nearly a half billion according to industry sources. That said, calculating in all of the expenses, Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film made a profit of only thirty million. Oh ouch.
So what did critics think of it at the time? Well most liked it though some I will admit detested it with all their hearts. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said: “Spoilers would cause me more trouble than an army of Klingons. One hint: If you rewatch any Star Trek movie before seeing this one, make it 1982’s iconic The Wrath of Khan. Kudos to Abrams for going bigger without going stupid. His set pieces, from an erupting volcano to the hell unleashed over London and Frisco Bay, are doozies. So’s the movie. It’s crazy good.”
And SF Crownest said: “Snappy dialogue, spry action sequences, vibrant special effects, solid characterizations and galaxy-induced intrigue paints ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ as one the first summertime hits of 2013 to register its big box office promise with genuine thrills at a time where aimless sequels usually spell redundancy and disaster. Alas, it is quite acceptable to feel around in the ‘Darkness’ for Abrams’s stimulating spectacle that beams up some sharp and boisterous fun-filled momentum as routinely as it does an exasperated Scotty looking to return on board the ship.”
Christopher Orr of The Atlantic has an interesting point in his review I think and so we’ll leave our review notes with it: “For all its chasing and falling and fighting–and the movie supplies a great deal of each–Star Trek Into Darkness is at its best when the Enterprise crew are merely bickering and bantering among themselves: less space opera than soap opera.”
It currently has a most excellent ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 16, 1918 — Barry Atwater. Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode where several reliable sources say he had serious trouble making Vulcan hand gesture. He did a lot of other genre work from Night Stalker where he played the vampire Janos Skorzeny to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Night Gallery, The Wild Wild West and The Outer Limits. (Died 1978.)
- Born May 16, 1937 — Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green-skinned Orion slave girl Marta on “Whom Gods Destroy” on Trek. She also one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Land of the Giants, Fantasy Island and Holmes and Yo-Yo. (Died 2015.)
- Born May 16, 1950 — Bruce Coville, 72. He’s won three Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction. He won first for his My Teacher Glows in the Dark, the second for his I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and the third for producing an audio adaptation of Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones. And NESFA also presented him with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. He was twice nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.
- Born May 16, 1953 — Pierce Brosnan, 69. Louis XIV in The Moon and the Sun adaptation of Vonda McIntyre’s novel, shot in 2014 then not released til this year. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of such films. Seriously, what do you remember about his Bond films? Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man, and he was lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonan in Bag of Bones.
- Born May 16, 1955 — Debra Winger, 67. Not I grant you an extensive genre resume but interesting one nonetheless. Her first genre appearance is in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in uncredited turn as, and I kid you, a Halloween Zombie Nurse with a poodle. Really I’m not kidding. And she appeared in three episodes of the Seventies Wonder Woman as Drusilla / Wonder Girl. If you want to stretch it, she was Rebecca in The Red Tent film.
- Born May 16, 1968 — Stephen Mangan, 54. Voiced Bigwig, Silverweed and Shale in the 1999 Watership Down series, Green Javelins in the Hyperdrive SF comedy series, and Dirk Gently in that series after the pilot. Last year, he was the lead in A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic.
- Born May 16, 1969 — David Boreanaz, 53. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy? And the perfect episode was I think “Smile Time” when Angel gets turned into a puppet. It even spawned its own rather great toy line. He’s currently Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason Hayes on SEAL Team which has migrated to Paramount + which means that the adult language barrier has been shattered so it’s quite amusing to hear a very foul mouthed Boreanaz.
- Born May 16, 1977 — Lynn Collins, 45. She was an excellent Dejah Thoris in the much underrated John Carter. Her first genre role was Assistant D.A. Jessica Manning on the very short lived horror UPN drama Hauntings, and she showed up in True Blood as Dawn Green. She survived longer on The Walking Dead as Leah Shaw. Back to films, she was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine as Kayla Silverfox, Rim of The World as Major Collins and Blood Creek as Barb.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- The Argyle Sweater shows a monster social event. Like, for monsters.
- The Far Side explains something about the nightly news.
- The Far Side also has a gag about a character that may look familiar, but isn’t named Howard.
- Off the Mark has a good kaiju joke.
(13) GEORGE PÉREZ APPRECIATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt has an appreciation for George Pérez. He notes that Perez was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and was proud of creating with Bill Mantlo the first Puerto Rican superhero, the White Tiger, whose first appearance was in The Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #19 in 1975. “George Pérez was the master of the big comic-book moment”.
… And on the page, the storytelling power of Pérez’s pencils was fueled by the undeniable joy that came through in every panelhe ever illustrated. To flip through the pages of his decades of work with Marvel and DC Comics as well as independent projects was to know this man was born to draw superheroes.
As comics changed over the years, his art style remained classic — subtle and sophisticated. He never bowed to the pressure to draw oversexualized heroines in suggestive positions or heroes who looked as if they took superhero performance enhancers, which were the norms for many publishers in the very extreme 1990s….
(14) A MASTER’S VOICE. Frank Frazetta was an Illustrators of the Future Contest judge from its inception until he passed away in 2010. The contest recently made available a short video featuring him: “Advice from a Master: Frank Frazetta”.
(15) IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT HERE. The New Yorker’s critic Richard Brody scoffs, “’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Is a Formulaic Corporate Slog”.
The first “Doctor Strange” film introduced an idiosyncratic character by means of an apt cinematic peculiarity, but its sequel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” squeezes the character into the Marvel franchise by trimming away all the whimsy. The strength of the first “Doctor Strange” is the embrace of its protagonist’s weirdness, which enshrines him among the franchise’s fictional personalities. The sequel is conservative: the weirdness is reined in, and the narrative’s symbolic loose ends are replaced by chains that bind it to other characters and story lines from the Marvel stable.….
(16) AUNTIE EM! AUNTIE EM! The Smithonian’s video series STEM in 30 tracks “The Science of the Wizard of Oz”.
How can monkeys, houses, and witches fly?
L.Frank Baum’s book “”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”” was first published in 1900 and was a hit from the get-go. While the story was first adapted for Broadway in 1903 and for film in 1910, it is probably the 1939 film starring Judy Garland that most people think of when one mentions The Wizard of Oz. In this episode we’ll explore some of the more fanciful parts of the story and dive deep into tornadoes, flying witches, hot air balloons and – what about those flying monkeys?
(17) OLD SPARKY. HuffPost Entertainment tells how “John Oliver Killed By ‘Murderous Hell-Demon’ In Surprise Show-Stopper”.
…Oliver said he’d normally bring out a mascot to show how “terrible and horrifying” utilities are.
But he didn’t have to in this case.
“They already made a murderous hell-demon almost 100 years ago,” he said, referring to an extremely creepy long-ago mascot for power companies called Reddy Kilowatt.
He regretted it almost instantly.
“I could kill you right now and there’s nothing anyone could do about it,” Reddy Kilowatt declared.
Then, he did exactly that….
(18) UPON A STAR. Tella is an animated film, directed by Zachary Conlu, about a little girl and her unusual new pet.
A lost girl gets a surprise visit from a fallen star that seems to give no notice of her…
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Eddie Izzard sketch of what happened when Darth Vader showed up in the Death Star cafeteria may have 28 million views, but it’s never appeared in File 770! (From 2008.)
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) RICK RIORDAN HURLS THUNDERBOLT. Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan today condemned the racist backlash against Leah Jeffries, the young actor who is set to play Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. “Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase”
This post is specifically for those who have a problem with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase. It’s a shame such posts need to be written, but they do. First, let me be clear I am speaking here only for myself. These thoughts are mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect or represent the opinions of any part of Disney, the TV show, the production team, or the Jeffries family.
The response to the casting of Leah has been overwhelmingly positive and joyous, as it should be. Leah brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this role, so much of Annabeth’s strength. She will be a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.
If you have a problem with this casting, however, take it up with me. You have no one else to blame. Whatever else you take from this post, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. As strong as Leah is, as much as we have discussed the potential for this kind of reaction and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now.
…You have decided that I couldn’t possibly mean what I have always said: That the true nature of the character lies in their personality. You feel I must have been coerced, brainwashed, bribed, threatened, whatever, or I as a white male author never would have chosen a Black actor for the part of this canonically white girl.
You refuse to believe me, the guy who wrote the books and created these characters, when I say that these actors are perfect for the roles because of the talent they bring and the way they used their auditions to expand, improve and electrify the lines they were given. Once you see Leah as Annabeth, she will become exactly the way you imagine Annabeth, assuming you give her that chance, but you refuse to credit that this may be true.
You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white.
Friends, that is racism.
And before you resort to the old kneejerk reaction — “I am not racist!” — let’s examine that statement too….
(2) SPECIAL COPYRIGHT OPERATION. “Bill Targeting Disney’s ‘Special Copyright Protections’ Introduced” – The Hollywood Reporter has the story.
Disney, under siege by Republican lawmakers, may immediately lose its copyright for Mickey Mouse if a law slashing the duration of ownership is passed.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Tuesday proposed legislation that limits copyright protection to 56 years. According to the Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022, the law would retroactively apply to existing copyrights.
The move follows Florida lawmakers last month stripping Disney of special privileges of self-government that allowed it to independently oversee its sprawling theme park area. The feud started when the company vowed to push for repeal of the Parental Rights in Education Law, which bars discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-3 and allows parents to sue school districts if they think there’s been a violation.
…Gov. Ron DeSantis placed Disney front and center in a culture war against what he called “woke corporations.”
Hawley, employing DeSantis’ playbook, said in a statement, “Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists.”
Hawley’s mention of “special copyright protections” refers to Disney’s major role influencing the evolution of copyright law. Mickey Mouse was first introduced with the 1928 release of Steamboat Willie. At the time, Disney was afforded 56 years of protection for the character.
But with the copyright set to expire in 1984, Disney lobbied for reform and secured the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976. This allowed ownership of works by corporations for 75 years. In 1998, Disney was again able to delay the entry of Mickey Mouse into the public domain with the adoption of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. The law extended protection of copyrights by corporations for 95 years from their original publication, pushing the expiration of Disney’s copyright for Steamboat Willie to 2024.
Several Republican lawmakers have said that they won’t support an extension of copyright protections for Disney if a bill is introduced. In a letter to chief executive Bob Chapek, Jim Banks (R-In.) denounced the company for capitulating “to far-left activists through hypocritical, woke corporate actions” with its opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Act….
Variety says the damage to Disney would be less than one might assume.
…But even if Disney’s copyright for Steamboat Willie expires, only the original design of Mickey Mouse will hit the public domain. There have been several iterations of the character over the past century….
(3) READ SFF FROM THE MARGINS. Anathema’s first issue of 2022 (#15) is live. The May 2022 issue features new fiction from Saswati Chatterjee, Choo Yi Feng, M.S. Dean, Wen-yi Lee, poetry from Rasha Abdulhadi and Folarin James, and cover art by Yu Ying. Read the entire issue free online: Anathema: Spec from the Margins Issue 15, May 2022
(4) KOJA Q&A. “’The Fringe Is Where the Fun Really Happens’: A Conversation with Kathe Koja”, conducted by Rob Latham at the LA Review of Books.
… When you moved into writing YA, I’m sure you confronted kneejerk assumptions about the field: that it had to pull its punches when dealing with contentious topics, that it couldn’t be as sophisticated as “adult” literature. Yet your YA novels are, if not as obviously transgressive as your horror fiction, quite bold and even worldly: they never pander, never assume their readers can’t grasp complex motivations or ambiguous desires. The young heroine of The Blue Mirror, for example, one of your more overtly supernatural stories, is as seduced by darkness as any of the protagonists in your horror novels. Can you say a bit about what drew you to the field? Did you find that you had to adapt your style or writing method at all? And I’m curious, have you had any response from young readers to your books?
At my first meeting with my YA editor, the completely legendary Frances Foster at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, she cautioned me about that very thing. And there were some readers who mourned that I had “stopped writing” when they learned I was writing YA! It just floors me that anyone would think writing for young(er) readers is “easier” — writing YA demanded all the same skills I’d deploy in any novel, and even more stringent narrative drive: younger readers are wonderfully unforgiving, and if you bore them, they will straight up let you know.
It was one of the things I loved most about doing school and library visits: the kids would ask pointed questions, they’d confront me if they thought they found errors in the books. And they would question and debate with each other. During one especially remarkable visit, bleachers full of middle schoolers argued, passionately, over whether a book should show the world as it ought to be rather than as it is, “so we can see it and change it.” Writing YA asked of me a heightened level of intention: because younger readers know that they don’t know everything (older readers don’t either, but they might not believe that anymore), and a new idea, a new point of reference, can change a young reader’s point of view, change the way they view the world. There’s a responsibility inherent in that, and I took it very seriously….
(5) PALISANO MEDICAL UPDATE. Horror Writers Association President John Palisano announced last night on Facebook he has contracted Covid and will miss this weekend’s StokerCon in Denver.
It’s with a very heavy heart I’m sharing I will not be attending StokerCon this year. Over the weekend, I developed strong symptoms of Covid-19. A positive PCR test confirmed my worst fears just yesterday. For the record? I’m fully vaccinated and boosted. Obviously, the virus is still a serious threat.
With my bags packed, ready to celebrate years of hard work, to say I’m devastated at not being able to see friends new and old and see this come to life is an understatement.
(6) JANELLE MONÁE. Two interviews in synch with the release of Memory Librarian.
- “Janelle Monáe explains short stories based on Dirty Computer” in the Los Angeles Times.
…The book’s five thematically linked stories, each co-written with a different author, all play off Monáe’s 2018 post-cyber-punk album “Dirty Computer,” which blended many sounds and styles — rap, pop, funk, R&B, rock and every subgenre imaginable — but felt more directly personal in its celebration of Black women and their sexuality than her earlier, more metaphorical albums.
Monáe felt the album was still resonating after she finished recording it. She made a 45-minute short film inspired by the album but even that wasn’t enough. “The themes were strong and I knew there were more stories to tell,” she explains.
“Memory Librarian” explores a futuristic world in which an organization called the New Dawn takes a Big Brother-esque approach to wiping out human desires deemed abnormal, seeking to create “their versions of what ideal citizens should be,” Monáe says. “They’ll strip people of their own selves.”
People in marginalized groups, especially in the LGBTQ community, are in danger of having their memory wiped out with a drug called Nevermind. Anyone who sympathizes with them or rebels against the system is also in danger….
- A Harpers Bazaar interviewer knows “Janelle Monáe Wants to Tell You About the Future”.
… What’s it like to share the space of Dirty Computer with collaborators?
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: community. Everything I’ve tried to do, I’ve tried to keep it rooted in community—like starting my arts collective, the Wondaland Arts Society, at the beginning of my career. It’s full of writers, it’s full of filmmakers, it’s full of actors, it’s full of musicians. And coming from a big family as well—I have like 49 first cousins—I don’t know how to not be communing. So it just felt right as I entered into the literary space to find other like-minded spirits, other dirty computers, whose work I admired and I knew admired my work. How can we make this innovative? What we’re doing is not common; what we’re doing is super special and I love it: being able to have the back and forth, to give character, to give plot point and say, OK, run wild! You read that first draft and you’re like, “OK, this is it! OK, let’s tweak this, let’s do that.” The writers feeling seen in the way they’re writing and me feeling seen in the vision I have, it’s amazing!…
(7) 2022 PULITZER PRIZES. No genre in the list of today’s 2022 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists that I could see. There were a couple winners connected with areas we’ve followed in the Scroll:
For coverage that revealed the complexities of building the James Webb Space Telescope, designed to facilitate groundbreaking astronomical and cosmological research.
For using graphic reportage and the comics medium to tell a powerful yet intimate story of the Chinese oppression of the Uyghurs, making the issue accessible to a wider public.
(8) 1957-1958 HUGOS THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Rich Horton’s research into the early Hugos revealed something that inspired a Facebook post that begins —
Wandering through the history of the Hugos in the 1950s — a chaotic time, with no well established rules, with constantly changing award categories, with a con committee, in one case, refusing to give fiction awards at all … I realized that no stories from 1957 won a Hugo. (The 1958 Hugo for short story went to “Or All the Seas With Oysters”, by Avram Davidson (Galaxy, May 1958) and the Hugo for — get this — “Novel or Novelette” went to “The Big Time”, by Fritz Leiber, a novel (albeit very short) that was serialized in Galaxy, March and April 1958. In 1957, no Hugos for fiction were given.
So, what the heck — here’s my list of proposed fiction nominees from 1957….
(9) SERGEY DYACHENKO (1945-2022). Publishers Lunch reports Russian-Ukrainian sff author Sergey Dyachenko died in California on May 5 at 77. With his wife, Marina Dyachenko, he was the co-author of more than 30 books, including Vita Nostra, The Scar, and Daughter from the Dark. A sequel to Vita Nostra will be published by Harper Voyager next year. Adam Whitehead has more at The Wertzone: “RIP Serhiy Dyachenko”.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1975 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, Monty Python and the Holy Grail premiered in the States. It would be nominated for a Hugo at MidAmericaCon (A Boy and His Dog which I’ve written up was the choice by Hugo voters.)
The film was written and performed by the Monty Python which course was Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, and was directed by Gilliam and Jones in their directorial debuts. It was done during a break between the third and fourth series of their Monty Python’s Flying Circus. So it was just another episode of that series in an extended format. Yes, it is but one skit, that of King Arthur, but it is a Python skit none-the-less. A really, really long one at ninety minutes.
(Not wanting a good, or bad idea depending on which critic you were, to go to waste, the film was the basis for the Eric Idle’s Tony Award-winning Spamalot musical thirty-five years later.)
It cost virtually nothing, somewhere around a half million dollars, to produce and made five million dollars in its first run. Not bad at all.
Speaking of critics, and we should at this point, what did they think of it?
Well Chicago-Sun Tribune gave Gene Siskel reviewing duties this time instead of Roger Ebert and he thought that “it contained about 10 very funny moments and 70 minutes of silence. Too many of the jokes took too long to set up, a trait shared by both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I guess I prefer Monty Python in chunks, in its original, television revue format.”
And Geoff Brown of The Monthly Film Bulletin says “The team’s visual buffooneries and verbal rigamaroles (some good, some bad, but mostly indifferent) are piled on top of each other with no attention to judicious timing or structure, and a form which began as a jaunty assault on the well-made revue sketch and an ingenious misuse of television’s fragmented style of presentation, threatens to become as unyielding and unfruitful as the conventions it originally attacked.”
It currently has an extraordinarily good ninety-five rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 10, 1863 — Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels, prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive, though Complete Mystery Science Stories of Cornelius Shea which includes two of these novels is available from the usual suspects. (Died 1920.)
- Born May 10, 1886 — Olaf Stapledon. Original and almost unimaginable. Last and First Men, his first novel (!) extends over two billion years – written in 1930. Who could follow that? He did, with Star Maker, over 100 billion years. Their range, imagination, and grandeur may still be unequaled. He was, however – or to his credit – depending on how you see things – an avowed atheist. Odd John, about a spiritual-intellectual superman, may be tragic, or heroic, or both. Darkness and the Light was nominated for a Retro-Hugo At WorldCon 76 as was Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord at CoNZealand. He was the first recipient of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2001 and voted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2014. (Died 1950.)
- Born May 10, 1895 — Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film, The Case of Black Cat, which is at least genre adjacent as the defendant is a feline! (Died 1940.)
- Born May 10, 1899 — Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume. He had only two genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English-language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles that he did. (Died 1987.)
- Born May 10, 1935 — Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes, sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short lived BBC series that I’ve never heard of. (Died 2019.)
- Born May 10, 1963 — Rich Moore, 59. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. It’s not really stretching the definition of genre, so I’ll note that he did the animation for the most excellent Spy vs. Spy series for MADtv. You can see the first one here.
- Born May 10, 1969 — John Scalzi, 53. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokey for my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few which I read every post of.
(12) S&S NEWS. If you sign up for the Thews You Can Use sword and sorcery newsletter, you now get a free sampler of contemporary sword and sword stories, including two by Cora Buhlert as well as fiction by Remco van Straten and Angeline B. Adams, Dariel Quioge, Chuck E. Clark, Nathaniel Webb, J.T.T. Ryder, Mario Caric and Michael Burke: Thews You Can Use.
(13) TOLKIEN AND UKRAINE. The Washington Examiner invites you to “Meet the publisher bringing JRR Tolkien and military manuals to Ukraine’s readers”.
It says something about modern Ukraine’s place in the world that an academic who takes “special pride” in publishing a Ukrainian translation of the complete works of J.R.R. Tolkien was determined also to print a series of manuals on military tactics and civilian survival in a war zone.
“This is a bestseller,” Astrolabe Publishing founder Oleh Feschowetz told the Washington Examiner during a recent interview in his office. “One hundred thousand copies.”
He was referring not to The Hobbit or The Silmarillion, but to Swiss army Maj. Hans von Dach’s mid-century guerrilla warfare manual, Total Resistance: A small war warfare manual for everyone — already in its seventh Astrolabe edition, just eight years after Feschowetz first printed the Ukrainian translation. “It was the first military book in the beginning of the war, [in] 2014.”…
“Because Russia always interpret[s] the culture just like a weapon,” he said in another conversation. “We must do the same. Culture is a weapon.”
So his team has published translations of works as ancient and various as the poems of Catullus, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. The Old English epic Beowulf and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales were unavailable in the Ukrainian language before Astrolabe brought them forth. For Feschowetz, the study of “high literature” such as the works he has published (including Tolkien’s works, which he rates as “one of the best books” of Western civilization) holds a special resonance for Ukrainian readers who continue to labor to establish strong institutions within their civil society, beyond as it is the protection of Western allies.
“In other words, [Tolkien] speaks more of a man who relies not on an institution, procedures, but on ‘his own hands and his own ship,’ as in Beowulf,” Feschowetz, more comfortable writing in English than conversing, explained in a subsequent note. “In other words, it is not so much about institutionalized freedom, so important for the West, as about gaining and defense of it, that is, [in] fact, about the basis and origins of this freedom, about the real, internal mechanism of its functioning, from which we are so often removed by well-established institutions and procedures. This is, so to speak, the inner ‘West.’”…
(14) HUGO NEWS AUF DEUTSCH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The other local paper Kreiszeitung ran a great article about me and my Hugo nomination: Only in German alas: “Science-Fiction-Preis: Cora Buhlert auf der Jagd nach der Rakete”.
… Für Cora Buhlert sind solche postapokalyptischen Geschichten zurzeit kein Thema. „Die will ich nicht schreiben. Außerdem gibt es viele Möglichkeiten, die Welt untergehen zu lassen. Ich habe selbst eine Menge ausprobiert. Fiktional“, schiebt sie noch hinterher und lacht….
(15) JEOPARDY! [Item by Rich Lynch.] Going into tonight’s episode the current Jeopardy! champion Danielle Mauer is a costumer who attends Dragon Cons.
Andrew Porter adds that one of tonight’s new Jeopardy! contestants was editor-author Mallory Kass, profiled by Publishers Weekly.
For the Daily Double, contestants, here’s your clue: she’s a senior editor at Scholastic who’s also a bestselling YA fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian author writing under the name Kass Morgan. Correct response: who is Mallory Kass? And on Tuesday, May 10 she makes her debut as a contestant on Jeopardy! on ABC at 7 p.m. ET. …The Monarchs—the second book in the Ravens duology she co-wrote with Danielle Page—came out in January.
We won’t blab about who came out on top. (There was a third contestant, too, without a genre connection anyone has mentioned.)
(16) HBCU CON. DCist reports that “Black Cosplayers Celebrate ‘Black Geek Homecoming’ At HBCU Con”. The event took place April 30.
Chauna Lawson, who cosplays by the name “CC the Geek,” thinks about the last time she felt truly embraced and acknowledged for all of who she was.
“That was when I was at Bowie State,” says Lawson, an alum of the historically Black university and founder of HBCU Con, a fandom convention held there April 30.
At her dorm in Alex Haley Residence Hall, she and her friends would play video games, watch anime like Sailor Moon and Digimon Adventure and talk about life.
“Nothing was off the table and everyone was respected in the room, regardless of where they came from,” Lawson says. “I just wanted to take that experience and recreate it and give it back to the people because it really got me through some really tough times in my life.”
Lawson, who graduated from Bowie State University in 2009, is the CEO of HBCU Con. It’s a convention where people dress up as their favorite characters from video games, anime, science fiction novels, comics or even their own creations, and celebrate both HBCUs and Black geeks.
At the three-day event, people meet other cosplayers, participate in panels on anything from life as a Black K-pop fan to the history of cosplay, participate in a gaming tournament, and attend events like a step show and fashion show put on by HBCU students….
(17) YAY? “Great News: An Autonomous Drone Swarm Can Now Chase You Through a Forest Without Crashing“ reports Core77.
If you have a deep passion for being surveilled, you probably dream of living in a city in the UK or China, festooned as they are with security cameras and face-rec. But what if you want to be spied on in a rural environment? It’s not feasible to install cameras on every tree in a forest. Autonomous tracking drones exist (thank you Skydio and Snapchat!) but they’re probably not progressing as fast as you’d like them to.
Well, help is here thanks to a team of researchers at Zhejiang University. As New Scientist reports, this research team has been working on drone swarms composed of ten tiny, fully autonomous drones that use off-the-shelf components, a camera and an algorithm to navigate through a forest without crashing into anything, or one another….
(18) CAMERON BLUE IT. The Guardian is every bit as skeptical about the Avatar 2 trailer as the critics at CinemaCon were impressed by it: “Avatar 2 trailer: prepare to be swept away by boredom”.
…Well, luckily for us the Avatar 2 trailer went online yesterday, giving us lowly non-exhibitors a chance to have our brains splattered out of the back of our skulls as well. And, upon watching it, there’s a good chance that we all had the same thought at the same time. Wait, are we watching the thing that they watched?
Because the trailer that dropped on YouTube really isn’t particularly spectacular. Some Na’vi jump across a tree. A sort of lizardy bird thing flies across some water. Some characters go for a bit of a swim. Sam Worthington’s character looks like he’s doing his best to hold in a fart. And, apart from the soundtrack – which is effectively the sound of Enya passing out from boredom and landing on a synthesiser – that’s about it….
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] John Cleese and Michal Pailn discuss the difficulties making Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life in this clip from the BBC in December 1982 that dropped yesterday.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Cat Rambo, Rich Lynch, Cathy Green, Chris Barkley, 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 Rob Thornton.]
(1) GOT THAT RIGHT. The imminent Hugo voting deadline – November 19 – caused Camestros Felapton to call forth a special GIF: “Deep from within the sarcophagi of time, a preternatural force awakens!” Remember what the Robot on the original Lost In Space said: “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!”
(2) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Christina Tucker tells Slate readers there’s a lot wrong with the new version: “Netflix Cowboy Bebop review: Another underwhelming live-action anime adaptation”.
Cowboy Bebop, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, remains one of the most iconic anime of all time. Lauded by mainstream critics and anime fans alike for its visual style, Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack, and its explorations of mortality, nihilism, and identity, Cowboy Bebop has enjoyed an excellent reputation since its 1998 premiere. And stateside, it is especially renowned for being many Americans’ first experience with anime, first airing in English on Cartoon Network in 2001 as part of the nascent Adult Swim programming block. All told, it remains one of the most beloved anime by new and old fans, who still praise it as a must-watch and a modern classic.
This legacy, however, is something of an albatross around the neck of Netflix’s 2021 live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. Netflix’s take on the show has a love-hate relationship with its source material, retaining the premise and almost every single character from the original and re-creating and referencing memorable shots and scenes, but adding original elements like comically trite dialogue, embarrassing dramatic turns, and an original and unengaging plotline that only pull focus from the core story it’s trying to adapt. The result only creates unfavorable comparisons with the original and is likely to turn off both fans of the original and newcomers. If this Cowboy Bebop accomplishes anything, it’s to highlight the quality of the original series, justifying many anime fans’ belief that trying to translate anime series from one medium to another never works out….
(3) VISIT WITH THE EATON COLLECTION. Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA will have an online “Spotlight on the Eaton Science Fiction Library” on Tuesday, November 30 at 4:00 p.m. Pacific.
Join us for an in depth interview about the behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest public collections of science fiction. Sandy Enriquez and Andrew Lippert of the Eaton library will share how you can utilize the collection and some of the many treasures contained within. Learn about SF from an academic perspective.
Register for free here at Eventbrite
(4) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Also available is Space Cowboy Books’ podcast “Simultaneous Times” featuring readings of “Tips for Living Out-of-Synch for the Frequent Time Traveler” by A.C. Wise (read by Jean-Paul Garnier) and “Premium Resurrection Pack $99” by by Renan Bernardo (read by Jean-Paul Garnier & Zara Kand).
(5) NEW STOKERCON GOH. StokerCon2022 has added Jennifer McMahon as its sixth GOH. The convention takes place in Denver from May 12-15 next year.
Jennifer McMahon is the author of The Children on the Hill and ten other novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Promise Not to Tell and The Winter People. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella. Visit her at Jennifer-McMahon.com or connect with her on Instagram @JenniferMcMahonWrites and Facebook @JenniferMcMahonBooks.com.
She joins a GoH lineup that includes John Edward Lawson, Sheree Renée Thomas, Ernest Roscoe Dickerson A.S.C., Gemma Files, and Brian Keene.
(6) FOR YOUR STOCKING. Is this the first time that the Library of America has offered this kind of a deal on a book edited by an SFWA Grandmaster? American Christmas Stories:
Library of America and Connie Willis present 150 years of diverse, ingenious, and uniquely American Christmas stories
Ghost stories and crime stories, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, humor, and horror; tales of Christmas morning, trees, gifts, wise men, and family dinners everywhere from New York to Texas to outer space: this anthology is an epiphany, revealing the ways Christmas has evolved over time—and how the spirit of the holiday has remained the same. Ranging from the advent of the American tradition of holiday storytelling in the wake of the Civil War to today, this is the best and widest-ranging anthology of American Christmas stories ever assembled.
… The Oscar nominee then elaborated, describing his experience at SDCC as more than a little constricting. “I didn’t know the rules of Comic-Con,” he said. “I got in at the hotel at 2 in the morning… and I’m like, ‘Maybe tomorrow I’ll go get a coffee.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh no, you can’t get a coffee.’ I’m like, ‘Well, maybe I’ll get a coffee in the hotel.’ They’re like, ‘No, you can’t get a coffee in the hotel.'”
Driver went on to explain that he was given the option of wearing either an Iron Man mask or a Darth Vader mask in order to leave. “‘If you want to go outside,’ they’re like, ‘Put a mask on so nobody knows who you are.'”
This doesn’t happen only to Star Wars actors. John King Tarpinian remembers being one of Ray Bradbury’s five escorts at Comic-Con and “that was a pain traversing the hall.” And if they wanted to give a Darth Vader mask to Adam Driver, what mask would they have had Ray put on?
(8) ROLL ON IN. Billy Todd touts Wheel of Time fandom in “Welcome to the Family: An Open Letter to Old and New Fans of The Wheel of Time” at Tor.com.
…Worrying about new fans—and any talk of gatekeeping around the series—is historically out of character for the Wheel of Time fandom. I’ve participated in many sci-fi and fantasy franchise fandoms in the past 40 years, and I remain amazed at how open, inclusive, and downright familial the Wheel of Time fanbase is. I have been an active fan since cramming pages between junior high classes in 1992. After I finished my friend’s copy of The Shadow Rising, our friend group fell into a hole of geeking out over these books. I never made it out of that hole. Shortly thereafter, in the days before the World Wide Web, I discovered the Robert Jordan USENET newsgroup and its population of Darkfriends who modeled rational, good-natured, respectful debate online.
It took many years before I realized this was not how the rest of the Internet was going to turn out….
(9) PRE-PREDATOR ON THE WAY. “Predator Prequel Starring Indigenous Actress Amber Midthunder Reveals Title Prey , Summer 2022 Release Date” reports Yahoo!
Entitled Prey, the upcoming prequel will premiere on Hulu in summer 2022, it was announced Friday during Disney+ Day.
“Set in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, the action-thriller follows Naru, the skilled warrior who fiercely protects her tribe against a highly evolved alien predator,” a plot summary from Disney reads.
Midthunder, 24, celebrated the news on Instagram, sharing an image of herself in the film with the franchise’s extraterrestrial villain lurking behind her in the shadows.
(10) DREAM TIME. By the way, Melanie Stormm is very inventive but she didn’t have to make up the two tweets she included in today’s “Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fourteenth”:
(11) NEW BUCKELL COLLECTION ANNOUNCED. Apex Publications has acquired a new short story collection from Tobias S. Buckell titled Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and Other Stories. It’s scheduled to come out next year. Apex has also acquired the trade paperback rights to his four-book Xenowealth series (Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, Sly Mongoose, and The Apocalypse Ocean).
Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling and World Fantasy Award-winning author born in the Caribbean. He grew up in Grenada and spent time in the British and US Virgin Islands, which influence much of his work.
Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and Other Stories is Tobias S. Buckell’s seventh short fiction collection and is comprised of 15 stories, several of which are original to the collection or were previously only available through his Patreon.
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1968 — Fifty-three years ago on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Tholian Web” first aired on this date. It was written by Judy Burns, her first professional script, and Chet Richards, his only such script. She would later write scripts for myriad genre series including Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man and Fantasy Island.
Primary guest cast was Sean Morgan as Lt. O’Neil, Barbara Babcock as the voice of Loskene who was the Tholian commander and Paul Baxley as Captain of the Defiant. It is considered by critics and fans alike to be one of the best Trek episodes done though it did not get a Hugo nomination unlike a lot of other Trek episodes.
In a two-part episode of Enterprise, “In a Mirror, Darkly”, it is told that the Defiant has reappeared in the Mirror Universe of Archer’s time, where it is salvaged by the Tholians and later stolen from them by the Terran Empire.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 15, 1877 — William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.) Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft. It is said that his horror writing influenced many later writers such as China Miéville, Tim Lebbon and Greg Bear but I cannot find a definitive source for that claim. (Died 1918.)
- Born November 15, 1929 — Ed Asner. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Shelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & Legends, Batman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite some while. What’s your favorite genre role by him? (Died 2021.)
- Born November 15, 1933 — Theodore Roszak. Winner of the Tiptree Award for The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and the rather excellent Flicker which is well worth reading. Flicker is available at the usual suspects, though no other fiction by him other than his Japanese folktales is. Odd. (Died 2011.)
- Born November 15, 1939 — Yaphet Kotto. If we count the Bond films as genre, and I do, his first genre performance was as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big in Live and Let Die. Later performances included Parker in Alien, William Laughlin in The Running Man, Doc in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Ressler in The Puppet Masters adapted from Heinlein’s 1951 novel of the same name and a horrid film that it is, and he played a character named Captain Jack Clayton on SeaQuest DSV. (Died 2021.)
- Born November 15, 1942 — Ruth Berman, 79. She’s a writer of mostly speculative poetry. In 2003, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening “, and in 2016 for “Time Travel Vocabulary Problems”. She was the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of”. She’s also written one YA fantasy novel, Bradamant’s quest. In 1973, she was a finalist for the first Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She edited the Dunkiton Press genre zine for a decade or so. She was nominated for Best Fan Writer Hugo at Baycon (1968). Impressive indeed.
- Born November 15, 1972 — Jonny Lee Miller, 49. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor story, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that twenty-three years ago he appeared in a shoddy technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated eighteen months months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000, Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone.
(14) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro has a hilarious Zoom panel.
(15) A SHOW RECAP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on Bob’s Burgers, a group of teenagers came in to the burger joint and asked to play a game which was clearly Dungeons and Dragons but which was called something else. The dungeon master got Bob’s attention because she ordered the Burger of the Day when everyone else was getting plain old cheeseburgers. The dungeon master made a move where she turned everyone into goblins and they played goblin characters instead of their regular characters. Bob saw that she was being creative and explained to her his creative outlet was creating the Burger of the Day every day. The gamers played very late but ordered big breakfasts before they left so Bob was tired but happy after meeting gamers.
(16) FERAL STATES. “Neal Stephenson Predicted the Metaverse. His New Book Imagines Something Even Stranger.” Laura Miller reviews Termination Shock at Slate.
A maestro of the dramatic opener, Neal Stephenson began his 2015 novel, Seveneves, with the line “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” That’s a hard act to follow, but he gives it the old college try in his latest, Termination Shock, heralded, when first announced, as the celebrated science-fiction author “finally” taking on the subject of global warning. Termination Shock begins with the queen of the Netherlands piloting a business jet in an emergency landing at the Waco airport, a maneuver that goes terribly wrong when her plane’s landing gear collides with a herd of feral hogs that, chased by an oversize alligator, swarm the airstrip.
Like a lot of plot twists in Termination Shock, this scenario is not as outlandish as it seems. Frederika Mathilde Louisa Saskia, a fictional character, is apparently the daughter of the real-life King Willem-Alexander, who in 2017 revealed that he had been moonlighting as a commercial airline pilot for more than 20 years. (He said that he found it a “relaxing” hobby.) Saskia, as the queen—who is one of the novel’s central characters—calls herself, has inherited a taste for this pastime from her father. As for the feral swine, they are partly an allusion to a viral tweet defending private ownership of assault rifles in the event that “30-50 feral hogs” run into a yard in which small children are playing. The internet found this argument hilarious, but feral hogs are in fact a dangerous and destructive invasive species in many parts of the U.S. The novel’s second central character, Rufus, a former farmer turned professional hog exterminator, knows this all too well….
(17) GAS SITUATION. CNBC also has an interview with the author: “Neal Stephenson on ‘Termination Shock,’ geoengineering, metaverse”.
How did you get interested in this subject and become fascinated with it enough to base a novel on it?
I’ve been hearing about the idea for a number of years. I’m interested in history. I’m interested in science and the physics of the planet. And so, the idea that a volcano could erupt somewhere and affect temperatures all over the planet is a natural, fascinating topic for me. Over the last decade or two, it’s become increasingly clear that the CO2 content in the atmosphere is a huge problem, and that it’s getting worse fast, and we’re not really being very effective. Despite efforts by a number of people to draw attention to the problem and and push for emissions reductions, that number is still climbing rather rapidly and probably will keep climbing for a while. So rolling that together in the brain of the science fiction novelist, that looks like the basis for a story that that’s got that technical angle to it, but that’s also got a strong geopolitical and personal storytelling basis.
(18) OUT OF THE WILDERNESS AT LAST. The Guardian’s David Smith profiles the new Vonnegut documentary: “Unstuck in Time: the Kurt Vonnegut documentary 40 years in the making”.
… In 1994 Weide took the author back to his childhood home in Indianapolis. Vonnegut is seen touching imprints of his child-size hand, and the hands of of other family members, that remain in concrete poured in the 1920s. The project received a boost when Vonnegut’s brother, Bernie, handed over some 16mm home movies that had been gathering dust in a closet.
But the memories also carried pain. In 1958 his beloved sister, Alice, died of breast cancer days after her husband drowned in a train accident. Weide reflects: “He would say how much he missed his her and how ‘she taught me what was funny; she imbued my sense of humour; we thought the same things were funny’.
“A lot of what they thought was funny had to do with a lot of good comedy, which is a tragedy befalling other people. If they saw somebody fall down on the street in Indianapolis, they’d laugh about it for years sometimes. He talked a lot about his sister in very fond terms. He never was that vocal specifically about how her death affected him but his daughter says in the film all these years later, ‘I don’t think he can even now get his arms around it’.”…
(19) FAMILIAR PLAYBOOK. Yes, John Scalzi has seen these plays run before on social media.
(20) DOO DOO OVER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Time Travel Stories Where Things Get Rather Messy”.
Who among us has not dreamed over getting a do-over? Perhaps this time around, one could defer the two-hour discourse on the history of stirrups until the second date, leave the nearly-red hot frying pan to cool a little longer, or at the very least, take steps to ensure that some major historical debacle never happens, changing the course of human events for the good of all. Armed with knowledge of how things played out in the original timeline, surely one could shape a more perfect history!
That’s in reality. In fiction, of course, there’s no plot if everything goes as expected. Thus, these five works about altering timelines that did not, alas, work out entirely to plan….
(21) GENRE ADJACENT NEWS. “’It’s like hunting aliens’: inside the town besieged by armadillos” – the Guardian says North Carolina is not welcoming their new overlords.
….“It’s like hunting aliens,” said Bullard, who is more used to hunting feral pigs. “We know nothing about them. We can’t seem to kill them easily. They show up unexpectedly. And their numbers have just exploded.”
…An emerging theory for this advance of armadillos is the climate crisis. The animals dislike freezing conditions and global heating is making winters milder, turning northern parts of the US more armadillo-friendly. Around Sapphire [NC], the armadillos happily root around in the dirt with their snouts and claws, feasting on insects at elevations above 4,000ft. “We just don’t have those really cold winters any more and I’m sure that’s helped them,” said Olfenbuttel.
The armadillos have made it into Missouri, Iowa and even the southern reaches of Nebraska. Barriers such as rivers aren’t a problem – the animals can hold their breath for up to six minutes and walk on the riverbed, or even inflate their intestines to float across to the other side….
(22) ROBOTS UNDERGROUND. In the Washington Post Magazine, David Montgomery reports on the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, held in a giant cavern in Louisville, in which robots competed to see how many “humans” (mannequins with sensors) they could rescue in a simulated underground disaster.
…In this scenario, meticulously constructed for the finale of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge — an elaborate three-year, $82 million Pentagon robotics competition — something bad has happened to humans underground, and the robots are coming to the rescue. Spot and its robo-teammates and competitors — dozens of walking, driving and flying robots — were on a scavenger hunt for “survivors” (mannequins giving off body heat and vocal sounds) and objects such as cellphones, backpacks and helmets. The robots scored points by sending the objects’ locations back to their human teammates. Finding all the objects meant exploring a trap-filled labyrinth with a half-mile of passages, featuring three made-from-scratch environments: urban, with a subway, storeroom and offices; a tunnel (a mock mine shaft); and a cave, a claustrophobic mash-up of spelunking’s greatest hits….
(23) WEIRD WEST. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Here’s an art collage piece by Lauren Fox (@LaurenFoxWrites):
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This video isn’t short but it’s good. It does a thorough breakdown of both the Starship Troopers book and the film, plots and themes both, and toward the end compares them to Haldeman’s Forever War. “If Veterans Ruled the World”.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Steven French, Jennifer Hawthorne, Ben Bird Person, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
The Horror Writers Association will accept applications for its Scholarship From Hell from October 1, 2021 through January 1, 2022. Click for a full list of rules.
The Scholarship From Hell puts the recipient right into the intensive, hands-on workshop environment of Horror University, which takes place during HWA’s annual StokerCon®.
The winner of the scholarship will receive domestic coach airfare (contiguous 48 states) to and from StokerCon 2022 in Denver, CO, May 12-15, a 4 night stay at the convention, free registration to StokerCon®, and as many Horror University workshops as they’d like to attend
Membership in HWA or StokerCon® is not necessary in order to apply.
The Scholarship From Hell is made possible by monies received by HWA from the Authors Coalition.
Visit this link to read more and to submit an application.
Click here to see the workshops offered by Horror University during StokerCon™ 2021 this past May.
(1) SPEAK FRIEND. Guy Gavriel Kay will deliver the 2021 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature, an annual lecture on fantasy literature held at Pembroke College, Oxford. The digital lecture will take place on Tuesday, May 11th, 6 PM BST (1 PM ET).
Kay has published fourteen novels which have been translated into 30 languages and have appeared on bestseller lists around the world. He is also the author of the poetry collection, Beyond This Dark House. His most recent work is A Brightness Long Ago.
Before beginning his career as a novelist, Kay was retained by the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien to assist in the editorial construction of The Silmarillion, the first and best-known of the posthumously published Tolkien works. Called to the Bar of Ontario in 1980, he has also been principal writer and associate producer for the CBC’s award-winning crime-drama series, The Scales of Justice.
(2) WHEN EVERYONE GOES BLISSFULLY ASTRAY. Yahoo! reports two LOTR actors are starting a podcast in May. “’The Lord Of The Rings’: Dominic Monaghan & Billy Boyd Launch Podcast”.
The pair, who played hobbits Merry and Pippin in The Lord of the Rings, are launching a podcast about the hit film franchise.
The duo are launching The Friendship Onion with podcast producer Kast Media and the series will premiere on May 18. They will bring banter, stories and comedy to the podcasting space, each week digging into the latest in pop culture, put fans’ Lord of the Rings knowledge to the test, reveal exclusive stories from filming and maybe even welcome surprise drop-ins from famous faces.
Monaghan, who is also known for his role on Lost, played Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandybuck in the films, close friend to Frodo Baggins, and along with Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took, played by Boyd members of the Fellowship of the Ring.
The Friendship Onion will be available weekly on Spotify and across all podcast platforms, including video simulcast episodes on YouTube….
(3) STRANGE AT ECBATAN THE QUIZ. Rich Horton has challenged readers with a 17-question quiz: “Quiz: Images of Aliens in SF”.
Following is a quiz I wrote for an online trivia league I am in. The subject matter is aliens in SF books, movies, TV, or comic books. Each question is accompanied by an image of the alien. The quiz ran over the weekend. Some of you may know the winner, David Goldfarb, who was prominent on the great Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written back in its glory days. Tom Galloway, another prominent fan known for his trivia knowledge, also did very well.
I need to thank Steven Silver and John O’Neill (as well as several members of the trivia league) for helping me improve the question set, including some excellent proposed questions.
I will post the answers in a day or two. If you want, you can post your guesses in the comments.
1. There are many aliens depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This alien race may be hard to depict definitively, as they are shapeshifters, but they do have a typical form. They appeared in Captain Marvel in the MCU, and in the comics as early as an issue of Fantastic Four in 1962. What is the name of this alien race? Click here
2. What’s the common name for this cowardly species featured in many of Larry Niven’s Known Space stories? The name is perhaps ironic as this species doesn’t seem to have the appendages normally used by the human performers known by that name. Click here …
(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Rebecca Roanhorse and Angela Slatter in a YouTube livestream on May 19 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Link to come – check back at the KGB site.
Rebecca Roanhorse is NYTimes bestseller and an award-winning speculative fiction writer. Her latest novel, Black Sun, was recently nominated for the Nebula award for Best Novel of 2020. She has short fiction published in Apex Magazine, Uncanny, and multiple anthologies. She has also written for Star Wars, Marvel , and for TV. She lives in Northern New Mexico.
Angela Slatter in a multi-award-winning Australian writer of dark fantasy and horror. Her latest publications are the gothic fairytale novel All the Murmuring Bones from Titan, and the mosaic collection The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales from Tartarus Press. She has a PhD, teaches for the Australian Writers’ Centre, and is trying to finish a new gothic novel, Morwood.
(5) REHABILITATING “SOLO”. Mike Ryan, the senior pop culture reporter at UpRoxx makes a credible argument in favour of everyone’s most forgotten Star Wars movie: Solo. “You Know, ‘Solo’ Is Actually A Lot Of Fun”.
if you haven’t watched Solo in a while, away from all the drama and (maybe for you) bad lighting, give it another shot. It might just be the most pure fun Star Wars movie we’ve gotten from this era so far.
(6) SUE BURKE Q&A. Nerds of a Feather’s Andrea Johnson supplies the questions for “Interview: Sue Burke, Author of Immunity Index”.
NOAF: Secret sisters, a geneticist studying illegal technology, and a deadly virus. What inspired this story, and how did all those elements get into the story?
SB: The initial central question of the story is identity. What makes us the same and different? Some of it is genetics, and some of it is life experiences. What makes those differences stand out? People show their true nature in a disaster. Because the story is about genetics, I brought more genetics and more disaster into it. The elements posed a lot of questions, and the story resulted from one set of answers.
(7) ASIMOV’S SF EDITOR HAS THE ANSWERS. The Odyssey Writing Workshop shares “Odyssey Podcast #138: Sheila Williams”.
Award-winning editor Sheila Williams was a guest lecturer at the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from a question and answer session, she answers questions about her editorial process, story endings, and what differentiates a good story from a story that she buys.
Sheila is the multiple Hugo Award-winning editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. She is also the winner of the 2017 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community.
(8) COSINE COMING BACK. COSine, the Colorado Springs, CO convention, will be held in person once more next January 14-16.
Last June we had to make the difficult decision to postpone COSine 2021. After that we put ourselves into suspended animation until such time as a vaccine for COVID was available and an appropriate supply of lemon-soaked paper doilies could be acquired.
Well, the doilies arrived, and most of us have aching arms, so it looks like we are on track for COSine 2022:
Guest of Honor: C.J. Cherryh
Artist Guest of Honor: Jane Fancher
Special Guests: Connie Willis & Courtney Willis
Our lowest rates for registration are available through the end of October, but if you want to sign up now, you can beat the Halloween rush! At the very least, please make sure that we are on your calendar.
(9) HORROR UNIVERSITY. It’s time to enroll for the virtual Horror University, part of the Horror Writers Association’s StokerCon coming May 20-23. See the session schedule at the link. One session, $55/members, $65/nonmembers; multiple-session discounts available.
Horror University is one of the most successful and popular aspects of StokerCon™. We are proud to present another great series of workshops for StokerCon™ 2021. Horror University furthers the Horror Writers Association’s focus on education with a curriculum run by some of the best and brightest in the horror field.
HORROR UNIVERSITY offers a series of 90 minute to two-hour workshops. They are not your typical workshop experiences—they are hands-on, intensive classes that include interactive activities and exercises. Workshop registration will open April 12. Workshops for this year’s Horror University will be virtual, part of Horror University Online. All HU courses will be run through the Horror University School on Teachable.com and require separate registration and additional payment as has been the practice at all past StokerCons.
All workshops are in Eastern Standard Time. Click the workshop titles in the table below for more detailed information about each workshop and instructor. Pricing is provided below.
(10) THEY DIDN’T ABANDON HOPE. Sarah Gailey’s new “Building Beyond” writing prompt is “See You In Hell”. Amanda Hamilton and Brendan Williams-Childs play along.
Hell is an urban metropolis in the middle of a sprawling agrarian underworld. You’ve just moved to a farm about six hours upstate from Hell.
Amanda Hamilton (she/her) is a chaos scheduler for her spouse, daughter and myriad pets. She’s also a fundraising professional, primarily focused on corporations and foundations these days. When not managing various and sundry to-do lists, she likes to read and nap and read some more.
Gailey: What is it about Hell that made you decide to move?
They always said that if you could make it in Hell, you could make it anywhere. Well, after a decade of (barely) making it, I was done….
(11) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. Salon did a Q&A with Andy Weir and put one of his quotes in a headline: “’I don’t want to be L. Ron Hubbard’: Andy Weir on writing escapism & new book ‘Project Hail Mary’”.
…At its core, science fiction as a genre reflects the fears, anxieties, politics, events, and mood of the present. Thus, the immediate question: What type of science fiction (and speculative fiction more broadly) will the Age of Trump and its aftermath produce?
In an effort to answer that question I recently spoke with author Andy Weir whose first best-sellling novel “The Martian” was adapted by Ridley Scott into a 2015 blockbuster feature film of the same title starring Matt Damon. Weir’s other work includes the novel “Artemis” and the beloved short story “The Egg.”…
What type of science fiction writing and other works – and creative arts more generally – do you think are going to come out of this moment?
My book “Project Hail Mary” was finished before the pandemic. The story involves an alien microbe. It may seem that “Project Hail Mary” is somehow-pandemic related, but that is just pure coincidence. Moreover, this microbe does not infect humans; it infects stars in outer space.
I honestly do not know what is going to come out of this.
I do not think that there is going to be quite as much disease-related science fiction, as one might suspect. We are all going through this pandemic, and when it’s over, it will be a common experience. It is not really something we are going to enjoy reminiscing about. We will never forget the experience with the pandemic, but it is not something we are going to want to mentally relive.
My instinct is that the pandemic experience is not going to impact science fiction very much because science fiction and fantasy are on a basic level about escapism. Spend some time in the world of this book so that you can enjoy yourself away from the world that you live in. The last thing anybody wants is for a book to drag them back to the world that they live in.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born May 5, 1856 – W.W. Denslow. First illustrator of Baum’s Wizard of Oz; also illustrated Baum’s Father Goose and Dot and Tot of Merryland. Designed the sets and costumes for the 1902 stage version of Wizard. Illustrated Denslow’s Mother Goose, Denslow’s “Night Before Christmas”, 18-vol. Denslow’s Picture Books. Comic strip Denslow’s Scarecrow and Tin Man. Newspaper reporter, editorial cartoonist, poster artist. Designed books and bookplates. (Died 1915) [JH]
- Born May 5, 1907 – Pat Frank. Wrote what I’ve long thought the best-made atomic-bomb-and-after novel Alas, Babylon; two more novels, one shorter story for us; two other novels; memoir; journalism. Office of War Information overseas correspondent during World War II. American Heritage Foundation Award. (Died 1964) [JH]
- Born May 5, 1942 — Lee Killough, 79. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? (CE)
- Born May 5, 1943 — Michael Palin, 78. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing the BFA winning Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing the BSFA winning Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. And it might be at least genre adjacent, so I’m going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. (CE)
- Born May 5, 1944 – Dave Locke. Active fanziner, e.g. Awry; electronic zine Time and Again. Loved by some, annoyed others (can this surprise you?), or both. Among his best, What do birds of a feather do? Dave Locke. More here. (Died 2012) [JH]
- Born May 5, 1944 — John Rhys-Davies, 77. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too.(CE)
- Born May 5, 1957 — Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, before going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (CE)
- Born May 5, 1958 – Ingrid Nielson, age 63. Drawings pp. 15, 21, Program Book for ConFederation the 44th Worldcon; see here (PDF). Photo of her & Andre Norton here. Moderated panel “ASFA [Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America] and the Chesleys” at Chicon VI the 58th Worldcon. 2010 Chesley “for work on the Chesley Awards for 20+ years”. [JH]
- Born May 5, 1961 — Janet Brennan Croft, 60. She’s published any number of works on library science, but she is concentrated her research on Tolkien, winning the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies for War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language, and Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien. I’d also like to single her work, Baptism of Fire: The Birth of the Modern British Fantastic in World War I. (CE)
- Born May 5, 1963 – Michelle West, age 58. Twoscore novels, fifty shorter stories (some as M. Sagara); book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; interviewed in Challenging Destiny, Lightspeed, Northern Dreamers. Within a 4-page single-space rejection letter from Lester Del Rey was a curmudgeonly line of encouragement, and off she went. [JH]
- Born May 5, 1975 – Tanya Tagaq, age 46. Canadian Inuk throat singer. Six albums; also collaborator with Kronos Quartet, Buffy Sainte-Marie (here is TT’s cover). Polaris Prize, Canadian Folk Music Award, two Junos, Western Canadian Music Award. Novel for us Split Tooth won Indigenous Voices Award. [JH]
- Born May 5, 1979 — Catherynne M. Valente, 42. My favorite work by her? Oh, by far that’d be the two volumes of The Orphan’s Tales which I go back to fairly often — stunning writing. If you’ve not read them yet, here’s her telling “The Tea Maid And The Tailor” as excerpted from In the Night Garden which is from Green Man. (CE)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Non Sequitur lives up to its name while depicting the first land-walking creatures.
(14) GETTING THE WORD OUT WITH PICTURES. [Item by Rose Embolism.] Jem Yoshioka, creator of the science fiction romance webcomic Circuits and Veins was tapped for the New Zealand Covid information campaign! The poster is seriously lovely!
(15) IF IT DIDN’T HAPPEN, IT’S NOT A SPOILER, RIGHT? In Brian Hiatt’s article for Rolling Stone, “Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange Almost Appeared in ‘WandaVision’”, Kevin Feige explains that Dr. Strange was going to appear in the last episode of WandaVision but he thought having Dr. Strange show up “would take it away from Wanda” so Benedict Cumberbatch was written out of the script. This is a preview of a big oral history of WandaVision in Rolling Stone that has yet to appear.
The story of WandaVision‘s main character, Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen), is set to continue in 2022’s Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but the two projects were almost linked much more directly. As Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige reveals in Rolling Stone‘s upcoming, extensive oral history of WandaVision, Marvel struck a deal with Benedict Cumberbatch to appear in the final episode of the show as Dr. Strange. But late in the process, they wrote him out.
“Some people might say, ‘Oh, it would’ve been so cool to see Dr. Strange,’” says Feige. “But it would have taken away from Wanda, which is what we didn’t want to do. We didn’t want the end of the show to be commoditized to go to the next movie — here’s the white guy, ‘Let me show you how power works.’” That meant the Dr. Strange movie, too, had to be rewritten. In the end, Feige says, Marvel’s process is “a wonderful combination of very dedicated coordination, and chaos. Chaos magic.”…
(16) WHAT A CROCK. BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime brings you “Cookie Jar by Stephen King” in three parts.
After his mother’s untimely death, Rhett inherits a cookie jar which proves to have some very unusual properties…
‘I had sort of a peculiar childhood, because my mother was peculiar. Not outright crazy, but very, very peculiar. Stories were her way of staying sane… A way to cover that hole in reality the way you might cover a well with boards so no one would fall in. But her stories stopped working for her. Because the thing she was afraid of was in the house with her all along.’
From ‘The Bazaar of Bad Dreams’, Stephen King’s story adapted in three parts. Read by Colin Stinton.
(17) OUT TO LAUNCH. SpaceX posted about yesterday’s launch:
On Tuesday, May 4 at 3:01 p.m. EDT, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the ninth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and six Starlink missions.
(18) BOARDING PARTY. Insider lets you “Watch Royal Marines Explore Storming a Ship at Sea With Jet Packs”.
The British military been exploring the possibility of boarding ships at sea with futuristic jet packs that let wearers fly over the water like Iron Man.
The “Jet Suit” was made by Gravity Industries. The company released a video Sunday that showed its operators wearing jet packs and working with the Royal Marines to launch from rigid inflatable boats and land aboard the Royal Navy Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol ship HMS Tamar.
(19) BAD LOOK? Politico has details as “Pentagon watchdog opens new probe into military’s handling of UFOs”.
…But one former top Pentagon intelligence official who has lobbied Congress to take more action on such sightings said on Tuesday that the IG’s involvement is a positive step to compel the military to take the issue more seriously.
“You are looking at how is it possible that restricted military airspace is being routinely violated for months and years and nobody is informed in the Defense Department or the Congress and there is a complete system breakdown,” said Christopher Mellon, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence. “That’s a valid thing for them to investigate.”
(20) RIDING ALONG. Sean D. serves up a “Microreview [Book]: Black Water Sister by Zen Cho” at Nerds of a Feather.
Our bodies can often seem possessed. To most people, that possession occurs in a metaphorical sense. Dogma possesses us, as it’s hammered down from society until it sticks, nailed down to our core whether we like it or not. And that dogma can deviate from what we want deep down, like how family values dictate who we can and can’t love. Black Water Sister explores that possession, and with clever skill, it combines it with literal possession. A family spirit inhabits the protagonist, while they’re dealing with family interference from all sides. It’s a compelling story that’s quality is heightened by witty dialogue, a pacey second half, and vibrant characters….
(21) NOT SF BUT WEIRD. The Canadian census has a soundtrack: “2021 Census soundtrack”.
As Canada’s statistical portrait, the census is a reflection of who we are and what makes us Canadian. Listen to our Spotify and YouTube playlists while you complete your 2021 Census questionnaire to experience the different facets of Canadian culture through the sounds of our celebrated musical talent. If these songs aren’t already among your favourite tracks, we hope that you have the opportunity to discover something new as you fill out your questionnaire online in May.
Get comfortable, press play, and let’s experience Canada’s musical talent together.
(22) BUTT OF THE JOKE. Left over from May the Fourth, the “R2-D2 & C-3PO 1980 Star Wars Anti Smoking PSA”.
R2-D2 and C-3PO from “Star Wars” in a 1980 anti-smoking public service announcement. Aired in 1984 on Milwaukee’s WVTV.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Davis Nicoll, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Rose Embolism for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
The Horror Writers Association (HWA) posted the finalists for the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards® on February 22.
The Bram Stoker Award winners will be announced in May during the Virtual StokerCon 2021 event.
The 2020 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot
Superior Achievement in a Novel
- Jones, Stephen Graham – The Only Good Indians (Gallery/Saga Press)
- Katsu, Alma – The Deep (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
- Keisling, Todd – Devil’s Creek (Silver Shamrock Publishing)
- Malerman, Josh – Malorie (Del Rey)
- Moreno-Garcia, Silvia – Mexican Gothic (Del Rey)
Superior Achievement in a First Novel
- Hall, Polly – The Taxidermist’s Lover (CamCat Publishing, LLC)
- Harrison, Rachel – The Return (Berkley)
- Jeffery, Ross – Tome (The Writing Collective)
- Knight, EV – The Fourth Whore (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
- Reed Petty, Kate – True Story (Viking)
Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
- Archer, Steven (author/artist) – The Masque of the Red Death (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
- Brody, Jennifer (author) and Rivera, Jules (artist) – Spectre Deep 6 (Turner)
- Douek, Rich (author) and Cormack, Alex (artist) – Road of Bones (IDW Publishing)
- Holder, Nancy (author), Di Francia, Chiara (artist), and Woo, Amelia (artist) – Mary Shelley Presents (Kymera Press)
- Manzetti, Alessandro (author) and Cardoselli, Stefano (artist/author) – Her Life Matters: (Or Brooklyn Frankenstein) (Independent Legions Publishing)
- Niles, Steve (author), Simeone, Salvatore (author), and Kudranski, Szymon (artist) – Lonesome Days, Savage Nights (TKO Studios)
Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
- Cesare, Adam – Clown in a Cornfield (HarperTeen)
- Kraus, Daniel – Bent Heavens (Henry Holt and Company/Macmillan)
- Snyman, Monique – The Bone Carver (Vesuvian Books)
- Thomas, Aiden – Cemetery Boys (Swoon Reads/Macmillan)
- Waters, Erica – Ghost Wood Song (HarperTeen)
Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
- Iglesias, Gabino – Beyond the Reef (Lullabies for Suffering: Tales of Addiction Horror) (Wicked Run Press)
- Jones, Stephen Graham – Night of the Mannequins (Tor.com)
- Kiste, Gwendolyn – The Invention of Ghosts (Nightscape Press)
- Landry, Jess – I Will Find You, Even in the Dark (Dim Shores Presents Volume 1) (Dim Shores)
- Pinsker, Sarah – Two Truths and a Lie (Tor.com)
Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
- Arcuri, Meghan – “Am I Missing the Sunlight?” (Borderlands 7) (Borderlands Press)
- Fawver, Kurt – “Introduction to the Horror Story, Day 1” (Nightmare Magazine Nov. 2020 (Issue 98))
- Malerman, Josh – “One Last Transformation” (Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors) (Written Backwards)
- O’Quinn, Cindy – “The Thing I Found Along a Dirt Patch Road” (Shotgun Honey Presents Volume 4: Recoil) (Down and Out Books)
- Ward, Kyla Lee – “Should Fire Remember the Fuel?” (Oz is Burning) (B Cubed Press)
Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
- Koja, Kathe – Velocities: Stories (Meerkat Press)
- Langan, John – Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies (Word Horde)
- Lillie, Patricia – The Cuckoo Girls (Trepidatio Publishing)
- Murray, Lee – Grotesque: Monster Stories (Things in the Well)
- Taborska, Anna – Bloody Britain (Shadow Publishing)
Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
- Amaris, Scarlett and Stanley, Richard – Color Out of Space (SpectreVision)
- Green, Misha – Lovecraft Country, Season 1, Episode 1: “Sundown” (Affeme, Monkeypaw Productions, Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television Studios)
- Green, Misha and Ofordire, Ihuoma – Lovecraft Country, Season 1, Episode 8: “Jig-a-Bobo” (Affeme, Monkeypaw Productions, Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television Studios)
- LaManna, Angela – The Haunting of Bly Manor, Season 1, Episode 5: “The Altar of the Dead” (Intrepid Pictures, Amblin Television, Paramount Television Studios)
- Whannell, Leigh – The Invisible Man (Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Goalpost Pictures, Nervous Tick Productions)
Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
- Manzetti, Alessandro – Whitechapel Rhapsody: Dark Poems (Independent Legions Publishing)
- McHugh, Jessica – A Complex Accident of Life (Apokrupha)
- Pelayo, Cynthia – Into the Forest and All the Way Through (Burial Day Books)
- Sng, Christina – A Collection of Dreamscapes (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
- Tantlinger, Sara – Cradleland of Parasites (Rooster Republic Press)
Superior Achievement in an Anthology
- Bailey, Michael and Murano, Doug – Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors (Written Backwards)
- Murray, Lee and Flynn, Geneve – Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (Omnium Gatherum Media)
- Kolesnik, Samantha – Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror (Grindhouse Press)
- Tantlinger, Sara – Not All Monsters: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women of Horror (Rooster Republic Press)
- Yardley, Mercedes M. – Arterial Bloom (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
- Florence, Kelly and Hafdahl, Meg – The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films (Skyhorse)
- Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra – 1000 Women in Horror (BearManor Media)
- Keene, Brian – End of the Road (Cemetery Dance Publications)
- Peirse, Alison – Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre (Rutgers University Press)
- Waggoner, Tim – Writing in the Dark (Guide Dog Books/Raw Dog Screaming Press)
- Wetmore, Jr. Kevin J. – The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaption (McFarland)
Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction
- Jackson Joseph, Rhonda – “The Beloved Haunting of Hill House: An Examination of Monstrous Motherhood” (The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaptation) (McFarland)
- Pelayo, Cynthia – “I Need to Believe” (Southwest Review Volume 105.3)
- Robinson, Kelly – “Lost, Found, and Finally Unbound: The Strange History of the 1910 Edison Frankenstein” (Rue Morgue Magazine, June 2020)
- Sng, Christina – “Final Girl: A Life in Horror” (Interstellar Flight Magazine, October 2020)
- Waggoner, Tim – “Speaking of Horror” (The Writer)
(1) HWA YIELDS TO SAFETY CONCERNS. This year’s StokerCon will be virtual: “StokerCon™ 2021 Special Announcement”. The virtual event will keep the announced May 20 to 23 dates. Next-year’s in-person event will take place in Denver at the same hotel they intended to use in 2021.
The Horror Writers Association has made the difficult decision to shift StokerCon™ 2021 from an in-person event to a virtual platform during its originally scheduled May 20 to 23 dates. With the ongoing pandemic, the emergence of viral variants, and the broad range of travel obstacles around the world, we have deemed this to be the safest, most responsible way to hold the event.
As might be expected with an event of this size, switching to a virtual footing poses many challenges, but Con co-chairs, James Chambers and Brian Matthews; HWA President, John Palisano; Vice President, Meghan Arcuri; Administrator, Brad Hodson; and the officers and trustees of the HWA Board have made significant progress in executing this change. Our hope is to preserve the spirit of StokerCon™ and create an event that will resemble as closely as possible our usual programming—panels, presentations, interviews, author readings, ceremonies, and the Bram Stoker Awards® presentation. At this time our plans include the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, Librarians’ Day, Horror University, and the Final Frame Film Competition. And while we won’t be able to gather in the same place, all attendees of this virtual StokerCon™ will receive—or, outside the U.S., have the option to receive—a printed copy of the beautiful souvenir book created and edited by Josh Viola and HEX Publishing….
(2) BOSKONE’S INTERVIEW SERIES. Boskone 58, to be held February 12-14 has been running a series of interview posts.
Dr. Gillian Polack
…If you were planning a holiday or vacation and could visit any location, whether in the real world or fictional worlds, where would you go? Why?
I love portal fantasies. I always dreamed of the doors in other peoples’ writing and of walking through those doors into enchanted lands. Then I wrote my own. I now want to visit the house in Borderlanders and travel to strange places. I seldom want to visit anywhere I’ve written about, for I know all the downsides of all the places, but doors that lead to hidden seas or to rooms lined with liquid glass? That’s different.
Here are links to more mini-interviews:
- “B58 Mini Interviews with Scott Edelman, Sarah Beth Durst, and Andrea Hairston!”
- “B58 Mini Interviews with Tabitha Lord, Colin Alexander, and J.R.H. Lawless”
- “B58 Mini Interviews with Ellen Datlow, Daniel M. Kimmel, and Leigh Perry”
(3) HOUR AFTER HOUR. Jim Freund is “Celebrating 50 years of Hour of the Wolf“, his WBAI radio show.
…Hour of the Wolf premiered in early 1971, somewhere between January and early March. I was to engineer the majority of her programs. Adler came up with the title, taken from the 1967 Ingmar Bergman film of the same name starring Liv Ullman and Max von Sydow. Initially there was no consistent opening music theme until early 1972, when we saw the environmentally-aware science fiction movie Silent Running. The best thing in the film (IMO) was the fabulous soundtrack by Peter Schickele of P.D.Q. Bach fame. There is a grand scene in the movie in which we see small robots caring for and watering the last trees in existence; the camera then pans out to an exterior perspective showing us that this is one of many ships set up as environmental domes. The name of this music is “The Space Fleet,” and once we found a copy in a bin in a 69-cent store, it became the official theme music of the show….
…In 1973, Margot and I both passed the entrance qualifications for the Clarion West Science Fiction Writers Workshop — an intense six-week seminar that featured a different teacher each week that was a veritable Who’s Who of progressive writing in the era. I could not afford to go to Seattle for that long, much less the entrance fee, plane fare, and room and board. Furthermore, Margot told me if I could not go, I would take over Hour of the Wolf in her absence. And that’s what happened. When Margot came back, she was offered a 7-9 AM slot twice a week, which fit her schedule better, and it was agreed that I would stay over after Hour of the Wolf and engineer her show as well….
(4) BE SERIOUS. While the BBC hasn’t said Jodie Whittaker is moving on, speculation is rife – and Radio Times’ Huw Fullerton scoffs at the rumored replacements. “The next Doctor and why all the guesses are wrong”.
… Every single time we start talking about who the next Doctor should be, people invariably start suggesting names so absurd and unlikely that you have to wonder if they’ve recently returned from a parallel universe, where appearing in a popular British sci-fi series is the pinnacle of creative and financial achievement.
Tilda Swinton? Richard Ayoade? Idris Elba? If people seriously think these sort of names are realistic, they haven’t been paying attention to the way the show is made, or its demands. It’s like watching the judges on The Masked Singer confidently predicting that Brad Pitt has decided to dress up as a talking clock and sing ballads on ITV primetime – while technically possible, not a suggestion that anyone could really take seriously….
(5) PRO TIPS. Lou J. Berger drew on his 15 years of experience for this writing advice on Facebook.
… The second bit of advice is to write for yourself, first and foremost. If you are changing your manuscript because you know exactly how each of your critique partners will judge it, see the above advice about finding a new group. The value of a strong critique group will ALWAYS be better than writing in a vacuum. Unless there’s toxicity. Then get the hell out, immediately.
Writing for yourself means that you write something you want to read. And when you read it through other people’s eyes, you are catering to another person’s will. We’ve been through enough in our lives, bending to the will of others. Don’t let your prose get sullied by that same desperate need to conform. It is in the writing of your HEART that you will find release, and the passions that stir you, in the quiet hallways of your own mind, deserve the treatment that only you, and you alone, can give them. Write your HEART and let the others be damned. If there’s one thing in this godforsaken world that you can lay claim to, it is your innermost, private thoughts, and they shall always be yours, the true essence of what makes you unique….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- February 7, 1992 — The Ray Bradbury Theater aired “The Utterly Perfect Murder” episode. Based on a short story by Bradbury, it concerns the long anticipated revenge of a boy tormented in his childhood who now thinks he has plotted the utterly perfect murder. It’s directed by Stuart Margolian, and stars Richard Kiley, Robert Clothier and David Turri. You can watch it here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born February 7, 1478 – Sir Thomas More. Recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church. Renowned among us for Utopia, which would be just fine if we read it carefully enough to realize that, as Lafferty had a fictional TM repeat in Past Master, it’s a satire. (Died 1535) [JH]
- Born February 7, 1812 – Charles Dickens. Many of us know “A Christmas Carol”, with ghosts; he wrote fourscore more fantastic stories, among much else he is still famous for; some say he believed the end of Mr. Krook in Bleak House was possible, others call it fantasy. I can’t let CD’s greatness go without saying, but it’s mostly outside our field. (Died 1870) [JH]
- Born February 7, 1883 – John Taine. A dozen novels, three shorter stories. Under another name he earned a Ph.D., taught math at Cal Tech, wrote Men of Mathematics which he wanted to entitle The Lives of Mathematicians, and several others, The Queen of the Sciences, The Handmaiden of the Sciences, The Development of Mathematics, Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science, of substantial literary ability in this subject which is far easier to do than to write prose about. (Died 1960) [JH]
- February 7, 1908 — Buster Crabbe. He played the lead roles in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do so although other actors played some of those roles. He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.) (CE)
- Born February 7, 1913 – Henry Hasse. His superb “He Who Shrank” is in the superb Healy-McComas anthology Adventures in Time and Space. Since this is File 770, I’ll note HH is named co-author of Ray Bradbury’s “Pendulum”, Sep 41 Super Science Stories, which I understand is RB’s first publication in a prozine. A story “The Pendulum” appeared in the Fall 39 Futuria Fantasia, RB’s fanzine. The Kent State Univ. Collected Stories of RB vol. 1 lists both: do you know how they differ? I can’t get at these sources just now. But we digress. One novel; twoscore more shorter stories, two with RB, two with Emil Petaja, two with Albert de Pina. (Died 1977) [JH]
- Born February 7, 1921 – John Baltadonis. Today is the hundredth birth-anniversary of this fannish giant (he was in fact 6’2″ [1.9 m] tall). See the note about him yesterday, No. 6 in the Pixel Scroll. Don’t neglect his fanart; we did during his life, he never had enough Best Fanartist nominations even to reach the Hugo ballot. [JH]
- February 7, 1949 — Alan Grant, 72. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. (CE)
- February 7, 1950 — Karen Joy Fowler, 71. Michael Toman in a letter to our OGH asked we note her Birthday as he has a “A Good Word for one of his favorite writers” and so do I. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, and two short works of hers, “Always” and ““The Pelican Bar” won significant Awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide. (CE)
- February 7, 1952 — Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two-season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.) (CE)
- February 7, 1955 — Miguel Ferrer. You likely best remember him as OCP VP Bob Morton in RoboCop who came to a most grisly death. Other notable genre roles include playing FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield on Twin Peaks and USS Excelsior helm officer in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In a very scary role, he was Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning in Brave New World. Lastly I’d like to note that he did voice work in the DC Universe at the end of his life, voice Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) in Justice League: The New Frontier and Deathstroke (Slade Joseph Wilson) in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. (Died 2017.) (CE)
- February 7, 1960 — James Spader, 61. Most recently he did the voice and motion-capture for Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. No, I did not enjoy that film, nor the Ultron character. Before that, he played Stewart Swinton in Wolf, a Jack Nicholson endeavor. Then of course he was Daniel Jackson in Stargate, a film I still enjoy though I think the series did get it better. He also plays Nick Vanzant in Supernova andJulian Rome in Alien Hunter. (CE)
- Born February 7, 1990 – Jessica Khoury, age 30. Seven novels. “Read as much as you can, in as many genres as you can. Read insatiably. Read ingredients on your food. Read warning labels on heavy machinery. Read the newspaper, read magazines, read manga”. [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- In today’s Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin can’t do math because, ummmm, aliens!
(9) SAME BAT CHANNEL, SAME BAT BROKEN RECORD. Busted again: “AWKKKKKK! Batman No. 1 Sells for $2.2 Million” reports Print.
Last week, reported The Hollywood Reporter, a near-mint copy of the Batman No. 1 comic, published in 1940, “sold as part of Heritage Auction’s comics and comic art events. … The final price was $2,220,000, which included the buyer’s premium fee.” Just in case you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay your monthly health insurance premium or children’s college tuition, that number, to repeat, was $2,220,000—a record for “the most expensive Batman comic ever sold.”
Does that mean that other comic books have sold for more? Well, according to Helen Stoilas in The Art Newspaper, “The rare 1940 issue, which marks the first appearance of the Joker and Catwoman, is the second most-expensive comic book ever sold. Even before the live sale opened on Thursday [Jan. 14], the start of Heritage’s four-day Comics and Comic Art event, online pre-bidding for the comic book had shot up to $1.9 million. Its sale of $2.22 million, to a U.S. bidder on the auction house’s online HA Live platform, knocked out the previous Batman record holder, a copy of 1939’s Detective Comics #27, which introduced the character to the world and sold for $1.5 million at Heritage this past November.”
(10) THROWBACK TEAM. “Justice Society: World War II” on YouTube is a trailer for a new WB cartoon about the original matchup of DC superheroes.
(11) CATCHING UP TO FANDOM. The New York Times shows why “‘Bridgerton’ Is Just the Beginning”.
It’s a world of corsets, stays and chemises. Of weskits, bum rolls, breeches and hoop panniers. For actors, wearing period costume has long meant literally stepping into the past: lacing soft modern flesh into antique shapes and learning how to use the toilet without peeling off multiple layers.
“Bridgerton,” Shonda Rhimes’s racially diverse Netflix series set in 1813 England, has suddenly ignited new interest in Regency fashions. But a global community of hobbyists has been designing, making and wearing clothing from the 19th century and earlier for many years. Long a private obsession fueled by films like “The Leopard” and “Pride and Prejudice,” social media has widened the conversation, with fans of all ages and backgrounds worldwide now trading notes on how best to trim a sleeve or adjust a straw bonnet.
Pre-pandemic, they gathered in Los Angeles at Costume College, an annual conference, at Venice’s Carnival and the Fêtes Galantes at Versailles. Some lucky Europeans, like Filippa Trozelli, find themselves invited to wear their historical clothing to private parties at ancient local estates….
(12) THE FINAL CAT FRONTIER. “Star Trek Enterprise Cat Tree: Bolding Going Where No Cat Has Gone Before” at Technabob. I’m thinking the cats shown posing on this tree might easily be mistaken for aliens.
A USS Enterprise and Deep Space Nine themed cat tree: it’s what every Star Trek loving feline owner’s home has been missing. And now thanks to Etsy seller CE360designs, you can finally fill that void with a custom Star Trek Enterprise 1701D and DS9 Wood Cat Tower. You know they say good things come in small packages, but I imagine this box being on the larger side.
According to the sales copy, “The bottom is a wormhole but can be a Borg ship.”
(13) MARS SPINOFFS. The space agency tells how “NASA’s Perseverance Pays Off Back Home”.
A laser-light sensor that can identify bacteria in a wound may sound far-fetched, but it’s already becoming a reality, thanks in part to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The technology is going to Mars for the first time on Perseverance, which will touch down on the Red Planet in February, but it’s already detecting trace contaminants in pharmaceutical manufacturing, wastewater treatment, and other important operations on Earth.
That’s not the only technology headed to Mars that’s already paying dividends on the ground. Here on Earth, these innovations are also improving circuit board manufacturing and even led to a special drill bit design for geologists….
(14) SLOW WOOD? That’s what Michael J. Walsh asked after reading CBC Radio’s article: “Scientists develop transparent wood that is stronger and lighter than glass”.
Researchers at the University of Maryland have turned ordinary sheets of wood into transparent material that is nearly as clear as glass, but stronger and with better insulating properties. It could become an energy efficient building material in the future.
Wood is made of two basic ingredients: cellulose, which are tiny fibres, and lignin, which bonds those fibres together to give it strength.
Tear a paper towel in half and look closely along the edge. You will see the little cellulose fibres sticking up. Lignin is a glue-like material that bonds the fibres together, a little like the plastic resin in fibreglass or carbon fibre. The lignin also contains molecules called chromophores, which give the wood its brown colour and prevent light from passing through.
Early attempts to make transparent wood involved removing the lignin, but this involved hazardous chemicals, high temperatures and a lot of time, making the product expensive and somewhat brittle. The new technique is so cheap and easy it could literally be done in a backyard….
(15) DAVIDSON READ ALOUD. The Avram Davidson Universe is a podcast dedicated to the life work and impact of award-winning author, Avram Davidson. Episode 6 features “Alan Dean Foster & “Help! I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper”. It’s a very funny science fiction story about dentists.
In each episode, we perform a reading and discussion of his works with a special guest. Avram Davidson (1923–1993) was a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and crime fiction. Davidson was born in Yonkers, NY and and served in the Navy during World War II. His life work includes 19 novels and over 200 short stories, all of which have been widely recognized for their wit and originality. Davidson’s works have won awards in three genres: an Edgar Award for mystery, a Hugo Award for science fiction, and three World Fantasy Awards.
(16) SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL. The most genre of today’s TV spots was “Edward Scissorhands – Cadillac Super Bowl Commercial”.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Professor Layton” on Honest Game Trailers, Fandom Games says that while Professor Layton is “the world’s worst Sherlock Holmes cosplayer” the game’s many quizzes should appeal to fans of “anime, Agatha Christie, and people who enjoy the puzzle section in the newspaper.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, JJ, Will R., Darrah Chavey, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael J. Walsh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) DISCON III ASKS QUESTIONS. Should DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, move its date, should it emphasize virtual or in-person participation? The committee has launched a survey to find what fans think:
We’re working hard to figure out the best path forward for our Worldcon next year and we need to hear from you! Please take this brief 2-question poll which seeks your preference between shifting DC III to December 15-19, 2021, with a high probability to be an in-person Worldcon, or keeping with our existing August 25-29, 2021, which would be mostly virtual with the potential for limited in-person activities.
Anyone is welcome to take the DisCon III Date Survey – you don’t have to be a member.
(2) STOKERCON CONTINGENCY PLAN. For now, the Horror Writers Association is planning on StokerCon 2021 being an in-person event next May in Denver – but what if that changes?
…As of now, we intend to hold the convention as scheduled. At the same time, we are working on contingency plans should that not be possible. We are discussing the issue on an ongoing basis with The Curtis, who are sensitive to the situation and the needs and concerns of our attendees.
If for some reason we cannot hold the convention as planned, any change will be announced more than sixty days before May 20th so that those who wish to change their plans may still obtain a refund for their registration fee and change or cancel hotel reservations and alter travel plans. We recommend those planning long distance travel who wish to purchase airfare or other tickets in advance look into refundable options and travel insurance.
If for some reason we cannot hold StokerCon™ 2021 in person, we will look into the possibility of a virtual convention and have begun investigating options. This contingency is too far into the future to make concrete plans, though we will work to ensure a complete and enjoyable convention….
(3) EREWHON BOOKS: THE PUBLISHER ANSWERS QUESTIONS. Glitchy Pancakes episode 119 interviews Liz Gorinsky, Hugo-winning editor who’s now publisher of Erewhon Books.
[GLITCHY PANCAKES] Why don’t we start out and talk about your most recent venture Erewhon Books. This is really interesting because what i was personally curious about is after so many years working as an editor what made you want to take the leap and like hang out your own shingle and go into like the full scale publishing?
[LIZ GORINSKY] So yeah it was a tour of basically my entire adult career before that I did one internship in the industry which is DC Comics and then a long time at Tor, and it was great but I guess it was a combination — Publishing is intensely cyclical we had a three season schedule so just imagine doing the same thing three times a year for 15 years and like even if it’s doing a thing like working on books that you love, it is, you know, kind of repetitive in some ways. And i think it was also, you know, many great things were going on but I think that like around the time that i was working there there was like I guess a drive towards becoming a little bit more professional and a little bit more corporate and, I think, ultimately to the benefit of the company, but I felt like sort of cowboy territory when I started that we were just like a bunch of science fiction weirdos, and they still are to be sure, but there was also kind of a like let’s fit a little bit more into the greater Macmillan culture. So I was basically at the point where I could consider kind of working independently for a little while. So i was attempting to leave and go freelance and try to do some freelance editing for a while to focus on some other things that I was interested in exploring, just not do the same thing over and over again for a little while. Then some folks found me and they said would you like to start a new speculative fiction company that will be funded and you can do whatever you want, basically. I spent a little while wrestling with imposter syndrome about that and then, basically, like, you know, enough people said some variations on how can you not do that that. I kind of figured that i had to do that and that’s where we started…
(4) CONDENSED CREAM OF CONZEALAND. Morgan Hazelwood has completed a series of reports on some of the panels at CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon.
Here’s the list of panels I managed to squeeze in:
- Cultures and Their Myths
- Accessible Magic
- World-Building: Economics
- What’s In A Name? Characters in Fiction
- Stranger in a Strange Head: Imposter Syndrome
- Spirits Abroad and At Home
- Fairy Tale Contract Law
- Constructed Languages
- Writing SFF From The Margins
- What Fanfiction Can Teach Genre Writers
- Writing For Young Adults
- and last, but certainly not least!
- In Space No One Can See You Hide The Evidence: Crimes in Space
(5) THICK AS A BRICK: David Langford has added his vast compilation of a decade’s worth of Ansible (2011-2020) to the TAFF ebooks library. It’s a free download, however, if you feel moved to donate to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund that would be a good thing.
Issues 282 to 401 of the infamous Hugo-winning SF/fan newsletter. First published from January 2021 to December 2020 and archived online here. Compiled into an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 3 December 2020, with cover logo (compressed second-series version) by Dan Steffan and artwork by Atom. 429,000 words.
(6) LETTERS FROM VONNEGUT. In “Satirist to the Galaxy” in The American Scholar, Anne Matthews reviews Love, Kurt, a collection of 226 letters Kurt Vonnegut wrote during World War II to the woman he would marry, which give new insights into Vonnegut’s views about war.
…At SS gunpoint, Vonnegut dug Dresden’s dead from the rubble, an extreme tutorial in entropy and decay for the Cornell biochemistry major. He was only 22, raised in a prosperous German-speaking family proud of its Old World ties. The funeral pyres of Dresden became the core of his moral vision and the engine of his later literary fame, but the price of witnessing was nearly unbearable, and everyone who tried to love him paid it, too.
Two women kept him sane. His big sister Alice was his muse, a spiritual twin. His future wife, Jane Cox, a friend since kindergarten days, also a would-be writer, became his literary umpire. “One peculiar feature of our relationship is that you are the one person in this world to whom I like to write,” he told her in 1943. “If ever I do write anything of length—good or bad—it will be written with you in mind. … And let’s have seven children xxxxxxx.” Two weeks after V-J Day, they married and raised, yes, seven children, three of their own plus four young nephews, orphaned after their father’s commuter train fell into Newark Bay two days before Alice died of cancer….
(7) FLING CAUTION TO THE WINDS. James Davis Nicoll finds “Five Stories Driven by a Disregard for Basic Safety” for Tor.com readers.
Nothing delivers unrequested adventures quite like normalization of deviance. It works like this:
Suppose one has a safety protocol. Suppose one decides that this protocol is onerous for some reason: it consumes extra time, it requires extra effort, or worst of all, it costs money. So, one shaves a step here and a precaution there. And nothing happens! Clearly, the whole shebang was not necessary in the first place. Clearly the thing to do here is to keep skipping steps until circumstances line up wrong and you’re looking at a trip to the emergency room or a burning pile of expensive rubble.
The end results of normalization of deviance are undesirable in reality. But…the process is oh-so-irresistible for authors looking for ways to drop their characters neck-deep in a pig lagoon. Take these five examples…
(8) TRAILER TIME. Wetware will be released December 11.
WETWARE is set in a near future where there are tough and tedious jobs no one wants to do – and people down on their luck who volunteer for genetic modifications to make them right for this work — in slaughterhouses, infectious disease wards, landfill and other hard jobs. With business booming, programmers at Galapagos Wetware up the stakes by producing high-end prototypes, Jack (Bret Lada) and Kay, for more sensitive jobs like space travel, deep cover espionage or boots on the ground for climate or resource conflicts.Galapagos genetic programmer Hal Briggs (Cameron Scoggins) improvises as he goes on what qualities to include or delete in his gene splicing for Jack and, especially, Kay, to whom he develops a dangerous attachment. Then word gets out that Jack and Kay have escaped, before Briggs has completed his work. As Briggs scrambles to track his fugitive prototypes, he makes a provocative discovery that changes everything.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- December 3, 1965 — Fifty five years ago this evening, The Wild Wild West’s “The Night of the Human Trigger” was first aired on CBS. It starred Robert Conrad as Jim West and Ross Martin as Artemus Gordon with Burgess Meredith as the guest star this episode. He’s a mad scientist named Professor Orkney Cadwallader that’s using nitroglycerin to set off the earthquakes of horrendous size. The episode uses a number of genre tropes including Chekhov’s gun, mad scientist, deus ex machina and soft glass. You can legally see it here, though oddly enough it’s not up on the CBS All Access app.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born December 3, 1922 – Donald H. Tuck. From his home in Tasmania with help from fans round the world he built a great card index, published A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Special Committee Award, Chicon III the 20th Worldcon), then The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Best Nonfiction Book, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon – Australia’s first Hugo). Guest of Honor at Aussiecon One the 33rd Worldcon, though he could not attend. Big Heart, our highest service award. (Died 2010) [JH]
- Born December 3, 1937 – Morgan Llywelyn, age 83. A score of novels, three dozen shorter stories for us; much other work in historical fiction and nonfiction. Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year award. Nat’l League of American Penwomen Novel of the Year award, Irish-American Heritage Committee (she then still lived in the U.S.) Woman of the Year award. Two Bisto awards, Reading Ass’n of Ireland award. A horsewoman; missed the U.S. Olympics team in dressage by .05 per cent. [JH]
- Born December 3, 1949 – Malcolm Edwards, age 71. Fanzine, Quicksilver. Edited Foundation, Interzone, Vector. A hundred fifty essays, letters, reviews there and in The Alien Critic, NY Rev of SF, SF Commentary, SF Monthly, Bleiler’s SF Writers, Speculation. Guest of Honour at Loncon 3 the 72nd Worldcon. Chair of SF at Gollancz (retired 2019), edited its SF Masterworks. Not his fault that Peter Weston knowing no better wrote earlier as “Malcolm Edwards”, which we eventually sorted out. [JH]
- Born December 3, 1953 – Doug Beason, Ph.D., age 67. Eight novels with Kevin Anderson, one with Ben Bova, two more, a score of shorter stories, for us; five novels, two nonfiction books, on next-door topics. Science columns in Analog and SF Age. Retired Air Force colonel. Fellow of Amer. Physical Society. Nat’l Defense Univ. President’s Strategic Vision award. [JH]
- Born December 3, 1955 — Stephen Culp, 65. His first genre appearance was in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday followed by being in the much different James and the Giant Peach. His next role is as Commander Martin Madden in the extended version of Star Trek: Nemesis, before showing up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as Congressman Wenham. He also had a recurring role on Enterprise as Major Hayes. (CE)
- Born December 3, 1958 — Terri Windling, 62. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood. She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here. (CE)
- Born December 3, 1959 – Shawn Lamb, age 61. From her Allon Books, a dozen novels for us; also historical fiction; television screenwriting. Family Review Center Editors’ Choice and Gold Award for The Great Battle. [JH]
- Born December 3, 1960 — Daryl Hannah, 60. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it? Last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing. (CE)
- Born December 3, 1965 — Andrew Stanton, 55. Director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor, all at Pixar. His work there includes co-writing A Bug’s Life (as co-director), Finding Nemo and its sequel Finding Dory, WALL-E (Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Anticipation) and over at Disney, he directed John Carter. He also co-wrote all four Toy Story films and Monsters, Inc. (CE)
- Born December 3, 1968 — Brendan Fraser, 52. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark Town, Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Journey to the Center of the Earth, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Titans series that now airs on HBO. (CE)
- Born December 3, 1981 – Alyson Noël, age 39. Sixteen novels, two shorter stories for us; half a dozen more novels; nine NY Times Best-Sellers, eight million copies in print. Has been a flight attendant and a T-shirt painter; has kept pet turtles and tarantulas. Learned to read with Horton Hatches the Egg; favorite maybe The Catcher in the Rye. Motto, Don’t believe everything you think. [JH
- Born December 3, 1985 — Amanda Seyfried, 35. She plays Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds her playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis, a role within In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. (CE)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
As Lise Andreasen translates this Politiken cartoon:
Elon Musk is building a star ship.
“Thank God we got away.”
(12) THEY’RE BACK. Another monolith, this one in California. “Mystery Obelisk Appears on Pine Mountain”. The Atascadero News says it’s not the identical to the one found in Utah.
In late November, a mysterious 9-foot obelisk appeared in Utah, sparking world-wide awe as many made a pilgrimage to see it in San Juan County.
The Utah obelisk was illegally installed without cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management.
On Black Friday, it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared, leaving a triangular divot in the ground.
On Wednesday morning, a similar monument appeared at the top of Atascadero’s Pine Mountain, and sparked similar patronage. Dozens of local hikers made the trek to the top of Pine Mountain to view the object. (The object has since been removed)
The three-sided obelisk appeared to be made of stainless steel, 10-feet tall and 18 inches wide. The object was welded together at each corner, with rivets attaching the side panels to a likely steel frame inside. The top of the monument did not show any weld marks, and it appears to be hollow at the top, and possibly bottom.
Unlike its Utah sibling, the Atascadero obelisk was not installed into the ground (however it was attached with rebar), and could be knocked over with a firm push. The Atascadero News estimates it weighs about 200 pounds.
(13) BYO POPCORN. You won’t have to leave the house for these move debuts if you’re subscribed to HBO Max — “Warner Bros. Announces ‘Matrix 4,’ ‘Dune,’ and All Its 2021 Movies Will Debut on HBO Max and in Theaters”. Includes Dune (October 1, 2021) and The Matrix 4 (December 22, 2021). Could it spell the end of movie theaters? (If COVID-19 hasn’t done that already?)
In a move that some may have suspected was on the horizon while most will consider it quite the shock, Warner Bros. has announced plans for its entire 2021 roster to debut simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming platform and in theaters.
Per a press release shared on Thursday, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group CEO Ann Sarnoff is calling this approach a “unique one-year plan,” which points to the possibility of it indeed being a single-time rollout strategy inspired solely by the difficulties facing theaters across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances,” Sarnoff said.
(14) LIBRARY ON A ROLL. Here’s something for booklovers: “Round Top Yano Design Washi Tape – Debut Series Natural – Bookshelf”.
This cute roll of washi tape is die-cut to highlight the shape of its bookshelf print.
Washi tape is a Japanese craft masking tape that comes in many colors and patterns and has tons of creative uses. Use it to add whimsical, creative accents to scrapbooks and cards, or stick it on your wall calendars and personal planners to mark important dates. The tape is removable, which means that you can easily stick it on, unpeel it, and move it to a different spot—this is especially convenient when marking ever-changing schedules. It can be cut with scissors to create a clean edge or torn by hand to create a more textured look.
(15) MORE HOLIDAY IDEAS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Projections from Hingston & Olsen Publishing is an original anthology edited by Rebecca Romney in which the 12 stories are individual pamphlets in a collectible box.
They also have an “Advent calendar” of short stories that includes Sofia Samatar but I don’t know how many of these stories are sf or fantasy.
For the past five years, the Short Story Advent Calendar has lit up libraries and living rooms around the world with shimmering smorgasbords of bite-sized literary fiction. But all good things must come to an end. So grab the emergency schnapps from the back of the liquor cabinet, and join us for one last holiday hurrah.
You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers around.
(16) PASSING FANCIES. “Jupiter and Saturn will look like a double planet just in time for Christmas” – CNN tells us when to look.
The two largest planets in our solar system are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages, and it’s happening just in time for Christmas.
So, there are some things to look forward to in the final month of 2020.
“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another,” said Rice University astronomer and professor of physics and astronomy Patrick Hartigan in a statement.
“You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”
(17) WILDCATS ARE BIGGER, OF COURSE. Did you know? At Literary Hub, John Gray says “House Cats and Wild Cats Aren’t Actually That Different”.
…Unless they are kept indoors, the behavior of house cats is not much different from that of wild cats. Though the cat may regard more than one house as home, the house is the base where it feeds, sleeps and gives birth. There are clear territorial boundaries, larger for male cats than for females, which will be defended against other cats when necessary. The brains of house cats have diminished in size compared with their wild counterparts, but that does not make house cats less intelligent or adaptable. Since it is the part of the brain that includes the fight-or-flight response that has shrunk, house cats have become able to tolerate situations that would be stressful in the wild, such as encountering humans and unrelated cats….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Mad Max: Fury Road Behind The Scenes Documentary” on YouTube is a 2017 film, directed by Cory Watson, originally titled Going Mad: The Battle Of Fury Road, which is a behind the scenes look at the 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road. The documentary reveals this film had an extremely long gestation, as George Miller originally had the idea for the film in the late 1990s, Production was shut down in 2002 in Namibia because the US dollar tanked in the wake of 9/11, wiping out a quarter of the film’s budget, and halted a second time in Australia in 2010 because of floods shortly before shooting which turned the desert set into a lush flowery landscape. The documentary includes interviews with stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and many behind-the scenes looks at the mixture of feminism, car crashes, and gratuitous consumption of fossil fuels that led to six Oscars in 2016.
My favorite behind the scenes bit: dozens of bald-headed extras preparing for their day of being weirdoes by singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”
[Thanks to Lise Andeasen, Michael Toman, JJ, N., Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]