(1) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE DRAWS VISITORS FROM PRO ORGANIZATIONS. Last week representatives from The Authors Guild and the Association of American Literary Agents met with HarperCollins management and union representatives to discuss concerns over the ongoing strike. “Update on AG/AALA Meetings with HarperCollins Management and HarperCollins Union” from The Authors Guild.
…The AG and the AALA stressed in both meetings that our intention was not to take sides but rather, like submitting an amicus curiae brief to a court, to advise both HarperCollins and the union about the damaging effects of the strike. Both the AG and the AALA reached out to our members ahead of the meetings to solicit feedback about how the dispute has impacted them and summarized the described experiences.
The Authors Guild relayed authors’ stories of being unable to reach their editors, their lack of any marketing support—even for imminent books and those just published—delays in publishing, and overworked and stressed editors, as well as a total lack of reviews, interviews, or events for their new books due to pressure for third parties not to support HarperCollins books. Authors used words such as “disappointing” and “devastating” when describing how, after years of working on their books and finally getting them to the point of publication, they now risk failing to reach readers due to no fault of their own.
AALA representatives expressed concerns about their members’ inability to get necessary marketing services as well as frustration with publication delays. Such delays impact authors’ and agents’ finances, causing potential long-term damage to writers’ careers and damage to their relationships with HarperCollins going forward. They stressed how weak sales performance on one book can impact an author’s entire career, since it may prevent the sales of future books and the ability to license the book internationally or option it for TV or film. The AALA Board delegation conveyed that in the recent follow-up to their December survey, anger and frustration are now dominating the discourse with deep concern regarding permanent damage to all if it does not resolve soon….
(2) STAR TREK: VOYAGER QUIZ ON LEARNEDLEAGUE; JEOPARDY! BAIT AND SWITCH. [Item by David Goldfarb/] LearnedLeague has just had a One-Day Special quiz on Star Trek: Voyager. You can read the questions here. (I lost interest in Voyager partway through the first season, and could only answer three questions; my wife was more of a fan and got nine.)
The Monday, February 6 episode of Jeopardy! had a category in the first round titled “Doctor Who”…except it turned out to be entirely about medical personnel associated with the World Health Organization. “Doctor WHO” rather than Doctor Who. Disappointing!
(3) UNPAID “NEW TALENT”? The Maul magazine, a horror genre publication, is the subject of discussion for its offer to publish material from minors without compensation. There is a regular rate for material purchased to appear in the magazine – “New Talent” submissions aren’t in the magazine, but on its web page. The discussion about that begins here.
The Maul’s editor Brian Rosten explains their policy in “A Minor FAQ”.
Can I be published in The Maul Magazine if I’m under 18?
Not really. Anyone under 18 is free to submit to our “New Talent” section of themaulmag.com’s web page. (We’re thinking of changing the name “New Talent,” because admittedly, it does make it sound like they’re a part of our main issues) None of those stories appear in any issues of The Maul. The stories for “New Talent” are under completely separate guidelines. There is also no competition for those publications. Anyone who meets the guidelines gets published providing they accept our edits.
As someone on Twitter pointed out, this is more like an open mic. It’s a chance for kids to get excited about horror, practice their hand at the craft, and talk to an editor a little bit about the process of submitting to a magazine.
We do not accept submissions from those under 18 for any issues of The Maul.
What do authors in the “New Talent” Section get paid?
Currently, we do not pay them. But we are willing to hear out ideas, as we cannot pay them directly, and they do not compete for publication.
(4) THE EXPANSE COMICS CROWDFUNDING BLOWS THE DOORS OFF. Bleeding Cool reports “Boom Studios To Kickstart ‘Season Six-And-A-Half’ Of The Expanse”.
…Boom Studios will be launching a Kickstarter for The Expanse: Dragon Tooth, the new comic book series by Andy Diggle and Christian Ward set between books six, Babylon’s Ashes, and seven, Persepolis Rising, of The Expanse, and following where season six of the Syfy and Prime Video TV series left off. Their Day One exclusive bonus item – The Expanse Rocinante Challenge Coin – will be available only for the first 24 hours of the campaign. Boom Studios has a history of using Kickstarter to raise the profile of media-prominent projects, such as Keanu Reeves and Brzrkr….
On its first day the Kickstarter has raised over $266,000 of its $25,000 goal – “THE EXPANSE Continues In The DRAGON TOOTH Graphic Novels! by BOOM! Studios”
(5) MONTELEONE Q&A. Book and Film Globe – in a spirit that very much reminds me of Upstream Reviews – reports that the “Horror Writers’ Association Kicks Tom Monteleone To The Curb” and interviews him “to see if he cares.”
… There have always been literary feuds. Has this “wreck the other guy’s career” always been a thing? Or is it peculiar to the Internet age?
I think social media and the instantaneous access to technology that can record you and send you anywhere has made it very easy for people to go after whoever they want — with as much speed and viciousness as possible. I have been told there have been some posts that have savaged me in terrible ways—I haven’t bothered to read them—and often of the ad hominem variety. They gave me a LAA 6 years go, but now I am apparently not only an asshole, but also a no-talent has-been as well. And I do believe there is a certain type of individual out there who gets a true glee at knowing he or she has the power to destroy others with a few keyboard strokes….
(6) NEXT: HACKING AT WARPSPEED. Bruce Schneier explains the topic of his nonfiction book A Hacker’s Mind at Whatever: “The Big Idea: Bruce Schneier”.
…All systems are hackable. Even the best-thought-out sets of rules will be incomplete or inconsistent. They’ll have ambiguities, and things the designers haven’t thought of. As long as there are people who want to subvert the goals of a system, there will be hacks.
What will change everything is artificial intelligence, and what will happen when AIs start hacking. Not the problems of hacking AI, which are both ubiquitous and super weird, but what happens when an AI is able to discover new hacks against these more general systems. What happens when AIs find tax loopholes, or loopholes in financial regulations. We have systems in place to deal with these sorts of hacks, but they were invented when hackers were human and reflect the human pace of hack discovery. They won’t be able to withstand an AI finding dozens, or hundreds, of loopholes in the financial network. We’re simply not ready for the speed, scale, scope, and sophistication of AI hackers….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1968 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn
This past autumn the authors edition of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn came out. It was an edition that Beagle has long wanted to do and his editor, Deborah Grabien, author of the Haunted Ballad series, helped him craft it.
Published fifty-five years ago, it tells the tale of a unicorn who believes she is the last of her kind in the world at large and goes questing to see what happened to all other unicorns. It is a very, very charming tale.
It’s one of my favorite works by him, amazingly well written given it was only his second novel after A Fine and Private Place. The Rankin/Bass animated film is much liked by Peter.
The Beginning of The Last Unicorn is I think one of the best that I’ve seen for a fantasy novel. It describes our protagonist in detail, telling us exactly what she’s like, and what her circumstances are now.
The Last Unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.
She did not look anything like a horned horse, as unicorns are often pictured, being smaller and cloven-hoofed, and possessing that oldest, wildest grace that horses have never had, that deer have only in a shy, thin imitation and goats in dancing mockery. Her neck was long and slender, making her head seem smaller than it was, and the mane that fell almost to the middle of her back was as soft as dandelion fluff and as fine as cirrus. She had pointed ears and thin legs, with feathers of white hair at the ankles; and the long horn above her eyes shone and shivered with its own seashell light even in the deepest midnight. She had killed dragons with it, and healed a king whose poisoned wound would not close, and knocked down ripe chestnuts for bear cubs.
Unicorns are immortal. It is their nature to live alone in one place: usually a forest where there is a pool clear enough for them to see themselves—for they are a little vain, knowing themselves to be the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and magic besides. They mate very rarely, and no place is more enchanted than one where a unicorn has been born. The last time she had seen another unicorn the young virgins who still came seeking her now and then had called to her in a different tongue; but then, she had no idea of months and years and centuries, or even of seasons. It was always spring in her forest, because she lived and she wandered all day among the great beech trees, keeping watch over the animals that lived in the ground and under bushes, in nests and caves, earths and treetops. Generation after generation, wolves and rabbits alike, they hunted and loved and had children and died, and as the unicorn did none of these things, she never grew tired of watching them.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 7, 1812 — Charles Dickens. Author of more genre fiction according to ISFDB than I knew. There’s A Christmas Carol that I’ve seen performed lived myriad times but they also list The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In, The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home, The Battle of Life, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain and The Christmas Books. OK, that appears to be a lot of genre, doesn’t it? (Died 1870.)
- Born February 7, 1908 — Buster Crabbe. He also played the title role in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do though 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.)
- Born February 7, 1913 — Henry Hasse. Best known for being the co-author of Ray Bradbury’s first published story, “Pendulum”, which appeared in November 1941 in Super Science Stories. ISFDB lists a single novel by him, The Stars Will Wait, and some fifty short stories if I’m counting correctly. The Stars Will Wait is available at the usual suspects. (Died 1977.)
- Born February 7, 1929 — Alejandro Jodorowsky, 94. The Universe has many weird things in it such as this film, Jodorowsky’s Dune. It looks at his unsuccessful attempt to film Dune in the mid-1970s. He’s also has created a sprawling SF fictional universe, beginning with the Incal, illustrated by the cartoonist Jean Giraud which is rooted in their work for the Dune project which is released as comics.
- Born February 7, 1942 — 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.)
- Born February 7, 1949 — Alan Grant. 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. (Died 2022.)
- Born February 7, 1950 — Karen Joy Fowler, 73. 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, which is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, Also 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.
- Born February 7, 1950 — Margaret Wander Bonanno. She wrote seven Star Trek novels, several science fiction novels set in her own worlds, including The Others, a novel with Nichelle Nichols. In putting together this Birthday, several sources noted that she had disavowed writing her Trek novel Probe because of excessive editorial meddling by the publisher. She self-published Music of the Spheres, her unapproved version of Probe, the official publication. According to her, Probe has less than ten per cent of the content of her version. This led to Bonanno being blacklisted from the Star Trek publishing universe for over 11 years; in 2003 she returned with Catalyst of Sorrows, part of the Star Trek: The Lost Era series. (Died 2021.)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Get Fuzzy introduces readers to cat jurisprudence.
(10) BUTLER’S HOMETOWN. From the New York Times: “Diving Into Octavia Butler’s World in Southern California”, a “tour of the places that shaped the science fiction writer.”
Octavia Butler wrote 12 novels and won each of science fiction’s highest honors. She was the first science fiction writer to be awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant.
In 2020, 14 years after her death, one of her novels, “Parable of the Sower,” appeared on The New York Times’s best-seller list for the first time, a testament to how much readers still connect with her writing today.
And much of that work was greatly shaped by her life in California. Butler was born and went to school in Pasadena. Her mother cleaned houses in the city’s wealthy neighborhoods, and Butler became a fixture at the Peter Pan Room, the children’s section of the elegant Pasadena Central Library. As an adult, she regularly traveled across the Southland, scrutinizing the world around her and drawing on those observations for her books….
(11) MITTENS, THE EVIL CHESSBOT. CNN Business invites you to “Meet the innocent looking cat that upended the chess world” in a video at the link.
This harmless looking cat-themed chess bot called “Mittens” has a single digit Elo score, but it has bewildered the world of chess while evolving into an internet meme.
(12) AI COMEDY SUSPENDED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] AI-generated trans- and homophobia. Who would’ve guessed? (Raises hand.) GIGO. At best. “Twitch Kicks AI-Generated Seinfeld Show Off Air After Not-Jerry Makes Transphobic Remark” from Gizmodo.
After becoming the new hotness for fans of surreal insanity, the never ending AI-generated stream inspired by the 90s sitcom Seinfeld called Nothing, Forever has been temporarily kicked off the air. Just like some other famed comedians, the series main character “Larry Feinberg” was slapped down hard after making an ill-fitting transphobic and homophobic joke.
Each “episode” of Nothing, Forever contains a section where Larry performs a comedy set akin to what Jerry Seinfeld does at the start of the real-life show. As first reported by Vice, Twitch issued a 14-day ban on Nothing, Forever Sunday night after video showed Larry dive into Dave Chappelle-levels of anti-self-reflection….
(13) CENSORSHIP UPDATE. “Disney removes Simpsons ‘forced labour’ episode in Hong Kong” reports BBC News.
…There have been rising concerns about censorship in Hong Kong after it passed several controversial laws.
The city had previously had access to more civil freedoms than the Chinese mainland, but Beijing has clamped down on these rights since major pro-democracy protests rocked the city in 2019.
In the episode, which first aired last October, the character Marge Simpson is shown images of the Great Wall of China during an exercise class.
During the class, her instructor comments: “Behold the wonders of China: Bitcoin mines, forced labour camps where children make smartphones.”
The BBC has reported that hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority people in the western region of Xinjiang have been forced into manual labour.
The Chinese government denies this and says the factories are part of a voluntary “poverty alleviation” scheme.
The Simpsons has been shown on and off in mainland China since the early 2000s. Clips from the current season can be found on Chinese streaming sites, but not of that particular scene, according to a BBC check on Tuesday.
The removal of the latest Simpsons episode comes after Disney in 2021 also removed a show episode referring to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Censorship of Western TV is commonplace in mainland China, and critics say this pattern has been increasing in Hong Kong….
(14) YOUR FLYING VACUUM CLEANER AWAITS. Giant Freakin Robot tells fans where to “See The First Flying Bike Designed Just Like Star Wars Landspeeders”.
The Star Wars franchise is home to a number of iconic technologies that fans have fantasized about. Although most fans first think of the lightsaber as Star Wars‘ signature technological device, another one is closer to becoming a reality. According to the website of the company Aerwins, it has produced the XTURISMO, a flying bike that in many ways resembles the iconic Star Wars vehicle. Check out one of the first looks at the XTURISMO flying bike in the promotional video from Aerwin below…
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Cat Eldridge.]