Bajaber Wins First Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction

The Ursula K. Le Guin Trust today announced the winner of the inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber, author of The House of Rust.

The jury also named two finalists: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu and The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente.

In Bajaber’s debut novel, published by Graywolf Press, young Aisha sets out in the company of a talking cat and a boat made of bones to rescue her fisherman father. Khadija Abdalla Bajaber’s debut novel is grounded in a vivid sense of place and the way she continuously expands both Aisha’s world and her understanding of it—a world of leviathans, snake gods, and crows whose sharp eyes are on everyone. The jury praised Bajaber’s transcendent writing and innovative, transporting story, saying: “Scene after scene is gleaming, textured, utterly devoid of cliché and arresting in its wisdom. The novel’s structure is audacious and its use of language is to die for.”

The nine shortlisted books were chosen by the Ursula K. Le Guin Literary Trust following a public nomination process. The prize jurors were adrienne maree brown, Becky Chambers, Molly Gloss, David Mitchell, and Luis Alberto Urrea.

DESIGN FOR THE PHYSICAL PRIZE FOR 2022. Every shortlist author (including the finalists and winner) receives a risograph print designed by Tuesday Smillie. The text is drawn from Ursula’s essay “Some Thoughts on Narrative,” published in the essay collection: Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places (Grove Press). Each author’s name and the title of the recognized book is hand-lettered in the purple “sticky note” (actually printed as part of the artwork) at bottom right.

During the design process, Smillie wrote, “For the print, I am envisioning that the black background, a little bit of shadow in the paper, the blue lines and one red line will be risograph printed…The print will have a feeling of material translation, similar to the watercolor rendering of various editions of The Left Hand of Darkness [a reference to Smillie’s “Reflecting Light Into The Unshadow” series]. The text block and pink post-it note will be letterpress printed. The letterpress printing will not be deeply debossed, but the letterpress will create a crisp, precise, legible text block…Letterpress printing the post-it will provide a stable, consistent ground for the name to be written into.”

Pixel Scroll 10/14/22 The Sky Was Full Of Scrolls

(1) DANGER MAN. Max Gladstone holds forth about “The Wolfeman” at The Third Place.

Gene Wolfe is a tricky writer to discuss.

For a certain type of reader (generally but not exclusively a reader of science fiction), he is The Author. He is axiomatically intelligent and referential. His texts are not merely without flaw—they are without accident, each element load-bearing. If any piece of text (or elision) in a Gene Wolfe novel could be read to suggest vast churning implications invisible to the casual reader, it has definitely been read that way by someone on the internet. The terrifying thing is that many of these readings are not wrong. They’re not even generous. They are sometimes, even often, the readings that most account for the facts of the text.

And this is why talking about his books and stories feels dangerous. To discuss, say, Wolfe’s PEACE, which I recently finished re-reading, one must put forth some theories about what PEACE is, what’s happening both in the book and between the lines of this book. This raises two risks.

First, one risks short-circuiting another reader’s tremendous and eerie process of discovery. (Even as I write this very general description, I worry: am I doing the literary equivalent of recommending a movie by saying it “has a great twist”? But PEACE isn’t about twists. It’s about the experience of realizing how much attention one should pay. More on this in a bit.)

Second, when one puts forth a theory, one risks being wrong….

(2) CAN*CON LEADERSHIP CHANGE. Derek Künsken is stepping down after nearly 11 years as Co-Chair of Can*Con, Ottawa’s literary scifi and fantasy conference. The conference has won Canadian national awards and is the major con in Eastern Canada. Marie Bilodeau, currently co-chair, will assume the chair role solo. “A Message from Derek Künsken, Programming Co-Chair: Don’t worry, I left Marie the Keys, or Hayden was right again”.

… Marie will lead the conference to its next successes and glories. She’s got a great team, great ideas and she’s a community leader I would follow anywhere. I’ll remain a member of the board of directors, and I’ll suggest panel ideas from time to time and I’ll apply to be on programming and see if they take me…

(3) MASKED AND UNMASKED IN ABUNDANCE. “Fans Come Roaring Back to New York Comic Con 2022”Publishers Weekly gives its assessment.

New York Comic Con returned to the Javits Center October 6-9 at full strength for 2022. The event drew 200,000 attendees, according to a spokesperson for ReedPop, the show organizer.

The show floor was crammed with enthusiastic fans of media and with cosplayers, who enjoyed elaborate displays from mostly manga and toy companies. However, the show floor was not crammed with mask-wearing attendees. Despite a mandate from ReedPop that masks would be required—and volunteers handing them out at the door—enforcement was lax, with less than 50% of the crowd wearing one at many times. Compliance was similarly mixed among booth workers and creators who set up displays. Although some booth workers were vocal on social media and in-person about their alarm over the lack of Covid masking protocols, many workers behind tables were unmasked most of the time as well.

Whether NYCC will be another super spreader event, like some recent pop culture events, remains to be seen, but it was clear that the general public anxiety over Covid is receding in this new and more complacent era….

(4) A LEARNEDLEAGUE THROWBACK. Courtesy of David Goldfarb.

Question 2 of match day 18 of LearnedLeague season 87, in December of 2020 asked us:

Kindred, the Parable/Earthseed series, and Bloodchild and Other Stories are well-known works of what Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American author, a “godmother of Afrofuturism” who became in 1995 the first science fiction author to be granted a MacArthur fellowship?

The answer of course is Octavia E. Butler. 32% of players got this right league-wide, with the most common wrong answer being Ursula K. LeGuin (perhaps some people confused “Earthseed” with “Earthsea”).

(5) GET IT ON THE CALENDAR. The winner of the 2022 Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction will be named on October 21 in a virtual event hosted by actor and author Anthony Rapp. There will be readings from the authors of the nine shortlisted books before they reveal the inaugural prize winner.

(6) GENRE SHOPPING. Netflix merch can be bought here: “Vecna comes to the Grove as Netflix debuts pop-up store” in the Los Angeles Times.

A life-sized version of Vecna from the popular sci-fi series “Stranger Things ” and Queen Charlotte’s throne from drama “Bridgerton” are coming to the Grove.

The photo opportunities are part of Netflix’s new store opening Thursday at the L.A. shopping center.

Inside the 10,000-square-foot space, fans will be able to buy merchandise related to popular Netflix shows including the dollhouse from “Gabby’s Dollhouse,” Funko collectible figures from “Squid Game” and “Stranger Things”-related clothing, such as a Hellfire Club raglan shirt or Palace Arcade hoodie.

The store will be open from Thursday until Jan. 6….

(7) TAKE THE CASH AND LET THE CREDIT GO. AbeBooks shared the 15 “Most expensive sales from July to September 2022”. There are many sf and fantasy works among them.

#4 — The Dark Tower by Stephen King – $24,000

No introductions are necessary for Mr King, who released a new novel called Fairy Tale in September. These are the nine volumes of King’s Dark Tower fantasy series published by Donald M. Grant, and they have all been signed by the author and their respective illustrator. The nine volumes are Dark Tower: Gunslinger (published in 1982), The Drawing of the Three (1987), The Wastelands (1991), Wizard and Glass (1997), Wolves of the Calla (2003), Song of Susannah (2004), The Dark Tower (2004), The Little Sisters of Eluria (2008), and The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012). All copies are first editions.

#6 — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – $21,275

This is the 1968 US first edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep published by Doubleday. First editions of this influential science fiction book, which inspired the Blade Runner movies, are scarce.

This book was sold with an original letter to Venom Magazine typed and signed by Philip K Dick. In the letter, which was also published in The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1980-1982, Dick asks if he can review his own work. The third part of this sale is Dick’s typed humorous review of his own book, The Divine Invasion.

#7 — A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne – $20,000

An 1874 first American edition of A Journey to the Center of the Earth, published by Scribner Armstrong and Co, with a laid-in author signature. Verne’s novel imagines an underground world inhabited by prehistoric creatures where travel is possible via volcanic tubes.

#9 — Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne – $17,500

An 1873 first edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas published by James R. Osgood. This underwater adventure story first appeared in serial form in a French periodical in 1871. Verne’s depiction of the Nautilus correctly foresaw the impact that submarines would have on the maritime world, starting in World War I when both Germany and Britain used submarines to sink naval and merchant shipping.

#11 — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – $12,500

A 1997 Bloomsbury first edition fourth printing of the first Harry Potter book, signed by J.K. Rowling on the front free endpaper with its original dust jacket. This copy includes a rare Harry Potter postcard signed by the author.

#13 — A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – $12,000

An 1843 first edition first printing published by Chapman & Hall bound in half maroon morocco letter. A Christmas Carol was published on December 19 in 1843 and became an instant bestseller. A novella, this book helped craft the modern version of Christmas with its focus on family, food, and giving. Scrooge has entered the lexicon for anyone who is tight-fisted. AbeBooks sold another first edition of this book, accompanied by a Dickens letter, earlier in 2022 for $20,000.

(8) ROBBIE COLTRANE (1950-2022). The Scots actor Robbie Coltrane, famed as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, who also starred in the British crime drama Cracker, died October 14 at the age of 72. The cause of death was not disclosed. The Hollywood Reporter’s profile includes more genre roles.

…Coltrane’s early TV credits include Flash Gordon, Blackadder and Keep It in the Family. His other comedy credits included series like A Kick Up the Eighties, The Comic Strip and Alfresco as he became a mainstay on British TV screens.

Coltrane’s breakout role was playing Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald, an anti-social criminal psychologist with a gift for solving crimes, in Jimmy McGovern’s Cracker series, which ran over 25 episodes between 1993 and 2006.

That BAFTA-winning performance led Coltrane to roles in two James Bond films as he played Valentin Zukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough…. 

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1983 [By Cat Eldridge.] Something Wicked This Way Comes film (1983)

Look, it’s Autumn, isn’t it? Therefore shouldn’t we talk about one of the Autumnal fantasy films that got done? So let’s converse about Something Wicked This Way Comes which came out thirty-nine years ago though I admit not at this time of year as inexplicably the Mouse released it in April.

It was based as you know upon the Ray Bradbury novel that Simon & Schuster published twenty-one years previously with a cover by Gray Fox.  To my utter amazement, it won absolutely no Awards. Pity that. It has however been continuously in print ever since. Yes, I think it’s a spectacular piece of writing perfectly suited to the season. 

Usually I find films based on works I loved somewhat of letdown but not here as Bradbury wrote the script and a decent amount of his script survived the Mouse mangling it. Yes Bradbury and Mouse became the Kilkenny Cats rather quickly. 

It was directed by Jack Clayton whose only previous film I recognize is The Great Gatsby which was a phenomenal movie. He was a British film director and producer who specialized in bringing literary works to the screen such as The Innocents, so Something Wicked This Way Comes wasn’t really in his wheelhouse. 

It had an amazing cast of these adults: Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd and Pam Grier, plus Vidal Peterson and Shawn Carson as the most important characters here, the boys.  

If you haven’t read or seen it, a deep boo on you as I’m not discussing the story. Let’s just say Bradbury did a wonderful job of moving it from text to video even if the Mouse messed with it which they did. Bad Mouse.. 

Bradbury explains in Zen in the Art of Writing that it started as ‘The Black Ferris’ a 3,000-word story, published in Weird Tales (1948), about two youngsters who suspect there is something peculiar about the carnival that comes to town. The story became a seventy-page screen treatment, Dark Carnival (1958), a project for Gene Kelly to direct. Unproduced, the treatment became a novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962); the novel, a screenplay (1971), then a second screenplay (1976), and… at last, a film.

Bradbury wanted either Peter O’Toole and Christopher Lee to play Mr. Dark. Lee I can see, but O’Toole? However, the Mouse went as cheap as possible and cast someone who wasn’t well known, so hence Jonathan Pryce. This was five years before he shows up in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

It bombed at the box office earning just eight million against a twenty million budget. Ouch. 

The film was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II where Return of the Jedi won. 

Oddly enough it is not streaming on Disney +. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau!  He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. He wasn’t a bad Sherlock either. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 76. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 73. And then there are those who just disappear.  He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was published in Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 69. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no such series or show. The usual suspects have a goodly number of story collections available for him.
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 69. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. 
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 59. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
  • Born October 14, 1968 Robert C. Cooper, 54. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Drabble has an unexpected definition of a horror movie.
  • Heart of the City shows friends arguing which date in October deserves to be celebrated.

(12) BACKSTORY IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] More than 3-1/2 decades after the release of Aliens, one badass Latinx is getting their backstory told. “Pvt. Vasquez from ‘Aliens’ gets her own story in new novel” at Axios.

Pvt. Vasquez, the fictional Latina member of the U.S. Colonial Marine Corps in the 1986 hit sci-fi movie “Aliens,” is getting a backstory in a new novel.

The big picture: The November U.S. release of “Aliens: Vasquez” by Violet Castro comes as writers and artists of color increasingly reimagine minor characters of color from popular sci-fi films.

Background: Castro, a Mexican American writer from San Antonio, Texas, who now lives in London, told Axios she pitched the idea for the book a few months ago after thinking about the big influence the character had in such a small role.

  • “It was one of the few depictions that kind of broke the mold of a domestic worker, farm worker, or gangbanger,” Castro said.
  • “I saw her and I was like, wow, look at this brown woman. She has this bandana and she’s unapologetic about who she is.”…

The intrigue: Castro said that, for her book, she reimagined Vasquez as someone linked to the soldaderas — the women who took up arms during the Mexican Revolution….

(13) STRANGE CHOW. [Item by Scott Edelman.] Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is now selling Stranger Things-themed doughnuts. They have locations in Washington, D.C. and Falls Church, VA.

(14) JEOPARDY! On tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!, the Final Jeopardy category was “Authors.”

Answer: Featuring a statue of a man escaping his grave, his tomb in Amiens contrasts with the title of his 1864 adventure novel.

Wrong questions: Who is Dumas (two contestants) and Who is Lovecraft?

Correct question: Who is Jules Verne?

Andrew Porter, who sent this item, says he remembers the image from a 1920s issue of Amazing Stories.

(15) TRAIL BLAZER. In Science, “Fireball is traced to far edge of Solar System”. “Rocky meteor suggests distant cloud of comets also contains asteroids.”

….Even if the Oort Cloud is just 1% rocky, explaining how these objects got there from the asteroid belt will challenge theorists, says Alan Jackson, a planetary astronomer at Arizona State University, Tempe. He says the finding could lend support to one hypothesis called the Grand Tack, which suggests that just 3 million years after the Solar System’s birth, Jupiter swooped inward toward the Sun, nearly to Earth’s orbit, before moving back out to near to its current position…

(16) THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES. Netflix dropped this new trailer for Enola Holmes 2.

Fresh off the triumph of solving her first case, Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) follows in the footsteps of her famous brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill), and opens her own agency — only to find that life as a female detective-for-hire isn’t as easy as it seems. Resigned to accepting the cold realities of adulthood, she is about to close shop when a penniless matchstick girl offers Enola her first official job: to find her missing sister. But this case proves to be far more puzzling than expected, as Enola is thrown into a dangerous new world — from London’s sinister factories and colorful music halls, to the highest echelons of society and 221B Baker Street itself. As the sparks of a deadly conspiracy ignite, Enola must call upon the help of friends — and Sherlock himself — to unravel her mystery. The game, it seems, has found its feet again!

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer thinks they can split the second Deathly Hallows Movie in Half, and split it again, but the producer convinces him that is a very bad idea.  Once again, the writer says, “when the story demands it, Harry Potter gets visions” that move the story forward. And when Harry Potter gets another narrow escape, the producer says, “these are kind of weird movies, aren’t they?”

 [Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Scott Edelman, Derek Künsken, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction Shortlist

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Ursula K. Le Guin Trust today announced the Shortlist for the Inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction. The prize honors a book-length work of imaginative fiction with $25,000. The nine shortlisted books will be considered by a panel of five jurors—adrienne maree brown, Becky Chambers, Molly Gloss, David Mitchell, and Luis Alberto Urrea. The winner will be announced later this year on October 21, Ursula K. Le Guin’s birthday. 

Here is the Shortlist for the 2022 Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction.

  • After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang (Stelliform Press)
  • Appleseed by Matt Bell (Custom House)
  • Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom Publishing)
  • The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitken (New Directions)
  • The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber (Graywolf Press)
  • How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (William Morrow)
  • The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom Publishing)
  • A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
  • Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (Soho Teen)

The Prize will be given to a writer whose work reflects the concepts and ideas that are central to Le Guin’s own work, which include (but are not limited to) hope, equity, and freedom; non-violence and alternatives to conflict; and a holistic view of humanity’s place in the natural world.

Since Le Guin’s death in January, 2018, her son and literary executor, Theo Downes-Le Guin has been thinking of ways to honor his mother’s work, and share her art and ideas with a new generation of readers and writers. Downes-Le Guin acknowledged the challenge of designing a prize in honor of a writer who was outspokenly critical of them. And yet, a prize seemed a fitting legacy because, at the same time, Downes-Le Guin noted, “She certainly believed in giving money directly to writers, with no strings attached, for them to use however they wished to. To create the space and the opportunity to write.” 

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 4/23/22 Our Exorcist Was Able To Dispossess Our Possessed Tesla Before It Got Repossessed

(1) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Please keep File 770 contributor Steve Vertlieb in mind on Monday, April 25 when he will be having major heart surgery. He explained to Facebook friends:

…With the impending replacement of not one, but both heart valves … Atrial and Mitral … as well as stopping the continuing dripping of blood into my heart cavity … and stitching back together a hole in my heart … I’m trusting in God, the fates, and the grateful prayer support of so many countless friends and loved ones to overcome this….

(2) DOUBLE-OH. Luke Poling looks at YA James Bond pastiches, including one where the teenage Bond fights a pirate named “Walker D. Plank.” “You Know, For Kids! The History of a Teenage James Bond” at CrimeReads. Even YA horror legend R.L. Stine has written one, Win, Place or Die.

When you think of the British agent with a license to kill, seducing his way around the world, keeping the rest of us safe, you likely don’t think of children. This is probably a good thing since the source novels are most definitely of their era, rife with casual sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia and rape. While the films do a little better in some of these areas, they’re not exactly blameless.

It’s for these reasons that perhaps the idea of a teenage Bond isn’t something that instantly springs to mind as a great idea. Yet, as you’ll see, it’s been a long sought after market that the keepers of the Bond legacy have repeatedly tried to reach, with varying degrees of success….

(3) LE GUIN PRIZE DEADLINE. You have until midnight April 30 (Pacific time) to nominate for this year’s Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction. Click here for the nomination form and eligibility criteria. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize. The members of the 2022 jury are discussed here.

(4) THE FAN FROM UNCLES. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s tribute to Independent Bookstore Day includes “The return of the Uncles and other good news”.

…And Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstore — the deeply beloved science fiction and mystery store owned by Don Blyly — has found a new home. The “uncles,” as the store is known, burned during the unrest that took place in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd. Now, two years on, the store will reopen at 2716 E. 31st St., just a half-block away from Moon Palace Bookstore….

(5) NOTHING IS CERTAIN BUT DEATH AND TAXONOMY. Rob Thornton has a question about something he noticed at the New York Times Book Review.

They said that the column by Amal El-Mohtar was about ”science fiction and fantasy” but said in a headline that Emily St. John Mandel’s new (and acceptable) novel was “speculative fiction.”

Is NYTBR trying to split the genre into “pulp” (genre) and “literary” branches?

(6) FAN DISSERVICE. Netflix’s financial setback, mentioned here the other day, was only to be expected says The Mary Sue: “No One Is Surprised That Netflix Lost 200,000 Subscribers in The First Quarter”.

In the first quarter of 2022 (Janurary 1 to March 31), Netflix lost a net 200,000 subscribers, making it the first time in over a decade that the streaming service didn’t grow in subscriptions. If this weren’t bad enough, the loss was on the backdrop of Netflix projecting a 2,500,000 subscriber gain. Thier stock dropped roughly 30% in the last 24-ish hours. While Netflix continues to provide a handful of favorably received properties like BridgertonThe CrownSquid Game, and more, this drop was bound to happen. Everyone has beef with the company.

Stacking controversies from platforming bigoted comedians like Dave Chappelle (proud TERF), pay disparities, choosing to cancel fan-favorite content over bland hate-watched content, region-locked content, creepy cover art changes, and consistently colorist casting choices regarding Black women haven’t helped. A whole wiki page (divided into five categories) exists documenting Netflix criticism. To be very clear, not all of these grievances are equal. However, it does show that many people have issues with the company and the content for a broad range of reasons.

(7) I’M NOT THE MAN THEY THINK I AM AT HOME. Short-lived CNN+ is shutting down at the end of the month — not fast enough to prevent Chris Wallace from annoying the world’s most famous sci-fi celebrity: “Shatner Jokes He’ll Kill Chris Wallace Over Rocket Man Clip” at Mediaite.

… Fans of Shatner are probably well-acquainted with Shatner’s dramatic interpretation of “Rocket Man” at the January 20, 1978. Saturn Awards, also called the Science Fiction Film Awards. For the uninitiated:

Mr. Shatner was a guest of Mr. Wallace on the latest episode of the CNN+ series Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, and had a strange reaction to being confronted with the clip. He joked about torturing and killing Wallace for playing a very brief clip — then made the preposterous claim that he had been unaware the performance was being filmed at the time, even thought there were elements of the performance that couldn’t possibly have been incorporated in a non-televised setting:

MR. WALLACE: I want to explore these spoken word albums, and I get what exactly what you’re saying, it’s not quite singing. It’s not quite talking, but it’s you’re going to kill me for this. Nineteen…

MR. SHATNER: No, I would never kill you…. I’d torture you.

MR. WALLACE: …1978. I’m going to play… Here’s another spoken word album. Take a look. Okay.

MR. SHATNER: (video clip) Rocket Man. Burning out his fuse out here, a. I think it’s going to be a long, long time ’til touchdown bring me round again to find I’m not the man they think I am. Oh no, no, no. I’m a Rocket Man now.

MR. SHATNER: Now your audience is going to watch Chris die, as I kill you. (Wallace laughs) It was an award show…

(8) TOOL TIME. Christopher Barzak invites us to share “A Moment with Ellen Datlow” at Jenny Magazine, the Youngstown State University’s Student Literary Arts Association online literary magazine. In addition to talking about her professional work, Ellen answers questions what she collects. There are many photos of the items.

[CB] It made me wonder if you see the collecting and arrangement of these art objects as a curatorial process in the same way that you essentially collect and arrange stories for anthologies? Do the processes seem similar to you? At heart, is being an editor essentially being a collector or curator?

ED: Wow-you’re much more perceptive than I am. I’ve usually started collecting by discovering one weird/beautiful/perfect object, then deciding I want more of them or more like them. I love antiquing and going to yard/garage sales. The first tool I ever bought was something I found in London’s Jubilee market hall in Covent Garden. I had no idea what it was for and neither did the seller. I didn’t discover its use until more than twenty years after I acquired it, when Kaaron Warren and I collaborated on Tool Tales (a chapbook consisting of photographs of ten of my tools/odd objects and the micro fictions she wrote about each one. A reader was able to match the item on ebay: Antique Nipper- Tool-Pliers-Adjust-Teeth-Saw-Hacksaw.

I prefer to find objects randomly, in-person. I started collecting native American fetish animals while visiting the American Southwest, then alas, discovered ebay and started buying way too many fetishes that way. But it’s not as satisfying. …

(9) ART FOR NEW LOTR EDITION. Artist Alan Lee fills in Literary Hub readers about the challenges: “Alan Lee on Illustrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

…I was asked to produce fifty watercolors for the single-volume edition. The question of which episodes I should choose as subjects, which could have occupied me for a good part of the allotted time, was more easily settled; the color plates were to be printed on separate sheets and bound around alternating signatures of text pages, which meant that the illustrations would fall between every thirty-two pages of text.

This limitation turned out to be a blessing; it was important for me that every illustration should relate immediately to the text on the opposite page to create a harmony between story and image, and it also relieved me of the obligation to represent all the dramatic high points of the tale. This meant that I could concentrate more on scene setting and atmosphere building, and creating some quieter moments.

My feeling was that it would be better to add detail and color to those parts which the author had not described in great depth than to try to echo his powerful storytelling. That said, there are very few pages in The Lord of the Rings where nothing remarkable is happening! …

You can admire examples of Lee’s work in a promotional video from The Folio Society at the link.

(10) TODAY’S DAY.

April 23 is Impossible Astronaut Day

The unofficial annual holiday celebrates the day in 2011 when the first episode of the sixth season of the series was aired in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-eight years ago on ABC, Gene Roddenberry’s Planet Earth film first aired. It was intended to be a pilot for a new weekly television series but that was not to be. 

It was written by Roddenberry and Juanita Bartlett, who had this point had no genre experience but later on would be the Executive Producer on many episodes of The Greatest American Hero and even wrote a handful of them. 

It starred John Saxon as Dylan Hunt. Yes Dylan Hunt. If you remember, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda series will be fronted by Kevin Sorbo playing Dylan Hunt. Roddenberry was famous, or infamous for reusing almost everything. The previous pilot was Genesis II, and it featured many of the concepts and characters later redeveloped and mostly recast in this film.

So how was it received? Comic Mix correctly noted I think that “As a concept, it’s not bad. The execution, from Samuel A. Peebles’ script on down, is where the pilot film gets into trouble. Peebles’ writing was stiff, and whatever rewriting Roddenberry did, didn’t help. The characters are types, never fully fleshed out, and Cord’s heroic role is blunted by his cold, aloof performance (making him better suited as Airwolf’s Archangel a few years later).” 

And Moria’s Reviews says of it that “Planet Earth tends to represent Gene Roddenberry at his preachy worst. Genesis II, when it came down to it, was only a variant on the basic premise of Buck Rogers (1939) about a man from the present-day waking up in the future and showing people how things should be done with a little 20th Century knowhow and individualism. That is to say, Genesis II was a Buck Rogers with Gene Roddenberry’s social utopianism added to the mix.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a thirty percent rating.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 23, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
  • Born April 23, 1923 Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels such as The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. His only Hugo was at Solacon (1958) for his “Or All the Seas with Oysters” short story. During his tenure as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1962-1965) it won the Best Professional Magazine Hugo (1963) and was nominated twice more at Pacificon II (1964) and Loncon II (1965). He was honored with the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1986. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 23, 1935 Tom Doherty, 87. Publisher of Ace Books who left there in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; both are now divisions of Macmillan Publishers, owned by Holtzbrinck Publishers. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field. He also partnered in the founding of Baen Books.
  • Born April 23, 1939 Lee Majors, 83. Here for his role as Colonel Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man. He reprised the role in The Bionic Woman.  Much later, he had a recurring role in Ash vs. Evil Dead as Brock Williams. In the new version of Thunderbirds Are Go, he voiced Jeff Tracy.  He shows up in Scrooged as himself.
  • Born April 23, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 67. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. His short story, “The Choice”, won a Sturgeon Award, and “Pasquale’s Angel” won a Sideways Award. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction.
  • Born April 23, 1956 Caroline Thompson, 66. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward ScissorhandsThe Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. And she wrote the screenplay for the television film, Snow White: The Fairest of Them All.
  • Born April 23, 1962 John Hannah, 60. Here for being Jonathan Carnahan in The MummyThe Mummy Returns, and there was apparently a third film as well though let’s not talk about it please, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In a more meaty role, he was the title characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of late he’s been Holden Radcliffe on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series.
  • Born April 23, 1973 Naomi Kritzer, 49. I saw that her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” had been a Hugo Award winner at MidAmeriCon II, so I went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories off Apple Books so I could read it. It was superb as was Catfishing on CatNet which is nominated for a Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book at this year’s Hugos. It’s since been expanded continued in two more novels, Catfishing on CatNet and the Chaos on Catnet. DisCon III saw her nominated for two Hugos, one for her “Monster” novelette and one for her most excellent “Little Free Library” short story. She also picked up a nomination at Dublin 2019 for her “The Thing About Ghost Stories” novelette. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SUMMERTIME. “Archie Comics Brings a Queer Character to Riverdale” reports the New York Times.

The world of Riverdale, the comic book home of the redheaded Archie Andrews and friends, will expand in June with the introduction of Eliza Han.

The new character, created by the writer Tee Franklin and the artist Dan Parent, is queer and biracial. She meets the Riverdale gang in a summer special comic when she visits Harper Lodge, a cousin of Veronica — for whom she has romantic feelings, something Eliza has in common with Reggie Mantle. Oh, teenage love!

“The best Archie characters are the ones you can drop in and have them create a little fun chaos,” Mike Pellerito, the editor in chief of Archie Comic Publications, said in a telephone interview. “Eliza is another character that you can fall in love with very easily — and there’s a lot more to be revealed about the character besides her sexuality.”

Eliza also has a fuller figure, something new for Archie, Pellerito said, a move to have more characters people can relate to. “Body diversity is something we don’t tackle a ton of,” Pellerito said….

(15) CARTOONIST PROFILED. Eye on Design shows how “The Cartoonist Seth Has Built a Real Life Entirely Around His Fictional Work”.

…Inspired by The New Yorker cover artists of the mid-century, Seth made a name for himself with semi-autobiographical literary comics rendered in that classic style, most notably his Palookaville series, including It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken and the acclaimed Clyde Fans. Perhaps this encroaching modern world is what he’s guarding against in his own home in Guelph’s historic neighborhood, The Ward. Many curtains are drawn, and custom stained glass windows with the words Inkwell’s End and Nothing Lasts set in beautiful hues, with an illustration of the house—pull you deeper into this world as they seal off the one outside.

…The house. Seth sees it as an art project that’s not only directly connected to his work, but to the city of Guelph and the province that runs in his blood. For one, electrical towers are a running theme, depicted in the ironwork outside, in one of the stained glass windows, in the sculptures on the first floor, even in the shower tiles; Seth regards them as a central image of Ontario. Elsewhere, the nearby train bridge and the two towers of Guelph’s basilica can be spotted in cabinetry masterfully crafted by Seth’s father-in-law. 

His comic work lives and breathes here, too. For fans, it’s like walking into a museum of the creator’s mind. In the parlor alone there’s a light-up ceramic sculpture of Kao-Kuk, an Inuit astronaut from his book The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. There’s a trio of nesting cookie jar sculptures of the titular character from George Sprott (1894–1975), a series he originally created for The New York Times Magazine; he removes the top of one to reveal a younger Sprott within, which is then removed to reveal Sprott as a child. There are dolls of all the characters from Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World….

(16) PLUS ÇA CLIMATE CHANGE. William McKibben’s doom-sounding article “The End of Nature” sounds like it could have been published this week, but The New Yorker first ran it in 1989.

…In other words, our sense of an unlimited future, which is drawn from that apparently bottomless well of the past, is a delusion. True, evolution, grinding on ever so slowly, has taken billions of years to create us from slime, but that does not mean that time always moves so ponderously. Over a lifetime or a decade or a year, big and impersonal and dramatic changes can take place. We have accepted the idea that continents can drift in the course of aeons, or that continents can die in a nuclear second. But normal time seems to us immune from such huge changes. It isn’t, though. In the last three decades, for example, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased more than ten per cent, from about three hundred and fifteen parts per million to about three hundred and fifty parts per million. In the last decade, an immense “hole” in the ozone layer has opened up above the South Pole each fall, and, according to the Worldwatch Institute, the percentage of West German forests damaged by acid rain has risen from less than ten per cent to more than fifty per cent. Last year, for perhaps the first time since that starved Pilgrim winter at Plymouth, America consumed more grain than it grew. Burroughs again: “One summer day, while I was walking along the country road on the farm where I was born, a section of the stone wall opposite me, and not more than three or four yards distant, suddenly fell down. Amid the general stillness and immobility about me, the effect was quite startling. . . . It was the sudden summing-up of half a century or more of atomic changes in the material of the wall. A grain or two of sand yielded to the pressure of long years, and gravity did the rest.”…

…Soon Thoreau will make no sense. And when that happens the end of nature, which began with our alteration of the atmosphere and continued with the responses of the planetary managers and the genetic engineers, will be final. The loss of memory will be the eternal loss of meaning…

(17) WHISKEY BRAVO TANGO. This is what Hollywood might call a successful product placement. “Fort Collins whiskey gets TV cameo, now has unexpected ‘Star Trek’ following” at Yahoo!

Two weeks ago NOCO Distillery founder and master blender Sebastien Gavillet was going about his normal life. Now he’s commissioning custom bottle corks affixed with Star Trek figurines.

Life — and, in Gavillet’s case, some opportune product placement — sure comes at you fast.

It all started April 6, when a bottle of the Fort Collins distillery’s “Bourbon II” whiskey appeared on the latest season of Paramount+ series “Star Trek: Picard.”

The bottle, which was shown during a bar scene in episode six, appeared on screen for a few seconds — just long enough for fans to pause and make out its name, batch, cask, bottle numbers, the distillery’s logo and hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado.

“I was floored,” said Gavillet, who woke up to a flurry of text messages and calls after the episode dropped on the streaming service.

NOCO Distillery had dipped its toes in product placement thanks to Mark McFann, a distillery customer and owner of Cast a Long Shadow, a Fort Collins-based product placement company that’s had placements in everything from “Avengers” movies to HBO’s “Westworld” and, now, “Star Trek: Picard,” McFann said.

Seeing it as an interesting marketing opportunity, Gavillet said NOCO Distillery also pursued small placements on Netflix’s “Lucifer,” the new Ben Affleck movie “Deep Water” and Peacock’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reboot, “Bel-Air.”

While most of NOCO Distillery’s previous product placements were minor — “if you don’t know it’s there, you don’t really see it,” Gavillet explained — Bourbon II’s extended appearance on “Star Trek: Picard” was “very unique,” he said….

Those who want to order a bottle of the next run are invited to enter their contact info here: startrekpicard (nocodistillery.com).

(18) LANSDALE Q&A. Joe R. Lansdale talks Born for Trouble and more with Michelle Souliere of the Green Hand Bookshop in Portland, Maine. Born for Trouble: The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard was released March 21.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2022 Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction Taking Nominations

Ursula K. Le Guin

All are welcome to nominate eligible work for the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction, an annual $25,000 cash prize given to a writer for a single work of imaginative fiction. Nominations for the prize are open from February 1, 2022, to April 30, 2022.

The Prize will be given to a writer whose work reflects the concepts and ideas that are central to Ursula’s own work, which include (but are not limited to): hope, equity, and freedom; non-violence and alternatives to conflict; and a holistic view of humanity’s place in the natural world.

To be eligible for the 2022 Prize, a book must also be:

  • A book-length work of imaginative fiction written by a single author.
  • Published in the U.S. in English or in translation to English.
  • Published between May 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022.

The Prize also gives weight to those writers whose access to resources, due to race, gender, age, class or other factors, may be limited; who are working outside of institutional frameworks such as MFA programs; who live outside of cultural centers such as New York; and who have not yet been widely recognized for their work.

You can read more about the prize and its eligibility requirements here.

The 2022 award jury members are:

  • adrienne maree brown is the author of Grievers (the first in her novella series with the Black Dawn imprint), Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Meditation, We Will Not Cancel Us and Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. She is the co-host of the How to Survive the End of the World and Octavia’s Parables podcasts. adrienne is rooted in Durham.
  • Becky Chambers is a science fiction author, and is best known for her Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series. Her books have also been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, among others. Her latest works are The Galaxy, and The Ground Within (the fourth and final Wayfarers novel), and A Psalm for the Wild-Built (the first of her Monk and Robot novellas). She lives with her wife in Northern California.
  • Molly Gloss is the author of five novels as well as the story collection Unforeseen. Her awards include an Oregon Book Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, the PEN West Fiction Prize, the James Tiptree Jr. Award; a Theodore Sturgeon Award for short fiction; and a Whiting Writers Award. She writes both realist and science fiction, and her work in both genres often concerns the landscape, history and mythology of the American West.
  • David Mitchell is a British-Irish writer born in 1969. He has been nominated for the Booker Prize five times and his work has appeared in over 30 languages. With KA Yoshida, he translated into English the bestselling autism memoir, The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. His 2014 novel The Bone Clocks won the World Fantasy Award. His 2016 novel, From Me Flows What You Call Time, was entrusted to the Future Library Project and will not be published until 2114. His screenwriting credits include the upcoming Matrix 4 film. He lives in West Cork, Ireland.
  • Luis Alberto Urrea, a Guggenheim Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist, is the author of 18 books, winning numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, though he says, “I am more interested in bridges, not borders.” The Devil’s Highway, Urrea’s 2004 non-fiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, won the Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize. His latest novel, The House of Broken Angels, was a 2018 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He won an American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction award for his collection of short stories, The Water Museum, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Urrea’s novel Into the Beautiful North is a Big Read selection of the National Endowment of the Arts. He is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

[Based on a press release.]

Ursula K Le Guin Prize for Fiction Will Launch in 2022

The Ursula K. Le Guin Literary Trust today announced the creation of the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction, which will be given for the first time in 2022.

The $25,000 cash prize will be given to a writer for a single book-length work of imaginative fiction. The Trust’s press release says “the award is intended to recognize those writers she spoke of in her 2014 National Book Awards speech—realists of a larger reality, who can imagine real grounds for hope and see alternatives to how we live now.” The first prize will be awarded on October 21, 2022. October 21st was Ursula K. Le Guin’s birthday.

Ursula K. Le Guin. Photo by Eileen Gunn.

Le Guin was the winner of six Nebula Awards, seven Hugo Awards, was named a SFWA Grand Master, and in 2014 she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  

Theo Downes-Le Guin, her son and literary executor, said, “Many will appreciate an irony in that Ursula herself was suspicious of literary awards and prizes. At the same time, she recognized their genuine value in honoring a writer and increasing visibility of good, undervalued writing. She also knew that a bit of money, at the right moment and in the right spirit, can be a turning point in a writer’s ability to continue writing. I hope the Prize will provide meaningful help and recognition to writers who might otherwise not receive it.”

The guidelines for eligibility are:


The Prize will be given to a writer whose work reflects the concepts and ideas that were central to Ursula’s own work, including but certainly not limited to: hope, equity, and freedom; non-violence and alternatives to conflict; and a holistic view of humanity’s place in the natural world.

To be eligible for the 2022 Prize, a book must also be:

  • A book-length work of imaginative fiction written by a single author.
  • Published in the U.S. in English or in translation to English. (In the case of a translated work winning the Prize, the cash prize will be equally divided between author and translator.)
  • Published in 2022.

A writer may receive the Prize only once.

The Prize also gives weight to those writers whose access to resources, due to race, gender, age, class or other factors, may be limited; who are working outside of institutional frameworks such as MFA programs; who live outside of cultural centers such as New York; and who have not yet been widely recognized for their work.


The nomination process for the prize is open to all; readers, authors, booksellers, publishers, librarians, and anyone else can nominate work they believe fits the prize criteria. The Trust will create a shortlist of finalists from the nominated works, and a panel of five jurors will read the shortlisted works.

The nomination period for the 2022 Prize will begin February 1, 2022, and full details are available at ursulakleguin.com/prize, where readers can also sign up to be notified when nominations open.

The inaugural year’s jurors are adrienne maree brown (Grievers); Becky Chambers (A Psalm for the Wild-Built); Molly Gloss (Unforseen); David Mitchell (Utopia Avenue); and Luis Alberto Urrea, (The House of Broken Angels).

David Mitchell said, “Ursula Le Guin’s visionary fiction entered my head when I was young and has never left. Her novels and stories defined, in part, my understanding of what fiction can do, should do, and why. I am deeply honoured to be a juror in the inaugural year of a literary prize created in Ursula’s memory, and I look forward to encountering new works of imaginative fiction which, like Ursula’s, glow in the dark.”

“Ursula Le Guin’s books are what made my younger self want to become a science fiction writer, so I consider it a huge honor to be part of the jury for this prize,” said Becky Chambers. “Fictional futures that give us something to point our compasses toward are a vital thing, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to help celebrate the voices continuing that work.”

[Based on a press release. Via Locus Online.]