(1) NICHOLAS WHYTE TAKES ON 2021 HUGO & SITE SELECTION DUTIES. DisCon III’s new WSFS Division Head is Nicholas Whyte, who announced on Facebook he is taking the place of Jared Dashoff, who resigned in response to the committee’s internal handling of some new Hugo policies that have since been revoked.
… I have been appointed the new Division Head of the WSFS Division, which is the part of the Worldcon that admininsters the Hugo Awards, the Business Meeting which reviews the rules, and the Site Selection process for the 2023 Worldcon (currently contested between Chengdu, China and Memphis, Tennessee) – the three obligatory things that every Worldcon must do.
I was previously the Administrator of the Hugo Awards in 2017 and 2019, and one of the deputy administrators last year; and also Division Head for Promotions at the London Worldcon in 2014. I had not anticipated having any executive role this year, but life does not always work out as we expect.
The Hugos have had some reputational issues to deal with. Having fought off direct assault by ill-wishers in 2015 and 2016, some pretty significant mistakes were made more recently. Many of those were outside the immediate responsibility of the Hugo Administrators, including most notably the awful botching of last year’s Hugo ceremony and the Hugo Losers Party in 2019, and the hostile response from some in the community to the winners of the award for Best Related Work in both of those years (cases where I very much stand by the eligibility decisions that were made by teams that I was a part of).
I have made mistakes as well, and I hope that I have learned from them. In particular, it’s clear, not least from the problems that arose in the last few days, that the Hugos as a whole need to be less siloed and need to improve communication in both directions with the rest of the Worldcon and with the wider stakeholder community (as my work colleagues would put it). DisCon III had already started putting structures in place that would improve this side of things, and I look forward to working with those and building on them.
(2) OLDEST SFF BOOKSTORE. “At Bakka-Phoenix, the beloved sci-fi and fantasy bookstore, you can let your geek flag fly” in the Toronto Star.
In the summer of 1982, Margaret Atwood walked into Bakka Books looking for a copy of “The Hobbit.” Robert J. Sawyer, the celebrated Canadian science-fiction writer who was then working behind the counter, couldn’t believe his luck.
“It was pretty amazing — she knew all about the store and how we specialized in fantasy and science fiction,” Sawyer recalls of his encounter at the bookstore when it was in its first home on Queen Street near John Street.
Atwood’s visit to pick up some Tolkien was a testament to the role the bookstore (now named Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction and Fantasy Bookstore) plays in the literary community — not just in Toronto but beyond city borders too. On the cusp of celebrating its 50th anniversary, Bakka-Phoenix is the oldest sci-fi and fantasy specialty bookstore in the world. It’s long been a hub for aficionados of a genre that is rarely awarded more than a couple of shelves at most big-box bookstores. It’s the kind of bookstore that’s for fans of space operas and dystopian fiction, for readers hungry for the latest William Gibson saga and for those on the prowl for a rare Harlan Ellison story collection. “Bakka has always been a mecca to me,” says Sawyer.
(3) CAPTAIN JACK. Deadline reports “’Torchwood’ Star John Barrowman Touches Fans With Ianto Shrine Visit”
Barrowman posted a selfie in front of a shrine to the show’s Ianto Jones, who was Capt. Jack’s lover on the show and tragically died in his arms in a mini-series episode, Children of Earth.
On Friday, Barrowman paid an incognito visit to the impromptu shrine set up to honor the Ianto character in Cardiff, a site near where the series was filmed. The shrine is still very popular with fans 11 years after the television series death….
(4) EVERMORE PARK ALSO A COVID CASUALTY. [Item by David Doering.] As of yesterday, Evermore Park has cancelled any future performances at the park and has let the creative team go. Basically, the park will only be open for event rentals and strolling through. A sad loss due to Covid. Had it opened one year before or one year later, it might well have made it. “Evermore Park cancels winter production, dozens of employees laid off” at Yahoo!
Dozens of employees at Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove were laid off this week after it was decided there would be no winter-themed production, as well as other financial issues largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(5) A REAL FANNISH TED TALK.FANAC.org will host a fannish TED talk on Saturday, January 23 when author, editor, and past Worldcon chair Ted White will be interviewed by John D. Berry via Zoom. Time: 4 pm EST. Participants are limited. To get the Zoom log-in, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ted White will be talking about his long history in fandom and some of the interesting people he has encountered along the way. Ted is considered by many to be the current patriarch of fannish fandom. He has been active since the very early 1950s, both publishing fanzines and in clubs from Virginia to New York. We have more different fanzine titles of Ted’s on FANAC.org than any other faned. In addition to the many titles he edited on his own, he has published many collaborative fanzines going back to the 1950s.
Ted has also chaired several conventions, including the 1967 Worldcon – the last Worldcon in New York. As a professional in the science fiction field, he has written stories, articles, and novels. He was the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic magazines, and has written extensively about the music industry.
John D. Berry has known and worked with Ted for over 50 years so he knows the questions to ask. And Ted has said that no topic is off the table.
(6) HORROR CELEBRITY. “’Glamour Ghoul’ reveals Vampira, Hollywood’s ‘original Goth’” – Scott Bradfield reviews her biography in the Los Angeles Times.
You didn’t need to be a pubescent boy (or his father) to fully appreciate the charms of Maila Nurmi — a.k.a. Vampira — when she first appeared on late-night KABC-TV in the spring of 1954. But it didn’t hurt. She was tall, beautiful and frightening and she screamed like a banshee, climaxing each howl with a lewd lick of her full lips, which even in black-and-white glistened bloodily. Her pale body was almost a caricature of an hourglass figure, like one of those inexplicably bountiful women featured in the pinups of Joaquin Alberto Vargas, for whom Nurmi had modeled only a few years earlier. But what made Vampira most memorable was the jokes she slyly delivered at machine-gun speed: pop, pop, pop. She came heavily armed with oodles of sexy, macabre puns and she wasn’t afraid to use them.
In the early days, Vampira was asked by a Los Angeles Tribune columnist to tell a little bit about herself.
“There isn’t much to tell,” she said. “I was born in Lapland. … I have an owl for a house pet. I have a 19-inch waist, 38-inch bust and 36-inch hips. My earliest recollection as a child is that I always wanted to play with mice. I’m very anti-social. I simply detest people. I don’t like snakes; they eat spiders, and I’m very fond of spiders.” Asked how she felt about children, she didn’t miss a beat: “Oh yes … delicious.”…
(7) BATWOMAN SPEAKS OUT. “New Batwoman Javicia Leslie always wanted to be a superhero” she tells the Washington Post.
Last year, Javicia Leslie was asked on a podcast what she wanted her next acting role to be.
“I said I wanted to be a superhero,” Leslie recalled recently toThe Washington Post.
In July, just two months after stating her desire, the star of “God Friended Me” and “The Family Business”answered the call to a bat-signal put up in the sky just for her — finding out she was the new star of the CW’s “Batwoman.” The announcement instantly made her the new face of the network’s successful tradition of televised superheroes….
… One norm going away is the trademark black eye makeup that every on-screen bat-hero since Keaton has worn under the mask — Rose eventually parted with itand Leslie will also decline.
“Being a woman of color, it was important that we didn’t black out my eyes,” Leslie said. “We wanted to play with light instead of playing with darkness to help accentuate me being a black woman in playing this role.”
(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
Rod Serling wore Botany 500 brand suits.
— Source: Wikipedia
(9) BOB SURYAN OBIT. Bob Suryan died January 17. The Norwescon group made the announcement.
Bob Suryan has passed away today. He was very active in the Seattle Astronomical Society, and Norwescon (including chairing a couple of the conventions). He loved history and folks enjoyed chatting with him about all sorts of things. He had his ups and downs with health over the years and about a week and half ago was admitted to the hospital due to lots of pain. Sadly this turned out to be stage four lung cancer.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- January 17, 1992 — Freejack premiered. It starred Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins. The screenplay was written by Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett (who was also the producer) and Dan Gilroy. We consider it to be very loosely adapted from Robert Sheckley’s Immortality, Inc. (Great work. The serialised version as “Time Killer” in Galaxy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.) It was not at the time well-liked by either critics or reviewers, not is it currently liked among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes as it is carrying a 25% rating and there’s a lot who have expressed an opinion — over fourteen thousand so far. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- January 17, 1899 — Nevil Shute. Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.) (CE)
- Born January 17, 1923 – Alva Rogers. Changing the name of the prozine Astounding to Analog has been applauded by some; AR wrote a Requiem. Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XV. Co-chaired Baycon, the combined Westercon XXI and 26th Worldcon, famous in song and story. Co-edited Rhodomagnetic Digest 62, its last issue; AR’s wife Sidonie wrote a profile of Al haLevy and AR drew one. After SR died, AR married Andi Shechter, famous in song and story. (Died 1982) [JH]
- January 17, 1927 — Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-Spy, Mission: Impossible, Matrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes. (Died 2008.) (CE)
- Born January 17, 1930 – Dean Dickensheet. Active in LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.) during Shangri L’Affaires days, was the Bartender in The Musquite Kid Rides Again. Next door, edited Men and Malice; Great Crimes of San Francisco. His part in Coventry was a reminder of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Died 1983) [JH]
- January 17, 1931 — James Earl Jones, 90. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg. And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Flight of Dragons, Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. (CE)
- January 17, 1935 — Paul O. Williams. A poet who won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.) (CE)
- Born January 17, 1952 – Tom Deitz. A score of novels. Guest of Honor at Phoenixcon 8. Gainesville State College faculty member of the year, 2008. Phoenix Award. Co-founded local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) barony. (Died 2009) [JH]
- January 17, 1962 — Jim Carrey, 59. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name and which get a mere thirty-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler that I rather liked, then there’s the The Truman Show which was way cool. So may we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? (SHUDDER!) We settled last year that we think that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is genre. And I think that I’ll stop there this time. (CE)
- Born January 17, 1967 – Wendy Mass, Litt.D., age 54. Ray Bradbury volume for Authors Teens Love. Of course I put that first, what Website do you think this is? A score of novels for us, half as many others; nonfiction e.g. Stonehenge, John Cabot. Schneider Award for A Mango-Shaped Space. Has read The Phantom Tollbooth and The Secret Garden. [JH]
- January 17, 1970 — Genndy Tartakovsky, 50. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste. He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. (CE)
- Born January 17, 1971 – Nomi Burstein, age 50. Technical writer, freelance editor. Collects neologisms, e.g. jan howard finder’s “bytelock”. Fanzine, Burstzine (with husband Michael Burstein). Years of patiently fielding questions about Jewish observance. Co-founder (with MB) of the Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet. [JH]
- Born January 17, 1981 – Rachelle Rosenberg, age 40. Color artist for Marvel, e.g. this and this and this. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Don’t just snarf it down is The Far Side’s advice.
(13) YOU SAY YOU WANT AN EVOLUTION. “How ‘WandaVision’ Star Elizabeth Olsen Transformed Her Performance For Every Genre-Bending Episode”, a Q&A at Yahoo! Entertainment.
What was the difference between what you did the ’50s, versus when you were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s?
The ’70s women were allowed — it was almost like there is was a relaxation of women and social behavior, and so that would affect their voices and the tone that they can take. Instead of it being kind of a higher and level [like in the ’50s]. The ’70s, even though it’s this really strange “Brady Bunch” aspirational time in sitcom land, women were able to have a bit more control, something that grounded them a bit more in their voice. Then as we got into the ’80s, there were the teachable moments, and how sincere everything was, that was really funny. And then as we move into the arts and into the ’00s and the 2010s, the sitcom becomes really cynical. The humor, like “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Modern Family” becomes incredibly cynical. And that’s what we found comforting for whatever reason as a society.
It was fun when we were in this boot camp to not only chart the physical changes, as tools, but to also [discover] what comedy was for that time. “Rosemary’s Baby” is a film and “Brady Bunch” is on television, it doesn’t make any sense to me. But for whatever reason, that’s what that’s what the consumer was watching at home.
(14) UNDER THE LIGHTS. Cheryl Morgan fills in Cora Buhlert’s readers about her online zine – “Fanzine Spotlight: Salon Futura”.
Why did you decide to start your site or zine?
When I set up Wizard’s Tower Press, one of the things I wanted to do was create a semiprozine for non-fiction. It turned out that there wasn’t a market for such a thing at the time, and it closed after 9 issues. Then last year I saw Nicholas Whyte bemoaning the lack of interest in the Fanzine category of the Hugos. I’d already come to the conclusion that I needed some form of discipline to ensure I made time to read and review books, so I decided to relaunch Salon Futura as a fanzine. Thus far it has worked in that I have read a lot more books. I figure that if I ever get on the Hugo ballot again there will be a flood of new people voting in that category to stop me winning, and that will be the other objective achieved.
(15) VINTAGE OPINIONS. Gilbert Seldes lectures on science fiction in this 1953 recording of a WNYC broadcast “Science fiction writing” from The NYPR Archive Collections.
This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Seldes discusses the science fiction genre. He opens with a story about a science fiction story about the atomic bomb preceding the actual bomb, and the government’s response.
He speaks of the symbolism of the extraterrestrial as a symbol for invaders from behind the Iron Curtain.
Seldes notes that there is a lot of science fiction that he does not deem to be of good quality, but does speak very highly of Ray Bradbury and H. G. Wells
(16) CHINESE SFF MOVIE. The Shimmer Program announced “Another Chinese science fiction film, ‘The Soul’ has been released on big screen! The thriller is adapted from Jiang Bo’s story ‘The Soul Transplanting Skill’ and directed by Cheng Wei-hao.” (The Soul is not to be confused with Pixar’s Soul).
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, JJ, David Doering, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Joe Siclari, Olav Rokne, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]