(1) INTRUDER ALERT. A week ago, Canadian sff writer Candas Jane Dorsey came home and discovered a break-in in progress. The police were called. All of what happened next is in this Facebook post.
Last Thursday we had a lovely dinner out with our friend Jane B., and came home to do some more work, and just as I was getting ready for bed I heard some thumping and then the alarm went off, saying there was an issue in the basement. Timothy went outside to look through the windows and there was indeed an intruder, who turned and pointed something black at him. Was it a gun? In Canada, that’s not common, though the police have been finding more guns among the criminals in town, so… Anyway, it looked like maybe…
Police were already being called, but adding the words “he might have a gun” rather sharpened the response time–and the scale of the response. Soon we were waiting up on the second floor while SWAT tactical vehicles and people with guns (I was going to say “guys with guns” but there was no way of knowing if they were guy-guys or generic-guys so I’m going with people, or police officers) and Colt Carbines and other people in squad cars and other people in unmarked white SUVs blocked streets and surrounded our house, and the police helicopter looked down on us with infrared scopes, and it was Uncle Tom Cobbley and all around here for the next nine hours, as the intruder hunkered down and refused to come out….
(2) DIAGRAM PRIZE WINNER. The Guardian reports “Is Superman Circumcised? wins oddest book title of the year award”
The Diagram prize, which is run by The Bookseller magazine and voted for by the public, pitted six titles against each other this year, from Curves for the Mathematically Curious to Hats: A Very Unnatural History. Despite competition from second-placed The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé, Is Superman Circumcised? took 51% of the public vote to win the award. More than 11,000 people cast a vote in this year’s competition.
The title, which follows in the footsteps of former winners including How to Avoid Huge Ships and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, sees author Roy Schwartz explore the creation of the “Mensch of Steel” by Jewish immigrants Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Schwartz argues that Superman’s origin story is based “on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves”, and that Krypton’s society is based on Jewish culture.
(3) FIVE BEST. Adam Roberts picks “Five of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2021” in the Guardian. First on the list:
Far from the Light of Heaven
by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
Space is vast but spaceships are by nature claustrophobic: Thompson plays cannily on that contrast. Passengers aboard the starship Ragtime are in suspended animation on their way to the distant planet Bloodroot, but 30 people have been murdered in their sleep. Thompson’s tale is cleverly plotted and tensely told as the investigating captain must work against her own crew, bio-contagion, violent robots and a demonic AI to uncover the murderer’s identity. The book does more than the description “locked-room mystery in space” suggests: not only wrong-footing the reader as its mystery unfolds, but creating a series of believable, compelling worlds with some genuinely alien aliens.
(4) BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. Elizabeth Bear posted a public “cancer stuff update” on her Livejournal.
Just wanted to check in and let you all know that things are finally moving again here. I got some good news on Monday, which is to say that my oncotype came back and there’s no indication that chemo will reduce the chances of a recurrence, so I am off the hook for that (and enormously relieved, honestly). And the Infamous Seroma has healed enough that unless there’s some kind of additional complication, I will FINALLY be having my radiation setup, CT, and simulation on Monday morning….
(5) PRIME TIME FOR KIWI SFF. The Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, happening in Wellington next February/March, has numerous items of genre interest. SFFANZ News compiled this list of links:
- Horizons — with Prof Brian Cox
- Destination Mars – From the makers of APOLLO 13: Mission Control
- N.K. Jemisin – in conversation with Elizabeth Knox
- Another Universe – alternate history as spoken word art
- Whiti Hereaka with Cassie Hart – talking about Cassie’s new book
- Nalini Singh and Steff Green – in discussion with Cassie Hart
- Books in the Time of the Pandemic – including Octavia Cade
- Life on Mars – more Octavia Cade, Cassie Hart and Nalini Singh
- Life on Mars – Australian Edition
- Tania Roxborogh – 2021 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year author
(6) NFT ABUSE OVERWHELMS ARTISTS. Artists are burdened by having to generate DMCA takedown notices to keep their work from being thieved by NFT creators.
(7) ASIMOV RARITIES. Heritage Auctions has a set of the Gnome Press edition of the Foundation Trilogy on the block right now (Lot #45145). These books were published in 1951-1953. The bidding is up to $6,250.
(8) FIRST FANDOM ANNUAL 2021. Now available is the fanhistory tribute volume Remembering Erle M. Korshak (1923-2021) edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.
This is a tribute to legendary SF enthusiast Erle Melvin Korshak, remembered as a renowned book-seller, conventioneer, art collector and publisher. In several conversations, Erle recalls the early days of fandom, the first two worldcons, publishing articles in fanzines and the pulps, and some friends he made along the way. A new article about the history of Shasta Publishers is accompanied by Erle’s reflections on his days as a pioneering specialty press book publisher.
Other highlights include appreciations by several of Erle’s long-time friends, a gallery of First Fandom photos and an 8-page bibliography prepared by SF historian Christopher M. O’Brien.
60 pages, limited ed. (50 #’d copies) Laser printed on 28# quality paper Photographs and interior illustrations Gloss covers, 81?2 x 11, saddle-stitched. To order, send a check for $35 payable to John L. Coker III (includes packing, USPS Priority Mail, insurance, and tracking) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.
(9) ELIGIBILITY, YOU KNOW. Tor.com would not want you to overlook “All of Tor.com’s Original Short Fiction Published in 2021” which is linked from this post.
Since launching in 2008, Tor.com’s short fiction program has been producing touching, funny, and thought-provoking stories, and this year was no different! In 2021, we published 15 original short stories, another 15 novelettes, plus one novella. These ran the gamut from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, from horror to dystopia, from fairy tales to space opera. We’ve rounded them all up below…
(10) RETELLINGS CONSIDERED. In the Rite Gud podcast, Raquel S. Benedict contends a popular story form has some shortcomings: “#Girlboss: The Problem With ‘Feminist’ Fairytale Adaptations”.
We like folklore, and we like feminism. So why not combine them? A lot of writers do. Feminist retellings of old fairy tales are very popular. We have girlboss Cinderella starting her own business, rebellious Belle teaching girls to read in Beauty and the Beast, Snow White leading an army into battle. And why not? What’s wrong with updating folklore for a more enlightened age? We all like to see strong women kicking ass, don’t we?
But sometimes, despite our good intentions, these updates lose something in translation.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2007 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years ago, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street premiered. It was directed by Tim Burton. It is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning 1979 musical of the same name. In turn it is obviously based off of the Victorian Penny dreadful Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It starred Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen. Critics really like it with the Christian Science Monitor saying “A considerable achievement even if, on balance, it’s more of a Tim Burton phantasmagoria than a Sondheim fantasia.” And the Independent declared that “Relentlessly morose and courageously just, Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” is a maniacal near masterpiece.” It was a box office success making two hundred million on a budget of fifty million. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a superb eighty-one percent.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 3, 1918 — Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had three children; she was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whalen, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
- Born December 3, 1922 — Donald H. Tuck. Engineer, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Tasmania, Australia who discovered SF very young. By the time he was 18, he had co-edited three issues of the fanzine Profan, which included author bios and bibliographies. Considering the logistical difficulties of the time in terms of communication by snail mail – especially given the added difficulty due to WWII and the distance of Australia from the U.S. – his feat in amassing a huge collection, and a file of index cards with the details of hundreds of SFF works, was impressive. In 1954, he collected those index cards into A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a 151-page bibliography of the field; in 1959 he released a greatly-expanded and updated version, at 396 pages. He was given a Worldcon Special Award for this work. He continued to refine this over the years, and in 1974 produced the first volume of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: Who’s Who, for surnames starting A to L, followed four years later by Volume 2, for M to Z, and was recognized for this work with a World Fantasy Special Award. The third volume, a bibliography to accompany the two-volume encyclopedia of authors, editors, and artists, won a Hugo Award. He was to be Guest of Honor at the first Australian Worldcon; when he couldn’t attend, a group of fans went to visit him at his home. In 1985, he was given Fandom’s Big Heart Award. (Died 2010.)
- Born December 3, 1937 — Morgan Llywelyn, 84. Writer and Equestrian born in the U.S. who, after missing out on the Olympic dressage team by a minuscule fraction of a percentage point, turned to researching her Irish roots, and began to write historical fantasy, fiction, and nonfiction based on Celtic history and traditions. After her husband’s untimely early death, she moved to Ireland and is now a citizen residing near Dublin. Her first genre novel, Lion of Ireland, was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award. Her short genre fiction has been published in the collection The Earth Is Made of Stardust.
- Born December 3, 1949 — Malcolm Edwards, 72. Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who is considered one of the field’s great editors. Early in his career, he joined the British Science Fiction Association, and served as editor of its journal Vector. He was extremely active in British fandom in the 60s and 70s, producing several fanzines, and was one of the co-founders of the semiprozine Interzone. In the 80s, he co-wrote several SFF nonfiction reference works. His work has influenced many fans’ reading: as SF editor for Gollancz, he launched the SF Masterworks series. He was Deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group until 2019. Although he is best known as an editor, his short story “After-Images” won a British Science Fiction Award, and has been included in five different anthologies. He was Guest of Honor at Worldcon in London in 2014.
- Born December 3, 1958 — Terri Windling, 63. 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, and the Bram Stoker Award. 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. These are available at the usual suspects at very reasonable prices. 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.
- Born December 3, 1960 — Daryl Hannah, 61. 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? Her last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing, though she had a cameo as herself in this year’s Cosmic Radio.
- Born December 3, 1968 — Brendan Fraser, 53. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. (Let’s not mention the third Mummy film.) 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 Doom Patrol series that now airs on HBO Max.
- Born December 3, 1985 — Amanda Seyfried, 36. She play Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds here 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.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro shows why you don’t let psychiatrists interview your favorite cartoon characters.
(14) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present N.K. Jemisin and David Leo Rice at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. (Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to enter the KGB Bar. Face masks required when not seated.)
N. K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row, for the Broken Earth trilogy, currently in film development. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.
David Leo Rice
David Leo Rice is an author from Northampton, MA, currently living in NYC. His books include A Room in Dodge City, A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 2, Angel House, and Drifter: Stories. His novels The New House and A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 3 are forthcoming in 2022. He currently teaches at Parsons School of Design and FIT.
(15) MIGHT NEED A SPIN DOCTOR. Fantasy Literature’s reviewer Bill Capossere finds the series all too familiar: “The Wheel of Time: The wheel spins a little too slowly”.
…The show also isn’t helped, at least early on, by its characterization or its dialogue. The younger main characters have been aged up (if I’m remembering correctly — it’s been a long time), mostly it seems so they can have (undepicted) sex, which seems an odd reason. Otherwise, they feel at this point bland, unformed, and indistinguishable beyond their stock type (roguish irresponsible one, brooding pining one, grieving simmering one, bitter angry one, etc.). Honestly, they look and feel like they could have accidentally walked off the set of any CW show and into this one while the cameras were rolling. The older characters, Moiraine and the “gleeman” Thom fare better as characters, but Moiraine is saddled with a lot of expository and/or portentous monologuing (and not in a good, fun way)….
(16) COVID FRONT LINES. “Violence Against Australian Booksellers” is Shelf Awareness’ report about an incident that occurred when employees tried to get customer compliance with local Covid rules.
In Australia, the Dymocks bookstore on Collins St. in the CBD in Melbourne has been forced to hire security guards “after employees were attacked by customers refusing to follow Victoria’s Covid-19 rules, with one worker being pushed down an escalator,” the Age reported. The store’s owners said the move would cost hundreds of dollars a day, but safety of staff was paramount. The incidents are being investigated by police.
“We, as small business owners never thought that making our staff do this Covid marshaling checking would result in this kind of violence,” co-owner Melissa Traverso said, adding that just hours before one employee was assaulted, another staff member had been slapped by a woman who refused to give her personal details. The Age noted that “later on Friday, a third worker was tackled by an angry customer who did not provide a valid proof of vaccination, but managed to steady himself and avoid falling down the escalator.”…
(17) RO-MAN. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Jacob Paik did this piece based on the 1953 movie Robot Monster:
(18) IT’S A THEORY. “Returned asteroid samples suggest missing source of Earth’s water: the solar wind” – Daily Kos tells why.
One puzzle about Earth’s formation is that our planet shouldn’t have nearly as much water as it does. Asteroids that formed closer to the Sun, such as those in the inner asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, have very little water, while those that formed farther out have much more. So that implies that Earth, which formed even closer to the Sun than those asteroids, started out pretty dry and must have gotten its water from some far-out source. But what could that source be?
Much of Earth’s water could very well have come from carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, flung to Earth from asteroids that formed far from the Sun, out around Jupiter/Saturn and beyond. Those weren’t exposed to much heat when they formed, and so their volatile components like water could stay put. Carbonaceous chondrite meteorites can contain up to 20% water.
It would take a whole lot of hits by these kinds of meteorites to produce our oceans, but even if we grant that possibility, when you take them as a whole, their water doesn’t quite match Earth’s water in one important way: it’s too heavy.
“Heavy” water is not H2O but rather D2O. Its hydrogen atoms are replaced by deuterium atoms. A hydrogen atom is simply a proton and an electron, but a deuterium atom is that plus a neutron, so it’s heavier.
On Earth we’ve got water with about 150 parts per million deuterium, but the average for those asteroids is more like 190. So we seem to be missing a significant source of lighter water to make all of this add up.
Enter the solar wind!…
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Ben Bird Person, Olav Rokne, StephenfromOttawa, Daniel Dern, 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 Bonnie McDaniel.]