(1) FIGHTING BOOK BANS. “PEN America, Penguin Random House Sue Florida School District Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Book Bans” — Publishers Weekly has details.
In response to a troubling wave of book bans, PEN America, Penguin Random House, a group of authors, and a group of parents have filed a federal lawsuit against a Florida school district over the “unconstitutional” removal of books from school libraries.
The suit, filed on May 16 in the Northern district of Florida in Pensacola, alleges that administrators and school board members in Florida’s Escambia County School District are violating the First Amendment as well as the 14th Amendment (the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution) because the books being singled out are “disproportionately books by non-white and/or LGBTQ+ authors” and often address “themes or topics” related to race or LGBTQ+ community.
The suit seeks to have the district’s actions declared unconstitutional and to have the banned books returned to library shelves.
“In every decision to remove a book, the School District has sided with a challenger expressing openly discriminatory bases for challenge, overruling the recommendations of review committees at the school and district levels,” the complaint alleges. “These restrictions and removals have disproportionately targeted books by or about people of color and/or LGBTQ people, and have prescribed an orthodoxy of opinion that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments…. Today, Escambia County seeks to bar books critics view as too ‘woke.’ In the 1970s, schools sought to bar Slaughterhouse-Five and books edited by Langston Hughes. Tomorrow, it could be books about Christianity, the country’s founders, or war heroes. All of these removals run afoul of the First Amendment, which is rightly disinterested in the cause du jour.”…
(2) KEEP WATCHING THE MARQUEE. Was there ever a save-the-kid science fiction story I didn’t fall for? I’m confident this will be no exception: “The Creator Teaser Trailer”.
“This is a fight for our very existence.” The Creator arrives in theaters September 29.
(3) STOP. Sarah A. Hoyt gives a whole list of favors people shouldn’t be asking her for – or any other writer, for that matter – in “We’re Not Responsible for….” at Mad Genius Club.
…Stop sending me five covers from stock sites and asking me which fits your novel, when we never talked to each other before and I don’t know who you are. I might, if I’m in the mood, do that for friends or friendly acquaintances, but I have a house, family, cats, a garden, and about 40 novels waiting to be written. I’m not your mommy. Go look at covers and make your own evaluation. Or get another friend who is better at it, and ask them. I haven’t even read your novel. And no, this isn’t a suggestion to send it to me….
(4) 300 BOOKS, 10 JUDGES, 1 WINNER. Mark Lawrence started taking entries for Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 9 today: “SPFBO 9, Phase 1”. He explained one of the fine points in the eligibility screening process.
…The most common reason for a book being replaced is that although the author might think of themselves as self-published, they are in fact published by a small/indy press. The details get messy, but if we started accepting small presses then most would appreciate that “small” is impossible to define/enforce effectively. And this is laid out in the rules which everyone indicates they have read….
(5) INDIES NAVIGATE AMAZON. A new entry in “The Indie Files” series at the SFWA Blog sees William Tracy offering “Author tips and tricks for selling on Amazon”.
Congrats! You’re an indie author! You’ve written a book, (hopefully) had critiques and edited it, put it all together, and thrown it up on Amazon. Time to watch the money roll in, right?
Well, not exactly. Amazon books don’t sell themselves. Especially in these waning years of the golden indie author rush, you’ll have to make sure others see your book to even know it exists. In 2010 or 2012, you could feasibly get away with assuming people would see what you’d written. Not now. I wince when people very proudly tell me they’ve written a book and are going to sell it on Amazon. I always have qualifying questions, which usually make their eyes go wide.
Here’s a brief list of tips and tricks to help your book get seen by more shoppers. Because that’s the first secret. Amazon is not a sales platform. Amazon is a very well-tuned search engine. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to stumble over your book as they search. This will not be an exhaustive list, but it’ll give you a starting point for your own research….
(6) A DEAD FISH STINKS FROM THE HEAD. “The Time Has Come for Hollywood C.E.O.s to Strike” – a humor piece from The New Yorker.
Day Zero: Hollywood C.E.O.s have had enough. The Writers Guild of America refused to leave the bargaining table even when we very clearly indicated that we didn’t want to be there anymore. That’s not just bad table manners—because we are C.E.O.s, this threatens the livelihood of our families, and also the livelihood of our second, secret families. In a unanimous vote of twelve for, zero against, the C.E.O.s have authorized a strike.
Day One: The work stoppage begins immediately. All C.E.O.s have changed their e-mail auto-responses from “I am vacationing in Moldova and will be slow to respond” to “I am vacationing in Moldova and also I’m on strike.” The people who work for us will obviously be expected to continue performing their jobs, and also we will obviously keep getting paid. Other than that, the industry will grind to a halt until our demands are met….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2012 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Our Beginning comes from Graham Joyce’s Some Kind of Fairy Tale which was first published by Victor Gollancz in the United Kingdom eleven years ago.
He won the BFS’ Robert Holdstock Award for it, one of four such Awards for him, and was nominated for the August Derleth Award for best Horror Novel and the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel as well.
I like Joyce a lot as his horror has a certain Britishness to it that is appealing. This along with The Tooth Fairy and The Limits of Enchantment are my favorite works by him.
And now for our Beginning…
We are spirits of another sort.
OBERON, KING OF SHADOWS. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
In the deepest heart of England there is a place where everything is at fault. That is to say that the land rests upon a fault; and there, ancient rocks are sent hurtling from the deep to the surface of the earth with such force that they break free like oceanic waves, or like monstrous sea creatures coming up for air. Some say that the land has still to settle and that it continues to roil and breathe fumes, and that out of these fumes pour stories. Others are confident that the old volcanoes are long dead, and that all its tales are told. Of course, everything depends on who is telling the story. It always does. I have a story and though there are considerable parts I’ve had to imagine, the way I saw it was as follows.
It WAS CHRISTMAS DAY of that year and Dell Martin hovered at the double-glazed PVC window of his tidy home, conducting a survey of the bruised clouds and concluding that it might just snow; and if it did snow then someone would have to pay. At the very beginning of the year Dell had laid down two crisp twenty-pound notes on the bookie’s Formica counter, just as he had done every year for the past ten. The odds changed slightly each year and this time he’d settled good odds at seven-to-one.
For a White Christmas to be official—that is, to force the bookmakers to pay—a flake of snow must be observed to fall between midnight on December 24 and midnight on December 25 at four designated sites. The sites are the cities of London, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Manchester. The snow is not required to lie deep nor crisp nor evenly upon the ground and it doesn’t matter if it’s mixed with rain. One solitary flake would do it, fallen and melted, observed and recorded.
Living in a place somewhere between all of those great cities, Dell had never collected in all those ten years, nor had he seen a single flake of Christmas Day snow hanging in the air of his hometown. “Are you going to come and carve?” Mary called from the kitchen.
This year they were having goose. After decades of turkey dinners on Christmas Day they were having a change, because a change is as good as a rest, and sometimes you needed a rest even from Christmas. Nevertheless the table had been laid out, just as in previous years. Crisp linen and the best cutlery. Two heavy crystal wineglasses that, year round, were kept in a box and stowed at the back of a kitchen cupboard.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 17, 1913 — Peter B. Germano. Though neither of his SF novels was of great distinction (go ahead, disagree) — The Interplanetary Adventures and The Pyramids from Space (written as Jack Berlin) — his scriptwriter output was so as he worked on The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Lost, Battle of the Planets and the revival version of The Next Step Beyond, which warrants his being noted here. (Died 1983.)
- Born May 17, 1936 — Dennis Hopper. I think his first genre film would be Tarzan and Jane Regained… Sort of, an Andy Warhol film. Queen of Blood, a vampire thinly disguised as SF film, was his next genre film. My Science Project was his next outing before he took part in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. And now we get to the Super Mario Bros. where he played King Koopa. What a weird film that was! Of he followed that by being Deacon on Waterworld… And then doing Space Truckers. Ouch. Really ouch. He’s El Niño in The Crow: Wicked Prayer, a film I barely remember seeing and I like the Crow character. His final role was voicing one of the animated wolves in Alpha and Omega. (Died 2010.)
- Born May 17, 1946 — F. Paul Wilson, 77. I’ve read, let me check, oh about half I see of the Repairman Jack novels. Anyone here finished them off, and should I do so? What else by him is worth my time? He’s won five Prometheus Awards for Best Libertarian SF Novel, very impressive indeed.
- Born May 17, 1950 — Mark Leeper, 73. As Mark says on his site, “In and out of science fiction circles Mark and Evelyn Leeper are one of the best known writing couples on the Internet. Mark became an avid science fiction fan at age six with TV’s Commando Cody. Both went to the University of Massachusetts in 1968.” And as Bill Higgins says here, their MT VOID fanzine is one of the longest published ones still going.
- Born May 17, 1954 — Bryce Zabel, 69. A producer, director and writer. Genre wise, he’s been involved as a producer or director with M.A.N.T.I.S., Dark Skies, Blackbeard, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. Writing-wise, he has written for most of these shows plus the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Atlantis: The Lost Empire screenplays.
- Born May 17, 1954 — Colin Greenland, 69. His partner is the Susanna Clarke who was the author of our Beginning last Scroll, with whom he has lived since 1996. The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction whichwas based on his PhD thesis. His most successful fictional work is the Plenty series that starts with Take Back Plenty and continues with Seasons of Plenty, The Plenty Principle and wraps up with Mother of Plenty. In the Eighties and Ninties, he was involved in the editorial work of Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction and Interzone.
- Born May 17, 1956 — Dave Sim, 67. Did you know there was a Cerebus radio series at one point? Well there was – Cerberus the Radio Show. Need I say that I read the entire run of Cerebus. The three hundred issues ran from 1977 until 2004. It was created by Sim, written and drawn by him and remained solely his undertaking until background artist Garhard joined up with sixty-fifth issue. As Cerebus continued, it incorporated more and more of Sim’s very controversial views, particularly on women, feminism and the fall of Western Society from those factors. Collected Letters: 2004 and Dave Sim’s Collected Letters 2 contains his responses to the letters he got criticizing him but not the letters themselves.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Poorly Drawn Lines shows that in space no one can hear your loneliness.
(10) JIMI HENDRIX SFF COMIC. This Fall, Titan Comics will be publishing Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze, an original graphic novel written by Mellow Brown (American Gods, Blade Runner: Origins) with DJ Benhameen, illustrated by artist Tom Mandrake (Captain Kronos, The Spectre), and in collaboration with Jimi’s sister, Janie Hendrix.
This epic adventure sees the iconic Jimi Hendrix as you’ve never seen him before! The story sees Hendrix embark on a perilous quest to the very center of the universe in search of a magical talisman powerful enough to unlock the incredible latent power of his trademark sound, so that he can free a diverse population starved of rock ‘n’ roll by a tyrannical intergalactic force hellbent on silencing music and enslaving all life.
Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze blends classic sci-fi pulp, and Afro-futurism to craft a psychedelic space odyssey that captures the magic, hope and rebellion that Jimi’s legendary music is known for.
Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an influential guitarist, singer and songwriter. Although his career spanned only three studio albums – Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967), & Electric Ladyland (1968) – he is widely recognized as one of the most creative guitarists in the history of music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.
Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze (128pp, hardcover, $29.99, 9781787731899) is set for release in comic shops, bookstores and on digital devices in November 2023. Pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Forbidden Planet for UK & Europe.
(11) BROS. “Marvellous Moderns: The Brothers Perrault” at The Public Domain Review.
Charles Perrault is celebrated as the collector of some of the world’s best-known fairy tales. But his brothers were just as remarkable: Claude, an architect of the Louvre, and Pierre, who discovered the hydrological cycle. As Hugh Aldersey-Williams explores, all three were able to use positions within the orbit of the Sun King to advance their modern ideas about the world….
…Best remembered today is the youngest of the brothers, Charles (1628–1703), who is famous now as the collector and author of fairy stories — including “Sleeping Beauty”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Cinderella”, “Puss in Boots”, and “Bluebeard” — known as the Mother Goose Tales. Before turning to writing, however, he served at the French court as a cultural advisor to Louis’ all-powerful minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert….
(12) BOOMER SOONER (OR LATER). Scientific American thinks “Betelgeuse’s Brightening Raises Hopes for a Supernova Spectacle”.
Even if you don’t know it by name, the red supergiant star Betelgeuse is one of the most familiar sights in the heavens above—a gleaming ruddy dot at the shoulder of the constellation Orion. Although already quite difficult to overlook, Betelgeuse has become even more eye-catching across the past few years because of major changes in its appearance—unexpected fluctuations in its brightness that remain poorly understood. In recent weeks, the star has at times shone more than 50 percent brighter than normal, drawing renewed attention from amateur sky watchers and professional astronomers alike. These individuals hopefully await a historic celestial event. Someday, you see, Betelgeuse will explosively end its life in a supernova—and from our planetary perch just 650 light-years away, we Earthlings will have front-row seats to this spectacular cosmic cataclysm.
But does the current bout of brightening presage Betelgeuse blowing its top? And what would such a nearby supernova look like?…
(13) LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN. The cast of The Rocky Horror Show perpetrated a flashmob at Birmingham New Street in the UK.
The cast of Rocky Horror Show were out of this world when they performed at Birmingham New Street this afternoon! If you didn’t manage to catch them at the station, here it is.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The first twenty-five seconds of Ryan George’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Pitch Meeting” are pretty wry. And it goes on from there.
So you got some Marvel content for me?
Yes sir, I do some freaking Guardians of the Galaxy.
Now did you want to make a movie or take a secondary character and stretch a story out over eight episodes and shove that on Disney+?
I was thinking like a third movie.
Yeah, plus we already did that I Am Groot short series on Disney+.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a thing that exists, really.
Wow! We might have to slow this machine down. I have no recollection of that…
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]