Fantasy/SciFi

Hugo awards see off rightwing protests to celebrate diverse authors

22 August 2016

From The Guardian:

The winners of the 2016 Hugo awards have been announced, with this year’s choices signalling a resounding defeat for the so-called “Puppies” campaigns to derail the venerable annual honouring of science fiction literature and drama.

The winners were announced on Saturday evening at MidAmeriCon II, the World Science Fiction Convention held this year in Kansas City.

As in previous years, there had been attempts by two separate groups, the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies, to “game” the awards in favour of their preferred slates of works. Both groups claimed that science fiction has become dominated by a liberal, left-wing bias.

The Hugos are voted on by those who purchase an attending or supporting membership to either the current or previous Worldcon events. Eligible voters can tick the “No Award” box if they don’t agree with any of the shortlisted works, a tool which has been used to block out Puppies recommendations previously. In 2015, five No Awards were given, including for the prestigious best novella and best short story categories; an unprecedented number, as No Award had only been presented as many times in the entire history of the prize, which began in 1953.

In contrast, this year there were only two No Awards, in the smaller best related work and best fan-cast categories.

Best novel went to NK Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, a richly-detailed story of a planet undergoing a periodic and catastrophic season of apocalyptic climate change. Jemisin has previously clashed with Rabid Puppies co-ordinator Theodore Beale, who was expelled from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America after he publicly called the black author an “educated but ignorant savage”.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Nate Hoffelder has a different take at The Digital Reader:

And now, in 2016, the Puppies are being described as having been defeated once again. The Guardian covered the Hugo Awards in an article this morning, describing it thusly:

Another attempt by the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups to hijack the science fiction award goes to the dogs, as authors and titles not in their campaign take top prizes.

The winners of the 2016 Hugo awards have been announced, with this year’s choices signalling a resounding defeat for the so-called “Puppies” campaigns to derail the venerable annual honouring of science fiction literature and drama.

The winners were announced on Saturday evening at MidAmeriCon II, the World Science Fiction Convention held this year in Kansas City.

The Guardian call this a defeat, but I would say it is at least a partial victory.

. . . .

As you can see when you compare the ballot to the Sad Puppies recommendation list, a fair number of Sad Puppies candidates made it through the nomination process and ended up on the ballot.

Last year the Puppies swept certain categories, filling all five slots in some categories with their candidates. They weren’t quite that successful this year, but they made their presence known.

For example, all five authors on the Best Novella ballot were Sad Puppies candidates, as well as three of the Best Novellette candidates and three of the Best Short Story nominees.

Four of the authors up for a Campbell were on the SP recommendation list, and last but not least two of the names up for Best Fan Writer were recommended by the Sad Puppies.

In all five of these categories, an SP candidate went on to win a Hugo.

And this is what The Guardian would describe as a defeat.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Israeli Sci-Fi Is a Reality

22 August 2016

From Tablet:

Anyone who was at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque during the Sukkot holiday of 2006 will remember the sight of the city’s quiet, highbrow arthouse cinema jam-packed with people, many of them teenagers in costumes (the term “cosplay” hadn’t made it to the local fan community yet) trying to catch a glimpse of the festival’s guest of honor, some (especially the teenage girls) screaming in excitement whenever he passed by.

I remember being asked by someone—a security guard, I think—just what this guy did to get this kind of attention, and if he’s some kind of a rock star.

“No, he’s a writer,” I said.

“Ah, a writer,” said that person who asked me the question in a rather skeptical voice.

The festival was the ICon, Israel’s annual science fiction and fantasy convention. The guest of honor was novelist and comics writer extraordinaire Neil Gaiman. One of the special events held as part of the 2006 festival was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, one of ICon’s co-organizers.

. . . .

For 10 years the society has been a home to genre fans, and keeping any kind of cultural activity going on in Israel for so long is an achievement in its own right, let alone an activity that promotes thinking beyond the limits of the here and now—limits that sometimes appear to be almost sacred to Israeli society at large.

A decade later, the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy is still here—and what seemed amazing in 2006 seems almost mundane today. Jam-packed lobbies are a regular sight at the annual ICon festival and the Olamot convention held during Passover. Nobody raises an eyebrow when costumed visitors of either ICon or Olamot sit down for a drink or lunch at one of the many coffee shops and restaurants along the HaArba’a street (where both events are held).

. . . .

The annual Geffen Awards for excellence in translation of genre fiction (named after one of the society founders and pioneer of science fiction publishing in Israel, Amos Geffen) were born, as well as The Tenth Dimension—the society’s magazine that kept trying to find its voice all throughout its years of existence, mostly remembered today for its incredible covers by artist Avi Katz — and a series of weekly lectures. All this was always accompanied by heated arguments (this being Israel, after all) about what the society does and what it should be doing. Should it just be a home for science-fiction and fantasy fans who want to have fun, or should it actively promote the genre among literary and academic circles?

The answer, as evident from developments over the past 10 years, is that it can do both.

Link to the rest at Tablet and thanks to Julia for the tip.

J.K. Rowling Announces E-Book Series, ‘Pottermore Presents’

19 August 2016

From The New York Times:

At the recent premiere in London of the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” J. K. Rowling insisted that she is really, truly, done with writing about Harry Potter.

“Harry is done now,” Ms. Rowling told Reuters.

She did not, however, rule out writing more about the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

On Wednesday Ms. Rowling’s publishing platform, Pottermore, announced a coming e-book series set in the wizarding world. These digital anthologies will collect Ms. Rowling’s short stories and other writings from her website, and will include some new stories about Hogwarts characters.

The first three books in the series, out Sept. 6, will center on the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and are roughly 10,000 words. The collections will feature some new writing — including a story about Harry’s teacher Horace Slughorn, and one about Professor Minerva McGonagall’s part in the second wizarding war — but will otherwise consist of previously published material from Pottermore.

. . . .

The e-books will be sold on Pottermore, as well as on Amazon and other digital retailers, and will cost $2.99 each. There are no current plans to release the books in print, and Pottermore editors have not determined how long the e-book series will be.

. . . .

“Harry Potter” is arguably the most lucrative publishing franchise in history, with global sales topping 450 million copies, a blockbuster film franchise, a theme park and now a London stage production that is sold out well into next year. The script book of “Cursed Child,” which was written not by Ms. Rowling, but by the playwright Jack Thorne, has sold more than 3.3 million copies in North America in less than a month.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Debuts at No. 1 With More Than 4 Million in Sales

11 August 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the script book for J.K. Rowling’s new play, sold more than four million print copies in its first week in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., the book’s publishers said Wednesday.

Print sales for the script book have totaled 3.3 million in North America and nearly 850,000 in the U.K. since its release on July 31, according to Scholastic and Little, Brown Book Group.

Billed as the eighth Harry Potter story, the script book has also boosted sales of the original seven “Harry Potter” novels.

“Cursed Child” debuts this week at No. 1 on The Wall Street Journal’s best-seller list. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first book in the series, stands at No. 8. “Sorcerer’s Stone” sold 35,000 print copies in the U.S. in the week ended Aug. 7, including the original and illustrated editions, according to Nielsen BookScan data.

. . . .

“This is way beyond our most optimistic expectations and is testament to the passion readers have for J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, as well as to the amazing reception the play itself has had,” David Shelley, CEO of Little, Brown Book Group said in a news release.

. . . .

Sales for “Cursed Child” still fall short of the record-breaking sales of the final novel in the original series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which in 2007 sold 8.3 million copies in the U.S. in its first 24 hours.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

An Even Bigger George R.R. Martin Universe Could Be Coming to TV

8 August 2016

From i09:

Game of Thrones is ending in two years, but George R.R. Martin isn’t done with television yet. In fact, he says an even bigger world is on the way. Martin posted on his LiveJournal Saturday that Universal Cable Productions (part of NBC Universal) has acquired the rights to adapt his long-running anthology series Wild Cards.

For those who don’t know, Wild Cards is a series of shared universe anthologies, mosaic novels, books, and graphic novels written by a group of 30 authors (called the Wild Cards Trust) and edited by Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass. The first novel, Wild Cards, came out in 1987. Since then, there have been 22 installments in the franchise. The next one comes out later this month, and three others are on the way.

. . . .

Wild Cards is all about an alternate post-WWII universe where an alien virus killed 90 percent of the people it infected. Most of the survivors were twisted and deformed into so-called jokers, cursed with bizarre mental or physical disabilities. The remaining few, as Martin put it, “became blessed with extraordinary and unpredictable powers and became aces.”

. . . .

“It is a universe, as large and diverse and exciting as the comic book universes of Marvel and DC (though somewhat grittier, and considerably more realistic and more consistent),” Martin wrote. “There are thousands of stories to be told in the world of the Wild Cards.”

Link to the rest at i09

Here’s a link to the Wild Cards books.

William Shatner Says Star Trek Wouldn’t Exist Without Star Wars

8 August 2016

From i09:

Captain Kirk shocked thousands of Trekkies Saturday by admitting that Star Wars is the reason we have Star Trek today. Now, can there finally be peace between the fandoms?

Star Wars created Star Trek. You know that?” he said.

Speaking at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, William Shatner said the franchise owes its success to the box office dynamo that was George Lucas’Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While it’s true that Star Trek came out a decade before that (put those keyboards down, Trekkies), it also got cancelled after three seasons, with little hope of it ever returning.

“Every year, there was the threat to be canceled. The third year, we were canceled, and everybody accepted it,” he said.

. . . .

“At Paramount Studios, they were running around bumping into each other. ‘What do we got?! What do we got to equal Star Wars?’” Shatner told the crowd. “There was this thing that we canceled, under another management, it was called Star Trek? Let’s resurrect that!”

Link to the rest at i09

Huge crowd of Seattle wizards converge on Amazon’s Treasure Truck for midnight release of new Harry Potter book

1 August 2016

From GeekWire:

A huge crowd of Seattle’s wizards and Muggles descended on Amazon’s Treasure Truck at midnight tonight to get their hands on a copy of the much-anticipated new book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The atmosphere was festive, reminiscent of the midnight album releases from way back when, with plenty of folks in wizard costumes and lots of selfies in front of the Hogwarts sign.

. . . .

This is the first midnight excursion for Amazon’s Treasure Truck, the rolling deals vehicle that pops up every so often in Seattle, allowing people to buy the deal on the Amazon app and pick up up at different Treasure Truck locations.

The line of folks in line wrapped all the way around the parking lot, and the steady stream of cars driving in showed no signs of letting up when I left at 12:30AM. The cheery Amazon employees were tight-lipped and wouldn’t share just how many books were sold from the Treasure Truck tonight, stating simply “I can’t give out numbers, but we brought lots and lots.”

. . . .

The midnight Harry Potter release at the Treasure Truck coincides with midnight home delivery of the book that Amazon is delivering tonight using their Amazon Flex drivers. We’re guessing that this was a big night for Harry Potter and Amazon, as the book has rocketed to the #1 best selling book on the site.

Link to the rest at GeekWire

7 Fantasy/Science Fiction Epics That Can Inform You About the Real-World Political Scene

31 July 2016

From Learn Liberty:

The politics of science fiction and fantasy series may seem like a frivolous topic at a time when we have so many serious real political problems. But it’s nonetheless worth considering, if only because far more people read science fiction novels, and watch genre movies and TV series than read serious nonfiction literature on political issues. Besides, the politics of imaginary worlds is a lot more fun to contemplate than the dismal real-world political scene.

. . . .

Babylon 5

Set on a strategically located space station that seeks to bring together warring powers, Babylon 5 is perhaps the most underrated science fiction TV series of the last several decades. Its politics are vaguely left of center, but often hard to pin down.

Yet one noteworthy theme does shine through: the dangers of nationalism. Otherwise admirable characters such as Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari and Narn leader G’Kar end up causing enormous harm because of their single-minded desire to increase the power and prestige of their peoples.

Londo is so intent on making the Centauri Republic great again that he seals a dangerous bargain with the nefarious Shadows that ultimately results in the death of millions and the devastation of his homeworld. Outbreaks of nationalist fervor also lead to repressive and counterproductive policies in the Earth Alliance. It’s a lesson worth revisiting in the age of Donald Trump, which has also seen a resurgence of nationalism in Western Europe, Russia, and elsewhere.

. . . .

The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece is probably the most influential fantasy series ever. Tolkien’s strong suspicion of government power permeates the story. The Ring of Power after which the book is named allows the wielder to control the will of others and eventually corrupts himself as well. It is a metaphor for political power. Significantly, not even good people like the wizard Gandalf can be trusted with the Ring. If they try to use it, they will inevitably be corrupted by it. The only way to eliminate the threat posed by the Ring is to destroy it. It cannot be used for good. This view stands in sharp contrast to the more common belief that political power can be a force for good if only it is wielded by the right people.

Even more explicitly antigovernment is the symbolism inherent in the chapter entitled “The Scouring of the Shire.” When the secondary villain Saruman temporarily takes over the Shire (homeland of the hobbits), he and his henchmen institute a system of “gathering and sharing” under which the state expropriates the wealth of the population and transfers it to politically favored groups. The episode was likely inspired by the wartime rationing system that the left-wing Labor Party government continued even after World War II. More broadly, it represents Tolkien’s critique of socialism.

Link to the rest at Learn Liberty

Is the Present Worse Than Any Fictional, Futuristic Dystopia?

30 July 2016

From Vulture:

At the annual BookExpo America conference in 2010, William Gibson gave a prescient address about the future of the future — or, rather, about the fact that the capital-F Future, the one he’d grown up dreaming about and reading about, didn’t exist anymore. Once, Gibson argued, the promise of the future was central to science fiction, which routinely depicted exhilarating visions of some better tomorrow. Yet “if you’re 15 or so today, I suspect that you inhabit a sort of endless digital Now,” he said. Current events — quantum teleportation, synthetic bacteria, not to mention all the commonplace technological leaps we absorb with a stifled yawn — are all so amazing and incomprehensible that we no longer need to dream about what tomorrow might bring.

As evidence, he cited his own novels: His first, Neuromancer, was written in the early 1980s and set in roughly the 2030s. Virtual Light, released in 1993, was set in 2006. Soon, he said, “I found the material of the actual 21st century richer, stranger, more multiplex, than any imaginary 21st century could ever have been.” So his ninth novel, Zero Hour, published in 2010, is set a year earlier in 2009. The job of the futurist is no longer speculating about what might come. It’s trying to comprehend what’s already here.

I remembered Gibson’s words recently while discussing dystopian fiction with the crime-writing historian and critic Sarah Weinman, who made a similar, if somewhat more offhand, observation about dystopian fiction. You remember dystopias, right? Those bleak visions that dominated our pop-cultural discourse for, oh, about ten years or so? Dystopias have been around for more than a century, all the way back to H.G. Wells and George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, but their recent pop-cultural ascendance might be bracketed by the publication of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Road in 2006 and the end of the Hunger Games movie quadrilogy last year. During that stretch, dystopian visions of collapsed societies became such a staple of novels, TV, and film that some of dystopia’s most prominent practitioners were moved to pronounce the notion passé. The commercial prospects of dystopias may have been waning for a few years, but Weinman’s point was different. Six years ago, Gibson had theorized that the capital-F Future had been usurped by an endless digital Now — but is it possible, Weinman posited, that fictional imaginings of dystopia are being made irrelevant by the awfulness of today?”

Link to the rest at Vulture and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

PG requests that the OP not start a political argument on TPV.

10 Amazing Facts about The Lord of the Rings

29 July 2016

From author DJ Edwardson:

Today is the 62nd anniversary of the publishing of The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic. The first installment of this trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was published on July 29th, 1954. To celebrate this occasion, as well as to culminate the end of the 2016 Silmarillion Awards, myself, along with the hosts of the various Silmarillion Awards are writing articles in honor of this one fantasy series to rule them all!

For my contribution I submit for your reading pleasure these 10 Amazing Facts about The Lord of the Rings. Though diehard Tolkien fans and scholars will no doubt be familiar with most, if not all of them, you might just learn a thing or two.

. . . .

1. Tolkien intended the book to be published as a single volume

You think The Fellowship of the Ring and the other volumes are long by themselves, do you? Well, the Oxford Don originally wanted all three to be published in a single volume, along with the appendices and perhaps the Silmarillion thrown in for good measure! Can you imagine the size of such a book? Though now that the series is so popular you can buy all three books in a single volume, his publisher at the time, perhaps wisely, chose to release the story as a trilogy. So now you know Peter Jackson wasn’t going so far out of line when he stretched The Hobbit into three movies. He was simply honoring a time-honored Middle-Earth tradition.

. . . .

5. The series was first revised in 1965

In 1965 Ace Books published an unauthorized and royalty-free version of The Lord of the Rings in the U.S. because Tolkien had lost his copyright to the work. By revising it, he was able to correct certain errors in the original editions and, more importantly, reassert his copyright. Though Tolkien made no wholesale changes and did not consider his works in any way allegorical, such as C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, he wrote of the revisions in a letter to Robert Murray, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”

. . . .

8. The poem “One Ring to Rule them All” was composed in the bathtub

Yes, that’s right. It’s hard to believe that this epic and dark piece of verse was created while taking a bath, but according to Tolkien, that’s precisely where he came up with it. Part of me imagines he exchanged his beloved tobacco pipe for one blowing bubbles as he droned out these famous words in his thick British accent. If you’re a writer looking for some inspiration, you might want to draw yourself a long hot bath and see what happens!

If you’re not familiar with the verse (or even if you are it’s so good it’s worth reading again) here they are:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,

Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,

Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,

One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne

In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Link to the rest at DJ Edwardson

Here’s a link to DJ Edwardson’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

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