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in one thousand or fewer words.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oscar Awards and Speculative Fiction

The Oscar winners have been announced. Here is the official list of the nominees and winners of the 82nd Academy Awards.

Speculative fiction films made a showing. Avatar scored well, winning art direction, cinematography and visual effects. But James Cameron and company, with so many other nominations, was vexed nearly every step of the way by The Hurt Locker: directing, film editing, best picture, sound editing and sound mixing. Maybe the billions in ticket sales will take the sting out of this for Cameron. Avatar eclipsed the previous ticket sales leader, Titanic, but that's his film, too. (I won't even mention Aliens and The Terminator.)

The other major speculative film win was Up with animated feature film.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oscar Nominations--Speculative Fiction

Go to the Oscars site for the full list of Oscar nominations for 2010 (82nd Academy Awards). Perusing the list, you'll find these speculative fiction films (including mysteries) considered for an Academy Award (some categories omitted):

Animated feature film

  • “Coraline” Henry Selick
  • “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
  • “The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
  • “The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore
  • “Up” Pete Docter

Art direction

  • “Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
  • “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
  • “Sherlock Holmes” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

Cinematography

  • “Avatar” Mauro Fiore
  • “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Bruno Delbonnel

Directing

  • "Avatar" James Cameron

Film editing

  • “Avatar” Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • “District 9” Julian Clarke

Music (Original Score)

  • “Avatar” James Horner
  • “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Sherlock Holmes” Hans Zimmer
  • “Up” Michael Giacchino

Best Film

  • “Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
  • “District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
  • “Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer

Writing (adapted screenplay)

  • “District 9” Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell

Writing (original screenplay)

  • “Up” Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Science Fiction: Needed For Survival

Here is a thought-provoking article about thought-provoking science fiction: Science Fiction as a Tool for Human Survival. The generically named author, admin, of blog.netflowdevelopments.com postulates that the world is changing so rapidly now that science fiction is needed to help the populace understand the issues of change.

Interestingly, while the author lauds the classical science fiction of the 60s, 70s and 80s for its profundity, he does not see the present blockbuster "eye candy" movies like Avatar (FFO review) and Star Trek the enemy. They are our friends because they legitimize and popularize speculative fiction. In fact, the author claims that because of those blockbusters, we now have more frequent profound movies, like District 9, than in the classical age.

Go here for more on this well-visited topic, including the author's take on a new engineered human, homo evolutis.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Bruce Holland Rogers Kudos

Flash Fiction Online likes its monthly columnist, Bruce Holland Rogers. See the Short-Short Sighted column in each issue of FFO.

Realms of Fantasy likes Bruce, too. According to SF Scope, the editor of RoF went off their story-purchasing cycle to purchase Bruce's "Fallen" story to accommodate his upcoming travel plans. Nice.

Bruce, could you ask them to reject my stories by saying "it's not horrible," rather than, "it's not right for us at this time?"

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Speculative Films, January-March, 2010

Here is a speculative film synopsis of the Wikipedia general round-up of movies to be released January-March 2010. See the Wikipedia article on films for 2010 for more details about the films noted here as well as the non-speculative films opening in the same time frame. Note that if a release week is not mentioned below, there were no speculative releases for that week.

Jan. 8:

  • Daybreakers is a vampire thriller film written and directed by Peter and Michael Spierig, and starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill.

Jan 15:

  • The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic film directed by the Hughes brothers and starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis.

Jan 22:

  • Legion is an apocalyptic fantasy film directed by Scott Stewart and starring an ensemble cast headed by Paul Bettany.
  • Tooth Fairy is a comedy-fantasy film directed by Michael Lembeck and starring Dwayne Johnson and Julie Andrews.
  • Edge of Darkness is a crime/drama film adaptation of the 1985 BBC television series of he same name, directed by Martin Campbell and starring Mel Gibson and Ray Winstone.

Feb. 12:

  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a fantasy-adventure film directed by Chris Columbus and starring Logan Lerman alongside an ensemble cast. The film is an adaptation of the novel, The Lightning Thief.
  • The Wolfman is a 2010 remake of the 1941 classic horror film The Wolf Man, directed by Joe Johnston and starring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Art Malik.

Feb. 19:

  • Shutter Island is a horror thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film is based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane.

Feb. 26:

  • The Crazies is a horror film that is a remake of George A. Romero's 1973 film of the same name, directed by Breck and starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson and Danielle Panabake.

Mar. 5:

  • Alice in Wonderland is a fantasy-adventure film directed by Tim Burton and starring Mia Wasikowska as Alice, alongside Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as The White Queen, and Crispin Glover as The Knave of Hearts. The film is an extension to the Lewis Carroll novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Publishing News and Speculative Knights

SFWA reports that the Internet Review of Science Fiction will cease publication. This was a very active source of speculative fiction reviews and will be missed. It was one source of industry news relied on for this blog.

The editor of another important speculative fiction news source, Ian Randal Strock of SFScope, will become a publishing editor for Fantastic Books. SFScope will continue operating as usual.

SFScope and others report upcoming honorary knighthoods for several actors and writers associated with speculative fiction works, including actor Patrick Steward (OBE, Knight Bachelor), actress Margaret Maud Tyzack (OBE), writer/translator Anthea Bell (OBE), and children's writer Ronald Gordon (Dick) King-Smith (OBE). In addition New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson will receive an honorary knighthood.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

RIP Roy Disney

The LA Times has an interesting piece, by on Roy Disney's death. He was Walt Disney's nephew and felt his uncle's vision was being overlooked. Roy Disney is credited with reviving Disney animation, beginning with "The Little Mermaid," after launching an internal struggle which resulted in the sacking of two Disney chief executives.

People always underestimated Roy," Peter Schneider, the former president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, said recently. "You underestimate Roy at your peril, as many people have learned."

Roy Disney began his career as a nature filmmaker, snagging an Academy Award and an Oscar nomination. After many successful financial investments and some corporate raiding, Disney was in a position to wrest control of the company. One of his decisions, which seemed minor at the time, was to invest in Pixar animation technology, which netted great rewards later.

Read the two-page article for more on Roy Disney's death and his struggles with Disney management, including his two-edged relationship with Michael Eisner.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Joe Haldeman an SFWA Grandmaster.

No, no, not the Joe Haldeman/CBS producer associated with David Letterman's alleged blackmail incident. Venerable speculative fiction writer, Joe Haldeman, whose writing awards include five Hugos, five Nebulas, and one each Campbell, Tiptree and World Fantasy award, will receive SFWA's Grandmaster award next year, according to SF Scope.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hugo Award Changes

The SFWA's article on the Hugo Award's new eligibility rules summarizes the changes for semiprozine and fanzine categories:

The answer to the general question about whether genre websites, including blogs, are eligible in principle is clearly yes, since the rules now explicitly permit works published in other media in several categories.

For more on what web sites and blogs may be eligible, SFWA defers to Vincent Docherty, Administrator for the Hugo Awards, via File 770's article on Hugo's Award's online publication eligibility. There, Mr. Docherty gives his approach to handling the knotty process of interpreting the new rules while giving due consideration to past rules and past administrators' practices. He says:

Under the revised rules, a web-only publication of an individual work, or series of issues of a work, would certainly be eligible as a Fanzine, Semiprozine or Related Work, depending on whether it satisfies the specific category rules. There are hard boundaries between Fanzine and Semiprozine: a work either meets two of the five tests, and is therefore a Semiprozine, or it doesn’t, and so is a Fanzine.

Go to the File 770 article for a glimpse of this rather interesting process.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You're How Smart? & Femina Sapiens

Here are two articles that I've bundled together because they both speak to gender, which has not gone unnoticed by writers in any genre.

The first is a short Newsweek article on research about the perceived difference in intelligence of women and men. Although the article makes a passing comment that men and women have some respective strengths, the article is not substantially about which gender is more intelligent, but how women and men perceive their differences. Here's the short answer: although the genders basically possess the same intelligence, men perceive themselves, their sons and their fathers as more intelligent than their wives, daughters and mothers. And so do women.

The second article is a thought-provoking piece in the urban-policy magazine City Journal about the struggle between feminists and evolutionary psychologists. It was written by Kay S. Hymowitz who is a contributing editor of City Journal and the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Ms. Hymowitz begins the article this way:

In the struggle for equality between the sexes, it keeps coming down to motherhood, doesn’t it?

And later:

Especially galling to feminists has been the field of evolutionary psychology, which proposes that evolution has fundamentally shaped human sexual and reproductive behavior—behavior that often seems to conform to the worst stereotypes.

Although much of the article is shrouded in Darwinism, I don't think the question of Darwin was right or wrong is the point of the article. The research shows how men and women actually behave and the measurable physiological reasons behind their behavior. The linchpin of the author's thoughts seems to be that, in her opinion, women are more invested in raising their children than men, no matter what forces are applied to change that (such as the Swedish failed attempt to equalize investment by men by offering equal paternal and maternal leave from work). She supports this with an anecdote by a dedicated journalist who feels literally addicted to her newborn child. The author also posits that this behavior continuously improves the lives of the subsequent generations of women.

In fact, as neuroscientists and geneticists piece together the human brain’s evolution, it’s becoming clear that, if it’s natural for a woman to go crazy over her babies, it’s also natural for a woman to run the State Department. The same human female brain that’s primed with oxytocin is, like the male brain, a fantastically complex machine, capable of reasoning, innovative problem solving, and maneuvering through hugely varied social environments—whether the PTA, a corporate headquarters, or Congress.

Hey, you writers out there. This is the stuff of science fiction and fantasy. Get busy.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Hodgepodge Post: Meyer not a Crook & Awards

Here is a hodgepodge of news:

This is not a shocker. According to the NYT Arts Beat blog and many other sources, Stephanie Meyer is not a crook. A judge ruled that Stephanie Meyer did not plagiarize another novel in her "Twilight" series "Breaking Dawn" book. The judge admonished the plaintiff for “deceptive presentation of the alleged similarities.”

Award nominees and winners:

Locus Online: Harlan Ellison nominated for Grammy for the best spoken word album for children category for his recording of Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There.

SF Awards Watch has several year-end awards and nominees for awards for speculative fiction

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jay Lake Recovering from Surgery

We see from Locus Online that Jay Lake is recovering from cancer surgery. According to a blog of a friend of Jay's (link in the Locus article), he'll likely return home this weekend. Flash Fiction Online wishes him a complete and speedy recovery. Jay Lake is a Campbell Award winner and a multiple nominee for the Hugo and Nebula awards. FFO was fortunate to have published one of his flash pieces.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wheden Wins Vanguard Award

Science Fiction Awards Watch reports that Joss Whedon won the Producers Guild of America's 2010 Vanguard Award. According to PGA's article on the award, 'it which recognizes achievements in new media and technology.'

Whedon is a producer, writer, director, and creator for such hit television programs as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” and “Dollhouse.” He has written several feature film scripts including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Toy Story, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Alien Resurrection and Titan A.E. and is author of the cultish Dark Horse comic book series “Fray.” Whedon also created and produced an Internet sensation with the musical superhero spoof “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog,” which stars Neil Patrick Harris.




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Harlequin, RMA, SFWA and MWA Have Love Spat

A few days ago, I ran a tongue-in-cheek post about Harlequin's deal with Author Solutions to produce a self-publishing romance imprint called Harlequin Horizons. Publishers Weekly now reports that Romance Writers of America rebuked Harlequin for this move and threatened a sanction affecting Harlequin's ability to enter their publications in RWA's award competitions. What RWA finds agregious, apparently, is that the similarity of the imprint's name to their pro imprints would likely confuse consumers about professionally written and self-published stories.

In Publishers Weekly's follow-up article, Mystery Writers of America and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America also weighed in, with the MWA threatening to bar Harlequin writers from membership and awards and the SFWA warning that the self-publishing authors should be made aware that:

"...books in the program will not be distributed into brick-and-mortar bookstores ensuring 'that the titles will not be breaking into the real fiction market.'”

The SFWA also threatened to bar Harlequin writers from membership.

Harlequin could not ignore these huge threats to their own prestige and to their stable of authors and renamed the imprint, DellArte Press. SFWA argued that a name change was insufficient and that Harlequin should completely disassociate itself from the self-publishing program.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Unacceptability Of Being Inappropriate

Here is an opinion piece about the increasing vagueness of the English language in many parts of the world since the 1980s. Prospect is an English publication launched by David Goodhart, a senior correspondent for the Financial Times, but the article seems to apply equally to other Western English-speaking countries. At issue is social engineering for the sake of political correctness of more exact terms like coarse, tactless, vulgar and lewd for institutional words like unacceptable and inappropriate. According to article writer Edward Skidelsky:

This linguistic shift is revealing. Improper and indecent express moral judgements, whereas inappropriate and unacceptable suggest breaches of some purely social or professional convention. Such “non-judgemental” forms of speech are tailored to a society wary of explicit moral language. As liberal pluralists, we seek only adherence to rules of the game, not agreement on fundamentals.

Several novels will come to mind to readers of speculative fiction. Go here for more on this shift to a neutralized English language, an article the author entitled, "Words that think for us."

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Harlan Ellison Publishing Again

With at least ten Hugos, four Nebulas, five Bram Stokers and an Edgar on his resume, Harlan Ellison will soon publish his first short story in ten years. He was born in 1934. According to SF Scope, Harlen Ellison will publish a story with Realms of Fantasy in February 2010. Wikipedia claims he's published such a large volume of works that it seems impossible (and so won't be repeated here), among them, "short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, essays, and a wide range of criticism covering not only literature, but film, television, and print media." He's a short fiction kind of guy, with only one novel (but inlcluding critical works reaching novel length).

Here is a collection of short biographies of Harlan Ellison, some real and others surreal, and one from an Internet news group (alt.fan.harlan-ellison) by Isaac Asimov. The "real" Brief Bio more than corroborates the publishing count evaded above:

He has written or edited 75 books; more than 1700 stories, essays, articles, and newspaper columns; two dozen teleplays, for which he received the Writers Guild of America most outstanding teleplay award for solo work an unprecedented four times; and a dozen movies.

Side note: the February 2009 issue of Realms of Fantasy will also include a story by fast-rising Aliette de Bodard. Here is an interview of Aliette de Bodard by Internet Review of Science Fiction.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Impac Dublin Literary Prize

By way of SF Awards Watch, this Guardian (UK) article on the Impac Dublin literary prize, which polls libraries to determine its long list of books for this prestigious and well-funded prize (€100,000, £90,000, $130,000 USD). The purpose of the prize is to make known to the Irish significant books they might otherwise overlook. The polling method results in an eclectic book list, which includes literary and speculative fiction authors. Many Flash Fiction Online readers will recognize Ursula K. LeGuin (Lavinia) and Neal Stephenson (Anathem), who are on the list, as well as Nobel laureates José Saramago and Toni Morrison.

According to the Guardian article author, Alison Flood, Aravind Adiga's Booker prize-winning novel The White Tiger is the early front runner. See the rest of the article for the Impac Dublin literary prize long list of the 150 nominated books and additional insight.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WSFA Small Press Award Winner

In August, we announced the finalists of the WSFA Small Press Award. The WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association) award is open to works of short speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.) published by a short press in English.

Science Fiction Awards Watch has announced the WSFA Small Press Award winner for 2009:"The Absence of Stars: Part 1," by Greg Siewert, published in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Speculative Fiction Movies, Oct-Dec 2009

Here is a summary of the speculative fiction movies scheduled for release in October through November, 2009. This is a partial compilation from this Wikipedia list of all movie releases for 2009. That article has links to summaries of each movie.

Oct. 2

  • The Invention of Lying, Alt reality/comedy
  • Zombieland, Horror/comedy
  • Toy Story 3-D and Toy Story 2 3-D Double Feature (re-release in 3D), Fantasy/comedy, Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar

Oct. 16

  • Where the Wild Things Are, Fantasy/Animation (based on Maurice Sendak book) Warner Bros.

Oct. 23

  • Astro Boy, SF/Fantasy/Animation Summit Entertainment
  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, Fantasy/Adventure, Universal
  • Saw VI, horror, Lionsgate

Nov. 6

  • The Box, Horror, Warner Bros
  • A Christmas Carol, Fantasy, Walt Disney Pictures
  • The Fourth Kind, documentary(alleged alien abduction)/Fantasy(you decide), Universal

Nov. 13

  • 2012, Disaster, Columbia

Nov. 20

  • New Moon (aka Twilight 2), Fantasy, Summit Entertainment
  • Planet 51, SF/Comedy/Animation, TriStar Pictures

Nov. 25

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, Fantasy/Animated (from Roald Dahl's book), 20th Century Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog, Fantasy/Animated, Walt Disney Pictures

Dec. 18

  • Avatar, SF, 20th Century Fox Dir

Dec. 25

  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Fantasy live-action/CGI, 20th Century
  • Sherlock Holmes, Mystery, Warner Bros.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Fantasy, Sony Pictures Classics

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Anniversaries: Twilight Zone and Monty Python

There are two anniversaries this month: the fiftieth anniversary of Twilight Zone and the fortieth anniversary of Monty Python. They're both speculative fiction, right? TZ obviously is. MP has angry Frenchmen catapulting cows over a castle wall at Englishmen. That's speculative, right? Here's a silly tourist tossing a cow from Duone Castle on Monty Python Day.

TZ, the American classic TV show, has been in first-run or reruns nearly continuously for fifty years. It is the inventor of many a trope that annoys fiction editors these days, but inspires new writers and amuses others. See the Jar of Tang writing trope at the SFWA.org's Turkey City Lexicon article, and check the "surprise or twist ending" section in Strange Horizon's excellent Stories We've Seen Too Often article.

Monty Python is a generic term for a the British too-funny television series and movies. They are an excellent distraction from writing or reading. Oh, you're from Mars and never heard of it? Here's the Dead Parrot Sketch. The text is good, but you must see/hear John Cleese and Michael Palin performing the sketch.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Behind The Scenes of Short Fiction Anthologies

SF Signal has an excellent three-part series of articles about the process of producing speculative short fiction anthologies. This should be of interest to readers and writers.

  • Part 1 Contributors: Jeff VanderMeer, Ellen Datlow, Mike Resnick, Nick Mamatas, Vera Nazarian, John Joseph Adams, Jonathan Strahan, and Allan Kaster
  • Part 2 Contributors: James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Mike Allen, Jetse de Vries, Julie E. Czerneda
  • Part 3 Contributors: Rich Horton, Nick Kyme, George Mann, Lou Anders, Ann VanderMeer, and Jack Dann

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Age Book of the Year Award: Debut Novel

The Age, an 150-year-old Australian newspaper has awarded the 2009 The Age Book of the Year award to a debut novel by Steven Amsterdam for his post-apocalyptic Things We Did Not See Coming. He won the fiction award as well.

Guy Rundle won the non-fiction prize for his account of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Down to the Crossroads.

Here is a nice bit for writers:

Amsterdam's novel evolved from a couple of short stories that Sleepers published in its annual Almanac. While the first one was rejected 17 times before it found a home in The Sleepers Almanac, he didn't have the same difficulty with the novel, which is a suite of linked stories narrated by the same character as he negotiates life in a dramatically altered but unidentified landscape and society.

Here is a full account of The Age Book awards.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WSFA Small Press Award Finalists

SF Awards Watch, SF Site and others have announced the finalists for the WSFS Small Press Award. Here is the premise of this award, according to the WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association) web site:

The award is open to works of imaginative literature (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.) published in English for the first time in the previous calendar year. Furthermore, the Small Press Award is limited to works under 17,501 words in length that were published by a small press.

Here are the finalists:

  • “Drinking Problem,” by K.D. Wentworth, Seeds of Change
  • “Hard Rain at the Fortean Café,” by Lavie Tidhar, Aeon Speculative Fiction Magazine
  • “His Last Arrow,” by Christopher Sequeira, Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes
  • “Silent as Dust,” by James Maxey, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
  • “Spider the Artist,” by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Seeds of Change
  • “The Absence of Stars: Part 1,” by Greg Siewert, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
  • “The Toy Car,” by Luisa Maria Garcia Velasco, (translated from Spanish by Ian Watson) Aberrant Dreams

Small gripe: why is it that--across the board--the official awards sites are the last sites on the planet to post their own results (or are so efficient at hiding them that they might as well not post them)?

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Cryptozoology in the Mainstream


Loren Coleman, International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine, 2005. Photo: Joseph Citro, with permission.

In a recent issue of The New York Review of Ideas is a Q&A with Loren Coleman, a cryptozoologist of 50 years. A cryptozoologist searches for and studies undiscovered and recently discovered species.

Yes, Yeti, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster all fall into the category of undiscovered-but-reported creatures. It was clear from the interview that this aspect of cryptozoology, to use his metaphor, is the "Brad Pitt" of cryptids, and is the reason his field has difficulty with acceptance (and why he can't have an interview where that topic does not arise, and why it took six months to convince the IRS that his field was real). But there is serious study in this border area of zoology; many new species are discovered every year, but if they're smaller than a Yeti, they get no news. (BTW, the Blogger spellchecker complains about cryptozoology, suggesting that I change it to cryptography, cryptology or cryptographer.)

Coleman's interests are in the "character actor" species, like the okapi (giraffe family with zebra-like stripes, found in 1901), the coelacanth (fish thought to be extinct for 65 million years, found in 1938), and even smaller critters that will never get a movie contract. It wasn't expressed this way in the interview, but the "window of fame" closes quickly after discovery of a new species, because by definition, once the creature is discovered, it is suddenly in the realm of zoology rather that cryptozoology.

Since cryptozoology has been at the heart of many speculative fiction stories, here is the interview with Loren Coleman, cryptozoologist, courtesy of Flash Fiction Online.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 Hugo Award Winners

The 2009 Hugo Awards winners are in. Here is the official, complete list of Hugo Award winners. Here is a selection of the winners:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: David Anthony Durham

Here, you can see the details of the voting and nominations (PDFs).

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

iPhone App to Novel

Okay...there are many paths to a novel. Your own life. Your relatives' lives. Something you heard on a bus...no, a train. Something you read in a Harry Potter novel...no, bad idea.

Here's an iPhone app, a game called Soul Catcher, that was worked into a novel. According to Publishers Weekly, the iPhone app sold about 25,000 copies, and now it's a novel.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Upcoming Speculative Fiction Movies

Here is the outlook for speculative fiction movies for August-September 2009.

Aug. 7

  • District 9: SF: space alien refugees on Earth have weapons we want. There's a DNA roadblock, though.

Aug. 14

  • Ponyo: Fantasy/Animated. Juvenile fish named Ponyo who wants to become a human girl. Previews were graphically stunning.
  • Time Traveler's Wife: SF: Man unpredictably goes back in time, aften meeting his wife when she was younger. (Based on a best seller.)

Aug. 28

  • The Final Destination: Horror: Premonitions of death by car crashes, of course, lead to actual deaths.
  • Halloween II: Take a wild guess.

Sept. 4

  • Gamers: SF/thriller: mind-control tech. in online games controls fate of death row citizens

Sept. 9

  • 9: fantasy/thriller/animated

Sept. 11

  • Sorority Row: horror: slasher

Sept. 18

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: SF/Paroday: Title says it all. Man turns water into food.
  • Pandorum: SF/horror: Space travelers awaken, not knowing who they are.
  • Splice: SF/Horror: splicing human and animal DNA together...shoulda known better.

Sept. 25

  • Surrogates: SF: humans in isolation, served by robotic surrogates. Based on a comic book series.

You can get more information on these movies here.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Vonda MacIntyre's Pitfalls of Writing SF and Fantasy

Most writers have run across these pitfalls of writing science fiction and fantasy, but it's good to get a reminder now and then. Vonda MacIntyre's descriptions of these (currently) seven pitfalls are short and to the point. They include neologisms (Garfff brought a carrytab of steaming hot javening with boosem and sweetum on the side), Extreme Capital Abuse, sort of using an almost approximate spoken thing rather than a sensible word, etc.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

SFRevu.com Review of Flash Fiction Online

SFRevu's short fiction reviewer, Sam Tomaino, has reviewed the July 2009 issue of FFO, which should have this link after the August issue is published; otherwise, it is the current issue.

This issue had a theme of love. Sam had a favorable impression of the stories. This seemed to be his favorite:

T.C. Powell’s "Through the Window" is centered on Maggie, who is sitting with two friends, discussing the infidelities and other faults of men they’ve know. She is watching something outside and decides to take action. Not any genre content here, but a very good story!

Sam also reviews the latest editions of Abyss & Apex, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov's Science Fiction, Interzone, Jupiter XXV: Erinome, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Space and Time, and Talebones.

In a recent post, we mentioned SFRevu's review of recent speculative fiction books.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Can Frankenstein Save New Orleans?

If you've followed Dean Koontz's series of Frankenstein novels, you may be happy to know that he's finally publishing the third of the series, Dead and Alive, after much wrangling from his fans. It's arriving in the bookstores any day now. Here is a synopsis of Dead and Alive from Dean Koontz's Frankenstein web site.

This is the first of the series that Koontz wrote alone, according to the Wikipedia article about the series. The first, Prodigal Son, was co-written with Kevin J. Anderson. The second, City of Night, was co-written with Ed Gorman. The Wikipedia article has a very brief synopsis of the series.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review of Recent Speculative Fiction Books

SFRevu.com has about 30 recent speculative fiction books concisely reviewed (and many more in their archives). The three most recent are:

  • A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
  • Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
  • Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

These are from their U.S. book list of reviews. The also have UK books and graphic novel/Manga reviews.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Scribe Awards Winners--Media Tie-In

According to the International Association of Media Tie-Writers (IAMTW) web site, the Scribe Awards are for the 'overlooked' writers of media tie-in fiction. The writers write licensed works (i.e., not fan fic):

Our books are original tie-in novels, comic books and short stories based on existing characters from movie, TV series, books, games, and cartoons... or they are novelizations (books based on screenplays for movies and TV shows).

The IAMTW sponsors the Scribe Awards for media tie-in writiers. Their nominees for the Scribe Awards are on the IAMTW/Scribe web site. At the time of posting of this article, IAMTW had not posted the winners, but several other web sites gleaned the information from press releases. SF Awards Watch has posted all the winners. They report that the best speculative fiction original work is: Star Trek Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers by James Swallow.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Evolution of Cult TV

Here is part one and two of an Entertainment Weekly story about cult television. The linchpin of the article is Lost, the cult TV show. The article shows how the meaning of 'cult TV' has changed over time, from a failed experiment that caught a second wind (such as Star Trek), to a more calculated one:

Throughout the 1990s, cult TV began morphing into something more than just a category of brilliant-but-canceled-yet-fondly-recalled programs. "Cult" became a sensibility, made sexy by the rise of "alternative culture" and made marketable by a paradigm shift toward demo-targeted niche marketing. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990-1991) quickly went from phenomenon to joke, yet nonetheless proved....(more)

Some of the shows mentioned in the article include the usual suspects, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Prisoner. Also mentioned are Doctor Who, The Stand, The Dark Tower, and others.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Feisty New Sherlock Holmes Movie

The guys and gals at SF Crowsnest are reporting a trailer for a new Sherlock Holmes movie that is not as buttoned down as in the traditional treatment of this character. Flash Fiction Online receives a mystery now and then in its slush pile, and a certain unnamed editor-in-chief here has a fondness for this genre.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Romance at Flash Fiction Online?

Yes...FFO receives romance submissions in the slush pile now and then. It's been a top genre for many years in the book trade, sometimes trouncing speculative fiction sales as a whole. The expansion into romance-related sub-genres has been heavy, including SF and fantasy. Here are a couple of related articles:

The 'king' of bodice-rippers, Harlequin, now has a new imprint for teens, Harlequin Teen, with a speculative edge. Yes, the article mentions Stephanie Meyers; her stories blasted this market open.

SF Scope has reported on the paranormal romances noted in the Romance Writers of America's 2009 RITA and Golden Heart Award.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Emmy Awards Genre Nominees

SF Scope has assembled a nice list of the Emmy Awards nominees that they consider genre productions. Kicking mainstream hindquarters is 24, with its 6 nominations this year and a total of 63 since 2002.

Here are the Emmy Awards genre nominees.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Realms of Fantasy Moving Ahead

SF Scope reports that Realms of Fantasy (which had ceased operation), is now operating. They've purchased stories that the previous owner had accepted but not yet published. They've not opened their submissions gate yet because of these prior commitments to authors. This is a Good Thing.

See SF Scope's article on Realms of Fantasy's first purchases.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Sunburst Award for Canadian Writers--Short List

By way of SFawardsWatch.com. The Sunburst Award is a juried Canadian award for Canadian authors of speculative fiction in two categories: adult and young adult. The authors may be living in Canada or abroad.

Here is the short list:

Adult list:

  • Night Child, by Jes Battis, Ace
  • The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson, Random House Canada
  • The Alchemist's Code, by Dave Duncan, Ace
  • Things Go Flying, by Shari Lapeña, Brindle & Glass
  • Half a Crown, by Jo Walton, Tor

Young adult list

  • The Summoning, by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
  • Dingo, by Charles de Lint, Viking
  • Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, Tor
  • Wild Talent: A Novel of the Supernatural, by Eileen Kernaghan, Thistledown Press
  • Night Runner, by Max Turner, HarperTrophy

The jurors provided a suggested reading list, as well (honorable mentions). The right column of the award home page includes an announcement area with a log of international award winners by Canadian writers. From that you can see that Cory Doctorow and been on nearly every short list on the planet with Little Brother. He's in this list in the Young Adult Category and is a good bet.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Speculative Fiction Publishing Trends

Strange Horizons magazine has an interesting online article on the recent trends of speculative book publishing. It was written by Mr. Valentin D. Ivanov, a Bulgarian professional astronomer, folklorist and speculative fiction writer.

Mr. Ivanov's method was to survey the Notable Books received for review since about 1998 by Locus Online magazine, since they are highly regarded publication and have a broad view of what is speculative fiction. He tabulated and graphed the data for your viewing. He divided the books into 18 categories, including genres of speculative fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

In general, all categories are in a pleasing rise, with the exception of anthologies and collections, which are flat or slightly negative. The article also gives figures for the proportion of sequels published.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Magazines on iPhone

You may now view many magazines via an iPhone or iTouch. For example, Zinio is offering 20 mainstream magazines such as Car & Driver, Technology Review, and Woman's Day for free (but I'd read for now into that).

More interestingly, though, are some magazines created specifically for this platform, such as this one reported by SF Crowsnest: a '20s and '30s-inspired pulp fiction magazine called Steampunk Tales. The first issue includes contributions by Jay Lake and others. Here is the SF Crowsnest write-up and the Steampunk Tales website.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Paradox Magazine Ceasing Publication

According to Ralan.com, "Paradox Magazine," a publisher of historical and speculative fiction is ceasing publication after six years. They were a print magazine with appealing graphics. (See their web site for an example...requires Adobe Flash.)

Paradox linked to SF Reader for the details of their closing. They may do some print anthologies of past content, and conceivably return in an online format. Personal note: I've tried a couple of times to get into that magazine, unsuccessfully. Their closing is unfortunate since there are not a lot of historical fiction venues of quality.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Audio Speculative Fiction Resource

SF Scope points out a new web site that informs writers of venues for audio podcasts for speculative fiction, since this is a rapidly growing market. Of course, spec fiction readers may find the resource useful, too. Here is the article. The resource is called the Audio Market List (AML) and is run by SF writer Kevin Anderson (not Kevin J. Anderson).

Bonus: I can't say I love the name, but here is a new twitter 'zine market: Tweet the Meat.

According to their submissions page:

Tweet the Meat is a Twitter-only, horror/weird/speculative market opening in May, 2009. No serials. No unfinished stories. You must scare us in 140 characters or less.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Free Speculative Fiction

SF Signal has compiled a list of 95 newly free online speculative fiction stories. This is cool. Of course, this is used fiction. You get brand new fiction every month here at FlashFictionOnline.com.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Free Download: Shimmer #10

You've gotta love Shimmer. No, really, you do. It's a law.

To help you avoid violating the social contracts you signed as an embryo, Beth and the Shimmery People are giving away issue #10 as a free PDF download.

The magazine is run by a great team. We published Editor-in-Chief Beth Wodzinski's The Human Clockwork in our second issue, and Shimmer's Art Director Emeritus, Mary Robinette Kowal, was nominated for a Hugo and is the secretary of the SFWA. Other members of the crew have sold to Analog and IGMS or won the Writers of the Future contest. These are seriously good people dedicated to a great small press magazine of dark-ish speculative fiction.

Here's the line-up for issue 10:

Blue Joe, by Stephanie Burgis
The Carnivale of Abandoned Tales, by Caitlyn Paxson
A Painter, A Sheep, and a Boa Constrictor, by Nir Yaniv (Translated from the Hebrew by Lavie Tidhar)
One for Sorrow, by Shweta Narayan
The Bride Price, by Richard S. Crawford
Jaguar Woman, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Firefly Igloo, by Caroline M. Yoachim
The Fox and the King’s Beard, by Jessica Paige Wick
Interview with Cory Doctorow, by Jen West
River Water, by Becca De La Rosa
What to Do with the Dead, by Claude Lalumière
The Spoils of Springfield, by Alex Wilson
Counting Down to the End of the Universe, by Sara Genge

Good stuff. Go get it!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Hugo Award Nominees Finalized for 2009

The nominees for the 2009 Hugo Awards have been finalized. The nominees for the best novel are:

  • Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK)
  • Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
  • Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)
The best short story:

  • “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Jul 2008)
  • “Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick (Baen’s Universe Oct 2008)
  • “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two)
  • “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 2008)
The other categories: Best Novella; Best Novelette; Best Related Book; Best Graphic Story; Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form; Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form; Best Editor, long form; Best Editor, Short Form; Best Professional Artist; Best Semiprozine; Best Fanzine; Fan Writer; Best Fan Artist; and Best New Writer.

Comments:

  • Mike Resnick is one of the nominees for Best Short Story. We re-published his "The Fallen Angel" here on Flash Fiction Online in January of this year.
  • Cory Doctorow is on a roll. We noted yesterday his nomination for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize.
  • "Evil Monkey Robots" by one of our friends at Liberty Hall, Mary Robinette Kowal, was nominated for a Best Short Story. She also just sold a book to Tor.
  • Where's the Flash Fiction category?

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Doctorow among Man Booker International Prize

Cory Doctorow is among the nominees for the Man Booker International Prize for fiction. Speculative fiction writers might take heart at this inclusion, regardless of the final outcome, which occurs around May. According to the prize's web site:

The Man Booker International Prize is significantly different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlights one writer's overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In seeking out literary excellence the judges consider a writer's body of work rather than a single novel.

The selections for this prize are made by a small, international group of panelists. Publishers do not make recommendations. The nominees are:


The judges are quite interesting, too: Jane Smiley (chair), Amit Chaudhuri and Andrey Kurkov. Their bios are here.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Speculative Mystery

I began searching out a genre out of curiousity using "science mystery" as my search. Mistake. I got nothing but stuff like yesterday's post about some of the mysteries of science. I found that "speculative mystery" was a better phrase. At the top of the search heap was the Spec Mysticon blog, that is a very nice resource to learn about speculative mystery. The bloggist (I couldn't easily find his/her name), identified these sub-genres:

  • Science Fiction / Mystery (yeah, that's what I was looking for)
  • Supernatural Horror / Mystery
  • Fantasy / Mystery
  • Dark Fantasy / Mystery
  • Science Fiction / Supernatural Horror / Mystery
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery
  • Dark Fantasy / Science Fiction / Mystery
The blog supports an online publication, Speculative Mystery Iconoclast. I do like the websites, but after looking at the submissions guidelines, I think the bloggist/editor/publisher needs to correct his thinking: "No Flash fiction (for now)." I can understand the difficulty with a triple-genre work like dark fantasy/science fiction/mystery. That's only 350 words per sub-sub-genre.


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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Changes in the Nebula Awards Mechanics

In this interesting IROSF review of the Nebula Award process, the author summarizes the positive changes and improvements made to the process to counter the machinations and failings of the system. One recent failing was that no YA novel received the needed 10 votes, so there was no Norton Award this year.

Some of the changes explained included: eligibility rules (changed), preliminary ballots (gone), preferential ballots (gone) and internal changes. The author also explained some of the common misperceptions of the processes.

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Realms of Fantasy Update

We reported earlier about the demise of the 15-year-old Realms of Fantasy magazine. There are new rumblings at SFScope about a potential sale of the magazine to one of several bidders. It certainly has value as a continuously profitable and respected publication.

In a related story, SFScope listed the inventory of accepted but unpublished stories and gives the publisher's final thoughts on the demise of the magazine.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flash Fiction Online: SFWA Professional Market!

Flash Fiction Online reached a major plateau today. Just one year and two months after its first issue in December 2007, FFO is now a qualified professional market for prose fiction for SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.) membership. The SFWA is a professional association for science fiction and fantasy writers. For full membership in the SFWA, writers have to have three paid sales of prose fiction (such as short stories) to qualifying professional markets or one prose fiction book or professionally produced full length dramatic script. The combined sales must total at least $250.

Two other new qualifying markets are Fantasy Magazine and Grantville Gazette.

What does this mean for FFO? Writers looking for qualifying professional sales will have FFO in their sights. Professional writers will be more aware of FFO. We are always a desirable venue from the beginning because we paid professional rates...which is one of the qualifications to become a professional market: professional rates continuously for at least one year with a specified level of readership.

What does this mean for FFO's readership? FFO has been blessed from the start with strong submissions from many professional and aspiring writers. We hope now to have an even stronger selection of stories from which to choose for our readership.

Flash Fiction Online's editor-in-chief, Jake Freivald, will have more to say on this achievement in the next few days on his FlashBlog.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Speculative Fiction Universe Contracts a Bit

The speculative fiction universe contracted a bit. Gordon Van Gelder's The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is switching to bimonthly publication. 'Rising costs -- especially postal costs -- and the economy put us in a position....

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is known for his Discworld fantasy series and supporting research for a cure for dementia has received a knighthood. His support for research came on the heels of his diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Well done, Knight Commander.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review of December's Short Fiction

There was an earlier blog post listing the short fiction titles and authors for December's spec-fiction magazines and ezines. Here is a short review of many of those titles. This should inform your purchasing of spec-fiction publications.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's New in Spec Fic Magazines this Month

What's in new issues of Analog, Asimov's, Black Static, Flytrap, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Premonitions, Star*Line, Talebones, and Vector. Larry Niven, Nancy Kress, our own Bruce Holland Rogers in Black Static, and many others.

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