On this day in 1962, the NS Savannah sailed on her maiden voyage. Savannah was the first nuclear powered passenger ship and she was commissioned as part of Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative, which sought to rebrand nuclear power after the use of atomic force in WWII. Savannah ended up visiting 45 foreign ports and taking 848 passengers, before being decommissioned and moored in Baltimore, Maryland.
Writing, Editing, and Publishing:
Perhaps the biggest news in SFF publishing this week comes to us from LonCon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London this past weekend. The Hugo Awards were announced, with Ann Leckie winning best novel for Ancillary Justice, Charles Stross winning for his novella “Equoid,” Mary Robinette Kowal for her novelette “Lady Astronaut of Mars,” and John Chu winning for his short story, “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere.”
And I just wanna take a minute to brag on Ann Leckie. Ancillary Justice is the first novel to win the Nebula, the Arthur C. Clarke, and the Hugo—the Triple Crown of SFF writing. As if that weren’t big enough, it’s Leckie’s first novel. As far as I can tell, she hadn’t even published before 2006. Finally, she’s a woman—which is a big deal in publishing and an even bigger deal in SFF (and if you don’t believe me, check out the 2013 VIDA Count or this study of SFF blogs). Hooray Ann Leckie, hooray SFF community!
Coming up to World Con, Strange Horizons published a fascinating series of essays entitled, “The State of British SF and Fantasy: A Symposium.” Check it out if you want some in-depth analysis and insider opinion on the ways SFF is evolving in Britain.
The Guardian sticks up for a kid whose parents are concerned that he just wants to read (and re-read) his favorite fantasy novels, while also adding a lot of great reading suggestions.
Finally, Lev Grossman wrote a beautiful essay for the NY Times on how fantasy helped him find his voice, and another great essay for Time on how magic conquered pop culture. In both, he makes some good observations on how fantasy, and the popular perception of fantasy, has changed in the past couple of decades.
Movies and Television:
Um, you guys? I may need resuscitation here in a second, because I just found out that Margaret Atwood’s recent SF trilogy (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam) is being developed into an HBO series. Check out this Vulture interview with her here.
Do you watch Parks and Rec? (I do.) Do you identify with Ben, the show’s resident nerd and fan-boy? (I do.) Then maybe you’ll be interested that know that Cones of Dunshire, Ben’s fictional game he created, is going to be released for real play.
When I was searching around Strange Horizons, I found this article about female medieval warriors. Not strictly fantasy, but pretty cool, especially if you are thinking about writing a medieval-ish fantasy novel and want some real life inspiration.
Salvador Dali may be the artist with the most badass sounding name ever: Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol. He is also one of the most iconic, eccentric figures in art history (and that’s really saying something.) He is instantly recognizable with his slick parted hair, his waxed pencil mustache, and his fierce gaze like a stage hypnotist. And if you’ve seen Adrien Brody play him in Midnight in Paris, you realize what a funny, weird guy he was.
His art is weird, too. Just look at those animals prancing on mile-high legs, like some eldritch version of Disney’s Fantasia. He is one of the quintessential surrealists and his work abounds in figures of time and change: clocks, eggs, and planets. My favorite this week is the portrait of the woman. She looks like your typical classical female portrait, a Renaissance Virgin perhaps, until you look closer and realize that her face is composed of planets. Some of the planets hang motionless, others zoom around the page. I don’t get it, but it is magical and strange.