WWWednesday: October 21, 2015

Ursula K LeGuin was born on this date in 1929. Her father was an anthropologist and her mother was a writer. LeGuin got her bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe and a Master’s from Columbia, and received a Fulbright grant to study in France. She began writing science fiction stories when she was nine, to keep up with her brothers, she has side. She sent her first story out when she was eleven years old, to Astounding Science Fiction, but it was rejected. After that, though, things turned around, and she has won four Nebulas, two Hugos, five Locus awards, one World Fantasy Award and was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution in American Letters by the National Book Foundation in 2014. A brilliant writer, a poet, a sharp scholar, LeGuin is also a vocal and passionate champion of the speculative fiction genre. Happy Birthday!

And, today is the date Marty McFly went forward to, in Back to the Future II.

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(c) J. Otto Szatmari The Suspended Metropolis

All Hallows Read

Neil Gaiman invented “All Hallows Read,” a holiday celebrated, on October 31, by giving loved ones and friends scary books to read. The event has expanded and libraries and bookstores now observe the day. Some people, like me, even offer trick-or-treaters books. (H/T to Skye.)

Speaking of Halloween, here’s an early Halloween treat for you: Christopher Walken reads Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven.” Some listeners may find the background sounds distracting.


Looking for a fun reading challenge? Check out the fun Fantasy ReaderFest challenge. There are ten different challenges, including; re-read an old favorite, read a long (600 page) book, read a book with a main character different from you. It looks fun, and it could be a cool thing to do with your kids.

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(c) J. Otto Szatmari — 6-step Process in Fight Scene

National Novel Writing Month

I’m turning this section over to our reviewer Skye Walker:

Skye: NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month; is an annual challenge in November for all those who want or have ever wanted to write a novel. It is a monolithic task, and you ‘win’ NaNoWriMo by hitting the 50,000 word count. From their website:

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”

NaNoWriMo is more than the challenge however, inspiring and incorporating such endeavors as The Young Writers Program, The Come Write In Program, and Camp NaNoWriMo. All of NaNoWriMo is a non-profit and strives to encourage literacy and creative expression.

As they say, “National Novel Writing Month is a non-profit that believes your story matters.” You can learn more or sign up for this years’ NaNoWriMo at http://nanowrimo.org.

Skye will be participating in NaNoWriMo and we will track her word-count progress in her Sunday Status Reviews, and a couple of check-ins here.


Harper Voyager wants to read you urban fantasy or military SF novel, up to 90,000 words. Their fall open reading period starts November 2. Check out what’s languishing on your hard drive and send it off!

Apex publication invites your 250-word flash-fiction story that involves Christmas and an invasion.

Suvudu interviews Margaret Atwood about her latest book, The Heart Goes Last.

Movies and Television

Joss Whedon says “Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” made him more money than the Avengers. Do you believe this? I’m not sure I do especially since the article, while entertaining, doesn’t talk about money or give any facts. On the other hand, despite his fame and success, he only had a couple of theatrical releases before Avengers, so maybe it’s not a surprise, but wasn’t “Doctor Horrible” free?

Suvudu shares 3 teasers for The Force Awakens. Do you have your tickets already? Of course, because people were happy about it, someone had to try and spoil the fun by creating a boycott, but the internet said, “No!” to that.

IO9 has an interview with Vin Diesel talking about his upcoming movie, The Last Witch Hunter. I had to include this. It’s just so, so… I don’t have the words. And I love the photo of Diesel hugging Groot!

On Reddit, Michael Dorn answers questions about what it was like to be Worf. (Thanks to Ryan for this one.)


Do you like stars? The Hubble Telescope has some for you. Here is a display of the Andromeda galaxy, courtesy of NASA.

Over at the UK Independent, they think the Kepler telescope has discovered alien structures around a star. (Is it a parking structure? I hope it’s a parking structure.) Actually, the argument is pretty “boot-strappy,” but the article is interesting.

Earth (or perhaps a parallel earth…)

Here is the footage of the huge cloud city that appeared over two cities in China, and here is an article. It’s most likely a type of mirage called a Fata Morgana, but it’s still cool.


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(c) J. Otto Szatmari A Tale of Momonga

Amazon is suing people for selling reviews. The 1114 people, all named as “John Does” because Amazon doesn’t now who they are, advertised that they’d write 5 star reviews for $5. Amazon says this “damages their brand.” I guess these are for products, not books. I think this is very interesting. Is it a signal that Amazon intends to look sternly at the writers who invite friends, family and former school teachers to write glowing reviews of their books? Or, the opposite, the hoards of angry people who show up to give a book 1-star reviews because they don’t like something about the writer? I will watch this one with interest.


Quite a few are still active: The City of Blades Giveaway, the Kameron Hurley interview (both books in THE MIRROR EMPIRE series), Collaborative Cliche and the Charles Gannon interview.


J. Otto Szatmari’s work has appeared on the covers of Clarkesworld and other speculative fiction works. He does wonderful cities, but I like his figure work too.

Szatmari lives in Budapest, Hungary, and works mostly digitally. We chatted via e-mail and he shared some tidbits with me. Before shifting to digital, he worked mostly in oil, acrylics and occasionally watercolors. Even after several years, he is still learning something new with the digitl technique every day. He finds that even working digitally (and he has good success with his Andriod tablet) he’ll often quickly sketch something out with brushes and markers. Szatmari lists Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso as some of his influences as well as Stephane Martiniere and Daniel Docieu. One of his favorite books is Embassytown by China Mieville, and he really enjoyed Ridley’s Scott movie The Martian. Check out his art.

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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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SKYE WALKER, on FanLit’s staff since September 2014 (but hanging around since 2007), is from Canada, where she is currently a University student studying Anthropology and Communications. When she isn’t reading or doing school work (or reading for school work) she can be found in one of three places: in a tent in the woods, amid a sea of craft supplies on a floor somewhere, or completing the task of finishing her ‘Must Watch’ movie list. Skye was practically born with a love of fantasy and science fiction (as her name might suggest). These days her favourite authors include Ursula Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Chris Wooding. Skye is in fact a Jedi (we know you were waiting for it).

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  1. Re: Joss Whedon’s claims, he says he’s made over $3 million from the sales of Dr. Horrible DVDs and the soundtrack, which I suppose is possible. The estimation about the first Avengers movie is that he was probably paid at least $1 million to direct. Excuse me while I fail to shed a tear for his horrible poverty.

    And Vin Diesel is a smart, thoughtful, articulate guy who tends to make movies that are not-so-great, which is a shame. He gives fascinating interviews, though.

    • Yeah, I think it was less about Whedon “scraping by” and more about the confusion of “fame” with “fortune.”

      Diesel has done some bad movies! PITCH BLACK was actually good for what it was, though. I loved what he had to say here about the grief process for his friend. He always surprises me.

      • Very true, most people do conflate “fame” with “fortune” and don’t understand the difference.

        Pitch Black was really good (and fun!), but The Chronicles of Riddick was a bit of a mess. I still haven’t seen the third movie he made in that series.

        • A bit of a mess? You’re being kind. That wasn’t on him, though — I blame the director and mostly the studio, which looked carefully at what made PITCH BLACK work, and then threw those elements out.

  2. I didn’t know anyone else handed out books on Halloween (we go used, though only nice used)!

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