Monday, June 30, 2008

"Journey to the Center of the Earth"

Turner Classic Movies showed the 1959 version of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" on Sunday afternoon. The wife and I watched it. She had never seen it, I haven't seen it in many years. We both enjoyed it. I remember when I was a little kid, how impressed I was by the ruins of Atlantis, the "slurpasaurs", and the evil Count Saknusson. And that evil oboe theme when the lizard monster appears at the end!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"One degree is not a large distance..."

Charlie Jade has about as much of a cyberpunk feel about it as possible, especially the first episode - lots of halogen back-lighting and short circuits arcing in the background (when you're in his world, the Alphaverse).

Now, if you like Steampunk, there is a neat little series that came out of Australia in 2005, "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello". Here's a video:

Very stylish, the voicework is excellent, and the animation, in that Indonesian shadow puppet style, really seems to work.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fiction Liberation Front

Austin-based author Lew Shiner's web site, the Fiction Liberation Front, has expended it range into book-length works, and he's offering for free his novel, "Black & White". I think the Fiction Liberation Front deserves a little plug, and I want to quote a little bit of what Mr. Lew says on its home page.

"Short fiction endures because it provides a way of introducing writers to new readers, and because there are stories that need to be told at that length.

"For all these reasons I've decided to open myself to this uncertain future. Starting now, I plan to make all my short fiction and articles available on the web, both in HTML for easy browsing and in typeset PDFs for those who might want to print them. The process of conversion will take a while, but I hope to get to everything eventually, including a number of previously unpublished pieces and even some unsold screenplays.

"I'll also be adding new short fiction, music reviews, and articles from time to time, though I won't guarantee that I won't also publish short pieces elsewhere. I'm launching the site with three previously unpublished stories ("Straws," "Fear Itself," and "Golfing Vietnam") plus a major story from 2004 ("Perfidia") that's had only limited circulation."

The web address is:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Canadian author Margaret Atwood awarded prestigious Spanish literary prize

Margaret Atwood seems to be one of those authors, like the lake Kurt Vonnegut, who fall between the two stools of genre fiction and so-called “mainstream” literature (whatever the heck that is). In her case, of course, the genre stool she is slipping off of all the time is s-f. She’s written some outstanding s-f works, “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Oryx and Crake” coming quickly to mind, but over the years she been quoted making some very ambivalent statements about the genre. Something about “talking space squids” comes to mind.
Interestingly enough, I found this news first in Spanish via the Associated Press. I am the editor of a daily newspaper that uses the AP, and we publish a weekly Spanish-language edition. While working on the edition today, I found the story on the Spanish-language version of the AP news wire (and used it, too). But of course I went to the web site for the Prince of Asturias awards to get their news release, which I have published below.


The Canadian writer Margaret Atwood has been bestowed with the prestigious 2008 Prince of Asturias Award for Letters. The decision was announced by the Jury in Oviedo Wednesday, June 25.
The leading figure in Canadian literature and one of the most outstanding voices of contemporary fiction, Margaret Atwood offers in her novels a politically committed, critical view of the world and contemporary society, while revealing extraordinary sensitivity in her copious poetical oeuvre, a genre which she cultivates with great skill.
This candidature was proposed by Rogelio Blanco, Director General for Books, Archives and Libraries at the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
Considered one of the most outstanding novelists and poets on the contemporary scene, Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada). A book lover since very young, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Victoria College, University of Toronto, and then went on to pursue postgraduate studies at Radcliff College, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and at the University of Harvard. She has lectured in English Literature at a number of Canadian universities, including the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Sir George Williams University in Montreal and York University in Toronto. A full-time writer since 1972, she has chaired the Writers? Union of Canada (1981-1982) and the Canadian chapter of the International PEN Club for Writers (1984-1986).
A truly prolific author, she obtained international recognition with the publication of her novel The Edible Woman (1969), which was followed by Surfacing (1972), Lady Oracle (1976), Life Before Man (1980), Cat?s Eye (1988) and The Robber Bride (1993). The plot of her novels frequently focuses on the figure of women, their maturity and changes in sexual roles.
She is also a consummate poet. Her poetry (a genre in which she started writing at the age of nineteen) incorporates mythological, cultural, literary and pictorial references, as in Double Persephone (1961), The Circle Game (1964) and Procedures for Underground (1970). In You are Happy (1974) and Two-Headed Poems (1978), she revealed her interest in social literature: in the former she explores women?s oppression and in the latter, the latent conflict existing in Canada between two cultures and two languages. These concerns were to newly emerge in True Stories (1981), Interlunar (1984) and Morning in the Burned House (1995).
Some of her novels have also been adapted for the cinema and the theatre, such as The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid?s Tale (1985) (also staged as an opera), Alias Grace (1996) and The Blind Assassin (2000). Her latest works include the novel Oryx and Crake (2003), the collection of short stories The Tent (2006), and the book of poetry The Door (2007). Ms. Atwood´s work has been published in more than thirty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.
Winner of the 2000 Booker Prize, the highest award for literature in the English language, she has also received the Canadian Governor General?s Literary Award (1966 and 1986), the Canadian Booksellers Association Award (1977, 1989 and 1996), the Toronto Book Award (1977 and 1989), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (1986), the Welsh Arts Council International Writer?s Prize (UK, 1982), the Arthur C. Clarke Award (UK, 1987), the Canadian Authors? Association Novel of the Year (1993), the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence (UK, 1994), the Giller Prize (Canada, 1996), the Premio Mondello (Italy, 1997), the London Literature Award (1999) and the Crime Writers? Association Dashiell Hammett Award (USA, 2001). She has received honorary doctorates from several universities, such as Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds, Toronto and Montreal, is Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Literature, as well as a Companion of the Order of Canada. She has likewise been awarded the Order of Ontario and the Norwegian Order of Literary Merit and is a member of the Royal Society of Canada.
For her part, Atwood issued the following statement in Toronto today:
"I am thrilled and honoured to have been awarded this highly important prize. The Prince of Asturias Awards are not only a great tribute to literature, the humanities, and the sciences, but also to the universal project of building a sane, human society".


One last thought: As an author who writes “mainstream” literature who doesn’t shy away from dipping her toe into s-f when it suits her, does that make Atwood one of the Children of a (Doris) Lessing God?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And the winners are...

The winners of the 2008 Locus Awards have been announced.

SF NOVEL: The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)
FANTASY NOVEL: Making Money by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK; HarperCollins)
YOUNG ADULT BOOK: Un Lun Dun by China MiƩville (Ballantine Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
FIRST NOVEL: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (Morrow; Gollancz)
NOVELLA: "After the Siege" by Cory Doctorow (The Infinite Matrix Jan 2007)
NOVELETTE: "The Witch's Headstone" by Neil Gaiman (Wizards)
SHORT STORY: "A Small Room in Koboldtown" by Michael Swanwick (Asimov's Apr/May 2007)
COLLECTION: The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories by Connie Willis (Subterranean)
ANTHOLOGY: The New Space Opera by Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan (Editors) (Eos)
NON-FICTION: Breakfast in the Ruins by Barry N. Malzberg (Baen)
ART BOOK: The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Lothian 2006; Scholastic)
EDITOR: Ellen Datlow
ARTIST: Charles Vess

Monday, June 23, 2008

In case you missed it...

There was an AFI (American Film Institute) TV special last week (Tuesday, June 17) on the Top Ten movies in the ten most common film genres. This was one of those cases where the public logged in and voted their choices off a list of nominations. The winners in science fiction were:

1 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
7 ALIEN (1979)

A number of these winners were foregone conclusions; with the possible exception of the Gangster category (where the Godfather topped the list) the top choice of "2001" was one of the easiest to predict.

The film that should have been on the list? "Forbidden Planet".

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wow, this is great!

Buddy Holly is an off-stage character in "The Witch of Waxahachie" and in a sequel which is being shopped around he comes front and center, as President of the Republic of Texas.

I was doing some research on YouTube and found this. Holly wrote many nearly-perfect rock and roll tunes, but I've always thought "Think it Over" is one of the best, perhaps only surpassed by "Rave On".

This is NOT the version of "Think it Over" that charted, this was the fourth take. The one that was actually mastered was the next take, the fifth, and featured the piano as the bridge.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Whatta buncha idiots...

The sci-fi channel has always been one of the most wasted resources for the genre, because it combines the worst and most common elements of American business practices - no knowledge or concern of its product, slipshod planning, poor decision making and lousy customer relations. Hardly anyone serious about s-f watches it. I really don't even know why it exists.

BUT, even with its horrible track record, I am amazed at the news, which I was pointed to by, on the Pop Critics web site, that - in reaction to its poor ratings for its first two weeks, the show will be moved to 3 a.m. Mondays starting next week.

"I can’t be too upset by this," blogged Richard Porter. "Clearly the show was underperforming on Friday nights and the programming wizards at SciFi needed to move it. What impresses me is the depth of analysis they performed to figure out its new home. Who knew Charlie Jade did so well with insomniacs and people who buy Flowbies?

"They haven’t canceled it, just buried it. Since I imagine most people are time-shifting with DVRs anyway, it’s really not that big a deal for existing viewers. New viewers, of course, are off the table. No one is going to “discover” this little gem of a show at 3am. But as long as SciFi airs it, and as long as Mike and Jason are willing to give me the space, I’ll be recapping CJ here at Pop Critics.

"Of course if SciFi decides they need that primo 3am Monday slot to sell Cortislim or “Hip Hop Abs”, then I guess I’ll give it up."

Nice touch of appropriate sarcasm. When I filled out my recent questionnaire for Armadillocon, the only write-in suggestion I made - which I thought would be appropriate for anyone interested in alternate history - was a panel on "Charlie Jade".

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nice appreciation

John DeNardo at SF Signal posted his review of the April issue of Baen's Universe on June 10. He was very complimentary of the magazine:

"The April 2008 issue of Jim Baen's Universe (Issue #12, also known as Volume 2, Number 6) closes out their second year of publication with 12 pieces of short fiction and a handful of articles. Particular standouts in this issue are "Manumission" by Tobias S. Buckell and "Honorable Enemies" by Mike Resnick. Both stories take place in worlds I've visited before, and it was fun to return to them again.

"Before I get to the reviews, a few words about the magazine itself. I've been reading this bi-monthly magazine for the past year, missing only one of those issues due to time constraints. On the whole, it's been a very positive experience. Being electronic, I can access it from anywhere. The multiple formats make it easy to read on a PC or handheld device. The caliber of talent they get is consistently impressive making each magazine worthy of the price of admission. They also showcase new talent besides seasoned authors making it an attractive venue for writers in any stage of their careers. They also offer a decent mix of science fiction and fantasy and, although the fantasy stories are less suited to my particular sf-leaning tastes, I must admit that some of them impressed me quite a bit. The worst thing I can say about Jim Baen's Universe is that the artwork is a bit amateur for a professionally published magazine. One could successfully argue that their budget is being spent on high-quality fiction instead of the visuals and that the magazine is better for it. You'll get no argument from me. If I had to choose, I'll choose the better fiction every time."

As for his appreciation of "The Witch of Waxahachie":

"The Witch of Waxahachie" is a quick-moving parallel world story by Lou Antonelli. A group of Texans accidentally open a portal to a parallel world that fostered magic instead of technology around the time of the Industrial Revolution. There's not much more than that basic plot nor does there need to be. Well, maybe more characterization would have been welcome. In the end, the story makes for an interesting sf/fantasy hybrid that nicely avoids my usual indifference towards fantasy and makes for a fun read."

"A fun read"! Yep, that's what I try for. Thanks, John!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More on Howard's condition

The most recent reports I have seen say Howard came out of surgery and was doing well Tuesday evening. Although he couldn't talk because of a ventilator, visitors said he was cheerful and very communicative within reason. The hospital staff also indicated his recovery was coming along nicely.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The latest on Howard

The most recent word out of Austin is that Howard is out of surgery and in recovery in ICU. They moved his procedure up to 7:30 this morning (Tuesday). He was originally scheduled for Monday, but there were traffic delays in the operating room.

He had a quintuple bypass. By all accounts he did extremely well. If all goes well, he will be transferred to the cardiac recovery floor sometime in the next few days.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bio up at Armadillocon

The folks at Armadillocon 30 have posted my bio on their web site. I tried to write somthing a little snappy, for a change:

Lou Antonelli has been a newspaper reporter and editor since he was 16. When he was 45, for some unfathomable reason, he started writing speculative fiction, and found out he wasn’t half bad at that, either. Since then (2002) he was been published 38 times the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada in magazines such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jim Baen’s Universe, Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine and many others. He is currently the managing editor of the Mount Pleasant (Tx.) Daily Tribune and writes sf each night (ignoring his poor wife Patricia) until the popcorn runs out

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thanks, Ted

Ted Kosmatka, on his blog Thursday, made the following posting:

"Mind Meld has posted a fascinating (and brave) list of 21 writers that it feels are likely to be Tomorrow's Genre Stars. As you might expect, much discussion and contention immediately ensued, and the SF blogosphere imploded on itself. Here's the list:

1.) Paolo Bacigalupi
2.) Darryl Gregory
3.) Jay Lake
4.) David Moles
5.) Benjamin Rosenbaum
6.) Cory Doctorow
7.) T. Kosmatka
8.) Chris Roberson
9.) Vandana Singh
10.) Daniel Abraham
11.) Laird Barron
12.) Elizabeth Bear
13.) Alan DeNiro
14.) Alex Irvine
15.) Paul Melko
16.) Naomi Novik
17.) Tim Pratt
18.) M. Rickert
19.) Jason Stoddard
20.) Karen Traviss
21.) Scott Westerfeld

"This list was compiled from a survey of ten big-name editors in the field who were nice enough to contribute their opinions: Matthew Cheney, Niall Harrison, Paula Guran, Diana Gill, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Colleen Lindsay, and Andrew Wheeler.

I met Ted once, at NASFIC last year, and he's a nice guy. It's good to see the quality of his work getting recognized.

Ted also added some names of his own, and I have to admit, some seemed pretty obvious, like Tobias Buckell and Jack Skillingstead. I said as much with a comment on his page. And he was nice enough to remember me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Howard Waldrop hospitalized

Howard Waldrop is in an Austin hospital. I spoke to him just five minutes ago. The last time he sent me a note, he said he had been having shortness of breath, and he wondered whether he was suffering from adult onset asthma. Turns out, he's having a quintuple bypass Monday.

He got sick last Monday and really couldn't catch his breath. He called 911 and they found out in the emergency room he was suffering from pulmonary edema because of the cardiac insufficiency. He was in the ICU two days, but now he's in a normal hospital room.

At the time they checked him in, he was suffering a urinary infection, so they had to lick that before scheduling him for the bypass. They also learned he has diabetes, and he's developing cataracts in his left eye.

Howard was in good spirits tonight, He said everybody in the sf community in Austin has visited him. I told him I got the bad news through a message posted by Paul DiFillipo.

I cracked a few jokes to give him a few laughs. He sounded very cheerful, and a good attitude will probably help him a lot pull through all this.

Farewell to a pro

I would remiss in not using this space to commemorate Algis Budrys, who passesd away Monday. All recollections I've read about the man say he was smart, courteous and a real pro. Here is the information culled from the SFWA web site:

"Algirdas Jonas Budrys, who wrote, reviewed and edited science fiction as Algis Budrys, passed away on Monday, June 9, 2008 following an extended illness. He was 77.

"He came to the United States from Lithuania at the age of 5 with his father, who was consul-general of the Lithuanian government.

"Known to countless fans and friends as AJ, his writing career began in 1952 with the sale of "The High Purpose" to Astounding Science Fiction. He went on to publish over 200 short stories and novels, including Who?, Rogue Moon, and Michaelmas. He used many pseudonyms, among them were David S. Hodgkins, Ivan Janvier, Paul Janvier, Albert Stroud, ans William Scarff.

"AJ's editorial career included stints at Gnome Press, Galaxy Science Fiction, Regency Books, and Playboy Press, as well as creating the magazine Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, which had 24 print editions prior to going online. For many years, he was Co-ordinating Judge of the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of The Future and an advisor to the Illustrators of The Future Contest.

"He was a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

"Visitation will be Friday 2 - 9PM at at Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie. Illinois with the funeral Saturday at 10AM. Interment will be at Maryhill Cemetery in Niles, Illinois.

"Memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association, 30 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2015, Chicago, IL 60602 or the American Cancer Society, 820 Davis Street, Suite 400, Evanston, IL 60201."

I never met the man, but as I said, everyone says he was a gentleman in every sense of the word, and will be missed.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Holley with an E

Although I have been pre-occupied with finishing up "Dance with me, Henry", I also have finished a sequel to "The Witch of Waxahachie" and it's is in the slush pile at Baen's right now. Wish us luck.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Charlie Jade

I caught the first episode of a syndicated series picked up by the Sci-Fi channel tonight, "Charlie Jade". I was tipped off to its existence by the most recent issue of SFCrowsnet. Like most serious SF-type people, I would normally rather watch anything than the sci-Fi channel, but I gave "Jade" a shot. It was interesting. If you need some background, here's the page entry on wikipedia:

As someone who studied South African history in college (which knowledge later helped my when I wrote "The Amerikaan Way"), I find the setting in Cape Town (or Cape City, deending what universe you're talking about) fascinating.

It's a cyberpunk update of the hard-boiled private-eye story, which opens it up to fans of crime stories. My wife watched it with me.

Although the multi-verse switching gets confusing at times, I was hooked and I certainly will come back next Friday to see what happens next.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Preparing for DilloCon

I got my questionnaire for ArmadillonCon 30 in the email today. It will be held August 15-17 at the Doubletree Austin North. The guests will be (their descriptions, not mine):

Guest of Honor
John Scalzi the Fluffy

Artist Guest of Honor
David Lee Anderson the Silly

Fan Guest of Honor
Kelly Persons the Handy

Editor Guest of Honor
Sheila Williams the Liberating

Bill Crider the Outrageous

Special Guests of Honor
Joe & Gay Haldeman the Accidentally Timely

This will be the first time I've attended as a panelist, and the first time I've been there since 2004. The other panelists will be:

Neal Barrett, Jr.
Paul Benjamin
Matthew Bey
Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Scott Bobo
Elizabeth Burton
Deborah Chester
Scott A. Cupp
Bradley Denton
Jennifer DiCamillo
Rose Dimond
Vincent Docherty
David Duggins
Rhonda Eudaly
Mark Finn
Melanie Miller Fletcher
Brad W. Foster
Kimberly Frost
Janice Gelb
John K. Gibbons
Mitchell Graham
Beverly Hale
Joan Upton Hall
Rory Harper
Samantha Henderson
M. K. Hobson
Kenneth Huey
Gorg Huff
Al Jackson
Rocky Kelley
Julie Kenner
Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
Rick Klaw
Kim Kofmel
Joe R. Lansdale
Alexis Glynn Latner
William Ledbetter
Stina Leicht
Tess Mallory
Eric T. Marin
A. Lee Martinez
J. M. McDermott
Maureen F. McHugh
Joe McKinney
Paul O. Miles
C. J. Mills
John Moore
Nancy Jane Moore
Chris Nakashima-Brown
Gloria Oliver
Lawrence Person
John Picacio
Alan J. Porter
Doug Potter
Lon Prater
James Reasoner
Jessica Reisman
Carrie Richerson
Chris Roberson
Paige Roberts
Rob Rogers
Selina Rosen
Josh Rountree
Tony Salvaggio
Patrice Sarath
Rie Sheridan
Willie Siros
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Debbie Lynn Smith
Caroline Spector
William Browning Spencer
S. Andrew Swann
Mikal Trimm
Melissa Tyler
Susan Wade
Thomas M. Wagner
Howard Waldrop
Lynn Ward
Don Webb
Martha Wells
Patty Wells
Wendy Wheeler
Mark L. Williams
Steve Wilson

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


The June issue of IROSF (Internet Review of Science Fiction) has a buncha short fiction reviewd by Lois Tilton, including the April Baen's:

"It occurs to me that it takes only a couple really fine stories to make an entire issue of a zine memorable. This one, unfortunately, is lacking them. A couple of detective stories are entertaining, but they don't provide enough lift to get the entire issue off the ground."

Oh, well, after reading that for a start, I hardly had my hopes up. She went on when she came to my story:

"A sort of tall interdimensional tale that begins when the government cancels the superconducting supercollider project in Texas. It sits empty for a while until a mad scientist called (of course) Doc shows up with the notion of firing the collider up again to create a rift in the fourth dimension. This requires the collusion of several locals, including the newspaper editor, our narrator, a sheriff's deputy and his drug-sniffing dog, Sergeant Lucy.

"A bright blue glowing wave roiled like the apocalypse at us back up the injection tunnel.
I just had time to blurt "Oh, sh…!" before it hit us, and everything went black.

"The experimenters find themselves in an alternate universe that includes doubles of some of them, a universe where magic was developed and technology was not. Fortunately, the local sorceress uses a Truth spell to confirm their story and let them out of jail.

"The magic/technology premise is pretty hoary, but the local Texas color freshens up the entertainment value a tad."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Memories of Marcon

This past weekend saw local high school graduations both Friday and Saturday night. In my current position, I don't have to cover them, but the events made me remember four years ago, how I accepted an invite to be a panelist at Marcon in Columbus, Ohio, while forgetting that Friday was high school graduation night.
Gardner Dozois accepted my story "A Rocket for the Republic" in March 2004, and I realized it might behoove me to attend more cons (up to that point, I had attended a grand total of three).
I attended the graduation Friday night and then drove 14 hours (with my wife) to reach Columbus in time for my 2 p.m. Saturday panel with Ellen Datlow, Julie Czernada and Paul Stevens. The only reason I was on time was because I picked up an hour when I crossed into the Eastern Time Zone.
All in all, it was a very useful event, but -- bless their hearts -- I've never accepted another invite from them.
I was saddened to read that Robert Asprin, who was to be the GOH as Marcon this year, died just a couple of days beforehand. His "Cold Cash Wars" was one of my favorite books I read in the 1980s.
I met him at ConDFW in 2005. That was the last one I attended as a fan. During the closing I testified that, having attended my first con (Con DFW) two years before, I had learned so much and done so well that I had a story coming out in Asimov's that summer. (I've always been very grateful to ConDFW). Asprin professed to be suitably impressed.
He seemed to be a nice guy. I'm glad I had a chance to meet him.

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

By LOU ANTONELLI Managing Editor It’s rained almost daily for the past four months. The ground is saturated; walking across grass is lik...