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GENIUS

A few posts down you'll find my Hugo Award ruminations for the Dramatic Presentation categories, where I opine at some length about the best films and television shows I saw last year.

Much as I love SF and fantasy, however, not everything I read or view falls into those categories. I wanted to say a few words about another movie I saw recently, and loved.

It's a film called GENIUS, a period piece set in the 1930s about the relationship between Maxwell Perkins, the legendary Scribners editor, and his most troubled (and troubling) writer, Thomas Wolfe. (No, not Tom Wolfe, the 60s journalist of THE RIGHT STUFF fame, Thomas Wolfe, the doomed 30s novelist of YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN). Stars Colin Firth and Jude Law, both of whom gave brilliant performances. Scripted by John Logan, directed by Michael Grandage.

GENIUS came and went last year almost unnoticed. It was certainly unnoticed by me, else I would have tried to book it for the Jean Cocteau. But it's running on HBO right now, so all those who missed it (virtually everyone) now has another chance to see it.

I hope you do. Especially if you're a writer, or an editor, or have any interest in 20th Century American literature, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Maxwell Perkins.

The movie got very little notice from the world at large, but I loved loved loved it. Maybe because it's a writer's movie. The period is wonderfully evoked, the acting is fine, and there's one ten minute scene in the middle of the movie... from when Wolfe delivers OF TIME AND THE RIVER till when Perkins gets on that train... that I thought was just hilarious, heart-breaking, poetic, painful, and just all-around... blue. A blue that was deeper than blue, a blue such as never before...

Well, let's just say it was a great scene in a fine movie.

Lots of fine movies came out last year, in our genre and out of it. Many of them have been nominated for various Oscars. GENIUS was not, but if I were in the Academy I would certainly have nominated it. Much I loved ARRIVAL and MOANA and some of the other big movies of 2016, I think GENIUS was my favorite film from last year.

Carrie, Carrie, Carrie

We had a fun afternoon with Carrie Vaughn today at the Jean Cocteau. Talked about new book, MARTIANS ABROAD, about Old Mars and New Mars and Podkayne and Heinlein, about her bestselling Kitty Norville series, about her contributions to Wild Cards.

If you missed it, have no fear. We taped it, and plan to upload a streaming video soon.

Before she left, of course, we made her sign lots and lots of books for us, so if you're looking for an autographed copy of MARTIANS ABROAD or any of her earlier books, or a hardcover of INSIDE STRAIGHT signed by both Carrie and yours truly, you need look no further than the JCC bookshop.



Check out these and other signed books at http://jeancocteaucinema.com/product-category/author/

Hugo Thoughts: Dramatic Presentation

That Finnish Worldcon has opened Hugo nominations for 2016, and all over the internet the usual suspects are stirring and sharing their thoughts and recommendations. Being very suspicious my own self, I thought I'd chirp in with my own notions, as I have in years past.

First, the basics (forgive me if you have read this before, which most of you have):

To nominate, you need to be a member of at least one of these three worldcons:
-- MidAmericon II, last year's Kansas City worldcon,
-- the current year's worldcon, in Helsinki,
-- the 2018 worldcon, ConJose II, in San Jose, California.

If you were a member of MAC II, you're set. If not, you need to join one or the other of the forthcoming cons... and to secure nominating rights, you need to do that by January 31. Which means you have THREE MORE DAYS to join. Once you've signed up, though, you'll have another six weeks or so to decide what you want to nominate. You do NOT have to attend to be able to nominate. Supporting Memberships are also available, at a much lower rate.

To join the Helsinki con, go to:
http://www.worldcon.fi/

To join for San Jose, the address is:
http://www.worldcon76.org/

Once you've signed up, you will be sent your own personalized link to the nominations page, which will allow you to nominate the books, stories, movies, television shows, artists, fans, and editors whose work most wowed you this past year.

The Hugo Awards were first given in 1953, and remain our field's most prestigious, important, and meaningful awards. The list of Hugo winners is a Who's Who in science fiction and fantasy, and you can have a voice in determining which names are added to that distinguished roster besides those of Alfred Bester, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jack Vance, Connie Willis, Samuel R. Delany, N.K. Jemisin, James Tiptree Jr, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Gardner Dozois, Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Anne Leckie, Anne McCaffery, and so many many more.

Today I thought I'd ruminate a bit on the Dramatic Presentation Hugos. There are two of those: Long Form and Short Form. For all practical purposes, Long Form means "feature films" and Short Form means "television episodes," though the rules actually allow all sorts of other things to be nominated (live theatre, radio plays, easter eggs, slide shows, albums, once even an acceptance speech from the previous year, which was kind of the height of stupidity). But the only real hard and fast criterion here is running time.

This year's Long Form race is going to be dominated by two movies, I have no doubt. ROGUE ONE is a Star Wars film, and a pretty good one at that (the best since THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, imnsho); it has to be the odds on favorite going in. ARRIVAL, however, could give it some tough competition; a brilliant, powerful adaptation of a Ted Chiang story, relentlessly intelligent, well filmed, well acted (how Amy Adams did not get an Oscar nod I will never understand).

If we presume that ROGUE ONE and ARRIVAL are shoe-ins, though, the question remains as to what will occupy the other four slots on the final ballot. Certainly there were other genre movies released last year. DR. STRANGE, INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE, PASSENGERS, A MONSTER CALLS, THE JUNGLE BOOK, GHOSTBUSTERS, X-MEN, STAR TREK, yadda yadda yadda. Myself, I liked some of these a lot, other less, and still others I have yet to see. Some may make my ballot.

There's another option, however: television series. And it's an option well worth considering.

See, the rules allow a television show to be nominated in two different ways. You can nominate an individual episode of a series in Short Form, so long as it is under ninety minutes, or you can nominate an entire season as a whole in Long Form. (You can actually do both if you really like a show, but the Hugo administrators will then make the showrunners chose which nomination to accept, so the same show cannot appear simultaneous in both categories). Most recently, it happened to GAME OF THRONES. At the Chicago worldcon, GAME OF THRONES season one won the rocket in Long Form, ahead of several feature films. (In subsequent years, however, GOT won in Short Form, for individual episodes).

In today's television world, there are two different sorts of shows: episodic series, where every week tells a self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and an end, and serial shows, where the entire season is one story, one continuous dramatic arc, with no resolution until the final episode (if then). LAW & ORDER is its various incarnations is an example of the former, HBO's recent brilliant courtroom drama THE NIGHT OF an instance of the latter. In the not-too-distant past, episodic shows used to dominate television drama, but in recent years that has definitely changed. These days we have a real mix, though to my mind the best shows are almost all serials. The longer format allows you to do so much more.

This is truly the Golden Age for science fiction and fantasy on television, with more interesting series than ever before... most of them serial dramas. WESTWORLD, for instance. Terrific show. But the entire season is one story. To me, it makes no sense to pick an episode at random and nominate it in Short Form, when every episode depended so much on what had come before and what was to follow. I will be nominating WESTWORLD season one in Long Form, and I urge other WESTWORLD fans to do the same. Then we have STRANGER THINGS, recent Golden Globe nominee, another cool new genre show... I loved the series, but looking back, did I love one episode? No, I loved the whole story, so I'd nominate STRANGER THINGS, season one. Ditto for PENNY DREADFUL, the final season, which wrapped up in fine style last year. You could also make a case for MR. ROBOT, if you consider that sf.

And, of course, there's GAME OF THRONES. Our sixth season won an unprecedented number of Emmys, setting an all-time record. And there are individual episodes that won Emmy acclaim: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss won for writing for "Battle of the Bastards," Miguel Sapochnik took the directing Emmy for the same episode, and "The Door" also earned a directing nomination for Jack Bender. But it was the season as a whole that won for Best Drama, and for me, at least, it makes the most sense to nominate GAME OF THRONES, season six, in Long Form.

When I look at the other movies eligible this year, aside from the Big Two, I see some good work, for sure... but nothing that stands head and shoulders above shows like WESTWORLD, STRANGER THINGS, PENNY DREADFUL, and GOT. I think the time has come for serial television drama to have more of a presence in the Long Form category.

And what about Short Form, you ask?

There are still plenty of episodic shows left, more than enough to fill that category. GRIMM and ORPHAN BLACK and FLASH have all been nominated in recent years, and their fans will likely have favorite episodes again this year. And then there are the anthology shows, the most outstanding of which is BLACK MIRROR. As with TWILIGHT ZONE and OUTER LIMITS in days of yore, every episode of BLACK MIRROR is self-contained, and many of them are brilliant. (Dark as hell, disturbing, but masterfully done). Your favorite BLACK MIRROR episodes should definitely be nominated here; so far, the show has been criminally overlooked in the Hugos. Of course, there's DR. WHO as well. I don't know which episodes will be nominated this year, but there will surely be one. Or two. Or three. Or four. For GOT fans who reject my Long Form argument, or prefer to nominate in both categories, "The Door" and "Battle of the Bastards" are the likely contenders.

And then there is the interesting case of THE EXPANSE. You could make a good argument for nominating the entire first season of THE EXPANSE in Long Form, as with WESTWORLD or GAME OF THRONES or STRANGER THINGS, since it is one continuous story. However, the airing dates of THE EXPANSE season one straddled the calendar year, so half of the episodes came out in 2015. Not sure what that does to the show's eligibilty. (Two of those early episodes did garner considerable support last year, and would likely have made the ballot if not for the Puppies). In light of that complication, I think EXPANSE fans (like me) should probably nominate their favorite episode in Short Form. My pick would be the season finale, "Leviathan Wakes." Originally broadcast on February 2, 2016, it is clearly eligible, whereas the earlier episodes are not.

Those are my thoughts on the Drama categories in this year's Hugo Awards. You're welcome to share your own. (As ever, please stay ON TOPIC or your comments will be nuked).

No matter which shows and movies you chose to nominate... NOMINATE. Surely the events of 2016 have demonstrated the importance of voter turnout.

Wild Cards Take Texas

We're calling the latest Wild Cards volumes the America Triad. First one up was MISSISSIPPI ROLL, which we completed and turned in back in October. Then came LOW CHICAGO, delivered in December. And now comes the third and final book in our cross country tour: TEXAS HOLD 'EM.

Another one done. The manuscript went off to our editors at Tor yesterday. Hot damn!

The table of contents for this one:
Caroline Spector "Bubbles and the Band Trip"
Max Gladstone "The Secret Life of Rubberband"
William F. Wu "Jade Blossom's Brew"
Diana Rowland "Beats, Bugs, and Boys"
Walton Simons "Is Nobody Going to San Antone?"
Victor Milan "Dust and the Darkness"
David Anthony Durham "Drop City"

TEXAS HOLD 'EM is the final book in the America Triad, and the twenty-sixth volume of the overall series... but no, it's not necessary to have read the first twenty-five to enjoy this one. In fact, it's not even necessary to have read MISSISSIPPI ROLL and LOW CHICAGO (though we hope you will). The America books are not a triad in the traditional sense, like the ones we have done before; they are more in the nature of three stand-alones, linked thematically rather than by plot. Aside from a couple of double-dippers, each book of the three has a different roster of writers.

The cast in TEXAS HOLD 'EM includes long time fan favorites like the Amazing Bubbles, Mr. Nobody, and Rustbelt, and brings back a couple of minor players from past books in much bigger roles (Jade Blossom from INSIDE STRAIGHT, the Darkness from SUICIDE KINGS), but you'll meet a bunch of fun new characters as well. Diana Rowland and Max Gladstone are here making their Wild Cards debuts (Abandon hope, all ye who enter here). I think you'll love their work as much as I do.

TEXAS HOLD 'EM is a departure for us in other ways as well. Like the Marvel and DC universes, the Wild Cards universe is huge, and allows for all sorts of different stories. Last summer's HIGH STAKES was our horror outing, and one of the darkest we have ever done. TEXAS HOLD 'EM is the other side of the coin; a romp, light-hearted and frenetic, with touchs of screwball comedy.

Which doesn't mean it was easy. "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard," someone once said (just who is a matter of dispute).

Look for TEXAS HOLD 'EM sometime next year. At last word, Tor is slating MISSISSIPPI ROLL for publication in hardcover in the fall of this year, with Chicago and Texas to follow, but we don't have hard dates for those two yet, but you'll know when we do.

Meanwhile, we have further Wild Cards books in mind... and that TV series in the works...

Remember, we can't die yet. We haven't seen the Jolson Story.

Facts

The late great Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

So make no mistake, when Kellyanne Conway talks about "alternative facts," what she means is lies.

Here's another quote for you: "“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

That one is from Josef Goebbels. Keep him in mind when you hear the big lies repeated ad nauseum.

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Wild Card Artwork Wanted

We've added a couple cool new things to the official Wild Cards website.

First off, a new blog post about Superworld, the role-playing game that inspired Wild Cards, from Steve Perrin, who created it.

Also, we've added a brand new art gallery at http://www.wildcardsworld.com/art-gallery/

Thing is, there's no art in the art gallery... yet. That's where we hope you will come in. We want Wild Cards art! Yes, we'll be putting up some of the superb cover art and interior illustrations that the books have featured over the decades, but we also hope this page will be a place to showcase some fan art, and maybe discover some new talent.

So if you've got that restless urge to draw, and own a paintbrush or a box of colored pencils, we'd love to see what you can do. There's a link right on the page where you can send your work. Everything that's appropriate will be posted (please note, we want Wild Cards artwork ONLY, so don't send us portraits of Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen, or Harry Potter, or Spider-Man, or ANYTHING that is not Wild Cards inspired).

Also, if you look through the author bios and character sketches elsewhere on the site, you'll note that there are many Wild Cards characters who have NEVER been illustrated. We've love to have some thumbnails to add to those entries. We don't promise to accept anything or everything... but for those who send us something cool enough to make the cut, we have free autographed hardcovers of INSIDE STRAIGHT.

Fly high, aces.

Carrie Is Coming...

... back to the Jean Cocteau.

Colorado's own Carrie Vaughn, one of our favorite people, will be returning to New Mexico on Sunday for an author event at the Jean Cocteau. We'll do doing an interview and a Q&A, and Carrie will be signing copies of her new novel, MARTIANS ABROAD.



We'll also have plenty of copies of Carrie's Kitty Norville series on hand for autographing, as well as all the Wild Cards books that she has contributed to. (Her Wild Cards characters include Curveball, Earth Witch, Rikki, and Wild Fox).

The fun starts on Sunday at 1:00pm. Come join us, in you're in the vicinity of Santa Fe. And if you're not, you can still get a signed book by mailorder through the JCC website.

Then There Were Two

Another week, another round of NFL playoffs.

Last week in the divisional round, we got two great games and two blowouts. I was hoping that this week's conference championships would give us more exciting contests, but no such luck. The Falcons ripped right through Green Bay and the Patriots obliterated the Steelers. Neither contest was even remotely competitive.

Not much to say about either game, really. Aaron Rodgers is amazing, yes, but he doesn't play defense, and the Packer D could not even seem to slow down Matty Ice, let alone stop him. And the Patriots... yeah, yeah, Brady is good, especially when you give him weeks to sit in the pocket unmolested and don't cover his receivers. I watched him complete pass after pass that seemed to be totally uncontested, with the receiver standing all alone and not a defender within yards.

Anyway, we have our SuperBowl: Patriots against Falcons.

Nothing much to say but GO FALCONS.

Meanwhile, I am thinking about next year's draft...

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Drummer Boy Plays Again

Rock and roll will never die, boys and girls... but rockers do.

Time to head over to Tor.com for the last great set from Joker Plague.

That's Stephen Leigh on story, and John Picacio on artwork. The title of the album is "The Atonement Tango."



You can find it -- for free -- at http://www.tor.com/2017/01/18/the-atonement-tango/

Boogie on down and give a listen!

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Hugo Time

It's that time again. Another year has ended, another worldcon is on the horizon (The Finnish Convention, this August, in Helsinki), and nominations are once again open for the Hugo Awards for the best science fiction and fantasy of 2016.

To nominate, you need to be a member of at least one of these three worldcons:
-- MidAmericon II, last year's Kansas City worldcon,
-- the current year's worldcon, in Helsinki,
-- the 2018 worldcon, ConJose II, in San Jose, California.

Unless you've got a time machine, it's too late to join MidAmericon II, but signing up for Helsinki and San Jose is easy enough... and the sooner you do it, the less you'll be spending, since the cost of membership rises as we get nearer to the con. You do NOT have to attend to be able to nominate. Supporting Memberships are also available, at a much lower rate.

To join the Helsinki con, go to:
http://www.worldcon.fi/

To join for San Jose, the address is:
http://www.worldcon76.org/

Join one, join the other, join both. Come if you can, but nominate even if you can't.

Once you've signed up, you will be sent your own personalized link to the nominations page, which will allow you to nominate the books, stories, movies, television shows, artists, fans, and editors whose work most wowed you this past year.

The Hugo Awards were first given in 1953, and remain our field's most prestigious, important, and meaningful awards. The list of Hugo winners is a Who's Who in science fiction and fantasy, and you can have a voice in determining which names are added to that distinguished roster besides those of Alfred Bester, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jack Vance, Connie Willis, Samuel R. Delany, N.K. Jemisin, James Tiptree Jr, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Gardner Dozois, Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Anne Leckie, Anne McCaffery, and so many many more.

And yes, come to worldcon if you can. The best place to meet and hang with your favorite writers. Including me...

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