Dad Needs the Remote

If you didn’t see them elsewhere, the Writers Guild Awards finalists were announced a week ago. As usual the first round of balloting closed before I was able to see all the front-runners, let alone all the screeners. Final voting closes January 31, so I have some time to catch up.

Of the films I have seen this winter, I can firmly recommend BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, FIRST MAN, ON THE BASIS OF SEX and BLACKKKLANSMAN.

The nominees in the categories I vote in (forgive me for leaving the credits intact, but these are writers’ awards) are below. Feel free to comment on any of these without concern for spoilers.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Eighth Grade
Written by Bo Burnham
Green Book
Written by Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly
A Quiet Place
Screenplay by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski, Story by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck
Roma
Written by Alfonso Cuarón
Vice
Written by Adam McKay

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (Vote for only one (1) Adapted Screenplay)
Blackkklansman
Written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee, Based on the book by Ron Stallworth
Black Panther
Written by Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole, Based on the Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Based on the book by Lee Israel
If Beale Street Could Talk
Screenplay by Barry Jenkins, Based on the novel by James Baldwin
A Star is Born
Screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters, Based on the 1954 screenplay by Moss Hart and the 1976 screenplay by John Gregory Dunne & Joan Didion and Frank Pierson, Based on a story by William Wellman and Robert Carson

DRAMA SERIES
The Americans
Better Call Saul
The Crown
The Handmaid’s Tale
Succession

COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta
Barry
GLOW
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

NEW SERIES
Barry
The Haunting of Hill House
Homecoming
Pose
Succession

Whatever happened to…

Things found when looking for something else:

I still have in my files a Worldcon (pre)registration list from July 1990. I don’t know if this is from the 48th (The Hague), which I didn’t attend, or the 49th (Chicago), which I did.

In any event, it’s a snapshot of the core Worldcon fandom almost 30 years ago. Some familiar names are friends, others acquaintances, others BNFs, concoms, fellow writers, editors, artists I knew only by reputation (or, perhaps, from CompuServe or GEnie–the Web was still a few years away). If I could put a 🌹 before everyone who’s passed away, the result would be distressing. Among the rest, I’m not well positioned to know who’s gafiated (as we largely did when our kids came along) and who’s still around.

In any event, I thought some of you might also have passing interest in this little fragment of fannish history.

July 1990 Worldcon registration list

July 1990 Worldcon registration list

 

Introducing my new publisher

I’m delighted to announce that on Tuesday, I signed a contract with Arc Manor to reissue six of my early Berkley/Ace novels as ebooks. The titles included are EMPRISE, EMPERY, ENIGMA, my P. K. Dick Award nominee ALTERNITIES, my Hugo Award nominee THE QUIET POOLS, and EXILE. The publication schedule isn’t locked down yet, but Fall 2019 seems likely.

If you’ve been following this profile for a while, you know that these novels have been in limbo since the death of publisher Byron Preiss and the dissolution of his iBooks imprint. Bringing them back as ebooks is a goal that I started pursuing in earnest about two years ago, and I want to thank my long-time agent and friend Russ Galen for continuing to believe in me and these works. The seas turned a little rough as we sailed on in search of a safe harbor and a new home port, but here we are at last.

Now I can focus on another promise I made to myself (and to others, even if they weren’t there to hear it)–namely, a new Kube-McDowell novel. Most of my previous novels took about a year to write; let’s see if I can’t keep that promise by this time next year.

Ad astra!

May I have the envelope, please–

It’s screener season again. The trend toward streamable screeners–an access code rather than a DVD–continues. Definitely fewer discs at this point than any previous year: GREEN BOOK, BOY ERASED, FIRST MAN, DEADPOOL 2, BLACKkKLANSMAN, A QUIET PLACE, BEAUTIFUL BOY, THE WIFE, CAN YOU FORGIVE ME? Invitations to free screenings on both coasts, occasionally Chicago but never closer.

Among those who are still sending out DVDs, no one is having more fun with it than Amazon. The packaging for their screeners has creative, audacious, silly, and entertaining in its own right.

The first of the Amazon shipments was preceded by three text alerts that a special handling parcel requiring a signature was en route. It arrived looking like something out of MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE, or a diplomatic pouch, with warnings that opening it meant acceptance of the mission. Inside was a disc sealed in an x-ray proofed nickel-poly bag marked with a case number and other codes, as well as a dossier-style book with a tamperproof seal. It wasn’t until you cut through the former and tore open the latter than you knew all this was for the series HOMECOMING.

A day or two later, more text alerts, another signature, and a plain white cardboard box the size (and weight) of an old BRITANNICA volume. Plain except for the address label and a large red royal crest seemingly stamped on the back. Inside, a glossy book-spine box of the sort a presentation photo album might come in, stamped in gold script: THE ROMANOFFS. On the back side of the cover, the DVDs were in a red envelope with a gold wax signet-ring seal. In the box (with a handy black ribbon to help lift them out) was the most thorough inside-baseball bound script I’ve ever seen, including plans for FX shots and color-coded pages reflecting which draft of the script was included. There were also a couple dozen glossy 8×10 production stills. Surely the most expensive screener package I’ve ever received.

The third and last of the special Amazon mailings was a jet-black tube the diameter of a DVD and almost a foot tall. It was sealed with a hot pink ribbon, and the hot pink end caps declared it for Season 2 of THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL Cut the ribbon and slip off the lid, and you’re greeted by more ribbon, black this time, nearly tying up a hot pink stack of discs. The rest of the tube was occupied by a dozen or so rolled promotional posters.

Compare this to Sony Pictures Classics, which for as long as I’ve been on the list sends out its screeners in those little white envelopes with the clear window–the epitome of minimalism.

I have to admit I actively enjoyed the over-the-top Prime Video packages, which felt more like unwrapping a cleverly wrapped gift than opening the mail. I got the feeling someone (or several someones) had fun coming up with them, too.

I still haven’t watched HOMECOMING or more than the first episode of THE ROMANOFFS, though. 😏

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel screener package from Amazon Prime Video.

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel screener package from Amazon Prime Video.

The Next Good-Bye: Kate Wilhelm

Farewell to Kate Wilhelm, who passed away Sunday. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to call her a friend, but I got to know her a bit through the Clarion Workshop while it was here at MSU, and I had tremendous respect for her as a writer and a teacher. I don’t know how visible Kate Wilhelm was from the hemisphere where most of fandom lives these days–I suspect she was below the horizon of too many of today’s fans–but she was a very bright star in science fiction’s firmament, and her passing leaves a hole in our sky.

Kate Wilhelm

(Photo by me, July 1990, at the Clarion Workshop. I have cropped a shirtless Damon Knight out of the frame.)

High Density

Inertia dictates that all manner of objects will collect in the corners of one’s life. I’ve been in my office working on rebuilding my daughter’s desktop computer, and while looking for a particular installer CD I came across a shoebox holding some retail floppy disc boxes.

Two were partial boxes of virgin 5.25″ HD floppies. (HD=1.2MB – remember?)

One contained archival backups of several novels and assorted other early writings.

And two were stuffed full of empty 5.25″ sleeves from assorted brands. It must have made sense to me to have some in reserve so no floppy would ever go naked. But 40+? Inertia again, I suppose.

For the nostalgia value, here’s a photo with some familiar and some nearly forgotten names.

Heavy Metal

And that’s the way it’s done.

I felt like I was 14 again watching it.

Reportedly, there’s also a diecast Tesla with a tiny astronaut somewhere in the car, as an Easter egg.

And this is the prettiest sight I’ve seen in a long time.

Address Update

I’ve closed the post office box which I’ve been using for business since 1991, so as of 10/30/2017
 
PO Box 22066
Lansing, MI 48909-2066
 
is no longer a valid address for me. Please update your records accordingly–thanks!
 
This was my “public” mailing address, which was published in my STAR WARS novels and possibly some others. It also appeared in some editions of the Fandom Directory, and for many years in both the SFWA Directory and the WGA Directory. But my googling suggests that it hasn’t crossed the divide and lodged in very many places on the Web, which simplifies things.
 
I won’t be creating a substitute public mailing address–I’m easily enough reached online. But if you or your organization should want or need to reach me by street mail, contact me on Facebook or by email for an address.
 
We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

Julian May

I’ve just learned that writer and SF fan Julian May passed away on October 17 at the age of 86. Her oeuvre includes more than 300 books, including the very popular Pliocene Exile series which began with The Many-Coloured Land–which was also my introduction to her work. She was active in fandom from her teens, and chaired the 1952 Worldcon at the age of 21.

Julian very kindly provided a cover quote for my first novel, though we weren’t in any way acquainted at the time. As things played out over the years, our paths never did cross, so I didn’t have an opportunity to thank her in person.

Ad astra.