On this date in 1840, Britain introduced the first adhesive postage stamp approved for a public postal service. The Penny Black was 3/4X7/8 of an inch, had a black background and a profile of Queen Victoria taken from a time when she had still been Princess. The words “One Penny” and “Postage” appeared on the stamp.
Writing, Editing and Publishing:
The Locus Award shortlist is out. Here are the names I expected to see on other lists this year; William Gibson, Jeff VenderMeer and Robert Jackson Bennett among others.
The International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) offers a cash prize for the best essay on the fantastic in a language other than English, named after Jamie Bishop, son of SF writer Michael Bishop. Christopher James Bishop, known as Jamie, was a teacher at Virginia Tech, who was killed in the April, 2006 shootings at that school.
In the ongoing events around this year’s Hugo shortlist (or as we call it at my house, “Last Candidate Standing,”) another candidate has attempted to decline the nomination. Because of timing, Schubert’s name will not be removed from the ballot because it had already been finalized. When Schubert had difficulty posting the announcement to his original site, John Scalzi lent him his blog The Whatever, which is why it’s linked there.
The Edgar Award winners were announced. Although the Edgar is usually awarded for mysteries, Stephen King took top honors this year.
The UK Guardian has a review of a new, huge biography on Mary Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. Author Charlotte Gordon examines the lives of this daughter and mother side by side, for the first time.
Tor.com is starting a series of essays on “Message Fiction,” political messages in SFF. The first one, written by The G, takes a look at the Glen Cook classic The Black Company. The opening paragraphs about the author’s visit to Croatia and his experience at a small café gave me chills.
Tor.com is also stepping in to help us all nurture our inner narcissist. Their new partnering with BitLit requires only a selfie… of your bookshelf.
John Ringo asserted on a Facebook page (since taken down) that every SFF publisher except Baen has lost money since the 1970s. Jason Sanford questions Ringo’s logic in this response. It’s been a topic of lively discussion on the blogosphere.
Television and Movies:
Here’s the trailer for the new version of Poltergeist, a movie that was crying out for a remake (okay, yes, that was sarcasm). You know what would make it even better? 3D! Oh, it is 3D. You know what else would make it even better? A creepy clown doll.
That indie movie that opened last weekend — Avengers: Age of Ultron, maybe you’ve heard of it — had some respectable box office earnings.
Science and Technology:
Sky and Telescope Magazine has put together a handy map of the sites of the moon landings. When we starting going to the moon on our vacations, we can load those sites onto our Apple Watches and take the self-guided tour.
American Airlines had an awkward moment when they had to ground a number of flights, because the app their pilots used on the the iPads glitched. AA went “paperless” in 2013, shifting from large bulky binders to the iPad. Until this incident, it’s apparently worked pretty well for them. I guess I’ll complain less about my petty tech problems.
Slightly old but still interesting; which Amazonian trees soak up the most carbon? Here’s the answer from Scientific American.
This artist worked with people within ghetto communities in Haiti to re-create Tarot cards. The whole
clip is interesting, but the tarot images begin at about 2.17. (HT to Kate for this one.)
We at FanLit were wowed by the cover of Elizabeth Bear’s Weird West novel Karen Memory. Cynthia Shepherd is the artist who created that memorable image. Shepherd moved from Virginia to the Pacific Northwest where she works as an art director for Wizards of the Coast. She has provided cover art for Tor Books, Pyr Books, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and draws for the comic Shogun Rising. You can see more of her lush illustrations here.