Current Mood: contemplative
One of the highlights of my time in Dublin was my visit to Altair IV, courtesy of the kind folks at the Irish Film Institute. The IFI has an impressive facility there in Temple Bar, and as part of the celebrations of worldcon, they invited me to present one of my favorite films, and speak about why I loved it. I was delighted to do so.
No one who knows me or has read this blog for long will be even remotely surprised by the movie I chose: the MGM science fiction film, FORBIDDEN PLANET, from 1956, a classic whose influence on all the SF films and television shows that followed was profound. Starring Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Robby the Robot.
((I couldn’t bring Robby with me to Dublin, alas, but I did bring Commander J.J. Adams and Altaira)).
Maura McHugh joined me afterwards for a discussion of the film, and some Q&A with the audience. Listen in, if you’d like (sorry, it’s audio only). And then go out and watch the movie again. It’s still great… and I hope to hell that they NEVER remake it. They’d only mess it up.
Current Mood: geeky
Mike Resnick is one of the giants of our field. A former worldcon Guest of Honor, a Hugo winner (many times) and Hugo loser (even more times), founder and editor of GALAXY’S EDGE magazine, novelist and editor and anthologist and unfailing champion of new writers (he calls them his Writer Babies, and they are legion).
Now he needs help, to deal with some staggering medical bills.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help him.
Go ye, and contribute. Every dollar helps.
Current Mood: hopeful
Back in 2017, I announced that I would be sponsoring an annual scholarship to the Clarion Writers Workshop in San Diego. I named it the ‘Sense of Wonder’ scholarship. This is what I said then:
” I’ve made my life in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, and an awful lot of people helped me along the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. But if I may echo something that Robert A. Heinlein once said, you can never pay back the people who helped you when you were starting out… but you can pay forward, and give a hand to those coming after.
“With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce that I will be funding a new scholarship for the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop. Held every summer at the University of California San Diego under the auspices of the Clarion Foundation, the workshop’s roots go back the 1960s and Clarion College in Pennsylvania, where it was founded by Robin Scott Wilson, Damon Knight, and Kate Wilhelm. Its alumni include more professional sf and fantasy writers than I can possibly hope to name, and the list of Clarion instructors over the years is a veritable Who’s Who of our genre.
“Many of the students at Clarion already receive financial aid through a variety of existing scholarships and grants that cover all or part of their expenses, but there’s always need and there’s never enough money, and it’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to one more worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the experience. It will be a full scholarship, given annually, and covering tuition, fees, and lodging for a single student for the full six weeks of intensive writing and criticism that is Clarion.
” We’ll be calling it the Sense of Wonder scholarship.
“The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The only criteria will be literary.
” The first science fiction novel I ever read was Heinlein’s HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, a book that begins with a boy named Kip in a used spacesuit standing in his back yard, and goes on to take him (and us) to the moon, and Pluto, and the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, along the way encountering aliens both horrifying (the Wormfaces) and benevolent (the Mother Thing), as well as a girl named Peewee. In the end it’s up to Kip and Peewee to defend the entire human race when Earth is put on trial. I had never read anything like it, and from the moment I finished I knew I wanted more; more Heinlein, more science fiction, more aliens and spacesuits and starships… more of vast interstellar vistas that had opened before me.
“Since then I have read thousands of other science fiction novels, and written a few myself. Modern imaginative fiction is a house with many rooms, and I’ve visited most of them. Cyberpunk, New Wave, magic realism, slipstream, military SF, dystopias, utopias, urban fantasy, high fantasy, splatterpunk, the new weird, the new space opera, you name it. I’ve sampled all of it, and I’m glad it’s all there, but when it comes right down it, the SF I love best is still the SF that gives me that sense of wonder I found in that Heinlein book almost sixty years ago, and afterwards in the works of Roger Zelazny, Jack Vance, Alfred Bester, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jack Vance, Andre Norton, the early Chip Delany, Jack Vance, Frank Herbert, Robert Silverberg, Jack Vance, Eric Frank Russell, Cordwainer Smith, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, and so many more. (Did I mention Jack Vance?) I love the aliens, be they threatening or benevolent, the more alien the better. I dream of starships, strange worlds beneath the light of distant suns. I want the sights and sounds and smells of times and places and cultures colorful and exotic. That was the sort of science fiction that I tried to write myself with the Thousand Worlds stories that made my name in the 70s, when I was just breaking in as a writer.
It’s my hope that this new Clarion scholarship will help find and encourage young aspiring writers who dream the same sort of dreams, that it will give a small boost up to the next Roger Zelazny, the next Ursula Le Guin, the next Jack Vance. “
This year’s winner of the Sense of Wonder is JAMIE WAHLS.
Here’s the official press release from Clarion:
Clarion Workshop Announces George R.R. Martin’s
’Sense of Wonder’ Scholarship Recipient
BERKLEY, Calif. — Jamie Wahls had his plans in order after receiving his acceptance to the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop. Then George R. R. Martin picked up his tuition by awarding Jamie this year’s Sense of Wonder Scholarship.
The scholarship, administered by The Clarion Foundation, seeks to encourage aspiring writers who strive to capture that sense in stories which cross the vast vista of interstellar space. The workshop, now in its 51st year, is hosted at the Arthur C. Clarke Centre for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego.
Wahls’ short fiction about transhumanism, regret, people falling in love with spaceships, galactic stewardship, and the dangerous security flaws in our mental architecture can be found in places like Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld. He works at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute in Berkley, Calif., a nonprofit that researches the question of how to make super-intelligent machines safe and useful.
His day job sounds challenging enough. When asked about why he also writes science fiction, Jamie responded:
“Why do I write? I grew up reading 1950s science fiction, and I am very glad I did. It had its flaws, sure — our culture is now more progressive in many wholesome and clearly good ways — but that era had an underlying sense of possibility and determination that I found noble; a deep, unembarrassed belief that the future could and would be brighter than today, and the raw, bastard resolve to seize that future and bring it to all humanity.
“Nowadays, few of us had our formative years in the shadow of total war. This era’s Great Causes are important, still, terribly so — but they’re subtler, and therefore harder to feel certain about. It makes us … embarrassed to care too deeply about something. It makes us shy to believe in something truly wondrous.
“But! As text conveys knowledge, fiction conveys experience. I want to show characters fighting for things that are actually worth fighting for — such as a really, really good future for all of humanity. I want the next generation who grow up reading this to say ‘yes, that’s the sci-fi future I demand — that’s the one that’s anywhere near good enough.’
“Because settling for anything less will mean we, as a civilization, will slouch onward into one of the boring dark corporate dystopia futures, if we get a future at all.”
Kim Stanley Robinson, celebrated science fiction writer and board member of the Clarion Foundation, said of Wahls, “One of the great delights of reviewing stories during application season for Clarion is coming across talents like Jamie’s. For George R.R. Martin to support up-and-coming writers through his ‘Sense of Wonder’ Scholarship is a tremendous gift to the next generation of science fiction authors.”
Find more about Wahls at what he describes as his “brutally minimalist” website jamiewahls.com. His twitter account is @Jamie Wahls.
The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop is an annual six-week immersive workshop taught by a rotating staff of renowned science fiction and fantasy writers. The application period for the 2020 workshop opens in December. More information is available at theclarionfoundation.org.
NIGHTFLYERS, the new SyFy series based on my 1980 novella of the same name, is heading for your home screens soon.
SyFy has just announced that they will be rolling out the show on DECEMBER 2, on all platforms. Netflix will follow.
A new trailer has also been unveiled.
I saw the first episode on my recent visit to LA, after the Emmy Awards (for anyone who wasn’t watching — we WON). Yes, there are significant differences from my novella. I always knew that would be the case; there was no way the novella, which has a very definite ending, could translate to a multi-season series. On its own terms, though, the show is very well made; the sets and effects look gorgeous, and there’s a terrific, talented cast, and a story that even I cannot predict. And of course, as I have said before, it was a thrill for me to finally see Melantha Jhirl portrayed the way I wrote her.
The show is pretty scary too. Make no mistake, this is as much horror as it is science fiction. By design.
Anyway… check it out on Netflix or SyFy and make up your own minds. (You’ll do that anyway, I know. My readers are like that).
For all the details of the rollout plan, go to https://finance.yahoo.com/news/nightflyers-syfy-sets-multi-platform-170016282.html — or your favorite TV news sources on the internet.
(And for those who want to check out my original story, signed copies are available from the bookstore at the Jean Cocteau Cinema).
Current Mood: bouncy
SyFy has rolled out the first trailer for the NIGHTFLYERS tv series, scheduled to debut this fall.
Check it out:
I am amused to see my own appearances in the promo. SyFy sent a film crew to Santa Fe last month, and we spent most of an afternoon taping a long interview about “Nightflyers,” its inspiration and publication history, my Thousand Worlds, horror v SF v hyrbids, and so on. I hope at some point they will use some of that material, beyond the two sentences that made it into the trailer.
Very cool to see the show coming together.
Current Mood: curious
With the NIGHTFLYERS television series deep in the throes of pre-production and set to start filing over in Limerick soon, my original novella will soon be available again… twice.
Tor is going to reissuing NIGHTFLYERS & OTHER STORIES, the short story collection we released originally in 1985. More details on that one in my post of January 18, below.
Bantam Spectra is also going to be publishing NIGHTFLYERS, as a stand-alone deluxe illustrated hardcover. The text will be the original novella, in its expanded 30,000 word version. The Bantam edition will also include fifteen interior illustrations and two endpapers from the astonishing and talented David Palumbo, printed in four color. Release is scheduled for May 29.
The cover is by Larry Rostant:
A few months later, in late August, Bantam will release a trade paperback tie-in edition, featuring key art from the TV series on the covers, with Palumbo’s interior illustrations in black & white.
If you haven’t read “Nightflyers” yet, you will have plenty of opportunity. Hope you enjoy it.
((Comments permitted, but stay on topic)).
Current Mood: pleased
Here’s some cool news for the fans of my Thousand Worlds stories… y’know, the science fiction that I wrote way back when, long before I thought of GAME OF THRONES.
The SyFy Channel has just greenlit the pilot for a proposed NIGHTFLYERS series, based on my 1980 Hugo-losing novella, one of my SF/ horror hybrids.
Details can be found here (and in lots of other places on the web):
Since I’m exclusive to HBO, I can’t be part of the NIGHTFLYERS development, but I wish them well. The novella was a favorite of mine (especially the longer version that I did for BINARY STARS), and I think the show could have a lot of potential… especially if you like a little horror in your SF.
If it looks as good as THE EXPANSE, by my pal Jimmy Corey…
(That pic up above is me and Parris at Denvention II, by the way, the night that “Nightflyers” lost the Hugo to Gordy Dickson).
Last week in the trades a couple of stories appeared about NIGHTFLYERS:
There were a bunch more. Google and you’ll find ’em. Needless to say, once those stories appeared I was deluged with requests for comment and clarification.
Here’s the scoop.
In 1980 I wrote a novella called “Nightflyers.” It was one of my SF/ horror hybrids, a ‘haunted starship’ story, set in my Thousand Worlds universe. ANALOG published the first version, which weighed in at 23,000 words and got a beautiful cover. “Nightflyers” was nominated for a Hugo Award as Best Novella, but lost out to Gordon R. Dickson’s “Lost Dorsai” at Denvention. (That’s me and Parris at Denvention in the icon picture).
Later on, at the urging of editor Jim Frenkel, I expanded the novella to 30,000 words, and it was teamed with Vernor Vinge’s “True Names” as part of Dell’s ‘Binary Star’ series, an attempt to revive the old ‘Ace Double’ concept. I liked the original 23,000 words version, but I liked the expanded version even better. The expansions gave me room to flesh out the characters more. (In the original version, most of the secondary characters did not even have names).
In 1984 I sold the film and television rights to “Nightflyers” to a writer/ producer named Robert Jaffe and his father Herb.
In 1985 “Nightflyers” was published again as the featured story in a collection of my short work called NIGHTFLYERS, a trade paperback from Bluejay Books.
IN 1986 the Jaffes picked up their option and principal photography began on the film version of NIGHTFLYERS, directed by Robert Collector and starring Catherine Mary Stewart and Michael Praed. It was released in 1987. Jaffe’s screenplay, I think, was based on the 23,000 word version of the story rather than the expanded 30,000 word version, since all the secondary characters had new names, rather than the ones I’d given them for the Binary Star edition.
Which brings us to the present, and those news stories.
This new NIGHTFLYERS television series — actually, it is just a pilot script at present, still several steps short of going on-air, but I am told that SyFy likes the script a lot — was developed based on the 1987 movie, and the television rights conveyed in that old 1984 contract. Robert Jaffe is one of the producers, I see, but the pilot script is by Jeff Buhler. I haven’t had the chance to meet him yet, but hope to do so in the near future.
Since I have an overall deal that makes me exclusive to HBO, I can’t provide any writing or producing series to NIGHTFLYERS should it go to series… but of course, I wish Jaffe and Buhler and their team the best of luck. “Nightflyers” was one of my best SF stories, I always felt, and I’d love to see it succeed as a TV series (fingers crossed that it looks as good as THE EXPANSE).
And that’s all I know just now.