End of Year Goal Setting

Last month's Free-Fall Challenge turned out to be a success! We hope that everyone who participated picked up something valuable from it, whether it be learning your limits and how to take breaks or how to find the right "get to work" headspace.

With the upcoming new year, we've decided to two communal goal setting and business planning events, for all your productivity New Year's Resolutions. We'll have two community events (one in December and one in January) to help you work through your 2021 goals. Our first guided meeting will be 19 December 2020 at 2PM CST here for two hours, unrecorded. Fill out the form to start thinking about your goals and sign up for check-ins and support from Dream Foundry.

Our second guided meeting will take place in January (date and time TBD).

Want some extra support? Join our Discord server for a community eager to give advice, keep each other accountable, or just general cheering on. Failure or success, the goals of these events is to help you figure out your workflow and capabilities without over-extending yourself. We want to encourage growth responsibly, with plenty of community support to help everyone along.


Dream Foundry's Free-Fall Challenge

Fall has arrived for those of us in the northern hemisphere and the second month of the global phenomena of using October and November as creative "make a thing" months. Here at the Dream Foundry, we brainstormed ideas on how to pull together an event to encompass creatives of all kinds, forming a community space to encourage attaining goals, fostering skills, and honing craft.

Starting November 1, the Dream Foundry presents The Free-Fall November Challenge: prepare to stretch your creative muscles, set goals, leap into new feats, and cheer each other on!

The goal of the challenge is to foster skills that will help you translate your current workflow into something sustainable as you learn your limits, expand your boundaries, build endurance, and how to work without burning yourself out. Build a plan! Set goals! Make a schedule! And cheer each other on! And if you don't succeed, that's okay too! In fact, failing is also a valuable learning experience and we're here to help guide you through it.

You're writing a novel this November? Or maybe a series of short stories? Awesome. This is for you. You're thinking of making a new interactive fiction game? Good! This is for you, too. Want to stretch your drawing practice or try a new medium for a month? This challenge is all yours. Want to translate a poem a day, or write the scripts for your next SFF podcast? Jump right in! Whatever your project is, if you’re dedicating the month to doing something bigger than you ever have before, the Free-Fall November challenge is for you.

We're running the challenge through our Discord server, complete with a whole new channel for co-working, tips, and encouragement.

How it works!

  • The Dream Foundry is providing space for co-working, accountability, and scheduling help. 
  • Come over to our Discord server and find the #free-fall-challenge channel. 
  • Let us know what your plans and goals are - and if you’re not sure how to set goals that are the right level of challenging, we’ll help you out! 
  • When you have your plan ready, you can sign-up here. If you want to join the official co-working sessions, you’ll need to sign up.  
  • You can also share your progress and join in on twitter with the hashtag #freefallchallenge.  
  • And if you stumble along the way? We’ll help you recover, with some cheerleading from the other folks working on their own challenges. 

Sign up here!

Preparations for your jump can start now! Drop in, get hyped, and prepare to make November a challenge that gives you life!

The official launch of our Free-Fall Challenge will take place here in our virtual co-working space November 1st. Details and invites will be sent to those who have signed up using our form. We look forward to seeing everyone there!


OMEC Returns!

Are you ready for six months of incisive, multi-media discussion? The OMEC is back and coming to an internet near you. The theme for this cycle is “vulnerability” and we’ve got six discussion leaders lined up and ready to guide us through all of the theme, craft, and mechanics talk you can stand. Check out the schedule below for the dates, leaders, and the works we will be examining.

 

Illustration, Rhea Ewing: April 13 - May 10

Podcasts, Christian Kelley-Madera: May 11 - June 14

Film/TV, TJ Berry: June 15 - July 12

Comics, Christopher Eric: July 13 - August 9

Prose, Edward A. Hall : August 10 - September 13

  • TBD

Games, N. Theodoridou: September 14 - October 11

  • TAKE by Katherine Morayati

 

Don’t feel like you have to wait to start on the OMEC fun. The discussion thread is up and ready for your thoughts, progress reports, and chat.

 


Inside the News

Publishing News for March 2020

The world changed quickly because of COVID-19.

People are scared. People are worried. People are losing their jobs. People are sick and dying. People don’t know what the future will bring.

But people are also pulling together and helping one another. People are social distancing but keeping each other in their lives. And this is true both for the larger world and the genre world.

Artists and authors are trying to help each other, as with the Society of Authors launching an emergency fund for writers. People are also creating websites such as COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources, which features info on emergency funding and much more. Others are fundraising to help, such as with Ijeoma Oluo creating the Seattle Artist Relief Fund Amid COVID-19.

For many authors and writers, especially those who support themselves by freelancing, the economic fallout from COVID-19 is frightening. A lot of freelance work is being stopped or put on hold by businesses. In addition, books tours are being cancelled, as are other places where authors promote their work such as conventions. (Locus Magazine is keeping an updated listing of all genre convention cancellations and delays.)

But people are adapting the best they can. The 2020 Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in SF/F Writing was presented virtually, with Rona Wang reading her winning story through Zoom. Many authors are also taking their in-person visits virtual, such as with N.K. Jemisin’s upcoming April 3rd appearance at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

SFWA is also partnering with r/Fantasy to “host their 1st ever virtual con with AMAs, giveaways, & more. Slots are available for April and May.” (For info on how to participate, go here.)

Others are also setting up virtual conventions, with Everywhere Book Fest for kidlit authors, books, and readers being among the first.

I wish I knew how all this would turn out. I wish I could say that people wouldn’t be hurt and devastated in the coming months. But I can’t do that.

What I can say is that during times like these people help each other. As we’re already seeing.

Thinkerbeat Just Ain’t Thinking Right

Thinkerbeat Reader is the submission system and community supporting Unreal and Unfit magazines. However, it turned out the editor behind these sites, Daniel Scott White, had been posting online the names and rankings of many of the magazines’ rejected authors.

Other issues have also been raised about the magazines, including Thinkerbeat Reader requiring a membership fee after the first three months (meaning authors may have to eventually pay to submit).

Many, many people called out the editor and magazines for doing this such as Benjamin Kinney in a very good post on his website. And some authors published or reprinted in the magazines, including Yoon Ha Lee, said they wouldn’t have published there if they’d known what the magazines were doing.

In response to this criticism, you’d think an editor would simply say “my bad,” apologize, and fix the issues. If White had done this the genre would likely have been pretty forgiving.

Instead, White doubled down, telling authors who complained that he was “being disruptive, sure, but that's what it takes to displace other magazines on the way up.” The editor also emailed some accepted authors and said “There's an angry mob on Twitter that is threatening to ban me at the SFWA” and proclaimed the magazines might “put a 'banned by the SFWA' sticker on my next cover. Should be our best selling one yet.”

As an FYI, SFWA doesn’t ban magazines and doesn’t even have the power to contemplate doing so.

For more on the responses from these magazines, see this thread by Diabolical Plots (who runs the respected Submission Grinder website).

Thinkerbeat eventually stopped publishing the ranking and title of stories but they still name rejected authors. Yet there is (note my sarcasm) good news because now the rejection earns you a "Thinkerbeat Award!" The site even urges rejected authors to put the award icon on their websites and social media pages. Sigh.

Other news and info

This thread by Marianne Kirby on how stories must have some hope in them, and how the “big narratives getting pushed on us by corporations are mostly about prolonging agony,” really touched a nerve with me. A must read.


Publishing News for January 2020

One of the great aspects of science fiction and fantasy is how so many people pay it forward and nurture the genre’s next generation of writers.

A prime example of this was award-winning author Vonda N. McIntyre, who sadly passed away in 2019. It has now been revealed that McIntyre “left her literary assets to Clarion West, expressing her wish that ‘the organization manage her literary copyrights in perpetuity.’ She also left a bequest of $387,129 to the program, the largest single financial gift in the organization’s history.”

In addition to winning the Nebula Award for her ground-breaking novel The Moon and the Sun, McIntyre helped rescue Clarion West in the 1980s when the workshop almost had to close.

I never met McIntyre in person but I spoke with her online a number of times and both loved and was inspired by her stories. When I mentioned to her my love for The Moon and the Sun she was kind enough to mail me an autographed copy.

She was always helping others and now, with this bequeath, she’ll help influence new generations of writers.

What a wonderful legacy.

#SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines

For the last few months I’ve been working on #SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines, a detailed look at science fiction and fantasy magazine publishing in this day and age. This report includes interviews with the editors and publishers of nine major SF/F magazines and includes a good bit of information and behind the scenes details which writers may find useful.

This report is available here and can also be downloaded in the following formats:

An Author’s Guide to Understanding BookScan

If you’re an author or aim to be one, you need to understand a strange force which can affect your writing career: Nielsen BookScan. BookScan tracks the sales of print books in the United States, relying on voluntary reporting of sales numbers by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

Why does BookScan matter to authors? Because publishers and agents use these numbers to determinate your future potential as an author. If an author tries to land a new agent or publisher, the first thing these people will do is check that author’s BookScan numbers. Low reported sales numbers definitely hurt an author’s career.

Read more about why BookScan matters to authors.

Other News and Info


The Contests Have Closed: The Hunger and the Table

Hey, guess what? We did it! That’s a close on the submission window for Dream Foundry’s first art and writing contests. We had almost 400 submissions total, and our teams are selecting our fabulous finalists. This has been a great experience so far, and I’m looking forward to the results when they arrive.

While we wait, I want to share about why we ran this version of the contests this year. Although we announced the contest as a stretch goal for our Kickstarter, we didn’t wind up funding at that level. We ran the contests anyway. There are many reasons for that, but I’m going to focus on the one I think matters most.

Last November, when the leadership committee met to assess our progress and success so far and establish our goals and plans for 2019, one thing was clear: we were doing well. At that point we’d announced a vision with timelines and goals, we’d done all the hoop-jumping and logistical organizing required to be firmly and formally established, and we were about to launch our first program. About being the key word there. We’d done a lot, all of it important and necessary, but none of it was what we were for. And yet, we were rich in support, well wishes, and people volunteering their time and energy. We’d raised enough money to start strong, mostly because people were hungry for the dreams we were promising.

We looked at the numbers. And the offers. And the plans. There was an opportunity there. That hunger we were seeing? We let it inspire us to be ambitious, and that ambition has been rewarded. Three hundred and ninety-three submissions to a brand new contest from a fairly new organization. That, on its own, is a success. But that’s such a small part of what we’ve seen while we’ve done this.

First, there’s William Ledbetter, who, when asked, dove right in to not only share his experience with writing contest logistics and design, but to spearhead this effort. Then Sara Felix, who just as generously answered when Bill asked her to handle the art side. By the same turn, Rachel Quinlan and Charles Coleman Finlay stepped up when asked to judge. Lisa Rodgers didn’t even wait to be asked, and I’m hoping she enjoys being a judge because otherwise she might think twice before having lunch with me again. Our slush readers? Some volunteered for the job before Dream Foundry had a name or a timeline. That eagerness and enthusiasm, backed by commitment and action, is all over the industry. We jumped on it.

In the process, we found a different hunger.

“Is there an age limit?” youth asked, hungry in a world where there’s a shortage of opportunities for them to be taken seriously as professionals, or potential professionals, and not as children. Adults asked too, people who’ve been busy with lives and work or with careers that delayed their pursuit of their craft beyond the point where anybody says “beginner” and pictures them.

No. No age limit. Come to our table.

“Are there entry fees?” asked people who are used to an ecosystem that feeds on them, at best concentrating resources from many of them to a few, and at worst by actively picking their pockets.

No. No entry fees. Have a snack while you wait.

“Is there a prompt or a theme you have to follow?” asked those who’ve been taught that to pursue their own vision first they have to pay dues to somebody else’s.

No.

We had extra fliers, so I took them around to all the libraries where I am in Chicago. Libraries are great places, full of programs and opportunities to learn and read and practice. Chances to study and discuss. They’re good places to find beginners of all sorts, but especially the arts. It was a small adventure, a tiny side quest in life that would spread the word and let me pop into pockets of community and imagination I wouldn’t necessarily wander into otherwise. What did I find?

Hunger.

By and large, librarians care deeply about their patrons. They have a unique relationship to their needs and hopes, a special opportunity to influence the people they encounter in their professional lives for the better. They respond with a palpable enthusiasm when somebody shows up with fliers and says, “I work with an organization that’s running two contests for beginners. It’s free to enter, and there’s a cash prize. I’d like to make sure people know about it, if that’s okay?”

“No age limit, you said? Can I have two of those?”

Yes.

“Is it okay if they’ve never done anything like this before?”

Oh definitely, yes.

“Would it be all right to tell that art group that meets here about this?”

Yes. Here, take some bookmarks, too.

When I explain Dream Foundry to people, I present it like this: You know the old adage about the best way to build a movie theater? The one that says you find a good spot for a popcorn stand, then put up the marquee? The contest is our marquee. It’s the thing that lets people know we’re there, gets them excited, and prompts them to come in. The real value in us, though, is the popcorn. That’s the everything else. The community. The support. The content and discussions and model of who we are, what we should do, and what we can expect from our colleagues, peers, and ourselves. We’re the popcorn.

Because it feeds that hunger.

There will be finalists, and that will be fun. Then winners, and that will be exciting. It matters. It’s important. But it’s also the capstone on something that is already succeeding in its mission. Three hundred and ninety-three people showed up to our door.

Welcome. Come in. We’ve got room at the table and we’re serving dinner soon. There’s something for everyone, and a ton of popcorn.


Inside the News

Publishing News for September 2019

Market Analysis of DreamForge Magazine

DreamForge Magazine is a new science fiction and fantasy magazine which seeks “Positive stories demonstrating the triumph of the human spirit and the power of hope and humane values in overcoming the most daunting challenges.” 

In my most recent Genre Grapevine column, I wrote a market analysis of the magazine, focusing on the magazine's positive aspects for writers (pays 6 to 8 cents/word, has good contracts, publishes a nice print and e-book edition) while also raising concerns about other aspects of the magazine (possible connections with the Writers of the Future contest, editor publishes his own stories in magazine, and the tone of feedback in rejection letters).

Editor Scot Noel was nice enough to respond to all these points. In addition he discussed the magazine's very specific guidelines, including what he means by looking for stories about "the rule of law and liberty under the law.”

To read Noel’s response, go here.

Rights Grab by Canada's Largest SF/F Publisher

I've long been a fan of Hades Publications, the largest Canadian science fiction and fantasy publisher. In particular, I’ve read a number of books from their EDGE imprint along with many editions of the annual Tesseract anthology of Canadian SF/F.

However, after seeing a new contract from Hades Publications, I question why any author would publish with them.

The contract is for the anthology Fantastic Trains: An Anthology of Phantasmagorical Engines and Rail Riders, edited by Neil Enock, and was mailed to authors within the last few months. The contract asks for the “exclusive right to reproduce and/or publish (in book or other form, including electronic form, including audio form, including print on demand form)” the short stories contained in the anthology.

Note the norm for most short fiction magazine and anthology contracts is first English language serial rights throughout the World, or nonexclusive rights, or a combination of these.

Payment from Hades for giving up exclusive rights to your original short story? As the original guidelines state, only $50 to $150.

Now I understand some large, high-paying short fiction anthologies ask for exclusive rights. But when they do they usually only ask for exclusivity for a specific period of time. The author is then free to sell reprints of the story elsewhere. But the EDGE contract lists no end-date for this exclusive rights grab.

In addition, exclusive rights is not what this anthology’s submission guidelines originally asked for. As the Web Archive of the guidelines states, “Rights: for original fiction, first World English publication, with a two-month exclusive from publication date; for all, non-exclusive anthology rights; all other rights remain with the author.”

Which is far from what the new contract states.

But the exclusive rights issue may not be the worst thing in the EDGE contract. As EDGE publisher Brian Hades stated in the contract email sent to authors, “For the last year I've been working towards an agreement that will allow us to present our author's Works to an agency that will explore various options to develop, produce, promote and license derivative and conceptual properties based on the author's Work.”

Basically, Hades is talking about a derivative rights grab, allowing his press the rights to (per the contract) “film, live-action and animated motion pictures, television, live-action and animated television productions, video, radio, cinema, stage, games, animation, toys, merchandise, mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR), Virtual reality (VR), graphic novels, comic books, theme parks, casual gaming, console gaming, trading card, board, and physical games, live events, and all other uses of the Work.”

In return for giving all this up, authors would receive 50% of net receipts received by the publisher.

On a good note, this derivatives grab is contained in an addendum to the contract and Hades says authors don’t have to sign the addendum. But it still doesn’t belong in a contract for a short story anthology.

Authors should be very careful about signing EDGE’s new contract with these terms. 

Update on Dreamspinner Press

The financial hole that is Dreamspinner Press continues to deepen, as previously reported in this column. The publisher still hasn’t paid many authors and is now promising to “catch up” on what is owned.

Here’s the letter they sent to authors the other day, which implies that Dreamspinner owes $100,000 is unpaid royalties to authors. I mean, if they don’t owe at least that much why would the give an example of how they’d repay that amount? For more, see this Sept. 4 letter Dreamspinner also sent to authors.

Important to note that in a tweet on Sept. 6 author TJ Klune revealed he is owed $27,448 in royalties by Dreamspinner.

Weird Tales Update

The first issue of the new Weird Tales has been released and features an impressive author list, including Victor LaValle (one of my favorite authors), Josh Malerman, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lisa Morton, Tori Eldridge and Jonathan Maberry. As previously reported in this column, the new Weird Tales aims to be aligned with Ann VanderMeer’s editorial vision when she ran the magazine from 2007 to 2012. Based on the authors and impressive production values, it appears they are doing just this.

In a recent Facebook post James Aquilone confirmed that he’s the magazine’s new managing editor while announcing Jonathan Maberry as the executive editor — which is err, slightly weird, since Maberry has one of his stories in the first issue, which isn’t common practice for magazine editors. But I suspect many readers will give them a pass for this because Mayberry’s name may draw people to the magazine.

That said, the issue is pricey, costing “$12.99, plus $4.99 shipping and handling within the USA.” I’ve yet to see any word on how the magazine is handling distribution or if it will be available in e-editions.

Other News and Info


Inside the News

Industry News, July 2019

Video Games

Steam/Ubuntu

Steam plans to drop support for Ubuntu, according to Pierre-Loup Griffais, which may impact many PC gamers who prefer Linux.

Publishing News for July 2019 by Jason Sanford

Mercedes Lackey’s Fantasy Quarterly Magazine

The recent Origins Game Fair saw the announcement of the pending launch of Mercedes Lackey’s Fantasy Quarterly Magazine, a brand-new genre digest magazine. The magazine will publish its first issue in late 2019 and, as the name indicates, will be quarterly. 

Lackey will be the editor with Jennifer Brozek and John Helfers serving as associate editors. There will be a Kickstarter for the magazine next month, but the Kickstarter is planned as a one-time deal to launch the magazine (meaning no repeated fundraising requests). The magazine will be pro-paying and will accept all genres of fantasy from epic/traditional/low to UF/horror/apocalyptic to steampunk and science fantasy. 

Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first launch of a new digest-sized genre magazine since the original print edition of Apex Magazine was launched in 2005. And with Apex and InterGalactic Medicine Show closing this year, I’m sure authors will appreciate another market for their stories.

I aim to publish an interview with the editors of the magazine in the near future.

True Fan Fandom Fail

Last month heard the return of the plaintive whine of “We’re the only true genre fans!” It started when Ulrika O’Brien wrote a rambling and angry essay in the fanzine Beam about John Scalzi “breaking the Hugos” and allowed in all the not-true-fans (you can read the fanzine here, but be aware it’s a PDF download). 

Scalzi shrugged it off, but others in the genre responded with various riffs on WTF? Kameron Hurley wrote an excellent thread where she notes "this obsession with John Scalzi as this prime example of all that's changing in SFF" is weird. She then makes a much-needed point that "I won't lie, when they write about this period in SFF fifty years from now and only talk about John Scalzi and not, like, NK Jemisin, Ann Leckie, Mary Robinette Kowal and like Nnedi Okorafor I'm gonna be super pissed. And that's not even touching on the next gen of superstars.”

For a deep dive into all this, check out File770’s coverage. And Jim Hines has a great summary of who is and isn’t a genre fan.

As an interesting side-note, Stephen M. Stirling tried saying Worldcon attendees are declining so who cares about the Hugos. But Rogers Cadenhead responded by pointing out that "There were 45,090 attendees over the last 10 years, an average of 4,509 that compares well to any other era of the past 50 years.”

More Financial Problems for Dreamspinner Press

As covered in an earlier column, Dreamspinner Press sent out a letter on May 8 which stated “Dreamspinner Press is not in overall financial crisis or in any danger of closing.” Obviously it's never a good thing when a publisher says those words.

The press has now released a new letter which states “We acknowledge Dreamspinner Press’s cash-flow challenge in finishing payments for 1Q2019 royalties and pending contractor invoices is causing a great deal of concern in the community. We’re continuing to make payments every day, albeit at a slower rate than we’d estimated.”

The letter linked above provides more details. 

RJ Scott takes Dreamspinner to task for all this, adding that authors are being "asked to waive monies owed in exchange for rights back to their work" and much more. As Scott states, “Everyone’s experience of DSP will be different depending on 1) the income you generate for them 2) if you are staff 3) whether you got a lawyer/agent involved.”

Despite all these problems Dreamspinner Press is still holding an open submission call. Authors should consider the publisher's current situation carefully before submitting.

Wattpad and Short Stories

One of my Patreon backers asked about posting short stories on Wattpad, which is an online community, platform and app for people to read and publish stories. I personally love Wattpad, and obviously I’m not the only one because Wattpad has billions of reads across countless stories and a number of authors who’ve used Wattpad to hit it big.

However, the authors who get the most readers on Wattpad tend me be writers of longer-form stories and novels. These works can be serialized on Wattpad, bringing readers back to these authors’ stories over and over. If I’m wrong please correct me, but I’ve yet to see any short stories gain major attention through Wattpad, as opposed to the success of a number of novels and longer serialized stories.

In some ways this is to be expected — after all, we see a similar dynamic in traditional publishing and self-publishing, where novel-length fiction is far more successful than short stories. 

This doesn’t mean it’s not worth publishing short stories on Wattpad. However, understand that publishing a short story there likely means you won’t reach as many readers as with novels and other types of longer-format stories. In addition, it means you can’t republish the story in short story markets where you might find more readers. This includes most genre magazines, almost all of which require first-publication rights. 

Other News and Info

TV & Movies

Disney and Georgia Legislation

Disney continues to express concerns about the new legislation enacted in Georgia, releasing a statement to Deadline that if Georgia’s heartbeat bill holds, the company may have to “reconsider” future productions in the state. What’s most interesting about this to me is that the company’s response, and the response of the other media giants, seem to stem from concerns and petitions by the “creatives” and “talent” that the companies work with. Aside from the possible political and economic ramifications, I have to wonder if this interactions may show a new way forward for those working in television/movies in terms of leveraging themselves to promote industry change.

Comics

Awards

The 2019 Eisner Award winners were announced at San Diego Comic-Con. The Eisner Awards, named for comics creator and graphic novelists Will Eisner, celebrate the works of artists and writers in a dozen categories. I know I’ll be checking out the web comics in particular. 


Inside the News

Industry News, June 2019

Jason Sanford's publishing news will return in July, but for now we hope you'll enjoy this shortened edition of the news from around the speculative arts community.

Video Game News

FromSoftware Announces New Game in Partnership with George R. R. Martin

As reported in The Verge, the makers of Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, FromSoftware announced at E3 that they have teamed up with George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series , in making a new game titled Elden Ring, which will be published by Bandai Namco and available on Xbox One and PC. No release date has been announced at this time, but a teaser trailer from E3 is available, and has been raising a lot of speculation.

You Can't Catch Them All

NintendoLife reports that, based on information revealed by a game developer during a recent Nintendo livestream, it will not be possible for players to acquire a full set of all available Pokémon in their new game, Pokémon Sword And Shield. The game will feature a completely new set of Pokémon as well as some old fan favorites, but only monsters from the Galar Pokédex can be ported over into the new game via the new cloud service that will allow transfer of monsters from previous games.

Video Game Fashion

Kitfox Games' Victoria Tran discussed fashion in video games -- and how it could be improved -- in a 2019 Game Developers Conference talk now available on Gamasutra.

New and Upcoming

Continuing the long-running Zelda series, Gamasutra reports that Nintendo is working on a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The trailer revealed a darker direction and more open world that should be an interesting departure from what fans have come to expect from the series.

Meanwhile, according to io9, a Dark Crystal video game will be coming to Nintendo Switch, intended to tie-in with the upcoming Netflix TV series that will release on August 30. The title of the game, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, reveals that rather than being an open-world concept, this title will be borrowing heavily from the style of Final Fantasy Tactics.

TV & Movie News

An Animated Pratchett Possibility, and a Petition Faux Pas

Following on the success of Amazon's Good Omens miniseries, showrun by Pratchett's coauthor Neil Gaiman, Variety reports that The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is now set to be the first of Terry Pratchett's novels to become an animated feature film.

In other Pratchett-related news, apparently a number of conservative Christians were upset by Good Omens. So upset, in fact, that, according to The Guardian, they addressed a petition to cancel the series to Netflix, which had nothing to do with its production or distribution. This author can only think that such a mix-up would have delighted Terry Pratchett just as it has visibly amused Neil Gaiman on Twitter.

More Nostalgia Fear is on the Way

You might have thought that the upcoming third season of Stranger Things was the most terrifying bit of nostalgia headed your way, but there's more where that came from! Per Deadline, Nickelodeon has announced the cast for their upcoming limited series reboot of Are You Afraid of the Dark? which scared the pants off many 90s kids back during its first iteration. This time, the stories that torment the Midnight Society will be coming to life in their world over three episodes, so we anticipate even more terror than before.

Dune: Sisterhood is Coming to TV, and Dune Back to Theaters

According to Hollywood Reporter, Denis Villeneuve will direct the pilot for an upcoming female-focused take on the Dune universe, based on Frank Herbert's novel, as well as writing and producing the new take on the main novel that is slated to premiere 2020. The TV series will be released on WarnerMedia's upcoming but as-yet-unnamed streaming service, and will follow the machinations of the Bene Gesserit through the complicated politics of the Imperium.

More Streaming Horror Strangeness

In a new quirk on streaming, Variety reports that Stephen Spielberg is writing a horror series for Quibi that viewers will only be able to watch when their phone detects that it's dark outside. "A clock will appear on phones, ticking down until sun sets in wherever that user is, until it’s completely gone. Then the clock starts ticking again to when the sun comes back up — and the show will disappear until the next night." Spielberg has reportedly written five or six of the "chapters," as Quibi refers to its shorter episodes, so far.

We Just Can't Have Nice Things

As reported in io9 and on producer Ben Edlund's Twitter, the comedic superhero adventures of The Tick are once again without a home or hope for immediate continuation. As Edlund said on June 14, "We will look for other opportunities to continue this story with this cast, but the current series must I'm afraid come to its end."


We want to hear from you! Let us know what you think about the news of the month on the forum post for this blog entry.


Inside the News

Industry News, May 2019

Video Game News

Final Fantasy VII Trailer

As announced on The Verge, the
remake of Square Enix’s beloved Final Fantasy VII finally has a trailer
! It’s
only one minute long, and mostly cinematics, but there’s a little bit of
gameplay as well, and reportedly some improvements on detail compared to the bits
seen back in 2015 when we last saw a few hints of this remake. Alas, there’s
still no release date attached to the game, but Sony has promised more
information in June, probably in time for E3
(which will be June 11-13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center).

Cytus on Switch

If you’re a fan of Rayark’s 2012 game Cytus, or of rhythm games in general, you’ll be happy to know that this
stylish game is now out on the Nintendo Switch as Cytus Alpha
. 200 songs are included in the price, including a
few that weren’t released with the original, and this version now includes the
option to play with buttons instead of the touchscreen.

Publishing News by Jason Sanford

Return of Weird Tales

According to
Usman Malik
, an announcement was made at Stokercon 2019 that the classic
magazine Weird Tales will resume publishing in July with Jonathan Maberry as one of the
editors. As most of the genre knows, the magazine had a resurgence under Ann
VanderMeer from 2007 to 2012, winning Weird Tales the magazine’s first-ever
Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. 

However, following the decision to remove VanderMeer as
editor in place of Marvin Kaye, and Kaye’s
decision to run an excerpt of the controversial book Save the Pearls
(with
Kaye even declaring that the novel was "thoroughly
non-racist
" when it wasn’t), Weird Tales soon folded.

Malik mentions some of this history in his post and
says the relaunched magazine will be more aligned with VanderMeer’s vision
.
He adds the magazine is “actively looking
for and recruiting writers with similar aesthetics, talent, and background.

The first
issue will evidently feature fiction
by Victor LaValle, Josh Malerman, and
Lisa Morton and be released on July 15.

The Dark Contract Changes

Sean Wallace announced that The Dark has dropped two clauses
from the magazine’s author contract because “they never made much sense.” The
dropped clauses are as follows:

  • The Author grants Publisher the right to use the
    Author’s name, image, likeness, and biographical material for all advertising,
    promotion and other exploitation of the Work. Upon request, the Author shall
    provide the Publisher with a photograph of the Author and appropriate
    biographical material for such use.
  • The Author will indemnify the Publisher against
    any loss, injury, or damage finally sustained (including any legal costs or
    expenses and any compensation costs and disbursements paid by the Publisher)
    occasioned to the Publisher in connection with or in consequence or any breach
    of this warranty and which the Publisher is not able to recover under its
    insurance policies.

I like these changes, which benefit the author. I wish more
magazines and publishers would follow The Dark's lead.

Publishing Shorts

  • Marc Gascoigne, the former publisher and founder
    of Angry Robot, is launching a novel publishing line for Asmodee Games called Aconyte Books. Complete
    info on the people involved here
    and submission guidelines here.
  • Jason Sizemore announces that while Apex Books
    will continue, Apex
    Magazine is going on indefinite hiatus
    . Jason is a wonderful person and,
    after suffering health issues in recent months, says he needs to “take time to
    exercise, take some time for my health, do more things for fun, enjoy having my
    kids around before they leave for college in a few years. I need time to read
    more books!” Apex Magazine began in 2005 as a print digest and recently
    published Rebecca Roanhorse’s "Welcome
    to your Authentic Indian Experience™
    " which won the genre triple crown
    of Hugo, Nebula and Sturgeon Awards.
  • Tom Doherty Associates to launch
    Nightfire, a new horror imprint
    . Agent DongWon Song likes this development,
    adding "It's
    time for a wave of new voices to shake up the genre. Send me your stories.
    "
  • Trend
    watch:
    I'm seeing a number of western SF authors writing stories
    commissioned by the Chinese government’s Future Affairs Administration (FAA).
    For example, the novelette "The Memory Artist" by Ian R. MacLeod in
    the current May/June 2019 Asimov's Science Fiction has a note saying it was
    originally published in Chinese by the FAA and was inspired by the FFA-hosted
    "Technology and the Good Future" SF workshop which MacLeod attended.
    The FAA
    is also a sponsor of the science fiction magazine Future SF
    , edited by Alex
    Shvartsman. Future SF launched this year
    and has already published a number of original stories in English by both
    western and Chinese authors.
  • Publisher Steven Saus emailed authors that his
    small press Alliteration Ink will be
    shutting down over the course of 2019. Saus says the press will continue to pay
    royalties but is unable to provide author copies from this point on. To help
    authors receive copies Saus said he set all Alliteration Ink books on Amazon at
    the lowest possible price so authors can receive the books without paying
    shipping. He added that once book sales are complete, all rights will revert to
    the authors.
  • Dreamspinner Press sent
    out a letter dated May 8 which reads
    “Dreamspinner Press is not in overall
    financial crisis or in any danger of closing. What we are is working through a
    temporary crunch in month-to-month cash flow as we wait for more than two years
    of financial investment and thousands of hours of effort to yield steady
    results. Dreamspinner’s balance sheet is healthy; our assets outweigh any
    debts.” Never a good sign when a press has to say they aren’t in danger of
    closing, but it is encouraging that Dreamspinner is being so open about their
    troubles. In addition, Dreamspinner is still
    soliciting submissions as of May 10
    . I suggest people read
    the entire letter
    because it provides a fascinating look inside the
    business processes and issues facing small genre publishers.
  • According to emails sent out by Wyrd Magazine, they have closed
    submissions for the near future because of "an unhappy period of illness
    and family tragedy." The magazine added their intention is to relaunch
    soon.
  • Writers are being contacted
    by a book promoter claiming to represent a literary agency
    . Beware.
  • Fascinating article
    about Arcadia Publishing
    , which releases almost 500 local history titles a
    year. “Last year, two publishing heavyweights, Michael Lynton, the former CEO
    of Penguin, and Steinberger, the former CEO of Perseus Books, along with a group
    of investors they organized, bought the press along with its 14,000-title
    backlist. And this week, Walter Isaacson, the best-selling biographer, is
    joining them as an editor-at-large and senior adviser. He is the first big-name
    author to get involved with Arcadia, but that won’t change its small-town
    focus.” 
  • Voting for the Hugo Awards and Worldcon site
    selection
    is now open and closes on July 31. You must be a member of the
    Dublin Worldcon to take part. As a bonus, your ballot gives you access to the
    Hugo Voter Packet, which contains 8.5 gigabytes of stories, books, art,
    podcasts, graphic novels, and so much more. Kudos to Dublin 2019 for pulling
    together such a great Hugo Voter Packet. I really like how you can download
    directly from the ballot under each Hugo category.
  • The 2018 Stoker
    Award winners have been announced
    .

TV & Movies News

Sonic the Hedgehog is Coming to
the Big Screen… and Looking a Bit Rough

The first trailer for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie was
released on April 30, and neither
fan nor critical reaction were great
. Specifically, a lot of fan chatter
disapproved of Sonic’s look, which included some weirdly human teeth, although,
as usual with the internet and fandom, there was enough
complaint to go around about a lot of things
(I’m sorry, I’m not going to
link to specific tweets – if you’re interested, you can dig through the tag
yourself). There were also fan
redesigns
, which may or may not have been an improvement.

So the director, Jeff Fowler, announced that the character
would be redesigned. Problem solved, right? Of course not, because that would
mean sending the VFX team into more work, which, given recent discussion about
the bad conditions that game developers and VFX designers work under in
general, was also not a popular move. Io9 has
a great piece talking with some industry professionals about what this redesign
will most likely mean for the team
, which will be interesting to anyone who
is curious about how this field works, and what will most likely result for the
movie.

The Next Star Wars Movie Will
Come from the Game of Thrones Showrunners

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, whose final season of Game of Thrones is currently airing, are
confirmed as heading the next movie in Disney’s Star Wars franchise
. The jump won’t be immediate, though –
right now statements from the company indicate that there will be a three-year
gap between The Rise of Skywalker and
the next film, as yet untitled.

Disney Takes Over Hulu

Moving from the big screen to the small one, as of
May 14 Disney has finalized their takeover of streaming service Hulu
, purchasing
it from Comcast for at least $5.8 billion. As noted at the link, Disney will
also be releasing their own streaming platform, called Disney+, later this
year, so it’s unclear right now how, or if, these two will compete with each
other, or how the division of content will be arranged.

Comics News

Stan Lee’s Former Manager Charged with Elder Abuse

As reported by Reuters, the former manager of the comic books legend, who died late last year, has been charged with 5 counts of elder abuse against Lee, including false imprisonment, fraud, and forgery. A warrant has been issued for arrest of the manager, named Keya Morgan, who had previously been served with a restraining order after Lee’s family accused him of abuse.


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