Critical mass May 25th: Metropolis

This month, we’ve got a special screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis.

This is the newly restored edition, including the 25 minutes of “new” footage found in 2008 at the Buenos Ares’ Museo del Cine. If you haven’t seen this version, you’re in for a treat. The film runs for just under 150 mins, so this will be a longer than usual Crit Mass meeting. Feel free to bring a friend!

If you want to join us via zoom, it’ll have to be for the post-film discussion at 8:30 Adelaide time.
(We don’t have the rights to zoom the film, alas.)
We are starting half an hour early this month, at 6pm Adelaide time.

Critical Mass at Kappys, 5:45 for a 6:00pm start on Wednesday, May 25th.


May 25th, 2022 8:30pm Adelaide / 9pm Melbourne
Join Zoom Meeting post screening
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89275675259?pwd=UG4rT0RaNFpOOEwyWlJOU0xOcHJ1UT09

Meeting ID: 892 7567 5259
Passcode: CritMass

The language of Chinese dreams is SF

On the restless night of June 3, 1989, a young engineer visiting Beijing for a trade conference had a nightmare. He dreamt of a battalion of children fighting in a whiteout blizzard under the penetrating light of a supernova—that is, the sun was about to go out. The next morning, tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square to clear the thousands of protesters who had occupied it for months demanding more openness and democracy in China. The nightmare in the dreams of June 3rd and the nightmare in the reality of June 4th inspired Liu Cixin to write his first novel, The Supernova Era, though it would not be published for more than 10 years. Liu Cixin is easily the most prominent science fiction author in China today, and his Three Body Problem trilogy made waves when its first volume won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015. But his writing career, and by association the flourishing of Chinese science fiction in the wake of Three Body’s success, began with a dream.

The Language of Chinese Dreams Is Science Fiction — And Sometimes They’re Nightmares, tor.com

Critical Mass June 22nd: Daughters of Eve

Our guest speaker in June is Nina D Campbell, who has just published her crime novel, Daughters of Eve. Nina studied theatre and literature at university before stumbling into the world of work in the midst of the recession that we had to have. She cobbled together a respectable career as a professional writer, working across the community and public sectors, before a midlife health challenge changed her priorities. Nina now writes fiction full-time, with a focus on stories about strong women.

When a high-profile murder lands literally at her feet, Detective Emilia Hart sees a chance to expand her caseload beyond the endless succession of domestic violence she is forced to investigate. But this is no simple investigation. Another body, turns up, then another. Then more – a lot more. All men, all shot with a similar MO. It’s not until a manifesto taking credit for the crimes is published by a group calling themselves Daughters of Eve that Hart confirms a link between the victims.

Topic: Critical Mass
Time: Jun 22, 2022 6:30pm Adelaide / 7pm Melbourne

Doors open at Kappys in Compton St at 6:15, meeting starts at 6:30 Adelaide time.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89275675259?pwd=UG4rT0RaNFpOOEwyWlJOU0xOcHJ1UT09

Meeting ID: 892 7567 5259
Passcode: CritMass

Nova Mob: June/July

Murray notes:

Our next two meetings have two compelling debut novelists as guests, namely Vanessa Len and Shelley Parker-Chan. Allen and Unwin recently published Vanessa Len’s first novel Only a Monster and Shelley Parker-Chan’s novel She Who Became the Sun is already known to many due to its being on this year’s Hugo Best Novel ballot. Fingers crossed for the win!

June 1st:

Vanessa Len – Only a Monster

Vanessa Len’s first novel

Melbourne writer’s first novel at Nova Mob meeting 1 June 2022  

Vanessa Len is an Australian author of Chinese-Malaysian and Maltese heritage. An educational editor, she has worked on everything from language learning programs to STEM resources, to professional learning for teachers. Vanessa is a graduate of the Clarion Workshop in San Diego, and she lives in Melbourne. Only A Monster is published by Allen and Unwin, who describe it as a standout YA contemporary fantasy debut, the first in a planned trilogy. 

“It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

“But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

“As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . . she is not the hero.”

Contains romance aspects and time travel. 

Copies are for sale and signing on the night as part of our encouragement of local writers and booksellers.

Sample download (17 page pdf file)

Vanessa Len – Only a Monster – Nova Mob 1 June 2022, Kensington Town Hall

You are invited to a Nova Mob gathering at:  Wednesday 1 June
8.00pm – 9.30 pm or so, first floor Conference Room, Kensington Town Hall
30 – 34 Bellair St, Kensington Melbourne VIC 3031

Simultaneously with a Zoom meeting. COVID-19 protocols apply. Please don’t attend if you feel unwell, or if you are not fully vaccinated.

By Zoom – as transmitted from the Kensington Town Hall

Wednesday 1 June
8.00pm – 9.30 pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney time
7.30pm – 9.00pm Adelaide time
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4177583193?pwd=VjdPL1BhSTBNclN2YnRsejN3Y1hlUT09

Passcode: nova
Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
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July

Shelley Parker-Chan – She Who Became the Sun
Hugo Awards shortlisted writer at Nova Mob meeting 6 July 2022

Hugos are announced at Chicon WorldCon 1-5 Sep 2022. Here’s hoping! The shortlist is strong:

  • She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor / Mantle)
  • A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager / Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki (Tor / St Martin’s Press)
  • A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom / Orbit UK)
  • Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine / Del Rey)

What follows is taken from the novel’s Wikipedia entry which also has many links to interviews, reviews, and so on. Please go there to discover more.

Please also go to the Locus Spotlight: https://locusmag.com/2021/07/spotlight-on-shelley-parker-chan/

“She Who Became the Sun is a 2021 fantasy novel by Shelley Parker-Chan. Parker-Chan’s debut novel, the novels tells a re-imagining of the rise to power of the Hongwu Emperor in the 14th century. “

“The book is a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction and the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novel.”

“Zhu Chongba, the son of a family in an impoverished village, is foretold in a prophecy to achieve greatness. However, after a bandit attack leaves the village devastated and most of the family dead, he dies of heartbreak. His sister then assumes his identity to go study at a Buddhist monastery, and begins plotting her own survival and her own path to greatness.

“ The novel has been noted to touch on themes of gender, sexuality, and diasporic identity. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Parker-Chan described the novel as “a queer reimagining of the rise to power of the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty. It’s also a fun story about gender,” adding that mainstream white Australian culture had “a particular type of Australian masculinity that is held as the ideal. This excludes every other kind of masculinity, especially queer masculinity and Asian masculinity.”

https://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/2022-hugo-awards/

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Archibald entry from Nick Stathopolous

A Man Who Found Red

Australian artist Nick Stathopoulos is an Archibald Prize 2022 finalist. The Art Gallery of NSW announced that “The Red Scarf,” his portrait of Wayne Tunnicliffe, is one of 52 works up for this year’s award.

“This is the eighth time Stathopoulos has been an Archibald finalist. He won the People’s Choice in 2016 with a portrait of Sudanese refugee and lawyer Deng Adut.

“He told Facebook followers, “I didn’t think I had made the finalist cut this year. I didn’t receive the official email for days after the rest of the finalists.”  

“The $100,000 prize is awarded to the best portrait of a person “distinguished in art, letters, science or politics” painted by an Australian resident.

“Tunnicliffe, the painting’s subject, is the head curator of Australian art for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and oversees the Brett Whiteley Studio.

“The winning painting [was] announced on May 13 [here: Blak Douglas for Karla Dickens]. The finalists for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes will be on show at the Art Gallery of NSW beginning May 14.

“It’s great to see Stathopoulos enjoy success in the fine arts because he has also made a mark on fanhistory as a past Hugo and Chesley Award nominee and 10-time Ditmar Award winner.”

quoted from from File 770

[Murray: I firmly believe Nick’s portrait of Deng Adut should have won in 2016. It’s a phenomenal work which does what portraiture ought to do, reveal and illuminate multiple aspects of character. A surprising number of artists in the Archibald fall short of doing that fundamental thing. That year was an odd judging year, seemed to be more about the judges than the art. ]

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as she is spoke

From the Nova Mob meeting 4 May 2022  

Here’s a link to a youtube video as a follow-up to Lucy Sussex’s part of her talk with Terry Frost last month on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. “Chaucer can be understood (mostly) by the modern reader, but the dialect of the writer of the Sir Gawain poem is only fractionally intelligible to modern ears.” Here is a reading of part of the poem, which sounds almost Gaelic to me. In truth it’s Middle English (North West Midlands dialect).

A host of sci-fi short stories

The 200 Sci-Fi Worlds Bundle – Curated by J. Scott Coatsworth:

We’ve included fifteen sci-fi anthologies and collections showcasing 139 authors and more than 200 individual stories, but it’s available for a limited time only! This StoryBundle features a wide variety of themes – fighting climate change, exploring the far reaches of the galaxy, future crime, hopepunk, sci-fi zombies, space marines, exosapiens, LGBTQ+ heroes, and so much more. With 139 authors, chances are that you’ll find some new writers to love.

You can read more about them at Storybundle, and make sure to click on each cover for a synopsis, reviews and preview of each book! Offer available until 26th May.

Nova Mob, May 4th: Sir Gawain & the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the Nova Mob’s topic this Wednesday
8.00pm Melbourne – 7:30 Adelaide time

Terry Frost will discuss the 2021 film The Green Knight

Lucy Sussex will discuss Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as part of the Matter of Britain. It’s a combined face to face and Zoom meeting, with the speakers both speaking from the round table at the Kensington Town Hall.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Nova Mob meeting 4 May 2022 

Terry Frost on The Green Knight (2021 film)

Lucy Sussex on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Arthurian legend)

Combined Zoom and face-to-face meeting. 

Lucy and Terry will be speaking on location from the Kensington Town Hall.

Terry Frost won the 2021 William Atheling, Jr. Award for Criticism or Review, for his reviews in Terry Talks Movies.  His YouTube channel of film reviews has more than 1.2 million hits and has a patreon option.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG3hwNZQ6FyrJVyE50fUqRQ

Lucy Sussex is an Honorary Fellow at Federation and La Trobe Universities and has taught at Clarion West,  been shortlisted (as editor) for the World Fantasy Award, is currently on the Hugo ballot within the context of McIntyre & Nette’s Dangerous Visions… and has won various sf awards including the Ian Gunn Memorial Award for services to sf fandom.

Lucy and Terry are Nova Mob members.

Thanks to Lucy for organising this topic and speakers.

Nova Mob, 4th may: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Terry Frost on The Green Knight (2021 film)

Lucy Sussex on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Arthurian legend)

Combined Zoom and face-to-face meeting. 

Lucy and Terry will be speaking on location from the Kensington Town Hall.

Terry Frost won the 2021 William Atheling, Jr. Award for Criticism or Review, for his reviews in Terry Talks Movies. His YouTube channel of film reviews has more than 1.2 million hits and has a patreon option.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG3hwNZQ6FyrJVyE50fUqRQ

Lucy Sussex is an Honorary Fellow at Federation and La Trobe Universities and has taught at Clarion West,  been shortlisted (as editor) for the World Fantasy Award, is currently on the Hugo ballot within the context of McIntyre & Nette’s Dangerous Visions… , and has won various sf awards including the Ian Gunn Memorial Award for services to sf fandom.

Lucy and Terry are Nova Mob members.

Thanks to Lucy for organising this topic and speakers.

It’s worth watching the movie before the Mob meeting.

“As of November 2021, on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 89% based on 278 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site’s critics’ consensus reads, “The Green Knight honors and deconstructs its source material in equal measure, producing an absorbing adventure that casts a fantastical spell.”[35] As of November 2021, on Metacritic, it had a weighted average score of 85 out of 100 based on 49 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”. [From wikipedia]

“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century chivalric romance in Middle English. The author is unknown; the title was given centuries later. It is one of the best-known Arthurian stories, with its plot combining two types of folk motifs: the beheading game, and the exchange of winnings. Written in stanzas of alliterative verse, each of which ends in a rhyming bob and wheel;[1] it draws on Welsh, Irish, and English stories, as well as the French chivalric tradition. It is an important example of a chivalric romance, which typically involves a hero who goes on a quest which tests his prowess. It remains popular in modern English renderings from J. R. R. TolkienSimon Armitage, and others, as well as through film and stage adaptations. 

“The story describes how Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur‘s Round Table, accepts a challenge from a mysterious “Green Knight” who dares any knight to strike him with his axe if he will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts and beheads him, at which the Green Knight stands, picks up his head, and reminds Gawain of the appointed time. In his struggles to keep his bargain, Gawain demonstrates chivalry and loyalty until his honour is called into question by a test involving the lord and the lady of the castle at which he is a guest. The poem survives in one manuscriptCotton Nero A.x., which also includes three religious narrative poemsPearlCleanness, and Patience. All are thought to have been written by the same author, dubbed the “Pearl Poet” or “Gawain Poet,” since all four are written in a North West Midlands dialect of Middle English.[2][3] [From Wikipedia]

Those seeking to read this poem in the original Middle English (North West Midlands dialect) are asked to click here.

In Person: Kensington Town Hall

You are invited to a Nova Mob gathering at: Wednesday 4 May 8.00pm – 9.30 pm or so, first floor Conference Room

Kensington Town Hall 30 – 34 Bellair St, Kensington Melbourne VIC 3031

Simultaneously with a Zoom meeting. 

COVID-19 protocols apply. Please don’t attend if you feel unwell, or if you are not fully vaccinated.

By Zoom – as transmitted from the Kensington Town Hall

Wednesday 4 May

8.00pm – 9.30 pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney time
7.30pm – 9.00pm Adelaide time
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4177583193?pwd=VjdPL1BhSTBNclN2YnRsejN3Y1hlUT09

Passcode: nova

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193

The Day the Earth Caught Fire

The Day the Earth Caught Fire– This cerebral mix of conspiracy a-go-go and sci-fi (from 1961) was written and directed by Val Guest. Simultaneous nuclear testing by the U.S. and Soviets triggers an alarmingly rapid shift in the Earth’s climate. As London’s weather turns more tropical by the hour, a Daily Express reporter (Peter Stenning) begins to suspect that the British government is not being 100% forthcoming on the possible fate of the world. Along the way, Stenning has some steamy scenes with his love interest (sexy Janet Munro). The film is more noteworthy for its smart, snappy patter than its run-of-the-mill special effects, but delivers a compelling narrative. Co-starring veteran scene-stealer Leo McKern.

“Any world (that I’m welcome to): 10 Sci-fi favorites” by Dennis Hartley

Nicola Griffith

Since publishing her debut novel Ammonite in 1993, Nicola Griffith has won the Otherwise Award (formally the James Tiptree, Jr Award), the World Fantasy Award, the Nebula Award, the Washington State Book Award, and no less than six Lambda Literary Awards, as well as being shortlisted for the BSFA Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Locus Award. The Bending The Landscape anthologies she edited with Stephen Pagel were landmark works of LGBTQ+ speculative fiction. Griffith’s work spans genres, from near-future speculative fiction to historical fiction and fantasy, from noir-esque detective fiction to space opera. She’s even written the award-winning nonfiction memoir And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer’s Early Life (2017).

Griffith’s refusal to stay still is part of what makes her such a compelling writer, yet it can make it difficult to know which one of her books is the best place for a new reader to start.

If you’re interested in space opera, read Ammonite

“And these places you go, the people you find, do you come to care for them? Or do you only study them, like strange shells you might find on the beach?”

Griffith’s debut novel immediately established her as an important new voice in genre fiction, and it’s easy to see why. Ammonite is a key work of feminist SF, the missing link between Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion. The novel is an epic adventure set on an alien planet, with enough cool worldbuilding and biological speculation to appeal to any space opera fan. Ammonite tells the story of Marghe, a xenobiologist and linguist sent to study the planet of Jeep by the Company.

Jonathon Thornton, where to begin reading the work of Nicola Griffith, tor.com

Note: her new novella, Spear, has just been published, and is available as an audio book read by Nicola herself.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds is on the Hugo Ballot!

Chicon’s Hugo shortlist announced for Best Related Work. Congratulations Lucy! Congratulations Iain and Andrew!

On Wednesday 6 April Iain McIntyre spoke to the Nova Mob in a blend of COVID-imposed isolation prepared talk and live-action Zoom Q & A about Dangerous Visions and New Worlds – Radical Science Fiction 1950 – 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre. 

On Friday 8 April opened an email from Mob member and former WorldCon Chair & Co-chair Perry Middlemiss:

“Congrats Lucy, and well done Murray for getting the timing of Wednesday’s Nova Mob meeting exactly right.”

Chicon have announced the Hugo shortlists and Dangerous Visions and New Worlds – Radical Science Fiction 1950 – 1985 is on the ballot for Best Related Work! Iain said:

“thanks for the call. We were told a few weeks back but sworn to secrecy so I couldn’t mention anything the other night. It is very exciting.”

We can’t really claim credit for the timing because various circumstances did prevent Iain speaking at the Mob sooner. What wonderful recognition for the book, its editors, and its contributors, including Mob member Lucy Sussex! Here’s hoping it wins its category – the scholarship is certainly worthy of a Hugo.