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P.D. James (1920-2014)

Author P.D. James, 94, died November 27, 2014 at home in Oxford England. James was best known as a celebrated mystery writer, but she wrote one book of SF interest: dystopian The Children of Men (1992), set in a near future where humans have lost the ability to reproduce. It was adapted as film Children of Men in 2006. Her first novel was Cover Her Face (1966), beginning the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series, which ran for 14 novels, most recently The Private Patient (2008). She also wrote the Cordelia Gray mystery duology, a play, some standalone novels, and non-fiction.

Phyllis Dorothy James was born August 3, 1920.  During WWII she worked at the Ministry of Food and served as a Red Cross nurse. After the war she worked in the National Health Service and studied hospital administration while writing on the side, and some of her early novels are set in hospitals. She joined the civil service after her husband’s death, working for the Department of Home affairs as an administrator in divisions devoted to forensic science and criminal law, experiences which also helped her mystery writing. She retired from the government in 1979 and became a full-time writer. Novel Innocent Blood (1980) brought her to wide attention, transforming her into an international bestseller.

She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1983. In 1991 she was granted a life peerage in recognition of her public service, and made Baroness James of Holland Park. She served in the House of Lords and as a local magistrate.

James is survived by her daughters, five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

See the January 2015 issue of Locus for a complete obituary.

Stu Shiffman (1954-2014)

Fan and artist Stu Shiffman, 60, died November 26, 2014. He suffered a fall in October 2014 that required surgery, and did not regain consciousness after the operation.

Shiffman was a Hugo Award nominee for Best Fan Artist 14 times, appearing on the ballot every year from 1979-86 and 1989-94, and winning the award in 1990. He was born February 12, 1954 in New York. He became active in fandom in the 1970s, and throughout his long career contributed artwork to fanzines and convention publications. He won the Rotsler Award for life achievement as a fan artist in 2010. Shiffman was a devotee of alternate history, and served as a Sidewise Award judge from 1999-2012. He was a guest of honor at various conventions, and was also an occasional short fiction writer.

Shiffman had a stroke in June 2012, and though his recovery had many setbacks, his health improving before his fall in October. He is survived by his wife Andi Shechter, married June 2014 (though she was his partner for over 25 years).

For the full obituary, see our January 2015 issue of Locus.

SLF Grants

Writer Madhvi Ramani won both the Diverse Writers Grant and the Diverse Worlds Grant, given by the Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF). Each “diversity-centered” grant is for $500; this is the first year they were offered. The application period for next year’s grants is May 1, 2015 to July 31, 2015. For more information, see the official Facebook announcement.

Orange Mike Lowrey and James Nicoll will both be jurors for the SLF’s Working-Class/Impoverished Writers’ grant. The application period runs from December 15th, 2014 to February 28th, 2015, and offers $750.

For more information see the official SLF website.

Clute Named Fellow at Anglia Ruskin

Critic and author John Clute has been named an Honorary Visiting Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England. Professor Farah Mendlesohn, head of the Department of English and Media, said, “We very much look forward to John Clute taking part in the next Cambridge Festival of Ideas, as well as inviting him to speak with students at Anglia Ruskin.” The appointment is for the next five years.

Le Guin’s NBA Acceptance Speech

As previously announced, Ursula K. Le Guin received the medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Awards. She accepted the medal at a ceremony held November 19, 2014 in New York. Her acceptance speech was a rousing call to arms against the “profiteers” who threaten publishing, denouncing “corporate fatwas,” and stressing the importance of art over “market commodity.” Video of her entire speech can be viewed here.

Terraform Launch

Vice Media Group has announced the launch of Terraform, a new weekly online magazine devoted to original SF. Editors Brian Merchant and Claire L. Evans will run the site, which launched November 17, 2014 with “The Brain Dump” by Bruce Sterling; “Huxleyed Into the Full Orwell” by Cory Doctorow; and “The Overview Effect” by co-editor Evans.

They plan to publish a new piece each week, with “a blend of traditional and nontraditional future fiction.” Merchant says the site will showcase “short, topical pieces of speculative fiction” and “will create mainstream short-form internet fiction, with a little help from some of the best authors and artists in the game.” They will offer pay rates of 20 cents per word for fiction up to 2,000 words.

Terraform will run under the auspices of Vice’s larger science and technology site Motherboard. Evans explains, “Publishing science fiction is a logical next step for [Motherboard]. We’ve led the charge, investigating and reporting about technology — now we want to share stories about where all these technologies might lead. Think of it as future journalism. Tomorrow’s news today.”

For more see the Terraform website.

Duffey Wins ISFiC Contest

“Under the Hill” by Siobhan Duffey won the ISFiC Writers Contest for previously unpublished authors of SF and fantasy. Duffey received membership to Windycon 41 (November 14-16, 2014 in Chicago) including a paid hotel room and a $300 prize. Her story was published both online and in the Windycon 41 program book.

For more information, see the ISFiC website.

Hachette and Amazon Back in Business

Hachette and Amazon have signed a new multi-year contract, ending the dispute that has been ongoing since the beginning of the year. Though neither side released details of the agreement, reportedly Hachette has the ability to set prices for their e-books. This comes less than a month after Amazon’s deal with Simon & Schuster, in which S&S also retained the right to set e-book prices. Further details haven’t been released, but both Hachette and Amazon have announced that they are happy with the contract. Michael Pietsch, Hachette’s chief executive said, “The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. This is great news for writers.”

For more, see the story in the New York Times.

Ray Bradbury Auction Returns

Nate D. Sanders Fine Autographs & Memorabilia is hosting a second Ray Bradbury estate auction. The online catalog offers unsold items, many reduced in price, from Bradbury’s personal collection. The collection includes original art, memorabilia, curios, and other collectibles. The auction ends November 20, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. PDT.

Lunacon 2015 Canceled

Lunacon 2015 has been canceled, according to the Lunacon Facebook page. Lunacon, the official convention for the New York Science Fiction Society (the Lunarians, Inc.), is slated to return March 18-20, 2016. Those who bought memberships for 2015 will be contacted and offered a refund or membership in Lunacon 2016.

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