Ellison Story Elected To Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame

Harlan Ellison’s “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” has been chosen by members of the Libertarian Futurist Society as the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner.

Originally published in Galaxy in December 1965, “Repent, Harlequin!” portrays one man’s surrealist rebellion against a repressive future society obsessed with timeliness. Ellison’s rule-breaking narrative structure and style have made the story memorable to generations of readers.

Prometheus Awards for Best Novel and Hall of Fame commemorate works of science fiction and fantasy with pro-freedom themes.

The award ceremony will take place Saturday, May 9, at Marcon in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s participation in the celebration of Marcon’s fiftieth anniversary. The LFS will present a Special Award for Lifetime Achievement to F. Paul Wilson in the same ceremony.

The awards consist of plaques with gold coins mounted on them, a symbol of free minds and free trade.

A full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories is here.

Dublin in 2019 Update

After appearances at both the British Eastercon and Norwescon in the U.S, as of the beginning of April Dublin in 2019 has reached the 600 mark in paid supporters.

Broken out by level the numbers are —

  • Pre-Supporting: 458
  • Backer: 6
  • Friend: 100
  • SuperFriend: 11
  • Subscriber: 25
  • Grand Total: 600

“Easter was a cracking weekend for us,” said Chair James Bacon, “and I am very pleased that we exceeded 600 pre-supports. My thanks to all who have helped us get to this substantial number, it is evidence of the hard work and enthusiasm that people have for our Bid.”

Many of these pre-supporters have also volunteered time to assist the bid.

Four and Twenty Puppies Smoked in a Pie 4/20

It was a prolific day, with new posts from Sad Puppies’ Torgersen and Correia, and Rabid Puppies’ Vox Day, puppy supporters Dave Freer and Amanda S. Green, and detractors John Scalzi and David Gerrold. A host of new voices joined the exchange. And Adam Troy-Castro has penned something that is either a satire, or a candidate for the Sad Puppies 4 slate — decide for yourself.

Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“Battlers” – April 20

It’s been interesting to see how this has spun in the little circus that has been the Hugo Awards this year. The big guys, Nielsen Hayden, Stross, GRRM, Scalzi – you know wealthy, powerful white men who have won huge numbers of Hugo Nominations and indeed awards, are up in arms because some rag-tag bunch of uppity little battlers who’d never been there before, from across the social, political, racial and sexual spectrum got nominated, instead of a narrower group they approve of – including… just by chance, themselves and friends, many of whom who have multiple prior noms and awards. It’s taken away diversity and these nominees want women and ‘PoC’ (‘People of Color’ which bizarrely is not offensive, but ‘Colored People’ is just vile. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?) Of course these rich, powerful white men are feminists and oppose racism. Are they leading the charge because they think white men are just naturally better at it?

Look, all we’ve really got is making fun of the bastards. I feel kind of guilty sometimes because it is so easy, but hell’s teeth, they’ve brought enough weight to bear against us. I’m kind of losing count at the rent-a-hit journalism (a plainly very ethical field, full of honest honorable folk) informing us we’re all rich white men oppressing everyone and winding the clock back. Is it daylight savings over there already?

Still, I’m glad to be learning my place from David Gerrold. I’d never have guessed that I was one of the little people otherwise.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“Keeping Up With the Hugos” – April 20

At this point Correia and Torgersen have to decide whether they want to be known either as Day’s fellow travelers, or his useful idiots. Or both! It could be both. Neither of these options makes them look good; nor, obviously, fits with their own self-image of being Brave Men Fighting the Good Fight™. But in fact, they aren’t fighting a good fight, and in fact, they got played. So: Fellow travelers or useful idiots. These are the choices.

* Also, can we please now stop pretending that this whole Puppy nonsense began for any other reason than that once upon a time, Larry Correia thought he was going to win an award and was super pissed he didn’t, and decided that the reason he didn’t had to be a terrible, awful conspiracy against people just like him (a conservative! Writing “fun” fiction!), as opposed to, oh, the voters deciding they just plain liked something and someone else better?

…(And yes, I know, Correia declined his nomination for the Hugo this year. Let’s talk about that for a minute, shall we. It takes a very special sort of fellow to allow himself to be on a slate to get nominated, marshal people to nominate him for the award as part of a slate, and then decline — and write a big ol’ puffed-up piece about why he was declining, social justice warriors, blows against the empire, blah blah blah, yadda yadda. Yes, nice he declined the nomination and let someone else on the ballot. But it’s a little like wanting credit for rescuing a baby squirrel when you knocked the baby squirrel out of the tree to begin with.)

To be clear, the Puppy nonsense now isn’t just about Correia really really really wanting validation in the form of a rocketship; Day’s stealing the Puppy movement right out from under Correia and Torgerson has changed things up quite a bit, and it’s certainly true at this point that this little campaign is about a bunch of people trying to shit in the punchbowl so no one else can have any punch. But at the beginning, it was Correia hurt and angry that someone else got an award he thought was his, and deciding that it was stolen from him, rather than being something that was never his to begin with. And I’m sorry for him that it didn’t go his way. But actual grown human beings deal with disappointment in ways other than Correia has.

 

Nick Mamatas in a comment on Whatever

If the Hugos have really been dominated by leftist material that prized message over story since the mid-1990s (Brad’s timeline), it should be very simple for members of the Puppy Party to name

a. one work of fiction

b. that won a Hugo Award

c. while foregrounding a left message to the extent that the story was ruined or misshaped

d. per set of winners since 1995.

That’s all. Just a list of twenty books or stories—a single winner per year. Even though a single winner per year wouldn’t prove domination, I’m happy to make it easy for the Puppies.

Any Puppy Partisan want to start naming some names?

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Nuking the Hugos from orbit” – April 20

The chief sin of Sad Puppies 3 seems to be that we were transparent and we were successful beyond all expectation.

Many a red herring has been lobbed at us over the past three weeks. All of these are colossal distractions from the central question I’ve been asking my entire (short, so far) career: do the Hugos even matter anymore, and if they don’t, how to we get them to matter again?

My logic has been: get more people to vote, and bring those people in from diverse sectors of the consumer market, and the cachet of the award increases because more and more people from a broader spectrum of the totality of fandom (small f) will have a stake in the award, pay attention to what’s selected for the final ballot, and will view the award as a valid marker of enjoyability; or at least notoriety.

Especially since the Hugos have already been subjected to numerous manipulations (again, all behind the scenes) by authors, voters, and publishers, who all seem to want the Hugo to better reflect their tastes, their interests, their politics, and their pet points they want to make with the award.

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Ringing the bell” – April 20

Picking up where I left off with my post on tribalism. Because I wanted to talk specifically about a recurrent kind of “broken” I am seeing in arguments all over the place — beyond the tiny halls of the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction. This “broken” is most commonly manifested among well-meaning straight Caucasian folk, but is often fostered and preached about by non-straight and/or non-Caucasians of a particularly aggressive “progressive” persuasion.

 

Adam Troy-Castro on Facebook

The irrepressible ensign, whose blonde hair and pale complexion had put him on the fast track to command from the very first medical determination that he was not gay, reported, “It’s a SJW vessel, Captain. They’re demanding our surrender!”

Captain Christian White grimaced, heterosexually. He remembered the last time a Federation vessel had allowed an SJW cruiser its way, sashaying across the universe at multiple times the speed of light. The Federation’s resolve had weakened, the rockets had sagged a little on their pads, and one of the medals for valor that year had actually gone to somebody with a slightly ethnic last name. Only the keen perception of Captain White and his fellow cabal had recognized that this was the sign of a vile conspiracy, and allowed the institution of safeguards to make sure that this would never happen again.

 

Kevin Standlee

“Combatting Hugo Despair” – April 20

If you don’t clean up graffiti, it typically spreads.

  1. Cleaning up graffiti is hard work.
  2. It is easier, when you see graffiti defacing something nice, to say, “Oh, what a shame. I loved that once, but now it’s defaced, so I guess we’d better abandon it” than to break out the scrub brushes and solvent and to organize the community to help clean it up.
  3. Initially, when you clean up graffiti, it’s not unusual for the vandals to consider it a nice clean slate for their next attack.
  4. If you consistently clean up graffiti attacks, after a while the vandals discover that almost nobody ever sees their works of destruction, and eventually they will give up and go away because they stop getting any egoboo out of defacing things.

My position with the Hugo Awards, the World Science Fiction Convention, and the World Science Fiction Society? Well, I’m putting on my coveralls, buying some heavy duty scrub brushes, picking up the box of old rags, and rummaging around in the garage for that industrial-sized can of solvent I know we had in there somewhere.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 18

Some draconian measures have been suggested. Those cures would be worse than the disease and would pretty much hand a victory to the self-appointed super-villain. He would have succeeded in destroying the award.

I think there’s a simpler solution. I’m tossing it out here for discussion. What if we gave the Worldcon committee the discretion to create a committee of qualified individuals who would review the nominating ballots and set aside any that show strong evidence of ballot stuffing? So if a hundred ballots come in and they are all identical — and if they all contain nominations for works or individuals that are not represented or significantly under-represented on any other ballots, then that can be seen as evidence of a ballot-stuffing effort and those ballots can be set aside.

This would not disqualify recommended reading lists. Those would still be encouraged.

Notice the separate components. The Worldcon committee themselves will not have the responsibility for adjudicating — instead, they have the option of creating an independent committee of qualified individuals, preferably past Worldcon committee members. Second, they cannot set aside ballots willy-nilly, only those that show evidence of a slate. If the slate-mongering has been a public effort, it’s an easier job. But if a hundred ballots come in all voting for the same stories and there are no other ballots that also include any of those stories, then that’s evidence of a ballot-stuffing campaign and the ballots should be set aside.

Had such a rule been in place this year, the entire rabid slate could have been nullified, while still allowing the majority of voters their rightful opportunities to be heard.

 

Roger Cadenhead on Workbench

“Brad Torgersen’s ‘Science Fiction Civil War’” – April 20

There’s a lot about this situation that gets me all het up, but I’m beginning to savor the insane grandiosity of Torgersen (pictured above), a previously obscure SF/F author who led the bloc-voting campaign this year and dubbed it “Sad Puppies 3.”

On April 8, Torgersen wrote a blog post on his personal site called “The Science Fiction Civil War” that he later deleted.

Here’s the text of that post, which offers a fantastic glimpse into the preening self-regard that inspired him to lead a culture war against a much-loved SF/F award that fans of all political beliefs have nurtured since 1953….

 

John C. Wright

NPR Upholds Morlock Journalistic Ethics – April 20

Well, well. The NPR weekend show ON THE MEDIA has joined the lynch mob, and done their level best to add hysteria and contumely and smother any trace of rational dialog in the little sortie of the Culture Wars known as Sad Puppies.

They were paid for by my tax money, my dear readers, and yours.

And before you ask, no, no journalist, no editor, no one contacted me or interviewed me or made any attempt known to me to hear from the counsel for the defense. At a real witch trial held by the real Inquisition, even the devil gets an advocate and someone speaks up for defendant being accused of witchcraft.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Puppies on NPR” – April 20

KW listened in and heard NPR doing their usual bang-up job on Sad Puppies. For me, the most intriguing aspect of the media coverage has been the near-complete lack of interest in actually talking to anyone involved in the actual news-making activity. I mean, I am about as cynical a media skeptic as it is possible to be, and yet somehow, these journalistic incompetents haven’t even managed to rise to my very, very low level of expectations.

 

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter International

“Catching up, then back to work” – April 20

Apparently there were a bunch more stupid articles and news reports this weekend, still running with the angry straight white men, anti-diversity slate angle. I don’t even bother reading them anymore. It is all the same script. I didn’t even know Popular Science was still around.

In the interest of full disclosure, none of the hit pieces tried to talk to us, but NPR’s On The Media did try to reach out. They sent me an email, they wanted to speak on the phone to gather info, but it was on a day when I was running around the wilds of Yard Moose Mountain and I missed their call. I sent them an apology the next morning.

I haven’t listened, but I heard they brought in professional outrage monger Arthur Chu to explain everything. Ha! But to be fair, they at least tried.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Black Gate withdraws” – April 20

Or rather, they have asked to not be considered for the Hugo award for which they will be on the ballot. While I disagree with John’s decision, I respect his right to make it.  I find it ironic, however, that people are responding to a large group of people dictating the ballot by unilaterally dictating to people for whom they will not vote.

I also find it telling that a threat to support No Award next year is supposedly worse than a vow to do it this year. I am curious. Would they consider it better if I accepted what passes for their reasoning and announced that Rabid Puppies will join the No Award movement this year? Because that is certainly an option. (Settle down, you bloodthirsty bastards, I said no more than the obvious. It is an option.)

The goal is to improve the Awards, not destroy them. But if the SJWs would rather destroy them than relinquish their control, well, that will tell the world exactly what sort of totalitarians they are. That’s two birds for the price of one. We’ve already got them on the record stating that our views are invalid and should be suppressed by force; seeing them demolish the awards without our assistance will communicate that more effectively than we can do ourselves.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

Hugo News: Black Gate Edition – April 20

What I am most curious about here is that because the ballots are already at the printer, Sasquan is unable to remove Black Gate from the ballot (apparently some people still use paper ballots – because science fiction is a genre of the future…) – but will Black Gate’s request be honored?  Will votes for Black Gate just not be counted?  This might be the easiest solution.

 

Lou Antonelli on Facebook – April 20

Got my annual Mensa membership card in the mail today. I’m not showing this out of vanity, it’s just I’ve found it’s a good idea to keep it handy because the first slur the Anti-Puppy snobs usually toss out when disrespecting you is “stupid”.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“No winners?” – April 20

And that is the problem. They are making Vox the issue and are, in all too many instances, refusing to even consider a nominee he might have liked or recommended. That is, as I have said before, a disservice to all those authors and artists who have done good work, worthy work.

Look, here’s the truth of the matter. Vox is but one man. Yes, he might say things that make us uncomfortable. He might believe things that seem further out than left field. But, as writers and artists, we have no control over who reads/sees or likes our work. If you don’t like Vox and can’t bring yourself to read his work, that’s fine. But don’t condemn others who have no relationship to him except for the fact he nominated them. (Full disclosure here, I was one both SP3 and Rabid Puppies. I didn’t realize I was on Rabid Puppies until well after the nominees were announced.)

 

Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“Vox Day is exploiting the Sad Puppies for personal gain” – April 20

I don’t know the details of the rules, but I figure this is probably enough evidence for Sasquan’s Hugo Awards Committee to decide that Castalia House engaged in illegal ballot-stuffing under the current rules, and to remove all Castalia House-associated nominees from the Hugo Ballot. If it’s an option, I’d suggest that Vox Day and Castalia House be considered ineligible for nomination for at least a few years going forward, too.

 

Rjurik Davidson on Overland

“The Mad Puppies revenge” – April 21

How do we best understand this culture war? The immediate cause, it seems, is the fact that in recent years, the Hugo Awards have been transformed. In other words, there has been a slow, molecular, and very incomplete growth of progressive values within science fiction and fantasy, along with the concomitant breaking down of established racist, homophobic and patriarchal barriers. The number of women nominees, for example, reached rough parity between 2011-2013. In this way, again, it parallels the Gamergate controversy: games having been once the protected turf of white males.

 

 

 

Jon F. Zeigler on Sharrukin’s Palace

“My first (and last) word on the Hugos” – April 20

[Here  is the most novel approach to the voting process I have read (no pun intended.) (Well, maybe a little intended.) The decision to use a concrete example as a reference point sets Zeigler apart from most in the “I know quality when I see it” camp. And it is also a solution that is not obviously driven by an agenda. Very interesting idea:]

In each category, in so far as I am able and with only one general exception, I plan to examine all the works on the ballot and give them fair consideration. I will rank them in order of their quality, using my own tastes and criteria. So far I doubt I’m planning to do anything unusual.

Where my strategy may be distinctive is that I plan to examine six items for each category – the five on the ballot, and the item that I consider to have been the best eligible work that did not reach the ballot.

So for example, in the Best Novel category this year, on the final ballot we have:

  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  • The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

I know some of those works got onto the ballot because of slate voting and some did not. At least one novel, in fact, was added to the ballot only after an author whose novel was on one of the slates withdrew it from consideration. I’m not going to take any of that into account. As much as I disapprove of organized slates, it’s still possible that a slate might have selected the best available work.

On the other hand, it’s also possible – even likely – that a slate will actually push some of the best available works out of consideration. In fact, the people organizing this year’s slates allege that this has already been happening for a long time – that other parties have (informally) manipulated the nominations process to exclude otherwise deserving work.

All right, so let me correct for that possibility. That’s where the sixth work under consideration in each category comes in. I’ll read and evaluate that work too, but it will hold the slot for No Award in its category. Thus, if I find that a work on the ballot is markedly inferior to the one that did not get nominated, I will have to assume that something went wrong. Either my tastes are really unusual, or some form of manipulation of the nominations process pushed the more deserving work off the ballot. In either case, I’ve identified a work that will rank below No Award in my selection.

To return to my example, the sixth work I’ll include in my decision-making process will probably be Echopraxia, by Peter Watts. I read that novel a couple of months ago, and it quite impressed me at the time. So any novel that I find is at least comparable in quality to Echopraxia will get ranked above No Award on my ballot. Any novel that I find is clearly not comparable will get ranked below No Award.

 

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin weblog

“The Three-Body Problem” – April 19

However, since this year’s Hugo awards are so weirdly contentious, one of the Best Novel nominees dropped out of the race. I’m not sure if this is unprecedented or not, but it’s highly unlikely nonetheless (authors often refuse their nomination, but are given a chance to do so before the finalists are announced – this situation where an author sees the lay of the year’s Hugo land and simply opts out was surprising) and many were expecting this to mean that the Best Novel category would only include 4 nominees. After all, adding the next most popular nominee would tell everyone who got the least nominating votes (info that is only published after the awards are handed out) and honestly, given the current situation, this precedent seems ripe for abuse. Nevertheless, the Hugo administrators opted to fill the open slot with The Three-Body Problem (a non-Puppy nominee, though from what I’ve seen, the Puppies seem to really enjoy this book). From left off the ballot to potential winner, quite a turn of events. Of the two nominees I’ve read, this is clearly ahead and could possibly take my number 1 vote. It is a bit of an odd duck, but I quite enjoyed it.

 

John C. Wright

“Not so much Dino-hate, Please!” – April 20

At the risk of alienated my beloved fans who voted either for Sad Puppies or Rabid   and elevated my humble work to a world-record number of nominations, I would like to state something for the record.

A lot of us are ragging on Rachel Swirsky’s prose poem ‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love‘ which was Hugo nominated and won a Nebula for its category.

And, for the record, I for one do not think ‘If You Were a Dinosaur’ is bad. I do not think it is great, but tastes differ.

The author with admirable brevity of space establishes a gay and playful mood, using a stream of consciousness technique and adhere to a strict textual scheme (lifted from IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE) and then fishtailing into a surprise ending that is poignant and moving, all within less than 1000 words.

 

Stevie Carroll in Women & Words

“This Year’s Hugo Awards, Diversity in SF and Fantasy, and the Bechdel Test” – April 20

Diversity in SF and Fantasy has been a major discussion topic at both the conventions I’ve been to this year as well as on a lot of author blogs in the genre that I follow (most of which fall into a group of bloggers that the anti-feminist, anti-diversity complainers derisively refer to as Social Justice Warriors because they’re somehow offended by the idea that straight white men might actually support feminism and other forms of equality campaigning). I think two of my favourite comments came from a discussion panel on Dr Who – one from a white woman who described her feelings of alienation when she moved in the 1980s (IIRC) from a typical inner city in the UK to Cambridge where the population was far less diverse than she was used to, and the other from an audience member who asserted that these days if the Doctor is to be invisible (in the sense of generally ignored by those around him) in a lot of places then he could do worse than being either a young black man or a woman in her fifties or older.

 

William Reichard on Plaeroma

“RE: Update on sci-fi & the ‘Hugo Maneuver’” – April 20

Just a quick update to let everybody know our plan is working better than we could have anticipated. “Debate” on the subject of the Hugo Awards has become a self-perpetuating firestorm that shows no signs of lessening. Writers on all sides of the issue are fully engulfed, and the conflagration even shows promising signs of spreading to the larger culture.

Rest assured, any dangerous minds on all sides will be doing nothing else of significance for months if not years thanks to this coup, and thus we are safe to continue our diabolical work with impunity for now as the discussion descends into ever more atomic and arcane levels.

 

Wikipedia adds section to entry for “Theodore Beale” – April 20

2015 Hugo Awards

In 2015 Beale’s slate of candidates for the Hugo Awards, which placed most of its nominees on the ballot, led two authors to withdraw their own nominations, and for one presenter to withdraw from the event.

Star Trek Renegades Trailer

Take a peek at Tim Russ’ Star Trek Renegades, with Adrienne Wilkinson as Captain Lexxa Singh, Russ as Tuvok, and Walter Koenig and Robert Picardo cast in other roles, in this new trailer.

It is nearly ten years after Voyager’s return from the Delta Quadrant, and the Federation is in a crisis. The Federation’s main suppliers of dilithium crystals are disappearing. Space and time have folded around several planets, effectively isolating them from any contact with outside worlds. And this phenomenon is not natural – someone or something is causing this to happen. This necessitates drastic measures; some of which are outside the Federation’s normal jurisdiction. For this, Admiral Pavel Chekov, head of Starfleet Intelligence, turns to Commander Tuvok, Voyager’s former security officer and current head of the newly reorganized Section 31. Tuvok must put together a new covert, renegade crew – mostly outcasts and rogues – even criminals. This new crew is tasked with finding out what is causing the folding of time and space, and stopping it – at all costs. But will they be able to put aside their differences and stop trying to kill one another in time to accomplish their mission?

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

Art Widner (1917-2015)

Art Widner at the 2008 Corflu. Photo by Alan White.

Art Widner at the 2008 Corflu. Photo by Alan White.

Always ready to help, never a better friend, opinionated, long on experience and wise about fannish weaknesses (even his own), a fascinating storyteller, organizer and party host, Art Widner passed away April 17 at the age of 97.

Widner wrote not long ago that he had prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones, reports Andrew Porter. He had outlived his children, but is survived by several grand-and great-grandchildren.

Art himself lived two complete fan lifetimes, interrupted by a three-decade gafiation.

His first fannish life began when he discovered fandom through the prozines. And that life was characterized by a zeal for fanpolitics and organizing.

“Like so many fen, I was the Old Weird Harold on my block, carrying home those lurid pulp magazines with nubile bimbos on the cover wearing VW hubcap bras – which was remarkable because Volkswagen hadn’t been invented yet,” he told the audience at the 1989 Worldcon’s “Family Reunion.”

As other proto-fans did in the 1930s, he wrote letters to the prozines reviewing their efforts and criticizing their shortcomings – many of them to Weird Tales.

He helped organize “The Stranger Club” in 1940, Boston’s first science fiction club, together with Louis Russell Chauvenet, Chandler Davis, Gertrude Kuslan, Louis Kuslan, Norman Stanley, R.D. Swisher, and others. He chaired  the city’s first two sf conventions, Boskone I (1941) and Boskone II (1942). He published his first fanzine, co-edited with Earl Singleton and Francis Paro, FanFare.

Along with Louis Russell Chauvenet and Damon Knight, he was responsible for the formation of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F). Supporting Damon Knight’s call for a national fan organization, Widner wrote in FanFare  in 1940, “The crying need is cooperation among all fans and this seems an impossible situation at present. Fandom should have some sort of united front to put toward the rest of the world, or it will continue to be regarded as just the juvenile goshwowoboyoboy gang.”

Art Widner and Russ Chauvenet at the 1994 Corflu. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Art Widner and Russ Chauvenet at the 1994 Corflu. Photo by Rich Lynch.

He was also one of the big name fans on the board of directors of the Fantasy Foundation announced at the 1946 Worldcon, touted by Forry Ackerman as a museum of imaginative literature.

As a young man Art was reputed to be Built Like A Gorilla. Robert Madle was grateful to have him on hand at the 1941 Worldcon when C.M. Kornbluth was in a violent mood:

He [Kornbluth] was the arrogant one of the group, the one who had a personality like a snake. Not to cut him down his writings, which are very excellent. But he had a peculiar personality. Like there was that night they were going to beat the shit out of me at one of the conventions.

Fortunately I had with me Art Widner. We used to call him Popeye because he had muscle bulging out of his arms. Kornbluth said, “Hey, I’m going to beat the shit out of Madle,” and Widner said, “Who’s going to beat the shit out of who?”

I think that was the Denver convention. Other than that I had no real problems with Kornbluth – other than that night when he decided to beat the shit out of me.

(From C.M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary by Mark Rich.)

He was regarded a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) Brain Trust, a colloquial name for those who engaged in weighty discussions. On the other hand, nobody liked a good time better.

Widner featured in the 1940 Worldcon masquerade as Giles Habibula, his costume constructed out of “Pogo’s hat, Trudy Kuslan’s pillow, and an anonymous bartender’s wine bottle.” He returned in 1941 as “Old Granny” from Slan.

But often Art was looking for something beyond simple fun. He is credited with creating the first original science fiction board game, Interplanetary (1943), which he described as —

a combination of a standard [auto] “race” game and Monopoly. One had to get to a planet and bring back a cargo in order to finance a trip to the next distant planet where a still more valuable cargo would be obtained, etc., out to Pluto, which harbored “Immortality Dust,” the game winner. The novel aspect was that the planets moved, making it difficult to land on one, plus such hazards as the “negasphere”. (from EESmith epics–now known as a black hole) and pirates, to say nothing of falling into the sun, getting hit with space junk, etc.

With all these complexities, it took 8-12 hours to complete a game. Using a streamlined set of rules, it became popular with fans again in the 1960s. LASFS still owns a giant Interplanetary board and has hosted games in recent decades.

Art’s literary output was limited to a single prozine sale, “The Perfect Incinerator”, under the name Arthur Lambert, that appeared in a 1942 issue of Robert Lowndes’ Science Fiction Quarterly (priced, appropriately, for a quarter.)

Widner was the most inveterate poll taker in early 1940s fandom. The Widner Poll of 1940 included a list of the top ten science fiction pulps voted on by fans. When a gloating reader pointed out to editor Ray Palmer that not one belonged to Ziff-Davis, which published Palmer’s magazine, he dismissed it, saying that although Widner’s poll may have represented a dozen fans, Ziff-Davis circulation figures showed its magazines represented several hundred thousand readers from all walks of life, all over the world.

A few years later Art launched Poll Cat, chronicled by Jack Speer  in Fancyclopedia I:

Originally it was simply concerned with preferences among stf authors, etc. Appeals were broadcast in all leading fanzines for readers to send in their votes on certain questions, and as returns were compiled, they were published, later returns being published later. Then one issue of a fanzine called The Poll Cat appeared, at which time Widner set out to test the thesis that fans are a separate and distinct type (slans or whatever you want to call them)….Looking for unusual average in fans, Widner found several characteristics that looked significant, such as longevity of grandparents, larger hat size, and greater height….

 Art attended the first Worldcon in New York in 1939, and the next four, in Chicago (1940), Denver (1941), Los Angeles (1946) and Philadelphia (1947).

He drove to the Chicago Worldcon in a 1928 Dodge, the Skylark of WooWoo, the last model made by the Dodge Brothers.

He made an epic cross-country trek to Denvention I — the Widneride — in the FooFoo Special, a car without a trunk, accompanied by “Moneybags Unger, Tree Toad Rothman, Pretty Boy Madle, [and] Sourpuss Bell.”

(Now that Widner has passed away, only three people remain alive who attended the first Worldcon: Dave Kyle, Bob Madle, and Erle Korshak.)

Widner married during World War II, then was drafted into the service. However, because he was “volunteered” to be a technician-guinea pig at the newly formed Climatic Research Lab in Lawrence, MA he still got to go home nearly every weekend.

His fanac slowed while he was in the military and ground to a halt when he moved his family to Los Angeles in 1948. Soon after that he gafiated completely.

Signifying his disappearance from fandom, although Art is constantly mentioned in Warner’s 1940s history All Our Yesterdays, he doesn’t have a single listing in the index of the sequel about the 1950s, A Wealth of Fable.

Widner reappeared in fandom in the 1970s – reminiscing that like Voyager 2 after 10 years he had explored the local system, science fiction fandom, and went to see what lay beyond. “Thirty-five years later I came back to report: it’s pretty lonely out there.” He returned to fandom as an “eo-neo” and bumped into Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden “who knew who I was – or rather, had been.”

Art Widner, Poul Anderson and Charles Burbee at the 1974 Westercon. Photo by Dik Daniels.

Art Widner, Poul Anderson and Charles Burbee at the 1974 Westercon. Photo by Dik Daniels.

His best known fanzine YHOS, first published from 1940 till 1945, resumed publication after a 34 year hiatus and remained a prominent faanish zine into the 1980s and 1990s. (Even Harlan Ellison read it – something Art learned when Harlan phoned his cabin early one morning to take exception to a story Art had run.)

Originally revived as Art’s FAPAzine in 1979, YHOS consisted mainly of personal reminiscences about 1940s fandom and mailing comments.  Then it started to fill out with long travel reports, the kind of thing it was known for in its original incarnation. There was a “special travel issue” about Art’s trip to the ’79 Worldcon in Britain, a report on a trip to China, and another about his visit to Australia.  In time, it took on all the features of a genzine, with a host of original contributions and classic reprints.

Art also visited the Soviet Union in 1978 with a fan tour group that included Forry Ackerman, Joe and Gay Haldeman, Art Widner, Clifton Amsbury and Charles N. Brown.

And he enjoyed sidling up to folks who hadn’t seen him since the 1940s to see if they recognized him:

I believe it was at a Norwescon that I wandered into the SFWA suite and spotted Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm sitting by themselves waiting for something to happen…. We had both changed considerably, and I only recognized him because he was famous and had his picture in Locus. He didn’t recognize me as I sat down nearby. I kept mum and gave him a chance to see past the wrinkles and gray beard, but he apparently decided it wasn’t worth the effort and resumed talking to Kate.

Finally I introduced myself and he cracked up. Turning to Kate, he said, “I’d like to have you meet the guy who helped me start the dumbest organization in all fandom.”

That was the N3F. But when he resumed going to Worldcons Art said he was “quite astonished [to find] that the NFFF was still alive and kicking. Not only that, but the good-hearted fuggheads running the Welcome Room were pathetically eager to induct me into the mysteries of Trufandom about which they didn’t know a blessed thing!”

He attended the first 18 Corflus without a miss. A classic moment at the 2008 edition was Art serenading his fellow eo-fan, Jack Speer, with the first-ever filksong, written by Jack himself.

Although the term “filksong” had yet to be invented, several of these songs were sung at the 1940 Worldcon. Jack created them by setting new lyrics with a science fictional theme to familiar tunes. A snippet of one goes:

We’ll build a tempo-ship
And we’ll take a little trip,
And watch a million years go by.

You can still hear Art Widner’s mellow tones in Bill Mills’ Voice of Fandom podcast #16.

The 2007 Ditto was organized around Art’s 90th birthday and held in his hometown of Gualala, California. “I have never seen that much alcohol in a con suite, maybe even counting Midwestcon,” recalled Hope Leibwoitz in her conreport. “At the birthday party, there were 15 bottles of scotch on the table.” Art was a great fan of good scotch. People toured his eight-sided green-painted house. At one point in the con, Art read the 10 things it took him 90 years to learn, eventually published in Yhos.

He later added a new #3, in “R. Twidner”-style:

It’s specificly directed at the Religiosity Ryt.  ‘Forget John 3:16.  Read Matthew 23’  It’s what Jesus thot of the Philistines, scribes & harisees, i.e., Big Time Hypocrits.

(Michael Ward’s  photos of Art’s 90th Birthday party are online: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus Saturday Dinner at St. Orres, Art’s House, a visit to Bowling Ball Beach, and Picturesque Scenes from Gualala, California, and The Breakers Inn.)

Art was a guest of honor at many other conventions: Boskone IV (1945), Noreascon 3 (1989, as part of The Strangers Club), Norwescon VI (1983), Westercon 43 (1990), Minicon 25 (1990), Corflu 16 (1999), Ditto 19 (2007) and twice at BayCon.

A member of First Fandom and the First Fandom Hall of Fame, he was honored with the Big Heart Award in 1989, and in 2001 was selected at Corflu as Past President of the Fan Writers of America for 2000. Along with the other members of The Stranger Club, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon 3. He was nominated for the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo at L.A.con III in 1996. He received a Special Lifetime Achievement Award at Corflu in 2011.

He was voted Down Under Fan Fund delegate in 1991 and attended the Australian NatCon.

Glenn Glazer aptly commemorated Art Widner’s passing with this quote from The Hobbit:

‘No!’ said Thorin. ‘There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Freed of the ambitions of his first fannish life, the second time around Art knew exactly how to make this a merrier world. He set a great example for the rest of us.

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Puppies of War 4/19

Black Gate’s withdrawal from the Hugos may have been too late to change the ballot, but was just in time to provide fresh evidence of the social cost of this controversy.

George R.R. Martin says he still doesn’t agree with their advice to vote No Award.

Otherwise, appropriate to a Sunday, there was preaching to the choir all over the internet.

Alexandra Erin from a collected series of tweets on Storify

 “Why do book recommendations make Sad Puppies sad” – April 10

If I say “I want to read more feminist SF” or “I want to read more books with queer protagonists”, I didn’t *forget* about quality. Or fun.

Any more than I would have forgotten those things if I said “I want to read more military SF.”

The selective failure to understand this very simple point is what fuels the perpetual outrage machine that keeps the Sad Puppies sad.

 

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 19

2) The narrative about the sad-rabids has crystallized. As more than one analyst has pointed out, the sad-rabid position is based on a misreading of history and a misunderstanding of fandom — a failure to understand the context into which they are speaking. While the slate-mongering is technically legal, it violates the spirit of fairness. As a result, they have made themselves a focus of fannish anger. Never a good thing. A growing majority of fans are seeing this situation as the efforts of a small group of extremists to take over something that has previously belonged to all fans, ie. an attempted coup.

The short-term result here is anger. That will pass. Not soon enough, but it will. The long-term result will be that anyone too closely identified with the sad-rabids, anyone who benefited from this slate-mongering, anyone who did not publicly withdraw, will be indelibly tainted. Fans have long memories. Some grudges in fandom date back to the universe that existed before the big bang. Harlan, for instance, is still working on grudges from the twelfth century…B.C.

Those who have been tainted will find that they have put unnecessary obstacles in their own paths. There are editors who will not want the stink that certain authors will be tracking with them. There are conventions that will not invite them to be on panels. There are awards they can never be considered for, lest others wonder if there was a political agenda at work. There are websites and fanzines and podcasts that will choose not to interview them — conversely, there will be others that will interview them for their perspective on the situation, stirring the shit one more time and spreading it just a little more.

 

Paul Weimer on Blog, Jvstin Style

“2 Corinthians 6:14 and othering: Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies and SJWs” – April 19

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (KJV)

This Story on Hullabaloo got me thinking about the conflict in SFF Fandom lately regarding the Hugos and all sides.

There is a hell of a lot of “othering” going on, and yes, its not limited to one side, or even predominantly one side. There is also the perception of othering on BOTH sides that probably exceeds the actual amount going on.

Larry, Brad and Sad Puppies see themselves as being treated as pariahs and outsiders by the Worldcon crowd. Part of that perception, whether its ex post facto, perception only, or really there just amplifies itself on the Internet. Similarly, the other side (which I am going to call SJW, just because its easier) sees many right wing authors and people as being beyond the pale, unworthy or impossible to engage with, and sparks fly on that side.

 

Kevin Standlee

“2015 Business Meeting Updates” – April 19

The meeting is not secret. The only restriction on non-members attending is capacity. We will be officially recording the meeting, and we will upload those recordings to YouTube as soon as bandwidth allows. That doesn’t mean instantaneously. It will probably take several hours at least to pull the recordings out of the camera, convert them to the correct format, and upload them, even on a decently high-speed connection. There is currently no plan to live-stream the meeting, although this could change, as the new camera Lisa just bought does appear to have outputs that might be able to feed to something that could send the feed out live.

My reading of the WSFS Constitution is that the Business Meeting, besides being the only required event at a Worldcon (Site Selection isn’t an “event” in my formulation, and the Hugo Ceremony isn’t required) outside of stuff about MPC meetings and other minor trivia, is also the only event at a Worldcon where we’re not allowed to refuse entry to any qualified member who wants to attend. Even the Hugo Awards Ceremony can turn people away if the room overflows, but the Business Meeting cannot do so because it would violate the members’ rights under our rules. This of course has never been an issue before and it’s rare that more than about 2% of the qualified members want to attend. This year is looking so weird right now that we cannot as yet make an estimate of actual attendance with much confidence. Thus the currently booked room (300B) is subject to change, possibly on short notice due to changed circumstances. No change is intended maliciously, and any change on short notice at the convention will be publicized to the best of the convention’s ability to do so.

 

Kevin Standlee

“NPR Reports on Puppygate”  – April 18

…Incidentally, after declining from the initial huge spike on Finalist Announcement Day, it appears that traffic to TheHugoAwards.org is still running at more than quadruple the pre-announcement levels. April 2015 will be the busiest month in the history of the web site, exceeding the traffic from last August. I am so glad that we changed site hosts last month. Our previous host was warning us that we were already approaching traffic levels well above what they were prepared to handle, which was why we moved. If we hadn’t done so, I expect that our old host would have started blocking calls to the site entirely.

 

PZ Myers on Freethought Blogs

“The things you learn about the sf community”  – April 19

I have to hand it to those goons who made up a slate of ‘conservative’ science fiction and slammed it into the Hugo nominations: I’d had this vague assumption that science fiction fans would be generally progressive and tolerant and even enthusiastic about different ideas. The Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies have enlightened and disillusioned me.

 

Indiana on Indi in the Wired

“How right wing bigots are ruining science fiction” – April 19

Unfortunately, Day’s logically absurd and transparently self-serving tactic actually worked. You see, it’s never taken many votes to skew the Hugos. It would have just taken the subtlest nudge for Day to get his own stable of writers well-represented… but “subtle” is probably lost on people like that.

And while there have certainly been campaigns for specific works in the past, and lists of suggested works of course, never before has there been a situation where one group has set up a slate designed to clog up the nominations with their own shit, and block out other nominees. That’s really where the problem lies: though they technically broke no rules, they twisted the process to hurt other writers, rather than to merely promote works they liked. The “Sad Puppies” slate was not designed to put their favourite works on the nomination list (where they could then compete fairly with other works), it was specifically designed to keep the works of those they were ideologically opposed to off the list.

 

All Things Considered on National Public Radio

“Hugo Awards Highlight Scarcity of Women Minorities in Science Fiction” – April 19, 2015

NPR’s Arun Rath talks to author Monica Byrne about how controversy surrounding this year’s Hugo Awards highlights a lack of women and minority speculative fiction authors.

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Black Gate Withdraws” – April 19

BLACK GATE is advocating the nuclear option: vote NO AWARD in all categories. I understand his reasoning, but once more, I disagree. I will vote NO AWARD only in those categories where I find nothing in the category worthy of a Hugo. If I think a book or story or editor IS worthy of a Hugo, I’m going to vote to award one.

The Hugos can withstand a few NO AWARDs, in categories where all the nominees are crap. They can NOT withstand an entire evening without a single rocket being presented, where one envelope after another is ripped open and NO AWARD is announced, again and again and again.

And as flawed and damaged as this ballot is, there ARE things on it deserving of our field’s ultimate accolade. Starting with BEST NOVEL, the Big One, where I know there is at least one Hugo-calibre book, and suspect there may be as many as three, or even four. Or BEST FAN WRITER, where Laura Mixon’s report on Requires Hate cries out for recognition. There are some terrific movies in Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. We missed PREDESTINATION, which deserved a nod, but we did get INTERSTELLAR, which I rank up there with 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. There are editors on the ballot deserving of recognition (no, not him, obviously), there’s an artist (maybe more than one, but one for sure), there’s a bunch of fine fan artists…

 

Tom Smith on Patreon

“New Song: ‘Sad Puppies (Aren’t Much Fun)'”

[Excerpt]

All their plots, all their hooks,

But no one nominated their books,

Sad puppies never won.

 

Jo Lindsay Walton on All That Is Solid Melts into Aargh

“Happy Puppies” – April 8

[Another helpful suggestion for changing the system used to  Hugo nominees…]

Or. Embrace war. Create a system that celebrates and encourages tactics, which does not try to suppress or mask our political differences but magnifies and elaborates them. Perhaps instead of a ballot you have a “deck” or “team” in which you choose your books, stories, films etc. and can also assign them various powers, tools, weapons, factional alliances, behaviours. Instead of simply counting, the whole battle or adventure or whatever plays out on a ginormous screen at the awards ceremony, accompanied by some pretty serious atmosphere. Update: a very simple bare bones example …

Each nominator gets four slots in each category. They’re not ranked, exactly, but they are classed. It might be:

BEST NOVEL Hedgehog: 25 HP, +5 damage vs. witch Dalek: 25 HP, +5 damage vs. hedgehog Witch: 25 HP, +5 damage vs. dalek Mithril Mech: 30 HP, begins in herald slot

… so for best novel, my ballot might look like this:

Hedgehog: Jeff VanderMeer, Southern Reach Dalek: Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem Witch: Adam Roberts, Bete MM: Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword

With each round of voting, each party is randomly paired with another. If the heralds are the same (i.e. in round one, if my ballot encounters another Ancillary Sword mithril mech) then both ballots survive intact and unchanged into the next round. Otherwise, a champion is randomly selected from the non-herald party members of each ballot.

Then:

(1) if the champions happen to be the same (e.g. my Southern Reach bumps into another Southern Reach) then the champions move into the heralds slots, but no damage is inflicted, and both ballots survive otherwise unaltered into the next round.

(2) otherwise, both nominations take damage according to their class. For example, say my Southern Reach hedgehog gets paired against a John Scalzi Lock In dalek. My nomination loses fifteen Hit Points, and the Lock In nomination loses ten (my quills aren’t much use against the dalek’s armour plating and selfie-stick).

Nominations that have fallen to zero Hit Points are eliminated, and a new round begins.

The cycle continues until all except five novels have been eliminated, comprising the short list.

Each nominator also receives an automated personalised chronicle of their ballot’s encounters and deeds. Nominators may also opt to make their ballot non-anonymous, so that their names come up in the battle reports of other nominators with whom they have friendly or warlike encounters. (“I literally met Hoyt in the fourth round! Her Correia Witch kicked my Leckie Dalek’s ass.”)

 

 

Sasquan Confirms Hugo Ballot Is Locked

In the wake of Black Gate’s withdrawal as a Hugo nominee fans have asked whether its vacancy will be filled, or will the ballot remain locked as Sasquan announced on April 16.

Hugo administrator John Lorentz confirms: “The ballot is indeed locked, and Black Gate will remain on the ballot. (That’s because the ballot is already at the printer and we can’t change it anymore.)”

Still under consideration is the possibility of including a statement on the online voting page about Black Gate’s announcement.

The ballot went immediately to the printer because Sasquan is doing a separate mailing of Hugo and site selection voting forms to avoid the delay of waiting for the convention’s next scheduled progress report.

There’s an App for Dan Alderson

Dan Alderson at the LASFS clubhouse in the early 1970s. Photo by Bill Warren.

Dan Alderson at the LASFS clubhouse in the early 1970s. Photo by Bill Warren.

How interesting to discover that the Scientists of America app, which “explains about the famous American Scientists and their inventions,” includes Dan Alderson. His name and photo appear on the demonstration page along with others whose last names start with an A.

The late Alderson was a LASFS member and CalTech grad who worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he wrote the software used to navigate Voyagers 1 and 2.

Alderson devised a Fortran program (called TRAM for Trajectory Monitor) for navigation in the solar system, still used by low-thrust craft in 2008.

Dan Alderson was often consulted by his fellow LASFS members Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. His contributions were acknowledged in the naming of the fictional Alderson drive and Alderson disk. He inspired the “Dan Forrester” character in Lucifer’s Hammer.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

Black Gate Withdraws From Hugo Ballot

Black Gate, a 2015 Hugo finalist in the fanzine category, has withdrawn from the ballot. John O’Neill announced the decision today:

On April 4th, Black Gate was nominated for a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. One of our bloggers, Matthew David Surridge, was also nominated as Best Fan Writer but, as he explained, he declined the nomination before the ballot was announced.

Since the nomination for Black Gate was for the entire site, which produces over 120 articles per month by a team of over 40 volunteers, I did not decline the nomination, although personally I shared many of the Matthew’s concerns. However, over the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to hear from many of our bloggers, and by and large they share many of those concerns as well.

Accordingly, on Saturday, April 18th, I informed the administrators at Sasquan that we have withdrawn Black Gate from consideration for the 2015 Hugo Award.

O’Neill also thinks remaining in contention is inconsistent with the staff’s purposes in advocating a “No Award” vote:

Black Gate has, for the past two weeks, been debating the very legitimacy of the current Hugo ballot, and I have been publicly and privately advocating a “No Award” approach to the 2015 Hugo ballot. I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly, that this goes against the spirit of the awards. We can’t both be a part of the ballot, and actively working against it. So we have formally withdrawn Black Gate from consideration for the 2015 awards.

It remains to be seen whether Black Gate will be struck from the ballot. Sasquan previously stated the ballot was locked on April 16