Hugo Nominees Coming April 19

The announcement of the 2014 Hugo and 1939 Retro Hugo nominees will be live-streamed from Glasgow, via Ustream, and broadcast simultaneously at two conventions in the United States on April 19.

  • Satellite 4, the British National Science Fiction Convention (Eastercon), in Glasgow, Scotland (8:30 p.m. BST).
  • Norwescon 37, one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier science fiction and fantasy conventions, in SeaTac, WA (12:30 p.m. PDT)
  • Minicon 49, Minnesota’s longest-running science fiction convention, in Bloomington, MN (2:30 p.m. CDT)

Nominations will also be released category by category via the Loncon 3 Facebook page at www.facebook.com/londonin2014 and the Loncon 3 Twitter feed at twitter.com/Loncon3.

The shortlists will be published through the Loncon 3 website immediately afterwards.

Final Hugo voting will open after the announcement and continue until July 31. The winners of the 1939 Retro Hugos will be announced on Thursday, August 14, and the 2014 Hugos on Sunday, August 17, during Loncon 3.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Art Focus at Loncon 3

The 2014 Worldcon, Loncon 3, will be highlightlighting  science fiction and fantasy art through exhibits, programming, and special events.

Over 2,000 works from nearly 100 artists are expected to be on show, including examples of the best of British illustration from the golden age of the 1970s and 1980s. A 96-page full-color Artist Showcase publication will be available for purchase by members.

Artists confirmed for the show, in addition to Guest of Honour Chris Foss, include Chris Achilleos, Jim Burns, Steve Crisp, Galen Dara, Fred Gambino, John Harris, Chris Moore, Anne Stokes, Anne Sudworth, and Margaret Walty. Click here for the complete list.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Hertz: Beware the Chides of March

By John Hertz: Voting for the 2014 DUFF delegate closes at midnight Pacific Daylight Time, March 31, 2014. Will you have done your part?

To those who already voted, thanks. If you haven’t, it’s not too late.

This year the Down Under Fan Fund sends a fan from North America to Australia – New Zealand. There are two good candidates, Aurora Celeste and Juanita Coulson, each interesting in a different way.

Founded in 1972, DUFF is supported entirely by donations. A donation of at least $5 Australian, Canadian, United States, or $7 New Zealand, goes with your ballot. If you can’t decide or don’t care to, but wish to support the Fund, you can vote No Preference.

A ballot explaining how to vote electronically, with more about DUFF, the candidates’ nominators and platforms, can be found in several places, for example here.

Paper ballots have been circulated too.

As the NA Administrator, I look forward to counting the votes with my ANZ counterpart Bill Wright any minute now.

Oh, and while I’m reminding you of things, this year’s Hugo nominations close at the same date and hour. You can find more here.

Negative Worldcon Bidding in the Internet Age

Fans searching for Beijing in 2016 Worldcon bid information are now likely to come across http://beijing2016.org/. This is the first example I’ve ever seen of a webpage dedicated to slamming a particular Worldcon bid.

Beijing2016’s header art features a smog-shrouded photo of the Forbidden City. Its lead article is an extract about the lack of internet freedom in China from the U.S. Department of State “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013.”

Search engines are led to it by a notice in the lower right corner:

Beijing 2016 Worldcon Bid

Beijing will bid to host the 2016 Worldcon to be a vote in London this year. A Worldcon is a convention of the World Science Fiction Society.

The domain was created in February. A Whois search shows the domain registrant is an anonymizing service with an Australian post office box in Nobby Beach in Queensland.

I wondered if the use of a U.S. government report rather than Australian source material might be a clue to the site’s creator, though perhaps not. No one interested in criticizing China would start with Australia’s official brief on China, a highly conciliatory document.

I also wondered if this site’s reference to the Worldcon bid was a coincidence – whether there might be a string of Beijing-fill-in-the-year domains discouraging China’s convention business. I found other such domains, though not being used for that purpose. The others I researched are little-used and registered by different owners (not anonymizing services, so far as I could tell). It looks like Beijing2016 was specifically tailored to influence the Worldcon race.

Anubis Gates on Stage at Loncon 3

A stage adaptation of Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates will receive its world premiere at Loncon 3, the 2014 Worldcon.

Current Theatrics, a theatre company based in Las Vegas and New York, will bring 15 characters and a 400-page time travel novel to life — ancient Egyptian wizards, modern American magnates, holes in the river of time, Horrabin the Clown’s puppet show, werewolf-like creatures, cheeky urchins, and California literature professors, not to mention famous Romantic poets Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Ashbless.

Formed in 2010 by Ruth Pe Palileo and Thomas Costello of New York, Current Theatrics specializes in travelling theatre, and has previously brought French absurdist classic The Chairs to Las Vegas, seven new Irish plays to Cleveland, and a gender-swapped Merry Wives of Windsor to Pittsburgh. Pe Palileo has previously produced and directed stage adaptations of Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog and Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge.

The Las Vegas-based cast have been in rehearsal since Tim Powers approved the project in December 2013. The six-member cast comprises Erik Amblad, JJ Gatesman, Brandon Oliver Jones, Johnny Miles, Ariana Helaine, and Geo Nikols, all of whom are playing several roles—a task made easier by the novel’s story line, which involves body switching.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Michael Sinclair Passes Away

Louisville fan Michael Sinclair died March 14 after a long decline. His wife of 26 years, Christa Cook-Sinclair and son, Alex, were with him at the end.

Michael Sinclair under attack by Godzilla.

Michael Sinclair under attack by Godzilla.

Sinclair was an avid science fiction reader who got his first taste of fandom at the original RiverCon in 1975, having found out about it from an article in a Louisville paper. That weekend he met John Guidry for the first time – future chair of the 1988 New Orleans Worldcon won in large measure by Sinclair’s efforts as bid party host.

In Sinclair’s fannish memoir at The Thunder Child he claimed to have become involved working conventions as a result of a loc he wrote to File 770 after the 1979 NASFiC:

File 770 (Mike Glyer’s science fiction fan newzine, reporting on fanzines, sf clubs, conventions, fan funds and fanac) [was] whining about something. I think it had to do with [a fan] huckstering out of his hotel room. In any event, I wrote a rebuttal letter to File 770, saying, “The last thing the fannish world needs is either a Con run by or and or/criticized by lawyers.” Cliff Amos saw the letter and called me up to ask if I wanted to work on RiverCon. I said I would like to work on the film program, but would like to have a budget and not depend on library flicks.

Sinclair surely knew the chuckle this would bring from the many friends he made hosting the string of Hurricane-themed bid parties that brought the 1988 Worldcon to New Orleans – a committee chaired by lawyer John Guidry, and with three more lawyers in the leadership.

The New Orleans in 1988 bidders bankrolled the travel of the charismatic Sinclair all over the country to host room parties where he could dispense Southern charm and hospitality, and French Quarter well drinks. He greeted everyone, “Here, have a Hurricane!” and handed them a potent cup of vodka, rum, and fruit juices, mixed with enough grenadine to turn it fire engine red. This was extremely popular.

The Worldcon bidding system is in large measure a test to destruction. Fans want there to be lots of great bid parties anyway, but implicit in that demand is a test of the bid committee’s creative and logistical competence. Unless a group can put together a string of good bid parties, the thinking goes, you can rule out any chance of them coping with the challenge of an actual Worldcon.

So as an audition for a New Orleans Worldcon, Sinclair’s parties led to a ballot box triumph over three competing bids.

However, Sinclair had never intended to be part of running the Worldcon. Once New Orleans won he was done. Ever since then fandom has made sure to ask whether the folks running the impressive parties are the same ones who’ll be running the con.

Say Da to Moscow bid passport.

Say Da to Moscow bid passport.

Before long the Sinclairs found they missed the fun of those bid parties. Casting about for inspiration, Christa and Mike created a “Say Da to Moscow” Worldcon bid. Because their idea germinated in 1989, two years before the Soviet Union fell apart, they didn’t have to worry about winning, only about having a good time. The bid theme was a satirical play on the idioms and symbols of the USSR’s Communist Party.  Led by “Mikhail Sinclair,” Party Theoretician and General Secretary, the bid’s Central Committee included the late Bruce Pelz, Hotel Liaison; Tony Ubelhor, Minister of Propaganda; Maureen Dorris, Minister of Defensive Camouflage; Jack Reed, Chronicler Emeritus; and miscellaneous Party Members and agents.

Bid parties were paid for by the sale of $5 presupports, which came with a convincing looking passport with all kinds of stuff in Cyrillic lettering.

Christa and Mike soon shelved the party scene as their son Alexander came along in 1990.

The family’s memorial plans are still to be made but, as Mike wished, he will be remembered with a wake later this year at Midwestcon.

He Cast In A Line And Pulled Out — A Kraken!

If you want links to posts about resigned Hugo Ceremony MC Jonathan Ross and how his story played out online, Google will give you a list that goes on for pages. The very thought of anyone doing that search reminded me of Howard Waldrop’s headlined quote.

But File 770 having taken on the story, I owe you a few examples of the reaction and the backlash that have followed.

Apologies are always the most unexpected events on the internet. Two have been noteworthy.

John Picacio thought in light of the personal invective tweeted at Jonathan Ross, his daughter and his wife (who has since pulled the plug on her Twitter account) the science fiction field owed them an apology, so he stepped up to offer it:

This note is for you, Mr. Ross, your wife, daughters, and family members that have been hurt by recent events involving the Hugo Awards Emcee reaction….

Because I am a working professional within the sf/f publishing field and an artist who has been fortunate enough to win two Hugos, I am a part of the sf/f community by default, whether I chose to speak out or not, and I regret that I didn’t on Saturday. Thus, just by professional association, I DO have something to do with this community when some of its very vocal professionals make emotionally-loaded and potentially hurtful statements that end up reflecting on our entire community.

Watching fellow professionals attack Mr. Ross on Twitter was disappointing, to say the least. They said that Mr. Ross’ performance behaviors were justification for saying that he wasn’t welcome because those behaviors made some of them feel uncomfortable.

Their comfort levels are their prerogative, as are mine. I have the right to not needlessly demonize or vilify a complete stranger, and assume the worst of that individual. I have the right to not be afraid to speak out and instead ask, “Is it really necessary to allow fear to rule the day and indict someone for behavior toward this event that hasn’t even happened yet?”

Even Seanan McGuire apologized to the daughter for some of what she said –

@HoneyKinny I am genuinely sorry to have caused you pain. I will consider my platform for speaking better the next time I have concerns.

Disgusted by what passed on Twitter, some now seem intent on romanticizing the victimhood of Jonathan Ross, although Ross himself poured gasoline on the fire (tweeting to one critic “absurd. I’ll happily buy the ticket off you and give it someone less stupid.”)

Jo Fletcher, appealing to the better angels of our nature, idealized both Ross and the SF/F community.

What we got was a sudden outpouring of hateful and bullying messages, and not just to the convention committee, but to Jonathan Ross himself: the avowed and passionate SF fan who offered his time and services free of charge to host an awards ceremony for the field he loves.

And now the SFF community is making front pages, and not for the right reasons, for the amazing literature or the outstanding artwork science writers and artists working within the genre are producing, but for the vindictive trolling reaction to something a number of those within the community don’t approve of. Watching the fall-out on Sunday and this morning, I felt ashamed for the community in which I have grown up. I hoped we were better than this.

Two friends sent me the link to Hayley Campbell’s New Statesman piece, “Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction’s self-appointed gatekeepers?” A sentence in Hayley’s lead paragraph began, “The Hugo award is a vaguely dildo-shaped silver rocketship…” So really I was already finished with her post at that point.

Fortunately she also tweeted this Reader’s Digest condensed version

I wrote about the Hugo awards and twitter being a bunch of dicks.

Yes, that about sums it up. Still, I was convinced my friends must have had a good reason for recommending the article and I persisted to the end. The best parts paraphrase Cheryl Morgan’s post on the subject. Nothing wrong with that. But if you choose you can go direct to the source.

Many commenters have complimented Morgan’s post “Ross, the Hugos and the Oscars” for its balanced approach:

So to my mind Ross is a pretty good candidate for a Hugo ceremony host. He’s a genuine fan with a lot of respect for the awards. He’s also got a huge media profile and would have got us lots of press coverage. He has, on the one occasion I know of, engaged respectfully with a minority group that was upset with one of his shows. And hosting award ceremonies is something he has done professionally.

I understand that he had agreed to do the job without pay, which I think says a lot about how he felt about the Hugos.

However, one of the things about intersectionality is that you need to take note of what other people think. Just because you have no problem with someone, it doesn’t mean that everyone else does. You have to listen to what others say, and respect their points of view. So while I would have been happy with Ross as the host, I have to take into account that many other people object very strongly to him because of things he has said or done in the past.

And there’s gold in the comments. Martin Easterbrook, co-chair of the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon, was unexpectedly critical of both the Loncon 3 chairs and the in-house opponents to Ross’ selection:

Firstly I need to point out that in the run up to the Worldcon the committee cannot put their side of the story. Anything they say will contribute to further ill feeling and they are quite correctly staying silent.

I think we have to be clear how we got here. We got here because people on both sides felt that some belief of theirs was more important than fandom. When the problem came to a head they felt it was more important to win than to find a way of resolving the situation for the benefit of fandom as a whole. I don’t think this was entirely conscious but derives from not having had enough contact with people who think differently.

I’ve been one of these people on occasion but perhaps now we are staring into the abyss we should all reconsider.

The one piece of the history that I will quote is that both sides agree there was a critical conversation. Both sides describe it as “X would not listen to any of my arguments”.

As far as I can tell neither side ever once thought of offering the other some kind of compromise or acknowledged that the other had reasonable grounds for their opinion.

The result of all this is a badly broken toy between two sets of squabbling children….

Loncon 3’s Hugo MC Withdraws

I live in the Pacific time zone so I slept through most of his reign, but British TV celebrity Jonathan Ross was Loncon 3′s Hugo Awards Master of Ceremonies for about 7 hours today.

He’s not anymore.

After he was publicly announced one of Loncon 3′s division heads resigned, the internet caught on fire, and Ross abruptly withdrew as host.

Just another day in the Hugo/smof/gender/SFWA continuum.

One of the UK’s biggest names, Ross has 3.6 million Twitter followers and until 2010 was the highest paid television personality in Britain, raking in £6 million per year.

He also has a long record of controversy for his on-air shots at women, including Heather Mills and Gwyneth Paltrow. His phone prank on actor Andrew Sachs, featuring tasteless comments about Sachs’ grand-daughter, led to a 12-week suspension by the BBC.

Ross’ connection to the sf genre? He’s been a comics writer and video game developer. Loncon 3’s press release called him “a champion of science fiction and fantasy in all its forms throughout his career, and is one of the genre’s most vocal enthusiasts.” Ross is married to Hugo winner Jane Goldman, co-author of the screenplay for 2008 Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) award recipient Stardust.

How Loncon 3 co-chairs Steve Cooper and Alice Lawson linked up with Ross wasn’t explained in the press release. Nearly all past Worldcon toastmasters and Hugo MCs have been drawn from the ranks of pro writers with a history of attending Worldcons. On the other hand, Seth MacFarlane and David Letterman have never offered to MC an American Worldcon — fans on this side of the Atlantic might prove just as susceptible to shiny things.

Loncon 3 Exhibits Division head Farah Mendlesohn wrote on her LiveJournal  (in a post since taken private) that she spent all week arguing with co-chairs Steven Cooper and Alice Lawson against Ross’ selection because of his “public abuse of women.” The chairs made it clear this was not something for the committee to decide. Therefore on February 28 she resigned as division head so she could continue to criticize the decision. (For complex reasons she still intends to work as Project Manager for the Exhibit Hall.)

In her resignation, Mendlesohn pointed to Loncon 3’s own anti-harassment policy, saying “It is my firm belief that a person who has publicly harassed, humiliated and expressed prejudice to a wide range of groups in public and live media spaces, including award shows, is not a fit person to take the role of host of the Hugo Awards.”

I’m disappointed that the chairs apparently tried to marginalize instead of acting on Mendlesohn’s criticism. I happen to agree with her. Even a Worldcon chair hypnotized by the idea of putting a shiny international celebrity onstage to host the Hugo ceremony ought to have enough of a survival instinct to understand that when anyone as respected as Mendlesohn says you’re about to step on a landmine – that the division in the sf community will cost a lot more than whatever benefit there is in the celebrity MC.

Seanan McGuire responded to Ross’ selection by loosing a volley of enraged tweets (promptly Storified by that master of disaster, Jim C. Hines) — disbelieving her offer to MC had been turned down in favor of an outsider with his history, and riding an emotional roller-coaster because she could easily visualize Ross cracking fat jokes if she went up to accept another Hugo.

Unlike McGuire I’m at no risk of winning in 2014, but I’d be sensitive to that idea myself.

Charles Stross’ less personalized reason for rejecting Jonathan Ross was that – however he acquired it – Ross has a lot of baggage and would attract the wrong kind of coverage to the Worldcon.

The problem I see is that while fandom is in the process of cleaning house, inviting him — or anyone with a controversial media profile — to be Hugo toastmaster is like rolling out a welcome mat at the Worldcon front door that says “muck-rakers welcome”. There’s a lot of muck to be raked, even before we get into Daily Mail photographers stalking cosplayers: just look at the recent SFWA fracas (plural), the Jim Frenkel/harassment scandal at Tor, and so on.

Worldcon should be safe space for fans, and inviting a high profile media personality who has been targeted by the tabloids is going to cause collateral damage, even if nothing happens, simply by making many fans feel less safe.

So the position of 2014 Hugo Ceremony MC is vacant for the time being. Before Ross withdrew I considered there to be one silver lining in his selection – it meant I wouldn’t have to watch Paul Cornell again. Now that Loncon 3 needs a replacement we may be in for another round of Russian Roulette where he’s concerned.

[Loncon 3's original press release follows the jump.]

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Worldcon Bids Filed for 2016

Both Beijing in 2016 and Kansas City in 2016 filed by the February 15 deadline and will appear on the Worldcon site selection ballot. Loncon 3’s Ben Yalow said their filings will be added to the con’s site selection page.

For a bid to qualify for the ballot it has to provide the following information at least 180 days before the start of the administering Worldcon:

(1) an announcement of intent to bid;

(2) adequate evidence of an agreement with its proposed site’s facilities, such as a conditional contract or a letter of agreement;

(3) the rules under which the Worldcon Committee will operate, including a specification of the term of office of their chief executive officer or officers and the conditions and procedures for the selection and replacement of such officer or officers.

Kansas City’s committee and facilities have been publicized for some time. The Beijing bid was announced in January on a website that gives none of these details and fans have been waiting to see who’s behind the bid and their proposed facilities.

Update 02/19/2014: Filings are posted – link now goes directly to filing page.

Loncon 3 Rates Increase March 1

Loncon 3, the 2014 Worldcon, will raise prices on some memberships March 1.

  • Full Adult Attending membership rates increase from GBP 115 (US$185, Euro 145) to GBP 125 (US$205 / Euro 160).
  • Family membership rates, for two adults and two or more children, increase from GBP 260 (US$430, Euro 330) to GBP 280 (US$470, Euro 360).

Infant, child and Young Adult rates will remain the same.

The committee is also reminding fans that the installment payment plan to help fans to spread the cost of their membership in Loncon 3 closes to new participants on March  1.

The full press release follows the jump.

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