Aliette de Bodard Named Special Guest of WFC 2018

Aliette de Bodard

The World Fantasy Convention 2018 Baltimore has added Special Guest Aliette de Bodard. She joins WFC’s roster of guests along with Michael J. Walsh and Tom Kidd.

Aliette de Bodard is a Nebula, Locus, and BASFA Award winner. Her short stories are often set in an alternate universe based on a fusion of Aztec and Asian cultures. She lives and works in Paris, France. More information about Bodard can be found on her webpage.

The World Fantasy Convention 2018 in Baltimore is a joint effort of The Baltimore Science Fiction Society and the Washington Science Fiction Association. It will be held at the Marriott Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, Nov 1 – 4, 2018.

Attending membership rates are currently $175. Registration options and more information about the World Fantasy Convention 2018 can be found at the con’s website.

Steven Brust’s Fourth Street Fantasy Remarks Generate Heat

Steve Brust opened last weekend’s Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis with a short speech that used the term “safe space” to make an impact – and succeeded, for better or worse. He upset a number of hearers and ignited a controversy that has played out on Facebook and several blogs in the past two days.

Steven Brust posted his text: “My opening remarks at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention”

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is not a safe space. On the contrary, it is a very unsafe space. Of course, it ought to be safe in the sense of everyone feeling physically safe, and in the sense that there should be no unwanted harassment, and it should be free of personal attacks of any kind. But other than that, it is not safe.

Your beliefs about writing, and my beliefs about writing, and what is good, and how to make it good, should be sufficiently challenged to make us uncomfortable.

The interaction of art and politics is getting more and more in our faces. Whether this is good or bad is beside the point (although I think it’s good); it reflects changing social conditions, intensification of conflicts. Anyone who thinks art is independent of social conditions is as hopelessly muddled as someone who thinks there is a direct, simplistic 1:1 correspondence between them.

The result of this is that political understanding, unexamined assumptions, agendas, are very much present in the art we create and thus in the discussions of that art.

If no one feels unsafe, or unthreatened during these discussions, we’re doing them wrong. The same is true in discussing technique, because technique, content, form, attitude toward the creation and role of art, and understanding of society, are all interconnected, and in challenging one, we are liable to find ourselves challenging another….

Scott Lynch delivered the Fourth Street Fantasy board’s closing statement, which was perceived to be, in part, a response to Brust:

We, the board of the 4th Street Fantasy Convention exist to facilitate energetic and even challenging conversation. We want to provide spaces to do so, in both a moderated and unmoderated fashion. At 4th Street, the conversation is intended to spread from our shared spaces to more private spaces where attendees may consent to discuss, discourse, blather or argue about anything on any terms they desire.

We do not prescribe a mindset or an approach for attending 4th Street. We do not demand that anyone be made to endure anything against their will. We want to provide a space in which everyone feels welcome, and everyone respects the welcome we desire to extend. What we do here can be hard, it can be frightening, it can be exhausting. We want to support you in doing it. We want you to know that we take your needs, your comfort, and your sense of safety very seriously. As a friend of the convention said this weekend, “It is difficult to be bold in front of strangers when you don’t feel fundamentally welcome.” We are here to listen to you, we are here to have your backs, and we are doing our damnedest to kindle that fundamental sense of welcome, to sustain it, and to make it grow, in this year and every year to come.

Lydy Nickerson articulated her negative response to Brust’s opening speech in “The Rules: A Memo for Every Man in My Life”. (Click to see the complete post. There are substantial comments there, too.)

At Fourth Street Fantasy Convention, this year, Steven Brust, from the dais, delivered a speech about safety and free speech that made me so angry I had to leave the room. Since then, various people have talked about the issues of safety, harassment, and free speech, often as a response to that situation, but sometimes as a continuation of other conversations. I have some very specific issues with the things Steven said, but I don’t want to write about them at this moment. Instead, I want to address something that comes up over and over in these conversations, and always from men. “What are the rules?” “How can I know how to behave if you won’t clarify what you want?”

Dear men, please do not ask me to provide to you something that I have never had. I cannot provide you the rules. I do not know what they are, and I never have. I have spent my entire life, my personal, professional, educational, social, and romantic life, navigating the complexities of human interaction without rules. There has never been a point at which my exact decibel level was approved, the exact number of square inches of skin I can expose has been acceptable, a precise hairstyle I could wear that would clearly communicate who and what I was. I have spent my entire life being judged by a set of shifting rules.

I have spent my entire life being lied to about what those rules were. If I talk too softly, no one listens, but if I speak more loudly, I am bitchy and dismissed. If I am clear and logical, I am mocked for inadequately mimicking maleness, but if I am emotional, I am mocked for being too feminine and not worth paying attention to. There is no level of dress that does not open me up to either being a prude or a slut.

The penalties for transgressing these ever-shifting “rules” vary. Sometimes, it’s just being unpersoned. Sometimes it is getting a bad job-performance review. Sometimes, it’s unwanted and uncomfortable conversations. Always, at the back of my mind, has been the knowledge that if I girl wrong at the wrong guy, I might be physically assaulted. And if that were to happen, my entire girl-ness would then be on trial. What was I wearing? What did I say? How did I say it? Was it my fault? Oh, yes, some percentage of the population will assert, it was totally my fault. Because I didn’t follow a rule that, you know, doesn’t actually apply all the time, isn’t written down, is entirely contextual, and nobody every told me in the first place.

Rules are a luxury that I have never had. The only way rules have ever applied to me is as a stick to beat me with. They are a shifting landscape of horror. I don’t know if all-male spaces have clear, comfortable rules that everybody knows and the penalties are clear. I rather doubt it, but I don’t know. What I do know is that to be a woman in this culture is to be constantly moving through a space where expectations are variable, and are rigidly enforced on a whim, and can dramatically affect my life.

When we talk about harassment, safety, and safe spaces, stop asking me for rules. You never gave me any, and so I have none to give you. All I can offer you is this shifting, difficult, dangerous, ambiguous space that I live in. If you want to be an ally, if, indeed, you want to be my friend, you must learn to inhabit this uncomfortable space with me. You must accept that there aren’t clear rules where you can know that you are right….

Will Shetterly defended Brust’s use of language: “Ideology makes you confuse the literal and the metaphorical–a bit about the 4th Street Kerfuffle”.

The people who’re upset by Steve’s talk are unable to see that his opening lines are metaphorical:

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is not a safe space. On the contrary, it is a very unsafe space.

And they’re unable to see that his third line is literal:

Of course, it ought to be safe in the sense of everyone feeling physically safe, and in the sense that there should be no unwanted harassment, and it should be free of personal attacks of any kind.

If you think about his statement logically, there’s no reason to interpret the first two lines as saying he wants 4th Street to be a place that’s physically unsafe, and there’s every reason to think his third line means exactly what it says. But humans aren’t logical. To people who think of safe spaces as sacred spaces, any questioning of the idea is taboo. At least one of Steve’s critics insists they do understand metaphor. But if that’s true, why are they upset?

Steve Brust wrote a follow-up on his blog, the end of which reads:

Evidently I was wrong. And, while one can always blame the reader for failing to understand, when enough readers get it wrong, one begins to side-eye the writer.

So let me state clearly and for the record I do not support that kind of atmosphere, I do not want that kind of convention, and I deeply apologize for any pain or fear that was caused by anyone thinking I did mean that.  My fault, not yours.

ETA: It’s worth pointing out that it isn’t just a matter of reading, but that this was a speech, not presented as text, and a speech that, moreover, I deliberately opened with a shocker.  This makes more reasonable the number of people who went past the “physically safe” and “no harassment” parts.  Again, my bad.

Likhain’s Artist Guest of Honour Speech at Continuum 13

Likhain’s artwork above was used by Continuum 13 on t-shirts and the programme book.

[Editor’s introduction: Likhain is a Filipina artist and writer from Manila who now lives in rural Australia with her partner. And she is a 2017 Hugo nominee for Best Fan Artist. The guest of honor speech she gave this weekend at the Australian National Convention is posted here by permission.]

Thank you all for coming; I’m privileged to be here before you today. To begin I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, the traditional custodians and caretakers of the land on which we meet, and to pay my respect to all elders past and present.

Today I’d like to tell you three stories, in the hopes that they speak to you. And this is the first story:

I was sixteen when I learned that I was born to be a villain.

At this point I was a voracious reader of fantasy and science fiction; I’d been scolded several times in class for reading David Eddings instead of taking notes; I’d done the whole “hide novel inside larger textbook” thing. And I was very happy; I had epic stories and interesting characters and amazing worlds to explore. I did not feel any sort of lack.

This began to change on my third — maybe fourth — reread of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I was deep in the third book, I think, reading about the histories of Numenor, with Tolkien’s sonorous phrasing resonating in my mind; these fair and grave lords of men, tall and gray-eyed; the fair elves, with their flawless faces and graceful ways; and my two favorite characters, both surpassingly fair, Eowyn the White Lady of Rohan and Arwen Undomiel the Evenstar.

That time I paused and was struck with the realization that there was no way I could ever be like any of them — not the Numenoreans or elves, not Eowyn or Arwen. I was not one of those who could have joined the Fellowship, or who could have fought with Rohan or Gondor’s armies.

I was on the other side. I was an Easterling. Or I was a Southron, one of the Haradrim. One of the bad guys. The barbarians. One of the nameless, faceless villains in their dark hordes.

It is not only that I was not fair. This went deeper than skin, because it was tied to history, to sociopolitics, to where my country was situated in relation to the rest of the world. To cultural imperialism and language and who got to write stories that would be published and read all over the world. Who got to speak; who got to be heard.

In the books I read, it never was me. I was never one of the heroes. At best I was a sidekick, but most of the time I was an exotic slave or part of the armies of evil. I belonged to the countries that were far away and thus didn’t matter; to places that were uncomprehended and therefore savage and hostile, to cultures defined solely by the oppression or brutality of their people.

I did not stop reading fantasy at this point. I read on, even when Daenerys Targaryen emerged to conquer the lands of Essos and that image of her, pale and silver-haired, elevated above a sea of brown bodies, burned itself into my brain. I tried to believe that these things were coincidences, like my white friends assured me. That they meant nothing to me in the real world. I knew this to be a lie, but I swallowed it so I could keep reading the kinds of books I loved.

I’ll tell you now what it felt like. It was being a beggar outside a feast, nose pressed against the glass, imagining what it must be like to gorge oneself on all that delicious food. It was hunger that would never go away.

It was acceptance that this was how the white West saw me and people like me. It was a sort of cognizance that this was the way that literature, and indeed the rest of the world, worked. And it was, in the end, a kind of resignation. Yes, I was a beggar, but better to be on the outskirts of the feast than to never know that such food existed at all.

Why am I telling you this? I want you to see where I’m coming from. That for me — and for many others — being part of fandom, loving stories of fantasy and science fiction and horror and all the marvelous genres in between, is not a neutral or bloodless act. That this comes with a price more than time or opportunity or money. That some of us pay this price more often or more painfully than others, not by choice but by necessity.

Stories can cause such harm they make one hate one’s skin and people and history; they can justify one’s cruelty to oneself and one’s fellows because you’re all less human, anyway. They can say, with a terrible finality, no. You cannot aspire to respect or dignity, much less heroism. You cannot do great things.

 

My second story is this: I was twenty-four when I learned that my people understood beauty.

I knew very little about my country’s history before the colonizers came. The Philippines was colonized by Spain for three centuries, and during that time the Spanish sought to scour all traces of pre-existing culture from my country. They did a thorough job of it; not much survived, and of what was left most people know very little.

So my history only glanced briefly at what came before the Spanish colonial period. What came before was murky and dark. I have encountered something like that here; the untruth, embedded in so many structures, of terra nullius, where nothing existed before settlers came to birth Australia from this land’s unwilling womb. It’s a prevalent story, and one that’s easy to sell; we started with nothing, we brought civilization here and built this country from the ground up. Look at this arrow of progress.

Because I knew little I grew up with the subconscious belief — and I say subconscious because if you had asked me I would have denied it, for all that it clung to my spine — that my ancestors were primitive savages who knew nothing of literature, or music, or art. That our conquerors had elevated us to a civilized state in exchange for our land, our freedom, and our blood.

Then I went with my partner to an exhibit at Ayala Museum in the Philippines called “Gold of Ancestors”. It featured gold pieces from pre-Hispanic times that had been excavated from all over the Philippines, and it blew everything wide open.

Have you ever stood in the middle of a museum floor, hands pressed to your face, trying not to weep aloud? I have. My assumptions of primitive savagery shattered all around me; the depth of my ignorance hit me like a blow. How could I have thought that my ancestors had no imagination or skill? That they had no artistry or the faintest concept of beauty? How could I have bought into the terrible idea that they were savage? How could I have believed that before, there was nothing? In that exhibit I saw jewelry from the 14th century that was so intricately detailed I couldn’t imagine how anyone could have done it by hand. And yet my people had.

This was where my art truly began. Until this moment I worked on ink drawings inspired by Japanese kimono textiles and Baroque and Rococo styles, heavily flavored with the fairy tale aesthetic of illustrators like Arthur Rackham. I did my art that way because this is what I admired and knew, while being conscious that it wasn’t fully mine. It didn’t emerge out of my roots or history; but that was understood because my culture didn’t have anything of our own that wasn’t externally imposed.

But this– this was something that belonged fully to me and to which I belonged fully. This, too, was a story, because everything in that exhibit was part of a narrative that spoke of artistry where I thought I’d find clumsy handiwork; glorious existence where I’d only known void. This was a story that gave me a foundation I could build upon.

And so I did.

Stories can also heal us. They can close up gaping wounds we don’t even know we bear. They can lift us up and say, Yes. Move forward. Through stories we can reclaim histories that have been stolen from us, even if the theft happened centuries ago. And through that reclamation we can begin to confront the trauma of generations of war and colonization and say: yes, we’ve inherited all this darkness. But we’ve inherited light, too.

 

My third story is not actually a single story, but a multitude of stories. And so I can only tell you about a few of them, and you can discover the others on your own.

Because my third telling is one about stories of revolution. In my country’s history our revolutions have been fueled by stories; I think all momentous changes are, but especially uprisings against entrenched power. Because how can you persuade people to fight against the current balance of power, if not by telling them a story? That the world doesn’t have to be this way; that the world can change.

Towards the end of the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, two people told two stories. One, the artist Juan Luna, painted Spoliarium, which won the highest honor in the Madrid Exposition of 1884. This story told people that Filipinos — indios, barbarians, who didn’t know how to create anything before their colonial masters came to their land — were capable of art that surpassed their colonizers.

The second, the polymath Jose Rizal, wrote two novels: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Rizal was killed for these novels; these stories so inflamed Filipinos and so angered Spanish authorities that their author faced execution by firing squad. When I first read these books I was a grumpy high schooler who didn’t see why these books were so incendiary. (Spoiler alert, except it’s not really a spoiler because there are no good endings in Philippine colonial history–) They both end badly, with the Filipino heroes either dying, being defeated, or being imprisoned in a tortuous rapehouse. The second book does involve an attempt at a revolution, but it fails horribly.

I grew to understand, though, that succeeding in the fictional revolution wasn’t the point. The point was that Rizal held up a mirror to the Philippines of his time, and showed people their true faces. He showed the greed and cruelty of the Spanish friars; he showed the arrogance of the Spanish ruling class; he showed the indifference and incompetence of officials both in the government and in the academe; he showed the injustice of the systems of society, damned if you do and damned if you don’t, you’ll be crushed under the machine; he showed the thousand slow deaths — by madness, by starvation, by bullets, by imprisonment, by suicide — that countless Filipinos died under Spanish rule. He showed the sheer impossibility of continuing to live in that world.

This is why this story fanned the flames of revolution. This story told people the truth, and the sheer force of this truth drove people to act. If this is the world we live in, I will fight until this world changes.

For isn’t that the power of stories, at their core? They change worlds. We’re all here because we recognize that. We have all been transformed and shaped and molded by stories. Stories have saved us. They have made us laugh and weep; they have moved us to the depths of our being; they have driven us to make difficult choices and they have fortified us through our darkest times. For many of us, they have affirmed our existence and our right to live. We here are all children of stories.

And we hold on to this — now, more than ever. These are terrible times for so many people all around the world. In my country over seven thousand people have been killed in the past nine months, all in the name of a war on drugs. You don’t need me to tell you about how terrible Australia is right now for so many, especially refugees, Indigenous people, and homeless people; or the wars and killings and terrorism attacks all over the world, with countless people forced to flee for their lives, or having to try to fight politicians who are determined to legislate them to their deaths.

And it’s hard to think about what we can do in the face of so much darkness and horror. But we can act. For this is the world we live in — fight until it changes.

We can take back the stories. Refute the narrative of hatred and despair. In our actions, in our speech, in our connections with others — we can write our own stories. We can overwrite xenophobia and racism with the truer story, that is compassion and a shared humanity. We can shout back at the blaring tale of hateful patriarchy with our defiant resolve to own our agency. We can drown out bigotry and the countless false stories that seek to divide us from each other with our collective story, that stitched together tale-within-a-tale of a community whose members believe that we are not free until we are all free. We can speak up and speak out for the stories stifled by oppressive structures and imbalances of power; we can say these stories have a right to be heard. We can tell, in our daily lives, the story of the person who planted themselves like a tree by the river of truth and told the overwhelming tide of falseness, “No, you move.”

And going back to my first story — in our fannish space, as creators and fans, we can change the stories that populate our shared worlds of imagination so that they stop exacting such a toll on people’s lives and hearts and do not perpetuate further harm. We can support and nourish stories of reclamation, as with the gold exhibit: to bring people who have been severed from their cultures back to themselves; to center those who have long been shunted off to the margins; to give people who have long been boxed in by toxic narratives the space and freedom to live full lives instead of stereotypes. We can make more space for stories that say: yes! Go and live. Your life matters.

This isn’t about political correctness or diversity quotas or agendas. This is about justice. Because we live in an unjust world, where only certain people are allowed to tell stories — are allowed to even have stories. Shouldn’t we change that? Shouldn’t everyone be given the chance to believe that they, too, can do great things; that they, too, exist, that they matter?

We know how powerful stories can be. We’ve seen the difference they can make, revealing us to ourselves so that we may act upon those illuminated truths. I ask that we fight, we children of story, to change the stories within us and without us. In our homes and communities and societies and in the quiet spaces of our bodies. We cannot let our stories, these stories of our identities and our histories and our roots, fall silent. Silence is death, and stories support and undergird life.

I’m going to end with a surprise fourth story. This is not mine; it’s by Italo Calvino, towards the end of his beautiful book Invisible Cities, where Kublai Khan is speaking out of despair:

Already the Great Khan was leafing through his atlas, over the maps of the cities that menace in nightmares and maledictions…

He said: “It is all useless, if the last landing place can only be the infernal city, and it is there that, in ever-narrowing circles, the current is drawing us.”

And Polo said: “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

That is the core of our work going forward: make them endure, give them space. Hold fast. Uplift our true stories.

Thank you for your time. Maraming salamat po. Mabuhay tayong lahat.

Westercon 70 Completes Its Guest of Honor Slate

Westercon 70, happening in Tempe, AZ from July 1-4, has announced their final five Guests of Honor.

Science GoH Henry Vanderbilt

Henry founded Space Access Society in 1992 and ran the quietly influential annual Space Access Conferences in most of the years since. He is not a rocket scientist, but he can translate reasonably well between rocket scientist and English. (He did manage a bunch of rocket engineers once, but that’s another story.) He first started working for radically cheaper space transportation via fast-turnaround fuel-and-go reusable rockets back in 1986, when that was all strictly SF. He’s a lifelong Fan but he’s nevertheless pleased as hell to see this plot device now doing a genre jump to current-day technothriller. He looks forward to it soon settling down as just another taken-for-granted background element in mainstream contemporary literature.

Fan GoHs Val & Ron Ontell

Val’s 43 years in fandom include chairing the 2011 World Fantasy Convention, the 1986 and 1989 Lunacons in New York and the 2010 Conjecture in San Diego. She’s currently Guest Liaison for many San Diego cons. Ron has served as the President of the New York Science Fiction Society (the Lunarians) and Val was a board member in the 1980s. Both have held committee positions at a variety of local cons, Westercons and Worldcons and are Senior Assistants in the Autograph Area at San Diego Comic-Con. They’ve also run tours in connection with overseas Worldcons since 1987, including Britain (twice), Ireland, Japan, Australia (twice) and, of course, Helsinki in 2017.

Special Media GoHs Bjo and John Trimble, sponsored in part by the United Federation of Phoenix.

John and Bjo met in science fiction fandom and married in 1960. They originated Art Shows at Worldcon and San Diego Comic-Con and Futuristic Fashion Shows at CostumeCon. They chaired Westercon in 1970 and John co-chaired in 1965. They worked together on the original Save Star Trek letter-writing campaign, which is generally credited with allowing a third season to happen. They’re still active in the SCA and wider fandom. They enjoy unusual cheeses, home-brewed dark beer, intelligent conversation and travel anywhere at any time.

[Thanks to Kate Hatcher for the story.]

Andrew Porter’s BookExpo Photo Gallery

Here are more photos from last weekend’s BookExpo in New York taken by Andrew Porter.

Larry Correia, Tony Daniel:

 

Tor Display:

Ian Strock, Joe Berlant:

James Minz, Larry Correia:

Malka Older, Charlie Jane Anders:

Overviews of the displays at the Javits Convention Center:

Mark Yturralde of Mysterious Galaxy, Steve Saffel:

At the Baen Books party:

BookExpo Shrinkage

By Andrew Porter: The most interesting part for me of the Associated Press article “Book industry looks to hold steady in turbulent time” was —

Square footage for the show has shrunk noticeably in recent years and the large gaps on the convention floor at times gave BookExpo the look of an idled factory. Publishers have wondered for years whether the convention was necessary in the Internet Age, when deals once negotiated at BookExpo are now accomplished online.

Having attended from the mid 1970s to now, I’ve seen the convention grow enormously, with extravagant parties and promotional events — parties on paddle wheelers in New Orleans, at Hugh Hefner’s mansion in LA, at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, and the party in DC for The Name of the Rose, held at the Italian Embassy’s estate — among memorable soirees, and then shrink from more than 40,000 attendees to the current ensmalled convention, with exhibits taking a fraction of the space they used to.

There were wide empty places on the exhibit floor that in years past would have had booths shoe-horned in everywhere; empty spaces behind black curtains where nothing was happening; meeting rooms that in previous years would have been on other floors.

Many of the older exhibitors I talked to commented on this shrinking convention, and wondered what the future would bring. The convention has already become a 2-and-a-half day event from 4-5 days previously. It’s rattling around in the Javits Center now, and I wonder whether it could go back to being held in a few large hotels instead. Or back to DC’s Shoreham Hotel, where it was held for decades, with the publishers displaying their wares on card tables in the hotel’s garage.

Here are a few of my photos; I took photos for Baen at their always excellent party.

Robert Gleason autographing for Tor Books:

Charlie Jane Anders autographing:

The exhibit hall:

Larry Correia with the cover of his new novel at the Baen party:

Tony Daniel with the cover of his new novel:

Sir Julius Vogel Awards Photos

Sir Julius Vogel Award set. Photo by Paul Weimer.

Paul Weimer’s DUFF trip took him to Lexicon in New Zealand this weekend, where he shot these photos of the 2017 Sir Julius Vogel Awards presentation.

  • Back row: Dan Rabarts, Lee Murray, Octavia Cade, Keith Smith, Lynelle Howell, Publisher Marie Hodgkinson accepting for Emma Weakley, and AJ Fitzwater
  • Front row: Jean Gilbert, Eileen Mueller, and Lynelle Howell’s daughter dressed as a “Living Sir Julius Vogel Award”.

Here are links to some more good photos in public posts on Facebook:

2018 Westercon Announces Site, Organizational Changes

Westercon 71, the 2018 West Coast Science Fantasy Conference, will be held at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, rather than the originally-announced venue, convention chair Nikki Elbright announced on May 31.

The convention, to be held July 4-8, 2018, will be run in conjunction with Myths and Legends Con 6, as originally announced. This change was part of a reorganization that saw Shiny Garden, the non-profit parent organization of Myths and Legends, assume responsibility for running the 2018 Westercon after the group that originally won the right to host Westercon 71 dissolved.

The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, recent venue of MileHiCon, proved to be more amenable to hosting an event that includes traditional Westercon hospitality and social activities, according to Ebright. In her announcement, Ebright also said that the Westercon 71 web site is being redesigned and will soon have revised information about the venue and convention.

These changes have no effect upon the Westercon 70 in Tempe, Arizona, which will be July 1-4, 2017 at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.

[Thanks to Kevin Standlee for the story.]

Corflu, It Just Sounds Like a Disease

By Milt Stevens: Approximately 40 people attended Corflu 34 at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, California on April 28-30, 2017. Corflu is a convention for people who publish or used to publish fanzines on paper. Yes, paper. If you want to read more about these atavistic characters, you can go to eFanzines.com.

This is the end of the convention.

The banquet. Since most cons no longer have banquets, Corflus have them. The Corflu banquet is in the form of a Sunday brunch, and it includes such traditional items as awards, the guest of honor speech, and other business. The results of the Faan Awards have already been announced.

As you might expect, Corflus don’t handle guest of honorship the way other cons do. We feel we are all worthy of honor, so the name of the goh is picked out of a hat during opening ceremony. The goh is then obligated to give a speech at the banquet. If you really, really don’t want to be goh, you can give the chairman of the con a $20 bribe to have your name removed from the hat. Last year at Chiflu, the chairman , Nigel Rowe, forgot to give himself a bribe and ended up as goh. This year’s guest of honor was Randy Byers who gave a quite well-received talk.

One of the usual items of business at Corflu is the election of the past president of Fan Writers of America (FWA). Fan Writers of America is an organization for people who are doing fan writing, or have done fan writing, or have at least thought about doing fan writing. You might wonder why we would be electing a past president rather than a current president. Well, we’re the sort who don’t like being told what to do, so we never elect a current president to tell us what to do. The past president for 2016 is Pete Young from Thailand.

Another item of business is the choice of a site for next year’s Corflu. The choice for 2018 is Toronto, Canada. In case current international stresses increase, the Toronto Committee will make arrangements to have American fans smuggled across the Canadian border in truckloads of melons.

This is the beginning of the convention.

I thought we might start the convention with opening ceremonies, but Marty Cantor said such things just weren’t done. “Whyzat?” I asked. Marty intoned “TRADITION!!!” and did a funny little dance. It’s hard to argue with a proposition like that.

So we began the con with a panel, “Remembrance of Corflus Past” with Andy Hooper, Jerry Kaufman, and Ted White. Sometimes we get a little bit confused about past, present and future. However, when we can figure out which one is the past we love to reminisce about it. Many and noisy are the sagas of Corflus past. Names like Corflu Chromium and Corflu Titanium make the blood of all trufen run sideways. Names like E Corflu Virus and Chiflu give most fans a rash.

Not long before the end of the convention.

Andy Hooper designed a diabolical trivia contest. There were two teams in the contest, the Slan Boys (Rich Coad, Jerry Kaufman, and myself), and The Winning Team (Sandra Bond, Ted White, and a third person who was a bit too far away for me to recognize.) It’s obviously hubris to name your team The Winning Team, and you know how the gods are about hubris. Of course, they lost. Also, our wildass guesses proved to be luckier than their wildass guesses.

The audience was quite amused by the totally obscure questions and the expressions of indescribable horror they produced on the faces of the panelists.

As an example of an obscure question, “In the softball game at the 1939 Worldcon, what position did Art Widner play?” Of course, we knew who Art Widner was, but fans don’t pay attention to sports. While nobody got the correct answer, Art Widner played catcher in that game.

As an example of a medium grade question, “Of the following articles, which one wasn’t written by Charles Burbee?”

(A) Al Ashley, Successful Novelist
(B) Al Ashley, Indefatigable Gardener
(C) Al Ashley, Elfin Edison
(D) Al Ashley, Galactic Observer

I knew that Al Ashley, Elfin Edison, and Al Ashley, Galactic Observer had been reprinted in A Sense of FAPA and were by Charles Burbee. That gave me a fifty-fifty chance on the other two.

Somewhat after the beginning.

Panel: “Fandom and Us” with Rob Jackson, Karl Lembke, and myself. Are we even in fandom anymore? Does it matter? What the heck is fandom? As a reactionary, I think fandom should be about reading and stuff. It’s the “and stuff” that causes the problem.

Somewhere in the middle.

I think it was nighttime. I could tell because it was dark outside. We were in the con suite. As always, Karl Lembke did a great job with the con suite. After the con, prominent Toronto fan Murray Moore reviewed the con as “The program was good, the cookies were great.” Somebody or possibly several somebodies had donated a case of various wines to the con suite. This was in addition to the homebrew and exotic beers. As the bottles became either half empty or half full, the attendees became either half sober or half inebriated. Funny how things work out that way.

Spike mentioned she was organizing the program for the next World Fantasy Convention. WFC only has two tracks of programming which is a lot more sensible than most cons. Since I’ve organized a few con programs in times past, we talked about doing programs for awhile.

Bill Burns asked me what I thought about Mr. X. I’m not quite sure what I think about Mr. X. I’m one of the few people who regularly writes letters to his fanzine, but I don’t really know anything about him.

I told Michael Dowd I thought he was the most atypical fanzine I had ever encountered. Issues of his fanzine Random Jottings are about the same size as issues of Analog. He has had one issue devoted to Watergate and another devoted to the Samaritans. Several people told me I had a letter of comment in the current issue which Michael was distributing at Corflu. That isn’t really surprising, since I think I write letters to most issues of most fanzines.

After the middle but before the end.

Auctions at Corflus are lively affairs. This year’s auction was heavy on fanzines from the Los Angeles area such as VoM and Shaggy from the forties. The most expensive single item was a hardback anthology The Best From Xero which included material from Dick and Pat Lupoff’s fanzine which sold for $55. Graham Charnock was making bids in the auction while still being in England. Graham was doing it through a laptop carried by Rob Jackson. At Graham’s requests, Rob would move the laptop around so Graham could get a better look at what he of bidding on. At the beginning of this, I described the attendance as “Approximately 40.” Graham was part of the “Approximately.” How should you count someone who is participating in the con from thousands of miles away.

After the beginning but before the middle.

Strawberries. Lots and lots of strawberries. We didn’t pick-up enough room nights, so we had to buy more stuff from the hotel to make up the difference. This took the form of strawberries and chocolate. The chocolate included brownies, and cookies, and candy. With a maximum effort from the entire membership, we were able to consume all of it burp

Probably sometime but maybe not around here.

Panel: “Beyond Numbered Fandoms” with Greg Benford, Sandra Bond, Mike Glyer, and Ted White. The idea of numbered fandoms is based on Arnold Toynbee’s conception of history in his book A Study of History. Toynbee thought a civilization was defined by the universal state and the universal church. With numbered fandoms, the universal state and the universal church are replaced with the Focal Point Fanzine. With the decline of each Focal Point Fanzine, an interregnum begins and fans retreat into the apas (amateur press associations). This model also includes a few barbarian invasions. Strangely enough, this model seemed to work for quite awhile. Then Harlan Ellison proclaimed false seventh fandon, and all fandom was engulfed in guacamole.

Efforts were made to salvage the numbered fandoms model, but they never really worked. There was muttering about a model based on dialectical fanac, but that gave everybody stomach cramps. Some suggested fan history might even be influenced by things outside of fandom such as WWII and the introduction of the hula hoop. Others suggested we might be living in a post modernist fandom where the center was marginalized, the margins were central, and rationalism was the bogey of small minds. Stay tuned for further developments.

Balticon 51 Names Second Special Guest

S. M. Stirling, creator of the Draka, Nantucket (Island in the Sea of Time) and Emberverse (Dies the Fire and The Change) series will attend Balticon 51 as Special Guest.

He has published over 59 books, including novels co-authored with David Drake, Jerry Pournelle, Holly Lisle and James Doohan. Stirling is especially well-known for his tales involving time travel and alternate history, interests shared by author Eric Flint, Balticon 51 GoH, whose health problems will keep him from attending in person.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society said:

We thank him for joining us for the weekend and look forward to his participation on many panels as well as signing opportunity. With the addition of Steven Brust and S.M. Stirling as special guests, and with the telepresence participation of Eric Flint, Balticon has gone about as far as we can to enhance the at con experience of fans at Balticon 51 to compensate for Eric Flint’s sudden travel restrictions. BSFS would like to thank Eric Flint for trying with such great dedication to make it physically to Balticon 51 and to Steven Brust and S.M. Stirling who put aside their own Memorial Day plans to travel so far to enhance the lives of many SF fans.

[Thanks to Dale Arnold for the story.]