Pixel Scroll 5/31/16 Every Bark a Doorway

(1) ATTACKING CREATORS. Devin Faraci at Birth. Movies. Death. lit up the internet with the claim “Fandom Is Broken”.

… Last week the AV Club ran an excellent piece about the nature of modern fan entitlement, and I think it’s fairly even-handed. The piece covers both the reaction to an all-female Ghostbusters reboot but also the hashtag that trended trying to get Elsa a girlfriend in Frozen 2. The author of that piece, Jesse Hasenger, draws a line between the two fan campaigns, rightly saying that whether driven by hate (Ghostbusters) or a desire for inclusion (Frozen 2) both campaigns show the entitlement of modern fan culture. It’s all about demanding what you want out of the story, believing that the story should be tailored to your individual needs, not the expression of the creators….

The old fan entitlement has been soldered onto the ‘customer is always right’ mindset that seems to motivate the people who make Yelp so shitty. I’m spending a dollar here, which makes me the lord and master of all, is the reasoning (I don’t even want to speculate about whether or not modern fans spend their dollars on licensed, legal products – that’s an essay for another weary day). It’s what makes people act like assholes to servers, and somehow it’s become the way ever-growing segments of fans are behaving towards creators. It’s been interesting watching so many people bring up Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the Captain America fracas; one of part of it is that their Jewishness allows angry, petulant fans to throw down a social justice bomb but it also speaks to how modern fans see many modern creators. They’re nobody compared to the ones who invented this stuff. The modern creator is the server, and they should be going back into the kitchen and bringing back a Captain America cooked to their exact specifications, and without any sort of complications or surprises. This is what fans have always wanted, but the idea of being consumers – people who are offering money for services rendered – only reinforces the entitlement.

And so we have these three elements – one old as fandom itself, one rooted in technological advances and one impacted by the corporatization of storytelling – coming together in such a way to truly break fandom. I wish this was the part of the essay where I come to you with a hopeful pep talk about how we can all be better, but I just don’t see a positive solution. If anything, I see things getting worse – creators walling themselves off from fans while corporate masters happily throw vision and storytelling under the bus to appease the people who can get hashtags trending. “You can’t always get what you want” is a sentiment that belongs to another era when it comes to mass storytelling. I recently read Glen Weldon’s excellent The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture and the arc of fandom it sketches out is a profoundly disheartening one, with Batfans morphing from monkish annotators of the character’s fictional history into crusaders harrassing anyone on the internet who sees Batman differently than they do….

(2) THE RISING OF THE DOUGH. More details about the Sons of Anarchy cast payment problems at a Houston convention this past weekend from Official Ava Jade Cosplay: “Space City Comic (Con) – Thousands Swindled, Contracts Broken and Many Still Looking for Answers”:

The previously included statement about the rooms not being paid for has been retracted-  A representative from the staff contacted me and informed me that I was misinformed about the exact situation. There was a mishap regarding the hotel check in. The credit card for the room was for the reservations and not for incidentals. Upon checking in, some cast members had to pay cash for the incidentals, instead of putting their own credit card up, and risking being charged upon checking out.  The cast was NOT charged for their room.  I was informed during the interview, that there was a problem checking in the hotel due to the credit card not being accepted, it later was realized that we should clarify to what extent.   When Mr. Hunnam took his check to the bank to cash it, he found out that the check that was given to him was written from an account that had been CLOSED. This happened to the entire cast. Many of the actors went to the promoters office to demand payment, where the promoter ended up calling the cops because he was “being held hostage”. The cast was in no way held him hostage, but wanted answers and payment.  The panel schedule was completely jacked up, the cast was not given the correct times for photo ops and for panels. The Friday panel was canceled due to the AVI team refusing to allow anyone onstage until they were paid. They were promised payment upfront, instead they weren’t paid and pulled the plug on the event. The cast was all there, waiting to go on. It seems that the event promoter broke the contract not once, but TWICE.

Bleeding Cool wrote a story of its own based on the Official Ava Jade post with the dramatic headline, “Police Called On Cast Of Sons Of Anarchy After They Demanded Space City Comic Con Pay Up”. Houston police were helpful in protecting the convention staff from an irate customer —

Comments from volunteers included this, from Shelley Montrose,

This will be the last Saturday/Sunday that I volunteer at any Comic Convention. I was shouted at more in the 6 hours that I volunteered on Saturday than I was in the entire year last year. Friday was amazing and Saturday in my LAST 2 MINUTES there HPD had to intervene as a grown man came into my face and threatened to “choke me to death, rape me, and burn me like on YouTube.” I decided not to come to my scheduled 8 hour volunteer shift on Sunday. I thought my life was in danger. One of Charlie’s bodyguards ran over to help me before the guy got to me. Honestly, I thought the guy was gonna to hit me. After reading this article I think I understand what happened a little bit better. I can’t even explain how horrible it was the tell people who traveled all the way from England, China, Australia,etc., that the $800-$3000 that they spent on a prepaid ticket will not be honored at the desk at the majority of the sons of anarchy autograph sessions , and that they would have to go to the ATMs on the inside of the convention ( because all the ATMs on the outside of the entrances were broken ) in order to get money to pay cash for any autographs or photo ops they wanted with the celebrities.I personally ended up going to the ATM to help people pay for the prepaid tickets that they purchased for autographs with the celebrities. I won’t even go into how much that puts me back on my budget, including but not limited to my rent, utilities, and food.I was with Charlie Hunnam for almost four hours, and He pulled it together for all of his fans. Anyone that was there saw me standing beside Charlie Hunnam, I was taking pictures of them with him, knows that he was very giving to fans as well as professional. I feel like I did a good job of keeping the fans calm, entertained, and happy until they got to Charlie Hunnam .Ron Perlman was also professional as well. When I left he was still excepting those bogus tickets that people had pre-purchased.

(3) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Speaking of grand theft – Swedish astronomers theorize Planet 9 is a stolen exoplanet.

New research suggests the mysterious and controversial “Planet 9” isn’t an original member of our solar system. According to a new computer simulation developed by astronomers at Lund University in Sweden, the ninth planet is an exoplanet — stolen by the sun from its original host star.

“It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light years away in other solar systems, there’s probably one hiding in our own backyard,” researcher Alexander Mustill said in a news release….


(4) EXCELLENCE IN FILKING. SF Site News reported that nominations have opened for the 2016 Pegasus Awards, given by the Ohio Valley Filk Festival.

pegasus logo

Any member of the worldwide filk community is eligible to win. Past Nominees have hailed from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Singapore as well as the United States.

The nomination and ballot procedure is similar to that of the Hugo, except that one does not need to be a paid member of the convention to nominate or vote. Anyone with an interest in Filking or Filk music can place a nomination and/or vote.

The results are tabulated, the winners determined, and the award is presented at the Pegasus Awards Banquet...

There are currently six Pegasus award categories, including two floating categories that are different each year.

Fans suggested nominees and songs through the Brainstorming Poll, and the results can be seen on these pages:

Ballots must be received by 12:01AM PDT, August 1, 2016, whether cast online or by mail.

(5) BEWARE GAME OF THRONES SPOILER. Here’s something George R.R. Martin revealed at Balticon 50:

According to Vanity Fair, Martin appeared at a convention in Baltimore called Balticon to read aloud to those in attendance a new chapter from his forthcoming book The Winds of Winter. During his time in front of the crowd, the author announced that Brienne of Tarth is the descendant of Ser Duncan the Tall.

For those who don’t know, Ser Duncan the Tall is one of Westeros’ most famous knights, making this connection with Brienne particularly noteworthy, especially when considering he’s one of Martin’s favorite characters.

(6) MORE SHOOTING. ScienceFiction.com says “’Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Gets Planned Reshoots After Disney’s Rumored Unhappiness”.

Many films that are destined for the big screen get re-shoots or planned production times after an initial cut of the film has been done where the crews can go back and shoot additional or replacement footage for certain scenes.  It’s a fairly common practice, although the re-shot and re-edited scenes are usually minimal in nature, comparative to the overall plot of the film.  Rumor has it, however, that the upcoming Star Wars spinoff, ‘Rogue One,’ has heavy reshoots planned by parent company Disney, who is unhappy with how the film has fared so far with test audiences.

There has only been one trailer released so far for the film, which was actually met with great enthusiasm from the fans.  However, a cool-looking trailer does not directly equate to a successful and well-received film — look no further than this very franchise’s ‘Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ for evidence of such.

(7) WHO BLABBED? Cora Buhlert shares Cap’s secret with us:

(8) SFWA YA JURORS. “Andre Norton Award Jury Announced” at the SFWA Blog.  

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announce the members of the jury for the 2016 Andre Norton Award. Throughout the coming year, the jury will be compiling its list of picks for the Norton Award. This year for the first time, SFWA will release a Norton Honor list of the top 15-20 books compiled from member votes and jury picks.

Chair Ellen Klages says, “Speculative fiction is a literature about exploration, possibilities, and dreams. The Andre Norton Award honors the best SF/F works written for the people who will create the future — children and young adults. What they read today will influence them — and the world — for decades to come.”

The jury members are: Ellen Klages (jury chair), E.C. Myers, Fran Wilde, Leah Bobet, and Jei D. Marcade. Read their bios at the linked post.

(9) SFWA SFWA. Cat Rambo notes anyone can watch the SFWA Chat Hour, 1st edition, on YouTube, “complete with annoying echo that we will fix next time.”

Come hear Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) officials and staff Cat Rambo, M.C.A. Hogarth, and Kate Baker talk about the recent Nebula conference weekend, current SFWA efforts, and what’s coming in 2016 in the first episode of the biweekly SFWA Chat Hour.



  • Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, known to the world for other things but to fans for Howard the Duck and Back to the Future.

(11) BUTLER CONFERENCE. UC San Diego will be the site of “Shaping Change: Remembering Octavia E. Butler Through Archives, Art, and Worldmaking”, a conference from June 3-5 that is open to the public.

Shaping change

50 years from now, how have we shaped change (through art, activism, and archives) in the world? What have we left behind that that we can draw from our presents and pasts? What lessons in Butler’s life and writing will help forestall what seems like the inevitable collapse of human civilization?

Organized by Shelley Streeby (UC San Diego) and Ayana Jamieson (founder, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network), the event will feature talks from: Adrienne Maree Brown, Aimee Bahng, Alexis Lothian, M. Asli Dukan, Ayana Jamieson, Krista Franklin, Lisa Bolekaja, Melanie West, Moya Bailey, Nisi Shawl, Ola Ronke, Rasheedah Phillips, Shelley Streeby, Sophia Echavarria, Ted Chiang, and Walidah Imarisha.

(12) MEETING ABOUT MEDUSA. Steven Baxter and Alastair Reynolds will speak at Foyles Bookshop in Charing Cross Road (tickets required) on June 4.

Foyles talk

Join us for a conversation with two leading figures in science fiction, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, as they discuss their new collaboration The Medusa Chronicles. Inspired by the classic Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘A Meeting with Medusa’, The Medusa Chronicles continues the story of Commander Howard Falcon over centuries of space-exploration. One of the most compelling novels of either author’s career, it combines moments of incredible action with an intricately-realised depiction of an expansive universe.

Stephen Baxter is the author of more than forty novels, including the Sunday Times bestselling Long Earth series, co-authored with Sir Terry Pratchett, and the acclaimed Time’s Eye trilogy, co-authored with Sir Arthur C. Clarke. He has won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton.

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St Andrews universities, has a Ph.D. in astronomy and worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency before becoming a full-time writer. An award-winning as well as bestselling writer, with more than thirteen published novels to his name, Locus described him as ‘the most exciting space opera writer working today’.

Together, Reynolds and Baxter will talk about Clarke’s influence on their own writing, the themes that underpin his work, and how they were inspired to continue his story, as well as their bodies of work as a whole. This will be followed by an opportunity for the audience to ask their own questions and a book signing.

This event is in association with The Arthur C. Clarke Award and SFX.

(13) BYO LIFE ON MARS. SpaceReview.com sifts its favorite ideas from the many conferences about human expeditions to the red planet, in “A Year on Mars”.

How many humans on Mars conferences do we need in a year? That thought came to mind during the recent Humans to Mars (H2M) Summit in Washington, DC. There are a lot of them, especially in Washington. There were at least six humans-to-Mars related public events in Washington in 2015, not counting the NASA-sponsored human Mars landing site selection workshop in Houston. Now 2016 is shaping up the same way. Last Tuesday following the H2M conference, the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning DC-based think-tank, held a talk “Beyond the Moon: What will it take to get astronauts on Mars?” The Mars Society was in Washington last August and will be back in September, and there will probably be at least one or two other Mars-related meetings or lectures that will happen later this year. And not everything is happening in Washington: the same week as the H2M conference there were a series of talks on Mars at the International Space Development Conference in Puerto Rico.

Some, but not all, of this attention to the humans to Mars subject is due to the success of the movie The Martian and the book that inspired it. But the subject is also culturally bigger than that: witness the attention that Mars One got last year, both positive and negative, and NASA pushing the theme hard as well (every time somebody uses the hashtag #JourneyToMars an angel gets its wings.) Human missions to Mars, or at least talking about humans on Mars, is all the rage these days, and H2M has made a pretty impressive effort at taking the lead.

H2M seems to have upped its game recently. Their website is slick, featuring computer animations and links to video recordings of most of the presentations at their conference, much of which was live-streamed….

(14) ATTENTION ANN LECKIE. “Tea in space” might be a highly scientific idea. Scientists say it could be used to create useful materials for astronauts visiting Mars.

Former Prime Minister William Gladstone said: ‘If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.’

It may also one day help astronauts on Mars.

The humble cup of tea holds the key to new ‘wonder materials’, new research suggests.

The bacteria found in tea could lead to breakthroughs in water filtration and technology.

(15) THIS IS STRANGE. An sf novel hidden in Reddit posts? The BBC interviewed the anonymous author.

The plot ranges across the CIA, hallucinogenic drugs, humpback whales, Nazis and the death of Michael Jackson. But just as mysterious and intriguing is the way in which what is being dubbed ‘The Interface Series’ is emerging into the world.

If you watched the TV-series Lost, you’ll probably be familiar with that feeling of confused anticipation as you hope for several threads of narrative to tie together. Over the course of this month, a new kind of mystery, for a new kind of audience, has been unfolding on Reddit – the online bulletin board where people post articles and comments on threads about a bewildering range of subjects….

The posts appeared in threads about a bizarre range of seemingly unconnected topics including: a debate about whether pirates really did have parrots, the responses to somebody seeking advice about how to help a relative with a drugs problem and the comments under a video of a cat sliding down stairs.

But these weren’t just random nonsensical rants. There is a theme that ties them all together; ‘The Flesh Interfaces’ which seem to be “portals of some kind, made of thousands of dead bodies, which transport biological matter to some unknown place and returns it inside a fleshy sack, heavily dosed with LSD.”

(16) DAILY TRIVIA. George R.R. Martin, wrote 14 episodes of the Beauty and the Beast TV series, which ran from 1987-90.

(17) JOHNSON TRIBUTE VIDEO. See part one of the George Clayton Johnson Memorial held at the Egyptian on February 26.

[Thanks to Wendy Gale, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Cat Rambo, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Arifel.]

To Say Nothing of the Dogs; or, How We Confound the Hugos’ Third Slump (Hugo voting proposal discussion 5)

By Jameson Quinn: After 1, 2, 3, 4 threads here, and countless more that are peripherally related and/or on other blogs, discussing how to make the Hugo nomination process more resistant to slate voting and other “griefer” attacks (in other words, protect them from those intent on using the rules to disrupt and provoke), I believe a logical way forward is becoming evident. Below, I outline a set of proposals that could be made and passed at the Business Meeting.

If you count every separate idea below, there are 5 new proposals. That’s a lot. Personally, I support all of them. But I realize that it’s unlikely that the business meeting will pass all 5. That’s why these proposals are designed to be as modular as possible. Sure, they could all be passed together and would work to reinforce each other; but in most cases each one would also be a sensible step forward if passed alone.

Following that, I will answer some obvious questions that these proposals bring up, in FAQ format.

At the end of this post, I’ll present a rough draft of how these proposals might be formalized. This is for illustration purposes only. In the case of 3SV, there is a group of current and future Worldcon Chairs and Hugo Administrators working on formal language, and I expect they’ll do a much better job than I have. But I needed to present an illustrative version of 3SV to make sense of the extra proposals that would modify it.

I will also have some things to say in the comment thread that shouldn’t be here in the main post.

Overall plan outline:

  1. Pass EPH this year. This should at least keep a slate from sweeping any category. (As for 4/6, it is not as important. I personally would support amending it to 5/6 passing it; but the plan does not hinge on this.) Also, remove the 5% threshold this year.
    1. Present a proposal for EPH+, a technical enhancement to the EPH vote-counting system which is projected to give slates about one fewer finalist per category in circumstances like the current ones.
  2. Create a “base 3SV” proposal, which inserts a new qualification ballot between the current nominating and final ballots.
    1. The Hugo Committee would publish a “longlist” of the top 12 or 15 works in each category from the nominating ballot without specifying their voting totals or the order in which they finished.
    2. A second round of voting would then be conducted in which members of the current Worldcon can “preemptively no-award” any of the works on the longlist.
    3. Longlisted works which are rejected by a majority of the voters AND by an absolute minimum number of voters would be excluded from consideration for the final ballot. (The absolute minimum would be a substantial number – potentially 20% of all eligible members – to ensure that a slate-voting minority cannot hijack this round of voting).
    4. The final ballot would then proceed as at present, with finalists being the highest ranked candidates from the nominating (first round) ballot who were not excluded by the subsequent qualification vote.
  3. Create several additional proposals, intended primarily to modify or go alongside the base 3SV proposal above:
    1. First, a “mercy panel”, established by the prior year’s Worldcon, with the power, by unanimous vote, to “spare” any longlist work(s) from the 3SV voting round. Works so “spared” would be able to become finalists without possibility of second-round rejection, but would of course still be subject to being voted below “no award” in the final round.
    2. Second, a “+2 against trolls”  (Hat tip) round of voting, simultaneous with the 3SV round. This would allow any eligible first-round voter to add nominations for 2 works per category, that they had not already nominated, from the longlist. These nominations would be counted in determining the finalists, just as if they had been made in round 1. (Note: most of the discussion on this point has been made on the “+1” version of it; it was first proposed in combination with 3SV as “3SV+1”. But passing +2 this year would allow us to amend that to +1 next year, while the reverse is not true; so +2 is the best way to keep our options open.)
    3. (Note: this is a new proposal which has not been discussed in the prior threads, and as such, it is far more tentative than the rest) Third, a “extend finalists” option in the 3SV voting, whereby voters may choose for each work between the options “Reject”, “Accept with extension”, “Accept”, and “Abstain”. If one or more works that had gotten more than a certain threshold of combined “Reject” and “Accept with extension” votes became a finalist, the target number of finalists in that category would be increased by 1 for each such work, up to a maximum target of 7 finalists. As with rejection votes, the totals for “Accept with extension” votes would be published after the Hugos were awarded, but the names of specific works would be anonymized, to make it clear that the judgment of “Accept with extension” has to do with voting process and not with the quality of a work itself
  4. (optional) Discuss the possibility of a proposal to go back and fix the no-awarded categories from this year and last year using retro Hugos. I do not believe that a proposal to do this should be made this year; the Business Meeting will be plenty busy enough without it. But I think it’s a good idea to begin this discussion and have a proposal like this ready for 2017 or 2018.


Overall structure

Q. You say that a way forward is becoming evident. In whose view?

A. Many of the aspects of the plan I’ve outlined have been arrived at collaboratively and have drawn more-or-less broad consensus in the relevant discussion threads (linked at the top of this post). It’s true that other aspects more clearly come from one person: me, Jameson Quinn. But the proposal drafts above are not the end of the road; please comment below, and we will continue to work on them (including discarding ideas, if appropriate).In this thread, even if you have no new arguments to add, it is useful to just say just “I like this part” and/or “I don’t like that part.” Of course, if you’re going to say one of those, please do read through this FAQ, as your concerns may be addressed already.

Q. We can’t make any actual decisions until the Business Meeting, and many people who will be there aren’t even paying attention yet. So why have this discussion now?

A. There is no question that the Business Meeting has the final word. We’re not trying to take over the decision process here, just to smooth the way. That is: the point of the discussion now is to refine the proposals, clarify their advantages and disadvantages, and get consensus on the points that become obvious through that process.

Q. Is this set of proposals too complicated to even work as designed? (joke youtube link)

A. I have several things to say to that. First off, you’re right, they are somewhat complicated; but I’d argue that well-designed voting systems, while they should avoid senseless intricacy, can reasonably be a bit involved. Secondly, each of the the three main parts of this — EPH/EPH+, 3SV, and +2 against trolls, — could stand on its own, helping solve some aspects of the current situation even if the other parts were not present. This partial redundancy means the whole is more robust, not more fragile, than any of the parts.

Q. Are these proposals worth the extra complexity they add?

A. I’ll address this question for each proposal separately. But more generally, it depends on what problem(s) you’re trying to solve. See the next question for more on that.

Q. Out of the 5 new proposals here (plus EPH), what is the least we could do that would address the problem?

A. That depends what you mean by “the problem”. You might think it’s:

  1. Slate sweeps (that is, the possibility that all the Hugo finalists in one or more categories come from a slate) In this case the minimal solution is to Pass EPH. See my paper with Bruce for more details.
  2. Slates nominating works that are intended to defame, harass, offend, or otherwise discredit the Hugos? In this case the minimal solution is to Pass 3SV.
    1. How could we solve the above without causing undue negativity? In this case the minimal solution is to may be 3SV, if social norms are enough to prevent campaigns to reject good-faith works. If not, adding on the Mercy Panel would help.
  3. Multiple categories without a choice between at least 2 organic (non-slate) works: In this case the minimal solution is to Pass EPH+. If you do not like EPH+, then you could get a similar result with a combination of EPH, 3SV and “+2 (or +1) against trolls”.
    1. If you think the problem is even 1 category without such a choice, then the minimal solution with enough of a safety margin is probably combining EPH+ and 3SV+2 (that is, both of the possible solutions just above).
  4. Slates acting as “kingmakers” (that is, supporting some works which already have organic support, merely in order to deny others the chance of becoming finalists)? In this case the minimal solution is either EPH+, 3SV, and +2 (or +1) against trolls; or, alternatively, EPH, 3SV, and extend finalists. For the greatest possible strength against kingmakers, therefore, you’d combine EPH+, 3SV, +2 (or +1) aganst trolls, and extend finalists.
  5. All of the above: to solve all the problems above, you’d probably need all the proposals.

Q. Even if you consolidated all of this, it would still be at least 2 and probably 3 different proposals. Do you really expect all of that to pass through the BM?

A. Well, it’s not impossible. But frankly, no, I wouldn’t expect all of this to pass. But I still think it’s worth comprehensively laying out all the different problems and what it would take to fix them all, so that we can make this decision with our eyes open.

Q. Isn’t there a simpler way? Have you looked for one?

A. We have looked for one, and I believe the proposals above are the best of what we’ve considered. Others may disagree. For now, this FAQ is just a starting point for more discussion.

Q. OK, enough beating around the bush. What do you actually hope passes?

A. I’d like all of it to pass. But I’d be pretty satisfied with EPH+, 3SV, and +1 against trolls. I’m not attached to the mercy panel or extended finalists.

EPH and EPH+

Q. Is EPH+ worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. I think it clearly is; but then again, I (Jameson) may not be the best person to answer this question. The advantages of EPH+ are clear; it helps ensure more of the finalists are determined by organic voters. As for the disadvantages and/or complexity: since I live and breathe voting theory, it actually doesn’t seem any more complex than EPH to me. Though I realize that is probably not true for other people, it’s hard for me to judge how much of a problem that is.

Q. This is complicated. Where can I read more about why it was proposed?

A. Start with Bruce Schneier’s post. If you’re up for some academic jargon, you can supplement that with our paper. Finally, read this post from the previous thread in which I try to explain the reasons for EPH+ in plain language.

 Q. Is EPH or EPH+ still needed if we have 3SV, or if we have 3SV along with some of the related options?

A. I believe that at least EPH is still necessary to prevent a slate from taking over the longlist. Beyond that, see my answer to the “what is the least we can do” question.

Q. I want to look at lots of graphs!

A. I have a bunch. (more to follow on this, in the discussion.)

3SV base

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. I believe it definitely is. If we want keep offensive and/or harassing works from becoming finalists, we need to empower somebody to do that. And fandom is too broad to entrust that power to a small group, so we need some proposal similar to 3SV. Obviously, we could write the proposal differently, but I believe the version above is a reasonable starting point and sticks to the essentials.

Q. Why 3SV (voting to eliminate finalists) and not just a second round of positive “semi-final” voting to decide finalists?

A. Several reasons:

  1. A semi-final ballot would give voters just a few weeks to assimilate and vote on an extended list of longlisted items. Many of the most careful nominators would barely vote for any; while the most prolific voters would probably be going mostly by kneejerk reactions. This is somewhat true for 3SV, too, but it is less of an issue as explained below.
  2. A semi-final ballot conflates two questions: “Do I like this work and feel it may deserve a Hugo?” with “Do I feel that this work’s presence on the longlist or in the list of finalists would be a legitimate result of honest fan preference?”. In 3SV, those questions are separate, and votes to disqualify a work are based on the second question alone — one which does not require fully reading/reviewing every longlist work.
  3. Unlike a semi-final ballot, 3SV deals decisively with the issue of “troll finalists”: that is, works promoted by slates explicitly in order that their shocking and/or offensive nature might cast discredit on the awards.
  4. 3SV would be similar in spirit to the “no award” option which is already enshrined in the constitution, except that works thus eliminated would not take up space on the list of finalists, and awkward moments at the awards themselves would be minimized.
  5. A semi-final ballot opens up new kinds of attacks on the list of finalists, such as actually increasing slate voter’s capacity to act as “kingmakers” and/or perform “area defense” against certain kinds of works. All they’d have to do was to have enough voting power to reverse the gap between two works which both have significant organic (non-slate) support. But under 3SV, actually eliminating a work would not be possible without a relatively high “quorum”* of voters, and we hope that community pressure would lead to a low background level of organic rejection votes, so a minority of slate voters would be unable to use rejection as a weapon.

Q. Wouldn’t this lead to constant campaigns to eliminate works people just happen not to like, and thereby to hurt feelings?

A. There are several safeguards against this. First and most important is social pressure; it should be clear from the outset that this is a just safeguard against outright bad faith, not a chance to express differences in taste, and I believe that any Worldcon members who promote disqualifying a work just because they don’t like it will not get much support. Second, there’s eligibility. Various rules, discussed below in “open issues”, have been proposed to prevent a campaign to bring in Worldcon outsiders after the longlist is public. Third, there’s the quorum; if participation in the second-round voting is low, it will not be enough to pass the threshold to eliminate any work. Fourth, there’s the relatively short period of the semifinals, also discussed below. And fifth, there’s the possibility that (under some versions of this proposal) elimination votes for a specific work would never be publicized; only anonymized distributions of votes for each category. (In some cases, of course, the identity of which work got a certain vote total would be easy to guess, but that would still be just a guess.)
See also the Mercy Panel FAQs below.

Mercy panel

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. That’s up to the Business Meeting to decide.Multiple people have expressed concern with 3SV, calling it too negative, and worrying how possible “rejection campaigns” would feel to the authors in question. This proposal would remove the possibility of such campaigns in clear-cut cases, reserving the power of 3SV for the edge cases which need it.It would also simplify the task of voting in round 2. This is a case where a little extra complexity in the rules actually simplifies life for the majority.

Q. Would this proposal let the panel keep something from becoming a finalist? That sounds like a bad idea!

A. No! The only power this panel would have would be to allow the nominations (from round 1 and possibly the “+2 against trolls” round) to stand. In other words, the panel can be a “good cop” by letting a work with strong support become a finalist without passing through a rejection vote, but could not be a “bad cop” by preventing it from becoming a finalist. The only group who could keep something from being a finalist would be the voters at large; exactly the same group that currently has the power to rank something below “no award”.

Q. Would this be too much power to give to a small group?

A. I think not. The only power this panel would have would be to exempt a work from the 3SV process. Even if they overstepped that power, we’d be no worse off than we are currently. In particular, the voters as a whole would still be able to put an offending work below “no award”.

Q. Wouldn’t this just be painting a target on the individuals on the panel, setting them up for harassment?

A. To a certain degree, the answer is yes; if you can’t handle people on the internet saying mean things about you, you probably shouldn’t be on this panel. But I don’t think this is a good reason not to have such a panel. Here’s my reasoning:

First off, there are manifestly people in fandom who can handle being a target, whether it’s because they bear it as a negative, because they actually enjoy the battle, or because they are such towering figures as to be beyond good and evil. I believe that there is a subset of these people who have earned fandom’s trust and could well serve as “your mercy”.

Secondly, I think that a “mercy panel” is designed to minimize such targeting. The question they’re answering is not the fundamentally controversial one, “does this work deserve to be kept from being a finalist?”, but rather, “are there reasonable questions about whether this work should be kept from being a finalist?”. It is at least possible to believe the answer to the first question is an emphatic “no”, and still accept that the answer to the second may be “yes”.

Finally, the fact is, haters gonna hate. There is really nothing we can do to prevent some people from becoming targets in this mess. With a panel, at least the targets will be people who’ve signed up for the job.

+2 against trolls

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. I feel that it is. Because there are so many eligible works each year, many people nominate without naming even one thing that has any chance of becoming a finalist. This would focus attention on a list of 15 strong works, and give nominators some extra time to review these and add one or two that deserve it. The resulting finalists will have been reviewed by more fans, will have won more support, and thus will almost certainly be higher-quality overall. The fact that this proposal helps resist slate voting is almost just a side-effect.

Q. Why not let people add as many nominations as they want?

A. The 3SV voting round, when +2 is happening, should go by relatively quickly. Voters have limited attention to devote to this issue. Asking them to look at the longlist, do whatever extra reading/watching is necessary, and pick one or two extra nominations per category is probably the limit of what they can do without cutting corners.
Slate voters, on the other hand, are all about cutting corners. They can easily decide to add as many extra nominations as they’re allowed to.

EPH or EPH+ both make the story a little bit more complex, because it’s no longer optimal to add too many extra nominations. Still, there are some cases where adding more than 2 nominations could be a smart move for a slate. Why give slate voters that freedom, even if the cases where it helps them are rare?

Q. OK, so why not allow just +1 instead of +2?

A. That may well be the best course. But if we pass a +2 proposal this year, then changing it to +1 next year during ratification is a valid “lesser change”. So +2 keeps our reasonable options open. (For instance: what if we decide it should be +2 for Best Short Story, but +1 for all other categories? With all the proposals to look at this year, it’s probably not worth getting into details like that now; but next year, things may be clearer.)

Extend finalists

Q. What’s the idea here?

A. This proposal helps 3SV deal with the issue of “hostage” or “kingmaker” works, which have clear merit of their own but which have evidence of mindless support from slate voters. For instance, this year (2016), Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves was supported by a slate and became a finalist. He’s had several books nominated for Hugos, and several that weren’t; without the slate support, it’s impossible to be perfectly sure whether Seveneves would have made it. This option would allow works in this situation to become finalists, as the slate support was not the author’s fault; but to do so without pushing any other work off the list of finalists, because the list would just expand.

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. Perhaps; it’s worth at least considering, though for simplicity in the business meeting it may be better to fold it into 3SV rather than taking it up separately. This proposal helps 3SV deal with the issue of “hostage” or “kingmaker” works, where a slate throws support behind things that have clear merit of their own, so that those things gets some votes from people who read them and some from people who didn’t.

Q. Would this make authors feel bad?

A. It shouldn’t. A vote of “accept with extension” is in no way a judgement on the work itself, just a judgement that there is reason to doubt the motive of some significant fracion of the work’s supporters.

Proposal Texts (rough drafts, for discussion purposes only):

A proposal for 3SV is currently being prepared by a group of highly experienced Worldcon runners led by Colin Harris (2005 Worldcon Chair) and also including former Worldcon Chairs Kevin Standlee and Vince Docherty and former NASFiC Chair Warren Buff. They expect to have a draft proposal published within two weeks (by 12 June), and if this were just about 3SV, I would rather have waited for them and not written something myself. But the other proposals following 3SV relate to it closely. So in order to write those other proposals in a form clear enough for further discussion, I needed to first write an illustrative text for a 3SV proposal.


Moved, to amend Section 3.A.1 (1) of the E Pluribus Hugo proposal, as follows:

(1) Calculation Phase: First, the total number of nominations (the number of ballots on which each nominee appears) from all eligible ballots shall be tallied for each remaining nominee. Next, a single “point” shall be assigned to each nomination ballot. That point shall be divided equally among all remaining nominees on that ballot. each nomination ballot shall give a point or fraction thereof to each remaining nominee on that ballot, according to the number of such remaining nominees, using the following pattern: 1 point for 1 remaining nominee, 1/3 of a point each for 2 remaining nominees, 1/5 of a point each for 3 remaining nominees, 1/7 of a point each for 4 remaining nominees, and 1/9 of a point each for 5 remaining nominees (extending this pattern as needed if a ballot legally has more remaining nominees).  Finally, all points from all nomination ballots shall be totaled for each nominee in that category. These two numbers, point total and number of nominations, shall be used in the Selection and Elimination Phases.

3SV base (for reference only; to be superseded by the text from Colin Harris’s group)

Moved, to amend Section 3.7.1 (Tallying of Nominations), Section 3.9 (Notification and Acceptance), and Section 3.11.4 (Tallying of Votes) as follows:

Section 3.7: Nominations.

3.7.1: The Worldcon Committee shall conduct a poll to select begin the process of selecting the nominees finalists for the final Award voting. Each member of the administering Worldcon, the immediately preceding Worldcon, or the immediately following Worldcon as of January 31 of the current calendar year shall be allowed to make up to five (5) equally weighted nominations in every category.

Insert new sections 3.B and 3.C after section 3.8 and, if appropriate, 3.A from the E Pluribus Hugo proposal.

Section 3.B: Longlist publication.

3.B.1: In each category, the “longlist” shall consist of the top 15 nominees, as selected by the process detailed in section 3.8 [if EPH has passed] and section 3.A[end conditional]), but changing the number of desired nominees to 15 as appropriate. Any numbers involving limits on individual ballots shall not be changed.

3.B.2: In order to foment quick and accurate publication of each category’s longlist, the Worldcon Committee may exercise reasonable discretion in increasing the number of nominees on the longlist up to a maximum size of 18 nominees. Possible examples of situations that would call for such discretion are given in sections 3.B.3.1 and 3.B.3.2 below:

3.B.2.1: If eligibility cannot be quickly determined for a nominees, but it is thought to be ineligible, both it and an extra nominee may be included in case it is not eligible.

3.B.2.2: If the 15th-place nominee is nearly tied with the 16th-place one, and it is thought that a recount might show that their proper positions had been reversed, both may be included.

3.B.3: The names of the nominees on each category’s longlist, but not their order or vote totals, shall be made public with all due haste after the nominations poll is closed.

3.B.3.1 “Made public” means that the information should be conveyed to all eligible voters through some direct, personal means such as email and/asor postal mail, and also made generally accessible in some medium or media such as a web page.

3.B.4: Nominees on the longlist shall not be referred to as “semifinalists” or otherwise given any honorary status unless and until they have passed the eligibility voting described in section 3.C without elimination.

Section 3.C: Nominee eligibility voting.

3.C.1: After the longlist is published, each member of the administering Worldcon who had been eligible to vote in the nominations poll as described in 3.7.1 may vote on the eligibility of the longlist members.

3.C.2: At the discretion of the Worldcon committee, and with reasonable prior notice, the set of persons eligible to vote on nominee eligibility may be frozen before the close of voting, in order to ease calculation of the vote thresholds in 3.C.7 below.

3.C.3: The ballot for this round of voting shall present the voter with the following options for each longlist nominee: “Accept”, “Reject”, and “Abstain”.

3.C.4: Any voter who does not submit a ballot will be considered to have voted “Abstain” on all nominees.

3.C.5: Any voter who does submit a ballot but does not explicitly choose one of the three options for a given nominee will be considered to have voted “Accept” on that nominee. This default choice should be made clear on the ballot insofar as practical.

3.C.6: Postal mail ballots should be accepted insofar as it is practical given the schedule, but the Worldcon committee may if it chooses schedule this voting round in such a way that some members may not have ample time to submit such physical ballots.

3.C.7: A nominee shall be eliminated and considered ineligible if it meets the following two criteria: the number of “Reject” votes it receives is greater than 20% of the pool of voters eligible under 3.C.1 and 3.C.2; and the number of “Reject” votes it receives is also greater than the number of “Accept” votes it receives.

3.C.6: At the end of this voting round, the 5 finalists shall be chosen as follows:

3.C.6.1 The process described in section 3.8 [if EPH has passed]and section 3.A[end conditional] shall be used to put the entire set of nominees (eligible or not) in as strict an order as possible (that is, if the process is one of elimination, it shall continue until all nominees have been eliminated).

3.C.6.2 The finalists shall be the top 5 eligible nominees on this list.

Section 3.9: Notification and Acceptance.

3.9.1: Worldcon Committees shall use reasonable efforts to attempt to notify all of the nominees on the longlist, or in the case of deceased or incapacitated persons, their heirs, assigns, or legal guardians, in each category prior to simultaneous with the release of such information. Each nominee shall be asked reminded at that time to either accept or decline the nomination. If the nominee declines nomination, that nominee shall not appear on the final ballot.

3.9.A: [after 3.9.1]Since the longlist will be public information, members of the public may also help contact the responsible persons. Any nominee on the longlist which has not explicitly withdrawn by the end of the second round of voting shall be assumed to accept becoming a finalist.

3.9.2: In the Best Professional Artist category, the acceptance should include citations of at least three (3) works first published in the eligible year.

3.9.3: Each nominee in the categories of Best Fanzine and Best Semiprozine shall be required to provide information confirming that they meet the qualifications of their category.

3.11.4: The complete numerical vote totals, including all preliminary tallies for first, second, … places, shall be made public by the Worldcon Committee within ninety (90) days after the Worldcon. During the same period the nomination voting totals shall also be published, including in each category the vote counts [if EPH has passed] and points tallies as of elimination [end conditional] for at least the fifteen highest vote-getters and any other candidate receiving a number of votes equal to at least five percent (5%) of the nomination ballots cast in that category, but not including any candidate receiving fewer than five votes. 3.11.A This information shall also include eligibility and reason (if any) for ineligibility for each member of the longlist.

3.11.B In addition, for each category, the list of numbers of “reject” and “accept” votes for each work shall be published in descending order of number “reject” votes. The names of each work shall NOT be published alongside this list.

Mercy panel

Moved, to add Section 3.BA (Mercy panel) after section 3.B, and to amend Section 3.C.1 (Nominee eligibility voting) as follows:

Section 3.BA: Mercy panel

3.BA.1 Each Worldcon Committee shall appoint at least 3 natural persons and 2 alternates, and no more than 6 of each, to serve as a Mercy Panel for the following Worldcon. Presence on the Mercy Panel shall not necessarily preclude assuming other functions for any Worldcon. The procedure for such appointment shall be at the discretion of the Committee, and may or may not include voting.

3.BA.2 If for any reason there are not at least the minimum number of members and alternates from the prior year, the current Worldcon Committee shall appoint any which are lacking, using the same degree of discretion.

3.BA.3 The Worldcon Committee and the Mercy Panel shall remain in contact during the first round of voting, and the WorldCon Committee may elect to share preliminary voting counts as appropriate and practical. This information shall be treated as private, maintained with reasonable security precautions, and erased as soon as practical by the Mercy Panel.

3.BA.4 As soon as the longlist is published, the Mercy Panel shall proceed with all reasonable haste to rule on whether each nominee on the longlist should be subject to an eligibility vote as described in section 3.C.

3.BA.5 Any member of the Mercy Panel who has a conflict of interest regarding a given work shall allow an alternate to vote in their stead on that work. Any work which for this reason cannot be reviewed by at least 3 members of the Mercy Panel shall be subject to an eligibility vote.

3.BA.6 Nominees that should be subject to eligibility votes include any in the following categories:

3.BA.6.1 Those for which there is a reasonable argument that they contain harassment or libel against a living person or any past member of WSFS.

3.BA.6.2 Those which any member of the Mercy Panel considers to be likely to be offensive to the standards of at least 20% of WSFS members.

3.BA.6.3 Those for which there is some clearly-defined credible reason(s) to suppose that over 20% of the nominations were made based more on outside influences than on the nominator’s judgment of the nominee’s merit.

3.BA.7 Any nominees which are unanimously considered by the Mercy Panel not to fall in any of the categories enumerated in 3.BA.6 shall not be subject to an eligibility vote.

3.C.1: After the longlist is published, and after the Mercy Panel has ruled on all members of a category, each member of the administering Worldcon who had been eligible to vote in the nominations poll as described in 3.7.1 may vote on the eligibility of any of the longlist members not exempt under section 3.BA.

+2 against trolls

Moved, to amend Section 3.7.1 (Tallying of Nominations), Section 3.9 (Notification and Acceptance), and Section 3.11.4 (Tallying of Votes) as shown above in “3SV Base”; and also to add section 3.D as follows:

Section 3.D Addition of nominations during round 2

3.D.1 During the second round of voting (that is, simultaneous with the process described in 3.C, if present), all persons who were eligible to nominate in the first round of voting may add nominations as follows.

3.D.2 Each voter may add up to two (2) nominations per category.

3.D.3 Any additional nominations for the same nominee a voter has already nominated in the same category shall be ignored.

3.D.4 All new nominations must be for nominees that are on the longlist in the same category.

3.D.5 Postal mail ballots should be accepted insofar as it is practical given the schedule, but the Worldcon committee may if it chooses schedule this voting round in such a way that some members may not have ample time to submit such physical ballots.

3.D.6 All nominations added during this period shall be treated in all ways as if they had come during the first round of voting, except that they shall not be counted as violating the allowed number of nominations per category.

Extend finalists

Moved, to amend Section 3.C.3 and 3.C.7 of the 3SV proposal above, and to add section 3.C.A after 3.C.7, as follows:

3.C.3: The ballot for this round of voting shall present the voter with the following options for each longlist nominee: “Accept”, “Accept with extension”, “Reject”, and “Abstain”.

3.C.4: Any voter who does not submit a ballot will be considered to have voted “Abstain” on all nominees.

3.C.5: Any voter who does submit a ballot but does not explicitly choose one of the three options for a given nominee will be considered to have voted “Accept” on that nominee. This default choice should be made clear on the ballot insofar as practical.

3.C.6: Postal mail ballots should be accepted insofar as it is practical given the schedule, but the Worldcon committee may if it chooses schedule this voting round in such a way that some members may not have ample time to submit such physical ballots.

3.C.7: A nominee shall be eliminated and considered ineligible if it meets the following two criteria: the number of “Reject” votes it receives is greater than 20% of the pool of voters eligible under 3.C.1 and 3.C.2; and the number of “Reject” votes it receives is also greater than the number of “Accept” votes or “Accept with extension” votes it receives.

3.C.A: If the number of “Reject” votes and “Accept with extension” votes a nominee receives is greater than 10% of the number of voters eligible under 3.C.1 and 3.C.2; and the number of “Reject” votes and “Accept with extension” votes the nominee receives is also greater than the number of “Accept” votes it receives; and if the nominee is selected as a finalist; then the number of finalists in that category shall be increased by 1, up to a maximum of 7.

Buckminster Fuller, Hope, and Glory

by John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1198) Sir Harold Walter Kroto (1939-2016), with Robert F. Curl, Jr., Richard E. Smalley, and students James Heath and Sean O’Brian as well as Yuan Liu, discovered the Carbon-60 molecule in 1985. In 1772 Lavoisier showed diamonds were carbon, in 1779 Scheele showed graphite was mostly carbon, so this was big news (of course that’s a pun on the size of this molecule).

Proving to be a truncated iscosahedron as studied in the energetic-synergetic geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), C-60 was named buckminsterfullerene; its shape is like one of Fuller’s geodesic domes. Wolfgang Krätschmer and Donald Huffman, with students Kostas Fostiropoulos and Lowell Lamb, extracted it with the carbon arc technique in 1990. Other fullerenes were found. Nanotubes, a few nanometers wide and up to several millimeters long, have high tensile strength, ductility, electrical and heat conductivity, low chemical activity – could they be used in paper batteries, or even a Space elevator?

Curl, Kroto, and Smalley were given the 1996 Nobel Prize for their discovery of fullerenes; Kroto, an Englishman, was knighted. Two years later C-60, by then long nicknamed the buckyball, was the Official Molecule of the 56th World Science Fiction Convention, another fine gesture under con chair Peggy Rae Pavlat (later Peggy Rae Sapienza; she could only have gotten more wisdom by marrying it). Implications of this amazing astounding stellar (C-60 has been seen in stars) thrilling wondrous moment of science still unfold.

Harry Kroto died on April 30th in East Sussex, England. The New York Times (6 May 16 p. A20) called him “A scientist who so loved art that he named his discovery after an architect”, one way to describe Fuller, who had two dozen patents, whose Dymaxion car and map as well as his Dymaxion house (dynamic + maximum + tension, coined by advertisingmen when a prototype of the house was on display at Marshall Field’s in Chicago) are still barely explored, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and who after all wrote “The architectural profession – civil, naval, aeronautical, and astronautical – has always been the place where the most competent thinking is conducted regarding livingry, as opposed to weaponry” (Critical Path p. xxv, 1981).

Meanwhile ET-94, built as an external tank for the Space Shuttle though never flying into Space, the last remaining flight-ready fuel tank in existence, 150 feet (47 m) long and weighing 66,000 pounds (30 000 kg), docked at Marina del Rey on May 21st after going 4,000 nautical miles (7 400 km) from New Orleans where it was completed in 2001, and was trucked across town past children in Space helmets made of paper to California Science Center where it will stand with Endeavour. The Los Angeles Times (22 May 16 p. B17) quoted a spectator “Look what we can do when we put our minds to it.”

Pixel Scroll 5/30/16 You Only Five Twice


(1) MEMORIAL DAY. Honoring service and sacrifice — James H. Burns’ 2015 tribute to the WWII generation:

Yet, one of the biggest influences on that generation has remained generally uncommented on. Decades later, it can almost be viewed as a secret text, or a  vast compendium, that may well have helped prepare our country’s youth for the immense challenges that awaited them.

In the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression–still the toughest economic calamity that ever faced the United States–ANYONE could tune in, on the radio, to the terrific adventure series, comedies and dramas that were performed LIVE, for national broadcast.

It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, or what race or creed you encompassed. There was a wide array of delights simply waiting to be discovered….

(2) LLAMA DROP. Kameron Hurley has a book out tomorrow that she expects to be controversial. She recommends several rules of engagement to her readers, beginning with —

Hey, hey folks, my first essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution, drops TOMORROW, May 31!

In anticipation of its release, here are some things you should know that I know and some things you should know about how I’ll be comporting myself online during the launch:

  1. Some people (the minority, but oh, what a vocal minority!) will HATE this book, even and especially those who’ve never read it and have never heard of me and have no idea what it’s actually about. I fully anticipate several pile-ons. I expect lots of garbage in my social feeds. But fear not! All of my email is screened, I’ve muted the majority of the worst accounts and keywords on Twitter, and buttoned up other things to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible. I WILL BE FINE. CHIN UP.
  2. This leads us to THIS point, which is: NO WHITE KNIGHTING. All I ask if there’s a pile-on is for you to NOT tag me if you argue with trolls. My troll policy is mute and ignore. I’ve found that very effective. You are, of course, free to argue with whomever you want on the internet, but as a courtesy, I ask that you keep me out of it, or I’ll have to mute you too, and we don’t want that! In related news: DON’T POINT ME TO BAD REVIEWS or TELL ME TO READ TERRIBLE COMMENTS. I mean, unless you’re a troll? But I don’t think you’re a troll. Like, I mean, for real, folks? I never, ever, read the comments, and I’m not going to be reading bad reviews, even funny ones, for months yet. Thank you….

(3) LLAMA THUMBS DOWN. At Fantasy Literature, reviewer Bill Capossere’s verdict is The Geek Feminist Revolution: Just didn’t do it for me”. I’ve heard of “damning with faint praise,” on the other hand, this review is devoted to “damning with faint damns.”They follow after a three-paragraph confession of the expectations he brings to a book of essays.

The pieces certainly aren’t badly written, but there just wasn’t enough there for me, whether in terms of style or content. Often, the thrust of the piece wasn’t all that fresh. What does it take to succeed in writing? Persistence. How does one succeed? One has to be willing to fail. Women are horribly trolled on the net. Writers have a responsibility to consider the impact of how they present their worlds and the people who inhabit them, etc.

Now, I don’t have an issue with covering territory that has been covered extensively for a long time or, in the case of more contemporaneous issues, has been covered extensively elsewhere (well, maybe I have a little issue). But if you’re going to present me content I’ve seen lots of other places or have been reading for some time, then you need to do something else for me. When I talk to my students in creative writing I call this the “so what” issue with non-fiction. You have to give the reader a reason to keep reading something they’ve seen before. Maybe it’s the beauty of the language, maybe it’s the stimulating structure. But something.

With regard to structure, the essays in The Geek Feminist Revolution are almost strictly linear and mostly singularly focused. As for language, it’s adequate for communicating the ideas, but rarely rises above that. It’s conversational, passionate, but nothing will have you linger over the phrasing or is particularly dense with meaning.

(4) CHINA SF CON. Shaoyan Hu’s article at Amazing Stories covers “A Time to Share, a Time to Enjoy – The Closing Ceremony of the 8th Shanghai Science Fiction & Fantasy Festival”.

In the main hall, the ceremony was incorporated with the final stage of a mind contest called ‘Useless Superpowers’, in which the participants were encouraged to come up with ideas of superpowers that had no practical values but could become interesting under certain circumstances. They were requested to present the ideas with any means of their choice, such as videos, pictures, stage performances, and so on.

The winner was a student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The imaginary superpower he had fabricated was ‘Immovable’, which meant the owner of the power could prevent anything from moving by simply touching it. Now, just imagine, someday in the future, if an asteroid is going to crash into the Earth, guess who will be sent out to the space to stop it?

(5) BALTICON AUTOGRAPH MACHINE. See George R.R. Martin sign and sign and sign in Chris Edwards’ half-minute video on Facebook.

(6) WISCON WARNING. Wondering what happened.

(7) CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOILER WARNING. With the mandatory warning out of the way, here is Brad Torgersen’s warning about violating fans’ expectations for a franchise.

Of course, the whole Captain America = Hydra Nazi thing, is a stunt. It will be eventually written up such that this shocking reveal is just the top-most layer on a plot cake wherein good old Steve is still true-blue American, and so forth. But by then the writers will have gotten what they wanted out of said stunt: attention, eyeballs, chatter, and (theoretically) sales.

Or . . . not?

Sometimes, stunts like this can dramatically backfire. If the audience suspects that it …is being shown contempt (by the creators) then the audience may very well turn its back. Superheroes are treasured icons for fans across the spectrum, and if you mess with those icons too much, you truly are playing with fire.

(8) IN A CAPTAIN CRUNCH. Echoing one of Torgersen’s notions about the fans no longer accepting the authority of the creator, comics veteran Gerry Conway has been besieged by fans trying to tell him the history behind Captain America. Here are a few examples from the Twitter exchange.

However, not everyone is engaging in the Captain America controversy with the same firestorm intensity….

(9) AUDIO BANDERSNATCH. Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Kickstarter funded – in fact, later today it achieved its first stretch goal.

I’m walking on SUNSHINE!! We met our funding goal for “Bandersnatch Goes AUDIO!!” Michael Ward will be narrating this book, and I am absolutely THRILLED. We still have one more day to meet some delicious stretch goals: I’d love to give each and every backer a copy of the 20-page discussion guide, and I’m still wondering if James A. Owen can draw a bandersnatch blindfolded. But for now, here’s the important thing: this is a real dream come true. This  audiobook will really really happen, and I want to thank YOU for taking part. I’m so excited and so, so grateful. WOOT!! Bandersnatch is going AUDIO!!

10) FAMILY REUNION. Fanac.org has uploaded video of “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” from Noreascon 3 (1989). After the Sunday brunch, many of the greats reminisced – including Isaac Asimov, Terry Pratchett, Jack Williamson, Samuel Delany, Fred Pohl, Forry Ackerman, David Kyle, Connie Willis, and others.

(11) IT WAS A NEEDLESS TRAGEDY. The Onion has learned “Leaked Documents Reveal Studio Executives Knew About ‘Gods of Egypt’ Before It Released Onto Public”. Gasp!

Suggesting that the disastrous events of three months ago could have been averted, federal investigators stated Wednesday that a trove of leaked documents confirmed high-ranking studio executives had full knowledge of Gods Of Egypt long before the film was released onto unsuspecting Americans….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, and Leslie Turek for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Axanar Takes One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Director Justin Lin and Axanar's Alec Peters after the May 20 announcement that the studio suit would be dropped.

Director Justin Lin and Axanar’s Alec Peters after the May 20 announcement that the studio suit would be dropped.

Even after J.J. Abrams told the world on May 20 that Paramount and CBS would drop their lawsuit against Axanar fan filmmaker Alec Peters, legal maneuvering and controversy has continued — initiated by Axanar.

Three days after Abrams’ announcement, fans were surprised to read Axanar filed a 28-page response and counterclaim with the court. Fan Film Factor received this explanation from Axanar attorney Erin R. Ranahan.

We filed the counterclaim only to preserve Axanar’s rights in the event that Paramount and CBS do not dismiss their claims as J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin stated they would, do not issue reasonable guidelines, or the parties are not able to reach a settlement.

CBS both confirmed the settlement discussions and said they were “working on a set of fan film guidelines” to Buzzfeed reporter Adam B. Vary immediately after Abrams’ announcement.

The relief Axanar requested from the court in its May 23 filing is summed up in two points at the end:

Defendants pray for the following relief on their Counterclaim:

1. That the Court declare the rights and obligations of Plaintiffs and

Defendants under the Copyright Act, and declare that Prelude to Axanar and the planned Axanar scripts and film are not infringing;

2. That the Court award attorneys’ fees and costs to Defendants as permitted by law; …

(Read the original here.)  

Attorney Ranahan said Axanar had been required to file in order to meet the case’s deadline for counterclaims. She described the counterclaim as non-provocative:

While we have included a single claim for declaratory relief, this claim is not “upping the ante” given that we are not seeking any monetary damages, but simply a declaration of fair use or non-infringement in the event that the case is not resolved, which we intend and hope that it will be.  Of course, if CBS and Paramount dismiss their claims against Axanar, or we are otherwise able to resolve these claims, we have no intention of pursuing the declaratory relief claim, and would agree to dismiss it as part of any settlement.

Perhaps seeking to influence CBS, Alec Peters drafted his own proposed guidelines and tried to enlist the producers of other Star Trek fan films to support them.

Several accepted his invitation to look at his draft, though not all: James Cawley of Star Trek: New Voyages said no without even hearing a proposal.

“Hubcap Dave” in his post “Forging Fan Film Guidelines”, citing Peters as his source, listed these producers as participants in a conversation about the draft:

As a starting point, Alec created some suggested guidelines which he forwarded to Todd Haberkorn of Star Trek: Continues, John Broughton of Farragut,  John Atkin of Yorktown, Nick Cook of Intrepid, Michael King of Valiant, Scott Johnson of Starbase Studios (who produce their own fan production as well as let other productions use their facility), Greg Lock of Star Trek Ambush, plus an unnamed representative of Star Trek: Renegades. “Everyone I sent this to agreed to at least look at the draft, and half of them became part of the ongoing discussion. As for the guidelines themselves, “It is still very much a work in progress, but we hope that we can at least have something to send to CBS so they appreciate the concerns of the fan film makers.”, said Peters.

AxaMonitor’s Carlos Pedraza made Peters’ draft public:


  1. There must be the following disclaimer at the end of each episode and in all promotional and marketing materials, on all fan production websites:

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan made film intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted.

  1. Fan productions may not sell, or give away as perks, any item with a Star Trek mark, logos or character, including, but not limited to, the words “Star Trek,” the Enterprise insignia chevron, images of the U.S.S. Enterprise, or any Star Trek trademark.
  2. Fan Productions may not use Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other commercial crowdfunding platform to raise money.
  3. Fan productions may take donations, but all donations must go to the production of the fan film and may not be used to pay any of the principals.
  4. Fan Productions may pay professional cast and crew for their time working on the production.
  5. If a production uses a SAG member, it must become a SAG New Media Signatory.
  6. Finished fan films may be no longer than 50 minutes in length, the approximate duration of TOS episodes.
  7. Fan film makers give to CBS an unlimited, unrestricted license to use their films, or any portion thereof, in any format CBS should deem appropriate.

In the end, the idea has backfired on Peters. Most other Trek fan film producers stayed quiet throughout the Axanar litigation, but in the past couple of days many have issued public statements distancing themselves from Peters and his guidelines.

The spokesman for Star Trek: Excelsior, which was not invited to the talks, wrote a long, negative comment on Facebook. (James Heaney is Executive Producer of Star Trek: Excelsior, however, the comment was unsigned.)

For the past few months, there’s been a drama playing out across the whole community of Star Trek fan productions. We at Excelsior have stayed out of it, but we are no longer able to do so. This is a long post, and it has absolutely nothing to do with what this page is actually about — making new episodes of Excelsior for you to enjoy — so, if you want to skip it, get out now….

Ever since Axanar was served papers, Mr. Peters has done all in his power to either (a) rally other fan productions to his cause or (b) throw them under the CBS/Paramount bus. None, to my knowledge, has rallied to Axanar, and so Axanar has done an awful lot of bus-throwing instead. For example, Peters and Axanar have consistently argued that what Axanar did is not significantly different from what other major fan productions do. These claims deliberately tried to use other, innocent productions as “human shields” against CBS/Paramount. Even if the claims were true, this would constitute a serious breach of the trust and respect between fan producers. And they were not true; it is categorically false that other major productions pay their principal producers a salary or set up coffee-licensing deals.

Fortunately, CBS, which has always been profoundly generous to fan productions, held its fire, refusing to kill off the other shows Mr. Peters offered as bait. There was one major casualty — the people behind the brilliant Star Trek: Horizon were asked to cancel a planned fundraiser for a sequel — but CBS’s easiest path in December would have been to send cease-and-desist orders to ALL fan projects in one fell swoop. That they did not is a profound testament to CBS/Paramount’s steadfast support of the Star Trek fan community… even when it makes things awkward for them, even when they do not get much credit for it in the media, and, yes, even when the fans themselves do not recognize how good we have it. (For goodness’ sake, CBS has tolerated *Kickstarters* for the past several years! That alone shows how much CBS trusts and respects Star Trek fans, especially compared to other studios.)….

However, yesterday, news broke (story below) that Mr. Peters is trying to organize Star Trek fan productions to support a set of proposed “fan film guidelines” that he has created, apparently in the hope that he will be able to represent his proposal to CBS/Paramount as having widespread support among fan producers as a sort of “compromise” between CBS and Axanar. This apparent attempt by Axanar to speak on our behalf forces us to break our silence and publicly clarify our position.

Neither Mr. Peters nor anyone at Axanar Productions has contacted Excelsior Productions or any of its principals about any proposed guidelines. However, even if we had been contacted, we would have refused to participate in discussion of Axanar’s proposal, and we hereby publicly repudiate any proposal Axanar Productions purports to make on our behalf. CBS/Paramount has not, to date, asked for any fan input into any potential fan film guidelines, and we do not presume to offer any to them without their express invitation. Even if CBS/Paramount *were* to invite fan input, we would not consider Mr. Peters a trustworthy, reliable, or community-minded representative. We encourage other fan producers to join us in this firm repudiation, so that Mr. Peters’ presumption that he speaks for the fan film community is rightly discredited in the eyes of the public, the media, the court, and CBS/Paramount….

Starbase Studios, which did take part in the group chat, also released a statement on Facebook:

It has been reported in several articles today that Starbase Studios is part of a group put together by Alec Peters of Axanar, to draft a set of fan film guidelines to be submitted to CBS studios as part of the lawsuit settlement. Scott Johnson, one of the studio owners, was contacted and agreed to view the proposed guidelines but never responded or submitted an opinion on them.

The articles published this morning seems to imply that Starbase Studios, and fan productions that film at the studio, have joined Peters and Axanar in their defense against the CBS/Paramount lawsuit. The names of the individuals and groups who have agreed to preview the proposed guidelines was released without consent. It would appear the reason for releasing the names is to create a false appearance of support for Peters and Axanar as a means to strengthen their negotiating position.

FOR THE RECORD: Starbase Studios has tried to remain publicly neutral on the Axanar lawsuit. We are now forced to state that we are in full support of CBS and Paramount on this matter and have always been willing to comply with any statements, rulings, guidelines they may issue. We have no doubt that CBS/Paramount are the true copyright owners of the Star Trek franchise and respect their ownership of the property. We are also grateful to CBS/Paramount for allowing us to support the Star Trek franchise in our own way.

In an effort to keep any productions filmed at the studio from overstepping bounds of fan films, we have publicly listed a set of guidelines on our website that we insist the productions follow. These guidelines were issued by a former crew member of New Voyages/Phase 2 and have served well so far but we will adapt to whatever new guidelines CBS/Paramount sees fit to issue.

Another inaccuracy in the article states that the studio produces several fan films. The studio itself produces only one film but invites any other productions to use our sets. These other productions are not under control of the studio and although we insist they follow the set guidelines, we can not be responsible for their releases or anything added after filming at the studio is complete.

Michael King of Starship Valiant, another chat participant, made this response:

Yes, I was invited to participate in building guidelines that I felt would help the fan film community overall as a group and although the actual guidelines listed in this article were completed and forged without my input, (as I was sick during the process), I did in fact make a few suggestions as to two of the seven listed. Then I was messaged by a friend this morning and told that our “private” discussion had been made public. Apparently, someone in the group cut & pasted our discussion and shared it with another person that I personally have never heard of, to the bewilderment of myself and my good friend Scott Johnson. Honestly, I feel that the group of people in this “chat” were used and manipulated and I am not and will not be a part of any legal dealings with Paramount/CBS vs. Axanar. To this end, I am publicly stating that Starship Valiant will play by any rules that the powers that be make. I am very thankful that Valiant has been allowed to play in the trek universe. The below article was printed without my consent and I was not asked to be a part of it or to be mentioned in it.

Greg Lock of Star Trek: Ambush, who was on the talk, was supportive of Peters:

…Firstly, I am not involved in anyway as having talks with CBS/Paramount regarding any future guidelines for Star Trek Fan Films. Alec had some ideas for potential guidelines and invited me into a Facebook discussion group to see what my thoughts were. Somehow the entire message thread was leaked to some sources, especially Axanar Haters and damming articles followed. This message leak was a breach of confidentiality and we are all very angry about this. I did not feel that Alec’s actions were unreasonable; he was not telling CBS what to do in my opinion and, if anything, it seemed as always that he wanted to help in anyway he can to facilitate the continuation of fan films. It was quite clear that he was not going to “storm” into the offices of CBS and make demands, far from it. He was also taking advice from his own legal team, still representing him pro-bono who have nothing but Axanar’s future in their interests. I therefore did not feel that Alec putting feelers out to see what kind of guidelines we would be happy with to be unjustified.

I did not feel that the guidelines were unreasonable, for starters if guidelines like those are imposed they will not affect what I have planned for Ambush at all, and would allow me not to worry about possible repercussions. I also felt that the guidelines would not drastically change the plans of much larger ongoing fan films I know of. I will adhere to any guidelines that CBS impose, whether they are drawn from Alec’s input or not. My thoughts were that if those were the kind of guidelines we would have, I would be okay with that…

AxaMonitor has a roundup with statements from many more producersStar Trek Continues, Starship Intrepid, Star Trek: Renegades, The Lexington Adventures, Melbourne, Project NCC-1703, Starship Ajax, Starship Farragut, and Star Trek Phoenix.

Newsweek’s article on the Axanar controversy, which Alec Peters commended on Facebook, says changes have been made to the proposed guidelines due to the negative reactions:

This week, Axanar Productions’ Peters circulated a set of suggested guidelines to other fan film producers, which included proposed language for disclaimers, limits on the length of fan productions, and a clause granting CBS an “unlimited, unrestricted license” to the fan films. An early version of the guidelines included a ban on crowdfunding, something Peters had earlier said he would “certainly be concerned about” if it was part of studio-provided guidelines. Peters dropped the proposed crowdfunding ban after getting negative feedback from other fan filmmakers; an Axanar spokesman says Peters sees a crowdfunding ban as “objectionable but inevitable.”

One notable omission from the proposed guidelines: any reference what kind of intellectual property license the studios would be granting to filmmakers, something likely to be part of any studio-authored rules. As attorney [Peter Kang, a partner at the law firm Sidley Austin] puts it: “In order for guidelines to provide what I assume everyone wants, which is some level of predictability, intellectual property licensing issues are going to have to be fleshed out.”

Martin, Nye Readings at Balticon 50

Sean R. Kirk took these photos of George R.R. Martin and Jody Lynn Nye reading at Balticon 50 this weekend.

Yesterday, George R. R. Martin read a new, previously unreleased and or unread chapter from his forthcoming novel The Winds Of Winter, written from the POV of Aeron (Greyjoy) Damphair.

This morning, Jody Lynn Nye read a couple of chapters from her book Myth-Fits, to be published in June 2016.


Space City Comic Con Disappoints Some, Wows Others

One of the drawing cards for Houston’s Space City Comic Con, held this weekend, was the Sons of Anarchy cast reunion.

Charlie Hunnam, star of the biker drama aired for seven seasons on FX, was advertised as appearing the entire weekend. But he left after Friday, with social media passing rumors that he and other actors had not been paid. The response on Facebook was heated.

“Those of you jealous over those of us who got VIPs for the Space City Comic Con – don’t feel bad. Our passes were worthless. Seriously. Actors checked bounced, many are leaving tonight. ”

“Glad Im not the only one who got screwed over today, thnx Space City Comic Con, Ill be waiting for my refund.”

“the celebs are very upset and leaving tonight. “

The Houston Press quizzed SCCC co-owner Johnny Steverson:

Steverson went into strict no comment mode when asked about reports of bounced checks including one to Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam who was reported to have been at the event Saturday morning but left. Steverson also said no comment when asked if any VIP ticket purchasers had requested their money back. There were reports Saturday that not all pre-paid celebrity autographs were being honored.

Other Sons of Anarchy actors — Ron Perlman, Chris Reed, Timothy Murphy and Kenny Johnson – fulfilled their panel assignments on Saturday. Danny Trejo was there, too. For those signing on Saturday, however, the arrangements were different, reports My Own Little Shadow:

And early indications of Fallout from yesterday’s Sons of Anarchy walkout are evident on the signs posted on all of the Sons of Anarchy cast signing tables.

They say that they will not accept the pre-purchase tickets for autographs or photo ops. They are now running a cash-only business.

The convention staff did its best to avoid controversy the rest of the weekend.

In contrast, fans who went to SCCC mainly to see Star Trek legend William Shatner, or Doctor Who actresses Alex Kingston and Billie Piper, went away happy. The payment arrangement for autographs was cleared up, as the Houston Press reported: “Sunday, a representative for Alex Kingston confirmed that con officials told them to stop taking autograph vouchers, then told them to start taking them again.”

(One of last year’s Worldcon GoHs, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, also put in an appearance.)

Alex Kingston and Billie Piper at SCCC. Via Riversongbadass-Whovian-Overload Tumblr.

Alex Kingston and Billie Piper at SCCC. Via Riversongbadass-Whovian-Overload Tumblr.

The SoA reunion was not the only drama played out at SCCC.

Bleeding Cool learned that a notorious art pirate had his wares for sale at SCCC via a proxy, and gave its story this convoluted headline — “Filter Swiper Joseph Bayer, Banned From MomoCon, But At Space City Comic Con Via Cosplayer Spock Vegas”.

Virginia-based Joseph Bayer is one of those folk who takes artwork from others, puts a filter on it and sells them as original prints. You can read Bleeding Cool’s expose on him last month here.

He was recently identified and called out on Imgur after an appearance at an east coast comic con which got quite a lot of attention….

This weekend, Johnny Segura discovered that the cosplayer Spock Vegas (prints seen in the photo above by Jason Scholte.) had set up at Space City Comic Con in Houston this weekend, selling these prints. Spock Vegas is a guest at the show. He also has a reputation for charging for any photos taken of him.

Spock Vegas told Segura that he gets them from a friend in Virginia (which is how he figured out it was Bayer) and that they split the profits.

[Thanks to David Doering for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 5/29/16 Hell Is Other Pixels

(1) HE SIGNS AND WONDERS. From the Baltimore Sun: “’Game of Thrones’ author draws faithful crowd at Balticon 50”

The wildly popular HBO series has gone beyond the plot lines of Martin’s books, though more are in the works. In an afternoon interview with Mark Van Name, Martin said he never anticipated that the unfinished book series would end up as enormous as it has become. When he sold it in 1994 with 100 pages written, he pitched it as a trilogy. That quickly became a “four-book trilogy,” he said, then a five-, six- and seven-book series. The sixth and seventh books have not yet been published.

“It hit 800 pages and I wasn’t close to the end,” he said of writing the first book, “Game of Thrones,” the show’s namesake, which was part of a larger series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Then “Thrones” became “1,400 pages and there was no end in sight. At that point I kind of stopped and said, ‘This isn’t going to work.'”

Though Martin didn’t speak in detail about the books, he said the Vietnam War was part of what shaped his writing and the complexity of his characters.

“We have the capacity for great heroism. We have the capacity for great selfishness and cowardice, many horrible acts. And sometimes at the same time. The same people can do something heroic on Tuesday and something horrible on Wednesday,” he said. “Heroes commit atrocities. People who commit atrocities can be capable later of heroism. It’s the human condition, and I wanted to reflect all that in my work.”

Martin Morse Wooster emailed the story along with his own observations:

…Nearly all of the piece is about listening to George R.R. Martin or standing in line to get your Martin books and other stuff signed.  This morning I was standing in line for the elevator and heard that they were admitting the 1,070th person to the autograph line.

(2) TIPTREE AUCTION AT WISCON. I’d like to hear the rest of this story…

And I’d like to hear this, too.

(3) CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOILER WARNING. (In case there’s anybody who doesn’t already know it…)

Ed Green snarked in a Facebook comment:

I rather like the bonus factoid that they released this in time to help celebrate Memorial Day. Because nothing says ‘Thank you for your sacrifice!” like turning a WWII legend into a Nazi.

You rotten bastards.

Jessica Pluumer also criticized the choice in her post “On Steve Rogers #1, Antisemitism, and Publicity Stunts” at Panels.

You probably already knew that, but I’d invite you to think about it for a minute. In early 1941, a significant percentage of the American population was still staunchly isolationist. Yet more Americans were pro-Axis. The Nazi Party was not the unquestionably evil cartoon villains we’re familiar with today; coming out in strong opposition to them was not a given. It was a risky choice.

And Simon and Kirby—born Hymie Simon and Jacob Kurtzberg—were not making it lightly. Like most of the biggest names in the Golden Age of comics, they were Jewish. They had family and friends back in Europe who were losing their homes, their freedom, and eventually their lives to the Holocaust. The creation of Captain America was deeply personal and deeply political.

Ever since, Steve Rogers has stood in opposition to tyranny, prejudice, and genocide. While other characters have their backstories rolled up behind them as the decades march on to keep them young and relevant, Cap is never removed from his original context. He can’t be. To do so would empty the character of all meaning.

But yesterday, that’s what Marvel did.

Look, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know how comics work. He’s a Skrull, or a triple agent, or these are implanted memories, or it’s a time travel switcheroo, or, or, or. There’s a thousand ways Marvel can undo this reveal—and they will, of course, because they’re not about to just throw away a multi-billion dollar piece of IP. Steve Rogers is not going to stay Hydra any more than Superman stayed dead.

But Nazis (yes, yes, I know 616 Hydra doesn’t have the same 1:1 relationship with Nazism that MCU Hydra does) are not a wacky pretend bad guy, something I think geek media and pop culture too often forgets.

(4) BOUND FOR BLETCHLEY. The Guardian reports a discovery made by museum workers — “Device used in Nazi code machine found for sale on eBay”.

It was just such a coincidence that led to the museum getting its hands on their Lorenz teleprinter, after they spotted it for sale. “I think it was described as a telegram machine, but we recognised it as a Lorenz teleprinter,” Whetter said.

They rang the seller and drove to down to Essex to take a look for themselves. “The person took us down the garden to the shed and in the shed was the Lorenz teleprinter in its original carrying case,” Whetter said. They snapped it up for £9.50.

But the true value of their purchase was yet to become clear. It was only after cleaning the machine at Bletchley Park, where the museum is based, that they found it was a genuine military issue teleprinter, complete with swastika detailing and even a special key for the runic Waffen-SS insignia.

Is it a suspicious coincidence that this story came out the same month as Steve Rogers #1? You decide!

(5) WISCON CON SUITE. Tempting as it is, if I left now I still wouldn’t get there in time.

(6) FAREWELL FROM THE MASSES. The G has something to say “About that Castle finale…” at Nerds of a Feather.

I finally got around to watching the series finale of Castle last night, and feel the need to vent a bit.

First, let me admit that I’ve watched a lot of Castle over the years. But I didn’t watch it out of any conviction that it’s good. It wasn’t. Rather, I watched it because it was simple fun. At its best, the show took a familiar formula (the police procedural), approached it with an appealing balance of drama and comedy and then let its charismatic leads (Nathan Fillion and Stana Kati?) carry the show. All in all, that made for an enjoyable, if somewhat forgettable, hour long diversion.

Sure there was the ongoing story about an increasingly convoluted and opaque conspiracy, as well as the love story between Castle and Beckett, but at its heart Castle was an episodic show. And now that it’s gone, I realize how few watchable episodic dramas are left on TV.

Which brings me to the finale…

As soon as it was over, my wife turned to me and said “Poochie died on the way back to his home planet.”

With a hook like that, how could I not read the rest, which is an explanation of the reference?

(7) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. There will be a movie based on the Tetris video game, in which massive blocks descend from the sky. Don’t be underneath when they fly by… oh, wait, that’s a different punchline.

Larry Kasanoff, producer of films based on the Mortal Kombat video games and Bruno Wu, CEO of China’s Sun Seven Stars Media Group announced that their new company Threshold Global Studios is set to produce the film Tetris The Movie.


(8) RECOMMENDATION: REREAD THE BOOK. Gary Westfahl’s analysis, “Alice the Great and Powerful: A Review of Alice Through the Looking Glass”, is posted at Locus Online.

The visual effects are regularly creative and engaging, and there are lines here and there that might make you laugh, but overall, anyone looking for 153 minutes of entertainment on this Memorial Day weekend would be best advised to read, or reread, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) instead of watching this film, which borrows its title but none of its unique wit and charm. The work that it most recalls, as my title suggests, is the film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013 – review here), another thumb-fisted effort to “improve” upon a classic children’s book by adding new characters, new back stories for old characters, and an action-packed, melodramatic story line….


(10) CARBONARA COPY. Kurt Busiek commented yesterday about cooking a meal for his future wife using a recipe in a comic book. I thought it might be a pleasant surprise if I could find that American Flagg spaghetti fritatta recipe online. It was there, but I found more than I bargained for in Cleo Coyle’s post at Mystery Lovers Kitchen.

When I first met my husband, he whipped up a fantastic spaghetti carbonara that has since become part of our menu. Because he’s part Italian, and because both his mother and father taught him how to cook, I assumed his recipe came from one of them. Not so. Marc informed me that he found the recipe in a 1980’s comic book.

The comic was Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, launched in 1983. Fans of this series include Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, who hailed Flagg as a precursor to the cyberpunk genre of science fiction.

Flagg is not for everyone. It presents a hard-boiled look at life in 2031—after nuclear war and an economic collapse leave things a tad chaotic in the USA. How bad do things get in Chaykin’s 2031? One example: The broken down piano player who inhabits the local lounge is Princess Diana’s oldest son.

As for today’s recipe, spaghetti carbonara happens to be the favorite dish of Rubin Flagg, the comic book’s hero. The recipe was published in the same issue that Rubin cooked it up. (Recipes included in fiction! Is that a good idea or what?)

Coyle says she’s married to somebody named Marc, so presumably this isn’t Kurt’s wife telling her side of the same anecdote. (I’m also sure Kurt knows his fritatta from his carbonara.) Just the same, it’s starting to sound like that American Flagg recipe is quite the love potion!


  • Born May 29, 1906 T. H. White author of The Once and Future King.

(12) SUITS. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, takes you along —

While in London pitching series, Mr. Sci-Fi got a tour of the Propstore’s exclusive amazing collection of spacesuits from such films as Alien, Armageddon and Star Trek – The Motion Picture — plus he shows rare concept designs of Space Command’s spacesuit by Iain McCaig (designer of Darth Maul, Queen Amidala and The Force Awaken’s Rey). Not to be missed!


(13) WOLFE TALK. Spacefaring Kitten interviewed Marc Aramini who wrote Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 (Castalia House).

Is there a “right” answer to questions like “what has really happened between the protagonist and Suzanne Delage in ‘Suzanne Delage’” or “which one is the changeling in ‘The Changeling’”?

I’m asking this because I kind of enjoyed the ambiguous atmosphere and the weight of the unexplained in those stories, and while I was reading them I didn’t necessarily feel that there should be one comprehensive solution to be unearthed.

Yes, but you don’t have to get there to enjoy the story. I honestly believe there is a “right” answer from the author’s point of view, but that there are other authors who do not have this kind of rigid, disciplined mindset and write from a place of the subconscious or unconscious. I really do not feel that this is the case with Wolfe, and I have written about 700,000 words so far between the two volumes which argue that his mysteries have universal solutions. I think one of his tasks is using the tool-box of post-modern subjectivity and uncertainty to imply that there is still a universal structure behind the act of creation.

(14) HARDY. David Hardy has created a video tour of his famous astronomical art —

Voyage to the Outer Planets

To follow up my 50s compilation, ‘How Britain Conquered Space in the Fifties’, here is a video made from art of the outer Solar System which I produced 50 years later , for comparison. I like to think I have progressed a little! This is partly a short excerpt from my DVD ‘Space Music’ (available at www.astroart.org), which in turn was edited from German TV’s ‘Space Night’, shown in the early morning from 1994 (google it). They showed two programmes of my art, but for the DVD I added digital images from my 2004 book with Sir Patrick Moore, ‘Futures: 50 Years in Space’.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Spacefaring Kitten, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy.]

Waiting for File 770 #166

By Yeh Shao-Weng:

It must be because he hates clogs on his moss
I knocked ten times still his gate stayed closed
but spring can’t be kept locked in a garden
a branch of red blossoms reached past the wall

Sent to me by John Hertz during National Poetry Month, this poem really is by Yeh Shao-Weng the 13th Century Chinese poet. John quoting it in Vanamonde 1192 didn’t mention File 770, nor did he say Yeh’s real title was what I put above. I can’t claim authority to speak for a Sung Dynasty author, but I think I know what’s on John’s mind — because he has a lot of material in the next issue. I really do hope to publish File 770 #166 this spring.


From John’s notes: The poem can be found in Red Pine tr., Poems of the Masters (2003), the original in four lines of seven Chinese characters each on p. 228 and Red Pine’s translation on p. 229.  The literary name Red Pine is the Taoist immortal Ch‘i Sung, Lord of Rain under Shen Nung, the legendary inventor of agriculture.  The anthology, in Chinese named Ch‘ien-chia Shih, literally A Thousand Poems of the Masters, is sometimes called the Thousand Poems for short; the translator left out “thousand” since it’s clearly figurative, there being two hundred poems.  About the poem he says, “The Chinese often use moss as a ground cover in their gardens … the clogs … had two high wooden ridges on the bottom, one in front and one in back….  The red blossoms are those of the apricot….  The last line is quite famous but was originally part of an earlier poem by Lu Yu (1125-1210) entitled ‘Written on Horseback’” (p. 228).  About the anthology he says, “for the past eight centuries, it has been the most-memorized collection of verse in China and part of every student’s education” (p. 5).

Pixel Scroll 5/28/16 The Boy Who Cried Woof

(1) WISCON GOHS. Justine Larbalestier, Sofia Samatar, and Nalo Hopkinson.

(2) AMERICAN SNARKER. John Z. Upjohn is at WisCon, too.

(3) FIVE-OH. Meanwhile, Peter S. Beagle was signing at Balticon 50.

(4) WHAT IT IS. George R.R. Martin made something clear during his Balticon 50 appearance.

(5) 1980 HUGOS. Nicholas Whyte has located a copy of the 1980 Hugo Awards voting statistics. He discusses the competition in a post for From the Heart of Europe.

The earliest Hugos for which I have been able to find full voting numbers are the 1980 Hugo awards given at Noreascon Two.  The details were release in December 1980, some months after the convention was over, and are available in a seven-page PDF here (the last two pages of the scan are in the wrong order).

563 nomination votes were received, which was a record at the time but was exceeded four times in the rest of the 1980s.  (See George Flynn’s records.)  Nominations seem to have then dipped again until the recent rise.

The 1788 votes for the final ballot were also a record at the time, and a record which as far as I can tell stood for over thirty years until 2100 voted for the 2011 Hugos at Renovation.

(Incidentally I find it fascinating that participation in Site Selection was well ahead of the Hugos for most of the 1980s and 1990s, peaking at 2509 in 1992, a tight-fought campaign between the eventual 1995 Intersection in Glasgow and a rival bid from Atlanta.)

The closest result in 1980 was for the Gandalf Grand Master Award for life achievement in fantasy writing, won by Ray Bradbury by a single vote,mailed in late from England, ahead of Anne McCaffrey, 747 to 746….

The next closest result was the Hugo for Best Novel, which went to Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradiseby 19 votes, 671 to 652 for John Varley’s Titan.  I have to feel that the Hugo voters got it right (even if Jo Walton disagrees – see also excellent comments); it’s a long time since I read Titan but I feel it was really a book of its time, whereas the Clarke is a satisfying capstone to a crucially important career in the genre. The Fountains of Paradise won the Nebula as well that year, but was only third in the Locus poll behind Titan (which won) and Frederik Pohl’s Jem.  It was also nominated for the 1979 BSFA Award but lost to J.G. Ballard’s The Unlimited Dream Company.

(6) ANIMATED ROD SERLING INTERVIEW. Blank on Blank, the PBS video series that creates animated videos from old audio-only interviews with celebrities, writers, and pop culture icons, has given the treatment to a recording of Rod Serling taking questions from Australian radio personality Binny Lum in 1963.

Well, it’s a very beautiful day, and it’s made infinitely more pleasant for me by the fact that I am going to talk to Rod Serling. So many of you have enjoyed his television shows. The Twilight Zone I think is the one that everybody talks about. I’ve just confessed to Rod that I haven’t seen it.

Believe me, Binny, some of my best friends are quite unaware of this program back in the States, including relatives, I might add….

(7) ROLLING A 770 CHARACTER. Kind words from Tim Atkinson who launches his series of Hugo nominee review posts with a look at File 770.

It helps that – occasional op ed articles aside – the blog not only links back to the original stories but quotes liberally from the sources themselves. Glyer and other contributors usually confine themselves to introducing each item rather than responding to it, although occasionally a little mild frustration can be detected.

In short – if File 770’s had an DnD alignment, it would be Lawful Neutral, or at least trying to live up to it. Which is really what you need from a news service.

The File 770 community, on the other hand, existing in a ecosystem of comments on individual blog posts, is all about opinions plural. Whether it’s taking a position on the stories of the day, swapping book or recipe recommendations or engaging in an epic comic riff about what to say to the Balrog in Moria (archived here), the threads are always insightful. Occasionally a little hot-tempered, but by comparison to Twitter (say) they’re a paragon of civility. 🙂

(8) NOT ENOUGH SPACE. Ashley Pollard steps up at Galactic Journey with “[May 27, 1961] Red Star, Blue Star (May 1961 UK Fandom Report)”

….To summarize Great Britain’s role in space, we lag far behind both United States and the Soviet Union, our government having cancelled Blue Streak early last year, which was a medium-range ballistic missile that would’ve made a good basis for a British rocket.  It was being tested at the Woomera Rocket Range in Australia (named, aptly, after an Aboriginal spear throwing aid).  Woomera has plenty of room to fire rockets into space, unlike the Home Counties or anywhere else for that matter on the British Isles…..

However, that still leaves us with Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, which I haven’t mentioned before.  He is the eponymous hero of the Eagle comic’s lead strip.  Dan Dare is the lead test pilot of the “Interplanet Space Fleet”, whose adventures in space are still delighting its readers after ten years of weekly installments.  The series was created by Frank Hampson who consulted Arthur C. Clarke on the comic strips’ science.  While lots of spaceships have been lost, favourites like Dan Dare’s own Anastasia fly around the Solar system rescuing those in need of help, and defeating the various nefarious plans of enemies like the Mekon: large headed green alien overlords from Venus (and I expect you thought I would say Mars – still green though).

(9) BUT MORE SPACE THAN BEFORE. They finally succeeded in inflating the new room at the ISS.

NASA on Saturday successfully expanded and pressurized an add-on room at the International Space Station two days after aborting the first attempt when it ran into problems.

The flexible habitat, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), slowly extended 67 inches (170 centimeters) soon after 4 pm (2000 GMT) following more than seven hours during which astronaut Jeff Williams released short blasts of air into the pod’s walls from the orbiting lab using a manual valve.


  • Born May 28, 1908 — Ian Fleming, creator of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I borrowed from the library while in junior high, assuming from the title it naturally would be another spy adventure like his James Bond.

(11) THE FUNNY PAGES. Will R. recommends this Hobotopia cartoon for a laugh.

And John King Tarpinian appreciates the references in today’s Brevity.

(12) STAY ON THE ISLAND. It’s the place to be, next time you’re in New York — “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ lair listed on AirBNB”.

An AirBNB listing is offering fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the opportunity to spend a night in the reptilian crime fighters’ secret lair.

The listing posted by the group’s very own Leonardo allows up to six guests to rent the Turtles’ three bedroom lair in Manhattan for just $10 a night.

“This high-tech dojo is fully loaded…a glow in the dark basketball court, a retro arcade, more video games with a pretty sweet tv wall…anything for hanging ninja-style,” the listing states.

While guests will get the opportunity to take full advantage of the lair and possibly even grab a bite of pizza, the Turtles themselves will not be present on the property due to their commitment to protecting the city.

(13) COMING TO VIMEO. A Neil Gaiman documentary will soon be posted online. The trailer says it can be pre-ordered for $12.99.

The documentary Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously will be exclusively shown on Vimeo, starting on July 8th. The film chronicles Gaiman’s childhood in Portsmouth UK to his initial success in writing The Sandman comic series to his more recent work with novels such as Coraline and The Graveyard Bookwhere he became the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work. His novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.


(14) ANCIENT BOMB. Entertainment Weekly tells us “Mel Brooks was ‘ready to jump off a roof’ over sci-fi fiasco Solarbabies”.

How Did This Get Made? …recruited SlashFilm writer Blake Harris to speak with the makers — or, perhaps, “perpetrators” would be a better word — of the films featured in the podcast.

Harris can now claim to have struck bona fide gold with an interview in which comedy legend Mel Brooks talks about his backing of 1986’s Solarbabies, a sci-fi movie starring Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, and Lukas Haas. Don’t remember the film? Doesn’t matter. The always entertaining Blazing Saddles director, who exec-produced the movie through his Brooksfilms production company, remembers it like it was yesterday. In particular, Brooks has excellent recall of how the budget ballooned from a modest $5 million to a jaw-dropping $23 million…

(15) IT’S ABOUT TIME. Southern California Public Radio’s “Off-Ramp” segment delivers “DIY Film Fest: 6 time-travel flicks you’ll go back to (sorry) time after time” by Tim Cogshell, of CinemaInMind.

Off-Ramp has been after me asking me to do another DIY film festival, and I’ve been asked to talk sci-fi flicks with the sci-fi nerds over at the DigiGods podcast.  They have a great audience and I know they are going to want to talk time-travel movies. Sci-fi nerds always want to talk time travel movies. So let’s kill two birds with one stone.

1. “Looper” (2012)

Let’s start with a modern film that’s fast becoming a cult classic. The nerds love Director Rian Johnson’s 2012 time-travel thriller “Looper,” and so do I.  It stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt as the same guy from different moments in time. What I like most about Looper is that it’s a love story wrapped in a thriller hidden in a time-travel movie.  And that it’s Johnson’s own original script. He worked it all out beat-by-beat in his head and “Looper” is tight as a drum.

(16) FANCY MEETING YOU HERE. Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison’s Unity Speech includes video clips of various pundits – including a brief excerpt from a YouTube conversation between Vox Day and Stefan Molyneux. Their snippet appears at the 2:00:10 mark.

As Cally observed, “He’s one of the few people in the video who’s actually got his name displayed; most are either anonymous people or, I suppose, people who you’re supposed to recognize on sight.”

(17) HARD SELL. Originally for those who GET HARD, this shirt is now HARD TO GET. Teespring lists the “Legends of Science Fiction” t-shirt as sold out two days ago. If you click the “I still want one” button they’ll take your e-mail address.

Tingle t shirt

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Andrew Porter, and Will R., for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]