Pixel Scroll 9/10/16 Scroll Long And Pixel

(1) NEW ZEPPELINS FOR OLD. After striking a gusher of controversy with its initial program plans, World Fantasy Con made a large number of changes. Jason Sanford reviewed the new offerings in “World Fantasy tries again with programming”, then concluded:

I wish WFC had started totally from scratch with this year’s program, which they obviously didn’t do. But overall these changes are positive. It appears some of these changes were taken from Guerilla WFC, which put forward a truly innovative WFC program, which is a good sign. I’m also sure Ellen Datlow had a positive effect on the changes, as did everyone in the genre who justifiably ripped apart the previous program.

Update: The new program is now on the official WFC 2016 website. Go there to see the schedule.

(2) THEN, THE BOOK. I have spent many hours poring over Rob Hansen’s British fanhistory in zine and website versions, whether researching a blog post, or simply for the pleasure of learning the stories out of early fandom. Now that material has been polished further and given book publication by Dave Langford’s Ansible Editions. You’ll find a lot of information about the project here.then-cover

THEN was published in September 2016 with a list price of $22.50 (trade paperback) or $36.50 (hardback, discounted by 10% until November 2016). There is also an ebook edition.

Rob Hansen is acknowledged in Brian Aldiss’s autobiography The Twinkling of an Eye as “the historian of fanzines”. Then is Rob’s ground-breaking history of British science fiction fandom from its first stirrings in the early 1930s to 1980 and a little beyond. Originally published in four fanzine-format volumes from 1988 to 1993, this first book edition of Then is now greatly revised, corrected and expanded by more than 20% to give a massive trade paperback – and a simultaneously published hardback – running to 454 pages and nearly 228,000 words. Besides the results of much new research, Then includes over 300 photos of contemporary fans of all eras, dozens of scans of representative fanzine covers selected from each decade, detailed source notes and a full index (not to mention a separate photo index).

This first book edition of Then also has an appreciative introduction by Peter Weston, who writes: “without Rob we would know almost nothing about British fanhistory, whereas thanks to him we know just about everything … It’s a truly amazing thing, and something of a minor miracle that it ever came to be written.” It’s an epic piece of work. What’s more, it’s alive in the current conversation, and consulted by people who care about fanhistory.

(3) WHEN THE SHOW WENT ON. Ars Technica tells “How an over-ambitious Star Trek convention became ‘The Con of Wrath’”.

In 1982, nearly the entire TOS cast gathered for a disastrous four-hour variety show….

Rose also recalled that Koenig essentially acted as the show’s de facto director, given that no one else could seem to be bothered to do it. “None of us had a script, any idea what we were doing for the most part, but we knew that Walter had written some kind of play,” he said. “It was literally that Friday night, Walter comes over to me and he says ‘you’re the main guy, here’s what we’re going to be doing.’ He wrote it out what we’re going to do, cue this cue that. I had no warning whatsoever.”

Koenig ended up simply writing out the lighting and sound cues on a piece of paper and handing it to Rose. “‘We need a house announcer,’ and he writes out on paper and handed it to me!” Rose recalled….

“The amazing thing is that none of the actors walked, they did the entire weekend as it was planned,” Nemecek told us. To this day, he continues to view the whole thing as a modern marvel. After all, he believes that if such a fiasco unfolded today, it would reverberate across the Internet and likely damage the careers of everyone involved. “It really is the most glorious failure. All the actors, the fans, the dealers, and the organizers did something to make this happen.”

 

(4) WORLDCON 76. After San Jose won the rights to host the 2018 Worldcon, they issued Progress Report Zero. In case you haven’t already seen it, you can download it here.

Is San Jose really going with Worldcon 76 as its name? That’s what’s on the PR and its website. I’d be concerned that’s it’s too easily confused with Worldcon 75, the name used by Helsinki.

San Jose also announced Guests of Honor Spider Robinson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, and two Ghosts of Honor, Edgar Pangborn and Bob Wilkins.

(5) ONE VIEWER’S RECAP OF RECENT HISTORY. Nathaniel Givens overviews “Science Fiction Awards in an Age of Dragons” at The Loose Cannon.

…one of the problems with this many categories is that there’s no feasible way anyone could read all the nominated works and make an informed vote in every category. This has profound implications.

Traditionally, Worldcon attendees receive electronic copies of the nominated works and have a couple of months to read through them before voting closes. There’s a lot of material (5 novels, 5 novellas, 5 novelettes, and 5 short stories just from the core literary categories), but it’s not an unmanageable amount. It should be fairly routine, then, for a Hugo voter to end up reading works they haven’t read before and maybe even voting for one of those works. In short, the Hugos are designed as deliberative process in which a small cadre of dedicated fans try to come to a consensus about which works deserve recognition. At its worst, this means that the group is susceptible to being hijacked and/or manipulated by cliques and fads (political or otherwise). At its best, it means that we’re talking about a process that at least makes a meaningful attempt to transcend momentary popularity.

The Dragon Awards make no such pretense. There will never be packets of all the novels.15 Even if there were, there wouldn’t be time for people to wade through dozens of novels before voting. Deliberation and consensus are off the table.

(5) TRANSOM TO REOPEN. Strange Horizons has added a new fiction editor and will be re-opening fiction submissions.

We are therefore delighted to announce that Vajra Chandrasekera is joining us as a Fiction Editor, working with Lila Garrott, Catherine Krahe, and An Owomoyela.

If you’ve been reading Strange Horizons recently, there’s a good chance that you recognise Vajra’s name and if you do, I suspect you’re as excited as I am about him joining the magazine’s staff. As a book club participant, occasional reviewer and regular columnist, he has contributed some of the most insightful critical thinking we’ve had the pleasure of publishing in the last year. And as an author—with July’s “Sweet Marrow”, and this week’s “Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes”—he’s contributed two wonderfully elegant and thought-provoking stories. Put another way, by far the biggest downside of him joining the magazine is that we won’t be publishing very much by him for the foreseeable future!

In organisational terms, this should mean that we will be able to re-open to fiction submissions in the near-ish future—although authors, we’ll still need you to bear with us for a few more weeks.

(6) A VERSE OUT OF TIME. Tom Becker shared this masterpiece in a comment.

This is just to say
I have taken
the time machine
I wanted to eat the plums
that were in the icebox
But I didn’t want you to find out

I took them
back a few minutes
then there were
twice as many
That was fun
so I did it again
Forward and back
Four times as many
Eight times
Sixteen times

If you were wondering
why your time machine
is full of plums
that is why
Please have some
for breakfast
I ate as many as I could
You can put the pits
in the pizza boxes

You should know
I saw a shoggoth
Perhaps it was attracted
by the time machine
If so please forgive me
The elder gods
so strange
and so cold

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes  to File 770 contributing editor of the day snowcrash.]

167 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/10/16 Scroll Long And Pixel

  1. I, for one, welcome the trend to branding Worldcon as “Worldcon”.

    I do agree that using names such as “Worldcon 75 Helsinki” and “Worldcon 76 San Jose” would help distinguish them more.

  2. Mixed feelings, I like a bit of chaos. But agree that for outreach purposes, fronting with WorldCon is kind of obvious.

  3. I do agree that using names such as “Worldcon 75 Helsinki” and “Worldcon 76 San Jose” would help distinguish them more.

    Most of our marketing for the Reno Worldcon was done using “Renovation, the 2011 Worldcon”.

  4. I think I’ve said Worldcon 75 Helsinki more than once because it’s cool to be going to Finland. Having Worldcon in the name makes sense to me but I’m a fairly new member ~5 years so I’m not attached to the old ways.

    Currently reading Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire an enjoyable series. She’s not my favorite UF author but is on my auto-buy list. Good so far. New problems, more politics, secondary character growth, fae, games inside of games. I’m halfway through in a few hours of reading.

  5. @airboy
    I don’t see people upset about, but rather critical of the Dragon Awards. Most of us want them to succeed as a genuine populist SFF award with a more detailed subgenre breakdown (but yeah, definitely include urban fantasy). If the Dragon Awards were to become an award for things puppies like, there’s nothing wrong with that either, though it’s unlikely to be of interest to fans beyond the puppy sphere.

    I can’t speak for the gaming categories, since I don’t game. However, it seems to me as if the alt-history and military SF categories were among those where VD’s influence was less notable. Sure, he might have backed Naomi Novik and probably David Weber, too (I don’t really remember), but neither needed his help to win, since both are popular authors with big fanbases. Besides, David Weber’s toughest competition, John Scalzi, withdrew. I’m a bit surprised, though very pleased that Naomi Novik beat Eric Flint, but then his two nominees probably split the vote).

    The categories where VD’s influence is notable are science fiction, post-apocalyptic and horror. Nick Cole does have some following from his pre-puppy days via the Apocalypse Weird series plus the gaming and action focus of his books might appeal to the gamer demographic. However, JCW appeals to a niche audience, plus Somewhither is only borderline SF, and Brian Niemeier is unknown outside puppy circles (ditto for Declan Finn), plus neither of them writes horror. You also find more puppies among the nominees, not just Freer and Finn, but also Marina Fontaine and Mark Wandrey, both unknowns.

  6. John Lorentz on September 11, 2016 at 5:13 pm said:

    Most of our marketing for the Reno Worldcon was done using “Renovation, the 2011 Worldcon”.

    Yes, and the Worldcon I co-chaired was “ConJosé, the 60th World Science Fiction Convention,” and this past year’s Worldcon was “MidAmeriCon II, the 74th Worldcon.” But in every case, the first word was what everyone used. The rest was ignored.

    Of course everyone who already knows about Worldcon understands the naming tradition. It’s the people who don’t already know about Worldcon about which I care here. Making the primary brand name something other that Worldcon is confusing and detrimental to Worldcon as an entity.

    Possibly some Worldcon might want to consider formulating their name as “Worldcon YYYY: MyLocalCon” and see if it makes a difference. Old Pharts like you and me might continue to use MyLocalCon, whereas the marketing trying to attract people who have never attended a Worldcon could emphasize Worldcon.

    You say that my bringing up the Hugo Awards is a straw man argument. It’s not. Why do we use “Hugo Awards” every year? Why do we not rename them every year? It’s a serious question! I think that the answer to that is why we shouldn’t keep trying to create a brand identity for every individual Worldcon and then throw it away immediately after investing in it for two years.

  7. @Tom Galloway: Oh, I wasn’t criticizing Colbert — I watch the show regularly. I was criticizing Paramount/CBS, who should have had the original cast everywhere, and someone talking about the upcoming series.

    Like I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Takei only got on b/c Colbert is such a geek and probably asked himself. And even then we had to sit through an infomercial about a has-been actress’ diaper company first.

    Regarding the other stuff — either Puppies know a LOT more about the inner workings of the Dragons than Joe Average Fan, or they want people to think they do. Couldn’t tell you which. And I don’t know why they aren’t releasing the stats, unless they’re trying to hide something.

    If they take the obvious step of linking the votes ONLY to the members of Dragon Con, it could become a valuable resource for cool stuff. This year, it’s just freeping. It certainly didn’t reflect the general public’s taste, as OGH pointed out.

    @John AA: That is a very fine story indeed.

    @Dawn Incognito: So is that one!

    @arifel: Zhengzou. It’s got two Z’s and the location is, well, ya know… spicy.

    If we’re going to go with numbers (sigh), let’s at least have “Worldcon 75 Helsinki”, “Worldcon 76 San Jose”, “Worldcon 77 Dublin”, or posterity will have no freakin’ idea what was when. Everyone will get the numbers wrong and end up talking about weird language written everywhere in New Zealand and the dozens of authentic taquerias in Ireland.

    Also, I still want Minneapolis to be forced to hold Worldcon 100-something in 2073 and call it anything they want.

  8. lurkertype: There is a bid for Minneapolis in 2073 (not affiliated with Minneapolis in 1973). The proposed con chair is 6 years old, and has not yet been informed of her impending doom….

  9. Kevin Standlee: Why do we use “Hugo Awards” every year? Why do we not rename them every year? It’s a serious question!

    Because you couldn’t have a protected service mark for the award without reregistering it every time the name was changed.

  10. If we’re going to go with numbers (sigh), let’s at least have “Worldcon 75 Helsinki”, “Worldcon 76 San Jose”

    I’ve taken to doing that myself. And as I said above, maybe we’re better off with the year rather that the count, although I sort of think showing that we’ve held more in our series of (mostly) annual conventions than any other extant SF/F convention is a good thing, too.

  11. Mike Glyer on September 11, 2016 at 6:06 pm said:

    Kevin Standlee:

    Why do we use “Hugo Awards” every year? Why do we not rename them every year? It’s a serious question!

    Because you couldn’t have a protected service mark for the award without reregistering it every time the name was changed.

    Exactly! That’s brand awareness, and we’ve been working on it for years with the Hugo Awards, so some good effect, I think. (Yes, it’s also attracted the negative attention of griefers.) Yet we bury the name of the convention at which we hold it under a bushel of other names, each of which gets thrown away after a single use.

    When the Mark Protection Committee decided which of the WSFS service marks we should try to register in the EU (doing them all would have been too expensive), we decided to go with these:

    Worldcon
    Hugo Award
    The Hugo Award logo

    Those are our three highest-profile brands, and yet one of them we appear to not want to to highlight to the rest of the world.

  12. Kevin Standlee: Sure, Worldcon is a protected mark. The initiative to protect it was done in the full knowledge that Worldcons traditionally came up with nicknames and followed those with references to the Worldcon.

    While I’m an admitted late adopter, when the tradition changes I want to see it change for something else creative. Not something that makes me think of the old Dragnet show and the big hammer smashing “Mark VII Productions” on the wall.

    I’m also aggravated by how this discussion is being led by an argument that implies fans who aren’t already familiar with Worldcons can’t learn the tradition once it’s explained to them. I didn’t start out knowing about Worldcons or their names. I only started out knowing about the Hugo Awards…. 😉

  13. I’ve never used LibraryThing (it took me a few moments to figure out what LT stood for), but I doubt that users of Kindle Unlimited would list books they read on KU as copies owned. My guess is that most of the readers of the Dragon nominees which are in KU or other subscription services and are either self-published or published by a small press were read through the subscription service and not purchased outright. In that case, I might expect to see reviews without them listed with copies owned.

    For what it’s worth, I pretty much only read ebooks now, and everything I buy goes into my Calibre library, and I only add it to Goodreads when I think I might want to have a conversation about the book. I know, I probably ought to help out some authors by putting up some reviews.

  14. @Nicholas Whyte
    @andyl

    GoodReads and LibraryThing skew heavily to specific types of books. If you compare the relative proportions of listing in Goodreads and Amazon you can see this easily.

    Fantasy Novel:
    Asteroid Made of Dragons, G. Derek Adams – 9 copies / Amazon = 63 reviews
    Blood Hound, James Osiris Baldwin – 3 copies / Amazon = 33
    The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher – 505 copies / Amazon = 1,355
    Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia – 56 copies / Amazon = 272
    Changeling’s Island, Dave Freer – 5 copies / Amazon = 32
    The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin – 537 copies / Amazon = 222
    Grave Measures, R.R. Vird / Amazon =44

    Goodreads/Library Thing heavily skew towards certain types of books. The easies to spot is The Fifth Season which had relatively few amazon reviews but a huge proportion on the other measure.

    Son of the Black Sword was 56 compared to 5th Season 527 on LibraryThing.
    On Amazon this became SOTBS = 272 and 5th Season = 222.

    I’ve noticed this before. Amazon reviews skew heavily towards some types of SF/F while Goodreads skews heavily towards other types of SF/F. I’ve not found Goodreads to be useful to predict something I would like, while Amazon reviews are usually useful. Others would probably find this vice/versa.

    But using Goodreads alone as a measure will overweigh some types of books compared to Amazon reviews both in terms of the number of the reviews and how well the book is liked.

    These are the Hugo finalist data from ChaosHorizon:
    “Let’s look at this with some other data. Here’s the head to head popularity comparison of our five Hugo finalists, based on the number of ratings at Goodreads and Amazon.

    Goodreads Amazon
    Uprooted 41,174 1,332
    Seveneves 35,428 2,487
    Aeronaut’s Windlass 18,249 1,285
    Ancillary Mercy 11,698 247
    The Fifth Season 7,676 184
    https://chaoshorizon.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/final-2016-hugo-best-novel-prediction/

  15. I’ve never used LibraryThing (it took me a few moments to figure out what LT stood for), but I doubt that users of Kindle Unlimited would list books they read on KU as copies owned.

    I would be entirely unsurprised if LibraryThingers listed books they read on Kindle Unlimited on the site. The site doesn’t require to you own a book to list it in your library, just that you have a connection to it – you own it for sure, but also you borrowed it and read it, or want to buy it, or intend to read it soon, and so on.

  16. “Worldcon 76: San Jose 2018”.
    Nope. Looks like a very lopsided sportsball game.

    “Worldcon 2018: San Jose” is better.

    Particularly when the 76th con is more than 75 years after the first, which is a problem the con is always going to have.

    @Mike: Yes! I was thinking of Jack Webb too. The punny names stick in the memory so much better than numbers. I hope cons still come up with them so that we can have the aide-memoire and the possible jokes. And for places that have hosted many of them, knowing exactly how many is good. 2012 got its whole aesthetic because it was Chicon 7.

  17. @Camestros: bravo! Don’t forget NASFiC ME.

    No matter whether you look at Amazon, GR, or LT, in none of those places will you find JCW, Finn, or Niemeyer. So much for “popular appeal”.

  18. Better stick to the numbers, otherwise people are going to start asking about the NASFiC in Maine.

  19. Worldcon XX: Blah – please use a colon in there.

    @Camestros Felapton: “Worldcon 2: Wrath of Con” – LOL well done!

    ETA: P.S. I like amusing con names, so I like “Worldcon XX: BlahBlahCon” best of the variations.

  20. I don’t understand why we can’t have both. Name the convention “Worldcon [whatever]” and use the cute regional pun name as color text on publications and in a logo. Always putting the official name larger & more prominent to defuse confusion, of course.

  21. @lurkertype: To admit that any of the Dragon Award winners are not actually popular, and their wins were because certain people abused the one email-one vote system would undermine their argument for the last three years that there was nothing amiss in the Hugo nominations, and that the puppy nominations are actually a reflection of popularity in greater fandom. The Dragon awards are all about getting a better indication of what real fans like, unlike the elitists who attend Worldcon.

  22. I use Goodreads to track books I want to read/currently reading/read, own/borrow/KU/library/Kickstarter, ebook/paperback/hardcover. I have a number of friends who do the same.

    We add each other’s TBR books to our TBR. I’m not sure how frequently we run out to buy books each other are reading – I’ve been doing this more frequently if it’s an #OwnVoices author. When I was active in several groups we’d buy and/or borrow a number of books in groups based on upcoming buddy/group reads or someone’s review.

  23. Current reading: Since, as mentioned previously, I’m sans Kindle for a couple of days, I decided to go back and continue my Ballantine Adult Fantasy reread. I just finished Hannes Bok’s Beyond the Golden Stair, a lost-race novel of sorts where the lost race in question lives in an otherdimensional world called Khoire that’s accessed via a ruined staircase in the Florida swamps. Khoire is awash with strange forces, and has this distressing tendency to change your outward appearance to match your inner, all of which leads me to a startling conclusion:

    Area X, in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, is, in fact, the irruption of Khoire back into our world.

  24. @airboy I agree with all the things in your above post. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone take strong issue with the result in the fantasy category, where a popular author who personally mobilised their fan base won over a couple of authors who are equally or more well known by certain measures but didn’t mobilise, and some significantly less well known books.

    There are, as has been pointed out, a couple of categories (notably Science Fiction and Horror) where the results cause significant tension with an aspect of the Dragon Awards which many puppies have emphasised – namely, this “crowdsourcing” popular award aspect which, in theory, is produced by the lower barriers to voting in the awards and the large attendance of Dragon Con itself.

    Mathematically speaking, it is very improbable for an award whose voter base is an order of magnitude larger than the Hugos, to select finalists and, in these categories, winners whose readership figures are, by all measures we have access to (Goodreads, Amazon reviews, Amazon sales ranks, also Nielsen Book Data was mentioned in a previous post), not very significant.

    The possible explanations, as I see them, are as follows:
    1. There really was a mathematically improbable vote splitting effect which caused a voter base of unique individuals in the tens of thousands to select, through first past the post, books with readerships in the hundreds or low thousands as winners in the Science Fiction and Horror categories.
    2. There was a voter base in the tens of thousands which voted for Science Fiction and Horror titles to an extent which would suggest there were more votes than readers. The most obvious sub scenarios here are freeping and bored elk, or a combination thereof.
    3. There was a small voter base which voted for its favourites, or for elk choices, and through FPTP oddities and/or voter self-selection some relatively unknown books won out over more well-read choices.

    In cases 2 and 3, its fairly clear to me that the puppy premise of these being crowdsourced, popular awards is incorrect. This means that puppy arguments based on this premise are also logically unsound.

    It’s completely fine for there to be awards that don’t meet this particular criterion – as you are eager to regularly point out, the Hugos are not crowdsourced but depend on a small-ish, dedicated group of reading enthusiasts to reach a verdict each year, and many of us find a great deal of value in this method. To take another example, having an award which is dominated by a few dedicated readers in particular subgenres would hopefully continue to help you find new reading material as you have this year, which sounds useful indeed.

    At the risk of concern trolling, however, the crowdsourcing aspect of the Dragons seems to be a very valuable part of the award’s potential charm for puppy supporters, so I hope when voting statistics are released and we have a better idea of what went on this year, it will be possible for fans invested in the awards to take stock of whether the awards are genuinely reflecting this goal, and if not to take steps to improve them accordingly.

  25. @ Steve W: Riffing on your suggestion, what about a header/subheader format?

    [Worldcon specific name]: Worldcon [number] [venue]

    Examples:
    MagiCon: Worldcon 50 Orlando
    LoneStarCon 2: Worldcon 55 San Antonio

    (I still find it much easier to attach names to years than to Worldcon numbers — I typed “Worldcon 1992 Orlando” and then had to go look up which Worldcon that was — but I do understand the value of demonstrating how long it’s been going on.)

    @ andyl: Oops, make that 42 copies of The Desert and the Blade — I checked and found that I’d failed to enter my copy yet! This will be remedied forthwith.

    @ Soon Lee: I could live with your version as well, although it loses the iterative number and I think people are wanting to keep that.

  26. Camestros Felapton on September 11, 2016 at 7:56 pm said:
    Worldcon 75
    Worldcon 76
    Worldcon 78
    Worldcon XP
    Worldcon Vista

    Worldcon XP will go on for years with people refusing to leave, the few who do go on to Worldcon Vista will turn around and go back to XP and eventually it’ll take them pushing everyone out and closing the doors before people move on to Worldcon 7 where again they’ll refuse to leave, at which point they’ll be abducted and dropped into Worldcon 10 against their will. They’ll hate Worldcon 10 but discover that that doors are locked and this time they’re being forced to stay.

  27. I had to think for a while to remember that last year’s Worldcon was called Sasquan (Sasquon?). I just thought of it as the 2015 Worldcon in Spokane.

    Similarly, MACII I thought of as this year’s Worldcon in Kansas City.

    So I’d be happy calling it WORLDCON [Year]: [Location].

    Or, if the cons want to attach a specific name, we could move the colon (or add more, since that’s a hallowed SF tradition).

    Worldcon 2017 Helsinki: Finn Family Moomincon.

    Worldcon 2018 San José: Pueblo de Science Fiction de Guadalupe

    I like the individual names, but they strike me as equivalent to story titles, and Worldcon is the series title:

    Worldcon 2024 New York: The Empire State’s Back.

    Worldcon 2030 Moscow: A Good Day to Sci Hard.

    Worldcon 2032 Columbia: Scroll on, Columbpixelcon.

    Okay, maybe not those regional names. But Worldcon is the series, the date and location are the more specific identifiers to that series, and the individual name is decorative, but an inconsistent identifying label.

    Or so it seems to me.

  28. @ Bruce A: I am a regular LibraryThing user, and I notice that “ebook” is a very common tag there. This, of course, says nothing about how many Dragon Award voters are LT users or about subscription services; however, it does suggest that “people don’t list e-books on LT” is not necessarily a strong argument.

  29. The more I read it, the more the idea that the Hugos are not crowdsourced just seems weird to me. I guess it’s another case where knowing much about a subject puts one at a disadvantage when it comes to respecting bloviating. In this case, I read James Surowiecki’s blogging that became his book The Wisdom Of Crowds, and lively debate in posts’ comments, and know that the “crowds” involved are often groups of dozens to a few hundred…just the order of magnitude of Hugo nominators.

    Now, browsing back through the book, I’m reminded that there is a criterion for the sort of thing Surowiecki is talking about that would disqualify the Hugos as “crowdsourcing” in his sense. But, as I shall explain, it disqualifies the Puppies’ critics of the Hugos even more.

    In the experiments Surowiecki chronicles, it appears that there are benefits to the usefulness of the outcome when participants do not communicate with each other before making their individual judgments. Obviously, that ain’t the Hugos. 🙂 Many nominators do proceed with very little communication with others, but then whole cabals communities of us spend much of the year chattering about it all. So the independence of the voting is, let us say, somewhat compromised.

    But this is no comfort to any Puppy trying to be honest.

    Puppies public voices put forth a standard they think we should take seriously, and in practice actually act in accord with another, neither of which is as close to independence as the Hugo process.

    The espoused standard: popularity, particularly popularity as measured by sales figures. That’s just copying your votes off sales charts, if you were to be as serious about it as Puppy rhetoric sometimes suggests. Even if you just cross-check your preferences against it for filtering, you’re still surrendering your independence not to exchange of views among peers but to non-interactive authority figures whose veracity you generally haven’t checked for yourself.

    The actual standard: Vox Day’s whims, written down in a list. This is like sales figures without the slightest grounding in objective reality.

    So, once again, Puppies throw around a term with no real foundation in how people who use it seriously use it.

  30. @Lee: I wasn’t suggesting that LT users don’t list their ebooks in LT, I was questioning whether they would be listing books they read with Kindle Unlimited or other subscription services in LT. Since it’s free to join, I just did, and I see that one of the default Collections is Read but unowned, so it’s possible that most LT users that also use KU add ebooks read through KU in that collection. The two public LT members (out of 3 total) who have John C. Wright’s Somewhither in their library both have it in their To Be Read collection. Draw whatever conclusions from that you wish.

  31. The argument, from both the Puppies, and the Dragon Awards organizers (the Venn Diagram of which is unknown), is that the Dragon Awards, unlike the Hugos, truly represent ALL the fans, and not just some small minority of fans, and I’m looking at the Dragon Awards Finalists and how they rate on LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Amazon:
    ——————————————-
    Science Fiction
    Somewhither – John C. Wright – 3 LT / 133 GR / 83 A`
    Agent of the Imperium, Marc Miller – 4 LT / 36 GR / 15 A
    The Life Engineered, J-F. Dubeau – 8 LT / 179 GR / 110 A
    Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon – 17 LT / 263 GR / 38 A
    Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson – 471 LT / 8,797 GR / 546 A
    Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie – 658 LT / 12,481 GR / 259 A
    non-finalists:
    Nemesis Games, James S.A. Corey – 315 LT / 14,333 GR / 514 A
    The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood – 803 LT / 20,612 GR / 459 A
    Armada, Ernest Cline – 946 LT / 44,429 GR / 1,821 A
    Golden Son, Pierce Brown – 625 LT / 51,914 GR / 1,818 A
    Seveneves, Neal Stephenson – 1,346 LT / 38,249 GR / 2,645 A
    ——————————————-
    Fantasy Novel
    Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia – 56 LT / 2,309 GR / 272 A
    Blood Hound, James Osiris Baldwin – 3 LT / 36 GR / 33 A
    Changeling’s Island, Dave Freer – 5 LT / 49 GR / 32 A
    Asteroid Made of Dragons, G. Derek Adams – 9 LT / 162 GR / 63 A
    Grave Measures, R.R. Virdi – 0 LT / 90 GR / 44 A
    The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin – 537 LT / 9,052 GR / 222 A
    The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher – 505 LT / 19,284 GR / 1,355 A
    non-finalists:
    Magic Shifts, Ilona Andrews – 309 LT / 16,175 GR / 894 A
    Dead Heat, Patricia Briggs – 411 LT / 16,203 GR / 1,188 A
    Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson– 408 LT / 26,666 GR / 614 A
    A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab – 922 LT / 39,169 GR / 417 A
    The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro – 1,557 LT / 30,587 GR / 863 A
    Uprooted, Naomi Novik – 1,383 LT / 50,727 GR / 1,409 A
    ——————————————-
    Horror
    Souldancer, Brian Niemeier – 1 LT / 15 GR / 12 A
    Honor At Stake, Declan Finn – 4 LT / 46 GR / 44 A
    An Unattractive Vampire, Jim McDoniel – 19 LT / 329 GR / 68 A
    Chapelwood, Cherie Priest – 78 LT / 559 GR / 41 A
    Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, Paul Tremblay – 80 LT / 1,426 GR / 91 A
    Alice, Christina Henry, 212 LT / 6,059 GR / 206 A
    non-finalists:
    Thicker Than Blood, Sheehan/Riley – 64 LT / 1,563 GR / 182 A
    The Last American Vampire– Seth Grahame-Smith – 151 LT / 3,323 GR / 230 A
    The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins – 683 LT / 9,905 GR / 376 A
    Saint, Dean Koontz – 399 LT / 11,876 GR / 2,660 A
    Finders Keepers, Stephen King – 1,171 LT / 46,292 GR / 4,221 A
    ——————————————-
    Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
    Hell’s Foundations Quiver, David Weber – 95 LT / 1,631 GR / 465 A
    Wrath of an Angry God, Gibson Michaels – 0 LT / 26 GR / 12 A
    Allies and Enemies: Fallen, Amy J. Murphy – 8 LT / 181 GR / 84 A
    Blood in the Water, Taylor Anderson – 7 LT / 241 GR / 109 A
    The Price of Valor, Django Wexler – 59 LT / 2,989 GR / 84 A
    Chains of Command, Marko Kloos – 29 LT / 2,635 GR / 573 A
    The End of All Things, John Scalzi – 318 LT / 7,116 GR / 288 A
    non-finalists:
    The Remaining: Allegiance, D.J. Molles – 26 LT / 1,891 GR / 643 A
    The Dread Wyrm, Miles Cameron – 36 LT / 2,279 GR / 99 A
    Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan, Jack Campbell – 87 LT / 2,641 GR / 227 A
    Angles of Attack, Marko Kloos – 63 LT / 5,153 GR / 827 A
    The Autumn Republic, Brian McClellan – 107 LT / 9,674 GR / 241 A
    ——————————————-
    Apocalyptic Novel
    Ctrl Alt Revolt!, Nick Cole – 14 LT / 495 GR / 303 A
    Chasing Freedom, Marina Fontaine – 0 LT / 15 GR / 28 A
    Dark Age, Felix O. Hartmann – 4 LT / 47 GR / 50 A
    A Time to Die, Mark Wandrey – 0 LT / 59 GR / 92 A
    The Desert and the Blade, S.M. Stirling – 41 LT / 560 GR / 185 A
    The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin – 537 LT / 9,052 GR / 222 A
    non-finalists:
    One Year After, William R. Forstchen – 101 LT / 3,864 GR / 1,346 A
    The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins – 683 LT / 9,905 GR / 376 A
    Slade House, David Mitchell – 1,106 LT / 20,958 GR / 377 A
    Seveneves, Neal Stephenson – 1,346 LT / 38,249 GR / 2,645 A
    Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel – 3,491 LT / 152,792 GR / 3,222 A
    ——————————————-

    … and thinking, no, the Dragon Awards this year did not do what you were claiming they would do. Not even close. They mostly ended up being recognition for those pretty-much-unknown authors who could rustle up enough relatives, friends, and extra e-mail addresses to freep themselves onto the ballot (with a great deal of help from DragonCon’s complete lack of promotion).

    I mean, some of those totals are just really embarrassing to the Dragon Awards’ claim of being a popular award. And the fact that the Science Fiction winner isn’t Science Fiction, and the Horror winner isn’t Horror, just embarrasses them even more.

  32. Iphinome on September 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton on September 11, 2016 at 7:56 pm said:
    Worldcon 75
    Worldcon 76
    Worldcon 78
    Worldcon XP
    Worldcon Vista

    Worldcon XP will go on for years with people refusing to leave, the few who do go on to Worldcon Vista will turn around and go back to XP and eventually it’ll take them pushing everyone out and closing the doors before people move on to Worldcon 7 where again they’ll refuse to leave, at which point they’ll be abducted and dropped into Worldcon 10 against their will. They’ll hate Worldcon 10 but discover that that doors are locked and this time they’re being forced to stay.

  33. @JJ

    Great work, you have more patience than me.

    I’m quite surprised at how far below Butcher, Correia was. I assumed it was a moderate gap that could be filled by a bit of extra publicising by Larry, but really his book isn’t in the same popularity league.
    I was also thinking that Weber probably didn’t need a boost, but actually his numbers are in the ballpark of Wexler and Kloos.

    And yeah, in SF the only book less “popular” than Somewhither was VDs other successful nominee, and in Horror Souldancer is 6th out of 6, even beaten out by Declan Finn (go Team Finn!)

    Anyway, this all supposes that pure popularity is a useful basis for a voted award. I mean, if you want to go by sales why not skip the voting public entirely and just ask for audited accounts, plus a points bonus for Movie deals?

  34. @Dawn Incognito
    When I ran it through Word, I believe I got just shy of 20000 words. So I added it to the eligibility spreadsheet under novella.

    Thanks for saving me the steps 🙂 I had saved the link with a note to copy and measure later. So novella it is.

  35. @Bruce A

    Souldancer is a sort of hybrid SF/Horror with a spaceship flying in to Hell, which is actually quite an amusing idea, it’s just the execution that put me off. It’s more that it’s got the least horror (and the lowest popularity) in the category where there were a bunch of what horror fans assure me are solid and popular horror genre choices.

  36. @airboy

    I did mention that GR does give a slightly different picture to LT.

    Basically Amazon is a very poor measure of true popularity IMO and does extremely poorly when it comes to self-published novels (and stuff like Castalia House). In the self-pub realm we know that a number of books are sold to people personally known to the author, these are more likely (through reasons of blood, friendship or acquaintance) IMO to post reviews to Amazon. With Castalia House it is obvious that VD has a proportion of people who will post a review if asked (maybe without reading or owning the book).

    Personally I think it is obvious that a number of the books that got through to the shortlist do not have huge sales (or a large library presence). So the only way that can occur is if there are very few nominations, or there is massive ballot stuffing.

    Technically Wrath of an Angry God by Gibson Michaels doesn’t even seem to be a valid nominee. ISFDB shows it having been published as an ebook in March 2015, and as a paper book in May 2015. The awards page says that the eligibility period is for works released between 7/1/2015 and 6/30/2016.

  37. OpenOffice says Brushwork is 21,492 words. So, still solidly a novella, although the count is a little different from what Word gives. (And thanks for the pointer to it. Powerful story.)

  38. RE Worldcon names: I agree with all those who say that ‘Worldcon + number’ makes it hard to keep track of where and when things were. Date and place make more sense: ‘Worldcon 2017 Helsinki’.

    Regarding the argument that static cons do this all the time, first, the people who are familiar with this are probably not the people who need Worldcon practice explained to them, and second, keeping track of numbers requires more even more inside knowledge than following the localised names does.

    In any case, if a con’s management think the brand of Worldcon itself needs more emphasis, they can just give it more emphasis, without upsetting the tradition. They can call it ‘WORLDCON 2017 [big letters]: Helsincon [small letters]’ or whatever.

  39. Popularity within the fans are not the same as pure sells (unless you define fan as “everybody who buys that book). I doubt Harry Potter or the Hunger games or Divergent were the most popular books within fandom in those years (neither by puppies nor by non-puppies). And many readers of -say St.. Mandels StationEleven ort Ben Eltons Time and Time again wouldnt call themselves SciFi or Fantasy fans. So there is an overlap between those numbers, but they are not the same.
    A popularity contest wouldnt therefor necessary mirror the sales. How well an award does depends on the voting demographic. Of course better known works have a much better chance of succeding than lesser known works, so there will be a causality there. But not a correlation
    Neither Hugo nor Dragon awards “speak” for the whole of fandom, because not everybody votes and anyway, who defines what a fan is? To say “The award X speaks more for the fan” is not easy to proof or dismiss (although voting numbers would give an indication), but imho no award speaks for the whole of fandom anyway…

    Well, I just wanted to warn people not falling into the same trap as the puppies did and arguing that a book cant be popular among fans, if the sells dont match. (I agree howwever, that the numbers imply that the voting numbers were small and easiliy manipulated.. But not more than that, Im afraif)

  40. Defining horror is very hard. My local bookshop puts a motley array of things on the horror shelves (including, last time I checked, The Rabbit Back Literature Society and Slade House – normally considered mainstream – Miss Peregrine’s Home… and The Lie Tree – YA – and, weirdest of all, The Aeronaut’s Windlass – presumably because Butcher’s other books have vampires and things in them, though they, too, are fantasy rather than horror). I get the sense that the core of the genre doesn’t have that much written in it nowadays, so they have to fill it out with adjacent things if they want to keep the category going.

  41. Peer Sylvester:

    Popularity within the fans are not the same as pure sells (unless you define fan as “everybody who buys that book”).

    Well, I think a lot of people do define ‘fan’ in this way; people who criticise the Hugos for not properly representing fans often simply point to the sales figures, and say ‘these show that fans prefer X to Y’. And this is a perfectly legitimate sense of ‘fan’ in plain English; if you like something, you’re a fan of it.

    Of course, if you are interested in representing fans in that sense, it’s not clear DragonCon is the right place to look. The majority of fans, in the sense of people who like SF, aren’t attending cons at all; they are sitting at home reading/watching/playing the stuff.

    (Harry Potter did win a Hugo, by the way, so presumably was the most popular work among at least one section of active fans that year.)

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