Pixel Scroll 4/20/18 A Fool And His Pixels Are Soon Parted

(1) SF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar’s latest Otherworldly book review column for the New York Times covers “Princesses, Priestesses and Time Travel: What’s New in Science Fiction and Fantasy”

What does it mean to retell a story? Does it mean dressing up a familiar tale in different clothes? Reading it against its grain? Replacing parts of a story like boards in a ship, until an old story’s shape is built of entirely new wood? This month, I’m looking at recent books that are all retellings of one sort or another.

(2) EDITORS YOU RECOGNIZE. Amber Troska pays tribute to two editors in “Shaping the Speculative Fiction World: Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling”.

It is difficult to overestimate the tremendous value of editors. The contributions that authors make to their respective fields, and their impact on the readers that encounter their work, can’t be overstated either, of course—but it is equally important to remember that no truly great author goes it alone; there are always strong editors behind the scenes, shaping the individual stories themselves as well as the publishing world at large. The Hugo Awards are named for an editor, after all.

Yet I can count most of the editors I recognize by name on one hand. Even with such a limited group to choose from, only two have had an extremely significant, identifiable impact on me as a reader: Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. I could never hope to cover everything the two have contributed to the publishing world—their careers have stretched too far and are too varied and far-reaching for me to do them full justice. However, there are several projects that are worth looking at in order to appreciate their impact and get a sense of how influential their work has been, and continues to be.

(3) AFRICAN SF EDITORS. From The Minnesota Review: “Editor Interview: Mazi Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu and Chinelo Onwualu of Omenana”.

Mazi Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu and Chinelo Onwualu are co-founders and editors of Omenana, a web-based literary magazine dedicated to publishing speculative/sci-fi/fantasy fiction by African writers. In this interview with Uche Okonkwo, Mazi Chiagozie and Chinelo talk African speculative fiction, life lessons, and writing and publishing as a labour of love.

UCHE OKONKWO: This idea that Africans don’t write sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction is, I believe, part of the reason you started Omenana. Where do you suppose this idea comes/came from and why did/does it persist?

MAZI CHIAGOZIE: I think it comes from that general misconception that Africa is a backward place that hasn’t played any notable role in man’s journey to the stars. So even Africans look at Africa as this place whose people only concern themselves with war, famine, dancing, and procreation. It’s a view that has been propagated for a long time and has now come to offer a copout for people who don’t want to do the work needed to unravel the complexity that is Africa and her varied nations and peoples. We are doing our bit to change the perception, but it continues to persist. And with Wakanda being a fictional place, will continue to persist.

CHINELO ONWUALU: I think the idea that Africans don’t write speculative fiction is born out of the rather racist definitions that limit what speculative fiction is to the sorts of things written by white men in North America and Europe. Thus, when Africans write speculatively, it’s often dismissed as folklore or fable telling.

I feel many of us have adopted this same attitude as part of the deep-seeded practicality that is common with a lot of oppressed groups. Because our systems are so broken – often by colonialist design – we don’t see a lot of value in imaginative endeavours that might divert our energies from the struggle for daily survival. Combined with the devaluation of cultural artefacts like our stories, traditions and beliefs, many of us end up dismissing creative pursuits as wastes of time.

(4) ONCE LESS IN THE BREACH DEAR FRIENDS. David Langford tells about a program Terry Pratchett asked him to write in “The Silicon Critic” at the Milford SF Writers blog

Milford participants often have distinctive personal crotchets when commenting on stories, and John Brunner’s (as I remember from the 1980s) was a particular sensitivity to repetition. Sometimes it seemed that the unintended re-use of a significant word too soon after its last appearance pained him more than a gaping plot hole. The “deliberate repetition for effect” card could be played only so often, especially if you hadn’t noticed the repetition of “repetition” and the fact that it’s now appeared four times in one paragraph.

Terry Pratchett was another author who worried about such things. In 1998 he invited me to write a little Windows application to monitor his own use of favourite words. This, he stipulated, was to be named Bicarb because the idea was to stop you repeating….

(5) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. The Hollywood Reporter picked up the con’s Twitter announcements: “Universal FanCon Suddenly Postponed a Week Before Event”

The Baltimore convention created to celebrate diversity has not been rescheduled.

A week out from its announced debut, organizers have confirmed that Universal Fan Con, the new convention created to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in fandom, will not take place and has been postponed to an as-yet unspecified date.

In a series of tweets, organizers said that they were “devastated to make this postponement decision,” and shared that there is a “contingency plan” for those whose travel to Baltimore next week was already booked and are unable to reschedule their trip.

Although no official reason has yet been given for the sudden postponement — social media accounts for the event were promoting the show as recently as yesterday — a source told Heat Vision that the event “has a financial deficit.” In January, Heat Vision talked to Universal FanCon executive director Robert Butler, who said that the Kickstarter campaign to fund the show had been “a greater success than we could have imagined,” raising twice the amount initially asked for….

One committee member announced her resignation:

One dealer publicized how the cancellation is affecting him financially – start the thread here.

The con committee now has posted a FAQ on their website: http://www.universalfancon.com/. They claim the con will be held at a later date.

Why are you postponing FanCon?

Currently we are in a financial deficit that will not allow us to operate the convention within budget. Accordingly, we have made the decision to postpone and reschedule FanCon so we can put forward the type of event our fans deserve.

Why did you wait so long to postpone the event?

The FanCon team worked really hard up to the last minute to put forward an amazing event. However, it became clear in our last team meeting that we would not be able to deliver the event the fans deserved without more time.

How long will the event be postponed?

Once we are able to fully assess our options, we will make an announcement.

(6) ANDERSON OBIT. Harry Anderson (1952-2018): US actor and writer, died April 16, aged 65. Genre roles include Tales from the Darkside (one episode, 1985), Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme (1990), Tales from the Crypt (one episode, 1990), It (1990), Harvey (1996), Lois & Clark (one episode, 1997), Nightmare Ned (voice for video game, 1997), Noddy (one episode, 1998). He also wrote one 1992 episode of Tales from the Crypt.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born April 20, 1937 – George Takei
  • Born April 20, 1939 – Peter S. Beagle
  • Born April 20, 1964 – Andy Serkis

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lise Andreasen discovered it’s not all play time when you’re a werewolf.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes you will “Share spring rolls with Stoker Award-winning author Elizabeth Massie” in Episode 64 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Elisabeth Massie

It’s time to head to Providence, Rhode Island for the final episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded during this year’s StokerCon, following my Italian lunch with Paul Di Filippo and a Portuguese dinner with Victor LaValle.

This episode I wandered off with one of the con’s Guests of Honor, Elizabeth Massie, for lunch at Apsara, a restaurant which serves up Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine. Massie made her first professional fiction sale 35 years ago, and since then has won two Bram Stoker Awards for the critically acclaimed novels and short stories which followed.

We discussed why Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner is the one to thank for her Stoker Award-winning first novel Sineater, how reading Robert Bloch’s Psycho at a young age was like a knife to her heart, which episode of Twilight Zone scared the crap out of her, why you’ll probably never get to read her Millennium and Law & Order novels, her nearly impossible task of writing one spooky book for each of the 50 states in the U.S, why Kolchak: The Night Stalker was her favorite franchise to play in, the great-great grandfather who cut off his own head with a homemade guillotine, which Dark Shadows secret was only revealed in her tie-in novel, and much more.

(10) NO B5. “J. Michael Straczynski Says With Current Warner Bros. Execs, Babylon 5 Never Going to Happen”Bleeding Cool has the story:

During an extended series of tweets on Thursday evening, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski expressed at length that the award winning science fiction series’ current television rights holder Warner Bros. has no intention of either doing anything with the license themselves, or of letting anyone else do anything with it….

(11) HELP WANTED. Hugo nominee nerds of a feather has put out a call: “New Contributors Wanted: 2018”.

Who we’re looking for: we are looking for people who (1) write well and don’t need extensive copyediting, (b) appreciate our brand of humor, (c) understand and are ready to abide by our established format and scoring system and (d) are otherwise good fits with our voice and style. We are not, however, looking for automatons who agree with the rest of us on anything and everything.

We would also like to note that one of our goals is to feature a diverse range of voices on the topics that matter to us. As such, we encourage writers of all backgrounds to apply.

Caveat: we know lots of you have awesome projects you want everyone to know about, but since these are regular contributor positions, we would like to emphasize that this would not be an appropriate forum to use for promoting that awesomeness (aside from your blogging awesomeness, of course).

(12) WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Here’s a no good very bad article for everyone to disagree with: Olivia Ovenden asks “What’s Going Wrong With Sci-Fi?” at Esquire.

“One of the problems with science fiction,” said Ridley Scott back in 2012 ahead of the release of Prometheus, “is the fact that everything is used up. Every type of spacesuit, every type of spacecraft is vaguely familiar. The corridors are similar, the planets are similar. So what you try to do is lean more heavily on the story and the characters.”

Great science fiction has always done just that. So why have a recent string of releases shown less interest in the story than the spaceships? Is sci-fi a genre in trouble?

(13) PUNCH BROTHERS, PUNCH WITH CARE. Declan Finn says his personal solution would be what Asimov described as “the last resort of the incompetent” — “The John Ringo and ConCarolinas issue”.

I’ve been scratching my head for a while about whether or not I was going to do a blog post for the whole ConCarolinas debacle.

You know, how they told John Ringo that they couldn’t guarantee his safety, etc. THEN the announcement they released about his not attending seemed … poorly managed.

To be honest, I’d never heard of them until this fashla happened. So they made a great first impression on me.

So much so that they convinced to never attend their convention, as a guest or even as just an attendee.

And no, it’s not necessarily “Oh, look what they did to Ringo.”

I am doing something radical. I will take them ENTIRELY AT THEIR WORD that they can’t guarantee the safety of one of their own guests against the angry hordes of Social Justice Zombies.

On THEIR OWN TERMS, I should be concerned to even walk the halls as a regular attendee carrying a John Ringo book. While I have no problem defending myself, I to go conventions to have a good time. I don’t want to spend the majority of the con in cuffs because some dickheads decide “You’re a Ringo fan, therefore you’re [insert cliche lefty insults here]” and therefore I have to beat them senseless.

(14) ERASURE. Sarah A. Hoyt rehashed Sad Puppy history in “Of Conservatives And Conventions” [Internet Archive link] at PJ Media.

…I went over to John Ringo’s page and read about it.  As far as I could tell, a bunch of people on Twitter had been badgering both the con-committee and the other (very leftist) guest about inviting someone who was… what the heck was he?  I don’t know.

In the beginning, the accusation against him was that he was “Puppy Adjacent.”

For those of you wanting to follow this at home, the score card is this: Five years ago, my friend Larry Correia started a movement called Sad Puppies, which was a half joking attempt to get books not of solid leftist bent (not even right wing, just not preachy left) nominated for the Hugo, which used to be one of the most prestigious fan awards in science fiction.

When Larry tired of the game after two years, my friend Brad Torgersen took it over…

Vox Day was a little offended to find that he and the Rabid Puppies have been erased from Hoyt’s version of history — “SJWs in SF: Sad Puppy version” [Internet Archive link.]

I find this rather fascinating for what it omits. The Baen cum Sad Puppies crowd is in an uncomfortable position not terribly different from that of Never Trump and the cuckservatives. They are accustomed to being the sole opposition to the SJWs in science fiction, and viewing themselves as the proper and respectable opposition, so they really don’t know what to do about the Rabid Puppies or the considerably less accommodating opposition that is now represented by Castalia House, Arkhaven, and Dark Legion. Nor do they understand how various trends favor the growth of our influence, in part at their expense.

So, they push a narrative to the public in which we don’t exist, even though without us, Sad Puppies would have remained what it was prior to our involvement, a minor bump in the road that didn’t even require any suppression outside of the usual routine. This is not to say that what they did was not admirable, and indeed, their construction of the Dragon Awards will likely prove to be more significant in the long run than our demolition of the Hugo Awards. I merely observe that their efforts would have been insufficient in our absence.

But unlike the SJW narrative, the Sad Puppy narrative does not harm us at all. I am content to let them push it in peace; after all, they are not the enemy. Right now, we are marshaling our forces and preparing to engage in offensives on multiple fronts, some of which are known and others which will prove to be unexpected….

Let the others trail in our wake at their own pace. As long as they refrain from either attacking us or getting in our way, they are not part of the problem. They are trying to be part of the solution, even if they go about it in different and suboptimal ways.

[Hat tip to Camestros Felapton.]

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in Stems, Scottish animator Ainslie Henderson shows how he takes found objects and turns them into stop-motion animation.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, ULTRAGOTHA, Steve Green, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mark Hepworth, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]

133 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/20/18 A Fool And His Pixels Are Soon Parted

  1. @Greg Hullender
    Echoing JJ and Meredith, even if it’s long, Ringo’s document really should be read in its entirety. He truly was the panelist from hell at that con – the sort of panelist no one, who ever moderated a panel (and we’ve both been moderators at WorldCon 75) wants to have to deal with.

    What is more, I have heard from others who were on panels with Ringo that his behaviour hasn’t improved in the intervening twelve years.

  2. All of which has been said multiple times on various threads here and on Twitter (edit: probably Facebook, too). You nevertheless prefer to jump to the conclusion that this is an overreaction and a false accusation. Why is that?

  3. Robert D Ries: I am curious: Is your misquote of Declan Finn intentional, or simply incompetence? Because the omitted “in self defense” gives the statement an entirely different tone and meaning.

    I am curious: In your universe, is it legal and morally acceptable to commit serious assault (aka “beat someone senseless”) because someone says something you don’t like?

    Also, before you make an accusation of misquoting, it’s always a good idea to check Google Cache or the Wayback Machine to see whether the person you’re defending has made you look foolish and incompetent by changing their post to add words which weren’t originally there. Bless your heart. 😀

  4. Pingback: Tool Talk | File 770

  5. @Cora

    He truly was the panelist from hell at that con – the sort of panelist no one, who ever moderated a panel (and we’ve both been moderators at WorldCon 75) wants to have to deal with.

    I hear you on that. I had one panel where a panelist tried to take over, so I know exactly how that feels. If those were the people complaining about him, I’d feel his exclusion was 100% justified.

    What is more, I have heard from others who were on panels with Ringo that his behaviour hasn’t improved in the intervening twelve years.

    Thanks. That’s good information. And, from what I read of the 38-page document, it doesn’t surprise me.

    Trouble is, all that shows is that he was a bad guy and the con is better off without him. It doesn’t show that that’s why they kicked him out. Everything posted before he was kicked out seems to have been about his politics. This other stuff only came up after the fact. It looks like the excuse, not the reason.

    “We found out later he really was guilty” doesn’t justify the actions of a lynch mob. Not in my book, anyway. The ends don’t justify the means.

    Of course I suppose it’s entirely possible that the original complaints really were purely political (and hence, in my view, unworthy) but that once that happened, the flood gates opened and everyone he’d ever ticked off on a panel (or in an audience) rose up and made worthy complaints about his behavior, and that those are what actually got him kicked out. That’d be a very fine answer, if there were any way to prove it. The reaction of the con chair isn’t encouraging, though.

  6. Greg Hullender: Everything posted before he was kicked out seems to have been about his politics. This other stuff only came up after the fact. It looks like the excuse, not the reason.

    This is blatantly untrue. Since, by your own admission, you haven’t been following along, you should refrain from making such ridiculous claims.

  7. @Meredith

    My name isn’t spelt like that.

    Sorry about that! People misspell my name all the time, so I know how it feels. I usually copy/paste it to avoid doing that. Not sure how I screwed it up. Sorry about that.

    When there’s a 38-page document skimming the beginning probably isn’t going to give you the whole picture.

    The thing is, though, even if he confessed to murder in the document, it doesn’t matter if that wasn’t why they kicked him out. I learned enough to know the con is probably better off without him. But I don’t think a twelve-year-old document is why they did it.

    Hope that makes sense.

  8. @JJ

    This is blatantly untrue. Since, by your own admission, you haven’t been following along, you should refrain from making such ridiculous claims.

    Then prove me wrong. I hunted and hunted. Find me something I can use, and I’ll use it. It’s not just to satisfy my curiosity.

  9. @Greg Hullender: You seem to be coming in after the discussion’s died down, but without catching up. It’s no one’s job to do it for you, just like it’s not your job to do it for whoever you’re talking with “on the other side.” If you take that job on, great – I’m skeptical they will listen honestly, whoever they are – but still: no one’s job to rehash it all for you.

    As far as the con’s reasons for dropping Ringo or whatever else they said, ISTM you can find their explanations (weak sauce that it is) and you can read the discussion here about that. So, go do it!

    But expecting folks to speak for them, or explain them, or rehash a discussion that’s already died down seems unreasonable, IMNSHO.

  10. @JJ:

    My intent is not to defend Ringo as a “very fine person” whose presence at Convention X should be utterly noncontroversial. Instead, I’m observing that since he’s been a panelist at ConCarolinas at least once within the last decade, he should be a “known quantity” for the concom, many of the regular panelists, and most of the audience. His politics and behavior should not be a surprise to them.

    That – the depiction of a mass “so shocked” reaction by the ConCarolinas community – is what appears overstated to me. I don’t blame anyone for deciding they didn’t want to share a convention with him, especially if they’re new to ConCarolinas. What I question is where the bulk of those objections are coming from.

    Are the opinions (on all sides) valid? Sure. Is this a loud controversy that deserves attention? Definitely. Are the objections widespread among the actual congoers? That’s the part I question. I may be mistaken, but my gut feeling is that no, they’re not coming from a large proportion of ConCarolinas folks. I seriously doubt that the con I attended eight years ago has changed so completely.

    It’s easy for the online community to take up arms on both sides of this… but most of us wouldn’t be attending the con no matter what. (I certainly wouldn’t. It’s about five hours away, I don’t have the money, and making that trip is too physically painful. Even to see Seanan again.) We’re not part of the ConCarolinas community, and our opinions may not match theirs. I have no doubt that people on all sides of this issue have gotten plenty of flak online – but how much of that flak is from people whose opinions are irrelevant to the con because there’s no chance they would have attended in the first place?

    That’s one reason that I haven’t given an opinion on what the con should or shouldn’t have done. It’s the same reason I don’t keep tabs on who the guests are at WisCon or LibertyCon or Dragon Con this year: I can’t attend, so my feelings are irrelevant to them. Similarly, nobody cares about my opinions in the local GOP primary, because I voted in the Democratic primary instead. Nothing any of the GOP primary candidates did or said to influence my opinion had any effect on whether they won or lost.

  11. Greg Hullender: Then prove me wrong. I hunted and hunted. Find me something I can use, and I’ll use it. It’s not just to satisfy my curiosity.

    Then do your effing research. It’s been going on for 12 days now. I don’t believe that you “hunted and hunted”, because if you truly had, you would have found plenty of evidence that the objections are about his behavior at cons.

    Search for “Ringo” on Facebook, and look for posts which appeared right after his announcement as Special Guest.
    Here’s the date/time stamp for their Facebook announcement:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/concarolinas/permalink/10157019515069460

    Search for “Ringo” on Twitter, and look for posts which appeared right after his announcement as Special Guest.
    Here’s the date/time stamp for their Twitter announcement:
    https://twitter.com/concarolinas/status/983446978326679557

    And don’t just read the tweets and posts. Read the things which they link to.

    Bear in mind that the ConCarolinas chair removed all of the comments made on their wall regarding Ringo’s past bad behavior, and made what appeared to be veiled threats to rescind without refund the memberships of those who were posting complaints. And that a number of women who posted about it have had to make their comments/ accounts private because of subsequent harrassment and threats by Ringo’s sycophants.

    This comment came from a blog post Mike linked to in
    John Ringo’s Selection as ConCarolinas Guest Sparks Controversy:
    A very dear friend of mine felt so emotionally threatened over this announcement that she has withdrawn her attendance. I completely understand her decision, because this wouldn’t be her first racism rodeo, were it to happen. Her action was based on previous personal experiences with this person. It’s not arbitrary or unjustified.

    Here’s a comment from me, made more than a week ago, talking about the comments which I’d been seeing from Facebook friends who were reporting having been harassed by Ringo on con panels in the past.

    The problem isn’t his politics, it’s the way he expresses his political and social views (and oh, yeah, his flaming MISOGYNY) in such a hostile and aggressive manner on panels at cons, which makes other panelists and audience members feel attacked and harassed.

  12. Rev. Bob: I’m observing that since he’s been a panelist at ConCarolinas at least once within the last decade, he should be a “known quantity” for the concom, many of the regular panelists, and most of the audience. His politics and behavior should not be a surprise to them. That – the depiction of a mass “so shocked” reaction by the ConCarolinas community – is what appears overstated to me.

    I see that he was there in 2010 — almost a decade ago — when Jerry Pournelle was GoH. Right there, you’re going to have a number of people who self-selected out of that con.

    What’s changed in the intervening 8 years?
    1) Ringo has appeared on yet more panels, at more conventions
    2) some — some — women and people of colour have come to believe that they just might be believed, and action taken, when they talk about the harassment they’ve had to endure.

    The world, and fandom, are a hell of a lot different now than they were 8 years ago.

  13. @JJ: “Right there, you’re going to have a number of people who self-selected out of that con.”

    You’re making a big assumption about their local community which may or may not be correct, but is definitely unsupported.

    When I went, I saw several people I know from LibertyCon. Sarah Hoyt has described the con as Baen-friendly. If I remember correctly, it’s one of the conventions David Weber frequents.

    On what grounds do you conclude that a large portion of this convention’s regular attendees saw Pournelle on the 2010 lineup and opted out?

  14. Greg: If you have missed that 38 age document, despite it having been linked to nunerous times, it is clear you have missed a lot of the debate.

    So it might be an idea to not start digging a very deep hole by talking abiut “crying wolf”.

  15. Greg:

    “Trouble is, all that shows is that he was a bad guy and the con is better off without him. It doesn’t show that that’s why they kicked him out.”

    You do know that he wasn’t kicked out? Not in any way? The con said they couldn’t guarantee he would have a good time and that peiole wouldn’t react negatively to his precense. So he declined to come.

    There was no “kicking” involved.

  16. Rev. Bob: You’re making a big assumption about their local community which may or may not be correct, but is definitely unsupported… On what grounds do you conclude that a large portion of this convention’s regular attendees saw Pournelle on the 2010 lineup and opted out?

    Nope, no assumption there, and no grounds, because that’s not what I said or concluded.

    In 2010, people who were looking for nearby conventions to attend, if they looked at ConCarolinas’ lineup, might have said, “Cool! I’d love to see Pournelle!” or they might have said, “Meh, Pournelle’s not really my thing, I’ll look for another con to attend”. Pournelle fans who don’t normally attend ConCarolinas might have decided to attend because he was GoH. Most of those fans would have likely not had any objection to Ringo’s presence.

    In 2018, people who were looking for nearby conventions to attend, if they looked at ConCarolinas’ lineup, might have said, “Cool! I’d love to see Seanan McGuire!” — or they might have been big Seanan McGuire fans who saw her posts on social media that she was going to be Guest of Honor there, and thought, “That’s pretty close to me, it would be awesome if I can arrange to attend.” (And I am sure that she also has a decent contingent of fans who just go to as many of the cons where she’s a GoH as they can, regardless of where those cons are located.)

    Is it hardly surprising that a lot of ConCarolinas’ registered guests this year would have been people who found sympatico the work of a really popular, queer woman author — who were then shocked and put off when someone who is notorious for behaving badly toward women and minorities at cons was named a Special Guest?

    How many regular attendees of ConCarolinas had opted not to attend this year because a queer progressive woman is GoH? I am sure that there were some. Is it possible — even likely — that the con chair asked some of those people why they weren’t registering to attend, and got the response “meh, your guest list doesn’t appeal to me”? Is it possible — even likely — that the con got complaints from regulars because they didn’t like the choice of GoH? Is it possible that the late addition of Ringo was an attempt by the con chair to address that?

    Yes, regional cons have a certain local fan base of members who attend every year. But there will also be a contingent of members who attend any given con solely based on who the headliners are. And Seanan McGuire is wildly popular, especially with women and the LGBTQ community, she lives on the West Coast, and the majority the cons at which she’s a guest are western and midwestern cons (with a smattering of northeastern cons). Her list of appearances in the last 10 years doesn’t show any cons in NC, SC, VA, KY, MS, or AL, and only one each in TN, FL, and GA. So there would probably have been a sizable contingent of people who had planned to attend ConCarolinas this year, expecting (rightly or not), a woman-friendly and LBGTQ-friendly atmosphere.

    Would the announcement of Ringo’s appearance have been a cold bucket of water in those peoples’ faces? Hell yes.

  17. What JJ said about why, and what everyone said about not doing someone’s homework for them. You can’t set yourself up as some sort of authority on the topic and come in two weeks late going “WRONG!”, or deciding that your feelings about the con outweigh other people’s.

    Not to mention the people who’ve suggested that it’s an overreaction tend to be distinctly different from the people who actually had the reaction in either racial or gender classification, or both. It’s not a good look.

    It’s not as bad as getting histrionic that you voluntarily withdrew from a convention because you having a 100% fun time couldn’t be guaranteed, or as bad as being proud that you’re openly rude to people you consider “lesser”, or not understanding that other people don’t like to be reduced to rude names for their body parts, but we endeavor to be a little better than that around here.

  18. Why do people who are terrified of witch hunts always want to protect the poor conservative misogynists and racists from being stopped from making personal appearances, yet never seem to notice or react to the reports of harassment, deletions and threats by that person’s followers against his critics? Or if they do, it’s a wave of “Of course, that’s bad too… but”

  19. @Rev. Bob

    Are the objections widespread among the actual congoers? That’s the part I question. I may be mistaken, but my gut feeling is that no, they’re not coming from a large proportion of ConCarolinas folks. I seriously doubt that the con I attended eight years ago has changed so completely.

    That’s a great point. This is the real “man-bites-dog” part of the whole story. Why the heck did ConCarolinas care what us “SJWs” think?

    That’s probably the single most convincing argument for why it wasn’t about his politics. Most of them probably agree with his politics. There had to be some other reason that enough people wanted him gone to push him out. As Cora implied earlier, if I were on a panel with someone who behaved the way he did (as described in his own words), I’d probably hate the man forever–no matter what his politics were.

    Okay, I think that’s enough to make a coherent counter-argument, even in the absence of a link to convincing evidence that that was what people complained to the con about. Thanks, everyone who helped.

  20. Lenora Rose: Why do people who are terrified of witch hunts always want to protect the poor conservative misogynists and racists from being stopped from making personal appearances, yet never seem to notice or react to the reports of harassment, deletions and threats by that person’s followers against his critics? Or if they do, it’s a wave of “Of course, that’s bad too… but”

    There are really two reasons for that. The obvious one is lack of empathy for the misfortunes of people they don’t like. The second is that we are in a social milieu that esteems writers/creators over fans, and fans don’t assign the same weight to attacks on (or other problems involving) their fellow fans. “You’re only a fan” is always at the back of people’s minds.

  21. @JJ: “Yes, regional cons have a certain local fan base of members who attend every year. But there will also be a contingent of members who attend any given con solely based on who the headliners are.”

    And of those two populations, which do you suppose is the bigger one that the con cares most about keeping happy? The perennials, or the people that are only there to see a specific guest? In my experience, cons – especially of this small-to-middlin’ size – want to keep their base happy and attract some new people who might like the event enough to become regulars. The people who only come for Guest X… well, they’re nice for a boost in the coffers, but you can’t afford to make decisions which please them at the expense of your core audience. That’d be an easy way to commit organizational seppuku.

    Or, in simpler terms: WisCon could possibly attract a substantial population of one-timers by inviting a slate of Puppy guests, but they’d alienate their existing population in the process. Such a move would be suicidal. Ditto for LibertyCon picking a bunch of progressive guests. (True story: In a concom meeting for LibertyCon, I once pointed out that they didn’t invite many progressive/liberal guests. Their answer was to cite Eric Flint… one lefty who writes for Baen and is thus palatable to their core audience. No others need apply.)

    Local conventions develop a flavor over time as they gather a core of attendees. That core is the lifeblood of their existence. Adding to and even diversifying it is nice, particularly as humans have this nasty tendency to age and die, but there’s an art to doing so. You have to be careful not to drive your base away by chasing the new hotness. As has been said so many times in so many contexts, know your audience.

    Is it possible — even likely — that the con got complaints from regulars because they didn’t like the choice of GoH? Is it possible that the late addition of Ringo was an attempt by the con chair to address that?

    Quite possible, in my estimation.

    From my experience with LibertyCon, “Special Guest” was used as a way to bump a regular or frequent panelist up from “attending pro” to “named guest,” usually as a way to thank them and recognize them for their support of the convention. I can’t say for certain that ConCarolinas does it the same way, but Timmy (founder of LC) was there the year I went and has had an organizational impact on several of the cons in this region. It’s certainly possible that Ringo was such a choice, particularly in the scenario you describe.

    So there would probably have been a sizable contingent of people who had planned to attend ConCarolinas this year, expecting (rightly or not), a woman-friendly and LBGTQ-friendly atmosphere.

    Probably? Sizable? There you go making assumptions again. Sure, I’ll admit that I’m making some assumptions myself, but I’ve attended the convention. I at least have that non-theoretical knowledge to draw on when making reasoned estimations.

    Speaking of, here’s a possibility for your consideration: how much did ConCarolinas know about her (as a person) when they invited her? Look purely at her resume, from the perspective of a fairly conservative concom, and what do you see? Nominated for multiple Hugos, has two long-running urban fantasy series, and writes well-regarded horror under a pen name. Sounds like a good guest – put her on the invite list and see if she accepts.

    Now, note that nowhere in that description does anything about her sexuality or politics appear. I’m not saying those factors definitely came as a surprise to the concom… only that the possibility exists. If that’s in fact what happened, the late invitation/elevation of Ringo as Special Guest suddenly makes a lot more sense. She accepts the invitation, gets announced, the concom gets some unexpected rumblings from their base, and rather than disinvite her, they look for a way to course-correct and reassure their base by inviting a known One Of Us conservative… a move which then sparks its own controversy.

    I wasn’t in the room, so I can’t say it definitely happened that way – but it’s a hypothesis that fits the facts as I know them. It’s unsettlingly plausible.

  22. I don’t think we know how the attendees reacted to Ringo’s announcement (or McGuire’s). What we do know is that they were losing a lot of guests, and those guests combined probably added up to more overall worth than Ringo alone. You need some depth and breadth to put together good panels.

    Anecdotally, the people I’ve seen complaining about his cancellation were saying things along the lines of “I was considering attending for the first time because of him and now I won’t” rather than “as a long-time attendee, I’m disappointed he’s no longer attending” – but that might be the most typical audience-appeal breakdown for any reasonably well-known author. Conventions are always a fairly small part of the fandom population.

    Of course, none of that is part of what we know of the concom’s (or at least the convention chair’s) reasoning, which seems to be more along the lines of assuming that people who have decided to no longer attend will somehow nonetheless be a physical danger to a guest. Hell if I know how they got to that conclusion. Paranoia?

    That they don’t care about the pros and fans being harassed because they chose not to attend is… Well. I think Mike covered that rather well. I will just add that I find it unpleasant to witness such blatant double-standards.

  23. @Rev. Bob: It wasn’t the attendees cancelling that was the problem. It was the panelists cancelling that started the panic.

  24. Rev. Bob: And of those two populations, which do you suppose is the bigger one that the con cares most about keeping happy?

    Was there ever any question about that?

     
    Rev. Bob: There you go making assumptions again. Sure, I’ll admit that I’m making some assumptions myself, but I’ve attended the convention. I at least have that non-theoretical knowledge to draw on when making reasoned estimations.

    Not “again” — as I pointed out, your original claims about my assumptions were incorrect. And there is plenty of non-theoretical knowledge behind my assumptions, it’s just not the same as yours.

     
    Rev. Bob: Speaking of, here’s a possibility for your consideration: how much did ConCarolinas know about her (as a person) when they invited her?

    Yes, that was part of my point. Did you actually read what I wrote?

    I remember being really puzzled that ConCarolinas had asked McGuire to be GoH in the first place, because of what I knew of the personality of the con. I think that when they invited her, they only knew that she was wildly popular, and didn’t do any real background on her to understand the demographics of her fan base — and that they had no idea just what a rabid fan following McGuire has, how many people would be willing to show up to their con who had never before attended, purely because she was the GoH and it was an extremely rare appearance for her in the southeastern U.S.

    I think that at first they were thrilled with all of the additional attendees — without quite realizing the demographics of those attendees — and then dismayed when they realized that a solid contingent of regulars wasn’t going to come because of how their choice of GoH would change the tenor of the con through its attendees. And I think that adding Ringo as a Special Guest was an attempt to try to bring those regulars back to the con.

  25. I think a lot of y’all are overthinking this. From what I know of the running of ConCarolinas in the past they had feelers out all over and McGuire was the biggest fish to bite. And at least some of the people involved know who she is.

    Then sometime later they got together and looked over who was coming and saw a lack of Baen (the hometown publisher) and somebody said they could get Ringo so he became a special guest.

    Actually I am amazed at how restrained the response of the Con has been. Someone has been running around with muzzles and lion taming whips.

  26. It does seem that the number of panelists who were bailing was the important factor. They could certainly get by without a one-time batch of Seanan fan attendees who aren’t local, but the locals aren’t going to think much of them if the panels are sparsely populated, same-old same-old, or just Ringo bloviating by himself.

    Local folks are willing to skip a year if the panels look dull. They might come to the bar and restaurant to see their pals, but those people come in for one day, don’t stay in the room block, don’t shop the hucksters. Hucksters get mad if the locals don’t stay to shop. Hotels get mad and charge the con if they don’t make room nights. Locals might downgrade to a one-day membership to see friends instead of the whole weekend even if they do buy. And people who were on the fence might decide not to drive a day and pay expenses if there’s nothing they’re interested in.

    Me and mine have done all those things over the years. We’ve also packed up with 48 hours’ notice and driven all day to get to a con when it looked good.

    @Magewolf: If the con chair’s response has been “restrained”, I’d hate to see them unrestrained.

    That attitude is putting off at least as many, if not more, people than the Ringo invite and decline. Insulting and ignoring the people who expressed questions about the con’s atmosphere* and decided they *might* vote with their feet is not good. Neither is privileging pros over fen.

    *Metaphorical. I’m sure it’s literally 78% N, 21% O, 1% trace gases.

  27. @ Lurkertype

    I just meant that I am sure a fair number of the Con staff see this as controversy ginned up by outsiders trying to run their Con. I would not have been surprised if they had told everyone who did not like it to go run their own Con and see how long it lasted.

    Not very constructive but there are some people with tempers involved. And I am sure they see this as an attack.

  28. That sounds a bit worse then I meant it to. I just mean that they see the Con as their baby. If it had been people getting worked up at McGuire being GoH I think they would reacted just as strongly.

  29. Magewolf: I just mean that they see the Con as their baby.

    And rightly so. Unfortunately, the pervasiveness of social media means that kerfuffles which were previously isolated to a relatively-small part of fandom are now wide open to everyone.

    It’s also my impression that guest invitation choices were not necessarily made by the entire concom, but by one or two people — which means that committee members are likely being hauled up to answer for things over which they had no control.

    It will be interesting to see who ConCarolinas chooses as headliners during the next 2 or 3 years.

  30. JJ, it may or may not be representative, but as a member of a concom whose duties have nothing to do with the guests, I can tell you I find out who the Guests Of Honor are… when the Chair announces them to the committee.

  31. Cons vary on that. WisCon chooses GOHs by vote of the entire concom (and anyone can nominate), but I suspect it’s more common for the con chair or executive committee for the year in question to pick.

    Time machine active still, I see. I am glad to hear noisy birds still in 3868.

  32. @Rev Bob

    POC and women panelists and guests have cancelled plans this year because us marginalized people don’t have to stand for being around abusive harassers anymore. I know you’ve been following the threads but the further this conversation continues the less you seem to remember the original panelists who backed out and why. The guests and panelists this year have more knowledge about why they canceled which is what led to Ringo deciding he wouldn’t have fun and canceling his attendance. He believes the convention has changed greatly in the years since you both last attended. The people weighing in whom I’m counting were going to be attendees this year. No I haven’t gone through their profiles in detail to see it they’ve previously attended but at the time of their acceptance Ringo was NOT on the list of panelists or special guests.

  33. @Tasha:

    I haven’t discussed panelist withdrawal because I do not know whether they are perennials or first-timers. That makes a difference in this situation, and I don’t want to speak from ignorance.

    I mean, the scenario where regularly-attending panelists jump ship due to Ringo’s addition is quite different from one where first-time panelists who signed on due to McGuire’s presence did so. I’m certainly curious about which is closest to reality, but I don’t know and it would be irresponsible of me to speculate.

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