Pixel Scroll 7/13/16 Scroll on the Water, Fire in the Sky

(1) YOUTUBER PAYOLA? ScienceFiction.com headlined that “The FTC Has Proven That Warner Brothers Has Paid YouTubers For Positive Reviews”.

In some not so awesome news, Warner Brothers was caught buying off YouTubers to give them positive reviews of their video games. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released details that the company was working with some of the most influential YouTubers out there to provide positive reviews of their games, film gameplay footage that worked around bugs and hype sales numbers that all ignored criticism of the titles they were being paid to look at. Oh, and they of course never disclosed that they were being paid to do this which is against the law. **

While this is currently limited to video games, one has to wonder if it may extend to films as well.

Most damning though is that Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, or PewDiePew as he is known to millions of ‘Let’s Play’viewers was involved as well. PewDiePew is the highest watched YouTube celebrity in gaming circles and had an undisclosed agreement to provide positive press for ‘Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor’ when it was released….

** According to Washington Post reporter Andrea Peterson, the notices that they were paid endorsers of the game appeared in fine print no one read. The FTC settlement says that paid endorsers have to reveal in non-fine print that that they have been paid by game manufacturers.

(2) PAUL AND STORM CONCERT AT MACII. The comedic musical duo Paul and Storm will perform in concert at MidAmeriCon II on Thursday.

MidAmeriCon II is delighted to announce that comedic musical duo Paul and Storm will be appearing at the convention. They will be live in concert at 12 Noon on Thursday, August 18, and interacting with members throughout the convention in the MidAmeriCon II Dealers’ Room.

Paul and Storm (Paul Sabourin and Greg “Storm” DiCostanzo) are known internationally and across the Internet for their original comedy music and vaudeville style shows (mostly with a nerdish bent). They also co-founded the geek variety show “w00tstock” (along with Wil Wheaton and Adam Savage) which has toured across America since 2009, and co-produce the annual JoCo Cruise (www.jococruise.com).

The duo’s original webseries musical, LearningTown, debuted on YouTube’s Geek & Sundry channel in January 2013. In the same year, their song “Another Irish Drinking Song” was featured in the movie Despicable Me 2, while their guitar was memorably smashed on stage by George R.R. Martin. Their fifth full-length CD, Ball Pit, came out in 2014, and was the central item of the duo’s successful Kickstarter campaign.

Paul and Storm have a long history of bringing well known personalities on stage during their shows – and with this being their first Worldcon appearance, they will have an exceptionally broad range of writers, editors, artists and other genre names to choose from. Members can look forward to a memorable and entertaining concert, full of “mature immaturity” (NPR).

More information on Paul and Storm can be found on their website at www.paulandstorm.com.

(3) CHARITY AT SDCC. NBC Los Angeles covers Comic-Con charitable events including the Heinlein Blood Drive:

The annual Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive returns to the mega pop culture convention for its 40th go-around. Billed as “the San Diego Blood Bank’s longest-running event,” the Comic-Con blood drive has collected “16,652 pints of blood” over its four-decade history.

Talk about superheroes. Want to give? Head for Grand Hall D at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

Once you’ve given your pint, and you want to look for more ways to lend a hand, consider two off-site traditions that, while not affiliated officially with the convention, still keep ties to its cape-wearing themes and charitable heart.

The Heroes Brew Fest raises money each year for Warrior Foundation — Freedom Station. Yep, you can wear your costume, yep, you’ll drink nice beer, and yep, you’ll need to zoom through the clouds from the convention center, or at least catch a ride, to San Diego’s Waterfront Park on Saturday, July 23.

Earlier in the day the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Pawmicon returns, though don’t head for Rancho Santa Fe, the home of the center. The “Cosplay for a Cause” — think furry pumpkins in their “Star Wars” and superhero best — is happening at the Hazard Center in the late morning.

(4) BLOOD OF PATRIOTS. There was also a Blood Drive at LibertyCon – Lou Antonelli says that’s where he met Jason Cordova, one of many first encounters mentioned in his con report.

(5) AUTO CRASH. I found Brad Templeton’s “Understanding the huge gulf between the Tesla Autopilot and a real robocar, in light of the crash” to be very helpful.

It’s not surprising there is huge debate about the fatal Tesla autopilot crash revealed to us last week. The big surprise to me is actually that Tesla and MobilEye stock seem entirely unaffected. For many years, one of the most common refrains I would hear in discussions about robocars was, “This is all great, but the first fatality and it’s all over.” I never believed it would all be over, but I didn’t think there would barely be a blip.

There’s been lots of blips in the press and online, of course, but most of it has had some pretty wrong assumptions. Tesla’s autopilot is a distant cousin of a real robocar, and that would explain why the fatality is no big deal for the field, but the press shows that people don’t know that.

Tesla’s autopilot is really a fancy cruise control. It combines several key features from the ADAS (Advance Driver Assist) world, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and forward collision avoidance, among others. All these features have been in cars for years, and they are also combined in similar products in other cars, both commercial offerings and demonstrated prototypes….

(6) JOE HILL’S DAD. Boston.com reports, “Library of Congress to recognize Stephen King for his lifelong work”.

Stephen King—Maine native, horror author, and hater of Fenway’s “protective netting”—will get a new title this fall: Library of Congress honoree.

King is set to open the main stage of the 2016 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., where the Library will recognize the author for his lifelong work promoting literacy, according to a release.

Since his first published novel, Carrie, in 1974, King has written more than 50 novels and hundreds of short stories, according to his website.

The festival takes place Saturday, September 24. Authors Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shonda Rhimes, Bob Woodward, Raina Telgemeier, and Salman Rushdie will also appear on the main stage.

(7) JUNO SHOOTS THE MOONS. IFLScience has the story behind Juno’s first image of Jupiter and its moons from orbit.

This image, taken on July 10, proves that the camera has survived the pass through Jupiter’s intense radiation, meaning it can start taking stunning high-resolution shots in the next few weeks. The camera (called JunoCam) itself has no scientific purpose, but will be used to engage the public with images of the gas giant. You can even vote online for what it takes pictures of.



(8) FUNNY PAGES. A popular fantasy work is referenced in the July 13 Wizard of Id comic strip.


  • Born July 13, 1940 — Patrick Stewart (age 76)
  • Born July 13, 1942  — Harrison Ford (age 74)

(10) LIVING UNOFFENDED. Maggie Hogarth, SFWA VP, was moved by Cat Rambo’s post yesterday (“SFWA Is Not a Gelatinous Cube”) to make a point about personal growth. The comments are very good, too.

I wanted to call out specifically her comment about having been pleased to recruit me specifically because I’m a conservative writer. When she suggests that we work well together because of our sometimes opposing perspectives, I think she’s entirely correct. It’s not that we talk politics specifically (though unfortunately, sometimes our jobs as officers require us to)… it’s that our beliefs give us oblique approaches to things, and consulting each other helps us find our own weaknesses and blind spots.

This is not a new thing for me. I have always worked in arenas that are overwhelmingly colonized by people of opposing political viewpoints (hello, Art, Academia). The knowledge that I would have to find a way to work with people who believed stuff I found strange, wrong-headed, or toxic is so old by now that I don’t even think about it. But it’s interesting to me that the people who are in the majority in any arena often seem to be offended at the thought that they should have to deal with people who disagree with them. At the university, I have brought up lots of professors short who were upset that I didn’t think they were right. One of them even asked me what I was doing there, which was… frankly bizarre. (Broadening my mind, maybe? By grappling with ideas I don’t necessarily agree with?)

Here then is my takeaway from living as a political minority in the workplace all my life: unless you’re in a group devoted specifically to a political cause you agree with, you cannot expect to be protected from people who don’t share your beliefs. Inevitably someone will tell me that this is an invitation to abuse and cruelty, as if there can be no disagreement without extremism. Reject this false dichotomy. People who don’t share your beliefs aren’t all heartless criminals who long to see you hurt. They just… don’t agree with you.

(11) TAKING THE TEST. Rambo and Hogarth have also publicized their vocabulary quiz results.

Rambo Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.37.22 PM

(12) SCALZI BREAKS THE SPELL. Don’t expect John Scalzi to be posting a quiz score.

No risk of my relitigating my SAT results. I can personally assure John you’ll never see me embarrassing myself by reporting results from an internet math quiz. I did just enough on the math side of the SAT to keep that from sandbagging what I did on the verbal side and get a California State Scholarship. (However, if someone knows a link to an online math quiz the rest of you might enjoy it….)

(13) TIMOTHY BREAKS THE QUIZ. Camestros Felapton published Timothy the Talking Cat’s score plus Timothy’s interpretation of all his test answers.

(14) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE THESAURUS. If there’s anyone who should score high on a vocabulary test it’s John C. Wright – and he did.

My score was 30500, also in the top 0.01% Albeit there was one word I did not know, and guessed.

I am going to the dictionary to look it up, and then I am going to use it three times correctly within the next 24 hours.

I was once told that is the way to accumulate a large and handsome vocabulary.

(15) COMICS HUGO. Nicholas Whyte has posted “My Hugo and #RetroHugos1941 votes: Best Graphic Story”.

It’s really striking that two years ago, it was impossible to find enough comics from 1938 to populate the Retro Hugo category – we gave a Special Committee Award to Superman instead – but this year there is a wealth of 1940 material to choose from. Having said that, there’s not in fact a lot of variety; with one exception, the 1941 Retro Hugo finalists are origin stories of costumed crime-fighters

(16) TASTE TEST. Joe Sherry continues his series at Nerds of a Feather, “Reading the Hugos: Novella”.

Today we continue with our Hugo Award coverage with a look at the Novella category. There are not many categories on this year’s ballot which lines up so well with my nomination ballot, but this is one of them. Of the five nominees, I nominated three of them: Binti, The Builders, and Slow Bullets. Naturally, I am happy that the three of them made the cut. If I had the power to add just one more story to this category, I would have loved to have seen Matt Wallace’s wonderful Envy of Angels make the list. That was a fantastic story and everyone should read it. Since people tend not to fully agree with my taste in fiction, let’s take a look at what is actually on the final ballot.

(17) FROM THERE WILL BE WAR. Lisa Goldstein reviews “Novelette: ‘What Price Humanity?’”, a Hugo-nominee, at inferior4+1.

And here we are at the third story from There Will Be War, “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke.  It’s the best of the three, though unfortunately that’s pretty faint praise.  An infodump at the beginning tells us that aliens called Meme (Meme? Really?) are attacking from the outer Solar System, and that when the Meme’s reinforcements come, every decade or so, EarthFleet suffers catastrophic losses.  Captain Vango Markis wakes up in Virtual Reality, having suffered what he thinks is a bad hit, and meets other officers he’s served with, some of whom he remembers as having died.  They find flight simulators, and go on practice runs.

(18) LEVINE HIP-HOPS FOR ARABELLA OF MARS. Science fiction writer David D. Levine performs a hip-hop theme song, based on the opening number of “Hamilton,” for his Regency Interplanetary Airship Adventure novel “Arabella of Mars.”

…Every day she was learning posture and Latin
But every night she and her brother would batten
Down the hatches, hit the desert, going trackin’ and whackin’
Her brother backtrackin’, their Martian nanny was clackin’…

The rest of the lyrics are under “Show More” here. Arabella of Mars was released by Tor on July 12.

Arabella Ashby is a Patrick O’Brian girl in a Jane Austen world — born and raised on Mars, she was hauled back home by her mother, where she’s stifled by England’s gravity, climate, and attitudes toward women. When she learns that her evil cousin plans to kill her brother and inherit the family fortune, she joins the crew of an interplanetary clipper ship in order to beat him to Mars. But privateers, mutiny, and insurrection stand in her way. Will she arrive in time?


(19) FUTURE PLAY. On her Dive into Worldbuilding hangout, “Games”, Juliette Wade discussed games as a feature of worldbuilding.

Power struggle is one of the big things that games can symbolize. Chess has sometimes been used in science fiction as a form of communication between races. It can reflect or change a power dynamic.

Games are also powerful in folk tales, such as when you play a game with the devil, the fae, or Death.

Games can be critical as a symbolic representation of a larger conflict. If you can engage in single combat instead having whole armies clash, why not do it? If you can play a game and agree on the stakes, might you save many lives?

Games and the ways in which they are played reflect the world around them. If you are playing a game with plastic dice, it’s not the same as playing a game with pig knucklebones. Where do the knucklebones come from? Knucklebones, the word itself, makes the game of dice sound exotic and like it comes from a particular period. There are many games of chance or rune-reading. We noted that people have found real twenty-sided stone dice from the Roman period.



Four Pokémon have palindromic names: Girafarig, Eevee, Ho-oh and Alomomola.

(21) ROUNDUP. In a Washington Post article, Hayley Tsukuyama and Ben Guarino do a Pokemon Go roundup, including that Nintendo’s shares have risen by 38 percent in two days and how police in Riverton, Wyoming say that four men lured victims to a remote spot in the Wind River by promising an elusive Pokemon avatar.

On their screens, players of the viral mobile game “Pokémon Go” are seeing these creatures pop into existence alongside real-world physical objects. The mole-like Diglett peeks out of a toilet. A flaming demon Shetland called Ponyta gallops across the National Mall. A ostrich-like Doduo appears on top of the hold button of an office phone.

Capturing these little monsters isn’t just good for players. In just a few days since its July 6 launch, the game has become a national sensation, nearly overtaking Twitter in daily active users. It currently ranks as the most profitable game on Google and Apple’s app stores. On Monday, Nintendo’s stock jumped 25 percent. On Tuesday, it rose another 13 percent…..

Its makers also have made the game highly shareable. The delight of seeing a little monster pop up on the sidewalk in front of your home, or, in one case, on the bed of your wife while she’s in labor — has been social media gold for players.

The game is perhaps the first real success story of the use of augmented reality technology, which blends the digital and real world together. The combined effect is part bird-watching, part geocaching, part trophy-hunting, with a heavy dose of mid-1990s nostalgia.

(21) POKEMON SNARK. In a humor piece another Washington Post writer, Caitlin Dewey, says she told her fiance to stop playing Pokemon while he is wandering in the supermarket and driving.

This is all well and good, of course, but the hype glosses over something that gives me pause: With an app such as Pokémon Go, we’ve essentially gamified such basic pursuits as going outside, talking to strangers and visiting national monuments. These are activities we’ve long undertaken on their own merits. But everything must be digitally augmented now; no value is inherent.

The same could be said of the sorts of “engagement” trumpeted by the makers of Pokémon Go. If you’ve ventured to a local PokéStop, you know that — counter the pitch — most players aren’t making friends or appreciating the vista anew: They’re squinting into their screens, ignoring each other, hoping to sight that rare Pikachu.

(22) VIP BREW. Time to tap those kegs (or whatever they make it in) — “Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout 2016 Release”.


Drew Curtis, Fark.com Creator & Patent Troll Killer
Wil Wheaton, Actor & Web Celeb
Greg Koch, CEO & Co-founder, Stone Brewing

This barrel-aged palate-saver has been a favorite among our fans—and us—since its inception in 2013. Pecans, wheat, flaked rye and bourbon-soaked wood provide this whopping, complex superhero version of an imperial stout with a profound complexity that makes it ideal for cellaring—if you can wait that long. Now, we can’t say this beer bestows jedi powers, exactly, but your taste buds may just be fooled into believing as much….

A famed illustrator celebrated for her characters Vampirella, Power Girl, Silk Spectre and Harley Quinn and comics “Gatecrasher” and “Gargoyles,” Amanda Conner embraced the term “Stone’s bearded leader” for this year’s bottle art design. She transformed the three collaborators into unique renditions of “Star Wars” characters, with Koch playing the woolly role of everyone’s favorite wookiee.

At 13 percent alcohol by volume and with the highest concentration of midi-chlorians seen in a beer, the Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout may be enjoyed fresh, or cellared for several months or years to give way for the deliciously rich flavors to mature and develop more prevalent dark cocoa, coffee and nut notes.

The brew will be a centerpiece of the celebration at Hopcon 4.0 on July 20 in San Diego, where Paul and Storm will be among the many guests.

Our annual celebration of nth-degree beer geekery is back for a fourth round, and this time all 66,000 square feet are dedicated to the convergence of geek culture and beer culture. More retro arcade games, more casks and more bars add up to a release party large enough to match the formidable Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout.

[Thanks to Cat Rambo, Lisa Goldstein, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Red Wombat.]

Pixel Scroll 5/16/16 Pixel McScrollface

(1) AGENT OF TERRA? Brad Templeton confesses, “I was investigated by the feds for taking a picture of the sun”.

A week ago, a rather strange event took place. No, I’m not talking about just the Transit of Mercury in front of the sun on May 9, but an odd result of it.

That morning I was staying at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. I like astrophotography, and have shot several transits…

I did not have my top lenses with me but I decided to photograph it anyway with my small size Sony 210mm zoom and a welding glass I brought along. I shot the transit, holding the welding glass over the lens, with all mounted on my super-light “3 legged thing” portable tripod….

At 10am I got a frantic call from the organizer of the Exponential Manufacturing conference I would be speaking at the next day. “You need to talk to the FBI!” he declared. Did they want my advice on privacy and security? “No,” he said, “They saw you taking photos of the federal building with a tripod from your hotel window and want to talk to you.”

(2) SHINING EXAMPLE. Ann Leckie discovered someone’s named a nail polish after her.

There’s a Jemisin and Le Guin too. In fact, Nerdlacquer has named its products after all kinds of sf/f references, from Octarine to General Effing Leia.

(3) #STARWARSFORJJ. Not our JJ. An Irish kid — “Star Wars hero Mark Hamill stuns brave Northern Ireland cancer teen Jamie Harkin”

Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker was reduced to tears when he felt the remarkable force of a brave Northern Irish teen who has fought off cancer twice.

Actor Mark Hamill, who plays the famous Jedi Knight , met up with super fan Jamie Harkin.

The brave 17-year-old has raised more than £15,000 for other children battling the disease….

And on Monday the Derry lad joined his idol for breakfast during a break in filming for the latest instalment of the sci-fi saga in Donegal.

“People say that you should never meet your idols, because you build them up in your head so much that when you do meet them, they are a let down, and to that, I say, ‘you’re wrong’,” he said.

(4) SLACKEROO BANZAI. Birth. Movies. Death. is not enamored of reports that Kevin Smith might get to make a Buckaroo Banzai TV series.

Dear fans of The Adventure Of Buckaroo Banzai,

We regret to inform you that, on a recent episode of his podcast, Tusk director Kevin Smith revealed that he has been approached by MGM about possibly adapting The Adventures Of Buckaroo Bonzai for television.

In situations like these, it is natural to look for someone to blame for your grief. In this case, it appears that you have The CW’s The Flash to thank (or, rather, Smith’s recent episode of The Flash).

According to i09, the studio was impressed with Smith’s work on that single episode (the studio is apparently unaware of Tusk, Red State, the porch sequence from Tusk, the trailer for Yoga Hosers, Mallrats, Smith’s intention to make a movie called Moose Jaws, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, most of Dogma, Clerks 2, and Cop Out), so much so that they invited him over to pitch ideas….

(5) KALDON CLARION SCHOLARSHIP. SF author Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon passed away on April 20. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to create a Dr. Phil Memorial Scholarship for the Clarion workshop.

Janiece Murphy says, “Dr. Phil was a kind and generous man, and we’d like to memorialize him in a way that reflects these qualities.”

Murphy explains there are two ways to give money.

Folks can donate to the GoFundMe campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/drphilclarion , or they can donate directly to Clarion in Dr. Phil’s name at http://imagination.ucsd.edu/support.html . If they choose the latter, I would ask that they ensure the gift is designated for the Dr. Phil Clarion Scholarship, otherwise it will go to the general fund.

The GoFundMe appeal has raised $1,045 of its $5,000 goal as of this writing.

(6) WHAT’S IMPORTANT. Joe Sherry makes a great point in “My Favorite Stories Sometimes Win: A Nebula Love Story” at Nerds of a Feather.

First, it should be noted that two of my favorite stories from 2015 did, in fact, win Nebula Awards on Saturday night. I adored both Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti as well as Sarah Pinsker’s “Our Lady of the Open Road“. Both are wonderful stories and I am so happy both Okorafor and Pinsker were recognized as being excellent pieces of fiction…

This leads into my second thing I’d like to talk about. So much of the conversation about awards, whether it is the Nebula or the Hugo or the any other award you’d like to mention, is about the winner. Don’t get me wrong, of course I want my favorite stories to be recognized as the “best” novel or short story or whatever other category. Of course I do. I not only get emotionally invested in the story, I sometimes also become emotionally invested in the success of the author. Of course I want my favorite author to win all the awards and sell all the books. Of course I do.

That’s okay, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that just receiving a nomination is a significant recognition and is difficult enough to do in any given year, let alone a single time in a career. Publish your best work in the wrong year and it may still miss the ballot for any number of reasons. The recognition of a nomination is important, both for the work as well as for the field itself. The nomination says “yes, this story was excellent and we value it”….

(7) KAGAN BOOKS AVAILABLE. To capture a news item seen the other day in comments: Baen has republished several long-out-of-print Janet Kagan works as ebooks – Mirabile, Hellspark, and The Collected Kagan.

(8) SFWA ELECTIONS. SF Site News covered this weekend’s SFWA officer elections.

Last year saw some officers elected for two year terms and others elected for one year terms. This year, elections were only held for positions which were elected for one year terms last year. Erin M. Hartshorn, Justina Ireland, and Lawrence M. Schoen ran for two open Director-at-Large positions.

  • Vice President: M.C.A. Hogarth, re-elected, unopposed
  • CFO: Bud Sparhawk, re-elected, unopposed
  • Director at Large: Justina Ireland
  • Director at Large: Lawrence M. Schoen

(9) NEBULA DIVERSITY. K. Tempest Bradford reported on the Nebula Awards for NPR.

…This weekend’s winners reflect many different types of diversity beyond gender. Half are women of color, half are self-identified queer women – which mirrors the overall diversity of the ballot. 24 out of the 34 works nominated for the award were written by women from multiple racial and cultural backgrounds and a spectrum of sexual orientations. Of the 10 works by men, five of them were written by people of color and queer authors.

“The Nebula ballot is everything a ballot should be in this community,” said Brooke Bolander, author of the nominated story “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead.” “It’s diverse, it’s wide-ranging, and it includes amazing stories by amazing authors.”

That’s an important point, given the ongoing conversation about diversity happening now in speculative fiction circles. The Hugos — the other major awards in the genre — are nominated by fans. Last year and again this year, Hugo nominations have been affected by the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups, who campaign against what they see as affirmative action-based nominating and voting in the Hugo and Nebula awards.

But “people want these stories,” says Alyssa Wong. She was the first Filipino author to be nominated for the Nebula award last year and is now the first to win it for her 2015 short story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers.” Though she says she’s seen some Puppy-style criticism of her success, most of the reaction has been positive.

Readers “want to read stories from the points of view of people who have been historically been locked out of the genre,” Wong says. “‘Hungry Daughters’ is about a group of women who are all Asian-American and all from very different backgrounds, all of whom feel isolated in some way … But clearly this is not just Asian-American audiences who this is resonating with. I’m appreciative that people are reading more widely now. It means more opportunities — not just to be published, but to be seen.”

(10) SITE PICKED FOR 2019 COSTUME-CON. Over Mother’s Day weekend at Costume-Con 34 in Madison, WI, the site for Costume-Con 37 in 2019 was chosen.  It will be run under the auspices of MCFI with Aurora Celeste and Sharon Sbarsky as co-chairs. Social media still to come.

Costume-Con 37
Salem, MA
March 22-25, 2019
DoubleTree Boston North Shore
(actually Danvers, MA)
$129 Hotel Rate including Free WiFi, Free Parking, and Free Cookies!
$60 ($45 for those that voted) through at least December 31, 2016

(11) HUGO FIX. Damien Walter takes a math-lite approach to fighting slates, where Yobs = Ø

(12) DARLEY OBIT. Dick Darley, who directed Space Patrol, died April 21 at the age of 92. He also directed the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club.

Born in Los Angeles, he served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy during World War II, then studied radio production and writing at USC. First working at San Diego’s KFMB, he later joined L.A.’s KECA where in 1950 he became director on the channel’s new series Space Patrol.

Set in the 30th century, the series followed the adventures of Commander-in-Chief Buzz Corry of the United Planets Space Patrol, who along with his sidekick Cadet Happy faced off against a rogues gallery of villains inspired by then-current Cold War. For its first 10 months, the show aired as 15 minute episodes Monday through Friday. In December, 1950, ABC commissioned a half hour version that ran on Saturdays, concurrently with the 15-minute version. Aimed at children, the show picked up a following of adult viewers and would go on to make history when it became the first regular live West Coast morning show to be beamed to the East Coast.

(13) A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. Norman Spinrad has some strong opinions about Facebook.

Well my attempt to split my so-called Facebook “Timeline” into several different forums has been a dismal failure. Didn’t work, and more recent news (and I mean real news, not Facebook’s so-called “News Feed”) about Facebook begins not only to explain why, but begins to illuminate far larger issues about what Facebook is doing and trying to do.

Facebook has been accused of using both secret algorithms and human “editors” to control and even censor its so-called News Feed and “Trending topics” feed to suit the political agenda of Mark Zuckerberg &Co. But not to worry, Zuckerberg himself has appointed a committee to investigate.

Facebook had generously offered to finance free Internet service to third world countries, notably India. Well not exactly. The Facebook “free Internet service” would only connect to web sites approved and chosen by Facebook. India at least being a sophisticated democracy said no thanks. And other so-called “developing countries” have likewise gotten the point.

The point being that Facebook is becoming a threat to democracy itself, nowhere more so than in the United States, where a majority of people are getting their “news” from Facebook already and Facebook is expanding the process exponentially, as witness how it has weaseled itself into most of the televised presidential primary debates and now is funneling selected news stories from legitimate journalistic news channels through “News Feed” and “Trending” to far larger demographics than they can possibly reach by themselves.

And now it has been revealed that Facebook is in effect filtering and editing these feeds according Mark Zuckerberg’s political agenda. But not to worry, Zuckerberg has appointed a committee of his own minions to investigate himself.

Why is this a threat to democracy? Because it is already a huge threat to professional and politically neutral journalism itself, the commons cornerstone of any democracy….

(14) PROTECTION OR THEATRE? Recently the Society for Promotion of Japanese Animation, which runs Anime Expo in Los Angeles, announced a new Youth Protection program that requires all employees, volunteers, vendors and panelists to submit to a criminal background check and take online courses. Christopher Macdonald argues in an Anime News Network editorial that “The SPJA Needs to Change Its Youth Protection Policy”.

On the surface the new policy seems like a great idea. Who isn’t in favor of protecting children from predators? This policy isn’t unwarranted either, as with every similarly large event, bad things happen… and have happened. Unfortunately the SPJA’s new policy has many unintended consequences. Here are but a few:

  • Cost: It isn’t entirely clear who has to pay for the background checks, but these checks could be very expensive for people who have to pay for them. While a typical background checks costs as little as $50, the actual price can be prohibitively expensive for some vendors. For example, some background checks cost an extra $50 for every country a subject has visited in the past 5 years, and an extra $200 if they have lived outside the USA. With those prices, my background check would cost over $1,000 (note: AX has stated on Twitter “No artist, volunteer, guest, staff is being asked to pay for own bg check,“ however it seems that vendors and exhibitors do have to pay for the background checks).
  • Privacy & Security: The new SPJA policy requires that all vendors register with their real names & info. Many people in our industry, particularly professional and semi-professional cosplayers, have problems with stalkers. They do not want to be forced to wear badges with their real names, and they do not want their home address in the SPJA’s database. It may even be illegal to force employees of California based vendors to undergo background checks. There is a very limited number of cases in which an employer can mandate a background check, and this is not one of those cases. Therefore, it may be illegal for companies like Aniplex of America, Bandai, Crunchyroll, NIS America and Viz Media to ask their employees to undergo the background check.
  • Good People will fail the background check: I won’t go into too much detail about this here, there is plenty of information online about it, but many people often have significant trouble with background checks. Here are but a few of the reasons you can fail a background check: a name change, a minor violent arrest (got into a fight in a bar back in your college days), visiting an “undesirable” country (have you been to Iran or Cuba? I have), sharing your name with an actual criminal, etc…
  • It’s Insulting: Picture this, “Hi, you’re one of the top manga artists in Japan, and we’d really like to have you as a guest of honor at our show, but first we need to make sure you aren’t a child molester.” This is straight up offensive; you should expect that people will be insulted by this. And they are; I can say with absolute certainty that some of AX’s potential guests have pulled out because of this, and in at least one case an artist is disturbed enough that it is having an effect on their work. Have you noticed that we’re less than 2 months out, and almost no guests of honor have been announced? Guest contracts are in limbo while they wait for this issue to be resolved. For some guests it is already too late for them to commit to the event, their schedules are made more than 2 months in advance.

(15) TESTING FOR HUMANITY. The Futility Closet blog describes a proposed replacement for the Turing Test.

The original test, in which a computer program tries to fool a human judge into thinking it’s human during a five-minute text-only conversation, has been criticized because the central task of devising a false identity is not part of intelligence, and because some conversations may require relatively little intelligent reasoning.

The new test would be based on so-called Winograd schemas, devised by Stanford computer scientist Terry Winograd in 1972. Here’s the classic example:

The city councilmen refused the demonstrators a permit because they [feared/advocated] violence.

If the word feared is used, to whom does they refer, the councilmen or the demonstrators? What if we change feared to advocated? You know the answers to these questions because you have a practical understanding of anxious councilmen. Computers find the task more difficult because it requires not only natural language processing and commonsense reasoning but a working knowledge of the real world….

In July 2014 Nuance Communications announced that it will sponsor an annual Winograd Schema Challenge, with a prize of $25,000 for the computer that best matches human performance. The first competition will be held at the 2016 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, July 9-15 in New York City.

(16) SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. George R.R. Martin weighs in on the EPH discussion with “All the King’s Horses…” at Not A Blog.

I can hear the proponents of EPH and 4/6 saying their reforms were never meant to be a cure all. Yes, I know that, I never believed otherwise, and I applaud your efforts to help. I just wish these reforms helped more. Neither EPH nor 4/6 is going to prevent us from having VD on the Best Editor shortlist from now until the heat death of the universe.

And I also know that there are now other proposals out there, proposals that call for three-stage voting, for negative votes and blackballing, for juries. Some of these cures, I fear, might be even worse than the disease. We have plenty of juried awards; we don’t need another. Three-stage voting, with fifteen semi-finalists that get boiled down to five finalists and one winner? Maybe, but that considerably increases the workload of the Hugo administrators, whose job is hard enough already… and I fear it would actually ratchet up campaigning, as friends and fans of those on the List of Fifteen rallied around their favorites to get them on the List of Five. And a blackball round, voting things off the ballot? Is that really a can of worms we want to open, in this present climate? That would dial the ugliness up to eleven, I fear… or higher.

Sadly, I don’t think there is an answer here. No magic bullet is going to fix this. And I fear that the people saying, “pretty soon the assholes will get bored and go away,” are being hopelessly naive. The assholes are having far too much fun.

(17) BABELFISH NOW REALITY? Here’s the pitch.

Although the Indiegogo did not reach its goal, Waverly Labs appeas to be going ahead with production — the preorder campaign is scheduled to launch May 25.

1. How much will it cost? Retail is expected to be $249-$299
2. How much is the early bird? Early bird will be first come first serve. A limited quantity will go for $129, then another round for $149, and then a few more Late Early Bird options for $179+. Signup here: www.waverlylabs.com/launch
3. When can I preorder the Pilot? The preorder campaign is scheduled to launch on May 25th. We will keep everyone updated via email. As long as you have signed up for the launch then you will be alerted.
4. When will they be delivered? We are releasing a translation app this summer for basic translation. This is included in your purchase. However, the earpieces require much more testing, manufacturing and production time. Therefore, we anticipate the earliest will be in late fall/early winter, although fulfilling all orders could take until next spring. Again, it is first come first serve.
5. What’s included? The full package includes the Pilot and secondary earpiece (2 earpieces total), 1 portable charger, and an accompanying app. The app is where the languages are downloaded for the earpiece.

The rest of the FAQ is here.

[Thanks to Rick Kovalcik, JJ, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Lola McCrary, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Puppies To The Right of Them, Puppies To the Left of Them 4/14

Today leaders of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies react to a ruling by the Hugo administrator that one work from each of their slates is ineligible and has been dropped from the Hugo final ballot.

David Gerrold and Connie Willis say it will not be business as usual at the Hugo ceremony.  Larry Correia, John C. Wright and George R.R. Martin parry and riposte. Laura Mixon says send a message by voting her a Hugo.

Then, while “you missed the point” is a phrase oft resorted to in these arguments, Michael Stackpole eloquently describes the point he says Sad Puppies have missed.

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“John C. Wright work disqualified” – April 14

I think this is a serious mistake by Sasquan. Just as Dune and Ender’s Game served as precedents for a shorter work reworked and published as a longer one, which was the case with both “One Bright Star to Guide Them” and “Big Boys Don’t Cry”, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War serves as precedent for a work that appeared on the web prior to being professionally published and subsequently declared eligible in the latter year.


Brad R. Torgersen

“Two Hugo final ballot changes, and a question” – April 14

I would like to take this opportunity (as the coordinator of the Sad Puppies 3 effort in 2015) to note that John C. Wright’s piece, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was not on the Sad Puppies 3 list. It appears this story was on the copycat Rabid Puppies alter-ego slate, being put forth by Vox Day.

Many people have been conflating the two slates (Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies) for the past ten days, and I think it’s important to make clear the fact that the two slates are different, while still being similar. I congratulate Thomas Olde Heuvelt, whose story “The Day The World Turned Upside Down” (from Lightspeed magazine) now takes a place on the 2015 Hugo final ballot. Good work, Thomas! And good luck!

One person who was on the Sad Puppies 3 ballot — Jon Eno [http://www.joneno.com/] — has been disqualified. I am sorry about that, Jon! I tried as best as I could to do my due diligence in researching the Hugo qualification rules, when I put you forward in that category. I think you’ve been doing a lot of very beautiful spec fic art, and I hope you continue to share your illustrations with all of us who follow you on Facebook.

Taking Jon’s place on the ballot is Kirk DouPonce, from the Rabid Puppies slate. Kirk’s been doing a bang-up excellent job with cover design, many examples of which can be seen at his site. Congratulations, Kirk! Terrific stuff, sir.

My question for the masses is: the year-to-year interpretations of the rules seem to occasionally be inconsistent. For example, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War was indie published (to Scalzi’s web site) long before it was licensed by TOR for traditional publication, yet Old Man’s War was on the short list for Best Novel in 2006. Did anyone (at that time) ask for clarification? Seems to me if John C. Wright’s story can be bumped for prior web publication, this would have applied in Scalzi’s case too; unless the specific rules have changed since 2006.



David Gerrold post on Facebook – April 14

I had asked Connie Willis to present the Campbell award — she declined. Because she cannot pretend that this year’s awards are business as usual.

In fact, none of us can. And as the host of the award ceremony, I can’t either.

So, Brad, Larry, Vox — congratulations. You’ve spoiled the party. Not just mine, but everyone’s.

I waited nearly a half century to get here, and when I do get here, there’s ashes.

It hurts.

Not just me. Everyone.

And I don’t care how you dodge and weasel, how you rend your garments and play the victim game, how you pretend it’s everyone else’s fault — that’s bullshit. You’ve made it impossible to have a Hugo ceremony that is a joyous celebration of the best in our genre.

I haven’t figured out how we’ll manage the Hugo ceremony yet. I’m still soliciting advice from the smartest people I know — people with experience, regardless of their politics. Right now, mostly what I’m hearing back is, “I’m so sorry this has happened to you, you deserve better, but I know you’ll figure it out.” (Plus a few suggestions on what to do if this or that or the other happens.)

I do have some ideas. (One of which is, “You won’t like me when I’m angry.” But you don’t like me already, so why should I give in to anger?)

There is another way to go. It’s something I learned watching Harlan Ellison. Did I mention he’s one of my role models?

So I have a choice. I can pretend it’s business as usual —

It isn’t.

Or, I can recognize that I’ve been trusted with the microphone for a reason — that the committee thinks I know what I’m doing — and use that responsibility in a way that serves the Hugos, the Worldcon, and most of all the generations of fans, thousands and thousands and thousands, from all over the world, who still respect our traditions and our awards.


Connie Willis

“Why I Won’t Be A Presenter at the Hugo Awards This Year” – April 14

And finally, to Vox Day, Brad Torgeson, and their followers, I have this to say:

“You may have been able to cheat your way onto the ballot. (And don’t talk to me about how this isn’t against the rules–doing anything except nominating the works you personally liked best is cheating in my book.) You may even be able to bully and intimidate people into voting for you. But you can’t make me hand you the Hugo and say “Congratulations,” just as if you’d actually won it. And you can’t make me appear onstage and tell jokes and act like this year’s Hugo ceremony is business as usual and what you’ve done is okay. I’m not going to help you get away with this. I love the Hugo Awards too much.”


Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“George R. R. Martin responds” – April 14

[Larry Correia] Okay. Then don’t accept our version. Go read reporter Damien Walter’s account in the Guardian about my sexist homophobic campaign to steal the Hugos last year. (by the way, how did he know about my nomination before it was announced?) Or go read his account in the Guardian where he libeled Toni Weisskopf. Or go read Entertainment Weekly, the Telegraph, Salon, Slate or the many other places where I’m a racist white guy from earlier this week.

Of course we tweak their words around to mock them, because bullies hate that.  You have to have fun with this stuff, or it’ll drive you nuts.

[GRR Martin] Take this “Wrongfan” moniker I now see popping up on Puppy sites. Neither I nor any of the other SMOFs or trufans or worldconners that I know have ever called you or your friends “wrongfans.” You guys made that up and applied it to yourself.

Damn right we did. I’m pretty sure I invented the word Wrongfun to describe how the perpetually outraged crowd on Twitter was perpetually offended that somebody somewhere was having fun wrong.

Let me give you an example of wrongfun. After my last letter to you went public I had three or four people concern trolling me on Twitter because I used the term “Twitter Lynch Mob” to describe a well-known type of behavior. They’re perched like falcons, waiting for somebody to transgress, so that they can swoop in and feel superior. If you use the wrong words, play the wrong games, read the wrong books, wear the wrong shirt, they’ll be there. These people are always looking for an excuse to shake their fingers at you for having fun wrong, hence the term, Wrongfun.

So when Teresa Nielsen Hayden (who somehow knew that SP3 had 3/5 of the best novel nominations before they were announced) started going off about us, and how we were outsiders, my people took Wrongfun and turned it into Wrongfan. I don’t recall who did that, but it was funny, and it made my people laugh, so it stuck.

Words are awesome like that. I do find it ironic that you don’t approve of my people making up words to describe the world as they see it, in the same sentence that you speak of SMOFs, Trufans, and Worldconners.


Kalimac on Kalimac’s Journal

“Hugonian Politics” – April 14

I think there are two courses of action here.

1) You can try to rewrite the rules to ban slates. I don’t think you will succeed. Slate advocates will find a way around the rules. Maginot line. The fathers of the U.S. Constitution thought they had eliminated political parties, and they were pretty smart guys, but in that respect they failed.

2) Or you can form a counter-slate. Many people are doing so, even among those who claim to oppose a counter-slate. They’re launching a campaign to vote for No Award. That doesn’t help them with next year’s nominations, but for the current election, No Award is their counter-slate candidate, whether they think of it as one or not.


Naomi Kritzer on Will Tell Stories For Food

“Vox Day’s involvement in the Sad Puppies Slate”  – April 13

So, hey. Obviously, whatever else the ELoE is, it’s an informal organization; it’s partly an in-joke and an amusing self-chosen nickname for a clique of friends. But here’s what I feel pretty confident about:

  1. This particular Evil League of Evil is Larry Correia, John C. Wright, Sarah Hoyt, and Vox Day. When Larry Correia talks about the ELoE, he doesn’t use the term like it’s a joke; he uses it as a straightforward shorthand for his clique. Vox Day is a member of the clique. In fact, the origination of the name for the clique came out of an indignant rejection of the idea that Wright might consider distancing himself from VD.
  2. Larry Correia said that the ELoE discussed and “came up with” the names and works on the SP slate.
  3. Larry Correia said that that VD “isn’t even on the slate” but I did not see anywhere that he said that VD had nothing to do with choosing the slate, and if he made that claim at this point, I guess I’d like him to unpack his previous statements about the ELoE’s involvement.


Michael Stackpole on Stormwolf.com

“Why Puppies Are Sad and Always Will Be” – April 14

To me, the oddest part about the Rabid Puppies and their lamenting that they don’t get awards is that they’re pointing to the wrong reason why they’re left out in the cold. It’s not because they’re an oppressed minority. It’s because they don’t write the kind of work that gets awards. The Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards have traditionally been handed out to new voices addressing new ways of telling stories, addressing new issues and new technology. When geographical bias is factored out of the awards, over and over again they go to works which are imaginative, well-written and, more often than not, of diminished popularity. After the fact they might become classics, but their more-likely fate is to go out of print despite having won an award.

I’ve been working in this field since 1988 (when my first two novels came out). I’ve never been short-listed for an award of any sort in the field. Why? Because I write series fiction. Because I write fantasy. Because I write military SF. Because I write franchise fiction. I’ve been just as solidly frozen out by the literary establishment as any of the puppies, but it doesn’t bother me.

Why not?

1) Awards don’t move the needle on sales.

2) I can’t eat awards.

3) Awards are not a referendum on quality of writing.

4) Awards reflect notoriety during a mote of time, neither conferring immortality nor success upon the recipients.

5) Readers who only read or respect award-winning authors and their work are outside my target demographic: that being people who want to read a rousing good tale that, maybe, will allow them to reflect on an issue or conundrum now and again.


Laura Mixon

“Standing in the Borderlands of Discourse” – April 13

I’ve spoken to an expert in the matter who has studied our case, who tells me that RH’s abuses (like Vox Day’s) are highly unlikely to stop by themselves, if she follows the trajectory of other people who act as she has. Over and over, for more than a decade, she has blown up communities by positioning herself as a victim and finding people to cover for her, who either feel they don’t have a right to criticize her, or are willing to overlook her behavior for the sake of other concerns.

That’s why I accepted the nomination, and why I continue to speak. The community is still at risk. A vote for me sends a clear signal that the community stands firm on this basic principle: that our politics can’t outweigh our humanity. That everyone has a fundamental right to be here, to engage in online and in-person discourse without being threatened with annihilation. We have to find a way—not to deny our own beliefs and experiences—but to talk across the divides.

I don’t have good answers for how we can help the center hold, but I do believe we need to rally as a community around a set of norms. A covenant of sorts. An agreement that, whatever the fractures in our community—whatever our disagreements—whatever personal circumstances brought us to this genre in the first place—at its heart, SFF has room for all of us.


John C. Wright in a comment on George R.R. Martin’s Not A Blog

Sir, you commented “John C. Wright SIX TIMES!!! John C. Wright, a writer famed far and wide for having no opinions on politics, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and would never dream of injecting such messages into his Damned Good Stories.”

I assume here you are being ironic, and stating that I do indeed put messages into my fiction.

However, we have worked together in the past. You edited the anthology SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH in which my short story, ‘Guyal the Curator’ appeared.

Were there or were there not pro-conservative messages in that story? You may not recall it, but I know you read it.

If, since you are an honest man, you will say that story had no overt political message in it, on what grounds do you assume I put overt political messages in my other stories?

In other words, you are accusing me of hypocrisy, I, who have never said a bad word about you in public or private to anyone, and who have always hitherto held you in the highest esteem. What is the factual basis for the accusation please?

If there is no factual basis, why make the accusation?


George R.R. Martin replying to John C. Wright’s comment on Not A Blog – April 14

Actually, I don’t recall “accusing” you of anything. I was pointing out that the Sad Puppy stance against “message fiction” rang kind of false when they nominate someone (six times) who has lots of “message” in his fiction. It would have been more honest for the Pups to say they don’t want liberal/ feminist/ “SJW” / socialist/ atheist/ etc messages in their stories, but they think conservative, libertarian, and Christian messages are just dandy.

Truth be told, I think there are messages in every story, whether the author intended to put them in there or not. The things we write are invariably colored by the ways we see the world.

At this date, I don’t recall the details of your story in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH. I would need to review it. Yes, of course I read it. I bought it. I liked it. You knew your Vance, and captured the Dying Earth quite well.

Jack Vance himself was quite conservative, as you may or may not know, and grew even more so in the last years of his life. You can see it in some of his stories, though it requires careful reading; he never stopped a story for a lecture. Vance is only one of many conservative SF authors that I hold in high esteem. Actually, Vance is probably my favorite SF writer, and as a fantasist I rank him up there with Howard, Leiber, and Tolkien.

I also like Heinlein, Kipling, Niven & Pournelle, Lovecraft, Blish… I love Poul Anderson. That does not mean I believe there were no messages in their fiction. That also does not mean I agree with those messages. They wrote great stories.

What annoys me is the Sad Puppy stance that liberal writers are producing “message fiction” while guys on their ticket are just writing Ripping Good Yarns untroubled by politics or opinions.


Brad Templeton on Brad Ideas

“Second musings on the Hugo Awards and the fix”  – April 13

To deal with the current cheating and the promised cheating in 2016, the following are recommended.

  1. Downplay the 2015 Hugo Award, perhaps with sufficient fans supporting this that all categories (including untainted ones) have no award given.
  2. Conduct a parallel award under a new system, and fête it like the Hugos, though they would not use that name.
  3. Pass new proposed rules including a special rule for 2016
  4. If 2016’s award is also compromised, do the same. However, at the 2016 business meeting, ratify a short-term amendment proposed in 2015 declaring the alternate awards to be the Hugo awards if run under the new rules, and discarding the uncounted results of the 2016 Hugos conducted under the old system. Another amendment would permit winners of the 2015 alternate award to say they are Hugo winners.
  5. If the attackers gave up, and 2016’s awards run normally, do not ratify the emergency plan, and instead ratify the new system that is robust against attack for use in 2017.


Noah Ward on Sad Puppies

“Enemies of the Revolution Resort to Underhanded Tactics” – April 14

Some may believe that with the nominations announced, the hardest part of our campaign has already been accomplished and all that remains is to coast to victory, but recent events prove the need for continuing vigilance. The eligibility committee at Sasquan has today disqualified two of our works from the final ballot based upon minor technicalities! They did this even though last year they permitted the entirety of the Wheel of Time, the first volume of which was published when the Soviet Union was still a going concern, to be nominated, with free copies of the entire series distributed to voters. In so doing they severely undermined Larry Correia’s Warbound by admitting an entire series that attracted votes away from the Sad Puppies base of adventure-loving readers.


David Gerrold on Facebook – April 14

Once again, I have to remind people that I have the name “Noah Ward” as a legally registered pseudonym with the WGAW.

People using that name are doing so without my authorization.

I’m not saying this to spoil anyone’s fun, but to protect my legal rights as well as to make sure that no one thinks I am behind the various “Noah Ward” pages and sites.


Heraldic Arms of the Hugo Justice Workers (c) 2015 by Moshe Feder

Heraldic Arms of the Hugo Justice Workers (c) 2015 by Moshe Feder

Heraldic Arms of the Hugo Justice Workers © 2015 Moshe Feder All Rights Reserved

Permission for reuse is granted to anyone fighting to restore and preserve the traditional fair play of the Hugo Awards and to send the Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy vandals back to their noisome kennels.

“I will fear no puppies.”

Hugo Slates Inspire Altered States

This roundup starts with a link to some Hugo data, followed by a long assortment of opinions, then a couple of smaller segments focused on ideas for changing the Hugo rules, and voting No Award.

Screenshot of Hugo nominating statistics

Peter Watts on Rifters

And they call it… Puppy Love… – April 5

The thing is, we’re encouraged to act this way. We’re expected to: by agents, by publicists, by publishers who can no longer be bothered promoting their own authors. I know of one case where an agent explicitly refused to represent an author simply because that author wasn’t pimping herself on Twitter. It’s now considered unprofessional to eschew constant tub-thumping. Nobody takes you seriously if you don’t stand out from the crowd— and the only way to do that, apparently, is by doing exactly what everybody else is doing, only louder. Which is how someone who markets herself as a Fearless Progressive Speaker of Truth to Power can beg off boycotting an event over a clear matter of principle by saying “Nah, I’ve got a book to hustle” with a completely straight face.

Pimpage comes first, ethics run a distant second, and the Sad Puppies are not the only gang to run under that flag.

In fact, if you squint a certain way you can almost see how the Sad Puppies’ campaign is actually more honorable than the relentless self-promotion that’s somehow come to be regarded as de rigeur in this business. Put their reactionary motives aside for the moment; at least the puppies were, for the most part, advocating for people other than themselves. All other things being equal, whose opinion generally comes seasoned with less conflict-of-interest: the foodie who raves about the little hole-in-the-wall she discovered last Friday, or the chef who praises his own bouillabaisse to the heavens?

Which is not to say, of course, that self-promotion doesn’t work. It obviously does. (I don’t know if anyone in the genre has won more awards than Rob Sawyer, and offhand I can’t think of a more relentless self-promoter.) Then again, no one’s really questioning the effectiveness of the strategy that’s riled up the current teapot. It’s the underlying ethics that seems to be at issue.

So, sure. If you’re an end-justifies-the-means sorta person, then by all means decry the block who stacked the deck and got-out-the-vote in pursuit of their antique right-wing agenda; praise the more progressive folks who try to get you to eschew straight cis white male writers for a year. But if the road matters to you as well as the destination, don’t lose sleep over the fact that the bad guys played a better game this time around.

Give a thought to the rules that promote such strategies in the first place.

Elizabeth Bear on throw another bear in the canoe

“i spent all day yesterday waiting at a red light” – April 5

Fandom happens because people take care of it, nurture it, and make it a fun place for people to be. Preferably, an inclusive place. If anything, we often err too far on the side of putting up with assholes, because we’re bad at excluding people. There are plenty of people in fandom who I think are jerks, idiots, pains in the ass, complete eye-rolling cramps, and/or moon men. Some of those people do valuable work for the community, even while I’m facepalming over their opinions. All of them got into it the same way I did–by being volunteered or (as is very common) voluntold. These people refer to themselves as SMoFs as a joke, you understand. Jobs often get done in haphazard ass-backward ways because they are done by anybody willing, and often on limited time, in the cracks of a busy life, and with little or no funding….

There’s a new custom circulating in my tribe, and I think it’s a good one, so I will be adopting it. I have not in the past and I will not in the future participate in any popular award voting slate, public or private. I will not vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated for a popular award after agreeing to be on such a slate. I believe that slate-voting is unethical and perverts the purpose of the awards–and disadvantages almost everyone, quite frankly–and I am personally invested in making sure my fandom does not decay into a series of cage matches. That is the ethical decision I am making for myself.


Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“Bring it on” – April 6

I was quite pissed off I’d told SP3 and RP that I didn’t want to be on the slate. EDITED FOR CLARITY: I put the fact that I felt there were better more deserving people to target (such as my co-writers Amanda and Cedar) up ON MAD GENIUS CLUB. I did not contact either SP or RP organizers. They in no way ignored my request. I was in no way at all shamed or upset by being on the list. Got it, jackasses? No you can’t use it to bully Brad Torgersen. I can’t force you to quote me, any more than I could force Brad to read that on MGC or act on it, but I sure as hell will rub your noses in this if you try.

I don’t take to bullying well. I’m usually pretty easy going, but a behemoth picking on little guys infuriates and disgusts me (which is what this is. Tor is still the biggest, most powerful traditional sf publishing house at present. They wield a great deal of power and influence. They can (and have in the past) destroy and make careers.) It rubs every hair on my very hairy head the wrong way, which gave me some bad hair days, poor me.

And then it got worse. We had some joker called Steve Davidson, whose total contribution to sf seems to have been purchasing the IP address for ‘Amazing Stories’ and then emptying his bowels onto it, issuing threats and ultimatum to authors that if they didn’t renounce SP3 they’d be vewwy vewwy sorry.


Damien Walter in the Guardian

“Are the Hugo nominees really the best sci-fi books of the year?” – April 6

By putting forward a slate of predominantly American nominees, the campaign organisers have been able to lever the votes of a minority of non-attending members to “hack” the voting process and dominate the award nominations. Remarkably, this is all within the rules of the Hugos, and the moral defence put forward by campaign organisers for what many people would consider cheating is their belief that block voting is common in the award-giving process.

The Hugos and Worldcon have always been – much like the baseball World Series – a world event in name only. Hugo winners have been overwhelmingly from the US, with almost no non-anglophone works even considered for the awards. But over the past decade or so, the Hugos and Worldcon have become much more diverse and interesting, with many more women, writers of colour and international voices among nominees and winners. It’s that diversity which has been lost in this orchestrated backlash.

Jim C. Hines

“10 Hugo Thoughts” – April 5

6. They’re just trying to expand the ballot and make it more inclusive/representative/diverse. I can see a little of that, if I squint. The puppies pushed to get a successful self-published author onto the ballot, for example. They talked about getting tie-in works nominated, but didn’t actually include any on their slate. They did give tie-in author Kevin J. Anderson his first Hugo nom for one of his original books. But if your campaign ends up putting the same author on the ballot in six different spots, then no, you weren’t looking very broadly for nominees. And far more of the comments and rhetoric seemed to be about sticking it to SJWs…

embrodski on Death Is Bad

“Sad Puppies Rebuttal”

Ahem. As everyone knows, there were problems with the Hugos. Many of us acknowledged this, and said it wasn’t that bad and it was being handled internally. His most relevant point is that he disagrees. [Larry Correia wrote] “there wasn’t a green room at any con in the country where you couldn’t find authors complaining about the sorry state of things. But nobody did anything. […] But still nobody did anything, and it got worse and worse. […] So I did something.”

Now, I’m in the camp of “It was a problem, but not a huge one.” But, to be honest, I can’t recall of anyone doing anything to fix it. Maybe something was happening? But not so that I noticed. It was mainly swept under the rug. Losing a slot or two per year to these forces didn’t feel like a big deal to me, certainly not something I would put a ton of personal effort into fixing, and I imagine most people felt the same way. Larry saw it as a bigger problem. And you know what? He did do something. And I respect the fuck out of that. It didn’t work out exactly how he’d like it to, but shit, when does anything? It’s not like there’s a playbook for this sort of thing, he’s flying by the seat of his pants, and that takes tons of guts. What the hell did any of us do? We all said in private “Man, Throne of the Crescent Moon was bad,” and some of us said it in public, but did a single person on our side publically raise the point that this should never have gotten a Hugo Nomination? Why *did* it take Larry and his crew to say that?

It sucks that we lose an entire year of Hugos to this Sad Puppies nonsense, but maybe it’ll help us be a bit more honest with ourselves in the future. Maybe we’ll feel freer to speak our minds without being worried about being called racist. That would be a good thing.


Arthur Chu on Salon

“Sci-fi’s right-wing backlash: Never doubt that a small group of deranged trolls can ruin anything (even the Hugo Awards)” – April 6

To vote on the Hugos you have to either know and care a ton about science fiction–or you have to be convinced that science fiction is part of the vast liberal conspiracy arrayed against you and make a disingenuous post calling you and your friends “Sad Puppies” over said liberal conspiracy. $40 is a lot of money to pay to express your opinions, even strongly held ones, about fiction you love–but it’s a cheap price to stick it to liberal pro-diversity elitists you hate….

We should have learned a long, long time ago that “Just let the public give their input” is a lazy, useless and above all dangerous way to make decisions. If you want democracy you have to put effort into designing a process that actually makes sure your voting population matches the relevant population and to keep the process from being captured by bad actors. If that’s too hard for you, then accept that democracy is too hard for you and find some other way to claim legitimacy for the decision you end up making.

But don’t just leave your process open to the public and unguarded, unless you want The Comments making your decisions for you. Best case scenario, you end up with egg on your face that can be easily wiped off, like a bridge named after Stephen Colbert.

Worst case scenario, your public platform becomes a mouthpiece for the worst people in the world, who won’t give it back until they’ve run it into the ground.


 Adam Roberts on Sibiliant Fricative

“2015 Hugos: Delenda Est Hugo” – April 6

Nick Mamatas has it right, I think: the action of the Puppies was a piece of efficiently executed political strategy, and the response needs to be political if we want it actually to bite. This means one of two things, I’d say: either to organise an anti-Puppies slate for next year, with all the labour and cat-herding that implies. I have some doubts as to the achievability of this, and many doubts as to its desirability: for it would remove the Hugos even further from the notion that works and individuals get nominated according to their merit. Personally I think the better strategy is otherwise, essentially a Delenda est Hugo approach. First, coordinate to ensure ‘No Award’ wins every category this year. Then move to relocate the community’s esteem elsewhere. The Puppies set out to destroy the Hugos. Let them. Napoleon thought he had won the battle of Borodino, but actually he lost it. Let the Puppies retreat through the winter wasteland of community hostility and indifference. The Puppies, after all, are not interested in winning Hugos per se; they are interested in the esteem associated with the Hugos. But that does not magically inhere in the rocket-shaped trophy. It’s the other way around. The trophy functions as an index of the esteem of the community as a whole. This year’s shortlist breaks the connection between the first of these things and the second. So it goes. It is the whole community that controls how it distributes its esteem, not any one pressure group; such esteem cannot be ‘gamed’ by the coordination of voting blocks. Once upon a time the Hugos were the genre’s Blue Riband award; functionally they have not been that for several years . But there are other awards which are, even as we speak, producing much better shortlists: Tiptree award and Kitschies, to name but two. Why not invest the esteem of the community as a whole in those


Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

A letter to the SMOFs, moderates, and fence sitters from the author who started Sad Puppies – April 6

This blog post is directed at the newcomers, the fence sitters, the undecided, and the unlucky SMOFs who’ve been caught in the crossfire. There is no need to address my detractors, because they have already repeatedly demonstrated that they’ll just ignore what I actually say and do, and fabricate their own wild and crazy narrative about what I secretly meant to say.

This is going to be get long, but there are a lot of things being tossed around that I need to respond to.

For those of you just joining us, Sad Puppies 3 was a campaign to get talented, worthy, deserving authors who would normally never have a chance nominated for the supposedly prestigious Hugo awards.

I started this campaign a few years ago because I believed that the awards were politically biased, and dominated by a few insider cliques. Authors who didn’t belong to these groups or failed to appease them politically were shunned. When I said this in public, I was called a liar, and told that the Hugos represented all of fandom and that the awards were strictly about quality. I said that if authors with “unapproved” politics were to get nominations, the quality of the work would be irrelevant, and the insider cliques would do everything in their power to sabotage that person. Again, I was called a liar, so I set out to prove my point.


Addendum to Yesterday’s Letter – April 7

Yesterday the following media outlets ran articles about the Sad Puppies campaign, in which they either directly said or insinuated that it was run and populated by racist straight white males with the goal of keeping scifi white and male. (not true)

The Telegraph Entertainment Weekly Salon Huffington Post Slash Dot io9 The Guardian

It was almost like they were all reading off the same script.

Most of them said our slate was exclusively white, straight, and male (not true)

Most of them said that last year was a big win for diversity (I believe last years winners were all white and one Asian).

Most of them said our slate was exclusively right wing (not true, in fact the majority skew left, we have socialists, liberals, moderates, libertarians, conservatives, and question marks. To the best of my knowledge, I believe that last year’s “diverse” winners all espoused the same social justice politics).

But there is no bias in this perfectly functioning system. My side said that political narrative trumped reality in this business. Believe me yet?

Larry Correia in a comment

I went to 13 cons in 2014, from 500 to 150,000 people. I love cons. However, the only place I’d be likely to find more people who actively despise me and want me to die in a fire than WorldCon would be WisCon. Which is on my list of places to visit, right after Mordor and Hell.

So instead I usually go to GenCon, and this year I’m going to DragonCon.


Brad R. Torgersen

“A dispatch from Fort Living Room”

I ordinarily keep my family pictures private. I don’t share many of them on the internet. But in this instance, I think I’ll post one. That’s my wife Annie, my daughter Olivia, and me, back in 2008 — when we first moved into our (then) new house in Utah. As of the writing of these words, Annie and I have been married for over 21 years. We’re opposites in most ways. Personality opposites. Political opposites. And — apropos to this particular discussion — racial opposites. From the time we got married in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple in December of 1993, until now, it’s been an exercise in learning how to live together, cherish, and love one another, despite the differences. I’m proud of my wife. She’s not only smart, she’s got an enormous heart, I’ve never seen her judge people unfairly, and she’s never been afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty. Of all the decisions I’ve ever made in my life, deciding to marry Annie was by far the best. She is my best friend. She is my lover. She is the mother of my child. She is, quite simply, the better part of everything that I hold dear and precious in this world.

Those of you who watch this space know that I’ve taken on a bit of a burden since January. It’s explicitly related to the field of Science Fiction and Fantasy literature, so I won’t bore anyone with all the long, nerdish details. Suffice to say, the Sad Puppies 3 project has brought me into the epicenter of a heated contest inside the field. It’s a very “inside baseball” affair. But today — thanks to the magic of the internet — it took on a much wider, much more personal dimension.

Because a blog “journalist” named Isabella Biedenharn — working beneath the banner of Entertainment Weekly — penned a short, error-laden article titled, “Hugo award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting.” The mistakes in the article could have been easily avoided if Isabella had done some research into the issue she was reporting on. Near as I can tell, Isabella was spoon-fed some links and a very rushed and sloppy narrative about Sad Puppies 3 being racist and woman-hating, and she posted all of this without stopping to consider whether or not anything she was disseminating into the wider world was true, and accurate.


Scott Edelman

“In which the Sad Puppies prove to be more powerful than L. Ron Hubbard” – April 6

For those who weren’t around in 1983 … a history lesson. Because, as I’ve said before, science fiction’s culture wars have been with us always.

The Sad Puppies, who have successfully campaigned their slate onto the ballot, hope they can break the Hugo Awards in order to rebuild them—a sentiment which has, I’m afraid, a bit too much of a “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” ring for my comfort. But note this isn’t the first time such a concept has been put forward.

“If you too are unhappy with the Hugo system, it’s time to do your bit,” wrote Charles Platt in his editorial to the March-May issue of The Patchin Review. He didn’t put a full slate forward back then, just a single novel, written by … well … you can see the name of the author in a box at the bottom of the front cover.

That’s right—L. Ron Hubbard, whose novel Battlefield Earth had been published in 1982.

Platt posited in his editorial—

If he won, would it bring about a reformation of the Hugo system, or even its abolition? There’s only one way to find out.

As Platt shared in the editorial reproduced below, he’d written Hubbard and the organization promoting the novel to let them know one needn’t attend Worldcon in order to make this happen, and that anyone willing to cough up $15.00 for a supporting membership could vote.


Rhiain on According To Hoyt

“Not Your Shield – Rhiain” – April 7

Yes, it is that simple. This non-white chica will be happy to rub that in your face for as long as it takes. Your multicultural diversity schtick bores me, is completely without reason, and is annoying the hell out of me with all the overemotional and oversentimental tripe thrown in. You call this a justification for the current status quo of the Hugos as recently as last year? The more you whine about your lack of privilege in this arena, the more other non-white people who refuse to be classified as such are going to start speaking up to make you look like an utter fool.

This is a class issue, a race issue, a gender issue.

This middle-class, Samoan female says this is only in your imagination, and only because you keep hammering on this point like there’s no tomorrow. You know what’s interesting about a hammer? It’s actually two tools in one – one to put the nail in, and one to take the nail out. You’re just pissed because other people are able to take that hammer away from you and use it to remove the nails you keep trying to put in. I’m a patient woman, and I’m willing to learn how to use tools for everything they’re intended for .

And I know some of you have a hard time with that concept. I don’t care. You’ve had plenty of time to figure it out. I’m real tired of your inability to understand these things.

Oh, I understand these things perfectly, but I refuse your attempts to maintain this as the overall narrative. No. You have not yet begun to see pushback on your lazy, self-absorbed whining.

Do you hear me, Tempest?


And so help me God, people like me are going to break it into irrecoverable pieces.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I want to add something: I despise the hypocrisy on full display in this post. Here’s a non-white woman who grew up with more privilege than I did complaining about the lack of diversity in the Hugo Award nominations, and trying her best to persuade fellow scifi fans that promoting a more diverse platform in the name of equality should be done by excluding certain people because of their skin color and sex


John O’Neill on Black Gate

Black Gate Nominated for a Hugo Award in a Terrible Ballot

However, this isn’t a major accomplishment. As I demonstrated in my comment to Matthew above, it can be done by as few as 200-300 people. There are literally dozens of individuals (and companies) inside the industry who could mobilize that many people with relative ease (and a few, like George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, and Joss Whedon, who could easily mobilize thousands.)

But it has never been done before, because it’s been completely apparent to everyone that such an effort would damage the integrity of the Hugo awards. Worse, it would negate an entire year of Hugo Awards.

But John!, you say. Sure it’s been done before! Look at what Tor and DAW have done. Or that rascal John Scalzi!

Except, John Scalzi never did anything like this. He posted the entire Hugo ballot on his blog some time ago, and invited readers to make a case for their favorites. But he never advocated for a single writer, or slate of writers, as a block vote.

But John!, you say. The Puppies haven’t negated anything. They’ve just put the candidates they believe in on the ballot. They’ll win this year, they’ll sell lots of books, the industry will benefit, and all will be well.

No, it won’t. Because it’s highly likely that all three short fiction categories will go to “No Award” this year. That’s exactly how the Sad Puppy ballot was treated last year, and it’s a virtual certainly that it will happen again this year. Already the backlash is louder and more aggrieved than it was last year.

The Sad Puppies should have known this. Maybe they did know it, and they don’t care. Maybe they just want to wreck the awards. If that’s their plan, they’re doing a pretty good job.

John O’Neill in a comment —

I think what you’ve done sets a dangerous precedent that could spell the end of the awards if it’s not quashed immediately, and I feel strongly enough about that that I would be willing to burn a Hugo Award for Black Gate to send that message.


Charles Stross on Antipope

“The Biggest Little SF Publisher you never heard of pulls on the jackboots”

Vox Day writes:

It’s time for the church leaders and the heads of Christian families to start learning from #GamerGate, to start learning from Sad Puppies, and start leading. Start banding together and stop accommodating the secular world in any way. Don’t hire those who hate you. Don’t buy from those who wish to destroy you. Don’t work with those who denigrate your faith, your traditions, your morals, and your God. Don’t tolerate or respect what passes for their morals and values.

Over a period of years, he’s built an international coalition, finding common cause with the European neo-nazi fringe. Now they’ve attempted to turn the Hugo Awards into a battlefield in their (American) culture wars. But this clearly isn’t the end game they have in mind: it’s only a beginning. (The Hugos, by their very nature, are an award anyone can vote in for a small fee: it is interesting to speculate on how deep Vox Day’s pockets are.) But the real burning question is, “what will he attack next?”


 John Scalzi on Whatever

“Human Shields, Cabals and Poster Boys” – April 7

Also, let me suggest that when Brad Torgersen (or whomever) went off notifying people of their presence on the slate, he probably did not lead with “Hi, would you like to be part of a slate of nominees whose organizers whine darkly and incessantly about the nefarious conspiracies of the evil social justice warriors to infiltrate all levels of science fiction, and which will also implictly tie you and your work to at least one completely bigoted shitmagnet of a human being?” Rather more likely he played up the “we’re trying to get stuff on the ballot we think is cool that doesn’t usually get on it” angle and downplayed, you know, that other stuff.

And you might think, well, how can you miss that other stuff? The short answer to that is that, as difficult as it might seem, not everyone actually spends a lot of time following the Hugo and the controversies therein. It was, until very recently, kind of an insider sport. So it’s possible to have missed this stuff and/or not fully grasped the implications of it until after the awards came out. Not for me, clearly, and possibly not for you. But it is possible.

It’s difficult to miss them now, of course. But this increases my sympathy for these nominees. The whole reason the Puppies are so transparently covetous of the Hugos is that they are a big deal in a (relatively) small community. So imagine being part of this community, being told that you’ve gotten a Hugo nomination, and then finding out that there’s this metric load of toxicity around it, manufactured by the people who got you the ballot — or at least claim that they did.


Matthew Foster on Foster on Film

“The Hugos, Minor Disappointment, and the Sad Puppies” – April 5

As for gaming the Hugo awards, it is surprisingly easy. Like all popularity contests, it doesn’t take much to mess it all up. It only keeps a feeling of legitimacy as long as everyone is very polite and careful, because there’s no rule that says you can’t muck it up. The Hugo nominations come from the attendees of this year’s, last year’s, and next year’s WorldCon convention. That’s not a huge group (and figure many people haven’t bought their memberships to this year’s or next year’s yet). Actual number of ballots comes out not greatly over 2000, and if no one is playing games, the nominations are spread out over a huge number of different stories, books, etc. So, if you can get 200 people to vote along a party line, you’ll win. This is even easier since you don’t have to go to the convention, just sign up for a voting membership, pay $40, and you’re good to go.

Individuals have been making suggestions for nominations for years—as individuals. A writer or editor might suggest the stories they thought were worthy of an award. Individuals would suggest what they liked. Sad Puppies, though, was a political movement. It wasn’t an individual saying what he liked, but a group, bound together, to stop things from winning that didn’t share their politics. And while following the rules, is a dick thing to do. It is like those films that won Oscars after their distributers went over the normally expected promoting, and basically bought the statue. Talk to film fanatics, and those awards will always be tainted.

“Part 2: The Hugos, Minor Disappointment, and the Sad Puppies” – April 5

Sad Puppies leadership had changed. Correia turned it over to Brad Torgersen. Torgersen is a different kind of bird than Correia. He doesn’t burst into bouts of swearing, avoids blatantly racists statements, and his insult tend to avoid simply name-calling (though he did suddenly find the need to call me fat in a conversation that was irrelevant to my weight and that I wasn’t supposed to see, but I’ll just take that as his writer’s need to be descriptive, and I have put on a few pounds over the years). He’s still following the “leftist cliques are out to get us” troupe and he still names the same people Day did as opponents. But he has a lighter touch.

His line is that all the meaning in writing, all these themes and messages, are bad, and that science fiction needs to be fun tales of adventure. It needs to be about manly men (he actually uses that term) performing daring exciting deeds and things ending up happy in the end. That the leftists (social justice warriors) have been putting in all these messages into fiction (which is bad) and then getting those stories given awards (again, through secret insider trading). I tried to explain this view to a friend and she just stared at me. It is hard to imagine any artist objecting to theme. Pretty much every other artist I’ve ever met: filmmakers, painters, sculptors, and other writers, wanted to say something with their art. It’s kind of the point. Otherwise, what you’re making is equivalent to a rollercoaster. It can be fun, for a moment, but that’s about it.


Mary Robinette Kowal

“Please stop with the deaththreats and the hate mail” – April 7

I, too, am angry about how things went down with the Hugos, but am also realistic about the fact that much of the work — not all of it — but a lot of it is on there because people are legitimately excited about it. Yes, there are some things from Rabid Puppies that seem to be there purely for shock value.  But others? Sheila Gilbert does damn good work. Jim Butcher is a serious writer.

When I sit down to vote, I am, in fact, going to open every file and start reading it. As soon as it doesn’t work for me, I’m going to shut the document. Now, in two cases, I’ll admit, that means that the author’s name is as far as I’m going to read because I’m familiar with their work and know that it makes me angry. I am not going to vote for it, so why make myself angry for no reason?

Everyone else? Sure. Let’s see if that’s fiction that I might enjoy. I have voted for works before of authors who I have disagreed with politically. Shocking, but true.


Doctor Science at Obsidianwings

“Hugo ballot go BOOM” – April 6

  1. My Opinions, Which Are Mine:
  2. Elizabeth Bear, abi sutherland, many commenters at Making Light, and especially Cat (in a comment she cross-posted widely) have persuaded me that slates wreck the process of voting for awards. Slates are useful and often necessary when you’re voting for people who need to work with each other (= politics), but they’re destructive to the process of choosing excellence. Slates narrow the field radically, and let (or force) voters to make their choices other than from their own personal perspective, which is naturally idiosyncratic.

Mieneke van der Salm on A Fantastical Librarian

“2015 Hugo Awards Nomination Thoughts” – April 7

On the Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast in the interview episode with Larry Correia and Brad Torgerson, Torgerson stated something to the effect that SJWs/the Hugo voting public thought his ‘side’ were having fun wrong. But to me that just smacked of hypocrisy as by his standards I’m having my fun wrong, since I enjoy works that include stuff I find important that clashes with his preferences. So I value diversity, equality, and yes, I’d call myself a feminist. That does not make me an SJW as the Puppies designate everyone who holds these values. And yes, looking at my nominating slate, my nominees reflect my preferences, but I didn’t pick them based on this. I picked them because I very much enjoyed reading them.

There’s lots of authors I love, who have never been nominated for a Hugo, who are very successful commercially, but will probably never be nominated, such as Mercedes Lackey, Robin Hobb, Trudi Canavan, or Jacqueline Carey to name but a few. But there are also a large number of authors I love that fit the “SJW-message fic” the Sad Puppies decry who haven’t made the ballot either (thus far; I still remain hopeful for the future) so I can understand it is frustrating not seeing the things you love on the ballot, but I very much think what happened with the SP/RP slates isn’t the answer.



Mike Scott on Dr. Plokta

 “Hugo Puppies”

The problem with the puppy slates is not that they’ve got stuff on the ballot. They’re members of the Worldcon, and they’re entitled to have the stuff they nominated on the ballot, regardless of their decision processes in making their choices. The problem is that they have kept off the ballot some other stuff that most voters would probably prefer to vote for. So what we should be doing is preventing a slate from forcing stuff off the ballot, not from getting stuff on the ballot. The voters can then use their alternative vote preferences to take care of the slate, as happened last year when the slate failed to completely dominate any categories. It seems to me, therefore, that the solution is to have some rule for varying the size of the final list of nominees in each category based on the nominating patterns. Nothing on a slate would be banned or disqualified, but the slate wouldn’t be allowed to dominate any category. We already do this a bit — we increase the number of nominees if there’s a tie for fifth place, and we reduce the number if not enough nominees pass the 5% threshold. I would propose that for each category we take the total number of nominations received in that category, subtract the number of nominations received by the most popular nominee in the category (thus removing the effect of a slate, if there is one, on the numbers), and then the shortlist consists of everything that got at least 10% of the remaining number, but with a minimum of five per category and scrapping the existing 5% rule (which has already been causing problems).


Brad Templeton on Brad Ideas

“Hugo Awards suborned, what can or should be done” – April 5

Eliminating the supporting membership, or boosting it

Two contradictory suggestions. If only people who buy the much more expensive “attending” membership can nominate or vote, it becomes very difficult to convince people to just buy memberships to promote an agenda. On the other hand, it’s a matter of debate whether a lot of the SPs were outsiders who came in just to nominate their agenda. The alternate suggestion is to make it very cheap to nominate and vote, so lots more people do it, overwhelming the affect of slates. I seriously doubt that would work.

Variations could include allowing supporting memberships only for recent holders of attending memberships, or those who have not had a worldcon on their continent for several years (and thus could not attend.) One could even count actual attendance based on who picked up badges.

Allowing fewer nominations than slots

Today you can nominate 5 works for 5 positions, allowing a slate sweep. Making it so you get fewer nominations than there are slots makes it much harder to do a slate sweep, though you can still have a slate that pushes some number of non-slate works off the ballot. A sweep is still possible, but requires a group twice the size.

Note that this, or any other change the rules requires 2 years to enact, as all changes must be voted on at one convention, ratified at the next, and come into effect at the next after that.

It’s also been proposed to develop rules to greatly increase the number of slots (particularly if a slate is present) to make sure non-slate works are not pushed off. Unfortunately, a ballot of 10 or 15 entries is not workable, nobody has time to read them all.

Elimination Nomination

Well known cryptographer Ron Rivest has proposed a nomination system where ballots may nominate several entries, but as soon as one of those entries makes the ballot, the ballot is eliminated, and none of its other nominations will go in tallies. (In one variation the nominations may be given preferences, so that we understand the voter’s desire as to which candidate should get a nomination if it is to be only one of them.) This approach resists slates, and any other clustering of nominations, producing much greater diversity in the ballot — possibly to the extreme. (For example, if a large section of nominators strongly favour one particular subgenre, like hard SF, and send in only that, then once the most popular of their group choice gets a nomination, the rest have much reduced chances of getting one.)

Another proposal involves weighted nominations, where nominators can spread a fixed number of points over their nominees. This encourages ballots with just one nominee among those who care.

These systems resist slates, but introduce strategic factors into the nomination process. Generally, the Hugo awards seek a system where “strategy” is not productive. This is why the ranked single-transferable-vote system is used in the actual voting. In the prior system, there are few effective stratagems, except collusion, which is what SP introduced.

This proposal and much discussion can be found in an article by my fellow EFF board member Bruce Schneier on the Making Light blog.




“How to Vote ‘No Award’ in the 2015 Hugo Awards So that Good Triumphs over Evil”

It is the belief of the creators of this web site that the perpetrators of this action have damaged those who would otherwise have been nominated by actual fans of the field, that they have damaged several people on their “slate” who apparently did not realized they were being so used, and that they have shown their disdain for fans and fandom through this process.

It is our intention to help people “reward” them as they so richly deserve. We also recommend that, since they clearly do not care about fans or fandom, convention runners do whatever possible to ensure that the actual perpetrators of this bit of ugliness never have to interact with fans at conventions again.


Dara Korra’ti on Crime and the Forces of Evil

“on buying some hugo awards and voting NO AWARD” – April 7

Some fans are considering counter-slates for future years. I cannot state strongly enough: This would be a disaster. And not just because it would insure the Puppies more slate victories. To reply with counter-slates would be to enter what in foreign affairs is called a Red Queen’s Race – a continuing escalation of resource expenditure to less and less effect resulting eventually in structural collapse. (See also: wars of terrorism, current case study: Syria. But I digress.)

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Remember, above, how I mentioned that Mission Earth: Volume 1 finished behind NO AWARD?

If NO AWARD wins, no Hugo in that category is awarded. This has happened before – not since 1976, I think, but it has happened.

NO AWARD short-circuits the Red Queen’s Race. It makes all slate efforts null and void, as long as fans collectively decide not to award any award in slate-controlled categories. It burns most of one year, to save the rest. Compared to the alternative of competing political slates that reduce the value and meaning of the award to absolutely nothing on any axis – other than spite – it’s a dramatically better option.


David Gerrold on Facebook

One of my pen names, registered with the Writers Guild of America, is “Noah Ward.”

I have used that pen name on two scripts, so it is an active pseudonym.

Should “no award” win any Hugos in August, I intend to take the trophies home myself.

And no, I am not campaigning.

Attending Worldcon in a Robot Body: Brad Templeton Tells All

Officer Sue Smith Interrogates Brad Templeton, attending Loncon 3 via telepresence.

Officer Sue Smith Interrogates Brad Templeton, attending Loncon 3 via telepresence. Photo by Francis Hamit.

Brad Templeton and Kathryn Myronuk attended Loncon 3 using a mobile telepresence bot called a “Beam.” Physically, they were in Idaho the whole weekend. (Francis Hamit photographed them for his Loncon 3 report.)

Brad has just written a detailed account of the experience:

It was particularly rewarding to be the first to use a device like the Beam at a convention like this. Science Fiction readers were of course largely fascinated by it and a thousand photos were posed for and many tweets were sent out. Almost everybody was extremely friendly. Too friendly perhaps, as it became very difficult to travel with purpose, as every few feet people wanted to stop me and chat. People were super helpful because of the novelty. Others who have done this have noted that they go to events and have no trouble getting famous and important people to talk to them, people who would not normally do so if you were there in the flesh. If you want to meet people this is a good way to do it.

Many were super helpful. Not just opening doors and pushing elevator buttons, but being my hands when I went into a charity casino, or setting a place for me to watch the awards ceremony. (Because the Beam is 5′ tall it must go where it will not block other people’s view.) They were not just willing to help but eager, in order to enjoy the novelty.

The operations manager for the convention even asked me to do a volunteer ops shift, answering people’s questions, which I did, and got “Staff” status in exchange. With a bit of preparation, such as a link to the staff radio network and databases, there is no reason one could not do staff work piloting such a robot. Indeed, Suitable Tech believes many jobs can be done entirely remotely, and even staffs their experimental retail store with nothing but remote workers — there are no flesh humans in the store at all.

Kathryn Myronuk has written her own notes and observations on Making Light, such as —

* Fandom will be developing norms on how remotely-presenced people attend cons, and I can see serious talks coming up. We weren’t allowed into the video room or to JRRM’s reading. We were Ramez Naam’s guest for the Hugo Loser’s party, but we were only allowed in after the room voted on it [would a group of SF writers vote “no” to let a robot in?]

* As B notes, he bought a membership, our local London friend who brought the Beam was there for free as our mobility helper, and I was often on the Beam too. If we’d been asked to buy a second membership we would have, but it wasn’t asked. Were we two people attending? What will attendance mean? Will people”just” using it for convenience or budget be considered differently from people using one by necessity?

[Thanks to Bill Higgins for the story.]

Brad Templeton’s Modest Proposals

Brad Templeton came home from Anticipation with a hatful of ideas for making Worldcons more of a community experience. The one I liked best was about using more focused facilities:

Because they are always held where deals are to be had on hotels and convention space, it is not uncommon for them to get the entire convention center or a large portion of it. This turns out to be a temptation which most cons succumb to, but should not.

Read his blog for the factual breakdown and analysis. I would only add that committees yield to this temptation while they are still in the Worldcon bidding process. Advertising plans to use a fine convention center makes bidders more competitive. Then after winning, in the tradition of Parkinson’s Laws, the con expands to fill the space available. The best chance of concentrating activity into something with a sense of neighborhood is if lots of fans tell bidders they don’t prefer expansive use of a big city convention center with endless corridors.

Templeton also thinks Worldcons are more enjoyable when the attendees have more experiences in common. For example:

Anticipation offered an interesting mostly plenary session with Charlie Stross and Paul Krugman, and it did indeed become a shared experience and talking point for the whole crowd. Strangely, Anticipation actually scheduled several sessions opposite the Hugo Awards which is almost always a plenary.

He also believes that programs ought to be in the right size rooms to accommodate their audiences, though as a former program organizer I admit my reflexive response to his solution was “Hanging’s too good for him!”:

At Anticipation, I attended a session on the last day (usually sparse) on the Fermi paradox. It was in a small room and standing room only. Across the hall was an author reading in a large room with 2 audience members. So I pulled a “panel switch” and asked the author if she would mind moving to a small empty room with her reading, and she was nice and did.

When I approached the idea a bit more flexibly, my main concern was information-sharing after the swap. What’s supposed to happen to the people who come by during the hour looking for the item in the original room? Says Templeton:

Of course you also need to be able to quickly put up signs about the room switch.

Right. Informing the world about unilateral room changes arranged by panelists shouldn’t be too tough. How about a gofer on a Segway with a printer in her backpack roving the halls outside program rooms checking to see if the original panel is still inside? No, no, I’m still not being flexible enough. Really, if panelists work this out between themselves, then they can take a pen and a couple pieces of paper and put up their own signs too. Most people will end up where they want to go. Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

I liked Templeton’s challenge for committees to allow absent winners to participate remotely in the Hugo Ceremonies:

Surprisingly, at least at the Hugo awards, I’ve never seen them get the absent nominees or winner on the phone to let them accept in person.

This sounds like a genuinely modest request even to me, a jaded conrunner who tends to believe “Tech always fails.” The question is what technology to gamble on.

This is a little tricky as sending video requires a fair bit of CPU. You can’t readily be sending Skype to multiple nominees without multiple PCs. You can however send a video feed using other live streaming video tools which send one video to a master server from which people can stream. Indeed, for the Hugo awards, it would be possible for all sorts of absent people to watch the awards live via video.

Beginning any advice about tech with the phrase “this is a little tricky” is fatal so far as my interest is concerned. But as Templeton points out, there are various ways this can be done, whether there’s full-on video, a voice-only connection, or simply Tweets from the absent winner.

[Via Tom Galloway.]