SF&F Translation Awards Ended

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards series has come to an end. Cheryl Morgan, a director of the Association for the Recognition of Excellence in SF & F Translation (ARESFFT) which administered the award, announced October 29 the organization is being dissolved.

There are many reasons for this, but mostly they are to do with the time and effort required to run the awards on an amateur basis. It has become increasingly difficult to find people willing to act as jurors. Several of the existing Directors have had major changes in their lives that have left them with far less free time than they had previously. And all attempts to find new Directors have failed to produce any volunteers.

The members of the Board of Directors were Gary K. Wolfe, President, Kevin Standlee, Secretary-Treasurer, Melissa Conway, Rob Latham, Cheryl Morgan and Nalo Hopkinson.

The SF&F Translation Awards were given from 2011-2013.

Comics Unmasked at British Library

The British Library’s exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK runs through August 19. (Parental guidance required for visitors under 16 years.)

Comics Unmasked is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states. It explores the full anarchic range of the medium with works that challenge categorisation, preconceptions and the status quo, alongside original scripts, preparatory sketches and final artwork that demystify the creative process.

Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) and Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe) are some of the stars of an exhibit that stretches back in time to encompass 19th-century illustrated reports of Jack the Ripper, and medieval manuscripts.

Cheryl Morgan and James Bacon have toured the exhibit and written up their impressions.

comics-unmaked-british-library-01-628x840 COMPRESSMorgan looked for the message in the physical display as well as the literary themes in “The British Library Does #ComicsUnmasked” —

Finally, as we have got onto gender issues, I note in passing that the exhibition space is littered with mannequins dressed as political protesters and wearing V for Vendetta masks. What Alan Moore thinks of that, I shudder to think. On close examination it is obvious that many of the mannequins are female. However, they are small-breasted (especially in comparison with comic-book women) and are all wearing androgynous outfits comprising jeans, t-shirts and hoodies, plus the undeniably male Guy Fawkes masks, and that makes it look like all of the figures are male. I found that rather off-putting.

Morgan also notes there is “a remarkable suffragette poster that I suspect will horrify most modern social justice campaigners.”

Forbidden Planet hosts James Bacon’s text and many photos — “James Reports From the British Library’s Superb Comics Unmasked” includes a photo of that dread poster, by the way. And offers these insights into what the curators are trying to achieve:

Along with Paul Gravett are co-curator John Harris Dunning, Adrian Edwards and Roger Walshe of the British Library. Walshe repeatedly says that he is not apologising for what is on display; this is a strong exhibition that some might find alarming, controversial, but the message here is that comics are not just for kids, and the exhibition is about the message of the media of comics, not any particular genre. Yes, comics are fun, they are a pastime, they are beautiful, they are fantasy, they are powerful, they are a true form of literature, imparting dangerous thoughts and ideas, asking questions of the reader, forcing reflection and consideration, or making laughter.

He Cast In A Line And Pulled Out — A Kraken!

If you want links to posts about resigned Hugo Ceremony MC Jonathan Ross and how his story played out online, Google will give you a list that goes on for pages. The very thought of anyone doing that search reminded me of Howard Waldrop’s headlined quote.

But File 770 having taken on the story, I owe you a few examples of the reaction and the backlash that have followed.

Apologies are always the most unexpected events on the internet. Two have been noteworthy.

John Picacio thought in light of the personal invective tweeted at Jonathan Ross, his daughter and his wife (who has since pulled the plug on her Twitter account) the science fiction field owed them an apology, so he stepped up to offer it:

This note is for you, Mr. Ross, your wife, daughters, and family members that have been hurt by recent events involving the Hugo Awards Emcee reaction….

Because I am a working professional within the sf/f publishing field and an artist who has been fortunate enough to win two Hugos, I am a part of the sf/f community by default, whether I chose to speak out or not, and I regret that I didn’t on Saturday. Thus, just by professional association, I DO have something to do with this community when some of its very vocal professionals make emotionally-loaded and potentially hurtful statements that end up reflecting on our entire community.

Watching fellow professionals attack Mr. Ross on Twitter was disappointing, to say the least. They said that Mr. Ross’ performance behaviors were justification for saying that he wasn’t welcome because those behaviors made some of them feel uncomfortable.

Their comfort levels are their prerogative, as are mine. I have the right to not needlessly demonize or vilify a complete stranger, and assume the worst of that individual. I have the right to not be afraid to speak out and instead ask, “Is it really necessary to allow fear to rule the day and indict someone for behavior toward this event that hasn’t even happened yet?”

Even Seanan McGuire apologized to the daughter for some of what she said —

@HoneyKinny I am genuinely sorry to have caused you pain. I will consider my platform for speaking better the next time I have concerns.

Disgusted by what passed on Twitter, some now seem intent on romanticizing the victimhood of Jonathan Ross, although Ross himself poured gasoline on the fire (tweeting to one critic “absurd. I’ll happily buy the ticket off you and give it someone less stupid.”)

Jo Fletcher, appealing to the better angels of our nature, idealized both Ross and the SF/F community.

What we got was a sudden outpouring of hateful and bullying messages, and not just to the convention committee, but to Jonathan Ross himself: the avowed and passionate SF fan who offered his time and services free of charge to host an awards ceremony for the field he loves.

And now the SFF community is making front pages, and not for the right reasons, for the amazing literature or the outstanding artwork science writers and artists working within the genre are producing, but for the vindictive trolling reaction to something a number of those within the community don’t approve of. Watching the fall-out on Sunday and this morning, I felt ashamed for the community in which I have grown up. I hoped we were better than this.

Two friends sent me the link to Hayley Campbell’s New Statesman piece, “Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction’s self-appointed gatekeepers?” A sentence in Hayley’s lead paragraph began, “The Hugo award is a vaguely dildo-shaped silver rocketship…” So really I was already finished with her post at that point.

Fortunately she also tweeted this Reader’s Digest condensed version

I wrote about the Hugo awards and twitter being a bunch of dicks.

Yes, that about sums it up. Still, I was convinced my friends must have had a good reason for recommending the article and I persisted to the end. The best parts paraphrase Cheryl Morgan’s post on the subject. Nothing wrong with that. But if you choose you can go direct to the source.

Many commenters have complimented Morgan’s post “Ross, the Hugos and the Oscars” for its balanced approach:

So to my mind Ross is a pretty good candidate for a Hugo ceremony host. He’s a genuine fan with a lot of respect for the awards. He’s also got a huge media profile and would have got us lots of press coverage. He has, on the one occasion I know of, engaged respectfully with a minority group that was upset with one of his shows. And hosting award ceremonies is something he has done professionally.

I understand that he had agreed to do the job without pay, which I think says a lot about how he felt about the Hugos.

However, one of the things about intersectionality is that you need to take note of what other people think. Just because you have no problem with someone, it doesn’t mean that everyone else does. You have to listen to what others say, and respect their points of view. So while I would have been happy with Ross as the host, I have to take into account that many other people object very strongly to him because of things he has said or done in the past.

And there’s gold in the comments. Martin Easterbrook, co-chair of the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon, was unexpectedly critical of both the Loncon 3 chairs and the in-house opponents to Ross’ selection:

Firstly I need to point out that in the run up to the Worldcon the committee cannot put their side of the story. Anything they say will contribute to further ill feeling and they are quite correctly staying silent.

I think we have to be clear how we got here. We got here because people on both sides felt that some belief of theirs was more important than fandom. When the problem came to a head they felt it was more important to win than to find a way of resolving the situation for the benefit of fandom as a whole. I don’t think this was entirely conscious but derives from not having had enough contact with people who think differently.

I’ve been one of these people on occasion but perhaps now we are staring into the abyss we should all reconsider.

The one piece of the history that I will quote is that both sides agree there was a critical conversation. Both sides describe it as “X would not listen to any of my arguments”.

As far as I can tell neither side ever once thought of offering the other some kind of compromise or acknowledged that the other had reasonable grounds for their opinion.

The result of all this is a badly broken toy between two sets of squabbling children….

Civics Lesson

Cheryl Morgan begins her post titled “On Fan Categories”

Having listened to the latest Galactic Suburbia podcast, I feel the need to point out that the fan categories in the Hugos are not, and never have been, defined by content. You do not have to write about fandom, or write in a “fannish” way (whatever that means). All that is required is that you do what you do out of the goodness of your heart, and for the good of the community (at least as you see it) rather than being paid to do it.

In respect to the Best Fan Writer Hugo, Cheryl’s first two sentences are spot on. The third expresses a lovely sentiment about amateurism, a requirement stripped from the Hugo rules many years ago. I was surprised to see Cheryl, in particular, making this misstatement.

Eligibility for the Best Fan Writer Hugo is defined in the WSFS Constitution:

3.3.15: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.

Those same rules say a “fanzine” is a publication that does not pay its contributors other than in copies. In contrast, a “semiprozine” does pay other than in copies. Pays in money, generally.

And writers who have appeared in either type of publication during the previous calendar year are eligible to be nominated for Best Fan Writer.

I assume it’s simply a mistake, though one that struck me as odd given Cheryl’s history as a champion of the semiprozine category. When Ben Yalow and Chris Barkley tried to abolish the category in 2009, Cheryl did as much as anyone to preserve its existence.

The balance of her remarks are familiar axe-grinding, though with a more grandiose strategy:

I should add that one of the reasons I feel so strongly about this because when I started out people tried to bar me from the fan categories on the grounds that my work was “not fannish”. You may find this hard to believe, but back in the 20th Century many people thought that book reviews were an inappropriate subject for fan writing.

Some of the same people having hurt my feelings now and again, I could supply a list of the names she probably has in mind.

However, having begun with an exposition about the fan Hugo rules, Cheryl here invites the uneducated reader to mistakenly draw a line between that discussion and the allegation that people “tried to bar [her] from the fan categories.” Someone needs to say that is an unjustified connection. For somebody to say they don’t like Cheryl’s writing is one thing. (By the way, I ordinarily find her writing very interesting, whether or not I agree.) However, getting “barred” would involve an abuse of the rules or the interference of a Hugo Administrator for which no evidence has been provided.

LSC3 Apologizes for Hugo Broadcast

LoneStarCon 3 says its own upload stream caused the freezes and blackouts that marred last night’s broadcast of the Hugo Awards Ceremony. Ustream is not to blame.

LSC3 has posted this notice online —

LoneStarCon 3 apologizes for the interruptions to the live broadcast of the 2013 Hugo Awards Ceremony. These problems were caused by issues with the upload stream from the Convention to Ustream. LoneStarCon 3 wishes to make it clear that these technical difficulties were in no way due to Ustream, who have provided excellent support throughout this year’s event.

This is a sensitive subject because last year Ustream’s automated copyright violation monitors killed the broadcast midway through. Ustream did much to make amends to Chicon 7, and whitelisted LSC3’s event this year.

I kept one eye on the broadcast, which had over 700 viewers most of the time, and another eye on CoverItLive, where Mur Lafferty, Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee were texting about the ceremony. It was a bonus when Lafferty had to step away to accept the Campbell Award. Standlee says CoverItLive peaked at 822 viewers.

Flying Finnish

Cheryl Morgan is on her way to Å-con 6 at the Hotel Adlon, Mariehamn, Åland, Finland, which will be happening May 9-12.

Cheryl is taking advantage of her routing through Helsinski to scout the city’s proposed Worldcon facilities, a timely opportunity with 2015 Worldcon Site Selection voting just opened:

[While] I am here I intend to make use of my time looking for things that prospective Worldcon attendees might be interested in. After all, there may be some of you who haven’t yet made up your minds to vote for Helsinki in 2015. If there are any specific questions that people have, please ask them in comments below. I’ll be visiting the convention site on Monday when we have got back from Åcon so I’ll have time to look around, shoot some video, and ask questions.

This reminded me of Jane’s Fighting Smofs and the visits Scott & Jane Dennis made to potential Worldcon sites years ago.

In case you’re wondering, Mariehamn is 325 km away from Helsinki by road on Finland’s west coast. Here’s what this charming minicon has to say about itself —

Å-con-what?
– all of the programming in English
– a small, fannish, literary, cross-cultural relaxacon
– membership cap at about 100 members
– a gathering of fans mainly from Finland and Sweden
– the most fun you can have in a DMZ (at least until Wårldcon)
– Åcon is pronounced awe-con, (it really is that åsome!)

Further Pixel Clippings
About The Hugo Awards

Rose Fox at Genreville emphasizes gender head-counting in her list of highlights:

Firsts: Michelle “Vixy” Dockrey points out that Seanan McGuire is the first woman to ever appear on the Hugo ballot four times in one year (twice under her own name, twice as Mira Grant). I’m pretty sure this is the first time a Hugo acceptance speech has been nominated for a Hugo award. It may also be the first time an April Fool’s joke has been nominated. Kevin Sonney says Ursula Vernon is the first woman to get a solo nomination for Best Graphic Story. And if this isn’t the first time the novella ballot has had five women on it I will be very surprised. For that matter, is this the first time any Hugo category finalist slate has contained no white men?

James Nicoll begins his comment about the Best Fan Writer nominees in ”Again with the Hugos”

I would just like to say even I was shocked at how quickly my sense of entitlement set in and I am me so am pretty familiar with how I think.

You and me both! I’m embarrassed to admit I feel like Captain Hook’s crocodile, expecting the next bite to be right around the corner.

Cheryl Morgan confesses in “Nominee Time” how hard it supposedly was to keep from following the example of Christopher Priest:

As I noted on Twitter, not one of my nominees made it to the Best Novel short list. NOT ONE! I am totally outraged and will now go off and get very drunk, after which I will write a lengthy rant about how the Hugo Jury has failed in its duty and should be taken out and shot. But, being mildly sensible, even when drunk, I won’t post it.

Cheryl can also show you on a map where the center of the world is so far as the Hugo Awards are concerned –

My friends at BASFA have done very well. Chris Garcia is all over the ballot, but congratulations are also due to Spring Schoenhuth and Maurine Starkey who get their first and second ever nominations respectively in Fan Artist.

Finally, Cheryl’s ”Further Hugo Thoughts” reveals this news story –

There was apparently an error in the embargoed press release sent out by Chicon 7 that led to Brad Foster being left off the Fan Artist nominees in many announcements. This was another of those “tie for 5th place” issues, and somehow one of the six nominees got dropped.

One more reason to be happy I don’t get a copy of the embargoed press release.  Kevin Standlee supplied the first reason, telling readers of his LiveJournal how he received a copy to use in his work on The Hugo Awards official website and Kevin become so nervous about honoring the deadline that he made all his preparations on a computer that was disconnected from the web.

And I gave myself a panic attack anyway. When the press release popped into my in-box on Saturday I posted it as quick as I could. Then I drove off to do an errand. In the car I suddenly wondered – that wasn’t an embargoed copy, was it? I pulled over and used my Kindle to check. Whew! It was marked “For Immediate Release.”

Does Conreporter.com Have a Future?

Although Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee’s Convention Reporter site has provided ambitious coverage of several conventions since its 2009 launch, there have been no new reports on anything since Aussiecon 4. Acknowledging that no volunteers came forward to cover Easter weekend cons, they’re now thinking of shuttering the site.

Cheryl Morgan analyzed why the project wasn’t more successful on her personal blog. She asked anyone interested in the site or the domain name to contact her, otherwise it will be going away.

[Thanks to The Crotchety Old Fan for the story.]