Pixel Scroll 9/25/16 Keep Your Scrolls Close, But Keep Your Pixels Closer

(1) SFWA IN A TENT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America had a tent at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival. Here’s some highlights.

The SFWA line up #bmorebookfest

A post shared by Anne Tibbets (@annetibbets) on

(2) OVERTIME. William Patrick Maynard tells how “Phileas Fogg Finds Immortality” at Black Gate.

When Jules Verne created gentleman adventurer Phileas Fogg in his 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, he had no way of imagining the bizarre turn his character’s chronicles would take a century later. When Philip Jose Farmer added The Other Log of Phileas Fogg to his Wold Newton Family series in 1973, he had no way of imagining that four decades later there would exist a Wold Newton specialty publisher to continue the esoteric literary exploits of some of the last two centuries’ most fantastic characters.

(3) HOW THIS YEAR’S HUGO BASES WERE MADE. Read artist Sara Felix’s Facebook post about creating the bases. And there’s an Instagram from the company that did the fabrication.

(4) HUGO LOSER DIFFERENT FROM JUST PLAIN LOSER. The Vancouver Sun ran an article on Sebastian de Castell, with a Puppyish spin on events, “The time George R.R. Martin called Vancouver writer Sebastien de Castell a loser”.

It was nothing personal, though. In fact, it had little to do with de Castell at all. De Castell was at the annual celebration of science fiction and fantasy writing/fandom because he had made the Hugo shortlist for best new writer. De Castell figured he would lose to Andy Weir of The Martian fame — he was correct in this prediction — and he assumed Martin believed the same thing.

But Martin was also reacting to the fact that de Castell had been nominated in part because of the efforts of two fan voting blocs: the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. The Puppies groups have caused chaos in the Hugo Awards and the broader sci-fi and fantasy communities lately by trying to fight what they see as the takeover of the awards by “social justice warriors” who vote for politically correct works at the expense of good writing and storytelling. Both the Sad Puppies, created by bestselling author Larry Correia, and the Rabid Puppies, launched by right-wing writer Vox Day, have put forward slates of suggested writers and works to vote for, and de Castell wound up on just such a list much to his surprise.

Sebastien de Castell elaborated in this Reddit thread: As Peter [reporter Peter Darbyshire] noted in the article, George R.R. Martin wasn’t being hurtful towards me at all–he was simply calling it as he saw it and, of course, was completely correct in his assessment. My mature, adult self understood that there was nothing ungracious on his part in our very brief encounter. My eight year-old inner self, of course, had quite reasonably been expecting his first words to me to be, “What? Sebastien de Castell? By Jove, chap, I’ve been looking all over for you in order to praise your works as the finest in a generation. Also, because I’d love your thoughts on the final books in A Song of Ice & Fire…I happen to have some early pages here if you’d like to read them?”

That’s what Peter and I were discussing in that portion of the interview–the gap for me between feeling like a “big time author” and coming face-to-face with the reality of being a guy who’s really still very much in the early stages of his career.

The most interesting thing about WorldCon (MidAmericon II) for me was how kind people were to me overall. I was very cognizant that my presence on the Campbell shortlist was controversial and likely painful to a lot of people within that community. They had every reason to suspicious and even dismissive of me, but in fact folks were generous and welcoming. David Gerrold gave me some excellent advice on completing the final book in the Greatcoats series, Alyssa Wong was terrific and fun to hang out with (we were the only two Campbell nominees in attendance so our official photos got pretty silly), and I got to spend some time chatting with the brilliant Michael Swanwick.

(5) DC EXPLORING 2024 WORLDCON BID. Their polished website suggests a group that is doing more than just thinking about it, however, they say DC in 2024 is still in the exploratory stage.

We are members of the Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association, Inc. (BWAWA). In 2013, we launched DC17, a bid to host the 2017 Worldcon in Washington, DC at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel… but we lost to Worldcon 75.

We’re back to explore the possibility of hosting the 82nd Worldcon in 2024. Washington, DC is still a super location for a World Science Fiction Convention and we believe it’s time Worldcon returned to DC for the third time. The year 2024 will be the 50th anniversary of Discon II, the last DC Worldcon.

We are still very early in the planning stage. Please check back for information on supporting our bid and our future activities. Our social media links are also still under construction.

They’re exploring right now – but I expect they’ll find they’re bidding if they keeping looking.

(6) WEINBERG OBIT.  SF Site News reports Robert Weinberg (1946-2016) passed away today.

Author Robert Weinberg (b.1946) died on September 25. Weinberg began publishing fiction in 1967 and from 1970 to 1981 edited the fanzine Pulp about pulp magazines. He wrote for Marvel Comics and was known for his art collection. Weinberg also ran a mail order book business until 1997. Weinberg received a special committee award at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon.

Here is the citation that was read at Chicon 7 when Weinberg was presented with his Special Committee Award.

Each year, the Worldcon committee is entitled to recognize someone who has made a difference in our community.  Someone who has made science fiction fandom a better place.  This can be a fan, an author, a bookseller, a collector, a con-runner, or someone who fits into all those and more.  This year, Chicon 7 is pleased to recognize someone who fits into all of those categories.

Robert Weinberg attended his first meeting of the Eastern SF Association in 1963, discovered the club offered something he liked, and became active, eventually becoming the club’s president in 1968.  Maintaining an interest in the pulp magazines which formed so much of the basis for what we read today, Bob published fourteen issues of the fanzine, Pulp, from 1974 through 1980.

In 1968, Bob began publishing readers guides to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, eventually expanding both to book length and publishing additional guides and books about the pulp magazines and the authors who wrote for them.  1973 saw his publication of WT50, an anniversary tribute to Weird Tales, a magazine to which Bob would acquire the rights in 1979 and help revive.

Bob is a collector of science fiction and fantasy art from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, working to preserve art which otherwise might have been lost. His interest in art collection also led to him writing A Biographical Dictionary of SF & Fantasy Artists, which served as a basis for Chicon 7’s Guest of Honor Jane Frank’s own A Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.

Beginning in 1976, Bob began serving as the co-chairman of the Chicago Comicon, then the second largest comic book convention in the United States.  He continued in that position for twenty years before it was sold to Wizard Entertainment.  During that time, Bob also chaired the World Fantasy Convention when it came to Chicago on two different occasions and in 1978 he co-chaired the first major Doctor Who convention in the United States.

Bob has also written his own books, both non-fiction and fiction.. His first novel, The Devil’s Auction, was published in 1988 with more than a dozen novels and collections to follow.  He worked with Martin H. Greenberg to edit and publish numerous anthologies beginning in the 1980s.

Not content to write his own books and monographs, run conventions, and collect art, Bob also, for several years, ran the mail-order Weinberg Books.  Bob offered advice to Alice Bentley when she was setting up The Stars Our Destination, a science fiction specialty bookstore in Chicago from 1988 through 2003.  In 1997, Bob sold his mail order business to Alice.

Bob’s long career as a fan, author, bookseller, collector, and con-runner has helped make science fiction the genre, and the community, it is today.  Chicon 7 would like to recognize Robert Weinberg for his years of service and devotion given to advancing the field of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

(7) PETERSON OBIT. First Fandom member Robert C. Peterson (1921-2016) died August 15. John Coker III wrote the following appreciation:

Robert C. Peterson (May 30, 1921 – August 15, 2016)

Robert Constant Peterson passed away on August 15 after a brief illness.  He is survived by his four sons, John, James, Alan, and Douglas, and his grandchildren, Katherine, Eric, Diana, and Jay.

Robert was preceded in death by his wife of over 50 years, Winifred.

Robert graduated in 1942 from the University of Wyoming and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  He was an avid hiker and was an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club.  He led hikes for the club until just before he turned 80.  He met his wife, Winifred, on a mountain club hike.

Robert was an early fan of science fiction.  In 1994 he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame, and in 2008 he received the Sam Moskowitz Archive Award in recognition of his SF collection.

Robert and Winifred were lifelong members of the Washington Park United Church of Christ and were strong supporters of social justice.  They supported Winifred’s sister Gretchen in her work at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan.  Robert and Winifred travelled extensively in the U.S. and throughout the world.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the American Friends of the ARI (http://www.friends-ari.org/).

(8) GARMAN OBIT. Jack Garman (1944-2016), credited with a judgment call that saved the first moon landing, died September 20 at the age of 72.

On July 20, 1969, moments after mission control in Houston had given the Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle, the O.K. to begin its descent to the moon, a yellow warning light flashed on the cockpit instrument panel. “Program alarm,” the commander, Neil Armstrong, radioed. “It’s a 1202.”

The alarm appeared to indicate a computer systems overload, raising the specter of a breakdown. With only a few minutes left before touchdown on the moon, Steve Bales, the guidance officer in mission control, had to make a decision: Let the module continue to descend, or abort the mission and send the module rocketing back to the command ship, Columbia.

By intercom, Mr. Bales quickly consulted Jack Garman, a 24-year-old engineer who was overseeing the software support group from a back-room console. Mr. Garman had painstakingly prepared himself for just this contingency — the possibility of a false alarm.

“So I said,” he remembered, “on this backup room voice loop that no one can hear, ‘As long as it doesn’t reoccur, it’s fine.’”

At 4:18 p.m., with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining for the descent, Mr. Armstrong radioed: “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Mr. Garman, whose self-assurance and honed judgment effectively saved mankind’s first lunar landing, died on Tuesday outside Houston. He was 72. His wife, Susan, said the cause was complications of bone marrow cancer.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 25, 1959 — Hammer’s The Mummy, seen for the first time in the UK on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 25, 1930  — Shel Silverstein
  • Born September 25, 1951 – Mark Hamill
  • Born September 25, 1952  — Christopher Reeve

(11) JUST BEFORE THE FINAL FRONTIER. Need an excuse to feel miserable? Read “Leonard Nimoy Died Hating William Shatner” at About Entertainment.

(12) CULTURAL APPROPRIATION DEBATE. Kaitlyn Greenidge makes some trenchant comments in “Who Gets To Write What?” for the New York Times.

…Claudia Rankine, when awarded the MacArthur genius grant this past week, noted that the prize was “the culture saying: We have an investment in dismantling white dominance in our culture. If you’re trying to do that, we’re going to help you.” For some, this sounds exciting. For others, this reads as a threat — at best, a suggestion to catch up and engage with a subject, race, that for a long time has been thought of as not “universal,” not “deep” enough for fiction. The panic around all of this is driving these outbursts.

It must feel like a reversal of fate to those who have not been paying attention. The other, who has been relegated to the background character, wise outcast, dash of magic, or terror or cool or symbolism, or more simply emotional or physical whore, is expected to be the main event, and some writers suspect that they may not be up for that challenge.

A writer has the right to inhabit any character she pleases — she’s always had it and will continue to have it. The complaint seems to be less that some people ask writers to think about cultural appropriation, and more that a writer wishes her work not to be critiqued for doing so, that instead she get a gold star for trying.

Whenever I hear this complaint, I am reminded of Toni Morrison’s cool assessment of “anti-P.C. backlash” more than 20 years ago: “What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.”

This debate, or rather, this level of the debate, is had over and over again, primarily because of an unwillingness on one side to consider history or even entertain a long line of arguments in response. Instead, what often happens is a writer or artist acts as though she is taking some brave stand by declaring to be against political correctness. As if our entire culture is not already centered on a very particular version of whiteness that many white people don’t even inhabit anymore. And so, someone makes a comment or a statement without nuance or sense of history, only with an implicit insistence that writing and publishing magically exist outside the structures of power that dominate every other aspect of our daily lives.

Imagine the better, stronger fiction that could be produced if writers took this challenge to stretch and grow one’s imagination, to afford the same depth of humanity and interest and nuance to characters who look like them as characters who don’t, to take those stories seriously and actually think about power when writing — how much further fiction could go as an art.

(13) THE VOX DAY FASHION SHOW. Day spared no effort to fit into the theme of a 5K he ran —  “The Color Run: a story of courage, endurance, and ninjas, part I”.

Spacebunny and Vox Day.

Spacebunny and Vox Day.

We got up very early, so early that it was pretty much a toss of the coin as to whether I’d just stay up all night or not, and made the drive to Lausanne, Switzerland, where we met our friends with whom we were doing the run. We changed in the parking lot, where it was much appreciated how my multicolored tutu nicely matched the colorful logo of the t-shirts we were provided. It was rather cold, which inspired Spacebunny to deliver an equally colorful soliloquy in appreciation for the generosity of the donors who were the reason she was wearing nothing but a bikini under her tutu.

Which, of course, was not as pretty as mine, as hers was only yellow. I pointed out that she would probably be glad to not be wearing very much in the way of clothing once we started running and the sun rose a bit higher in the sky, an intelligent observation that impressed her to such an extent that she expressed a keen wish to feel my teeth in her flesh, a sentiment that she managed to phrase in an admirably succinct manner. She was also delighted to discover that while there were people wearing everything from unicorn suits to dragon outfits, she was the only runner in a bikini.

The Color Run happens in hundreds of town internationally in the course of a year:

The Color Run is a five-kilometer, un-timed event in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners”, are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. With only two rules, the idea is easy to follow:

1Wear white at the starting line!

2Finish plastered in color!

After Color Runners complete the race, the fun continues with an unforgettable Finish Festival. This larger than life party is equipped with music, dancing and massive color throws, which create millions of vivid color combinations. Trust us, this is the best post-5k party on the planet!

(14) REAL NEWS AND A FAKE TRAILER. From Den of Geek, “Doctor Who Spinoff: Class – Latest News”.

Peter Capaldi will be appearing in the first episode of Class! The show announced the good news via its social media accounts.

We also know that the show’s first two episodes will premiere in the UK on October 22nd. The Twitter account also announced the titles of the first two episodes: “For Tonight We Might Die” and “The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo.” Whoa. That first one is dark and that second one really does sound like it could be a Buffy episode….

Sadly, we don’t yet have an official trailer for Class, though we do have an amazing fanmade one that is pretty brilliant in showing a potential tone of the show and put it into context within the larger Doctor Who universe. It gives a sense of just how ingrained the Coal Hill School has been in the Doctor Who world.

 

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Bartimaeus, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Rambo, A wee Green Man, and John King Tarpinian, for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor IanP.]

Pixel Scroll 7/18/16 Dead Sea Pixel Scrolls

(1) EYEING EARTHSEA. Ursula K. Le Guin talks about working with Charles Vess, illustrator of The Big Book of Earthsea, in a post for Book View Café.

…So, this is how it’s been going:

Charles begins the conversation, emailing me occasonally with questions, remarks, while reading the books. I answer as usefully as I can. Also, we chat. I find out that he has sailed all around Scotland. He tells me about Neil Gunn’s novel The Silver Darlings, which I read with vast pleasure. I don’t know what I tell him, but slowly and at easy intervals a friendship is being established.

Suddenly Charles sends me a sketch of a dragon.

It is an excellent dragon. But it isn’t an Earthsea dragon.

Why?

Well . . . an Earthsea dragon wouldn’t have this, see? but it would have that . . . And the tail isn’t exactly right, and about those bristly things —

So I send Charles an email full of whines and niggles and what-if-you-trieds-such-and-suches. I realize how inadequate are my attempts to describe in words the fierce and beautiful being I see so clearly.

Brief pause.

The dragon reappears. Now it looks more like an Earthsea dragon….

(2) QUINN KICKSTARTER REACHES TARGET. Jameson Quinn’s YouCaring appeal today passed the $1,300 goal. I, for one, am glad to see that news.

(3) YA HORROR. “And Now for Something Completely Different: Adding Humor to Your Horror”: Amanda Bressler tells YA writers how, at the Horror Writers Association blog.

With the popularity of dark comedies, it should be no surprise that horror and humor can be a compelling mix. However, when it comes to young adult books, few succeed at the balance that keeps a funny horror book from losing its edge or appearing to try too hard. Here are a few humorous elements used in YA horror to enhance the story, characters, or setting without sacrificing their horror-ness.

(4) EARLY HINT OF ELVEN. Soon to be available in print again: “70-year-old Tolkien poem reveals early ‘Lord of the Rings’ character”.

A poem by J.R.R. Tolkien that’s been out of print since the year World War II ended will be published this fall for the first time in 70 years, the Guardian reports.

And even if you were around in 1945, you likely didn’t see the poem unless you were a dedicated reader of literary journal The Welsh Review. That’s where “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” (Breton for “lord and lady”) was published, based on a work Tolkien had started around 1930.

Why should modern readers care? The poem suggests an early version of elf queen Galadriel from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion.” The poem tells of a couple that cannot have children until visiting a witch known as the Corrigan, who grants them twins, but later demands a price be paid for her assistance.

(5) GOBBLE GOBBLE. New Scientist calls it “Einstein’s clock: The doomed black hole to set your watch by”.

OJ 287’s situation is a window into what must have happened in galaxies all over the universe. Galaxies grow by eating their own kind, and almost all of them come with a supermassive black hole at the centre.

Once two galaxies merge, their black holes – now forced to live in one new mega-galaxy – will either banish their rival with a gravitational kick that flings their opponent out of the galaxy, or eventually merge into an even bigger black hole.

In OJ 287, the smaller black hole is en route to becoming a snack for the larger one. The larger one is also growing from a surrounding disc of gas and dust, the material from which slowly swirls down the drain. Each time the smaller black hole completes an orbit, it comes crashing through this disc at supersonic speeds.

That violent impact blows bubbles of hot gas that expand, thin out, and then unleash a flood of ultraviolet radiation – releasing as much energy as 20,000 supernova explosions in the same spot. You could stand 36 light years away and tan faster than you would from the sun on Earth.

Even with all this thrashing, the smaller black hole has no chance of escape.  Energy leaches away from the binary orbit, bringing the pair closer together and making each cycle around the behemoth a little shorter than the last.

Although the outbursts may be impressive, the black holes’ orbital dance emits tens of thousands of times more energy as undulations in space time called gravitational waves.

Last year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US offered a preview of the endgame of OJ 287 in miniature. Twice in 2015, LIGO heard gravitational waves from the final orbits of black-hole pairs in which each black hole was a few dozen times the size of the sun, and then the reverberations of the single one left behind.

(6) SFWA CHAT HOUR. In SFWA Chat Hour Episode 4: Special Pokémon Go Edition, SFWA board and staff members Kate Baker, Oz Drummond, M.C.A. Hogarth, Cat Rambo, and Bud Sparhawk as they discuss the latest doings and news of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as well as F&SF news, recent reads, Readercon, Westercon, and more.

(7) FLASH FICTION. Cat Rambo says her “Gods and Magicians” is a free read “brought to you by my awesome Patreon backers, who get bonuses like versions of new books, peeks at story drafts, and sundry other offerings. If backing me’s not in your budget, you can still sign up for my newsletter and get news of posts, classes, and publications as they appear.”

This is a piece of flash fiction written last year – I just got around to going through the notebook it was in lately and transcribing the fictional bits. This didn’t take too much cleaning up. For context, think of the hills of southern California, and a writing retreat with no other human beings around, and thinking a great deal about fantasy and epic fantasy at the time.

(8) LIVE CLASSES. Rambo also reminds writers that July is the last month in 2016 that she’ll be offering her live classes (aside from one special one that’s still in the works). Get full details at her site.

I’ll start doing the live ones again in 2017, but I’m taking the rest of the year to focus on the on demand school (http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/on-demand-classes/), which will adding classes by Juliette Wade and Rachel Swirsky in the next couple of months.

(9) FREE CHICON 7 PROGRAM BOOKS. Steven H Silver announced: “I’m about to recycle several boxes of Chicon 7 Program Books.  If anyone is interested in adding a copy of the book to their collection, I’d be happy to send them one (for the cost of postage). People should get in touch with me at shsilver@sfsite.com, but I need to hear from them before the end of the month.”

(10) DETAILS, DETAILS. In 1939, sneak preview of The Wizard of Oz, producers debated about removing one of the songs because it seemed to slow things down. The song: “Over the Rainbow.”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

However, according to writer/director James Cameron, most people at that time tried to convince him not to make the movie.

After all, they reasoned, any positive elements of the film would be attributed to “Alien” director Ridley Scott, and all the negative parts would be viewed as Cameron’s fault.

“I said, ‘Yeah, but I really want to do it. It’ll be cool,'” he said in an interview. “It was like this ridiculous, stupid thing. It wasn’t strategic at all, but I knew it would be cool.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 18, 1921 – John Glenn. Here’s a photo from 2012.

(13) GROUNDWORK FOR PREDICTION. Brandon Kempner is back on the job at Chaos Horizon, “Updating the 2016 Awards Meta List”.

A lot of other SFF nominations and awards have been handed out in the past few weeks. These are good indication of who will win the eventual Hugo—every award nomination raises visibility, and the awards that using votes are often good predictors of who will win the Hugo. Lastly, the full range of SFF awards gives us a better sense of what the “major” books of the year than the Hugo or Nebula alone. Since each award is idiosyncratic, a book that emerges across all 14 is doing something right.

Here’s the top of the list, and the full list is linked here. Total number of nominations is on the far left….

(14) VANCE FAN. Dave Freer tells what he admires about Jack Vance, and tries to emulate in his own writing, in “Out of Chocolate Error” for Mad Genius Club. Freer, while straightforward as ever about his worldview, makes an unexpected acknowledgement that another view could be embodied in a good story. Under these conditions —

There are at least four ‘meanings’ and stories that I’ve spotted in this particular book. I’m probably missing a few. Because I wanted to write like this myself, I’ve tried hard to pick up the techniques. I think the first key is that there must be a very strong and clear plot-line. You’re asking it to balance a lot of subtle and quite possibly overpowering elements. The second of course is that your characters cannot be mere PC-token stereotypes. Yes, of course you can have a black lesbian hero, or whatever (it actually doesn’t matter)– but if that stereotype is in the face of the reader rather than the character themselves, that becomes a compound, rather than the portmanteau. The third is that you cannot preach, or tell, your reader your ‘message’. Not ever. You can show it, you can let them derive it. If they fail to: well they still got a good story. And finally – if your audience leaves your book saying ‘that was about feminism… you, as a writer, are a failure, at least at writing entertainment or portmanteau books. There is a market for message, but like the market for sermons: it is small, and largely the converted. If they finish with a smile: you’ve done well. If they leave your book with a smile thinking: “yeah, true… I hadn’t thought of it like that. Look at (someone the reader knows). I could see them in that character (and the character happens to be a woman who is as capable as her male compatriots) then, my writer friend, you are a talent, and I wish I was more like you… Out of chocolate error…

(15) GOTCHA AGAIN. Chuck Tingle announces his retirement.

(16) HE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE. Rue Morgue reports Guillermo del Toro told Fantasia ’16 attendees that he’s retiring from producing and will stick to directing from now on.

(17) GRAPHIC STORY SLATE. Doris V. Sutherland discusses the impact of the slate on The Best Graphic Story Hugo nominees in “Comics and Controversy at the 2016 Hugo Awards” for Women Write About Comics.

After a reasonably strong set of graphic novels, the Best Graphic Story category starts to go downhill when we arrive at the webcomics. When Vox Day posted his provisional choices for the category, the list consisted entirely of online strips: Katie Tiedrich’s Awkward Zombie, Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrig Court, Kukuruyo’s Gamergate Life, Aaron Williams’ Full Frontal Nerdity, and Grey Carter and Cory Rydell’s Erin Dies Alone.

Comprising strip after strip of anti-SJW caricatures, Gamergate Life obviously fits Day’s ideology; I have also heard it suggested that he chose Erin Dies Alone as a dig at Alexandra Erin, who wrote a short e-book spoofing him. Beyond this, it is hard to discern the exact criteria behind his choices. One of the comics, Gunnerkrig Court, proved controversial within Day’s comments section: “Gunnerkrigg Court recently gave us not one, but two big, fat, awful, in-your-face gay/lesbian subplots (involving the main characters no less!) and so I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it anywhere these days,” wrote one poster.

The final Rabid Puppies slate—and, consequently, the final ballot—included only two of the above strips: Full Frontal Nerdity and Erin Dies Alone.

(18) DEEP SPACE PROBE. Will a “broken umbrella” speed space exploration?

…This sounds impressive until you remember that Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, is fitted with early ’70s scientific instruments, cameras and sensors and has been voyaging for almost 40 years.

Before mankind attempts to send another probe out towards interstellar space, engineers hope to figure out a way to get there a lot faster and, ideally, within their working lifetime.

There are several options on the table. Some favour solar sails – giant mirrored sheets pushed along by the force of photons from the Sun. Others – including Stephen Hawking – suggest flying these sails on tightly focused beams of photons generated by lasers fired from Earth or satellites in orbit.

Nasa engineer Bruce Wiegmann, however, is investigating the possibility of flying to the stars using a propulsion system that resembles a giant broken umbrella or wiry jellyfish. The concept is known as electric, or e-sail, propulsion and consists of a space probe positioned at the centre of a fan of metal wires….

(19) HORNBLOWERS. Did John Williams tell these kids to get off his lawn? Watch and find out.

This is what happened when 2 guys with horns made a spontaneous decision to set up and play the Star Wars theme in front of John Williams’ house on 7/11/2016!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, and Xtifr for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Record-Setting Number of Votes for 2016 Hugo Nominations

MidAmeriCon II reports over 4,000 nominating ballots were received for the 2016 Hugo Awards, nearly doubling the previous record of 2,122 ballots set last year by Sasquan, the 73rd Worldcon held in Spokane, WA.

This is the eighth consecutive year the record has been broken. Prior to Sasquan, Loncon 3 (2014) received 1,923 ballots; LoneStarCon 3 (2013) 1,343; Chicon 7 (2012) 1,101; Renovation (2011) 1,006; Aussiecon 4 (2010) 864; Anticipation (2009) 799 — each a new high-water mark at the time.

MidAmeriCon II reports there were 12,715 eligible nominators, also a record. These consisted of the members of Sasquan, and all the members of MidAmeriCon II and Worldcon 75 who had joined by January 31.

The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards will be announced on Tuesday, April 26 via MidAmeriCon II’s social media.

The finalists will be released category by category, beginning at Noon CDT (1 p.m. EDT, 10 a.m. PDT, 6 p.m. London, 7 p.m. Western Europe), through the convention’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MidAmeriCon2/) and Twitter feed @MidAmeriCon2

The announcement will begin with the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards then continue with the 2016 Hugo Awards and Campbell Award.

The full list of finalists will be made available on the MidAmeriCon II website directly after the completion of the live announcement, and will also be distributed as a press release to all MidAmeriCon II press contacts.

The full press release follows the jump.

Continue reading

Worldcon Chair’s NIU Endowment Speech

(L to R) Richard Chwedyk, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver, Lynne Thomas, Jack McDevitt, Sarah Monette (a.k.a. Katherine Addison), Eric Flint, (Helen Montgomery behind Eric), Sandy Levy, Jody Lynn Nye (I'm not sure who is behind Sandy Levy). Photo by Michael Lee.

(L to R) Richard Chwedyk, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver, Lynne Thomas, Jack McDevitt, Sarah Monette (a.k.a. Katherine Addison), Eric Flint, Sandy Levy, Jody Lynn Nye. Photo by Michael Lee.

Chicon 7 chair Dave McCarty has posted the talk he gave last night announcing the Peggy Rae Sapienza endowment. It says in part:

In the run-up to Chicon one of the projects we became aware of that was of special interest to us was the work being done by Lynne Thomas and Northern Illinois University to collect, preserve and make available to the public materials related to prior Chicons.  Preserving science fiction and fandom history and making it available to the world seemed a pretty valuable service to the community to us.  So, when it came time to decide how to close out our Chicon business, talking with NIU was a priority for us.

While those talks were going on, our community suffered a loss.  Peggy Rae Sapienza passed away this past March.  Peggy Rae was very nearly the embodiment of fandom for me.  It was my great honor to ask her to be Chicon’s fan guest of honor not once, but twice. [The first was for Chicago’s losing 2008 bid.]  She was deeply connected to all things Worldcon, and deeply connected to the Nebulas as well, helping to run many events for each.  She chaired the 1998 Worldcon in Baltimore and assisted greatly with the 2007 Worldcon in Japan.  She was co-chair of the Nebula weekend in 2010 and then chaired again in 2011 and 2012.  She was grounded and practical and simultaneously a wild eyed dreamer.  The combination was remarkable.

Chicon 7 Creates Peggy Rae Sapienza Endowment at NIU

Lynne Thomas of NIU, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver and Helen Montgomery of Chicon 7.

Lynne Thomas of NIU, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver and Helen Montgomery of Chicon 7. Photo by Elaine Silver.

Chicon 7 has created the Peggy Rae Sapienza Endowment at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb using surplus funds.

The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support to benefit the Northern Illinois University Library, Special Collections, enabling the procurement, preservation, and promotion of materials germane to the study of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror and their fandoms.

The initial endowment of $25,000 was made at a Reception during the Nebula Award Weekend in Chicago and represents the last of Chicon 7’s surplus. Steven H Silver, who was one of three Chicon 7 Vice Chairs, will serve as the fund’s trustee.

Chicon invites other individuals and organizations to donate to the endowment in Peggy Rae’s honor.

Peggy Rae Sapienza (1944-2015)

Peggy Rae Sapienza at Capclave in 2007. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

Peggy Rae Sapienza at the 2007 Capclave. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

Peggy Rae Sapienza, one of fandom’s most admired conrunners and fan guest of honor at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon, passed away March 22 from complications following heart valve replacement surgery. She was 70.

Her highest profile achievements were chairing the 1998 Worldcon, Bucconeer, and co-chairing the 2014 World Fantasy Con. She also served as Vice Chair and then Acting Chair of the 1993 Worldcon, ConFrancisco, helping stabilize the committee in the period after chair Terry Biffel died and before the appointment of Dave Clark as chair. In addition, she chaired two Smofcons (1992, 2004) and a Disclave (1991).

People liked to work for her — including some who thought they were done volunteering before she called. Peggy Rae’s unique leadership style combined playfulness, the appeal of being admitted to an inner circle, knowledgeability, and a frank demand for results.

She had an unlimited resume in many areas of convention organizing – press relations, program, registration, guest of honor book, and exhibits. She also felt it was her mission to pass on the skills and experiences she possessed. A number of the current generation of Worldcon organizers called her a mentor and today are mourning her loss in their own way. “I feel like a whole library just burnt down,” Glenn Glazer wrote on Facebook.

Peggy Rae was a second generation fan whose father, Jack McKnight, mother, Buddie McKnight Evans, and step-mother, Ann Newell McKnight, were involved in the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, while her step-father, Bill Evans, was active in the Washington Science Fiction Association. (Jack McKnight is specially remembered for making the first Hugo Awards in 1953.)

Growing up in Philadelphia fandom, in the late 1950s she served as Secretary and Vice President of PSFS and worked on and appeared in PSFS’ fan-made movie “Longer Than You Think.”

She began publishing Etwas in 1960. Ed Meskys recalls, “We traded fanzines at the time, her Etwas (German for something) for my Niekas (Lithuanian for nothing).”

Lou Tabakow, Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) and Bob Pavlat at NyCon III in 1967,

Lou Tabakow, Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) and Bob Pavlat at NyCon III in 1967,

Peggy Rae McKnight met Washington-area fanzine and convention fan Bob Pavlat at her first Worldcon, Pittcon, in 1960. They married in 1964 and had two children, Missy Koslosky and Eric Pavlat. In 1983, the couple received fandom’s Big Heart Award. That same year Bob passed away. In 1999, Peggy Rae married John T. Sapienza, Jr., a government attorney and longtime fan.

One of Peggy Rae’s enduring contributions to how Worldcons use facilties is the ConCourse, which she and Fred Isaacs invented for the 1989 Worldcon, Noreascon Three. The Sheraton had denied the use of its facilities to the con due to some problems, forcing the committee to create attractions in the Hynes Convention Center to compensate, or later, when they regained the Sheraton through litigation, to keep crowds in the Hynes for the sake of peace with the hotel. Their solution was the ConCourse which, with the Huckster Room and the convention program, gave members ample reason to hang out in the Hynes.

The ConCourse amalgamated fanhistory exhibits, convention information, the fanzine lounge, the daily newzine publishing area, convention bidding and Site Selection tables, and a Hynes-run snack bar in one place, and layed it out as an indoor park. Fans responded so positively the idea was used repeatedly by future Worldcons, and many of the exhibits Peggy Rae commissioned are still being presented.

This was also when the expression “I mowed Peggy Rae’s lawn” originated. Some of the planning for Noreascon 3 took place at her house, she explained during a 2012 interview. A friend arrived before a meeting while Peggy Rae was gardening and offered to help. In a kind of Tom Sawyeresque moment, others came by and joined in the gardening. Joe Mayhew was a witness, and years later warned people that if they voted for the Baltimore Worldcon bid they would end up having to mow Peggy Rae’s lawn….

The legend was celebrated by Chicon 7. Chris Garcia described how in a recent interview – and the way Peggy Rae used it to get some more work out of him…

At Chicon, there was a fake parcel of grass and a toy lawnmower with a sign marked ‘Mow Peggy Rae’s Lawn’ and the folks who pretended to mow got a Ribbon saying “I mowed Peggy Rae’s Lawn.” I did the mowing, but Peggy Rae refused me a ribbon until I did the [promised] Campbell [Award] exhibit…

For many years Peggy Rae was a key planner and motivator in the effort to preserve fanhistory. The Society for the Preservation of the History of Science Fiction Fandom, AKA the Timebinders, was formed at FanHistoriCon I in May 1994 in Hagerstown, Maryland, convened by Peggy Rae, Bruce Pelz, and Joe Siclari to gather fans of different fannish generations together to discuss the best ideas.

Bruce Pelz, Harry Warner, Jr. and Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) at FanHistoriCon in 1994. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Bruce Pelz, Harry Warner, Jr. and Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) at FanHistoriCon in 1994. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Peggy Rae worked 16 years as a contractor for the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. in UNIX systems support, retiring in 2000.

In her later years she was instrumental in supporting the 2007 Japanese Worldcon as their North American Agent. She chaired SFWA’s Nebula Awards Weekend in 2010, 2011 and 2012, earning a tribute from John Scalzi. She was part of the DC17 bid for the 2017 Worldcon.

Just this past fall, Peggy Rae helped me put together a couple of programs for Smofcon 32 and I find it especially hard to accept that someone so filled with ideas, imagination and energy can be taken away.

John Sapienza’s announcement said about her last day and burial arrangements: “[On Sunday] the hospital called us to come in, and Eric & Wendy Pavlat, Missy & Bryan Koslosky, and I were with her when she passed…. She will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her first husband, Bob Pavlat. (*)”

Peggy Rae is survived by John, her two children, and eight grandchildren.

Update 03/24/2015: (*) Eric Pavlat in a comment below says that Peggy Rae will not be interred at Arlington, but will be buried this Saturday at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Prince George’s County, MD. 

Waiting for Online Hugo Voting and the Voter Packet

The 2014 Hugo Award nominees were announced with a flourish 36 days ago. Although Loncon 3 published the voting form in Progress Report 3 on May 18, fans continue to wait for the committee to open online voting and release the Hugo Voter Packet.

How does Loncon 3’s performance compare with recent Worldcons?

Among the last four Worldcons, Renovation (2011) was quickest to open both paper and online voting, within 5 days after the nominee announcement.

LoneStarCon 3 (2013) needed a full 75 days to start online voting.

The average lapse time to open online voting over the past four years is 28 days.

That means Loncon 3 isn’t going to be the quickest, though we can hope it won’t take as long as last year.

What about delivery of the Hugo Voter Packet?

John Scalzi conceived the idea and put together the early packets. Beginning with 2010, each year’s Worldcon committee has been responsible.

The Renovation committee holds the record here, too — they made the Hugo Voter Packet available within 26 days. LoneStarCon took the longest time, 50 days. The average of the last four Worldcons is 36.75 days.

So – on average – tomorrow is the day the Hugo Voter Packet would be ready.

Worldcon

(Year)

Nominees

Announced

Voting

Available

 

Packet

Available

LonCon 3 (2014)

4/19/2014

(***)

???

LoneStarCon 3 (2013)

3/30/2013

6/19/2013 (**)

5/19/2013

Chicon 7 (2012)

4/7/2012

4/9/2012

5/18/2012

Renovation (2011)

4/24/2011

4/29/2011

5/20/2011

Aussiecon 4 (2010)

4/4/2010

5/4/2010?

5/4/2010

Anticipation (2009)

3/19/2009

5/19/2009

4/22/2009 (*)

Denvention 3 (2008)

3/21/2008

4/2008

4/10/2008 (*)

(*) In these years the packet was created by John Scalzi.

(**) Date online voting opened. Paper voting began being accepted sometime after 5/1/2013 without official announcement.

(***) Print ballot form available in PR #3, posted online 5/18/2014.

Two Worldcon Apps Released

LoneStarCon 3 now offers fans two mobile apps to track Worldcon program information. Both are available for iOS and Android devices and should work on all current and recent operating system versions.

The official in-house application developed by David Brummel has a user interface following the classic iOS app style appearance. In addition to program information, it will communicate real-time party information and a newsletter feed. Get it at www.LoneStarCon3.org/mobile/.

There also is an interactive program guide developed by Eemeli Aro designed to run on full size screens as well as handheld devices. The program guide is integrated into LSC3’s website for regular user browsing. Find it at www.LoneStarCon3.org/guide/.

Both applications allow marking of individual program items as favorites, so the user can create a personal convention schedule.

The first Worldcon app was produced by Renovation two years ago and Chicon 7 followed suit. Congratulations to LoneStarCon 3 for providing this convenience again.

Hugo Voting Still Not Open

LoneStarCon 3 announced this year’s Hugo Awards nominees on March 30 but has yet to open the voting. Is 30 days and counting a long delay or not? How does this performance compare with other recent Worldcons?

The answer: It does not compare very well.

Last year, Chicon 7 announced it was ready to take votes 2 days after the nominees came out – meaning paper ballots. Online voting opened 11 days after, according to publicity.

Renovation (2011) said paper and online voting was open in a press release issued 5 days after the nominee announcement.

Aussiecon 4 (2010) reported voting open 30 days after the nominee announcement.

Anticipation (2009) wasn’t taking votes until the 60th day after.

Denvention 3 (2008) is a little harder to pinpoint because the information came in a progress report the month after the nominees were announced. The interim could have been as short as 9 days and as long as 39, and the true figure presumably lies somewhere in between.

Conclusion: The past two Worldcons got voting opened pretty quickly, and at 30 days LoneStarCon 3 is falling behind the curve.

Worldcon

(Year)

Nominees

Announced

Voting

Available

 

Packet

Available

Chicon 7 (2012)

4/7/2012

4/9/2012

 

5/18/2012

Renovation (2011)

4/24/2011

4/29/2011

 

5/20/2011

Aussiecon 4 (2010)

4/4/2010

5/4/2010?

 

5/4/2010

Anticipation (2009)

3/19/2009

5/19/2009

 

4/22/2009*

Denvention 3 (2008)

3/21/2008

4/2008

 

4/10/2008*

(*) In these years the packet was created by John Scalzi.

Sources for the dates are listed after the jump.

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2013 Hugo Nominations Break Record

For the fifth consecutive year Worldcon members have cast a record-breaking number of Hugo nominating ballots. LoneStarCon 3 received 1,343 valid nominating ballots, exceeding the 1,101 received by Chicon 7 last year. Prior to that, Renovation received 1,006 in 2011, Aussiecon 4 received 864 in 2010 and Anticipation received 799 in 2009, each a record-setting figure at the time.

This record-setting trend likely gained momentum from a rules change effective in 2012 which broadened the voting base. Since last year, members in the forthcoming Worldcon have been allowed to nominate too, just as members of the current and previous Worldcon have long been able to do. LonCon 3 in 2014 is a European Worldcon, and I would guess has many members who don’t typically join when the con is in North America, making the universe of potential Hugo nomination voters that much larger than it was in 2012 when the pool consisted of members of three U.S. Worldcons (Renovation, Chicon 7, LoneStarCon 3).

The 2013 Hugo Award nominees will be announced on Saturday, March 30, starting at 3 p.m. CDT.

The nominations announcement will be made simultaneously at four conventions in the United States and United Kingdom, with the shortlists being published through the LoneStarCon 3 website immediately afterwards.

Conventions taking part in the announcement are:

  • Norwescon 36, in Seatac, WA (1 p.m. PDT)
  • Minicon 48, in Bloomington, MN (3 p.m. CDT)
  • Marcon 48, in Columbus, OH (4 p.m. EDT)
  • EightSquaredCon, the British National Science Fiction Convention (Eastercon), in Bradford, England (8 p.m. GMT).

Nominations will also be released category by category via the LoneStarCon 3 Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LoneStarCon3 and the LoneStarCon 3 Twitter feed at twitter.com/LoneStarCon.

The full press release follows the jump.

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