D. Douglas Fratz (1952-2016)

douglas-fratz

D. Douglas Fratz

Doug Fratz, a five-time Hugo nominee for Best Fanzine and a well-known sf/f book reviewer, died September 27. It turned out that by missing MidAmeriCon II (while in the hospital) I also missed my last chance to see him: he moderated the retrospective panel about the first MidAmeriCon (1976) that I was supposed to be on. He is survived by his wife and two adult children.

A prolific reviewer, Fratz was one of the pillars of sercon fanzine fandom in the 1970s, which was my own interest in those days. He founded Thrust in 1973, renaming it Quantum in 1990, and finally merging it with Science Fiction Eye.

thrust-13His signature column title was “The Alienated Critic” (a passing salute to Richard E. Geis and The Alien Critic, the dominant reviewzine of the Seventies.)

According to the SF Encyclopedia

Fratz also wrote numerous book reviews for other venues during that period and afterwards, including Washington Post Book World, Fantasy Review, and Science Fiction Eye, and entries for numerous academic reference books. In the 1990s he wrote book reviews for Science Fiction Age, and in the 2000s reviewed primarily for Science Fiction Weekly (on the then Sci-Fi Channel web site), continuing to write reviews and articles for the site when it was renamed Sci-Fi Wire and then Blastr. In the 2010s, his primary venues for book reviews and interviews have been SF Site and The New York Review of Science Fiction.

Doug Fratz’ first fannish contacts were in comics fandom in 1966. He published several well-known comics fanzines in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Comicology, Potpourri, CriFanAc, and Comicology Fan Review.

Professionally, Fratz was an internationally-respected environmental scientist serving as Vice President of Scientific and Technical Affairs for the Consumer Specialty Products Association  in Washington, DC, a trade association. He worked for CSPA for more than 35 years, and for the past 25 years much of his work focused on science policy and regulations related to air quality and atmospheric issues in California, nationally, and globally.

In fact, there has been an outpouring of tributes from his professional colleagues, indicating the depth of loss they feel at his passing, including this video posted by CSPA.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver and Moshe Feder for the story.]

Sweeny Terrier: The Demon Nominator of Slate Street 6/28

aka Dandelion Whine

In the roundup today: Vox Day, Gary Denton, Spacefaring Kitten, Alexander Case, Leonie Rogers, D. Douglas Fratz, S.C. Flynn, A.J. Blakemont, Kary English, Damnien G. Walter, Mark Ciocco and Declan Finn. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day ULTRAGOTHA and May Tree.)

Grimlock * The Vision

“Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, Irene Gallo and Jim Butcher…” – June 28

Jim Butcher takes a lot of offense at what Gallo said, and yet he stands up for her when people harass her: ….

Classy, Mr. Butcher.   Very, very classy.

I’ll be reading more of the books I have, even though I was like, ‘meh.’  I keep thinking I might because I heard they got better, and now I want to do it to support Butcher for standing up against harassment, even when he was offended by that person.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“I don’t care what you do” – June 28

Rabid Puppies is not, and has never been, a marketing campaign of any kind. We don’t need it. Rabid Puppies is about one thing and one thing only: to prevent the SJWs in science fiction from imposing their thought-police on the genre. I’m no more interested in marketing myself in this regard than Charles Martel was when he led the Franks against the Umayyads.
As several of the VFM have pointed out, the SJWs have it all backwards. They have to think that I am somehow duping thousands of idiots and fools into openly opposing them because the alternative is to accept how massively unpopular they are and how dismally their decades-long campaign to tell people what science fiction they may and may not read has failed.

 

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Kitten/Puppy Dialogues (on America)” – June 28

I have to say. In my opinion, Captain America is a boring, one-dimensional (well, I did claim he is zero-dimensional, but I’m not sure if that’s possible) character. Therefore, you seem to think, I also want all men put down. There’s a logical leap I don’t quite follow. I also don’t think you should do too hasty conclusions about what my gender is, because you know nothing about it.

But let’s dissect your statement a bit further.

What I’m actually disliking here is a Hugo finalist that was not on either of the two Puppy slates you’re probably promoting. In fact, I believe Captain America: The Winter Soldier was plugged by some actual, outspoken feminists, such as the smart and wonderful Book Smugglers Ana and Thea. For the record, I don’t think they are in league with the imperialist patriarchy there. Rather, they and I have a somewhat different taste as far as superhero movies are concerned.

I have every reason to believe that the Puppy-supported Hugo finalists Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy and Interstellar will all be better, even though I haven’t seen the first two of them yet. What I know of them so far seems promising. A Puppy supporter criticizing me for this seems odd.

 

Alexander Case on Breaking It All Down

“Small thing bugging me about the Hugo Awards” – June 28

All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, is published in English by Haikasoru in 2004. Gets an nomination for the Seiun Awards (Japanese version of the Hugos) in its home country, nothing at the Hugo awards.

Then, All You Need Is Kill gets a manga adaptation, with art by Takeshi Obata (of Death Note and Bakuman fame), which is published in the US by Viz in 2014 – both volumes and an all-in-one omnibus. Does not get a Hugo nomination for Best Graphic Novel.

The film version, on the other hand, with a white director, white stars, white screenwriter, and which generally is as white as hell, gets a Hugo Award nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

That doesn’t seem right to me.

To be clear, I’m glad the film was nominated. However, the lack of nominations for any versions of the story made by, you know, Japanese people, gives a vibe that the only way a work of Japanese speculative fiction can get for a Hugo Award.

 

 

Leonie Rogers

“Frustrated” – June 28

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working my way through the packet – which is what Hugo voters get in case they haven’t read the appropriate nominations. (I might add that I’m a prolific reader of Spec Fic, but there’s so much stuff to read, that I just don’t have enough time to read it all, so a lot of the stuff in the packet is quite new to me.)

The title of this post is ‘Frustrated.’ And I am. I’ve read quite a few Hugo nominees and winners over the many years I’ve been reading Spec Fic, and I’ve enjoyed pretty well all of it in all its varied forms. But this lot? I’m struggling through a lot of it. I’ve read all the short stories and novelettes and most of the novellas. Ho hum. Sigh. Honestly….sigh….

As an early career writer myself, I appreciate good writing. I also know that I don’t always get it right, but I really thought Hugo nominees would have it down pat. Nope. Or at least not this lot. Don’t get me wrong, there are some decent stories, and some of them are decently written, but so far, the vast majority are not exciting me at all. And as far as a couple of them go, they’re not well written at all.

I do have to thank the Hugo Packet for introducing me to Ms Marvel, though. I will actively go out and find more of her. (Apart from Phantom comics, I haven’t really read a lot of graphic novels.) In the meantime, I will continue to slog through the rest of the packet, hoping to find a gem here and there. Then I shall vote accordingly. On the upside, I’m feeling pretty happy about some of my own short stories right now….

 

D. Douglas Fratz on SF Site

“The Alienated Critic: Wherein the columnist endeavors to make restitution for his most recent profound death of productivity and steps into the fray on Puppygate”

As a result of all this, the Hugo Awards are now famous outside the field for all the wrong reasons. The New Republic even covered Puppygate, and sensible blogs were written by top authors — most notably serial blogs by George R. R. Martin — that made sure all of broader fandom knew what had happened. Connie Willis, Robert Silverberg, David Gerrold, and other deans of SF have all weighed in with level-headed views. The big losers here, of course, are the many fine authors who produced superior works in 2014 that should have been nominated, including many mentioned above, and we will know who they were when the full voting is announced.

But we all lost here. In the past, I would estimate that 90 percent of those nominated on the Hugo ballot are among the top 10 percent of candidates, making it a reliable index of quality. Everyone who relies on the Hugo Nominations and results to help choose future reading lost something this year. (Also everyone who wishes that those hours Martin, Willis, Silverberg, and others spent addressing the issue were used to write new fiction!) Thank goodness there are still other awards, including the Locus Awards and even the sometimes quirky Nebula awards, for this purpose. I hope that the Worldcon administrators will find a way to prevent future block voting, but there is some chance that (like our own government’s counter-terrorism policies) the solutions will simply make things slightly worse for all. Which is, in the end, just what terrorists seek to have happen.

 

S.C. Flynn on Scy-Fy

“Interview with A.J. Blakemont” – June 28

SCy-Fy: Thanks! What potential traps do you see in SFF blogging?

AJB: Let’s be respectful! It is always possible to express one’s opinion or disagreement without hurting other people’s feelings. SF fans tend to be passionate and opinionated, and, sometimes, they get carried away. The current debate about the Hugos is a good example. No one owns the truth: not me, not you, not this guy with hundreds of thousands of followers. No one….

SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?

AJB: My recent post on the Hugos: “Is the system broken?” caused controversy. Sad Puppies’ campaign manager wrote to me. Something tells me that my chances of being nominated for a Hugo are close to zero. Well, fortunately I care naught for awards! A writer should care only about readers, period. I wanted my readers to hear my opinion, and if it means being at variance with influential people in fandom, so be it.

 

Kary English

“An open letter to Puppies and everyone” – June 28

If you read Totaled and loved it enough to nominate it, thank you. That’s exactly how the Hugos are supposed to work, and it shouldn’t matter to me or anyone whether you identify as a Puppy or not. So if you’re one of those readers, then rock on. I am humbled and grateful for your support.

But as we know, Bob, there was a push this year to nominate things sometimes without having read them, and for reasons that had little to do with fannish enthusiasm. I never asked to be part of that, and had I been given the choice, I would not have wanted my work used that way.

I’m also not comfortable with the ballot sweep. My sense from the Sad Puppies is that locking up the ballot was never one of the goals of the movement, and that it was accidental, unintentional and unforeseen. If I’m wrong, and nominating five works in some of the categories was a deliberate attempt to sweep the ballot, then I wouldn’t have wanted to be part of that, either.

The Hugos should represent all voices, so if Sad Puppies is about drawing attention to works that might otherwise be overlooked, I can support that and I’m happy to stand for it. But if it’s about shutting out other voices and other work, if it’s about politics or pissing off certain segments of fandom, that’s not something I can get behind.

The whole point of fandom is that our love for the genre unites us. It’s about having a place where genre is paramount, where literature comes first. So if that’s who you are, and that’s what you want, then I’m with you. That’s why I invited everyone to talk about books here on my blog.

But if you’re in this with some other agenda, take it elsewhere. I don’t want to be part of it.

 

Kary English on Facebook – June 28

Here’s what I hope will be my final comment on the Hugos.

As a result of this statement, I have been delisted from Vox Day’s voting preferences, which is fine with me since I never agreed to be part of that in the first place…..

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Hugo Recommendations: Best Short Story” – June 28

This is how I am voting in the Best Short Story category. Of course, I offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 386 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

  1. “Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
  2. “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  3. “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
  4. “A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form” – June 28

…. This year, we have at least two nominees that were deserving (and that didn’t have Upstream‘s impenetrable style), including Coherence (to be fair, there are some eligibility concerns on that one), The One I Love, and maybe even Snowpiercer (a film I kinda hated, but it seems up the voters’ alley). Alas, they did not make it, and to be sure, Hollywood had a pretty good year, putting out plenty of genuinely good movies. Indeed, I even nominated 3 of these, so I guess I shouldn’t complain! My vote will go something like this (I’m going to be partially quoting myself on some of these, with some added comments more specific to the Hugos)….

[Comments on all five nominees.]

 

[Very brave, Declan, pretending what I said about you was addressed to Sad Puppies in general. Now go and change your armor…]