Pixel Scroll 7/2/17 Pixeldimethylaminotickaldescroll

(1) PREMIO MINOTAURO. Nieve en Marte (Snow on Mars), a science fiction novel written by Pablo Tébar, is the winner of the 2017 Minotauro Award, Spain’s literary award for the best unpublished SF, fantasy or horror novel. The prize is worth 6,000 Euros.

The novel earned the unanimous vote of the Minotauro Award Jury, this year composed of writers Javier Sierra and Manel Loureiro, the Director of the Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, Ángel Sala, movie producer Adrián Guerra and the editor in chief of Ediciones Minotauro publishing house, Marcela Serras.

This is the fourteenth year that the International Fantastic and Science Fiction Literature Award has been presented by Ediciones Minotauro. (Hat tip to Europa SF.)

(2) AT THE LANGUAGE FOUNDRY. Editor Joe Stech says from now on he’s calling what his magazine publishes “Plausible Science Fiction”.

I was at convention yesterday and heard a panel discussion about the old “hard vs. soft” science fiction debate. I realized while listening that there is a huge amount of baggage that people associate with the term “hard science fiction,” and that by using it when I describe the focus of Compelling Science Fiction I may be conveying something different than intended. Because of this, I’m going to start using a different term when talking about what sub-genre Compelling Science Fiction focuses on: “plausible science fiction.” The word “plausible” is still ambiguous, but I believe it doesn’t have all the semantic cruft that has built up over the decades around “hard.” We will no longer reference “hard science fiction” when describing our magazine, even though what we look for in stories is not changing.

“Plausible science fiction,” in this context, means “science fiction that tries not to disrupt suspension of disbelief for people that have knowledge of science and engineering.” This can mean not blatantly contradicting our current knowledge of the universe, and it can also mean not blatantly ignoring how humans generally behave. It also means internal self-consistency….

(3) STORY TIME. LeVar Burton reads to you — in the intro he says he’ll pick short stories from a lot of genres, including his favorite, science fiction — on the Levar Burton podcast.

LeVar Burton is an Actor, Director, Educator & Cofounder of the award-winning Skybrary App, host and Executive Producer of PBS’s Reading Rainbow and lifelong children’s literacy advocate.

(4) COMPLETELY MAD,  I TELL YOU. Dorothy Grant at Mad Genius Club lets a “friend” explain the best strategies for not selling books in  “How to Successfully not Market your Book: Or Doing it All Wrong (Almost) By Alma Boykin”

Alma Boykin here. I have been successfully getting in my own way and not marketing (fiction) books since December 2012. In the process, I’ve managed to make pretty much every mistake you can do as an indie author, bar one. Dorothy Grant, Cedar Sanderson, and others have written a lot about how to market your books and stories. So here’s a quick guide on how to successfully not market your book, thus ensuring that only the most selective, discriminating, or lucky readers will ever find it. …

  1. No social media presence ever. I did give in and start a blog, Cat Rotator’s Quarterly,(Alma! I added the blog name and link! You should promote it! -Ed.) in February 2014, but I have no Twitter, Facebook, G+, LiveJournal, Snapchat, Pinterest, or whatever other social media platforms are out there. This is another great way not to tell people about your books. What they don’t know about, then can’t find. HOWEVER! If used properly, social media can help not-sell your work. Some of the best ways are to overload anyone who follows you with near-daily announcements about “Only three years, two months, and a day and a half until the release of [book]!” or “Hey, boy my book! Buy my book!” The more often you remind people to buy your work, the more they will drop your feed and flee the company of your works. Think of it as the electronic version of the whiney 5-year-old in the back seat asking “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? I gotta go. Are we there yet?”

(5) SUMMER READING. The Verge says “Here are 16 books coming out this month that you should also check out”, beginning with —

Dichronauts by Greg Egan

Greg Egan is known for some spectacular science fiction novels in recent years, and his latest looks pretty out there. It’s set in a strange universe where light can’t travel in every direction. Its inhabitants can only face and travel in one direction: east. Otherwise, they’ll get distorted across the landscape. A surveyor named Seth joins an expedition to the edge of inhabitable space, where they discover an unimaginable fissure in the world — one that will stop the ongoing migration of its inhabitants. The only way forward is down, to try and find a way to save everyone.

(6) THE WORST FORM OF GOVERNMENT, AFTER ALL THE REST. David Langford has made a belated addition to the July Ansible – a copy of “the tasty General Election campaign flyer from a candidate in our area.” Well worth a look.

(7) COME TO THE FAIR. Also thieved from Ansible, this item about Ken McLeod’s slate of events at the Edinburgh International Book Fair.

  • On Tuesday 15 August at 6:30 I’ll be talking with Stephen Baxter about his new novel The Massacre of Mankind,
  • On Wednesday 16 August 2017 at 7.15pm I’ll be chairing a discussion with Charles Stross and Jo Walton on ‘End Times, Crazy Years’, to ask: what happens when reality outdoes dystopia, let alone satire?
  • My own work comes up for discussion on Thursday 17 August at 2.30 pm, when I’m on with Charlie Fletcher, who, like me, has just completed a trilogy.
  • I’ve long been a proponent of the argument, which I first encountered in the work of Gary Westfahl, that informed and engaged criticism by active readers has shaped the SF genre perhaps more than any other, from the letter columns of Amazing Stories onward. Who better to test this contention with than two outstanding critics who are also outstanding writers? That’s what’s on offer on Thursday 17 August at 5.30 pm, when I chair a discussion between Adam Roberts and Jo Walton.
  • For this final event in the strand, Rockets to Utopia? on Friday 18 August at 6.30 pm, we have two truly exceptional writers. Nalo Hopkinson is a Guest of Honour at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki, …Ada Palmer is a historian, who burst on the SF scene only last year with her acclaimed, complex novel Too Like the Lighting …Nalo and Ada are joined by me and Charlie, and we’re chaired by Pippa Goldschmidt. Pippa writes close to the edge of SF, has previously featured at the Book Festival, and in an earlier life held the Civil Service title ‘Chair of Outer Space’, so should have no difficulty chairing a panel.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

  • History of World UFO Day

World UFO Day was organized by WorldUFODay.com in 2001, and was put together to bring together enthusiasts of UFO’s and the evidence they’ve all gathered to support their existence. …Many of them believe they already have arrived, and anyone who knows anything about UFO’s is aware of the stories of abductions and what is seen as the seminal event in UFO history, the crash at Roswell. While they believe that the governments of the world are presently hiding this information from the populace, this in no way discourages believers from continuing to search for the truth they’re certain is out there.

(9) TALKING FOR DOLLARS. The truth may be out there, but the number of people looking for it seems to be declining. Consider this report from The Register, cleaning up after the latest mess: “Shock: NASA denies secret child sex slave cannibal colony on Mars”.

NASA has not enslaved a colony of children on Mars nor is it using them for vile orgies on the Red Planet nor feasting on them to harvest their precious bone marrow, officials have told The Register….

On Thursday, one of President Trump’s favorite talking heads, Alex Jones, interviewed ex-CIA officer Robert David Steele during his radio show. Steele made some astonishing – think nuttier than squirrel crap – allegations of NASA covering up that humankind already has an outpost on the Mars. And that the alien world was red not just with oxidized iron dust but with the spilled blood of innocent youngsters snatched off the street and shipped into outer space.

“We actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20-year ride. So that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony,” Steele claimed. How exactly they are still children after 20 years of space travel wasn’t, funnily enough, explained.

…”There are no humans on Mars yet,” NASA spokesman Guy Webster told El Reg last night, presumably restraining himself from adding” “I can’t believe I have to answer this kind of stuff.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 2, 1959 – Premiered on this date, Plan 9 From Outer Space.
  • July 2, 1992 — Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking breaks British publishing records on this day. His book A Brief History of Time has been on the nonfiction bestseller list for three and a half years, selling more than 3 million copies in 22 languages.

(11) SAVE THE BOOKS. History will be rewritten – if it’s not destroyed first. See The Guardian’s book review, “The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu by Charlie English review – how precious manuscripts were saved”.

For African historians, the realisation during the late 1990s of the full scale of Timbuktu’s intellectual heritage was the equivalent of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls for scholars of Judaism in the 1950s. When the African American academic Henry Louis Gates Jr visited Timbuktu in 1997 he actually burst into tears at the discovery of the extraordinary literary riches. He had always taught his Harvard students that “there was no written history in Africa, that it was all oral. Now that he had seen these manuscripts, everything had changed.”

Yet with the coming of al-Qaida, there was now a widespread fear that this huge treasure trove, the study of which had only just begun, could go the way of the Baghdad, Kabul or Palmyra museums, or the Bamiyan Buddhas. Before long, efforts began to smuggle the most important of the manuscripts out of Timbuktu and to somehow get them to safety in Bamako, the capital of Mali. The story of how this was done forms the narrative backbone of The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu, which consequently reads like a sort of Schindler’s list for medieval African manuscripts, “a modern day folk tale that proved irresistible, with such resonant, universal themes of good versus evil, books versus guns, fanatics versus moderates”.

(12) JUST THE FACTS. How well will you do on the Guardian’s twentieth anniversary “Harry Potter quiz: 20 years, 20 questions”?

It’s exactly two decades since the first of JK Rowling’s books was published. Try our Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test to see how much you have learned since then.

I got 8/20, which is better than I usually do on internet quizzes.

(13) NO JUSTICE. There’s a reason CBS never greenlighted its Justice League series, even if it did include the Green Lantern. ScreenRant says, actually, there are fifteen reaons why…. “15 Things The Unseen Justice League TV Pilot Got Wrong”.

You’d be hard pressed to find a comics or cinema fan not aware of the highly anticipated Justice League film due this November. What many of these fans might not know is that this is actually the second attempt at adapting DC Comics premiere super team – with the feature-length pilot for a CBS Justice League of America TV series pre-dating it by a whole decade!

The reason why most people are oblivious when it comes to the Justice League pilot is simple: it never aired in the United States (although it did see the light of day on some international networks). The rationale behind the CBS executives’ decision to bury the pilot is even simpler: it’s… uh, not very good (like, at all).

The worst of all was its –

  1. Mockumentary-style Interviews

Another “surprisingly ahead of its time” aspect of the Justice League pilot gone horribly wrong is its inclusion of mockumentary-style, to-camera interviews intercut through the episode.

Ever since The Office popularized the mockumentary format in TV comedy, there have been plenty of imitators with little interest in accurately simulating its “real-world” mechanics (looking at you, Modern Family). But way before any of these – heck, before The Office itself! – the Justice League pilot was completely throwing any sense of verisimilitude out the window entirely!

Think about it: who is filming these interviews? How come they know our heroes secret identities? Why isn’t the rest of the show shot like a documentary? These questions and more immediately come to mind as soon as the first interview cut-away rolls around, but those looking for answers shouldn’t get their hopes up.

(14) EVERY VOTE A SURPRISE. Tpi’s Reading Diary shares “My Hugo award votes 2017 part 1: novellas” and says Seanan McGuire’s story is in first place on his ballot.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire Young teenagers, mostly girls, have gone to alternative worlds where they felt at home. The alternative worlds are mostly different, some are fantasy lands, others are based on logic, some are based on some kind of horror motive, and so on. In the most cases, the youths felt at home on those worlds. For some reason, some of them have been cast out. Time has moved at a different rate for them in many cases. It might have been years in our world and their parents assumed that their children had been abducted/run out and are most likely dead. The relationships between the children and their parents are usually very strained – and usually they were strained even before the youths went away. The victims are gathered to a special school, which is run by an old woman who herself had the same fate as a teenager. She looks middle-aged but is possibly much older. A young girl goes to the school. Soon other pupils start to die – gruesomely. The other pupils naturally first have some suspicion toward the new pupil, especially as she comes from a world where death himself is an important figure. A pretty good story with a new look at what Alice in Wonderland and Narnia (according to the novella, Lewis didn’t really know anything, he just used stories he had heard – badly) might actually mean. A nice and interesting story, with unusual characters and excellent writing.

(15) WHATEVER. Two tweets make a post – is that a metric thing? John Scalzi and Dan Wells make merry on the last day of a con — “In Which I Trespass Against Dan Wells at Denver Comic Con, and He Exacts His Fitting Revenge, a Tale Told in Two Tweets”.

(16) BAD TO THE BONE. BBC Trending gleefully explains “Why coders are battling to be the… worst”

Why have computer programmers on Reddit been battling it out to make volume control as bad as possible?

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Cheryl S., John King Tarpinian, Joe Stech, and David Langford for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 1/1/17 The Early Scroll Catches The Pixel

(1) CELEBRATING IN ORBIT. Happy New Year from the International Space Station.

(2) MAKING IT COUNT. Camestros Felapton celebrates a milestone on his blog – “A Thousand Posts of Pedantic Nonsense”.

WordPress tells me I’ve written a thousand posts here. Gosh. [OK, technically some of those are by Timothy but they still have my name on them]

I assume this means I level up and get extra blogging powers.

(3) PERMANENT PARTY STARTS TODAY. Cancer survivor Pat Cadigan has an even better reason to be giddy — “Hi, I’m Not Dead Yet—Hahahahaha, Suck It, Mortality!”

I’m glad to be alive but I can’t help being a little nervous. I have now exceeded the original estimate of the time I had left. I’m not in any way surprised as it’s been obvious for a year that I would. And I still can’t help being a little nervous because, as the kids say, sh!t just got real. I knew I was going to do this. I never believed I was going to do anything else. But it’s no longer something in the future; now it’s put up or shut up: You’re on, kid––careful you don’t trip on your super-hero cape as you make your entrance.

Every day is still going to be a party. Every day is Anything-Can-Happen Day until further notice. Of course, every day is Anything-Can-Happen Day for everyone, not just me. Indeterminacy Are Us. But certain probabilities are a little higher for me and it’s the sort of thing that I can’t help being aware of, sometimes more so than other times.

(4) LIFE CHANGING. Jason Ahlquist “Complexity Makes Suffering Invisible”

In 2016, I saw a child die in the street. That’s not a metaphor. It was a violent crime that actually happened. I haven’t talked about it publicly for two reasons. The first reason was that it didn’t feel right to do so while his family and friends mourned. The second reason was that the event entered into a complex stream of events in my life that have been dramatically changing me. It wasn’t so much that I watched a death; it was that the death was framed by other experiences reacting together on my insides. And all those things took a while to fully catalyze.

(5) YOU’RE FIRED SOME MORE. A dealer and former PCC director who offended management tells Bleeding Cool “What It Looks Like To Get Excommunicated From Phoenix Comicon”

Anabel Martinez used to be a director at Phoenix Comicon and she, as well as other folk, has been critical of Phoenix Comicon’s move to restricting volunteers to those who pay to be member of the Blue Ribbon Army fan society, of which Phoenix Comicon’s Matt Solberg is also a board member.

Martinez says –

Matt will always spin it when people voice concerns. My big critique that got me banned from a convention I love and adore? Being upset that volunteers have to pay for the privilege to volunteer now. He says I stepped down as a marketing director – that was a volunteer gig.

Solberg’s side of things is —

Since her dismissal in 2010 Ms. Martinez has pursued a vendetta against Phoenix Comicon, our staff, and myself. She has increasingly grown vindictive and bullying in her comments and actions. We made a business decision as a privately held company that we no longer need to tolerate her behavior by allowing her to participate within our event. I stand by the letter I sent her which she has posted to social media.

(6) MORE ON ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS. Blogcritics Celina Summers, in “Publisher All Romance Ebooks: Closing Hits New Low In Stealing From Authors”, wants to know where the money is.

The ebook industry has undergone several transitions in the past few years, where authors have become increasingly victimized by e-pirates, vanity presses, and scams designed to keep writers from making money on their intellectual property. Earlier today, December 28, 2016, the industry hit a new low when longtime e-tailer All Romance E-Books (Are), LLC (with its non-romance genre partner Omni Lit) released a surprise notice to its authors and publishers. ARe’s CEO and owner, Lori James, announced that the retailer was closing its doors in three days’ time…

Because let’s be for real here. It’s not like ARe’s owners aren’t paying authors because they don’t have the money for the sales. They do have it. They banked all that cash and are now trying to keep it. And by hanging the threat of filing for bankruptcy out there, the company is attempting to threaten authors into agreeing legally to let them retain that money without future legal responsibility.

While that might be true, it’s probably not true – when businesses go under, the liquid assets generally have already gone into salaries and wages and any operating expenses needed to make the business appear viable up til the bitter end.

(7) SFWA CANDIDATE. Mary Robinette Kowal is running for President of SFWA in 2017.

I’m running for the position of President. For four years, I was privileged to work with an extremely active and committed board, first as Secretary of SFWA and then as Vice President. I stepped down because I believe that new voices are vital to a service organization such as SFWA. But there are still things that I want to see accomplished, particularly trying to find affordable health care for our members.  I feel that after five years off the board, the time is right to run again.

(8) ANCHORS AWEIGH. The 2017 Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat will depart aboard a passenger ship from Kiel, Germany on July 28.

The base price of $1700 covers the full week of intensive seminars, writing exercises, and free writing time, plus meals, double-occupancy lodging on the ship, and a cruise to four different European destinations. (We have arranged for a hotel, breakfast, and transfer to the ship for $150, but staying there is optional.) Attendees will also be invited to attend live recordings of episodes of Hugo award-winning podcast Writing Excuses, hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells.

At sea. Seriously.

Desiree Burch, John Berlyne, Wesley Chu, Aliette de Bodard, Jasper Fforde, Ken Liu, Thomas Olde Heuvelt and Carsten Polzin will also participate.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 1, 1929 — Suit actor Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla) is born in Japan.
  • Born January 1, 1938 – Frank Langella.

(10) THAT LOVELY OLD PARTY IN 221B. Sherlock is changing — Variety got it from the horse’s mouth, “Benedict Cumberbatch on How Sherlock Holmes Is Softening”

Is Sherlock Holmes going soft? Benedict Cumberbatch explained to an audience of British grandees in London that his character has been on a journey of enlightenment over the past three seasons of “Sherlock,” and in season four, which premieres on New Year’s Day, audiences will see him humanized further, or as one journalist crudely put it: “He’s slightly less of a d**k.”

“He is becoming slightly more… well, in a very clear way… responsible for his actions,” Cumberbatch explained during an onstage discussion that followed a screening of “The Six Thatchers,” the opening episode of season four.

“But I think he understands that it’s a slow, slow process that began in the very first instance when he met John [Doctor Watson], who supplies the missing piece of that jigsaw that is him. That friendship, that partnership in crime, has been the humanizing element all the way through [the three seasons], and I think he is now becoming more of a human-being.”

(11) CLARKE CENTER. “The Hard Problem: An Audio Voyage”, Episode 3 of Into the Impossible, the podcast of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination, features Kim Stanley Robinson, Adam Tinkle, and Marina Abramovic.

In winter of 2015, the Clarke Center produced a collaborative project with the performance artist Marina Abramovic and the science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson.

The multi-day workshop cultivated a series of interactions between a story that Stan was writing about a multi-generational spaceship heading to another star, and the performance art gestures of Marina’s that are a journey into our inner self. We improvised readings and performance actions to find the ways in which these seemingly diametric experiences touched on the common idea of how we extend our sense of time and space from the moment to the eternal.

Out of this, we created an installation with multiple audio tracks, which was then further developed for the Venice Biennale. We also made a short film, which you can find below, and the audio tracks were mixed and choreographed by Adam Tinkle into the podcast.

 

(12) FISHER BID FAREWELL NEW ORLEANS STYLE. New Orleans’ Leijorettes and Chewbacchus krewes held a parade to honor Carrie Fisher.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, JJ, David K.M.Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark-kitteh.]

Pixel Scroll 9/28/16 I Can Tick, I Can Tick ‘Cause I’m Better Than You

(1) BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU. In Victoria, Texas, a “Facebook post costs Comic Con thousands in funds”.

A Facebook comment from one of the founders of Victoria Comic Con cost the group $2,770 in city support.

After Megan Booth blasted the city of Victoria’s criteria for doling out Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to local groups and questioning the value of the city’s annual Bootfest, council members voted 5-2 at Tuesday’s meeting to reduce the group’s funding from $12,770 to $10,000 and award Children’s Discovery Museum the difference: $2,770.

Booth said she was furious after she learned the city had given Comic Con less than the $20,000 the group had requested in HOT funds for fiscal 2016-2017.

Her Facebook comment called out Bootfest for being unprofitable for the city and ridiculed the city’s $36,000 festival beer tab, said Booth.

“The city has never allocated HOT funds correctly,” said Booth. “After I learned the committee allocated funds according to actual heads in beds this year, the way it’s supposed to, I took my Facebook post down.”

But it was too late. Booth’s Facebook post had reached City Council members.

(2) UNCONVINCING EXCUSE. Following SFWA’s update on the Galaktika Magazine situation, Ann Leckie added a few choice words of her own.

Their really inadequate excuses for these thefts. Editor in chief István Burger is quoted in the SFWA statement as saying:

When I decided to revive Galaktika more than 10 years ago, I went to the leader of one of the most respected literary agencies, to ask for his advice how to get permissions for the stories we plan to publish in the magazine in the future. I had no experience at all in this respect.

Our conversation had a very friendly atmosphere, the leader of the agency was happy that such an aknowledged magazine was revived. Finally we had a verbal agreement, that – as we plan to have a serious book publishing activity as well – we can consider short stories in Galaktika sort of an advertisement in which authors are introduced to Hungarian readers, so that we could publish their novels afterwards. The money we would pay for the rights for the novels contains the price of short stories. So agencies don’t have to deal with rights of short stories for $10 which is as much work as to get the rights of a $1000 novel. During this conversation it became obvious that agencies don’t want to deal with $10-20 so I didn’t want to bother the others with similar requests. Of course in case of longer stories and novels we made contracts. I hope that it is obvious now that there were no intentional stealing at all, as we made an agreement in time for the use of stories. Now I regret that it was only a verbal agreement, but at that time we both acknowledged it.

Yeah, the fact that the verbal “agreement” wasn’t on paper means nothing. There can have been no agreement that mattered if the rights-holders of the stories concerned weren’t involved. Having a tape-recording of the conversation notarized by God Herself would change nothing. (I’m willing to believe the conversation actually happened, by the way, and that if so Mr Burger’s description of it is spun hard enough that the anonymous literary agent might only barely recognize it.)

Let me be absolutely clear about this: this excuse is utter bullshit. If Mr Burger actually believes this, he has no business trying to run a magazine.

Look, the thing about Galaktika publishing books too is completely irrelevant. My books are published in Hungary, translated into Hungarian–by Gabo, not the publisher that owns Galaktika. No story of mine in Galaktika was ever going to be an advertisement for a translation of my books. If I’d wanted an advertisement I would have bought an ad.

And I’ve been asked several times–sometimes personally, sometimes through my agent–for permission to translate short stories. Sometimes specifically in order to promote the translated editions of my novels! My agent is not too busy to deal with such things, and neither am I. And besides, let’s say I and/or my agent didn’t want to deal with such a small transaction? Well, tough cookies. That doesn’t mean you just get to take what you want anyway.

(3) SFWA IN TIMES TO COME. Cat Rambo, after giving credit to SFWA’s Griefcom for its work on the Galaktika issue, told some of the ideas that are part of her international vision for the organization.

Will Galaktika shape up? It remains to be seen. I hope so, and SFWA will revisit the matter in three months to follow-up and let folks know what Galaktika has done in the interim.

Is this actually a matter that SFWA should concern itself with? Absolutely. Recently it’s been underscored for me that people perceive SFWA as an American entity, but the truth is that we have a substantial international contingent. Worldcon in Finland poses a chance to spread that message, and so here’s a few things that I’m doing.

  • SFWA members scanning the most recent copy of the Singularity, SFWA’s bi-monthly e-newsletter for members, to find volunteer opportunities, will have noticed that I have a call out for translators. My plan is to get the SFWA membership requirements and questionnaire translated into as many languages as possible; I have commitments for Chinese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Klingon, Russian, and Spanish versions and am pursuing others. If you’re interested in helping with that effort, please let me know.
  • At the suggestion of Crystal Huff, I’m thinking about programming that might spread the message, such as a panel on the internationalization of SFWA. Such a panel would work for many conventions, I would think, but debuting it in Finland seems like a great idea (although we might sneak peek it at the Nebulas next May in Pittsburgh.)
  • I’m mulling over what form something connecting translators and F&SF writers might look like. Translating fiction requires not just ability with the language, but a writerly sensibility, an understanding of how to make the sentences fluid and compelling and three dimensional. So maybe something where potential translators could submit a listing of translation credits along with sample of their own work, translated into the languages they’re adept in, backed up with the ability for SFWA members to post testimonials. This seems like something the field needs; if anyone’s aware of existing efforts along these lines, please let me know?
  • Maybe it’s time for a new version of The SFWA European Hall of Fame, this time The SFWA International Hall of Fame. That seems like something for me to discuss with our Kickstarter contact. She and I have been discussing a 2018 project, reviving the Architects of Wonders anthology, but this might make a good interim effort. (Speaking of Kickstarter, SFWA partners with over three dozen institutions and companies, including Amazon, Kickstarter, and Kobo to make sure member concerns and suggestions are passed along as well as new opportunities created. If you’d like to be on the Partnership committee handling these monthly check-ins, drop our volunteer wrangler Derek a line at volunteer@sfwa.org.)

(4) THE VALUE OF SILVER. Dan Wells is ecstatic that a film based on his work won a medal at a European film festival — I Am Not A Serial Killer” Won A Really Big Award”

So over the weekend I announced that I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER had one the Silver Melies award at the Strasbourg film festival, which I and many of you thought was awesome, but it turns out that I was grossly underestimating it’s actual awesomeness. The Olympics have trained me to think of Silver as second place, but looking into the award I have learned the truth: the Silver Melies is Strasbourg’s top prize for international films. The top prize. First place. That’s a big honkin’ deal.

(5) THE PROOF. Jim C. Hines is “Searching For Revisionary Goofs”. I was thinking this was going to be a political analysis, but what it really means he’s proofing another edition of his novel Revisionary.

The mass market paperback edition of Revisionary comes out in February. This means I have a whole new set of page proofs to review.

If you’ve read the hardcover (thank you!) and noticed any typos or other problems, now would be the perfect time to let me know so we can get those fixed for the paperback release. You can comment here or shoot me an email at jchines -at- sff.net.

(6) WEINBERG SERVICES SET. Thanks to Steven H Silver for the information:

The memorial service for Bob Weinberg will be held on October 15 from noon to 5:00 at:

Orland Park Civic Center
14750 S. Ravinia Avenue
Orland Park, IL. 60462
708 403 6200

(7) STERN OBIT. Lucy Stern, a LASFS member since 1988, passed away September 28, of cancer. Her husband, Mike Stern, announced on Facebook:

Lucy has died. She stopped breathing sometime around 2am. I am devastated. I loved her for forty-nine years, and I will never be able to see fifty, although I will still be loving her then.

The Stern family, including daughters Alison and Heather, has been one of the most important parts of LASFS for decades. I’m very saddened by the news.

(8) BOOK REVIEW BLOGS. Netgalley’s “Blogger Spotlight” today visits with Anya of On Starships and Dragonwings.

Let’s start with your origin story – how long have you been blogging about Sci-Fi & Fantasy books, and why did you start?

I started the blog in 2010, so six years, time flies! It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I started blogging about sci-fi and fantasy books because I wanted to try out blogging in general and realized that books were the thing that I would never get tired of! It’s worked so far I guess :).

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

I try to switch between subgenres every book so that I don’t get bored with any one. I’ve found that my preferences don’t align with elements special to any particular subgenre, but more what makes books excellent no matter their subject: strong voice, unique world, beautiful writing, etc. In all subgenres though I’m seeing a trend of authors working hard to bring in mythology from places other than Western Europe and I love that. Since I tend to be more interested in new-to-me magic and monsters and worlds, stories that pull in myths I’m not familiar with are exactly what I’m looking for.

(9) JEMISIN INTERVIEW. Fans of The Fifth Season should enjoy Chris Urie’s interview with N. K. Jemisin in Clarkesworld.

A few of your short stories have featured New York City. What is it about the city that keeps you curious and writing about it?

I love New York! New York for me was the place where I came to be an artist. I grew up in a lot of different places but mostly between Mobile, Alabama and Brooklyn.

I remember being told that I should go outside and play. I remember the passive-aggressive things that people who don’t get artists tend to say to them because they don’t understand that sitting in one place and just writing or reading a book is a good thing. When I came here, I was free to write as much as I wanted, free to talk with other people about my plots and the ideas that were driving me nuts at night. During the school year, I had to lie awake and sort of chew on them and try to sleep. I was sort of a childhood insomniac. Here, I could talk it out and I slept like a baby.

New York was also where I could be a nerd. My father is a nerd too and we would watch Star Trek and the Twilight Zone ‘till the wee hours of the morning and talk about them and post-process every episode. That was the thing that made me love New York.

New York is the place where souls can be free. So, naturally, when I’ve come back here as an adult I want to understand what it is about this city that makes it so unique. What it is that brings that feeling out. It was a kind of magic and I want to try and capture that magic.

(10) A NEW STANDARD. Aaron argues that “Stopping Harassment After the Fact Just Isn’t Good Enough” at Dreaming of Other Worlds.

Right now, there is no real way to document patterns of bad behavior on the part of convention attendees. Conventions simply must get better at documenting and sharing information about instances of harassment. There needs to be some way to keep track of who has been ejected from a convention, and for what reason. Other conventions have to be able to look at these records and decide whether to issue a badge to individuals with a propensity to cause trouble. Conventions must be willing to preemptively ban serial harassers and bad actors. Had ConCarolinas documented the harassment that took place at their event and made it available to other conventions, and WisCon documented the harassment that took place at their event and made that available to other conventions, then this pair would not have been able to fly under the radar the way they did and turn up at MidAmeriCon II without anyone there being aware of their history. Had such a system already been in place, the people who harassed Alyssa Wong at MidAmeriCon II might not have even been there to harass her in the first place.

(11) QUESTION TIME. Author Confidential, an upcoming fundraiser for the Bacon Free Library, lets people bid on the opportunity to ask an author questions.

Bid to ask any of these award winning, best-selling, beloved, classic authors three (3) questions! If you win, the author will send you a letter with the responses! Yes, an honest to goodness letter which you can cherish forever

Only a few genre writers are on the list, like Diana Gabaldon, Gail Carriger, and Piers Anthony, but a large number of best-selling authors are participating, including Lee Child and Alexander McCall Smith.

When: Sunday, October 23, 2016 8pm – Sunday, October 30, 2016 8pm Where: Ebay links and feed will be open on Sunday, Oct. 23rd at 8pm

(12) WELL, THEY HAVE SAND IN COMMON. On A. V. Club, Ignatiy Vishmevetsky’s “The Eraserhead baby from space” analyzes David Lynch’s Dune, and explains what a strange and wonderful film it is.  The big news was that Lynch was offered Return of the Jedi but turned it down.

There’s a good reason to bring up Star Wars here, as Lynch had passed on the chance to direct Return Of The Jedi before accepting an offer from Italian super-producer Dino De Laurentiis to write and direct Dune. (Several attempts had been made before, including one by Alejandro Jodorowsky that’s been much mythologized, despite sounding unfilmable.) By his own admission, Lynch had no interest in sci-fi, and neither, in a sense, does Dune. It has a lot more in common with its writer-director’s most admired work than it’s generally given credit for, from the ominous, rumbling soundscapes to the first appearances of future Lynch favorites MacLachlan and Everett McGill (as a Fremen leader), as well as Blue Velvet’s Dean Stockwell (as the Atreides’ court physician, forced to betray them under tragic circumstances). There are echoes: the mutated space-farer who travels in a train-car-sized tank of melange gas resembles the baby from Eraserhead grown to gigantic size; a tray of flowers brings to mind the opening of Blue Velvet; and so on and so forth. Dune, in other words, is not so much Lynch’s big-budget dead end as a transitional artwork that eludes most of the expectations that come with being a big-budget sci-fi movie.

(13) IF PATRICK MCGOOHAN BLOGGED. Soon Lee invites you to sing along to this excellent filk left in a comment.

SECRET FILER FAN

(Dedicated to OGH, and with apologies to Johnny Rivers)

There’s a fan who runs a file of genre
To everyone he meets he is no stranger
With every scroll he makes, another pixel he takes
What odds ::ticky:: brings comments by email?

Secret Filer Fan, Secret Filer Fan
He’s given you a number (five!), you’ve appertained your drinks

Beware the rabid puppies in the links
Excerpting news and S-F-F hijinks
Ah, be careful what you write
They’ll find their way to this site
Damned or praise you with words your own self typed

Secret Filer Fan, Secret Filer Fan
He’s given you a number (five!), you’ve appertained your drinks
Secret Filer Fan, Secret Filer Fan
He’s given you a number, you’ve appertained your drinks

SFWA INFOGRAPHIC. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American point out ways they are helping their members.

[Thanks to Lace, Dave Doering, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Junego.]

Pixel Scroll 5/13/16 Stop, Drop, And Scroll

(1) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Ann Leckie’s train delivered her to Chicago on time for Nebula Weekend, unlike last year when she was delayed by a bacon-related catastrophe.

(2) FREE ALLEGED BOOK. Timothy the Talking Cat’s amanuensis Camestros Felapton reports:

Now available from Smashwords, until they decide it is too embarrassing even for them, There Will Be Walrus First Volume V.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/636378

There Will Be WALRUS final

Crafted from the finest pixels and using exquisite fonts and typographical metadata, There Will Be Walrus is the ground breaking anthology series from Cattimothy House – the world’s leading publisher of feline edited military science fiction anthologies.

The book comes with additional bonus content and includes features such as:

  • clauses
  • sentences
  • paragraphs
  • chapters

Spelling and punctuation are used throughout and in many cases radical new and exciting approaches have been taken. Copy-editing has been applied at industry standards as found in top flight Hugo nominated publishers such as Castalia House or Baen Books.

(3) ZINES ONLINE. The University of New Brunswick Library has posted complete scans of a number of classic old fanzines from their collection, Algol, Luna, Amra, Mimosa, four  issues of Tom Reamy’s Trumpet, the earliest issues of Locus, and others. Click here.

(4) BETTY OR VERONICA? CW has given series orders to Greg Berlanti’s live-action Archie Comics series Riverdale. Entertainment Weekly says it will look like this:

Set in present-day and based on the iconic Archie Comics characters, Riverdale is a surprising and subversive take on Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will write and executive-produce with Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and Jon Goldwater. Cole Sprouse, Ashleigh Murray, Luke Perry, Madelaine Petsch, Marisol Nichols, and Mädchen Amick will also star.

(5) I COME NOT TO PRAISE THEM. ABC has axed The Muppets. Entertainment Weekly ran its obituary.

The comedy series lasted one 16-episode season on the network after launching to tremendous buzz last fall.

The beloved franchise was given a modern-day, adult-themed makeover by producers Bob Kushell (Anger Management) and Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory). The show also some criticism for trying to make the classic family characters more contemporary, including focusing on their love lives. Midway through the season run, falling ratings prompted ABC to make a major change behind the scenes, replacing showrunner Kushell with Kristin Newman (Galavant), who pledged to bring “joy” to the series. Yet the changes didn’t alter the show’s fate.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman has posted Episode 8 of his podcast Eating the Fantastic, in which he dines and dialogs with dual guests, Lynne Hansen, and Jeff Strand.

Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen

Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen

Lynne is a horror novelist turned filmmaker whose recent short, Chomp, received 21 nominations at a variety of film festivals, winning 7 times, including the Fright Meter Awards Best Short Horror Film of 2015, and Jeff Strand is not only the author of the wonderfully titled horror novels I Have a Bad Feeling About This and The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever (and many others)—he’ll also be the emcee Saturday for the Stoker Awards banquet.

Next episode of Eating the Fantastic, which will go live in approximately two weeks, will feature Maria Alexander, whose debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel

(7) WOMEN FEATURED AT GENCON. Anna Kreider points out “GenCon’s Featured Presenters are 52% female, and that’s a huge deal”.

[Before I start – full disclosure, I am one of the Industry Insider Featured Presenters for this year’s GenCon. So I’m sure that there are those who will say that me writing this post is self-serving arrogance and/or egomania, but whatever.]

The GenCon Industry Insider Featured Presenters for 2016 have been announced, and holy shit is this year’s lineup amazing! Seriously, take a look:

That’s right, folks. There are 13 female IIFPs and only 12 men. This means there are MORE WOMEN THAN MEN, and that is a HUGE FUCKING DEAL, because that is a HUGE amount of change in a really short period of time. To prove it, let’s look at the numbers:

(8) MEDICAL UPDATE. It was announced on his blog that Darwyn Cooke is being treated for cancer.

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce Darwyn is now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer. His brother Dennis and I, along with our families appreciate the outpouring of support we have received. We ask for privacy as we go through this very difficult time

(9) BLOG LAUNCH KEEPS UP MOMENTUM. Our Words’ rollout includes Sarah Chorn’s list of future plans

Anyway, things I envision for this website, so you know what to expect in the near future-ish:

1. I am continuing the guest posts. I love them. I think they are interesting, and I love getting diverse perspectives about many, many facets of disabilities in the genre.

2. I have a few interviews out. Yay! And I really want to keep interviews going.

3. I have a few giveaways in the works.

4. I have launched the book club, which I really, really want to take off.

5. I am currently working on doing a series of questions and answers. The idea behind this actually came from a few convention panels I was on, focusing on the topic of disabilities in the genre. After each panel, a host of authors would stand up and ask a ton of very good, very important questions about writing disabilities. So I figured maybe I can try to bring something like that to my website. I’m not exactly sure the format yet, but the idea is that I will get questions about writing disabilities from people who wish to ask said questions, and then I will send those questions to a few disabled genre authors to answer in a panel sort of format. That will take time to figure out, but it will happen eventually.

6. I have received a handful of books this week to review for this website, so start expecting book reviews.

7. I am trying to drum up a bunch of people willing to write about accessibility issues at conventions. There was some noise about this topic last year, but con season is upon us, and I’d like to get some people over here who are willing to write about it. We need to make some more noise about this. It is so important. 8. I am working on getting some people who are willing to write/do regular features over here.

(10) DAN WELLS. Our Words reposted “Dan Wells on Writing Mental Illness”, which originally appeared on SF Signal in 2015.

One in five people in America has a mental illness. One in twenty has a mental illness so serious it inhibits their ability to function. Look around the room you’re in: do you know who they are? Do you know how to help them? Maybe that one in five is you: do you know how to help yourself? The most depressing statistic of all is that no, none of us do. In 2015, Americans with mental illness are more likely to be in prison than in therapy. As a nation and as a culture we are absolutely terrible at recognizing, treating, and coping with mental illness. This needs to change.

(11) JAY LAKE. Our Words has also republished “Jay Lake on Writing With Cancer”, which the late author wrote for Bookworm Blues in 2012.

Cancer is not a disability in the usual sense of that term. It’s not even really a chronic disease, like lupus or MS. Rather, it’s an acute disease which can recur on an overlapping basis until one is cured or killed. Some cancers, such as indolent forms of prostate cancer or lymphoma, can be lived with until one dies of other causes. Other cancers such as pancreatic cancer can move like wildfire, with a patient lifespan measured in weeks or months from diagnosis to death.

My cancer falls somewhere in the mid range between the two. And though I wouldn’t think to claim it as a disability in either the social or legal senses of that term, it has a lot in common with disabilities.

Cancer has affected my writing in two basic ways. First, the disruptions of treatment. Second, the shifts in my own thoughts and inner life as I respond to the distorting presence of the disease in my life.

The treatments are brutal. Surgeries are rough, but they’re fairly time constrained. I’ve had four, a major resection of my sigmoid colon, a minor resection of my left lung, and two major resections of my liver. In each case, I spent three to six days in the hospital, followed by several weeks at home in a fairly serious recovery mode. I was back to writing within a month every time. These days, when I contemplate future surgery (far more likely than not, given the odds of recurrence for my cancer cohort), I budget a month of time lost and all it good.

(12) FIND YOUR OWN INKLINGS. Rachel Motte tells “Why C.S. Lewis Would Want You to Join a Writing Group” at Catholic Stand.

When J.R.R. Tolkien retired from his post at the University of Oxford in 1959, he intended to spend his new-found free time finishing The Silmarillion. Though this book is less well-known than his Lord of the Rings, Tolkien considered it his real work—the work he’d spent decades trying to get back to.

One can easily imagine the newly retired professor, still in his tweeds, bent over his desk, glad to at last avoid the professional obligations that had long kept him from the literary project he loved best. Instead, writes Inklings scholar Diana Pavlac Glyer, he found that the increased solitude hampered his ability to move forward with his favorite project. Glyer explains,

He quickly became overwhelmed by the task. He found himself easily distracted, and he spent his days writing letters or playing solitaire… Tolkien had become increasingly isolated, and as a result, he found himself unable to write. (Diana Pavlac Glyer, Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, p. 117)

You probably think of writing as a solitary activity—and, to some extent, you are right. “Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world,” notes Annie Dillard in The Writing Life. “One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.”

In the best of circumstances, however, that’s not where the story ends. Although we’re right to think of writing as partly a solitary activity, it’s also true that writers—like other artists—benefit from meeting regularly with other creative people.

(13) CRITICAL THEORY. “Russell Letson reviews Judith Merril” at Locus Online.

The Merril Theory of Lit’ry Criticism: Judith Merril’s Nonfiction, Judith Merril (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-093-6, $22.00, 348pp, tp) March 2016.

…Her critical work was more practical than theoretical, but nonetheless systematic and precise. She was a commentator who was also a practitioner, an analyst who was also a fan, with a broad-church sensibility that could not disentangle SF from the cultures that surrounded it.

In The Merril Theory of Lit’ry Criticism, editor Ritch Calvin has gathered and condensed thirteen years’ worth of material into a single vol­ume that includes the introductions and ‘‘sum­mation’’ essays from her long-running series of annual ‘‘Best SF’’ anthologies; book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; and a single long, reflective essay written for the Science Fiction Research Association’s journal Extrapolation. The chronological arrangement allows us to follow Merril as she explores the shape and extent of the modern fantastic, locates particular writers and works in that geography, and develops an aesthetic and historical-social framework for making judgments. (The full texts of all the items are available as an e-book, which is nearly twice as long as the print version. Omitted material consists mainly of individual story introductions from the annual anthologies.) …

(14) LAST YEAR, WHEN WE WERE YOUNG. Matt interviews Andrew J. McKiernan  at Smash Dragons.

The title story for your collection is a fascinating tale about survival amidst a strange and very disturbing apocalypse. I’m curious, how did this particular story come about? Where did you draw your inspiration from? 

Like pretty much every story I write, it starts with a title. That’s where I thought Last Year, When We Were Young came from. Just a title that popped into my head that I ran with and a story emerged from it. It is always my wife who points out the real life inspirations for my stories, when here I am thinking they’re just stories, fictions. In this case, my father-in-law had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour and the operation to remove it didn’t go too spectacularly for him. At the same time, my own father had a heart attack and I’d just entered my 40s and my eldest son had turned 18. So, the title story is me trying to deal with the fact that we all age, and that it happens so goddamn quickly. We get older, and yet a lot of the time we still feel like we’re kids and teenagers. The first 20 years of our life seem so long and so important and our mind dwells on those times. I’m 45 now, and yet a part of me still feels like I’m 18 and should be out there playing in a band and getting drunk and enjoying myself. Age creeps up on us so quickly. We’re adults before we know it. Mid-life crisis, I guess, the realisation that I had aged and that I really would die one day, and this story was my subconscious way of examining that.

(15) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. George Donnelly will be having a sale a week from today.

Today’s top libertarian fiction authors bring you 99-cent fiction books May 18-20 only. Some are even free. Read on your phone, tablet, browser or kindle

(16) PLANETARIUM PANEL FEATURES CLARKE FINALIST. Spaceships: Above and Beyond at the Royal Observatory Planetarium”, Greenwich, Thursday, May 26 (18.30-20.30). Click the link for full details and tickets. Here’s the line up:

  • Libby Jackson, Former ESA Flight Director now working for the UK Space Agency
  • Dr. Adam Baker, Senior Lecturer in Astronautics at Kingston University
  • Dr. Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
  • James Smythe, Science Fiction author – shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2016
  • The panel discussion will be hosted by Tom Hunter, Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

(17) PANAMA GOLD. At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg has posted “Every Fan Fiction I Have Started Writing Once I Found out Emma Watson Was Named In The Panama Papers”.

“Mustn’t complain, though,” Harry said after an odd silence. “That’s what our taxes are for, after all.”

“We don’t pay taxes,” Hermione said. “Taxes are for Muggles.” She extinguished her cigarette in the last slice of cake.

“But you’re –” Harry started.

“I used to be a lot of things,” Hermione said decisively. “I have money now instead.”

Harry stopped at every bar on the way home, until he could no longer remember the look that had entered her eyes as she said it.

(18) PIXAR PRAISE. Kristian Williams’s YouTube video “Pixar–What Makes a Story Relatable” explains why Pixar films work — because at their core, they’re great stories.

(19) ADDRESSEE KNOWN. Not everybody Andrew Liptak outs was very far undercover to begin with: “Guess Who? 15 Sci-Fi Authors Who Used Pseudonyms—and Why” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

U.K. Le Guin, Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most famous living science fiction authors, but when she sold her story “Nine Lives” to Playboy, her editors asked her to change her name to U.K. Le Guin, fearing that a female author would make their readers “nervous.” Le Guin remembered it as the only time, “I met with anything I understood as sexual prejudice, prejudice against me as a woman writer.” She’s never used a pseudonym again, and “Nine Lives” appears under her own name in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters.

(20) THE NEBULA ON CHAOS HORIZON. Brandon Kempner calls his shot in “2016 Nebula Prediction”.

I’ve spun my creaky model around and around, and here is my prediction for the Nebulas Best Novel category, taking place this weekend:

N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season: 22.5%
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy:22%
Naomi Novik, Uprooted: 14.7%
Ken Liu, The Grace of Kings: 13.3%
Lawrence Schoen, Barsk: 10.7%
Charles Gannon, Trial by Fire: 9.5%
Fran Wilde, Updraft: 7.3%

Remember, Chaos Horizon is a grand (and perhaps failed!) experiment to see if we can predict the Nebulas and Hugos using publicly available data.

(21) A PICTURE AND A THOUSAND WORDS. Defenestration, for reasons that will become obvious, made sure we didn’t miss this Hugo humor.

Andrew Kaye (known in some circles as AK) is the creator of Ben & Winslow and other questionable comics, many of which can be found in his deviantART gallery and his Tumblr. He’s also the editor-in-chief of this magazine. Duh.

I realize a lot of the folks who read Ben & Winslow might not be familiar with the drama that’s surrounded the Hugos lately–you can find plenty of articles and blogs discussing it in more detail than I can spare here. Basically, unlike other major awards, the Hugos are chosen by science-fiction and fantasy fandom. Last year a subset of that fandom got angry with the growing diversity among the award nominees and the subject matter they wrote about (or in other words, the nominees weren’t all straight white men writing adventure stories). They took advantage of the Hugos’ fan-based voting  and hijacked the list of nominees with their own choices. The 2015 Hugo ballot was a shambles–many nominees dropped out, and most Hugo voters chose to vote for “No Award” rather than vote for what actually made it to the ballot.

Well, the same thing has happened this year. The same people are trying to control the award. Trying to destroy the award. And if they’re allowed to continue, they’ll succeed. Needless to say, a lot of people are upset about this. To someone unfamiliar with the award, the whole thing looks like a big joke.

http://www.defenestrationmag.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/04292016-Hugo-Boss.jpg

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Matthew Davis, and Tom Hunter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Wrap-up of Life, The Universe & Everything #34

By David Doering: LTUE—affectionately pronounced “lootee” despite the spelling, is a great hybrid of con, symposium, and workshop. Author Dan Wells calls it “the learning con” to differentiate it from the “spectator cons” like the Comic Con-type.

Here’s the logo—notice the ingenious design combining SF, Fantasy, and the fannish feline “Luna” in the negative space. Neat, huh?

LTUE logo

This year set new records:

  • Up to 10 events in each hour
  • Over 220 hours of programming (not including gaming, filking, film festival or the autograph party)
  • Over 1700 in attendance

LTUE continues to be the largest writers and creators conference in the Intermountain West.

Attendees from around the globe—as far as Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Guests of honor were Kevin J Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, and Shannon Hale. Other notables were the Writing Excuses team: Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal (our Toastmaster); L.E. Modesitt, Dave Farland, Larry Correia, editors Stacy Whitman and Lisa Mangum, artist Brian Hailes, Eric James Stone, and Michaelbrent Collins.

United Airlines needed 3 planes to get GoHs Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta to Salt Lake from Denver…Not only does United break guitars but it also breaks planes. Two had mechanical issues half way and had to turn back. (Wait. If you’re half way and have to turn around, wouldn’t it just be easier to fly the rest of the way to Salt Lake than turn around?? It’s only 400 air miles.)

(Despite this, KJA had a kind word to summarize his visit to LTUE:

KJA tweet

Kevin J Anderson also introduced a new measurement for writer productivity: the “Sanderson”. Based on Brandon’s 10K average word count of writing a week, Kevin jocularly says he only does about .1 Sanderson a week. (Which makes me feel like I only do like .005 sandersons.)

[Another term I heard for the first time, but likely is common amongst fantasy writers, was “horse dragon”—a dragon you can ride. Dd]

KJA’s main address was his life story on becoming a writer. Afterwards, Kevin complimented the LTUE audience as attentive and appreciative. “I give this talk at comic cons and the audience does politely laugh at the right parts. Here it was like I was speaking to a roomful of people like me 30 years ago eager to become writers.”

Todd Gallowglass, probably the finest professional live storyteller in fandom, gave a wonderful 15 tale of Scottish bravery to the LTUE banquet on Saturday night. (Yes, we still do a banquet to meet the hotel’s request for a food function.) After Todd’s storytelling with active audience participation, he thanked everyone because everyone really _wanted_ to participate when he signed to have them do cheers, oohs and aahs.

A real highlight was Shannon Hale’s main address on diversity. Shannon, though, didn’t stand up and be a firebrand to castigate. Instead, she noted how few boys come to her autograph sessions and, if they do, they say “well, my sister really likes your books”. She says she writes her books for human beings, so why does her being female or the title have “princess” in it make boys uncomfortable? Even young boys. Where does this start? This should be something we can fix today.

The most egregious example was of one school (of the 100 or so she visits each year) which said that boys didn’t need to attend her assembly—overtly indicating that either her books or her as an author would not be of interest to boys.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s toastmaster speech at the banquet was a sidesplitting recounting of her working with a malfunctioning marionette during a live performance of Sleeping Beauty(?) with recorded dialog. The ambiguous dialog suggested a whole different meaning to the scene when the maiden encounters the witch where the witch could only perform one action: a stroking movement with her hand.

Programming at LTUE primarily focuses on creators—writers, screenwriters, or artists—but there’s plenty of serious academic content. I loved the last presentation on Saturday “Time Travel” presented by surprisingly enough Salt Lake Comic Con’s own Bryan Brandenburg (who serves as their head of marketing). This was an intense, Einsteinian discussion with lots of “meat”:

Einstein

Okay, yes, that was one of his slides, but the rest of the content was in fact very scientific:

Einstein’s well accepted relativity physics states that time travel is possible, when one object is traveling faster than another object, especially as one object approaches the speed of light, relative to the other.

The earth and all of its inhabitants are traveling near the speed of light relative to a number of other objects in the universe. So has our future already happened, relative to some other observer in the universe?

HIGHLIGHTS (And Lowlights)

Here’s a dreadful picture of me during setup. Looks like the baby’s due in about three months. Egads. Smile’s pretty good. And the t-shirt with the Steve Keele-designed logo for Westercon 67 looks great! (Some are still available!)

David Doering

David Doering

Here’s Shannon Hale, author of fantasy series like the Princess Academy books, doing her main address. Note one of our mascot “Douglas” the dragon on the podium. (Wonder why LTUE would choose the name “Douglas”?)

Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale

Here’s some of the main guests discussing writing natural dialog. Notice how Brandon doesn’t need to have a nameplate. (Yes, we did record some events with permission to share on our Youtube channel.)

Sanderson no sign

Here’s the Writing Excuses podcast recording six sessions live at LTUE. Another super great event, and sadly one I didn’t get to hear or see. So I don’t know what the headbands are all about.

Panel 2

Yes, there’s gaming at LTUE. And with Brandon Sanderson involved, it’s quite a tournament!

Sanderson gaming

Expanded dealers room—like most cons, its books with some jewelry and a massage parlor. More unusual is that Barnes and Noble has four tables full of hardcovers and paperbacks and do a brisk business. Great support from our local B&N.

Kelly Olson

Even our libation station got kudos!

Bowman tweet

I missed this one. Dang, our first “official” after party too. (Keeping with fannish tradition, it was held the first night of the con.)

After Party

New this year is a full Professional Development track. LOTS of great feedback on this!

LTUE plug

Something very unique to Utah cons:

Meeks tweet

Another unique aspect at LTUE? Actual full rooms for 9AM panels:

Other good wrap-ups:

Drew Gerken

I was able to hang out my dearest friends for three days and talk the craft of writing – what else does a boy need? If you get the opportunity to go next year, please do so – you will not regret it.

Max Florschutz

LTUE 2016 was, as each LTUE before it, well worth attending. Over the years I’ve started to see it as the writing convention to attend, and I have no reservations in saying that if you want to attend a convention to help with your writing, this one should be it. Dozens of high-profile, A-list authors, all offering as much advice as they can while still having fun.

Rampant Coyote

Me? I’m definitely signing up for next year. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and had an absolute blast.

Kevin J. Anderson offered a really great analogy with respect to writing…there are a couple of ways to make popcorn: you can take a clean pan, put it on the oven burner, add exactly 1 tablespoon of oil and evenly spread the oil across the entire surface of the pan. You then turn the burner up to get the pan to exactly the right temperature – no more, no less. Then you select the perfect kernel of popcorn from your container of popcorn, and place it in the exact center of the pan where the heat is perfect. Then wait as the ripples form, and then (hopefully) when the kernel pops you immediately remove it to a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Then you turn off the burner, let the pan cool, and then wash it and clean it so the pan is in pristine condition. Then you repeat the entire process all over again.

Or, of course, you can just dump all the popcorn in, not really be able to predict in advance which kernel will pop or which direction it will pop. In the end, you’ll have a whole bowl full of popcorn either way, but in the first case you may starve to death before you get there.

Next Puppy Please 4/11

Sad Puppies suddenly remembered today they love Tor Books after all, for no particular rea$on. Mary Robinette Kowal offered to underwrite 10 Worldcon member$hips to grow fandom beyond the enclave. Gawker hates that George R.R. Martin is lo$ing money blogging about Sad Puppies instead of finishing his book. George himself returns to the lists in a post condemning hate speech. That and many other opinions are canvassed in today’s roundup.

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Last SP post for the week, to my people, don’t blame Tor” –April 11

In fact, one of our suggestions for novel is by Kevin J. Anderson, and is published by Tor.  One of our nominees is John C. Wright, and he is published by Tor. There are other Tor authors who are secret members of the Evil Legion of Evil. And there are some Tor authors and editors who have reached out to us this week, and who have told the angry mobs to calm the hell down and knock off the asinine defamation, both in public and in private.

Don’t threaten to boycott anybody because of their business associations, because that’s exactly the kind of boorish behavior that’s been done to us.

Don’t post links to a torrent site and suggest that people pirate stuff instead of giving a publishing house money. Do you have any idea how offensive it is to do that on a professional author’s feed?

 

John C. Wright

“No Tarring Tor” – April 11

My comment: Let me state for the record that all my dealings with Tor Books have been courteous and professional.

I never ran into anyone who expressed the least curiosity about my private opinions or public faith, no one who ever rolled his eyes or curled his lip, or bit his thumb.

Allow me to list the good Tor has done me, so that one and all with understand the true depth of my gratitude.

They are the first publishing house to give me a break, and buy my novels. All other houses had rejected them.

Mr Hartwell of Tor Books sought me out, not me him, based on the quality of my short stories. That indicated to me that he was and would be an editor of vision and energy, willing to go the extra mile to orchestrate the sale of high quality material. I have never had cause to doubt that original favorable first impression.

Tor took a great gamble on my first five books, buying them all at once.

Tor has routinely bestowed brilliant cover art to adorn them, for which one Irene Gallo, head of the art department, merits public lauds. (I do not know if she is still there. This is as of the last I heard.) You have heard other authors complain about their book covers? I have been given no cause for the slightest complaint.

The Tor publicity department has always been friendly and responsive to my concerns. (Even when I imposed on them).

Tor accomplished the impossible for me. After very difficult negotiations, Tor Books cooperated with the estate of AE van Vogt to allow me to write the authorized sequel to my favorite book by my favorite author, NULL-A CONTINUUM. That is beyond any dream come true for any author.

 

Jay Hathaway on Gawker

How Gamergate Radicals Seized Sci-Fi’s Most Prestigious Awards – April 10

So, on top of everything else, the Puppies have distracted GRRM from finishing the Winds of Winter? What a fucking disaster.

 

Pat Cadigan in a comment on File 770 – April 11

I’d just like to note that I made my statement “There is no ‘them’” before I knew that the Sad/Rabid Puppies were an organised effort, with slates that their followers were to vote for.

Having learned better, I’d have to say that there didn’t used to be a ‘them.’

This year, there is and that’s a pretty sad state of affairs, to say the least.

 

Mary Robinette Kowal

“Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy” – April 11

My dear fandom, people from the larger SFF community, fans of my work, fans of Larry Correia’s work… there are more of us.

So this is my call to action for all of you — Become more inclusive. Invite your friends and family to participate. Buy a supporting membership for someone who can’t afford it. Welcome people who like different work than you do. Ask them to recommend a book. Read it. Recommend something to them. Talk about why you like it.

But please, please let’s stop trying to make fandom a special little enclave. It has always been the place where people could come, regardless of what they were fans of, and be welcome. It’s where we can wear Regency attire next to a Transformers cosplay. This isn’t to say that we should tolerate bad behavior, but liking something different isn’t bad behaviour.

And to my readers — If you can afford it, I encourage you to buy a membership to WorldCon and become part of fandom. If you cannot afford it…  I will buy a supporting membership to WorldCon for ten people who cannot afford it. All I ask is that you join the conversation.

 

Beth Wodzinski on Shimmer

“Shimmer Supports Hugo Voters” – April 11

You know what would be neat? If everyone in the science fiction and fantasy world voted in the Hugo awards. If everyone read widely and discussed what they loved. If all the voices were heard, not just the loudest. A healthy ecosystem is one that’s teeming with millions of kinds of life; let’s find ways to include more people.

If you can afford a supporting membership to WorldCon, I strongly encourage you to buy one. It’s $40. A supporting membership gives you the right to vote in this year’s Hugos — and the right to nominate in next year’s.

If you can’t afford a supporting membership… Mary Robinette Kowal is offering to pay for a supporting membership to WorldCon for ten people who cannot afford it.

This is a splendid idea. Shimmer’s happy to join Mary. We’ll match her offer: ten memberships for people who can’t otherwise afford one. Email beth@shimmerzine.com with your name, phone number (just as backup in case your email doesn’t work), and a paragraph telling me a little bit about yourself and why you’d like a supporting membership. I expect to get more than ten people interested, so will ultimately choose at random.

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Hatespeech” – April 11

And now there’s Puppygate, and I have been posting about that, and in the course of which I have had some exchanges with Larry Correia, the founder of Sad Puppies, and Brad Torgensen, who ran the SP3 slate. And both of them tell similar tales: of anonymous phone calls, libel and slander, vicious emails, death threats… death threats! All of these, presumably, coming from “my side” of fandom, those who oppose the Puppies. Do I believe them? I don’t want to believe them. I would rather cling to the belief that my side is better than that. That’s hard to do these days, As strongly as I disagree with Torgensen and Correia about the Hugo Awards, and probably a hundred other issues, I have no reason to think them liars. I think they are telling the truth, just as Quinn and Sarkeesian and Wu were. On the internet, it seems, abuse trumps debate every time.

Death threats. Really? Really???

It really makes me wonder. Were there always so many toads out there, so many slimy squirming venomous cowards lurking in their parents’ basements? Or did the internet somehow just bring them into being overnight, these children of Tsathoggua?

I really don’t know, but it makes me despair. Is this what we are as a country, as a people? When we disagree, is it really necessary to spit and snap at each other, to throw around insults and obscenities, to make death threads, rape threats? Can’t we just debate the issues?

 

Martin Lewis on Everything Is Nice

“Actually, It’s About Ethics In Award Nominations” – April 11

As I said when last year’s shortlists were announced, I do think there is a connection between author’s publishing their eligibility and the rise of nomination slates but I had no intention of being dragged into it all again this year, an intention only strengthen by seeing it play out again in exactly the same way. However, at the same time, I’ve been increasingly doing my own lobbying as well as mulling over Abigail Nussbaum’s increasingly militant line on awards recommendations:

Last year when the nominees were announced there were several attempts to distinguish between “good” and “bad” campaigning–to argue, for example, that Larry Correia’s Sad Puppies ballot (which gave us Vox Day, Hugo nominee), and the campaign to get all fourteen Wheel of Time novels nominated for Best Novel, were substantively different from, say, my posting my Hugo recommendations on this blog, or John Scalzi recommending me for the Best Fan Writer Hugo. I don’t believe that’s true.

I disagree with Nussbaum – I think there is a substantive difference – but I also think there should be more discussion of these issues. Recognising that this might be difficult, I’d like to propose a framework for this discussion. I’m not saying that this framework is right or definitive but I do hope it is at least helpful. First of all, I think there are three axes to consider: someone’s authority, the extent to which they direct others and their own self-interest. Secondly, the range of each axis is quite large:

Authority

1 – Some random person on the internet

2 – Someone with a social media network including Hugo voters

3 – Someone with a large social media network including Hugo voters or an author

4 – An author with a large following

5 – A superstar author

Direction

1 – Listing your nominations without comment

2 – Recommending multiple works to consider or posting your own eligibility

3 – Recommending specific works to nominate

4 – Actively campaigning for specific works

5 – Actively campaigning for a full slate

Self-interest

1 – No relationship with the person you recommend

2 – Acquaintance, colleague or part of social network

3 – Friend

4 – Yourself

5 – Yourself and your friends

 

Dan Wells

“My four cents on the Hugo thing” – April 7

3) I do not like what the slate-voting model has done to the Hugos–I think it has removed any legitimacy the award once had, and reduced it to a two-party system that will, in the future, only nominate a narrow subset of the field. You’ll have Sad Puppies and Anti-Sad Puppies, and we’ll pick our ticket and campaign for it for months, and anyone not on the ticket will be out in the cold. I honestly don’t see how that CAN’T happen next year, unless we change the voting rules. And no, that’s not what it was before: what it was before was a group of like-minded people who tended to vote for the same authors and themes every time, which is pretty standard for any voting award anyway, and a far cry from a curated ticket of “this is the slate we should all vote for.” I am sad that this has happened, but I hope we can find a way to fix it.

4) No matter how much I hate the slate, and how sad I am for the people and stories the slate bumped off, I think that voting against everyone on the slate regardless of merit seems like a terrible idea. Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, was a favorite for the category going in, and probably got just as many normal nominations as Puppy nominations, but now we’re all going to vote against it as some kind of protest? Kevin Anderson and Jim Butcher are excellent authors–giants in the field, and mentors to half the authors working today–but now we’re supposed to shut them out completely just because the wrong people nominated them? Toni Weiiskopf and Anne Sowards are exactly the kind of brilliant, talented editors the “recognize more women” crowd (in which company I include myself) has been trying to recognize for years, but now we’re supposed to ignore them just because some conservative white guys got them on the ballot? THIS IS INSANE. Some of the people on the ballot are terrible people, and some of their work is terrible fiction, and I’ll be voting accordingly, but punishing Anne Sowards because I want to punish the people who put her on the slate is misguided and cruel. These people did good work, worthy of reward, and I’m going to reward them. Let’s fix this problem in a way that doesn’t trample innocents.

As a final word: I will be at WorldCon this year, not wallowing in controversy but celebrating science fiction and fantasy. I love the genre, I love the stories we tell, and I love the spirit of hope that those stories express about the future. Let’s try to be as good as the heroes we write about.

 

Catherynne M. Valente on Rules for Anchorites

“Holding the Hugos – and the English Language – Hostage for Fun and Profit” – April 8

I suspect it’s because they know inclusivity and diversity are considered positive attributes by most people. Exclusivity and uniformity don’t sell. Despite their conviction that they are the persecuted majority, they know that no one wants to hear: we made a club so that we could be sure only people we approved politically and personally would be nominated. No one wants to hear: isn’t it nice how we’ve scrubbed the ballot of all those undesirables? Now it’s just us! What they did is unpalatable, and they know it. But now that they’ve gotten what they want, they need people to be happy about it in order for the award to have any meaning, and so they’ve grabbed the language of the enemy to praise themselves. Only it doesn’t work, because words have meanings. It’s a pretty classic conservative technique (see the fact that Social Justice Warrior now means a bad person), but it’s depressing–or perhaps hilarious–to see it used by individuals because they can’t face the consequences of what they’ve done. You guys spent ages telling us diversity was bullshit and inclusivity was a creeping evil. Why are you now telling us, with a sneer and a smirk, that you are their champions? What is wrong with you? It’s all so unfathomably dishonest and intellectually bankrupt I have a hard time believing any of these people put together a coherent novel at any point.

Puppies: if you truly believe that what you did was right and good and honest, if you believe you have struck a blow for virtue and excellence–be straight with us. Tell us that. Don’t try to paint over the mess you made by insisting you’ve done it all for the sake of inclusive, diverse happy kittens and rainbows. Conservative politics are supposed to be all about straight-shooting real talk. So just say you used your clique (and probably some others) to do something you believed in, no matter what the cost. You do not get to have your ballot and eat it, too. You did this. You have to face the consequences. You cannot tell the world that they should vote for you to strike back at women, liberal, people of color, and queer writers (and even worse–literary science fiction authors, the horror!) and then call yourselves diverse and inclusive.

 

T. L. Knighton

“Disinformation flies. Time to set it right” – April 11

Sad Puppies is about denying women and people of color recognition

Horseshit. Yes, it’s my blog and I’ll cuss if I want to.

Sad Puppies nominated a number of women and people of color. Maybe not as many as our detractors would have preferred, but they’re on there. I haven’t done the math, but recall someone pointing out that almost 40 percent of the slate are women (I don’t recall if it’s women and “people of color” or just women). There’s zero effort to shut out women and people of color.

Sad Puppies is a meritocracy. If we liked your work, you were probably going to get in. If not, well, sorry. None of us care if you’re white, black, brown, or purple with pink polka dots. We just don’t. We care about what kind of stories you tell. More specifically, we care about what kind of story you told in a single instance.

Rachel Swirsky’s If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love has gotten a lot of flak from our side. We don’t consider it to be science fiction or fantasy. If it’s fantasy literature, then so is the entire romance genre.

However, let’s say the next story she publishes is a rousing space adventure tale, told in her her own style. That same style as, If You Were A Dinosaur. Well, there’s a good chance we’d nominate her. Provided the Sad Puppy crowd read it, of course.

 

2015 Locus Recommended Reading List Appears

The highly influential Locus Recommended Reading List has been posted by Locus Online.

The 2014 list is a consensus by Locus editors and reviewers with some input by others —

Liza Groen Trombi, Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, Faren Miller, Russell Letson, Graham Sleight, Adrienne Martini, Carolyn Cushman, Tim Pratt, Karen Burnham, Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Paul Kincaid, and others — with inputs from outside reviewers, other professional critics, other lists, etc. Short fiction selections are based on material from Jonathan Strahan, Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Lois Tilton, Ellen Datlow, Alisa Krasnostein, and Paula Guran with some assistance from Karen Burnham, Nisi Shawl, and Mark Kelly.

On the list are —

  • 28 SF novels, 22 fantasy novels, 18 YA books, 11 first novels;
  • 14 collections, 12 original anthologies, 11 reprint anthologies;
  • 12 nonfiction books, 13 art books;
  • 16 novellas
  • 53 novelettes
  • 58 short stories

The list is always a focal point of discussion during awards season. This year it may also provide ammunition for the Sad Puppies 3 campaign because despite its breadth it contains a grand total of zero works written by —

  • Larry Correia
  • Brad Torgersen
  • John C. Wright
  • Vox Day
  • Sarah Hoyt
  • Dan Wells

— five writers who were on last year’s Sad Puppies slate, and a sixth, John C. Wright, who has been constantly mentioned as a writer they will endorse in 2015. Four members of last year’s slate, Correia, Torgersen, Day and Wells, made the 2014 Hugo ballot (though none was on last year’s Locus list, either).

Oh, and the current Locus list also contains absolutely zero works published by Baen Books.

How I’m Voting in the Best Novella Category

All five of the 2014 Best Novella Nominees rank above No Award on my Hugo ballot, which is saying something this year. Nearly all of them succeed on their own terms and it’s easy to see why each story has its fans.

(5) “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

This is the first of the Bob Howard “Laundry” adventures I’ve ever read. Stross has written many stories in this series, including several novels, and it’s quite popular. So why would a yarn with that pedigree land fifth on my ballot? Because I don’t vote Hugos to stories that make me want to throw up.

In the middle of this Lovecraftian parody/espionage tale there’s a confrontation with a monster that details a hideously graphic sexual violation.

Ordinarily I would have clocked out of the story at that point. I abandoned Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl when a scene struck me as outside the bounds of entertainment, and it was far less offensive. Yet I couldn’t shake off the fanzine fan ethic that says – don’t review stuff you haven’t read. So I finished “Equoid.”

Even apart from that dealbreaker, Stross’ sustained cleverness is almost overwhelming. It’s like being on a panel with David Brin, a constant flow of truly inventive ideas that nevertheless focus attention on the author more than the subject. However, there was one thing I truly enjoyed — the parallels drawn between bureaucratic infighting and action in the field. That definitely qualified as a “truth said in jest.”

(4) “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)

The science fiction field tends to be hostile to religious faith, so it’s rare to find a good exploration of that topic in the genre. Torgersen’s characters begin at several different points on the topography of belief. He draws each one to a resolution that feels genuine, which is not easy to do. Otherwise, this is a linear, action-driven space opera that would have fit comfortably in Astounding (and evidently still fits in Analog today). Only fourth place for this effort because the writing style is rather basic.

(3) The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)

Dan Wells’ story has an even higher body count than “Equoid” but confines itself to regular barroom and battlefield morbidity. The protagonist has a technology-related superpower that leads to a great military career though with many a pitfall. His life story is told out of chronological order, something Wells carries off very well – and the choice for the last segment is completely satisfying. A professionally impressive work, though one that isn’t much fun because the protagonist is psychotic.

(2) Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)

The other day I read an editor promising her readers “gorgeous prose,” and Valente is an author who supplies that in abundance. In this novella she reweaves the traditional Snow White fairy tale as the life story of a child of a wealthy miner and a Crow woman, told in frontier diction — perhaps not the same as Charles Portis’ True Grit, though it came to mind, and absolutely without a trace of humor. The protagonist is an abused child inevitably trapped by a desire to please her parents. Throughout her life she copes with all the racism and sexism the 19th century has to offer. The historical realism (indeed, some of these details come from the Hearst family) makes the story feel like a duty to read.

The story is essentially a series of episodes that hold together because the reader knows the fairy tale. Otherwise the experience would be comparable to reading Harlan Ellison’s “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore.” But that’s a short story. When I reached the point in Six-Gun Snow White of asking “Will this be over soon?” there were 80 more pages to go.

(1) “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages is by far the most entertaining and slickest written story nominated in this category. The cleverness, use of dialect and diction, and the awareness of social issues noted in the competition are all present here but remain in balance with storytelling and characterization.

There is one drawback. It’s not science fiction, and it’s only fantasy in a very general sense. Now when I was a lad I might have felt obligated to defend the purity of the Hugo Award against incursions of popular mainstream fiction. But this year, when so many games were played to get things on the final ballot, I refuse to be stopped from voting for what I regard as the best story in the category.

2013 Parsec Award Finalists

Finalists have been announced for the Parsec Awards which celebrate Speculative Fiction Podcasting.

Shows are nominated by fans, finalists are chosen by a steering committee, and the winners are voted on by an independent panel of judges.

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form)

Short stories containing elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror where the storytelling uses narration as its primary means to convey scene and action and uses fewer than three people for the story presentation.

Fiends: Mimes by Paul Elard Cooley (from Shadow Publications)
Final Girl Theory by A.C. Wise (from Pseudopod)
Fires in the Snow by Starla Huchton (from The Gearhart)
Now Cydonia by Rick Kennett (from Cast of Wonders)
Royal Offworld Navy by Alexa Chipman (from Imagination Lane)
Silence: A Fable by Edgar Allan Poe, directed by Jeffrey Gardner (from Our Fair City)

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Novella Form)

Novel-length containing elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror where the storytelling uses narration as its primary means to convey scene and action and uses fewer than three people for the story presentation.

The Beauty of Our Weapons by M. Darusha Wehm
Garaaga’s Children: Scrolls by Paul Elard Cooley
Stolen Hearts: The Invitation (A Gallifreyan Love Story) by Edward WinterRose
The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft, produced by Mike Bennett
Tainted Roses by Mark Kilfoil (from Every Photo Tells…)

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Long Form)

Novel-length containing elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror where the storytelling uses narration as its primary means to convey scene and action and uses fewer than three people for the story presentation.

The Diary of Jill Woodbine by Jay Smith (from HG World)
Interference by Eric Luke
Secret World Chronicles, Season 6: Revolutions by Mercedes Lackey, Dennis Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere
Strigoaie The Romanian Witch by Mark Vale
Underwood and Flinch by Mike Bennett

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast

Stories of any length containing elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror in which storytelling uses narration as its primary means to convey scene and action and uses more than two people for the story presentation.

Alek and Elizabeth and the End of the World” by Michael Grey (Journey Into…)
Boat in Shadows, Crossing” by Tori Truslow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Harlan’s Wake” written by John Mierau, produced by Brian Lincoln (The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine)
A Janitor’s Territory” by Birke Duncan
The Road To Utopia Plain” by Rick Kennett (The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine)

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Short Form)

Short audio presentations containing elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror in which storytelling is effected through the dialogue of its characters and sound effects/scenery presenting action and scene as it’s primary mechanism.

Keeg’s Quest: A Skyrim Adventure by Rich Matheson
Aaron’s World by Mike Meraz and Aaron
The Minister of Chance by Radio Static
Ancient Evil by Aural Stage Studios (Dialed In)
The Pendant Shakespeare by Pendant Productions

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Long Form)

Long audio presentations containing elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror in which storytelling is effected through the dialogue of its characters and sound effects/scenery presenting action and scene as its primary mechanism.

We’re Alive by KC Wayland
Hothouse Bruiser by Joel Metzger
The Leviathan Chronicles by Christof Laputka
Star Trek: Outpost by Tony Raymond and Daniel McIntosh
The Guild of The Cowry Catchers: Book 4 Out of the Ashes by Abigail Hilton

Best Speculative Fiction Video Story

Video podcasts that tell a speculative fiction story.

Dr. Talon’s “Letter to the Editor” by David D. Levine
The Silent City by Rubidium Wu
I Have Your Heart by Molly Crabapple, Kim Boekbinder & Jim Batt

Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast

Podcasts that regularly present short stories from different authors containing elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror.

Toasted Cake by Tina Connolly
The Drabblecast by Norm Sherman
The NoSleep Podcast by David Cummings
Tales from the Archives, Volume 2 by Tee Morris and Pip Ballentine
Every Photo Tells… by Katharina and Mick Bordet

Best New Speculative Fiction Podcaster/Team

This person or team is new to podcasting in the past Parsec eligibility year, becoming a significant voice that has contributed to the community as a whole.

The NoSleep Podcast by David Cummings
Doctor Who: Verity! by Deb Stanish & Erika Ensign
Nights at the Round Table by Ash Farbrother
Reader/Writer Podcast by Ben Delano/Mary Ellen Warren
Blurry Photos by David Flora

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (Specific)

News and commentary podcasts created by and for the fans of a given type of literary or entertainment work or series of works that have elements of speculative fiction.

RebelForce Radio by Jimmy Mac and Jason Swank
Doctor Who: Radio Free Skaro by Warren Frey, Steven Schapansky, Chris Burgess
Two-Minute Time Lord by Chip Sudderth
 Commentary: Trek Stars by Mike Schindler, Max Hegel
Doctor Who: Verity! by Deb Stanish & Erika Ensign

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (General)

News and commentary podcasts created by and for the fans of speculative fiction.

Geek Radio Daily by Geek Radio Daily
The Incomparable by Jason Snell
Nights at the Round Table by Ash Farbrother
The Ratchet RetroCast by John F. Strangeway, Doc Quincy E. Quartermain
PodCulture: Equal Opportunity Geekness by Brad, Glenn, Christina, and Adam

Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation

Podcasts about the creative process and/or the technical aspects of speculative fiction podcast creation.

StoryForward by J.C. Hutchins & Steve Peters
StoryWonk Sunday by Lani Diane Rich and Alistair Stephens
Writing Excuses by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal
Get Published by Michell Plested
Adventures in SciFi Publishing by Shaun Farrell

Best Fact Behind the Fiction Podcast

Podcasts that explore the facts that influence the fictions – the science, history, culture, and mythology that inspire these stories.

Hubblecast by Oli Usher & Joe Liske
Blurry Photos by David Flora
The Titanium Physicists Podcast by Ben Tippett
Bacteriofiles by Jesse Noar
Token Skeptic by K. Sturgess

Best Speculative Fiction Comedy/Parody Podcast

Whether they make fun of bad movies or or poke fun at our own geekdom, these podcasts keep us laughing.

My Script is MUD by Birke Duncan
Blastropodcast by Mark Soloff
The Chapter Titles Were So Good by The Peter, Regular Tom, and Mr. Tom
Dragon*ConTV by Brian Richardson
Comedy4Cast by Clinton

Best Speculative Fiction Music Podcast

Podcasts discussing and sampling music about, set in, inspired by or spoofing speculative fiction. (e.g. Filk, Rock, RenFair, Rap, Techno)

Radio Free Hipster by Z
The Funny Music Project by Devo Spice
Pros and Cons by Jonah Knight

[Via SF Signal.]

Utah Wins 2014 Westercon

Salt Lake City will host the 2014 Westercon. Although Utah in 2014 was an unopposed bid and received a first-round majority, as last year’s business meeting reminds us, running for Westercon unopposed guarantees nothing. I suspect Utah chair Dave Doering was looking over his shoulder all the way.

Now that he’s won, Doering says, “Don’t know if we want to call it CONgratulation or CONsolation.”

The site selection vote tally: Utah 59; Tonopah, 4; Maui, 3; Both, Los Angeles, Portland, Unreadable, None of the above, 1; No preference, 4. Total ballots cast: 75.

The 2014 Westercon will be held July 3-6, 2014 at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek in Salt Lake City, Utah. Guests of Honor will be Cory Doctorow and the Writing Excuses team (Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells). Fan Guest of Honor to be announced.

Memberships begin at $50 attending and $25 supporting. Voters who pre-supported have full attending memberships. The conversion fee for voters who did not pre-support is $25, while the fee for pre-supporters who did not vote is $30.