Dragon Awards Reverse Decision: Littlewood Withdraws, But Scalzi Stays

Dragon Con, has informed Alison Littlewood and John Scalzi they now have the option to withdraw from the Dragon Awards, after initially informing them that they would not be allowed to. However, Scalzi surprisingly has decided to leave his book on the ballot.

Littlewood tweeted —

Littlewood’s book has now been removed from the 2017 Dragon Awards nominee list.

John Scalzi told his Twitter followers —

And the statement he gave to The Verge’s Andrew Lipkin says —

After I contacted the Dragon Award administrators regarding my intention to withdraw, the administrators got back to me and asked if I would consider staying on the ballot. They were hearing the community’s feedback and criticism and were acting on it. Their decision to honor Ms. Littlewood’s request to withdraw is a first example of what I see as their willingness to listen and learn, and is an action I applaud. To honor that action, and in sincere appreciation of the readers and fans who placed me on the Dragon Awards finalist list, I have agreed to remain on the ballot this year. I encourage everyone to vote for their own favorite works on the Dragon Awards finalist list.

And at the Dragon Awards website, they have posted their justification for both the original refusal and the subsequent change in policy, A New Day and a Fresh Perspective, which says in part —

Alison Littlewood, the author of The Hidden People, was nominated for a Dragon Award, which asks ordinary fans what they like to watch, read, and play. It’s a fan’s choice award, plain and simple. And it ought to be a good thing.

Though she clearly has a fan base of her own, Ms. Littlewood’s book was also included on a “slate” proposed by an individual/group she didn’t want to be associated with. She worried that she couldn’t trust the nomination was fairly won. And so, she asked if her book could be pulled from the ballot.

It put us in a jam. We have strong faith in the integrity of the Dragon Awards ballot because it was created by fans, the everyday people who actually read the books and nominate them. In seven categories for literature, there were 53 different novels that represented the broad spectrum of fandom and there was something for everybody. It made an excellent reading list for fans everywhere.

So we told her no.

And then, over the last couple of days, we got an earful from our fans and others. We’ve reconsidered and changed our mind. This is what’s happening next.

We will remove Ms. Littlewood’s book from the 2017 Dragon Awards ballot and re-issue ballots to those people who voted for her book. We believe that fans who voted for The Hidden People should have a second chance to vote for a favorite horror work. No new title will be added to the ballot.

We are extending all voting for this year’s Dragon Awards by two days, to midnight on Sept. 1st, so that everybody who wants a chance to vote will have a chance. Register for a ballot at awards.dragoncon.org.

After this year’s awards, which will be conferred on Sunday, Sept. 3, we’re going to take a hard look at the way we do things at the Dragon Awards. It will still be the “fan’s choice” award, with fans nominating the works and fans voting on the winners. But, we also need to do a better job of listening to the authors and creators of these works. One of the things we will look at is how best to give them a chance to opt off a ballot before its finalized.

John Scalzi has also written an explanatory post at Whatever, Update on the Dragon Awards and Me, part of which is in a Q&A format addressing hypothetical reader questions like these —

I still have issues with the Dragon Awards.

That’s fair. They’re new and still figuring this out, which is not an excuse but is an explanation. In my discussions with the folks running them, my sense is that they really do want to make the awards something that is viable and useful (and fun) for fans of the genre. They have a lot of work to do (this is, I suspect, in the nature of awards in general). Hopefully they’ll get there. As I noted, some of the steps they’re taking now indicate to me they want to get it right. Your mileage may vary. In the meantime, with this as with anything, you’re perfectly within your rights to have issues and criticism. Fire away.

So are you going to the awards ceremony now?

Nope, I’m still counter-scheduled in Washington DC that weekend.

[Thanks to Andrew Liptak, David Langford, and Cat Rambo for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 8/9/17 Soft Pixel, Warm Pixel, Little Ball Of Scroll

(1) VERIFIED FILER IN HELSINKI. Daniel Dern sent a photo of himself at Worldcon 75 wearing his Filer button: “From the batch I had made at Sasquan. Also note ‘pocket program’.”

Daniel Dern

Can it be, a pocket program that fits in a pocket?!!

Good thing – they need all the room they can get.

(2) JAMMED. Cheryl Morgan on “Worldcon 75 Day 1: Where Did All These People Come From?”

The Helsinki Worldcon is now well underway, and the big topic of conversation is the attendance. On the face of it, this is a good thing. We all want Worldcon to grow. The largest number of attending members in history is still LA Con II in 1984 with 8365. LonCon 3 in 2014 had more members in total, but only 6946 attending. The last I heard Helinki was up to 6001. Some of those may be day members, who have to be counted somewhat differently from full attending members, but even so it is an impressive number. Helsinki certainly looks like being in the top 5 Worldcons by size.

Unfortunately, based on previous Worldcons outside of the US/UK axis, expected numbers for Helsinki were more like 3500. Messukeskus could handle that easily. It is more than big enough in terms of exhibit space for what we have. But the function space, where programming happens, is stretched to the limit.

There are many things that a Worldcon can do to cope with the unexpected, but building new program rooms is not one of them. Seeing how memberships were going, Helsinki did negotiate some space in the library across the road. It did not try to turn empty exhibit halls into function space because we all know how badly that went in Glasgow in 1995.

(3) MORE SPACE COMING. Nevertheless, Worldcon 75 chair Jukka Halme says:

We will have more function spaces on Thursday available, and even more on Friday and Saturday. These things take time, as some of these rooms need to be built in halls, since we already have all the available rooms in Kokoustamo at our disposal. I believe this will help out the congestions somewhat.

Also, we are closing all membership sales on our website. http://www.worldcon.fi/news/closure-membership-sales/

All in all, I believe still we had a very good opening day for Worldcon 75 and the next four will be even better! See you in Messukeskus!

(4) UNPRECEDENTED. Kevin Standlee says:

I believe that’s true. And simply because I happen to know this story I will add that before L.A.con III (1996), Bruce Pelz and I briefly discussed what our membership cutoff should be – a topic because the previous L.A. Worldcon (1984) set the all-time attendance record. We considered 16,000. But since our attending membership sales didn’t even crack 7,000, it never became an issue.

(5) YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF THE GAME. Doris V. Sutherland finds three points of interest in Pat Henry’s answer to Alison Littlewood, refusing to take her off the Dragon Awards ballot — “The Dragon Awards: A Peek Behind the Scenes”. The third is:

3: The Dragon Awards were originally conceived as a way of building a reading list for SF/F fans during the nominations phase, with the awards themselves being of secondary importance.

Now, the first two of these takeaways won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the proceedings, but the third point is significant.

For one, it explains something that had rather puzzled me about the Dragons: the shortness (less than one month) of the period between the ballot being announced and the voting process ending, leaving very little time for a typical reader to get stuck into a single novel category before voting. If fans are expected to continue using the ballot as a reading list after the awards are presented then this is a lot easier to swallow.

(6) WHAT REAL WRITERS DO AND DON’T DO-DOO. Chuck Wendig offers a “PSA To Writers: Don’t Be A Shit-Flinging Gibbon”.

Here is a thing that sometimes happens to me and other authors who feature a not-insignificant footprint online or in the “industry,” as it were:

Some rando writer randos into my social media feed and tries to pick a fight. Or shits on fellow authors, or drums up some kind of fake-ass anti-me campaign or — you know, basically, the equivalent to reaching into the overfull diaper that sags around their hips and hurling a glob of whatever feces their body produces on any given day. The behavior of a shit-flinging gibbon.

Now, a shit-flinging gibbon hopes to accomplish attention for itself. It throws shit because it knows no other way to get that attention. The gibbon’s most valuable asset, ahem, is its foul colonic matter, so that’s the resource it has at hand.

Thing is, you’re not a shit-flinging gibbon.

You’re a writer.

Your most valuable asset is, ideally, your writing.

If it’s not, that’s a problem. A problem with you, to be clear, and not a problem with the rest of the world. It rests squarely upon your shoulders.

If your best way to get attention for yourself is to throw shit instead of write a damn good book, you are a troll, not a professional writer.

(7) A SPRINT, NOT A MARATHON. Here’s the place to “Watch five years of the Curiosity rover’s travels in a five-minute time-lapse”.

Five years of images from the front left hazard avoidance camera (Hazcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover were used to create this time-lapse movie. The inset map shows the rover’s location in Mars’ Gale Crater. Each image is labeled with the date it was taken, and its corresponding sol (Martian day), along with information about the rover’s location at the time.

 

(8) COLD EQUATION. Although sf is not really a predictive genre, that doesn’t stop people from enjoying the recognition when the things they’ve warned about in fiction happen in reality: the Antarctica Journal has the story — “Craig Russell, Canadian Novelist Predicts Arctic Event”.

In 2016, a Canadian novelist, Craig Russell — who is also a lawyer and a theater director in Manitoba — wrote an environmental cli-fi thriller titled “Fragment” about a major calving event along the ice shelf of Antarctica. The Yale Climate Connections website recently recommended the novel, published by Thistledown Press as a good summer read.

Ironically, scientists in Antarctica are in fact right now monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf with a huge crack in it and threatening to fall into the sea any day now. How is that for reality mirroring art?

How did Craig Russell respond when asked how he felt about his accurately future-predicting novel being in the news now?

“Some 40 years ago, as a student, I lived and worked at a Canadian Arctic weather station, 500 miles from the North Pole,” he added. “So I’ve remained interested in polar events, and was both fascinated and appalled by the Larsen A and B ice shelf collapses in 1995 and 2002.”

To see world events catch up so quickly with a fictional reality I spent years creating has been quite unnerving,” he added.

(9) STAR WARS INTERPRETATION. Syfy Wire will show you the lot: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser posters get the LEGO treatment “.

The long wait for the next Star Wars film can be painful to endure. We hang on any morsel we can get, any tie-in we can overreact to, and anything else that can get us geeking out. Then there is LEGO, who can help ease the painful wait by just getting us in a good mood. Take the new teaser posters for The Last Jedi, which were released in mid-July at the D23 Expo.

LEGO has now taken those same posters and LEGO-fied them, giving us six posters with LEGO mini-figure art that corresponds to those D23 posters. Again, repeating the crimson robe attire, echoing the red we saw on the first poster and also the ruby red mineral base of planet Crait. There’s no telling yet whether these posters are just part of Lego’s social media campaign or if these posters will be part of their gift with purchase program for VIP Lego Club members.

(10) TODAY’S DAY

Book Lovers Day

From the scent of a rare first edition book found in an old time book collection, to a crisp, fresh book at the local supermarket, the very sight of a book can bring back memories. Reading as a child, enjoying the short stories, the long books and the ability to lose yourself in a story so powerful that at the end your asking yourself where to get the next book in the series. This is for the reader in all of us, the celebration of Book Lovers Day!

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 9, 1930 — Betty Boop premiered in the animated film Dizzy Dishes

(12) TODAY IN ALTERNATE HISTORY

(12b) YESTERDAY’S BIRTHDAY FILER

  • Born August 8, 2017 — Sophia Rey Tiberius Pound

(13) COMIC SECTION. Chip Hitchcock saw yesterday’s Bliss and thought: “Flame on!”.

(14) RELICS OF WAR. Something to watch out for when beachcombing in Helsinki: “German woman mistakes WW2 white phosphorus for amber”.

A German woman narrowly escaped injury after picking up an object she believed to be amber but which then spontaneously combusted.

She had plucked the small object from wet sand by the Elbe river near Hamburg and put it in a pocket of her jacket, which she laid on a bench.

Bystanders soon alerted the 41-year-old to the fact her jacket was ablaze.

The stone was actually white phosphorus, which had reacted with the air as it dried.

Police say the two are easily confused.

Chip Hitchcock adds, “Yes, most amber comes from the south coast of the Baltic, and leftover munitions may be more common in Germany than in Finland.”

(15) RIGHTING THE RECORD. Max Gladstone decides it’s up to him to salvage the reputation of a famous academic: “Defending Indiana Jones, Archaeologist” – at Tor.com.

First, I want to acknowledge the common protests. Jonesian archaeology looks a lot different from the modern discipline. If Jones wanted to use surviving traces of physical culture to assemble a picture of, say, precolonial Peruvian society, he’s definitely going about it the wrong way. Jones is a professional fossil even for the mid-30s—a relic of an older generation of Carters and Schliemans. Which, if you think about it, makes sense. By Raiders, he already has tenure, probably gained based on his field work in India (Subterranean Thuggee Lava Temples: An Analysis and Critical Perspective, William & Mary Press, 1935), and the board which granted him tenure were conservatives of his father’s generation, people who actually knew Carter and Schliemann—not to mention Jones, Sr. (I’ll set aside for the moment a discussion of cronyism and nepotism, phenomena utterly foreign to contemporary tenure review boards…)

Jones is the last great monster of the treasure-hunting age of archaeology. To judge him by modern standards is to indulge the same comforting temporal parochialism that leads us to dismiss post-Roman Europe as a “Dark Age.” Jones may be a lousy archaeologist as we understand the field today. But is he a lousy archaeologist in context?

(16) PROGENY. I can’t even begin to imagine, but apparently somebody at DC Comics can — “Superman & Wonder Woman’s Future Son Revealed”. ScreenRant has the story.

If you’ve ever wondered what the children of Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, or Aquaman would look like, the time for wondering is over. Thanks to DC Comics, every fan gets to see the parentage and superpowers of the sons and daughters of the Justice League. The good news is that they’re every bit the heroes that their parents were, making up the Justice League of the future… the bad news is that they’ve traveled back in time to seek their parents’ help. Because as heroic as their superhero parents taught them to be, the future may be too lost for them to ever save.

(17) GUFFAW OF THRONES. If you don’t mind MAJOR SPOILERS, then this Bored Panda post is for you — “10+ Of The Most Hilarious Reactions To This Week’s Game Of Thrones”. Funny stuff.

If you haven’t watched this week’s Game Of Thrones, come back to this after you do because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS. You have been warned. All the rest of you probably agree that The Spoils of War was one of the most emotional episodes of the show to date. Judging from all the reactions online, at least the internet certainly thinks so.

Bored Panda has compiled a list of some of the funniest reactions to Game Of Thrones Episode 4 of Season 7, and they brilliantly capture the essence of the plot….

(18) FASHION STATEMENT. Architectural Digest wryly calls this “Innovative Design” — “Game of Thrones Uses IKEA Rugs As Capes”.

As any of the HBO series’s devoted fans can tell you, Game of Thrones is not a cheap production. In fact, with the budget for its most recent season coming in at more than $10 million per episode, it’s among the most expensive television shows in history. (If you have dragons in a scene, they need to destroy things . . . and that’s not cheap). But it’s not only the dragons and set designs that are costly; it’s also the costumes. There are upward of 100 people who work to ensure that each character is wearing an outfit that’s as realistic as possible. What might surprise some fans, however, is that IKEA rugs are often used as clothing.

“These capes are actually IKEA rugs,” Michele Clapton, an Emmy Award–winning designer, told an audience at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles last year. “We take anything we can,” Clapton added with a chuckle as she described the process that goes into designing medieval garb. “We cut and we shaved [the rugs] and then we added strong leather straps. . . . I want the audience to almost smell the costume.” The result is an IKEA-inspired cape that not only appears worn-in but also has the aesthetic of real medieval clothing. It remains unclear as to which IKEA rugs were used to dress the GoT characters. The next time you visit IKEA, see if you can envision Jon Snow marching into battle with a Höjerup or Alhede wrapped around his shoulders.

(19) POORFEADING. Another graduate of the Pixel Scroll Editing Academy & Grill:

(20) DINO TIME. This dinosaur had more bumps on its head than a Star Trek: Voyager humanoid: “It’s Official: Stunning Fossil Is a New Dinosaur Species”.

About 110 million years ago in what’s now Alberta, Canada, a dinosaur resembling a 2,800-pound pineapple ended up dead in a river.

Today, that dinosaur is one of the best fossils of its kind ever found—and now, it has a name: Borealopelta markmitchelli, a plant-eating, armored dinosaur called a nodosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period. After death, its carcass ended up back-first on the muddy floor of an ancient seaway, where its front half was preserved in 3-D with extraordinary detail.

Unearthed by accident in 2011 and unveiled at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum in May, the fossil immediately offered the world an unprecedented glimpse into the anatomy and life of armored dinosaurs.

(21) THUMBS DOWN. Carl Slaughter says If you have read the Dark Tower series, you will probably share this reviewer’s shrill disapproval of the screen adaptation.

(22) MARJORIE PRIME. This doesn’t sound too jolly.

2017 Science-Fiction Drama starring Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis, and Lois Smith

About the Marjorie Prime Movie

Eighty-six-year-old Marjorie spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband. With the intent to recount their life together, Marjorie’s Prime relies on the information from her and her kin to develop a more complex understanding of his history. As their interactions deepen, the family begins to develop diverging recounts of their lives, drawn into the chance to reconstruct the often painful past. Marjorie Prime is an American science-fiction film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play of the same name.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Craig Russell, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Dragon Con Refuses To Let Authors Withdraw from Dragon Awards

Alison Littlewood has been told by the President of Dragon Con, Pat Henry, that she will not be allowed to withdraw as a nominee of the Dragon Awards. She posted the convention’s answer on her blog in “Another statement regarding the Dragon Awards”.

As stated in my previous post, I have contacted the Dragon Awards administrators to request that my nomination for The Hidden People be withdrawn. The book has been selected as part of a voting slate by a member of the ‘Rabid Puppies’ voting bloc, which I feel may have undue influence over the awards outcome. I have no connection with the Rabid Puppies and have no wish to benefit from any kind of interference in the voting process.

I have today received the following response:

Good morning Ms. Littlewood,

 While I appreciate your sense of fair play, I must decline your request to remove The Hidden People from the Dragon Award Nominations. 

We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors.  While we didn’t start the Dragon Awards to foil these two groups, we believe that as we add voters, they will become irrelevant in the our awards.

We believe the “people’s choice” approach is a better way to recognize authors and their works.  The Dragon Awards ballot – which consists of works nominated by fans – is a broad representation of the best science fiction and fantasy literature available today.  With 53 novels listed, there is actually something for everybody on this ballot.     

The original purpose of the Dragon Awards was not so much as awards but as a quality reading list.  The cost of reading current material has been rising steadily for years.  Library budgets are not adequate to have all, or even a decent collection of  the type of materials that Dragon Con fans enjoy.

Thank you for your interest in the Dragon Con Awards.  Please do not let Mr. [redacted] ruin for you, the positive reception of your work. 

Pat Henry – President

. . . So there you have it. I tried. I have never heard of any awards keeping writers on the nominees list against their wishes, particularly when those wishes are surely the same as the organisers’ – to ensure that the process goes forward fairly and without interference. However, it seems in this case there is little more I can do.

Jim C. Hines, in his post about the Dragon Awards controversy observed:

Note the false equivalence of rabid puppies, a self-proclaimed group created by Vox Day, with “justice warriors,” generally used as an insult against people speaking up for greater representation and inclusion. The rabid puppy slate was posted on Vox Day’s blog back in June. I’m curious where the equivalent “justice warrior” slate supposedly appeared…

Meantime, Brian Niemeier tweeted a response to Henry’s announcement: “Scalzi is now trapped in here with me”. Scalzi had also announced his withdrawal from the awards.

And another nominee, Castalia House author Benjamin Cheah Kai Wai, has inserted a proscription list in his new post  “Between SocJus and PulpRev at the Dragon Awards”

In addition, I must point out the nominees known to be affiliated with or are social justice warriors….

New Dragon Awards Press Release Still Includes Two Withdrawn Nominees

Four days after the 2017 Dragon Awards ballot was posted Dragon Con has issued a supporting press release, “Dragon Con’s Dragon Awards Publishes Its 2017 Ballot”.

The press release’s nominee list still includes Alison Littlewood and John Scalzi, although both had notified award administrators that they have withdrawn.

In addition to links fans can use to register and vote, the release contains a statement from the con’s top leadership:

“We believe strongly in the principle of one fan, one vote,” said Pat Henry, president of Dragon Con, Inc. “We believe that the vast body of fandom is in the best position to identify and recognize the most beloved works in science fiction and fantasy today.”

Henry went on to encourage every fan to go vote for their favorite works.

“We all know that a determined minority can carry the day when not enough people vote,” Henry said. “For that reason alone, we think it’s critical that fans everywhere vote for the books, games, comics and shows they love.”

The winners will be announced on September 3 at Dragon Con.

Pixel Scroll 8/7/17 There Are Eight Million Pixels In The Naked Scroll

(1) ROBOCALL BOMB THREAT LEADS TO CON EVACUATION. On Sunday fans were ordered to evacuate Yestercon, a one-day nostalgia con in Carson, California, as a result of a bomb threat. PopCultHQ has extensive coverage.

…“CelebWorx brought Keith Coogan and Greg Berg to Yestercon. At approximately 3:08, onsite staffers from the Carson civic center went through the celebrity aisle to calmly alert us to leave the facility immediately. We had no time to grab anything. When we reached the parking lot, the Carson police department asked us to get in our cars and drive away as far as possible. The show until then was going wonderfully with a healthy crowd. It was the most attended Yestercon in the past three years. We returned two hours later to retrieve our abandoned items.” – Nery Lemus – Vice President – CelebWorx

Nery then went on to provide me the following;

“After speaking to a Yestercon official, the Bomb Threat was a result of a robotic phone call singling out the name Yestercon as the target of the threat.”

(2) CAN THIS GAME BE PLAYED FOR MONEY? Yes, if you make it to the world-champion video-gaming tournament: “The biggest e-sports event in the world”.

The International isn’t just any e-sports tournament.

It’s the biggest event of its kind in the world with a prize pool of nearly $24m (£18.4m) and is hosted by Valve.

Sixteen teams, with players from all over the world, are competing in the season climax for online battle arena game Dota 2.

For many of them the prestige of lifting the trophy at this ultra-competitive event is far more important than the cash.

Alex “machine” Richardson is Dota 2’s answer to Gary Lineker and has been hosting the live stream of the group stages, which are taking place in Seattle.

(3) HOW DOCTOR WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS. ScienceFiction.com says it could have been lost for good — “Steven Moffat Explains How Last Year’s Christmas Special Was Almost The Last”.

In a recent interview, current showrunner Steven Moffat – who will cede the position to newcomer Chris Chibnall after Moffat’s last episode, the upcoming Christmas Special – outlined how the special episode almost didn’t happen this year, and may have been eliminated forever.

As Moffat explains about his discussions with the BBC regarding his departure:

“There was one big glitch, which was Christmas. I was going to leave at the end of series 10 – I had my finale planned and what I wanted to do with it. I had a good notion of that. Then I learned at a drinks event somewhere that Chris didn’t want to start with a Christmas [episode], so at that point they were going to skip Christmas. There’d be no Christmas special and we would’ve lost that slot.

(4) THE NEXT DOCTOR. The BBC tells “How Jodie Whittaker ‘missed’ fan reactions to Doctor Who role” — contains long audio on her reactions (lots of gosh-wow) and on advice she received from former Time Lords (starting at 6:50 on 2nd clip).

Jodie Whittaker says she didn’t see people’s reactions to her becoming the first female Doctor Who, because she’s not on social media.

Speaking to BBC 6 Music in her first broadcast interview since her casting was revealed, she said: “This will be a blessing and a curse.

“I’ve missed a lot of the fun stuff and probably the bad stuff.”

(5) W75 YES, COMICONS, NO. Helsinki-bound book dealer Francesca T. Barbini of Luna Press Publishing answers the question, “Why Do Authors Need To Go To Cons?”, and advises which ones to pick.

On Monday we leave for Finnish shores. Worldcon 75 here we come!

I’m laughing/crying at the logistic nightmare ahead of us: 5 cricket bags full of books! Between the early rise to catch the plane and the dragging of luggage, by the time we reach Helsinki, we’ll feel like Sisyphus in the Underworld. However, the plan is to return home much lighter 🙂 so please, make our authors (and our back) happy and adopt a book!

Conventions are a big part of an author’s life. I cannot imagine being where I am today without my con experience. Specifically, I am referring to book conventions/events, rather than traditional book fairs like London or Frankfurt, and definitely not ComicCons, which are a different matter altogether. The ones I go to are primarily about SF, Fantasy and Horror.

That said, I also realise that I am lucky to be able to attend, as they are also one of the biggest expenses in an author’s yearly schedule, which not everyone can afford, for several reasons. And what if you can’t go? What will people think?

With Worldcon upon us, I want to share my con experience with others and why I think that authors should go to conventions if they can. We’ll look at Pros and Cons as well as tips for when money is an issue…..

(6) THE SENSE OF WONDER IS NOW MAINSTREAM. Never mind the authors aching for Dragon Awards, it used to be that sci-fi shows watched by millions couldn’t get a sniff of the Emmys. Vanity Fair remembers: “From Game of Thrones to Stranger Things: How Geek TV Crashed the Emmys”

In 2005, Emmy voters opened their mail to find a mysterious black envelope stuffed with DVDs. “‘The No. 1 Television Show of 2005’—Time Magazine,” the cover read, without disclosing the title of the program on the discs. The show was Battlestar Galactica, a serious-minded reboot of the campy 1970s series, and the idea was to trick snobby TV Academy members into watching a science-fiction drama without rolling their eyes.

“We were battling the name,” Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ronald D. Moore told me recently, of his effort to get colleagues who were making dramas such as The West Wing and 24 to take seriously a show set in a distant star system. “It was considered kiddie stuff: ‘That’s not real TV. It’s people running around in silly outfits. There was real TV and then what we were doing. You couldn’t get a meeting on NYPD Blue,’” Moore said. The black-envelope strategy didn’t work—despite receiving widespread critical acclaim for its writing, acting, and directing, Battlestar Galactica collected nominations only in the visual-effects categories that year.

What a difference a decade or so makes. Fantasy and science-fiction TV are now decidedly prestige TV, as shows such as Moore’s latest—the time-traveling Starz series, Outlander—exist in a crowded world of awards-hungry monsters, zombies, and robots. There’s HBO’s Westworld, which tied Saturday Night Live as the show with the most Emmy nominations this year (22), Netflix’s Stranger Things (18) and Black Mirror (3), Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale (13), USA’s Mr. Robot (3), and Starz’s American Gods (2), to name a few. Many of the shows sit on the shoulders of HBO’s barrier-breaking Game of Thrones, which became the most awarded scripted series in Emmy history last year, with 38 wins. That a cable program featuring chain mail and dragons could shatter a record once held by NBC’s Frasier reveals how much the TV industry has changed. (Due to the timing of its season, Game of Thrones is not eligible for Emmys this year, to the relief of every one of its competitors. Outlander, which has been nominated for three Emmys and four Golden Globes in the past, is out of contention this year for the same reason.)

(7) BEFORE HE WAS SPOCK. While Bill was searching for more clippings about celebrities who love Mexican food (triggered, presumably, by the item about Boris Karloff the other day) he came across this Leonard Nimoy item in The Boston Globe for March 31, 1968 – which has nothing to do with food, but you may like it anyway….

[Leonard Nimoy] was asked to tell the story again about the time he was driving a cab and he picked up John F. Kennedy. “That was in 1956. I was just out of the service and I was driving a cab at night in Los Angeles and looking for acting jobs during the day. I got a call to go to the Bel Air Hotel to pick up a Mr. Kennedy. It was a highly political time — right before the conventions — and Stevenson and Kefauver were running strong. When I got to the Bel Air I asked the doorman if I was waiting for the senator from Massachusetts. He said he didn’t know. When Kennedy came down the doorman whispered to me, ‘Is this guy a senator?’

“As Kennedy got in the cab I said, ‘How are things in Massachusetts, senator? He perked up. He said, ‘Are you from Massachusetts?’ He asked me so many questions — he was very socially-oriented — he asked me why I was in California, where my folks were from, why they came to the U.S. and what they thought about my being an actor. I asked him about Stevenson’s chances and he said, ‘You talk to a lot of people. What do you think?’ I asked him what would happen if Stevenson won the nomination and lost the election. He said ‘He’d be finished politically.’ That was the one flat statement he made about politics. I dropped him at the Beverly Hilton. The fare was $1.25 and he didn’t have any cash in his pocket. He went into the hotel and I followed him, tagging along for my $1.25. He finally found somebody he knew and he borrowed three dollars and he turned around and handed it to me.”

(8) NAKAJIMA OBIT. Vale, kaiju. Rue Morgue reports the death of original Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima.

Very sad news: The man who first portrayed Japanese cinema’s greatest monster has passed on, leaving behind an enormous footprint.

Haruo Nakajima, who donned the rubber suit for the title character of 1954’s GOJIRA (released Stateside as GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS in 1956),

(9) LOS ANGELES UNDERSTOOD. A Bradbury quote begins this LA Times article about the 2028 Olympics: “A dream and a reality, the 2028 Olympics give Los Angeles a chance to imagine its future”.

When asked to explain the secret of Los Angeles on the eve of the 1984 Olympics, the late poet, novelist and fantasist Ray Bradbury broke it down, capturing the ingenuous advantage the city enjoyed as it was coming of age.

“L.A. is a conglomerate of small towns striving toward immensity and never making it, thank God,” he wrote. “We have no kings, queens, or courts, no real pecking order, no hierarchies to prevent those of us who care to lean into creativity from running loose in the big yard.”

(10) BRADBURY’S MARS. Local NPR station KPCC devoted part of today’s Take Two show to “‘The Martian Chronicles:’ An out-of-this-world projection of LA”. Audio clip at the link.

It doesn’t even take place on this planet, yet this Sci-fi classic by longtime resident Ray Bradbury has a lot to say about L.A. in the early 1950s.  David Kipen is a book editor and founder of the Libros Schmibros lending library. You can take Bradbury out of L.A. but you can’t take L.A. out of Bradbury, he says. …

Parallels between native peoples of Earth and Mars

The stories add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. They add up to this parable of what Ray experienced as an immigrant to Southern California where the only remnant left that he could readily see of the Tongva, of the Chumash, were some cave paintings up in Santa Ynez, and a lot of place names like Tujunga – like Topanga. The Native Americans were here but there weren’t where Ray Bradbury grew up on Alexandria or Kenmore in Hollywood. Ray was not going to see much evidence of that. So it’s this sense of a bygone civilization of which only remnants remain. Ray, as a guy coming to LA in the 1930s with his family, was only going to get these kind of ghostly hints of the people who once lived on this same land for thousands of years before. And he transmutes that into the way he presents the Martians as these people very much in sync and in sympathy with the land, and rather otherworldly, and at the same time, endangered.

(11) COMICS SECTION. John King Tarpinian’s radar also spotted the Bradbury reference in today’s Frazz.

(12) WORLDCON PROGRAMMING. Not in Helsinki today? Here’s something else you’ve missed:

(13) STILL PACKING. Some may be delayed because their SJW credential is trying to stow away.

(14) A SURPRISE. Lou Antonelli, in “First thoughts on the Dragon award”, included this insight about the award’s management:

I’ve been a finalist for both the Sidewise and Hugo awards, and in both cases, if you have made the ballot, you are contacted in advance, and asked if you accept the honor. Sometimes people prefer to take a bye.

Nominations for the Dragon closed July 24, and after a week had passed I assumed I had not made the grade. I was sure of it last Thursday night when I received an email that had a link to the final ballot.

I opened the ballot, to see who HAD made the grade, and was startled to see my name there. The Dragon award apparently is less bureaucratic than some others, I suppose, and they simply released the final ballot the way the nominations fell.

(15) DRAGON WITHDRAWAL. Alison Littlewood preceded John Scalzi in taking herself out of contention with “A statement regarding the Dragon Awards”.

It has just been announced that The Hidden People has been nominated for a Dragon Award.

While this would normally be a great pleasure, it has also been brought to my notice that my book has been selected by a voting bloc who are attempting, for reasons of their own, to influence the awards outcome. Essentially, the same group who set out to fix the Hugo Awards are now encouraging their supporters to follow their voting choices in the Dragon Awards.

I’m grateful to anyone who has voted for The Hidden People in good faith, but I am deeply concerned that the voting should be fair going forward and so I have today emailed the organisers and asked for The Hidden People to be withdrawn from consideration.

I would just like to add that I have had no contact with the voting bloc and indeed have never asked anyone to vote for me in the Dragon Awards. Thank you again to anyone who did so because they enjoyed the book!

(16) THE PROFESSIONALS. Chuck Wendig and Jim C. Hines are working hard to extract the lessons to be learned from this year’s Dragon Awards.

(17) KERFUFFLE LITERARY HISTORY. Doris V. Sutherland will cover some of this year’s Dragon Award nominees as part of a book project: “Dragon Awards 2017: Which Finalists to Write About?”

So yeah, I’ve been working on a book called Monster Hunters, Dinosaur Lovers, about the stories caught up in the whole Puppies-versus-Hugos kerfuffle. I’m planning to cover every single Hugo-nominated prose story published from 2013 to 2016 (the years of the Sad Puppies campaign). I’m also going to look at the nominees for other SF/F awards from the same period – but in those cases I’ll be a little more discriminating about what gets covered and what doesn’t.

With the ballot for the second Dragon Awards announced, my main concern is figuring out which finalists are worth looking at in my book. So here goes…

Blood of Invidia got a boost from the Puppysphere, and judging by its Amazon synopsis, it’s a jokey, self-aware urban fantasy. Alongside zombie apocalypse, that’s one of the few horror-adjacent genres that the Puppies have shown much support for. Into the horror chapter it goes, alongside Jim Butcher and Declan Finn.

I might give The Hidden People a mention as it was one of Vox Day’s picks, against the author’s wishes. Don’t see that The Bleak December is particularly relevant to my topic, though.

(18) HASSELHOFF. Gwynne Watkins of Yahoo! Movies, in “David Hasselhoff’s Road to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’? ‘It All Started with ‘Knight Rider!’”, interviews actor David Hasselhoff, who says that his part in Guardians came about because director James Gunn loved Knight Rider as a kid.  Hasselhoff says “I’ve got the kids market wrapped up” because of his role in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie.

Do you have people telling you that a lot that you were a father figure to them because of Knight Rider?

Almost every day, a man comes up to me and says, “I need to tell you my Knight Rider story.” Or a man will tell me that he loves me. Or a person from Thailand will say, “You are my mentor.” Or a person from Afghanistan who’s driving a cab says, “You’re my hero.” I say, “Where are you from?” And he goes, “Afghanistan.” I say, “Oh my God.” Iraq. Iran. It’s just insane. And it’s incredibly fantastic because they all have got a specific story, from India or Pakistan — watching it like Slumdog Millionaire, 200 people around a TV — to the shah of Iran’s wife saying,We used to sell tickets on the back lawns. People would gather and watch the show illegally by satellite for 25 cents in Iran!” And I’m going, “What? What? What?”

And now, 30 years later, it gets to be in one of the biggest movies of all time. And it’s just still following me around, and I embrace it. The theme of Knight Rider is, “One man can make a difference.” And I’m still alive and proving that, hopefully, almost every day.

(19) VAN HELSING TRAILER. Syfy brings back Van Helsing for a second season.

The world is over and so is the wait. Slay. All Day. Van Helsing returns this Fall with all-new episodes on SYFY. About Van Helsing:

Van Helsing is set in a world that has been taken over by vampires following a volcanic explosion that blocked out the sun. Vanessa Van Helsing is the last hope for survival, as she unknowingly awakens to discover she has a unique blood composition that makes her not only immune to vampires, but with the ability to turn a vampire human. With this secret weapon, Vanessa becomes a prime target for the vampires. Her objective: Save humanity – and find her daughter.

 

[Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Scalzi Withdraws from Dragon Awards

John Scalzi has withdrawn The Collapsing Empire as a Dragon Awards nominee. He explained why in a post at Whatever:

The reason is simple: Some other finalists are trying to use the book and me as a prop, to advance a manufactured “us vs. them” vote-pumping narrative based on ideology or whatever. And I just… can’t. I don’t have the interest and I’m on a deadline, and this bullshit is even more stale and stupid now than it was the several other times it was attempted recently, with regard to genre awards.

My plan was to ignore it, but on further reflection (and further evidence that this nonsense was going to continue through the finalist voting period), I decided this was the better course.

Scalzi had originally accepted the nomination.

Since the Dragon Awards ballot came out, nominee Brian Niemeier has been heating up Twitter with insulting tweets about Scalzi and appeals to treat award voting as a battlefield of the culture wars.

And Scalzi hasn’t been the only target of people trying to leverage their Dragon Awards nominations, Jon Del Arroz has been busy harassing Tor’s Irene Gallo, too.

(Obviously I have the capability to reproduce the tweets here, but I’ve decided against it.)

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh for the story.]

Expanded Dragon Stats: Total Reviews and Ratings on LibraryThing, Goodreads, and Amazon

By JJ: Introduction: [Quoted from JJ’s study of the award’s first winners] “The argument, from both the Puppies, and the Dragon Awards organizers (the Venn Diagram of which is unknown), is that the Dragon Awards, unlike the Hugos, truly represent ALL the fans, and not just some small minority of fans, and I’m looking at the Dragon Awards Finalists and how they rate on LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Amazon.”

  1. Best Science Fiction Novel
  • Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey – 246 LT / 13,057 GR / 507 A
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu – 325 LT / 10,308 GR / 379 A
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi – 302 LT / 8,943 GR / 437 A
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – 288 LT / 7,216 GR / 272 A
  • Rise by Brian Guthrie – 4 LT / 74 GR / 30 A
  • Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards – 3 LT / 32 GR / 6 A
  • Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli – 1 LT / 23 GR / 23 A
  • The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier – 1 LT / 13 GR / 18 A
  1. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
  • Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter – 75 LT / 2,858 GR / 325 A
  • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo – 36 LT / 1,606 GR / 451 A
  • Beast Master by Shayne Silvers – 1 LT / 553 GR / 369 A
  • Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi – 0 LT / 345 GR / 35 A
  • Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle – 1 LT / 64 GR / 43 A
  • The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta – 1 LT / 62 GR / 22 A
  • A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day – 0 LT / 37 GR / 56 A
  1. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas – 278 LT / 65,412 GR / 1,262 A
  • The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – 521 LT / 25,928 GR / 730 A
  • Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray – 116 LT / 2,443 GR / 95 A
  • It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett – 21 LT / 159 GR / 83 A
  • Firebrand by A.J. Hartley – 9 LT / 74 GR / 8 A
  • Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright – 0 LT / 62 GR / 72 A
  • Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter – 0 LT / 31 GR / 13 A
  1. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
  • Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David Vandyke – 4 LT / 491 GR / 191 A
  • Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey – 2 LT / 431 GR / 190 A
  • Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox – 0 LT / 252 GR / 108 A
  • The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico – 13 LT / 168 GR / 44 A
  • Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon – 13 LT / 124 GR / 26 A
  • Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz – 0 LT / 68 GR / 71 A
  • Allies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy – 1 LT / 30 GR / 29 A
  • Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes – 0 LT / 2 GR / 45 A
  1. Best Alternate History Novel
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville – 269 LT / 2,400 GR / 58 A
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato – 57 LT / 390 GR / 31 A
  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint – 32 LT / 361 GR / 115 A
  • Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove – 24 LT / 322 GR / 85 A
  • Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler – 9 LT / 112 GR / 70 A
  • No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah – 0 LT / 33 GR / 31 A
  • A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry – 0 LT / 10 GR / 3 A
  • Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli – 1 LT / 8 GR / 12 A
  1. Best Apocalyptic Novel
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin – 401 LT / 12,215 GR / 248 A
  • American War by Omar El Akkad – 282 LT / 6,123 GR / 172 A
  • Walkaway by Cory Doctorow – 154 LT / 1,307 GR / 84 A
  • A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys – 2 LT / 86 GR / 116 A
  • The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz – 5 LT / 54 GR / 56 A
  • ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes – 0 LT / 52 GR / 31 A
  • Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz – 0 LT / 6 GR / 4 A
  1. Best Horror Novel
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle – 60 LT / 686 GR / 52 A
  • Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells – 13 LT / 346 GR / 21 A
  • The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood – 23 LT / 210 GR / 8 A
  • A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau – 8 LT / 82 GR / 45 A
  • The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers – 4 LT / 23 GR / 43 A
  • Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga – 0 LT / 21 GR / 20 A
  • Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn – 0 LT / 9 GR / 14 A
  • Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten – 0 LT / 4 GR / 8 A

2017 Best Novel Hugo Finalists

  • All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders – 843 LT / 17,718 GR / 317 A
  • The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin – 401 LT / 12,215 GR / 248 A
  • Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu – 325 LT / 10,308 GR / 379 A
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers – 288 LT / 7,216 GR / 272 A
  • Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee – 297 LT / 4,222 GR / 199 A
  • Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer – 347 LT / 2,856 GR / 117 AT / 2,856 GR / 117 A

Has Goodreads Heard of the Dragon Award Nominees?

Nickpheas had an interesting idea – he charted how many Goodreads users have rated each of the novels nominated for the 2017 Dragon Awards.

He posted these as comments and I asked his permission to turn his research into a front page post. The number of ratings is to the right of the title.

At the end, I have added the 2017 Best Novel Hugo nominees and their Goodreads ratings totals.

  1. Best Science Fiction Novel
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers 7,171
  • Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards 32
  • Rise by Brian Guthrie 74
  • Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli 23
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi 8,899
  • Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey 13,040
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu 10,270
  • The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier 11
  1. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
  • A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day 37
  • Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter 2,847
  • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo 1,602
  • The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta 59
  • Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi 326
  • Beast Master by Shayne Silvers 529
  • Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle 62
  1. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
  • Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter 31
  • Firebrand by A.J. Hartley 73
  • It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett 158
  • Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright 63
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas 65,190
  • Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray 2,434
  • The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan 25,888
  1. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
  • The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico 167
  • Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David Vandyke 484
  • Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon 123
  • Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes 2
  • Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey 415
  • Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz 67
  • Aliies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy 30
  • Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox 250
  1. Best Alternate History Novel
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato 386
  • Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler 109
  • Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli 7
  • No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah 33
  • A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry 10
  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint 360
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville 2,395
  • Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove 321
  1. Best Apocalyptic Novel
  • The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz 53
  • A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys 84
  • ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes 49
  • Walkaway by Cory Doctorow 1,298
  • American War by Omar El Akkad 6,067
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin 12,120
  • Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz 6
  1. Best Horror Novel
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle 677
  • Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells 339
  • Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn 9
  • The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood 210
  • A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau 75
  • The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers 22
  • Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga 21
  • Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten 4

2017 Best Novel Hugo Finalists

  • All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders – 17,709
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers – 7,212
  • Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu – 10,300
  • Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee – 4,217
  • The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin – 12,199
  • Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer – 2,854

 

Pixel Scroll 8/4/17 Is This A File Which I See Before Me, The Pixel Toward My Hand?

(1) THE YOUTH ARE BACK. James Davis Nicoll kicks off Phase II of Young People Review Old SFF with a 1909 tale.

In the hope of selecting more accessible works, I crowd-sourced my selections and now provide my readers with more (well, any) background information on the pieces.

The first Phase II story comes from an author not generally thought of as an SFF author. E. M. Forster is perhaps best known for mainstream works like Howard’s End, A Passage to India and A Room with a View. Forster did write fantastic fiction, however. 1909’s “The Machine Stops” is the one Sfnal work of his many who rarely venture outside SF have read, thanks to all the genre anthologies that featured it. Set in a wired world not too dissimilar to our own, it hides its age well. Or so it seems to me.

(2) MUSICAL INTERLUDE. The band Clppng, whose album Splendor & Misery is a Best Dramatic: Short Form Hugo nominee, will perform in Helsinki at Worldcon 75.

(3) INSIDE LOOK. Dominic Parisien tells Black Gate readers “The Strategy Behind Disabled Stories: The What, Why, and How (but Mostly How) of Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction”.

When I started writing this article my face was spotted with burst blood cells. Earlier in the day I’d had one of my violent convulsive episodes. I was exhausted and aching but I meant to write, because it felt appropriate, topical. I’m here, after all, to write about Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue.

But I couldn’t muster the energy for more than a few lines. I lacked the spoons.

The project description goes like this: Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction is a continuation of the Destroy series in which we, disabled members of the science fiction community, will put ourselves where we belong: at the center of the story. Often, disabled people are an afterthought, a punchline, or simply forgotten in the face of new horizons, scientific discovery, or magical invention. We intend to destroy ableism and bring forth voices, narratives, and truths most important to disabled writers, editors, and creators with this special issue.

My colleagues will have guest posts and blog posts going up across a number of venues, and many of them will focus on the importance of representation, of disabled people placing ourselves at the centre of the narrative, of telling our own stories. For my part, I want to discuss the creative process for our project.

(4) ONGOING ACCESS PROBLEMS. Nicola Griffith has issued “An open letter to all writing programmes, workshops, and retreats”.

Everything you do—classes, retreats, workshops—should be accessible. Many of you are not.

I’ve heard all your excuses: But we love the quaint/rustic/boho vibe, and that will be ruined if we have to change! But we can’t have our woods/private chef/coziness if we move to an accessible space! But it’s important we give the students an inexpensive experience, and access costs money!

I have no sympathy for your excuses. To disabled writers like me it does not matter how beautiful/cosy/inexpensive your traditional/sorority/in-the-woods space is because we can’t access it. If we can’t visit, to teach or write, then it’s not beautiful or welcoming or inexpensive, it is a fenced enclosure with a huge red sign on the gate saying CRIPPLES KEEP OUT.

(5) BOMBS AWAY. Ann Hornaday’s story in the Washington Post, “Are movie reviews just more ‘fake news’? Some studios want you to think so.”, covers about Sony’s effort to suppress reviews for The Emoji Movie, which only got a score of 8 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and is sinking at the box office.  She notes that efforts by studios to produce “critic-proof” films have led to John Carter, The Mummy, Battleship, and other “high-profile bombs.”

“What other wide release with a [Tomatometer] score under 8 percent has opened north of $20 million? I don’t think there is one,” said Josh Greenstein, president of worldwide marketing and distribution at Sony, when McClintock interviewed him. He sounded as proud as a farmer who had just sold a poke full of pigs to an unsuspecting butcher.

Greenstein may not have taken into full account the hair-tearing desperation of parents eager to distract kids whose last PG-rated animated movie was “Despicable Me 3” in late June. And he might find that his enthusiasm has dropped just as vertiginously as “The Emoji Movie’s” box office numbers, which by Monday had already plunged by more than 50 percent, indicating cataclysmic word of mouth. No matter: Sony’s following a similar playbook this week with another late-screener, “The Dark Tower,” hoping to beat discouraging reviews to the punch with the brand names of Stephen King, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. (As of this writing, with 20 critics reporting, the sci-fi fantasy had earned a 20 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a prominent green splat.)

(6) DOES ALL MEAN ‘ALL’? Variety’s Gene Maddaus, in “Judge Allows Lawsuit Claiming James Bond Box Set Was Incomplete”, says a judge in the state of Washington has ruled that Mary L. Johnson’s lawsuit against MGM can proceed to a jury trial.  Johnson said MGM violated the state of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act because she ordered a “Complete James Bond” boxed set from Amazon for $106 and didn’t get the 1967 Casino Royale or Never Say Never Again.

In his opinion, Martinez declined to dismiss the claim at this stage, and said a jury would have to decide whether the term was misleading.

“A jury must determine whether a reasonable person would expect ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’ to be included in a complete set of James Bond films,” Martinez wrote. “From the Defendants’ perspective, this claim will have to ‘Die Another Day.’”

(7) THE BIG BUCKS. Forbes has updated their annual guesstimates about what the top authors earned for the 12 months ending May 31, 2017. With new books, a play and more movies, J.K. Rowling returns to the top of their list –

  1. JK Rowling $95 million
  2. James Patterson $87 million
  3. Jeff Kinney $21 million
  4. Dan Brown $20 million
  5. Stephen King $15 million
  6. John Grisham $14 million
  7. Nora Roberts $14 million
  8. Paula Hawkins $13 million
  9. EL James $11.5 million
  10. Danielle Steel $11 million
  11. Rick Riordan $11million

(8) GOODREADS. It’s the heart of the awards season, so no wonder the Goodreads Blog has decided to celebrate this as “Science Fiction & Fantasy Week”.

  • Readers’ Top 50 Sci-Fi Novels From Ender to the hapless Arthur Dent, to returning to beloved worlds created by Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, and many more.

The bar needed to be high. Every book on our list has at least a 4.0 average rating from Goodreads members. Unfortunately, this means that dinosaur king himself Michael Crichton failed to make the cut, along with other big names in the genre like Kim Stanley Robinson, William Gibson, and H.G. Wells. But while some classics may be missing, recent favorites from Emily St. John Mandel, Nnedi Okorafor, and Pierce Brown round out the list.

  • Readers’ Top 50 Fantasy Novels Go there and back again with novels full of legends, heroes, myths, and magic. From J. R. R. Tolkien to George R.R. Martin, these epic fantasies await readers.

These titles were chosen based on reader reviews, so every single book had to meet at least a 4.0 average rating from the Goodreads community. Then, for good measure, we looked at how many ratings each book has received. We also decided to select the first book in a series (although it’s worth noting that the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings as well as George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire have the rare distinction of being above a 4.0 rating).

Our hunt for the best YA sci-fi books on Goodreads reflects this partiality to the post-apocalypse. We set the bar high, only including books with at least a 4.0 average rating. The result? A sometimes grim, always thrilling peek into the future—where young women and men have the power to change their fates.

As we searched for the best YA fantasy on Goodreads, we stuck to books with at least a 4.0 average rating. This meant that popular titles with big film adaptations like Twilight, Eragon, and The Golden Compass missed the cut. While The Boy Who Lived made it in, surprising no one, the list is dominated by powerful girls with no time for evil royals or rampaging monsters.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 4, 1932 — Victor Halperin’s White Zombie is released theatrically.

(10) THE COMIC SECTION. Chip Hitchcock calls it “today’s cultural acknowledgment” – Pooch Cafe.

(11) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites you to “Share shawarma with Brooke Bolander in Episode 44 of Eating the Fantastic”.

Brooke Bolander

Brooke Bolander was on Nebula ballot that weekend in the short story category for “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” and is also on the current Hugo Awards ballot for that same story, one of the most talked-about tales of 2016. Her fiction, which has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Uncanny, and other venues, has been honored by nominations for the Locus and the Theodore Sturgeon awards as well. The Only Harmless Great Thing will be published by Tor in 2018.

We discussed how she ended up as a writer rather than a paleontologist, why the videogame Ecco the Dolphin terrified her but taught her to love science fiction, her early days writing fan fiction, how anger over the electrocution of Topsy the elephant and the deaths of the “radium girls” inspired her newest novella, why she avoids rereading her own writing, what broke the writers block that had gripped her for several years, and more.

(12) V’GER. “As the Voyager mission is winding down, so, too, are the careers of the aging explorers who expanded our sense of home in the galaxy.” The New York Times has the story: “The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe”. (May be behind a payroll, though I didn’t have any trouble gaining access, by feeding the URL through a Google search.)

A fleet of JPL trucks made the trip under armored guard to the same destination. Their cargo was unwrapped inside the hangar high bay, a gleaming silo stocked with tool racks and ladder trucks. Engineers began to assemble the various pieces. Gradually, two identical spacecraft took shape. They were dubbed Voyager I and II, and their mission was to make the first color photographs and close-up measurements of Jupiter, Saturn and their moons. Then, if all went well, they might press onward — into uncharted territory.

It took six months, working in shifts around the clock, for the NASA crew to reassemble and test the spacecraft. As the first launch date, Aug. 20, drew near, they folded the camera and instrument boom down against the spacecraft’s spindly body like a bird’s wing; gingerly they pushed it, satellite dish first, up inside a metal capsule hanging from the high bay ceiling. Once ‘‘mated,’’ the capsule and its cargo — a probe no bigger than a Volkswagen Beetle that, along with its twin, had nevertheless taken 1,500 engineers five years and more than $200 million to build — were towed to the launchpad.

(13) KING/KELLEY. Reason.com’s Glenn Garvin, in “Mr. Mercedes and Comrade Detective Breathe Life into Cop Genre Shows”, reviews Mr. Mercedes, an adaptation of a Stephen King novel available on DirecTV.  He says seeing Kelley “work with the characters devised by King is a religious experience, even if the church is Out Lady of Psychos and Degenerates.”

Even the bit players in Mr. Mercedes cannot be left unwatched for a moment; you never know when something querulous quirky or malificently malign is about to erupt.

But Kelley and his director Jack Bender (who worked on Lost as well as another King television adaptation, Under the Dome) are equally adept at the action sequences. The staging of the parking lot mayhem is a marvel of underlit suggestion and squishy sound effects that leverages a Grand Guignol impression from gore that’s actually rather petit. That’s the only thing small about Mr. Mercedes; this is big-time entertainment.

(14) ADAPTIVE LIFEFORM. PJ Media picked “The 5 Best Stephen King Book Adaptations”. Dann Todd notes, “As always, these things are pretty subjective.  This author leaves out The Green Mile.  Relative to the rest of the list I think it could supplant It as a film adaptation.”

(15) ARMENIA’S BESTSELLERS. What are the best-selling books in Yerevan, Armenia? Once a week Armenpress publishes the top 10. Would you believe that Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is #7, and Dandelion Wine is #10?

(16) THE LAMPREY STRATEGY. Brian Niemeier celebrates his Dragon Award nomination the way every true culture warrior does – by spending half his wordage insulting John Scalzi — “2017 Dragon Award FInalist The Secret Kings”. Because when your award-nominated novel has been out for eight months and has accumulated only 12 Goodreads ratings, trying to pick a fight with somebody people have heard of makes a certain nutty kind of sense.

(17) THE RIGHT WAY TO HACK. In “Why can’t films and TV accurately portray hackers?”, Mr. Robot’s Kor Adana explains how the show does it, and why others get it wrong.

Why does Hollywood get hacking so wrong?

There’s an easy explanation for this trend. Most writers, directors, and producers believe that it’s impossible to portray real hacking on screen and still have it be entertaining. (That’s why you see the cheesy game-like graphics, skulls, and expository messages on screen.) I couldn’t disagree more with this mindset.

If a scene needs flashy or inaccurate graphics on a computer in order to increase the drama or explain a plot point, there’s an issue with the writing. On Mr Robot, we work hard to ensure that the stakes of the scene and the character motivations are clear even if you have no idea how the technology works. If you do understand the technology, you have the added bonus of recognising real vulnerabilities, real desktop environments, and authentic dialogue that fits the context of the hack.

Back in the Eighties, the TV detective show Riptide used to make me laugh, as their hacker character regularly broke into IRS systems to get information that, in real life, they didn’t maintain.

(18) GENRE BENDING. Martha Wells wrote an article on eight works that blend science and magic minus typical fantasy tropes for the Barnes and Noble SF/F blog — “8 Books That Blend Science and Magic, Minus the Fantasy Tropes”. Her list includes novels (or novellas) from N.K. Jemisin, Sharon Shinn, J.Y. Yang, Kate Elliott, J. Kathleen Cheney, Emily Foster, Aliette de Bodard, and Kai Ashante Wilson.

Fantasy tropes can be great—that’s why they become tropes. But sometimes you want to read something you feel like you’ve never read before. I love secondary world fantasy books in which standard and well-known tropes are either in short supply, or have been transformed into something new and special by wildly original worldbuilding. I’ve always loved books that combine SF-nal technology and magic (I’ve done it in my own Books of the Raksura, in which technology is usually both biological and magical, and in the Ile Rien series, in which the magic often has mechanical components), and the one thing the eight books below have in common is that each uses different forms of technology combined with magic to build a fresh, fabulous fantasy world.

The Broken Earth trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin These are probably the first recent books that come to mind when someone mentions magical manipulation of science—it’s a key part of this brilliantly original setting. The Orogenes have a hereditary ability to manipulate energy in a world that has been destroyed over and over again. The main character deals with devastating losses as she explores the extent of her abilities and tries to uncover the deliberately erased history that may explain why all this is happening.

(19) NOT ENOUGH SPOONS. Milky Shot by Roy Kafri on Vimeo is a strange film about what happens when a giant alien spoon comes to Earth and tries to steal the world’s spoons!

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, James Davis Nicoll, Andrew Porter, Darrah Chavey, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day GSLamb.]

Dragons, and Puppies, and Innocent Bystanders, Oh My!

The nominees for the Dragon Awards were released August 3, and some authors who campaigned energetically for it succeeded in their quest to get on the ballot.

Color-coded below are the nominations from three of the strongest marketing and promotion efforts.

  • VOX DAY’S SLATE is RED
  • SUPERVERSIVE SF CONTRIBUTORS are BLUE
  • AUTHORS WHOSE BOOKS WERE PART OF JON DEL ARROZ’ ODYSSEY CON BUNDLE are GREEN (if they are not already coded in either of the first two groups.)

Surprisingly, three of Vox Day’s recommendations did not make the ballot. Whether this reflects the level of competition or carelessness about eligibility (a problem with his Hugo slate) is unknown.

Lou Antonelli’s nomination also should be noted, although he isn’t part of any of the three color-coded groups.

The Dragon Awards administrators never released any voting statistics from the first year, so just how much support it takes to get nominated is a matter of conjecture. But if voters are rewarding effort and a profound desire to be nominated, my personal opinion is that Declan Finn’s two nominations are probably the most deserved.

  1. Best Science Fiction Novel
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  • Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards
  • Rise by Brian Guthrie
  • Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  • Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu
  • The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier
  1. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
  • A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day
  • Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
  • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo
  • The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta
  • Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi
  • Beast Master by Shayne Silvers
  • Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle
  1. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
  • Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • Firebrand by A.J. Hartley
  • It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett
  • Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  • Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
  • The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
  1. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
  • The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico
  • Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David Vandyke
  • Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon
  • Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes
  • Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey
  • Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz
  • Aliies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy
  • Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox
  1. Best Alternate History Novel
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
  • Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler
  • Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli
  • No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah
  • A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry
  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville
  • Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
  1. Best Apocalyptic Novel
  • The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz
  • A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys
  • ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes
  • Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
  • American War by Omar El Akkad
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  • Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz
  1. Best Horror Novel
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle
  • Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells
  • Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn
  • The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood
  • A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau
  • The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers
  • Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga
  • Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten
  1. Best Comic Book
  • Motor Girl by Terry Moore
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eleven by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs
  • Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa
  • The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo
  • Wynonna Earp Legends by Beau Smith, Tim Rozon, Melanie Scrofano, Chris Evenhuis
  1. Best Graphic Novel
  • Stuck in My Head by J.R. Mounts
  • Girl Genius: the Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne, Book 2: The City of Lightning by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio
  • Clive Barker Nightbreed #3 by Marc Andreyko, Clive Barker, Emmanuel Javier
  • March Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
  • Love is Love by Marc Andreyko, Sarah Gaydos, James S. Rich
  • Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
  • Lucifer, Fox
  • Westworld, HBO
  • Stranger Things, Netflix
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC
  • Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1
  • Doctor Who, BBC
  • The Expanse, Syfy
  • Wynonna Earp, Syfy
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
  • Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson
  • Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Passengers directed by Morten Tyldum
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards
  • Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins
  • Logan directed by James Mangold
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 directed by James Gunn
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
  • Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda by Bioware
  • NieR: Automata by PlatinumGames
  • Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Nintendo
  • Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
  • Sky Dancer by Pine Entertainment
  • Fire Emblem Heroes by Nintendo
  • Monument Valley 2 by Ustwogames
  • Con Man: The Game by Monkey Strength Productions
  • Pokemon GO by Niantic
  • Super Mario Run by Nintendo
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk by Avalon Hill
  • Hero Realms by White Wizard Games
  • Gloomhaven by Cephalofair Games
  • Scythe by Stonemaier Games
  • Mansions of Madness (Second Edition) by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
  • Pulp Cthulhu by Chaosium
  • Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast
  • A Shadow Across the Galaxy X-Wing Wave X by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Star Wars: Destiny by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Bloodborne: The Card Game by CMON Limited
  • Dark Souls: The Board Game by Steamforged Games