The Drink Tank Takes on GamerGate

Chris Garcia and James Bacon devote the latest issue of Drink Tank to a discussion of GamerGate. 

James says, “It is not good, and we shall not pretend it is not happening or ignore it, for it is already attacking things and people that matter.”

What was ostensibly an alleged scandal about integrity in journalism, turned out to be a lie, and evolved into a machine of hatred and abuse of women.

Chris Garcia and myself realised that this was rampaging amongst people we knew, cared for and who would not ever be expected to tolerate the things that have been said.

Can you imagine a Worldcon Area Head be told to: ”Go commit suicide’ or ‘Can’t you take a joke you stupid whore?’ – of course not, because there is a code of conduct, and people seem to be able to behave in public, yet with the anonymity of the internet, hatred, abuse, and threats have flourished.

To get the issue click here [PDF file].

Stargazing In Staffordshire

James Bacon and Dr. Emma J. King

James Bacon and Dr. Emma J. King

James Bacon offers you the stars next summer in Staffordshire, England where he and Dr. Emma J King, an award-winning science communicator with a Ph.D. in cosmology, will inaugurate astro.CAMPhw.uk, an annual astronomy event, August 7-9, 2015.

People of all ages and from all walks of life are invited to enjoy a series of astronomy-related talks, workshops and activities led by experts in the field. Each night there will be star gazing, facilitated by experienced astronomers.

Attendees will camp in Huntley Wood, a 170-acre outdoor event venue in the heart of the Staffordshire moorlands.

Huntley_Wood_2

The date has been picked because it is during the summer holidays, when families can attend together, also because the second weekend of August tends to be near the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, one of the best and brightest meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere

The programme for the weekend already includes bestselling popular science author Simon Singh giving a talk about his book Big Bang, which tells the story of the Big Bang theory from its birth in the 1920s to the observational evidence that backed it and then clinched it.

There will be a talk from Prof. Paul Roche, Director of the Faulkes Telescopes Project, the UK National Schools’ Astronomer and the Space Ambassador for Wales. He has spent over 20 years researching massive stars, neutron stars and black holes, and working in astronomy education, outreach and science communication.

Also speaking is Dr. Ed Trollope founder of science website Things We Don’t Know

Ed studied at several UK universities before cruelly being exiled to “get a job and a haircut!” After originally studying space physics he turned to the dark side (spacecraft engineering), then realised how poorly structured his code was and opted for software engineering too. Now he works in Germany, where he helps to land robots on other worlds and predict the weather.

There will be workshops by Emma Wride of AstroCymru, plus an undercover 3D Celestia and Stellarium, just in case the weather turns bad.

More items will be added, as well as fun activities suitable for children. No previous experience or knowledge of astronomy is necessary to enjoy astro.CAMPhw. Tickets are already on sale via the website which offers an early booking discount.

Keep up-to-date with the event through its website, http://astro.camphw.uk, Facebook (facebook.com/astrocamphw) and Twitter (twitter.com/astrocamphw).

Comics Unmasked at British Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drink Tank’s Sunset Date

Chris Garcia announces in The Drink Tank #365 [PDF file] that he and James Bacon will ring down the curtain on their Hugo-winning fanzine on January 31, 2015.

That’s right, we’re gonna call it a day in exactly one year. The Tenth Annual Giant Sized Annual will be the last issue of The Drink Tank. Ten years and, what I assume will be more than 400 issues. Neither will be a record, but both feel like enough to me.

They’ll keep doing Journey Planet and Chris will continue Claims Department, and Exhibition Hall and Klaus at Gunpoint. Which is to say, they’ll still keep eFanzines as busy as Chicago’s O’Hare International…

Hugo Multiplication Tabled

An impassioned march on the Worldcon Business Meeting is expected Friday morning to make sure no Hugos are subtracted. Then, depending on how much of the agenda survives the preliminary meeting, members may get a chance on Saturday to play Santa by adding two new Hugos and radically expanding eligibility for another.

For the third consecutive year voters will be asked to create a YA Hugo category. This time called Best Youth Book, the Hugo would be given to “a science fiction or fantasy book published in the previous calendar year for young adults, middle readers, or children.”

The 2012 motion to create a Best Young Adult Fiction Hugo failed 51-67, however, losing a relatively close vote represented an improvement from the year before when the YA Hugo motion never made it to the floor, being disposed of by a vote to object to consideration.

Attendees of this year’s Business Meeting will also be invited to further subdivide the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo by adding a category for short length works.

Proposed by Eemeli Aro and seconded by James Bacon, John Coxon, and Jesi Pershing, this new Hugo would be given to a “video, audio recording or other production, with a complete running time of less than 15 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects.”

They say an extra category will “provide a more even ground for the promotion and popularization of both more and less professional short films, filk songs, commercials, and even acceptance speeches” which are now being overwhelmed by episodes of TV shows.

The existing Long Form category would continue to cover work more than 90 minutes in length, but be renamed “Best Dramatic Presentation, Feature Length Long Form.” The Short Form category would become “Best Dramatic Presentation, Mid-Length Short Form” and cover works 15 to 90 minutes in length.

Lastly, Joshua Kronengold and Lisa Padol want to transform the Best Fan Artist Hugo into something that can also be won by “musical, dance, jewelry and costuming artists.”

The new eligibility definition would be — “An artist or cartoonist working in any visual or performance medium whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public, non-professional, display (including at a convention or conventions) during the previous calendar year.”

Illustrators and cartoonists appearing in fanzines and semiprozines would remain eligible. Kronengold and Padol, in a commentary, say animators and artists working in special effects would also be eligible. But the motion’s fate could depend on wooing votes from costumers and filkers onsite at LSC3. Saturday is also the day of the masquerade, so costumers might need to juggle the demands on their schedules if they want to vote for the change.

A Century of Taral Celebrated in Drink Tank

By Taral Wayne: So many issues of The Drink Tank, so little time to fill them.  However, as of this issue, I’ve filled 100 of them!  To commemorate the event, Chris Garcia and I collaborated on a Special Issue!  I began my appearances in DT way back in 2007, with a two part interview conducted by Frank Wu.  I was a little slow reappearing, but once I got into the habit, it was a hard one to break.  In the 187 issues since, I’ve added to the pages somewhat more often than once every other DT.  Most of the pieces I contributed were moderately short, but that’s still a lot of writing any way you slice it.  Somebody should have told me it was habit forming.

There has been a lot of careless talk about the zine’s “golden touch,” as though to be a regular contributor was a punched ticket to the Hugo Ceremonies, right up front where the other nominees sit.  It has won Chris the Rocket for Best Fanzine, along with his co-editor, James Bacon.  It has also won DT’s frequent cover artist, Mo Starkey a Hugo for Best Fanartist.  But I recommend caution before throwing around irresponsible theories like that.  If it were so … where’s my Hugo?  I am the living proof that Chris and Mo earned their Hugo some other way than by merely appearing in Drink Tank.  Bribery perhaps?

Drink Tank 340 was finished a couple of days ago, and ought to be posted on eFanzines just before this issue of Broken Toys.  Oh … and by the way.  As a Special Celebration of the Special Issue, I have ceased writing for Drink Tank.

It is said that the best way to create a demand is to limit supply, you see.  Now that my writing in Drink Tank will be in very short supply, perhaps it will stimulate voter interest, so that I may someday – finally – have my very own silver rocket to cradle in my arms!

China Miéville Signs at Chicago Play on 3/16

The stage production of City and the City, based on a China Miéville story, is in the midst of its run at Chicago’s Lifeline Theatre.  It opened on February 15 and closes April 7.

The plot —

Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad is assigned to a seemingly open-and-shut case: an American student found dead in the gutters of the city of Beszel. But soon this deceptively simple crime reveals ties to powerful political and corporate factions at the heart of both Beszel and its twin city, Ul Qoma. Forced to cross the divide between two city-states coexisting in the same geographical space yet separated by irreconcilable cultural differences, Borlú must bring to justice the mastermind of the most unusual and dangerous case of his career.

When James Bacon attended Capricon in February he got to listen to director Dorothy Milne, adapter Christopher M. Walsh and marketing director Rob Kauzlauric speak about bringing Miéville’s work to the stage. 

[I] wonder about how the two cities will be discriminated, and it is explained that colours, costumes props and movement all go into that process of identifying the each city, the quality of light and a less subtle ‘shade of blue’ which is mentioned as legal in one, illegal in another in the book, is something that is latched upon. Also accents are used to discriminate from non city people.

Miéville himself will be at the Lifeline Theatre on Saturday, March 16 for a book signing in the lobby at 7 p.m. He’ll hold a conversation with the audience, cast, and production team immediately after the 8 p.m. performance. His book signing and Q&A’s are free.

[Thanks to James Bacon for the story.]

The Comics Hugo

Yes, that’s what the cognoscenti call the Best Graphic Story Hugo – “The Comics Hugo.”

I didn’t know this before I paged through The Drink Tank #336 where the cognoscenti have to lot to say about the Hugo-worthy work of 2012.

Chris Garcia notes Paul Cornell’s strong recommendation for Fables but says it will not be a choice for him: “Now, looking at this coming year, well, Fables is nowhere near my ballot. Dial H (one of my all-time favorite comics concepts written by China Miéville) Saucer Country (by Paul Cornell), Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and perhaps most importantly of all, Justice League.”

Chris also reports that Paul Cornell is so disappointed with the track record of the Best Graphic Story Hugo category that he’s now referring to it as a “fan Hugo.” I guess that’s supposed to be an insult, otherwise you’d think it would help his purpose since everyone knows no one can win a fan Hugo but a pro. In fact, Paul took one home in Best Fancast just last year.

James Bacon speaks about Grandville Bete Noir by Bryan Talbot and suggests that “Straight away I would have to say that SAGA (by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples) is a definite. Any SF fan who has not read this, is missing out, not only for the ideas, but the terrific dialogue and humour. It is a wonderful mix of Fantasy in a space setting and is terrifically personal, in a very skilled way.”

He also recommends, Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, Peter Panzerfaust by Kurtis J Wiebe, art by Tyler Jenkins, “an alternate history, messing with the famous children’s literary characters, with Hauptmann Hook on the Horizon” and Marvel’s Hawkeye which “may be a marvel mainstream comic, but the aesthetic look and the excellent dialogue makes it a winner, the humour and sense of absurdity, pitched in a realistic way, make it delightful.” He also mentions Storm Dogs, which has only had two issues published in 2012, by Doug Braithwaite and David Hine.

Meanwhile Joe Gordon on the Forbidden Planet International Blog also recommends Grandville Bete Noir, Saga, Manhattan Projects as well as The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and Ian Culbard, Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos/Trifecta by Wagner et al (2000 AD), Prophet by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy et al and Batwoman by JH Williams III, Haden Blackman, adding a few other choices, but definitely confirming interest in some titles.

James Bacon: Gaiman, Edwards Animated Short Film

By James Bacon: The short film, Down Among the Dead Men, is definitely worth watching. Narrated by Neil Gaiman, it has a lovely mix of animation and artwork by Les Edwards. (I have to admit a favourite artist of mine, he did the superb wrap around cover for the Intersection 1995 Worldcon programme, and I have loved his work since.)

Zombie Apocalypse! Fightback is an anthology, a selection of reportage, insights and accounts, that all take a variety of looks at the one incident, “The Death,” a zombie plague that starts in London.

It is the second in the Zombie Apocalypse series, the first released in 2010. The selection of authors was bloody good, but it was the way that then each one was presented in a particular style, relative to that viewpoint, that added to the whole setting, giving the reader a strange and insightful sense of placement, a voyeuristic feeling of proximity to such a disaster. Some of these stories were handwritten, others appeared as reports, emails, or press releases, but each author had their own “look” to their angle on “The Death.”

The second anthology has some seriously good authors, including favourites of mine, such as Michael Marshall Smith,, Paul McAuley, Sarah Pinborough, and the story by Neil Gaiman and Les Edwards that this animated short is based on, which is now available to view on You Tube.

James Bacon on All Media

James Bacon had a busy December, reviewing comics and a stage play on Forbidden Planet and Comic Buzz. Here are the links he sent —