Readercon Issues Apology

Readercon’s Board of Directors posted an apology to Facebook for the letter sent to some of its past program participants informing them they would not be invited back this year. The full text of the apology is below.

A number of older writers who received the letter took offense, both for being dropped, and for being offered an unfortunately-phrased “PASTPRO” discount. Readercon apologized for the wording and for failing to make clear that writers getting the letter were being rotated out but could be considered as participants in future years.

The charge of age discrimination, which Kathryn Cramer publicly called on Readercon’s board to investigate, is not addressed by the statement.

Dear Readercon Community,

This year for the first time Readercon sent a letter notifying some previous program participants that they would not be invited onto panels this year. We sent the letter to assist them in planning for the con. We are a convention of under 1000 people. We usually have around 150 panelists/program participants each year, but the list of invitees onto program had grown to over 900.

It has always been our policy that program participants do not pay for their convention membership. In some years we had more invited panelists than paying attendees, and that is not a viable model. We cannot afford to give free memberships to everyone.

Readercon is at its best when we strive to include a mix of experienced and rising authors, editors, publishers, and others in the community. We need to rotate the names on that list to ensure we continue nurturing a strong mix. We only have so many slots available on panels each year.

That 900+ person list was reviewed by several people including the past three program chairs. Together they determined a process for selecting who would rotate out and identified who would be affected for Readercon 29.

While similar rotation has been happening for several years behind-the-scenes, we realized that there was a need to start letting recent program participants know that they would not be invited for programming this coming year.

We realize we did not handle this well. The letter we sent was not well written.

We neglected to point out explicitly that even if individuals were not going to be considered for panels this year, they would always be eligible for consideration in years to come. We would like to make that known now and will be correcting it in next year’s letter.

We should have been more transparent and clearer.

It was never our intention to give people the impression that they will never be invited to participate in Readercon programming again. We also hoped and continue to hope that they will choose to attend Readercon because they enjoy the convention itself.

In conclusion, we messed up and we are sorry.

We should have said upfront that not every program participant will be invited back every year. Our only exception is that all past Guests of Honor receive invitations every year.

As important members of the industry, you are always welcome to tell us if you are an expert on one of our upcoming Guests of Honor or the Cordwainer Smith Award winner, if you are publishing a piece by an upcoming Guest of Honor, or if you have a new book coming out. We have always worked hard to support the incredible people who have participated in Readercon programming over time. This has included talking with the US State Department , universities, and supplying documentation for grants.

The Readercon Board of Directors:

Rachel Borman
Sioban Krzywicki
B. Diane Martin
Emily Wagner
Louise Waugh

Pixel Scroll 3/1/18 I Fell Into A Pixeled Link Of Fire

(1) MANAGEMENT CHANGES AT TOR. Today Tor.com announced “Fritz Foy Named President and Publisher of Tor and Forge Books”.

Tom Doherty, who will become Chairman, wrote:

Fritz Foy, Senior Vice President of Strategic Technology at Macmillan and Publisher of Tor.com, will join Tom Doherty Associates as President and Publisher, with all the Tom Doherty Associates publishing units reporting to him.

Fritz has had an impressive career in publishing, first at Simon & Schuster, and for the last 21 years at Macmillan. He has had roles in sales, marketing, operations, technology, workflow, production, and analytics. He brings with him a passion for books and publishing. For the last decade he has been actively engaged with me at Tor Books.

Fritz will be reporting to me as I move into the role of Chairman and as he begins to lead Tom Doherty Associates into the future.

Fritz Foy announced additional promotions and changes, including:

Effective immediately, Devi Pillai, previously Associate Publisher, is now Vice President and Publisher of Tor Books, reporting to me. In her year and a half with Tor, Devi has brought a true sense of author and editor care to the organization, while also building efficiency through the adoption of publishing-industry best practices. She is uniquely qualified to help lead Tor into the future.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Associate Publisher, is now also Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Tor Books, reporting to me. Patrick’s 29 years at Tor, coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of the industry and his award-winning editing skills, make him perfect for this key role that will help us to continue to grow the business.

Kathleen Doherty, Publisher of Tor Teen/Starscape, has been promoted to Vice President. Kathleen has been instrumental in the establishment of our young adult and teen publishing programs, and has been responsible for our success across educational markets.

While continuing in her role as Creative Director of Tom Doherty Associates, Irene Gallo will take on the additional responsibility of Publisher of Tor.com. I’ve been working with Irene for over a decade on online community building, and more recently on launching the novella imprint, and I prize her innovative spirit.

[H/t Locus Online.]

(2) READERCON AND THE AGE DISCRIMINATION CHARGE. Kathryn Cramer listed her takeaways from social media response to her request that the Readercon Board investigate age discrimination against writers told they will not be invited to be on program this year.

First of all, the Readercon board not only did not answer the questions I asked but never acknowledged receipt of that email. The conclusions I draw from that are that they feel the questions I asked in my letter should not have been asked and that I am not entitled to an answer. This may in part be because I framed my quantitative questions with a suggested remedy involving the firing of the program chair. So maybe my framing got their back up. But since I am not the only one who has expressed concerns about age discrimination, I think the main problem is that they don’t want to talk about it. This, in itself, is not all that surprising.

Here is what does surprise me. After several days of relatively unpleasant conversation of the topic, I also arrive at the following conclusions…

5) There are worthwhile values such as increasing diversity and showcasing new talent that are sometimes in conflict with non-discrimination, and these are some of the values that are cited by people who think age discrimination should not be seen as a problem.

6) Inexperienced convention-runners have fewer strategies for resolving the conflicts between these conflicting values and some seem uninterested in learning them.

7) Because of the lack of consensus against retaliation, engaging with and further exploration of this problem should be done by writers collectively rather than individually. SFWA, of which I am not a member, is the obvious organization to draft best practices guidelines on how conventions might achieve diversity goals and liven up their programs without engaging in one or more kinds of discrimination. Another possible organization that might be a venue for such best practices guidelines would be the Worldcon Runners Guide Editorial Committee, which is tasked with curating information about con-running best practices. I have no involvement with that either.

8) Given the overlap between con-running and the small press, publishing, reviewing, etc. all of the above-listed issues may occur in those areas as well.

When I engaged with the question of whether there had been age discrimination, I made two basic assumptions: that we all agree that age discrimination as such is a bad thing, and secondly that we all agree that it is something that it is OK to ask questions about. Since both of those assumptions appear to be wrong, I exit the conversation, leaving the matter to others with more organization and institutional umph behind them. Good luck.

(3) SFWA SPACE OPERA PANEL. The SFWA YouTube channel did an episode on space opera featuring Ann Leckie, Bonnie Milani, Khaalidah Muhammed-Ali, Chandra
Trulove Fry, and Diane Morrison:

(4) MAKING A STINK STINKIER. Io9 is tracking the daily changes in Terry
Goodkind’s justification for disliking Bastien Lecouffe Deharme’s cover on his new book: “FantasyWriter Terry Goodkind Now Claims He Hated His Book Cover Because It’s ‘Sexist’”:

Earlier this week, Goodkind wrote a post on Facebook calling Shroud of Eternity “a great book with a very bad cover. Laughably bad,” inviting readers to share their thoughts in a poll. He later apologized to cover artist Bastien Lecouffe Deharme in a follow-up post, though Deharme said he was never contacted by Goodkind personally nor does he plan on working with the author again. Now, after posting a video of his dog licking the book cover, Goodkind has added a new layer to his previous criticism. The author told io9 he and his agent had objected to the cover upon release because the protagonist’s portrayal was too sexist and didn’t match the character in-book.

…I followed up with Deharme, who said this was the first time he’d heard any claims of sexism regarding the book cover, from Goodkind or anyone else. On the contrary, he said Tor Books specifically asked him to avoid typical sexist fantasy tropes when designing the cover. After reading the part of the book sent to him by the art director, as well as the character description provided, Deharme said he chose to focus on Nicci’s strength. He gave her practical armor and didn’t put the focus on the traditionally exploited parts of the female body.

(5) PLAYING WITH A MISSION. Filers attending Emerald City ComicCon this weekend can support a good cause by playing games with awesome authors: “Worldbuilders Party: Emerald City Comic Convention”. Cat Rambo will be one of them.

Where: Washington State Convention Center, Room 3AB
When: Friday, March 2nd, 7 – 11 p.m.
Tickets and Infohttps://worldbuildersparty.com/

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play tabletop games with some of the folks who create the books, podcasts, games, and other geeky stuff you love? Wonder no more! Join Worldbuilders, Pat Rothfuss and friends for an evening of games, food, drinks, and mingling with some awesome authors, game designers, and creators. Sign up to play games with the celeb of your choosing in a relaxed environment, and participate in the silent auction and raffle for a chance to win some cool geeky prizes.

This is a charity event and all proceeds will go towards Worldbuilders.

(6) THE GREENING OF A WRITER. Cat Rambo has become a contributor to Green Man Review. Her first review is of “Tim Cooper’s The Reader: War For The Oaks.

The Reader: War For The Oaks is a hardbound book presenting a photography project by Tim Cooper.  It’s a slim little 8.5?x 11? volume, clocking in at 96 pages. The pleasant interior design presents the photos nicely, along with some pretty arboreal details. The cover, whose design is unobjectionable but unremarkable, features a photo that lets the reader know exactly what the book is about: photos of people reading War For the Oaks in various Minneapolis locations.

She follows with: “Recent Reading: Cat Valente Launches in a New Direction”.

It is difficult to describe how Catherynne M. Valente’s new book Space Opera (Saga Press, available April 3, 2018, 292 pages) manages to be so wonderfully resonant of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy yet so insistently, inimitably her own. And yet, that’s the challenge.

Valente’s skill manifests in a book that bounces right along, full of glorious, funny, wonderful, sparkly explosions of humor and wit that still, just as Adams always did, manages to say Insightful and Interesting Things about Human Nature. And it’s funny. Did I mention that this is a funny book? It’s the story of failing rock singer Decibel Jones and his dysfunctional band, the Absolute Zeroes, who have been chosen to represent their world in an interstellar challenge that determines whether or not the Earth will be destroyed.

(7) A NEW SCREEN. Another first for Cat Rambo – she made her Twitch TV debut in February.

(8) ALT-RIGHT COMICS. At Medium, Jason Yungbluth takes aim at Theodore Beale’s recent attempt to create an alt-right brand of comic books: “The Menace of Doc Vox!” The article dates to last October, but hasn’t been mentioned in the Scroll before. The article explores the business model that Beale is using, all designed to monetize controversy.

Can Teddy make a profit off of this effort? Sure, but not much. There is obviously a fascist ecosystem out there capable of bringing a project like this to life, but it is very niche. The thrill of pissing in liberals’ Cheerios (which, as Markku put it to me, was this project’s first, last and only goal) won’t make ugly, politically driven comic books any less boring….

What, then, will Teddy get out of all the time he will ultimately have to pour into this low-reward venture? An excuse to troll the Eisner awards? The thrill of ruining the costume contest at Comic-Con?

(9) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Never mind global warming or the imminent extinction of honeybees – Camestros Felapton has discovered s fresh crisis: “Felapton Towers Scoop – How Numbers are Disappearing”.

Look, there’s just some breaking stories that you can only read here thanks to the deep investigative journalism that my crack team of journalists do. In this case – plugging two digit numbers into Google n-gram.

I don’t know what I expected the graph to look like but apparently peak numbers-in-books was sometime in the late 1980s after which the bubble burst plunging books into a deepening two-digit-numbers-as-words recession.

Are digits really disappearing? Maybe they have migrated to television? Sesame Street seems to use plenty of them.

(10) JUST WHAT IS IT? Cora Buhlert is catching up with The Orville — “The Other Star Trek Show: Some Thoughts on The Orville”.

For starters, The Orville is not a Star Trek parody in the vein of Bully Herbig’s Traumschiff Surprise skits, Pigs in Space or even Galaxy Quest. And The Orville is indeed very different from Seth MacFarlane’s comedy work (which is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned, considering how dreadful my previous experience with Seth MacFarlane and his work was), though it does resort to typical US sitcom humor on occasion. Now some of the jokes – mostly those arising out of science fiction and Star Trek clichés, e.g. the jokes about the “anti-banana ray”, drinks on the bridge and cannabis from the replicator, Ed accidentally walking through the Blob like crewmember, the tentacled underwater creature which turns out to be a botanist or the bit with the Krill commander standing off center on the viewscreen (come on, it is weird that people always stand exactly in the middle of the viewscreen in SF films and TV shows, to the point that I even included a “Sorry, could you please adjust your screen” line in Graveyard Shift) – work. They work precisely because these jokes arise naturally out of the science fiction setting.

In the interests of good taste, please, no one tell Seth MacFarlane the German word for space travel is “raumfahrt.”

(11) MORE MEXICANX PICKS. The next group of Mexicanx Initiative recipients of Worldcon 76 memberships has been announced by John Picacio.

(12) WALKING THE PATTERN. Michael Michel talks about “Forming Practice from Passion” at the SFWA Blog.

Success is not a thing given, nor a thing taken or forced. It is something practiced. The pathways we travel most often are the ones with the deepest grooves. Ever heard the term, “Get in the groove?” It holds more truth and functionality than folk might realize. Success depends on the proverbial grooves we create–practices forming pathways.

Here’s a quick and easy process to get in the Write Groove:

  1. Orient: Despite my B.S., how would I love to show up to my writing, right here and now?
  2. Engage: Am I willing to show up to it in the way I’d love?
  • If yes, continue to step three…
  • If no, see step one again…
  1. Practice: Show this by completing a small, clear action step.
  2. Celebrate: You’ve practiced successful writing. Savor the truth, then repeat at later date.

(13) A DISNEY WINTER IS COMING. Peter Marks has written in the Washington Post about the development of the Broadway version of Frozen, which has ten new songs, a new ending, and has been in development for seventeen months:

Disney likes to hire directors who don’t just reorchestrate, but also can cogitate freshly about what on the surface might merely seem easily digested fairy tales rendered immaculately on celluloid. This has not always translated into success on Broadway: Think of opera director Francesca Zambello’s overproduced “The Little Mermaid” or design auteur Bob Crowley’s turgid “Tarzan.” When it does work, though, as in Julie Taymor’s visually ravishing “The Lion King,” the enchanting results fulfill the artistic mission the company has striven to uphold as it continues the tradition of big-time transferences from screen to stage it commenced with “Beauty and the Beast” in 1994.

For Grandage, the challenge has not only been to accept the magnitude of expectation fans of the movie would bring into the theater — “You realized you were taking on something that has seeped so deeply into the consciousness of people globally” — but also to bring to the fore an emotionality better suited to characters in three dimensions.

“It’s a show that’s very much about a family in trauma,” says Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who with her husband, Robert Lopez, wrote the score for the film and added more than a dozen other songs for the Broadway version, which of course retains the Oscar-winning “Let It Go.” That was sung on screen by Idina Menzel as the tormented Elsa, the young queen cursed with an ice-making power that bedevils her subjects and sends her into self-imposed exile.

(14) TWO MUSIC LOVERS. Steve Vertlieb invites you to watch a video of “a delightful conversation with composer and music preservationist Roger Hall in my living room, talking candidly about the cultural significance and artistic importance of Music For The Movies … our interaction with composers Elmer Bernstein, Lee Holdridge and Mark McKenzie … as well as the oldest, most successfully enduring website devoted entirely to the study and presentation of original motion picture music, Film Music Review.”

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Cat Rambo, Carl Slaughter, Cora Buhlert, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Rambo.]

Cramer Asks Readercon to Investigate Age Discrimination Charge

Kathryn Cramer announced on Facebook that she has asked the Readercon board to investigate whether its program organizers engaged in age discrimination while culling their program participants list and violated the convention’s own Code of Conduct.

Several older white male writers who have been on Readercon’s program in previous years have posted to Facebook that they were notified they won’t be on this year’s program, or simply haven’t received the expected invitation. The wording of the notice sparked resentment —

Allen Steele’s reaction was typical:

Oh, we’re still welcome to attend, if we pay the registration fee. In fact, because of our exalted former status, we’re entitled to a 25% discount … if we go to a private registration site and enter the password (get this) PASTPRO.

So not only have we been told that we’re not welcome to come as professionals, we’re also being told that we’re no longer professionals, period.

Whether writers/editors/artists who have been on a convention’s program in the past are owed the courtesy of being formally notified that they are not going to be on the current year’s program, or a con should let silence speak for itself, is worthy of discussion in its own right, however, Readercon made the former choice.

Even more important than the careless language of the letter (“PASTPRO”), some writers who received it say they suspect that Readercon’s effort to churn its roster of panelists has been done entirely at the expense of older writers.

A few days ago Jeffrey A. Carver added his name to the list of writers who have gotten the letter: “Readercon Says, ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!’”

I worried I was getting old when I turned 50 and started getting mail from AARP. And then, when I wasn’t looking, I suddenly became eligible for senior discounts. (No, that can’t be right. My parents were seniors, not me!) And now…

Readercon, once one of my favorite conventions, has decided that—well, let’s let them tell it in their own words: “You won’t be receiving an invitation to participate in programming for Readercon 29. We’re deeply grateful to you for your years of participation at Readercon… but…” But so long, and thanks for all the fish!

They go on to say that they’re making room for fresh, young writers—which, if I thought that were the real reason, would at least be understandable. The truth, of course, is that Readercon has always been welcoming to new writers. I was one myself once, and Readercon always gave me a place at the table, as they did others. In fact, one of the things I liked about it was the yeasty mix of writers of all kinds, all ages, genders, creeds, etc. It made for great conversations. I guess the newer team of organizers are aiming for a new shape for their demographics. Either that, or they think they’re comping too many memberships to program participants.

I’m not the only one to receive this letter, of course. A number of older, white male writers (including my friend Craig Shaw Gardner) have received the same email. I don’t know if any female writers have received it or not. I’d be interested in knowing. (Update: I’ve received a secondhand report that a woman-writer friend of mine, also in my age group, got a similar boot to the backside.)

Kathryn Cramer tried to bring the matter to a head and tweeted Readercon a question —

Cramer also criticized a comment left on FB by Readercon program chair Emily Wagner:

…Speaking as the widow of a Readercon 13 GoH, I take exception to your complaints about past program participants’ “longevity.” You may find this whole matter “hilarious” (as per screen shot). I do not. Readercon has a code of conduct. I suggest you read it. And if you still think it is hilarious that you have given offense to many of the writers you have written such things to, and if you still think other peoples’ impression that you are engaging in age discrimination is hilarious, then I suggest you politely submit your resignation to the Readercon committee and find another hobby.

(This page lists 150 program participants from the 2017 Readercon – how Wagner’s 700 figure relates to that is unclear.)

Cramer has made a public request that the Readercon Board get involved.

I have just sent the following letter to info@readercon.org: To the ReaderCon Board:

In light of letters from Emily Wagner, writing as program Chair, recently received by older writers and professionals disinviting them from future participation on the ReaderCon program based their “longevity”, offering a discount code of “pastpro,” I formally request that the Board open an inquiry into whether Emily Wagner has committed age discrimination and whether she has, in the process, violated ReaderCon’s published Code of Conduct as pertains to age. Since Emily Wagner also sits on the Board, it would be appropriate for her to recuse herself from this inquiry.

I further request that the ReaderCon board publicly release the age demographics of the list of people to whom such letters were sent. And further, should these demographics demonstrate that all or nearly all such letters were sent to writers over age 50, I request that Emily Wagner be removed as Program Chair of ReaderCon and removed from the ReaderCon Board.

Ms. Wagner has posted on Facebook that she finds these allegations of age discrimination on her part “hilarious.” Age discrimination is not hilarious.

Further, should the Board determine that age discrimination has, in fact, taken place – which is to say that all or almost all of those disinvited are over 50 – I request that the Board take appropriate action to remedy the situation.

Sincerely,

Kathryn Cramer

Several other well-known writers have added their protests. Peter Watts ended a comment on the subject:

Readercon, you suck.

Barry Longyear chimed in:

So, the Readercon “Dump-the Old” program is still in effect. It makes me think there ought to be two new categories in the Hugo Awards at the World SF Con: Best Science Fiction Convention, and a booby prize for that convention committee deemed as “doing the absolute least to promote science fiction and fellowship surrounding the literature of science fiction.” Designs for the Fucktard Award are currently being solicited.

David Gerrold made a more substantial comment on Cramer’s announcement:

About ten years ago or so, the Writers Guild of America won a major lawsuit on age discrimination. The studios paid out $70 million, some of which was distributed to writers who had proven they had been discriminated against, the rest to establish protections for the future.

Age discrimination is real — it’s pernicious, it’s vile, and in venues where there are laws prohibiting it, it is illegal.

For it to occur in the science fiction community is appalling. This is a community that has prided itself on inclusion. The rule in fandom is that “the ceiling constitutes an introduction.” That is, we’re all in the same room, we’re all fans, we’re here to have fun celebrating what we love.

So for any convention to knowingly violate the trust of the community, to disinvite the experienced and respected members of that community — this doesn’t just punish the authors, it punishes the fans who want to hear from those authors.

I’ve always wanted to attend a Readercon. I’ve only heard good things about Readercon — but now I suspect that I am too old to be considered worthy to contribute to Readercon.

I hope that this is a momentary glitch that the Board of Directors will address quickly. Otherwise, Readercon’s good reputation will be soiled for a long time to come

Pixel Scroll 10/31/16 The Scroll Has Already Started. It’s Too Late For The Pixels To Vote

(1) HARTWELL LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Kathryn Cramer posted the speech she prepared for Gordon Van Gelder to deliver accepting David G. Hartwell’s posthumous World Fantasy Life Achievement Award.

First of all, to the board, we are sorry David missed the meeting this morning. Almost nothing could stop him from showing up bright and early on the Sunday morning of World Fantasy to preside over the board meeting.

Not late nights, high fevers, the birth of his children.

This convention—and these awards—were very important to David. For him they were about the conversations we have about our genre and what the genre can do for the world. It makes us proud to think of you all in this room thinking about and talking about the fantasy and horror genres and what excites you about them.

Take a moment, in his honor, and look around the room at the people you have connected with here.

This is what he wanted for you.

This Life Achievement award honors a life well-lived. Thank you all.

(2) ROBERTA POURNELLE SUFFERS STROKE. Jerry Pournelle announced some “Bad News at Chaos Manor”.

Sunday morning – this morning although it’s after midnight now so maybe I mean yesterday morning – I discovered that Roberta had suffered a stroke during the night. I called 911. The firemen responded almost instantly.

We spent the day first at the St. Joseph’s Emergency Room (where the firemen took me after my stroke), then at the Kaiser Emergency Room where she was taken by ambulance arranged by Kaiser, then finally in the Kaiser main hospital. Alex was with me for essentially the entire time. My second son, Frank, who lives in Palm Springs, drove up as soon as he could. Our youngest son, Richard, flew in from DC and just got here.

Roberta appears to be about where I was after my stroke. She can’t really talk yet, but she’s aware of what’s going on around her. We’re trying to arrange rehab at Holy Cross where I was retaught how to swallow, walk, and do all the other things people do.

I’m trying to be calm, but I’m scared stiff.

(3) MARATHON WOMAN. Pat Cadigan’s window isn’t closing this year but she remembers when that was the medical prediction — “Late 2016 Already – Where Does The Time Go”.

…This is not silly wish-fulfilment fantasy optimism on my part. At the worldcon in Kansas City, a few of us fellow-travellers in Cancerland did a panel about living with cancer. One beautiful lady has stage-four lung cancer. You’d never know it, though, because she’s doing great––clinical trials pay off. In fact, over thirty years ago, my Aunt Loretta (one of my mothers) agreed to be in a clinical trial for a breast cancer drug. That drug is Tamoxifen. On her behalf, you’re welcome.

Rational optimism notwithstanding, however, I still remember how the last months of 2016 were projected to be the last months of my life and…well, I can’t help gloating. Who am I gloating at? Cancer, of course. Who else?

These days, I’m thinking not so much in terms of a singing horse as I am the story about the two people in the forest being chased by a bear. One of them stops and puts on fancy running shoes. The other person says, ‘Do you really think you can outrun a bear?’ And the first person says, ‘No, I only have to outrun you.’

I picture me and cancer being chased by a bear called Annihilation. It’s going to get one of us first, and I’m hoping thanks to current clinical trials and the latest developments in immunotherapy, that will be cancer, not me. All I have to do is last long enough. All I have to do is outrun cancer.

(4) TOLKIEN GETS AWARD. The Tolkien Society reports Christopher Tolkien has been awarded the Bodley Medal, given by the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to literature, culture, science, and communication.

Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner said: “Christopher Tolkien is a very worthy recipient of the Bodley Medal not only for his own work but for the decades of tireless dedication he has shown in editing his father’s texts. From The Silmarillion to next year’s Beren and Lúthien, Christopher has opened up new vistas of Middle-earth that otherwise might never have seen the light of day. This award is a testament to Christopher’s quiet scholarship as an editor, and a symbol of the continuing significance of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium.”

Christopher Tolkien said: “Although I have never looked for anything remotely of such a kind, I find it especially welcome to receive the Bodley Medal in that it affirms the unique significance of my father’s creation and accords a worthy place in the Republic of Letters to Tolkien scholarship. It gives me particular pleasure that the award comes from and is conceived by the Bodleian, where a great part of my father’s manuscripts lie and where I have happy memories of the great library itself.”

(5) HARASSMENT AT WFC. Jason Sanford revealed the committee was called upon to handle a harassment issue at this weekend’s World Fantasy Con.

Lucy A. Snyder also wrote a public Facebook post.

So I just returned from WFC, where some women experienced harassment: street harassment from rando men that convention organizers had no control over, and at-con harassment courtesy of a local fan who has a documented history of bad behavior (the convention organizers appeared to take the harassment report seriously and appeared to handle it as per their policy, but I question why they’d sell a membership to someone who is known to be a problem.)…

Snyder added in a comment:

I know he harassed at least one woman, because she told me and I escorted her to con ops so she could make the report. In the instance I know about, he did it in front of a male witness (who filed a corroborating report), so I strongly suspect there were other instances that I don’t know about and/or didn’t get reported.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY FANDOM

  • Born October 31 1930 – British fandom. That is fanhistorian Rob Hansen’s pick for the date it all began. Click to see the newspaper report of the meeting from the Ilford Recorder.

On Monday October 27th, 1930, the Ilford Science Literary Circle held its inaugural meeting at 32 Thorold Road (which a check of contemporary electoral rolls shows to have been the home of George & Mary Dew), the first ever meeting of our first ever SF fan group. If British fandom has a birthday, this is it. Here is Gillings’ report on the outcome of the event. More details of how many were present and the like would have been useful, but Gillings’ primary intent is to proselytise:…

(7) ESFS AWARDS NOMINEES. At Europa SF, Nina Horvath has listed the 2016 nominees for 14 annual awards presented by the European Science Fiction Society.

I’m not excerpting any of the information here because a lot of the names include special characters that just turn into question marks on WordPress.  Boo!

(8) SERIES OF INTEREST. Ed Zitron profiles the late, lamented show beloved by many fans: “Person Of Interest Was Anti-Prestige TV And Too Smart For Primetime”.

First, let me tell you what Person of Interest is. Person of Interest is the inverse of Game of Thrones. For every shock death from the HBO’s version of George R.R. Martin’s book series, it had Kevin Chapman getting maced by a model and beaten up with a handbag. For every Game of Thrones setpiece that sent 49 bloggers into an ejaculatory frenzy over the ambiguous motives and bloodlines of royals, Person of Interest had a scene where Jim Caviezel kicks seven shades of shit out of the cardboard archetype of a bad person. It’s weird watching Jesus throttle people, but you know what, we’re all going to Hell anyway.

[Warning, reading this may spoil the show. But really, you could read an entire synopsis and the show would still be fantastic.]

Caviezel’s John Reese is a former CIA agent that you’re introduced to as a piss-stained, beardy hooch-swigging hobo sitting on a subway train. In one of the most satisfying scenes in TV history, a group of rich dickheads yell at him on the train and attempt to take his booze, which he clings to with an iron grip. He then proceeds to beat them up with his somehow-not-atrophied CIA skills before grabbing one around the throat and giving him the deep, angry stare of a man who uses his pants as a toilet and just wanted to enjoy his train booze in peace.

It’s a great introduction to the show in its purest sense. Peel back the layers of intrigue, spywork and social commentary, and you’ll still find a TV show that brings back the pure joy of seeing people you don’t like getting beaten up. There are no pretenses to prestige here.

(9) HE SCORES, HE WINS! James Davis Nicoll has the numbers to prove a point.

The following review sources managed to review as many works by persons of colour in 2015 as I did in Oct 2016.

Interzone 7
LARB 7

The following review sources failed to review as many works by persons of colour in 2015 as I did in Oct 2016. Note that the Big Three are listed.

NYRSF 6
F&SF 5
Analog 3
Asimov’s 3
SFS 2
Foundation 1
Rising Shadows 1

(10) SAY CHEESE! NPR reports “NASA’S New ‘Intruder Alert’ System Spots An Incoming Asteroid”.

NASA pays for several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a nightly basis, looking for these objects. “The NASA surveys are finding something like at least five asteroids every night,” says astronomer Paul Chodas of JPL.

But then the trick is to figure out which new objects might hit Earth.

“When a telescope first finds a moving object, all you know is it’s just a dot, moving on the sky,” says Chodas. “You have no information about how far away it is. “The more telescopes you get pointed at an object, the more data you get, and the more you’re sure you are how big it is and which way it’s headed. But sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to make those observations.

“Objects can come close to the Earth shortly after discovery, sometimes one day, two days, even hours in some cases,” says JPL’s Davide Farnocchia. “The main goal of Scout is to speed up the confirmation process.”

(11) WHEN GENIUSES PLAY WITH SHARP OBJECTS. Here what NASA’s JPL brings to jack o’lantern design:

Carving pumpkins may not be rocket science – but that hasn’t stopped Nasa engineers.

Scientists at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab held their annual contest to create the best pumpkin this week.

Entries included a gourd inspired by Star Wars villain Darth Vader, and two pumpkins dressed as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton being hit by a meteor.

Motors, robotics and lights all featured heavily.

(12) COSTUMES FOR WHEELCHAIRS. About half a dozen photos here illustrating how wheelchairs are converted to vehicles of kids’ dreams.

Halloween is big business and when you use a wheelchair you want your outfit to pack a punch when you go trick-or-treating.

In America, Ryan Weimer and his wife Lana, have tapped into that market by providing children with the 3D costumes of their imaginations.

Costing between $2,000 and $4,000 each, a team of volunteers spend about 120 hours building the costumes which range from aeroplanes to dragons.

wheelchair-tie-fighter

(13) HALLOWEEN TREE. Ray Bradbury tells how the “Halloween Tree” novel and animated film came about.

(14) RAY’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY. John King Tarpinian visited Ray Bradbury’s grave today, bringing some gifts and decorations.

Every Halloween I pay a visit to the Westwood Cemetery where Ray Bradbury is at rest.  I had the custom trick or treat bag made and filled it with Clark Bars, Ray’s favorite.  The little pumpkin shaped stone I luckily found yesterday from a bead shop I was dragged to by a visiting out of town friend.  The pumpkins were brought by one of Ray’s theatrical actors, Robert Kerr.

bradbury-halloween-2-min

bradbury-haloween-headstone-min

(15) BOO PLATE SPECIAL. Someone’s Cthulhu license plate attracted a crowd at World Fantasy Con.

(16) SILLY SYMPHONY. And here’s your musical accompaniment of the day:

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 3/30/16 I Was Thinkin ‘Bout A Pixel That Might Have Scrolled Me, And I Never Knew

(1) BIOPSY REPORT. Some good Kathryn Cramer health news. She posted to her Facebook page, after her Monday brain surgery.

“Tumor biopsied: it is benign.”

(2) MARYLAND WINNER. Andy Duncan is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council 2016 Individual Artist Award in the fiction-writing category.

These awards recognize the exceptional artistic achievements of talented artists from across the state.

This year’s IAA awards, totaling $218,000, go to 96 artists working within the disciplines of Creative Non-Fiction/Fiction, Media/Digital/Electronic Arts, Theater Solo Performance, Painting, and Works on Paper.

Selected from more than 585 applicants, the 2016 awardees receive grants for $1,000, $3,000 or $6,000 to honor their achievement and to support further advancement of their career.

Recipient artists’ names are available here.

(3) AUTHORS WHO ARE NOT GETTING PAID. Anna Grace Carpenter writes about — Galaktika Magazine: Theft on a Massive Scale”.

On March 23, 2016, Bence Pintér published an article at Mandiner Magazine regarding numerous stories published by Galaktika Magazine in 2015 – most of them translated and reprinted without the knowledge or consent of the original authors…..

I first became aware of the unfolding story when an author acquaintance on Twitter began urging other authors to check and see if their work had also been stolen and pointed them to the thread at the Absolute Write Water Cooler which in turn linked to a FaceBook post by Sean Wallace (shared by Ellen Datlow) which contained the link to Bence Pintér’s article at Mandiner. There was also a link to the Galaktika website, which I followed and began looking through the bibliography. (Possibly the only word I am able to recognize in Hungarian.)

As I looked through the TOC for monthly magazines, I immediately began to recognize names and I reached out to a couple that I followed on Twitter.

Aliette DeBodard was the first to respond. I asked her about the translation and publication of her short story “Shipbirth” (Asimov’s Feb 2011) that had appeared in the June 2012 issue of Galaktika. She confirmed that it had been published without her consent and she had contacted them when she became aware. That inquiry was apparently ignored – the editor made no attempt to offer compensation for having printed her story, and, from what she can see reviewing the email at the time, did not bother to respond at all….

No one wants to see a magazine disappear, especially in a country with only a couple Hungarian language SF/F markets, but if that publisher is depending on either stealing or otherwise acquiring work for free, I think they are doing more damage than good. Especially now that it’s become apparent that this is not an occasional problem, but habitual theft of intellectual property.

I asked Mr. Pintér if the publisher had responded to the allegations of theft and he said they had declined to comment on the matter during a separate interview. “After that they sent an email, which is in the article. The boss said that “the area of copyrights is a complicated stuff”. Since then no word from them.”

(4) OCCASIONALLY FREE IS OK. Jim C. Hines is not keen on “Working For Exposure”. Ordinarily.

There are exceptions, of course. I’ve written free content for projects I believe in, for friends and people I like, and for the pure fun of it. But if all you’re offering is exposure, I get plenty of that here on the blog. And to be blunt, my time is valuable, and I only have a limited amount. Writing for you takes time that could otherwise go to other projects, or to hanging out with my family, or even to raking up the leaves and sticks in the back yard.

I’m pretty comfortable at this point with the idea that as a writer, I deserve to be paid. (Though I still struggle with interviews sometimes, depending on where the interview is supposed to appear and how much time will be involved.)

But what about non-writing stuff? I’m sometimes asked to speak at schools, or to present at libraries, or do talk about writing at a workshop. What about a half-hour Skype chat with a book club? Or speaking at the local NaNoWriMo kickoff event? …

(5) SIGNAL INTERVIEW. At SF Signal, Carl Slaughter interviews “Professor Tom Greene on Racism, Hard Science, Vampire Literature, and Hard Lessons about Writing”.

But of course none of my students ever believe me, and I was just the same. I spent more than 20 years writing unpublishable stories while vigorously not listening to people who tried to tell me what was wrong.

So around 2006 I finally accepted that it was a problem with my writing and not the publishing industry, which made it possible for me to begin trying to figure out what the problem was. This is where Critters.org was a big help. The revelation (that I’ve mentioned in other places) happened one day when I was critiquing another writer’s story. It wasn’t a bad story. The writing was competent and the central idea was interesting. But I didn’t really care about the character, and the character seemed to be doing things that didn’t make much difference, and I probably wouldn’t have read the story at all if I didn’t have to critique it.

Which, I realized, was exactly like all of my own stories.

So once that happened, I started working systematically on the problem of how to make a story more engaging. Within a couple of years, my stories started getting published.

(6) NINE’S TO BLAME. No wonder it’s been hiding! According to the Independent — “Planet Nine: Mysterious planet is to blame for mass extinctions of life on Earth, scientists claims”.

The mystery of the extinction events that happen every 27 million or so years is an equally long-investigated and mysterious problem. Nobody is really clear why the comets tend to arrive on such an apparently regular schedule — but potential other explanations include a companion star to our own sun or extra risk as we travel through the spiral arms of the Milky Way.

But the new theory suggests that if the idea of the periodic extinctions is true, then it may be that the particular orbit of Planet 9 is to blame. It proposes that as the planet moves around the solar system, it passes through the Kuiper Belt — an area of the outer solar system full of icy objects — every 27 million years, knocking comets towards us and into the inner solar system.

Once they arrive there, they can smash into the Earth and reduce the sunlight getting to us, potentially leading to the extinction events, the researchers claim.

(7) DEALING WITH HB2. North Carolina convention IllogiCon has posted this statement on Facebook.

Given the advent of that atrocious affront to humankind that is HB2, we wanted to make sure all our members would be safe and comfortable in our usual hotel. We reached out to them, and got this lovely response:

“Our bathrooms will be running as normal as years past. You will not expect anything different from the staff at the Embassy Suites regarding bathrooms. If any of your guests feel uncomfortable using our public restrooms they are welcome to use the bathrooms near the pool area. They serve as family style restrooms, have only one stall, and are lockable from the inside. I hope this helps because we love having you with us.”

Pee as thou wilt, people.

*To clarify for those who have never been to illogiCon before, “running as normal” means the hotel does not monitor bathroom use nor does it enforce use of one bathroom over another.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 30, 1945 – Eric Clapton. This birthday boy has had his music in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Men in Black.

(9) ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. Another trailer from Official Disney.

(10) PRINT IS HERE TO STAY. From his vantage in 1961, The Traveler explains to readers of Galactic Journey why visual media won’t be driving printed sf/f to extinction.

All this hubbub is silly.  There are two reasons why printed sf/f isn’t going anywhere, at least for the next few decades.  The first is that the quality isn’t in the films or television shows.  Sure, there are some stand-outs, like the first season of The Twilight Zone, and the occasional movie that gets it right, but for the most part, it’s monsters in rubber suits and the worst “science” ever concocted.

But the second reason, and this is the rub, is the sheer impermanence of the visual media.  If you miss a movie during its run, chances are you’ve missed out forever.  Ditto, television.  For instance, I recently learned that an episode of Angel (think I Love Lucy, but with a French accent) starred ex-Maverick, James Garner.  I’m out of luck if I ever want to see it unless it happens to make the summer re-runs.

(11) EASTERCON FAN FUND ACTION. Jim Mowatt announced —

Fan funds auction at Eastercon raised 866 pounds to be split equally between Taff and Guff. Many thanks everyone helping at the auction; Kylie Ding, Carrie Mowatt, Fishlifter Claire, James Shields, Douglas Spencer, Fionna o Sullivan, Mary Burns, Anna Raftery. Also all the people who donated things and bought things. The fan funds continue to exist because of you folks.

(12) FUTURE PUPPIES. Brandon Kempner begins to collate his numbers in “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 3”.

Does this estimate tell us anything, or is it just useless fantasizing? I can see people arguing either way. What this does is narrow the range down to something somewhat sensible. We’re not predicting Ann Leckie is going to get 2000 votes for Best Novel. We’re not predicting she’s going to get 100. I could predict 450-800 and then match that against the 220-440 Rabid Puppies prediction. That would tell me Leckie seems like a likely nominee.

We can go destroy this prediction if we make different assumptions. I could assume that the new voters to the Hugos won’t vote in anything like typical patterns, i.e. that they are complete unknowns. Maybe they’ll vote Leckie at a 75% rate. Maybe they’ll vote her 0%. Those extremes grate against my thought patterns. If you know Chaos Horizon, I tend to chose something in the middle based on last year’s data. That’s a predictive choice I make; you might want to make other ones.

(13) RABID POPPINS. Vox Day is a bit touchy about Chaos Horizon’s estimates that Rabid Puppy performance may not be statistically perfect in every way — “Rabid Puppies 2016: updates and estimates”.

I, personally, consider this to be an inadvertent affront. I would be surprised if only 80 percent of the Rabid Puppies could be bothered to show up and nominate….

What Chaos Horizon means by “slate decay” is a simple failure of discipline. Last year, for example, far more Puppies submitted nominations in Best Novel than in other, less important categories or went lone ranger on occasion. And while I can’t see what slate decay could possibly have to do with what is merely a list of recommendations, and by no means a direct order to anyone, least of all the Rabid Puppies, the Sad Puppies, the Ilk, the Dread Ilk, the Vile Faceless Minions, or the Evil Legion of Evil, by their Supreme Dark Lord, I do think one would be remiss were one to fail to fill out the entire nominating ballot.

(14) HOLD ONTO YOUR WALLETS. Twentieth Century Fox announced Alien Day, a global celebration of the Alien franchise on April 26. IGN reports —

The date 4/26 is of course a nod to LV-426, the planet from the Alien films. The day will have nationwide screenings of the movies, the release of never-before-seen products, and the start of the Alien: Ultimate Trivia Challenge, which will allow fans to win prizes every 42.6 minutes on Twitter.

Reebok is releasing the Alien Stomper worn by Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, and the mid tops worn by Lance Henriksen as the Android Bishop.

There will also be a Lieutenant Vasquez and Newt figure from NECA, as well as a Kenner-toy inspired Ellen Ripley figure. More figures come in the form of an Aliens Queen & Power Loader and Ripley set in Funko’s ReAction series.

As for literature, Dark Horse Comics will feature exclusive covers at participating retailers for the ongoing Aliens series, and a deluxe 30th anniversary hardcover version of the original Aliens series from 1986. Meanwhile, Titan Books is launching a brand new novel, Alien: Invasion (The Rage War book 2) by Tim Lebbon.

(15) STRONG SIGNAL. SF Signal’s new Mind Meld, curated by Paul Weimer, delivers “Our Recent Faves from the Lighter Side of the Genre”.

Q: What books have you read, especially recently, that you’d recommend to others as a temporary vacation from the slings and arrows of our current world?

Melinda M. Snodgrass, Sue Burke, Rene Sears, Lyda Morehouse, Mari Ness, Kat Howard, Kelly Robson, Valerie Valdes, Charlie Jane Anders, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Ursula Vernon, Penny Reeve, and Erin Lindsey name those titles.

(16) NEOLOGIZER ROLL CALL. Popular words invented by authors (infographic)” Kate Funk has created a visual that puts together the words coined by authors and used for the first time in their books.

Will R. says, “Who knew Dr. Seuss invented ‘nerd’? Cyberspace is about as scifi as it gets here. Grok would have been a good one to include.”

(17) SPECTRAL POLITICS. Vox Day also is at work on a non-Hugo sekrit projectRelativity and the ideological spectrum – involving a 9-point scale of political figures. Readers were asked to chime in.

One is extreme left, nine is extreme right. The goal is to clarify, not obscure or start arguments, so leave Hitler and anyone else likely to spark debate out of it.

  1. Vladimir Lenin
  2. Karl Marx
  3. Angela Merkel
  4. Bill Clinton
  5. John F. Kennedy
  6. George W. Bush
  7. Ronald Reagan
  8. Thomas Jefferson
  9. Ayn Rand

I have to say, among the readers’ suggestions brentg’s are my favorites, even if he disobeyed the instruction to stop at nine.

  1. brentg

1. Windows 7
2. Windows XP
3. WFW 3.11
4. Windows 2000, sp3+
5. Windows 98 SE
6. Dos622
7. Windows 95
8. Windows98
9. Windows ME
10. Mac

  1. brentg

1. ungoliant
2. morgoth
3. sauron
4. sauraman
5. eol / feanor
6. tom bombadill
7. galadrial
8. gandalf
9. aragorn
10. boromir

(18) SCANNERS. A 1937 letter features in “Otto Binder on John W. Campbell” by Doug Ellis at Black Gate.

The letter is primarily of interest due to its discussion of John W. Campbell, a few months before Campbell would become editor of Astounding. It’s a shame that no more detailed record of the story telling game played at Binder’s house between him, Dr. John Clark, Frank Belknap Long, Campbell and Campbell’s wife exists; it would have been fascinating to sit in on this! Binder is clearly a fan of Campbell’s fiction (later on, when he found it difficult to sell to him at Astounding, he was not nearly as much a fan of his editing).

(19) IT’S ABOUT TIMES. John Scalzi tells about “My New Writing Gig”.

So here’s a cool thing: I, along with nine other folks, am one of the Los Angeles Times’ book section’s “Critics at Large.” This means from time to time in the pages of the Times, I’ll be writing about books, the universe and everything.

(20) DEADPOOL. Tom Knighton received word that a Special Edition Deadpool DVD is in the works. The release is quoted at his site.

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about this.  “Director’s Cut” could be awesome.  Then again, ramping it up to NC-17 could go either way.  Still.

(21) WHEN WINDOWS 95 WAS YOUR FRIEND. At BrainJet, “This Windows 95 Infomercial Stars Two ‘Friends’ And It’s The Best ‘90s Throwback Ever”.

While Microsoft would like to have us believe that it’s the actors “Jen” and “Matty” (Jen’s cutesy little nickname for Matthew Perry) starring in the video, we all know they’re really playing their “Friends” characters “Rachel” and “Chandler” without saying so in case NBC decides to sue. Not only is Aniston rocking the Rachel haircut and primping and fluffing every chance she gets, but Perry plays Chandler to a T, cracking bad joke after bad joke and letting no silence go unfilled. He even refers to the receptionist as the “wicked witch of Windows 95” (one of his better one-liners if you ask us).

 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Hartwell Memorials Planned

David Hartwell’s funeral will be held January 28 in Marshfield, MA at the MacDonald Funeral Home. More details at the link.

Kathryn Cramer has asked that those planning to attend RSVP her so she can know the number coming.

Cramer wrote online she plans to be at Boskone and the ICFA (International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts) convention, March 16-20, in Orlando, and other conventions to memorialize Hartwell.

Tor Books is also planning a memorial in New York City at a later date, to be announced.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 1/21/16 Babylon Hive

(1) RULES OF FASHION. Mary Robinette Kowal knows the inside story about “David Hartwell’s sartorial splendor 1941-2016”.

David was a fashion junkie. I know– I know exactly what you’re thinking. That a man who would wear paisley and pinstripes is not an example of sartorial sense. But wait. He collected haute couture pieces. Those jackets, terrifying ties, shirts, and trousers had been the height of fashion when it was produced.

He might spend years tracking one down. Often, he was wearing them in combinations that the designer had actually intended. When I saw him at conventions after that, we didn’t talk fiction. He would tell me the story behind whatever pieces he was wearing and talk about the designer and the theory behind why this particular combination had been fashionable in its day. He wasn’t buying clothes because they were tacky; he was buying them because he was enjoying this whole meta-conversation about fashion and taste.

(2) YOUR OWN SPACESHIP. SF Signal’s new Mind Meld, curated by Paul Weimer, poses these questions —

Q: Congratulations. You can take a trip on, or if you prefer, captaincy of, the spacecraft of your own choice from genre literature. The only catch is–it can’t be the Millennium Falcon or the Firefly. Rey and Mal refused to give up their ships. What spacecraft would you want to own, or travel on? Why?

The answers come from Amanda Bridgeman, K.V. Johansen, Jay Garmon, Alexandra Pierce, Julia Rios, Joshua Bilmes, Josh Vogt, Brenda Cooper, Jacey Bedford, Laurel Amberdine, L. M. Myles, and Angela Mitchell.

(3) ONE CREEPY LANE. J.J. Abrams is a busy man. His movie 10 Cloverfield Lane is coming to theatres March 11. Esquire writer Michael Sebastian summarizes what the trailer reveals about its story.

The movie stars John Goodman, whose character is living in a bunker with what appears to be his family. There’s a nostalgic sheen to the setting, and it’s reminiscent of the hatch in the Abrams co-created TV show Lost. It’s unclear whether they’re stuck in the bunker because of what happens in Cloverfield, when a giant monster wreaks havoc on New York City. The movie is told through what is said to be found footage of the disaster.

 

(4) HUGO RULES IDEA. Jonathan Cowie’s solution for what he feels is broken in the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form category is, ironically, to undo the change that was made to fix the category in the first place, and go back to voting for series as a whole.

A possible suggested solution? My suggestion actually would not impact on Hugo nominators and voters in any way! As far as they would be concerned they would carry on nominating and voting on the short-list in the usual way as if nothing had changed.  But what would change would be the way the nominations were treated: both the series and the episode titles would be counted differently.

Here, with nominations, a nominator could nominated episodes from five separate series or, at the other end of the extreme, for five episodes from the same series, or any mix in-between just as nominators can do now. (And ‘yes’, I know that the nominating rules are about to change but for now I want to keep this simple.)  The change would be in the way these nominations were counted.  Nominators would get just one vote per series they nominate. This means that if you voted for four episodes of Star Trek and one of Tripped then that would only  count for one vote each for Star Trek and Tripped (two series votes — one for Star Trek and one for Tripped — even though four episodes of Star Trek were nominated).  At this first nomination stage we would only be considering series (not episodes).  In this specific way the series with the most votes would get on the short-list ballot with nominators effectively getting just one vote per  series they nominate.  Ignoring episode titles at this stage, and considering only series (be they TV or web series or even short films), would ensure that the ballot had on it a list of different series with no duplicates.  In other words all the series on the ballot would reflect the numbers of people nominating series (and not, as is now, the numbers nominating different episodes of the same series).

Then, with the next stage of finalising the shortlist would come the individual episode part.  At this stage we have just a list of series and an episode title needs to be associated with each. However some series may have had more than one episode nominated. Here, all those that nominated for series on the short-list would have their nominations for all  their individual episode titles counted: again, one vote per  episode title.  And so, to continue with our example, all  our nominator’s four Star Trek episodes would all be counted and each episode title get one vote.  Of all the nomination forms submitted, the individual episode with the most nominations for any single series is the one that gets on the ballot.

This would mean that the Hugo for Dramatic Presentation Short Form nominations would better reflect the diversity of televisual SF that exists with a range of different series always ending up being on the short-list final ballot and then with the most popular episode at the nomination stage associated with each one.

(5) KUSHNER REMEMBERS. So many fine reminiscences about David Hartwell are being posted. Here is an excerpt from Ellen Kushner’s:

I quit that job to write my first novel. When I finished Swordspoint, no one in the field would touch it but David. While my agent tried selling it mainstream, David said he would be there waiting (then at Arbor House) if that failed. I joked that it was just his revenge on me for quitting on him – to get me back in his clutches – but they were fine clutches to be in. He made sure my little ms. was read by the likes of Samuel R. Delany, and he proudly told me he was getting me a Thomas Canty cover, knowing that was my ultimate dream…

(6) DONATIONS REQUESTED. Kathryn Cramer, grateful for the care David Hartwell was given at a local hospital, asks people to make a contribution

Though David was on a respirator for an extended period of time, Elizabethtown Community Hospital in Elizabethtown, NY does not have a mechanical respirator of its own. A wonderful nurse whose name I didn’t catch or have forgotten spent FIVE HOURS, yes FIVE FUCKING HOURS, compressing a blue rubber bulb that substituted for the action of David’s diaphragm. They took wonderful, compassionate care of him, and this is not a complaint about the service.

Rather, if you are thinking of David tonight and wish you could have done something, please follow THIS LINK http://www.ech.org/make-a-contribution.html and make a donation earmarked to buy ECH its own mechanical respirator.

ECH is a small, rural hospital. They do not own their own respirator. Rather, there is a shared one that travels from one facility to another.

David did not die for lack of a respirator. Nothing could have saved him. But please, as you think of him this evening, think not just of David, but of the matter of the nurse who was his lungs Tuesday night. I am deeply grateful to her. But what she did should not have been needed.

Based on my experience of the past few days, it is my considered opinion that NO HOSPITAL IN AMERICA SHOULD BE WITHOUT ITS OWN RESPIRATOR.

This is the 21st century. We can do this.

(7) IS COSPLAY IMPERILED? The lawsuit is about copyright protection for cheerleading uniforms, however, Public Knowledge in “Cosplay Goes to the Supreme Court” says the decision could have consequences for recreation costumers. Truth or clickbait?

Yes, you read that right: the Supreme Court of the United States may get to decide the legal status of all those Jedi robes you’ve got squirreled away. The Supreme Court is considering a case that will set the standard for when clothing and costume designs can be covered by copyright—and when people who mimic them (such as costumers) can be sued for potentially enormous damages.

The parties to the case, Star Athletica and Varsity Brands, both design cheerleading uniforms. Varsity claims that major portions of their designs are entitled to copyright protection, while Star Athletica points out (and is backed up by a long line of caselaw) that clothing designs are explicitly exempted from copyright. Their arguments rest on different interpretations of a legal concept known as “separability”—a topic so abstract and murky that even seasoned copyright lawyers avoid it.

To understand the case and its impact, you need to keep in mind two things. First, copyright protects creative works. It does not protect what it calls “useful articles,” or items which are designed purely for utility. Copyright protects a statue; it does not protect the chisel….

All of which brings us back to cosplay. If the Supreme Court decides on a test that gives a lot of leeway for “original” designers to sue others for infringing on the “look” of their clothing, costumers are left right in the crosshairs. And copyright damages can be positively massive, running up thousands of dollars per infringement. Public Knowledge will be filing in support of Star Athletica’s petition before the Supreme Court, highlighting the scope of hobbyists and consumers that the ruling could impact.

(8) TERMINATED. Don’t be looking for a second Terminator 2. Be happy with the one you had. Yahoo! Movies explains, “A Sequel To ‘Terminator Genisys’ Is Likely Dead In The Water, But That’s Okay”.

Hollywood loves reboots and prequels so much right now that they want them to make love and create preboots. Yes, preboots. Something to kickstart cash cows back into delivering that sweet sweet franchise milk. Prometheus is kind of a good preboot, X-Men: First Class was great, but Terminator: Genisys was the motion picture equivalent of Budnick holding onto your waist and spending your arcade cash (except more confusing). That’s probably why the sequel to the prequel reboot (presequeboot?) that was unfathomably titled Terminator 2, has been removed from Paramount’s release calendar.

(9) ELLISON VOICES GAME. The game originally created in 1995 can now be played on a phone. “I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream is now on mobile” reports Jeffrey Matulef on Eurogamer.net.

Based around the Harlan Ellison short story of the same name, I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the last five humans are immortal and forever tortured by a supercomputer that wiped out humanity 109 years ago. You play as all five survivors as they confront the various psychological and physical tortures bestowed upon them by their sadistic, sentient captor.

You can play each chapter in any order and there are multiple endings available. You can also change the graphics and sound by choosing different audio and visual filters and new touch-based control inputs are available as well….

This time out Night Dive, who now owns the rights to the game, joined forces with mobile porting company DotEmu, who previously ported Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition, The Last Express and Double Dragon Trilogy.

I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream costs £2.99 / $3.99 on iOS and Android.

Game play is reviewed in this video from Monsters of the Week by RagnarRox.

(10) ASIMOV ANALOGY. New Republic contributor Jeet Heer, who was quoted here in a Hugo roundup last year, has worked a classic sf reference into his recent speculation about Trump’s appeal within his own party.

Trump, on the other hand, is so anomalous a figure that the GOP establishment can console themselves with the knowledge that he leads no faction. Even if he wins the nomination, Trump can be safely relegated to the category of a one-off, a freak mutation, never to be repeated. Trump would be like the character The Mule, in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels. In the schema of Asimov’s far future science-fiction series, The Mule is a galactic conquerer who throws history off the course that it was expected to take, but the changes he introduces are ultimately minor because he has no successor.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 21, 1789 – The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy, is published in Boston. (Apparently it wasn’t banned in Boston – think how much that would have helped sales.)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 21, 1938 – Robert “Wolfman Jack” Smith. My friend, “Imponderables” author David Feldman, ran Wolfman Jack’s campaign for president, once upon a time.

For President Wolfman Jack

(13) LOCAL FOSSIL MAKES GOOD. I’m a bit skeptical about the idea of a “Welsh dinosaur” – especially one that avoided being turned into coal. But the BBC feels perfectly comfortable writing headlines like “Welsh dinosaur named ‘dragon thief’”.

A 201-million-year-old dinosaur that fell out of a cliff face at Penarth in South Wales in 2014 has been formally named as Dracoraptor hanigani.

Loosely translated, the Dracoraptor part means “dragon thief”; hanigani honours Rob and Nick Hanigan – the two fossil-hunting brothers who found it.

In a new analysis, scientists say the specimen is possibly the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur from the UK.

(14) PUN CONTENT WARNING. Fresh from reading about the Puppy characterization of Damien G. Walter’s grant, James H. Burns saw that Blackpool is to stage a ‘reimagining’ of the King Kong story, thanks to a £680,000 Arts Council grant and wondered if it was bananas to think this means King Kong is on the Dole…

He’ll be here all week, folks.

(15) OTHER MONKEY BUSINESS. The very last thing in Eric Robert Nolan’s “Throwback Thursday: Weird 1970’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ merchandise” is a book cover identifying Jerry Pournelle as the author of the novelization Escape From The Planet of the Apes. How did we forget that?

Finally, pictured below is a novelization of one of the movie’s sequels, “Escape From the Planet of the Apes” (1971).  I think I saw this among the disheveled paperback library that always occupied the back seat and back floor of my Dad’s car.  I saw Boulle’s source novel in that back seat once, with a weird minimalist art cover.  My Dad explained that it was “very different from the movie.”  Or I might have seen it on the floor of the closet I shared with my brother.  (That closet functioned according to trickle-down economics — the really cool stuff occasionally fell from his top shelf to the floor where I could grab it.)

(16) A LITTLE LIST. No, I am not going to be linking to many more of these, or really, any more of these, but I laughed when I saw Luther M. Siler’s headline – “Oh, why not: #Hugo awards eligibility post”.

Rumor has it that Hugo nominations are going to open up next week, and I have two– count ’em, two! different works that will be eligible for nomination.

(Yes, indie authors are eligible.  I checked.)

(17) ASPIRING SPACE TAILOR. Adam Savage has been talking recently about his desire to make one of the spacesuits from The Martian to add to his costume collection. And he convinced Fox to loan him one to take a look at first.

(18) ZOOLANDER/MOONRAKER MASHUP? It’s not just Adam Savage who wants to wear a spacesuit. In “To infinity and beyond: how space chic is ready for blast off”, The Guardian says all kinds of fashion designers are returning to 2001 — the film, that is.

At the men’s shows in Milan last week, astronauts appeared almost as often on the catwalk as the inevitable Bowie tributes. Versace produced a show dedicated, as Donatella said, to the future. The mood – all shiny white plastic – felt very 2001 (the film, not the year), especially when the show began with models running around the darkened catwalk in bright fibre-optic outfits, like those training for a mission. When the lights went up, Versace’s idea of an astronaut was earthbound, slick and boardroom-ready, probably with important financial reports rather than space food in his backpack-cum-jetpack. He wore a silver mac, or chunky bright white trousers and matching biker jackets, a bit like the fashion version of Buzz Lightyear’s outfit. A cropped leather jacket with Versace’s version of Nasa badges was another highlight of haute astronaut style.

One outfit in the accompanying photos has enough decorative pins on it to be Radch haut-couture.

(19) BINKS RECLAIMED. Chris Hallbeck’s Maximumble comic for January 21 has a new use for Jar-Jar Binks.

And after you read the comic, you’ll understand why it makes me think of this routine by Lily Singh –

[Thanks to Alan Baumler, Will R., Glenn Hauman, Lorcan Nagle, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

2015 APF Awards for Most Significant Futures Works

The Association of Professional Futurists has named the winners of its Most Significant Futures Works Awards.

The award is given for the “purpose of identifying and rewarding the work of professional futurists and others whose work illuminates aspects of the future.”

Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies 

thing from the futureThe Thing from the Future (link) The Situation Lab, game 

The Thing from the Future is an imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures. The object is to come up with the most entertaining and thought-provoking descriptions of hypothetical objects from different near-, medium-, and long-term futures by playing a card game. The four types of cards are: arc cards (possible futures), terrain cards (contexts, places, and topics), object and mood cards.

Research Foresights: The Use of Strategic Foresight Methods for Ideation and Portfolio Management (link) Ted Farrington, Keith Henson, & Christian Crews, article: Research-Technology Management, March/April 2012, pp.26-33

The authors describes a massive project that used a potpourri of strategic foresight methods – including an Internal Futures Audit, Weak Signals Environmental Scan, Implications Wheels,  Technology Forecast , Inductive Scenarios, Participatory Futures, and Point of View Options — carried out by a network of futurists to influence the strategic research agenda at Pepsico.

Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue 

Mutative Media: Communication Technologies and Power Relations in the Past, Present, and Futures; (link) James A. Dator, John A. Sweeney, and Aubrey M. Yee, monograph: Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

A monograph-length investigation into the nature of social change through the lens of how a range of communication technologies in a variety of cultural contexts has (and has not) impacted the mechanisms and flow of power. It offers four alternative futures, including narrative scripts used for experiential scenarios, and outlines the prototype of a hybrid, mixed-reality game within four very different environments and conditions.

Category 3:  Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works

about1Byologic/Zed.TO (link1 & link2) Trevor Haldenby, cross-platform narrative

“An 8-month narrative told in real-time through an integrated combination of interactive theatrical events and online content. It told the story of the beginning of the end of the world, from a viral pandemic created by ByoLogyc, a fictional Toronto-based biotech company.” They had 8 live events, involved 75 performers, 333 crowdfunders, 3,500 event participants, and 35,000 online engagements. The combination of live events, a fictional website (that looks quite “real”) and the use of social media, brought the future to life in a stunning fashion.

The Museum of Future Government Services (link) Noah Raford, Exhibit

The Museum of Future Government Services, launched at the Government Summit in Dubai, 2014, was perhaps the largest concerted effort by a public institution to create images of the future explicitly designed to shift policy conversations and accelerate innovation. The Museum was structured as an immersive, interactive experience that explored the future of key government services. Museum may be the world’s largest “design futures” exhibition to date (not counting Disney’s Epcot, for example).

hieroglyphProject Hieroglyph, Hieroglyph: Stories & Visions for a Better Future (link) Kathryn Cramer, Ed Finn, and Neal Stephenson; project

Project Hieroglyph at Arizona State University Center for Science and Imagination was inspired by Stephenson’s call for positive science fiction futures and resulted in this first anthology of short stories. Authors include Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and Karl Schroeder who aimed to write works of “techno-optimism” that “challenge us to do Big Stuff.”

The award judges are: Bob Treadway, Paul Tero, Oliver Markley, Elizabeth Rudd, Peter Bishop, Bob Frame, Josh Calder, Sam Miller, Kristin Alford, Terry Grim, Natalie Ambrose, Peter Padbury, and Devin Fidler.

[Via Michael J. Walsh.]

The Hugo’s the Thing, Whereby We’ll Touch the Conscience of the King

Most sf writers have never been on trading cards either, but they get a lot more worked up about their shot at winning a Hugo Award.

Today in a discussion on Lou Antonelli’s Facebook page Ej Shumak pointed out that right after the 2008 Hugos were given at Denvention 3, Kathryn Cramer made a list of 100+ writers who have never won a Hugo.

I have been irritated enough by discussions as to why more people under 40 haven’t won Hugos, that I have spent a few hours composing a list of people who you might think had won Hugos, or perhaps ought to have won a Hugo or two, or are just plain pretty good writers —— but haven’t won a Hugo. There are bestselling writers here, hall-of-famers, and at least one person who turned down the Nebula.

Looking over this list, I think it’s fair to say that most good writers in the science fiction and fantasy field have never won a Hugo Award.

It’s an impressive list. (Except Ray Bradbury never should have been on it – he won a Retro Hugo in 2004 for Fahrenheit 451.) And the passage of time since 2008 has done little to alter the status quo.

Only four of the writers named by Cramer have won any of the 60-70 Hugos given since then:

  • 2010: China Miéville. Best Novel: The City & the City
  • 2010: Peter Watts. Best Novelette: “The Island”
  • 2012: Kij Johnson. Best Novella: “The Man Who Bridged the Mist”
  • 2013: Pat Cadigan. Best Novelette: “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”