Pixel Scroll 10/26/16 The Tick Against the Box

(1) CAN’T STOP LOOKING. CinemaBlend’s Gregory Wakeman waited to finish his post about this Jar Jar Binks movie poster before gouging out his eyes…

(2) ADD THIS WORLDCON BID TO YOUR SCORECARD. Kevin Standlee reports that, at the request of this bid, he has added UK in 2024 to the Worldcon.org list of bids. The link is a Facebook page. Kevin notes, “They did say to me when they contacted worldcon.org that they plan to have an actual web site eventually as well, not just a Facebook page.”

(3) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. In “The Celebrity Campaign” on National Review Online, Kevin D. Williamson summarizes William Gibson’s Idoru and explains why Gibson’s work is important for understanding the vapid, celebrity-driven campaign we have this year.

(4) OCTOCON. Forbidden Planet bookstore’s correspondent James Bacon easily mixes dance with journalism: “Science Fiction in Ireland: James Reports from Octocon”.

Even though I finished work at 5.30AM in London on a mild autumnal Saturday morning, within a few hours I was in the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin’s city centre, amongst friends and fans at Octocon. The enthusiasm and excitement then carried me through until I hit the sheets at 4.30AM on Sunday morning, fed by the energy of the convention, dancing well past midnight and imbibing great cheer.

This year’s committee is youthful, bucking a trend with similar conventions in the UK, and possess a dynamism that brought together a nice programme, good fun social elements and of course overall a very enjoyable convention. The Guests of Honour, Diane Duaine and Peter Morward and Rhianna Pratchett, allowed much ground to be covered and attracted great audiences. With over two hundred people in attendance, the five-stream programme was busy.

(5) SETTING THE STUPID AFLAME. This Bradbury-related tweet went viral.

Here’s the text:

I love this letter! What a wonderful way to introduce students to the theme of Fahrenheit 451 that books are so dangerous that the institutions of society — schools and parents — might be willing to team up against children to prevent them from reading one. It’s easy enough to read the book and say, ‘This is crazy. It could never really happen,’ but pretending to present students at the start with what seems like a totally reasonable ‘first step’ is a really immersive way to teach them how insidious censorship can be I’m sure that when the book club is over and the students realize the true intent of this letter they’ll be shocked at how many of them accepted it as an actual permission slip. In addition, Milo’s concern that allowing me to add this note will make him stand out as a troublemaker really brings home why most of the characters find it easier to accept the world they live in rather than challenge it. I assured him that his teacher would have his back.

(6) REMAINS OF THAT DAY. The demolition of Ray Bradbury’s house inspired Joshua Sky’s Omni story “The House Had Eyes”.

The exterior was yellow with a brown triangle thatched roof and a thin brick chimney. The windows had been destroyed—the frames, like the living room, were gutted. Their remains tossed into a large blue dumpster resting on a hillside covered in dying grass. All that was left were two large cragged square shaped holes that bore inward yet outward all at once. Inward, laid the wisps of soot polished ruin. Hardwood floors, a mantle, masonry, some shelves and dust. Outward—the structure telepathically transmuted its emotions of loss and sorrow. She knew she was dying.

I was transfixed, my eyeballs locked with the house’s. It was like something straight out of a Bradbury story! My hands tightly gripped the fence, chain-links dug into my finger tendons. Focused on the yellow lawn, my mind pictured a phantom montage of Bradbury, time-lapsed: Watering the grass. Reading on the steps. Puttering about. Stalking the sidewalks. Talking to the neighbors. Talking to himself. Writing. Staring at the sky. Staring at the stars. Staring beyond. Marveling in awe. Downright dreaming—of rockets and Martians and technicolored time travelers.

It all felt so cosmically unfair. Why’d they have to tear it down? Why’d they have to piss on a legacy? It felt like we were all losing something—even if we didn’t know it. That our country—the people—the vanishing literate—were losing not only a landmark, but a sense of our collective wonderment. That we were continuing a bad trend that had no hint of ending—swapping our heritage for a buck. That’s the American way some would say. Some—maybe—but not all.

(7) FROM VELOUR TO MONSTER MAROON. With Halloween just around the corner, Atlas Obscura offers guidance to cosplayers: “How to Read The Secret Language of Starfleet Uniforms”.

It’s Halloween time again, and as it has been for the past 50 years, a Star Trek costume is a safe bet for anyone looking to dress up. But do you want to be a Starfleet captain in 2268? A ship’s doctor in 2368? For the uninitiated, deciphering the language of colors and symbols that place you in the show’s universe is a crapshoot.

Luckily, Atlas Obscura is here to help, with a bit of cosplay codebreaking….

The most recent Star Trek television series, 2001’s Enterprise, was actually a prequel, taking place in the mid-2100s, and strangely, their uniforms take cues from every era of the Star Trek franchise. Taking place prior to the formation of the Federation Starfleet seen in later incarnations, the uniforms of the very first space-faring Enterprise, were once again standardized into a purple workman’s jumpsuit (echoing the red-washed uniforms of the later Original Series films). Position on the ship could be determined by the color of a seam that ran along the shoulder of the jumpsuit, with the colors corresponding to the original command gold, science blue-green, and operations red.

And then rank was indicated by the number of silver bars over the right breast, just like the pips used in The Next Generation. While not everyone’s favorite, this suit kind of had it all.

(8) NEXT AT KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series will present John Langan and Matthew Kressel, on Wednesday, November 16, beginning at 7p.m. in New York’s KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

John Langan

John Langan is author of two novels, The Fisherman and House of Windows.  He’s also published two collections, The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters.  With Paul Tremblay, he co-edited Creatures:  Thirty Years of Monsters.  He is one of the founders of the Shirley Jackson Awards and he currently reviews horror and dark fantasy for Locus magazine.

New and forthcoming are stories in Children of Lovecraft, The Madness of Dr. Caligari, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu, Swords v. Cthulhu, and Children of Gla’aki.  In February of 2017, his third collection of stories, Sefira and Other Betrayals, will be published by Hippocampus Press.

John Langan lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and teaches classes in creative writing and Gothic literature at SUNY New Paltz.  With his younger son, he’s studying for his black belt in Tang Soo Do.

Matthew Kressel

Matthew Kressel is the author of the novels King of Shards and the forthcoming Queen of Static. His short fiction has been twice nominated for a Nebula Award and has or will soon appear in such markets as Lightspeed, Nightmare, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, io9.com, Apex Magazine, Interzone, and the anthologies Cyber World, After, Naked City, The People of the Book.

From 2003-2010 he published and edited Sybil’s Garage, an acclaimed SF magazine. He also published the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities and for his publishing work, received a World Fantasy Award nomination for Special Award Non-Professional. He co-hosts the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series alongside Ellen Datlow. When not writing fiction he codes software for companies large and small, studies Yiddish (Nu?), and recites Blade Runner in its entirety from memory.

(9) NEW SF BOARD GAMES. In a piece on arstechnica.com called “Essen 2016: Best board games from the biggest board game convention”, Tom Mendlesohn reports from the International Spieltage convention in Germany, where most of the new board games have sf/fantasy content.

terraforming-mars

Terraforming Mars

FryxGames, 1-5 players, 90-120 mins, 12+

One of the most buzzworthy releases of the whole show, this title sold out by 3pm on the first day—a whole hour before Ars even arrived. The one table that FryxGames ran with a playable copy was booked every day. Fortunately, Ars US staffers already got their grubby little hands on the title and gave it a thorough—and hugely positive—review.

You’re playing as a futuristic global megacorp attempting, as the title suggests, to terraform Mars. Your tools are lots of plastic cubes, which track your resources and which are traded to in for asset cards, which get you more cubes. (The game is a total engine-builder.) Though the art isn’t terribly exciting, this is a terrific thinky Eurogame of interlocking systems and finding the most efficient ways to exchange one set of numbers for a higher set of numbers. 

(10) HE MADE IT SO. In a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle by Mike Moffitt called “The Real James T. Kirk Built the Bridge of the Enterprise – In the Sunset District” profiles a guy named James Theodore Kirk, who was born a month before Star Trek went on the air and who built a replica of the Enterprise in his house.  He also is a Trekker who once won a chance to meet William Shatner, but he was dressed as the villianous reptile Gorn and wouldn’t tell Shatner his name really was James T. Kirk.

Captain’s log, Stardate 21153.7: After straying into a wormhole, the Enterprise has somehow crash-landed on Earth in early 21st-century San Francisco. We are attempting to effect repairs from a location in the city’s Sunset District.

James T. Kirk commands the Starship Enterprise from the captain’s chair of the ship’s bridge, conveniently located in the back of his house in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset.

The bridge is equipped with a wall of computers blinking with colorful lights, a transporter room and the main viewer, which would toggle to show flickering stars, sensor data or the occasional Romulan or Klingon message demanding the Enterprise’s immediate withdrawal from the Neutral Zone.

There is even an “elevator” in the back that makes a “whoosh” just like the one on the classic 1960s show “Star Trek.” Of course, the bridge is not an exact duplicate of the show’s — it’s a smaller area, so the key fixtures are a bit crammed and the helmsmen seats are missing altogether. But the overall impression is clearly Mid-century Modern Starship.

(11) KUTTNER. You can find Stephen Haffner hawking his wares this weekend at World Fantasy Con. Or you can order online today!

Haffner Press does it again! In 2012 we included a newly discovered Henry Kuttner story—”The Interplanetary Limited”—in THUNDER IN THE VOID. Now, with the upcoming release of THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR: THE EARLY KUTTNER, VOLUME TWO, we are pleased as pandas (!) to announce we have discovered ANOTHER unpublished Henry Kuttner story!

MAN’S CONQUEST OF SPACE or UPSIDE-DOWN IN TIME is an early gag-story (featuring pandas) supposedly written for the fanzines of the 1930s. It likely predates Kuttner’s first professional sale in 1936. “And how can I get a copy?” you ask? Well, we made it simple. So simple that it’s FREE* if you place (or have already placed!) a PAID preorder for THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR: THE EARLY KUTTNER, VOLUME TWO. We’re printing a limited quantity of this new Kuttner story, so Do. Not. Delay.

(12) KEEP WATCHING. Martin Morse Wooster recommends an animated short, Borrowed Time.

A weathered Sheriff returns to the remains of an accident he has spent a lifetime trying to forget. With each step forward, the memories come flooding back. Faced with his mistake once again, he must find the strength to carry on.

“Borrowed Time” is an animated short film, directed by Andrew Coats & Lou Hamou-Lhadj, and produced by Amanda Deering Jones. Music by Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla.

 

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 10/23/16 Earth Scrolls Are Easy

(1) LE GUIN HEALTH NEWS. Ursula K. Le Guin, who was hospitalized for a few days this summer with heart problems, gave a health update in a comment at Book View Café on October 22.

The kindness of these messages is wonderful.  I wish I could thank you each. I can only thank you all with all my heart.

Health update: My daily bouquet of medicines with weird names is definitely doing its job.   Am quite recovered from the bad time, and get along fine if I don’t push it. My model of behavior is the Sloth.  Can’t hang from branches yet, but am real good at moving slo o o w w l y . . .

Best wishes to all my well-wishers.

(2) STARSHIPS IN OUR LIFETIME. Starship Engineer Workshops are being offered in London on November 12-13.

For further information or to book contact the team at: info@i4is.org  for more details.  For the full promotional flyer: http://i4is.org/app/webroot/uploads/files/SE_A4_Nov2016%20(AM)%20Vers%202.pdf

The Initiative for Interstellar Studies in collaboration with the British Interplanetary Society will deliver an updated Starship Engineer workshop course. Two one day courses, either attend one or both, each will be different and important in their own way.

12th November: Starship Engineer.  Aims to give a grounding in interstellar studies. It starts from considering the essential requirements to giving you an overview of different spacecraft systems, then takes you on a journey through several actual starship design studies. We use examples from the literature, but focus on two specific case studies, that of fusion and beamed-sail propulsion, as plausible ways by which we may someday reach the  stars.

13th November: Science Fiction Starships.  The works of science fiction literature have fascinating starship concepts, but how realistic are they? In this day course we will examine and evaluate the laser-sails in “The Mote in Gods Eye (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle), Torch Ships in “Time for the Stars” (Robert Heinlein), Quantum Ramjets in “The Songs of Distant Earth” (Arthur C Clarke) and other inspirational examples of interstellar vessels….

Principal Lecturers: Kelvin F. Longis a physicist and aerospace engineer, until recently Chief Editor Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, author of the book “Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to the Stars” and is the Executive Director i4is and a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory committee.

Rob Swinney is a former RAF Squadron Leader aerosystems engineer and is a Deputy Director of i4is. He, and Long, have both been involved in the creation and running of the only two modern starship design projects, Project Icarus (fusion) and Project Dragonfly (laser-sails).

(3) IN TRAINING. Kevin Standlee writes a lyrical post about taking the California Zephyr through the Sierras.

Speaking of the nice parts: the eastbound Zephyr includes some views through the Sierra Nevada that you don’t get on the westbound trip. For example, shortly after Colfax the train goes around “Cape Horn” with some spectacular views of the American River Canyon. Some of the trees have finally been cut back as well; for a while, they’d grown so thick that they cut off the vista, which was unfortunate. Eastbound you miss this because the normal eastbound track goes through a tunnel that custs off this corner with its precipitous view. I’m composing most of them while snaking our way up the mountain, but I can’t post it because on this stretch there is no cell phone signal. We’re on the opposite side of the mountains from the I-80 corridor where the cell phone towers are. Not that I mind. I’m mostly looking out the window. As a touch-typist, I don’t need to stare at the keyboard to write.

(4) NOT A TYPICAL ANALOG WRITER. Galactic Journey says Harry Harrison has finally registered on their radar screen –

Author Harry Harrison has been around for a long time, starting his science fiction writing career at the beginning of the last decade (1951).  Yet, it was not until this decade that I (and probably many others) discovered him.  He came into my view with the stellar Deathworld, a novel that was a strong contender for last year’s Hugo.  Then I found his popular Stainless Steel Rat stories, which were recently anthologized.  The fellow is definitely making a name for himself.

Harrison actually occupies a liberal spot in generally conservative Analog magazine’s stable of authors.  While Harry tends to stick with typical Analog tropes (psionics, humano-centric stories, interstellar hijinx), there are themes in his work which are quite progressive – even subversive, at least for the medium in which they appear.

For instance, there is a strong pro-ecological message in Deathworld.  I also detect threads of pacifism in Harrison’s works, not to mention rather unorthodox portrayal of women and sexual mores.  Harry isn’t Ted Sturgeon or anything, but he is definitely an outlier for Analog, and refreshing for the genre as a whole.

(5) ALMOST YOUR BIGGEST FAN. The Twitter user formerly known as Jim Henley knows how to pay a compliment.

(6) DILLON OBIT. Comics artist Steve Dillion died October 22 reports the BBC.

Steve Dillon, the legendary British comic book artist, known for his work on Preacher, Punisher, and 2000AD’s Judge Dredd has died aged 54.

His brother Glyn confirmed the death on Twitter, saying his “big brother and hero” had died in New York City.

Dillon was a prolific artist who began professional work at age 16, drawing for Marvel UK’s Hulk magazine.

He was best known for his US collaborations with writer Garth Ennis, creating classic cult comic titles.

In his Twitter profile, Dillon, originally from Luton, describes himself as: “A comic book bloke. Co-creator/Artist of Preacher. Co-founder/Editor of Deadline magazine. Artist on Punisher, Judge Dredd and many others.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born October 23, 1942  — Michael Crichton.

(8) YOUR EPIC IMAGINATION. James Davis Nicoll says it’s “Good news!” Dorothy J. Heydt’s The Interior Life (published under penname Katherine Blake) available again as a free ebook.

Go here for the download.

(9) DO YOU LIKE WHAT SMART PEOPLE LIKE? Ann Leckie keeps hitting them out of the park. Today’s topic: “On Guilty Pleasures”.

Or Romance. Romance isn’t one of my things, right, but let’s be honest, a crappy detective novel or a crappy SF or Extruded Fantasy Product is just as bad as a crappy Romance. When it’s SF we’ll protest that no, that’s just a bad one, the whole genre’s not like that, but Romance? Romance is just stupid, man.

Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that poor people like–or tend to buy or use because it’s cheap. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that teenage girls like, or women. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things we liked when we were kids.

I’m not saying that nothing can be criticized–there are surely bad Romance novels. Taylor Swift is a pretty good songwriter who has done some very admirable things, but she’s also had her less than admirable public moments. Velveeta doesn’t come out well in a comparison with really good cheese (unless its a competition for what will make the easiest mac & cheese, given only three minutes and a microwave to work with), and it’s probably not very good for you. I’m perfectly willing to criticize things I like, or consider criticism of those things, and still like them.

No, I’m talking about that weird, moral dimension to likes and dislikes. You like pumpkin spice anything? You should be ashamed. You should feel guilty, because you’re not supposed to like that, smart people don’t like that, people who like that have something wrong with them.

So much of what we like or dislike–what we’re publicly supposed to like or dislike–is functioning as in-group identifiers.

(10) HAN SOLO MOVIE CASTING. Donald Glover will play young Lando Calrissian, and YES he will wear a cape reports the Los Angeles Times.

Donald Glover is officially your new Lando Calrissian. Lucasfilm has announced that Glover will play the younger version of “Star Wars’” Cloud City administrator turned Rebel Alliance general in the upcoming standalone Han Solo film.

Glover will join Alden Ehrenreich, who was confirmed to play the young Solo during Star Wars Celebration in July.

According to the press release, the upcoming film will depict “Lando in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld — years before the events involving Han, Leia, and Darth Vader in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and his rise to Rebel hero in ‘Return of the Jedi.’”

(11) ACCELERATING HUMAN IMAGINATION IN ENGLAND. Did somebody think it wasn’t fast enough?

On November 24 and 25th on the campus of the University of Liverpool, London, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the University of Liverpool, London will host a workshop called Accelerating Human Imagination, bringing together a number of US and European experts in the study of imagination. They will be presenting and discussing new research on questions such as: What is “imagination?” Is there a singular basis of imagination that develops into a number of different phenomena, or do we use the word imagination to group together a number of aspects of behavior and cognition into a common category? If we can better understand imagination, we might be able to find ways of directly engaging it in order to accelerate its operation. What use might we put this accelerated imagination to?

(12) RAW SCIENCE FILM FESTIVAL. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is a  partner of the Raw Science Film Festival, which honors films on science and technology from around the world. The screening and award ceremony will take place on December 10, 2016, on the Fox Studio lot inside the historic Zanuck Theater. Sheldon Brown will be on hand to present the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination Prize in Speculative Media. The deadline for festival submissions is November 9.

(13) INDIE SHRINKS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress makes insightful speculations about the new author earnings report.

Interesting times, interesting results. After two and half years of constant growth, this time we see the first contraction for indie market share. Trad Pub’s big five showed a very slight gain in unit sales, but most of the market share went to Amazon’s own publishing arm, and a smaller amount to uncategorized single-author publishers (mostly indies).

On gross revenues, most of the lost market share went to small and medium publishers, with a smaller amount to amazon Pub.

Having the what, we’re left to speculate on the why, and how. Causes may include, but are not limited to: Amazon’s Kindle first program, pushing their own new releases; Bookbub’s increasing percentage of big and medium press slots as opposed to indies (and increased price raising the barrier to the fewer slots left); Amazon’s new promoted/sponsored search ads; consolidation of indies into small pubs; the stars being in the right configuration for C’thulu to rise from dead R’lyeh; other factors unknown at this time.

(14) SAY AHHHHH. Research shows “Migraine Sufferers Have More Nitrate-Reducing Microbes in their Mouths”.

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have found that the mouths of migraine sufferers harbor significantly more microbes with the ability to modify nitrates than people who do not get migraine headaches. The study is published October 18 by mSystems.

“There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines — chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates,” said first author Antonio Gonzalez, a programmer analyst in the laboratory of Rob Knight, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego and senior author on the study. “We thought that perhaps there are connections between what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines.”

Many of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines report an association between consuming nitrates and their severe headaches. Nitrates, found in foods such as processed meats and green leafy vegetables and in certain medicines, can be reduced to nitrites by bacteria found in the mouth. When circulating in the blood, these nitrites can then be converted to nitric oxide under certain conditions. Nitric oxide can aid cardiovascular health by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. However, roughly four in five cardiac patients who take nitrate-containing drugs for chest pain or congestive heart failure report severe headaches as a side effect.

(15) SQUINTING. Kevin Marks discusses “How the Web Became Unreadable”. Surprisingly, he’s not talking about all the political posts.

It’s been getting harder for me to read things on my phone and my laptop. I’ve caught myself squinting and holding the screen closer to my face. I’ve worried that my eyesight is starting to go.

These hurdles have made me grumpier over time, but what pushed me over the edge was when Google’s App Engine console—a page that, as a developer, I use daily—changed its text from legible to illegible. Text that was once crisp and dark was suddenly lightened to a pallid gray. Though age has indeed taken its toll on my eyesight, it turns out that I was suffering from a design trend.

There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

(16) HAGIOGRAPHY. Leonard Maltin interviews Stan Lee for Parade.

DINNER WITH DOCTOR STRANGE

When asked which three of his superheroes he would like to have dinner with, he takes a moment to think the question through. “I’d probably enjoy talking to Iron Man,” he says. “I’d like to talk to Doctor Strange. I like the Silver Surfer. Iron Man is sort of a classier Donald Trump, if you can imagine that sort of thing. The Silver Surfer is always philosophical; he comments about the world and man’s position in the universe, why we don’t enjoy living on this wonderful planet and why we don’t help each other.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/3/16 Con-Ticky

(1) HOOKED. When the Book Smugglers Quarterly Almanac leads with a title like this, it’s hard to resist ordering a copy whatever you may think about Harry Potter —

Excerpt: Characters Are Not A Coloring Book Or, Why the Black Hermione is a Poor Apology for the Ingrained Racism of Harry Potter

…I have felt as possessive about the Harry Potter canon as anyone I’ve ever met, so once again, when people are talking about Noma Dumezweni being cast as the adult Hermione, and the possibility that Hermione may not have been white in the first place, I can feel my (non-existent) entitlement begin to tickle. I have always been Hermione among my friends; it’s the rare character in which I saw myself reflected, validated in fiction; the character whose triumphs and losses were my own—surely no one else can have the last word on whether a black Hermione “feels right”? If it doesn’t feel right to me, there’s no way that can be retconned into the canon. That’s violating my childhood. I won’t have it.

Except that I was never a white girl myself. Through all my childhood years of hardcore Pottermania, I was a brown girl growing up in Calcutta, India.

(2) BIG-FOOTIN’ THE BIG-FOOTERS. The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield looks at the success of Godzilla Resurgence, which is the highest-grossing live-action film in Japan this year in part because Godzilla is now a symbol of a resurgent Japan that won’t take orders from America or anyone else anymore.

Now, in the wake of the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the theme takes on a different meaning. It is impossible to watch the flummoxed bureaucrats, the scenes of the boats being washed ashore and the fears of radiation without thinking of the tsunami that devastated the northeast coast of Japan five years ago.

When the United States suggests a nuclear strike on the monster, people object, saying that ­Tokyo will become a “zone that is difficult to return to” — using the same phrase applied to the area around Fukushima.

Kenji Tamaki, a journalist for the Mainichi newspaper, wrote that the film portrayed “the deep anxieties” of modern Japan and parodied a political elite in crisis.

“Interminable meetings, bureaucrats’ reports read in somnolent monotones, an emergency that just seems to go on and on and on,” he wrote in the left-leaning paper. “Echoes of real-life Japan circa spring 2011, when the government descended into chaos in the face of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.”

But the film also portrays a militarily stronger, more confident Japan. The prime minister, putting down the phone after speaking to the American president, mutters about how the United States is always giving orders.

(3) GLEICK BOOK REVIEWED. Thomas Levensen tells Boston Globe readers how “James Gleick looks at history, physics of time travel”. (Beware, this may disappear behind a paywall at some point).

In “Time Travel,’’ James Gleick has done a wonderful thing. The book delivers on the promise of its title: It dives deep into the science, the philosophy, and the imaginative writings that have explored whether human beings could journey into the future or the past — and what complications would follow if we could.

But this book shouldn’t be mistaken for a work of popular science; this is no “The Physics of Doctor Who.’’ Time-travel enthusiasts will certainly get the history, the basic physics, and a useful tour of the classic paradoxes of time travel and its implications. But the book pursues much greater ambitions as well.

Gleick — a preeminent science author and journalist for over four decades — has long explored some of this territory. Beginning with “Chaos,’’ published in 1987, and through six subsequent books, he’s played with heady ideas about determinism and free will, the pace of time, the physics of time, and more. Now in “Time Travel’’ those themes come to center stage as Gleick asks why, over the long century just past, we have so passionately pursued the idea of an escape from the relentless grip of time.

(4) FROM THE VAULT. Echo Ishii brings to light another ancient sf television series: “SF Obscure: Moonbase 3”.

I haven’t abandoned SF Obscure. In fact, good things may be on the horizon.

But a short note about two shows set on space stations Moonbase 3 and Space Island One.

Normally, when I consider shows set on space stations I immediately think of my two favorites Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine. Drama. Humans. Aliens. Interstellar Wars. It’s space opera and the closest I am likely to come to a soap opera. And the relationships: Worf /Jadzia; Sisko/Yates;Kira/Odo. And the epic Babylon 5 romance of Sheridan and Delen.

Moonbase 3  has no alien romance, I’m afraid, but lots of interesting science. This series was produced in 1973 by the BBC. The main reason I heard about it was because of the theme song by Dudley Simpson who also wrote the theme for Blake’s 7. It only lasted for six episodes-there wasn’t much  interest-but it’s good in the sense of looking back at how 1973 saw the future of space exploration….

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 3, 1955  — The children’s TV show Captain Kangaroo with Bob Keeshan in the title role was broadcast for the first time.

(6) WAR AND PEACE. Thanks to Kevin Standlee for pointing out that the WSFS Rules page (Constitution, Standing Rules, Ruling & Resolutions of Continuing Effect, Business Passed On to next year’s Worldcon, and the 145 page Minutes of the 2016 WSFS Business Meeting) are now online at the WSFS web site.

(7) NPR ON UPCOMING YA FANTASY. Caitlyn Paxson makes three recommendations, all with strong female leads:

The three books that caught my fancy this month look wildly different on the surface. Traci Chee’s The Reader follows multiple characters through a fantasy world where pirates sail the waves and a secret society seeks to hoard the written word. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova draws inspiration from Latin American cultures to offer up modern teen witches on a journey through the spirit realm, and Sarah Glenn Marsh’s novel Fear the Drowning Deep paints a portrait of a little fishing village in 1913, where people are disappearing and creatures out of Manx folklore may be to blame. They have different cultural influences and different types of narrative – so imagine my surprise when I began to feel like these three books were circling in the same orbit.

(8) DON’T MISS ‘EM. Lady Business recommends “60 Essential Science Fiction & Fantasy Reads”.

Science fiction and fantasy are booming across multiple types of media these days: television, superhero films with strong SFF elements, and gaming are all enjoying a solid boost from science fiction and fantasy concepts. But what types of stories led us to this excellent time to be a SFF fan? What books inspired and entertained us until we reached this moment? Here are 60 of some important and thought-providing texts from science fiction and fantasy’s long history.

These are books which many people loved, that created new fans, entertained old ones, or renewed someone’s love of genre. Perhaps they even led some of the authors we love today to write in the very genre that we all enjoy so we can keep moving forward. Check them out below; how many have you read? 😀

Note: all blurbs come from Goodreads!

(9) LESS THAN 1984 STEPS. What does it take to make an Orwellian cup of tea? Read on: “George Orwell’s 11 Tips for Proper Tea Making” at Mental Floss.

FIRSTLY

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays—it is economical, and one can drink it without milk—but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea….

LASTLY (SADLY NOT ELEVENTHLY)

Lastly, tea—unless one is drinking it in the Russian style—should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

(10) PARTS UNKNOWN. Wil Wheaton knows the best tourist places.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Kevin Standlee, Rose Embolism, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Hugo Voting Rules Proposals Sponsored By Harris, Buff, Standlee, Others

Mini Hugo rocket carried into space and photgraphed by astronaut Kjell Lindgren in 2015.

Mini Hugo rocket carried into space and photgraphed by astronaut Kjell Lindgren in 2015.

Apart from the discussions Jameson Quinn has been leading here, another group of fans has been working on ideas for reforming the Hugo voting process. Yesterday they published the drafts of their three main motions and an amendment to EPH (given its first passage last year) as a Google document.

The three main motions do these things:

(1) Change the deadline you must be a Worldcon member to be eligible to nominate from January 31 to December 31 of the previous year.

(2) Restrict eligibility to nominate to members of the current and preceding Worldcon.

(3) Add a second round that allows members to vote out something that makes the initial long list (“Three Stage Voting”).

Colin Harris (co-chair of the 2005 Worldcon), Warren Buff, Kevin Standlee (co-chair of the 2002 Worldcon), Nicholas Whyte, and Colette Fozard each sponsor at least one of the several motions. Harris explains:

We plan to submit the motions officially in about a week; we are publishing them now to encourage discussion, rather than because we expect to change the text — but of course if people point out important things we’ve missed, we’ll take the opportunity to fix any issues.

Commenting specifically about the Three-Stage-Voting proposal, Harris says:

To be clear, my stance as the main mover on 3SV is simple. I wish this change was not necessary, but I believe that EPH and the other proposals already in hand will not achieve the necessary outcomes. In particular, I believe that guaranteeing a couple of broadly acceptable finalists per category is simply not a high enough bar for “success” in restoring the integrity, reputation and stability of the awards. I do not know if 3SV will pass, but I believe that the Business Meeting should have the opportunity to discuss this more direct option for tackling manipulation of the nomination process.

The text of the proposals follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 7/3/16 All Blogs Go To Heaven

(1) CENTURIES. Marcelo Rinesi at Tactical Awareness offers an unusual free read – 100 Stories in 100 Words.

This books is a free collection of a hundred SF short stories (we live, as Warren Ellis remarks, in the Science Fiction Condition), each of them exactly one hundred words as reported by my text editor — if a piece of software says it, it must be true —, a self-imposed constraint I chose out of the same worrisome tendencies that made me need to do it in the first place.

It’s very weird, this world we’re building, with no overarching plot, some very unsettling corners, and no other moral lesson than with hindsight, it does look like something we would do, doesn’t it? If this book reflects at least part of it, I’ll think myself well rewarded for the time I put in it, and I hope you will too.

Here’s an example:

The Collectors

There’s a storm of happy notifications coming from your phone.

Somebody’s buying every last one of your paintings, so quickly that markets haven’t adjusted.

Quickly enough that they’ll have bought all of them before the ambulance gets to your cabin. The gunshot wound will have killed you before that anyway.

Maybe it’s the shock, but what enrages you is that they are going to destroy all of your paintings. All but one, which will become valuable enough to pay for the whole schema, assassin included.

You hope they at least pick the right one.

Click the link to access the PDF file.

(2) STELLAR IDEA. James Davis Nicoll’s line on Facebook was, “I can see no way that deliberately bombarding the Earth from space could go horribly wrong.”

National Geographic says “Get Ready for Artificial Meteor Showers”.

Natural meteor showers occur when Earth plows through trails of debris shed by passing comets. When this celestial schmutz slams into our atmosphere at breakneck speeds, the debris burns up and creates fiery streaks of light.

Now, if a Japanese start-up called ALE has its way, a satellite capable of generating artificial meteor showers will be in orbit sometime in the next two years. From 314 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, the orbiter will shoot metal spheres the size of blueberries into the upper atmosphere.

As these particles move across the sky at roughly 17,400 miles (28,000 kilometers) an hour, the spheres will burn into brilliant crisps—painting the night with colorful streaks on demand….

(3) THE TRUTH IS NOT OUT THERE. Don’t rely on what you’re hearing, says the director. “Fuller: Trek Gossip Rated ‘Pants On Fire’”.

Bryan Fuller won’t share too many details of the new Star Trek series, reportedly saving them for San Diego Comic-Con next month. But what he can say is all that gossip originating from a blog with unverified and uncorroborated information? Totally not true.

Fuller, the former “Star Trek: Voyager” writer who will serve as showrunner for the CBS All Access series, says reports that circulated over the spring that set his show after “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and before “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is false. Also false? The fact that the new series would be an anthology show.

In fact, Fuller said reading the various reports online about the show makes him almost wish there was a Politifact for rumors. Then he could check the accuracy and rate them on a varying scale between true and false.

“It’s interesting to see those suggestions, and seeing the truth mixed in with them, and going like, ‘Oh, they got that part right,'” Fuller told Moviefone’s Scott Huver. “But it’s sort of on the Truth-o-Meter on Politifact. It’s sort of like some truth, and a lot of like, ‘No, pants on fire! That’s not true.'”

(4) LEGION. Yahoo! Style reveals – “Another Marvel character just got their own TV show and we have our first look”.

Legion, a new series coming FX, centers around a character struggling with mental illness — and his own mutant powers. In the comics David Haller, played in the new series by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and shares his father’s telepathic abilities.

In the television series, Haller will think the voices in his head are a symptom of mental illness, likely because in this universe (which is not the same as the universe of the X-Men films, but a parallel one) the public doesn’t know mutants exist. In fact, the U.S. government is only just becoming aware of them — so it’s natural for Heller not to realize he has superhuman powers.

(5) FINNCON. GoH Catherynne M. Valente at Finncon 2016. The committee says they drew 4000 visitors this weekend.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 3, 1985 — George Romero’s Day of the Dead is seen for the first time.
  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

(7) UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE. You can admire photos of Kevin Standlee in character as Col. Chinstrap, with his aide (Lt. Hayes) and orderly (Pvt. Bear), in his Livejournal post about the second day of Westercon.

Here we are in full outfits. As we went by the SJ in 2018 bid table, a person (we don’t remember who and don’t want to remember) came over and insisted that the little bronze cannon on the Colonel’s pith helmet was a “representation of a weapon” and thus prohibited by the hotel weapon’s policy and that we would have to take the hat back to our room.

(8) ASCENT OF MAN. Lou Antonelli ponders his recent history as a user of social media in a “Causerie on reaching 3,000 Facebook Friends” at This Way To Texas.

First off, Facebook is a necessary evil. There are a myriad of social platforms today, the proliferation of which is leading America towards a collective nervous breakdown. People are too distracted and have the attention span – maybe – of a cocker spaniel. And as I have said before, we knew in the past men did not possess telepathy because if we knew what we were thinking about each other, we’d be at each other’s throats. Well, the internet has accomplished that anyway, and we are indeed at each other’s throats – figuratively. Only time will tell if we implode into a full scale shooting civil war, in which case the figurative will have become the literal.

It’s not my strategy to quote entire posts, so let me assure you of finding many other lively opinions therein.

(9) FUTURE UNGUESSED. At SF Crowsnest, Geoff Willmets returns to a perennial question: “Editorial – July 2016: Can Science Fiction go any further than it is today”.

Reading ‘Cyberpunk Women, Feminism And Science Fiction by Carlen Lavigne’ last month made me realise once again that it’s been a long time since the last major attempt at change or addition to Science Fiction. My observations there that the real failure of cyberpunk, itself marketed since 1984, was because Ian Gibson took the tactic that young people would eventually rebel at computer tech taking over their lives when, as reality has shown, they have not only embraced but now can’t live without it. No major dissenters. No rebellion. No attacks on authority, be it corporation or government for privacy invasion, let alone taking over their lives. SF put up the markers and both sides are a little cautious or haven’t totally strayed into that area, with maybe the exception of China and some other dictatorial states. Well, not yet, anyway and the security services elsewhere don’t admit how much they can access so people tend to forget it. Those that fall into that category are either lone wolves or some rogue government wanting to stir things up but I doubt if it’s done for the dislike of computer software.

(10) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. Andrew Liptak seems to agree with Willmets about the arrangement of the literary map, but he is not disappointed with it — “How science fiction writers predicted virtual reality”.

What has set these novels apart from their peers is the ability of their authors to comprehend not the underlying technology itself, but how it is utilized by its users. Moreover, these authors have largely imagined not just their virtual worlds, but the real world that supports their use, depicting bleak, corporate-driven universes that feel not too unlike our own.

(11) NINEFOX. At Lady Business, renay reviews Ninefox Gambit in “Let’s Get Literate! Don’t Trust a Fox (Unless it’s a Robot Fox)”.

The society and political structure in Ninefox Gambit, known as the hexarchate, is one formed and held together by a version of advanced, far-future mathematics (i.e. magic) that allows a large society to create their own version of reality through a rigid belief system. And, okay, it’s not exactly math. But it has rules, like math has rules, so it’s a lot easier for me to think of it as mathematical. The book calls this system a calendar. Calendrical rot, which we’re introduced to in the first chapter, is what happens when another large group grows big and influential enough to create their own reality by believing something different. This creates a situation in which reality itself (depending on which calendar you’re standing in) doesn’t work right. Things go all wonky, weapons don’t work, and it’s a great big mess. The hexarchate is very interested in ensuring their dominance so their calendar and the six factions that operate under it remain the greatest calendar in all the universe. It’s an old story: people in power want to stay in power or want more power.

But wait! There’s a twist! There’s a heretical calendar afoot and it comes in the form of democracy and the captured-by-heretics Fortress of Scattered Needles.

For me, this is hard science fiction, because Ninefox Gambit is playing with how reality is formed and how we relate to one another on a system of time and in space. Ignoring the fact that the math and science in this novel are currently impossible, that’s enough for me to go, “well, this is a challenge to HOW WE PERCEIVE REALITY as a concept, that’s a logical problem, logic is math, there’s also sociology and psychology and philosophy mixed in, OMG THIS IS HARD SCIENCE FICTION.” Ask someone who didn’t fail every math class after 4th grade, and this is science fantasy, especially if you read “actual” hard science fiction. I don’t, because it’s often written by cisgender straight men who are like “women are people who can do things in novels besides be objects? That sounds fake but okay.” So yeah, I don’t read a lot of “proper” hard science fiction, with “real” math and science and that influences my reading of this novel. Bias disclosed!

(12) EAST MEETS WEST. Charles Stross and Cat Rambo at Westercon.

Had to get a pic with Charlie's shirt!

A post shared by Cat Rambo (@specfic) on

(13) GAIMAN ON LATE NIGHT. A couple weeks ago, Neil Gaiman was on Late Night with Seth Meyers and they talked about the American Gods TV adaptation.

(14) THE FLAMING C. Conan O’Brien will return to San Diego Comic-Con again this year, and interview the cast of Suicide Squad.

Last year O’Brien’s “Conacon” trip to SDCC produced some big laughs as he spoofed popular titles like Mad Max: Fury Road and brought his signature style of sarcastic, self-deprecating humor to everything from interviews with the cast of Game of Thrones to getting his own Conan superhero, The Flaming C, courtesy of Warner Bros. animator Bruce Timm. This year will likely boast even more laugh-out-loud moments as well as a huge amount of attention, given the comedian’s intention to interview the cast of Suicide Squad. Billed as social media’s most talked about movie of 2016, O’Brien’s sense of humor should provide an interesting and undoubtedly hilarious boost to Suicide Squad’s hype.

(15) THE PERMANENT THRONE CAMPAIGN. Emily Nussbaum tells why the just-ended season of Game of Thrones fits in so well with the election coverage in “The Westeros Wing”.

In the colossal, bloody, flawed, exhausting, occasionally intoxicating phenomenon that is “Game of Thrones,” the best bits are often moments like this: seductive mini-meditations on politics that wouldn’t be out of place in “Wolf Hall,” if “Wolf Hall” had ice zombies, or “Veep,” if “Veep” featured babies getting eaten by dogs. Season 6, which ended on Sunday, to the usual celebration and fury, and with the usual viral memes, and with corpses mangled (I assume, since HBO didn’t give me a screener), felt perversely relevant in this election year. It was dominated by debates about purity versus pragmatism; the struggles of female candidates in a male-run world; family dynasties with ugly histories; and assorted deals with various devils.

(16) BREWERS WITH SECRET IDENTITIES. David Mulvihill’s column about Southern California beers in the June/July Celebrator Beer News discusses Unsung Brewing, which is in Tustin but because of weird California reasons has their tasting room in Anaheim. The brewery was founded by Michael Crea.

Crea, an avid comic book fan when he was growing up. has incorporated the comics theme in his brewery’s branding and point of view. Beer nerd meets comic book nerd, as each beer takes the name of an unsung hero. Each backstory is created around the hero’s ingredients and its namesake’s alter ego or super power.  Look for quarterly releases of comics telling their heroes’ full stories, with artwork from local artists. See how Propeller-Head travels the world in search of the best coffee. How about the adventures of Buzzman’s battles with the yard beast?  Learn also about two female IPA heroes: Sylvan’s quest to save forests decimated by  big business and oil, and Anthia’s mission to help pollinate the earth’s fruit trees because of pesticide-related diminishment of bee and insect populations,  A prominent wall mural of Buzzman fighting the yard beast will be displayed in Unsung’s tasting room, which will be expected to open in early June.

The Unsung Brewing website has a section called “Credo” in which they explain why they’re all comics geeks.

We were raised on Batman. We came of age with the Incredible Hulk. We wore out our Spidey Super Stories LP. Hero mythology runs through our veins and flows through our glycol chiller. Digging deeper, we see super-traits in the unsung heroes of everyday life. From service men and women, firefighters and doctors, to friends and family who practice small acts of kindness and sacrifice– real life heroes surround us. We are dedicated to honoring these unsung heroes through philanthropy, and hope to inspire the hero in all of us.

(17) BY JUPITER 2. Lost in Space is getting rebooted by Netflix.

It’ll be interesting to see just how the new incarnation of the story is adapted on Netflix, especially with one of the executive producers behind Prison Break. Other rebooted science fiction television shows such as Battlestar Galactica have returned with a far more serious take than their original source material, and Netflix noted that this new version would be ready to please fans of the original show while bringing in modern audiences. A dark, modern drama is certainly something Netflix can deliver to viewers, but hopefully, they’ll keep the classic phrase “Danger, Will Robinson,” somewhere in there.

“I wonder if they will get John Williams to do the score?” asks John King Tarpinian.

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 6/11/16 The Incredibly Strange Scrolls That Stopped Living And Became Crazy Mixed-Up Pixels

(1) NEW HWA ENDOWMENT PROMOTES YA WRITERS. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has launched a “Young Adults ‘Write Now’ Endowment Program”  to fund teen-oriented writing programs at libraries.

The Young Adults Write Now fund will provide up to five endowments of $500 each per year for selected libraries to establish new, or support ongoing, writing programs. The program is currently open to United States libraries, but will be expanded in the future to include other countries, as part of the HWA’s global presence. Membership in the HWA is not a requirement.

HWA’s Library & Literacy team will select up to five recipients from the applications.

Applicants must fill in and submit the Application Form designed for that purpose; the Application Form will be published at http://horror.org/librarians.htm but will also be made available by contacting libraries@horror.org.

Eligibility: Public and community libraries will be eligible. The Applicant must outline how the endowment would be used (a ‘Plan’) and describe the goals and history (if applicable) of the writing program. In selecting the recipients, the team shall focus primarily (but not exclusively) on advancing the writing of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction (essays). An emphasis on genre fiction (horror, science fiction, fantasy) in the plan is desired but not required. The Applicant shall demonstrate that the writing program will be regular and on-going.

Recipients receiving funding will be able to use the monies for anything relating to the proposed/active writing program, including but not limited to supplies, special events, publishing costs, guest speakers/instructors, and operating expense. Monies may not be used to fund other programs or expenses for the library.

(2) EARTHSEA ARTIST. In a comment on Terri Windling’s blog, Charles Vess said:

For the last two years I’ve been slowly approaching the daunting task of illustrating all six of Ursula’s Earthsea books (collected for the first time under one cover). Through sometimes almost daily correspondence with her I’ve been attempting to mentally & aesthetically look through her eyes at the world she’s spent so long writing about. It has been a privilege to say the least. Carefully reading and re-reading those books and seeing how masterfully she’s developed her themes is amazing. And now, to my great delight (and sometimes her’s as well) the drawings are falling off my fingertips. To be sure, there will never be many ‘jobs’ as fulfilling as this one is.”

(3) OBE FOR PRINCE VULTAN. “Queen’s Birthday Honours: Charitable actor Brian Blessed made an OBE”. Perhaps better known to the public for playing Augustus Caesar or various Shakespearean roles, to fans Brian Blessed is synonymous with the Flash Gordon movie, or as Mark of Cornwall in a King Arthur TV series.

Chobham-based bellowing actor Brian Blessed has been appointed OBE for services to the arts and charity in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The star, famed for taking to the screen and stage as Shakespearian leads, said the appointment came as a ‘complete surprise’.

“I am absolutely delighted,” he said.

“It is marvellous that the son of a Yorkshire coal miner should be given such an honour.

“A huge thank you to all of the people that nominated me.“

Mr Blessed has continued to pick up pace since his days as Prince Vultan in cult film Flash Gordon.

Astronaut Tim Peake is also on the list

The UK’s first official astronaut, Major Peake is due to return to Earth this month after a six-month mission and said he was “honoured to receive the first appointment to the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George for extraordinary service beyond our planet”.

The honour is usually given for “serving the UK abroad”.

(4) HARRY POTTER OPENS. Twitter loved it. “The first reviews for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ are in and everyone is spellbound”. For example…

(5) AFI VIDEO. ”Spielberg, Lucas and Abrams honor John Williams” who received a lifetime achievement award at last night’s American Film Institute event.

Steven Spielberg reveals his favorite Williams scores, while Richard Dreyfuss, Kobe Bryant and Peter Fonda discuss the legendary composer’s work.

 

(6) OF COURSE YOU RECOGNIZE THESE. Those of us who bombed the elves/drugs quiz the other day need a softball challenge like this to regain our confidence… “Only a true Star Trek fan can spot every reference in this awsome poster” says ME TV.

The pop culture world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. This has given us loads of cool collectibles, from Canadian currency shaped like Starfleet insignias to Captain Kirk Barbie dolls.

Add this wonderful poster to the heap of new Trek treasures, which comes to our attention via /Film and AICN. The work was created by artist Dusty Abell, whose resume includes character design on everything from Batman: Under the Red Hood to The Mike Tyson Mysteries.

Abell illustrated 123 items and characters seen in the three seasons of Star Trek: Original Series. Try and spot them all. Thankfully, he provided the answers, which we posted below.

(7) SUICIDE SQUAD. If Ben Affleck’s Batman appears in Suicide Squad (and the actor was spotted on the movie set), then there’s a glimpse of his character in this 30-second TV spot. Don’t blink.

(8) DID YOU SAVE YOURS? At Car and Driver, “12 Vintage Car Toys Now Worth Big Bucks”. This talking K.I.T.T. is worth $900….

From 1982 to 1986, car-loving kids around the country tuned in to the TV show Knight Rider on Friday nights. It featured a computerized, semi-autonomous, crime-fighting and talking Pontiac Trans Am known as K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand). The premise sounds ridiculous today, but that all-new Trans Am was freshly styled for the 1980s—just like its co-star, The Hoff. The show was a huge hit, and toys flooded the market. One of the coolest was the Voice Car by Kenner. Push down on the cool vintage blue California license plate, and the Voice Car would say six different phrases. It came with a Michael Knight action figure, too.

(9) SALDANA’S SF CAREER. At Yahoo! TV, “Zoe Saldana Says Without Sci-Fi Movies, Filmmakers Would Cast Her as the ‘Girlfriend or Sexy Woman of Color’”.

“If I wasn’t doing these sci-fi movies, I would be at the mercy of filmmakers that would just look my way if they need a girlfriend or sexy woman of color in their movie,” the 37-year-old actress tells the publication. “Space is different…but we can still do better. We can still give women more weight to carry in their roles.”

(10) IX PREVIEW WEEKEND. The rest of you may not even know there’s a Wilmington, Delaware, but my mother grew up there and that makes me twice as glad to find some genre news coming out of the place, about a major exhibit: “Delaware Art Museum hosts famous fantasy, science fiction artists”. 

Imaginative Realism combines classical painting techniques with narrative subjects, focusing on the unreal, the unseen, and the impossible. The Delaware Art Museum is partnering with IX Arts organizers to host the first IX Preview Weekend September 23 – 25, 2016 at the Museum, celebrating Imaginative Realism and to kick off IX9–the annual groundbreaking art show, symposium, and celebration dedicated solely to the genre. Imaginative Realism is the cutting edge of contemporary painting and illustration and often includes themes related to science fiction and fantasy movies, games, and books. A pop-up exhibition and the weekend of events will feature over 16 contemporary artists internationally recognized for their contributions to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Marvel, DC Comics, Blizzard Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast, among others.

The weekend will also include after-hours events, performances, exclusive workshops with artists, talks, film screenings, artist signings, live demos, and games. The artists represented include Greg Hildebrandt, illustrator of the original Star Wars poster; Boris Vallejo, who is famous for his illustrations of Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian; Charles Vess, whose award-winning work graced the covers of Marvel and DC Comics; and Donato Giancola, known for his paintings for Lucasfilm, DC Comics, Playboy Magazine, and the Syfy Channel.

Other featured artists include Julie Bell, Bob Eggleton, Rebecca Leveille-Guay, Ruth Sanderson, Jordu Schell, Matthew Stewart, William O’Connor, David Palumbo, Dorian Vallejo, Michael Whelan, and Mark Zug. Each artist will present original work in the pop-up show, covering the gamut from illustration through personal/gallery work in a wide range of mediums. All artists represented will be present at the Museum over the course of the weekend.

Ticket and registration information will be available this summer. Visit delart.org for details and updates.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 11, 1982 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial released

(12) SAY IT AIN’T SO. “Roddenberry’s Star Trek was ‘above all, a critique of Robert Heinlein” says Man Saadia at BoingBoing.

According to Roddenberry himself, no author has had more influence on The Original Series than Robert Heinlein, and more specifically his juvenile novel Space Cadet. The book, published in 1948, is considered a classic. It is a bildungsroman, retelling the education of young Matt Dodson from Iowa, who joins the Space Patrol and becomes a man. There is a reason why Star Trek’s Captain Kirk is from Iowa. The Space Patrol is a prototype of Starfleet: it is a multiracial, multinational institution, entrusted with keeping the peace in the solar system.

Where it gets a little weird is that Heinlein’s Space Patrol controls nuclear warheads in orbit around Earth, and its mission is to nuke any country that has been tempted to go to war with its neighbors. This supranational body in charge of deterrence, enforcing peace and democracy on the home planet by the threat of annihilation, was an extrapolation of what could potentially be achieved if you combined the UN charter with mutually assured destruction. And all this in a book aimed at kids.

Such was the optimism Heinlein could muster at the time, and compared to his later works, Space Cadet is relatively happy and idealistic, if a bit sociopathic.

(13) ECOLOGICAL NICHERY. John Scalzi observes “How Blogs Work Today” at Whatever.

I don’t think blogs are dead per se — WordPress, which I will note hosts my blog, seems to be doing just fine in terms of new sites being created and people joining its network. But I think the role of the blog is different than it was even just a couple of years ago. It’s not the sole outpost of an online life, although it can be an anchor, holding it in place. What a blog is today is part of an overall presence, with a specific role that complements other online outposts (which in turn complement the blog). I do it myself — longer pieces here, which I will point to from other places. Shortform smartassery on Twitter. Personal Facebook account to keep up with friends; public Facebook and Google Plus pages to keep fans up on news — news which is often announced here and linked to from there.

(14) MY OBSERVATION ABOUT HOW BLOGS WORK TODAY. Same as he said. Just look at how I’m getting my traffic. 🙂

(15) HISTORIC SNARK. News, but not from this timeline.

(16) DIGITAL COMICS. David Brin presents “A look at some of the best Science Fiction Webcomics”, an engaging précis of 20 current or favorites from recent years, with sample graphics. (Ursula Vernon’s Digger is on the list.)

This time let’s follow-up with a selection of yet-more truly creative online comics, some serious space dramas, others satires or comedies. Many offer humorous insights as they delve into science, space, the future… and human nature. You’ll find star-spanning voyages, vividly portrayed aliens, frequent use of faster-than-light travel (FTL), but …. no superheroes here! …

Outsider, by Jim Francis, is a full-color, beautifully illustrated “starship combat space opera.” Set in the 2100s, humanity has ventured out to the stars, only to encounter alien refugees fleeing war between the galactic superpowers Loroi and Umiak. With little information at hand to base their decision upon, humanity must decide: which side should earth ally with? When the starship Bellarmine finds itself caught in enemy crossfire, a hull breach sends Ensign Alexander Jardin drifting in space — where he is picked up by a Loroi ship. As the outsider aboard the alien ship, he slowly begins to understand this telepathic, formidable, all-female crew — and gain insight into earth’s place in the cosmos. Then he finds himself in a unique position to save humanity….

Quantum Vibe, by Scott Bieser. This sequential science fiction webcomic offers some real substance. The story begins five hundred plus years into the Space Age on the orbiting city, L-5. After a doomed relationship falls apart, our fierce heroine, Nicole Oresme, becomes technical assistant and pilot to Dr. Seamus O’Murchadha, inventor of electro-gravity, who needs help with his plan to delve into “quantum vibremonics.” Their adventures through the solar system include escaping assassins, diving into the sun’s corona, visits to Luna, Venus (terraforming underway), Mars, Europa and Titan. Earth is ruled by large corporations and genetically divided into rigid social castes – and even branched into genetic subspecies, multi-armed Spyders and Belt-apes. Libertarian references abound. A bit of a libertarian drumbeat but not inapropos for the setting and future.  I’m impressed with the spec-science in the series, as well as tongue-in-cheek references to SF stories, including… Sundiver and Heinlein.

Freefall, by Mark Stanley, a science fictional comedy which incorporates a fair amount of hard science; it has been running since 1998. The serialized strips follow the comic antics of the crew of the salvaged and somewhat-repaired starship Savage Chicken, with its not-too-responsible squid-like alien captain Sam Starfall, a not-too-intelligent robot named Helix, along with a genetically uplifted wolf for an engineer — Florence Ambrose. Their adventures begin on a planet aswarm with terraforming robots and incoming comets. The light-hearted comic touches on deeper issues of ethics and morals, sapience and philosophy, orbital mechanics and artificial intelligence.

(17) HEALTH WARNING. Twitter user threatens Tingle tantrum. Film at 11.

(18) CAN PRO ART HUGO BE IMPROVED? George R.R. Martin and Kevin Standlee have been debating the merits of Martin’s preference to have a Best Cover instead of Best Pro Artist Hugo. Standlee notes the failure of the Best Original Artwork Hugo in the early 1990s, while Martin ripostes —

It didn’t work because we did it wrong.

The new category should have replaced “Best Professional Artist” instead of simply being added as an additional Hugo. Keeping the old category just encouraged the voters to keep on nominating as they had before, while ignoring the new category.

Also, it should have been “Best Cover” instead of “Best Original Artwork.” I understand the desire to be inclusive and allow people to nominate interior illustrations, gallery art, and whatever, but the truth is, covers have always been what the artist Hugo is all about. Let’s stop pretending it’s not. Freas, Emshwiller, Whelan, Eggleton, Donato, Picacio and all the rest won their rockets on the strength of their cover work. No artist who does not do covers has ever won a Hugo.

Making it “Best Cover” makes it about the art, not the artist. Writers have a big advantage over artists in that their names are emblazoned on the covers of their books. With artists, we can see a spectacular piece of work without knowing who did it… like, for instance, the incredible cover for Vic Milan’s novel, mentioned above. People nominate the same artists year after year because those are the only artists whose names they know. It’s very hard for someone new to break through and get their name known.

It would be easier if the voters could just nominate say, “the cover of DINOSAUR LORDS,” without having to know the artist’s name.

(19) IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF BEING RIPPED OFF. We take you back to Turkey and those thrilling days of yesteryear when Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek debuted. The 1973 cult comedy science-fiction starred film Sadri Alisik as a Turkish hobo who is beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise.

The film, which is the eighth and final in a series of films featuring Alisik as Ömer the Tourist, is commonly known as Turkish Star Trek because of plot and stylistic elements parodied from Star Trek: The Original Series episode The Man Trap (1966) as well as the unauthorized use of footage from the series. Although unofficial and part of another franchise, it is the first movie taking place in Star Trek universe, filmed 6 years before the official motion picture.

This movie gained fame in Turkey for the phrase “Mr. Spock has donkey’s ears,” which Ömer repeatedly says to Mr.Spock in the movie.

The film is available on YouTube – here is the first segment.

(20) THE REAL REASON THEY’RE RESHOOTING ROGUE ONE. I strongly suspect Omer the Wanderer’s screenwriter has moved on to late night TV and is working for Stephen Colbert… “The Trailer for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Reveals a New Character”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

They’d Rather Free Ride: Hugos and Game Theory (Proposal Discussion Thread 4)

By Jameson Quinn

1. Intro and disclaimers

This is a summary of the discussion thread on the post by Kevin Standlee discussing three proposals for expanding the Hugo nominations process in order to help avoid problems like the current list of Hugo finalists.

In summarizing a thread that’s over 500 comments long, and that refers extensively to two other threads with hundreds of comments, I am of course going to simplify matters. In particular, I’m going to overemphasize the points of agreement, without listing every qualification, caveat, quibble, or outright objection that was brought up. Obviously you can read the thread yourself, but if you don’t, please imagine it to have all the disagreement and misunderstandings (as well as off-topic filk, execrable puns, cute references, hastily-constructed codes, etc.) that you’d expect.

2. Initial options: A+2, DN, and 3SV

Of the three initial proposals by Kevin, one of them (nicknamed “+2” or “A+2”) relied on giving new discretionary powers to Hugo administrators. In the discussion thread this idea encountered significant opposition, so it will not be discussed further here.
The other two proposals would both create a new intermediate round of voting, in which the initial votes have been used to create a “longlist” of 15 works which is publicized and voted on in some fashion in order to get the list of 5 finalists. In the Double Nomination with Approval Voting (“DN”) proposal, nominators would vote for (“approve”) the longlist items they liked the best; and in the 3-Stage Voting (“3SV”) proposal, a majority of nominators would be able to disqualify some of the 15 works, without affecting the ordering of the remaining works from the nominations phase.

3. Consensus: 3SV (+1?)

Many of the participants in the discussion began with a preference for DN; they felt better about voting for the longlist works they liked than about voting to reject the ones they felt were illegitimate. However, as the thread progressed, and the strengths and weaknesses of the two proposals were analyzed in more depth, the consensus shifted, and by the end of the thread proposals based primarily on 3SV were the clear winners. Many supported a proposal nicknamed 3SV+1, described below, which integrated some aspects of DN onto the base of 3SV.

4. Why 3SV and not DN?

Why did people’s preferences shift from DN to 3SV? Several reasons:

A. Under DN, voters would have just weeks to assimilate and vote on a list of 255 longlisted items. Many of the most careful nominators would barely vote for any; while the most prolific voters would probably be going mostly by kneejerk reactions. This is true for 3SV, too, but it is less of an issue as explained below.

B. DN conflates two questions: “Do I like this work and feel it may deserve a Hugo?” with “Do I feel that this work’s presence on the longlist or in the list of finalists would be a legitimate result of honest fan preference?” In 3SV, those questions are separate, and votes to disqualify a work are based on the second question alone — one which does not require fully reading/reviewing every longlist work.

C. Unlike DN, 3SV would deal decisively with the issue of “troll finalists”: that is, works promoted by slates explicitly in order that their shocking and/or offensive nature might cast discredit on the awards.

D. 3SV would be similar in spirit to the “no award” option, except that works thus eliminated would not take up space on the list of finalists, and awkward moments at the awards themselves would be minimized.

E. DN would open up new kinds of attacks on the list of finalists, such as actually increasing slate voter’s capacity to act as “kingmakers” and/or perform “area defense” against certain kinds of works. All they’d have to do was to have enough voting power to reverse the gap between two works which both have significant organic (non-slate) support. But under 3SV, actually eliminating a work would not be possible without a relatively high “quorum”* of voters, and we hope that community pressure would lead to a low background level of organic rejection votes, so a minority of slate voters would be unable to use rejection as a weapon.

So, tell me more about how 3SV would work

The details are still up for discussion, but the basic idea is as follows:

3-Stage Voting (3SV) adds a new round of voting to the Hugo Award process, called “semi-finals,” between the existing nominating ballot and the existing final ballot. In 3SV, the “longlist” of top 15 nominees (as selected by the same process as the finalists will be selected; that is, EPH or EPH+ if those have passed) are listed in a way that doesn’t show how many nominations they received. Eligibility for this voting is being debated (see below), but the original proposal is that it would be restricted to members (supporting and attending) of the current Worldcon (not the previous and following Worldcons). Eligible voters presented with this list, with a question on each of the fifteen semi-finalists in each category: “Is this work worthy of being on the Final Hugo Award Ballot?” with the choices being YES, NO, and ABSTAIN.

If a work gets more than a “quorum” of no votes, it is not eligible to become a finalist. There are several proposals for how to calculate the quorum. The formula may involve such things as the number of eligible voters, the number of “YES” and/or “ABSTAIN” votes, the turnout in round 1 or in previous years, etc. The idea is that the quorum should be high enough so that a minority of slate voters will be unable to reach it, but low enough that a clear majority of fans can pass it, even given reasonable turnout assumptions.

During the “semi-final” voting period, admins would also be checking the eligibility of the works on the longlist, and accepting withdrawals from the author (or other responsible party; henceforth, we’ll just say “author”) of those works. The admins would make a good-faith attempt to contact authors, but note that since the longlist is public, the admins may assume that non-responsive authors have heard of their presence on the longlist, and thus that any authors who do not explicitly withdraw their works would accept becoming finalists.

The finalists will be the top 5 works from the longlist that have not been declared ineligible by vote, found ineligible by the admins, or withdrawn by the authors. EPH or EPH+ would not be re-run after ineligible works or withdrawals.

After the Hugos are awarded, admins would publish the usual statistics (that is, for EPH, the votes and points-when-eliminated for each of the members of the longlist). They would also publish the reason for ineligiblity (voted out, ineligible, or withdrawn) for any work that otherwise would have been a finalist. They would also publish the anonymized set of vote totals for each longlist item in each category, where “anonymized” means that they would not indicate which title was associated with which vote total.

What’s this “3SV+1” you mentioned earlier?

The “+1” means that, in addition to 3SV, all voters who were eligible for round 1 may add a single nomination per category, for something from the longlist they did not already nominate, to their existing ballot, during the same “semi-final” voting period. These combined ballots would then be counted by the usual process (that is, the current system, EPH, or EPH+) to find the finalists.

How would all of this interact with EPH, EPH+, 4/6, and/or 5/6?

The short version is that without EPH a realistically-sized, well managed slate could hope to entirely take over the longlist in many categories; with EPH, it could take about 2/3 (around 10 slots); and with EPH+, it could take over about half (6-8 slots), or possibly a bit more with cleverer strategies (but not as much as EPH, even then). 4/6 or 5/6 don’t change that story by much, though they help a bit in keeping organic slots among the finalists in spite of “kingmaker” slates. And +1 helps push slates towards around 1-2 finalist slots; hurting them in the common case that they had been going to get more, but actually helping them if they had miscalculated and were heading for less than that.

Here’s a graph of how many slots slate nominators could have gotten in 2014, as a function of number of slate nominators, if they’d split 3 ways and had the same level of coordination as they did in 2015. Note that 2016 had many more nominators than 2014 so it would have taken more slate nominators to get the same effect.

pseudographSL5%20and%2015

 

Here’s a similar graph, but assuming the slate nominators are better coordinated:

pseudographSLp5%20and%2015

 

Here’s yet another graph, but assuming the slate voters split only 2 ways. In theory, this is better for them if there are fewer of them, but worse if there are more, because they max out at 10 slots. However, as you can see from the graph, it’s really not that much better even for small numbers; the random “bootstrap sampling” effects almost overwhelm any advantage:

pseudographSLx5%20and%2015

 

Have you thought of any downsides? What about…

Yes, kinda. We have people (both honest supporters and honest opponents) thinking of attacks. And there’s always room for more on this “red team”. So far, here are the criticisms we’ve come up with. First, for “3SV” (we’ll talk about “+1” below):

Couldn’t slate voters take over the shortlist? As you can see in the graphs “take over 6-10 slots of the longlist” is the only one that we think is a concern if (as we expect) EPH or EPH+ is in place.

Wouldn’t this just increase negativity? There are several safeguards against this becoming merely an excuse for people to campaign against works they happen not to like. First and most important is social pressure; it should be clear from the outset that this is a just safeguard against outright bad faith, not a chance to express differences in taste, and I believe that any Worldcon members who promote disqualifying a work just because they don’t like it will not get much support. Second, there’s eligibility. Various rules, discussed below in “open issues”, have been proposed to prevent a campaign to bring in Worldcon outsiders after the longlist is public. Third, there’s the quorum; if participation in the second-round voting is low, it will not be enough to pass the threshold to eliminate any work. Fourth, there’s the relatively short period of the semifinals, also discussed below. And fifth, there’s the fact that elimination votes for a specific work would never be publicized; only anonymized distributions of votes for each category. (In some cases, of course, the identity of which work got a certain vote total would be easy to guess, but that would still be just a guess.)

Wouldn’t this fundamentally change the nature of the Hugos? They have already been changed by the slate. Many of the people in the discussion felt that this change, though it would not go back to exactly as before, would still be a change in the right direction.

Would this be more work for the administrators? In some ways, yes, of course. However, in at least one important way, it would actually simplify their lives. Since the longlist would be public, it would be much easier for them to contact authors. On a related note, authors could not leak their status as finalists, because until the list of finalists came out, they would know no more than the public at large.

Would this allow some unanticipated downside? Obviously, we can never rule that out 100%. However, we do think we’ve been pretty thorough at exploring all the angles. Again, you can read the thread and decide for yourself.

And, downsides for the +1 addition:

Would this be tough to administrate? Not if EPH or EPH+ were in place, since any program capable of doing either of these would already be able to associate multiple nominations with the same nominator and make sure that invalid votes, such as a single nominator nominating a given work multiple times, were not counted. It has been suggested that a proposal to institute +1 should say that this change will sunset (require re-approval) if EPH or EPH+ ever does.

What are the open questions/issues?

Eligibility: who should be eligible to vote on the semifinal round, and who should be able to add +1? The former question is more fraught. Several people said that they would want eligibility to be restricted enough that outsiders can’t come in and get memberships after the longlist is published. Others said that it is important to let the community respond and that if membership spikes on seeing the longlist that could be a healthy thing. One compromise proposal (suggested by yours truly) was that in order to be eligible, you would need to be a current member (attending or supporting) of this year’s Worldcon, AND also have been eligible to nominate (whether or not you actually did so). So if you were a member of the prior or following year’s worldcon, you could sign up after seeing the longlist; but not if you weren’t.
Quorum size/formula: There’s been various discussion of this issue.

+1 as attached or separate: The overall consensus seems to be that, if we propose +1, it should be in a separate proposal from 3SV, even though they share certain aspects (such as the concept of a semi-final round). However, there are varying opinions on whether +1 is a good idea, either in general or as a proposal for this year in particular.

Whether to try EPH+ this year: I’ll talk about this more in comments.

The admin discretion 14-18 longlist thing: I was thinking that, if the time between closing round 1 nominations and announcing the longlist is short, admins might have a hard time cleaning the data perfectly. In that case, it helps them be more certain of the list they publish if the next work below the list was not a near-tie with the lowest work on the list. To allow them to avoid such near-ties, especially in cases where they aren’t 100% sure they’ve cleaned the data perfectly, I suggested allowing them discretion to decide how long the longlist for each category would be, between 14 and 18 works.

http://file770.com/?p=29020&cpage=14#comment-436327: Define “nominating membership” in a way that legally allows for the possibility of a code of conduct that could lead to one year’s worldcon revoking voting privileges from a member of the prior year’s; in other words, closes the loophole whereby prior-year members are immune from any consequences for their actions.

Moderated Shortlist for Member Consideration: http://file770.com/?p=29020&cpage=16#comment-436437 This is an alternative to 3SV, where an administrative committee would tentatively suggest eliminating or adding certain works, and that suggestion would have to be ratified by an up-or-down vote of the members of the current Worldcon.

Where do we go from here?

A group led by Colin Harris that includes Kevin Standlee is writing up a proposal are writing up a proposal and are surely watching these threads. When that proposal is ready, we could write up +1 as an amendment or as a standalone proposal. Decide about EPH+ and deal with that. Anything else?

Three Possible Hugo Voting Alternatives

By Kevin Standlee: In light of the revelation that modeling of E Pluribus Hugo does not result in quite the “magic bullet” that some may have hoped for, we may need to consider other changes to the Hugo Award voting system to deal with bad actors deliberately setting themselves against the wishes of the majority of the voting members of the World Science Fiction Society. Over the past few weeks, I have written up descriptions of three different proposals that attempt to deal with bad actors in different ways, and to make it more likely that the results of the Hugo Awards represent the wishes of the majority of the participating members, without the members having to resort to the 16-ton anvil that is No Award.

All of the proposals below are compatible with either of the proposals up for ratification this year (EPH and 4/6). They are not necessarily compatible with each other. None of them require a Very Strong Administrator picking and choosing individual members’ ballots or disqualifying individual finalists on what I call “ideological” grounds. All of them aim to give the majority of the members a strong voice in picking the Hugo Awards.

In this overview, try not to get too deeply bogged down in specific details. For example, all three proposal refer to the “Top 15.” This is a reference to the “long list” currently defined in the WSFS constitution thusly:

3.11.4: The complete numerical vote totals, including all preliminary tallies for first, second, . . . places, shall be made public by the Worldcon Committee within ninety (90) days after the Worldcon. During the same period the nomination voting totals shall also be published, including in each category the vote counts for at least the fifteen highest vote-getters and any other candidate receiving a number of votes equal to at least five percent (5%) of the nomination ballots cast in that category, but not including any candidate receiving fewer than five votes.

Therefore, the “top 15” can be defined in different ways, and there’s a reasonable argument to be made for many of them. Don’t get too tangled up in specifics. These proposals have general principles, and if you’re agreeable to the general idea of any of them, then we can discuss the specific values for some of the blank spots in them.

In the list below, the links lead to my LiveJournal where each proposal is listed in more detail.

Proposal 1: 3-Stage Voting

3-Stage Voting (3SV) adds a new round of voting to the Hugo Award process, called “semi-finals,” between the existing nominating ballot and the existing final ballot. In 3SV, the top 15 nominees (including any ties, and see the warning about specifics above) are listed in a way that doesn’t show how many nominations they received. The members (supporting and attending) of the current Worldcon (not the previous and following Worldcons) are presented with this list, with a question on each of the fifteen semi-finalists in each category: “Is this work worthy of being on the Final Hugo Award Ballot?” with the choices being YES, NO, and ABSTAIN.

If a sufficient quorum (which is why counting explicit abstentions is important) votes, and if a sufficient number vote NO, that semi-finalist is disqualified from further consideration. As currently proposed, the necessary NO vote is “more NO than YES votes,” but the exact amount needed to disqualify is negotiable. Remember, even if every vote is NO, if a quorum (minimum number of voters) doesn’t participate, the work cannot be disqualified. (This makes it difficult for a small group to campaign against a work.)

At the end of the semi-final round, any works disqualified by the members, withdrawn by the nominees, or disqualified by the Committee on technical grounds is out of the running. From among the remaining semi-finalists, the five that got the most votes in the nominating phase become the finalists, and the final ballot continues as it currently does. Note that in this case it doesn’t matter how many YES votes a semi-finalist got, only that it didn’t get a negative majority.

3SV effectively moves the votes on NO AWARD to the semi-finals, although it would remain a candidate on the final ballot. It allows the members of the current Worldcon (the ones who will be voting on the final ballot) to decide in advance which works they think deserve to be on the final ballot. It does this at a price, however, and that price is to carve 6-8 weeks out of an already relatively crowded schedule. The proposal moves the deadline by which you have to be a member in order to nominate up by a month, and in practice would require the nominating deadline to be earlier in the year.

Another drawback of 3SV is that it triples the number of nominees that the Worldcon Committee (the Hugo Award Administrators) need to vet and contact. However, as a trade-off, it gives the administrator roughly three times as much time to do this contact work, and makes the vetting and contacting process public. That is because the Administrator would not need to contact semi-finalists in advance of announcing the “longlist” of semi-finalists. While the semi-final ballot runs, the Administrator would be contacting semi-finalists to give them an opportunity to withdraw from consideration in the final ballot. Administrators could put out a public appeal if they are unable to contact a given semi-finalist. In addition, the Administrator can do eligibility confirmation in public, with the help of the many other people who will undoubtedly be checking over the list and asking questions. Should a semi-finalist be disqualified on technical grounds, the semi-finalist would not be replaced on the semi-final ballot. Ineligible works show up on the existing Top 15 lists now, and the semi-final round would be too short to allow for replacing longlist slots.

An incidental feature of 3SV is that the finalists would not know they’d made the final ballot until the shortlist was announced. They’d know they were semi-finalists, and during the semi-finals they would have had time to decline if they so choose, but it would be impossible for them to leak being a finalist because they would not know it themselves.

Additional drawbacks to 3SV include the fact that it is explicitly negative. It is a place where you vote against things. Some people are philosophically opposed to “down-voting” works. Furthermore, should the known bad actors stop trying to game the system, there is little need for this semi-final round, and you might find people not even bothering to participate in it, which might result in complaints that we’d added complexity and expense for no obvious reason.

3SV is a “vote against stuff” system. An alternative to it was the second proposal.

Proposal 2: Double Nominations with Approval Voting

Double Nominations with Approval Voting (DN/AV, sometimes just DN) is similar to 3-Stage Voting, in that there would be a semi-final round with the Top 15 (see warning at the beginning of the article) nominees listed in an order that would not reveal how many nominations they received. Only members (attending and supporting) of the current Worldcon would vote at this stage. But instead of voting against semi-finalists as you do in 3SV, you would vote for those semi-finalists who you think deserve to be on the final ballot. You could vote for one or all of the semi-finalists. The version as currently proposed included a single write-in slot as well, primarily as a safety valve. In this case, the number of votes a semi-finalist gets here is critical, because only the top five would continue to the finals.

In 3SV, the number of YES votes doesn’t matter as long as there are fewer NO votes (or insufficient ballots cast to qualify the election at all). The relative number of YES votes doesn’t matter as long as the semi-finalist isn’t disqualified, because it’s the original nominating ballot count that sends works on to the final round if they survive the weeding-out process of 3SV’s downvotes. However, in DN/AV, the five works with the most votes in the semi-final round go on to the final ballot, and the number of nominating ballots cast to get the works onto the longlist is irrelevant. Some have called for nominating counts to be used as a tie-breaker, as they envision a 15-way tie for the final ballot. I personally think this unlikely, and there have been as many as eight finalists on a Hugo ballot due to ties for the final position, so I think we could live without a tie-breaker.

All of the extra administrative issues of 3SV are shared by DN/AV, so I won’t go over them again here.

DN/AV eliminates the “negative” aspect of 3SV, in that you vote for semi-finalists, not against them.

Some have suggested that there’s an implication that “you need to have read all of the semi-finalists in order to vote on this ballot,” although I don’t think that is true in either case. DN/AV is a second nominating round. Just as the current nominating ballot makes no pretense that you should have read everything published last year, DN/AV doesn’t expect voters to have read all fifteen semi-finalists, but instead to pick those that the voters think worth considering on the final ballot, knowing that only the top five will appear there.

The biggest advantage to either 3SV or DN/AV is that they put the decision of “what to have on the final ballot” in the hand of the members who will be voting on that final ballot, and that the majority will of those voters will prevail. Neither system is particularly susceptible to gaming by small minorities. The biggest drawback to either of the first two proposals is that they add an additional round of voting, with administrative overhead and complexity.

Some people have asserted, with various degrees of strength, that the Committee (Hugo Award Administrators) should simply ignore “slate voters” or disqualify “obvious slate-generated finalists.” In my opinion, such proposals are hugely problematical, in that they give Administrators authority they have never had in the entire history of the Hugo Awards. However, there is one historical precedent to which we can look when a group of bad actors appears to have forced a work onto the ballot, and the Worldcon Committee tried to ameliorate the action without actually disqualifying anyone. We’ll consider this in the final proposal.

Proposal 3: Plus Two

In 1989, the Hugo Award Administrator noticed an odd situation, where a set of nominating ballots arrived in close order with a single nomination cast in a single category. This was enough to place a finalist on the ballot that seemed unusual to anyone who had been watching the kinds of things that had made the shortlist in recent years. The ballots all having included membership payments in the form of consecutively numbered money orders further raised suspicions. According to the coverage of the situation in File 770 at the time, the 1989 Worldcon committee said in a statement at the time that they didn’t do any investigation, but that one person wrote to the committee to inquire why he had a membership when he hadn’t paid for it. (After they made a public statement, some fans contacted the committee claiming to have cast these votes with innocent intent.) In any event, there has always been a strong ethos in the Hugo Awards to allow the membership to speak, not a small committee. On the other hand, this case seemed to be doing someone out of a Hugo Award finalist slot unfairly. The Committee took the unprecedented step of adding the sixth-place nominee to the shortlist. Not too long thereafter, one of the six finalists (the one that seemed to be odd compared to the others) withdrew. There is no evidence or suggestion that the finalist who withdrew had anything to do with the string of bullet-voted ballots. At most, this was a case of enthusiasts with more money than common sense or ethics.

The final proposal that I’ve written up would explicitly authorize the Worldcon Committee (in practice, the Hugo Award Administration Subcommittee set up by the Worldcon Committee) to take the action that the 1989 Worldcon did whenever they think that there was a pattern of unethical voting in the nominating round. The Committee would be authorized to add up to two additional finalists from among the Top 15. They would not reveal which finalists they added until after the Hugo Awards ceremony, when it would be included in the post-ceremony detailed results.

I have no expectation that the current people who have typically been part of the Hugo Administration Subcommittee would be the ones who would make the actual Plus 2 decisions. I expect that any sensible Worldcon Committee would recruit additional Administrators for their literary judgement, just as the World Fantasy Award does. Any Administrator, no matter whether they were recruited for computer skills, literary skills, or public relations skills, would be ineligible for that year’s Award just as the current Administrators are.

Should the Administrators determine that there was no need to do so, they could choose to not add additional finalists. Thus, if known Bad Actors desist from their wrecking ways, the Administrators could simply continue running things as we have done in the past, leaving it up to the five highest pluralities of nominations. This would simplify administration and require relatively little change.

This proposal allows the Committee to pull from the Top 15, rather than simply the next two finishers in the nominations, to minimize multiple-slating attacks on the system that would try to dominate the top seven rather than the top five positions. While 20% of the electorate has been able to dominate the first five positions relatively easily, it seems unlikely that such a small group could dominate the top fifteen unless their voting power grew to a majority of the entire electorate. Inasmuch as solutions that represent a majority of the electorate (even if you personally dislike the result) are not contrary to democratic process, there is nothing in this proposal that tries to “defend against it.” As I’ve said above and will continue to say, if you can command a majority of the voters, you get your way, even if I don’t like it. It is minorities dominating the process that troubles me.

Note that there’s nothing magic about adding two additional works. It could be one or more. The exact value is debatable. However, consider that we do hope that most people read all or most of the finalists, and therefore making the shortlist too long works against any good you might get from adding (say) five extra works to the ballot.

Broadly speaking, Plus Two is compatible with either (but not both) 3SV and DN/AV. That is, this proposal can be considered separately from either 3SV or DN/AV, whereas the first two proposals above are antithetical to each other, and only one of them could be reasonably considered at a time.

The biggest advantage of Plus Two is that it’s relatively simple, does not add a lot of administrative overhead, and allows the existing two-stage process to stay in place, with only a relatively minor change of adding works to the final ballot. It also adds the “human judgement element” that it appears that many people seem to think is necessary to combat bad-faith efforts to sabotage the Awards.

The biggest disadvantage is that it gives Administrators an authority that they’ve never actually had before, and that they have used only once before, without any explicit sanction. Administrators may be reluctant to serve on the Hugo Award Administration Subcommittee if they know that they may be responsible in some way for adding works to the Hugo Award ballot.

Conclusions

There are no “magic bullets” when it comes to tinkering with the Hugo Award rules. None of the proposals here is a perfect fix. Indeed, per Arrow’s Theorem, there is no such thing as a perfect voting system. However, we can try to move things around and minimize unfairness, usually at the expense of additional complexity. The political question then is how much complexity we can tolerate to improve perceived fairness.

The Instant Runoff Voting system that we use on the final ballot is a case of trading complexity (IRV boggles the minds of people who reject anything other than First Past the Post voting) for fairness (IRV usually returns the least-disliked candidate in an election, rather than the one with the largest plurality; in a field of more than two candidates like the Hugo Awards, it usually returns a consensus winner, not just a strong front-runner). Should we decide that the changes we’ve started with E Pluribus Hugo and 4/6 that are up for ratification this year are insufficient to tilt the field back toward perceived fairness, it behooves the members of WSFS meeting in Kansas City this summer to consider additional changes now, not later.

WSFS rules are intentionally complicated to change, in order to prevent concerns of a day or even of a single year to overwhelm the process. However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot start queuing up additional changes now while we continue to monitor how things proceed, in order to protect our own longer term interests.

I expect at least one of the proposals outlined here to be on the agenda of this year’s WSFS Business Meeting. We might even have all three of them.

Pixel Scroll 5/5/16 The Barnacles of Narnia

(1) LOST SIGNAL. John DeNardo shocked fans and writers alike by revealing today that SF Signal is shutting down.

When we started SF Signal in 2003, it was because we loved speculative fiction. Having a blog allowed us to share that love with other fans. We never dreamed it would have grown like it has. In these past 12 years and 10 months, we’ve shared our love of genre, we’ve provided a forum for other fans to come on board as contributors to also share their genre love, we gave authors a place to tell us about the exciting new worlds they’re creating, and I like to think we’ve made a ton of new friends. We even picked up a few Hugo Awards along the way. It’s been quite a ride.

But all good things come to an end.

It was a very hard decision to make, but we have decided to close down SF Signal. The reason is boringly simple: time. As the blog has grown, so has its demands for our attention. That is time we would rather spend with our families. We considered scaling back posts, but it felt like SF Signal would only be a shadow of its former self. So yes, it feels sudden, but a “cold turkey” exit seems like the right thing to do.

(2) GAMES OF FAME. Six classic games are being inducted into video game hall of fame – CBS News has the story.

game hall of fame

A video game that had players zapping space aliens with lasers and another that put them in covered wagons in 1848 have been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, along with four other games recognized for their influence on gaming and pop culture.

“Space Invaders” and “The Oregon Trail,” along with “Grand Theft Auto III,” ”Sonic the Hedgehog,” ”The Legend of Zelda” and “The Sims,” make up the class of 2016 honored Thursday at the hall inside The Strong museum in Rochester.

The winners were chosen from among 15 finalists culled from thousands of nominations from around the world. Contenders that missed the final cut were: “John Madden Football,” ”Elite,” ”Final Fantasy,” ”Minecraft,” ”Nurburgring,” ”Pokemon Red and Green,” ”Sid Meier’s Civilization,” ”Street Fighter II” and “Tomb Raider.”

(3) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. Abigail Nussbaum, in Captain America: Civil War, launches her review with this lede:

It’s a bit of a strange thing to say, but I might have liked Captain America: Civil War better if it were a less good movie.  When films like The Dark Knight Rises or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice deliver rancid political messages wrapped in equally rancid plots and characterization, the reviewer’s job is made easier.  We can point to how a failure to recognize the actual complexity of a situation, or to imbue characters with full humanity, both informs and reflects the simplistic, quasi-fascist message of the movie.  Civil War is a trickier customer.  It tries–and on some level, manages–to be more intelligent and more thoughtful than something like Batman v Superman.  Its characters take the film’s central conflict seriously, discussing it rationally and trying to find a way to resolve it without descending into fisticuffs.  But even as they do so, they reveal the inherent impossibility of their project, the way the core assumptions of this entire genre combine to form a black hole that it can never escape.  I’ve said it before, but the minute you start taking superheroes seriously, and debating the rights and wrongs of them, only one conclusion is possible: that superheroes are a really bad idea, and that any fictional world that houses more than a handful of them will inevitably devolve into a horrifying dystopia in which the rule of law and the authority of democratic government are meaningless.

(4) SINGING IN THE SHOWER. Space.com told readers “Meteor Shower Spawned by Halley’s Comet Peaks This Week”.

Dusty debris that Halley’s Comet has shed on its 75-year-long laps around the sun slams into Earth’s atmosphere during the first week of May every year, creating an annual meteor shower known as the Eta Aquarids. (Another Halley-spawned shower, the Orionids, occurs every October.)

(5) SWIRSKY INTERVIEWS KOWAL. At Rachel Swirsky’s blog: “Silly Interview with Mary Robinette Kowal, intermittently teal storyteller”.

RS: A lot of novelists let short stories lapse when they embark on their novelling careers. You keep publishing strong short fiction, like last year’s “Midnight Hour” in Uncanny Magazine. How do you make time for short stories, and what do you get from them that you don’t get from longer fiction?

MRK: Honestly, these days I start a lot of the short stories while I’m teaching my Short Story Intensive. Part of the process is that I write along with the students in order to demonstrate how to start from a story seed and then develop it into a story. I often have a market in mind when I’m doing these, so the demonstration does double duty. The thing that I love about short fiction as a writer is that I get to experiment with a lot of different styles and ideas without the huge time investment of a novel. Plus, as a reader, I find that a short story can often deliver more of a sucker punch to the emotions and I kinda like that.

(6) SMACK ATTACK. J. R. R. Tolkien is pitted against George R. R. Martin in the latest installment of Epic Rap Battles of History. Tolkien’s shots include: ”You’re a pirate, you even stole my RR!”

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 5, 1961 — Astronaut Alan Shepard became the United States’ first man in space in a brief sub-orbital flight from Cape Canaveral.
  • May 5, 2002 Spider-Man is the first movie to top $100 million on opening weekend. (Remember when $100 million was a lot of money?)

(8) RARE ENDORSEMENT. John Picacio gave a strong boost to nominee Larry Elmore in an April 27 post “The 2016 Best Professional Artist Hugo Award”.

Larry Elmore is a legendary and deeply influential fantasy illustration icon, who has had a huge impact on generations of Dungeons & Dragons fans — game players, writers, artists, editors, publishers, designers, filmmakers, convention organizers — and beyond. More to the point, he has a major body of published eligible work in 2015 and that work doesn’t take extensive sleuthing to discern whether it’s eligible. His book The Complete Elmore Volume II contains over 700 drawings from a career dating back to 1981, and was produced and first published in the fall of 2015.

Was Larry Elmore amongst my nomination selections? No. He wasn’t.

Do I believe that ‘No Award’ is an option this year? It’s the Hugos. It’s always an option.

No disrespect to the other finalists, but Larry Elmore winning a Hugo would not be a lifetime achievement award but it would recognize a lifetime of professional art achievement by someone who is legitimately eligible this year.

The history of that winners list would be shinier with his name on it.

Larry Elmore responded in the comments –

thank you for all your nice words, I am honored to be nominated. I never, in my wildest dreams, ever thought of being nominated. I came from the gaming industry (my first big breaks) and it seems like that type of art has been ignored for many years, but I agree that game art has had a large influence on a couple of generations…and still does. Because I take the award seriously, I feel more than honored to be nominated. I have had a career that has spanned over 40 years, I have loved it. I am 67 and I paint or draw every day…I am obsessed I guess…..but I love it, I keep trying to get one good painting!!!!

(9) DIVE! DIVE! If you’re having this problem, Fred Kiesche offers a technological solution.

(10) DAMAGED. Kukuruyo, the artist behind Hugo nominee #GamerGater Life, is under attack. Like some of last year’s slated nominees he’s unwillingly become a ball in the game —

Since i publicy became a gamergate supporter, the ammount of reports i’ve gotten on art sites have increased, many times in very underserved cases (i got a drawing pulled because the characters had sweat. Yes, sweat…) as well as the amount of people lying about me on blogs and such. And i don’t mean making critiques of me, i mean outright lies (one guy even wrote about how i voted for some candidate in the past US elections, which is interesting considering i’m a spaniard living in Spain). Not only that, but my website began to have attemps to break in. At some point i was receiving more than 50 attempts to break in each day, until i upgraded my security.

But this broke into a new level when i was announced as a finalist for best Fan artist at the Hugo awards. Then people in the social justice circles discovered that i support gamergate, and since then, interesting things have been happening one after the other (aside from the wave of verbal attacks, of course).

First one of my gamergate related works got reported and banned from deviantart. Then someone picked a cheap fanart that i was commissioned to do, about a half nude Ms.marvel, and tried to frame me as a pedophile, because aparently the character has 16 in the original canon (something i even didn’t know), ignoring the fact that the character body was adult. This story was writen about in (as far as i know) a blog and then in a comic news article, expanding the idea that i’m a pedophile for an anime style fanart thats no different than the millions upon millions of anime character fanarts out there, and that i was somehow a terrible threat for teenagers out there who have their heroes destroyed by evil me. I was reported in devianart for “pedophilia” and the drawing was taken down. I got reported on twitter. The attemps to break into my website have come arround again. Then they contacted my advertising affiliates, telling them i was hosting child pornography, so they would cease to advertise with me. They acepted a middle ground solution at first, but then they changed their policies, and now i can no longer receive their service. Yes, and advertising website changed their policies just because of me… and just yesteday some guys where trying to get MARVEL to SUE ME because of a fanart!

But hey, i’m sure all of this is just a coincidence! this has nothing to do with the Hugo awards or gamergate. I’m sure it’s just that a whole lot of people randomly decided the same week to try to fuck me up in every way they could, right? this can’t possibly be related with people from a particular ideology, pissed off because someone with the wrong opinions got a Hugo nomination.

(11) TINGLE IS HARD TO TROLL. The Daily Dot compiled the nominee’s tweets to show how “Chuck Tingle counter-trolls the Gamergaters who nominated his erotica for a Hugo Award”.

As hilarious and thorough as these VOXMAN owns are, mere Twitter owns aren’t enough to defeat a campaign whose main goal seems to be attention for Day. He’s expressed, in so many words, that hate can only make him stronger.

That’s where the third prong of Tingle’s trolling makes a difference. As the Daily Dot’s April Siese discussed in her recent profile of Tingle, the hard and sexy author’s true identity remains a mystery. He cannot very well reveal himself by showing up to an award ceremony. So, in his place, he has invited perhaps the one person internet alt-rightists and Gamergate-adjacent agitators hate most.

Zoe Quinn, game developer and anti-harassment activist, was the original target of Gamergate after an ex-boyfriend revealed alleged details of her sex life online. She’s the boogeyman (boogeywoman?) Gamergate frothingly rose up to “defeat,” their imaginary platonic ideal of a “Social Justice Warrior.”

(12) WHAT YOU KNOW V. WHAT YOU CAN PROVE. Andrew Liptak finds a great deal of hearsay to repeat in “Gaming the System: The 1987 Hugo Awards” at Kirkus Reviews. On the other hand, it’s hearsay that a lot of people haven’t read before.

During the lead-up to this convention, Hubbard’s interests seemed to have helped beyond mere sponsorship of convention booklets and workshops. Fans have alleged that Hubbard’s followers worked as a block and voted in such numbers that Black Genesis, the second of the Mission Earth series, found itself a Hugo finalist for Best Novel.  Ian Watson, writing in Conspiracy Theories, noted that the presence of the book as a finalist, was suspect.

“Did all those who nominated [Black Genesis] in the first place merely have supporting memberships — suggesting that the only reason for buying the membership was to nominate BG? Furthermore, how many of the people who nominated BG only nominated BG and nothing else? If we could discover this information from Paul Kincaid [Award Administrator] then we might have an indicator of whether BG was in fact “bought” on to the ballot.”

(13) CURING AWARD FATIGUE. Joe Sherry at Nerds of a Feather, in “Other Genre Awards: Or, So You’re Tired of the Hugo Awards”, suggests awards alternatives to revitalize your jaded taste buds.

So, you’re tired of reading about the Hugo Awards, are you? All the fighting and arguing and gnashing of teeth got you down? Do you still like Awards and the recognition of good things? We have some awards for you! If you’re newer to this whole genre awards scene, the first place I would recommend you start (besides this article) is the Science Fiction Awards Database. There’s quite a bit to peruse and a full directory of all the genre awards.While it is certainly possible that they are missing something, it does seem pretty darn exhaustive. Since there are a horde of genre awards out there, the real question, then, is “What are you looking for from a literary award?”

(14) RULES IDEA. Kevin Standlee’s next proposal – “Plus 2”.

Here’s yet another proposal to try and counteract bad actors (I call them “Griefers”) trying to disrupt the Hugo Awards by deliberately nominating works that they expect will be disliked by the majority of the membership as a whole, taking advantage of the “first-five-past-the-post” nature of the nominating round. The other proposals I’ve written up depend on the entire membership participating in a second round of voting, either with 3-Stage Voting (members vote down potential finalists) or Double Nominations (members select finalists from a list of top 15 semi-finalists).

This proposal invokes the subjective judgment call of the Worldcon Committee (in practice, of the Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee), hereafter just “the Committee” or “the Administrators,” to add works to the final ballot. This proposal would authorize the Committee to add up to two additional works to the final ballot. The Committee’s selection would be limited to adding not more than two works from among those works that were among the top 15 nominees or that appeared on at least 5% of the nominating ballots cast in that category.

(15) THE VIEW FROM SP4. Kate Paulk catches up on her Hugo commentary in “Not An Action Report”.

Let’s just say I do not have much patience or goodwill for those who seem to think that I wasn’t sincere in congratulating the Hugo finalists last week. Sweetheart, just because you can’t lie straight in bed doesn’t mean that other people aren’t capable of honesty.

As for the charming specimen who wants to chase up the ballots of all puppy-aligned voters and throw them out (presumably without refunding memberships – even though every one of those ballots was cast by someone who paid for the privilege, no mention of this little issue was made that I saw (although I freely admit that I could have missed it even if it was in huge flashing neon letters)), mine bears very little resemblance to anyone’s lists, including the Sad Puppies 4 list.

Why? Because SP4 collated a whole lot of people’s preferences. My preferences don’t look like anyone else’s. There might be some overlap here and there, but I’m weird even by geek standards.

The second paragraph doubtless is a response to ideas discussed in Facebook’s Journeymen of Fandom group thread, as quoted by Vox Day this week.

(16) DESIGNATED DRIVER. How did this sober advice get on the internet?

(17) INSEUSSANCE. RedWombat made a metrical prediction in a comment.

“Pooh-pooh to the fans!” he was grinchily humming.
“They’re finding out now that No Award is coming!

They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their blogs will be blogged and their cries will be cried
My Xanatos Gambit will not be denied!

That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “that I simply must hear!”
He paused, and the Grinch put a hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising out of a tweet
It started in sour but then it went sweet!

And this tweet wasn’t sad!
Why this tweet sounded glad!

Every fan down in Fanville, (well, not quite all)
(Getting fans to agree is an order quite tall)
Was laughing at Tingle’s great big brass…fortitude.

He hadn’t stopped fans from enjoying the Hugo, just the same!
He tried to stop fandom, but fandom still came!
(Though not quite like in books with Chuck Tingle’s name.)

And what happened next? Well, on Twitter they say
The Grinch’s gall bladder grew three sizes that day.

And so the Grinch stands, while elk snivel and whine
Claiming “Don’t you all get it?! Victory’s mine!

Stop thinking it’s funny! Stop having fun!
Why won’t you acknowledge that I’ve really won?!”

But in Fanville it’s Christmas, and fans know it is true–
That this time the Grinch lost to…Literally Who.

 [Thanks to Doctor Science, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/28/16 All My Hugos

We’ll divide the Scrolls again today. This is the Hugo-oriented one.

(1) PERMISSION GRANTED. Glenn Hauman, rebutting a post by John Scalzi, says creators should not be discouraged from withdrawing, in “Neil Gaiman Does Not Need A Pity Hugo” at ComicMix.

(By the way, what follows is offered by Hauman as a hypothetical Neil Gaiman quote – Neil hasn’t actually said this.)

Neil Gaiman is well within his rights to say, “Yes, I believe Sandman: Overture is Hugo-worthy, but I don’t think I should win just because Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor was pushed off the ballot. I said The Sculptor was the best graphic novel I’ve read in years, it says so on the cover of the book. If I’m not going against that, it’s not a fair competition.”

Neil Gaiman does not need a pity Hugo. He’s already won five Hugos, fairly. He does not need a fixed fight to win them.

Lois McMaster Bujold does not need a pity Hugo. She’s already won four Hugos for best novel, tying the record. She does not need to play against the literary equivalent of the Washington Generals.

Stephen King does not need a pity Hugo. He’s Stephen Goddamn King. (And he won one in 1982.)

And getting votes for being the only good candidate in a bad field, a deliberately weakened field, is getting a pity Hugo….

(2) HUGO AWARDS REPEALED. Matthew Foster (who credits my fan writer nomination to the Sad Puppies, because we all know how much they love me) offers this take: “Here We Go Again – Welcome To The Vox Awards”.

So there it is. You, the regular fans, made nine choices. That’s it. The rest were hand picked by Vox or the Sads. Might you (the plural you) have chosen some of those same works/people? You might have. But you didn’t. Vox chose them. And the Pups chose the rest Y’all (going Southern for clarity) did not. Y’all chose nine and that is all. Sure you can go with the “Well, I would have…” Yes, but you didn’t. Vox did. So if you are happy with Vox handing your choices, then go ahead and just somehow say it’s all OK.

And that’s what I’m already seeing. And it started last year. George and John and Mary, much as I like them, were wrong. They went with the “Oh, just vote for the best of what’s there and it will work out.” No, that wasn’t the thing to do and it didn’t work out. This year even the Sads didn’t do that well, though they did better than fandom. Vox did. The 2016 Hugos are NOT the Hugo Awards. They are The Vox-hugo. They will celebrate the best in what Vox likes. If you go along with it, you are not voting for the Hugo winner. You will be voting for the Vox-hugo winner.

There are no Hugo awards for 2016.

(3) LOVE WON’T KEEP US TOGETHER. Amanda S. Green expresses her vision of fandom in “And so it continues — Hugo Awards Part Whatever”.

The Dragon Awards are exactly what a fan award should be. You don’t have to pay for the privilege to nominate or vote. All you have to do is register online. You can embrace your inner geekdom and fandom and not worry about someone condemning you because you might not be of the same political or social ilk as the next guy. It is a celebration of the genre, something the Hugo used to be.

So here’s the thing. Let the Fans have the Hugo. Vox has already pretty much burned it down anyway. Let the Fans have the award they can be “proud” of. Let the Hugo fade into obscurity. Wait, it pretty much already has where the every day fan is concerned. Fandom is aging. Fandom (with a small f) is growing. We see it with the ever increasing size of the various Comic-Con conventions. We see it with the increasing size of DragonCon. Those cons will help save fandom. I’m not sure Fandom can be, not as long as it continues to insulate itself from the rest of us.

So here’s my recommendation. If you are going to vote for the Hugos, do so based solely on one criterion. Do you believe the work deserves to win the Hugo, a fan award that once meant everything in the genre and not just to some fans and authors but to fandom in general? If you do, then vote for it. Do not vote for something — or against it — because of who nominated it. Vote on the work. Does it entertain? Is it well-written? If it has a message, did you enjoy that, learn from it or did it beat you over the head until you wanted to throw it against the wall?

In other words, unlike the other side, I’m advocating that you judge the work itself and nothing else. For me, I’m registering for the Dragon Awards and casting my vote there. Then I’ll stand back and watch Vox bring the Hugos to their knees because Fandom was foolish enough to think they could push him into a corner and he would back down.

(4) SPLAT. Marian Crane’s “Another year, another Hugo Awards pie fight” is well worth a visit for the pie fight GIF.

At least one author (Dr. Chuck Tingle, of Amazon Kindle Dinosaur Erotica fame) was apparently Puppy-chosen for his potential shock value to the fainting left-wing violets. Which shows the former might not understand fannish humor on the left. Because Tingle…Tingle is like ‘Robot Chicken’ meets Larry Flynt, with a generous helping of meth. He’s filthy and hilarious. But I read andy offutt in his heyday, so don’t go by my tastes, please.

I’m probably a bad person for laughing my ass off at this year’s nominations. The entertainment value alone is priceless. I am about as likely to write something worthy of being nominated as I am to be the first mayor on the Moon, so I normally wouldn’t care about the Hugos. But this year at WorldCon (MidAmerica Con, by its formal name), the Hugo nomination and voting procedures are going to be changed by attending members. Which is why memberships on both right and left, conservative and liberal, have soared this year.

(5) NOVEL IDEA. Michael Damien Thomas posts a thought never before contemplated by the internet.

(6) THE CHORF TINGLE ASTERISK. Larry Correia “On the Hugo Award Announcement” (April 27).

This is going to be brief because I retired from the Sad Puppies campaign last year.

All I can really say to the CHORFs is that they had a chance to deal with people like me or Brad, but instead they decided to be a bunch of pricks and hand out wooden assholes while block voting No Award. In the process they insulted disgruntled fans, and proved that they were a bunch of cliquish elitists just like I’d said they were to begin with.

That’s how you end up with Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Have fun with that.

(7) N.K. JEMISIN TWEETS ABOUT CHUCK TINGLE.

(8) STAYING ON. The crew of the fancast Tales to Terrify, a Hugo nominee on the Rabid Puppies slate, tells “How our 2016 Hugo nomination because a real Tale to Terrify”.

Then, just yesturday, we found out that Tales to Terrify was one of the fancasts on the Rabid Puppies slate. To be honest, it was like the whole thing turned into a real-life horror story. Something to make our most stalwart listener’s blood run cold.

Still reeling from the sheer shock and disappointment, we just wanted to let our listeners and the science fiction community know that we did not know we were on the Rabid Puppies slate. We would never agree to be on their slate. We have never agreed with either the Sad or Rabid Puppies, or their ideas about what science fiction should be and who should write it, or their bullying tactics. We do not support the Puppies’ attempts to ruin the Hugo Awards. We are disgusted that we were drawn into their ugliness without our knowledge. In the words of someone close to Tales to Terrify, “this has been like being presented a polished turd.”

We’re all sickened by it. Tales to Terrify and the entire District of Wonders has always (and will always) celebrate a diverse range of voices, be they authors, narrators, or editors. We do not agree on shutting anyone out or any form of discrimination.

Larry Santoro put so much into the podcast. The entire community adored him – he was a powerhouse and the rock on which the podcast stood. It crushed us all when he passed. Tales to Terrify being on the Rabid Puppies list like this threatens to dishonour his reputation and everything he built the podcast to be. If Larry were around today I’d want him to be proud of what we’ve accomplished. And the Rabid Puppies want to tear that down and disrespect his memory. And it sickens me. It sickens everyone of us. Last year, these Puppies peed all over so many Award categories, and the biggest winner was “no award” – whether there were deserving nominees on the ballot or not. So much of the joy was just taken out of the Hugos for so many… What the Puppies did wasn’t right.

Now it looks like this year’s awards will carry the stink of these Puppies as well. We only hope that the changes in Hugo Award rules for next year will stop them messing on the red carpet anymore. Let’s get back to celebrating what’s great – the works we love.

For now, we need to decide what to do about Tales to Terrify’s sh… uh… slate-stained Hugo nomination. It was a hard call. Honestly, it still is.

After lots of conversations today, and checking out the wise words of George R. R. Martin, John Scalzi, and others, we have decided to allow our nomination to stand. In the LA Times yesterday, John Scalzi said “Hugo voters are smart enough, and trust their own tastes enough, to know the truth.” So, I’d just like to invite you to have a listen when the Voters Packet comes out, think about all the nominations in all the categories, and vote for whatever you consider to be deserving, according to your conscience and good judgement. I’d invite you to vote based on merit, not on a slate. What you feel is worthy.

(9) RULES CHANGE PROPOSAL. Kevin Standlee has distilled his ideas about “Hugo Awards: 3-Stage Voting”.

The key points of 3-Stage Voting are:

Nominating Stage Does Not Change: Nominate up to five works per category per member, with members of the previous, current, and following year’s Worldcons all eligible to nominate.

New Semi-Final Round: The top 15 nominees in each category are put up to a yes/no vote on each nominee in a new Semi-Final round, with only the current Worldcon’s members eligible to vote.

Final Ballot Voting Does Not Change: The five semi-finalists from the first round with the most nominations that are not eliminated in the second round (and who don’t decline or are found to be ineligible) go on to the final ballot, which is voted by the same Instant Runoff Voting system we have used the 1960s.

Now let’s unpack the details of how this would work, because there are a lot of them, and they interact in ways that you might not expect and that I think actually improve the overall process in many ways….

(10) ALWAYS POLITICAL. “Sci-fi’s Tea Party trolls go to war: Battle over prestigious Hugo Awards heats up” at Salon.

…It might be nice to think that science fiction, or any kind of literature or culture, could be free of ideology. But the best science fiction writers have often been deeply political. Perhaps the genre’s greatest-ever novelist, H.G. Wells, was a socialist. Frank Herbert’s “Dune” was driven by environmentalism. Robert Heinlein was a lefty who became a kind of military-worshipping libertarian. Octavia Butler wrote novels suffused which feminism and issues of race. One of Ursula K. Le Guin’s most famous books, “The Left Hand of Darkness,” looked, without scorn, at a race of people who change their genders repeatedly throughout their lives. Philip K. Dick managed to be various odd mixtures of left and right, depending on the time period. Orson Scott Card, author of “Ender’s Game,” is an opponent of same-sex marriage but liberal on some issues….

(11) PERSEVERANCE. Joe Sherry shares Hugo thoughts at Nerds of a Feather.

Now, to loop all of this back to how I opened this essay because it gets to how I really want to respond to the Hugo Awards and how I intend to move forward both through the rest of this year and in the future: I’m going to continue to participate in the Hugo Awards by sharing awesome work, by being excited about cool stuff, by talking about cool stuff, and also by looking at and reading as much of the nominated work as I can. There’s some really good stuff nominated, even if I might not like exactly how some of it made it onto the ballot. I’m not going to burn it all because I don’t like  You can’t take the sky from me. I still love the Hugo Awards, even on days when I don’t necessarily like them all that much. That’s also what I do.

(12) A SINGAPORE FIRST. Benjamin Cheah, author of Flashpoint: Titan, comments on his nomination.

This nomination marks a milestone in Singapore literature. If my research is correct, this is the first time a Singaporean has been nominated as a finalist for the Hugo Awards. SFF is borderless, defined not by nationalities or arbitrary identity markers of writers or characters, but by its fearless exploration of technology, ideas and values. SFF, at its greatest, is an analysis, assessment, and affirmation of the human soul. I am proud to have played my part in growing this field, even if it were but a small role.

I acknowledge that the Hugos have been mired in controversy over the past few years. 2016 is no different. But no matter your position, if you are a voter, I ask only that judge each work on its own merits. Let the awards go to the most deserving, to the best and brightest in the field.

This is how we can make the Hugos great again.

(13) POETRY CORNER. Pixel Frost in a comment on File 770.

Whose bar this is I think I know
She’s on another planet though
And yet it can’t be sci-fi here
The bar’s a tavern, and there’s snow

The audience must think it queer
Despite AIs and starships here
This can’t be real SF, it’s fake
Because of snow. It’s very clear.

They give their puzzled heads a shake
And say there must be some mistake
The good reviews must make them weep
For purity of sci-fi’s sake.

But space is lovely dark and deep
And there are deadlines yet to keep
And chapters yet before I sleep
And chapters yet before I sleep

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]