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.]

Pixel Scroll 4/20/16 Through the Scrolling-Glass

(1) FARSCAPE ON BIG SCREEN. ComicBookMovie.com reports “Rockne O’Bannon Officially Confirms FASRSCAPE Movie”.

After years of rumours, Rockne O’Bannon has finally confirmed that a Farscape movie is actually happening. The show was cancelled back in 2003 and a mini-series titled Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars was aired in 2004 to provide closure to the fans but it appears we shall be getting more Farscape in the near future. Confirmation comes from TV.com’s Ed Shrinker who had a friend that attended the Showrunners panel at Wondercon which O’Bannon was a part of.

(2) BEAGLE COMING TO BALTICON. Peter S. Beagle will be a Special Guest of Honor at Balticon 50, taking place over Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore, MD.

“It’s Peter’s birthday, but the fans are getting the gift,” says Beagle’s attorney, Kathleen Hunt.

(3) AXANAR IS DOCKED. In “’Star Trek: Axanar’ Fan Film Docked After Copyright Suit from CBS/Paramount”, Elizabeth Howell gives Space.com readers a status report on the lawsuit.

… According to Peters, Winston & Strawn subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. CBS and Paramount responded, he said, by amending portions of the complaint. The new complaint alleges that copyrights were violated in matters such as the pointy ears and “distinctive eyebrows” of Vulcan, the gold-shirt uniforms of Federation officers, and the Klingon language, according to documents posted by The Hollywood Reporter on March 13.

New motion to dismiss

In the meantime, the production of “Axanar” is on hold pending the result of the lawsuit. If the lawsuit is resolved in the film’s favor, Peters said, production will still be delayed, as it would take a couple of months to organize everything, including coordinating the actors’ schedules and resuming work on elements such as the costumes.

Winston & Strawn filed a new motion to dismiss on March 28. CBS and Paramount have yet to file a response in court.

“The motion provides examples as to how CBS and Paramount overreach in what they claim are elements protected under copyright, and fail to be specific as to exactly which copyrights have been infringed upon; and, in the case of the potential feature film Axanar, claims of alleged copyright infringement cannot be made against a film that doesn’t yet exist,” read part of an Axanar statement on the motion to dismiss.

(4) A THOUSAND WORDS IS WORTH A PICTURE OF A CAT. At Camestros Felapton’s blog, Timothy the Talking Cat has his claws out: “Ctrl-Alt-Delete – A Reviewing”.

[Timothy] No sarcasm. Don’t forget, this time I control the narrative. I can make you say anything. Say “I’m a poo-poo head”
[Camestros] I’m a poo-poo head.
[Timothy] OK say I’m a fish’s butt.
[Camestros] You are a fish’s butt.
[Timothy] Oops – forgot the speech marks. So back to the book – naturally you hated it?
[Camestros] You know I actually enjoyed quite a bit of it.

Despite what you might assume from this exchange, they spend most of their time reviewing books. But as today’s Top Level Poster I can quote whatever part I like.

(5) ICE FIVE. Theory: Game of Thrones is science fiction, not fantasy: “This Is the Most Insane and Compelling Theory for How the Wall in Game of Thrones Stands”. Esquire’s John Maher delves into the ideas advanced by vlogger Preston Jacobs.

Let’s go back to the Wall, a prime example in the case of Game of Thrones. Maybe there is some sort of magic keeping it up. “Or maybe,” Jacobs suggests, “there’s some sort of refrigeration unit.”

It seems farfetched, until you start digging deeper—and Jacobs, an auditor for the U.S. State Department by day, is an expert at doing just that. After re-reading the series a couple of years ago, he jumped right into reading the vast majority of Martin’s extant works, including every story that’s taken place in the author’s most frequently visited setting, a shared universe called the Thousand Worlds….

The Long Night itself seems to hint at the explanation for how this world—as Jacobs and other theorists do, let’s call it Planetos—became the way it was. A winter that lasts for a generation seems pretty hard to believe, even in a world with seasons as crazy as those on Planetos. In the first season of Game of Thrones, Tyrion discusses with Maester Aemon and Lord Commander Mormont the longest winter he’d ever lived through, and mentions it lasted three years. But as Jacobs points out, there is such a thing as a generation-long winter in the real world: a nuclear winter.

In the Thousand Worlds universe, humanity is at perpetual war with multiple hive-minded species—a form of life that pops up in A Song of Ice and Fire as well, and which Jacobs explores in detail in one of his theories. During this endless war, the hive-minded races typically destroy human worlds using nuclear weapons, wait a hundred years for the dust to settle, and then invade and enslave the survivors. And in the interim, something familiar happens, as it does on High Kavalaan, a planet in Martin’s first novel, Dying of the Light.

“I think the book that really made me think Westeros could be post-apocalyptic was Dying of the Light,” says Jacobs. “When he started writing about nuking people, with everybody hiding in mines and founding their own houses and holdfasts, it just occurred to me that the Long Night could be a nuclear winter.”

(6) HEINLEIN ON THE LINE. At the MidAmericCon II site, Toastmaster Pat Cadigan has blogged her fannish origin story.

Forty years ago, in the spring of 1976 in Lawrence, Kansas, the phone rang in the late afternoon, about an hour and a half before I had to go and teach a belly-dance class. When I picked up, a deep, warm-as-a-woolly-blanket man’s voice said, ‘Hello, Mrs. Cadigan. This is Robert Heinlein.’

And I freakin’ died.

Seriously; I died. This is my afterlife. Isn’t it great?

Okay, let me back up a little….

(7) HUGO TIME. It’s no coincidence that Hugo Administrator Dave McCarty and staff are doing a lot of work just about now:

First, on behalf of the Hugo administration staff and all the rest of the folks making preparations to run MidAmeriCon II, I want to thank all of the people who participated in our Hugo and Retro Hugo nomination processes. There were over 4,000 of you and that is a new record participation by quite a large margin.

There’s a large number of tasks we have to do to administer the Hugos. Identifying eligible nominators and voters, setting up servers and web pages to handle secure nominations and voting, answering hundreds of questions about the process for the members, making sure everyone’s nominations are counted appropriately even if they don’t use the same name for something they loved that all the other folks who loved it used or nominated it in the wrong category accidently, locating and contacting the potential finalists to get their acceptance and inform them of how the process works and what to expect, coordinating with convention events staff to run the awards ceremonies and pre-receptions, and numerous other tasks. The previous run on sentence would be staggeringly large if we tried to give a full accounting of everything the awards administration entails. It can be fun, it can be exhausting, and it can even sometimes be frustrating. When we do a good job, though, it’s very rewarding.

(8) HUGO LOVE FROM WORDPRESS. Kevin Standlee’s The Hugo Awards website came in for recognition today —

(9) NEIL GAIMAN. Gaiman on mourning Pratchett — “Good Omens, Cheap Seats, and the Memorial”.

I haven’t blogged for a long time, but right now I’m on a train, and it feels like a good time to catch up. This morning I was interviewed by Charlie Russell for his documentary on Terry Pratchett. (Charlie made the previous BBC Terry Pratchett documentaries, Living With Alzheimer’s, Choosing to Die, and Facing Extinction.) We did it in a Chinese restaurant in Gerrard Street, because Terry and I had first met in a Chinese restaurant, in February 1985. It was easy and pleasant, and then suddenly it wasn’t. I was talking about the last time I’d seen Terry, and what we said, and I found myself crying uncontrollably, unable to talk. And then I pulled it together, and we carried on….

The memorial the other night was beautiful. I wore my mourning frock coat that Kambriel made for me, and I went out that afternoon and bought a white shirt and a black tie. (Actually, I bought four shirts, which, given how often I wear white shirts, should take me easily to the end of my lifetime.)

I read the introduction to A Slip of the Keyboard, which I’d written for Terry while he was alive. I got sad at the end but that was fine. And I held it together just fine when Rob, Terry’s amazing right-hand man, presented me with a big black author’s hat Terry had left me. I couldn’t put it on, though. I wasn’t ready for that. (I tried it on later, in the dressing room. I looked, to my mind, like a rabbinical cowboy assassin. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)…

(10) MORE LIKE INDIE FOR SMART PEOPLE. Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Going Indie For Dummies: You Lays Down Your Money” at Mad Genius Club, begins her survey of professional services available to indie authors with a warning –

I cannot emphasize enough that you should at all costs avoid paying money up front to have any of the necessary stuff done to your book.  Particularly if your indie ebook is a short story or a novella, it’s QUITE possible you’ll never see that money again….

Then she follows with a lot of practical experience. (And no, I am not picking this quote as a setup for predictable comments about Baen copyediting, but because writers in general suffer through this.)

b) Copy editing: even houses confuse this with “editing” and I’ll get a list of typos or repeated words from editors who are supposed to be doing high-grade structural.  It’s what most people think of as “editing.”

PLEASE make sure you get a copy editor who actually knows what he/she is doing.  Again it is too easy for a copy editor to screw with a book by making the wrong choices, and/or not getting what you’re trying to say.  (I recently had a copy edit that suggested changing “calloused hands” to “callous hands” — yes, her hands are cold and unfeeling.  What the actual F?)  so several steps:

1- look for a copy-editor with references and call/email those references where the copy-editor can’t hear/read and ask for the real skinny and how hard they are to work with.

2- ask them what manual of style they use.  If you get back “manual?” or “I just use sensible grammar” and this is a paid copy-editor it’s time to bail, ladies, gentlemen and fuzzy toys.  There are many ways of doing things including punctuation (unlike what your grammar teacher told you.)  I favor, for my own checking, Strunk and White which has a slightly British flavor.  Most publishing houses use Chicago Manual of Style.  Baen uses Words to Print (I think that’s the title.)  You want to make sure your books are consistent, so make sure your copyeditor uses a style you can live with.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

(12) TODAY’S OTHER HISTORY LESSON. Hmm. Good point.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born April 20, 1937 — George Takei, age 79 today.
  • Born April 20, 1964 – Andy Serkis

(14) IN BOOKS TO COME. “Andy Weir, Author of The Martian, Shares Details About His Next Novel” at The Smithsonian. Here’s a guy nobody will ever accuse of having SJW tendencies.

Your next book will have a woman as the central character. Given that “gender wars” in science fields is still a contentious topic, why did you decide to go with a lady lead? What kinds of challenges does your protagonist face, and does her gender play any role in those challenges?

I don’t take part in any political debates. So I’m certainly not trying to make a point by having a female lead. She’s just a character I came up with that I thought was cool, so she’s the lead.

The book is another scientifically accurate story. The main character is a low-level criminal in a city on the moon. Her challenges are a mix of technical/scientific problems, as well as juggling personal interactions—staying a step ahead of the local police, working with shady and dangerous people to do illegal things.

She doesn’t encounter any distinctly “female” challenges. There’s no love plot. And the story takes place in a future society where there is practically no sexism.

(15) NOT JUST TANG. The BBC discusses “Four ways NASA is teaching us how to live more sustainably”.

2. Clean water

In space, water is in short supply, so Nasa has developed an innovative way to filter waste water on the ISS using chemical and distillation processes. This lets it turn liquid from the air, sweat and even urine into drinkable H2O.

In fact, since 2008, more than 22,500 pounds of water have been recycled from urine alone on the ISS – something that would have cost more than $225m (£160m) to launch and deliver to the station from Earth.

“Most people are horrified when they see what we drink!” says Ms Coleman. “But the filtered water up there just tastes beautiful, it really is delicious.”

Nasa has since licensed the technology to companies on Earth, which have created portable filters for use in places where fresh drinking water is scarce.

Filters produced by US firm Water Security Corporation, for example, have been installed in villages across Mexico and Iraq, allowing residents to purify water from contaminated sources.

(16) RILEY INTERVIEWED. David Dubrow conducted an “Interview With David A Riley” after the author dropped off a Horror Writers of America award jury last week amidst controversy.

Why did you withdraw from the jury of the Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology?

Because, as I saw it, that was the best thing to do for the good of the HWA. There is nothing prestigious or glamorous about being a juror. It does involve a lot of unpaid, unseen, arduous work reading an enormous number of books by authors or publishers or, in the case of anthologies, editors, keen to have their books included amongst the finalists for the Stoker awards. Of course the juries cannot add more than a few books, but it does mean reading all those submitted, good, bad or indifferent. I know from when I was a juror for First Novels this can be a hell of a chore. Standing down, therefore, was easy – it saved me a lot of hard work, some of it far from enjoyable. I only put my name forward because the HWA sent out a last minute email appealing for volunteers from active members for this position. I thought I was helping the HWA by stepping forward, never realising the reaction stirred up by certain individuals, some of whom already had a personal grudge against the HWA and are not even members….

Are you still part of the UK National Front?

I resigned in 1983 and have not been involved since.

A lot of people have characterized you as a fascist. Would you say that’s a fair description of your politics?

No.  It’s an easy label to flash around, usually by those who are fascists themselves, particularly from the left. Fascists don’t believe in free speech and try to suppress it for their opponents. I have never in my life tried to do that. They are also prepared to use physical violence against their political opponents. I was never involved in anything like that. I would add that during the time I was involved in the party any member who associated with a neo-nazi group, either in Britain or overseas, faced expulsion. This, I can confirm, was enforced.

(17) EISNER AWARD MANGA. Brigid Alverson reviews six works in her post “This Year’s Eisner-Nominated Manga Shows What the Medium Can Do” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Nominees for the Eisner Awards, the top honors in the comics industry, were announced on April 19. This year’s nomnees in the manga category (technically, “Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia”) offer a range of different types of manga, from genre comedy to poignant literary works. As a former Eisner judge myself, I know how hard the choices are, and this year’s slate is exceptionally good. All these series are accessible to non-manga readers as well as longtime fans. Let’s dive in and take a look!

Assassination Classroom, by Yusei Matsui This was the surprise nominee, because it’s not exactly a highbrow series, though it is wickedly funny. The setup is totally over the top: a class of misfit high school students are assigned the job of killing their teacher, Koro-sensei, an octopus-shaped alien who has announced he will destroy the earth at the end of the school year. Armed with weapons that are harmless to humans but deadly to their teacher, they study his weaknesses and plot new attacks, and new assassins join the class as the series goes on. What makes it so fun (and so weird) is that Koro-sensei is actually a really good teacher, and he uses his superpowers to help his students as much as to evade their attacks. He’s quirky, overly fond of gossip, a bit self-indulgent, and he often finishes a face-off with an opponent by doing something silly like giving them a manicure. This is a series that shonen fans will particularly enjoy, as there are a lot of inside jokes about the conventions of the genre, but it’s also a fun action comedy for anyone willing to go all in on suspension of disbelief. There is a darker side to Koro-sensei, and occasionally he lets the jovial mask slip, adding a bit of edge. The judges nominated volumes 2-7 of this series for the award.

(18) STEM INTO STEAM. Wil Wheaton has posted “My speech to the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival”.

Which brings me to funding.

You’re never too young for science – getting children interested in the world around them, and asking them to try and figure out how things work is a fundamentally good idea. Curious children will naturally gravitate towards STEAM subjects. Let’s encourage that and make sure that a child who wants to explore that particular part of our world has everything she needs to get there, and keep learning about and making awesome things when she leaves. This is and will continue to be a challenge. Despite the clear and undeniable benefits of a comprehensive education, including science education, not only to individuals but to our entire society, we have allowed the funding of our schools to become part of the culture wars. This is as disgraceful as it is predictable. When so many of our poorly-named “leaders” deny scientific consensus on everything from climate change to vaccines, a scientifically literate and well-informed populace can be tremendously inconvenient to them and theiir corporate owners. Well … good. Let’s be inconvenient to them. Let’s educate and empower a generation who will be real leaders, and carry our nation into the future.

We all know that it’s possible to fund STEAM education. The money is there, it’s just being spent on other things. Making enough noise and applying enough sustained pressure to change this will not be easy. It will actually be quite hard. But when has America ever shied away from doing things that are hard? Everything worth doing is hard, and President Kennedy said as much when he challenged our nation to go to the moon. Right now, decades later, every single one of us has benefitted in some way from that commitment. Right now, a generation of future scientists can look to MARS and beyond, because nearly fifty years ago, we did whatever it took to go to the moon.

Why aren’t we doing that today? Because it’s hard?

 

(19) 2016 SPECULATIVE FICTION EDITORS. The Book Smugglers are already “Announcing the Editors of Speculative Fiction 2016 & Call for Submissions”.

In which we announce the editors for the 2016 edition of the award-winning collection Speculative Fiction

As you probably know by now, we are the new publishers of the ongoing editions of Speculative Fiction: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary – a collection that celebrates the best in online Science Fiction and Fantasy nonfiction. We are currently hard at work on the publication of SpecFic ’15 – edited by Foz Meadows and Mark Oshiro – and we feel it is time to move on to the next very important step for next year: announcing the two new editors for 2016.

Since its inception in 2012, the Speculative Fiction collection has been envisioned as an annual publication, curated by a new pair of editors each year. Each incumbent pair is also given the weighty task of selecting the next year’s editors.

Today, we are extremely proud to finally announce the editors of Speculative Fiction 2016: Liz Bourke and Mahvesh Murad!

Apparently items for the 2015 collection needed to be submitted to the editors? Well, I didn’t send in anything from File 770, so that’s that.

(20) CELEBRITY VERSIONS OF BB-8 AUCTIONED. Til April 24 you can bid on a variety of BB-8 droids that have been kitted up by celebrities. 100%* of the proceeds from this auction will be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, on behalf of Force For Change.

The Londonist ran an article and a gallery of photos.

We enjoyed the recent Star Wars film. But, like many, we couldn’t help thinking that BB-8 would look far more fetching dressed up as the globus cruciger from the Crown Jewels, or else painted in the colours of the Union Flag, tarted up like a teapot, or made to look like one of the Beatles.

Our wishes are fulfilled at a new exhibition and charity fundraiser. The cutesy droid has enjoyed a makeover from dozens of artists and celebrities, with the best efforts on show at White Rainbow Gallery (47 Mortimer Street) until 21 April.

Contributing celebrities include Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Warwick Davis, Simon Pegg (responsible for the Beatles droid, above), Paddy McGuinnes, Jonathan Ross, Nicola Adams and the band Years and Years. Each has daubed the droid with a design celebrating an element of British culture, from Robin Hood to the Sex Pistols.

bb8 auction

(21) LOOK UP IN THE SKY. Alastair Reynolds is in awe by the end of a session of starwatching (“Pattern Recognition”) —

The light I caught had travelled 25,000 years to reach my telescope. If there’s ever a day when that sort of thing doesn’t send a shiver down my spine, please feel free to shoot me.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Will R., Steven H Silver, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 3/31/16 The One They Pixel, The One You’ll Scroll By

(1) IT’S BIG. At Entertainment Weekly, “Jeff VanderMeer explains what it’s like to edit The Big Book of Science Fiction”.

During one part of our research, we even had to contact the Czech ambassador to the Philippines for intel on particular authors; in another life this man had been the editor of a Czech science-fiction magazine that, before the Wall came down, paid Western writers in items like books of surreal erotic photography. He had become an expert, due to his travels, on fiction in many countries. From him we received a flurry of photocopies and advice that will likely inform future projects. It’s a small world, but also a big, complex one, too.

(2) ENOUGH PI? NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory answers the question “How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?”

We posed this question to the director and chief engineer for NASA’s Dawn mission, Marc Rayman. Here’s what he said:

Thank you for your question! This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a question like this. In fact, it was posed many years ago by a sixth-grade science and space enthusiast who was later fortunate enough to earn a doctorate in physics and become involved in space exploration. His name was Marc Rayman.

To start, let me answer your question directly. For JPL’s highest accuracy calculations, which are for interplanetary navigation, we use 3.141592653589793. Let’s look at this a little more closely to understand why we don’t use more decimal places. I think we can even see that there are no physically realistic calculations scientists ever perform for which it is necessary to include nearly as many decimal points as you present. Consider these examples:

  1. The most distant spacecraft from Earth is Voyager 1. It is about 12.5 billion miles away. Let’s say we have a circle with a radius of exactly that size (or 25 billion miles in diameter) and we want to calculate the circumference, which is pi times the radius times 2. Using pi rounded to the 15th decimal, as I gave above, that comes out to a little more than 78 billion miles. We don’t need to be concerned here with exactly what the value is (you can multiply it out if you like) but rather what the error in the value is by not using more digits of pi. In other words, by cutting pi off at the 15th decimal point, we would calculate a circumference for that circle that is very slightly off. It turns out that our calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle would be wrong by 1.5 inches. Think about that. We have a circle more than 78 billion miles around, and our calculation of that distance would be off by perhaps less than the length of your little finger….

(3) WHICH GHOST WROTE THE MOST? “Houdini manuscript ‘Cancer of Superstition’ divides opinion over Lovecraft, Eddy ghostwriting”. The Chicago Tribune has the story.

…Potter & Potter lists Lovecraft as the ghostwriter, in part citing “An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia” by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, a 2001 anthology of Lovecraft’s work. The book says, however, Houdini approached Lovecraft and Lovecraft’s fellow Providence, R.I., author C.M. Eddy Jr. “jointly to ghostwrite a full-scale book on superstition.”

But how much of “The Cancer of Superstition” was the work of Lovecraft vs. Eddy is up for debate.

Douglas A. Anderson, co-founder of Wormwoodiana, a blog dedicated to researching and discussing the work of Lovecraft and his peers, said one needs to look at “The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces,” a 1966 Lovecraft anthology edited by August Derleth that published a detailed outline and the project’s first chapter. Derleth, who had exchanged letters with Eddy prior to the book’s publication, listed Lovecraft as the author of the outline but Eddy as the author of the chapter….

(4) CASSIDY IN GALLERY SHOW. Kyle Cassidy’s photos from Toni Carr’s Geek Knits book will be part of an art show opening April 1 at the Stanek Gallery in Philadelphia. The book, subtitled Over 30 Projects for Fantasy Fanatics, Science Fiction Fiends, and Knitting Nerds, has been mentioned here in the Scroll before. Cassidy is known in sf for his photographs of fans taken at the Montreal Worldcon in 2009.

EPSON MFP image

thread of art exhibit

(5) LOSE THE RECUSE. Kevin Standlee says Cheryl Morgan ”Talked Me Into It”.

I am quite obviously eligible for the Best Fan Writer Hugo Award for the stuff I write on this LJ plus a whole lot of writing elsewhere, possibly most notably on Mike Glyer’s File 770 news site. But as people were talking me up for a Hugo Award nomination, I was uneasy, given that I’m Chairman of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee and possibly the most visible member of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee. While I’m not required to recuse myself from consideration, I thought it possible that it would be unseemly and that I’d be considered using undue influence. But Cheryl Morgan wrote yesterday about this subject, and I found her argument persuasive. So if you should in fact think that my writing is award-worthy, don’t think that you’re throwing your vote away to mention me.

(6) INFLUENCE VS PERFORMANCE. Or as Cheryl Morgan said it in “Kevin and the Hugos”

My view on this is that it is one thing to have a high position and get nominated for something else (in my case being on the staff of Clarkesworld). It is quite another to have a high position and get nominated for doing that job. In my case, if my WSFS job was getting me votes for my Clarkesworld work, that could be construed as unfair. (I think it is silly to suggest that it was, and the Business Meeting agreed, but that’s not relevant here.) In Kevin’s case the job and the work are the same thing. So yes, having the job makes him noticed, but he’s being nominated for doing the job. That seems entirely reasonable to me.

(7) YOUTUBE STARS. Here’s a trailer for Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, which will be “available on all major digital platforms” on June 7.

(8) COME CORRECT. Adam-Troy Castro says “No, You Have Not Been Nominated For a Hugo This Year”.

Attention to a certain self-published author: no, you have not been nominated for a Hugo this year. Now, I don’t know whether you’ve made an honest mistake, have fallen prey to wishful thinking, or are actively lying, but in any event, you are wrong; just because some folks have filled out the name of your magnum opus on the online Hugo nomination form, doesn’t mean you are “nominated;” certainly not before the nomination period closes, this Thursday.

(9) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. Kate Paulk holds forth on “The Problem of Being Too Good” at Mad Genius Club.

One of the things I learned was that in pretty much any creative endeavor the really good ones don’t look like they’re making any effort. They’re so good they make it look easy. They make it feel easy, and they appear to effortlessly produce the effect they’re aiming for, be it a gem of a musical performance or a story that’s a perfect or near perfect example of its art – and it’s so apparently effortless and clear that those of lesser understanding can too easily fail to see the work the author or musician or artist has carefully concealed behind the appearance of easy. That is why seeing the writer sweat is annoying.

Of course, this leads to those of lesser understanding (many of whom think they’re the bees knees and – to paraphrase Douglas Adams – the every other assorted insectile erogenous zone in existence) thinking that a book (or performance or whatever) that looks effortless actually is effortless and therefore is easy. Simply put, they mistake sweat and visible exertion for skill.

What this reminds me of is my favorite Robert Moore Williams quote. Williams was a self-admitted hack sf writer. He was leery of losing sales by being too literary. He said, “You have to stink ’em up just right.”

(10) WHERE THE ROCKS ARE. An amazing map of prehistoric stone structures in the United Kingdom can be found at http://m.megalithic.co.uk/asb_mapsquare.php.

This map of Britain and Ireland, is divided into 100 kilometre squares. Locations of prehistoric stone circles and stone rows are indicated by the red dots. Click on a grid square to see that map sheet in greater detail. Many of the pages have images and links to information elsewhere on the web, making this a master index of Britain and Ireland’s Prehistoric sites.

(11) MEOW WOW.  “George R.R. Martin Spent $3.5 Million to Make This Sci-Fi Art Utopia a Reality” – at Vice.

Perhaps the only thing more disorienting than visiting the art collective Meow Wolf’s permanent art installation, the House of Eternal Return, is getting a Skype tour of the place, which is what I recently received. Labyrinthine and almost hallucinatory, the sprawling former bowling alley has been transformed to a freak-out art mecca, funded by $3.5 million from Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin and another $2.5 million from Kickstarter and other fundraising.

The 20,000-square-foot art space, the size of Gagosian’s Chelsea gallery, opened on Friday with a cavalcade of 5,500 visitors in the first three days, including Martin himself and Neil Gaiman. Described by 33-year-old CEO Vince Kadlubek as the “inside [of] a sci-fi novel,” the House of Eternal Return is many things: a psychedelic art space, a bar, an educational center, a ceramics studio, and an elaborate music venue (with a half school-bus upper deck), featuring a slew of dream-like elements such as black-light carpeting, a laser harp, pneumatic doors, and a 20-foot climbable lookout tower.

(12) COLE’S HEART. I was very impressed with Myke Cole’s contribution to “The Big Idea” feature at Whatever – but I didn’t want to pick an excerpt that would dilute the reading experience, so here is a comparatively bland quote…

When I did my Big Idea post for Gemini Cell, I straight up owned the PTSD allegory. Schweitzer’s undead status kept him permanently apart from the living. He was among them, but not of them, anymore. The resultant isolation was pretty much the same thing many returning veterans feel.

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 31, 1969 — Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five, published.

(14) SUPER BOOKS. Random House Books for Young Readers announced the acquisition of four DC Comics YA novels, with bestselling young adult authors: Wonder Woman will be written by Leigh Bardugo, Batman will be written by Marie Lu, Superman will be written by Matt de la Peña, and Catwoman will be written by Sarah J. Maas.

Wonder Woman will release first at the end of August 2017.

(15) CURSES VERSUS. “Superman And The Damage Done” at Birth.Movies.Death.

There have been other Supermans since, and while none have, in my opinion, reached the heights of Christopher Reeve, all have imparted a similar sense of decency, humbleness and grace. From Brandon Routh to various animated incarnations, children growing up over the past 40 years have found new Supermans they could look to as inspirational models of how heroes act.

But what do the children of today have? Warner Bros, custodian of the Superman legacy, has handed the keys of the character over to Zack Snyder, a filmmaker who has shown he feels nothing but contempt for the character. In doing so they have opened the character to an ugly new interpretation, one that devalues the simple heroism of Superman and turns the decent, graceful character into a mean, nasty force of brutish strength.

Where Superman was originally intended as a hopeful view of strength wielded with responsibility, Snyder presents him as a view of strength as constant destructive force; where Christopher Reeve’s Superman would often float and flit away, Snyder’s version explodes like a rocket at all times, creating sonic booms above city centers in fits of pique, such as after his scene of moping on Lois Lane’s Washington DC hotel balcony. He is a constant weapon of destruction, often smashing concrete when he comes to earth. There are no soft landings for this Superman.

(16) CROWD PLEASER. “SciFi Author Alan Dean Foster Draws Largest Science Speaker Series Crowd in Prescott Campus History” reports the Embry-Riddle Newsroom.

Hundreds of students, staff and faculty filled the AC-1 lecture hall to capacity to hear internationally acclaimed science fiction author Alan Dean Foster talk about “Science in Science Fiction” as part of the College of Arts and Science Speaker Series last Friday.

Foster has written over 100 novels but is best known for authoring the novel versions of many science fiction films including “Star Wars”, the first three Alien films, “The Chronicles of Riddick”, “Star Trek”, “Terminator: Salvation”, and two Transformers films.

Foster believes science is the foundation of science fiction. If the work is not grounded in science then it’s not science fiction, it is fantasy or science fantasy.

“Science fiction sets you on other worlds where you have to create entire environments. Maybe it’s a world with seven different layers or an entirely frozen world. You have to look at a problem and say what’s the best solution here, even if it’s not been created yet,” said Foster. “That solution should still be reasonable. As an author of science fiction, and especially with novel adaptations from movies, I try to fix the science as best as I can. Sometimes they let me and sometimes they don’t.”

(17) BREAKING GAME SHOW NEWS. The March 31 episode of Jeopardy! had a Hugo Award-Winning Novels category – but I haven’t found out what the titles were yet.

(18) SAD NUMBERS. Brandon Kempner spends the last voting day “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 4” at Chaos Horizon.

What we do know, though, is that last nomination season the Sad Puppies were able to drive between 100-200 votes to the Hugos in most categories, and the their numbers likely grew in the finally voting stage. I estimated 450. All those voters are eligible to nominate again; if you figured the Sad Puppies doubled from the nomination stage in 2015 to now, they’d be able to bring 200-400 votes to the table. Then again, their votes might be diffused over the longer list; some Sad Puppies might abandon the list completely; some Sad Puppies might become Rabid Puppies, and so forth into confusion.

When you do predictive modelling, almost nothing good comes from showing how the sausage is made. Most modelling hides behind the mathematics (statistical mathematics forces you to make all sorts of assumptions as well, they’re just buried in the formulas, such as “I assume the responses are distributed along a normal curve”) or black box the whole thing since people only care about the results. Black boxing is probably the smart move as it prevents criticism. Chaos Horizon doesn’t work that way.

So, I need some sort of decay curve of the 10 Sad Puppy recommendations to run through my model. What I decided to go with is treating the Sad Puppy list as a poll showing the relative popularity of the novels. That worked pretty well in predicting the Nebulas. Here’s that chart, listing how many votes each Sad Puppy received, as well as the relative % compared to the top vote getter.

(19) FROM TEARS TO CHEERS. Dave Hogg is basically a happy voter tonight.

(20) NOT AN APRIL FOOL? From the Official Gmail Blog: “Introducing Gmail Mic Drop”.

Friends and family have been testing Gmail Mic Drop for months, and the response so far has been awesome:

  • “Sending email is so much easier when you don’t have to worry about people responding!”
  • “Mic Drop is a huge improvement over Mute! I can finally let everyone know I’m just not interested.”
  • “My team solves problems so much faster with Mic Drop. In fact, we stopped talking to each other entirely!”

Gmail Mic Drop is launching first on the web, but mobile updates are on the way. So stay tuned, and stay saucy.

Will R. asks me, “Will you be introducing a similar feature? It would make the flounce a whole lot easier.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, A Wee Green Man, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Swanwick, Will R., Rich Lynch, and Reed Andrus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]

Pixel Scroll 3/21/16 The Incredible Sulk

(1) SCALZI PREDICTS. Today John Scalzi answered “Reader Request Week 2016 #2: Will Humans Survive?”

But we’re smart! I hear you say. Sure, that’s true, but does it then follow that a) we’re smart enough not to basically kill ourselves by wrecking the planet, b) that our intelligence means that evolution is done with us. The answers here, if you ask me (and you did) are: We’ll see, and probably not. In the latter case, there’s an argument to be made that our intelligence will increase speciation, as humans intentionally do to our species what natural selection did unintentionally before, and do it on a much shorter timescale, in order to adapt to the world that is currently rapidly changing under our feet, in no small part because of our own activities.

So, no. Human beings, meaning Homo sapiens, will almost certainly not be here a billion years from now.

(2) LASFS SPEAKERS. Three big names will be guest speakers at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society in the coming weeks.

  • March 24 – Jerry Pournelle Speaks (My Favorite Book (LASFS meeting)
  • April 7 — Robert J. Sawyer – Special Guest (LASFS meeting)
  • April 28 — Larry Niven – Guest Speaker (LASFS meeting)

(3) MILLENNICON RIP. Millennicon 30, held last weekend, ended the convention’s run. Con chair Christy Johnson announced on Facebook:

It is with great sadness to announce that Millennicon 30 was our last. We tried our best to keep going but all good things must come to an end. We wanted to go out with a good con, and I think we did.

We were hoping for a higher attendance and hotel room nights, but alas, it was not to be.

Thank you to the best con-com, our guests of honor, dealers, artists, fan clubs and our attendees. Thanks to all those that lived local and still got hotel rooms. Thanks to those that regularly stayed at the hotel to help keep our costs down. Thanks to those that brought in their friends and family to join us. We survived this long because of you.

We hope you have enjoyed yourself over the years and remember us with fondness. We, the con-com, became a family through Millennicon. Many of you were also a part of our family.

Thanks for 30 years!

(4) COVER MODELS. Jim C. Hines has several fascinating photos from Millennicon here, including a faux book cover pose with Laura Resnick.

(5) TAXING MATTERS. At the SFWA blog, the issue that is every tax auditor’s nightmare is covered in “Ask the Tax Czarina: Hobby or Business?”

Q: Is my writing is a hobby or a business?

A: There are a number of factors the IRS looks at. The most important factor is whether or not you have a profit motive. You are not in a trade or business unless you intend to make a profit and have some sort of plan for how you’ll accomplish that. Note that this doesn’t mean you must make a profit. Lots of small businesses fail. But the burden of proof here is on the taxpayer. If you’re losing money, the IRS may assert that you’re engaging in a hobby, especially if you only do it part-time or your primary support comes from another source.

So, wow. That sounds subjective, doesn’t it? Why yes, yes it is. It’s a facts and circumstances test and can be highly individual.

(6) AMAZON LANDS DOCTOR WHO. Amazon Prime, which is replacing Netflix and Hulu as online video streamer, will initiate service this month reports Variety.

The man that stops the monsters is back! Seasons 1-8 of Doctor Who will be exclusively available to stream on Amazon Video starting March 27, with Season 9 coming on September 6 2016 and ‘The Husbands of River Song’ following on September 25. Fantastic!

(7) NUSSBAUM’S FAVORITES. Abigail Nussbaum is back with “The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories”. Here’s just one example –

Best Fan Writer:

  • Nina Allan – Allan continues to be one of the smartest, most insightful reviewers currently working.  Her reviews for Strange Horizons never fail to convince me to read the books she raves about, and in her recent blogging about mystery novels she shows herself to be equally insightful about that genre as she is about science fiction.

(8) POLL WORKER. George R.R. Martin works to get out the vote in “Countdown to Liftoff”, which rounds up links to his Hugo recommendation posts, plus a few late additions:

I did overlook some good choices even in the categories I covered. Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED is her best work to date, a very strong fantasy (though I had problems with the ending) and probably worth a nomination in Novel. I forgot about EX MACHINA when talking about Long Form Drama, but it’s a gripping and well done film, worthy of consideration. I recommended OUTLANDER for Short Form Drama, but it should be noted that the first season was telecast in two eight-episode arcs, and only the second eight are eligible, as the first eight were broadcast in 2014. I think JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL should be nominated in Long Form as a whole, rather than in Short Form, by episode, but others disagree.

(9) A PIUS GEEK. In case you’re not getting enough of this, Declan Finn goes 15 rounds with Damien G. Walter, a bit of overkill, since he stretches Damien on the deck in the first round.

The level of stupid maybe be getting to me.  The Puppy Kickers — like Damien — seem to be going full on insane.  They’ve apparently decided that they can just spew insults, and it’s reality. Wright will never be a pro writer again because they hate him, and anyone they hate must be blackballed. Brad and Larry are demagogues, because Damien said so — and they “ran away” because Brad and Larry didn’t want to play with this crap anymore.

Then again, these ARE the same people that insist that Brad ran away to the Middle East, because being shot at was preferable to standing up to the great and powerful Puppy Kickers. Yes, there are some idiots who’ve actually stated this, online. In public.

See what I mean about the stupid? It burns a LOT.

Damien doesn’t even seem to consider that, had more of his friends came to play at the SP4 site, they could have taken over the list entirely. But that would have meant engaging with people who disagree with him.

(10) LISTING TO STARBOARD. Font Folly leads off its roundup “Keymasters and Gatekeepers” with this comment —

So the Sad Puppies have officially released their recommendation list. Yes, I said list, not slate. Last year’s was a slate because there were exactly five “suggestions” in each category and the puppy supporters were encouraged to vote the exact slate (whether they had actually read the stories or not) in order to ensure that they had whole categories locked up. This year different people are in charge of the Sad Puppy campaign, and they gathered a big list after taking recommendations for months. In all of the fiction categories, at least, there are more than five recommendations, so you can’t slate vote it.

A few other people have written about this year’s list. In sad puppies 4: the… better behaving?, Dara Korra’ti says a lot of what I was thinking when I saw the list. I’m glad that the Sad Puppies have taken a more transparent approach. I’m glad that the list isn’t dominated by stories published in only one very small publication house owned by one of the organizers. I’m really glad that three of the recommendations in a single category are not by the same author. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that the people running it this year are sincerely trying to do no more than get more of the works they like on the ballot, rather than push a political agenda. I’ve never objected to recommendation lists no matter who makes those recommendations.

(11) TO REMOVE OR NOT TO REMOVE. Kate Paulk has placed asterisks beside two works on “The List” at Sad Puppies 4 whose authors asked to have them removed altogether. And did so with a characteristic Paulkian turn of phrase.

No corrections have been made yet: I’m still catching up from Lunacon. I’ll note the edits at the top of the page when I make them. The Mad Genius Club post will NOT be edited so my typos and miscategorizations will remain there for all posterity. Or posterior, which I suspect is the more apt way to put it.

In comments on “The List” at Mad Genius Club Paulk made this response:

Alastair,

I will not insult those who consider your novella to be Hugo-worthy by removing you from the List. I will, however, be updating the version of this post at http://sadpuppies4.org/the-list/ to note that you prefer that your work not be purchased, enjoyed, and nominated without your prior approval.

Alastair Reynolds answered:

Hello Kate. You’re welcome to do that, of course, but it does not represent my position. Nonetheless thank you for publishing my comment and I wish you all the best.

(12) SCALZI COMMENTS. John Scalzi has been following the news.

(13) GODWIN IS HOLDING ON LINE TWO. Jim C. Hines weighs in on Twitter.

(14) LOL. If for some reason you’re unhappy being recommended by the Bay Area Science Fiction Association, Kevin’s your man.

(15) GOOD FORM. Rachael Acks’ handy guide to “Reasons why I will not be replying to your argument”. Here is item #4 from a list of 17.

4. You have thus far done such a good job at arguing with straw man conceptions of my words that I’ve come to realize my input is entirely superfluous. Please feel free to continue this argument without me.

(16) FREEDOM. Chris Meadows’ TeleRead article “’Sad Puppies’ Hugo campaign posts recommendation list, spawns new controversy” delivers gritty details along with a broad overview.

In the blog post’s comments, Hoyt explained the current plan was to put an asterisk next to the names of those who asked to be removed—which prompted chuckles from other Puppies, in reference to the controversy of last year’s Hugo Awards ceremony that involved the handing out of laser-cut wooden asterisks to every winner that year.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 3/15/16 At The Age of 37, She Realized She’d Never Scroll Through Paris With The Warm Pixels In Her Hair

(1) THE MAN WHO WOULD BE WHO. An actor who’s already accumulated a lot of experience traveling in time one day in front of the next has his eye on the prize. Metro News says “Brian Blessed wants to be the next Doctor Who after Peter Capaldi”

The actor, who is fast approaching the ripe old age of 80, has been speaking to Calibre magazine about his desire to be the next Time Lord after Peter Capaldi; he said:

‘I would love to play the Doctor, absolutely!’

Doctor Who fans may remember Blessed as King Ycarnos in 1986’s The Trial Of A Time Lord, where his character went on to marry the Sixth Doctor’s companion, Peri.

If Blessed were to become the next Doctor, he would be the oldest actor to do so, with some twenty years on current TARDIS pilot Capaldi.

(2) BEANS IN SPACE. Whereas the poster for the Australian competition referenced Mad Max: Fury Road, the “2016 Hungarian Aeropress Championship” post goes with a Star Wars icon.

Hungarian aeropress championship COMP

Fast circulating rumours, perhaps with the assistance of a HyperDrive, are suggesting the coffee has been sourced by coffee’s home planet of Alderaan. Unfortunately these rumours have been denied by Ewoks on the forrest moon of Endor who have hand-picked all the rainforest alliance coffee. The variety of the coffee is mostly heirloom, sometimes also know as Degu(bah) and is famous for having very high midi-chorian levels, but low caffeine.  The coffee was fermented and de-pulped in the now re-purposed garbage disposal units on the detention level of the Death Star. That’s enough lame Star Wars references for now i think…

(3) HPL ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. FineBooks & Collections reports “Found: Lovecraft-Houdini Manuscript”.

Whispered about by hopeful collectors and scholars for decades, the manuscript of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cancer of Superstition, commisssioned and co-written by magician Harry Houdini, has finally come to light. It was rather incredibly “discovered by a private collector among the records of a now-defunct magic shop,” according to Chicago’s Potter & Potter Auctions, which will auction the 31-page typewritten story on April 9.

A brief description of the manuscript is provided in the Potter & Potter auction catalog available for download here [PDF file]. The bidding will open at lucky $13,000….

(4) OCTAVIA BUTLER. From Southern California Public Radio, “The life and legacy of Octavia Butler – and 5 stories you should read”.

It’s been a decade since science fiction writer Octavia Butler passed away.

The California native fell in love with storytelling as a kid at the Pasadena Library, and later grew up to be the only sci-fi writer to receive a MacArthur Genius Fellowship. She was also the first African American woman in the genre to achieve international fame.

According to her friend and fellow writer Steven Barnes, Butler anticipated the challenges of presenting black characters in her stories.

“In her early novels, they would put green people or aliens on the covers of her books,” Barnes said.

“Or blond, white women,” added Tananarive Due, also a friend of Butler’s.

As a teacher and another African American female author, Due knows firsthand how influential Butler’s work is.

“I wish I had discovered Octavia’s work when I was a learning writer,” Due said. “When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea whether or not there would be an audience for speculative fiction — speculative fiction being science fiction, fantasy or horror novel — with black characters, you know, not necessarily intended for black readers.”

(5) JONESING. Everyone who’s still alive in 2019 can see if the iconic star of the Indiana Jones movies can claim the same. The Walt Disney Company announces, “Spielberg and Ford Reunite as Indiana Jones Returns to Theaters July 19, 2019”.

Indiana Jones will return to the big screen on July 19, 2019, for a fifth epic adventure in the blockbuster series. Steven Spielberg, who directed all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.

“Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.”

(6) GAVEL RAPPER. Kevin Standlee says a Business Meeting chair has “No Magic Bullets”. Nor any other kind, to be sure.

A couple of days ago, I got into a conversation on billroper‘s LJ about the “Heckler’s Veto” and that led to me thinking about something that had worried me about running the WSFS Business Meeting. After all, the entire meeting process, and parliamentary procedure itself, assumes that the people gathering actually are willing to play by the rules. If a significant number of the people showing up won’t play by the rules, the meeting will dissolve. It would be like a bunch of football players deciding during a match that they don’t like the rule book and that they can ignore the officials and do anything they want. There’s not a lot the officials can do in that case, other than leave.

I did give a lot of thought to this approaching the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting, what with doomsday scenarios of thousands of people overrunning the meeting and refusing to obey any rules and shouting down anything they didn’t like and generally causing chaos. I concluded that a meeting whose members refuse to follow their own rules is not a meeting, but a mob, and I’m not chairing a mob. Had such a thing happened, I would have ordered the meeting adjourned “at the call of the chair” and turned to the convention for help. The convention would then in turn have had to ask the convention security to clear the area, and potentially even call the police if non-members (including any people who had their memberships revoked) refused to leave on their own accord.

(7) TO HAL WITH IT. 2001 A Space Odyssey: A Look Behind the Future is a 1960s promotional film. The 10-minute color documentary includes production of props, revolving spaceship set, etc.

(8) CURRENT EVENTS. A much more recent sf film will also be the subject of a documentary: Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey.  It will be a bonus on the movie’s Blu-Ray disc, to be released April 5.

(9) GROWING UP AI. At The Way Finder, Hugh C. Howey says he has observed “The Birth of Artificial Intelligence”.

…This was not the week, however, that AI was born. This was the week that I realized that AI was born quite some time ago…..

It’s in the early years of human development where I think we can see the current state of AI being somewhere post-birth and yet pre-awareness. But the development of strong AI will have incredible advantages over the human acquisition of general intelligence. This arise from the modular nature of intelligence.

Our brains are not one big thinking engine; they are collections of hundreds of individual engines, each of which develop at different rates. What’s amazing about AI is that the learning does not need to be done twice for every module. When we build a chess-playing module, and a Go-playing module, and a Jeopardy-playing module, all of these can be “plugged in” to our general AI. Our baby girl is growing every day, and thousands of people are pouring billions of dollars of research into her education. We, the general public, are contributing with petabytes of data. It is already happening, and we won’t even recognize when our first daughter graduates into strong AI. Every day will be — as parents know — one small miracle added to the last, a succession of amazing little first steps that result in them going off to college and being their own person.

Each headline you read is us — as collective parents — gasping to our spouse at what our baby girl just did for the first time.

Google has already taught our daughter to drive a car. Amazon is doing amazing things with their Alexa device, creating the beginnings of the virtual assistant seen in Her. IBM is building the best medical mind the field has ever known. In the last five years, AI has taken strides that even the optimistic find startling. The next five years will see similar advances. And this progress will only accelerate, because we’re operating in the realm of Moore’s Law. We are building the tools that help us build faster tools, which help us build faster tools.

(10) IRENE LARSEN OBIT. Magic Castle co-founder Irene Larsen died February 25 reports Variety.

Irene Larsen, co-founder of the Academy of Magical Arts and the private clubhouse the Magic Castle, died unexpectedly on Thursday morning at her Los Angeles home. She was 79.

After she assisted her late husband William “Bill” Larsen Jr. in his various magic acts for years, the two launched the Magic Castle together in 1963. Larsen’s dedication to the role of ambassador of magic helped elevate the AMA to an internationally renowned and respected organization within the art’s community.

(11) WRITING WHILE WAITING FOR THE EMERGENCY. Amanda S. Green’s “Putting things into perspective” at Mad Genius Club demonstrates how a professional writer honors her real-life priorities — a friend’s health and her writing commitments .

…One of my oldest and dearest friends is facing a challenge the vast majority of us will only ever read about. She is going to need me with her as she faces this challenge. Even if she hadn’t asked, I would be there for her. Why? Because she has always been there for me and mine.

That’s what friends and family do. You rally around those you care about.

But, when you do, work is impacted.

I know that the next few weeks and months will see us waiting for the shoe to drop. In some ways, it will be like those last weeks of pregnancy. A bag will be packed, the gas tank filled and we will all be waiting for the phone to ring to tell us it is time to leave. No, not a bug-out, at least not in a Ringo-esque sort of way. This is the call to get to the hospital within a certain amount of time. The clock is ticking and it is very loud….

It has also meant changing what I have with me at any time. I’ve always had my phone and a small notepad squirreled away in my purse in case I needed to make a note about something. Smart phones are great for being able to use for dictation and look up things, etc. Now, however, the small purse — my preference — has been traded for a larger one. The smartphone and pad have been joined by my Surface Pro 3, stylus and charger. Why? Because the SP3 gives me everything my laptop does but at a fraction of the weight. The screen, while small, is still larger than my Android tablet and the keyboard is much better than the virtual keyboard on the Android. Add in the thumb drive with all my working files and I have my office on the go….

The result has been that I can and have been getting the job done despite the worry that is constantly there right now. I am working hard to not only meet the schedule I set for myself at the beginning of the year but to get ahead. I want that cushion for the day when we get the call telling us it is time to meet my friends at the hospital. I want to be able to be there for them and not worry about falling behind on “work”. I need to know that I am keeping with my schedule so the money can and will keep coming in. I need to know that, no matter what the time of day or day of the week, I am able to continue working without worry about where I happen to be….

(12) COMIC-CON HQ TO LAUNCH. San Diego’s Comic-Con International will brand a video-on-demand service.

The Hollywood Reporter: “Lionsgate, Comic-Con Set Launch Date for Streaming Service”

Lionsgate and Comic-Con International will launch Comic-Con HQ, their newly-named fanboy streamer, on May 7, ahead of an official launch in June. The subscription video-on-demand service will have a soft launch in May, with an official bow to follow in June in the lead up to Comic-Con International: San Diego in July.

Deadline: “Lionsgate & Comic-Con’s SVOD Channel Comic-Con HQ Sets Launch Date”

The ad-free streaming service will feature “an evolving slate of programming including original scripted and unscripted series, recurring daily and weekly entertainment commentary, plus unique access to a growing library of live and archival programming from their world-class events, a highly-curated selection of film and TV genre titles, and behind-the-scenes access and bonus features from genre titles that defy and define pop culture,” per the announcement.

Variety: “Lionsgate to Launch Comic-Con Channel in May”

Monday’s announcement disclosed that gaming personality Adam Sessler, former host of G4’s X-Play, will executive produce programs on comics, science and gaming, along with hosting his own interview series. Other formats being developed include a general pop culture news show, a late-night talk show, a weekly movie talk in partnership with Complex’s Collider and an all-female panel on pop culture from women’s perspectives.

(13) ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK. Mr. Sci-Fi has something to say about the Paramount/CBS suit against the maker of Axanar.

Sci-Fi Writer-Producer Marc Zicree discusses Paramount’s lawsuit against Star Trek Axanar and puts it in context with the long history of science fiction fan fiction and fan films — and suggests several possible win-win strategies for a successful outcome.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 1/11/16 Pixels For Nothin’ And Your Scrolls For Free

(1) GALLO WINS ART DIRECTOR AWARD. The Society of Illustrators has named Irene Gallo the recipient of the 2016 Richard Gangel Art Director Award. The linked site includes a wide range of examples.

Society of Illustrators

Society of Illustrators

The Richard Gangel Art Director award was established in 2005 to honor art directors currently working in the field who have supported and advanced the art of illustration…

Irene Gallo is the Associate Publisher at Tor.com and the Creative Director at Tor Books.  She has art directed countless illustrators and her work has received numerous awards, including this year’s Gold Medal winning image by Sam Weber for The Language of Knives.

Gallo’s shared her reaction in a four-part tweet.

(2) WIBBLY-WOBBLY MUSIC. Open Culture tells “The Fascinating Story of How Delia Derbyshire Created the Original Doctor Who Theme”.

What we learn from them is fascinating, considering that compositions like this are now created in powerful computer systems with dozens of separate tracks and digital effects. The Doctor Who theme, on the other hand, recorded in 1963, was made even before basic analog synthesizers came into use. “There are no musicians,” says Mills, “there are no synthesizers, and in those days, we didn’t even have a 2-track or a stereo machine, it was always mono.” (Despite popular misconceptions, the theme does not feature a Theremin.) Derbyshire confirms; each and every part of the song “was constructed on quarter-inch mono tape,” she says, “inch by inch by inch,” using such recording techniques as “filtered white noise” and something called a “wobbulator.” How were all of these painstakingly constructed individual parts combined without multi track technology? “We created three separate tapes,” Derbyshire explains, “put them onto three machines and stood next to them and said “Ready, steady, go!” and pushed all the ‘start’ buttons at once. It seemed to work.”

(3) SPACESHIP SALESMAN. Interviewer Lauren Samer learned “John Scalzi Thinks Nerd Gatekeeping Is Complete Nonsense”, posted at Inverse.

[John Scalzi] Science fiction and fantasy is becoming more diverse in who writes it and what is represented — and I, for the life of me, cannot see what the problem is. I mean, come on. I write meat-and-potatoes classic science fiction. I’ve got spaceships, I’ve got lasers, I’ve got aliens. To suggest that there’s not a market for that type of science fiction is absolutely ridiculous. I’m doing great!

It just also happens that there’s lots of other cool stuff out there that is not like the sort of stuff that I write, and I think that’s great. Not everybody is going to be interested in the stuff I write — and not everybody should be. There should be science fiction and fantasy of all genres. It should be as inclusive as possible about the possibilities of the future and the possibility of alternate worlds and alternate setups. Otherwise, it’s fundamentally missing the point of what science fiction and fantasy can achieve.

(4) PACIFIC RIM 2 IS FEELING BETTER. No sooner did I relay the news that there would be no Pacific Rim sequel than its director, Guillermo del Toro, took to Twitter with this reassurance —

(5) PAY IT FORWARD. Kevin Standlee asks for help finding European references to the Hugo.

The WSFS Mark Protection Committee is assembling citations of usage of The Hugo Award in Europe (including the UK) in support of our application for registering it as a service mark in the EU. Things that could be useful include mentions of a being a Hugo Award winner (or nominee) on the cover of a work published within the EU and references to the Hugo Awards in EU-based publications, including fanzines. Mentions in non-EU publications aren’t as useful, because we’re working on backing the claim that The Hugo Award has been used in Europe for a long time. British references are just fine; the UK is part of the EU.

If you have material you think might be useful for this, write to Linda Deneroff (lindandee@gmail.com), Secretary of the WSFS MPC. She’ll let you know how to get the material to her for our compilation.

(6) CLASSIC SF RERUNS. In the middle of 2015 the Comet TV network came into existence. It specializes in showing old sf TV episodes, and selected movies. Among its offerings is my childhood favorite – Men Into Space, which was on the air for one season in 1959.

According to Wikipedia, Comet has affiliation agreements with television stations in 78 media markets encompassing 33 states and the District of Columbia. The nearest station to me airing this content is KDOC in Orange County.

MenIntoSpace_front-500x500

(7) BOWIE TRIBUTE 1. Molly Lewis and Marian Call (both singers of nerdy songs and frequent performers at Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage and Paul and Storm’s W00tstock variety show) cover “Space Oddity,” but only using the thousand most common words in the style of Randall Munroe’s Up Goer 5 and Thing Explainer:

(8) BOWIE TRIBUTE 2. Laurel and Hardy dance to “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie.

(9) CLOTHING THE IMAGINATION. Ferrett Steinmetz does not miss George Lucas’ input to the franchise, for reasons explained in “A Brief Discussion of Star Wars Costumes”.

So I was thinking about the lack of imagination in the prequels versus the Force Awakens.  And some of that’s evident in the costumes.

Because I just saw a picture of Obi-Wan… and he’s wearing basically the same outfit in the prequels that he wears in A New Hope.  Which implies that Obi-Wan basically has dressed the same for, well, his entire fucking life.  He retreated to Tatooine as part of a secret mission, wearing what are clearly fucking Jedi robes in retrospect, and Lucas didn’t care because, well, the characters weren’t what he cared about.

How ridiculous is it that someone would wear the same outfit for seventy years if he wasn’t some sort of bizarre cartoon character or performer?  Especially if he went into hiding?

(10) KICKER PUPPY. Joe Vasicek’s headline says “George R.R. Martin may not be your bitch, but I am”, however, this is not exactly an exercise in humility.

This discussion is not new, even with regard to Mr. Martin. Way back in 2009, Neil Gaiman addressed this issue in a blog post where he stated quite memorably that “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch”:

People are not machines. Writers and artists aren’t machines.

You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.

No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, and I assume that you enjoyed it because you want to know what happens next.

So that’s one end of the spectrum: that writing is an art, that it can’t be forced, that trying to force it is wrong, and that writers have no obligation to their readers to force anything. …

So George R.R. Martin may not be your bitch, but I most certainly am. Writing is not something that happens only sometimes: it’s my job, and I do it every day. And as for accountability, I absolutely feel that I’m accountable to my readers. They are the whole reason I am able to do this in the first place. If that makes me their bitch, then so be it.

(11) SAD MUPPETS 4. The start of a groundswell?

(12) WALTZING POTATO. They’re called YouTubers, and I’d bet 98% of them never hear the intrinsic pun. UPI reports — “YouTuber builds 6000 piece Star Wars AT-AT from Legos”.

[Charlie of the BrickVault channel,] a Lego-loving YouTuber followed instructions posted online to build a more than 6,000-piece Star Wars AT-AT in 26 hours and posted time-lapse footage online….

The BrickVault team said it took thousands of dollars to procure all of the supplies from website BrickLink, far more than the $218.99 price tag for Lego’s official 1,137-piece AT-AT kit.

 

(12) BUT CAN YOU TUNA FISH? This has been rightly captioned a “Bizarre Star Wars Japanese Commercial.” Aired in 1978, it shows galactic peace being achieved with canned tuna fish.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Steven H Silver, James H. Burns, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Wendy Gale, and Lorcan Nagle for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]