Pixel Scroll 1/15/18 Scroll Down, You File Too Fast, You Got To Make The Pixels Last

(1) KURT ERICHSEN’S RETIREMENT MAKES THE NEWS. The Toledo Blade has published a superb article about fanartist Kurt Erichsen, who is retiring from his day job as vice president of water quality planning for Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments after a 34-year career. I learned all kinds of things I never knew about his work on getting the Ottawa river cleaned up, and was pleased to see they also covered some of the fannish things I did know about the 2002 Rotsler Award winner —

Mr. Erichsen’s passion for environmental planning wasn’t his first calling in life, though. He was fascinated with drawing since he was young. He might have pursued a career as an illustrator if his parents hadn’t convinced him otherwise, but he never gave up his passion for drawing.

From 1980 to 2008, he produced a comic strip called “Murphy’s Manor.” It focused on the lives of gay men living in the fictional town of Black Swamp, Ohio. That series and others he produced, including “The Sparkle Spinsters” and “GLIB Talk,” appeared in as many as 70 publications marketed to homosexuals, resulting in awards from the Gay/?Lesbian Press Association.

“I was trying to be entertaining while making a point,” Mr. Erichsen said.

Mr. Erichsen also has produced artwork for fans of science fiction fanzines and conventions.

(2) COMES THE MILLENNIUM. Congratulations to James Davis Nicoll, who sent a link to his review of Elizabeth Hand’s Winterlong – captioned “And Rain Keeps Falling Like Helpless Tears” – with the note that it is his 1000th review.

Elizabeth Hand’s 1990 debut novel Winterlong is the first volume in her Winterlong Trilogy.

Nuclear war and germ warfare have left Washington a shadow of its once glorious past. A handful of administrators, descended from self-appointed curators, control the relics of America’s lost past, defending the remnants from the diseased, mutated, and simply unlucky inhabitants of the surrounding sea of ruins….

(3) VERSE AS SWORD AND SHIELD. Middle-Earth Reflections’ new post “On the songs of power” discusses how they work in The Silmarillion.

Among many powerful notions in the world of Arda few are more potent than music and language. Music is the essential element of Arda, its heart and soul, as the world was created and shaped by the majestic Music of the Ainur. And it was the word of Ilúvatar — Eä! — that brought the created vision to life.

The power of words in Middle-earth cannot be overestimated. If used masterfully, with subtlety and skill they can inspire others to do incredible things. It is especially prominent when words are put into verse: songs can become something a lot more potent than mere poetic recitals. I have already spoken about the songs of challenge in The Silmarillion: sung in the situations of dire need and despair, they bring hope and salvation against all the odds. A special place in the story is occupied by the songs of power. They are very effective verses able to create or destroy, be used as a weapon or for defence.

It is by means of a song that Yavanna brings to life the Two Trees of Valinor and, later, the last fruit and flower from them used for creating the Sun and the Moon after the Trees’ destruction. Finrod duels with Sauron on the songs of power. Lúthien sings an equally powerful song to make Tol-in-Gaurhoth tremble and be heard by Beren trapped in Sauron’s dungeons.

(4) HANDMAID’S TALE. Hulu previews the second season.

Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard. The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 returns April 25.

 

(5) ATWOOD’S FEMINISM. Margaret Atwood answers her own question, “Am I a bad feminist?”, in an op-ed at the Toronto Globe and Mail.

So let us suppose that my Good Feminist accusers, and the Bad Feminist that is me, agree on the above points. Where do we diverge? And how did I get into such hot water with the Good Feminists?

In November of 2016, I signed – as a matter of principle, as I have signed many petitions – an Open Letter called UBC Accountable, which calls for holding the University of British Columbia accountable for its failed process in its treatment of one of its former employees, Steven Galloway, the former chair of the department of creative writing, as well as its treatment of those who became ancillary complainants in the case. Specifically, several years ago, the university went public in national media before there was an inquiry, and even before the accused was allowed to know the details of the accusation. Before he could find them out, he had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The public – including me – was left with the impression that this man was a violent serial rapist, and everyone was free to attack him publicly, since under the agreement he had signed, he couldn’t say anything to defend himself. A barrage of invective followed.

But then, after an inquiry by a judge that went on for months, with multiple witnesses and interviews, the judge said there had been no sexual assault, according to a statement released by Mr. Galloway through his lawyer. The employee got fired anyway. Everyone was surprised, including me. His faculty association launched a grievance, which is continuing, and until it is over, the public still cannot have access to the judge’s report or her reasoning from the evidence presented. The not-guilty verdict displeased some people. They continued to attack. It was at this point that details of UBC’s flawed process began to circulate, and the UBC Accountable letter came into being.

A fair-minded person would now withhold judgment as to guilt until the report and the evidence are available for us to see. We are grownups: We can make up our own minds, one way or the other. The signatories of the UBC Accountable letter have always taken this position. My critics have not, because they have already made up their minds. Are these Good Feminists fair-minded people? If not, they are just feeding into the very old narrative that holds women to be incapable of fairness or of considered judgment, and they are giving the opponents of women yet another reason to deny them positions of decision-making in the world.

The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn’t get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective, and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids.

If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place? Who will be the new power brokers? It won’t be the Bad Feminists like me. We are acceptable neither to Right nor to Left. In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. Fiction writers are particularly suspect because they write about human beings, and people are morally ambiguous. The aim of ideology is to eliminate ambiguity.

(6) VENUS IF YOU WILL. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler reports on the wealth of information collected by the latest (in 1963) Venus probe — “[January 15, 1963] Venus’ true face (Scientific Results of Mariner 2)”.

Getting there is half the fun

Before I talk about Mariner’s encounter with Venus, it’s important to discuss what the spacecraft discovered on the way there.  After all, it was a 185 million mile trip, most of it in interplanetary space charted but once before by Pioneer 5.  And boy, did Mariner learn a lot!

For instance, it has finally been confirmed that the sun does blow a steady stream of charged particles in a gale known as the “Solar Wind.”  The particles get trapped in Earth’s magnetic field and cause, among other things, our beautiful aurorae.

Mariner also measured the interplanetary magnetic field, which is really the sun’s magnetic field.  It varies with the 27-day solar rotation, and if we had more data, I suspect the overall map of the field would look like a spiral.

Why is all this important?  Well, aside from giving us an idea of the kind of “space weather” future probes and astronauts will have to deal with, these observations of the sun’s effect on space give us a window as to what’s going on inside the sun to generate these effects.

One last bit: along the way, Mariner measured the density of “cosmic dust,” little physical particles in space.  It appears that there’s a lot of it around the Earth, perhaps trapped by our magnetic field, and not a lot in space.  It may be that the solar wind sweeps the realm between the planets clean….

(7) LAST JEDI DOES NOT IMPRESS CHINESE. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “China Box Office: ‘Jumanji’ Clobbers Competition With $40M, ‘Last Jedi’ Crashes and Burns”.

Dwane Johnson’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle roared into China over the weekend, racking up a strong $40 million.

The Sony tentpole finally toppled runaway Chinese hit The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes, which earned $25.3 million in its third frame, bringing its local total to $272 million. Globally, Jumanji, also starring Kevin Hart, has earned $667 million.

Disney’s and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, meanwhile, didn’t even put up a fight. Only in its second weekend on Chinese screens, The Last Jedi pulled in a paltry $2.4 million — a 92 percent decline from its disappointing $28.7 million debut, according to data from EntGroup.

The Star Wars franchise, never popular in China, appears to be on a precipitous decline in the Middle Kingdom, the world’s second-largest film territory.

…The global picture is far better, of course: As of Sunday, Last Jedi had a worldwide haul of $1.264 billion, making it the biggest film of 2017.

Looper attempts to explain the disappointing numbers –

(8) BINTI ARC CONCLUDES. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog points out how Binti: The Night Masquerade Is the Epic Climax to a Deeply Personal Saga”.

Each of the previous two books in Dr. Nnedi Okorafor’s coming-of-age story saw Binti faced with tremendous change and exposed her to new truths that widened her world, and made it smaller. She’s taken on attributes of the (sometimes) murderous and very alien Meduse, and come to understand there’s more to the seemingly uncivilized desert people of her homeland than she’d ever imagined. The Night Masquerade is the conclusion of her journey, and the title refers to a spectre of change that appears to significant people at times of great crisis. It’s wonderfully evocative of the climactic nature of the story, and Binti will face a great deal more turmoil before hers is done.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 15, 1935 – Robert Silverberg

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy says Pearls Before Swine showed him an excellent reason (or three) to keep the closet closed
  • John King Tarpinian discovered the consequences of making a Flintstones reference in B.C.
  • Mike Kennedy learned news happens whether you know it or not in this installment of Nonsequitur.
  • The Flying McCoys explore what would happen to Batman if a certain supervillain lived up to his name.

(11) WHAT GOES UP. The BBC talks to “The astronaut fighting to save our home in space”:

The International Space Station (ISS) is humanity’s most expensive structure – and in just six years’ time, it may vanish, plunging into the Pacific Ocean. BBC Future meets the man trying to save it.

… “I’ve been very, very, very, very lucky,” he says, laughing. “Most astronauts are very jealous of me, which is probably why I won’t get to fly in space again!”

Most famously, Foale was on board Mir in June 1997 when an un-crewed Progress supply ship ploughed into the station, smashing a solar panel and breaching the hull. With the master alarm sounding, air leaking, power failing and the station spinning, Foale worked with his two Russian crewmates to prepare their Soyuz escape capsule and close off the damaged module.

By holding his thumb to a station window and examining the movement of stars, Foale used his physics training to estimate the spin rate of the station, so mission control could fire thrusters to bring it back under control.

(12) MUST COME DOWN. Someone hit the center divider on the road, went airborne and crashed into the SECOND floor of a dental business —

Which inspired this Harry Potter reference from “Typical Girl” —

(13) MIXED MARTIAL ARTS. In “Bruce Lee Lightsabers Scene Recreation,” Patrick Nan asks, “What if Bruce Lee fought with lightsabers?”

(14) COMMITMENT. Laura Resnick continues a series about her volunteer work — “Cat Rescue, Part 3: Return to Sender”.

I’m writing a series of blog posts about my volunteer work in cat rescue with Cat Adoption Team (C.A.T.). Part 1 discusses how I got involved and outlines how it works. Part 2 talks about the happy endings that are so rewarding in this work, as well as the sad ones (and also the appallingly infuriating ones) that make some days very hard.

There is another kind of outcome to pet adoption, too. Despite good people trying hard, sometimes things just don’t work out. A cat turns out to be a bad fit for a family, or the family’s life changes in tragic ways that make keeping the cat impossible… and they return them to C.A.T.. This is sad for everyone, but it is absolutely the right thing to do in such circumstances.

I cannot stress this strongly enough: if family decides not to keep a pet, they should return the animal to us (and any responsible rescue group has this same policy). The most important thing to us is that the cat should always be safe. By rescuing the cat, we made a promise that we will never abandon this animal or allow it to return to the condition from which we rescued it, alone and forsaken in the world. Do not break our promise by abandoning the animal we entrusted to you at the time of adoption. Return it to us.

(15) CLASSIC WEIRD. Jared pays tribute to “Jane Gaskell, First Lady of the Weird” in a compelling review article at Pornokitsch. Here’s an excerpt:

The Atlan Series: The Serpent (1963), Atlan (1965), The City (1966), Some Summer Lands (1977)

Note: To keep things complicated, later printings split The Serpent into two volumes (The Serpent and The Dragon)

This series – Gaskell’s epic fantasy saga – is batshit crazy.

It follows Princess Cija, as she meddles in the politics of Atlantis. She goes from princess to prisoner to conqueror to spy to Chosen One to fugitive to back again… It is bonkers, risque and occasionally befuddling.

In a way, the Atlan saga is an even more extreme version of Strange Evil, exacerbated, perhaps, due to its epic length. Cija, like Judith, lacks agency. She is notable because she is desired, rather than possessing any strong desires of her own. She’s passed from hand to hand (to paw), partner to partner. Her bloodline is important, her presence is ‘destined’, but, again, we find in Cjia a distressing subversion of a Chosen One. She is one that has been Chosen, rather than having any control over her fate. This is the Epic Fantasy with the princess-in-the-tower as the first person protagonist, and it can make for harrowing reading: to be the prize and not the hero is, unsurprisingly, kind of dark.

Atlan also has an utterly ridiculous setting – packed with ‘SPACE AGE’ SF, mad science, dragons, monsters, death rays, lizard people, whatever. It feels almost deliberately pulpy, in a way that makes its sneaky-dark message all the more sinister.

Michael Moorcock included the series in Fantasy: The 100 Best Books (1988), and admires – slightly sarcastically – the over-the-top pulpy elements. He refers to the series’ “bewildering status changes” and “breathless peregrinations”, and his summary gleefully points out how silly the whole thing is. But he eventually concludes “Too much? Never! Stirring stuff, all of it.”

Others also (mostly) approve – John Clute describes it with lukewarm praise: “In genre terms the series – sometimes uneasily, but at points with real panache – marries sf and the popular romance; it is full of vigorous and exuberant invention and occasionally overheated prose.” (It is worth noting that late 1960s ‘popular romance’ was pretty bleak stuff – this isn’t a sappy love story, but a harrowing tale of self-actualisation [or… semi-reluctant acceptance].)

(16) ROBOTS V. FAIRIES. SF Bluestocking’s Bridget McKinney isn’t high on this new collection — “Book Review: Robots vs. Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe”.

Robots vs. Fairies is my first reading disappointment of 2018. I loved Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe’s first anthology, 2016’s The Starlit Wood, so I was very hyped for this one when it was announced. Unfortunately, Robots vs. Fairies is a bit of a sophomore slump for the editing pair, with a theme that feels more questionable the farther one reads into the collection, stories that largely feel a little too written to spec, and not enough that’s new and interesting to recommend it on those scores. It might work as sort of comfort reading for those who find its table of contents—filled with some of the hottest short fiction writers currently working in SFF—appealing, but if you’re looking for exciting, fresh, innovative work, there’s not much of that here.

(17) JDA TODAY. Jon Del Arroz tries to defend against the Jim C. Hines compilation without mentioning the author by name in “The Ever-Changing Narrative And Double Standards Show They’re Disingenuous” (link to the Internet Archive).

In the past couple days, with that Narrative being such bad publicity for the convention because of the double standard they applied over political affiliation, it’s shifted to “he’s mean on the internet!”  NYT Bestsellers have been swearing about me on their twitter, lower-selling midlist authors are cheering and congratulating each other over spreading rumors and gossip like this is a high school clique rather than professionals. This strategy is going to backfire as well, because first, being mean on the internet is not a crime. No one has been banned from conventions over being mean on the internet before. And it applies to these folk in a massive double standard way. I don’t go around being nearly as mean or cruel as they are.

(18) MEDIC, I’M HIT! I was bitterly disappointed that Jim C. Hines showed in comments today that he reviewed the evidence with JDA about his doctored “Goodbye Jon” email conversation with me (which actually happened in this order) only to conclude —

The summary: We have several possibilities here.

  1. Jon is faking his screenshots.
  2. Mike is lying.
  3. Jon’s Sent Mail shows a different Sent Time than the email(s) Mike received from him.

(19) CHOPPAGE. At Pedestrian, Ben McLeay reports the latest antics of men’s rights activists – erasing women from The Last Jedi — “MRAs Make 46-Minute Cut Of ‘The Last Jedi’ That Edits Out All The Women”.

It is utterly tragic that MRAs aren’t given the respect they deserve. It’s truly galling that just because their entire worldview was formed around a profound sense of entitlement induced by watching thousands of hours of harem anime, no one takes them seriously. It’s heartbreaking to think that people dismiss them out of hand just because – instead of addressing actual issues like the rates of suicide and depression among men – they focus on dumb shit like editing out all the parts of The Last Jedi that aren’t centred around men.

If that last thing sounded too ridiculous to be true, you have clearly forgotten which time it is that we live in and the corresponding fact that pretty much nothing now is too ridiculous to be true. We live in the most aggressively ridiculous timeline. Accordingly, the self-described “chauvinist cut” of TLJ is very, very real, and exactly as dumb as it sounds.

Uploaded to The Pirate Bay yesterday by an anonymous user, the “The Last Jedi: De-Feminized Fanedit” is, according to their own description “basically The Last Jedi minus Girlz Powah and other silly stuff“.

(20) HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM. WIRED delivers a less-than-stunning revelation: “Cantina Talk: The Last Jedi’s Shirtless Kylo Is Proving a Problem for Cosplayers”.

So, About Kylo’s High-Waisted Tights…

Source: The Wall Street Journal, of all places

Probability of Accuracy: They did get a high quality still of shirtless Kylo, so there’s no denying that they know what they’re doing.

The Real Deal: Perhaps the most surprising Last Jedi story to appear in recent weeks is this Wall Street Journal piece about the high-waisted tights Kylo wore in that one super-uncomfortable scene of him Force-communicating with Rey. (Don’t pretend like you know know exactly which one we’re talking about.) For one, it was surprising because it was in the Journal, but also because it focused on how hard Shirtless Buff Kylo Ren was to pull off for cosplayers. The piece even quotes Last Jedi costume designer Michael Kaplan, who said, “The world of Star Wars is not our world… Kylo Ren is not some hipster in hip-hugging jeans. Think Errol Flynn swashbuckling coolness as a point of departure. Hide that navel!” So, now you know. (Also, let’s be honest: Kylo Ren most definitely is some hipster in hip-hugging jeans, even if his wardrobe doesn’t reflect it.)

(21) BLACK PANTHER. Ruth Carter “‘Black Panther’ Costume Designer Talks Tribal-Tech Inspirations” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Ruth Carter has created costumes for some epic films, Amistad, Malcolm X and Selma among them, but nothing prepared her for the size and scope of Black Panther. For the super-stylish superhero film opening Feb. 12, she imagined a new African diaspora with 700 costumes fusing futurism, indigenous dress and high fashion, using research that spanned from the Rose Bowl Flea Market to textile dealers in Accra, Ghana.

The Ryan Coogler-directed film brings to the big screen Marvel Comics’ first black superhero, reinventing the circa 1966 character for today. Black Panther is depicted as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who rules over the fantastical African country of Wakanda, rich with vibranium, a mythic metal that is woven into the superhero’s sleek black, repeating triangle-pattern suit (designed by Marvel’s Ryan Meinerding), and has allowed the population to make technological advances nearly a century ahead of the rest of the world. The fight for vibranium is at the heart of the story, with T’Challa defending the kingdom against Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger.

Carter worked with five illustrators, 14 designers, mold makers, fabric dyers, jewelry makers and more. “It was an army,” the costume designer says. On her mood boards were images of African dress from the Maasai, Tuareg, Turkana, Xhosa, Zulu, Suri and Dinka peoples (including a men’s glass bead, animal skin and cowry shell corset from the Metropolitan Museum of Art), as well as piercings and body art, and more abstract examples of drapery and beading. She also examined fashion by avant-garde pleating master Issey Miyake, African-style vintage pieces by Yves Saint Laurent and Donna Karan.

(22) STARTS TOMORROW. CW released a clip from Black Lightning — The Resurrection Scene 2 – a show that premieres January 16.

About BLACK LIGHTNING: Jefferson Pierce is a man wrestling with a secret. Nine years ago, Pierce was gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, which he used to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life and his family on the line, he left his Super Hero days behind. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, Black Lightning returns — to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, ULTRAGOTHA, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, James Davis Nicoll, Dann, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John From GR.]

Pixel Scroll 12/29/17 A One-Note Scroll With More Than One Note

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites all to share cannoli with Charles Sheffield and Arlan Andrews, Sr  — in 1994.

Back in 1991, when I laid out for the publishers of Science Fiction Age the vision I had for that magazine—which I’d go on to edit through the year 2000—I knew that to compete with the existing SF mags of the time, and give readers what they couldn’t get elsewhere, one of the things we needed to do was deliver a science column unlike any published by the competition. So I decided I’d take science fiction writers who were also scientists out to lunch or dinner, then record, transcribe, and condense the conversations for publication.

Earlier this year, I happened to think back to those chats, and it occurred to me:

Eating in restaurants … while discussing the fantastic … with science fiction writers? Isn’t that what this podcast is all about?

So I ran to the basement and dug out the box which contained my old cassette tapes, all the while wondering whether any recordings of those Science Forums still existed, and if they did, whether the sound quality would justify sharing them with you.

Rummaging through that box, I discovered many tapes, and listened first to a recording of my March 1, 1994 lunch with Arlan Andrews, Sr. and  Charles Sheffield at the Bethesda, Maryland restaurant the Pines of Rome. Our subject was the many ways the world might end. I’d transcribed that talk, edited it down, and published it in the September 1994 issue of Science Fiction Age.

(2) CAT RESCUE. Oor Resnick on rescuing SJW credentials:

Cat Rescue, Part 1: In the beginning…

To date, I have fostered approximately 65 cats and kittens in my home (which is why my upstairs carpet looks like it belongs in a crack house). Although I have fostered a few adult cats, I mostly focus on kittens–for several reasons. Kittens are easier to place (that is, more people want to adopt them), and so I can save a greater number of feline lives by fostering kittens; they move through here at a faster rate, making room for more fosters. Also, this is a small house that already has 4 permanent cats, so I favor fostering kittens because, again, they’re more likely to find homes elsewhere, rather than go unadopted and remain here the rest of their lives. Finally, my adult male cats accept the presence of kittens–they even like kittens and help me socialize them. But two of my cats are very hostile to adult cats moving in here, which creates a lot stress for everyone (including me).

Kittens very often arrive without a mother. Sometimes the mother is feral (doesn’t want contact with people, can’t be adopted), so she’s spayed, vaccinated, and released. Often the mother isn’t around; the kittens are at the age where she has stopped caring for them or is about to stop. Sometimes the mother is dead. And sometimes the mom comes into foster care with the kittens (I’ve had two such mom-cats here with their litters; one got adopted, the other is still awaiting adoption).

I got into fostering by adopting a couple of cats from a rescue group. While researching pet adoption (I am a writer; I research everything I do), I read that black cats are hard to place (and therefore have a very high rate of euthanasia), and also that bonded pairs of cats (and dogs) are harder to place than solo animals. I was perfectly willing to adopt both/either kind of cat, and Cat Adoption Team (C.A.T.) had a bonded pair of black cats available…

Cat Rescue, Part 2: Happy & Sad Endings

I get to see a lot of happy endings, which is the rewarding part. I send my fosters home with people who are so excited to get them, and in our follow-up exchanges days and months later, they tell me how much they love the cats, send me photos so I can see how they’ve grown, and say this pet is a member of the family. That is a long, long way from the ditches and cardboard boxes and sewers and dumpsters where many of our fosters were found. And that happy ending is the best part of animal rescue.
Here is a small sample of the photos I receive updating me on my former fosters….

It’s not always such a happy outcome, though. Sometimes, it is truly heartbreaking. …

[Thanks to Scott Edelman and JJ for these stories.]

Pixel Scroll 12/20/17 God Stalk Ye Merry Pixel Scrolls

(1) IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. Somebody reading this needs a ThinkGeek Steampunk Styled Tesla Analog Watch.

Tesla came up with all sorts of inventions and has sort of become the poster scientist for awesomeness now. Sure he wasn’t perfect. Sure he was a bit crazy. But he was always on time for his appointments. (Ed. note: We made that up.) And now you can be, too, with the new Tesla Watch.

The Tesla Watch goes with your steampunk aesthetic. With a weathered-brass look on all the metal parts, this analog watch features a leather strap. The highlights of this design, however, are the two faux vacuum tubes with red LEDs inside that you can turn on and off with the flick of a switch. Everybody will want to ask you what time it is so they can see your watch. Just remember to follow the answer with, “… 1875.”

(2) ACADEMY MUSEUM. The opening of The Academy Museum in 2019 is more than a year away, however, they have a website to satisfy your curiosity about what’s coming:

The Academy Museum will be the world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies. Located on Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Museum, will be simultaneously immersive, experimental, educational, and entertaining. More than a museum, this dynamic film center will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into movies and moviemaking.

The Museum will have huge resources to draw its exhibits from:

The Academy’s unparalleled permanent collection contains more than 10 million photographs, 190,000 film and video assets, 80,000 screenplays, 50,000 posters, 20,000 production and costume design drawings, and 1,400 special collections.

Their Rick Baker page illustrates the range of their offerings, in photos, videos, and documents.

A record-holding winner of seven Academy Awards for Makeup out of eleven nominations, Rick Baker is a lifelong “monster kid” who won the first competitive Oscar awarded in that category for his innovative work on An American Werewolf in London (1981), one of several collaborations with director John Landis. His apprenticeship under one of the industry’s greatest makeup artists, Dick Smith (including working as his assistant on The Exorcist), prepared him for a career providing cutting-edge makeup effects in many genres ranging from comedy to science fiction to horror, with titles including Ed Wood (1994), The Nutty Professor (1996) and Men in Black (1998).

(3) ONE MAGAZINE, ONE YEAR. Standback has Storified his “Favorite Stories From F&SF Magazine, 2017”:

F&SF is a magazine that always fills me with joy, wonder, and feels. A quick rundown of my favorite stories of 2017.

(4) THE REASON FOR THE FIFTH SEASON. N.K. Jemisin’s Twitter stream is filled with holiday song mashups today.

(5) SURPRISES. John Scalzi did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today. You never know what you’re going to learn.

Q: Do you often set out to write a book to be a series? Or do some of them just insist that you write more in that universe?

SCALZI: Only once: The Collapsing Empire, which we knew was the first installment of a series. Everything else was written standalone, and became series in when they sold well and the publisher asked for more.

(6) NEW SPECULATIVE FICTION AWARDS. Darthmouth College’s Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College has created two new literary awards, the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction and the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Debut Speculative Fiction, For A First Book. Each award comes with an honorarium of $5,000. The deadline for entry is December 31, 2017. Complete information about eligibility and submission guidelines is at the linked sites.

(7) TOYS, FIGURATIVE AND LITERAL. While Rian Johnson reasonably says — “You Have To Take The Toys Out Of The Box.” Rian Johnson Talks Creative Risks In “The Last Jedi” (at Fast Company), not as many people are doing that literally this year — “Star Wars ‘Last Jedi’ Toy Shipments Down Sharply From ‘Force Awakens'” (from The Hollywood Reporter.)

(8) WFC PROGRAMMING SURVEY. World Fantasy Con 2018 co-chair Bill Lawhorn announces they have put up a programming survey on their website — http://www.wfc2018.org/programsuggest.php

Lawhorn says, “You do not need to be a member to suggest ideas. There are no guarantees that any individual suggestion will be used.”

One of the things they’re looking for are items that carry out the WFC 2018 themes “Ports in a Storm” and “Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Frankenstein.”

(9) U.F.O. 6. Laura Resnick has a story in Unidentified Funny Objects 6 called “Lost & Found”. That story has a backstory.

I used to work part-time at a community newspaper. It should have been a great job. The hours, the location, the work, the community, and the rest of the staff were all pleasant, and the pay was okay.

Unfortunately, though, the boss (who was the editor, publisher, and owner of the paper) was an incredibly toxic person, which made working there miserable and stressful, despite all the positive attributes the place otherwise had….

Well, at one point, the boss wanted to print some “joke” stories in the newspaper. He presented staffers with a few real news stories that he wanted us to riff on. I selected one about NASA, wrote my story as directed, and turned it in. After reading it, the boss informed me that this story was not at all what he had wanted. In fact, it was what he had asked for, but now he was asking for something else. So I wrote another draft. He sent this one back to me with some notes. I revised the material in accordance with the notes and turned it in. Now he gave me all-new feedback, stuff he had not said on any previous iteration, and had me revise it again. I did so. And then he did the same thing again.

Next, he told me to start all over from scratch. He couldn’t articulate why, he just knew he wanted something else. I pointed out that I had already done 5 versions. He said I would probably have to do 10 or 12 versions before we were done….

The sad part, so to speak, was that the pieces he kept spiking were funny, and none of them ever saw the light of day.

So when Alex Shvartsman asked me to participate in UFO6, I decided to turn my ideas  for that article into a short story. The result is “Lost & Found,” in which some surprising visitors emerge from a UFO orbiting Earth.

And apparently someone thinks I can write humor, since Imagine A Book SF gave my story 5 stars and said, “So many different layers of humor. Wonderful.”

Yep, getting published is still the best revenge.

(10) HELP WANTED. Roger Silverstein is trying to identify a story —

Tim Pratt posted this on Facebook a little while back, he is hunting for a half-remembered fantasy story.  I actually remember reading this story, but I cannot remember the dang title.  This is bugging me almost as much as it bugs him.  Would you be willing to post this?  (I emailed Tim Pratt for permission to copy and paste and he said “Sure, feel free” He has posted this in various places, but never File 770.

I’ve been trying to track down a half-remembered story for the past 25 years or so. Maybe one of you will recognize it. Google always fails me, either because it’s an obscure story with no digital footprint, or because I’m misremembering salient details. I was reading some rooming house stories by Theodore Sturgeon today, and it reminded me.

The story is set in a boarding house, full of peculiar characters, many of whom have supernatural powers. There’s one man who travels the world and fixes tears in reality; I think he’s described as having “lightning in his hands.” There’s an old woman who sees angels, or maybe just one angel, I think named Toby. There’s a man with magical mechanical aptitude; I think he fixes up an old car, and takes a left turn, and the car disappears, taking him with it. There’s someone who can make things you desire appear, maybe — they make the angel the old woman sees visible to everyone, at one point; that’s one of the hazier details. I don’t remember the plot at all. I probably read it in an anthology or SF magazine that was available at the Wayne Country library in Goldsboro North Carolina in the early ’90s, but it could be from any year before that.

Ring any bells? It’s entirely possible I’m misremembering or even conflating. It was a long time ago, but the story made a big impression on my fledgling writer brain, and I’d love to find it again.

(11) SPEAR CARRIER. “Remember That Guy Who Speared a Drone At a Ren Faire?” (Reference is to this video.) They made a runestone of his feat.

(12) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Rudyard, Montana is the only populated place in the US where if you drill through the earth you wind up on land — the Kerguelan Island in the South Indian Ocean.

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY

The remarkable Ed Wynn makes his second and final appearance in The Twilight Zone as Sam Forstmann, a septuagenarian obsessed with maintaining the family grandfather clock. Sam is convinced that if the clock stops, he will die… a belief that baffles his family and the psychiatrist he visits (William Sargent).

  • December 20, 1974 — Walt Disney’s The Island At The Top Of The World debuted.
  • December 20, 1978The Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake opened.
  • December 20, 1985  — Enemy Mine was released

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • If this link works, it will take you to Matthew Gallman’s incredible 360-degree cartoon spoofing The Last Jedi.
  • Mike Kennedy says, “You haven’t seen that? Quelle horror!” – two Game of Thrones jokes, one in Pearls Before Swine, the other in Foxtrot.
  • John King Tarpinian knew we wouldn’t want to miss this moderately horrible superhero-inspired pun — Brevity.

(15) MYTHBOOSTER. In the unlikely event somebody thinks Game of Thrones is science fiction rather than fantasy, Live Science’s Charles Q. Choi, in “Is the Ice Wall from ‘Game of Thrones’ Physically Possible?”, summarizes a paper by University of Alaska (Fairbanks) glaciologist Martin Truffer about whether “The Wall” in Game of Thrones could exist.  He notes that ice flows over time and the only way to preserve a giant ice wall is to keep it at -40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the wall from cracking or deforming.

(16) FOR THE BIRDS. BBC covered the annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards:

An owl dangling precariously from a branch has scooped the overall prize of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

Out of the 3,500 entries, Tibor Kercz won the overall prize with his series of images showing an owl losing its footing and trying to claw its way back on to a branch.

Other entrants included a yawning dormouse, a photobombing sea turtle and a rather shocked seal.

(17) GORMENGHAST. John C. Wright griped about Gormenghast being published as fantasy, and prompted in response this terrific essay on the subject by Tom Simon, “Gormenghast and the Great Tradition”. (Hat tip to Niall McAuley.) At the end of his tour-de-force, Simon says –

In Britain, where genre labels count for less, the books found a permanent following years before anybody troubled to ask whether they were fantasies or not. In America, they were flung on the ash-heap by the strict rules of Modernism as practised by New York publishers, only to be rescued by Lin Carter. They are the very opposite of fairy tales; but they belong to Faërie nonetheless, for no less spacious realm will claim them. What the critics call ‘Realism’ is a small and besieged principality, entirely surrounded by the empire of Fantasy. On one side, the map says ‘Here Be Dragons’; the other side could plausibly be labelled ‘Gormenghast’. But both are provinces of the same boundless country.

That, my dear Mr. Wright, is why Titus Groan and Gormenghast count as fantasy.

(18) SMITHSONIAN CATS. SJW credentials for everything: “No Kitten Around: Museum Exhibit Celebrates ‘Divine Felines'”.

Independent, graceful, agile, adorable when they’re small — if cats are where it’s at for you, the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery of Asian Art has you covered. Their new exhibition is called Divine Felines, and it features images of cats both big and small from the land that honored them as holy: Egypt.

Ever feel fearful? Or brave? Protective? Aggressive? They had a cat for that in ancient Egypt….

(19) THE INSIDE GAME. The BBC asks — “Video games: How big is industry’s racial diversity problem?”.

When Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was released this year, it gained a lot of attention – not because it is the latest instalment for a popular franchise, it stood out for another reason.

The game was set in India, had two lead women, and one of them, Nadine Ross, is a black South African.

Other big releases this year include Assassins Creed Origins, which is set in Egypt with an African protagonist, while Star Wars Battlefront II used the likeness and voice of Janina Gavankar, an actress with part-Indian heritage.

But speaking to BBC Asian Network, Jo Twist, chief executive for Ukie, the trading body for the UK’s games industry, said there was still a long way to go before video games could be truly representative of the gaming audience.

(20) ABOUT FINN. Steven Barnes weighs in on “’The Last Jedi’ (2017)” – beware spoilers. (I thought this one mild enough to excerpt.)

I’m also still not happy with the amount of “Jar Jar” DNA in Finn. It is noticeable on a couple of levels, although they did allow his character to expand and grow some. When the very first thing we see with him is him falling out of bed, the first “buffoon laugh” of the film, you have a hill to climb, and they didn’t quite climb it. Finn’s treatment was an “othering” I didn’t appreciate. And if you defend it, you are, frankly, the reason I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized Marvel was seeking a black director for T’Challa’s saga.

(21) SFWA’S NEXT MEMBER? Jon Del Arroz publicly applied for SFWA membership today.

To SFWA’s leadership: You can check with all these people listed to verify payment, they are all members of your club. If you try some funky stuff to disqualify me, 10,000+ people who read this blog see it, that’s 5x the amount of members you have. I know you’ll play fair.

I guess we’re all interested to see what happens with that. My sympathy to whoever has to make the decision. I’d say it matters less whether his act is better or worse than other SFWA members’ than if there’s even more damage he could do once he’s inside the tent.

Maybe this is the answer.

(22) DRINK UP. The Daily Beast’s Max Watman hasn’t been killed by doing it, and he sets out to convince others “Why You Should Be Drinking Month-Old Eggnog”.

My friends Ford and Lisa invited me to their “Nog Salon” this year, and I was thrilled to attend. For you see, Ford and Lisa are practitioners of the mysterious art of aging Eggnog. Yes, aging Eggnog is actually a thing. No, I don’t have a death wish. I was actually very excited to taste their mature Nog side by side with a fresh batch we were going to whip up together.

…But I’ve learned that aging Eggnog—contrary to anyone’s first gut instinct—actually can make it safer. To be clear, I’m not talking about the non-alcoholic cartons you buy in the supermarket but the boozy old-fashioned treat that’s made from scratch. In fact, it’s very important that your recipe contains a sufficient amount of liquor, generally recommended at around 20 percent, since the alcohol is key to killing bacteria.

(23) NOT THE GREATEST MOVIE. The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney tries to convince people to stay home: “‘The Greatest Showman’: Film Review”.

The sawdust and sequins are laid on thick, the period flashbulbs pop and the champagne flows in The Greatest Showman, yet this ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story. First-time director Michael Gracey exposes his roots in commercials and music videos by shaping a movie musical whose references go no further back than Baz Luhrmann. And despite a cast of proven vocalists led with his customary gusto by Hugh Jackman, the interchangeably generic pop songs are so numbingly overproduced they all sound like they’re being performed off-camera.

(24) STARGATE TEASER. The Verge reports —

After releasing a pair of behind-the-scenes clips from Stargate: Origins, MGM has unveiled its first teaser for the upcoming digital-only show. While the franchise is known for its interstellar adventures, this prequel looks as though it’s remaining firmly grounded, and taking a bit of inspiration from the likes of Indiana Jones.

 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, IanP, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Niall McAuley, Roger Silverstein, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mr Dalliard.]

Describe Your Favorite Cover Art

By Carl Slaughter: Roaming publisher and agency catalogs in search of interesting/impressive books/series to feature or authors to interview/profile, I estimate I’ve seen the cover art for 5,000 science fiction, fantasy, and horror books. Few have caught my attention. Fewer still have compelled me to study them in detail. Take, for example, Todd Lockwood’s cover for Visitor, by Hugo winning author C.J. Cherryh, the latest in her long-running Foreigner universe series.

visitor-enlarge

  • The aliens are considerably taller than the visitor.
  • The aliens have dark skin, the visitor has light skin.
  • The aliens have dark hair, the visitor has blond hair.
  • The aliens are muscular, the visitor has a smallish, plain physique.
  • The aliens are wearing soldier uniforms and armor, the visitor is wearing a diplomacy/business suit.
  • The aliens are dressed in solid black, the visitor is dressed in solid white.
  • The aliens are carrying weapons, the visitor is carrying a book (folder? laptop?).
  • The aliens are looking left and right, as if they are wary of their surroundings (are they in enemy territory, are they bodyguards for the visitor?), the visitor’s attention is fixed straight ahead, as if focused on the task he will accomplish when he reaches his destination (or is he departing the building in the background and thinking about the meeting he just attended?).
  • There are 4 aliens, one visitor.
  • The visitor is enclaved within the aliens. Again, are they guarding him? Who is he negotiating with/for? Which side wants to assassinate him?

What caught my attention about the cover art for Visitor is that it’s so vivid, making the vast majority of its competition look crude by comparison. Something about the other covers in the Foreigner series caught my attention and I didn’t realize what until I studied them: They have distant shots of multiple characters. Most speculative covers have closeups of one or two characters. Half the covers of the Foreigner series don’t have the characters in a battle-ready pose. The typical speculative cover has a character clutching a gun/sword ready to slay the nearest dragon, zombie, or imperial trooper.

Daniel Dos Santos cover art for Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick

Daniel Dos Santos cover art for Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick

Another example of a cover that grabbed my attention and intrigued me is Daniel Dos Santos’ cover for Misfortune Cookie, one of Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond paranormal mystery novels. Rather than a scene, there are numerous items depicting various elements of the plot. I count at least 4 hands sticking out of that giant fortune cookie. Esther is a striking pose and portrayed as being perpetually on the move as she solves the case. The other art in the Esther Diamond series is almost as good.

What about you? What cover art has caught your attention and why?

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 2/2/16 A Spoonful Of Pixels Helps The Medicine Scroll Down

(1) ALTERNATIVE FUTURISM AT UCR. Despite everything else that’s happened to sf studies there, the sun still rose over Riverside this morning and the University of California Riverside announced new events in its continuing Alternative Futurisms Series. The series is funded by a $175,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Authors Daniel José Older and Walter Mosley will speak on Wednesday, Feb. 3, followed on March 3 by a panel of award-winning authors discussing the expectations of science fiction and fantasy produced by Caribbean writers….

“Throughout 2015-2016, the Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms is helping to build bridges amongst the various zones of scholarship and creation in people-of-color futurisms and fantastical narratives,” said Nalo Hopkinson, co-organizer of the yearlong seminar, a professor of creative writing and an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. “Following a successful fall quarter, which included a conference, film screenings and panel discussions, the winter quarter is focusing on creators of people-of-color science fiction and fantasy.”

… “The Sawyer Seminar has brought together faculty, students and the larger community around the important question of imagining a diverse future,” said Milagros Peña, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS). “I am proud of CHASS’s continuing commitment to science fiction studies.”

Events scheduled this month and in the spring include:

Thursday, March 3, 3:30 p.m. Interdisciplinary 1113 – Panel discussion on Caribbean science fiction and fantasy. Panelists are: with Karen Lord, an award-winning Barbadian author (“Redemption in Indigo,” “The Best of All Possible Worlds”) and research consultant; Karin Lowachee, an award-winning author (“Warchild,” “Cagebird”) who was born in South America, grew up in Canada, and worked in the Arctic; Nalo Hopkinson, award-winning author (“Midnight Robber,” “Falling in Love With Hominids”) who was born in Jamaica and teaches creative writing at UCR with a focus on the literatures of the fantastic such as science fiction, fantasy and magical realism; and Tobias Buckell, a best-selling author who grew up in Grenada and whose work (the “Xenowealth” series, “Hurricane Fever”) has been nominated for numerous awards.

Monday, April 11, 4 p.m. (location tbd) – Readings by Ted Chiang, whose work (“Tower of Babylon,” “Exhalation,” “The Lifecycle of Software Objects”) has won numerous awards; and Charles Yu, whose debut novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” was a runner-up for the Campbell Memorial Award.

(2) EARTHSEA OF GREEN. The Kickstarter appeal for Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin raised its target amount of $80,000 on the very first day. A total of $83,268 has been pledged by 1,164 backers as of this writing.

(3) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day’s daily slate revelation was “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Fan Artist”, with picks Karezoid, rgus, Matthew Callahan, Disse86, and Darkcloud013.

(4) DAY VERSUS DAVIDSON. Vox Day also reacted to Steve Davidson’s attempt to get Andy Weir to repudiate slates: “SJW attempts to block Weir nomination”.

As for why I did not recommend Mr. Weir as Best New Writer last year, it was for a very simple and straightforward reason. I had not read his novel. Unlike so many of the SJWs, I do not recommend novels I have not read, writers whose books I have not read, or artists whose work I have not seen. Those who have not brought their works to my attention have only themselves, and their publishers to blame, if I remain unfamiliar with them. I am but a mere superintelligence, I am not omniscient.

It is perhaps worth noting, again, that I do not care in the least what a writer or an artist happens to think about being recommended; die Gedanken sind frei. People can recuse themselves, publicly repudiate, or virtue-signal, or perform interpretive dance to express the depth of their feelings about Rabid Puppies. It makes no difference to me.

That being said, it appears Marc Miller is not eligible for Best New Writer despite having published his debut novel in 2015. I shall have to revisit that category at a later date.

Although it really doesn’t have any implications for the current discussion, it’s an interesting bit of trivia that Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who was on both the Sad and Rabid slates last year as a short fiction editor, was the person who edited Weir’s novel The Martian.

(5) BIGGER ISSUE. David J. Peterson argues that Puppy drama is overshadowing a really important issue – the lack of a YA Hugo.

No, to my mind the real injustice in the Hugo Awards is the lack of a separate award for YA fiction. More than anywhere else, YA is drawing new readers to science-fiction and fantasy. Yes, right now HBO’s Game of Thrones is huge, and it’s based on a very adult series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, but beyond, what else is big—and I mean big big—in SFF? A few series come to mind: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments. I’m sure you can think of others (oh, duh, Twilight, whatever you think of it). All of these are very successful YA series (all by female authors, incidentally), and all of them have been made into movies that range from moderately successful, to wildly, outrageously successful. Generally, though, unless it’s world-shatteringly successful, YA novels don’t stand a chance of being nominated for a Hugo, let alone winning (of all the books listed above, only two were nominated for best novel—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—with the latter winning)….

Writing YA fiction is a different endeavor than writing adult fiction. There are different rules in play; a different audience to consider. It’s a different approach altogether. Different. Not better. Not worse. But different. Think of your favorite YA novel and your favorite adult novel (two that jump to mind immediately for me are Matilda and The Great Gatsby). Can you rank one over the other? I can’t. It’s not because I can’t decide which one is better: It’s because they’re not even playing by the same rules….

And that’s my point with YA and the Hugos. YA is underrepresented, but it’s not because readers are ignoring it or anything like that: It’s because it’s competing in a category it shouldn’t be. Right now, enormous YA works are grabbing new readers by the truckload and essentially delivering them into SFF fandom, but they don’t have a seat at the table. This is an issue that has been raised before, but I think the whole Sad Puppy thing has really shoved it to the side, and that, to me, is a real shame.

(6) SEEKS LOVE. Meantime, James Troughton just cuts to the chase —

(7) FINDS LOVE. Congratulations Laura Resnick on the film option offered on one of your romance novels!

The deposit has cleared, which means it’s time to announce: I’ve been offered a film option deal for my romance novel, FALLEN FROM GRACE. This means I’ve licensed the right for a filmmaker to apply for development money from (of all things) the National Film Board in South Africa (where the story would be relocated and the movie made, if it’s made). It’s a multi-stage process and may never get beyond this point (or may never get beyond the next point, “development,” etc.), but I’m still excited. I’ve had an initial approach 2-3 times before about film adaptations (though not for this book), but no one has ever before pursued it beyond the initial “are these rights available?”

(8) BLUE TWO. The New Zealand Herald reports “First Avatar sequel to start shooting in NZ this April”.

The follow-up to the blockbuster hit Avatar will start production in New Zealand this year.

Director James Cameron is set to start filming the first of three Avatar sequels in April, which are scheduled to be released one year after the other.

The first sequel was supposed to come out in cinemas later this year, but delays have forced the release date to the end of 2017.

According to My Entertainment World, the film will start shooting in California’s Manhattan Beach and New Zealand.

The website also reveals the premise for the film, saying “Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) permanently transfers his consciousness to his Na’vi avatar and begins a new life with Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) after they defeat the human colonisers.”

(9) DRAWERS IN A MANUSCRIPT. M. Harold Page recommends a book about period costumes at Black Gate: “Pulp-era Gumshoes and Queen Victoria’s Underwear: Stitches in Time: The Story of the Clothes We Wear by Lucy Addlington”.

It puts us in the shoes (and unmentionables) of the people we read about — the Pulp-era gumshoes and flappers, the Victorian Steam Punk inventors, the swashbuckling musketeers. They all feel a bit more real when we know how they dress in the morning, how they manage the call of nature, what fashion bloopers they worry about, how their clothes force them to walk or sit.

It also helps us decode some of the nuances. For example, men’s shirts were actually regarded as underwear until well past the Victorian period. If you took off your jacket, you’d immediately don a dressing gown. To be in your shirtsleeves was to be not entirely decent. The color of your shirt reflected your class and… and it’s a rabbit hole of nuance and snobbery. You just have to read it.

(10) X-FILES. If you’re in the market for a spoiler-filled recap of the latest X-Files episode, click Mashable’s “’The X-Files’ Episode 3 was a silly hour of TV that couldn’t have been better”.

(11) TOO MUCH LAVA. Open Culture today highlighted this eight-minute animation of the destruction of Pompeii from 2013. Well worth the eight minutes.

A good disaster story never fails to fascinate — and, given that it actually happened, the story of Pompeii especially so. Buried and thus frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the ancient Roman town of 11,000 has provided an object of great historical interest ever since its rediscovery in 1599. Baths, houses, tools and other possessions (including plenty of wine bottles), frescoes, graffiti, an ampitheater, an aqueduct, the “Villa of the Mysteries“: Pompeii has it all, as far as the stuff of first-century Roman life goes.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 commenter of the day IanP.]

The Dogcatcher In The Rye 6/17

aka The Summer of our Manufactured Discontent

In today’s roundup: Sarah A. Hoyt, Vox Day, David Gerrold, Steven Brust, John Scalzi, Peter Grant, Laura J. Mixon, Laura Resnick, Spacefaring Kitten, Chris Gerrib, David Gerrold, Adam-Troy Castro, Lis Carey, Larry Correia, Brad Johnson and mysterious others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Nigel and Dawn Sabados.)

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Fun House Mirrors” – June 17

But I’ve been on a slow simmer since the Irene Gallo comments, and that was brought to a boil yesterday.

Why yesterday, you ask?

Because the hypocritical scum (I apologize to any scum I might have offended) who runs file 770 has been gleefully linking anything of mine that even uses the letters H-u-g- and o in the same paragraph, but yesterday I wrote about his hypocrisy in taking a sentence of mine out of context and linking it with a clever-daft punchline of the “Hydrophobia that falls on you from nowhere” to imply I was homophobic.

Did he link yesterday’s post? Are you kidding? Even though he’s fairly sure his blinded followers will rarely click through, he couldn’t afford to explode his narrative. He’d on the flimsiest of “evidence” – i.e. my refusal to go into details on same sex marriage and other accommodations for more “exotic” orientations in a post to which it wasn’t even incidental – declared me homophobic, and he couldn’t risk the narrative being exploded.

I confess that when my Baen colleagues were making fun of file 770 and going on about “Mike Glyer, Fifty Hugos” (the number of nominations he’d had) I thought they were being a little mean. After all, the man was just well-intentioned and blinkered, and believed the narrative.

Guys, I was wrong, you were right. He’s not deceived, but he willfully deceives. He is not a useful idiot, but one who would seek to make idiots out of others. He’s not the sheep, but the judasgoat.

Why does that matter to me? Why do I get so upset if it’s not true? Isn’t it an axiom (at least on the left side of politics) that you only get upset if it’s secretly true?

[I reminded Sarah A. Hoyt the roundup titles are a trope, not a comment on the writers quoted. She did not take me up on my offer to run another excerpt, so I can only commend the entire post to you — “Dispatches From Another World” – June 12.]

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Updates” – June 17

Since many of you have been asking, no, no one has received any response from anyone at Tor Books or Macmillan. We know at least some of the emails have been read by the recipients. Be patient, we have to give Macmillan time to investigate the situation and discover for themselves just how dysfunctional and unprofessional their U.S. subsidiary is. Remember that Julie Crisp, Editorial Director of Tor UK, left the company “following a review of the company’s science fiction and fantasy publishing” in May, and her public behavior was unobjectionable in comparison with that of Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

Also, Jagi has asked that when you send her your pictures of your Tor books, please tell her what state or country you are from. She’s received them from 65 people to date.

 

David Gerrold in a comment on Facebook – June 17

So, Vox Day has declared a boycott of Tor Books.

I expect this will be as effective as the Baptist boycott of Disney World.

 

 

 

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“The blindness of the ideologically bound” – June 17

And so, when Ms. Gallo accused me – me – of being ‘unrepentantly racist’ purely because I happened to support the Sad Puppy cause, that was the last straw.  I’d heard that lie from SJW’s before, of course, and been able to get over it . . . but lies like that are like the Chinese water torture.  Sooner or later, something’s going to snap.  Her accusations were, to me, unforgivable;  and since she’s never seen fit to retract them, they still are.  Since her employer has seen fit to allow her, and others like her, to pontificate about something of which they apparently know absolutely nothing, to make false accusations and toss denigrations around like confetti, doing so on company time and using company computers and networks . . . that employer is complicit in the whole mess.  Hence my outrage against Tor.  Hence the boycott for which I will call on Friday if Tor and its holding company, Macmillan, don’t act against those responsible.

I won’t take this any more.  I know I’m far from the only Puppy supporter who’s had enough of the SJW’s lies and slanders and libels.  They want a war?  They can have one.

 

Laura J. Mixon

“I stand with Irene Gallo, and I stand with Tor” – June 17

Bullies and abusers rely on the larger community’s desire for comity—our willingness to live and let live—to impose their will and silence dissent. In such a case, it’s incumbent on people with standing in the community to speak up against them, providing a counterweight to their destructive ideas. By speaking when she did, in my view, Irene was doing what other thought leaders in our field like N. K. Jemisin, John Scalzi, and the Nielsen Haydens have done: guarding the health and well-being of our SFF community by standing up against hate speech.

Some feel the stark terms Irene applied to the Sad and Rabid Puppies movements in her FaceBook post—racist, misogynist, homophobic, neo-nazi—were too harsh and too broadly applied. That she spoke out of turn and had no business criticizing the Sad and Rabid Puppies campaign while promoting a Tor book. They protest that their views are not extreme, and using such terms unfairly maligns them, by lumping them in with someone they don’t support. Some members of the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns have indeed distanced themselves from Beale, and perhaps they were initially unaware of just how extreme his views were.

I believe that communities can grow and change. People can learn; viewpoints can shift. I have a seed of hope that someday, through continued dialog and education, we can find a way through this and mend some of the rifts that this conflict has exposed.

But there is no getting around the fact that a misogynistic, homophobic white supremacist, who has spoken approvingly of shootings and acid attacks on women, and of Hitler and the Holocaust, who has called a respected SFF scholar and popular writer an ignorant, “not equally human” savage, stands at the heart of this conflict. Beale’s followers and fellow travelers may not themselves hold all the bigoted views he does, but information on who he is and how he feels about women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others has been widely shared by now. If people are emailing you calling for Irene to be fired, they are unavoidably supporting Beale’s hate-filled agenda.

 

Laura Resnick on Facebook – June 17

I’m guessing that, for a raft of reasons, Tor and Macmillan will not meet any of these demands, and so it seems likely the Puppies will boycott the biggest publisher in our genre starting on Friday. I’m skeptical that a few hundred people will have an effect on a program the size of Tor, and also skeptical that their numbers will grow. So I’m more concerned about what persons, organizations, or businesses will be the Puppies’ next target. I didn’t think they would stop with the Hugos, and I’m skeptical they’ll stop with Tor, either.

 

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Answering Peter Grant” – June 17

Sad Puppy activist Peter Grant was one of the most vocal people pushing for this week’s hatemail campaign directed at Tor….

He says:

I’ll do my best not to stoop to name-calling, with the exception of referring to the other side as ‘social justice warriors’ or SJW’s. I do so only because I have no other name in my vocabulary to adequately or accurately describe them. If anyone can suggest a better, more acceptable alternative, I’ll be grateful.

I replied in the comments that the best alternative would be Happy Kittens. Sadly, it seems like my comment was deleted.

I’d like to rephrase my suggestion here: please drop the SJW and start using Happy Kittens if you insists on having a handle for the people who are critical of Sad Puppies. It’s not offensive. It’s kind of funny in the same way as Sad Puppies. It looks ridiculous in an angry sentence. Plenty of good reasons.

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Puppy Bites Woman AGAIN, Pictures at 11 !!!!” – June 17

I find a notable fact buried in the piles of puppy-doo.

I’m going to dig said fact out and clean it up for you. I’m doing this because facts have been one thing in short supply in this debate. For the most part, what we get are vague statements that some unnamed person committed some undefined offense sometime during a large event. But now we have a fact.

Per Vox, 765 individual people emailed Tor complaining about Gallo. That sounds like a lot, except, 79,279 people bought a copy of Redshirts in 2013. So, if you take 765 and divide it by 79,279, you get .00964. In other words, less than 1% of the people who bought one book from Tor are complaining. You’d have to magnify that complaint number by an order of magnitude to get anybody’s attention.

 

David Gerrold in a message on Facebook – June 17

A friend has pointed out to me that any attempt to calm people down is doomed unless everyone involved wants to calm down. He then went on to point out that too often there are individuals who will have a vested interest in escalating the uproar. It increases their visibility — and their illusion (delusion?) of power.

It is — according to my very wise friend — a kind of ferocious madness that has to reach a peak before it can burn itself out. It cannot be calmed and those… efforts are doomed. It has to be inflamed by those who are enraptured by the heat they can generate and like any addiction, the dosage has to be increased, they can only crave more and more — until the whole thing becomes a bonfire and they are finally, ultimately immolated in the flames.

He might be right.

I’ve seen flame wars online that have destroyed whole forums — and I’ve seen the perpetrators of these flame wars move from forum to forum, leaving a trail of ruined relationships behind them. I cannot think of a single instance where a call for peace was effective. Even Gandhi died by a bullet.

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 17

I have heard more than one person say that they’re dreading Worldcon.

I won’t say that this is what the Sad and Rabid Puppies want as a group, even if I do think it’s what of a couple of the individual standard-bearers want. I will say that it is certainly what a great number of the trolls slamming so-called SJW writers on their behalf want. (And I do think it would tickle Beale the Galactic Zero no end. This is the guy who cheers spree killers, after all.)

Alas, I am not going to Worldcon this year. It would take an unexpected windfall of colossal proportions. Maybe next year, or the year after.

But if I was, “dread it”? To hell with that. I go to have fun, to catch up with old friends, to make new ones, to find treasures in the Dealer’s Room, to talk about my pop-culture obsessions and to hear others talk about my pop-culture obsessions. I’d be going, this year, to see my friend David Gerrold in his Guest of Honor gig and to see him and my friend Tananarive Due nail their Hugo-hosting gig. You think, if attendance was in my cards for me, I would waste more than one millisecond of brain energy on the premise that some no-neck gibberer with a fixation on his own imaginary oppression might say something nasty to me?

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Cedar ‘Go Buy A Shooter Bimbo Shirt’ Sanderson” – June 17

Cedar Sanderson is the third member of the Mad Genius Club in this category, and she has produced what is probably the single best blog post in the voters packet I’ve read so far that has actually something do with SFF. In it, she ponders the shortcomings of generic fantasy on the lines of Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland which is a book I should probably read sometime. The text would be stronger if Sanderson had gone into specifics and given some more concrete examples of bad fantasy, but it’s not bad as is.

 

H.P. on Every Day Should Be Tuesday

“Review of Rat Queens vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe” – June 17

ratqueens

Each of the four members has her moments, the story is intriguing enough, and the comic is genuinely funny. They’re foul-mouthed, horny, and have a distinct tendency to cause disproportionate property damage. And can drink their rival adventurers under the table as easily as they kill their enemies. They’re joined by a host of cool minor characters, from a long-suffering captain of the town watch who’s sleeping with one of the Rat Queens to the friendly rival adventurer group named the Four Daves (exactly what it says on the tin) to a villainous local merchant to one very annoying town watchman. All in all, it probably has the best combo of awesome female characters around.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Best Editor, Long Form — 2015 Hugo Award Nominees” – June 17

[She reviews all five nominees. I excerpted the one that struck me as the most favorable.]

Sheila Gilbert: Ms. Gilbert is, with Betsy Wollheim, Publisher at DAW. Ms. Gilbert did provide both a list of edited works, and sample chapters. Her writers include Seanan McGuire, Julie Czerneda, and Jacey Bedford, and the sample chapters include both science fiction and fantasy. Within the limits of my ability to assess her work as an editor, I’m very impressed. There are also some new works added to my To Be Read list.

 

Font Folly

“Hugo Ballot Reviews: Graphic Story” – June 17

[Preceded by reviews of all nominees.]

Rat Queens is hands-down the winner of slot number one on my Hugo ballot in this category. And with Zombie Nation at number five, the only thing left up in the air is where how I’m going to rank Saga, Sex Criminals, and Ms. Marvel, because I want all of them and Rat Queens to take home an award, dang it!

 

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Somebody sent me a Sad Puppies holster” – June 17

I’ve not been saying much about the Sad Puppies controversy lately, because right now it is out of my hands. Some employees of a publishing house said some pretty outlandish things, and their customers are ticked and writing lots of letters. I’m staying out of that one.

But some author friends had this made for me and sent as a gift. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be identified.

Sad Puppy 1911 Holster Right Hand

Sad Puppy 1911 Holster Right Hand

 

 

 

Send In The Puppies… Don’t Bother They’re Here 4/28

aka One To Forsee For Puppies

Reactions to Edmund R. Schubert’s withdrawal as a Hugo nominee dominate today’s roundup, illustrated here by quotes from Lou Antonelli, N. K. Jemisin, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, George R.R. Martin and Dara Korra’ti. Annie Bellet elaborated on her own withdrawal in a comment left on Jim C. Hines’ blog.

The rest of the roundup takes note of new voices like Michael A. Rothman, Rachel Iliffe, John Popham, Moira J. Moore and Brenda Noiseux, and hears more from Amanda S. Green, Will McLean, Sandy Ryalls, T. L. Knighton, Vox Day, Sean Wallace, Nick Mamatas and others. (Credit for these titles belongs to File 770 contributing editors Laura Resnick and Matt Y.)

Lou Antonelli on Facebook

I don’t know how useful it will be to attend an event whose master of ceremonies is openly antagonistic to most of the potential honorees, and who is already predicting the outcome (below) and has – in other places – essentially vowed a blacklist (“It will take people a long time to forget how you tried to destroy the Hugos” or something to that effect). I mean, if I win one, will he hit me over the head with it? Where’s MY Safe Space?

 

 

 

 

 

Deidre Saoirse Moen in a comment on Sounds Like Weird

[Edmund] Schubert stated on the IGMS website that he didn’t know about the slates until afterward, and I’ve updated the post with a link to his statement. (I’d seen the link mentioned before my post, but I wasn’t able to get through to the site at that time.)

While I can see an argument for doubting his word, I’m of the “I take people at their word unless I have a reason not to” school of thought.

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Schubert Withdraws” – April 28

Edmund R. Schubert, the editor of ORSON SCOTT CARD’S INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW, has announced his decision to withdraw from the Hugo race…

I understand the reasons for his withdrawal and applaud his integrity. It cannot be easy to walk away from a major award, perhaps one that you have dreamed of someday winning. And this takes courage as well; like the others who have dropped off the Puppy slate, he will undoubtedly come in for a certain amount of angry barking from the kennels.

 

Dara Korra’ti on crime and the forces of evil

“edmund schubert bows out” – April 28

Edmund Schubert says he’s published queer authors in Intergalactic Medicine Show, and will continue to do so, and he says that’s with the full support of Mr. Card. Also stories by and of women, and various racial groups and religions. That’s good.

But I’ve got an assortment of assaults and a hospital visit and more money than I want to think about and years of lost time and decades of living in various degrees of fear all spent fighting for my legal and occasionally physical life against Mr. Card’s allies, and, to a lesser degree, Mr. Card himself. He and his friends on the social right have quite literally cost me and millions like me untold amounts of both blood and treasure.

And his erstwhile allies still are, across the globe, American fundamentalists exporting their religion of hate, getting execution laws passed, spreading the same lies they weren’t able to sell at home any longer.

So don’t expect that to stop mattering to me. And never, ever, dare tell me that it shouldn’t matter. Because, maybe, for you, it doesn’t have to. But to me? That’s quite a luxury. One I will never have.

 

Annie Bellet in a comment on Jim C. Hines’ “Choosing Sides”

Thank you for writing this post, Jim. The Us vs Them and points scoring thing overtaking what the Hugos should be is exactly why I withdrew.

I should clarify though that when I say I didn’t do it because of pressure from either “side” I am not saying there wasn’t pressure (I had plenty of messages on all sides telling me to hang tough, that my story was amazing, that I shouldn’t decline just because of who might have voted for me, etc, and messages saying I should be ashamed of myself, that I’d stolen the nomination from a real writer who actually deserved it, etc). I’m saying I made my decision for many other reasons. It’s one reason I took nearly two weeks to withdraw, because it was a very tough decision and I wanted to make sure I was doing it because it was right for me, for my own reasons, and not because of what people around me were saying was right or wrong. Because I wanted to make sure my withdrawal was for me and that it could be something I felt comfortable with instead of just a reaction to other people’s pain.

Hope that clarifies.

 

Michael A. Rothman on Facebook – April 28

For the Big-F Fandom community who feels aggrieved that people are acting unethically or against what you feel is right, then let me make a suggestion. [This is coming from a guy who participates and runs standards organizations, so it’s not exactly coming from someone who doesn’t have a clue.]

– Change the rules to match your expectations. That means no hidden agendas or intent, be forthright about what WorldCon and more specifically the Hugos are about and form the rules around that.

If you don’t do that, all your belly aching is just that. Pathetic whining that no adult should be doing and nobody who isn’t in your clique will respect.

If you set rules, you are drawing a line in the sand. Nothing more, nothing less.

All this argument over seemliness and the proper type of voter etc. is just not professional and not what people in the real world do. You come off looking silly and quite pathetic.

 

Rachel Iliffe on Rachelloon Productions

“#SadPuppies : Stop the Hugo Awards Bullies?” – April 28

In 2013 when I first started this blog one of my first posts was about the STGRB controversy. For those of you who don’t know, STGRB stands for ‘Stop The GoodReads Bullies’, and was a group who formed one side of another SJW conflict—however, this was a little different to the more recent debacles we’ve grown to love.

The basic background was this: a number of popular intersectional feminist book-reviewers had been declared ‘bullies’ by a group of mostly independent authors whose books had been criticised by them for reasons of sexism etc. Now, the timeline here was very murky, or at least it was when I first became aware of it, concerning who had stated this whole thing. There were accusations of ’rounding up mobs of fans’ flying back and forth from one side to the other (I’m sure the SJWs have a word for that in their Newspeak lexicon… eh, I probably don’t want to know) and of course, accusations of doxxing, threats and harassment.

Those who supported STGRB claimed that their books had been criticised unfairly, and that when this occurred more often than not the friends and followers of these feminist reviewers, many reviewers just as popular, would immediately give their book a correspondingly poor rating on Goodreads without even thinking of actually reading it for themselves—and with many of these being indie authors, drive the average rating of the book down significantly and negatively impact the impressions of potential readers.

 

Amanda S. Green on Mad Genius Club

“And the tantrums continue” – April 28

The logic of so many of them fails on almost every level, from assigning SP3 as some sort of partner or even tool of GamerGate to fear that if SP3 is successful we might — gasp — get a writer like Diana Gabaldon winning a Hugo and we mustn’t have that because she writes icky romances.

Give me a freaking break. (Yes, I said something different but I’m censoring myself this morning.)

I think it was this last one that sent me screaming into the night. The fear that someone who writes fantasy with a distinct romance bent might be nominated, much less win was so over the top. It was as if those making the complaint truly believes science fiction and fantasy are still pure genres. Obviously they haven’t read much lately. If they had, they would see that there is genre crossing all around. Yes, you can, with a lot of searching, find a pure hard science fiction novel, but they are few and far between. Fantasy has, for years, had some aspect of mystery or romance or the like in it. The mixing of genres, when done well, is a good thing.

I’ll repeat that, mixing of genres when done well is a good thing.

It helps by bringing in readers who might never have picked up a science fiction or fantasy book. That brings more money to the writers and publishers. It will bring in even more new readers as word of mouth spreads. Where is the harm in all that?

The very fact that some of those who are anti-Puppy are afraid that icky romance writers might invade their ivory towers of Awardland simply proves what so many of us have been saying. Those folks have gotten too comfortable with their hold on the awards and refuse to admit, even to themselves, that there might be award-worthy books outside their comfort zone.

 

John Popham on The Infinite Reach

“The House of Many Rooms” – April 28

Of course, it is an ill wind that blows no one good. If nothing else, the sturm und drang surrounding the Hugos appears to have re-energized the larger science fiction community’s engagement with the Hugo voting process. George R. R. Martin commented in his blog post What Now? that a air of complacency has surrounded the nomination process in recent years, with many Worldcon members abdicating the nomination process to a small group of Worldcon insiders. As I pointed out in 2,122, for every voter who submitted a nominating ballot this year, at least seven of the ~16,000+ eligible voters did not.  I’d expect to see next year’s nominations get a lot of love from the science fiction community. With more fans voting, the 2016 nominations should represent a much broader cross-section of (lower-case) fandom’s population.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the Hugo Awards’ current open nomination process will survive beyond 2016. George R. R. Martin wrote in the same blog post that Worldcon members currently in control are crafting changes to the voting rules. The proposed changes are intended to preclude interlopers from nominating ‘undeserving’ authors and their works for Hugo Awards in the future. By definition, such rule changes would have to limit the democratic nature of the nominating process; shifting influence from the general public (who can buy a supporting Worldcon membership for $40) to insiders who can be, it is supposed, counted on to nominate works that reflect the will of Worldcon’s current movers and shakers.

 

Moira J. Moore on  Archives of the Triple S

“moiraj.livejournal.com/364402.html” – April 28

Many people have come to feel that it doesn’t matter who gets what award at the Hugos this year, because the whole thing is tainted. There will always be an asterisk beside the awards handed out. To me, Schubert’s announcement is a stunt. Schubert is rejecting what has turned out to be a worthless award – leaving it so late that they can’t actually take the name off the ballots – and trying to look like he’s taking a moral stand, when he’s really just making the Sad Puppies’ argument for them. And pimping out his magazine.

 

Will McLean on A Commonplace Book

“Keep Calm and Carry On” – April 28

Team Puppies are not, in my opinion, covering themselves with glory at this time. The Sad Puppies are in the awkward position that their slate got a lot of mutual votes from the Rabid Puppies. So they must dance an awkward dance between “We have no association with the Rabids, although we have obviously benefited from their nominations” and “We refuse to disavow the Rabids in any way, because you can’t make us and we don’t want to, and we’re not saying we don’t approve of them, but we won’t say we do approve of them either.” I think they fall between two stools.

 

Brenda Noiseux on Women Write About Comics

“Hurtful Fandom and the Damage of the Puppies” – April 28

Since the location of each year’s Worldcon is selected by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) two years prior to the date of that convention, dedicated volunteers are working for two years to produce a great experience for their fellow fans in the community. On top of that, committees bid for the site of the Worldcon, a process that can take an additional one or more years. That means that volunteers could be working on a convention three to four years in advance.

Which brings me to why the slate voting campaign has bothered me so much that I don’t want to think about it. Producing Worldcon and celebrating the winners of the Hugo Award is a gigantic all volunteer collaborative effort. For a small group of disgruntled fans, to take advantage of a loophole raises a giant middle finger to all those who dedicated countless hours to the hard work of making the Worldcon, the science fiction and fantasy community, and ultimately the Hugos better. That people who claim to be fans and part of this community could do something so hurtful, feels so personal and leaves me feeling raw.

Yes, there are issues in the literary science fiction community. Yes, there needs to be more diversity in the works that are encouraged and celebrated while at the same time retaining the high standards. Yes, there needs to be an embracing of new fans, younger fans, more diverse fans.

Change is never easy nor does it happen overnight. Positive organic change is happening in the science fiction and fantasy community, and I’ll keep doing my part and putting in the hard work to help it along.

 

Sandy Ryalls on Black Gate

“The Proxy Culture War for the Soul of Middle-Earth” – April 27

Privilege Distress and the Proxy in the Proxy War

Privilege distress is better defined here than anything I can manage. For those who aren’t going to read another article: privilege distress is the feeling of unease felt by people who are having injustice that works in their favor re-addressed.

It’s a permanent fixture in the culture war, and most political discourse. There’s a reason that Republicans play well with white men and Democrats play well with women and members of racial minorities. That reason is that the broad strokes of the culture war are whether we want a society which favors those it favors, or whether we want one which works for everyone.

One of the major fronts of the culture war in the age of the Internet Native is the ongoing clash between the Social Justice (SJ) movement and the self-proclaimed Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs). Media is a pretty big part of that front because it’s a major principle of the overarching SJ philosophy that culture is important and shapes the rest of society.

SJ activists want geekdom (along with the rest of society) to be a safe, inclusive space.

The MRAs don’t think there is a problem and look upon attempts to change our culture with suspicion and hostility.

To MRA’s, the fact that women have buying power in the media sphere and people have ways of having social discourse that doesn’t pander to white maleness is a threat. This isn’t just ideology. It’s also identity.

I mention the Republicans because Coriella did. Because he flat-out crowed that the vandalization of the Hugos was an act of red state, culture war, privilege distress and he linked it to the gamer movement which responded to mild criticism of some video games with death threats, the leaking of personal information, and a threat to shoot up a university.

The proxy part is where this intersects with geekdom. One of the unfortunate shared experiences of most geeks is bullying. Most geeks feel outside of social normality because they’ve been put there by other people. The trauma carried by a lot of geeks surrounding this is very real and very unfortunate.

It’s also true that, in a lot of ways, the SJ philosophy is born of an intellectual liberalism; that its adherents go beyond geekdom; that it can often take a snooty, condescending tone; that outrage is certainly in its playbook; that problematic parts of geekdom can be caricatured in ways that are reminiscent of the bullying faced by a lot of white male geeks.

This makes it very easy for the places where the MRAs meet geekdom to paint the places where the SJ activists meet geekdom as judgmental, insurgent, outsiders intent on stripping away their solace and condemning them for the unforgivable sin of being a weirdo. To tie that white male geek identity with an antipathy to SJ activists as a group rather than engaging with the issues which are actually being fought over.

 

T. L. Knighton

“Tale of Two Fandoms”  – April 28

First, let’s look at the CHORFs.  Yes, I’m going to use it, and I really don’t care how bad someone we accuse of being a CHORF claims it’s never going to be a thing.  Mostly because it is, so she can get over it.  CHORFs also tend to lean left politically, but not universally.

The CHORFs tend to prefer more literary science fiction, which is fine.  I don’t care for it, but the world isn’t built around my preferences.  However, that’s not where it ends.  The CHORFs seem to feel that they are the arbiters of taste and decency.  They feel they’re also the arbiters of morality. They know why a bisexual person disagrees with them about things, and it’s things like self-hate and homophobia (and a bi person can be homophobic? Does that mean a black person actually can be racist?) because no sane person could possibly disagree with them.

CHORFs tend to control awards, because historically they’ve been the group that really cares about that sort of thing.  They’re the masters of the whisper campaigns, the rallying of their buddies to get their names on the ballot quietly and behind the scenes, but would never do something as unseemly as try to rally supporters in public…unless they do it, then it’s totes different because reasons.

 

Mark Hemingway in The Weekly Standard

“Revenge of the Nerds” – April 27

[Note: TWS  has given a new timestamp to the same piece linked here on April 17, if you were reading the roundup then.]

For more than 50 years, the Hugo Awards have been handed out at the annual World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) to honor the best science fiction and fantasy writing of the previous year. But when the nominees for this year’s Hugos were announced, it touched off a firestorm unlike any in the awards’ history.

That’s because so many of this year’s nominees are perceived (not always correctly) to be conservative or libertarian. A group of right-leaning science fiction authors organized a campaign to stuff this year’s Hugo Awards ballot with writers they felt had been overlooked.

Kgbooklog in a comment on More Words, Deeper Hole:

Maybe it’s time for a new rule: If 10% or more of the finalists decline their nomination, the Hugo Award is canceled for that year and the time and space reserved for the award ceremony is used for the Business Meeting instead. (If I’m counting right, we’re up to 7.5% this year so far.)

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

Vile Minion pride – April 28

Dear Evil Legion of Evil, It has come to my attention that our vile faceless minions, in their abject loyalty to Our Evilness, crave more than the mere lash of our whips, the daily sustenance of SJW blood, and the occasional bones of an SJW on which to gnaw. Such is their pride in the growing spread of the dark shadow over lands hitherto unengulfed that they have begged for badges of recognition with which they can strike yet more fear into our craven and cowardly foes.

It is, of course, exceedingly risible to imagine that we should raise them up to the extent of providing them with names. Or, as one minion, who is unfortunately no longer with us after an accident that involved six Hellhounds and the untimely ringing of a dinner bell, once had the temerity to suggest, pay them wages. But it occurred to me, in a stroke of Indubitably Evil Genius, that it might be useful to be able to tell the difference between these otherwise indistinguishable, and indeed, faceless, creatures. Therefore, in my Tender yet Sinister Mercy, I have graciously acceded to their pleas.

 

Nate on The Pan Galactic Blogger Blaster

“Slight Design Change” – April 26

I am Number 1.

I am Nate… and I approve this message.

0001_Evil-Legion-of-Evil_Vile-Faceless-Minion_512x512

Dammit.

[Vox Day wrote that the first batch of numbered icons was gone in 45 minutes.]

 

Sean Wallace on Facebook – April 28

Without context, for James Nicoll, Mike Glyer, Michael J. Walsh, and Nick Mamatas: “Highlights included moderating the guest-of-honor interview with Tor publisher Tom Doherty (in which he revealed the facts that ebooks account for only $400,000 of Tor’s $100,000,000 annual gross sales, and that it now takes printing three mass-market paperbacks to sell one (it used to be that you only had to print two to get one to actually sell); and that SF (as opposed to fantasy) actually grew eight percent for Tor last year).”—Robert Sawyer’s website, 2005

 

Nick Mamatas in a comment to Sean Wallace on Facebook – April 28

Last year Tor grossed seven dollars, and killed and ate interns for food, and took out four mortgages on the Flatiron Building to get John Scalzi on the Dayton Daily News best-seller list for a single Thursday afternoon and in fact they are already bankrupt, out of business, and everyone has been fired and Tor exists only as one of those fannish in-jokes in the Hugo Awards, like Cordwainer Bird. Forever and ever, Amen.

 

[And finally, Sad Puppies meets Godwin’s Law.]

 

If You Were a Puppy, My Love 4/23

aka “Catch A Barking Star, Tell Me Where the Hugos Are” 

A combination of new voices speaking out and old hands breaking silence feature in today’s roundup. Cheryl Morgan, T. L. Knighton, Arthur Chenin, T. C. McCarthy, David Gerrold, Melinda Snodgrass, Vox Day and Chris Meadows are among those who chimed in. (And title credits go to File 770 consulting editors of the day, ULTRAGOTHA and Laura Resnick.)

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Puppygate – Winners and Losers” – April 23

Has fandom lost? Well obviously if VD and his pals win a bunch of Hugos then we will have done this year. But the final ballot hasn’t happened yet. I understand that Sasquan took an additional 1350 supporting memberships in the two days after the Hugo finalists were announced. I suspect that more memberships are still being bought. Sasquan is on course to be the first Worldcon ever to have more supporting memberships than attending, and probably the third largest Worldcon ever. Some people, I know, are convinced that all of those new members are VD loyalists who will vote as he directs. Personally I’m not so sure.

It’s not just those 1350 or so new members (presumably all voters) that we need to think about either. Given the way that nominating eligibility works (members of last year, this year and next year’s Worldcon), there must have been at least 12,000 people eligible to nominate. Only 2,122 people actually did so. And in the Puppy-dominated short fiction categories the largest number of nominating ballots was 1,174.

What would have happened if all 12,000 eligible WSFS members had cast nominating ballots? Well in Novel, where there were 1,827 ballots cast, three non-Puppy works became finalists.

It is certainly true that a small number of people voting for a slate has far more influence on the nominating ballot than a larger number of people voting independently. But there is a limit. With enough people voting, even a slate becomes less effective.

So my first point is this: VD didn’t win the Hugos, we (collectively) gave them to him by failing to use our votes. Obviously there are good reasons why people don’t participate even though they have the right to do so, but if we want to fix the Puppy problem one of our main priorities ought to be to increase the level of participation in Hugo voting. I do, as you might expect, have ideas about how to do that, which I’ll address in a later post. For now, however, fannish outrage at Puppygate is doing a fine job of encouraging people to vote.

My second point, of course, is that if enough of us vote in the final ballot then he won’t win that either.

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Behold, the Gavel of WSFS” – April 23

LoneStarCon 3 agreed when I asked to fund the purchase of a new one, and a few days ago I finally got around to ordering it

Gavel of WSFS ph K Standlee

 

T. L. Knighton

“Anti-Hugo Shenanigans” – April 23

Many of the Sad Puppies crowd is well aware that things are getting ugly.  The CHORFs, as we well know, seek to do nothing but destroy their enemies with whatever tools they can manage.  One of those tools are negative reviews on Amazon.

But, the question is, how on Earth can you tell someone didn’t read the works versus just didn’t like them?  Well, let me paint you a picture.

 

Arthur Chenin on In Which I Geek

“Don’t be a sad puppy about the Sad Puppies” – April 23

Where Chris [Garcia, on Nedvana Podcast] and I disagree is in how much damage has been done.  He thinks the Hugos are irreparably damaged whereas I think they just got an embarrassing black eye.  He thinks that the Hugo administrators failed in not disallowing the Sad/Rabid Puppy slate nomination ballots.  I agree with Kevin [Standlee] that the Hugos have rules for a reason and that we need to work within those rules or else we truly are the controlling clique the Puppies claim we are.

So how do I see things playing out?

Two things are going to happen this year at Sasquan.  First, there is going to be the World Science Fiction Society business meeting chaired by Kevin Standlee that will address the issue of changing the rules to prevent slating from occurring.  I don’t know what those exact changes are going to be but like Kevin  I hope they go for something simple like instituting a 3/6 or 4/8 rule [1].  The other is that we will know who, if anybody, won any awards.  Vox Day actually did something miraculous by inflicting his slate on the short list, he managed to unite fandom a task akin to herding cats.  I fully expect No Award to win most, if not all, the slated categories.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “Didn’t Vox Day threaten to burn down the Hugos if No Award wins any of the writing or editing categories?”  Yes, he did and I fully expect him to try.

 

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“Speaking on Hugos and Sad Puppies” – April 23

Goats and sheep are not latrine animals. They go wherever. And they don’t care after that. So their pens? They pooped everywhere.

I apologize for those of you who might be off-put by the discussion of so much poop. It isn’t going to get rosier from here, though.

Anyway, these little guys could poop like nobodies business. And they would fill the bottoms of their pens with it. And I’m not exaggerating there. The bottoms of their pens were packed down straw, dirt, and poop. Hard as rock, slightly smelly … and oh, after a few months, a foot or so thick. That’s right, you could walk up to the side of these pens and look at the side railings. A foot thick or more of compact manure. It didn’t bother them. It was dry and mixed with straw leftovers. And they were only in their pens a few hours a day anyway. But it had to be shoveled (well, forked with a pitchfork, since it didn’t cut easily under a shovel blade) every few months because it would get high enough that eventually they would be able to jump out of their pens.

And guess who had to do that? Yup. Me. I was a manure shoveler from the moment my parents decided I was old enough to shovel. Sometimes it went to straight to the garden. Other times it went to one giant compost pile or another. I’m talking emptying piles of poop ten by ten by two feet … and doing six of them. That’s a lot of poop….

So, what’s the point of me telling you this? Pretty simple: I’ve shoveled my fair share of crap. I’ve experienced it on a daily basis. I’ve shoveled, and shoveled and shoveled. And you know what I’ve learned about it?

There are times when it’s worth it to shovel crap, and there are times when it isn’t. And dealing with the endless, recycled crap that the anti-sad puppies crowd continues to spout? Not worth my time.

Look, I’ll admit that no one is flawless. And the Sad Puppies clearly swept the Hugos, much to their surprise. As a result, SP4 will probably be even more interesting to follow. But when it comes down to looking at one side or the other, I’m on the side of the Sad Puppies here, because I know crap, and there’s so much of it coming from the anti-sad puppies side it’s not just filling the pen, it’s burying the occupants, the producers, and their allies.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Tananarive Due and I have now gone through two meetings and three drafts of the proposed Hugo Award Ceremony script.

Every draft has been passed before the Hugo Award administrators, the senior officers of the Con Committee, and several others whose advice is needed. Notes have been passed back and forth. Adjustments and tweaks have been made.

But here’s the important part. Here’s the part I want to stress: From the very beginning, the commitment has been to recognize that the Hugo Award Ceremony is the highlight of the fannish calendar. It is a celebration of the genre, it is a celebration of the community, it is most of all a celebration of the nominees. The evening is for them — it is to honor them as standard bearers for excellence in the field.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Okay, @Karl J. Martin. Here’s the challenge. If you can raise $25,000 to be split between the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund and The Orangutan Foundation, I will host the Hugos in a large purple dress. With shoes to match.

Go for it.

 

T. C. McCarthy

“How I Spent Easter: Tweeting #HugoGate #GamerGate #Sadpuppies #Hugoawards” – April 6

The 2015 announcement of the Hugo nominees was met with so much asshattery that I broke my 4 years of silence on the issue, and tweeted/posted all my thoughts regarding the left side – the establishment side – of the SFF community. I documented the entire weekend on video so you could see the rage in my eyes, the anger in my face, and what I look like when I don’t shower. Click above on my facebook and twitter links to read about all the drama…

(Don’t be expecting another ShayCarl here is all I have to say.)

 

Melinda Snodgrass

“Puppies! – My Two Cents” – April 23

Science fiction is now a world wide source of entertainment from our movies to our TV shows.  Shouldn’t our prose also try to reflect this wonderful kaleidoscope of human diversity?  In fact prose is probably the best place to present this fascinating dance of differing outlooks and beliefs, to speak to and hear from people who aren’t just like us.

I think it deepens and enriches our genre when we have women, and people of color and the LGBT community, and different religions or no religions discussed and explored.

Over the years I’ve had people ask “what do you do?” and when I tell them I’m a writer their initial reaction is “oh cool”.  Then they ask what I write and when I say science fiction the reaction becomes “Oh, that’s kid stuff.  I don’t read science fiction.”  By broadening our field to include this rich symphony of different voices I think science fiction has graduated from being that “Buck Rogers, kid stuff” into a genre which is perfectly positioned to discuss big issues and the deepest human motivations in really interesting ways.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for some good old fashioned buckle and swash, but that shouldn’t be the entirety of our field.  Let’s not eat just vanilla ice cream or sing one kind of song.  Let’s explore all of the wonder that the minds of humans can imagine.  I see no evidence that the buckle and swash is being forced out in favor of a more diverse fiction.  The pie is getting bigger not smaller.  More books are being published.  More voices are being heard.  Today readers have an expansive feast to be enjoyed.

What I’m trying to say is none of us should be afraid.  It’s a small blue dot and because of advances in technology we have the ability to hug each other close and face the void united in our humanity and celebrating our differences.

 

Laura Resnick in a comment to Melinda Snodgrass – April 23

Actually, I have decided I am totally on board with 100% RELIABLE & COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGING as a standard for book covers. I think this is a great idea!

Yes! I advocate packaging of books to warn me that the female characters in a novel are all coat-holding carboard cutouts and the male characters address them as “cupcake” and “baby doll” and “cutie.” Packaging that would warn me that the writing is so convoluted and pretentious, or so clumsy and tepid, one can only wonder at what the English language ever did to make the author hate it so much. Packaging that would alert me that the characters are all stereotypically tedious action heroes who shoot everything in sight and make “clever” puns after killing someone. Packaging could warn me that every black character in the book is a servant, every Hispanic person a criminal, every woman a sex object, and every atheist an Evil Marxist Villain.

This would be a GREAT system, and I fully support it!

 

 Vox Day on Vox Populi

“A Thing to Remember” – April 23

In any event, I stand with the Dread Ilk. I stand with the Rabid Puppies. I stand with the Evil Legion of Evil. And I stand with #GamerGate. We don’t reject anyone out of hand for simply existing or disagreeing with us. We don’t demand that people think exactly the way we do, we don’t expect them to march in lockstep with us, nor do we police their thoughts, speech, beliefs, or works. And we don’t need anyone. If you don’t like where things are going or how they are being done, you’re free to leave at anytime.

I supported the Sad Puppies goals, even though I believed that their failure to grasp the true nature of science fiction’s SJWs meant their well-intentioned attempts to reach out to the science fiction left and find common ground were likely to meet with eventual failure. But I have been wrong before, and so I saw no harm in the attempt. I did not use them. I did not need them. I

won’t abandon the Sad Puppies. I will support Sad Puppies 4 and Kate the Impaler. I won’t disavow them when I disagree with them in the future, just as I did not when I disagreed with them in the past.

Evil-Legion-of-Evil_Vile-Faceless-Minion_512x512 from Vox Popoli

Chris Meadows on Teleread

“Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now”  – April 23

The Internet Breaks the Hugos

Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No, the same thing happened to it that happened to so many other processes and industries that had long been taken for granted. The Internet happened…..

So, here we have the Hugo Awards, adapting their voting process to the Internet by making it possible for associate members to enter ballots by web instead of just mailing them in as before, without taking into account that the Internet makes it possible to organize concerted campaigns by letting people post communications to everyone else on the Internet. Something like this was inevitable. Perhaps the only thing to be surprised about is that it didn’t happen sooner. (And, given that this is the third year in a row there has been Puppy activity, and it takes two years to implement Hugo rule changes, perhaps the Worldcon folks should have started considering this problem a little earlier, before it became the full-blown crisis that it is this year.)

And this could be only the beginning. When I was chatting with SF and romance novelist Mercedes Lackey the other day, she made this prediction:

I cannot WAIT until someone lets the Romance Writers know about this, and how to get a book on the Hugo ballot.

Romance readers outnumber SF readers by about 100 to one, and a very high percentage of them would be gleeful to only pay $40 to get one of their beloved writers an award.

Romance writers are extremely savvy women about energizing their fan bases. They were using social media for that long before SF writers started.

I want to see their faces when Diane Gabaldon takes the Hugo in 2016.

 

 

 

SFWA Joins Strange Bedfellows
Against Google Settlement

The September 4 deadline has passed for authors to decide whether to opt out of the controversial Google Book Search settlement, but the debate continues. As William Skidelsky in the Observer says about the related Google Books Library Project:

In broad terms, [the] opponents have levelled two sets of criticisms at Google.

First, they have questioned whether the primary responsibility for digitally archiving the world’s books should be allowed to fall to a commercial company. In a recent essay in the New York Review of Books, Robert Darnton, the head of Harvard University’s library, argued that because such books are a common resource – the possession of us all – only public, not-for-profit bodies should be given the power to control them.

The second, related criticism is that Google’s scanning of books is actually illegal. This allegation has led to Google becoming mired in a legal battle whose scope and complexity makes the Jarndyce and Jarndyce case in Bleak House look straightforward.

The article notes that Google’s efforts will make a great many out-of-print books accessible to by the public, and that many authors found the terms of the Google Book Search settlement to be fair:.

James Gleick, an American science writer and member of the Authors Guild, broadly agrees. He says that, although Google’s initial scanning of in-copyright books made him uncomfortable, the settlement itself is a fair deal for authors.

“The thing that needs to be emphasised is that this so-called market over which Google is being given dominance – the market in out-of-print books – doesn’t currently exist. That’s why they’re out of print. In real life, I can’t see what the damage is – it’s only good.”

Google, of course, is not only scanning books for which copyright has expired, it also is scanning copyrighted work (where the author or heirs hold the rights). Google displays excerpts of the copyrighted works, arguing that constitutes “fair use” of the text and is within the law. The fact remains, Google has not obtained permission to copy the entire work.

The Science Fiction Writers of America issued a press release in August listing its objections to the settlement, among them:

  • The proposed Google Book Settlement potentially creates a monopoly by granting Google excessive power to control the market for out-of-print books that are offered to the general public.
  • The “opt-out” mechanism proposed for the settlement contradicts the very foundation of copyright.

By settling, Google never fully addressed and litigated the issue of copyright infringement/fair use, which was at the heart of the 2005 lawsuit brought forth by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. The settlement further obfuscates the issue of how Google’s scans and publication of the snippets should be treated under U.S. copyright law.

And just a few days ago SFWA announced it has joined the Open Book Alliance, whose mission statement explains:

The Open Book Alliance will counter Google, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors’ Guild’s scheme to monopolize the access, distribution and pricing of the largest digital database of books in the world.  To this end, we will promote fair and flexible solutions aimed at achieving a more robust and open system.

Other members of the Open Book Alliance are:

  • Amazon (amazon.com)
  • American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org)
  • Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (clmp.org)
  • Internet Archive (archive.org)
  • Microsoft (microsoft.com)
  • New York Library Association (nyla.org)
  • Small Press Distribution (spdbooks.org)
  • Special Libraries Association (sla.org)
  • Yahoo.com

The controversy surrounding the Google Book Settlement has produced some strange political bedfellows, as Laura Resnick phrases it. SFWA now is allied with mega-book-dealer Amazon.com and not-particularly-warm-and-fuzzy Microsoft Corporation.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the link.]