Pixel Scroll 2/1/16 By the Pixels of Babylon, I Scrolled, For I Remembered Filing

(1) PRELIMINARY PUPPIES. Vox Day issued his first “preliminary recommendations” today: “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best New Writer” (Preliminary, since he may change them based on feedback about eligibility, or for other reasons.)

To kick things off, we’ll begin with the Campbell Award: Best New Writer category:

  • Pierce Brown
  • Cheah Kai Wai
  • Sebastien de Castell
  • Marc Miller
  • Andy Weir

There was a noteworthy exchange in the comments.

[Phil Sandifer] Just for the record, Vox, the only reason Andy Weir wasn’t on the ballot last year was the Puppies. Without you, the Campbell nominees last year would have been Chu, Weir, Alyssa Wong, Carmen Maria Marchado, and Django Wexler.

[VD] Oh, Phil, you’re always so careless. That is not the only reason. It is a reason. Had you SJWs favored Weir over Chu, he would have also been on the ballot.

In any event, since you all are such champions of Weir, I’m glad we will all be able to join forces and get him nominated.

(2) GRRM REQUESTS. After announcing that the Locus Recommended Reading List is online, George R.R. Martin explicitly said

Just for the record, before the issue is raised, let me state loudly and definitively that I do not want any of my work to be part of anyone’s slate, this year or any year. But I do feel, as I have said before, that a recommended reading list and a slate are two entirely different animals.

— an announcement whose timing may be more relevant today than it would have been yesterday.

(3) LOCUS SURVEY. You can now take the Locus Poll and Survey at Locus Online. Anyone can vote; Locus subscriber votes count double. Voting closes April 15.

Here is the online version of the 46th annual Locus Awards ballot, covering works that appeared in 2015.

In each category, you may vote for up to five works or nominees, ranking them 1 (first place) through 5 (fifth).

As always, we have seeded the ballot with options based on our 2015 Recommended Reading List [this link will open a new window], mainly because this greatly facilitates tallying of results. However, again as always, you are welcome to use the write-in boxes to vote for other titles and nominees in any category. If you do, please try to supply author, title, and place of publication, in a format like the options listed, where appropriate.

Do not vote for more than one item in a category at the same rank (e.g. two selections ranked 1st); if you do, we will disregard your votes in that category.

File 770 is seeded in the Best Magazine or Fanzine category and would cherish your fifth place votes. Or twenty-fifth, for that matter – the competition is formidable.

(4) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. And perhaps this is the right place to admire John Scalzi’s Whatever post title: “The End of All Things on the 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List”.

(5) STATISTICS. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon began the month of February by “Checking Back in with the SFWA Recommended Reading List”. He prepared a change table and interpreted the rising fortunes of various novels, beginning with the greatest uptick —

What does this tell us? That Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk has emerged as a major Nebula contender, despite being lightly read (as of January 30th, this only has 93 ratings on Goodreads, 31 on Amazon, much much lower than other Nebula/Hugo contenders). That’s due in part to Schoen’s late publication date: the novel came out on December 29, 2015. That’s a tough time to come out, as you get lost in the post-Christmas malaise. A Nebula nomination would drive a lot of attention to this book. Schoen now seems like a very good bet for the Nebula, particularly when we factor in that he received Nebula nominations in the Best Novella category in 2013, 2014, and 2015. There’s clearly a subset of Nebula voters that really like Schoen’s work; a Best Novel nomination might be a spark that gets him more read by the rest of us.

(6) CONGRATULATIONS SCOTT EDELMAN. He did it! Scott Edelman celebrates a special sale in “Never give up, never surrender: My 44-year question to sell a short story to Analog”.

I’ve lost track of how many submissions I made to Analog during the intervening years, first to Ben Bova, then Stan Schmidt (for more than three decades!), and now Trevor Quachri. Were there 25 short stories? Fifty? It’s probably been more than that, but I don’t know for sure. And it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is—in the face of rejection, I kept writing.

What matters is—in the face of rejection, I kept submitting.

What matters is—I never took it personally. I knew that I wasn’t the one being rejected—it was only the words on the page that weren’t the right match.

(7) WILL EISNER AUCTION. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is auctioning books from Will Eisner’s personal collection.

Will Eisner wasn’t just the godfather of comics, a creative force who changed the face of modern comics — he was also a staunch advocate for the freedom of expression. In celebration of Eisner’s indomitable talent and advocacy, CBLDF is delighted to offer up for auction books from Eisner’s own personal collection!

All books in this collection come from the late, great Will Eisner’s personal library. The books from this collection are bookplated with Eisner’s own personalized bookplate, featuring his most famous creation, The Spirit. Most of the books in this collection are signed and personalized to the master himself by creators whom Eisner inspired over his illustrious 70-year career

The items are on eBay. The CBLDF’s post has all the links to the various lots.

(8) FAN ART AT RSR. I see that with help from eFanzines’ Bill Burns, Rocket Stack Rank terrifically upgraded its “2016 Fan Artists” content. Gregory N. Hullender explains.

With the help of Bill Burns, we’ve updated the Best Fan Artist page at RSR to include cover art from eFanzines (plus a few that Bill scanned by hand). This doubled the number of artists and tripled the number of images, making it comparable to the Pro Artist page.

(9) INCONCEIVABLE. Japan’s huge convention Comic Market, aka Comiket, which draws half a million fans (in aggregate over three days) expects to be bumped from its facilities in 2020. What could bump an event that big? The Olympics. Anime News Network reports —

Tokyo Big Sight, the convention center where Comiket is usually held, announced earlier that it would not be able to hold the convention between April 2019 and October 2020. Event spaces have been closing throughout the Tokyo area for the past decade. Tokyo Big Sight has also announced that industry booths at this summer’s Comiket would close after two days (instead of the usual three) to accommodate construction work to expand the building for the upcoming Olympics.

(10) TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE CANON. We might call this a contrarian view.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 1, 2003 – Space shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • February 1, 1954 – Bill Mumy, soon to be seen in Space Command.

(13) WOODEN STARSHIP. A Washington Post article about the renovation of the original Starship Enterprise model reveals it was mostly made from big pieces of wood. When ready, the Enterprise will be displayed in a slightly more prestigious spot .

Collum said the model had long hung in the gift shop of the Air and Space Museum on the Mall. Now it is headed for the renovated Milestones of Flight Hall there.

“The historical relevance of the TV show, and this model, has grown,” he said. “So it’s now being brought up into the limelight, and it’s going to be in the same gallery as the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ [and] the Apollo 11 command module.”

(14) HOW GAMES INSPIRE ENGAGING FICTION. N. K. Jemisin in “Gaming as connection: Thank you, stranger” talks about the aspect of game play that challenges her as a writer. (Beware spoilers about the game Journey.)

I see a lot of discussion about whether games are art. For me, there’s no point in discussing the matter, because this isn’t the first time I’ve had such a powerful emotional experience while gaming. That’s why I’m still a gamer, and will probably keep playing ’til I die. This is what art does: it moves you. Maybe it makes you angry, okay. Maybe it makes you laugh. Not all of it is good, but so what? There’s a lot of incredibly shitty art everywhere in the world. But the good art? That’s the stuff that has power, because you give it power. The stuff that lingers with you, days or years later, and changes you in small unexpected ways. The stuff that keeps you thinking. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to recreate that game experience with my fiction.

(15) SF IN CHINA. Shaoyan Hu discusses“The Changing Horizon: A Brief Summary of Chinese SF in Year 2015”  at Amazing Stories. Quite an impressive roundup.

Fandoms

There were more than 70 college SF clubs in China in year 2015. Compared to 120 clubs in 2012, the number was reduced. However, two independent fandoms, Future Affairs Administration in Beijing and SF AppleCore in Shanghai, were still very active.

SF AppleCore is the most important fandom in Eastern China. Last year, in addition to orchestrating the annual Shanghai Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, SF AppleCore continued to operate on a regular base to bring about the public SF events such as AppleCore Party (speeches and gatherings of fans) and AppleCore Reading Group.

Future Affairs Administration was the backbone behind the 2016 Worldcon bid for Beijing. Although the bid was not successful, they organized the Chinese Nebula Award ceremony in 2014. Last year, this fandom was consolidated into a media platform for SF and technology related information, although the function for fan events still remained.

(16) WORLDS OF LE GUIN. The Kickstarter fundraising appeal for Arwen Curry’s documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin has begun. So far, 514 backers have pledged $39,699 of the $80,000 goal. The SFWA Blog endorsed it today:

Viewers will accompany Le Guin on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. To tell this story, the film reaches into the past as well as the future – to a childhood steeped in the myths and stories of disappeared Native peoples she heard as the daughter of prominent 19th century anthropologist Alfred Kroeber.

Le Guin’s story allows audiences to reflect on science fiction’s unique role in American culture, as a conduit for our utopian dreams, apocalyptic fears, and tempestuous romance with technology. Le Guin, by elevating science fiction from mind candy to serious speculation, has given permission to younger mainstream writers like Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and Jonathan Lethem to explore fantastic elements in their work.

(17) CGI OVERDOSE? At Yahoo! News, “These ‘Star Wars’ Blooper Reels Show Exactly Why the Prequels Failed”.

The blooper reels for the Star Wars prequel films have been available for a while, but there’s a noticeable trend with all of them. Nearly every blooper — genuinely funny or otherwise — is filmed within a green screen backdrop.

 

[Thanks to Janice Gelb, JJ, Petrea Mitchell, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Gregory N. Hullender.]

2016 Locus Recommended Reading List Published

The 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List from the magazine’s February issue has been posted at Locus Online.

The list is a consensus by Locus editors and reviewers, and others: Liza Groen Trombi, Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, Faren Miller, Russell Letson, Graham Sleight, Adrienne Martini, Carolyn Cushman, Tim Pratt, Karen Burnham, Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Cheryl Morgan, Paul Kincaid, Ysabeau Wilce, Liz Bourke, Colleen Mondor, and James Bradley.

Short fiction selections are assembled from material from Laird Barron, K. Tempest Bradford, Karen Burnham, Neil Clarke, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Rich Horton, Brit Mandelo, Faren Miller, Nisi Shawl, Jonathan Strahan, Lois Tilton, and Gary K. Wolfe.

On the list are —

  • 28 SF novels, 22 fantasy novels, 19 YA books, 13 first novels;
  • 27 collections, 12 original anthologies, 11 reprint anthologies;
  • 7 nonfiction books, 18 art books;
  • 18 novellas
  • 32 novelettes
  • 66 short stories

Three self-published works made the list: two art books, and Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Baen Books broke into the Locus Recommended list this year with John Joseph Adams’ original anthology Operation Arcana, ending a drought going back years (the publisher had no books on Locus’ 2014 or 2013 lists.)

Those sifting the omens to learn whether Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen will be Hugo-eligible in the year determined by its available-for-purchase 2015 e-ARC or its February 2016 publication date can ponder what it means that the book does not appear on the Locus list.

Lois Tilton Leaves Locus Online

Lois Tilton will no longer be reviewing for Locus Online she told readers of SFF.Net Webnews today.

I wish to announce that, after 205 columns, I’ve resigned as reviewer of short fiction for Locus Online. Without consulting or informing me, they had begun deleting material they considered negative from my reviews. To me, this is censorship and completely unacceptable. If a publication includes stories of no merit or interest, this is something a review should mention.

I had also begun to have misgivings about participating in the selection of the Locus Recommended Reading List, because of the possibility of conflict of interest.

So publishers with material for review will have to find another venue. Don’t send it to me.

Since it’s actually not likely that too many publishers will be reading here, passing on this announcement to relevant outlets would be helpful.

Before joining Locus Online, Tilton reviewed short fiction for the Internet Review of Science Fiction. She said in a 2012 interview:

In my first column at IROSF, I wrote as my manifesto: “I consider that my mandate is to the readers, not the authors or editors of the stories I review. I have no one else to please and no one else’s opinion concerns me, save that of the editors of IROSF.” This still holds true, mutatis mutandis, with Locus. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t keep doing reviews. When I reached the age of curmudgeonhood I decided that the rest of life is too short to let other people tell me what I can and can’t say.

Pixel Scroll 12/13 Twenty Thousand Links Under the Sea

(1) MOVIE MEME. Mari Ness’ contribution brought the #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly meme to my attention…

Some others –

(2) THINGS TO DO. Mary Robinette Kowal, who uses Habitica as a productivity tool, invites others get the benefit by participating in her guild, “Ink Slingers”

For science-fiction and fantasy writers and editors who are actively working in the field and trying to improve craft. But who also need peer pressure to be productive.

We have some challenges with habits and dailies that you might find helpful.

The way Habitica works is that you break the things you ought to be doing into three types of things.

  1. Habits: which are things you ought to do, but not necessarily on a regular basis. Like “3 minute stretch break.”
  2. Dailies: which you do regularly. Like “Write three sentences.”
  3. To-Dos: which are one time things. Like “Complete revisions for episode 2.”

To use it, you need to create a Habitica account first, then join Ink Slingers.

(3) WENDIG. Locus Online has an excerpt of its interview with Chuck Wendig.

“We’re either moving toward evolution or the ruination of humanity. There’s an angel and a devil. Both of those are manifest in every single technical jump we make. Which one of these do we bet on? Are we going to destroy ourselves with technology, with a nuclear bomb? Or are we going to get nuclear energy? Even a knife can be used to feed my family, or to kill you and take your food. Even the simplest, tiniest technology has a massive polarizing effect on humanity.”

(4) MAXAM PASSES AWAY. SF Site News reports Bay Area fan Felice Maxam died December 1. Maxam, then Felice Rolfe, participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism from the beginning. She was present at its first Tournament in 1966. She also belonged to the Peninsula SF Association in those days. Co-editor of Niekas with Ed Meskys, she was nominated for two Hugo Awards, and won the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1967.

(5) FUTURE OF EASTERCON. Caroline Mullan is publicizing the Future of Eastercon questionnaire one more time. By Novacon, 207 responses had come in. Another 40 have been submitted since. “We’re mailing round to see if there is anyone else out there who would still like to fill it in before we have another go over the responses,” she says.

The Eastercon Options website has been busy over the last month — here are some of the most interesting posts.

Questionnaire Press Release

A questionnaire was open on the website during October 2015. We had 207 responses, about half from people who do not usually attend Eastercon bidding sessions…. https://eastercon.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/novacon-presentation.pdf

What are the issues?

At the Novacon presentation, someone in the audience asked for a general restatement of what problems we’re trying to solve here. We have a number of problems, some more significant than others, some are not problems at the moment but may well become so. It’s fairly obvious from the results of the questionnaire, that we also have a whole bunch of problems that we didn’t really consider to be problems at all, until we started asking questions….

Communication

Fans are often bad about communication. We tend to be rubbish about talking to other people, and even worse about understanding them when they talk back. That’s a bit strange for a subculture that is largely based around forms of communication, from letters to fanzines to films to blogs to conversations and panels at conventions. Historically though, the record of fans communicating, misunderstanding each other, followed by “all Fandom plunged into war” is pretty consistent. So it’s no surprise that here we are in 2015 and the results from our questionnaire show that we’re still doing a lousy job. I’d like to understand why, though the folly of doing this through the act of communicating via yet another written medium has not escaped me….

(6) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born December 13, 1925 – Dick Van Dyke

Fans help Dick Van Dyke kick-off his birthday weekend celebration with a flash mob at The Grove in Los Angeles on December 12, 2015.

(7) SITH STATUARY. The BBC profile “The Man Who Turned Lenin Into Darth Vader” tells about Ukranian sculptor Alexander Milov, who got the Odessa city council to allow him to turn a Lenin statue they were threatening to melt down into a Darth Vader statue. It even has free Wi-Fi!

To create his new sculpture, Milov strengthened the original structure and added a helmet and cape made out of titanium alloy – he also inserted a Wi-Fi router in Vader’s head. Despite the statue’s apparent glibness, it serves as a reminder that we can’t control which memories last and which don’t. “I wanted to make a symbol of American pop culture which appears to be more durable than the Soviet ideal.”

(8) COOKING FOR WHO. Chris-Rachael Oseland, author of Dining with the Doctor (recipes inspired by Doctor Who), is interviewed by Salon in “Geek food for the geek soul: ‘As society gets increasingly secular, we need to fill the social void’”.

Oseland will bring out a second edition of her Dr. Who book next year, as well as “Geek Breads,” which includes the “Dune” recipe. If you’ve seen the image of a “Dune” sandworm made of bread that went viral last week, that’s her work….

So it came out of your interest in history, more than fiction or something?

Yes – and I think that’s reflected in most of my cookbooks. “An Unexpected Cookbook,” my hobbit one, is a straight-up history cookbook: It’s all recipes from Tolkien’s childhood in the 1890s.

I’m doing the same thing with my Dr. Who cookbook – anytime where they go back in history, it’s an excuse for me to tuck in a few historical facts… I feel this obligation to make sure I’m historically accurate with these things.

(9) SENSE OF HISTORY. Adam-Troy Castro read Castalia House’s first two blog posts about pedophilia in sf and he challenges the relevance of its entry about David Asimov.

(10) SOUND FOOTING. Star Wars socks from Stance.

Starwars-bg-top-hero-sm

(11) OUT OF THE BOX. This Saturday Night Live faux commercial spoofs toy collecting nerds.

(12) RUCKER RECOMMENDS. Rudy Rucker’s book picks for 2015 ends with four books from this year (the others date earlier). His enthusiasm is contagious, so brace your TBR pile for incoming….!

(10) Paul Di Filippo, A Palazzo in Space. 2015. Paul Di Filippo writes SF stories, a lot of them, and he’s had a zillion collections come out. I collaborate with him on stories sometimes, so I’m very sensitive to the pleasures of his style. He has this jovial voice and an extreme love of words, with a real knack for SF neologisms. Like one of his stories communication devices is said to be “uebertoothed.” And there’s a gang of reality hackers called Los Braceros Ultimos. In one of his stories, “Pocketful of Faces,” he gets into an insane riff about people switching their faces, storylet after storylet, topping himself over and over—its’ like watching some mad juggler. And in the denouement, someone is wearing a fake face on top of a fake face on top of their real face, and who even knows why, but it just has to happen. And the doubly buried faces is like a pale grubworm inside a rotten log. Great stuff. Write on, celestial scribe!

(11) ONE LORD A-LEAPING. Legend of Tarzan official teaser trailer.

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

April Fails Day

Mark R. Kelly notified his Facebook readers around noon today, “Locus Online’s traditional April 1st spoofs, this year by Hal Graftswey, Paoli du Flippi, and L. Ron Creepweans, are now posted.” Those who waited too long missed out — within three hours Kelly yanked the items in response to what he termed a “kerfuffle” and posted this apology:

We would like to offer our apology for the offensive April Fool’s post that was published on the site today. The April Fool’s pieces were not seen by the Locus HQ staff before being posted — it was an ugly moment this morning when we saw the post already online, and we immediately took steps to remove it. Of course, being after the fact, it was too late, and the offense had already happened.

We did not find the post funny at all, and it does not reflect in any way the opinions of the magazine staff. We apologize for it appearing under our auspices.

The offending article was “WisCon Makes Burqas Mandatory for All Attendees” by L. Ron Creepweans. The Creepweans pseudonym is also part of the Locus April 1st tradition but after Kelly deleted the piece Lawrence Person revealed himself as the author.  

Person also posted an archival copy on his BattleSwarm blog. It begins:

Today the SF3 ruling committee for the Madison, Wisconsin-based feminist SF convention WisCon announced that starting this year, all attendees would be required to wear burqas.

Person has been contributing April 1st gags to Locus Online since 2002. He explained why he selected WisCon as the target of this year’s satire:

For those tuning in for the first time, this was a direct jab (in humorous form) at WisCon’s previous decision to yank their Guest-of-Honor invitation to Elizabeth Moon for daring to voice (in the mildest possible form) politically incorrect thoughts about certain aspects of modern Islam.

Meanwhile, commenters at Locus Online responded to its apology by continuing to berate the staff and demanding assurances against future offenses. Mark R. Kelly was provoked into ending the April Fool’s tradition:

I always thought that SF/F readers were more tolerant, less apt to take offense, than other folks; but apparently not. (Death threats!). So, no more April 1st spoofs ever.

Out of the Amazon

Locus Online was one of the casualties when Amazon cut ties to its California affiliates to avoid having to comply with changes in the state’s sales tax collection laws.

Mark R. Kelly explains the conflict on his blog. He also satisfies fans’ curiosity about how much it’s worth for a big portal like Locus Online to be an affiliate:

These commissions are typically $200-300 a month. Nothing like living wages, but enough to cover my personal book expenses, in most months.

Kelly ends by musing about ways to get back on the gravy train.

One solution would be to move to a new state. Or rehost the website’s affiliation in some other state, somehow. Hmm.

Is there such a thing as a Swiss internet account?

Light 10 Candles for Locus Index to SF Awards

Here’s an awfully good question. Mark R. Kelly of Locus Online wonders why there isn’t any link from the Hugo Awards or Nebula Awards site to his database The Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards (which just celebrated its tenth birthday).

…I can’t help but noticing that the Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards is seldom linked from other sites. It doesn’t seem to have much of a profile, or presence. I visit both the Hugo Awards site and the Nebula Awards site, for example, and notice, most obviously, that neither site has indexes to nominees; there is no way I can look up Connie Willis, or Neil Gaiman, and find out how many nominations or wins they have for those respective awards. You would have to search through the annual listings and tabulate them manually. Whereas the Locus Index to etc. has had such nominee indexes for a decade now. One might think proprietors of those other sites might have noticed. Apparently not. (Yet they do link to a couple other SF awards sites, which similarly lack indexing.)

Certainly I owe a great big thank you to Kelly for his work. I frequently refer to the Locus Index to SF Awards when writing for this blog. It would make enormous sense for the fans behind the official Hugo Awards site to add a note advising everyone that this goldmine of information is available.

Kelly also asked readers whether the title of the database makes it seem likely to be just an index to the Locus Awards, thinking that might be a reason for its low profile. I’d say don’t blame the “brand name” if this excellent tool isn’t used as often as it deserves. Instead, ask “How often do bloggers actually bother researching the stuff they write about science fiction awards?”