Pixel Scroll 8/28/17 This Little Pixel Went To Market

(1) PROFESSOR JOSHI HEARD FROM AGAIN. Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi, who has repeatedly attacked World Fantasy Award board member Ellen Datlow since the board decided to replace the Lovecraft award statuette, recently climbed aboard his hobby horse to complain about Datlow being named a guest of a Lovecraft-themed convention

August 22, 2017 — NecronomiCon, R.I.P.

Once upon a time there was a convention devoted to H. P. Lovecraft named NecronomiCon Providence. It was run by a well-meaning but somewhat weak-willed individual (rather reminiscent of Edward Derby in “The Thing on the Doorstep”) named Niels Hobbs. The initial conventon of 2013 was a wondrous event that left all participants and attendees feeling good about the state of Lovecraft studies and of Lovecraft’s recognition in the wider literary community. The convention of 2015 was generally successful but had some awkward moments.

By the time the 2017 convention was in the planning stages, trouble was brewing. Specifically, it appeared that Mr. Hobbs had been captured (and, indeed, rather willingly) by the forces of political correctness, so that the focus became less on Lovecraft himself and more on those aspects of weird fiction that those horrible dead white males had evilly suppressed. (It is not entirely clear how this suppression occurred, but let that pass.) And it also appeared that Mr. Hobbs had been swayed by various forces hostile to Lovecraft in the initial stages of programming.

Consider the naming of the redoubtable Ellen Datlow as a special guest. Now it is well known—and Mr. Hobbs should certainly have known it—that Ms. Datlow was instrumental in removing the Lovecraft bust as the emblem of the World Fantasy Awards, an act that would strike any fair-minded person as one that denotes a certain animus against the dreamer from Providence….

…There must be something wrong with a Lovecraft convention that has alienated the two figures—Robert M. Price and myself—who, over the past forty years, have done more to promote Lovecraft scholarship than any individuals on the planet. (I hardly need remark that, with the notable exception of Sam Gafford, no member of the NecronomiCon convention committee has made the slightest contribution to Lovecraft studies.)

And today he posted a roundabout defense of Lovecraft’s racism:

August 28, 2017 — Real and Fake Liberalism

I am a far-left liberal. Especially in the wake of the ongoing nightmare of the Trump administration, I have been speaking out loud and clear about the multifarious derelictions of conservatives and Republicans of all stripes…

What I do not do is launch furious attacks on H. P. Lovecraft for his racism. Of course he was a racist; everyone knows that. But I fail to see what good it does to attack him for this admitted failing at this late date. He has been dead for nearly three-quarters of a century; what is more, his views had no influence on the culture of his own time, or even on his small cadre of friends, colleagues, and correspondents. Indeed, it is telling that Frank Belknap Long, who met Lovecraft on an almost daily basis during his years in New York (1924–26) and frequently in later years, has testified that “during all of those talks on long walks through the streets of New York and Providence, I never once heard him utter a derogatory remark about any member of a minority group who passed him on the street or had occasion to engage him in conversation”—an inexplicable circumstance if one believes that Lovecraft was “obsessed” with the issue of race.

It is easy to condemn Lovecraft as a racist; it gives one a momentary feeling of self-righteous virtue and superiority. But it accomplishes nothing. It does nothing to combat the racism that we increasingly see in our midst today. If this is all you can do, you are indulging in fake liberalism…..

You can see the full text of all these posts by clicking the links. (Note: Joshi’s blog does not assign URLs to separate entries, they’re all under “News.”)

(2) DATLOW RESPONDS. Yesterday, Ellen Datlow went on Facebook and posted a rebuttal against Joshi’s effort to blame her for replacing Lovecraft on the award.

I loathe getting involved in mud-slinging so am posting this with some trepidation.

S.T. Joshi is apparently outraged at my being a GOH at Necronomicon and at my editing anthologies of Lovecraftian fiction. This is why -and I quote this from his blog:

“Now it is well known—and Mr. Hobbs should certainly have known it—that Ms. Datlow was instrumental in removing the Lovecraft bust as the emblem of the World Fantasy Awards, an act that would strike any fair-minded person as one that denotes a certain animus against the dreamer from Providence.”

Facts: I am one of the entire board of the World Fantasy Convention who made the decision to change the physical award from the bust of H.P. Lovecraft to a new physical image. The late David Hartwell brought the issue to the board and we unanimously agreed it was time to retire Gahan Wilson’s amazing (in my opinion) piece of art. I was no more instrumental than any other member of the board…..

(3) NOT EMPLOYEES. The class action lawsuit claiming that Magic: The Gathering judges should be classified as employees and retroactively paid was dismissed. “Judge tosses case brought by Magic: the Gathering judge who wants to be paid”Ars Technica has the story.

A federal judge in California has dismissed a proposed class-action labor lawsuit brought in late 2015 by a man who says that he has now worked for more than 20 years as a “judge” in Magic: the Gathering tournaments and demands to be paid.

In the court ruling, which was issued Wednesday, US District Judge Edward Davila sided with the defendant, Wizards of the Coast. The judge noted that, while Paul Yale’s years of experience to master all of the details of the popular card game and to become certified as a tournament arbiter takes time and extensive knowledge, “the complaint makes clear that Defendant’s program is purely voluntary and could be abandoned at any time.”

(4) AMA FOR JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin will guest on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything feature on August 30.

(5) UNEXPECTED FINDS. These science history documents at Harvard had been lost, then found, and now have been found again: “A team of women is unearthing the forgotten legacy of Harvard’s women ‘computers’”.

Between 1885 and 1927, the observatory employed about 80 women who studied glass plate photographs of the stars, many of whom made major discoveries. They found galaxies and nebulas and created methods to measure distance in space. In the late 1800s, they were famous: newspapers wrote about them and they published scientific papers under their own names, only to be virtually forgotten during the next century. But a recent discovery of thousands of pages of their calculations by a modern group of women working in the very same space has spurred new interest in their legacy.

Surrounded by steel cabinets stuffed with hundreds of thousands of plate glass photographs of the sky, curator Lindsay Smith Zrull shows off the best of the collection.

“I have initials but I have not yet identified whose initials these are,” Smith Zrull says, pointing at a paper-sized glass plate crowded with notes taken in four different colors. “One of these days, I’m going to figure out who M.E.M. is.”

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 28, 1845Scientific American first published.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS & GIRLS

  • Born August 28, 1899 – Cinematographer James Wong Howe. (A long-time friend of Ray Bradbury’s. His wife, Sanora Babb, was an original member of Ray’s writing group.)
  • Born August 28, 1916 – Jack Vance
  • Born August 28, 1917 – Jack Kirby
  • Born August 28, 1948 – Vonda McIntyre
  • Born August 28, 1951 – Barbara Hambly

(8) PIXAR EXHIBIT. The Science Behind Pixar is now open at the Science Museum of Minnesota and TELUS World of Science – Edmonton.

The Science Behind Pixar is a 13,000 square foot exhibition touring two copies — one nationally, and one internationally. It was created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. This website features some of the activities, videos, and images from the exhibition that describe the math, computer science, and science that go into making computer animated films.

 

(9) ILLUMINATING THOUGHT. Io9 contends The Defenders’ Best Storytelling Trick Doesn’t Use Any Words at All”.

There are a handful of ways that The Defenders openly nods to its comic book roots, like pairing up somewhat random characters like Karen and Trish for no reason other than to have scenes featuring them together or having certain people like Misty make uncharacteristic decisions just to drive the plot forward. Of all the comic book-y narrative and aesthetic conventions that are used, the one that stands out most strikingly is the show’s lighting and use of color.

(10) LEEPER FILM REVIEW. At SFCrowsnest, “Anti-Matter (aka Wormholes) (2017) : a film review by Mark R. Leeper”.

CAPSULE: Quantum teleportation may have side effects. This film is like a Whitman Sampler of cutting edge physics ideas packed into a Science Fiction mystery. ‘Anti-Matter’ is very much auteur Science Fiction. Newcomer Keir Burrows writes and directs based on his own story. This is a film that could well earn a cult following. There is little visual flash to the story but it is an accomplished technical mystery. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

(11) FORBIDDING PLANETS. Nerds of a Feather’s Vance K is a great admirer of the film made to capitalize on people’s love of Robby the Robot. His writeup, “Microreview [film]: The Invisible Boy”, includes a satirical reconstruction of the producer’s dialogue with screenwriter Cyril Hume.

PROD: Right. Listen, baby. This Forbidden Planet, it’s a humdinger. It’s doing gangbusters. We need a sequel, ready to shoot, right away.

CH: I told you a science fiction version of Shakespeare’s Tempest would work.

PROD: Whatever, whatever. This Shakespeare guy, friend of yours? If he’s got other ideas, great. But listen, we need another movie with Robby the Robot, right now. Like, yesterday. Something real…science fiction-y. For the, uh, for the geeks and stuff.

CH: Yeah, that’s great. Making a film on such a huge canvas was fantastic. We could explore other worlds…maybe on their way back to Earth…

PROD: You kidding me? No, they’re on Earth. Jesus, that fake planet cost me a fortune. And black-and-white. Color film was a nightmare. I chewed through three pillows in my sleep just from seeing the lab bills.

CH: So…a black-and-white sequel, on Earth, to a Technicolor space tragedy that takes place 300 years in the future?

PROD: On the nose, baby! And present-day. No space cities, or future science, or none of that. Just put the robot in it.

(12) DRONES ALOFT. Jess Miller goes through all the steps: “How to Fly a Drone – The Ultimate Guide”.

Whether it’s amateur racing or professional photography, drones can now do plenty of stuff. They can even move things from place to place.

If you’ve got one and you don’t know how to fly it yet, don’t despair – flying a drone isn’t rocket science.

It’s not exactly a walk in the park, either.

The thing is, with a little bit of determination and practice, you’ll soon get the hang of flying your drone.

We’re here to help you with that.

(13) AMERISPLAINING. Caroline Mersey feels Worldcon suffers in comparison with Nine Worlds: “A Tale of Two Cons: Nine Worlds 2017 and WorldCon 75”.

The panels themselves felt short – 45 minutes compared to the hour, hour and a quarter of Nine Worlds.  This meant they never really got beyond scratching the surface of a topic.  Panellists rarely got to speak more than twice during a discussion.  And some of them felt either poorly organised or poorly moderated – with panellists unsure why they had been selected for a particular panel, or with moderators taking a wildly different interpretation of the brief than appeared in the programme.

That sounds like I’m being harsh, and I guess I am.  But that didn’t stop it being an amazing event and an opportunity to meet and hear from people I don’t normally get to encounter in the UK.  But what really made the event was the awesome crowd of people I met and hung out with over the five days of the event, swapping ideas for panels and badge ribbons.

In two years’ time WorldCon will be in Dublin.  There’s a huge buzz about it already, and I’ve bought my membership.  I can feel in my water that it will be another big event.  Hopefully there will be a bit more sensitivity when it comes to some of the cultural issues (I can’t say I’m looking forward to having Irish history mansplained at me by Americans – I fear there will be some crashing insensitivity displayed, but it will at least highlight the difference between Irishness and the wholly separate identity of being Irish-American).

(14) ROCKET STACK RANK GOES TO THE WORLDCON. Greg Hullender posted his “WorldCon 75 Takeaways”.

Meeting People

Last year, at MidAmeriCon II, we gave away a lot of ribbons, but almost no one had ever heard of us. This year, almost half the people we spoke to at least had a vague idea who we were. A couple of authors told me that they knew who we were because whenever they searched on Google for the title of their stories, RSR’s review came up first, so our SEO strategy seems to be working. Because I had a bad cold the entire time, we didn’t do the Stroll with the Stars events nor did we attend any parties other than a brief appearance at the Hugo Losers’ Party, opting to go home early and sleep. We did attend the File770 events, and enjoyed meeting people we’d only ever seen online.

Greg has solid, more detailed analysis of several business meeting and program items that interested him.

(15) WITH BOOKMONSTER. Selenay tells “What I did on my vacation: Worldcon edition”.

Worldcons aren’t for everyone, but I’ve loved both the ones I’ve been to. Spending several days talking about nerd stuff, seeing other people get excited about the same things I am, is a fantastic experience. I’ve returned with new ideas, new plot bunnies, and new lists of things to read and watch. I got to meet people I’ve only talked to online before. I got to see old friends. It was everything I wanted it to be and that’s really the best anyone can hope for out of a Worldcon.

(16) FIFTY-FIFTY. Theodore Logan and family attended the con together — “Hugo Awards”

At 12:00 I took Calvin and Julian to a kids’ meet-and-greet with American astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who flew on a recent ISS mission. He set up a slide show of pictures of Earth from space, talked about being in space, and answered questions from the kids in the audience. (I was surprised that no one asked about managing human waste in low earth orbit. When Calvin raised his hand I gave it a 50/50 chance that he was going to ask, but he asked something else.) Most of the kids in the audience were Finnish (and some required simultaneous translations from their parents). According to the membership statistics, there were only 19 child memberships from the US (and only 10 kid-in-tow memberships for kids under 6 like Julian). Half of the total child members were from Finland, explaining why they were well represented at the childrens’ programming track.

(17) WORLDCON CHAIRS PHOTO. From Kevin Standlee’s Flickr archive:

Worldcon Chairs 2017 (15)

(18) FANTASY MAPS. Paul Weimer joins the fray in: “Not the Territory: In defense of (Good) SFF Maps”

There have been a slate of articles lately about maps in fantasy. Alex Acks has talked about the terrible geology in Tolkien’s Middle Earth Map and then gone on to tell why they aren’t a fan of fantasy maps in general. Adrian Daub has talked about his love of maps, but the problems of Eurocentric maps. There are others, some of whom have been gathered by Camestros Felapton.

We’re at the point in the cycle where a defense of the form, of countering the arguments put forth, and by gum, as an amateur cartographer in my own right, I am the person to do so. It might be facile to hashtag #notallmaps, but, really, not every map is a geologic mess, not every map is a Eurocentric western ocean oriented map, with an eastern blend into problematic oriental racial types. Not every map has borders which strictly follow natural barriers and does not have the messy irregularity that real world maps and borders have.

(19) POSTER GIRL. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna profiles Roz Chast, who designed the poster for this year’s National Book Festival: “Roz Chast writes — and draws — a love letter to New York”.

In April 1978, at age 23, she dropped off her cartoon portfolio at the New Yorker offices on a whim. “I had no hope of selling a cartoon to them because my stuff didn’t look anything like the stuff they ran, but they used cartoons, so why not?” she recounts. “To my shock, I sold a cartoon to the New Yorker. [Comics editor] Lee Lorenz was extremely supportive and encouraging. I remember he told me that [editor William] Shawn really liked my work. I had no idea who he was talking about, but it sounded like a good thing, so I nodded appreciatively.”

[Thanks to John Hertz, Marc Criley, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Greg Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, and Stuart Gale for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 9/23/16 Is There In Pixel No Scrolling?

(1) WOKING UNVEILS WELLS STATUE. H. G. Wells only lived in Woking for 18 months, but the city’s theory is the time there had a big impact on his work, so they’ve put up a statue. This week saw the unveiling of unveiling of a seven-foot statue of the author, to honor his 150th birthday on September 21.

wells-holdng-sphere

Stephen Baxter, president of the British Science Fiction Association and vice president of the HG Wells Society, said: “HG Wells was in this very small town for a very brief period but in that time he produced a novel that changed forever mankind’s view of our infinite future in infinite space.”

Woking was a landing site for the Martian invasion in *War of the Worlds*; some years ago, sculpture illustrating the novel appeared around town. One can see a Martian tripod, a crashed interplanetary cylinder, and [SPOILER ALERT] a bacillus.

In a video on the *Get Surrey* site, sculptor Wesley Harland explains notable features of the work.

On the back of Wells’s chair is “802,701 AD,” the year his narrator visits in *The Time Machine*. Beneath the chair, the red weed from Mars creeps across the ground, as in *War of the Worlds*. And in his hand he holds a model of Professor Cavor’s spherical antigravity vessel, from *The First Men in the Moon*. Harland’s sculpture is made of bronze and, presumably, Cavorite.

(2) COWS IN SPACE. I discovered this on the back of a lunch-sized milk carton – the Cows in Space ttp://www.dairypure.com/cows-in-space game.

(3) THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. Mark Leeper had a little fun deconstructing the 1959 movie based on Jules Verne’s novel Journey To The Center of the Earth.

Last week I wrote an evaluation of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1959), one of my favorite movies of the 1950s and what I consider one of the great adventure films of all times. I find what is wrong with the film forgivable. But I would not feel right about just ignoring the many problems I saw watching the film recently. This is effectively an appendix to that essay listing problems with the writing of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.

Jules Verne’s novel leaned rather heavily on lucky coincidence. He started with a note falling out of a book where just the right person could read it. But that is a small coincidence compared to those in the 1959 adaptation. Walter Reisch’s and Charles Brackett’s screenplay seems to consider this a carte blanche and ver and over has fortuitous accidents pushing the story forward. Consider Arne Saknussemm who, knowing he would not return from his expedition, scratched his message into a plumb bob. Somehow this tool made its way back up to the surface from near the center of the earth. Along the way somehow this tool was lightly coated in lava so it look much like another rock. It managed not to fall into the sea surrounding the volcano. Then someone found the rock and sold it individually to a shop in Edinburgh where a student volcanologist found it. What do you figure are the chances of all that happening? Later an explosion blows off the lava jacket and the plumb bob is left shiny and legible once the lava is removed.

(4) THE BIG BOOK OF BIG BOOKS. John Scalzi’s latest piece for the LA Times takes off from Alan Moore’s epic Jerusalem.

Writer Alan Moore, perhaps best known for the classic “Watchmen” graphic novel, has this month released a novel, “Jerusalem,” to generally very positive reviews. There are many words to describe the novel (“epic,” “Joycean,” “vast,” and “show-offingly brilliant” are some of them) but the one word I think that every reader and critic of the work can agree is accurate with regard to the book is “long.” “Jerusalem” clocks in at over 600,000 words, a length that dwarfs such monster books as “Ulysses” (a mere 265,000 words), and exceeds  “Shogun,” “Infinite Jest,” “War and Peace” and either the Old or New Testament individually (but not together).

… When a single word encompasses such a wide range of objects, it has the effect of skewing people’s expectations. I’m a fairly standard working novelist, in that I publish about a novel a year. In one decade, from 2006 to 2016, I wrote eight novels; Alan Moore wrote one. In terms of novel-sized objects, it appears that I have ­vastly outpaced Moore, by a ratio of 8 to 1. But my novels ranged in length from about 75,000 words to about 130,000 words, with an average of about 90,000 words. So across eight novels, I’ve written — or at least, had published — about 720,000 words in novel form. Moore, on the other hand, published more than 600,000.

(5) SELF-PUBLISHED PATRONUS. A lot of Filers were mildly grumpy about the patronus that Pottermore picked for them, but unlike most, RedWombat was ready to solve the problem herself…

I got Chestnut Mare which left me with questions–like how you know it’s chestnut when it’s SILVER!–and also I’m not that fond of horses, so I took it again with a different email, got completely different questions…

And got Bay Stallion.

Filled with burning rage, I drew my own.

(6) TRILOGY TRAILER. Tor/Forge has posted a trailer for Cixin Liu’s Three Body Trilogy on YouTube. I watched it to find out why I should buy the books I’ve already bought. (Reminds me of that cabinet member in Dave justifying the budget to buy advertising that makes people feel better about the American autos they’ve already purchased.)

(7) ROCKET ARRIVAL. Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo arrived.

So maybe this is a good time for me to thank Elayne Pelz fo dropping off my Hugos this week. And I had John King Tarpinian shoot a photo:

mike-with-hugos-crop

(8) YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE. Atlas Obscura pays a nice graphical tribute to “Places You Can No Longer Go: Ray Bradbury’s House”, which includes one frame based on John King Tarpinian’s iconic photo of the shattered garage published in news services in January 2015.

(9) LONG TIME FRIEND. Scoop hosts Maggie Thompson’s tribute: “In Memoriam: David Kyle”.

That’s some of what a formal obituary would say, but I have to add that David was one of the fan friends I’ve always known: He and Ruth were friends of my mother and father and then of Don and mine, and their kids—Kerry and AC—grew up as friends of my daughter. In fact, our families even “traded daughters” some summers, and Valerie moved to New York City to room with Kerry the year she graduated from high school.

In recent years, David has been acting grandfather to Valerie’s son—and every time I’ve seen David, he’s been the same delightful friend I’ve known for years. His body grew weaker, but his wit continued to entertain friends and fans alike.

The post also tells some of the byplay between ultimate comics fan Thompson, and Kyle, who didn’t care for comics.

(10) SF-THEMED CAT SHOW. The Cat/SF conspiracy continues. Mark-kitteh reports, “The UK’s Supreme Cat Show (yes, this is a real thing) will have a SF-themed competition for Best Decorated Pen, and the theme continues with special guests appearing including Colin Baker, Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, John Leeson & Peter Purves.”

[Thanks to Bill Higgins, Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

So Long and Thanks for All the Puppies 5/1

aka The Good, the Bad, and the Yapping

Rachel Acks and Abigail Nussbaum begin the May Day roundup, followed by Mark Leeper, John Scalzi, Paul Kincaid, David Langford, Laura Mixon, Kiesa, and a colleague who has chosen a saner course.  (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Milt Stevens and Laura Resnick.)

Rachel Acks

“The Hugo Nomination Problem or, I Am a Bad Reader”  – May 1

I’m sure this does not reflect on me well as a human being. I also know I used to read a hell of a lot more back before I didn’t have a full time job and a part-time writing gig and a daily commute during which reading tends to give me severe motion sickness. But here it is, the call for help. I seriously need some helpful soul, or maybe some kind of crowd-sourced thing that can tell me what I should be reading as things come out so I’m not floundering under drifts of pages on book mountain when the Hugo nomination period opens. Preferably some recommendation engine where my fellow writers, bless you guys I love you all but damn I know how we are, are not allowed to nominate or push their own books. I don’t want reviews, I don’t even want opinions, I just want a simple list or titles and authors and maybe a helpful link where someone can say hey, I think this book should totally get a Hugo, and then other people who agree can maybe give it a plus one, and that’s it. Let me form my own opinions.

Does something like this already exist and I’ve just never seen it because I’m a failure at google? Is this something a complete computer incompetent like me could set up on her own site pretty easily? I’d do it in a heartbeat if I knew how.

 

 

Abigail Nussbaum on Wrong Questions

“The 2015 Hugo Awards: A Few Thoughts as Voting Opens” – May 1

In addition to No Award-ing the Puppies, there are two other categories where I will be voting No Award for all nominees.  I’ve already written about the Best Fan Writer category, and in addition I will not be voting to give a Hugo in the Best Novelette category, even though it contains a non-Puppy nominee in the form of Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s “The Day the World Turned Upside Down.”  Chance has written eloquently about the many problems with this story, which does not deserve to win a Hugo by default.

Speaking of Chance, she’s thrown herself on the grenade of the Rabid Puppies’ short fiction selections, and is reviewing them one by one with sad and hilarious results.  Her reviews are required reading, first if you like funny and snarky writing, but also if you’re still under the impression that literary merit has anything to do with this campaign.

 

Anna Kashina

“Hugo awards: what can be done to save them?” – May 1

Going forward, I believe that the best way to redeem the situation and restore the prestige of the Hugos (and perhaps the other awards) is to ensure that every nominator and voter actually *reads* the work they are voting for and actually considers it to be better than the other comparable works published the same year, based on valid criteria. Barring that, the awards have no meaning, I think everyone would agree to that.

How to achieve it practically?

For one, every nomination should be publicly listed, with the name of the person nominating and voting for each work openly accessible, along with the checked “yes” next to the questions on whether they personally read the work, and whether they truthfully consider it the best in the genre.

I would go even further, though. I would request for each nomination to contain a short paragraph of what you like about the work and what made it stand out for you and seem like it deserved the award. This information should also be made public from the start and required with each nomination (notably, reasons based on the race, ethnicity, and political and religious views of the author should not be permitted).

I am aware that this would probably drastically reduce the number of people willing to nominate. But I bet that no slate voting would be possible with this kind of a system. Even if a person is willing to outwardly lie on a public form, if the writeups for the slate voters are commonly generated through a campaign, this fact would become immediately transparent.

 

Celia Darrough on Bustle

“How The 2015 Hugo Awards Became A Battlefield (And Not Over Science Fiction)” – May 1

If the science fiction and fantasy literary genre has an Oscars, it’s the Hugo Awards. Since the 1950s, the awards have recognized the works of science fiction and fantasy (SF/F) greats, including Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, George R. R. Martin, and Michael Chabon. But, if you look at a complete list, you’ll notice one thing about the roster of past winners: A majority of them are white men. And this year fans, the media, and the organizers themselves claim there’s a conspiracy to rig the Hugo Award nominations to keep it that way.

Here’s what’s happening: For close to a decade, the Hugos have made strides toward increased diversity, with deserving women and members of minority groups added to the nomination list. (See: Octavia Butler, Ann Leckie, Saladin Ahmed, Nalo Hopkinson, N.K. Jemisin, and Ted Chiang, all of whom, save Butler, were nominated after 2000.) But the 2015 awards, whose winners will be announced in August, have become a battlefield as longtime supporters of the awards allege that two online groups known as the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies tried to subvert the nomination process, apparently to keep the awards mostly white and male — a statement that the leaders of the Sad Puppies — Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen — and the Rabid Puppies — Vox Day — vehemently deny.

 

Mark Leeper on MT Void

“The Puppy Crisis” – May 1

I think a lot of people have given in to a myth. The myth is what I think is a basic misunderstanding about what the awards are. In the case of the Hugo awards, the myth is that the fans have gotten together to pick God’s anointed best science fiction pieces published over the previous year in each category. Once they pick the stories democratically chosen by mutual consent to be the best they–the fans–have spoken. What they have chosen is God’s Anointed choice. It works like the selection of the new Pope.

Pardon me but that is not what happens when a novel wins a Hugo. The Hugo Award is not about the book; it is about the voters. In this case it is about the attending and supporting members of the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention. We all pretend that this is a reasonable set of people to judge and decide the question. We have pretended that for years. But they cannot make a book be the best novel. They can only decide as a popularity poll what book they most want to see win. Their choice tells you about them. It tells you something about the minds of the people, but voters do not make best novels. Writers make them.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“The Myth of SF/F Publishing House Exceptionalism” – May 1

Sanford is correct in his point that as a matter of books from Baen whose individual sales can compete with the sales of individual books from other science fiction publishers on a month-to-month basis, as charted by the Locus list, Baen’s showing is modest (the May Locus lists, incidentally, show no Baen books, whereas Tor shows up five times, Orbit five times, DAW four times, Del Rey three times, Ace and Harper Voyager once each, and non-genre-specific publishers like Bantam and Morrow taking the rest of the slots).

But does that mean Ringo’s larger assertion (sales of SF/F publishing houses are down since the 70s except for Baen) is false? Not necessarily! Here are some reasons Ringo might still be right:

  1. Ringo’s first assertion (SF/F publishing houses sales down since the 70s) is independent of how any individual title by any publishing house stacks up against any other title by any publishing house in the month-to-month or week-to-week horse races known as the best-seller lists. That a book is #1 on the Locus list one month does not mean it sold the same number of books as any previous #1; nor does it speak to the overall sales of any particular publishing house….

Ringo appears wants to make to two arguments: One, that Baen has experienced consistent, across-the-board growth in its sales where other SF/F publishers have not. Two, that this is due to Baen not publishing authors or tales that are “SJW”-y; only “cracking good tales” allowed, the definition of which apparently preclude any Social Justice Warrior-ness (although apparently may include any number of conservative/reactionary tropes)….

The second part of Ringo’s assertion, the implication that Baen’s continuous sales upswing is due to cracking good SJW-free tales, I’m not going to bother to address seriously, because what a “Social Justice Warrior” is at this point is something of a moving target, the most consistent definition of which appears to be “Anyone left of Ted Cruz who certain politically conservative authors want to whack on in order to make whatever dubious, self-serving, fact-free point they wish to make at the moment.”  I believe George RR Martin has recently been relegated to SJW status for being upset with the action of the Puppy slates and the Hugos; this is a curious maneuver if we’re talking “cracking good tales” and sales numbers as a proxy for… well, whatever they’re meant to be a proxy for.

It’s also bunk because while Baen is being used by Ringo as a synecdoche for a certain subgenres of science fiction (and the non-SJW agendas of the authors who produce it and the readers who read it), I have to wonder whether Baen itself wants that responsibility or affiliation. I mean, as just one example, we’re all aware that Baen published Joanna Russ, yes? More than once? Joanna Russ, part of the “new wave” of science fiction that Ringo identifies as a proto-SJW movement? Joanna Russ, who was the very definition of what is labeled a Social Justice Warrior before any conservative or reactionary person even though to spit such an epithet from out between their lips? That Joanna Russ? The only way that Joanna Russ does not fully qualify for retroactive SJW status is if the definition of “SJW” actually includes “cannot be published by Baen Books.” And yet, apparently, she could tell a “cracking good tale,” because that’s what Baen publishes. Strange!

 

Paul Kincaid on Bull Spec

“Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, April 2015: awards coverage, big announcements, new books, and more” – May 1

Look, I wasn’t going to talk about this, it’s not really in my remit, but the one thing the Sad Puppies have done is guarantee that the Hugo Awards this year are all about politics and nothing to do with the quality or otherwise of the works nominated. A win this year, in any category, and regardless of whether the winner was on a slate or not, will not have the cachet that a Hugo win once had. They have spoiled the awards even for those they are supposedly trying to promote.

 

David Langford on Ansible #334

“Dysprosium & Puppygate” – May 1

Since I consider slate voting a thoroughly bad thing, I expect to make judicious – though not indiscriminate – use of the No Award option on the final Hugo ballot. Meanwhile, all sympathy to John Lorentz’s hard-pressed Sasquan Hugo committee; to Kevin Standlee and others who’ll be running a perhaps overcrowded and fraught Worldcon business meeting at which anti-slate rules changes will be proposed; and to slate nominees who were unaware either that they’d been included or that this placed them in an exposed position on a new battlefield of the US culture wars.

 

Kiesa on Kiesa’s Mutterings

“Hugo 2015 Best Novelette”  – May 1

Up to this point, I was feeling really good about the novelette category. I could, without any reservations place the three slate stories below no award because I didn’t feel they were good. However, then I came to “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”. I felt this was a really good story. It is by far my favorite of the five options. The story pulled me in from the first paragraph. I got bogged down a tad during the journey to the alien world. However, once they landed it picked up again and had a great ending.

So . . . I’m still not sure how I’ll actually vote. I’ll probably vote in the order I’ve listed above. However, any stupidity that appears between now and when I place my vote may change my opinion.

 

 

Laura Mixon

“Yes. But.” – May 1

At the risk of yes-butting people over my report on Requires Hate/ Benjanun Sriduangkaew/ Winterfox, I want to respond to a few points that have been made in recent posts or in their comment threads regarding my Hugo nomination.

Kate Nepveu:   Yes, but (1) my statistics were poorly supported or cited, and (2) the wrong people commented on and/or supported my efforts.

Abigail Nussbaum:  Yes, but (3) perverse pie charts! plus (2) the wrong people commented on and/or supported my efforts.

Shaun Duke:   Yes, but (4) Requires Hate has stopped her abuses, apologized, and deserves forgiveness. [UPDATE: while I was adding links to this post in preparation for uploading it, I saw that Shaun Duke has apologized. I’m leaving my response to point #4 up, because I have heard others raising the same point, and I want my position to be clear.]

Geoff Ryman:   Yes, but (5) racism! The Sad Puppy/ Rabid Puppy attack on the Hugos is a much bigger problem than Requires Hate.

 

 

Evelyn Leeper’s Too-Hip Blog

When fanwriter Evelyn Leeper broke her hip on March 20, her husband Mark decided the best way for them to keep all their friends updated was to start a blog.

Mark wrote the first post from the emergency room of Bayshore Hospital.

Evelyn fell off the bottom step of the attic steps in our garage, hit her head, and it looks like she broke her hip. Right now I am waiting for her to return from the x-rays.

Evelyn began adding to the blog while she was still in the hospital. Now she’s back home but the recovery process has been painful, as she describes in her May 14 entry:

Leg pains (including knee pains and hip pains) come and go. I suspect the knee pains may be if I sit on a low couch, or drive some distance, with my leg bent for long periods of time. There is less pain from twisting around, though, so it seems things are improving. I can actually sleep on my side, somewhat curled up (which had been my favorite position for sleeping before all this).

Here’s wishing Evelyn a rapid and complete recovery with freedom from pain.

Who’s on First – Every Year

Dale L. Skran Jr. declares in his guest editorial for The MT Void #1720 that it’s time to end Doctor Who’s dominance of the Best Dramatic – Short Form Hugo:

The 2012 Hugo awards have just been announced, and the DOCTOR WHO Episode “The Doctor’s Wife” won Best DOCTOR WHO Episode of the Year. The 2nd place was taken by “The Girl Who Waited,” and the 3rd place by “A Good Man Goes to War,” also a DOCTOR WHO episodes. This Hugo was once given to non-DOCTOR WHO dramatic presentations, but since this has not happened in a while, the term “Short Form Hugo” will no longer be used, and instead was replaced by “Best DOCTOR WHO Episode of the Year.” …

It is too painful to continue. I submit to you that DOCTOR WHO was *not* the best SF TV show during the entire period from 2006 to 2012 with the exception of one program produced by this Whedon, who has the unfair advantage of being very talented and inventive.

Mark Leeper counters with some interesting points in his follow-up editorial:

You cannot determine quality democratically. You can only determine popularity by a vote. It is a misinterpretation of the Hugo to assume that the voting picks the best nominee. It chooses which nominee has delivered the most pleasure. And in theory that really can be DOCTOR WHO year after year.

Skran wants to redefine the category to cover series instead of individual episodes: at least that way Doctor Who can’t take up more than one slot on the ballot.

Votes Actually Matter, You See

Mark Leeper in MT Void 1596 discusses each nominee for 2010 Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, then makes this prediction:

So what do I think will win? No question that the smart money bets with AVATAR. I think it is already the most financially successful film since at least the fall of the Hittite Empire.

I don’t expect that kind of concession from a fan who personally witnessed Bladerunner win the Hugo. All through the summer of 1983 fans were publicly predicting a Hugo for box office smash E.T. while privately casting their solitary votes for the film they really liked — Bladerunner. And guess what happens when people don’t actually vote for the supposed front-runner?  

So, if Avatar isn’t the fan favorite this year then which film is? I’d have thought from the buzz surrounding it that the answer is Moon. Mark Leeper has a different idea:

What deserves to win? 60% of the films have strong anti-Establishment themes. That is a bad sign. I would rule out the two “My-Life-As-An-Alien” twins. If I look at the remaining three, UP would be the first to go, reluctantly. I am very ambivalent about STAR TREK. MOON is a nice uniformly good science fiction story. I think I would go with STAR TREK for the high points and try to forget Scotty getting jammed in the plumbing.

Update 05/07/2010: Corrected link, thanks to Petrea!

The Drink Tank’s Bicentennial Issue

The double-century issue of The Drink Tank (#200), its fourth annish, is more than historic — it’s a hoot-and-a-half. Chris Garcia and a whole slate of interesting fans have packed it with laughs.

When Chris invited Cheryl Morgan to contribute, the word annish seems to have been garbled in transmission. But who could have done a better job than Cheryl of envisioning traditional Amish fanac?

A fanzine produced by science fictional Amish, therefore, would be composed on an Apple Mac, or a Dell running Windows XP (which, incidentally, is still on sale in the future because Microsoft still haven’t got the bugs out of Vista, or whatever they are calling the latest release).

Cheryl shows that being a fine writer can take you far. Beth Zuckerman proves that fine writing combined with advance preparation goes even farther toward ensuring your convention experiences will yield great fanzine material. No conreport of mine can ever hope to achieve anything like her account of Arisia 2009:

I did have to seek out a t-shirt vendor, because while my 51-lb suitcase was fully equipped with rocketship pajamas, the ostentatiously unnecessary coin bra, an entire No. 6 costume with eyebrow makeup, a veritable mountain of lingerie, and a generous supply of little rubber things, somehow I entirely failed to bring anything to wear during the day before the parties started.

Pro wrestling is one of Chris Garcia’s passions. In this issue, his friend Bobby Toland has a lot to say about professional wrestler Kurt Angle’s need to learn humility, and how those lessons might be imparted. One of the hallmarks of good fanwriting is its ability to make fascinating a subject that ordinarily would be of little interest, which is my default response to pro wrestling. Toland held my attention from start to finish.

I also admired the trivia quiz “Fantastic Fours” by Frank Wu and Brianna Spacekat Wu. I answered more than half of them wrong, but everyone reading this review should be able to name the foursome composed of Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo.

Christian McGuire spends most of his time as one of the leading conrunners of the age, but thanks to Chris Garcia he hasn’t been completely lost to the world of fanwriting. Plenty of people will want to read all about McGuire’s adventures at Further Confusion 2009 once I mention that one of the lines in the report is: “A prurient Pink Panther holding up the tail of the Tiger before him offered Andy the choice to play jump rope with the tail. All I can say is that Andy can Double-Dutch with me any day.”

Leigh Ann Hildebrand is yet another friend of Chris’s with a great sense of humor. This is not even the funniest line in her list of “Five Things I’m No Longer Allowed To Do in the Fanzine Lounge”:

4. Not allowed to offer impromptu origami classes using materials at hand, even with the justification that it’s a form of performance art expressing my thoughtful critique of the phrase “core fandom.”

Every issue of The Drink Tank is highlighted by a combination of original art and assorted graphics liberated from the internet. An example of the latter, my favorite in issue #200, is the wry parody of RIAA’s anti-piracy ads showing a woman in a pre-WWI hairdo manipulating two Edison phonographs under the caption “Home Cylinder Duplication Is Killing the Music Industry.”

It doesn’t seem that long ago Chris was gushing poetically about what it might be like to produce his hundredth ish, at the time something only a select few active faneds like Arnie Katz, Knarley Welch and Mike Glyer could claim. Within five seconds after mentioning this in File 770, I immediately heard from myriads of offended fans who’d been left off the list, the most impressive being Mark and Evelyn Leeper who wondered what was the big deal, since their MT Void has published fifteen “one-hundredth” issues.

But the point is that it’s my turn to live vicariously through Chris’s experience. At the rate I’m producing issues there’s a good chance I will have to wait until 2028 or so to have a 200th issue experience of my very own. Great work Chris!

Snapshots 7

Here are three developments of interest to fans:

(1) Happy Birthday, Ursula K. LeGuin. A tribute to her at The Writers Almanac offers this insight:

An interviewer once asked her advice for writers, and she replied, “I am going to be rather hard-nosed and say that if you have to find devices to coax yourself to stay focused on writing, perhaps you should not be writing what you’re writing. And if this lack of motivation is a constant problem, perhaps writing is not your forte. I mean, what is the problem? If writing bores you, that is pretty fatal. If that is not the case, but you find that it is hard going and it just doesn’t flow, well, what did you expect? It is work; art is work.”

(2) Mark Leeper’s latest dissertation about the best Western movies of all time is online. It’s a fascinating list.

(3) Within five months of opening on Memorial Day 2007, the Creation Museum in Kentucky attracted 250,000 visitors and the world’s major media. And the satirical attention of sculptor Stephen Geddes, whose new exhibition includes “Jurassic Ark,” subtitled, “Noah Saves the Dinosaurs.” I hadn’t previously known that the Creation Museum teaches that Noah took dinosaurs on the ark. So from that viewpoint, will Geddes’ image of T-Rex swallowing Noah be any more theologically controversial than questioning how Noah survived every other carnivorous predator aboard the ark?

[Includes links from Chris Barkley, Evelyn Leeper and David Klaus.]

Clipping Service: Mark Leeper on iPod Ads

Mark Leeper writes in the 8/22/08 issue of MT Void: 

There is the problem that if you go through life with iPod buds in your ears people tend to assume you are a mentally-deficient anti-social techno-dweeb. It does not help that the Apple ads for the iPod seem to picture silhouettes of what appear to be mentally deficient techno-dweebs dancing like crazy to music only they can hear. And I am glad only they can hear the music. Before the iPod people carried these huge “boom-boxes,” awkward but portable stereo systems and they would inflict their so-called music on all who surround them. The iPod is a whole lot better technology. But the ads give the impression that the listener is engulfed in orgasmic, frenzied musical nirvana. And the person in the ads does not look like the sharpest cheddar in the cheese shop.